Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Top 10 songs of 2011 that you shouldn't not be listening to.

So, this is really happening.  Mainly, I just felt like telling you about music. Then I remembered I already had this blog set-up and...voilĂ ! New blog post. Yes, it's weak. Yes, it's short. Yes, it's basically just a list. But it's better than nothing, no? Whatever. Anyway, I think I just killed the "things I don't understand" meme(is it a meme if it's just me?), but you'll live...probably. So, without out further ado, here's my Top 10 songs of 2011. In order. Maybe. I believe these were all released in 2011, and they all in some way bore themselves into my brain. Some are popular, most are not. I'm guessing there's several you've never heard of. Some are deep or depressing or meaningful or uplifting or just flat out catchy (despite their troubling topic. See: Foster the People). But I think they're pretty, pretty good.  Here's a Spotify link of the whole list for your listening pleasure.

10. Pumped up Kicks - Foster the People
 This song took over the world. Only some people stopped to realize what it might be about.

 9. Mission Bells - The Apache Relay
  This is one of those bands that I just happened upon. They may even be Christian. Despite that, this is just one of those swelling, soaring songs that get me.

8. Helplessness Blues - Fleet Foxes
  I don't know. I just like it. And I think it says something. And in a way that's very listenable. It might be my anthem. Hell, in one way or another all these songs are probably my anthem.

  7.  Keep Your Eyes Open - NEEDTOBREATHE
   More Christian. Like for real. So making decent music is not completely beyond the genre. Which is good to know...I guess.

  6. Birds - The Submarines
  I saw this duo open up for Eels at The Grenada this summer. This song was embedded deep within my skull for a good while.

5. Putting the Dog to Sleep - The Anlers
  I really love this song. It's one of those I listened to, thought it was good, then looked at the title and thought, "What?", then I listened about 50 more times. It's really about that. But is still awesome.

4.  Shake it Out - Florence + the Machine
  A very late edition, but another one I could. not. stop. listening. to. Plus, Florence kinda does something for me. I'm convinced that she's the quirkier, artsier version of Adele. Which I like...more than Adele.  Also, I feel there's a pretty strong religious angle working if you listen.

3.  Couer D'alane - The Head and the Heart
  Technically, this one came out in 2010 but only 2 weeks before 2011 started so it's in. Saw these guys this spring. It only confirmed what their record seemed to suggest. Awesome. Honestly, it was hard to pick just one song off this album. Any of the last three artists really. But that's what I do for you, "...the things people will do for the ones that they love."

2. Poison & Wine - The Civil Wars
  To say this duo exploded in 2011 would be an understatement of epic proportions. Plus, they've got it. Whatever it is. Music is good.

1. We Will All Be Changed - Seryn
  I listened to this song the first time in about March, bought their album...then proceeded to catch them live 5 times before the summer ended. Yeah. Like I said, almost any song on their album is worthy of this list. You should probably listen to it yourself...maybe 50 times. Not that I know what that's like...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Things I don’t understand #82…

…Why I don’t observe Lent.lent_6316c

Okay, this is not entirely true. I know about Lent. I’ve heard that literally translated it means “Spring”. As a Christian it’s hard not to “observe” it, but my level of participation has always been quite low. After all, (as I have often said) there’s a reason I’m Baptist. But as the days(and years) pass, I’ve slowly come to realize that I’m missing an opportunity here. Hopefully, it’s not an opportunity to to prove how sacrificial I can be (“I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full”) but to be drawn back to the one who made the ultimate sacrifice.

It’s silly how silly we humans can be. We know that God came to earth, suffered, was tempted, suffered some more, and finally died on the cross as one final and definitive proof of his love. We KNOW it. But I wonder how often we remember it. I don’t. Instead I tend to dwell on all the stuff I already feel like I’ve given up in this life in the supposed name of my God and forget to recognize that no amount of forbearance on my part would even register on God’s scale. So after pleas from my current pastor and former pastor that I should consider giving something up for Lent, I think I might.

I think one of the reasons I've been so slow to embrace this practice is that my past contact with those “observing” this aspect of Lent many times involved them “giving up” things that needed no giving up. Non-coffee drinkers giving up coffee, teetotalers giving up beer, vegetarians giving up meat, non-duffers giving up golf…so I thought, “What’s the point?” Well, hopefully I've found the point. I found something to give up. In doing so I pray it will cause me to remember. Remember Christ’s suffering outweighed my suffering. That his temptation outweighed my temptation, that his holiness, righteousness outweighs my feeble attempts at godliness and religion. That Jesus’ sacrifice outweighed any the world has ever known. And that God’s grace outlasts all of my silliness and folly. 

I hope that the process of “giving up” will result in not only remembering the costs but the reward. That at the end of Lent, new life can be found. You know, the hope of Spring.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Things I don't understand #81...

…What’s a good Valentines Day gift.

So, it would seemed I dodged this bullet once again. (Hey, life’s a bitch.)(What? No, no. I said “life” and that’s what I meant.) But, I figured for all those poor saps out there staring down the proverbial barrel of the proverbial gun, I would try to help. It makes no difference if it’s a completely made up holiday or not, the clock for you is ticking like you’re heading into a ‘24’ commercial break. 

Anyhoo, you could get candy, but it’s lame. Pretty, pretty lame (Unless you’re 10…or attempting a little Valentines Day ironic humor). The default seems to be flowers. Do that, but don’t just hand them to her. That defeats the purpose. Sure, chicks dig flowers, but what they dig even more is their co-workers being jealous that they got flowers. I’ve made this mistake before, and well, look at me. So, flowers…delivered: check. Then there’s jewelry.  Honestly, I feel like jewelry is too substantial a gift to give on a made up holiday, but I guess if you’re rolling in dough, go nuts. But I feel like I need to introduce you to a little concept called “managing expectations.” I also hear there’s those(married, of course) who go the lingerie route. I think I grasp the pros of this approach, but it also seems there could be some definite cons.  I.E. the collective minefields of style and size (have you ever seen Hurt Locker?) and that fails to mention how the obviousness of your “motives” might be received. I wish you luck, but tread lightly, brother, tread lightly.

It should be obvious that you also must provide a nice dinner. As to what a “nice” dinner might mean for you and yours, I cannot assist. But this is not the “Price is Right”, so it’s much safer to ‘go over’. Oh, and if you uttered the phrase “Valentines weekend” at any point, I still want to punch you.

You’re probably starting to get a sinking feeling that this post is actually going to be no help to you at all. That really shouldn’t shock you, though. I mean, just log on to the Facebook and check my relationship status. Exactly. Consider this your first installment in the “Managing Expectations” lesson series. You might also notice that I offered no suggestions for the ladies out there. I don’t really think this needs explanation, but I feel safe in assuring you it will require no monetary outlay.

That reminds me, CBS Cares(my favorite PSA provider) has a gift idea that I somehow didn’t think of. Let me know how this one works out for you.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Things I don't understand #80...

...Hey, it is what it is. And as I end one sort of disappointment I'll probably immediately cause another sort. Because the topic of this blog(my first in more than a year) is the only serial entry. That's right, the BCS...or lack of a play-off...or most inexplicable situation is sports. Period.

The reason I'm still doing this some two months later than normal and 3 weeks after the college football season ended is two-fold. 1) I just read Death to the BCS. You should check it out. 2) I think what TCU did does give us a whole new perspective. If you're new and still not sure what's going on, uh, just scroll down about three posts. (Yeah, it's that.) I know, it's been awhile. Sorry. (Hey, I said, "Sorry." Back off.) Anyhoo, what Death to the BCS did was confirm all the things I believed might be true. It also revealed that the bowl system is more nefarious and ridiculous than I could have ever imagined. Basically, it steals money from institutions of higher education and provides "the man" outrageous salaries to put on one stupid game. What TCU did was confirm that the "little schools" do belong in the process of deciding a champion, which they currently are not.

So now we're going to see what a play-off would've looked like this year. If you want all the criteria, just scroll down. Despite what you might have heard, I clearly don't have the time. (Clearly.) As you view the first round match-ups, just imagine how great, how exciting, how riveting this would be. And don't be so quick to dismiss all those "small schools", either.

Fictional 2011 College Football Play-off Bracket

(1) Auburn (SEC Champ)
(16) Florida International (Sun Belt Champ)

(8) Arkansas (At Large)
(9) Michigan State (At Large)

(4) Stanford (At Large)
(13) Connecticut (Big East Champ)

(5) Wisconsin (Big 10 Champ)
(12) Nevada (WAC Champ)

(3) TCU (Mountain West Champ)
(14) Central Florida (Conference USA Champ)

(6) Ohio State (At Large)
(11) Virginia Tech (ACC Champ)

(7) Oklahoma (Big 12 Champ)
(10) Boise St. (At Large)

(2) Oregon (Pac 10 Champ)
(15) Northern Illinois (MAC Champ)

This year was interesting on a couple of fronts. The first team out was LSU which was ranked #11 at the end of the regular season. I think the highest ranked team ever left sitting at home. Because of that, the WAC ends up with the same number of teams as the SEC and Big 12. Talk about "level playing field".

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Things I don't understand #77...

...and #63 and #2. Oh the thing? It's the ability of people to proliferate utter nonsense in the form of the BCS(Bowl Championship Series).

Yes, it's that time again. So everyone stand up, face the north, and feel free to salute in whatever way you see fit. It's the annual(6 years running!) look at "what the NCAA should actually do to decide a football champion and reduce Jason's reasons for bitching by one." If you have any awareness of my rooting interests, you might be left thinking that I'm perfectly happy with the final match-up that the BCS supplied us. In that respect, I guess I'm good. But as a wise man once said, fairness is not demonstrated in the result but in the process. And the process stinks. This year we had 5 teams finish the season with an undefeated record. So they did everything they could possibly do to win a championship, yet every member of three of those teams knows that they have zero chance of attaining that goal.

We need a playoff. One where every team in every conference has a chance to win it all at the beginning of the season. So we need a 16 team playoff to allow every conference champion to get an automatic bid. Caveat #1: If that team has more than 4 losses, they forfeit their bid. (Sorry, but we are trying to decide a champion and if you can't get through a 11 game season without losing 5 times, then we already have a pretty good indication you're not championship material.) After the 11 conferences have their teams in, we use some BCS-style poll to get our at-large bids. Caveat #2: Each conference will be limited to no more than 3 teams. (This is just to ensure that conference biases do not take control. I'm sure there's some that would have 8 SEC teams in a 16 team field if they had their druthers.) We would then seed the teams by their ranking and then let the fun begin.

Were there to be a playoff, I think there would be some obvious repercussions. First as I alluded to, regular seasons would be reduced to 11 games. That's what they were until about 5-10 years ago and I don't think it would be too big a deal to return to that. Plus, that would still limit the games the two championship contenders would play to 15. (Texas and Alabama will both play 14 games this year, so 15 is by no means an egregious amount.) Second, there would be no more conference championship games. It would only be a hinderance for a conference's top teams to play each other when they might not have to. Once again, we had 100 years of college football with out any such games yet always found a way to find conference champions so I think they can figure it out. I must admit, I believe that these conference championship games are one of the main barriers to getting a playoff. That's because they are such monumental cash cows for the conference offices and their commissioners. Those commissioners control the BCS, and why would they give up all that money(and control)? But a guy can dream, can't he?

So, I've got this years NCAA Football Playoff Bracket. And based on all the factors listed above, it's a tad convoluted. Basically, I took into account the conference championship game to signify the winner of said conference be tried not to penalize the loser for a loss because I don't believe those games would be played. (I.e. Florida will get the #2 seed instead of #6.) Just in case you were wondering, the last team in is #13 Penn State. The first team left out is BYU(Sorry, Mormons). Behold:
(1) Alabama - SEC Champ (BCS #1)
(16) Troy - Sun Belt Champ (Unranked)

(8) Ohio State - Big 10 Champ (#8)
(9) Iowa - At large (#9)

(5) TCU - Mountain West Champ (#5)
(12) LSU - At large (#12)

(4) Cincinnati - Big East Champ (#4)
(13) Penn St. - At large (#13)

(3) Texas - Big 12 Champ (#3)
(14) Central Michigan - MAC Champ (#25)

(6) Boise St. - WAC Champ (#6)
(11) Virginia Tech - At large (#11)

(7) Oregon - Pac 10 Champ (#7)
(10) Georgia Tech - ACC Champ (#10)

(2) Florida - At large (#2)
(15) East Carolina - Conference USA Champ (#26)

Despite the fact that this is the 6th year I've done this and despite the fact that it will never happen, I still get a little giddy when I stop and imagine the match-ups and the potential 2nd round games. I can't imagine wanting to miss one of them. Yet, every year, we do.