Friday, January 30, 2009

The Wrestler

I went to the theater today and saw "The Wrestler" (it's not for the kids). 

You know when you see, hear or experience something that seems to knock the breath out of you. Yeah, this was one of the most sobering films I have ever seen.

Professional wrestling was a big thing for me while growing up. I grew up in the 80s and 90s, a key time-period for the organization that used to be the WWF (now the WWE), and WCW.

My brother and I used to watch these crazy matches on TV, all the time. Hulk. Ultimate Warrior. Andre the Giant. "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase. Big Boss Man. Undertaker. "Macho Man" Randy Savage. You name it. 

In '92, Dad took us to Busch Stadium II to see most of these guys (seriously, thanks Dad). It was quite the experience.

I don't really remember when I figured out that it was fake; but somewhere along the line, I realized that it was. Either way, this stuff couldn't be easy.

And, my goodness, this movie shows that side of it. I don't know that this movie exactly reflects what happens to the majority of professional wrestlers as they get later in life, but I wouldn't be surprised.

My point here is not to give the movie away, but to help frame that it's not a "fun" movie. It shows the miserable, dark and unforgiving side of that business.

These wrestlers are products. These products are humans. And these humans feel and hurt just like the rest of us.

On that note, I do highly recommend this movie. Just try to emotionally prepare yourself first. Leave some free-time on the back-end of the film. When I left, I felt like going to lay on my bed to stare at the wall.

Here's the trailer:

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Interesting Music Thoughts...

The following are a few quotes I found especially interesting; all included in a book I recently read, called The Mammoth Book of Sex, Drugs and Rock 'N' Roll.

From an article titled, "1963: The Beatles On Tour," by Michael Braun:

"Psychologists have been trying to discover why the Beatles send teenage girls into hysterics. One of them came up with this explanation: 'This is one way of flinging off childhood restrictions and letting themselves go. The fact that tens of thousands of others are shrieking along with her at the same time makes a girl feel she is living life to the full with people at her own age. This emotional outlook is very necessary at her age. It is also innocent and harmless. It is a safety valve. They are also subconsciously preparing for motherhood. Their frenzied screams are a rehearsal for that moment. Even the jelly-babies are symbolic." - News of the World 

-One of the silliest things I have ever read.

# # #

From an article titled, "An Afternoon With Syd Barrett," by Jenny Fabian:

"By the time I got close to Syd he was permanently tripped-out, and if he seemed more preoccupied with other-worldly things, it didn't matter, it was the same for me. Acid took us somewhere else, except that Syd never came back. I thought he was being poetic when he spoke about mental exile."

-Syd Barrett was one of the founding members of Pink Floyd. Fascinating guy.

# # #

From an article titled, "A Clash of Interests," by Miles in Time Out, December 15, 1978:

"The day after the press reception for the new album, vocalist Joe Strummer and drummer Topper Headon were to be found selling clothes at a cold open air stall in Dingwalls Market in Camden Town. 'We're broke, man, so you just have to do what you can,' Strummer shrugged. 'Bernie's kicked us out of our rehearsal studio and changed the locks.' Not long ago The Clash filled the Rainbow Theatre three nights in a row and then had to take the bus home because they couldn't afford a cab."

-All too familiar a situation

Monday, January 26, 2009

Andy Osenga: A Musician To Know

I'm not a music reviewer, and this isn't a music blog, necessarily. But there's an artist I feel the need to share about with anyone that's reading. I can honestly say he's one of my favorite artists in all of music.

Andy Osenga. 

Check out his website here.

He used to be lead singer in a band called The Normals. I saw The Normals at John A. Logan College in Southern Illinois, January 9, 1999. One of the coolest shows I've ever seen. I'll never forget their version of U2's "With or Without You" that night.

A group of 7 or 8 people had driven a number of hours to come to this show. When they arrived, it was sold out. Sold out so much so that no one else was allowed in to the auditorium, no matter how far they had driven.

They didn't leave.

Following the show, Andy found out about these people.

He brought his acoustic guitar to the lobby of the auditorium, sat down on the floor and played a few songs for them.

I enjoyed the moment.

Over the past ten years, Andy has done some amazing things in the music world. He is part of a great band called Caedmon's Call. He has produced lots of albums and written some absolutely killer songs.

A couple of my personal favorites are: "Coming to Life" and "The Priest and the Iron Rain."

Buy anything he's done. Whatever it is; it doesn't matter.

In the meantime, enjoy "Swing Wide the Glimmering Gates."


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Don't Underestimate AutoZone

We left the house this morning prepared to spend the day dealing with a "check engine" light on our new Honda. Sarah brilliantly suggested going to AutoZone to see if they could run a quick test and tell us what they felt was wrong. 

Our friend at AutoZone said we needed to fill the car up with gas, make sure we tightened the gas-cap, and the "check engine" light should go off in a day or so. 

Yeah. Sure.

So we went to the nearest gas station. Filled up. Turned the car back on. No more annoying alerts on the dashboard. 

It actually was that easy.

Price at AutoZone: the amount of money it took to put gas in the car

Price at the dealership: would have been $100, regardless of what they found 

Listening to Sarah: priceless

Music Recommendations

*These are not all new albums; but they are all good.

Ray LaMontagne - Gossip In the Grain 

Glasvegas - Glasvegas 

Coldplay - Viva La Vida / Prospekt's March (Deluxe Edition)

Tenth Avenue North - Over and Underneath

Rich Mullins - A Liturgy, A Legacy and A Ragamuffin Band

Kings of Leon - Only by the Night

Red - Innocence & Instinct

Foo Fighters - Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Community

You just can't do it by yourself. Well, technically you can; but it sucks. Lately here I've been seeing how much things change as time goes, as you get older. 

Think about your community. Not necessarily your actual town, but those around you that care about you. And, why did you even connect with those people in the first place? Family. Church. Work. Common interests. Common geography. A night on the town. Sports. College. Etc.

Sarah and I are in the process of joining our church, and community groups are an integral part of it, which is great. So great because we're seeing how much things change as time goes by. Relationships that were once strong, become distant. Our culture isn't built for camaraderie. It's built for solo. And solo gets lonely. And it's not a very good encourager.

I'm thankful for the friends I do have; for my community. I just have to work harder to see them now. Or, maybe I'm harder to find. 

When we are surrounded by those we love, it's simply better. The most amazing experience in the world isn't so amazing if you're alone. 

Of course, we all need some alone-time. But not all the time.

Reach out to your community - whatever that means to you. Maybe it's an old friend. Maybe it's a new friend. Maybe it's a family member. Whoever it is, just find them.

There's an old Simon & Garfunkel song called "Old Friends." Here are the lyrics, followed by a video of the guys performing it.

Old Friends, Old Friends
Sat on their park bench like bookends
A newspaper blown through the grass
Falls on the round toes, of the high shoes
Of the old friends

Old friends, winter companions, the old men
Lost in their overcoats, waiting for the sunset
The sounds of the city, sifting through trees
Settle like dust, on the shoulders
Of the old friends

Can you imagine us years from today
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange to be seventy

Old friends, memory brushes the same years
Silently sharing the same fears

["Bookends Theme"]

Time it was and what a time it was, 
It was...
A time of innocence,
A time of confidences
Long ago it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories;
They're all that's left you


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

We Aren't Who We Were

And I can't tell you how happy that makes me.

I borrowed that title from a line in the below NOOMA video, from Rob Bell.

I'm not old, but I've definitely lived enough life to know I'm glad things are different. And things will be different. The changes apparently never stop. The process never, really, ends.

Life has been nothing short of interesting for me over the past couple of years. Sarah, my bride, was brought to me in the most special way. God brought her when I least expected.

I had spent the prior few months completely checked out of life. My world had been knocked around a bit. I had had some rough times.

And there she was.

I was different. She was different. Life became different.

The next few months were both some of the best, and hardest, months of my life.

Best, because she was there.

Hardest, because real-change is not easy.

I knew the first night. We met to talk; to prove to ourselves this wasn't the one. But I knew. It's ridiculous, in retrospect. There she was. After all that had happened. There she was.

She is my second chance. My bride is my grace in human-form. She is truly my hero.

From here, life will continue to be interesting. Hard times will continue to occur. The changes will never stop, and I'm glad I understand that now.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Rob Bell, NOOMA, Heroes and Moving On

Rob Bell. A modern-day pastor and speaker that often comes under-fire from some Christians who don't consider him Christian-enough, or something like that.

Whatever.

This guy is amazing, and if you've seen any of his NOOMA videos, you'll likely agree. 

Below is a sample-clip from one of this videos, titled "Today." It really helped me when I first saw it. One of my co-workers thought it would be appropriate to share with the team during our last company retreat; and I'm glad he did. 

First, to see more of this guy's heart, this is part of a Rob Bell-interview I found online, at www.beliefnet.com. The interviewer asked Rob "who are the people, known and unknown, who have impacted you?

"I met a woman a few weeks ago who is part of our church. She's probably in her mid-50s, and she said when she and her husband were first married they were unable to conceive. So she and her husband went to an adoption agency and said 'Give us all of the children that no one else wants. Give us the children with the most severe and psychological emotional trauma. Give us the children with the worst physical challenges, and my husband and I will take them.' So she said that it has been 30, 35 years now and her house has been filled over the years.

At the time I was talking with her, she had a woman with her who was in her early 20s who was in a wheelchair, who was about six months old developmentally and apparently will stay that way. And she said to me, 'This is my daughter, and she can't communicate with me, but she can smile a little bit, and I can't imagine life without her.' She has to take care of this daughter 24/7, and she said, 'I just thought you'd find my story interesting.'

I'm kind of standing there kind of like, this is holy, sacred ground, this woman. This is the counterculture at its finest. This is one of my heroes. So I would say my heroes go from this woman I just met to the British scholar N.T. Wright, who has really taught me a lot. And I have a friend who grew up with me in southern California who decided he was going to do something about AIDS. So this white guy from Long Beach marches into these huge shantytowns in Africa and has become something of a legend in his own time. But has just given his life to alleviating suffering where it is needed most. So I have this whole list of people, some of whom are anonymous. I'm always most inspired by the ones who are anonymous and receive no glory."

Monday, January 19, 2009

New York, New York

Sarah and I are about to depart on our 1-year anniversary trip to New York City. Our anniversary isn't technically until May 10, but with the surprise of Harvey, the travel cut-off date is end of February. So, here we go. We couldn't be more excited. It will be our first time to fly together; and will be our biggest trip together since our honeymoon. We're going to stop by The Today Show, hopefully get in for Letterman and eat breakfast at Tom's Restaurant (the Seinfeld restaurant). 

In the meantime, this bird will be waiting for us*.
















*Picture taken by John during a prior NYC trip.

Welcome, Mr. President

Sunday, January 18, 2009

1001 rules for my unborn son

A brilliant website; and one I'm paying close attention to.


As the tag-line on the site says, 

"Let's get some things straight before I get old and uncool."

Harvey and the Cardinals

I'm a major St. Louis Cardinals fan. Kind of extreme, really.

Harvey doesn't have much chance on this one. If he really doesn't want to be a Cards fan, I seriously would be fine with that (just not yankees, please; I would rather it be Cubs). However, I'll be doing all I can to trick him in to it, in the meantime.

His bedroom is already being prepared, and I somehow have talked my bride in to letting us decorate it with Cardinals stuff (tastefully, of course).

I'm also working on getting him to a ballgame this summer. He's due during the month of May, that leaves over four months of the regular season. Plenty of time. 

Here's an example of the kind of artwork that will be on his walls...































Thursday, January 15, 2009

Red: "Death Of Me" music video

Amazing music video from a killer band. Innocence & Instinct, the album featuring "Death Of Me," releases February 10, 2009.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously, Among Other Things

*This is addressed to myself (john)...

Don't take yourself too seriously. Seriously, it's not worth it. 

Don't try to do or say things to look cool and fit in when you know it's not who you really are. Don't get too caught up in fleeting thoughts and recognition. Do all with integrity. Focus on things that actually matter; things that will last.

Just be. Try not to always worry about doing.

If worry you must, at least put it on worthwhile things, such as Sarah and Harvey's safety and health. But remember, God will take care of them; always. There's nothing you can do to change certain outcomes. 

Don't ever make someone else feel stupid so that you can look cool. Don't pretend to know things that you don't know anything about. 

Don't forget who brought you to the dance. Don't forget that someone's watching your every action, especially Harvey in a few months. Don't forget the little things. 

Don't let work take over. Don't let pride get the best of you. 

Always remember that you don't deserve any of what you have.

Love your bride above all else; she is your number one. Remember that you have been commanded to do this; and you vowed to it.

Love well. Love strong. Love always.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Offensive Phrases

Yesterday, Sarah and I were in a class at our church. The leader gave each of us a foam cup and asked us to use the cup to creatively show what we think of when we think of the word, church

I immediately knew what I wanted to say, but surely there had to be something else I could communicate.

Nope. I knew it wouldn't be the most comfortable thing, but this quote had impacted my life too much. I simply wrote it on the cup. It goes like this...

"The Church is a whore, but she's my mother." - St. Augustine

During times in my life when I either wasn't going to church, or didn't want to go to church, this quote haunted my thoughts. "The church is a whore, but she's my mother." 

The church is us, and this quote makes total sense to my heart and mind. You see, separating these two ideas is impossible. As hard as this may be for some to swallow, this quote has given me lots of hope through the years.

One of my favorite authors, Tony Campolo, explains the quote exquisitely. This is an excerpt from Campolo's book, Letters To A Young Evangelical.

"It is certainly true that our congregations have, at times compromised the radical requirements of discipleship prescribed by Christ, and you may find yourself put off by the church because of its failure to be faithful to his teachings. But I would urge you to consider this fully, and to think about the words of St. Augustine: "The church is a whore, but she's my mother." That statement brilliantly conveys how I feel about church. It is easy for me, like so many of the young Evangelicals I know, to note the ways the church been unfaithful as the bride of Christ... Unquestionably, the church too often has socialized our young people into adopting culturally established values of success, rather than calling them into the kind of countercultural nonconformity that Scripture requires of Christ's followers (Romans 12:1-2).

Why, then, do I encourage you to participate in organized religion and commit yourself to a specific local congregation? Because, as Augustine made clear, the church is still your mother. It is she who taught you about Jesus. I want you to remember that the Bible teaches that Christ loves the church and gave himself for it (Ephesians 5:25). That's a preeminent reason why you dare not decide that you don't need the church. Christ's church is called his bride (11 Con 11:2), and his love for her makes him faithful to her even when she is not faithful to him.

Through the ages, God has used the church to keep alive and pass down the story of what Christ has done for us. It is the church's witness that has kept the world aware that Christ is alive today, offering help and strength to those who trust in him. The story of Christ would have been lost during the Dark Ages if the church had not sustained it in monasteries where the Scriptures were laboriously hand-copied while barbarians were tearing down the rest of Western civilization. Church councils have protected Christianity from heresies by examining new theologies. Today, it is against two thousand years of church tradition that our modern-day interpretations of Scripture are tested. In short, it is the church that has preserved the Gospel and delivered it into our hands."

Name-Dropping

In my profession, name-dropping is taboo; but, whatever. 

Nearly 4 years and 30 lbs. ago, I had the chance to help put together an event that involved Alan Parsons.

I could sit here all day trying to list this guy's credits, but I'll just mention a couple. 

He engineered Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and also did engineering work on The Beatles' Abbey Road album. Two projects with reasonable importance in music history (understatement), but Parsons' resume goes much further.  Read more about him here.



















Sunday, January 11, 2009

Music for Harvey

Harvey just heard two specially-selected songs. 

Elton John's "Your Song"

And 

Billy Joel's "Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)"

I can only assume that he is extremely intrigued by these new-found sounds, and can't wait until the next time.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Lessons from Monopoly

There's a fabulous author called John Ortberg. I read his book, The Life You've Always Wanted, about a year ago. I'm currently going through a video-series based on his book, When The Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box.

Although I'm yet to read the latter, its inspiration has already changed my life.

Ortberg's grandmother used to always beat him at Monopoly. When he finally won, the game was over and she said it was time to put it all back in the box.

What?

Over so soon? No glory to revel in?

I just watched the Tennessee Titans lose in the playoffs, after HIGH hopes of making it to the Super Bowl. Just like that, it was over. 

And that's it. No further success for the year. Nothing else to get excited about, other than next season. Just like that, it comes, and more importantly, it goes.

When the St. Louis Cardinals won the 2006 World Series, I wasn't sure what could be better. 

Wait. Really?

Yeah, I mean that. But now I see that I only want them to win again, and again, and again. It's never enough. Winning it all is not enough.

Oh, and I've thankfully learned in the intermediary, that it does get better than a World Series championship. (they're at the mall right now).

Back to Monopoly, although this is all the same point.

Time keeps going. Your "moment in the sun" may arrive, but it will fade, and quickly. Or, it may never come like you think it's going to, or like you think you deserve. 

Look towards things that actually matter. Don't worry about the absolutely meaningless things that seem important, only to soon realize that you wasted time.

When you do die, all of your toys and trophies and money, will be meaningless to you. Instantly. 

This world will go on without you.

Make sure the time you did spend, was spent well.

Latest Harvey Image (thumb-sucking)

I must say this is one of the most precious things I've ever seen...not that I'm partial or anything.















Thursday, January 8, 2009

Grandpa's Ties

My Grandpa Quentin was one of my most favorite people in the world. Unfortunately, by the time I was becoming old enough to have man-to-man conversations, and actually understand the importance of spending time with him, those chances were gone.

Saying he was an awesome guy is a royal understatement. He was definitely one to look up to. He loved his wife, his family, his church, his town.... 

Towards the end, he needed a lot of help. Those he had sacrificed on behalf of for years, were there to take care of him. I learned a lot during that time. 

Alzheimer's is one of the hardest diseases to comprehend. I will never understand it. 

Love has been modeled to me in many ways, but few as complete as the story of these two people.

You see, his wife, my precious Grandma Louise, has loved him nearly her entire life (she certainly still does). From the stories she's shared with me, her interest in him started around age 16. She's now 89.

They married on January 27, 1944. That was during World War II. FDR was president. The Braves were still in Boston.

I'm currently looking at a copy of the message/vows that Pastor Miller used during their wedding ceremony.

Grandma Louise agreed to the following:

"In taking this young man you hold by the right hand as your lawful and wedded husband, you must, in like manner as he, in the presence of God, His Angels, and these witnesses, promise to be unto him, in all walks of life, like joy, sorrow, prosperity and poverty, a loving and devoted wife, leaving all others, cleaving wholly unto him. Do you so promise?"

And did she ever.

On Christmas morning (2008), Grandma gave each of her grandchildren, a framed-sampling of Grandpa Quentin's ties. And, of course, cried in the process.

Theirs is a love to follow. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Some Notes From Mom

Ok, so I never write on here (and once I'm finished, you'll all know why).  But I have a few thoughts and observations about what I already know about little Harvey.  Definitely not as eloquent as my John, but this will have to do.

First, Harvey is quite the busy boy.  He is really starting to toss, turn, roll, and softly punch all over.  I have no idea what he's so busy doing.  Perhaps some underwater basket weaving. That's what it feels like.  He is most active, strangely enough, when I'm hungry.  He really must be pulling hard on the umbilical cord for room service.  So, first lesson, he knows what he wants, and he wants it in his timing.  Just like his mama.  Trust me, I don't willingly wait around for food--just ask John. :) 

Second, he is already quite the stubborn little guy.  It is our ultimate quest right now to be able to feel all these little movements on the outside.  So I will feel him squirming, touch my belly where I feel him move, and then he stops.  I'll hold my hands there for a minute, and when I let go, TONS of quick movements.  That immediately cease when I touch again.  The best is when John tries to catch him.  He will sit there for several minutes moving his hands all over to catch any possible movement.  Within minutes of John giving up, Harvey is back to playing Dance Dance Revolution once again.  So he's already doing just the opposite of what we want.  So stubborn, just like mom and dad.  We're so proud.  

And finally, this boy's got some attitude.  We were watching him during the ultrasound yesterday, and he was really busy with his hands near his face.  He was sucking his thumb for a bit and then "lost" his hand.  He kept trying to get it back, and after a couple attempts, he would shake his fists back and forth really fast, temper tantrum style.  That's what I like to see.  If at first you don't succeed, get really stinkin' mad.  That's what mom and dad would do.  

So far, Harvey has quite a personality.  He's picked up on some of our finest qualities.  Boy are we going to have our hands full!  And we will love every minute of it.  It's so fun to already know this little boy that isn't even "here" yet, and to love him so dearly already.  

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Complete Mesmerization (and some confusion)

Sarah had her 20-week ultrasound today. This was an important one to check in on little Harvey.

As I sat and watched the monitor where his little movements could be seen, I think I finally realized just how amazing this whole process really is. No word, or combination of words, is apropos to describe what's really happening here.

Miracle? Yes. But that word has been worn-out on this topic.

There are two thoughts/questions that continue to come to my mind and heart as we go through this.

Really?!?

and

Seriously?!?

Again, no eloquence here. Simply an admission of speechless-amazement as I watch my Creator craft a completely unique human soul.

One that shares not only part of me, but the one I love most.

And I already saw him suck his thumb.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sarah Photo Update: Week 20

20 weeks down. Little Harvey's moving more and more, all the time....

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Harvey Clore For President

It's a boy.

We found out earlier than we thought we would.

His name is Harvey Logan Clore.

Harvey's great-great-grandpa was Harve (no y; pronounced Harv) Clore.

Logan is a family name from Sarah's side.

Now the fun has really begun....

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Impact of the 1960s

Every decade has its memorable/infamous/impactful moment(s), but the United States of America of the 1960s, was hit really, really hard with its share.

Most decades pass with few, if any, high-profile killings, but there were a number of them during the 1960s. John F. Kennedy was murdered on November 22, 1963. We lost Malcolm X on February 21, 1965. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed on April 4, 1968. Robert Kennedy died from gunshot wounds on June 6, 1968. These events alone are HUGE points in our nation's history, but......

There was Vietnam. There was the Civil Rights Movement. There was Woodstock. There was the "Summer of Love." Charles Manson. The British Invasion, especially that band called The Beatles. Bay of Pigs. MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech. Hendrix. Joplin. The Doors. Pink Floyd. Motown Records opened. Psycho. Breakfast at Tiffany's. The pill. Cuban Missile Crisis. Cash went to Folsom. Haight-Ashbury. Monterey Pop. 

And then, the love ended on December 6, 1969. Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death by a member of the Hell's Angels, who were acting as security, at the Altamont Speedway Free Festival in northern California. This, while the Rolling Stones performed on-stage, just feet away from the incident.

I'm working to become a music/cultural history professor someday. Random thoughts like this will often pop up as I get deeper into my studies.

And for those (like me) that weren't alive during the 1960s, this is also a reminder of just how important that decade was.
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