Friday, September 28, 2007

Interview: Soular

I had the opportunity a month or so ago to sit down with Marsh from Alberquerque-based Brit rock outfit, Soular, and talk about music and art. You'll find the Stereo Subversion interview here:
Interview - Soular


Most of you know that I've been writing reviews for some time now for Infuze Magazine and have been garnering some good experience their along with watching my CD and movie collection grow as well. Well, now the experience is about to amp up that much more with a little promotion I've received. My good buddy Matt Conner is stepping down from his responsibilities as music editor there to pursue his own site, Stereo Subversion, which I'm fortunate enough to be involved in as well, and has handed the reins over to me. It's going to be tons of work, lots more free stuff, and great experience. If you haven't yet checked us out, go ahead. You know you want to! Do it for me...

I've Missed This Guy

Just last week one of my oldest friends called me up to let me know that he and his family would be in Orlando for the week. So, this past Wednesday evening Erin and I bailed on work a hair early to make the trek across the state and visit my good buddy Walter, his lovely wife Paula, and their darling little girl Natalie. It was so good to catch up. We all reflected on how great it is to just have things pick up where we left off. Those are the best of friends. Now we're gonna have to make the trip to Massachusetts one day to visit them! Here's some pics:

This last pic was on the trip home...Good stuff..Kept it on his head sleeping for a while, too!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Review: Tension - Dizmas

I've become a wee bit hardened the past couple of years against much of what the contemporary Christian music community has put out. So much of it is derivative, unimaginative, and just ends up sounding like the band before them. So, here's what I can say about the new album from Dizmas: Its a good listen in that it does sound good, with solid production and able performances, but, well, it sounds like everybody else. Check out the Infuze review here:

Review: The Kid EP - Identity Relief

I tend to shy away from Christian indie artists because, at least in the experiences I've had, they tend to be less than listenable. Weak production and even lesser lyricism and musicianship tend to be the norm. It's not a good thing for the Christian community. Yet, as of late, I've found myself pleasantly surprised at the good to come out of that very same niche. One such artist is Identity Relief, based out of Birmingham and bringing an eclectic and encouraging voice to the musical community. Check out the Infuze review here:

Review: Determined - CO3

Country music has always had a decent standing within the Christian community until there is an attempt to make a "Christian country" album. At that point, things tend to get a little weird and the community as a whole has not really embraced many new artists to the genre. CO3 isn't going to break that mold. Talented fellas but just not enough wow factor to break through in my opinion. Here's the Infuze review:

Review: Goin' Home - A Tribute to Fats Domino

Most folks from my generation only know Fats Domino from the occasional snippet of his that gets played in a few films or from watching re-runs of Happy Days. Yet, Fats was one of the early innovators of rock 'n roll and lent a great voice to the town of New Orleans as well. This collection is a mixed bag but brings a nice sense of reminiscence along with monies that go to a good cause. Check out the Stereo Subversion review here:

A Conversation With Tyler

At the house:

Me: Tyler! Want to go to the store with me to buy some ice cream?
Tyler: Sure! Let me put my shoes on!

In the car on the way:

Me: So Tyler...We're going to go someplace special tomorrow.
Tyler: You mean today?
Me: No, tomorrow. We're gonna go someplace special tomorrow.
Tyler: Tomorrow is today.
Me: No. Listen. What's the sun doing right now? Going down?
Tyler: Yeah.
Me: Well, when the sun comes back up again it's tomorrow.
Tyler: And then we're going to the special place?
Me: Yes! After school.
Tyler: I want my Mommy...
Me: Mommy's going to go too, Tyler!
Tyler: What special place?
Me: It's a place called Orlando. We're going to visit one of Daddy's good friends.
Tyler: Tonight?
Me: No! Tomorrow...
Tyler: So we're going to Orlando now?
Me: No! We're going to get ice cream!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Dreams, Goals, and Reality

The past several weeks and I might even say, months, have found me pondering the ideas of dreams and goals and, yes, reality. It's funny how many dreams we have when we're growing up. I remember wanting to be a fireman (who didn't!), an astronaut, and more. There were so many dreams then and they all seem so far away now. What is it about time that steals away our propensity to dream? Is it that we find ourselves suddenly adults, with responsibilities and jobs and the like that causes us to lay our dreams aside to simply pay the piper? Or is it something more, perhaps even something more sinister that sneaks in to steal our hearts and drive us to monotony?

I'm not really sure of the answer but I have a sneaking suspicion that it's a hybrid of both. It's true that some of our dreams fall prey to others and that the golden age of adulthood often finds us more disillusioned than inspired. Yet, I also believe that we do wrestle against things that are unseen, and that this particular enemy is not thrilled with us pursuing our dreams. He'd rather us lie listless, unimaginative, and virtually dead. I also think that many times we're our own worse enemy, allowing negative thoughts and those ideas of "I'm too old" or "I'm past that stage of my life" to derail us from some things that we truly crave.

As I've pondered this, I've sat back and tried to recapture some of those dreams of my youth and to really ask myself what dreams I have now, if any. In places that I haven't found any, I'm trying to reignite my imagination, bringing dreams to bear. Yet, there are a few older dreams that still linger from the past and those I'm silently working to plot a course to fulfill. We are not our age. And, for those of us who call ourselves Christ-followers, we are not necessarily held to the confines of this world either. The sky is the limit where God is concerned. I'm just excited to see what the sky really looks like.

Look Out World... wife's blogging now! After watching me keep up this incessant task, Erin has finally decided to try out the dynamic world of online journaling. Check her out here:

Erin Greenhalgh

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Shuffle Resurfaces...

Okay, for those regular readers...Alright, so I'm probably the most regular reader of this thing but, just in case there is one more of you out there, I know you're probably getting sick of this somewhat pointless exercise of tracking my itunes shuffle. Yet, this is my blog and not yours. So suck it up. I'm still in the process of uploading music and just recently surpassed 9118 songs. Holy crap! That's spooky! But, I digress. So, without further ado, here's the new shuffle:

1.) "Battling Kings" - VeggieTales, from the album, The Incredible Singing Christmas Tree

2.) "Something's Got a Hold on Me" - Etta James, from the album, Etta James: Her Best

3.) "O Holy Night" - Celene Dion, from the album, Now That's What I Call Christmas Vol. 2

4.) "There is Healing in His Hands" - Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, from the album, Live...With Friends

5.) "You Thought Wrong" - Kelly Clarkson, from the album, Thankful

6.) "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks" - Andrew Peterson, from the album, Behold the Lamb of God

7.) "The Christmas Spirit" - Johnny Cash, from the album, Christmas With Johnny Cash

8.) "Boy Tell the World" - Apologetix, from the album, Adam Up

9.) "Wonderful Christmastime" - Jars of Clay, from the album, Christmas Songs

10.) "Maranatha" - Lisa Gerrard & Patrick Cassidy, from the album, Immortal Memory

11.) "Will You Marry Me?" - Lauren Talley, from the album, Lauren Talley

12.) "Love Moves in Mysterious Ways" - Michael English, from the album, Hope

13.) "My Christmas" - Brett Williams and In Reach, from the album, Christmas on the Rock

14.) "If God Didn't Care" - Jake Hess, from the album, Jus' Jake

15.) "Summertime is Past and Gone" - Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, from the album, The Complete Million Dollar Quartet Recordings

Weird how the Christmas stuff keeps popping up even though it's clearly the minority in there...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

This is Great Stuff...

I really enjoy Dan Kimball's stuff. He's probably the guy that I most identify with within the emergent conversation, largely because he sees things from a fairly moderate perspective. His latest blogpost speaks of the new series that they're starting. This is gonna be good stuff. I'd just really like to be a fly on the wall. Check it out:

Don't Be a "Christian": Exchanging Religion for the Mission of God

Out of Darkness...Hope?

Just thought I'd toss in a bit of personal commentary here, albeit mysterious and noncommittal as well. Things in my life have been, well, somewhat of a toss-up as of late, particularly along the lines of the spiritual and whatnot. Let's just suffice it to say that there are early indications of a break in the clouds. Keep your fingers crossed...

Review: The Needles The Space - Straylight Run

Excellent. Solid. Great. Just a few simple words to describe this release by indie darlings Straylight Run. This one is well worth a few spins on your ipod. Here's the Stereo Subversion review:

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


This picture from PostSecret really resonated with me today. Check out the PostSecret site for some amazing art and confessions. It's a very powerful and very interesting experiment!

Sports Passions Gone Awry

Even as a fan, I'll never understand this kind of mentality...

Football Rivalry Sparks Bloody Skirmish

Monday, September 10, 2007

Vision and Initiative

Just last week, on a proposed "date night", my wife and I found ourselves having an emotionally draining and difficult discussion. Much of our conversation centered upon aspects of our current life. Neither of us really feels that this is where our "five-year-plan" really initially aimed for, especially as relates to my current situation. The honest truth is that I'm working a dead-end job that has no real potential nor significant financial contribution even. The result is that we're a bit on the poor side and find ourselves stressed not only by the monetary strain but also by the emotional, physical, spiritual, and whatever else side weaves it's way within.

On the other side of that coin is my struggle with the Church. Some may question how this plays a part in the discussion but it's truly integrated, especially given that at one time my desire was to work from within the Church, serving in that capacity. Now, I'm not so sure that I fit there anymore and that leaves things in a bit of a lurch. The thing that I honestly had to unpack to Erin was simply the uncertainty I have regarding the future right now and that "I really don't know what to do."

So, with this dialogue as fuel last week, I've been doing a lot of thinking, praying, and contemplating on our past, present, and future. And the conclusion that I've come to as of late is that I need to honestly ask myself what my dreams are, what my goals are, where my desires lie. This sounds like a simple thing, and for many it is, but for me, it's a dangerous question. I desperately want to be in the will of God and also want to be fulfilled in the career path I choose. And while I understand that the two will go hand in hand, the road down the path is a slippery and scary one for me. I'm afraid that I'll find myself trudging down a predictable path of financial security, which is not necessarily a bad thing, yet laying aside my heart and life. I am petrified of working for work's sake, of slaving over something that I don't believe in. That's part of my current frustration, particularly as over the years I've come to resent much of the Christian retail market.

And through all of that, I'm asking myself questions. What are my dreams now? What are my goals? What are my talents? And, perhaps most importantly, how can I utilize them to truly achieve those things I dream about? I don't know the answers to these questions yet but, somewhere deep down inside, I feel like I'm starting out on the right path for the first time in a long time.

Review: Manifesto - Pocket Full of Rocks

A couple years ago I found my ears tuned into the worship from this new group Pocket Full of Rocks. There main claim to fame was having penned a song that CCM hero Michael W. Smith had covered but their debut had some soaring vocals and compelling tunes. So, I was interested to see what would happen the second time around. Unfortunately, PFOR hit the sophomore slump this time around and created an album that is a little too CCM friendly for this boy. Here's the INFUZE review:

Guilty Pleasure Delight

Okay, so I've been sort of lax with this whole desert island gem/guilty pleasure posting thing that I'm sure all four of you were anxiously waiting to read each day. I apologize. It's entirely my fault and there's really nothing I can say. But, suffice it to say, I'm going to try and do better. Consider this post a step toward redemption.

Anyway, I'm going to shift things a little bit here, just because I can, and share a bit of a guilty pleasure that I've partaken of ever since I was a wee little lad. For the unaware, although I'm pretty sure that those who may stumble upon this are already aware, I grew up in the South. On top of that, I grew up in a family that was really proud it was from the South. My folks were and are die-hard civil war buffs who can expound upon just about every battle, every general, and every nook and cranny that holds the remotest possible interest from that hallowed time. We were southern cooking folk, indulging in bacon, fried chicken, and the like as a holy ritual. We were Hee Haw and Dukes of Hazzard folk, and to tell the truth, I still long to take a ride in the General Lee. And to top it all off, we fell, really as a family, for the charms of one bumbling yet lovable Ernest P. Worrell.

If the name doesn't strike an immediate chord in your mind, you've apparently grown up somewhere else. For us, Ernest was the best of slapstick low-brow comedy, with hilarity ensuing in films like Ernest Goes to Camp, Ernest Goes to Jail, and the holiday favorite, Ernest Saves Christmas. Jim Varney's "Aw shucks" hilarity and pratfalls made this ole' southern boy laugh many a time and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Now, having grown and matured and developed a taste for cinematic features that are perhaps a bit more avant garde, perhaps a bit more respected, I realize that I really shouldn't like Ernest. But I can't help it. I'm only broken hearted that there'll be no more from Ernest since the untimely passing of Jim Varney in 2000.

But, Ernest will forever live on in my thoughts and memories as a great character. So, I present to you yet another one of my guilty pleasures, Mr. Ernest P. Worrell:

Friday, September 07, 2007

Review: The Storm - Travis Tritt

I've been a Travis Tritt fan for a long time. I don't have a big collection of his records but I've always been a fan of that blues-infused country twang that the country star always put to good use. His last album, while holding a few gems, left a little to be desired, especially with topical yet bad call tracks like "The Girl's Gone Wild". Apparently, his record company felt the same way and Tritt found himself now an indie artist. The result is The Storm, a mixed bag of results, some solidly good, others not so. Here's the INFUZE review:

Wednesday's Prayer

This past Wednesday, we went to our church's monthly mid-week service, appropriately called "First Wednesday". This was my one-sided dialogue with God.

"I've lost the sense of experience that should accompany worship. As I write, I listen to one gentleman behind me praising spontaneously; beside me one of the pastors falls to his knees, arms raised in abject worship, tears flowing freely. I don't have that. I know what You've done, I know that You've shown us the Way, The Way of peace and love. But, I don't know. I guess maybe I'm bitter...But I don't really think it's that. I truly think that maybe it's just...Well, I was going to say afraid, and that's part of it, afraid of being hurt, of being so deeply wounded by that which I truly love so dearly. But it's even more than that. Some days I even question You! Your grace once fit into a system; it made sense. But as I grow, as I get older and reflect more, I'm confused. I mean, and You know I've been thinking about this lately, but my greatest sins have come after my so-called "salvation". My iniquity has been in full view of You and, truthfully, I've known better. And, here's the kicker, I know I'm forgiven. I even, to some degree, know You love me. But God, as fucking childlike as it sounds, I want to feel it! And as I sit here now, with my wife I know wanting peace for me, I long for You! But, I'm just not sure this is even me anymore."

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Review: It's Not Big It's Large - Lyle Lovett and His Large Band

I've been a fan of Lyle Lovett's "Aw shucks" brand of country for some time now and was excited to see a new release come. Fairly gospel in nature, this release continues the artist's great flow of minimalist songwriting and compelling instrumentation, coupled with a keen sense of humor that is always aided by Lovett's simple humility. Good stuff. Here's the INFUZE review:

The Spirituality of BBQ

From my earliest memories, I can recall eating barbecue. Growing up, such things as barbecued ribs, barbecued chicken, smoked mullet, and more were fair game on our dinner table. Even burgers and hot dogs were given the charcoal treatment quite a bit. And all in all, it's made a lasting impression on me. While some call a pot roast and veggies or a big Thanksgiving turkey comfort food, barbecue is my sweet comfort. And while I worked toward preparing some for dinner the other night, I found myself considering the spiritual allegory of good barbecue.

Now, when I speak of good barbecue in this sense, I'm talking about the school of "low and slow". We're speaking the language of smoked ribs, chicken, brisket, and butts. And incidentally my choice this fine day was a nice Boston butt roast. I spent the evening before slathering it in a dry rub, massaging the meat with the spicy rub until it took on the maroon color. Then it was into the fridge for the night. In the meantime, I prepped my grill and had things ready so I could get an early start.

Early came, well, early and I lit the charcoal at 5 that morning. By 5:30 AM the butt was on the grill, over indirect heat and beginning to absorb a unique combination of mesquite and hickory smoke. This continued all day, maintaining a base temperature of about 220-240 degrees and ensuring that there were always fresh wood chips on top in order to generate that much coveted smoke. I watched throughout the day as the meat took on a dark, almost black hue yet was still tender and nice to the touch. Carefully I'd baste it about once an hour with a simple blend that ensured a moist end result. This continued until about 6 PM when I finally relented and pulled the meat from the grill.

The payoff was instant. After allowing the roast a few minutes to rest and to allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, I took a couple of forks and began pulling the meat apart in order to make pulled pork. It fell off in juicy, tender ribbons of flesh, filling the room with a, dare I say, heavenly aroma. Every nose in the house perked up at the sweet smell coming from the kitchen as I pulled, pulled, pulled that beautiful barbecue into shreds. Finally, we sat down to eat and to partake of a hard day's work. Let it suffice to say, it was well worth my time.

But as I went through these motions last week, I truly did see spiritual parallels between barbecue and life. It may be that I've too much time on my hands but, well, that's my perogative, isn't it? But consider this: Barbecue begins with preparation, with an intentional move toward preparing the food and allowing it to develop, to season and take on the flavors of the rub. This is in many ways like our spiritual infancy, as we build ourselves up in study of the Bible, through prayer, and acts of service. Once the meat is on the grill, things require steadfastness and care, as one takes care to ensure a proper temperature and must tend to the meat as needed as well. Plus, a keen sense of patience must be held onto as the process of cooking takes place over hours and hours. A lesser person might just want to throw it in a Crock Pot for a couple of hours! And like our spiritual lives, we too find ourselves needing to simply tend carefully to the simple things, working out our salvation in the day to day as we wait for that moment when things will make more sense. In that time, we must be patient and considerate of those things which take place around us. Finally, we're allowed to remove the meat, to carve it for service, and to partake of it. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to find the spiritual parallel there, now does it?

Anyway, I just thought it was interesting as I cooked that day. It is a beautiful process and one that I look forward to doing again soon!

Review: DoorWay - Ron Block

I've been a longtime fan of Alison Krauss and Union Station and was pleasantly surprised a few years ago when member Ron Block released a faith-infused solo effort. Block turned out to be more than a stellar instrumentalist and showcased some solid songwriting in addition to offering his musical skills. DoorWay is his latest effort and it is no less compelling, with a very intelligent and yet accessible set of themes. It's good stuff. Here's the INFUZE review:

Monday, September 03, 2007

Violence in Film

Here's an intriguing post from Rick Bennett regarding the use of violence in film. He articulates some of the things that I've slowly been coming to grips with as of late. It's a good read. Here's the link:

So Can a Pacifist Like The Departed?