Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Bad Week for Mirrors

While Jen's mom is out of town we have a babysitter using our mini-van to pick Linnea up from school, and Jennifer is driving her mom's car to work. The first time K went to adjust the mirror in the mini-van, it fell off. Then today someone broke the driver's side mirror on Jen's mom's car. Kind of wierd that they both happened so close to each other and really because of the same circumstances (though I have to believe the rearview mirror would have fallen off for us if one of us had happened to be the next person to touch it).

Mad Skills

Since I've been taking Linnea to school in the morning I've had to work on my ponytail skills (is there a difference between ponytails and pigtails?). I have a ways to go yet.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Taught Sunday School this morning for high schoolers/middle schoolers. It's been a long time since I've done any real "teaching" in youth ministry (since Durango?). It went okay. I'm not a great public speaker but for whatever reason I like to keep trying (I don't think it's because I like hearing myself talk...but could be). I try and do things in a discussion format as much as went over ok today, but not super. I barely knew any of the kids, which I think both helps and hurts.
I realized that topic wise I am always much more interested in trying to save kids (both Christian and non) from the church and Christianity than I am in trying to "get them saved" in a spiritual sense. Having grown up in the church and gone to Bible School and been involved with so many different ministries I've really come to believe that nothing can kill your faith quite like the church, and nothing can turn a well meaning Christian into a complete ahole quite like the church.
I think I've felt a lot of guilt in the past about not feeling particularly called to standard "evangelism", but I'm beginning to think that there's a place and a need for people with my calling, just as much as there is for "evangelists". As I talked about this morning, Jesus spent a ton of time trying to save his followers from becoming like the religious leaders (pharisees) and trying to save the pharisees from themselves.

In other wierd youth ministry news - the pastor at Jen's church stopped her yesterday and asked about me, apparently offering some sort of paid youth ministry position. I assumed this was some sort of assistant position, until Jen told me they announced the youth director's resignation this morning. My thoughts before this news was that if they needed an extra body I might be able to do their Sunday afternoon youth group or help out on a trip or something, but now no thanks. I'm not interested in being an interim, and that kind of falls in with the whole issue of callings. I know my gift is not in taking over a program that is probably falling apart.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Rickie Lee Jones

Downloaded (legally) Rickie Lee Jones' "Sermon On Exposition Boulevard" the other day and am really enjoying it. Have never been a fan (or not a fan) of her in the past but heard some interesting buzz about this album and that it is in part musical interpretations of the Gospel of John, so I was intrigued. Turns out it is a great album. Reminds me much of Victoria Williams, with some of the rambling nature of the Hold Steady.

I asked myself if I hadn't heard about the Biblical angle before getting the album, how much would I ascribe to it? There certainly are heavy Biblical allusions in some songs, but it all offers a unique take on things. One of my favorites lyrically is "Where I Like It Best" about prayer and contrasting TV preachers with Jesus' admonition to not make a big scene about it.

Also enjoying Delta Spirit "I Think I've Found It", though I just got it today. I discovered these guys while looking into the Cold War Kids (they're on CWK's old label and touring with them now or soon). I actually like them better than CWK. The best comparison is The Strokes with a lot more soul. A couple of free MP3s are available at the above website, as well as at their MySpace page.

Also picked up the new Patty Griffin CD today and an old Moutain Goats album, but haven't listened to either yet.

Seen on the CTA:

Redline Northbound Thursday 5:15pm - a caucasian woman with 3 grocery bags full of fortune cookies.

Purple Line Northbound Thursday 5:30pm - a young man standing near by the doors, drawing in the condensation on the windows. It seemed a strange thing to do in public space in the company of strangers....something you do when no one is looking or you are among friends.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

He can blow saves and read too!

The best thing I've discovered on Comcast On Demand in a long time - "Cubs Read". 10 - 15 minute videos of Cubs' players reading books to school children. Currently available - Juan Pierre, Ryan Dempster, and Scott Eyre.

Best moment - Juan Pierre, reading "Ziggy's Blue Ribbon Day", and having to read the all too relevant line "Ziggy's best was worse than everyone elses". Juan also fields the question, "What do you like to read now"? His answer, "magazines". If his montone reading of a childrens' book doesn't spark the kids' interest in great literature, I'm sure his great love of magazines will.

Unfortunately these little gems don't appear to be on YouTube. If you're in Chicago and have Comcast On Demand, they're under "Get Local".

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Rhett Miller at The Chicago History Museum, 2/7/07

A fun, lightly publicized show tonight at the Chicago History Museum. We'd never been before, so I suppose the show served its purpose. Escaping the opening set by Dave (wanna be Matthews) Tamkin, we wandered around a bit and found it pretty interesting - lots of stuff on the World's Fairs, Sports Teams, The El Trains. We didn't get around to the Chicago Fire or Al Capone, and I am remiss that I didn't find the special exhibit on Chicago music, which apparently features Bloodshot Records.

It was a nice setup. Your $15 (advance) ticket got you into the museum and the concert, as well as a free cocktail. The exhibits weren't crowded at all, which was very nice, and the room where the music was was full, but not packed in.

It's probably not fair to liken opener Dave Tamakin to Dave Matthews just because he plays acoustic guitar and his band prominently features a violinist, whose style sounds much like that of the violin player in DMB. But the music was that same slightly jammy, fairly bland acoustic based pop/rock/shlock. Next to nothing stood out. They did a cover of Baba O'Riley and he really sounded more like he was picking wildflowers out in those fields rather than fighting for his meals. Just because your band can pull off a song technically, doesn't mean you should do it.

Rhett on the other hand was a one man ball of fire. He came on right around 7:30 and didn't let up until the 9pm "curfew" required that he take his final bow. While we caught him last year on his solo band tour (is that an oxymoron? I just mean he had a band backing him that was not the Old 97's), which was great, but I really enjoyed seeing him solo acoustic for the first time. He was clearly happy to be there and having a great time. Because Rhett's songs are based around strong melody and wordplay they hold up just as well on an acoustic guitar as they do with a band, and are aided even more by the vigor Rhett puts into his performance.

My attempt at a set list (in no order) -

Big Brown Eyes
This Is What I Do
Help Me Suzanne
My Valentine
Fireflies (Rhett singing both parts)
Buick City Complex
Singular Girl
Our Love
The El
World Inside the World
Come Around
Four Eyed Girl
Terrible Vision
Melt Show
Four Leaf Clover
The One (he said this was an Old 97's song that never got recorded)
Ziggy Stardust
Rollerskate Skinny
Designs on You
Barrier Reef
Time Bomb

A great set list, and as I recall very similar to the solo band show last year. My only disappointment was nothing from "Fight Songs". But otherwise he hit all my other "must hears".

In one final note, I continue to be a "dumb ass" magnet at concerts. We got stuck standing right next to this lady that 1) kept hitting me with her large purse 2) would "whoop" after almost every line in many songs and 3) sang along very loudly and out of tune. We finally moved back. There was quite a bit of chatter towards the back where we ended up, but it certainly was easier to tune out than someone trying to compete with Rhett. Lets leave the singing to the professionals folks.