Indiana Brink and the Temple of Awesome!

Okay…crappy post-title, I admit…

Nonetheless… Just so you know, I’ll be heading to Indiana during Memorial Day Weekend. (At least on that Sunday.) There’s a two-fold reason for that. (1) I get to see some old friends. (2) I get to play a few songs.

My friend John Puckett e-mailed me and told me that his church is hosting an evening that needs some entertainment, and he thought of me. I checked my calendar, and whereas I would LOVE to go up on Saturday and spend the whole weekend, I’ve got a gig with Mike Feldman that night that I really can’t get out of (and it’ll pay decently, too). But, it works out that I can go on Sunday, so I’m going to.

I’m excited about playing some of my solo material. I haven’t done a me-gig in a while. It’ll feel good to brush the dust off of some of those songs…but that’s not really why I’m going.

I’ve known various members of the Puckett family since like sixth-grade. These are important people in my life, who I’ve not gotten to see very much of in recent years, due mostly to me living in St. Louis, and most of them living in Indiana. Sure, we’ll send e-mails back and forth now and again, but we’ve not really gotten to sit down over a cup of coffee in a long, long while. And this cup of coffee will mean a little extra, considering John’s recent health issues.

My long-time readers (if any) may recall that I mentioned John’s struggle with cancer a while ago. Has it been a year? Seems like I was still working at Ferguson when it all started…wow…it has been that long…I remember not mentioning my departure to him because the crap going on at the church seemed so small in comparison to cancer…wow… Anyway, John’s got a clean bill of health (or as close as you get, when it comes to Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma) and from what I hear, he’s doing pretty well. I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity. Even if the gig sucks (which I’m sure it won’t), a year ago I was worried that John and I may never share a meal again (we used to have lunch weekly). This year is different. That’s a good feeling.

I’m sure I’ll see the other Indiana-resident members of the Tribe Puckett as well. I’m excited about that, too. I’ve known Shara Lyn for about SIXTEEN years. Our friendship is old enough to drive a car! …I’m just now realizing the impact of that. Yikes. I’m hurtling toward 30. Note to self: Get life together…

Moving on…

No idea how long the gig will be…but I’m hoping to try out some new material, if I can find anything cheery enough to play in a church. That’s getting harder to do, as my writing changes. I even TRIED writing a positive song for Blue Tattoo recently (tentatively titled “Fightin‘ Drunk”). It didn’t work out so well–I mean, I landed on “Fightin‘ Drunk” as a title… I really like the song, and I think it’s one of the best lyrics I’ve written in a long time…but it kind of missed “happy.” It sort of ended up, “Happy…but, yeah, of course I’ve thought about suicide.” (For the record, I’ve never had a toaster in the bathtub with me or anything like that…well…okay, I did once…but that was just because I like a little toast with my baths.) There may be a thing or two off of disc TWO of the new record (when’s that release date, again?) that I can do…but not much off of disc one. Hmm…maybe I should stick to the old-standards.

Fortunately, I’ve got about a month to figure this out! 🙂

Anyway…I’m babbling. Mostly, I’m just tired and fueled up on coffee…and I’m bored and avoiding real work. Dangerous combination when you add in blogging…

So, I’m going to stop.

Sorry about making you read that…but at least I didn’t say anything bad about Herr Bush this time.

…ah crap!

Current Listening:

  • A bunch of Queen, for some reason.

Tax Rebates??? Really???

FAIR WARNING: Those who don’t like it when I Bush-bash should close the window right now.

There. Gave you all the chance you should have needed…

So, I hear that the tax”rebates” are supposed to go out soon. Apparently, this is somehow supposed to fix the faltering economy. Uhh… Yeah.

Everyone I’ve polled (and I haven’t exactly done it scientifically, but I’ve asked a decent amount of people) is going to do EXACTLY what Georgie-porgie doesn’t want us to do. They’re either putting it in the bank and leaving it, or (more commonly) they’re paying down some of their credit card and/or college debts. Now…I’m all for doing the opposite of what Bush wants us to do…but this time it could actually hurt us a little.

Let’s look at the logic here… The nation is in a MAJOR recession, perhaps heading toward a second Depression era. We’re fighting a war on at least two fronts, and there are on and off rumblings of stretching that to three–which, by the way, is what ended up toppling Hitler’s regime. Real-estate is in the worst shape it’s been in…uhh…like almost-ever. So are gas prices. (Seriously…G-dawg could EASILY use his connections to help us out on that one…yet he doesn’t. One begins to wonder why.) The national debt (which was absolutely ELIMINATED under the previous administration–cough…) is so astronomical that it will probably never disappear again in my lifetime (and I’m only 27). What’s the solution?

Let’s give at least $300 to every tax paying American…more if they’re in Bush’s same tax-bracket.

***blink***

Let’s do some quick math. If there were only 1 million people who pay taxes in America, that’d be $300 million dollars. Unfortunately, the overall population of the US (keep in mind, not all of these pay taxes) is 303,953,824 as of this month’s estimates. That’s a huge number being added to our national debt. Even if people DO spend it as “found money” like Bush wants us to (which, by the way, is specifically why I’m putting it in the bank and watching it rot) it’s unlikely that the overall economy will see much of a rise from it. If there’s ANY upswing, it’s going to be VERY small. Like putting a band-aid on a bomb-hole from a plane that dropped a bunker-buster on a nation that was trying to defend itself by throwing rocks.

I suggest the following alternatives for the spending of that money… I would gladly give my check to ANY of these options…

  1. Pay it toward the national debt.
  2. Give the troops (who’re being kept there longer than they should be, even if it were a just war) the supplies they need.
  3. Spend the money on developing a plan for withdrawal from the war (which we’ve officially lost–sorry, but we have).
  4. Spend the money on–I don’t know–finding Osama Bin Laden, who actually DID something to our country and deserves to have us find him.
  5. Dedicate the money to finding alternative fuel sources.
  6. Two words: BIG sandwich.
  7. Start paying for trials for the people imprisoned under “suspicion”of being terrorists.
  8. Cancer research.
  9. AIDS research.
  10. Autism research.
  11. Diabetes research.
  12. Migraine research…you get the point…
  13. Rebuilding New Orleans. (Yeah…whatever happened to that?)
  14. Poverty-relief.
  15. Starvation-relief.
  16. Shoot…send it to Comic Relief for all I care!
  17. Maybe take some of that and put it toward giving America the same free health-care we gave to Iraq? Hmm? (Am I still the ONLY one pissed off by that???)
  18. I’d even be glad to give back my check if it just went to giving everyone in Washington a nice haircut–I’m looking at YOU Ted Kennedy (that was for those who think I never say anything bad about the Liberals).

Just a few suggestions, there… Thought I’d share. Keep in mind that I’m not claiming to have any answers…but that doesn’t mean I don’t know a bad idea when I hear it. Crap is crap…even if you don’t have good-chocolate to offer in return.

"They Didn’t Teach Me THAT in Bible College!"

I get tired of hearing ministry students utter the phrase, “They didn’t teach me THAT in Bible College.” Most of the time, they’re saying that their Bible College training didn’t prepare them for bad things. They maintain that they were not prepared for how to deal with a death in their church. They were not told how to respond to a major natural disaster. They were never made aware of the fact that there would be people in their own congregation who would say and do hurtful–even downright evil–things to them.

Uhh…yeah, right.

I went through Bible College, and I currently WORK in one. I was prepared for that stuff. I had a couple of professors who went out of their way to tell us that we’d need thick skin. If people go through Bible College and aren’t prepared for the bad stuff, then they can’t blame their professors. My personal theory is that those people probably skipped class/Chapel a lot…you’d have to have been virtually absent for entire semesters not to have had some professor, somewhere basically say, “Look…you’re going to have to love it. A lot of the time, it sucks…and the money isn’t going to be enough to make it worth it.”

I learned that. I knew it in Bible College, and I was more than ready for that when I was working in my ministry. Though, to be fair, maybe some of those students went into their ministry/ministries with blinders on, thinking, “Well, it’s not going to be like that for ME.” I forget sometimes that a lot of the Christian College crowd grew up living fairly sheltered lives, and that they have no idea what the world is like. Shoot, I know some 40-year-olds who’ve never even been in a bar, much less a fist-fight. And, shocking as it is to someone with my personal history…there are just some people who’ve never lost anyone (or if they did, it wasn’t sudden or devastating enough to give them any sense of the horror that some people go through).

I’m good at that stuff, at this point. I’m the guy you want to walk into the bad situations. If someone dies, I’m the guy you want mingling at the wake. If a tornado tears apart someone’s house, I’m the dude that you want in the office to tell them that either (a) the church can put them up for a while or (b) the church has no money that they can offer, but they’re free to get a bag from the food pantry. If a teen in the youth group reveals that she’s pregnant, I’m the guy you want to be there to tell her that she’s still a good person and that she can be a good mom. If that same teen has an abortion, I’m the guy you want there to tell her that God still loves her and that (yes, church, this IS true) she’s still able to be a Christian and live a happy, God-fearing life.

…and if you think I have trouble dealing with abhorrent, vindictive, rude, conniving, slanderous, just plain MEAN people… Well, you clearly know nothing of my days working in churches. (Even still, let’s face it, there’s only so many times you can be personally attacked without walking away…and that’s an important lesson that you *should* learn in Bible College, too.)

What I’m saying is…I’m GOOD at dealing with the bad stuff. I have never said that my Bible College professors didn’t prepare me for that stuff… But there IS something they didn’t prepare me for…and I think this is probably the only really fair use of that accusation…

I have absolutely no idea how to minister under happy circumstances. I realized this when I visited my brother, sister-in-law, and new baby niece in the hospital last week. A new baby is a happy-thing. I went over, as any good uncle would, and hung around the hospital with everybody twice. (I would’ve been there more if not for my work schedule.) I realized, and even commented, that I had no idea what to say. I’m good at hospital calls–but not when the person that I’m visiting is actually HAPPY to be in the hospital!

No one prepared me for that one…

Current Listening:

  • Got a kind of retro-hits mix going on…

The Music or the Misery

For those of you who hate it when I just post playlists from my iPod, I’m going to write a little bit before I do that–which is what I’m GOING to do. It’s kind of the point of this post…but I’ll bring you up to speed on on what brought it about first.

There’s a movie starring John Cusack called “High Fidelity.” It was also a book by Nick Hornby. Hornby is my favorite author. Cusack is my favorite actor. Wanna guess what my favorite movie is? Yep. Good guess. It’s “High Fidelity.” (I like the book a lot, too. I just saw the movie before I read the book. The two are VERY similar, though, so I don’t feel like one of those sacrilegious people who sees “The Lord of the Rings” then reads the books and claims they’ve “always” loved Tolkien. Though, I will say, of Hornby’s work, I think “A Long Way Down” is his best book, even if my favorite movie is “High Fidelity.”)

Anyway, the first words out of Cusack’s mouth in the movie are, “What came first, the music or the misery?” (I don’t remember if that’s in the book or not.) He was talking about the quandary that every pop/rock fan faces sooner or later. Do I listen to songs about being depressed because I’m depressed, or am I depressed because I listen to songs about being depressed? He says in the movie that no one seems to notice that teens/young adults listen to thousands of hours of songs about misery, pain, rejection, and loss. (This, of course, changed post Columbine…thanks a lot for that, wacko-dead-kids.)

The movie has a great soundtrack. I bought it not too long ago (even though I already have most of the songs on it…I still needed the Stevie Wonder tune, y’know). There are some tunes missing from it that are in the movie, though…and I have most of those, too (or at least the ones I like). That’s sort of what made me love that movie–I could see myself in it, mostly because I had/have the records they’re talking about, and certain aspects of my life seem to be reflected in the main character(s). So, I set out to make the definitive playlist–I wanted to determine what came first.

Most of the stuff I like from the movie is here…but I also added a bunch of stuff that means something to me personally. A lot of it, oddly, can be found on other soundtracks–like the one for the “House” TV series, or stuff I’ve heard on “How I Met Your Mother,” or from the movie “American Splendor” (my SECOND-favorite movie). In fact, I took playlists I’d made earlier that were based on those shows/movies and adjusted, combined, and edited them to fit. I’ve divided it into two lists, reflective of CD1 and CD2–or Side A and B, if you prefer. The first list is truer to the movie…the second is other stuff I like. But, know that in my iPod, this is just one big-ass playlist. 🙂 (Also, keep in mind that I narrowed this list down from an initial list of about 200 songs. From 200 to 41…not bad.)

So…here we go…

The Music or the Misery – Side A

  1. Overture/It’s A Boy – The Who
  2. Baker Street – Gerry Rafferty
  3. Paradise by the Dashboard Lights – Meat Loaf
  4. You’re Gonna Miss Me – 13th Floor Elevators
  5. Walking on Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves
  6. I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You – Elvis Presley
  7. Everybody’s Gonna Be Happy – The Kinks
  8. Won’t Be Home – Old 97’s
  9. Atlantic City – Bruce Springsteen
  10. I’m Wrong About Everything – John Wesley Harding
  11. Janie Jones – The Clash
  12. Most of the Time – Bob Dylan
  13. Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
  14. Dry the Rain – The Beta Band
  15. Suspect Device – Stiff Little Fingers
  16. Under Pressure – Queen
  17. Let’s Get it On – Marvin Gaye
  18. Ain’t that Peculiar – Chocolate Genius (A Slower, Jazz/Blues Version)
  19. Who Loves the Sun – The Velvet Underground
  20. You Can’t Always Get What You Want – The Rolling Stones
  21. I Believe (When I Fall in Love it will Be Forever) – Stevie Wonder

The Music or the Misery – Side B

  1. Good Times, Bad Times – Led Zeppelin
  2. Feelin‘ Alright – Joe Cocker
  3. Hey Beautiful – The Solids
  4. I Alone – Live
  5. Black – Pearl Jam
  6. Angola (Wrong Side Of The Law) – Ray Davies
  7. Voices – Cheap Trick
  8. Save Me – Aimee Mann
  9. Beautiful – Elvis Costello
  10. Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife – Drive-By Truckers
  11. Tears in Heaven – Eric Clapton
  12. Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
  13. Walter Reed – Michael Penn
  14. Are You Alright? – Lucinda Williams
  15. American Splendor – Eytan Mirsky
  16. Hurt – Johnny Cash
  17. Ain’t that Peculiar – Marvin Gaye (Upbeat Version)
  18. Mother of Pearl – Roxy Music
  19. This Modern Love – Bloc Party
  20. Knockin‘ on Heaven’s Door – Warren Zevon

So there.

What???

So yesterday, it gets up to like 80-degrees, and it’s a “nice” Spring day. It was about 90 or so in my office, due to a climate control failure. At 4:30 this morning, there was an earthquake, then an aftershock at 10:15. Right now, there’s a (mild) thunderstorm outside my window, and it’s in the 60s outside. Parts of my office are actually COLD right now (and the rest is sweltering). It’s supposed to get down into the 40s for tonight’s low. …and a little while ago, the lights went out for a moment or two…

If it starts snowing, I’ll be expecting Jesus, roundabout dinnertime.