Sunday, August 26, 2007

365 Out-take for Day 14

I have been spending a lot of time on Flickr lately. I have always had a passion for photography; been taking pictures and reading about how to be a better photographer for over twenty-five years. Recent encouragement from friends, and the addition of a digital camera have brought that passion to the forefront again.

I started a free Flickr account sometime last year. But the free account limits you to how many photos or sets of photos you can post. So recently I opened a paid account. In addition to that I took on a project that many people are also doing -- its called 365. The idea is to take one self-portrait for one year. I am now into Day 14.

As the title here indicates this photo of me is an out-take. In the end for today's submittal it is the better shot. I just didn't like it because, well as I said in the photo description:

"I have submitted too many shots where I am not smiling. You'd think from all the serious poses I have done I lead a grim life. Not so. Lotsa friends and good experiences (oh, the last two weeks have been not so great -- took a whack in the confidence dept.) and it isn't the end of the world."

I am so thankful for my friends. They are so gracious to me; so loving. Just yesterday one of them delivered a patio set that he and his wife offered to me for free. It is in such good condition, and against so many other things that I need on a monthly basis, I have often looked at patio sets to always conclude that maybe next year I'll be able to afford one. Its not like I am poor. Oh no. But in this Calgary economy, with inflation at 6.5 percent, there are practical needs and there are luxuries. A patio set is a luxury...that I now can enjoy. Thank you R&T.

But as indicated all has not been well. Part of the whack I took had to do with stretching my wings in being single again. I went to a party sponsored by a group at a church other than my own. The whole thing was to have fun, yet in the course of trying to get to know some people I came away feeling much like I did in high school: inadequate in meeting girls; not knowing how to ask the right questions or how to respond to questions of others. The rules and social courtesies a man is supposed to know, that kind of thing.

I am not a person to put on "airs"; I am not a person who tells lies or makes himself to be something he's not. IOW, I am WYSIWYG -- What You See Is What You Get. You ask me a question, I'll give you an answer. I won't be brutally honest because I've been on the end of that shotgun, and its a cruel, hurtful reality. I guess I don't do rooms very well (and there goes my aspirations of being a politician (smile)). I do, however, have a great sense of humour when it counts. I can give as good as I take. I will take a lot, if its fun. I do have wit; am well-read; kind. I once posted on one of those single sites the following description:

"I think its possible for a nice guy to finish first and get the gal these days. I am demonstrating that being honest and kind pays off. I am leading a life centred on fidelity, friendship and integrity. I have travelled abroad to give aid, and it taught me about balance. I have a good government job, good friends; am seeking a woman who shares my interests and mature Christian values; who can enrich my life – be my best friend -- be active together. Your glass is half-full most of the time. If you like the smell of fresh earth, and wildflowers along mountain trails, perhaps you want to find out more about me. Sometimes I am a homebody, listening to a variety of music, reading books, and watching PBS. Would you agree two heads are better than one? I am easy to talk with, and I trust you are too. Just so you know I have been separated for over three years now, and soon this chapter will be closing. I am looking to spread my wings."

What held as true then, still does (except I am no longer married). I believe that there should be more nice guys in this world. I was born in the wrong era. I would have gladly been a part of a time when men still tipped their hats to women they knew (or wanted to know, and when they still wore hats).

So it was that I was nervous when, a few days before the party, I had lunch with a woman who I thought I would really like to know (i guess I still do). I made a few gaffes. I also asked her out too soon afterwards. Then with what followed a few evenings later I really felt that I blew it. I began to wonder what will it take to find the person whom I am seeking and whom I described above. My friends said (say), "don't worry about it, just be yourself, and one day she will appear before you when you aren't expecting her" (thanks MT & GC). I really got to believe that, don't I?

It is the interim that is a killer. I miss the love and intimacy that comes from being in a committed marriage. Man was not meant to be living alone, esp. with all the ills that are just a mouse click away. Here too I have been experiencing some sexual tension I would rather not have (and that's all I am going write about it).

So after mulling over all of this for a couple weeks I took on some housecleaning therapy yesterday. I know women do retail therapy, but the above usually does the trick for me. There is no one to blame here, nor is there a need. I know that if I continue to be me, and shake off that desperate and needy feeling, I will be well.

Lord, will you help me get grounded again?

Friday, August 10, 2007

In the Record Bins

Further to yesterday’s article about buying new CDs, it was interesting, and somewhat a relief to see Christian bands like Sonicflood and Lifehouse not being constrained to the Christian music section (CMS) of the record bins. I was in a secular retail outlet, and the Christian section was quite small. So was its neighbour, the New Age music section (actually it was slightly bigger; to find Canadian instrumentalist Jesse Cook in this section actually surprised me).

The CMS had its regulars hanging out like Third Day, Mahalia Jackson (as mentioned), Yolanda Adams, The Gaithers and the WOW collections. But I suspect that unless you were a Christian no one else ventures into it to discover the music. I mean if you are shopping for Pop/Rock where will you most likely go? But if you have listened at all to any of the CCM bands making records these days it is clear that the music is not just hymns anymore. Praise and Worship music is contemporary; some of it really rocks; some of it is hard edge stuff (I am thinking of Kutless, for example). To find these bands in the Pop/Rock section means that there is a greater chance for someone to “discover” them too.

Now, if this sounds at all as being sneaky, I disagree. I believe in music that has merit. I prefer a band or a vocalist who has the chops and the background to be able to deliver. My friend, Gabba, is really into music (I think he should become a music critic). I threw him a video by the Cure last week. He didn’t like it and replied saying as much. He added that some bands just produce filler – a substitution for their very best and that expresses their purpose – and he won’t listen to it. I suppose that this can happen with Christian bands too. But, it shouldn’t. Scripture calls believers to excellence. However, I have digressed. Christian bands need to fulfill two purposes: that they produce the very best that they can musically offer; that they satisfy to God’s pleasure the achievement he wants from them – honouring and extolling his love for a fallen world. Can a Christian band rock out just as good as a secular one. Sure. Why not? Can a Christian artist sing a love song to a child, a girlfriend/boyfriend or a spouse like a diva? Well, forbid that any ever go the way of Celine Dion, but I was listening to Tammy Huggard on my stereo the other day, and she sings a beautiful ballad to a loved one that rivals anything I have heard. Note: Huggard is an Albertan artist from Ft. MacMurray; her Self-Portrait album contains a mixture of folk and personal praise songs.

Music crossover is a big part of extending sales. Most artists dislike being pigeonholed -- you hear it all the time. It benefits the retailer to diversify by offering as many possible spots for artists to be found in their inventory by consumers. It benefits Christian bands to be competitive with secular bands for shelf space. It is in the marketplace where Christians should be making a difference anyways. So, be sure to look for and buy Christian music in secular retailers; ask for them by name. By voting with your dollars you are giving a message that will be heard: these artists are desirable and good enough to be featured in their stores. I realize some of you like buying your CDs in Christian bookstores, and by all means continue doing so. But you are also fulfilling the commission by shopping elsewhere too.

-- Darryl

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Johnny Cash: Rose of My Heart

During the noon hour I went down and bought some CD’s. I wasn’t expecting to purchase Johnny Cash’s last recording American V: A Hundred Highways. However, it was on sale. It hasn’t been just the recent tribute or reverence to Cash that caused me to buy it. No, I have always enjoyed his work. I guess it was the influences of my uncles’ music tastes that largely contributed to my appreciation. They listened to a lot of Nashville music: Cash, Kristofferen, Jennings, Nelson, Horton and even Elvis. I would add Haggard to that group, but I don’t know if he really was a part of the Nashville scene.

There is something that resonates from Cash’s singing. I think it truth wrapped in experience. Thus, when I hear him sing Rose of my Heart on this record (it was written by Hugh Moffat, but sounds so much as Cash had crafted it himself), it imparts such a presence of Cash in the last days of June Carter’s life. The intensity of the testimony of his love for her is so real. You will not find any lyrics with this album. So listen you must.

Rick Rubin writes how when hey completed this album, and were getting set to record American VI that there was a confidence coming from Cash that all was well. He was out of the hospital and was looking forward to recording again. I have heard of stories of couples whose marriage has been so tight that with the passing of one, heartbreak usually claims the other in short time. I would only speculate that perhaps this was the case.

He sings, “if you are feeling cold, let my love warm you up.” Only a man who has such an intense love for someone could say that with meaning. Intense love comes from living and sharing it.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

What Rich People Watch on TV

According to Andrew Ryan, “television writer for the Globe & Mail, rich people prefer watching The Office compared to comedies by Will Ferrell and Ray Romano. They also like watching the Law & Order shows, The Sopranos, 30 Rock, and The Apprentice. What’s interesting about that observation, and its personal, is that with the exception of The Office and The Apprentice all the rest are some of my favourite shows.

So I have to ask, if my viewing tastes correspond to a richer wallet, why isn’t my wallet richer than it is?

To be fair, I also enjoy Everybody Loves Raymond, and when Ferrell was on SNL he was doing some of the best comedy around.

Is there a correlation to the level an individual is educated and maintains to the type of entertainment that they have an attraction? Does intelligence quotient and the funny bone connected?