Bookshelf28 Oct 2016 04:23 pm

Well, I’ve stewed on this book long enough – and please don’t take that to mean that this is a book of any substance that requires any amount of time to ruminate on or ponder or process. No, it’s more that I needed time to prevent having two rather negative reviews back-to-back. I know, technically, they are back to back, but I dragged my feet long enough and distracted you with The Afters and Ryan Lochte, so…

The Newsmakers – Lis Wiehl

I’m going to try not to indulge my desire to launch into a diatribe and instead just punch in on the high level blemishes that irritated me about the book. Then we can move on.

First, I’ve never (to my knowledge) done this before, but I felt compelled to write down a handful of predictions based on the first 2-3 chapters. These are things that I knew full well would happen by the end of the book because Wiehl all but broadcasts the entire series of events from the beginning of the book. This is something I expect (and get) regularly from Hallmark movies, but for some reason, it’s WAY more annoying in a book. Probably in part because of the investment of time in reading a book versus watching a movie, but I think it extends beyond that in that the writing just wasn’t very good. [continue reading this post…]

features&front page&MUSIC22 Sep 2016 03:06 pm

As I looked at the music releases of the past couple months, I noticed a trend: Most of these groups/artists had popular releases ten years ago. That either speaks to enduring artistry or a lack of creativity within the industry. Either way, this inspired me to take a closer look at this situation, since, ten years ago, I was much more a part of the music scene.

theTRu_presentsI’m going to pit these albums (the old vs. the new) against each other, track-by-track, reminisce, and see how these groups are holding up through the years. This will probably end up being a little longer than most blog readers can hold their attention for, so if you REALLY NEED to, you can skip down below and peek at the bottom line. I will try to entertain you the entire time, though.

The first group I’ll take a gander at is THE AFTERS and we’ll compare their label debut album, I WISH WE ALL COULD WIN (10 Tracks, 41 minutes), to their latest release, LIVE ON FOREVER (10 tracks, 36 minutes). I know, technically speaking, WISH came out in 2005, but it was really thriving in 2006 so I’m counting it. As you can see from the stats, they both have 10 tracks, though FOREVER weighs in at 5 minutes lighter. Let’s go ahead and dig into the tracks…
[continue reading this post…]

general&pop culture&SPORTS25 Aug 2016 03:36 pm

Swimming is a sport of grace and mechanics. It’s won with speed, but that speed hinges on proper technique, specific body position, and controlled bursts of strength. When done properly, there aren’t many more events as spectacular to watch as eight swimmers, stride-for-stride, straining towards the wall simultaneously, each with the overwhelming desire to get there first.

Many age group swimmers (those typically under the age of 15) get frustrated by the nuances of each stroke and try to find “faster” ways to move through the water – and some succeed, but only for a time. Eventually, form triumphs and these swimmers learn what many before have already come to grips with: speed is a by-product of proper technique. Not only does following the guidelines of technique result in faster swims, deviating from said form could result in a disqualification.

Journalists have a lot in common with swimmers in this regard. Their techniques have been well explained over the years. Follow a hunch, look for evidence, research, find sources, verify, verify, verify. Unfortunately, many in the field today only care about speed. Headlines are primary. Details are secondary. Accuracy is a luxury. Shape the story before it’s a story. Why verify when you can vilify? And most unfortunate: there are no DQ’s in journalism.

Speed was certainly the key to the recent “Lochte Four” stories breaking from Rio last week. Initially, everyone was sympathetic towards Ryan Lochte, Jimmy Feigen, Jack Conger, and Gunnar Bentz. It was a cut and dry emotional piece about the dangers of competing internationally – a close call for four of America’s Olympic swimmers.
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Bookshelf&SPORTS05 Aug 2016 03:59 pm

Long overdue, I know. I really need to work on updating more and I really need to stop saying that I really need to start working on it and I… well, you get the idea. Today, the 2016 Olympics officially kicks off. So this review is incredibly timely. Almost like I planned it. If only.

Anyway, We’ll start with a conversation I completely made up in my head…

Swimming with Faith: The Missy Franklin Story – Natalie Davis Miller

“Hey, the Olympics is coming up, we need a book about someone who will be competing.”
“How about that swimmer girl who smiles a lot and won some medals and is famous. Missy something.”
“Do you know anything about swimming?”
“No, but I read some newspaper articles about her and I follow her on Twitter.”
“Cool.”
“Should I set up an interview?”
“Nah, just use what’s on the web”
“Okay, I don’t have much, though”
“That’s okay, we’ll make it a kids book so it can be short.”
“Should I fact check any of these stats?”
“Nah, it’s just numbers, we need to get this published so we can sell it before it’s too late.”

That’s how I imagine the conversation went when Zondervan decided to have Natalie Davis Miller write this “biography” of Missy Franklin.
[continue reading this post…]

Bookshelf12 May 2016 02:55 pm

NOW PLAYING: The Comeback Kid – b.reith

First off, I debated on which song to choose for a while because, honestly, I can’t hear the word “comeback” without thinking of LL Cool J’s classic hit, “Mama Said Knock You Out.” In fact, I just got distracted by writing that and had to go listen to it before I could continue. However, I did go with the b.reith song for a couple reasons I’ll get to later. Before that, it’s time for a book review.

The Comeback – Louis Giglio

Louie Giglio is well known in Christian circles (and there was that nasty little thing was the President’s prayer breakfast). You could say he’s been here for years, but then you might get side tracked again, so I wouldn’t recommend that. Anyway, he is known primarily for his role within the Passion movement, the genesis of which he actually recounts at the beginning of this book, and his public speaking engagements. THE COMEBACK captures one such teaching series and small group study topic on page.

Giglio reminds us that the primary storyline of all our lives is one of redemption. God is calling us back to Him and it’s up to us to accept his offer of grace and restoration. Weaving numbers of personal anecdotes and Biblical accounts into his message, Giglio connects with the reader on an emotional level and drives home his point. [continue reading this post…]

Bookshelf19 Feb 2016 04:10 pm

So, I’ve previously written about the first two books in the Dreamtreaders series and I’m happy to wrap things up and talk about the final book in the trilogy. In review, the first two books of the series set the stage for a cataclysmic, maybe epic conclusion. Did it work? Was the payoff worth it? Was it everything expected? Well…

The War for the Waking World – Wayne Thomas Batson

I’ll try to avoid spoilers, but if you’ve made it this far, you should already understand the concept of dream treading, the fabric between the dream world and reality, and the threat that has caused a rift between the worlds. Does this signify the rise of a new Nightmare Lord? Will the worlds collide and cause irreparable damage to our very existence? Do I sound enough like that old Batman announcer, yet?

All these questions (except the Batman one) are addressed in THE WAR FOR THE WAKING WORLD. Unfortunately, as a reader, you pretty much know most of the answers before you read them. Knowing that this is book three of the trilogy and that resolution is guaranteed, you can easily predict enough to make the ending a foregone conclusion. That’s not to say that it doesn’t work or that it’s not worth reading, just that it’s not as thrilling as it perhaps could have been. Which also makes it less memorable, which is also why I had to refresh my memory before writing this even though I finished the book just a couple weeks ago.
[continue reading this post…]

Bookshelf06 Jan 2016 05:10 pm

I have long wanted to dig into a Wayne Thomas Batson series. Or even a single book. And this is one of those cases when it was worth the wait. (And it will probably encourage me to continue reading through Batson’s older catalogue while anticipating any future releases). This trilogy takes us on an imaginative journey into the world of our dreams. Actual dreams, not like, if I could dream up a world, it would look like this… although, I guess there is a lot of crossover between the two concepts. Anyway, let’s get started.

Dreamtreaders – Wayne Thomas Batson

Book one opens in a dream sequence where we meet up with some of the terrors that shape our nightmares and we are introduced to a young, somewhat brash warrior charged with protecting our dreams – or something like that. Within the first chapter, we meet some compelling characters and we see glimpses of what is to come. There’s a confrontation with the “Nightmare Lord,” who we learn is a far greater warrior than our hero (Archer) and experience a glimmer of hope as Archer shows the potential to overcome this great villain.

There is immediate intrigue and mystery and action and vulnerable emotions. By the time we reach chapter two, I’m already hooked and fully invested in the book. Later, we learn Archer regularly enters the dream world to defend us, but this time, something is different. [continue reading this post…]

Bookshelf19 Nov 2015 01:38 pm

Sometimes, I feel like I’m on a never-ending quest to find a book written by a comedian that is actually as funny as it claims to be. I’ve tried with Tim Allen, Seinfeld, Demetri Martin, Stephen Colbert, Jim Gaffigan, and others. I’ve even tried Christian comedians, comedians who happen to be Christians, or whatever the title du jour happens to be right now. All of them have left me shrugging with a sly, half-smile at best, wondering if it’s possible to ever find this book, which appears to be as rare as a leprechaun riding a unicorn sliding down a rainbow into a pot of gold that belongs to Scrooge McDuck.

See, that would have been funny if I said it out loud (I promise). Written? Not so much. Anyway, I’m not going to overanalyze this. It’s not exactly a tremendous burden to bear. So what, right? I don’t find so-called humor books funny – even when written by stand-up comedians who make me laugh.

Diary of a Jackwagon – Tim Hawkins

But I try again. This time, it’s Tim Hawkins. If you’re scratching your head and scrunching up your face, don’t worry, I wasn’t familiar with him either. I had heard the name and there are a lot of YouTube videos with pieces of his stand-up show, but I went into the book with a clean slate. Please make me laugh. Pretty please.

Short answer: no, not really. I did smile and quietly chuckle a couple times, but no ab workout here. Not for me.

That’s okay, though. [continue reading this post…]

Movies&television22 Oct 2015 11:50 am

One could argue that the success of the What’s in the Bible DVD series paved the way for The Muppets to return to pop culture prominence in the last five years. It would be a short argument, but one could try. However, despite a lack of formal relationship between the two, the timing doesn’t hurt.

GALAXY BUCK: MISSION TO SECTOR 9

Phil Vischer, a creative kid-at-heart, continues to produce wholesome, thoughtful, and whimsical entertainment for the family to enjoy. galaxybuckHe did it through VeggieTales, 3-2-1 Penguins, and the aforementioned What’s in the Bible series. Now, Vischer casts his latest lead, Buck Denver, as an average guy with an above average calling: Save the Galaxy. And this time it’s personal. (More on that in a bit).

First, the details. Buck answers phone calls for Pastor Paul and dreams of impacting the world in a big way. Bigger than making sure channel subscribers receive their free tote bag. Buck is easily relatable since every job has its share of doldrums and everyone wants to achieve greatness and leave our mark on the world. This leaves us in an internal struggle between chasing our dreams and chasing after God. The two goals are not always in conflict, but the key is remembering who deserves the honor and glory. Buck’s journey in the story helps him confront this head on as he travels to the farthest reaches of the galaxy and the deepest corners of his heart and soul.
[continue reading this post…]

general&MUSIC&My5&pop culture&SPORTS&television25 Sep 2015 04:23 pm

My5 today is a random mix of things I’ve been meaning to write about… should be fun.

Muppets.
The Muppets are back and Miss Piggy has a late-night show. These are more “adult” muppets apparently and the broken relationship between Piggy and Kermit is at the “heart” of storylines. I’m okay with that, I guess. The move to a late-night show makes sense because there aren’t any variety shows on the air these days. In that sense, it’s a smart decision. It’s hard to say whether this will work or be funny in the long run because, for the pilot, all the funny moments were already in the trailers. What’s missing? Puns. The Muppets are supposed to be fraught with puns. Just saying.

Football.
bills helmetIncreased concern about concussions, but 2 plays in week one featured players getting stripped of their helmets. Ndamukong Suh tackled Redskins running back Alfred Morris and then kicked his helmet off of his head while Morris still lay on the field. No penalty. No fine. On the west coast, Adam Jones tackled Amari Cooper and proceeded to rip off Cooper’s helmet and slam Cooper’s head into the helmet. He was fined at least. Seems like mixed messages being sent by the league.
[continue reading this post…]

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