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.
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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.
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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.
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My5&pop culture&television02 Sep 2015 05:11 pm

I have a bit of a toss-up today for “My5”. I have a couple things I’d like to write about and can’t decide which to actually write about. You’d think this is a good thing, but technically speaking, coming up with the topic isn’t usually my dilemma. It’s the actual writing part that hangs me up – so I’ve already won that battle. The two big topics I have in mind are Mr. Robot and RGIII. I’m going with Mr. Robot because the finale is tonight and that makes it more timely than RGIII which will likely drag on for the entire NFL season…

MRROBOTSo, Mr. Robot. Have you been watching this show? I wasn’t sure what to make of it initially, because I assumed it would be something like Halt and Catch Fire, which wasn’t bad, but wasn’t all that I had hoped. That’s for another time. Today it’s about Mr. Robot – a dark, psychological drama that discusses the underbelly of hacking, drugs, and corporate greed. The terms “dark” and “psychological” are understatements as the show’s production is gritty, the language is salty, and the writing is gutsy.

Your introduction to the protagonist (Elliott) places him in a coffee shop, awkwardly staring down the owner, who has been running a child pornography ring behind the cover of his business. To avoid exposure, “Ron” of Ron’s Coffee offers Elliott money to leave him alone. As the sounds of sirens nears the coffee shop, Elliott dons his hoodie and walks out stating that he doesn’t care about money. Elliott wants to make the world a better place and he’s certain that leveraging his hacking skills is the way to go about it.

Of course, it’s much more complicated than that and the remainder of the season unfolds a long con designed to utilize Elliot’s talents as part of an underground community known as “fsociety.” It’s not for everyone, but it is a fascinating character study and a rather accurate portrayal of digital security. Now, before I continue, there are spoilers ahead. Don’t click the “continue” link or stop reading if you don’t want any spoilers. I have some finale predictions and will try to limit spoilers, but need to include some for background.
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MUSIC&walkTRu29 Aug 2015 12:51 pm

Someone, somewhere, for some reason upset the apple cart and changed the music release schedule so that new music comes out on Fridays now. I can’t get used to that, but as I was poking around Spotify yesterday, I saw a familiar name and felt compelled to give it a listen and took the opportunity to force myself to write again. I need to do that more often anyway. So, below is that result. Enjoy.

K-OS – Can’t Fly Without Gravity

A long time ago, I heard a song called “Sunday Morning” by k-os (knowledge of self) that caught my ear and seemed like the next song of the summer, following on the heals of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”. Turns out, it didn’t gain that much traction, but I had discovered a new artist and really enjoyed his albums, ATLANTIS and JOYFUL REBELLION. Hadn’t heard from him in a while, but here he is again, this time with capital letters. Let’s check it out:
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general&MUSIC&My5&web25 Aug 2015 04:58 pm

Today’s “My Five” (yes, I’m ignoring my absence) is in conjunction with a podio/radicast/talk show that I listen to live pretty much every Tuesday and Friday. Shoe the Doe Live (or Later) is the brainchild of Aaron and Deneé and if you catch it live, you get to chat along with them and try to distract them and affect the show. (Not that anyone would do such a thing).shoethedoe

Every once in a while, they do a special show, dubbed a New Music Digest, where they look at four new albums that have been released recently. They let the first few songs play on the show and add their comments as they listen to it for the first time. (Yes, very similar to when I used to do walkTRus, but I don’t think they stole the idea or anything.)

Anyway, since I don’t talk about music much anymore and since I’m trying to get back into writing more, what better entrance than this one to talk about. Here’s how it went down today:
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Bookshelf06 Aug 2015 04:37 pm

I walked into the break room the other day and observed two tables. Both tables were surrounded by my colleagues, but they were markedly different. At one table, the four occupants were chatting up a storm, laughing and carousing between bites, sharing a meal and life stories. At the other table, six of my colleagues shared a familiar posture – head down, expressionless faces locked into a phone screen, thumbs and fingers firing off messages into the stratosphere.

I don’t think it makes me an old fogey to recognize that life at the first table is way more like what life should look like. And I don’t think it makes me too much of a hypocrite to admit that more often than not, I’ll find my way to table two. That’s why God put people like Donald Miller in the world.

Scary Close – Donald Miller

Some of Miller’s earlier books have caused a stir of controversy amongst religious readers, but there’s little in SCARY CLOSE to argue with. The basic premise is that we are here on this earth in a community of other people and things go much better for all of us if we are honest with each other and act like we were uniquely designed to rather than how we wish we could be perceived.

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