January 2013

business&leadership&Overflow31 Jan 2013 01:08 pm

I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time and, I intended for it to be a Monday feature, but to get things rolling, I’ll take the time as I can get it and use it as best as I can. I hope for The Overflow to be a regular series of posts that give me, or rather force me, to take a deeper look at the Bible as it relates to everyday life. I’m starting with Joshua, a book I keep finding myself returning to for various reasons. I’m familiar with the text, but it seems that every time I revisit it, I learn something new. This time through, I hope to focus on the theme of leadership. As a leader of sorts, raising two future leaders (I tell them all the time) it’s important to understand what leadership means (and what it should mean). I only made it five verses into the first chapter for this week.


Joshua (the book) opens with a reminder that Moses, who has led the Israelites for some time now, has died. Unfortunately, the waning years of Moses’s leadership were marked by inactivity and uncertainty. It appears that Moses may have held onto the reins longer than he should have, which reminds us that we always need to be aware of our surroundings and know when it’s time to pass the torch. There are many reasons to retire as a leader. Some are forced out of their position for scandal, ineptitude, or other reason. Some exit gracefully, leaving behind a legacy and successor prepared for the future. Some just don’t know when to say when and that indecision at the top can destroy any organization. In this case, it was death. And, timely or otherwise, Joshua was called and commissioned by God to take over and lead Israel as they embarked on the next stage of their journey.
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pop culture&SPORTS18 Jan 2013 11:53 am

So, I really am not good at picking playoff games. Another 1-3 weekend makes me 2-6 in the playoffs. I think what it comes down to is that I pick more with my heart, because the games mean so much more and there are some teams I just want to do better than others. That said, I’m probably rooting for a Har-Bowl again. We were so close last year, but it didn’t pan out. Both teams missed the big game by 3 points.

This year’s playoffs has damaged the perception that the NFL has much parity, actually. At least for me, since I haven’t heard too much grumbling about it elsewhere. Consider this, though. The AFC Divisional Championship game (Ravens vs. Patriots) is a rematch of last year. On the NFC side, the 49ers return to the Divisional Championship, but instead of the Giants, they’re facing the Falcons. Going back even further, 5 of the 6 AFC playoff teams were playoff teams last year, with the only difference being the Colts replaced the Steelers as a wild card. The AFC’s final four, all the same. In the NFC there was more turnover at least, with the Vikings, Seahawks, and Redskins replacing the Giants, Saints, and Lions. So, 8 of the 12 playoff teams overall repeated. What does that mean? Probably nothing.

Anyway, many people will be rooting for the Ravens this weekend because it’s, reportedly, the last run for Ray Lewis. In light of that, everybody has been ranking defensive players and linebackers through the years to see where Lewis fits in. I’ve seen him ranked up quite high in most of the charts, based on his leadership and I’ll buy that. He certainly has led and inspired the Ravens defense to play well beyond their years and abilities over his impressive 17 year career. One of the biggest gripes I have with all of these lists, however, is the elevation of Lawrence Taylor and the absence or low ranking of Mike Singletary.
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americanidol&pop culture&television17 Jan 2013 12:51 pm

American Idol’s 12th season kicked off last night. I didn’t watch it, but as a fan of the show, I was thinking about it this week. It seems like it sneaked up on me this year, which probably indicates that I’m not ready for a new season. Couple that with a new panel of judges (again) – judges I don’t have any particular interest in – and a trend of declining talent and originality, I’m not sure how to approach this new season. As such, I thought maybe I’d take a look at the past to see if that will encourage any interest. Off we go.

Season One: Kelly. Idol couldn’t have asked for a better inaugural winner to make everyone believe it was a legitimate dream. Also, the first big controversy emerged, when judge favorite Tamyra Gray was voted off in 4th place. Clearly, America got it wrong because she’s gone on to… well, she really hasn’t done much, actually, but it was a HUGE controversy at the time.

Season Two: Ruben and Clay. I’d bet that if you asked 100 people who won this season, half would think Clay won, but he didn’t. Ruben Studdard, the velvet teddy bear, if I remember correctly, took home the honors and launched a successful first album. (He’s released 5 more albums, but their cumulative sales doesn’t add up to even half the sales of “Soulful,” which fell just shy of double platinum. In fact, Ruben was outdone by Clay, who nearly went triple-platinum on his debut and followed it up with a platinum Christmas album. Also of note from this season, Josh Gracin introduced the potential of country music on the show and as far as controversy season 2 was at least 4 times more controversial than season 1, with vote-tampering accusations, unsavory contestants, and allegations towards Paula. Enough said.
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SPORTS10 Jan 2013 05:01 pm

Well, that weekend didn’t turn out like I expected or hoped. I picked the Packers correctly, and that’s about it. The Bengals and the Texans turned in a rather boring game in which the Texans prevailed, opening the door for a Colts/Broncos matchup. Unfortunately, the Colts didn’t have the juice to make it past Ray Lewis and the Ravens. And the Redskins have their own set of woes, though it was a kind of a long shot for them to win, anyway.

The biggest news, however, wasn’t in victories or defeats, but in one battered knee. RGII went down awkwardly late in the game trying to retrieve a low snap, tearing his ACL and MCL. The damage was actually done in the 1st quarter, two plays before the second touchdown pass, when he was tackled out of bounds, wrenching his knee and snacking his head on the turf hard enough to concuss. (Whether or not he did have a concussion hasn’t been brought up anywhere I’ve seen, but I’d guess he did.) RGIII hobbled back to the line of scrimmage in time to half-heartedly deliver a hand off that led nowhere, before tossing in a TD on the next play, giving the Redskins a 14-0 lead.

As he limped over to the sidelines, I said out loud, “He needs to be done for today.” He wasn’t. Well, officially, he wasn’t. So the story goes, he wanted to stay in, Coach Shanahan wanted him to stay in, and everyone watching wanted him to stay in. Of course, we all wanted him to be safe, too. But he stayed in and, knowing the ultimate result, it would be easy to gripe about that decision. As for me, I’m just glad it wasn’t my decision to make. But if you’re surprised by the result, let’s just take a brief look at the track record of one Coach Shanahan.
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Bookshelf&pop culture08 Jan 2013 04:01 pm

Given the recent box office debut of The Hobbit (part one), the bookstores have added a trove of materials covering all sorts of themes and topics relating to elves, dwarves, and all things Hobbit-esque. While I have my thoughts on these trends and outpouring of derivative publications, they are, in fact, unavoidable, and it’s only fair that I talk about some of them here. So, today we have four books – two devotionals and two studies – each covering spiritual aspects of the themes found in The Hobbit. And that’s all the introduction I have, with four books, it’s already a lengthy post. Perhaps later, I’ll share my thoughts on these types of books. For now, we begin…

Walking with Bilbo – Sarah ArthurLeading things off is Sarah Arthur, with a devotional book based on The Hobbit that originally released in 2005 and has returned to the presses. This book is designed to “walk” you through the spiritual aspects of The Hobbit as you read through the classic saga. WALKING WITH BILBO consists of 22 readings meant to be considered, one per day as they enhance your understanding of the story while simultaneously applying the practical principles to your personal practices.

Each reading (less than 10 pages) has the following components: a quote from the book, a practical illustration (historical, personal, etc.), examples from The Hobbit, examples from the Bible, as well as questions and Scripture for further study. It’s a nice casual, but challenging conversation of sorts, with an overarching theme of accepting our call to follow Jesus and live a dangerous, adventurous life as He leads. In that regard, it works well and offers plenty of insight to the reader.
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SPORTS04 Jan 2013 10:28 am

It’s about to get WILD. But first, we reflect on last week’s action and I can happily state that I finished the season strong with a 12-4 week. My yearly totals (I started picking in week 5) end up at 126-66, averaging just under 10-5 each week, or 65%. It was an exciting week and season and it all came down to the final few minutes of the final game – the highest-rated regular season game in primetime since 1997. And the Redskins won! And my favorite news of the playoffs is that it is devoid of the Steelers and the Cowboys. Cannot complain about that.

Also this week, the Bills got their revenge (for what it was worth) against the Jets, but the Falcons and the Packers both lost their games as they head into the playoffs. And, in one of the bigger storylines of the weekend, Adrian Peterson fell 9 yards short of the MVP, I mean, the regular season rushing record. Also falling just shy, the Bears missed the playoffs and the Texans managed to fumble away their home field advantage and week off with another late-season loss.

So, we have the official playoff picture and here’s how it looks (if it’s bold, I picked it right earlier this year):

Division Champs: Patriots, Texans, Broncos, Ravens, Falcons, 49ers, Packers, and Redskins
Wildcards: Bengals, Colts, Vikings, and Seahawks.

8 out of 12. Not too bad. And I did have the Packers in the playoffs, just as a Wildcard, behind the Bears.
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Bookshelf02 Jan 2013 05:17 pm

Here’s a book review I’ve been stewing on for a while now. I wasn’t sure how I felt about this book and, after much internal arguing, I landed somewhere in the middle. Here’s why…

It felt like I read this book extremely quickly. And, in fact, I did, finishing in about 2 days, or maybe 3 hours or so of reading time. (I’m not certain whether to attribute the action laced throughout the book, my own interest level, the fact that I read it to myself and not the Littles, or simply because it’s written down to a lower reading level, but I’ll try to cover all these possibilities.)

Fire Prophet – Jerel Law

The truth is, I enjoyed Spirit Fighter quite a bit when I read it to the Littles and I was anticipating this sequel. The story continues as can be expected and even adds grants Jeremiah, the youngest Stone sibling, a larger stage. (This may explain the lower reading level as the series hopes to expand readership?) Anyway, it seems Law tried to spread the action sequences throughout the entire book, which actually created something of a bipolar reading experience, with intense action and equally notable lulls. I felt like I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough during both, on the one hand to see what happened next (though it’s largely predictable) and on the other, to get back to some action.

And while I wasn’t sure how closely the series resembled the Percy Jackson books, I’m now sure that it’s probably not going to be a series that attracts too many non churched fans of Riordan’s tales. The first book delivered distinct spiritual overtones, but it wasn’t overly “preachy,” avoiding too many “Christian codewords” and refusing to limit the storyline to a 3-bullet Sunday school sermonette. [continue reading this post…]

MUSIC&reviews02 Jan 2013 02:08 pm

Happy New Year! Today, we’ll start 2013 by finishing the catch-up series that was moving through the releases of 2012. Today’s grouping is wildly diverse as it includes the soft whispers of Leigh Nash and Sixpence None the Richer juxtaposed against the raging screams of The Chariot. Anyway, these releases are from August and then we’re all caught up. Here’s what to expect, 25 words or less on each album, 2 recommended artists, 2 key tracks, and one random comparison to an NFC playoff team. Off we go.

We Shot the Moon – Love and Fear
http://amzn.to/VmCedh (CD) | http://amzn.to/WaVsBu (mp3)

There are times when you hear Green Day, Arcade Fire and others influencing this sound. And it all sounds good. Soft, velvety arrangements. Atlanta Falcons.
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