May 2013

business&leadership&Overflow29 May 2013 04:26 pm

Finally! I’m trying to get back on track here and catch back up to speed on Joshua and the Israelites. When last we left them, they had just found their way across the Jordan River. If you remember, the river just dried completely up in front of them as soon as the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant stepped in. And we have another of those deja vu moments. Let’s look at that for a second.

As a recap, Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, an oppressive environment where they were enslaved in endless forced labor, treated cruelly, and struggled to survive. With Moses came a vision: the Israelites would become a thriving nation in a land flowing with milk and honey. But the journey started off a little shaky, with the Pharaoh’s army chasing them down and cornering them on the shores of the Red Sea. Miraculously, the Red Sea opens up a pathway to allow the Israelites to cross to the other side. They have escaped… to the wilderness.

Fast forward 40-some years to Joshua 3. Moses is dead. Joshua is the leader of Israel and they’re leaving the wilderness, an oppressive environment that has tested their faith and resolve, though God has provided for them each step of the way. With Joshua comes a promise or, perhaps more appropriately, a reminder of a promise: Israel will become a thriving nation in a land flowing with milk and honey. But first, there’s this body of water in the way…

So, what’s different? I’m going to focus on three things that stand out: Motivation, Preparation, and Credit.
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Bookshelf22 May 2013 10:43 am

Sorry, this is long. Below is a review of the C.H.A.O.S. series by Jon S. Lewis. It’s a sci-fi, alien adventure series aimed at the young adult market. I borrowed the first two books from the library and was given the third to review. There are probably some minor spoilers scattered here and there, but I tried to avoid major plot points. Enjoy.

In 2010-2011, aliens seemed to be making a huge impression on the pop culture psyche. In the movies, the studios released Skyline, Cowboys and Aliens, Transformers, I Am Number Four, Battle: Los Angeles, and even Mars Needs Moms. On television, shows like Flashforward, The Event, and Falling Skies constantly reminded us that an alien invasion was all but imminent. Given this media attention, the ground was certainly fertile for an Christian alien book series. And that’s exactly what we’ve got here… but is it any good?

The C.H.A.O.S. Series by Jon S. Lewis

Book One: Invasion

Despite some logical flaws, this is a nice introduction to a trilogy filled with emotion, excitement, and energy, one I can’t wait to continue reading. Readers obviously sign on to suspend their sense of disbelief and it pays off as you flip through the pages and Colt McCalister’s story unfolds. The story begins almost as a dream. Colt is dropped off at a mysterious camp where he tests his ability to fight aliens and save the world. Like the video games he loves playing. Anyway, it’s like a dream because after the testing, all the applicants have their memory wiped.
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MUSIC&reviews17 May 2013 04:18 pm

I know, it’s been a little while. Not much has been coming out and I’ve been less than motivated, but working on it. Anyway, my return is marked by two other returns, two newcomers, and a duo I love to listen to. There are some surprises here, which is cool and most of these have come out within a week and a half of today. Before we get to them, though, here’s how things work. I’ll give you my thoughts on the album in 25 words or less and then I’ll add 2 key songs and 2 other artists to consider. But that is not all. Oh no, that. is. not. all. For whimsy, I throw in a random comparison. And this week, it’s condiments.

Your part is to let me know in the comments if I’m on or if I’m on something. Yeah. Okay, now we’re ready to get to it.

Amy Grant – How Mercy Looks from Here | (mp3)

Not a doppelganger, it’s the real deal. New pop music from this home-grown CCM veteran. She’s come a long way, baby (baby). Mustard.

DON’T MISS: Don’t Try So Hard, Free
SEE ALSO: Cast of Nashville, Susan Ashton

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americanidol&MUSIC&pop culture&television16 May 2013 11:54 am

Okay, to be honest, I forgot this was on at least five times. Part of that is because I didn’t think Angie should’ve left last week (though I did pick her to finish 3rd at the beginning of the top 10). Part of it is because I haven’t been watching live. But most of it is because, every year by this point in the competition it really stops mattering. The contestants that make it to the final rounds look, sound, and talk nothing like they did when they started the show.


This week is it, though. The grand cage match. Kree vs. Candice. Three songs each. One winner will emerge. Then we can all focus on what really still matters when it comes to American Idol… who will be judging next season? Anyway, this is something we must go through first. The first song is picked by Simon Fuller. The second is their potential lead single (presumably ALSO picked by Simon Fuller). And the final song is their favorite from earlier in the season. Then, the votes, which will have absolutely nothing to do with the performances tonight. Off we go…

Kree opens the night with Angel, which makes me think of abused puppies. Not that I think Kree mistreats animals or anything. I just don’t like this song. She did a fine job with it, though. Great vocal tone. No judge’s commentary.
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Bookshelf&business&creativity&leadership14 May 2013 10:49 am

I like to read in batches. It’s probably not the best way to read, but it seems to be the way my head can handle it. Similarly, I write reviews in batches. So, even though I read Visioneering a few weeks ago, I held off on this review because I had already begun reading Start and quickly realized their reviews belonged together. As a side note, I’m already reading You Are a Writer by Jeff Goins, which also fits in this theme, but it could go on indefinitely if I kept waiting, and that’s the point of these books, anyway. Stop stalling and get MOVING. So here I am, moving. (Well, this first paragraph was stalling, but NOW we’re ready to move.)

Visioneering – Andy Stanley

I’ve mentioned before how much I appreciate the teaching and leadership of Andy Stanley. No, I’ve never met him, but I’ve been listening to his podcasts and reading his books for a while now and I feel like I know him. VISIONEERING is a combination of VISION and ENGINEERING. Planning and putting plans into motion. It’s a practical guideline that addresses everything from idea conception to realized vision (and back again).

Using the backdrop of the Biblical account of Nehemiah and his quest to rebuild the fallen walls of Jerusalem, Stanley walks readers through the process in a candid, step-by-step format. We begin by identifying our calling/dream/passion/goals/whatever you want to call it. Something wrong in life that bothers us enough to actively seek a solution. Then begins the preparation, which is different for each of us because we surely find ourselves in different life situations with unique obstacles and opportunities. [continue reading this post…]

americanidol&MUSIC&pop culture&television09 May 2013 02:43 pm

With three contestants left, we get a glimpse at who’s really “in it to win it” and we can really see the light at the end of this never-ending tunnel. Next week is the finale and in two weeks, we’ll start forgetting all of this year’s contenders. After all, The Voice is just ramping up with their elimination rounds. And there’s always a new squirrel to distract us. But for now, American Idol is the squirrel and we have three contestants left.

This week, the three finalists get a taste of how their recording sessions will go. They each sing three songs, and they didn’t get to choose any of them. The first round are songs picked by Jimmy Iovine, the second round songs are picked by the judges, and the Idol producers picked songs for the last round. Don’t expect any particular connection between artist and song this week. (And don’t scratch your head as to why Idol winners sell less each year). One more cynical aside: This is the week when the judges and producers totally tip their hands and show who they want to advance. Song choice is everything. Anyway, off we go…


Kree opens the show with Perfect, by P!nk. Because that’s a country, blues song that fits right in her wheelhouse and core audience. Except not at all, really. She seems spacey and almost lifeless as she performs and wanders around the stage. Good vocal. Not a good song choice. Keith says it reminded him that she’s a country girl. Nicki starts in with a British accent, which is never a good sign. She says her vocal was great, but it felt short and apparently Kree was too tall; she should wear flat boots instead of heels. Randy didn’t love that song for her. She can sing anything, but this fell flat and lacked pizzazz. Mariah says it’s hard to let someone else pick your songs for you and she’s sure Kree will be better later on tonight (translation: it wasn’t good, darling).
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americanidol&MUSIC&pop culture&television02 May 2013 12:16 pm

So, this week is a rerun. Sort of. With new songs. And best of all, Harry Connick, Jr. I’ve been lobbying for Harry to be a permanent judge for years now. I would love to see Randy, Neil Patrick Harris, Kristin Chenoweth, and Harry Connick Jr as the judges, but that would never happen. Anyway, on to today’s show. Two songs each – one from 2013 and one from a long time ago – and no duets, as far as I can tell.

Angie begins with Rihanna’s Diamonds from behind the piano. The spotlights look like harp strings behind her. I like this arrangement, but she’s totally biffed some of these big notes and it’s unfortunately fallen apart for her at the end. Keith loves a lot of songs, but he didn’t like the arrangement of that song. Nicki says she worked the body more than the heart and it was bland; she can do better. Randy agrees with Keith and the arrangement wasn’t great, but he likes her leather shorts. Mariah appreciated the risk of re-arranging the song, but agreed that it seemed she played up to the camera more than she should have.

Amber will apparently be humming and snapping to Just Give Me a Reason because she can’t remember the words. I’m not familiar with this song, but again, even if she was singing it flawlessly (she’s not), there is very little connection emotionally. Ah, this is Jessica Sanchez all over again. I didn’t like it. Nicki says she didn’t see the same, charming girl from rehearsals on stage tonight; no connection. Randy agrees that she didn’t seem to have any fun and it was not stellar. Mariah apologizes on Amber’s behalf for not learning the lyrics and encourages her to remain confident. Keith uses the word phenomenal twice, but he’s describing P!nk, not Amber.
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