everything you ever wanted to know about nothing at all...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I ain't the world's best writer, ain't the world's best speller but when I believe in something I'm the loudest yeller...

The above title is taken from a Woody Guthrie song, I wish I could attribute that to myself, but unfortunately I can't. I've been reading this book that Jr lent me called "Blue Like Jazz" that really got me thinking about my beliefs. Every now & then I read something that resonates so true that I wish I'd written it myself. That is most certainly true of the following paragraphs:

"My most recent faith struggle is not one of intellect. I don't really do that anymore. Sooner or later you just figure out there are some guys who don't believe in God & they can prove He doesn't exist, and the argument stopped being about God a long time ago & now it's about who is smarter, & honestly I don't care. I don't believe I will ever walk away from God for intellectual reasons. Who knows anything anyway? If I walk away from Him, & please pray that I never do, I will walk away for social reasons, the same reasons that any of us do anything.

My friend Julie Canlis from Seattle has this beautiful mother named Rachel who is small & petite & always remembers my name when I come for a visit. One morning I was sitting at the counter in the kitchen talking to Rachel about love & marriage, & she was gleaming about her husband a little, & I told her in one of those rare moments of vulnerability that I was scared to get married because I thought my wife might fall out of love with me, suddenly, after seeing a movie or reading a book or seeing me naked. You never know what might trigger these things. Rachel looked at me through the steam that was coming off her coffee & said, very wisely & comfortingly, that when a relationship is right, it is no more possible to wake up and want out of the marriage than it is to wake up & stop believing in God. What is is what is, she said.

And that's when I realized that believing in God is as much like falling in love as it is like making a decision. Love is both something that happens to you & something you decide upon. And so I bring up that story about Julie's mom not because I want to talk about love, but because I want to talk some about belief. I have come to think that belief is something that happens to us too. Sure there is some data involved, but mostly it is this deep, deep conviction, like what Julie's mom feels about her husband, this idea that life is about this thing, & it really isn't an option for it to be about something else."

Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz, Nonreligious thoughts on Christian Spirituality

I really like this book, it seems to mirror a lot of thoughts I have about being a Christian, most importantly, it gives many examples of how you can learn about your own faith by examples of non-believers. I've always thought that whenever you are trying to convince somebody of anything that subtlety is the best method, especially when it comes to trying to evangelize. I remember walking to class at Grand Valley & walking past a man everybody called Preacher Tom (I'm not making this up). Preacher Tom would hold up signs admonishing everyone to quit their sinful ways & repent. He was also known to let young ladies know that they were dressing like girls of ill-repute, or some such thing. I'd usually laugh, but deep down, I thought how damaging this might be to anybody who is a non-believer.

For these reasons, I've never been the most outgoing about my faith & I'm somewhat conflicted about this. Part of me thinks that I look for the right times to share my faith with others, but I'm afraid I'm content with staying in my little bubble where it's safe & I don't have to "embarrass" myself.

"But the trouble with deep belief is that it costs something. And there is something inside me, some selfish beast of a subtle thing that doesn't like the truth at all because it carries responsibility, and if I actually believe these things I have to do something about them."

Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

In sales, I've always found that you have the greatest successes when you target people who show signs that they might be interested in what you're selling. At the same time, you have to be open to the possibility that you can change people's minds. It's my prayer today that I can step outside myself in order to provide the opportunity to anyone I come in contact with to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Ring Them Bells-Sufjan Stevens, I'm Not There Soundtrack

The cover song is a tricky animal, especially when it comes to a Bob Dylan song. I have a hard time separating the singer from the song. There are very few Bob Dylan covers that hold my interest, & only two in my opinion that eclipse the original, those being Jimi Hendrix's All Along the Watchtower & Jerry Garcia's Senor. When I first heard the lineup for the I'm Not There soundtrack I was excited because many of my favorite artists cover Bob Dylan songs. The key to a good cover song is to make it your own. Johnny Cash was the best at making every song he sang his own. Sufjan does this with Ring Them Bells, giving it an elaborate, upbeat arrangement, that is grandiose in scope.

Dark Eyes-Iron & Wine/Calexico, I'm Not There Soundtrack

You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do What You're Told)-the White Stripes, Icky Thump

Jacksonville-Sufjan Stevens, Come On, Feel the Illinoise!

Ring Them Bells-Bob Dylan, The Great Musical Experience, 1994

the mountains are filled with lost sheep...

Happy Wednesday, friends, see you in the funny papers...


Friday, November 23, 2007

Hallelujah! I'm ready to go!

Wednesday was a long day. I had to work from 6:45 'til about 7:30 at night. I had a customer who could be described as somewhat less than grateful call & tell me he'd be there about 10 minutes after close & asked if I could wait for him. I did, & not only did he show up late, he stayed alot longer than you would think for someone who was late. I then had to drive all the way downtown to the bank to drop off the deposit in the rain, & I had to drop something off on my way home. I was in an awful kind of mood, 'til I walked in the door & Christie was there with a big smile. I have her to come to for the rest of my life, & soon all the petty little things that were bugging me were washed away. We went out for a nice late meal at the Dee Lite & downtown Grand Haven was a great place to be on a cold & rainy night. I have a lot to be thankful for, not the least of which was spending time with my family yesterday & doing nothing at all today except drinking coffee, listening to music & watching the snow fall.

I'm trying to think of the name of a hymn that's been going through my head lately, I can hum it but I can't think of the name of it, I would venture it's probably the most popular thanksgiving hymn. Anybody have any ideas? I'm sure it was played in somebody's church Wednesday or Thursday?

For anybody who wants to listen, here's the annual Bailey White story played on NPR. Christie & I listened to it on the way home, it was good...


Five Favorite Songs of the Day

I Believe in You-Bob Dylan, Europe 2002

Unknown hymn

Cabaret-Louis Armstrong

Nettie Moore-Bob Dylan, Detroit 2006

Harsher Winters-Kevin Davis, Eulogies for November

Happy Friday, friends...


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Somewhere so high above this wall...

Happy Sunday, friends. I can't remember a year when I've looked more forward to Thanksgiving then this year. I am looking forward to spending time with the family, but what I'm most thankful for this week is having four days off. My plan at the beginning of the year was to take vacation time around this time of the year, but with the new job I haven't been able to. In fact, it seems like I'm working twice as hard & twice as much, but that's okay. I think I'm getting something done. This week will be long even though it's only three days as I will be working almost open to close every day & there will only be two of us there. That's okay, too, I like to earn my breaks.


It's the immemorial feelings
I like the best: hunger, thirst,
their satisfaction; work-weariness,
earned rest; the falling again
from loneliness to love;
the green growth the mind takes
from the pastures in March;
the gayety in the stride
of a good team of Belgian mares
that seems to shudder from me
through all my ancestry.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

When the Roses Bloom Again-Wilco

If you don't love this song, I'll give you a dollar.

A Satisfied Mind-Porter Wagoner

I Shall Be Released-Bob Dylan, Blackbushe 1978

Love Would Come-Kevin Davis, Eulogies for November

I Want You-Bob Dylan, MTV Unplugged Rehearsals

I love the line, "I wasn't born to lose you". It's quintessential Dylan as it has several meanings. I wasn't born to have you, I was born to be with you & never to leave you, I was born to be with you & you are tempting fate to leave me. I'd love to be one of the techs when rehearsals like this are going on.

Happy Sunday friends, I wasn't born to say goodbye to you, so I'll just say see you later...


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Happy Sunday, friends. It looks to be a beautiful Fall Sunday here in Grand Haven. It's a bit cloudy, but I think that the colors of the grass & of the trees are more vivid when it's cloudy, call me crazy. Yesterday was my Mother's birthday, & I can't help but think that she made me appreciate days like these. She sees the beauty & excitement in little things & she likes to make little adventures for herself, especially with her grandkids & her best pal Joyce. She taught me not to take things too seriously, to always look for the good in others, it's only money, to find the harmony in a song & many, many other things. Happy Birthday, ma, I love you.

In other news, the great painting spree of '07 continues this weekend, this time the bathroom. It was Christie's choice, a bright green. I was a bit skeptical at first, but it looks really good against the maple cabinets. It really "pops", as Christie & decorator people are wont to say. Today, I'll put the second coat on.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Where do we go from here?-the Oscar Peterson Trio, the Great Connection

This is a wonderful little whimsical song, I wish I could give you a clip of it. Dan, when I asked Melvin which jazz piano players I should check out, the first one he told me was Oscar Peterson.

Billy 1-Bob Dylan, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid Soundtrack

Mr Tambourine Man-Bob Dylan Live at Newport, 1964

Sweetness Follows-REM, Automatic for the People

Is There Anybody Here?-Phil Ochs, There But for Fortune

Happy Sunday, friends...


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Alot of things can get in the way when you're trying to do what's right...

Hello, friends. A couple of years ago, Brother Dan bought me a Cutty Sark on the rocks at a little place across the street from his store called the Doo Drop Inn. It was a charming little place that looked like it hadn't been remodeled since the '70s. I went to his old store yesterday to pick some stuff up & I saw that the Doo Drop had been torn down. Dan is long gone, & I just found out that his replacement will be gone soon, too. That's what happens I guess, people & places move on down the line.

It's kind of depressing, really, the way things change. Change isn't bad on it's own, but sometimes the things that cause the change is bad. I think of the changes that have occurred since I've lived in West Michigan. When I first got here, 28th Street east of the highway was the prime retail space in Grand Rapids. Now, that area has gone downhill & the prime areas are heading farther east & farther west leaving the spaces in between to be unused strip malls. Here in Grand Haven, there are a million condo units that have been built, many of them vacant after a couple of years. There's a huge project right on US-31 right as you come into town that has more condos & retail space. I can imagine the planners of this project as they were trying to convince the city to approve the project by saying that it would bring in new businesses in town, helping the economy. Well, that hasn't really happened, instead, existing businesses have moved into the prime spots, leaving buildings in older, less desirous parts of the city vacant. It all seems terribly irresponsible. Oh well, what do I know?

Speaking of retail, I went to Lowe's today to buy a new toilet, vanity & sink for the store bathroom. After a half hour of figuring out which toilet would be best, I got to the checkout lane only to find out that they wouldn't take my store's checks. That is an hour of my life that I will never, ever get back. I don't mind wasting time, but I'd rather waste my time blathering on & on in a silly blog or watching Seinfeld reruns then wasting my time at Lowe's.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)-Bob Dylan, Amsterdam, 2007

This gets my vote for the performance of the year. It was a new, sped up arrangement with a great descending guitar riff that bookends the verses perfectly elevating Bob's singing. The violin plays a great role as well, creating a repetitive uneasy sound that suits the lyrics perfectly.

Oh My Lord-Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, No More Shall We Part

Ain't Talkin'-Bob Dylan, Amserdam, 2007

Mind's Eye-Josh Ritter, the Historical Conquest of Josh Ritter

Naked as a Window-Josh Ritter

No Cars Go-Arcade Fire, Neon Bible

Happy Wednesday, friends...


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Grand Haven, Michigan
the sun shines on a dog's ass every now & then...