Archive for 2009

But Wait, There’s More!

Posted by on Thursday, 31 December, 2009

I also get to pick my selection for the best song of the decade:

“Mr. Brightside” by the Killers. With no runners-up, it was a crap decade for music.

Wait, was 2001 in this decade? Let me rethink this.
“Kite” – U2
“Cut Here” – The Cure
“Idioteque” – Radiohead
“Lost Cause” – Beck
“Hurt” – Johnny Cash
“My December” – Linkin Park
“No One Knows” – Queens of the Stone Age
And what the heck, let’s throw in:
“Fresh Feeling” – Eels
“Such Great Heights” – The Postal Service
“How Far We’ve Come” – Matchbox 20
“Vindicated” – Dashboard Confessional
“Something Beautiful” – The Newsboys
“Pork and Beans” – Weezer
“The Wrong Side” – Abney Park
“Viva la Vida” – Coldplay*
“Crazy” – Gnarls Barkley
“Apartment Story” – The National
“Feel Good Inc.” – Gorillaz
“Hoppípolla” – Sigur Rós

So that’s a list. I probably forgot some. Is it shallow of me to only mention songs that were massive hits? Seems shallow of me. Although, since I have repeatedly mentioned that I do not listen to music much anymore, a song would have to be awfully popular to come to my attention. Oh, and we still need a winner? Let’s see… Hey, what was that song with the “Ode to Joy” guitar solo again? It kind of went: Jealousy, turning saints into the sea/turning through sick lullabies/choking on your alibis/but it’s just the price I pay/destiny is calling me; open up my eager eyes…
Cause I’m Mr.

Ah, yes. First instinct is usually best.

*A couple of years ago I wanted to add this song to my regular year end list, except that I thought it was called, “Speed of Sound.” I then discovered that that is a different song by Coldplay. It suddenly dawned on me that Coldplay songs are all slightly different shades of the same color. It is, however, a pleasant color. I guess you can stay.

Not Even Trying

Posted by on Wednesday, 30 December, 2009

It’s music time again. Back in July I heard a song that made me think I should call the winner early, because I was not likely to hear a better song this year. I should have done it, because now I do not remember anything about that song. Anyway, lately I have been listening to KBIG 104.3 a lot, which is now calling itself “My FM”, but do not worry, it is still a total “chick” station.

I was thinking awhile ago that The Killers are definitely in the running for the best band of their generation… and if only there was another band that was any good at all we could actually have a competition. The Killers did not have a new album this year. (They did have a live album, but I’m not going to count that.)

You know who did have a new album this year? U2. And it might just be the greatest collection of notes and words that they or anyone else have ever put together. I mean, it might… I would not know, I have not heard it. Though what I have heard from it does not particularly support that hypothesis.

I heard a song this summer that featured the nastiest, dirtiest, fuzz pedal guitar tone that I have heard in a great long while. And it was a welcome breath of fresh air to the bland, over-produced drivel of recent years. It took me awhile to track down the song: “E-Pro” by Beck. From 2005. Oh well.

Another song I ran across is “Fresh Feeling” by Eels. I honestly can not explain what I like about it… it is so… peppy. That ain’t like me. It also happens to be from 2000, although it was also on the soundtrack to the movie “Love Happens”, which I did not see, and I doubt that you did either, but I imagine that that gave it the slight boost in popularity which brought it to my attention.

Didn’t anyone write a good song this year? I heard a ditty on the radio: “Put me in a special school/Cause I am such a fool/And I don’t need a single book to teach me how to read/Who needs stupid books?/They are for petty crooks/And I will learn by studying the lessons in my dreams.” Normally I despise commercials, but this one had me thinking, “Interesting… where are you going with this?” Only it was not a commercial, it was “Troublemaker” by Weezer. A radio commercial that makes you stop and pay attention: triumphant success. A song that you mistake for an advertisement: total failure.

I saw Reba McEntire on Conan performing what was actually quite a good song. But no, I am not going to go that route. Can’t do it. Although it is nice to know that she’s still got it*.

So you know what? Screw it. If the music industry is not even going to try anymore, why should I? My pick for song of the year is “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi. Which I have been hearing quite a lot recently for some reason.


*I actually could not name a single Reba McEntire song, including that one. Though I might take a stab with “Consider Me Gone.”


Posted by on Friday, 18 December, 2009

[I originally intended this as a loosely-related intro to this post, but sensing that it might take… oh… three months to get to the point, I chose to post it separately.]

I have gone back part time to a job that I used to have, and semi-coincidentally worked along side someone with whom I have some history. To call a spade a spade, we were friends in high school until he basically stole my girlfriend. So, back in April of this year, on one of my first days back with this company and things had been cordial thus far between this individual and myself, and we were working together in a scissor lift 20 feet in the air when it suddenly occurred to me, “Wait a minute, don’t you hate this guy?”

I did of course, for many years. But that was all such a very long time ago… what does it matter now? So I began to wonder, is that all that forgiveness really is, when the consequences no longer matter? I have heard a few sermons on forgiveness and I feel like there is supposed to be more to it than that.

A few years ago there was some tension with another person, who would regularly cause a scene when I was around. Then I would get emails, so many emails: apologies, then perfectly innocent ones, and often ones that really did not make any sense to me. I felt at the time that the best policy was not to respond to these emails. I could forgive each incident; I certainly found it annoying, but also somewhat comical, and in some respects, I think it was more uncomfortable for others to witness than it really was for me. My concern was that in spite of the apologies, I had no expectation that things would be any different in the future, and I did not want to give this person a “pass” as it were to continue acting in the same manner. [I in no way claim that I handled that situation correctly, but do ask you to take my word for it that this person was not rational enough for us to work out our problem in private, like adults.]

In any event, I am pretty sure that “conditional forgiveness” is not Biblical either. In fact, I recall from at least one sermon, the speaker claimed that forgiveness is not dependent on apologies, moreover, forgiveness benefits YOU, not the person who wronged you.

There is someone else who has been on my mind a lot lately. I keep thinking back to the last time we did anything. It was not technically the last interaction that I had with this person, but it was the last time we had a meaningful one-on-one conversation. I regret that day. Not so much because I did anything wrong (although I did), but more because it was the last chance that I had to set things right. And I did not. It is perhaps the converse to the situation above. How do you apologize, not for a single act, but for a complete pattern of behavior? “I’m sorry. I have been selfish. I have been inconsiderate. I took our friendship for granted. I have been less than honest about my motivations and an overall bad friend, but if you give me another chance, I promise to do better?”

I do not even find that convincing myself.

At the Heart of it All

Posted by on Sunday, 29 November, 2009

I do not know if I have explicitly mentioned it here before, but I suffer from an internet addiction. I really do not like to mention this to people, because I worry that it merely sounds like a euphemism for “pornography addiction.” Which is a serious problem of which it is not my intention to make light, it just so happens that I have a different serious problem.

I have talked for years about canceling my internet service, but still have not followed through. I have in the past taken the smaller steps of blocking particularly time-consuming sites such as youtube and hulu from my computer, and also had a couple of periods where I disconnected my modem and forced myself to go to a local wifi hotspot in order to check email and so forth, but something always comes up that reinforces the necessity of a home internet connection. I rather feel that in this day and age, internet access has become more important than the telephone. (Oh, and also because I have no self-discipline. Let’s not forget that.)

That was all a setup to mention that I recently went on a four week internet fast in an effort to force productivity in other areas. For full disclosure, it was not a 100% abstention, as I did log on occasionally for “business”, i.e. to pay a bill, online banking, I checked my email exactly one time because of a work-related matter, and so forth. Also, I confess that I did have a couple of lapses where I spent a day (or two) researching everything there is to know about whatever random and ultimately pointless topic that happened to be on my mind at the time. I did however manage to avoid facebook, rss reader, webcomics, blogs, online flash games, TV shows, videos, comedy websites, and listening to music.

The first day was quite difficult. I literally went through withdrawals, wondering “What the !@#$ am I supposed to do now?” I think I spent a great deal of that first day literally staring at a wall. The second day I got into a cleaning mode which was a nice change. It was not until the third or fourth day that I finally made it back into the garage to continue with a certain woodworking project.

This of course, was the whole point of the exercise. For I have a great number of ideas and projects that I would like to do “sometime”, but when it comes to getting up and JUST. F$%^ING. DO IT! … I seem to have trouble with that.

So for years, I have blamed the internet, because I would rather surf the internet than do, well, anything really. Within the first few days of my fast, I realized that the problem was actually deeper than that. I have no energy. Even though I have this project that I have been working on, that I want to work on, that I really have nothing better to do than work on… I found that I just did not want to work on it “right now.” I explained it to one person as the feeling you get when you have come home from a long and stressful day at work and you just want to sit down and “veg” for awhile… I feel like that all the time, only I haven’t just worked a long day. I feel that way when I wake up, after breakfast, even after working for just an hour or so I feel like I would like to go back inside and sit down for awhile.

Surfing the internet is something that requires very little energy. If I had a working TV, I might watch that instead. If I had any video games, I might play those. If I subscribed to any magazines, I might read those. Yet, as I mentioned before, the internet is all of those AND MORE. It is, however, a symptom, not the problem.

It is not a particularly new problem either. For as long as I can remember, I have always been a little “slow.” I think slowly; I move slowly; I drive slowly, work slowly, write slowly; and in a more abstract sense, make decisions slowly and accomplish life goals very, VERY, slowly. I am continually frustrated in that just about every task I undertake seems to take far longer than it reasonably should. It would be nice to say that I am merely being “meticulous”, yet that is rarely the case. Take, for example, woodworking, which I am at least pretending to be passionate about lately, yet ultimately I recognize that it takes me a ridiculously long time to do shoddy work.

Anyway, that was my revelation for this month. I have not yet determined if the problem is psychological, physical, or dietary. At this point, I suspect all three.

So Not Helping

Posted by on Wednesday, 21 October, 2009

My last post was because I (for whatever reason) was in a mood on that particular day such that I wanted everyone else to despise me as much as I despise myself. That’s a horrible goal, you say? I know – I’m a horrible person. Bang, done and DONE.

By the way, I did not even know it at the time, but October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which makes that post even nastier than intended, I suppose. Anyway, if I know anything at all about God (and I am not so sure that I do) he is going to have me choke on those words SOON. Watch.

The Dirtiest Mirror

Posted by on Monday, 5 October, 2009

So, my home town hosted a “Believe and Walk the Cure” thing this morning, sponsored in part by Inland Women Fighting Cancer. I initially made the (perhaps understandable) mistake that this was specifically about breast cancer, when in fact it was to benefit the cancer center at a rather famous local university, and thus presumably for all forms of cancer, male or female.

However, on the topic of breast cancer, I found my immediate reaction to be, “It’s too late. What do I care if they find a cure NOW?”

This might not necessarily be the best attitude to have.

In Which the Author Returns to What He Does Best

Posted by on Monday, 14 September, 2009

I do a thing with some people sometimes and after the first couple of times I began to get the distinct impression that one of them did not like me much. As I think is natural in such cases, I found myself asking, “What did I do?”
Well, yeah, obviously I meant *besides* that…
Well how about…
And I was hoping we were passed all that.
And then there’s…
I don’t really see how that would affect…
Hey now, hardly anyone even knows about that last one.
You don’t say?
You know what, just forget I brought it up.

We Keep Trying, And We Do Not Forget

Posted by on Tuesday, 11 August, 2009

Back in January, I posted an old song for someone special. That song was, how do you say, “kinda crappy.” It was more of an unpolished sketch with some interesting ideas and more than a few noticeable mistakes. Perhaps it was not so terrible for what I had to work with back then, but I remember thinking when I posted it that these days pretty much anyone could throw together something better in Garageband.

Now I know what you are probably thinking. That was seven months ago, and we have all “moved on.” Sometimes the world moves a little too quickly for me. So finally, I took my own challenge and threw together something in Garageband.


Timothy “Timmy” Elfstrand
August 11, 2007 – January 10, 2009

Does Anyone Else Ever Want to Punch Their Internal Monologue in the Face?

Posted by on Monday, 13 July, 2009

Hey, remember when you took that Chinese class, so that you might be able to talk to your hypothetical Chinese orphan in her native tongue?
I don’t think you can prove that…
…Only to decide that (for some reason) your little spat with God precluded you from getting married, and thus disqualifying you from the adoption process?
Excuse me…
Which probably is not true by the way, although the fact that you neither have nor want a real job would likely pose a problem.
Did you have point?
Not really. I guess just that you’re an idiot and your dreams are stupid.

Year 6A: The Long Overdue Report

Posted by on Monday, 29 June, 2009

Years One, Two, Three, Four, Five

I once stated the goal of answering the question, “Why do otherwise rational and intelligent people believe this absurd story?” I realize that there may be others following this blog who have wondered the same, but who likely have not put quite the amount of time and energy into “studying” the Christian life that I have. As such, I felt that some sort of report on my findings was in order.

I grew up with the stereotype that women were the religious ones and husbands only grudgingly went to church when their wives forced them. I presume that I must have acquired this view from Hollywood, and as a matter of fact, just last week I saw an example of this stereotype being reinforced in the movie Gran Torino. You can perhaps imagine my confusion upon learning that Christian doctrine dictates that the man is commanded to be the spiritual head of household, and that couples within the church seem to conform to that model (at least in outward appearance.)

While the aforementioned stereotype is not totally accurate, neither is it entirely without merit. I have heard at least four grown men deliver their testimony (the story of how they came to Jesus) in front of the church, and all of them began going to church in order to please their wife. Furthermore, I can not remember a grown man providing any other reason for coming to Christ. This leads me to suspect that at least on some level, all men within the church are merely putting on an overly elaborate, and quite likely subconscious, charade for the benefit of their wives.

This obviously does not account for the numerous single men within the church. I have even known a few divorced men whose ex-wives were the ones not interested in following God. The best I can say here is to not underestimate the power of the status quo. It was difficult for me to initially admit to my family that I had begun going to church, and my family does not even care about such things. It was difficult for me to officially stop going to church because even after just a few years, I felt that I had too much invested to walk away empty handed. I can hardly blame someone who has a whole lifetime involvement, plus actual family pressure, for not wanting to even consider alternatives.

While I was initially shocked to find that intelligent, scientifically-minded people would actually be active church participants, it eventually became clear to me that, by and large, men do not casually discuss theology and the things of God unless they are arranged a meeting with the expressed purpose of doing so. I find that the most intelligent discuss other interests such as technology and cell phones, more than you can possibly imagine.

To be continued.

[As this has been quite obviously backdated, I am forced admit that I started it on time but have been reluctant to come back to it, and I felt it best to just post what I had so far.]