The weight of words

I am a very verbal person, in case you hadn't guessed. I love words and putting them together in a fitting way -- complimentary, cutting, sentimental, etc. My husband loves words as much as I, but he is not as verbally expressive in an emotional way as I am. Daily, I lavish him with "words of affirmation" (one of the five love languages). Words in this intimate context don't carry as much weight for him. Unless, of course, I say something negative.

All bets are off.

Isn't that something? We can spend so much time praising those around us, and it's coming from an honest place. But when that honesty betrays any criticism, a comment is permanently on the record. Oh, that we remembered the nice stuff far more than the rough stuff.

Afterall, the nice stuff is just as true as the rough stuff.

Getting the word out

I haven't actually seen this yet, but I've heart a lot of buzz. It's a "Christian" movie starring Michael W. Smith ... and it doesn't look half bad. The message also looks fresh and worthy of screen-time. I'll go as soon as I get some extra $$. Here's where you can check it out.

In the mean time, I wonder if anyone else is as inspired by one of the songs in the movie as I am. It's called "All in the Serve" and here are the lyrics, though it really must be heard for full effect (click here):

Never gave you nothing
People couldn't explain a way
Never gave you nothing
Without something to gain
Never could slow down enough
To study your face but now
I wanna know your name

Hold my feet to the fire
'Til I'm breaking a sweat
'Til I'll never forget your call and
Keep my in line
Give me the nerve
Here it's all in the serve

Locked in the diamond lane
I keep driving past it
Better to be safe
Than learn what your about
Give me another chance
To go where you're going now
IÂ’m here to walk it out


And a new era is born

Blogging now runs in the family. This one's insights are long overdue.

Straight-up stolen from a dear friend's blog

Ya'll can pass your thanks on to ibid for this riveting idea for a posting :)

Four Jobs I Have Had:
• Editor
• Student media adviser
• Cafe server
• Office assistant

Four Movies I Could Watch Over and Over:
• "Bridget Jones's Diary"
• "Corina, Corina"
• "The Royal Tennenbaums"
• "The Truman Show"

Four Books I Could Read Over and Over:
• "To Kill a Mockingbird" - Lee
• "The Last Battle" - Lewis
• "Romans" - Paul/God
• "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" - Rowling

Four TV Shows I Watch:
• "Friends"
• "Gilmore Girls"
• "Invasion"
• "Project Runway"

Four Places I Have Been on Vacation:
• Orange County, California
• Austin, Texas
• Scotland (all over)
• Dublin, Ireland (on St. Patrick's Day, no less)

Four Websites I Visit (semi-)Daily:
girlfriday's blog
ibid's blog
EveryDayAnne's blog

Four Favorite Foods:
• Pasta
• Dark chocolate
• Cheese
• Fried rice

Four Places I'd Like to Be Right Now:
• Scotland (practically anywhere)
• Austin, Texas
• California coast
• Florence, Italy

Four Favorite Articles of Clothing:
• Leather-looking polyester coat
• Purple pullover sweater from AE
• Snowmen pajama bottoms
• Cookie Monster T-shirt

Four Other things -- What I'm grateful for this very instant:
• Indoor work environment
• Lunch break with Mom
• Free coffee
• Inner peace

Presidents Day fun

I'm not one of the lucky schmucks that gets Presidents Day off, but I wish all the fun in the world for those of you that do! First, here's a little treasure trove of little-known yet highly interesting oval office trivia:

All the president men

And then here are a couple little gems for those of you into "Saturday Night Live" spoofs in general, and the global phenomenon "Lazy Sunday" specifically:

True that
Double true

Spoiled by the Information Age...

...and prone to suspicion. The only thing that went through my mind when I heard Vice President Dick Cheney shot his friend in a hunting accident was, "Man are late-night joke writers gonna have a hay day!" I did not think, "Gasp! I wonder why he REALLY shot him!"

From "The accident happened on Saturday but was not publicly revealed until the next day. ... That decision created a major public relations problem for the White House, with some Republicans even suggesting that it made the situation worse by suggesting the possibility of some sort of cover-up."

Aside from being an atrociously written sentence, I couldn't help but scoff at the words: "The next day." I'm sorry, is that a long time? Has the Information Age spoiled us so much that we think a less-than-24-hour turnaround in news is evidence of a cover-up? I have a better theory: News sources are sore they didn't find out first and were instead scooped by a small-town newspaper in Texas. "How can we explain we weren't the first station to broadcast this news? Ah yes, let's run a headline that reads 'Bush satisfied with Cheney's account.' This will stir up all the interest of a nonstory just enough to raise suspicion (a la this week's 'TomKat denies breakup rumors'). Oh the cleverness of us!"

This is to say nothing of people like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who have clearly made a mountain of a mole hill (the mole hill being a "cover-up," not Mr. Whittington's health, which should be at the heart of every story written or broadcast).

Normally, I don't post a lot on political themes, but some things are easier to write about than a parent's sudden absence.

The Superman of my heart

Today is the designated day to verbalize our romantic feelings and to express our love in the form of chocolate and flowers. Luckily, I'm a girl, so I don't have to buy either! While I don't love my husband any more on Valentine's than any other day, he is worth the time to pause and acknowledge what a fine romance we have.

Our romance has never been punctuated with rose bouquets, Godiva chocolates or shiny jewelry. In all truth, those things have rarely come into play. This is our fourth Feb. 14 together as a couple. Though this year's will probably be the most anticlimactic, I think it will be the best so far. The first little patch of marriage for us has been rough. Financial crises, conflicting schedules, unmet expectations and growing pains in general each take their toll. But through it all, by the grace of God, that little spark -- finding each other's hand just before drifting off to sleep and smiling, or the laugh you share that no one else in the world could understand -- is brighter than ever.

My Superman doesn't need to rescue me from danger every day, or reverse time to change outcomes, or take me on a moonlit flight over the city. My mild-mannered reporter by day saves me with his quiet protection and character of steel.

And I won't even say his name

Henceforth I will refer to a certain chart-topping rap artist by KW: I want to be free to point out his mastery of the ridiculous, but won't give him the satisfaction of saying his name. So no one searching the blogosphere will stop by just because Google produced his name here. That being said...

Here are a couple gems from the oh-so-gracious Grammy loser, who couldn't pull out an album of the year award (not long before the show, he said "If I don't win Album of the Year, I'm gonna really have a problem with that"). The man couldn't be nearly as sore about losing to U2 as he was about losing best new artist a couple years back; KW opens for U2 right now, and you mustn't bite the hand that feeds you. But why the win, K? "Um, can we say vote splitting?" Nice.

In addition to the visual joke that fell slightly flat in KW's first acceptance speech -- a piece of paper with "thank you list" written in big letters to mock any element of surprise Mr. Humility would've felt -- he later revealed a similar piece of paper that would've been flashed had those pesky Grammy voters not split their decision: "I told you so!" Very nice.

To gloss over the fact that his predictions were more than a little off, he offered that what REALLY mattered that night was the performance, which was rockin'. "I would have been more disappointed if I didn't have a good performance and I had won Album of the Year." Naturally. I guess a lot has changed since the night of your "Jesus Walks" performance before losing the best new artist title. That's good, I guess. "The performance, that's what it's about, the entertainment and people having a good time. I just want to see the black colleges right now ... " Ah, there it is! There's that nice little racial job, that "us and them" comment we've come to expect from a manchild who can't finish a paragraph without driving a wedge even further between the races.

But let's get to the heart of all the success and accolades, K: Art, expression, molding minds ... right? Hmmm. "I am more famous now, and that means more money!" Somehow in all of KW's spouting off, this statement is what rings most true. How tragically telling.

Of Grammy night winner Bono, he said, "He has taught me a lot about carrying the fame with grace." Let's hope he rubs off on KW just a little more.

Pleased as punch

The only thing better than watching someone you can't stand take home fewer Grammys than predicted is seeing the best band ever dominating him and everyone else in the room.

The problem of pain -- a hypothetical worth discussing

In a recent comment on girlfriday's blog, one reader talked about the interests of a 1-month-old fetus. Like many out there, she noted that a baby's ability to "feel pain" is a good way to measure the cut-off for legal abortions. Few pro-choice advocates still argue for late-term abortions. But I wonder: Is feeling pain an accurate enough indicator? I say no.

Two weeks ago I read a story a story on about children with an extremely rare disorder called Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidrosis (CIPA). These individuals, quite literally, cannot feel pain. This is a very dangerous condition as teething children, for instance, unknowingly gnaw on their tongues and damage them.

Surely terminating a pregnancy mid-way through the second trimester would be acceptable for a baby that doesn't even feel pain? No. Obviously, these cases are rare. But I mention this to make a point: Pain cannot be our measurement of a living being's value -- a tell-tale way of separating the killable from the livable. (We'll save viability outside the womb for another discussion.) Even if it is a proper measuring stick, who are we to decide what pain feels like, or which pain is legitimate?

From the moment the sperm fertilizes the egg, everything about a person's make-up is decided -- hair color, eye color, etc. etc. It is more than a seed of human life; it IS a human life. We put so much emphasis on a woman's nutrition and physical exertion during those early months of pregnancy, and why? Because we want the baby that's already formed to be healthy.

The fetus inside is infinitely valuable from day 1. Pain has nothing to do with it.

The numbers speak for themselves

The officials from Sunday's game ought to have just put on some Steelers uniforms and got it over with. This is from an poll:

1) What grade would you give referee Bill Leavy's officiating crew for Super Bowl XL?

F 49.4%
D 25.5%
C 14.4%
B 8.8%
A 1.9%

3) Did the officiating in Sunday's game unfairly favor one team?
78.6% Unfairly favored the Steelers
16.5% The right calls were made
4.8% Unfairly favored the Seahawks

4) Which played the biggest role in determining the outcome of the game?
56.3% Officials missing calls
29.2% Seahawks not making plays
14.5% Steelers making plays

5) Do you think the official made the right call on Darrell Jackson's offensive pass interference in the endzone, negating a Seattle touchdown in the first quarter?
No 73.2%
Yes 21.0%
I'm not sure 5.7%

6) Do you think the football broke the plane of the goal line on Ben Roethlisberger's touchdown run in the second quarter?
No 59.0%
Yes 26.2%
I'm not sure 14.8%

7) Do you think the official made the right call on Sean Locklear's holding penalty in the fourth quarter, negating an 18-yard reception to the one-yard line by Jerramy Stevens?
No 73.7%
Yes 15.7%
I'm not sure 10.6%

Total Votes: 145,895 (as of Tuesday morning)

Mad money well spent

A few weekends back, I did something slightly uncharacteristic of me: I bought three CDs in one outing. Before that day, I think I had bought one CD a few months back. As much as I love music, I don't get around to purchasing much of it (and not because I'm pirating it, for the record).

But this particular month, I resolved to spend a nice chunk of change from my mad money to obtain three albums I'd been eyeing for some time: "Chariot" by Gavin DeGraw, "Hot Fuss" by the Killers and "Strange and Beautiful" by Aqualung. I was pretty pleased with myself, too.

My favorite thus far has been the Killers' debut release. Depending on what phase of life I'm in, one genre of music will speak to me more than others, for some inexplicable reason. DeGraw, Killers and Aqualung differ in style enough that one is bound to stand out. And in January 2006, that was "Hot Fuss."

The rock album is a high-octane blend of driving rhythms, big musical sound and vocals (courtesy of Brandon Flowers) that both ache and soar. Nearly every song is a homerun, and the band doesn't waste any time getting things rolling with the first track, "Jenny Was a Friend of Mine." Then there's no letting up; even the "slow" songs make you anxious to hear what's next.

"All These Things That I Have Done" has emerged as my favorite track, though "Mr. Brightside" will always hold the sentimental spot. "All These Things" is an epic unto itself beginning with a foundation, building to a crescendo then going for the jugular with an emotional and cathartic conclusion. The thing even has character development. Great music!

The Killers' sound is intense, the kind of thing you want playing while angry, frustrated or just very determined.

DeGraw's "Chariot" had also been on my list of music to get for ages (I know I'm a slacker, you don't have to tell me). And it is very likable. Gavin is never able to top the lyrical and musical impact of the first track -- "Follow Through" -- on the rest of the album, but I'm not sure he's even trying to. It seems his aim is to convey impressions and observations in a very raw, real way.

His voice is never "touched up" for a glossy effect; it's just a guy singing his guts out. It's organic, and it works. You can't stop yourself from bopping your head (excuse the grandma-ish term) defiantly, even with a snarl, because the songs are so honest. "You sing it, Gavin!" DeGraw is an authentic talent and the only place he's going any time soon is up.

Aqualung's "Strange and Beautiful" is a departure from the type of music I've been infiltrating my ears with of late. This is perhaps why I haven't been giving it the airtime it deserves. Lately it's been all about the punch -- music that builds and really brings it home. Much of Aqualung's music doesn't do that, at least on an obvious level. But if you're paying attention, songs like "Good Times Gonna Come" offer a good climb.

"Strange and Beautiful" is a perfect background for writing or reading and would also play quite nicely in the bedroom (gasp! What did I just say?). Many of the tracks begin with a nice, even lilt; it's almost hypnotizing. But don't take that to mean Aqualung will put you to sleep. His sweet, soulful voice combines flawlessly with lyrics that drip with longing and meaning (just listen to "Brighter Than Sunshine").

P.S. I downloaded five songs from iTunes yesterday, all completely different from one another -- older, newer -- but highly recommended: "Save Me" by Remy Zero (I watch only the beginning of "Smallville" every week to I can hear this song), "The Air That I Breathe" by The Hollies (one of those songs that takes me away every time it comes on the oldies station), "Irish Hymn" by Kevin Max (more people should know how good this ex-D.C. Talk-er is by himself), "Mushaboom" by Feist (girlfriday's rich and random musical knowledge led me to this amazing voice), and "Thank You Stars" by Katie Melua (another girlfriday referral -- a haunting yet simple vocal that lingers in your mind).

Try not to cry on your way to work in the morning... can have a dampening affect. But if you must cry, let it be for a good reason -- it can be cathartic.

I cried on the way to work yesterday because a song came on the radio that I had not heard since I was a young girl. Tears trickled down my face. There were two things at work here: This is a song we listened to quite a bit in my family, so it is tied to lots of "happy, golden" memories for me. Some things in my family are not so happy and golden anymore, and that made me melancholy. The other catalyst was simply the words to the song, and what significance they hold for me now, then and always -- especially within the framework of time's cadence and what God means to me.

The song was "One More Song For You" by the Imperials:

You were there with your songs of laughter
Words of hope for my fears
But what are songs when no one will sing them
What are words when no one hears
There were times Life became a question
When I asked, no one knew
‘til I found the answer in you

And so, as long as there is time, and one breath left in me
There will always be one more song for you
And as Long as there is room, for one more voice in praise
And a need, for a word of love and truth
To help my brother through - there’ll be one more song for you

Love is in the air around me
hope abounds everywhere
Living life in the arms of Jesus
Learning how to really care
Everyday is filled with purpose
All the old is made new
And I know I owe it all to You.

And so, as long as there is time, and one breath left in me
There will always be one more song for you
And as Long as there is room, for one more voice in praise
And a need, for a word of love and truth
To help my brother through - there’ll be one more song for you