Thursday, May 18, 2017

Chris Cornell

This morning as I finished my shift at work, news broke that Chris Cornell (lead singer of Soundgarden and Audioslave) passed away suddenly at the age of 52. It was later revealed that Chris took his own life in his hotel room in Detroit. It's a sad story. For no specific reason, I don't usually join in the chorus of people who mourn celebrity deaths. Truthfully, as much as some of these musicians and actors have inspired me, and I have found solace in thier work - I don't know them, and I don't think that what I have to say on the internet is particularly helpful to anyone other then me. But in this case, I felt compelled to add my voice to the people.

I didn't know Chris Cornell, I never met him, and I never even got to see him perform in concert. I have no amazing stories of how his music saved my life, or got me through a specifically hard time - but what I can say is that Chris Cornell, and his amazing voice were a significant part of the soundtrack of my life. Whether it be hearing Soundgarden for the first time at the hands of my Uncle David (He played me "Spoonman" of course), or whether it was going back and discovering his one time supergroup Temple of the Dog, or whether it was embracing certain songs out of his solo career, or whether it was later on with Audioslave - his voice - no matter what ensemble it was found with was always close to my heart and close to my ears.

Let's talk about his voice. If you read articles and stuff you'll hear about the uniqueness of his voice. You'll hear about his near 4 octave range, you'll hear about his rankings in lists of top rock vocalists etc - but you don't need all that. All you have to do is listen. He's got a great singing voice. He can bring it down and be intimate, he can scream, he can sing. He was blessed with a wonderful voice. And as a non-musician, music loving, amateur singing sensation - I paid special attention that voice.

He was also part of a special generation and special "scene" of musicians. Much is made of the Seattle Grunge movement of the late 80's and early to mid 90's. Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, and of course Nirvana. These bands shared a creative spark coming out of the Pacific Northwest scene, but also in my opinion (however uninformed it might be) they drove each other to greater excellence in music.

Anyway, his death is sad. Sadder still as it is a result of suicide. And I thought instead of saying all the cliche things that people say in moments like these - that instead I would share with you (and yes I'm aware there is no one reading this blog again yet) my favorite song from each segment of Chris Cornell's career. So, my favorite Soundgarden song, my favorite Temple of the Dog song, my favorite Chris Cornell solo song, and my favorite Audioslave song. I'm also going to link you to a special bonus song - a live performance of a particularly meaningful Led Zeppelin song - that he absolutely destroys in a good way. As an aside if you were to ask me - my favorite Chris Cornell record is Temple of the Dog - it's pretty freakin' amazing. So - thank you Chris Cornell for sharing your gift, and here in this space I will share it as well.

Soundgarden - Fell on Black Days

Temple of the Dog - Say Hello 2 Heaven

Chris Cornell - Sunshower

Audioslave - I am the Highway

Chris Cornell - Thank You (Led Zeppelin Cover)

Coming out of retirement

The other night I did something crazy…..I played ball hockey. Now you might be thinking: “What’s so crazy about that? You like Hockey, you played hockey, and you even played some semblance of ball hockey back in your college days” (15 years ago). Well, you are correct. On the surface it doesn’t seem crazy. Until I stepped onto the arena floor.

So, I joined up with a team that has a hard time getting its team members to show up and is often in need of replacement players. So I agreed to go and play for their team at the request of my friend the librarian. I had a real nervous energy going – it has been a long time since I played any form of competitive hockey, and clearly there were some good guys playing. In fact, at 33 years old, I was the oldest guy on my team (other than the goalie). So, I get out for my first shift, we take the ball into the other teams zone, my teammate has the ball in the corner, feeds me a perfect pass in the slot, and the goalie makes the save, and then the other teams defenseman clears the puck, and the other team goes up the other direction – looking to attack our net. By now – the adrenaline has worn off, and I realize that I have to run. And I realize that this rink that we are playing in is huge, and I realize that I haven’t actually run for anything in probably 15 years, because my legs feel like they are stuck in cement. Yikes. Somehow I manage to get up the rink and try to play defence, cause that’s what good hockey players do – but wow – I couldn’t breathe. I realized for the first time – just how out of shape I am in.

You know, I play squash, but the running in squash is short bursts in a small area – ball hockey is sustained running in a large hockey rink. Lord, I was in trouble. Well, I made it back to the bench – caught my breath – and then did ok for the rest of the night. I wasn’t fast – in fact, I was slow – but I didn’t feel like I was dying for the rest of the game – which I take as a good sign.  

I don’t want to get to philosophical on you, because this really is just a story about how fat, slow, and out of shape I am, and the sporting activity that showed me these things. But it reminds me of the command in scripture to discipline ourselves

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

The truth is, I wasn’t prepared to play that game. I was unfit to compete, in fact, although I was only a -1 on the night, and even though my corsi was pretty good (I’ve never had corsi before) because I wasn’t prepared I was a liability to my team.

The same can be true in our lives in other areas as well. For me, God has called and gifted me for certain things that he is preparing for me to accomplish, but if I don’t train, If I’m not prepared for those things – then I will most certainly fail, or perhaps miss the opportunities completely.

I don’t want to be that guy. I want to be prepared to be able to say yes to whatever God throws at me (as much as I can be). I want to stop missing opportunities because I haven’t looked after my health/fitness, or finances, or some other discipline needed in my life. Sometimes people look at discipline and see it as a hindrance – but as I see it now – by being disciplined – you will be FREE to do the things you want to do (like playing ball hockey at a reasonable level of competition), and you will be FREE to do the things that God brings into your life – whether it be some challenge, or opportunity. Being unprepared or unfit, or lazy I can see now is a much bigger hindrance and can hold you captive way more than being disciplined. Discipline leads to freedom. Interesting. Now I need to just put it more into practise.

Ok, I know that this got way more spiritual/philosophical then you were prepared for – so to take us out – I will recommend some music. Take a listen to “Heroes” by Peter Gabriel. It’s a David Bowie cover, and I heard it in an episode of the Netflix beauty “Stranger Things”. And frankly the placement of the song – in the episode was so perfect that I might just recommend you watch “Stranger Things” and wait for the song to come on. It’s so worth it. It’s one of the best uses of song in film or television that I’ve seen/heard in a long freakin’ time. So anyway, that’s my story. Watch “Stranger Things” and wait for Peter Gabriel's’ cover of the David Bowie song “Heroes”. And then if you are really bored you could listen to the David Bowie version, and then listen to the Wallflowers version from the Godzilla soundtrack (I think it was Godzilla) which was a weird soundtrack that I once owned – it had a Puff Daddy/Led Zeppelin song on it. What was I thinking?

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Boyz 2 Men, Rob Zombie, Backstreet Boys and Skid Row

 So, the other day I was going through my old case of mix cds. Yes, I still have my mix cd's - dating back as far as 16 years ago. Anyway, my wife and I were by ourselves, on a drive, and I was feeling romantic. So, I grabbed a mix cd that I made in highschool (actually I first made a mix tape, but I didn't have a tape player with me so I made a mix cd version of the original mixtape). The mix cd was titled "Mike's Sweet A** Mix". Now, here's a thing you should know about me. I grew up a rocker. I was raised on the Beatles, and Eric Clapton,  Pink Floyd (my dad's influence) before being introduced to Metallica, Aerosmith, Motley Crue, and Guns N' Roses (my uncle's influence). After that I morphed into something else - becoming a mix of all kinds of rock music - listening to 90's Canadian alternative rock, to emo, folk, and everything inbetween. But no matter what band I was listening to, I always considered myself a rocker at heart, and usually one with a bit of a harder edge. With all that in mind as a preface, you must also understand that I had/have a romantic side. I've always been drawn to love songs - ballads. You see. I can sing, I've always been able to, and there was something about these love songs and ballads that drew me in as a way of expressing romantic feelings towards girls in a way that I normally couldn't. In other words - these songs said what I wanted to say to girls that I was crushing on - but didn't have the confidence to do so. But I could envision myself winning over these girls with my magnficent singing voice and these magnificent songs of love and devotion. Spoiler alert - it didn't work.

So, with all these songs of love and balladry (i just made up a word) running through my heart and mind I decided to make a mix tape with my favorite love songs on it. So, that if I was ever with a girl driving in my parents minivan, I could pop in this tape and set the mood. It was brilliant really. Except that I felt like I was shaming my rock and roll roots. I felt like I was giving up part of my integrity and my rock and roll street cred. How can I be wearing my "Ride the Lightning Metallica" shirt to school on Monday and listening to a cd with Backstreet Boys on it on friday. I felt embarresment at my lack of rock ethic.

So, here is how I compromised. I made this mix tape full of love songs - featuring the likes of Backstreet Boys, N'Sync, Boyz 2 Men, Savage Garden - but also featuring 80's power ballads from Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Poisen, and Skid Row. But in order to prove that I still had rock and roll integrity, after three lovey dovey songs I put a song by Rob Zombie on this mix tape. You go from soft, romantic music to the thudding bass and screaming lyrics of Rob Zombie. It's quite something, it's quite disturbing. But hey, I did what I felt I had to do in order to preserve my integrity as a rock and roller.

At the end of the day, I have given up my identity as some hard rocker. I'm too old to care about that stuff anymore. I found more satisfaction in being ok with liking some backstreet boys and Metallica at the same time. I accepted who I was, and didn't care who knew it. I guess the point is - don't pretend to be something you're not - or maybe don't deny that little embarresing part of who you are. It will likely make you more awesome.It's ok to admit that sometimes your soul likes  little N'Sync with your Led Zeppelin. But it's still not ok to like Nickelback or Justin Beiber.

I'll post the cd track listing here in a little while in case you want to listen to the music of my romantic heart circa 2001. It will blow your mind.

So long for now

The Shaolin

Monday, May 01, 2017

The most fun you'll have in three minutes or less.

Ok. So, as you may well know, I re-entered the world of blogging just the other day. It was a good day. Well this morning I was feeling inspired, ready to take on the blogging world and share with you those things that have inspired me. Well, then I couldn't log in to my blog. I knew my username, and I knew my password and for some reason - the fine people at google decided to mess me around, and I don't want to go into the specifics of how they did this - just know that I was very annoyed, and almost gave up on this blog again before it had even restarted - just because of Google's ineptitude.

But back to my inspiration of the day - and surprise surprise - it is musical in nature.

A couple of days ago I had a Johnny Cash song running through my brain. It was a song from his album "American III: Solitary Man" called "I See a Darkness". Anyway, I was at a place where I didn't have access to my copy of that album so I googled the song, planning to listen on youtube. But when I googled the song, I found the original song - the originator of the song - a man called Bonnie Prince Billy. So, I watched his version of the song - which turned out was not the original version of the song - but one he had redone - because he can do that - because he's the writer of the song. Anyway, the one I watched/listen to is awesome in both music and in video, and so as my offering to you my non-existent readers - I give you "I See a Darkness" by Bonnie Prince Billy

The Shaolin

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Shaolin Awakens

Friends. It's time to resurrect this blog....stay tuned....or don't.....but the blog will return...but it won't return until the end of the movie, and it won't say anything...and it'll have a long grey beard and sad eyes that seem to speak of unspeakable tragedy and regret....and then Carrie Fisher will die, and Han Solo will already be we'll never see all three of them together in a Star Wars Film again....clearly I still know how to get off topic and be random. And I think that bodes well for all of you fair readers.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I almost blogged the other day....

...and the title speaks for itself

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Lazy Day Posting

This morning i talked to my friend Jon Kramer. One of the things that came up in conversation was that it was time for me to blog again. I Confessed my lack of inspiration or blogworthy news, and yet here i am.

One of my worst habits (and if this is one of my worst habits, then i am doing pretty good) besides returning books and movies to the library late is not responding to facebook email messages. I don't know why - but for some reason, once i read them i forget about them. And some of them are important.

Anyway - my dad sent me one a couple weeks ago - and it was just a slideshow of pictures of the lower mainland - Vancouver area set to a Bruce Cockburn song that i had forgotten i had ever heard. But it made me miss B.C. - for pretty darn near the first time in my life - i had a yearning to go home and to appreciate the natural beauty that i grew up in the midst of. I want to go home and watch the rain - i want to sit by the ocean and stare up at the mountains - i want to go hunting for bald eagles (not like hunting with a gun) - though i hope to get to do that sometime this year if my friends in Vermilion live up to all thier grandiose promises - though again not hunting for Eagles - apperantly for Coyotes - cool.

And i realize that perhaps this is a sefish blog - because unless you are a displaced British Columbian like myself you may not appreciate the desire for all things British Columbian and in particular lower-mainlandian - vancouvorian right now. I remember when i went to BC on my own for a conference, and really enjoying myself - riding the seabus every morning - walking the streets like i was seeing it all again for the first time.

So that is all - a lingering homesickness for the beauty that i have almost always taken for granted, or maybe it's partly a desire to be somewhere different for a time. Either way - here is a link for the video - the pictures aren't all amazing - like you wouldn't see any of them in a Natural Geographic Magazine or anything - but it's the memories associated with them that affect me. (except for the random picture that i can only assume is of the video poster's children)

Peace out.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

something to consider

Yes, i know my recent rash of blogs have been shallow and meaningless. I haven't had many deep or important thoughts worth sharing of recent, and so in some ways i have treated my blog as an in depth twitter account - puking out whatever worthless meanderings spill forth from my noggin to my fingertips to your eyes. That is assuming anyone reads this, but at this point - i hardly care. But i do apologize. I think back to when blogging was new, and it felt like everything was new and brilliant, and there was a community of other bloggers to confirm those feelings. Now, i am a lonely blogger, who doesn't find profundity as often i as i percieve i used to. Profundidty is now the word of the day.

Speaking of profundities - i was in church today. Ok, that in of itself is not the profunditity. The Pastor was speaking from the book of Nehimiah, explaining to us how Nehemiah took a good look at the broken, destroyed wall of Jerusalem, and how even though he saw it for what it was - he was also able to have a God-perspective - and was somehow able to see the hope and potential that existed in the rebuilding of the wall.
Later on, Pastor connected his message to Jesus, and told the story of when Jesus healed a blind man by rubbing mud in his eyes. The connection was about our blindness, and our inability to see the potential that God sees in our world, in ourselves, in circumstances, and in other people. As i listened to the story, it was like i was hearing it for the first time (though i promise it wasn't). It just struck me that Jesus used the very thing that we are trying to get out of our eyes to heal. The problems with our eyes usually involve something being in them that shouldn't be. Take mud for instance; it doesn't belong in your eyes. It will impair your vision. But it's that foriegn object that Jesus uses to clear out the blindness of that man in Mark 8. Jesus is so cool. I'm aware of the counter cultural lifestyle he calls his followers to - i preach it to my youth - Jesus does not equal an easy life - he does things differently - and through the message today - and as an ordained minister of the Gospel - i should say through the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit, i saw Jesus clearly today and was blown away by the irony and profundity of his work. it may not sound like a big deal to you - which i can understand. Often i can't find the words to explain the things that blow my mind (see any of my musings on music). Most times i can just barely explain that something did deeply affect me - but explaining why or how - good luck - especially at 11:27pm the night before Prayer Retreat.

Basically - the point is - Jesus is so cool.