Paddock vs. Petty: If You Had to Pick One

I’ll declare at the outset that what I’m about to propose is a false dichotomy. This world is not divided into Tom Pettys and Stephen Paddocks. But I’m going to go ahead and assume that this is a false dichotomy worth exploring, holding our introspective discoveries in check with an anchor in the greyscale reality of infinite possibility between extremes.

Image courtesy of

October 2, 2017 will forever be marked by the saddest pair of bookends any day could ever hope to claim: Stephen Paddock shot approximately 600 people, killing 60 of them, including himself. One guy in a little over an hour. At the end of the day, Tom Petty died after being rushed to a hospital having been discovered in full cardiac arrest. He affected more lives than Paddock and did so in a diametrically opposite way.

From one perspective, these two men influenced people in ways almost every single one of us cannot relate to. Shooting into a crowd of concert goers from a self-constructed military outpost high above in a hotel room with no expressed motive . . . writing, recording, and performing songs that added beauty, understanding, enjoyment, and life to the experience of uncountable millions . . . almost no one in the world knows what it’s like to do that.

But the reactions I read on social media, heard on the news, and felt in my soul after hearing of these two inexpressibly sad events fell into two very different compartments.

After the shooting, the reactions were filled with anger, raw pain, shock, arguments, accusations, judgments, and hatred.

As the news of Tom Petty’s impending death leaked across the wire, the reactions were more poignantly phrased memories of his music, quotes of his lyrics, links to his songs and videos and photos.

Paddock incited our emotions to violence while Petty caused us to wax poetic.

And I was left wondering which approach I really want to take.

Look, I know there’s a place for debating/extolling the need for gun control. I know there’s a belief out there that guns without restrictions are necessary for defending ourselves against the government . . . especially this government. I know that discussions about mental illnesses and how we deal with them as a society are probably vital.


Please don’t forget to add beauty into the world. I’m sure there are plenty of Facebook fights and controversial posts that have led to great improvements and personal/community revolutions that have changed society for the better, but it’s a lot easier to remember the songs, stories, plays, works of art, photos, films, and random expressions of kindness that were a bit more effective at sweeping away the clouds and reminding us that the sun shines on us all.

Beauty is a right. Beauty is a privilege. Beauty is a responsibility. Beauty is a necessity.

Beauty is a renewable resource. Let’s get to it.

New Mumford & Sons: Ghosts or Something

So, Mumford & Sons has three moods: spirited and angry, spirited and hopeful, slow and mournful. They appeared last week on Philadelphia’s Radio 104.5 (just out of thin air, they appeared!) to perform a a new song from that third genre of breezily shuffling melancholy. It’s called “Ghosts.” Or “Ghosts That We Knew.” Or “Who Cares, Just Shut Up And Play the Song.”

After giving it several listens and analyzing the lyrics over the weekend, here’s my merciless review:

It’s nice. Check it out if your current device is so enabled.

For the flash-unfriendly, here’s a youtube version:

Random Sobriety

Or sober randomness.

Usually I try to make these lists of random thoughts kind of funny. If it happens this time, it’s entirely unintentional.

Writing to one person at a time has been far more intriguing to me than writing on this blog . . . which has been known to draw as many as two readers at a time.

I’m a sloppy prayer, but I try to keep it going.

Colin has taken to effusively expressing how much he’ll miss Heather and me when either of us is getting ready to go anywhere. It’s the nicest, most heartbreaking thing.

Addison has that friend at school. The one who teaches him what the bad words and rude hand gestures are. I’m so happy about this.

When I worry about him being too young to be exposed to that type of thing, I remember I was a couple years younger than he was when I took my Vulgarity 101 survey course. But Christian schools are advanced like that.

I was second in line at the CPO (Campus Post Office) here at Moody last week. The person in front of the line had a rather lengthy issue he needed resolved. When he finally departed the counter, no fewer than 8 students pushed past me to turn in package request slips, and one to just plain cut. I was amazed and impressed by their uniform rudeness. I won’t say they’re all going to hell. But they obviously have a way of bringing a little piece of hell with them wherever they go.

Don’t we all.

Seriously, we all need help. So help somebody.

By all means, eat food that is good for you. Just remember to feed your soul ice cream.

We got our goldfish a new fish tank. Our first fish was too big for the tank he had. Then we adopted a second, so . . . it was the ghetto of fish dwellings. They’re moving on up.

People love their pets, man.

Life is really one big lesson in how much I don’t know.

Facebook is becoming something other than Internet. It’s not even commerce or community. It’s like the new government. I’m afraid.

I’m writing stuff you can’t read yet.

Not because you’re not smart enough, I’m just not showing anyone.

I have long believed that you see a person differently when you look him or her in the eyes. If you’re having trouble relating to someone or taking them seriously or understanding them, the eyes have it. If they don’t, move on.

If you don’t understand what aposiopesis is . . .

Hate  is a strong word. But that doesn’t mean you should never use it. And just because you don’t use the word doesn’t mean you aren’t guilty of hatred. You’re just as likely compounding it with dishonesty.

I don’t know when you’re reading this, but I’m hungry. Trust me.

Here’s a playlist. If you don’t have spotify, I’m sorry. It’s part of the new government.

Green Bird

It's not easy bein' awesome.

I’ve always liked the song “Bein’ Green.” Kermit sings it. Ray Charles sings it. Two musical giants right there. Well, one musical giant and a musical frog. Still, impressive. But the thing I love about the song is that it’s not just a Muppet kids song, it’s a song for people who are different. I’ve always suspected I was different. This has been substantiated many times over through peculiar and suspicious glances in my general direction and the occasional direct statement of fact.

“Adam. You’re weird/different/strange/odd/bizarre/you’re own person.” Ah, Thanksgiving.

But it’s also about people who blend in with ordinary stuff. It’s not just that we’re different from other people, it’s that we grow up as background scenery. We’re not Zach Galifianakis. We’re not Ben Stiller. We’re one of two ferns on the interview set.

At the bridge, the song transitions from bemoaning the familiar, nondescript nature of greenness to celebrating its vibrancy, grandeur, and overall sparkliness. I guess I can identify with both blending and sticking out like a green thumb. But I’ve never felt so close to the song as I did when I heard Andrew Bird’s version, a track off the Green Album (full of Muppets songs and nostalgia and wonderful artists such as Weezer, My Morning Jacket, and Rachael Yamagata). Give it a listen. You won’t be disappointed.

Wait, you were disappointed? Pardon my French.

Couldn’t listen because of flash restraints? I understand. Flash isn’t for everyone. Here’s something more YouTubular:

Morning Minute 9-9-2011

My niece Mackenzie sees things her own way. That’s a gift.

I can’t remember what triggered the memory (impossible to imagine me having a random thought, I know, but it happens), but I recently had a flashback to watching Return to Me with Mackenzie. She liked it. She didn’t complain. 98% of the movie left her smiling, but one story line absolutely captivated her. Here’s how she viewed the movie:

The gorilla, Sidney, needed a new cage.  david duchovny’s character’s wife died her heart was used in a transplant to save minnie driver’s character who then serendipitously fell in love with david duchovny’s character without knowing that her heart used to belong to his wife and then they found out and oh my goodness that’s so weird but then it wasn’t and then they wound up together because their hearts were meant to be together and what in the world is wrong with that. Then Sidney got a new cage! Applause!!!!

The question on most people’s minds: when and how will the two romantic leads finally make this crazy situation work? The question on Mackenzie’s mind: will Sidney get the bigger, better habitat she deserves? Who is asking the right question? I don’t care. But I know Mackenzie was asking the question no one else was asking. She wins.

So this is what I ask myself: what are the so-called small victories that could be easily won were I not so concerned about the issues that, according to popular opinion, are more important? Am I trying to make everyone happy when I should be trying to make Mackenzie happy? Or Heather? Or Colin? Or Reuben, Carrie, or Jamarcus? You get the idea.


Morning Minute 8-24-2011

Today, I’m tired. The guy who drove the carpool today was worried the car he was trying to park next to was over the line.  It wasn’t. I know, great story. But it did instantly trigger a great song in my mind.

Top Ten Movie Soundtracks That Are Better Than Their Movies

I meet a lot of my music at the theater. Sometimes I don’t even bother seeing the movie. And there was an era in the ’90s when soundtracks were the only reason I’d even care about a film. So this is a nod to those flicks outdone by their tunes. Not all are bad movies. But they’re among my favorite albums of all time.

10. So I Married an Axe Murderer

Jane, get me off this crazy thing . . . called . . . love.

I always liked this movie. Loved, maybe. It’s full of quotable hilarity (It’s like an orange on a toothpick.) Ironically, one of its only weaknesses is the incessant recurrence of “There She Goes” throughout its entirety. But as fine as the movie is, and as annoying as that song becomes by the time it’s over, I love the soundtrack more. But since the movie’s so good, it comes in at number 10. (Let’s be honest, this one’s just here as an argument starter; I could have just as easily listed Tommy Boy.
Soundtrack highlight: “Brother,” Toad the Wet Sprocket

9. Dead Man Walking

I watched the movie once. I've listened to the soundtrack dozens of times.

Another great movie. And great in an entirely different way. But the soundtrack is complete, a work of art.
Soundtrack highlight: “In Your Mind,” Johnny Cash

8. Singles

Cameron Crowe, king of the scene-stealing soundtrack

Singles wasn’t terrible, but it pales in comparison to the Seattlecentric mix of greatness assembled by Cameron Crowe. And really, Crowe deserves a list devoted entirely to him. And that’s no slight against his skills as a filmmaker, he’s just got supreme taste in music.
Soundtrack highlight: “Breath,” Pearl Jam

7. Pump Up the Volume

The movie was obscene, but the soundtrack was filthy.

Christian Slater delivered a disturbingly fun performance as the same character he played in every movie from Heathers on, but he didn’t have a prayer of living up to the music his character cued up throughout this flick.
Soundtrack highlight: “Wave of Mutilation,” Pixies

6. Natural Born Killers

Oliver Stone likes to shock maybe a little too much, but he always sets it to good music.

Oh, Oliver Stone. I remember this movie. I can’t dream of a scenario when I’d ever watch it again. I could do with another spin of that album, though.
Soundtrack highlight: “Sweet Jane,” Cowboy Junkies

5. Elizabethtown

Two volumes of musical goodness

Cameron Crowe, again. I debated leaving this one off and substituting Hope Floats somewhere in here, but that movie was so not good, I didn’t see the point in including it’s just-okay soundtrack. This one, however, was inspired by Patty Griffin. In the end, the decision was a no-brainer.
Soundtrack highlight: “Jesus Was a Cross Maker,” Rachael Yamagata

4. Marie Antoinette

I've never seen it. But come on.

Sofia Coppola is probably a great director. One of these days I’ll actually watch one of her films. It would be easier if I could stop listening to this music.
Soundtrack highlight: “Natural’s Not in It,” Gang of Four

3. Footloose

Everybody cut. Every. Body. Cut.

Take away the soundtrack and what have you got? Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon would be the hardest game ever. John Lithgow would be a beet farmer in Pennsylvania. Sarah Jessica Parker never would have been sexy in the city, nor would she have married Ferris. And what’s-her-name who played the lead female role would have a shelf full of Oscars.
Soundtrack highlight: “Footloose,” Kenny Loggins

2. Dirty Dancing

Yeah. I'm putting Baby in a corner.

This movie is not good, people. It’s not. But it did bring dancing back with music that made it easy.
Soundtrack highlight: “Hungry Eyes,” Eric Carmen

1. Reality Bites

Here's the reality: the movie bites.

Never has a movie made it easier for critics to be honest with their one-liners. I mean, really. It’s too bad, because the music is so fantastic. And the cast is all kinds of awesome . . . look at those three! Just don’t watch the movie. Ouch.
Soundtrack highlight: “Stay,” Lisa Loeb

Random Random

It’s Friday. Unless you’re reading this on some other day, in which case you should make it Friday in your heart.

Which are they, thunderstorms or lightning storms? Seems like the sound gets all the lexical pub.

Pop-Tarts, people. Pop. Tarts.

Has anyone checked on Pluto? He put on a brave face at first, but what hope is there for a former planet? Lots, Pluto. Lots.

Whenever you’re reading this, I’m hungry. I promise.

Friends. That is all.

At Dairy Queen, when they mess up an order, they just throw away the whoops. When you feel like crying and don’t understand why? It’s the DQ.

Allowing people to be wrong will add 10 years to your life.

Unless by “other people,” you mean air traffic controllers.

Yep. Still hungry.

Let me tell you what I know about the debt ceiling and national economics in general.

Pooh on Potter

Okay, I love Harry Potter. The books more than the movies, but I really do love the whole enterprise. Mostly. I’ve seen and enjoyed all the movies, but the hype of their release doesn’t consume me the way the books did as they apparated into my life. I am excited to see how the final chapter looks on the big (2-D) screen, but . . . wait, hold on just one second . . .

This new WordPress update is hot!

Okay, where was I? Yes, I like the movies. Love the books. But with that in mind, I’m more excited about another British import: Winnie the Pooh.

The animation looks simple. The drawing looks exquisite. All of it looks pretty true to the original . . . well, the original Disney stuff. The thing I’m most excited about? The music. Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward (aka She and Him) are all over the soundtrack. And they are delightful. I downloaded the album as soon as I could. It’s cool. I’d love for my kids to see the movie. And I’d love for you to hear this song.

Now, if you can’t listen to that link, try watching this little preview:

The film trailer is pretty huggable too:

Angry Birds

This post: not about Angry Birds, the app I’ve never played. I have enough addictions without adding an angry one. No, this post is about anger and how infectious it can be.

So why birds? Maybe because birds of an angry feather stay the flock together. Maybe because when people get really angry, they flash a bird or two to express their rage. Or maybe I just thought the title Angry Birds was a good way to draw traffic. Who can know?

So where was I? Oh, yes, anger. Anger is sticky. I usually save my anger for two groups of people: those who I love most and those I don’t think I’ll ever see again. I’ll yell at the guy in the car in front of me who waits two seconds after the light turns green before getting started. (It’s green, you moron, move . . . TODAY!) I won’t yell at the pizza guy who doesn’t realize my pizza has been sitting on a shelf behind him for 10 minutes. I won’t yell at my neighbor for failing to clean up the giant pile of firework crap he blew into my yard, but I will yell at my kids for not eating their dinners expediently. Or I’ll raise my voice.

See, that’s another thing about anger. We don’t admit to it. I’m not angry, I’m frustrated. I’m not yelling, I’m raising my voice. I’m not punching the wall, I’m looking for studs with conviction. DON’T LAUGH AT MY DANGLING MODIFIER. I wish there wasn’t this stigma with anger. It should be okay to say, Yeah, I was yelling. Yes, I’m mad. Because it feels as though half the madness of anger is the emotional combustion that results when we feel prohibited from expressing our anger in the first place.

But permission to be angry isn’t the solution to all our problems. In the “people I don’t know” category, I could tone down my rage just by relaxing a bit about trivial things like traffic and Cubs baseball.

The real challenge, though, is the anger we feel and express at home within our families. I get angry when my kids don’t listen, when they disregard rules they’ve known about for years, when they get angry with each other. Yeah, that last one’s fun. STOP YELLING! But anger feeds itself. I get mad, she gets mad, they get mad until we’re all mad. Those are the best days..

I think (I don’t know, it’s just a theory) that the best way to diffuse anger is not to use it. I mean, when something makes me angry, I tend to use that anger to fuel my response. Hence the yelling. Or the biting sarcasm. Or the breaking stuff. But when I do that, I pass my anger on to the next person. It’s crazy how it works. If I yell at someone, nine times out of nine and a half, I’ll get yelled at in response. And the yelling dissipates slowly once we all realize we’d rather not be yelling. We really would enjoy the not yelling, if we could give it a try. We all know this. But when we all begin sharing our anger so generously, it’s rather difficult to return to stinginess.

I think I’d find myself less yellish if I could use my anger only as motivation to act or speak, not as fuel or the guiding force. Like, I’m angry, I should do something. Why don’t I take Thing 1 aside for a chat about throwing food. Or, why don’t I think up a reasonable punishment. Not, I’m angry, ROAR, SMASH!

It’s just so difficult sometimes. Okay, always. Our family’s been a gang of four for four years now, and each of us has gotten really adept at knowing exactly what makes the other three angry. I suppose we should be learning what makes us all happy. And we do know how to make each other happy. We’re happy more often than angry. But when the anger does inevitably flare up, it’s just a matter of taking the time to think before responding. Maybe.

I think it’s possible. You know those people who always manage to stay cool no matter how angry everyone else gets? They make me so mad. But I guess they’re on to something.

UPDATE: I figured I’d add a Friday Playlist of one to this post: Broken Edge, “No Shelter,” from the Karate Kid soundtrack. Because it’s so angry.