Throwing Darts At Music…

Throwing Darts…

The older I get, it seems, the greater the stakes with each decision I make.  So, I don’t throw too many darts in my decision making these days.  I did though, a couple weeks ago, throw a single dart at an album cover that caught my eye, an EP by the Nebraska band, Bazile Mills.

There was something about the aesthetic of the album art which caught my eye.  A friend, a music promoter in the Midwest, had posted the EP on his business’s social media page.  I honestly knew nothing about the band or what genre of music it was – I had no idea.  My only safety net was that it was being promoted by Widmest Productions, the enterprise of a friend whose musical tastes and my own often cross paths.

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Rather than check out Bazile Mill’s music on Spotify, YouTube, or Soundcloud, I purchased the EP based solely on the cover art, and the recommendation of my friend.

A few days after I placed my order online, the EP arrived.  Opening it, I was struck by the quality of the packaging.  I say that because startup bands and early releases often default to lesser packaging due to the cost of production.  I hadn’t even heard their music yet, and I was already impressed.  A crisp lyrics sheet accompanied a vivid blue disk.  The t-shirt I ordered along with the EP also impressed me.

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Proof In The Stylus…

Unpackaged, I placed the disk on my turntable, lowered the stylus to the vinyl, and held my breath not having any idea what music lay ahead.

The first track, Personal Concierge, went from reeling me in, to stopping me in my tracks.  There’s a tempo about the song that pulled along the physical me, as the lyrics picked away at the thinking me.  It was one of those rare songs that got me to like it – immediately.

The next two tracks, Spirals Out, and We Are Mistfits (Just Like You) also have tempo that resonates within the senses, and lyrics which tug at the mind.

The final track, We Are Here, has a different feel to it than the previous tracks, but is just as sincere.  Musically, it has a tempo which more allows one to digest the song’s lyrics while listening.

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Mixed Thoughts On The Experience…

I’ll never presume to know or suggest what a lyricist is truly thinking when they share a thought, a moment, or a series of actions by placing them into a song.  We are free to interpret them as we can.  I found the lyrics to all 4 songs worth pondering – again and again.  That’s what a good lyric should do.

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Last week I threw a dart at an album cover.  I hit a bullseye, but I recognize that it was my bullseye and might not be yours.  I do recommend this EP though, for anyone who appreciates mindful music. The 4 songs of Where We Are by Balize Mills provide a wide enough target with the scope of its 4 songs, that anyone throwing a dart will score at least a few points and probably more.

Lastly, I am reminded that within all the structures we keep in place and move about in order that we keep ourselves safe, it’s nice to throw a dart from time to time to keep things fresh.  Or, to take a left where I generally take a right.  Be well…  rc

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2016 At Sunset…

Many I know are glad to be exiting 2016.  It’s been a rough year for more than a few.  I know parents who have lost children, children who have lost parents, friends who have lost neighbors, clients who have lost family, friends, and coworkers.  Of course, the surge of celebrity deaths in 2016 has certainly given many folks reason to pause and consider this as a bad year.

And then, the election happened…

As I tap the last few drops off my own 2016 and prepare to tuck it back behind my zipper, I reflect that this has been an important year in my life, and a very good one, overall.

In 2016 I began listening to my own BS, possibly for the very first time.  This process has helped me better understand who I am, set against the backdrop of learning who I’m not – finally.

In 2016 I was reminded what alcohol still can’t accomplish.

In 2016 I admitted to myself what love really is – by learning the hard way what it isn’t – yet again.

In 2016 not only did I not lose anybody I was close with, but I might actually have found myself – at least for now.

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As the sun sets on 2016, I am glad to have gained all I have gained….

In 2016, above all things, I have come to terms with admitting my cultural and social sensibilities.  That is, I am proud of my beliefs, now more than ever, and I am no longer afraid to hide them.

I’m one of those people of who rather read 1 book 100 times than to read 100 different books.  In 2016 I have read or listened to all the books listed below at least a couple of times this year.  Many though, I have read or listened to multiple times in recent years.

Though they are not the only books I have read in my post-divorce life, these are the books which have most cultivated my adult sensibilities.

They are all available via www.amazon.com, and all but Among Empires via www.audible.com.  I have listed them in no particular order.

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1.      Torture Team: Rumsfeld’s Memo And The Betrayal Of American Values, Philippe Sands

2.      Nonzero: The Logic Of Human Destiny, Robert Wright

3.      Founding Faith: How Our Founding Fathers Forged a Radical New Approach to Religious Liberty, Steve Waldman

4.      The Better Angels Of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, Steven Pinker

5.      Among Empires: American Ascendancy and Its Predecessors, Charles S. Maier

6.      The Drunkards Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives, Leonard Mlodinow

7.      The Intimate Bond: How Animals Shaped Huma History, Brian Fagan

8.      Finding Each Other in Judaism: Meditations on the Rites of Passage from Birth to Immortality, Harold Schulweis

9.      Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson, Jennifer Michael Hecth

10.  Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America, Eboo Patel

11.  The Limits Of Power: The End American Exceptionalism, Andrew Bacevich

12.  The Irony Of American History, Reinhold Niebuhr

13.  The Compleat Angler, Isaak Walton

14.  The Evolution Of God, Robert Wright

15.  The Religions Of Man, Huston Smith

16.  The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism,  Fritjof Capra

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The Morning After…

On the first Sunday after the election of Barack Obama in 2008, I found myself in church.  I know, I was surprised too.  It was a conservative church, in a conservative demographic, with a conservative yet mindful pastor.  The pastor, a thin man in his 40s, began to speak.  I’m quoting this word for word because I still remember the moment clearly…

“I know a lot of you are here this morning with heavy hearts” he said…

…he continued,

“For many here, the election did not have the outcome we desired.  I want to remind you this morning that he will be our next president.  The people have spoken, and it is on our best interest to stand for what we believe, but to respect the will of the people and to respect the office.”

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It didn’t surprise me that he spoke these words, again, he’s a mindful man or I would not have been there.  What did surprise me though, is what happened while he was still speaking those words.  He got booed, and by more than a handful of angry congregants.  I have witnessed much in my life that has shaken my sensibilities.  I have never though, seen a pastor get booed by his congregation.

If it had ended there, I might write it off to an emotional response during a vulnerable time in our culture.  However, in subsequent days the pastor received anonymous threating emails and letters.  Though his job was quite secure, there were some on the church’s board of directors that confronted him about his statement.  They suggested to him that it was ill-advised.  A few even tried to push him out, while some attempted to cajole him, suggesting he resign, despite his success in growing that church.

Eight years later, I am glad to say he still leads that church, and remains one of the more mindful evangelical minsters I have ever known.

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His words that morning though, and the congregation’s reaction, have resonated with me ever since.  That unsavory moment is bubbling in my mind again this week.  I am reminded that as a species, we tend to be at our very best when things are at their very worst, yet there are always exceptions to this. Those exceptions can be cancerous.

Emotions run strong.  Passion is the worst kind of social lubricant, and I am reminded that some of the worst choices ever made were made under the influence of inspiration.

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Stop.  Wait.  Observe.  Respond intelligently.  Conduct with decorum.  This is all I can do this week.  Be well…  rc

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If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this from Simple Minds AND The Stranglers..  Enjoy!