newthingsold

The wise man is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things both new and old.

Month: August, 2016

Waiting for a punchline that never came.

This is a review of the book Kanye West Owes Me $300: And Other True Stories from a White Rapper Who Almost Made It by Jensen Karp.

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At the onset, I want to get somethings out of the way. This book is everything I look for in a memoir: humor, riffs on pop culture, obscure movie/music references, a good turn of a phrase, poignant writing, and a good story. Establishing these points, I had trouble getting into Kanye West Owes Me $300. The humor was so well phrased on the page and the story was so anti-climactic, I was waiting for a punchline. The whole time I was waiting for Karp to end up saying something like, “Yeah… I was just messing with you.” Because I was waiting for it, I ended up not able to appreciate the book until after I finished it.

Karp writes a lively, engaging narrative about being a young Jewish boy who falls in love with hip-hop and then begins to pursue it as a career. The individual pieces of the story seem almost too coincidental to be believable, and by the end the reader ends up crushed when things don’t quite work out for him like they did for Eminem. Or Vanilla Ice for that matter. But such is life.

And that’s what makes this story good. Karp doesn’t gloss over or romanticize any of what happens, which even then the honesty makes it a little hard to take. That level of humor and honesty with so little disappointment resonating through the words is admirable.

In the end, Kanye West Owes Me $300 is worth the time invested in reading. I will revisit this story at least a couple more times before I pass it off to a friend because I enjoy the humor and the story.

I received my copy of this book for free through the Blogging for Books program. I was not obligated to post a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.

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I still haven’t been to Black Pines Animal Sanctuary.

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Today is officially the last day of Summer Break 2016 before the 2016-17 contract year begins. It would be really easy to get hung up on all the things I didn’t do this summer- including the activity mentioned in the title. But as easy as that might be, doing so would get me hung up on all the awesome things that happened this summer. So, in no particular order (and yes, I am good with this being a brag post), here’s all the stuff I can remember doing this summer:

  1. Celebrated my very first Father’s Day as a father, complete with cookout and all the works.
  2. I presented a session at a national education conference to a standing-room only crowd.
  3. I saw Brand New play for almost two hours up in Michigan.
  4. I saw a 4o’ grain silo painted to look like a Minion.
  5. I bench pressed my body weight (actually, I bench pressed 15 pounds more than my body weight).
  6. I got to spend time with family I don’t normally get to spend time with, including my brother-in-law from Spokane, WA and my second cousins from the Netherlands.
  7. I tried Brazilian cuisine.
  8. I went to Sea World.
  9. I got completely soaked by the killer whales at Sea World.
  10. I got a new guitar.
  11. I spend multiple mornings getting to watch my daughter wake up.
  12. I saw the sun set, watch a meteor shower, and then watched the sun rise.
  13. I learned how to play blues guitar.
  14. I finished the academic component of the credentialing process with the Indiana District of the Assemblies of God.
  15. I took multiple day trips to different parts of Indiana with Sarah and Kizzy.
  16. Every other thing that I am forgetting at this point.
  17. I shaved.

Last year was the summer of firsts; but this summer definitely gave the previous one a run for its money.

The invisible letter.

Part time during the summer, I work at the local ice cream shop in Rome City, Sundaes on Sylvan- and also subtly undo all the hard work and exercise I do during the summer as well. Anyways…

 

As an individual who has studied the English language, I am aware of the phenomenon of silent letters in words. These are words that do not sound how they look on the page. Words such as name, climb, Wednesday, etc. have silent letters. This summer has taught me about another letter category: the invisible letter.

 

From working at Sundaes on Sylvan, I have learned that there is such as thing in English as the invisible letter. That is the only rational explanation for why a word spelled “sherbet” is pronounced sh-ur-burt. Perhaps it is just an invisible “r”, because some people insist that little children “Wash (w-or-sh) their hands.” Has anyone else encountered invisible letters before?

Something my daughter taught me about humanity.

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Kizzy with her guard pug, Skippy.

Let me set the scene:

I am sitting in my recliner drinking a cup of coffee this morning. The house is quiet and peaceful. Sarah is on the couch laying down; the dogs are taking morning naps. My daughter Kizzy is on the floor playing. She is contentedly grabbing the various toys, smiling as the shakes them and looks around.

But every three minutes or so, she pauses and looks up at me to see if I am looking at her. And then, if I am looking at her, am I smiling.

After about the third time of doing this, I became aware that this is a behavior pattern. And that this isn’t something limited to infants.

It’s human nature to want to things:

  1. It’s human nature to want people to notice us. We want to be seen and we want to know that someone knows we’re around.
  2. It’s human nature to want others to be loved.

 

And it’s funny that even at thirty, I still want to feel noticed and I want to be loved. In one way or another it feels like everything I do can be traced back to those notions. It’s selfish, but it’s true.

Where this becomes unselfish is in how it can transform the way we interact with others.

If we treat others in a way that understands and validates their innate need to feel seen and loved, it can transform not only them but us in the process.

Try it and see what happens.

Book Review: A Doubter’s Guide to the Ten Commandments

This is a review of the book A Doubter’s Guide to the Ten Commandments by John Dickson.

This book is good. This book is thorough. This book has a misleading title. Let me say these three things about A Doubter’s Guide to the Ten Commandments up front. I enjoyed reading ADGTC‘s contents. As soon as I started to consider how the title connects to the subject, I come up short.

The back cover of the book mentions that the Ten Commandments are “10 ancient instructions that have changed the world- like it or not.” In actuality, ADGTC walks the reader through how a 3,500 year old document has molded and shaped Western morality and ethics. Dickson does a compelling job of demonstrating this reality. He walks the reader commandment by commandment through how the driving notion behind it was applied in context and then how it is applied to everyday life. He also addresses how prominent contestors of religion- Harris, Krauss, Dawkins, etc.- would refute the various commandments by stating they are nothing more than another version of a different religion’s teachings, like the Buddha’s. Then he deconstructs the nuances of their arguments and shows how it is truly the driving thought of the commandment that has informed Western morality.

Where this book gets me is that the title seems to be edgy for the sake of being edgy. Reading from the lens of the doubter, the only big thing I would have walked away from this book with is that the Ten Commandments have a hand in how we function as a culture. In order to doubt the Ten Commandments, I would have to know what they are already. The only way I could be a doubter is to be a doubter as to how large a role in our culture the Commandments play. Perhaps that is the intention; if so, Dickson succeeds. If not, well…

A Doubter’s Guide to the Ten Commandments is full of research, incorporated thought from prominent philosophers and intellectuals, and practical application. It is worth a read for the history and context, as well as thoughtful discourse on religion.

 

I received my copy of this book for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for writing a review. I was not obligated to post a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.