From me and mine to you and yours: happy new year! I hope this is a great one and that it brings you closer to our Lord!
If you’re somewhere between 25 and 33, and are at all a fan of video games, I bet you vividly remember the first time you laid your eyes on Super Mario 64.
The game was beautiful, smooth-looking, immersive, challenging, and a heck of a good time.
Whether you were in one of the painting worlds, looking for that next juicy gold star to make Mario celebrate, or exploring one of the castles many, many rooms and corridors, or taking Bowser on to free the princess, this game was hours … and days … and months… and years of fun.
What’s your favorite Super Mario 64 memory?
Did you know that I have a secret identity?
As a musician, I go by Joshua Wake.
As Joshua Wake, I’ve had (and continue to have) a number of fun adventures. Let me tell you about about the time that I performed at a venue in Richmond, Virginia called The National.
The National is a large venue where major, mainstream acts regularly perform. Getting to play there was one of the most exciting events of my music career so far (and I would love to play there again!).
Pulling up to the venue and parking my Jeep Liberty where massive tour busses idled and unloaded such artists as 311, Nine Inch Nails, Silversun Pickups, Ben Folds, Iron and Wine, and Tegan and Sara was great, and loading my equipment through the same doors that these musicians used was even better.
I shared the show that night with three other groups.
A special thanks to Hero Gets The Girl, because they arranged the show.
I spent the most time interacting with the Juniper Green guys out of any of the acts, and they seemed like exciting guys who are going places.
Madd Hatter were more of a classic group, and I didn’t get to interact with them at all, outside of seeing their performance.
After unloading my equipment, I grabbed a stool and sat quietly tuning my acoustic as the night’s headliner did their sound check.
Finally, it was my turn. Their sound tech positioned me and I did my best to sound awesome.
Some of the staff paused in the doorways to listen and watch as I did my sound check – that was one of the best parts of the whole night.
After my sound check, we (my wife and I) toured the parts of the National that few people but the artists and their entourages get to see.
There are some rooms upstairs, and a jacuzzi. But the funniest thing we found was a basement tunnel that’s beneath the stage.
My wife and I, in an attempt to not interfere with the stage, successfully got lost and had a maintenance guy point us in the correct direction … just like in Spinal Tap!
A little while later, after hanging out with some of the other musicians and watching some CMT (which they had on TV’s in the artist rooms), it was just about time for me to hit the stage.
Standing in the wings, waiting to get the go-ahead to start my performance was so neat.
The performance was pretty good, I think. I was actually recovering from a cold, was pretty nervous (and rightfully so!), and kind of blew out my voice when I got too excited during sound check. Ha! But all things considered, I had fun and I think the audience did too – I mean, how could you sing along to a few bars of Rebecca Black’s Friday and not have a good time?
What are some fun / funny things you’ve done before performing?
They say you can never go home. They weren’t thinking about TV when they said that, but the same philosophy applies.
After getting my TV show / movie fix from sources like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu for the past two or three years plus, I find it increasingly uncomfortable to watch traditional TV.
I’ve gotten so used to watching whatever TV show or movie I want to whenever I want to do so, that the thought of forming my schedule around the time a network decides to air something makes me puff up my feathers like a disgruntled pigeon.
And can we talk about commercials?
I’ve gotten so used to being able to watch whatever I want without having it interrupted by commercials that I feel like I’m being brainwashed when I watch traditional TV.
I’m so used to spending my TV time watching programs instead of advertisements that I can’t believe how much time traditional TV watchers spend letting businesses attempt to mesmerize them into buying their junk.
So I guess this is a cautionary tale, but in a good way (I think). Once you get used to getting your TV through non-traditional means, it can make traditional TV seem awkward after a few years.
How do you like to watch your favorite programs and movies?
Have you noticed that it’s incredibly difficult to pay attention to someone (even if you really want to!) in a restaurant filled with TVs?
It’s a relatively recent phenomenon that you can walk into just about any restaurant of your choosing and expect it to house TVs.
Perhaps people are to blame because many families got used to eating dinner in front of the TV instead of gathered around a dinner table. Maybe restaurants figured that must be what people want, so they would serve that environment up to their customers (in addition to delicious cheeseburgers, steaks, and chicken tenders).
And maybe the tactic has been effective. But at what cost?
I find that it’s difficult to focus on the people that I am with when I am surrounded by television screens. Even when I make a concerted effort to ignore the TV and focus on my company, I find it nearly impossible.
It’s like there’s something in our physical makeup that makes it difficult to not focus on the bright, shiny, changing thing nearby when you try to focus on something sitting still in front of you.
I wouldn’t be surprised if we started to see restaurants that advertise themselves to be television free. Maybe that’ll be the next gimmick to get people into the booths.
Do you find it difficult to focus on people when you’re surrounded by televisions? What do you do to concentrate?
Perfect social interactions. Perfect timing. Nice, tidy beginnings and endings. Solvable problems. Oh man, doesn’t life seem wonderful for TV characters?
And that being said, why, oh why, can’t real life be like that?
I think I know why.
In real life, the social awkwardness and piles of issues upon issues give us a limitless amount of opportunities to grow, to change, and to overcome our issues.
If we lived a life like the characters on TV, we would overcome problems one at a time, and then start all over with very similar problems next week.
But, thankfully, God didn’t leave us hanging — he gave out lives meaning and purpose, and the ability to grow over time.
In real life, we are changing in hugely significant ways all the time. We grow in ways that we can’t possibly understand – ways that bring us ever closer to being who we are supposed to be.
Thank God for that!
Super markets are stocked to capacity with hot sauce of various flavors and strengths. When you’re in a store, checking out the selection, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Never again! Read on for my tips and recommendations for finding a hot sauce that you’ll love.
Is Tabasco really the best hot sauce?
No. Not only do I think that Tabasco isn’t the best hot sauce, I don’t think it belongs on the top tier. Tabasco has done a great job of marketing their brand as the ultimate-classic hot sauce, but I find that it’s flavor does the exact opposite of what it claims to do (it says that it adds flavor rather than heat to food).
But why? What’s wrong with them? It’s the vinegar! The basis of Tabasco is vinegar – not spices. I find that hot sauces that base their recipe on vinegar have a lot of heat and not a lot of taste.
What about Cholula?
Cholula is one of my favorite hot sauces. I discovered it in a Mexican restaurant when I gave it a shot by dribbling a few drops on my food. Those drops led to me dunking my food in Cholula as a sauce.
Cholula is delicious. If you haven’t tried it, do yourself a favor and check it out!
What about Tessemae’s?
Tessemae’s seems to be new on the scene. They boast that their ingredients are fresh and that their bottles don’t contain chemicals that keep their dressings and sauces fresh – that’s what the fridge is for!
Their hot sauce is the perfect mixture of taste and heat. It’s tasty enough for you to enjoy it while you eat it, and it leaves a sense of heat that gives you a kick that some people enjoy.
What about you: What’s your favorite hot sauce? What are your favorite foods to eat with hot sauce? Leave a comment and let us know!
Now that May, June, and July have slipped past us (and August is starting to gather its things and head for the door), it’s time to admit… summer is almost over. And that means that this is the perfect time to start performing end of the summer rituals.
I used to end each summer saying goodbye to each of the things that I loved to do during the summer, but couldn’t do during the school year back when I was in school.
I would say goodbye to stuff like staying awake late and sleeping in. I would say goodbye to having almost all of my attention to focus on music and anything else that interested me.
That was my ritual for years. But then one year it came time to go through all my favorite things about summer and say goodbye to them individually, but… I didn’t want to. Instead, I thought about all of the things the new year was bringing to me – what a shift in attitude!
I looked forward to learning, meeting new people, and having new experiences. And that act of saying hello instead of goodbye, while it felt good, it also felt like a fitting finale to my end of summer ritual. I haven’t done hellos or goodbyes since then, and I haven’t adopted or created any new rituals.
What about you? Do you have any end of the summer rituals?
Before I end this post and the summer ends, I hope that you’ll join with me in making a concerted effort to squeeze the last bits of awesomeness out of the summer before heading into the fall season to start ramping up for Halloween spookiness!