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Top Ten Summer Songs

Obsession of the Week: Summer Songs

I’ve actually been obsessing over summer songs for weeks now. When my seven-year-old’s school let out, I thought I’d add some new songs to his i-pod. As it was, this year he was introduced to The Beach Boys by his music teacher (Thanks Mr. V.) and had spent the better part of spring singing “Surfin Safari” and “Barbara Ann” everywhere he went (my dad should be proud).

In thinking of songs to add, I figured he needed something beside the Beach Boys’ greatest hits so I started making a list of songs about summer. The list quickly turned into an endless download nightmare. I decided to limit myself to only songs about summer that had summer in the title. I’ve always tried to vary my son’s i-pod selection (click here to read more about it) so he’s introduced to a wide variety of music.  I  wanted to make sure the list included hits from as far back as the 60s and included as varied a selection as possible. As it turned out most are from the 70s. Go figure. So here’s my list of  the “Top Ten Summer Songs” in alphabetical order by artist.

  1. Alice Cooper “School’s Out (for Summer)”  
  2. Bananarama “Cruel Summer” (1983) 
  3. Chad& Jeremy “A Summer Song” (1964) 
  4. DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince “Summertime” (1989)
  5. Don Henley “The Boys of Summer” (1984)
  6. Kid Rock “All Summer Long” (2008)* 
  7. Mungo Jerry “In the Summertime” (1970) 
  8. Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta & Cast “Summer Nights” (1978)* 
  9. Ray Lamontagne “For the Summer” (2010)
  10.  Seals & Crofts “Summer Breeze” (1972) 

* this selection made the list but didn’t actually make it on my son’s i-pod due to content and the possibility of him singing the lyrics at full volume. There are certain things you don’t want to hear your seven-year-old sing about even if he doesn’t understand the context.

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Obsession of the Week: Books for Dads

For Father’s Day I want to recommend 3-4 great books. I read two of them two years ago around this time of year and one just last year. All are great resources for dads (particularly if you have sons like I do). All really helped shape my idea of parenting and made me a better dad in the process.

“The Road” by Cormac McCarthy

Skip the movie…there is a deeper haunting feel in the book you don’t get from the movie. You will be hard-pressed to find a more dedicated father story than this one. McCarthy paints a desperate and memorable relationship between a father and his young son in a post-apocalyptic world. Without the single utterance of “I love you”, this father through a gruff exterior shows his son how much he loves him and devoted to protecting him. It’s a story that stays with you and takes you places graphically both in violence and description to make it a very masculine read.

“The Film Club: A True Story of a Father and Son” by David Gilmour

Gilmour’s own son, Jesse, dropped out of school and Gilmour allowed his son to drop out on two conditions; he couldn’t do drugs and had to watch three movies a week with his dad. This non-fiction account of the father/son relationship and the movies they watch is a real page turner. It’s fun to see the movies Gilmour selects and how he relates life lessons to his son during the viewings. It’s also interesting to see how his son develops through the course of the books and movies they watch together. You’ll be surprised by the honestly and emotional realism Gilmour shares in his own story. It’s one of those books you won’t put down because you’ll want to take it all in.

“Boys Should Be Boys; 7 Secrets to Raising Healthy Sons” or “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters” by Dr. Meg Meeker 

I read “Boys Should Be Boys” last year and learned so much about my sons and myself that it changed me as a parent. Dr. Meeker explains how boys think, what they need and how to direct their energies in productive ways. To say this book was enlightening doesn’t say enough about how much this book shaped me as a parent and allowed me to give my sons a little more freedom to explore and test themselves. I got so much out of the “Boys” book, I bought “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters” for my brother who has 4 girls. There is not greater a guide to parenting during these tough times then Dr. Meeker’s books. You’ll learn so much about what makes your kids tick from this noted pediatrician.

So whether you’re a dad yourself or looking for something for your dad this Father’s Day, give these selections and try. And let me know what you think.

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Obsession of the Week: Gene Hackman – the Actor

On Tuesday, Gene Hackman released his first novel, Payback at Morning Peak, and Time magazine interviewed him about the book’s release. In the interview, Hackman talked about his retirement from acting. Retirement? How does an actor of his caliber retire?

This week I watched PBS’s “American Masters” on Clint Eastwood and in it I was reminded of how great Hackman was in Unforgiven. It was basically an uncomplicated part that Hackman made complex and interesting. Hackman won his second Oscar for the role. I also recently watched Bonnie and Clyde where Hackman played Clyde’s brother, Buck, for which he received his first Oscar nomination and first gained fame for his film work. Again, I was reminded of Hackman’s ability to take a small part and make it something special.

Inspired by these viewings, I watched Mississippi Burning last night for which Hackman received another well-deserved Oscar nomination. It’s incredible to watch his performance in this film. He plays a deeply flawed FBI agent who knows the Klan too well as his father was a member. His good ol’ boy character evolves over the course of the film. He’s broken, he’s imperfect and he’s tough. The part is so much of what we love in Hackman as an actor that it’s a shame he has given acting up.

In the Time magazine interview, Hackman talks about living in New Mexico where many movies are being shot these days. He talked about still having “wanderlust” for filmmaking and tells a story of pulling up in his car to a young assistant director directing traffic on location for a film. He pulled up and asked if they were hiring for any extras. The woman simply said, “No, I’m very sorry sir.”

You can’t help but wonder if this two-time Oscar winner feels like movie-making no longer needs a man like him in the comic book dominated world that overwhelms movie theatres these days. Less anyone forget, Hackman was Lex Luther in the original Superman movies. We miss you Gene and wish you would continue acting!

Other not to be missed Hackman roles (not mentioned above): The French Connection, Hoosiers, Young Frankenstein, The Firm, Crimson Tide, and Get Shorty.

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“Obsession of the Week” (OTW) posts talk about some pop culture reference that has infiltrated my head for the week. I use “obsession” because aren’t we all little obsessive and fanatical about the things we like so much to the point that we saturate ourselves in it and make ourselves sick of it only to move on to something else.

Obsession of the Week: Time Magazine; May 20, 2011 Issue

While I didn’t cheer Osama’s death or feel instant satisfaction that this country was on the right course again (“It’s the economy stupid”), this week’s issue of Time magazine had some incredible noteworthy articles in it. The magazine challenged its writers to reflect not just on the news of the day, but on the past decade that began the Bush described “War on Terror.” What transpires in the magazine is some brilliant reporting and fascinating analysis on our modern world. Two articles stand out for me in particular; “When Terror Loses Its Grip” by Fareer Zakaria and Nancy Gibb’s “Second Thoughts” piece entitled “Where Victory Lies.”

Gibb’s piece really brings home the sense ofAmerica’s naiveté prior to 9/11, as she relays a story about her own 7 and 4-year-old daughters on that historic day nearly ten years ago. On 9/11, Gibb was in the car listening to a “safe and sunny” oldies station when the music broadcast was interrupted with news of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center. To which Gibb’s 4-year-old commented on  how the men flying the planes should have been more careful. Gibb’s 7-year-oldquickly instructed her younger sister that it was no accident and that those men meant to knock down the buildings. Gibbs writes:

 “And I wondered. When was it, somewhere along the way, that she had discovered the presence of evil in the world? At 4, it was unthinkable. By 7, it was undeniable. She did not need fairy tales; she knew what evil looked like, smelled like, and I wondered exactly how and when that had happened – and whether it happened sooner for children like her, born into peace and prosperity and then baptized on a beautiful fall day by cataclysm.”

Writing doesn’t get any better than that – period. Gibbs opens her piece with this emotionally real-life metaphor for what the entire country was feeling that day ten years ago. She goes on to state that for all the terrorists’ efforts, we as Americans, at our heart, have been  left mostly unchanged. It’s a gleaming piece about how the terrorists attempted to change our will and didn’t. The article ends with this passage:

“We didn’t seal our borders; immigration actually rose. We still fly, and with e-tickets no less. We’re a more vigilant society but just as rambunctious. We argue with each other, join the Marine Corps and the Peace Corps. And across the world, all through the Middle East, we watch the kids Bin Laden hoped would be his foot soldiers choose peaceful change instead. Our kids learned early about evil. But they grew up learning how it is fought.”

Zakaria’s piece, very  unlike Gibbs take a more in-depth look at what is going on in the Middle East right now and how Bin Laden’s death doesn’t really mean that much to a region who has long since moved on from what he was selling. Zakaria, who famously wrote after 9/11 the article “Why They Hate Us,” paints a remarkable and insightful picture of how the Middle East is changing right in front of us. He writes about how the central issue in the region has been the “stagnation and repression of the Arab world – 40 years of tyranny and decay” which led to the extremists movements of Al-Qaeda and how their venom really had little to do with us directly (Look out – the same thing is happening in most African nations as we breathe).

Zakaria stipulates that these movements only found their grounding in mosques because religion was the only thing dictators couldn’t ban. It was the one place people weren’t censored and thus opposition was born within the walls of the mosques. American became the enemy only because we propped up and sent aid to the oppressive dictators the people hated (think Iraq,Egypt,Saudi Arabia and Pakistan). “Al-Qaeda is a Saudi-Egyptian alliance that was formed to topple the Saudi and Egyptian regimes and others like them.” Their interests weren’t against America but America’s support for the oppression against them.

 Zakaria also details how the “Arab Spring” has shattered what Al-Qaeda hopped to achieve. He even goes as far as to say the nation-building that George W. Bush preached about in Iraq had a direct effect in bringing about the “Arab Spring” of rebellions. People got a taste for freedom in the region and wanted it for themselves.

 The article has some great insight  and paints both the Obama and Bush administrations as having a profound effect on what is happening today in the Middle East and how Al-Qaeda as a global threat has been greatly diminished.

These two articles alone are worthy of the newsstand price. Run out and get a copy. There’s some really great award-worthy journalism between the covers. And, of course, the cover itself is a keepsake. Good stuff! 

Obsession of the Week: Miranda Lambert’s “Heart Like Mine”

From her multi-platinum and Grammy-winning album “Revolution,” Miranda Lambert’s latest single, “Heart Like Mine,” is a great message song about the judgment of humans toward the weaknesses or “sins” of others and how a person’s fate and salvation is really between them and their God. 

Lambert admits the song about a “sinner” who drinks and smokes is autobiographical. Lambert grew up in a Christian church and admits she doesn’t always live the life of a “model” Christian as reflected with lyrics that go:

Even though I hate to admit it
Sometimes I smoke cigarettes
Christian folks say I should quit it
I just smile and say, “God bless”


‘Cause I heard Jesus, He drank wine
I bet we’d get along just fine
He could calm a storm and heal the blind
And I bet He’d understand a heart like mine

Daddy cried when he saw my tattoo
Said, he loved me anyway
My brother got the brains of the family
So I thought I’d learn to sing

The song ends with: These are the days that I will remember, when my name’s called on the roll, they’ll meet with two long stem glasses and make a toast to me coming home.

The fundamental truth is everything we do is really only between us and God and no matter what others may think or see on the outside, God knows our heart and that is all that matters.

The song while having a Christian message is charting elsewhere. Billboard has it as the #3 song on the Country Chart, #33 on the Radio Play Chart and #45 on the Hot 100 Chart. Its message seems to be resonating with more than just Country and Christian listeners. 

I am far from perfect and just love songs that keep it real. We’re far too judgmental of others and their “evil ways” when in fact we struggle with our own faults both known and unknown. Like a parent who loves his daughter in-spite of her tattoo, God loves us in-spite our vices and weaknesses just the same.

If you enjoyed this post…why not subscribe to this blog. It’s easy just look to the right and add your email address.

“Obsession of the Week” (OTW) posts talk about some pop culture reference that has infiltrated my head for the week. I use “obsession” because aren’t we all little obsessive and fanatical about the things we like so much to the point that we saturate ourselves in it and make ourselves sick of it only to move on to something else.

One of My Favorite Political Subjects: Part 3 in the “Reach Out of Your Darkness” series

Immigration remains a hot topic today. It is one of my favorite subjects to tackle and my series this week really encompasses all my favorites.  This one tends to draw the most criticism (nationally and even within my family). The issue of those that immigrated here legally versus those who come illegally seems to be the tipping point for most critics of my position on immigration. I think this article addresses the points of that very well here.

The point of the article isn’t to argue what the reform should be or who should be here or not. It is more about showing tolerance for those who come here seeking a better life and suffer discrimination similar to the discrimination your ancestors likely endured as well. 

 Click here to read \”Immigration Tolerance: Reach Out of Your Darkness (Part 3)\” 

In the article, I also attached this video from School House Rock of the 1970s. I think it best simplifies the immigration culture of America’s history (although it leaves out slavery entirely). It was also my first introduction to the importance immigrants played in our nation’s growth that included my ancestors as well.