Tag Archives: Pop Culture

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: 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: 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”
 

CHORUS

‘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 Examiner.com 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. 

Obsession of the Week: ABC’s “Shark Tank”

Can’t say enough about how much I love the “Shark Tank”. I loved it last season and was bummed when it seemed to disappear. Well, it’s back and better than ever. This entrepreneurial show makes Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice” look amateurish. The show has 5 multi-millionaires and billionaires (the sharks), including Mark Cuban and out-of-place Jeff Foxworthy, who invest their own money into the products and services being pitched to them from average Americans. Some ideas seem brilliant, others seem ridiculous.

What’s most engaging is when the sharks fight one another over the investment they want. It’s like a high stakes poker game to them where beating your “friends” is more important than just winning. It gets dirty between them as they posture and position themselves as the best investor for the idea, while mocking and putting down the other sharks. Other times they throw in together to put one over on another one of the sharks.

The twists and turns are plentiful. You may guess how you think it will turn out for each person coming into the shark tank but without any real rules – anything can happen and does. At times, I’m literally on the edge of my seat watching as dreams and lives change in an instant. Some get what they are looking for, others get more and then some go home with nothing but an insult from one of the sharks (typically billionaire Kevin O’Leary).

The show is based on the Japanese show called “Dragon Den” produced by Sony. This American version is produced both by Sony and reality-show mega-producer, Mark Burnett (“Survivor” and “The Apprentice”). It really is one of the best reality shows out there. Watch it! It’s on ABC Friday nights at 8 pm.

Here’s a trailer to introduce you to the show:

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.

“Grilled Cheesus” Episode on “Glee” Still Stirs

Fox recently reran Glee’s “Grilled Cheesus” episode and I received some new comments and e-mails about my article that came out on Examiner.com when the show originally aired. Click here to read the article.

I am not a fan of “Glee” and certainly think the show is overtly sexualized. Yet, the some have called my praise for the episode misguided. One comment on the article pointed to the fact that the episode makes fun of religion and portrayed religion in a negative light. I didn’t see it that way and responded to the comment. I am posting my response here because what I wrote pretty much sums up what the show was attempting and what I attempt with my Examiner column. Here’s my response:

Dennis,

I think you are too focused on what they didn’t say and less on what they did. This episode basically said that a non-belief in God comes from having been hurt by religion/God and that can be overcome. I also think you missed that they sang “What if God Was One of Us” at the end so God was definitely mentioned. I think that song summed up the intent of the episode that we need to live as if God was one of us.

The fact that people (not just characters on the show) think God and the “moral authority of the universe are bigoted homophobic idiots” is a sad commentary on what you and I are doing to bring those people into belief. Dennis, you are a sinner just like I am…just like the homosexual kid watching the show who feels shunned by religion. Are our sins less then his? Shouldn’t there be a place for him in God’s house every week? If we make room for the adulterous man, the divorced woman, the cheerful alcoholic, the married pedophile, the chronic tax cheater, the girl who aborted her baby and even a murderer every week – shouldn’t religion accept everyone? The fact that gays and others (who feel shamed by their choices in life) are kept away from the church is a saddest part of religion. Add in the fact that we don’t willingly accept believers of other faiths into ours as the greatest cause of war and misery in the world and that is what is wrong with religion today.

While you point out that a kid praying to a sandwich is a slap against belief in general, what about the fact that the two who don’t believe in God were shown what believing can do. Isn’t there hope in that? I think that was the point of the show and my article.

If you read my article, I did criticize the show for its sexual overtones. The show is in no way a religious show (just ask all the pre-teen kids who make up the largest demographic for the show…better yet ask their parents who allow them to watch it).

I simply choose to be more open-minded than others. Sometimes you need to look at the good that can come from a non-religious specific morality tale and see that there is some good there to be gained. Sure it’s not perfect but neither are we. I think (as a religious observer) more was achieved in the episode than wasn’t for believing in religion. Sorry you missed that.