42

Sometimes something sneaks up on you and changes how you view things.  Such is the case with 42.  No, I’m not talking about President #42.  I’m talking about the number.  I didn’t know it was following me over the years until recently. Continue reading

March Shuffle 1.0

It’s the last day of the month, so readers will only see one music shuffle this month.  Given the article I posted earlier today, it is obvious music had a huge influence on my own life.  I developed that love at an early age.  I was always involved with music in some way going to school, whether it was choir or theater.  I took piano lessons until 5th grade and even tried the drums and trumpet during middle school.  You really don’t want to hear what my trumpet days sounded like!

“My Favorite Game”, The Cardigans: One of my favorite songs from 1999.  This reminds me of when I went back to visit Sweden that year.  It was my first time back in nearly two years and I had no clue what to expect.  The Cardigans, of course, are from Sweden.

“D’yer Maker”, Led Zeppelin: Back in the 1980s, I got into Led Zeppelin as a young teenager.  If you were “cool”, you dug Zeppelin.  I almost pretended to like a lot of their stuff.  It wasn’t until I was much older that I truly appreciated the band.  I always liked this song though!

“Follow You Follow Me”, Genesis: One of my all-time favorite songs.  This was one of Phil Collin’s first big songs he had vocals on after Peter Gabriel left the band.  When I was a kid, I believed in true love and that all you have to do is say certain things and it would be reciprocated.  Love is a lot more complicated than that.

“Every Breath You Take”, The Police: Most people might not be aware, but this isn’t a song about love and romance.  It’s about a guy actually stalking a woman.  Kind of creepy when you look at it from that angle.  But it was the biggest song in the Summer of ’83 as well as the biggest song from The Police.  That fame eventually led to the band breaking up and lead singer Sting getting his own solo career.  I liked a girl in 8th grade and this song reminded me of her.  Of course, back then I thought it was a song about love.  Such is life as a teenager!

“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”, Blue Oyster Cult: Another song that kind of creeps me out but I love.  This was the song that played at the beginning of “Stephen King’s The Stand” mini-series from 1994 as a virus is released that eventually kills most of the population.  The survivors are either on the side of “good” or “evil”.  Darkness is always overcome by light.

“Tomorrow People”, Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers: When Bob Marley died, many fans never thought they would hear his voice again.  In the late 80s, his son Ziggy showed the world that Bob Marley was alive and well with his voice.  It also reminds me of graduating high school because the song came out around that time.

“The Journey To The Grey Havens”, Howard Shore: I am a Tolkien geek and proud to say it.  The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings will always be favorites of mine.  Howard Shore’s music to the LOTR trilogy was perfect and fit each scene perfectly.  By the time The Return of the King came out in December of 2003, I had already scheduled time off at work to see the movie on opening day.  Shore’s music for the last 20% or so of the film is constantly on my shuffle.

“Parting Words”, Michael Giacchino: The season finale of the first season of LOST will always stand out for me.  Giacchino and the orchestra created a beautiful score as Michael, Walt, Jin and Sawyer prepare to leave the island on a raft.  Farewells were said and a husband and wife parted ways.  Between the epic score and the beautiful scenery of the beach and the great silhouettes of various characters, it was one of the highlights of the show.  Another keeper on my shuffle list.

“Until She Comes”, Psychedelic Furs: From the band’s last studio album in 1991, their first single was one for the ages.  Butler’s moody vocals combined with the guitar and drums in the song created a classic song.  I was dating someone at the time for over a year and a half.  Things were good at that time.

“Drawn To The Blood”, Sufjan Stevens: I just heard this song a few months ago.  During one of the darkest and scariest weekends of my life.  I won’t go into details, but this song perfectly hit how I felt that weekend.

“Into The Mystic”, Van Morrison: “Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic.”  One of the most beautiful songs ever written, musically and lyrically.  This is quintessential Van Morrison here folks.  If you’ve never listened to this song, I urge you to seek it out now.  I consider this one of those songs that always soothes my soul no matter how much that soul seems to be lost or scared.

“And The Cradle Will Rock”, Van Halen: The rowdy screams of David Lee Roth intertwined with Eddie Van Halen’s sliding guitar riffs in this song make it a classic.  “Have you seen Junior’s grades?”  An anthem for the rockers of the early 1980s!

“Fix You”, Yellowcard: The band’s remake of the Coldplay single is much better than the original in my humble opinion.  I spent many years trying to fix something I didn’t think I could replace.  I was wrong.  Don’t get me wrong, I tried.  But some things just can’t be fixed no matter how hard we try.  It is a humbling realization when you finally understand this.

“Chapter 12 Verse 5”, Henry Jackman and Dominic Lewis: Earlier this month, I watched the first two seasons of “The Man In The High Castle”.  I don’t binge-watch shows that much, but from the first episode of this series I was hooked.  This piece was done very early on in the series at a pivotal moment for one of the characters.  Trust is a tricky thing when your back is against the wall and it can be very easy to be fooled.

“Underneath the Sycamore”, Death Cab For Cutie: I listened to this song all the time in the Summer of 2011.  I would drive my son to summer camp in the morning and pop this song in along with many other songs and sing on the way to work at the top of my lungs!

“Under Pressure”, Queen and David Bowie: It is hard for me to pick my absolute favorite song of all time.  There are a few contenders for that position.  This is one of them.  Everything about this song makes it the best.  Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury and David Bowie are in perfect synch and melody with each other.  But the lyrics, the damn lyrics get me every single time. “Cause love’s such an old-fashioned word and love dares you to care for the people on the edge of the night.  And love dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves.  This is our last dance, this is ourselves under pressure.”  The world will never have musical gold quite as good as this.

“All This Time”, Sting: I am going nuts with the awesome songs coming up on this shuffle!  This first single from “The Soul Cages” in 1991 hooked me from the first time I heard it.  I must have played this song a thousand times in the first few months the album came out.  Mixing history and a relationship between a son and his father along with religious verses is something only a singer like Sting could do. “Teachers told us, the Romans built this place.  They built a wall and a temple at an edge of the empire garrison town.  They lived and they died.  They prayed to their gods but the stone gods did not make a sound.  And their empire crumbled and all that was left were the stones the work men found.  All this time, the river flowed.”  How much of what we do will make a difference in a thousand years?  What will we be remembered for, if anything?

“A Gift Of A Thistle”, James Horner: In the movie “Braveheart”, William Wallace’s father dies when he is a young boy.  At his funeral, the boy is lost in his grief.  He knows his life will never be the same again.  He can’t find comfort anywhere.  A little girl, recognizing this, picks a thistle from the ground and gives it to young Wallace.  This tender scene, as Wallace lets the tears flow down his cheek, is the birth of love.  When he returned to his home after many years away, the first thing he did was find that little girl and profess his love to her.  A hand that reaches out can have ramifications that span decades.  Never be afraid to offer comfort to those who are lost and alone.  Many of us have been right where Wallace was at that moment.  But how many have taken on the role of the little girl?

“The Dead Heart”, Midnight Oil: History is filled with subjugation and discrimination.  For the original natives of Australia, this was the story for the Aborigines.  Like Native-Americans in our own country, it took a long time for the native inhabitants of the smallest continent to gain acceptance and respect by the invading white man.  Peter Garrett, the lead singer of Midnight Oil, was very active in helping to make this happen.  He also went into politics and fought for the rights of the Aborigines.  Nothing but respect for those who are forced to leave their land by an invading force!

“All Right”, Toad the Wet Sprocket: I love b-sides to singles.  In the days of digital mp3s and iTunes, the b-side is a lost relic of a bygone age.  This was one of Toad’s b-sides back in 1992.  I didn’t find it until 1995 when the band released a compilation of their b-sides and hidden tracks.  It quickly became one of my favorites from the band.

“Rise”, Eddie Vedder: One of my favorite books and movies from the 00’s was “Into The Wild” by Jon Krakauer.  Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder provided the soundtrack to the film.  Have you ever just gone for a hike by yourself, into the wilderness, and allowed yourself to be surrounded by the vastness and beauty of it all?  I have.  You just want to get away from the world and see the beauty of it for yourself.

“I Got A Name”, Jim Croce: This song always reminds me of my earliest years.  I’m not sure why.  Perhaps I heard it when the song was released in the mid 1970s.  Never be afraid to sing your song.  Don’t be afraid to speak, even when the world doesn’t want you to.  It is your inherent right to speak about things.  Doesn’t always guarantee you will be heard, but for those who want to hear you, they will listen.

“Tequila Sunrise”, The Eagles: Country rock.  It’s the best way to describe the magic that was The Eagles in the 1970s.  The California band told the stories you didn’t read about in the newspaper.  They were the simple stories about love lost, heavy drinking, and the idiosyncrasies of man.  The late Glenn Frey sang his heart out on the song about the morning after.

“The People Who Grinned Themselves To Death”, The Housemartins: I’m not one to follow the crowd.  I don’t always subscribe to the “popular” view.  Usually that view tends to have a price.  That view is often brought about by politicians who are following the will of lobbyists who serve corporations.  The end result is the people having something taken away from them in some way as the companies make more and more money.  It takes time to see through the smoke and mirrors, but once you do it is hard to look away.  For myself, it is even harder not to act on it and point it out so others can see as well.

 

 

 

 

New Beginnings From Yesteryears

Twelve years ago I had a big idea.  It was a monstrous and colossal idea.  So big I couldn’t begin it.  When I first had the big idea, I began to map it out.  I knew much of the who, what, when, where and why.  It was the how that was killing me.  It would be my magnum opus for the world or at least a few readers.  Either way, I knew I had to do it.  I would revisit my idea over the years, continuing the map.  Five years ago, I wrote the prologue and the first chapter.  I haven’t been back since.  This little thing called education got in the way.

The past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about my big idea.  I’m not getting any younger and if I’m ever going to do it, now would be an ideal time.  There are three main sources of inspiration for this, from three areas of my life I have enjoyed since a child: music, tv, and comic books.  For the musical inspiration, one line from a Wallflowers song planted the idea.  The television show Lost, which ran from 2004-2010, germinated the seed.  And finally, my literary muse, the one and only Neil Gaiman, was the one who showed me that even the most random of characters can hold great importance later.

I proudly present “1000 Lives”.  The prologue will give the theme of how this works.  And then… well, you will just have to wait.  It will be so epic that I can’t do it on this blog.  So I have to start a new one.  But Exceptional Delaware will continue as well.  Two blogs, at no price to you the reader.  Please follow “1000 Lives” as it will be completely separate from this blog.  If it isn’t your cup of tea, don’t worry about it.  If it is, spread the word.  This is a fictional story with pieces of real life thrown in for good measure.  I’ve met many people in my forty-six years of life so don’t be surprised at many inspirations spread throughout this online novel.

I invite you on a journey like no other.  I’m not sure if this has ever been attempted before.  If not, look for something very original.  Most stories have a beginning, middle, and an ending.  This story’s beginning starts at the end of one story while opening up many more.

Here is the link to 1000 Lives.

January Shuffle 2.0

I did this a couple of weeks ago and I enjoyed it so much I thought I would do it again.  So here we go! Continue reading

It was 10 years ago today when we were introduced to LOST

I can’t believe it’s been ten years since my favorite show of all time first premiered. I remember it vividly, cause it was my wife’s birthday, and no husband can ever forget that day. Unless you want to get banished to an island for real! It all started with the Party of Five guy waking up in a field of bamboo. And a dog named Vincent. Almost six years later, it ended with the same thing. But the journey was amazing, and kept me glued to the TV every time it was on. As well as the internet, going to forums trying to figure out what the hell was going on with The Island, The Others and The Dharma Initiative.

LOST changed television as we know it. Once LOST premiered to amazing ratings, everyone and their mother was pitching new and different stuff to the networks. This has nothing to do with special education, but in a way it does. It was about a group of people trying to get along, and to make things work in a situation where there was very little hope. They became a family, and we laughed and cried as they went from one adventure to another. We all hated and loved Benjamin Linus at the same time. I still miss LOST, but it did have to end. Plus, there wouldn’t have been any characters left at the rate they were going. Who wants to watch a show about a dog on an island?