One Faith, Many Paths: Uncle Bill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In my New Years’ Resolution this year, I decided I’d introduce you, the reader, members of my family as part of my One Faith, Many Paths project. First up is my Uncle Bill.

1. What is your job?

Federal Government employee.

2.  What made you decide to become a Christian?

Lots of factors led to my decision but in the end I made a specific choice to believe that Christianity best represented reality.
3. Who is your favorite biblical figure besides Jesus? Why?

God the Father because I like his dialog with Job (aside from being another part of the Trinity and everything else he does) 
4. What is your favorite biblical passage and why?

2 Timothy 1:7  because it is so encouraging

Continue reading “One Faith, Many Paths: Uncle Bill”

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Sandman Retrospective Part 7: Brief Lives

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“You cannot seek destruction and return unscathed”–Desire
Brief Lives returns us to the main arc. It’s drawn by one of my favorite comic book artist, Jill Thompson (who also drew the short “Parliament of Rooks” from the previous volume, Fables and Reflections. She has worked on The Invisibles, Swamp Thing, Wonder Woman, and her own Scary Godmother series. This is also the first story arc under the Vertigo banner.
This arc focuses mostly on Destruction, the only Endless family member who has abandoned his or her post. Delirium has been concerned for him since his departure. At first, she asks Desire and Despair to accompany her on her search, but they refuse. She goes to Dream instead, who reluctantly agrees, hoping it will distract him from brooding over his failed love. He arranges transportation with an old god named Pharrel (formerly a Babylonian deity named Pharamond) Yet everyone who once knew Destruction is met with calamity and death every time Death or Delirium attempt to find out where Destruction is. Dream decides not to continue so as not to endanger any more lives. This infuriates Delirium, who returns to her realm and locks it in anger. Dream then briefly consults Bast, who informs him that she lied about knowing where Destruction resides (tying up a loose end from Season of Mists, which is where we last saw the Egyptian goddess of cats).

Continue reading “Sandman Retrospective Part 7: Brief Lives”

Jason’s Jukebox: The Red Hot Chili Peppers

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(Note: Beginning with this post, I will no longer embed Youtube videos into my Jukebox series. It’s too unpredictable. I’ll just give you the link as is instead.)

“When I find my peace of mind

I’m gonna keep it til the end of time”–“Soul to Squeeze”

Welcome back to Jason’s Jukebox, where I tell you all about every album from my favorite bands.  This time around, I’m looking at the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Last year, they celebrated their 30th anniversary.  I’m going to give you my thoughts on all their albums, rating them in habernero peppers, the hottest peppers known to man.  The higher the amount of haberneros, the better it is. Also, an album that is marked “magnum opus” is what I consider their best work.

(Note: Since this band has changed its roster numerous times, I’m including roster changes where appropriate)

1. Red Hot Chili Peppers (1984)

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Rating: 1 habernero

Roster: Anthony Kiedis–lead vocals

Michael “Flea” Balzary–bass

Jack Sherman–lead guitar

Cliff Martinez–drums

Single: “True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes”

If you’re wondering “Wait, wasn’t Hillel Slovak their first guitarist?” Well, he was on demos of this album, but on the official release, it’s Jack Sherman (if you buy the deluxe version, you can hear those demos with Slovak). Slovak was in another band with Flea and Jack Irons called What is This?. He felt that the Red Hot Chili Peppers were more of a side project. The only positive things I can say is that I like the album cover and “True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes” rocks.  The rest of the album isn’t that great, mostly because EMI didn’t care how it sounded and got anyone they could in the production booth. That changed beginning with the next album, thankfully. This is one of only two albums the Chili Peppers don’t play in concert, the other one being One Hot Minute.

Fun Fact: This is one of the only two Red Hot Chili Peppers albums recorded on vinyl. (The other one is Freaky Styley) Both are extremely rare.
Video link for best song: “True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZdAI3pMcgU)
2. Freaky Styley (1985)

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Rating: Magnum Opus

Roster: Anthony Kiedis–lead vocals

Michael “Flea” Balzary–bass

Hillel Slovak–lead guitar

Cliff Martinez–drums

Singles: “Jungle Man”, “Catholic School Girls Rule”, “Hollywood (Africa)”

This album was produced by George Clinton, one of the Chili Peppers’ biggest influences.  Slovak officially joined the band beginning with this album and made the band sound so much better than their debut.  This was the first album to feature covers: “If You Want Me to Stay” (originally Sly and the Family Stone) and “Africa” (originally The Meters) George Clinton actually suggested that “Africa” be reworked as “Hollywood”. As he put it, Hollywood was the Chili Peppers’ “Africa”, so it was more fitting. He was right. This is a huge improvement over the debut, and I’m going to spotlight more songs because of that.
Fun Facts: The voice saying “Look at that turtle go!” on “Yertle the Turtle” is George Clinton’s drug dealer. This was the first album to feature both an instrumental track and a title track (the instrumental track is the title track, actually). There would not be another title track until Blood Sugar Sex Magik.

Best Songs: “The Brothers Cup” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6bPGKFG0dY
“If You Want Me to Stay” ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKejwpe_ajc)

“American Ghost Dance” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZM3aek9yxE)
3. Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987)

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Rating: 4 1/2 haberneros

Roster: Anthony Kiedis–lead vocals

Michael “Flea” Balzary–bass

Hillel Slovak–lead guitar

Jack Irons–drums

Singles: “Fight Like a Brave”, “Me and My Friends”, “Behind the Sun”

This was Slovak’s final album due to his drug-induced death while on tour.  While all four members were pretty heavy on the drugs, Slovak was the worst, but his death eventually caused Kiedis and Flea to kick their habits. I really don’t like saying this is such a great album, but it is. I love so many songs on this album. It wasn’t nearly as good as Freaky Styley, but it’s pretty darn close.

Fun Fact: While “Behind the Sun” was released on this album, it didn’t get a video until it was re-released on What Hits?. This is why John Frusciante is in the video rather than Slovak.

Best Songs: “Fight Like a Brave” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNrrm2BKDw0
“Backwoods” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUchU-I8fjM)

4. Mother’s Milk (1989)

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Rating: 4 haberneros

Roster: Anthony Kiedis–lead vocals

Michael “Flea” Balzary–bass

John Frusciante–guitar, backing vocals

Chad Smith–drums

Singles: “Higher Ground”, “Knock Me Down”, “Taste The Pain”

Jack Irons left the band after Slovak’s death, no longer wanting to mourn any more friends.  (He later joined Eleven and Pearl Jam, leaving the latter in 2007) This was the debut for Frusciante and Smith, and a great way to start their tenures with the band.  The album is just solid all the way through, even with the odes to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson.  The covers of “Higher Ground” and “Fire” are just awesome. (If you get the deluxe version, you get live covers of “Crosstown Traffic” and “Castles Made of Sand”, also by Hendrix)

Fun Facts: The deluxe edition features the Chili Peppers’ second and final instrumental track, “The Song That Made Us What We Are Today”. “Taste the Pain” features Flea on trumpet.

Best Songs: “Higher Ground” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ADTPb2f_44
“The Song That Made Us What We Are Today” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DbO5xhZlhA)
“Nobody Weird Like Me” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVNzKSsx3j8)

5. Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)

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Rating: Magnum Opus

Roster: Anthony Kiedis–lead vocals

Michael “Flea” Balzary–bass

John Frusciante–guitar, backing vocals

Chad Smith–drums

Singles: “Give It Away”, “Under the Bridge”, “Suck My Kiss”, “Breaking the Girl”

This was the album that began the Chili Peppers’s tenure with Warner Bros, which they are still part of today.  It introduced many fans to the band and began their relationship with one of the best producers ever, Rick Rubin.  It’s a true masterpiece that the band has never been able to top. If you haven’t listened to this album at least once, you can’t call yourself a fan.  The only reason I never owned it was the Parental Advisory Sticker.

Fun Fact: This was the last album to feature a cover, “They’re Red Hot” by Robert Johnson. The deluxe edition contains “Little Miss Lover” and “Castles Made of Sand”, both originally recorded by Jimi Hendrix. “Sikamikaniko” and “Soul to Squeeze” were both recorded for the album, but were instead released on the soundtracks for Wayne’s World and Coneheads.

Best Songs: “Power of Equality” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JT6UCvR7kgU)
“Give It Away” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mr_uHJPUlO8)
“Under the Bridge” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwlogyj7nFE)

Continue reading “Jason’s Jukebox: The Red Hot Chili Peppers”

Legend of Korra: The Review–Book 1: Air

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When The Legend of Korra‘s first season was announced on Nickelodeon in 2012, I was intrigued. Its predecessor, Avatar: the Last Airbender, was one of the best cartoons I’d seen in a long time. It had a vast world that had such imagination put into it. Every episode seemed to only give us glimpses of the world. The writing was stellar and the voice work was excellent. It was a world I wanted to visit again.
Legend of Korra fast forwards 70 years after Aang’s reign as Avatar. The Fire Nation and Water Tribes have forged a unified Republic, with its capital named Republic City, which seems like a mix between our New York City and Hong Kong. Aang’s descendants are all that remains of the Air Nomads, with Lord Tenzin being his eldest son.
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The new Avatar is Korra of the Water Tribe. At the start of the season, she is under Lord Tenzin’s training, having already mastered Water, Fire, and Earth bending. Tenzin has a brother named Buumi (named after Aang’s old friend who once ruled the Earth Kingdom) and a wife named Pema. Together, Tenzin and Pema have four children: Jinora (a calm bookworm), Ikki (her somewhat annoying younger sister), Meelo (her hyper and crazy little brother), and Rohan (who isn’t born until Book One’s finale) Jinora quickly became one of my favorite characters almost within the first episode. In this episode, Korra’s headstrong attitude causes Tenzin to ask Jinora, “Promise me you won’t be as stubborn when you become a teenager.” She responds, “I make no such promises.” That line made me like her. Even at that age, she wanted to be her own person, undefined by her legacy.
One complaint people made about Korra early on was that she wasn’t like Aang. Honestly, if she was like Aang, I would’ve stopped watching right away. I was glad she was headstrong and aggressive. I liked her uncertainty that she could live up to her predecessors’ legacies, which she masked with a false confidence.
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In the previous version, Aang gained a new family that trained him in bending and gave him emotional support. In this version, Korra gains three friends. Mako (a fire-bender) and his brother Bolin (an Earth-bender) are pro-Benders, using their abilities in a sport that seems to be an offshoot of volleyball. She also has two animal friends: a polar dog (think giant, polar bear sized dog) named Naga and a fire ferret named Pabu, who’s Bolin’s pet and mascot for their team.
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Finally, we are introduced to Asami Sato, whose father designed the Sato-mobiles. (That’s what this world’s version of automobiles are called, after the man who brought cars to Japan) Asami is a nice girl, but don’t take her for granted. She can be very forceful when it’s required. She and Korra have a relationship that becomes warmer throughout the series.
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Rounding out her allies is Lin Beifong. She is the daughter of Aang’s old friend and teacher of Earth-bending, Toph. Like her mother, Lin can bend metal as well as earth. She is in charge of the Metal-Bending Police Force, who keeps order in Republic City. It’s also hinted that she and Tenzin were an item at one point, before he met Pema.
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Each season has a different villain. For season one, we have Amon, voiced by Steve Blum, most famous for his role as Spike Spiegel in the exceptional dub of Cowboy Bebop. Amon appeals to Republican City’s citizens who are incapable of bending and are of a lower class as a result. He also has an army of chi-blockers, who can temporarily disrupt an opponent’s chi, making them unable to bend elements and/or knocking them out. Amon himself has charisma and an even bigger advantage over Korra–he can permanently remove bending altogether! I thought it was great that he played his role smart–he could’ve removed Korra’s abilities and severed her from her line of predecessors, but that would not accomplish his goal. All it would really do is make her a martyr and turn others against him. He wanted to break her mentally instead and used his followers’ jealousy and desire for better status to his advantage.
This was a great way to introduce the new but still somewhat familiar world of The Legend of Korra. Then came the surprise: the show got renewed for at least two more seasons. Those will be the topic of other posts. I will post my thoughts on Season 2 in June. See you then!