A few of my favorite things

Hey all,

A list of recommendations. Things I’ve been listening to, doing, watching or eating lately, in no particular order.

1. Podcasts! Specifically Critical Hit and Tabletop Theatre, which are two podcasts that are essentially listening to people play role playing games, and Stuff You Should Know, which consists of the two hosts Josh and Clark talking about pretty much any subject. Please note that SYSK does cover topics not appropriate for kiddies and that Critical Hit and Tabletop Theatre (the latter especially, the former really not too bad) do not always have the cleanest language. The Art of Storytelling with Brother Wolf and the American Theatre Wing Downstage Center podcast are pretty great too, the former being a series of interviews with storytellers and the latter being a series of interviews with various theatre folk. All of them are available on iTunes.

2. New worship music. Particularly Jonathan David Helser & Melissa Helser (my favorite songs are “Abba”, “Earth Like Heaven” and “Redemption Rain”), Citizens (“Sins of My Youth” and “Oh God” are a couple favorites) and Shawn McDonald (“Rise”, “Gravity” and “The Space Between Us”). Gungor’s “I Am Mountain” is pretty amazing too. And yes, I know that some of these aren’t really new bands or songs, but they’re new to me, so that’s why they made the list.

3. Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. I went to see the midnight release of the second Hobbit movie with some friends for my best friend’s birthday. I didn’t have the highest of hopes for it but was pleasantly surprised, enough so in fact that I went and bought the first one shortly after. I led up to this Hobbit extravaganza by watching the whole extended LOTR series (though at the time, I hadn’t really been thinking about the Hobbit so much as had a strong craving for an inspirational epic) and of course loved it. I always feel inspired when I watch those movies, like I could do something bigger than I would think I could or could stand up under greater pressures than I’d think. I think this is in no small fashion proportional to how close to being Hobbit sized I am. Also, I just really like the world and characters. I’d be lying if I said the urge to re-read the books, from Hobbit to LOTR to Silmarillion, has not made itself known.

4. Geekcrafts.com. I pretty much want to make or own about 95% of the stuff on this site, and what’s amazing about it is just how much of it links to actual tutorials. I feel like a lot of the time I’ll see a sweet nerd craft and there’s no pattern for it. It makes me super sad pretty much every time. This site is pretty good about that.

5. Christmas music. Obviously the old classics, but some new finds this year, including a larger suite of Elvis Christmas music, some Pentatonix, and of course my new bestie, Johnny Cash, though to be fair I’m not super impressed with his Christmas stuff compared to his other work. Also, this gem, which has just enough punk in it for me to feel like a hard core teenage wannabe rock star and just enough lyrics about cream colored ponies to make me to adore the silliness of having that feeling while listening to this.

6. C.S. Lewis’ Sci-Fi Trilogy. So, I didn’t even know that this existed until about a year ago and I finally got around to starting it. I’ve finished Out of the Silent Planet and loved it and am starting in on Perelandra. I’m hoping to finish the trilogy before New Years, but we’ll just have to see how that goes. Anyway, I highly recommend them if you like sci-fi. I found three or four sections in Out of the Silent Planet particularly breath-taking, whether it was for the beauty of the world itself, the writing or the truth I found in both. All around good stuff. It definitely spoke to me.

7. This commercial.  As someone who has been taking dance lessons, I found this particularly hilarious. Something about it where he starts talking about spraying for dancers just gets me every time, in no small part compounded by the fact I’m pretty sure my instructor would find it super hilarious.

8. Crafting. I’ve been getting back to my knitting. I’ve made a few different Star Trek scarves available in my Etsy shop Fastest Fox and am working on some other gifts and such all of which are top secret and craft related (not all knitting projects though). I also had a chance to work on some of these crafts when I had the pleasure of attending a Morrison ladies’ craft day. I’m hoping it’ll be a Christmas tradition from here on out so we’ll see what happens next year.

9. The fact there is a video version of SnapChat. The fact that we live in a society where we text instead of talking on the phone because it’s too inconvenient and time consuming to call, but will go through the hassle of taking and sending each other videos of ourselves instead is oddly pleasing to me.We are contradictory if nothing else, haha.

10. Writing. I haven’t taken any large projects on for writing in a while because all of my ideas were kind of half-formed and weren’t really capturing my attention. Recently however, I have had a huge upsurge in creativity. I’ve been getting ideas for several things, thinking more and more of my characters and gelling some of those other ideas. I also had the very unique experience of getting latent inspiration from a painting I did quite some time ago. I made it probably about a year ago based on an image that popped into my head, and though I really liked it, I didn’t know who the character was meant to be or his story. I knew his name and had a very vague idea of another character or two, but nothing really came together until a week or two ago. I’m probably going to write a series of short stories with him in it, so my hope is to get cracking on that a bit more once I get a bit more free time.

11. Partying. It’s holiday time. Aka party time. From birthday parties to holiday parties to work parties, it seems like they keep cropping up. They’ve been pretty laid back (trying not to fall asleep through Hobbit, crafting with the fan, crafting at work, etc.) which has been just perfect for me. Also, my work is throwing me a going away party on my last day (Friday), so that’s super duper nice of them! Pretty excited for that!

12. Personal branding. As part of trying to job search and get myself out there more in the writing world, I’ve been playing with personal branding. Though it’s not the easiest thing to figure out, and I am not being as strict with myself as I’d like guidelines wise, I’d have to say it is a lot of fun. I’m rolling it out some with my Facebook page and Etsy store and will be meeting with a friend in early January to discuss some of the specifics since branding is kind of his thing. Fascinating to say the least!

Anyway, that’s what I’m up or in to (Oh, also Lays chocolate covered potato chips. Those definitely get a thumbs up from me, though we can’t find them at Target anymore, which is the only place they existed that we could find). If you have some favorite things you want to share with me, let me know in the comments!

If I don’t post til after the holidays, then Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!

Peace.

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Josh Wilson

Hey all,

A quick post here, part review, part recommendation, and as I kept telling everyone, not emotionally frenetic or overly analytical. I will in fact be talking about someone who isn’t me!

So, last night I went with my family to the Josh Wilson concert at City Church in Madison. I had heard a few of his songs on 102.5 and looked up one of his “looping” videos (looping is super cool by the way. You essentially record your instrument live as you go and then layer it over itself again and again until it sounds like there are however many versions of your instrument playing at once. The effect is even better when you’re layering several guitar riffs over several cello riffs over accordion over banjo over piano, etc. etc. like they did at the concert) at my dad’s suggestion, available here, and I decided to go.

Man was that a good decision. It was part of his Noel tour, which is primarily Christmas music with a few of his hits mixed in. He does a lot of folk/folk rock type music, and not only was the music amazing, looped or no, but he and his band also had some of the best stage presence I think I have ever seen. They were incredibly charming throughout, had short videos planned ahead for sections where they needed or wanted to change clothes, instruments, or stage placement, and managed to handle a technical difficulty that came up in a song in a humble and again, charming, fashion. They connected with the audience well, had some cute ways to spice up the set (Christmas cookies out of an oven they played percussion on, a typewriter used for the opener and percussion and light up sweaters to name a few) and had a pretty neat stage setup too, based on the album cover of his Noel cd (below, credit to his website for the photo). Bottom line, if you get a chance to see him live, please do so. If not live, you can check him out at his website here, on YouTube or Spotify or through iTunes or a good old brick and mortar. All around nice guy, nice wife, nice band, nice concert. I already bought his Christmas CD and will be checking out more of his music on Spotify for sure.

Oh, and he’s also involved with a charity I can’t remember the name of, but it supports children with special needs, so if you wanted to get involved, I’m sure you could contact them through his website to get more information. If any of you know what the charity is called, please let me know in the comments and I’ll add a link.

Image of Josh Wilson presents Noel CD

I was going to recommend several other things I’ve been listening to lately, but for the sake of brevity, I will save them for a later post.

Thanks for reading!