Tuesday, December 28, 2004

2004: The Year in...Turner!

Well, this is my final blog post for the 2004 calendar year. And so I thought it would be fitting to recap the year as it occurred in my life. I'll try and give y'all as complete a picture as possible of my life in 2004.

2003 had been a banner year for me. I successfully completed my time in Regina and moved out at the end of April. After a unique process, I was accepted into Education in Saskatoon for the fall just before I went to work at Stoney Lake Bible Camp for the summer. I had a great summer and felt like it was time to leave that behind after three years. It was a year of weddings, as I was part of 4 different weddings between June and December. In the fall, I began my studies at the U of S while Ariann completed her internship in Regina. In addition, I was writing for the Sheaf and leading the U of S IVCF group. After a very busy four months, we were in a wedding together and the year concluded with us kissing for the first time and having a good solid week of time together. I then left for Urbana 2003, a huge conference that IVCF runs every three years. At the conference, God called me to future staff work with IVCF. And so 2004 began with a lot of promise.

The first couple of months of 2004 were really good. Our IVCF retreat in late January was an incredible experience, as everyone who attended really appreciated it. Ariann made the decision to pursue going to Taiwan for the fall, and we began to prepare for that change in our lives. Nothing else really stands out as significant from those couple of months, except that my friends Chris and Maryanne got engaged over February break, and that it was really good to see friends in Regina during that time. It was just after the break that life changed greatly. In the week directly following the break, I felt that God was calling me to completely change my life trajectory. Instead of completing my internship in the fall like I had anticipated, He was calling me to work on my B.A. and serve as President of IVCF at the U of S again. We had some words, and I decided to pursue that path.

The remainder of the winter term of school was fairly busy. I taught 2 classes of Grade 10 Advanced History for my student teaching experience at the beginning of March, which was followed by the Passion Week outreach on campus. IVCF co-ordinated this outreach with CCO and Campus Crusade, and it was a great experience. The IVCF year finished out well, and I finished out mostly well, save for a paper that didn't die until early May. I had a couple of those this year.

After attending a live-in retreat at the end of April and lamenting the demise of my Leafs at the hands of the hated Philadephia Flyers, I prepared for my next venture: summer school. I took 18 credits over the summer, including 12 in May and June alone. It proved to be far more taxing than I had imagined. During these two months, I was able to start playing in the ultimate frisbee league here in Saskatoon with a team called "The Groove." It was great to get out and be physically active. I attended three weddings, and began to prepare for one of my own, as I asked A to marry me on June 26. The year had been exhausting so far, but it still looked very good. Little did I know...

July and August proved to be more difficult months. Though I was still taking a class, my interest in school waned dramatically, as did my attendance. As A stayed with her family in Rosthern, she prepared to go to Taiwan after the intense year she had had in finishing her degree in Regina. Unfortunately, her grandmother died midway through July. I did what I could in the difficult time for her, as she still endured many difficulties in leaving for Taiwan for her teaching job. Finally, she was able to leave in early August. It was also at the end of July that I began blogging. Meanwhile, I finished my summer class and spent the final two weeks of the month fighting with student loans for the money that I needed for the fall. But after a lot of running around, I finally got the result I needed, and I prepared to begin the fall term. I was again entering the college of Arts, in addition to writing for the Sheaf and serving as President of IVCF for a second term. Looked good.

Then came the fall, in more ways than one. Although September started well, including a weekend of amazing concerts at Harvest Moon 2004, it soon became difficult. I made the ill-advised decision of taking on the Young Adults Team Leader position at my church, and it took me a month to finally figure out that I couldn't do it. School was proving to be more difficult than I had expected, not because of content, but because of my waning desire to be in school after sitting in classrooms all summer long. Our family went through a significant change, as Mom left to attend school in Medicine Hat. And though we struggled with our looong-distance relationship, things seemed to be going well.

I made the decision to step away from Young Adults at the end of October to focus on school and IVCF. School continued to prove difficult, as the November crunch was hitting, and I was wholly unprepared for it from the previous two months of not being disciplined in my studies. IVCF was going well, as we were beginning to embark on a new direction for the rest of the year. And the Riders lost. But the biggest issue in my life was my relationship with A. We began to go through a difficult November, and I was not looking forward to the conclusion of the situation. And then December hit. As of December 1, she and I were officially un-engaged after five months. She sent the ring back with a mutual friend that had been staying with her for the month. I struggled to make it through the end of IVCF as well as finals season. I was able to go to Regina to help my good friend Lee celebrate his 30th birthday, as well as to see some friends that I likely will not see for a while. I finally finished my work on the morning of Christmas Eve, and so I have been able to enjoy the last week without having any schoolwork to finish. As of tomorrow, I will finish this rollercoaster of a year at a New Years' church camp. And thus will end my 2004.

What does 2005 hold in store? I am planning to finish these classes and my term with IVCF by April. In May and June, I hope to take one class in addition to attending/participating in several friends' weddings, in addition to moving out of the house in which I currently live. I am hoping to find a summer camp at which I can work for July and August. Then, I'm planning to come back to Saskatoon and spend the year finishing the credits I need for my B.A. I know that there will be some other great opportunities for me, and I will just have to decide what to do. I'm looking forward to the start of a new year, as "Independent D" gets a new lease on life. Thank you to everyone who has helped me out and been there for me over the past year. Here's hoping that 2005 has better in store for me than 2004 did.

And in no particular order, the best secondhand finds of the year:
Transformations/The Moment of Truth 2 videos - rare, normally ~$20 each: $2.99 each at VV
Uno Rage card game - worth $25CAN on E-bay: $0.50 at VV
Box of Construx - priceless: $4.00 at a garage sale

To conclude, here is the comprehensive list of all of the "Songs of the Day" from my blogs throughout the last five months. Enjoy!

Audio Adrenaline, “Some Kind of Zombie”
Bilingual “O Canada”
Blindside, “King of the Closet”
Blindside, “Sleepwalking”
Brave Saint Saturn, “Daylight”
C.W. McCall, “Convoy”
Chantal Kreviazuk, “Leaving on a Jet Plane”
Coldplay, “Clocks”
Collective Soul, “Counting the Days”
Collective Soul, “Disciplined Breakdown”
Collective Soul, “Heavy”
Demon Hunter, “I Have Seen Where It Grows”
Demon Hunter, “I Play Dead”
Elvis Presley, “Heartbreak Hotel”
Five Iron Frenzy, “Blue Comb ‘78”
Grand Incredible, “Right on Time”
Grits, “Seriously”
Lifehouse, “Take Me Away”
Lifehouse, “Trying”
Mars Ill, “Breathe Slow”
Michael W. Smith, “Great Is The Lord”
Moby, “Flower”
O.C. Supertones, “Superfly”
Pillar, “Hypnotized”
Project 86, “Hollow Again”
Project 86, “Stein's Theme”
Relient K, “Sadie Hawkins Dance”
Relient K, “The One I'm Waiting For”
Roper, “Still the One”
Skillet, “Open Wounds”
Spin Doctors, “Two Princes”
Switchfoot, “Learning to Breathe”
Switchfoot, “Meant To Live”
Switchfoot, “More Than Fine”
Switchfoot, “Spirit”
Stacie Orrico, “(There's Gotta Be) More To Life”
Theme, “Star Trek movie fanfare”
Theme, “Hockey Night In Canada”
Tree 63, “Blessed Be Your Name” (twice)
U2, “Numb”
U2, “One Step Closer”
U2, “Running To Stand Still”
U2, “Silver and Gold” (Rattle and Hum version)
U2, “Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own”
U2, “Vertigo” (twice)
U2, “Wake Up Dead Man”
Understated, “Privilege”
Understated, “To Know You”

2 Corinthians 3:17
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
Armaments Chapter 2, verses 9 through 21
Colossians 3:17
Colossians 4:6
Colossians 3:17
Ephesians 3:16-21
Ephesians 5:8-21
Ephesians 6:12
Galatians 6:2
Isaiah 40:31
Isaiah 40:31
James 1:2-4
Jeremiah 32:37-41
Jeremiah 33:3
Luke 1:37
Phillippians 1:21-30
Phillippians 2:14-16
Romans 7:15

2004: The Year in...Music!

NOTE: There have been some alterations to this post since its original appearance on the blog, mostly in the Mix CD category.

I'm a music geek. I've admitted that fact repeatedly throughout my history of blogging. So it is with pride that I present to you my review of music in 2004. The highlights, the disappointments, the trends. But let us first begin with a quick recap of 2003. 2003 was a letdown, but it was "The Beautiful Letdown" that stole the year. Switchfoot's disc was amazing, and their show at YQ 2003 and the interview I did with them placed them securely in the pantheon of my top music ever. But for the most part, the rest of the year was disappointing, and really was a preparation for this year. Most of the best CDs of 2003 were remastered or rereleased this year, or the bands responsible for them released new material in 2004. Then came 2004. It started off great, and got better from there. It was a year of particularly hard rock, as you will see. So on with the lists.

Disappointments of 2004:
3. Creed's Greatest Hits. They could have done so much more. And they didn't. Jerks.
2. The Supertones' album "Revenge of the Supertones." I'm a big fan of the 'Tones, but this album was proof that the Mojo just wasn't working anymore. Much as I hate to see them go, it's the right decision.
1. Grits at Harvest Moon 2004. Suckest of the suck.

Best shows of 2004:
(Note - "HM 2004" refers to Harvest Moon 2004 in Edmonton AB)
5. Pigeon John, HM 2004: After the GRITS sucktacle the night before, John wowed the crowd on Sunday afternoon. January 19 at the Odeon. Be there, it's going to be awesome.
4. (tie) Roper, HM 2004 + Brave Saint Saturn, HM 2004: Roper's first show ever was amazing high energy pop-punk, highlighted by their cover of CCR's "Fortunate Son." BSS's festival closing show was amazing, if not only for true fans. Hearing "Under Bridges" live was breathtaking.
3. Tree 63, YCSK 2004: Save for the lack of their hit "The Glorious Ones," the show by the boys from South Africa in November rocked CNH Place in Saskatoon. Best worship set of the year, bar none. Any other year, this would be number one. But it's not, because of these guys...
2. Project 86, HM 2004: 11 songs, pure raw pulsating rock energy. The perfect Project 86 show. The set list, as best as I can remember it, in order: Hollow Again-Spy Hunter-Me Against Me-Safe Haven-One-Armed Man (Play On)-Oblivion-A Shadow On Me-Breakneck Speed-Say Goodnight To The Bad Guy-Little Green Men-Stein’s Theme. Evan particularly enjoyed the chance to sing the emphatic "ME!" into the microphone during "Me Against Me." There's only one show that could surpass this one in pure amazingness.
1. Blindside, HM 2004: Wow. From the opening chords of "Eye of the Storm," this show rocked. It consisted mostly of material from Silence and Burning Fire, with two classics thrown in for true fans. Everyone who I knew there agreed that it was like watching history being made. If you ever get the chance to see them, do it! Final five songs of the set:Shekina-Swallow Down-King of the Closet-Cute Boring Love-About A Burning Fire. Enough said.

The 2004 Mixtape - If I could take only one album songs from 2004, here they are, in no particular order.

Blindside - About A Burning Fire
Blindside - Shekina
Collective Soul - Counting the Days
Demon Hunter - I Play Dead
Demon Hunter - My Heartstrings Come Undone
Demon Hunter - Not Ready To Die
Emery - Walls
Further Seems Forever - The Light Up Ahead
Mute Math - Control
Relient K - Be My Escape
Relient K - I So Hate Consequences
Pillar - Hypnotized
Project 86 - A Shadow On Me
Roper - Vendetta
Sanctus Real - Everything About You
Sanctus Real - Beautiful Day
Tree 63 - Blessed Be Your Name
Tree 63 - King
U2 - Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
U2 - Vertigo

The Top 10 CDs I didn't buy but want to sometime, in alphabetical order:
Collective Soul - Youth
Emery - The Weak's End
Further Seems Forever - Hide Nothing
Grits - Dichotomy A + B
Sanctus Real - Fight The Tide
Skillet - Collide (Lava release)
Third Day - Wire
Tree 63 - The Answer To The Question
Underoath - They're Only Chasing Safety

Best CD Titles of 2004:
3. Grits - Dichotomy A + B
2. Relient K - mmhmm
1. Roper - Brace Yourself for the Mediocre

Best Cover art of 2004:
3. Blindside - About A Burning Fire
2. Relient K - mmhmm
1. Demon Hunter - Summer of Darkness

Trends of 2004:
3. Tribute albums. Artists United for Africa featured many artists covering U2 songs, and Veggie Rocks! was a collection of covers of songs from Veggie Tales. I'm hoping for a DC Talk tribute album sometime soon, or a second volume of Smash-Ups. These are not always the kind of CDs you can listen to repeatedly, but they're good to have.
2. Rereleases and remasters. Project 86, Five Iron Frenzy, Skillet, and Switchfoot were among those artist to revamp, rerecord, or repackage old material with new material. Although not always worth it, there are instances where it was. Sometimes, it's worth it to wait until the rerelease comes out. Or not. :)
1. Christian music gets harder and better. Project 86, Skillet, Demon Hunter, Pillar, Blindside, Underoath, Emery all are among the best anywhere in the biz at what they do. Even Relient K got into the act (listen to "I So Hate Consequences" for the background screams. Genius.). And Flicker Records emerged as a viable alternative to Solid State with the emergence of bands like Staple, Pillar, and Mortal Treason. Hard music has never looked better.

And finally, the Top Six CDs of 2004, in order:
(Why six? I couldn't eliminate any of them. That's why.)
Honourable Mentions: Roper - "Brace Yourself for the Mediocre," Mute Math - "Reset EP"
6. Pillar - "Where Do We Go From Here?" Pillar's coming out party. No more of that half-reggae kind of stuff, just driving hard rock. How can you tell a good album from a bad one? The first few songs are good, and the last one usually is too. It's the middle that you look at, after the first "set." The first couple of single tracks, and then the couple of quiet reflective tracks. If Track 6 or 7 are good, it's a good disc. On WDWGFH, it's "Frontline." Point proven. I really hope I can see them at YQ 2005. They've found their niche, and it's good.
5. Project 86 - "Songs To Burn Your Bridges By." Only in this year could a Project 86 release fall into fifth place. This rerecording of the 2003 indie version improved on its predecessor in every way. The tracks were rearranged, three songs were added, and it sounded a whole lot better. I still think it's a slight step down from "Truthless Heroes," though, and that hurts it here.
4. Relient K - "mmhmm." The main factor contributing to this ranking is that I've owned this album less than a week. But by all indications, it's their best yet. The combination of wit and social commentary is unparalleled, and the pop-punk hooks have matured since their first album. This was released on Capitol Records, and should be the break they need. They'll be everywhere in 2005.
3. Demon Hunter - "Summer of Darkness." I doubted they could top their technically near-perfect 2002 debut. I was wrong. Harder, faster, stronger. It grips you and doesn't let go. Not for the faint of heart, but the best Christian metal band since Living Sacrifice. Yet there was significant development of the vocals and melodies on this album. And this is number 3.
2. U2 - "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb." I could talk about this album for hours. In my mind, it's their third or fourth best album ever, and it was well worth the wait. They were right when they said this was like their first CD. They've all matured, and they sound more cohesive than they ever have. It's kind of like All That You Can't Leave Behind Part 2, but it improves on that previous album. I get something different everytime I listen to it. Any other year, this would be number one. Wow.
1. Blindside - "About A Burning Fire." The Swedish masters of emotional hard rock have mastered themselves here. From the opening chords of "Eye of the Storm" to the final breaths of "About A Burning Fire," every song on this album indicates that they have put every ounce and fibre of their being into this album. It's almost surreal, it's so good. Try listening to "Shekina" and not be moved. This is without a doubt the most widely underrated album of the year. It should have got major distribution, but it didn't. I just pray that they keep on improving in future releases. And this is elite company it beat out. Timeless, breathtaking, simply awe-inspiring. A release that redeems all music because it is that good. I thought about about a burning fire often, and I loved it everytime.

If you're not all music-ed out, check out Jesus Freak Hideout's Staff Picks 2004 and Christianity Today's Top 12 albums of 2004. They're good lists by people who know music themselves. And finally, what to look for in 2005. Pigeon John Jan. 19 The Odeon. Pillar at YQ 2005. The Supertones' farewell tour. And new albums from Switchfoot, P.O.D., Superchick, Mars Ill, and TFK, among others. Thanks for a great year in music! Here's to a great 2005, and hopefully buying an iPod to host all this great music! Thanks for reading my music-geek-ocity. Hope it inspired you, informed you, entertained you, or otherwise helped you out! Rock on.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

2004: The Year in...Sports!

Hey everyone! Welcome to the second day of 2004: The Year in Review. Today the focus falls on the world of sports. Definitely one of the best parts of my year was starting to play Ultimate frisbee here in Saskatoon. I learned a lot, had a lot of fun, and I improved over the course of the season. I hope to play again, but we'll see what the future holds. But read on to find out my thoughts about some of the biggest moments in my world of armchair sports in 2004.

Most triumphant Leafs moment:
3. Brian Leetch traded to the Leafs on March 3, 2004.
2. Ed Belfour's third shutout of the series gives Toronto a 3-2 series lead against Ottawa. Tie Domi gets the winning goal.
1. Senators goalie Patrick Lalime chased in the first period of Game 7 by Nieuwendyk's goal. Series TO 4, Ott 3. Series wins overall: TO 4, Ott 0. Sure, they didn't win the Cup, but at least they beat the Senators. If you haven't downloaded "The Ottawa Song" yet, do it. Trust me.

Most disappointing Leafs moment:
3. 2005 NHL season cancelled, so no Leafs this year.
2. Jeremy Roenick scores in OT in Game 6 of the second round to eliminate the Leafs.
1. Toronto-Philadelphia, second round, Game 5. Series tied 2-2. Leafs had just had a big victory in Toronto. I got home from a retreat through the third period. I rush home, turn on the TV, to see the score...Leafs 2, Flyers 7. Ugh. See you in 2005-06, boys.

And now for the non-Leafs categories...
Most triumphant moment:
3. (tie) I predict Red Sox ALCS series win during the final moments of a Game 3 drubbing. Cue the comeback.
3. (tie) Canada wins 2004 World Cup of Hockey
2. Gelinas eliminates Detroit in Round 2...The Flames are for real!
1. Burris throws a TD at the end of the first half in the CFL Western Conference Quarterfinal, overcoming tough Edmonton defense and referees. End result: Riders go into Edmonton and win on the Esks' home turf. Go green!

Most disappointing moment:
3. (tie) Perdita stumbles in women's 110M hurdles final
3. (tie) Huskies. Vanier Cup. 1 point. Always next year.
2. No goal called in Cal-TB Cup Final Game 6. It was a goal. Flames then come out flat in Game 7 and lose the Cup that was theirs to win.
1. McCallum. 18 yards. Wide left. Riders fans weep. Next year, boys, next year.

Most exciting moment:
3. Spurs-Lakers, Game 5. Duncan puts the Spurs up with virtually no time left. Derek Fisher comes back and hits the shot of a lifetime. Lakers win. Wow.
2. Sask-BC Second-round game second half. Really, what more could Burris have done? Wowie wow.
1. Last five minutes of Calgary-Vancouver Round 1 Game 7. Back and forth, Naslund scores to send it to OT, then Gelinas wins it in OT. Wowie wow wow.

Story of the year:
3. Canada's lack of medallage in Athens. Embarrassing.
2. World Cup gives the best hockey since 2002 Olympics, then NHL takes it away. Jerks.
1. Calgary Flames. Game 7 Stanley Cup Final. 'Nuff said.

Best non-NHL league to follow during the lockout:
3. WHL. It's still hockey, and it's pretty good too.
2. CFL. Would be number one if it lasted longer. Or if the Riders had won.
1. NFL. Parity rules! Go Bills go!

The "now that Boston Red Sox fans can finally quit whimpering" award to the teams that are toughest to be fans of:
5. (tie) L.A. Clippers/Golden State Warriors
4. Cleveland Browns
3. Chicago Blackhawks
2. Chicago Cubs
1. Toronto Maple Leafs

2004 was a memorable year in the arena of sports. Let's hope that 2005 features some real hockey to make it even better. Like everyone but the winner says, "There's always next year!" Tune in tomorrow for 2004: The Year in...Music!

Saturday, December 25, 2004

2004: The Year in...Movies!

Over the next week, I'm going to be spending some time looking back at the year that was 2004. Today we begin with the year in cinema. The majority of my favourite movies of 2004 were sequels that actually lived up to the reputation of their predecessors, if not surpassing them (as each of the three I really liked arguably did - see the top 3 of 2004 below). 2004 was the first year in several years that I not only attended, but also appreciated a number of movies, and that there were movies that were worth appreciating. But you have likely read all kinds of reviews and thoughts from people who are more reputable and more entertaining than I am, so I am here present my reviews of the 10 movies of 2004 I watched this year. In Haiku form.

Characters were flat / Social comment was a bust / Lohan's bust not flat (Mean Girls)
Ogre and friends back / For wackier adventure / Can't wait for Shrek 3 (Shrek 2)
New bad guy rises / More action, romance, drama / Better than the first (Spider-Man 2)
His last twelve hours / Graphic treatment hard to watch / Needed more flashbacks (The Passion of the Christ)
World in New Ice Age / New York flooded and frozen / Effects over plot (The Day After Tomorrow)
Singer led hard life / A lesson in redemption / Foxx makes you believe (Ray)
"Jesus freaks" lampooned / Comment forced but makes you think / Worth rental at least (Saved!)
Robots swarm like orcs / All Smith and special effects / Nothing like the book (I, Robot)
Pixar's best work yet / Heroes show family values / Elastigirl's hot! (The Incredibles)
Harry faces new threat / New characters steal the show / Best Potter flick yet (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)

For the record, my top three movies of the year were, in order: 1. The Incredibles, 2. Spider-Man 2, 3. (tie) Shrek 2 / Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

And the movies I wanted to see but didn't get around to (in alphabetical order): Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Napoleon Dynamite, National Treasure, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Super-Size Me, and The Village.

And finally, the top 10 movies I am looking forward to most in 2005 (in chronological order of release): Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (May), Batman Begins (June), Fantastic Four (July), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (July), Cars (November), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (November), King Kong (December), Zathura (AKA Jumanji 2) (December), The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe (December).

So that's the year in movies according to me! Tune back tomorrow for the year in...sports!

Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas is here!

Song of the Day: Relient K, "The One I'm Waiting For"
Verse of the Day: Luke 1:37


Christmas has finally arrived. I finished that last paper today and e-mailed it off this morning. And so begins my Christmas vacation. It's been a good day. I picked up the new Relient K and Mute Math CDs....amazing. Wow. And I should get lots of stuff over the next day or two. I'm also excited to see how the rest of my family reacts to the gifts I've gotten them. Their reaction in many ways means more than getting gifts myself.
It's been fun resurrecting some of our family Christmas traditions. We go to see a matinee movie on Christmas Eve, and today was The Incredibles. Absolutely amazing. And Elastigirl is ridiculously freakin' smokin' hot. She is definitely now the answer to the question "if you could date any cartoon character" question. I saw some other family, and then went to the Christmas Eve service at church. Then we came home and watched the greatest Christmas movie ever, The Muppet Christmas Carol. No matter how many times I watch it, it still touches me. If you've ever watched it yourself, you know what I'm talking about.
Welcome Christmas, welcome. May you all have a very Merry Christmas and associated holidays. And here's to Canada rocking out the World Juniors...Go Canada go. Merry Christmas, and to all a good night.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Perserverance must complete its work...

Song of the Day: Switchfoot, "More Than Fine"
Verse of the Day: James 1:2-4


I completed one more class today. Now I have just one paper left. And then freedom, hopefully by Thursday at the latest. But with all this homework and everything going on my life, I've had a chance to think lately. A lot. And I've realized something disturbing: I'm at more or less the same point in life I was three years ago. Reflect with me, for a moment. Back in my second year, I was taking 200- and 300-level arts classes. I had a break-up with A. I was negligent in my school, handing in assignments late and leaving them until the last minute. My sleep schedule was all messed up. I was helping lead IVCF. I was living in a house with three other guys, and it was always a mess. And I was thinking that I had two years of school left. And so on and so forth. You see how the comparisons go on.
The basic point for me is that although I've gotten older, I haven't necessarily gotten wiser. I thought that when I moved to Saskatoon that it was time for me to "grow up." And then God completely changed my circumstances, so that I would be finishing this B.A. of mine. A year ago, I figured I would be a semester away from a completed degree. Now, I know concretely that I have two years left after this one is completed. I see the people around me "growing up," whether that's through getting jobs or wives or taking upper-level classes. And I see that I'm not exactly growing up myself. People have always said that I'm mature for my age, but what does that mean? I'm going to be 22 in a few weeks, and I'm at the same place I was when I was 19. That distresses me greatly.
I'm not attempting to be self-derogatory, nor to inspire a pity party. I am simply observing that my lack of growing up concerns me. I want to move on to the next phase of life, whatever that is. And that has completely changed over the past month and year. But I need to move on from the "student" lifestyle. From depending only on Student Loans, and pulling all-nighters, and using my parents' address as my primary mailing address, and treating my physical self like garbage for immediate gratification. I don't want to have to deny people that care about me just because I'm irresponsible with homework. I'm not living a balanced life that reflects maturity. I need to change that.
I'm not expecting that everything is going to change overnight. It can't. I have commitments and habits and all kinds of things that need to change too. I guess I'm considering these next six months, until June 2005, a time of learning and growing and preparing to go into a cocoon. Right now, I'm planning to finish this school year, spend some time in June going to weddings and just taking some space, and then moving out of this house at the end of the month and going away to camp somewhere for the summer. And when I come back for next fall, I hope that I have gone from being an ugly caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly, and that Turner 2.0 can begin with a fresh start and outlook on life. As an adult, and no longer an adolescent, like I am now.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

The State of the Union...and the League

Warning: the following blog is for hockey fans only. Everyone else can tune back later for a non-hockey-obsessed entry.

The ongoing struggle between the NHLPA and NHL has led me recently to begin to investigate some of the history of the league and the association. I just recently finished reading the book Net Worth, which was written about the history of ownership in the NHL, as well as the hockey czar who at the time was in the process of being dethroned, Alan Eagleson. Between that book and other sources, such as CBC's archives on "The Rise and Fall of Alan Eagleson," a few facts have become apparent about the NHL.
First of all, the owners are not as badly off as they claim. Although I believe that they may be losing money, I think that many of them are just fine. Would owners of new expansion teams pay $80 million for the right to lose money within five years? I am beginning to be quite skeptical of the "woe is me" claims coming from owners across the league.
Secondly, the players are overpaid. Although NHL players were treated the worst of any professional athletes for years, their conditions have improved ridiculously. Their salaries have not become a function of value, but of inflation. How else do you explain Bobby Holik making $9 million a year? Although they were just taking advantage of the new economic philosophy of the league, there needs to be some kind of restraint on the player market.
Third, the NHL has a history of being railroaded by powerful figures. In the early days of the league, it was people like the Maple Leafs' Conn Smythe and Big Jim Norris, who had stakes in all of the American Original Six teams. Later on, it was Alan Eagleson, Harold Ballard, Bill Wirtz and John Ziegler who held the power. Only since the fall of the Eagle just over a decade ago has there begun to be some sense of accountability and development of measures to prevent this kind of monopolization of hockey happening again. Unfortunately, these problems did affect the on-ice product: witness the horrible years of both the Maple Leafs in the 80s and the Blackhawks even today (owned by Ballard and Wirtz, respectively). Hockey needs to continue to develop safeguards to prevent the off-ice boardroom decisions from affecting the on-ice product.
Fourth, this situation has proven that the NHL is not one of the "Big Three." Gary Bettman's dream of glory has proven to be no more a reality than was the ill-fated vision of former CFL commissioner Larry Smith of American expansion. The CFL realized this and got rid of Smith and the American teams. They began to work on their product and their teams, and are just now a decade later beginning to truly right the ship. Granted, there are still ownership problems (Hamilton last year, Ottawa this year), but for the most part, the CFL has the capacity to continue as a flourishing regionally attractive league.
This is the model the NHL needs to follow. In order for hockey to survive, Bettman must give up on his dream for "every team to be viable" and to admit that he has been wrong. Hockey's home is in the north, and it will never be more than a passing attraction in the south. The league needs to focus on its core markets and developing a strong partner in the AHL that can serve non-NHL markets. The AHL is already in several of the larger non-NHL markets (Hartford, Houston, San Antonio, Utah, Winnipeg, Cleveland, Cincinnati), and there is no reason that places such as Nashville, Memphis, Anaheim, Baltimore, Tampa Bay or the like would not be served as well by an AHL team as they are by an NHL team.
The NHL has habitually existed in the "now" and not the future. There has been little of the foresight or non-traditional thinking that has made leagues such as the NFL an unadulterated success. Instead, the NHL has languished in its position as a league that has been manipulated by individuals and that has continually squashed the rights of its most valuable commodity, the players. Some might see Bettman as a visionary, but his push for expansion was the product of nothing more than greed and lack of foresight for the period after the money dried up. The NHL is now in that period, and this lockout time is critical for the future of hockey. The NHL needs to drastically alter itself both on the ice and off it in order to survive, and not to simply focus on reaching a half-baked solution to save this season that will end up with another similar or worse conflict happening in five years.
I have realized through all of this time of research into the history of hockey that it is not the owners or players that are suffering most from this lockout. Each of those two camps will continue to prosper, despite the claims to the contrary. The owners are finding ways to profit, and the players are finding ways to play. The victimized party, cliche as it may seem, are the fans, who have been robbed of their players and their teams, and who have been robbed of their money to support a league that could not support itself. It is the fans who deserve the consideration of both the owners and the players, and it has become apparent where the true fans of hockey are. (HINT: Not in several current NHL markets.)
It is these true fans that deserve the attention of the NHL, and who deserve a solution that keeps their best interests in mind. If it takes the resignation, forced or voluntary, of Gary Bettman and the instatement of a hockey mind who knows business (Brian Burke comes to mind immediately) to ensure the future viability of the NHL, or the formation of a rival league, or the dissolution of the NHL as it is, that would be just fine. Just as long as hockey, when it comes back, has its problems fixed, sees past tomorrow, and acknowledges the fans as its most valuable asset. An asset that they in danger of losing even further should they attempt an incomplete solution.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Hangin' out

Song of the Day: U2, "One Step Closer"
Verse of the Day: Jeremiah 32:37-41


I'm missing something in my life. Or maybe someones. See, I have a lot of amazing friends. Good, deep, unshakeable friends. Friends who help get me through all the rough times. Friends who are there no matter what. Solid friends. But I'm still missing something. And I think I've figured it out.
See, I'm always busy, whether with homework or IVCF (Friday nights) or church (Sunday nights) or other pre-arranged social forays (typically Saturday nights). My life has been really full, and so I haven't had much time for just hangin' out with people. So people don't call me when they're just hangin' out. Then, when I don't have anything to do, I'm just here. So I'm missing just hangin' out. Chillaxin with people, just spending time and not having an agenda or anything to do. Not having to arrange a social get-together a month in advance in order to ensure that the schedule is free. It'll probably be tough for that to happen this semester, but still, my phone is always open. I'm up for some hangin' out. I miss a lot of you, and I shouldn't have to. So let's hang out.

P.S. On a different note, I finished one class, and another one will be done as of Monday. Then it's just one paper left to finish and then I get a break. Ahhhh. See you on the other side.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Is This What Burnout Feels Like?

Song of the Day: Collective Soul, "Disciplined Breakdown"
Verse of the Day: Eph. 3:16-21


It's December 15. At one point I had been planning on preparing during this time to go to visit A in Taiwan. Instead, I'm struggling to find the mental, physical, intellectual, and emotional energy to finish out my semester. I'm working on this paper that won't die or write itself, I have a take-home final to do for Friday morning, and I have a webquest to finish for Monday. And I'm not that much further on the latter two than I was a week ago. Ugh. Then collapsing into a little puddle that used to be known as D.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Missing Hockey

Song of the Day: Theme, "Hockey Night In Canada"
Verse of the Day: Col. 4:6


It has not struck me until recently that I miss hockey. Desperately. I picked up the Hockey News' recent "Great Debates" Special Edition, and all those memories came flooding back. Highlights and goals and stats and Saturday nights and playoffs. Rabidly watching the internet between classes during my student teaching this past March. Mocking out Ottawa year after year. Speaking of which, download "The Ottawa Song." A must for any Leafs fan. In fact, right now, I'm listening to my hockey mp3s. And I know I would be one of those guys singing "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?" in the Canadian commercial.

I've tried to fill the hole with other sports. Baseball? Too many steroids and money-ball and too much American-ism. Basketball? Just can't relate. NFL football? Too hard to watch on Sundays, plus there's just so much I don't know about football. You need to know strategy and players, and I don't. It's interesting as a secondary sport to follow, but my heart just can't be in it. CFL football was a solution, but only for a time. I plan to go to an occasional WHL game, but it's just not the same. I find that any other sport is more of a distant pursuit. I don't have a team I have invested fandom in, so it's more difficult to connect on a personal level with other sports. They are interesting, but not on the same level.

Everyone has to have at least one primary sport. For my father, it's NASCAR. He's got his drivers he cheers for, and he knows the stats and can sit down for five hours and watch a race. I cannot. My sport is hockey; the secondary is CFL football. But my sport has been taken from me, as have my beloved Leafs. I realize that many of you do not realize how difficult this is for hockey fans, but trust me, there's a hockey-shaped hole in my life.

I am not unaware of the parallel between trying to fill this hole with other sports and the lack of success therein to my attempts to fill the God-shaped hole in my life with other hollow pursuits such as money, recognition, friends, school, or love. But sometimes you do not know what you have until it's gone, and then there's a hole there. I know that God uses times where things are taken away from us to make us stronger, especially if we continue to pursue Him. (Bet you didn't think I could tie this all in to my life, did you? I win!) Right now, I've got a hole in my life that has come about, and I need God to fill it. I can only pray that I will be stronger as a result of having gone through this experience. Much like I hope that hockey will be stronger for having gone through this lockout.

For the record, I thought I should weigh in with my thoughts on some of the debates that are not entirely related to the actual lockout. Shorten the season to 72 games and have it done by Victoria Day long weekend, keeping the full playoffs as is. Contract by six teams to form a 24-team league: Nashville, Florida, Carolina, Washington, Anaheim and Pittsburgh gone. The telling point would be that likely a maximum of ten players from each of these teams would make the rosters of a newly-shrunk league in a redistribution draft. And while they're at it, relocate Atlanta and Tampa Bay to Winnipeg and Quebec City, respectively. The league went back to Minnesota and Denver, and look how that has worked. The NFL has seen several teams relocate or expand to previously evacuated cities such as Oakland, Baltimore, and Cleveland because they realized the need to have teams in those markets. Atlanta and Tampa Bay are too marketable to dismantle completely, so the best solution is to give them back to true hockey towns. And then just let the game be where it is, and work on it in the markets in which it flourishes. And work out all this garbage that interferes with our game! That's what you get for allowing Americans to sort this all out (Bettman is from Queens, NY, and Goodenow is from Dearborn, MI.) I just hope that the chance will come again for hockey. But the chance may never come again. Come back, hockey. Come back.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Un-engagement

This is the official notice that as of December 1, 2004, A and I called off our engagement. Check her blog for a more eloquent statement.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Soli Deo Gloria

Song of the Day: Moby, "Flower"
Verse of the Day: Col. 3:17


Bach wrote three letters at the end of each of the pieces of music he wrote: "SDG." These stood for "Soli Deo Gloria," or in English, "only to the glory of God." I want to live a life that enables those three letters to sum up everything that I do. SDG.

P.S. If it's true that you can judge a man by his friends, I must be the most amazing man alive.

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