My Favorite Movie of 2012

The Impossible--mother and sonOscars night has come and gone, and the nominees for Best Picture were, from a family perspective, relatively slim pickings. Most of them ranged from spiritually muddled at best (Life of Pi, Beasts of the Southern Wild) to profane, violent and/or morally offensive at worst (roughly half the nominees). The picture which came out on top in the end, historical hostage thriller Argo, was actually one of the better choices. I agree with Focus on the Family’s Plugged In (whose Oscar roundtable podcast you can check out here), that it was a fun, exciting, well-made film which could easily have been appropriate for young teens on up were it not for its bad language. A candidate for ClearPlay, perhaps.

However, my favorite film of the year wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture. In fact, my favorite film of the year was barely nominated for anything and came home empty-handed. Continue reading “My Favorite Movie of 2012”

Support the Perrys

There have been too many updates on Tracy Stuffle’s stroke for me to keep up with them all. I continue to point readers to the Caring Bridge website, where fresh news is posted daily. Things took a turn for the worse just recently when the drainage catheter stopped functioning, but the newest replacement now seems to be doing the job.

It’s been heartening to read about the outpouring of aid for the Perrys during this time (Lauren at View From the Pew has details on benefit concerts and other ways fans can tangibly show their support), but disappointing to hear of promoters who are cancelling booked dates because Libbi can’t leave Tracy, even though Joseph and Brian are continuing on with a fill-in alto. Libbi writes:

Questions have been ask [sic] when will I be back on the road because some churches and promoters are starting to not book or cancel dates. I wish it wasn’t this way, because I know the group is doing a great job!! I have told the agency that I will try to be back on the road by April 1. Sometimes you have to do what you really don’t won’t to do, but because of circumstances you have no choice. Thank you to those who do and have understood! I am forever grateful for your love and support.

I mean… I seriously don’t get it. Especially those who are cancelling. I do feel promoters should continue to book the Perrys despite this tough circumstance, but I’m especially angered by those who are cancelling previous agreements. Yes, Libbi and Tracy are the main draw for Perrys fans, but surely those very fans would by now be fully aware of what the family is going through and hence more motivated to show up in support. Ironically, promoters may be backing their way out of a nice profit.

Zak Shumate Leaves EHSS

I was very sad to read that Zak Shumate will be leaving Ernie Haase & Signature Sound to accept a position with the Isaacs. He wrote on his twitter:

I have mixed emotions to announce Mar.3rd will be my last show w/ Ernie Haase & Signature Sound. An amazing 3 years w/ some incredible guys! I’m excited & honored to be joining @IsaacsMusic! Check out http://www.isaacsmusic.com  for concert schedules! Excited about the future!

This really is a great, great opportunity for Zak. Still, he was my favorite EHSS band member! What will they do without their Animal? Now they are short both a guitarist (Kelly Vaughn) and a drummer. They’ve been known for being one of the few southern gospel artists on the road who uses live music, but now it looks like it’s down to Wayne and David Griffith.

But hey, the Cathedrals managed okay with just piano and bass guitar… right?

What’s Wrong With Dan Cathy’s New Friend?

Well, I’m sure by now many of you have heard of Dan Cathy’s friendship with Shane Windmeyer, leading gay activist opponent of Chick-Fil-A. Windmeyer contributes to the Gay Voices corner of the Huffington Post and recently published a piece providing the details of the surprising relationship. Many Christian evangelicals have referred positively to this article and praised Cathy’s decision to cultivate this friendship. The consensus has been that this is a positive, healthy thing that will help “heal division” and further lay to rest the caricature of Christians as “hateful” towards the gay community. Even conservative evangelicals like Denny Burk are reacting this way.

As usual, I’m going to be the lone dissenter. But I don’t want to downplay the significance of this story. On the contrary, I agree that it’s significant. But I disagree regarding how we, as Christians in the trenches of the culture wars, should receive it. Continue reading “What’s Wrong With Dan Cathy’s New Friend?”

Craig Thomas Leaves the Dixie Echoes

I thought this line-up was gelling quite nicely and that Thomas had a sweet, smooth sound. But it seems he was homesick:

Well this post comes with a heavy heart. I have decided to come off the road with the Dixie Echoes and resume my other work at my construction company. I want to thank Scoot and Randy for understanding my need to do this and for allowing me to live out my dream. I will miss the singing, the traveling and most of all the fans. I want thank Scoot, Randy, Ben and Jordan for some great times and wonderful singing. I love you guys and may God Bless your ministry. You are all true men of God.

Daniel Mount has pointed out that this now makes not one, not two, but THREE high-profile groups “looooking for a tenor.” Dixie Echoes plus Mark Trammell Quartet and Gold City. A little Gerald Wolfe seems in order:

Borrowing: “I Will Sing”

Today we’re featuring a Rich Mullins song! Yes, I know he’s not the first name that comes to mind when thinking “southern gospel,” but this song actually features some great country/gospel harmonies. It’s the opening track from his album Never Picture Perfect, an acapella trio where Rich takes the lead, joined by a couple ragamuffin friends (a man and a woman, I think). The woman has a great “country squeak.” I’ve always thought it was a beautiful composition, and I think it could work very well as an acapella number for a trio like the Martins, the Isaacs or the Sisters (though not necessarily in the same key). My personal first choice would be the Martins:

Monday Morning Humor: Science Projects

A classic from Brian Regan, rendered in stick figure form.

The original version of this routine can be found on his 20-year-old special Something’s Wrong With the Regan Boy—not available on DVD, but some kind soul has digitized his copy and put it on Youtube in 3 parts for posterity. If you like self-deprecating humor, with an emphasis on helping you laugh at those painfully funny moments from your childhood memories, I highly recommend the whole show. The “h” word is used with moderate frequency, but otherwise there’s no bad language, and the humor is good clean fun.

GaitherVevo: What’s Lady Gaga Doing Next to My Gaithers?

A commentator or two have read my own mind and posted complaints in a previous thread regarding Gaither’s move to create and put officially approved content on a Vevo page. This is something I’ve been planning to discuss myself.

On one hand, I don’t want to diss Gaither Vevo too loudly, since they are making a generous amount of high def. content available for viewers to enjoy. There’s a wealth of material from numerous homecomings and videos, much more than you’ll find other music companies publicly offering. For that, I’m grateful.

Unfortunately, Vevo controls its own wallpaper and “featured” videos which may show up in the sidebar as you’re trying to enjoy your dose of Gaithers. Needless to say, these are often in very bad taste, and may sometimes even contain foul language in the song titles alone. One can try to go to full screen to escape, but some computers will lower the picture quality or slow down considerably in response. In any case, that’s not the sort of the thing one should be forced to think about or deal with when you’re simply browsing Youtube for gospel music.

What makes this doubly awkward is that in conjunction with creating this official channel, EMI has been systematically removing Gaither clips uploaded by other Youtube users on their non-Vevo accounts. This means that if one previously had the option of directing a friend to a non-Vevo link for a given video (with no ugly wallpaper and profane related videos to distract), that option is no longer available.

I realize that there are copyright issues here, and my intent is not to get into the thick of all that. But I think it’s fair to say that if the way you’re circulating your clips makes  it harder for people to watch and enjoy, you may be better off from a marketing perspective leaving unofficially posted clips alone.

Just a thought for the higher-up who’s probably not reading this.

YouWriteSongs Website—Vanished?

A few months ago, Wayne Haun and Joel Lindsey teamed up to create a site called YouWriteSongs.com, offering tips and advice to aspiring songwriters. Yesterday I went to the site and got an empty page. It appears to have vanished. Are other people encountering the same thing?

Anyone who knows something I don’t is welcome to clarify in the comments. If the site really is down, it could be for a variety of reasons. Whatever it is, I hope the change isn’t permanent. Meanwhile, I’m working to see if I can find out any additional info. Further updates will be posted here.

[Update: quartet-man did a little digging and unearthed the fact that it appears the domain name expired on February 7th without renewal. Mystery (kinda) solved.]