Thursday, September 2, 2010

Kickoff

For the last two years, I've paused at the beginning of football season to thank the football gods that another season is upon us. Then, I blink and the season is almost over. I look around and it's almost time for the Iron Bowl! What happened? It flies by. So, today, I want to take a moment to dwell in the eager anticipation that precedes the first college football game. Isn't Christmas Eve almost as fun as Christmas? Wanting so badly for something to happen, that you know WILL happen eventually. It's another story if you're unsure whether or not that for which you pine will come to fruition. However, football WILL happen. Thus, I want to record with written word this moment. On the tail end of a long, hot summer; it's about to happen. I flirted with soccer to try to ease the withdrawals (see previous post). But, there's no substitute for the real thing. It begins tonight. Southern Miss against South Carolina at 6:30 CST. A new season of football, a new season in our lives. Bring the cold weather, long sleeves, smack-talk, warm beverages, and ardent cries of WAR DAMN EAGLE!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lando Can't-miss-ian

I'm hooked. Soccer is awesome. As you know, I have made an effort to be a soccer fan for the 2010 World Cup. So, I went to a local bar here an Auburn called Quixote's to watch the match this morning at 8:30 a.m. Mimosas and breakfast burritos were flowing and patriotism was high. I felt like a true soccer fan watching a match in a bar in the morning! In the seventh minute, Algeria hit the top bar on a shot that scared us all to death. Later, a Clint Dempsey goal was discounted because we were called offsides, which we weren't. Thus, after 90 minutes of play, the score was still nil-nil. At the time, England was up 1-0 on Slovenia. If those results had stayed, England and Slovenia would have moved on to the round of 16 and we would have gone home. Things were looking grim. The official added four minutes of extra time. In the 91st minute, Algeria made a rifle shot on our goal, but our monster of a keeper stopped it. He quickly threw it out to one of our players in just the right spot. It was then passed downfield and we were on the move! Landon Donovan passed it to Jozy Altidore who shot, but the ball was blocked. As the ball came bouncing out, Donovan smashed it in. The place went NUTS. The country went nuts. All hell broke loose. Beer was spraying everywhere. It was better than an Auburn win. In a split second, we went from going home, to winning our group and moving on. (By the way, we haven't won our group since 1930!) Elation. Pure joy. Check it out.
video


After the initial celebration the bar broke into a rousing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. It was the "War Eagle fly down the field" of our entire nation. What a cool moment. Go USA!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

World Cup of Football Soccer match games

I've never liked soccer. I was never cool enough to play soccer. I was never athletic enough to play soccer. Why watch or play soccer when there's hard-hitting, high-scoring American football to watch?

I'm changing my tune these days. I've made a commitment to be a soccer fan throughout this 2010 World Cup. I'm trying to understand the game and all its weird rules. So, here's a list of things I like about soccer, things I don't like, and ways I would improve the game.

Things I don't like:
1. The fact that the officials can penalize a team for something... and not even have to tell the team WHAT for. Case and point - USA v. Slovenia. Are you freaking kidding me?
2. The acting. Because they give officials so much power, whenever a player hits the ground they have to whine and cry and grab their face and pretend to be more injured than they've ever been. Dumb.
3. The low scoring. I know, I know, it's just the nature of the game. And I am learning to appreciate the little things (takeaways, good passes, etc.) instead of focusing solely on goals.

Things I like:
1. Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin... I like how the clock just runs. You will not have to watch commercials until half time. That's pretty rad. It also speaks to the athleticism of the players that they have to continue playing for 45 mintues!
2. The globality (new word) of it. I'm a huge fan of the olympics because it brings the world together. For those three weeks, most of the world's attention is focused on the games. I always dismissed the World cup. But, soccer truly is a global game that brings hooligans from all parts of the world together.
3. The simplicity of the game. Kick the ball into the goal. Easier said than done, but that's how you win. Done.

Ways I would improve soccer:
1. Coat the ball in bacon grease and periodically release a pack of dogs onto the field.
2. Have "hotspots" like in NBA Jam. If you score from the small circle with a 3 on it, you get three points instead of one.
3. Flaming soccer ball.

Those are just a few of the ways soccer would be more interesting. I think FIFA will have no problem implementing those simple suggestions.

Go USA!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Who Knew There was a Water Park In Auburn?

Who knew there was a water park in Auburn? Ok, I knew. But, I thought it was like trashy, run down, gross, dumb, nobody goes there water park. Turns out it's none of those things (except for the nobody-goes-there part). With the summer off, some coworkers and I decided to get season passes to Surfside water park. It's pretty rad. There's a wave pool, a lazy river, six slides, and delicious chili-cheese dogs. We got the "family package" so it was a much better deal. We spend our afternoons sliding, floating, and generally lazing around the water park. On a crowded day, there may be a two-person wait for the best slides. On an average day though, there are as many lifeguards as patrons of the fine establishment. What a hidden gem in the sediment that is Auburn.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lions




In 2nd Samuel, a man named Benaiah is in the woods on a snowy afternoon. He spots a lion. Most of us would wet ourselves, then run. Not Benaiah. He charges the lion and the lion runs! Benaiah gives chase until he comes upon a deep pit. He walks up to the edge, looks down, and sees two huge yellow eyes staring back at him. Benaiah turns from the pit and walks away. However, he's not walking away for good. Instead, he's getting a running start. He leaps into the pit with spear in hand to kill or be killed. After several minutes of roaring, grunting, and screaming, Benaiah climbs out of the pit.
I bought a book yesterday called In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson. I thought I was done with these Christian self-help, inspirational books. However, something about this one peaked my interest (and it was only five bucks at the Cornerstone bookstore). I've read four chapters and am loving it.

It's not NORMAL to chase a lion into a pit and try to kill it. God doesn't call us to sit by and be normal. The lion represents our seemingly insurmountable fears, and the only way to overcome that fear is to face it head on. That defies all that is within us though. Our rational minds say, "Are you crazy? I'm not going into that pit after that lion!" But it's an integral part to becoming who God wants us to be. Imagine you are on a boat in the middle of the ocean. You've never really sailed before, but you thought it'd be fun. You ask your captain, "Have you ever been in a storm before?" Wouldn't you feel much better if your captain's response was "Yes, I've weathered many storms at sea" rather than "Nope, never sailed in a storm before"? The adversity makes us better, stronger, wiser.

So this image of a lion is stuck with me right now. It represents those fears that we normally would run away from, but God is calling us to chase, charge, and kill. I like that. I like the thrill of overcoming a fear. I've been wanting a tatoo for a while now. I couldn't ever think of a phrase that I would want on me forever. But a picture is worth a thousand words. I think I want a lion tatoo. So, yesterday I drew one on my arm just to see what it would look like.
I would probably go about two-thirds that size. It's called a "rampant lion" and it was used in medieval times on shields and crests.

We give lions so much respect because of how much we fear them. Our fears in life don't deserve that much respect. They can rule us if we don't chase them down and defeat them. The thing to remember though, is that we don't fight them alone. Our God is fighting alongside us.




Thursday, April 22, 2010

Whiplash

Things have been crazy around here! I'm sure you've been busy too. In the last few weeks I've put on four performances of our Spring Show "Willy Wonka Jr." and had two choir concerts. I've also been up to my eyeballs in paperwork for our spring trip to Atlanta. Most of the time I like being busy, I feel like I work better and harder when I'm under the gun. However, it was nice to get home at a normal time yesterday and be able to have a life after work!

Here's a thought (totally seperate from the above statements) that I've been pondering today: If we all know and understand that nobody is perfect, why is it so hard to accept when we fail or do something stupid? I'm not saying we should just be ok with messing up, but why is it SO difficult to admit when we're wrong and apologize? Is it pride? Are we too prideful to admit that we messed up? I'm trying not to be. Derek Webb once said that the greatest thing that could ever happen to us is for our greatest sin to be broadcast on the 5 o'clock news. Scary thought huh? But maybe he's on to something. If everyone knows the depths of everyone else's struggles, weaknesses, and failures, maybe we would be more inclined toward understanding and forgiveness.

I'm not a great person that screws up every now and then. Rather, I'm a screw-up that gets things right every now and then.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hello?

Hello? Anyone there? Does anybody still read this? I sure don't.

Anyways- if you happen to stop by and read, I'll write some things just for you. Life right now is grand. I'm (generally) happy at my job, there's an extra hour of daylight every day, I attend a great church, I've been lifting weights (to get swole for warrior dash... which is a topic for another post), my car runs well, my dog runs well... life is good.

Rehearsals for Willy Wonka Jr. are in the stage where they are actually fun now. Don't get me wrong, they are still work. However, I enjoy it. I actually look forward to it. I don't mind that it keeps me at school until 5:30 or later. The kids know their lines. The props are coming in. Costumes are getting finished. The set is being finalized. Things are coming together and I'm really excited! We bought our own lights and they came in today! In the past, we've rented them for just a little less than it cost to buy them. So, we bit the bullet, did a fundraiser (talent show) and bought them! Let there be light! If you're in the Auburn area (or even if you're not) on April 13th, please come to Drake Middle School to see our production. These kids (and teachers) have worked SO hard!!

Easter. Of all the crazy things in the bible. He died. His enemies sat back and laughed, washed their hands of him. Then, our God raised him from the dead. BAM! In yo face. If I had to pick one event from the bible to actually witness, it would be His resurrection (well... if I'm honest with myself it would probably be his crucifixion. I daily need to be reminded that it was MY sin that he took upon himself... and also MY sin that he overcame and MY life he died for). But... in terms of sheer AWESOMENESS... resurrection all the way. I would freak out.

So, count your blessings this week. Including, but not limited to, the fact that our God has a plan that we cannot even fathom. Crazy ole Yaweh... what'll he do next?

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Huge Mistake

I'm so angry. Citadel Communications has decided to pull Live 100.5 off of their frequency and replace it with some bull**** news-talk show. This is egregious in so many ways. Radio in Birmingham has suffered in mediocrity for years. The X was a glimmer of hope, but it got moved around and eventually settled in the mire of Nickelback, Three Doors Down, and the like. Then, Live 100.5 was born. Radio was good, really good. The DJs were knowledgeable, the music cutting-edge. It was a station I could rely on to play some of my favorite music, as well as introduce me to great new music. I travel often from Auburn to Birmingham and back. I had landmarks picked out that told me when I was close enough to Birmingham to tune in to 100.5.
I'm frustrated, angry, and mostly just disappointed. The worst part? The station that's taking it over is being SIMULCAST on an AM frequency! It just makes no sense. Birmingham is doomed to forever wallow in crappy music and conservative talk radio. It was good while it lasted and I wish them all the best. I can only hope that the spirit of Live 100.5 will resurface on another frequency some day.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Holy Frustration

I just got back from AMEA. Alabama Music Educator's Association Conference in Tuscaloosa. Professional development opportunities for music teachers are non existent at the local level, so we get together at conferences like this once or twice a year. It's always so good to see my colleagues from Birmingham. These are choir directors (most of them middle school) with whom I share a vision and passion to teach kids through music.
While it's good to hang out and cut up, we also attend concert sessions and interest sessions. Here's where things get thick. I found myself intensely frustrated today. By what? I'm not even quite sure that I've processed enough to know yet. However, I think it's rooted in the disparity between where I am and where I want to be. All of my colleagues have these wonderful, flourishing choral programs renowned throughout the state. Me... I'm bashing my head against the wall trying to build one up. The choral music "scene" or "culture" (if you will) doesn't exist in Auburn like it does in Birmingham. People "get it" there. There is an expectation from the community, parents, teachers, kids, etc. that ___________ Middle School has a great choral program and your kid should go there and be in choir because they'll have a great experience. That doesn't exist in Auburn. Well, let me pause and say that it does somewhat exist at the Junior High and High school level, but not at my school.
Mine is just a different circumstance that makes it more difficult to have a comparable middle school program to others in the state.
So what right? Quit whining. I agree. I learned a lot at this conference. I was affirmed in some of the things I already do and introduced to many new things and ideas to try. I've heard of a thing called a "holy frustration," a discontent placed in one's heart that urges them to change their circumstances or the circumstances that created said frustration. I think that's what I come away from AMEA with. Yes, I heard some great choirs and that's always a plus. But even more, I was able to see and be reminded of where I want to be. Why I'm doing the things I'm doing at my school. Why, when it seems like nobody else cares one way or the other, I'm pushing for sixth grade choir. Why I'm teaching kids classical choral repertoire when all they want to sing is what they hear on the radio. Keep in mind I'm not saying these things for MYSELF. This isn't because I want more fame or renown. I just want for my students the same opportunities and experiences afforded to those kids in more chorally conscious school systems. I'm young. I got time. I'm gonna make this happen.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Twenty Ten

Whadup. So I spent a couple weeks at my parents lovely home in Bluff Park. A warm fire, homecooked meals, the Christmas tree, my awesome family, a yard for my dog. What else does a man need? Nothing, but that didn't stop the awesome things from happening. Here's what they were.

Cousins. I've got lots of them and I love them. They are like extended brothers and sisters. I got to see and catch up with them over the break. Some of them have offspring... which is weird, but really awesome too. We had our annual Cater cousin Christmas cookie bake. It was mostly the offspring throwing flour everywhere, but who cares. It was great.

Movies. I saw several movies at the cineplex. Avatar. Brilliant. Sherlock. Brilliant. Invictus. Always wanted to see Morgan Freeman portray Mandela. I love films.

Christmas. We give each other gifts to symbolize the gift that God gave us. Now, a shirt or green currency paper will never match up to a living God who sacrificed himself, died excruciatingly, and rose again. But... it's nice to get that stuff right? I was further reminded of how blessed I am. Christmas was great. My only regret? I didn't see either Home Alone or Home Alone 2. Travesty, I know.

My Dad's latest phase. Each year, my father becomes infatuated with something new. Running (although he did that for years), Cycling (also did that for years), sailing, etc. This year, his thing is shotguns. He bought a new shotgun and he and I and my brother shot clays a couple times over the break. Let it be noted that I outshot him both times. Still, tons of fun. He's also (probably) going to get a hunting dog. Time to shoot some birds. Here's a video I made of Cater Men Swing and Shoot 2009, an all day outing of my father, brother, and myself to Farmlinks in Fayetteville, AL.


video

New Years always sucks. I think it's because of the unusually high expectations we place on it to become the greatest night of the year. This time, it didn't disappoint. I partied with Daniel, Lee, Jake, Daniel's wife and lots of her friends. I danced the night away. Went to bottletree cafe. Danced more. Best New Year's ever.

The next day Auburn played in one of the most ridiculous bowl games I've ever seen. We won three bowl games that day. Can we store those up and use them in the future?

So now I'm back in Auburn. I'm back in my small white house with my dog. The cat that lives under the house somehow managed not to freeze to death (unfortunately). However... I've got a plan! I ordered a small animal trap. I'm going to trap that cat, drive out to Tuskeegee and let it go. Get outta here cat.

Students come back tomorrow. Can't wait.

It might snow Thursday night. Great... I probably just jinxed it.

I'm working on my 2010 resolution. Last year's resolution was to listen to more blues music. I can honestly say that it was the first time I've remained mindful of my new year's resolution all year. I'd say I succeeded. I'm kicking around a couple ideas for this year's resolution. I'll get back to you.

The olympics are soon. I love the Olympics so much.

I like even numbers WAY better than odd numbers. So, the fact that it's 2010 makes my soul feel at ease. At least for another year.

I hope your 2010 is full of great things.