Oh how the Grammy's have changed!

http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/grammy2.jpgThe 52nd Annual Grammy Awards air tonight, so I thought I'd take a look and see who is actually nominated this year.

To my surprise, it's actually stuff people and kids/teens are into: Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Black Eyed Peas, Taylor Swift, Kings of Leon... stuff I know that kids these days listen to as well.

I remember watching the 39th Annual Grammy Awards back in 1997 and how disappointed I was over the nominees - and yes, I did listen to Top 40 radio at the time - however most of the artists were all stuff you'd hear on the "Lite Rock" stations, aka stuff our parents were into.

Eric Caplton and Babyface won big with the song "Change the World" from that John Travolta movie Phenomenon, Sheryl Crow won under the "Rock" category several times, and Tracy Chapman won Best Rock Song for "Gimme One Reason" (or "Gimme One Rasin" as we used to sing it!). The only actual "rock bands" under the Rock category were The Smashing Pumpkins and Rage Against The Machine (who apparently are metal??). Beck is apparently both Rock and Alternative, winning under both categories, and Celine Dion and Leann Rimes also won awards as well.

Nowadays, it seems like the Grammy people mostly have a grasp on who fits in what categories - the "metal" nominees are no doubt, metal, as are most of the "Rock" nominees (with the exception of Prince that is).

Again, I am a bit surprised though, as growing up, no one in Jr. High and High School really seemed to listen to any of the artists nominated, whereas today, kids are loving Beyonce, The Black Eyed Peas, Katy Perry, P!nk, Taylor Swift, etc.

I wish The Grammy's had artists/bands I listened to nominated when I was a teen!


There's a map for that

http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/4/2009/12/8036327_01.jpgUnless you've been living under a rock the past few months or haven't watch any tv whatsoever, you are most likely familar with the ongoing "war" between wireless phone providers Verizon and AT&T.

AT&T claims to offer the best 3G experience there is, and use actor Luke Wilson as their spokesperson to point all the better 3G-related stuff they offer that Verizon apparently doesn't. Meanwhile, Verizon has gone with the comparison that they offer better coverage, using their coverage map and a coverage map of AT&T as a visual.

While I'm not entirely sure where Verizon got this particular map they use in their commercials (if you go online to AT&T's website, their coverage is actually a bit more than what the Verizon commericals claim), they definitely do cover more areas than AT&T do.

http://wirelessplusofpa.com/images/Wireless%20Plus%20Verizon-Coverage-Map.jpgWhat I don't get, AT&T, is what good does it do someone to have "the best 3G experience" when you can't get coverage where you live or where you frequently go?

I'd rather have the coverage, personally.

Not having coverage in certain areas I travelled was why I dropped t-mobile after my 1 year contract was up.

My family had been with US Cellular since I was 16 and got my first phone. I had that up until I was 22, when my family was thinking about switching elsewhere for a better nationwide plan and they were just paying month to month. I was becoming more and more independent and I saw that t-mobile had a special where I could get this cool Motorola PebL phone for like a penny when I signed up for a 1-year contract. After hear from a roommate and a few friends how happy they were with t-mobile, I decided to go for it.

During my first trip home from school, via the backroads, I had more dropped called in that 45 min drive than I had my entire time with US Cellular. Not to mention whenever I went to visit hubby and his family (before we were married), I would have zero bars of service out in the country where they live - this was quite inconvienient, especially being on backroads - if I were to have car trouble, I'd be SOL!

As soon as my contract was up I switched back to US Cellular. I explained it to t-mobile and they said it was a valid concern for leaving, saying that they hope to one day have coverage in those areas and when they do, they'd hope I would consider coming back.

Now I was happy with US Cellular but due to family connections at Verizon we ended up having to switch to keep with an affordable phone bill each month. And honestly, aside from a few issues with a certain store owner, I don't really have any complaints about the coverage, etc.

Which would you prefer - having coverage in places you go or having "the best 3G experience"?


Bands like Nickelback and Hinder should stop making music

http://hardrockhideout.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/163917__nickelback_l.jpgOnce upon a time, roughly 10 years ago, I liked this song that was on the radio called "Breathe" by a somewhat unknown band named Nickelback. I loved how heavy the bass was and how rockin' the guitars sounded, plus the lyrics were about someone who wasted their time trying to fit in with a certain crowd but realized if they could go back and take it all back they would - I could relate to that easily. I bought their CD "The State" and thought it was a decent album - it wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. This was near the end of my sophomore year in high school.

By the time 2nd semester of my senior year came around, Nickelback was pretty well known, as they now had a Top 40 mainstream hit with their single "How You Remind Me" and their new album "Silver Side Up." They also started to get very overplayed on both tv and radio.

Since "The State" was re-released in 2000, Nickelback has had four more albums come out, one of which has gone 8x Platinum, with a total of 18 singles.

Now some of these songs, such as "If Everyone Cared," "Gotta Be Someday," and "If Today Was Your Last Day," are a bit inspiring, but others, like "Something in Your Mouth," "Animal," "Rockstar," "Figured You Out," and their latest single "Shakin' Hands" are just downright stupid. Half their singles (and perhaps albums) these days seem to be about strippers, hookers, sluts or blowjobs.

Really? These are topics people want to hear bands singing about on the radio? Not this person and not most people I can think of that are over the age of 18!

While I will admit, when it comes to songs about blowjobs, Nickelback's "Something in Your Mouth" is a lot catchier than their previous attempt "Figured You Out" and Saving Abel's 2007 hit single "Addicted," but I still think both songs are terrible and shouldn't be getting as much airplay as they have.

And the chorus to their latest single "Shakin' Hands" with the fairytale reference is just plain terrible ("Well she ain't no Cinderella when she's getting undressed 'Cause she rocks it like the naughty wicked witch of the west").

http://hardrockhideout.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/hinder.pngAnother band that I think should just quit before they subject us to anymore of their "music" is Hinder.

Hinder made it big back in 2005 with their song "Get Stoned" - a song in which the chorus goes "Go home, get stoned, we could end up making love instead of misery... Go home, get stoned, cuz the sex is so much better when you're mad at me."


Their next single, "Lips of an Angel," was an even bigger hit, as it had the format of a rock ballad, this is actually a song about a guy wanting to cheat. In the song, the singer is sneaking around, talking to an ex whom he seems to still be in love with and would like to continue fooling around with even though he's in a relationship with someone else now. He knows that if his current girlfriend finds out that he's talking with this particular ex again it could cause problems.

For some reason, so many girls seem to take the chorus of this song out of context and swoon at the lyrics "It's really good to hear your voice saying my name - It sounds so sweet... Coming from the lips of an angel... Hearing those words it makes me weak."

Um, girls - he's saying that to his ex, not you!

Throughout the rest of the song he tells his ex "Sometimes I wish she was you... I guess we never really moved on," "Yes, I've dreamt of you too... I don't think she has a clue," and "I never wanna say goodbye, But girl you make it hard to be faithful... With the lips of an angel."

Do the girls that swoon over this song not realize the ENTIRE SONG is him talking sweet to his ex on the phone while his girlfriend is asleep in the other room?

Like some Nickelback songs, I didn't mind Hinder's next song, "How Long," as it's a song about a break up and the rhythm was kinda catchy - it sounded like a song that belonged on the new Miami Vice soundtrack, in my opinion.

Then they had the single "Better Than Me," which is basically a break-up song where he tells his girlfriend he's a terrible boyfriend and she can do much better than him. He mentions that one memory that he doesn't want to let go of is a time they "got busy" in a dressing room at the mall. He also misses the way her "innocence tastes" which is pretty self explanatory, given their usual song content.

Their next single, "Use Me," was the leading track of their next major album, and the jist of the song is that the girl is a freak (sexually) and he lets her use him because of that and he likes it.

I once heard a Christian girl in high school declare that Hinder was her and her boyfriend's band, as they've seen them together live several times. I think my jaw about dropped - how is a band where all their songs talk about either breaking-up, cheating, having rough sex, giving oral sex and doing drugs "their band"? My mind had a rough time trying to boggle and make sense of that one.

Over the years, Nickelback, in their quest to become the next Creed, has gone more and more mainstream trying to appeal to the demographic that still buys CDs - teens. I recently saw an episode of family guy where this speaker was trying to talk to the kids about a topic, and in doing so, he made negative references about the school's rival and sat "informally" like the kids were - the kids ate it up ("Haha, they're our rivals!" "Hey, he's sitting just like us! He must be cool!"). That's what Nickelback and Hinder are doing - all teen girls like to swoon over sweet sounding guys, and most teen guys like anything that makes them visualize sex. For example with Nickelback's hit song "Photograph," how many guys really sit and spend a day looking through old photos and reminiscing by themselves, and how many who do would actually admit it? I can't think of a single guy (and I know plenty!). Yet the idea of a guy being that sentimental makes teen girls swoon "Awww, how sweet!" And how many of their songs mention sex in some form? Yeah, that's playing to the teenage boys there.

Are kids that naiive today that all they focus on in a song is a catchy beat and chorus? Do they not listen to the rest of the lyrics? If they seriously understood the songs they seem to "love" so much on the radio they might just think twice. I'm sure if more girls paid attention to the lyrics of "Lips of an Angel" they might not be so quick to deem it "their song" with their boyfriend.

Bands like these two really need to be put out to pasture.


Goals for the New Year

So I know it's already almost the end of January (where did this month go?!), however I never made a post about my resolutions for the year, so here goes!

  • Keep up with the dishes
    One that I have surprisingly been keeping up on is being on top of doing the dishes. Usually I just let them pile up in the sink until we run out of plates or silverware or cups, however I decided that by doing them at the end of the day or every other day has it's benefits - the kitchen looks cleaner and it doesn't take me 2 hours to do the dishes like it does when I let them pile up. So good job there!

  • I would like to lose some weight
    Now I say this every year, but I really wanna make more of an effort than I have. I mean my eating habits are fine, I've got that under control, it's just I hardly ever exercise which is the problem. So my goal is to exercise a bit more. This will be easier once the weather is nicer as we can go walking on the walking path around the block, but in the meantime... I try to stick to riding the bike.

  • Get rid of unnecessary debt
    Now we don't have a lot of debt, however we do have a few past due bills of ours that need to be paid off, and I intend on having my laptop paid off this year too. So by getting these few things paid off, that'll be a nice weight lifted off our shoulders and really help hubby with credit score too.

  • Buy a house
    Okay so this one we're having problems with, and it's partially due to some of the unnecessary debt of past due bills. Just this last week we went in to try again for a pre-approval on a home loan and couldn't get it because hubby's credit score is still not high enough (mine is fine though, however I don't make enough to be able to get it on my own). There's a few things more we could do to clear up his score, however it needs to jump 60 points and last time we were only able to get it to jump about 50 with 3 things cleared up... so this one might take longer than we'd like and we might miss the 1st time home buyers tax credit, but we'll see...

  • Earn my Red Jacket
    This is my main goal for Mary Kay this year. I figure I have an entire year to make it happen though which is plenty time, as in order to get my Red Jacket I need 3 people to join my team and be active (I have 1 right now, but she's not considered active at the moment...).

  • Go to Dallas
    So this one is pretty much on the calendar, it's just coming up with the money for it, as we're in a bit of a pickle for taxes this season. We're shooting for October though and will know the exact dates we're aiming for once the NFL schedule is announced in April (hubby wants to see a Cowboys game while there and visit the new stadium). We also plan on visiting with my college roomie and her boyfriend, as well as visit the Mary Kay HQ and museum in Dallas as well.


The Prodigal God

So my husband and I decided to take a class on Wednesday nights at our church. Aside from just going to service on Sunday mornings, we haven't really been as connected up there as we once were back in high school, plus I like to get out do things from time to time rather than just sit at home.

http://www.ebiblebookstore.com/images/pi_21315.jpegWe decided to take a class called Wire'd, where for the first 6 weeks or so we'll be going through a book/video called "The Prodigal God" by Timothy Keller and then the last part of the course we'll be discussing a variety of hot topics and seeing what the Bible says to each draw our own conclusions.

In the first week, we watched the first video session (here's a link to the The Prodigal God trailer so you can see a little bit of what I'm talking about), which breaks down the well known parable of The Prodigal Son in Luke 15.
1Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. 2But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."  3Then Jesus told them this parable:

 11Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.
 13"Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
 17"When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' 20So he got up and went to his father.
      "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

 21"The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.[b]'
 22"But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.
25"Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'
 28"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'
 31" 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' "
Now there are several interesting things we learn here:
  • First, usually when you gain an inheritance, that means the person you are getting it from has died. So when the younger son goes to his still-living father and demands his inheritance now, he is basically telling his father "I wish you were dead." Also, in that time, when a father had 2 sons, when he died, the inheritance would be split by giving the oldest son 2/3 of the estate, while the younger would get 1/3. Being that the father was still alive in this case, he had to divide up what he currently had, which was no easy task; imagine having to sell 1/3 of everything you own - land, home, possessions, vehicles, stocks, etc in order to give exactly the amount of what it's worth to your child. (In the video, he has a 3 part table, where he removes the center section to illustrate this point).

  • Also, killing the fatten calf was not common - only was a celebration like that done for something major and you usually invited the entire village.

  • Another thing we learn, which often times is left out, is the reaction of the older brother. I always understood it from the point that he was just upset that his father was acting like a fool for being so accepting of the younger brother who was reckless and wasted everything. I never made the connection that part of the reason the older brother was so upset was that everything the father still owned, would one day be his, and here his father is wasting the best robe and prized fattened calf on the younger brother who already received everything he should have gotten from the father. Another reason he was upset was because he always did what he was told, never disobeyed and yet he never got rewarded for it, implying that he was only working hard to get a reward.

  • As we see in the first few verses, Jesus was talking to both the Pharisees and religious leaders and the sinners and tax collectors when he told this parable. Each brother represents one of these 2 groups - the younger is the sinners and tax collectors who are so obviously lost, while the older brother is the Pharisees and religious leaders who follow by the book and expect to be given what they feel they have earned - they don't understand why we should celebrate the sinners and tax collectors being "found" nor do they like it. The Father loves both his sons though reaches out to each of them.

  • When we discussed it, both brothers are clearly lost and usually you can see yourself in one brother or the other, which seems to be true when you really think about it - are you the type that always works hard to please others, or do you do what you want with no regard?

Another thing we discussed in our 2nd week is why so many people seemed to be turned off to the church, and the obvious reason is they feel many Christians are hypocrites, acting one way in church and another during the rest of the week. More people would rather hang out in a bar than at church because they feel less like to be judged at the bar or feel like they have "act" another way. The interesting thing regarding this that was mentioned was that if Jesus were around in the flesh today, He'd be hanging out in the bars with the "sinners," interacting with them, getting to know them and witnessing to them that way - He'd go to them, like the Father does to the older brother in the parable.

I think it's going to be an interesting series.
For those interested in checking it out, Wire'd meets Wednesday nights from 630-8pm First Evangelical Free Church, Rockford in room 139A with Pastor Jake Aldrich. The class goes from January 6 - April 21 and is $10/person, this includes the cost of the study guide.


A Cowgirl in Bears territory

As most know, my husband and I are both fans of the Dallas Cowboys football team, however, living in Illinois and neither of us ever having been to Texas, a lot of people tend to wonder why.

Well, I can't speak for hubby, but I know he's been a fan since well before I ever met him. My roots as well go back quite a bit.

When I was in grade school in the early-mid 90s, Starter Jackets were THE fashion accessory at the time - all the "cool" boys (or as cool as they can possibly be in 5th grade) and even some of the girls wore them. And the majority wore either 49ers or Cowboys jackets. At the time, the Cowboys were huge, after winning several Superbowls, and everyone know who Emmitt Smith and Troy Aikman were. So naturally, I picked one of the 2 popular teams to like, even though I didn't really know much about football at the time.

http://images.art.com/images/-/2000-NFL-Helmets---Dallas-Cowboys--C10035853.jpegI did however always, always, always catch the annual Cowboys Thanksgiving Day game and cheer them on - watching them play on Thanksgiving sort of became a tradition for as long as I can recall.

Again though, I was never THAT into football though so I didn't really follow them too closely.

In high school, I dated a die-hard Chicago Bears fan. Every Sunday afternoon during football season was spent hanging out in my parents basement, watching the Bears game on my dad's big tv with the surround sound, and then when we got to college, we'd watch with some of the other guys in his dorm. I even got this boyfriend Bears tickets for his birthday one year. It was fun, and I always checked the ticker to see how the Cowboys were doing, but again, I was never really THAT into football, although during the time I watched with this boyfriend, I did learn a lot about the game.

I also attended most of the NIU football games during my first few years there - one year we were really on roll, with Michael "The Burner" Turner, PJ Fleck, Dan Sheldon, Sam Hurd, and Doug Free and then later on with Garrett Wolfe and Larry English. However the guy I dated throughout most of my time in college was not into sports, let alone football, so I kind of didn't really follow anyone outside of NIU.

Then when hubby and I started dating, I got back into the watching football-mode. But with him being a Cowboys fan too, it was nice to actually get to see them in action, rather than just follow the ticker on the bottom of the screen. Another plus, is getting to see several of the NIU guys I watched in college play in the NFL now, since Sam Hurd and Doug Free both play for the Cowboys.

So that, my friends, kind of explains why I am a Cowgirl in Bears (and I guess you could also say Packers) territory.

The only drawbacks however, is that a handful of the games we have to watch online from random webcasts/streams, when the Cowboys play during the same time that the Bears, Packers, and Vikings are all playing games, as those are the teams in our local market and we don't have the money to pay for Sunday Ticket or whatever it's called. Another drawback, is that the only places to get gear is at actual sports stores or order online - we can't buy Cowboys stuff for cheap at say Walmart like we could Bears and Packers. But those are drawbacks we can easily live with =)