Category Archives: Blog stuff

Related Videos On Embeds

This is a quick note to inform you that it appears I no longer have control over whether or not an embedded video’s related videos appear on my site after the clip has finished playing. I’m very annoyed about this, because sometimes I can embed a perfectly good video that has something inappropriate in the sidebar. For a long time there’s been a feature enabling me to cut all that out when I embed. Now, apparently, I can’t anymore. In light of this, I will try to be especially careful to choose versions of videos that don’t have foul words or images right in related vid preview stills. Just be warned that so-called “related videos” can sometimes be completely unrelated. It could be a song that’s currently “hot” and has NOTHING to do with the clip I embedded! (Although some genuinely related videos might contain inappropriate content too, e.g., a song I do NOT endorse by a non-Christian artist I happen to like.)

Piggy-backing off that last point, please also keep in mind that if it’s Monday Morning Humor, and there’s a related video from the same source I took a clip from, that related video may not be appropriate! I pick and choose “funnies” from a variety of sources, some of which are not Christian. So DON’T assume that I am recommending an entire show, group or comedian because I posted a couple good things from them.

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All Hail to Chrome Nanny

With a hat tip to Tim Challies, who always has good tips about time management, I’ve discovered the Internet monitoring tool I’ve always been looking for: Chrome Nanny. It’s constructed to help those of us who are a little less controlled than the rest of you in our compulsory Internet-surfing habits. You can block out times of day when certain sites are not allowed, allow yourself only limited amounts of time per session, or arrange so that certain sites are blocked all the time. I started using it the other day, and I’m impressed! Also courtesy of Challies, I set it up to redirect me to this page. A very nice motivational message for people like me who need it.

Of course, there are ways to get around it, but as a demotivator, Chrome Nanny is designed to generate a long, random string of variables which must be accurately typed out (no cut and paste!) in order to allow me to change my settings. They’ve judged smartly that most folks will probably give up 32 characters in and decide it’s not worth it just to snatch a few extra moments on twitter!

If any of my Chrome-using readers feel they could use a bit of nannying to nudge them towards greater productivity, I highly recommend this tool.

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Poll and Discussion: Blog Atmosphere

Every blog has its own atmosphere. Even within just one particular field of interest, atmospheres can vary wildly. Witness the variety of blogs under the banner of southern gospel: Nobody could ever mistake Southern Gospel Blog, Musicscribe, An Artist’s Perspective or Averyfineline for each other.

Some of these blogs cover absolutely nothing but southern gospel music, or things that could be related to southern gospel in some way (like discussing groups or songs that could plausibly cross over or already have done so). Examples would be the aforementioned Southern Gospel Blog (with the exception of a weekly devotional and book review), Southern Gospel Critique, Nate’s Southern Gospel Ponderings, or Swain’s Musings. Others like Burke’s Brainwork are nearly entirely focused on southern gospel but just occasionally take a break for something like sports, secular music, etc. Others are more unpredictable, still having a strong focus on southern gospel but covering a broad range of topics that interest the author. Friday Night Revival falls into this category, as do I, and to some extent Musicscribe as well (though that blog maintains a predominant focus on music, as opposed to film, books, politics, etc.)

This last category is comfortable for me because I get to write about one very strong interest (southern gospel), but I also enjoy the freedom to explore other interests. That’s why I don’t have an “off topic” category for the blog—anything could be a topic! Good literature, good movies, good music of all kinds… I crave these things like chocolate, and I love to share my love for them with my readers. I also offer political and theological insight when I see an opportunity to speak truth, particularly on relevant topics in the church and the world today.

What I’m curious about is how this atmosphere suits my readers. I realize that not everybody is interested in everything, yet I  have tried to maintain regular southern gospel posting to keep fans of the music coming back for my perspective on it. And yet I like the atmosphere of variety, because I like writing about a variety of things. It suits me. The question is, does it suit you?

Here are two polls that’ll help me gauge where my readers are coming from on this. I’d also love to hear more detailed feedback in the comments. Just be candid, and as long as your thoughts are constructive, I’ll welcome them.

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Southern Gospel Yankee Turns One!

Well, I made it! My first year with my own blog. I can’t tell you all how grateful I am for your readership, your interest, and your comments. Over the past year, I’ve invited various people to check out what I write, but every now and again I ask myself “Why?” Well truthfully, I want to encourage people, and I particularly want to encourage artists whose music I enjoy. But there’s a punchier (and not necessarily untrue) answer as well, which is that I’ve got a lot to say about a lot of stuff, and I want the rest of the world to know it! But then you wonder, “Am I just talking to myself? Is there anyone out there who actually gives a hoot what I think about anything?”

That’s where you come in. Every bit of positive feedback I get means something to me. It tells me I’m doing something right. It tells me someone’s reading and enjoying what he reads. And it tells me someone would be genuinely disappointed if I shut everything down. (On the other hand, constructive criticism is welcome too, with an emphasis on the constructive part. Later some time this week or next week I’ll open up a thread where you can offer comments on what you like/dislike about the blog and where you might like to see it go.)

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank some special people who have graciously given of their time and support to me over this past year. They deserve to be acknowledged by name. So, in no particular order, I would like to thank…

Terry Franklin: For being, quite simply, one of the best men I know. I can’t thank you enough for your readership, your encouragement of me in my singing and writing, your time, and your friendship. I am deeply humbled and deeply grateful.

Dianne Wilkinson: For being my sweet, honorary Southern grandma. Thank you for reading, for telling me I can write songs, and for sharing your wisdom with me.

Michael Booth: For telling me that I have a purpose and that I’m fulfilling it well. And for singing a duet with me. :)

Kevin Williams: For being as sweet as you are hilarious. I can’t believe you actually remembered who I was and handed me free music at the Christmas Homecoming. Thanks for being my fan. I assure you the feeling is mutual.

Buddy Greene: For giving me free music, for reading, and for being the means of Steve Green leaving a comment on my blog. :-o To know that you’re reading makes me slightly nervous but very honored as well!

Ernie Haase: For your readership and continued support. And for singing a duet with me. :)

The Other Signature Sound Guys: For being sweet and supportive and letting me interview you. Y’all rock.

Wendy Wills and Lyn Rowell: For being willing to go behind one of the best songs of 2011 with me. Thanks to Wendy in particular for your continued correspondence and friendship.

Jim Stover: For your enthusiastic support and encouragement. We are kindred spirits. :)

I also want to thank the other southern gospel bloggers who’ve allowed me to fit right in—DBM, Swain, Burke, all you guys. You make me feel cool. :) Special shout-out to me Irish matey across the sea, Phil. It was fun to get know you this year.

Also, a shout-out to all the artists who have sent me their music for review. Because after all, without southern gospel music, there are no southern gospel bloggers.

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What I Discovered On My Hiatus, and Belated Happy Reformation Day/Halloween

I’m baaaaaaack! Before setting my nose to ye olde grindstone again, I shall present some random things I learned on my hiatus from blog-dom. They may be of some use to my readers. Or not. But for what it’s worth, here are my random discoveries…

*As an actress, Carrie Underwood makes a great country singer.

*Speaking of Soul Surfer, it’s not quite as bad as I’d feared. I mean it is lame, hackneyed, shallow, etc., just not a total disaster.

*Speaking of water, I had a chance to hang out in a pool for the first time in years, and I can still swim. Only problem is I’m about the size of a minnow (but that’s not a new discovery).

*Alec Baldwin was really handsome thirty years ago.

*Collin Raye

*chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream

*Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles. (Actually, that’s not strictly accurate. I’d already discovered all that the first time I read The Princess Bride. I merely refreshed my memory. By the way, you absolutely must read the book even if you have already seen the movie.)

Good week. Good to be back. Oh by the way, I had been planning to post this video in honor of Reformation Day before deciding to take a hiatus, but as things fell out the day happened to slip by during my silent period. So here, a little belated, is my favorite singer singing a great hymn. Though to be perfectly honest, even though this is a great hymn, I personally don’t enjoy it as much as I enjoy some others, simply because it can get a little heavy and tiresome if sung over and over, particularly at a methodically leaden pace. But in Steve’s hands, it is pure gold:

And now, moving from the sublime to the ridiculous… in honor of Halloween, here’s a great spoof of the interrogation scene from The Dark Knight. Note: You should ONLY watch this if you’ve already seen The Dark Knight. It won’t be funny at all unless you’ve seen the movie. You won’t get it. Trust me. But if you have seen the movie, it will be hilarious.

One more thing… I was (almost) successful in my goal to avoid checking any of my regular blogs for updates! I once unthinkingly went to southerngospelblog, then couldn’t resist reading the interview with Tim Duncan. But that was it. I also glanced very briefly at a blog I hardly ever read anyway, and since there wasn’t actually anything new, I spent all of two seconds there. As you can tell, I’m very proud of myself. Pathetic, huh?

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Announcing a Short Hiatus and a Self-Challenge

Here’s the announcement: For a full week, I’m going to take a break from blogging.

But not only that, I’m challenging myself to abstain from even checking any of the blogs I regularly check for updates, or leaving comments there.

If you knew how much time I spend just going around to the many, many blogs and websites that I read, on all kinds of topics, you would know that this is going to be a bit of a challenge. But I think I just need to pull back. It really is its own kind of addiction, and even though I obviously plan to return to some kind of controlled pattern, I need to break away cold turkey for a limited time.

I actually had to think a little about how I would spend the spare time this will give me in the coming week. But it didn’t take long for ideas to start coming. Why, with all that time…

I could be spending time with my family…

Re-learning some of Bach’s two-part inventions…

Trying out a new recipe

Digitizing some cassette tapes…

Working on unfinished music videos…

Clearing out my inbox…

Clearing out my hard-drive…

Cleaning my room…

Re-reading The Princess Bride…

Sky diving…

Rocky mountain climbing…

Going two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu…

Okay, so part of that wasn’t original. (Hint: It was the part that started with sky diving.) Anyway, I will still be handling and responding to your comments this week, so don’t worry about a comment of yours sitting around in moderation for seven days.

See you in a week! Here’s a parting gift: Have you always loved U2′s music but secretly thought the lyrics were pretentious and Bono’s voice insufferable? Well okay, so maybe there are only two of you who fit that description, but I know I do at any rate. Well, enter Trace Bundy and Sungha Jung. Thanks to fridaynightrevival, I discovered this glorious cover of “With or Without You” (arranged by Jacques Stotzem, whose original is also worth watching). No lyrics! No singing! Just juicy acoustic goodness. I can’t believe six people disliked this on Youtube. Six people are idiots.

And I did a little digging of my own and found this Trace Bundy solo cover of “Where the Streets Have No Name.” Understand that I’m clueless about all things acoustic guitar, but all I know is dude can play, and he’s got some WICKED cool bells and whistles to make it swell and delay and do all kinds of stuff. Bask in the radiance with me:

Boy am I glad U2 recorded those songs so that Trace Bundy could cover them twenty-five years later.

Yeah, go ahead and stone me. Like I care.

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4Shared Plug and Jesus is Holding My Hand Instrumental

Hitherto, I have made use of Rapidshare as the site I use to share audio and video. However, I’ve been getting e-mails that my files are not going to be stored permanently unless I pay money to upgrade to RapidPro. I have therefore decided to open a 4Shared account, whose only restriction is that I visit the account once every thirty days, otherwise the account will be deleted. That beats Rapidshare.

The first file I’ve uploaded is my piano arrangement of “Jesus is Holding My Hand,” which some of you downloaded from Rapidshare when I shared it in my review of Doug Anderson’s project. Now that it’s much easier to get access to, I thought I’d embed it right here in a player for those who haven’t heard it yet. Ignore the pointless shapes show. I never could figure out the purpose of that stuff. Minimize if necessary and enjoy:

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Advertisement and New Page: Copy Editing Services

Hey folks, I’m going to set up a new page here just for artists that offers my proof-reading services at a price to be determined for anyone who wants me to go through websites, lyrics, etc. and give corrections. This is something I’ve already been doing for free in a couple cases for a while, but since I wouldn’t mind a bit of extra money, I’ve decided to turn it into a paid service. All who are interested can contact me at the address given on my contact page.

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New Page: Old Reviews Archive

I’ve added a new page where you can read/re-read my old reviews (published first on southerngospelblog). Projects reviewed include…

Signature Sound’s Cathedrals tribute (separate CD and DVD reviews)

Kevin Williams’s Acoustic Sunday

Wes Hampton’s A Man Like Me

The Booth Brothers’ Declaration

Signature Sound’s Influenced II

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New Theme?

I’m approaching the one-month mark for the blog, and already I’m having second thoughts about the theme I picked (Fleur De Lys). There are many things I like about it, but at the same time there are some things that annoy me. For example, people have already pointed out the tiny print, particularly in comment threads. I’ve also noticed that hyperlinks can be faint, which sort of removes the whole point of a hyperlink, which is to be noticed!

However, what’s most important is what the readers want. So coming into the weekend, I thought I’d solicit opinions from you guys:  What do you think? Would you prefer something more spacious and readable? Do you like it just the way it is? Do you not care one way or the other?

Update: Daniel Mount has suggested that instead of doing a poll, I just pick another theme I like and try it out for a weekend. So I’ve decided to give Pilcrow a test drive—See what y’all think.

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