SubscribeStar Saturday: Even More Graduation Day Wisdom

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Another graduation ceremony is upon us, signaling the end of the school year and the beginning of another summer vacation.  The grand cycle of the academic calendar continues, coming to a stately close after a hectic few months.

I never anticipated being asked to speak at graduation, and I long doubted I ever would.  I still have not—lest the last sentence come across as misleading—but after delivering the baccalaureate sermon this past Sunday, I suspect the odds of being asked to speak at commencement at some future date has increased, even if only slightly.  What was hovering at around 1% might be up to 5% right now, but I possess no special insights into the vagaries of my administrations hive mind.

Regardless, if I did get to speak before our graduating seniors, I’d offer up some of my dubious wisdom, such as it is.  The first time I wrote on this topic I offered mostly financial advice; last year, after experiencing the effects of The Age of The Virus, I revised my wisdom to include more spiritual concerns.

This year, my advice is a grab-bag of plainspoken wisdom—take it or leave it.

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Gig Day VII: TJC Spring Jam III

It’s time for another front porch concert!  This event—the TJC Spring Jam and Recital—will be the sixth Front Porch concert I’ve hosted (I think), and I’ve learned quite a bit from the others, including the last Spooktacular.

This year marks the third Spring Jam, which has become a popular event with my private music students.  These front porch concerts started out as a way for my buddy John and me to play gigs during The Age of The Virus, when nobody was open for live music.  I realized that if I wanted to play in front of a live audience, I’d have to circumvent the hysteria and become the venue and talent.

Gradually, the concept morphed from a self-indulgent concert into a recital for my private music students.  The Lord has really blessed me—far beyond what I deserve—with a large clientele of private music students (around twenty-two at the time of writing, working out in practice to anywhere from twenty-to-twenty-four lessons a week), so it made sense to offer a couple of recital opportunities a  year for them.

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TBT: Zelda Game & Watch

Last year I picked up a nifty little from Nintendo with both of the classic NES Legend of Zelda titles, as well as the Gameboy LoZ game.  I proceeded to spend a good chunk of the summer playing through and beating all of the games, and tried to avoid guides as much as possible in an attempt to replicate the feel of playing these games at the time of their release.

At that time, you could only get tips from three sources:  an expensive 1-900 hotline (not a realistic option); friends on the schoolyard or at church; or Nintendo Power.  That last one was worth its weight in video gaming gold.

When it came time to play through Zelda II, I broke down and used a guide to navigate the final temple.  I remember my brothers painstakingly mapping it out on graph paper one summer, but there are limits to nostalgia.  The Internet exists for a reason.

I haven’t picked up the old ZG&W much since beating all the games, but it might be time to dive back into it.  With the newest Zelda game out on Switch, it’s a great time to revisit the classics.

With that, here is 31 May 2022’s “Zelda Game & Watch“:

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Open Mic Adventures XXXIII: “Spore Song (Mushroom Dance)”

I found myself with a rare bit of free time last Thursday, 18 May 2023.  It was Field Day at school that afternoon, and while the kids were frolicking in the rain (yep, it was raining steadily yesterday), I slipped inside for a few quiet moments.  I found myself at the piano and, staring down a blank sheet of manuscript paper in my music journal, I decided to compose.

While I didn’t name it right away, the result was “Spore Song (Mushroom Dance).”  I’d been wanting to compose a piece named “Spore Song” after reading Stacey C. Johnson‘s post “Spore Song” at her blog Breadcrumbs.

The more I listened to this airy, atmospheric piece, the more I realized that this was “Spore Song.”  Because it’s mostly in 3/4 time (with two brief measures in 4/4), I added the parenthetical title “Mushroom Dance.”

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Monday Morning Movie Review: The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023)

Those of us who were children in the early 1990s will remember Super Mario Bros. (1993).  It was the first time a video game had been adapted for film—ever, and, sure, WarGames (1983) was about playing a computer game, but Super Mario Bros. was the first time an actual video game IP had been made for the big screen—-and we were all super (no pun intended) excited to see our favorite 8-bit (well, 16-bit, by that point) heroes, Mario and Luigi, on film (note—there was a WarGames video game, but it was released in 1984 and was based on the film, not the other way around).  I was eight when the movie was released, so I was old enough to be aware of the hype surrounding the film.  The schoolyard was abuzz with anticipation.

Unfortunately, you probably know how the rest of the story goes:  it was an abysmal failure.  The film bore little resemblance to the 2D platformer we all loved, and while Dennis Hopper certainly makes for an intimidating antagonist, he bore little resemblance to Bowser (he was “King Koopa” in the film).  I remember watching the movie as a kid (we rented it) and being baffled by what was happening.  Why was everything so dark and dystopian?  It was a far too impressionistic endeavor to work as an adaptation of a beloved video game that captured the imagination of children.

The film was such a disaster, critically and financially, that Nintendo shied away from any more forays into cinema for thirty years.  Other than some cartoons on television, Nintendo did not go near Hollywood for three solid decades.

Now, when movie-going is struggling to revive itself after The Age of The Virus, Nintendo has reentered the ring with The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023), a film that may very well save Hollywood from its penchant for wokery and poor box office receipts.  More importantly, it’s the Mario Bros. movie we should have gotten thirty years ago.

Better late than never, eh, Nintendo?

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Lazy Sunday CCIII: Myersvision, Part V

After four retrospective installments of Myersvision, we’re finally getting into Audre Myers‘s pet (no pun intended) project:  Bigfoot.  Audre would never dream of keeping a Bigfoot as a pet—she has too much respect for the creatures—but she loves to scrutinize the myriad sources about him.

Brace yourself for more Bigfoot in the Lazy Sundays to come.  We’re through Audre’s looking glass here:

  • Myersvision: Iceman (1984)” – The non-cryptozoology piece this weekend, here is Audre’s review of 1984’s Iceman.  This film is a forgotten gem—or, perhaps, ice crystal.
  • Myersvision: My Very Large Friend” – No, Audre didn’t write this piece about yours portly.  It’s about Bigfoot, and about some of the sightings of the “big lug,” as I call him, around the world.
  • Myersvision: Project Bigfoot” – Audre breaks down a video containing multiple parts, giving her quick analysis and hot takes of each section.

Happy Sunday!


Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

SubscribeStar Saturday: Baccalaureate Service 2023

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The following is the written version of the speech/sermon I’ll be giving at my school’s baccalaureate service tomorrow, Sunday, 20 May 2023.  It pulls from the Scripture readings that students will make prior to my little sermonette, which are Proverbs 3:1-6, James 1:2-5, Psalm 20:1-5, Jeremiah 29:11, and Psalm 113.  I also include Matthew 11:28-30 and Psalm 20:6 (and probably allude to several other verses that I do not reference directly).

Good evening families, faculty, staff, and graduates of the Class of 2023. You have worked hard to be sitting here today, and in six days you will get to sit again for another ceremony, during which your mother will probably cry and you will hear a dozen or so senior videos with the Trace Adkin’s song “You’re Gonna Miss This” (and probably Bill Joel’s “Vienna”).

But to get where you are today took a great deal of effort and struggle. Sometimes it was your parents doing the struggling, or your teachers, but ultimately, you had to get the work done. Your reward for your efforts is to build upon the foundation you have laid, and while I encourage you all to get some much-deserved rest, your work is only beginning.

While you have learned a plethora of facts, and learned how to perform elaborate titrations in Chemistry, and learned how to dissect a work of literature or a piece of poetry, you have also learned how to live. In learning all of these other skills and facts and figures, you have, in the process, learned what matters in life. And here is the big hint: it isn’t how to perform elaborate titrations in a chemistry lab.

Our purpose in this life is to praise and glorify God in all of our endeavors. Psalm 113 is a model for us: “From the rising of the sun to its going down; The Lord’s name is to be praised.”

“From the rising of the sun to its going down.” That’s a lot! Not exactly an easy task, is it? We are to praise and glorify God in all of our endeavors? Well, yes. Fortunately, we have God to Help us.

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Phone it in Friday XXXVII: Heroes of Endor

LEGO has gone woke.  Actually, they’ve been woke for awhile, but they released an “A-Z of Awesome” of fan-built sets to push wacky gender ideology on their consumers.  A host of LEGO fans with alphabet soup “identities” built the sets (which I doubt will be made available as purchasable sets, because most of them are not that good or creative).

If child grooming among the LGBTQIA2+etc. community isn’t a thing, as our pedophilic elites insist (methinks too much), why are these queer activists pushing so hard to market “alternative lifestyles” to children?  In the past we could at least isolate this indoctrination to public schools.  Sure, a four-year old might see their teacher put a condom on a banana (it’s hyperbole, folks, to prove a point), but they weren’t going home and building the “4K Sex Ed Classroom” LEGO playset.

Nothing, it seems, is sacred, even my beloved LEGOs.

Now, some might say, “Tyler, you’ve gotsta stop feeding the beast.”  Honestly, the sheer expense of LEGOs—which have embraced inflationary pricing and jacked up the prices on their sets even further—is probably the bigger reason to scale back the hobby.  I can avoid a great deal of the LGBTQIA2+etc. foolishness, at least for now.

Honestly, though, I’m just a hypocrite.  What can I say?  I like LEGOs.  If I avoided every product from every company engaged in civilizationally self-destructive behavior, I’d be living an ascetic life without Internet access.  Naturally, there’s some happy middle ground between those two extremes, but as much as I abhor their policies, I can’t resist the the sweet, sweet hit of those little plastic bricks.

Which brings me to the real point of today’s post:  I had the pleasure of building the LEGO set Battle of Endor Heroes (40623) in their popular Brickheadz series.  It MSRPs at around $40, which is typical for a Brickheadz set, which charges around $10 per figurine, or $15 or a regular-sized figurine and a half-size one.  This set consists of three full-size figurines from Return of the Jedi (1983)—Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Lando Calrissian—and two half-sized ones—R2-D2 and Wicket, the feisty Ewok.

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TBT^2: Disincentives to Work

The Great Resignation rolls on, with an ever-shrinking number of competent people shouldering an ever-growing load of the work to be done.  If you’ve noticed that everything seems a little less generous or efficient than it used to be, it’s because fewer and fewer people are willing to work for abysmal wages, long hours, and dehumanizing treatment.

What I can’t figure out is why employers have not woken up to the reality of this situation:  if you’re facing massive labor shortages, the only solution is to offer more money and/or benefits to employees.  Granted, some employers have caught on, and are offering higher hourly wages and more flexibility.  I also recognize that some employers, especially smaller companies, simply can’t afford to pay more than they already are.

Still, I can’t help but notice employers are obstinately trying to get one over on their few remaining employees, trapped in thickets of corporate bureaucracy and New Speak that refuses to acknowledge the shifting tides of the labor market.  Often their stringent leave policies stay on the books but go unenforced.

For example, a friend of mine works at a big box hardware store in a tony suburb of Charleston, South Carolina.  She informs me that the store’s policy is that missing work without notice twice is grounds for immediate dismissal, but the policy is no longer enforced because the story is already so short-staffed, they can’t afford to fire employees for playing hooky.

The problem is that the employees who do show up to work bear the strain of their absent colleagues, and the corporate management shrugs its shoulders.

It may be that we’re entering a phase where large retailers and other companies will simply have to stop providing all services to all people.  My same friend told me how the store stays open until 10 PM, but there are virtually no employees at that hour.  I suspect the thinking is, “we have to be accessible to customers for as long possible; if we don’t our competitors will.”  Yet the same store doesn’t open up its pro contractor’s desk on Saturdays or after 5 PM on weekdays, so that doesn’t necessarily track.

Large companies aren’t exactly known for their logical consistency, but it seems that many workers are getting fed up with the lack of it.  Of course, employees aren’t off the hook, either:  we have all encountered plenty of braindead or discourteous store employees that turn shopping for a wing nut into a baffling ordeal.

Regardless, our attitudes about work are certainly changing, in some ways for the better, in some ways for the worse.  It’s probably good that we’re not ceaseless strivers competing against Bill from Accounting for The Big Promotion.  But we need to reiterate the idea that work is ennobling for its own sake—and hiring managers and their ilk need to treat their employees as human beings.

With that, here is 26 May 2022’s “TBT: Disincentives to Work“:

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