Monday, February 01, 2016

My Son the Eagle Scout

Obviously, like any parent should be, I'm proud of my son. Last year was a big year for him in scouting; he began planning and working on his Eagle project early in the year and had his Eagle Ceremony in December.  

Samuel planned every moment of the ceremony, with the only exception of what I wanted to say, and my introduction of him.  Here's what I had to say (with some minor edits to make it work for a weblog).

I remember reading Boys’ Life Magazine when I was a Cub Scout.  I would read those articles about older boys that did great things, and about boys that became Eagle Scouts.  I knew, even at a young age, that I could never do those things.  I could barely swim.  I couldn’t remember any knots or what they were for (still can’t).  I’m not sure where my focus was then, but if we could draw a Venn diagram of my interests I’m pretty confident scouting would have been on a separate sheet of paper.

Even still, I often thought of those boys in the magazine.  I didn’t know them, but I knew they were special.  Even now, I think of those boys from time to time and wonder what became of them.  They were real life heroes - not like heroes on television or in a comic book, but honest to goodness real life heroes that did good things and helped other people.

I remember going to a scouting event once where there were other packs and troops.  I saw boys in American Indian regalia, and I remember thinking it was awesome - and maybe just a bit scary.  I was impressed (or perhaps intimidated).  Those boys seemed really special in my young eyes. 

Now here we are - forty some odd years later.  I read Boys’ Life online these days.  I still see stories of boys achieving things which I could barely even dream.  Those boys are still heroes - real heroes doing good things.

I still admire, what I’ve since learned is, the Order of the Arrow - a Brotherhood of Cheerful Service.  These boys are truly the best of the best.  Someone said recently - describing these boys that they were like “Maverick and Goose” from the movie Top Gun.  I’d say that’s a pretty good analogy.  

As his dad, it’s my wish that he’ll always, on his honor, do his best to do his duty to God and his country and to obey the scout law; to help other people at all times; and to keep himself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

Samuel Pankey is: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. 

Never once did we have the conversation about “sticking with it”.  His desire to be in scouting has been obvious since he was a Tiger.  He wanted this.  His mom and I did everything we could to make sure he had this opportunity.  We might have nudged him a bit here and there, but the work he did was his own - it had to be that way.  We wanted him to be able to look back and see what he could accomplish.  We wanted him to be able to say “I earned this.” 

My son, an Eagle Scout - a real life hero doing good things.   

Saturday, January 09, 2016

7 ways to be WEIRD - Review

It's time for another review.  Today's choice? That's simple: 7 ways to be WEIRD by Rushad Eggleston.

I first heard the name Rushad Eggleston when I learned of a group called Crooked Still back in 2004, when I bought their Hop High album.  I was immediately impressed with the cello work on that project and genuinely enjoyed the energy and excitement.  That album also introduced me to Aoife O'Donovan and Greg Liszt - but that's a story for another time. 

Fast forward a dozen years and I thought, "Hey, reckon what happened to Rushad Eggleston?" So I poked his name in Facebook and found his artist page.  There were videos - a lot of videos.  I began to watch.  Captivated is a good word to describe how I felt.  I giggled a lot.  I know I smiled a lot, because my face began to hurt after a bit.  After I felt like I was caught up on videos, I'd make a pass by Rushad's Facebook page daily, just to see if there was anything new - there usually was.

Now, I'm guessing some of you have made your way to his page by this point and are either smiling, completely confused, or both.  That's good.  See, music doesn't have to fit in a nice tidy little box with all of you preconceived notions of what "good music" is supposed to be.  Nope.  There's a bit of chaos, musicianship and creativity that blends in those videos that keeps me glued to screen until it's over and compels me to hit the button to get to the next one.

A couple of days ago Rushad posted a link to his bandcamp page. Wait, he's got recorded music for me to download? Why hadn't I already looked for this? I must be slipping!

I decided to go ahead and make a purchase. Okay, I got everything he had there, but I won't review it all. The newest work was 7 ways to be WEIRD. It's a short "album".  It's seven songs in nine minutes.  You read that right; it's short.  Short isn't a bad thing; sometimes the chaos is better in small doses - especially if you're new to it.  Furthermore, you can set your own price that you feel comfortable paying, and you even get to sample the project in its entirety.  You really can't lose.

I spent the afternoon running errands with 7 ways to be WEIRD playing on my car stereo. I played it loud.  I know it was good, because when other people heard it they would smile, or maybe they were smiling because I was smiling.  Either way, there was a lot of smiling going on. I'm sitting here listening as I write and I'm still smiling at 2:40am.

In his own notes he said he "tried to not care, to be free, to have fun..." I've no way to know for sure if he did those things to his satisfaction, but from my perspective he did - and quite amazingly so. He also says "play it for your kids, i bet they'll understand".  I played it for my fifteen year old kid and he totally got it. I was glad.

If you're ready for "something completely different" this might just be what you're needing. At only nine minutes you won't be overwhelmed. It might just be your ticket to musical fun. Go visit Rushad's bandcamp page and buy something.  Oh, go on; you know you want to.