Thursday, May 19, 2016

Didn't Make the Cut

In the late 90s, I put a lot of thought into ranking my favorite songs. I used to carry around a little notebook and as songs came to my mind, I would write them down. I probably gathered well over 200 songs. I decided to try to cut it down to 150 and then rank them from 1 to 150. I will have to admit, that it was not an exact ranking, but I’d say that numbers 11-150 fell into the category of  “second ten” for 11 to 20; “third ten” for 21 to 30 and so on. I tried to put the final ten in order as best as I could.

There were a few quirky rules. If this were really a list of my top 150 songs there would be a lot of Beatles, U2, Radiohead, Wilco, etc. So I made a rule, only one song per artist could make the list. Therefore, only one Beatles’ song, one U2…There was an exception for work done as a solo artist. Paul McCartney makes the list as a Beatle and as a solo artist (same with Sting). But McCartney does not get a Wings exception.

I began to put together this list with copying songs off of the cassettes and CDs I had (and recording the occasional song from a CD checked out from the library). But in the early 2000s, the advent of P2P sharing made copying these songs for carrying around much easier. I found the remaining songs I didn’t have and then burned about 10 CDs to carry around.

So much music has come along in the last 15 years or so. I have been thinking about doing this for a couple of years and I finally found some time to spend thinking about this and re-ranking the songs. This was much easier this time around; I had already done the hard work of slogging through my music memory files, weeding out 30 years of music memories. Now I had to account for the past 15 years.

This isn’t a perfect list. I basically went through my iTunes songs and pulled all of the songs aside that I thought could make the cut (and I looked through a couple of the Spotify playlists I had created). I came up with almost 200 songs. Then I eliminated the extras to get to 150. And I probably changed a few of the original songs from their original artists as well.
I’m going to post the songs that were originally chosen as potentially worthy but didn’t make the cut to 150. These will be in semi-alphabetical order.

The Alarm – Rain in the Summertime: reminds me of my waning days of living in St Louis, my old softball buddies, “The Fugitives” and Andy Crews, who I probably borrowed this CD for longer than I should have.
Blur – Parklife: I missed Blur during the Britpop explosion in the mid-90s. I saw a documentary on Britpop and this song kept coming in and out of the break. Stayed with me for a few days.
David Sanborn – Bum’s Cathedral: this is a throwback to my college disk jockey days at SLU. We played what we wanted. I went through a late 80s fusion period. Sanborn is a fellow St Louis native.
Dee-Lite – Groove Is in the Heart: I have always been a fan of a funk groove, and Bootsy Collins provided it here.
Erykah Badu – Time’s A-Wastin’: I’m a sucker for the electric piano, and this song has that intro.
Herb Alpert – Rise: Herb had a great run of instrumentals making the pop charts. This song is about seven minutes long. Reminds me of cold mornings getting a ride to school.
Hole – Doll Parts
The David Crowder Band – Open Skies
The Housemartins – Happy Hour: Mike Nash had a friend living with him for a while named Dave Gudermuth. Dave was a great source for finding new music. I remember Mike and Dave being captivated by the MTV “Hip Clip of the Week”. I was captivated soon after.
Nicola Conte – Bossa Per Due: I recently went through a bossa nova phase on Pandora. I still am in that phase. This song comes up from time to time. I bought it.
Robert Cray – These Things: another CD I borrowed from Andy. Was on the previous list. A few songs dropped out all together. This one just missed.
Robbie Robertson – Sweet Fire of Love: me and the softball buddies (mainly Pete Vogel and I) were fascinated by another song on this CD (Somewhere Down the Crazy River). But this song is better, features U2.
Rose Royce – Car Wash: if you grew up in the 70s, you still know the clapping in this song. I would clap it while playing the infield in Little League games.
The Rutles – Goosestep Mama: this came very close to making the Top 150. The Rutles are a fake band created by Eric Idle for a fake documentary spoofing The Beatles. I couldn’t put a fake group in the Top 150. (“You’ve got nothing to “ein, swei, drei fear…”)
Sammy Davis Jr. – The Candy Man: I have performed this song live…twice!
Shawn Colvin – Get Out of This House: another song that dropped off the Top 150. This song was big while 93.3 The Zone in DFW was my station of choice. Sunny Came Home was on this album but this song is better.
Stan Getz – Desafinado: I believe this song was written by Tom Jobim, who I can’t get enough of. I believe I have four of his songs in various forms on my lists.
The Staples Singers – Respect Yourself: Bruce Willis did a cover of this. This song is fun to sing along to.
Steven Curtis Chapman – I Will Not Go Quietly: maybe the biggest drop of all of the songs. I believe this was in the previous top 10. From “The Apostle” soundtrack.
Tears for Fears – Working Hour: this song was the hardest to drop. It may move into the Top 150 if I fell short of my original count. (It may take the place of number 150 as well).
Vince Guaraldi Trio – Christmas Time Is Here: I almost had another category for Christmas songs, but this brings back so many memories (and melancholia).
10,000 Maniacs – Like the Weather
Nicolette Larson – Lotta Love: great sax intro, reminds me of my radio alarm clock going off in 7th grade. It seemed like it played every morning.
Queen – Crazy Little Thing Called Love: shows the versatility of the band (and Freddie’s voice).
Foreigner – Urgent: during my freshman year of high school, Foreigner “4” was a huge album, with “Waiting for a Girl Like You” and “Jukebox Hero”.
Simple Minds – Don’t You Forget about Me: from the Breakfast Club.
Kajagoogoo – Too Shy: it’s the opening bass line that grabs me and Limahl’s androgynous voice that make a great combination.

I'll try to have the Top 150 in various installments up within a week. I'm sure you can't wait.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016



What is your favorite verbal crutch? We all seem to have at least one, a crutch that helps us gather our thoughts or prepares our conversation partners for what is to follow.

“Um…”, “uh…”, “like…”, “you know…” These are some of the most popular verbal pauses. “Um…” is the preferred crutch of NBA owner Mark Cuban (but it sounds much classier as it sets up Terry Gross’ next question on “Fresh Air). If you want to do a proper JFK impersonation, you have to employ the “Er…uh…” combo (or at least a decent Mayor Quimby).

“You know…” is semi-understandable. It is probably short for “Do you know what I mean?” It is almost like an insecure person wanting to know if you are following along with what they are saying…you know? I used to listen to a sports talk show in Dallas where they would take sound bites of athletes and count the “you knows…” then they would divide that number by the length of the sound bite. There would be extra points awarded for the double “you know…” and the elusive triple. However, I notice that “you know…” is rapidly being replaced in some circles with the one word “nowhatimsayin”.

“Like” may be my most frustrating crutch to listen to. “I was all like…and then she was like…” In most cases it becomes the replacement for “I said…and then she said…” A lot of the time it serves no purpose. “Then my dad went, like, crazy after I told him about the car.”

A few years ago, I noticed a verbal pause I never noticed before, even though I’m sure I’ve used it hundreds of thousands of times: “well…” I should probably capitalize it because it almost always comes at the beginning of a sentence or a train of thought. “Well, if you want to know how to make good tamales…” “Well, I think it is about time for me to head home…” “Well” is typically used as a noun to signify, among other things, a deep pit in the earth used to reach a supply of water (or other things like oil). “Well” is also an adverb that is used to define an action done in a good, proper or successful way. (It is often improperly replaced by the adjective “good” but that’s another lesson).

How did we begin using this as a verbal crutch that begins our train of thought? I’ve even seen it in writing. It first came to my attention while reading Tony LaRussa’s memoir, One Last Strike. This book was even co-written by Baseball Hall of Fame journalist, Rick Hummel. In several places, TLR begins to explain his reasoning behind a decision by starting with, “Well…” Why wouldn’t you edit that out? What purpose does it serve (other than perhaps to convey the sense that LaRussa is having a conversation with you). I read a blog post by an academic who started a thought with, “Well…” I’ve even received text messages that began with “Well…”

I have become self-conscious about my use of “well”. But I still catch myself starting a discussion with it. Where did this come from? What are we trying to convey? As someone who had to write a lot over my academic career, I try to eliminate unnecessary words.

Where did this come from? Is there a “well”, so to speak, from which this all sprang? It is my goal to help you think this through, to think “well” on this subject. Perhaps it could be the beginning of a movement to eliminate one unnecessary verbal crutch. If we could do that, it would be s’well.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Fresh Air, Mark Ronson, Amy Winehouse and the Dap Kings

When I’m in a slump when it comes to writing, I always revert to writing about music. I envy people like my friend Aarik who gets to write about music for his job as an arts reporter for the Columbia Tribune. Some music thoughts struck me today and I wanted to get them down. It is funny how much of my original thoughts were lost because I didn’t originally write them down. But here’s an attempt to give you a picture of my thinking about music.

Today, I was doing what I do when I’m taking down the Christmas decorations around the house: I was getting caught up on Fresh Air podcasts. I was listening to Terry’s interview with record producer Mark Ronson. They spent a bit of time talking about Amy Winehouse’s album, "Back to Black", which Mark produced a number of the tracks. I was reflecting on that album and how many of the tracks I really loved. It had a real 60s, R&B feel. And I’m a sucker for a retro R&B sound. (That probably stems from my mom playing Al Green and Motown records when I was a kid). What really makes the record stand out for me (besides Amy’s voice and lyrics) is the back up band, The Dap Kings. I enjoyed hearing Ronson give so much credit to them for shaping the sound. I love the Dap Kings’ sound. I have many tracks by them backing Sharon Jones. (I regret missing them when they were in Columbia a few years ago, but I learned she was also on the verge of a cancer diagnosis, and it wasn’t the best performance, understandably).

I will give anything the Dap Kings play on a listen and, more often than not, I will enjoy it. There are some cool tracks on the Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings holiday album. I’ll call it “holiday” because the best song on the album is a Hanukkah song.

A final thought on Ronson, he produced the song “Uptown Funk” featuring Bruno Mars. You can hear the R&B/Funk  influence. Some may even call it a rip off. I hear “Jungle Love” by the Time, “Groove Line” by Heatwave, and another song I can’t remember by The Gap Band. I loved all of those songs, so I will give Ronson a break, but in the days of “Blurred Lines” lawsuits, I don’t know if the original artists will give him the same benefit of doubt.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A New Price! - Scenes of the Kingdom

I wrote a book! So many books and communicators talk about the kingdom of God but at times it can be a very ambiguous concept without much anchoring in the gospels. That is why I wrote Scenes of the Kingdom.

Scenes of the Kingdom is a book that provides background on the kingdom of God. It examines the royal titles used in the gospels to describe Jesus. It also looks at several of the passages where Jesus talks about the kingdom.

I have had the opportunity to teach in a variety of settings around the world in the past several years. I have also taken my campus community on mission to Argentina. Sometimes these trips are supported, other times I have to raise support for my travel. I am publishing this book for the purpose of having funds available when these opportunities arise. One hundred percent of the proceeds from this book will go into future travels where I am teaching or traveling with Missio Dei or the Missouri Baptist Convention. Any money that I do not use for these purposes will go into the general ministry fund of Missio Dei.

I am offering this book in two forms. You can purchase a physical copy of the book or you can choose an e-book. For the e-book, you can choose .pdf, .epub or .mobi format for the e-reader of your choice.

If you would like to order online, please visit this site:
Order Online

I will mail you a copy of your book through the USPS or email the e-book file.
The paperback book is $10.00 (plus shipping). The e-book is $7.00 (it will read $4.00 plus $3.00 for shipping).
If you would like to pay by check, please make your check out to Stonebridge Community Church (they are the overseers of our campus community) and send it to
Bill Victor
4521 Kentsfield Ln. #208
Columbia, MO 65201

Of course, you can buy it off of me personally as well. I'll bring it to you if I'm making a trip near where you are going to be.

Here is the Table of Contents:


 1. Why Study the Kingdom of God?                           

 2. Royal Titles for King Jesus                                               

 3. The Kingdom of God is about Repentance        

 4. How to Enter the Kingdom                                  

 5. Jesus’ Message of the Kingdom                          

 6. The Kingdom Is Displayed in Power                    

 7. Least versus Greatest in the Kingdom                 

 8. The Kingdom of God is Like…A Man Who
     Sowed Good Seed in His Field                            

 9. With the Kingdom Comes…Persecution?           

10. The Kingdom of God Starts Small                     

11. Implications for Churches Today                                   

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Is That the Kingdom of God?

I was listening to a retired pastor speak about an NGO he started. He began his discussion by asking his audience, "If an alien came to earth and asked you, 'What is the kingdom of God?' what would you say?" I was thinking through my answer when he gave me the "correct" answer. It was a version of an answer that I think many people would have given. He gave us the address of his NGO (non-profit business that serves the needy in third world countries). His organization was what the kingdom of God was all about. As he described what his organization did, I thought it was great. It did a lot of great things. There seemed to be kingdom people working on this project seeking to do good things to serve humanity. But it was not the kingdom of God. As he described the people who worked there, he bragged that there were Methodists, Baptists, Catholics, a Muslim and even a "devout" atheist who worked there. Again, it sounded great. But it wasn't the kingdom.
Here is my point (and it may be controversial with some), unless involves repentance and being born from above (implying allegiance to King Jesus), the organization is not the kingdom of God. By its nature and description, bringing people under the allegiance of King Jesus (which implies transforming communities as precursors of new creation) is the kingdom of God. Not merely doing good works.
(By the way, my writing project on the Kingdom of God is almost edited and proofread. I am looking to sell it to raise money for mission project/sabbatical leave. If you are interested, I'll be posting information on how to buy it soon.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Top Ten Books

Bri Suitt challenged others and me to compose a list of my top ten or most influential books. I thought about it for a couple of hours, looked at my book cases and came up with this list. It is not in any order and I know I've probably left some books out, but these are all books I have either read more than once or would easily read again.

Surprised by Joy by N. T. Wright – this is the best book on resurrection, Jesus’ resurrection and the resurrection of the believer. Wright provides a biblical view of the afterlife (and the life after the afterlife). Wright writes of the New Creation that is awaiting believers here on earth. In light of that new creation, Wright challenges and inspires believers to be on mission to give the world a taste of that new creation here and now.

One.Life by Scot McKnight – I’m not a fan of the title (the period in between the words in the title) but this is one of the best popular works on discipleship. (I found it more “biblical” than David Platt’s Radical).

Rise of Christianity by Rodney Stark – Stark is a sociologist (a Christian one). In this book, he examines how Christianity spread over the first three centuries after the resurrection of Jesus. It inspired me to think that Christianity could do the same thing today.

Soul Tsunami by Leonard Sweet – read this book in the late 90s early 00s. Sweet gave me insight into the world of postmodernism and how it intersected with pop culture and how it could be a positive thing for the church.

October 1964 by David Halberstam – Halberstam examines the cultural changes of the mid-60s and sees similarities in the World Series participants of that year: the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Yankees. The Yankees were coming to the end of a long period of dominance and were representing traditional/conventional values. The Cardinals had overcome a rocky beginning of the breaking of the racial barrier in baseball to representing a changing, multi-cultural, younger generation.

Sherman: Fighting Prophet by Lloyd Lewis – I went through a Civil War phase in the 90s. I was fascinated by this prominent figure of the War and his views on warfare and how to win.

The Mission of God’s People by Christopher Wright – Wright examines the grand narrative of the Bible and shows how God’s plan of redemption, beginning with Abraham, was about drawing a people to himself, teaching them how to relate to a holy God so that they, in turn, could model this life to all of the nations. He doesn’t skip the Old Testament in his discussion of the grand narrative that so many others want to do (i.e. Creation-Fall-Redemption [straight to the Cross after Genesis 3]-New Creation).

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara – a historical novel with the setting of the Battle of Gettysburg. Vivid portrait of the war with much of the perspective from Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.

Bold as Love by Bob Roberts, Jr. – this book shows how Christians should engage the world around them, including befriending those who believe differently than we do. Bob loves interacting with people of many faiths but does so without compromising Jesus.

Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller – this book is based loosely on Miller and director of Blue Like Jazz trying to reedit the book into a narrative (I wish they would have done a better job on the movie). In the process of trying to edit his essays in Blue Like Jazz into a story, Miller is inspired to craft a better story of his life here and now. In the process, he inspires his readers to write better stories of their lives.