2010-08-25: Tweet Beat

  • I'm at Gulleden Park (1500 Gulleden Rd, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/94Ic3r #
  • I'm at Jaycee Park (1600 Burnhamthorpe Rd E, Havenwood Dr, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/d1Lfc4 #
  • I'm at Havenwood Playground (3600 Havenwood Dr, Gulleden Dr, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/d2oFSF #
  • Dear Cuse & Lindelof, Regarding a LOST sequel, I have this to say: "We have to go back!" That is all. #
  • Gluten-free meatball? DONE. #
  • Wow, Tab Candy is cool. Reminds me strongly of Gnome Shell. #
  • Can't sleep, again. #
  • On page 5 of 400 of The Great American Novel, by Philip Roth http://bit.ly/bPLj7N #
  • I'm at The Worst Apartment Ever (3480 Havenwood Dr, at Williamsport Dr, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/cuUtwM #
  • I'm at Tim Hortons (On The Run) (4011 Dixie Rd, at Burnhamthorpe Rd E, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/aL9yR9 #
  • I just ousted @jaylixporter as the mayor of Tim Hortons (On The Run) on @foursquare! http://4sq.com/aL9yR9 #
  • I'm at De Boer Tool (336 Watline Ave, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/93lZW0 #
  • I'm so freaking tired. #
  • And Tab Candy IS really cool, still. I just hope sharing/unloading starts soon. #
  • No-one makes pricing levels like this. No-one. For good reason. Completely unmanageable. #
  • Here's what I don't get: Why are the titles for Tab Candy pages at the bottom of each page where web convention has always been on top? #
  • What a bunch of incompetent jackholes. #
  • Is it really almost lunchtime already? #
  • I'm having a hard time thinking straight today. #
  • It's strange when you see a childhood friend holding a baby. In my memory all these people are asexual. #
  • I'm hearing the word "Mockingjay" a lot today. I think maybe I should know what that is. #
  • With Tab Candy it's actually easier to hit ctrl + spacebar 7 select the tab I want from there than mousing up to the tab bar. #
  • Which makes me think… do I even need the tab bar anymore? #
  • That's called UPSELL. #
  • Why would anyone pay for what they can get for free? I just don't get it. #
  • I'm at Walmart Square One (100 City Centre Drive, Peel Regional Municipality). http://4sq.com/cVykji #
  • Walmart is staffed by retards! #
  • Bang! #
  • A night of bullshit with pastor bullshit you say? Let's go! #
  • I'm at Starbucks (189 Rathburn Rd W, in Chapters, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/8lW1by #
  • Last leg of the sbucks bday card. #
  • I'm at Gulleden Park (1500 Gulleden Rd, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/94Ic3r #
  • I'm at Jaycee Park (1600 Burnhamthorpe Rd E, Havenwood Dr, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/d1Lfc4 #
  • I'm at Havenwood Playground (3600 Havenwood Dr, Gulleden Dr, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/d2oFSF #
  • I'm at The Worst Apartment Ever (3480 Havenwood Dr, at Williamsport Dr, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/cuUtwM #

Too Hip

We really don’t get it.

When we waltzed into church with our electric guitars and drum kits, hoping to make the painfully dated music of the church cool, we didn’t understand what that would lead to. Where the pursuit of cool would go.

It’s like hippies railing that the culture had co-opted their subversive coolness. They didn’t realize that the counterculture was the culture, or at least became the culture.

So the church seized on “relevance” and “authenticity” and suddenly became uncool and inauthentic. The church counterculture became the church culture, and we still don’t get what’s going on.

There’s no problem with updating the music of the church. That’s an ongoing process that’s been ongoing for as long as the church has been the church. The pursuit of coolness, of hipness, though, that’s new. And it’s not a good thing. The church youth movement with its fads and horribly imitative para-culture ends up looking like a stale translation of secular idea. Along the way we forgot that decking ourselves out in faux-clever t-shirts, eating Christ-flavoured mints, and listening to bad imitations of bad secular music isn’t the same as actually being a Christ follower.

The hippies became the yuppies as the culture at large gradually figured out how to make money off of youth and beauty counterculture. Now every clothing and shoe company in the world is trying to be subversive. And of course when everyone is subversive, no-one is. The culture doesn’t care how they make their money; if they can sell you something to make you feel hip or cool, they will. In any case there’s nothing to subvert because hippies defined themselves largely by what they bought. I’m sure Volkswagen thanks them for that.

In the same way, church counterculture is church culture. You define yourself by a certain style of music and a certain way of dressing, and people will sell you that stuff. People will sell you clothes and music and guitars and accessories with Jesus tacked on (if necessary). Just follow the money.

In the name of relevance, the church will embrace your fads and try to turn that into membership and numbers and whatever else they’re focusing on in the end. If you’re particularly jaded you might say, Just follow the money.

We’re repeating the same process in the church now that the culture at large is repeating over and over again. A new type of subversive church arises and become mainstream. The young and hip make a new church because the mainstream seems tacky. That new church becomes mainstream. Rinse, repeat.

There’s only one way out of this cycle, and the answer is the same for the church as it is for counterculture in general: Opt out. Don’t define yourself by the things you wear or listen to. Don’t chase cool. Don’t jump on or co-opt fads.

Instead try to create authentic community. (I even hesitate to use the word “authentic” here.) Which is hard, doesn’t depend on slogans, doesn’t need a certain kind of music, doesn’t fit well onto a t-shirt, and doesn’t support a cottage industry of moneylenders in the temple.

2010-08-24: Tweet Beat

  • Haleem is a pretty… interesting dish. #
  • The little guitar hits on the verses of "She" are perfect. Very earworm. #caedmonscall #
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIsQDHcHWbo I could listen to this guy talk all day about food. Love the accent! #
  • I'm at Canada Post Drop Box (3500 Havenwood Dr, Williamsport Dr, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/9Z07Rp #
  • I'm at Grant's Food Mart. http://4sq.com/aWfmpc #
  • I'm at The Worst Apartment Ever (3480 Havenwood Dr, at Williamsport Dr, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/cuUtwM #
  • Tomato & Cucumber salad? Made. Pasta salad? Almost done. #
  • I'm at De Boer Tool (336 Watline Ave, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/93lZW0 #
  • Try to get a nice Phone in Canada. Really. Try it. I dare you. #
  • Clients may not make more than 20 requests per hour? Wtf, Twitter. #
  • Checkin dem tawls. #
  • I still have "Family" by #caedmonscall stuck in my head. Still. #
  • Isn't it amazing how long bad feelings can last? Even the mention of a name calls them forward. #
  • Hey, how about the people with the money get to make the decision about where to buy the house? #
  • It's strange how your priorities change when it costs $100,000 more to live in a certain place. #
  • Alarm clock, tennis racquets, tennis balls, cheap food containers. #thingsineedtobuyatwalmart #
  • Best apple ever! #
  • Birthday sbucks card ftw. (@ Starbucks) http://4sq.com/4TVjUD #
  • Back to work. (@ De Boer Tool) http://4sq.com/93lZW0 #
  • "Who's my faaaaaaather" and what does he do? #caedmonscall #
  • Screw it, I'm just going to get an iPhone. #
  • Wait a sec, I can buy a used Nexus One for pretty cheap and then go with Wind Mobile FOR THE WIN. #
  • Dock is better than menu. Icons are easier to remember & find than program names. Humans are visual creatures. #
  • I wish I lived in the USA, Japan, or South Korea. Canada's wireless providers are shit, all. Usurious slingers of last decade's crap. #
  • Wow, Republicans are geniuses. Death panels, 9/11 mosques… is there any ridiculous strawman they won't knock down? #
  • I'm at Kim's Convenience (75 Watline Avenue, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/cqtOZI #
  • I just became the mayor of Kim's Convenience on @foursquare! http://4sq.com/cqtOZI #
  • Helium is a finite resource. #
  • I'm at De Boer Tool (336 Watline Ave, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/93lZW0 #
  • Why does the camera plug into a USB slot but not charge the batter therefrom? #
  • And, out of nowhere it's The Normals! On a Caedmon's Call disc! Oh wait, there's the percussion. I'm so confused! ("Hold the Light") #
  • I'm thinking some relentless self-promotion would do wonders for my spirit right now. #
  • I just became the mayor of Sunoco on @foursquare! http://4sq.com/966o9x #
  • I'm at Sunoco (5555 Kennedy Road, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/966o9x #
  • I'm at The Worst Apartment Ever (3480 Havenwood Dr, at Williamsport Dr, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/cuUtwM #

Gluten-free Meatball Recipe

If you’ve gone gluten-free, certain things can be a little bit more difficult to make. Anything that relies on gluten for elasticity, or for filling, or for thickening, will be either un-elastic, less filled, or less thick. There are always workarounds, of course; for meatballs I’ve found one of the best ways to add filler is to add rice. I mean “filler” in the best sense of the word, as 100% meatballs can be more than a little bit too much for most people. And remember, rice is cheaper than… everything.

So to begin you’re going to want to have some ingredients:

Meatball:
1 lb, lean ground beef
1/2 cup, uncooked rice
1/8 cup, potato flour
1/8 cup, rice flour
1/4 cup, onion, finely chopped
2 eggs
2 tsp, salt
1 tsp, pepper
2 tsp, garlic (optional)
2 tsp, chilli powder (optional)

Sauce:
1 big can, pasta sauce
1 big can, diced tomatoes

You’ll want to get all this stuff together before you start. Don’t be the person measuring stuff really quickly and spilling all over the kitchen because you didn’t measure it all out first. Make sure you chop the onion up nice and fine: You don’t want to chomp into a beautiful round meatball and come up with a nauseatingly large chunk of onion. Also, wash your rice. I don’t know why; no-one does. Just do it.

I’m going to be honest here: Doing this by hand is all fine and well for that authentic feeling, especially if you like kneading meet and feeling it squish out from between your fingers like the guts of some long-dead alien creature, but it’s way, way easier to just throw it all into a food processor and let the thing do it’s job. Start with the eggs, flour, and spices. Throw the meat on top of that, and the onions on top of that. Let fly.

Now at this point you’re going to be asking me some questions. For instance, why the extra egg? I know, I know, most recipes you find will only have one egg. In a meatball the egg basically functions as a binding agent, helping the ball of meat to be a ball of meat instead of a bunch of meat in a pan. It gives the meatball a bit of texture as well. In a Normal People recipe, you’ve got other agents to help do that, like maybe wheat flour or bread crumbs or something. These meatballs, on the other hand, need all the help they can get. Which leads me to: What’s with the sauce? Well, these meatballs have uncooked rice in them. They’re not the sort of meatballs that you throw in the oven. You’re going to need a saucepan. I suppose it’s theoretically possible to make them in an oven with pre-cooked rice, but I’ve never done that. You’re welcome to try.

Here comes the fun part: After your meatball mix is all ready to roll, you’ll want to crack open those cans of tomatoes and toss them into a saucepan. If you’re using super-lean ground beef, you’ll probably want to throw in a dash of olive oil if you have some handy. Season the sauce if you need to, but the meatballs are going to give it a really nice flavour even if you don’t. (This is where you can put a whole host of different spices, but I’d stick with the classics, like oregano, salt, pepper, and garlic, unless you’re really confident with your spices, or you don’t mind making a metric shit-tonne of meat that tastes like feet.)

You can also make your own sauce if you don’t want to use the stuff from a can, and you can chop your own tomatoes too, if you’re so masochistically inclined. In my head, I’m already making meatballs, so maybe you don’t ask me to make my own sauce and we all look the other way and pretend we didn’t notice the can and make jokes about how I, too, am thick and chunky.

Once you have the sauce in the saucepan (a type of pan literally made for sauce: it’s a glorious thing), let it heat up for maybe five minutes. Then start making your meatballs. You can make them any size you like, within the bounds of reason. Remember that you’ll typically want to eat meatballs that are cooked all the way through, and that eating meatballs which are not cooked all the way through is suspiciously close to eating parasites topped with poison, so don’t make them larger than a standard golf ball.

Roll them around in your palm a bit, don’t just form them into a vague ball shape. Maybe, if you have good eye/hand co-ordination, toss them from palm to palm. This convinces the unruly meatball to become a solid mass instead of a collection of ingredients.

Place the meatballs in the sauce. You’ll want to make sure they’ll pretty well covered, but it’s not technically necessary to drown them. Medium heat is the best for this sort of thing, as you don’t want to cook the shit out of the outside of the meatballs before the inside is anywhere close to done.

Stir occasionally. Be gentle at the beginning. Use non-stick cookware if you can; these things tend to grab on the bottom of a pan and not let go. Your stirring can become more vigorous as the meatballs firm up. Keep in mind that you’re simply trying to move the meatballs around the pan, not blend them into the sauce.

When you’re done some of the sauce will be absorbed into the meatballs, and some of the rice will probably be sticking through the skin of the meatballs. Not to worry. This is perfectly natural. Serve with a sprig of freshly pretentious cilantro and perhaps some gluten-free rice noodles if you fancy the carbs.

2010-08-23: Tweet Beat

  • I'm at The Worst Apartment Ever (3480 Havenwood Dr, at Williamsport Dr, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/cuUtwM #
  • I just became the mayor of De Boer Tool on @foursquare! http://4sq.com/93lZW0 #
  • I'm at De Boer Tool (336 Watline Ave, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/93lZW0 #
  • Well, we need that component running. But it's not. And it takes an hour to start up. #
  • "I think you're misunderstanding me." No, you massive dipweed, I'm not as stupid as you think everyone but yourself is. #
  • I have "Family" by Caedmon's Call stuck in my head right now. #caedmonscall #
  • I'm at 123 Computer Warehouse (253 Queen St, Brampton). http://4sq.com/aF0fPf #
  • "That broccoli's not out pattern!" #quotes #
  • Of all the social networks, email is still the best. #
  • Yes, I'm sure "California Gurls" was meant to hit right at the centre of the unfortunate American addiction to the Hegelian dialectic. #
  • http://www.kahvi.org/ – Some cool sonic stuff. #
  • No, that makeup doesn't make you look like a hooker. It makes you look like a hooker that caters exclusively to clowns. #
  • The web is badly designed from the ground up. That https isn't default boggles me. Most of us consider it an addon. Should be fundimental. #
  • This is how I do new music: I got "All Delighted People" and "Raising Up The Dead" on the same day. Spun ADP once. RutD is on perma-repeat. #
  • "Industry Leader in Quality Solutions"? Which industry? Solutions to what? I could come up with a better slogan in my sleep. #
  • Remember who your friends are. Remember who came with on your mundane trip the holy coast. #lyrics #
  • Hopefully if I use enough caps we'll get a reply. #
  • I'm at Casa Kolb (3014 Roncorn Row, at Edenwood Dr, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/bm6DM7 #
  • I'm at The Worst Apartment Ever (3480 Havenwood Dr, at Williamsport Dr, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/cuUtwM #
  • I'm at Gulleden Park (1500 Gulleden Rd, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/94Ic3r #
  • I'm at Burnhamthorpe Woods (1600 Burnhamthorpe Rd E, Havenwood Dr, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/d1Lfc4 #
  • I'm at Havenwood Playground (3600 Havenwood Dr, Gulleden Dr, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/d2oFSF #

2010-08-22: Tweet Beat

2010-08-21: Tweet Beat

  • I'm at Home Hardware (Peel Regional Municipality). http://4sq.com/b51nJL #
  • How come we keep getting more stuff? #
  • Ah, the ending of Auto-Tune The News # 12 is pretty funny. #
  • New Sufjan Stevens in FLAC format? Hells yes. I can always transcode the shit out of it later if I want. #
  • New Caedmon's Call album downloading as well. Bought and paid for. How odd. #
  • Ooh, I really like the sound of Sometime A Beggar. #caedmonscall #
  • I have a hard time liking Danielle songs, but "She" is fantastic in the way "Close of Autumn" was fantastic. #caedmonscall #
  • So far this record is really catchy. "Family" is a bit repetitive for my taste though. But still catch. I might forgive that. #caedmonscall #
  • Orchestra plucks on "Miss You"? NICE. #caedsmonscall #
  • The reverb on Cliff's voice on "God's Hometown" with the jazzy walkdown reminds me of something… I can't remember what. #caedmonscall #
  • "God's Hometown" doesn't sound like Caedmon's Call at all. Not even an approximation of it. I don't know if I like it. #caedmonscall #
  • "Come With Me" strongly reminds me of Long Line of Leavers. That's a very, very good thing. #caedmonscall #
  • "Streets of Gold" has a mention of Houston, and nice percussion. Now this is Caedmon's Call 🙂 Great song, too. #caedmonscall #
  • Could the beginning of "Time Inside Out" possibly sound any more like a Derek song opening? Gosh. #caedmonscall #
  • I miss some of the really poppy CC songs. "Lead of Love", "Hands of the Potter", "There You Go". This release seems… slower. #caedmonscall #
  • Dear Derek Webb, I want to marry your falsetto and have its tiny little castrato babies. Love, ddeboer #caedmonscall #
  • "I Need A Builder" builds well! The harmony works, and I love the amount of space given to the cymbals. #caedmonscall #
  • "David Waits" starts out with an absolutely sick organ. Love that. #caedmonscall #
  • A banjo on "David Waits"? Count me in! Also, again with the cymbals. Reminds me of "Reckoner" a bit. Love the key changes too. #caedmonscall #
  • "David Waits" might just the be the standout song on Raising Up The Dead. Unless something better comes along. LOVE it. #caedmonscall #
  • Good groove "Raising Up The Dead". Is that a record crackle I hear? Also, electronic elements not my favourite. #caedmonscall #
  • "Raising Up The Dead" sounds like it belongs on Stockholm Syndrome, not on its eponymous album. I dunno bout this one. #caedmonscall #
  • I mean, "Raising Up The Dead" isn't a bad song at all. I just… don't like it as much as the rest of the record. #caedmonscall #
  • One more song to go! Gosh, I wish Raising Up The Dead was longer. #caedmonscall #
  • "Free" starts off well. From the kick to the build, good stuff. #caedmonscall #
  • "Free" hits a nice climax. And then it goes into a really well-built harmony. The violins are maybe a bit much. #caedmonscall #
  • Okay, so the "Free, free, free, free" ongoing thing really hits a nice chord. I'd dance to that. #caedmonscall #
  • "Free" just doesn't want to end… and I don't want it to. Where's the 10-minute Phish-style acoustic jam? #caedmonscall #
  • Well, Raising Up The Dead is over. But I'm going to listen to it again! #caedmonscall #
  • Except "Lead of Love" just came on. Odd, the production on Raising Up The Dead reminds me a bit of the self-titled disc. #caedmonscall #
  • So, verdict on Raising Up The Dead? BUY IT. Don't walk. Run. There's no stinkers on this album. Which is amazing. #caedmonscall #
  • I can't remember the last CC album with no stinkers. 40 Acres maybe? Even LLoL & StW had one or two. #caedmonscall #
  • Oh by the way, if my tweets on RutD sounds harsher than BUY IT, it's because I have a hard time dishing out praise… 🙂 #caedmonscall #
  • Now, off to walk the dog. #
  • I'm at Gulleden Park (1500 Gulleden Rd, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/94Ic3r #
  • I just became the mayor of Gulleden Park on @foursquare! http://4sq.com/94Ic3r #
  • I'm at Burnhamthorpe Woods (1600 Burnhamthorpe Rd E, Havenwood Dr, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/d1Lfc4 #
  • I just unlocked the "Super User" badge on @foursquare! http://4sq.com/d5drwK #
  • I just unlocked the "Explorer" badge on @foursquare! http://4sq.com/b1H5BI #
  • I'm at Havenwood Playground (3600 Havenwood Dr, Gulleden Dr, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/d2oFSF #
  • I'm at The Worst Apartment Ever (3480 Havenwood Dr, at Williamsport Dr, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/cuUtwM #
  • If you want, take a playlist of Raising Up The Dead & Long Line Of Leavers and set it on random. Totally kick-ass mix. #caedmonscall #
  • Oh, I just noticed that percussion triplet at 3:33 of "Sometimes A Beggar". Mmmmmmmmm. Yummy. #caedmonscall #
  • More coffee! #
  • In case you jackasses missed it: http://bit.ly/c07I6y – Jars of Clay, A Retrospective // Go on, read some of my self-serving garbage. #
  • I'm at Square One Mall. http://4sq.com/dpNaa0 #
  • I'm at New York Fries (Square One Food Court, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/b9JEqG #
  • I love it when walmart people can't figure stupid shit out. #
  • I'm at Wal-Mart (100 City Centre Dr, Square One Shopping Centre, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/59FP1T #
  • I'm at Square One Leveled Parking (100 City Centre Drive, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/cLfxC3 #
  • I'm at bulk barn (Square one). http://4sq.com/9Flc6s #
  • I'm at Square One Men's Washrooms (Square One Mall, Peel Regional Municipality). http://4sq.com/b4FOWp #
  • Slow moving women! #
  • I'm at Havana Tobacco (100 City Centre Dr, Square One, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/bp9HqD #
  • http://twitpic.com/2gx14c – Dudes and their phones. #
  • Laura is buying a gift cert for the wedding of the brother who got us nothing for ours. We're good people. #
  • So yeah. I'm pretty much way more social online than in real life #
  • I'm at Aurora Meat and Cheese (3661 Dixie Rd., Mississauga). http://4sq.com/azTQL6 #
  • I've made some music! You can listen to it here: http://drop.io/ddeboer1 // It's the best thing I've ever made, listen to it at your peril. #
  • I'm at The Worst Apartment Ever (3480 Havenwood Dr, at Williamsport Dr, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/cuUtwM #

2010-08-20: Tweet Beat

2010-08-19: Tweet Beat

  • Grocery shopping. #
  • I just unlocked the "Crunked" badge on @foursquare! http://4sq.com/bXExdq #
  • Making gluten free pasta salad. #
  • I don't want to live on this planet anymore 🙁 #
  • I'm at Tim Hortons (On The Run) (4011 Dixie Rd, at Burnhamthorpe Rd E, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/aL9yR9 #
  • "(If you are not the person who is in charge of this, please forward to your CEO, as this is urgent, thank you.)"… I'm not stupid… #
  • I'm at De Boer Tool (336 Watline Ave, Missisauga). http://4sq.com/93lZW0 #
  • It's amazing how a person can manage to make "being concerned" into "being an insulting asshole". #
  • So yeah, Twitter is telling me I'm following 0 people and being followed by 0 people. Way to be shit, Twitter! #
  • I'm eating the best ever pasta salad. No joke. #
  • Storm is coming on. #
  • Could Jars of Clay possible make more albums? Gosh. #
  • "Small Rebellions" is very… I don't know. It's kind of depressing to know that the same people who created Much Afraid did this. #
  • I'm at Highland Farms (50 Matheson Blvd, Hurontario & Matheson, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/7mJQO5 #
  • I'm at De Boer Tool (336 Watline Ave, Missisauga). http://4sq.com/93lZW0 #
  • I'm at Kim's Convenience (Peel Regional Municipality). http://4sq.com/cqtOZI #
  • I'm at Sunoco (5555 Kennedy Road, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/966o9x #
  • I just unlocked the "Adventurer" badge on @foursquare! http://4sq.com/aMWkaj #
  • I just became the mayor of The Worst Apartment Ever on @foursquare! http://4sq.com/cuUtwM #
  • I'm at The Worst Apartment Ever (3480 Havenwood Dr, at Williamsport Dr, Mississauga). http://4sq.com/cuUtwM #
  • I'm at Gulleden Park (120 Gulleden Rd, Peel Regional Municipality). http://4sq.com/94Ic3r #
  • Walking the dog done. (@ The Worst Apartment Ever) http://4sq.com/cuUtwM #

Jars of Clay: A Retrospective

Jars of Clay was my introduction to good music. I was just coming out of the woods of Steve Green, Michael Card, & John Michael Talbot when Jars came along. I wasn’t impressed at first, of course, being the horrible little turd that I was, but a few years passed, I turned on their self-titled disc, and I was enchanted.

There’s something about your initiation into something. A different world of, say, adulthood, or a realm of things previously hidden. Jars of Clay made me think “wow, you can do that?” with music.

Since then, we’ve parted ways a bit. Where Jars of Clay has gone the way of accessible, Christian-friendly music, I’ve been plumbing the depths of the odd and unusual.

This would be where I used to nose the ceiling a bit, but let’s just admit there’s different kinds of music for different kinds of people. And that’s a good thing. Not everyone like Sufjan Stevens, and not everyone likes Kelly Clarkson. That’s just the way it is. I like music with adventure. That’s just who I am. My taste in music isn’t magically better than yours, but please don’t take it badly if I suggest a few diversions from the tried and true. Again, that’s just who I am.

This was were it all began. Strings boiling to the surface, fantastic grooves, obtuse or at least semi-opaque lyrics, and great tunes. The production here was obviously done on a shoestring, but none of the songs falter for it. Even its most celebrated child, Flood was an oddly monochromatic journey, an almost-minimalistic acoustic rock song unlike any I had heard before.

This album changed me. I don’t mean to be melodramatic. It really did. I still listen to this release, not simply for the nostalgia (listening to MWS’s “Change Your World” was built for that, I think), but also because it’s really, really great music.

There must have been so much pressure on the group after the phenomenal success of their debut. It must have been awful trying to make music under that much pressure. But they did.

I’ll admit, I didn’t like “Much Afraid” when it first came out. I listened to it but didn’t buy it. It seemed a radical departure from their sound (though I imagine they’d say their first album was the radical departure). It wasn’t, at least to me, very Jars of Clay. Real drums? Regular tunings? No strange lyrical and musical twists?

Years later, I’ve come back and looked “Much Afraid” in the face. I can see why they named it that. I can see how much time and effort they poured into the record trying to make it solid and original, and I like it for that. The standout songs–not the obvious radio hits–are far better than I remember them. Overjoyed in particular is a wonderful tribute to the craft of songwriting.

I’m sorry I didn’t get it for so long. I really am. But I’m glad I came back to this (and I have to thank Laura for that, mostly; she insisted on listening to it even when I didn’t feel like it), and as time has worn on “Much Afraid” has gotten better and better.

I think every band has this record. They’re sick of the grind, they’re sick of the pressure, and they bring in a well-known producer to make a different sort of album. Of course, I hadn’t exactly had enough time to get used to any particular Jars of Clay sound, so they didn’t really have a left field for me. Then “If I Left The Zoo” came out of, and defined, their left field.

I get it. I do. You want to throw a curve ball. Some of the best music I’ve heard (“Kid A”, anyone?) comes out of left field. But for me, this records felt, and still feels, over-produced. As if they’re trying to hard to be different and original and weird and quirky. I don’t like it. I really tried to like it when I first bought the record, but this is one record that really, really didn’t improve with repeated listens. And now, staring down the barrel of history, it hasn’t improved with time, either.

I realize I’m not supposed to like this album. It’s straight-up radio-friendly pop. There’s nothing challenging about it. It’s smooth like wine from a box is smooth. And yet I love it.

Don’t confuse me with a hipster, here. I don’t like it because I’m not supposed to like it. I like it in spite of that. Maybe it was what I was going through at the time, but a lot of these songs hit a chord of unrequited love and longing. The songs still bring me back to that place, to a shadow of those feelings.

And that’s the ball game. If a song can make you feel without feeling manipulated, it’s good. It’s really that simple. (Of course, not all music is built to make you feel. Steve Reich can pretty much fill up that corner of the room by himself. But feelings are a really, really great shortcut to the logic of living.)

Furthermore is how Jars of Clay does a retrospective. It’s really cool. I love it when bands release two, three, even four versions of a song. I love to examine a piece of music from all angles, like a well-designed automobile or an elegant woman. Getting these stripped-down versions of classic Jars of Clay songs was a fitting gift for the band’s fans, I think. And most of them worked very well, except for the songs from “Eleventh Hour”, which sounded pretty much the same.

If I could ask for one thing, I’d be that every band’s retrospective delivers like “Furthermore” did.

And I guess this is how Jars of Clay does a worship album. I’m sure this bad boy was stipulated in their contract somewhere. There’s a lot of faint praise to be had for this album. If I say it stands head and shoulders above other albums in its genre, that’s hardly a compliment.

It’s solid, I guess. Some of the hymns sound awkward being shoe-horned into modern tunes. Also, it’s hymns, right? I don’t listen to Jars of Clay to hear somebody else’s songs.

I’m probably not alone in having a hard time figuring out what this album is supposed to be. There doesn’t seem to be a grand thread holding it together. More than anything, it feels like a collection of songs someone happened to have lying around, and a lap steel & slide someone else had just learned to play.

Not to say there aren’t any great songs on here. There are plenty. A couple stinkers, but a lot of really great music. I’m hoping that “Who We Are Instead” improves with age like “Much Afraid” did. I really do want to come back to this a few years down the road and appreciate it more then than I do now.

Ah, “Good Monsters”. How I hate you.

This is where Jars of Clay and I really parted company. I can’t stand the sound of this record. It completely turned me off of Jars of Clay. I hate to say it, but it’s true: This album is the point where I went from being a peripheral fan to not being a fan at all.

More uncharted territory for the band, yes. But not all uncharted territory is good territory. Nothing about this record plays to the band’s strengths.

I listened to it a few times, pained, and I’ve never gone back.

When Derek Webb released “Stockholm Syndrome”, I wasn’t sure what to think. How could someone seemingly so deep in the countryside of acoustic music ever release an essentially electronic album? Of course, Derek always finds ways to surprise (and sometimes shock). It worked for him.

It kind of worked for Jars of Clay. Where they lean on electronica heavily, the album succeeds. Where they drift back into saccharine adult contemporary pop, it doesn’t.

I really need to listen to this album again. Maybe even a few times, just to get a grip on what they’ve done and what they’ve tried to. But you know what? I’m not terribly driven to do it.

It’s not that I’ve gone somewhere odd. I still like the same sort of music I always did. Caedmon’s Call still manages to crank out great albums after all these years, albums that play to their strengths. I haven’t started to look down on anything that isn’t semi-ambient metal drone.

Honestly, I don’t think it’s me. I think it’s Jars of Clay. I think they’ve taken the inventiveness of their earlier music and traded it in for a sort of comfortable living deep in the sleepy hills of the Shire. (Third wall: I almost typed “shite” there.) While the rest of the music world is doing things and going places, they’re just sort of meandering along, making smooth song after smooth song.

If this depresses you, you’re not alone. It’s been a long time now; I’d love to plead with Jars of Clay to see the art in themselves.