Tuesday, March 28, 2006

My Beliefs Are Wasted on You

One of my favorite lines from the Pinky and the Brain cartoon was "My humor is wasted on you, Pinky." Well, tonight the Christian world just got the snub from the American Idol judges panel.

Mandisa, the contestant who professed her belief in Jesus when forgiving Simon for his ugly comment about her weight, busted it out tonight. For those of us who know Mandisa from her "day job", we know she sings with Travis Cottrell, the praise team leader for Beth Moore conferences and other Lifeway functions. Anyone who has seen her in action knows her signature song is "Wanna Praise You" or better known to her fans as the Shackles song - originally recorded by Mary Mary. I'll never forget the last time I saw her sing it live. Of course, I didn't know she was "Mandisa" but I knew she was awesome. Travis and his team led a concert at a Lifeway Women's Conference I attended. When they sang that song, with Mandisa singing lead, you saw about 500 women dancing in the aisles. A bit edgy for a group of Southern Baptists.

As soon as Mandisa made it to the top 24, I had hoped she would eventually bust out with that song. Tonight's theme was 21st century tunes - could tonight be the night? Sure enough it was, and the moment she announced what song, I let out a big ole Taylor Hicks "woo hoo!" She did remarkable. That song talks about the freedom we have in Christ, but in a hip hop happening way. I even got a little teary eyed knowing that Mandisa was stepping out on the Idol stage proclaiming the gospel. Wow.

Then it happened. Randy thought it wasn't the best. Paula made some weird comment about everyone becoming a member of the church of Mandisa - to which she shook her head no in humble reverance to the true Head of the Church. Simon, who I normally agree with, was sorely in error as he called her indulgent to pick a song like that. My happy face got angry real quick. Lest you don't realize life is rough on the Christian who takes a stand, you experienced it tonight, live, on American Idol. I'm proud of Mandisa. She held her head high and I'm sure had no regrets for her song choice. I'm proud that she was bold enough to pick a song that may not resonate with the judges' panel. It's a sad testimony that those three people didn't "get" the song because they haven't "got" the gospel message.

As I sit here typing this blog entry tonight, just 30 minutes into voting, the lines for Mandisa are still busy. I have yet to cast my first vote for her. That's encouraging. I hope every Christian American Idol fan out there is flooding the lines and showing the producers of Idol what America really wants. No matter what happens, Mandisa knows that the shackles are off her and she will continue to praise God....

Where's the Beef?

When I was in college, one of the fundamental marketing lessons I learned was the BCG grid. It explained the four types of products a company has: Cash Cows - the heavy lifters that are best sellers over the long haul and pay the rent each month. Rising Stars - Newer products that show great promise, but haven't reached the potential of a solid cash cow. Question Marks - New product launches that have an unknown track record on performance. Dogs - Products that should have been gone yesterday and are dragging the company profits down.

Now that I've given a brief marketing lesson, here's what brought that to mind. Every company usually has all of those to be successful and growing. A trip out shopping Saturday made me ask myself "where's the cash cow?" while at a particular store.

I make a trip to Bath and Body Works about once ever 3-4 months. I stock up on the body sprays, lotions, and soaps that I love so much. There's always a sale for something there and buying their products is a whole lot cheaper than perfume...and they smell just as good! I've gotten compliments on my aromas before, which is enough motivation to keep shopping there. But, one of the trends I've noticed recently is that every time I go, something else has been discontinued. First it was their line of makeup, which was, by far, some of the best lipstick, eyeshadow and gloss that I've ever used. After that mourning period, I got over it. Then, the rumors started flying about one of my regular scents, Country Apple, being discontinued. Sure enough, on this last trip, poof, it was gone. I had received a recommendation for a lovely peppermint bar of soap that friends had raved about and tried to locate it at the store on Saturday. When I asked one of the girls, she said, "Oh it's been discontinued." Good grief. Even as I was walking away with my purchases, I heard one of the clerks tell someone else, "Oh that's been discontinued."

Ok, I'm all for new lines, new fragrances, new whatever, but how do these folks keep afloat when everytime you go, the products lines are all in an uproar? I asked that question as I loaded my bag full 'o' goodies in my car and realized it hasn't stopped me. I suppose the beef of Bath & Body Works is their base product lines of lotions, sprays, etc. and they keep us coming back for more by switching it up every season. Even now they are reintroducing a new line of makeup that is rivaling their previous line. They may not be a textbook marketing case study, but obviously it works for them.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Chivalry is Almost Dead

The parking garage where I leave my car on a daily basis has gotten busier and busier. I think it's one of the cheapest places to park in this area of downtown and the rest of the world has just discoverd that. I'm very focused when I park my car and head to the office. I jump on the elevator go out the door to the corner and wait to cross at the appropriate, law-abiding time. For more reasons than obeying the law, you don't want to cross too soon because the drivers of Louisville aren't the most pedestrian-friendly.

Most of the folks who park in this garage are in the age range of 25 - 50. There are very few older folks - most of the parkers are in the 20s and 30s range. This age demographic was noticed one day when a lovely older gentleman joined me on the elevator in the garage. My assumption is that he was over 65, retired, and probably consulting in the area - we have folks in this region of downtown that do just that sort of thing. He was a spritely man, complete with his briefcase (not backpack like us younger folks) and donning a chapeau that reminded me of the tam-like hat my granddaddy used to wear. As we waited for the elevator, he said, "Good morning, how are you?" Wow, communication with a fellow parker?! When the elevator arrived, a quite odd thing occured. He took a step back to allow me to get on the elevator first. Man, that's great - how soon we forget those little things. The same thing occured when we reached the bottom floor and he waited for me to exit the elevator. As he held the door open for me to walk to the corner he bidded me adieu with a "Have a nice day!" Gee, I was so impressed I wondered if this man was single!

It made me realize how little regard younger men have for women. Now, this is a generalization and I am friends with guys who do show courtesy and respect to us women, but on the whole it's not that way. Obviously since my experience interacting with younger men in the garage day in and day out and then experiencing Mr. Chivalry caused me to perk up. I think it's time we teach younger men to be gentlemanly, chivalrous, and give women the courtesy and respect they are due. For the record, I never voted for women's liberation - forget "I am woman, hear me roar" - I prefer "I am woman, get my door."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Lost in the 50's

Ok, I've been sorely behind in blogging, mainly for lack of real scintillating content. My life seems to exist lately of work, ministry and reality TV. Sleeping and eating are there too, but usually happening simultaneouly with one of the aforementioned activities. So, I thought I'd recap last night's American Idol.

I'm a Fanilow...from way back. I had a crush on Barry Manilow (along with Scott Baio and other Tiger Beat cover guys) and to this day I still love his music. It takes a strong person to say that these days. One of my favorite nights of a prior AI season was the Barry Manilow night where all the music was from his repertoire and he was a guest judge. Last night, Barry's music wasn't highlighted, but the music of the 50's was, and he helped the contestants hone their musical skills and performance abilities. Even if you aren't a "Fanilow" you can't help but admire his musical talents, both vocally and instrumentally. Plus, he writes the songs the whole world sings.

Enough Barry adoring, on with the show...

My top three favorites (in no particular order) are Mandisa (or Mandiva as the crowd called her last night), Taylor Hicks, and Kellie Pickler. Mandisa is consistent - as Paula said one week, she can sing anything. And, the fact that she's a Christian singer with Beth Moore's praise team makes her tops on my list. Taylor is just doggone fun. He's comfortable in his skin and is about as different as you can get. I know when he performs, this Baptist has to get up and dance. Kellie dropped a bit in my eyes last week. Not just because of her performance, but that the whole dumb blonde act was getting old. I was glad to see her music was back last night, and her dumbness has faded. She did Patsy Cline proud with that rendetion of Walkin' After Midnight (how did Barry not know that song??)

After those three, the rest of the folks all fall about the same place for me. I really want to like Chris Daughtery, but original or not, that arrangement of Walk the Line must have had Johnny Cash rolling in his grave. I really like Paris, but her Sounds of Blackness heritage will assure her a career in music, with or without AI. And, bless little Kevin Covais' heart....who else can sing Part-Time Lover one week, and follow it up with When I Fall in Love the next. When I remember he's 16, I realize what a challenge this is for him. Last night when Ace closed the show, I closed my eyes to see if he really did sing well, or if his looks get me. Well, he doesn't have a bad voice, but he's no superstar vocally - my deduction once my eyes were closed.

Tonight we'll see who makes it to the final 10. My elimination pick is Bucky. Nice guy, but not a big enough following. I'm still waiting for the Mandisa and Taylor Hicks duet. Maybe that will come in the finale...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

From Humanness to Holiness

Last Thursday I didn't have a Gold Letter Day. It was pouring down rain - which just stopped last night, by the way - and it took me over an hour to get to work. People in Louisville forget how to drive, or slow down to a crawl when the first raindrop falls. I arrived at my parking garage and began the swirling climb to the top. Recently the garage issued a ton more parking cards and now getting a space without going to the top is nearly impossible - especially on a day when you are behind.

I arrived at the 7th level, the roof, the penthouse, and began to seek out a space to park. I had turned off my wipers during my ascent due to the loud noise they made once they dried off. But, as I hit the 7th level, I didn't turn them right back on although I was not under cover. I spotted a space and turned in. Then it happened. I can't tell you what exactly, but "it" happened. Either I slipped on the wet pavement and/or I midjudged my distance and scraped the side of the car next to me. I was sick. Here I was already late and now this.

My human side kicked in. Park away from the car. Nobody saw you. It's not that bad. The owner can have it fixed. As these thoughts raced through my head, I was ashamed at myself. And, realized, that Yes, Viriginia, I'm a human, sinful person.

I was immediately convicted. I can't do that. It doesn't matter if anyone saw me, God did. It may not be that bad, but it's not right for the owner to have to take care of a problem she didn't cause. So, I went to get her license tag to track her down with the parking garage because leaving a note in the pouring rain wouldn't do. My heart sank further when I saw a two-day old temporary tag in the back window. I couldn't hit a ten-year old car, I had to hit a car that the owner had only had two days.

After reporting the incident, talking with the distraught owner, and reporting it to my insurance, everything should be taken care of. I'll suffer an insurance hit since it was my fault - and with a clean record for over 10 years, that one will hopefully not hurt too much. What hurts more is my stark realization that I'm a sinner. Whenever I get pious and boast in my pure and holy life, I have to remember that my holiness comes only through the mercy and grace of a loving God.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Post Office Strikes Again

If you are a faithful reader of my blog, you know my disdain and horrible experiences with the US Postal Service. Well, the fun continues...but, to get you up to speed, I must start the saga from a year and a half ago.

I came home and retrieved my mail, only to discover a slip indicating they attempted to deliver a registered letter but I was not at home. Shocker, the rest of the world is working when you are too, Mr. Mailman. Due to the nature of how this letter was sent, I was required to go pick it up at the post office personally or sign off for someone else to pick it up in my place. At the time, the job I had wasn't very flexible in my lunch hour, and considering the post office was near my home, not my place of employment, I was in a quandry. Thankfully, my boss agreed, under duress, to pick up the letter for me. He's the skeptical kind who assumed he'd contract an Anthrax poisoning by doing this for me.

When he returned to the office, I discovered the letter was from Romania or some such other European location and the contents were in some foreign lanuage I couldn't identify. I first took some of the content and plugged it into Babelfish to translate it, but because it wasn't a pure language (probably a dialect of a couple of languages), it didn't translate well. I decided to take it to my church where I have a myriad of folks who speak, or can read, multiple languages. Taking their expertise and the Babelfish results, we determined it was a summons to appear in court March 2005 for some man who had assaulted someone. Great. What I deducted was that my full name wasn't used, just my first initial and last name, and apparently they did a Google search or some internet search to find a US address for this unknown person to appear in court. Since I couldn't determine a return address, nor an international phone number, I tossed it aside figuring they had the wrong person.

A couple of weeks ago, I visited my mailbox when I arrived home like I always do and lo and behold, another slip indicating I'd missed a delivery of a registered letter again. I was highly suspicious given the "To" address was the same naming as my previous Romanian debacle. I decided this time to take action. I called the post office and explained my story from the previous year and my hesistation to accept the letter if it was from the same place because of their assumption that I was the person they were seeking. The Postal Representative retrieved the letter and confirmed it was from an international source. So, I declined the letter and they mailed it back as a refusal. And, she assured me if it happened again, we'd get the US Postal Inspector involved. Now, my postal experiences could be elevated to the real federal level. Lovely.

You know, it's stories like these that remind me why I have a blog. I think I lead the quirkiest life in my world.