1) I could be in Orlando, but I'm not. In my job I am not required to travel much on behalf of my company. I actually like to travel for fun, but typically, when you're profession is sales or marketing, regardless of your industry, travelling for work is exactly that. Work, and a lot of it. Now, having said that, the one trade show for which I am customarily responsible happens to be one that I very much enjoy, the National Religious Broadcaster's convention, being held this weekend in Florida. This convention is a fascinating convergence of radio/tv, publishing, technology, engineering, programming, media, church ministry, and music. Folks come from all over the planet, from every imaginable background. My company usually has a booth and a display, underwritten by a handfull of the more 300+ manufacturers we represent. It is a lot of work, but it is a lot of fun, too, especially when my wife accompanies me which she often has.
I've met some interesting folks, famous, notorious, and unknown. And I've heard some wonderful music and amazing preaching by some of the best. I heard President Bush speak there shortly after 9/11, and got to see the pre-release version of Passion Of The Christ another year. There is always something cool going on, plus I always get to see some of my best customers and good friends. But I'm glad I'm home this year.
2) Below is something my wife sort of gave me last year. Actually, she bought it to sell in her antique store, but she made the mistake of bringing it home first, and so I, uhm, appropriated it. It is a very small, very old 4-string banjo. It is 21" long from stem to stern and the head is a mere 7.5" across, about the size of a mandolin.
It is presently strung with nylon strings and I may leave it that way. It is difficult to keep in tune and the action is decent only down in first position near the headstock, but it has a really cool sound. The head is genuine cowhide and, although the quality of the construction and condition is quite good, there is no identifying maker's mark.
3) This is a little bit of found art in my office. As I walked in today, what normally would pass for clutter and mess struck me more as a collage.
It consists of a framed poster that we got at the Leopold Museum in Vienna a couple of years ago, featuring one of Egon Schiele's landscapes. I also have a Gustav Klimt poster downstairs which we got at the same exhibition. We had the most wonderful time in Vienna and visiting the art museums there was one of the highlights.
Propped up against this poster is an interesting primitivist original work entitled The Winter Lands (how appropriate!) by an artist named Dick Shoemaker. It is dated 1965 and, I'm sorry to say, I don't know the name of the technique used to created it. Most of the image appears to have been first drawn on the paper with some kind of sharp object, perhaps a stylus, and then filled in and expanded with some kind of thick black ink. Perhaps I will scan this and dedicate a separate post to it, soliciting an expert opinion, perhaps, to tell me what might be known about this technique.
Below that is a map taken from a 1959 National Geographic entitled "Lands of the Mediterranean". It includes the Holy Lands, Turkey, most of northern Africa, and the Middle East. I love maps. I keep meaning to frame and hang this one.
There is also a book of Vineyard worship music and an audio cable in the lower right hand corner. The whole mess is atop an antique glass case that houses my modest collection of (mostly) antique knives.
4) The coolest thing we did, musically, at church this weekend was a song called Bread by Ginny Owens, from her album Beautiful. A very simple, very funky, sparsely orchestrated tune. My wife sang it beautifully, nuanced and soulful. One of the coolest things about it was the fact that the whole song required that I play no more than 4 simple two-note chords...unbelievably minimalistic, but a very fun, expressive vehicle for some great R&B poetry about Jesus as the Bread of Life, and what that means. We got to hear Ginny Owens play piano and sing at the NRB convention in Nashville a couple of years ago. Exceptional. Here are the lyrics:
Man cannot live
By bread alone,
He needs something stronger
To feed his hungry soul,
So he'll try everything
Under the sun,
But nothing will end his hunger
Nothing but Your love.
He'll acquire treasure,
But it won't amount to much,
He'll fall in love with pleasure,
But none will fill him up,
And when he has exhausted
All this world can give to him,
Still he'll not grow weary of chasing after the wind-
I looked in the mirror,
Just the other day,
I was so surprised,
I hardly recognized the change,
So restless and so hurried,
I've spent so much time,
Running after things
I'm gonna have to leave behind
Good stuff, that. My son, JLP, played keys with us this weekend, too, which is always great. The kid's got it goin' on. He sounds better every time I hear him. Even though he never updates his blog these days
5) Heather has an interesting, thought-provoking post on her website about how certain books, music, film, and art experiences seem to resonate with us in an especially personal way, while others do not. And I left one of my annoyingly long comments over there already so I'm not going to elaborate. Just go check it out.
Listening: "Old Wells...New Wine", an album of contemporary piano improvisations on classic hymns by my friend, Mark Bovee. Mark is a world class jazz and gospel pianist as well as a gifted arranger, composer, and worship leader. While I hate making these kinds of comparisons because its just soooo lame, if you like George Winston or Jim Brickman, you will like MB's album. Guaranteed.