Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What Would Jesus Eat?

WWJE? That's an easy question to answer. In a word, lamb.

I don't intend to get too deeply into the theology here, but trust me, dispensationalism does not apply to sheep. Oddly, to many people today, lamb seems a strange, exotic culinary choice. I have spoken to many people, Christian and heathen alike, who have never even tried it. In the olden days, be assured, folks ate lamb and lots of it. And only an idiot would think that Jesus was a vegetarian, as I've heard some crackpots assert. Or a vegan. That's all crazy talk. Which reminds me, that word is just stupid...a Vegan is someone from the planet Vega. Duh.

Jesus is definitely not from Vega, no matter what L. Ron Hubbard says. I think I stand on solid doctrinal ground when I say without reservation, Jesus liked Him some good grilled lamb. I think He would might even smile approvingly on my recipe below.

This is what we had for supper this evening:

Lamb Chops w/Garlic Sauce and Herb Butter
Herb Butter
¼ Cup Butter
1 tsp Rosemary
½ tsp Marjoram (or Thyme, for a different twang)
1 tsp parsley
pinch of salt

Combine ingredients, mixing thoroughly in a bowl. Dump the clump onto a piece of plastic wrap and mold it into a log. Wrap the plastic around it and return it to the refrigerator.

4 Lamb Chops
Cooking oil
1 Garlic clove, maybe two, chopped
¼ Cup dry white wine
¼ Cup chicken broth

Saute garlic for 1 minute on medium heat. You can use a light olive oil, if you like, and I often do for other recipes, but for this one, I prefer just a good, plain, flavorless cooking oil. Bump the heat up a mite and add the chops, cooking 3 minutes per side for medium rare, of 4 minutes per side for medium. They should brown a bit on each side. Remove the chops to a warm oven.

Pour off most of the oil from pan, retaining garlic bits and any other nuggets of goodness that you find there. Reduce heat. Add cooking wine to skillet, cook and stir for approx. 3 minutes. Add chicken broth. Cook and stir until volume is reduced by about half. Drizzle over chops. Slice pats off of herb butter log and place them on the chops. Serve.

This is really an easy recipe. Tonight we had fresh Amish wheat bread, some homegrown Indiana sweet corn from the freezer, and chocolate pudding pie for dessert.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Heather's Meme

Technically, it may not be Heather's meme, I can't say for sure, but she is to blame for me knowing about it and perpetuating its viral propagation. Just don't get stuck on the second question...push on through.


1. Who was your best friend? There was a plurality: David Reinhard, Craig Dalton, Lee Davis. Also Jean Liebensberger and Beth Leadabrand were very special friends. Lord, bless them all.

3. What kind of car did you drive? I didn’t get a car until I graduated, actually, so I drove my parents’ cars. After graduation, though, I got a bright red 1978 Honda Civic Hatchback from my grandparents. Sweet ride.

4. It’s Friday night, where were you? In the marching band, during football season. Off-season, hanging out with friends.
5. Were you a party animal? No.

6. Were you considered a flirt? In my dreams. In reality, I was a teenage serial monogomist.

7. Ever skip school? Not that I recall.

8. Were you a nerd? Yep. Band geek.

9. Did you get suspended/expelled? No.

10. Can you sing the fight song? No, but if I still had my trumpet chops, I bet I could play it.

11. Who was your Favorite teacher? Jim Sitton, Physics I & II. The second year was one of the hardest classes I’ve ever taken. Ever. Nearly killed me, but it was fascinating. He was a great teacher, though. Fortunately, I had good lab partners. David Reinhard and Russ Carpman, both of whom grew up to become actual, bona fide rocket scientists.

12. Favorite class? Band, then English

13. What was your school’s full name? Nimitz High School

14. School mascot? Vikings

15. Did you go to Prom? Yes

16. If you could go back and do it over, would you? No. I mean, it wasn’t so bad, but…no.

17. What do you remember most about graduation? Ours was a pretty big school and I remember the ceremony took forever, it seemed. I remember having a very enjoyable time talking to Kathy Pietens who sat next to me. Until that day, we really had never taken the time to get to know one another, even though we had been alphabetically adjacent for years. I wonder how she is after all these years.

18. Who was your high school sweetheart? Jennifer, mostly, but definitely Jean, too.

19. Where were you on senior skip day? I don’t think we had one. If we did, I missed it.

20. Did you have a job your Senior year? Yes. I worked at a dry-cleaners. I was like the assistant assistant manager. It was a decent gig, really...I got me some stories.

21. Where did you go most often for lunch? The school cafeteria.

22. Have you gained weight since then? Oh yeah.

23. What did you do after graduation? University of North Texas, School of Music

24. When did you graduate? 1978

25. Who was your Senior prom date? Jennifer.

26. Are you going to your 10yr class reunion? Been there, done that, and enjoyed it. A long time ago. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to make it to any subsequent reunions.

27. Who was your homeroom teacher? Varied from year-to-year, I think. Most often, Mr. Haberkamp, the band director.

28. Who will repost this after you? Probably nobody…

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Most Horrible Sound In The World

This has been another week in which I have been tool busy trying to live my life to properly chronicle it, hence the dearth of blogging once again.

I've got a couple of legitimate posts that I am working on as well as some accumulated notes and half-baked opinions that I may sling up later. In the meantime, I ran across this entertaining story about the most disturbing kind of audio information and I thought it would be fun to pass on.

I'm also thinking about posting my response to Heather's meme, a type of blogging I've never done before and may never do again. For some reason, I like reading other people's responses but get kind of wierded out by my own.

Listening: Go by the Newsboys. Several good songs on this album, but I think my favorites are "Your Love Is Better Than Life" and "Gonna Be Alright". The groove and lyric on the former are especially well-crafted, and I love the way the hymn wafts spacily in and out on the latter. You can listen to some samples on the links above.

Friday, January 19, 2007


This week has has been persistently hectic, mostly due to professional obligations, hence the dearth of blogging. Today was a lot of fun, though, and definitely out of my routine. I headed to Indianapolis this morning to visit a couple of clients there, one of whom is also a close friend.

Randy Adams of Adamsound is one of the most respected recording engineers in the business and over the years he has carved for himself quite a remarkable niche in the music industry. He is responsible for numerous gold and platinum albums and has a closet full of other awards. His specialty is recording large-scale live praise and worship events and he travels all of the world. Many of his projects simultaneously involve large rhythm sections, orchestras, massive choirs, famous solo performers, with all of the formidable challenges that comprise remote location recording. Plus, he is at home in many of the top-tier tracking and mastering studios around the world. Check out his website info to see all the stuff he has done...he is amazing.

Every couple of years or so, he comes to Indy to record an album for a client we share, Calvary Tabernacle, a big church here closely affiliated with Indiana Bible College. That is the reason for his visit this week.

As usual, Randy and I ate at Shapiro's Deli, an exceptional restaurant and one of the most celebrated eateries in downtown Indianapolis. As usual, I struggled with the choice between the lox and bagel plate and their incredible Reuben Sandwich. The lox won out this time. And, of course, I carted home a big sack of their fresh bagels and some espresso brownies. Yum.

Before coming home, I stopped at Arthur’s Music Store to drop off my acoustic guitar, a Larrivee D-03E, for some repair work. It has developed a grounding problem in the electronics that I have been unable to locate and fix myself. The last time I performed with it, I had to take my shoes off to defeat the 60-cycle hum. We’re casual, but not usually that casual, so it was past time to get it taken care of.

I had never been to Arthur’s before and taking an instrument to a new repair shop is a little bit like meeting a new pediatrician for the first time…you’ve got to look deep into their eyes, try to get a glimpse of their soul. Its got to FEEL right and you NEED to know that they have the confidence and experience to treat your baby…I mean, your instrument with the loving, tender care that it requires. I sought this place out because I could tell from my internet sleuthing that it was first and foremost a guitar store. Typically, the big mega-stores of the music industry, Sam Ash, Guitar Center, et al., do not provide good service in these areas. You really have to seek out the places where guitars are a passion and not where you have to wrestle three adolescent salesmen-du-jour just to find someone that knows what they are talking about.

I do a lot of my own guitar maintenance and, since moving to Indiana, I have not required anything that I couldn’t handle. Plus, I’m spoiled. For decades I lived in the D/FW area and used Charley’s Guitar Shop for anything serious. Charley’s is hugely famous among guitar players. This is one of the coolest places in the country, and is where Eric Johnson, the Vaughn brothers, Billy Gibbons, Johnny Winter, Steve Miller, Bugs Henderson, Smokin’ Joe Kubek and every other Texas guitar player gets work done. The guy that used to work on my guitars also worked on Carlos Santana’s, Eric Clapton’s, and SRV's…I’m not kidding. Last I heard, he was on tour with John Mayer as his guitar tech.

But, I digress. I’m here now, not there. Sean, the repair guy I spoke with at Arthur’s, clearly understood my problem and exuded ample confidence to make me feel safe about leaving the guitar. This place has an interesting history and has been in business since the 1950’s, which is exceptionally good for a mom-and-pop brick-and-mortar music store these days. It was not fancy, no headache-inducing super merchandising displays...just a nice, laid-back vibe. I spoke briefly with one of the ladies who owns the store, and she was very nice. My confidence increased as I wandered around and eavesdropped on the employees interacting with other customers. We’ll see how it all works out.

Monday, January 15, 2007

24 Years Ago Today - Part II

This was the picture on the front of the card that my wife gave me for our anniversary yesterday. It is an excellent photograph, and it evoked a couple of different ideas and memories.

For me, I was first struck by the anxious pose, the sense of high expectancy. The details, too, are interesting; the white box on table, the old bed with the chenille bedspread, and the tiny frame on the wall. What it made me think of, honestly, was the imagery of the bride described in the Song of Solomon. And no, not because everything I see automatically reminds me of something biblical, but because I recently reread that short, mysterious little book and it was fresh on my mind.

To my wife, the picture brought back a completely different kind of memory. On the day of our wedding, her parents went ahead to the church to finalize preparations and Nancy was supposed to come later. Well, somehow, in all the hubub, whoever was supposed to come back, pick her up, and take her to the church forgot about her. So, as the time for the wedding approached, Nancy became more and more anxious. She made phone calls to the church, she tried calling her friends and bridesmaids, but was unable to reach anyone. (Kids, yes, this was before cellfones.)So, she started getting dressed at home, putting on the white dress, collecting her things, watching out the window, and become increasingly agitated with each passing moment.

In tears, she was just folding herself in to her own (subcompact) car, wedding dress, make-up and all to drive herself to the church when her brother, Steve, showed up to collect her. Her relief at his arrival was fleeting, though, as they both realized how very little time there was before the wedding was to start. So they sped to the church as fast as they could. But the suffering was not yet over.

When she arrived at the church, she was told that she could not come in yet because the photographers had to take pictures of the groom (me) and his entourage, including Steve who had gone off to get Nancy and just returned. And, of course, we couldn't risk an accidental bride-sighting, so she was effectively locked out of the church, in the cold January drizzle for 15 minutes longer, in her wedding dress, and now in a furious and frantic state of mind. Finally, she was let in and was quickly led away and attended to by her mom and her friends. She was fully ready to kill people at that point, I believe, but somehow restrained herself and refocused her energies on the final preparations necessary and soon, at the appointed time emerged at the back of the sanctuary complete and radiant, the very picture of grace and beauty.

I was happily oblivious to all of this drama, I must say, and only heard about it later at the reception. But it is one more special memory that we share from 24 years ago.

photo credit: "A Young Bride in Oakes, N. Dakota" (c) by Michael Rouugier, Life Magazine/Time Inc & Notecard/Time Inc.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

24 Years Ago Today, Part I

24 years ago today Nancy and I were married at an Episcopal church in Irving, Texas. It was a cold, rainy, crazy whirlwind of a day chock full of memories, some crystal clear, some hazy, and all cherished.

It was a big wedding, or at least we thought it was, with some 400 people showing up. We had invited everyone we could think of, to be honest, just because we couldn’t think of any reason not to. So, in addition to family, we had friends from both of our high schools, plus all of our friends from college (University of North Texas), work, and pretty much anybody else that wanted to come was welcome, as well.

Some especially memorable elements include my brother being the Best Man who, among other things, saw to it that I did, in fact, get some food and champagne at the reception.

Also, the Men's Chorus from the Gamma Theta Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha provided some wonderful music for us. I had been president of this collegiate professional music fraternity for two years and having them sing at my wedding was a very special honor. That group included some of my closest friends.

My groomsmen included Craig Dalton, who had been one of my closest friends in high school, having taught me my first guitar licks. Also Don Phelps, a trumpet player, frat brother, and really great guy who is today a Lutheran pastor in Illinois. And, of course, Nancy's brother Steve Hockett, who cheerfully volunteered to help me escape out the back door if I felt the need. I didn't, thankfully, but he has always been a great brother-in-law...albeit a confirmed bachelor to this day.

Nancy's Maid of Honor was Julie Ringler, her best friend from high school. The other bridesmaids were Katherine Grimm, her college roommate, as well as Theresa Scott another high school friend, and Laura Dalton.

We have had a great marriage. Neither of us can believe it is really 24 years, to be honest, because it doesn't seem like it could have been that long ago. It has not always been easy, by any means, because it is hard work to be married. We've had good times and bad times, just like everybody else. We are well aware that we are not particularly special - it is only through the mercy and blessings of God that we have made it this far. And with His blessing, we hope for many, many more years together. Until death do us part.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

They'll know we are Christians by our...uhm, theology.

A couple of things wafted by today, and I enjoyed their serendipitous juxtaposition. (That's fancy-talk for "funny side-by-sidedness")

The first was this article on ChristianReport.com listing the 50 Most Influential Christians in America. I was directed to this article by Jeff, whose excellent blog I read religiously, so to speak, and who I think believes that this is a sign of the soon-coming Apocolypse, if not something worse. He may be right, although I don't remember reading anything like this in those Left Behind books. All I know is that Jeff's name and my name are conspicuously absent from this list which casts an omnious shadow of dubious integrity on the whole deal.

I am happy to say, without smugness, but with a genuine sense of humble gratitude that a full 20% of these popular Christian folks are customers of mine. Because, regardless of which side of the denominational slice of bread you put your butter on, everybody who is anybody these days needs professional A/V production and broadcast equipment. And we don't judge people's theology at www.proaudio.com (well, sometimes we do, but we're smart enough to keep it to ourselves). Nope, the technology marketplace is an ecumenical gathering where all are welcome. Some of these nice people have been a big help in keeping my son enrolled at IU, and I am truly grateful.

The second fun thing that I ran across is synchronistically related, I am certain, albeit it in a way I can't quite pin down. Kind of like the way that the curvy black swashes are related to the white drip-drops in this Jackson Pollock painting. But I'm okay with the tenuous and pensive theological connection here. I'm an artist, so I thrive on ambiguity and dissonance. Here is this timeless and timely (how can it be both?) quote from that most irrascible of anti-religionists, Mark Twain:

"Man is the religious animal. He is the only religious animal
that has the true religion -- several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight."

This quote was at the bottom of today's A Word A Day. I made it print in green (uhm, blue)so as to dilute its venom. There is a sobering truth in this glib observation.

Another sobering truth is that when Jesus returns, one of the first things that happens is He sets everybody's theology straight. That will be a good day and, I do agree with Jeff, its probably not far off.

Monday, January 08, 2007


We spent the weekend in Chicago. My wife and son drove up there on Thursday and our primary function was to be there in support of JP as he auditioned for the Cavaliers Drum & Bugle Corp. On Sunday, we found he barely missed the cut, I am sorry to report. He is a superb trumpet player and a gifted musician and, in his life to date, he can probably count on one hand the number of times when he has not been successful at achieving a musical goal. It was a very close call and the competition for a very small number of positions was very intense, with players from all over the world. His marching audition was nearly perfect, but his playing audition was not as strong as it normally is, and he just lost his spot.

We were all disappointed, to be sure, but JP took this setback like the mature young man that he has become, and that made me even more proud of him than I already was. By the time we left Chicago he was already talking about how he would now have the time to work on his album, get a job, and maybe put a band together. I am truly blessed with a great son and the time we got to share this weekend was really special to us as a family, during and after his 3-day workshop. Everyone experiences success and failure in life's endeavors, and both, in their way, help shape us to be the people that the Lord intends for us to become.

A secondary reason for going to Chicago which, unfortunately, ended up not getting the full attention it deserved, was to celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary which is coming up this week. My work schedule, unfortunately, did not permit us the unfettered freedom of a 3-day weekend so, hopefully, I'll find a way to redeem some time this coming weekend. We did enjoy our abbreviated stay, though, and had a great time sampling some excellent local cuisine and culture.

Here is a picture of us that appeared in the Irving Daily News back in, I think, early January of 1983. It was taken not long after we became engaged and, no, I have no excuses to offer with regard to that sweater. Clearly NCP did not marry me for my fashion sense. My wife remains gorgeous, I'm pleased to report, and looks even hotter today than she did back then. Me...probably not so much. We have a great marriage. There have been hard times and good times (she didn't marry me for money or fame, either, evidently)...such is the stuff that real life is made of, but we are happy together and truly thankful that the Lord has blessed us with one another.

Next year, for our 25th Anniversary, we want to go to Italy for a week or so. We have no idea how that is going to happen and it will likely require some Miraculous Intervention, but that is the goal. Hey, it could happen...

Friday, January 05, 2007

Is it just me or is it hungry in here?


First, go check out Rick Lee's produce today. Those strawberries look unbelievable. I love the idea of him lurking around the grocery, surreptiously posing and shooting the fruit and veggies as though he was some kind of spy from The Food Channel. Unbelievable photography.

Now, go check out Duane Keiser's PB&J #6 on eBay. He is an amazing painter. Check out his site "A Painting A Day" by clicking on the link in the margin.

Both of these guys are very gifted, inspiring artists.

That's it, I'm done for the day, time to go make supper.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Snowbound in New Mexico

"I've been waiting my whole life to get a chance to help people like that."

Great story from yesterday's Denver Post.

SureFire Delta

One of the things in life in which I find inordinate joy in is a high-quality pocket knife. There is almost nothing more useful and practical in life than a good pocket knife, and there is something intrinsically aesthetically pleasing about a razor-edged piece of hand-honed steel. It is a thing of beauty and grace.

This is the new Delta, a production knife made by SureFire. They also make some of the most amazing tactical flashlights in the world, by the way. Everyone, boy & girl, man & woman, needs to carry a knife. I have longed wished that it was a federal law that, upon birth, every baby is issued a multi-tool of some sort, like a Leatherman or even a Swiss Army Knife. How useful would that be to grow up learning self-reliance and resourcefulness through the use of such a handy tool?

My personal pocket knife is a Spyderco SC-16PS Wayne Goddard folder which I have had for several years. It is extraordinarily durable, has a pocket clip, and keeps an extremely sharp edge. Some folks find it a bit large, with a 3 3/8" half-serrated blade, but the reason for that is simple. I have lost or damaged at least half-a-dozen small, normal-looking pocket knives over the years, some of them rather valuable and one of them irreplaceable. But I have never lost my Spyderco, or at least not for more than a day or so, and then I invariably find it in the laundry. Spyderco doesn't make this model any more, but they do make a wide selection of excellent knives. A good friend, Wray Reed, turned me onto Spyderco about 10 years ago and I have been completely happy with this knife.

With knives, the conventional wisdom applies that the good ones aren't cheap and the cheap ones aren't good. If you want a sharp blade, and why would you not, then you need a knife made of some serious steel, not some crappy Pakistani alloy clamped between some cheesy-looking wood-stained handles.

Here is a cool exploded diagram from the Surefire website showing off some of the Delta's practicals.

For more details on this knife, as well as a wealth of great info and pictures on everything knife-related, please visit the Knifeart.com website. It is a well-designed site that features some of the most beautiful handmade, as well as general production knives in the world. If you have never explored the artistic side of edged instruments, you are in for a real eye-opening treat.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Frederick Polley: "Twin Barns"

For Christmas this year, my brother and I purchased this oil painting by Frederick Polley to give to my mother. My brother did all of the heavy lifting on this one, handling the live auction by phone and paying the great majority of the actual cost. He paid a handsome sum for this little gem, more by several hundred dollars, than any of us have paid to date for a Polley work. But the oils are fairly rare, and this is a very nice one.

A small piece, 9.25 x 11.25 inches, it is nevertheless a beautiful example of Polley's affection for the rural setting. We have no provenance to prove it, but this scene looks very much like it could have been from his Brown County years in the early 1940's in which he lived and worked in the artist community around Nashville, Indiana. One the back of the canvas board, handwritten, it says "Twin Barns - $20", which we all found ruefully amusing since the winning bid was for $1000, plus fees. Uncle Fred, a man of modest temperament, would be pleased and shocked, no doubt, at the way his art continues to increase in value. My grandmother never fails to mention how very, very pleased he would be, too, if he knew that his family valued and collected his works.

This piece is seemingly more impressionistic than some. There are portions of the foreground that are finely detailed and other sections, like the misty ridge in the background that are more suggestive. There are a lot of pinkish hues at work in the barn and on the rough, dirt road, but the effect is pleasing and suggests that there may have been some atypical lighting available that day. It is common, in this part of the country, to see two such barns of different design and vintage to be huddled together thus. They share a relationship not unlike that of the two finely drawn trees in the foreground. It is interesting though, that Polley titled the work "Twin Barns", if indeed that title is of his choosing, since they are not, in fact, twins at all.

My mom was very pleased with this and I am proud of my brother for making this happen. Her life is full right now, but I continue to encourage her to work on her biography of Frederick Polley. I have voluteered to help, too. Maybe 2007 will be the year.


Listening: "Samson" by Regina Spektor from her recent album Begin To Hope. JP gave me this album for my birthday and it is very good. There are some superficial similarities to Tori Amos, but Spektor really has some interesting, non-formulaic, compositional ideas. And she is an excellent, unusual vocalist. Check her out...you can find her on Youtube, iTunes, and all of the ususal places.