Sunday, September 28, 2008

Points of Interest

Here is an article, a book review, actually, in Slate, that tells of some very recent, fascinating scholarship on the relationship between President Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings. Research shows that Jefferson's young concubine was also the half-sister of his deceased wife, Martha. A "Gordian-knot of family relationships."

Interesting, if somewhat unsettling news, from describes a brewmeister/mad-scientist who is brewing beer using yeast extracted from microbes harvested from a weevil encased in amber some 45 million years ago (sic). It is described as having a "smooth and spicy" flavor. Beer always finds a way.

Bacon Cinnamon Rolls. I haven't tried this recipe yet, but that is only because it is Sunday night, half-past nine, and the nearest roll of cinnamon rolls is sitting on a refrigerated shelf about 15 miles away. But count on it happening very soon.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

High School Reunion - NHS Class of 1978

This past weekend, while in Texas on business, I also attended my high school reunion. It was a modest celebration at the local Knights of Columbus hall on Saturday night. There was barbecue, classic rock, and, fortunately, name tags. Other than the observation that all of those people have somehow gotten old, I am pretty much at a loss for any particularly “deep thoughts” with respect to the Chester W. Nimitz High School class of 1978. I had a very nice time. Simply, it was fun to see some of my old friends again and swap a story or two. Most of them I had not seen since our graduation, although I have had some sporadic correspondence with a few in the intervening years. I even enjoyed good conversation with people to whom, even in high school, I had not been especially close to.

Turns out, it is very hard to convey in one 15-minute conversation all of the life that you have seen in the past 30 years, even to someone who is genuinely interested. And, even when you are interested in hearing what their life is all about, you realize as you listen that you are only getting the AM radio version of a 60-second trailer to an epic movie that was itself an adaptation of a richly written ten-volume historical novel series transcribed from a language you dimly remember but no longer actually speak. (How’s that for a torturous metaphor?) That’s not to say that what is said is not meaningful or appreciated, because it is. But it is inadequate, incomplete. And it must ever be.

For example, one of the things that happens is that everyone stands around and wonders aloud about the people who aren’t there. “Whatever happened to James? And what was his sister’s name?” That’s kind of an interesting thread but it, too, either leads to a dead end or to a place that just kind of trails off into the hills, uncertain and unknowable.

I was saddened to hear about those who had died, grieved to hear of the stories of broken marriages, disappointing careers, ill health, poor choices, and difficult trials. But I was also glad, genuinely happy, to hear of the long, happy marriages and the stories of success and fulfillment, of going back to college for a new career, of surviving the death of a spouse, and of building a rich family life on a bedrock of faith and unflagging love.

It is likely I’ll never see most of those people again, I suppose. Some I will undoubtedly see on the other side and I look forward to that, too.

More than anything else, I came away with a greater sense of appreciation for my own family and a deep, strong affirmation that God is in control of it all.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


This is good news if you are fan of Roxy Music like I am.  Original members Bryan Ferry, Phil Manzera, Andy McKay, Paul Thompson, and Brian Eno, et al, are back in the studio cooking up their first album in some 20 years. 

It is my considered opinion that Avalon is one of the best rock albums ever, so my hopes are high. At the bottom of the original Mix Magazine article linked above is a link that lead to another interesting article that discusses the details of the Avalon session, for those of you that find the behind-the-scenes studio stuff interesting.  

Friday, September 19, 2008

Avast, there, mates.

Aye, 'tis that time o' year agin, ye greasy lubbers, to weigh yer anchors and talk all piratical-like, ya see? 

So, look sharp, ye foresaken scum! That, or the Captain'll see to it yer mates are soppin' up your blood from the foredeck and the gulls be feastin' on your gizzards before dusk.

UPDATE:  'Ere's your official website, ye wicked stankin' chumbuckets.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Rico Loop and the Boss RC-50 Looper - MBPYNHO

In this edition of Music By People You've Never Heard Of, check out this great solo performance by Rico Loop.  He's an amazing improviser and, in fact, a gifted multi-instrumentalist, this vocal piece not withstanding.  

Sure, that's undoubtedly not his real name, and yes, he's speaking German, and those are English subtitles.  And yes, it is a product demonstration featuring the also amazing Boss RC-50 Looper.  Most of the online video demos of this innovative product involve instrumentalists, typically guitarists, but Rico has something unique and very creative going on.

I like the clever way the video production emphasizes the overdubbing capabilities of this device with the picture-in-picture effect.  And I want one of those RC-50's.  Street price is around $525, I think.  Good thing I'm a Boss dealer, eh? listening?

Monday, September 15, 2008

THE END IS NEAR...and this video proves it. But don't watch it.

You know, in the future, when Brant Hansen tells me not to do something, I'll probably take his advice and abstain.  He warned me not to watch this video, but I did anyway.  So, it's too late for me and the damage has been done.  

But YOU, you still have a choice.  You can walk away...or click away, actually.  But whatever you do, don't watch this video.  Just don't.  And if you do, don't blame me, it's not my fault...I warned you.  It's Brant's fault or, more likely, Satan working through him.  Regardless, don't come crying to me.  Just be thankful that this is not your church and that you don't know these people personally.  Be very, very thankful.


This is surely a sign of the coming Apocalypse.

"Come quickly, Lord."

UPDATE:  Sadly, YouTube has pulled the video.  Evidently the copyright owner, The Way International, does not want anyone to see what kind of musical and theological shennanigans they are up to.  Trust me, it was really bad.  It's probably for the best.

ANOTHER UPDATE:  You can still find it here.  But, beware, there may be some kind of Jedi mind-control tricks employed by these folks.  Keep your Scofield NIV close at hand.

Friday, September 12, 2008

That's no way to treat a lady...

Politics.  The last couple of presidential election cycles have been highly entertaining, to say the least, and I have been enjoying the last few weeks, in particular.  

The Democrat convention was a hoot, starring Bill and Hillary and that other one guy, the nice, well-spoken African-American gentleman with the unusual name who, apparently, would also like to be in government work.  The choice of Joe Biden as the VP candidate caught me completely off-guard.  He's one of those politicians that always surprises, occasionally amuses, but seldom leaves behind the feeling of competence, intelligence, or integrity.  But he did seem clean and articulate, so he's got that going for him.

The floundering McCain campaign's selection of Sarah Palin as his VP running mate was also a big surprise, obviously, but one that seems to be serendipitously inspired.  She is turning out to the secret weapon of the Republican party; one that nobody even knew they possessed, least of all the Republicans.  If McCain wins the election, then he will owe it to whoever championed that crazy idea.  Like most of America, I had never heard of her, but I found her immediately likeable and, for a politician, reasonably credible.  And it is great fun to see the liberal left and the feminists so completely unwound by it all.

I doubt that any other VP nomination has generated as much national discussion as that of Sara Palin.  Watching Charles Gibson's interview on ABC cemented in my mind how smart, focused, and unflinching she is.  It also revealed what a pompous, arrogant, and unpleasant man Gibson seems to be.  I wondered as I watched if he would have borne the same combative demeanor, the same sneering rudeness if he had been interviewing an African-American woman, or if he would have grilled Hillary with such surly disrespect.  I wondered what he was thinking inside, if he thought he was appearing professional?

Being professional means, among other things, that you are polite to people, regardless of whether you think they deserve it or not.  You can be direct, even insistent, without being impolite.  Being a gentleman means, among other things, that you show a respectful deference to women, regardless of whether you think they deserve it or not.  It is the opposite of being an asshole.

Sarah Palin showed that she is fully capable of answering difficult, direct questions in a personal, heartfelt way.  Whether you agree with her politics or not, it is undeniable that she communicates sincerity.  I will be voting for John McCain with considerable less reluctance now.  Charlie Gibson communicated something, too, but I doubt that it would make his mother proud.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


David Hayward, the nakedpastor, has had  several excellent, thoughtful posts of late.  The one today on freedom and bondage is so strong, so right on...please go check it out.

This one, from a couple of days ago, on tilling one's garden, is also very, very good.  I meant to mention it a couple of days ago.

The artwork is by David, too, which you can see here.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Stevie Wonder

Yeah, the Republican convention would have been so much cooler if Stevie had played there instead of screwing around with the Democrats in Denver last week.  But I really don't care about his politics.  The man is a living American treasure.  Happily, he has just received an award from the Library of Congress, the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, confirming this fact before the world.