And Another Thing…

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While I Was Out

I got caught up on a couple of things at my internship and the instructor for the only class I am taking cancelled one of our major assignments, so here I am. What’s more, hundreds many a handful a couple of my beloved readers have written to ask when I plan to return, so here I find myself. What did I miss? Well: This twitter thing has caught on something fierce, a development which I absolutely did not expect. I won’t be taking this up, however. I can’t imagine that my life is that interesting minute by minute, even to me. I’m sure that I missed blogging on some other things, but for the life of me I can’t think of them right now. Consider this an invitation to do an open thread in the comments.

Books

I recently finished Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse by Victor Gischler. I think whether or not this book is for you will depend on your response to the title, because it delivers exactly what the title promises: an action-packed post-apocalyptic satire set in a future US where the most powerful business, bordering on a fiefdom, is a strip bar franchise. The humor is dark but the characters are endearing. Right now I am reading L.A. Outlaws by T. Jefferson Parker. So far, it is a good read with an interesting plot and believable characters. More after I finish it (maybe).

 TV

Battlestar Galactica came to its eagerly anticipated ending, and the results were interesting: neither the GREATEST ENDING OF ALL TIME as some critics have trumpeted nor a complete failure as other critics insist. Spoilers below:

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Filed under: Books, Faith and Religion, Geek Stuff, Movies, Music, Politics, School, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Reunion Tours

I know I’m supposed to be on a hiatus, but I couldn’t pass this one up.

Rod Dreher asks a great question:

Which aging rock stars would you most like to hear perform one of their great albums, and which album? That’s easy for me: I’d give my next paycheck to hear the Rolling Stones perform “Exile on Main Street.”

Post your answers in the comments. You can put as many as you want and even duplicate somebody else’s answer, but try to think outside of the box. Also, your picks don’t have to be old. Stick to folks who are still alive. Feel free to elaborate on your answers and tell us why you’d like it as well as what you’d like. Mine are below the fold.

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My Morning Jacket – “I’m Amazed”

My friend Matt asked me a good question the other day, so now I put it to you. Listen to this tune and ask yourselves why these guys are not one of the biggest bands in the U.S.

Filed under: Music, ,

Jesus, School My Heart

 Those who know me know that I have mixed feelings about contemporary church music. I do believe that it is essential for believers to always be writing and singing new songs. At one time, all of the classics that our more traditional brethren prefer were new songs, and came from some surprising sources. For instance, Martin Luther “borrowed” the melody and tempo for “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” from a popular German beer-hall sing-a-long. And it worked. The people knew the melody and the lyrics just fell into place. By all means, we should use the language of the day. It is a waste of breath and energy to sing a song whose language is so esoteric that 75% of the people singing it have no idea what they are expressing.

On the other hand, I also believe that songs written in devotion should demonstrate our best efforts. Nothing less than our deepest reflection, our best choices of language, and our most creative, moving, and poetic thoughts should find expression in congregational singing. Songwriting, much like preaching, is both gift and discipline, and only those who have the inborn talent and the discipline to hone that talent should try to pass their songs onto the church.

This is why I am sometimes left stunned or snickering at some of the language of devotion that we employ in church singing. For instance:

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Filed under: Faith and Religion, Music, , , , , , ,

37

So I turned 37 on Tuesday; not a big deal except for me and those that love me. 37 is not one of the cool birthdays, like officially being a teenager at 13, being able to drive at 16, being able to vote at 18, being able to drink and buy guns (a favorite combination of mine) at 21, or having your auto insurance rates drop at 25 (if you’re a white male).

Knowing that my actual birthday was not going to be a good day (I started my internship and had to work my paying gig that night) Chris and I decided to celebrate on Labor Day. We got together with some friends for a righteous feed at Famous Dave’s and then had desert with them at our place. There were a lot of stories exchanged and a lot of laughter and a good time was had by all (I hope). Carl and Shayna win the award for the best card of the evening, as it featured the one and only David Hasselhoff.

The internship: I am working for the local Department of Family Services in the Child Protective Services division. I opted for this placement for several reasons: it is a gap in my experience, I want to see what exactly they do and find out if it is for me, and I think that looking after at-risk kids is a necessity and a calling. Also, my field instructor is the supervisor of his division and being his intern will allow me to get into some policy and administrative work. My first day on the job was not bad; everyone is very helpful and I got to go out on a call. I will share what I can of my experiences, so watch this space if you are interested.

9/2 was not a total bust; my brother was in town so Chris and I got to have dinner with him and hang out a little bit, which was cool.

Oh, I almost forgot: Chris got me 4 great CDs – John Hiatt‘s newest, Same Old Man; it’s not his greatest album ever but the fact is the man hasn’t released a dud in more than 20 years. All of his songs demonstrate the same warm, witty, and insightful writing that has made him one of the most covered artists of the last 30 years, and Same Old Man is no exception.

She also got me 3 CDs by the late, great Danny Gatton; the best American guitar player of the past 50 years and possibly the most underappreciated guitarist of all time. There is a reason that his colleagues called him “The Master of the Telecaster” and “The Humbler.” If you don’t believe me, check out some samples of his work on his webpage or over at Amazon. He’ll make your ears bleed.

Filed under: Music, School, , , , , , , ,

Everyone loves a biscuit…especially the James River Blues Society

Congratulations to my brother Kelly and the rest of The Buscuit Rollers who took first prize at the Sedalia Blues Festival, sponsored by the James River Blues Society. This means that they will get to compete in the 2009 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN.

Filed under: Music, , , ,

Lyle Lovett and His Large Band – July 2nd @ Wolf Trap

 

 

 

When discussing musical preferences with people, I can usually tell a lot about a person’s musical knowledge by their reaction when I mention that I am a fan of Lyle Lovett. The most common response I get is “Wasn’t he married to Julia Roberts?”

Sadly, it is true that Lovett is probably best known to the general public as Roberts’ ex-husband. However, for those who know their music, Lovett is known for his brilliant songwriting and impossible to pin down sound. This year for Christine’s birthday I took her to see Lovett at Wolf Trap and it was time and money well-spent.

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“Always something greener on the other side of that hill…”

…I was born a wrangler and a rambler and I guess I always will”

“Heard It In A Love Song” – The Marshall Tucker Band

No Depression columnist Grant Alden has a great post up on his site about America’s long-running romance with the open road and some of the great literature and music inspired by said romance. I can certainly speak to this in my own experience. Some of my favorite songs, movies, and books have centered around road trips (or life lived on the road). Alas, as Alden states, that romance may soon be coming to an end with gas prices at $4 per gallon and rising. If this is what kills cross-country travel, it would be a terrible shame. The road really is the best way to see our great land in all its variety and splendor.

Some of my happiest times have been spent on the road, loaded up with family or friends and a lot of Cd’s. I love the sights, sounds, and smells of the road and even the satisfaction of arriving at my destination. I can’t count the number of road trips I have been on and I have never regretted one of them. A few years ago my brother rode along with me when I drove cross-country for a move and it is one of my favorite memories. Another great road memory: tearing through western Maryland and Pennsylvania in the dead of night during a freak snowstorm with Diggity Dave on our way to Carl and Shayna’s wedding in Pittsburgh. Dave drove, I prayed (under my breath).

For me, no road trip is complete without a wide and varied selection of tunes, especially the all-important road songs.  I have listed some of my favorite road tunes below in no particular order, and I would love to hear what music you find essential to road trips. I don’t care what it is, just share what and why. I found that many of my favorites are by the same artists, so I have categorized them accordingly. Also, please note that what is listed is my favorite version of a song, not necessarily the original.

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Filed under: Music, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Congratulations everywhere

Congratulations to some friends of mine who have recently cleared some serious hurdles:

Ladies first: the lovely and talented Andrea Morris who successfully defended her dissertation at George Mason University and will receive her PhD in Public Policy in a couple of weeks.

Andy Pierce, who passed the Virginia Bar Exam.

Dave Roland, who passed the Missouri Bar Exam.

And finally, The Biscuit Rollers, who just released their first cd, South Bound Freight Train (featuring a cover designed by none other than the Rollerpimp himself). Just because their lead singer is also my brother doesn’t mean that there is a bias when I tell you these cats play some tight traditional blues.

May all of you revel in your accomplishments!

Filed under: Music, Other, School, , , , , ,

Madonna Inducted Into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, art form pronounced dead on the scene

The Associated Press
Monday, March 10, 2008; 11:00 PM

New York – Rock and roll was pronounced dead tonight immediately after the induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame of Madonna Louise Ciccone Ritchie, better known by her stage name of Madonna, the alleged singer and actress.

One of the few truly American art forms, this once vibrant musical genre was born in the 1950s from a merging of rhythm and blues, gospel, and folk music. Early practitioners included Chuck Berry, The Delta Cats, Les Paul, and Elvis Presley. Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed is credited with coining the name. The musical form is credited with giving voice to American teenagers and providing a soundtrack to 20th century American life.

Rock and roll continued to thrive in the 1960s, as it became a medium of protest against segregation and the Vietnam War. The British Invasion (lead by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones) brought new influences to the mix and broadened the scope and reach of the music.

The genre experienced its first significant challenge in the mid-to-late 1970s with the rise in popularity of disco. Rock and roll survived this era through the rise of the sub-genres of punk rock and heavy metal. However, attacks on the integrity of the music would continue, including the rise of MTV, hair metal, techno, and bubblegum pop.

Rock and roll managed to survive as long as it did through the commitment of a minority of artists to it’s roots and their insistence on writing their own songs, playing their own instruments, singing without modification to their voices, and not substituting asinine behavior for talent. However, performers as diverse as Madonna and Marilyn Manson pressed on as they were determined to liberate the genre from the “tyranny of talent.”

Doctors say that exhaustion from being over-hyphenated and neutered is the cause of death. Investigators are not ruling out conspiracy theories in their search for the culprit(s) who delivered the fatal wound. Executives from MTV, the producers of American Idol, and the board of directors of Clear Channel Communications are all being questioned as of this writing.

Rock and roll is survived by its sister genre of country music, which has experienced it’s own poor health of late.

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