Friday, October 02, 2009

5 Thoughts On Letterman's Confession/Legal Battle/Monologue Last Night:

5. Guess that "tower of Midwestern, Lutheran guilt" didn't kick in too fast.

4. The movie will get made.

3. Little blackmails occur every day which aren't crimes.

2. Even if Sarah Palin did cut McCain's meat/food during the campaign, there's no shame in that, and it's not funny.

1. You forgot to add "who were not my wife" onto, "I've had sex with people who work on this show."

Geez, harsh-sounding, judgmental list today. What am I, the Church Lady?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Sports Guy, Taylor Swift, and A New Song
Some weeks ago, I was reading ESPN's "The Sports Guy," Bill Simmons, that hilariously insightful commentator on all things sports. He is especially good to read on New England/Boston sports (though I hate Boston) and his intimate fan's perspective is equal parts frank and loyal. Anyway, he took a break from sports to tell us about his 4oth birthday party trip to Las Vegas. In between funny takes on blackjack and casino etiquette, the fantasy football draft with his buddies punctuated by porn and drunkenness (two things I strongly discourage) he mentioned Kings of Leon's song, "Use Somebody." He said that they played it so many times that he'd physically injure the Kings for composing it. At that time, I hadn't heard it. For the sake of science, I just listened to it. My reaction is: I like it. Or, I should say, I like the balance of it--most of it--and the part I dislike is the pacing of the background instruments. The thing artists like to do in a certain popular style is play the instruments at one pace, and sing over the top of them at a slower pace. For example, we can name Coldplay, and their inspiration, U2. Since I revile Coldplay, the thing that saves this song is the singer. He carries a beautiful, soulful voice into his work. If I had to name the one thing that determined 'good' music from 'bad' music for me, it'd be vocal ability. Some lead singers aren't terribly talented, but they have unique voices. The is not to what I am referring. What I mean is a person talented or trained enough to be skilled at music outside their preference. A little soul solves everything.
I hate to admit it, but Taylor Swift is winning me over. Based on her weak voice, (ironic, given what I just said) and teen audience, I figured we wouldn't hear much from her. But her songwriting is fantastic. I have noticed that it's one or two lines that grab you, and this song won't let you remain uninterested. You said the way my blue eyes shine/Put those Georgia stars to shame that night/I said that's a lie. Or, that gorgeous pre-chorus from "Love Story" with its grabby line: And my daddy said, "Stay away from Juliet!" sucks you in. If you hate Taylor Swift, buckle up, because you'll never be rid of her.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

5 Natural Questions, Following the Admission That One's Night Was Ruined By Homer Bailey

5. What is this, 'Dirty Jobs'?

4. Are you Homer's date?

3. Is that Kanye's alias?

2. Is that a horse you bet on?

1. Why didn't you re-grout the bathtub yourself?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Oddball Side Project (and a rant about the thin veneer of morality in culture)
I have written approvingly of Terry Lewis and his pal James Harris, III (AKA Jimmy Jam) as two of the architects of R&B and neo-soul's crossover to whites in the '80s and '90s, and that is well-deserved. They worked much of their magic with the princess of a pop dynasty, Janet Jackson. One of the best-known (and loved) songs from her 1986 release Control is a song titled, "Let's Wait Awhile," about two young people who delay their first sexual encounter. This song has one of the prettiest melodies in a pop song I've ever heard. Part of the reason that R&B gained in stature during this period (other than Michael Jackson) is that producers and songwriters saw that electronics could be used not only in the service of upbeat dance rhythms, but ballads also, in layering lush vocals with well-mixed keyboards to till the emotional and auditory ground before lyrics are even sung. Some of this is so pretty that one hopes the lyrics aren't too ridiculous. Here's the song. Complete nonsense. How long is "awhile"? If there's no mention of marriage, nor of its fuller purpose, why wait? Why wasn't it quite right on the very first night? Care to explore why this made you uncomfortable? A day is too soon, but two weeks is OK? Some people see right through all this and decide to fornicate immediately and often. I won't call that good, but at least they're being honest. The silliest thing is that I know this song was widely praised for its morality. People really do think that following arduous, semi-pointless rules means something to God. But unless we stand in his grace, using his gifts for his glory, our deeds mean nothing, supernaturally speaking.
Why do I bring this up? It's just pop music, music that comes from the uncaring corporate Leviathan, who's come to put you in shackles, man. Please, shut up.--ed. Well, I've always liked this song, in spite of itself. And so I want to re-write this song; I'll use the same tune, with different lyrics. Jimmy and Terry can have most of the credit they've already earned. Here's another stupid song I love (sorry, Kenny). All that is to say, if I wanted to manipulate a bunch of people, I'd do it with a song. Music is that powerful.
Christ Our King: 10 Years
I wish I had words to express what this church, these people, mean to me. If I am walking in the light now, I walk because of them. If I have loved at all, it's because of them. If I know anything, they taught it to me. I told them that I will be walking down the street, and I'll hear our hymns in my head, and in my heart. I see their faces. There are some who are gone, but I see them, too. I wish Tim Durrett would read me some Scripture in that beautiful accent of his; I wish we were going to Marc and Debbie's after worship. I wish Martha was here to say something wise. I wish certain things were whole again. I keep hoping to see T-dog sitting in the back next to the piano. We got a letter from folks I had nearly forgotten about, until I remembered that in more certain days, I called the patriarch "Liberal Ed." I promise, not long ago, he was the only one. The Tamerius kids used to take turns holding the hymnal for me while I sang. That's good for Micah; he often needs something to do. I bet Anna still knows all the words. I wonder if, though she is older, Lizzie still takes one little mouse-sized bite out of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and leaves the rest! I remember Tommy's deep-fried turkey on Thanksgiving. Had it maybe once since, but not as good as Tommy's. I remember once a month college supper club at the Kleins'. I remember thinking Peter's political views were nuts, coming to similar views...and realizing they're still nuts. I recall when my wheelchair nearly killed Peter and me. Scott Matz was always good at distracting me from the sermon. And Mrs. Matz would shush us both, like I had anything to do with it. I love that the liturgy is so engrossing that I hardly notice the pretty girls. Hardly. I appreciate the fact that I've never heard anything exclusively Presbyterian or Reformed in 8 years. I love that Pastor Travis's ordination sermon was given by John Armstrong, and that the whole matter was punctuated by Jeff Meyers and the loudest singing I have yet to hear. I loved the debut of the white robes. I remember talking about Afghanistan with Pastor Thom 7 years ago in our very first meeting. And baptism. He was wrong, and he knows that now! (smile)
Whatever may happen, I'm the luckiest person on Earth, to have lived life with these people.
5 Thoughts From The 10th Anniversary Celebration/Vespers at Christ Our King Church

5. I think I owe Evan some money.

4. I think I owe Pastor Travis money.

3. I didn't know this cost money.

2. I wasted half a beer.

1. Be a man for once, and tell the story without crying.