Tuesday, April 26, 2005

dobson comes through in a pinch

I was almost crying today, watching ESPN highlights of the Bulls in 1997 and 1998, Luc Longly, Steve Kerr, Michael Jordan draining beautiful jump shots, even though I wasn't really a Bulls fan at the time, and still can't claim to be. But short nights with little sleep and long morning drives in the rain across two states can tucker a body out. And make everything seem beautiful.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

You are mighty small, little Banjo, and your flippers are tired

My friend Amy is brilliant. On three separate occasions she's told me she doesn't really like reading books -- fiction and non-fiction. And all three times I've been completely surprised by the news. I love it.

I wish I had something like that with everyone I knew.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

O Meijer!

I went shopping at Meijer last night after 2:30am. I forgot how amazingly awesome it is. A 30 minute drive, but so many sights to see! I found this peach/chipotle salsa that I haven't had since moving, and this noodle bowl thing that I'm about to eat in like five minutes. Also, reasonably priced mango juice.

One thing I miss about Montana is Tillamook cheese and Tim's Cascade potato chips. Maybe that's two things. But that doesn't mean I miss them any less.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

clothesline is a hard word to say

It's finally raining. It's been thundering for a good two hours now. I worked tonight until 11:00, and drove around a bit afterwards, but only a few sprinkles. So I watched an episode of the X-Files where Krycek gets him arm cut off with an awesome red-hot knife, and started 8-9pm of 24 season 2 on DVD. Somewhere around 8:04 Jack Bauer Time (1:15 local time) it started pouring.

I rented Hotel Rwanda, but I'm not sure if I'm going to watch it. Even though I've read and written about the events surrounding the film, I'm not sure I'm quite ready to see it like this, even within the confines of a talking picture. I'm not sure I'm willing to think that much, and feel that much, and I sure don't feel like getting pissed off again over the colossal failure of the West to do anything about it.

Besides, I've wanted to laugh a lot lately, and have been avoiding pure drama like the plague. Real drama based on real events would be the kiss of death for me right now. I'd be depressed for days.

So let's get back to 24 and the X-Files and Law & Order and Ed, and forget about reality for a little while longer. Yay for temporary bouts of self-induced ignorance!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

This pope could be your life



That seemed quick, but Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was named pope today, in the second day of the conclave. Now comes the American reaction, in which I assume millions of Americans will complain that he's too conservative to represent their brand of Catholicism. To which the world Catholic community will reply, "Get over it."

Two-thirds of the Catholic community (and I'm sure this is also true of the lower-case catholic church, too) can be found in the Southern Hemisphere, and possess a theology much more conservative than that found in Europe and the United States. North American Christians need to get a hold of this one fact: even though we like to believe we're at the forefront of Christian thought, when it comes to sheer numbers, we hold no monopoly on interpreting revelation. It's arrogance bordering on racism -- a belief born out of the scientific and philosophical "advancements" of the Western world -- that they somehow make us superior when compared to the "ignorance" of the Third-world church.

But as far as our voice can be heard amongst clatter of the worldwide church, we're really on the fringe.

Get over it.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Jesus is never mad with us if we live with him in our hearts.



There’s something so comforting about Taco Bell. Every time I eat real mexican food I think to myself, I’ll never eat Taco Bell again. But here I am, eating Taco Bell, and enjoying every bite. And since I have nothing better to do this late, here are things as they are, this week, last week, and everywhere else.

Then people will come to us and say, "That’s a badass bird." and then we'll say, "Thanks it’s a hawk." and they will say, "I know." and I will say, "Me too, I also know in addition to you" "Yes I know about your knowledge powers. They're legendary." "Yes I know its that way because I was born with these lips." "Yes, they say your real live lips are dipped in gold and scented with basil." "Actually they are scented with apples." "Oh they didn’t tell me." "Yes I know." and then we will give high fives and go about our business.

Republican Jesus knows that all homos are pedophiles, and want to get their hands all over little boys. And he definitely knows that if they start getting married, all the kids in America will automatically become homos and lesbians, and there will be gay sex everyone in America, even on PAX.

We are Unitarian Jihad. We will appear in public places and require people to shake hands with each other. (Sister Hand Grenade of Love suggested that we institute a terror regime of mandatory hugging, but her motion was not formally introduced because of lack of a quorum.) We will require all lobbyists, spokesmen and campaign managers to dress like trout in public. Televangelists will be forced to take jobs as Xerox repair specialists. Demagogues of all stripes will be required to read Proust out loud in prisons.

Brian McClaren: No, I'm not. I'm talking about not covering every square inch with houses and strip malls until you can't remember what happens when you stand in a meadow at dusk.
Youth Ministry Major: What happens in the meadow at dusk?
Brian McLaren: Everything.
Jim Dobson: Nothing.
Brian McLaren: Everything.
Jim Dobson: Nothing.
Brian McLaren: Everything.
Jim Dobson: Nothing.
Brian McLaren: It's beautiful.
Marky Mark: It's beautiful.

Fini

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Things that don't go together.



I couldn't help it. My First Baptist Church of Canby, Oregon was never this cool (or funny).

Also, don't be the last to discover the ecumenical wit and witticism of Unitarian Jihad. An excerpt:

"We are Unitarian Jihad. There is only God, unless there is more than one God. The vote of our God subcommittee is 10-8 in favor of one God, with two abstentions. Brother Flaming Sword of Moderation noted the possibility of there being no God at all, and his objection was noted with love by the secretary."

My Unitarian Jihad Name is: Brother Howitzer of Kind Compassion. What's yours?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Name it and claim it.

"It's as good as I remember. Lord, how they've changed it in our 'parlors' these days. Christ is one of the 'family' now. I often wonder if God recognizes His own son the way we've dressed him up, or is it dressed him down? He's a regular peppermint stick now, all sugar-crystal and saccharine when he isn't making veiled references to certain commercial products that every worshiper absolutely needs."

If we had read more books like this and less Henry James short stories, I might have graduated an English major, too.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Wal-Mart's Union Woes: The Continuing Saga



Wal-Mart is in the news again, this time for allegedly bribing some of its employees to report back on union activities. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that former Vice Chairman Tom Coughlin may have paid associates under the table in return for "outing" pro-union employees.

Wal-Mart has had its problems with unions in the past, but using a "slush-fund" to secretly purchase names friendly to unions is a far cry from simply voicing a public opposition to company unionization. Apparently it's illegal, as the United Food and Commercial Workers' Union has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.

Read the entire Reuters report here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

at least they're sorry?



{Okay, maybe it was funnier on the TV...}

Before Charles and Camilla could have their marriage blessed by the Church of England, they had to repent a bit -- mainly for a 34-year "indescretion" that ended in the failure of both their previous marriages.

We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, by thought, word and deed, Against thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, And are heartily sorry for these our misdoings...

Words fail me....luckily, giggles come easier.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

George W. Bush cozies up to a much-loved figure. Instead of throwing up, I choose to weep.



President Bush pays tribute to the life of Pope John Paul II:

"And by his own courageous example in the face of illness and suffering, he showed us the path to a culture of life where the dignity of every human person is respected, and human life at all its stages is revered and treasured."

This phrase "culture of life" has become very important to the Bush Administration in promoting restrictions against abortion, embryonic stem-cell research and euthanasia. And President Bush found common ground with the Pope on these and other issues regarding the value of human life.

In a press conference last Monday, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan tried to drive that point home, using the "culture of life" phrase four times in describing the relationship between President Bush and Pope John Paul II, who met three times during Bush's Presidency:

"The Holy Father is someone who stood for freedom, for human dignity and promoting a culture of life. And there are many values that the President shared with the Holy Father, and he had great respect for his moral leadership in this world."

But aligning the President with the Pope can also bring out the differences between the two men. When asked about the Pope's opposition to the death penalty, and how Bush's support of capital punishment doesn't quite jive with his embracing the Pope's "culture of life," McClellan responded:

"I think the President's views are well known. I don't think now is the time to talk about where they may have differed on one or two areas. This is a time to honor a great moral leader, someone who, as the President said, was a hero for the ages."

Oh yes, we can talk about the Pope and the President as long as we talk about the issues they agreed upon. Good show, Mr. McClellan.

The White House Press Corps didn't give up that easily, however.

Reporter: "Does the President see it as a contradiction that he adopts only part of what Pope John Paul said was the culture of life?"

McClellan: "No, let's separate out -- I mean, because I spoke about this issue last week, and why the President's view is the way it is. And that's because we're talking about the difference between innocent life and someone who is guilty of horrific crimes..."

Fair enough then, but one occasion in the States, the Pope made his response to that line of reasoning well known. Speaking of the increasing number of countries banning the death penalty, he said, "A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil."

Another issue that the Pope and President Bush disagreed vehemently on was the War in Iraq. While many this past week have tried to downplay the Pope's opposition to the war, the fact remains that in March of 2003, Pope John Paul II felt that the impending war with Iraq was "Immoral, illegal, unjust."

Pretty hefty language, essentially calling the war sinful, against the law, and in opposition to the just character of God.

It's one thing to say that President Bush and the Pope agreed on some matters concerning the value of human life. It's another thing to spin their agreements with the phrase "culture of life" which ignores how extreme their disagreements were. While not an outright lie, using the phrase is most certainly a half-truth, failing to point out the obvious: according to Bush the "culture of life" does not extend to everyone. And many conservative Protestants and Catholics have bought it, hook, line and sinker.

What's worse is that no one cares much anymore when the White House spins half-truths and omissions like this anymore, because it's been done so often that we've become immune to it. It's just one more lie.

But who cares? It's just one little lie -- It's not like it's gonna kill anyone...

Right.

Friday, April 08, 2005

John Cornyn makes a fool of himself. And I throw up on important documents.



A few days ago House majority leader Tom DeLay had a few choice words for the judges who failed to put Terri Schiavo back on her feeding tube. "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior." In case you missed it, that was a thinly veiled threat aimed at the judiciary, not for failing to do their job properly, but for failing to agree with Delay's opinion on the Schiavo case.

No matter what your opinion on the "right to die," it's impossible to deny that the courts did not properly execute their function. They did what they get paid to do: read massive amounts of information, hear expert testimony, take arguments from both parties, then make a well-informed decision. Most members of Congress would be hard-pressed to admit that they took the time and energy to do the same, yet they felt the need to step in anyway. Good for them.

DeLay wasn't the only Congressman making waves after the rulings. Senator John Cornyn (Tex-R) had this to say on the Senate floor.

"I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. Certainly nothing new, but we seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that's been on the news and I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in - engage in violence."

Yeah, that's right. Let's link my distaste for a few judges with the recent violence resulting in 3 deaths in Atlanta and the death of a judge's husband and mother in Chicago. Nevermind that the former was done by a convicted criminal in an escape attempt and the latter by a lunatic who had a lawsuit thrown out by the judge in question. No, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, I believe these judges in particular were the victims of a public outcry against all judges who let their political opinions get in the way of their rulings.

....Hey, it's Jonny again. Give me a minute while I collect my thoughts....

Okay, so yet another thinly veiled threat, this one very nearly excusing the aforementioned murders based on the recent actions of so-called "activist" judges. While DeLay's statement just seemed like misguided frustration, Cornyn's tirade on the Senate floor should have caused the entire state of Texas to call for his immediate resignation (apparently it didn't, because he's still a Senator). Excuse while I throw up on both the separation of powers and the sixth commandment.

In a related story, Conor Oberst recently had a few choice words for a Texas crowd during a Bright Eyes show: "I'd put a fucking gun to my head before I'd live in your state."

Personally, I think Conor can be a bratty-assed kid half the time. But truthfully, I'd like to take that one step further tonight and just replace "state" with "country."

Dont get me wrong, I love my country. But some days, I kind of hate it, too.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

on how over the rhine stole my heart



A Review of Drunkard's Prayer

I need to get a tape recorder.

This is my first thought as I feel/hear the rumble that marks my slow drift across the single white line to the left of Highway 50 -- those gutteral bumps warning me that I'm dangerously close to crashing my sweet, little car into the ditch, whereafter I'd enjoy either a quick, fiery, explosive release, or a slow, crushing, painful death. It would have been weird to have died on the same day as Pope John Paul II, but that, in fact, was not my fate.

Luckily, I had the sense to drop my pen and stop trying to write down my first thoughts upon hearing Over the Rhine's new release, Drunkard's Prayer. Also luckily, I had two more pens handy so that I didn't have to go searching for the one I dropped under my seat. I'm usually pretty good at writing while not looking at the page being written upon. However, I am not so hot at writing while steering a ton of plastic and metal through a rain storm while also trying to maintain the velocity of a cheetah pursuing its prey. Is this something I should practice more often in order to achieve competency? My conscience says no....but it'd be pretty darn cool if that were the thing I was best at.

Anyways, let's get this one fact out of the way first: Linford Detweiler composes amazing waltzes. This seems a lost art nowadays -- the art of the waltz. 3/4 time isn't so cool in pop music anymore, except as a rare novelty. Linford blows the dust from the bookcase and the socks off 99% of today's songwriters and brings it back into fashion like it's his job. Because it is. This man writes songs. And damn good ones at that.

Not to minimize the contributions of his wife/songwriting partner, Karin Bergquist. Karin's voice flew off its hinges on Ohio, belting out Gospelish and Countryesque pop songs like a blind badger in a room full of midgets. *I have absolutely no idea what that means, either. But it still seems to perfectly describe how Karin kicks the ass of every lyric she meets, making it her own, whether written by her own hand, her husband's, or some famous guestwriter like Neil Young, Dido or Jagger/Richards.*

They make quite a team, these two. And Drunkard's Prayer is a living testament to the strength of the blood that flows between their veins. Recorded in the living room of the Grey Ghost, the old house of many stories told to rapt audiences all across the midwest, Drunkard's Prayer sounds like Over the Rhine without really mimicking any of their previous records. Though it is another home recording, it lacks the bare-bones, apartment-starkness of Good Dog Bad Dog. It's definitely a post-Ohio home record, yet it doesn't try to duplicate the heights and richness of that album either. It stands alone, like the cheese at the end of "The Farmer and the Dell," content to radiate a warmth and uniqueness all its own.

That being said, most of these songs would not have felt all that out of place on Ohio. It's when they're brought together in this way (a pinch of this, a dab of that) that things take on the shape and color of Drunkard's Prayer. I'm sure much is being written as we speak of how Karin and Linford's marriage nearly fell apart sometime last year, and how only through ending their tour early and returning to the Grey Ghost to hash things out did they rekindle the old blah, blah, blah...

I'm sure there's a great story behind every album, but you won't find that here. What we're talking about here isn't the facts of the album, it's the fictions that listening to this album creates. It's wondering if Detweiler/Bergquist would have been bigger than James Taylor and Carol King had their albums come out in the early 70s. It's wondering how long it would have taken before they toured the country with Neil Young & Crazy Horse. It's wondering what Shoot Out The Lights would have felt like had Richard & Linda Thompson stayed up late sipping wine until everything that needed to be said had been said. No one writes music like this these days. Jackson Browne couldn't make an album like this again were he to sell his soul to God and Satan. And to top it off, Mr. Browne's voice has got nothing on Ms. Bergquist's. Why Ohio didn't go double platinum and grace the cover of Rolling Stone is a testament to the power of the fleetingness of public fashion. Double albums went out of vogue some time ago, just like the waltz, upright bass, and the sax solo (we can thank Kenny G for murdering our appetite for the latter). And throwback albums only work these days if you sound like Duran Duran, Gang of Four or Joy Division. Somehow we skipped from MC5 and Iggy Pop to New Wave without realizing what we missed.

Growing up means inadvertently growing old as well. And growing old means thinking of the future as not just the future, but as the here and now. But wherever my here, and whenever my now, I want to have Karin and Linford along for the ride. It might be the biggest commitment I've ever made in my so-far fairly short life, but Over the Rhine are the one band I want to grow old with. I've had my one-night stands (Dave Matthews/bad idea); my summer flings (Chris Carrabba); my bad breakups with high-school bands I never that I'd part with (Pearl Jam); I've had my on-again-off-again crushes (Fiona Apple) and my decade-long friendships (Oh, Rivers). But Karen and Linford are the only songwriters I want to stick with through thick and thin -- to buy their albums with eager eyes and hopeful ears. To consume whatever it is that they're fixin'. Who cares if Drunkard's Prayer isn't the best album they've made so far? It is a damn fine album, and it desires my time and energy. It depends on it. It commands it. And it deserves it.

If you haven't heard much Over the Rhine, Ohio and Good Dog Bad Dog might be better places to start. But you'll miss out on the agonizing first minute of track three, where you might go mad waiting for Karen to sing something, all the while enjoying the sounds of the Grey Ghost in summer as Linford plays along with the crickets. You'll miss OtR's aching version of My Funny Valentine, where Linford plays like he does on his solo recordings (lounging, with awkward pauses) while an upright bass courtesy of Byron House makes it sound like a lost gem from The Darkest Night of the Year. And you'll miss Karin's first words of the album, so important that she repeats them not once, but twice, "I want you to be my love."

Because, in the end, cutting away the fictions and the fat and the rating of this album alongside the rest of the OtR catalogue, this is a record about longing, and foolishness, and quiet nights, and bends along the roads that lead home. It's a subtle album, recorded at home, with friends and family, offered at twilight with eyes uncertain, yet filled with the warmth of the midday sun.

It's the closest thing to going home you'll find short of being transported back in time. And it's a little bit of that, too. It does not disappoint.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Pope and Robots



I can't say that I've had a whole lot to say about John Paul II's passing, simply because of the nature of my faith. It's sad to me in the same way it was to hear of the death of Stanley Grenz some weeks back. I wish I had wiser or more profound things to say, but I don't. Swing on by Midwest Mindset for my friend Adam's thoughts, or throw in your two cents on some of the other things we've been discussing recently if you've got the time.

Or, if you're in a totally different mood, check out this kid's angelfire website that Brandon P. forwarded on to me. You can't go wrong with robots, especially super robots.

Monday, April 04, 2005

tbcbyl - now with twice the commenting power!

Just because.

And one more thing, there is a breeze coming through my window. Not a smacks-of-the-tundra-freeze-your-ass-off-where's-my-jacket kind of breeze, but a real-live, soft breeze.

Also, the Fiery Furnaces rock my face off.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

p.s.

Today is Opening Day. Open well and make merry, my friends.

And to New York and Boston, you will both go down this year. Hard. Take that, Money McMoneypants!

I was wrong.



(This blog has become a bit fixated on spring and/or music as of late. If that's not alright with you then you're probably either dead and/or Charles Darwin-slash-John Maynard Keynes (no offense dead people who have died in the past week (famous and/or otherwise)))

Not real sure where to put the period on that one. Anyways...

Last August or September (I can't really remember which) Rilo Kiley's new full-length More Adventurous was released by Brute/Beaute to quite a bit of fanfare in the mainstream press. I thought it sucked. I was very, very wrong. It is good.

But here's the thing. This is no fall album. This is a March/April album for sure. It sounds ten times, nay 70 x 7 times better in the spring than it did during the awful month that was November 2004. This is green grass and random swearsies and slide guitar. Also, Jenny Lewis' makes-me-weak-in-the-knees voice. If this is what being wrong feels like, I never want to be right again. And that's mostly not melodramady. I just really like good music.

So yay for More Adventurous! Yay for false first impressions! And yay for April showers!

Next, more music news, as I receive my brand new copy of Drunkard's Prayer by Over the Rhine in the mail. Boy howdy!

Friday, April 01, 2005

tilde lists and tintinnabulations



~Ed is on TBS everyday at 11:00am (12 ET).

~I gave up television for a while around the midpoint of Ed season 3.

~Season 3 is airing as we speak.

~Sabrina Lloyd was my favorite part about Sports Night.

~Sabrina Lloyd is on Ed season 3.

~I work nights.

~I watch Ed at 11:00 every weekday morning, quite contently.

~Seacrest out.