Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pure Genius

One of the brightest political and theological minds of our time recently weighed in on the earthquakes in China:

Sharon Stone left Chinese journalists stunned at the Cannes Film Festival in France last week when she suggested the country's recent earthquake was "karma." The outspoken actress was talking to a Chinese media outlet on Thursday when she linked the recent disaster, which left more than 67,000 people dead, to China's recent treatment of Tibetans. She said, "All these earthquakes and stuff happened and I thought, 'Is that karma?' When you are not nice, bad things happen to you. I'm not happy about how the Chinese are treating the Tibetans, I don't think anyone should be unkind to anyone else. They're not being very nice to the Dali Lama, who's a good friend of mine." See the story here.

So, a brutally oppressive regime acts unjustly toward its neighbor (and even against its own people) therefore the Cosmos reacts by killing 67,000 people who probably had nothing to do with the injustice against the Dali Lama or the Tibetans. How is this not as thoughtless as anything that Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell has said about God and Katrina or 9-11? Think she will face any repercussions?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Now That's a Shot at Me...

Recently spent some time in Garland, TX (suburb of Dallas). Saw some guys that really mean alot to me. While there, one of them, when he showed up for a gathering at B-Mc's house said, "All of my favorite people are here." Later I was thinking about it and I agreed with him that my favorite people were there. The T-Man then shoots back, "You would think, if you had all of your favorite people in one single geographical location, you wouldn't move ten hours away." Zing!

A couple of days later I am riding with Jonny Rocket. I was explaining a health issue that if I really wanted it to get better I would have to give up drinking any beverages with a high acid make up, that includes soft drinks, fruit juices and coffee. I have given up soft drinks during the weekdays but wasn't looking forward to giving up coffee. I said the first few days would be horrible and I would be cranky and irritable and really hating life and making things miserable for everyone around me. Jonny Rocket then replies, "How is that different from any day now?" Zing again.
Got to love your friends...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Try These Songs Out for Summer Fun

These are songs that are just fun to sing along to and make you wish you were riding in your car with the top down on a sunny day (unless you do not have a convertible, then the top down is a catastrophe). 30 songs, how many do you own? How many do you like? (How many have you never heard of?) Make your own list, tell me what you think of mine.

Chicken Payback – Band of Bees – This songs sounds straight out of some 60s dance movies.

Saturday in the Park – Chicago – Slow motion rider, flies the colors of the day…

Generals and Majors – XTC – ignore the sentiment behind the song, it is just bouncy pop fun.

Mr. Blue Sky – ELO – very familiar song by an underrated band

Bossa Nova Baby – Elvis Presley – this song makes you want to learn the Bossa Nova

Learn to Fly – Foo Fighters – great rock with good melody

Huddle Formation – The Go! Team – sounds like the combination of a double dutch team and a cheer squad.

Town Called Malice – The Jam – fun ska tune by a very serious commie songwriter

John Saw That Number – Neko Case – southern gospel goodness

David – Nellie McKay – bouncy cabaret style pop song

Here Comes Your Man – The Pixies - pre-grunge rock pioneers

Live Forever – Oasis – I think of the return of Christ when I hear this song (not a religious song at all, however)

King of the World – Old 97s – great alt country band who put out a great rock/pop cd a few years ago.

Too Much Information – The Police – horn driven greatness

Express Yourself – NWA - one of the few rap songs that I have

Bodysnatchers – Radiohead – don’t think of them and fun, but this song is perfect for cruising with your buddies.

I’m the Man Who Loves You – Wilco - greatness

Blitzkrieg Bop – Ramones – Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!

What’d I Say – Ray Charles – was the first 45 that was continued on the backside of the record

New York – Ryan Adams – great songwriter

Turn a Square – The Shins – Natalie was wrong, they didn’t change my life, but I am thankful for this song.

Hot Fun in the Summertime – Sly and the Family Stone – I hear he may be touring again. Might be worth a listen.

Glue Girls – Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – I will keep “pimpin’” these boys until you have bought something from them

Man of Metropolis (who steals our hearts)

Summertime – The Sundays – I think Harriet Wheeler has the voice of an angel

Goodbye Stranger – Supertramp – great song from a great album

Don’t Lets Start – They Might Be Giants – reminds me of my friend Pete Vogel, I don’t know why, I need to get a hold of him.

Boys Are Back in Town – Thin Lizzy – did you know they were from Dublin?

Everybody Have Fun Tonight – Wang Chung – in fact, don’t you think we all should Wang Chung tonight?

Fell In Love With a Girl – The White Stripes - simple garage band song that is pure greatness.

In Honor of MAN

My friend, MAN, used to give me a fun fact of the day when we were in college. Just some random bit of trivia that had no impact on my life but was interesting nevertheless. I have a MAN fun fact for today:

More than 100,000 people die each year in US hospitals from preventable errors. That is more than those who will die in the US from AIDS, breast cancer, and car crashes combined.
Now, make it a good day.

(Info courtesy of Fast Company magazine, May 2008)

Another one you ask? More people die each year from falling coconuts than from shark attacks. My source, a friend of mine who lives in Brazil. (Not as solid of a source, but I trust him).

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Concert Experience

We left Columbia for the concert at 5:30. The show was supposed to start at 7pm, but since when do concerts ever start on time. From Columbia to the Verizon Amphitheater, it is about 100 miles, so we figured to get there right at 7. We didn’t count on getting stuck in construction traffic for 45 minutes, however. That put us out 90 miles at 6:15. Anymore delays and I would start to get nervous. We get to the place, have to wait in line to park, but we moved pretty quickly. After parking, getting through security and the gate, a stop at the “Johnny on the Spot”, we were in our seats at 8:12. I was a little disappointed, because I didn’t see the opening act and didn’t hear them on the way in. Thought we would have to hear the opening act go on at 8:30 and then Radiohead sometime around 9:15. Oh well…At about 8:24, a few guys straggle on to stage, unassuming and unannounced. It was Radiohead! Perfect timing. The show began before 8:30, which was great for me, looking at a 2 hour ride back to Columbia.

Some thoughts while watching the show: Even when I was drinking, I would never drink at concerts. I didn’t have any money ($9 for a 20 oz. beer!?) and I came to watch the show, not get hammered. The guys in our row made two beer runs and two bathroom runs. What a waste. BTW, I do not believe in the myth of the contact high. We had a few people firing up “the herb” all around us and it didn’t faze me at all. Then we had 6 people all light cigarettes at the same time. Kill me. I think I would rather smell pot than cigarettes.

Two hour concert (which was fantastic, see review below). We get to the car at 10:48, roll out of our spot and stop almost immediately…for an hour and twenty minutes! We weren’t even creeping; we were stopped with our car off and watching all of the drunk and stoned concert goers look for their cars. Hey, Live Nation, how about directing traffic OUT of the venue. Seeing an opening that originally looked like you were going the wrong way, we get out and finally get on the road about 12:30 and then get home at 2:30am.

Anyway, the memory still lingers of a great show, despite a few opportunities for it to be stolen. Now, should I look into getting tickets to Coldplay (they are in KC in July. I’ve seen them once, great show, but…) Death Cab for Cutie is in Columbia in two weeks. I will probably go and listen but not pay (outdoor show downtown).

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Concert Review: Radiohead

Radiohead is early into their North American tour and they stopped in St. Louis last night to play at the Verizon Amphitheater (formerly Riverport). In a curious move, they did not allow the video screens to be used. I don’t know if that extended to the lawn section, but the screens were turned off for the concert. There was a screen behind the stage that showed the perspective of several stationary cameras that were focused on various members of the band all night. They showed with some cool effects and maybe that is the reason behind turning the big screens off. The actual stage itself was nothing fancy, just the band and its equipment. And equipment! Jonny, Ed and Thom changed instruments after every song. Above the stage and extending down almost to the front of the stage were these tubes that reflected a very creative and artistic light show.

Not a lot of chatter between songs. I don’t mind that at all. The last thing I want at a concert that I spent $60 for is for some Brit to tell me how to vote or how bad our government is. The only political statements I saw were Tibetan flags draping Thom’s piano and another one off to the side of the stage.

It was fun watching my wife’s reaction to Thom’s “dancing”. She didn’t know much about them and if you didn’t know what he was doing, you’d think it was a bit. Thom Yorke looks like a cross between Clay Aiken and Ed Grimley.

The band sounded excellent. It was pretty crowded, but the crowd did not sound very vocal, but that is due to the outdoor amphitheater affect. The show began with an odd choice (I felt) “All I Need” from In Rainbows. They played all of the songs off of their new cd. Only one b-side song played all night (“Bangers and Mash”).

The first five or so songs were kind of laid back but they ramped up the volume and the mood soon after. Best song of the night was “Bodysnatchers” off the new release. Second best song was “My Iron Lung,” third was “Fake Plastic Trees.” My wife loved “Idioteque”, “My Iron Lung” and “You and Who’s Army” which featured Thom on piano mugging into a tiny camera. Biggest reactions from the crowd were to “Fake Plastic Trees” and “Paranoid Android” (which I always thought was overrated, but they knocked it out of the park last night).

We had great weather, and the show was fantastic. For some reason, I enjoyed "There There" the most (it's my second favorite song by them). The more that I reflect on the evening, this show may have been in my top three shows that I have ever enjoyed. The band got better as the night went on. I have heard how good they are live, and I experienced true musical greatness last night.

Full Set List:

All I Need
Jigsaw Falling Into Place
15 Steps
Faust Arp
Kid A
Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
The Gloaming
You and Who’s Army
Nude (with only Thom and Jonny on acoustic guitars)
Everyone in Its Right Place
Bangers and Mash
Encore #1
Exit Music (for a Film)
My Iron Lung
There There
Fake Plastic Trees
Encore #2
Pyramid Song
House of Cards
Paranoid Android

Below is a sampling of Thom's dancing during "Idioteque" from last night. Ignore the sound, watch Ed Grimley work.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Answers to the Classic Rock Quiz

Here are the answers to the wildly popular classic rock quiz.

1. I found the "simple life" weren't so simple, no, when I jumped out on that road. ("Running with the Devil" by Van Halen. You want a good laugh, go find the David Lee Roth track singing without the music to this song floating around the web.)
2. "Some stupid with a flare gun", burnt the place to the ground. ("Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple).
3. Strange brew, cures what's inside of you. ("Strange Brew" by Cream).
4. I woke up this morning, don't believe what I saw, hundred million bottles washed up on the shore. ("Message in a Bottle" by the Police).
5. "A bronze man" still can tell stories his own way. ("Saturday in the Park" by Chicago).

Thanks for playing, look for the home version coming to a store near you soon.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Everyone's Got a Bit...and Classic Rock Quiz

A little more on the Evangelical Manifesto. They are encouraging evangelicals who agree with the document to go online and attach their names as signatures. But, it our society, everyone has to have a bit (or turn something into their own little joke).
I noticed one of the early signatories was a young lady named Bethany Buffon, who is a Wiccan UConn engineering student. O.K., I guess she might have some interest in this document. Later on I noticed Craig Thornton, Atheist/USA signed on. Alright, is this going to become a bit? When am I going to see Amanda Hugginkiss on the list? Well, keep scrolling down and you will see: B. L. Zeebub signed on. Now that's high comedy.

Classic Rock Quiz
Here is another classic rock quiz, answer the question, name the band and the song that the answer is from. This is a little harder than my last one.

*I found that "something" wasn't so simple, when I jumped out on that road. What was that "something"?
*Who burnt the place to the ground?
*When I woke up this morning, I couldn't believe what I saw. What did I see?
*What will cure what's inside of you?
*Who can still tell stories his own way? (Hardest question).

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Dobson was asked to sign after all

The Christian Post has the story and the direct quote here.

“James Dobson, founder of the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, reviewed the document and was invited to sign it, but did not, said Gary Schneeberger, a spokesman for Dobson. Dobson consulted the group’s board of directors — a common practice — and the board agreed he shouldn’t sign “due to myriad concerns about the effort,” Schneeberger said.”

“One of the things that disappointed Dr. Dobson was that when the manifesto was initially circulated, no African-American pastors or theologians were on the invite list,” Schneeberger said. “His thinking was, ‘How can this purport to represent the voice of evangelicals when people so vital to who we are as a movement are excluded from involvement?’” . . .

Yes, I am sure that is one of the major reasons Dobson didn't sign (and nothing to do with the fact that he is completely and unashamedly partisan).


Below is an excerpt from an article by Christine Wicker on the Religion News Service (clipped from the Dallas Morning News), with some sobering thoughts about the power of evangelicals and their role in the political process.

The truth is that evangelical Christianity has had almost no influence on the country at large. Fifty years ago, the moral stances taken by evangelicals that now seem so reactionary were then commonly accepted. Abortion was abhorred. Children were rarely born out of wedlock. Homosexual behavior was hidden and considered not only morally wrong but also an indication of mental illness. Unmarried couples rarely lived together.

All that has changed.

The truth is that after more than 20 years of political action and many electoral victories, the so-called religious right has achieved few of its objectives. Abortion is still legal. The idea that gays and lesbians are normal people, behaving normally and entitled to equal rights is widely accepted.

Is she right? How should evangelicals respond?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

An Important Document

Several key leaders in the conservative Christian movement (Evangelicals) have signed their names to a document called "An Evangelical Manifesto."
I have only scanned the document, but I really like what I have read. They define what it means to be Evangelical and then they point to what the response of Evangelicals to the culture in many arenas should be.
Some key names for me as charter signatories:

Mark Bailey, President, Dallas Theological Seminary, Darrell Bock, Research Professor of New Testament, Dallas Theological Seminary; Ergun Caner, President, Liberty Theological Seminary/Author; Mark Batterson, Pastor of National Community Church in D.C.; Kay Arthur; Leighton Ford; Walter Kaiser, OT prof from Gordon-Conwell; Max Lucado; Rebecca Manley Pippert; Bob Roberts, Pastor of NorthWoods Church in Keller, TX.

Some pretty conservative names on that list. Correction from previous post: conflicting info on James Dobson. A spokesman says he has not seen the document nor been asked to sign. (I had seen an earlier report that said he would not sign. I will go with the CNN report for now.)

Friday, May 2, 2008

How Different It Could Have Been

I was living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area when Chase Daniel was a stud high school quarterback for the Southlake Carroll Dragons. His size kept a lot of D-1 schools away (although he put up unreal numbers in high school and lost only one game in his career). Gary Pinkel was looking to install the spread offense and recruited the spread offense master (Chase) to the University of Missouri. The University of Texas had a verbal commitment from another stud Texas quarterback who had the physical tools reminiscent of Vince Young and Reggie McNeal. That quarterback was Ryan Perrilloux. Perrilloux backed out of his commitment to Texas and went instead to LSU. Texas then switched their attention to Chase Daniel (who at the time had only verbally committed to Mizzou). Chase kept his word to Mizzou even though it was his dream to play QB at Texas (as had his high school coach, Todd Dodge).
First, think about how things might have been different if Perrilloux had originally committed to LSU and Texas would have turned their initial attention to Daniel. Or, if Daniel had changed his mind to go to Texas.
Wonder what happened to young Mr. Perrilloux? See this article on