Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday. . . And Resurrection

But He was wounded for our transgressions;
He was bruised for our iniquities
Upon Him was the chastisement that made us whole,
And with His stripes we are healed.

(The Book of Isaiah, Chapter 53, verse 5)


(edit Easter Sunday morning, April 24)

The rest of the story -

"Death is swallowed up in victory."
"Where, O death, is your victory?
O death, where is you sting?"     (I Corinthians 15:54-55)

". . . he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus
and bring us with you into His presence."  (II Corinthians 4:14)

I wish a very happy and blessed Easter - the Feast of the Resurrection - to all my friends.

(Here is last year's Easter post, if anyone is interested;
and here are three more, from my old blog.)


(The photo is one I took myself at Cross In the Woods, up north at Indian River, MI.  The cool 'cloud/halo effect' is completely serendipitous, as the sun, which was very bright against a richly blue sky that day, was just outside the frame of the photo.  In my efforts to get a good angle on the crucifix (I wanted Jesus to be more-or-less 'looking down at' the viewer), while keeping the sun out of the picture, I got a reflection inside the camera, and the effect was simply golden. . .)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

If I Had a Hammer

I was sorting through some old family photos recently, and I came across one that has a funny story attached to it. A story which I told once, way back when, in my old blog. And so I thought you all might get some enjoyment from me re-posting the story, and this time with the photo attached. . .


When he was little, our son 4M (now 20) was fascinated by 'working man stuff' - tools and machinery and suchlike. One summer, the city re-worked our sewers, which meant that the street was torn up all summer, and a whole menagerie of heavy equipment passed in front of our porch the whole time. 4M was in juvenile testosterone heaven.

Hammers, in particular, held a kind of 'Jungian archetypal' fascination for him. A hammer was like a symbol of power for him - "I hammer, therefore I am". Jen bought him a little tack-hammer, and he carried that hammer around with him like it was the Mighty Hammer of Thor.

Of course, this also took us into the realms of parental nonsense - "I gave you this hammer, but don't hammer anything." I eventually gave him a 2-foot chunk of scrap two-by-four and a little box of nails, so he could hammer away to his little heart's content.

One time I was working on some minor maintenance project, which required the use of my hammer. I brought 4M along with me, thinking that I could give him a few small hammering jobs where he could actually be helpful, and he was. But he also noticed that Dad's hammer was bigger than his, which made perfect sense in his three-year-old cosmology - Dad was bigger and more powerful than he was, so it only stood to reason that Dad would have a bigger hammer. And it was hard to miss the vaguely (or maybe not-so-vaguely) phallic uh, Freudian aspect of it.

That year for Christmas, we went to my parents' house for the holidays. One day while we were there, the wheels got to turning in 4M's head - if Grandpa is Dad's dad, then. . . He went to my dad and asked, "Grandpa, how big is your hammer?" My dad didn't understand the question, and asked him to repeat it.

"How big is your hammer, Grandpa?"

My dad gave a little chuckle, got up from where he was sitting, and went down into the basement, calling "I'll be right back" over his shoulder as he went. A minute later, he returned, carrying a 12-pound sledge-hammer.

4M's eyes bulged out of their sockets. "Oh, Grandpa - you've got a BIIIIIG hammer!"

"That's right," my dad told him. "And don't you forget it!" While we all rolled on the floor. . .


And please join me in wishing a very Happy 13th Birthday to 7M, thus restoring our family to its traditional allotment of three teenagers. . .

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Some of My Favorite Recordings

A while ago, my friend Suldog posted a pair of lists of 15 Recordings (analogous to the book lists that were going around a year or two ago), both his own and his swell pal Cricket's. Worthy lists, both of 'em, and of course, it got me to thinking what a similar list of my own might look like (I did post this, once-upon-a-time, but that was single songs, rather than complete albums). I left a long comment at Suldog's, but it probably should've been a post in its own right, and so I'm here to set that particular little wrinkle in the space-time continuum to right (and because I'm just lazy enough to copy my own comments on someone else's post into a post of my own, knowing that some of you never go to Suldog's, and would never know the difference).

I'm sure that my music collection is nowhere near as large or as varied as either Suldog's or Cricket's. Both of them complained of the rigors of trimming their list down to only 15 entries. I would have the opposite problem - putting together a list as LONG as 15 that isn't just 'Everything the Beatles Ever Did' (and that doesn't get you to 15 by itself, anyway). But then, I'm the guy whose list of 15 Books expanded to include a few dozen, distributed over three posts; counting (or maybe just social co-operativeness) has never ranked high on my list (HAH! 'list' - get it?)

So I'll do what I always do, and just give a kind of impressionistic hodge-podge of some of my favorite stuff (however many of them there may be), and see how it slides down the wall. . . (in no particular order)

Abbey Road is, of course, a given. As Cricket mentioned, there is a worthy discussion to be had as to the relative merits of Abbey Road, Sgt. Pepper and Revolver (and there are those who would include the White Album in that discussion; but seriously - "Number Nine, Number Nine, Number Nine. . ."?; there are a few wasted track there. . .) But AR is the greatest band of all time at the pinnacle of their craft.

Band On the Run; is it OK for me to put a McCartney album on the same list as The Beatles? Honestly, though, I think this is a great album - not a single weak track on it. (I'd like to give a mention to Sir Paul's Ram, as well; I think it's a much better album than it generally gets credit for. . .)

Best of Dark Horse, George Harrison; are you picking up a trend here? I'd generally resist including a 'best-of' compilation in a list like this, but I found this one in a used-CD shop, and just found it irresistible. And, since I had basically stopped listening to George after Living In the Material World, this came to me as utterly fresh (and it was good to know that he actually had some good stuff left after 1975. . .)

I also love John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band; it's so simple and raw (though I don't particularly endorse his theology, here or on Imagine).

OK, I won't try your patience with any more Beatle or ex-Beatle stuff (unless you need me to mention Ringo, just for the sake of ex-Beatle completeness; which was a nice album, don't get me wrong. . .) (And I haven't even mentioned any of the live albums, like McCartney's Tripping the Live Fantastic, or the Concert for George. . .)

A few of my favorites of what might be called 'classic rock' (at least those are the stations that would play 'em anymore. . .)

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, Simon & Garfunkel; 'The Poet and the One-Man Band'. Love their urban-folky style, and Artie's sublime voice and harmonies. I might rather include one or another of their many 'greatest hits' collections, but for just one original album, this is probably my favorite. . .

Cosmo's Factory, Creedence Clearwater Revival; Creedence is just plain fun (which, come to think of it, is also why I fell in love with the Beatles in the beginning). And what I said about S&G is true here, as well; I could probably just include a 'greatest hits', but this is my favorite of their original albums. . .

Tommy, The Who; the original rock opera. I can't tell you how many hours I spent in my teens, listening to this record. "I climb the mountain, I get excited. . ." Classic rock at its finest. . .

Brain Salad Surgery, Emerson, Lake and Palmer; I love ELP's rock/classical synthesis, and Keith Emerson's keyboard virtuosity most especially (in my college days, I was more of a piano/keyboard player). A story - one day, when I was in grad school, I was in an electronics lab, and they had us doing stuff with a frequency generator. When the lab was over, I had a little extra time to fiddle around with the equipment, and I saw a pair of headphones in the equipment box, so I plugged 'em into the freq-generator, just to see what the different-shaped waves sounded like. They were mostly pretty unremarkable, until I got to the square wave, which had a unique, buzzy sound that I could swear I'd heard before. Suddenly, it hit me - 'Lucky Man'! Emerson's keyboard solo in 'Lucky Man' was a square wave! So I spent the next 20 minutes twiddling the dials on the freq-generator, trying to play the 'Lucky Man' solo. Man, I was such a wild man in college. . .

Aqualung, Jethro Tull; you might think I include this purely for the lyric, "Snot is running down his nose. . ." and I admit, that's a powerful attraction, but mainly, I love Ian Anderson's rocked-out take on the Bach Bouree. . .

I love fingerstyle acoustic guitar music; three of my favorites -

LJ, Laurence Juber
Only, Tommy Emmanuel
Beyond Nature, Phil Keaggy

Each of these guys is simply a wizard on six strings (and having seen each of them in concert, I can testify that most of the stuff that sounds like three guys are playing, is being played by one guy, all by himself, at the same time. . .)

And some smooth jazz -

One on One, Bob James and Earl Klugh; a shout-out to Jim and Dick, a pair of college buddies of mine, who put me onto smooth jazz, and Earl Klugh most especially. His Late Night Guitar, Naked Guitar, or Solo Guitar could also be included on this list.

Since I keep mentioning my favorite rock/classical syntheses, maybe I should mention my favorite classical pieces. Which would start with Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C-sharp Minor (his Prelude in G Minor is also a favorite of mine), and continue with Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata (which is actually called Sonata Quasi Una Fantasia, or something like that). Neither of those are album-length pieces, though (I do have a recording of Beethoven's three great piano sonatas - the Moonlight, the Pathetique, and the Apassionata; so you can count that if you really require only full-album recordings). Anyway, as you can see, I like my classical music on the dark and brooding side . .

So - what do you think?