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Archive for February, 2011

Fleshly Appetites

Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach. The Protestant...

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Who said this? “I am no longer encumbered by the appetites of the flesh.”

A. Augustine of Hippo

B. Martin Luther, 16th century church reformer

C. Ace Ventura, pet detective

Answer:C

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My Computer Knows Me Too Well

What am I thinking about? It’s so depressing. I turn on my computer and immediately I am confronted with weight-loss programs, exercise videos and cosmetic surgeons, all based on my history of google hits. Trivial matters, that may have spent a nanosecond occupying my brain, are now alive on the sidebar. A jiggling belly vies for my attention as I attempt to contemplate philosophical questions about the meaning of existence and where to go to get my dog groomed. Weighty matters, but not as compellingly weighty as that jiggling belly. Please, Hal, don’t nag me. Yes, I’ll get to the gym. In the meantime, could you just post an advertisement directing me to the nearest dog wash?

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Artists, Writers, Musicians

Everybody Else

I used to dream about hanging out with artists, writers and musicians. Then I found out they’re just like everybody else.

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Problem Solving 101

“I think the next best thing to solving a problem is finding some humor in it.”  Frank Howard Clark 

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Just when I thought the bar could not be dropped any lower, I see this bumper sticker. What happened to Student of the Month? Too much pressure for a fourth grader. Citizen of the Week? Might harm the self-esteem of everyone else. I guess it had to happen. Achievement is no longer in vogue. If my little genius just shows up at school often enough, he or she will be RECOGNIZED. Wow. I’m so proud.

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My iPod is Making Me Crazy

My iPod is Making Me Crazy

My iPod is Making Me Crazy

My iPod is wreaking havoc upon my mental health. One moment, I’m meditating prayerfully on eternity and the next I’m in a sentimental swoon over my seventh-grade sweetheart. But before I even recall why the song has dragged me back to my adolescence, I’m dancing to an aerobics routine that would make Jane Fonda proud.

My iPod has changed the way I experience music. Gone are the days of slipping an album from its cardboard cover and paper sleeve, carefully placing it on the turntable and committing to one musician for forty-five minutes. The artist had forty-five minutes to make me fall in love with his or her music. Sometimes, that forty-five minute tryst became a full-blown love affair. I committed myself, like a lover, for better or worse, til death do us part. The collection of lovers could multiply, but no lover was ever discarded.

I miss the days of caressing that black disc between my palms, touching only the edges. Gently setting the needle upon the outer rim’s blank sliver , listening to the sandpaper scratch that preceded the first track. And then going along for the ride, listening as I studied the cover art and liner notes. Albums were intended as works of art. The careful assembling of various songs, when done with love, carried the listener on an emotional ride. If the artist succeeded, the listener experienced a seduction,was drawn in as a willing participant to the artist’s most intimate thoughts and emotions. And come out with a sense of completion. There was a beginning, a middle, an end. Whether cheerful or melancholy, the ending was meant to be satisfying.

Not so with my iPod. I am a schizophrenic listener now. I shuffle. I am jarred from one extreme to the next, with little commonality of idea or purpose. I dance, I feel blue, I feel elevated, I feel raunchy. It’s all one big jumble and I’m struggling to keep up. Perhaps some classical strings would soothe me. If only the violins weren’t followed by Pink telling me to get the party started.

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Mumford & Sons

Have been listening to Sigh No More obsessively lately. This Brit group’s fierce fiddling, driving beat and compelling lyrics keep me coming back again and again. Their heart-thumping, toe-tapping hillbilly sound, with just a touch of brass, is juxtaposed against phrases of layered meaning. The Chieftains and Van Morrison come to mind. Wonderful use of pauses, silence and slamming crescendos. Lyrics are laid upon the melody without forced poetic conventions. When was the last time you read (let alone reread) the liner notes on an album cover? Har, har as a bridge? Just another twist in the Mumford & Sons universe. And it’s a bleak universe. They sing of death, loss and empty souls while dark thunderclouds gather overhead. All the while, their music makes you want to get up and dance a jig. Incredible. Occasional rays of hope pierce those clouds,and you can’t help but wonder: if this wildly creative band ever gets happy, will they lose their twitchy tension? Let’s hope not.

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