Thursday, December 1

Rumor has it...

Keep in mind that this is unconfirmed rumor, but given the fact that the members of The Normals have discussed a reunion show, I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out to be true. This comes from The Normals' message board:
I am lucky in the fact that I live in Normal, IL. I was going into Damon's to see one of the Cardinals playoff games and I saw one of the guys from the Normals. I am not great with their names. I think it was Mark. I was like, 'Hey. Weren't you in a band.' He was like 'yeah.' I then responded that I thought he was in The Normals. He said that he was in the band. We talked about knowing Andy's brother, Robbie, and the fact that he went to school with one of my old roommates. I then asked him if they were going to make a new CD and he said that they were. With him back in town and another guy in Peoria, IL and the other guys living in N-Vegas (aka Nashville), he said they were going to use computers and their in house studios to lay down tracks and send them over the internet to each other. They are then all going to get together to mix the CD.

And if it is true, it is rather exciting.
I'll try to write about something besides The Normals next time.

Thursday, November 17

Hey Napoleon, are there ninjas even in the restroom?

Why do other states have such big budgets to spend on clever advertising? Gosh!

Monday, November 14

Never question a whim (you take the fun right out of it)

What goes on in the mind of a college student? This is what I often wonder as I ponder the mystery of my own brain on November 1, 1999. What shaped the inner workings of my thoughts to make me think that not going to a free Waterdeep concert with The Normals would be a good idea? These bands' albums have since come to mean so much to me that when I remember my chance to see them live--a chance I probably gave up to do something silly like homework (I was a first-semester freshman)--I can only sigh and shake my head at this, the biggest musical regret of my life. I console myself with the thought that we will all be in Heaven, and that that will be free as well.

Wednesday, November 2

First ya make a roux

On Monday night I made gumbo on my own for the first time and decided to give Tony Chachere's Instant Roux a try. There are so many interesting and mysterious mixes in the Lousiana, Mexican and Asian sections of Wal-Mart. I am always tempted by them and simultaneously skeptical and disapproving. A mix can't be as good as the old time-tested methods, can it? I tell myself not to become dependent on them; they're just for this season of life while I work full time. I'm sure if I were married with lots of children I would have much more time for cooking.

But Tony lured me in (look how cute he was), and I followed the recipe on the back of the container. It didn't call for any okra, however, and that is essential to good gumbo. Fortunately this was proportioned just right to add about half a bag of frozen okra. I thought it all turned out rather well. Next time I will probably add more onion and celery. It made a lot--–so much that I had to split it between two pots halfway through. Now we have hot gumbo for lunch instead of cold lunchmeat sandwiches.

Thursday, October 27

I just tell you what I heard

My favourite musical family (yes, even better than the Von Trapp Family Singers) is the Webbs of Nashville. They have TWO new albums due in December. (I know what I'll be asking for.) Song clips and a couple of recent bootleg shows from Derek's album Mockingbird are here for your listening pleasure. The single "Grace Upon Grace" from Sandra McCracken's hymn cd, The Builder and the Architect is available now from Indelible Grace. Part of me starts to roll my eyes at another hymn album, but then I remember that this is Sandra we're talking about.

It's going to be good.

Thursday, October 20

The fair is a smorgasbord

In twenty-four years I’d never been to the Mississippi state fair. This year I went twice. Oh, the humanity! It’s like a Flannery O’Connor story brought to life.

Wednesday, October 19

Why should the church be any different?

This article about Redeemer is from ByFaith, the new magazine of the PCA. It came out a while ago, but I just noticed that it quotes my friend Tara at the end. It even has a dramatic, contemplative picture of our pastor.

Harold and Alberta and Bill and Judy

This is about two children who call their parents by their first names. I finished reading Bridge to Terebithia for the first time yesterday. I thought for years that I’d read it before, but I believe for some reason I was thinking of A Door in the Wall. I was also sure the title had an ‘n’ in it–Terebinthia–and was shocked to discover that it did not! This quote from author Katherine Paterson made me feel better:

I thought I'd made up "Terabithia". I realized when the book was nearly done, that there is an island in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis called Terebinthia. I'm sure I borrowed that unconsciously, but, then, so would Leslie who loved the Chronicles of Narnia. And, by the way, Lewis got Terebinthia from the Biblical terebinth tree, so it wasn't original with him either.

Leslie Burke, who names the magical land she and her friend Jesse Aarons rule as king and queen, calls her parents “Bill and Judy.” Ms. Paterson’s, Leslie’s and my imagination have all been informed by the Chronicles of Narnia.

But with the approach of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe movie, Philip Pullman is once again spitting his vitriolic comments. He calls the chronicles "a peevish blend of racist, misogynistic and reactionary prejudice" in this BBC news article. I wrote a paper in college defending the chronicles against some of his specific criticisms, but honestly, it’s very tiresome to try to argue with someone so obviously without a sense of humour or healthy perspective. Pullman doesn’t give much reason for his comments in this article, but I had to laugh at some of the remarks from readers below it. One says that Lewis was derisive toward “vegetarianism and liberal education.” He’s referring to the beginning of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader:

There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. His parents called him Eustace Clarence and masters called him Scrubb. I can't tell you how his friends spoke to him, for he had none. He didn't call his Father and Mother "Father" and "Mother," but Harold and Alberta. They were very up-to-date and advanced people. They were vegetarians, non-smokers and teetotalers and wore a special kind of underclothes. In their house there was very little furniture and very few clothes on beds and the windows were always open.

Does it not seem very insecure to let that be offensive to you? Just listen to the man and you can tell he probably liked his beer and sausages. So what? If you want to be a vegetarian, go for it! Don’t let C.S. Lewis stop you. And when you read the Chronicles of Narnia, remember that he was a middle-aged university professor in England in the 1950’s. Smile over his personal preferences if you don’t share them, sit back, and enjoy the story.

Sunday, June 26

And the livin' is easy

Ah! summer reading. It really is the ideal hot weather pastime; all the activity is in our minds and imaginations, leaving us free to wander without breaking a sweat. Here are some of the books I’ve finished recently:

Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot
by Elisabeth Elliot
I must confess that I’ve struggled with the story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot since reading Passion and Purity for the first time when I was a teenager. I think I’m beginning to come around, but it’s been slow going; I’m still convinced we should view their story as the exception, rather than the rule, of how to go about a romantic relationship.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
by J.K. Rowling
Or Harry Potter and the Overemotional Trauma. Harry pitches temper tantrums and acts like the teenager he is. It’s understandable, but I hope he grows out of it in The Half Blood Prince.

Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality
by Donald Miller
This is certainly not a perfect book, but I enjoyed it immensely. Donald Miller writes in a conversational style that some find annoying (I did, at times), but by the end we feel as if we are friends. There’s good stuff here.

The Grim Grotto
by Lemony Snicket
Mr. Snicket’s dry humor is so refreshing. I laugh and gasp with horror all through these books.

The Making of Pride and Prejudice
by Sue Birtwistle and Susie Conklin
Chapter 9 is entirely devoted to an interview with Colin Firth.

Pigs Have Wings
by P.G. Wodehouse
“It’s pig-stealing time in Shropshire,” and Wodehouse makes the idle rich of England amusing as usual.

In progress:
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
by Lynne Truss
Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road
by Tim Keller

What have you been reading?

Thursday, June 23

The ants are welcome company

Derek Webb played at First Pres Friday night, and I infiltrated the youth group to attend. It was exciting to hear two new songs: "Mockingbird" and "Rich Young Ruler." Someone uploaded recent bootlegs of these from a show in Decatur, AL. You can hear them here. It was a very small show, and the audience was polite and attentive, if rather quiet. I wanted to hoop and holler more, especially when Derek plugged The Normals - Cason Cooley was his backup man - but mine is not a voice well-equipped for instigating crowd enthusiasm, and I wimped out.

I did, however, kill a roach afterwards. It was careening around the aisle beneath out feet, and I thought, "This won't do." So I took off my flip-flop and smacked it. Roaches are not welcome company.

Thursday, June 9

Not handsome enough to tempt me

Or “How To Get Boys to Watch Pride and Prejudice.” The studio executives probably think it a brilliant idea to cast Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet. And although it may prove financially beneficial, many fans are viewing this new trailer for the September release with some apprehension. Can Miss Knightley be Miss Bennet?

Thursday, May 26

You ain't heard the last of Earnest T. Bass

Or have we? Howard Morris, comedy veteran, died Saturday at age 85. Earnest T. threw his first rock in The Andy Griffith Show episode "Mountain Wedding" (Charlene married Dud anyway) and went on to become one of Mayberry's best-loved characters.

Geography and arithmetic will never be the same.

Tuesday, May 24

The Force is strong with this one

To prepare for seeing The Revenge of the Sith tonight, I've been playing 20 Questions with Darth Vader. I was pretty scared when he got "cilantro" in 17 questions on my first try (I thought that was pretty obscure), but I stumped him with "blue jay." Some of the questions leading up to it made me laugh:

Does it bring joy to people? NO!
Is it annoying? YES.
Is it a bluebird? Definitely not.

Ask Paula if you'd like more information regarding blue jays.

Thursday, May 19

What would Lewis say?

It seems that the end of the year will bring an abundance of licensed merchandise associated with The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Although the list here indicates that virtually any product imaginable will be available with the Narnia logo emblazoned on it, these I find particularly ironic:

Turkish Delight (now you too can become enchanted with greed)

And after you have eaten (and are not satisfied), brush your teeth with your very own Narnia toothbrush from Oral B.

Saturday, April 30

The planet Laloo

Now for the domestic part of this blog. I discovered that collard greens make a decent substitute for seaweed in miso soup. I usually use fresh spinach, but I was out this particular night and really wanted to make miso. So I tossed in the collard greens to see what would happen. They were a bit on the crunchy side, but definitely edible. And I found the Southern/Asian combo funny.

I went garage sale shopping with my roommate and her mom this morning (early this morning) and came home with some rather exciting bargains: two cool vintage scarves, Eats, Shoots and Leaves, a stack of vintage 50s Christmas cards (design inspiration), Pyrex, and a PG Wodehouse book. I think the grand total was $2.90.

Some of my best finds from past garage sales include Caedmon's Call's 40 Acres, the first two Harry Potter books, and The Austere Academy and The Hostile Hospital. It's a very satisfying experience to know that you saved yourself a ton of money, and you usually finish by 9 or 10 and have the whole rest of the day in front of you. I highly recommend it. If fact, we'll be hosting a sale ourselves next Saturday, so please do come buy our junk.

In other news, one of my favourite musicians, Andrew Osenga is now blogging as well. After reading almost the whole thing one day, I went to bed and dreamed one of the most transparent of dreams. In it I was talking to Andrew, and somehow the fact that I'd worked at Twin Lakes came up. He said "Oh yeah! Well we love Twin Lakes..." And I thought, "Yes! I'm cool in Andy's book!" I didn't remember it until I put a Twin Lakes t-shirt on to go running the next day. Suddenly all became clear. I had worn another camp shirt the day before (hence the Twin Lakes reference), and in the dream Andy had said "Well we love Twin Lakes" in exactly the same tone I'd over heard Derek say to a fan at the MC show "Well we love RUF..." At the time I probably made a mental note: RUF=cool in Derek's book. Obviously my subconscious was working out how to get in good with Andrew. *Sigh* Just one nerd trying to impress another. : )

Besides, I happen to know that it's not just the fans that dream about Andy. Andy dreams about the fans too.

Thursday, April 21

'Scuse us, Mr. Schwump

Two funny things happened today.

1. I was tallying up the votes for (among other things) the favourite ice cream shop among the readers of the magazine I work for. One woman's entry caught my eye. It was

Basket and Robin.

2. At the post office, I saw a man with a very bad toupee. He looked like Mr. Schwump. It was amazing.

Sing hey!

Continuing the DC trip...on Saturday we happened onto a Whistler exhibit in the basement of the Freer gallery which, out of all the art we saw, inspired me to most to really paint. These were tiny oil paintings on wood panels with the grain sometimes showing through. Very painterly, and once again, reproductions of these don't come anywhere near to conveying how luminous and subtle they are.

We ate lunch in the Air and Space Museum which housed the Spirit of St. Louis. Looking at that early plane I thought, "Lindbergh had to have some nerve to get into that flimsy piece of metal and fly it across the Atlantic." As far as I can tell, there wasn't a way for him to see straight ahead; the only windows were on either side.

The American History Museum had an exhibit including dresses from past first ladies, including one of Nancy Reagan's I recognized instantly, thanks to all the time I spent with my Nancy Reagan paper doll growing up. This particular dress had Ronald attached to it (they were dancing), but I used to bend him back behind her when he wasn't wanted.

They also had Julia Child's kitchen, which I'd read about in an article recently but didn't remember that's where it was. What a funny lady.

By this time we were absolutely exhausted and stumbled into the Capital City Brewing Company for dinner. Oh, and how happy that we did! I knew it was a good restaurant when I saw one of my favourite Simpsons quotes printed on the menu. It was happy hour, and a Capital Kolsch for each of us was just what we needed. Now I understand the appeal of a pub that Tolkien and Lewis felt after a long day tramping about the countryside. I don't know if anything's ever been more welcome than sitting down to that cold beer. Pippin was right:

O water cold we may pour at need
Down a thirsty throat and be glad indeed
But better is beer if drink we lack
And water hot poured down the back!

Wednesday, April 20

Lord have mercy on the Frozen Man

Last weekend I took a field trip to Washington DC with my parents. We nearly walked our feet off in our attempt to take in as much as we could in four days, but it was worth it. It's not every day you get the chance to see Rembrandts, mummies and a Tyrannosaurus, but that's just what we did see on Friday. Thanks to an early start from Jackson, we were in DC by lunchtime, and walking into the Museum of Natural History shortly afterwards. Our hotel was so close to most things that we could walk. It was amazing to step in off the street (the Smithsonian museums don't charge admission) and see a real Triceratops skeleton (he was my favourite when I was little). Upstairs were the mummies and an exhibit on the frozen man found in the Alps (who was my height and weight when he died). Oh, and the Hope diamond.

From there we went to the National Gallery of Art for the exhibit of Rembrandt's Late Religious Portraits. Rembrandt is one of my absolute favourite artists, and seeing his work in person was amazing. Looking into the face of this self-portrait, I was arrested and moved by the expression in his eyes so much that I wanted to cry. It felt like no one else was in the gallery except he and I. You could never guess from a reproduction all that he conveys with just paint on a canvas.

More to come.

Monday, April 11

Isn't she a peach?

It took a lot of phone tag to make it work, but I went to the opera with nine other people Saturday night to see The Mikado (for free!). This is one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s best-known works, and I enjoyed it immensely. It was strange to see the very British play in its Japanese setting with a 21st century Mississippi twist. It’s tradition to insert references that the current audience will understand, but it still felt odd to hear Pooh Bah referring to Jackson mayor Harvey Johnson and asking the audience, “What’s in your wallet?

"Three Little Maids from School" is one of my all-time favourite songs; I’ve grown up hearing it from the scene in Chariots of Fire where Harold Abrahams first sees Sybil. When my parents watched that movie Daddy would call “Caroline, three little maids!” and I’d come running in just for that part. So I wished that he could be there so I could lean over and say, “Didn’t I tell you? Isn’t she a peach?”

Wednesday, April 6

For the loser now will be later to win

There is such a lovely sense of unity and like-mindedness when you realize that many of your favourite living musicians are friends with one another. This occurred to me as I was lingering at the foot of the stage after Derek Webb's show Monday night at Mississippi College.

Derek's best friend and wife Sandra McCracken opened with "Springtime Indiana," followed by "Sunday Morning" and "Age After Age." The band joined her for "Trade My Love" and "Now and Then." It was fun to hear those two rocked up a bit. Sandra closed her set with an acoustic rendition of her "best attempt" at an old hymn, "Awake My Soul." Sandra's isn't instant gratification music. It took me months to fall in love with Gypsy Flat Road, but now I'm head over heels and think I'll stay that way.

Steven Delopoulos, formerly the front man for Burlap to Cashmere, got everyone's attention the moment he began fingering his acoustic guitar, and he held it until the last note was played. I'm not familiar enough with his music to give you a playlist, but seven songs later I think many of us were contemplating a visit to the merchandise table.

It's no coincidence that Derek began his set with a cover of Dylan's "The Times They Are A Changin.'" The only solo acoustic song of the night, it was a message to the audience: don't expect to hear what you've heard before. The band (Will Sayles, drums; Cason Cooley, keyboards, and I forgot the bass player's name-of course!) joined him to break into "I Want a Broken Heart" Here is the rest of the playlist:

Saint and Sinner
Somewhere North
I Can't Lose You
Rich Young Ruler (This is a new one written for the next album, which could be out as early as this fall)
The Blood of the Lamb (Woody Guthrie)
Ballad in Plain Red (I've wanted to hear this one live since my first listen on iStud)
Wedding Dress
Lover Part 2
I Repent

After the show, I summoned every ounce of courage and approached Cason Cooley. If you aren't familiar with Cason's late, great band The Normals, please do yourself a favor and enrich your life by buying one of their excellent albums. Cason's also involved with the Indelible Grace cds as well as countless others. This is what I meant at the beginning about musicians being friends. I love to read the band credits and thank you's on cds and trace the family of faith through the lines. Anyway, Cason was very nice as I practically trembled with shyness and tried not to gush too hard about my love for The Normals.

As a postscript: I have some Derek Webb promo materials left over... Email me or leave a comment if you're interested.

If everybody else jumped off a bridge

Although I registered this weblog almost a year ago, it has primarily served as nothing more than a small html playground in which I amuse myself (“What happens when I do this?”) from time to time. That is, until now. Perhaps I will find I have nothing worthwhile to say after all, at which point I hope I’ll quit blogging. The last thing the world needs is another tediously self-centered blog.

As for the name, it’s part of a line from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. Upon discovering a bevy of beautiful maidens, the pirates sing

Here’s a first-rate opportunity
To get married with impunity
And indulge in the felicity
Of unbounded domesticity.