26 November 2009

sad soul thankful for the Cowboys

At our local ecumenical Thanksgiving service last Sunday night, I was the preacher. This is how I began my sermon: “This being a special ecumenical service for Thanksgiving, I figured, ‘Well, at least I know what my theme is!’ For some people, the holiday of Thanksgiving is mainly about the history. For others, it’s about the turkey, the pumpkin pie, the (name your favorite food). And for some other very sad souls, it’s about football—especially the Dallas Cowboys!” (By the way, the sermon quickly moved on from there!)

I fully understand that Thanksgiving is not about football, but I must confess to being one of those sad souls for whom the day is missing something if I’m unable to watch the Cowboys play. Having said that, I am thankful that Dallas beat Oakland today!

25 November 2009

here's hope

My latest hope for life on earth, guitaristically speaking, is Marco Sfogli.  I recently discovered the Italian musician by deciding to finally check out James LaBrie's solo album, Elements of Persuasion.  LaBrie, the vocalist for Dream Theater, recruited Sfogli to play on his 2005 release.

With guitar work that great, I had to get Marco's solo instrumental album, which came out last year, There's Hope.  This exceptional guitarist not only excels in the progressive rock and metal genre (which already sets a high bar), but he demonstrates some bluesy, and even country, capabilities.  His appreciation for country (which I lack) is shown at the end of the album with "Texas BBQ," the shortest track.

Okay, so now I finally have a little bit of country music.  It took an Italian rock guitarist to do it!

14 November 2009

heart in space

It just dawned on me that I discovered “Hearts of Space” twenty-five years ago this month.

In November 1984, I was listening to the Vanderbilt University radio station (WRVU) in Nashville. At the time, my musical preferences didn’t extend very far beyond heavy metal. I was an undergraduate in college at the time, so anyone who takes music seriously is required to expand one’s musical taste! (Actually, one should always be open to new sonic influences.)

I had already discovered Vangelis and Jean-Michel Jarre while in high school, but when these incredible sounds (including narrator Stephen Hill’s voice) reached me from somewhere near the Andromeda galaxy, I experienced a musical metanoia! I still remember the name of the program: “The Way Home.”

13 November 2009


We have had some car repairs today that we didn’t anticipate upon awakening. There are those who would attribute that to the date, those afflicted by the condition known as paraskevidekatriaphobia.

This morning, as my wife Banu was preparing to visit a parishioner who had recently returned from the hospital, I mentioned to her that today is Friday the 13th. About two minutes after she left, the phone rang. She was calling on the cell phone, alerting me to the fact that one of our car’s tires had lost its tread and gone flat. So I called our parishioner and said a rescheduled visit would be necessary.

Our car was about a mile and a half away (and I’m not in the best physical shape of my life!), so it took me a few minutes to arrive on foot. As it turned out, some kind soul had already helped her change the tire. She had begun driving back home toward me. We were able to easily find someone to pick us up at the garage, after driving at 40mph while using that stupid donut spare tire.

As I said, there are those who fear Friday the 13th. But some people say that if one is able to pronounce the name of this condition, then such a person is cured!

The image is taken from savagechickens.com.

09 November 2009

what shall we do?

While checking what I can watch during commercial breaks during Monday Night Football, I came upon one of my favorite movies, The Year of Living Dangerously (1982).  It's truly a great movie, set in 1965 Indonesia, with Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver, and with a great performance as Billy Kwan, the Oscar-award winning actress, Linda Hunt.

It's especially meaningful as we approach Lectionary Year C during Advent, when we hear the words of the people to John the Baptist, "What should we do?"  Billy Kwan, via Hunt, asks those words to himself/herself.  Billy agonizes over his position of relative affluence in a nation ruled by a military dictatorship.  His tragedy is felt at several different levels.  If you don't know what I mean, do yourself a favor and watch the movie!