Archive for June, 2008


I got around to Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man in the last week or so. I’ve got a book of Cohen’s lyrics and poems I enjoyed, and I get why this guy is so brilliant and all, but my taste-o-meter has just never swung towards much more than a few listens to Songs of Love and Hate. It’s true. I’m a Philistine.* But, I enjoy a good Cohen cover as much as the next guy. Buckley’s is my favorite version of “Hallelujah,” maybe because, aside from being the best one, it was the first I’d heard. Anyway, Teddy Thompson’s fresh and thoughtful take on “Tonight Will Be Fine” was the highlight of the show for me. Thompson’s latest, A Piece of What You Need, released just last week, and the samples I’ve heard are great. His cover of country standards, Up Front & Down Low, is all kinds of sweet slide guitar smooth. I like ‘im.

A close second was Antony’s “If It Be Your Will.” His haunting, as Bjork called it, “black woman” voice (Nina Simone meets Boy George?) is featured on Joan as Police Woman’s last record (Joan Wasser also makes an appearance in I’m Your Man, but not quite center stage). I wasn’t sure what I thought of him at first – it almost completes Wasser’s 70s-ish vibe, like he’s channeling Godspell. Kind of how Buckley’s “Lilac Wine” always made me feel, come to think of it. There’s a lot of incongruities in this image and sound, but the way it somehow holds together draws me in all the more to want to hear it again, like if I keep watching I’ll suddenly solve the mystery. Or it will solve me. Like the man says, “There is a crack in everything/ That’s how the light gets in” (“Anthem,” The Future, 1992). The song itself offers a prayer of such sincerity, yearning, and faith that it puts a lot of CCM to shame.

What a cool thing, music.

Oh, and I liked Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man. He’s an interesting guy. Very easy voice when it comes to talking. And, if you’re not familiar with him, you can pretend it’s all made up, and Leonard Cohen is just a character played by Al Pacino.

*For the record, I enjoy a number of, shall we say, nontraditional vocalists (Tom Waits, Iris Dement, Victoria Williams, Howlin’ Wolf, Daniel Johnston, even Celine Dion). Maybe Cohen just sings in a register to which my ears don’t respond well. I have the same reaction to Cher.


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“Californians are less likely than other Americans to consider religion “very important” in their lives or to be “absolutely certain” in their belief in God.” (LA Times)

Read this just after hearing a radio interview with a group of young Chinese, who rattled off a list of American TV shows they regularly watch, and then talked about the dangers of materialism to their culture and the great need for meaning beyond that coming with cultural shifts and economic success.

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1. Um. . . give me a minute. . . I can’t remember. . . it was. . . .

2. Apparently, Nate Highfield and (or?) the Good Cheer, a great band I intermittently stalk, have released an album! This is great news. I am looking for it. It is not in my computer.

3. I enjoy Tokyo Police Club. Their English is excellent.

4. The new Ben Sollee is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend it.

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This idealized newsfeed (HT ME) was really fun for me. It might not be all your hopes and dreams, but it got my imagination going.

It also got me thinking about how we talk about heaven. A lot of our songs and language about the restoration of a broken, groaning creation amount to odd quotes of ideas and images that don’t connect much to the greatest hopes we have for ourselves, or humankind. The glory of streets of gold and vindicated martyrs that fills the eyes (and ears, and nostrils) of John of Patmos has come, too often, packaged as an ancient-future aesthetic in the worst way: a distant, irrelevant, often gaudy and usually baroque collection of characters and props that don’t generate the excitement incited by what we experience in a movie theater, even when it’s no closer to experience than what we read in Revelation.

But in John’s vision, the imagination is cast around something super-real; something on the fringe of conceivable, but rooted very much in the world we inhabit. What are the things out of our reach, that only God could be worthy to hold in hand? Who are the people or situations that seem least likely to gain favor or justice in this lifetime? Which regimes seem least likely to ever submit to righteousness?

Yeah, that’s at the center of things, when the New Jerusalem drops.

NP: Al Green, Just for Me

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Or math.

There are a few things we try to do to save moolah, and now they are feeling more like things we are doing to afford fuel. To name a few,

1) Cancel Netflix (I like Netflix) because we can get our movies through the library. This would go for audiobooks, too, if I were still doing audible.com (which I also like). Most libraries will allow you to put together a list of titles on interlibrary loan; there’s not as much control over your queue, but you’ll still eventually see about everything. The library is a great source for music, too, but you can’t keep it. And, you already paid for it with your tax dollars.

2) Coupons. More on this below.

3) Switching our mobile company to a family plan we are sharing with. . . family. This has brought our bill down by about 1/3. Everybody can pay their share online.

Otherwise, we’re cutting corners here and there. I try to brownbag, although I usually forget. We’re looking into changing some other services that’ll cut some costs. Short of beating our car into plowshares, we’re hoping to have a relatively cheap summer. Anyway, before you stop reading, I’d be interested in any of your ideas along these lines.

But, now, to the point. This one’s for you, Jules.

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On the Media, one of my dearest podcasts, invited listeners to submit 12 word novels during November (NaWriNoMo). I just caught up to the results in last week’s episode. I may be anticipating another contest. Start counting words. Click below to see the actual results:

In the army, George discovered he was a coward. He told nobody

Obituary; first five words free?
She thought.
“Charles dead. Yacht for Sale.”

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