Thursday, January 31, 2008
The truth is that my attitude towards New England is more like fear and a quiet sense of awe. The few games I have seen them play this season have made me realize that this is probably the greatest football team of all time. And, as a football fan, I have to appreciate that ... even if it their greatness comes at the expense of my hometown team.
I have also seen enough Patriots games in the Belicheck era to know that they have an aura of mystique about them: the improbable win against St. Louis to win the first Super Bowl, the way they play with New England ice coursing their veins, the unnatural way Tom Brady can kill you over and over again when it counts, the Cro-magnon fleet of linebackers who defy the laws of natural aging in arriving in the "a" gap on the goaline to crush your hopes of scoring a touchdown. They seem not capable of losing, which is why the last two years are such aberrations. Who knew Brady could throw an interception to end a season ... twice! Achilles does have a heel.
But not this year, and - for that matter - not 90% of the time. And, today, I discovered the secret to the Patriots' strength. Read this article; then you will know too. This is the sort of story that seems almost too incredible to be true. And, my favorite part: Ernie Adams' top five books of all time - including Robert K. Massie's Nicolas and Alexandra.
Somebody kidnap this guy before Sunday. That would be the greatest sports conspiracy of all time!
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
48. Will the WGA strike permanently disrupt the original plan to end the series with three seasons of 16 episodes apiece?
47. What is Charles Widmore's association with the Dharma Initiative?
46. Who were those guys in the icebound monitoring station at the end of Season 2?
45. What is the significance of Claire's baby?
44. Will Rose's cancer return?
43. Will Sun survive her pregnancy?
42. What's the meaning behind that crazy mural painted inside the Swan Station?
41. Where exactly is the island located?
40. What gets worshipped at the temple Ben mentions near the end of the third season?
39. Who are the people on the rescue ship?
38. If Penny Widmore didn't send the ship, then where is her rescue crew?
37. Can Juliet really be trusted?
36. How did the Black Rock get on the island?
35. How many more Dharma stations are left to be found?
34. Will we learn more about Libby's connection to Hurley?
33. Are Nikki and Paulo gone for good?
32. What did Jack mean in the flash-forward when he made a reference to his supposedly dead father being upstairs?
31. Will the rest of the survivors learn about Hurley's fortune?
30. Will Jin learn about Sun's affair?
29. How did Locke's father get on the island?
28. Why do all pregnancies result in death on the island?
27. Is Alvar Hanso still involved with the island?
26. What is the sickness Rousseau talked about her crew getting in the first season?
25. How was Walt able to appear to Locke and Shannon?
24. What do the numbers -- 4 8 15 16 23 42 -- mean?
23. Why does the doctor in the Dharma Initiative-orientation films have different names in different films?
22. Who are the bodies dubbed Adam and Eve that were found in the caves?
21. What do the hieroglyphics on the machine inside Swan Station mean?
20. How did the Others get all the names of the survivors?
19. What are the whispers people hear in the jungle?
18. Will we see more of the Other known as Isabel (Diana Scarwid)?
17. Where have the children that the Others took been hiding?
16. Why do so many episodes start with the close-up of an eye?
15. Were the Others really having Sawyer and Kate help to build a runway?
14. What did the psychic that read Claire's future see?
13. Did Jack's dad really come back to life or is that an illusion?
12. Will Desmond retain his ability to see the future?
11. Who besides Kate and Jack got off the island?
10. Who is Kate's unseen mate in the post-island flash-forward?
9. What's the deal with that four-toed statue from the Season 2 finale?
8. In Jack's post-island flash-forward, who was in the coffin?
7. What happened to Michael and Walt after they left the island?
6. What is Walt's power?
5. How did Mikhail (the eye-patch guy) appear to come back from the dead?
4. Why doesn't Richard Alpert age?
3. What is Jacob?
2. What is the smoke monster?
1. What is that island?
Monday, January 28, 2008
The truth is I am not sure I wanted you to hear the truth because most days I don't really want to hear it myself. But, in any case, here it is: you're gonna die. You have to, actually. It is the only way. I'd like to sugar coat that, make it seem like a pill you can swallow with a glass of water and sleep through the night unaware of its drastic effects on your body. But I can't. I'll leave that for the pharmaceutical companies who know better than I to make a disease seem like a headache and their medicine a happy dream. Not that I didn't try.
I told you all about our "New Members Class," hoping you could stomach that verbage. That seemed nice, right, as if there were some perks for your sacrifice? I was embarrassed to suggest you'd need to go through something like this in order to become a part of our church. I didn't want to seem so demanding. Gosh, you've got so much on your plate already. I'd hate to demand anything more from you.
I even considered toning down the religiosity of it all. Insted of calling it a "New Members Class," I thought about calling it "Inquirers," or "Seekers," something suggesting possibility, completely ambiguous, that way you wouldn't have to venture much, and neither would I. That way we could just meet every so often, share a meal once or twice. Then, maybe, I'd offer you an invitation in a hurried moment of uncertainty, a proposition that immediately makes me feel guilty and you fearful. Hopefully, you'd say yes. Why not. It won't take long. And, I would promise that we'll love you forever. So will God. You will know community then. It will be great. Won't it?
No, it wouldn't be. Because I cheated you, and that bothers me. What I really want to offer you is a conversion, a transformation. But, I know I can't offer that to you. Who can? That's why I come back to what is so important for me to say: you're gonna die. You have to. But, will you let yourself die?
I've got this pool, see. It's in my backyard, and most of the year we just let it lie there as a huge sunken grave, the concrete seemingly colder than steel. The only thing the pool receives from September to March is the fallen remnants of foliage and the cold of both earth and sky. In the spring, I'm going to fill it up again with water, an oval of creation's turbulent sea. And, if you want, you can come over sometime. It will be there for you. If you like, you can walk into it, let your body slip into its brutal frigidness. You'll learn then. You'll see. God wants to wash you clean. Your life can be made new. And you're not going to realize it walking into some church on a Sunday morning with your best face on into some parlour that houses social niceties and the memories of people who served their community well.
So, anyhow, here's a key to my backyard pool. When you're ready, come on over. We'll talk more then. When you're ready to die, I'll tell you about life.
Without us, he will not."
Saturday, January 26, 2008
I thought about how much emotions overwhelm her during pregnancy, and - though she might hate me for saying it - I love it. There is such a raw beauty and humanity in all of it.
Just recently, I listened to some music that moved me. I was emotionally impacted.
All this made me realize how unique our generation is compared to - say - my grandparents. Their's was an age of productivity, where the quality of your life was dependent upon the effect of your efforts. For my generation, it seems that the quality of our life is to be found in how our efforts affect our emotions. Does our life feel right? Do we truly enjoy our work? Does the movie move me to a point of new humanity and self-awareness.
There was a time when the greatest form of worship was to join a chorus of voices to produce a loud assembly of praise. Now: the greatest sign of worship is a movement not of the masses, but into the sacred, emotive realms of the heart, whereby God is moving and we are moved. Maybe we are pregnant with some form of hope.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
I have also discovered a podcast for the Bible which is well done. Check it out here.
Then, of course, there is the more widely known "Brick Testament: The Bible as told through Legos."
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
It is late;
the world has gone under,
My child rests,
and the other one -
the one hidden in blankets and womb -
sleeps or stirs.
She is held ... and floating -
the unknown embrace
we forever chase.
Enough powder descends to cover,
the ground a pastry white,
the sky a tinkling rain.
I walk the house to feel its peace -
the frozen that I can watch in warmth,
a middle-class luxury.
In my own way, I am a lord tonight.
My wife stirs not.
And though I cannot sleep, it is fine.
The snow is a blanket, an assurance,
a covering and isolation.
I cannot be found.
For a time,
I am the child with the blanket pulled tight over my head;
I am the kid who knows only the world I can imagine.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Approximately 3:00 pm, Sunday afternoon. Outside = cold and wintry. Inside = warm and coozy ... and surprisingly quiet. After leaving Wyatt to play by himself in his room, Anna and I attended various projects of our own. Several minutes later, I was struck by how eerily calm and quiet everything was. No banging, no noticeable noise from toys or balls. So, I knew something was up. Sure enough, Wyatt had found the baby powder and proceeded to empty its contents all over his toys and throughout his room. Toddlers. Geesh.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Here they come: Wes’ best of music for the year 2007. Like last year, remember these songs do not represent the best music that came out in 2007 or the music that captured major media attention (I’m not that up-to-date). These are the songs that I found most worthy of being digitally scanned onto a piece of circular plastic or imputed into the memory of my iPod.
Jazz and Rock ‘n Roll are featured once again, but the hardest driving genre is probably the movie/television category. A bunch of these songs came from soundtracks or are otherwise featured on television shows. That makes me terribly unoriginal. But, I'm not worried, around here, I'm still 10 years ahead of any trend. Wait, that just means I'm strange, which I’m completely cool with.
The only group or musician to get two songs on here: Death Cab for Cutie. Anna thinks the whole list should be them … plus a few songs from Regina Spektor just to balance it out. But, then again, she doesn’t listen to any music unless it is those two. Her best list for 2007 would be the same as 2006: KPCC 89.3. She’s totally cooler than I am, though, so I’ll just get on with the show:
1. Hands of Time – Groove Armada – Somebody finally realized what makes Moby great and starting doing their own take on it. Except, Groove Armada went one step further and got the musician (Richie Havens), not just the old record. Havens is a folk, singer, song-writer (he was at Woodstock), but his performance for this song is much more blues than anything else. I had heard this song probably in 2004 in the movie Collateral, and immediately fell in love with it as it gave me a way to forever recall driving through downtown LA at night. It took me this long to track it down. I’m glad I did: it embodies soul music to me, the track ending with nothing but a chorus of hums rising like a holy ghost from within.
2. Motherland – Natalie Merchant – This song opens with something of a bard’s tale mixed with a French, countryside melody (hello, accordion), but swiftly swoons at the chorus, turning the song from a dirge to a lullaby. The whole song, in fact, bounces between two lands – the desolate and the homey. Natalie Merchant’s voice makes all poetry seem profound, but it is her ability to make this song with both her mature/deep to soaring/beautiful that is marvelous to me. The subtle waver in her voice during the chorus is extremely pleasing and pleading.
3. Wash Away – Joe Purdy – Lost: Season 4 is on the horizon, and – forgive me, Lord – I’m more excited about it than I was Christmas. My love affair with Lost began quite a while ago, and this song played a key role in the blossoming. Season 1 featured this song at the end of an episode, allowing the music to float through the television while the cast was scanned against the setting of a tropical sun. I can easily see this song coming up later in my life at a critical juncture – a service of healing and forgiveness perhaps. It breathes life and refreshment.
4. On The Radio – Regina Spektor – This song is about as close as you can get to pop in the alternative genre – any further and it might be Imogen Heap. The beat is a pulse, there is plenty of glitter, including the tingle of symbol, but there is also just enough distinct piano to make it settle comfortably in with Fiona Apple. But, make no mistake, this song is playful and vibrant. Just wait tell Spektor moves through the chorus the second time and adds a little Blake from American Idol for you. Plus, she’s Russian. Need I say more?
5. Marching Bands of Manhattan – Death Cab for Cutie – Who can pick the song to represent this group? I can’t, but here’s one to give you a taste. Ben Gibbard sings lead for this group and is well known for adding his vocal originality to The Postal Service. Indeed, it is his boyish, yearning voice that makes so much of this alternative, self-love, self-dread music so wonderful. But, that said, you gotta give the whole group credit for taking his voice and adding music that moves emotions out of your heart and into your mind. The lyrics of Death Cab are especially emotive … “Sorrow drips into her heart through a pen-hole, just like a faucet that leaks, and there is comfort in the sound. But while you debate half-empty and half-full, it slowly rises. Your love is gonna drown.”
6. Your Heart is an Empty Room – Death Cab for Cutie – Part of what makes Death Cab so strong for me is that their songs work very well together as an entire album. I find it much easier to listen to an entire album than I do to pick out one song that I like, but here I go again. This song just grabs me, yanks me into liberation – like a fresh spring day – except the rallying cry begins with this line: “Burn it down ‘til the ambers smoke on the ground, and start new when your heart is an empty room …” That line right there has picked me up many a day this year, and given me a reason to keep fighting and striving. Then, there’s another line in the chorus that seems truth to me, “And all you see is where else you could be when you’re at home.” So true. Great lyrics, great vocals, and a great feel to embody it all: that’s Death Cab.
7. Blue Train – John Coltrane – Last year, I said I was starting to get into jazz. Well, if things hold true, I’ll soon be taking some trips over to St. Louis or down to New Orleans. I’m starting with the classics, and Coltrane’s Blue Train is that. The horns that begin this track drives the album – assuring and declarative, it spins into a nice little solo. By the time you get a couple of minutes into this song, the bouncing ball that would follow the notes is spinning and diving up and down. I don’t know enough about music to know how hard this all is, but I do know enough about how it sounds to say it is groovy, man, just groovy.
8. Going to California – Led Zeppelin – Because I like to believe that I know what is best and because I am hesitant to embrace what everyone else is (the elitist that I am), I didn’t care for Led Zeppelin for the first 28 years of my life – except when their song came on the loudspeakers in the middle school gym and I tried to find some hot girl to dance with for eight minutes, beginning slowly only to end in some herky-jerky trance step that totally left me stepping all over toes and wondering why this song was so damn long. Otherwise, I didn’t care for them. And, I mean that: as in I didn’t really give them more than a fleeting thought other than those Friday nights on the rubber-floored gym. A friend of mine had their IV album in highschool, and I can recall seeing it in his cd folder and telling myself, “what kind of group has a guy carrying sticks on his back … looks rather white-trash.” What did I know? So, anyhow, at 29 I repent and realize that Led Zeppelin rocks. I also realize that this song – while definitely awesome – has emerged as one of the few “California” songs that can haunt and attract me to that far land. I guess Joni Mitchell will have to make room in my heart.
9. Moon Dreams – Miles Davis – In my mind, I always imagine that life will be rich and complete when I have a little lounge in my house – complete with a nice recliner and ottoman, a good shelf of books, walls of dark wood, and the soft light that bathes more than it illuminates. Well, that, and – most of all – this song playing through speakers. Yeah, that would be luxurious and simple all at once. The true birth of the cool right in my own private four walls of serenity.
10. Rottura – Polmo Polpo – Ambience, Yoga Ammo, White Noise: yes, all of these are possible names for this strangely relaxing song. Found on the album The Science of Breath, Rottura seems to explore the subconscious realm of life – the underwater – the plummeting world of dream and rest and life. This has become a staple for those long, open-eyed nights when the ceiling becomes an unwanted fixation and I can’t seem to let my mind cease and desist.
11. Ain’t That Good News – Sam Cooke – Classic rhythm and blues master Sam Cooke got a lot of my nostalgic love this past year. I have American Idol to thank for that as January 2007 began with a whole host of wanna-be’s and will-be’s singing his “A Change is Gonna Come.” There are so many Cooke classics, but I love this one for its peppiness and joy. Horns come in halfway through to kick-in the elation, and the rest of the song is a vibrant competition between Cooke and the horn players to imbue good news.
12. Christmas Time is Here (vocal) – Vince Guaraldi Trio – Charles Shulz supposedly created A Charlie Brown Christmas to deal in part with why Christmas’ glee so often turns to Christmas glum for adults. You can tell that with this song, which is like taking a Christmas carol to a jazz lounge in New York City. The vocal addition of the boys choir is delightful for its high-notes and almost-coordinated sound, and the soft brush of the drum and play of piano keep Christmas where it should be: innocent, subdued and peaceful.
13. Make Me a Pallet On Your Floor – Lucinda Williams – What makes me a believer in all civic public pursuits? Well, besides the quality programming I receive through PBS and NPR, there is also my local library. Good and gracious God, thank you for the local library. For it is through that bequeather of knowledge and civility and goodness that I come to know music that would otherwise be as good as two hands clapping for themselves in a forest. This song I found on Classic Blues from Smithsonian Folkways, Volume 2, a great little love song that starts out with plenty o’ pickin’ and plenty o’ toe tappin’.
14. Cold Wind – The Arcade Fire – I understand that Arcade Fire is pretty smoking hot right now amongst critics. I can see why. I can also see why creative time is almost always in the evening for me, for this is the type of song you listen to at 10:23 pm on a Sunday night. This song probably started out sometime in the 80’s, got drug out to Seattle in the 90’s and then went north of the border when America started acting like Big Brother to the world. Performed by a sextet in Montreal, Cold Wind kinda reminds me of The Alan Parsons Project, and the highlight of the song comes when the music falls out to only an organ followed by a mass-movement, “hey, hey, hey” chant. “Something ain’t right.”
15. Feeling Good – Nina Simone – Let’s close this out with a great big voice, a great big band – something like Fats Domino. No, someone with a higher voice. Yeah, Nina Simone. And scratch what I said about listening to music at night. Let’s wake up to Nina Simone singing, “Fish in the sea, you know how I feel. River running free, you know how I feel. Blossom on the tree, you know how I feel. It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day; it’s a new life … for me, and I’m feeling good.” Now, we’re talking. And let’s cap it off with Simone laying her soul out there with one final gusto of doo-wap’s and ooooooh’s. Can’t go wrong with that.
Great. Put a seal on it and ship it out the door. I’ll be back next year.
Saturday, January 05, 2008
However, we don't have a name for the fish yet. We thought we would open it up for friends and family to help us determine a name. So, here's Wyatt's new fish ...
What's a good name? Send us your names or post them as comments to this blog.
Friday, January 04, 2008
I looked upon those gravestones, and for the first time in my life it struck me that a graveyard is a Hollywood miniature of a town, like in that movie "Beetlejuice". Only, in a cemetery, each grave is a home save the sidewalk and the street out in front (although some graveyards even have those paths for traffic).
Those who walked this life with wealth and the need for larger homes, generally find a way to secure a larger tomb as well, so it all seemed fairly fitting to me - the way the people were represented so. Except, everything at a graveyard is scaled down to fit reality. Say you shell out half a million to build a really grand home. Well, figure you pay ten percent of that to make sure people know how much you did have when you could have. That's something.
All that you did to win the recognition of the world eventually amounts to another crowded scene where realty doesn't come cheap and you're all but forgotten once the newbies move into the neighborhood. If you're really unlucky, they'll just build a cemetery somewhere else, and you'll be left to the earth and anonymity. Even stone wears away, or otherwise remain unturned and unnoticed.
There is no good place to die; there is neither any good place to remain dead, I'm afraid.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
iTunes offers free music all the time, but around the holidays they also offer a free track from a more well known artist. This year Regina Spektor stepped into a studio for them and recorded My Dear Acquaintance (A Happy New Year). Anna and I used this song to ring in the new year. It shall be a blessing to you too ... just follow this link:
My Dear Acquaintance (A Happy New Year) by Regina Spektor
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Oh mercy, mercy. Where in the world to begin? How about ten minutes ago - sitting near the bathtub next to my son. Anna asked if I would like to give him a bath, or whether she should do it. My turn. I'll take this one.
I sit next to him, but I'm not really there. Thinking, thinking ... letting my mind slip beyond and before this scene in my life, a life that is only made up of moments. I mindlessly lather my hands with Dr. Bronner's castile soap, as though I had been brainwashed by the mantras canvasing the bottle. Wyatt wrestles the blue balloon and old rubber basketball he has carried with him like dolls to the tub. He places the balloon in between the faucet and two handles that distribute hot and cold. I am impressed, but weary. He has to raise himself onto his knees to reach that high, and there's the chance he could slip, bang his head upon metal protrusions. Floating in my precautionary mind is always the risk, the horrible images of what should never be. So, I watch, and prepare my arms for action: the forever tension.
For Wyatt, the world is magical, and he expects me to carry the pixy dust that makes it dance. I have a few tricks - play a song and dance to its tune, spin a ball. I have a new, remote controlled helicopter that fascinates him for a few minutes. I tried all of these today, but all I wanted to do was watch football. So I tried to convince Wyatt that watching football too is spectacular - using that amazing stock of wonder my son has in me from some deep, mythological place.
I positioned his potato-sack body on top of my lap, lounging in the newest retro chair. At first he loved it, watching the ball appear and disappear between twenty-two hulking men broadcast through air from sunny places to my cold house. But his attention waned after he tasted what it was like to be me in this regard, and I was ushered out of lethargy into attentiveness - doing my best to communicate and engage.
I parent with wild gestures and games of primeval motions: tag, spinning, wrestling, burying my nose into the slivers of exposed neck. It works him up; our shared frustration from a world too confined by winter. We want to get out and run. But, we can't, so I return to the football game and let myself become dull...
My son does no such thing. Wyatt has this new expression when he sees something dramatic. His eyebrows arch upward as his chin descends with delight, and his mouth forms that perfect "o" you saw Charles Shulz draw upon Lucy as she sings a carol for A Charlie Brown Christmas. Expectant, surprised, elated: it is the face of wonder, and he compliments it at other times by passing a "whoa" from his tiny soul beyond his lips. Actually, I think his soul is the larger between he and I.
"Wyatt, do you want to stay in the bath for two more minutes, or do you want me to get you out right now?" I speak the question Anna taught me six months ago from a book about parenting with love and logic. It's a way for Wyatt to feel like he has some control over this decision. I know it’s healthy, but I also know I will get him out in a thirty seconds, hoping he can’t tell time yet.
He will fall asleep before me tonight. He is exhausted from the living, the discovery. I, however, have lived the wonder already. My mind turns then in these closing hours to the piecing of reality, the planning for tomorrow. I return to managing the mystery and becoming less of what I need to be while my child rests with a mind that knows no planning or limits.
Another day. A new year. The same pacing of minutes, the matter of duty and joy and survival that I never knew before I had a child. I never knew the steady exhaustion that is parenting - the emptying of oneself to entertain and educate. Now I know: how my child has more discovery than I have answers, how my son has more eagerness for life than I have discipline to curtail or knowledge to teach. Anna knows better, feels it more acutely. I only think I know the way a child begins to depend on you, need you. I have not nourished a child with my own energy and life and blood. I have not housed this home day in and day out for over a year. She has, though, and now she carries another child in her womb. More dependency, more discovery: the wonderful mix of giving and getting life.