occasional down time

Don’t be suprised if you see occasional downtime on my blog here over the next several days; the server on which it runs has been under attack by spammers for the last week and Geof (the trusty and generous hosting provider) is having the server wiped and then doing a full re-load this weekend.

Best wishes to Geof as he spends his weekend at a no-fun task.

The day I became Fred’s hero

I don’t know what triggered this memory today… but I might as well tell the story while I’m thinking about it.

I was in my third year at LeTU when I got asked to be the pianist for some special music during chapel. Now, this was not an unusual request; by this time in my college life I had become the de facto college pianist, doing lots of special music, I was lead accompianist for the singing group, etc. On this particular day, though, the musical content was going to be a bit different.

My friend Mark Holmes, a phenomenal tenor in the Singers, was slated to do a special, and he was having a hard time deciding what to do. Finally, in a move worthy of a bad college movie somewhere, he chose to sing a “Christianized” version of the classic Johnny B. Goode. As I recall, the lyrics were totally cheesy; the chorus ended “go, Johnny, go – go preach the Word.” Yikes.

So anyhow, I had been recruited to play the piano to back him up; we also had a good drummer, a bass player whose name eludes me, and then Fred playing the guitar. Fred was a couple years behind me; he was tall and redheaded, with a beard and ponytail completing his wanna-be rock star image. He was pretty much a goofball when it came to music, which made him fun. He was thrilled to have the opportunity to prove his electric guitar prowess on this dubious semi-cover, and so our band was complete. We practiced a few times, and got it polished enough to be acceptable at the musical abyss that was LeTourneau.

The morning came for chapel and we were slated to do special music right before the message. We revved it up and did an energetic (if not totally polished) rendition, just as we had practiced. What I had not practiced, however, was coming down on a glissando down the keyboard (that sweeping motion where you just run the back of your fingers down the keyboard) and hit a black key the wrong way, and, lo and behold, the black part of the key just broke off. I’ve never seen it happen before or since. The wood was probably kinda soft in that key, and I just torqued it the right way. It’s the only time (to my knowledge) that I’ve ever caused damage to a piano by playing it.

When we were packing up our gear after chapel, I picked up the key and tossed it over to Fred. You’d think he had died and gone to rock-n-roll heaven – he thought it was the most cool thing that somebody had broken a piano while playing a song. I think every time we did music for chapel after that the subject came up, always with amazement and laughter. Fortunately for me, a little bit of Elmer’s wood glue was sufficient to fix the piano so the next pianist in line could have their E-flat.

The epilogue to this story is the memory that this wasn’t the last time I played Johnny B. Goode in chapel. A year or so later, an instructor at the school (also a talented guitarist, now a co-worker here in Iowa) was up for special music, and he chose to do Johnny B. again. He did the original version, complete with the word “hell”, which raised a few of the stodgy faculty eyebrows. 🙂 He introduced the song this way:

“Last week, a Romanian choir came and sang some traditional songs from their homeland. This morning, I’d like to sing a traditional song from my homeland.”

This time, I managed to keep the piano in one piece.

The day I became Fred’s hero

I don’t know what triggered this memory today… but I might as well tell the story while I’m thinking about it.

I was in my third year at LeTU when I got asked to be the pianist for some special music during chapel. Now, this was not an unusual request; by this time in my college life I had become the de facto college pianist, doing lots of special music, I was lead accompianist for the singing group, etc. On this particular day, though, the musical content was going to be a bit different.

My friend Mark Holmes, a phenomenal tenor in the Singers, was slated to do a special, and he was having a hard time deciding what to do. Finally, in a move worthy of a bad college movie somewhere, he chose to sing a “Christianized” version of the classic Johnny B. Goode. As I recall, the lyrics were totally cheesy; the chorus ended “go, Johnny, go – go preach the Word.” Yikes.

So anyhow, I had been recruited to play the piano to back him up; we also had a good drummer, a bass player whose name eludes me, and then Fred playing the guitar. Fred was a couple years behind me; he was tall and redheaded, with a beard and ponytail completing his wanna-be rock star image. He was pretty much a goofball when it came to music, which made him fun. He was thrilled to have the opportunity to prove his electric guitar prowess on this dubious semi-cover, and so our band was complete. We practiced a few times, and got it polished enough to be acceptable at the musical abyss that was LeTourneau.

The morning came for chapel and we were slated to do special music right before the message. We revved it up and did an energetic (if not totally polished) rendition, just as we had practiced. What I had not practiced, however, was coming down on a glissando down the keyboard (that sweeping motion where you just run the back of your fingers down the keyboard) and hit a black key the wrong way, and, lo and behold, the black part of the key just broke off. I’ve never seen it happen before or since. The wood was probably kinda soft in that key, and I just torqued it the right way. It’s the only time (to my knowledge) that I’ve ever caused damage to a piano by playing it.

When we were packing up our gear after chapel, I picked up the key and tossed it over to Fred. You’d think he had died and gone to rock-n-roll heaven – he thought it was the most cool thing that somebody had broken a piano while playing a song. I think every time we did music for chapel after that the subject came up, always with amazement and laughter. Fortunately for me, a little bit of Elmer’s wood glue was sufficient to fix the piano so the next pianist in line could have their E-flat.

The epilogue to this story is the memory that this wasn’t the last time I played Johnny B. Goode in chapel. A year or so later, an instructor at the school (also a talented guitarist, now a co-worker here in Iowa) was up for special music, and he chose to do Johnny B. again. He did the original version, complete with the word “hell”, which raised a few of the stodgy faculty eyebrows. 🙂 He introduced the song this way:

“Last week, a Romanian choir came and sang some traditional songs from their homeland. This morning, I’d like to sing a traditional song from my homeland.”

This time, I managed to keep the piano in one piece.

The day I became Fred’s hero

I don’t know what triggered this memory today… but I might as well tell the story while I’m thinking about it.

I was in my third year at LeTU when I got asked to be the pianist for some special music during chapel. Now, this was not an unusual request; by this time in my college life I had become the de facto college pianist, doing lots of special music, I was lead accompianist for the singing group, etc. On this particular day, though, the musical content was going to be a bit different.

My friend Mark Holmes, a phenomenal tenor in the Singers, was slated to do a special, and he was having a hard time deciding what to do. Finally, in a move worthy of a bad college movie somewhere, he chose to sing a “Christianized” version of the classic Johnny B. Goode. As I recall, the lyrics were totally cheesy; the chorus ended “go, Johnny, go – go preach the Word.” Yikes.

So anyhow, I had been recruited to play the piano to back him up; we also had a good drummer, a bass player whose name eludes me, and then Fred playing the guitar. Fred was a couple years behind me; he was tall and redheaded, with a beard and ponytail completing his wanna-be rock star image. He was pretty much a goofball when it came to music, which made him fun. He was thrilled to have the opportunity to prove his electric guitar prowess on this dubious semi-cover, and so our band was complete. We practiced a few times, and got it polished enough to be acceptable at the musical abyss that was LeTourneau.

The morning came for chapel and we were slated to do special music right before the message. We revved it up and did an energetic (if not totally polished) rendition, just as we had practiced. What I had not practiced, however, was coming down on a glissando down the keyboard (that sweeping motion where you just run the back of your fingers down the keyboard) and hit a black key the wrong way, and, lo and behold, the black part of the key just broke off. I’ve never seen it happen before or since. The wood was probably kinda soft in that key, and I just torqued it the right way. It’s the only time (to my knowledge) that I’ve ever caused damage to a piano by playing it.

When we were packing up our gear after chapel, I picked up the key and tossed it over to Fred. You’d think he had died and gone to rock-n-roll heaven – he thought it was the most cool thing that somebody had broken a piano while playing a song. I think every time we did music for chapel after that the subject came up, always with amazement and laughter. Fortunately for me, a little bit of Elmer’s wood glue was sufficient to fix the piano so the next pianist in line could have their E-flat.

The epilogue to this story is the memory that this wasn’t the last time I played Johnny B. Goode in chapel. A year or so later, an instructor at the school (also a talented guitarist, now a co-worker here in Iowa) was up for special music, and he chose to do Johnny B. again. He did the original version, complete with the word “hell”, which raised a few of the stodgy faculty eyebrows. 🙂 He introduced the song this way:

“Last week, a Romanian choir came and sang some traditional songs from their homeland. This morning, I’d like to sing a traditional song from my homeland.”

This time, I managed to keep the piano in one piece.

a leftist gets it right on terrorism

William Saletan in Slate:

Bin Laden’s whole game plan is to turn the people of the democratic world against their governments. He thinks democracies are weak because their people, who are more easily frightened than their governments, can bring those governments down. He doesn’t understand that this flexibility—and this trust—are why democracies will live, while he will die. Many of us didn’t vote for Bush’s government or Blair’s. But we’re loyal to them, in part because we were given a voice in choosing them. And if we don’t like our governments, we can vote them out. We can’t vote out terrorists. We can only kill them.

This guy gets it.

[HT: James Taranto at OpinionJournal]

Sahara

Last night we had a babysitter available and so we went to the cheap seats theater in town and watched Sahara. It is loosely based on the novel of the same name by Clive Cussler. Becky and I are both huge fans of Cussler’s Dirk Pitt series, so we were looking forward to seeing what they’d do with his novel in the movie.

It’s beyond me why they haven’t tried to translate more of the Dirk Pitt series onto the big screen; for swashbuckling adventure tales, they’re tops. (The one attempt thus far, Raise the Titanic! may have discouraged others from trying… it was horrible!) Perhaps it’s the slight lack of realism… but wait, we’re talking about Hollywood here. Part of what makes Cussler’s books so fun, IMHO, is that if the hero is on a quest to find some mysterious hidden treasure, he finds it. None of this “oh it didn’t really exist at all but at least you had a good adventure” type of ending for Mr. Cussler. Nosirree. The hero gets the girl, drives a cool old car, wisecracks with his trusty sidekick, saves the world, and finds his treasure to boot. Realism? Who needs realism?

I wasn’t so sure about the casting of Matthew McConaughey and Steve Zahn as Dirk Pitt and Al Giordino. Fortunately, they suprised me. McConaughey was excellent, and they captured the fun-loving spirit and wise-cracking nature of the two characters really well. They interacted as though they had been friends for their whole lives (which, in the books they have been). My only gripe was that Zahn’s character was too dumb most of the time. I realize Steve Zahn has made a career out of playing “hi, I’m a doofus” characters. I wish they could have made him just a bit more heroic; in the books Al Giordino is just as much a thinker as Pitt; just with a different personality. That didn’t come through so well in the movie.

At the end, Becky asked “where’s the Clive Cussler cameo?” If you’ve read any of the books, you know that Cussler writes himself in with a small cameo appearance in every book. (Becky likened this to Hitchcock’s appearances in each of his movies.) It’s another one of those things that makes Dirk Pitt novels so much fun – when is Cussler going to appear? It would have been a neat nod to the books if they had written it in somehow… but it was not to be. I guess they can only base so much on the book.

All in all, it was a fun night out. And it was only Thursday. That almost makes it feel like a longer weekend, if it just wasn’t for the fact that I’m working today… 🙂

A nice weekend

Normally I don’t do a lot of “here’s what I did with my weekend”-type posts, but it was a nice weekend, so since I need to update the blog I figured I’d just have to. Oh, first things first: my brother Ryan has decided to start a blog. Don’t know how much he’ll maintain it, but I’ve added it to the list of links on the right.

Anyhow, to the weekend. Friday night we got a babysitter and went out on a date. Nice to have some time to just be with the two of us after a busy week. We went to Chili’s and had ribs for supper, then went to Barnes & Noble to browse for a while. I bought a 2-disk CD album of Thelonious Monk and his quartet, Live at the “It” Club. I’d not listened to any Monk before, but a friend recommended him because of my love for Harry Connick, Jr. I was not disappointed. 2 1/2 hours of live club performance from 1964, digitally remastered so that it sounds great. I’ve been listening to it for the past couple evenings and it’s excellent. Forgot to bring it to work today so I guess it won’t make its way onto my iPod until tomorrow. So, after B&N, we went down to our favorite little coffeeshop and each had a cappucino smoothie. I sat and improvised on the piano for a while and Becky sat and read a book. What a nice way to spend a Friday evening!

Saturday we got up early and worked on an outdoor construction project. Becky has been planning on building some planters back behind the garage for the past several months; the landscape timbers to build said planters have been sitting on our patio for the past 6 weeks or so. Finally we had a free weekend to build. Finished those up by early afternoon. They will be really nice to have.

With the long weekend we got to enjoy Monday off as well. We did a bunch of cleanup in the morning, in preparation for having several friends over in the afternoon. It rained non-stop from 9:00 until 1:30 or so; we were afraid it might be too wet to spend time outside, but no, it dried out nicely and was beautiful. We invited Steve & Amanda and their kids, Ginger came as well (Daniel’s off to Amsterdam today flying freight), and then a new couple that just moved up here, Jeremiah and Rebecca. We had a great time getting to know them – they seem like a lot of fun, hope we can get to know them better. What I wouldn’t give to have them end up making Noelridge their church home… but they’re looking for a home in Monticello (30 minutes away) to shorten Jeremiah’s commute, so I wouldn’t place good odds on them coming to CR for church… oh well.

Now it’s Tuesday and I’m back at work. I’ve got a project certification plan document to update today. Fun fun. But it was a great, refreshing weekend. Thank the Lord for these times to kick back a bit and relax.

Sex and the Supremacy of Christ: A Review

I recently had the opportunity to review an advance copy of Sex and the Supremacy of Christ. Forthcoming from Crossway Books, it has a collection of chapters by various authors, all of them edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor. Piper’s Desiring God Ministry hosted a national conference in 2004 by this title (audio available here), and this book is the natural outflow or summation of the conference.

Sex and the Supremacy of Christ brings us a refreshing viewpoint on sex; Piper manages to avoid both tiptoeing around the subject and bludgeoning the reader with heavy-handed “thou shalt not”s. What we get instead is a series of reminders that sex is a God-created part of life, and as such we should glorify God with our sexuality by submitting even that area to His supremacy. To quote from Taylor’s introduction:

Suppose you wanted to know what the Bible teaches about sex. How would you go about finding out? A word search on variants of the word sex in an English Bible shows that it almost always occurs in the context of sexual immorality (Greek, porneia—from which we derive the word “pornography”). So you might conclude that the Bible does not have much to teach us about sex, and that when it does address sexuality, it does so only in a negative, prohibitory, prudish fashion.

But this would be a rather shallow conclusion. Scripture has a lot to say about sex, because Scripture has a lot to say about everything. So rather than searching the Bible only for the word sex, a more productive strategy would be to search the Bible for the term all things, since sex is obviously a subset of all things.

And so off we go, applying principles that the Bible has for how we should treat all things, and then applying them to sex. Indeed, he argues in the introduction, we can’t have a right understanding of sex without having an understanding of how sex relates to God. This volume then sets out to teach us how we can understand sex in relationship to all of our life and worldview, with the ultimate view of living to the glory of God.

The book is split into five sections: God and Sex, Sin and Sex, Men and Sex, Women and Sex, and finally History and Sex. The topics are fairly and practically addressed. Both single and married men and women are given practical advice on how to glorify God in their sexuality. Sexual sin is addressed appropriately, as sin, but with the immediate reminder of God’s desire for repentance, forgiveness, and healing. In the History section, we receive a wonderful story about Martin Luther, one-time celibate priest turned married reformationist. His marriage to and relationship with his wife, Katherine von Bora, is a valuable study to anyone either in or considering marriage.

Sex and the Supremacy of Christ is well worth buying, reading, and then, if you’re bold enough, sharing. It is a much-needed breath of fresh air in the somewhat stale atmosphere that is the Christian library on sex. And if my opinion counts for anything, it comes highly recommended.