He gets points for the USB Jesus Fish!
(Wondering if the car has Rich Corinthian Leather.)
Here in the Greater Cincinnati area an organization called Answers In Genesis has, um, blessed us with something known as The Creation Museum, which I am told offers a novel take on our planet's history.
One sunny day while driving I learned that The Creation Museum apparently has need of its own K-9 security division.
Must be to keep those dinosaurs in check.
Audio: What’s your favorite carol or holiday song?
One of the religious songs I love even though I’m not religious. This lovely and quiet performance brings a payload of biting commentary that readily resonates today. To some people it’s probably over the top, or maudlin, or too obvious, or whatever. Tough nuts. I think it’s great.
[Yet another dopey case where I can't embed the YouTube content. No matter—just follow the link. –Ed.]
I was asked recently to suggest a Pedro the Lion/David Bazan song as an intro to the band. I've yet to listen to the whole catalog, but I'm especially partial to 2002's Control, a narrative album about corporate midlife misery. So I'll go with "Rapture," the song that hooked me to begin with. Though Bazan is often known as a Christian songwriter, the occasional religious language on the album is witheringly ironic, the worldview bleak, the few moments of joy ephemeral and chimerical. (I haven't Googled around to assess his mindset at the time, but today he professes to no longer be a Christian.) I love the melodies and the way he puts the song together.
I rarely go out to see live music. For some reason, I recently caught three shows in eight days, all at Southgate House. I've already blathered here about TMBG and a little about Robyn Hitchcock. Now I'll finish blathering about Mr. Hitchcock and tell you about David Bazan.
Robyn Hitchcock – 11/8/2007
Good crowd size. Not deserted, but not overwhelming. Southgate House had the tables out. I got there early and snagged one.
Sean Nelson opened. He seemed surprisingly uncomfortable. He played his piano parts from sheet music and still seemed to be learning them. He kept looking down at his hands and going off-mic. I wondered if he should get a headset mic. Or maybe he's used to one and didn't have it. He's got a strong voice and sometimes kicked the hell out of the PA system. (I'll leave the solution to that to live audio pros…a limiter, maybe?) I admit the technical issues distracted me from the songs. That's a shame because I think there's quality work there. And I sympathize, because I've been onstage and felt at odds with gear myself. His continued gigging should help.
Robyn Hitchcock's performance made me happy. Robyn isn't an obsessively tight performer, but he was completely at ease with his voice, his guitar, and the songs. (Okay, he completely blanked on one toward the end of the show. No harm done.) The monologues, intoned in a British baritone, were often hysterically funny, non-sequiturs and insanities flowing out as smoothly and nonchalantly as forecasts from a television weatherman. He dedicated his set to "Country Bill Clinton." I was very happy to hear "I Often Dream of Trains," the song I wanted to hear most of all. (A lot of people in the audience seemed to feel the same way.) Sean Nelson appeared later in the set on backup vocals, seeming much more comfortable than before.
After the show I bolted from my seat and nudged my way up to the front of the line at the CD stand. No sooner had I bought a copy of Olé! Tarantula when Robyn emerged from what my friend Mark tells me is a dismal pit of a green room. He got to me second. I wanted to say something clever, but apparently I thought it would be more helpful if I just stood there like a big dork. He drew a bug for me. I thanked him and he looked at me professorially, sort of like John Houseman in The Paper Chase, and then moved on to the next party.
For more about the show (including, impressively, a set list) take a look at fellow Queen City Voxer M—–l's play-by-play. It includes a lot of things I promptly forgot.
David Bazan – 11/13/2007
David Bazan is the former frontman for Pedro the Lion. He writes some of the most incandescent gloom-and-doom songs you'll ever find. His doleful voice, sounding at times depressed to the point of lethargy, delivers unflinchingly realist narratives about doomed love and alcoholism and religion and stuff. I think he is very very very good.
The unexpectedly young crowd–I really felt out of place–didn't seem to know what to do when Mr. Bazan walked onto the stage and picked up his Telecaster. Maybe I should have jumped on a table and started howling and applauding. Unfortunately, the tables at Southgate House are small and wobbly, and I would only have fallen on my ass. So there he was, tuning up while one sensed a silent collective "duhhhhh" from the crowd.
Soon he got underway and boy, did he sound good. I do wish he'd had a backing band, whether PtL or a purpose-built group, because his robust songs, with their heavy and often plodding rhythms, benefit from solid drums and bass. After a few songs he did something I haven't seen before: he looked up at the audience and said, "So, does anyone have any questions at this point in the show?" And they did. He answered several questions about the meaning of specific songs, and he said he was no longer a Christian (although he wisely declined to enter into an extended discussion of religion).
Bazan passed over most songs from Control and Achilles Heel, albums that really need the band wallop. He played a lot of new material–a challenge for the audience who's probably unfamiliar with it, but a treat nonetheless. He also took on Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." I can't think of a better combination.
The audience may not have given Bazan an appropriate welcome, but they knew how to handle the closing. He finished up and promptly started putting away his guitar and coiling up his cables. Everyone kept clapping. He waved as if to say, "Ahh, go on home." But the audience was undeterred, and finally he came back to the mic and thanked us for being the first audience on the tour to make him uncoil his cables. And he did, and he gave us a couple more songs.
After the show Bazan perched onstage and talked to some folks. I thought about buying a CD and hanging out for his autograph, but it looked like it would be a while and it was getting late, so I headed out.
The opening act was Jim Fairchild, aka All Smiles. I'm afraid his set didn't do anything for me, although I'm more impressed by what I hear on his MySpace page.
So there you go. Eight days, three shows. My my.
Without a doubt, my life is not average. But I'd like to say, just because it is excessive doesn't necessarily mean it's wrong.
–Rev. Creflo Dollar
So, I happened upon the web site gods4suckers.net, and it occurred to me: might religious parties have snapped up similar domain names in an effort to undermine the spread of blasphemy? Curious, I typed in godis4suckers.com, and was immediately rewarded with:
Ahem. Yes, that pretty much sums up my top ten list for the day.
(On my way out, a pop-up beseeched me to look into additional categories including "government grants," "make my dick bigger," and "immigration to Canada.")
I like to give some money to charity each year. But how much? Usually the numbers are arbitrary, figures that vaguely feel or look right.
Today, after listening to a couple of co-workers spouting threadbare political clichés (a substitute for actual original thought, which would require effort), it occurred to me to implement an annoyance fund.
It’s very simple. Each time someone I know annoys me with their unsolicited and ideologically-charged rhetorical grandstanding, I will earmark a preset amount of money for a charity chosen especially to annoy the living piss out of them.
This is not about "political correctness" or censorship or trying to shut someone up. This is about appropriateness, about manners, about civility. In short, it's about compensating people for being assholes.
Now the big question: do I tell them I’m doing this? It gets into a lot of second-guessing. If I announced my plan, would I get welcome peace and quiet at the expense of worthy nonprofits? Or would the perpetrators to be extra-obnoxious in a wrong-headed effort to bleed me dry? Would I give them ideas, inspiring to do something similar of their own, only for charities I didn’t like?
If I didn’t tell them, how much would I miss the satisfaction of watching the steam come out of their ears?
Will I announce fund activity here?
So, there are some details to be ironed out, but consider the tally started. I’m counting three strikes on it already—one for today, two for recent days. This is fun!
I’m not usually this vindictive. Really.
[This was a video I found by way of a fellow Voxer called Misanthropist. Alas, Misanthropist left Vox before I did, and the link ceased to function. I think the video had something to do with atheism and religion—which, given that we're talking about Bill Maher, could be almost anything. So, essentially, you now know that I once found a Bill Maher clip funny enough to link to. (The text below is Misanthropist's, not mine. It has been a really, really long time since I studied any chem.) –Ed.]