Monday, May 29, 2006

Northern Virginia Church Bands

Northern Virginia Church Bands So I came across this blog while doing a google search. Aparently this lady goes to different churches and rates the bands. She seems to be focused on how the band played and what the services were like. I wonder if she gets the WHOLE story or just records her impressions of the service.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Now THAT'S what I call singing!

Jane MonheitSo I couldn't sleep last night and I decided to watch a little TV. Man, am I glad I did. I was surfing and came across Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis. This particular episode was called "The American Songbook" and starred guitarist/vocalist John Pizzarelli and this lovely lady, Jane Monheit. John Pizzarelli can play the snow off the Arctic and this girl can sing in a way that makes you want to wake the wife.

One of the tunes she sang on this show was Sammy Cahn's "I Should Care" and it evoked a reaction in this writer that I haven't had in a while. It was saucy and sexy and full of longing and phrasing that made you just want to clap and shout. And it was a smooth as satin and as welcome as sweet tea on a hot day.

She said that her influences were Judy Garland and Ella Fitzgerald and she hears them each time she sings. But guys I gotta tell you, this lady's voice reaches into your heart and pulls on the strings.

She sounds a little like another jazz mama Diana Krall but Jane has got that sultry jazz singer thang down! She reminded me a little bit - don't laugh - of the mannerisms of Jessica Rabbit. (Jessica's a cartoon and Jane's real - and believe me I know the difference. But that same kind of sultriness that Jessica parodied in the movie Jane has for real).

Jane Monheit (c) Epic RecordsBut Jane's voice and mannerisms had a vulnerability that just reached out and made me want to rescue her. She said she chooses songs because she feels something. And man she makes you feel it.

The version that she and John Pizzarelli did on this show was "The Way You Wear Your Hat (They Can't Take That Away From Me)" and dude, I'll tell you, it was one of those versions of the tune that you will never forget. This lady is definitely one to add to the collection. Might be time for a trip to Ye Olde Record Shoppe.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Tired Old Men that We Elected King ....

Comic by Mike Keefe Cartoon (c) Mike Keefe
Have you been following the case on Capitol Hill where the Speaker Dennis Hastert is up in arms because the FBI raided the office of Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson after they had VIDEOTAPED him taking $100,000 in bribes? They found the cash wrapped in aluminum foil in his freezer in a DC apartment. And nobody is saying what he did was wrong! Nobody is bothering to say "Hey, you caught me. I screwed up. Sorry." Nah they're talking Constitutional issues over the separation of powers. Is this a case of the lawMAKERS being law BREAKERS because they don't think they are subject to the same rules as the rest of us?

According to news reports, "The FBI executed a search warrant to raid Jefferson's office Saturday night as part of a bribery investigation against the congressman. Earlier, authorities said they had videotaped Jefferson last summer taking $100,000 in bribe money and that agents had found $90,000 of that cash stuffed in a freezer in his Washington apartment. "

Now there are reports that Hastert himself might be involved in a corruption case. He denies it, and says that it was part of a campaign of intimidation and someone at Justice leaked the info to ABC to intimidate him. But the FBI has videotape of Jefferson taking the $100,000. Why isn't Hastert more concerned that a Member has been caught with his hand in the till?

According to the Speaker: "What we want to do,'' Hastert said,"is not protect people who broke the law. But we need to protect the division of powers and the Constitution of the United States. And that's one of the things I talked to the President about."

Even the President has weighed in on this, ordering the paperwork sealed until the White House and the Congress can work out some protocol. Meanwhile, the excuses will come hard and fast, and all the King's men will have a nice week off and come back for a few weeks before taking the Summer off. Elections are in November. Remember to vote - unless of course you have an extra $100,000 to stuff in your fridge.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

It's ALL to Make you Buy Pizza

So I spent a couple of hours last night watching the season finale of LOST on ABC. That's good news for the series' producers and ABC, and of course their advertisers. The show tied together some threads and made some things make sense, but it also left viewers hanging. And exploring this whole phenomenon, I found out that the marketing men (and women) in the little black rooms have tied this series to a whole plethora of web and phone and e-mail interfaces that are intended to suck viewers deeper into the vortex that is LOST. And of course to hold them there long enough to pipe the advertisers' messages into our brains.

So the finale brings the sailboat to shore, on which we find Desmond, the man who was in the Hatch pushing the button until John Locke took over. Seems he has been trying to sail away since Henry David Cusick as Desmond (c) Wikipedia.comrunning away from the hatch, and all he has been able to do is get back to the same island. We learn from a backstory, that the sailboat is named "Elizabeth" and is owned by none other than Libby (a contraction of Elizabeth) who was gunned down by Michael in his efforts to get Walt back.

And why did Desmond have the boat from Libby - she gave it to him to forget her dead husband David. Seems that he wanted to sail to the Mediterranean but died before accomplishing that. So Desmond wants to sail the boat around the world to win money from his long lost love's father, who happens to have served on the board of the Hanso Foundation, which operates the Dharma initiative etc., etc. Desmond's "partner" in the hatch was the CIA man who turned Sayid into a torturer (earlier in season 2). And the connections go on and on making "six degrees of Kevin Bacon" look like a child's game.

And it makes for a fascinating exploration of an alternative universe. But remember one thing: IT'S ALL TO GET YOU TO BUY STUFF. Some of the hyperlinks and websites are tied into Sprite, others to, others to other advertisers. And it is all to get you to BUY stuff.

Don't be fooled. It's all about the Benjamins. Including the book that Desmond is reading in the Hatch - Charles Dickens's Our Mutual Friend.

So enjoy the ride but understand there are men in little dark rooms trying to sell you things.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Pat Speaks, again...

God warned Robertson about tsunami?Pat Robertson
Pat Robertson has said on the 700 Club that God has told him that severe storms could lash the United States this year with something as severe as a tsunami hitting the Pacific Northwest.

Robertson says that he received this information in a time of private prayer in January. It is the latest in a series of controversial statements by the television evangelist.

Robertson has had a couple of high-profile pronouncements in the past year that have gotten him in hot water. He said that if a disaster struck a town in Pennsylvania that voted out its school board because the board favored Intelligent Design, the town should not look for help from God because it had thrown God out.

Robertson also said that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was a threat to the United States and we should send a team of people down there to "take him out."

Also, the CBN founder said that former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was punishment from God for giving away the Gaza strip to the Palestinians.

It could be that we will be lashed by storms. It is not much of a stretch to believe that severe weather would hit the United States, particularly since we had so many named storms last year that the National Hurricane Center ran out of letters to use and had to go the Greek Alphabet.

Also, the Pacific Northwest is part of what is called "The Ring of Fire", which is a series of intersections of tectonic plates in the earth.

Since the movement of these plates cause earthquakes and an undersea earthquake caused the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, it is not outlandish to believe that such a thing could happen.

Among some tribes in the Pacific Northwest there is a tradition of a thunderbird who did battle with a whale, which some scientists say is a depiction of an earthquake and a tsunami

It is also not out in left field to say that Jesus predicted such things would take place (Mt. 24:7= Mk 13:8 = Lk 21:11).

So it's not too wacky for Pat to say such things. Whether God told him specifically of these disasters is not too outlandish, for charismatic Christians (like me) believe in the modern-day revelation of God's will through the Holy Spirit, either through inward impressions, thoughts, or the illumination of a passage of Scripture.

But the proof is in the pudding so the old saying goes. Will these things hit the USA this year? They could. Some say that such pronouncements have no value because if they happen the person is proven to be a prophet and if they don't the person can say it was because people prayed and God stayed the disasters.

I'll leave that to a Higher Authority. One thing that does concern me is when Christians hear people say controversial things they have the same sneering, knee-jerk reaction as those who do not claim to know Christ.

So as Christians let's be discerning, but let's remember that discerning is not a synonym for condemnatory.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (1 Pe 3:15,16)

But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!
(Gal 5:15)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Whadda you NUTS!

Northern Cardinal Female (c) www.carolhaubner.comAs I was leaving for work today, I saw a female cardinal bird attacking herself in the window of a van that was parked in my driveway. She perched on the mirror - and was quite comical as she tried to keep her footing - and would then fly and peck her reflection in the window. She did this for a while. All I could think was "are you crazy?!" Maybe we could take a lesson from her.

I tried to honk my horn to get her to stop, but she seemed impervious to my efforts. She just kept pecking away at the reflection. Apparently its part of her genetics. From what I have been able to find, cardinals are aggressive and territorial, especially during mating season.

She apparently thought that the bird she saw was another cardinal - one that she perceived as a threat. The behavior usually stops one of two ways - you put something on the glass to cover the reflection or the bird bangs its head in or hurts itself to the point where it stops.

Have you ever acted like that?

I have. As they say in recovery insanity is "doing the same thing and expecting different results." I have done that. I have stayed in relationships that were - to put it gently - "chew your arm off" terrible. You know, like a coyote that will chew its own leg off to get out of a trap. And I stayed in them even though I wanted to get out of them.

I have stayed in jobs that sucked the life out of me even when I wanted to get out simply because I had no where else to go.

I have stayed in churches where I knew the life was gone out of them and yet I kept hoping for it to get better. But it didn't. So why did I stay? Was I nuts? Was I like the cardinal that kept pecking away at the same target because it was angry or thought it was threatened?

So what to do in a situation like that? The best minds I have encountered say the first step to healthy thinking is surrender - realize that your life is unmanageable. So that's the first step. The second one? Come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could deliver us from our insanity.

Then what? Surrender. Make a conscious decision to turn our lives over to God as we understood Him. We call these three steps the codependent's waltz - 1-2-3, 1-2-3. And we keep doing them.

There are other steps, but these three keep coming up. So let's keep dancing. There is a step four - actually there are 12. But the first one has to be to stop pecking the mirror and realize that we don't have to attack the phantom reflection.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Mother's Day

Det. Vicky Armel (c) washingtonpost.comThere are two children this mother's day who will remember it more for the pain than the celebration. There is a mother nearby who mourns the loss of her son. There is a community in shock, still struggling to understand "why?" We all are. Why did Michael Kennedy decide that the best way to express himself was to take several weapons to a police station and start shooting? Why did Vicky Armel get killed leaving two small children and a husband behind?

From what we have learned, Vicky Armel was a dedicated policewoman, who loved her family, loved God and was enthusiastic about everything she did. She was also a decorated officer, the only woman in the history of the Fairfax Police Department to earn the "distinguished shooter" award which requires five perfect scores in a row.

Michael Kennedy (c0 washingtonpost.comMichael Kennedy appears to have been a troubled young man who left suicidal notebooks, and lived in a house full of guns. He had a website where his browser ID was "ghost." He talked of being an alien who had to save the planet from evil aliens disguised as human beings. Some have described him as "a normal kid" while others said lately he was depressed, and talked about aliens and saving the world. He had been arrested for carjacking in Montgomery County and had received mental health treatment. He escaped from a mental health facility in Maryland. He also lived in Centreville with his parents and little sister.

Meanwhile, Fairfax Police Officer Michael E. Garbarino remains hospitalized after being shot several times during the meleƃ©. It was his cries for help over the radio that sent Vicky Armel and other officers out of the Sully Police Station to confront Michael Kennedy.

The question that I have asked most is "how did this kid get all these guns? Was it at a gun show? Did his parents give them to him? Did some of them belong to his parents?" We don't know yet.

Are such weapons necessary in a civilized society? An AK-47 was made for one purpose - to kill people. It's not a hunting rifle; it's not for sport. It's to kill people. It was developed for motorized infantry - infantry as in soldiers in the Russian Army! If you Google this weapon you find more than four million hits on the Internet. And it was banned as part of the Federal Assault Weapons ban, which - ironically - expired in September of 2004.

So why did an 18-year-old have one of these things? What does it say about us that we think that the free traffic of such instruments of death is a profitable business protected by the Constitution. Do we really thing the Framers had an AK-47 in mind when they wrote the Second Amendment?

But that is a debate that has raged hotter and longer than this forum can handle. So we grieve with those who have lost loved ones - the Armels and the Kennedys. Pray for them - and for your mothers and sons.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Bad Mamma Jamma!

Marcus Miller (c)chrisjara.comSo a friend of mine let me listen to a couple of Marcus Miller CDs and my response was again "We're not worthy!" This brother can thump with the best of them. Makes me realize I have a long way to go. But hey, he's a pro and one of those names that people say with a certain sense of awe. So thump on!

But his fretless playing (for all you mwah hatahs out there) is on par with anyone I have heard too. And he's coming to the DC area. Wolftrap June 9th to be exact. I would love to check him out but that's also the first day of the World Cup in Germany, and the man wants me to be writing about das fussballers!

But Marcus at Wolftrap would certainly be worth the price of admission. Especially since he has Stanley Clarke on the same bill. Make it funky, y'all.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Oh Manfred Where Art Thou?

Byrdman with the WACO- ZPF-7 I got the chance to do something today - my 44th birthday - that I have wanted to do for literally 40 years - I got to ride in an open cockpit biplane.

And not just any biplane.

A radial-engine 1942 WACO ZPF-7! Okay so I didn't know what kind of plane it was before today, but it was GREAT! It was a perfect day to fly and a perfect present(from my lovely wife) for an somewhat middle-aged guy who has always been fascinated by flight.

This particular bird is owned by John Corradi, who I found out used to fly a P-3 Orion when he was a Naval Aviator.He also flew with United Airlines for 30 years, flying the B-727 and the 777 before retiring in September 2002. Thas right y'all he was working for United on 9-11. But a more pleasant host and wonderful captain I have not met. (Of course this was the first time, but some jet jocks can be a little arrogant; not John. He was great).

We had a perfect day to fly and I got to wear the Snoopy helmet.Where's that Red Baron!?It was really something. We were cruising at about 650-700 feet on a perfectly clear day. The temperature on the ground was about 65 degrees, but I was wearing a heavy shirt and leather jacket to fly. And yes I got the silk scarf to go with it. I mean if you're going to do something like this, why not? Besides, the Red Baron and I share the same birthday!

But it was absolutely the smoothest roller coaster I have ever been on. We didn't go acrobatic - although you can if you pay a little more and go through the mandatory parachute fitting and briefing. Frankly, the way you are situated in the aircraft, it isn't going to do you much good, particularly in a tumble or a spin. You're probably not going to have time to get out of the aircraft, but the FAA requires the chute and the briefing anyway.

But this was a fantastic ride for flight nuts. The first thing we did was go over a home a few miles from the airport where John's mother is staying and fly low and wave. I was a blast and all I could say was YEEEEHAAHHH!

Then we went over John's farm just to check on the cows. They seemed not to notice as we swooped down near the tree line over his landing strip - in the back yard of course.

John took me over to the Flying Circus Airfield - which opens its season this weekend by the way. They are in the process of putting the roof on a pavillion (so folks can get out of the sun a little). It also has a grass landing strip and of course we had to buzz it from both directions. (Did I mention the YEEEEHAAH factor?)Hey Mom from a hard right yeeehah
Then we went over Luck Stone quarry near Culpepper. Apparently the office manager there is something to behold - and John wanted to buzz by and say hello. Down from 650 feet to about 200 and a little gun of the engine. Jet jocks. But again, it was YEEEHAAAH!

All too fast it was time to set down. John put this bird down as smooth as a feather landing on cotton. I kept waiting to hear the wheels chirp, but nothing. I just heard the engine gear down a little and we started to roll slowly toward the hangar.

If you want to feel what it feels like to be an eagle - as close to freedom from the workaday BS as you can get, call this guy. We get one spin on this ball. No repeats, no bet on black instead of red this time. Riding with this guy is one thing you could tell the great grandkids about. They have their own webpage. The title of this post links you to it. YEEE HAAAAHH!!!All Smiles post flight

Gearhead stuff:

The plan is a WACO ZPF-7.
(pronounced WAH-ko; WAY-ko is a town in Texas)
Manufacture: 1942.
Engine: Jacobs R-755 radial engine made in Guthrie Oklahoma.
Prop: a Hamilton Standard 2B20.
Aircraft Gross weight: is 2,880 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 50 gallons (burns about 16 gallons per hour).
Oil: four gallons of oil (which leaks - of course, all radials do. John said that if your radial engine is not leaking oil, you need to set down because YOU'RE OUT).
Yee Hah factor: Absolutely phenomenal.