Saturday, December 30, 2006

Do you feel safer?

Saddam is dead; hanged before sunrise this morning. But we are still at war in Iraq, there are still Americans over there being shot at by an enemy they cannot always see and cannot tell from normal Iraqis on the street. Do you feel safer? Oh, and as far as we know, Osama Bin Laden is still alive and well and hiding in Pakistan. One down, God knows how many to go.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Funk Connection

With all the tributes pouring in this week to James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, I wanted to add mine to the mix.

He was the fountainhead from which several very funky streams flowed. Without James Brown, there would have been no Parliament, no Funkadelic, no Prince, no Michael Jackson. There would have been no one to sample, no one to play really loud in sports stadiums, no way to tighten up. He also kept the lid on a racial explosion here in DC when MLK was assassinated, and was a leading figure in Muhammad Ali's Rumble in the Jungle in 1974.

He had his problems - drinking and women among them. But he was- and will always be - the Godfather.

I got the chance to interview the Godfather at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. (Actually, my funk meter was way beyond full that day, because I also interviewed George Clinton on the same day).

But here I am - country club, white boy, pale face - sitting in the House of Blues in Atlanta, Georgia. The room looked kind of like the Temptations described the "Psychedelic Shack" - carpets on the walls, incense, low, billowy couches to crash on. And I'm there waiting after the young lady who arranged the interview left me to find the Godfather.

And then, he came in.

He was smaller than I had imagined, but his presence filled the whole place. James Brown was wearing a blue double-breasted suit, no shirt (it was hot in Atlanta) black cowboy boots with silver toes, and his trademark hair and smile.

We shook hands and sat on one of the low couches for about 15 minutes to talk. I had to get over the "Oh my God, it's James Brown" reaction and try to ask intelligent questions. The fact that I was in the room with my soul hero was enough to make my trip worth the trouble.

But he was forever cool, and after the interview we shook hands, and he autographed a CD of a remix of several of his hits for me. I double checked my tape (yes we used tape in those days) and then sent the interview back to Washington for one of our music reporters to work with. It was a brush with greatness.

Rest in Peace Godfather. Make it Funky.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Hope ya got ryddim .....

cause 'tis the season to be fat. Unless you can dance like Emmitt Smith and his partner on Dancing With the Stars then you will need some other forms of exercise to burn off that holiday cheer. I read an article (click the title of this post to read it yourself) that listed some of the activity it would take to burn off different holiday foods. It made me want to say "bah humbug!"

The article is by Charles Stuart Platkin, the author of The Diet Detective's Count Down , who came up with a formula to calculate how much exercise would be needed to burn foods.

For six ounces of honey glazed ham: 26 minutes of swimming.

For four bite-size mini pizza? 23 minutes running.

For a candy cane? 19 minutes of yoga.

For one slice of fruitcake (the eternal Christmas food)? 55 minutes of dancing.

For one small (they didn't say what "small" means) of pecan pie? 54 minutes of biking, or an hour of swimming or a one hour, 11 minute run, or two hours and 10 minutes of walking.

See what I mean about the bah humbug!?

I saw comedian Carlos Mencia on "Mind of Mencia" the other night who was busting on fat people. He was merciless. An example: "Happiness is defined as doing what you love over and over again. You're fat, so?" Or another "The reason you're fat, and I'm no doctor, but I think it's because you put more in here (pointing to his mouth) than came out here (pointing to his backside). But again, I'm no doctor."

But we will all eat too much this year. Regardless of what we know about starving children in Africa (or Asia or South America). Even today, a guy at work brought cookies - home made Lithuanian cookies - and laid them on the table. And of course, I had a few. They were great with coffee. I plan to do some high-stress Christmas shopping to work them off. Maybe a few laps around the mall will be enough.


I deleted the reference to a blog to save Voice of America English broadcasts. I got tired of smashing my hand with a hammer. It appears that unless Congress cares - the American people surely don't seem to - that the Broadcasting Board of Governor's plan to turn off VOA English radio broadcasts will continue to creep forward.

That's at a time when All China Radio, Al Jazeera and a bunch of other foreign broadcasters are starting - and paying for - new radio and television programming in ENGLISH .

But Ken Tomlinson and the Board - all of whose terms have expired but they keep serving until they are replaced - have decided that the world doesn't need to hear English from America any more. I guess they figure people will turn to Al Jazeera if they want objective, balanced news coverage.

So RIP VOA English. After defeating the Nazis, the Japanese, and the Communists, you have been killed by a predator much more violent and rapacious - the uncaring American.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Well, I guess that's okay

It turns out that I didn't exactly kill the systematic theology final. I thought I knew almost all the answers, but I got my grade back - it was an 87!

Which is a B, (but, in my family B stood for "better than a C but not an A." I still struggle to get past those horrible words "I'm just disappointed, son." Thanks Mom and Dad!)

But upon reflection, their opinion is not the final arbiter of success; God's opinion is what counts, and He's not disappointed. He knew my grade before I did, and my acceptance by Him is not based on how well I do in school! Thanks Father!

But my overall grade for the course was a B+ (91.15% or 577 out of a possible 600 points). Which isn't bad. Funny, the two systematic theology courses I took at Regent both got the same grade, B+. And both were taught by "take no prisoners" professors. So, I guess that points out an area for further learning, huh?

That being said, I still will graduate in May. Thank God. It feels strange, though. After four years, I don't have to drag big heavy books around and study for finals or do papers. I still want to learn; that part hasn't changed. The motivation is different, though.

I can exhale; but the learning never stops.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

It's that time of year ....

when people go absolutely butt-wild spending money for Christmas. I don't know if it's because of the time of year or because financial writers tend to focus on these type of things when they don't have Fed reports to talk about, but MSN Money reports that if you have $2,200 dollars in net worth you're in the top half of the world's wealthiest people.

The report quotes a global study of the wealth gap, with half the world's population, more than three billion people, living on less than two dollars a day. My Starbucks coffee costs that much!

And even relatively developed nations have low standards of wealth. In India, people have per capita assets of just $1,100! In Indonesia, capital amounts to $1,400 per person.

The type of assets owned varies from country to country, with Asian and developing nations favoring savings accounts and Western nations prefering stocks and other financial products.

The worlds total wealth is valuated at $125 trillion dollars. North America has only six percent of the world's population, but accounts for 34% of household wealth. The average wealth in the United States is $144,000 per person. In Japan it's $181,000. People in North America, Europe, and wealthier Asian-Pacific countries account for 90% percent of total wealth.

And the super rich? Guys like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet and Mexican telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helu have more money than the 48 poorest countries combined.

Something to think about this Christmas.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Killed it

So I killed the test. I was scared it was going to be REALLY tough, because after all it is systematic theology. But it wasn't as bad as I thought. I almost didn't take it because it wasn't loaded into the computer program. And when I called to find out why, there was no answer because everyone was at the CHRISTMAS PARTY!

But God bless them, I finally did get through to a human being. And the test was posted. And I killed it. So now I will be eligible for graduation. Soli deo gloria. Two words: NOW WHAT?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

It's the last midnight

Tonight I take my last final exam for graduate school. It's in systematic theology.


If there's any "ism" that this course hasn't covered it's because it doesn't exist. But I can explain what dynamic monarchianism is, even though I don't know if I will ever use it.

After this test I will be eligible for graduation and all I will have to do is get the funny hat and robe and walk down the aisle in May. It's a little sad. But it's also a relief. One thing I have learned is that I don't know very much.

It's very humbling to sit in a classroom and think you know some things and then learn that your professor doesn't read the Bible in English - he reads it in Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic. That'll knock you down a notch if you think you know some things. But it has been worth the effort (not to mention the money). I have no idea what comes next.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Make it FUNKY!

I got my funk on Friday night. Okay, before you start thinking something prurient, I mean I went to see Victor Wooten's Soul Circus at the 9:30 Club here in DC. My bass teacher Anthony Wellington is a member of the band (that's him on the left in the hat) and I have been in the presence of the Masters. These dudes rock it until it breaks apart, and what comes out is pure funk.

I had seen Victor in concert back in 2004 at the Birchmere in Arlington, Virgina, with Steve Bailey and Otiel Burbridge. And that was very funky. But, this show was deeper into the deep end than I have been in a while. The Soul Circus CD is definitely one to bounce on the car stereo. But this show rocked on.

The band featured Victor's brother Regi (AKA "Teacha") on guitar - ride the lightning, brotha - and "the knee baby" his other brother Joseph on keyboards. They were joined by a beautiful singer, Saudra Williams, and Derico Watson on drums. And of course Anthony. And they set that joint on fire.Regi Wooten (foreground) and Saundra Williams with Victor Wooten in the background at the 9:30 Club

The show rocked for a long time - they opened with the number "Victa" from the Soul Circus CD, but also featured several solos by band members. Of course Victor is like Yoda on the bass, and he just TORE IT UP.

But this band brings a definite throwback kind of funk to the groove. Accentuated by Victor's lightning-fast playing and Saundra's sultry vocals, the Soul Circus will make even a 40-something white boy's head bob.

Friday, December 08, 2006

It is finished

Well, kind of.

I just finished the last term paper I will have to write to get my Masters Degree in practical theology from Regent University. WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Don' be like dat!

Goats by pixelPerfectSometimes, I find myself regretting things a lot. Things I have said, things I have done, you know - what you should have done goes undone and what shouldn't happen is what history records. Today I have done both. I guess its a way to remember that I really don't have control over things. It's cruddy, but at least it's true. I often wish I could have a seven second delay on the things I say. Sometimes they come out of my mouth and as they are flying across space at more than 600 mph, I wish I could disintegrate them and say something else. But my hands ain't that fast.