Archive for 2004

Meaningless Ramblings

Posted by on Friday, 24 December, 2004

The first electric guitar amps did not work very well. They distorted awfully when turned up. I understand that the ever-so-popular Vox AC30 has a bit of a reputation for catching on fire. Technology has come a long way. Guitar amps potentially could work quite well now. However, somewhere along the line guitar players got it into their heads that an amp was supposed to sound distorted. Most guitar players will add extra distortion via a little box the guitar plugs into before it even gets to the amp. There is quite an industry for these little boxes if you care to look for it. These days, it is becoming increasingly popular to not use an amp at all, but just plug a guitar straight into a computer, then through the wonders of “acoustic modeling,” there are software programs that can digitally reproduce the sound of a vintage guitar amp, that did not work very well.

But we are not here to talk about guitar amps.

I was more than a little surprised last October to discover that my church actually sponsors a Halloween carnival. Halloween being, as it were, the “paganist” of pagan holidays. This year someone offered the explanation that over time Halloween has lost all of its meaning and therefore it is perfectly acceptable for Christians to celebrate it in anyway they choose.

I occasionally wonder at the first knucklehead who lopped down an evergreen and dragged it into his living room. I am told it was a Norwegian, although for what purpose I can not imagine. I should not be surprised if someone were to offer an explanation that was not remotely related to Christmas, but that this is merely another ritual that Christians have adopted as their own.

At this time of year, I can not help but think of modern pagans celebrating a Christmas which has lost all its original meaning, just as modern Christians celebrate Halloween. And when I look at my parents ornately decorated plastic Wal-Mart tree, I can not help but think of our old friends and their guitar amps.

26 hours later, I arrive in Geneva

Posted by on Wednesday, 15 December, 2004

I think insanely long travel times are good for jet lag. By the time you get there, you have no idea what time it’s supposed to be anymore, and are perfectly willing to accept whatever time they tell you. Especially if they say it’s about 9:00 at night and almost bedtime.

I spent seven hours in Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. I avoided the redlight section. I thought about buying some absinthe, just because it was right there and I couldn’t find any when I was in South Africa, but what would I do with it now? Those were different times.

Apparently this was the first time in 12 days that the sun made it through the fog. I’m sure my mother was happy to hear that I had the A/C on in my car the day before I left.

Let Down

Posted by on Thursday, 2 December, 2004

I still get a few hits everyday despite the infrequency of my posts. Lately I tend to suddenly realize how long it has been since I posted anything new and throw up some poorly thought out, hastily written, badly grammatical bit of triteness that I wouldn’t even want to read myself.

The trouble stems from the fact that, what weighs most heavily on my mind is not of such nature that I feel like sharing with the world, and to talk about anything else feels hollow.

What then, one must ask, is the purpose of a blog, if not to share your thoughts?

Hey… who wants to know what CD I’m listening to RIGHT NOW!

The True Meaning of Christmas

Posted by on Tuesday, 23 November, 2004

Last weekend I worked at a Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at a mall in Temecula. (Yeah, I know, it’s November.) As we were tearing down, many folks felt no particular need to avoid walking through an area where people were tearing stuff down, and frequently asked what had the event had been. I was never actually questioned by one, by I became filled with what I can only describe as the sick and twisted desire to explain to a poor child exactly what was going on here.

You see, this mall put on quite an elaborate production climaxing with the arrival of Santa Claus, so that parents would come to the mall and spend money in all the lovely businesses that were good enough to host this event. Someone even told me once that Santa Claus himself is an invention of the Coca-Cola company (a claim which I personally think is nonsense, but I never looked into it.) Regardless, the children do get the opportunity to tell Santa whatever they want for Christmas with the expectation that they will magically receive it, promoting consumerism as early as kids are old enough to understand it.

Why do we do this? As it turns out, this is all in celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Ah, but there’s more. Back in Roman times, Christianity was not the only game in town offering a savior god. When a certain Roman Emperor (Constantine?) converted to Christianity, it is my understanding that entrepreneuring Christians simply decided that December 25th, the birthday of his favorite savior-god Mithras, was actually the birthday of Jesus.

So, when was Jesus born? Well, I would be suspicious of any answer to this question other than “The Bible doesn’t say.” Is this important? I don’t know, do you think it would bother Martin Luther King that we always celebrate his birthday on a Monday, regardless of when it actually occurs? Or would he be honored that we celebrate it at all?

Don’t Look Back

Posted by on Thursday, 18 November, 2004

A few nights ago I had a dream. It was at my uncle’s house, or at least, some dream-house that supposedly belonged to my (maternal) uncle. All of my cousins were there, including my cousin with her baby (small child?) that I have never seen, and another cousin who (in the dream) had just been released from prison. My parents were there, with my mother cancer-free. Then my grandparents arrived. I don’t know if my grandfather leaves the nursing home much in real life, but in my dream he never did, so this was a momentous occasion. He did not actually know who I was without some prompting, but that is not unusual. He did however, recognize my sister as his “#1 Granddaughter,” and he was so delighted to see everyone gathered together, I was moved to tears, which I naturally tried to hide, while the ending of “If You Leave” by OMD kept playing through my head.

Ho oh oh, Ho oh oh, Ho oh oh, Oh oh oh …If you leave…

Ho oh oh, Ho oh oh, Ho oh oh, Oh oh oh …If you leave…

Ho oh oh, Ho oh oh, Ho oh oh, Oh oh oh …Don’t look back!

A note regarding the longevity of relative suckitude

Posted by on Thursday, 11 November, 2004

This week kinda sucked. But it was short.

Out of this World

Posted by on Monday, 8 November, 2004

So, I haven’t posted for awhile and I owe emails to several people. Either nothing interesting is going on or so much interesting stuff is happening that I don’t have the time to talk about it. Which do you think?

A student died of an “apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound” in the engineering building last week. That’s not the most significant bit news I could be sharing right now. In fact, it hardly affects me at all. I mean he was a mechanical engineering major, I’m in electrical engineering. Never even met the guy. Don’t even go to that wing of the building. Doesn’t effect my schedule any. Wouldn’t even have known about if I hadn’t just happened to check my school email account, which I rarely do anyway. La merde se produit, n’est pas?

Does something seem a little off here?

Lessons form the Moon

Posted by on Thursday, 28 October, 2004

Yesterday I was leaving school rather late, and I glanced up to see a small sliver of moon. This struck me as odd, because I was certain that the moon had been nearly full the night before. Then I recalled some mention earlier this week of an eclipse.

I walked on through the parking lot. Although it was not raining at that time, it had been raining off and on throughout the day, and I had the hood of my jacket up, which dramatically decreases my field of vision. After walking for a time toward my car, I glanced up again. I was momentarily surprised, then embarrassed to discover that the moon was not where I was looking for it. Without consciously thinking about it, I had been expecting the moon to be directly over the spot in the parking lot where I had first seen it, and I was now looking for it somewhat behind me, when it was actually in the exact same place relative to me that it had been before.

Did you really think that you could walk so far that the moon could not keep up? Foolish mortal.

So, narrowed vision, partially obscured, looking in the wrong place, yet, the moon is still there, exactly where it was before. Those with ears should hear.

Here’s another song that’s NOT about Jesus Christ…

Posted by on Thursday, 28 October, 2004

I have occasionally alluded to, but never fully explained, the fact that I used to be a musician.

I own a number of guitars. There was a time when I even knew how to play them. A friend that I have roomed with off and on over the years plays bass, and we fancied ourselves as rockstars and wrote a number of songs under the moniker Less is More. We did try playing with a drummer for a time, but eventually gave up on him due to what you might call a “fundamental inability to get on the same page.” That relationship probably officially ended when we preformed our one and only public appearance without bothering to tell him about it. That “performance” was at an open mic night at a local coffee house, where we had previously seen a band that seemed to introduce every other song with, “Here’s another song about Jesus Christ,” and it became a joke that we should introduce all of our songs in the negative. (And God looked down at me and said, “Heehee, I want that one.”) Anyway, not long thereafter, my roommate moved to Colorado to pursue other dreams, which happened to coincide with when I began to explore Christianity.

On my first discovery of Christian radio, I was amazed at how upbeat the “positive alternative” really was. My songs, though not particularly dishonoring to God, were all so very dark and depressing, that I felt it might be best to retire them. As Paul says, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful” (1 Cor 10:23). Whatever else could be said, that particular style of music was not helpful, and so I put all my guitars away in the closet so that they could “think about what they had done.”

A few years previously, I had visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in that great tribute to sin and decadence, a devout agnostic at the time, I said to myself, “If there really is a Devil, then surely he must be responsible for THIS.” So I was initially quite impressed with Christian rock. Here they were, reclaiming the Devil’s music in the name of the Lord. I mean, “Christian Rock” is a pun anyway- I would think that the Devil has got to be kicking himself over that one.

Then I found a web page devoted to denouncing Christian Rock. Claiming to be a former rock enthusiast himself, he went into great detail on the evils of Contemporary Christian Music, and some of the specific transgressions of some of the more popular CCM artists. His argument was that it was not about the words, it was the music itself. Music undeniably has the power to move people, and he was convinced that this was moving people away from God, regardless of the lyrics. The point was really driven home when I read a review of the most recent Kutless album in a Christian music magazine which actually stated, “Some of the words are hard to make out unless you read the liner notes, but what kind of rock album would it be if you could understand all [of] the lyrics?” So, who cares what they’re saying, these guys rock?

One day the DJ on the Christian Radio station announced that artist Jeremy Camp was either engaged to or had married the lead singer of another Christian band, the Benjamin Gate. She then commented, “She’s a lucky girl.” I found it interesting that she did not say, “There’re lucky to have found each other,” or “I hope they are are happy together,” or anything of the sort, implying that she did not feel that Jeremy Camp was a lucky guy. I further inferred that this was because she wanted to marry him herself. Do you think they had ever actually met, and she respected him as a Godly man? Or really, just because he’s a rockstar?

Though I did think that some of his analysis was rather extreme, I was pretty much in agreement with this web page. Unfortunately, he ruined the entire thing in the conclusion by stating that he welcomed anyone to refute any of his arguments as long as they provided scripture reference, from the King James Version only. Oh, so you’re one of those people.

Is Christian rock really taking something profane and making it holy? One might make the same claim for “Christian porn.” Anyway, I could not come to a conclusion on this issue, so I decided to refrain from playing until I did.

Interestingly enough, I was surprised to discover in a book that I already owned, that The Edge, guitar player for the band U2 and heavy influence on my own guitar playing, actually debated quitting the band very early in their career, because he did not think that the rock and roll life style was appropriate for a devout Christian. (I guess he got over it.) There has been a great deal of criticism over whether or not U2 is a Christian band. I find it interesting that the Christian radio stations do not play U2, but they do play several cover versions of U2 songs. What I ultimately realized was that while many of their songs are about God, they don’t actually glorify God. Oh, you mean, kind of like this web site? [QUIET YOU!]

Ahem, so anyway, for the past couple of months I have felt a strong draw to return to my music. So far, I have not yet determined whether this is the urging of God, or really just me slipping back into old ways.

Because I Can

Posted by on Saturday, 23 October, 2004

For those who are not heavily into the Apple scene, all new Macs ship with a program called Garageband, which allows people with no musical ability whatsoever to create whole songs by piecing together pre-recorded loops, and it automatically adjusts their key and tempo to match.

So, a few weeks ago, just to familiairze myself with the program, I put together this country/trip hop song, because I felt that particular genre was sadly underrepresented in the current music scene. (That’s just one of several inside jokes in this song.) I did not write a single note of this, (and I even downloaded the vocal sample) but I’m putting it up anyway, because, well, because I can.