Friday, August 25, 2006

Blow the Trumpet in Zion

Maynard Ferguson is dead. Read the obituary here.

Maynard was the coolest jazz trumpet player with the weirdest name in the jazz universe of me and my friends in high school. He could hit higher notes than anybody and proved a perpetual source of inspiration to my trumpet-playing friend Dan. He did a great cover of "Birdland," and his "Gonna Fly Now" was the sound of defiance for the Rocky movies until "Eye of the Tiger" came out.

Eras end with the death of jazz giants. I was in college studying jazz when Sarah Vaughn and Miles Davis died. I never play anymore, but I still feel a sense of loss today, probably mostly because I'm not sure who will take the place of Maynard in the imagination of adolescent trumpet players.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Stick Out Your Tongue and Say "Oooh"

I got an e-mail from Raven yesterday, alerting me to her site, My Air Shoes. She showcases special-edition designer shoes from around the world--a nice peek into a culture I didn't really know exists. I'm tempted by the Ultraman edition Nikes, but I've got bills to pay.

Go browse her site and then come back; I'd love to hear what you think. For me, this is an example of how the Internet has changed how we experience community; I've now bonded with somebody, somewhere, whom I'll never meet, about shoes--who'd have thought? What's the most interesting subculture you've discovered online?

I recommend, as a soundtrack for your tour of My Air Shoes, the song "In These Shoes?" by Kirsty MacColl, streaming here:

"Won't you walk up and down on my spine? It makes me feel strangely
I said, "In these shoes? Oh, I doubt you'd survive." I said, "Honey, let's
do it."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing

Sarcastic weekly The Onion has compiled a list of its favorite sung references to Jesus. Most are irreverant in the sense that they don't revere Jesus, but for the most part they're written as social commentary or as a foil for exploring more existential themes. Pretty interesting list--check it out here--with the sort of tone you'd expect from The Onion.

Come back when you're done and share your favorite Jesus lyric (with song title and artist) from a song or artist outside the Christian recording industry. If you can't get beyond Kanye West, go for songs that quote or directly paraphrase the Bible.

I'll get you started: Ben Folds, in his chronicle of a friend's conversion to Christianity ("Not the Same") sang with melancholy objectivity, "You gave your life to Jesus Christ, and you were not the same after that." We're left to decide for ourselves whether being "not the same" was a change for the better or for the worse.

One two three go!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Too Loud for Comfort

I joined a new gym recently, and I now think perhaps I should have asked for a more thorough tour before joining.

I saw most of it--the six racquetball courts, the indoor and outdoor pools, the basketball court, the quarter-mile track, the free weights, the cardio machines, the bar. I even saw the lockers and sinks. I just should have taken three or four more steps.

Around the corner from the sinks with the complimentary shampoo, just past the sauna, overlooking the men's jacuzzi, are eight shower heads, put to regular use by lots of naked men.

Now I'm all for community--I think I've established that--but I'm not comfortable with communal showers, especially communal showers that overlook the jacuzzi--and that the jacuzzi consequently overlooks. This doesn't feel like a locker room so much as it does a Roman bathhouse. Ick.


I don't know where to look; I don't know how thoroughly I should wash myself. When I round the corner the octegenarians invite me to take their place because they're done and the other available showerheads have poor water pressure. I feel naked there because I am naked there.

I'm sorry. There are some moments that are meant to be private. You shouldn't even blog about them, probably.

Oh, wait . . .

Friday, August 04, 2006

You Say Potato . . .

No great insights; I just liked how this sounded on the radio traffic report . . .

"Eisenhower is an hour either way."

Or, with some creative punctuation,

"'Eisenhower,' 'is an hour'--either way."

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Two Decrees of Separation

So here's a couple questions that occurred to me as I read Generation Me by Jean Twenge:
  • Is it more important to decree someone as good or loved?
  • Would you rather be declared good or loved?

It's a fine point of distinction, I admit--so fine, in fact, that I'm not sure I know what the distinction is. Nevertheless, I think it speaks to a dilemma of our culture. I hear song lyrics like "I'm not OK" or "I'm not all right" and I currently can't seem to get out of my head the lyrics to Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful": "I am beautiful no matter what they say." If William Hung (God forbid) were to sing it, he might change the lyrics to "I have a beautiful singing voice no matter what they say."

The questions boil down, I suppose, to "What am I hoping to hear from others?" and "What does the world need to hear?" To kick it to the Bible for a minute, what was the rich young ruler in Mark 10 hoping Jesus would say, and what made Jesus' response right?

I'm not telling, I'm asking.

Both Inspiration and Cautionary Tale: Excerpts from Middling

What follows is an excerpt from the Winter 2021 edition of Middling, my quarterly newsletter on music, books, work, and getting older. I'...