Friday, April 28, 2006

The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous (and Undeserved) Fortune ...

This past week, Eric at Fire Ant Gazette delivered a virtual smakckdown of fellow Tall City blogger, Jimmy at Sticky Doorknobs ...

What raised Eric's e-dander was a
post by Jimmy (on both his blog, and the front page of the local paper) about the latest offering from the Dixie Chicks on record store shelves ...

I have never found cause to doubt Eric's acceptance of Christ's command to love one another ... but, sometimes, it can be tough love ... his smackdown was thoughtful, thorough, delivered with respect ...

... and, I think, undeserved ...

I never read the hard-copy edition (really, who has time, except on Sundays?), but I did read the post on his blog ... then, I read it again ... and then, a third time ...

Frankly, I was unable to arrive at some of the same conclusions Eric did ... I noted that, in a comment on
Eric's post ... responding, Eric conceded a point or two, yet stood firmly by his interpretation of what Jimmy had written ...

And, I stand by my - and Jimmy's - interpretation of what he wrote ...

And, through it all, we strove to keep to the high road ... agreeing to disagree in an agreeable manner ... which is why the Gazette remains West Texas' #1 virtual forum for a genuine, multilateral discussion and exchange of views ...

Discussions, smackdowns, rants ... whatever you want to call them ... they are a part of my 'job description' - and Jimmy's - as journalists ... he and I both know how petty and how nasty they can get, sometimes ... and he and I both know, in the grand scheme of things, just how unimportant those little barbs really are ...

At the same time, he and I both know how helpful they can be, sometimes ... opening our eyes and our minds to a vision that was, until this moment, unsuspected ... and he and I both know, in the grand scheme of things, just how important those little rays of light really are ...

Keep the faith, Jimmy, and keep writing ...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

What Would YOU Do? ...

A blogging acquaintance and I have been e-discussing the idea of blogrolling ... specifically, the rules of etiquette and propriety of blogrolling ...

I've learned a thing or two from that discussion, and I hope the same can be said for my e-correspondent ... but, it has also gotten me to thinking ... 'What would YOU out there, in the blogosphere, do?' ... 'What are YOUR rules for blogrolling?' ... and, for that matter, 'Are some of the benefits of weblogging lost if rules become too fixed?' ...

I'll post mine later ... right now, I'd like to know what you think ...

Monday, April 24, 2006

Best Wishes on Your Survival ... er, Anniversary ...

Best wishes to Jim at serontonirain, who is marking the one-year anniversary of his first virtual steps into the blogosphere. Jim is a fellow dang Yankee from back-east, living and writing in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, just an hour's drive - or so - down the road from where I used to hang out.

Thanks to Jimmy at
Sticky Doorknobs, Jim has had a chance to touch spiritual base with a lot of us here, in West Texas, and we're the better for it.

, any greetings sent his way should be E-greetings. Read his Friday post, and you'll understand.

And, speaking of Jimmy ... Best Wishes - albeit, belated - to him, as well. January marked the one-year anniversary of his foray
into the blogosphere ... an occasion also marked by a raising of the bar for quality and accountability of virtual writing and publishing.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Traffic's Picked Up a Little, Lately ...

Is it me, or are we having another rush of local weblog's setting-up shop in West Texas' end of the blogosphere?

I have no problem with more traffic, coming and going, and exchanging news and views ... that's good for us all ...

If there is one thing I'm not so thrilled about, it's the - so far
- narrow focus of these blogs ...

West Texas TV
Media Showdown
Tale of Two Medias
KMID Blews & Blows

They're not all the exact same, of course ... the first talks about the technical end of the media, the next three talk about the media in general, and the last one IS the media ...

My hope is that, given some time, they may broaden their
scope - and, through that, our knowledge - a little bit. Right now, I spend too many hours-a-day, too many days-a-week, working broadcast and online news, to come home and have somebody presume to tell me all about it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Middle English Lit ...

For a couple of days this week, we could look about us and think ...

"Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote

The droghte of March hath perced to the roote

And bathed every veyne in swich licour,

Of which vertu engendred is the flour;"

How singularly appropriate that words written on the road to Canterbury, England, describing this week in April, more than 600 years ago, would suit an afternoon on the road to Rankin, Texas, today.

Thank you, Geoffrey Chaucer!

Chaucer, who lived from 1343 (maybe) - 1400, was an author and poet, bureaucrat (or courtier - the two were interchangeable back then) and diplomat, and a philosopher. Some say, he was also something of a patriot. Though he is credited with having written many works, he is best remembered for an unfinished piece - "
The Canterbury Tales" ... sort of like Schubert, who is best-known, to some, for his 'Unfinished Symphony.'

It was in the writing of the Tales that Chaucer made a significant impact on Western literature ... and earned him the title of 'patriot' to some readers. You see, Tales was written in (Middle) English, the vernacular, the language of England's people ... but not necessarily the language of England's court, which still bore some of the marks of the Norman conquest of England, 300 years earlier, and still spoke French or Latin.

For some, "vernacular" = "vulgar" ... something that Chaucer and others of his era (the "Pearl" and "Gawain" poets) proved ain't necessarily so. At the same time, though, Chaucer's Tales brought forth some characters and actions that - at least, on the surface - were a little lowbrow for courtly tastes.

Might someone like Chaucer have taken to the Blogosphere as readily as he took the road to Canterbury? It's possible ... some might say, likely. Someone has done more than just speculate what shape and direction that blog might have assumed at
Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog. Think blogging is, at times, difficult? Try it in Middle English!

With thanks to Frank at
BOOKS, INQ. for the heads-up ...

Monday, April 17, 2006

An Opportunity to Make a Joyful (?) Noise ...

He is risen ... Christ is risen, indeed ...

A full house for early service this morning at First Prez-Midland, and I don't think anyone went home disappointed. The church's staff and ministry did themselves proud today, and the message of Christ's resurrection - and our salvation - was loud, clear and compelling.

There was a little something for everyone ... including me. A small notice in the church bulletin said, "Those who have sung the 'Hallelujah Chorus' and would like to join with the choir in this great anthem, please come to the chancel during the singing of 'Christ is Risen! Shout Hosanah!'"

I had ... so I did. And, for only the second time in more than thirty years, I sang that awesome piece with a choir. And not just the choir this morning, but accompanied by brass, tympani and organ.

I was a tenor in high school, and I don't quite have the range now, that I did then. The lump in my throat - not the result of stage fright but, rather of exhileration - didn't help either ... it was a wonderful moment. And even as I mangled this note or that, I didn't care ... I was making a joyful noise, nonetheless.

And, I enjoyed it so much that, this year, I came back and sang at late service, as well.

Perhaps what I felt was something like what Edward Hoagland once described ...

"Though I'd seen mobs behave savagely, some of my experience was of the moments when, on the contrary, a benign expressiveness, even a kind of sweetness, is loosed. When life seems to be an unmixed good, the more the merrier, and each man rises to a sense of glee and mitigation, alleviation, or freedom that, perhaps, we wouldn't quite dare to feel if he were alone. The smiling likeness, infectious blitheness, the loose, exultant sense of unity in which sometimes, the mass of people as a whole, seems to improve upon the better nature of the parts."

"This intrigued me."

"Just as with other natural wonders of the world, to which one relinquishes one's self, instead of feeling smaller, I often felt bigger when I was packed into a multitude And taking for granted the potential for mayhem of crowds, of which so much has been written, I was fascinated instead by the clear, pealing gaiety."

"It manifests itself, for instance, in the extraordinary quality that singing by a congregation acquires. The humdrum and unlovely voices gradually merge into a sweet, uniquely pristine note, a note angelic-sounding, hardly believable. Looking about, one can't see who in particular might have such a voice. Everybody in the pew has an expression as if he were about to sneeze, and squawks just a little. It is a note created only when hundreds sing ... it needs them all. No single person is responsible, any more than any individual in a mob lends that its bestiality."

"It's like riding in surf. It's like a Dantean ascent ... one circle up. Suddenly, we like all these strangers, even the stranger in ourselves, and seem to see a shape in life, as if all the exertions of the week really were justified and were a source of joy."

Alleluia ... Amen


With thanks to Florence Sherwood, Chorus Director at Dallas Senior High School, Dallas, Pennsylvania, for her wonderful talent and her incredible patience.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Beckett's Birthday ...

Today marked an anniversary of special significance, to Western literature in general, and to stagecraft in particular ... it was on this day, in 1906, that Samuel Barclay Beckett - Irish playwright, novelist, poet and Nobel laureate - was born.

Online, there are wonderful, virtual centenary celebrations at "
Fathoms from Anywhere," presented by the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, and "The Samuel Beckett Endpage," presented by the University of Antwerp ... to name just a couple.

I could talk at length about the man, his work, his influence and so on ... but I won't. That's already done - and done well - by the folks at
Wikipedia, among others.

But I can write about my experience with one of his works. To the right is a photo from a performance of "Waiting for Godot," which inaugurated the Founders Theatre at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, in Odessa, in February, 1994.

In the photo (from the left) are Stephen Cole - Pozzo, Jeff McDonald - Estragon, Scott Lunsford - Lucky, and Michael Trost - Vladimir. Not shown in the photo is Eli Mitchell Hinsz - The Boy. We were directed by Shawn Watson.

To this day, I am left wondering at how I was allowed to trod the boards with such an incredibly talented group, but I was ... and I'm grateful for the opportunity I had. It was not something that came my way often ... and it's not something one sees very often - or at all - on the West Texas stage ... so, I consider myself especially fortunate.

"Godot" is something that often leaves people wondering what has just happened, what is going on, and what's going to happen. One critic described it as a play that, "has achieved a theoretical impossibility, a play in which nothing happens, that yet keeps audiences glued to their seats. What's more, since the second act is a subtly different reprise of the first, he has written a play in which nothing happens, twice."

"It means what it says", Beckett is quoted as saying ... which has left more than a few of us - in the audience, and on the stage - wondering and waiting ... kind of like Gogo and Didi, I guess.

"Well, shall we go?"
"Yes, let's go."
They do not move.

Happy birthday, Mr. Beckett.

With thanks to Frank at BOOKS, INQ. for the heads-up ...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

And Now, for Something Completely Different ...

If Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were alive today, their famous sketch, "Who's on first?" might have turned out something like the following ...

ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?
COSTELLO: Thanks. I'm setting up an office in my den and I'm thinking about buying a computer.
COSTELLO: No, the name's Lou.
ABBOTT: Your computer?
COSTELLO: I don't own a computer. I want to buy one.
COSTELLO: I told you, my name's Lou.
ABBOTT: What about Windows?
COSTELLO: Why? Will it get stuffy in here?
ABBOTT: Do you want a computer with Windows?
COSTELLO: I don't know. What will I see when I look at the windows?
ABBOTT: Wallpaper.
COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.
ABBOTT: Software for Windows?
COSTELLO: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to write proposals, track expenses and run my business. What do you have?
ABBOTT: Office.
COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?
ABBOTT: I just did.
COSTELLO: You just did what?
ABBOTT: Recommend something.
COSTELLO: You recommended something?
COSTELLO: For my office?
COSTELLO: OK, what did you recommend for my office?
ABBOTT: Office.
COSTELLO: Yes, for my office!
ABBOTT: I recommend Office with Windows.
COSTELLO: I already have an office with windows! OK, let's just say I'm sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?
COSTELLO: What word?
ABBOTT: Word in Office.
COSTELLO: The only word in office is office.
ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.
COSTELLO: Which word in office for windows?
ABBOTT: The Word you get when you click the blue "W."
COSTELLO: I'm going to click your blue "w" if you don't start with some straight answers. OK, forget that. Can I watch movies on the Internet?
ABBOTT: Yes, you want Real One.
COSTELLO: Maybe a real one, maybe a cartoon. What I watch is none of your business. Just tell me what I need!
ABBOTT: Real One.
COSTELLO: If it's a long movie, I also want to watch reels 2, 3 and 4. Can I watch them?

ABBOTT: Of course.
COSTELLO: Great! With what?
ABBOTT: Real One.
COSTELLO: OK, I'm at my computer and I want to watch a movie. What do I do?
ABBOTT: You click the blue "1."
COSTELLO: I click the blue one what?
ABBOTT: The blue "1."
COSTELLO: Is that different from the blue w?
ABBOTT: The blue "1" is Real One and the blue "W" is Word.
COSTELLO: What word?
ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.
COSTELLO: But there are three words in "office for windows!"
ABBOTT: No, just one. But it's the most popular Word in the world.
ABBOTT: Yes, but to be fair, there aren't many other Words left. It pretty much wiped out all the other Words out there.
COSTELLO: And that word is real one?
ABBOTT: Real One has nothing to do with Word. Real One isn't even part of Office.
COSTELLO: STOP! Don't start that again. What about financial bookkeeping? You have anything I can track my money with?
ABBOTT: Money.
COSTELLO: That's right. What do you have?
ABBOTT: Money.
COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?
ABBOTT: It comes bundled with your computer.
COSTELLO: What's bundled with my computer?
ABBOTT: Money.
COSTELLO: Money comes with my computer?
ABBOTT: Yes. No extra charge.
COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?
ABBOTT: One copy.
COSTELLO: Isn't it illegal to copy money?
ABBOTT: Microsoft gave us a license to copy Money.
COSTELLO: They can give you a license to copy money?
[A few days later]
ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?
COSTELLO: How do I turn my computer off?
ABBOTT: Click on "START."


I'd include credit on this, if I could. I honestly don't know who wrote this ... can you help?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Theology In A Nutshell ...

Today, at First Prez-Midland, the readings included a line from the the Gospel according to John (3:16, KJV). Pastor Mary Beth Anton calls it 'theology in a nutshell' ... "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

... 'nuff said. But, say it again and again - to yourself and others - in the week ahead. For, we are marking a singular occasion this week. It is the occasion that separates Christians from all the other faiths of the world ... but it is the occasion that binds ALL Christians together ... "We are," Pastor Jim Miles at First Prez-Fort Stockton reminds us, "the Easter People."

Saturday, April 08, 2006

But No Toy with My Happy Coffee :-( ...

There are many words one might use to describe their local Starbucks ... "verbose" wasn't one of them ... at least, until now ...

Words are everywhere ... on posters in the window, on the walls, on coasters, on promotional handouts and flash cards at your table, everywhere ...

Starbucks has become the latest food-service chain to enter into a promotional agreement with a film ... in this case, a new release from
Lion's Gate Films ... "Akeelah and the Bee" ... described as "a heart-warming, triumph-over adversity drama" that centers on "a precocious eleven-year-old girl, Akeelah Anderson, from south Los Angeles, who is discovered to have a talent for words."

It's an interesting idea ... obviously, a promotional tie-in with Starbucks isn't going to give a film the exposure it would receive from a tie-in, say, with McDonald's or Burger King. But, is it possible that such an agreement will give the film A LOT of exposure with an audience that's more likely to go see it? ... (having said that, though, is it possible that Starbucks' demographics might be changing as its location strategies and marketing change, and as it become more mainstream, in part, through the emulation of other outlets for coffee?) ...

I'll be looking forward to seeing if Starbucks tries this some more ... their music marketing has caught on, so, why not film marketing, as well?

I'm also planning on seeing the film ... IF it comes to a local screen ...

While we're waiting, try the following ... read the following words aloud to someone nearby, and see if they can spell them ... and YOU try defining them ... (four of them weren't recognized by Blogger's Spellcheck) ...


Thursday, April 06, 2006

National Tartan Day ...

"Hark where the night is falling
hark hear the pipes a calling
Loudly and proudly calling down thru the glen
There where the hills are sleeping
Now feel the blood a leaping
High as the spirits of the old highland men"

"Towering in gallant fame
Scotland my mountain hame
High may your proud standards gloriously wave
Land of my high endeavor
Land of the shining river
Land of my heart forever, Scotland the Brave"

"High in the misty mountains
Out by the purple highlands
Brave are the hearts that beat beneath Scottish skies
Wild are the winds to meet you
Staunch are the friends that greet you
Kind as the love that shines from fair maidens eyes"


All MacWest-Texans wishing to mark National Tartan Day are invited to attend CeltFestTexas, Saturday and Sunday, April 8-9, at Odessa College.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Slings and Arrows, Pt. 3 ... et tu, Arch? ...

I promise, this is the last post I will make on this topic ... at least, for today ...

I've been thinking some more about something I posted last week, about "suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous (and undeserved) fortune" ...

In the first post, I was happy to chide Eric, at Fire Ant Gazette, for letting fly some underserved darts ... then, later, I took some of the "Day Without a Mexican/Latino/Immigrant/Whatever" protesters, for loosing some of their own ...

Anybody else?

Well, yeah ... how about ME ? ...

Did I take some unworthy, and undeserved shots at some new arrivals to West Texas' corner of the blogosphere?

Perhaps I have ... in re-reading that post, I realize that I might have chosen my words more carefully and, perhaps, have avoided the tone of hubris I percieved in some of their opening statements ... especially N2News' ...

I realize, in retrospect, that statements like, "I spend too many hours-a-day, too many days-a-week, working broadcast and online news, to come home and have somebody presume to tell me all about it ..." make me out to be no better thatn some of the self-appointed media experts out there ... those who say so much, but apparently know so little about the profession and its practitioners ...

mea culpa ...

And welcome ... and write well ... and write often ... you have already assuaged some of my fears that we were going to hear nothing but the same old rants about the media ... and posted thoughts and views about the rest of the world, too ... of which, the media (my beloved profession) is, really, just a small part ...