Sunday, December 31, 2006

More than a dang Yankee from 'back east' ...

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
His Noble Excellency Jeffrey the Philomath of Giggleswick under Table
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title
With thanks to Grand Duke Frank the Splendid of New Invention at BOOKS, INQ. for the heads-up.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

A couple of colorful stops along Next Blog Road ...

I still go exploring Blogger's corner of the blogosphere from time to time, clicking on the 'Next Blog' button, and seeing where it takes me. In return, I sometimes receive visits from others who are doing exactly the same thing, pausing to leave a comment and strike up an acquaintance.

One of those I've met recently - and virtually - is Karen at PEN IN HAND, who shares her views of the world through words (prose and poetry) and pictures (sketches and watercolors). Karen's a dang Yankee from 'back east,' like myself ... more than once, a West Texas native has asked me what I see in the northeast ... I think I might just start sending them to PEN IN HAND.

Another recent, virtual acquaintance is Californian Beau Blue at Blue's Blog who offers words spoken - and, sometimes, music played - by animated pictures. It's "poetry to protect the guilty" and it's presented in a manner that kept me clicking on the next offering, and the next, and the next. It appears the spirit of the Beat lives on, and has found a new avenue of expression on the information superhighway.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Actually shop till you virtually drop ...

Just returned last night from a trip to Albuquerque ... more on that, later. For now, though, I did want to recommend a visit to ABQ Uptown, not your run-of-the-mill shopping center, especially this place, if you're a Mac devotee (virtually nudging Eric).



Monday, December 25, 2006

The Light of the World ...

We light the candles as a sign of the coming light of Christ. Advent means 'coming.' We are preparing ourselves for the days when ...

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb.
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.

The nations shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus, it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.

The Lord will give you a sign.
Look , the young woman is with child and shall bear a son,
and shall call him Immanuel, God With Us.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who live in a land of deep darkness,
on them light has shined.

Let us walk in the light of the Lord ... Alleluia ... Amen

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Some Changes to the Blogroll ...

Julie, at "Adjusting the Jules/Yellow Bug News" appears to have dropped off the virtual radar. Hope to see her again - in the actual world - when the holidays are past, school's back in session, and we're back into parent mode over at SJ.

But, at the same time, another Tall City woman has taken up residence in our part of the blogosphere. If you haven't already, please be sure to visit
Sounding Forth, and welcome Janie to the virtual neighborhood.

Also added to my blogroll is Brian Williams (yes, the
Brian Williams), and The Daily Nightly, where he and other news staff "provide a narrative of the broadcast day and a window into the editorial process at NBC Nightly News." Now, if I could just get them to reciprocate, I'd be in the high cotton!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Mystery of the 'Hardy Boys' Author ...

Solved, with a clue from Frank at BOOKS INQ. Who was Franklin W. Dixon? You can find out with help from Wikipedia, from CBC, and from the children of the man who - for the better part of a century - has gotten millions of youngsters around the world hooked on reading.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Ludwig Van-athon

Marking the 236 anniversary, today, of the birth of Ludwig von Beethoven, perhaps the world's greatest composer (no, I don't mean the Western World's ... I mean the World's), whose music has managed to transcend centuries and continents, philosophies and conflicts, to entertain us and inspire us. Throughout the day, I am listening to his collected symphonies, a boxed set of records (yes, records) produced by Deutsche Grammaphone, and performed by Leonard Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic, back in the 70s.

I find myself listening, and wondering ... is there another Beethoven out there ... or a Bach, a Mozart or a Brahms? There are some gifted classical composers out there ... but ...

Friday, December 08, 2006

And, Speaking of That Generation ...

The concept of hospitality - the notion of welcoming someone, and sharing your roof and your table to make them comfortable - is incredibly old ... it's nearly universal ... and it's guided, in part, by our most enduring documents of social conduct and divine scripture.

Not to mention the fact, it's just plain fun.

Earlier this week, a band of virtual acquaintances gathered for an actual encounter, over lunch, at the Italian Village Restaurant ... fellow Tall City bloggers Wallace Craig of
Streams, Eric Siegmund of Fireant Gazette and Jimmy Patterson of Sticky Doorknobs, myself and NewsWest 9 friend Daryl Ward. Accounts of that gathering - in words and pictures - have been posted by Eric and Wallace.

The occasion for our gathering was
the passing of Wallace's dad, Wally Craig, and getting our friend away - for a little while, at least - from the hectic, swirling pace of conflicts and commitments, comings and goings, thoughts and emotions that accompany the passing of a loved one.

With that in mind, it's not surprising that talk around the table included stories about Wallace's dad - and Jimmy's, and Eric's, and Daryl's, and my own - and the impact they have/had on our lives.

All had served in the United States armed forces.

All had raised their sons to get a good education.

All of us had lives that included faith and church.

And all of our dads had crafted (or are still crafting) a legacy of which their sons are very proud, and happy to share with one another ... sometimes with a sigh, or even a tear ... other times with a smile, or a laugh.

Let's do it again, sometime ...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Call to Arms for 'The Greatest Generation'

On this day, in 1941, American forces in the Pacific came under attack by those of Empire of Japan ... the opening salvo of our involvement in a most terrible conflict, one that truly encompassed the world, claimed untold millions of lives, and continues to define who and what we and 'we, the people' are today.

The following day, on December 8th, in Washington, D.C., President Franklin issued
this call to arms. The people of our nation responded in a manner that, half-a-century later, earned them the label, 'The Greatest Generation.'

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Lone Star Nimrods Bag Trophy Squirrel ...

Yup ... it's huntin' season ... that time of year when men are known to vanish for extended periods of time, drink beer, drive vehicles off-road, shoot guns and - perhaps, most outrageous of all - grow beards. Some are already coming home with their trophies tied across the hoods of their cars ... like this pair, who paused to have their photo taken by a wandering gypsy landman, who then passed a copy on to me while telling my fortune (something about, 'stay away from fields with potash deposits'). If you think the squirrel's big, you should have seen its nuts.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

I Don't Know, Jim

"How in the world did they do this," Jim, at serotoninrain, asks. I don't know, but I found it to be A LOT more entertaining than other YouTube fare, such as fights at Midland Freshman.

By the way, Jim, your recommendation of "Tony vs. Paul" came at a perfect time. It went a looooooong way to lifting the spirits of Younger Child, just returned from district-wide Science Fair, and not having placed. Thank you, sir.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Worth Another Read ...

With developments in the Iraq War over the past few months, I would like to once again recommend the book, "Naked in Baghdad" by National Public Radio senior foreign correspondent, Anne Garrels. Though it is a collection of reports and impressions she gathered more than four years ago, at the start of the conflict, it sill holds up well to the 'current affairs' label it received when it first arrived on the shelves.

But, perhaps more than it is a document of political, social and martial forces at work in that still-bubbling cauldron that is Iraq - this is a book on the craft of journalism under the most trying of conditions. On one hand is the totalitarian regime that ruled Iraq at the time, and used a variety of methods to rule the media, as well. On the other hand are political forces on the far side of the world, adopting ever-more-extreme measures to change said regime.

And, caught in the middle are the ordinary people of Iraq, and a dwindling pool of western journalists who are neither embedded with the U.S. military, or 'in bed' with the Iraqi government. By the beginning of the war, that pool had gotten so small, that Garrels had an almost totally-unique and exclusive position. Some of the best examples of Garrels practicing her craft, are the steps she took to maintain her independence - and that of her reports - from the Iraqi government monitors ... one of those steps provided the title of this book.

"I'm not really very interested in the strictly military part of war," Garrels writes at one point. "Rather I'm fascinated by how people survive, and how the process of war affects the attitudes of all sides involved, and how they pull out of it."

"Naked in Baghdad" offers a healthy dose of comments and observations from ordinary Iraqi citizens ... a refreshing change from books filled with the rhetoric of leaders on both sides of the conflict. Some of you out there - content with your perception of journalists as a united and monolithic cabal of evil - might be surprised at some of the sharp words Garrels has for other practitioners of her craft who, she believes, have crossed the lines that define responsible journalism.

It is a book that granted us special insight, then, and perhaps an even greater insight now. As a report on current affairs, and as a primer on the craft of journalism, I heartily recommend it.