Saturday, August 30, 2008

Friday Night Lights and Doggie Frights

The band and colorguard enter the palace for the first time this year.

Last night was the first football game of the new school year. It came on the fourth day of school, which seems really early to me. Luckily (or maybe because of this), the band and the football teams have been practicing already, missing out on part of their summer vacation to grow their expertise and discipline. That takes a real commitment to the group.

A thunderstorm blew up just after I left the house. I didn’t think anything of it because it stayed mostly dry until we got to the palace (what they call the district&rsqou;s shared sports facility). The rains hit just as we arrived, and we had to keep the kids in the bus until it blew over, which seemed like days. The kids were kids—good kids but a little rowdy. They had the bus bouncing in all directions when one of them pointed to similar movement in the bus parked next to use and said, “Wow! They’ve got that bus rockin’!“

I thought this was an omen about the game, but it turned out to be looking at the house. Luckily, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

When the rain stopped, we let the kids go warm up while the parents spread plastic ponchos over the metal seats so the kids wouldn’t have to sit in water in their new pants. They entered the field 44 minutes and 44 seconds before the start of the game, and came up to their plastic-covered metal seats.

The Mavs played well, and stomped the visiting team. I felt sorry for them. They had a long ride home to College Station after a lopsided loss.

I took several pictures of the half-time show, but they didn’t come out all that well. There will be a few games where we have both had more time to practice (although the band did remarkably well for only having 10 days to learn the routine) and better light.

Here is the band sitting on their ponchos to keep their seats dry.

Our ride home was much quieter than the ride to the game. I think the kids were tired. It was a little while after we got home before we noticed one of the dogs was missing. It took longer for me to notice because both of the wanderers were waiting for us. The missing dog was Mr. Stability, AKA Buddy.

Buddy never wanders, so the storm must have really scared him. We couldn’t hear anything from the school or the palace, and the house is almost in the middle of the two end points. But the neighbors said it was really noisy at home.

The noise and being all alone for the first time since before school let out must have really upset him. He broke the gate and made his way out to look for someone to make the storm stop. The other dogs had time to explore, get bored, and come home. Buddy hurt himself pretty badly breaking the gate. We found him just laying in a neighbor’s driveway less than four blocks away. This morning, he is having trouble getting up, but he still managed to get up and down the stairs a couple of times by himself.

We’ll see how he does over the next few days. I hope I don’t have to have him surgerized.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Book Review: Misquoting Jesus

Ehrman, Bart D. (2005). Misquoting Jesus. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.

Photo source: LibraryThing

Misquoting Jesus is the most cogent book on the Bible I have ever read. Bart D. Ehrman began his study of the bible as a newly-reborn evangelical Christian. His intellect soon led him to conclude that we can’t treat the Bible as the word of God unless we know what the actual words were.

This quest lead him to learn the ancient languages of the original texts. In so doing, he noticed what others, going back to before King James, had: that the texts differ—sometimes significantly—in terms of the actual words used and sometimes in actual meaning. By 1707, John Mill had identified more than 30,000 discrepancies. Today, that number exceeds 200,000.

But the strength of Misquoting Jesus derives not from an exhaustive list of discrepancies, but from the all too human story of how these discrepancies came to be. For example, myth holds that King James Bible was translated into English based on original Greek manuscripts. Not only were the “original manuscripts” nonexistent, the text used for translation was a collection of manuscripts that just happened to be in Western Europe, where Latin text, not Greek, had been collected. In a rush to press (to beat the official Catholic Church collection to the market), at least two of the books of the New Testament were translated into Greek from Latin texts at hand.

But Ehrman goes even further back, explaining how some of the changes and additions to the texts were used to further the theological, social, or political aims of the editors, while others attempted to resolve discrepancies between different authors or were simply transcription errors. In the examples and explanations, Ehrman provides an overview of textual criticism—the logical search to find the original words of the author by comparing derivative editions.

Misquoting Jesus is a fascinating read. I used an entire pad of sticky notes marking passages and highlighting key concepts. This book really deserves to be a best-seller. If you haven’t read it yet, you should, no matter what your religious orientation is.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Balding Jew

Why is this Jew balding?

Something has gotten to my wandering Jew. All of the leaves above the pot were stripped over the course of a week or so. I never did see the pest, but it may have been a squirrel burying its nuts in some of my hanging baskets. One of my begonias has suffered similarly. But that doesn’t account for the middle leaves being stripped from the only coleus that overwintered.

At least all of these plants are starting to put out new growth. Still, I am a little indignant. Pesky Pests!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Rainy Days and Grateful Mondays

Any chance of rain is welcome. These clouds helped reduce water use this week and lowered the electric bill.

It kinda bothers me when I hear the weather forecasters apologizing for rain in the forecast. I look forward to rain, and we have had a little this week. Not much—only about .7” over three or four days, depending on how you count. But that has been enough.

I was able to forgo watering the lawn this week (even if the neighbors didn’t), and I only had to water the least drought-tolerant planties once since Wednesday. The rest are doing very well indeed on the available water.

But wait! Isn’t water the new oil? Why is ELAB watering at all?

OK. Suna did a really good job picking low-maintenance (if not xeric) plants, but we have added more color this year. Some of these, particularly the lobellias that have already gone, the sweet potato vine, and the coleuses that get the most sun are thirsty buggers. I don’t water the lawn more than once a week, no matter how it complains, and I try to limit watering the garden to what is absolutely necessary. I don’t want to waste water. You won’t find runoff from the lawn watering flowing down the gutter to the storm drain, but I do water enough to keep my little planties from shriveling up and blowing away.

So that is why I am grateful for any rain we get—even when it storms and floods. This week’s rain didn’t do anything to alleviate our first stage drought, but it did let us hold our own for another week. The overcast also kept the temperatures down into the lower-to-mid-nineties. That reduced evaporation and kept the air conditioning from running quite so much. For all of that, I am grateful this Monday.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday’s Gluttony

Friday’s Feast is still silent, but Suna more-or-less (more less than more but nonetheless) tagged me with a meme. I usually don’t like to answer lists this long, but…

  1. Were you named after anyone?
  2. Yes, I’m a junior. [See, Suna! I’m trying to do better with these silly binary questions.]
  3. When was the last time you cried?
  4. I remember crying, but I don’t remember when. I seem not to hold onto negative data like that. It’s just too easy to flush the buffers.
  5. Do you like your handwriting?
  6. It depends on whether or not I’m trying to read it. I often get compliments on how pretty my handwriting is—usually followed by questions about which writing system I use.
    Liverwurst on toast with onion, cheese, and mayo—yum!

    Photo source: Guy Albertelli

  7. What is your favorite lunch meat?
  8. Liverwurst followed closely by Salsalito Turkey.
  9. Do you have kids?
  10. Yes, but I have sired none. My bit for population control. All problems facing humanity today can be seen to stem from overpopulation.
  11. If you were another person would you be friends with you?
  12. Probably. “I think I’m an alright guy,” as the Todd Snider song goes.
  13. Do you use sarcasm a lot?
  14. Not a lot. I have trouble recognizing it, so I try to avoid it. But it does creep into my communication style.
  15. Do you still have your tonsils?
  16. No.
    Some creatures are made for bungee jumping. Humans aren’t

    Photo source: funadium

  17. Would you bungee jump?
  18. That would be a “Hell, no!” I wouldn’t even get close enough to the edge to be pushed.
  19. What is your favorite cereal?
  20. Honey Nut Cheerios
  21. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
  22. Sometimes—especially if they won’t come off otherwise.
  23. Do you think you are strong?
  24. There are many measures of strength. Everyone is strong just as everyone is weak.
  25. What is your favorite ice cream?
  26. The flavor in front of me.
  27. What is the first thing you notice about people?
  28. Different things with different people. Just say their comportment.
  29. Red or pink?
  30. On what?
    I notice different things first on different people, but some always seem to be wearing a mask.

    Photo source: Estella

  31. What is the least favorite thing about yourself?
  32. I haven’t conducted a poll to find out. My least favorite thing about myself is that I often miss the point of oblique communication. Why can’t people just say what they mean? For example: “I guess I’ll put that” away does not mean “Lee, please put that away.”
  33. Who do you miss the most?
  34. I’ll go with Suna on this one: I miss my mom, even though I still talk to her every day. She doesn’t answer back as often as she used to.
  35. Do you want everyone to send this back to you?
  36. “I think I speak for everybody here when I say, ‘Huh?’”
  37. What color shoes are you wearing?
  38. My feet are nekkid.
  39. What was the last thing you ate?
  40. Some mixed vegetables.
  41. What are you listening to right now?
  42. Skylight.
  43. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
  44. Again, the premise of this question is false, so any answer would be equally false. I’m not a crayon. How could I know what color I would be if I were?
  45. Favorite smells?
  46. See! More oblique communication! Does this ask if I have favorite smells? Yes, but I might not. Many people are olfactorily challenged. Or does it ask what those smells are? Fresh coffee and freshly turned fertile earth.
  47. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?
  48. A time-vampiric, panhandling leech known as a telemarketer.
  49. Do you like the person who sent this to you?
  50. Duh!
    Sometimes I even fall asleep watching football on TV. I guess I’m just not that much of a sports fan. [Is that one guy trying to pull the receiver’s pants down?]

    Photo source: jmtimages

  51. Favorite sports to watch?
  52. Another one! If I interpret the stem correctly, football. Then whatever else is on if I’m not doing anything else.
  53. Hair Color?
  54. No, this is my natural color.
  55. Eye color?
  56. I guess I may have misinterpreted the previous question. Depends on what I’m wearing. It changes.
  57. Do you wear contacts?
  58. No.

At this point, the original interrogator got too lazy to write cogent stems, and I grew bored enough with the game to truncate the list. I assume that if I got too bored with my own fascinating opinions to continue, anyone reading this would have fallen asleep by now. [Does that count as sarcasm?] See you next time on the Interminable List of Questions blog. [That surely does.]

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thursday Blues

Even though Mesa Rosa means “red table,” I decided to use this photo of roses because the Spanish phrase always makes me think of roses on the table.

Today was a bluesy day. I was able to go through the new job listing in only a few minutes. Then I couldn’t get a lot done this morning because I didn’t want to wake up the kids. This is the last full week before school, and they deserve to sleep in. I always wanted to at their age.

Then I went to the home center to look for a band saw, and the only one they had was a lot more than I wanted to spend. I need the band saw to finish a project I started a couple of months ago, but I don’t need it $400 worth—not while I don’t have any income.

So that left me lolling around the house, doing laundry and cataloging books on LibraryThing. By the time Suna got home, I was hopelessly dumpy. But she cheered me up by offering to take the boys and me to Mesa Rosa for dinner. That meant that I didn’t have to perk up enough to cook, but the food and the company were so good that they did the trick. By the time we left, I was feeling human again.

So does this count as a Grateful Thursday?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Shepherd’s Tale

Shepherd Book is one of the most interesting characters in the Firefly/Serenity universe.

Drawing by: alida saxon

Despite constant rumors to the contrary, we are as likely to see a faster-than-light drive in our lifetime come from basic research proposed by Republicans as we are to see a Serenity sequel. Joss Whedon said that the only reason rumors persist is that the fans and the cast really want to see it happen. Count me in.

On the other hand, I may have to expand my comic purchase parameters. So far, I have avoided any of the numerous Whedenesque comics other than Buffy the Vampaire Slayer Season 8—say Angel: After the Fall or Serenity: Better Days. That may have to change.

An MTV blog reported that Whedon has agreed to answer the most asked questions from the Firefly/Serenity universe: “So what is it about Book? How does a preacherman get to know so much about guns and have such a high government clearance?” My guess is that he was an Operative—an invisible government agent with unlimited authority to complete whatever mission is assigned. Even though it’s possible he was a bounty hunter, I’m sticking to my theory at least until next year when a three-issue series called A Shepherd’s Tale will be released to supply Book’s backstory.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Geranium Bloom

This lovely lives on our front porch.

After being overcast since Saturday, we finally got enough rain to settle the dust in the back yard—not enough to measure, but enough to settle the dust. Yesterday, it started to spit every time I went outside, and today seems to be following the pattern.

Since I have new cheap plants in the ground, I still had to water yesterday afternoon. We’ll see if I have to water today. I took a “state of the garden” set of photos after watering yesterday, and I have posted them all to Flickr, in case you’re interested.

The clouds have at least kept the highs in the mid-80s. It’s funny how cooler temperatures outside make the house seem warmer because the air conditioner runs less.

In other news, I took Beccano to the Sophomore Roundup this morning. (TubaBoy took himself to the Senior Roundup yesterday.) The Roundup is where they hand out locker assignments, if you’re willing to pay for one and core curriculum text books. It seems a bit cheesy to make kids pay for lockers, but neither Beccano nor TubaBoy want one, so maybe it makes sense. Since the school does give out textbooks to keep at home and others live in the classroom, I don’t see why anyone would want a locker these days.

20 August Update: Well, we eventually got .2”, which was enough with the overcast skies to keep from having to water for two whole days—even though other parts of town got two full inches, enough to overflow their rain barrels. At least the aquifer was recharged a bit.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Dragonfly Heart

Suna brought me this lovely rattle from her weekend retreat to Fredricksburg.

As I mentioned briefly before, Suna went on a weekend sabbatical with some of her friends. They went to Fredricksburg to shop and learn to bead. (It still seems strange to me to use bead as a verb, almost as weird as using defense as a verb.) By all accounts, they had a lovely, relaxing time.

She brought me back a present. It’s a lovely raku clay heart with a dragonfly embossed on its surface. The photo here doesn’t do the colors justice, but you can still make out the dragonfly. It came with a card:

American Indians have long used rattles during ceremonies to ensure blessings upon their crops. Use this rattle to help rattle some rain into your life [always needed here in Central Texas], some rain out of your life, to help rattle your worries away, or just to keep your papers from blowing away.

So that’s what I’m grateful for this week—a partner who thinks of me when she’s away and shows me such support and kindness when she’s here. She seldom raises her voice, and I really appreciate that, too.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The New Religion

Somehow, it’s fitting.

I don’t usually blog YouTube stuff. I don’t even usually go to YouTube. But when I found this video through Whedonesque, I couldn’t help myself.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Another Hot, Dry Saturday in August

The kids use a grid like this to play. When I was a kid, we had to draw our own grids on graph paper and the DM never commented about the accuracy of what we drew.

I’m taking a break to cool off and write this short update. Suna is on sabbatical with some of her friends this weekend, but I’m holding down the home front.

Mr. Stripey is gone. I ripped him out of the ground and ran over him with the mulching mower. Mostly, he is now part of my compost pile. The good news is that I now have room to plant a couple of fall tomatoes, and the unnamed variety that Suna bought now has a fruit. That little ’mater signed Mr. Stripey’s death warrant.

One of the New Guinea Impatiens I transplanted to the front yard has also returned to the earth. About a week ago, it just started dying back. I cut the affected stalk off, but the others soon followed and left a gaping hole. I haven’t got a clue why. The others in the bed are all very happy.

Not much else is going on. TubaBoy brought over a bunch of male friends, and they played D&D late into the night. They were not overly boisterous, but they did make enough noise to let me know they were having fun. Mostly, I tried to stay out of their way and let them have fun. Maybe sometime they will let me play, too. I really enjoyed that game when I was their age, but I stopped playing when I couldn’t find anyone who was interested.

Oh, and I’m putting up some shelves in the guestroom closet. I can get some of my books out of boxes that way. Let’s hope we get some rain tonight. I’ve been doing my part: leaving car windows open and watering the lawn when it clouds up, but still no measurable rain.

18 August Update: The kids played again last night. I was able to update the picture to reflect their actual game area. Sigh! I guess I’m getting too old to really want to stay up all hours of the night to play. They didn’t get started until after Suna and I had gone to bed, old fuddies that we are.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Book Review: Wolves at the Gate

Image Goddard, Drew (2008). Wolves at the Gate: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, Issue 3. Cover source: Dark Horse Comics
Andrew: Oh, hi, Buffy. Hi, nude Asian girl…. How much Dramamine did I take?
—Drew Goddard

Wolves at the Gate comprises issues 12–15 of Season 8. As of this writing, it has not been reissued in book form, but that is only a matter of time given the previous history of this series.

Wolves returns the focus to Buffy, but it still feels like an arc device. That is, its main purpose seems to be to move the season along rather than to stand on its own. When BtVS was on the air, each season always included at least one show so dedicated. While important to the season, they were never very satisfying.

Wolves is an improvement on these other arc devices in that it provides a look at new facets of Buffy’s character. It also provides some insights into the relationship between Xander and Dracula, who appears to fight on the side of the slayers out of personal vanity because a group of upstart vampires in Tokyo have stolen some of his powers.

But Drew Goddard is what really separates Wolves from previous arc devices. He brings the wit and humor that characterized the series to the comic form. The writing is superb, making us fall in love with the characters again. What this episode lacks in plot, it more than makes up for in character development. Maybe, it isn’t just an arc device after all. Read it and decide for yourself.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I Have SES

Another victim of sordiseuus

Photo source: Glassrope

Suna often makes fun of my ability to eat (or inability to eat neatly). “Poor Lee,” she says. “He can’t eat right.” At first, I thought it was funny. Then I realized that she isn’t the only one who thinks this way. All my life, people have commented on how I eat. I have come to realize that I have a serious eating disorder, namely sordiseuus—more commonly referred to as Sloppy Eater Syndrome (SES).

Stop laughing! I’m serious. I have SES. This is a difficult admission for me.

SES is a traumatic ailment with serious social and economic effects. Besides the embarrassment, there’s the cost of clothing for one. I can’t eat Mexican food without needing to replace a shirt. The chips break on the way to my mouth, inundating me with salsa. No, that’s not a cilantro cologne I’ve been wearing lately.

Then there’s pizza. Why do the slices always bend half-way to my mouth, dropping anchovies in my lap? I had a meatball sub the other day that squirted marinara. Luckily I was wearing my glasses or I might have been blinded.

Now I’m still looking for work, so I can’t get treatment under a medical plan. I’m not even sure if insurance would cover this disorder were I still at ALE. So, I am forced to humble myself and ask for help. For just a hundred dollars a day, you could help me overcome SES, preserve my health, and replace my stained shirts. Please send what you can.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Slayer Tarot Ressurection?

More cards from the [resurrected?] Slayer Tarot
Photo source: Entertainment Earth

Those of us who occasionally (or frequently or as often as possible) visit the Buffyverse, know that it is not uncommon for Buffy Summers to resurrect. She has come back from the dead on at least two separate occasions.

I reported earlier that the Slayer Tarot, a deck designed for use by slayers in the Buffyverse and mystically transported to our world (where Buffy may be a mental patient straitjacketed in an asylum somewhere in sunny California), had been slain. Like Mark Twain’s, reports of the death of the slayer tarot may have been exaggerated. Unlike Twain’s, one can hope they will prove more than just premature.

Some random browsing today revealed that Entertainment Earth is offering the deck for September release. Thing from Another World originally offered it for August release but pulled the offering for “reasons beyond our control.” The deck has not been relisted on the the TfAW site.

EE also published a picture of a few additional cards (copied here). The images are true to the Buffyverse and to the concept that the cards are intended to be used by Slayers, as described by Comic Book Resources. Here’s how that site quotes designer and Tarot writer Rachel Pollack:

“The idea is it’s a tarot deck created for (use by) slayers in their task and for their allies in struggling against the vampires and the demons,” Pollack said. “So we’ve constructed a whole kind of world for this in which it’s not simply characters from the story, it’s actually cards that those characters actually use. There are characters, and some of the cards represent particular moments in the story.” The Lovers card, for instance, is Buffy and Angel.

Even though I wonder how a professional writer can use the word “actually” so many times in one sentence, I placed an order today with Entertainment Earth. I will let you know if I get the deck or if this order is also slain.

12 November 2008 Update: It was a false hope. The EE order was canceled today.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Song Played Blues

I get a chance to “rock out” on the blues at church.

Camera Photo by: Suna

But when you take the blues and make a song,
You sing them out again.
—Neil Diamond

Just a quick mention here about church. Joe, Scott, and I played a ’12 bar blues” piece for the postlude. This came after a sermon from one of our lay leaders that ran the gamut among uplifting, humorous, and soporific. I always enjoy playing the blues, and I got to play lead guitar—something I enjoy and am competent at, but at which I do not really excel.

I had considered taking an electric and a small amp to make my solo grittier, but I decided at the last moment that it was too much work. Still, I enjoy playing at church and am grateful to Joe and Scott for asking me to join in. When I get a chance to play music, all the other problems go away for a little while. It’ts almost a “Zen thing.”

In other news, the roses in the ground are all growing and are either blooming or getting ready to bloom. That is really good since we bought them at half-price and planted them so late in the season.

The hanging roses are not as happy. They initially put on a bunch of new growth, but now they are neither growing nor blooming. At least they don’t seem to be dying back. Maybe they just don’t bloom this time of year. They appear to be more “antique” varieties, some of which only bloom at certain times of year.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Eight Assertions for 08/08/08 @ 08:08

In Dramaclouds, Mother Nature isn’t even mildly perturbed, and she’s scary enough. Still, some rain would be welcome.

Photo by: skooal

With Friday’s Feast still in famine mode, Suna created a meme in honor of the Summer Olympics. It simply lists eight random assertions for 8/8/08. Ideally, I guess I should post it at 08:08, which I have done so (even though I’m actually writing this a couple of days later—Ha!).

  1. You can prove anything through numerology if you work hard enough.
  2. Books are great friends, but uncomfortable sleeping companions.
  3. “I thought that music matters, but that’s bullocks! Music doesn’t matter, not like people matter.”
  4. We all learn differently. We all have different skills, goals, and aspirations. Why do schools insist on reducing everyone to the lowest common denominator?
  5. All of the problems in the world today can be traced directly back to overpopulation, but the real problem is deciding who has to go.
  6. If we don’t deal with overpopulation on our own through birth control, Nature will, and She doesn’t resolve problems kindly.
  7. Starvation, epidemic, and ecological collapse will eventually restore balance in Nature. That doesn’t mean humans will survive the process.
  8. I don’t wanna play this game any more. Waaaa! But I’ll give bonus points to the first person to cite the quote in #3.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Heat Kills: A Gardening Ramble

These poor phlox keep trying. They looked so good just a few days ago.

My garden is suffering under the sun’s merciless onslaught. The John Fannick phlox have withered, as would most of the other plants if I failed to give them their daily watering, and the lobelias are gone.

Mr. Stripy is still barren as is the newcomer. Shaking the plants and threatening them doesn’t do any good. I am beginning to think that the pollinators prefer the other flowers to the tomatoes. In a couple of weeks, I will pull up Mr. Stripy and plant a rank of fall tomatoes from a real nursery.

Even the sunflowers that Beccano insisted we plant (I grew up thinking of them as weeds—sorry, any Kansans who stumble on this post.) are wilting in the unrelenting solar oven we call a climate.

The remnants of the last tropical storm to hit the Texas coast brought us ¾” of rain. It took less than two days for that relief to become only a vague memory. The storm that hit yesterday brought us almost nothing. It did keep the temperatures down to the upper 90s for a couple of days, so I’m not complaining.

One star is the Jacobi, which is flowering again.

11 August Update: Added phlox photo taken at the time but not uploaded.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Job Search Update

I feel like I’m jumping through hoops, but are they raising the bar?

Photo source: Bear’s Page

I had another interview with the Beatles’ label. This makes 12,464, and I’m still no closer to working for them. I don’t know if the hiring manager is being really careful or simply has trouble making a decision. But I’ll keep going in to talk until they stop asking or I find something else equally as interesting.

That last bit is seeming more remote. As days go by, more people I know are entering the market, and the offerings are getting leaner. The only new ad in the Education section today that wasn’t for day care was for a research director for the state higher education board—Ph.D. and loads of academic research credentials required.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings. That’s my dad’s favorite saying: “We’ll see.” And, in deed, we will.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Open Mic Night Out

Gaining Confidence
Phone photo by: Suna

We’ve all gotta start somewhere. Suna encouraged me to participate in the open mic night at BB Rover’s last night after Trey Bone played. When we got there, I realized I had forgotten my guitar. Not getting off the hook that easy, TubaBoy brought it to me after he got off work.

Trey Bone’s performance was not our best. Bill had Buster (at least one of the Bs in the restaurant name)roll all the treble off his guitar. This lead to a bass-y sound that never got fixed all night. Everytime I hit a note, it caused Bill’s guitar to feedback. Other than that, we did OK. A few missed notes, but nothing fatal.

I was the next-to-the-last performer because I didn’t sign up until after my guitar arrived. That meant almost all of our friends had already given up—probably a good thing. It took the entire first song to get used to the mic, which was set too hot and too close. (I was sitting down and had trouble moving away from it.) I was able to move it after the first song, and make enough adjustments myself to get through the second and third, which were actually a medley.

Suna says I did OK. All I know is that I was really nervous, which caused me to play the first one too fast. I was able to slow down the second one enough to get by and got the tempo right during the seque to the third song. I noticed a really good guitar playing nodding while I played the third one. So I guess what I need is to do this more often.

So what I am really grateful for today is Suna. She encourages me, supports me, and tells me I do well. She knows my bluster covers a timid ego and takes care of me.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Book Review: From the Dust Returned

Book Cover. No larger image.
Bradbury, Ray, (2001). From the Dust Returned. New York: William Morrow.
Photo source: LibraryThing

Like many of Bradbury’s “novels,” From the Dust Returned (hereafter referred to simply as Dust) began its life as a collection of short storied, most of which date from the 1940s. Most of these short stories are quoted in their entirety, becoming a “chapter” in the “novel.” I quote the words novel and chapter when applied to Dust because it is simply another short story collection bound together by a tenuous story line inserted as an afterthought and declared a novel.

Bradbury has never made any pretense of being anything other than a writer of superb short stories. He readily admits that his first novel, the classic Martian Chronicles, was simply a collection of unrelated short stories that shared a common setting. He repackaged these stories to get a publisher who demanded a novel to accept them.

Dust follows this tradition. Much of the book consists of a series of esoteric short stories that are really more word paintings than stories written in the 1940s, I assume the publishers were buying only two words in the stories: Ray Bradbury. The rest of the book consists mainly of new word paintings that tie the older stories together and provide a semblance of plot. Bradbury’s style is such that I couldn’t sort the older stories from the newer ones without consulting the acknowledgments.

Many of the transitions are abrupt, flinging the reader haphazardly from one frame of the comic to the next. But Bradbury’s eloquence quickly sooths any jangled nerves.

Now, there were times I was tempted not to pick the book back up. (Indeed, I may have set it down the first time I tried to read it; I found a bookmark a little more than half-way through.) If you’re looking for one of Bradbury’s more accessible works—say Fahrenheit 451 or Something Wicked This Way Comes, look elsewhere.

You should read Dust for the beauty of Bradbury’s language. Bradbury is a word painter who creates dramatic scenes in the reader’s brain though his mastery of poetic language. In rereading this work, I didn’t care that there is no real plot to follow. Neither did I care that the characters are mostly flat—more line drawings than portraits. Bradbury’s language is its own reward. It doesn’t knock the reader out of the story because there is no story, only flowing, beautiful language. Just make sure you’re in the mood for that kind of book before you pick this one up.

Gig Sunday

Trey Bone will be playing at BB Rover’s on Sunday night. Please drop by if you’re in the area.

BB Rover’s
12636 Research Blvd # B101
Austin, TX 78759
512) 335-9504

I’m impressed with myself that I got this up before the gig. We will play sometime after 7:00.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Book Review: The Informed Gardener

Chalker-Scott, Linda, (2008). The Informed Gardener. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
Photo source: LibraryThing

Linda Chalker-Scott makes it clear that all content in The Informed Gardener is available for free on her web site. She published the book only as a convenience for those who wanted to read her previous articles in book form. Frankly, I’m glad she did. I probably would never have found this wealth of information otherwise.

Chalker-Scott writes in a clear, down-to-earth style that conveys useful information to people who intend to use it. She organizes her columns (chapters) in the form of common gardening myths to be busted. And bust them she does. For example: she states that long-term research shows that transplanting trees and shrubs bare-rooted is much more effective than leaving the root balls undisturbed. She also shows that the people who most often tout the benefits of emending lawn soil are the people who sell the emendments. Interesting, huh?

Every serious gardener—and those of us who are only passing serious—needs a copy of this book.