Saturday, December 08, 2012

The Light's Home: a new ministry/counseling project spearheaded by James Noriega (former pastor at Mars Hill)

As has been discussed at some length at this blog, James Noriega is no longer employed as a pastor by Mars Hill Church.  He stopped being listed as a pastor approximately 12-14 months ago, back around September or October 2011.  This is what he's been working on over the last year, for those who may be interested in reading about it.  Here are a few testimonials with some names some of you regular readers may recognize.

Testimonials of note are from Andrew Pack (Anchor, a MH plant); Gary Shavey (MH Bellevue); AJ Hamilton (MH Albequerque); and Amanda Hightower. 

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Star Trek Into Darkness ... okay

Something tells me this movie will not necessarily feature Spock doing battle against evil sentient flying pancakes that sound like squeaking doggy chew toys. 

Mockingbird on Dave Brubeck and a few thoughts of my own

Earlier this year, when I wrote a guest piece for Internet Monk, I mused on how if in Christ there is no slave or free, Jew or Greek, or male or female then this meant that there is no high or low, art or pop, indie or mainstream but all are united in Christ who reconciles all things to God the Father through Himself.  It's fitting to remember in the week of Brubeck's passing that he was Catholic (I'm Protestant but let's set aside a few of those ceaseless differences, significant though they are, to consider an element of Brubeck's legacy).  Brubeck was catholic in his faith and musical interests and the cool sound he helped develop was a sound that fused "classical" with "jazz" in ways that were new and interesting. 

I heard Brubeck twenty years ago and my musical thinking has never been the same since.  What may be tedious or unappealing to many music listeners about Brubeck's music could well be summed up in "musical thinking".  Brubeck was often a cerebral musician in how he came across, how he'd improvise an idea.  There was, particularly for his detractors, something un-swinging and eggheaded about his musical approach.  Even twenty years ago when I was introduced to his music I met people who said that Brubeck did not play jazz.  About sixteen years ago the magazine Downbeat noted by that time Dave Brubeck constituted one of the pillars of mid-20th century jazz composers and pianists because, quite simply, he'd outlived pretty much all the jazz critics who refused to recognize his music as jazz.  When all the dissenters have died off and you're still alive and kicking and touring and recording then, well, you kinda won that battle, didn't you?

Decades ago I wrote a little instrumental piece mainly in 5/8 that people thought I had written after hearing "Take Five" by the Brubeck Quartet.  That piece is associated with Brubeck even though it was written by Desmond and when I wrote my 5/8 piece I had never even heard of Dave Brubeck or Paul Desmond.  What I had heard was John Coltrane's "Afro Blue" and Tom Petty's "Breakdown".  I liked both songs and wanted to come up with a song that was somewhere in between.  So betweeen the buoyant 6/8 of Coltrane and the weirdly agitated lethargy of Tom Petty's four-on-the-floor I came up with a slightly astringent 5/8.  Nobody at college who heard the instrumental believed I hadn't heard of Brubeck when I wrote the thing ... except for a friend of mine who was an old bandmate who says that the way I think about music the Coltrane/Tom Petty fusion into 5/8 totally makes sense. 

Some twenty years on I'll happily say that Brubeck's music has been a touchstone for my way of thinking about composing and to some degree my musical goals.  Theere's also Hindemith, Penederecki, Messiaen, Haydn, Bach, Stravinsky, Stevie Wonder ... but Brubeck was one of those seminal discoveries in which this guitarist and composer discovered a kind of fusion (and there are many kinds of fusion) that took hold of me. 

Let me say something in defense of cerebral music.  It is often said that music is a thing that speaks directly to the heart but it is taken for granted in a preponderance of tacitly dominant musical styles that something is understood and perceived by the mind to be actually be a musical style and an acceptable one before the "heart" has an emotional response. In the last one hundred and fifty years styles have exploded across and within regions.  We live in the most polystylistic musical moment in the history of the entire human race.  We live in an era in which the very idea of purity of style could be a quaint notion and it would be difficult to say there are any "rules" left to break except, perhaps, two sorts of rules:  1) the rules limiting what is possible with sound due to sheer physical limitations in tone production and human perception (though musical works exploiting infrasound are still feasible) and 2) limits in what is considered to be the barrier between Style A and Style B. 

Brubeck was a musician who spent a lifetime crossing back and forth between what we might call Style A and Style B.  He may not have always had equally effective and compelling moments in any of those two way stations, if you will, but that he was able to travel so freely and readily between those stations is itself an example for us to consider both now and in the future.  We have lived through so many fractures and revolutions that the possibilities for moments and movements of consolidation and fusion may seem hard to imagine.  Those moments were not hard for Dave Brubeck to imagine, he imagined them in all sorts of ways.  It may be both too corny and too obvious to say that this enterprise of fusion and consolidation requires acting in faith and yet, as we know if we've listened to more than just a little Dave Brubedk he wasn't afraid to be either corny or obvious when he decided that it was musically worth doing. 

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Dave Brubeck has died

I meant to write more than just noting the passing of the pianist and composer but life happens.  Dave Brubeck died this morning at the age of 91.  Perhaps I'll get around to blogging more about him, his music, and passing later.  Today's just not turned out to be that day.

HT Mockingbird: The Humblebrag

There’s nothing new about false modesty, nor its designation as a form of bad manners. But the prevalence of social media has given us many more canvases on which to paint our faux humility — making us, in turn, increasingly sophisticated braggers.

... a humblebrag is an opportunity for the attention-starved to stake a claim on our sympathy.

Indeed, this may be why false modesty is no less discomfiting to its audience (and is sometimes more so) than outright bragging. Outright bragging expects to be met with awe, but humblebragging wants to met with awe and sympathy. It asks for two reactions from its audience, and in so doing makes fools of its beholders twice over. The practice is also ineffably irritating because it ultimately and slyly asserts the triumph of business over the personal: given that there’s a higher tolerance for bragging in business than social circles, many falsely modest statements on Twitter and Facebook try to fly under decorum’s radar by whispering to their readers, “You’re my fan, not my friend.”

The humblebrag, unsurprisingly, appears from people in ministry at megachurches.  Despite having mentioned almost completely in passing about how his church was even able to rent the city of Ephesus for a day a nobody trying to tell everybody about somebody managed to tweet this.

Mark Driscoll@PastorMark 19 Jun 12
What do you call a guy expected to do what he cannot do with resources he does not have?


Could be a humblebrag, maybe.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Duo Rubicund, set of links to a Seattle flute and guitar duet

Er, they've been a flute and guitar duet up until about now.  They're closing shop as the flutist is leaving town, if memory serves.  But here's a bunch of links to stuff they've done.  I'd encourage you to give their stuff a listen and check out some of their videos on YT.

Duo Rubicund
flutist Erica Coutsouridis and guitarist Meredith Connie

I hear local Seattle guitarist Michael Partington has a new album out of works by Bryan Johanson.  I also hear another Seattle guitarist, Hilary Field, has an album of viola and guitar music that should be officially released some time soon.  As Wenatchee The Hatchet kinda tackles chamber music for classical guitar as a blogging topic from time to time you can anticipate that blogging about things like that will be a goal. 

Some of you may have noticed there's more links and less lengthy blog posts and not as many of them.  There are reasons for that.  Sometimes life off-line keeps you busy in ways that are beneficial.  I had thought about blogging about Skyfall and how it's sorta trippy that there's a James Bond movie that has a theme but I don't know if I'll necessarily do that now or not.  I mean, the movie was out practically a whole month ago, wasn't it?

PsyBlog: Why people believe weird things and 8 ways to change their minds


People love sensational stories. They like to pass on tales that make the listener very happy, disgusted or afraid: anything that provokes a strong emotional response.

Neutral stories, which are probably more likely to be true, but much more boring, therefore get short shrift.

I've noticed this can happen on the internet from time to time.  :)  I could comment at greater length but it would not have any impact on those who might most benefit from such a discourse.  ;)

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Doonan vents his spleen on the travesty of modern art, a travesty observed by Calvin & Hobbes 2 decades earlier

By all means read all of THIS link ...
before skipping to THIS link.

Bill Watterson was famous in the industry for his staunch views on artist rights and control over licensing and merchandising over against what his publisher wanted to do.  Word has it that there's a documentary about Bill Watterson developing Calvin & Hobbes that's wrapping up, or should be, by late 2012 (according to a piece in Wired).  If the movie wraps and gets a 2013 then that movie and not others will be the most anticipated film of 2013 for this blogger.