Ides of March rambling: Jesus Was a Socialist

Workism Is Making Americans Miserable. Understand – Aubrey Logan, Rebecca Jade on background vocals.

Pandora's Inbox
Pandora’s Inbox by Dave Coverly. used with permission
www.speedbump.com
Obituary of legendary Albany activist Vera P. Michelson, known to most everyone as Mike.

Thirteenth (2016 documentary about the 13th Amendment).

Patheos: Jesus Was a Socialist.

Listen, papa: let priests marry.

Buddhist robot priest to dole out advice in Kyoto temple.

Fran Rossi Szpylczyn: I Need Help (First Sunday of Lent).

The best thing to give up this Lent is plastic.

Political Notebook: Stupidity and hope.

The Balloon Pops on His Economic Promises.

How to Spot Fake News Online.

Activity At 2nd North Korean Missile Site Indicates Possible Launch Preparations, so the fact that rump and Kim failed to reach a breakthrough in Hanoi may be for the best.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370: Five years on, here’s why people still believe the conspiracy theories.

Before We Even Think about Candidates for 2020.

Cartoon: A very Peanuts third-party candidate.

More local meteorologists are using their air time to bring climate change down to street level and communicate what this crisis means for their viewers’ everyday lives.

Where is Congress’ Center on Climate Change?

Workism Is Making Americans Miserable.

Jaquandor: On Writing Longhand.

Think you know Abraham Lincoln? New photos reveal the man behind the legend.

The inspiring story of H’Hen Niê, who won Miss Universe Vietnam 2017.

Do Grammar Mistakes Annoy You? You Might Be an Introvert.

Movement And Breathing Breaks Help Students Stay Focused On Learning.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: robocalls and automation and psychics.

How to make “New York style pizza” at home. (n.b.: too much work for me!)

The People Who Eat the Same Meal Every Day.

Hate tried to come for Brie Larson. Captain Marvel destroyed them.

Boney – a television drama with the worst casting gimmick ever.

Now I Know: New York City’s Secret (Tiny) Subway and Arresting the Rooster and The Writing Was on the Wall and When a Baseball Team Traded for Runs and Too Much Hare in Your Ear and Bernie Madoff’s Other Swiss Bank Account and The Hole Truth About Ballpoint Pens and Domo Arigato, Mr. Robutto and Darts Darts Bo Barts Bananafana Fo… Uh Oh.

STAR WARS: ALWAYS.

AND

Execute order 66.

Loud music.

MUSIC

Understand – Aubrey Logan, Rebecca Jade on background vocals.

The revolution will not be televised – Soul Rebels club mix.

Gustav Holst’s The Planets – Jupiter, scored for five pianos.

Everything Changes – Eytan and The Embassy, also Star Wars parody, plus the identities revealed of the original video.

Coverville: 1253: Tributes for Peter Tork of the Monkees and Mark Hollis of Talk Talk and 1254: Cover Stories for The Who and Townes Van Zandt.

RIP, Hal Blaine of The Wrecking Crew, Hall of Fame drummer.

Andre Previn has died at age 89.

K-Chuck Radio: The “cover band” phase of popular bands and Olivia Newton-John does make you feel mellow.

Monkees Screen Tests

NPR’s ‘Jazz Profiles’, hosted by Nancy Wilson; Miles Davis: ‘Kind of Blue’ (2001).

They Really Don’t Make Music Like They Used To.

Ash Wednesday: What is hell to you?

I opined that the old guy was in his own hell, and Catbird agreed.

I don’t think a whole lot about hell. Well, not since I was growing up with the concept constantly slipped into every third sermon I heard.

One of the things that started my long withdrawal from church in my twenties had a hell of a lot to do with what some said happened after death.

Specifically, it was the notion that everyone who didn’t accept Jesus as their savior was going to some fiery pit in the next life. That would include someone in a remote village in Nepal or person on a tiny island in the Pacific. (This is why we “needed” so many missionaries.)

Still, I think there is a “hell.” My good friend Catbird is reading “The Da Vinci Code,” which I’ve never even started. The motivation was partly because the book is on the PBS “Great American Read” list.

But it was also because some old acquaintance of Catbird’s said it was the work of the devil, which made it more enticing. My friend emailed the acquaintance to ask what event or character had informed his opinion, figuring he had never actually read the story. He replied that Catbird was going to hell and that his words were a warning.

Catbird shared the opinion that both heaven and hell are what one chooses to make of one’s circumstances. A life-altering experience has deeply informed my friend that death is nothing to fear.

I opined that the old guy was in his own hell, and Catbird agreed. And from appearances, it seems “entirely self-inflicted… and possibly addictive.” Catbird heard on the radio about the door to hell being locked from the inside and thought that it applied especially well to him.

So what is hell to you? Is it a physical place after we leave this mortal coil? Is it something else? Does it not exist at all? Maybe you’re hedging your bet.

This Lenten discussion immediately brought to mind a song written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong: You Make Your Own Heaven And Hell Right Here On Earth, recorded by The Temptations and Undisputed Truth.

Advent as Lent-lite?

“I’m not a Christian but I used to have a very strong respect for what they stood for.”

liturgical cycleIt seems that Advent, the season we’re in now, doesn’t bring me as much joy as it does for others. Someone, I don’t remember who, recently suggested that Advent is Lent-lite.

And I submit it may be true. Just as the Lent precedes the Easter Resurrection, so too is the waiting for the birth. The songs can be somber and in minor key.

It may be Seasonal Affective Disorder, “a type of depression that reoccurs during the winter months and typically lasts until the spring or summer.” The early snow did not help.

Back in the 1980s, I used to go visit my parents’ house in Charlotte, NC January, around Martin Luther King’s birthday. The perfect timing was mandated by doing seasonal music at church and the heavy retail period at the store I worked, FantaCo, followed by doing inventory just after the first of the year.

But I reckon that I also become despondent over how the season has been taken over. Mark Evanier said, “I’m not a Christian but I used to have a very strong respect for what they stood for,” and I knew too well what he meant.

When Christianist apologists act Unchristian, when they “show that on immigration, race, and poverty, white evangelical Protestants have surrendered moral judgment and social responsibility, ” it makes me somewhat angry, but mostly incredibly sad.

Alternet suggests the so-called “war on Christmas” for a proxy war for white supremacy. And it sounds about right.

Then Christmas Eve arrives. It still involves waiting, but it is now of a very short duration. The music that we sing generally has a special magic.

The service has some of the structures of the previous years, yet it always has something new. I trick myself into believing that, for a short while at least, all IS right with the world.

L is for Lent

Every time Jesus mentioned the equivalent of a church tradition, the Torah, he qualified it with something like this: “The scriptures say thus and so, but I say…”

christianLeftI realize it’s rather late in the season of Lent. But I’m endlessly fascinated with it. Much of my favorite music is associated with the season.

Why DO we give up something for Lent?

Today we know Lent as a season of conversion: we acknowledge the ways we have turned away from God in our lives and we focus on turning our hearts and minds back toward God.

A piece someone wrote recently – I no longer remember who – has stayed with me:

I have a question for my friends who are giving up something for Lent: chocolate, Facebook, etc. I used to give up sweets etc. too. It just occurred to me, though, that instead of “giving up” something, if we all did MORE Continue reading “L is for Lent”

If I wrote “I can’t breathe,” you’d probably misunderstand

Amy Biancolli will talk about “Living and writing in Smalbany: A love story” on April 25 at 1:30 at the Washington Avenue Branch of the Albany Public Library.

respiratorysystemI’ve been feeling crummy all week. It’s probably bronchial.

Missed church Sunday. In fact, I never even got out of my pajamas.

Muddled through work on Monday and Tuesday. But Tuesday night, the sound of my own coughing and wheezing, plus a sore throat, kept me awake most of the night.

By Wednesday, my condition was too aggravating, not to mention exhausting. Continue reading “If I wrote “I can’t breathe,” you’d probably misunderstand”