Wednesday, January 31, 2007

the end of an era

This post is for my dad, whose last official day as a working man was yesterday. Goodbye pediatrics, hello retirement!

For the record, my dad has always worked his ass off. I can remember repeatedly throughout my childhood the nights when the phone would ring several times, the weekends and holidays dad was on call, the mornings he would get up at 5:45 and be out of the house by 6:30 (which was most mornings, come to think of it) and not get home until 7:00 or later.

And despite this workload that, quite frankly, would crush me if I had to keep it up, he still found time to do stuff with me and Leslie all the time - I never had the sense that he was absent. When I was young, we went to Waites Bakery on Tuesday mornings for chocolate covered donuts. We read The Chronicles of Narnia and The Hardy Boys and Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn and the Shel Silverstein books together. And as I got older, we threw the baseball, rode bikes, went to UAB basketball games and Auburn football games, and went waterskiing at the lake. He took me to my first blues club to hear live music one night in New Orleans when I was only about 13 and talked the bouncer into letting us in. He taught me how to drive stick shift (that was an experience) and how to catch fish out of the surf at the beach. Once, when I was in junior high, he took me out of class in the middle of the day to go down to the Birmingham Civic Center when Eric Clapton was in town setting up for a show, just to see if we could catch a glimpse of Clapton and try to meet him (we didn't, but it was a good try nonetheless and the show that night was fantastic).

Not that I was always as appreciative of all this effort as I should have been. I neglected some fairly simple tasks in high school...mostly thing like keeping my room clean and failing to pick up certain items (read: "all my crap") that sat at the foot of the steps waiting to be carried upstairs. I can only imagine how aggravating it must have been for Dad, who worked all day, to come home to the mess created by me and my sister. ("One day you'll understand," he used to say - maybe now I do?)

When my parents dropped me off at W&L to start college, my dad said, "Make yourself proud and you'll make us proud." I hope I can do just that - I've certainly had a role model to show me exactly how it's done. I love you, Dad - congrats on a great career! Cheers!

Friday, January 26, 2007

new leadership in the church

It's a big day today in Virginia Episco-world: The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia will be electing its next bishop. This would be a fairly big deal under any circumstances, but there are two factors that lend even more gravity to this election:

1. The Diocese has been under the leadership of the same bishop - The Rt. Rev. Peter Lee - for 22 years. Bishop Lee is the senior-most bishop in the Episcopal Church, and The Diocese of Virginia is the largest Episcopal Diocese in the country (in terms of population).

2. Given the recent strife between the vast majority of the diocese and the handful of churches that have chosen to break away from the Episcopal Church, it would be a gross understatement to call these "trying times." The outcome of the legal proceedings over church property in Virginia will set a precedent for the rest of the country.

It goes without saying that the three men and two women who have been nominated to fill the role of Bishop of Virginia will have very big shoes to fill. The Annual Council of the Diocese - and, specifically, the voting for the new bishop - is taking place right now at the downtown convention center here in Richmond. In fact, according to the agenda, the first ballot is supposed to take place in three minutes. While all of this matters little to most people, I think it will significantly shape the tone and course of the Episcopal Church in Virginia for years to come.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

a snowstorm of inconsequential proportion

I realize that it is bloggerifically cliche to post pictures of the view from one's window on one's blog. Lame. Banal. Trite. Hackneyed. Etc. Etc.

Whatever. I'm lamenting the snowstorm that almost was.

Here's the view from my window thirty minutes ago:

Finally, a winter that actually looks and feels like winter. It is January, after all. A January snowstorm would be seasonal, fitting. Go ahead, click the photo for the full-sized image and see for yourself. Look at how it's starting to accumulate - just ever so slightly - in the bottom right corner of the photo. And in the air...big snowflakes! Driving wind! Solid overcast sky!

But hang on...a change...a lessening...wait for it...wait for it...ah! There it is. 40-degrees and sunny again. Which brings us to the updated hackneyed, trite, commonplace, banal "view out my window" as of right now.

Is one snowstorm that sticks (and sticks around for more than 10 minutes) too much to ask from the days of late January? I love spring and summer and fall, but if it's going to be'd be nice to have a littlte winter for a change.

Friday, January 19, 2007

putting the pen back to paper

It's been quite a while since I've done any collaborative music writing and recording. The last RingsEnd album was recorded in February 2002 and released about a year later. Since then, I've dabbled in some solo work and laid down a few songs for my own benefit, but nothing significant to speak of.

A day or two before I went home for Christmas, I had lunch with my friend Matt, who I've only run into a few times since he and I co-led the youth mission trip to Montana two and a half years ago. We started talking about music, and he mentioned that he'd been writing a lot lately and was looking to put together a collaborative project. This kind of conversation always makes me wary - I usually find that I'm not too crazy about the kind of music that needs a "collaborative effort." It seems as if that phrase is often code for "these songs kinda suck - how can I make them better?"

Not the case here. It turns out that Matt has a real gift for melody, despite the fact that he doesn't play an instrument. And the lyrics he's written are thought provoking and intentional without being cheesy. He sent me an mp3 of him singing one of the tunes he's written - no instruments, just a cappella - and I sent him back an arrangement with guitar chords and harmony vocals. We met earlier this week to record a more fleshed-out version. The best part was that I think some of the other songs may turn out to be better than this one.

Regardless, it's nice to be actively working on music with someone who's interested and capable. We'll see how the other songs go.

In other completely unrelated is my sister's 26th birthday. Happy birthday, Les!! Welcome to the B side of your mid-20's. Hope the celebration is a good one.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

a great end to a great season

You know I love college football. More specifically, if you know me at all, you know I love Auburn football in particular and SEC football in general. While Florida is a big rival of Auburn during the regular season, I'm always happy to see the SEC do well in post season play.

But Florida didn't just do well. They won the National Championship. And they didn't just beat Ohio State, a team that's been ranked #1 in the polls every single week since the season started in early September. They absolutely crushed them. I think 41-14 is fairly decisive. Aside from the opening play of the game - Ohio State's 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown - Florida owned Ohio State to the point of embarassment. I do feel bad for Troy Smith, who is a fantastic player and (apparently) a great guy. But I'm happy to see an SEC team take home the title.

And on a purely selfish note...Florida wins the championship with one loss on their record. Their one loss? Auburn, 27-17. Not that Auburn deserved to be in the National Championship game themselves - as my dad pointed out, Florida matured as a team over the course of the season whereas Auburn did not - but it does add an extra dollop of satisfaction atop an already-sweet BCS outcome.

Monday, January 01, 2007

another trip around the sun

Well. The parties are over and now the new year can start in earnest. 2007 indeed.

I haven't quite gotten my brain in gear after the weekend festivities (Jack's 30th birthday party on the 30th with New Year's Eve nipping a bit too quickly at its heels). So, no thoughtful ruminations yet - insightful or otherwise - about the past year or the upcoming one. Just trying to "be" a little bit for a day or two and see how the new calendar feels before I begin making blanket statements about what has been or what will be. I did, however, make a mix CD just before Christmas - something of a personal musical retrospective of 2006. Not necessarily songs that were released this past year, just ones that captured my attention over the last 12 months. Let me know if you're interested and I'd be happy to mail you a copy.

Peace and blessings for a happy, healthy, fruitful 2007!