I took my family to Celtic Thanksgiving IV on Saturday. Among other great acts was bagpiping stud Stuart Liddell (pronounced like the children’s book mouse), and this guy was AWESOME. I’ve never seen such blistering shredding! He has a bunch of videos on YouTube; here’s a good one:
We took the kids to the Nevada State Museum this summer, and one area was dedicated to remembering the Huntridge theater. It really had a fascinating history. I saw plenty of concerts there in the 90’s, including Nine Inch Nails just as The Downward Spiral came out. I had to take some pictures of these displays, as they brought back some great memories. Strange that I never think of this stuff–I work only a block from there and drive by it all the time.
I heard this contemporary cover of “Nearer My God To Thee” on Mormon Channel radio last week and loved it.
Also, I found these three videos to be very helpful in picturing the detailed directions for making the tabernacle, priestly clothing, etc. in Exodus 25-30. The narration isn’t from the King James Version, but it’s easy to tell what’s what. In fact, the updated terminology also helps clarify the KJV text.
The first video covers Exodus 25 (0:00-5:27), Exodus 26:15-30 (5:27-7:07), and Exodus 27:1-8 (7:07-8:09)
The second video covers Exodus 27:9-21 (0:00-2:30), and Exodus 28:1-43 (2:30-9:08)
The third video covers Exodus 30:1-10 (0:00-1:56), and 30:17-33 (1:57-4:30)
Soft, sweet, simple, sad. I first heard this aria on the radio a dozen years ago and have loved it ever since. I like seeing music performed, and this video is a classy tribute to the piece. Also, the singer’s voice is perfect for it; this isn’t one to belt out. Here are the words in English:
Let me weep
over my cruel fate,
and sigh for freedom.
Let my sorrow break the chains
of my suffering, out of pity.
Isn’t that perfect?
I’ve been motivating myself to grade papers lately by finding instrumental covers of great songs to listen to while I work. Here are three good ones for the U2 classic “Bad.”
Courtesy of a DVD from the library, I watched a whole production of this opera for the first time last week. I was blown away by everything about this work: the music, acting, singing, comedy, lighting…just a stellar ensemble all around.
Some of the kids watched much of it with me–another testament to its power!
Also, here’s a reminder of how powerful a complete work can be compared to snippets and summaries: three hours long, but well worth it. I’ll remember this far better than any exposure I’ve had to it before.
Turns out the whole thing is on YouTube:
My favorite piece is still this one, featured in The Shawshank Redemption:
I saw this great tribute band play for $10 at the Cannery in North Las Vegas on Friday night. Their set was a decently wide range from the U2 catalog–ranging from two tracks off the 1980 debut Boy album through 2004’s “Vertigo.” Most tracks came from The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby. Basically, it was a roll of greatest hits, well chosen with the longtime fans in mind.
The lead singer does a pretty decent Bono impression–not as obnoxious as Ben Stiller‘s by a long shot, but still in that vein. His performance was faithful and loving, but avoided any arrogance that impersonating Bono might invite.
Still, his friendly, casual approach to the role led him to do some good stuff (like adding bits of classic rock lyrics to the end of songs, Bono-style), and some questionable stuff (like warbling improvised lyrics several times, off time to the point where it clearly confused the rest of the band–tighten this up in rehearsal, guys).
The rest of the band was strong, too. Some tracks had some weak spots–as good as the guitar was, on a song like “In God’s Country,” the searing, soaring sonic harmony of Edge’s work must be impossible to duplicate–but overall the sound was solid, and on some songs, even stellar. Their cover of “Running to Stand Still” was positively inspired–a heart-wrenching elegy worthy of the original.
The tough job this tribute band has is their own fault–they’ve chosen to imitate one of the best groups in history! :) As talented as they obviously are, much of their playing only served to illustrate just how amazing the men in U2 are. With that in mind, they were very entertaining. Somewhere out there is a Nickelback tribute band with the easiest job in the world.
The appearance of the guys in Desire was even impressive. Though their bassist doesn’t look anything like Adam, the other guys have enough similarity to pass on stage. (Then again, most any guy with a square jaw can get an earring and a crew cut and look like Larry.)
If you have any interest in U2 and you ever get a chance to see these guys live, I highly recommend it. Ten bucks well spent; I’ll gladly go see them again.
As I was driving around one recent evening, I was listening to local station KUNV 91.5, which typically plays jazz, but offers a variety of random stuff on the weekends. In this case, they were playing an old concert from the Allman Brothers Band. I instantly loved the great long drum solo in it, which the DJ commented on after the set.
Later, I looked on YouTube and found a number of drum solos from this band, all skull-rattling and excellent. Enjoy!
Recent for me, at least. Here are some things I’ve seen lately that have stuck with me:
I came across this film while researching a unit on international media for a class. It’s short, simple, and says something true about humanity, with a bit of a twist at the end.
I heard this one while listening to the wonderful Thitsleradio.com. Again, short and beautiful, but I love the harmonizing and the folksly chant of it.
I’ve watched a few short films like this lately, and this one really impressed me: not at all historically accurate, but believable enough for a fantasy, and seriously well made.
Great old blues song I heard as a kid, and it just popped back into my head. Man, this is catchy.
From chapter 5 of the autobiography…
On happiness through ignoring yourself:
On finding enjoyment in simple things:
On poetry (and mountains):
- List of technology-enhanced activities for secondary English classes.
- Examples of worthwhile technology-enhanced lesson plans.
- Quick thoughts from the Hardings, homeschooling parents of ten who have sent seven kids to college by age 12.
- Recently found this silly video I made for a class I was taking two years ago. Amusing.
- Instapundit nails it: the humanities lost relevance when they decided to preach that nothing has intrinsic value. It’s been my experience that students (yes, even at-risk, underprivileged minorities!) appreciate the classics. Everybody likes the egalitarian ideal of participation in the uniting, universal canon, rather than manufactured niche curricula that only panders to trends.
Language & Literature
- Great WSJ essay on one of my favorite books, A Confederacy of Dunces.
- Cute chart collects insults from famous authors who hated each other’s work.
- Fascinating memoir of writing the script for Star Trek: Insurrection. Included here because it shares so much about that specific writing craft. Also, Insurrection is often over-maligned—it is not great, but not nearly as bad as many say. This long essay shows how it could have been great.
- Long lost introduction by Anthony Burgess to Dubliners.
- Interesting city photos from around the world.
- Beautiful music and images celebrate the wonder of God’s creations.
- Basic training ideas for half marathons, with more resources.
- 101 running tips from Men’s Health
Saw the old, original version of The Blob this weekend. Three notes:
1. It’s surprisingly mediocre–not bad, but not great.
2. There’s a Criterion Collection edition.
3. The best part is the opening theme song, a catchy ditty by young Burt Bacharach. It’s a perfect late 50’s tune. Seriously, try getting this thing out of your head for the rest of the day!
Recently found this stirring group rendition of my favorite song, a folksy bit of homesickness for Scotland:
One of my favorite R&B songs, from the early 90’s (of course). Does anybody write stuff like this anymore?