May 26th, 2002

abstract butterfly

but the only thing I ever really wanted to say, was wrong, was wrong....

A huge thunderstorm woke me up at 3:00 a.m. I love the sound of rumbling in the distance, like some space war or momentous event far away. The bottom of the blinds flash as if they were alive with the lightning.

I turned on my shortwave radio, but the weather conditions limit me to U.S. radioevangelists, who use the word sin about as often as I use the article "and". One program is a radioplay in which one character lures another into "sin" by use of a promise of a "big needle full of heroin", and I pause to think that drug sales of seriously addictive and destructive drugs probably does fit my personal definition of "sin", but the revelation did not make me wish to listen further to hear how the play comes out.

I bypassed altogether the Reverend Gene Scott, who seems to be on 24 hours a day on multiple stations, and who operates a ministry from a rather unimpressive former movie theater in downtown Los Angeles. Some consider him a more refined taste than the more pure grain radioevangelist, because his fund-raising zeal is so unadorned that some services degenerate into Dr. Scott saying "we're going to play this damn music [usually referring to easy listening jazzy stuff] until enough pledges come in". I rarely listen to his program, though I do like that sometimes the "damn music" is actually pretty listenable 60s era cocktail jazz.

Lately I think that fundmentalists and charismatics
have a few pages in their playbook which my own personal team of liberal religionists should adopt.
When the fundamentalists and charismatics perceived a threat to their worldview, they promptly started not only churches but also Bible colleges, media programs and other ways to reach out to ordinary people. Perhaps religious liberals need their own "movement" of little liberal church schools affordable for ordinary people and alternative press and media outlets just as the fundamentalists and
charismatics have. I can imagine a hypothetical set of names--Word of Evolution Scientific College,
Books Unbanned Magazine, and a Book of Uncommon Prayer.
Of course, Skeptic Magazine already exists, so the slate is not completely empty.

One thing I love about the internet is the ability to look up song lyrics for songs I loved but never knew the words to sing. Tonight was a look at the Sundays' "Sound" album. I have sung along to "Here's Where the Story Ends" hundreds of times without having the foggiest what the lyrics actually were. There's something about "it's that little souvenir of a terrible year" that drew me in when this song was released, and draws me in even more today. That line:
"and the only thing I ever really wanted to say was wrong, was wrong, was wrong" really resonates. Even as we all grow too old for our affectations, this is the kind of song which can help one get in touch with one's inner teen. Next I'll no doubt be trying to figure out those Cocteau Twins songs.

I'm really impressed by how creative the folks here on LiveJournal can be. It seems as though I'm always seeing a great work of art, or a successful writing project, or a new website being created. Perhaps
instead of helping found a Multi-scriptural alternative to Bible colleges, I should be focusing on
an alternative to talent--the Word of Mediocrity College. Without meaning to offend anyone's tastes, I do get a chuckle from the idea of the Jon Bon Jovi School Distinguished Professorship in Music, the
Thomas Kinkeade Art Fellowship ("I'm a Kinkeade Fellow in watercolors") and the Greta Van Susteren School of Journalism. I'd endow the Ogden Nash professorship for poetry any day....
  • Current Music
    sundays, "I kicked a boy"
abstract butterfly

orange moon just above the horizon

We had a grand day today. Ken and I went to see the new Star Wars
while my wife and Heidi took the toddler to the community swimming pool. We live in one of the "high tech employer" areas north of Dallas, so we are in a prime Star Wars demographic. I knew to go to the theater at 10:00 a.m. to buy the 12:30 p.m. tickets, but
I had not expected that we would need to return at 11:00 to stand in line so that we could get good seats for the "digital" showing.
Stand we did, though, although the other folks in line, who brought notebook computers, good novels, or even ewok lore to share, were
better prepared than we were. Ken "does" art while I dabble in it, so it was fun to talk to him about what "real artists" do.

We liked the movie. I am a big Yoda fan, but I think that's just saying I'm a typical geek. Natalie Portman was a bit of a pleasurable juxtaposition for me, because the last time I saw her she was Susan Sarandon's sensible daughter in that movie about moving to LA in the 60s to try to escape the humdrum humdrumness of existence (obviously, a dream shared by nobody who has been stuck in traffic on the 101 Freeway--"Ventura Highway in the sunshine", bumper to bumper, without cessation--the days are indeed longer, and I was gonna go,I know....).

We all had a wonderful dinner at Blue Mesa Grill, where they always seat us immediately, bring us elaborate and more than adequate helpings of southwestern cuisine, serve those sweet potato chips with the corn tortilla chips, and make my wife's margarita by hand without a mix. Then we headed home. My wife settled into "Endless Summer", the charming surfing movie on ESPN, our friends and their daughter settled in for rest, but I felt that need for a quiet moment outdoors.

I headed off, my cheap French binoculars in tow, to Glendover Park, which is quickly becoming a sort of outdoors home for me. I sang to myself an old Bill Nelson song, with the line "and in the back row of the Empire/she dreams she hears the gasworks band". Ten
kids were playing American football in the near-dark on the field usually used for kiddie soccer. I don't think they could see the ball, but it didn't matter. I passed by them into the tiny mini-grove of trees, which apparently predates the surrounding housing.
Lightning bugs (my CA friends remind me that non-southerners call them "fireflies") lit up the night everywhere, like little silent fireworks. The show was not for me, but I still felt I had a front row seat. When I came upon the pond, frogsong erupted from it,
all fairly high pitches, on my left and on my right. It was always staccato, now a somewhat industrial sound, then a somewhat chorale sound. I circled the pond, noting the single swift flying overhead. I saw the planet Venus and the planet Saturn and tried to examine them through the binoculars, but I think that the half-moon Venus and the hint of rings around Saturn were
a figment of my imagination rather than a figment of the lens resolution. For the first time, I longed for the reflecting telescope that I gave two years ago to Glendale College when I realized I was using it but a time or two a year, when it deserved weekly use. I got that telescope from a man who lived in the Los Angeles hills, and who hinted to me that he intended to use the proceeds for some religious observance for a California based sect known for its predilection for expensive religious observances. I did not really ask him outright why he would sell this telescope through which he could show me nebulae at the center of God's creation in the name of religion, though. To ask a man why he is really selling his telescope is something akin to asking Roy Rogers why he is selling Trigger.

Well, my cheap French binoculars do not qualify as Trigger or Buttercup, and are mainly used to look at butterflies and distant wildflowers, for which they are ideal. Still, I tried to see distant planets with them, as well as two airliners. I thought about all the air miles I fly over suburban lights like the lights of my neighborhood,and imagined cheap French binoculars trained on my plane, and somehow felt connected with all that. As I walked back home, though, I saw the moon, all orange, just above the horizon. I tried to remember if orange moons in Spring have a name like Hunter's or Harvest, but felt stymied because I convinced myself that both those names are Autumn names. The binoculars showed me the craters, and I tried to imagine what shape the craters most resembled, but abandoned the effort when I realized that they most resemble craters, and then I half-formed a prayer, but the prayer faded away into the craters, and whatever invocation the moment caused was lost in that very same moment.

When I got home after my brief walk, the fellows on "Endless Summer" had found the "perfect pipe" in Cape St. Francis, South Africa. Tomorrow Ken and I will do toddler care, to facilitate a shopping trip. I was born to look at the moon through cheap French binoculars and to play with toddlers.
  • Current Music
    Be Bop Deluxe, "Mill Street Junction"