Concentrate on the four dots in the middle of the picture for about 30 seconds. Then close your eyes and tilt your head back. Keep them closed, and you will see a circle of light with Jesus in it!

Music Video of the Week: The Sensational Alex Harvey Band

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band


2009 PHS High School Talent Show

The high school talent show was yesterday afternoon, and, as is always the case, Bryan has been gung-ho about performing ever since the date was announced. He had worked up a very decent version of a song by The Fray (after a tedious process of whittling down potential songs), then was asked to sing in a budding rock band with his friends. Of course, he was extremely excited about doing that, which was something completely different than what he usually does. He's been one of the more popular acts at these talent shows, ever since he was in the 7th or 8th grade, so maybe that contributed to the organizers decision to let him perform both the solo bit as well as the rock band.

The talent show could best be described with one word...LONG. Almost unbearably long. At least it seemed that way...in actuality it was the same length as they usually are, but time just dragged on and on as "singer" after "singer" took their place on the stage.

I place the word "singer" in parentheses because of the lot there was not a single one who could actually sing. Some were more painful to listen to than others, but nary a one could carry a tune. It was made even worse by the fact that practically none of them used a karaoke track (I don't know that ANY did). The thing to do, apparently, was to just sing along with the song on the CD. To stand perfectly still and try to remember the words. All of which was made even worse by the fact that Miley Cyrus is so popular amongst the participants.

But even that would have been a little more tolerable if not for the AWFUL sound system in the auditorium. "Awful" does not even begin to describe it. There was absolutely no bottom end...or middle end, either, for that matter. The high end was piercing and so loud it actually made my ears ring (more than they usually do). They've got a couple of speakers in the foyer which, I assume, are meant to be of service to those who aren't lucky enough to find a seat in the auditorium proper. But they weren't working...most of the time...meaning that it sounded like there was a short in the wires leading from the mixing board to the speakers. The thing is, they actually had a good sound, well-rounded, the entire spectrum of recordable sound represented well, at least to the point where it is possible with speakers of that size. From where I sat it almost made the front speakers sound okay, filling in the sonic blanks. But they cut out so much (like every couple of seconds) that it ruined the possibility of saving the overall sound. This had to be obvious to everyone, most of all the person behind the board. All she would have had to do to end the situation is unplug a cord. Maybe she didn't know which cord to unplug, because it never happened. This only happened during the last 15-30 minutes of the show...I have to wonder what went wrong and why.

As for the show...it was fairly typical. A few juvenile comedy skits, the afore mentioned cavalcade of "singers", a cheerleader routine, and a couple of "dance numbers", one of which was so terrible that the MC said, "At least they didn't sing".

Of course I thought Bryan's solo song was, by far, the outstanding performance. Though I am obviously biased I think if you asked the teachers and most of the high school students they would have to agree. He brings a level of talent and even professionalism to the stage that none of the others would even dare to attempt. That's not meant as a swipe at any of the other participants, but Bryan takes it a lot more seriously than they do. That's just the kind of kid he is...he takes anything he cares about seriously.

But there were a couple of very good acts. The best of that lot was a young black kid (couldn't have been older than 10 or 11) who did a PERFECT imitation of the dance that Michael Jackson famous, complete with multiple moonwalks, and with a few cartwheels and a little hip hop technique thrown into the mix. For some reason he didn't use any music, so I'm thinking the thing was a spur-of-the-moment affair. Be that as it may, I bet his popularity level jumped by a few degrees when it was over.

There was a girl with a basketball dribbling routine, and she was actually very good. She didn't seem to enjoy being on stage in front of all those people, but she had a lot of confidence in her talent. It went on a little too long taking into consideration the relative lack of variety in her "tricks". But it was still impressive.

The "big finish" was the band that Bryan sang with (he's not sure if he's the permanent singer or if they just wanted him for the show...oddly, I don't think he's too concerned about it). They go by the name Famous Last Words. Not too crazy about the name, but that's what it was before Bryan got involved. They had a stage set up behind the back curtain with the whole set-up...monitors and stage lights, the drummer wearing face paint, the bass player sporting a dopey old fashioned hat (which, no doubt, he thought was cool as hell), and amplifiers turned up real, real loud. As is the trend these days, I'm sure, they played very aggressive hard rock...this is why it was so bizarre to me, because Bryan is not typically like that (at least not that I know, but then again, what DO parents know, eh?). He did a very good job, nevertheless, even more impressive when you take into account his limited exposure to "live" rock music (meaning that he doesn't really like to watch rock bands on tv or even music videos...I don't think he had a real template to work within).

All in all, they were pretty doggone good, especially when you consider their ages. That being said, if they decide to go on without Bryan I would be perfectly happy to never hear them again. Their guitar player closed the talent show with one of the longest, most excruciating Van Halen wannabe solos I've ever had the pleasure of walking out on halfway through. If there's one thing worse than some show-off noodling excessively it's a show-off excessively noodling in front of a crowd of people convinced that they are impressed with him (or that they should be). I don't know if any of the unlucky spectators were of the same mind, but I have no tolerance for it and was ecstatic that it was the last act.

And so, another high school talent show goes down in the history books. Who can tell what will be remembered and what will be forgotten? It can only be hoped that in the future some kind of audition process will be implemented.


The Blasters: I'm Shakin'

I couldn't wait for the Music Video of the Week of Wednesday...had to post it now. Loved the album this was from back in 1981. This song was my favorite of the lot (though "American Music" is pretty good, too. Don't know why I didn't keep up with the band.



I haven't had much at all to report on the "health issues" I've been chronicling over the past 2 1/2 months. Which is a good thing. There were a couple of instances when I felt a bit of discomfort in the region of the heart, but nothing to be alarmed about. So I don't guess there's much point to any further updates...

As a result of the above mentioned health problems I have been more or less faithful to a non-fat diet that limits my fat intake to 20 grams. As a result it has become necessary to develop an appreciation of chicken. This has not been easy for me. I never ate chicken before all this...at least not since I was young. I can't say I've succeeded in this endeavour, but there are a few chicken-based dishes that I don't mind...most of which are part of Lean Cuisine menu. Their sweet and sour chicken isn't too bad, and they've got some other oriental style dish, the name of which escapes me. It's the better of the two. Chicken parmesian is okay, too. Outside of the "TV Dinner" line-up: barbeque chicken is okay. I don't mind Shake 'n' Bake or stir fry. And I really kinda like Subway's buffalo chicken sandwich.

It's amazing how I don't go crazy when I consider just how boring my life is. The only thing that keeps me from it is music...opera and classical in particular these days. Immersed in Wagner and Mahler.

Took the wife to the casino a few days ago. I'm sure she had fun, but we walked out of that place $75 poorer.

I'm thinking about renting "Drag Me to Hell" tonight. Generally I avoid "horror movies", but this one actually got some good reviews. So I'm interested to see what sets it apart from every other shitty scary movie. Same reason I sort of want to see "Paranormal Activity". No less a critic than Peter Travers said it was half decent...

I've cut my "message board posting" down to practically none. It's funny...that used to be one of my favorite things to do on the Internet, and now I could care less. What DO I like to do on the Internet these days? Not too much. I play Facebook Farkle quite a bit. Do a little Stumbling, though I don't light on any site for very long. I still watch the streaming movies on Netflix, and have seen some really good stuff. "Jesus Camp", for instance, a documentary that reminded me of why I walked away from the whole ridiculous phenomenon known as mainstream evangelical Christianity. Then there was "My Little Chickadee", the W.C. Fields/Mae West comic classic. What a pair! I can't remember laughing so much at a movie in a long time. Fields definitely deserves his exalted position in the pantheon of comedic geniuses and I gained an entirely new appreciation of Mae West's bawdy schtick. Also wading through the first few seasons of the British comedy series "Waiting for God". I don't know why I hate American television sitcoms but really enjoy the Brit counterparts.

I've got a "facebook friend" whose pretty deep into his religion (which just happens to be the Evangelical Christian hoo-hah I fled some time ago)...he made a post not too long ago saying that he'd made a commitment to reading the entire bible in a month. I know this guy well enough to be able to tell you that such a resolution will be easilly achieved. He has been a voracious reader since we went to elementary school together.I have no doubt that he reads at least 10 books per month. A very intelligent man, that's for sure (even if I do disagree with his right wing conservative political views). He's probably read the bible, in it's various translations, at least once a year for the last 30. Me? I've read it through two or three times. But even if I hadn't abandoned the literal view of scripture I don't know that I'd want to read it again. So I decided that, instead, I would attempt to read "The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces" in the next year. A small bit of mathematical computation revealed that the project would be do-able with a commitment of only 8 pages per day. It's a THICK book, actually LONGER than the bible...the kind of stuff I always wanted to read but was way too intimidated to embark upon. But if I could do it with "the word of god" I can surely do the same with this Anthology. If I accomplish it I have another book of western literature I may tackle next. It's even longer that the one I'm reading now. I thought it was kind of ironic, though, that I didn't want to read the bible again, yet the first 65 pages of the "World Masterpieces" is...you guessed it...from the bible. I'm done with that now, though, and have begun Homer's "Iliad".


I got the test results from my cardiologist yesterday.

Sorry I could not reach you by phone with the results of your echocardiogram and your stress test. The stress test was normal and shows that your pumping function is normal at 55%. The echo (ultrasound) showed that the bottom of your heart is mildly enlarged and so are the top two chambers of your heart. It also shows insignificant fluid around your heart. At this time, there is nothing different to do for your heart.

Dr. ********** recommends that if your chest pain continues, you need to call us so we can look for other causes, such as doing a CT of your chest to look at the aorta. You would need a blood test first, called a D-dimer, to help us know if we need to also look for any blood clots in your lungs at the same time.

So, I'm not so sure what to think about that. For the most part it sounds quite optimistic. But then there is that bit about the enlargement of the bottom of my heart as well as the top two chambers. And the insignificant fluid---how much should I worry about that? I haven't had any chest pain at all since the night I went to the ER a couple of months ago, so I don't understand what they mean by "if your chest pain CONTINUES". Obviously I'm hoping it doesn't return...I'm not up for another episode like the one that brought me to this situation...the idea of it being a "continuing" thing is not one I want to consider.