Friday, June 30, 2006

This Is Why Willie and Waylon Sing That Song

Cowboy Muley, about one year old. I hadn't started dipping snuff yet, but I could sure hogtie a mean diaper.

Monday, June 26, 2006

A Smattering of Quotes

I've been sort of an ADHD kinda guy lately when it comes to my reading -- haphazardly looking through all sorts of volumes and pulling out items to make a very disparate gumbo that has probably not enlightened me much, but has left me with a few tasty quotes to share.


I've seen a lot of references to the French writer-philosopher Jacques Barzun lately in books of conservative thought, and I finally decided to check out a book of his essays, The Culture We Deserve, to see what he's made of. This was a quote from an essay titled "Exeunt the Humanities." It deals with something I see more and more of these days -- people devoting enormous amounts of time becoming almost obsessive experts on narrow little topics and hobbies, while remaining ignorant of a lot of seemingly "big picture" things in the world around them.
"The danger is that we shall become a nation of pedants. I use the word literally and democratically to refer to the millions of people who are moved by a certain kind of passion in their pastimes as well as in their vocations. In both parts of their lives this passion comes out in shoptalk. I have in mind both the bird watchers and nature lovers: the young people who collect records and follow the lives of pop singers and movie stars; I mean the sort of knowledge possessed by "buffs" and "fans" of all species -- the baseball addicts and opera goers, the devotees of railroad trains and the collectors of objects, from first editions to netsuke. They are pedants not just because they know and recite an enormous quantity of facts -- if a school required them to learn as much they would scream against tyranny. It is not the extent of their information that appalls; it is the absence of any reflection upon it, any sense of relation between it and them and the world. Nothing is brought in from outside for contrast or comparison; no perspective is gained from the top of their monstrous factual pile; no generalities emerge to lighten the sameness of their endeavor."

--Jacques Barzun

If I am in danger of becoming one such obsessive pedant, it might be due to buying and collecting far too many old books. Here's another (more positive) way I found to look at my bibliophilia.
"Collecting books is like collecting other people's minds, like having people on the shelves -- only, you can just put them away when you want to."

--John Prizeman

There's probably as many definitions of creativity as there are people who claim to have that elusive gift in spades. Here's one description of what a creative person should look like that I found interesting.
"Creative people: 1, have their energy field accessible; 2, have the ability to tap and release unconscious and preconscious thought; 3, are able to withstand being thought of as abnormal or eccentric; 4, are more sensitive; 5, have a richer fantasy life and greater involvement in daydreaming; 6, are enthusiastic and impulsive; 7, show signs of synaesthesia (e.g., tasting color, seeing sound, hearing smells, etc.); 8, show different brain wave patterns than the less creative, especially during creative activity; 9, when confronted with novelty of design, music, or ideas, they get excitied and involved (less creative people get suspicious and hostile); 10, when given a new solution to a problem, they get enthused, suggest other ideas, overlook details and problems (less creative students analyze the defects rather than explore potentials."

--E. Paul Torrence and Laura K. Hall, Journal of Creative Behavior, 1980.

I must admit that in my focused daily trek to check off my "to do" list, too often I end up walking with my eyes watching my feet, intent on getting from point A to point B, and fail to see the divine light Thomas Merton talks about here.
"Life is this simple: we are living in a world that is absolutely transparent, and God is shining through it all the time. This is not just a fable or a nice story. It is true. If we abandon ourselves to God and forget ourselves, we see it sometimes, and we see it maybe frequently. God shows Himself everywhere, in everything -- in people and in things and in nature and in events...we cannot be without Him. It's impossible. The only thing is, we don't see it."

--Thomas Merton, 20th century Catholic monk

Besides not making enough time for God, I find it difficult to make as much time as I'd like to spend enriching my mind. As I plan to cut my overgrown back yard this week, I ponder this quote and wonder if its author managed to sell it to his wife.
"A man who wants time to read and write must let the grass grow long."

--Sloan Wilson

Maybe all I really need to do is listen to this next bit of wisdom.
"I think people don't place a high enough value on how much they are nurtured by doing whatever it is that totally absorbs them."

--Jean Shinoda Bolen

I love the NIV translation of the Bible, but I've recently done a little reading in the English Standard Version (ESV) translation, and have become a fan of some of its simple but eloquent prose. Here's a familiar verse in the ESV that I think sums up a Christian's marching orders quite well.
"Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life."

--Philippians 2:14-16 (ESV)

This is one of the best definitions of faith I've come across.
"Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation."

--Elton Trueblood, Puritan minister

Now for some fun quotes to wrap things up. First, who do you think was the most famous person in this encounter?
"I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph."

--Shirley Temple

Have you read or heard anything about Joe Simpson, the stage father of singer Jessica Simpson? Some people have said Jessica's dad is downright creepy, and this quote from Dad about his famous daughter', assets...might be one reason they think that.
"She just is sexy. If you put her in a T-shirt or you put her in a bustier, she's sexy in both. She's got double D's! You can't cover those suckers up!"

--Joe Simpson, on daughter Jessica

Finally, you might not know that when country singer Willie Nelson was starting his career in the 1950s, he worked for a time as a country DJ at station KCNC in Fort Worth. Here's how Willie opened his radio show back then. I wish I could have heard this live coming over the car speakers at the drive-in.
"This is your ol' cotton pickin', snuff dippin', tobacco chewin', coffee pot dodgin', dumplin' eatin', frog giggin' hillbilly."

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

No, I'm Not Dead, Or Even Rotting

I've just been away from the computer for awhile -- for a week, due to vacation, then since Monday snowed under with all the stuff you have to do at home and work when you commit the rash act of taking a week off from the rat race. I will try to get a decent post in here soon.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Random Observations and Trivial Events


I guess it's a sign of how little time I've been able to devote to this blog in the last few months, but my one-year blogging anniversary came and went and I didn't even notice it. I knew it was sometime in May (May 10), but by the time I checked for the date in late May it was too late. And here I am waiting until early June to even mention it.

Like most people, I didn't have much idea of what I was getting into when I started blogging. I started hot and heavy, writing at least one post a day for the first two or three months, then slowly began to slack off. Around Christmas 2005 I abruptly quit altogether for awhile, then slowly got back into it on a "when time is available" basis, which is I guess where I still am.

Despite some frustrations, I'm glad I began blogging. I've met some of the nicest, funniest, smartest and most interesting people. I run into a few wackos along the way as well, but that happens just about anywhere these days.


It just gets earlier and earlier. I was at Wal-Mart this evening and notice that they are already selling calendars for 2007. Last year it seemed that the new calendars came out around Independence Day, but now they're not even waiting until the present year is half over.


We ate lunch at a Chinese restaurant today, and once again, all of the "fortunes" contained in the fortune cookies were lame as could be. They really aren't even fortunes, for one thing -- more like maxims or proverbs. "You'll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar," "When opportunity knocks, make sure you're listening," gems like that. They apparently don't have the guts anymore to say things like "You will meet a dark and handsome stranger," or "You will come into a lot of money soon." Besides seeing some honest-to-goodness positive predictions thrown in, I'd really like to see some dramatic "mis"-fortunes thrown in as well, such as:

"You will soon lose bladder control"

"An expensive part on your car will malfunction by the end of the month"

"The meat you just ate was not quite cooked thoroughly"


"Your spouse is having an affair. Check their cell phone records"


I got to thinking the other day how wonderful movie trailers are. They take a two-hour movie, and skillfully condense the parts of most interest, bad and good, tragic and humorous, into a fast-paced 90-second production. A skillful editor can take a terrible, boring movie, pick out the few good parts, and make a trailer that will convince you you want to see the thing.

Why can't everyone on the planet have their own trailer? This would take your life, including your character traits, hobbies, interests and quirks, and do a 90-second overview that would be available for viewing by anyone else on the planet. Anytime you met someone new -- in church, at school, on the dating scene -- you could simply view their trailer soon afterward and get the story of their life in a dramatic, exciting yet condensed form. Next time you met them, you'd be better prepared, see? Anyone interested?