What You Will

Another Burma Shave billboard on the information superhighway. Random thoughts about arts, faith, culture, music, language, literature, and the shortcomings of the Hegelian dialectic. (OK, just kidding about that last bit.)

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Location: Edmonds, Washington, United States

I wonder what goes in this space?


Parting the Waters

Wondering why I haven't blogged much? Here's what I've been up to.

Planning all this has been a lot of work, but it should be worth it. I hope you can come to the show.


I didn't know they could do that

I get my share of scam and "phish" e-mail, but here's one that made me take notice. It's a variation on the ol' Nigerian scam, which has been around since before there was an Internet:


It is with trust and believe that I write to you, although I don't know you neither have I seen you before, but my confidence was reposed On you. I am Barrister Ahmed Yusuf, a personal Attorney to Mr.Hesham Sabry, and a National of your Country. He was also a Contractor with one of the Government Prostates, ...
Gee, and I thought things were bad when Caligula made his horse a senator.


The Gate swings shut

I'm glad I went to see the great Clarence Gatemouth Brown when I did. He must have been about 70 years old at the time. Even then, though he was still at the height of his dazzling instrumental skills, he had ceased to innovate — he was essentially making the same record over and over, but what a record it was. He also wasn't taking chances — at the show I saw, he played his current record note for note. But what notes they were.

Now he's gone, his death hastened if not caused by Hurricane Katrina — one of the few forces in nature that could match his intensity. Lung cancer, emphysema, and heart disease had slowed Gate, but they couldn't stop him — he'd tow his oxygen tank right up on stage and play anyway. But the hurricane took everything he had: destroyed almost all his instruments, his house, and his whole town. Gate escaped to Texas with his beloved Gibson Firebird before the flooding hit, but he left his heart in Louisiana. So long, man, and I hope they have some horns and a good rhythm section wherever you end up.

P.S. Look up Vassar Clements for me and play another duet.


Rest in peace, Dad

I blogged the deaths of Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Vassar Clements, and my cat.

But this one's a little harder: my dad. Tough for me to get my head around it. I can tell you how those other deaths make me feel. When it comes to Dad, those feelings are a bit more mixed ... maybe even downright conflicted. It was a long decline and I'm glad he's finally out of pain. On the other hand, our relationship was strained and awkward, even though it had gone from adversarial to cordial. I did reach a point in my own mind where I forgave him of everything I'd held against him. But somehow I never got around to writing the card or making the phone call to tell him about it. I also deeply regret that I didn't take my son to Arizona to meet his grandpa until it was too late.

Here are the cold hard facts:
Stanley Deane Stillion, formerly of Flagstaff, died Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005, in Phoenix. He was 70.

He was born March 7, 1935, in McPherson, Kan. to Paris Hugh and Margaret (Anderson) Stillion.

Mr. Stillion was a typographer and owned his own business. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Mr. Stillion is survived by his wife, Emily Ellen Stillion; their children, Melinda Roell (Craig), Martin Stillion (Sarah), Michele Shepherd (Richard), Erin Stillion (Stella) and John Stillion; brothers and sisters Emily Anne Stillion, Stephen Stillion, Marshall Stillion and James Stillion; and seven grandchildren.

Commemoration services will be Saturday at 1 p.m. at First Church of The Nazarene in Prescott, with visitation one hour prior to the service. Military honors will be provided by the American Legion Post No. 6, Prescott.

The family suggests memorials be sent to: Prison Fellowship Ministry, P.O. Box 1550, Merrifield, Va., 22116-1550; or Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, 6401 The Paseo, Kansas City, MO 64131.

Arrangements are by Sunrise Funeral Home and Crematory in Prescott Valley.
Anyway, kids, parents can be difficult, but that's no reason to hold out on them. Although Dad and I parted on good terms, I never said some of the things I wanted to say or should have said. Maybe someone out there can learn from my mistake.

THIS is the greatest painting in Britain?

The National Gallery in London recently took a poll on "The Greatest Painting in Britain," and here's the winner: The Fighting Temeraire by
J. M. W. Turner.

Frankly, I don't get it. I mean, sure, it's an important, symbolic work fraught with melancholy meaning for the British. Painted in 1838, it depicts an old tall-masted gunship being towed up the Thames for demolition. And although Britain at the time was still the world's dominant superpower, that dominance had been shaken by the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Perhaps Turner was looking ahead, and the sun on the right is finally setting on the British Empire, not just on the scene at hand. But does all that significance mean that this rather dingy composition is a greater painting than, say, Van Gogh's Sunflowers or Caravaggio's Supper at Emmaus, both of which were also nominated?

Count me as one who doesn't think so. But then, I'm not British.