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The raving thoughts of a misanthropic academic

December 31, 2008

New Year 2009

New Year 2009 has already arrived in some quarter of the world. Given the tumultuous annum that has passed, it is little wonder that most revelers are apt to bid it good riddance.

[Link]

Pax Plena regulars will note that I am normally one to make a few New Year's resolutions, and based upon my list from January 2008, I am glad to report that I kept the bulk of them.  On the other hand, the list was so abstract in retrospect, that it would have been difficult not to keep at least some of them. I hope to make this year's list more concrete.

Alas, the list is a still a work in progress.  In fact, I may put its release on hold until tomorrow when I have things better sorted out.  For those in a similar fix, it may be helpful to consider a few suggestions from Uncle Sam

After all, we have less than three weeks before the social engineers take charge, and make the government suggestions mandatory.

But between now and midnight, whatever your time zone, please enjoy the rendition of Auld Lang Syne from 'LostmyChops.' For those interested in a brief history of the song, see this column from the Trinidad & Tobago Express.

And as always, from Pax Plena to you, Happy New Year.

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December 23, 2008

Song of the Week: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

The phenomenon of winter, unknown to me in Tucson, has made an important, unexpected appearance late in the year 2008. My vacation in the Midwest hamlet of Bloomington, IN has proven to be uninoculated from the disease.

This afternoon, my flight to Oklahoma City (via St. Louis) was scheduled to depart from Indianapolis, IN early this evening. Bloomington, IN where I have been on holiday is some 45 miles due south of Indy. As my trusty navigator guided us on to Bloomington's I-37, we were greeted by a complete traffic standstill.

The roads were so icy, not even the sand trucks could pass.

Appraently, this is why:

[Link]

The good news is that I am re-scheduled to depart tomorrow afternoon- God willing. And, of course, there are very few places in America that I would prefer being 'wintered in' at the moment than Bloomington, IN. I have had a terrific trip.

Suffice it to say, the Song of the Week from Vincente Minnelli's 1944 classic, "Meet Me in St. Louis" hits close to home on a variety of levels. Naturally, Judy Garland's haunting version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is easily the best. I remain hopeful that I will be able to share a Christmas post with you from my Oklahoma home. But until then, please enjoy this Pax Plena Song of the Week.

And in case I should not make it back, do have a Merry Christmas!

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November 24, 2008

Song of the Week: Chicken Fried

Funny how time flies. On this auspicious day from yesteryear, the Pax Plena song of the week speaks to the some of the best that life has to offer. It reminds us to never take life for granted, and to always enjoy the little things.

Already a hit single from one of country music's newest and hottest bands, Chicken Fried by the Zac Brown Band lauds the little things. Cold beer on a Friday night, a sunrise, and pecan pie all rank high on the list.

I suppose there is no mystery to the song, but it takes me back to a time in life when everything was new, exciting, and wonderful. For us nostalgic sorts, it also calls to mind what might have been. But more than this it speaks to life's simple pleasures, and the need to appreciate it all.



Chicken Fried
by The Zac Brown Band

You know I like my chicken fried
A cold beer on a Friday night
A pair of jeans that fit just right
And the radio up

Well I`ve seen the sunrise
See the love in my woman`s eyes
Feel the touch of a precious child
And know a mother`s love

Well I was raised up beneath the shade of a Georgia pine
And that`s home you know
Sweet tea pecan pie and homemade wine
Where the peaches grow
And my house it`s not much to talk about
But it`s filled with love that`s grown in southern ground

And a little bit of chicken fried
Cold beer on a Friday night
A pair of jeans that fit just right
And the radio up
Well I`ve seen the sunrise
See the love in my woman`s eyes
Feel the touch of a precious child
And know a mother`s love

And it's funny how it`s the simple things in life that mean the most
Not where you live, what you drive, or the price tag on your clothes
There`s no dollar sign on a piece of mind this I`ve come to know
So if you agree have a drink with me
Raise you glasses for a toast

To a little bit of chicken fried
Cold beer on a Friday night
A pair of jeans that fit just right
And the radio up
Well I`ve seen the sunrise
See the love in my woman`s eyes
Feel the touch of a precious child
And know a mother`s love

I thank god for my life
And for the stars and stripes
May freedom forever fly, let it ring
Salute the ones who died
And the ones that give their lives, so we don`t have to sacrifice
All the things we love

Like our chicken fried
Cold beer on a Friday night
A pair of jeans that fit just right
And the radio up
Well I`ve seen the sunrise
See the love in my woman`s eyes
Feel the touch of a precious child
And know a mother`s love

You know I like my chicken fried
Cold beer on a Friday night
A pair of jeans that fit just right
And the radio up
Well I`ve seen the sunrise
See the love in my woman`s eyes
Feel the touch of a precious child
And know a mother`s love
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October 25, 2008

Song of the week: Mr. Booze

Watch the video below, and you will see that the Pax Plena song of the week pretty much sums up our Christian Legal Society organization in six minutes.

Just kidding. 

But it does mark the denouement of the Rat Pack, Bing Crosby, and arguably the golden era of American music.

Taken from the 1964 hit film Robin and the 7 Hoods, Mr. Booze features the talent of Bing Crosby, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra. The group appears in the film as a gaggle of South Chicago racketeers (not unlike Barack Obama) who are trying to prevent muscle man Peter Falk (yes, that Peter Falk) from invading their turf during Prohibition.

The film was released to mix reviews, although it earned Academy Award nominations for Best Music Song and Best Music Score. But in recent years, the film has recovered its artistic acclaim for its contribution to music history, and its special place as Bing Crosby's last musical role.

The song itself is a hilarious spoof of a 1920s era revival meeting; replete with testifying sinners, a sanctimonious minister (Bing Crosby), and a church full of hand-waving, tambourine-playing congregants. The dust Bing slaps off the Bible at the beginning of the clip is priceless. Take care to listen to the low note sung around the 6:00 mark.

The video of the performance appears below. Lyrics follow after the jump. Enjoy!



Mister Booze
Bing Crosby 

Booze, Mister Booze (Mister Booze), Mister Booze
Mister B double O, Z Eeee, (That sure spells booze),
You will wind up wearing tattered shoes if you mess with Mister Booze.
(Don't mess with Mister Booze, don't mess with Mister Booze.)

Don't mess with B, double o, Z, E, if you've been so sick you thought you'd died. You'll feel better once you testify.(Testify, Testify)

[I want to testify, I want to testify]
Well, then cleanse yourself, my child, cleanse yourself. Brothers and sisters, I happen to know this poor unfortunate soul, and the fight she is waging against sin. That old devil hooch has turned her into the unsightly person you see before you. Give us your testimony, my child.
[Well, it all began with Daddy] (Yeah?)
[He said drink helped him stay alive] (Yeah?)
[Do you know how old he was when he died?] (No)
[He was only twenty-five] (No! No!)
[That's why I gotta come clean] (why?)
[Because I'm already seventeen]

Who's to blame? (Who's to blame?) What his name?
(We know his name.  His name is)
Mister Booze, Mister Booze, Mister B, double O, Z, E,
Don't ever choose, any game you play with him, you lose.

If your head feels like it's ten foot wide, You'll feel better once you testify

(testify, testify, testify)

[I want to testify, You got to let me come testify!]
Well, come forward, dear brother, come forward.You see here, ladies and gentlemen, a man who just last year was the United States Olympic heavyweight wrestling champion. Now here he is, just a shadow of his former self, wasted in health, ravaged by sin. Give us your testimony, dear brother.

[I was cruel and I was mean] (He was mean!)
[I was a pickpocket!] (A no-good pickpocket!)
[And then sin got me] Gin got him...oh, a little bit of that too.
[Sin and Gin got me in its clutches, and that's why I need forgiving] (Why?)
['Cause now my hands shake so much, Reverend, I can't even make a living] (Get out!)
That's a shame! (What a shame!)
Who's to blame? (Who's to blame? His name is)
Mister Booze, Mister Booze, Mister B, double O, Z., E. (You must refuse!)

[I wanna testify!]
You don't have to. [Oh, but I wanna!] But you don't have to.
(Oh let him testify.)
Very well, then let us lead you on the path of righteousness. Not long ago, brothers and sisters,
This helpless soul was the foremost brain surgeon in this grand and glorious country. Success was smiling down upon him. Well, go ahead and tell us your story, oh downtrodden one.
[I use spirits for medicinal purposes only] (Yeah)
[I manufactured it for medicinal purposes only.] (yeah?)
[Then I started drinking what I manufactured and I drank myself out of a hell of a business for medicinal purposes only.] (That's right!)

Alcohol makes a big man small and can lead to life of crime.

Demon rum makes a gent a bum, and you cash in before your time.

Bootleg gin puts you in a spin till you don't even know your name.

You're a public disgrace, flat on your face, and there's only one guy to blame.

(Oh Mister Booze, Mister Booze, Mister B, double O, Z, E, don't ever choose)
(Don't you wind up swearing platitudes if you're mad with Mister Booze)
(Don't mess, mess with Mr. Booze.)

Don't mess with B, double O. Z, E, cause that spells booze. And you gotta lose with Mi-ister Booze. 

(Oh Yeah).
Don't mess around with Mister Booze.

(Don't with Mister Booze, Don't with Mister Booze.)
(What's his name now, Oh Mister Booze),
(Don't mess with Mister Booze), Oh Mister Booze, (Don't mess with Mister Booze.)
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October 1, 2008

Song of the Week: Ashokan Farewell

With the throes of 2L well upon me, I have scarce had time to listen to my iPod at all, let alone branch out to pass along new music recommendations. But this Pax Plena Song of the Week falls under the increasingly rare category of new music discoveries made by yours truly.

Composed by American folks musician Jay Ungar, and performed by Scottish Violinist Aly Bain, Ashokan Farewell made its debut on to the American music scene during the early 1990s in a PBS Mini-series called The Civil War. The song is written in the style of a Scottish air so it boasts a breezy, wistful melody that make it both enchanting and soaring at the same time. Listening to the piece, it is not difficult to imagine an evening stroll along the banks of the Ashokan Reservoir in upstate NY (the song's namesake), or a foggy overlook from the Scottish Highlands.

The story of the song is also intriguing. In a lengthy back and forth on his personal website, composer Jay Ungar describes the emotion he felt upon the song's completion:
I composed Ashokan Farewell in 1982 shortly after our Fiddle & Dance Camps had come to an end for the season. I was feeling a great sense of loss and longing for the music, the dancing and the community of people that had developed at Ashokan that summer. The transition from living at a secluded woodland camp with a small group of people who needed little excuse to celebrate the joy of living, back to life as usual, with traffic, newscasts, telephones and impersonal relationships, had been difficult. By the time the tune took form, I was in tears. I kept it to myself for months, unable to fully understand the emotions that welled up whenever I played it. I had no idea that this simple tune could effect others in the same way.

[Link]
It is exactly this sense of melancholy that makes the song so powerful. Ungar describes his loss of community at the summer's conclusion, but it is easy to substitute this with a personal sense of plaintiveness. Even while Jay mourns the passing of summer, one could readily long for a lost love, a missed opportunity, or a change of pace all the same. Simply put, the emotions conjured by the music may be person specific, but the nature of the music itself is universal.  Given the change invariably brought about through the on set of fall (See my thoughts on fall and change here, here, here, and here), I felt it was a timely selection. 


In all, it is an absolutely stunning piece, and well-deserving of the title Pax Plena Song of the Week. A video of Ungar and Bain performing the song appears below as filmed in the Transatlantic Sessions by the BBC. Enjoy!

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August 1, 2008

Song of the Week: Oklahoma

In a few hours, I will begin a long overdue trip to my much beloved home on the rolling plains. To mark the occasion, the Pax Plena song of the week is none other than Rodgers & Hammerstein's classic show tune Oklahoma!

Oddly, one of my favorite performances of the musical took place at the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts- a veritable mecca of culture nestled just outside of Washington, D.C. The cast was full of bright, young actors who struggled as best they could to capture an Oklahoma accent. It was a bit too muggy to watch a musical in the summer, as I recall, but the closing chorus makes every performance worth while.

Of course, no performance of Oklahoma! is more memorable than the one preformed by the Walters High School Varsity Choir during my sophomore year. A fun fact for the Pax Plena faithful- yours truly sang baritone throughout my high school days, and played the small role of Judge Andrew Carnes in said production.

Perhaps law school was always in the cards after all.

Given my exodus from the desert, blogging will be light over the course of the next few days. I will do my best to post as time allows. In the interim, please enjoy the Pax Plena song of the week, and the coolest State Song in land, Oklahoma!




Oklahoma!
By Rodgers & Hammerstein

Eller:
They couldn't pick a better time as that in life

Andrew:
It ain't too early and it ain't too late

Laurey:
Startin' as a farmer with a brand new wife

Curley:
Soon'll be livin' in a brand new state

Company:
Brand new state!
Brand new state, gonna treat you great!
Gonna give you barley, carrots and pertaters,
Pasture fer the cattle,
Spinach and termayters!
Flowers on the prarie where the June bugs zoom,
Plen'y of air and plen'y of room,
Plen'y of room to swing a rope!
Plen'y of heart and plen'y of hope.

Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain
And the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet
When the wind comes right behind the rain.
Oklahoma, Ev'ry night my honey lamb and I
Sit alone and talk and watch a hawk
Makin' lazy circles in the sky.

We know we belong to the land
And the land we belong to is grand!
And when we say
Yeeow! Ayipioeeay!
We're only sayin'
You're doin' fine, Oklahoma!
Oklahoma O.K.

Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain
And the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet
When the wind comes right behind the rain.
Oklahoma, Ev'ry night my honey lamb and I
Sit alone and talk and watch a hawk
Makin' lazy circles in the sky.

We know we belong to the land
And the land we belong to is grand!
And when we say
Yeeow! Ayipioeeay!
We're only sayin'
You're doin' fine, Oklahoma!
Oklahoma O.K.

Okla-okla-Okla-Okla-Okla-Okla
Okla-okla-Okla-Okla-Okla-Okla...

We know we belong to the land
And the land we belong to is grand!
And when we say
Yeeow! Ayipioeeay!
We're only sayin'
You're doin' fine, Oklahoma!
Oklahoma O.K.
L - A - H - O - M - A
OKLAHOMA!
Yeeow!
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July 22, 2008

Song of the Week: A Better Rain

The monsoons have finally arrived here in Tucson. After a long, sun-parched summer, and with a trip to Oklahoma looming, I can think of no better song of the week, for this Tuesday in particular, than George Strait's A Better Rain.

Taken from the 2006 album It Just Comes Natural, the melody of the song mixes pensive and optimistic sounds to create a wistful tribute to life and change. What makes the sound unique, in a style specific to George Strait, is its simple use of the fiddle and acoustic guitar. Few instruments are more evocative of such melancholic emotions.

But what really makes the song special is its lyrics. All country lyrics tell a story. Yet, the story in this song happens to be especially true to life. Sung in the first person, it tells the story of a love gone wrong, and likens the end of the relationship to the dark, foreboding rains of a storm. The troubadour muses about life's complexities, and then concludes by wishing the woebegone lover 'a better rain' to wash away the grime of pain.

In response, the mood and music of the tune lifts as the singer encourages the lover to recall the good times- 'before the flood, once upon a time in love, a beautiful us.' The recollection becomes a prelude to the rainbow still to come.

As 2L year peaks over the horizon, the song reminds me how we are each indelibly shaped by our pasts. The music seems to embrace this point. In the song, as in love and life, we have little choice but to forge ahead. Change is inevitable. And so the lot falls on each of us to embrace the rain- to expect that the clouds will pass, and to anticipate the streams in the desert.

Few people go through life having never loved and lost. For those among the masses of people who have done both, the message of A Better Rain will strike a chord.

The photo at right of the Tucson monsoons appears courtesy of yours truly. Feel free to use as you would. A terrific user video of A Better Rain appears below. Lyrics follow after the jump. Enjoy!



A Better Rain
By George Strait

Baby, what do you say when love comes down on you
Rainin' the blues on you
Like it's never gonna end on you
And all your dreams like leaves in the gutter go floatin' by
No, baby, I don't know why all God's children cry
I'll miss your skin, as golden as your wheat-field hair
And where you go, I hope you find out there

A better rain
The kind that comes in off the coast and paints the sky
And lets you know that God's alive
A better rain
That'll wash me from your eyes so you can smile again
And be all right again
In a better rain

Someday is gonna find you in a sweeter place
Long after time has erased
All the words like razor blades
You'll remember you and me before the flood
Once upon a time in love, a beautiful us
I can see you on some stretch of sand
Spinin' round in circles barefoot dancin' in

A better rain
That'll leave behind a rainbow in the sky
Let you know that God's alive
A better rain
That'll wash me from your eyes so you can smile again
And be all right again
In a better rain

A better rain
That'll leave a rainbow in the sky
Lets you know that God's alive
In a better rain
A better rain
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June 28, 2008

Song of the Week: Troubadour

In an age where people and artists continually reinvent themselves, I have come to appreciate consistency. Going on nearly four decades in country music, George Strait is a bastion of tradition in a sea of ever changing artists. Last weekend I stumbled across George Strait's new Troubadour album and was pleased to see that the King of Country still has it.

With one song from the new album already atop the country billboards, Strait's stipped-down version of country music has made him the stuff of legend. The most obvious example of this nearly minimalist style is found in the first single on the album eponymously titled Troubadour. The song is at points both wistful and self-affirming. It's unique simplicity earns it the title, Pax Plena Song of the Week.

Country music fans will appreciate that the songs on the entire album are pure George Strait. Far from having the rock flourishes of a Keith Urban, George Strait's brand of country music reminds one of driving dusty roads in West Texas. With Strait, the generic trappings of Nashville are displaced for want of Frio County, Texas. The music is real.

In terms of sound, the drive of the album is obviously Strait's voice, but its instrumentation is guided by the pure strum of an acoustic guitar, and the crying fiddle that personifies country music. A small trap set keeps beat, but its role in the song is far subordinate to the elements mentioned above.

But what makes Troubadour stand out from an impressive gallery of songs on the album is its lyrics. The words of the song force one to consider self-definition. Because Strait's music style, already has quite the established definition, the challenge in the lyrics comes with authority.

For instance, in the chorus, the singer muses that even as old age approaches some goals remain the same (viz., still trying to make a name), though they have now been tempered by a profound self-assurance (viz., Knowing nothing's gonna change what I am). This simple introspection strikes at the heart of the very negotiation made between ambition and definition. For those who resolve the conflict, there is no need to fret comparisons with others because we are who we are at the end of the day. Take it or leave it. I would submit that most folks can relate to the questions posed. The problems the song presents are just as relevant in Pearsall, TX as they are in New York City.

George Strait reminds us that in some ways we are all troubadours. Our songs are simply different.

Please enjoy the Pax Plena Song of the Week, Troubadour in the video below. Lyrics follow after the jump.





Troubadour
By George Strait

I still feel 25,
most of the time.
I still raise a little cain with the boys.
Honky tonk and pretty woman.
Lord I'm still right there with them.
Singing above the crowd and the noise.

(Chorus)
Sometimes I feel like Jesse James,
Still trying to make a name.
Knowing nothings gonna change what I am.
I was a young troubadour,
when I rode in on a song.
and I'll be an old troubadour,
when I'm gone.

Well, The truth about a mirror,
It's that a damn old mirrow.
Don't really tell the whole truth,
It don't show what's deep inside.
Oh read between the lines,
it's really no reflection of my youth.

(Repeat Chorus)

I was a young troubadour,
when I rode in on a song.
and I'll be an old troubadour,
when I'm gone.
I'll be an old troubadour,
when I'm gone.
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June 19, 2008

Song of the Week: Linden Lea

A little known fact about your humble blogger: many years ago, I was a member of my high school's varsity choir. For a town of roughly 2,500 people, our choir was fairly impressive. Led by our intrepid director, Mrs. Charla Dedmon, our small troupe would go on to win several superior medals at the Oklahoma State Solo and Ensemble Competition (This was the rough equivalent of taking a gold medal at a state championship track meet). As with so many activities of youth, I failed then to realize that my hours spent singing were actually quite influential in developing my later appreciation of art and music.

Lest this post seem more self-congratulatory than need be, I cannot lay personal claim to having made Oklahoma's illustrious All-State Choir despite my superior solos and ensembles at State Contest. Sadly, My baritone voice was of limited range, and this did me no favors as I competed against Oklahoma's best. I was easily bounced from the final round of auditions having returned late from a College visit to Dartmouth. I suppose we all have our priorities.

Looking back on it, I wonder if I might have met country music star Carrie Underwood somewhere during our formative years at competition. Ms. Underwood hails from sleepy Checotah, OK, a town roughly the same size as Walters, and she graduated from High School the same year I did in 2001. For anyone interested in music or singing, varsity choir was an obvious way to go. Then again, Ms. Underwood was probably too cool for choir, and, regardless, is surely way too cool for yours truly.

All of the above, is merely a long prelude to today's Song of the Week. One of the few numbers we performed in my choir days that has stuck with me was English composer Ralph Vaughn Williams' 1901 selection titled Linden Lea. It was a drop high for me as a baritone, but the song was lovely.

At risk of insult, Vaughn Williams' style was to borrow from the Anglican hymnal and recast folk songs to the rough typeset of a hymn. This metric is pronounced throughout song. As a result, one could fairly call Linden Lea a secular hymn. In my view, this is a perfectly reasonable application of new styles to older songs. Artists have been doing this since ye olden days of minstrels and bards. In music and fashion alone is theft a form of flattery.

Linden Lea is striking for two reasons. First, its music is absolutely superb. Written in the key of G major, the tune is at times both soaring and brooding, not unlike the natural environs it sets to score. Specifically, the high key challenges even the best of singers because the highest points in the song are also those notes that are held the longest. A quick read of the sheet music shows the highest notes in the second half of the melody marked with a dotted quarter note set amid a 3/4 time signature.

Given the pace, it could be said that the greatest musical difficulty of the song is its simplicity. To wit, anyone can sing Amazing Grace, but not everyone can sing Amazing Grace well. The same holds true for Linden Lea.

The second reason the song is striking is its words. While Ralph Vaugh Williams dubbed the song a 'Dorset Song,' true credit for the lyrics go to the Dorset poet William Barnes. Barnes was born in the early 19th Century and spent the majority of his life among the west country peoples in Dorset along the southern coast of England. This area is home to a number of jutting crags, meadows and grasslands aplenty (viz., leas). Although the area was once quite thick with timber, the land has been cleared for centuries of its native forests. Its climate falls on average between 50 and 54 degrees. As one keeps in mind the area described in the song, it is difficult not to develop an affinity for such a seemingly far away place. Growing up in small-town Oklahoma, even a young boy could appreciate the romance of green leas, and the bubbling streams of Doreset.

The song was originally written in the Dorset dialect, a slight variation of English that adds a soft inflection in place of the letter "F." It makes for an interesting read of the poem as Barnes wrote it. The themes of the poem's language carry over nicely into the song by Ralph Vaughn Williams. It is not difficult to embrace the locale described in its colloquial warmth. The song evokes feelings brought on by the turning seasons, and by wide expanses of meadows. This aspect of appreciation is not limited to Dorset. One of my favorite college memories is of lying down in a field of green near Quechee, VT, and soaking in the cloudless sky overhead.

As a burgeoning lawyer, the part of the song that I enjoy most is the lyricists musings on life and work. The final stanza of the song describes a choice made long ago between making easy money working in 'dark-roomed' towns or living life in the freedom of simplicity. I suppose we will all cross a similar point of decision in our lives. But for now, the introspection is a welcomed consideration nearly a decade after first hearing the song.

Below is a performance of Linden Lea as sung by the Choir of St. Mary's Church at Hendon. The congregation at Hendon has has existed in some form since the 9th century. Its choir has performed at such sundry places as St. Paul's Cathedral in London and in venues across New York City. A legal and free mp3 of the song can be found here. Lyrics follow after the videos. Enjoy!



Below is a video of Linden Lea as sung by a terrific, amateur countertenor.



Below are videos underscoring the, ah, difficulty of singing Linden Lea well.





Linden Lea
Music by Ralph Vaughn Williams
Poem by William Barnes

Within the woodlands, flow'ry gladed,
By the oak trees' mossy moot;
The shining grass blades, timber shaded,
Now do quiver under foot;
And birds do whistle overhead,
And water's bubbling in its bed;
And there for me,
The apple tree
Do lean down low in Linden Lea.

When leaves, that lately were a-springing,
Now do fade within the copse,
And painted birds do hush their singing
Up upon the timber tops;
And brown leaved fruit's a-turning red,
In cloudless sunshine overhead,
With fruit for me,
The apple tree
Do lean down low in Linden Lea.

Let other folk make money faster;
In the air of darkened towns;
I don't dread a peevish master.
Though no man may heed my frowns
I be free to go abroad,
Or take again my home-ward road,
To where, for me,
The apple tree
Do lean down low in Linden Lea.


Lyrics courtesy of FolkInfo.org.
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May 14, 2008

Song of the Week: The Imperial March

In hopes of numbing the pain of finals, I recently watched all six episodes of the Star Wars saga for the first time (ever). I had my doubts. How could something parodied by every comedian since Gary Coleman be worth its social billing?

Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised. The stalwart cultural franchise was well worth the time invested. But what struck me most in the wake was the saga's score by John Williams- particularly The Imperial March. So much so, that The Imperial March easily earns the title, Pax Plena Song of the Week.

For those in need of motivation to study, open up iTunes. Download the song. Put the track on repeat. Listen to it while en route to your exam. The effect is almost like navigating an Imperial Star Destroyer in traffic. The tune should be enough to set you on attack mode as you prepare to annihilate the test (or your prof).

What makes The Imperial March interesting is John Williams' adept use of leitmotif in crafting the score. Every time Darth Vader appears on screen some variation of The Imperial March melody is played. Of course, the same is true for other characters but their tunes are not nearly so frightening.

Here's why: the famous, opening melody of the song does a fantastic job of blending the introductory chords with the subsequent chords in a mini-crescendo. These initial sounds are then contrasted with the quiet strains that follow in the middle. Naturally, the two melodies regroup after the pianissamo movement to engage in a bit of musical banter while building to a powerful crescendo at the end. The final product is the sheer terror of sound when the melody concludes. It almost makes you fear for Captain Needa's life. No other song in the entire series is so powerful.

One quirky point of note: Many have disagreed with me (even those who have been recent guests in the viewing), but whenever I listen to The Imperial March I hear the Mary Poppins tune in the second movement of the song. For those who recall this embarrassing movie of youth, the words from Mary Poppins that I hear in The Imperial March are "a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, the medicine go down." Does anyone else hear it?

At least one other person does...

Enjoy!



Darth Vader meets Mary Poppins?

Darth Poppins
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May 7, 2008

Song of the Week: Come On Joe

George Strait has proven to be the best medicine for the gloom of finals. I can't say why but there's really just something about his brand of country music that delivers a great back drop for studying.

It's kind of like being at home in Oklahoma, but not really.

Anyway, for the musically inclined but academically afflicted, the Pax Plena song of the week delivers the perfect ambiance while cracking the books. For the deep southerners, it might even remind you of a night on the bayou.

In terms of lyrics, I won't belabor what should rightfully be listened to, but I will quickly add that the lyrics tell a fun if not morose story. It goes to show, one never knows what to expect on a 'six pack high' and a full moon.

Direct from George Strait's top country album in 2006, It Just Comes Natural, please enjoy the Pax Plena Song of the Week, Come on Joe.

Lyrics and goodies follow after the jump.



Come on Joe
by George Strait

Well, it's a long, hot night
And the stars are shining kinda extra bright
Sitting on the back porch glidin'
Whetting my appetite

Well, I'm a six-pack high
And start missing the light of my baby's eyes
Wasn't it beautiful, the kind of a soul they said would never die

Well, it's muggy in the shack
And the backwoods are black
'Cause the clouds hid the moon away
The light from my cigarette flickers in the dark
The only way she knows I'm here
Then suddenly the sounds of the fiddles and accordions
Sweetly begin to play and I can almost hear her sweet voice say

Chorus:
Come on Joe, just count to ten
Pull yourself together again
And come on Joe, you gotta get hold of this mood you're in
Come on Joe, you gotta be strong
You're still young and life goes on to carry on
'Til we're together again

Hey, I know she's right
But it's hard to fight when you're hurtin' so
I tried to walk out of that door before but I just can't go
With the tears and the laughter in every rafter in every room
Wasn't it beautiful
Wasn't it the kind of happiness and glow

Chorus

Come on Joe
Hey, come on Joe
To carry on 'til we're together again

Addendum: If you need a bit of hilarity on your Wednesday, check out the country line dance video to the Pax Plena song of the week below. Aside from the first thirty seconds where the instructor stands there awkwardly, it's really not a bad lesson.

What's the catch? This "muziek" video is in Dutch so it could be a drop difficult to understand! Country line dancing in Amsterdam? Fair enough. I guess they're no worse at dancing in Amsterdam than the beginners are back in Dallas.

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April 23, 2008

Song of the Week: Wrapped

With the crush of finals looming, blogging may be scarce. But certainly no more so than the Pax Plena Song of the week.

Regardless I see the error of my ways.

This week's song has made many a hot afternoon in Tucson pass with a hint of western swing. The lyrics tell a classic country tale of loss and unrequited love. Who knew country music could be so Petrarchan? You can almost hear the jukebox playing the tune at your local watering hole or in the radio of a dusty pick-up.

Then again, we would expect nothing less from the reigning king of country music George Strait.

Direct off his 2006 album "It Just Comes Natural", our song of the week Wrapped is Strait's 55th #1 hit on the country billboards. Please excuse the video but do enjoy! Lyrics follow after the jump.



Wrapped
by George Strait

I didn't have to turn my head whenever you walked in
The only one to let these chills roll down my skin
My heart beats faster, I hear your name
I feel my confidence slippin' away

Chorus:
I thought I was doin' fine
'Bout to get you off my mind
I see your face and then I'm
Wrapped around your pretty little finger again

It feels like ages since you laid down in my arms
I see no good reason but still I'm tangled in your charms
My God, you're smilin' and you catch my eye
My heart is pounding deep inside

Chorus

Ain't gonna let no man go down without a fight
'Cause my stalls and walls look better in the bright day light
My heart beats faster, I call your name
I feel my confidence slippin' away

Chorus

Your pretty little finger
Baby, I'm wrapped around your pretty little finger
Pretty little finger
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April 3, 2008

Song of the Week: I Wish You'd Stay

The Pax Plena song of the comes to you, admittedly, a bit late. I blame it on the irregularity of selecting songs from my iTunes library. While the process yields variety, it takes a while before one song strikes me with an unexpected trip down memory lane. Only those eliciting such reactions make the cut.

Nevertheless, a few weeks ago we featured Sinatra's In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning and billed it as a gospel hymn to romance. If Sinatra is the gold standard of his milieu, then Brad Paisley's I Wish You'd Stay is its country equivalent.

Released in 2001 on Paisley's second country album, I Wish You'd Stay tells the story of romance gone wrong. It speaks artfully to the complex emotions that seem to go hand in hand with unrequited love.

What makes it a powerful piece despite its traditional country pastiche is the universality of emotion conveyed in the lyrics. Simply put, we've all been there before. Love slips away. Nights grow cold. We want a mulligan. But it is not to be. The vividness of feeling is captured by Paisley's singing style and aptly demonstrates this complexity through verse. And in so doing, Paisley creates a song that all but says what we would like to say, if only we could find the strength.

Naturally, the song has some special meaning to yours truly. Specific references are made to Sallisaw, Oklahoma for the faithful reading back home. References also abound to Tennessee- a state not without some faint impression in my lost annals of mind. But the application could well be made by anyone who has ever loved and lost.

So, to those burning the midnight oils, traveling the information superhighway, and to those lost in wistful memories of what might have been, please enjoy the Pax Plena song of the week, I Wish You'd Stay.

The song appears below courtesy of Songza.com for your immediate listening gratification. For those interested, the video lacked an embedding function (blast you BMG Records), but it can be seen here.






I Wish You'd Stay

I talked to my sister in Memphis
And I told her you were movin' to town
Here's her number
She said she'd be glad to show you around
I left a map on your front seat
Just in case you lose your way
But don't worry, once you reach Sallisaw
It's all interstate

I know you need to go
But before you do I want you to know, that I

Wish you the best
And I wish you nothing less
Than every thing you've ever dreamed of
And I hope that you find love along the way
But most of all
I wish you'd stay

I figure right about sundown
You'll be in West Tennessee
And by then
Maybe I'll understand why you had to leave

I know that you've done some changin'
And I know there's no changin' your mind
And yes I know
We've been through this a thousand times

I'm sorry for still holdin' on
I'll try to let go and I'll try to be strong, and I'll

Wish you the best
And I wish you nothing less
Than every thing you've ever dreamed of
And I hope that you find love along the way
But most of all
I wish you'd stay

Yeah, everything you've ever dreamed of
And I hope that you'll find love along the way
But most of all
I wish you'd stay
I wish you'd stay
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March 17, 2008

Song of the Week: In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning

Having been up the better part of the past 24 hours this Pax Plena song of the week seems only appropriate. Last week we featured southern gospel. This week a gospel of romance. If that were so, Frank Sinatra's In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning would easily be among the hymns. Nary has there been a time when such simple lyrics were so profound.

Sinatra has long been considered the gold standard of the crooner era. But what makes this recording especially unique is that it was recorded in just three days during a lengthy session in March of 1954. It would go on to become Ol' Blue Eyes first full 12-inch LP, and the first concept album ever released. The album itself consisted primarily of ballads; it's theme according to wikipedia "organized around a central mood of late-night isolation and aching lost love."

There's really no describing what ought to be listened to so I will simply add that the song is absolutely as billed above. For those who have loved and lost, for those who have embraced the early hours of twilight, for those who have merely wondered from afar, this song is for you. Please enjoy the Pax Plena song of the week, Sinatra's own In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning.




In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning

In the wee small hours of the morning,
While the whole wide world is fast asleep,
You lie awake and think about the girl,
And never ever think of counting sheep.

When your lonely heart has learned its lesson,
You'd be hers if only she would call.
In the wee small hours of the morning,
Thats the time you miss her most of all.
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March 12, 2008

Song of the Week: I Know Who Holds Tomorrow

My favorite guilty pleasure in posting the Pax Plena Song of the Week segment is the quiet aside I get to spend traipsing among memories past, listening to the songs I select.

For many who grew up and attended church in the south, I suspect this song of the week will surely bring an abundance of memories all their own. Written during the golden age of itinerant preaching, Ira F. Stanphill's 1950 hymn I Know Who Holds Tomorrow melds the delicate lyrics of contemplation with a soft melody that grows in strength and truth.

The legend behind the hymn according to a religious blog is that Stanphill wrote I Know Who Holds Tomorrow during the dissolution of his marriage. According to acquaintances, Stanphill's wife grew tired of his ministry during its zenith and left him to pursue a career of her own in entertainment. Sadly, she was killed in a car crash sometime thereafter. The lyrics aptly convey the emotions of listlessness and doubt Ira Stanphill encountered while going through such a difficult period in life.

What makes the song especially meaningful to yours truly is that it so accurately reflects the present nature of life's spatial plane. For the recovering poets among us, Stanphill's song may bring to mind of Yeats' reflections on autumn:
"Let us part, ere the season of passion forget us with a kiss and a tear on they drooping brow."
If Yeats reminds us that seasons of passion and love are perennially moving targets, then Stanphill simply extends the metaphor a bit further to say that all of life is a moving target; and the only certainty we have is vested in the One Who Holds Tomorrow.

The conclusion, then, for twenty-somethings, is that the most steadfast, bedrock, take-it-to-the-bank promise of life is uncertainty. Or to put it more abstractly, uncertainty is our only certitude. And it is exactly this certitude that is so beautifully captured in song by Stanphill. The lesson of I Know Who Holds Tomorrow is that even inasmuch as we try to figure it all out, we cannot know which course is the best in life until hindsight blinds us by the force of its illumination. The song simply communicates that this is as it should be, for all of life is trial and error.

Given my present circumstance, the reality of uncertainty as embodied in the Stanphill song is intriguing. So often, I try to micro-manage my life even down to the quarter-hour. But the reality is that I'm not guaranteed the next second much less the next 15 minutes, half-hour, or day - much less tomorrow. This is not to say that the particular message of the song is that we are without choice. Even while we may feel subject to the fates, we are in control of the choices we make between hither and yon. Indeed, it is somewhat reassuring in the song that we have been in control all along. What the song does is reassure us that this moment is not all there is, even though it is all we have been given.

The broader point of the song, then, is that we can never know what tomorrow holds for our lives unfold in a series of moments. And the Giver of Moments stands by, holds our hand, and tells us, 'this uncertainty is, ok.'

With this in mind, please enjoy the robust baritone of Gospel Music Hall of fame legend George Younce as he sings Ira Stanphill's I Know Who Holds Tomorrow.




I Know Who Holds Tomorrow
By Ira F. Stanphill

I don't know about tomorrow;
I just live from day to day.
I don't borrow from its sunshine
For its skies may turn to grey.

I don't worry o'er the future,
For I know what Jesus said.
And today I'll walk beside Him,
For He knows what is ahead.

Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.

Every step is getting brighter
As the golden stairs I climb;
Every burden's getting lighter,
Every cloud is silver-lined.

There the sun is always shining,
There no tear will dim the eye;
At the ending of the rainbow
Where the mountains touch the sky.

Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.

I don't know about tomorrow;
It may bring me poverty.
But the one who feeds the sparrow,
Is the one who stands by me.

And the path that is my portion
May be through the flame or flood;
But His presence goes before me
And I'm covered with His blood.

Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand...
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March 4, 2008

Song of the Week: Walkin On the Sun

The Pax Plena Song of the Week hearkens back to a bygone era of summer's past. The year was 1997. Titanic would open that winter and go on to become the top-grossing film of all time. The Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl over the New England Patriots (lovely how history repeats itself). And The Notorious B.I.G. was gunned down on the mean streets of Los Angeles. RIP.

In all, 1997 was a wholly unremarkable year musically except for the entry of neo-60s group Smashmouth on to the America billboard scene. Smashmouth would eventually become the group most associated with late-1990s movie soundtracks (viz., the movie Shrek which featured the popular Monkees' cover I'm a Believer). But their inaugural hit and this week's song of the week, Walkin On the Sun, would become the ace that earned them both critical acclaim and cult status.

The song itself is overtly inspired by the 1960s. The bass line is driving. Its feel is a bit too funky to be dissimilar from the Beach Boys. The music video does much to cultivate this idea and to great effect. Suffice it to say, the surf influence is pronounced. The lyrics of the song are said to offer "an ironic and implied Generation X view of the hippie movement." Simply put, the lyrics more or less mock such hippie values as peace and love by exploring how those ideals become little more than commercial fads in the culture of Generation X- an assessment with which I'm not inclined to disagree.

But what makes the song interesting is how the nexus between the surf/hippie culture intersects with 90s era cynicism. Rarely do songs interact to create a cross-generational dynamic anymore- particularly songs by newer groups. But somehow Smashmouth managed to pull this off in their earliest days as professionals. The group would eventually go down the path of Shrek but for just this release, their music seemed more than the commercialism they would both bemoan and embrace.

More recently, I've found the song to be a great listen while driving about Tucson. Here, the faux-contemporary architecture of the 1950s adorns much of the landscape across the desert west. Beset on either side by palm trees, ranch style homes and pastels, one could nearly envision Smashmouth shooting their video with an 8mm camera while driving around town. Sun-drenched skies only add to the reality of walking on the sun.

In all, the song is a welcomed trip down memory lane. The funky video make it fun to remember a more innocent time and the naivety of youth railing against the culture.

Enjoy!



Walkin' On The Sun
by Smashmouth

It ain't no joke I'd like to buy the world a toke
And teach the world to sing in perfect harmony
And teach the world to snuff the fires and the liars
Hey I know it's just a song but it's spice for the recipe
This is a love attack I know it went out but it's back.
It's just like any fad it retracts before impact
And just like fashion it's a passion for the with it and hip
If you got the goods they'll come and buy it just to stay in the clique

[Chorus:]
So don't delay act now supplies are running out
Allow if you're still alive six to eight years to arrive
And if you follow there may be a tomorrow
But if the offer is shun you might as well be walkin' on the sun

Twenty-five years ago they spoke out and they broke out
Of recession and oppression and together they toked
And they folked out with guitars around a bonfire
Just singin' and clappin' man what the hell happened
Then some were spellbound some were hellbound
Some they fell down and some got back up and
Fought back 'gainst the melt down
And their kids were hippie chicks all hypocrites
Because fashion is smashin' the true meaning of it

[Repeat Chorus]

It ain't no joke when a mama's handkerchief is soaked
With her tears because her baby's life has been revoked
The bond is broke up so choke up and focus on the close up
Mr. Wizard can't perform no godlike hocus-pocus
So don't sit back kick back and watch the world get bushwhacked
News at 10:00 your neighborhood is under attack
Put away the crack before the crack puts you away
You need to be there when your baby's old enough to relate

[Repeat Chorus]
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February 26, 2008

Song of the Week: Days Go By

The Pax Plena song of the week comes to you courtesy of my weekend iPod play list. It's quite nearly the perfect song to enjoy on the open roads and blue skies of Southern Arizona.

Not to be confused with the Dirty Vegas version, Keith Urban's Days Go By is decidedly acoustic and un-electronic (though the dancing in Urban's video isn't nearly so entertaining as the Dirty Vegas video).

For the country music fans out there, Keith Urban does not disappoint. High vocals melded with an acoustic guitar and an intense beat make the song a hit for country fans generally. While it is a bit like the country-rock genre that made a resurgence of late, the message of the song more than compensates for its deviation from neo-traditional country.

Please enjoy, the Pax Plena song of the week, Days Go By by Keith Urban. Lyrics follow after the jump.



Days Go By
By Keith Urban

I'm changing lanes and talkin' on the phone
Drivin' way too fast.
And the interstate's jammed with gunners like me
Afraid of comin' in last.
But somewhere in the race we run,
We're coming undone...

CHORUS:
And days go by...
I can feel 'em flyin'
Like a hand out the window in the wind.
The cars go by...
Yeah it's all we've been given,
So you better start livin' right now
'Cause days go by...
Oh and a woo-hoo...


Out on the roof just the other night
I watched the world flash by,
Headlights, taillights,
Running through a river of neon signs.
Mmm-hmmm...
But somewhere in the rush I felt,
We're losing ourselves...


CHORUS:
And days go by...
I can feel 'em flyin'
Like a hand out the window in the wind.
The cars go by...
Yeah it's all we've been given,
So you better start livin' right now,
And days go by...
Oh and a woo-hoo...
Yeah, the days go by...
Oh and a woo-hoo!


We think about tomorrow then it slips away.
Oh, yes, it does.
We talk about forever but we've only got today...

And the days go by...
I can feel 'em flyin'
Like a hand out the window as the cars go by...
Yeah it's all we've been given,
So you better start livin',
You better start livin',
Better start livin' right now!


CHORUS:
'Cause days go by...
I can feel 'em flyin'
Like a hand out the window in the wind.
The cars go by...
Yeah it's all we've been given,
So you better start livin' right now...
'Cause days go by...
Oh and a woo-hoo...
Yeah, these days go by...
Oh and a woo-hooo!

Oh!
So take 'em by the hand,
They're yours and mine.
Take 'em by the hand,
And live your life.
Take 'em by the hand,
Don't let 'em all fly by!

Come on, Come on now...
Yeah!
Come on now!
Oh and a woo-hooo!
Don't you know the days go by...
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February 20, 2008

When Losers Win: Lessons from the Greatest Wine Ever Made

I count it my recent, good fortune to have discovered Slate Magazine. While their political pieces leave me ill, I generally find their food and travel section most agreeable (in fairness, their politics section is nearly always amusing, albeit repugnant). Last week's article on the 1947 Cheval Blanc proved no exception to my guilty pleasure.

For the $4 Merlot drinkers out there, the quick and dirty on the '47 Cheval Blanc is that it is widely considered by wine connoisseurs to be the finest wine ever made. This point of itself will probably not surprise many. Even the most boorish among us can appreciate a fine wine. But what may be surprising, is the rest of the story (to quote Paul Harvey); and it is toward this literary end that Mike Steinberger's piece in Slate Magazine is helpful.

[Link]

According to Steinberger, the birth of the '47 Cheval Blanc hearkens back to the days of climate dependent vintages. Back in ye olden days of wine making, the Bordeaux region of France was renowned for producing excellent wines primarily due to its temperate climate. To wit, the Bordeaux region provided an ethereal mix of humidity and dryness, creating some of the most succulent grapes in the world; which were then used to create some of the most beloved wines in the world.

What makes this point difficult to appreciate, as Steinberger notes, is that today nearly every vintage produced creates a drinkable wine. Be it the La Mancha region of Spain or, god forbid, Napa Valley here in the States, modern vintners nearly always get it right. Advancements in climate controlled cellars, modern farming technologies, and an abundant workforce all combine to make wine the $100 Billion industry it is today.

Unfortunately, the cost-benefit trade off is that many wines lose their originality. Call it selling out to the man, if you will. In times past, wine production was eminently dependent upon the summer vintage. Factors contributing to the summer vintage included: whether the summer was too hot; whether precipitation was received in the correct proportion to heat; whether acts of God conspired to frustrate the above; and whether all of these factors at issue found an alignment of the stars in producing the perfect bottle.

Enter the year 1947. Pakistan gained independence from Britain. Jackie Robinson became the first black to play baseball. UFOs were cited in Roswell, NM. President Truman implemented his eponymous doctrine. And a small vineyard in western France called Château Cheval Blanc was in the midst of what promised to be a rather terrible year.

Building on his laconic imagery, Steinberger describes the challenge of that year as follows:
July and August were blazing hot months, and the conditions turned downright tropical in September. By the time the harvest began, the grapes had more or less roasted on the vine, and the oppressive heat followed the fruit right into the cellar.

Adding straw to the camel's back, local ice distributors could scarce keep up with the demand for regional ice provisions. Many wineries were neglected for want of more pressing demands from butchers, fishermen, and presumably undertakers. Even so, by some, miracle means, the small vineyard at Cheval Blanc was able to forage just enough ice to save the vintage.

Yet, this fact alone provided little consolation to the vintners. By nearly all accounts, the combination of scorching heat and steamy damp from that 1947 summer should have ruined the vineyard's production. Rather, quite the opposite occurred:
The '47s signature flaws—the residual sugar and volatile acidity—were readily apparent, but it was just as Lurton had said: In this wine, the flaws inexplicably became virtues. The analogy that sprang to mind wasn't port; it was Forrest Gump. This was the Forrest Gump of wines—clearly defective, completely charmed.

At risk of seeming overly introspective, it occurs to me that much of life is quite analogous to the '47 Cheval Blanc. It would be almost platitudinous to suggest that life is full of obstacles. Just ask any law student if you disagree with this given. But the interesting link between the story and life is how the improbable, seemingly dire circumstances of our existence combine to produce something truly magnificent.

As Steinberger indicates above, it is the peculiarities and blemishes which make the world's finest wine great. Consider that modern vintners have every technology and every comfort at their disposal in creating passable, drinkable wine year-in, year-out. Indeed, the entire industry prospers as a result of such technical prowess and dexterity.

But what makes the greatest wine preeminent is its flawed idiosyncrasies.

The '47 Cheval Blanc is a wine which ought never to have been. Borrowing a bit from Steinberger, the wine is in fact very much like a lover- its faults become qualities. One learns to appreciate the flaws. What once was irksome becomes endearing. Borrowing from personal recollection, I believe this rifling to be mostly true. In fact, over time, love tends to become its own end. And eventually the loud imperfections of being slowly yield to the quiet acceptance of night.

Parsing the matter theologically, it is not difficult to recall the words of Christ in Matthew 21:42:
"The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone."

[Link]

Odd that the '47 Cheval Blanc shares with the Savior the least common denominator of rejection. Yet, in their prime, both surely were rejected. Of course, both also had their own vindication in time. The Christ would go on to turn water into wine and save humanity. The '47 Cheval Blanc would go on to turn wine into something different entirely.

It may be a fair to question exactly what the purpose is of this ambling exploration of thought.

I have no specific conclusions.

The mark of a good lawyer is always to answer it depends, except when it doesn't. But an important point for consideration in this assessment are the remarks made earlier about originality and vintage.

Here lately, amid interviews and career workshops, I have come to realize that sometimes the trend of life becomes more important in our consciousness than the living of life.

In fact, life, in many ways, resembles the plight of modern vintners. Streamlined. Efficeint. Predictable. Perhaps even stale (or at least starved for novelty). But good wines, like quirky people, remind us that breaking with convention is often a fine departure from the status quo.

Going it alone, damning the man, or even fording the river- regardless of whether your oxen dies- can help one stay true to one's self. Life, as a result, may still not yield the perfect bottle. Just look at the people around you. But what it does yield will still have done the trick.

In turn, I think the following life lessons from the world's greatest wine might be useful to consider:

To the discouraged, I would posit that the summers of life need not leave you scorched.

To the encouraged, consider your flaws- they may be your strengths.

To the optimistic, I would posit that like modern vintners convention is not always best.

To the dour, consider that even the worst of vintages can yield something great.

And, most importantly, winners lose- like the 2007 New England Patriots. And on occasion, losers win- like the 1947 Cheval Blanc.
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February 18, 2008

Song of the Week: Bigger Fish To Fry

Having decided in the last week to resume the actual purchase of CDs, it seems appropriate to once again resurrect the Pax Plena song of the week.

Here to kick off the latest weekly installment, the song below appears courtesy of Brad Paisley's newest album, 5th Gear.

I'll not scoop the song but it is hilarious (though the user video created below is only mildly amusing) and even tangentially dabbles in theology.

My regular readers will surely appreciate the heretic in me. The practical minded among us might even call it the Gospel in a nut shell.

Please enjoy Brad Paisley's Bigger Fish to Fry. Lyrics follow after the jump.



Bigger Fish to Fry

I said a bad word when I was a kid.
Mamma said that I'd be sorry for the sin that I did.
My daddy whooped me and the
preacher said shame.
And I tried like hell to change.

But I cuss,
And I smoke,
I laugh at dirty jokes.
The minor vices, man I know 'em well.
I've closed down bars.
I've lusted in my heart.
My exes think I oughta burn in hell.
But the devil, he won't notice when I die.
Yeah, don't you figure he's got bigger fish to fry?

Politicians taking pork barrel bribes.
Crooked CEOs are getting off with no time.
Christmas Eve burglars stealing good children's toys.
(Can't say Christmas).
Holiday burglars stealing good children's toys.

I cuss,
I smoke,
I laugh at dirty jokes.
The minor vices, man I know 'em well.
I've closed down bars (yeah, many a one).
I've lusted in my heart.
My ex thinks that I oughta burn in hell.
But the devil, won't even notice when I die. (bet he does)
Yeah, don't you figure he's got bigger fish to fry?

Serve em up!

(instrumental)

Yeah there's gonna be bonfire burning
An everlasting barbecue
But with all the bad stuff going on,
There ain't gonna be room for me and you.

(Chorus 2)
'Cause we cuss,
We smoke.
We laugh at Tater's jokes. (spoken)-> Tell one Jim.
"You know you're old when your wife says 'honey let's run upstairs and make love' and your answer is 'I cannot do both.'"
The minor vices, man we know em well.
We've closed down bars.
We've lusted in our hearts.
Our exes think we ougta burn in hell. (you got it wrong, it's the other way round)
But the devil, he won't notice when we die.
Hey, don't you figure he's got bigger fish to fry?
Yeah don't you figure he's got bigger fish to fry?

Pass the tartar sauce

When we all get to heaven what a day of rejoicing it will be.
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Welcome!

Organic, free-range thought courtesy of your average, coffee-addicted, American Indian, academic. Program Manager @IGPatUA.


The thoughts here are mine alone and should not be attributed to my employers, colleagues, or any other sentient being.

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