Archive for the 'Culture' Category

Chocolate cake and Unleaven bread

Monday, July 16th, 2007

My preacher is doing a series on communion.  He has also posted about it and you can click here to see that post.

See, in our tradition we take the Lord’s supper each week.  It is awfully easy to lose the meaning of the rite to our own disregard.  So Sunday morning’s sermon was about stopping and giving pause and examining ourselves before we just go through the motions.

This stimulated some deep thought for me.   I started to compare some things in my life.

Many of you will remember an old post of mine where I told you what chocolate cake means to me.  I’m going to reprise a little of that thought to make my point.

My grandparents lived in Brownfield.   I lived in Odessa.  Grandad was a roughneck.  So he made the trek to my house each week so he could work.  Each week he brought a pan covered with foil.  In it was a good old Texas style chocolate sheet cake.  Each week I would hear how she baked it just for me.  She knew it was my favorite.  I always felt like her favorite when he brought it.

I did not deserve this favor.  I was just a scrawny little runt that was adopted into the family.  But she saw me as her own.  To this very day, I look at chocolate cake through the eyes of a happy little grandson.  There is far more there than just flour, eggs and butter.  The memories don’t fade fast.  The expression becomes more vivid as I get older.

Christ prayed over the bread and the wine.  He told his disciples “Do this to remember Me.”  He likened the bread to His body, a holy sacrifice to be shared.  He likened the wine to His blood.  One’s cup symbolized one’s destiny.  They were to share in His life and His destiny.  The tradition lives on among us today.

I do not deserve this favor.  I am still some little runt that was adopted into the family.  But He sees me as His own.  Every time the trays are passed I see my self as a grateful little child of God.  There is far more there than just matzos and wine.  The memory has lasted 2000 years.  The expression becomes more vivid as I get older.

I get to sit at the table of God Almighty.  He has prepared Himself for my consumption.  I don’t deserve this.  I must be loved to be so privileged.

A Strange Phenomenon and a Stranger

Sunday, July 8th, 2007

Bob was a young cowhand. So he noticed lots of things that others ignored. As he was driving cattle through the Paisano pass he saw a flicker in the distance. He wondered if it was an Apache campfire. When he asked the locals they told him to ignore it. There were lights in those mountains all the time but nobody ever found a campfire. It is just one of those things that stays a mystery.

It has been almost 125 years since Bob saw the lights in the Chinati mountains. The lights still flicker and there is still no sure answer why.

When I was a boy, my parents pulled over on the road outside of Marfa. We watched the mountains with the crowd and saw little lights flash from time to time. But the real show was the crowd itself.

The Marfa lights attract a wide variety of folks. Some are definitely stranger than others. I saw everyone from the typical American family to UFO kooks that one does not expect to see anywhere but Roswell. Freddy was one of those kooks.

I’m not sure what his name really was. But Freddy is good enough for me. Freddy was the first person I ever saw with a nose ring. It was no nostril stud either. We’re talking full fledged hog ring. I couldn’t tell where his beard ended and hair started. It was all one big fuzzy mess. He wore a ratty old brown Stetson with a hole on top. His hair stuck out through the hole. He scared folks off by exclaiming, “The lights are our friends!” Apparently the lights are caused by tourist from the planet Nardoz. So the Nardozians pull over to the Chinati mountains to watch us watch them.

Being a precocious youngster, I asked Freddy if they had any tasty Nordozian cookies. And if we could introduce them to milk so they might enjoy them more. My mother’s hand covered my mouth and we retreated to the car before Freddy could engage us in any colorful conversation.

I don’t know what ever became of Freddy. But I hope he has a new hat.

Influential Music Meme

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

In my line of work, one spends a fair amount of time waiting and observing.  This leaves me standing in front of a machine for short stints throughout a twelve hour shift.  The operators do a lot of walking as they load and unload many machines.  This all makes for some interesting discussions.

People can only complain about work for a short time before the conversation goes some other direction.  We often have a lot of time to think about responses to the last exchange before the next one comes around.

Well a fellow music enthusiast and I had a few exchanges the other night.  He asked me who I thought the five most influential songwriters in American music were.  I thought, “Now that is a meme if I ever heard one.”  The interesting thing is the number.  Coming up with number one is easy.  Those next few spots make it a little tougher.

So here goes another of my no tag memes.  Participate if you want.  I would appreciate a link.  I won’t tag a soul.  Remember, the key word is INFLUENTIAL not favorite.  My personal favorites would be a different list entirely.

  1. George Gershwin:  I don’t even need to explain this one.
  2. Aaron Copland:  Most of us know him for Fanfare for the Common Man and Hoe-Down (Beef, its what’s for Dinner).  I believe that Appalachian Spring is the finest music ever written for orchestra.  And yes, I do put it above the works of Beethoven and Bach.
  3. Hiram “Hank” King Williams:  Not only is his music timeless but he is the most influential figure in country, gospel and rock and roll music.  Many of those old blues tunes rock artist like to cover were originally country tunes written by Hank.  It is no wonder that his name comes up so often when artist list their influences.
  4. McKinley “Muddy Waters” Morganfield:  He defined and refined Blues music.  His songs are still staples in our American music diet.  He may be gone but his mojo is still working.
  5. This one is difficult.  It is a tie between two contemporary songwriters who have written classics and are strongly influencing the modern music scene.  Merle Ronald Haggard and Carole King are not only great performers but top shelf songwriters.  I put them in this position because of their influence on so many contemporary songwriters in all genres.  My personal favorites are Silver Wings and I feel the Earth Move.  My favorite thing about both of these songwriters is their lack of inhibitions about using weird progressions and their ability to compose both fantastic lyrics and excellent music.  Those dual proficiencies helped put these two ahead of many other writers who were either great lyricist or great music writers.


Saturday, June 30th, 2007

Does this look yummy?

Then read the rest of this.

Texas Charm School Lesson 4

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Recently a nameless preacher referred to the land of my birth as bumpkinville.  The wife was a little put off.  I told her, “Bless his heart, he doesn’t know any better.”  Then, the other day, a different fella referred to rural folks as bumpkins.  The country gentleman to his right quickly corrected this uncouth behavior.

These instances have made me realize that a Texas Charm School Lesson is in order.

Texans sometimes use pejoratives as terms of endearment.  This often contributes to the confusion.  But in such cases, those pejoratives are in fact endearing.   But the use of these pejoratives in a demeaning manner can be insulting to people of rural backgrounds.  Therefore using terms like hayseed, bumpkin and redneck should be approached with the same scrutiny given to racial slurs and vulgarities.

Often the insulted individuals will be moved to educate the offender.  The manner of this education grows progressively less pleasant depending on the severity of the offense and the temper of the offended.

Now many offenders will be confused by the nature of the language I have used.  So, let me put this in terms that are easily understood by the pseudo-urbane.  Watch your mouth city boy, or one of us country bumpkins will be forced to teach you some manners.


Monday, May 28th, 2007

Some people go above and beyond what they have to.   We seldom realize the sacrifices that we claim to remember.  We find ourselves unable to pay the debt we owe.

I can’t write a thing that would be good enough.  My freedom and safety exist because people I did not know died protecting them.

Today, I will shed tears for the fallen warriors that protected me.  Tomorrow, I will live in a way that would make those fallen warriors proud.  As they look down on me from heaven, I hope that they can see my appreciation and gratitude.

Texas Charm School Lesson 3

Monday, May 14th, 2007

If you find yourself driving down the rural roads in Texas you will quickly notice the finger wave. Texans drive with one hand on the top of the wheel. As you approach oncoming traffic, the drivers will raise two fingers on that hand. This is the finger wave.

This may seem trivial but it aint. This is a big deal. If you fail to finger wave of return the finger wave Texans will think less of you. You will be considered, “stuck up.”

The finger wave is not the only important wave in Texas roadway etiquette. There is also the passing wave. This is not to be confused with the pass me wave. The passing wave is needed when someone pulls to the shoulder to let you pass. Failure to execute the passing wave will be interpreted as ingratitude.

The pass me wave is done by a driver with his left hand. The driver will lift two fingers to his ear and motion forward. This is a go ahead signal. At that point you are free to pass without any fear of acceleration. Follow up with a passing wave.

Being Texas friendly on the Texas roadways is not only a moral imperative but smart. Texans will help you when you’re broke down. They will give you great directions. They are happy to meet folks from other places. And they will be happy to lend a hand if you have trouble of any kind.