Tuesday, November 18, 2003

If there's that certain something missing in your social life, and you're not too fussy about the sort of company you keep, do consider a career in law enforcement, because, according to Amy, "Really drunk people still try and do it with the officer".

Seriously, though, I would like to thank her for putting up the Franklin ten-codes on her sidebar. The link she'd provided before didn't seem to work and I wasn't sure the Knoxville codes were exactly the same. Aside from that, when she writes things like
"...so we 10-19ed to help out with the 10-24 but only after we finished with our 10-95, after which we code-3ed all the way and it was about 10:30 pm when we got there and started looking for the 10-49 that drove his 10-44 through the front door, but he wasn't there, just a buncha other cops who were 10-97 looking confused or eating donuts. '10-12? 10-12?' we asked everyone but they were all too 10-6ed to answer us..."
... when she says stuff like that, I don't feel so inadequate anymore. Thanks Amy!

"We're All Republicans Now. We've All Come Around Somehow."

Lately I've been listening to NPR, which, for those of you who aren't cool like me or who live in Malaysia (those two are not always the same thing), stands for National Public Radio. Before that, I listened to 95.3 FM. The actual name of the station eludes me right now but I think a good name would be Ultra-Conservative Christian Radio. It was fun to listen too because of how doggedly un-cool they were, as though they were trying to turn the entire youth demographic off with their sweet, soothing, wholesome Christian music, which would have bored me to tears at one point in my life, but now... now I am fascinated by how different this stuff is. You don't get this on commercial radio. You'd get crucified for putting this music on any other station that gets decent sponsorship because not only are the songs blantant and child-like in their exposition of the grace of our Lord and Saviour but sometimes they were so... bad. Not all the time, they did play some old hymns every now and then, and those are always wonderful.

But these other songs that sound like rejected Neil Diamond numbers, they were just awful. Now the message of the songs were fine, exceedingly good in fact. But the music and the way the words were put together, it was as though the performers were intent on smiting any sense of chic or taste in the listener. Hearing these songs gave me visions of hordes of Christian men dressed in tucked-in plaid shirts and pressed brown pants with suspenders, neatly combed shiny hair and thick-rimmed spectacles, sitting in the pews of their 3/4s empty churches, singing that song that I was hearing on radio, while a piano player who didn't sound proficient anywhere above 2nd grade pounded at the keys without a hint of finesse or nuance, just plain old confidence that he was hitting the right notes, at the right time, and nevermind accentuating his peformance with anything that might resemble self-expression or uniqueness because that sort of thing might lead to pride.

But I listened anyway, because I was fascinated rather than disgusted by this assault on my modern sensibilities. Part of it was I wanted some that... the confidence to express my faith without any sense of self-consciousness or fear of being herded with the rest of the flock into the 'stupid and uncool people' pasture. And who's to say a song sounds better to God when the musicians are talented or the songs are well-written... scripture says, after all that He delights in raising up the foolish, the humble, the utterly talentless. And so, that fascination with the sensibilities of the brethren with whom I have nothing in common with apart from Christ (and in whom, I'm told, we have everything in common)... that fascination was part of what made me listen to 95.3FM. I think the other part may have been Catholic guilt. Before listening to 95.3, I was listening to Wild 98.7. Hip-hop radio. Where the music was good, and the message was oh-so very bad.

And then one day, when my parents were visiting me, I said to Brent "Hey Brent I'm gonna take my parents up to Six Flags in Atlanta, wanna come?" Well at first he did, but, unsurprisingly, due to his busy life, he was forced to bail on me, but he did give me ample warning. So I told him all right, I guess I'll rent a car instead to drive up there, as opposed to just riding with him like I was planning to (my car's too crappy to make the trip). Brent says no, no take my car. Take your car? Sure take my car. Okay man if you don't mind, but you're gonna have to drive my crappy car around, so you sure? Brent shrugs the way he does and says I don't mind. Gee, thanks Brent, you're a true friend. No problem Bernard, ol' buddy, ol' pal. High five man, woo!

I take his car to Atlanta that Saturday and he gets Grover The Snivelling Tercel, which I realised halfway back from Atlanta was low on gas and I didn't give Brent the gas key. Oh well... hope he didn't get stranded somwehere. Turns out I didn't slow him down, so all was good. The next day I get into my car to go fetch my parents to wherever it was we were going that day, and turn on the radio. I realize, hey whaitaminute, this isn't 95.3 anymore. It's playing bluegrass, ewww, what the hell. Brent must have changed the channel, the bastard! Hmm actually this ain't too bad, I'll listen to it for a while. And then something called All Things Considered came on, and people started talking about... stuff. I don't quite remember what, but I remember being interested in what they were talking about, even though I knew virtually nothing about the subject. I think it was politics. All things considered indeed... they even considered schmoes like me who don't give a hoot about politics and managed to pull me in for a half hour or so. And so I kept listening, and listening, and listening. I then decided I wasn't going to bother switching to another station for a while.

So now I listen to NPR, and this is kind of where the two worlds of 95.3 and 98.7 meet. The message is a mix... mostly good I'd say, better than 98.7. The music is definitely a step up from 95.3. There's a lot of classical music, for instance... the popular secular music of centuries past, that men in wigs and frilly shirts danced to. Pretty much the hip-hop of days gone by but it sounds better because people tell you this kind of music is more difficult to play, whereas with hip-hop all you need is a dj spasming on a turntable and you've got your music. Maybe so, I wouldn't know. But at least this kind of music makes you feel smarter, and it isn't necessarily telling you to get out there and get some of that perennially hot and sweaty booty that rappers are always singing about, so you think you shouldn't just be going to Kroger, getting your groceries, and then running straight home to read for the rest of the day, rather you ought to be out on the town tracking down a couple of hos and getting jiggy with it, or something. Classical music doesn't make your life sound banal or boring. It accentuates it with a bit of class, gives it a little background mood. If you wanted to you could read to this music. You could drive to this music. You could even fantasize to this music, about hot and sweaty booty, but this music isn't insisting you do that, so you don't have to. I like that. I like not being told I'm supposed to be a horndog. I'm frequently a horndog without having to be reminded, thank you very much.

By far, though, my favorite thing to listen to on NPR, especially on Saturday afternoons when I 'm driving out to get my groceries from Kroger, is A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keiller. It's a variety show and you get all kinds live music, comedy skits, and fake advertisements for products that don't but maybe should exist, because those ads are so good it makes you want to go out and get something. The music is somewhat eclectic... a lot of it is gospel and folk but occasionally you get guys like Tommy Emmanuel whom you don't dare put in a box. They are, by and large, people who play real instruments, not the type you plug in; the electronica is kept to a minumum. So again, this is a different brand of music from what you're used to hearing on the American Top 40.

The star of the show, however, usually turns out to be the regulars and the host himself, Garrison Keiller, a man so precious I think he ought to be cloned and recycled everytime the last one keels over and dies. In a Christian manner of course, as far as that is possible. Garrison has this rich, deep, and dark voice that draws you in whenever he sings a song, tells a story, peforms a skit, or even hums. It's just so good you could just sit there and listen to it humming. Most people I know, I imagine, either don't mind that voice or can't resist it. I know only of one possible exception and that would be Gretchen Forsythe, but she hates NPR as a whole... it's a childhood thing so I won't hold it against her. On the show you get a variety of things on a regular basis... right now there are the Guy Noir skits, the Powder Milk Biscuit ads, The News from Lake Woebegone (did I spell that right?) the Republican jingle or whatever they call it, and of course there's that sweet little tune that they use to open the show every time. And it's all performed live every week in the fall and spring, barring extenuating circumstances... beautiful, funny stuff. So if you haven't tried it already, tune in to NPR wherever you are and give it a shot, or if you just want to cut to the chase you can go to www.prairiehome.org and listen to the shows on realplayer. They've got archives dating back to 1995 up to the present, so there's a lot of stuff there you get to hear for free.

That's all I have to say about that for now.

Lots and Lots of Pictures. Because I can.

Marci and Brent's happy feet.

Brent.... eats.... leftovers??? *gasp*

Mike, and Doug and Mary Terry during last Fridays dinner at the Terry's. We played Taboo afterwards and my team lost. I'll blame Doug :p.

Me and Mary deal with pent-up bitterness from our childhood, while Doug and Mike pose for the camera.

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