A guitar beats a woman every time

A Face in the CrowdI don’t read James Lileks‘ blog as often as I should, but my California brother pointed me to it today — as well he should, since Lileks is waxing poetic about one of my all-time favorite movies, “A Face In The Crowd.”

In fact, I was startled to see an Amazon link to the DVD on Lileks’ page; I’d been waiting impatiently for the movie to come out on DVD, and I thought I was on one of those Amazon watch lists which was supposed to notify me of its release.

And, just as my brother predicted, Lileks had some facts about the movie I didn’t realize — including an appearance in it by a man who later became a game show celebrity of sorts.

See It Now (or whenever it comes out)

I watched a trailer online today for Good Night, and Good Luck, and now I can’t wait to see the movie. David Strathairn, a fine actor, looks and sounds eerily like Edward R. Murrow in this movie about Murrow’s battles with Joseph McCarthy. George Clooney, who directed, plays Fred Friendly, and the cast includes a number of other fine actors, including Jeff Daniels, Robert Downey Jr., Patricia Clarkson and Frank Langella.

Jambalaya

While we were cooking men’s club breakfast at church this morning, one of my fellow church members made an observation — he meant no disrespect, although I guess some people might consider it flippant.

Depending on how long the evacuees are away from home, and where exactly they end up staying, some of their hosts and neighbors may be enjoying some of the best Cajun food they’ve had in quite a while.

I thought about this just now while eating some jambalaya (Zatarain’s mix, made in this case with frozen shrimp).

Duke’s mixture

One of the interesting things about last night’s concert was the spectrum of people in attendance. This was the first concert of the Nashville Symphony’s new season, and there had been a black tie gala earlier in the evening. So there were some people wearing black tie, others dressed in suits and ties, and then a third group who were casually dressed. Some of that third group fit the popular stereotype for science fiction fans, and it was easy to speculate (rightly or wrongly) that many in this third group were only in attendance to see Leonard Nimoy. Please note that I’m not accusing all science fiction or “Star Trek” fans of falling into that stereotype.

At least no one showed up in Starfleet uniform or Klingon battle dress.

The final frontier

Tonight’s Nashville Symphony concert with Leonard Nimoy was terrific.

The first half, before the intermission, was just the orchestra, playing Mozart’s “Jupiter” symphony, and it was worth the price of admission on its own. The Nashville Symphony is still seeking a successor to the late Maestro Kenneth Schermerhorn, and so this season it’s using a variety of guest conductors. Giancarlo Guerrero, born in Nicaragua, raised in Costa Rica, educated at Baylor and Northwestern, is one of those conductors who’s as much fun to watch as to listen to. He obviously enjoys his work, and his movements were enthusiastic, but never seemed stagy or too-showy.

Then, after intermission, the symphony performed Holst’s “The Planets” with Nimoy narrating and a video presentation with NASA photographic imagery and computer animation of the planets and their moons. I’m not sure what I expected Nimoy’s narration to be; he actually just introduced each segment by talking about what features or phenomena would be seen on the video. He never talked during the music, and there was nothing particularly dramatic or poetic about it, which I guess is what I had imagined. But it actually worked quite well, and it kept the programming out of the way of the music. “The Planets” is as dramatic and evocative as the Mozart piece was beautiful and intricate. The orchestra sounded great, doing a phenomenal job with both halves of the program.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, and I was really grateful to my parents for bringing me along. I think they enjoyed it too, and are looking forward to the other dates in their package of symphony tickets.

Layspeaking class

As a certified United Methodist layspeaker, I am supposed to take an advanced course at least once every three years. It’s been two years since my last class, and I like taking the course at two-year intervals just in case.

But the Murfreesboro District courses started at 9 a.m. on the same day I got back from Kenya at 2:30 a.m. I knew better than to try that.

Instead, I’m taking the class this Friday and Saturday in Columbia, under the auspices of the Columbia District. I’m looking forward to it; the instructor is Jim Hughes, a United Methodist pastor who worked in the Tennessee Conference office at a time when I regularly attended the conference singles retreats. I was really inspired by him at a time when I was starting to lose faith in myself, and there’s one message he delivered at a retreat which sticks in my mind as one of my four or five all-time favorite sermons.

It was Jim Hughes who started my tradition of reading Letterman-style “Top Ten” lists at singles retreats and then later at Mountain T.O.P. and LEAMIS events. I had been canoeing with one of the other campers at a singles retreat, and we got rained on. Jim and I had been conversing at lunch about our similar senses of humor, and as Jim helped us put up our canoes he suggested I write a Top Ten list about canoeing with Mary Jane.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Anyway, I have no idea if Jim remembers me, but I can’t wait to learn from him this weekend.

Unfortunately, my text and instructions for the course arrived in the mail today. I suspect that they were supposed to arrive right before the holiday weekend — and probably did, in the Columbia District. I, on the other hand, have to rush through things — and I have a pretty busy week this week to boot.

All in all, it’s probably a good preparation for layspeaking, in which you sometimes have to prepare a sermon on short notice.