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Archive for October, 2008

Yesterday, tomorrow, and beyond (with a little bit about today)

Local coffeehouse The Pourhouse Cafe is a ministry of Sherwood Oaks Christian Church, one of the bigger (if not the biggest) evangelical megachurches in Bloomington. They don’t have “owners, but donors,” it’s staffed by volunteers, it’s part of their college ministry, and all of the profits go to charities in Third World countries. I’ll also note that what it cost to get it up and running is more than All Saints’ entire annual budget, which gives you an idea a) of how big and how rich Sherwood Oaks is, b) the converse truth with respect to All Saints, and c) why All Saints is not in the coffeehouse ministry business (although it’s something Fr. Peter has said he’d like to get into eventually).

Anyway, they have live music every so often, and last night my friend Lacey Brown was playing (with husband Phil Woodward on guitar and all-around personification of awesomeness John Berry on drums), so I dropped in. I also got to hear Brooks Ritter (who reminded me a lot of Glen Hansard) and Jamie Barnes (maybe somebody can tell me — any relation to Paul Barnes? They sure look alike). I enjoyed the music and the musicians a lot, and while I was very much aware that this wasn’t exactly my scene (for reasons of age, at least — it scares me that that at not-quite-32, there’s already at least a narrow generation gap between me and people in their 20s), I was also scratching my head thinking, “How do we get some Orthodox Christian musicians/musicans who are Orthodox Christians exposed in this venue?”

Well, to some extent, it’s already happened; The SmallTown Heroes played here a couple of weeks ago. Still, I kinda wonder — what if, say, a men’s sextet did a set of Byzantine chant in English? No context, no preparation, just did it? What would the pomo crowd get out of something like that? Would it just turn them off? Would they connect with it, instinctively sensing something genuine, and want to know more? Maybe it’s worth a try… maybe not.

What does seem to be worth a try is NaNoWriMo, which starts tomorrow. I can easily write 50,000 words in a month; I’m pretty sure I’ve done at least that some months with this blog (hard to say for certain, since WordPress.com blogs don’t provide you with a way of checking), so it will be just a matter of redirecting some of the effort. As a result, there may be light blogging in the coming month, but I’ve got something I’ve been picking at in one form or another for four years, and it’d be really nice to actually finish a draft of something. This little story of Matthias and Isaac is really kind of peripheral to that of Petros’, and its Petros’ story I started out telling (back when I was still calling him Peter Lewis), but this way I can write something a bit more bite-sized, something that serves as a “test reel,” if you like, or “proof of concept,” and go back later if it turns out anybody cares. It’s somewhat as if C. S. Lewis first wrote a novella within the timeframe of Prince Caspian, about a side story happening to Reepicheep in which Caspian and the Pevensies were sort of side characters who were mostly there as background color. (Not that anything I’m doing will be anything remotely near to the Narnia books in terms of quality; I’m just using that to try to explain something without explaining much of anything.)

Anway, in fits and starts over the last several months, I’ve spat out about 5,000 words already, and I saw guidelines that said while it’s “discouraged” to use NaNoWriMo to finish something you’ve already started, as long as you write at least 50,000 words, it’s fair game. I don’t know that this story is 55,000 words long, but I’ll find out. I need to just make myself do it and finish a draft, see how it holds together. So, November could be interesting.

Finally — I’d just like to note that as of today, October represented, in terms of total traffic for the month, a spike of 296% from the previous month and 244% from my previous best month. So, now that I have five regular readers, I hope y’all stick around!

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Holy Trinity Church in Piraeus, Greece

Another place to add the list of places I want to go before I die… (Hat tip: Solomon, I Have Surpassed Thee)

…and as long as we’re on the topic of food…

Oh, man. Why do I feel like I need to go to confession just having read the recipe?

How sweet the Saveur

My stepmother-in-law (gotta love the twenty-first century) got us a gift subscription to Saveur about a year ago. It’s really only been in the last few months that I’ve really started to appreciate it. The recipes are great, reasonably “cookable,” and the way they do theme issues means there will be at least one or two keepers among the recipes one way or the other.

Recent successes:

Stretch’s Chicken Savoy

Sausages with French Green Lentils

Eggs Benedict (with lots of great variations in the actual issue, although not online)

Man. I’m suddenly acutely aware that the Nativity Fast is all of two weeks away.

Can anyone tell me…

…if there’s a way to do a word count of an entire blog hosted on WordPress.com? Officially the answer seems to be “no,” because one typically does such things by means of plug-ins or other such things that aren’t allowed even for paying customers like me, but surely some clever person out there has figured out a way to do via the meager tools we do have available to us (short of going back and checking the word count of every individual post for the life of the blog).

Many thanks in advance!

Vernacular American Byzantine architecture?

I’d like to express some appreciation for Orthodox architect Andrew Gould. Christ J. Kamages is the primary name I’ve been hearing for a few years (and not without very good reason), so Gould seems to me to be new on the scene, but having been running in Orthodox circles for all of five years I lack proper perspective on the matter. I certainly think we can only benefit from more architects who specialize in Orthodox church design, and I very much like what Gould brings to the table in terms of figuring out how churches might look at once authentically Byzantine and authentically American (a question I’ve written about in relation to another liturgical craft, too). I assume Gould would be deeply unappreciative of anybody reposting his images, so I encourage you to check out his (as well as Kamages’) website.

You can also listen to an interview with him here.

Perspective

Just because these are the kinds of things which occur to me every so often, particularly when I’m 23 days from a birthday…

Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” came out in 1971. I first heard it in 1990 (eighth grade for me), nineteen years later. From my perspective, it seemed like that song was ancient, from a totally different world. However, this would analogous to a current eighth grader today hearing one of these songs for the first time today, none of which I think of as “ancient.”

Man. That’s not grey in my beard, is it?

By the way, as long as we’re on the topic, supposedly Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones want to restart Led Zeppelin without Robert Plant. All I can say is, Led Zeppelin itself came out of Page’s need to keep The Yardbirds going without, well, The Yardbirds, and that worked out okay, so maybe this will to. Loyal Soundgarden fan that I am, I cast my vote for Chris Cornell as Plant’s replacement (and, to bring it back to the original subject, I’ll note that Soundgarden’s “Hands All Over” is one of the songs on the 1989 list).


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