Sunday, December 30, 2007

Albums by Christians that Rock, Vol. 1 - Dig by Adam Again

Part of the reason for this blog-a-thon is that I have seen way too much good music of the last two decades + go unheralded because it was in the Christian ghetto of the music recording industry - CCM. Now that the music industry is dying a slow-death and artists are able to self-produce and release their own CD's with the ease of pushing a few buttons and opening a MySpce account, the sad poetry of this underground and embattled music legacy is lost. What's even sadder is that, with the exception of eBay, most of the recordings are long gone. Here's to hoping for a resurgence, of sorts.

The irony, of course, is that the underground CCM movement may be understood better today than ever before, even the previous DIY time, the late '70s.

Note: This essay is actually a revision of a previous and longer essay on Adam Again.

Dig, by Adam Again

Whereas their previous and more jamming funk-rock band album Homeboys focused on the street level, Dig dug "Deep" into the recesses of the soul to produce a treasure worth treasuring. Although ostensibly about the divorce that frontman, singer, organist, guitarist, co-songwriter, lyricist, engineer, producer, studio owner, co-label owner and all-around profound artist Gene Eugene and bandmate, dancing dervish, vocal harmonizer Riki Michele were heading towards, the music was primarily about the emotional toll taken in the wake of their ongoing separation and the search for meaning in those dark times, not le divorce itself (which isn't atypical in the underground music scene these days). The disc is filled with enough archetypal images - digging, card playing (fate and relationships interplayed in fate and loss), water, dirt and earth - to make Carl Jung blush. It also helps to make the album universal - even though it itself is ironically hidden. It's a work of pure staggering everyman's art, taking specific, personal experiences and expressing them in an accessible language so that many can claim these opuses as their own.

And then there's the music. Gene had had plenty of experience in nearly every field of non-mainstream music as far as CCM was considered - working with hip hop, hardcore, punk, industrial (such as Mortal), post-punk, shoe-gazer, college rock, new wave, etc., etc. Gene also was deeply influenced by the great singer-songwriters: Dylan, Van Zandt, Cohen (who he referenced in their next album), and was influenced by such disparate figures as Stevie Wonder, Social Distortion, X, the Beatles and 70's rock radio.

But, at heart, I think that Gene wanted to rock and roll in a band that played the funkiest Fender Rhodes you've heard since 1976 (adapted from Homeboys). Yet the love for hard rock and punk (and even Americana) was there and pulsing through the backbeat of this band. It was a funk-rock fusion that, as said here, the Red Hot Chili Peppers would die to have - if they weren't so lazy. The main guitar was done by Greg Lawless, a monster, who could spit out tasty and crunchy riffs like Chester Cheeta with an axe and kick crazy asphalt of your chin like a face-melting Jackie Chan. The bass, as I'm told by the daughter of an avid bass-player, was laid down by Paul Valadez and is the shiz-bit, the ground you flippin' walk on. And then there's the welcome funky and foundational addition of John Knox, drummer extraordinaire, who's day job was to pound the skins for mainstream Christian rock act Whiteheart. Thank God he did extracurricular activities. The combo was unlike many others. Too bad for others.

The disc starts with a barn-stormer. "Deep" begins the theme of this album with stream-of-conscience poetry and a funky start/stop second guitar, mediating the Author into the mystery of the story. It's a story about mystery, about things not being as they seem or as we want them to be. It may also be about things not being what we envision them to be. "Girl ghost is in the stairway / She likes it when I rub my eyes... I don't want to / you don't want to / we don't want to know / And dying on the cross / for the sick and the loss / is the Lover that I long to know." Halfway in there, Jon Knox's drumming comes alive unto its own and threatens to devour through sheer force of high-hat cymbal-banging. And certainly those lyrics testify that it is also about revelation, an eye-opener that Jesus is not passive, but actively participating in our suffering through his own sacrifice of his own life. The title given to the one on the cross (you would note that not once do they refer to Jesus by name, part of the reason why they never made it big, or even moderately, in the Christian music ghetto) adds extra dimensions and says that this is not just a God or man who distances himself from us or our humanity, but loves us and yet somehow remains mysterious. Note other burning lyrics:

My days of wishful thinking
Soldiers of sorrow sinking
words dance
beginnings riddle
and in the end and in the middle
deep will i dig
see a shovel in the hand
of a wild-eyed man
with a mission and a goal
I've learned of this religion
but I've lost my peaceful vision

Notice also that Gene stretches out his I's. They become part and parcel of his personal vision, a sad self-reflection of a man trapped within himself, trying hard to shake himself free by self-discovery.

"It Is What It Is (What It Is)" presaged the most common answer by NBA stars, maybe in an attempt to avoid questions a la Dylan (probably about the indie rock and artistry that they would attempt within the realm of the bloated and convellent Contemporary Christian Music scene and the Christian bookstores they sold through.). "Ask a stupid question / you get a sideways quote / The reasonable would demand it." Indeed.

Sense to be made
I am afraid
I need to understand it.
The audience is baited
I got it by the throat
That monumental big decision
It is what it is
what it is

"Dig" begins with a pulsing Fender and slowly burns. Riki adds her sweetly melancholy melody on the second verse, Gene adds another vocal harmony slightly later and towards the end they fill in with guitars, drums, and bass.

Consult the cards to measure time
the earth is hard,
the treasure fine...
Will the eagle fly
if the sky's untrue
do the faithful sigh
because they are so few
At the sea, I'll wait on my knees

Gene Eugene has a nasal voice often though unfairly compared to REM's Michael Stipe. On this album, however, he wraps his vocals around the lyrics like a down blanket on a cold night and the additional harmonics of the Rhodes and background singer and spurned lover Riki Michele put him in a warm atmosphere, certainly in songs like "Dig." On "Hopeless, Etc." Gene stretches his vocals - some would say unconvincingly - to add dimension to the lyrics. "Hopeless, Etc." is ego-focused. Each verse begins with and expands on an elongated "I'm," holding at times for several bars and filling-out with 'hopeless,' 'useless,' and 'worthless' with a coda on the '-less.' It's a twisted worship song for the Me Generation. And it's a rocker, albeit one that also carries those song-building effects, this time starting fresh with every verse.

The oh-so meta (before meta went haywire and mainstream) "Songwork" is about the difficulty of writing that perfect song, or sometimes any song. But it is also about the difficulty of art, of - here's that theme again - the toil and sheer luck of discovering. He asks the difficult questions: which voices do I listen to, and to what end is all of this coming to? It's also one of the heavier songs musically, plodding along as if stuck in the mud. And apparently that is what happened to Gene until he decided to try a stream-of-conscience approach - which in turn greatly influenced my own writing (well, poetry. This prose stuff me no so good at).

Am I learning
Is my spirit restored
Do I listen
to the beggar
Or the woman at the door

"Worldwide" & "Walk Between the Raindrops," apparently, are about the social and global ills that face us as a brother- and sisterhood. The murder of Headman Shabalala (of Ladysmith Black Mozambo) and the plight of the homeless are raised to question our incapacity to compassionately act, suggesting that if we can merely explain the situation without grieving alongside the Holy Spirit on this, we are as likely to walk between raindrops. And the jump-kick on "Worldwide" kicks butt. "Keep your holy hair in place / the wind is gonna blow / the humble and the poor keep breathing." The guitars are psychadelic wha-wha's that Lenny Kravitz wishes he could borrow with any sense of credibility. Adam Again is truly urban rock. 100% urban, 100% rock.

Rumored to be a big influence on Over the Rhine (who's brilliant Drunkard's Prayer is a beautiful counter-point to the themes on this album and who played the screeching and haunting guitar coda from this song that was in itself stolen from Hendrix) "River on Fire" is the only song that seems to speak of the ensuing separation between husband and wife - indirectly or not. The burning of the over-polluted Cuyahoga River in Cleveland serves as the self-referential metaphor. The cello plays its part to leave the song drudging slowly along, methodically pulling us to gaze at the inevitable crash and slow burn of a feral mass of water, moodily created by the Hendrix-ian coda of the guitar at the end - wailing its way to a fiery death.

After the guitar chord drops a chill in the spine, we are treated with a rollicking "That Hill." Lyrically, it's about the failure of success, but musically it's a funky, hard-rocking blast with an engaging melody and riffs galore. Gene sings dispassionately behind the driving funk-load, "I climbed that hill... I wanted to be on the top / I wanted to be on the top / Big deal." Turn that into a motivational poster!

Adam Again would release one more album (Perfecta, which was pretty darned good in its own right) before Gene Eugene passed in 2000. He was busy making other people's music. I wanted more Digs.

Further reading:
Music and myspace page:

Friday, December 28, 2007

Bonus News of the Weird - Teachers in the Rubber Room

Because of the sensitivity of this post, I'm just gonna let this one speak for itself:

Several New York papers reported this year on the more than 700 public-school teachers being paid full salary to sit idly in [one of thirteen] facilities known informally as "rubber rooms" and do nothing until an arbitration board can review accusations of misconduct against them. The board of education won't permit the teachers to interact with students while charges are pending (even for offenses as trivial as buying a potted plant for the classroom without the principal's approval), but union contracts prevent them from doing administrative work, and the overloaded arbitrators convene at most once a week, so accused teachers wind up spending months or even years reading, writing, watching TV, knitting, practicing their putting, etc., at an estimated cost of up to $40 million.

Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, November 15, 2007.

I will say that this NYTimes article, by education writer and journalism professor Samuel G. Freedman, is worth reading. Some excerpts:

The room in question was about 1,100 square feet and on blueprints submitted to the Fire Department was designed to hold 26 people. On this day, it contained upward of 75. It had no windows, no land phone, no Internet access, no wall decorations, not even a clock. Any personal belongings left overnight were removed by custodians.

Some of the occupants faced criminal charges like assault, while others had been brought up by city education officials for termination due to incompetence or other causes. Still more, including Mr. Valtchev, had not yet received a formal letter specifying any allegation. Until their cases are resolved, which can take years, all are required to spend the 181 days of the school year in the rubber room.

And although the teachers there receive their full salaries, the stale, spartan conditions and the absence of any physical or intellectual stimulation provide a ceaseless reminder that in some respects they are guilty until proved innocent.

“There is a spirit of the K.G.B. about it,” Mr. Valtchev said in an interview on Monday. “Their main strategy is to destabilize the person, reduce his self-respect...

“Even in the penal system,” said Ms. Cohen, a veteran of more than 240 days in the rubber room, “they permit rehabilitation.”

Thursday, December 27, 2007

It's on like a Blog-a-thon

I've had this wonderful little idea for a series of posts that's been stuck in the back of my head for the last few weeks. It really stems from a complete frustration that it's the end of the year and I've neither seen enough movies or bought enough music to make my typical end of the year lists. It also stems from being disappointed in the lack of coverage of some of my favorite Christian recording artists, even by those who know something about Christian recording artists (of course, the word 'artist' is only tenuously applied here).

For a while I was thinking about doing a series of essays highlighting what I believe to be the best Albums by Christians that Rock (More on that phrasing later). I would soon follow that up by a best Albums by Christians that Folk (and Country) series and a best Albums by Christians that are Heads series. There would also probably be a miscellany thrown in there too (Black/White Gospel, Pop, Soundtrack, Veggie Tales cover, etc.), but you get the point.

But then an epiphany: Why not allow others to join in on the fun? So, if you're reading this, you've probably been invited. If you haven't, consider yourself invited. And if you don't have a blog by now, you might as well open one up just for this momentous occasion.

Now for the best part, the guidelines (not to be strictly enforced. But be aware that I do have ties to the mob):

1) It has to be an album (vinyl, cassette, CD, 8-track, whatever, the medium's not so important in this case - unless you want it to be) not just a song, and one that you do or did own and preferably listened to several times and can probably quote from memory.

2) It's an album put out by a self-professed Christian, or group of self-professed Christians, or from a band headed by a self-professed Christians. You do not have to agree with their particular worldview or brand of Christianity. They may never have been a believing Christian, they may have back-slidden, they may be arch-conservative or ultra-liberal, but they need to be a Christian by their own proclamations and their Christianity should, in some way, influence their music in much the same way that me being a Chicagoan affects my attitude and outlook (I'm so cold). (Note, the qualification is not if the group or performer is a Contemporary Christian Music artist or even remotely aligned with that tag.) So, although U2 and King's X and Danielson qualify, George Harrison and Bruce Springsteen and Evenescence do not.

3) That would mean, of course, that Carman and Stryper qualify. So, that brings us to our third guideline: It has to be of interest to you. You may do one on your favorite. You may do one on fond memories. You may do an expose. You may tell-all. In any case, it should inspire you to write something fairly original, something worth reading and writing.

4) And oh-so-important: It has to flippin' R.O.C.K.! Talkin' Led Zeppelin/Nirvana/Sex Pistols rock. Ok, maybe not necessarily. But save the other types of music (anything from Mark Heard to Sufjan Stevens to Michael W. Smith to Sam Cooke to M.C. Hammer) for another time. We're looking for face-melters / *alls-to-the-walls / Air-guitar-strumming / Butt-Head-tested, Beavis-approved / Let-your-Hendrix-Freak-Flag-Fly-All-Out / AC/DC Salute-worthy / Mosh Pit-ready rock. Roll is optional.

5) It should be an essay. Not a five paragraph essay, mind you. Not necessarily a one-pager, but a fair jaunt. Definitely not a blurb.

I think that's it. Blogger, WordPress, MySpace, your Space, it's all good FaceSpace. Yeah, you would need to post it next on something that goes up over that there internet contraption what's so popular these days.

Posts are going up next week to coincide with this whole end of the year thing (I hear that's the talk of the town). If you want to join in, hit me up and I'll link you in a round-up post.

The gauntlet has been thrown down, ladies. Who will bite the apple?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

News of the Weird - 4: Squirrels

From the You Know It's the End of the World When Files:

To the list of stories that were once weird but now occur with such frequency that they must be retired from circulation, we add: (87) the animal (often a squirrel) that blunders into equipment at an electrical substation, killing itself and knocking out power for thousands (as in Auburn, California, and Ironwood, Michigan, in November); and (88) the shoplifter who brings a child along on the job, then abandons him to flee from security officers (as 39-year-old Suzzette Gruber allegedly did to her eight-month-old son in Hartsdale, New York, in October).*

Note: I have no plans on taking Joss with me on such errands. So that's not so relevant.

But, whoa, did you hear that? Killer Kamikaze Squirrels? They're coming after us, from all angles. Including attacking our children in the open daylight.

According to a story by a Bay Area NBC affiliate, the cute little rodents are overly aggressive in a park in Mountain View, where six people have reportedly been attacked since May.

The city is trying to make sure people don't bring food into the children's play area at the park."I think it's our fault, because we made them aggressive," Carmen Perez of Palo Alto said. "Now it's dangerous and we have to do something." [Officials said the increasingly brazen behavior stems from years of being fed by park visitors.]

In response to attacks, the city of Mountain View has announced it plans to start trapping and killing the aggressive tree squirrels...

But, wait, it gets weirder.

Ironically, efforts to curb the behavior may have exacerbated the squirrels' aggressive tendencies, Muela said. This summer, the city installed new trash receptacles featuring metal tops with a latch that makes it nearly impossible for an animal to rummage through the can in search of food. Increased park ranger patrols and flier distributions cautioning against feeding the animals might have further cut the squirrels' food supply, prompting them to act more assertively in their quest for food.

But of course, some people are irate at the prospect of killing God's little fuzzy-tailed rats. One citizen, however, seems to fuel the fires of conspiracy theorists with his email:

"The squirrels will be back," South Bay wildlife rehabilitator Norma Campbell said. "For every one you take out, two more will come in. It could be a never-ending project that isn't going to accomplish anything."

Sound familiar anyone?

*Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird, Chicago Reader December 20, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

It's Christmas. Baby, Please Come Home.

Because of family obligations today, I wasn't able to attend church this morning. Nothing really new there. We (as a couple at least) have missed probably more than half the services since Joss was born. That's neither atypical nor criminal. But today was the last Sunday of Advent, the Sundays leading up to our celebration of the birth of our Savior and Lord, and I love sermons on the incarnation. I would have especially appreciated something from that lineage today, and more so because we are a part of a new church that tries to bridge the gap between the more ancient and modern worlds of the Body of Christ.

In any case though, the Advent Prayer for the week:

Today we relight the first three candles of the Advent Wreath — the candles of HOPE, PEACE and JOY.

Now we light the fourth candle of Advent. This is the candle of LOVE.

Jesus demonstrated self-giving love in his ministry as the Good Shepherd. Advent is a time for kindness, thinking of others, and sharing with others. It is a time to love as God loved us by giving us his most precious gift. As God is love, let us be love also.

In the Book of Deuteronomy we find these words:

“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
— Deuteronomy 10:17-19a

From the Gospel of John we hear:

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
— John 13:34-35

Let us pray:
Teach us to love, O Lord. May we always remember to put you first as we follow Christ’s footsteps, that we may know your love and show it in our lives. As we prepare for our celebration of Jesus’ birth, also fill our hearts with love for the world, that all may know your love and the one whom you have sent, your son, our Savior. Amen.

h/t to Scot McKnight, who I just completely stole this post from.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Go Jesus, It's Your Birthday

So, this is what the celebrations looked like in Bethlehem. I always pictured a stairway to heaven with angelic choral voices and whatnot.

Christmas in the Fifth Element of Hip Hop

h/t to Mark O from Youth Specialties (who I'm getting way too much good stuff from that I have not posted up, btw).

Also, since I have a more or less two week vacation starting last night, expect a heavier rotation.
Feliz Navidad

Saturday, December 08, 2007

News of the Weird - 3

File this one under The Blood of the Lamb Alcohol Levels:

In a November article in the Irish Times, priests voiced their concern about likely upcoming reductions in the legal blood-alcohol limit for drivers in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Thanks to a clergy shortage, many priests must perform multiple masses in multiple locations, and since the use of nonalcoholic sacramental wine has been barred y the Vatican, they fear that even drinking a minimal amount of wine at each service would put them over the limit while driving to their next assignment.
- Chuck Shepherd.

From the Irish Times itself:

"Perhaps it [celebrating a number of Masses] could be enough for you to fail a drink driving test, and while I don't like to use the word wine, as it is the precious blood in the Eucharist, it still has all the characteristics of wine when in the blood stream," said Fr D'Arcy.

But here's my question, under these new restrictions, will any Irish adults be able to drive?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

family portraits (according to Facebook)

By the way, in case you're wondering, that's a calculator in Nerdy Daddy's hand. Not a stiff one, which he admittedly could use every once in a while.

Friday, November 30, 2007

News of the Weird - 2

This from Chuck Shepherd's section in the Chicago Reader:

A new UK lottery game called "Cool Cash" was canceled earlier this month after less than a week of play because the arithmetic involved proved [to be] too difficult. Participants were required to compare a temperature visible on the game card to a second temperature hidden behind a scratch-off panel; if the second temperature was lower, the card was a winner.

Doesn't sound so hard yet, does it?

But in accordance with the game's winter theme, many of the temperatures were below zero, and officials said they received numerous complaints from players who couldn't understand why, for example, -5 wasn't lower than -6.

To quote directly from a blindsided victim that the Manchester Evening News interviewed:

On one of my cards it said I had to find temperatures lower than -8. The numbers I uncovered were -6 and -7 so I thought I had won, and so did the woman in the shop. But when she scanned the card the machine said I hadn't. I phoned Camelot and they fobbed me off with some story that -6 is higher - not lower - than -8 but I'm not having it. I think Camelot are giving people the wrong impression - the card doesn't say to look for a colder or warmer temperature, it says to look for a higher or lower number. Six is a lower number than 8. Imagine how many people have been misled.

And this is in the United Kingdom? God bless the Queen.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Comin' of the Cousin

Joss was first. I don't mean that to sound territorial. She just was. She was (obviously), the first child in our little family. But she is also the first grandchild. And thus spoiled.

Now, some of us gotta share our love. And that's quite all right and fits in neatly with our Christianity.

We are eagerly awaiting (on pins and needles... so to say) the birth of li'l Chloe, Joss's first cousin (although she's met and made many friends already who we expect to remain life-long friends and fam).

Look forward to sharing pix (esp if we can get some of the two of 'em together. Double your pleasure with Doublemint Dyes) and news.

7 lbs., 5 ozs. Got the call at 9:55 pm, CST.
They're in north Jersey.
Poor daddy sounded tired. I know for sure that mama was too.
Hopefully, we can post something up by the weekend.
I'm so excited!

Monday, November 26, 2007

War is Hell. Football is Forever*

One of the best places to get sports news is The Onion. It's one of the fresher spots in that periodical nowadays, and actually takes the issue of sports seriously, while still skewering modern American culture and being genuinely funny. Case in point:

U.S. Military Wasting All Its Victories On Notre Dame

"It's important to realize that our young men have been fighting pitched battles against religious fanatics who have been brainwashed into a culture that seeks to destroy all other ways of life," Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun said Monday. "That's just the way Notre Dame football is, the way it's always been. You can't reason with people like that. You destroy them as completely, remorselessly, and quickly as you can."

In other football-related news, the Bears came from behind yesterday to beat the Broncos in overtime. So, with a win over the Giants next weekend, we're still [hardly] in the playoff picture.

And, finally, in my fantasy football leagues (where I merely pretend to do something football-related), I will not, repeat, will not cease to suck. Adrian Peterson, I could've used another miracle.

*Patton. I swear.

Friday, November 23, 2007

What's Been Going On?

  • Y'know, it's impossible to live on a budget when you don't have any idea of how much money you're going to take home in a given week.
  • I'm really upset (still) about my last job. I felt I was mislead and that my loyalty was not returned. Loyalty in the workforce (unless you work for the New England Patriots) not only seems to be ignored, but punished as well. Another family member was recently laid off as his company is in the process of cutting corners (something my employer is always doing), even though he turned down a better job offer (much closer to home, better salary) to remain with that place. It was a tough day before he found out that the other offer was still waiting for him. I turned down offers (directly and indirectly), believing that something bigger was waiting for me at my last place. It wasn't. I was and am hurt. I hope that my gravy train will be coming in soon though.
  • One positive effect is that I've had more time to spend with Joss (more on that later) and the Mrs. Both of whom I am crazy about. The commute was never nice to me and now I usually get to see them a bit more before and definitely after work (often Joss would be in bed or preparing for bed when I got home). Some days I spend the whole day with them.
  • Today I took a four hour nap. I needed that.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Weird News of tWeek

It would not surprise that the biggest bureaucracy in the world would try some tricks that Wal-Mart has perfected (even if Wal-Mart didn't originate them):

After 2,600 member of Minnesota's National Guard completed the longest deployment served by any ground combat unit - 22 months, including an extension for the summer "surge" - nearly half of them found they didn't qualify for... [the GI Bill. The Bill] provides [federal education] benefits to any serviceperson on active duty for 730 days, but according to numerous local news accounts in October, the written orders for 1,162 guard members specified a tour lasting only 729.

editor's note: The local alt-weekly The Reader is a great read. If I manage to consume no other literary piece during the week, you can always bet that I've all but devoured this little bag of goodies by early Saturday. This little tidbit (and hopefully some other future filler) was lifted from a section tucked away in their classifieds called News of the Weird, or something like that. I believe an earlier entry was also taken from there. So, hopefully I can do this on a weekly basis, if nothing else.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The end of a week and a half with my family. We were looking forward to these days for a good while. Because our baby is sooooo cute.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Jena 6 and Rutgers

I've not written about this before because I did not want to add to the noise. But I believe that this nation is not being very reflective of its identity and problematic racial relations.

Let's get one thing straight. The US has - for hundreds of years, much longer than it's been an independent nation - profited extensively from racist (as well as classist, no doubt, but we'll focus on race in particular here) strategies, deployments, ways of life and economies. The classically Anglo supra-culture of the US has been towering and lording over the Others in order to be towers and lords, whether that Others may be defined in ethnic terms (as in non-Anglo Europeans) or strictly racial terms (the dark-skinned people of Asia, Africa and the Americas). Slavery and subjugation for advantages is not, of course, relegated to the White man. It's a part of human nature, and not just limited to the English or Western European culture.

Alas, but, Western European culture (and in no small part thanks to the writings of Machiavelli) is best at subjugation for profit and has had the ownership of much of the suffering in the world for these last several hundred years. Although one may look at the present carnage of, say, a Rwanda or a Liberia or an Afghanistan or a Darfur and exclaim that that situation is Black-on-Black violence, the troubling account for us White people is that we have 1) exasperated any ethnic or tribal battles by raping the country for valuable 'goods' and leaving the natives in more desperate need than before we arrived, 2) expanded any tribal warfare by lending, buying, selling war machines to totalitarian warmongers (Lords of War) and 3) created ethnic and tribal warfare that was never there in the first place in order to create an environment suitable for the colonists raping, pillaging and subjugating of the country.

So, this series that I hope to do is written partly out of frustration with how Whites are now backlashing against the so-called "Politically Correct climate" of our nation that won't - seemingly - allow them to speak about race in any meaningful or engaging way (because most of us have not walked a mile in a non-White's person's shoes) or to even ask the questions that tug at their hearts, that may be considered rude, arrogant or ignorant but indeed need to be brought to the light in order that this country can begin to heal itself.

There won't be enough time to deal with anything more than an iceberg, but here are some stories that I'd love to at least touch on:

A professor who questions the academic and racial merits of athletic scholarships at top NCAA schools, such as his own Rutgers (and remember the Imus flap? Are they related? Only tenuously, methinks.) He is later called a racist by his own athletic director.

The painfully slow increase in minority (and female) headship in pro sports, an arena dominated by multi-millionaire Blacks and Latinos, yet almost exclusively run by multi-billionaire white males, with fewer people-of-color the higher you go. And what is more damaging (hey, I'm not crying over millionaires here) is how this affects the mindset of lower-class African American males.

And yes, the Jena 6.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Holy Alfonso Cow!

Against our wildest dreams, the Chi-town Northsiders (who are rumored to pick up A-Rod next year for something like a minority stake in the business {Don't do it, Alex. It's a trap. Watch what happens to the poor guys working the Tribune Tower in about four years.}) clinched the National League Central.

Now, the ol' NL C just ain't she used to be, but post-season is post-season, sister.

A-one, A-two, A-three...
No, that's not a pic of a North Korean despot.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Doubt and Imprisonment

It may be a while before I can settle down enough to actually get to blogging again on any sort of regular basis, but I thought these somewhat interrelated pieces interesting.

Firstly, the Saint of Calcutta and the "utter darkness" that she felt most of her life. I've always thought it strange, personally, that people would put so much emphasis on this 'feeling' of God, as in during those moments that they do not sense God's presence it's almost as if he's abandoned them. I've rarely, if ever felt God's presence in my life - certainly not in some sort of otherworldly or light-ish way. If I have, it's been through the touch of another, through the warmth of another, through the otherworldly and/or euphoric state that music can put me into (esp. Black Gospel music), or a particular state and time of peace. But I wrestled more with, I suppose, intellectual doubts than emotional doubts.

Not that I'm an intellectual or stoic; it's just that I've never relied on that stage that much, nor found it abundantly in the narratives of the Bible (well, with notable exceptions such as Jesus on the Hill of the Skull and David in a few of his psalms). Part of the truth may be that I was raised in a fundamentalist church, which being more Enlightenment than we would like to admit, was highly suspect of emotional displays of spirituality. (Truth be told, although my range has immensely broadened lately of what would be considered right and wrong within the Body of the Church, I'm still a bit off-put by what I would consider extreme theatrics - not the wave your hands in the air type, but perhaps the falling out/slap you with the Holy Ghost type. It's something that I think that I need to learn to fully respect and whole-heartedly love those who do honestly love the Lord and seek to follow him in their understanding).

Nevertheless, I do feel for the likes of Mother Theresa, people who have abandoned the Babylons of their fathers to traverse the unfriendly globe and land in the Canaan home that is not their own for God, only not to hear back from God for many, many years. Those who have acted out a Kierkegaardian and Sampsonian leap of faith only to find themselves in a cesspool of humanity at its most inhumane.

I think that Scot McKnight has some good things to say about this "darkness" (not fully reassuring, which is good, as how could it answer all of our questions?) in his series on Theresa, culminating with this article on his own hypothesis. It's worth the short read (and written with more authority and clarity than my little trifle here).

Secondly, some snippets from the educational philosopher Paulo Freire, whose manifesto A Pedagogy of the Oppressed I will quote from here (chptr. 1) was written, fittingly, in the 60's. This reminds me so much of what King was saying. Only this time, it's in Portugese:

[T]he oppressed must not in seeking to regain their humanity..., become in turn oppressors of the oppressors, but rather restorers of the humanity of both.

This, then, is the great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed: to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well. The oppressors, who oppress, exploit, and rape by virtue of their power; cannot find in this power the strength to liberate either the oppressed or themselves. Only power that springs from the weakness of the oppressed will be sufficiently strong to free both. Any attempt to “soften” the power of the oppressor in deference to the weakness of the oppressed almost always manifests itself in the form of false generosity; indeed, the attempt never goes beyond this. In order to have the continued opportunity to express their “generosity,” the oppressors must perpetuate injustice as well....

But almost always, during the initial stage of the struggle, the oppressed, instead of striving for liberation, tend themselves to become oppressors, or “sub-oppressors.” The very structure of their thought has been conditioned by the contradictions of the concrete, existential situation by which they were shaped. Their ideal is to be men; but for them, to be men is to be oppressors. This is their model of humanity.

Aarrrghhh! Why can't it be so much easier?!? Why can't we just say a magic word and release the prisoners? Why can't I be released and release others with me through just temporary willpower?

Well, if I desire heaven's footprints on earth, better get to workin'.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Readings, Get your fix o' Readings Right Here!

First off, I am so proud of myself. I finally finished a good big book. That's right: Richard Scarry's Big Book of Bestest Storybook Ever. Started it in second grade; was never able to put it down or get past those funny images. And, did I mention, it is really big.

Taylor Branch wrote at least one supreme masterpiece of non-fiction (what other type of fiction is there?) in Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-65.* I think that The Boston Globe was very adeptly accurate in calling it "Jet-propelled history."

The second-of-three on the America in the King Years trilogy (the first being the Pulitzer Prize winning Parting of the Waters and the last being the more recent At Canaan's Edge, neither of which I've read, yet), the series is not so much a biography on Martin Luther King, Jr. as a tour-de-force lens on reading the U.S. through the focal point of King. The historic March on Washington gets but one paragraph, and much of that focuses on Malcolm X and other leaders. Only a few passing notes are made on the "I Have a Dream" speech. In this 600 page tome, Branch has less-famous fish to fry.

Two of the most captivating and central figures in the book are Vice- and then President Lyndon B. Johnson and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee's torn and born leader Bob Moses.


Other intriguing giants in this land include King's right-hand man Ralph Abernathy, the entrenched and fearful state of Mississippi, the austerely beautiful and strong Fannie Lou Hamer, the arch-conservative self-bureaucrat J. Edgar Hoover, Barry Goldwater, the presidential candidate who turned the Republican Party against the Legacy of Lincoln, J.F. and R.F. Kennedy, the NAACP and the NCC, Elijah Muhammad and his tight and violent grip on the Nation of Islam and its defactors, the New York Times and the press, the extreme activists within King's SCLC Diane Bevel Nash and her husband James Bevel, the ingenious and tragic Mississippi Freedom Democracy Party, the aforementioned Malcolm X, the four girls in that church in Birmingham, and haunted and neglected leader Lawrence Guyot.

I want to do a series of essays on this book. It's just that profound. I can't get it out of my head.

Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. Shhhh... I'm very secretly working on a book right now. I want to say a lot more about it, but it's about half the way to the point where I can even show parts of it. And maybe about 1/6th through to where I feel it can be published as a work, if I'm good and continue at it. Lamott was always one of those dry and just slightly eccentric left-of-center witty-izers who I admired from a distance. This book on writing is like taking an MFA class with her. Except that by only paying $11, I don't feel the guilt of not having spent my money wisely unless I write a billion pages a day. And really, who has time to write when you're reading all day?

Sports Illustrated. Because somehow, I let myself get talked into two pick-em leagues and one fantasy football league. And we. don't. actually. watch. t.v.

Contemporary Issues in Curriculum: Fourth Edition, ed. by Ornstein, Pajak, and Ornstein. There's no hiding it. It's probably the most boring $80 I've spent recently. There's 20 hours I'll probably never get back!

*BTW, notice that Amazon is selling it for 6.5 USD? Scoop up your copy NOW.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dear Faculty of Davidson H.S. in Ohio:

One of your students executed an elaborate and rather divisive prank against long-standing and cross-town rival Darby High. I think the whole world should see this offensive behavior and let you be put to shame for the pithy actions you've done in regards to this embarrassing joke.

I say it is a true, undermining shame that you have merely and temporarily suspended young Mr. Garchar for this scheme. I must ask you, Principal Bandow, in all sincerity: Have you no sense of humor? Where is your funny-bone?

You should be having ticker-tape parades for the young man. He should be raised on a chair held aloft by the and cheered on by the entire student population, past and present. He should be immortalized in bronze in front of the school and in several city parks. Cheerleaders and brainiacs alike should be fighting over who will carry his books to class. Teachers should treat his name with the reverence reserved for the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln or Copernicus or Albert Einstein.

He single-handedly (supposedly) did for your school what the football team didn't. Make it feel good.

Monday, August 27, 2007

In memo-rium of fallen, Medal-of-Freedomers

Long-time Chief of Staff and candidly-open Karl Rove is out of the White House? Oh, no! What will patriotic, American flag-waving, Jesus friends do now? Who can we turn to in our moment of dire need? It's a good thing Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez is still around to defend our liberties from terrible terrorists who want to spy on us without restraint and thwart our federal justice system.

Oh, nuts! And now G-man-Gonzalez is gone, too? It's all too 1984 for me...

You see Mr. Freedom Eagle is getting all teary-eyed?

Good thing that Dick Cheney's still around.

And motorcycle Jesus. Apparently, he'll never leave us. (h/t to Jeffrey Overstreet)
Oh, I didn't even notice this. Thanks to for pointing this out. But the Jesus Action figure that says "I am Peace" is him as a dove-holding soldier, with a semi-automatic underneath his robe.

It's quite moving... Jesus willing to kill so that he can save us from those terrorists over there...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Updates, updates, Read all about 'em!!

The baby picture sites (Flickr and Picasa) have finally been uploaded with pix of the family. Included are grandparents (including Grandpa and Granny Fronz), great-grandparents (both Grandmoozle Mary and 'Ita Rosa as well as a napper-snapper of Lo-lo Luis), uncles (The Uncle Jeff and the too-enthused Uncle Brian and Unkie Chunkie) and, finally, some decent ones of Momma with the baby. My big ol' crusty face (and bushel of curly hair) is there too.

For some strange reason, there's no auntie pix, at least not digitally.

There's also more head shots of the little one. Who, by the way, is still very healthy, even as she's been battling a bit of a head cold, heat rash and really, really stuffed nose.

The other, and much-related news is that we're going to transfer much of this baby-related stuff to a joint blogsite, name TBD. (EDIT: It's called The Family DYEgest. Get it? It's a pun - put together by mommy [I don't really do puns. So much]. Because we're overly concerned about what and how she eats.) Somewhat because I promised myself I wouldn't tell any poop-stories or jokes on this site. And I want to remain a man of integrity. EDITEDIT (I made a mistake in the link there. It's fixed now. Don't ask. Don't tell.)

On another, related note, congratulations to new members of the blogosphere, the Gotzi - or Gotzes, not sure which of the two. They just moved into Virginia (ironically, my brother and his expectant wife are just on the verge of relocating from VB, VA and the Navy. And not a moment too soon I might add. Of course, moving into Noo Joisey is a bit of into the frying pan, but still...) and have got the coolest/weirdest masthead for a blogspot I've seen. Their site is, with a current track of what their cat kills/eats/fiddles with, presumably.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Enjoy the bandwagon while it lasts...

I'm sorry to disappoint, but the Cubbies are trying to re-stake their claim to actually having a snowball's chance in Chicago's August. I'm not sure I'm willing to jump on board this time. I'm a - get ready for it - fair-weather Cub's fan. Yeah. There. I said it. I don't regret it.

Too many years of sorrow and managerial neglect. Not enough up's to go with the down's. And when they do blow an up, they find a poor ol' Billy Scape Goat. Or a Bartman.

And if you think that the management's little diplomacy trick this off-season of signing huge contracts would sate me: nope. Or the fact that they will be sold this next off-season. Again. Nope.

But since nothing else is happening now (no, Bears preseason doesn't count)...

Go Cubbies!

Oops, wrong team. O well, at least he was focused.
Wait, what do you mean he's not on the team anymore?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Happy Days Are Here Again

Suicide rates in the US Army are at a high. A 26 year high. That's since shortly after Vietnam, early in the Reagan years, during the height of the Cold War.

That's when I was in school, learning to jump underneath my desk to protect me from the almost inevitable nuclear blast and its radioactive after-effects.

Last year, there was "a significant relationship between suicide attempts and the number of days deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan or nearby countries where troops were participating in the war effort," according to the Washington Post article.

Now, only a quarter of the suicides (about 100 in all) were of those deployed in Iraq. But still, the growing strains this is taking on our military, our troops, our economy (the cost is gAstronomically high to maintain this effort), not to mention the cost we've battered on the Iraqis... I just think it all adds up to one enumeration:

Get our troops out now!

But, that's just my opinion. (How about Iraqi bloggers? They have opinions. too, interestingly enough.)

You know, despite all the hoopla, I was just not caring either for or against President Hugo Chavez. In some respects, honestly, I at least admired his chutzpah, standing up against big oil consumerist America while selling it big oil.

But this new call to end term-limits for Venezuelan presidents is... familiar. Like I've heard these words before: "It's not that I want to enthrone myself"... "This is a transfer of power to the people"... private property owners risked confiscation if their operations "damaged" communities... Critics charge that by creating federal districts and giving new power to the communal councils, the populist president seeks to bypass governors and mayors and extend his personal power.

Yeah, Cuba and China all over again. Not to mention countless Central American and African despot rulers who started out with similar people-based promises.

Thank God this one's rule is over in eight years.

Idjits. Gotta love 'em. And their vote.

In The Know: Candidates Compete For Vital Idgit Vote

Thursday, August 09, 2007

More pix

Awe is more than emotion. It is a way of understanding insight into a meaning greater than ourselves. The beginning of awe is wonder, and the beginning of wisdom is awe... Man may forfeit his sense of the ineffable. To be alive is a commonplace, the sense of radical amazement is gone... Deprived of the ability to praise, modern man is forced to look for entertainment, entertainment is becoming compulsory.
Rabbi Abraham Heschel
Stanford University, 1963
from Pillar of Fire, Taylor Branch

As you may note, there are more pictures. And I took more liberties playing around with the images (you might see why I dropped out of art school [not to be confused with Art Ruch]).

Enjoy! She's a doll (if I do say so myself).

P.S. Over the Rhine is now streaming their entire new album at Go, listen, enjoy. If nothing else, it'll make for a great soundtrack while you view and read this blog.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Just Say "Wait"

Gene Edward Veith of World Magazine asks why, statistically speaking at the least, Evangelical Christian teens are more sexually active (and at a younger age) than non-Evangelical teens are. (And World Magazine being a conservative, Republican-based, Classics-themed mag, some of his language, phrasing and solutions are not up to PC-code. Sorry if that embarrasses anyone.)

But what really got my attention (and my ears burning) was at the end:

[T]he Bible does offer a direct solution for people who are burning in lust: marriage (1 Corinthians 7:9). Adolescence—that time when a person is physically an adult but socially a child—is a modern invention. In the past, people married much younger, as soon as they were sexually ready. Today's culture postpones marriage while stretching celibacy to the breaking point.

A counter-cultural church may do well to encourage younger marriages. The young couple may still need the financial support of their parents and the social support of their fellow Christians. But this would be better than the current hypocrisy and guilt. And it would fulfill God's positive purpose for sexuality.

I know I have a few problems with this possible solution. But what should be taken seriously is this idea of the cataclysmic void era. I too believe that sex is really only viable within the marriage union, and that teenagers daily confront sex urges, not just from advertisements and general cultural signposts - which only serve to confuse them further -but from their very God-created bodies.

I also applaud Veith in not buying the standard Evangelical line, that "True Love Waits" and celibacy programs work. As he (and Lauren Winner in her marvelous book, Real Sex) notes, the effects of these campaigns are only short-lived and only temporarily delay what GNR and GEV may both call an appetite for destruction. Although self-control is certainly a good thing, it is often neglected. And even so, calls to self-control are often no more effective in the sexual area than in the peer-pressure area (remember "Just Say No"?).

On second thought, sometimes it is pretty effective...

So, maybe this is asking for too much, but I'd like to see what people think. Post your thoughts.

Letter to the Editor

Re: Strollers send some into a rolling rage:

Having seen what my pregnant wife went through riding the CTA [Chicago Transit Authority] to and from work, the antagonistic (and bullish) tone of the replies in Tuesday's article doesn't surprise me - only frustrates. After all, if the only passengers who give up their seats for someone in their third trimester tend to be little old ladies, why wouldn't Rush Hour [sic, oops!] patrons be so exasperated at the site of mothers
and children using up precious space? After all, it has to be phenomenally easy for a singular parent to wheel their infant in through a jammed bus, find available seating, unstrap their child from the restraints, place them in the CTA's infant restraint seats (while praying the bus ride itself won't give the child whiplash), and folding down and disposing of the stroller.

But what I also sense is a case of classism. Many of the parents who ride on the bus or train with their infants are riding the bus not to get downtown to their relatively high-paying jobs, or to get to Wrigleyville to scope out the scene or whatnot, but to effectively get around. They use the CTA and not a car with adequate child-restraint seats because they cannot afford to own a car. For them, the CTA is a lifeline, inconvenience or not.

Jason Dye
Logan Square

Sunday, August 05, 2007

"PC Load Letter? What the **** does that mean?"

Printers are like cigarettes?

Bad printers, bad!

You know what this means:

I say, die, mother-loader, die!

H/T to Relevant for the news and movie combo and this guy for the image

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Further proof that Stevie Wonder is blind

The classic "Isn't She Lovely" centers around this opening:

Isn't she lovely?
Isn't she beautiful?
Isn't she precious,
Less than one minute old
It's a wonderful song and a good sentiment, I'm sure, but no baby is lovely at that period. That is the ugly period.

Not to say that she wouldn't be precious...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Thirty verses for my favorite 30 year old *

Proverbs 31:10 A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds.

11 Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it.

13 She shops around for the best yarns and (papers), and enjoys (throwing fun birthday parties).

15 She's up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her (daughter. And occasionally her husband - like on Father's Day).

20 She's quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor.

26 When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly.

27 She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive. (Well, sometimes it works!)

28 Her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise:

29 "Many women have done wonderful things, but you've outclassed them all!"

30 Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.

31 Give her everything she deserves! Festoon her life with praises!

Proverbs 2:2 Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom; set your heart on a life of Understanding.

10 Lady Wisdom will be your close friend, and Brother Knowledge your pleasant companion.

I Corinthians 13:1 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

2 If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing.

3 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.

4 Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, Doesn't have a swelled head,

5 Doesn't force itself on others, Isn't always "me first," Doesn't fly off the handle, Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,

6 Doesn't revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,

7 Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.

8 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit.

9 We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete.

10 But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

11 When I was an infant at my mother's breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

12 We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

13 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

I John 4:7 Let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God.

8 ... God is love.

Song of Songs 1:2 Kiss me, full on the mouth! Yes! For your love is sweeter than wine.

3 ... The syllables of your name murmur like a meadow brook. No wonder everyone loves to say your name!

2:4 He took me home with him for a festive meal, but his eyes feasted on me!

* Ok, if I did my addition right, it's 31. So, sue me. On second thought, in this heavily litigious day and age, strike that from the record.

All scripture is from The Message translation of the Bible.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pictures, so many pictures...

I'll try out Flickr in a little while, but for now, Picasa should do, eh?

To get the album of Jocelyn during her first week, click here.

And if you prefer Flickr, click here (

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Cause someone around here has to sleep all day

and get fed for doing nothing... (says the summer vacation teacher daddy)
The little one is Jocelyn. Welcome, little baby.

Update I:
I'm going to try to keep as many people updated as I can about our baby and her condition(s) as I can, so I may be a little lagging in the info department here at times.
Our little miss chubby cheeks is hooked up to the oxygen tube here (and some other gadgets and vials) because she had some trouble breathing, she had/has some discoloration issues going on (at times looking like a little Smurfette, which is not as cute as it sounds, Jossie being human and all), and she was throwing up some mean stuff. So, she's on antibiotics and she may remain at the hospital for another week. Hopefully, nothing worse is happening, but the staff is constantly checking up on her and monitoring her and everything.

Today, she had another tube going down into her mouth, and the staff has been directed to not feed her for awhile.

And it's difficult being in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit and seeing our relatively healthy and full-term baby and not feeling a little 'wowwed'. And we are grateful. We can, for instance, hold her. But it also hurts deeply to see our little precious one in all these tubes and crying out of frustration, a very hurt cry.

We ask and hold on to your prayers. Thank you.

Update II:

Mama and I are traveling a lot between here and there now. We can say that based on this evening's visit, our little pumpkin-head is doing so much better. She still has an infection (around the lungs, I believe), but everything else seems to be working fine and on-schedule for development (sounds like a project, eh?).

Still, we miss her here and long for the time to bring her home and hold her w/o worrying about popping off a tube or something.

Update III (July 20th):

On my way to an important (and always frustrating) teacher's fair, so I'll be quick.

Baby's doing well enough to allow her into a private room, which means that mama and/or I will have to be with her consistently until she's released (probably Tuesday, maybe slightly later). Which is terrific because mama's in recovery mode and shouldn't be doing so much traveling anyway. It also means that we may get to have a few more visitors. But, please, wipe your hands and blow your snotty noses before ya come in! (*wink*)

She's a feisty one, kinda like her mama, she even furrows her little and wide forehead like her beautiful mama.

Hopefully, I can get some pix of her and mama all cuddled up. They were running the tests on her when I came in this morning, so she was busy crying, which meant that she had the little eye-boogers on her (Joss, not Jen). Not the most photogenic, but I didn't have our cam w/ us anyhow. I'll have to steal Jen's. Jen's much more photogenic than me, but she's still cam shy. Yet how can you NOT look good cuddling next to that precious little pumpkin-head? She even makes me look good!

Update IV (July 21st):

So much I want to say, so little time. But since pictures are worth a thousand words...

Notice what's missing.
Mama and I are a little concerned about some blockage in the nasal passages, but she's off the O2 tubes, among other things.

One of the rare, valuable shots featuring the recovering mama. She's cute.

A really old picture of Jocelyn.

She's got large, spider-monkey feet.
The good news is, this is one of only two tubes left on her as of last night.

Yes, I know. We're planning an intervention.

I want to thank AJ and Therese for coming by yesterday and taking five million great pictures. (The first two pictures were courtesy Gramps Fronz and Jennie, both via the brilliant photographic capabilities of the Virgin Slver). Of course, I also want to thank Granny Fronz for exquisitely helping Jennie and the baby during the afternoon transitional period, and for Unky Chunky for coming by and bestowing his blessing on the other side of the pregnancy (Btw, Jocelyn is the first grandchild for both of our parents and obviously the first niece/nephew for our kin, so congrats to them too).

I also want to thank friends and family for their prayers, care and concern and stopping by here regularly for updates and images. I think our biggest areas of concern left are just in this transitional period (bringing her home w/o a boatload of expert staff at our every available whim for our slightest scare) and any concerns that we may/will most likely have in terms of insurance and payment.

Update V [The next one will be called Update Balboa] (July 22nd):

Not much to say. Or at least, not enough time to say it (promised Jennie I'd be back soon). But I will mention that we got news last night that we may be able to go home as early as tomorrow, Monday. She's eating well, but all of our hopes of putting her on some sort of schedule (and feeding straight from the source) seem to be flying out the window right now. O well, she's in a constant state of flux right now. We'll get it together soon and she'll pull herself up by her li'l booty straps before you know it. (You can tell I used to be a Republican?)

A picture I've been waiting to take for a while.
Don't know about you, but it makes me smile.

Update VI: A New Hope

We're still not home, after hoping to be released earlier today (although good news may come along at any given moment, I doubt they'll release us within the day). But Joss is doing well. She kept mama up all night (which I understand is perfectly normal for newborns and teenagers alike). She's also actually gained weight since birth (2 oz's. This just after we were told that she lost all-told two ounces since birth. That's a gain of like 4 ounces in one or two days. Just like her fat daddy!) - usually the babies drop that weight in the first week since they're padded with extra protection for that necessary sleep time. But at this point, we're just playing it safe. She drinks almost two ounces (the magic number, apparently) on average every three hours.

I've got more errands to do (including a trip to UPS on the other edge of town, if I can). So, I'll talk more later.

Update VII: Return of the Jossi (July 24th)

The moment we've all bee waiting for. The end of Jabba the Hut and the final confrontation with Darth V....

Sorry, wrong dramatic sequence.

I gotta go. My baby (and Jennie and myself) are coming home!

Update VIII: The Quest for Freedom (July 25th)

Look, colors!

I'm gonna clean up and feed my baby. Thanks for all your concerns, calls, texts, emails, prayers, etc.

Update IX (Jossie in Space).

We took little Joss to her first post-release doctor visit. She's not only fine, she's great. The doctor was thinking that she wasn't necessarily sick, but just threw up some milk (either mama's or the similac type stuff). Her little body (over?)reacted to defend itself and the hospital staff (overre?)acted in accordance to their policies to help the baby defend herself. But, honestly, I'm not knocking anybody. Better safe than sorry.

She's also actually gained weight already. And she's very peaceful. She can cry to stop a train, but generally speaking, she sleeps a lot, eats a lot, and poops occasionally.

BTW, I've been checking out the sitemeter to see who is interested in the news about our precious little bundle, only to find that a large contingency of international people who have visited (like, four of the ten) recently came for some insight (which I highly doubt they received) on biting beetles.

Is there something going on that I'm not aware of? (Zombie Roaches?)

Update X (The Papa Decree)

OK, and for those who just can't get enough Joss (I'm talking to you, family), we've got Flickr and Picassa slideshows above. You can get and copy pictures, I believe, just by clicking on the images.

Peace out.