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Archive for September, 2007

In the mid-1990s, the Times of London flogged a very cool disk-per-week club that was everything eclectic can mean. One of those CDs was entitled Great Film Themes and included music from the likes of Also Sprach Zarathustra, Back to the Future, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Brief Encounters, Chariots of Fire, Goldfinger, Raging Bull, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Jurassic Park, Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, Doctor Zhivago, and Henry V. (more…)

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If Maestro John Nelson did not exist, he would have to be invented as a matter of the highest artistic urgency. How else would the rest of us become acquainted with the new or little-known music that is so often recorded under his baton?

Take, for example, the Polish composer Henry Mikolaj Gorecki’s ‘Beatus Vir’, ‘Totus Tuus’, and Old Polish Music. The first of these are newer creations of a very Catholic Poland, redolent of biblical and Roman Catholic piety embedded in the brooding harmonies of Old Poland. (more…)

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Oliver Stone’s brilliant 1986 film on the grunt’s war in Vietnam had a lot to work with: a controversial subject well placed for dramatic effect, brilliant acting from his three leads (Dafoe, Berenger, and, yes, even Sheen), some stunning visual images (more on this in a moment), and the superb employment of Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. The result is a movie that must rank in the top three of the 1980s and, to boot, one that is impossible to characterize cleanly as an anti-war movie (No one will suspect it of being pro-war.) (more…)

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In the mid-nineties, London’s Sunday Times ran an excellent CD club with the most eclectic offerings imaginable. One of them was Girlie Pop, which presented hits by a larval-stage Madonna, P.P. Arnold, Marilyn Monroe, The Shangri-Las, The Dixie Cups, Betty Everett, Maria Muldaur, Lesley Gorre, Fontella Bass, The Shirelles, and Lulu. (more…)

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This album is for Jaci Velasquez an extraordinary achievement. In it she emerges from the status of a managed star-in-the-making to that of a young woman who really sings. Mi Corazón uses the hit ‘Como se cura una herida’ as its title track, giving Jaci an opportunity to hint at things to come. (more…)

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The moral architecture of the book of Isaiah is one of its sustaining threads, holding together deep complexity by the persistence of a singular theme. With its recurrent promise that ‘YHWH alone shall be exalted on that day’, the book establishes that when things are as they should be, YHWH is lifted up and all his creatures stand below him in proper submission. Indeed, chapter six’s vision tells us that the view from the heavenly throne room is just this way. Only matters on earth have gone temporarily akilter. (more…)

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YHWH’s proximity is an inconvenient wealth.

The Lord’s covenanting labors with Israel in the desert before Sinai are paradigmatic of the demanding consolation that his presence brings to a people with whom he chooses to live in close quarters. Rightfully, the Israelites of the Exodus narrative have a difficult time deciding whether this is precisely what they wanted. (more…)

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Ryan Ahlwardt’s deep roots in four-part men’s music down at Indiana University show up even in a thoughtful-pop album like I Can See Forever. It’s there in the capacity and control of his voice even when it flits near the limits of his natural range. (more…)

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This year I initiated an HSA with a high deductible insurance policy and an FSA. I threw myself into this particular lunacy on the grounds of liking the idea of people taking responsibilty for something that costs society (you ‘n me) as much as medical care does. I’m still glad I did, but man does it get complex! (more…)

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Publications like Bicycling practically define narrow-casting. Aimed at a modest population that throbs with interest in their shared pursuit, a magazine like this one has to meet elevated expectations and yet recruit enough advertisers to pay the bottom line and maintain an accessible price.

The result is almost doomed to be something of a hybrid. (more…)

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