The Sun White Citrus Collection

Mountains & Deserts

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Recovery of Hope Visualized

Magnificat sent me this amazing replication of the Christ child. Enjoy it's pure radiance and beauty. Have a Blessed, Merry Christmas!

My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with His arm:

He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich He has sent empty away.
He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy;
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity forever.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
LK 1: 46-55

Lord, in this holy season of prayer and song and laughter, we praise you for the great wonders you have sent us: for shining star and angel's song, for infant's cry in lowly manger. We praise you for the Word made flesh in a little Child. We behold his glory, and are bathed in its radiance.

Be with us as we sing the ironies of Christmas, the incomprehensible comprehended, the poetry made hard fact, the helpless Babe who cracks the world asunder. We kneel before you shepherds, innkeepers, wise men. Help us to rise bigger than we are. Amen.

The Recovery of Hope Visuals

Thanks and many prayers for Fr. Nassal C.PP.S. and his Advent retreat special this month. The Holy Spirit is working through you and your offerings have inspired us all. I sincerely hope that your ministry in Berkeley continues to transform and heal those in need.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Being Thankful

Taking a moment to recognize where Thanksgiving Day is truly celebrated—

Perhaps the World Ends Here 
by Joy Harjo

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.
The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.
We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.
It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.
Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.
Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.
We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.
Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.
Copyright © 1994 by Joy Harjo. Used by permission of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.,

— while always being thankful for a long-cherished tradition that celebrates unique ways of living…. in Eucharist, for family,


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Twenty Years After

I remember it relatively well even though I was just a pimply-faced kid not too far removed from high school. My educational pursuits were on an eighties slow-burn template, and factory work was the popular thing to be into. Or maybe it was simply the opportunity to own up to the popular phrase "get a job". Of course, my high school buddies worked there too, and assembly line culture had it's moments despite the fact that I wasn't really cognizant of Solidarity. Despite this working class foray, I had a mild interest in socio-political events. TV, print-news, and radio were the media trifecta influence at the time, and I remember a lot of presidential speeches and video clips from abroad. I can vaguely remember a number of feeble attempts to make connections between faith and politics… though I wasn’t well versed in one or the other (due to my biased analysis of political "de-volution" in a divided USA).

Perhaps my understanding of the event was influenced more by a declaration for new forms of protest music and twenty-something selfish independence, rather than a willingness to understand the particulars of a foreign culture. One doesn’t have to look too far back. Do you remember the aggressive reactions in the mid to late 1980’s? The glorification of post-punk / culture in direct reaction to the Reagan administration?

Today, we all recognize how profound this event has become…. how much We- as a collective society- have learned from it. Considered one of the most important events of modern history, November 9th marks the 20th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

I’m certain there will be many new informative- "intelligentsia" media reports in the next few weeks. If you find one inspiring please share it!

Against the Grain
Not surprising, our prolific Ratzinger Fan Club quickly responds with some interesting links. A cool site.. no doubt.

Pope John Paul II Encyclical Centesimus Annus (The Hundredth Year-Chapter 2)

Russell Shaw (OSV): Pope John Paul II and the toppling of the Berlin Wall
A wonderful in-depth discussion on the events leading up to the Berlin Wall collaspe. Unfortunately, this article is not available online at this time. Shaw's premise resonates with many because he provides a more holistic view of the complexities of Europe and the Soviet Union in the late eighties, and suggests that too little emphasis has been placed on the influence of religious culture at the time...particularly in Poland. "It would an exercise in religious triumphalism to say, or to even imply, that the events of late 1989 had exclusively spiritual causes. But it would be triumphalism of a secularist variety to deny or ignore their spiritual roots and cite only political, economical, and military explanations."

The Beatles Rocked the Kremlin (Aired on PBS, November 9th)
On a related note, I came across this unique and presumptuous (in a good-humored way) documentary on public television coinciding with the twentieth anniversary of the Berlin Wall. According to award winning film director Leslie Woodhead, Beatle-Mania was ablaze in the former Soviet-Union and the forbidden music was ultimately responsible for Communism’s collapse. But don’t take his word for it. Listen in carefully to a hilarious "cast of character" interviews including Beatle fanatics, rock critics, musicians, and even Russian deputy prime minister Sergei Ivanov. Learn more about Beatle mythology. Who knew the Beatles performed an impromptu live set at a undisclosed Russian airport prior to their official concert stop in Japan? Not me. Who knew that John Lennon was sighted on the streets of Moscow? Not you either. It’s all here....all stylized in a way to counter the propaganda of their time.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Productive Day leads to "We Really Can Get Along."

This morning was simply and most profoundly...productive. Webster's defines it as "creatively fertile" and I couldn't agree more. Despite the recent weeks of discussion over budget cuts, boundary realignments, hiring freezes, and doing more with less, today...I allowed myself the luxury of listening carefully and responding respectively. Some call it relationship building, ya know... of the human kind.

Part of the reason for continued clarity - or the need to post this simple reflection - comes through my weekly hour with the Blessed Sacrament, and it just so happens to be after that hour... a Tuesday night. Despite some wishful neighborly report(s), I haven't experienced any visions and I'm not into loud video games, creepy-helloween, or the like. Just a simple desire to open myself to the Holy Spirit. A gentle reminder of Prudence and Her comfortable desire that inspiration’s not far behind.

"The sun is out, the sky is blue, it's beautiful and so are you..."

Then in a flash, I remembered a meditation from last September’s Magnificat: or better yet- it pierced my heart like a crown of thorns...

Work and Love

"We must always remind ourselves that our first work does not arise from the capacity to create new structures, but rather it is… a sensibility to the common and singular needs that exist: the use of intelligence and energy to assist in the creation of a more human environment in the situation where you are. Only if the imagination is awakened can new forms of work be invented. This can only spring forth from an amazement, a devotion, a love for what man is. The factory remains the factory, (or in my case… the DNR remains the DNR) but it’s not like it was before. Wherever a presence – determined by this passion for man – expresses a generosity, steadfastness, and imagination, and meets with a certain openness, the work environment is not like it was before.

I have heard you tell me a hundred times, ‘Now I go to work with a passion that I never expected, that before I never even dreamed possible,’ which means that you don’t go to the job you used to go to, but you perform a ‘new work’, a more human work that doesn’t leave out any aspect, any particular.

Nothing is more concrete than love. Outside of love, concreteness is established by developing a preconceived idea into a program, a program into a preconceived idea. That is, by an ideology that is determined to find its own way and exploits everyone it encounters in the process. Instead, a group of people gathered together who try to keep in mind the true sense of man as a creature of God becomes capable of inventing the truly new. Beyond any scheme, it doesn’t remain prisoner of the ordinary programs and always finds a space in which a new flower or new leaf may come to life. In those places where people get together in this way they become truly creative, they become real protagonists in the world. This is why we want to become protagonists in the working world, not as the representatives of categories or roles or interest groups, but representatives of man."

Monsignor Luigi Giussani

(Monsignor Giussani was a priest from Milan, Italy, who was the founder of the ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation).
Now, enjoy some hit songs above!

Photo Source:

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Forestry in Action

A ten minute clip from our friends and colleagues in Aitkin County MN. For the record, intermediate refers to that transition period between a young and older-mature forest. Writing and implementing silvicultural prescriptions will vary depending on the native plant community, soils, and management goals. Little oak seedlings...yes!

For more information about intermediate stand treatments click here

Confessions of a Tree Hugger

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Special Summer Week Continues

After the glorious marriage celebration (at the Croatian Hall) of my friends Brent & Dalma Weigelt, the special summer week continues.

I'm also glad to have re-visited and re-affirmed the connection between the Cathedral in St. Paul, MN and the feast Day of St. John Vianney (August 4th). For those of you who don't follow Catholic feast days, today marks the 150 Anniversary of this humble, venerated priest (1786-2009). Most biographies consistently remark how Vianney struggled in academia. As a young man, he was often criticized as a poor scholar and a hopeless seminarian. In fact, his aversion to military service wasn't welcomed either.

One might also reflect over his generation's abundant persecution, doubt, and evil... often consistent with the many modern-like threats that tempt us too. Yet to St. John Vianney, these grave concerns only strengthened and focused his prayer-life.

Along with a special priest who believed in his gifts, Vianney eventually passed his exams and was ordained as a local parish priest in Ars, France. Today, we know him as a beacon for his absolute commitment to the Sacraments and especially for his dedication to hearing confessions for thousands of European parishioners and priests. In June of this year - concluding the 2008-2009 "Year of St. Paul", Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed a new "Year of the Priest" theme. St. John Vianney is the very WELCOME follow up.

If I may, let me quote from the Cathedral of St. Paul Bulletin (August 2, 2009) - Fr. Joseph R. Johnson (Rector)...

"St. John Vianney is also the secondary patron of our Archdiocese after St. Paul... This humble French parish priest was a seminary classmate of Mathias Lorcas, first bishop of Dubuque (IA). Bishop Lorcas came from that same region of eastern France and brought other colleagues as missionaries with him, including Joseph Cretin, first bishop of St. Paul! As a gift to the Missionaries in America, the bishop of their home diocese offered to educate their seminarians for them. Young John Ireland was thus sent to France for his seminary studies just a few miles away from St. John Vianney's parish of Ars.

Our close ties to St. John Vianney should keep the ideal of priestly holiness ever before our eyes. Your priests are very human... and yet God can work miracles through these broken instruments. Pray that your priests will always see their lives as a participation in the ministry of the Good Shepard and be willing to sacrifice themselves in service to the Church. Pray that your priests will always strive to proclaim the full truth of the Gospel and not just the parts that won't offend our society or even their own parishioners. Pray that many young men in our Archdiocese [and across the world- my emphasis] will listen to God's call and respond generously with an unreserved "fiat!" And be sure to read about the great saint and pray to him as a special companion on our journey of faith!"

St. John Vianney is an inspiration for us all. I'm so fortunate to have participated in the Sacraments at the Cathedral of St. Paul, despite the Great-Thanks hotel broken glasses incident. A special thanks to all of the priests that I've encountered in my life... from baptism and confirmation on up to the present day. I especially want to recognize Fr. Rob Kroll (SJ) for all the work that he does in his ministry. I'm praying for you this year!


St. John Vianney Photo Credit: DCF Delacruz

Friday, July 24, 2009

July, July!

I haven't been posting much... I know. Sloth-mania, new job, and old reflections are keeping me occupied. I will be posting a WFF 2009 review very soon however. In the mean time, enjoy this visual collection from some very talented artists- Deviant Art. Of course, there's another corny harborstar music-show to sample from Playlist. And, I'll be on-air tonight for another musical round of "on the river".

My very special blessings for my best friend Brent and his beautiful bride to be Dalma. Your upcoming marriage consecration is in my heart and prayers!

The white pine cross

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Prairie Home Reminder

Available now at your local Pamida...straight from the crystal depths of Lake Superior, North Star Productions presents: A Prairie Home Reminder. Not found in any slick coffee cafe, these thirty-six deliciously smooth cuts are compiled exclusively for the wounded and the triumphant. Over two hours of music with a rich variety of string wavelets and spirited folk, fuzzed guitars and pedal steel- banjo, dub, and horns to boot. A soundtrack sure to ease those mid-summer blues! Listen now on the playlist above. Enjoy in your backyard with ice caffeine drink and vinyl fold out lawn-chair.

Side 1
1. Okkervil River: Antartica Starts Here- Golden Opportunities EP (Self-Released)
2. Oumou Sangare: Djorolen- Worotan (World Circuit)
3. King Sunny Ade & His African Beats: Ja Funmi- Juju Music (Mango)
4. Hey Rosetta!: Red Heart- Into Your Lungs (Sonic)
5. T Nile: Cabin Song- The Cabin Song EP (Self-Released)
6. Arlo Guthrie: My Creole Belle- Running Down The Road (Rising Son/Koch)
7. Neko Case: Magpie In The Morning- Middle Cyclone (Anti)
8. Tim Eriksen feat. Riley Baugus & Tim O'Brien: I Wish My Baby Was Gone- Cold Mountain ST (DMZ/Columbia)
9. Chatham County Line: Chip Of A Star: IV (Yep Roc)
10. Del McCourey Band: 1952 Vincent Black Lightning- All Star Bluegrass Celebration (Rainmaker Productions)
11. Hayes Carll: Faulkner Street- Trouble In Mind (Lost Highway)
12. Loudon Wainwright III: Daughter- Golden Slumber: A Father's Love (Sony/Columbia)
13. Martha Wainwright: Hearts Club Band- I Know Your Married But I Have Feelings Too (Universal) Check this out too!
14. Burning Spear: Walk- Our Music (Burning Music)
15. Elvis Costello & The Atractions: Green Shirt- Armed Forces (Rhino Reissue)
16. Elvis Costello & The Attractions: Everyday I Write The Book- Punch The Clock (Rykodisc)
17. Alex Cuba Band feat Jason Mraz: Dramatica Mujer- Humo De Tabaco (Globe Star Recordings)
18. Jenny Whiteley: Take Your Time And Do It Right- Dear (Black Hen Music)

Side 2
1. Chris Thile (The Punch Brothers): Raining At Sunset- Not All Who Wander Are Lost (Sugar Hill)
2. Bell Orchestre: Rajasthan- Demo (Self-Released). Check out their latest video. Harbor star recommends...
3. Iron & Wine: Flightless Bird, American Mouth- The Shepards Dog (Sub Pop)
4. Hey Rosetta!: There's An Arc- Into Your Lungs (Sonic)
5. Josh Ritter: Golden Age of Radio- Golden Age of Radio (Signature Sounds)
6. Watermelon Slim: Oklahoma Blues- Big Shoes To Fill (Southern)
7. Ridley Bent: Nine Inch Nails- Buckles And Boots (Open Road Music)
8. Jenny Whiteley: Dance Till Dawn- Self-Titled (Self-Released)
9. Xavier Rudd: The Wind Cries Mary- To Let (Universal)
10. Elvis Costello & The Fairfield Four: That Day Is Done- All This Useless Beauty (Rhino)
11. The Campbell Brothers: Celebration And Giving- Sacred Steel Vol. 2 Live! (Arhoolie)
12. DJ Logic feat Miri Ben Ari: Soul Kissing- The Anomaly (Ropeadope)
13. The Deep Dark Woods: Foggy Night- Self Titled (Self-Released)
14. Great Lakes Swimmers: Pulling On A Line- Lost Channels (Nettwerk)
15. Alana Levondoski: Misty Sea- Unsettled Down (Rounder)
16. Loreena Mckennitt: Ancient Pines- Parallel Dreams (Quinlan Road)
17. T Nile: Trees- At My Table (Self-Released)
18. Jon Rauhouse feat. Neko Case: River Of No Return-Steel Guitar Rodeo (Bloodshot)

Winnipeg Folk Festival 2009 Yay!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

I Can't Operate The Mic Anymore or All Things Sahm

As they say in some rustic quarter entertainment business... "He's Baaaaccckkk!" Well, not quite. Despite irritating mic feedback and a peculiar clammy vocal feeling- which I attribute to an extended period away from radio and a pre-swine flu experience- I thorougly enjoyed being re-initiated within the programming saddle. Like other KAXE volunteers of late, I'll jump on the bandwagon and post my playlist and thoughts from a recent OTR experience 4/24/09 (7-10pm). What follows are the selected songs, albums, and labels. Nothing ground-breaking here, except for the idea that I can post comments and reflections weeks after the live program. The downloads unavailable now and for good reason...

1. Ramsey Lewis Trio: "Wade in the Water"_ Chess Northern Soul (Chess)
The definitive 60's northern soul-jazz instrumental and spiritual that defines my whole reason for playing music on-air.

2. The Chantays: "Pipeline"_Pipeline (Varese Sarabande)
High surf

3. Clifton Chenier: "I Got The Blues"_ Live at Grant Street (Arhoolie)
4. The Groove Collective: "Dfu"_People People, Music Music (Savoy Jazz)
Acid jazz connoisseurs step out and unveil this Kuti afro-beat influenced composition. The driving, melodic backbeat underscores a free-style sax while capture the essence of middle Africa. Band includes NYC protégé DJ Smash.

5. Animal Liberation Orchestra: "Barbeque"_Fly Between Falls (Brushfire)
6. Buckwheat Zydeco: "When the Levee Breaks"_Lay Your Burden Down (Alligator) Chenir's B-3 organist (yes, that's right) returns with a diverse and powerful new album. One of the highlights on the album is his version of the original river classic...first recorded by Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe McCoy. We all know it by Bonham's thump, but BZ provides the modern touch!

7. Camera Obscura: "French Navy"_My Maudlin Career (4AD)
We've come to expect reverby, string-laden songs complete with up-tempo rhythm's and " I want to be Heartbroken" lyrics. Cam Obs and Tracyann Campbell rarely disappoint. I expect continued raves from this new tinny platter.

8. Shawn Lee feat. Fanny Franklin: "Cruel Woman"_Soul In The Hole (Ubiquity) West coast multi-instrumentalist doesn't stray far from his love of soul music. By enlisting contemporary vocalists and musical sounds, Lee provides an modern soul update. *** stars.

9. Sharon Jones & Dap-Kings: "Inspiration Information"_Dark Was The Night (4AD) Todays best soul and R & B band provide positive vibe and a deliciously smooth re-working of the relatively unknown Shuggie Otis classic. Luaka Bop records brought most of us up to speed with their fine 2001 reissue of Shuggie's 1974 album Inspiration Information. Incredible album! Muscially complex yet combined the best elements of rock, pop, and trippy psychedelic soul! The Dap Kings selection is one of many to be found on the 2009 Red Hot/4AD Label Compilation 'Dark Was The Night' The "inspiration" for the record is a bit challenging to describe. A showcase for independent music appears to be the overall purpose, but there is also a strong and liberal promotion for AIDS awareness and prevention. An underlying Christian theme also emerges in the artwork and liner notes. Aaron Dessner describes,..."the Dore illustrations for Milton's Paradise Lost, which make up the art imagery in this booklet evoke a 'fallen' world of struggle, but also the capacity of art to inspire us to rise above the obstacles put in our path. Our nights may be dark, but music gives us inspiration and hope of brighter days to come." A question of mine- We all agree that musical ideals continue to soar, but do they achieve lasting social change?

Red Hot was one of the first music companies to promote AIDS awareness. Bless their hearts. Unfortunately, they stop short of truly grasping the full complexities of the modern issue. I'm led to believe in the liner notes that the best approach for reducing AIDS is safe sex. Huh? A full understanding of this challenging social issue would also consider faith-based approaches including promotion of monogamous marriage and abstinence. Fortunately, we can agree that more medical advances and treatments are needed. Still, many developing countries lack basic education, forego women's rights, and turn away from faith in God....My prayers go out to the many individuals who work directly with AIDS patients, and to the Vicar of Christ, Pope Benedict XVI.

Again, these are my initial impressions of "Dark Was The Night" What's truly inspiring is Shuggie's lyric sung by Ms. Sharon Jones! In a soul beat groove!

"He had a rainy day... I'm in a snake-back situation... here's a pencil pad... I'm gonna spread some, makin me happier, now I am snappier, while I'm with to be having you...cause I am happier...when I met you...

Your my little symphonia singing the weather...I get a dark blue rain...I get a slap-back call for the blue yonder...I get a purple string...cause it isn't in tune...beside the whistle-cat...singin the hours...along a frosty road side...always in time...

I get another rain... makin me happy...that will take me for another ride up in the sky..." Shuggie Otis (1974)

10. The J.B's: "My Brother (Parts 1 & 2)"_Funky Good Time (Polydor)
11. Orgone feat Fanny Franklin: "I Get Lifted"_The Killion Floor (Ubiquity)
Patiently awaiting a new release from this west coast soul-funk ensemble. Another fine example of talented musicians -fused- with fresh, dynamic vocals. See also The Dynamites feat. Charles walker.

12. Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears: "Sugarfoot"_Tell 'Em What Your Name Is (Lost Highway) A Speedy tempo, Humble Pie strut defines Lewis' brand of high energy R & B. I sense a new voice for gut bucket blues and Austin TX rap. Following in the footsteps of Archie Bell, Lewis brings much needed grit and glory to an over-saturated Americana scene. Overall, the album reminds me of the singular and soulful wail of Marriot's"30 days in the Hole" Look it up.

13. Cyril Neville: "Shake Your Gumbo"_Brand New Blues (M.C) Surely influenced by BW Trout's "The Electric Gumbo Show"

14. Brigitte Demeyer: "Shepherd"_Red River Flower (BDM Music) Inspired Gospel folk from independent Americana artist. Buddy Miller and Al Perkins provide that extra push. I'll never tire of saying it, Nashville... how about a little commercial airplay! Oh, never mind. Let's keep Demeyer where she belongs- well steeped in community radio.

A writing clip from her website: "Those who follow DeMeyer will recognize her artistry on this album while noticing as well that it has risen to a higher level. “Being in Nashville affected me,” she says. “When I’d worked before with Buddy, sometimes it was done by mailing music files back and forth. But to have him show up and be in the studio with me and the other players is a completely different experience.”That’s evident from the first notes of the track, “Shepherd.” The groove is relaxed but irresistible, sweetened by rustic dobro fills from Al Perkins and down-home harmonies on the chorus prayer: “Oh, Lord, make a shepherd out of me.” The feeling continues throughout Red River Flower, whose acoustic textures, lashed by flashes of rock intensity, illuminate the ache and understatement of DeMeyer’s vocal.

15. Wayne Hancock: "Movin On #3"_Viper Of Melody (Bloodshot)
16. Malcolm Holcombe: "Marvelene's Kitchen"_Another Wisdom (Purple Girl)
17. Bearfoot: "Good In The Kitchen"_Doors & Windows (Compass)
From the great state of Alaska no doubt. Up and coming blugrass outfit shines on closing acapella number... Kitchen dreams as opposed to kitchen nightmares. Stay tuned for a reprise of the Chef Ramsey's April fools suprise.

18. Indigo Girls: "Second Time Around"_Poseidon & The Bitter Bug (Vanguard) Solid release from Emily Saliers and Amy Ray. Dylanesque on this particular track. Poseidon... appears to be their first true independent release. Recommend seeing the duo with a full, live band on-stage... not with guitar techs and others off-stage.

19. U2: "Dancing Barefoot"_Best of Singles & B Sides (Island)
20. Buddy & Julie Miller: "Ellis County"_Written In Chalk" (New West)


Doug Sahm unquestionably provides music in-spiration. One doesn't have to be a musician to appreciate his love for style. A "Jack" of all genres, master of none, DS always brought a smile to the music. A border lyric, a groove on, a stimulated Texas home-run! Sir Douglas keyboards... keyboards... and keyboards...A very fond song title sums up his state of mind at times: "You Never Get Too Big And You Sure Don't Get Too Heavy, That You Don't Have To Stop And Pay Some Dues Sometime."

21. Freda & The Firedogs: "Be Real"_Keep Your Soul- A Tribute To Doug Sahm (Vanguard)
22. The Bottle Rockets: "Lord, I'm Just A Country Boy In The Great Big Freaky City"_Songs of Sahm (Bloodshot)
23. Sir Douglas Quintet: "The Tracker"_Singles (Varese Sarabande)
24. Flaco Jimenez & The West Side Horns: "Ta Bueno Compadre"_Keep You Soul
25. Doug Sahm: "I'm Not That Kat Anymore"_Best Of (Mercury)
26. Jimmy Vaughan: "Why Why Why"_Keep Your Soul

27. Tom Russell feat Gretchen Peters: "Guadalupe"_One To The Heart, One To The Head (Scarlet Letter and Frontera Records) Hmmm, this song gets closer and closer toward the sacred heart of Jesus through Mary. No one questions TR's committment to the folk troubadour persona, and his unique ability to define Southwestern culture, but I'm not sure he captures what true devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe is all about. The story is a lengthy one. Her message is not. May is the month for Mary!

28. The Elders: "Better Days Ahead"_Better Days Ahead (Pubtone)
Celtic influenced rock from Mid-America. Seasoned veterans display abundant musicianship and a knack for foot-stumping, hummable sing-alongs.

29. Amadou & Mariam: "Magosa"_Welcome to Mali (Because Music)
30. Nicola Conte feat. Lucia Minetti: "Kind of Sunshine"_Other Directions (Blue Note) How many Italian jazz producers do you know? Probably just one considering Conte's major lable exposure on Blue Note back in 2004 . This isn't, "you are my sunshine, my only sunshine... you make happy when skies are grey." But, it is uplifting and beat driven. No sampling or sound collages here. Pure instrumentation that does launch jazz in other directions. Conte's worth exploring if you like genre-bending. He's well versed in electronica, club, bossa nova, and classical.

31. Soundtrack Of Our Lives: "Bigtime"_Origins Vol. 1 (Republic)
Psych-Rock from Sweden. A reflection on the state of the modern world? KAXE is currently promoting their new album, "Communion" on Yep Roc. An album worthing spending time with. Listen for the Nick Drake cover.

32. Joe Rathbone: "Mary"_Mad July EP (Prime Cut)
33. Alela Diane: "Dry Grass and Shadows"_To Be Still (Rough Trade)
34. Angus & Julia Stone: "Paper Aeroplane"_A Book Like This (Capitol)
35. Justin Townes Earle: "Can't Hardly Wait"_Midnight At The Movies (Bloodshot) Fine rendition of the Replacements song circa 1987. Justin's warm vocal provides a softer but no less tamer shunning of the bigtime. Oh addiction.... how we mourn you.

"Lights that flash in the evening,
Through a hole in the drapes
I'll be home when I'm sleeping
I can't hardly wait
I can't wait. Hardly wait." Paul Westerberg (1987)

36. Alison Brown: "The Road West"_The Company You Keep (Compass)
One of the top instrumentals of the year. Brown's bluegrass and jazz influences merge together in pure transcedence. Recommended.

37. Hem: "Almost Home"_Funnel Cloud (Nettwerk)
38. Wilco: "What Light"_Sky Blue Sky (Nonesuch)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Ice & Snow Days

It’s ice... that’s not so Minnesota nice.

Weather in March is always a tricky and unpredictable phenomenon. Last week a major low-pressure system concentrated a powerful ice storm right around the communities of Finland, Silver Bay, and Isabella. Heavy ice brought down power lines and many residents lost power for two or three days. As one might expect, the storm created a landscape disturbance in the forest. Folks I work with responded quickly. DNR chainsaw crews sawed their way through and opened up select campgrounds, parks, roads, and trails. Still, I'm guessing that thousands of downed trees block several miles of remote roads and trails. Photo credit: Natalie-the fishin chick from Silver Bay.

For a slideshow of ice damage in the North Shore State Parks visit here . Read about how ice storm leaves ‘heartbreaking’ tree damage in its wake.

How about you? Have your trees been impacted by extreme weather recently, maybe an ice or thunder storm, or severe winds? If so, you might be able to claim "casualty losses" on your federal taxes. For additional information read "Income Tax Deduction for Timber Causalty Loss" by Dr. Linda Wang, Forest Taxation Specialist, USDA Forest Service.

Remember that line from the Blues Brothers film? Jake- " How often do the trains go by?" Elwood- "So often you won’t even notice it." Well, I ask a similar question, "When will the snow-plows stop plowing?" Answer- "Just as soon as pundits stop predicting when spring will arrive".

Fair enough.

On Monday March 30th the sun came out and things started slowly melting. Well, sort of. As I left the truck and put on my snowshoes, I began to hear a lot of sharp cracking and popping. Looking up, I witnessed an aerial parade of small ice chunks breaking off branches and sailing rapidly to the ground.I began to worry about getting pummeled by flying ice chunks. Although I was SO looking forward to working in the forest, that inner voice spoke to me… maybe another perfect day. The shrubs adjacent to the trail were so densely packed with ice, I might need a machete just to hack my way through. Needless to say, this wasn't going to be a productive day.

It's Tuesday, guess what? The Arrowhead region of Minnesota gets pummeled by another winter storm warning!

Yippee! Let's sing have I told you lately...

Requiem Pt. 2:

When everyone’s rested I’ll think about the driver,
the plow
whose sand truck
the blade dropping Grrrrrrrrr!

In sleep I’ll dream about flashing yellow lights
bouncing playfully off the Celtic cross that overlooks my bed.
I’ll barely notice my neighbors car alarm
activating again,
alarming for the 24th time-
the blade dropping Grrrrrrrrr!

Glancing at The picture of Jesus,
"I thirst"
it’s 1:44am.
He contemplates a mysterious spread called de-icing
that works on Duluth roads
usually steeped
and provided with peace of mind
for struggling motorists getting somewhere.

When everyone's rested I'll think about the driver,
the plow
whose sand truck
the blade dropping Grrrrrrrrr!

The grinding roar of a snowplow blade on concrete doesn’t bother much me anymore. Why should it?

Here's a little mini-set of music:

The Ice & Snow Days

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Requiem for a Snowfall

Note to self and to all who long for Spring: Don't worry so much.

Renewal is certain
Birth is majestic
Life is sublime.

Thanks to Paul Davis for capturing these hopeful images. (HD video may take awhile to load.... repeat for the full stream effect)

Passenger Seat

I roll the window down
And then begin to breathe in
The darkest country road
And the strong scent of evergreen
From the passenger seat as you are driving me home.

Then looking upwards
I strain my eyes and try
To tell the difference between shooting stars and satellites
From the passenger seat as you are driving me home.

"Do they collide?"
I ask and you smile.
With my feet on the dash
The world doesn't matter.

When you feel embarrassed then I'll be your pride
When you need directions then I'll be the guide
For all time.
For all time.

-Ben Gibbard
[Death Cab For Cutie- Transatlanticism (Barsuk,2003)]

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Glimpse of Africa

War Dance (2007)

Directors: Sean Fine & Andrea Nix Fine
Music: Children of Uganda

Interview w/Directors
Village Voice Review
Boston Review

Dreams of Dust (2008)

Director: Laurent Salgues’
Cinematography: Crystel Fournier
Music: Mattieu Vanasse & Jean Massicotte

Film Movement
Dear Cinema Review

Thanks to St. Anthony Messenger (inside front cover) for their photo and inspiration honoring the United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace (March 8th,2009).

A selected poem:

You may write me
down in history
With your bitter,
twisted lies.

You may trod me
in the very dirt
But still, like dust
I'll rise.

- Maya Angelou, "Still I Rise"

Africa Can Become the Continent of Hope - Pope Benedict XVI

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Unconventional Characters Drive the Story—A Valentine’s Day Film Festival

It’s been a nagging question for years. What is Valentine’s Day really about? A chance to patronize the candy, flower, card, and jewelry industries? An opportunity to get out of town for an extended "holiday"? An overdue excuse for treating your spouse to a lavishly prepared meal at the local diner? One surely can’t deny any of these questions.

I know that thousands of Americans across the country will be renting DVD's to watch on the starry, starry Saturday night so I’ll add a further luxury - Valentine’s day provides an opportunity to watch cool, interesting film.

Here are four picks for Valentine’s Day 2009:

Be My Valentine Charlie Brown (1975): TV ABC- USA. Charles Schultz

It’s fun and refreshing to dig up this well-known animated comedy. Sometimes we forget just how important Charles Schultz was to a generation of children including myself. Sorry Charlie Brown, but Snoopy and Linus steal most of the spotlight in this classic tale of missed opportunity and unrequited love.


Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown
ABC Special

Who Am I This Time (1982): TV PBS American Playhouse- USA. Directed by Jonathan Demme

Sweet and charming theatrical adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut Jr's popular short story features early acting prowess of Susan Sarandon and Christopher Walken. I really loved this simple, small town look at how community theater brings people out of their shell. Walken’s stage transformation fulfills toward the end of the play. Another reason to remind local school boards that cutting arts programs can have unintended results. This film debuted well before Christopher Guest’s outrageously funny Waiting for Guffman.

Quote from the film-

Harry (at Helene's insistence, reading a passage from Romeo and Juliet, which she has given to him as a gift after the final performance of A Streetcar Named Desire): I take thee at thy word, call me but love... and I'll be new baptized. Henceforth... (to Helene) — I never will be Romeo — never.

Helene (exasperated, wanting to speak to him directly, but returning to the lines of the play): What man art thou that thus bescreen'd in night so stumblest on my counsel?

Harry: By a name I know not how to tell thee who I am: My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself, because it is an enemy to thee... (continues reading from Romeo and Juliet)]

"Who Am I This Time" also provides an early glimpse into Academy Award winner Jonathan Demme’s directorial skill. He’s well known for his work in Stop Making Sense (Talking Heads Concert), The Silence of the Lambs, The Manchurian Candidate, and The Agronomist (Documentary).

All Movie Guide Synopsis

Eagle vs Shark (2007): Independent- New Zealand. Directed by Taika Waititi

Napolean Dynamite notwithstanding- awkward, romantic bauble features malls, costume parties, and unfinished high school business. I admire Loren Horsley (Lily) and Jemaine Clement's (Jarrod) dedication to character in this truly one of a kind film. We all know people like this and that's the point. The female perspective clearly wins here.

Indie rock soundtracks continue to be a focal point in small films and Eagle vs Shark is no different in this respect. Taika Waititi takes liberty to enhance M. Ward's version of David Bowie's 80's classic "Let's Dance" at a pivotal point in the film.

Eagle vs Shark

St. Therese of Lisieux (2004): Luke Films-USA. Directed by Leonardo Defilippis

Poignant family-friendly drama reveals how Therese of Lisieux became one of the most beloved saints in modern history. Known as the little flower of Jesus, St. Therese’s child-like spirituality and unassuming prayer life became a model for many seeking to know God.

Up and coming film director Leonardo Defilippis addresses the question why Therese is so popular,

"Thérèse Martin's short life as a 19th-century French nun might have been buried in obscurity if she hadn't written down her story and her spiritual philosophy before her premature death from tuberculosis at age 24. Her sister, who was also the mother superior of the monastery, asked her to write down her childhood reminiscences, and out of obedience Therese complied. What followed was not just a charming story of her early life, but also a clear explanation of her "little way" to get to Heaven. This little book spread like wildfire throughout the world, because of the simple ideas that Saint Thérèse presented: how ordinary people can grow close to God through the day-to-day tasks in their lives. After her death in 1897, miracles attributed to the young nun's intercession began to be documented almost immediately, and the Carmelite nun was put on the fast track to sainthood and canonized in 1925." National Review Online, 2004.

Before seeing this film for the first time, I was apprehensive about who would be cast for the lead role. My understanding is that after hundreds of auditions, Defilippis found Catholic convert Lindsay Younce- a perfect fit for the part. Younce is the reason to watch this film, but don't overlook Defilippis who plays the role of Therese's father.

Despite serious criticism from secular and religious media, the film still works as a testament to faith. Good set locations and a superb musical score should lift most spirits in the end.

Therese the Movie
St. Luke Productions

I’ve always enjoyed films that present unconventional, gifted, unique, and original characters. Labeled as awkward and sensitive, the lead’s in these films rise above todays definitions of "character". In a way, that’s what Valentine’s Day is all about—a celebration of the uniqueness of each and every person. Posing the question another way, what should Valentine’s Day lead us toward? To recognize and honor love between adults and children not just on the second Saturday of February, but everyday. This year I promised myself more opportunities to express love in ways that go beyond the superficial. In February, that means going on a spiritual retreat.

Ethnic 2020 illuminates: "Beyond the roses, chocolates and historical ties to a pagan fertility festival, you'll find the real meaning of Valentine's Day. It's the true love that compelled a young Christian to give up his life rather than stop sharing his faith."

Have a love-filled Valentine’s Day

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Airplane Heroes

A dedicated pilot. A trustworthy cockpit crew. An alert staff who rose above the "you ain’t nothin but a waitress in the sky" stereotype. I can think of dozens of ways to describe and praise these newly anointed heroes. What really struck me was how the media considered the event to be a miracle. I ask... if we agree that a miracle occurred and I do, how should we consider tragic events where the outcomes result in human suffering and loss of life? Are miracles purely the result of human action or is there divine intervention? Or, are all heroic acts just random, unconnected events that have no larger significance . Some would say the latter. For me, it's a combination of several things. But ultimately a unification of the secular and the sacred.

I was a bit surprised by the media overhype however. Here's one blogger's reaction and links. Closer to home, I received this message in my email recently:

"Like [Minnesota] state employees during a natural disaster, the well-trained, unionized crew-members reacted coolly under pressure. Question: Who do you want piloting the plane on your next trip? Answer: A unionized, trained crew with years of experience. " - MAPE

US Airways Flight 1549 Surveillance Video from DuckStud on Vimeo.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Local Laundermat Overcharges

Once a month or so I drop off some shirts for cleaning at a local Duluth laundry. Usually I'm a happy and satisified patron. Not anymore.

Today my bank tells me that "sohboh" laundermat of Duluth charged $514.49 for a laundry drop-off on 12/15/08. Yep, that's right!

Whoa... when's the last time a sucker dropped off a dozen shirts for laundry and signed for them only to realize they cost 45x times worth the value? Granted, I'm not financially savvy when it comes to balancing books, but usually I know when someone overcharges.

I remember.

P.S- between you and me, the actual charge should have been $54.49 not $514.49.

Now that the holiday's are over be sure to review your checkbook and credit card purchases. One important questions to ask...."Did I keep all of the receipt(s)"?

Please ma'am and/or sir, I just want my $463.00 back + the $30.00 bank overdraft. Let's avoid court if possible. No hard feelings and I'll pray for you.