Leroy Dyson

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Published on: April 2, 2015

One of my earliest friendships I made in the Democratic Party was Leroy Dyson. I’d say I knew him since I was sixteen or so. He passed away last week, and his funeral mass was on Friday.

One of the readers at the mass was former state legislator Larry Bahill, who was a long time friend of Leroy from both of their times at Pima County. He read a passage from the Book of Wisdom. If you haven’t heard of the Book of Wisdom, it might be because it is part of the Catholic version of the Old Testament, but not the Jewish or Protestant ones. It all came down to a dispute between Jerome and Augustine that boiled over again a dozen centuries later.

I asked St. Pius X Church for a copy of the passage. It was from chapter 4:

The just man, though he die early,
shall be at rest.
For the age that is honorable comes not
with the passing of time,
nor can it be measured in terms of years.
Rather, understanding is the hoary crown for men, and an unsullied life, the attainment of old age.
He who pleased God was loved;
he who lived among sinners was transported—
Snatched away, lest wickedness pervert his mind
or deceit beguile his soul;
For the witchery of paltry things obscures what is right
and the whirl of desire transforms the innocent mind. Having become perfect in a short while,
he reached the fullness of a long career;
for his soul was pleasing to the LORD,
therefore he sped him out of the midst of wickedness. But the people saw and did not understand,
nor did they take this into account.

I checked my own Bible, and in that translation “hoary crown” is “gray hair.” Anyone that knew Leroy remembers that perfect white halo of hair he had, and that near permanent smile. I’ll miss saying hi to him at party events.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Storms

Categories: Old Pueblo
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Published on: March 19, 2015

I hadn’t been paying attention to the weather reports, so when it was cold and cloudy yesterday I was kind of shocked. It’s almost like March weather or something.

My favorite part about a storm coming in is what the clouds do to the Catalina Mountains. From most parts of town, they look like a painting. I can perceive some texture there, but it can be hard to tell where one particular ridge line separates one mountain from the one behind it. Then the clouds move in. I can see the misty separation between the ridges. When the storm hasn’t quite moved over the entire range, I can see the southernmost ridges stand out all alone on a hazy gray and white background.

You can tell the natives from the noobs by who actually appreciates the storms around here.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

More blurry

Categories: Not So Local Music
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Published on: March 12, 2015

I hated Blurred Lines when it came out a couple of years ago. The one redeeming feature of it is the hook that was lifted from Marvin Gaye, which as we know has been found by a court to be plagiarism.

Thicke did himself no favors with his testimony, which showed him to be as much of a jackass as a song that all-but endorses date rape would indicate him to be. It’s kinda fun seeing him hoisted on his own douchey petard.

Rock ‘n’ Roll, and all the forms of pop music that have sprung from it in one way or another, has been organized theft for generations. Where is that line between being influenced by what came previously and ripping it off? Are you just using a riff that has become a common part of musical language or are you lifting a song? Blurred lines, indeed.

I suppose one way you can do it is by avoiding ripping off a song that you famously covered:

Or, at least don’t use the title of the song you are ripping off:

Yeah, well.

As much as I like to see the smug Thick slapped around for his smuggest song, there might be a problem here. Back in 1991, Biz Markie lifted an entire Gilbert O’Sullivan song and threw new lyrics on top of it. It was not a “sample,” it was theft. When the court ruled against him, record companies got nervous. Hip Hop acts who were constructing music out of pastiches of found sounds were lumped in with Biz Markie even though they were doing something far different. No one wanted to get sued, so even someone like Terminator X was caught up in the prop wash. It made Hip Hop into much more of a producer’s medium and sidelined the talented DJ’s.

LA Weekly points out that much the same thing could happen out of this case. At least it might keep people from bragging about who they are ripping off, I guess.

And they say marijuana hampers judgement…

Categories: Old Pueblo
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Published on: March 6, 2015

I haven’t read the police report yet, but I imagine the dialogue to sound like this:

“I know that the police are watching me and half of this town is waiting for me to trip up, but yes, stranger that I just met, I would love to sell you some weed.”

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Ash Wednesday

Categories: Blatant Romanism
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Published on: February 18, 2015

Today is Ash Wednesday, which means we get to hear a reading from Matthew chapter 6 that warns about outward expressions of piety. I know that the reason why it is read today is that the chapter gives advice on fasting, which is important to hear before Lent. Still, I find it ironic that it gets read just moments before a priest marks your forehead so everyone knows that you’ve been to church.

Years ago, I wrote something similar and got a reply from a Lutheran (unsure of the synod, but by his tone, unlikely ELCA) who decided it was a good opportunity to school a Catholic on what the ashes really mean. I would have appreciated the dialogue, but the smugness bothered me and showed that he really didn’t get what I was writing about.

When I worked at Tork’s, my Muslim boss gave me a break to run off and get ashes. Scratch that, he insisted on it. I’ve had a lot of bosses who claim all sorts of flavors of Christianity, but the first one I had that gave me room to get ashes was a very devout Muslim.

I take this seriously enough that I know the ashes are not a crass marketing gimmick, but if it were, it would seem to work well. Priests have told me that attendance at masses on Ash Wednesday is only outdone by Easter and Christmas Eve. The funny part about it is that it is not a day of obligation.

Since it isn’t a day of obligation, many churches offer, for lack of a better word, “quickie” ashes. Our local Episcopal diocese is offering “Ashes To Go” at Ronstadt Center and Starbucks.

I am not a member of St. Pius X, but I make a point of heading over there to get ashes because it is only a few blocks from work. They have a “to go” offered in the parking lot, but you are obliged to write a sin or intention on a piece of paper and put it in a fire they have going.

Usually, it is a lay minister that gives the ashes. This time, I got them from Fr. Harry Ledwith. Ledwith gave a rosary at the service for Ruben Nuñez years ago that still sticks with me. He gave ashes to a group of four of us. He knew the other three but did not know me.

He made a point of asking my name. I anticipated him asking why he never sees me at mass, so I told him that I go to the Benedictine Monastery, but his church was near my work. He saw a woman approaching with a cane and said, “I am going to need to go to her.”

I saw he was busy so I walked back to the car.

“I hope we see more of you Ted,” he said as I opened my door.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Self Reflection

Categories: Rumination
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Published on: February 17, 2015

I was waiting to exit a parking lot, and a kid, probably 18 or 19, crosses in front of me. He had black boots, tight worn out jeans and a denim jacket with a half dozen patches for punk bands. Oh, and a big cloth emblem safety pinned on the back. One must have that. I didn’t recognize what group that was for.

He also had a mohawk. Looking at the whole ensemble, my first thought was, “Dude, 1982 happened. Get over it.”

Moments later, a Clash song came on the radio. I turned it up.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Kanye and Such

Categories: Not So Local Music
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Published on: February 11, 2015

I was sort of hoping that this whole Kanye West/Beck/Beyonce thing would have blown over by now. The Twitter and Facebook conversations on the matter has once again made me think that this whole Western Civilization thing is a failed experiment.

The worshipful defenses of Beyonce made me wonder if there may actually be a Beygency trying to ferret out those that aren’t properly paying tribute. The worst of it smacked of the trash talking Justin Bieber fans threw at Esperanza Spalding when she beat him for Best New Artist in 2011.

Oh, but don’t think Beck’s defenders are off the hook. I saw a bit of white-boy-rockerism in the defense that Beck is the true craftsman, unmotivated by commercial considerations, where Beyonce is a pre-fab construction of a team of A&R men. Give me a break. Beck isn’t exactly eating cat food, and Beyonce has made it pretty obvious that her artistic decisions are her own.

Also, I wonder how many of the people who jumped to Beck’s defense were even aware he had an album out last year, or if this was just a handy way to complain about Kanye West (an easy target) and Beyonce.

So, if you add this together with his previous silliness with Taylor Swift, I gotta ask, does Kanye West think that Beyonce deserves every award? I half expect him to show up at the next Tammies. “Yo, Gabe Sullivan, I gonna let you finish…”

Built into both of the Beck and Swift rants is his notion that the two were undeserving of an honor. He wants Beyonce to be respected, but apparently doesn’t think that anyone else should be. When he says that Beck won as opposed to a “true artist,” he’s basically saying Beck isn’t an artist.

By the way, it seems like West’s friend John Legend agrees with me. Smart man. He’ll go places.

Secondly, why the heck does West think Beyonce needs him to defend her? Even if he has some sort of patriarchal notion about the world, has he noticed that her own husband doesn’t pull these sorts of stunts on her behalf? I bet it’s because Jay Z knows that Beyonce can stick up for herself when she needs to. Maybe West ought to get the hint.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

My first Infographic post

Categories: Astronomy
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Published on: December 21, 2014

Sizes of the Universe
Source: Number Sleuth

Being Contrarian

Categories: Not So Local Music
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Published on: December 18, 2014

“The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is an oxymoron. If you want your work to be recognized in a museum, learn to paint.” – Rule #29 of the 33 1/3 rules of Rock and Roll

I haven’t started a post with an epigram in quite a while. What sort of discussion deserves that kind of over done pretension? The latest inductee class in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, of course.

I’ve got a thousand thoughts, but I’ll keep this short. People my age feel aggrieved because Green Day will be in this year over the Smiths. I think the real reason is that it means older Gen Xers have to admit that a band that came up a bit after their time has now been around long enough to be considered for the Hall.

Were the Smiths more deserving? Probably. It is also pretty ridiculous that Green Day gets a nod before the bands that they ape get consideration. Buzzcocks, anyone? It is a similar problem that I had with Rush getting in before Yes.

It does say Hall of Fame, not Hall of Influence or Hall of Originality. Just Fame…Green Day has that.

Here’s what I like about Green Day getting in, though. It likely means we are done with the Hall being just a way for Baby Boomers to make a list of bands they could be nostalgic about. The Woodstock Generation managed to make one last gasp of their brand of Rock and Roll by putting in the Paul Butterfield Blues Band this year. The fact that they had to reach that far down in the hierarchy is a good sign that the days of what is “real rock” being determined by the tastes of what college kids forty years ago liked is over.

I count that as a plus.

By the way, Bill Withers is finally being inducted this year. It goes to show how much influence the white boy rockerism of Jann Wenner has had over past inductees.

A whole litany of snubs, including the aforementioned Buzzcocks and Yes, can be found at Not in Hall of Fame’s rock list. They’ve got NWA and Link Wray on there too. What’s with them not getting recognized?

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Mexican, Shmexican…

Categories: Random Miscelany
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Published on: December 10, 2014

I love cybersquatters. Here is an e-mail I got yesterday:

Hello, I noticed that you own polishmexican.net, which is very similar to a domain I am running an auction for, shmexican.com. The auction for shmexican.com kicks off at $89!

If you have any interest in acquiring shmexican.com, please let me know immediately. This auction will only run for a limited time before being given to the top bidder. At that time, the chance will be lost.

If this is something you would like to participate in you may enter your offer in two ways:

Just respond to this email with your contact information and bid amount and someone from my team will get back to you right away.
Click here to enter your offer directly into the auction website

If you are not interested in this domain or wish to not receive any future notifications, please opt out of the sending of any other notifications at the bottom of this email and I apologize for the inconvenience.

Kind Regards,

Paul

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Welcome , today is Saturday, April 18, 2015