Monday, January 29, 2007

Symposium ‘07

Another Calvin Symposium on Worship has come and gone and I had a great time. I didn't speak or play guitar until after it was all done this year so it was more relaxing that other Symposia of late. The presenters are very good, of course and the worship services are spectacular but perhaps the most fun is reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. Laura and I met and had lunch with Steve Burger from the Evangelical Covenant Church. Steve gave two talks on ministry to children and covers a lot of the same territory that I do in my talks. It was fun getting to know him and hear him speak.

I also got to know Keith and Kristyn Getty and played guitar for their concert Sunday night. Keith is an intense guy and our rehearsals were long and arduous but the concert went well and we had a good time.

I’m now in the very brief time between Sympo and the APCE conference in Philadelphia that I’ll leave for on Wednesday morning. Barely time to catch my breath!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Playing guitar with Keith and Kristyn Getty

This weekend is the annual Calvin Symposium on Worship and it once again promises to be a wonderful couple of days. I was most excited about Keith Getty, who is a modern hymn writer form Ireland. Getty composed "In Christ Alone" and a number of other great songs. I first heard of Getty when his album New Irish Hymns was released in the US under the name In Christ Alone. It was billed as a Margaret Becker, Maire Brennen and Joanne Hogg album, which is true, but they were only the singers. It was pretty clear that this was a Keith Getty album and it was wonderful.

Since then Getty has released three more albums of New Irish Hymns, (Vols 2 - 4) replacing Maire Brennan with Kristyn Lennox who later changed her name with Kristyn Getty when she and Keith married. The albums are only available as an import. I recently got all four of them and they're really good - what a fabulous collection of thoughtful and beautiful worship songs. He and Kristyn have most recently released an album called In Christ Alone. Some of the songs from this album appeared on New Irish Hymns but some are new. It's a great collection of songs for worship.

The most exciting part of this is that I got a call two weeks ago from Greg Scheer asking if I wanted to be in the band for the concert the Gettys are putting on on Sunday evening. Well, let me think about it for half a second - YES! So, on Sunday, Jan 28 I'll be in a small band playing guitar with Keith and Kristyn Getty. I'm pretty excited about it!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, a book by Jan Reid

I was a freshman in college and, even though I had bought the single for “Sunshine of Your Love”, the Blind Faith album and Clapton’s first solo album I somehow missed Layla. (Curiously, I didn’t own any Cream albums until later, because I usually listened to a friend’s copy of Disraeli Gears and Wheels of Fire.) Maybe it was the name of the band, Derek and the Dominoes, or maybe it was the cover which somehow didn’t grab my attention but somehow I completely missed it. Fortunately, that year my good friend and band-mate Pete introduced me to both Layla and the Allman Brothers Band Live at the Fillmore East, two albums which featured Duane Allman. These two albums were the soundtrack to much of that year for me and Pete kept them in my room. I had a stereo and he didn’t. (Hey, it was 1972!) As I got home for the summer and no longer had Pete's copies I went out and bought both albums because they were essential to my listening life.

Many many years later I'm still a big fan of both Eric Clapton and his album, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. I’m surprised at how little I’ve read about Clapton, since I tend to do a fair amount of rock much reading but I just haven't read much about him. So when I saw that this new book by Jan Reid had come out I checked my local library and I was able to get it from one of their cooperating libraries. Along the way looking for this book (and while I waited for it to come in) I picked up Eric Clapton; Edge of Darkness by Christopher Sandford. I’ve written in this blog before about my dislike of Sandford’s book on Paul McCartney so I picked up Edge of Darkness warily. My misgivings were indeed true and I didn’t get very far in Sandford’s book before I put it down in disgust. Sandford seemed to dwell on the drugs, the drinking and the sex. Reid’s book mentions these things – it’s an essential part of the story – but Sandford seems to go out of his way to wallow in it, much like he did in the McCartney book. And I don't like the way he writes.

But I didn’t come here today to complain about Edge of Darkness, I came to say that Jan Reid's Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs by Derek and the Dominoes is a pretty good book. It is nice that Reid really focuses on the time period in which Clapton and the Dominoes recorded Layla. He does some background stuff but all of it is necessary to the put the album and the life of the band in context. He also writes about all five members of the band, although he covers Clapton in the most depth. His primary source for the book was keyboard player and singer Bobby Whitlock who seems to remember pretty well what happened and actually lived to tell about it. He and Clapton are the only survivors of the Dominoes - drummer Jim Gordon is in jail for murder and suffering from schizophrenia, and both guitarist Duane Allman and bassist Carl Radle are dead.

The book is readable and does a nice job of covering the story of the people involved in the book both before and after the band’s short life. I especially enjoyed the chapter in which Reid actually writes about the songs on the album and does a lengthy review, song by song. It’s also nice that he has a chapter on what happened to the band members after the band broke up. That gives nice closure to the story. It seems that both Clapton and Whitlock are happy and well although Clapton has clearly had much more success. The book is not long, reads quickly and, if you’re interested in Clapton or in this incredible album, not only one of Clapton’s best but one of the all-time best rock albums, this book is a valuable resource.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Search for Better Sounding Beatles

The buzz about remastered Beatles coming to a computer near you is getting louder and louder. It seems that the most persistent rumor is that the long-awaited remasters of the Beatles albums will be available on Valentine’s Day on iTunes and then on CD three months later. The exact format of the albums and the timing of the releases are unknown although one intriguing rumor puts the release of Sgt Pepper on the 40th Anniversary of its original release. Of course, with rumors it’s ALL unknown until someone actually makes an announcement. The rumor mill heated up when Steve Jobs featured Beatles music prominently on his announcement of the new iPhone.

I, for one, will wait the three months to buy the CDs but I have been searching for Better Sounding Beatles (BSB) for decades. I, of course, bought the American releases as they came out. I still have my original singles of “She Loves You” (on the Swan label) and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” As a high schooler I sold my Beatles singles to my brother only to get them back years later in trade for a guitar. He no longer has the guitar and I still have the singles. It was actually hard for me as a kid to keep up with all the releases since I would often find out that a new album was coming out by actually seeing it in the record store. But I have a clear memory of picking up my pre-ordered-and-held-behind-the-counter copies of the White Album and Abbey Road so I’m pretty sure I got them on the first day of release. I know that I got Sgt Pepper from my brother for my 13th birthday which was, like, one of the coolest birthday presents EVER. I remember getting Yesterday and Today with the cover that everyone knows – I didn’t get one of those ultra-rare butcher covers. I do, however, still have my copy of the Hey Jude album which was originally called The Beatles Again and my copy actually says The Beatles Again on the disc. (That album was a U.S. only release with a number of otherwise unavailable singles – the only way to get “Hey Jude”, “Revolution”, “The Ballad of John and Yoko”, “Don’t Let Me Down” and others on an album.)

While I lived in Denver I discovered the joy of Japanese imports. Japanese imports sounded better than the US versions and followed the UK order so, for the first time, I heard the albums the way the Beatles put them together instead of their inferior US counterparts. (This is why Capital recently released the two volumes of The Capital Albums, so people could hear the albums the way they remember them.) So, I sold many of my original albums and replaced them with Japanese imports so that I had better sounding albums. Then when the CDs came out I was right there to buy them – literally. I lived a block away from Denver’s largest record store (Peaches, which later changed its name to Sound Warehouse) and was at the door when they opened the day the first batch of CDs went on sale. That year I got one “personal day” at school – a day when you could just take off for no good reason. I chose the day the Beatles albums went on sale. So I sold all my Japanese pressings and picked up CDs which sounded great. Those CDs have been in my collection now for a long time but I can now hear how amazing the Love sounds and I’m geeked about hearing the whole Beatles catalog that way. I hope the rumors are true and that remastered albums will be here by summer!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Owning the Groove, indeed

Thanks to my good friend Ron Rienstra from over at RONdezvous there is now video proof of our awesome New Years Eve drum circle. Ron and Deb and their kids came over on New Years Eve and celebrate the new year together in a magical land called "Trevonia," which is located somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. Why there, you ask? Because midnight in Trevonia is about three of four hours earlier than it is where we live and that allows us to bring in the new year at a time more appropriate for the younger Rienstra children. So this has been our second or third visit to Trevonia and each time it gets better and better.

This year, thanks to Ron's tireless research, we discovered that Trevoians celebrate the New Year with a Drum Circle. By some wild coincidence, Ron and I both got djembes this year (Ron got his for Christmas) and Meredith's friend Calvin had one and we insisted that he bring it. We also had some smaller hand percussion for so others (not cool enough to have their own drum) could participate so we were all set to own the groove on New Years eve. Here is a short clip showing just a little bit of the fun we had. By all means, check out Ron's description of our festivities too! By the way, our families rock at the Bible version of Apples to Apples.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

In praise of good cliffhangers

Another show that I’ve started watching lately is 24. Actually, that’s not true – I started 24 at episode 1, Season 1 but there is something about watching shows with a lot of tension when they’re broadcast that gets to me so I stopped after about five episodes or so. Since that time Meredith has gotten into it big time and lulled me back through DVDs. It helped a lot that Meijer, Target and Best Buy have all offered very cheap prices on complete seasons over the last few months. So I’m all stocked up on 24 DVDs and watching them at a reasonable pace – no more than one episode in a sitting.

Last summer I watched Season 1, in the fall it was Season 2 and since Christmas I’ve been watching Season 3 and they’ve all been great – I’m up to episode 14 now (it’s about 3 in the morning show-time) and, in what is becoming typical fashion, the threat has played out the way they expected it to and, surprise, things aren’t what they thought. So while a threat is still there, they get to focus on a different set of problems. Very clever because some things you just can’t keep going for 24 episodes. For example, Kim and her mom getting rescued half-way through Season 1 was great – I was getting sick of them being held and the change really helped the pace of the season.

Here’s the thing that I have noticed especially about Season 3, though, and it occurs to me that this has been true all along. 24 does not feature stupid cliffhangers. By stupid cliffhangers I mean things like situations where Jack is hanging from a cliff. We all know he’s going to get saved and, sure enough, at the beginning of the next episode it turns out that someone reaches over and pulls him up. Big deal. That sort of thing always makes me feel like I’ve been cheated – like if the camera had pulled back just a little bit I would have seen the other person there and it would have been obvious what was going to happen.

But 24 doesn’t do that – they would show Jack getting pulled up, have Jack say to the person who pulled him up “where’s Nina – did she get away?” and the person would answer “Jack, we lost her – and she has the virus!” See how that’s different? In the better scenario the cliffhanger sets up a whole episode worth of stuff rather than only the first two seconds of the episode. So among other things I like about 24, near the top of my list is the way they end each of the episodes.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Dream Again – Phil Keaggy

I’ve reviewed two other Phil Keaggy CDs since June (Jammed! and Roundabout) and that’s because Phil has been putting them out at a prodigious rate! Phil always seemed to have a lot of music in him and, when I was a frequenter of the Keaggy Fan email list we would occasionally hear about the things that he was working on which we might never see or hear because of record company things. Phil was really hampered by the CCM machine and when he went independent the hope was that he could get out from under their rules and some of their desire for Christian-Radio-friendly songs, that is, songs that say Jesus enough to please the programmers. I always suspected that there was more to Phil than we were seeing. One advantage, though, to the record company rules was that it restricted the number of things Phil could put out and, perhaps, kept the overall quality higher. Dream Again, Phil’s first vocal album in a few years, has its moments but overall doesn’t quite measure up to what he has shown himself to be capable of in the past.

The playing is, of course, spectacular – this is Phil Keaggy we’re talking about after all. But the songs are mostly uninspired. In fact, a lack of inspiration is one of the themes of this album. Two of the songs, “Dream Again” and “Revive Me” travel a similar lyrical path – after years of playing and singing and hassles with record companies and others, Phil felt dry and needed to “dream again” about his career and his music. These two songs, ironically, are the two strongest songs on the album and I really enjoy them. In fact, I caught the chorus from “Dream Again” running around in my head this morning in the shower. I find myself in a bit of a dry place right now and the song spoke to me.

The others, though, mostly fall flat. Some of them, like the songs about and directed to two of Phil’s sisters, are just too autobiographical. They are too much about him and his sister, even referencing where they live and a certain reunion where they got together. When songs get so specific they lose universality. If I’m going to listen to a song about sibling love I want to be able to put myself in the song (as I did in “Dream Again”) and think about my brother. In these songs you can’t do that. The rhyme scheme also comes across as contrived and there isn’t the sort of depth in the lyric that I look for these days. In listening to the text you get the sense that Phil used certain words just because they rhymed. And once you start listening for that on an album, it’s all over. Now lyrical depth was never Phil’s strong suit but in this album he seems to have set the bar lower than normal. Bono once said something like it is the task of the artist to help us feel things. If that's true (and I kind of like that idea) then most of the songs on Dream Again don't accomplish that.

So, there are moments on Dream Again when I cringe at some of the lyrics and there are other moments when I think “yeah, that’s the Phil I was waiting to hear” but those moments don’t occur with the frequency that I was used to in the glory days of Crimson and Blue, Find Me in These Fields and Beyond Nature.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Endless Wire – the Who

Something is up with Pete Townshend but I’m not sure what it is. Actually, based on Endless Wire, the first new Who album in nearly a quarter century, I’m not sure if Townshend knows. The Who is down to only two members now after the deaths of drummer Keith Moon and bassist John Entwhistle. But Who reunions are pretty common – they’ve had a lot of them over the years since they said farewell. But this is the first time they’ve released new music so the interest level was pretty high – at least on my part.

I actually bought the album the week it was released last October but I thought I’d wait until I had it more figured out before I wrote about it. So here it is more than two months later and, while a few things have surfaced for me, there is still much here that I don’t get. One thing seems clear, though – there is something going on between Pete Townshend and God. Religion is taken on outright in “The Man in the Purple Dress” a non-too-subtle slam at organized religion. Townshend tries to put a little “I’m a hypocrite too” line in to soften the tirade but it comes across as forced an insincere. He’s clearly got a problem with anyone who purports to tell anyone else what to believe. But after that diatribe early in the album there are other much more subtle hints that spiritual things are happening on Planet Townshend. In “Two Thousand Years” he says that he’s been waiting that long. Waiting for what? “To ask if I have loved you / To know if I have served you / To find if I've obeyed you / To know if I've betrayed you.” So what’s THAT about? Can you think of anyone famous who lived 2000 years ago? Having this song on the same album as “The Man in the Purple Dress” just makes me confused.

But the God-talk doesn’t end there. In “God Speaks of Marty Robbins” we hear

And when the world began
I'd been asleep forever
I opened one eye
'Twas then it was I
Got the whim to wake

And when the weight of space
Rolled like it was an ocean
One became one
Father and son
Watched the sunrise break

Again, I’m not really clear on what we’re hearing but, as I said, Townshend is playing with the ideas of eternity and God. This is certainly not a new topic for him, having dedicated his first solo album, Who Came First to his spiritual leader Meher Baba, whose major book is titled God Speaks (so that might be a pretty big clue). So Townshend continues to think about God and also continues to think in grand pieces rather than just three-minute pop songs – the last half of this CD is a mini-opera called “Wire and Glass” about an old rock band who’s members have died leaving only two. At least that’s what I think. The story is incomplete without (apparently) reading things from Pete’s website which I haven’t had the patience to do yet – and I really don’t even know if that stuff is still there. Lyrically, this album mostly comes out as a jumble, which is too bad because I get the feeling that underneath all this stuff is an idea or two that Townshend is trying to get across.

Musically, it sounds like the Who but an older, crankier and softer version of the Who. The “Baba O’Reilly” inspired album opener “Fragments” is clearly meant to tell us that the Who – the Who we remember and loved – is back. The rest of the album seems mostly to confound that notion. Not that it’s all bad. Zak Starkey (Ringo’s son!) almost channels the late Keith Moon on the few tracks in which he is present (he certainly does in the included live tracks) and in a few places (“We got a Hit”) it sounds just like what we were expecting. Roger Daltrey’s voice is clearly much older and that shows in a few places. And what was he trying to prove by singing “In the Ether” with that low growly voice?

Overall, the album is a mixed bag. There are enough moments that catch my attention and pull me back but they almost always leave me scratching my head and wondering what’s really going on. That said, the album is still in medium rotation in my CD player – it seems that I keep going back to it because I think there is more there and I just can’t put my finger on it.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

My all-time favorite Beatles Book!

An internet friend asked me for some music-related book recommendations and I started with books about U2 and the Beatles because, well, because that’s what I read. As I was sitting at lunch today I realized that I missed one of the absolute best Beatle books of them all, The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions: The Official Story of the Abbey Road Years 1962-1970 by Mark Lewisohn.

The reason that I almost missed it is that I’ve had it for so long. This book (at least, the first edition, which I own) came out in 1988 and I got it soon after that. I think I perhaps got it for Christmas 1989 because I seem to remember living in Michigan when I got the book and we moved here in the summer of ’89. This book chronicles every Beatles recording session from the beginning in 1962 to the end in 1970, lists when they happened, what happened there and other interesting facts and tidbits. Since it first came out , things like the Anthology recordings have made them even more valuable.

This is, simply, a must-own book for serious Beatles fans. It accomplishes everything it set out to do. Since then a few new things have come to light thanks to McCartney’s authorized Biography and other recent excellent Beatles books which I have noted here before but the sheer amount of data in this book makes it well worth the effort. You’ll want to read it with your CD collection close at hand!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Another new publication

Laura and I received our latest publication in the mail this week. We have written curriculum units for the Walk With Me series from Faith Alive Christian Resources. Our first one, a Christmas Unit called Just Like Me came out last year. Our Easter unit, He’s Alive! Just came in the mail. In addition to these two units we will have a larger summer unit that we expect to be published a bit later this spring. In addition to these, Laura has written two units for their small-church curriculum, Kid Connection – well, one is still in the final stages of being written and should be turned in sometime this week.

So it’s always fun to have final copies of things arrive at your door and this was no exception.

Is Justice really gone this time?

The Fox show Justice seems to have evaporated from the Fox website and doesn't show up on the schedule anymore. I haven't seen any notices anywhere that it was really gone like I did when I wrote this post but I think we may have seen the last of it. That's too bad. I liked it.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Good Beatles Podcasts

There are two excellent Beatles podcasts that you should check out. One is the official one at - you can find the podcast info here.

In addition, I always enjoy the Beatles minute with Andre Gardner. It really is just a minute and gives you an update on what is new in Beatles fandom. Good stuff.

Friday, January 05, 2007

A wonderful Katherine Patterson quote

I was looking at the blog of someone I don't know, one of Bethany's web-friends, and discovered this fabulous quote from Katherine Patterson:

I think it was Lewis who said something like: "The book cannot be what the writer is not." What you are will shape your book whether you want it to or not. I am Christian, so that conviction will pervade the book even when I make no conscious effort to teach or preach. Grace and hope will inform everything I write... Self-consciously Christian (or Jewish or Muslim) writing will be sectarian and tend to propaganda and therefore have very little to say to persons outside that particular faith community. The challenge for those of us who care about our faith and about a hurting world is to tell stories which will carry the words of grace and hope in their bones and sinews and not wear them like fancy dress.

I think this quote is absolutely fabulous and helps explain why I like U2, Over the Rhine and others so much. Thanks to blogger Katherine (who also has some good music postings!) for posting it. She writes "I think Katherine Paterson's stories will make me a better preacher and a better writer." I'm pretty sure we have a copy of Patterson's Bridge to Terabithia downstairs because Laura has a fine collection of older children's literature. I think I'll have to read that.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Still loving Alias

I have been working my way through the Alias DVDs. I bought the fifth and final season when it came out but for some weird reason I wanted to ramp up to it by watching the previous four seasons. I started watching season one again sometime last May I think and have been going through each episode in order. Yeah, it’s a little obsessive but it sure is fun. (I have watched other things in between Alias episodes – after each disc I watch a disc of something else so it’s not quite as obsessive as it sounds.)

So, anyway, last week I finished Season Three, widely considered to be the worst of the five seasons. (In fact, early in season four Vaughn says “last year sucked.” Many fans consider that a shout out to them and a promise to make the fourth season better.) Let me say that while Season Three is clearly the weakest season I almost always enjoy things on DVD more than on broadcast television. For one thing, I can stop any time I want and the picture is really clear. I usually watch a bit just before bedtime on a portable DVD player and I can watch part of an episode if I’m tired or just don’t feel like committing to a whole episode so it’s pretty cool. And because of that I did really enjoy this season and I’m looking forward to diving into season four soon. (I have one more episode on disc three of Lost Season One to watch before I start Alias Season Four.)

Some thoughts about Alias Season Three:

  • I wonder if the producers had it in mind right from the start that Lauren was evil – I was looking for evidence that she was evil in the first episodes and it just isn’t there. It plays like they changed their minds.
  • The CIA is remarkably understaffed. They need agents so badly that they send Vaughn directly from the hospital to a field assignment.
  • Sloan can’t be trusted. Oh wait, maybe he can. Oh no he can’t, I should have seen it all along. Both the strength and the weakness of this show is that you never know if Sloan is for you or against you. Sometimes I’m not sure if the producers knew either.
  • What happened to Lauren’s mother? She just disappeared, never to be seen again.
  • Jack Bristow rocks.
  • I like the way they tried to mirror Jack and Irina with Vaughn and Lauren - unfortunately it didn't work out as well as they'd hoped.
  • Best lines of the season - both belong to Vaughn. After he finds out that Lauren is a traitor Jack tells him he has to pretend that nothing is wrong. Vaughn: "OK, what's plan B because that's not going to happen." Then, when Vaughn jumps out and clobbers Lauren in either the last or second to last episode he looks down and says "Hi, Honey."
  • Marshall playing the drums and singing about Carrie and sushi to Vaughn is not just a Season Three highlight but a series highlight.

So, there it is. All in all, not a bad way to spend 940 minutes, especially spread out over 3 months or so.

[EDIT: I've started Season Four and the first ten or fifteen minutes of the first episode are really outstanding - it really does seem like they decided they needed to get back on track and pulled out all the stops to make it clear to fans that they were back.]

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Notes on the Beatles' Love album

Go here for a track by track discussion of the Love album by the Beatles by the producers, George and Giles Martin. If you have the album you should read this. If you don't have the album you need to go get it and then read this.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

2006 in review

Last year I made a post wrapping up the year so I thought I’d do that again this year. Here are some of the things (in no particular order) that made this year memorable,
  • Leading worship at the Symposium on Worship. In January I played in a band with Kent Hendricks and some other fine folks for the Calvin Symposium on Worship and it was a wonderful experience. It wasn’t the first time I’ve lead worship at these events but it stands out as a time when the band was tight, the people sang well and the spirit was in the house. (read more)
  • Playing music with my kids. My kids and I played an event with author Phillip Yancey. It was a great time and it was fun to work with him. (read more) My kids and I closed out the year by playing for three consecutive church services at 14th St CRC. It was great to get the old band together.
  • Curriculum consultation. The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship sponsored a day-long event so Laura and I could present a curriculum we wrote to teachers from across North America. It was fun and exciting to have a conference like this dedicated to something we wrote. (read more)
  • Eric Clapton concert. I saw Eric Clapton play at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids with Bryan and my colleague Ron Sjoerdsma. It was a wonderful night and Clapton was at the top of his game. (read more)
  • A very intense two weeks in July. At the end of July Laura’s dad died just before I left for my trip to India. My father-in-law had been in a nursing home for a while and his death was expected but it was still difficult. To make things a little trickier I actually left on the day of the funeral, missing the memorial service, and headed out for what may be the most exotic trip I’ll ever take. Not only that but I celebrated my birthday in India - how cool is that! My journal of the trip (including a stop in Paris) is here.
  • Two good conferences with Laura. Laura and I went together to the APCE conference in St Louis and the Children’s Spirituality Conference in River Forest, IL, just outside of Chicago. They were both good events made even more fun because Laura and I got to go together.
  • Lynnae in Honk! My daughter Lynnae had a role in the school musical, Honk!
  • The Class of 1976 reunion. My old friend Ken Winters came out for the Calvin College Class of ’76 reunion and he and Pete and I got together and played a few songs for the get-together, reuniting our old band, Blue Sky for the first time in over 30 years. (read more)
  • Mono. Three of our kids got mono this year. Not fun.
  • Publishing. While I do a fair amount of writing and publishing the big news is that the book that I’ve been writing for quite some time about helping children develop faith has been signed to Baker Books and will be out in about a year. This is a bigger project than any other I’ve ever done on my own (the second math book I wrote a number of years ago was bigger than this though but I had two co-authors and a math book is different.)
  • The end of my involvement in the Lazy Blue Tunas. I quit the Tunas and went out with a wonderful packed-house Christmas show at the One Trick Pony. The boys in the band sent me off in a great way and the crowd was overwhelming, including presenting me with a petition not to leave the band with four pages of signatures. It was a fun night. (read more)

So there it is, 2006 in review. The real living, though, is not in the highlights. It’s in the everyday stuff and I have been richly blessed with health, a wonderful family and a job that I like a lot. Praise God.