Easter 2024

16 June 2004
Simpson - O.J., the Football Heiligenstadt

SimpsonWhere were you? This author was wearing thin orange shorts and sitting in Gym class when the verdict was read.

Ten years after that fateful Bronco chase, this ESPN article sheds some light on why the Trial of the Last Century was fumbled.

If the trial happened in 2004 instead of 1995, Simpson . . . couldn't have survived the overwhelming DNA evidence. The science is the same, but thanks to the startling popularity of "CSI" and "CSI: Miami," forensics doesn't seem nearly as complicated today as it did in the mid-'90s, when scientists wasted entire days of the trial simply explaining the basics of DNA evidence to the jurors. Of course, those efforts were completely wasted, as evidenced by the words of one juror after the trial:

"I didn't understand the DNA stuff at all. To me, it was just a waste of time. It was way out there and carried no weight with me."

BeethovenEven to this middle school student, it was pretty clear that Simpson was guilty. (I remember trying to explain DNA evidence to my friends.) But I never understood what Simpson was doing in the Bronco.

And if Sports (big S) is the new Art, then tragic hero-genius Simpson will come to be known as the new Beethoven. Read Simpson's suicide note: a "Football Heiligenstadt."

15 June 2004
Copland - Aaron, Organ Symphony (1924)

CoplandOnly seconds after the final chord of the premiere reverberated through Aeolian Hall in New York City, conductor Walter Damrosch turned to the audience to say:

I am sure you will agree that if a gifted young man can write a symphony like this at twenty-three, within five years he will be ready to commit murder!

Unlike O. J. Simpson, Aaron Copland rose to a semi-popular status in this country without killing anyone. And it wasn't a neutral kind of popularity either. Copland created genuine works of art that have left an enduring mark on American music. Of the Organ Symphony, Nadia Boulanger, Copland's (and many other young American composers') mentor, said:

I can't tell you my joy - the work is so brilliant, so full of music.

Boulanger played the organ for the work's premiere in 1924, but it did not exist on record until 1968. It's not a concerto, but it is virtuosic. Like the Dupre Symphony for Organ and Orchestra in G minor, the organ is an integral part of the orchestration without being the object of its affections.

This work is required listening for all organists.

10 June 2004
Charles - Ray, connection to Jean Sibelius

We had to study Bach, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Sibelius.

I've never heard that particular list of "greats," and I am surprised (pleasantly so!) to see Sibelius's name in that list. A list that came from Ray Charles on ABC's Nightline.

A BBC article reports:

. . . he enrolled in formal piano training. He studied Beethoven and Sibelius and enjoyed classical piano . . .

This doesn't make that list of "greats" so hard to understand if we see them as a list of "piano greats." But Sibelius? Hardly a great piano composer. What was Charles doing learning that? Must have been the teacher. Or something.

And if all he was learning was the piano miniatures, he wouldn't have been interested or influenced by the more innovative side of that composer.

But it's not that Ray Charles wasn't a great, innovative musician.

He was a man who could not hide the sheer joy of music-making.

Tangent: Turns out Ray Charles used Sibelius software. Maybe that's as close a connection as there is.


08 June 2004
Moomaw - Donn, Rev., connection to Ronald Reagan

Donn MoomawDonn Moomaw, the Interim Pastor at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church (USA) here in Houston is receiving a lot of media attention this week because of his close pastoral relationship to Ronald Reagan.

Two local news stations, KPRC (NBC) and KHOU (CBS) [subscription] have picked up on the story. Strangely, KTRK, Houston's ABC affiliate, located across the street from the church, has not.

"Reverend" is an adjective that should never used without the full name. With that in mind, can you spot the errors in the first two paragraphs of the NBC story?

St. Andrew's Presbyterian (USA), HoustonHOUSTON -- A Houston-area reverend has special, personal memories of President Ronald Reagan. He served as Reagan's spiritual leader for decades in California.

The Rev. Donn Moomaw is the interim reverend at St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, 5308 Buffalo Speedway, in southwest Houston.

I have been a member of St. Andrew's since 1992, and I have never heard as skilled an orator as Donn Moomaw in that pulpit.

04 June 2004
Houston - belt, loop

Houstonians like to drive, and they like to eat.

In Houston, people orient themselves by two concentric freeways: the larger Beltway 8 and the smaller Loop 610. Maybe I've been away too long, but I've never heard anyone refer to the Beltway as "the Belt." A weather forecaster did this tonight explaining how small a space some severe thunderstorms occupied.

And then there's Sonic, where "eating in" doesn't involve getting out of your car.

For Houston, the second fattest city in the U.S. (beaten by Detroit recently), the space between the belt and its loop is awfully small indeed.

Trip - Euroberlin

Eurotrip 2004 movie posterPerennially jealous of the amount of attention other schools receive on film I was pleased to finally find a supporting role for Oberlin College. Divulging this information, however, means admitting that I just watched Eurotrip (2004), or at least the last five minutes.

At the close of the film, it is a ResLife mistake that allows Mieke (German female) to room with Scott (American male). Scott seemed to have a rudimentary understanding of German, so might he and Mieke have roomed together in German House under the new Co-ed rooming policy?

And in four years at Oberlin, I never saw the river that runs through campus.

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03 June 2004
Faith - $ing the

$ing the FaithAnd now, from the Winter 2003 newsletter of the Presbyterian Association of Musicians (PAM) regarding the new Presbyterian hymnal supplement, Sing the Faith:

Sing the Faith is a work of expediency, designed to make money fast and on the cheap. . . . While there are a number of outstanding hymns in the volume, the vast majority are shockingly poor, both in musical and theological content. The lack of indices is appalling, rendering the volume almost useless. These are a few of the reasons the PAM board has not endorsed the volume.

This scathing critique alone is worth the small cost of a student PAM membership.

02 June 2004

WHAT do you want me to do . . . freak

[Guest post by Laura Sinden, my sister. It's nice to be home. -Ed.]


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