Friday, August 29, 2008

Books and Births

I guess that technically I could say that I’ve finished reading Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell, but I’m determined to get through the essays contained within the appendix before setting it down. Dennett is a philosopher, so Breaking the Spell seems to raise more questions than it answers, but it succeeds in showing that critically examining the origins and effects of religions are not only possible, but quite necessary. I read this tome in preparation for attending the Freedom From Religion convention, which is the second week of October in Chicago. Daniel Dennett will be speaking and receiving the Emperor Has No Clothes Award. Also speaking will be Jeff Sharlet, who has recently written a book called The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. This book exposes a secret evangelical organization called Ivenwald, a Washington-based fundamentalist group living communally in Arlington, Va., whose public face is the National Prayer Breakfast. This network of extremist evangelicals has networks that reach into not only our own government, but also sometimes accompanies U.S. officials overseas. I had been planning on reading this next, also in preparation for the upcoming convention, but I may need to take a break in between books. Maybe I should read a quick mystery before delving back into the (oft times depressing) world of politics and religion.

On a more domestic note: Justin is talking up a storm these days. We can’t keep track of all of the new words he’s using daily. He also seems to be getting more imaginative with his playing. He still loves to dance and sing. Today he even had me up and dancing to the Traveling Wilburys even though I haven’t been in a dancing mood for months.

We had our friends Patti and Rich over on Wednesday evening to watch some Battlestar Galactica and to visit with them before the birth of William. Patti had a appointment with the doctor the following day and was told “not yet,” but by the time she had gotten down to the parking lot her water had broken. They are now proud parents of a health baby boy. We’re hoping to visit them this Sunday.

Missing Shows

I was actually in my bed, listening to the latest Weezer album (the red one), when I remembered recently getting an e-mail announcing their concert date in Seattle. I realized that I would really like to see Weezer live, so I came downstairs and turned on my computer to check on date and availability of the show. It's on Saturday, October 11th. I will be in Chicago for the FFRF convention. Oh well, I'd much rather be inspired and intellectually stimulated by the speakers at the FFRF event than being at home in order to catch one live show at Key Arena. Last year I missed getting great seats for the Zappa Plays Zappa tour, because I was in Massachusetts surprising my parents for their anniversary celebration.

Jen and I did manage to get out last Tuesday to see Intimate Exchanges at the ACT Theatre. I had bought tickets a few months back after watching The Norman Conquests by the same playwright Alan Ayckbourn. The Norman Conquests is a great BBC adaptation that stars Tom Conti and Penelope Keith. I first watched this three part production when it was originally broadcast in 1977. When I found the DVD available on I just had to have it. Luckily I now have an all-region DVD player, so that I can enjoy titles like The Norman Conquests, which is otherwise not available to U.S. audiences. I was pleasantly surprised to see Glittering Prizes released a few weeks ago in the U.S., which also stars Tom Conti and is from that same era. I'm happy to remember that I was watching good British programming like this when I was in high school. My copy of Glittering Prizes should be arriving from Amazon in a few weeks.

Well, now that I've realized that seeing Weezer this fall is not doable I will end this blog entry before I end up on some other tangent that keeps me up for another hour.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Night Out . . . of My Mind

Here’s something that really bugs me about parenting of late: Tonight I had a baby-sitter on duty from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. I took the evening to attend an Atheist Meetup (Sacrilege!) in Ballard. I got home just after 9, hoping that Justin would be well on his way to a good night’s sleep. I was wrong. I made the near fatal error of opening his door to check on him. Now I’ve spent the last hour trying to get him to stay in his bed and go to sleep. My night away becomes yet another frustrating evening trying to get him to GO TO SLEEP! It would be one thing if his lack of sleep at the beginning of the night would translate into him sleeping later in the morning, but no such luck. I’ll be downstairs at 6 or 7 in the morning trying to convince Justin that he’s tired enough to sleep for another hour or so. What I’m really saying is “Daddy is so friggin’ tired. Could you just do me the favor of sleeping until 8:30 a.m., so that I can at least feel somewhat human?” Oh well. What did I think being a stay-at-home dad was going to be about? Rainbows and puppies?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Music as a Soothing Balm

These days I'm doing most of my ranting and raving on my other blog. I try to keep my Destined for Banality blog for more trivial matters. The problem is that nothing seems trivial to me these days. Everything seems to carry so much weight. I sometimes feel like I'm swimming in a sea filled with skein of seaweed and it's difficult to make any progress. It's especially at times like these when my music keeps me afloat in this dark morass. Lately I've been listening to a lot of Weezer, but one of my favorite bands in the recent years has been the Queens of the Stone Age. Some members started out in a band called Kyuss, but QOTSA have morphed quite a bit since then, using musicians such as Mark Lanegan (of The Screaming Trees) and the Foo Fighters Dave Grohl to fill out their sound. I consider their album Songs For the Deaf to be one of my favorite albums of all time. It's downright perfect and certainly a disc I should not be without on the proverbial desert island. But their latest album, Era Vulgaris is really starting to grow on me. Sometimes when I'm lying in bed late at night trying to get to sleep after another day in George Bush's America this is the music that lulls me to sleep.

Ah, nothing like a little "Battery Acid" to calm my frayed nerves at the end of the day. You can have your Braham or Kenny G to help you drift you off to never-never land, but I'll stick with QOTSA.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


I have been remiss with my blogging, but with good reason: my parents had been visiting for just over two weeks. A parental visit will sure knock one's routine out of whack. They flew back to Massachusetts early last Tuesday morning. We're still readjusting, getting our chakras back in alignment and evening out those biofeedback waves. We had originally hoped that my parents would be able to care for Justin a little, while we got some projects done and maybe even had a little time left over to go out on the town. But my parents seemed to have aged recently and Justin is a handful for us, never mind foisting him onto my elderly parents. We did get out last Sunday evening for dinner at Little Thai in the U-district, and some post dinner shopping at Half Price Books.

It's getting quite late and I just finished watching Jean-Luc Godard's Weekend for the second time this week -- this time with the commentary track. I'm also about 100 pages into Daniel C. Dennett's Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. It's a dense philosophical treatise that so far is just postulating questions pertaining to whether science can and should study religion. I'm reading this tome in advance of seeing Dennett speak at the upcoming Freedom From Religion conference. I'm also simultaneously reading a self-help book entitled Getting Real: Ten Truth Skills You Need to Live an Authentic Life. This book knowingly incorporates a lot of Zen type thinking and applies it to being more honest in the moment. It sometimes veers into typically sentimentalist self-help territory, but there are some good communication skills to be gleaned from it.

Getting Real and Breaking the Spell . . . it's all about the truth baby. The truth is out there and it will set you free. At least until truth gets redefined by the corporate powers that pull the puppet strings of our meager existence. Meanwhile I need to seriously consider getting to bed. I promise more inane blog posts soon.