Aug 242014

I was only peripherally aware of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge until my friend Eric nominated me and several other folks at church, and my pastor David voluntold me I was doing it. Heh.

Glad to, David, though you’re on a rather short list of people who could actually compel me to!

For the record, we’ll be writing a check as well, and that’s my little addition to the challenge as originally published. Don’t consider yourself off the hook if you go through with it. Just take yourself down to $50 or something.

 Posted by at 3:04 pm
Aug 222014

You ever notice that the best restaurants don’t have a complicated menu? They have one or two or three things that they do very well, and they leave other things to everyone else.

They don’t lose the plot.

Ace Frehley doesn’t lose the plot.

spaceinvaderA perfectly-made cheeseburger isn’t complicated, but sometimes it’s just what you want. And Ace Frehley’s latest album, Space Invader, is a perfectly-made cheeseburger.

Something that I’m only just now able to articulate about Ace is that he is truly a rock ‘n’ roller, as opposed to a hard rock ‘n’ roller. Yes, most of his stuff tilts heavier, but if he gets an idea that goes in, say, a Buddy Holly direction, then he follows it. It’s like he respects the integrity of the thought more than he does what he’s “supposed to be,” and that’s a great thing.

That’s how he ends up finishing and recording songs like “Immortal Pleasures,” which is paradoxically both an oddball and a perfect fit on this record. This song practically announces how it developed. He noodled the first four measures, and said you know, that’s kind of dissonant, but it’s compelling, so let’s figure out how to make it work.

And it does. And there it is, popping up on your commute. And you turn your head and say “what is this?” But your potential objection fades as quickly as it appeared, because it grabs you on its terms, and you gleefully submit to the ride.

Kiss has recorded two studio albums in the 21st century. Both contained songs I thought would fit on classic Kiss records, only betrayed by modern production.

But this Ace record has me pulling the wheel the other way. Songs like “What Every Girl Wants” and the single “Gimme a Feelin'” may be the true spiritual successors to the straight ahead rock ‘n’ rollers from the first three Kiss albums. Three chords, a big chorus, and crank it up, baby.

Mmmm, I do love me a good cheeseburger.

Other longstanding Ace traditions are back, as well. The entertaining cover this time around is Steve Miller’s “The Joker,” so if hearing Ace say “pompatus” is on your bucket list, get ready to cross it off. The instrumental “Starship” breaks with the long-running “Fractured” series, while maintaining a spiritual kinship. The outer space references are more numerous than ever. (Might turn that down a little next time, man. It flirts with cornball when it’s laid on this thick.)

The only thing I really don’t like about the record is that the production seems a bit shrill from time to time. It’ll be humming along and I’ll think “wow, that’s really loud and trebly all of a sudden.” It’s subtle and a minor complaint that may not even bother some folks.

That I do not like this album as much as 2009’s Anomaly is a testimony to the excellence of that record, not a knock on this one. Space Invader is another great release from Ace, and a no-brainer for his fans. Grab it. You’ll dig it.


 Posted by at 3:08 pm
Aug 212014
  • Problem: Second-generation Honda Odyssey EX air conditioner front fan won’t work; rear fan blows warm air. Likely solution: replace transistor assembly, Honda part #79330-S84-A41, under the dash in the passenger footwell. Three screws out with a stubby Phillips; unplug wiring harness; replug wiring harness into new part; three screws in. Done. (Tip: Remove the screw that is closest to the center of the vehicle last and replace it first.) Tight quarters for a fat guy, but I managed it. Retelling the story here to increase its search engine footprint. Don’t pay the dealership to fix this, folks.
  • August finally arrived. Borderline oppressive (that is to say, seasonal) heat and humidity are forecast for at least another week.
  • Two people, within 20 minutes of each other, laid the ice bucket challenge at my feet yesterday morning. The first was my pastor. By the time I saw his email, he’d already sent a second one informing me that I’d be doing it with him and two other church members immediately following second service this Sunday. At least it’s going to be hot! I was going to buzz my head this weekend. Think I’ll wait until after this.
  • WOW! has come through with the SEC Network with almost two weeks to spare. Good for them. It probably saved their entire business model in the state of Alabama. (Huntsville-area WOW! customers: you have it on channel 985.)
  • Two IndyCar races to go in the 2014 season. The championship is Will Power‘s to lose. He’s hardly my favorite driver, but part of me is pulling for him. He’s finished second in the championship three times, and he has done some outstanding driving this year.
  • Burger King has mostly canned its slightly-better-for-you Satisfries, making them the latest example of a decent idea that was very poorly executed.
  • Ace Frehley’s latest Space Invader is getting most of my aural attention right now. review coming tomorrow.
 Posted by at 7:23 am
Aug 202014

You may remember me talking a bit about Bill Istad last Christmas. Bill is a formerly homeless man who my church is supporting on recovering his life.

Bill was baptized tonight. He wanted to be immersed, and we don’t have a baptistry at Good Shepherd. Thanks so much to our friends at The Rock Family Worship Center for loaning us theirs.


I’ll echo the sentiments in that Christmas post and say what a blessing Bill is in our lives. He is hope and redemption, walking around. I think he embodies God’s grace more than any other person I’ve ever known.

We’re all so proud of you, Bill. God bless you!

 Posted by at 7:59 pm
Aug 192014

We need a productive and fruitful conversation on the increasing militarization of police forces.

We need a productive and fruitful conversation on police forces and race.

We can accomplish none of the above without first stopping a city of more than 20,000 people from tearing itself to pieces.

President Obama, this is sustained civil unrest on American soil. Amnesty International is there, for goodness sake. You don’t send your thug attorney general to “investigate.” You use all of the power of your position to stop the violence. That is not issuing a statement. That is not coming in for a few “high level meetings” before jetting back to Martha’s Vineyard.

How about a heartfelt address to the nation, urging your commitment to progress but also insisting that Americans stop fighting Americans?

It’s as if you either don’t realize how serious this is, or you’re measuring your responses against political consequences. But this is no time for such calculation. We could wake up to read that 50 people died overnight in an all-out riot. We could wake up to ten city blocks burning out of control.

Everyone must stop. There is no other next step.

Mr. President, lead.

 Posted by at 3:55 pm