Sunday, April 21, 2002

I like the "If you like A, then you'll like B" recommendations on Amazon. They also have the "Customers who bought X also bought..." list. I have found those helpful. I was wondering if any of you could recommend some other books/authors to me based on this list. You may not have read a lot of these authors, but it's worth a try.

I like...
Steven Saylor (ancient Roman mysteries)
Leon Uris
Arturo Perez-Reverte (I enjoyed FP and CD but the FM fell short - became predictable) (mysteries)
Nelson DeMille (military and political thrillers)
Roger Zelazny (sci-fi)
Robert Heinlein (sci-fi)
Ann Rule (true crime)
Nevada Barr (mysteries)

I know, a lot of these people write pop fiction. I enjoy a lot of it, though, and I'm always on the lookout for good new authors. If anyone has any ideas, let me know.
I also enjoy medical thrillers (but not Robin Cook) and historical fiction. Sometimes I need a break from all the hard stuff.
I started on Rayburn's O Come, Let Us Worship this weekend. Good stuff. However, it's written for pastors. Sometimes I wonder how much I can benefit from reading stuff written for pastors. I read the chapter on funerals first. I found it extremely thought-provoking.

I'll never forget one of the funerals Duane performed while he was pastoring in Mississippi. His great-uncle died (he hadn't spoken to him in years) and someone called him to do the funeral. They were going to pipe music in so I offered to play. It was the first funeral I played for. I made myself sick trying to think of the most appropriate music to play. None of the family had any requests. I picked a standard funeral repertoire, I suppose - Rock of Ages, It Is Well, and a few others. Needless to say, I shouldn't have worried so much. The pallbearers all came in jeans, boots, and old too-tight Budweiser t-shirts with big flowers pinned on. One guy brought his guitar and sang "Sing Me Back Home" by Merle Haggard. Apparently, that's an old country song about a guy on death row. Duane almost choked when he heard the guy start singing it. How touching.

I don't know why I brought that up. Probably because of the chapter in the Rayburn book.

I've got to go cross-stitch now.
Duane got a lot of comments when he posted about his ambivalence concerning Harry Potter. I wonder if I'd get the same response if I posted about my ambivalence concerning Martha Stewart.

Tuesday, April 16, 2002

I'm just blogging to put off a cross-stitch project I'm working on for my mom. (I bet all of you have the same problem.) I want to have it done by Mother's Day but some days I find that no matter what I do, every stitch gets stuck, or gets pulled too tight, and I figure that's when I'm not supposed to be working on it. It will be nice when it's done - it's a picture of a big blue crab that will eventually be a pillow. I'm from Annapolis, and my parents still live there, so a blue crab is definitely apropos for their living room. Maybe I'll post a picture of it when it's done. I'm sure everyone will hit my blog just because they want to see my cross-stitched blue crab.

A friend of mine invited me to be a lay judge for a practice debate session today. Our local homeschool association is preparing for a regional debate tournament this weekend and they needed to practice. I was apprehensive at first because I know nothing of the official rules of debate. I've only seen two and I've listened to one on tape. That would mean that I am NOT qualified to judge.

I had a great time and all the kids did a fantastic job. Although the negative won both debates, I thought they all did very well. The first debate was close, with my judgment see-sawing with each rebuttal. The second debate was not nearly as close, as the negative team did a very thorough job of appealing the affirmative's loss on stock issues. I can't believe how much I learned in three hours about the official rules and structure of debate. I hope they all do well at the tournament.

Saturday, April 13, 2002

In loving support of my husband, Duane, who seems to be stirring up the pot with his link to the "Dancing Banana," I say we all go enjoy some peanut butter and jelly with a baseball bat. (Whatever that means. We still can't figure it out.)
We watched John Cusack in Serendipity today, and although it was mediocre at best, seeing John Cusack reminded me of one of my all-time favorite movie lines. “It was just as if everyone had swelled.”
Duane and I were talking a few nights ago about songs that make us feel melancholy. Here were some of mine:
Meatloaf’s “For Crying Out Loud”
Dan Seals' “You Still Move Me”
Annie Lennox’s remake of “A Whiter Shade of Pale”
It’s amazing what music can do to bring back memories, whether happy or sad, bidden or unbidden. For instance, The Cure’s “Standing on a Beach” album brings back a flood of memories for me from 8th grade, when all my friends wore black fingernail polish, black lipstick, and cammie pants with jump boots. (Notice I said my friends, not my friends and I…) I still hold on to some Andrew Lloyd Webber as a reminder of my tastes from high school and college.

At small group the other night, my friend Dave had a bottle of beer called La Fin du Monde, which for you Anglophiles out there is “The End of the World” in French.
Duane and I did a spontaneous thing (gasp!) today. We ran over the river to the Covenant bookstore to see what they had. We found some gems, buried deep in the stacks stuffed between two more-aesthetically pleasing volumes of something or another. We picked up another Book of Psalms for Singing, as well as Shepherd’s The Call of Grace and Rayburn’s O Come, Let Us Worship. Then we had lunch at Growler’s Pub. Can't beat that!
I am the type of person who can read and re-read books many times over. I just began re-reading Bob Brier’s The Murder of Tutankhamen, which postulates that King Tut was murdered by his vizier, Aye, in a premeditated act of trauma to the head with a blunt object.

Some of the topics Brier discusses include the move of the capital city from Thebes to Amarna, the invention of the “first” monotheistic religious system by Tut’s father, Akhenaten, Akhenaten’s Marfan’s Syndrome, Tut and his wife Ankhesenamen’s two miscarriages, and military and political motives for the murder of Tut. I found that I was an unsuspecting sympathizer with Tut; he was just a teenage boy who truly loved his wife (unusual for royalty in ancient Egypt). He wanted to play board games with her and they wanted to have children together. He really was just a pawn in a politico-military conspiracy.

One of the themes that runs through this book puts a lot of emphasis on the certainty of Egypt’s timelines. Many scholars date the formation of Akhenaten’s monotheistic religion hundreds of years before Judaism and many (in a roundabout way) accuse King David of “lifting” Akhenaten’s “superior” and “revolutionary” monotheistic poetry. The prayers of Akhenaten to the sun disk, Aten, sound rather maudlin. They remind me of the language of the Koran – they say something, but they don’t really say anything.

The problem with ancient Egypt’s timelines rests in the Egyptian’s revisionism – in Egypt’s case, the winners really did write the history books. Egyptians had no qualms about running around scraping names of losing leaders and rulers off of their walls, erasing all the paintings and murals of those leaders, and getting rid of any primary sources that acknowledged those leaders and their losses (or accomplishments). Tut’s name was all but removed from Egyptian history by Aye and his followers; Hatchepsut, Egypt’s only female pharaoh, had her name virtually erased from Egyptian history simply because the rulers that followed her did not want to acknowledge her successes. Gaps of decades and even hundreds of years were created by Egyptians who wanted to ensure a sort of Homeric ideal for their dynasties. We think the revisionism of American history is bad; Egyptian revisionism takes the cake.

Here’s a sample of Akhenaten’s poem to the sun disk, Aten, that Brier implies King David may have been heavily influenced by:
Splendid you rise in heaven’s lightland,
O living Aten, creator of life!
When you have dawned in eastern lightland,
You fill every land with your beauty.
You are beauteous, great, radiant,
High over every land;
Your rays embrace the lands,
To the limit of all that you made…

How many are your deeds,
Though hidden from sight,
O sole God beside whom there is none!
You made the earth as you wished, you alone,
All peoples, herds, and flocks…

For those of you who enjoy a good murder mystery with lots of intrigue or if you are fascinated by embalming techniques and mummification rituals, you’d probably enjoy The Murder of Tutankhamen.

Thursday, April 04, 2002

I will lift up my eyes to the hills-
from whence comes my help?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber not sleep.

The LORD is your keeper,
the LORD is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The LORD shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in
from this time forth, and even forevermore.

Wednesday, April 03, 2002

Unfortunately, I've gotten hooked on a new TV show - the American Embassy on Fox. I like the girl that plays Emma, the lead character, and I've liked the plotlines. She's They really write her character well. She does narration in letters she writes to her sister. (I think it's her sister - I missed the first episode, so I'm not sure.) It's pretty insightful. I only started watching it because Monday Night Football isn't on right now. (Right, who believes that one? Really, it's true. I watch MNF. I just never stay awake for the whole game.)

Which leads me to another question. I grew up on the East Coast, where prime time is 8:00 - 11:00, and the news comes on at 11:00, so people stay up til 11:30, then go to bed. When I worked out there, I still had to be at work around 7:00 or 7:30. Out here in the midwest on central time, prime time is 7:00 - 10:00, and the news comes on at 10:00, so people stay up til 10:30, then go to bed. Rush hour is the same as on the East Coast, 7:00 - 8:30 or so here in St. Louis. So, do people on the East Coast sleep an hour less each night, and is that why they're all go grumpy?

It's puzzling. Duane asked me about it a long time ago. He grew up around here (mostly) and can't fathom the news coming on at 11:00 and still having to get up at the same time to go to work. Someone help me out.
This is a meaningless post. I have nothing to say. I haven't read anything today. I didn't watch the news. I didn't listen to the radio...except for a few minutes of Roger Hedgecock sitting in for Rush. I like Roger better than Rush. He actually agrees with people sometimes. This stay-at-home Mom thing has left me feeling kind of disconnected sometimes.

I made some sweet corn-cake last night that was SO good. It tasted just like the stuff you get at Chi-Chi's (if you're on the east coast) or Casa Gallardo (for all you midwesterners out here). I'll have to make it again sometime. It was from a copycat recipe website. I've also tried the KFC fried chicken, which wasn't very good. The best one I've found, though, is a Cinnabon recipe for the bread machine. Easy, fast, and OH MY, are they good!
The Barlows had us over for Easter dinner on Sunday. We had pork tenderloin, fresh asparagus, sweet potatoes, and rolls. Their neighbor, Miss Liz, came over and brought some good cheesecake and german chocolate cake. Everything was delicious, and we had a wonderful time of fellowship getting to know them. Bailey even got to play with some plastic dinosaurs! You can't ask for any more than that.

Tuesday, April 02, 2002

Here's the humor I promised you.

Two peanuts were walking down the street. One was assaulted.

A photon was driving down the highway. A cop pulled him over and asked to see his driver's license. The photon replied, "I don't have it with me, Officer." The cop asked why not and the photon replied, "Because I'm traveling light."

Two hydrogen atoms were walking down the street. One said to the other, "I'm really depressed! I lost an electron today." The other atom said "Are you sure?" He replied "I'm positive."

Three strings walked into a bar to get a drink. There was a sign over the bar that said "No strings allowed!" The bartender looked at the strings and said "Hey! You're strings! We don't serve your kind here." Dejected and thirsty, the strings left the bar and stood out on the street. One string got an idea. He bent over, tied himself up, and mussed up his hair. He walked back into the bar and ordered a drink. The bartender said, "Hey! I know you! Aren't you one of those strings that came in here before trying to get something to drink?" The string replied, "Nope. I'm a frayed knot." (Thanks, Dad!)

How 'bout them TERPS? I really dislike basketball, but I have to be proud of Maryland. When I was there the basketball program was just getting started, but all the guys left early for the pros. I was glad to see several seniors stick it out, work hard, and win a championship.

Woo-hoo, Maryland!

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