Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Reimagining Ezekiel's Wheels

I was driving down 8 Mile Road, which I do every weekday afternoon, and I saw one of these very popular "donk" vehicles:

You see them all the time in Detroit, of course, but this time something was sparked in my mind, because it had that kind of "spinner" wheel, the kind that looks stationary even when the car is moving.

I was suddenly reminded of this passage from the 1st Chapter of Ezekiel:

This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like chrysolite, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel.  As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the creatures faced; the wheels did not turn about as the creatures went. Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes all around.
So, clearly, what Ezekiel seems to have (fore)seen is one of these donk cars with 22" or 24" rims.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Battle of The Rowans.

I wanted to do an experiment to determine who has had more impact on the world:  Rowan Atkinson (probably known to you as "Mr. Bean"), or Rowan Williams (the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury).

So, I went to Google, and typed "rowan" into the search field.  The "suggestions" that Google automatically displays are arrayed in order of popularity, with the most popular searches first.

These are the results:

rowan atkinson
rowan university
rowan miranda
rowan tree
rowan williams

The implications are clear:  People deem Rowan Atkinson to be of more importance than Rowan Williams.  Why is this?

I'm sure that there are several reasons, but one of them may be this:  That Rowan Atkinson, the comic, stands for something clear and definite, while Rowan Williams does not.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, Rowan Atkinson:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Anti-Serenity Prayer

You all have heard of the Serenity Prayer, the short form of which is:

God, grant me the serenity To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
But looking at the Psalms of David, I have to believe that God wants us to say what we really feel when we pray.

Therefore, I have composed my own Anti-Serenity Prayer:
God, I find that almost everything needs change.
I confess that I find much in Your world to be intolerably bad.
Therefore, grant that today I can be such a badass (God being my helper) that I can change anything and everything.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Two Other Poems of Mine

These poems are three years old.  I hadn't published them on this blog before, however.

Adam's Joy

Our protoplastic parents ventured east,
And said farewell to Eden at the gate,
With fresh-named animals in vast array
(Those newly undomesticated beasts).
They wondered at this young world's future fate,
And Eve and her mourning were the ninth day.

Though outwardly his brow was dewed with sweat,
Young Adam's visage shone with inner light,
Because the very God who bade him leave
(Whose property is never to forget)
Remembered his petition in the night:
Take Eden, gracious Lord, but leave me Eve.

© 2007, Paul Erlandson

This one, I wrote for my wife:


When other poets (e.g., Shakespeare, Donne)
Compare their brilliant lovers to the sun,
'Tis heat they feel and blinding light they see.
But I would praise my lover's gravity.

A foolish planet wandering away
I've traced unruly orbits of decay.
But even when my homing sense is dull,
No other star can lure me by her pull.

I strain her faithful satellite to be,
Though every planet has his apogee.
But perigee returns, her strength still there.
I find it to be more than inverse square,

Rewarding always my proximity
With body fixed and fair and heavenly.

© 2007, Paul Erlandson

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A New Poem - Homing

I just put the finishing touches on this poem, which I dedicate to my wife Cindy.


In the purple evening,
In the gloaming:
Cease my restless ravening,
Bind my roaming,

Lest I stray from my true
Course, confuted,
And by devils' ague
Be deluded.

Make me drive unhindered
To that haven
Where true love on kindred
Hearts is graven.

With wife and children ring
Me all around
With mirth and angel wing
And merry sound.

Put to rest my mind's
chaotic foaming.
Give me following winds
And happy homing.

© 2010, Paul Erlandson

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Happy Birthday, Bob Weir!

Today is the 63rd birthday of Bob Weir, one of the founding members of the Grateful Dead.  For those who don't know, I have become quite a Deadhead lately.  It all started when I had Sirius radio for a few months in a lease car, and discovered the Grateful Dead Channel.

It started with Scarlet Begonias, and just blossomed on out from there.  I discovered so many great Dead songs that I never knew existed!

So, anyway, Happy Birthday to Bob Weir!  I thought I would celebrate by posting this excellent version of him and the band singing Rev. Gary Davis' song, Samson & Delilah:

I just love that song. Here is a painting I did of Reverend Gary Davis, who wrote the song:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Passion for Distinction

John Adams, the 2nd President of the United States, once wrote:
"I believe there is no one principle, which predominates in human nature so much in every stage of life, from the cradle to the grave, in males and females, old and young, black and white, rich and poor, high and low, as this Passion for Superiority … Every human being compares itself in its own imagination, with every other round about it, and will find some superiority over every other real or imaginary, or it will die of grief and vexation.  I have seen it among boys and girls in school, among lads at college, among practicers at the bar, among the clergy in their associations, among clubs of friends, among the people in town meetings, among members of the House of Representatives, among the grave councilors, on the more solemn Bench of Justice, and in that awfully august body of the Congress, and on many of its committees – and among ladies every where – but I never saw it operate with such keenness, ferocity and fury, as among military officers.  They will go terrible lengths, in their emulations, their envy and revenge, in consequence of it."
 In that passage, Adams calls this particular drive the "Passion for Superiority".  But sometimes he also referred to it as the "Passion for Distinction":
"There is none among them [the passions] more essential or remarkable, than the passion for distinction."
According to Adams, this passion for distinction was,
"a desire to be observed, considered, esteemed, praised, beloved, and admired by his fellows."
 I think that not only was Adams correct, but that this principle explains nearly all of the odd and unusual actions I have taken throughout my whole life.  The flavour of the word "distinction" which Adams used is pretty clear:  it means essentially the same as "superiority".  But I would add another layer of meaning to that.  For me the "passion for distinction" is about being intentionally and decidedly different from all other men.  As the Chocolate Watch Band put it, I'm Not Like Everybody Else:

It explains so much.  It explains why I put those J. C. Whitney torpedo lamps on the C-pillar of my 1972 Dodge Veg-O-Matic.  It explains why, as a public school math teacher, I once swallowed a cricket in class.  It explains why my musical taste runs to obscure psychedelic and garage bands from the 1960s, bands almost nobody knows about.  It may even explain my undying devoted to that quirky branch of Christ's church known as Anglicanism.

I do these things, in large measure, because others do not.

When I am honest about it, I think that I have a huge fear of being ordinary, average, or normal.  I don't think that this is altogether healthy.  But, it does give me a certain drive or resolve, without which much of what I have achieved would have been left undone.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

God as Kosmic Kustomizer

After 52 years on God's green earth, I have finally come up with a rational explanation as to why I prefer women to men.

But, first, we have to begin with Sam Barris, who bought a brand-new 1949 Mercury at the close of 1948.  He drove the car around stock as his daily driver, until he figured out how to chop the top on it.  That was in 1949.  His modifications to the '49 Merc hit such a sweet spot that they have been replicated hundreds (if not thousands) of times since then.

There is a saying on my "side of the tracks" in the car hobby.  It goes:
Anyone can restore an old car; it takes a real man to cut one up!
And so I think of Adam and Eve.  Adam, being created first, was the "stock" model.  I picture God looking at Adam and scratching His head, and thinking:  Hmmm ... I wonder ... if I ... flared out the rear fenders a bit, shaved that annoying hood ornament, and put a couple of Gurney bubbles on the torso ... maybe slim down the jaw line a bit.

VoilĂ !  Presenting ... Woman ... the Kustomized Man!

I'm just the kind of guy who can never leave a car alone.  There is always room for improvement, whether radical or subtle.  I will always pick the kustomized ride over the stock one.

One might even be tempted to say:
Any deity can make a man in his own image.  It takes a real God to cut one up!

Friday, October 8, 2010

My Own Muse Poem

I wanted a Muse poem of my own, so I wrote this yesterday morning.

I feel a little bad about the in-your-face tone of this poem.  I hardly ever adopt that pose except when trying to psyche myself up to lift heavy weights ... or when dealing with other alpha-male drivers on Detroit's freeways.

But I like it because I cannot recall having seen anything else like it.

My Muse Can Beat Up Your Muse

My muse can beat up yours – don't even try her.
She's armed with wit and sense and holy fire.
Unparalleled in her alacrity,
She will not sanction mediocrity.
Her frightening aesthetic probity
Eschews the common for the rarity.
At home with pen or brush, with harp or lyre,
Her beauty doth continually inspire.

Your muse, I'm sad to say, is often slow.
She's tardy to arrive, but quick to go.
Your muse plants only barren things and plain
Within the convolutions of your brain.
While my muse grants me victory again,
You cannot yet complete your first quatrain.
Your paper fallow, not a word will grow.
Your pen will never reap if she won't sow.

But let us pass from talking of her ways,
And turn again my worthy muse to praise.
In speed and grace she never fails to please,
Likewise in balancing asymmetries.
To discipline and form she holds the keys.
Yet wild she is, untamed as any breeze.
I will not fail to heed her piercing gaze,
Nor fail to thank God for her all my days.

© 2010, Paul Erlandson

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Requiem - New Poem from Cynthia Erlandson

This is a poem my wife recently completed. I hope you like it.


Three headstones: one marked “Love,” one “Everlove,”
And one – cathedralesque in ancient time,
Now cracked and leaning as if it would fall,
Marked “England” – cast their autumn evening’s pall
Of blended shadow shaped into a spire.
It pierces like an arrow of desire
That only heaven ever will remove.

Fast falls the eventide; now rings the chime
Heard by the faithful as a worship call;
But by those deaf to truth as just the fall
Of one more hour of climbing Babel’s tower,
Or one more vacant night to strive to fill
With empty-minded acts of bland good will
Which time will terminate, and death devour.

Unconscious of the evening clouds that lower
While autumn sunset burns the sky with gold,
The commerce-kings rush past at Vespers’ hour,
As if life’s meaning might be bought and sold.
Blind to the churchyard’s sure and certain sign,
They miss the sun’s last, horizontal ray
That shines on granite stones, foreshadowing
The lightened darkness of that final Day
For which the remnant worshippers still pray.

And do our hearts in modern times incline
To bury ancient landmarks, crumple creeds?
Yet True Jerusalem still intercedes
Amidst the clouded hills of God’s design.
Thus hinges history on pew and quire,
Surviving on the embers of her fire.

© 2010, Cynthia Erlandson

Monday, October 4, 2010

3rd Annual Hot Rod Anglican CafePress Awards

October has snuck up on us again, so it is time for the 3rd Annual Hot Rod Anglican CafePress Awards.

How it works:  I go to CafePress, and type the word "Anglican" into the search field.  This year, I also typed "Episcopal", to see what that would turn up.

For you newcomers, here are links to the last 2 HRA CafePress Awards blogs:

1st Annual
2nd Annual 

Okay, here we go with the 2010 winners!

In the "T-shirt most likely to cause people to squint" category, we have this fine Thirty-Nine Articles T-shirt.  I'm not sure how many people would stop to read it, considering how few can even find it in the BCP.

In the "Remaking God in our own image" category, it was a 3-way tie!

In the "Suffer the little children ... NOT!" category, the result was unanimous:

These fuchsia girls shorts won the "Superfluity of Naughtiness" division:

This mug won the "Best Beer Stein" category:

In the brand new "Coffee Mug I Will Actually Order" category, how could I not pick thisTe lucis ante terminum mug?

The "Tell It Like It Is" award goes to the Youth Group of St. James, Bozeman:

We take a pause in the action to note that when you search CafePress for "Episcopal", you turn up "lesbian" and "gay" as related searches.

With this in mind, a new category,  "Shameless Plug for Anglican Heterosexuality", has been approved.  Here is the winner:

In the "T-Shirts Many Anglicans Actually Need" category, it was not even close.  Sometimes, I wish I had this shirt:

And, last but not least, for the "Mouse Pad Most Likely to Defend the Faith", we have this lovely Quicunque vult (Athanasian Creed) mouse pad.  Obviously, there was not room for the entire text!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A New Guitar: Hallmark Swept Wing

I bought this guitar earlier in the year, and have been really happy with it.  It's a Hallmark Swept Wing, which I purchased directly from Hallmark Guitars.

I first learned about this model from Rick, one of the guitar players from the Detroit-based surf instrumental group, the Volcanos.  I heard him play it at the Detroit Autorama in early 2009, and had wanted one ever since.  I love not only the sound of the thing, but its wacked out body shape.

Here is a video of the "Orange Crush" Swept Wing in action.  It is my band, Chrome Folk Bar-B-Q performing the traditional Spiritual, Elijah Rock.

And here are the Volcanos, with Rick wielding his Swept Wing on the song Beatnik Bandit:

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Mariska Veres Tribute

I meant to have posted this yesterday, because October 1 was the birthday of Mariska Veres, lead singer of the Dutch pop/rock band Shocking Blue.

So, I am a day late.

This is a little music video I put together for the 40th Anniversary of the release of the Shocking Blue record Send Me a Postcard.  Shocking Blue did so much more than Venus, which is what everyone remembers them for.

The "ning" website advertised in the video is no longer active. Instead, go to THE NEW SHOCKING BLUE MEMORIAL WEBSITE.