Friday, December 30, 2011

I am Episcopalian ...

Because this deserves MUCH greater circulation:

The Artist Militant versus The Artist Triumphant

Every painting is a battle for me.  Some are not as difficult as others, but they are all battles.  Some are rather protracted campaigns, while others are shorter skirmishes.  Some end in decisive victory, and others end with my signature on a treaty of surrender.

My point today is about how different the battle looks during the battle from the way it looks a year or two later, in hindsight.  I have made several paintings about which, upon their completion, I could not say whether or not they were successful.  And certainly during the middle stretches of each painting, success seems very much in doubt.

Here is a painting that I worked on for about 2 years.  I finished it in the summer of 2010.  While it was going on, I always doubted whether the glass blocks (which took forever!) and the granite would be at all convincing when the thing was finished.  Now, 18 months later, I am convinced.  I am happy with the result.

Funny how that works.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Rickenbacker Evolution: Vintage Guitar Collection!

This is a spectacular video tour of a large, unique Rickenbacker guitar collection.  A must see video for all fans of Rickenbacker musical instruments!  From PREMIERGuitar.

Thought-Provoking Atheist Bumper Sticker

I don't know why it is that lately I am running into more (or am more attuned to notice) atheist advertising.  First, it was this Santa billboard.  Then, a few days later, I saw this bumper sticker on the back of an SUV:

This has several features to commend it.  First of all, it carries a complex thought in a relatively small number of words. You cannot effectively squeeze a lengthy manifesto onto a bumper sticker size rectangle.  But this sticker manages to say something philosophically profound in 15 or 16 words, which makes it rather elegant.

The second thing I like about it is its refreshing acknowledgment of the awesomeness of God, and of man's smallness, dependence, and frailty by comparison.  In short, it adequately recognized the Creator-creature distinction (pretty good for an atheist!):  It realizes what an audacious thing it is to question Almighty God.  The whole phrase just rings with the injustice of puny man daring to confront and question God his Creator, of daring to drag God, Job-like, into court to press one's complaint against Him.  In fact, the sentiment as expressed could almost have been lifted out of one of the later chapters of the book of Job:
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?  Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.  Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.  (Job 38:1-4)
The next commendable thing about this atheist bumper sticker is a startling thing, indeed.  For it assumes a Calvinist understanding of God's work in creating faith in the hearts and minds of men.  The clear assumption here is that God is Sovereign over mankind, choosing those in whom He will create faith.  This is a Romans 9 understanding of human salvation, a rare enough thing to find in Christians, an odd oracle indeed in the mouth of an atheist.  Or, is it?  I have long noted that non-believers can often be more honest in the interpretation of Scripture than Christians since, for the atheist, nothing (as he supposes) is "riding" on it.  Since Scripture is hogwash from his point-of-view, he is free to be totally honest about what it says.  And what it says is that God determines who will answer the call of the Gospel:
All that the Father giveth me shall come to me ... (John 6:37)
After all this praise, you may be asking what it is that I find wrong or lacking about the sentiment expressed.  Two things, primarily.  One centers around the use of the word "want".  To use it without comment (as one must needs do in a bumper-sticker length sentence) confuses God's Decretive Will and His Prescriptive (Preceptive) Will.  God does "want" every atheist to believe, because He commands it:
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent. (Acts 17:30)
Finally, the atheist is being presumptuous in assuming that because he does not currently believe in God, that it is God's will for him never to believe.  That is a totally unwarranted conclusion.  And chiefly because of this error, I'm afraid that the poor atheist in the SUV is likely to keep having Gospel seed flung on him by Christian after Christian, all his life long.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

World's Greatest Drag Race?

I don't know if this lives up to the title, but it is worth watching:

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame 2011 Reunion

This event looks to have been a blast!  All the old drag cars look great!

 Our fried Bob Lees was there with the "High & Mighty II" Ramchargers tribute car.

Monday, December 26, 2011

More on Planet Fitness

These are kind of long (and the first has needless use of the F-word), but they illustrate the position which Planet Fitness has taken up in the market. They really DO have pizza night.

I Want To Be a Bodybuilder (Part 3)

I think I may have posted some of the videos here before. I like Part 3, because it gets into the whole Planet Fitness thing. Of course, I support their right to refuse membership to anyone they choose, but their anti-bodybuilder stance still amuses me. It is not a "Judgment-Free Zone", as they claim.

In case you missed them, here are the other parts from YouTube:

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Cemetery Gates: Death and Mourning Through the Ages

Those who are regular readers of this blog may know of my interest in cemeteries, and in photographs and paintings of cemetery scenes.  I recently had one of my photographs published in this book, but interestingly it was not a cemetery photo (see B&W photo below).

Here is the photo that was chosen for the book.  It is of Ivy Blue, and was taken at St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit, on Woodward in downtown Detroit.

I have not given the book a close enough examination to be able to write any sort of meaningful review.  But I did find the images it contains to be interesting.

Sometimes, You Just Have to Feel Sorry for Atheists ...

I was driving my family home at about 1:00 am this morning, through the darkness of I-75 in Genesee County, we saw this billboard, blazing at us with what seemed a million watts:

You kind of have to feel sorry for the atheists, really.  I mean, the odds are long enough, what with them pitting themselves against centuries of belief in God.

But now, to take on Christmas ... I don't know how they think they can win this one?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Beat Frequency (Christmas in October)

Dear Readers ... Here is my 2011 Christmas poem.  (A few notes follow, below the text.)

Beat Frequency (Christmas in October)

Backward through the calendar
Christmas yearly strides.
Pagans push it earlier;
Summerward it rides.

Every year it starts again,
Sooner than before.
Someday we shall wake in June,
With Christmas at the door.

Still, they won't be satisfied,
These hurriers to carouse,
Until electric bulbs are hung
From April's budding boughs.

Faster!  Sooner!  still they cry.
On the madness goes!
Heathen frenzy at the malls,
'Mid February's snows.

Why this dash to Bethlehem?
Why no fear of danger?
Rush on pagan, meet your Lord,
Lying in the manger.

Finally, they shall catch me up;
We'll celebrate in synch.
And they shall have their Christmas Eve
Upon Epiphany's brink.

This beating of the Christmas waves,
For aeons shall it live.
For pagans need more Christmases
Than Christendom can give.

© 2011, Paul Erlandson


1.  By "pagan" here I merely mean "non-Christian".
2.  It is, of course, not entirely the fault of pagans that Christmas is celebrated at the "wrong" time. Greedy capitalists, unprincipled radio station managers, and Christians who have lost their way from the Church Calendar (celebrating neither Advent nor the 12 Days of Christmas) are also to blame.
3. I had the idea for this poem back in October, 2011, a few days before Halloween, when I heard Christmas music being played on the radio.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Angus Dei

I sometimes think that if I ever open a restaurant, I will have a beef dish called "Angus Dei" (the Angus of God).  Angus cattle, of course, produce tasty beef.  I wondered if anyone had thought of that, and so I Googled the phrase, and came up with only one relevant photo:

If I don't open up a restaurant, I may open a clothing store.  If so, the name of it will be:  Everybody Loves Raiment.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Alex Barrett & His "Rocketeer" Funny Car

I stumbled on this story today, and I love it!  Alex Barrett is a young man who has had the dream to drive a race car like this since the age of 6.  And, at age 23, he's made it happen!  He was such a go-getter that he had sponsors before he even had the car!

Here is his story, from the Press-Enterprise, a SoCal (Inland Empire) news source.  And, here is the gorgeous 1970 'Cuda funny car, the Rocketeer!

Here's a little video action.  Take note of the 1 Corinthians 10:31 inscription on the spoiler of the car (Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.).

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fiat Abarth 500 Commercial

Maybe I am just getting old, and my memory is failing me.  But I cannot remember ever seeing a sexier advertisement (for anything!) than this one for the new Fiat Abarth 500.

According to Ward's Auto World, the translation for the young woman's Italian is:

"What are you looking at?!"

Then, after she softens a bit:  "Poor baby, your heart is pounding."

Mine was, too.  Whatever ad agency created this understands men pretty well.

Specs for the car can be found here.

Here is an older Fiat Abarth, that I saw last year in Garden City, Michigan:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ford Raptor vs Fiat 500 vs Leaf Blowers

Remember when pollution was really pollution?  When poisonous hydrocarbons were the culprit?  When CO2 was understood as a normal bi-product of all plant and animal life, and not considered a pollutant?

Here is an interesting test:  In terms of real pollution, which pollutes more?  Ford F-150 Raptor truck, the tiny Fiat 500, or a leaf blower?  You might not be surprised that the leaf blower creates far more pollution than the two vehicles.  But you might be surprised that the Ford Raptor Crew Cab pollutes less than the diminutive 2012 Fiat 500!

During part of the cycle, the Raptor was actually cleaning the air.  That means that the exhaust coming from the tail pipe of the F-150 was cleaner than the air going into its intake manifold!

Put that up your tailpipe, enviro-wackos!

More here.

Return of the Son of P90X ...

There is, as has been stated many times, no such thing as bad publicity.

If, as I have done in the past, I make some snide comments about the failings of Toyota automobiles, then Toyota ads appear magically to the right of my blog.

I posted a blog entry a while back about "Team Beachbody Coaches", in which I mentioned P90X, just in passing.  Now there are P90X ads attached to my blog.  You cannot stop the juggernaut!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Playing Real Good ... For Free

A lot of people have seen this by now.  It makes me cry.  It makes me, honestly, lose ALL hope for humanity.

Cliff Notes:  World-class violinist Joshua Bell goes into a Washington, D.C. Metro station and plays Bach on a Stradivarius for 45 minutes.  No crowd gathers.  Hardly anyone even stops.  No applause is given.

Read the entire account here.

I know one thing:  If my wife had been commuting to work on that day, she would have willingly skipped work to hear him, and tears would have been streaming down her cheeks for the entire 45 minutes.

It reminds me of the story line of this Joni Mitchell song, in which another street performer, a clarinetist, performs great music for free, and is ignored.  In the end, nearly all people are Phillistines, with no sense of aesthetics.  If they do not have a ticket stub to check, they cannot tell the value of what they are seeing or hearing.  So sad.

Sheila Bleck Posing Routine

Behold the art of physique and the artistry in presentation that is Sheila Bleck!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Search Engines, Good Rats, & The Persistence of Memory

I've always liked Dali's painting, The Persistence of Memory, but that is not what this post is about.

It is about lost things being found and redeemed.  Specifically, about things supposedly lost to memory, but brought back to the present in a very real way by the wonderful invention called the internet search engine.  Search engine, as in Google, or its many imitators.

Once there was a song.  It was on an album that I bought on a whim while attending The Cooper Union back in the late 1970s.  On this album was a song called "Does it Make You Feel Good?"  It was very catchy, and soon became a favourite of mine.  I learned to play it on guitar, and I memorized the lyrics.

Years later, I still played the song from time to time.  By then, I had two children, and I used to sing them to sleep with guitar accompaniment.  One of the songs I sang was "Does it Make You Feel Good."  It was, being a song of twisted attraction to a sadistic lover, a bit of an odd song to sing to children.  But, I am a bit of an odd man.

Blow me around like a cigarette wrapper
Smack in the middle of a hurricane.
Sucker me in like a Venus Flytrapper
Baby I'm startin' to think you don't like me!
Does it make you happy, makin' me sad?
Does it really, really get you off?
Does it make you feel good makin' me hurt?
Does it really really get you off?
Then, a few weeks ago, it struck me that I ought to locate this song on YouTube.  I knew that the band was something with "Rats" in it.  I thought it might be the Hot Rats, but that was a Zappa album.  Then I thought it might be the Boomtown Rats, but that was wrong, too.  So, finally, I Googled "sucker me in like a Venus fly trapper", and I was taken to a page that mentioned the name of the band:  Good Rats!  From there, it was only a hop, skip, and a jump to finding the song on YouTube, thanks to the grace of God and the nearly universal neglect of YouTube's Terms & Conditions of Service.

And, due to the same, here it is for your aural enjoyment!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Herman Cain, Satan, and the Physics of Falling

In the early days of his run at the Republican nomination, I was really excited about Herman Cain.  I really liked the guy.  Actually, I still do.  He was not afraid to talk (or even sing) about Jesus, for one thing.  That, to most politicians, seems like the kiss of death.

I'd like to say that I was surprised by the derailing of the "Cain Train", but I am not.  I am old enough and have learned enough about men (partly from introspection) that sinful behavior never surprises me too much.

What I was extremely surprised at was that I actually felt a small bit of glee in watching Cain fall from grace (or, at least, from the realistic hope of ever becoming President of the United States).  I was shocked at myself.

It is a fairly well known and documented feature of mankind that we like to see people in high places cast down.  I think that, actually, it is in large part the animus behind the Occupy Wall Street movement:  The 99% have a fierce desire for the 1% to be cast down, if not from the pinnacle of the temple, then at least from their penthouse balconies.

I got to thinking about folks in high places getting cast down, and I came round to thinking about Satan:

The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
I remember that back in my old LCMS days, Pastor Paul Terhune commented on this passage that the falling of Satan like lightning from heaven was not merely a one-time event, but that the sense of the passage was that "Satan is a falling-from-heaven kind of guy."

Of course, everyone likes to watch creatures like Satan or Kim Kardashian fall from heaven; it's just pure fun.  But what can explain the glee felt by one relatively decent Christian man at the fall of another.  It should bring only sadness.

So, I was pondering this during yesterday's sermon (Sorry, Father!), and I came up with an analogy based on Physics.  For the civilians out there, what I mean to say is that watching someone fall from a height is, basically, like a roller coaster.  It is exciting to see (or feel) the velocity build up.

In Physics terms, any object that has physical mass (I will introduce the concept of spiritual mass later) and proximity to another physical object with mass ... has what is called Gravitational Potential Energy.  Because of the gravitational attraction (given by Newton's Universal Law of Gravitation) between the two bodies, the less massive body "falls" toward the more massive body, or "wants" to, if nothing holds it up in its lofty position.

When people are in positions of fame, notoriety, earthly or spiritual power, authority, honor, etc., there is a certain Spiritual Potential Energy that they possess based upon the height at which they sit suspended, and their "Spiritual Mass", their gravitas, so to speak, or their "largeness".  When the restraining force is taken away, whether in the case of the roller coaster or in the case of a falling creature, Potential Energy is converted into Kinetic Energy, which is proportional to mass, but also to the square of the velocity of the fall.  And I guess in the end it is just exciting to see Potential Energy converted to Kinetic Energy.

One can even ponder whether, for certain types of adventurous (though less kind terms could be used) persons, the experience of one's own fall can give this kind of excitement.  It is possible that this type of person will go about, to all appearances, sabatoging himself.  When all the while he may be engaged in an intentional spiritual skydive.  I'm not saying that Herman Cain is this sort of person, nor that he entered the Republican Primary to see whether he could "get away with it."  But it is worth pondering the reasons for self-destructive behavior in all persons:  Herman Cain, Kim Kardashian, Satan, and me.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Funny How the So-Called 99% is Actually a Tiny Minority!

This is what happens to the self-proclaimed 99% any time you get a representative sample of the population present:  THEIR CRAP AND NONSENSE GETS OUT-VOTED ... about 99-to-1, oddly enough.

Joe Friday and Bill Gannon Lecture 2 Occupiers!

Some of you readers may be too young to recall the 1960s TV show Dragnet.  It was a classic, particularly noted for Sergeant Joe Friday's deadpan delivery of lines.  Here, Friday and his partner Bill Gannon give a lecture to two hippies, who for all intents and purposes are exactly like those in the Occupy movement.

Watch and learn!