(Very) Long (and Rambling) Road Out Of Eden

I intended to get it just after it came out, but it wasn’t until last weekend that I picked up a copy of Long Road Out Of Eden, the new album from the Eagles. I’ve liked the Eagles’ music for a long time, though despite my age I really didn’t discover them until after they broke up.

It is a good album, quite listenable, even if some of Don Henley’s politicising does get tiresome, especially on the title cut about the conflict in Iraq, which exceeds ten minutes in length. Other songs seem to ramble on a bit as well. The sole Joe Walsh contribution, “Last Good Time In Town,” runs seven minutes. I didn’t think I would ever say this about an Eagles album, but even after waiting 28 years for new material, it is too long.

That may be one reason that I haven’t beeen listening to it over and over, like I usually would with a new album. Instead, even after less than a week, I find myself just as likely to listen to Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood. Maybe even more likely.

The other thing is that it is missing Don Felder. Henley and Frey have always been in the spotlight more and I suppose that’s why they decided that when the Eagles re-formed in 1994 they should get the lion’s shares of the money. I suppose Tim Schmidt and Joe Walsh were okay with this, but Felder – who had been with the band since 1974 – didn’t like that the historic arrangement of equal shares was going out the window. In 2001, Henley and Frey fired him and he responded with a lawsuit. It was settled for an undiscolsed amount in May last year. His book has just been released in the UK, though it was pulled by the publisher in the States. I think it is going to be my next musician autobiography.

Crushed

The Government is trying to force everyone out of cars and onto public transporation by making it as expensive as possible to drive. But why don’t people want to go on trains? Ask 7-year-old Laura Booth.

Plenty of Cash and No Money

Nicholas van Hoogstraten has been arrested in Zimbabwe. He achieve notariety here in the UK a few years ago because he was convicted of for the manslaughter of a business associate and later cleared, but eventually paid out civil damages. The arrest in Zimbabwe has nothing to do with this. It has to do with possessing foreign currency and demand rent for some of his 200 Zimbabwean properties in something other than Zimbabwean currency.

He did accept some local currency. In fact he had far more of it than anything else. There was Z$20,000,000,000 with the money that police confiscated. That’s right: 20 billion. The only thing is that with an exchange rate of over Z$30,000 to US$1 – or about Z$60,000 to £1 – $20 billion doesn’t go very far.

I say all of this not to say anything about Nicholas van Hoogstraten, but rather about the economy of Zimbabwe. This is the degree to which Robert Mugabe has destroyed his country. This is why people are starving in a land that used to be the bread basket of Africa.

Many Years

It was just about six years ago right now that I was dressing A1 for the first time. He had just been cut out of Mummy’s belly after 56 hours of labour. He didn’t want to breathe at first so the paediatric consultant was called up to the operating theatre to encourage him. Finally he was one his way downstairs to the nursery, where I got him dressed and then took photos to send around the world to grandparents and others as soon as I was sent home by the nursing staff.

Now he dresses himself. Sometimes it is as Spiderman, other times it is Superman. It can be Mr Incredible, or a policeman, or a doctor. I’ve lost track of all the costumes. He also grown up enough that he dresses up in his uniform every morning and he’s nearly halfway through his second year of school.

May God grant His servant many years!

This morning he’ll wake up to the presents and cards that Mummy has put on the kitchen table, with banner and streamers and confetti. Tomorrow night we are going to a pantomime. The kids love panto. This one is staged by students at the National College for the Blind. That ought to be interesting.

Then there’s the birthday party on Sunday at the venue that every child must use for a party. The scary bit is that it is very near the football ground where the hooligans from Elizabeth’s Big City (who have a reputation for being some of the nastiest in football) will be travelling up to meet our hooligans (who have never backed down from a good dust up). This is somewhat related to the fourth round of the FA Cup. It is an early kick-off, so hopefully all the bloodshed will be over and all necessary arrests made before the children arrive.

Parents Night

Tonight was Year 11 parents night. That’s when parents come in, annual report in hand, to discuss their child’s progress in the run up to GCSE exams.

I had about eight appointments. The only thing is that I teach every pupil in the school, including every Year 11. Virtually all of them will be sitting a GCSE exam in my subject. It is required. So where were the other 90 or so parents?

Of course many of them didn’t show up at all. It is a very rural school so it isn’t easy for many of them to get in. However, it was the ones who turned up and didn’t to see me that disappointed me. Didn’t surprise me. Just disappointed me.

One of the parents who had a appointment didn’t take it seriously at all. “It only religion, after all. You only need it if you are going to be an RE teacher or something like that.” So I painstakingly explained that we taught a philosophy and ethics syllabus and that the ethics issues we dealt with we the big ones that people deal with either personally or as a member of society – that we are the only subject that teaches thinking skills for critically evaluting these things. I explained that no, it isn’t about opinion – that just having an opinion is worth one mark out of twenty on each of the four exam questions.

Most of the parents milled around waiting to speak to the important subjects. They were happy to spend their time doing nothing, rather than taking five minutes to discuss how their child was doing in this GCSE subject. The kids can’t be expected to take the subject seriously if the parents openly don’t.

I have to say that other than the one parent who openly challenged the value of my subject, all of the others to whom I spoke were very nice. Because of that, I enjoy parents night. It’s great to talk to parents who care about all aspects of their child’s education.

Wonderful Tonight

I just finished Eric Clapton’s autobiography.

I thought it was quite good. While it chronicled his relationships with family, various girlfriends, and lots of musicians, the overriding theme focuses on his recovery from drug and especially alcohol addiction. He attributes his experience of finally getting dry to prayer, though he is not sure who God is.

He comes across as a very down-to-earth person and not full of himself. It is very self-deprecating. He did wait 62 years to write about himself, as opposed to a lot of celebrities who write autobiographies in their 20s and 30s.

For some reason I was drawn to want to read the book, so my father-in-law got it for me for Christmas. It is only the second musician bio I’ve read (Mick Fleetwood’s was the other and I had never owned a Fleetwood Mac album when I bought it) – I’m normally not big on celebrity lives of any kind.

I never been a huge Clapton fan, though I’ve enjoyed his music since I discovered it in the wake of the Unplugged album. This came at a transitional time in my own songwriting, just as I was starting my band. The music of my song “Won’t Somebody Dance With Me?” influenced by songs like the live (slowed down) version of “Wonderful Tonight”. No doubt there are other strands of his influence in my songs from that period.

Harry Potter and Immigration

Over at Mere Comments, I was reading Steve Hutchens interesting view of the Harry Potter books and how they are analogous to the Gospel – something I can’t comment on as I haven’t read them – so I scrolled through the comments to see what others thought of this.

What struck me was not the debate of whether CS Lewis’ Narnia or JRR Tolkien’s LOTR is the gold standard of Christian fiction. Rather it was that even in this context people can get really pissy about illegal immigration – and with only a thin veil, immigration generally. Now I’ve written about this before, and even though it is a hot button issue, I get remarkably low traffic on such posts and no comments. Perhaps this is because my regular readers (dwindling number that you seem to be) completely disagree with me, but can’t be bothered to say so – or maybe I’ve made too many readers angry and they’ve vowed never to return.

If you can’t be bothered to scroll through it all, there is a particularly funny sparring exchange that went like this:

  • At the same time, I don’t recall freedom to migrate being written into the Ten Commandments,
  • It’s more than a little ironic, given the context for the delivery of the Commandments. 🙂
  • But, in fact, they weren’t migrating to a foreign country–they were leaving a foreign country to go HOME. For the Exodus analogy to hold, the illegals in the U.S. would have to be enslaved and prevented from LEAVING. Now, if some Mexican prophet were to emerge from the Barrio, go to Washington, pound on the White House door, and demand of President Bush, “Let my people go!”, I would think that the President would say, “Sure thing, compadre. Can we order up some busses and trains to help y’all out?” Certainly beats having the Potomac run red with blood (it’s bad enough in its normal state), or for a plague of locusts to descend on the land (we just got rid of the seventeen year cicadas), or for the first born to be taken (but I know the secret for getting out of that one). Don’t let it be said we can’t learn from the mistakes of the Egyptians.

It is strange that no one thinks of the original settlement of America by immigrants as a problem. I suppose the argument is that the Injuns didn’t have a complex legal system with a refined idea of private (or even public) property law. Therefore it was fair game to take it all and push them into reservations or kill them in the process. Right of conquest and all of that.

I think the last commenter is inaccurate in his depiction of the Mexican prophet. If he were to get anywhere near the door of the White House without being shot, he would be captured, hog tied, and shipped to Guantanimo Bay faster than you can say, “Hasta la vista, Baby!”