Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mid-Week Music #7 - Ways of a Fool



This week, I'll be introducing (some of) you to an artist by the name of Neal Morse. He's a very talented fellow: in fact, he and his band are practically on the same level of Kansas when it comes to skill. This song is from the album Similitude of a Dream, a concept album based on The Pilgrim's Progress. I'm pretty sure most of you have read it. Well, unless you've gone to public school or most colleges. They don't like that kind of masterpiece in there.

The reason I am posting this particular song is not actually what you might think. I have not encountered any worldly wise-men or fools lately. I have in the past, but not recently. Actually, I'm posting this because it's the song my younger sister picked: her birthday fell on a Wednesday, and I let her choose the song. So anyway, Abi, Happy 9th Birthday! May you never fall into the ways of a fool!

WARNING: song is very catchy. It WILL get stuck in your head.




Walking straight ahead
Wondering in the way I wander
My feet are feeling fine...

What's that up ahead?
Someone coming up the way...
Ay-ay

He is a worldly man
When I tell him my plans
He says:
What are you doing?
You're simple as pudding
It's not worth pursuing
I know the way out!

(chorus)
All the ways of a fool
They are right in his own eyes
Go on back, keep your cool
Don't you miss the city lights
And those worldly delights?
(Trust me...)
I know I'm right

Reason is the rule
Logic is a mighty Fortress
And life is nothing more

Perception is the truth
Why not make it what you want?

I'm a successful man
My offer is easy
Invent your reality
Made-up morality
Legal legality
Second to none!

(chorus)

***

(chorus)
All the ways of a fool
They are right in his own eyes
Go on back, keep your cool
Don't you miss the city lights
And those worldly delights
Trust me
I know... I'm...
Ri-i-ight...

***

I think I'll go the way
Walking with the worldly wise man

I'll just change it up a bit
And go the more logical way

Because it seems good to me
To live a life that's free from care
And my new reality
I will speak into the air...

And life is awaiting me
I'll learn what they're teaching me
And surely my destiny will follow

Forget all about that dream
I'll find a place in between
And just take a turn-about tomorrow...

**


Monday, August 14, 2017

A Song for Harry (And a Word or Two)



Two nights ago (maybe three), I finished it. I finished watching the Harry Potter series.

To say I have mixed feelings would be the understatement of the wizarding world. My mind went from "Awww, that's so sweet" to "You JERK!" to "Whoa, now I get it!" to "How could you do this to me, JK? Why?!" to "YESSS!!! Finally!" to "Whaaaaat? That makes zero sense!"

So... very strange experience, huh?

I liked it far better than Part One of Deathly Hallows, where Harry did nothing but camp out in the wilderness with angstyness. Sorry if I spoiled the movie for you. But I think it was a (mostly) great end to a series that comes up with ways to keep my attention. And I think Miss Rowling enjoys lobbing those surprises at the heads of us readers.

I have much to say on the matter of Harry Potter. But that, for the moment, must wait. I have limited time to write. So I'll briefly address one thing that has really been annoying me for awhile, but that was dealt with in the last movie: Harry's 'hero's journey'. He doesn't really undertake it.

To be sure, he defeats several enemies (particularly in the first five stories), but Harry doesn't really do much to become worthy of his title of Chosen One. What, you think it all comes to you just like that? Honestly though, one time he accomplished something literally by luck. I'm not joking: watch or read the stories. Of course, this being the last one, Harry has to finish this, or everyone shall die. I will talk more about Harry's progression, what there is of it, at length another time.


Back in... I think it was May... I had just watched the Half-Blood Prince for the first time. That night, newly-made memories and imagination met to create inspiration. That inspiration ensnared my mind and utterly refused to let me go. So I dashed into the library to write it down. The words I wrote turned into these lyrics. I had most of it written down that night, then finished it the next day.

It doesn't have a title yet. I also haven't worked out the tune yet. Someday, I'm going to do a Mid-Week Music post about it, once I make a video of it. This song is for those Christians who have adopted a worldview of quietism, who just pine away waiting for Jesus to come back and take them away. It's also about Harry Potter. It's a call to arms. You're a wizard, Harry: now act like it.


You're living in a war zone
And you're sitting on your hands
You're still just goofing off instead
Of making battle plans

You're snogging and you're shuffling
And not sticking to your guns
Come on!
You are the Chosen Ones

It's high time you get out there
And learn just what to do
It's time to fight
For what is right
Give You-Know-Who
His devil's due

Take up now your weapons
This is a war we're in
Why are you still sitting there?
You've got a world to win

If you're waiting for the End Times
You've got a while to go
If you're gonna live in this old world
You need to learn and grow

You're in the Master's Army
Don't you get it, son? You're on
Take up the Hero's Journey
Through darkness into dawn

Our enemies are dangerous
They don't mess around
Come on!
Now learn to stand your ground

It's high time you get out there
And learn just what to do
It's time to fight
For what is right
Give You-Know-Who
His devil's due

***

When our enemies steal a little more freedom every day
When ones we love are casualties and ones we trust betray
Know that you've a Mighty Fortress
And you'll never stand alone
A hope for us to cling to
In this world that's made of stone

***



Now make your spirits light up
Like a fireworks display
With a sword to slay the Serpent
And a map to show the way

Lumos in a dark world
Hope to all who truly hear
Come on!
Our destiny draws near

It's high time you get out there
It's the only thing to do
It's might for right
For truth and light
Beat You-Know-Who
His reign is through!

Learn from the Greatest Hero
The self-sacrifice He gave
Why are you still sitting there?
You've got a world to save

Why are you still sitting there?
You've got a world to save


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Mid-Week Music #6 - That's What Bilbo Baggins Hates!



Today, I've been quite busy, what with schoolwork, writing projects, and sundry other things. But I think I can manage a Mid-Week Music post.

If I really think about it, there could be lots of reasons to post this particular song: I've recently read that part of the Hobbit, I watched a TV show featuring Martin Freeman aka Bilbo Baggins last night, I know most of the lyrics by heart and it's a fun song. But honestly, the real reason is because I'm very busy, and feel like muttering 'confusticate and bebother' right about now. I'm beginning to realize how Bilbo felt, and--yep, there's Mommy calling me to come help with supper!

So, without further ado, here is "Blunt the Knives", alternatively known as "That's What Bilbo Baggins Hates!"






Bilbo:
And can you not do that? You'll blunt them!

Bofur:
Ooh! D'you hear that, lads? He says we'll blunt the knives!

Kili:
Blunt the knives, bend the forks

Fili:
Smash the bottles and burn the corks

All:
Chip the glasses and crack the plates...
That's what Bilbo Baggins hates!

(instruments join in)

Cut the cloth, tread on the fat
Leave the bones on the bedroom mat
Pour the milk on the pantry floor...
Splash the wine on every door!

Dump the crocks in a boiling bowl
Pound them up with a thumping pole
And when you've finished, if any are whole...
Send them down the hall to roll!

***

That's what Bilbo Baggins hates!


PS: My deepest and most profound apologies for the serious note on which the video ends. Thorin no longer has any conception of timing. Or being on time, for that matter.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Mid-Week Music #5 - Byzantium



This week I present to you a song by a band called Kansas. You've probably heard of them. If not, they are a prog-rock sort of band, with almost classical sounding songs, sometimes. They're one of my favorite bands. You can be sure there will be more of their songs on Mid-Week Music in the future. This is a beautiful song: one of their best, and that's saying a lot.

It also happens to be a song I get in my head whenever I do my Western Civilization classes for the Ron Paul Curriculum. (You will get to read some of the things I've written for them sooner or later). Anyway, this song was particularly stuck in my mind today. It is called... Byzantium.




***

City resting on a hill
Can your walls repel the ti-ide of change?
Under Panticrater's rule
Did your golden domes reveal
The frailty of the consequence?
The conqueror was real

Where the emperor once reigned
Only shadows of the glories remain
No one sings your plaintive song
Of the Cantechian strain
Echoing through heaven's gate
Too lovely to sustain

(chorus)
We're looking back to see your frescoed walls
Where is the road that takes us to
Byzantium?

***

Once your borders had no end
And your dream was like a shi-ining light
To the nations you surround
Did your golden domes reveal
The frailty of the consequence?
The conqueror was real

We're looking back to see your frescoed walls
Where is the road that takes us to Byzantium?

(chorus)
We're looking back to see your frescoed walls
Where is the road that takes us to
Byzantium?

***


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Birthday of the Fellowship



I remember, a few years ago, I decided I wanted to read the Hobbit on my own. I think it must've been the year between the first and second Hobbit movies. So every afternoon for a few days, I sat in the closet in Daddy's library with the door shut, and I read. Out loud. I did every voice, in an odd mixture of movie, radio, and Rankin-Bass video. "Misty Mountains" in particular was quite... interesting. I used bits and pieces from each version of the song, and spoke the rest.

I think I'd gotten them out of the Misty Mountains by the time I stopped. I might have even reached Mirkwood. I don't really know. But I plan on going from Hobbiton to the Lonely Mountain and back again, all the way to the end. You guessed it: I'm starting to reread The Hobbit again, this very day. And I'll proceed from that on to Lord of the Rings. Until, "Well, I'm back."

If you could see me right now, you'd see me wearing a green medieval-looking shirt, leggings of the same colour, and a white puffy shirt. I even put a gold ring on a chain.

Why all this hubbub about Tolkien, you ask? I reply, saying; didn't you read the title? Today is the birthday of Fellowship of the Ring!


The Hobbits and Gandalf at a birthday party (from the book we're throwing a birthday party for, oddly enough)


Its 63rd, to be precise. On July 29th, 1954, J. R. R. Tolkien's Fellowship of the Ring was released for the first time. Thus, all this. Of course, it wasn't the first book about hobbits old Tolkien had written, as I'm sure you know. The Hobbit, about a certain Bilbo Baggins and his adventures with dwarves, came out 17 years earlier.

These books have had numerous adaptations, including full-length movies, TV specials, radio dramas, and even a graphic novel. They have influenced many, many artists in their work. Musicians, for example.




Yet more so, the works of Tolkien have influenced storytellers. Sometimes, they are inspired to show his stories in other ways, such as film. Sometimes, it is in the way they tell their own tales. I remember someone once said "Most modern fantasy just rearranges the furniture in Tolkien's attic." Modern fantasy as in that which has been written after July 29th, 1954. I myself have been greatly inspired by it, as you may guess once my writings are up here as well.

Even those funny little things I talked about on Wednesday--the Silmaril Awards--were named after his Silmarillion, and his characters present the award, in each one as is most fitting. Sam Gamgee for Most Loyal Friend, Gandalf for Wisest Counselor, Tom Bombadil for Strangest Character, and so on. And each presentation is shown by way of a story. Each person will write exactly how the ceremony goes. And occasionally, there is some little adventure along with it--though it rarely is the sort that makes one late for dinner.

The work of Mr. Tolkien and the words of his characters have changed us. Not only in how we tell tales, but us, too. The way we act, the way we think about certain things. I, for one, can no longer walk down the road without thinking about how river-like it is, and where one might get swept off to if one doesn't keep his feet. And there are many other ways, as well. But in particular, it has changed the way we think about the tale we live in ourselves.

   'But I suppose it's often that way [said Sam]. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that's not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually--their paths were laid out that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't. And if they had, we shouldn't know, because they'd have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on--and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not out call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same--like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren't always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we've fallen into?'

After these tales of a time "Between the Dawn of Faerie and the Dominion of Men", of the crownless again becoming king, and of hobbits that have gone There and Back Again, how could the world ever be the same?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Mid-Week Music #4 - The Dragon (MC)



Today, I am going to be giving you one of two different songs with the same name. This is the one by Michael Card, a rather talented Christian musician, if you didn't know. The song is called, The Dragon.

(My apologies that the video does not have any dragons in it. I will give you some pictures.)




A vile, enormous Dragon
With heads and horns and crowns
And a tail that swept the stars from heaven
And cruelly cast them down

He lurked before the Woman
About to bear her Son
The One Who'll rule the nations
With a rod of iron

(chorus)
And now has come our salvation
The Pow'r and the Kingdom of God
For the Dragon is defeated
By the Word and the Blood of the Lamb

Behold, a war in Heaven
Reflected here on Earth
And Michael and his angels
Fought for all their worth

That wicked, ancient serpent
Who leads the world astray
The Accuser of the brethren
Was beaten from the fray

(chorus)

By the Word and the Blood of the Lamb

Rejoice then, O ye heavens!
But woe to the earth and the sea
For he is filled, filled with fury
He knows his time is brief
Cause he knows his time is brief

(chorus)
And now has come our salvation
The Pow'r and the Kingdom of God
           *           *           *
For the Dragon is defeated
By the Word and the Blood of the Lamb
By the Word and the Blood of the Lamb


The reason I chose this song in particular is rather interesting, I believe. When I woke up today, I was thinking about dragons. I was thinking about dragons because of an event that happens around this time every year (well, since last year). This was my first time learning about it. It's called the Silmaril Awards.




I first found out about them on a blog called Scattered Scribblings. Basically, the Silmaril Awards are... like the Oscars for Fantasy. At least, that's what the creators of the thing said. There are Silmarils for many kinds of Fantasy Characters, from Wisest Councilor to Most Nefarious Villain, and everything in between. And here's the catch: characters out of Tolkien are not up for nomination. They're the ones that present the awards, you see.


And here's one of our presenters now. He doesn't seem too happy about the winner.


You may easily guess that today was the day that they gave out the award for dragons. And you'd be right. If you'd like to see how well that went, I'll give you a lift. The writer of that post sure would appreciate your popping over to see it.




So this morning I was thinking about dragons. It's as simple as that. And it rather reminds me of, of...


Of "Rushings-out, and Rescuings, 
And Savings from the Dragon's Lair,
And fighting all the Dragons there.
And sometimes when our fights begin, 
I think I'll let the Dragons win... 
And then I think perhaps I won't, 
Because they're Dragons, and I don't."


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Mid-Week Music #3 - Hoot, Man!



Now, this will be quite the departure from what I wrote yesterday, but in honour of my brother William, it must be done. Old-time comedy is one of his favorite things, after all. Hope it makes you laugh. Happy 14th birthday!





Hoot, mon! Out of me way! Who do ya think ye arrrrr?
It's the toe of my boot, man, if ye push too farrrrr
Hoot, mon! This is the day I celebrate my birrrrrth
A seventh son of a seventh son of a son of a gun from birrrrrth

Who can play the drums? Is there a piper in the town?
Have them put their kilts on and come right down
All ye brawny lads, whether ye're poor or ' man o' wealth
Meet me in the tavern to drink my health

Who's that standing in my path?
Bing: Stand clear!
Bob: (growls)
Don't you know you're face-to-face with Robbie Macbeth?
Bing: Ah Robbie Macbeth
Ah-ho!

(quieter)
Hoot, mon, out of me way, who do ye think ye arrrrr?
(getting gradually louder)
It's the toe of my boot, man, if ye push too farrrrr
Hoot, mon! This is the day I celebrate my birrrrrth
The seventh son of a seventh son of a son of a gun from birrrrrth!

Bob: Hello, Haggis!
Bing: What is it, McBaggis?
Bob: Have you heard the latest about McTavish?
Bing: What's he done now?
Bob: I heard he was living on the rrrrroof!
Bing: But why would he be living on the hrrrrroof?
Bob: He heard someone say the drinks were on the house!
(They both laugh)
Bob: The drinks are on the house! You know...what we...

(tick, tock)

Bob: It's a little late, so goodnight folks

***