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I’ve written before about my tendency to go on iTunes buying binges.  Since having a daughter, we’ve spent significantly less money on ourselves.  I have given that iTunes store a wide berth, because babies are expensive – fact.   A couple weeks ago my dad gave me an iTunes gift card just because he is the giving type.  It wasn’t my birthday, bar mitzvah, or anything else significant.  Here are some songs I got with it and have been enjoying these past few weeks.

“One Piece at a Time” by Johnny Cash

I spent most of my life living in the same town as Johnny Cash.  Sadly, I didn’t really come to appreciate him till after he was gone.  My mom once met him in KFC.  I love Johnny’s sense of humor.  “A Boy Named Sue” and “One Piece at a Time” are just fun.  Granted this is a song about industrial piracy, but we all know it’s tongue-in-cheek, so it’s ok.  Apparently a car dealer in my hometown made a Cadillac according to the specifications of the song:

Johnny Cash's Cadillac from "One Piece at a Time"

“Tennessee Waltz” by Sam Cooke

I have recently begun listening to a lot of Sam Cooke. Man, he could sing.  So, when I found a version of the Tennessee Waltz from ole Sam, I had to give it a shot.  I was not disappointed.

“My Father’s Gunby Elton John

Don’t think about it. Yes, it’s a contradiction. If you think too much about the knight Sir Elton John (who makes CeeLo’s style choices seem tame) singing from the point of view of a Confederate soldier, your head just might implode.  Just enjoy the song for what it is.  This is an example of good storytelling.

“Absent from Flesh” by Sojourn Music

This song is done by my church. It is written by one of my pastors Jamie Barnes (the bald dude singing in the video) and Isaac Watts. I already had the version of this from Jamie and Brooks Ritter’s split album (which you can listen to here).  I just recently bought the version done for The Water and the Blood album (which you can also listen to for free by clicking the link) featuring the vocals of Brooks Ritter.  I love this song. Jamie and Brooks both approach it in their own styles, and I love both.  Check these dudes out. I’m thankful to have such solid musicians at my church.

Bonus:

Ok, I just had to feature one more song.  This one is a free download, and I think you’ll enjoy it.

“Rolling in the Deep” by John Legend

This is John Legend covering Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.”  You can download it for free on his Facebook page.  I think I actually like this better than the Adele version.  John Legend is legit. I really enjoy his voice, and he is a solid musician.
I hope you enjoyed this little peek into my playlist.  I still have $3 left on my giftcard. Any recommendations?

Until later friends…

Jen’s parents (and grandma) were in town for the weekend.  It was really great to see them. On Sunday they babysat our sweet little girl so we could go on a date.  My lovely wife acquiesced to my request to spend our date night watching the new Batman film – The Dark Knight Rises.

Dark Knight Rises Poster

There will be no spoilers, because this is how I felt before I saw it.

The film was excellent.  I think I liked it better than The Dark Knight.  Joker was a great villain, but I think Bane was even better.  Bane was more believable as a villain, and thus, more terrifying.  Zealots like Bane exist in far greater quantities than murderous, psychopaths like the Joker.  In honor of this great film, I have collected on this post various cool/funny/entertaining things pertinent to The Dark Knight Rises. Enjoy…

In Honor of the Voices of the Batman Series:

Fact: Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy put together some of the best voices in film.  For a long while I’ve said that you could have an amazing film if you just got Liam Neeson, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Sean Connery to sit in a room and talk.  Christopher Nolan got three out of four in his films.  Also, Heath Ledger and Tom Hardy developed great voices for their respective villains.  Here are some examples.

Liam Neeson:

I loved Liam Neeson’s performance of Ra’s al Ghul.   Here is a list of the Top 10 Liam Neeson performances (I don’t know if I agree, but it gives a nice glimpse at the versatility of Liam Neeson).

Michael Caine

Michael Caine was brilliant in all the Batman films.  I mean “brilliant” in both the British and American senses.  Here is Michael Caine imitating Michael Caine.

Morgan Freeman:

Although a relatively small role in the films, Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox character is incredibly endearing.  Don’t believe me, go watch The Dark Knight Rises and get back with me.

Gary Oldman:

Gary Oldman does a great American accent for Commissioner Gordon.  I mean, he usually sounds like this:

Tom Hardy as Bane:

Even though some people found Bane’s voice difficult to understand, I think Tom Hardy gave a masterful performance. (See 1:00 mark)

Heath Ledger as  the Joker/Tom Waits:

Lots of people have been posting a video of Tom Waits and saying how much Heath Ledger’s Joker sounds like him. I completely agree. Here they are side by side:

How Much Would it Cost to be Batman in Real Life (Original Source)

The Lion King in the Spirit of The Dark Knight Rises

I hope you’ve enjoyed this Batman sharefest. Until later friends…

I am a huge music nerd. For real.  I listen to all sorts of music. I majored in music at Union University.  While at Union, I greatly enjoyed the various music literature and music history courses.  Being a history nerd as well, I appreciate the interrelatedness of music development and historical trends.  I do enjoy many types of Classical music (Classical, Romantic, Impressionistic, even some Second Viennese School).  I especially enjoy the German Lieder.  I love Schubert and Schumann.  I sang a good portion of the Dichterliebe by Schumann in my recital.  I always wanted to perform Schubert’s Der Erlkönig. However, I also liked my pianist and didn’t want her to choke me.

Der Erlkönig is one of Franz Schubert’s greatest works.  It is a setting of a Goethe poem. The poem is about a man riding on a horse carrying his sick child as the child sees/hallucinates a really creepy impish creature.  Schubert represents the galloping horse in the piano, hence why all pianists hate this piece. The singer portrays the narrator, father, son, and Erlkönig. Here is a video of my favorite recording of Der Erlkönig with the German words and English adaptation included below.

German Adaptation

Wer reitet so spät durch Nacht und Wind?
Es ist der Vater mit seinem Kind;
Er hat den Knaben wohl in dem Arm,
Er faßt ihn sicher, er hält ihn warm.

“Mein Sohn, was birgst du so bang dein Gesicht?” –
“Siehst, Vater, du den Erlkönig nicht?
Den Erlenkönig mit Kron und Schweif?” –
“Mein Sohn, es ist ein Nebelstreif.”

“Du liebes Kind, komm, geh mit mir!
Gar schöne Spiele spiel’ ich mit dir;
Manch’ bunte Blumen sind an dem Strand,
Meine Mutter hat manch gülden Gewand.” –

“Mein Vater, mein Vater, und hörest du nicht,
Was Erlenkönig mir leise verspricht?” –
“Sei ruhig, bleibe ruhig, mein Kind;
In dürren Blättern säuselt der Wind.” –

“Willst, feiner Knabe, du mit mir gehen?
Meine Töchter sollen dich warten schön;
Meine Töchter führen den nächtlichen Reihn,
Und wiegen und tanzen und singen dich ein.” –

“Mein Vater, mein Vater, und siehst du nicht dort
Erlkönigs Töchter am düstern Ort?” –
“Mein Sohn, mein Sohn, ich seh es genau:
Es scheinen die alten Weiden so grau. –”

“Ich liebe dich, mich reizt deine schöne Gestalt;
Und bist du nicht willig, so brauch ich Gewalt.” –
“Mein Vater, mein Vater, jetzt faßt er mich an!
Erlkönig hat mir ein Leids getan!” –

Dem Vater grauset’s, er reitet geschwind,
Er hält in Armen das ächzende Kind,
Erreicht den Hof mit Müh’ und Not;
In seinen Armen das Kind war tot.

Who rides there so late through the night dark and drear?
The father it is, with his infant so dear;
He holdeth the boy tightly clasp’d in his arm,
He holdeth him safely, he keepeth him warm.

“My son, wherefore seek’st thou thy face thus to hide?”
“Look, father, the Alder King is close by our side!
Dost see not the Alder King, with crown and with tail?”
“My son, ’tis the mist rising over the plain.”

“Oh, come, thou dear infant! oh come thou with me!
For many a game I will play there with thee;
On my beach, lovely flowers their blossoms unfold,
My mother shall grace thee with garments of gold.”

“My father, my father, and dost thou not hear
The words that the Alder King now breathes in mine ear?”
“Be calm, dearest child, thy fancy deceives;
the wind is sighing through withering leaves.”

“Wilt go, then, dear infant, wilt go with me there?
My daughters shall tend thee with sisterly care
My daughters by night on the dance floor you lead,
They’ll cradle and rock thee, and sing thee to sleep.”

“My father, my father, and dost thou not see,
How the Alder King is showing his daughters to me?”
“My darling, my darling, I see it aright,
‘Tis the aged grey willows deceiving thy sight.”

“I love thee, I’m charm’d by thy beauty, dear boy!
And if thou aren’t willing, then force I’ll employ.”
“My father, my father, he seizes me fast,
For sorely the Alder King has hurt me at last.”

The father now gallops, with terror half wild,
He holds in his arms the shuddering child;
He reaches his farmstead with toil and dread, –
The child in his arms lies motionless, dead.

I also love folk and Americana music.  One band I have really enjoyed the past couple of years is the Carolina Chocolate Drops.  Their website describes their style:

With their 2010 Nonesuch debut, Genuine Negro Jig—which garnered a Best Traditional Folk Album Grammy last year—the Carolina Chocolate Drops proved that the old-time, fiddle and banjo-based music they’d so scrupulously researched and passionately performed could be a living, breathing, ever-evolving sound. Starting with material culled from the Piedmont region of the Carolinas, they sought to freshly interpret this work, not merely recreate it, highlighting the central role African-Americans played in shaping our nation’s popular music from its beginnings more than a century ago. The virtuosic trio’s approach was provocative and revelatory. Their concerts, The New York Times declared, were “an end-to-end display of excellence… They dip into styles of Southern black music from the 1920s and ’30s—string-band music, jug-band music, fife and drum, early jazz—and beam their curiosity outward. They make short work of their instructive mission and spend their energy on things that require it: flatfoot dancing, jug playing, shouting.”

Carolina Chocolate Drops

The members of this trio are all excellent musicians. They play a gritty, old sound that I find fascinating.  You might wonder, what on earth do the Carolina Chocolate Drops have to do with Franz Schubert and Der Erlkönig? You will find the answer below:

That’s right. This is a setting of Der Erlkönig. I love this reimagined telling of Goethe’s poem.  Don Flemons (of the Carolina Chocolate Drops) captures the same rushed feel of Schubert with his banjo adaptation. Yet, it feels completely new.

This setting of the Earl King has awakened in me a desire to hear more folksy adaptations of classical works.  I would be particularly interested in a setting of Berlioz’s  Symphonie Fantastique. I think it could be brilliant with a good Irishy/bluegrass feel with some lyrics from the point of view of the protagonist along with some incorporation of some of Berlioz’s motives.  Are ya’ll familiar with any folk/bluegrass/americana renditions of any other classical works? Please let me know.

Until later friends…

Happy Pi Day

Happy Albert Einstein

Until later friends…

Edit: I had to add this photo the minute I saw it.

Dwight Schrute Pi Day

Dear readers,

I have been woefully inactive on this blog as of late.  Life is busy, as I am sure your life is.  We are in the midst of preparing for the birth of our first child.  So, blogging has not been at the top of my priority list.  It occurred to me today that I have around 50 followers that have only heard from me twice in the past month.  I realize this probably has not caused you any undue stress, but when I subscribe to blogs, it is because I like what they write.  So, when they don’t write anything, I might just take them off my blog reader.  So, in case your mild interest in For Aslan…and the Volunteer State is waning, I have put together a playlist for you my favorite readers (and you people that got here via random google searches for things like “Andrew Jackson,” “Louisville Slugger Museum,” or “Bodum Monkey”).

For my fellow Rickrollers….

For my fellow coffee nerds…

Here is my friend Matt making tampers for us at Prima Coffee.  He’s really good, and this is a sweet video.

For fans of literature and films…

This might be cheezy, but I think it looks great. I mean, Edgar Allan Poe murder/mystery movie? Yes please.

Edgar Allan Poe Meme

Until later friends…

This is a repost of a blog I wrote last year in honor of The Day the Music Died.

Since childhood, Don McLean‘s “American Pie” has been one of my favorite songs. My parents raised me with good music, not that 80s crap that a lot of my friends grew up with.  I grew up listening to my parents’ Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, the Temptations, and Elvis records, along with a host of other great records from the 50s, 60s, and 70s.  “American Pie” is one of the finer songs of the 70s.

Don McLean

“American Pie” is a little piece of cultural history.  You might not know it by its title, but I’m sure you know the chorus:

Bye Bye Ms. American Pie

Drove my Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry

And good ‘ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye

Singing, “this’ll be the day that I die”

“This’ll be the day that I die”

(These lyrics are the sole property of the composer. I quote them here to give honor to the song. No lawsuits please.)

(Also, as a student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary I cannot promote the consumption of whiskey and rye. I can, however, recommend coffee and espresso.)

Ever since its release in 1972, “American Pie” has intrigued listeners with its veiled references to major cultural events.  Many people have posted their interpretations, like this one:

You might ask, “Aslan, why all the Don McLean talk today?”  Well, today is the 52nd anniversary of The Day the Music Died.  On this day in 1959, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper were killed in a plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa.

the_day_the_music_died

Thankfully, I don’t think music really died that day as is evidenced by the lives of some of the artists I mentioned earlier, as well as Johnny Cash, the Avett Brothers, and Danny Elfman to name a few.  So, give “American Pie” a listen today.  Go listen to a song or two from Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper. Then, go celebrate all the great music that came after those guys.  Until later friends…

PS: “American Pie” the song has no relation to that piece of junk movie series bearing the same name. For Aslan and the Volunteer State in no way supports or promotes smut like that.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, when I suffer from writer’s block I go to wikipedia and see what exciting events or birthdays took place on a specific day.  It’s been over a week since I’ve posted anything, so I thought I needed to contribute something to the internet conversation this week.  Today is B.B. King‘s birthday.  He is 86 today, and still rocking.  And although he sings “The Thrill is Gone,” he is still giving thrilling performances.

B.B. King is from Mississippi, but in my heart, he is from Memphis.  Everyone in the Volunteer State associates B.B. with Memphis.  His first records were produced by Sam Phillips (who discovered Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis in Memphis).

B.B. King Singing

There is just something Southern and classy about B.B. King.  I can’t speak for what kind of person B.B. is.  I don’t know what kind of rock star life he may have lived, but I know that he has made some great music, and he opened up the doors for a lot of great minority musicians.

B.B. King is dynamic and fun.  By all accounts, he seems to have a great personality.  You may not like blues, but you gotta like BB.

Happy Birthday BB.  Until later friends…

To quote my friend Lyle, “I sense a disturbance in the Fourth.”  Today is May 4th, and to Star Wars fans across the world it is Star Wars Day.  Several of the geekier fellows in the office (including myself) greeted one another today with “May the Fourth be with you.”  I loved Star Wars as a kid.  I mean what kid wouldn’t love to fly around space with a laser-blaster and a sidekick bear-dog?

In honor of my affinity for Star Wars references I have included this clever video of a pint-sized Darth Vader that was shown during the Super Bowl.

Also, for those of you that enjoyed yesterday’s post, here is a Thor-inspired parody of the video above:

Until later friends…May the Fourth be with you

I found this video this weekend, and it made me laugh.

I am a die-hard Cubs fan, but if I had to choose my favorite American League team, I think it would have to be the Red Sox.  I like the Red Sox for two reasons: 1) They are the Yankees biggest rival & 2) Their defeat of the Curse of the Bambino gives me hope concerning our little Billy Goat Curse.  So, here’s to you Red Sox fans. Continue cheering against the Yankees in every single home game, no matter who you are actually playing.

Until later friends…

This commercial was too awful good to not share.  I first saw this when watching the Super Bowl, it was one of the local commercials aired in Louisville.  I have since seen it two or three times on television, and half a dozen times on youtube.  I always thought lawyers and car dealers were in contention for the most cheezy commercials, but apparently I can now add pawn shops to that list of contenders.  Apparently the way to survive a bad economy is to sell all the surplus gold you have for $1,400 an ounce (I’d be interested to see the actual numbers on this).

Until later friends…

Note: This is neither an endorsement of, or a diatribe against, Little John’s Derby Jewelry. I merely wish to share this video for its comedic value.