Monday, February 28, 2011


The LBN Newsletter, the self-proclaimed insider newsletter and blog of Michael Levine, recently asked - "Should Charlie Sheen be committed to a mental institution?"  Over 85% said yes, but I was one of the minority - rather than an institution, I believe that this is what he needs:

Dear Charlie - Despite the fact that most folks believe that you should be committed to a mental hospital, I disagree. What you need is a strong-willed 24/7 chaperone who will monitor your every move and serve as your father/brother/friend/advisor/confidant/behavior monitor and enforcer. Forget all of the rationalizations and other BS that you spew to the media - you are among the most privileged of the privileged, and you simply do not know how to behave or to make intelligent decisions. Wisdom is anticipating the consequences, and Charlie, it appears as though you  have next to none.

Considering what you pay per month in familial support, I am available for $20,000 per month plus room and board and a modest per diem.  I will monitor your every action.  We will clear your house of all drugs and alcohol.  I will carefully scrutinize every person who comes into contact with you.  The only time that I won't be at your side is in the bathroom and when you have guests in your bedroom.  Said guests will be searched before being left alone with you.  Twenty-four/seven - and I will bust your butt for any misstep.  Deal??

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Spend all your time waiting
For that one second chance
For the break that would make it okay
There's always some reason
To feel not good enough
Oh,and it's hard at the end of the day
I need some distraction
Oh a beautiful release
Memories seep from my veins
Let me be empty
And weightless and maybe
I'll find some peace tonight
In the arms of the angel
Fly away from here
From this dark cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie
You're in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort here

So tired of the straight life
Oh,and everywhere you turn
There's vultures and thieves at your back
The storm keeps on twisting
You keep on building the lies
That you make up for all that you lack
It don't make no difference
Escaping one last time
It's easier to believe in this sweet madness
Oh,this glorious sadness that brings me to my knees
In the arms of the angel
Fly away from here
From this dark cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear
Oh,you are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie
You're in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort here
You're in the arms of YOUR angel
May you find some comfort here


I know that it is not good to relish a team's loss, so let's just say that I am most happy that the struggling Cavaliers were able to get a win over the Knicks.  Of course the New York press has a spin, but here's what the NY Times had to say - I have added bold to the portions that I find most problematic for the Knicks:



CLEVELAND — The first test was a rousing success. Carmelo Anthony made a triumphant Knicks debut Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. But playbooks take time to learn, and simply suiting up superstars does not guarantee victories.

On Friday, the Knicks showed that the pairing of Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire would be a work in progress for the rest of the season.

The 11-47 Cleveland Cavaliers, who endured an N.B.A.-record 26-game losing streak this season, embarrassed the Knicks, 115-109, at Quicken Loans Arena. Anthony watched the final 24.3 seconds from the bench after fouling out. During the last quarter, he aggravated a right elbow injury.

“There is a learning curve, and you can’t get around it,” Knicks Coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We know it. It’s going to take us a little while.”

The good news for the Knicks is that the simplified offense they are running until the new point guard Chauncey Billups is comfortable with all the plays is easy to execute.

“We do have the luxury of having two guys who you really don’t have to do anything,” D’Antoni said of Anthony and Stoudemire. “You just give them the ball and get out of the way.”

So far, when one star dominates offensively, the other quietly disappears. On Friday, Anthony started with an aggressive first quarter that yielded 16 points; he was 5 of 8 from the field. Stoudemire did not score in five attempts.

As Stoudemire awoke to score 11 points in the second quarter, Anthony managed only 3.

And in the fourth quarter, neither could find the basket reliably as Anthony battled through elbow pain that he said resulted in a loss of feeling in his hand at times. Anthony, who wore a sleeve on his right arm, said he did not expect to miss time with the injury.

Billups took charge in the fourth quarter, netting 18 of his 24 points. He brought the Knicks to within a basket a handful of times late in the fourth quarter, and the Cavaliers’ lead was tenuous until guard Daniel Gibson hit a 3-pointer with 30.6 seconds remaining. Anthony fouled out shortly after.

Anthony was 9 of 22 from the field in scoring 27 points. Stoudemire had 31 points, hitting 14 of 27 shots, and added 11 rebounds. But his counterpart on the Cavaliers, J. J. Hickson, had 24 points and 15 rebounds and 5 blocks.

All of it was a reminder that these Knicks are still learning to work together. Their newness was apparent, too, when Anthony still had to defend himself Friday for his time spent in Denver. During an interview on TNT on Thursday night at halftime of the Nuggets’ game against the Boston Celtics, Denver Coach George Karl was critical of Anthony’s defense and effort.

“Melo is the best offensive player I’ve ever coached, but his defensive focus, his demand of himself is what frustrated us more than anything,” Karl said Thursday.

Shortly after the interview, Anthony posted two updates to his Twitter account that appeared to be a rebuttal to Karl’s statement.

“Some people never seize to amaze me. Unbelievable,” he wrote. Immediately after that, he added, “When the grass is cut the snakes will show.”

Asked Friday about his relationship with Karl, Anthony shrugged off Karl’s comments. “That’s him,” Anthony said. “That’s George Karl. I try not to pay too much attention to that.”

The effects of the trade are still being felt, even in the Knicks’ desire to acquire big men who might help narrow the kind of 62-42 rebounding advantage the Cavaliers had Friday. With the Knicks desperate for size, D’Antoni acknowledged that they were interested to learn that the 6-foot-11 forward Jared Jeffries reached a buyout agreement with the Houston Rockets on Friday. D’Antoni said the Knicks’ president, Donnie Walsh, was exploring acquiring Jeffries.

Jeffries, who played for the Knicks from 2006 until a trade last season sent him to Houston, provides not only length but the defensive ability that D’Antoni yearns for.

“He’s a winner,” D’Antoni said. “And I thought he played well with us. There’s a lot of good things with him.”

These Knicks still are coming together, as evidenced by their loss to the lowly Cavaliers.

“That’s with anything new — there’s always pros and cons to it,” Anthony said. “We’re going to always have to answer that question until we prove to everybody that it will work. And it will work. I have no doubts about that.”

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


The Associated Press writer made it sound like a wake.  And one of the opening lines, "Anthony was one of the best players in Denver Nuggets history" needed the modifier "if the NBA was a one-on-one league."  Great players know when to shoot and when to pass, and Melo only mastered half of that equation.  Great players know how to involve the other four professionals on the court, bringing out the best in everyone, and Melo played a lot of back-em-down, jack-it-up while the others stood around and watched.  Great players lead their teams to championships - enough said.

I was hopeful that the short-handed Nuggets would pull it together on the day after the trade.  They played the Memphis Grizzlies, a team that they are battling for a playoff spot.  I watched and I was very pleased - they hustled, they played great defense, they ran the fast break, and most importantly, they played team ball.  On nearly every possession, there were 2,3, or 4 passes, working toward the best shot.  They shared the ball, and were up by 30 at one point in the game.  Awesome.  It will be interesting if the talent that had been in Melo's shadow will emerge as a team rather than a group of individuals.  Coach Karl has the ability to do this and no longer has to watch helplessly as an anointed one plays his own game. 

I may actually watch them now.

Newly-acquired Denver Nuggets (from left) Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and Timofey Mozgov are cheered as they watch their new team defeat the Memphis Grizzlies.

Newly-acquired Denver Nuggets (from left) Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and Timofey Mozgov are cheered as they watch their new team defeat the Memphis Grizzlies.

ADDED NOTE:  I submitted this as a Letter to the Editor of the Boulder Daily Camera, and they actually published it!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I have previously written about my low regard for the professional version of basketball.  Generally speaking, that lack of respect carries over to the individual players as now epitomized by Carmelo Anthony.  All season long, Melo and his equally self-enthralled WAG La La Vasquez have been pining for the Big Apple, playing ball at the center of the universe, blah, blah, blah.  They finally got their wish with today's trade, and the only thing that makes me a bit sad is that Chauncey Billips was included in the deal.  Apparently this was another demand of Megalo Melo.  Chauncey is indeed the "hometown favorite."  The first time that we saw him play was as an all-star high schooler from George Washington in Denver.  The last time we saw him was courtside at the CU Coors Events Center, cheering on his alma mater is a win over Kansas State.  Melo will not be missed, but Chauncey will.

Chauncey & Carmelo

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Although I consider my musical tastes to be broad and eclectic, I must say there are some genres that I cannot abide - free-form jazz; four hour operas; rap; heavy-metal.  I am not sure where the Dave Brubeck Quartet fit in the music classification, but I appreciate their sound and their iconic Take Five.  However, I like this tune even more than Take Five - enjoy!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


When we lived in Malibu, we quickly learned that the nearest Mennonite congregation was in Pasadena which was then pastored by Jim Brenneman who is now President of Goshen College.  Since Pasadena was an hours drive, we checked out a few of the local churches - the Campus Church of Christ and Malibu Presbyterian, a church popular with the protestant Pepperdine folks who are not C of C.  It was at Malibu Pres that we were once seated behind Rande Gerber and wife Cindy Crawford.  During meet and greet Rhonda was stymied by the gender of their young son, and simply commented that they had a beautiful child.  We found this to be a fairly common situation - a mop-headed, gender-neutral dressed tyke with a name that did not help at all - Sky, Dakota, Phoenix, Sage, etc.

One Sunday we decided to check out the Malibu Vineyard.  We had noticed that there were many cars coming and going at the very non-church looking building on Stuart Ranch Road.  We liked the fact that they had an early service which had to finish on time to make room for the second service.  What stood out immediately was the music.  The worship music folks were basically all professionals of some sort and were dedicated to playing fine worship music.  Talk about diametric to the typical Mennonite a capella four part harmonies!  Rock and roll, performance quality, emotional and uplifting.

We attended during the Vineyard's heyday- Pastor Dave Owen had overseen the growth of the church and its move from meeting space at Webster Elementary School to a multimillion dollar complex anchored by a theater style auditorium with professional quality sound and lighting systems.  There were two morning services and an evening service and other activities during the week.  Dave was a dynamic South African who's theology was quite Anabaptist and style was charismatic evangelical.  You can read about the rise and fall of the Malibu Vineyard in the Malibu Times, but to summarize a very long story - personality focused church; leadership clash; fiscal irregularities; schism; terminal illness; congregation dwindles from 2500 to 25; bankruptcy and dissolution.

We very much enjoyed the music and creative arts at the Vineyard - with the majority of people in the Southland employed in "the industry"  the professionalism displayed is not too surprising.  The music leaders included Charity Chapman, Steve Counsel, and probably our favorite, Kate Miner.  A representative video can be found here.  Drama and other visual productions were capably handled by folks like D. David Morin and Joel Daavid.

Another fascinating aspect of the Vineyard was the attendees of note, from the rich folks such as Michael Hammer to celebs such as Gary Busey and Pam Anderson, a regular attendee.  It seemed as though Dave and Sylvia Owen were the church celebs who could relate to the Malibu glitterati.  Our favorite celeb story occurred during a California visit of Rhonda's brother Ken and wife Ann.  As we pulled in to the Vineyard parking lot [in our very distinct green Subaru], Rhonda remarked "Watch for a big white Escalade because that's what Pam Anderson usually drives."  Sure enough, the white Escalade rolled in, but Pam was in the passenger seat, her two boys were in the back seat, and there was a male driver.  As they all got out of the car, we noted that the familiar looking man had a nicely groomed pony tail, and I said "It's Kid Rock."  Ken said "No way!!"  And then we all agreed it was indeed the Kid.  So Ken and Ann marked it down as a memorable occasion - going to church with Pam Anderson and Kid Rock.

Friday, February 04, 2011


Perhaps some of you have been to McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica.  Spend a little time at their shop or their website and you should agree that it is an interesting place.  Not only is there an amazing selection of stringed instruments, but there is also a back room that they regularly clear out, set up about a hundred chairs, and have a nice, small-venue concert featuring some great folks.  Go here to check out their upcoming concerts.  We had become fans of Mary Gauthier via her popular Mercy Now [link is to a nice performance at the Grand Old Opry] and the album with the same title, and thus when we learned that she would be at McCabe's, we hopped to it.  We were just a few rows from the front, but even those in the back had great seats.  The evening was most enjoyable; Mary writes interesting songs and has a unique style; she is also accomplished guitar player; and her single accompanist for the evening was Thomm Jutz whose guitar playing was spectacular and his harmonies were appropriately supportive of Mary's lead.  McCabe's offered tea and cookies as well as an opportunity to meet the performers after the show.  The two videos below are reminiscent of the Gauthier-Lutz evening at McCabe's. 

Thursday, February 03, 2011



Goshen College

Service is a fascinating concept, and it has deep roots in the military, business and religion. There is some evidence for a biological/medical/evolutionary basis for serving, especially as it relates to the contributions of group selection to Darwinian evolution and to the evolutionary basis of altruism, although controversies abound.  However, we are not going there today, but rather will note an interesting story about CU-Boulder being the number one school for providing Peace Corps volunteers:

CU-Boulder grads rank first in nation for Peace Corps volunteers - 117 undergrad alumni help campus attain record for first time
For the first time in its history, the University of Colorado Boulder is ranked No. 1 in the nation for graduates serving as Peace Corps volunteers this year with 117 undergraduate alumni currently serving around the world, the Peace Corps announced Tuesday, Feb. 1.

CU-Boulder was ranked No. 2 last year and in 2009, and is ranked the No. 5 all-time school for volunteers with 2,269 alumni who have served in the Peace Corps since it was established in 1961.

"I am delighted that our emphasis on civic engagement as part of the learning experience at CU-Boulder has resulted in service-oriented graduates contributing to their global community," said Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano. "Service-learning and civically engaged graduates are a cornerstone of our Flagship 2030 strategic plan and it is gratifying for the university community to realize that our vision is becoming a reality."

The University of Florida ranked No. 2 for large schools this year with 97 undergraduate alumni serving. Also placing in the top five were the University of Michigan, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Washington.

Each year, more than 13,000 CU-Boulder students participate in some form of community service, according to Peter Simons, director of CU-Boulder's Institute for Ethical and Civic Engagement.

"We have traditionally attracted students who have a desire to be engaged in communities locally and overseas," Simons said. "The combination of these students and our emphasis on civic engagement really fosters an environment where a good number of our graduates join the Peace Corps every year."

The Peace Corps ranks its top volunteer-producing schools annually according to the size of the student body. Large schools have more than 15,000 undergraduates, medium-size schools have between 5,001 and 15,000 undergraduates, and small schools have fewer than 5,000 undergraduates. George Washington University ranked first among medium-size schools with 72 undergraduate alumni currently serving and the University of Mary Washington ranked highest among small schools with 32 undergraduate alumni serving.

"For the last 50 years, colleges and universities across our country have been an integral part of the Peace Corps family, from developing young leaders to hosting trainings and teaching the importance of lifelong learning," said Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams. "In 1961, President Kennedy created the Peace Corps in response to the passion of university students, and today we continue to be inspired by the enthusiasm, dedication and creativity of the thousands of Americans now serving overseas. Colleges instill a commitment to public service among their students and share our belief that, together, we can work to make the world a better place."
When asked how CU-Boulder has prepared her for the Peace Corps, Chelsea Komlo, a senior majoring in anthropology and philosophy, said her opportunities to work as a leader and learn about leadership on campus really helped give her the confidence to tackle her next challenge as a Peace Corps volunteer. Komlo was part of the university's Presidents Leadership Class, where she learned about best leadership practices. She also held leadership roles in several other student groups and efforts on campus.

"I think being involved in several leadership roles here at CU-Boulder has made me realize how much I have to offer, and I hope to use my leadership experience when I travel to Africa," said Komlo, who recently was accepted into the Peace Corps and will travel to Africa later this year after graduation. While she hasn't been assigned to a specific country yet, she most likely will be working in health education.

Last December, CU-Boulder also became part of the Peace Corps' Master's International program, which allows volunteers to combine Peace Corps service with a master's degree program and receive credit for their Peace Corps service abroad.

Each year since 2004, CU-Boulder has ranked in the top three schools in the nation for Peace Corps volunteers – three times as the No. 2 school and four times at No. 3.

You can check out the 2009 data for all of the top schools here.  What I find particularly striking is the preponderance of secular universities in all categories including small universities and colleges.  And, there is nary a single Mennonite school in the top 25.  Is this because Mennos choose different types of service activities via MCC, EMM, Teach for America, etc., or enter service oriented careers?  Perhaps someone out there has data.