Dear Diary . . .


Another year of MLB in the books. For the first time in 56 years of west coast baseball, the Giants have won the pennant. My baseball year was over after the Braves lost in the first round of the playoffs. It was a good send-off for the bog #6, Bobby Cox.

Now that the NFL near or around the halfway mark, and the NBA is completing its first week in the 2010-11 season, my thoughts turn to my fantasy NBA and NFL teams.

I’m running two NFL fantasy teams and one NBA team. Only one for money, therefore, only one matters (ha!). I’m number one in the money league, but I’ve let a lead like that slip away before so I’ll have to keep you updated. That lead could’ve slipped away this week had I not faced a guy the matchup who forgot to set his roster. I’ve had two straight weeks of typically high-scoring players who have barely crossed the 5 point mark. Rough, i tell ya.

Right now I’m finishing the Colts game out of mere addiction. I switched to ESPN Fantasy this year, and the free, live FantasyCast has me glued to the computer screen with brief stints watching the actual TV screen. I say addiction because I won my matchup yesterday, but I still have Schaub and Garcon in play (neither of whom have come close to the analysts point predictions).

Life’s been hectic of late. Work’s forever unspeakable because of regulations, so let’s just say it’s been good. Now I just have to live up to the standards I’ve set myself. Church has been fun because of several leading and praise team appearances. Touring has been light of late, but we’ve added personal travel to make up for it.

This past weekend I had outdoor show in west Tennessee. The weather has been a bit strange, and to prove it, I got a sun burn in October! I drove myself out there so I could get back to the house in time to pass out candy for Halloween. I tried my best to break the speed laws, but it didn’t work. I guess it could have, but we bought a fire pit just before I left for the shows. Our neighbors have a tradition of passing the candy out from the driveways while gathered around fire pits. I love that because I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy one. When I got back to the house I had to put it together, and by the time I did that, it was too late. Karen and I lit a fire and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows together on the back porch. While Karen wishes we could have been together for the trick-or-treaters, the time she and I got to share on the back porch made the speed demonic trip home worth every mile!

This weekend we get to visit family in Indiana. My great-grandparents are celebrating 70 years of marriage together. Not many people have or will be able to enjoy something like that, so I consider myself almost as blessed as my Nina and Grandpa. I hope Karen and I live long enough to share that with our families.

Next shows will be weekend after this coming one. We’ll be in the Chicago area, so you who can come, I’d love to see ya!

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Off the road for the next two weekends!  I’m pretty stoked about some good Saturday time with Karen for two straight weekends. 

Actually, it’s a bit difficult to step away from music for that long.  Thank God for Ken Young and the Fourth Avenue church, though.  Ken asked me to lead worship again while he’s in Alaska this Sunday, and next week is fourth Sunday so Karen and I will be on the praise team.  The last time I led, he was in Texas, and man it’s easy to see why he loves what he does.  He’s put something quite special together with that team and Hallal.  Karen and I will get to sing on the praise team the following week, as well.  A thirty-minute drive to church (where we’d be anyway) to do some singing is hardly a taxing task.

The last Vocal Union show nearly wiped me out.  The ironic part is that we barely sang (two 30 minute sets at Silver Dollar City).  We didn’t take the bus to Missouri because so many of us brought our families along.  From Friday night to Monday night I threw a little over 1,000 miles on the old Accord.  Love that gas mileage!  Karen’s parents and brother came with us, and we tore that town to bits.  Between the rides, the mini-golf, the TWO country fried steaks I ate, and all manner of other goods, I drove and laughed myself into a week-long weariness.  I wouldn’t change a thing! 

We’ve added a few dates to the schedule.  Of course, the Paris and Illinois dates stand, but we’ve added three shows in North Alabama–Karen’s home region.  The weekend before Thanksgiving we’ll be in Florence, Athens, and Joppa, Alabama.  Florence is Saturday and the other two are on Sunday.  Not sure what any of them are, I just know I’d love to see any of you if you can make it!

AND let me tell you just how much I’d love to see you there: I got a call this morning from one of my best friends in the world, Paul David Kennamer (PD, for short).  He needed me to do a show with them, but because of the bookings in Alabama I had to turn it down.  The kicker of the deal (here’s the bitter part) is that show he needed me for is in . . . (wait for it) . . . Bermuda.  Yes, freakin’ Bermuda.  I turned down an island gig to do a North Alabama gig, so you’d better be there!!! Ha!

Is that opposed to down dates?  I don’t know about that word’s philology, and I’m not motivated enough to find out right now.

It’s raining in Middle Tennessee – hard.  The last videos I saw showed an actual building floating on and down I-24 and smashing into submerged cars.  No injuries reported as of yet.  The newscaster said that some places in our area got as much as 15″ of rain.  That sounds awfully outlandish, but if you saw the 24 East River like I did, you may tend to believe it like I do.

The lectures at the University of North Alabama went well.  We covered the history of Revelation and its place in the Apocalyptic tradition.  After spending more time in it, myself, I’ve actually started the process toward liking the book.  It’ll be a long row to hoe, I assure you.

I’ve added a new lecture that will take place tomorrow morning at the Kingwood Heights church.  I’m not listing it in the appearance section because I figure it would be a little presumptuous to list an event at the church I attend.  There’s a class on angels taking place each Sunday, and the instructor felt it would be a good addition to have a class on the Apocrypha, so I agreed to take the reins for a day.  If you’re in the area, stop by: worship – 9:00 a.m. and class – 10:00 a.m.  Obviously it won’t have much depth since that broad of a subject is difficult to cram into 45+ minutes.  We will, however, cover the early canons and manuscripts that contain Apocryphal and pseudepigraphal works along with references within canonical texts to a few of the books.

Also, the August singing date in Alabama has been canceled.  If it happens to hit the radar again, I’ll let you know.

Yup, I am pretty bummed about the home stretch of two of my favorite shows.  24 and Lost should’ve started paying rent at this house.

I guess there will be two hours a week that will soon be freed here.  I’m really in to V right now, so maybe that won’t be cancelled.  Any suggestions?

Here’s the weekly lineup: Mon – DWTS (shameful indulgence, I guess), House, 24; Tue – Lost, American Idol (I’m losing interest), DWTS, V; Wed – Modern Family, American Idol; Thur – Community, The Office, The Mentalist (does the title have the article?); Fri, Sat, Sun – open

I’m putting together my Revelation lectures for next week.  A few years ago I would have been a little nervous about doing something like this because the book is a bit intimidating.  Now I’m not so worried about it.

If you think about it you’ll probably be hard pressed to come up with a contemporary book like this one.  I don’t think anyone would allow the imagery into rational thought.  Dragons, candlesticks, seals (not the animals), lakes of fire (try to reconcile that one), and multi-headed beasts, it’s all a bit Tolkien for me. 

Here’s the key, if you can understand Tolkien, then you’re in the right frame of mind for Revelation.  One thing stands for another, and none of it is to be taken literally.  The problem in the application is one that has haunted literati for ages: you can never know authorial intent.  Never.  Even if an author writes a book that outlines how each symbol and character are to be interpretted, it doesn’t matter — you can never know.

That’s the rub with literature/art in general.  Once an artist allows his/her work to enter the world the interpretation is up to and is owned by the audience (regardless of who gets the royalty/residual).  The money is there (hopefully) to salve that very wound.

Take, for example, a poem.

“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

What does it mean?  Is it something to you and something else to me?  Is it what Frost wanted?  Is it literal?  Figurative?

The answers to every single one of them are “yes” and “no” simultaneously.  Strangely enough, this is pretty advanced literary stuff, and you’ll know you’re not quite ready for it if you’re still arguing that the poem means what Frost meant it to mean.  I know, I know, I’m sorry – that’s just the way it is.  Even if we knew exactly what Frost intended, it makes no difference because intepretation is always open.  It means one thing for you and another for me and another for Frost, and so on. 

When you approach Revelation in this, the correct way, it becomes an entirely new quandary.  What do you do with a book, veiled in allegory, thick with symbolism, cryptic at best, and whose very name means something along the lines of “decoded” (not exactly, but a variant), when there is a large section of the population who is looking to the book for some type of direction and life application?  The literary inevitability is that no two people come away with the same answers.  Sure, some will say they believe it’s all meant to be read this way or that way, but that only happens because several people have aligned to one person’s interpretation.  It was one of the most debated inclusions in the canon, and barely won over the Apocalypse of Peter (which is equally useless and useful, again, simultaneously), mainly because interpretation is the fingerprint or snowflake of literature. 

All I can do is take the good ole Historical-Critical approach to this one.  Who, what, where, when, why, how, and the most critical, can it be proven?  99% of the time that last one will be no.

Oh, well.  We’ll get through it.  You give it a read, then evaluate whether or not the title should be Revelation or Frustration.  You’ll see what I mean.

We just got the tickets today to go see George Strait and Reba McEntire’s concert in September!  They’re sweet seats!

Oh . . . we also got FLOOR SEATS to the final stop on Brooks and Dunn’s farewell tour!  August in Nashville!

Be jealous.  Be very, very jealous!

Miss ya, Al'. Miss ya every day.

 It’s been almost a month since we had to do it.

Alley’s been with us for all but the first year of our marriage.  She’s held rank over every animal we’ve had mainly because she was here first.  She’d roam the house on what seemed to be somewhat of a routine.  Mornings were for window sills, afternoons were for the yellow chair in the second living room (in Florence).  And evenings were for sleeping either on Karen’s or my feet.

In her penultimate year with us she started showing signs of discontent by pissing outside the litter box.  We thought it was a UTI so we took her to the vet where she was treated.

It looked like things were fine.  Then we moved – twice.

Some feedback/research shows that cats will exhibit such uncouth, bladderly behavior when they’re getting used to new surroundings, but in none of our moves did Alley display such.  In fact, she adjusted better than we.  But about six months after both moves she started up again. 

To make a long story short–and less repulsive–we finally grew too weary of replacing clothing, suitcases, rugs, briefcases, and the like.  Karen sent me a text while I was at a meeting in Lewisburg, Tennessee, about a month ago saying that she’d done it again.  With the thought that we would probably have to send her away if a baby ever came, I decided it was time to take her to the shelter for adoption.  The longer I waited to do that the more I would have hated it.  Band-Aid off.  Bone set.

Unfortunately, Karen had already called the shelter and told them about Alley’s little problem.  Their reply was that they would have to put Alley down because their policies wouldn’t allow them to adopt out an animal with a problem.  What they didn’t know was that Karen wouldn’t be taking her to the shelter–I would be.

I came home, we said our goodbyes, and off Alley and I went to the Rutherford County shelter.

“What’s her name?”

“Alley.”

“Will she make someone else a good pet?”

“Absolutely.”

I ran down the best advertisement for a cat that anyone had ever assembled.  I proceeded to tell them my wife was six months pregnant and we simply had to give her up.

“You’re right, Mr. Mustain.  She’ll find a home very quickly.”

As I drove away from the shelter I smiled sheepishly feeling absolutely fine about the web I’d woven.  I would do it again, too.  No, Karen is not pregnant, but I wasn’t going toll the bell for a cat I loved.

I don’t know how it all ended.  She could be dead now for all I know.  I just know that I hope that one day my kids won’t pull the plug on me for a little incontinence.

Miss ya, Alley.  Miss ya every day.

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