Well, the sun’s not so hot in the sky today
and you know I can see summertime slipping on away.
A few more geese are gone, a few more leaves turning red,
but the grass is as soft as a feather in a featherbed.
• John Sheldon, “September Grass”
Ah, September. The harvest begins. The baseball season is winding down. Football is kicking off. The kids are back at school. A gradual cooling, interrupted by dying summer gasps of heat.
We camped out last weekend on the old family farm. One night the air was so chill and the dew so heavy it dripped through our tents and soaked us. Another day it was so hot and humid it felt like the fourth of July. We swam by day and bundled up in blankets around the fire at night.
Any hint of fall and I feel the wanderlust welling up within me. Only one thing to do with that feeling today. So come on, let’s ramble!
• • •
LAND OF THE FREE AND HOME OF THE TASTELESS
A Texas mattress store, advertising a “Twin Tower sale,” posted an ad on social media, described here by Fox News:
The offending ad for Miracle Mattress starts with San Antonio branch store manager Cherise Bonanno — Mike Bonanno’s daughter — asking “What better way to remember 9/11 than with a Twin Tower sale?” and ends with two employees falling backwards onto two piles of mattresses with an American flag in between them.
Cherise Bonanno gasps in horror as her coworkers and the mattresses topple over. She then turns to the camera and says: “We’ll never forget.”
Okay, Bonannos, that’s enough exposure for you. You have been forgotten.
It has been announced that Miracle Mattress will be closed indefinitely.
• • •
Speaking of capitalism run amok, how’s this for scary? NPR reports:
Wells Fargo Bank has been ordered to pay $185 million in fines and penalties to settle what the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau calls “the widespread illegal practice of secretly opening unauthorized deposit and credit card accounts.”
Thousands of Wells Fargo employees opened the accounts in secret so they would get bonuses for hitting their sales targets, according to investigators. More than 2 million deposit and credit card accounts may have been created without customer authorization.
WF is paying the largest penalty the CFPB has ever imposed. And well they should. Is it any wonder ordinary people in this country are hesitant to trust institutions?
Before you know it, we’ll all be hiding cash in our mattresses again.
• • •
THE ADJECTIVE RULES
If you are a native English speaker, you may never have thought about this. But you know it’s true.
It has been said that when Lord Of The Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien was a boy, he wrote a story. It was about a green, great dragon. His mother said, You can’t have a green, great dragon.”
The boy replied, “Why not”
And she said, “I don’t know, but you can’t.”
Turns out it’s the same reason, as I found out in an NPR interview, that you can’t have a movie called, “My Greek, Fat, Big Wedding” or a song called, “Polka Dot, Yellow, Itsy-bitsy, Teenie-weenie Bikini.”
There are rules about which adjectives to use when. Mark Forsyth, author of “The Elements Of Eloquence: How To Turn The Perfect English Phrase,” says most native English speakers intuitively know to place their adjectives properly. We do it by:
Why? No one seems to know. But if you were a non-native English speaker and had to figure that out, how much of a bummer would that be?
That brings to mind one of my favorite movie scenes.
• • •
QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK
• • •
ISRAEL—Ancient documents uncovered by archaeologists working in the West Bank confirmed Friday that the disputed term “selah” present throughout the Psalms and Habakkuk is actually best translated “extended guitar solo.”
While many scholars had previously believed the Hebrew word referred to either a period of quiet reflection, a musical pause, or a time of heightened musical crescendo, the recent discovery of scrolls in remarkable shape lend overwhelming evidence to the theory that the term actually instructed Hebrew worship bands to shred across all six-strings in a blistering, melodic guitar solo.
“This is an astounding find—it really can’t be overstated,” biblical archaeologist Dr. Thomas Earl told reporters excitedly. “While we knew that Old Testament worshipers often incorporated instruments into their singing of the Psalms, we had no idea that biblical worship was often accompanied by a gratuitous, performance-oriented electric guitar solo.”
Other experts in Old Testament language studies have confirmed that scribbled on the back of one of the newly discovered scrolls was a piece of tablature notating a rudimentary version of famed guitarist Slash’s soulful solo from hit single “November Rain.”
“While many Christians have cautioned against excessive use of showmanship and flashy musical performances in our times of worship, well—it seems like the Scripture now confirms it’s okay to wail, if the Spirit so moves,” Dr. Earl continued.
• • •
MONT BLANC ORDEAL
I saw a friend the other day who told me he and his wife had just returned from the trip of a lifetime, hiking and climbing near Mont Blanc. He didn’t tell me about the excitement that took place later in the week. The New York Times tells the story.
For the nearly three dozen passengers who dangled in cable cars 12,500 feet over the glaciers of Mont Blanc, it was a long, cold and — in most cases — sleepless night.
Their ordeal began at around 2 p.m. local time on Thursday, in the Mont Blanc massif near Chamonix, in the French Alps, when 12 cable cars abruptly halted in midair, after their cables became tangled between the Aiguille du Midi in France and Pointe Helbronner in Italy.
The system of cable cars can carry up to 140 people, who can enjoy a spectacular panoramic view. Some are climbers trying to scale the area’s snow-capped mountains. The trip takes 30 minutes, and on Thursday there were passengers in nine of the cars.
All together 110 people were trapped, including Koreans, Britons, Americans and Italians, among them several children and an older man. After efforts to untangle the cables failed, rescuers were able to retrieve 65 people by winching them up into helicopters starting around 5:30 p.m.
A dozen more passengers were evacuated by an Italian rescue team, which helped them to descend vertically by rope to safety, which they were able to do since their cable car was close to the ground.
But when night fell, making it perilous for the rescue helicopters to operate, the emergency operation was suspended. That left 33 people, including a 10-year old boy, suspended over Mont Blanc in seven cars, French officials said Friday. Thus began a seemingly interminable night that the stranded passengers described as one of fear, boredom and panic.
By 8:30 in the morning, all had been rescued.
• • •
THE UNCHANGING WORD OF GOD (IN ENGLISH)
The ESV is now set in stone. Christianity Today reports:
The English Standard Version (ESV) received its final update this summer, 17 years after it was first authorized by Crossway, its publisher.
The translation oversight committee changed just 52 words across 29 verses—out of more than 775,000 words across more than 31,000 verses—for the final “permanent text” edition. The board then voted, unanimously, to make the text “unchanged forever, in perpetuity.”
The ESV is following the example of a much older—and surprisingly popular—translation.
“The text of the ESV Bible will remain unchanged in all future editions printed and published by Crossway—in much the same way that the King James Version (KJV) has remained unchanged ever since the final KJV text was established almost 250 years ago (in 1769),” Crossway stated on its website.
…By most counts, the ESV is the third most popular Bible translation in America, after the KJV and the New International Version (NIV). More than 100 million printed copies have been distributed since the ESV was first published in 2001, including 30 million last year.
Note: the photo is from a post Michael did after requesting “product placement” pix from readers for the ESV Study Bible back in 2008. The Marx Brothers shot was my submission. Go to THIS POST and THIS ONE to see others.
• • •
THIS WEEK IN MUSIC
The last person I would ever expect to put out a “mood music” record is Nels Cline, the avant-garde jazz guitarist and member of the band Wilco. But he has.
It is called Lovers, and it has been released on the Blue Note label. 25 years in the making, it is a sumptuous exploration of the mysteries of love and romance. Cline talked about the project, as well as many other aspects of his career, on NPR’s Fresh Air this past week. It’s a wonderful interview that led me to respect Cline even more for his thoughtful, eloquent approach to his vocation.
Here is a trailer for the new album in which he explains its vision and gives behind-the-scenes looks at the process of making it.
And here’s the recording session for Cline’s take on the Rodgers and Hammerstein song, “I Have Dreamed.”