Saturday, June 25, 2011



July 17, 1928 – March 12, 2011

I was informed last week by my friend Mr. Sheboyganboy Six that my favorite drummer Joe Morello passed away recently. Sad to say, but I hadn’t even been assuming that he was still with us. Some fan I am!

Anyway, Sheboyganboy Six – who is very intelligent, a sharp businessman, a fine judge of good writing, a good judge of fine friends, and who can sometimes tell excellent music from crap - sent me some Xeroxed stuffs about Morello.

These were published tributes to Morello, and I’ll post some quotes from them after this word from our sponsor, Wikipedia:

Wikipedia Sez:

Joseph Albert Morello was a jazz drummer best known for his 12½-year stint with The Dave Brubeck Quartet. He was frequently noted for playing in the unusual time signatures employed by that group in such pieces as "Take Five" and "Blue Rondo à la Turk".

Morello later became an in-demand clinician, teacher and bandleader whose former students include Danny Gottlieb (‘The Pat Metheny Group’), Max Weinberg (Bruce Springsteen’s ‘E Street Band’), and ‘Phish’ drummer Jon Fishman…

Morello was the recipient of many awards, including Playboy magazine's best drummer award for seven years in a row, and Down Beat magazine's best drummer award five years in a row. He was elected to the Modern Drummer magazine Hall of Fame in 1988, the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 1993…

As I stated in my recent blog bit ‘Swing Is In The Air’ (Or, ‘You Go, Joe!’), I credit Morello’s memorable drum solo in “Take Five”, the best selling Jazz song ever recorded, with initiating my interest in Jazz, which eventually became my very favorite musical form.

In Stan Hall’s lovely single-page tribute to Joe Morello, he wrote:

Morello “displayed a remarkable combination of astonishing technical refinement and astute musical judgement.

“In contrast to others who seemed to equate the quality of their playing with the amount of gratuitous notes with which they could clutter the air, Joe’s solos were well-constructed musical statements that could be elegantly simple or stunningly complex, as occasion demanded. Combining musical solos with sensitive and creative timekeeping made Morello one of the greatest drummers of all time.

“Brubeck Quartet saxophonist Paul Desmond once noted that the only way you could follow a Joe Morello drum solo was by firing off a cannon.

“Keith Moon … told Rolling Stone magazine in a 1972 interview that, ‘Technically, Joe Morello is perfect’.”

Let’s pause now, just long enough to listen to the master drummer drum. Unless I miss my guess, this two and a half minute excerpted solo comes from the tune “Far More Drums” in 5/4 time. Kinda makes you wanna burn your old John “Boring” Bonham records, doesn’t it?

The following quotes come from a tribute to Joe Morello printed in the July 2011 edition of Modern Drummer magazine:

Stan Hall: “Humor was a big part of Morello’s personality.”

Rick Van Horn: “Joe was a gentle and witty man.”

Doug Kassel: “He made the impossible look easy and fun, with immense amounts of technique, taste, musicality, and humor. One of the all-time legendary masters of the instrument.

John Riley: “His playing was infused with a unique sense of melodic development, drama, and wit.”

I find it interesting that so many people who knew Joe mention his wit and sense of humor because THAT is precisely what made me first take notice of his drumming upon hearing “Take Five” for the first time so many years ago. As I stated in ‘Swing Is In The Air’ (Or, ‘You Go, Joe!’), there is a four-combo drumroll he does in that solo that made me laugh out loud the first time I heard it.

And to this day, when I really concentrate on Joe’s drumming, I will still sometimes laugh, but at the very least I will find a big smile coming involuntarily to my face because his quirky rhythms are just so witty, funny, and fun! In other words, Joe Morello’s humorous personality comes across even in the licks with sticks he plays. Listen closely sometime and see if you don’t hear the humor in his solos.

Rick Mattingly: “The first image of Joe Morello that comes to my mind is of him sitting on his sofa playing on the RealFeel pad that was always perched on his coffee table. Sometimes he would be listening to his TV, sometimes he would be having a conversation with his wife, Jean, or with a visitor or caller, but the sticks would always be going. For many years, his guide dog, Matthew, would be asleep at his feet, oblivious to the polyrhythmic wonders going on a few inches above his head.”

Carl Palmer: “Joe was one of the very first to deal with odd time signatures, “Take Five” by Paul Desmond being the first of many for JM to tackle… Listen to the hi-hats on “Take Five” and you will see what I mean. The solo itself is devastating to this day.”

Peter Erskine: Joe “taught us all a thing or two about music and about what was possible on the drumset. … His overwhelming technique never overwhelmed the music. … Joe was the thinking man’s drummer, but he made the the thinking man’s band swing.”

Bill Bruford: “Joe was one of the three pillars of the drum world that got me into it in the first place – the others being Max Roach and Art Blakey.”

Dan Brubeck: “His soloing was an incomparable mix of melodic phrases that he played with blazing chops combined with rhythmically explosive expression.”

Steve Fidyk: Joe had “masterful technique and impeccable taste.”

Rod Morgenstein: “Joe Morello opened my eyes to the world of jazz drumming, and odd times, and the realization that a drummer could be a musician too.

“As a young drummer, I remember hearing “Take Five”, “Blue Rondo A La Turk”, and “Unsquare Dance” and being completely mesmerized by how rhythm could be manipulated in so many interesting ways…

“Joe Morello brought a rare elegance to drumming – a classy, often understated (despite his incredible chops!) approach to playing music, which we can all learn a great deal from.”

And now here’s some music philosophy from the man himself:

Joe Morello: “When people use the word technique, they usually mean speed. But the ‘Take Five’ solo had very little speed involved. It was more about space and playing over the barline. It was conspicuous by being so different

“Technique is only a means to an end. The more control you have of the instrument, the more confidence you will get and the more you will be able to express your ideas. But just for technique alone – just to see how fast you can play so you can machine-gun everybody to death – that doesn’t make any sense. Technique is only good if you can use it musically.”

Thanks again to Mr. Sheboyganboy Six (and Modern Drummer magazine) for the fabulous articles.

Let’s close with a few videos of mo’ Morello mastery. This first one is Morello playing with Gary Burton’s band. The tune is “Just In Time” …[and now I’m gonna try to show off without looking anything up – hope I don’t fall flat on my face here]… which comes from the Broadway show and Hollywood movie “Bells Are Ringing” starring Judy Holliday. In the movie, the song was sung by Dean Martin. Woo-Hoo, do I know my stuffs, or what?! (If I’m mistaken in any of this, someone please correct me in the ‘Comment’ section.) It’s because of sounds found in this instrumental that I loves Jazz so much:

The classic Dave Brubeck Quartet sound - “Far More Blue”:

And now for something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. The Brubeck Quartet's "Unsquare Dance":

Hey, y’all, don’t forget to check back in here at ‘Stuffs’ regularly for the “really big shoe” I’m workin’ on. See the coming attractions HERE [<-- Link].

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011



Teralyn Rose Pilgrim of the blog ‘A WRITER’S JOURNEY’ conceived the idea for ‘The Favorite Book Challenge’ blogfest..

The challenge is to list your five favorite books and in a single sentence explain the book’s subject matter followed by a single sentence explaining why it’s on your list. (She said that semicolons were discouraged but acceptable, and so I’m assuming that also goes for parentheses. If not, just label me a “rebel”, a “cheater”, a “nonconformist”, an “end-runner”, or an “independent thinker” – it’z all good.)

My first thought: Only five books? Fuhggedaboudit! I couldn’t possibly limit myself to a list of five.

Ahhh, but then I noticed the loophole. She also said: “You don't have to do all five if you don't want, and you can do more too. Just don't do more than ten and don't do less than one.”

OK, color me “In”.

My Number One Favorite Book:

HOLY BIBLE From The Ancient Eastern Text
Translated by George M. Lamsa (1933)

What The Pages Are Yakkin’ About:
This is the Cosmic Psychology Textbook and the owner’s manual for “human life”, dictated and inspired by Life and Love Itself.

Why - How Come - What For I Loves It So:
This is the only book that I read from cover to cover every single year because it contains all of the answers to all of the truly essential questions in life.

The Next Nine Books Are Alphabetized By Title:

BLACKLISTED BY HISTORY: The Untold Story Of Senator Joe McCarthy And His Fight Against America’s Enemies
By M. Stanton Evans (2007)

What The Pages Are Yakkin’ About:
With access to previously unavailable sources and the investigative instinct of a history detective who will leave no stone unturned, M. Stanton Evans publishes a book of more than 600 pages that finally and forever exonerates Senator McCarthy and restores his good name.

Why - How Come - What For I Loves It So:
Although some very good pro-Senator McCarthy books had been previously published, Evans digs even deeper into the facts than did his predecessors and he uncovers plenty of new material that pounds the final nail into the Liberal lie about Senator McCarthy, showing the whole world who America’s enemies were and exposing the identities of the real villains during the era of “McCarthyism”.

THE CALIFORNIA STYLE: California Watercolor Artists, 1925-1955
Edited by Gordon McClelland and Jay Last (1985)

What The Pages Are Yakkin’ About:
Masters of watercolor painting who worked and taught over the course of three decades in California are represented by gorgeous reproductions of some of their best/most famous works.

Why - How Come - What For I Loves It So:
An almost countless number of full-color illustrations of nearly every conceivable style and subject matter is found in this book that I often melt into and mentally vacation with regardless of what mood or frame of mind in which I find myself.

THE CREATURE FROM JEKYLL ISLAND: A Second Look At The Federal Reserve
By G. Edward Griffin (1994)

What The Pages Are Yakkin’ About:
Griffin, an absolute master at organizing vast amounts of information and presenting it in an interesting and easy-to-understand manner, examines the various facets of our monetary system, The Federal Reserve, and clearly shows why the United States of America has no chance of recovering from its poor health and returning to liberty and prosperity until the creature that is the Federal Reserve System has been abolished.

Why - How Come - What For I Loves It So:
Along with John Stormer’s “None Dare Call It Treason: 25 Years Later”, this is my all-time favorite book on the subject of American (and global) politics; and as I have often said, “People cannot consider themselves politically educated until they have a firm understanding of the information contained in ‘The Creature From Jekyll Island’.”

THE RESURRECTION OF THE SHROUD: New Scientific, Medical And Archeological Evidence
By Mark Antonacci (2000)

What The Pages Are Yakkin’ About:
A lawyer examines in great detail the various forms of evidence indicating that The Shroud Of Turin – the most astounding, mystifying artifact on the planet – is most likely indeed the very cloth that the body of Jesus Christ was wrapped and laid to rest in.

Why - How Come - What For I Loves It So:
The only thing better than a great mystery is a great NONFICTION mystery, and none is better than “The Resurrection Of The Shroud”, a remarkable book that re-energizes my faith when I’m feeling down and a book that explains why no amount of money on Earth could buy a person an EXACT replica of The Shroud of Turin.

By Mark Twain (1872)

What The Pages Are Yakkin’ About:
The genius-est of the ‘Genius Men of Letters’, Mark Twain, regales us with true stories (some of them exaggerated; some of them exaggerated beyond the realm of nonfiction) about his gold mining adventures in the Wild West of Virginia City, Nevada.

Why - How Come - What For I Loves It So:
ROUGHING IT, probably the funniest book I’ve ever read, satisfies two itches at once for me: my hankerin’ for the unequaled brilliance of Mark Twain’s writing, and my great interest in and deep love of American West history.

By Betty Smith (1943)

What The Pages Are Yakkin’ About:
A young girl – a loner – living in New York shortly after the start of the Twentieth Century, finds companionship and solace from her lonely, hard life in the pages of the books she loves.

Why - How Come - What For I Loves It So:
As I’ve often liked to say in illustrating a point about the writing skill of Betty Smith: this is probably my all-time favorite adult novel, despite the fact that I’m a male, not a female; and I grew up in Los Angeles, not Brooklyn; and my formative years took place toward the end of the Twentieth Century, not the beginning of it.

Edited by Lily Owens (1981)

What The Pages Are Yakkin’ About:
A compilation of writings by Henry David Thoreau, one of America’s most insightful, clever, and witty philosophers, who was also a mystic, a naturalist, and a social protester of immense influence.

Why - How Come - What For I Loves It So:
Five years before he was killed by a car thief, this book was given to me as a birthday gift from my best friend, Martin Brumer; and from the philosophy of ‘Walden’ (“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root”) to the righteous indignation of ‘Civil Disobedience’ (“As they could not reach me, they had resolved to punish my body; just as boys, if they cannot come at some person against whom they have a spite, will abuse his dog”), this book has probably done more to fashion my view of life than any other excepting The Bible.

By A. A. Milne (1957)

What The Pages Are Yakkin’ About:
Two books under one cover, it’s a humorous fantasy about a boy named Christopher Robin and the imaginary adventures he has with his stuffed animal playmates.

Why - How Come - What For I Loves It So:
These wonderful stories not only entertain me and remind me of the pure, joyful innocence of youth, but the final chapter of the book ‘The House At Pooh Corner’ (chapter X; “An Enchanted Place”) is probably the most beautiful – and certainly the very saddest – writing ever originated in the English language.

[*Note: If taking “two books under one cover” was cheating, then just make it “The House At Pooh Corner”.]

By Seckatary Hawkins, aka Robert F. Schulkers (1926)

What The Pages Are Yakkin’ About:
This was one in a series of adventure books, a la ‘The Hardy Boys’, written about a group of boys belonging to a club that meets along the banks of the Ohio River and who inevitably find themselves embroiled in some great mystery that they must solve before the town’s social leader and principal judge discovers the trouble they've brought upon themselves and forces the club to disband.

Why - How Come - What For I Loves It So:
When my Ma was a little girl, a boy in her class gave her three books in the “Seckatary Hawkins” series, which she passed on to me when I was a little boy, and my favorite of the three – “The Yellow Y” – was the first book I read more than once (many multiple times, in fact) and was undoubtedly the book that initiated my lifelong love of reading and kick-started my imagination.


Two watercolor illustrations from 'THE CALIFORNIA STYLE' :

My Ma's and Pa's inscription to me in my copy of 'A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN' :

So happy to be able to give you something that I know you will treasure for years to come.
Wub Always,

To a great son, partner & friend.

Marty Brumer's inscription to me in my copy of 'WORKS OF HENRY DAVID THROREAU' :

To You, from me.

Happy Birthday

Oh, goodness, I'm writing all over this book.

But to put it in a nutshell, I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST.

Have you ever wondered what the REAL Winnie-The-Pooh stuffed animals looked like? Here's a photograph:

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Have you ever wanted to travel to Los Angeles, California? You ever wanted to know what it's all about?


Whaddaya mean, nope? Shirley, you jest!

Well, be sure to check in again here real soon, kids, 'cause we've convinced [i.e., "hired"] Stephen T. McCarthy to take you on a personal tour of Los Angeles - a personal tour personally customized for you... uh... PERSONALLY!

You see, Stephen T. McCarthy was born and raised and razed in Los Angeles, so he knows every freeway, every side street, every bar and grill like he was born and raised (and razed) there. Stephen is prepared to show you every famous Los Angeles landmark, as well as plenty of sights that the average sightseeer   sightsee'r   sightseeur ...that the average visitor never sees!

Stephen will take you from Dodger Stadium, at the western edge of East L.A., all the way to Venice Beach, at the eastern edge of the West's Pacific Ocean, and show you everything in between (...except for those places in the middle that he won't be showing you).

Yes, you will be treated to the entire spectrum of what Los Angeles has to offer; from sights of affluent opulence and the extreme celebrity opulence ...uhm stuffs of Beverly Hills and Bel Air... the stench of unwashed men and Mad Dog 20/20 "On The Nickel": Skid Row on Fifth Street in downtown Lost Angels.

[Look, we're gonna level with ya: Stephen T. McCarthy don't know diddley 'bout opulence and "rich stuffs", but he does know the grime of Skid Row like the back of his hand. In fact, it can usually be found on the back of his hand... and in other places on his... eh... body. But let's not bicker and argue about that; this is supposed to be a happy occasion! Just trust us: Stephen's an entertaining tour guide and he's worth at least three of the five dollars we've promised to pay him to take you there. He'll take you there!]

No need to sign up now nor prepay for this guided tour (you will be billed later, big time); all ya gotta do is return here occasionally and watch for the blog bit titled "MY HOMEMEGALOPOLIS". Then climb on board "Los Angels Tour", buckle your seat belts, take a slug of whiskey to settle your nerves and enjoy the ride in the 1959 Cadillac that has been stolen obtained specifically for this specific trip.

We hope you have a wonderful time! And don't forget to pack your bathing suit and six or seven credit cards... unless you're female, 18 to 24 years of age, and you look absolutely maaahvelous in a bathing suit. In which case, just pack the bathing suit; we'll handle the rest.
Coupon not valid with any other offer. Must present coupon at time of purchase. Limit one coupon per person. Coupon does not apply to prior purchases. Other Restrictions may apply. Void where prohibited. We reserve the right to make changes without notice, and are not responsible for errors or omissions. All stuffs subject to prior sale. All prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any travel agent document preparation charge, and any emissions test charge or stain. Payment terms and interest rates may vary due to year of birth, vital measurements, and customer's credit score. Call Stephen T. McCarthy for details.
Side Effects May Include: Abdominal pain, agitation, anxiety, constipation, decreased sex drive, diarrhea, dizziness, dry mouth, fatigue, gas, headache, decreased appetite, increased sweating, indigestion, insomnia, nausea, nervousness, rash, pain, sleepiness, sleeplessness (oh, wait, we already mentioned "insomnia", didn't we?) sore throat, tingling or 'pins and needles', tremor, vision problems, vomiting, a slow and agonizing death.
Otherwise . . . IT'Z ALL GOOD!
"See you soon".
Your friends at . . .
~ Hangon Saint McChristopher Tours

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.


Back to the topic at hand . . . The question is: How can we have genuine ‘free will’ if God knows in advance, precisely, in great detail, what we will do in the future? Can a truly prescient God exist simultaneously with His creatures and their free will? If God already knows what we will choose, hasn’t He necessarily pre-programmed us to do that?

Or does God really even have foreknowledge of our choices at all?

In August of 2001, I made an interesting observation. While staying on the 17th floor of a Reno hotel and gazing out my window at the traffic below, I realized that my elevated position provided me with the ability to see into the future to some extent: I could see cars and pedestrians as they traveled, and I knew in advance what they would encounter provided they did not suddenly alter their course.

For instance, the person driving Car #1 west on A Street was going to eventually encounter the red Ford driving in the opposite direction even though, at that moment, the red Ford was too far up the road for the driver of Car #1 to see.

However, if the driver of Car #1 decided to turn right at the next intersection, he would suddenly discover a school bus coming in the opposite direction and a taxi cab parked up against the curb. He didn’t know what awaited him around the corner, but I did.

If the pedestrian went left at the next corner, he was destined to see a woman pushing her baby in a stroller and a group of young boys kicking a can along the sidewalk. If he continued straight ahead instead, then in three more blocks he would find himself face to face with a casino cocktail waitress smoking a cigarette at the edge of the employee’s parking lot.

In other words, my elevated position gave me the ability to see into the future, but only in a general way and dependent upon what each person below me chose to do with their free will. I did not know whether or not the driver of Car #1 would continue driving west on A Street or turn right at the next corner, but whatever decision he made, I already knew in advance a bit of what he did not yet know awaited him.

So, I could understand how a God “above us” might be able to know some of our destiny, but the problem is that I had long ago dismissed the idea of a God in “Heaven” or “above us” geographically speaking; I am convinced that there is a God who is not only above us, but below us, around us, and in us.

Furthermore, anyone who has spent much time at all studying their Bible knows that God does indeed exhibit foreknowledge, and often it’s foreknowledge down to the smallest details. For instance, God clearly prophesied a number of events in the Old Testament that were fulfilled in the New Testament down to the smallest details. He told us where and when His Son would be born and killed; how much money His Son would be betrayed for; and what His Son’s destiny was.

The Holy Bible is replete with fulfilled prophecies that were foretold in intricate detail. So, did God foreknow these things, or did He make them happen?

Well, there are certainly Bible verses that seem to indicate that in some instances God intervened and made his creations (human beings) act in certain ways. One of the most famous examples is that of the Egyptian Pharaoh and his refusal to let the Israelites go to worship in the desert. Several times the reader is told that God “hardened the heart” of Pharaoh, so that he would not let the Israelites go in order for God to use that opportunity to display His power and His concern for the Israelites.

In a case like that, could a truly righteous and just God hold Pharaoh’s refusal to let the Israelites go against him? For as the Bible also says: Who can resist God?

Yes, there are a few instances in the Bible where it appears that God intervened and used His power to make some people act in certain ways. But there are even more verses that indicate that generally we have been granted ‘free will’ and can choose or not choose to follow God and Christ.

If that’s so, how can God already know what we will do?

Some take the position that God can know every detail of our future because God transcends time. Once time is removed from the equation, this might well be true in some unfathomable way since time is a physical property and God is a spiritual Identity Force. But since no one can really claim to understand timelessness and all it implies (regardless of how much they might meditate or draw mathemetical diagrams on a chalkboard), that idea remains mere speculation, conjecture, a theory - something we don’t, and for now, can’t know. And we can’t really know what we don’t know (even if some of us are INTJs). And so, as such, that theory of God’s transcending time giving Him an ability to know our every free will decision in advance is of no real help to us in attempting to correlate these seemingly mutually exclusive ideas.

Another possible answer to this puzzle might be found in some of the amazing things that are being revealed in the studies of quantum physics:

“Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.”
~ Niels Bohr

While I have read a wee widdle bit here and there about these studies, my knowledge of quantum theory is of the most basic understanding (and perhaps even less than that) and I would dare not even attempt to expound on possible theories by which a prescient God and His free will-possessing children might simultaneously coexist as suggested by ideas found in quantum theory.

Many years ago, I sort of half-assed formulated an idea that would seem to resolve this conundrum of free will and an all-knowing God, and that’s without addressing ideas found in quantum mechanics and timelessness.

What if our lives are already “in the can” although we are seemingly experiencing them as if they are happening NOW in some linear sense?

“In the can” is a Hollywood film industry expression that means a movie has already been filmed and edited and is ready to be shown to the public. In other words, the movie has been completed and copies are now being stored in canisters and ready to be shipped to the movie theatres.

If the lives that we seem to be experiencing here and now were in actuality lived out and completed in some long ago time and/or some other dimension, it might be possible for our God to already know every detail of what lies in store for us. What if we falsely believe that everything is happening NOW for the first time but, in truth, our lives were completed in the distant past - in an ancient history that we no longer remember?

Perhaps our lives were already “in the can” long ago and far away, and we are experiencing them NOW, as if the movie of our life is being run through a film projector and we so identify with the story that we have mentally reinjected ourselves into the movie. In a case like that, God could already know every detail that awaits us in life because He has already seen the movie of our life as it was completed way back when.

Is it possible that we already accepted the Atonement of Christ long ago, and we are already dwelling with God and Christ in Heaven, but for some unexplainable reason, we are experiencing this life and identifying with it as if we were still really here and still really living it?

Maybe we went to Heaven long ago. Maybe we aren’t really here anymore, but are merely viewing an old movie of a life that was actually completed and placed “in the can” in a past that we can no longer recall.

Most of us have experienced that stange sense of déjà vu. You know, that feeling when you are suddenly, instantly overcome with a sensation that what is happening now actually happened before? There have been a few instances in my life where that déjà vu feeling was so pronounced that I really DID know a few seconds in advance precisely what someone was about to say or do.

What if déjà vu is actually a sudden, inexplicable recollection of a moment in your life that you lived before and, for reasons unknown, you’ve experienced a psychic glitch in which your mind “fast-forwarded” momentarily? In other words, we have experienced a moment of the past in the future. (Hmmm… bet I could turn that idea into a 3-part blockbuster movie.) Maybe déjà vu is a momentary glitch of clarity in which we’ve remembered that this “movie” was filmed and “in the can” long ago.

Well, this is just an unproven and unprovable theory, but it is evidence that I do sometimes like to unleash my mind and see where it will wander. Ya can’t say I ain’t got no imagination.

And in bringing it all back home to the topic of Bob Dylan’s conversion to Christianity: perhaps when Dylan was referring to the “holy slow train” in the liner notes of his 1965 album “Highway 61 Revisited” [see Part 2 in this series], in actuality he was unconsciously REMEMBERING that thirteen years in the future he would accept Jesus Christ as his Savior and the following year he would release his first album of Christian music titled “Slow Train Coming”. Just a thought.

Don’t shoot me, I’m just the blogger.


Below are a few videos and links to websites pertaining to Bob Dylan’s conversion to Christianity in the late 1970s.

This first one is quite interesting. Dylan just recently turned 70 years old, and yet he continues touring the world and playing concerts almost nonstop. Some have wondered why a man his age would continue putting himself through the rigors of touring. It seems that Dylan looks upon it as holding up his part of a deal or vow that he made long ago.

The nitwitism of some of my fellow beings often astounds me. Google this interview excerpt and you will find multiple postings of it on the Internet and in the Blogosphere, with most of the posters referring to it as an admission on Dylan’s part that he made a deal with the devil to achieve the success he has.

Well, if you ask me, it sounds a whole lot more like a kind of “Prayer Of Jabez” situation. Regardless of what one thinks of the ‘Prayer Of Jabez’ phenomenon (and understand I am not suggesting that Bob Dylan has ever been involved with it) that situation is a far cry from one selling his soul to the devil for earthly success!

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
~ Saint John
1st John 4:15

…[N]o one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.
~ Saint Paul
1st Corinthians 12:3

When they came for Him in the garden, did they know?
Did they know He was the Son of God, did they know that He was Lord?
Did they hear when He told Peter, “Peter, put up your sword”?
When they came for Him in the garden, did they know?
~ Bob Dylan
from his song “In The Garden”

Jesus did appear to me as King of Kings, and Lord of Lords…
~ Bob Dylan

I'm telling you now Jesus is coming back, and He is! And there is no other way of salvation... Jesus is coming back to set up His kingdom in Jerusalem for a thousand years.
~ Bob Dylan

Years ago they … said I was a prophet. I used to say, “No, I’m not a prophet”, they say, “Yes, you are, you’re a prophet.” I said, “No, it’s not me.” They used to say, “You sure are a prophet.” They used to convince me I was a prophet. Now I come out and say Jesus Christ is the answer. They say, “Bob Dylan’s no prophet.” They just can’t handle it.
~ Bob Dylan

I was blinded by the devil
Born already ruined
Stone-cold dead
As I stepped out of the womb
By His grace I have been touched
By His word I have been healed
By His hand I’ve been delivered
By His spirit I’ve been sealed
I’ve been saved
By the blood of the Lamb
~ Bob Dylan
from his song “Saved”

Yeah, that really sounds like a guy who sold his soul to the devil and is now trying to uphold his end of the bargain. Sheeeeeeeesh! As my Pa used to say: “Where do they come from?!”

Inside Bob Dylan’s Jesus Years: Busy Being Born… Again!

This bloke, Winston Watson, seems like a really likeable man, and I found this DVD about his years touring with Bob Dylan to be extremely informative. I recommend it to anyone with a more than superficial interest in Bob Dylan's story:

Bob Dylan Never Ending Tour Diaries: Drummer Winston Watson’s Incredible Journey

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Fate: …3. that which is inevitably predetermined; destiny: Death is our ineluctable fate. 4. a prophetic declaration of what must be: The oracle pronounced their fate.
~ Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary

Do we have free will? Or is everything foreordained by God? How can a God know our every decision in advance unless our decisions were Divinely preprogrammed? But how then could there be free will?

Or . . . is there another possibility?

There are a number of people who idolize the singer Bob Dylan (Robert Allen Zimmerman) to such a degree that they are sometimes referred to as “Dylanologists”. These people analyze every lyric Dylan ever wrote, they read all the books about him, they contemplate his every burp, and they pretty much go through life asking, “What Would Dylan Do?”

That’s not me. I ain’t no Dylanologist, even though I admit to having a strange fascination with the man entirely because of his extraordinary songwriting talent and because, as I’ve often said, his music pretty much taught me how to think creatively.

In very early 1993, I got the idea to write some kind of a poem-like thing. I wanted to write a free-form, non-rhyming poem in which the title was considerably longer than the poem itself. I’m certainly not saying that the end result was good but I believe it was an original idea, and one I doubt seriously I would have ever imagined had I not learned to open up my mind to unique creative ideas as a result of listening to songs like “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream” many years earlier.

The title of my poem-thing was:


And the poem itself went like this:

Life looks interesting
Passing by my window day and night
I’d join in
But it might be cold outside

Did that seem nonsensical? Actually, it really had a message to convey – regardless of whether or not it was conveyed effectively.

The “Circus” in the title is meant to represent life itself, and the subject of the poem is our reluctance to fully live life because we fear the pain we might experience while living “xtremely”. We fear spending our funds (i.e., investing our energy and taking chances) on a Circus (i.e., a life) that might ultimately hurt or disappoint us. So we just stay indoors and watch others live their lives while they pass by our "window", or across our TV screens, or in the pages of the books we read.

Not great poetry, obviously, but I did have something to say and believe I found a creative way of saying it, thanks in part to the music of Bob Dylan.

I don’t believe I would like Dylan on a personal level, but from time to time I do think about him and what he’s written. And I have thought about his conversion to Christianity in 1978. I think I may have an orginal idea about Dylan’s religious experience and if you’ll hang in here with me, you may find it raises some intriguing questions . . .

Here’s a bit of background info borrowed from the “Slow Train Coming” Wikipedia page:

Dylan was in good spirits, according to his own account. "I was doing fine. I had come a long way in just the year we were on the road [in 1978]." This would change on November 17th in San Diego, California. As Clinton Heylin reports, "the show itself was proving to be very physically demanding, but then, he perhaps reasoned, he'd played a gig in Montreal a month earlier with a temperature of 105."

"Towards the end of the show someone out in the crowd...knew I wasn't feeling too well," recalled Dylan in a 1979 interview. "I think they could see that. And they threw a silver cross on the stage. Now usually I don't pick things up in front of the stage. Once in a while I do. Sometimes I don't. But I looked down at that cross. I said, 'I gotta pick that up.' So I picked up the cross and I put it in my pocket...And I brought it backstage and I brought it with me to the next town, which was out in Arizona...I was feeling even worse than I'd felt when I was in San Diego. I said, 'Well, I need something tonight.' I didn't know what it was. I was used to all kinds of things. I said, 'I need something tonight that I didn't have before.' And I looked in my pocket and I had this cross."

Dylan believed he had experienced a vision of Christ in his Tucson hotel room. "Jesus did appear to me as King of Kings, and Lord of Lords," he'd later say. "There was a presence in the room that couldn't have been anybody but Jesus...Jesus put his hand on me. It was a physical thing. I felt it. I felt it all over me. I felt my whole body tremble. The glory of the Lord knocked me down and picked me up."
. . .

"[Dylan's] conversion wasn't one of those things that happens when an alcoholic goes to Alcoholics Anonymous," David Mansfield, one of Dylan's band members and fellow-born-again Christian, would later say. "The simplest explanation is that he had a very profound experience which answered certain lifelong issues for him."

In 1965, on the heels of his “Bringing It All Back Home” album release, but prior to the recording of the “Highway 61 Revisited” album – which was released later that same year – Bob Dylan played a series of late April/early May concerts in England. That tour was famously preserved in the legendary D.A. Pennebaker film “Don’t Look Back”.

There is one portion of that documentary that I find exceedingly intriguing: Dylan is being interviewd by a throng of journalists. At one point, a young female carries on a brief, whispered, semi-secret conversation with Bob Dylan. In the DVD set’s accompanying booklet she is referred to simply as “Girl Reporter”, but to be more specific, she was in fact Maureen Cleave of the ‘London Evening Standard’.

Here’s what was said in 1965, followed by a video showing the actual exchange:

Girl Reporter: [Leans over and whispers to Dylan.] “Do you ever read the Bible?”
Bob Dylan: “What about the Bible?”

Girl Reporter: “Do you ever read the Bible?”
Bob Dylan: “Um . . .  no.”

Girl Reporter: “Have you read it?”
Bob Dylan: “Have I ever? I’ve glanced through it…”

Girl Reporter: “Because you see, a lot of the things you say…”
Bob Dylan: “I’ve glanced through it. I haven’t read it.”

And that’s how the conversation ended because Dylan seemed uneager to follow that line of questioning and he turned his attention to other matters in the room.

Here’s the video of that exchange:

Remember now, this was prior to the recording of songs like “Highway 61 Revisited” which begins with the lines, “Oh God said to Abraham, ‘Kill me a son’. Abe says, ‘Man, you must be puttin’ me on’” and other songs with clear Biblical references. It was also 13 years prior to Dylan’s conversion to Christianity.

Granted there were allusions to The Bible in earlier songs, such as “Gates Of Eden” etc., but in my opinion, it was fairly perceptive of “Girl Reporter” Maureen Cleave to have discerned the religious thread that could be found woven into many of Dylan’s earliest songs. And it also begs the question, did she somehow instinctively suspect that times they were a-changin’ for Bob Dylan in some sort of spiritual sense?

And now we’ve arrived at my original observation. Well, I seriously doubt it’s too original; some of the Dylanologists must have noticed this before, but I have never seen or heard it mentioned anywhere:

In 1978, Bob Dylan had his religious experience and converted to Christianity. The following year he released his first album of Christian music titled “SLOW TRAIN COMING”. I believe it’s almost a given that the train symbol is meant to express the idea that the “Second Coming” of Jesus Christ is just up around the bend. And Christ may be coming “slowly”, but He’s also coming with the unstoppable force and power of a train. It may have also been a reference to the “Gospel train” in the traditional spiritual “If I Got My Ticket”.

But awhile back I was reading through the liner notes that Dylan wrote for his 1965 album “Highway 61 Revisited”. The notes are just some crazy, seemingly nonsensical story and I think a person would have to be flying on the magic peyote carpet of many colors to make heads or tails out of it. However, something he referred to three different times in those liner notes (3 = Father, Son & Holy Spirit?) really knocked me on the noggin. Remember now, this was 1965 – 13 years before Dylan’s Christian conversion and the release of the “Slow Train Coming” album!

The story begins like this:
“On the slow train time does not interfere…

Not long later we encounter this:
“…she points to the slow train & prays for rain and for time to interfere -”

And toward the end we encounter this:
“the songs on this specific record are not so much songs but rather exercises in tonal breath control… the subject matter – tho meaningless as it is – has something to do with the beautiful strangers… the beautiful strangers, Vivaldi’s green jacket & the holy slow train”.

“The holy slow train”? What was Dylan referring to in '65? Did he himself even know? When he recorded his first Christian album 13 years later, “Slow Train Coming”, did he even remember his reference to a “holy slow train” in his “Highway 61 Revisited” album liner notes? It seems to me that something hard to explain was at work throughout Dylan’s professional life. I sense that perhaps there was something more than meets the eye - something occurring behind the scenes - in all of this.

Was Bob Dylan’s conversion to Christianity merely a simple twist of fate? Did he really have a choice? Was it decreed by God that Dylan embrace God’s Son even before Robert Allen Zimmerman was born in Duluth, Minnesota on May 24, 1941?

In the final installment of this series, I will take a brief look at Biblical prophecy and propose a theory I developed years ago which might explain how it is possible for all of us to have absolute free will while it’s simultaneously possible for God to know in advance very precisely every decision we will make.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


On Saturday morning, I hung my P.O.W./M.I.A. flag from the house in honor of Memorial Day, and then brother Napoleon, DiscConnected and I left for Oatman, Airheadzona, and Laughlin, Nevada – the latter being a gambling resort area directly across the Colorado River from Bullhead City. Surely you’ve heard of Bullhead City!

Originally, we were supposed to be accompanied by some friends from L.A. – Pooh and Cranium – but they were No Call/No Shows, so they’re fired. But we went without ‘em; that’ll learn ‘em!

On the road, we listened to Free, Van Morrison, and Tom Petty.

About an hour out of Phoenix, our conversation, as it often does, turned to cooking poetry musicals sports. The three of us analyzed like experts the rise and fall of Mike Tyson. We discussed the shocking 1990 upset, when the fearless Buster Douglas – who was determined by most boxing analysts to have a less than zero chance of beating the undefeated Tyson – knocked out the champion in the 10th round.

I mentioned how Tyson was so discombobulated after being knocked to the canvas that rather than trying to get up as soon as possible, he fumbled around with his mouth guard. As I said, “Uh…Hellooo! Getting that mouth guard back in wasn’t exactly priority number one at the moment.”

This became one of our earliest developed themes: At some point, everybody takes their turn in life, crawling across the canvas on all fours and fumbling with their mouth guard; life knocks everybody out sooner or later.

We got to Oatman just as soon as we got there. Oatman is an old gold-mining camp now famously known for the wild burros that wander the roads and sometimes tie up traffic by standing in the middle of the main street in town.

[A jackass petting a jackass.]

[Jackass ass.]

[Gold nuggets can be found just lying in the Oatman streets. Mining-made-easy!]

I was glad we made the trip to Oatman, having never been there before, but I was slightly disappointed. Except for a single bar, a post office, and some houses on the hillsides, the town is just one gift shop after another – each one nearly identical to its neighbors on either side.

DiscConnected bought a stiletto from a "Wicker Man", and Nappy and I kicked ourselves for the duration of the trip because we had not thought to take a picture of the "Wicker Man". Nappy felt the entire town was full of Wicker Men and Women.

We did stop in for a beer at the only bar in town – a dreary, bland place that is in serious need of competition. Jimmy the bartender had all the personality of a bleached burlap sack coated in curdled lowfat milk. At one point a man and woman entered and sat at the end of the bar and Jimmy said, “Hey, what are you two doing in town?” The man replied, “We came up here to see you.” I immediately turned to Nappy and said, “Can you even imagine how boring it must be where those two people live?”

We dinked around in town for maybe an hour and then headed for Laughlin, Nevada.

As soon as we had checked into our rooms at the Pioneer Hotel & Gambling Hall, we took the boat up to The Edgewater Hotel & Casino to hit the all-youz-can-eat dinner “buff-it”, where we discussed amongst ourselves how bad Phoenix drivers are.

Afterwards, we played a little video poker at the bar and “took the edge off”. I ordered a martini but didn’t enjoy it. In fact, I haven’t really enjoyed the last 3 or 4 martinis I have had. I fear I may be losing my taste for them. Please pray for me!

[Taking off the edge at The Edgewater. Martini to the left of me, losing poker hand to the right...]

Nappy and DiscConnected had strawberry daiquiris, and recalling that passage from my book manuscript ‘The League Of Soul Crusaders’, I felt jealous and was determined to get a daiquiri before I died:

The rest of that day we spent lying under palm trees on the knoll near the outdoor bar and we had the waitress bring us a steady flow of daiquiris. A stranger and his wife passed by and he stopped when he saw us. “You know, I haven’t seen you guys without a drink in your hands for three days”, he said. This was the first time we had noticed the gentleman, but apparently we had made our presence known on Santa Catalina Island.
~ ‘The League Of Soul Crusaders’
Chapter 16 – ‘Twenty-Six Miles Across The Sea’ [1982]

While at the Edgewater bar, DiscConnected was attempting to argue that sometimes “liberalism” is acceptable. I put my foot down: “NO! No Liberalism, EVER!”
“But let’s suppose you have a woman,” DiscDude insisted, “You would want her to ‘put out’ liberally but to spend your money conservatively. Right?”
“OK, you win”, I conceded. “Sign me up”.

I got my chance to order a daiquiri when we wandered down to the Colorado Belle and sat on her “deck” watching and listening to a covers band play. The frozen drink concoction machine there didn’t churn out strawberry, so I was forced to drink a peach dakuhree from a guitar-shaped cup. It’s bad enough I drank a peach dakuhree - damned if I’m gonna spell it correctly too! In fact, I wasn’t even going to mention the peach dakuhree at all, but DiscConnected threatened to “out” me on his blog, so I figured it was just better to come clean about it myself and beg your forgiveness, confessing my sin and acknowledging that my reputation has been left in tatters.

The frontman for the band had a good personality and he knew how to entertain an audience. Musically, the band was all over the map but most of it could be categorized as '1970s Top 40'. They covered ‘Sweet Home Alabama’, ‘Southern Man’ (apparently apologizing to Neil Young for having covered ‘Sweet Home Alabama’), and they sang that song about the man who was “meaner than a junkyard dog”.

The entire time, I was trying to think of who the lead singer (in the red shirt) looked like. He was a slightly heavier version of… hmmm… someone, that’s for sure.

Long about the time they played ‘Only The Good Die Young’ or that Jimmy Buffett hit ‘Daiquiriaville’, I’d figured it out. Bobby Darin! The singer looked like Bobby Darin. So I actually laughed out loud when a song or two later the bloke sang ‘Mack The Knife’. And he sang it very well, too!

I asked DiscDude, “Doesn’t the singer look a bit like Bobby Darin?”
Disc replied, “I don’t really know what Bobby Darin looked like. I only know about him from the Kevin Spacey movie”.
So, I said, “Well then, doesn’t the singer look a bit like Kevin Spacey?”
Disc said “No”, but he was as wrong as I was about “Liberalism”.

After the set, I spoke with the singer and he told me that not only does he love Bobby Darin’s stuffs, but people have often told him he looks like Darin. See? It wasn’t just me!

Disc was going to ride the boat on the Colorado River and Nappy and I agreed to meet him 30 minutes later at the Pioneer Hotel boat dock. When Discman never turned up at the Pioneer boat dock, I began wondering what had happened to him. That’s when I suddenly realized that Nappy and I were waiting at the Golden Nugget boat dock. Uhp! We’re idiots!

[A photo I took near the Golden Nugget dock while waiting for DiscDude to arrive at the Pioneer dock.]

In the Pioneer Gambling Hall, Nappy, Disc and I bellied up to a watering hole called ‘The Watering Hole’ where we played some more video poker. Nappy and I had margaritas while Disc slugged down pina coladas like a geriatric guzzles Geritol. He was making Nappy and me look like pikers, and here we’re the ones with booze hound reputations! (DiscDude also did all the driving on the trip. What a vacation animal!)

Rather than have a second margarita, I changed jackasses in midstream and ordered a Black Label and soda in honor of my friend Anniee.

Pretty burned out now (but, dagnab-it, none of us intoxicated - don'tcha hate it when that doesn't happen?) we retired to our rooms. The room Nappy and I shared was a smoker’s room because it’s all they had left. Neither of us smoke, but as I said, “Heck, for only twenty-five dollars a night, I’ll gladly sniff all the smoke odor right out of the curtains and the carpeting”. Fortunately, however, the room did not smell of smoke at all.

Nappy had forgotten to pack his toothbrush and asked me if I had a spare. I did.

At 5:00 AM the alarm on Nappy’s cell phone went off - he had forgotten to disable it, the jackass! It awakened me right out of a dream I was having in which Will Rogers was dispensing to a mass of people pastrami sandwiches and vanilla ice cream with blueberry topping, but he was being very “un-liberal” with the blueberry topping. (Go ahead and analyze that dream for me. I’ll wait.)

Dang that brother Nappy! I was unable to get back to sleep after the 5 AM wake-up call that I sure as hell had not requested! So I was pretty exhausted all of Monday (and still haven’t fully recovered yet).

At 8 AM, after having showered, Nappy tells me he failed to pack a decent t-shirt and wants to know if I have a spare. Being one of those rare guys who, as much as 52% of the time, doesn’t have his head up his... uh... place where the sun don’t shine, I did happen to bring a spare shirt. But before loaning it to Nappy, I seized upon the golden opportunity to use those great lines from the movie ‘The Deer Hunter’. I said:

“First it’s a toothbrush, now it’s a t-shirt. This is this! This ain't something else. This is this! From now on, Nappy, you're on your own.”

Click link below for the FULL "must-see" scene . . .

We met up with Discman at the car; I stowed my stuffs (minus my money, which I had donated to the "Save The Casinos" fund the night before) and then had an all-you-can-eat (although we couldn’t eat that much) breakfast “buff-it” at the Pioneer before heading across the Colorado River to Bullhead City, Airheadzona – where the driving skills and general intelligence noticeably diminished immediately. ;o)

We stopped long enough for me to take a couple pictures of my traveling companion, Muddy, sitting on the dock of the b-- Bullhead City.

[Muddy on the Bullhead City, Arizona side with Laughlin, Nevada, across the Colorado in the background.]

[Muddy couldn't eat another bite: he's stuffed.]

Then we hit the Hastings Entertainment store (I call ‘em “Hastinks”), where DiscConnected connected with a couple Muddy Waters discs and I bought Herb Alpert And The Tijuana Brass classic ‘Whipped Cream & Other Delights’, containing the gorgeous instrumental ‘Tangerine’. I showed it to Brother Nappy and he said, “When I was a little kid, that album cover... did things... to me.”
I replied, “Yeah, you and about six million other little boys... including me."

On the way home, we listend to Albert King, Booker T., and ‘The Best Of Bill Cosby’.

About 20 minutes outside of Phoenix, in a desolate area, the “Check Engine” light lit up on the dashboard of DiscDude’s car. So we pulled off the side of the road, popped open the hood and checked to see if the engine was still there. It was, so we drove on home.

And that’s how I spent my Memorial Day weekend. What did you do with yourn?

Incidentally, if you’re one of this blog's more well-read “Followers”, then you undoubtedly realized that the second part of this blog bit’s title - ‘Life On The Colorado’ – was a reference to the Colorado River, and the whole thing was actually a nod to the famous Mark Twain book ‘Life On The Mississippi’.

If you hadn't already caught that before I ‘splained it to ya, then yer just plain ign’ant as all get-out.

[Uh... Sorry for that crack about you bein’ ign’ant. Sometimes my evil alter ego escapes and wreaks havoc until I am able to coax it back in with promises of whipped cream and
dirty women.]

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.