Welcome to the sixth week of my series exploring Judeo-Christian themes in the songs from the album Oceania by Smashing Pumpkins. After six weeks of digging in, we’re still discovering some fascinating connections between Billy Corgan’s lyrics and concepts in the Bible.
This week’s song, “One Diamond, One Heart” stands in direct contract musically from the track before it, “My Love Is Winter.” Instead of the driving rock of the latter track – and all the other previous cuts on the album, really – in “One Diamond, One Heart” Corgan backs himself with synthesizers, and the song carries more of a pop feel than the others.
Also, in contrast to the heartbreak and despair of earlier tracks, “One Diamond, One Heart” takes a different tone – Corgan sings of a rare love, one that does not fail:
I’m not here to hold your hand
I’m just here to understand
If you’re feeling low I can help
I’m always on your side
Forever near your light
I’m always on your side
However you must fight
Within your darkest night
I’m always on your side
They won’t rush you from me
‘Cause here I’ll always be
I’m always on your side
Forever near your light
The concept of unfailing love often seems like a pipe dream or fairy tale. We might associate this idea with that of a parent’s love, or even a couple who have been married for a long time. But the truth of the matter is that the God of the Bible is the only One whose love absolutely does not fail.
Less than two months before his death from lung cancer, Walt Disney wrapped production on a short film detailing his plans for the 27,443 acres his company had purchased in Central Florida. He shared his grand vision for what his inner circle called the “Florida Project.” With writing help from Marty Sklar, Walt explained his ideas for more than just a theme park:
Right now our plans include an airport of the future (down here in Osceola County), an entrance complex where all visitors will enter Disney World, an industrial park area covering about 1000 acres, and of course, the theme park area way up here. And all these varied activities around the Disney World will be tied together with a high-speed rapid transit system running almost the full length of the property.
But the most exciting, by far the most important part of our Florida project—in fact, the heart of everything well be doing in Disney World—will be our experimental prototype city of tomorrow. We call it EPCOT, spelled E-P-C-O-T: Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. Here it is in larger scale.
EPCOT will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing, and testing, and demonstrating new materials and new systems. And EPCOT will always be a showcase to the world of the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise.
The futuristic city included a domed urban area with climate control for shoppers and hotel guests, along with transportation throughout the city via People Mover and Monorail. Residents of EPCOT (or Progess City, as some came to call it) would always have the latest technology at their fingertips. It was a bold dream, for sure, and some believed it would die with Walt.
If you watch the November 24 telecast in which legendary comedienne and actress Carol Burnett receives the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, chances are you’ll see a roster of notable entertainers onstage to honor her, but you probably won’t recognize one woman on the program. Burnett specifically requested that voiceover artist Rosemary Watson appear at the ceremony. Why would someone of Burnett’s stature think of a young relative unknown like Watson? It’s because Burnett has publicly expressed her gratefulness for the breaks she has received in her career, and she has chosen to pay it forward.
Watson tells the story as only she can:
I was driving along, five-year old in tow, and my cell phone rang. The number said, ‘BLOCKED’. I picked it up (admittedly without a headset on) thinking it was my son’s father and I’d quickly hand the phone to my boy in the back seat. It was not his dad. I put the phone on speaker and the familiar voice said, “Hello Rosemary? This is Carol Burnett.”
The world went into slow motion. (And this, children, is why you should never talk on your cell phone and drive!! Your idol might call you and you could freak out.)
But the weird part is, I knew why she was calling and, I was expecting it even though I was unprepared. A week or so earlier I had written a letter to Ms. Burnett at 2 am. I was unable to sleep that night and I started thinking about my life and how I had come to be doing mostly voiceovers for a living (albeit a rocky one). I thought about my childhood and the years I spent mimicking Carol Burnett and her vast characters.
She graciously pretended that I wasn’t acting like a moron and said, “I got your letter, and I just went to your website.” I began trying to suck air from the atmosphere. I told her I needed to pull-over. She felt badly….”Oh, you’re driving”. “No it’s okay.” I pulled into the strip mall. She continued to talk about my videos and singing and I think she said the words “you’re” and “amazing” or “terrific” together? I don’t quite remember but let’s just say adjectives were used and they sounded pretty good.
We Southerners have earned a reputation as great storytellers – and rightly so. From the earliest days of the region, Southerners have held readers and listeners spellbound. The stories can be true – witness the real-life yarns spun by the late Lewis Grizzard, or listen to Jeanne Robertson tell a hilarious tale about an event that really happened – but the most compelling Southern stories stem from fictional accounts. From Joel Chandler Harris to Mark Twain to Flannery O’Connor to Cormac McCarthy, Southern fiction carries on this great storytelling tradition from generation to generation.
Southern writers have produced memorable novels over the years, many of which have turned into genuine classics. Novels like William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, and Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind have struck chords with readers all over the world, and readers and critics alike acknowledge them as great works of literature.
Yet for every classic Southern novel dozens fly under the radar. They don’t get the notice that the famous books get – in fact, they don’t receive the accolades they deserve. Here are three of those hidden novels. Enjoy!
Welcome to Week 5 of my exploration of Judeo-Christian ideas in the Smashing Pumpkin’ album Oceania. It’s hard to believe we’re already up to Track 5: “My Love Is Winter.”
You can probably guess the tone of the song from its title. For centuries, writers have used the winter season as a metaphor for despair and gloom, and it’s no wonder – short cold days, long colder nights, treeless landscapes. So chances are a song with winter in its title isn’t going to bring much warmth and happiness.
“My Love Is Winter” fits the winter metaphor nicely, at least in places. A minor key melody, combined with cold, detached synthesizer riffs set a certain tone throughout. The lyrics detail a relationship that seems to have dried up like the leaves on the trees:
Sides grow dimmer
I waste the hour
My love is winter
My love is lost
Let’s pass and wither
From the cold that saws me flat
My love is winter
My love is lost
However, the lyrics of the chorus take a turn for the better, suggesting that love isn’t really lost:
There is love enough for the both of us
There is more than prayers made to be with you
The refrain repeats several times at the end, closing the song on a more hopeful (though still minor-key) note:
There is love enough for the both of us
There is love enough
There is love
There is love enough for the both of us
There is love enough
There is love
Our family loves vacationing at Walt Disney World in the fall. The weather’s perfect, the crowds aren’t as bad as in the summer, and Disney creates some unique experiences this time of year. Last week, I wrote about Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party – more specifically, about the crazy adult costumes you see there. While the Halloween Party takes place at the Magic Kingdom, another event at Epcot provides a different kind of delight for a more grown up crowd. The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival offers guests a worldwide experience of unusual flavors and native dishes.
This year’s festival, which runs from September 27-November 11, includes 30 pavilions featuring carefully chosen dishes from across the globe as well as booths for local specialties and items for those with special dietary needs. Each week the festival hosts celebrity chefs and winemakers in addition to once-in-a-lifetime culinary experiences. Many of the dishes in the pavilions are tapas-sized portions at reasonable prices.
This event has made its home at Epcot for 18 years now, and this year Scotland became the newest addition to the festival. Some of the booths offered tantalizing choices, including:
Australia, Introduced: 1997
- Garlic Shrimp with Roasted Tomatoes, Lemon Myrtle and Rapini - $4.50
- Pavlova (Crispy Meringue Shell with Fresh Driscoll’s® Berries and Vanilla Custard) - $3.25
Brazil, Introduced: 1996
- Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans, Onions, Avocado and Cilantro - $5.25
Florida Local, Introduced: 2012
- Florida Grass Fed Beef Slider with Monterey Jack and Sweet & Hot Pickles - $3.75
- Florida Orange Groves, Key Lime Wine – $2.75
Hawai’i, Introduced: 2011
- Kālua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole® Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise - $3.50
Mexico, Introduced: 1996
- Shrimp Taco with Purple Cabbage - $5.50
- Taco de Ribeye with Salsa de Chipotle - $5.50
Singapore, Introduced: 2005
- Lemongrass Chicken Curry with Coconut and Jasmine Rice - $4.25
Welcome back to our series on Judeo-Christian themes and values in the Smashing Pumpkins’ 2012 album Oceania. If you haven’t been following this series, here’s a quick recap, along with links to the prior posts. We’ve looked at the concept of the seeker of God in “Panopticon,” at the Sacred Name of God in “Quasar,” and at the idea of sharing wisdom in “The Celestials” (and of course I was on vacation last week).
This week, we’re checking out track 4, “Violet Rays.” This track doesn’t rock as much as the prior songs — in fact, it’s downright subdued by comparison. Over a 6/8 time signature and a haunting beat, Corgan sings from the point of view of a lover with a wandering eye and heart.
Pulling up your oars
From rivers I have crossed
In magic no heart’s lost
And I’ll leave with anyone this night
And I’ll kiss anyone tonight
Am I the only one you see?
Raised from the path of revelry
Spells fall frail
Webs catching sail
In eternal eternities
Divine purpose catching free
And I’ll leave with anyone this night
And I’ll kiss anyone tonight
Clearly, this person is looking to cheat or has cheated — or both. I’ve read suggestions that Corgan wrote this song about a girlfriend who cheated on him, but he has apparently refused to confirm or deny.
Interestingly enough, the Bible employs the metaphor of the unfaithful lover to describe God’s people — particularly the nation of Israel — as they wander and stray from Him.
In Deuteronomy 30, as the Israelites are on the verge of taking the Promised Land, God warns the nation of the consequences of both faithfulness and unfaithfuness to Him:
15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
Imagine a lush, verdant island paradise where the inhabitants are friendly, the scenery is breathtaking, and you won’t find another tourist for miles. No smoke monsters. No need to befriend a volleyball. You may be thinking of Tristan da Cunha.
The South Atlantic island of Tristan da Cunha may sound like an idyllic getaway, but traveling to the British territory is a bit of a trick – its nearest neighbor, the island of St. Helena, lies a staggering 1,501 miles away, making Tristan the world’s most remote inhabited island.
“To get here, you would have to get a flight to Cape Town and reserve a berth on either the fishing ship or the research vessel that comes once a year,” says Ian Lavarello, chief islander. “The trip takes between six or seven days and that’s also weather-dependent. In the winter months it could take nine, ten days to get to the island from Cape Town.”
The territory has a fascinating history that dates back to the 16th century.
The four islands that make up the tiny nation – Tristan, Inaccessible, Gough and Nightingale – were discovered and named by Portuguese admiral Admiral Tristao da Cunha in 1506. No one attempted to colonize the rocky outcrop until more than 300 years later, when Napoleon was exiled to nearby St. Helena. Realizing the island’s strategic position, the British military quickly took possession of Tristan in 1816. A young Scottish Corporal and his family were stationed on the island and several other men of various nationalities landed there by happenstance.
As the story goes, when Tristan found itself with five lonely bachelors by 1827, the islanders commissioned a regular visitor of Tristan to bring back five suitable women from St. Helena. By 1832, the population had grown to 34, with six happy couples and 22 children.
If you’re a regular reader of my posts here (bless your heart), you know that I spent last week, along with three generations of my family, at Walt Disney World. We make a pilgrimage about once a year, and most of our last few trips have taken place on our local school system’s fall break. Going this time of year has afforded us the chance to go to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
For the uninitiated, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is a special event at the Magic Kingdom that requires a separate ticket. Cast members usher non-party guests out of the park at 7:00, and the fun begins – including special parades and fireworks, trick-or-treating for everyone, and, most importantly, shorter lines for attractions.
Sunday afternoon, we set off for the Magic Kingdom, with my nieces dolled up in their costumes. My sister and brother-in-law put their girls in cute, late summer dresses inspired by Minnie Mouse and Snow White – not the actual replicas, mind you, but stylized dresses – while my brother and sister-in-law dressed their daughter as a hula girl. It didn’t take long for us to find out that those costumes were mere child’s play compared to some of the adults we saw.
Before I go any further, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve never really been a costume kind of guy, and Halloween was never a big deal for us growing up. I grew up in a rural area, and few of our neighbors bothered with candy, so we just didn’t make a big deal of the whole costume and trick-or-treat thing. Besides, at Walt Disney World, I’m all about comfort. At the party, I wore a Haunted Mansion themed T-shirt that netted me quite a few compliments, thank you very much. But enough about me.
The study by students at Connecticut College found that when the rats ate Oreos they formed an equally strong association with the cookies as when other rats were injected with cocaine or morphine.
Additionally, researchers found eating the cookies activated even more neurons in the rats’ brain “pleasure centers” than the addictive drugs.
The students hope to springboard off this research to help discover why people have difficulty resisting foods that they know are harmful.
“Our research supports the theory that high-fat/ high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do,” Neuroscience Professor Joseph Schroeder said in a school press release. “It may explain why some people can’t resist these foods despite the fact that they know they are bad for them.”
“Even though we associate significant health hazards in taking drugs like cocaine and morphine, high-fat/ high-sugar foods may present even more of a danger because of their accessibility and affordability,” [researcher] Jamie Honohun said.
The researchers were unable to determine if the cookie or the cream were more responsible for the stimulative effects of Oreos, they did learn something fascinating.
On a lighter note, Honohun says they also got a surprise when watching the rats eat the Oreos.
“They would break it open and eat the middle first,” she said.
Yes, There Are Judeo-Christian Themes in the Smashing Pumpkins’ Oceania, Part 3: The Dispenser of Wisdom
Welcome to the third installment in my series examining Judeo-Christian values and ideas in the Smashing Pumpkins’ album Oceania. Last week, I delved into the album’s opening track, “Quasar” and Billy Corgan’s use of the abbreviation of the sacred Hebrew name of God.
This week I’m looking at the third track, “The Celestials,” and I have to admit that I had a difficult time understanding the song – much less finding some meaning in it – until I searched the lyrics and found a comment on one of those lyric sites. The commenter wrote:
Billy Corgan, in the interview “From Mellon Collie to Oceania” with Matt Pinfield, said…that this song is almost as if the same guy that was singing on Mellon Collie, is singing to a kid from today with the experience he has, almost sort of warning him of what to do.
Then it hit me. I imagined Corgan today, singing these lyrics to a young, idealistic rocker, set on wearing the Zero t-shirt and singing lyrics about being a “rat in a cage.” Or perhaps he is speaking as a father to his child. In this light, he is imparting wisdom and sharing experience in small nuggets, almost like fortune cookies – or proverbs.
Endlessly they’ll set you free
Give you reason to believe
Never let the summer catch you down
Never let your thoughts run free
Even when their numbers draw you out
Everything I want is free
‘Til the end
Take a chance if you should go
Face upon your happy home…
You were always on your own
You can’t escape
Never let the summer catch you down
Never let your thoughts run free
Even while their numbers call you out
One question has plagued the modern church over the past few years: how to appeal to men, particularly to fathers?Churches across North America have tried different tactics to lure men into the fold, with varying degrees of success. Men’s events like motorcycle rallies and fish fries often work. Christ’s Church of the Valley in Phoenix once temporarily replaced a planter in their foyer with a motorcycle in an attempt to attract male members. Eastridge Community Church, where I am a member and serve, has brought in various players and coaches from the University of Georgia football team for men’s events.
But should churches consider the impact of their worship music? The women of one church in Canada did, and they enacted changes that increased their male attendance.
Attendance at Strathcona Baptist Church in Edmonton, Alberta was running 60% female. The church’s female elders set a goal to attract 50% male worshippers.
After reading and discussing Why Men Hate Going to Church, these women decided to eliminate the feminine songs and see what would happen. They developed a numeric scale and evaluated each song according to how masculine or feminine it was. For example, the song, “Lord You are More Precious than Silver” scored 8 on the feminine scale, and was excluded.
The elders didn’t eliminate every feminine song – the goal was balance. But any song that scored a 6 or above on the “femininity scale” was dropped.
Without changing anything other than the music, the church’s gender gap quickly evaporated. Men participated more, including a marked increase in the number of men who spoke their praises aloud to God. And overall attendance grew.
Please note – this was not a bunch of angry men demanding change. The effort was initiated and driven by the women of the church.
The success of Strathcona Baptist Church’s efforts brings up a fascinating question: how far should churches go to appeal to more men? Our lead pastor at Eastridge often says, “if you can bring in the man, the family will follow.” But a church should not aim to turn men into pew sitters — rather, the goal should be to mold men into disciples ready to make a difference in their family and community.
So, how far should churches go? What traditions, service elements, or programs should leaders change in order to lead more men into the body of Christ? How drastic of a change is worth the result? And what should churches do once more men begin to attend? Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments section below.
If you don’t know by now how much I love Disney – and Walt Disney World in particular – you haven’t really paid that much attention. Every year or so, three generations of my family make a pilgrimage to Walt Disney World, and next week is this year’s trip.
Since I’ll be gone next week, you won’t see any posts from me while I’m gone. Instead, I’m saving those for when I get back and share some great stuff about this trip.
I’d like to invite you to go with me. No, you don’t have to pack your bag or ask your boss for time off. But you can join me and my family vicariously, and here’s how:
I hope you’ll join me on this trip. We’re going to have a good time, and you just might get a little extra context to go along with my posts when I get back.
Seven weekends a year, they come by the thousand. They arrive from all areas of the country and throughout the world, ready to get up early, put on their shoes, and run. Walt Disney World and Disneyland offer 31 races and challenges – and ten accompanying parties, of course – throughout the year, and the races have developed quite a following. These seven events, five in Florida and two in California, attract hundreds of thousands of runners every year. And they often bring their families along for the trip.
It’s been nearly two decades since the inaugural Walt Disney World Marathon, and Disney figured out quickly that the running culture meant big business. The company has even put together its own brand for runners – runDisney. In a 2012 Orlando Sentinel article, Jason Garcia wrote:
Disney began staging marathons and other distance races as a way to fill its hotels and theme parks during historically slow times on the calendar, and that is still the primary goal. But runDisney has also bloomed into a business in its own right; it organizes more than a half-dozen races a year in Florida and California; hosts industry “expos” in which exhibitors pay as much as $23,000 for a booth; and hawks a long line of merchandise, from training gear to commemorative pins, necklaces and — of course —Mickey Mouse ears.
Disney says runDisney is now one of the three largest race organizers in the United States, both in terms of the number of events and the number of runners, alongside San Diego-based Competitor Group Inc., which stages the “Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series,” and the New York Road Runners club, whose events include the storied New York City Marathon. RunDisney has more than 150,000 followers on Facebook — more “friends” than Disney’s time-share or weddings businesses.
“In most major markets, there are one or two top races a year. We have three, four, five top races a year, right here in Central Florida,” said Ken Potrock, senior vice president of Disney Sports Enterprises. “That’s incredibly unique. And these races are open to anyone, from 4-year-old toddlers to 90-year-old walkers.”
Here we are in Part Two of my series on the Judeo-Christian themes in the Smashing Pumpkins’ 2012 album Oceania. Last week, I looked at the second track, “Panopticon,” the concept of the seeker, and God’s rewards for those who seek Him. This week, I’m backtracking in terms of album order and looking at the opening cut, “Quasar.”
“Quasar” roars right out of the box with a driving beat and charging guitars. It’s a challenging piece of music, shifting tempos and time signatures but always rocking hard. Leader Billy Corgan issues a charge:
God right on!
Krishna right on!
Mark right on!
Yod He Vau He Om
Let’s ride on!
Let’s ride on!
I love the trade off between the phrases “Right on!” and “Ride on!” – but my focus in this post is on the fourth line there. Remove the Dharmic mantra Om from the end of the line and we see a powerful and integral part of both Judaism and Christianity – the name of God.
Yodh He Vav He (יהוה)are the Hebrew letters which make up the Tetragrammaton – the Hebrew abbreviation for the sacred Name of the God of Israel. In Roman letters YHWH make up the Tetragrammaton. The Name of God is so holy in Judaism that observant Jews dare not speak it. Some Christians have pronounced the Tetragrammaton as “Jehovah” or “Yahweh,” but neither are quite right. I found this superb explanation in the Urban Dictionary, of all places:
This codified form was not meant to be pronounced as is, rather it means “think Yahweh, say Adonai”. This was done based on the idea of Rabbinic Judaism that it is better not to say “Yahweh” at all rather than to take a chance on saying it in vain.
The employees of a company with a history as long and illustrious as Disney have plenty of stories to tell. I’ve read dozens of books on Disney history, including biographies of key figures in the company, and I thought I had heard everything. I discovered just how wrong I was when I began reading It’s Kind Of A Cute Story, the memoir of animator and Imagineer Rolly Crump (also available for Kindle for only $4.99).
Roland Fargo Crump was born in in Alhambra, CA in 1930. He began drawing at an early age and soon discovered his artistic talent. Crump’s only formal training consisted of high school art classes and six Saturdays at an art institute, but his dream was to work for Disney. In 1952 that dream came true, though he had to take a severe pay cut and a second job on the weekends. Crump toiled in animation for seven years until a display of his mobiles and propellers went on display at the company’s library, catching Walt Disney’s attention.
Walt moved him to WED – later Imagineering – where Crump worked on the 1964-65 Worlds Fair pavilions and attractions like It’s A Small World, the Haunted Mansion, and the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland. He went on to work on projects at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Epcot. In all, he spent over 40 years at Disney, and after he left Disney, he worked for a number of different theme parks and other clients before retiring.
In It’s Kind Of A Cute Story, Crump tells his story as only he can. His narration is completely first person, and he writes as though he’s telling the stories directly to the reader. He relates each episode of his life and career warts and all – including some profanity and a few off-color stories.
Not long ago, I reported on the abuse of Disney Parks’ disabled guest access policy. Under the policy in place, able bodied guests hired disabled “tour guides” to get them to the front of lines. Disney has reviewed the policy, and they are making changes effective October 9:
Under the change, visitors will be issued tickets with a return time and a shorter wait similar to the FastPass system that’s offered to everyone.
Currently, visitors unable to wait in the regular line can get backdoor access to rides or go through the exit and wait in a shorter line.
The system “certainly has been problematic, and we wanted to curb some of the abuse of this system,” Disneyland Resort spokeswoman Suzi Brown told the Orange County Register.
The move was a response to the phenomenon of disabled “tour guides” who charge money, sometimes hundreds of dollars, to accompany able-bodied guests and allow them to avoid long lines. Others who don’t have a disability have been able to get an assistance card since no proof of disability is required.
“Given the increasing volume of requests we receive for special access to our attractions, we are changing our process to create a more consistent experience for all our guests while providing accommodations for guests with disabilities,” Brown said in a statement.
This news comes as a welcome development to those of us longtime Disney fans who have witnessed such abuses. However, the policy has upset some parents of children with special needs.
Rebecca Goddard said she takes her sons, ages 4 and 6, to Disneyland once a week. They have autism and can’t stand in lines longer than a few minutes before they start pushing other people.
“My boys don’t have the cognition to understand why it’s going to be a long wait,” Goddard told the Register. “There are so few things for my boys that bring them utter joy and happiness — to mess with it just makes me sad.”
Advocacy organizations are taking more of a wait-and-see approach to the change.
The advocacy group Autism Speaks consulted with Walt Disney Co. officials on the change and urged parents to see how it unfolds.
“Change is difficult,” said Matt Asner, executive director of the Southern California chapter. “I didn’t want it to change, but I understand there was an issue that needed to be dealt with.”
I for one am glad to see Disney take steps to combat the abuse. I’ll be at Walt Disney World the week the changes take effect, and I will be watching to see how if affects the daily operations at the parks.
Last week, I wrote about the spiritual journey of Billy Corgan, the lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter for Smashing Pumpkins. His journey has taken him from a nihilistic lack of faith to a spirituality that embraces many faiths – including elements of Christianity. The band’s excellent 2012 album Oceania reflects Corgan’s spiritual state, and Judeo-Christian themes run throughout the songs.
Track 2 of Oceania has an odd title. I’ll admit I had to look up what a panopticon was. Wikipedia explains the concept of a panopticon this way:
The Panopticon is a type of institutional building designed by English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. The concept of the design is to allow a watchman to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) inmates of an institution without their being able to tell whether they are being watched or not…
The design consists of a circular structure with an “inspection house” at its centre, from which the managers or staff of the institution are able to watch the inmates, who are stationed around the perimeter. Bentham conceived the basic plan as being equally applicable to hospitals, schools, sanatoriums, daycares, and asylums, but he devoted most of his efforts to developing a design for a Panopticon prison, and it is his prison which is most widely understood by the term.
In the song, Corgan may not be in a prison, though he speaks of “rest[ing] in the shells I’ve designed.” Rather, I see him as the observer in the tower (perhaps the tower on the album’s cover), looking out into the world around him. And he is seeking – seeking God.
Rise! Love is here
Oh, don’t make me wonder
Life’s never clear where choice is a gift
To use and abuse
To build on proof
Oh don’t make me wonder
To ask on behalf of you
Of you, where are you?
Where are you in you?*
We see warnings of the apocalypse everywhere. Maybe it’s an old man wearing a sandwich board that reads, “THE END IS NEAR.” Or perhaps we hear the yearly news report about some asteroid that just might come too close to earth for comfort. Or possibly we’ve received another message from Harold Camping warning us of Christ’s return. Either way, somebody somewhere wagers a guess as to when the world will end just about every day.
Well, now we need no longer fear, because scientists have now determined the date for the end of the world – and it’s a long way off.
The end of the world is no longer just some far-off notion; the event now has a date. New research shows how much time it will take for the Earth to basically dry up and no longer be able to support human life.
And as long as whatever is on your bucket list won’t take longer than 1.75 billion years, there’s not really anything for this generation or the next couple million generations to worry about.
That’s about how long researchers at the University of East Anglia predict will take the Earth to end up outside of the habitable zone. “These zones are defined by water. In the habitable zone, a planet is just the right distance from its star to have liquid water. Closer to the sun, in the ‘hot zone,’ the Earth’s oceans would evaporate.”
Yes, you read that right. It’s from the University of East Anglia, and those folks got it right about the whole global warming thing, didn’t they? Not only do they have a timeline figured out, they know how it’s going to happen.
The Earth won’t move, but it’s actually the sun we have to keep an eye on (not literally). As it gets older, the star is continuously growing hotter, brighter and bigger at about a 10th of an astronomical unit every billion years.
But if it helps you feel any better, all won’t be lost like that. It will actually be a very slow process as the Earth dries up and completely runs out of water reserves.
But according to the researchers, there’s still the chance our planet won’t make it that far — you know, with all the other likely doomsday scenarios, like a meteor strike, nuclear war, crazed robots, superinfections, aliens, black holes and, of course, zombies.
I can’t help but wonder what the preppers will do with this information. As for me, I’ll just stick with Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:36 that “about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” It’s better not to know than to worry for the next billion years or so.
Last week I shared five underrated experiences at Walt Disney World. I always enjoy sharing what I love about my family’s favorite vacation spot — in fact, I’ve joked about becoming a travel agent specializing in Disney trips. When that post went live, my friend and editor David Swindle issued a challenge. He said, “Now you really have to do the 5 Most Overrated Disney World experiences.”
I thought about past attractions, like the lame 3D film Honey, I Shrunk The Audience at Epcot and its accompanying playground at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Or there’s Dreamflight, Tomorrowland’s late ’80s attempt to update the superb If You Had Wings with a new sponsor. I considered upcoming ideas, like the forthcoming Avatar Land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – wouldn’t a Star Wars Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios make more sense, provide more fun and be more timeless?
After much deliberation, along with some brainstorming with my family, I chose to stick with current attractions. These are all experiences you can take part in currently. Some of them are attractions that have outlived their entertainment value or have become dated, while others represent time better spent doing something else. Regardless of the reason, you’re better off avoiding these experiences — or at least considering them strongly before undertaking them.
When you put together a list of the most influential and interesting bands of the ’90s, you have to put Smashing Pumpkins near the top of the list. The band and its charismatic leader, Billy Corgan, took a flair for the grandiose, a generation’s angst, and Corgan’s distinctive voice and parlayed them into a successful career, selling 25 million albums.
Smashing Pumpkin’s songs spoke to certain members of my generation in ways that no other band could. Lyrics like, “The killer in me is the killer in you,” “In spite of my rage, I’m still just a rat in a cage,” and “We don’t even care” reflected a particular spiritual emptiness in Generation X. Whether fans were drawn to that brand of nihilism (remember the Zero T-shirt?) or, like me, just enjoyed the music, there was no denying the darkness at the core of Corgan’s music.
Corgan admits that he had a definite reason for such darkness – he struggled with depression and often harbored suicidal thoughts during the band’s heyday:
“I think I had to hit rock-bottom to even be open to ask for help,” he says of his state of mind during much of the 1990s.
“There were days, months and years where I just stared out the window and felt miserable…”
Corgan’s music was always hailed for its raw honesty but overt spirituality didn’t seem to be part of his earlier life. In 1993, while their second album, “Siamese Dream,” catapulted The Pumpkins to nationwide popular success, Corgan says he felt suicidal.
Throughout that period, Corgan’s maniacally creative genius helped him suppress the unhappiness and emptiness he felt inside as the world seemed to simultaneously hand him the best and worst of everything. Band members’ drug addictions, messy personal relationships and the pressure of living up to expectations of becoming the new Nirvana locked Corgan into a deep depression while record sales soared.
To say that Paula Deen has had a rough year understates the difficulties she has endured this spring and early summer. I’ve reported extensively on the controversy surrounding her. On May 17, the celebrity chef testified in a deposition for a lawsuit against her that she used the N-word some time in the past. As a result, Food Network refused to renew her contract, and sponsor after sponsor dropped her. Despite the hatred coming her way from many corners, her fans throughout the South rallied around her.
These days, it looks as though things are starting to turn around for her. A new publisher has picked up her upcoming cookbook, and she has begun to pop up here and there. Last month, she appeared on MasterChef (in an episode produced long before the deposition), judging the contestants in a Southern cooking challenge.
Last week, the Houston Chronicle reported on Deen’s appearance at the Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show — her first public appearance since June.
Paula Deen fought back tears Saturday as she was greeted by cheers and a standing ovation from a crowd of about 1,500 during her appearance at the Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show at Reliant Center.
It was Deen’s first public appearance since late June, when news broke that she had used a racial slur.
“These are tears of joy, y’all,” Deen told the audience. “I’ve said all along that the one place I’d want to make my first step back out is Texas. Y’all’s hearts are as big as your state.”
Deen presented two cooking demonstrations and appeared with her two son, who are cooking stars in their own right.
A Walt Disney World vacation offers a ton of truly special experiences — from thrills and chills to charming family attractions. The resort has truly lived up to its reputation as the “Vacation Kingdom of the World.” Every year millions from all over the world travel to central Florida to enjoy popular attractions like It’s A Small World, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Expedition Everest, and Mission: SPACE.
First-time guests — and even a few seasoned guests — often miss out on off-the-beaten-path attractions and little underrated gems throughout Walt Disney World. Sometimes these experiences go unnoticed because they’re older and don’t take advantage of flashy new technology. Others wind up being “best kept secrets” for guests who stay on property. Occasionally, guests just walk by others without even noticing them.
Here I’m presenting a list of my top 5 most underrated experiences at Walt Disney World. They include a couple of Tomorrowland attractions that are retro-fantastic, a quaint getaway from the bustle of Adventureland, an entire resort that guests often overlook, and a special nighttime treat. The common thread between all of them — besides that fact that I think they’re underrated — is that they’ve all been around practically since Walt Disney World opened.
Without further ado, here are the top 5 underrated experiences at Walt Disney World. Enjoy…
5. Carousel of Progress
The Imagineers — going all the way back to Walt Disney’s day — have taken pride in their ability to tell stories in unique ways. One prime example of a quintessential Disney storytelling innovation is the Carousel of Progress.
Walt personally supervised the development of the Carousel of Progress for the 1964-65 World’s Fair. The attraction employs an inventive theater-in-the-round concept and one of the earliest examples of Audio-Animatronics to tell the story of how “industrial advances over the past century have changed everyday living for an American family.” Even the theme song, the Sherman Brothers’ “There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow,” reflects a certain nostalgic exuberance.
Is it corny? Yes. Are the old-school Audio-Animatronics a bit outdated? You bet. Is it worth checking out? Without a doubt. At the very least, the Carousel of Progress is an air-conditioned respite from Florida’s often oppressive heat. But if you’re willing to let its message sink in, you’ll get an infectious glimpse into Walt Disney’s optimistic futurism. Let’s face it — the chance to see the future through Walt’s eyes makes the Carousel of Progress worth the ride.
I grew up in a Christian home, deeply immersed in my faith. We were a churchgoing family – and still are, even though all us kids are grown. Part of my Christian upbringing involved listening to a lot of Christian music. Most of it was derivative, predictable and artistically sub-par, though I recall a few exceptions – artists like Amy Grant bringing themes of everyday life into her music, DC Talk offering up an eclectic take on hip-hop, Third Day tearing up the stage with meaty Southern rock and a heck of a stage show, and Charlie Peacock mixing alternative, funk, and world beat into an intriguing stew.
These days I can’t turn on Christian radio without turning it off almost as quickly. Christian radio fills the airwaves with cliche after cliche – vapid Jesus cheer leading and bland scripture reading put to poor quality music. Again, we can find a few exceptions, but for the most part, the Christian music industry produces substandard art.
“There’s a long-established concept that gets bandied about, which is misery makes for great art,” Corgan said during the Aug. 23 interview. “If you were asking a Shinto monk, I think they would laugh at this idea. You’re basically saying suffering is good for business, and I don’t think suffering is good for business. Crazy’s good for business, suffering isn’t.”
When asked what he was now exploring in his music, Corgan, 46, said bluntly, “God.”
The Illinois native said he believes God is the future of rock and roll, although that concept might not be readily welcomed.
“You’re not supposed to talk about God, even though most of the world believes in God. It’s sort of like ‘don’t go there,’” Corgan said, relating a comment he made to a magazine that failed to print his remarks. “I think God is the most unexplored territory in rock and roll music.”
The interviewer asks him, “Well what would you say to Christian rockers, then?” His reply:
“Make better music,” he said. “Personally, I think Jesus would like better bands.”