Guitar Pedal I Do Love

Electric guitar geek post here…

So the pedal board for me changes along and along. On occasion I even use a pedal or two when doing solo shows w. my thrush-bird tele “partscaster” and with various cigarbox guitars and 1 string diddley bows. Now and then. Just to change up tone and when I feel inspired.

As a guitarist (both acoustic and electric) one can marry oneself to a pedal (or six or ten of ’em) to the extent they actually define your tone and sound at core. What I mean is they become The. Signature. Sound. of you and your work. I don’t really want to go there for a number of reasons.

First off, to me tone and what inspires as well as really seems to fit in a given song or only in the solo section -or one of several solo sections in the same tune is all about THAT particular thing. The foundation is the guitar, the amp and tone via those two. But I’m not against pedals as such.

Back in the day I discovered an effects box with rotary dials and just a few settings. Don’t recall the name and I believe I mentioned it in my blog here some time ago. The point is that I thought between that and a Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face pedal I became Hendrix. Uhhhh… nada… but I was in the slightest sense in the general ballpark. The next problem became what happened when I turned the effect off! Plain… boring… lack of core tone-age… now what?!

Certainly a cool sounding distortion or compression (or mix) pedal can inspire and rock your world- but what if it goes out on a show and you don’t have a another of them? Using it on most every song means you’re sunk.

Things to think about, ‘eh?

Well for many years I wanted an octave pedal, not an octave (12 steps) UP, but rather DOWN, so as to add deep baritone, even bass crunch on the bottom of my guitar chords and occasional solo.

What I found recently via our record label and the amazing Ed Bialach (Grrr Director, GKB drummer and my Tone Zone Studio B engineer and co-producer in my solo projects) is yet again an amazing little foot pedal for guitar -or cigarbox or diddely git when they’ve a pickup on ’em- and that is the Drop pedal.

A pretty thorough, thoughtful review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zHaRpAD_tU

No, I don’t get a dime for telling you this, I just think it’s a very cool pedal for what it does which is offer very fast pitch changes or true bypass or (you guessed it) a full octave down sound that to my ears sounds BIG and COOL.

Your mileage may vary and that’s also fine, just wanted to mention it as I spent some recording time in the studio today and used it on some tracks for a thick crunching sound. Always wanted a cooking octave pedal and to my ears, got it.

No matter what- tone first, -then- coloring pedals is how I fly, but I sure love this one.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Algorithm Rant

RANT ALERT- And yep, it’s about money, monetizing social media and such.

“Of course,” you say, “Glenn don’t be thin-skinned, the staff, servers, all computing, tech-work and backup stuff costs money!” I know that. I get that. It’s a BUSINESS after all.

So my nickel as a small-guy peon who benefits daily from these services-

Yep, you can choose to scroll by and/or ignore the adds via all the “free” sites that I use to communicate what I believe may well be helpful to others who read, listen to or watch what I bring. Algorithms are all part of the deal, right? Right.

So when any of us use social media and a myriad of other online services we are now agreeing for our interests (or supposed interests as I do a ton of research to understand how people think and what they’re thinking about) to be harvested by said companies, and whether they share that info. with others at a profit, the often, typical associated advertisements pop up as people access what I bring to the table.

Further, as I use a wide range of online sites it becomes obvious the algorithms tracking me are feeding -me- stuff I may find interesting… that is, perhaps there’s more money to be made off of me even when I’m not overtly spending money via such sites.

Most reading realize all this- so what?!

WHAT is that in a digital age when the power of vast communications are the norm, the ease of use and obvious reach one may gain comes at a cost, personal and shared. Well that’s what capitalism is all about- capital.

So we “make a deal” time we access a site. Sure, if you have the money and wish to you can find sites to utilize that cut down if not entirely away from these monetization tactics and thus cut down on spam in your email inbox, adds that target you on various sites you use and so forth. Understood.

When we bottom-feeders in societies around the world subject ourselves to such systems of course those with the most loot “win”. They built it, we came, they conquered -and they aren’t driving rusted-out ancient vehicles or living in flimsy homes among the poor.

So that’s my rant today. Nothing much to do about it but either share to a much (in my case it would be MUCH-MUCH) smaller group of people by other means or simply continue with the tech-currents as they presently exist.

Believe me when as a –NON-“PREPPER” person I appreciate off-grid and rural living as an alternative, but in the end that means self and only immediate family and far fewer folks get whatever good I can give. The platforms and distribution systems come into play.

Being as creative as I am I’d adjust if need be and likely even have a bit of fun as well as peace in my conscience doing so, but alas, this is the world I live in.

I type this on my main laptop w. a broken screen, discarded by a work associate, plugged into a great and working outboard screen also gifted me, using a very polished (free) version of the Linux operating system. The church/community I serve in covers the cost of internet service. That’s how I roll when at home. Same goes for a couple other laptops, an old netbook and old Mac (all Linux) also all gifted me or they’d have been in a landfill years ago.

Yes, there ARE work-arounds… but remember that for 30 pieces of silver one can become part of the food chain in no time. Ethics? Well, that’s a deep subject.

After all this, I admit I am grateful for services to share this on too… go figure.

Meanwhile those with the most loot mostly control the system -and justice too often takes a hike at that very intersection at supply/demand, thus I mentioned ethics.

End of rant -which if you read/listen to me much you know I rarely allow myself. Sigh… and such is the world in which we live.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Encouragement, Discouragement

Don’t we all regardless of circumstances- deal with both of these throughout our lives on earth? And I do mean ALL, everybody! True?

Whether a follower of Jesus or not, no matter how much money, how many resources at our disposal, friends or enemies we have, no matter how we stack things up and take account of age, weather, fake or legit news, health, you name it, we are sometimes ENcouraged and at other times DIScouraged.

Ready? What God does or allows in our individual lives is sometimes encouraging and at others discouraging.

Would you say Ukrainians heading toward the front or preparing to defend from an attack are facing a season of encouragement or discouragement?

Do we surmise Jesus, knowing He was heading into utter rejection, torture and crucifixion was at core encouraged or discouraged? In other words, was this something to enjoy and look forward to or something more related to suffering and deep misery?

Oh, the scriptures themselves speak to this in several places, one being Hebrews 2.12 (AMP here which I believe truly gives the sense) “[looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].”

The full sense of His and our journey in following Him is rather clear as Jesus instructs His disciples “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]” -John 16.33

Our relationship with Jesus is, in my belief and personal experience, the most essential and important matter with regard to our being encouraged and (not “or”) discouraged, because we can be certain difficult times will happen for each of us – and because of Jesus Himself the discouraging events and moments in our life (mind, emotions, practical stuff happening or not happening) do not -rule- in us. Why? Because Jesus rules, not how I feel.

I’m not at all saying it’s easy nor that our emotions don’t mean anything, rather that if Jesus rules and is -more important- than my feelings, He and not my feelings rightly occupy the place of Lord and Savior. Emotions are incapable of being either of those!

The problem is that so many people simply walk away from faith in Him, the Bible and it’s teachings, remove themselves from most any/all people that may sound discouraging to them (and there is right and wrong in that particular point) because they are doing all possible work to protect themselves (also very right, sometimes wrong) -and in the process end up “protecting themselves from God”.

You may be quite happy and encouraged by thinking you can eliminate the bad feelings and even extreme condemnation (again, sometimes this is legit to do!) that come from your interpretation of scripture, perhaps finally deciding you’re an atheist, but in the end my question is simply this:

Are we choosing self-godhood in our quest to move from discouragement to encouragement?

Thinking we can somehow “do away” with sin and consequences by deciding neither exists is itself not only a philosophically illogical mega-flaw, it is a pretense that ultimately means we determine WE are the RIGHTEOUS JUDGE OF ALL.

Part of the flaw in my view is that agnostics and full-on atheists daily think about, and often are activists against what they perceive as wrongs. The Bible term is “sin”, so if we say we don’t believe in sin we are merely discarding the term, not the issue/s.

Believe me when I say Christians (including myself) have often made judgements against people and practices by defining sin, wrong thinking, attitudes and actions not by scripture by but personal judgements and I posit, often in a desire to ourselves escape experiencing discouragement.

Sin is common in people of faith as well as those purporting to have none.

Lastly, from beginning to end of the biblical books of the Bible we see people discouraged by God Himself as part of His working to make them/us more like Himself. Consider “the rich young ruler” and others whom Jesus discouraged by calling them to quit trusting in themselves, their riches, their accomplishments, their evasion tactics away from what HE maintains as truth.

Discouragement will never “go away” in this world until God wraps things up on earth- and that day will come.

Worship of the true God rather than “cursing God” and dying is always a nose-hair pulling thing when reality is we have decided only our own self-protection can be trusted.

Interesting that issues of faith, trust, commitment, walking in (what we may believe is) the light have never been merely Bible or Christian concepts, ‘eh?

The issue is whether we seek Jesus vs. our own… shall I say, “creative idea” that because Jesus calls His followers to a cross, we avoid such “discouraging” elements of faith-relationship with Him.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

River Walk, Prayer, Songwriting

While Wendi had a doc appointment today I had about 40 mins. to walk along the Chicago River up on the north side of town. It was cooler than yesterday, with what in some countries they call a “fresh” wind, partly sunny, geese, ducks, redwing blackbirds and the deep green grass dotted with dandelions and several varied sorts of little purple flowers I may eventually remember the names of smiled up at me.

Chicago River, North Park Area

An occasional solitary walker, a few couples, some bike riders and a couple people walking their cute dogs passed by as I moved along the trail from one bridge to below another and back tracked to the car.

These are always great times to simply get basic low-grade exercise, breathe good air, think, pray and observe nature, architecture along the river and to give thanks.

My mind has been full of music of late, as in, nearly complete songs with layers of parts and then dreaming up matching lyrics. I’ve now a project full of them and will begin laying tracks -but this will take quite a long time due to various schedules. Inspiration happens and I’m so blessed to be able to share it -eventually.

When back at the car I decided to do something I’d not done much of for some years. I used to use a micro cassette recorder to hit beats on my lap or table top, hum melodies/lyrics and do brief, quick audio snapshots of song ideas. Today I laid some six of these into my smartphone. Times and tech have surely given we musicians opportunities to catalogue ideas!

And now off to wash dishes, finish my workout and maybe even hit the hay early. A good day.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Constructs and Deconstructs

I don’t always think it makes sense for me to chime in on “the issues of the day” but this one in my view is as simple as it is profound.

To deconstruct anything (spirituality, church, science, political theory and practice, laws of the land, whatever) one had to either believe in, be somehow subject to or otherwise ourselves first construct a view on the issue/s involved. One can only DEconstruct what we first somehow constructed.

IF we continue to learn, grow, are at all open to new things (the Bible is loaded with instruction to do all of this) we will deconstruct to reconstruct, therefore create a new construct.

What I believed about my parents, teachers at school, churches (lots of ’em aren’t there anymore, and plenty of those local fellowships in existence are clearly not all in lockstep with one another) -each involved a philosophical construct in my own head.

Some elements I picked up/learned from social conditioning re. what I and/or those I considered authoritative and intelligent thought, believed, lived by. Some of them and what ever “it” was, was indeed correct, sound, right, some of it nonsense, outright wrong, even anti-Christ though sometimes quoted from the Bible and various church “codes”.

Some of it was/is more grounded in political stance or personally comfortable culture than scripture. Some of it and those espousing the particular view was a conflation, a syncretism of ideas, beliefs, constructing a position I held to be true, false or as I say here -that is, a mix.

It seems to hurt a lot of our heads to think very deeply about long-held beliefs that have been an anchor to our minds, souls, perhaps even bodies. For professing Christians as well as agnostics and atheists it can be either true OR a cop-out to say “doctrine doesn’t matter, it’s all rules and regs., law and human ball-and-chain works -none of which saves us, none of which focuses on loving God and loving one’s neighbor” and therefore we have constructed in our own mind a philosophy (ready for this?) –a shared construct where love is the only thing that matters -unless we also find others who agree with our philosophy, for then we don’t have to deconstruct our own construct/s.

If you’ve read this far (God have mercy on you) I happen to believe that agape (biblical Greek for “love”) is something other than the other loves mentioned in the New Testament -and akin to God’s Own love rather than those other loves that speak more to family, marriage, friendship and such though to be sure, each and all of these are sweet and important- all gifts from God!

There are a load of sites and articles online about this and of course one can go to the Greek New Testament for a deeper dive, but here’s one article I think worthy of consideration regarding for the most part, a Bible-considered construct about love:

https://www.christianity.com/wiki/christian-terms/what-is-love.html

What I believe we can each experience is all of the above loves, yet without God’s love we miss the truest and most essential, eternal of all loves -and that’s a construct I find hard to drop from study, experience and due to His demonstration of love for me and for us in Jesus Christ.

I believe there is good and ill and often a mix of both in human philosophies -and I know full well that even in this I’m stating my current philosophy! None of us can escape this.

Having said all this, here’s a bit of prose I wrote some time ago in a little book now online called “Interviewing Icons”:

THE NEW CANON

philosophies incarnate
deified assumption
self-taught incorruptables
put-on incorruption

true to the disciplines of Athens
all genuflect
before the mind of humankind
hail to enlightened theory
yes elevation
pontification
what the poor Bible-foolish need is
education

humility?
accountability?
responsibility?
how trite.

HERE no partial knowledge
inherent rights have we

How Dare one criticize, yes blaspheme
The Canon
of human philosophy

[ From: https://interviewingicons.wordpress.com/ ]

Perhaps these are things worth considering along the journey?

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

What God Grows From Dust and Dirt

Ahhhh SPRINGtime!

A couple afternoons ago Wendi and I took our first walk through our sideyard garden together this season. Tulips are rising, squill, daffodils and hyacinth are smiling at us, rosebuds and our adjacent magnolia tree are starting to blossom. The sun shone brightly in cool air and life begins anew just as Easter proclaims!

One translation of the Bible mentions the word “garden” 52 times in 47 verses.

We know when God created the world He established a garden and placed a man and woman there to tend it.

There are several other gardens mentioned but the next one that leaps out in my thinking is Gethsemane- “1 When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the ravine of the Kidron, where there was a garden, in which He entered with His disciples.
2 Now Judas also, who was betraying Him, knew the place, for Jesus had often met there with His disciples. (John 18.1,2)

Apparently this was a spot they hung out a lot… and I would expect that the carpenter-Son was reminded often of the earlier betrayal of Adam and Eve along with what would become of Him, reminded perhaps by the very trees in that place- that a cross was coming His way shortly.

Finally, I’ve been spending a great deal of time re-studying the Book of Revelation, and what an encouragement for those who followed Jesus in this lifetime when we hear of the new Jerusalem, “the tree of life” and a river flowing through it where the people of God will meet with the Father, the Risen Christ and one another. The term “garden” is not used explicitly but it surely sounds like one where “fruit” and “leaves” are also mentioned -for healing- in the text. Resurrection, renewal, life happens via gardens. When Jesus rose from the dead Mary through her tears at first thought it was the gardener speaking to her.

In that new city, garden within it and Father/Son/Spirit there with the saints of God forever: sin, temptation, tears, pain will be no more.

Spring is in the April, 2022 air as I write this… flowers are beginning to pop!

Through history the Lord calls His people home to Himself.

What God plants never ends- the Gardener does His work perfectly.

Alleluia!

As always, thanks for stopping by 🙂 -Glenn

GOOD Friday, EASTER Sunday 2022

And here comes another Good Friday- and Alleluia, EASTER! The issue of Passover, of the grace of God, protection of the LORD and His kindness to His people is a reality though of course questioned by many in many situations.

I have often cited illness, environmental and “natural” disasters and of course the miseries resulting from what The Bible calls sin nature.

While all of these matters are equally real and from the beginning humans have questioned God (see Genesis right through to Revelation) as to His reality, love and power to save, heal, deliver and comfort re. these and more, those with saving faith in Jesus find “grace to help in time of need” -though it does NOT always look or feel like grace. “Let us not talk falsely now, the hour’s getting late”.

I recently read a fresh report on a major decline in life expectancy for people in the U.S., and of course “nobody is getting any younger” as the old saying accurately goes.

Ahhh but the resurrection of Jesus, His Own words about that event which He prophesied a number of times prior to that amazing morning… and our own resurrection, as per Jesus’ statement: “Do not be amazed at this; for a time is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come out: those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the bad deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” (Gospel of John 5.28, 29)

I cannot in words put how eternally grateful I am that Jesus went to the cross for us, for -me-!! And then He rose again… as will all, some to life… some.

My wish for friends, enemies and all I have not and shall not ever meet on this earth is that relationship with God in Christ will be yours.

In the end neither Jesus nor any of the Gospel or New Testament writers point to any other Savior or salvation but Jesus Christ Himself.

Christ Has Died. Christ Is Risen. Christ Will Come Again.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Thankful Always- Holy Week 2022 Musings

The more I age the more I find myself thanking God for everything, all good gifts He gives!

This week as we approach Good Friday and Easter I’m in prayer for a number of friends who battle cancer and other life-changing illnesses, the people of Ukraine and for folks right here in Chicago who are suffering, incarcerated persons in Cook Co. Jail, Stateville Prison and beyond.

Today I am giving thanks for our son-in-law Tim’s positive report on brain cancer from an MRI and etc., in that the situation looks stable, possibly with a slight improvement. Thanks for ALL of you who prayed and will, for Tim and family! He will do two more rounds of chemo and of course regular checkups. I’ll update when we have any significant news.

I’m thankful for the computers I have and communicate with, get work done on.

I’m very thankful for a hot cup of tea sitting near me now- as the one, rare time I don’t drink coffee all day is when I deal with sickness, tea is my then go-to. Several of our family have dealt with a Spring cold, and I’m on the tail-end of one now, nothing serious but a drag for a person who rarely gets sick.

I’m thankful re. my recent quick and longer Covid test results came back negative.

Blessed to have a wonderful blanket Wendi knit for me a few years back, and great bed to sleep on at night. So many have concrete or worse out in the streets, alleys and under bridges.

Alleluia for the many staff and volunteers at our Cornerstone Community Outreach shelters that provide a place, a load of services and friendship which transitions to their own apartment, job and not back on the streets for residents!

I am Blessed continually for being able to record at Tone Zone Studio and work on various projects for Grrr Records, dvds for incarcerated persons and more. I’m so very thankful for great musical gear and talented friends and co-workers who help me do my best with it all.

Also grateful I can fashion, play and share simple slide guitars out of simple stuff I have available.

I thank and praise God for whatever talents and creative gifts He’s given me, words to share, music to share, various bits of art and discoveries I’m able to share via so many web and social media sites.

I’m deeply grateful for the Lord’s gifts of songs that speak to people’s hearts and what I believe to be reality rather than myth, both regarding the human race and Jesus.

I’m giving thanks for poetry and prose, several people (Jan Richardson and also https://macrinamagazine.com/our-mission/ among others) where I find good things.

Blessed to have so many friends around the world who pray for my wife and I, for JPUSA Ev. Covenant community, and interact with us in so many encouraging ways!

To say I’m thankful for my dear wife and best friend Wendi, family, JPUSA friends/family and so many others in the Ev. Cov. Church is an understatement.

Good Friday is a testament to many things- certainly the brutality and injustice of humans and the grace of God in Jesus Christ Who utterly gave Himself that we might find the forgiveness and eternal life that only comes by His act of grace.

I am eternally grateful for Easter, for an empty tomb, for so very many grace-filled gifts of God’s kindness and provision in my life. There aren’t enough “!!!!!”‘s to add here!

And, as always, thanks for stopping by 🙂 -Glenn

“Christianity” or Christ?

As Christians all over the world begin “holy week” in thought, consideration and services related to the last week of Christ’s life on earth including crucifixion and resurrection, there will be many discounting both Jesus and of course the Church/churches/Christianity. This has been the norm for centuries -and not without reason.

I personally think there seem to be 4 overall issues by which people reject at least elements of “Christianity” if not Jesus Himself.

Either folks are ignorant of or do not remember all the Bible itself says about historical -missing the mark- sin and hypocrisy in Israel (Old Testament), the church (New Testament), actual and verifiable world history outside of scripture that details the same, or in much the same way are unwilling to give equal space and lip to hypocrisy in both the world outside of any sort of spiritual belief as well as their own life. Please read that again.

Certainly anyone can and ultimately will think whatever they choose to, or believe they have good ground and reason to believe this or that about “Christianity” but in the end there is in one sense what we believe isn’t going to change reality, truth or actually change what happens after our death. Such can seem like heresy to committed Christians, but what I’m saying now I’ve said for years -our belief or disbelief doesn’t equal reality and truth.

Our judgment (including mine) against Christianity and the churches are not the final sum total of reality and truth. How is this not obvious to thinking people who do or do not espouse spiritual faith? I’m calling us all out for lack of humility, proportion and sense -though what you may refer to as “sense” may not agree with my thinking on that either 🙂

Interesting that depending on how we exegete the Greek words related to our English term “truth” -did you know the four Gospels use it some 38 times, the rest of the New Testament appx. 80 times?

If there is a God and we give account to Him after life on this earth (Jesus Himself and many others in the Book tell us we each and all will) what we thought about Christianity and the church will in that sense be irrelevant. What we truly lived out relationally in practice is either full of meaning and value or we are in essence our own god spinning about in our own and quite non-eternal kingdom.

Do Christians accurately represent the one they call their Lord and Savior? About as perfectly, flawlessly as a non-musician yet true fan of Hendrix, Prince or J. S. Bach imitates them…

And so Jesus gets judged by our sinful, blundering, indeed at times horrifying actions, in-actions, self-worship. So much for “Christianity” ‘eh? I get it. Do you dear reader?

From one end of the Bible to the other there is a blatant call for God’s Own people to repent. The whole historical sense of reformation is our need to reform!!

I’ll finish this bit of writ with what I consider both simple and profound with regard to my Lord and Savior. Often, negative judgment toward the whole of the church or professing Christians is indeed accurate and well-deserved regarding our spiritual and plenty of other real-life deficits. And then there is this about our Lord:

“If we want to know what God is like, let us look at Calvary.” Robert E. Coleman

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Which Hill to Die On?

Been thinking about what hills are truly worth dying on. Not many really -but mercy, how some folks love to fight!! I mean debate for the sake of argument like it’s a sport.

Oh there are some, some good reasons to draw a line in the sand but if Jesus isn’t doing the writing I suggest we all fall into the sad and self-serving category of the Pharisee’s as per those always wanting to get “a leg up” on Jesus, always seeking a way to somehow “win” the particular argument, debate, disagreement. Often it was about jealousy and their own sense of possibly losing their public standing with people who wrote their meal ticket.

Jesus was in their view, competition, an enemy, someone who people might choose to follow and even more a supposed “threat” to them than even John the wacky, weird guy in the wilderness Baptist who indeed had called them out in no uncertain terms.

Like the demonized King Herod who had John beheaded, it’s doubtful the greater number of Pharisees shed tears over that murder as they, like Herod, were all about appearances, position and whatever power and perks they could maintain or get.

There have always been politicians and indeed church leaders, various professional corporation and even small biz owners who have rolled with the same sort of attitudes. No shock in that historical fact is there?

What the Holy Spirit does is cause each one of us to check our own hearts, motives, goals and whether in social media or one-on-one or whatever the scenario I’d say faith, hope, love and a depth of integrity that costs in a world that often simply seeks THE.WIN., well, Jesus on the cross is the same Jesus Who rose on the third day and is forever seated at the right hand of God.

Apparently, the kingdom He builds isn’t the same as the cheap and non-eternal ones too many of us are tempted to seek and create.

There comes a time when arguing isn’t worth much, and so you have to give your life in love and true care -even for your enemies. It seems to me that’s the love of God that we see in Jesus Christ.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn