Mike Peters, cancer, and church of the non-believers

The Alarm Facebook page.

Thanks to Paste Magazine for its interview with Mike Peters of The Alarm. Heartbreaking to read about his bout with CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia). You can read the entire interview HERE .

* “I was in hospital, and my glands were so swollen, it was like I had tennis balls in my neck. It was so bad, I didn’t want to look in the mirror because I couldn’t even recognize myself. It was scary, and I thought, ‘The only way I can get through this is, I’ve got to respect what I’m up against and allow it to be – I can’t pretend it’s not happening and wish it away. I have to embrace, so I’m gonna let this come to me, and I’m gonna take it on, and I’m gonna relish the game, I’m gonna relish the battle. I’m gonna try and be the winner here, and the only way to do that is by respecting the opponent.’ Which were the drugs, because they come into you and they are killing part of you that you’ve created within yourself, in the biology of your humanity. You’ve created these things that are trying to kill you this time, so my way to combat them was to recognize them, give some respect, and say, ‘But you’re not gonna get the best of me – I’m gonna fight back with all I’ve got.’ And that’s been my mindset all along, ever since I first heard the word ‘cancer’ applied to my life back in 1995.” Continue reading

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The Land of a Thousand Dollies

Over 1100 Dolly Parton lookalikes gathered in Frank Sheehy Park in Listowel on Saturday to succeed in making a new world record of having the largest number of Dolly Parton lookalikes in one place. Pictures: Noel Sweeney, Irish Examiner

The Cliffs of Moher are one of the most majestic sites on Ireland’s west coast. My family and I visited the breathtaking vista last summer. Two hours south of the tourist magnet is Listowel, the epicenter of a recent Dolly Parton look-a-like gathering far more dramatic than the roller coaster at Dollywood.

“Cowboy hats, blonde curly wigs and extravagant outfits – three things you wouldn’t normally associate with any town in Kerry,” reported The Irish Examiner. “This was the reality in Listowel today, as the football pitch that has hosted many a GAA match is swarmed with a very different cohort of people, many covered in rhinestones and sporting cowboy boots as they contribute to setting the world record for the most amount of people ‘instantly recognisable’ as Dolly Parton.

“With over 1,100 Dolly-lookalikes in attendance, the town is well on their way to setting the record for the largest gathering of people ‘wearing a full head-to-toe Dolly Parton costume’ after months of careful planning and promotions.

“The importance of the Dolly Day event, held in aid of Kerry Hospice and Comfort for Chemo Kerry, was reflected in the masses of crowds, who had turned up to contribute to two deserving charities, whilst having some fun doing so.”

As Dolly once said, “We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.” Good for the folks in Listowel for utilizing Dolly’s international fame to raise funds for those who desperately need it.


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Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea on prayer and the meaning of God

(Nick Fancher / For The Times)

In an interview with Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times, Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers fame asks for a moment before the two sat down to talk. “I’m gonna do my little ritual,” he says. Then he bows his head in silence for about 20 seconds. What follows is a small excerpt of the interview.

Is that a daily thing for you?

Yeah, I’m a praying guy. I pray in the morning when I get up, when I go to bed, when I eat. And when I do an interview, I’ll just stop for a second — like, let me get out of the way and let go of everything.

To whom are you praying?

To God. I’m not religious in any way, but I kind of believe in God. And I try to live a life that honors my idea of what God is — like a divine energy.

You talk about this with Patti Smith on your podcast — the idea of finding God in music.

For me, music is the voice of God. I grew up virulently anti-religious, and there came a time in the early ’90s, right around when I turned 30, I got really sick with chronic fatigue. I’d been a drug-taking madman — party all night, play basketball all day. I just thought I was Superman. And all of a sudden it was like all the energy got sucked out of my body. I was like, I can’t go on tour, I feel too s—. And I was cut off from my friends because I wasn’t partying. Continue reading

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Brené Brown on the Way Willie Nelson’s Version of “Amazing Grace” Changed Her Life

Brené Brown, center, with Willie Nelson and Lukas Nelson.
Courtesy of Brené Brown.

Texas Monthly excerpt. Click HERE for original article.

Brené Brown: I was losing my mind a little bit. So I had to make the decision about this conference. And I grabbed my iPod and my headphones, and I went to my playlist, my iGod playlist, and Willie’s “Amazing Grace” came on. Well, up until that moment, I thought the lyric was, “Twas grace that taught my heart to feel.”

But when Willie sang it—and remember I had 20 versions of this already that I’d been listening to for a year—he’s saying, “Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,” not “feel,” “And grace, my fears relieved.” I’m walking through my neighborhood, and I just stop. And I’m like, “What the hell?” And I played it back. And again, “Grace that taught my heart to fear . . . Grace that taught my heart to fear . . . Grace that taught my heart to fear.”

And I couldn’t believe it. I was really shocked that it wasn’t “feel.” And then all of a sudden it dawned on me that I didn’t know how to be afraid. I don’t know how to be afraid. And that’s the grace part. And then it was so weird because I went back immediately and listened to all the other versions, and I’m like, “Of course they’re saying ‘fear.’ Grace taught my heart how to fear—and fears, it released.” Continue reading

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Kilauea creates “seething fountains”

USGS Volcanoes

USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists were on the ground Wednesday morning to capture photographs of the current eruption of Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawaii.  The volcano is confined to the summit caldera within Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.  

“Witnessing the crust of an active lava lake being dragged into seething fountains is unforgettable. While an eruption is an exciting experience, keep in mind you are observing a sacred event,” the National Park Service said.
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In-N-Out to fund film school at Biola University

In-N-Out in Westwood, California. Photo by Steve Beard.

According to the Whittier Daily News, Biola University’s film school will be named after a co-founder of In-N-Out. According to Biola, a Christian university in La Mirada, California, the unspecified but “significant” gift on behalf of Esther L. Snyder is the largest in the school’s 115-year history. It will help fund a $92 million 52,100-square-foot film school studio facility and establish the In-N-Out Burger Scholars Fund to support educational opportunities for foster and at-risk youth.

Esther Snyder, with her husband Harry, founded In-N-Out in Baldwin Park in 1948. She died in 2006, but left a long legacy of giving, according to the company.

The film school will be called the Snyder School of Cinema and Media Arts.

“Our family values the distinctly Christian education Biola University offers and are honored to play a part in continuing to offer students opportunities to make really impactful film pieces that change people’s lives,” Lynsi Snyder-Ellingson, granddaughter of Esther L. Snyder and owner/president of In-N-Out Burger, said in a statement released by the university. “God is a huge part of the In-N-Out story, and I have no doubt my grandmother would be grateful to know her name is associated with a school recognized for excellence in craft and character.”

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Van Gogh Museum turns 50

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. Photo by Steve Beard.

‘Find things beautiful as much as you can, most people find too little beautiful.’

– Vincent van Gogh to his brother Theo, London, beginning of January 1874

One year ago, I got off the plane in Amsterdam and dropped off my luggage on a house boat that I shared with my sister and brother-in-law. Immediately, I wandered off to the Van Gogh Museum. Yep, I got lost — but if you’ve got to get lost in a city … Anyhow, I was bleary-eyed and jet lagged but I wanted every moment in the magnificent city to count. It was an irreplaceable experience. Beautiful and thought provoking. A few days ago, the Van Gogh Museum celebrated its 50th anniversary. Amsterdam celebrated with a rad performance in the evening sky with 200 drones illuminating highlights of some of Vincent van Gogh’s most iconic paintings. Enjoy.

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Skeletons, Death, and Bubbles

Skeleton art in not universally beloved. My mom, for example, is not a fan. It’s creepy. But, I’ve had a lifelong soft spot for it and have always found it compelling. (Perhaps too many Pirates of the Caribbean rides at Disneyland and Social Distortion records when I was younger.) Anyhow, I was intrigued by Devon Preston’s story in Inked Magazine about the meticulous artwork found at the Michaelsberg Abbey in Bamberg, Germany. Built in 1015 under the Order of Saint Benedict, it operated as an abbey until the early 19th century.

Most interestingly, the abbey was decorated with plaster work by an artist named Johann Georg Leinberger. According to Preston, “Leinberger decorated the chapel between 1729 through 1731 and is best known for the piece ‘Death Blowing Bubbles.’ This particular illustration is said to symbolize ‘life’s fragility’ and remained intact despite the building being turned into a hospital in 1803.” Her story includes seven other photos of skeleton plaster art pieces. “Leinberger depicts death in many forms throughout the chapel and the work is modeled within the Rococo style,” Preston reports, “which was popular throughout France and Italy at the time.”

See the rest of the skeleton pieces HERE

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The Epic Return of Lucinda Williams

By Bronwen Dickey, Garden & Gun 

Excerpt: To a male-dominated, marketing-driven industry that fetishized youth, she didn’t belong—at least not in the way record executives wanted her to. There would be no spangles or shoulder pads; she wore dark eyeliner and leather jackets with her cowboy hats. Her songs blended folk and blues, rock and country, punk and zydeco, with an undercurrent of Southern gothic, as if Flannery O’Connor had joined Tom Petty for a late-night drive. Like traditional folk ballads, most of them didn’t have bridges, and they weren’t easily packaged for mainstream radio. They were songs for people who cared about storytelling: personal and direct, plain and profound, filled with misfits who were still worth loving.

Continue reading

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Neon Cowboy Being Restored

The Tumble Inn sign before its hat and top of the cowboy’s head was removed to begin restoration. (Jonathan Thorne)

Jake Nichols, Cowboy State Daily: Almost as colorful as the Tumble Inn’s neon sign is the history of the business it promoted.

From steakhouse to roadhouse, the Tumble Inn was a place many an imbiber stumbled out of. Through its legacy, the juke joint was a haven for prohibition violators, exotic dancing and even a murder.

Back in the day, the historic U.S. 20 was the longest continuous highway in America, spanning from Maine to Oregon. After interstates took over, the section in Wyoming between Casper and Shoshoni was still a long one for many vehicles to navigate without handy watering holes like the Tumble Inn.

An early version of the Tumble Inn was reported to have been in operation in Ten Sleep. Also, according to newspaper clippings, a place of business operating as the Tumble Inn was raided in 1925 and its bartender, S.A. Michaelson, arrested for serving moonshine during prohibition.


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