Spectator Redux. I subscribed to The American Spectator throughout the 90s. Some of its long-time fans became disillusioned with it in the Clinton years, since it became increasingly obsessed with digging up dirt on the President. I didn’t care much, because I didn’t care much about politics at all except as a spectator sport, and the Spectator could always be counted on to sling its mud in a lively, humorous, and literate fashion. But the magazine hit some rough patches financially in the past few years, and in a very weird series of events ended up being taken over by George Gilder.
Now, I have a lot of respect for George Gilder’s technical expertise, but the magazine he turned the Spectator into wasn’t something I was much interested in reading. At some point it stopped coming; whether through incompetence or because my subscription was up, I didn’t know and didn’t care. But just today a new issue showed up in the mailbox. It seems that after less than a year, Gilder has turned the magazine back over to its original publishers. And although it retains a lot of the ugliness of the Gilder-era redesign, the content looks more like what I used to enjoy. The label suggests that my subscription runs another couple of years; if it returns to anything resembling its former self, I’m happy about that.
Brisket. One thing I love about smoking brisket is that it generally results in leftover smoked brisket, lots of it, which means an ongoing source of innards for brisket sandwiches, a meal I dearly love; had one for lunch today. But I’m having a hard time beliving that I actually smoked twenty pounds of brisket last Friday, because it’s ALMOST ALL GONE! I guess our guests enjoyed it nearly as much as I did (which was the point of the exercise, really).
Feast. Continuing on the tradition established by the Daughertys, we will be holding a feast to celebrate the baptism of our new daughter in early September. We’ll be renting a pavilion in the city park across the street from our house (‘city park’ doesn’t really do it justice—it is a large and beautiful area, and the pavilion is atop a hill with a great view of the lake). Brisket will be on the menu, of course; we’re thinking that we’ll need at least sixty pounds. And I just got off the phone with Heidi Andrade, fiddler for the Reeltime Travelers—they are confirmed as the band for the evening.
Part of the tradition, in our mind anyway, is that such a feast should be akin to a wedding, a celebration put on by a family in honor of an important event in their lives. Nobody will be able to experience our joy in a new daughter directly, but we can try our best to convey that joy by putting on a bash for our friends, one where they’re not expected to do anything but show up.
Guests. Due to sickness, not all the Sprouls could join us for dinner last night. But some did, and we had a great time. We also issued a last-minute invitation to the Daughertys, which they graciously accepted. The menu was nearly identical to Friday night’s—smoked brisket, sauce, beans, grilled potato salad, peach cake. No more Two Brothers French-style Country Ale, so Jonathan and I had some Pete’s Wicked Ale, and it was pretty good. Later Chris showed Jonathan what he’s been learning on the dujo, and Jonathan brought up one of his banjos from our basement for a bit of jamming.
Articles. I just added the final paragraphs to my Culture Matters column for the Sept/Oct issue of Every Thought Captive and sent it off. The book review has already been sent. Editors Jonathan Daugherty and R.C. Sproul Jr. will soon inform me how close my drafts are to being final drafts.
Sprouls. R.C. is back in town, and we’re looking forward to hosting a goodly number of Sprouls for dinner tonight.
Barbecue. Our favorite place in the world to eat barbecue is Coopers in Llano, Texas. The last time I was there, four friends and I braved 108 degree temperatures (in an air conditioned Land Rover, though) to make the 90 minute drive from Austin. I almost always have a hunk of sirloin steak and a few ribs. As we left, we drove around the back and were amazed to see a fellow in a heavy, long-sleeved coat stoking an extremely hot-looking fire.
Our favorite barbecue sauce in the world is served at Sonny Bryan’s in Dallas, Texas.
Evening. I finished my review of Doug Wilson’s Mother Kirk for the next issue of ETC, and emailed it to Jonathan this afternoon. But I’ve been struggling with the “Culture Matters” column I’m supposed to write for the issue, and it’s already a day past deadline, so around 5pm I called Jonathan to ask him for advice. He suggested that I ride with him to Kingsport after supper (he needed to go to a copy place to get tomorrow’s order of worship reproduced) so that we could talk it over on the drive. I did, and we did, and I think I have enough guidance to finish up the article by the time my new deadline rolls around Monday night. When we got back I offered him a beer and further conversation.Him: “How can I refuse a beer?” Me: “I guess we’re not likely to find out.” So we shared the two remaining Two Brothers French-style Country Ales from the six-pack he had brought me after his last trip to Toledo, as well as our views on this and that.
Dujo Part Deux. We did go to the dulcimer shop in Jonesborough over lunch. Willis Jones was not there, and the kids were initially disappointed. But his nephew was there running the store—first day, actually—and he was so personable that we had a great time. I think Chris tried every dujo in the store before settling on one. All the kids showed their stuff, which Willis’ nephew found enormously entertaining. Matthew discovered something called a strumstick, an instrument similar to the dujo but very small, designed for carrying in a backpack; he went off in a corner and played it the whole time. I tried out a couple of true mountain dulcimers, trying to figure out if my twisted fingers could do a better job of fretting them than it does with the dujo, which has a very narrow neck; in fact it was easier, but not enough so to convince me to buy one right away. We spent more than an hour playing and chatting before we finally collected together our purchase (dujo, case, picks, book, and a set of cherrywood bones for me), paid for it and headed home.
Dujo. Today we’re headed back to the dulcimer shop in Jonesborough. Chris has saved enough money from his lawn mowing to buy his own dujo, and so we’ll pick one out this afternoon. The kids also want to show Willis Jones, the proprietor, everything they’ve learned to play since we were last there, so they spend much of yesterday practicing their chops. We’re looking forward to the show.