Friday, August 8, 2008

part two

Google Maps can only get you so far.

I was quite excited to cap off a long day and a long week by visiting some local geography I hadn't been to yet, where I would get some much-needed shopping done and treat myself to a well-earned restaurant dinner. I drove just far enough to be out of my comfort zone before I found that the road I was supposed to turn onto was closed off.

Some people under these circumstances would drive around a seek an alternate route, even if they had no idea how the grid worked, or if there even was a grid. Some people would be equipped with maps, a 'Net-capable cell phone, a GPS system, or even just a close friend who could provide passenger-side driving and moral support. Some people would be adventurous.

I was one of those people, for about two minutes. Then, confronted with hunger, looming evening with its impending darkness, no cell or maps or any such goodies, and the prospect of the inevitable rage and even fear of getting lost that accompanies all this, I decided it would be foolish to continue my exploration, and headed home, saving this particular adventure for another day.

I guess the real lesson is that Google Maps can only take you so far, if you take them for granted and assume that the large notice on each page saying "This is for planning purposes only and may not accurately reflect road conditions or closures" does not apply to you, or at least restricts itself to the realm of "could happen...but won't." Still, it's not as bad as the experience that happened to me when I first moved here, and was trying to find a purveyor of the dark...from spoken directions that I hadn't written down. Live and learn.

Part Two of the crazy adventures of Hero is coming up, but I do want to say something about Rescue here. I'm indebted to my college a cappella group, whose name is not Rescue, for many things, but a shining example is that it provided my introduction to this wonderful other, professional, bunch of characters who do go by that name. Rescue performs contemporary Christian a cappella music, and what is so impressive about them is in two parts. The first is that their music lacks the sickening sappiness of much Christian music - when I say contemporary, I mean it, as their music is stylish and cool as can be, with plenty of fast, almost edgy pep to balance out the slower ballads. The second part is the perfection of their singing. I am not overstating this. Their harmony is impeccable, their blend as tight as can be. They have employed superb vocal percussionists, and a bass who has set records for singing in the lowest registers. Not to mention the huge talent of the songwriters, who know just how to make full use of their capabilities. The result is the most beautiful and listenable a cappella I have ever heard (with all due respect to the also-fantastic Rockapella), which literally causes me chills when it isn't making me dance. Even those who have no interest in religion or at least this religion should enjoy the unstoppable quality. If you like a cappella music, if you like Christian music, if you even just like music, you'll find something to enjoy here. Their debut is not quite as compelling as their later releases Two Thousand Years Ago and The Difference, and their latest CD Before the Throne takes things in a slightly different direction, but one no less strong. Check them out on Amazon or iTunes, or just go to their website, where you can buy their CDs or (bonus!) just listen to their music.

That said...

Part 2

For the first few moments Hero gave himself to the joy of flight, and soared high into the sky, mindful of nothing else. But gradually, perhaps because of the additional stimulus provided by the flapping wings protruding from his head, it occurred to Hero that it might be wiser to keep closer to the ground, just in case. So he flew down until he was skimming just a few feet above the ground. High on the wine in his belly and the wind on his face, he was not sufficiently thoughtful to consider the laws of physics further, and so when the charm did run out and the wings vanished Hero did not plummet to his doom, but he did fall onto his face and skid through the mud for twenty or thirty feet until his inertia was depleted by a solidly-entrenched tree stump.

They were hardier in this time and place and took such blows as no two men could take here today, and so Hero was merely dazed. When he came to what few senses he had, he got to his feet and took in his surroundings. He had crossed a substantial distance during his very brief tenure as a bird and would have been well-pleased with his progress had he had any particular destination in mind. As it was, he was amazed by the difference in terrain - the flowering fields of green had been replaced by the white of snow, the smooth flatness changed to rocky jaggedness. It was only a few miles from that wine-flooded river, but the weather was like that. Just so, the temperature was mild, despite the snow on the ground. But he wasn't wearing any socks, or shoes for that matter, and so Hero began to shiver and wondered if he could use the stump for material to build a fire. Belatedly he remembered his shattered blade, the handle of which would do him little good for lumberjackery, but fortunately he had his pocketknife, and thanks to pocketknives being way better there, he pulled out the axe attachment and made for the stump.

"Oy!" said the stump. "I perceive that you're dumb, but if you employ that edge you will quickly become dumber, as I will remove certain apparatus of which you make use to give voice to your pitiful thoughts!"


to be continued...

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