QUICK HITS: Bradley Birzer A weekly rapid-fire interview – Hillsdale Collegian

Where did you attend college? Notre Dame for undergrad. Indiana Uni­versity for graduate school. How did you propose to your wife? I wrote out 95 reasons why she should marry me and posted them on the cathedral door in Helena, Montana because she was Lutheran. I took her there at about 20 minutes to mid­night on Feb­ruary 12th of 1998. She said yes. If you were on a desert island, what three books would you bring? “The Lord of the Rings,” the Bible, and “City of God.” You’re on a desert island and get access to one website.  What do you choose? The Imag­i­native Con­ser­v­ative. Would you rather climb Mount Everest or go to the bottom of the ocean in a sub­marine? Everest. Do you have any super­sti­tions? I believe in ghosts.
— Read on hillsdalecollegian.com/2019/12/quick-hits-bradley-birzer-a-weekly-rapid-fire-interview/

Amazon’s mystifying paper catalogs – Six Colors

When I was a kid, I loved, loved the Sears Wish Book. It was a catalog full of toys and games and pajamas and other stuff kids might want to put on their gift-request lists. I can still smell the ink on the paper of the Wish Book. I want that Star Wars toy and this video game and, no, I don’t want that pillow, c’mon mom, who wants a pillow for Christmas?

Clearly someone at Amazon has been thinking of the power of colorful print catalogs to promote products, because last month, we got an 89-page catalog from Amazon in our mailbox, titled “Play Together: Amazon’s Ultimate Wish List for Kids!”
— Read on sixcolors.com/post/2019/12/amazons-mystifying-paper-catalogs/

Cyril – The Way Through

Earlier this year, I posted a review of one of my favorite albums of 2019, Manuel Schmid and Marek Arnold’s Zeiten. Mr. Arnold was kind enough to comment on it, and he mentioned that he and Mr. Schmid have another project: Cyril, which is a full-fledged prog rock group.

Cyril’s latest album is The Way Through, which was released last spring. It is a terrific work, showcasing the talents of Marek Arnold (keyboards, sax), Manuel Schmid (vocals, keyboards), Ralf Dietsch (guitars), Clemens Litschko (drums), Denis Strassburg (bass), and Larry B. (vocals). Guy Manning from Damanek wrote the lyrics.

The Way Through is a concept album about a man who has a near death experience. In “The Gate”, he rises above his dying body, and he notices

There is a light in the darkness here
I feel its call
I know in my heart that I must journey on
and find the way through
One step into night, one last look behind
In silence I walk
If I am to live once again I must meet my life
Head on and right the wrongs

And right the wrongs of his life he does. Each of the following three songs chronicles his efforts to atone for mistakes he made in his life. “My Own Reflection” is a portrait of him as a young boy who is near despair. His spirit gives his young self comfort and courage.

“First Love (A Lullaby)” is a beautiful song about revisiting his first love and treating her with respect and tenderness as their relationship ends.

“Get Up High” is a ferocious rocker that expresses his confusion and panic as he realizes he is trapped in a maze of trees with no direction home. Things settle down for the gentle and enchanting “A Sign On The Road”, where he has a choice to make:

‘To sleep not dream’ or “To dream not sleep’
What does it mean? Cos I must decide now

He chooses life (to dream, not sleep), and returns home to his body. But is he really alive, or still in a dream?

Cyril’s music is simply gorgeous. Arnold, Strassburg, and Schmid are responsible for the melodies, and every track shines. Arnold’s sax work is exceptionally fine, lending a jazzy touch to the proceedings. Larry B and Manuel Schmid complement each other’s vocals perfectly.

In my review of Zeiten, I stated that that album was my favorite of 2019, but I’m afraid it’s been deposed. The Way Through is now the best of the year, in my opinion. Give it a listen, and enjoy the excellent musicianship of Cyril. You will not be disappointed!

Here is “The Wasteland – Home Again”:

Living in the Same Spiritual World: C.S. Lewis & Charles Williams ~ The Imaginative Conservative

That spring, Williams and Lewis formally met one another, in person, and discovered an immediate kinship of ideas and personalities.[8] Despite the geographical distance between them, the two continued to read each others’ works and correspond about them. Indeed, Lewis liked Williams’s 1937 novel, Descent into Hell, as much as he had Place of the Lion, if not more. “I think this is the best book you have given us yet,” he assured Williams.[9] Again, a year later, in 1938, Lewis approved of Williams’s following book, He Came Down from Heaven, seeing in it timeless truths equal to those of “Plato, Augustine, or Pascal.”[10] Playfully, Lewis teased Williams for his many successes. “Damn you, you go on getting steadily better ever since you first crossed my path: how do you do it? I begin to suspect that we are living in the ‘age of Williams’ and our friendship with you will be our only passport to fame. I’ve a good mind to punch your head when we next meet.[11]
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2019/12/living-same-spiritual-world-c-s-lewis-charles-williams-bradley-birzer.html