KEEPS ON SLIPPIN' INTO
B A R R Y B R A K E . C O M

 

 

things i did in 06.
a moustache-twisting journal of the few things in my life worth mentioning

12  |  11  |  10  |  09  |  08  |  07  |  06  |  05  |  04  |  03  |  02  |  01  |  2000  |  99  |  98  |  97

 

 

 

 

 

yeah

 

land of smiles.
six weeks honeymooning in thailand

120 days in the valley.
diaries from my cancer journey

go east.
my month in beijing

fast hannah.
a preliminary bit of blizz blazz

mad skills.
bbbbarry thRoWz U sOmE dEeP hOuSe

 

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bleached (twice)

On New Year's Day, I had conversations with a couple of people who'd done their hair. I'd also been in a change-is-good mood myself for a while. So, figuring the New Year was the perfect time, I got a bleaching kit and went at it till it was solid platinum. As the year progressed, it grew and I cut until it was just tipped. Then I did it again; as of this writing, it's still tipped. What to do next?

 

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got a minidisc recorder

This is one of those technologies, like DAT machines, that would be completely ignored if it weren't for one little group of people — in this case, theater people. The show I do at Baylor finally switched from DAT to disc, and so did I. Now I have to transfer all those old DATs while I still can.

 

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spent easter with the vienna boys' choir

I've enjoyed some memorable Easter Sundays before, but this may take the cake. Catherine and I woke up early and bustled ourselves over to the palace for a Beethoven Mass like no other. Then we went across the street and heard Mozart just for dessert. Yes, in case you hadn't heard, we...

 

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lived in vienna, for a month

Catherine had au paired there several years ago, and knew the place well. She arranged for lodging in a gorgeous high-ceilinged apartment in the heart of town. We ate pastries, drank coffee and chocolate, visited museums, strolled through parks, sat in cafes, people-watched, and walked miles a day. What a town!    more

 

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created a great heisse schokolade recipe

The Viennese version of hot chocolate is darker, less milky, less goopy, and much less sweet than the American version or even the Mexican version. And it's served with pure unsweetened whipped cream. It's a more coffeeish experience, less of a kid drink. When we got home I experimented and experimented, finally settling on something extremely close to the delectable stuff we had at Cafe Demel and the Sacher Hotel. Wachet auf! That stuff is divine.

 

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took a road trip

When our youth minister resigned in March, Jaime Puente and I jumped in to fill the gap. Then it became official. We were the co-interim ministers, as the search began for a new guy. Jaime, a people-connector who embraces change easily, suggested that we do summer big, including all-out trips, activities, and a summer camp that became a literal road trip. Instead of busing to Camp Mosquito, we kept the buses all week and went to different locations in and around town: water parks, poverty-stricken neighborhoods, churches in need. There was a spiritual theme as well: what happens when God tells you to pack your bags and take a journey? (Big Game fans, take note: this was a good one.)

 

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hit a stride

Somewhere in there, my Sunday school lessons got really good. I've always had a talent for presenting well in front of groups; and I've had good role models when it comes to inspiring young people. But for some reason, this year, I turned in a stellar bunch of talks. How to be eccentric, what it means to be a fruit on a vine, how the Pharisees became the good guys (and why we ignore that fact), how we resemble latex gloves, why true forgiveness is nearly impossible and absolutely essential: immodest as it sounds, I gotta say 2006 was probably my second-best year ever for knocking it out of the ballpark.

 

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said goodbye to christ episcopal

For two solid years, I played every week at the church down the street. Whereas Baptists often veer between distrusting art and using it as propaganda, the Episcopal church has a rich history of patronage that honors high art, folk art, classical music, jazz, rock, traditional American tunes, and all else. During a time in which my own church pinballed from wrong answer to wrong answer, CEC was there for me, with an affirming family of good musicians, headed by a real music minister — real music, real ministry. I was quite torn about getting off that gig, but I had to say...

 

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hello to music at tbc

Finally, after years of failed attempts, thwarted attempts, and huge spaces between attempts, Trinity began to have a service that's a bit up-to-date. That meant, in part, getting me to head up a band of crack professionals, gigging jazz musicians who enjoy the coffee and tacos and musicianly hanging, but come for the real and worshipful music-making. Our worship didn't get to where it needs to be, but we began facing the right direction. Not a week went by that several people, of all ages, didn't effuse to me about how things were going. That's satisfying.

 

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cooked a thanksgiving dinner

I'd participated in Thanksgiving since I was old enough to crumble cornbread all over myself and the counter. But it's a different thing altogether to host. This year, Catherine and I hosted. We invited family and friends, cooked odd things in traditional ways and traditional things in odd ways (lavender potatoes, ginger green beans, wildflower salad), and basked in the comfort of a great American feast.

 

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produced a really great album

Ken Slavin and I have been on the jazz scene for about the same amount of time, but we managed never to work with each other at all till just last year. We hit it off so well that I ended up being a co-producer for his 2007 album, "I'll Take Romance." I wrote a few of the arrangements, composed some new lyrics to an existing song, and sat back and criticized this and that. The result is already something everyone involved can be proud of. Outside the Protagonists, I don't produce often (no one gives me that much say), but the combination of big-picture thinking and minute-detail thinking seems perfectly suited to my personality.

 

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said goodbye to barryland

In midsummer, barryland.com got attacked by spammers who did what's called a denial-of-service attack. It's like calling hundreds of 800 numbers and giving your fraternity brother's address to the marketers, then watching his mailbox become essentially useless under the avalanche. Not that I ever did that. But that's what someone did to me, probably not maliciously. The result was that I simply had to abandon it, after ten years of barryland.com. Switching to barrybrake.com was ninety percent as easy as pie; the remaining ten has been a real headache that has cost me personally and professionally. Spammers must die!

 

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drove around the earth, for the tenth time

I bought my trusty, rather unsexy car back in 1992. In its fourteenth year, it passed the two-hundred-fifty-thousand-mile mark. That's ten times around the planet. And it's still going strong.

 

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hung with the cigar guys

It's been since college that I've had a group of guys called "the guys" who gather to puff on cigars and pontificate. Last year it happened again. We sit around a dinner table or a coffee table. We have good cigars. We talk about our lives, our wives, politics, kids, parents, culture, and everything else. One guy got a call from his daughter, and said into the cell phone, "Honey, I'll call you back. I'm in a prayer meeting." He was serious.

 

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got a g4 with os x

For the sixth time in my life, I bought a computer; this one took me into G4 territory, and, for the first time, OS X. Honestly, I really don't see why anyone uses anything else. I'm a big believer in good tools, and, as a freelance musician, I'm sitting in front of my most important one right now. It's just a pleasure. I'm as smug about getting to use a cool Mac as I am about paying peanuts for it.

 

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said goodbye to the needle van

You may recall Catherine's incident with a stolen car, drug users, and a broken-off hypodermic needle. Amazingly enough, we actually kept the car and drove it as a no-passenger convenience. Then, on a road trip, it started shuddering. The towtruck got it to the mechanic, who got in and drove ten feet, upon which the entire front axle skunnnnged right out of the car. We mourned not a bit.

 

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discovered the grilled pupusa

Grilled pupusa! You beautiful beautiful food. You love my taste buds and they love you. Big thick corn tortilla grilled with cheesy cheese and meaty meat inside. Then — no!! You are no more! Taco Cabana tortured us all by introducing a Salvadoran masterpiece, then withdrawing it. No!

 

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played with a cream whipper

At Christmas, my brother and his wife gave us something both useful and beautiful: an iSi cream whipper. You pour cream into the thermosy thing, twist the compressed-air cartridge in, and you've got yourself a load of pure, addictive whipped cream. Perfect for that Viennese Heisse Schokolade!

 

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did my first commercial work in a couple of years

Freelancers are nomads. You spend a while in this territory, then, when the feeling and revenue dictate, you move to that territory. (Lots of which is desert.) Anyway, I'd moved away from doing commercial work for a while there, but this last year I got my feet wet again. Ah, the harrowing deadlines, the good money, the strange requests and limitations, the effort to hit the nail right on the head, the need to reach straight through to the heart of a message without being dumb or blunt.

 

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waxed my face

Marriage has revealed unforeseen obsessions in Catherine, one of which is the purification of my face. She pops zits, she extracts hairs, she exposes and then removes a strange new substance that we have come to call inkheads. How could I deny her such obvious, deep pleasure? At one point, she mentioned she wanted to wax my face. So she did, with body wax and a minimum of common sense or research. The experience became the official worst thing I've ever endured. But it was over in a flash, and we both liked the unscruffy result. So we figured out how to do it right, and we've done it ever since. Then, in July, our custom became the official strangest church talent show act ever. Not kidding.

 

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RSS-fed my blog

Not that that matters to most of Earth's six billion inhabitants. But it's an incremental improvement in the lives of a few dear friends.

 

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lost a pastor

One Sunday, Charlie Johnson announced that, under pressure that became too much, he was resigning. (Before the sun went down, he'd had several offers, and is now cushily ensconced in a seminary.) Since the first day of Advent 2001, he'd offered challenging words and hearty friendship. He was one of the Cigar Guys. I'll be glad for change, and excited when the new pastor comes, but I sure do miss the old one, warts and all.

 

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moved into a slightly crumbly mansion

The property that I've always known as the Rock House has variously served as housing for church staff members, a halfway house for alcoholics, a youth ministry place, and more. In the months after the last inhabitants moved out, though, it had fallen into disrepair. Catherine and I jumped at the opportunity to move in, scrub the place from top to bottom, clear out the four Christmas trees, two 70s microwaves, one 80s computer, and the front bumper of a truck, paint the walls, expel the forest friends, keep out the vagrants (of which we'd found evidence when we moved in), and generally get the place in shape for whatever comes next. It's a beautiful house in one of the city's historical districts, full of light and life. Of course, in the process, we...

 

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said goodbye to the duplex

The place Catherine and I had been living in had been in the family since the early 60s. To the very last day, it still carried powerful memories of people I cherish. Moving out was unexpectedly emotional.     more

 

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what a year. dedicated to the glory of god.

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so, what did you do?

 

 

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