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Archive for the month “December, 2014”

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of my readers!  Thanks so much for taking the time to read my posts and, at times, providing some fiery debate over them.  It has been a lot of fun and I hope to keep it up over the next year.

I posted a little blurb a couple of years ago about the various days to celebrate over Christmas which you can read here.

As you go through this holiday season please remember why we have a holiday season, which is God who came to earth in human flesh as the fully human Jesus of Nazareth.  If Jesus never came, the Holiday Season as we know it simply would not exist; indeed the coming of Jesus was so momentous that it caused Western Civilization to restart our dating system back to “zero”.

Please be sure to give proper devotion and recognition this Holiday Season to Jesus the Savior of the World who came, and, through his life, death, and resurrection, defeated sin, death, and the devil.  Jesus, as it were, as the Christ-Child, leaves the gift of himself, which is eternal life and bliss with him, under the tree, if you will, in the homes of everyone in the world.  He will not open it for you and he will not force you to take it and if you do not accept it, the gift will never be conferred upon you.  So, please, as you consider the next year, please accept this gift that the Christ-Child leaves for you under your tree because Jesus went to his death to make sure you have it as it literally has eternal benefit and consequences; God could not give you any more than he has, which is all of himself for specifically you.

As a side note, I am sure you all have heard of Kris Kringle who people assume to refers to Santa Claus.  The fact is, German Christians, like all Christians, anticipate the arrival of the Christ-Child on Christmas morning.  In German “Christ Child” is translated as “Christkindl“.  When English speaking Christians heard German-speakers say “Christkindl”, they heard, in their English-speaking-brains, “Kris Kringle,” and assumed the German-speaking Christians meant Santa Claus (or Father Christmas, as it were).  So, yes, Kris Kingle will be coming this year, as it were, as we celebrate the coming of the Christ-Child every year!

Finally, I saw the little meme image below and I thought it was very funny.  For all those who think ‘”X-mas’ takes Christ out of Christmas”, please refer to this image.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 

Emancipation’s Impact on Child Support

Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1910.17(a) establishes that a child support order will be modified as of the date the request for the modification is filed. This rule is consistent with the terms of 23 Pa.C.S.A. §4352 regarding retroactive modification of arrearages. Now, generally speaking, the modification of a child support order is requested because of a change in employment, a fluctuation of income, a change in the custodial arrangement of the children and the like. For the most part, the obligation to pay child support for a child terminates when the child reaches the age of 18, but is this termination automatic and, if not, can arrearages accrue after a child reaches the age of 18 if a petition to modify is not filed?

On its face, it would appear that if an obligor does not file to modify the child support – for the purpose of this article in order to terminate it because of emancipation – the order continues and arrearages can accrue after the age of 18.

Very few cases have been reported on the issues described above, and it would seem the Pennsylvania Superior Court case of Holcomb v. Holcomb, 448 Pa.Super.154 (1995), is the leading case on the matter. In Holcomb, the child-at-issue graduated high school in June 1993, thereby becoming emancipated under the law. The father of the child did not file to modify the support order for the child, in order to terminate the order, until June 1994. The relevant question, for the purpose of this article, is whether the child support order should have continued to accrue between June 1993 and June 1994 despite the fact that the child for whom the support was ordered was emancipated the entire time.

The hearing officer’s reasoning was to give the father a retroactive accounting of his support back to June 1993, as if he filed his petition to modify in June 1993, effectively deciding that emancipation automatically takes effect regardless of filing to modify.

The court ruled that, first, it has no power or authority to require the obligee, the mother in this case, to repay any money received after the child-at-issue emancipates. It logically follows, then, that if it cannot order repayment, its power regarding reducing or eliminating arrearages is similarly absent.

Next, the court specifically ruled that it simply has no statutory or procedural warrant or authority to modify support arrearages before the date the father filed a petition to modify regardless of whether the child-at-issue for whom the support has been ordered is emancipated in the interim. Indeed, the court admonished the father, saying “nothing prevented [him] from filing a petition for modification on the date his daughter became emancipated … [therefore] like all successful petitioners who seek modification of a support order, the modification is granted effective as of the date the petition was filed.”

So, for obligors and practitioners alike, it is vitally important to be vigilant in filing petitions to modify support as soon as a child is emancipated; otherwise, a child support order, along with its arrearages, will potentially continue to accrue unabated until some action is taken to stop it.

Originally published in The Legal Intelligencer Blog on July 2, 2013 and can be viewed here and published (reprinted) in Volume 35 Issue No. 3 (September 2013) of Pennsylvania Family Lawyer.

Yes, Like It Is DVD/CD Set: a Review

This is part of my series of posts on the progressive rock band Yes which you can find here.

Yes has just released its latest live album called Like It Is: At The Bristol Hippodrome documenting a concert played by the band at the Hippodrome in Bristol, England, on May 11, 2014.  This concert was in the context of the Three Album Tour.  The album consists of two CDs and one DVD.

The band fielded the following line up for this concert:

The track list is as follows:

CD 1: Going For the One

  • Going For the One
  • Turn of the Century
  • Parallels
  • Wonderous Stories
  • Awaken

CD 2: The Yes Album

  • Yours is no Disgrace
  • Clap
  • Starship Trooper
  • I’ve Seen All Good People
  • A Venture
  • Perpetual Change

DVD: All tracks

  • The Missing Album

As I said above, this album documents a show from the Three Album Tour where Yes played three albums in sequence in toto live, which means, obviously, one album is missing from this album.  This album contains the entire Going for the One album and entire The Yes Album album, but the actual show also included the entire Close to the Edge album with “Roundabout” from the Fragile album as the encore (naturally).  It also lacks any sort of introduction music.

Word is, among Yes fans, is that Yes is going to soon release a live album from their Heaven & Earth Tour in 2014 in the spring of 2015.  The set list for this tour included the entire Fragile album and entire Close to the Edge album.  So, evidently to avoid duplication on successive albums, Yes decided to not put the Fragile and Close to the Edge live material on this collection.  As an aside, the rumor is that Yes will include the live Heaven & Earth material on a bonus disc with the live album to be released in 2015.

  • The Music

It is tough to review the music as this is a live album and the music really is derived from much older and established studio albums, so any review of the music could become really a review of those albums.  Needless to say, Going for the One and The Yes Album are Yes and progressive rock stalwart albums that stand on their own as classic albums which have stood the test of time.  The Three Album Tour presented complete albums played live very closely to how they actually sounded on their original recordings.  So, the songs on that tour – and consequently this album – were not stretched out, the solos were not expanded, and there was virtually no improvisation.  So, in order to avoid reviewing the underlying studio albums, I will focus on the sound of the music more than anything else.

The sound quality of the album is excellent.  The sound is crisp and there is great separation between the instruments and between the vocals.  I am sure some audiophiles could find things to nitpick, but I have no complaints.

Ultimately, I think whether one enjoys this album depends on whether one likes this particular iteration of Yes and can accept the necessary effect age has had on these musicians who are in their sixth decade of performing.

Now, I am long term Yes fan so I have to admit that I wish Jon Anderson (original and long time vocalist) and Rick Wakeman (classic keyboardist) where back in the band and performing live.  That being said, Davison is an amazing replacement for Anderson and Downes is a quality prog rock keyboard player.  Of course, Downes’ style is markedly different from Wakeman’s at times, and I can’t say I do not miss Wakeman’s playing from time to time, but Downes’ style makes for an interesting change.  Wakeman’s playing is flashy, consistently fast, and with a lot of notes whereas Downes’ playing tends toward a lot of chording and being more understated (more cynical people would say “more tasteful” as compared to Wakeman’s choices).  In my opinion, this is a legitimate, excellent, and worthy iteration of Yes.

Does this album reflect any change in their live sound due to age?  Only a little.  I have to say that Alan White’s playing seems to have been deteriorating (at least in a live setting) since at least 2008 as he has gotten older.  He looks like a tired guy on stage once a show is over.  Don’t get me wrong, he still is a solid drummer who keeps time and provides some good coloring, but his live playing has gotten a lot less complex.  He is no longer the so-called “original thunder machine.”  Also, Chris Squire’s voice is not what it used to be.  I am not saying his singing is not good any longer; quite the contrary, his vocals on this album are very strong and mixed fairly high.  The effect of his age is the fact that his vocal parts have been lowered a bit; he is no longer singing in the stratosphere, which provides the songs a slightly different sound than Yes fans may be used to hearing.  Some people have claimed that Yes plays the songs too slowly.  They did seem to reduce the tempo a little on a handful of songs between 2008 and 2012 (which I think was a concession to help ailing vocalist Benoit David), but with Davison’s joining the band they seem to have sped the songs back up to their appropriate tempos again.  Despite that, some still think they are playing too slowly, but I do not think that is a fair criticism at this point.  Their live tempos now reflect the tempos found on the studio albums, as opposed to their old practice of playing live a break-neck speeds.  The fact is, gone are the days when Yes ramped up the tempos on stage as they used to do in ages past (see Yessongs as an example), but the fact that modern live tempos are slower than their live tempos from the 1970s does not mean that modern live tempos are slow compared to the studio recordings.  The other thing to note is that the band’s live tone and presentation on this album is consistent with what they have been largely doing since 1991’s Union tour (with exception of the 1994 Talk tour), which is to have a cleaner and warmer sound as opposed to the dirtier and aggressive live sound they had in the 1970s and 1980s.

I think the music as played on this tour sounds very much like the original studio versions of the songs, so there are not really very many new interpretations to report for the purposes of this review.  Their effort to sound like the album was even down to mimicking the fade out for “I’ve Seen All Good People,” to having a short guitar solo on “Yours is no Disgrace,” and to truncating the jam during the “Wurm” section concluding “Startship Trooper.”

For me, the biggest things to note are “A Venture” and “Awaken.”  “A Venture” is special, of course, as this tour is the only time this song has ever been performed live.  I always had a soft spot for that song and Yes, despite playing it a little conservative with the other songs, allowed Downes to stretch out the long extended piano solo fade out into a nice smooth jazz jam.  “Awaken” is a Yes epic classic and, for some, the true test of Downes’ worthiness as Yes’ keyboard player.  I have to say that he turns in an excellent performance all around, but he makes two decisions that I found to be a little disappointing.  The first is that he shortens the opening piano introduction a little for some inexplicable reason.  The second is his keyboard arrangement during Howe’s first guitar solo.  Wakeman’s keyboards are very active – as Wakeman tends to be generally anyway  – during this first part of the guitar solo.  Wakeman plays ascending and descending scales very quickly almost to double Howe’s fast runs on guitar, which, I think, makes this section sound even more frenetic and exciting.  By contrast, Downes opts not to play anything at all during this section in order to allow Howe to have the entire spotlight, and it gives this section a sound that is somewhat more sparse than to what one may be accustomed.  Conversely, however, during the second part of Howe’s solo, Wakeman’s playing becomes somewhat understated whereas Downes elects to play hard edged and rapidly played chords when Howe quickly swipes chords on guitar, to make his accompaniment of the solo in this section a lot more exciting and aggressive sounding than Wakeman’s arrangement.

The only other things notable with the songs is that there is no intro music – presumably because it segued into Close to the Edge, which is not included with this set – but instead there is low synthesizer drone that leads into “Going For the One.”  Finally, Downes plays a short intro to “Wonderous Stories” which does not appear on the album.

  • The Video (the DVD)

The video is of all of the songs and is an adequate document of the show.  The footage is reasonable and fun to watch, though I was a little disappointed in it for a few of reasons.  First, virtually none of the video images behind the band are visible, which is a shame since they had a good slide show on this tour.  As an aside, the DVD menu screen has a short montage that is the same as the one that opened the show.  The other thing I was disappointed about is the shaky camera work that happens from time to time when a mobile cameraman walks around doing close ups of the band.  Finally, the footage clearly favors Howe, who has the majority of screen time, followed by Davison, and then Squire.  Downes and White get the short shrift.

  • Possible Commentary

When the discs are inserted into the CD player on a computer the titles and artwork for the discs are not this album but are Going for the One and The Yes Album respectively.  I wonder if this is the current line-up’s subtle message telling fans that this is Yes and not a Yes line up of the past.  Some fans have expressed some consternation with the title of this album thinking it reflects some sign resignation by the band of their state and their line up.

  • Conclusion

As a live album, the album has a quality sound and is enjoyable to hear.  As a Yes live album, it is a very accurate document of where Yes is now in 2014 and what they sound like.  If someone is a fan of and/or enjoys the Yes of 2014, then this album is worth picking up and adding to one’s collection.  This album may help people on the fence about the Yes of 2014 to become fans as it shows truly good performances of classic Yes songs and reveals that this line up can hold its own with Yes’ classic line ups in the past.  Otherwise, if someone just cannot accept a singer other than Jon Anderson and/or cannot accept a keyboardist from the Buggles and/or Asia in Yes, then this album is not for you.

  • Packaging

The album is packaged as a digipak and the artwork is pictured below.  As one can see, the album artwork is standard Roger Dean work and also includes some quality photographs of the band.  As a funny aside, the photographs of the band found in the packaging as show below depict them playing material from Close to the Edge which was specifically not included in this set!

1218142223 1218142223a 1218142224 1218142224a 1218142224b 1218142225 1218142225a 1218142225b 1218142225c

Red Light Cameras to Go Dark in NJ

As my readers know, I have been writing about red light cameras for some time now and vocally opposing them.  I have written articles on the subject (see here and here) and blogged on it (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here) many times.

The latest news is that the Red Light Camera program in New Jersey came to an end on December 16, 2014.  Now, technically speaking, the cameras will still be taking pictures, for the time being, but no fines or tickets will be issued.  The suspicion is that Red Light Camera advocates will use the data of the ticket-less-cameras (which they presume will reveal the rise in traffic scofflaws due to the elimination of a ticket threat) to justify requesting Trenton to revive the program in the near future.

At this point, however, the program will more or less cease and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie seems disinclined to renew it despite the support for it shown by local municipalities.  It is worth noting that the local municipalities’ support for it is really due to the revenues that flow from the program which, in turn I would argue, reveal why the program must come to an end.  Traffic tickets are designed to help deter traffic scofflaws, they are not designed to be a revenue source, and as soon as they become a revenue source, the abuses found in red light camera programs across the country rear their ugly heads.

To read more on this, you can find a good article on the New Jersey program’s future here.  You can also read other articles on the New Jersey program here and here as well.

 

The War on Christmas is over. Jesus won.

This is from anglicansablaze.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“Kirk Cameron can breathe easy: the War on Christmas is over. Jesus won.

That’s the implication of a new Pew Research Center survey that finds nearly three-quarters of Americans — 73 percent — believe that Jesus was literally born to a virgin. This is especially surprising when you consider that only one third of Americans say that the Bible is the word of God and should be understood literally.

In other words, about 40 percent of Americans say the Bible should, in general, not be taken literally, but they nevertheless believe in the virgin birth. In addition, 81 percent say Jesus was laid in a manger, 75 percent say that the three wise men brought him gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh, and 74 percent say that his birth was announced by an angel to the shepherds.”

You can learn more about this issue here.

LAWYERS DESERVE RESPECT TOO

Check out Faye Cohen’s post to her blog Toughlawyerlady!

ToughLawyerLady

Recently a prominent female Philadelphia lawyer was quoted in a newspaper article about an equal pay settlement she had reached with her former law firm, stating that she would never encourage her daughter to become a lawyer. Her opinion surprised me because her career was commendable and encompassed practicing with a large national law firm, having a top position as a lawyer in local government, and starting and operating her own law firm. I don’t agree that law is a poor career choice for women, but it is definitely a difficult career which requires working long hours, suffering frequent stress, and sometimes receiving little gratitude from the very people lawyers try to help. As a result, it is important for lawyers to develop thick skins in order to receive the most job satisfaction from practicing law.

There are many areas of legal practice, and not all of them involve dealing…

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Catholicism and Wealth Redistribution

This is from practicaldistributism.blogspot.com which you can find here.

“Subsidiarity requires healthy and robust mediating bodies and institutions with important roles to play in preventing and correcting violations of commutative and distributive justice.  Calling simply for redistribution by the State violates the principle articulated by Pius XI: ‘Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do.'”

You can learn more about this issue here.

3 Religious Hurdles Ridley Scott’s ‘Exodus’ Must Overcome

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“When we began 2014–the ‘Year of the Bible‘ as it was called–many wondered whether religious audiences could carry films to financial success. With “Son of God” taking in nearly $60 million, “Noah” earning more than $100 million, and the insane success of “God’s Not Dead”, the answer is a resounding “yes.” But Hollywood will present conduct its final experiment on Friday when Ridley Scott’s ‘Exodus’ arrives in theaters.

In some ways, ‘Exodus’ hopes to strike a balance between the two poles of recent Bible films. “Son of God” was a wooden and overly literal adaptation of the Jesus story that captured traditionalist Christians but didn’t penetrate deeply into the general market. “Noah” captured non-religious audiences with an all-star cast, but the fanciful, less literal portrayal put off some religious watchers. With an estimated production budget of $140 million, “Exodus” can’t afford to lose either. But in order to win over believers in masse, the film will have to overcome three hurdles.”

You can learn more about this issue here.

The Musical Box: Genesis Recreated!

As my readers know, I am an enormous progressive rock fan.  Now, as all my readers also know, Yes is, by far, my favorite band (you can read more of my writing about Yes here), but my second favorite vacillates, depending on the day, between Genesis and King Crimson.

Now many of you, who may not be familiar with the history of Genesis, may be a little bewildered by the fact that a prog-rock fan would be a fan of Genesis, but that is likely because your contact with Genesis is only their 1980s material when Phil Collins was its lead singer.  Unbeknownst, unfortunately, to many people is that Genesis finds its origin in the late 1960s when Peter Gabriel was their lead singer for many years over several albums.  The Peter Gabriel-era of the band was one of the giant pioneers of the progressive rock movement and it is that music which makes me a Genesis fan.

Phil Collins joined Genesis for its third album, Nursery Cryme, as a drummer and backing vocalist.  To be fair to post-Gabriel Genesis, it is worth noting that it retained its prog rock credentials in full for two albums after Gabriel left, after which its long time guitar player Steve Hackett left.  Genesis made another album, …And Then There Were Three…, which had a lighter but still prog rock approach, but its subsequent album, Duke, was only about half prog rock, and after that the band pretty much left its prog rock roots behind, except for the occasional album track and some songs in live sets.

Aside from excellent music, Gabriel-era Genesis was known for Gabriel’s extravagant stage theatrics.  While the rest of the band was sitting still looking at their feet while expertly playing their instruments, Gabriel was all over the stage acting out the scenes and dialogue found in their music while wearing all manner of strange costumes (a sample of which you can see here), in front of psychedelic scenery.  Gabriel’s antics became the stuff of legend and made legions of dedicated fans.  Of course, the attention he got, sometimes at the expense of the rest of the band, due to his antics led to some discord between he and the rest of the band which, in part, resulted in his departure from the band.  Upon Gabriel’s departure, the band’s live performances became much more typical for a band playing arenas and, therefore, the crazy artistic live spectacle as an aspect of Genesis disappeared.

Of course, Genesis fans and/or progressive rock fans the world over were saddened by the loss of such unique and exciting stage performances, doubly so as no official videos survive from this era, and assumed that this era of Genesis was lost to history.

Suddenly, though, as if an answer to prayer, the band known as The Musical Box (“TMB”) (official website here) appeared in about 1993.  TMB has been called a tribute band but I do not think that moniker is entirely accurate as it seems rather incomplete considering what it does.  TMB is more than a tribute band.  It is a recreation band.  TMB does more than merely play old Genesis music.  It is more than merely inspired by Genesis.  TMB literally reproduces old Genesis concerts note for note and scene by scene, even down to the in-between song banter!  The musicians take on the roles of the members of Genesis as if they were actors.  The concerts TMB plays follows a set list – song by song – from one of the shows from a Genesis tour with Gabriel.  The mannerisms of the musicians playing the roles of the members of Genesis are replicated through the painstakingly tedious effort of combing through thousands of photographs and hours of footage to ensure they literally act and look like Genesis would have when it played a particular set on a particular tour and these songs originally, not to mention their use of authentic and vintage instruments from the Gabriel-era.  In addition, TMB also combs through hours of recordings to ensure that the inter-song dialogue during a TMB show reflects what the Genesis would have done.  Furthermore, Genesis and Gabriel have given TMB license and permission to use their scenery and stage sets and costuming in order to ensure that they can reproduce the complete Gabriel-era Genesis experience.  One of the features of a TMB tour book are side-by-side photographs of TMB and Genesis and, unless one has a keen eye, they are virtually indistinguishable.  TMB presents itself on stage not as band playing Genesis music but as Genesis itself.

Needless to say, as a prog rock and Genesis fan, I was disappointed at being much too young to have had opportunity to experience Genesis in its prime (let along with Gabriel), but when I discovered TMB – I admittedly was suspicious at first – I simply could not believe my eyes and ears.  TMB sounded and looked exactly like I expected Genesis would.  It was absolutely amazing and I truly felt like I can say I saw Genesis after I saw TMB.

My first time I saw TMB they were performing the Selling England By the Pound tour on February 26, 2004 (which is when the photos below were taken) and I was transfixed.  I have seen hundreds of concerts and this concert still stands out as one of the greatest concerts I have ever seen, from the music, the scenery, costuming, and presentation.  In short, it was amazing.  My wife, who was then my girlfriend, attended this show with me.  She was being a good sport and attending various prog rock concerts with me at this time in our relationship.  This was our last of these concerts together.  I will never forget that moment, at the beginning of the show, when “Peter Gabriel” appears in bat wings with incandescent face paint around his eyes glowing in front of a black light to introduce the classic show opener “Watcher of the Skies.”  What was happening on the stage put her over the edge and she turned to me and said “this is it, I’ve had enough, I am not going to any more of these concerts.”

Since then I have also seen TMB perform the Selling England By the Pound a second time (at NEARFest 2004, see here), the Foxtrot tour show (three times, two normal and one black where all of the props and instruments were painted incandescent black), and the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour show (twice).  The most recent time I saw TMB was at Yestival in 2013 when they played the Foxtrot tour set.

Whenever I get a chance I try and see TMB and I highly encourage you to do so too!  This band is very protective of its (due to the nature of the shows) so the “no photographs” rule is strictly enforced.  I have only really been able to get a good picture of the set up once on February 26, 2004 (the Selling England By the Pound Tour show described above) at the Keswick in Glenside, PA.  The photographs from that show are below for you to check out.

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It’s High Time White Christians Listen to our Black Brothers and Sisters

Here is an article by Jonathan Merritt in On Faith & Culture regarding the recent police shootings and how he thinks white Christians ought to approach these issues.  He provides very interesting and thought provoking perspectives and it is worth checking out here.

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