Andrew Clem blog home

Clockwise, from top left: Blackfriar's Theater in Staunton, VA, home of the American Shakespeare Center; National Cathedral in Guatemala City; church near Volin, SD; engraved stellae at ruins of Copan, Honduras; folk musicians in La Paz, Bolivia.

Culture and Travel montage shadow

Culture-related pages:

Travel photos

Religious blogs & sites

Local drama & music

Other Web links


My favorite movies

  1. Casablanca
  2. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  3. Raising Arizona
  4. Fargo
  5. Shawshank Redemption
  6. Field of Dreams
  7. Bull Durham
  8. Fiddler on the Roof
  9. Patton
  10. Bananas
  11. Fort Apache: The Bronx
  12. Broadcast News

July 18, 2015 [LINK / comment]

Fleetwood Mac in concert!

Jacqueline and I went to the Fleetwood Mac concert at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville last March, and it fully lived up to our expectations. We were worried because they had postponed two recent appearances because one band member was not well. I was impressed by how energetic the players were, including keyboard-vocalist Christine McVie, who rejoined the group after a multi-year "hiatus." She is not as flamboyant as some of the other members, but her presence added a lot. Of course, Stevie Nicks was the lead vocalist on most songs, and not only did she perform well, she related some personal anecdotes about how she came to join the group back in 1975. It was all because of Lindsey Buckingham, a guitar virtuoso recruited by group leaders John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. He said he wouldn't join without Stevie, and just a few months later, Stevie's vocals on the song "Rhiannon" turned the group into superstars.

As a (very) amateurish guitar player, I have long been a fan of Lindsey Buckingham, whose playing technique is astounding. Somehow he generates a big, loud sound on electric guitar without a pick, simply using his fingernails the pluck strings. I can do a fair imitation of "Never Going Back Again," and I'm trying to learn "Big Love," but it is extremely challenging. When he did those songs, I was simply mesmerized. Buckingham talked about his personal struggles, making it clear that the once-widespread notion that drugs help with the creative process is, as he put it, "bullshit."

John McVie remained very passive throughout the concert, and Mick Fleetwood did one lengthy drum solo, very well of course. At the very end of the concert, he gave a little talk that was almost like a sermon. "Be kind to one another." Since he and the others are getting up in years, this may have been a farewell performance. One song I didn't recognize, so it may be a new one. Here's the set list, from the notepad I brought with me:

  1. The Chain
  2. You Make Lovin' Fun
  3. Dreams
  4. Second Hand News
  5. Rhiannon *
  6. Everywhere
  7. ???
  8. Tusk
  9. Sister of the Moon
  10. Say You Love Me
  11. Big Love *
  12. Landslide *
  13. Never Going Back Again *
  14. Over My Head
  15. Gypsy
  16. Sweet Little Lies
  17. Gold Dust Woman *
  18. I'm So Afraid
  19. Go Your Own Way *
  20. World Turning
  21. Don't Stop *
  22. Silver Spring

* = video. The three songs after "Go Your Own Way" were the encore.

Fleetwood Mac concert

Fleetwood Mac in concert, playing the song "Over My Head": in the foreground Christine McVie on the keyboards and as lead vocal (see video monitor), John McVie on bass to her left, Lindsey Buckingham on guitar, Mick Fleetwood on drums to his right, and Stevie Nicks as backing vocalist.

John Paul Jones Arena

John Paul Jones Arena before the concert. Roll your mouse over the image to see the stage.

External view of the main entrance (west) of John Paul Jones Arena before the concert.

Music page update

I updated the Music page with this concert. There is also a partial discography of the studio albums of my six favorite groups: the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, and Kansas.

June 30, 2015 [LINK / comment]

If it's Tuesday, this must be Bridgewater*

Gradually, I have been getting caught up with various tasks after what had to have been the busiest four months of my life. In early December I accepted an offer to teach two courses at Sweet Briar College** for the spring semester, the third time I had done so. (I had previously taught there during the 2007-2008 academic year, and in the fall of 2013.) I planned to continue teaching at Central Virginia Community College, but with perhaps two sections rather than three.

But then just before Christmas, I became aware of an opening at Bridgewater College for the spring semester. Since the subject was right up my alley (Latin American Politics), I leaped at the opportunity, and was soon hired. That obviously conflicted with my schedule at CVCC, and I let them know that I would not be available to teach courses there, unless the 8:00 AM section (in the Amherst off-campus center) was shifted from Tuesday-Thursday to Monday-Wednesday, in which case I might teach just that one section. I was hoping that they could find someone else to teach that section, but that was not the case, so agreed to teach at CVCC again, along with Sweet Briar and Bridgewater.

I knew what I was getting into, and I committed myself 110 percent to doing the very best I could, leaving my other pursuits (baseball, birds, and politics) largely by the wayside. It required a huge amount of preparation work, and I was often up until 2:00 AM or later preparing PowerPoint (or Keynote) presentations for the next day's classes. But it was also the difficulty of maintaining an appropriate state of mind while I shifted from one institution to the other. Believe me, it gets confusing keeping track of which class and which college I'm at on any given day of the week!

* Hence the title above, which is an allusion to a humorous travel-themed movie from 1968, If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium. (See

But all kidding aside, I had a great experience teaching at Bridgewater for the first time. It is a liberal arts college affiliated with the Church of the Brethren, which upholds traditional Christian values of a simple lifestyle and peace. There are about 1,800 students enrolled full time.( That's over twice as big as Sweet Briar College, but it's still small enough for administrators, staff people, and faculty members to get along on a friendly basis. Everyone I met there was extremely helpful. As for the students in my class, I was very impressed by their overall quality, and the serious attitude toward learning shown by many of them.

Perhaps inevitably, there were one or two times when my frantic schedule got the best of me, and I would be the first to admit that I often just could not be at my best. Fortunately, the students were understanding, by and large, and I think they got a lot out of the class. I showed a five-minute video of the trip to Peru that Jacqueline and I took in 2004, but it was mostly about wild birds there. (Unfortunately, the longer video I produced is on a video CD, a format that is not compatible with most computers or DVD players.) From my perspective, being able to refresh my lecturing in Latin American Politics was extremely helpful. As part of my preparations for class, I updated a number of my Latin American Web pages with names of presidents and political parties, but most of the individual country Web pages are still woefully outdated. Next time I teach that subject, I'll have the information on those pages much more current.

Bridgewater College

The Bridgewater College baseball (out)field, with Flory Hall (where my Latin American Politics class met) beyond. (April 23)

My biggest regret was not finding the time to attend a Bridgewater College baseball game. I went over to the field a couple times, one of which was before a game that was rained out. Many more photos of Sweet Briar and Bridgewater can be seen on the Spring 2015 photo gallery page.

** NOTE: I will have more to say about the stunning announcement of the closure of Sweet Briar College, and its recent tentative re-opening, in a separate blog post soon.


NOTE: Some contents of this section have been or will be moved to a separate page (Music) which is "under construction."

My favorite groups

  1. The Eagles (1980, 2008)
  2. Fleetwood Mac
  3. Beatles
  4. Rolling Stones (2005)
  5. The Police (2007)
  6. Ozark Mountain Daredevils (1974)
  7. Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young
  8. Led Zeppelin
  9. Kansas (1979) (also see Kerry Livgren)
  10. U2

(Years in parentheses denote concerts I have seen, with blog links for concerts in recent years.) I play several songs from each of the above groups on guitar.

Musical instruments

I play the following instruments:

Guitar 1969 Advanced
Piano 1988 Beginner
Charango 2004 Beginner
Harmonica 2012 Intermediate

Latin American folk music

This table of charango chords is based on a pamphlet that came with the charango I bought in Cuzco, Peru in March 2004. A charango is a very small ten-stringed instrument with a rounded body, roughly comparable to a ukelele but with a much richer, almost haunting tone. The numbers correspond to, respectively,
the index finger (1),
the middle finger (2),
the ring finger (3), and
the little finger (4).

Charango chords

Major world languages

Language 2002
Chinese * 874 # 1,213
Spanish * 322 329
English * 341 328
Arabic ? 221
Hindi 366 # 182
Bengali 207 181
Portuguese 176 178
Russian * 167 144
Japanese 125 122
German 100 90

# : 2004 data for Chinese pertained only to Mandarin speakers, whereas data for Hindi speakers were defined more broadly.
Asterisks (*) denote the official languages of the United Nations, which also includes French (68 million speakers).

SOURCE: The World Almanac and Book of Facts, 2004 & 2012

I speak Spanish, some Portuguese, and have dabbled in German, French, Italian, Russian, Catalan, and Quechua.

Major world religions

Religion 2002
Christians 2,038 2,281
Muslims 1,226 1,553
Hindus 828 943
Chinese folk 389 454
Buddhists 364 463
Sikhs 24 24
Jews 14 15
Local, other 32 379
Non-religious 925 798

The obvious discontinuities in the last two lines of data are of uncertain origin.

SOURCE: The World Almanac and Book of Facts, 2004 & 2012

I belong to the Episcopal Church and am annoyed at the recent polarization. According to a Theology quiz, I scored as a "Classical Liberal."

Ten Commandments

  1. Worship ONE God only
  2. No graven images
  3. No taking God's name in vain
  4. Keep Sabbath day holy
  5. Honor parents
  6. No stealing
  7. No murder
  8. No adultery
  9. No bearing false witness
  10. No coveting what others have

Seven deadly sins

  1. Pride
  2. Covetousness
  3. Lust
  4. Anger
  5. Gluttony
  6. Envy
  7. Sloth

Proverbs 6: 16-19

There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:

haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies,
and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

Romans 12: 17, 21

Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.

Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.

Serenity Prayer

Reinhold Niebuhr was a leading theologian of the mid-20th Century, and often wrote about foreign policy from a "Christian realist" perspective. From

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.