Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sweeney Todd Review

I’ve decided that Johnny Depp is too cool to see on the big screen with your wife. There isn’t much chance of cuddling while maestro Depp is captivating every diet-coke slurping female in a 60-foot radius. Oh well.

Pre-thoughts:

I have to be honest, I haven’t really liked a musical made into a film since the Sound of Music and the Golden era of movie-musicals. (The producers, the ONLY exception. “Yessssssssssssssssss…ssss…sssss?” Friggin hilarious.) It’s not like I go into musicals made into movies hoping they will be bad. I’m much too poor to waste money like that. They just kinda don’t do much for me. Yes that includes that over dramatic two-hour music video “Dream Girls.” It bored my butt numb. (However, I have since recanted my judgment on Beyonce and declare that she was a slightly better actor than Jennifer Hudson. No excuse for her attitude post Jennifer-mania, but she was definitely under-credited for her work there. And Jennifer Hudson beating all of those other actors out for the academy award was laughable.)

Review

Happily, Sweeney Todd was another exception. It was a darn good adaptation in my opinion. Theater snobs will disagree, and I can sympathize, but overall, it was a well-crafted, exhilarating flick.

The Gist:

You’re a famous barber in England back when people still traveled by ship and used oil lamps, and the sun never shines and fog is everywhere, all the time. The one day it does shine, a rich Judge steals your wife after he wrongfully accuses you of something and sends you to jail. The judge then steals your baby daughter and raises her himself. (Wait a second... that kinda sounds like Zorro...) Anyways, You return from the clink in fifteen years looking like you’ve been injected with skunk and zombie gene therapy and sing a little bit about it in a brooding monotone. Then you begin a new career as a throat-slashing barber. But that’s not enough. You enlist the landlady to grind the leftover corpses and bake them in her meat pies and sell them to the corrupt city. Eventually you get even with the judge that janked your wife, and much blood is spewed. - The rest I’ll let you see for yourself.

Things I loved:

One of the things that I loved about Depp’s performance was that the transition from speech to song was seamless. It never seemed like he was setting up for a song. I hate that in modern day movie-musicals. On stage it’s different. Set up all you want. It is a part of the show, part of the magic. But transferred to film, it’s just comes off as cornballoramma punch. My thumb immediately moves to the fast-forward button. Not so with Depp in Sweeny. It just happened. That magic was part Depp and part Burton. However, the biggest part of the magic-credit belongs to Sondheim.

Sondheim is a genius. No if ands or buts. I practically flipped during some of that music. An embarrassing note: In a recent conversation with a producer here in the city, I made the mistake in referring to Sondheim in the past tense. Yep, I thought Sondheim was dead. Derr. I thought the man was going to smack me then and there. He demanded that I cross myself and say a prayer for his buddy Sondheim’s health. “He better not be dead, I just talked to him this yesterday and he’s excited about the movie.” You can’t imagine the me-stupid look on my face.)

Cinematography: I suppose I could sum-up the film’s overall look in a few sentences. Sweeney Todd is Edward Scissor-hands meets Sleepy Hollow. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Oh yeah, tack on about 876975 quarts of blood and a couple hundred “meat” pies.

Allan Rickman was awesome as usual. (Btw, has anyone seen Galaxy Quest? One of my favorite Allan Rickman flicks.)

The little orphan boy was the best singer of the lot and he was a pretty great little actor too. He’s probably the only one in the whole flick who could actually have Broadway career.

Borat was hilarious as the competing barber. I’m glad to see Sacha Baron Cohen is starring in some “serious” movies. After seeing his performance in Sweeney, I predict a possible Academy Award nomination outta' that guy in the next 7 years, if the right part comes along. Just something about him.

Finally, most of all, I loved the song “Joanna.” I think it might be one of the most beautiful songs in all theater lit. It is just flat-out beautiful. I’ve been singing it since I saw it. It is my wife’s favorite theater song, and that’s saying a lot.

Things I didn’t love:


Sweeny’s daughter’s voice. She sounded like my grandma’s best friend singing a bunch of hymns I’ve never heard of. Her voice was tiny, pinched, and wobbly. The kind of voice where you want to like the effort, and smile at the heart behind it, but most of all you just want it to stop. I hate to be too mean but it was really a little unnerving to listen to her. I can’t imagine the hours the sound editors spent in front of pro tools working with auto-tune to correct the wobbleizations. You could jump-rope through the vibrato frequencies.


Verdict: A- Good flick. Go see it if you like Burton movies, Johnny Depp, and or Sondheim. Plug your ears during the daughter's song. For the love of God, don’t take your little kids to it, or your Grandma just because it’s a musical. It is bloody I tell ya. Also bloody good.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Not Too Shabby

One of the things that I hate about NYC is that nobody seems to know a tootin' blasted thing about Sweet Tea. What the crap? You can't even find "ICED" tea bags at the grocery store. How in the world did this city get so popular without sweet tea is a complete mystery to me. Every time I ask somebody at a restaurant if their establishment sells sweet tea they look at me like I just grew a butt on my forehead.

HOWEVER!! I have found a decent substitute. And it's about dagnabit time. I bought this on a whim thinking I would be horribly disappointed by the normal revolting aftertaste that comes with ALLLLLLL canned or bottled sweet tea. Honestly, I don't know how anybody can drink that crappy, nappy, over-lemoned-to-mask-the-chemicals "TEA" that comes via the fountain in all the Subways and fast food restaurants north of the mason-Dixon line. Whenever the zombies working behind the counter at the fast food joints slip that junk in my drink without me knowing, I turn flat-out non-Christian.

So here it is. I would even suggest you go out and try it if you see it at a gas station. I usually pour in two packets of splenda to sweeten it to my liking and that does the trick.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fullness of Time: Greece and the Birth of Liberty.

After Adam fell, the spiritual pendulum swung far and low into the dregs of idolatry. Whatever knowledge or ritual Adam passed down to his offspring about God eventually deteriorated into only a sinister, shadowy, distorted version of the truth. Adam surrendered his dominion over the world and his offspring to the devil and God allowed it. So God let the disease of sin run its course and the devil threw a party. Religion transformed into a devilish carnival throughout the world. In some cultures children were sacrificed to appease an angry idol while in others, beating hearts were torn from the warm chests of screaming men to placate the gods that brought rain to their crops. The atrocities are even worse but I’ll spare you stories about young boys raised for the purpose of being raped to death as a reward to the tribe’s returning hunting party. And all that was AFTER the flood.

Then, finally, at the bottom of the pendulum, amidst the filth, God appeared to the Abraham and a new nation was born. His true character was revealed again, His covenant established, and man’s redemption set in motion. But the road of the Jews was not one of blissful evangelism. It was a hard and harsh road filled with disobedience and discipline. Somehow, they handled it better than all of the rest of human kind would have. The law was preserved the line was unbroken. And that is why they were chosen.

But what about the rest of humanity? Eventually the pendulum swung out of the mire and excrement and as close as it could to knowing the God of the universe on its own, peaking about four-hundred years before the birth of Christ in the city of Athens.

What was so miraculous about the Greeks?

Well, it all began somewhere in the rough and rugged terrain of ancient Greece when man’s mind turned from dwelling on death, to dwelling on life and something new was born of this: Play.

The Greeks were the first people to really play and play they did. It sounds strange but it is true. The Egyptians didn’t truly play for the sake of play. If they did, there is nothing to notate or show evidence of it. There were a few Egyptian contests to be sure, but the contests served a purpose and the loser often lost his life, or his testicles. The stark contrast between Egyptian and Grecian play can be summed up with a quote from a Egyptian priest to great Athenian, “Solon, Solon, you Greeks are all children.”

All over Greece there were games, all sorts of games; athletic contests of every description: races – horse, boat, foot, torch-races; contests in music, where one side out-sung the other; in dancing – on greased skins to see who would fall on their butts; a game of balance of body; games where men leaped in and out of flying chariots… and the list goes on. And I mean ON. (Check it out sometime… stuff like “dancing flutists competition.” Waaaay cooler than American Idol in my opinion.) The greatest honor in Greece of course went to the Olympic victor. The Olympian victors were absolute heroes.

When Greece died, the spirit of their games died with them and lay dormant for hundreds of years. The brutal, bloody games of the Romans that replaced them had nothing to do with the Greek spirit of play. It was from the Roman idea of play that Christians were fed to lions and gladiators were bread to murder each other. This was not Greek. To be Greek was to rejoice in life. The joy of life is written in everything the Greeks left behind. Even in their great tragedies they show this. It is the depressed and numb-minded that cannot both greatly rejoice and greatly sorrow in life. The Greeks knew all too well the brevity of life and how little time we have to enjoy the wonders of the world and their tragedies reflected this. The old Greek definition of happiness goes something like this: “The exercise of vital powers in a life affording them scope.” It is a philosophy that is abounding with the joy of living.

In Greece, individual liberty was born. No man was a slave in Greece. Somewhat common today, but NOT common then. The rich didn’t rule Greece or the priests, it was ruled by law and even the law was questioned and refined for the good of all. The Egyptian priest said, “Thus far and no further, we set the limits to thought.” The Greeks said, “All things are to be examined and called into question. There are no limits set to thought.” It is astounding that in Greece alone, the Priest played no role of real importance in governing the society. The Greek priests had their temples and sacrificial rites, but other than that, they were told to mind their own damn business. Men and gods fought the Trojan War with no intermediaries. The Greek never went to a priest for guidance. If he wanted to know something he went to Plato, not to the castrated priest.


The Greeks were the first intellectualists, the first philosophers.
Our word for school comes from the Greek word for leisure. To the Greek man who was afforded some R & R, what else would he do but spend his time “finding out” about things? To chill out was to learn. Today for leisure, our children eat tater tots and watch cartoons, right beside their parents.

The Greeks were the first to call their healers physicians. The Greeks used their minds in a way that engaged nature and learned from it, rather than looking for an outside source to intervene combined with a strange concocted potion of crap and piss. (Real remedy used by Egyptians.) The Greeks were the first scientists and all modern day science goes back to them. The Greeks dared to look into the face of superstition and set their minds to it. Sure Galileo can be commended for his “humanist” ventures, but his lonely and brave venture pales in comparison to what the Greeks accomplished. They were the master of none and were free to think in a way that is hardly rivaled today here in America. For instance, imagine the turnout to a play during WWII where Roosevelt was portrayed as a power-hungry goofball and Uncle Sam were portrayed as a stupid oaf. Exactly that happened when Greece was fighting for its life and pro- and anti- war alike showed up and loved it. To think free was to be free.

Socrates drinking his hemlock was the one exception in all of Greek history, but he was an old man by then and had spoke his mind his whole life and Athens had just gone through a bitter defeat, rapid change of government, and the people basically panicked as they always do for a patsy. But even then, a small majority only charged Socrates and Plato went on teaching in his name and honored for it. Socrates was the only man to suffer death for his views. Three others were exiled from the country and that’s it. That’s the whole list of people that were persecuted for their views compared to the gazillions who are killed, beaten, and tortured in the last five hundred years alone. Never before or since has a whole culture and country welcomed learning and liberty, as the Greeks, not even in the Renaissance, and no, not even America.

And it was just at this time,
when mankind was at his peak and most likely to understand and grasp what God would demonstrate, the Messiah came into the world through the virgin womb of a young Jewish girl surrounded by a dark and dank cave in the city of David.

Next up: The Jews.

(Sidenote and sucker-punch: The current trend to de-hellenize Christianity is bunk and reeks of Gen X crybaby-I-long-for-significance syndrome. You can no more de-hellenize the New Testament, and especially Paul and the Gospel of John, then you could demoralize or "de-God" the Constitution.)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Fullness of Time: Egypt - the Power of the Priests

In researching for this series, I've realized that this topic is a tad gargantuan and it's going to be nearly impossible to survey every single religion at the time of the Incarnation and then comprehensively fit it into a blog, but I think we can at least take a gander at the biggies. (Feel free to add your own insight and thoughts. It is a learning experience for me and like all good nerds, I live to learn.)

At the time of the Lord's coming there were three religions of significance. Each religion was primed and ready and contributed to the rapid spread of the Gospel afterwards. The three dominant religions of the time were Egyptian, Greek and Judaism. (There were many, many others, but these are the three critical to the Gospel's unfurling.) Judaism was no where near as large or as the other two, but it was most certainly as strong and rich in tradition. The first I'll tackle will be the Egyptians. By the time of the Incarnation, Egypt was a Roman state, but the religion still held its people.

To understand Egyptian religion is to understand the importance of two things: The afterlife, and priests. Sounds pretty similar to us huh? Not really.

For the Egyptians, death was paramount in all their thinking, daily life and religion. All Egyptian art is centered around death and the fear of death. It's pretty cool to look at now, but it must have been a pretty miserable existence to live during that time. The amount of suffering that went in to building that civilization is unimaginable. It wasn't just the slaves who lived on a narrow margin of safety either. There is a famous epitaph of an Egyptian noble that boasts that he had never been beaten or whipped in front of the local magistrate. It was pretty common for everyone to be whacked or smacked, publicly in Egypt. If you made it through your short life (30-45) without being whipped, you were really something. Little value was placed upon the living. In such conditions, men, seeing little hope in the suffering of their present state, turned to the afterlife.

As a result, there were no great works of philosophy coming out of Egypt at the time. Why would they turn to their reasoning if it gave them no relief from the pain of their present? The mind and spirit of the Egyptian was enslaved.

In Egypt, the domain of the reasoning belonged to the priests alone. Today, popular movies depict the Pharaohs as the most powerful men in Egypt. But it was the priests who held the real power, and their power was tremendous. Kings were subject to it. And as you might guess, the priests guarded that power jealously. To the Egyptian priests, the notion of a people thinking for themselves was nothing less than catastrophic. For to be ignorant was to be afraid, and the only way to ever really rule or control man was through fear. There was only one Pharaoh who ever challenged their authority. His name was Akhenaton. Astoundingly, Akhenaton tried to turn Egypt into a monotheistic religion. But after he died, the priests took possession of his successor and wiped his name from the monuments.

So even though the Egyptian religion has been popularized in our film culture by fun summer movies, it was no joke to the everyday Egyptian. To live in Egypt was to live in a virtual misery and fear. The afterlife was the only hope you had, and the afterlife was carefully guarded by the Priests, who just happened to be the ones at the top causing all the suffering.

In short, life in Egypt sucked. No sense in romanticizing it. It sucked. Bigtime. Period. (Compared to the way we think and live today.) Unless of course, you were a priest. It is no wonder Christianity spread like a wind across its conquered remains. The wikipedia's only explanation for Christianity's rapid spread is to say the Christ resembled one of their gods and that Christ himself was a mythical person. I was astounded to read this in the Wikipedia. Christ as a mythical person is a theory that no noted historian takes seriously. It is nothing short of conspiracy theory. But somehow, it seems to be the author's only explanation:

"Egyptian mythology put up surprisingly little resistance to the spread of Christianity, sometimes explained by claiming that Jesus was originally a syncretism based predominantly on Horus, with Isis and her worship becoming Mary and veneration (see Jesus as myth)."

Nice try. I have a different take on why Christianity spread.

Next up: The Greeks.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Scary Santa


Pictures and music compiled by yours truly for your viewing pleasure. I thought the pics of these kids were pretty funny.

Score is a combo of Jaws, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, Crumb's Black Angels and Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Proud Husband Alert: A Pic of Amber and the Rest of the Cast in NY Times.





She's the the first girl from right to left, beneath the guy with the round hat!

No Country for Old Men: Unabridged Review

There is this quote about Franz Liszt that someone said after hearing him perform.

“Liszt fears God but loves the Devil.” I kept thinking of this line throughout the Cohen Brother’s latest and greatest film, “No Country for Old Men.”

The gist: A Mexican drug deal goes wrong in the desert and everybody kills each other. The man who escapes with the money only makes it a mile away and dies under a tree. Josh Brolin plays the protagonist, and stumbles onto scene of desert carnage while hunting. He finds the money and claims it. Enter evil. Javier Bardem plays Anton Chigurh and looks like some apache warrior who has returned from the grave. Scary and fascinating. Like all great villains, Chigurh needs a unique weapon to kill. Chigurh uses a tank of compressed air that farmers use to kill cattle. It blasts a metal cylinder into their heads and whips it back again. Chigurh spends the film tracking Josh down like a slow-killing cancer. And that’s all the plot I think I’ll give you. Go see it.

Overall impression: There are so many astonishing things about this film that it is hard to find a jumping point. Sort of like the cat thrown into the box with a bunch of mice and tries to paw them all and catches none.

Acting: For starters –

Tommy Lee Jones. Crap, what an actor. And what a voice. That opening line is chilling and magnificently delivered. Some people have the gift when it comes to narration, Morgan Freeman (Shawshank), Anthony Hopkins (anything)… they are born with voices that are nothing short of hypnotic. His opening narration sets us up for the fascinating evil that is to come. His timing is that of an artist. He’s also blessed with getting to read fantastic writing. (McCarthy… nice to meet you, I’m your newest fan. I shall be running to the store to buy your books now.) In this film we find Tommy Lee in the role he was born to play: An old, tired, frayed, calloused, bitter, humorous, lonely, a little confused, but completely trustworthy sheriff. (He’s played that in other roles, but NEVER like this, tinged with fear and so vulnerable.) He is humanity, surveying its own atrocities. He is the good who not only fights the bad, but hates, fears and is ashamedly fascinated by it.

SPOILER ALERT! Skip this next paragraph if you don’t want to know an important surprise.


Josh Brolin was great as well as the protagonist. He is our greedy side. He is us on the verge of temptation and fault. Finally, his greed and arrogance kills him. And it comes from the worst way: cheating on his wife. His end is a post-modern twist that I actually LIKED. The hero is flawed, and is killed for his flaw. His love of money, and his inability to stay faithful ultimately are his end. It was one of my favorite moments in the film. I was totally caught off guard.

The Villain. Good lord what a villain. I don’t think there possibly has been a better villain in a movie since Darth Vader. Most villains these days are irrational, grotesque, monsters who we only fear because we don’t want to get chopped up or shot, caught off guard by them while we are on the crapper or asleep in bed.

Great villains are those who embody evil, but are equipped with such rationale, power and character that you love and hate at the same time. He is pure evil, but as we all know, the purest evil is nothing less than enticing. Pure evil plays virtuosically upon what is good and true, giving us all the smells of the good through a magnified sensory lens, but then when we take a bite, we are starving. (Read Nietzsche’s The Antichrist for a taste of what the devil would sound like if he wrote a book.)

The villain in No Country for Old Men is principled. He is powerful and resourceful. He is hypnotic and scary as hell. So hypnotic, you don’t want him to be good. Unlike other villains, he isn’t crazy at all. He loves himself above all things and loves his principles. He even gives some a chance to live. But he does it only as purely evil person would do; he leaves it to chaos. He flips a coin, and lets chance decided their fate. In this way, he is the ultimate enemy of free will. He mocks it. And man loves and hates free will. We want God to do everything for us and we hate screwing up, but immediately after our prayers, and promises of surrender, we turn around and to fight God to the death for that great, miraculous thing as complex and awe-inspiring as the starry sky above us – choice.

The cinematography and editing was stunning. Intense action sequences, suspenseful moments that would have made Hitchcock bite his nails, and cold and beautiful moments of repose. Like when both Chigurh and Tommy Lee sit in the same spot on a couch at different times and stare at their reflection into a television monitor, and drink from the same milk jug. That was just cool as crap.

In my opinion, the Cohen Brothers have established themselves among the great filmmakers of all time. Fargo opened the door; No Country for Old Men pushed them through it and into the front row.

The Cohen Brothers paint a broad strokes across each of their films, whether it be the consistency of color in O Brother Where art Thou, to “Okay Then” and thematic transformation of the music in Raising Arizona, (One of my all-time favorite flicks. See scene where H.I. is being chased through grocery store. Listen to music throughout that scene. Just hilarious genius.) And they’ve caught hell because of it as their peers and critics have called it affected. But here the broad stroke is genius: the sparseness of a film score. A hard thing to pull off. But they did it. The score was hardly noticeable, if even there. I can't remember. The effect was chilling.

Verdict: Not a cuddly date movie, but movie I will watch many, many more times and learn something new about myself every time. That is, when it comes out on DVD 'cause seein' a movie in NYC is TWELVE FRIGGIN BUCKS A POP. Talk about evil...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

.3 degrees of Pink

It's a pretty day here in the city. It's cold but people are out shopping with their kids. We slept in today and it felt reeeeeeeally good. I arose sleepily but happily to get Amber some shampoo and snag some coffee from the Bux. In my groggy state I forgot that there are some laws in the universe that cannot be broken or bent, with any known technology. Because of this, women should protect their men from trying these daunting and dangerous ventures. Husbands can do many things. We are hunter-gatherers. We fight off mountain lions, we assail high and hostile mountain peaks, we vanquish every level that can be made in Halo... However, the sad fact remains: The shampoo makers design the bottles to confuse the weaker sex and succeed they do. Yes, we saunter in and look for colors. Colors we know. Blue sky, white mountain peak, red Mustang, chrome Macintosh, black ipod... But for some reason, in the case of shampoo bottles, we enter into the quantum realm. A house of mirrors that dizzies our wearied souls. Such a seemingly simple task...

I take a quick look at the shampoo bottle at home, it's pink. I go to the drugstore, quickly scan the bottles for the same name and color. Doo doo doo, doo doo doo...

Name brand! Check!

Color, pink, check!

Done! Conquered! I jump, I skip. I proclaim, "Much hugging and smooching from hot wife shall be mine!"

Mission accomplished. I go home, jogging along through the streets like a happy Golden Retriever with a big knotty stick in my mouth.

Enter apartment. Unhappy wife, check. No smooching.

Therefore, I hereby declare that men should be discouraged from this task, or all shampoo bottles of different types should be different colors.

Hang on, hang on… This just in. the shampoo bottles in question apparently ARE different colors, just different SHADES of PINK. Thanks.

I’m sorry, I’m sorry. No. They must be entirely different in color AND shape. Can I get an Amen fellas?

The designers of the shampoo bottles, though they me be men of the “light-in-the-loafers” variety must be notified immediately that normal, everyday, heterosexual, boot-wearing dudes, cannot discern the subtle differences and nuances in shampoo bottle architecture. Heretofore, vis a vis, concordantly. Thank you.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Et tu Frankie?

Lots of Non-Christian Christmas Carols here in NYC. It doesn't really make sense. It kinda sounds like one big fat oxymoron to me. Christ...mas?? So all the Frankie songs are piping through the airwaves while I'm eating chili at the soup stop, or while I'm eating a Rueben on Rye at Arti's Deli, and they'll sing: "Have a Holly Jolly Christ...mas...” or, it's all about "the nuts on an open fire." Chestnuts, Pine nuts, hazelnuts, pistachio nuts... (quick, quick, name the movie.) but no Bing Crosby or Frankie singing Silent Night, or other Christmas classics. You'd think that roasting the chestnut was the single most important discovery in the history of man. Come on, even the old Jewish Crooners new the value of those melodic classics and cashed in big-time recording and singing them like they wuz ready for carol hour with Billy Graham and fam. It was a happy marriage of celebration and capitalism there if you ask me.

And don't give me that crap about the Christians stealing the date from the Romans. I mean, a show of hands... Who misses good old Mithra after the Catholic Church Christianized the twenty-fifth of December a few THOUSAND years ago?

I know, I know, not everyone is a Christian, and believes that "Christ the savior is bo-oooorn," but lets face it, it's mostly Jewish folk in these here parts and why sing "Christmas" in your chestnut carols and not just go ahead and go the whole way, and embrace the whole fun of the season. I know, I know... you don't believe Jesus was the Messiah, but can't you just listen to the pretty music, and think of it as... wishful thinking or something? Can I get an Amen? Or a Mazel Tov???

p.s. It's snowing again.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Super Churchlady and Co.


My friend the Super Churchlady has a blog. She, her husband, a.k.a. "The Hammerin' Hebrew," and her two kids Jack & Mer are some of my favorite people in the world. They are really like family to Amber and I and I can't say more about that, lest I choken sie up...

However, a few things must be said...

The Hammerin' Hebrew is a lawyer who has kicked much legal butt in Houston and abroad. He is also Jewish, but acts like a Christian, or at least how a Christian should act. He also thinks theologically like a Christian (understands Romans) and goes to Sunday School like a Christian. However, he maintains that he has not made the leap no matter how hard we've tried to stick a trampoline in his path, or how much bacon we try to sneak into his gravy. Did I mention that he is the best golfer that I have ever seen in person?

Super Churchlady is an lawyer turned full-time mom/BSF leader/Sunday School teacher, and if you are ever in Sugarland Texas, you gotta drop by the college Sunday School class at WTBC and learn learn learn. She is one sharp cookie, and when you throw Lawyer-Super Churchlady into a New Testament jar with Lawyer-Hammerin' Hebrew and give it a shake, the result is a scriptural fireworks display of prophetic proportions. Hammerin' knows his Torah and Churchlady knows who the Torah is pointing to and how to bring it home. (HA! A little friendly trash talk there H.H.)

Anywho, Superchurchlady just wrote a blog on what its like watching her kids grow up.


Drop by and welcome her to the blogosphere!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Kitten Model, Work it, Love it.


By the way, I know the man who invented the technology to show videos on blogs and websites and such. Am I wrong Hammerin' Hebrew??? No, I'm not talking about Kip, Napoleon's brother.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Getting Colder

It is most certainly getting colder up here. Today I froze 73% of my butt off. I imagine that in a month or so the other 27 % percent will be frozen as well. I would prefer it freeze 88% of my gut off, but nooooo. Speaking of gut... You know what I don't get, from an evolutionary, or creationist standpoint?

Love handles.

I mean, what is so important about that part of the body that your DNA tells your cells to store fat in that area? Maybe somehow the body thought we would be able to eat our fat and put it there for easy access like a gunslinger to his guns. Don't get it. Why not the legs? We use those all the time. Why not arms? Seriously, when the hello-dolly do we utilize the muscles that sit underneath our love handles? Huh?

In other news...

The editing process on the novel is almost complete. I have all, or most all of the plot probs fixed and it has a nice flow to it.

This "Fullness of Time" series is a tad elephantine. It is like a dissertation or something. Luckily, I've studied a good bit of Church History and world religions, which is unavoidable if you study Music History and Ethnomusicology, so I think I can pull it off... with a little help from my friends. Yes that means you. Please add your two cents in if you get the hankerin'.

It is getting dark here in the city and it is about five o'clock. I'm not quite used to that, being a Southern fella at heart. But NYC is full of lights at night so it is a decent trade-off.

I do miss the sunsets in Texas. I miss having my breath taken away by a surprise work of art on the horizon as the sun burns its last for the day.

Anywho, about to get back to it here. I've got a full tummy and coffee is a' brewin.

G'nite.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Fullness of Time

From the Message: Ephesians 1:10 " He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth."

I was never able to grasp the wonder of the incarnation until I was able to step back and view this verse in a new light. The incarnation was no arbitrary throw of the dice. God chose just the right the time to make things right. God let sin run its course, as a disease or a revolution must run its course, so that man would be certain that what he wanted to be- a god - would end in his ruin. To redeem him immediately might have left a "perhaps" to trouble mankind's peace. So we tried this notion of being a god thoroughly and failed miserably, beyond a shadow of a doubt. And when, somewhere in the super-consciousness of man, man realized that all attempts of being god were futile, God appeared to the Jews.

And just as God appeared to Abraham at the right moment, Christ came at the right moment. It changed the world forever. Not only was man no longer an enemy of God, Christ showed us that fishermen, tent-makers, slave, lame, deaf, blind and lepers were equally loved and valued by Him, not just the rich or elite. The Jews were teaching Love your neighbor as your self for a hundred years or so before, but it was the Lord Himself that gave wind to that notion and the world has never been the same.

So what I want to do this season of Advent is something I've wanted to do for a while. Survey the recorded ancient religions, philosophies, and cultures up to the arrival of the Lord. God becoming man is both simultaneously the most ludicrous and most believable idea that mankind has ever heard. No other religion teaches it. No other religious leader claims to have been God Himself while showing no signs of lunacy or evil. We believe that it was not invented, but rather it is inventing us. Just as any truth that has been veiled and then is revealed changes your course of action. The truth re-invents you. It sets you free, as Jesus taught us, and showed us.

I truly believe that all men who hear the nativity story want to believe the incarnation is true because if there is a God, he finally makes sense. Man can no longer ignore, fear, or despise a cold, uncaring God who watches us from afar, who knows nothing of our weakness and shows no compassion.

So I'd like to talk about what led up to that moment, and why the incarnation isn't ludicrous, but the most believable thing, if you believe there is a God.

It is not a blind leap of faith, but a step of faith that makes sense. As much sense as anything if you first believe that God made everything and still holds it together, which is a bigger step in my opinion.

So, it's a big task but it'll be good for me and might interested those of you interested in world religions and of making sense of it all.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

T.A.D.D.S.

I've been down in the dumps for past few days. Some of it has to do with editing, a process in which you are in a constant state of "does this suck?" but after a little prayer, and through a chance meeting with a maverick and brave scientist, I've concluded that most has to do with the fact that I received no turkey and dressing this year at the appointed time. No turkey and dressing from my mom's oven, and no turkey and dressing from my mother in laws oven. I usually get two major helpings a year, the "wet" stuffing from my mother, and the "dry" dressing from my mother-in-law. This year, nada.

I consulted a noted scientist about this, Dr. Kran Berry, M.D., and he told me that large amounts of turkey and dressing have become a integral part in the American Male's critical genome development. Without a large dose, every year, a man might not recover for years after. He went on to say the there are in phase II of clinical testing on the long-term effects of turkey and dressing depravity. Some believe that most mental institutions are filled with people who went several consecutive years without a proper dose of turkey and stuffing.

He told me that the depravity of T & S could explain why I'm tempted to wear the same clothes every single day until the smell kills my neighbors. My rationale? I’m tired of smelling the garbage. Logical conclusion: Don’t bathe, then you won’t smell bad things. Dr. Berry said that a break down in personal hygienic logic is one of the first signs of what they are terming as T.A.D.D.S. Turkey and Dressing Depravity Syndrome.

Luckily, my mother-in-law has decided to intervene and provide a healthy dose of T & S after the new year when we visit. I told Dr. Berry that I would see him after and he would submit his findings to the board.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Lunch with Magill

I had lunch with Matt Magill today, and it was a blessing. I've been couped up here in this apartment for weeks now, and even though I love what I'm doing, I haven't had a chance to meet too many people, specifically, other Christian men since I've been here. Mostly because my whole life is on this here computer.

Getting to hang out with Matt was straight from God, a flat-out blessing and answer to prayer. We are similar in many, many ways, including weaknesses, and the ways in which he encouraged me most were through his testimony and his open and contrite heart. He's got a great testimony and is starting a powerful ministry here in Manhattan. He leads a bible study here in Manhattan through... (I'm going to get this name wrong because people always say it too fast and I'm a slow southern boy) "Priority & Associates." (?) I think it is a branch of Campus Crusade ministries but it is designed for working men. I went this Wednesday and I loved it.

He and his wife, Megan, are both musicians who moved from Texas. They sing Gospel music together, and his wife sings musical theater here in the city as well... I don't know... sounds familiar... Anyways, they have an original and terrific sound together, a kind of metro-Rock'abilly romp, that makes me flat out want to go to church and stomp and shout. Even more, it makes me want to get on the piano and jam with them. Go have a listen and buy a record. We musicians gotta eat.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Editing...

Blog posts might be scant or non-exsistant for the next week as an Agent has reqested to see the FULL MANUSCRIPT of my novel. Only about two thirds is spotlessly edited and I guess didn't expect someone to request the whole thing so soon. But hey, at least now the darn thing will be finished. It should only take a few days of coffee and no sleep, but things always come up so maybe longer. One thing I am mostly excited about is that, even if this agent decides to pass, at least I know the query letter is decent.

From what I've read and heard from other writers, the process finding an Agent, or the right Agent could take a while, but I'll keep you guys informed if you are interested in that kind of thing.

Also, if any of you published writers out there who have some helpful tips in this area, please, drop your 2 cents in the comments box for the love of Pete.

Regardless of what happens with her, it is fun to be affirmed and will great to be finished.

Pray for Amber tonight as this is the opening night of It's A Wonderful Life.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Abundant Life, Part 1: Quit Whining, Start Living.

I have a notion that the world is filled with people who are not pursuing their passions. Many are, but many, many people are simply missing out for no good reason. Probably a good sign that you aren’t pursuing your own passion is that that first sentence sort of irked you. You are coming up with all kinds of excuses to why you can’t or won’t do what is burning inside of you: Kids, too old, too late, too young, too tired, too fat, too skinny, too much debt, etc. For some, very few, the dream might actually be unattainable. You can’t very well go for the major leagues in your 50’s with a cholesterol problem. But who knows? Roy Hobbs did it, and he had a bullet in his belly. (A movie, I know, but there’s a reason why we all love it so much.) But for most non-physical oriented dreams, I dare say its never too late. And before you go standing on the side of “too old and sore to do it,” let me share a little story with you, a story for the poor little me 30-40-50-60-somethings reading this…

When I attended the Aspen Music Festival at the healthy age of 19, a bunch of my buddies and myself decided to climb Aspen Mountain, all the way to the Gondola (The very, very top. Waaay past the designated hikers trail, where plenty-o-oxygen could still be accessed.) Anywho, if you made it to the Gondola summit, you could ride free down. So we geared-up, and with youthful vigor began our quest. It was tough and one of the most physically tasking things in distant and recent memory. But finally, with cramps in our sides, one break for eating, and pulses a'pounding, we made it in 11 hours flat. For extra fun, we were attacked by birds who where no longer afaid of humans that made diving passes at our sandwiches.

When we got to the top, we were so proud. The view was spectacular. We took deep breaths of the cool, thin air and silently surveyed the blissful view. Then we looked at all the other people, who came up riding the Gondola, and took pride in our youth and our ability to do what others could not. We even had a little flag that we had constructed to plant at the summit.

Right about the time we were finishing our high-fives and ready to plant our flag, we all turned towards the incline from where we had just scaled... more like, crawled. A strange scraping sound emerged. Then a bike tire appeared, then the full bike, and sitting on the bike, I shark you not, was a man with a long white beard, white hair, and wrinkled, tanned skin that covered a whole set of tight lean muscles, covered only by a runner's loin cloth and a little tattered tank top that said “I Live Dammit.” The old geezer rode the whole way up the mountain on a bike in 8 hours. He had to have been close to 80. Everyone at the summit, (about 60 or so jaw-dangly people) turned and clapped, laughed and took pictures. You cold barely see the old man’s smile underneath the bushy full white beard as he stood by his bike and posed for adoring strangers, but his squinting eyes said it all.

After the applause ended, we had to force ourselves to plant our flag but we did it anyways, and rode the gondola down for our reward at the only KFC in Aspen. The old man, as we found out later, rode his bike back down. At the time, I felt a little like the old coot stole some of that sweetness, but really, he did the opposite. His prescence was a gift and a reminder: "You're living now boy, and that's good. Just never quit."

Fear is the greatest foe to living the abundant life that Christ has set us free for. It takes guts and faith to do what you are secretly or openly passionate about.

(A little Roy Hobbs Clip for your enjoyment.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Dry Socket

I have what's called "dry socket" in a few of the holes where once dwelled my wisdom teeth. A local surgeon was nice enough to "pack" the socket and prescribe some painkillers. The pain went away, but replacing the pain is the constant taste of garbage. Pure, rancid, nasty, nauseating, garbage. Whatever is saturating the gauze in my gums is supposed to dissolve into a mushy material that makes the gum think that it has clotted properly. However, at this point, I don't care. Give me the pain. It tastes like black liquorish concentrate without sugar, and the dirty sweaty underwear of a sumo wrestler who took a crap on a pile of burning tires.

It's that bad. I wake up 2 times a night gagging. I have to go wash my mouth out and goop globs of toothpaste into the sockets for relief. During the day, there are always two mints in my mouth slowly dissolving, lodged between my cheek and gums like tobacco. I have to wonder... Do you remember that Austin Powers with Fat Bastard... remember that part where Austin thought he was drinking coffee but instead he was drinking... remember? Well, I'm wondering if something similar happened at the surgeon's office when he dipped the gauze in the medicated solution.

Just thought I'd share that with you.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Subway Sermon

I sat on a subway today, thinking about my future. I sat and wondered what or whom I need to meet to take the next step to further myself in this big dog-eat-your-face-off world. There is really no better place to come to terms with the cold indifference of the world's backside than in NYC. Don't get me wrong, it is a wonderful place, but like anything beautiful or majestic, it can be terribly dangerous, if approached naively or arrogantly. All earthly beauty dangles upon this powerful, odd truth. From the greatest mountain in the Alps to the smallest frail rose in my mom's garden. It isn't a paradox really- that something beautiful is dangerous. It is the starkest reality of fallen man. We fear what we cannot control, because anything truly beautiful controls us, for some period of time, or by some measure. And we tremble in awe as we stand at the edge of those great wonders, all wrought by the hand of God.

So there I sat, on a light green subway seat, rumbling through the dark underbelly of the city, trying to predict the future and attempting to ignore the man at the back of the subway car who was yelling his introduction to us all and preparing to sing for a few breadcrumbs. He began to sing, and to all of our surprises, the man wasn't bad. Not only was he not bad, he sang about God. He sang, "this little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine." The crowd gently parted for him has he walked and sang through about five encouraging verses, humbly uplifting every rat in the race, awaiting their next stop, and their next "big meeting." I got out all the change I had and dumped it into his cap (as did many, many others) and thanked God for reminding me of my next step. Just let it shine buddy. It’s that simple. All the other stuff, jobs and so forth, are simply the kind of lamps God decides to give you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Election... A recent poll of my thoughts...

Here is what comes to mind when I think about each of these candidates, and sadly, as my opinion will probably remain unchanged by my lack of political vigor, it will also determine my vote.

Hillary: Sorry. Just can't do it. I'm sure she's good for it. There's just toooo much history. It's like going back to eat a Big Mac after you got sick eating one and barfed it up.






Obama: Okay, probably the guy I'd like to see get the office more than anyone. Several reasons. Yes, one of them is because he is black. And who cares if that is a reason? Personally, I think it's time that America had a black President. It would do wonders for our Nation's conscience and conscious. It is time that someone else besides P-diddy, Kanye and 50 Cent represent the potential of the young American Black Male. I think if all three worked really hard and cheated, they could pass an English course. Obama... is probably the brightest mind running.

Edwards: I'm not sure about. He seems too Ken Doll to be president. I always think about the Truman Show or something every time I see him. At any moment his face could flap open and reveal a complex robotic mechanism controlled by some secret right-wing organization.

Giuliani, "The thug." At least that's how everyone up here in NYC refers to him. I don't care how big his mafia bat is; he sure did a good job of cleaning up the streets around here. BUT, we are talking about the leader of the free world and... if he were to use the same tactics to rule the world... hmmmm. Lets just Don Giuliani clear of the nuke button shall we?

Thompson: You were good in Hunt for Red October. That's about all I know about you. If we were still in a cold war with the Ruskies, well I'd think about it.



McCain: I like McCain, but I've never been able to shake the fear that underneath that nice rationale, there lies a Ross Perot waiting to burst.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Houston Fun

I have returned from Houston. I left a few teeth, my deodorant and a bunch of good friends in H-town. Sounds like a hit country song.

I don't think I'll ever be able to say enough about our Church in Sugarland and what a blessing they have been to us. Every time I start to write about it, I can't figure out where to start, and I end just gushing like a goober and never finish. So let me just sum it up, I love you guys.

Had a great time with my friend Tan recording Carey Carroll's project. As always, the Holtzmans treated me like the blonde headed stepson, as opposed to their red headed son Jack. What a wonderful family. It was also great to see Josh and Elise Moore and catch up with those two crazy geniuses. I was reaaaaally bummed that I didn't get to spend any time with the Maerz or Spitz family but next time... Shoot, I wish I could have hung out with the whole church for that matter.

I also snuck into that church on Sunday morning, which was fun as well. A terrific pianist who seems to be getting along smashingly has replaced me at the helm of the Steinway. I was surprised at how much he looks like the present music minister... It was almost eerie... But then I had to imagine how weird I must have looked playing every Sunday with that long dippy looking hair, thumping my leg up and down. (A bad habit.)

Anyways, it was a good trip. Much was accomplished and it flew by. I miss my friends in Houston and this last trip I realized something...

I've moved around most of my life, and I am used to putting up walls and moving on. I realized that I'm not so good at that anymore. I have my friends in Houston to thank for that.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Mom Can't Call Me Wisearse Anymore!

The wisdom teeth are OUT! The stuck a little I.V. in my arm and into la la land I went. O.U.T. Yup, just me and the purple elephant and cellophane flowers of yellow and green. I think I remember saying... "Well, there I go..." And then, darkness.

It's kinda creepy if you think about it. Just pretty much going into a coma of sorts. But I much prefer it to the grinding, sawing and slicing, IN MY TEETH, I would have endured opting to stay awake under "local anesthesia." Something I like to call, "dumb." I don't care if they call it laughing gas. The only people REALLY laughing are the dentists because you are saying such goofy things like. "Rara rirogaga garrarradarra," translated means, "that hurts like a banshee you filthy fatherless swine."

The whole operation went by pretty fast as wisdom teeth go. 30 minutes. Usually takes an hour and a half but I suppose mine were ready to be free. Or maybe I WILLED them to come lose in my sedated state. I have been polishing my force skills lately.

Now on to the subject of painkillers. I like them. A lot. Vicadin. Pretty swift little ditty they engineered there. Makes you feel...happy. All over. I bet if I plucked my eyebrows I wouldn't cry like the last time I tried it. Maybe I could even finish any set of dishes my mom decides to start washing in the liquid fire she runs into the sink, and then calls it "warm dish water." Who knows. Feeling too good to try.

So how do you all feel about pain killers? Know anything I should watch out for? I hear something called "Cannabis" is pretty effective for pain as well.

Let me take you back, cause I'm going too Strawberry fields, nothing is real... and nothing to get hung about... Vicadin fields forever.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Jankum

In honor of Veterans Day, I'd like to tell a story about my Dad, a Vietnam Marine Corps Veteran, and the lesson he taught me about pacifism.

When I was in 8th grade, we moved to Florence Alabama. It was hard. Really hard. My new school was split down the middle racially and the racism ran rampant on both sides of color spectrum.

Sometime in the middle of the year, the bullies at my school invented a game called "Jankum." The rules of the game were simple. To be "in the game" one only had to link your pinkie finger and from that point on, everything that was in your hand was fair game to be "janked." Sort of a toddler version of "car-jacking."

The game sucked. No one wanted to be in it except the few guys who invented it and wanted everyone’s stuff.

Well, we were pretty poor at the time and the school supplies that I had needed to last, or I went without. Inevitably, a few days after the game was invented, my new backpack was "janked" (stolen) from my feeble grip by a large kid by the name of Lo Allen. He was twice my size and a notorious fighter.

The internal fires of panic ignited and the bartering began. For the next 5 minutes I tried to avoid a fistfight, and somehow, convince Lo Allen to give back my friggin bag. Without looking like a big giant wimp and losing all self-respect, I somehow convinced Lo Allen to cut me a deal. He would "sell" me back my backpack for 3 dollars. Lunch money was 1.60 at the time and I handed that day's cash over and told him I could pay him the rest the next day. It was the best I could do. I figured I could make myself a lunch for the next day, pay the thief, retrieve my bag, and go on about my life. Suuuuure.

As I handed Lo Allen my first payment installment the next day, I mustered all my courage, and simultaneously linked pinkies, disengaging myself from further "janks." He was not happy and felt it somehow unfair. I probably should have waited on that part of it because Lo Allen decided to charge me interest. 100%-per-day interest to be exact.

Shamefully, I paid that slimy piece of crap my lunch money for the next 7 days. After the 5th day I guess Lo Allen's conscience kicked in ever so slightly and he returned my bag. However, he still expected the daily money until he decided the debt was satisfied.

Seven school days of this crud ensued and by the end of every school day, I was starving. It had to stop. However, there was no way to turn Lo Allen in to the principle because, sooner or later, I would pay dearly for ratting. With no end in sight, I was stuck, totally lunchless and paying Lo Allen a $1.60 per day.

Finally, I went to my dad. I told him all about the sordid game, and my plight. He listened quietly and expressionless. By the end I was in tears and awaited his solution. The conversation went a little something like this:

"Well son, here's the deal. I'm only gonna say this once. If you go to school and give that puke another penny of your lunch money, and I mean ONE PENNY, I'M gonna whip your ass. It's either me, or him. Take your pick. Come tomorrow, I better smell the school lunch on your breath when you get home, and I better see that backpack."

He left the room and I sat speechless for about an hour. Even though it wasn't even close to what I expected to hear, and I was double-scared, something in me knew it was right. I couldn't argue and I knew he meant it. When the old man gave an ultimatum, he wasn't whistling dixie.

The next day arrived and Lo Allen approached me for the money, at the regular time. The fear was nearly crippling. That conversation went like this:

Lo Allen: "Okay, Sef (Seth) Where's my payment."

Me: "Sorry Lo. I can't do it."

Lo Allen: "Alright, I'm gonna bush (bust) ya if you don't give it."

Me: "Sorry Lo, my dad said he'd whip my ass if I gave you any more money. I can't do it."

Lo Allen: "Alright, after class, I'm gonna bush ya."

Me, scared poopless: "Well, I guess you're gonna hafta bust me then."


The hour ticked by while many bullets of sweat passed through every pore of my brow. Finally the bell rang and I slowly walked out of the classroom and awaited the "busting," but Lo Allen... was gone.

It was over. I couldn't believe it.

In fact, I never heard a word about it. Later I told my dad, he chuckled, and that was the end of that.

Several lessons were learned that day.

I also started Karate lessons.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

My Secret Life

I wrote a novel. I started it about 6 months ago.

Some thoughts and things I've learned:

I have never had more fun doing something in my entire life. The editing process is monstrous. I can't tell you anything about the story because I'm too chicken right now. It’s about 70,000 words. I told about 3 people I was writing it, and I think the secrecy played a big role in getting it finished. I wrote a little over 1000 words per day. (Three hours a day.)

Writing a novel, editing it and getting it published is a 12-hour a day job. That is pretty hard for a fellow that already has waaaaaaay too many irons in the fire. I can see why people spend years on a novel. But, the Good Lord helped me pull it off.

I learned what a Query letter is. It is the single most important one page, three paragraph, single spaced thing in your life, that is, if you want to get published. It is more important than your novel. It is like a movie trailer. Or, a movie trailer sales-pitch. I've probably rewritten the query letter more times than any part of the entire novel, except for the last half of the first chapter.

I've been Querying agents the past 2 weeks and got a good nibble from one recently. She's sold some books to the big dog publishers so I'm crossing my fingers as I type, and as she reads. It's a long shot but who knows? She might dig it... However, finding a good agent as an unpublished writer is sort of like getting the senior-class-prom-queen-captain-of-the-cheerleaders to date an 8th-grader with pimples and mashed potato biceps. I got the equivalent of a wink.

Usually, an unpublished novelist lucks out with a breakout novel or a publisher approaches you because of your platform. In my case, if I had a platform, a publisher would approach me and ask me to write a book based on the art of staying in school and getting paid for it. Platforms are for non-fiction. I don't have any interest in writing those kinds of novels anyways so, the hard way it is.

In the mean time, I'm writing another novel with a good friend of mine and we are two-thirds done with the first book of a 5 book series.

Lastly, I'd like to say a word of thanks to my lovely wife. Not only do we sing and write tunes together, but also she is a kick-butt editor. She's been taking my novel to her auditions and editing while she waits. Editing is a long grueling process and she has a knack for it, and actually LIKES it. The woman never ceases to amaze me.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Scandal in the Suburbs - XJ Kennedy

We had to have him put away,
For what if he'd grown vicious?
To play faith healer, give away
Stale bread and stinking fishes!
His soapbox preaching set the tongues
Of all the neighbors going.
Odd stuff: how lilies never spin
And birds don't bother sowing.
Why, bums were coming to the door—
His pockets had no bottom—
And then-the foot-wash from that whore!
We signed. They came and got him.

Poetry for Pete's Sake

I love poetry. Reading poetry is a lost art these days and it is sad because poetry should be read out loud. I think people forget that. Most of us read our page-turners in the airport and skip paragraphs and miss a few names but still get the plot because its hard to miss. And every once in a while then they (I, we, you) might, - ( if they are extremely bored and a poetry book is the only bound paper in six-mile radius) - open a book of good poetry.

Next time you open a book of poetry, read it out loud. There is a lot of bad, depressing poetry out there but when you run on to a good one, it rolls off your tongue like a tasty treat. Just try it. Do fun things like reading it with a goofy English accent. (Not that the English are goofy, it’s just when I try to do it sounds gooftarded.) Read it to your wife, your kids. If you don't get it at first, read it again. Usually a good poem really comes alive to me on the third reading.

My mom read me poetry when I was a wee lad and I loved it. Did I understand it? Heck no. But some of the imagery stuck in my brain and hasn't come unstuck since.

I think reading poetry to kids at a young age teaches them the basic tenants of art: order and beauty. It is also a little more fun for the mom than reading about duck's new brother "the red beach-ball."

The mind recognizes the patterns in the poetry but cannot predict them, and the way in which the poet wields the scheme and words and alliterations and imagery... well, I think they tickle the brain in ways no one else can.

Shoot, read them Shell Silvertstein for crying out loud. And don't forget Dr. Seuss.

Here are a couple of poems that are a fun outloud read.

Mr. Grumpledump's Song - Shell Silverstein

Everything's wrong,
Days are too long,
Sunshine's too hot,
Wind is too strong.
Clouds are too fluffy,
Grass is too green,
Ground is too dusty,
Sheets are too clean.
Stars are too twinkly,
Moon is too high,
Water's too drippy,
Sand is too dry.
Rocks are too heavy,
Feathers too light,
Kids are too noisy,
Shoes are too tight.
Folks are too happy,
Singin' their songs.
Why can't they see it?
Everything's wrong!



A Considerable Speck - Robert Frost

(Microscopic)

A speck that would have been beneath my sight
On any but a paper sheet so white
Set off across what I had written there.
And I had idly poised my pen in air
To stop it with a period of ink
When something strange about it made me think,
This was no dust speck by my breathing blown,
But unmistakably a living mite
With inclinations it could call its own.
It paused as with suspicion of my pen,
And then came racing wildly on again
To where my manuscript was not yet dry;
Then paused again and either drank or smelt--
With loathing, for again it turned to fly.
Plainly with an intelligence I dealt.
It seemed too tiny to have room for feet,
Yet must have had a set of them complete
To express how much it didn't want to die.
It ran with terror and with cunning crept.
It faltered: I could see it hesitate;
Then in the middle of the open sheet
Cower down in desperation to accept
Whatever I accorded it of fate.
I have none of the tenderer-than-thou
Collectivistic regimenting love
With which the modern world is being swept.
But this poor microscopic item now!
Since it was nothing I knew evil of
I let it lie there till I hope it slept.

I have a mind myself and recognize
Mind when I meet with it in any guise
No one can know how glad I am to find
On any sheet the least display of mind.

Robert Frost

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Proud Hubby

I feel I must take a moment and brag. My wife is in a show! She beat-out over 200 other budding actresses for an understudy role in "Its a Wonderful Life" playing through December. She will be understudying the role of Violet and singing and dancing in the ensemble. Plus she gets paid! For those of you who don't know the theater business up here, paid roles in equity theaters are tough to come by. Especially when you are non-equity. Wahoo!!

Next stop: Broadway.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Storm a' brewin

Busy Week a' comin'.

Starting Friday I will be:

1. Flying to Houston
2. Taking my German Exit Exam at Rice
3. Attending a composition Lesson, presenting a draft for my dissertation
4. Finishing producing Carey Carrol's record (recording vocals)
5. While doing all of the the above, I'll be getting my wisdom teeth removed
6. Fly back.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Dan in Real Life: Review

The Delio: Dan, played by Steve Carrel, is a widower and advice columnist with 3 daughters. Go ahead; get it out of your system. Altogether now... "Awwwwwwwwe." In my opinion, if you've got a decent director and good actors, you are set for heartstring fun-park. Dan and his daughters load up the car to go to a yearly family get-together somewhere where the leaves are beautiful. Along the way, after he drops his girl off at the get-together homestead, he meets whatshername who starred in that film about Chocolate. It’s love at first sight except for one problemo, she's dating Dan's brother ... played by Dane Cook. Not a big fan of Dane, but in this film he was pretty charming. Please Dane, play more of these films.

Anywho, I'll give you three shiny nickels if you can guess the rest of the plot. Got it? Nickels in the mail.

The verdict: I liked this movie. I laughed out loud and even got teary-eyed once for a fleeting half-second. It is cute, funny and charming. Some might be turned off by the fuzzy-sweater-cuddliness of the family scenes (i.e. the crossword puzzle competition between the girls and boys) but if you have had a family that does those corny kind of things, like "playing games together" then you'll sink right into your movie seat and laugh for more.

Final Thoughts: Dan in Real Life made me want to go home and rassle with my family. Okay, maybe not rassle but definitely play monopoly and win, eat some of my dad's chili, then laugh at someone's unwelcome toot over some nice hot chocolate while watching re-runs of Frazier.

Friday, November 02, 2007

A New Favorite Quote

"I've never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks." - Daniel Boone

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Darwin vs. Amber

Seth: Did you know that Darwin thought Black people were less evolved?

Amber: That's crazy.

Seth: Did you know that Darwin also thought women to be less evolved than men?

Amber: He was a jackass.

I'm Thirty thrizzlefrizzlsmatter.

Land Shark.

So today is the big B-day. Halloween baby. That's me. Maybe Clint Eastwood could make a movie about me. Could be even better than that depressing bit-of-a-flick he did with Swank... I could be this incredible trick-or-treater. But Eastwood thinks I am too old for trick-or-treating. Undeterred and inspired by his disbelief, I persist. I show him my killer Darth Vader outfit and my special-order porcelain pumpkin candy holder. He decides to train me. But tragically, I am stampeded by a bunch of 6 year olds and I break my neck falling off a porch, hitting my head on a yard-deer. He then decides to do me in, against my will (this is where we would differ from Million Dollar Baby) by injecting my vein with 60 pounds of liquefied corn candy. Eastwood walks out of the hospital, glares at the screen, lights a cigarette, and then begins to paint the whole town red after he makes the local midget the sheriff. It is a heart wrenching ending. All walk out of the theater dabbing tears and slurping the last diluted drips of coke hiding at the bottom of their paper cup.

Maybe for a film score the composer could do a combo of the Dies Irae from Mozart's Requiem and Happy Birthday.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Update

-My baby sister sang Madama Butterfly last night in a SRO production in Springfield MO. She was phenom.

-My birthday approacheth. Halloween. My mother and wife are decorating a cake with a big spider on it.

-You may send me ten thousand dollars.

-Or an iphone.

-Our landlord did the city dirtier than expected. After a little digging, a few tenants in our building discovered that it is a "rent stabilized" building. Meaning, we could possibly be paying... as low as 400 bucks a month, after the investigation. Please pray with all your might, digging in the dirt with your nails, wailing to the heavens on our behalf, for this to be true. It would be nothing short of a miracle.

-That would rock.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Apartment Saga, full circle.

Sooooooooo. We got evicted today, what'd you do?

That's right, our lovely, law-abiding landlord bypassed a few hundred legal permits to build our VERY cool looking apartments but missed a few-too-many major permits to be overlooked by the fuzz. Which ones? The biggie: fire escapes. A big no-no for post 9-11 builders.

Our apartments are located in the middle of the building. We have a window but it is just large enough for Frodo Baggins so sneak out of in case of an emergency. That would be fine if Frodo were also Spiderman because once you get outside the window there isn't any cotton-pickn' thing to climb on to flee the licking flames.

The whole window thing in our apartment is a little hard to explain... Just imagine a building. In the middle of that building someone took a 6X6 square out of it straight to the ground. Our window faces that. So anyways...

A little thing called the "fire chief" showed up yesterday and slapped a good old-fashioned eviction notice on our door. After he told me that our Landlord is unbelievably arrogant for thinking he could bypass ALLLLLL the permits and get away with it, he told me that he couldn't believe how different-looking our building was.

Apparently, it was housed by the Devil and his legions because it was notorious throughout NYC with the police and fire dept. He said he came to our building once because someone called and said there was a guy in a bunk that was sick and couldn't get up. He said when they arrived, the found the guy on the top bunk while three other tenants in the room played cards. You know what's coming next... The "sick" man on the bunk was deader than Abe Lincoln's toenail. Not only that, he'd been dead for THREE WHOLE days. I guess his buddies were gonna test-drive that old Jewish wives-tale and decided not to risk the stench on the fourth day. So they called the fire department to say that he was sick and wouldn't wake up, even after they shook and screamed. “And strangely, Mr. fireman, he just stares at this one place on the ceiling.”

So I could tell the fire chief was torn. On one hand, he was pissed the landlord gave us and four other tenants rooms that are truly classified as "death traps" and on the other hand, he was amazed to see that the landlord had turned a big smelly turd of a building into a pretty darn up-scale looking apartment. Oh well.

Back to the eviction at hand. This is where the story gets better. Not, as in “worse” better but as in “better” better.

I called the landlord el-pronto. I said to the landlord, who was at that moment being sued by every other tenant in the building except us, that we weren't going to sue. I wanted to say: “Merry Christmas you lucky bastard.” Instead, I kindly noted that the apartment down the hall, the one that we were originally supposed to get was fortuitously vacant, followed by the words “I want it now.” Then, “It would also be quite nice to get it for the price that we were paying for the death trap.” He agreed, and last night, we moved in. I love Just War theory.

So it only took the Lord one and a half months to set that right. Shoot, I had just chalked that up as a big boil on my ass that I would have to be thankful for.

But who knows what tomorrow will bring in this here City. We may be evicted.... again. New boils may arise on the rump with no ointment in sight. But now, more than ever, I am convinced that God will work it out. Sounds so hackneyed I know. But if you are the one saying it, and meaning it, it is as fresh as a towel right out of the dryer. I am not my own. I belong to somebody who's a lot better at running the universe and my fate than me. Thanks be to God. (Cue priest singing chant.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Pic of a Park

This is a little park where I stop to think and pray when I walk Amber to the Subway every morning for her auditions.

Beautiful stuff. I think Seinfeld lives around there through those trees. I know he parks his car in the garage across the street from us.

Also, we saw this guy out eating dinner the other night. He is getting ooooOOOOld, but seems very sweet. He was with his wife who was doting over his every move. Did a great job in the film "Holiday," which -stop the friggin press and slap me silly- I loved like crazy. Total chick flick, but I totally fell for it. Maybe it was because my wife was outta town when I saw it... Anyways, he is best known for staring in The Godfather III.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Mystical Experience With My Neighbors

Amber and I were walking very fast to the Subway from our apartment yesterday, trying to get her to an audition on time. It was Saturday, and there usually isn't an audition on Saturday, and Saturday, as you know, is a sacred day for the Jews. It is the Sabbath or "Shabbat" mean "to cease." So we were rushing out right about the time the Jews were filing out of the MASSIVE Jewish synagogue that is right down the street from us.

We live in a neighborhood that is primarily Jewish. I see more Yarmulkes every day then I used to see shotguns in the back of trucks in Texas. Honestly, I sorta want a Yarmulke. I got to wear one when we attended a Jewish Passover, hosted by Gerald and Staci Holtzman, our dear friends in Houston, and I thought it was pretty cool.

Okay, scene set, established a little history, and on with the mystical experience...

In our rush to the subway, a big Jewish family filed out of the synagogue in front of us, and started walking VEEEERY slowly the same direction we were going. We actually wondered if the slow walking had something to do with the Sabbath, considering the fact that during the rest of the weekdays, the Jewish folk seem to walk at a pretty good clip.

Well, it took us about 3 seconds to catch up with them and for some reason, instead of passing them by, we were just sort of swallowed by the group and started walking slowly with them. Weirder still, was that we didn't seem to mind. The man in front of us had his son sitting on his shoulders and his wife beside him had a child on each hand. The rest just walked beside and behind us, unaffected by our presence. Everyone wore black. About 12 steps into the walking, an old man walking to my right, unaffected by our presence, started singing a Jewish song, very softly. On cue, the wind blew softly down the street and the sun peeped thought the trees from central park at the end of the street. Besides feeling a little Prince-of-Egypt'd, I was suddenly stricken again by the significance of the Jewish people.

I was stricken with the fact that this, right here, is how it’s been for four or five thousand years. In my mind flashed images of the Israelites walking in the Desert, Jacob and his family traveling to Egypt, the Exile in Babylon, the rule of Herod, the Holocaust. God's people. The people to which God chose to show himself and establish his law, the people from which God chose to shine his light to the whole world, by descending from heaven, to dwell among us. I walk by the Rodeph Sholom Temple everyday and in huge letters, carved above the temple entrance is written "Do Justly,Love Mercy, Walk Humbly With Your God." I can't think of a better thing to be reminded of the first thing in the morning.

A great and beautiful people.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

News I misread

I read this as "Future of Ultimate Fighting ON Jeopardy."

I suddenly had an image of a couple of guys in suits sort of slapping at each other, squirting their fountain pens and yanking off each other's toupees. Calling each other such horrible names such as, "ninny, buffoon, cretin, dullard," whilst they smacked.

Then they would end the match by seeing who could write each other's name in the crappiest handwriting.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Microbe Cravings

WASHINGTON - If that craving for chocolate sometimes feels like it is coming from deep in your gut, that's because maybe it is.

A small study links the type of bacteria living in people's digestive system to a desire for chocolate. Everyone has a vast community of microbes in their guts. But people who crave daily chocolate show signs of having different colonies of bacteria than people who are immune to chocolate's allure.


I think I have a community of microbes living in my belly who are constantly demanding french fried and boston creme donuts... and ice cream... and coca cola... and powdered donuts fed while playing Halo...

What does your community of microbes crave?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

J.K. Rowlings is Ticked.

OLKATA, India (AFP) - Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is suing organizers of a religious event for constructing a replica of her imaginary Hogwarts Castle in an eastern India city, officials said Thursday.

Rowling and her publishers Bloomsbury are seeking two million rupees (50,000 dollars) from the organizers constructing an elaborate castle from canvas and Papier Mache in Kolkata for the upcoming Durga Puja festival, court officials said.


Because she really doesn't have enough cash. I mean, come on. Throw the gal a friggin' bone. It's not like J.K. isn't richer that Zeus. Seriously, I'm sure she really needs the extra fifty grand to… pay for her cat's vasectomy, or to finally afford to have her ENTIRE lawn mowed… castle scrubbed?… Jet waxed?… Fleet of nannies messaged…? The gal’s got needs. Come. On.

Bottom line: J.K. IS JUST TRYING TO SCRATCH BY LIKE EVERYONE ELSES SO PAY UP YOU BUNCH OF INDIAN THEIVES.

Besides, who do you think you are... building A REPLICA OF HOGWARTS CASTLE OUT OF PAPIER MACHE.

Sheesh.

I seriously think Rowling could cash in if she were to take her lawyers to the beach and sue the crap outa all the little kids who are making Hogwarts sandcastles. She could at least score their shovel and bucket if she took them to court. Shoot, she's probably desperate for those too. I know I am.

p.s., Dear J.K., please don't sue me for posting a picture of the papier mache replica of Hogwarts. I'm on your side.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fun. Htt: My Little Green Mojito.

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME:

Lightning Subway

2.YOUR GANGSTA NAME:

Vanillabean Oatmeal


3. YOUR “FLY Guy/Girl” NAME:
(first letter of first name, first three letters of last name)

Swar (I'm not a girl but what the hey.)

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME:
(favorite color, favorite animal)

Blue Eagle (This one, I like.)

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME:
(middle name, city where you were born)

Dee Claremore (Sounds like the name of the token ugly dude.)

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME:
(the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first)

WarSe (Sounds a little like horsey)

7. SUPERHERO NAME:
(”The” + 2nd favorite color, favorite drink)

Red Sweet Tea (The Texan Superhero)

8. NASCAR NAME:
(the first names of your grandfathers)

Earl Wayne (I like this one. May name little Seth this someday.)

10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME:
(mother’s & father’s middle names )

Belle Dee (If I ever go into W.P., I guess I'll go in drag.)

11. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME:
(Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter)

Kenzer Knoxville (Pretty good.)

12. SPY NAME:
(your favorite season/holiday, flower)

Halloween Bulebonnet (Welcome to hell, 007.)

13. CARTOON NAME:
(favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”)

Tangerine Bootsie (beautiful.)

14. HIPPIE NAME:
(What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree)

Omelet Christmas Tree (My fav.)

15. YOUR ROCKSTAR TOUR NAME:
(”The” + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour”

Writing Snow Tour (Hmmm. Actually pretty good. My second one was "Frolicking Sandstorm Tour.")