Monday, March 30, 2009

The State of the Union...

Things are good. Spring is ITCHING to say hello. However, it remains on the chill side. Al Gore and his global warming man/bear/pig theories can kiss it.

Besides, talk to any non-pop star scientist and they'll tell you that the earth's climate is highly cyclical. And truth be told, we are experiencing probably the best and most consistent weather the earth has ever seen. Every planet in the solar system is heating up, or at least they were heating up. Anyways, poor Al. Seems like every time he trucks up to D.C. to promote global warming awareness, D.C. is hit by a record-breaking blizzard.

Plus, who the heck has anything to worry about with Obama in the White House? Problemo solved. I hear he's got a plan to subsidize sunshine and cut sunshine for people making over 250k a year by 3-8%. Besides, they don't need as much sunshine as poor people. We've got to spread the sunshine around.

How bout that new Government Motors? Huh?

I think New Yorkers are really ready for some Springtime weather. If the temperature even sneaks above the 50 degree mark and if the sun peeps out for a half hour, Central Park is overwhelmed with joggers and people with Frisbees.

However, the cold weather seems to linger on. And the City folk get a little grumpier with each passing day. A little old lady gave me the bird yesterday from the passenger's seat of her very nice car. That that little old wrinkly third finger studded with a 600 karat costume jewelry ring looked hilarious. Her facial expression was priceless. It made my day.

That should tide me over till the good weather hits.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Proud Hubby (Amber in NY Times!)

My amazing wife made it into the New York Times again in a review of her show "Little Women." (That's her on the far left.)

"...A similar fresh-faced promise is exhibited by the actresses who play her sisters — Kim Carson as romance-hungry Meg, Amber Ward as gentle Beth...

Considering it is the Times reviewing, the show did pretty well. About one out of 20 reviews are even slightly kind. In a recent review of the musical "Shrek" the reviewer described as the experience as similar to watching people stand around in hot dog costumes at the mall.

As for Little Women, basically, the reviewer isn't the biggest fan of the musical adaptation, and in this production she thought that the mics were up too high for Joe.

Read the rest here.

Btw, it is REALLY hard to watch Amber die, or at least know that she dies offstage.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Message From Dan Brown

Dear world, (i.e. Five Cent Stand Readers)

My name is Dan Brown, and the Roman Catholic Church is evil.

What was the real cause of Katrina? The RCC

Who REALLY framed Roger Rabbit? The RCC.

Who is really covering up all the Roswell UFO stuff? The RCC.

Who put the bom in the bomsha bom ba bom? Who put the ram in the ramalama ding dong? The RCC.

Who is covering the horrible secret that Jesus was actually Jesusetta, a small but opinionated little old Jewish old lady? The RCC.

Who infused the Bible with some elaborate hypnotic codes that force people to watch Joel Osteen? The RCC.

What church is really run by a secret society of lesbian werewolf teletubbies? The RCC.

I'm Dan Brown, and the Catholic Church is evil. Just ask Tom Hanks. He was made into a small child a few years back when the RCC planted an evil fortune telling machine at a local fairground.

Beware of the Catholic Church. Every Church building is built upon a very creepy secret graveyard with a bunch of skulls. And not just any skulls, slippery skulls that snoopy-assed people like that Tom Hanks will slip on and get scared and think twice before he proceeds. They are the skulls of those who have tried to hide the secrets of all these secrets. If only we could find the ancient encryption device... we could unravel the whole Catholic Church and Tom Hanks could be avenged.

Also, has anyone ever noticed the creepy music that plays when you walk into the Catholic Church? Obviously evil and hiding something.

If only I could expose all the secrets... I could stop wearing this turtleneck and jeans, and I could stop carrying around this book everywhere and I could go back to the trailer where I first started writing my first big hit. That would just kick some serious Mary Magdalene Butt.

Or is it Left?

Ladies and Gentlemen. I am now responsible for a bunch of administrative stuff.

I would like for you to take a moment, and meditate upon that last sentence and the implications thereof. Just pause at the many dangers one little sentence can inspire.

I will give you the equivalent: Ladies and gentlemen, the one armed man will now play the Brahms Violin Concerto.

Yes, a miracle is needed. Seeee, I am an artist. An "ar-tist." And there isn't an ar-tist on the face of the planet who has made a hoot of himself (yes, mostly male artists need the extra help) without some sort of ... assistant, secretary, whatever. Someone who is right or left brained or whichever one I'm not. When people ask if I am right or left brained, I reply, "I'm whatever side of the brain that can never remember which side of the brain he is."

I shall now and forever be thankful for all those who have assisted me in bringing order into chaos. My wife is first on the list. My mother is second. Susan Dortch is third. The amazing, incredible Susan Dortch. Susan is the music associate at Williams Trace Baptist Church in Sugarland Texas and besides being an accomplished musician herself, she may be the GREATEST music administrative genius in the history of the Church.

Now that I am preparing all the music for everyone, getting checks requested, filing music, finding music, I usually pause at least four to five seconds every half hour to marvel at her skills and all that I took for granted when I worked there. She, my wife and my mother all have something that I have not. A left side of a brain. Or wait a second... what if I'm looking from the front...? Tthen it is right. See, I'll never really know or understand.

I once tried to unlock my front door with my remote car unlocker-thingy. I stood there in front of the door for a good 5 seconds punching the "unlock" button, pointing it at the doorknob. Perplexed.

I once walked out of my front door to work out, wearing tennis shoes, a headband, towel draped over shoulder, a Mr. Rogers work-out t-shirt, my ipod shuffle, and a pair of whitie tighties. No workout shorts. Just underoos. Not even boxer briefs. I was out of the good ones. Just down to the grandpa-specials. Me and my Spongebobs.

On several occasions my wife has opened the refrigerator to find all sorts of things that do not need cooling sitting on the shelves... keys... books... a pair of socks... a cup of coffee...

I once bought a box of efferedent instead of alka seltzer and almost drank it.

HOWEVER!!!! I once walked onto stage at a College piano showcase, in front of hundreds, and played a COMPLETELY improvised a piece of music that was in the program under the name of "Ornansky." (My real name is Ornan) Everyone leapt to their feet and wanted to know who the composer "Ornansky" was. I said he was the half brother of Prokofiev. Prokofiev's dad had Spanish mistress. It was AWESOME!!!!

I'm sure many of you creative folks out there have similar stories, both with fridge mishaps and with creative triumphs.

One thing that I am NOT is late. Nor do I miss appointments without calling. RARELY. And I mean that. If I do, I am depressed for days about it. My iPhone has been my best friend when it comes to this.

So, all that to say... pray for me. So far, so good. But soon and very soon, I am going to need an assistant. I feel a little like Tom Hanks in the movie "Cast Away" trying to get over the coming waves in a cruddy raft with half a flapping portapotty as a sail... and a disturbed looking volleyball as my only buddy.

I'm doing fine right now. Praise the Lord for Macs.

Oh, I forgot to ask all you right brainers, ANY TIPS ON STAYING ON TOP OF EVERYTHING? KAT? PAGING KAT...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Obama Dilemma

First off, I like him. I've always liked Obama. Liking Obama is like liking the Rachmaninoff Second Piano Concerto. (Even the biggest music snobs who think Rach is all schmaltz can't help but like this concerto.) I'm only human. If you read ALLLL my blogs about Obama you'll never find one single negative remark towards they man or his character. I've questioned his policies and his experience, but not his character. First off, I have no right to say nasty things about any man or woman's character.

Except for Madonna.

That being said, Obama... I've still got mixed feelings about the guy. It is sorta that same feeling I get when I have a friend that I really like, or a musician that is just excellent that I've hired, but I believe that they are doing something or they have an ideology that is very harmful.

My main beef with Obama has always mostly been over abortion. I hate it, and I think that abortion is the deadliest of sins to our world. It even goes beyond the "right" of the unborn and to the root of the moral, rotten weed. It is about the sanctity of life. "Sanctity" is one of those church words but essentially it is the belief that life, and the creation of human life is a sacred, sacred thing. It is the subtlest and deadliest of paradigm shifts when a nation decides that the creation of life is a nuisance or a pain-in-the-ass byproduct of our good times. It is a subtle turn to self that leads us to a TOTAL self-centeredness where we no longer "lay our life down for our friends," but we lay the unborn's life down for ours. We harvest unborn children for their stem cells so that we can live a few more years or repair our hip bone instead of a hip replacement. We take a pill after sex because we need a few more years to party until we are ready. Or we need a bigger apartment and a better job. We we we we we we.

Everything about the process of creating life is precious and selfless to a Christian. From sex, to conception. Contrary to what many popular Christian authors and pastors are teaching, sex was never meant JUST for our pleasure. Yes, it is a good good good good good good thing; the pleasure is there and it is good. Nuf said. But it is also something that is beyond physical. It deeply connects us to that "partner" in ways beyond the physical. This is why someone feels so empty when they've had casual sex or if they are involved sexually with someone they shouldn't be. In a way, they've given a part of their spirit away and it has been discarded. If it was just a physical feel-good then we should feel as guilty after casual sex as we do when we get a really good back rub, or a pedicure, or conversely, we should feel as spiritually fulfilled as after a back rub. And maybe that's okay to many. I think it cheapens it.

This is why we should teach our children to wait. Not JUST so they won't catch the creeping crud, (a very good reason) but because sex is also a powerful, life creating act. And how amazing and appropriate is it that a life is created in the greatest moments of human physical and spiritual pleasure. Of course, the value of life goes beyond sex between man and a woman, but I'm speaking here about the way it (procreation) is meant to be.

This could go on for pages and pages. What I'm trying to get at is this: I think Obama is a terrific guy. He canceled some fancy party thing this week so he could spend spring break with his wife and girls at camp David. He recently said this to Iran, "we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." - Blessed are the peacemakers. It's about friggin time.

So the man's got his priorities in order. He sets a good example as a dad. No doubt. I also believe that his socialist tendencies come from a sense of what is right and what we should do rather than for more power. I believe that, even though I don't think it will work. As far as government, the socialist/capitalist hybrid is the best we can do until the Messiah returns.

I think Obama has done a good job thus far, and I hope he succeeds. He has already succeeded at many things not discussed in the media and as always, I pray pray pray for his daily safety. I pray that some scientist will develop some sort of bullet proof bubble that he can walk around in at all times.

More than that, I pray he will change his mind on abortion. I pray that his love for family will open his mind to the love and sanctity of unborn human life.

Just some morning thoughts on the Pres and so forth.

Thoughts? Agree? Disagree?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

If you are interested in what caused the financial house of cards to fall... Watch This...

Hedge Funds and the Global Economic Meltdown from Judd Bagley on Vimeo.

Isn't it wonderful to know that there are some people out there who got all the money that was lost? It is also wonderful to know that these people caused 150 year old financial institutions to drown while our government stood by. It is also wonderful to know that the government didn't do anything because they were in the pocket of a few, rich and powerful hedge fund fellas. Ever wonder why anyone hasn't been arrested? No one committed a criminal act? NO ONE? HALF THE WORLD'S WEALTH IS GONE AND NO ONE HAS BEEN ARRESTED FOR IT?

Always remember this about the stock market: When someone loses money, someone else is finding it. The wealth wasn't lost, it was transferred to a few, literally a handful, of criminals who have so much power and money that our politicians are afraid of them.

I want. Well, kinda...

Friday, March 13, 2009

You might be a redneck if...

A very nice redneck though.

Reminds me of a story...

I was once running (a very, very long time ago... I despise running. Unless someone is shooting at me or if I'm being charged by a bull, both of which I've experienced; I very much appreciate running in those cases. Anyways...) So, I was running, and flying straight towards me was a bug the size of small hotweel. My peaceful jog turned into quite the spectacle as I gyrated all over the place to dodge the bug. After jumping, and feeing quite dippy, I searched for the bug. It was nowhere to be found. I didn't like this because the bug was so big I could have watched it fade into the sky over the trees. I searched my clothes high and low for the bug. Didn't find it. So, I went on my merry way.

I went home and started doing the sit ups. Except I noticed that every time I would sit up, I would hear a strange buzzing noise. At first I thought it was the couch or whatever was leveraging my feet. It quickly became apparent that it wasn't. I noticed a LARGE black lump in the armpit of my t-shirt. Then came the incredible pinch.

I went outside, bunched the bug up in the t-shirt in a little wad and started smashing it with stone from my mom's flower garden. And that just BARELY killed the biggest beetle that I've every seen. Not even a smattering of guts. In fact, I think I probably just gave it a concussion.

So, there's my hidden/stowaway creature story.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Seth and Amber, on growing old...

So, we were watching this here commercial:

The following conversation broke forth from the zombie-like silence that usually comes with watching so many commercials in row late at night that you forget what show you were watching.

Seth: "Listen, if I ever have to use on of those babies, I fully expect someone to get a shotgun and..."

Amber: "Ummm, if I ever have to use one of those, I fully expect someone to move me into a one-story house."

Further evidence that women should be ruling the earth.

A Short Pause...

Well ladies and gents...

I've been running around like a chicken on crack-corn feed. I FINALLY overnighted my Dissertation off to my committee (late) after a few Kinkos catastrophes - apparently, no one there had ever heard of the concept of "front and back" - and I'm set to defend the dissertation next friday.

For the past 3 days I've lived in a constant state of sweat. It is still winter up here and I've been sweating. I lost five pounds in two days. Not whistling dixie either. Five el-poundos.

So here's what I've been up to, besides trying to edit, print and mail a humongous orchestral work to a committee of geniuses who will comb through my work with giant red pens.

1. I've started a new church job as musical director. This job has tuned out to be the most exhilarating job I think I've ever had. That's saying a bunch. Its hard to beat touring... I have a new love and affection for musical assistants and associates at church... since I don't have one and I'm it. Wait... that sounds like I'm saying that I love myself...

Yesterday, I spent a good bit getting all the folders ready for my choir. It doesn't seem like it, but one can REAAALLLY waist a LOT of time copying music and getting them into folders if one does not have the proper system in place. One little missing "trick" and that could cost you 30 minutes to an hour. My Choir is AWESOME, btw. Just amazingly talented singers and they are truly excited about worship.

2. I went from not accompanying anyone for 2 years to preparing to accompany Metropolitan Opera stars for some upcoming Church performancesI. That's slightly stressful. I've got to learn the Mozart Alleluia in two days... Not going to think about that one anymore right now.

3. I've been just a-wailing on the pipe organ every sunday. It is an absolute BLAST to play on old Bessie. I get to Improvise a Postlude every sunday and I LOVE to improvise. I can't emphasis how much fun this has been to play hymns and improvise Postludes on the volcanic pipe organ in a Cathedral, all for the Lord.

That brings me to my next task. I would like to name this here organ. I usually name all the instruments that I play. My guitars are Lucy Taylor and Al Varez. (pretty cheezy, but so is naming your guitar.) Keyboard's name is Bigole Heavyba Stard.

So you guys get to help me name her. Yes, it is a woman. I'm not sold on Bessie Lou. Conan stole that title for his desk and that used to be the name of my big 76 Carpice Classic that I drove in high school. Back then I also liked to call it "Hot-Girl-OFF!"

That being said, I will NOT be turning into the oddity that is the "organist." I will not. No offense there to my organist friends. Organists, you know what I'm talking about. Don't deny it. You guys are an eccentric bunch. I dated an organist once (long ago) and she was the equivalent of 3 or 4 people. Not size-wise, but personality. I once went to an organists house and he had his whole house built around a HUGE organ he had imported from an old French church. It was quite amazing. But... come on. That's out there. The only people that can compete with the organist strangies are the true guitar-gear-heads. They worship their pedal boards and blog about them... and sleep with them. Sometimes their blogs are nothing but Pedal-porn. Veeeeery interesting that both guitarists and organists share the same obsession over pedals.


4. Teaching. I've been teaching quite a bit. I love to teach. I probably don't need to teach near as much now since I have the church job but I love to teach too much to give them up and many of my students are becoming very good friends. Plus, it is just so fun to haul that guitar onto the subway. It is the only time that New Yorkers will get heck out of my way.

No matter what I do in the future, I will ALWAYS teach students. Besides being very fun, teaching is the surest way for me to keep learning.

So that's been my world for the past few weeks...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Twitter Blog

1:30 a.m. I have a headache.
1:30.25 a.m. Maybe I should drink some water.
1:31 a.m. My butt itches.
1:31.01 Ahhhhhh, better.
1:32 Toodles.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

N.T. Wright: My New BFF

I've been shelving-up a whole storehouse of things to write about how the good Bishop of Durham. N.T. Wright has reached out with his big English hand and has given me the final push, or smack in a paradigm shift that has been going on with me in the past 3 years, or maybe since I was 12.

I am not easily influenced by modern preachers and theologians. I am by default suspicious of any Christian Guru who owns a collection of hair gel and rectangle glasses, or the one who wears a monk's robe but isn't really a monk. Its not that I don't enjoy hearing the teachings, (sometimes) its just that the ones that try to give modern Christian critiques always "feel" nothing short of bitter and jaded, no matter how soothing their voice. Not only that, but they sort of seem like a character in a painting trying to step out of the painting and critique the painter. In short, they've been and felt like searchers who "sound" like they have the answers but are really looking for an "atta boy, you sound like you've got it figured out! How much is your book? And where DID you get those glasses?" As a result of this attitude, I have essentially retreated into the Orthodox teachings of the Roman Catholic and the Easter Orthodox Churches and even Judaism (Messianic, of course.) and, yes, last but not least, my buddy Joel Osteen. (Seth pauses to revel in the gasps he has just inspired.) And I've struggled with bitterness.

N.T. Wright has reached into my little protective huddle and smacked me around like a good pastor should and has awakened questions that I always thought were the "wrong" questions and when I've asked them I've been told that I am on the road to universalism and towards the old social gospel. One gets tired of being told that they are crazy, liberal, prosperity-lite, and Catholic/hellward. The mouth glues shut, the eyes zip from author to author at B&N and the heart grows nastier and nastier to the criticisms leaping forth from their pages. Negativity sets in, and that is poison. Maybe that's one of the reasons why I like Osteen so much. The man doesn't claim to be some theological bigwig, and sure his context is off at times, but the News he is telling is at least Good. And it is Good News, my friends. Don't try to convince me otherwise by whacking me with your suffering-club.

There has always been something that has always bothered me about my faith since, well, since I've been a Christian. I've known the Gospel is true no matter how many times I've tried to privately test it, or rather, I believe it is true by faith and the enormous historical likelihood that the Gospels are true has served to aid that faith. But that faith has always seemed costly. And not costly in a good way as in: "thinking of others before yourself," but in the bad way, as in: "I've got to figure this thing out and deny 'myself' and be 'born again" ... and somewhere in there I end up denying everyone else even exists... "wait a second... did I just ignore my grief-stricken neighbor?" The one has often canceled the other when it should not have.

The notion that "the world and all our passions are crap" has always felt at odds with the renewed spirit that came alive in me when at my best, when thinking clearly, because contrary to all that you've seen on ... certain channels, the Holy Spirit brings an unbelievable clarity and humility (humility=thankful), or contrary to what you've seen coming out of modern fatalistic, when-we-all-get-to-heaven hard-core pulpits, it does not make you a judge, but rather an giver of grace, mercy and forgiveness, as you have been shown grace, mercy and forgiveness.

He gives a true synergy to your body and spirit, even despite horrible circumstances or dire physical maladies. People filled with the Holy Spirit start rejoicing in their suffering. They do not feel sorry for themselves even though they seem to have every right to feel that way. They even walk to their their death in the Lions den, speaking words of forgiveness and love for their executioners, or they lie on their death beds in agonizing pain and share the Gospel to their grieving loved ones with a Joy that one can only reckon with as more real and true than any visible suffering.

And what is the "Good News?" Many times the Good News seems like the "Big Downer News" rather than Good News. More on that later.

No, it is the Holy Spirit that truly ignites your passions. When you seek first the Kingdom God and his righteousness, the passions make sense, and they need no explanation. They need no justifying. The become one great big sign post towards obedience. My tendency has always been, if by chance any passion ever surfaced that was outside the normal Christian mold of things, to quell that bad fleshly passion by becoming a religious zealot and retreat so far from the living breathing world that I damn near wore a white robe and petrified into a praying marble statue. I made the journey very complicated and noble one, when all along it was really a wrong perspective of the Kingdom, fueled by a fear of failure beneath the robes of religious zeal.

"Well, Seth, this is an awful lot of talk about what YOU want and YOUR passions... what about Loving your neighbor?" Well, my friends, loving your neighbor takes on a whole new synergy when you aren't feeling sorry for yourself and you are walking in obedience. There is actually Good News to be shared rather than News that you wish was good. Another Irony of the Christian life is that the weight of our Cross is carried by our supernaturally created passion to obey. Taking up your cross is not sacrificing all that God has made good in you and suffering the pains of that severing (as Philip Pullman tried to portray the children in his Golden Compass novels being severed from its daemon, or soul by the "Magistrate,") it is stepping out into world with that recreated and healed passion and into whatever trial that comes your way because of that faith and obedience.

I believe that that true clash going on in me has NOT been between a natural state of agnosticism and a striving for faith, but between my western-civ-Aristotle-Plato Gnostic roots and the supernatural and synergetic love of God that was and is always turning me towards the reality of "Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven" with my heart, mind, soul and strength. Not just number 2 in that list.

(Yes, I finished my dissertation, btw. I'll probably do a few small revisions but as of yesterday, I turned that sucker in.)

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Sorry Folks

I've been out of pocket here lately and that's no fun for the blogging MASSES that read this religiously. I know that I get a little grumpy when some of my favorite bloggers take a vacation and don't seem to care about the rest of us... Selfish. *cough*BRANSEN*cough* Seriously.

See, I'm important. And important people should be missed. Every word missing from the luminous monitor is like a empty honeysuckle for the thirsty hummingbird. Yes, yes. You know it is true. Even now, you revel in my genius metaphors. Okay, alright. Calm down. Here's another: Reading a healthy/amazing/genius blog (mine) is like the feeling you get when you pull the mother load of bellybutton lint out in the shower. Something about it just feels so first-class - an achievement of sorts: "Good morning world, navel clean! The fort has been retaken!" There. Satisfied? Well, no worries. There's more were that came from. But you'll just have to wait... like a little baby gimp mouse waits for hist turn at his momma mouse's teat, or like the wind waits for a young Afghanistan-slave-made kite... or like the Mexican summer beach waits for middle-aged-man-spandex-thongs to hover above its foaming shores.

In other news: Rounding third on my dissertation. Defend on the 20th. As of now, I will be defending with a little plastic sword, and instead of a cape I'll be wearing hot-dog vendor shock. (See: Confederacy of Dunces) I was supposed to have sent it to my professor yesterday + one day. (Tuesday) I guess that would be yesterday minus one day. Whaterr' you get the picture. I'm late.

In other GOOD news: The CPC Choir is officially up and rocking. We had our first rehearsal last night and holy schmolly, can these folks sing. I'm pretty pumped about conducting the Messiah this Christmas.

Speaking of singers, I also found out that sometimes Rod Stewart sneaks in the back of the church for a listen. I swear to all things under a dollar that if he comes in I'm going to bust into a very touching music-worship-style version of "If you want my body, and you think I'm sexy, come on sugar let me know!"

And speaking of rockstars, it is very difficult to concentrate on my dissertation when I know that 20 blocks down the street Bono and the gang are probably giving a surprise concert. They've named a street after them. I think it should be a permanent name though. None of this temporary crud. I'm veeeeeery tempted to be pathetic fan boy and go down there for an autograph. Alls I got to say is, if that happens, "Move over autographed photo of Def Leppard's one-armed drummer, and autographed picture of Heart."

Alright, that about does it for today. Maybe even for the next week or two.

Here are a few blogs that you should read if you haven't already:

See side bar.

Oh, and here is a picture of a dog in a diaper.