Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Shamwow workout

I've started working out again. Yes, its true. I've decided that I refuse to be a hairy, middle-aged outtashape man, and I refuse to die of a heart attack in my forties. The heart attacks that run in my family are as common as five o'clock shadows.

So, I'm using up all the free passes I can until I can snag a few more students to pay for my fitness club membership. It will be a lifestyle change. Yesterday, I worked out for the first time in a long time and it was awesome. I'm going again tomorrow. Only one problem: I've only got one pair of gym shorts and no washer and dryer.

Sooooo... a few days ago I fell victim to that blasted shamwow infomercial character and bought a shamwow at the bed bath and beyond.

It has sat in my closet, unopened, until tonight when I decided to give it a test on drying out my shorts. After I washed and rung out my shorts I laid them on a brand new sheet of BRIGHT orange shamwow and rolled them up, just like the commercial. I unrolled the shorts, expecting a miracle. The only thing that was missing from the scene was the Price is Right tuba/trombone loser music. What a gyp. What a sham. ShamWow my butt. Worse, what an idiot. Even worse, the stupid ugly-assed thing smells like the microwave after you cooked your cheeze-filled hot dog too long. Now my shorts no longer smell like sweaty man parts, but they smell like fatty cheeze hot dogs. AWESOME.

But still... a hot dog filled with cheese wouldn't be too bad right about now.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Geeking Out

I got a text from a friend a few days ago telling me that he heard Garrison Keillor on a Prarie home Companion mentioning that Central Pres was the church where none other than Charles Ives was music director and where Ives composed and premiered a bunch of his most played works. The organ is actually dedicated to him.

Charles Ives is one America's most famous composers. If you go to music school, you learn ALL about Mr. Ives. I geeked out so hard that I immediately emailed my professor.

So this past sunday, I improvised a postlude on the very same organ where THE Charles Ives sat and freaked out half his congregation with hymns played in two keys at once.

Pretty awesome.

Told you it was nerdy moment.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Rick, Rick, Rick

Poor Rick. Everywhere the man turns lately, he's getting the shift kicked out of him. He ticked off all the gays in the country by comparing them to chester molesters and then turned around and ticked of the Dobsonites by saying that he "never reaaaaally gave a crap about Gays getting married" and that he misspoke about Gays being the same as chester molesters.

Now he's basically saying that he doesn't want to talk about Gays anymore and wants to focus on AIDS and poverty. If I could paraphrase his last statement, it was something like this: "Yes, no... I mean... I think I don't care about Gay marriage... God loves us and has a purpose for marriage for molesters... I mean, queeeeerrrwEATHER we are having ain't it? No really, what I really like to do is... Well, I'd like to teach the world to sing: A perfect harmony. I'd like to buy the world a coke and keep it company. SING WITH ME NOW!"

I think Warren basically has that good old "I want everyone to like me syndrome." Can't judge a man for that.

I also think, in general, pastors should stay away from journalists and the t.v. That goes for you too, Joel-meister. No more Larry King interviews for you.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Busy busy

How in the hellck did things get so busy, AGAIN? As many of you know I started working as a music director at Central Pres. here in Manhattan. I haven't talked too much about it because honestly, I've been pretty much working my keister right off, which I've loved. And Lord knows the keister could use some of that working-off-business after that loooong winter. Luckily the Church is straight across Central Park so I get a good walk or two in every day. The scenery ain't too shabby either!

Tomorrow night Amber and I will be singing and leading with a couple other guys in a "contemporary" worship at our church. I really don't know what the heck that word "contemporary" means. I suppose it means worship that sounds like Coldplay. I think it should be changed to "whisper-worship or four-on-the-floor worship... on repeat." Whatever the case, its all music to me and it should be fun. It is sort of an interesting juxtaposition to be doing this music in a Gothic Cathedral. Some of the songs I haven't heard. Fun stuff.

I do have some big plans for this year. They may turn into little plans, but for now, they are still big. I hope to throw on an opera or two, and possibly do the Beethoven Choral Fantasy with our Choir, orchestra and this frigging unbelievable concert pianist friend of mine.

Also on the list is to start bringing CCM people in to sing. I think I'll start with trying for Shane and Shane or Beth Dillon first. I think the intimate setting would suit them kindly, plus a violinist friend of mine toured with Jeremy Camp and Bethany Dillon and he had the nicest things to say about those people. And I'm all about the good people. Plus I think that Shane Bernard and Beth Dillon have amazing voices.

I have to say that I do feel a little sorry for my choir. Every week I am throwing them a new challenge. And I change things constantly and they have to learn a LOT of stuff in short amount of time. However, they are just awesome. Incredible. For Easter they wanted to do the Hallelujah Chorus and I was too chicken to give it a go but most had it by memory and so for a surprise we did it for the postlude and it ROCKED.

Have I mentioned that I am now a confirmed fan of the PIPE ORGAN??? (No, I will never wear the slippers. Not happening. Not a chance.) Let me tell you something: There is not a more volcanic sound than the sound of a pipe organ in a Gothic cathedral under the fiery fingers and BUMBLING feet of Seth Ward. Maybe it is more fun for the player than for the listeners, but that baby can crank the db's! Last week I scared the crap out of the choir, and myself. I had punched the "pedal to great" button accidentally, which means all the pedal's foghorns go to the keyboard. So.... after we finished the apostles creed I busted into the Gloria Patri and it sounded like the a very close range rodeo horn... everywhere at once. The choir literally jumped. I almost let a cuss word fly myself.

On a serious note, sometimes I am playing in that church and I wonder what in the world I ever did to deserve to get to play in such a place and worship with such great people. I hope that I can continue to serve them in ways that only God will shine.

I get to play for the Harlem Boy's choir this week. (Now known as the New Amsterdam Choir.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Provide Caption

For instance:

"Hey Frankie, watch this! I can make mine cup carbonated!"

"And then the tiger awoke giggling and declared it the best dream he ever had."

Friday, April 10, 2009

E.T.'s Ark

Knowing is a movie that John Calvin might have enjoyed. However, I'm not sure if Calvin would have been a Nick Cage fan. As for me, I like him. My first film memory of Nicholas Cage is H.I. in Raising Arizona - one of my favorite movies. I usually like Cage in most of his movies, even the crappy, crappy ones. He has an innate quirky humor that carries his "I'm not supposed to be saving everyone's life" bravura, and it helps us believe that he could actually pull off landing that Con Air jet in downtown Vegas or Manhattan or wherever it was to deliver that oily bunny to his daughter.

Knowing, Cage's most recent and best film in years, is a difficult movie to explain but I'll give it a go in layman's terms. (layman=lazy)

Knowing begins back in the 1950s with an elementary school classroom burying a time capsule. The time capsule looks pretty amazing for any school to own. It looked like some cryogenic thingy that should be on the set of Jurassic Park VI, but whatever, its the movies.

So the kids are all supposed to bury a picture of what they think the future will look like. I'm very surprised that a school would think that their school would last that long. Especially an elementary school. Very few elementary schools last that long. Because of city growth and ever-changing zoning laws, elementary schools can change every 10-20 years, depending on the city and economic climate. Plus school buildings aren't built for longevity. But again, its the movies.

Every kid draws a cute little picture of the future with the usual stuff: spaceships, rockets, bombs. Everyone except the weird little girl that can't stop writing numbers. The teacher stops her before she is able to write the last few numbers, which I think is pretty lame. First off, if I had a little girl in my class that looked like she had wandered off the latest Night of the Living Dead set -all pale and weird and quiet- and this little girl was writing a billion numbers for her cryogenic assignment, I would have given her 10 extra seconds to finish off the last 10 numbers. But again, its the movies.

So they bury it. Flash forward 50 years. Enter Nick Cage, a MIT astrophysicist who teaches a class on chaos vs. predeterminism. A pretty cool class if it actually existed. We find out quickly that he lost his wife years ago and Nick has come to believe that life is a series of meaningless events, all given an extra bolt of kinetic angst by the fact that he is also... wait for it... A PREACHER'S SON. Big Surprise.

So Nick's son, a good little actor, is of course the one who gets the little zombie-girls cryogenic note from the past and he is suddenly hearing voices and is showing urges to write down a bunch of numbers himself. Of course the movie wouldn't be scary if it didn't have a weird looking albino man always lurking in the distance or showing up to give the little boy apocalyptic visions or little black stones for some reason.

But before the visions and numbers and whisper-voices start for the son, Nick takes the note one night during a drinking binge and discovers that the numbers are a series of events that have predicted every major disaster in the past 50 years, including the death of his wife, and also the events of next 10 days or so which also happens to be the end of the world.

So, Nick discovers that the show is fixed. The world's days are numbered, and there is NOTHING he can do about it. But that doesn't stop him from trying. Nick quickly locates the daughter of the weirdo little girl from the 50s and tries to find out what he can. The woman has a little girl and like Nick's son, she is hearing whispers as well. This of course leads them all to some scary place in the woods where sits an old abandoned trailer. And yes, like all sane parents, they leave the kids alone in the scary woods inside the truck for the Albino men to kidnap. And that's as far as I'll go.

Look to the title and use your imagination, or go see the flick, to imagine the ending.

What I liked about the movie:

First off, I loved the notion that man does not control the future. He doesn't. Maybe a little here or there, but for the most part, the sun will either rise, or it will burn out. Not a thing we can do about it. Someday an asteroid WILL smash into the earth and there will most likely be NOTHING anyone can do about it. There isn't an oil-digger on the planet that could land on the durn thing and plant a nuke in its belly to save us. The sky is a big, big place and by the time we see the earth-killer, there won't be NEARLY enough time to do anything about it. But we don't like that kind of talk. Lately, a team of scientists have been urging Obama to send a bunch of pollutants into the atmosphere to slow global warming. Not going to happen. Neither can we control the Earth's magnetosphere. Scientists have been waring of the approaching solstice and the potential plasma storm that cold pretty much cook us all, but the gov. would like to think that they can manufacture a volcano to stop the sun instead.

Remember when I said that I wished that the film Armageddon had ended with the asteroid hitting earth and the credits rolling to the backdrop of a red and fiery earth? Well...

So, I liked this movie for that purpose. It was also filled with a bunch of cool action sequences and cliffhanging suspense. Yadda yadda. All that stuff, though vital to the life and believability of the film, isn't as important as the philosophical question the film poses. And because all the action and the special effects and suspense served as a platform for the question, it was a success.

What I didn't like:

Color. I wish directors would stop jacking around with film saturation. The whole film was sorta ugly. Is anyone going to get tired of this technique??? What is so wrong with the color scheme the good Lord gave us? Why does everything have to have a shade of green? You'd think the sun was a the big lime in the sky. I've only seen on movie where I liked it (and I think that I would have liked it had it been done naturally as well) was O Brother Where Art Thou?

New York destruction: Before I lived here, I didn't mind this so much. But the scene with the subway crashing and scraping squishing every soul on the platform just made me squirm, and not in a good way. Every soul in the theater wanted to say, "Come on, dude. Pick on London, or Paris. Subways are scary enough and this is all our worst nightmare. Thanks for giving us a glimpse. Preciate it."

Aliens. Why does it always have to be aliens? Now, I will say that this film blurs the lines between alien and angel quite well, but I would have just preferred the spiritual route. After all, if our days are predetermined, they ain't predetermined by the Borg or the Klingons. That's pretty much a job for the the Almighty.

Other than these criticisms, I enjoyed it. It was depressing, and didn't catch me at the best time. Especially considering all the stuff happening in the world and that Times Square Church pastor predicting fire engulfing our cities and 2012 approaching and all, and that recent article about the sun shooting us with a plasma storm when our magnetosphere is at a weird angle in 2012... the year the Mayans predicted to be the end of the world.

That's about all the energy I have for this review. I'd recommend it, but only if you are feeling especially over-optimistic about the future of our world.

As a final note, I'd like to add this: I do wish that these big hollywood stars would stop with the hair plugs. Just go the Bruce Willis route. And that goes for you too, Tom Hanks.

Grade: B+

Thursday, April 09, 2009

U.S.A. new meaning...

Under Socialist Administration

Look out Cuba! Pretty soon you'll be the free ones and well be smuggling our cigars your way!

I do look forward to the day when 57-60% of our paycheck goes to crappy health care and new government funded buildings and businesses that look like cement blocks. Ah... if only we could skip forward to that bright and shiny day when that stray chicken is running down the middle of main street... I mean, can't you just wait until all our businesses are run by the same AMAZING standards set by the wunder-pack that is our Congress? I know I can't.

And let's get rid of all the finger-pointing. We are ALL to blame for where we are. Every person as guilty as the next. However, the party at the helm has done a GREAT job leading everyone to believe that the evil "CONSEEEERVATIVE Capitalists" are the ones to blame for the mess we are in. Nope. News-flash: It's sin, folks. Capitalist or Socialist, man will sin. If we hand out checks, people will refuse to get jobs and lie about their number of kids and their disabilities. I've seen it. I've lived in town where 90% sit on their butts all day and gripe about the size of their government check.

Maybe it is time that every American read Animal Farm again. A strange thing that that book could be a prophetic treatise about the future of American rather than the past of the U.S.S.R.

I watch in wonder at how "capitalism" is turned into a dirty little word. But people, every car you drive, every movie you watch, every restaurant where you feast, every television you buy, every book that you read... these all came from the machine and fires of capitalism. Are people really that stupid to be so easily duped? Yes. Yes they/we are. Look what happened to the Germans. The Nazis threw up a few propaganda videos associating Jews with rats, among other things and with in a few years every Jew in the third Reich was wearing an arm patch.

Truth is, Capitalism isn't evil. Neither is socialism. The great thing about our country is that we are a hybrid, where capitalism and socialism support the American dream: If you want something, if you dream of something, here is the place where it can happen. But you have to MAKE it happen, if God so allows it. This has been uniquely American. And this is dying. It is hard not to see it croak when you live in the heart of Capitalism. It really is, my friends. Ain't lying. Half of Wall Street is now owned by Uncle Obama.

All the while, surviving businessmen and entrepreneurs are being vilified by... well, you know.

And yet, I still hold out hope that he will succeed and give our country back to the people once we get on our feet. But right now, Obama controls the banks. Obama controls ALL the money in this here nation. It is an absolute first in the history of our country. That is too much power for any man. Unfortunately, I suppose... a necessary evil. I just hope it is a short lived necessary evil.

Interesting times we are living in people. Interesting times.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Movie Set Fun

I got to go onto the new Sarah Jessica and Hugh Grant movie set last night and watch a scene being filmed. VERY cool. I soaked up every minute of the process. It is amazing how many hours lights and shields and cranes and cameras and people and other odd and expensive looking things that must be put into place just so that two actors can stand in the rain for 5 seconds, peep into a window and sneak off into the distance. Incredible. They even had two double actors give it a go first. A good idea. I'd HATE to do that scene twice.

I felt sorry for Sarah Jessica Parker. Normally I wouldn't feel sorry for someone making 25k per day, but I did last night. And Hugh looked pretty miserable as well. As far as acting goes, it definitely took some of all the glitz and glam out of the whole movie star business. Because, my friends, the weather last night twas COLD. Those two had to jump around in non-winter clothing in uncommon 35 degrees wind while gallons of cold, fake rain was pumped upon their heads.

I clicked a bunch more pictures but Sarah requested those of us with cameras not take pictures of her soaking wet and miserable. Understandable. (She requested very nicely, and thanked our inconsiderate selves, btw. Very nice lady.) So, I won't post them. Here is a blurry one with their backs turned. I don't think they'd be upset about this one.

It was dark and unfortunately the iPhone doesn't take the best dark photos, and the best pictures of them are ones where they are SOAKING wet and hypothermic, but the pictures above gives you the look of the scene. They peek into a window, the UPS truck drives off and then Hugh and Sarah run like wild people our direction almost running into us on the sidelines. I'm pretty sure that what the were saying by the time they reached us wasn't in the script.

Looks like a fun movie!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

I'm Too Sexy for this Pulpit...

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- The former pastor of a prominent North Shore Episcopal church stands accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from his parish to pay for plastic surgery and Botox injections, as well as prescription drugs.

The Rev. William Blasingame, 66, who resigned in January as pastor of historic St. Paul's Memorial Episcopal Church, Stapleton, stole a total of $84,537 over the three years starting in January 2005, authorities contend.

Read the rest here...

Speaking of Botox... I saw this actress last night at a restaurant and she looked a teensy bit Botoxed. I don't get that Botox business. I understand why people do it. Why is it that some look like the bride of Chucky while some you can't really tell at all. Percilla Presley, for instance. Not trying to mean, but ouch, woman. And then, suddenly a friend shows up that you haven't seen in 10 years and they look younger than they did when you last saw them.

Whatever. Its all vanity. Twitter is the Botox of the internet. That's the only way I could think to close this here entry.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Goin' All Emmerson

I can't handle the news lately. It is just too depressing. Every time I turn it on I feel like I have just tossed my good spirits into a pond of starving piranhas. It takes me all of five minutes to want to start stockpiling cash, weapons and water.

I'm sorry, but I get weirded out when our President asks the CEO of GM to resign... and HE DOES IT. I know a couple countries where that could happen. Cuba, for one. I get a little weirded out when our president can put a cap on how much people at banks can make. I know another country where the government can do that... North Korea.

So, I turn the tube off. It does me no good. And there are better things in life than the news.

Anyways, they are filming a motion picture at our church this Monday and Tuesday. I have an opportunity to meet the A-listers but I think I might chicken out. What do you think? I'm pretty sure I'd just make a total nincompoop of myself.

They were there last week and I went down to grab a bite from the catered set in our church basement. I waited till I was sure that all the A-listers had left the building and everyone was done eating. At first it all seemed that I would make my way through the line unnoticed as everyone was now seated and eating.

And man, what food! Lordy, these movie people eat like KINGS. Thus the lingering and stacking... thus the lingering too long and stacking too much. I took my sweet time so as to not have to come back, and in doing so, I lingered too long.

As I loaded up a little plate of gourmet desert on top of my big plate of salmon something-or-other, a man started talking behind me to the seated and eating crowd of actors with a very loud voice. That wouldn't have been so bad had he not been talking directly behind me, causing everyone to look at ME and not him. And it wouldn't have been so bad had he not been the DIRECTOR. And it wouldn't have been so bad had I not decided to stick that roll in my mouth because I had no room for it on my 4 plates. By the time I was fully noticed by everyone but the DIRECTOR, I looked like the main event at a food Cirque du Soleil event. I prayed to the good Lord that I wouldn't drop anything and chewed at my roll as I left the room.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

I Sure Like British Journalism

I guess the NY Times aren't the only ones bewitched by our President. That's it, next press conference, I'm going to see if Obama twinkles his nose when a tough question comes his way.

Ahhh, if only we could trade journalists...

At least the Brits have the guts to stand up and say, "Excuse me, you've got a bit of drool there... yes, just there, Mr. Prime Minister. And, by the way, you wouldn't need any help sowing your lips to Obama's hind quarters, would you?"

You got to give it to our buddies across the Ocean, they know that a monarchy is better for show than for real. (Note Price reference to Obama... ahem. As in, "hint, hint, Americans...")