The Entertainment Report

The problem with delayed updates is that there is way too much to say!

There have been movies! There have been books! There has been music!

Not to mention the Inauguration, two trips, one to Roanoke and one to Richmond and the anticipation of starting Spring term on the 4th!

Let’s start with the movies. I saw Slumdog Millionaire right before it won a bunch of Golden Globes so I was right there with them when they celebrated their unexpected win. It’s a gorgeous film, full of the tragic bittersweet comedy of life, set in India and somehow illuminates the paradox of savage beauty that exists there… the poverty and caste systems that grind people up and spit them out and the joyful triumph of overcoming it.

I also checked out StepBrothers on DVD and thought it was quirky and sweet if forgettable. I felt like the director watched the movie several times and purposefully added gross out humor in to the slow spots to juice it up for the primo demographic for that film…young adult males. While visiting my mom in Richmond during the Inauguration we also watched Appaloosa, a western featuring Scott Glen, Viggo Mortensen and Renee Zelwegger. It was entertaining and had flashes of humor. Zelwegger irritates the spit out of me a good half of the times I see her in films. Don’t know what it is. However, she looks really cute in an upcoming film called New in Town.

Now on to Books: Peace Like a River by Leif Enger is a fantastic read. It is so well written and engrossing that everything I’ve read since suffers in comparison. Better reviewers than I have described this novel which wrapped around my heart the way Huckleberry Finn did when I was a child, still my all time favorite.

Dead for 10 minutes before his father orders him to breathe in the name of the living God, Reuben Land is living proof that the world is full of miracles. But it’s the impassioned honesty of his quiet, measured narrative voice that gives weight and truth to the fantastic elements of this engrossing tale. From the vantage point of adulthood, Reuben tells how his father rescued his brother Davy’s girlfriend from two attackers, how that led to Davy being jailed for murder and how, once Davy escapes and heads south for the Badlands of North Dakota, 12-year-old Reuben, his younger sister Swede and their janitor father light out after him. But the FBI is following Davy as well, and Reuben has a part to play in the finale of that chase, just as he had a part to play in his brother’s trial. It’s the kind of story that used to be material for ballads, and Enger twines in numerous references to the Old West, chiefly through the rhymed poetry Swede writes about a hero called Sunny Sundown. That the story is set in the early ’60s in Minnesota gives it an archetypal feel, evoking a time when the possibility of getting lost in the country still existed. Enger has created a world of signs, where dead crows fall in a snowstorm and vagrants lie curled up in fields, in which everything is significant, everything has weight and comprehension is always fleeting. This is a stunning debut novel, one that sneaks up on you like a whisper and warms you like a quilt in a NorthDakota winter, a novel about faith, miracles and family that is, ultimately, miraculous.Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

I’ve also been meandering through The New Kings of Nonfiction edited by Ira Glass
It’s a collection of the best new non fiction writers stories. Magazine and newspaper articles written with emotional engagement and cleverness, wit and more than a touch of humor. It’s great on the metro on my way to church.

There’s also been some interesting music. I watched Oprah quite by accident on the 19th and saw the premier of America’s song. It was incredibly inspiring. Sung by, Faith Hill, Seal, Mary J. Blige and Bono it somehow reminded me that America isn’t hampered because of it’s differences and divisions but strengthened by them. Check it out!

Then there was a trip to Roanoke the weekend before the Inauguration. Had dinner at Grace’s Place pizza which turned out to be very tasty and inexpensive and then went and had hot beverages to keep warm at Mill Mountain coffee downtown. I love their English Breakfast tea which they serve in a little pot. Tastes so much better than bags or even sachets. I went home and had a glass of wine and caught up on some TV before snuggling up and sleeping all tangled up, safe and secure and utterly at peace for the first time in weeks.

The next morning I had warm bagels and watched the news and vegged out until 3 in the afternoon when I went out to meet my friends Christina and Jennifer and her adorable girls.  Afterwards we went to the good ol’ Fork in the Alley for an early dinner/late lunch before I had to head home. They have killer hot dawgs. Almost as good as the Dew Drop…almost. I can’t wait to eat there next month! That’s the first place I am eating when I go home for Mardi Gras. I am gonna’ have a chili cheese burger, fries and fried okra! Mmmm. Too bad my daughter won’t be with me, she always got the onion rings and I usually swiped one. I could never eat more than that, but I liked having one. We went home where we lingered for a while before loading up both cars and then saying our goodbyes. It was a wonderful tonic though to see me through until the 30th.

After I came back and worked most of the day Sunday at the 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. services Sunday, I was so overwhelmed by the crowds on the metro on my way back home that I decided to go to Richmond for the rest of the Inaugural. There must have been several thousand people crammed into the train I squeezed on to. It was only 2 stops before they exited at the stop closest to the Lincoln Memorial where they were going to attend the free concert there, but the station was crammed with people too, and the people who exited had very little room on the platform to get off the train onto. Phew. Once they were off though it was OK until I got off at the last station. When I parked there in the morning it was practically empty. Now they had barricades up and lines had formed. They were checking every person before they went through the turnstiles. It was scary. All the more reason to hit the road.

I went home, did some laundry, packed my car and bailed. I couldn’t reach my mom on the phone so she was a little surprised when I woke her up banging on the door, but happy to see me none the less. She was off for a bit so we got to spend some quality time together. We went to dinner at Carrabas, got a couple of videos and then ran some errands together the next day. I played with my puppy dog the whole time and he slept with me too. I miss him a bunch and get to pick him up to take home on the 29th.

In the meantime, there is Ice Skating at the sculpture garden at the National Gallery of Art on Friday, I give my 3rd sermon in the big church at the 12:10 on Monday (!) and it’s on Paul’s conversion no less. I have Saturday off to do something fun and I am giving a presentation on using technology to grow your church on Tuesday to the Church Growth committee. So lots of stuff to look forward to.

I have one solitary ache in my heart but I am counting on God to assuage it. I trust that he will. He is all that I ever need.


The color of grouch

Blue is the color of sadness and also of cold, so I think it’s accurate to say that I’m a little blue. I am not sure why I am feeling so gloomy, but I am. It might have something to do with me missing my friends, church, mom and Tucker. I am not getting any exercise here either so that can’t help.

Last Sunday I worked at two services at the altar. At the 7:45 a.m. service I was a chalicist, and at the 9:00 a.m. I was a chalicist and reader. While serving at the altar I ended up being on the side where President and Laura Bush were receiving the Eucharist so I actually made eye contact with both of them. They intinct, or dip the wafer in the wine.
Whatever my own political beliefs, in church we are all the same before God. We are there because it is so easy to sin or drift away from God, and we all seek a closer relationship with him. So for that moment they aren’t the President and First Lady, but two parishioners seeking what we all do in communion, union with the holy.

At the 9:00 a.m. service I read the Epistle and chaliced as well as giving the dismissal. Pretty cool. That was something I’d never done and it was a tingly experience. Sunday I also burned my fingers on a kettle on the stove at my hostess’s house. This would be the same kettle she cautioned me to check to make sure it had water before turning on the heat since another houseguest burned up the last one. Before I left in the morning for church I put water in it and not really thinking I just turned the kettle on when I came in since I was freezing. In the interim, Ellen had used all the water in the pot I’d left. So her very nice, very expensive enamel kettle burnt up and damaged not only the kettle but the burner on which it rested. In my haste to remove it from the stove I ended up getting a couple of surface burns that blistered up on top of two of the fingers of my left hand. Ouch. It hurt so bad and for so long I went up and got some Neosporin pain relief and “aqua pad” burn dressing to cover them. I also had to report to Ellen what I’d done, since she was visiting her mother in D.C. when it happened. It was hard to make that call, but she has been so understanding about it. I felt like such an idiot and was all jangled up for hours.

I’d also heard that my 16 year old nephew was car jacked in Mobile and had a couple of men put guns to his head before he was able to flee on foot. He got glass in his feet because he’d just been wearing flip flops and he lost them in his haste to get away. The only car he and my sister had was taken and the Police said they expect it to be ditched and set on fire. He also lost all his money and his cell phone. They used his VISA debit card to buy gas at 5 different places in a nearby town called Pritchard. Hopefully he will get that back since they were fraudulent charges.

I’ve decided to take a quick trip back to Roanoke this weekend to get some things I left behind. I think it will be restorative. I’ll leave Thursday night and come back Saturday night. I am at the altar this Sunday at the 9:00, the 11:00 and am supposed to shadow a Lay Eucharistic Minister here. The woman I will be going with is really cool though. I met her last night at a training session for community organizers that I attended with the Reverend Saunders. She and I talked for most of the dinner portion about how weird it is to us that everyone intincts in the state of Virginia and even here in the DC area. We both spent most of our lives in churches where most people shared the common cup and to do otherwise was perceived as Eucharistically incorrect. We had a good old Episcopalian gabfest. It was awesome.

I also had a nice noontime Eucharist today with a visiting minister who I talked about my “call” with. She said she also got a very strong call and that she used to feel weird about it in seminary where people were saying things like , it just seems like a good career. In the long run though she said it’s been a tremendous blessing because she has never felt lost in her sense of mission. I can identify with that. I also identified with being surrounded by a group of people who were more focused on the the material, social and external world reasons for church work than any sense of the holy and awesome presence of God. This never happened at St.John’s in Roanoke, but I am guessing it is a common thing in the church.

This goes back to my philosophy of church being a place to worship God, not to make ourselves feel better. What I experienced during my near death experience was enough to inspire lifelong awe, amazement and a sense of how we can be both so incredibly small before the greatness that is God, and so dearly loved at the same time. My worship comes from that place and when I work in a service it is to that moment that I turn to meditate before it begins.

Thursday I will also work with the Hispanic Youth Group and I really look forward to it. I had a great time with them last Thursday when we went bowling. They are full of energy and life. I’ll try and get some pics I took there printed to take to them.

I will write a Lent meditation for the churches in-house Lenten publication by Friday and am ruminating on a Homily I am to give at the weekday service on Monday the 26th.

Tonight I am on my own for dinner etc. so I am thinking of driving out to the Leesburg Outlet Mall, I think I might find a good deal on a kettle there to replace the one I burned up and with tomorrow’s temps and all my warmest stuff at the cleaners I am thinking a quick dash through the bargains might be in order.

Perhaps that will de-grouchify me.

Monday is a Fencing Day

Even though I am very sore from my Tango with the storm door, I truly enjoyed my fencing class tonight. There is something incredibly empowering about suiting up in the breastplate, glove and fencing jacket, taking foil in hand and lunging at a target. The satisfying feel of the tip making contact when you strike, the successful execution of complicated patterns of form and function as you learn them… these things combine to make my body feel young, lean and strong.

I am older than anyone in the class, even today’s instructor, but I felt more powerful and agile. Exercise is good for me. My body is really built for it and I get that runner’s high quicker than anyone I know. When all cylinder’s are firing, I can’t believe that 6 years ago I weighed a hundred pounds more than I do now. My mind is so centered and focused, the target and then the coach and his voice become my world. Later, I envision hours of effortless practice and someday competing at this sport. It could happen.

Today was also my first Chaplaincy studies class this term. Getting things back on track for Spring semester is all about starting the world’s biggest To Do list:
-Start organizing my new club: The Canterbury Society to fall under SRLA
-Organize the launch of the club by arranging an event featuring a speaker and music
-Come up with a giveaway for next Tuesday’s Spritual Fair…OH yeah, and have all your club materials and the date for the event nailed down by THEN
-Tomorrow evening is the Ghana mission trip info meeting @ church
-Schedule a meeting in DC at the National Cathedral with the Vicar to finalize the new Internship for Hollins students that I negotiated LAST term
-Read, read, read…for Film class tomorrow, for Sp. Top. Leadership in Africa

I also am thinking about where I should have my Birthday party. I want it to be cool, involve good food, drinks and kickass entertainment. I hope people WANT to come. It’ll either have to be on March 8 or 15th. I wonder when Spring break is…aha…Spring Break is the week after the 15th! It’ll have to be on the 8th. My actual Birthday is the 12th so the party will have to be early and not late. Everyone will be gone during Spring Break.

Last year I did it at the Children’s Museum in Mobile,AL and we did a Mummy Exhibit and Imax and then we had cake and punch and a craft and we all played like we were kids again. But there are a lot more adults this year and tons of college kids. Different audience.

Hrmmm. I must think on this.

“I really shouldn’t be doing this…”

To paraphrase a song by George Strait…but in this case I am simply referring to staying up way past my bedtime and posting. I have a lot to review in my mind though, and writing it down seems to help. I still haven’t come up with a really good second story to match the quality of the first movie idea I had. I have three small ideas and am trying to decide which one would has the greatest chance of working. Tomorrow I will try and put together a shot list for each and see if that directs me.

Today in Film as Narrative Art we watched El Mariachi. I enjoyed it. I have seen all the others in the Rodriguez series, so I was glad to see the first. Neat to see his humble beginnings and also to see how Antonio Banderas grew the character.

In Creating the American Nation we watched part of a documentary about slavery that I found very disturbing. I just am having such a hard time with this part of the class. I always have trouble forcing myself to witness man’s inhumanity to man, but this is just emotional to me. Maybe because its first thing in the morning, or its the sheer helplessness of it, or the fact that I have been surrounded by the effects of this issue since my birth in Mobile, AL that it just grieves me so. I was moved to tears and hoped no one saw me during parts of the film. Just horrible. 🙂

I did some test shooting with the Bolex today and that was exciting. I have conquered my fear of loading and using it. Hurrah! In Film Production we learned how to set up a light kit in case we need to film inside.

The busiest part of the day was supporting the club SRLA (Spiritual and Religious Life Association) in their fundraiser. They sell carnation bouquets to the parents of freshman and then assemble and deliver them to dorms. So I worked with them to rustle up some volunteers and do some delivery. It was a lot of fun, though time consuming. I ended up getting home quite late.

I completed my first article for Columns. I will have to type up the second in the morning. I also need to take my quantitative reasoning test if I can then, to just get it out of the way. I was able to drop piano, so no prob there. Oh and my migraine seems to have abated somewhat.

I spoke to Dean O’Toole about the technology platform on which to publish the online version of the paper and she agreed with me that it is really a President Gray call. She asked for a couple of days to figure out the best way to handle that. I pointed out what I thought were the pros/cons of using a hosted tool. The biggest con is that we will sacrifice some advertising control at the national level, but I think we can make editorial calls to combat that. (If they run ads for credit cards, we can add a column about managing your finances/debt responsibly.) The benefit of letting the staff learn how to use a tool like to produce, market and traffic a paper and its advertising is enormous from a “on the job” training perspective. Those are skills that are worth money in the marketplace right now. There are jobs in Roanoke for those types of skills. There are even more lucrative jobs in major cities all over the country. They are also somewhat technical in nature jobs even though they are relatively “soft” tech. So they are WELL PAID. Women need the kinds of opportunities these skills would provide them. I think a little compromise on the college’s part would be wise in this instance, not only for the girl’s sake, but for the enrichment of the overall journalism program.

Well, I’ll get off my soapbox now. I am actually getting sleepy so I will go say my prayers and get some rest.

To end on another quote, quite out of place…

“Tomorrow is another day.”

-Scarlett O’Hara- “Gone With The Wind”