Thursday, September 28, 2006

Apologies to the Cycling Group

Our Adventure Cyclist went out almost two weeks ago on a lovely warm weather foray and I missed it in the blog. My apologies to the intrepid Uni-cyclers (two wheels, one church).

Like to bike? This group is headed out again in two weeks to The Pony Pasture for a picnic (say it five times fast) after services October 22. This is our largest circle with 24 people signed up.

Come on, sugar. Make it 25.

Monday, September 25, 2006

5 bands in 2 nights this week

That's right I heard FIVE bands this week. It was kind of by accident, and I only heard one set of each, but here's my super speed listener review...

The Taters were doing their rockabilly, Roy Orbison, toe-tapping, big grinning music thing at Shenanigans mid-week. Honestly, no one else should be allowed to do Roy but these guys. They sounded good, were having a fun time with the crowd, and kept drawing gals to the dance floor. Jimmy Wark and his pink paisley guitar were in attendance, as was the ever chipper Harry Gore who sat in on a couple of tunes.

Chez Roue was swingin' the night away at Cafe Diem with the ever-morphing boogie boys and a few of the regulars. Sitting in for Johnny Hott who is on tour with Sparklehorse were not one, but two drummers. They looked like negative images of each other but both sounded good. My gal Becky and I were particularly impressed by the one who looked 16 but played like... well, Johnny Hott. There were also not one, but TWO keyboardists. Both play regularly with the band, but what a treat to have them together! Roger, Jonathan, and Sulser were all in great form but a special kudos to Sulser who absolutely NAILED the two songs we heard him sing on. And many thanks to all three for joining us, even if only briefly, on the dance floor. You are gentlemen musicians, indeed.

Billy Ray Hatley and the Showdogs played an opener for Dale Watson over the weekend. It was a joy for this groupie to see how a crowd of the uninitiated warmed to my dogs. The boys went very pro with their set: leaning to the country side of their expansive collection, keeping the banter brief and the music rockin', all in all producing a tight, clean set. Unfortunately, Drew the fiddle man is on tour (no, not with Sparklehorse), because he would have loved it and the crowd would have digged him. Also, I was sorry that Jimmy Wark was under the weather with a bug. Must have been the Taters the night before. He played through it, but looked a little puckish toward the end of the set. Get well soon, buddy man.

Dale Watson is a wiry man of enormous talent. He has a huge voice, clever writing, great musicianship, a face remarkably similar to Billy Bob Thornton, a tight and talented band, and one of the most beautiful smiles I have ever seen on a stranger. Unfortunately, the man will not shut up. It's a simple request, really. Sing, Mr. Watson. Shut the talking up, and sing.

I guess it's a good thing he didn't shut up, though, because I got disgusted, walked out, and went to see...

American Dumpster! This band is either going to get very very big or they are going to go nuclear and disappear. They had one of the rockiest beginnings to a set I've seen in YEARS. They were late, missing one member, poorly introduced, heckled, malfunctioning in the sound department, and then part of the equipment hit the floor in the middle of a song. That was 10 minutes into the set. An hour later the dance floor was full, the band was complete, and I was contemplating a move back to Charlottesville so I could see them more often. When they are good, American Dumpster is truly THAT GOOD. As for frontman Breeden - let us all say a quiet prayer of thanksgiving that he did not choose to start a cult, become a despot, or get his own talk show. He is one of the most magnetic performers I've seen from seven feet away. And he doesn't talk too much. (Someone call Dale Watson.)

I am My Own Wife at Firehouse Theatre

The Performing Arts Circle went to see the Firehouse Theatre Production of I Am My Own Wife. Some of you may recall that we intended to see the Richmond Triangle Players' Production of Sordid Lives. They were sold out, so I just said, "Hey, you can go two blocks down and see ANOTHER play with a man in drag!" The Performing Arts Circle is full of flexible people just looking for a good play with somebody in a dress, so they said, "No prob."

After 4 book groups, an Adventure Circle foray into the Heart of Darkness, and hearing 5 bands in a week(see next post), I went home to rest while the group checked out the play. Sunday AM rolled around and they all agreed that:
a) it was a great play, b) Scott Wichmann is a genius of an actor, and (c) you and I have to go see it.

Oddly enough, I have the autobiography of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf which inspired the playwright. In German it is Ich bin meine eigene Frau, which I always translated as "I am my own woman." Personally, the idea of being my own woman is far more appealing than being my own wife, but I guess I'm not a post Nazi, height of Stasi, German transvestite, so what do I know?

Adventure Circle Attacked!

The Adventure Circle set out on our first activity of the new church year: a scavenger hike along the Mighty James River! It was a beautiful day and we were all looking forward to sniffing some air, enjoying the beauty of the great outdoors, and hoofing it a bit. My boy, Little Man, joined us and wore his firefighter's uniform, complete with plastic axe. Unfortunately, we were attacked by several plagues of Pentateuchal proportions that not even an axe could handle.

First Plague: The plague of the consensus. The group was given four choices of spots on the James. They chose the Wetlands. Seemed like no big deal, but it led to...

Second Plague: The plague of the lost guide. No, really. I knew where the other three choices were. After consulting with a beautiful gutter cleaner whom I mistook for a man (Sorry, Beverly!), an octogenarian named Boopsie, a former undertaker, and...a MAP, we found the Wetlands 30 minutes and about 8 blocks later. But then we wished we hadn't due to...

Third Plague: The mosquito swarms. I'm a lifelong Richmonder and I can honestly say that I have never seen mosquitoes in swarms like this, which takes us back to the first plague. They call 'em wetlands for a reason, folks! Did we learn nothing from those Jamestown settlers?I've got some photos to download on the blog (when I remember where my hardware is) of Doug's neck that had 6 bites in a two inch strip.

Fourth Plague: The laid back hikers. Every hiking group should have one type A personality. Ours had three but we were all on vacation for the morning. After 40 minutes of relaxing meandering about the Wetlands, and spastic skeeter swatting, we simultaneously realized that we'd wandered into...

Fifth Plague: Lost again and running out of extra blood for mosquitos.

I'll skip the rest because it all ended well. It was definitely an ADVENTURE. We finished the day with a great meal at Ellwood Thompson's Natural Grocery. Little Man's fire helmet came in handy to keep the swarms off. And there was no risk of any of us sleeping in the service the next AM.

We were too busy scratching.

The Wake of War by Anne Nivat

The Davies book group met last week to discuss Anne Nivat's The Wake of War which has been translated from the French and published by Beacon Press, a publishing house of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Unfortunately, only one in the group had finished the book due to shipping and library issues. (Dear Amazon, you stink. Hugs and kisses. The Rev.) However, we were all stopped in our tracks by this work, so the discussion was lively and deep.

Nivat travelled around the Fertile Crescent and Afghanistan doing first person interviews for months. She wore veils and modest attire. She ate and co-habitated with families, and she just talked. Every day talking. She talked to radicals and conservatives, men and women, young and old, rural and urban, formally and self-educated. She then tried to give as much of their first person accounts as possible. The result is dissatisfying only if you are looking to be told what to believe. For the rest of us, it is stunning, eye-opening, and, naturally, very sad at times.

We all agreed that this book is a must read for all Americans. The book is overflowing with what we don't see this on network news or in most local papers. We are all unlikely to tavel there, much less immerse ourselves into the many sub-cultures of the region. As long as our sons and daughters, sisters and brothers are being sent to these countries, the very least we can do is learn a bit about the people who inhabit the land and their feelings and beliefs about war.

This was an amazing and emotionally complex book with which to begin this group's discussions. Next month we move from global politics to the human body and medicine when we discuss Atul Gawande's Complications. There are still some spaces in this book group if you are interested.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman

The Channing book group met this week to discuss Misquoting Jesus. The group felt that this was a great read and essential to anyone wanting to talk about Biblical authenticity. It has pictures, too!

Ehrman, a UNC professor and protege of preeminent scholar Bruce Metzger, makes biblical criticism accessible to an audience beyond the seminary. (Not that I fully grasped it in seminary.) He gives a concise and engaging history of the early "back to the sources" guys who pioneered the efforts to translate accurately and carefully. He also describes how texts were altered in the first place: the why, who, and why of the ancient typo.

Needless to say, there are significant religious implications to Ehrman's work. Our group didn't have any issues with that at all. In fact, several were wondering how to get this book on the nightstands of some of their co-workers and family members.

Fans of this work, Rev. Jeanne is scheming up a Spring class on this topic, so keep your eyes and ears open for more.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Christopher’s Runaway Gourmet

THE CART has been reviewed in Style Weekly’s latest issue, and favorably to boot. For those of you who spend too much time outside the city limits, THE CART is how in-the-know urbanites refer to the four street lunch-carts of Christopher’s Runaway Gourmet. I know all about the cart. I am cart cool. OK, well, I'm directly related to a cart cool person.

My husband is working his way through his new career which limits cart intake. A year ago he was eating at THE CART twice a week. I feared that he might not want to make the job switch last year because it would interfere with his cart life. You think I'm kidding? Only barely.

You can learn a lot about a person from their cart choices. Most of my favorite people are tuna, fruit, and cheese orderers. (Hubby included.) Buddy and coworker Angie insists on segregation of the fruit and tuna but the rest of them risk it and let 'em mingle.

I am a variety gal. Like the shrimp salad, and the tuna, and the chicken. Willing to arm wrestle for the cuke salad. I never turn down the noodles, and the fruit helped me through two pregnancies. I always splurge on the butter for the baguette and so should you. By the way, our cart is the one between 8th and 9th on Main ruled by the lovely, talented, and neighborly Liz and Patricia. I've known Patricia since I was 6 and she was 8. She wouldn't even give me a graham cracker then, but she's warmed up to me in the past couple decades. Both gals are fellow Bellevue-ers.

I have recently become acquainted with Christopher himself. Hardworking Daddy of 3 of the most lovely girls imaginable and he has very good taste in music of the hip and rockin’ variety. In other words, likable even if he didn’t create manna, but he does.

Back to the Bible Grindstone

I'm teaching my Bible class again. I love this class. I have to have the most rad combination of Bible students ever gathered. There's about a 60 year age range, lots of personality, sceptics, agnostics, faith repairers and rebuilders, Hebrew scholars, (OK - just one, but he's tall so he seems like more), and some Bible newbies. I spend way too much time with my nose in commentaries, textbooks, and study Bibles to prepare each week, but I really love the class.

Come and join us. Rumor has it that you've never been taught Bible like this, but I don't know what they mean by that. (It appears to be meant as a compliment.)

WHEN: Sundays 9:30 AM in the Library of First UU Richmond

WHAT: 5 weeks of Genesis study

HOW: We go over multiple schools of bib-crit including: source, text, literary, and Alane-o-pastiche (that would be my school.)

MORE INFO: Check out my other blog Biblical Intrigues or come on out. We are doing this leg of study until 2nd week in October.

Check Out Donald O'Bloggin

A comment from another UU blogger on my September 16 Luddite post led me to his blogsite. This guy makes his own HAGGIS. Whoaaaa! I can't even eat the stuff. Making it should be a graduate level culinary school credit for the gross out factor alone.

In other words: Cool new friend! Check him out!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Told you I was a Recovering Luddite

Today is techno-idiot hell. My Norton Security is yelling at me for not knowing the product key. I couldn't get my DSL installed. Three simple steps, my sweet patootie. The Amazon order that was to arrive in 2-4 days is AWOL. I know, I said I wouldn't shop with them. Lesson learned.
But the worst of all...

I just found the comments moderation page on my blog. Just now. Today. After 9 months of blogging. My biggest disappointment of blogging has been that no one comments. I felt like I had no connections to other people and it was pretty uninspiring. Turns out, I have lots of connections to other people. Really cool people. Interesting, thoughtful people who think I'm a schmuck because I didn't acknowledge their thoughtful comments.

I really want to cry.

"More music reviews!" shouted one. You got it, baby. Late, but you got it.

Another gave feedback on Vespers thank you, and another on a Wilco show sorry I missed it. Sisyphus has been rocking to "Deuce" and put in his two cents worth. There were comments on Kurt Vonnegut, God, and the moon. And they were all beautifully written and really great.

Maybe I will just cry.

The one that puts me over the edge is from someone named Enrique who let me know that the Mars thing was an Internet hoax. I could have really used that information when he sent it at the beginning of August. Instead I went outside night after night. I drove around looking for vantage points. I asked my friends if they had seen it. I blamed my hairdresser's marital quibbling on the proximity of Mars. I don't really mind being duped by an Internet hoax not involving money or my hard drive crashing, but the thought that the valiant Enrique had tried in vain to save me...

Time to cry now.

As my screen saver says, "Stoopid Computer."

Friday, September 15, 2006

Sisyphus gets published

Be sure to check out the September 13 post by Sisyphus called Dividing Line. It is a Style Weekly Back Page article. You can link to Sisyphus through my links under "Fellow UU blogger".

Sisyphus is a member of my congregation and an active political blogger.

Lamb by Christopher Moore

The Alcott Book Group met this week to discuss the outrageous and irreverent Lamb by Christopher Moore. Personally, I believe we should achieve some kind of church book group icon status for kicking off the year with this wild romp.

Lamb is the life story of Jesus that the other Gospels left out. It is satire, adventure tale, world religion primer, homage to the Apocrypha, and salute to adolescence all rolled up in one. Imagine that Carl Hiasen meets Marcus Borg and they write a novel which Dave Barry and Ram Dass edit.

The group liked it. The group surprised itself by how much they liked it. All agreed that Christopher Moore is a very smart man who was born to write this book. The language, violence, language, strong sexual content, adolescent humor, and language couldn't dissuade us from our unanimous approval. Then again, maybe that's why...

Alcott Book Group is currently full. We are meeting again on October 12 to discuss The Lighthouse by P.D. James. Please email me if you would like to be on the waiting list to join.

The Known World discussed by Fuller Book Group

The Fuller Book Group met this week to discuss The Known World by Edward Jones. This Pulitzer Prize winner and Go Read! selection is a novel about Virginia slavery, specifically African American slave owners. Talk about upsetting.

If you like Southern storytelling style, he manages to capture in written form all kinds of quirky examples of that style in an original way that makes this literature, perhaps requiring a capital L. If you are annoyed by that style, the liberal dollops of foreshadowing as narrative device are most likely going to irk you.

Members of the book group liked how the author portrayed the women characters and his use of supernatural elements. Those of us from the South felt that he captured an authentic sense of place. All agreed that we were glad we read it and would recommend it to others, even in light of the many tragic elements.

There are still some spaces left in the Fuller Book Group. Our next meeting is on Monday, October 9 at 7PM when we will discuss Wonderful, Wonderful Times by Nobel prize winner, Elfriede Jelinek.

Vespers September 12

Vespers continues to grow in popularity. (See previous posts on this short, contemplative service held every Tuesday at 5:30 PM.) Each week has a different theme, format, and eclectic sources. Rev. Pupke and I take turns leading Vespers.

I led Vespers this week on the theme: when words aren’t enough. We read poetry by Pulitzer Prize winning poet Henry Taylor, listened to Cajun jazz, and closed with meditation accompanied by the sounds of waves crashing on a shore.

We are returning to attendance numbers that may call us to move from the library back into the Great Hall. We will let you know when it is time for that move. Hope you can join us next Tuesday.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Water Ceremony Last Sunday

As publicized, we did our water ceremony a little differently this year. In the past, people have verbally shared stories about their water: where it came from, what they did or did not do this summer, etc. This year I was so upset by the violence across the world, but particularly the eruption in Lebanon and Israel, that I felt we needed a more somber event.

The themes of the service were: water, peace, and a sense of home. My partner in ministry, Jeanne, told stories that were meaningful to all ages about water, hope, and peace. I talked about water and the sense of home. (Home is where the water doesn't taste funny to you.) Everyone brought their water up and then placed pins in maps showing where they came from. It was a well-received service, and I am glad we made the change. (You just never know until you do it if these changes will work.)

A few words from the service: We bring water from our travels to represent the journey within. We bring water to contribute to the community. To share. This year we do this silently. In honor of those who did not have the luxury of respite this summer. In honor of those who knew no peace. In honor of those looking for home.

The Ninth Step

This week I visited the AA meeting we rent space to in our church basement. I try to stop by yearly to personally welcome them into our space. It is an honor to be a place that provides sanctuary to people. I also admire people who are in recovery, and support groups, so I really enjoy welcoming this particular group. This year I stayed for the meeting. They were discussing in depth the ninth step.

If you do not know about the 12 steps to recovery, the ninth step is about making amends to those you have harmed. This means different things to different people. For some it involves paying off debt, to others an apology (or many) is required, and for many this is just the first part of the process of rebuilding trust with their loved ones. Sometimes this is the step where they realize that there are some bridges that will never be rebuilt.

The testimonies were powerful and personal. I will be inspired by them for a long time. They made me think of the upcoming High Holy Days. Making amends is a significant part of the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. In preparation for the Yom Kippur, a rigorous self-inventory is expected as spiritual discipline. One cannot atone in secret is the basic message of both Yom Kippur and AA.

For that reason, my October 1 sermon will be called "Growing Up and OwningUp."