Thursday, February 28, 2008

Jerry Springer The Opera

I forgot to tell you something. I apologize. I've been a bit busy. (At this point my regular readers chime in: "two churches, two children, too much. Whine on, blah, blah, blah...")

But my fellow bloggers will understand. Sometimes amazing things happen and we just forget to blog them.
I saw "Jerry Springer, The Opera" while I was in NYC. It was two nights only at Carnegie Hall. Harvey Keitel channeled Jerry for the evening, CNN covered the protests outside, and the New York Times gave it one of its most glowing reviews ever.

Being the ninny that I am, I heard "Jerry Springer" and didn't want to go. I had asked for high brow from my darling NYC host, Brian. He said, "Baby girl, I got you low brow and high brow. We've got tickets to Jerry Springer, the Opera!" He was oh-so-pleased. I wanted to wring his neck.

I was dreading it. I tried to work up a cold. I had wanted German dramaturgy, or a good Russian symphony. Maybe even some sturm and drang performance art. Jerry Springer? The Opera?

The morning before the show I start getting text messages from home: "Turn on CNN." "Springer opera on TV. Sounds GREAT."

Read the Times review for a full explanation, but let me say, it was some of the greatest opera I've heard in awhile. The cast was jaw dropping good. The language will make your ears fall off, but the music is BEAUTIFUL, and catchy, and moving, and sophisticated. And Brian was right about the multiple brows involved.

After the show we marveled at the man-stealing transvestite's legs AND we discussed the parameters of blasphemy. We sang for days some lyrics that can't be reprinted here, AND we talked about parallels to Porgy and Bess and the Tender Land. We lauded the use of projected digital images AND the realistic looks of the mullets. Then there's that tap dance number by the ku klux klan...

The playbill says that the composer is working on an opera about Anna Nicole Smith. My first reaction: oh barf. Then I remember the music for Jerry Springer.

My next reaction: Get me a ticket.

Runaway Gourmet on the Streets Again

You've gotta' be kidding me.

It was cold and blustery enough out on the streets of Richmond today to blow the streak out of my hair. And yet, the fine folks of Christopher's Runaway Gourmet have re-opened the carts.

For those of you not blessed to live in this fine river city: Christopher's Runaway Gourmet, AKA "THE cart", is mighty fine street vittles laced with something ridiculously addictive. (Chris says it's Seventies Funk music.) They peddle their delectables out of carts downtown in the warm months. There's always a line down the block, particularly near the 8th Street cart. (Shout out to my grrlz Lizzie-bet and Patricia-boo.)

For awhile the most consistent hits I got on my blog were from a food review I did of THE cart. When I birthed my second child I was given food from THE cart. My husband is an unrepentant cart junkie. I'm all for THE cart, but I also have numerous friends who work these carts (see above), and I don't want them freezing their skinny fannies off.

And, baby, it was COLD outside today. Somebody tell Chris to bring everyone back in for a week or two, jam to some Tower of Power, have a few gin and tonics, and resurface when the mercury reliably hits 50.

Somebody. Anybody.

Hello? Aw man, you're just reading this to see if THE cart is open yet, aren't you? Dag.

Yeah. It's open.
Sorry, grrlz. I tried.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sunday service for March 2

In preparation for next Sunday here's some interesting reading from over at the blog, Making Chutney.

Next Sunday I will be preaching at First UU of Richmond on the topic "Why do you even care?"

I guest-led a world religions class and this was the most surprising question I was asked. The sermon on Sunday is my answer to what I understood to be a question about meaning. religion, apathy, and worship.

The above link is unlikely to make it into the sermon but I found the comments particularly thought-provoking.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sibling Rivalry

I get one little photo of me and a presidential candidate. One photo.

Now look what my brother sends along from Ghana. These are from my brother's camera.

I guess this is Bro's way of saying, "Bring it, sister."

Does anyone know and can get me an introduction to: Mick Jagger, the Pope, William Jefferson Clinton, Al Gore, any living former or current secretary general of the U.N., Bill Gates, Aretha Franklin or Chow Yun Fat? I just need a few photos of me and any of the above eating sushi, arm wrestling, or blowing out the candles on my birthday cake.


A Moment in Time

As many of my regular readers know, my professional expertise lies primarily in death and dying. That makes for some weird blogs. There are my funeral directors' convention blog entries, my weighing in on celebrity death and dying, my trip to Virginia Tech last April, and those are just last year's blogs.

I managed to find something up my alley at the quilt show this year. This is a quilt that is all headstones and epitaphs.

But I am not always morbid. One thing that this specialty has helped with is my appreciation of the mundane. Every single day I find something that makes me stop and think: this is a wonderful part of being alive. I really do stop and smell flowers all the time. And I love pictures and video because they are little windows into the beauty of our lives.

When I was downloading the camera from the quilt show, I found this little clip. I think it is incredibly beautiful in its completely normal moment. We were at dinner at a friend's house. There were 6 adults, 5 kids ages 2-9 and one dog. The screaming in the background is from the boys playing pirates. This was just a second before we all sat down to eat. It is so normal, but as it was happening I thought it was lovely enough to film. Then again, forty minutes later I was on my way to a funeral home for two visitations of old friends...

I love those little every day moments. They are the precious saffron of life.

Out on Quilt-Geek Release

Sorry to have run away there for awhile. It was time for my annual pilgrimage.

Each year for my birthday I head on down to Hampton Roads for the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival. I guess I'm a quilter. I don't have much time for it. I don't quilt much and what I do quilt I'm not crazy about, and yet... I think that I am a quilter.

But look at my sewing room - would you go in there?
My husband points out that there is a large part of our house devoted to my quilting books, fabric, equipment, and unfinished projects. He feels like I'd better be the quilter or he's got a split personality he doesn't know about. A messy split personality. My husband is also ridiculously kind and supportive for a person who has NEVER SLEPT A MOMENT under a quilt made by his so-called quilter of a wife. This is why I question my quilting status.

I ran into my friend Kate at the show. Kate started me quilting 20 years ago. I told her she owes me $9,000 for that. The only quilt we sleep under was made by Kate. She has come to this quilt festival since it began and has brought her daughters with her. I left my quilting son at home. Again, bad quilter I am! (My son is standing over my shoulder and would like me to add that I am going to take him next year. Sweet boy.)
Quilts like this are also why I question my quilter's status. This was one of my favorites this year. I couldn't make this if my life depended on it. I am using it to invite more people who like nudity to quilt festivals. In particular, straight single guys. (Again with the son - I'm a guy and you didn't take me. I got the message, kid. Go clean up Mama's sewing room.)

Kate's 15 year old was lamenting the complete lack of dudes at the quilt festival. There was one hot guy in the whole building. He was somewhere between my age and hers. Every woman between 8 and 50 noticed him. On the street he would just be some guy. At a quilting convention he was THAT GUY.

This is Kate's daughter's advice to straight men ages 15-65: "If you want women to notice you - go to a quilt show. Risk a little. Go past your comfort zone. It tells us you are willing to try new things. Isn't that what dating is all about?"

15 that one is. I like her a lot. As for me, I bought more fabric and started more projects. I've almost finished my son's behemoth of a quilt. IF I finish it and IF my husband falls asleep while reading a bedtime story to our son, then and only then will I finally be a quilter. Unfortunately for them, it is a cowboy quilt. No cerulean fannies

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Spiritual Discipline of Living Room Dance

I'm pretty sure our country would receive immeasurable peace, karma, and agape if only we danced in our living rooms more.

When I was a child, teen, and young adult I kept to a daily discipline of living room dance. My mother and I had a whole routine worked out to "Boogie Oogie Oogie" when it was first released. As a teen, I almost broke an end table trapsing about to General Public's "Save It For Later". In my first apartment, my two roommates and I used to pull up the carpet to groove down on "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" by Prince.

And then... something happened. I let my spiritual discipline slip. I became a once-a-weeker. Then I was lucky if I remembered quarterly. I think I've only danced twice in the past year. My rug has no dancing wear and tear. I'm ashamed.

I know not everyone is a dancer. I know not everyone feels music instead of hearing it. But I also know that yelling babies, grumpy old men, and fidgety children can all be won over through dance. That's a tough crowd so there must be something to it.

Contrary to pop TV and middle school rules - dance isn't solely about performance. Dance is about experiencing a moment with your body in the moment. That's all. Dancing with another person is the same idea but with twice as many toes involved.

Last night my daughter and I were alone for a little while and she successfully used the potty. I felt a celebration was in order. We pas-ed our deux around the living room to the seventies classic "Brandy(you're a fine girl)". Twice. She was pants free. She giggled, sighed, gasped in joy, and eventually sang out, "Bwandeeeee!!!" I worked up a sweat, laughed, sang until I couldn't breathe, and spun her until we were both dizzy.

It was transcendent.

The spiritual discipline of living room dance demands some comfort with the ridiculous, a willingness to get busted, and a favorite song. That's it. You don't need special shoes, or lessons, or holy supplies. Hi-fi, tunes, and a will to move are the tools for a brief tango into a spiritual retreat. As with much in the spiritual world, a companion is good but not required.

In case my word is not enough, head on over to Google Images. Type in "dance living room". Not only is it a valid spiritual discipline, there's photographic evidence across this great land. It's Saturday night y'all - long known to be the boogie sabbath. So as the prophetess says,

If you're thinking you're too good to boogie,
Boy oh boy, have I got news for you.
Every body here tonight must boogie.
Listen to the music and let your body groove.
So get on up on the floor,
For we're gonna' boogie oogie oogie
Til we just can't boogie no more.

Should Garage Bands Win Grammys?

I laughed out loud when I read the results of the UU blog awards.

Imagine that kid in your neighborhood who plays the drums on Saturday afternoons winning a Grammy. Even though she never left the garage. That's how I feel.

Thanks to the kooky soul(s) who nominated my rambings. Thanks to my congregants, friends, and my large family for voting with vigor. And thanks to the four people in upstate New York who voted for the "Auspicious" part of Auspicious Jots in hopes of winning the lottery.

My two articles -"WWBD?" and "Rules for Church" got 2nd and 3rd in their category which was quite exciting, particularly since I'd almost forgotten my rules for church. Perhaps it is time to tattoo them. On my dog. (Fear not, PETA- I'd just use a Sharpie. A peanut butter flavored Sharpie. Organic)

I did well in a category I did not know the meaning of. But then, so did Amy Winehouse.

And I received first place in Best Writing. My first act as the recipient of that honor is to make American Southern the national language. Wahootie, y'all!

I did well in the Minister category, which is troubling for the future of our faith. (Honestly, are you ready for Foo Fighters to play GA? Come on, do you really think my plan for a UU brewfest is gonna' fly on Beacon St.? And then there was my whole performance art requirement for new members...) But hey, if it gets us one step closer to more boogie on Sundays, I'm all for it.

The BEST part of the blog awards, however, is that it gets more people checking out the vibe on Unitarian Universalist blogs. Did you miss the whole thing? Well, head on over to uupdates and see what liberal religion, a keyboard, and inspiration can create.

Blog on.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day to all who love

As I write this, my partner in ministry is standing up for love.

Rev. Jeanne and her partner in life and love, Regina, are at the John Marshall Courts Building applying for a marriage license they know they will not be granted.

I am silent in their honor, and all whose love cannot be diminished by a heartless law.

Unitarian Universailst Conundrums and Koans

When will we learn that our friends become our fellow congregants? If the congregation lacks diversity, could it be because our personal dinner parties do?

If the flaming chalice is the symbol of our faith, shouldn't we toss the anemic candles and smoke- free oil lamps and torch up a yule log at every service?

If the divine creative force is one and everywhere, and all are saved - shouldn't there be a lot more hugging going on?

If children are our future, why do we get so uptight when they make farting noises in the service?

How can we support religious freedom, the separation of church and state, and the right of conscience but be so close-minded about politics?

If the whole country thinks we are the crunchy religion - why aren't we the crunchy religion? Why don't we ride our bikes to church, hold services outside, worship with loud R&B or rock n' roll music, hold vegan barbecues, have no printed orders of service, have svelte legs from marching in support and protest, create thousands of parent co-ops, and volunteer EVERY week to help fight poverty?

Why is it that when raised in a religion, once married:
Jewish + Catholic = Episcopalian
Methodist + Lutheran = Presbyterian
Unitarian Universalist + Anything Else = Anything Else?? (I miss my childhood Sunday School buddies!!!)

If a Unitarian Universalist falls in the forest will her spirituality retreat companions hear it?

Why do my 125 Voices of a Liberal Faith DVDs come from UU headquarters in Boston smelling like Chinese food?

Just wondering...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Din and the Dang

(I apologize in advance for the formatting. Blogger doesn't like me today.)

There are times when things are so bad, I just laugh. Right before I scream.

I am coming off a 49 day laugh/scream fest. Christmas, the car accident, the kitchen remodeling, and only semi-successful potty training of our wee lass made for some real misery.

But my good buddy and office guru at the "country church" I serve put it all in perspective. She did what she named "calling in with a touch of cancer."

She was out for six weeks for surgery and recovery. We are hoping she is cancer free now, and I am loving having her back at work. Cancer gone. Perspective remains.

There are times when things are so good, I may just get the hiccups. (*hicc*)

Friday, my car and kitchen were finished (*hicc*) after over 6 weeks of work.

Saturday, I cried tears of joy as I made my family french toast for breakfast in the new kitchen. (For you foodies, my secret ingredient is challah. Shhh, don't tell. *hicc*) In the afternoon I went with my son to his best buddy's 6th birthday party and we climbed a rock wall along with many of his kid friends and many of my adult friends. I'm pretty skeered of heights, but my buddy Heidi has a bad neck, so I climbed on her behalf. Oddly enough, that made it fine.

Saturday evening, a congregant at the city church called and asked me to attend a political event on her behalf. I went on short notice and met this gal pictured. (*HICC*) You know how people just need to have their photos taken with ministers. I told her no autographs, however.

Sunday morning was the city church's annual Music Sunday. In spite of the cold and flu near-epidemic we have going on, we had well over 400 people turn out to hear wonderful music from The Taters. And I had the honor and fun of leading worship for the kids and adults.

(My favorite moment of Sunday services was when I asked the children a trait of a hero and one shouted, "Friends!" (*HICCUP*))

The good news tsunami is just rolling along: healthy babies born, old friends getting in touch, daffodils peeking up in the yard. My niece cheered in the Pro-Bowl on Sunday evening. (My whole family hiccuped on that one.) Congregants are healing from serious illness, surviving car accidents well, getting jobs, finding mates, and feeling whole. Colleagues are sharing ideas and inspiration.

Even the dog has stopped pooping all over the house. For now.

It would be nice if the highs and lows of 2008 could level themselves out a bit. Short of slipping lithium in the drink of the universe, however, I don't think I can pull that off. So I'm just giggling, screaming, and hiccuping along. And writing. Writing it down so that when I'm fluffing the nest one day after the fledgings flap away I can figure out why it went by so fast.

Well, Ahlll Be!

The nominations for the 4th UU Bloggers awards are out and I was included this year. Very exciting stuff. More importantly, my pals: Lizard Eater's The Journey, Sisyphus, Ms. Kitty, and Never Say Never were included. These folks are much better bloggers than I am and should win every category they are in. (Hint. Hint.)

I was most excited about having two pieces I wrote singled out for nominations. These pieces are: "Rules for church" and the relatively recent "WWBD?" That was incredibly affirming and made my whole afternoon. Considering that I celebrated for months after I won a quarter in a Pepsi cap at age 10, I'll probably ride this high for awhile.

But let's get to the meat of the matter. This is a voting sort of deal. I know you are tired of following primaries, caucuses, and the like. So make your vote count in a different way. Meander your way over to the ballot by clicking here. And then make some UU bloggers' day.

You've seen who I'm putting signs up in the yard for. President Schmesident. Get to voting on UU blogs, y'all.

(In case you were wondering... That headline is an Andy Griffith quote for those of you who don't have tattoos old enough to get their own driver's licenses. I seem to recall it being uttered by Gomer, but I had a crush on the good Sheriff and didn't pay much attention to the rest of the crew. I was so shocked when Sysyphus let me know about the nominations that I slipped into Mayberry speak.)