Wednesday, January 31, 2007

All We Need Is Music

I read an article recently which said there are two kinds of American Idol fans – the kind that gets a real kick out of the initial auditions with all the really bad singers and the kind who want to just skip ahead to when the real talent competes to be part of the final 12. Put me in the second category. I get embarrassed for the off-key wannabees.

Watching these initial auditions, there is no way anyone can convince me our population has a self-esteem problem – unless it is the problem of TOO MUCH self esteem. A long line of no-talent, self-deceived individuals march in and out of the audition hall. After the first few ear-jarring notes, you tell yourself this has to be a joke. There’s no way this person actually believes they are talented. see it in their eyes. The shock and disbelief when they are told, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Honest assessments are out of style in today’s PC/I’m-Okay-You’re-Okay world. Thus the American Idol gag reel. Some of these people can’t sing. I’m not sure some of them could even make a joyful noise! Telling the no-talents that they are just that, not talented, is being cruel to be kind. It is doing what the person’s friends and family members should have done, saying, “Honey, singing is not your gift.”

I’m a klutz. I was picked last (or close to it) for softball in elementary school – my psyche wasn’t irreparably damaged. It served as a process of elimination. Okay, athletics is not my thing, so I went about finding what was! I believe we all have been given gifts – abilities that are uniquely our own, however, Scripture says we all haven’t been given the same gifts:

For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
(Romans 12:4-8)

Wondering what I discovered were my gifts? Let’s just say you would never see me on American Idol!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Techno Tornadoes

I love the movie Twister. I know it’s cheesy and I know the acting is really bad. I know all this and don’t care because I am fascinated by tornadoes. Their power, capriciousness, destructive capability – I find it all amazing. However, I’ve realized meteorological tornadoes aren’t the only whirlwinds leaving massive debris fields. We are all in the path of technological tornadoes and if we don’t stay ahead of them, we’re going to end up like trailer parks after an F5.

Bobby and I were the first of our friends to have a home computer. Now grade school kids are more techno-savvy than we are! The winds of technological advancement are spinning at an ever-increasing pace.

I recently told my hubby I wanted to buy some music cd’s. He told me, in effect, I needed to embrace the future. Cd’s were so 20th century. In the future we will download our music. (Sony music executives were recently quoted saying much the same thing.) We’ve purchased an MP3 player and my hubby is downloading lectures he previously would have bought on CDs. (Our attempt at catching up with preteens’ capabilities!)

Then, a day after 60 Minutes ran a story about how geeks and nerds are getting their revenge selling their geek know-how to the technologically challenged masses, a friend of mine blogged about the mysteries of texting. (It was only last year I mastered texting!)

60 Minutes reminded me: "A dozen years ago, when Stephens started the Geek Squad, most people used IBM computers, and primitive Microsoft software; the Internet was still a novelty. Today, thousands of products and providers allow you to watch TV shows, make phone calls, download music, print color photos and dictate letters without leaving your desktop, if you have the time, the patience, the aptitude, and the available brain cells to master yet another software protocol. "

This is our parents’ revenge - just as they were swept up in the tornado of microwaves, VCRs, ATMs and the like, now it’s our turn. Now the girls and guys of the 80s who laughed at their parents' VCRs blinking 12:00 are dealing with all the anagrams whirling around in their heads – MP3, iPods, PDAs, TIVO, auto bill pay . . . And according to Geek Squad founder Robert Stephens, the Internet revolution is really just beginning.

The techno tornadoes have touched down. I need to go stock my storm cellar!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Rock & Roll Never Forgets

This weekend, Bobby and I joined the Pughs and O’Learys for a musical trip down memory lane at the Norton’s Center for the Arts in Danville, Kentucky. We let the Coasters, Platters and Drifters sing us back several decades with classic songs from an era when you actually understood the words the singers were singing!

This was the music of my parent’s youth and, ironically, of mine as well. The Coasters began the concert. I can’t tell you how many times my Dad sang Yakety Yak to my sister and me:

Take out the papers and the trash, or you don't get no spendin' cash. If you don't scrub that kitchen floor, you ain't gonna rock and roll no more! Yakety yak (don't talk back)

I knew all the words to Poison Ivy, Charlie Brown, Searchin’ and many more of the Coasters’ hits. If I close my eyes, I can still hear Dad sing Along Came Jones.

In fact, tonight, I felt like Dad was there with me, singing right along. This was especially true when the second act, The Platters, took the stage. Always known as the “classy” group, they didn’t disappoint. The three men appeared in tuxedos escorting their female member who sashayed on to the stage in what looked to be a vintage gown very appropriate for the timeframe of the music.

The Platters were my Dad’s favorite 50/60s group and, in many ways, they’re mine as well. I never hear Only You without thinking of my Mom and Dad’s courtship – remembering the stories we begged Mom to tell over and over again.

Only you, can make all this change in me. For it's true, you are my destiny. When you hold my hand, I understand the magic that you do. You're my dreams come true my one and only you .

And the song that was #1 on the charts for over 20 weeks, the song I learned to slow dance to while standing on my Daddy’s feet, The Great Pretender:

Oh yes, I'm the great pretender. Just laughing and gay like a clown. I seem to be what I'm not; you see, I'm wearing my heart like a crown. Pretending that you're still around.

I felt the tears stinging my eyes, but understood afresh the term “bittersweet”, because they were just that – the bitter taste of loss and the sweetness of memory all rolled up into music set to 4/4 time.

Luckily there was still one group left to perform and when the Drifters took the stage, it was one big sing-a-long: When the sun beats down and melts the tar up on the roof and your shoes get so hot, you wish your tired feet were fireproof, under the boardwalk, down by the sea, yeah, on a blanket with my baby is where I’ll be . . . Or if you’re having one of those days. . . When this old world starts getting me down, and people are just too much for me to face, I climb way up to the top of the stairs and all my cares just drift right into space, on the roof. . .

Of course, no concert is really complete without dancing in the aisles and the six of us did just that!! Paul & Judy, Brian & Judy and my hubby and I took to the aisles as the Drifters sang:

Oh, I know that the music's fine like sparkling wine go and have your fun. Laugh and sing, but while we're apart don't give your heart to anyone. Don't forget who's taking you home and in whose arms you're gonna be, so darlin', save the last dance for me.

The very last song? Oh you make me want to SHOUT! Lift my hands up and SHOUT. . .

What a great evening!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Grey's Anatomy & Ecclesiastes

“Life is short, George, and sometimes it sucks.” Izzie’s words are reminiscent of the Preacher in Ecclesiastes. She tells George if he loves Callie to go be with her. The Preacher has a very similar message – family, friends, good wine, good times – that is what’s important.

Because life is short and sometimes it sucks.

Who knew Grey's writers were familiar with Ecclesiastes!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Why I Love Grey's Anatomy

SPOILERS - You've been warned!!

The last episode (1/18) had me in tears almost from the start. Maybe that’s part of the show’s appeal – it’s a cathartic experience for me. As heart wrenching as the episode was, it once again validated the Golden Globe the show recently won. The dialogue has such depth at times that I continue to put up with the immorality.

Dr. Burke advising George to rely on faith as his Dad is dying. George retorting, “I’m a man of science.” And Dr. Burke softly saying, “In my experience, science is not enough.” For all the talk of postmodernism, there are still an awful lot of modernists around who look to science as their answer, their god. This view was refreshing to hear from a character in a medical show.

In yesterday’s episode, we had to watch the O’Malley family let go of their Dad/husband. It was painful to watch because I went through that process less than two years ago. When his Dad has slipped away and George retreats to the alley to grieve, it wasn’t emotional Izzie who came out to comfort him (and most probably hug him). It was cold, aloof, don’t-think-of-hugging-me Christina. She told him about a club that you can’t join or understand until you do – the Dead Dad Club. She told him how sorry she was that he was now in that club. Then, the most profound two lines of dialogue in the whole episode:

George: “I don’t know how to exist in a world where my Dad doesn’t.”
Christina: “Yeah, that never really changes.”

You can read a blog by the writer about this episode here.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Hail Hogswart!

I love Harry Potter movies! I have enjoyed them so much that I am determined to read the books (which are always infinitely better than the movies they inspire). A local retailer had the DVDs on sale around Christmas, so we now own all the Potter movies released to date.

When my hubby saw a pile of four newly acquired DVDs sitting on our kitchen table, he just shook his head. He’s used to my celluloid obsessions and in fact this time, he suggested our nightly movie routine begin with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It was followed in order by the next three movies and now my hubby is hooked as well!

J. K. Rowlings has bristled at the criticisms of her books as anti-Christian, and rightly so. There are definite Christian themes and overtures in the series. Perhaps part of the problem is cultural – English versus American sensibilities. In any event, these are delightful movies with good messages of friendship, ethics, honor, loyalty and courage, along with depictions of the cruelty of racism and wickedness in general.

One of the criticisms aimed at the Potter books was that the magic world interacted with the real world – that there was a blurring of the lines of real and fantasy. (C.S. Lewis received the similar criticism for having Father Christmas/Santa Claus in Narnia.)

Rather than being a flaw, I think this is a strength of the Potter series. In our scientific/rational age, we want to relegate the supernatural to fantasy, yet as Christians, we know the supernatural interacts with the natural constantly.

C. S. Lewis said God gave us imagination so we could imagine a different world. Without imagination, how do we conceive of Heaven? Of angels? Fantasy should be the domain of Christians. We are, after all, part of the supernatural.

The next movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, will be released July 13. Go here to see the trailer.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Which Super Hero are you?

To find out, go here.

I'm Spidey!