Monday, April 28, 2008

something beautiful

Lies I've told my 3 year old recently

Trees talk to each other at night.

All fish are named either Lorna or Jack.

Before your eyeballs fall out from watching too much TV, they get very loose.

Tiny bears live in drain pipes.

If you are very very quiet you can hear the clouds rub against the sky.

The moon and the sun had a fight a long time ago.

Everyone knows at least one secret language.

When nobody is looking, I can fly.

We are all held together by invisible threads.

Books get lonely too.

Sadness can be eaten.

I will always be there.

by Raul Gutierrez on the blog Heading East, via the zen habits tumblr site.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

friends in medium-high places

I am watching, right at this moment, 3 people I know on TV!

They aren't TV stars (not even INDIAN TV stars like my friend David) particularly

- they're magicians, serving as coaches and one of the judges in a (GOD FORBID) cable reality competition called (PERHAPS THE WORST TITLE EVER) (JUST TRY AND IMAGINE A WAY THIS COULD BE WORSE) Celebra-cadabra!

Okay, so here's the question - if you do a reality show that takes some not-exceptionally-clever comedians and actors and gives them 24 hours to learn to perform a magical effect...does this trivialize the hard work and creativity involved in professional magical entertainment? My husband thinks so.

I think:
the rather large amount of UTTER FAIL by the celebrity magicians proves that it isn't at all easy to do entertaining, fooling magic. (Which is not to say some of them aren't entertaining.)
The show is better than I expected. (Which is not to say it is actually "good".)

(I'm pretty sure that commercials that focus totally on LEARN MAGIC FAST, on the other hand, do demean the art quite significantly.)

I had a grand day, by the way.

Friday, April 25, 2008

1. What modern convenience/invention could you absolutely, positively not live without?
At the moment, I am in love with my fiber optic cable TV. How different would my life have been if I had been able to watch opera and foreign films on TV? (Or Queer as Folk!)
2. What modern convenience/invention do you wish had never seen the light of day? Why?
Um, my husband's smartphone - not smartphone's generally, just HIS, which chirps every time he gets a damn Facebook notification. For example, in the middle of his romantic restaurant birthday dinner. (Hey people! Quit sending Eric emails after 5! He can't NOT check it! It makes his wife exasperated!)

3. Do you own a music-playing device older than a CD player? More than one? If so, do you use it (them)?

I am the last broadcast radio listener. I was crushed that my walkman brand radio got terrible reception at my gym, and I had to fall back on my iPod.

4. Do you find the rapid change in our world exciting, scary, a mix...or something else?

Encouraging, especially as barriers to artistic creation and distribution get knocked down. There's a democratization at work that's wildly exciting. I wish it were more thorough-going (which is to say, it's cheaper to make a movie or a record than ever, but you still need to buy the computer, and the leisure to work on your project. So most people are still excluded.)
5. What did our forebears have that we have lost and you'd like to regain? Bonus points if you have a suggestion of how to begin that process.
I don't know - maybe more connection to our food? Generally, I think this is a great time to be alive, and the technology (and the democratization I mentioned above) is part of that. Maybe I'd want to recapture a cultural aesthetic of creating rather than consuming - singing around the piano instead of listening to records, cooking rather than drive-through - because I think people would have much fuller, more joyful lives. So maybe the way to begin the process is to help people come to grips with what's missing in conventionally successful lives.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

my husband joined Facebook about 20 minutes ago. He has 180 friends.

Ooops, 183.

This is the cake I am currently baking for his birthday cake. Because 93% of the strangers on the internet who made it once would make it again.

3. My child has had a growing-up milestone, and I'm proud of it, but I can't tell you what it is. Because it's a milestone that decent parents would have made happen about 2 years ago. And we're doing a little happy dance about it, which exposes what pathetic parents we are. Regardless, I am happy.

4. 191.

5. Incidentally, only 2 other people from my high school class are on Facebook. Seriously? We are really that old and tech-averse? Really?

6. I really dig baking birthday cakes for people. I swear I would make cakes and send them to everyone by overnight mail if I thought the cakes would survive.

7. This is last birthday cake I baked - for The New Guy. It was very well received (which is not surprising, as it is mind-bogglingly delicious.) I recommend it, but only when/IF you have a large uninterrupted chunk of time to spend, since the presentation includes not only cake and frosting but also praline filling and a candied nut topping.

It takes even longer if you burn one batch of praline and have to start that part over.

It's really really good, though.

You know, when I sew, I always allow enough time to rip and re-sew at least one major seam, because my experience indicates that I'll attach something upside down and backwards. I should plan the same way when I make a complicated recipe.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Five from RevGalsBlogPals

Friday Five! On Friday for a change!

1. If you could dramatically change your physical appearance for 24 hours, what would you do?

How radically? All my life, I've been desparately curious what it's like to be a man - but that's a whole lot more than a change in 'physical appearance'.

On a more superficial note, I would love to see what it's like to be a conventional beauty - tall, small waist, great bust, shapely, with high cheekbones and full lips. I am uninterested in conforming to society's standards of beauty - mostly - but I wonder what life would be like in that body.

2. If you could live in another place for 24 hours where would you go?

It's not very creative, but I could have a whole lot of fun in 24 unencumbered hours in Manhattan.

3. You get to do somebody else's job for a day...

standup comedian or morning radio dj. Or the woman who organizes Fashion Week in New York.

4. Spend the day with another person from anywhere in time and space...
My parents died 15 years ago. My mom was a very unusual person; I loved her, of course, but I still feel like she's kind of a mystery to me. So I'd love to have a chance to get to know her really well, see some of the influences that made her who she became, as opposed to just guessing at them. So maybe I would be Barbara Miller's freshman roomate at Vassar, 1941.

5. A magical power is yours. Which one would you pick?
The ability to stop time, so that I could get our home and my office completely reorganized while my husband and kid sleep. We could use the improvements, and they could use the extra sleep.

Friday, April 11, 2008

You'll be hearing from my lawyers in the morning

Children's television characters obviously modeled after me:

Jingbah, the pink Boohbah.
Similarities: Actually, I have a photo of myself from a couple of years back with fuschia suedehead hair and a pink chenille turtleneck. It's positively frightening.

Around here, we call that photo "Exhibit A".

I can't really sue the creators of the show, though, since the series was a something of a flop here in the US and I imagine they've spent all their Teletubbies money by now.

Abby Cadabby.
Similarities: In addition to the hair, Abby is funny, creative, cracks up at her own puns, frequently gets lost, and is undeniably an ENTP.

Differences: sadly, I cannot fly.

Pinky Dinky Doo.

Similarities: Artistic, literary, has a little brother, annoys others with her vocabulary, frequents museums.

Differences: i have better legs.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

I'm watching this and Robert Rauschenberg just said the words 'secondhand goat.'

I am taking a vacation day tomorrow and going to see this (Several times, I have scheduled days off to go do art things, and then I found myself at home whining "I'm tired!" "I have cramps!" "I feel sorry for myself!" and lying around like a sack all day - not going to see art, not getting work done, just doing mundane crappy things like laundry and grocery shopping. Screw that. With God as my witness, tomorrow I am going to see art. And take pictures.

Among the most excellent blog posts ever: here.

Friday, April 04, 2008

A measley ONE of the Friday Five

This is probably cheating, or disrespectfully not following directions at very least. Still, while it is still Friday, I want to take a shot at the RevGalBlogPals Friday Five - my first!

The question: How has God revealed him/herself to you in a:
1. Book
3. Song
4. Another person
5. Creation

Well, I'll take Film for 200, Alex.

On Easter afternoon - after the early morning and the two services which could not have gone better and the fun meal in the Chinese restaurant
(Incidentally, if you're looking to dine out on Easter, but want to miss the church crowd, I recommend some variety of Asian restaurant. I campaigned for Indian, but was outvoted by children.)

Anyway, Easter afternoon, toddler taking a nap, we've pulled on our sweats and done surgery on the newspapers and are beached in front of the TV. And my husband, God bless him, finds Godspell.

I watch about 3 minutes before I am crying.

It's not even a particularly touching 3 minutes - not 'On the Willows' or the crucifixion, not the scene with the ghostly unfinished World Trade Center in the background. It's the Sower and The Seed, with all those strangling weeds. I'm wrecked by this, sitting silent with tears just streaming down my face.

Godspell was tremendous for me when I was a kid. I was an odd combination of freakishly devout child and theatre weirdo. Neither of these went over well in my small rural town. The very idea that there could be a Broadway musical about Jesus - weird hippie clown Jesus! - seemed completely beyond dreaming, made my heart skip a beat. (It still kind of does.) My mother had found me a cast album; I saw the show on its first tour, when I was 12. I got a t-shirt. I wore it so much that, when I lost it at camp, it was mailed to me - no one had to call to see if I had lost mine.

I couldn't trace you a straight line, but I'm pretty sure that Godspell - listening to the songs, seeing the show, seeing the movie a year or so later, wrestling over the years with the whole idea - had something to do with me being, and doing, what I am and do now. I'm pretty sure it was one of the things that nudged my ideas about church and theatre and the overlap, ritual, public ministry, my theology of worship.

And I was crying on Easter because of that.

And because it's not a very good movie.

In fact, it's a pretty bad movie, in nearly every way I can think of. And it can be a really awful play. (That's partly because it's deceptive - both the music and the book seem simple, but require significant chops to present well. Plus it hasn't aged all that well. YES I have seen good productions - recently - but they're noteworthy because, hey, a good production of Godspell! Call the neighbors!)

And so I was crying because here's this thing, this artifact of my adolescence, this souvenir of my inner life, fresh and bright and precisely as I left it back in the 70s. Not dusty.

And I'm crying because, well, it's kind of crap, and what kind of person has this crap as a real milestone in her discipleship? and career development?

And I was crying because: immediately upon asking myself the question, I knew the answer. Everyone does.

In two different ways. In one way, practically everyone I know has something in their past - in their life with God - that they're not proud of. Someplace where God came and met them that they smirk about now - the scary lock-in, the tearful campfire altar call, the crush on some boy or girl that got them into heavy conversations. The dumb superstitious dare they made with God. You would never, as a cool postmodern follower, recommend any of these things...but God used them. So there's that way.

But what I was thinking on Easter was: well, it's all pretty bad, isn't it?

Let's imagine that it wasn't Godspell that had influenced me, but The Messiah. Or some other high-class work of art. Let's say that, at 12, I heard a great rendition of "Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs and Carried Our Sorrows", and God came and met me and it changed my life. Would I be embarrassed about that? No! Of course not! Classical music is dignified! and worthy! and it just shows what a sensitive Anglican soul I had - at 12! I'd tell everyone that! (I'd probably be a choir director today, if that had been the case.)

But I think that's a false, human distinction.
I think God, who hears every scrap of music on earth and is surrounded by singing angels through eternity, is no more impressed with Handel than with Stephen Schwartz. And no more impressed with Bryn Terfel than with Victor Garber, or even Ted Neely. (And why is Jesus always a tenor, by the way?)

The gulf between Godspell (or Superstar) and The Messiah seems very big from where I stand, but I think from God's perspective, they look much closer. Probably indistinguishable.

And the things we count as 'highest' in human artistic achievement are no closer to God's glory than the things we see as 'lowest.' Because, honestly - who is equal to that task?

No closer, but, I hasten to add - no farther away.
I have been trying to perfect my flapjack recipe.

The New Guy - my boss of about 2 years - is from England. Quick aside: he and I have rigged it so we have a weekly lunch meeting, and we trade off bringing lunch. He brings delicious sandwiches with exotic cheeses on wonderful hearty bread. They are always delicious and terrifically filling. For some reason, I have a deep, deep need to show off at these lunches; I am forever trying to impress him with my cooking.

Interestingly, I do not have such a deep need to impress him with my liturgist-ing. I mean, it's not that I'm slacking on my actual work - I just notice that the challenge of every-other-Wednesday-lunch does get me kind of excited. I'm sure that, eventually, I'll be flipping plain cheese sandwiches at him with a bored smirk, and he'll be just as gracious about that as he is about the spinach quiche and the fancy salad.

Anyway, I mention it because the flapjack craze around our house is his fault. (If 2007 was the Year of Poulet au vinagre, and it sure as hell was, 2008 may be the Year of Flapjack.) (If grocery prices remain as completely insane as they have been, it will certainly not be the year of any sort of meat dish, I can tell you that. Oatmeal remains cheap.)

Flapjack is a crunchy/chewy/sticky oatmeal bar cookie, made with butter, brown sugar and cane syrup. It's The New Guy's favorite sweet, and his daughters made some that he had brought in to share on a Wednesday. I made my first pan of flapjack that night.

(I'm not sure I'm using the word right, even. I'm pretty sure it's a mass noun, as opposed to American flapjacks, which I told Matthew was the cowboy word for pancake. Which would be a count noun, as in "Tex 'et 84 of them flapjacks.")

Anyway, you know how European recipes measure the ingredients in weights rather than volume? There are at least a hundred flapjack recipes on the internet, each one a little different, and apparently I would rather read them all than try to convert the measurements.

I keep trying them, and I keep messing them up. (It's a relative term. If you don't hate the mild molasses-y taste that the syrup adds, you really can't go too far wrong with a pan of butter, sugar and oatmeal.) Today's were the best so far - Ian begged for more! - but still not quite right. And a tiny bit burned.

But oatmeal is cheap, as I mentioned, so I do believe I will get this recipe right yet.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Originally uploaded by aur2899
Go to this site immediately:

and watch the installation video for Jim Lambie's work Zobop.

I think this is what heaven will be like. What it will look like, and what we will be doing there.

i was wrong

for about 3 years, I have been wondering how in f was able to use photos from my yearbook - Selinsgrove Area High School, Class of 1980 - in their ads. I have had conversations about this. I have NAMED people whose pictures appeared across the bottom of my screen - Hufnagels and Schrefflers, Hostettlers and Hollenbachs.

I was so so so sure that the "She Married Him???" couple had been in my class - Curtis Kantz and Judy Hummel, I thought, their stories fictionalized for sensationalism's sake.

Well, I was wrong.

As you can see, the woman in the ad is indeed from Pennsylvania, and is close to the right age - class of '78. The guy is younger, class of '90, from Bellevue WA.

Are people all over the country looking at these ads and saying (to their poor, beleigured spouses) "I swear to GOD that guy was in my homeroom!"