Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat

Ever heard of Guys and Dolls?

There's a song in it called Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat. I don't know that anyone has ever said those exact words to me, but boy have they been implied a lot in my lifetime. I've never exactly been a conformist, but I also wouldn't say that I push boundaries for the sake of pushing boundaries. I simply feel how I feel, believe what I believe and I am not going to apologize for it (and I don't necessarily believe that you should).

I will admit that I have learned to soften my tone and approach over the years. However, it doesn't keep people from being uncomfortable. It doesn't make some conversations easy or less awkward.  I'm creating waves in someone's otherwise peaceful ocean of blissful ignorance/plausible deniability. I'm causing unrest on someone's peaceful beach where they typically think about little beyond the bubble they live in.

It has happened in school. It has happened at work. It has happened in a car with friends. It has happened at church (a lot!!!!). That last one bothers me the most.

Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat really means:
1. I don't want to be challenged.
2. I don't agree with you.
3. You're pissing me off. (see 1 and 2)
4. You're a woman, why are you even talking? (in a church setting mostly!)
5. We've never done it that way. We've always done it this way. No change. No change. La la la.

Shall I continue?

In the past few days as I have mulled over the events in the US, I've prayed and thought a lot about the best way for me to use my 'gift' of being a 'boat rocker' in a productive way. So many things, I feel begin with education - educating myself on the things, historically, that I have been unaware of, blissfully ignorant to. Discomfort. Awkward, sometimes tough conversations. Those are the some things this girl expects to experience and pursue in the coming days.

And if YOU are sitting down, I hope you'll think about standing up for things that matter.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hamilton: The Musical - A Wannabe Rebel's Reflection


For months I read all I could about this show. The hype surrounding the show was unbelievable. I haven't purchased a cast album since the release of Wicked. I haven't purchased an entire album on iTunes in YEARS. Songs here and there, but not an entire album. THIS? This was different. I NEEDED this. I harassed Chris Jackson about the release date of the cast album. Once released, I listened to the album on repeat for days, hearing new things every time-smiling and shaking my head at how brilliant Lin is with words and how amazing the cast is with giving his words life.

History has never felt alive for me. I mostly tolerated it in school. I knew little of our founding fathers because I had the attention span of a gnat most days in history class and I started getting glassy-eyed about 5 minutes in. Everything was rote. I just memorized what I needed to know for the test. I am forever changed, though, (and am seriously considering reading a book that is probably going to take me 10 years to get through because it’s 800+pages) all because of a few hours at The Richard Rodgers Theater.

This show is probably the only show to leave me truly speechless.  It is brilliant for so many reasons that I have a difficult time even knowing where to begin. The genius that is Hamilton is so many layers deep, that trying to dissect WHY it is so fantastic seems almost impossible. My experience in theater has taught me that I can’t do anything on a stage without the people behind the scenes. Hamilton’s brilliance – genius – couldn’t exist without some of the things that many people sitting in those theater seats are probably taking for granted.

The scenic design looks simple on the surface, but is truly complex – which is a perfect analogy for this show. The costumes are gorgeous. The staging is brilliant - the choreography is intense, moving as quickly as the words, at times. The lighting design is stunning. The sound design (which probably goes unnoticed by almost everyone) is so well done that I honestly don’t know where to begin. Because this show has singing (like a typical musical), as well as rap and hip-hop, the sound design had to be key. Otherwise, the audience was never going to be able to hear everything going on (because, let’s be honest, there is a LOT going on during this show). The sound design is beyond genius. Brilliance - layers deep, people. This show is tight and does not have a weak spot.

Tommy. The way he has kept a constant flow of each of the individual lives of the characters at the forefront with so many things going on is fascinating. No one character ever monopolizes the stage (well, except George). So many of the choices I saw on stage that night I know were his and it’s one of the major layers of genius in this show. “Satisfied” is probably one of the best examples I can give. Moments you see play out during “Helpless” physically replay during “Satisfied”. Mind blowing to watch.

Alex. Those orchestrations. Lin doesn’t do it all, people. There are so many brilliant people in his village.

Lin. I’m convinced the man doesn’t sleep and his brain works on creative levels I can only dream of attaining, but he gave one of the most moving performances I have ever seen. Not only is he a creative force to be reckoned with, he is also a fabulous performer. You, sir, are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing you gifts with the rest of us.

Leslie. Because of him, I no longer know how I feel about Aaron Burr. You never really think about things deeper than the surface. He shot Alexander Hamilton – jerk. That was the extent of my thoughts on Burr. Now, he’s much more. Leslie’s portrayal of Burr is another layer to this musical that is sheer brilliance.

Daveed. This guy spits rhymes at a pace that my ears can barely keep up with. He’s seriously amazing. His smile is infectious and as much as I love Lafayette, his Thomas Jefferson has me undone. This guy is the real deal.

Jonathan. The only performer in the entire production who demands a spotlight, his King George III is hilarious and show-stopping.

Let’s talk about the ladies for a moment. Those Schuyler Sisters can sing. The end.

RenĂ©e. I am slain. Undone. This woman raps and sings and looks like her daddy has money while she’s doing it. Class act. “Satisfied” is forever etched in my mind.  

Phillipa. Considering how little I knew of Eliza Hamilton and that I spent half of the show feeling a bit sorry for her then all of a sudden feeling like she was a force to be reckoned with, I think Phillipa’s performance is emotionally-charged and brilliant.

I saved my favorite for last.

Chris. He’s a brilliant performer. (Lin keeps him around for several reasons. This is one of them, I'm certain.) There’s something different about this performance, though. He’s a fantastic singer. I have always said he could sing the phone book and I would probably listen (at least for a while). However, while watching him as George Washington something happened that’s never happened before. I forgot it was Chris. I was so lost in the show, in his character, that for a moment in time, he was George Washington. 

I don’t want to diminish the brilliance of the other performers. The cast is 21 strong (I counted at curtain call) and each brings so much to the ‘Hamilton table’.  I was told while standing on the Hamilton stage that I wasn’t allowed to speak of Tony awards, but since I’m sitting on my couch, just let me say that there will be mutiny on the Broadway fan ship if I don’t see nominations for most of the following in June (take notes Tony nomination committee!):
Best Musical
Best Book of a Musical
Best Original Score
Best Performance of an Actor in a Leading Role
Best Performance of an Actor in a Featured Role
Best Performance of an Actress in a Featured Role
Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Best Orchestrations
Best Direction of a Musical

This musical is most certainly one for the history books. Sell your first-born and go see it. Or pray to the #Ham4Ham gods, show up 2 hours before showtime and try to win the lottery. 



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Artichoke & Spinach Dip

For those of you who have been bugging me about the recipe - here it is. Sheesh! :)

INGREDIENTS
1/4 C plus 2 TBS oil (I used a light olive oil)
1/4 C all-purpose flour
2 C milk
Salt
Cayenne Pepper
1/2 C shredded Parmesan (about 2 oz)
1/2 C shredded Monterey Jack/Cheddar mix (about 2 oz)
1 C chopped onions
1 (9 or 10-oz) bag fresh spinach, stemmed, rinsed and chopped
1 TBS minced garlic
2 (15 oz) cans artichoke hearts, drained and julienned

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine 1/4 C of the oil and flour in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir the mixture constantly for 5 to 6 minutes for a blond roux. Whisk in the milk and bring the liquid up to a boil. Season the liquid with salt and cayenne. Simmer the liquid for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the liquid is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the cheeses. Set the sauce aside.

In a saute pan, heat the remaining 2 TBS of oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions and saute for 2 minutes. Stir in handfuls of spinach at a time until all of the spinach is incorporated. Add garlic and artichoke and saute for 2 minutes. Season the vegetables with salt and cayenne. Remove from heat and turn into a mixing bowl. Fold the cheese sauce into the vegetables. Turn the mixture into a baking pan. Bake dip for 10-15 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Serve the dip with chips.

adapted from a Food Network recipe

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Batman? Well, not quite.

A month and a half ago, I was on the phone with my mom, standing in our basement going through a box, when all of a sudden something started flying around. Our basement ceiling is pretty low and it was flying pretty fast, so it was difficult to tell for certain but I was pretty sure it was a bat. I made a mad dash for the stairs, screaming the whole time, trying not to run into the damn thing. I slammed the door to trap it.

As soon as I got upstairs I hung up with my mom and called Ronnie at work. I told him there was something in the basement - a bat, a bird - it was flying around and I wasn't going back down there until it was out! When he got home he went downstairs, armed with the leaf blower. I went to the bathroom and closed the door. What? You thought I was going to help? After about a half hour of effort, he declared me crazy and the basement to be free of all things flying. For nearly a week and a half I slowly creeped into the basement every single time I went down there. I inspected the rafters and hurriedly completed my tasks. I was not taking chances. I KNEW what I saw and I didn't want to see it again. I eventually started to think that perhaps I WAS crazy or maybe it had found it's way out. Whatever the case....good riddance!

WRONG!

This evening Ronnie went to the basement and my bat friend dive-bombed HIS head! Karma. Not only did he have to admit that I wasn't crazy, he had to get the damn thing out. (You didn't think I was going to do it, did you?) By the time he went back down stairs it was crawling around on the floor - malnourished and I think they almost gave each other a heart attack. He finally got it in a towel and out the door. It wouldn't even fly away. He had to go out a few minutes later and shake the towel again to get it to fly away.

A bat. In our basement. FOR ALMOST TWO MONTHS!!! You can't make this stuff up, people.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Change is Gonna Come

It's been over a year since I last posted. A lot has happened in my life - some exciting things, some things I could've done without, but life keeps going. That's how it works, right? You roll with the punches and keep going?

In the past year:
  • I've had a relapse
  • Ronnie and I made the decision to not have children (a story for another day)
  • I started a new part-time job
  • I gained another niece and 2 more nephews - well, one is still refusing to come out and play (looking at you ELI!)
  • Ronnie and I bought a house! WHAT?!?!? (lots of stories about home ownership already)
  • I gave up church for lent (pretty sure I need to write a book)
  • this list could go on for a while...quite a lot has happened
I have thought frequently about blogging. It's more therapy for me than anything else and I've needed some therapy during the last 13 months! I've come to believe that people who think they don't need help in some form are crazier than I am (and that's saying something).

So, I don't know how frequently I'll post or what I'll post about. Worship is still near and dear to my heart, so you may get post related to that periodically. I may post some of the recipes for dishes I fix when people come to visit for all of you who are constantly wanting me to cook you something. If you actually want ME to cook it, you have to come and see me! 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Singing in Church

I read this article today - again:

I have a LOT of 'thoughts' about this. I am going to share a few.

It's suggested in the article that one of the problems is how worship in the church has moved from a book of hymns to an unlimited number of songs with the added technology of projection and access to music. They point to the fact that song familiarity has lessened because of the number of songs in a congregations' repertoire and a leader's lack of commitment to make the song more familiar - more concerned with new music than familiarity.

This isn't an issue of why MEN have stopped singing. It's more of an issue of an entire congregation, minus several individuals, not singing. In some churches, worship has become more about performance than worship. We sing songs in keys that aren't accessible to most of the congregation. Most members of a congregation are non-singers - male and female. Now from a vocal instructor perspective, males are more likely than females to not sing in a group setting. (I could give you the research that shows the numbers and explanations. It is basically linked to childhood and someone telling them they couldn't sing, so they stopped. However, it's becoming a bigger issue among women, as well.)

How do you get non-singers to worship? 
  • -Choose songs with lyrics worth getting stuck in your head - lyrics that reflect sound theology or are based in Scripture. Who doesn't love a song that brings Scripture to mind when you sing it?
  • -Use new songs in your worship services - a LOT - like, until they become old songs. Give people options for downloading the songs, meditating on the lyrics - things that will help increase their familiarity.
  • -Choose keys that allow your congregation to sing with ease - not keys that allow you to show off your 'talent'.
  • -Practice enough before the worship service that you do not have to think about musical stuff and can simply worship - not perform. If you don't get to the foot of the throne, how in the world are the people you are leading going to get there? 
In my honest opinion, a lot of 'worship services' have very little worship taking place. Sometimes we need to strip away everything in order to really worship. Take the spotlight off of worship leaders, worship teams, musicians, instruments and put the spotlight on God. 

How have we complicated something that should be so simple?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Medication

Today is the 1st Wednesday in a LONG time that I won't be giving myself an injection for my MS. Instead I will be taking this twice a day. Thankful.



 

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