Monday, June 30, 2008

Quote of the Day

"The Christian vision has been hijacked by the institution that has been its caretaker."

Margaret Silf

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Great Performance...but

I felt really good about today's show.

I got all my lines, not a single error - this is the first time I've managed that.

There was only one draw back. We'd been turning people away because we were sold out, but 11 people who had reservations didn't show. We only sit 55 people a performance so that's about 20% of the audience missing.

Today was a matinee performance, and the audiences at matinees tend to be older and slightly sleepier - I think it's because the show takes place at a time when they normally have an afternoon nap :)

Lines that normally caused a lot of mirth and merriment were greeted with silence. Scenes that usually were met with guffaws were welcomed with only the mildest chuckle. It's so strange how an audience can affect a show.

All of the performers were coming back stage commenting on how 'dead' the audience felt.

Oh well, I did a great job today, hopefully I can repeat it when their are more people there to watch :)

The Tooth, the half tooth and nothing like a real tooth!

Last night's performance was an interesting one. I finished my big opening number (The stand on a desk and hit to Gb song!), I rushed off stage to change my costume and felt something weird in my mouth.

Closer examination revealed that one of my crowns had just fallen out!!!

I dread to think what would have happened had it loosen just a minute earlier....I would either have swallowed it, or spat it over the audience!

Who knew the vibrations from my high notes were so powerful :)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Rabbit Abuse becomes Child Abuse!

Tonight was opening night of Urinetown.

It went very well and was very well received :)
I made 2 minor slip ups.

1) I started a scene with my second line of dialogue instead of my first. The first line really wasn't that important, it just meant a minor character got one less line to say (sorry Sam)

2) The other one was weird! There are many strange recurring themes in Urinetown. One of them is Rabbit Abuse. I sing a song in act one called 'Don't Be The Bunny' which is all about not being a poor abused rabbit turned into stew or slippers (!) The main character Bobby says a line " has about as much chance of flourishing as a baby bunny drowning in a vat of boiling water...". I have a line in act two about how I am "snuffing out popular resistance like a naughty baby bunny in the palm of my hand".

However in tonight's performance somehow I omitted the word bunny. "...snuffing out popular resistance like a naughty baby in the palm of my hand"


It wouldn't be so bad except that earlier in the show I sing:

"Our resources are as fragile as a new born baby's skull
With your actions you would gut the child and leave a lifeless hull"


My character is meant to be evil, even though I play him as the sweetest man imaginable. It's just hard to be sweet when you are singing and speaking about abusing babies!

One of the Director's friends summed up the show when he said "I don't know what that was, but I loved it!"

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Banned Heinz Comercial

This commercial was originally aired in the U.K. but Heinz pulled it after 200 people complained in one week. The population of the U.K. is 60,776,238 so this is a tiny tiny small I can't even do the math :)

What do you think? Should it have been canceled?

I think the commercial is hinting that the Mayo is so good that it's transformed Mum from a British housewife into a NY Deli chef. No gay couple with kids that I know uses the term 'Mum' with their children. Normally it's something like 'Dad' and 'Papa' to distinguish between them.

If the writers did intend the couple to be a same sex relationship then bear in mind that according to research published in the Guardian (A British newspaper) 3.6 million Britons are gay (approximately 6%). Do they have a right to be represented in advertising?

One other interesting fact. One of the most common comments is that parent's don't want their children's seeing this, because they don't want to have to explain gay relationships to their children. Fair enough - parent's are allowed to choose how to parent their children. But bear in mind one thing - U.K. Commercial rules mean that this commercial cannot be shown on t.v. during children's television because the mayonaisse contains high quantites of fat and sugar, no commercials like that can air at a time when children are watching t.v.

Therefore if a child does see this commercial it is because the parent is letting them watch 'adult' t.v. The parents object to their children watching 2 men kiss in a comic situation but they'll happily let them watch adult t.v. That seems rather hypocritical to me, esp. given some of the things they happily show on U.K. television!

Is it just a clever marketing ploy? There is a lot of talk on t.v. and on the Internet....was this whole thing a clever scheme?

What is the christian response to this? The church is divided about whether homosexuality is a sin. Whatever your view on that topic, there are countless verses in scripture calling the church to 'Defend the rights of the orphan, alien and the widow in your midst'. See Deuteronomy 10:17-19 for example.

Could a case be made equating the 'alien' to the gay population? Do 'Aliens' in scripture have different world views and belief systems? Is there a parallel here? What is the biblical definition of an 'Alien'? (Google brings up some scary websites in response to that question!!!)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A literary Meme

A friend tagged me with the following literary Meme

The rules:
1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

"Our desire to love stumbles over our desire for loving words, for something we can say, for something that will bridge the separation we feel. We learn to accept, however, that our task is not, after all, to find the right words but to come to terms with the silence of love, the presence of God. The more we love, the deeper a mystery our love becomes."

From 'There is a God. There is no God' ~ John Kirvan

If you read this, consider yourself tagged (and leave me a comment so I know to go read your post)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Wardrobe Malfunction!

We had a full costume run through of Urinetown last night (have you purchased your tickets yet? Email me for details)

Well I have to perform a tricky maneuver to get on top of a desk and the suit pants I had on were not up to the task. They split around the crotch, but I didn't notice as I had a jacket on.

Nobody noticed till I was at a quiet moment in Act 2 and somebody commented on my blue Boxer Briefs (blush). I hope we can get them patched before tonight.

Note to self - 'Never go commando on stage'!

All in all I felt a lot better about last night's rehearsal. I was so mad with myself on Friday, I did a terrible job and I was dropping lines and choreography all over the place. It's nice to now feel back on top of things again :)

Sunday, June 22, 2008


The Way It Is

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among

things that change. But it doesn’t change.

People wonder about what you are pursuing.

You have to explain about the thread.

But it is hard for others to see.

While you hold it you can’t get lost.

Tragedies happen; people get hurt

or die; and you suffer and get old.

Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.

You don’t ever let go of the thread.

~ William Stafford ~

I've begun reflecting on the 'threads' in my life; good and bad patterns that I notice about myself. Ways of thinking, acting, responding and living that seen woven into the core of who I am. Some of them are healthy, some of them not so much. But all of them have a place in the greater design.

I don't like the unhealthy ones, I want to change them by pretending that they don't exist. Unfortunately that doesn't work - it's like pretending the world outside isn't there by closing the curtain.
A silly example - I like to eat too much bacon, I wish I didn't. I could deny my love for bacon completely and pretend it doesn't exist, or I can admit to myself my bacon consumption overdrive and learn how to manage and live with it.

If I deny the bad threads in myself I am causing schism and using a lot of mental energy to live in the anguish. It is better to look at the bad threads clearly and compassionately to learn how to live with them.

What is true for myself is also true for society. There are parts of society that I would consider 'bad threads', generally it's people who are outside my particular 'norm' of how people should live, think, worship, vote etc. Pretending that these people don't exist is not healthy for me, for them, or for society as a whole. Denying people basic rights because they fall outside of the society's norms is not healthy for them or us.

The dark threads and the light threads together weave the pattern into the fabric.

I remember hearing a story once about a light square that lamented because he was different to everyone surrounding him. They were all dark blue and teased the light square for being different. The light square longed to change but couldn't.
What none of the squares could see was that they were all small parts of a large mosaic, the light square was different from all those surrounding him because he was the twinkle in the eye of God.
The 'bad threads' in ourselves and in society may be the twinkle in God's eyes. This isn't license to 'over-consume bacon' simply a recognition that the parts of ourselves and society that are non-conformist should be as welcome as the mainstream - denying their existence does ourselves and them no favor and diminishes the 'whole'.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Do the Roses still bloom?

Today is the first anniversary of my Mum's death. Mum loved her roses very much, she had them planted in different varieties in such a way that there would always be a bush in bloom throughout the summer. When dad passed away a few years ago she was even given a special rose bush in memory of him.

The picture above is one of her rose bushes that was taken just after her funeral.

The house is sold now and I have no idea what has happened to her wonderful roses. I like to think that the new owner has kept them and is tending them well.

R.I.P. Mum - I miss you.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Changing Life Maps

(Rough thoughts for tomorrow morning's Contemplative Service)

I grew up with a world map that looked roughly like this:

Running vertically down the middle of the page was the Prime Meridian. This had the effect of putting Great Britain just slightly above center in the map. when I moved to the U.S. however world maps changed:

Suddenly the U.S. is central whilst Great Britain is relegated over to the right hand side and Russia is truncated by the edge of the map.

In the Ancient world, many maps looked different again:

For the Ancients - Jerusalem, the Holy City, Mount Zion was right at the center of the map.

Psalm 48 says:

"The Lord is great and worthy to be praised in the city of our God. His holy mountain rises in beauty, the joy of the earth.

Mount Zion, true pole of the earth, the Great King's city. God, in the midst of the Citadels, has shown himself its stronghold."

For the Psalmist the center of the world - was Mount Zion, the presence of God. God was the 'pole' around which the world revolved.

If I was to draw a 'map of my life' I know what I'd like to see at the center, but honesty would compel me to tell a different story. God is 'central' to my life, but there are many other 'centers' that pull for my attention. I worship, preach and pray God for much of my week, but then there are sometimes when my 'axis' is tilted and I begin to revolve around other things.

I have a large 'island' called 'Worst Case Scenario' that frequently pushes God out of the center spot. I can be a 'worrywart' and a 'stress monkey'. Another contender for center space is a little wasteland called 'What do they think of me?' It's a landmass that can consume way too much of my waking hours if I let it. A desert that I'm learning to visit a lot less as I grow older, but one that I still take vacations to is called 'Guilt is good for me'.

If you were to draw a map of your life right now - what places would be there? What would be central? Offer a map of yourself that is drawn as honestly as you can to God in prayer.

Animals answer 'What is Art?'

Friday, June 13, 2008

Urinetown Rehearsal Pics

Here are some photos taken by a fellow cast member on his cellphone whilst we rehearsed my opening number :)
This is me with some of my staff fawning all over me.

Mark dances with Alison while I rest on the desk.

What's a Broadway musical without a kickline?!

A slight altercation over my dancing abilites :)

Reaching the high notes while channeling Patti LuPone!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Go To Work, Learn Lines, Remember Blocking, Practice Choreography.....

Life right now is Work, Rehearse, Sleep - repeat! But in those odd down times late at night (or when I'm waiting for my ride to arrive) there is a new contender for my time.

Watching Absolutely Fabulous on our new t.v. Thanks for the box set Steve :)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Alien Life Forms in the Kitchen?

Well not quite, but the picture does look a little weird.

Two weeks ago I blogged about cooking Pork Loin. I had some friends over Sunday night, and as pork loin is on special offer right now I decided to cook another one. The only problem was I didn't have enough butchers twine.

For some reason reason butchers twine is difficult to obtain. I've tried buying it in my local Krogers before and had no luck. In the end I asked in the meat department and somebody felt sorry for me and gave me some for free. The only place I know to purchase it in Houston is at speciality cook shops. Is no one cooking roasts any more? Why such a decline in demand???

So I'm in Sur La Table on Saturday buying a smaller roasting rack (as my current one is turkey sized) and I'm planning to pick up some butchers twine too.
Well next to the twine was these wonderful reusable silicone clippy things. They come in a mesh bag so when you've used them you can run them through the dish washer. They actually work well and it was a lot quicker slipping them on the roast than all that fiddly knot tying!

Monday, June 09, 2008

'Happy' Birthday to Me?

I'm 41 today, it's not exactly a milestone birthday I know, but this is a tough one.

Birthdays have always seemed slightly weird to me. When I was a child I eschewed traditional celebrations, I didn't want a birthday party. Instead we usually went as a family to Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach to ride the wooden roller coaster and whatever other new rides they had.

When I turned 21 I didn't have a party. Instead I got a more expensive present (my first ever c.d. player) and a small group of us went out to eat at Oscars - an American themed restaurant in Norwich that closed up years ago. I remember feeling so cosmopolitan as I ordered my Mushroom and Red Wine Burger, and I remember the deterioration into general silliness as we made each other consume large metal spoons with Ice Cream and Black Peppercorns on them - it made sense at the time.

So how am I celebrating my birthday today? Any thrill rides? Exotic food combinations?

I am having lunch with my Financial Advisor.

And tonight I have a costume fitting and a three hour rehearsal for Urinetown.

Last year I had a birthday weekend, boardgames and a big potluck party.

Then I flew to England for the last week of my Mother's life. :(

I think that's why my birthday has kind of slid by this time. I find myself thinking about 'this time last year'. Replaying the events of that very emotionally charged time. And I find myself feeling sad, and wistful and in surprise at how much my life has changed in One Year - heck I never even had need of a Financial Advisor a year ago.

When I worked for the Wesley Foundation in Lubbock we would do the same pattern each day of Holy Week, a lunch time study where a different staff member would walk us through what Jesus did that day. It became our way of entering into the Passion Narratives - even if everyone would try and avoid having to lead the study the day Jesus cursed the Fig Tree.

But in the midst of the anguish and darkness of the Cross, we always knew that Sunday was coming - the Resurrection was around the corner and the story would have a happy ending.

Not so the week I am about to walk through. My mother's 'Passion' was a messy death with no surprise ending. It was a roller coaster of emotions. It was a 'thrill ride' that had it's humorous moments (generally provided unintentionally by my brother) but it was ultimately a horrible experience, and I was so glad I was there.

I wonder if the disciples sat around a year after Jesus' death and resurrection and reflected on how different their world had become?

I just read through all my old blog posts concerning the last week of my Mum's life and had a little weep in my office - it's my birthday, so if I want to be emotionally melodramatic and throw myself a Pity Party at least it means I get a Party. I was going to type about how I'm going to 'pull myself together' and 'cheer up'. But no, I'm not going to do that. I'm going to experience all the emotions I'm having without labeling them as 'Good' or 'Bad' and I'm acknowledge that the depth that I grieve is a reflection of the depth that I love.

It's my birthday - and I wouldn't be here today without Mum, so it seems appropriate that I allow myself to mourn her a little today.

Happy Birthday to me
Happy Birthday to me
Happy Birthday dear Peter
Happy birthday to me

Saturday, June 07, 2008

So you want to be President??? Bite Me!!!!!!!!

I was in a different Kroger than usual buying food for yet another Pork Loin Roast for tomorrow and a yummy sausage casserole (a packet mix that is produced in my hometown).

I was wandering past the bakery section when I spied a cookie so scary that I had to take a photograph.'American Hero - John McCain'. On prominent display nestled in the folds of Old Glory. Well I was curious to see whether Kroger practiced Partisan Politics, after all I do live deep in the heart of George Bush Country, in fact his dad's favorite Pizza Place is just round the corner from where I work.

Well after a bit of snooping I discovered this:It was tucked round the other side of the display in a very low traffic area, I had to hunt to find it. Note the lack of U.S. flag anywhere around him.

I did not grow up very political, I would say the average person in the U.K. esp. of my generation is not as vehement about Party Politics as the equivalent age group here in the U.S. It surprised me when I first moved to Lubbock a) How political the students were and b) How Conservative Christianity and the Republican Party seemed very closely aligned. The second point esp. surprised me because most of the Conservative Christians I know in the U.K. are very anti Bush and his policies (then again so are many Republicans I know).

Growing up in the U.K. I definitely never saw Margaret Thatcher's face on a giant cookie and even if it was, anyone who purchased it would mercilessly ridiculed.

There seems to be very English trait that we don't get overly earnest or zealous about anything. We may care deeply and passionately about many things, but it is all communicated with reserve - unless we've been drinking at soccer games of course!

But back to the cookies. I almost considered doing a quick swap of Barack and John to see if anyone would notice and complain, but I needed to hunt down the parsnips so I let them be.

One thought did cross my mind though, 'I wonder what flavor they both are?'

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Entering the Unknown

There comes a moment
when there arises in your soul
a movement that you are
at a loss to describe.

It moves you to desire
you know not what,
only that is is beyond your imagining.

It is God at work within you.

Frequent readers of my blog will have noticed a strong theme in some of my 'God Thoughts' lately.
The theme is one of Unknowing/Uncertainty.

A great Medival Treatise on Unknowing/Uncertainty is called 'The Cloud of Unknowing' (See quote above).

Problem is it is a dense text in medival english - not exactly light bedtime reading.
Prompted by a friend I have picked up a copy of 'There is a God, There is No God' . I should be reading my required books for my course this Fall, but there is something about this book that has captured me. I only read a couple of pages last night but I loved the following quote:

"There comes a moment when attention must be paid. A time to look, to listen, to stop running, a time to choose, a time to act, a time to forsake my safety zones, a time for letting down my defenses.

A time for letting go.

A time to surrender my need to know, to understand.

A time to embrace mystery as my native land.

And silence as my native tongue."

(Did you spot the reference to 'Death of a Salesman'?)

As someone who has grown up in a belief system of Fundamental Certainty, the idea of mystery and silence is wonderful and scary - and yet it is is mystery that opens us up to God's grace.

If I say with certainty 'I am right, you are wrong' then there is no space for grace between us. But if we both acknowledge 'I could be wrong and you could be right' then there is space for grace, space for dialogue, space for wonder, and space for mystery.

I'm hoping that my journey into the book will be a journey into Grace.