Monday, March 27, 2006

Dr. Seuss-land

We had a wonderful vacation this past week in Escondido -- visiting SeaWorld, the nearby Wild Animal Adventure Park, and just hanging around at the pool. As I am finding more and more in my jaded middle-age, I am at least as fascinated by the flora in these fancy zoos as I am by the fauna. Here are pictures of Mia and Jacob by two trees that seem to me to have come from the imaginative mind of Dr. Seuss. Or wherever he got his imagination.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Role Reversal

a screenplay

Act I

Scene: Interior house. 360 degree pan: dishes, clothes and other household miscellany scattered about in messy fashion; background noise of children having light-saber fights, complaining about cleaning house; dusting rags, vaccum and other supplies in plain view.

Zoom into bathroom, where we find RON with mop in hand, swabbing a filthy floor. He stops for a moment to catch his breath, wipes sweat from his brow.

* * *

Cut to Living Room, where DEB has just sat down on the couch. She picks up the TV remote, turns it on, and begins flipping through stations. She hits some basketball, and stops surfing. We pan away, and find RON again in the bathroom, picking up the toilet scrubber. Suddenly a voice calls from other room:

DEB: Ron! Hey! How come we aren't watching any of March Madness today?

Ron in bathroom tries to fit his head in the bowl and flushes.

Fade out

Friday, March 17, 2006

Whoo hoo!

Ahh - there's nothing like finishing up a big ole project, handing it in, and heading off for a week's R&R. A friend of mine says you have to celebrate with at least as much enthusiasm and energy as you expended in earning the celebration. If that's the case, I should pretty much take the rest of the year off. A week will have to do. And probably will.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Last... week... before... vacation

Can't... stop... to blog.

Must keep to

Or, more to the point, to

Or most accurately, to

Monday, March 13, 2006

Soccer Saturation Point

It took three tournament weekends in a row to do it, but it seems our Burbank girls have reached SSP--soccer saturation point.

We drove down to Anaheim this weekend for a club tournament. It was cold and rainy--perfect British "football" weather--but it certainly dampened our wimpy California spirits. The girls started out tired. We came with only 11 players because of injuries and various scheduling conflicts, so as the day wore on they just got more tired.

Despite playing "flat," the girls won their first game, tied their second game, and won the third game. Would we go on to the second Sunday game and play for the championship? Nope. We had the same record as the team we tied, but they had one more goal than we had, so they beat us by one tournament point.

"What a shame," we all said sarcastically, gleefully packing up our camp chairs and dashing to the parking lot as the sky threatened another shower. The girls, the parents, even the coaches had no regret. If you're going to lose a tournament, it's nice to lose by not losing. And no one cared to play another game in the cold rain.

We headed home for (finally!) a restful Sunday afternoon and evening. No more tournaments till April 28. Everyone gets a much-needed and much-deserved rest.

Of course, the team will still practice twice a week...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Agony of Defeat

It's hard to believe, but the mighty Burbank Fire finally met a team they couldn't beat. At least not THIS time!

Mia's team went to the AYSO Section 10 playoffs in Bakersfield last weekend to compete for a spot at the state championships next month in Irvine. As usual, they quickly dispatched the first two teams with scores of 5-0 in both games. In the third game they struggled to put one in the net, despite about 40 good shots. Maybe there was a force field? At any rate, the game concluded nil-nil, but Burbank had enough points to win their bracket and go on to day two.

Since we were seeded second, we had to play the #3 seeded team, Malibu. We had played them last fall in a friendly and wound up losing in a tie-breaking shoot-out. Not this time! The girls played beautiful soccer and handily beat them 3-1.

Now we're on game five in 36 hours. The girls are exhausted. Mia has a bad cold, our fastest forward has an injured ankle, our mid-fielders are about ready to keel over, and we have only one sub. And now the girls are facing the highly disciplined, cool-as-a-cucumber Santa Ynez, a team that has never given up a goal. Not once. They play the same kind of short-pass game our girls use to beat everyone else. The girls did their best, but Burbank just couldn't pull it off this time. Still, we held them to one goal. Final score: 1-0.

So Burbank put up a respectable second-place showing out of the top 16 teams in one of the most competitive AYSO sections in the country. Most of all, we're proud of Mia for pushing through a bad cold and being part of a fierce, unstoppable defensive wall. She played on sheer will and shut down everyone's best strikers. Mia, you're awesome!

Friday, March 03, 2006

My Sister--Ms. Adventure!

OK - so look at this casting call and consider whether my sister Rachel qualifies: Loves to work outdoors with wildlife? Check. Has a passion for adventure and loves travel. Double-check. Sense of humor and a good attitude. Checks up the wazoo. And to prove it, Rachel made a bang-on audition video.

The good folks at Animal Planet were impressed. They brought her to Maryland where she had a marathon 12 hour audition for all the suits, handling pythons and making small talk with spiders. She came away the indubitable choice for the part.

That's right. It's official. My own superlative sister is going to be Animal Planet's Ms. Adventure. Woo hoo! Soon we'll be seeing her mug all over cable TV, not to mention publicity posters at bus stops (not to be confused with the "missing child" flyers). Way to go, Rachel!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Great Chain of Being a Worship Wonk

I had a wonderful experience recently, finding myself one small link in a great chain of worship wonkedness. Here are a few of the key steps, though of course there are many links, both before and after the ones described here, about which we cannot fully know.
  • A friend, Chip Stam, makes a presentation on Keith Getty & Stuart Townend at the North American Academy of Liturgy meeting in San Diego.
  • My worship interns ask me to speak a little in class about using the first-person personal pronoun in worship songs.
  • I respond with a 15-minute mini-presentation on the objective and subjective in worship songs. I argue that while some people say there is too much "I" and "me" language in some genres (and they may be right), the Psalms -- the songbook of God's people with some authoritative precedent -- is full of those first-person pronouns. I suggest then, that those subjective "I"s are usually spoken in balance with and response to objective statements about who God is and what God has done.
  • During the presentation, I use some handy-dandy illustrative materials from Chip's Getty/Townend presentation to illustrate.
  • My interns plan chapel and decide to use the Getty/Townend song In Christ Alone. They also attend very carefully in other song choices to the balancing of the objective and subjective.
  • I have a conversation with a Fuller student who confesses that his extensive musical training has kept him in a perpetual state of disgust with "contemporary" (read "pop") church music. He has hated it, even as he has had to endure it regularly. Not long ago, however, he tells me that he attended a Fuller chapel service since he was playing percussion for the Fuller Vocal Ensemble. At that service, he was getting ready for his weekly wallow in disgust when he was struck by the fact that the particular "contemporary" worship songs sung that week not only "didn't suck," they were actually quite good - both lyrically and musically. The song that got his attention, of course, was Getty's In Christ Alone.
  • This experience catalyzed within him a desire -- stoked by another class he is taking in ethnomusicology here at Fuller -- to reconcile his 'high art' church-music self with his 'low culture' rock and roll self. He is rethinking the role of music and the various cultural languages with which we speak our praise and prayer in worship.
  • This student, by the way, is an excellent composer, and a fair writer. Who knows what happens next... Maybe he'll write the excellent songs my children will sing in worship in 20 years. And another link in the chain is forged.
Solo Dei Gloria.