Monday, April 18, 2011

Too Much To Think

So...I haven't blogged in a little while. A week, to be precise. For good reason, I suppose, since I've been writing like mad at my job of late (a good thing, too, since that's what they pay me to do). But just because I haven't written anything here in awhile doesn't mean I haven't been thinking. I've been thinking a lot. So much, in fact, that my head's one big jumble of thoughts. They say (whomever "they" are) that sometimes it helps to get it all out on paper, sort of dump your brain of its contents, so to speak. Well, if I got it all out on actual, physical pieces of paper, you'd probably never see it – assuming you're even interested. And since one of the main points of this blog is for me to express myself as openly as possible so you can get to know me better, I might as well use it to get all these thoughts out of my head. Maybe you can help me sort them out, who knows?

As I said in my last post ("Blue Monday"), we recently wrapped up this year's Easter production at church. Three long months of planning, preparing, and practicing (nice three-point outline with alliteration there, Jason – your pastor would be proud!), and (insert bonus alliteration here) the production is past us. The down feeling that defines Blue Monday always quickly transitions into the excitement of: "What are we going to do next?" I tell myself, give it a few weeks, take a break, enjoy the time off, but to no avail. Within 48 hours of Closing Night, I am already thinking about and planning for the next production. I fight the urge to go out and look for new plays or skits, always thinking about "next time." But drama is not my entire life, at least it shouldn't be. So I fight it as hard as I can. But in the back of my mind, it still lurks...

In previous posts on this blog, I've alluded to certain aspirations and thoughts that I've been having (see here and here). And while I haven't actually done a great deal to make these aspirations and thoughts come to fruition, I haven't given up on them, and I have been thinking about them a lot.

One of the things that I've been thinking about and/or aspiring to for some time now is to actively do something productive in regards to my music. As I've mentioned before, I have penned quite a few original songs over the past several years. And while the majority of those should not – and will never – see the light of day, there are a handful of them that I think may have some degree of potential. Recently, I've been reassessing the old songs as well as brainstorming ideas for new ones, should I decide to embark upon this exciting but scary venture.

Herein lies the conflict:  Do I want to share these songs with others because I honestly believe they are worth sharing, and because they might speak to people in ways that truly matter? Or do I want to share them to promote myself, as merely a public avenue for my own self-indulgence and self-gratification? If it's for the latter, I'd rather not even bother with it. I don't want recognition, fame, or glory. (Not that I could or would ever attain any of these, I'm just examining my motives.) If I'm aspiring to do this because it's God's will, and because I want to make His name famous, then by all means I should do it. But I'm just not sure yet.

I have other things floating around in my head right now, too, but I'll save those for another day. Or maybe later today. Maybe not. I think I've thunk enough for one day already.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts or opinions, if you care to share them. If not, that's okay, too. Anyway, thanks for stopping by and reading mine.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Blue Monday

It's Monday, and I'm already exhausted. Very typical of a Blue Monday.

Last night was the third and final night of my church's Easter production, the drama portion of which I was the director. The production – a collaboration of eighty-some people all told, counting the cast, crew, and choir – was a resounding success, by the measure of success for which we were aiming. God was glorified through the presentation of the Gospel through songs and dramatic scenes. I have not yet heard if anyone accepted Christ as a direct result of the message we presented, but I'm certain that lots of seeds were planted.

In the drama portion of the production, our cast of 12 and crew of 10 or so spent the better part of three months working hard in preparing for this past weekend. Each actor and actress, who may or may not have been acquainted with their cast mates prior to the play, grew closer to each other as the long days and nights of rehearsals piled up. We became somewhat of a ragtag family, of sorts. In what other universe do a 10-year old relief pitcher, a retired Army colonel, three classroom teachers, and three home-schooled kids, among others, join forces and do something meaningful together? It never ceases to amaze me how it all comes together, but invariably, it does.

Someone facetiously asked me the other day how much I get paid for directing the Easter drama. I chuckled and told them, "Zero dollars." Some folks would think I was stupid for spending countless hours at church and at home preparing for something that doesn't earn me a dime. Those folks have probably never been involved in real ministry. What I get out of it isn't the point. It isn't about monetary gain or personal acclaim. The purpose is in the message, and I hope and pray that it came through loud and clear this weekend.

Which brings me back to Blue Monday. This is what I call the first day after the last night of the production. All those long days and nights spent preparing are now over. The people in whose company you've spent countless hours are suddenly no longer a part of your life in the same way. It's all over but the crying. And while I might not always shed actual tears over it, the sudden inactivity is a definite shock to the system. It hits you like a ton of bricks: Now what do I do?

The answer is obvious:  Life goes on. Playtime is over, at least for now, and now real life takes its place. And so we look forward to the next time we can do it all over again, maybe with a different group of people, for a different occasion, or maybe just because we want to. And until then, we wait. Till Tuesday...

To Leann, Jamie, Lori, Erick, Jimmy, Taylor, Daniel, Emory, Tim W., Cindy, Kim, Blake, Tim D., Chris, Nathan, Brandon, Nick, Bill, Tim S., Michael, Tim C., Steve, Teri P., Gina, Terri D., the Girls' Ensemble, Kevin, the Choir, and everyone else involved in the production:  Thank you for this experience. There will never be another one just like it, and I've enjoyed every minute of it!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I've Never Been Accused Of Being A Photographer

I've always been fond of artful photography. I have often wished that I had the vision and skill it takes to capture images in a way that's pleasing to the eye. My skill level as a photographer is minimal at best, nonexistent at worst. I generally tend to take on two types of subjects: nature pictures and closeups of random things. Don't ask me why, these things just catch my attention the most. As I am giving my brain a rest from weightier issues and concerns today, please enjoy – or berate – or be entertained by – or scoff at a few of my pictures:



There you have it. Random acts of randomness. You're welcome!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Things I Find Fascinating #2: "Nonsense Words"

Not-so-shocking confession:  I love the English language. Immensely.

I love the fact that the same word, spelled the same way, can have two entirely dissimilar meanings if the emphasis is placed on a different syllable. Case in point: the word "invalid".  If I say that your argument is inVALid, I am letting you know that I think you arrived at your conclusion based on false reasoning or factual errors. However, if I say that you are an INvalid, I am classifying you as a person who is incapacitated by a chronic illness or disability. Fascinating!

I also love the fact that there are literally dozens of ways to express the same sentiment in different words. Case in point: the word "nonsense".  "Nonsense" – in and of itself – is a wonderful word, explicit in its meaning, yet unpretentious in its expression. But oh, the weird and wonderful words that can also be used to connote absurdity! Let's examine a few of them:

1) Fatuous:  First of all, even when this word is spelled right, it looks like it's spelled wrong. No self-respecting seven-letter word should ever contain three consecutive vowels. But don't blame the word. Blame the Latin language from which it derives. Second of all, say this word aloud a couple of times. (It's pronounced FAT-you-US.) True, it's no "Djibouti", but it's a surefire chuckle-worthy word. Sadly, this clueless young lady's colossal misunderstanding of the word is a perfect demonstration of it.

2)  Balderdash:  This word's so wacky they named a board game after it. Yes, the word came before the game. About 400 years or so before the game, in fact. No one's really sure where the word originated, but I like to think of it as a distinctly British expression, whether that's accurate or mere stereotype.

3)  Codswallop:  This is another indubitably British synonym that is great fun to repeat endlessly – perhaps when no one's around so as to avoid strange looks. The bloke in this video has a great explanation for the word's somewhat obscure origin.

4) Falderal  (also spelled falderol or folderol) No, this is not that prescription you have to go pick up at Walgreens after work. This is yet another great word that means foolishness or nonsense. One guy liked the word so much that he wrote a song about it. I haven't heard the song myself, but I'll bet it's a load of codswallop.

5)  Hogwash:  Now, I would have thought that the origin of this word would have something to do with the notion that washing a hog is utterly ridiculous, considering that the hog itself is relatively unconcerned with its own cleanliness; however, that is not the case. Apparently, hogwash is another word for the slop that some less-than-fastidious swine farmers would feed to their hogs, apparently completely inconsiderate of the hogs' gastronomical preferences or the nutritional value of said slop.

6)  Buncombe (also spelled bunkum)This is a relatively recent word, as words go, originating in the early 1800s when U.S. Congressman F. Walker from North Carolina delivered a speech deemed insincere by his peers, who claimed that the politician intended merely to please his local constituents. His constituents in Buncombe County, that is. And so a new nonsensical word was born.

7)  Trumpery:  No, this word does not mean "the act of firing someone on a reality TV show while sporting a hideous combover". But wouldn't it be great if that was what it meant? This is yet another nifty word for nonsense, denoting specifically something that is utterly devoid of value or usefulness. It derives from a Middle English word meaning "to deceive." I don't know about you, but I'm becoming more and more convinced that this word does refer to "The Donald".

8)  Twaddle:  Okay, not only is this word a fun one to say over and over again – after double-checking that you are alone in the room – but it also has one of the wackiest origins I've found yet. The word "twaddle" originated in the 1540s when some random smart aleck decided that it would be great fun to combine the words "twiddle" and "tattle". I kid you not. That is its origin. I can just picture this guy, sitting around twiddling his thumbs while ratting out his friends and shouting: "I'm twaddling, I'm twaddling!" This is a perfect illustration of why random people should not be allowed to invent words.

9)  Malarkey (also spelled malarky) Originally used to refer to speech or writing designed to obscure, mislead, or impress, this gem of a word is now more commonly used – alongside other great words like "shenanigans" – to indicate that something is rubbish or nonsense.

10)  Gimcrackery:  Last but not least, we come to a word that has quickly become one of my new favorites. This crackerjack synonym was originally used to refer to a nonsensical item; that is, a cheap, showy trifle or gadget. Now, it's just a really absurd way to say that something is really absurd. Every time I see or hear this word (which, admittedly, isn't often), I can't help but think of the old children's song, "Jimmy Crack Corn". The following video is classic gimcrackery – a rousing rendition of this and other folk songs by Pee Wee Herman and the Singing Train Hobo. It may be 54 seconds of your life you'll never get back, but you didn't really need them anyway.

Watch it here:

Once again, thank you for indulging my strange fascinations. Maybe you've learned something. Maybe you'll have some new and utterly useless things to talk about with your friends and neighbors. Maybe not. But thanks for stopping by anyway! Come back anytime.