Thursday, May 28, 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Did You See That!?

LeBron James is a freak. Did you see that game-winning, last second three-pointer last night? It was incredible. I still get chills when I watch it. Cleveland fans thought it was over. They were down by two with one second left. What can happen in one second? Well, if you've got LeBron on your team, a lot can happen in one second. That's the beauty of a three-pointer in the sport of basketball. You can dunk all you want, you can alley-oop, you can 360 windmill, behind the back, under the legs, eyes closed, tongue outstretched slam... but it's only worth two points. The three point shot pays homage to what the sport is all about: the ability to put a ball in a hoop from varying distances with skill and efficiency. Watch and be amazed.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Letter to Yourself

On the first day of school this year, I had my seventh grade choir students write a letter to themselves in the future. I had them list three goals they hoped to achieve, their friends, their interests, etc. I took these letters and put them in my desk, not to be touched until today. Today was the last day of 7th grade choir class. It was a great year with them. I thanked them for their hard work this year. I thanked them for buying into this whole "choir" idea. I thanked them for making my first real choir a great one (I don't really count last year).
So I gave them their letters back today. It was great to watch their reactions as they read their words from nine months ago. Some were surprised. Some were unmoved. I just wonder if they realize how much they have changed. I see it. Do they see it? They have grown so much, literally and musically.
Tomorrow is the last day of school. In honor of the "letter to yourself", I went back and read my blog post from the last day of school last year. I sincerely hope I continue to change in a positive way.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Pursuit of Happiness

Board games have become increasingly loud, colorful, and crazy in an attempt to catch the buyer's eye. However, last night I played a tried and true board game that requires little fanfare: Trivial Pursuit. It's true, in recent years Trivial has tried to stay up to speed with mainstream board games. With editions like "Pop Culture" and "90s" it's tarnishing an already golden game. The good ole Genus version(s) is the best around. It's simple: answer trivia questions correctly, fill your gamepiece with pie pieces before the other team and win. I grew up on this game. I love it. It gives me an outlet for all of the random facts swimming around in my head. For instance, last night I was able to successfully answer this question: "What Pakistani president was the first head of state to give birth while in office." I dug deep. It starts with a B... Benazir Bhutto! Where in the world did that come from!? We ended up losing the game last night, but it's moments like those that I thrive on. Digging into the deep recesses of the mind to pull to the forefront random facts that surprise and amaze your friends. It truly is a pursuit of happiness.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Home

"That's Auburn's new head football coach," I whispered to Brandy. We were on our way into church yesterday. I had heard that Gene Chizik went to Cornerstone, but had never seen him there. As we sat down I thought to myself, "I've got to text my brother and tell him that Coach Chizik goes to my church." Suddenly, a much greater realization hit me: I just referred to Cornerstone as "my church." Woah. If you've followed this blog or know me with any sincerity, you know that I've had church issues in the last year or so. I pretty much left the church. Still believed in Christ and the beauty of his death for me, but didn't so much believe in the church's ability to adequately communicate that to the world. Two or three months ago, God eased that burden for a few days. Why? I don't know, He's God. During that window of vulnerability, I went to Cornerstone Church one Sunday morning. It was great. Perfect? No. No human is perfect and no church is perfect. There was, however, a sense of calmness as if God was saying: just check this joint out, give it a good go. I left with a desire to go back. However, my schedule was such that I was out of town for a few weekends and didn't get to go back. Recently (the last four or five weeks) I've been able to go weekly. Every time I go, I am challenged, convicted, uplifted, and I leave knowing I've spent time in communion with other believers and with the one in whom we believe.
Gene Chizik goes to my church. Gene Chizik is not what's important in that sentence. My church is what's important. God has given me a new place to feel at home. I'm still new there, but I can't wait to go back each week. I can't wait to get more involved. Please don't think I'm putting Cornerstone on a pedestal. It is simply a church that can handle the ecclesiastical baggage I've accrued in recent years. I thank God for that.

But seriously, if Auburn is having a bad season next year, email me your prayers and I'll pray them for you. Ya know, because Gene Chizik goes to my church.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Where Blues Lives

For today's post, I'm proud to welcome my father as a guest blogger. Here, he recounts his experience at Gip's place, a small blues shack in Bessemer, AL.

It is difficult to describe the location and the ambience at Gip’s place. Somewhere deep in the heart of a rundown Bessemer, Alabama neighborhood lies a “juke joint” that is 110% blues music. I was invited by my friend Phillip Davis to join him and two other male friends, Joe and Andy, to visit Gip’s. last Saturday night. Gip is an 87 year old blues guitar player and singer of the Mississippi John Hurt genre who stayed true to form throughout the evening. His “place” is a shack in someone’s back yard between Bessemer and Midfield. There is no cover charge, but a cowboy hat was passed around frequently to help with the performer’s expenses. The roof is tin, as are the walls. There are tables (but not many) and chairs and ashtrays. The Christmas lights are still up as are the decorations. There remained a bobble head Jesus/John Lennon doll on the Peavey amp on stage during all the performances. Neon signs adorn the walls and there is one commode outside (no sink). But the main thing at Gip’s is the music—blues music and lots of it. One fellow got up and played his slide guitar and then his cigar box guitar with 4 strings and a fretless neck. Yes, a guitar made of a cigar box! Then the evening got serious. The MC stated that weapons, including guns and knives, were forbidden as was cursing and fighting. The Spoons took the stage and rocked, covering ZZ Top and KW Shephard. Then a 65 yr old African American woman named Shar-baby covered Elvis Presley’s Blue Suede Shoes among others, followed by J.T. Brickman from the N. Mississippi All-Stars. By this time all heads were swimming in genuine juke joint blues. There is a smaller shack halfway up the driveway where ribs, burgers and smoked sausage were for sale as well as $1 water, .75 Pepsi and $2 beer. It rained at 9 o’clock but no one noticed. People bring their own beverages (Nascar style) and sit on their coolers. The racial split was about 60-40 black to white and everyone got along very well. Love of blues music was the common denominator and the place was loud and peaceful. We left at midnight, but the place was still totally rocking. Who knows when they shut the place down.

Anyways, it was a great experience I will not soon forget. And the thing is, they do this every Saturday night.

Was it a dream? Was it surreal? No, it was Gip’s Place and it ROCKED solid!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

To Boldly Go...

*Warning: This blog post contains nerd content. Drew, if you can't handle the nerd, get off the starship.

I saw Star Trek last night. It was really good. I don't want to sit here and tell you it was the most incredible movie I've ever seen and you be disappointed when you see it, but it was really good. When I was growing up, my mom (Happy Mother's Day Mom. I love you!) watched Star Trek: The Next Generation. I was too young to really get into it, but I liked what little bits and pieces I saw. I knew characters (Captain Picard, Riker, Worf, Data, and Lavar Burton from Reading Rainbow with the crazy headband on his eyes.) I'm also a bit of a sci-fi geek, so this movie was right up my alley. It was directed by J.J. Abrams, the director of my favorite TV show LOST. In case there's anyone reading this that has seen Star Trek and watches LOST, I have a question for you. Is J.J. Abrams the unequivocal king of time travel in our day or what? He pulls it off every time without getting TOO weird. I mean yeah, it's weird. But he does it in a way that seems to say, "This is how it COULD work, if we were able to do it." It's more believable than getting into a mad scientist's machine, dialing in a year, and pressing a glowing red button. In LOST it's a result of a source of highly volatile energy. In Star Trek it's a result of singularity, or black holes. Now, we don't know much about black holes, but we know that they bend space and time. I think that if we are ever going to travel time, it is more likely to be a la Star Trek than LOST. Regardless, the only way we will ever get there is to... "Boldly go where no one has gone before."

Friday, May 8, 2009


I survived. This past week has been looming large for a month or so now. I have known how busy it would be, how much it would demand of my time and attention. I am now on the other side and, for the most part, and very pleased with the results. Snow White was a great success. We did one evening show for the community and two daytime shows for the school. The kids did so great and I think they really had a blast doing it. It was well received by parents, students, and faculty. One faculty member came to my classroom and raved about the show. He claimed it was the best Drake drama club performance he's ever seen! It was a great experience and one I can't wait to be a part of next year!
The very next night, we had our Spring Choir concert with the Junior High school. Because the musical was so late in the year, I really didn't have the time to mentally prepare for this concert. Thus, the result seemed rushed and unorganized. I forgot to even remind my after school choir (mostly sixth graders) that we even had the concert! As a result, only about ten of them showed up. Yikes. They were so embarrassed and hardly sang during the first show. Two of my officers ("historians") made a slide show of pictures from the year. It kinda took the choir by surprise when, after we finished our three song set, I asked them to sit and turn around and face the screen. They laughed, pointed, cheered, and jeered as the pictures rolled by. It was a great way to recap the year and say thanks for a great year!
The second show went much better. I would even go so far as to say that the seventh grade choir sang their three pieces the best they've EVER sung them. I was very proud. My only regret is that I wasn't more prepared for this concert. I would've liked to have added another piece or two to make it more special for them, but I was simply zapped from this crazy week.

I hope yours went well.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Let the Tale Unfold

The day has come. It's been months in the making, hours of sweat, some tears, lots of laughs, and a lot of fun. Tomorrow night we premier our Middle School production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: the Musical. I'm not going to lie, I've had mixed emotions up to this point. However, tonight we had our first full dress rehearsal with EVERYTHING: lights, costumes, makeup, the works. Save a few microphone mixups, it went very well. It finally "clicked" for me tonight. The dwarfs finally looked and acted like dwarfs, the crone finally looked like an old cranky woman, and Snow White finally beamed with princessorial innocence and joy. One of the other Drama club teachers reminded the cast and crew of something that helped me out a great deal as well tonight. She reminded them that this is a live show; things will go wrong. And it probably will not be the same thing two times in a row, but you move on. The show must go on! So, I hope to see you at Drake Middle School for our production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It's a gem of a fairytale!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Swine and Dandy

This weekend is the date for the 2009 Young Voices Festival. This is a state-wide choral festival for kids in grades four through nine. Kids audition earlier in the year, and if they make it they go to Auburn University for the festival. There are four choirs made up of kids from all over the state. They rehearse music they've been working on for months and a final concert is performed on Saturday afternoon. Many kids and choir directors look forward to this event. It got cancelled this year due to fears of swine flu outbreak. Are you kidding me? I just don't get it. Perhaps I'm ill informed, but I don't see what the big deal is! To me, it seems like the media has caused a global frenzy over this virus that is causing people to panic. Now, on one hand, I can see why an event like Young Voices would be a dangerous situation for an airborne virus (tons of kids sitting next to each other for hours breathing all over each other.) I'm just not convinced that this H1N1 "swine flu" is all that big of a deal. How is it any different or more dangerous than the regular flu? People have been getting the flu all over the world for years. I really feel sorry for the kids. There are hundreds of kids all across the state of Alabama that spent hours practicing music and looking forward to a trip that they aren't getting to take. It's a shame. I was only going to take four kids. But some schools take forty, fifty kids. Oh well. Better luck next year, I suppose. Never in a million years did I think that something like this would be cancelled by something called "swine flu". Stupid pigs.