Sunday, April 27, 2008

brilliant time saver!

Do you feel like there just aren't enough hours in the day? Would you like to watch a full length feature film but can't afford the time? Wellllll, I've got a solution for you! Offspring #2 told me about the concept of "movies in 5 seconds". All of the 'fluff' is cut out, leaving just the essence of the film. There are a bunch of them on you tube. The Titanic one is my favorite:

Yep, what more does one need?!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dog Sees God... the review

As mentioned in my last post, this past weekend we saw Offspring #1 in Dog Sees God. (The above photo is from the campus newspaper. Offspring #1 is standing in the foreground.)

The play, by Bert V. Royal, is a dark comedy that focuses on the teen years of the Charlie Brown gang. (Offspring #1 plays Marcy/Marcie.) Going into the play, I knew that the characters would no longer be simple, innocent comic strip kids. And indeed CB (Charlie Brown) is dealing with the death of his beloved beagle (yikes, rabies!), Van (Linus) is a pothead, Tricia (Peppermint Patty) and Marcy (Marcie) have become "mean girls", Matt (Pigpen) has become a jock and germaphobe, and Van's Sis (Lucy) is in a mental health facility because of her pyromania. Whoa! But I was prepared for character changes.

What I was totally unprepared for was the raw, incredible power of the play as the characters dealt with some big freakin' issues. For example... In an unexpected plot turn (spoiler alert!), CB develops feelings for Beethoven (Shroeder), a sensitive pianist who has been victimized by the popular kids. As the plot unfolds (especially in the confrontation scene with homophobic Matt) the audience is shockingly reminded of how easily school tragedies can happen when an environment of bullying and intolerance exists.

Some of the biggest laughs came in response to the high-energy antics of Tricia and Marcy. (e.g. They get buzzed at school by adding booze to their milk cartons in the cafeteria.) Yet these characters are far from one-dimensional caricatures. They are played with great depth and complexity, and their behavior helps underscore the tragedy of the pursuit of mindless popularity.

This production was really well done with a talented ensemble of actors. The set and sound design were both top notch and greatly added to the experience. One cool thing... I loved some of the "winks" to the comic strips and movies. For example, Marcy throws a party when her parents are away, and the characters all dance exactly like the cartoon kids did in the Peanuts tv specials.

Hats off to the director (Dr. Rich Brown) and all those involved in this compelling, thought-provoking play.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

tip toe through the...

you guessed it -- tulips!

We were in Bellingham this weekend where we saw Offspring #1's play -- more about that in a future post -- and had a chance to rescue Offspring #2 and his girlfriend from the dorm food. On the way home we stopped at the tulip fields in Mt Vernon. (Pictured at top: Offspring #1 and her boyfriend.) If you are a child of the 60's it is darn near impossible to walk by tulips without that song playing in your head.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Five: For Just 24 Hours

Yesterday I had the 24 hour flu. I had been told by the people who had it first that it really was a twenty-four hour bug. And so while I dealt with all the blech of the flu, I kept reminding myself that morning would come and I would feel a lot better. This is certainly a strange way to start out a Friday Five but it made me think about what I might like to do if I knew it would only last for 24 hours. There are no reality boundaries to these imaginings. So here are the five things for you to consider...

1. If you could dramatically change your physical appearance for 24 hours, what would you do?
I would look like Presbyterian Gal and head to California where she and I would have some wacky fun.

2. If you could live in another place for 24 hours where would you go?
NYC... because if you’ve only got 24 hours, you’ll want a place with plenty to do.

3. You get to do somebody else’s job for a day.
I would either be a movie critic for Time magazine or play oboe in the pit orchestra for a Broadway musical.

4. Spend the day with another person from anywhere in time and space…
I would choose my grandmother (and I'm not picky about the time or place), because it would be awesome to spend time with her again.

5. A magical power is yours. Which one would you pick?
Well... I would like to fly, but I think being invisible would actually be more fun (and potentially quite useful). That’s me pictured below.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Did you ever have one of those days (e.g. at work) where you were so busy it felt like you were playing this?

Yep, that was my Wednesday!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

a tail of two kitties...

The Hub and I might be starting to show signs of cracking with this empty nest thing... This weekend we were perusing the list of available movies on cable and just couldn't settle on one. So we had the bright idea of letting the cat pick it. Marble chose (perhaps not surprisingly) Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, a film based on Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper.

When asked, Marble had this to say:

Marble is being disingenuous. He really did perk up at the big lasagna makin' and eatin' scene. (Marble appreciates well made lasagna.) Plus later, on the back porch, we overheard him passionately discussing with Simon (the neighbor cat) the inherent injustice of class distinctions as portrayed in the film.

So yeah, I think he liked it more than he's letting on.

You can create your own Garfield cartoon here.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

saturday at the refuge

The Empty Nest Hiking Club decided to check out the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge today. In spite of it being relatively close by, we'd never been there before. According to their brochure, the refuge is home to a variety of animals, including opossums, rabbits, chipmunks, coyotes, mink, deer, and elk. On our hike along the "Oaks to Wetlands Trail" we saw...

drum roll please...

garter snakes.

Yep, that was it. Several garter snakes. Although to be fair, we did see lots of cool birds -- including a pair of eagles. Plus the weather was beautiful (warm and sunny) and the trails were pleasant, winding around a couple of lakes.

Pictured above: The Hub by Really Big Tree. (I'm glad to know I didn't take botany for nuthin' -- see how I remembered the proper botanical name of the tree?)

Friday, April 11, 2008

dry labbing the red tent

Back in undergraduate days I was introduced to the concept (and some might say art) of dry labbing. The urban dictionary defines "dry lab" in this way:

To dry lab is to make up data in a scientific experiment, as opposed to observe or experiment in order to obtain it. Usually this is done in response to pressures to finish the experiment by unethical researchers.
e.g. It was getting past 4:30, so Kagame decided to dry lab her experiment in organic chemistry by plugging in plausible figures.

I'll admit to my rare (and I do mean rare) participation in dry labbing in inorganic chemistry. And I would agree that the word "unethical" can "usually" be used in regards to dry labbing, but one can argue that there are certain scenarios where the ethics are not cut and dried. In any event, scientists can tell you that a bad dry labber is oh-so-easy to spot whereas the work of a really skilled dry labber looks authentic.

Some months ago I ran across a book that I thought just might be the literary equivalent of dry labbing. The title was intriguing: How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read, written by Pierre Bayard. In actuality, the book is less a "how to bluff" tutorial and more a satirical consideration of the implications of non-reading vs. reading in our culture.

Bayard's book (and the ol' college dry lab concept) came to mind last night when I attended a book club meeting. The book club, associated with the local Methodist church, is a new one (this was just the second meeting), and it was organized by a couple of friends of mine (who invited me). The book being discussed was Diamant's The Red Tent. Here's the deal. I didn't finish the book. Didn't especially like the book. I only got about half way through because I kept procrastinating with reading it. I know, I know. It has been a HUGE book -- loved by many. But it just didn't grab me; what can I say?

However, true to Bayard's book, that didn't stop me from joining in on the discussion and making witty, even profound observations on the novel. (You'll have to trust me on that "witty" and "profound" business ... And not ask anyone who was actually there.)

So next they are reading Three Cups of Tea. I have higher hopes for finishing that one.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

me... age 9

I seem to recall standing on my head a lot as a child. Which begs the existential question: Why?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

the ghost at the table...

OK, the ghost at said table isn't actually Casper. But every time I hear "Ghost", I think "Casper". But I digress.

I just finished one of the books I got for Christmas -- Suzanne Berne's The Ghost at the Table. It's a novel about two sisters and their dysfunctional-family-Thanksgiving. Frances is the older, married-with-children sister who is hosting the holiday at her home in Concord and Cynthia is the younger, single sister from San Francisco who is overdue for a vist. While in the area, Cynthia, who writes about the sisters and/or daughters of famous people in a "Sisters of History" series for young girls, plans to do a little research on one of her books. Thrown into the mix is the aged, invalid father with whom both Frances and Cynthia have conflicted feelings.

One of the interesting (and true) points the author makes in the novel is that we each have our own version of family history. We all base our interpretation of the past on our own unique frame of reference.

Towards the end of the novel, Cynthia (the narrator) is thinking about her past with her parents and has this to say:

They, like most people, had done their best. You love whom you love, you fail whom you fail, and almost always we fail the ones we meant to love. Not intentionally, that's just how it happens. We get sick or distracted or frightened and don't listen, or listen to the wrong things. Time passes, we lose track of our mistakes, neglect to make amends. And then, no matter how much we might like to try again, we're done.

Berne does have a point there, and I'm sure everyone can relate to it (at least to some degree).

I'd say The Ghost at the Table is a pretty good book -- not brilliant, but worth reading (especially around Thanksgiving)!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Revelation Friday Five

It's time for the Friday Five! Sally over at RevGalBlogPals writes: With this Sunday's gospel reading in mind, that wonderful revelation of Christ to the companions on the Emmaus road, I wonder where you might have been surprised by God's revelation recently. So with no further waffle I offer you this weeks Friday 5:

How has God revealed him/herself to you in a:

First let me say that "revealed" might be a big word. For me it would be more like hints or glimmers... Having said that, here goes:

1. Book
I recently read the autobiography Time Traveler: A Scientist's Personal Mission to Make Time Travel a Reality by Ronald Mallett. Mallet's life goal was to build a time machine so that he could see his beloved father again (who died when the author was, I think, eleven). He shares his struggles with racism and depression as he became a physicist, and he describes his research into black holes and circulating lasers -- which he believe drag time into a closed loop suitable for time travel. I think God is in Mallett's journey and definitely in the science.

I'll have to go with the last two films I've seen (which were recommended by Offspring #2): Cinema Paradiso and Kite Runner. I think you can catch glimmers of God in the complex relationships between the characters.

3. Song
I love songs about roads, rivers, and traveling -- obviously a theological undertone there. Just last night I added a "blog tunes" box. It's only got one song so far, "Travelin Thru". It's a great tune, written by Dolly Parton and performed by a contestant on American Idol. (OK, I'm sort of embarrassed to like Dolly Parton and American Idol, but there you have it.) Click to listen!

4. Another person
Perhaps a recent example would be an elderly patient of mine. I think I've seen him for the past 15 years or so, and he's in his 90's now. At our last visit he said, "I'm not afraid to die. I look at it like being in a theater watching a movie that is nearing the end. I'm satisfied because it's been a good movie."

5. Creation
Ah, this is why I love the Empty Nest Hiking Club -- "connecting" with the ocean, mountains, forests, etc.

Bonus answer: your choice- share something encouraging/ amazing/ humbling that has happened to you recently!
Hmm... our recent trip to NYC was amazing (see earlier blog post)!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


What do you get when you cross Presbyterian Gal and me?

Hint: It ain't pretty.

If you want to play too, go here
It's a promo site for the new Tina Fey movie ("Baby Mama") and it allows you to upload photos of two faces and merge them as a composite baby. Freaky!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

april fool's!

Oooh, what wacky April Fool's pratical joke can I come up with for the clinic? Perhaps something along this line...