Wednesday, February 25, 2009

60 Minutes & It's Free: REQUIEM at St. Luke's on March 22

Remember when I used to do "30 Minutes & It's Free" -- well, when I did it twice, for the IMA and for the ISM? WELL! It's back, and this one is not altruistic and culture-vulturey; rather, it's shameless self-promotion. And it's 60 minutes, not 30. Ready? Go!

On Sunday, March 22, at 4:00pm, St. Luke's Chancel Choir, Orchestra, and Whatnot will present one of the first performances of a piece called Requiem, composed by Mack Wilberg, the music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. You should totally come.

Requiem is sung in Latin and English, but don't freak out if you're not fluent in Latin any more. Or English, for that matter. The music will transport you to another place. It's almost other-worldly in sound, and, really, what the hell else are you going to be doing on a Sunday afternoon? You don't have to get dressed up, the concert is free, and it's very cool. Be there or be square, man.

The choir retreat to prepare for this concert is this weekend, so I'll probably have more to share after that. I'll make sure you know a little bit more about the composition and what to expect at the concert. Stay tuned!

Here are the details:
WHEN
: 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 22, 2009 in the year of our Lord
WHERE: St. Luke's Church, 100 W. 86th Street, Indianapolis
HOW MUCH: $0, though a freewill offering will be accepted
WHY: Because your spirit needs a little music; it's good for you

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ricky Re-Dardos: Recognizing my faves

About a week ago, I got a comment from Cliffie at Canary Feathers, et al, indicating that he had bestowed upon me the Dardos Award. Here’s how awesome Clif thinks I am; on good days, I believe him. (While you’re there, read the post entitled “Methodist Conga Line” – Clif is awesome!)

Anyway, here’s the Dardos rundown. It’s given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing. These stamps (see right) were created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web.

The guidelines for being awarded thus are as follows:

1) accept the Dardos by displaying it here, along with the names of those who bestowed it and a link to their respective journals; and

2) pass it on to another five blogs I deem worthy of this acknowledgement, contacting each of them to let them know they have been selected.

But I’m not sure I can come up with five bloggers who haven’t already received the award, so I award the Dardos to the following three blogmistresses:
  • My friend Katie (Shh!) at AnonymousK, whose wit and intelligence I prize as much as her friendship. We met under what one might consider trying circumstances (staffing a conference for Indiana’s VIP leaders – me, as a volunteer and she, as the do-everything assistant to a 127-year-old midget slavemaster whose face was held on only by her super-tight bun hairdo). We have been friends and colleagues ever since. At AnonymousK, she shares the ups and downs of newmommyhood and is embarking on a journey back to school. Totally. Adds. Value to the Web.
  • My friend Esme at Esmerelda’s Book Thing, who works during the day as an academic advisor at a Major Big Ten University, and who has somehow wrangled herself this awesome arrangement where publishers mail her copies of books to read and review. I am not kidding when I tell you I think this is the coolest thing in the entire world, and I hope someday to establish this set-up for myself. In addition to great reviews and fascinating insights, she’s also got a heart for family and community, and she’s pretty funny, too. Totally. Adds. Value to the Web.
  • My friend Amy at StarkReAlity, who is working to make it so that every non-profit organization has – and is using – an account on the major online social-media networks (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to raise awareness and generate donations. Amy’s a graduate of the Master’s program at the Center on Philanthropy at IUPUI, and she’s supersmart. Totally. Adds. Value to the Web.

Viva la Dardos!

Scott -- you ignorant Twit!

It turns out I’m doing a lot less blogging lately, and I think it’s because I’ve been investing time in Twitter, the micro-blogging site. You can see my page here. (And I will eerily greet you to that same page if you click here.) (Why does the phrase “FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE” seem like it would fit into that last parenthetical aside?)

Anyway.

On Twitter, you get 140 characters to answer the question, “What are you doing right now?” And sometimes I actually even answer that question. But I also use Twitter to have conversations – usually comedy-based, because you know I fear confrontation – with some people and to just get to know what’s going on in the lives of others.

I’m “following” (that is, listening in on) about 180 people right now, and I have about 250 people following me. Most of the people I’m following are in and around Indianapolis, but some are friends from school (Scott Dierdorf and Chad Norman) or even celebrities, like actors Wil Wheaton and Greg Grunberg, writers Neil Gaiman and John Hodgman, reporters Rick Sanchez and Ana Marie Cox, athletes Shaquille O’Neal and Lance Armstrong, even local weatherman Paul Poteet.

You should try Twitter out for yourself. It’s cool to follow along for a while before diving in headfirst, and you just might make a new friend!

Here's a handy video that it explains it all:



Can't see the video? Click here: http://www.vimeo.com/757146


UPDATE: OH! And I totally forgot: Using Twitter just won me a pair of Oakley half jacket sunglasses over the weekend. Occasionally, people you follow will have contests -- like, if you become their 1,000th follower or whatever or if they have a promotion going on to get you to join a website. I participated in a treasure hunt for Because You Can and won me some new, stylin' (and, according to Jon, bulletproof) Oakley's!

A theory about life, and why forgiveness is important

Lately, it has become abundantly clear to me that my life theory ("We're all human, just trying to do our best") has a couple of corollaries:
  1. We're not all at our best all the time, and

  2. Almost always when we're in conflict with someone, it's because we're not both being our best selves.
Look at it this way: when I'm my Best Scott and you're your Best You, we're probably not going to piss each other off, because our Best Usses are both considerate and forgiving. But if I'm not my Best Scott OR you're not your Best You OR (*shudder*) we're both not our Best Usses, then the likelihood for conflict rises exponentially.

So. We're all of us all the time on the up-and-down cycle of life. The realities of being human -- a constantly changing collection of chemicals (hormones, amino acids, etc.) in a constantly changing electrical field (thoughts, emotions, etc.) -- keep us on our toes. Our path is not exactly a sine-wave like in the graph above, but it's a real phenomenon.

The good news is that we're not all up and we're not all down at the same time. It would be interesting to see what would happen if we were all our Best Selves at one time, but I'd be terrified of what it would look like if we were all our Worst Selves at the same time. (I kind of think Evil is what happens when a group of people become their Worst Selves together, but that's an idea for another post.)

Here's where forgiveness comes in.

When I experience somebody else in a negative way, it's a whole lot easier for me to forgive him or her when I realize that he or she is on an up-and-down cycle just like I'm on an up-and-down cycle. I guess this is just a re-statement of The Golden Rule, but it's really made it easier for me to see the world with forgiving eyes.

Therefore, be nice to people. And when they're not nice to you, be nice to them anyway, and just remember they're not plugged into their Best Thems.

And forgive them.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Madelynn and Owen on Valentine's Day

Here are some pics of my awesome niece and nephew from the weekend:

Owen's sleeping pose: Fists up! Eyelids down!


Madelynn is a good helper with the baby.


Grandpa gets some good cuddle time.


Big sis Madelynn has some fun with her Elmo book.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

It's all happening at the Zoo...

KT and Trevor and I went to the Zoo today. It was a little cold when the sun was behind the clouds, but we had a great time. We were specifically on a mission to see the new bears and, on the way, we saw some other stuff, too.

When we walked in, the keepers were doing the seal/sea lion show. Here's Diego the Sea Lion showing off his mad obedience skillz:



To warm up a little after the show, we went into the Oceans building where we petted the dog sharks and saw penguin feeding time. When you're the one with the fish, you're very popular among penguins:


On our way out of the Oceans building, we spent some quality time with the polar bear:

After that, we went around to see the walruses. Here's one of them giving a Valentine's hug to Trevor:


After our fun time with the great big marine mammals, we went to the Forests, where we saw a beautiful tiger. I got a GREAT picture of the majestic tiger chainlink fence between us and the tiger:


Then we went to see the bears, who really weren't doing that much, but they were cute:


We ended with a trip to the Underwater Adventure Dome, where I again had dreams of a special screening of Sharks in Venice, and then we headed to Steak N Shake for lunch before I had to head off for another commitment.

It was a great day with two great friends and all kinds of great animals!

Times You Roman


I've had a good number of questions about the logistics of this post -- what you see at left is a screen-grabbed (and cropped) image of my font in Microsoft Word.

If you click the image, you'll get linked to the YourFonts.com site to make your own!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Chanting, Bears, and a War Movie

Sorry it's been almost a week, faithful readers. I'm sure both of you have missed the signature All I'm Saying Wit and/or Wisdom™ since last Friday. Sadly, on account of the sickness I am fighting off, I can promise neither wit nor wisdom at this time.

BUT!

I will give you an update on some cool things happening around town that you -- yes YOU, Mrs. White! -- can be a part of.




THE CHANTING - I'm sort of getting over it.
So! Remember when I didn't win $50,000 because of some stupid monks?* I'm (pretty much) over that now. So over it, in fact, that I'll be doing some chanting of my own (sort of) this weekend.

St. Luke's (I'm back!) hosts a monthly Taizé-style worship service, and I'm going to be part of a group of music leaders for that service this weekend -- and, assuming I don't have chanting-monk flashbacks, I'll be part of it in the future, too.

Taizé is this place in France where these monastic brothers came up with a contemplative style of worship that involves repeated musical phrases, silence, and prayer. It's pretty cool, and you don't necessarily have to be all up into church to get something out of it. Here's a sample of a Taizé worship song. (Ours will be in English, I'm pretty sure.)

How You Can Be A Part Of The Chanting: Come to St. Luke's United Methodist Church (100 W. 86th Street) at 5:00pm on Sunday, February 15. Join us in the Sanctuary, which will probably look dark, since we gather in the apse (a new word I just learned, which means "a semicircular recess in a church or whatever") and the rest of the Sanctuary is dark. You don't have to sing/chant if you don't want to; just sitting there quietly can be a really nice centering end to the weekend and get you ready for the week.

* If you don't remember, either because you've blocked it out from hearing it so many times or you haven't heard it before, send me a note, and I'll tell you all about the time I was on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?"



THE BEARS - They're brown and they're spectacular.
Did you know there's new bears at the Indianapolis Zoo? My insider source, LuckyGirl and Zoo member KT, tells me that they're brown bear cubs, and my vast internet research has led me to this video of Kiak and Ketnu, the Alaskan brown bear cubs, in person. Well, "in bear." The video is especially cool if you pay no attention to the fact that the soundtrack sounds like the end title credits to Hangin' with Mr. Cooper (although the music does add a bit to their Synchronized Bearing antics at the two-and-a-half-minute mark). Dig:



How You Can Be A Part Of The Bears: Get thee to the Indianapolis Zoo and see 'em while they're young 'uns. Because bears are always cool, but bear cubs are adooooooorable! I think KT, her 8-year-old nephew Trevor, and I may be visiting the bears on Saturday morning. (This has not been confirmed, however.)




THE WAR MOVIE - Telling a soldier's story
My friend Tom Sparx, whose real name is not Tom Sparx but whose stage name is Tom Sparx, is making a movie, and it's not your run-of-the-mill film. And you can be a part of it. Here's what Tom writes (which I edited just a little bit):

I am currently in pre-production on an independent short called Soldier’s Song. I will be playing the lead in this project, as well as co-directing -- yes my directorial debut!

Soldier's Song is the true story of Vietnam veteran Lt. Greg Robbins. His story began when he was ordered to Vietnam to clean up after the war as part of a special army unit. He was captured and put into a POW camp for several years, and on his release he was ordered to continue his previously assigned duties. In the course of those duties he stepped on a landmine. His injuries led to paralysis from the waist down and constant, intense pain from the waist up. The movie takes place while Lt. Robbins is recuperating at a military hospital.

This movie is not about war but about the human story of one soldier and how war affected his life and the lives of those around him.

My personal ties to this project are many. My business partner had the honor to meet and interview Lt. Robbins while he was in the hospital in the early '80s. My father is a Vietnam veteran and a retired Lt. Col. in the Air Force. My brother spent 21 years in the Navy, including time in Desert Storm. So, I know how war can affect a family, and I know and appreciate what my father, brother and other friends and family in the armed forces did to allow us all the life we have.

We hope to use the movie as a teaching tool to help people understand that war affects us all. No matter your attitude towards war, pro or con, war has an effect on all of us. This movie will help people understand what is required to allow peace and freedom to be attained and kept!

We start shooting next month. Our projected budget for this project is $25,000, and I am asking for your donations large or small to allow this project, this story, this dream to come to life! I am looking to complete this project with the help of many! Thank you for taking the time to read this and for the support in this endeavor!

Your donations can be sent to Migdahlohr Productions, c/o Michelle Gussow, 6740 Hoover Rd., Indianapolis, IN 46260 or to the Indy Artist’s Peace Project, same address. This is a non-profit project. If you have any questions or would like to support in other ways, you can call me at [Tom probably doesn't want his phone number on teh internetz, so if you want to get in touch with him, e-mail me, and I'll pass along the details].

Sincerely,
Tom E. Sparx


Here's the cool thing: Tom also told me (and all his Facebook friends) that anyone who contributes will be mentioned in the credits of the movie. You can be immortalized in film, y'all!

OH! And if you want to read the script, I also have that and can e-mail it to you.

How You Can Be A Part Of The War Movie: If you can make a donation to this film at any level ($25,000 would be good), follow Tom's instructions in his letter above. If you know someone who is interested in this type of film -- either as a potential donor or as a potential audience for the film -- we can put them in touch with Tom and his production company.

Friday, February 06, 2009

"Eyebrows." I don't know why.


Can't see the video? Click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVblWq3tDwY&eurl=http://sssemester.blogspot.com/&feature=player_embedded

This is awesome. I love the look on the little girl's face.

What this ad brings up for me, though, is the question of the international digital divide. UK viewers can download the Cadbury Eyebrows ringtone, but US viewers cannot. There was a song that I wanted to download in December, but it's only available from the UK iTunes Store, not the US iTunes Store.

I'm not getting all New World Order or whatever, but wouldn't it be in everyone's best interest for us to be able to download anything from anywhere?

Hat tip to Doug Karr for the video

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

More Owen -- the nephewiest nephew EVER!


Up close and personal



With big sis Madelynn


With Uncle Bugs

Monday, February 02, 2009

A "Millionaire" memory

Lately, I've been having a Twitter conversation with Amy Stark about an initiative she is spearheading to get Hoosiers to use a certain hashtag (#Indiana) on their Indiana-related tweets. Amy's on a mission to bump up Indiana's Q score using online thingamajigs and social media whatsits.

Anyway, our conversation just made me remember an exchange that took place while I was a contestant on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? a few years ago...
The contestant experience is pretty long and drawn-out. They had us show up in the morning, and we had a few hours of "contestant briefing" with the producers and the legal guy and all kinds of other stuff before lunch, and then we had make-up (!) and some other stuff before going out to tape. Part of the other stuff after make-up was having our pictures taken for posterity -- or for record-keeping or for somesuch.

The photographer they used was a very thin woman, dressed all in black, with a vahguely Eurohpeahn ahccehnt. Very cool, very now, very trendy, very Paris-Milan-New York.

The drill went like this: the production assistant would hand us a piece of paper with our name and hometown on it, we'd hold it in front of our chest, the Europhotographer would take our mugshot, and then we'd go sit on the couch and wait to go on stage. But as I held up my paper ("Scott Semester / Carmel, IN"), the woman was clearly puzzled.

"IN?" she asked, pronouncing it "in" -- like the preposition used to indicate inclusion within space, a place, or limits.

"Indiana," I helpfully suggested.

"Eeen-dyana," she sort of repeated.

"Indiana," I smiled.

"Eeen-dyana. Whehre is thees?"

"It's close to Chicago," I said, certain she had at least heard of Chicago.

"Ah. One of the ones een the meedle."

"Yes. In the middle," I agreed.

"One of the ones we fly over, no?"

"Yes, one of the ones you fly over," I said.

SNAP! FLASH!

"Thaht vill be all. Next!"

Clearly, Amy and the #Indiana gang have a big task ahead of them...

Sunday, February 01, 2009

A few pics of Owen

I have a new nephew!! His name is Owen!! Here's a few pictures of him!!


Owen and his fists of fury


Big Sis, Mom and Owen


One set of proud grandparents and Owen