Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Spared No Expense

We went to a mega-church this Christmas Eve. I wanted to hate it, but we might go back. It’s a Christmas miracle, if you ask me.

Walking into the place, one could tell we were within a stone’s skip of Hollywood. This church consisted mostly of a sparkly sound stage, dominated by an enormous hanging sculpture that resembled a graphic designer’s depiction of Big Bang. It was simultaneously seductive and pop science-y, and there was no altar to be seen.

There were about 80 rows of wraparound stadium seating in the auditorium, and at least two TV cameras nestled within the studio audience. Most entertainingly of all, the pastor looked like the guy who played Dr. Malcolm in Jurassic Park, and he opened the sermon by likening himself to Oprah and throwing stuff out into the audience à la O’s Favorite Things. And the music. It was like Guster with all its new-agey percussion and harmony, and then sang a woman who could have been a Celine Dion sound-alike. The crowning glory was in the bass guitar player’s exquisite and technically improbable rendition of It Came Upon A Midnight Clear.

Maybe all of this contributed to why I began to let Dr. Malcolm into my narrow, uncharitable little mind. Based on his looks and likeness alone (and glasses—oh, the Geek Glasses, they get me listening every time!), I expected academics. Khan Academy, even (if Sal Khan wore geek glasses). Surely this man was about to start talking about chaos theory or superstrings, or the hallowed principles of evolution, or anything at all besides Jesus. And then, before I could fully shuck my biases, the musicgasm swept in, followed shortly by these amazing little self-contained communion cups (wine and crackers together in a teensy cup). Hallelujah.

It took me by surprise, this swift and sudden acquiescence to Jesus, the rising and flowing of the J-tide, and the ebbing of the science one. And ironically I expected the whole process to involve more science. The beginnings of the sermon, in fact, were predictably wholesome, anecdotal, and precipitated by God-themed video clips viewable on one of two jumbotron screens. So, what happened?

I suppose there was one nod to the empirical in one of these video clips. At one point we virtually “roller-coasted” down, opening-movie-credits style, upon an unwound strand of a DNA double-helix. This was amidst narration about us allllll having parts of God’s DNA. Wowsa! That’s kind of a compelling idea, there, Ian Malcolm: if we are all related on a molecular level, and some of us here in the studio audience or on stage are at one with God, we have logical proof (of my own personal association with God, that is) by deduction. And so I started floating on this proof and was buoyed up by it, as if going along by inner tube. Irrefutable, lazy river faith.

In the end, I was really moved, though. Maybe it was due to the holy music of Christmas, which is the reason we sought out Church-with-a-Capital-C that night rather than the scrappy, lovable UU church with its honest budget and feebler singing. Likely it was my feelings of loss for a particular few folks these last few years—my folks, who, while they are technically still alive, have turned out to be weak excuses for grown-ups. Probably it was the pastor’s insistence that we are all allowed, nay, invited to feel joy at the birth of a stranger’s child.

Mostly, it was this idea: We are welcome; I am welcome to feel joy about God.

I cried off all my mascara and Tammy Faye eyeliner—had to bring my A-game to a real-life Hollywood venue, you know—and decided to come back.

It won’t be easy. There is so much resistance from the kids these days when we try to go anywhere or do anything. They are a little overscheduled and would spend the entire day on the Wii if allowed. Fortunately, one of the premises of this church is accessibility to the unshowered masses; it’s available online as a live stream. Now I can cry about the beauty of the birth of Christ in the privacy of my own home, and this time I will skip the mascera.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

More Kid Quotations

"I have a friend; she has a Spanish aroma..." -Will, on his classmate's accent

"Let's see the buttcheeks of the tree!" -James, looking at leaf stomata under a toy microscope



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Quote of the Day

"He's got a really good sense of stink" -James, talking about his dad's farting

Thursday, December 13, 2012

And Speaking of Letters

It's late in the game for the Holiday 2012 Season, but I've opened an Etsy. If your family or small business is in need of some holiday card custom calligraphy for your addresses, give me a holler.




http://www.etsy.com/shop/XmasCardCalligraphy

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Chess Man

My seven-year-old might be a chess prodigy tournament player. Okay, I made that part up about there being a tournament of any kind (that we know of, yet). But he should, he really should enter some kind of competition. Will's got talent. It's eerie.

We started playing chess with him just before he turned six. Well, when I say "we", I mean I delegated the task to Joe, since I suck at chess. Badly. In fact, that has been the fun of it. Joe taught Will, who picked it up easily. Will taught me the rules, and continues to remind me of them to this day. We'll play, and it is a win-win for all. Those who are watching as Will roundly beats me are delighted. I am delighted (which is weird, because normally I hate losing). And, of course, Will is stoked.

The chess set we have is missing some of its cheap, plastic pieces. Instead of kings, we have Skylanders Giants. They are too fat and unwieldy for the board, but this adds to the amusement of all parties.

The only bad part about it is Will's reaction to losing, which has happened exactly twice. It would seem all this winning has made him downright averse to not winning! During that infamous game I charged forward and with a haphazard-to-nonexistent strategy. He'd laughed pretty hard and pointed out the futility of several of my moves, right up until my knight was checkmating him, or whatever it's called. Then, stuff got real. He wanted a re-do. He begged to break the rules. I told him I was sorry, but we'd play again after I won. After all, he'd taught me everything I knew and beaten me dozens of times and it was my first win ever! He swept the board and ran away, shouting about the injustice.

Tonight, I beat him for the second time ever (pure luck, I assure you, and also, the fact that he blurts out advantageous move possibilities for his opponents that I'd never even considered). He took it in stride. Now that he may be at a maturity level where he can deal gracefully with the outcome of a game, I think we'll ask him if he wants to join a club.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What, No Invisibility Cloak?


I just hope I can find the fore headed belcher dragon at Wal-Mart before it is all sold out.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Frankenblankie





I'm making a knitted blankie from yarn remnants of other projects. Scarves, mostly. This is fun. I made it up (I think). Mind you, I'm no craft bloggeress. If you want to read a real blog about crafts that is refreshing, clear, and Tori Spelling-free, check out my cousin's blog, The Craft Nest. (http://www.alannageorge.com/). Formal learning aside, I am really enjoying myself with this homespun, motley blankie thing.

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We attempted to take a wholesome family picture for our Christmas cards this weekend. This involved a modest amount of trespassing into a nearby neighborhood for its attractive water features. It's also been the one solid week per year that it rains in SoCal, but it stopped raining long enough for a few shots of the kids. The only hiccup is that a few of the kids happen to be at a toothy, oversmiling stage that makes them look a little bit like nonhuman primates in said-pictures. Oh well. Faces a mother could love.