SORTING through some video I’ve shot over the last couple of years, I realized I had shot several versions of the same scene from my front porch during the course of the pandemic.
I set some of them to music and posted a few of them, including the one below:
There were other clips I didn’t use. None of them had been thought out or planned, so many became manufactured and just didn’t work.
For some reason, I saved them.
Looking at them again – the ones that didn’t work – I saw they were never going to work, and I deleted them.
I had needed them in order to find the clips that worked for what I wanted to say at the time, but now that I’d found those, these “cutting room floor” clips no longer served a purpose.
WATSON: Like I said, There’s no need to keep looking at them. They served their purpose. ME: And you were exactly right! Which is why I thanked them for their service and moved them to the trash folder.
(Pause) WATSON: Did you empty the trash folder? ME: Um…I… WATSON: Maybe something to think about? ME: That’s fair. I’ll look at that. WATSON: Have you seen that little bone I buried? ME: Check the couch. WATSON: Right! The couch. Thanks.
In each of the video clips, at the time, I was just standing on my porch, looking left and right when I decided, for some reason, to film what I was seeing with my iPhone (Thank you Steve Jobs and Tim Apple! 😉 ).
What occurred to me when I looked back to them was how the scene was always the same and, at the same time, was always different.
The space was always the same, but what was happening in the space was always changing.
Sometimes it was snowing.
Sometimes raining. Sometimes flooding.
Sometimes it was sunny.
And no matter how many days it would rain or snow or flood, the sun would always return.
Rough days happen. Rain falls on all of us.
Not because we’re good people or bad people, worthy people or unworthy people.
The rain falls on all of us because rain falls.
That’s what rain does.
The sun shines on (behind those rain clouds) because the sun always shines.
There has never been a better time to be alive! I’ve said it before, and I don’t mind repeating myself when something this good happens.
In what other age could you be driving in a car, listening to the radio streaming through your phone, hear an artist who is brand new to you and someone you most likely would never have heard of otherwise, park at your destination and look that artist up on that same phone via this unlimited library of information in about ten seconds?
Only THIS age, I tell you!!
I’m so glad I found Stacey Kent. Her voice is hypnotic and very special. Enjoy this beautiful cover of a fantastic song!
I happened onto the marvelous voice and musicianship of Aoife O’Donovan a little over a year ago and have been a super-fan ever since.
For this edition of I’m A Fan Fridays!I’d like to share with you one of my favorite cuts off of her latest album, Fossils. The song is called, “Red & White & Blue & Gold” and is just the right number to get you looking forward to that summer holiday relaxation mood.
Dido and Aeneas is one of the truly great early operas. Written by the English composer Henry Purcell it had its world premiere in 1688. The piece tells the story of the love of Dido, Queen of Carthage, for the Trojan hero Aeneas, and her deep despair when he abandons her.
One of the most enduring mezzo-soprano arias of all time is Dido’s Lament which is sung by Dido to her sister/handmaiden Belinda. She sings:
When I am laid in earth, may my wrongs create no trouble in thy breast. Remember me, but ah, forget my fate!
It is such a moving piece, but through the absolutely mesmerizing artistry of British soprano Sarah Connolly this aria is nothing short of heart-stoppingly brilliant.
I would’ve liked to have shared with you a clip of her in a performance of the opera, but I couldn’t find one that shows the entire piece. So, I bring you her 2009 performance from Royal Albert Hall in which she sings the full aria. Her solo is then followed by the chorus, which sings the finale, “With drooping wings ye cupids come.”
I love The Shawshank Redemption. It just might be my all-time favorite film. At the beginning of the story, Andy Dufresne is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover–a crime he didn’t commit–and is sent to Shawshank Prison in Maine to live out the rest of his days. I’m sure you’ve seen the movie so you know exactly who and what I’m talking about. (Side note: If you haven’t seen this masterpiece, shame on you! Do so immediately! Just keep your TV tuned to TNT. They show it at least once a week, it seems!) It is truly a story about hope when all hope seems completely lost.
Andy is the character that keeps hope alive throughout the story, and infuses the lives of his imprisoned friends with that same, contagious hope. After an initial battle with the understandable fear he has about entering that terrible prison in the first place and a truly horrifying start to his incarceration, Andy is able to find some friends among the inmates and even the guards. He figures out a way in which he can become useful. He creates for himself a possibility.
Hope seems to be easy to live into when you have something to hope for…or, is it something to hope in? Andy lives in the hope that justice will one day prevail, that the truth will one day come to light and it will be proved that he is, indeed, innocent. If he can just work hard, keep his head down and an ear up, he just might find himself in a position to once again bask in the freedom that he and all of his fellow inmates know is just beyond the walls– walls that seem to close in more and more as the years go by.
Sometimes I’ve wondered if the story could’ve played out the same way if Andy had actually been guilty. His innocence seems to be the linchpin. Everyone else is guilty. Their fates are sealed. They know they deserve the punishment they’ve gotten. They might get paroled at some point, but that isn’t very likely. Their hope has all but disappeared with their guilt. Andy, however, has something on which he can hang his hope–the justice that arrives on the back of truth.
But what is truth, really? These days, it seems as though one man’s truth is another man’s blasphemy. Some days it feels to me like something to hang my hope upon is nothing more than yesterday’s pipe dream. I used to be so sure, so certain of where my hope was hung. But, as I entered my thirties and felt my faith changing, I slowly began to realize that my trust in that which is greater than myself was shifting as a result of an extremely shaky and unfocused hope.
In my youth, my hope was firmly fixed upon a life after this one, and, not insignificantly, was tied to an “I’ve got it all worked out” theology. That made things quite easy…until the questions without any answers started popping up. The religion of my teenage upbringing seemed to have very little room for uncertainty. If you studied and prayed hard enough, you’d know what to do. All of the difficult questions had answers, except the ones that didn’t. In those cases, we were to “leave that up to God.”
Without answers, my hope began to fade. Without a feeling of certainty, I began to wander, lost in the desert of the unexplainable. Then I discovered what it is that lies just on the outskirts of unanswerable questions– Mystery. A place where my hope slowly started to flower.
For a brief moment in time, I thought about giving up on my faith. I thought I could, as some of my friends had done, leave God behind in favor of a Secular Humanist approach. (In a remarkable bit of irony, I’ve witnessed the lives of several friends actually transformed by God for miraculous purposes the moment they gave God up. Go figure.) As for me, I could never pull that off. There has always been something in the ceremony of my religious practice that has kept me intrigued and engaged in a pursuit of a relationship with the Sacred. And it was a refocusing on that pursuit that re-energized my hope and strengthened my faith. It was a reinvestment in a greater hope that enabled me to trust in mystery.
A few weeks ago, a dear friend of mine, Dr. Donald Brash, explained his thoughts on hope to me. A statement he made baffled me at first, but as I let it settle, the meaning became more clear. He said:
“Hope is greater than faith because it liberates faith to new possibilities.”
Possibilities. I like them. Without possibilities, we’re doomed to live forever behind the walls of our own personal prisons. The prisons we create for ourselves every time we’re confronted by our own faults and shortcomings.
Hope is real. Hope is powerful. Hope is, as Andy Dufresne says to Red, “a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.”
Ah…Vero Beach! I love ya. Seriously, you’re so beautiful. Your beaches are free and your weather is brilliant. At the same time, though, I simply can’t pay $135 for a short sleeved, casual shirt at the local men’s shop. I don’t even know if I wish I could. It’s a nice shirt, but, let’s face it…it’s not $135 nice. Come on.
Charge whatever you think you can get. That’s capitalism. I’m down with it. You want a specific clientele. That’s your right. I get it. I know that demographic is here, or else your beach-front specialty stores wouldn’t be able to stay afloat, as it were. Folks here may drive slowly and have a terrible time parking between the lines, but Lord knows they’ve got plenty of money to spend.
I truly don’t begrudge anyone here or anywhere a nice, comfortable retirement. I think what’s making me uncomfortable is the exclusiveness. I’ve lost count of the number of different gated communities I’ve seen during the ten days I’ve been here.
What’s breaking my heart a little every day I’m here is the obvious effort our society is putting into separating ourselves from one another. We seem to be buying into the illusion that by putting up walls, implementing rules about the height of our neighbor’s grass, and charging outrageous prices for a golf shirt we’re somehow going to be able to live without the fear of anyone trampling on or taking from us what we’ve worked so hard to store up.
I’m not saying that all who have retired down here constantly say to each other, “Let them eat cake!” But I do wonder if all of the mansions literally built upon the sand here don’t play so very easily into the metaphor of so many misguided uses of money and resources.
We can try our hardest to isolate ourselves from the poor and the disenfranchised. We can stand our ground all we want against the desperate and needy. But it won’t change the fact that they still exist in great numbers all around us.
Vero Beach, I’m glad to have the opportunity to get to know you. You have so much potential; so much to offer. I’m afraid I just may not be your type, and, like a fickle lover, you won’t even notice when I’ve gone.
So, a week ago today we landed in Vero Beach, Florida, ready to begin work on How To Succeed. The cast got settled into our wonderful living accommodations, and after a cursory glance around town, I had in mind a few different routes I thought I might try to run while I’m here.
I’m in the middle of a Lenten Run Streak where I’m running at least one mile per day, every day, through Easter (I might extend it after the holiday…we’ll see), and finding new routes isn’t always the easiest thing to do when working out of town.
Several of us in the cast are being housed in some newer condos on the west side of the city, which has just recently seen some development into the more “wild frontier” type lands that Florida has away from the coastal habitations.
So, Friday evening after a long day of rehearsal, I decided to venture out a bit from the confines of our beautiful if not slightly regrettable gated community to the main road and beyond. The main road is relatively quiet, especially at dusk, around 7:00ish. After a straight shot of a quarter mile or so, I came to a traffic light and took a left. This direction was sure to take me to some more interesting territory by the look of things.
After another mile, a second intersection presented me with another left onto a road which looked extremely interesting. I made the left, and within a few hundred yards, bid adieu to the confines of pavement for the much more pleasant dirt road.
It wasn’t very long before I saw a woman walking in my direction with her leashed canine companion heeling very nicely alongside. I had my earphones in, and was concentrating more on the Dave Matthews Band in my earbuds than what she was attempting to tell me.
“Waaa waaa waaa waaahh, ” she said, as she approached. I removed my headphones to hear her more clearly.
“Hi! I’m sorry. What did you say?”
“Watch out for the bobcats up ahead, ” she said rather casually, I thought.
“You mean, like a kids football team?” I answered, trying to amuse. I was sure she would chuckle. She didn’t. “Bobcats? Really?”
“Yeah, they come out around this time of night, around dusk. Also, not too long ago a raccoon got a guy.” Again with the casual.
“Did you say a raccoon got a guy?”
“Yeah. There was rabies and everything. It was terrible. That’s why I always walk with my dog. Have a great night!”
“Thanks. I will.” I stared for a second in the direction of my certain doom.
How would they break the news to Malisa? I thought to myself.
“Hello, Mrs. Langdon? Yes, we have some news. Your husband…Well, your husband had an encounter with one of our bobcats down here in Florida. Yeah, actually he was able to evade the feline, but in the end it was the raccoon that got him.”
I turned around, turned on the jets and waved politely to the woman and her dog as I left them in the dust.
In honor of this Pulitzer Prize winning musical, I’ve decided to share just a clip if this wonderful show. Here is the Tony Awards performance of the 2011 revival of this classic thing of beauty. Enjoy!
Welcome to another edition of I’m A Fan Fridays! Today I’d like to take you to a movie you might know and even might know very well. I used to teach this film in my Humanities course when I taught at East Brunswick High School some years back.
This film is easily on my Top 5 list, and this scene is perhaps my favorite in the picture. Hope, even in the midst of the most dire circumstances, is a beautiful thing, and music can remind us of that in ways that few other things can.
If you’ve never seen The Shawshank Redemption, see it immediately. If you have seen it, then sit back and nibble on this little nugget. Enjoy!