Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Parable of the Two Sons

Godspell rehersals are going pretty well. Perhaps the worst part happened the other day went our Jesus jumped off a box and fell through the stage. It was funny and he is fine; if that's the worst thing that has happened, then the show's in pretty good shape.

Anyway, it's really important to me as an actor (not to mention Christian) to understand what's the parables we're acting out mean. And, I ran into a thinker that had me going, "What? Huh?" It's Matthew 21:28-32 - The Parable of the Two Sons. I had been having serious trouble understanding the meaning of this parable.

Jesus is being questioned by the Pharisees when he tells them this:
28What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, "Son, go and work today int he vineyard."
29"I will not," he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
30Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, "I will, sir," but he did not go.
31Which of the two did what his father wanted?
The Pharisees answer "The First" and Jesus begins to tell them how "tax collectors and prostitutes" will reach the kingdom of Heaven before them.
32For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness and you didn't believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
I had been interpretting this to mean that the Pharisees got it wrong. So, with that assumption, I was under the impression that Jesus was saying something completely different. It didn't make sense to me that the second son was doing what the father had asked because he didn't.

Obviously, I was wrong. The Pharisees answered correctly and JC was basically saying "Yeah, ok. You got the answer right. But, you still don't believe. So, you heaven for you!" He was admonishing them.

So, I get that now... Oscar Time!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Christopher Reeve: More than Superman

You no doubt know that actor Christopher Reeve passed away months ago. That was a sad day for this world. But, it was also rather personally sad for me for not only did a great human being die, but possibly one of my greatest influences died.

Most people (at least those younger than myself) probably remember Christopher Reeve only as Superman. And, in more ways that one, he'll always be remembered for that. Though, I don't think people give him enough credit for that role. In essence, he had to play two entirely different people, or at least play one person trying to fool the world that one personality is not the other. That is, Lois Lane couldn't figure out that goofball Clark Kent was, in fact, the heroic Superman. Here's my point: That is incredibly hard for an actor to pull off.

Next time you watch Superman or Superman 2 (we'll just not acknowledge the horrors that came after), watch Reeve carefully. Notice his mannerisms as Superman and notice how different he is as Clark Kent. They are two completely different characters. He's bold and unstoppable as Supes, while Kent is a klutz. What impresses me is that despite Superman's physical size, Reeve was able to make Clark Kent seem small. I'm nearly blown away that this man never won or was nominated an Oscar.

For Valentine's Day, we watched "Somewhere in Time" starring Reeve and Jane Seymour. Sorry for the plot spoilers, but to get my point across, it is necessary. I don't want to get into the whole plot, but know that Reeve's character falls in love with an actress from 1912. Somehow, he is able to time travel through hypnosis. He convinces himself it is 1912 and soon he is meeting his love in that time. They fall in love and everything is wonderful. Love story. But this one has a tragic ending. Reeve finds a coin from 1979 in his pocket and is suddenly and sadly back in 1980. The coin reminded his mind what was real. This is where the best acting I have seen begins.

He wakes up from his hypnosis and realizes he lost the love of his love. He struggles and tries in vain to hypnotize himself again, but to no avail. An empty soul wails... WAILS... in agony at the thought of lost love. Soon, the lost love is all he can think about. He doesn't move. He doesn't eat, he doesn't sleep. Eventually, the hotel staff tries to check on him. They find him catatonic, sitting in a chair. His eyes are near-empty and he look quite ill.

They get him to the bed where a doctor checks on him. And this is the most wonderfully tragic moment. The lighting on his body suddenly but subtly changes. His expression goes from empty to exuberant to at complete peace. If you don't pay close attention, you don't see it. It's happens in less than 3 seconds. He dies. But, you can physically the transformation in his face. That's all that moves. His lips faintly smile; his eyes dimly shine for a brief moment. Then, all that happiness relaxes into death as his soul leaves his body. You don't see the soul, but you know it's gone. You can see the precise second it leaves his body. That, my friends, if fucking acting.

I cried at that moment. Not so much at the emotion of the movie. No, I found it much more tragic that this world will never be able to see Christopher Reeve's outstanding acting again. It's truly sad that such a wonderful creative fire burned out of this world. If I could be 1/10 of the actor he was, man, that would be good.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

When Opportunity knocks...

I had absolutely no plan for my wife on Valentine's Day. I have nothing against what some call "an over-commercials holiday," nor am I jaded and bitter about love. In all honesty, I simply couldn't afford to get any special Valentine's present.

On Friday, the wife and I met some folks at Panera Bread for dinner and then we all went to see Smokey Joe's Cafe at a local theatre. After getting into the car after eating, I exclaimed, "Happy Valentine's Day! Hope you liked the dinner!" The meal was all of $13 and the tickets to the show were comps (free). And sweetness that she is completely understood that we simply don't have the budget to be all fancy. Just to make sure the point was driven in, I keep telling her all weekend that this was the "Valentine's Day special" and not to be all mad and pissy when nothing else happened on Monday.

Past V-days have been... eh. In fact, I don't think I had a "valentine" until the wife and I hooked up. In year's past, I would hand out the little kiddie "I Choo Choo Choose You" type of valentines to office co-workers. But that was about the extent of my valentine's until we got engaged.

This year, I wanted to do something, but with the budget, there wasn't much. Not to mention, with our 8-5 work schedules, there wasn't much I could do in the way of "surprises" at home. She'd get home before I had time to set gifts out. But since there was neither much money nor opportunity, I made sure to cover my bases all weekend by telling her with certainty dinner and theatre was it.

Then, opportunity knocked on Sunday night. Her co-worker needed to switch shifts on Monday meaning my wife would be working 12pm - 8pm on Valentine's Day. I sprang into action... Well, maybe not sprang... Sat in front of the TV playing Madden 2005 while I thought.

"Special Dinner... I can do that. What to cook? Something we don't usually have. Something that she likes. Has to be Italian. Will the kid eat it? Possibly. Maybe... Um, if you tie him down, he'll have, too. GOT IT! Chicken Parmesan."

Monday's lunch hour would be crucial. I needed several things... Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. We had the other ingredients all ready. Flowers. Candy for the kid. And have lunch, it is, after all, lunch hour. Quick! *Robin, to the strip mall! For we must feast on Chinese Buffet and stop at the Kroger's.

Kroger's had some slim and expensive pickin's. I decided that I could probably afford to put no more than $30 on my credit card. Rose Bouquets were going for $24.99. Thankfully, my wife doesn't like roses and I was able to get a nice bouquet of daisies and a nice vase for under $20. Add the cheese and tax, and I was just under budget. Whew!

There's no moral to this story. I was happy that it all pulled together quite nicely. She gave me some silk "Sugar Daddy" boxers. They feel quite lovely... It's all about the love, people.

We ended up borrowing the movie, Somewhere in Time, from the library. That's right, borrowed from the library not rented from Blockbuster. We're THAT cheap. Now, Christopher Reeve and this movie is a completely new post. I think we'll save that for tomorrow, though.

*In this case, Robin is my co-worker lunch buddy.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Attention World

I am ROYALLY TORKED OFF! This is NOT a drill! This is NOT a test! If it were a test, I would be funnier right now. But this isn't funny! I'm just friggin' pissed. NO, I'm not going to explain. It'll pass within a 2 hours. Until then, avoid me for your own good. Thank you.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

I shall call the pebble, "Dare..."

At last night's Godspell rehearsal, we were learning the music for "By My Side." And someone asked what did this line mean: "I shall call the pebble 'dare.'" We didn't have time for a discussion as to the meaning, so I thought I'd take a moment to analyze the lyrics and open the comments up for discussion.

First, the lyrics, so you, dear reader, can form your own opinions:

Where are you going?
Where are you going?
Can you take me with you?
For my hand is cold
And needs warmth
Where are you going?

Far beyond where the horizon lies
Where the horizon lies
And the land sinks into mellow blueness
Oh please, take me with you
Let me skip the road with you

I can dare myself (I can dare myself)
I can dare myself (I can dare myself)
I'll put a pebble in my shoe
And watch me walk (watch me walk)
I can walk
I can walk!

I shall call the pebble Dare
I shall call the pebble Dare
We will talk about walking
Dare shall be carried
And when we both have had enough
I will take him from my shoe, singing
"Meet your new road!"

Then I'll take your hand
Finally glad
That you are here (you are here)
By my side

This is my interpretation. Well, if you haven't figured it out yet, this song is ultimately about walking the road with JC, not literally, but figuratively. In a sense, it's about the path of Christianity and being saved.

The author/singer of the song is talking to Jesus through out. In the first paragraph above, he asks Jesus if he can be a follower of his teaching. The imagery of "my hand is cold and needs warmth" refers to a soul being spiritually dead. Something in this person is missing and s/he needs help finding it. So, in essence, the singer is asking Jesus to warm him spiritually.

The phrasing of the second paragraph suggests that the singer is has never ventured beyond the lands that s/he is familiar with. It is obvious to the author that Jesus’ path leads to unfamiliar territory, yet s/he feels the need to walk with Jesus. In order to find the missing part of his/her life, the singer realizes they must venture to these unknown places. S/he asks Jesus if s/he can go with him to these lands. Symbolically, this represents what a person must do become a Christian – that is follow Christ’s teachings.

The third paragraph talks of daring oneself. Here’s my take on it. When someone dares you, they tempt you to do something. “I dare you to…” is simply another way to tempt someone into some good or bad action. Add to that this image: the schoolyard playground – home of the “double-dog dare.” What do I mean by that? Children are generally the instigator of the dare. This brings about the idea that, at least spiritually, the singer is a child or at the beginning of his/her Christian faith.

With that in mind, “I can dare myself…” I am tempted to walk with you, Jesus, for I am like a child. The singer is so child-like that to prove to Jesus that he wants to follow him he will dare himself to do it. “Look, Jesus, look at me,” seems to be the intent, like a child starving for attention. The author is certainly starving for Jesus’ attention.

The “pebble in my shoe” acts as a constant reminder that the walker is on a spiritual journey. Not that the journey (faith walk) has to be painful, but that it’s not easy to keep walking the path (or following JC’s teachings). “And watch me walk,” is another child-like attempt to garner Jesus’ attention. “Look at me, Jesus, I’m walking, I can do it” seems to be the thought. It’s like the child riding a bike for the first time. His/her father is holding on to the bike then lets go without the child realizing it. When the child sees dad has let go, they are a little scared but they also see they can do it. The person following Christ is also proving to him/herself that they can do it.

So, why call the pebble “dare?” At this point, the person has discovered the path of Christianity and is trying to lead a righteous life. But, temptation is always around to make us stray from the road. “Dare” represents those temptations.

“We will talk about walking” simply represents the singer listening to Jesus’ teachings. Jesus talks and teaches about “walking” the path and the singer talks with him learning the same.

While all this “talk about walking” is going on, “dare” is still being carried. In other words, the singer is trying to follow Christ’s teachings, but there still is the temptation to sin. The temptation is there no matter if the person sins. “And when we both have had enough/I will take him from my shoe” means that the singer has learned from Jesus not give into temptation. S/he can live his/her life righteously, as Jesus taught. “Singing, ‘Meet your new road!” shows that s/he is no longer tempted by evil and sin.

Salvation has been reached. And, now that salvation has been reached through Jesus, “I’ll take your hand finally glad that you are here by my side.” I think last line’s pretty self-explanatory. The singer has received the “warmth” that s/he was looking for with Christ. S/he can live a righteous life with JC there by his/her side.

I think I’m just now putting the “pebble in my shoe…”

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Iraq The Vote

First of all, I would like to extend congratulations to the Iraqi people for rocking the vote and showing the world they are ready for democracy. Truthfully, I was not for the war in Iraq, at least at the time we invaded. But that's another story for another time. Today, I understand the historical importance of 70% of 14 million voters expressing their freedoms, despite threats of violence and blood baths. No, I didn't support the war, but I do understand this: now that we are there, we cannot afford to lose. The resounding success of Iraqi Elections is a tremendous victory, but the building of peace and establishing a democratic government is not over.

I read this article about how the Sunni's were boycotting the elections. Now, a Sunni cleric is calling the elections illegitimate because "large number of Sunni's did not participate in the balloting." Please note, the same clerics were urging their followers to boycott.

Ok, so let me get this right... You say the elections are illegitimate because a certain group of minorities didn't turn up at the polls (let's forget you told them not to vote). How's at any different from, say, the youth of America not getting out to vote?

My point is if you want democracy, you have to participate in the process. Your vote counts and if you don't vote, you don't have a voice. Meaning, you can't complain about fairness and not being represented later when you don't participate in the process. If the Sunni's are not well-represented in the Iraq Nation Assembly or regional parliaments, then they only have themselves to blame...