January 31, 2012

Friday at the Rink

On Friday, the school district sponsored an evening of skating at the Dix Hills Ice Rink. While I attend "Disney On Ice" performances every year, ice skating was an activity that I had never actually tried myself. I was definitely game for this event.

After I had turned in my Doc Martens and laced on the rental skates, I took a very wobbly walk across the lobby to the ice. The rink is very brightly lit and the high white ceiling of sturdy support beams is an impressive sight. There were lots of people already skating, so, without pause, I stepped through the plexiglass doorway on to the ice. Instantly, my two feet slipped in opposite directions and my hands fumbled for the side wall which I would cling to for dear life for the next five minutes. As I looked around, I saw kids moving gracefully across the ice at high speeds and I built up my courage to try it again. First, I had to get my balance and stand on the skates on my own. Once that was done, I was finally able to move across the ice, albeit at the pace of a molasses-coated slug. It was fun and I started to get the hang of it, though after about 45 minutes, my feet, ankles, and calves started to hurt a lot. By that time, I had made my way to the opposite side of the rink and the doorway looked as though it were a mile away. Overall, an evening of ice skating was a cool way to spend a Friday night. Cheers!

my dear brothers and sisters,
stand firm. Let nothing move you.
Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord,
because you know that your labor
in the Lord is not in vain."

~1 Corinthians 15:58


January 28, 2012

Lasermania Spectacular

Last Sunday morning, I discovered an advertisement in the newspaper for a laser show at the public library. For me, a trip to the library is usually a pleasant experience, so I figured I would go to the event and then spend a little time just browsing around the aisles. My library has a great catalog of foreign films and I always seem to leave with a stack of DVDs in hand. This trip would be no different. I spent several nights this past week reading subtitles.

Anyway, I have been to the library's lower level many times for various poetic events that have taken place there, though this was the first time I had ever been there purely as a spectator. As I flashed my library card to the attendant and entered the performance room, I became very curious about the large rack of electronic devices that I found set up in the center of the room. I recognized a few power amps and mixers, though some of it was not familiar to me. I took my seat as the show's host began giving a brief explanation and demonstration. I learned that the word "laser" isn't an actual word at all; it's an acronym for Light Amplification by Simulated Emission of Radiation. It's an interesting factoid, though the actual scientific breakdown behind it wasn't engrossing enough for me to iterate here.

Soon, the lights were dimmed and the lasers lit up the screen with images and effects that were synchronized to current pop songs and show tunes. It was a fun environment and the people in the audience were quick to clap along with every beat and sing along with the words. It was a very enjoyable 45 minutes of ear and eye candy. Very colorful. :)

"Never be lacking in zeal,
but keep your spiritual fervor,
serving the Lord."

~Romans 12:11


January 24, 2012

Wrong Island Railroad

On Sunday afternoon, I chugged over to a hobby shop in Lake Ronkonkoma called Wrong Island Railroad to check out their toy train museum and interactive operating layout. This place is an absolute must-see for electric train buffs.

As I stepped into the rear room, my eyes met with a fantastic setup. Eight engines pulled a series of cars on a veritable labyrinth of tracks through a richly-detailed miniature world. There were mountains, tunnels and farms, Ferris wheels, gas stations, restaurants, and ski resorts. A series of buttons on the exterior of the display triggered all kinds of animations and illuminations. At the first little house on the block, a grandmother reclined the afternoon away on her rocking chair. At the fire department, the garage door swung open as a red truck emerged with its lights flashing. Near the baseball field, two kids swayed to and fro on the tire that hangs from an apple tree. The entire layout was wonderfully elaborate and it made my heart feel playful and light. I couldn't help but smile. Today, may you find yourself on the right track for a joyful journey! Choo choo!

"May you be strengthened with all power,
according to his glorious might,
for all endurance and patience with joy."

~Colossians 1:11


January 21, 2012

Flying with Snow Angels

Ah, the first snows of the season arrived here in NY late last night into this morning. I awoke to find the world wrapped in white sheets with lots of big, fluffy flakes still dropping from the sky. There is a park nearby my house that has a hill where people gather on snowy days like this for wintry activities. The idea of joining in the fun sounded great and I was soon bundled up in my scarf and gloves with the snowboard and toboggan loaded into my trunk. When I arrived at the park, I found that dozens of people were already there on the hillside with more showing up by the minute. It was a fun atmosphere. I tried my hand at the snowboard several times, though I'm not very good at it and I ended up sliding down the hill on my rear end most of the time. I got covered in snow from head to foot, but it was a total blast.  At one point, I even felt inspired to stretch out on the ground and make a snow angel. :D

Back at home, after peeling off my wet clothes and putting on sweat pants, a cup of warming cocoa completed the experience. I originally had a few other things planned, but an unexpected touch of blizzardry on a Saturday morning in January is much nicer by far. Wishing you a weekend of warmth and wonder. Cheers!

"I pray that out of his glorious riches
he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit
in your inner being."

~Ephesians 3:16


January 17, 2012

3 Days, 4 Movies, 2 Paintings

Hope you had a Happy MLK Weekend! The temperatures here in New York have been averaging in the teens, so I spent most of the three days doing indoor things. Friday night into Saturday morning, I was ensconced in my favorite chair watching a quadruple feature of DVDs that I rented from the Red Box machine. I don't get out to the movies very much these days, so all of the titles from the past year or so are pretty much new to me. So, with a bag of strawberry Twizzlers firmly in hand, I started off my movie night with "Green Lantern."

In this film, we meet the handsome, yet irresponsible flyboy protagonist. He is a man at odds with authority figures and he basically messes up every relationship that he has in his life. Until, one day, he is given super powers from outer space and he ends up saving the world from certain annihilation, albeit reluctantly. Oh, yippee. While there are a few exciting scenes in this film, the main problem that I have with it is that the movie-going world has already heard this story and seen the brazen, self-centered main character far too many times. I can't help but think about the countless wanton cop films that all seem to feature the line: "Just wait until the commissioner finds out about this!" It's a cliche. It's formulaic. It's exhausted. Hollywood already gave us Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man and that was fine and fun, but I think it's time for some fresh material. Green Lantern is just more of the same. I could have definitely passed on this one.

The next feature: Steven Spielberg's "Super 8." This is a good movie. I love the idea of a group of kids trying to make a zombie film while all of these apocalyptic things are happening around them. Before viewing this movie, I had heard many comparisons to "E.T." and I can definitely see a few similarities. Some of the shots are very reminiscent of scenes from the older film. Still, it is an enjoyable ride and the fact that the kids' zombie film rolls during the end credits is a nice touch. This one was worth the $1.30 that I spent at the Red Box.

Perhaps the best film of my quadruple feature was "Water for Elephants." Being that I have tickets for Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus in March, this movie's glimpse into early circus life was a welcome treat. Excellent story. Touching ending. It is always great to see Christoph Waltz in action. His portrayal of Colonel Hans Landa in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" is marvelous and his role of August in this movie is equally remarkable.

The last DVD that I popped into the player: "Cowboys and Aliens." While the concept of an alien invasion on the Wild West is wonderfully original, I don't think this movie conveyed it quite as well as it could have. I went into this one wanting to love it (I mean, it stars Harrison Ford: Han Solo, Indiana Jones, etc.), but, after seeing it, the best I can say is that I kinda liked it. It's not awful; it's not great; I wasn't bored; I wasn't blown away. If four stars is a blockbuster and one star is a flop, I would probably give it two stars, maybe two and a half.

I also did some painting over the weekend. I don't consider myself good at it; I just love to create works of art. It feels good to have a finished piece. Here are my most recent two, I hope you like them. Love & light...

"Siren Eidolon"

"Kinesthesia In Marble"

"But when the kindness
and love of God our Savior appeared,
he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done,
but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing
of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out
on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that,
having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs
having the hope of eternal life."

~Titus 3:4-7


January 14, 2012

Shinnecock Nation Cultural Center and Museum

While I have gone to their annual Powwow many times, I've always missed out on my chances to visit the Shinnecock Nation Culural Center and Museum. Last weekend, I decided to take a ride out to the reservation to see the log cabin-like building that opened its doors back in 2001. Upon stepping through the foyer, I was impressed by the high wooden ceiling that is adorned with woodland animals, wrought iron lamps, and native banners. On the museum's upper level, a self-guided tour invites guests to take a "walk with the people" who have been dwelling on Long Island for over 10,000 years. Through a series of vivid murals and artifacts displays (including dugout canoes, woven baskets, clothing, pottery, and arrowheads), the history of these Algonquin descendants plays out from their nomadic beginnings in the Paleo-Indian Period (7000 BC), to their discoveries of early agriculture during the Woodland Period (3500 BC - 1600 AD), and through their first contacts with European settlers (circa 1600 AD) to the present. It offers a marvelous and in depth glimpse into Shinnecock ancestry.

On the lower level of the museum, one finds a permanent exhibit called My Spirit Dances Forever, which consists of a series of bronze sculptures done by western artist Dave McGary. These works of art are beautifully crafted and really capture the grace and dignity of the native people. I enjoyed these displays very much. Cheers!

"In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength."

~Isaiah 30:15