March 24, 2012

The Greatest Show On Earth

A few months ago, I received an online code that offered circus tickets at the bargain price of only $15 and I decided that I wouldn't pass it up. On Wednesday evening, I went to Nassau Coliseum to see Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey's latest production called "Dragons." With popcorn and iced tea in hand, I took my seat in Row A of Section 303 to watch the pre-show events transpiring on the floor below--a sea of children smiling and interacting with acrobats, jugglers, and clowns. It was nice to see.

As 7:30 neared, the floor was cleared, the lights were dimmed, and then the audience found out exactly why the circus is still billed as "The Greatest Show On Earth." In this panoply, the Year of the Dragon is being celebrated with flying trapeze, martial arts stunts, visually-stunning high wire acts, women suspended by their hair spinning on ropes above the crowd, and motorcycles weaving at top speeds in the "Globe of Steel." There are animal acts that feature lions, tigers, horses, dogs, elephants, and one giant golden dragon that appears amid a billowing cloud of smoke. I was amazed at the choreography of the whole thing and the vibe was rocking!

"For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed,
a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written:
'The righteous will live by faith.'"

~Romans 1:17


March 20, 2012

Who's That Cat?

On Sunday, I was given the task of coordinating and hosting a birthday party that would be attended by a group of 3rd graders. In this era of parents spending $350+ for an impersonal event at a place like Chuck E. Cheeses, I had the added challenge of putting it all together on a very limited budget. Once I had gotten a few pizzas, a cake from Baskin Robbins, a basket of party favors from the dollar store, and balloons, the rest of it was going to require some creativity. How does one sustain three hours of playful fun?

After searching online, I was able to come up with several ideas that the kids really enjoyed. Among them: a Scavenger Hunt, Pass the Pizza (a variation on the classic Hot Potato), Balloon Stomp, and Pirate Charades, though the very best was a game called "Who's That Cat?" This required the kids to identify pictures of some famous felines. It was a fun thing to put together and even more fun to watch, though I was a little bit disappointed to find out that no one was familiar with Calvin's beloved companion, Hobbes. The party was a colossal success and everyone had a great time, including me. So, how many of these famous cats can you name?

"Better a poor man whose walk is blameless
than a fool whose lips are perverse."

~Proverbs 19:1


March 17, 2012


Happy St. Patrick's Day! While I can't claim to be Irish, I admit that I love to join in on this day's festivities. Every year, I look forward to having that delicious meal of corned beef, cabbage, and soda bread. Back when I was in High School, I bought a CD of traditional Irish folk songs called "Celtic Magic" and I have played it on St. Patty's Day ever since. It sets the right mood for the feast.

Last Sunday, I drove over to Huntington Village for their annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. I heard that it fills up fast, so I arrived there an hour early, but still had to park the car very far from the parade route. When I finally walked over to the main part of the village, I found the sidewalks already packed with people. There was a really fun vibration running through the streets; green clothes and Leprechaun hats were everywhere. I saw many faces painted with shamrocks. The sunny skies were ideal for this great atmosphere.

After about a half hour of waiting, the procession rounded the corner and I quickly found out why this is such a popular event. There were marching bands, bagpipers, uniformed men and women of the armed forces, firefighters, dancing troupes, Cub Scouts and Brownies, antique automobiles, motorcycles, costumed characters handing out candy, ballooned floats. Everything that I would ask for in a parade. I sat on the curb for 2 hours, watching as this colorful cavalcade passed before my eyes. It was amazing!

"Do not lie to each other,
since you have taken off your old self
with its practices and have put on the new self,
which is being renewed in knowledge
in the image of its Creator."

~Colossians 3:9-10


March 13, 2012

And So It Begins...

With warm weather, a new era arrives.

The meteorologist forecast this week to be a series of sunny days with temperatures that will range between the 60s and 70s and so far that prediction has been correct. While I have been enjoying the fact that I can go outside without a jacket, it is the appearance of the first crocus and daffodil blossoms on the lawn that I'm taking as my cue to commence yard work -- raking, pruning, weeding, edging, fertilizing, seeding, mulching, etc. It's always a big job and I would normally wait until sometime in mid-April to start the process, but the arrival of the spring season this year is extra special. It marks my undertaking of the last phase in the raising of the Avant Garden Poetry Amphitheatre. After a year of planning, I'm so excited to see this vision finally taking shape. The performance shell will be constructed within the month. More to come. Cheers!

"Therefore being justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
By whom also we have access by faith into this grace
wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also:
knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God
is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost
which is given unto us."

~Romans 5:1-5


March 10, 2012

Long Island Pets & Poems

Last Sunday morning, I took a drive over to Suffolk Community College where the Long Island Pet Expo was being held. Set in the gymnasium, this event featured aisles and aisles of vendors, rescues and adoptions, petting zoos, and performance areas. As I took my time walking through the various booths, quite a few interesting animals caught my eye. The beautiful, vivid plumage of a Blue Macaw instantly brought to mind scenes from the Dreamworks movie "Rio." At the next stall, a Newfoundland dog sat looking like somewhat of a canine bear, his eyes gentle and sweet, his fur fluffy. His disposition was so wonderful that I just wanted to wrap my arms around him and give him a big hug. Another very docile creature that I met was the alpaca. He was sitting so calm and still that I wasn't sure at first if he was an actual living animal. It was only after I began petting him on his soft muzzle that he finally turned and looked at me with his huge, round eyes. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Dog Arena featured several performances in speed and agility. I took a seat on the bleachers with my camera at the ready, however, photographing a dog in action is rather like trying to take a picture of lightning. When my finger would finally hit the shutter, the action had already passed.

My favorite part of the Pet Expo was a booth called the "Reptile Rainforest." This spot featured giant frogs, turtles, lizards, snakes, tarantulas, glow-in-the-dark scorpions, and even a very rare albino alligator. This white gator named "Creole" is one of only 30 in the entire world.

To finish off my Sunday afternoon, I headed over to the Walt Whitman Birthplace for the second engagement in the "Walking with Whitman" series. This was a very well-attended event that featured poets Brendan Constantine, Daniela Gioseffi, and Quincy Troupe (accompanied by guitarist Kelvyn Bell who played some excellent jazz and blues). I'll conclude this post with the best quote of the day. It came from Mr. Constantine, who said, "I told my father, 'When I grow up I want to be a poet.' He replied, 'You can't have it both ways.'"

"Jesus replied:
'Love the Lord your God
with all your heart
and with all your soul
and with all your mind.'"

~Matthew 22:37