Sunday, October 14, 2012

Autumn


If your family is anything like mine, you have learned more than you ever thought you would about the eating habits of giraffes.

Autumn, the Greenville Zoo’s female giraffe, is pregnant and due any day now, and thanks to a webcam, we can observe Autumn 24 hours a day. My kids love Autumn. My daughter has instructed me that if I see Autumn starting to deliver her baby during the school day, I am to call the school and get a message to her class immediately.
In the meantime, Autumn eats. And stands in her stall. And eats. And eats. And stands. And eats.

It’s oddly compelling. We’re waiting for Autumn to deliver a baby giraffe into the world.  But to look at her, you’d hardly know she was pregnant. But we wait. And we watch.

It’s strange how invested we can become in the life of a giraffe. But it’s not just our family. My wife chats about the giraffe-cam with coworkers. A recent report indicated that some 200,000 viewers across the world have tuned in to the webcam. There’s just something about Autumn.

Meanwhile, it is autumn. The days are cooling, the leaves are dropping, and you can get just about anything in a pumpkin spice flavor. My kids complain that it’s too cold, but I love it. I can’t wait to put on sweaters and jackets and have even more of an excuse to drink hot coffee all day long.

But not yet. It’s not really cold enough for scarves. And the leaves aren’t really pretty enough to justify a drive to the mountains. And Autumn the giraffe is still just eating.

So we wait. We wait for the change of season to really kick in. We wait for the leaves to turn those glorious colors. We wait for the baby giraffe to arrive. We wait. And we wait. And we wait.

When you think about it, don’t we spend an awful lot of our lives waiting? We’re forever waiting for things to turn around, waiting for the right person to come along, waiting for a sign. From God. Am I doing the right thing? Have I made the right choice? Am I doing what God wants me to do? When will I know?

The waiting is the hardest part.

Whether it’s waiting for a new baby to arrive or waiting for the weather to change, the waiting is hard.

But we can still enjoy it. For every day is a gift. Every meal is a gift. Every pumpkin spice latte, every zoo webcam, every single leaf that falls onto my lawn and has to be raked. They’re all gifts, whether we recognize them or not.

So today, choose to recognize the gifts. The simple, tiny everyday gifts. A smile from a friend. A sweater that you bought on sale last year. A leaf that, yes, has to be raked and isn’t even a deep pretty red color yet, but is, by itself, an ancient symbol of happiness and a reminder of the miracle that is life on this planet.

We are surrounded, every day, every minute, with abundant reminders of the preciousness of life and the uncountable gifts with which God has blessed us.

So recognize them. Thank God for them.

We are all busy and we are all distracted and we are all waiting for the next big thing – whether it’s a new job or a baby giraffe. 

We’re all waiting. So why not try our best to enjoy the wait.

Thank you, God.

Friday, September 21, 2012

My New Book - "Growing Greenville for 50 Years"

I wrote a book.
It's called "Growing Greenville for 50 Years: A Celebration of Greenville Technical College 1962-2012."

Produced for the college's 50th anniversary, the book was released last night at a celebratory gala. I am co-author, having written many of the chapters and helped arrange the overall flow.

It was a fun project to work on and I'm proud of the result - it's a great looking book. And I learned a lot about the huge effect Greenville Tech has had - and continues to have - on the community.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Marathon

Here's a short story I wrote a couple of years ago. It was published on an internet magazine called PowFastFlashFiction which has now vanished from the internets.

So now, in honor of both the Olympics and the release of my friend Lara Zielin's new novel, The Waiting Sky, here's a short story titled Marathon.


She can see the finish line. A gleaming strip of yellow, just like the tape the cops attached across her shattered front porch. But no words to mar the color this time. Just yellow, a bright band of yellow crossing her vision, getting closer with every step.

She concentrates on breathing. Slow. In. Out. Not fast, not anxious. Purposeful. Steady. Just like when she huddled in the corner of the apartment, watching, trying not to breathe, trying not to make a sound, trying to become invisible.

Closer. She can feel the sweat of the other runners, their moisture, the sound of their feet pounding the ground, even though she knows the closest is still hundreds of yards behind. She can sense their presence, just like she still feels the wind, so long ago yet still so close. So loud. Like a train. A rumble. A howl. The wind, the shattered glass, the birthday cake sliding onto the floor.

She shudders. Stumbles. Wipes the stinging sweat from her eyes. Concentrate on the yellow. Concentrate on the cake. On the door bursting open and the howling wind and the flying debris and then the stillness, the eerie silence, and later, so much later, the hands, so many hands, whisking her away and that last glance of her mother, still on the floor, forever on the floor.

She sees the tape, the yellow tape, but now it’s too high, it’s not right, and she recognizes the feel of the pavement on her legs, on her chest, and she looks up and she can’t move and she wills her legs to move but she remains, shivering, watching the tape and another pair of shoes rushing past and the fluttering ends of the tape and she closes her eyes and tries to forget.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

King of the Geeks

May 25. Geek Pride Day.

Trolling about the internets, as I am wont to do, I came across a notice from Think Geek. A contest.

Here was their preface:


It's not like we need an excuse to wear our Geek Pride on our sleeves, but May 25th is especially auspicious because it's also:
  • Towel Day, the day two weeks after Douglas Adams passed in 2001, when hoopy froods keep their towel handy;
  • The anniversary of the first Star Wars film, Episode IV: A New Hope,released on May 25, 1977;
  • Glorious 25 May, the day in Terry Pratchett's Discworld when wearing lilac and hard-boiled eggs (and raising awareness around Alzheimer's research) is appropriate; and
  • 5 + 25 + 12 = 42. Enough said.
The contest was this - take a photo of yourself, showing your Geek Pride and wearing their Geek Pride Button. Send it to Think Geek. They'd select a winner to receive a prize package.

So I outfitted myself appropriately and had The Boy snap a photo.

Han Solo holster/blaster. Doctor Who coat (purchased from Think Geek). Doctor Who scarf. Star Trek shirt. Towel. Egg.

I won.

Today, the loot arrived.
 Two boxes?!
 Let's take them inside.

 And open 'em up.


 A T-shirt bearing the number 42, a towel, and a Jedi cloak bathrobe. Sweet!
 So what about the other box?



 A tauntaun sleeping bag!
 It really is an amazing product. Soft, furry - dare I say cuddly? - on the outside, silky smooth - with entrail patterns - on the inside.
But wait! There's more...
Light saber candlesticks. I didn't know what to expect of these. I thought they'd be smaller. And plastic-y. But they are solid and large and metal and awesome.

Thank you, Think Geek!





Thursday, May 17, 2012

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

There's going to be a 3 CD deluxe edition of what is probably my all-time favorite film score, Jerry Goldsmith's masterpiece, Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Here's an article I wrote about it: http://www.examiner.com/article/lalaland-records-to-release-expanded-star-trek-the-motion-picture-soundtrack

And here is a video I did in honor of it. It's a recording of the regrettable lyrics for Ilia's Theme, the Love Theme from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Connections


I ducked into the empty donut shop.
“Two double chocolates,” I said, slipping off my wet coat. “And two coffees. Black.”
From behind the counter, she smiled.
“Two?” she asked. “Who’s the second one for?”
I slid onto my favorite stool.
“You.”


I saw this challenge to create a 42 word short story about the meaning of life, and this is what I came up with. Oh, and, by the way, I won the challenge.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Love Theme from This Week in Science

One of the first podcasts I discovered, many years ago now, was This Week in Science. Originating from UC Davis, the radio show/podcast features Dr. Kiki and Justin Jackson delivering science news and opinion in a fun, freewheeling, conversational style. I always enjoyed listening to it and hearing the latest news of World Robot Domination and mind-controlling toxoplasma gondii and Justin's weekly Disclaimers and their signature sign off - "Remember, if you learned anything from today's show, it's all in your head."

For a couple of years, TWiS put together CDs of original science-themed music to act as a fund raiser. The last one they did featured the World Robot Domination song I wrote (and my brother performed and produced). The year before that, I contributed another song, again one I wrote and my brother produced and performed. It was intended to be a Theme Song for This Week in Science and the hosts began playing it at the close of every episode, which made me very proud.

It was inspired by Dr. Kiki's mention on the show that they didn't have an original theme song. So I decided to write one. The lyrics and tune came to me pretty quickly. I sketched it out then sang it, a cappella, to my brother, who ran with it and made it one hundred percent more awesome.

I still REALLY like the song. I think it's fun to listen to and features lyrics that will mostly reward other long time TWiS listeners.

Here it is. I hope you enjoy it.

Here's my own personal disclaimer. As I wrote it, I heard Danny Elfman singing it in my head and the mighty horns and percussion and guitars of Oingo Boingo performing it.

Friday, April 6, 2012

My new coat

So, um, I got a new coat.

It's totally the wrong season to be purchasing an overcoat, but I couldn't wait.

And I love it.

In fact, I wrote an article about my new coat.

Is it winter yet?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Song For You

I wrote a song. About donuts.

Here's our first mix.


That's me on vocals and ukulele. My brother mixed it all together and added stuff.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Monday, January 30, 2012

Life is a Cabaret

Here's my review of a terrific new production of Cabaret.