Always ethereal, always eclectic, I write as the mood strikes, when there intrigue reveals itself. Usually that means something controversial or adventure of some sort.

I've tried really hard to be unprovocative, but have as yet been unsuccessful.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

The Story of the Tune Maker

I had the distinct pleasure of attending an advanced screening of the new Larry Norman documentary last night. Many others involved in the film project were there, including a guy who asked my name, and said it was familiar, wondering if we'd met. I said I was fairly ubiquitous on the internet, and he introduced himself as Randy, Randy Stonehill. It was the first time meeting him since he wrote some of the songs for our Lonesome Stone musical in Europe, when I was two. He was very impressed that I was now talking and walking.

As for the film- I was surprised that my dad actually had a brief scene, talking about the Jesus Movement in general. However, the film is still in a very rough cut, and has substantial editing to go, so I don't know if he will make the final cut. The film told the story of Larry Norman's music career, and how he'd intersected the careers of artists like Randy Stonehill and Daniel Amos/Swirling Eddies. I was rather surprised to see that Daniel Amos had been so involved with Larry Norman, as Daniel Amos is one of my favorite bands ever, and I'd had no idea they'd been involved with each other.

Indeed, one of the predominant feelings I came away from the film with was how incredibly influential Larry Norman had been on the world of Christian rock. Since his hey-day was before I was born till I was about five, I had heard his name before, but knew little of his music. Or thought that was the case. Turns out some Servant songs that I'd always thought had been written in-house were originally Larry Norman's! I had never realized until seeing this film the great debt that Christian music owes this one man.

There's a lot more to his music and his life, of course. I imagine the film will be fairly controversial. But you'll just have to wait to find out about that when the movie comes to a theatre near you in the next few months.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Sights and Sounds of Surf City

Oil rigs off the coast.

My dad's dog Sami

Monday, 16 June 2008

I'm White

I'm searching around for a church to attend while I'm down here in SoCal. The largest Quaker church in the world is nearby, in Yorba Linda, with 4,000 on any given Sunday. But they are so conservative they were started by the Nixon family, reject pacifism, and seem to have little that is Quakerly about them. The larger meeting, Southwest Yearly Meeting, may be too conservative for my tastes, being the most conservative of the Yearly Meetings in the area. I'd love to find something like Jeremiah Wright in the area, but have found difficulty in that, not in the least because Huntington Beach is way, way white.

I did however come across a highly recommended black church, Second Baptist, over in Santa Ana. The worship was excellent, and spirit-filled. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and felt at home. The parishioners were very welcoming, and the Spirit was moving in the midst of glorious worship. The only time I was uncomfortable was when I discovered they had roving cameras; I don't like being filmed. At one point I looked up at the two large screens behind the pulpit, and saw there was another white person there in the congregation. And he was very white.

It took me a few seconds to realize that it was me.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Coming Out?

Years ago, I stayed with an Assembly of God pastor in Michigan for a week, while I found a place to live in Dearborn. While there, hanging near a mosque (in the city with the highest concentration of Arabs and Muslims in North America), I blurted out, "Gay is good." To which he asked, "Are you gay." And I responded, "Yes."

Interesting story. Except none of it actually happened.

Sure, I stayed with the guy, but other than hanging out in front of the mosque, none of the rest of the conversation occurred. (I think I'd know if it had.) But I found out a year later that he was convinced that it had, and was telling people in the Evangelical community of my moral failings, and therefore I found it difficult to be involved in certain pursuits. When I confronted him on this mythical conversation, he was adamant that it had occurred, and further declared that he wouldn't want me being around his children, because I was gay.

It was to no avail that I and others pointed out that this would be a very strange conversation to have in front of a mosque, and that there was no reasonable segue for this conversation to have taken place. It took another six months after I found out to get the pastor to state he would no longer insist on the conversation. (He never admitted he'd made a mistake.) The most humorous part of the situation was that, though I think acts of homosexuality are immoral, I'm liberal, and so this was not a grave insult to me. I'd be far more insulted if he'd said I didn't love the poor well, or had attacked my commitment to justice towards people of colour. To be accused of being gay is not that serious, except for it keeping me from interacting with people because of the gossip.

That's the background I had when
I decided to try out for Extra work in Hollywood. I signed up earlier today at a local agency, and while there, I dropped my phone on the carpet, and bent to pick it up. Evidently that is the wrong thing to do in LA.

A guy who had sidled up next to me immediately got fidgety, because I had bent down to pick up my phone. Evidently he presumed that I was making a move on him, only his only comment initially was, "Don't play that." When is asked him what he was talking about, he wanted to make it clear that he wasn't gay and didn't want me to make any moves on him. After a few moments I was able to let him know that he hadn't noticed the dropped phone or my picking it up. However, I was shocked, at this level of homophobia. Maybe it's coming from Seattle, but I just don't run into this utter fear of homosexuality. And at a Hollywood studio, no less! But one would think that was the end of it.

But no. A few minutes after that, he goes to talk with his friend on the other side of the room, and for the next minute he's talking and pointing at me nearly continuously. Naturally, when someone is pointing at you, you look at them. This made him uncomfortable, however, evidently, as he didn't want me to look at him when he was pointing at me and talking about me. He yelled across the room to not look at him, and that he was very definitely not gay.

To the knowing smiles throughout the room, I thought to myself, "Yes, we all get it. You want us all to think you are not gay."

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

On the Road Again

At a conference I was at years ago, they spoke of how TCKs particularly enjoy On the Road Again. It speaks to our condition, and to the joy of being able to travel again, to move, to find a song that w can relate to. And I have often recognized this song speaking to me, on a deep guttural level, spontaneously breaking into song with other TCKs when we hear it on the radio.

It wasn't until my final day in Seattle that it hit me- I am leaving. I was leaving a book club, looking down over the city from the West Seattle hills, overlooking the bay and giant red cranes. It wasn't with a sadness or even melancholy. There isn't that much attachment to any one place. It was simply a realization, that Seattle was no longer my place, and I was going on to a different place.

It's only when you leave a place that you do everything that you always wanted to do. It wasn't until I left Southern California the first time that I went to Universal Studios, Knott's Berry Farm, and Sea World- all in one month. And it was only on leaving Seattle, on my last full day there, that I went to visit the Needle with Kent. And truly, there's really not much to see up there. But we were blessed with a rare clear day, and even a distant view of Mt. Hood. And one can't claim to live in Seattle for four years and never have been up the Needle.

As to where I'm going, and what I'm doing, I mentioned previously that, while in the Scablands, I was contemplating my future. In greater specificity, I was asking God for direction. And I felt him leading me to spend time with my dad in SoCal, and that God would give me the What Next once I got there- be it staying in SoCal with my dad, or Hawaii with my dad, or Mississippi, or Yemen. So I'm off.

The drive from Seattle to Portland (where I was treated to an excellent lunch by Steve & Julie), Portland to Ashland, where my mom packed a very tasty lunch, and then from Ashland to SoCal- this drive is long. Not much more can be said for it. Lots of listening to The Shadow radio dramas on my iPod as I went South. Other than that, ever since the Scablands, the radio has been on the fritz. I get only one channel in clearly, 88.1, and I get that channel in clearly, strangely, everywhere I go. It plays pleasant songs from yesteryear, mostly good folk and other types of 60s music, but with very little talk. No talk, in fact. I only realized that upon getting to SoCal, and realizing that I was hearing the exact same songs on that channel, in the same order. It turns out that channel is somehow set on the CD player in the trunk of the car, continuously playing that same CD.

Now I find myself in Surf City, USA- Huntington Beach to the land-bound, back to where I came from, living in SoCal for 8 years in college, and where my first memories began, when I was 4, and we lived in the Huntington Beach Apartments. (Nothing makes you feel old like finding a place where you once lived is now torn down.) And I am here, contemplating again, and listening, for that next step.
Last view of downtown Seattle, from the Needle.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Hanging with the PZ

Got to see the famous evolution blogger PZ Myers speak at the Seattle Center this evening. (Sorry, unlike The Discovery Institute, the Pacific Science Center doesn't allow for recording devices.) As with most of the people in the Intelligent Design/Evolution debate, they can come across pretty cantankerous online (and I include myself in this description), but up front and personal they are not only human, but rather likable. PZ Myers is a brilliant man, with a love of octopi and evolution, and I enjoy a lot of what he has to say on his blog. But I quit reading it after a while, as he also loves atheism and to insult religion, particularly Christianity.

Myers' topics were evolution and biology and blogging. He spoke with respectful disagreement about Randy Olson, director of Flock of Dodos, previously brought to the Seattle Science Center in part by my friend Adrian. Olson is a biologist and film-maker who supports evolution, but feels like evolutionists have truth but not finesse on their side. His film is about how they need to do a better job of publicity- and sadly, the ID crowd has great publicity but little truth. Myers disagrees with Olson, but in my opinion, he misunderstood Olson's point a bit. But still, Myers ended up applying some of Olson's points, as he advocated that scientists need to be positive and exciting and passionate. I particularly liked Myers focus on the beauty of science over anything else. Biology is beautiful. His words reminded me of some of the best I've read on the subject in The Reenchantment of Nature by Alister Mcgrath and The Diversity of Life by Edward O. Wilson. Myers also gave me some great ideas for new books, like The Sandwalk Adventures, where a mite living in Darwin's eyebrow has to be convinced that Darwin is not God, but rather that evolution created the mite.

I got a chance to ask a question about Governor Jindal, on the short list for the VP pick for McCain. I'm trying to get the word out about how horrible this choice would be, as he is a strong supporter of ID. He's the Bizarro Obama- a person of colour, of immigrant parents, and a convert to Christianity- he's just working for the other side. So I asked Myers about Jindal, if we should be concerned with him on a national ticket, in Myers' opinion, or if this is more of a state matter. I was hoping Myers would take the bait to wax more eloquent on Jindal, but his answer was short and sweet- Intelligent Design is a concern at every level of government. However, it looks like I may have had some level of inspiration- Myers later posted a post on other aspects of Jindal's personality that he finds distasteful. (He's too Christian.)

After the Q&A I went up to greet the man, sharing that I really respected his work, and that we'd had some short arguments on Panda's Thumb. These were over the same topic that Myers discussed this evening- I and others in the audience and blogosphere feel that Myers and Dawkins' focus on atheism above all else turns people off to accepting evolution, just as many Literal Creationists turn people off to Christianity because they make it seem as if only Literal Creationism can be accepted if you're a Christian. Myers feels that religion is so dangerous, so evil, that it needs to be stopped, and this is more important than stopping evolution. I feel he doesn't give evolution enough respect, and, to use his words, evolution is far more beautiful than the philosophical negation of religion.