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Well, it’s almost time. Today was the last Sunday of the liturgical year. Thursday we will celebrate Thanksgiving Day and then next Sunday, will be the first Sunday of Advent. So, it is time to put together a list of seasonally appropriate music.
As a good Episcopalian, that does not mean Christmas songs, and particularly does not mean songs about Grandma getting run over by Reindeer, and other such songs. We are entering the season of Advent.
So, I looked in the 1982 Hymnal for a list of Advent Hymns. There are fourteen in that category, although I’m sure there are other hymns that are appropriate for Advent.
I went out and searched Spotify to see how many of them I could find there. I found eight. As I started playing through them, I found that two of them were on albums of Advent music, so I added the eight hymns and two albums into an Advent Playlist.
I will continue to seek other music to add to this list. Let me know if you have any recommendations.
All you sinners stand up, sing hallelujah (hallelujah!)
Show praise with your body
Stand up, sing hallelujah (hallelujah!)
The music from Panic! At The Disco blares in the Connecticut Convention Center. My wife, who is still recovering from sinus surgery couldn’t take our daughter to the concert, so I am here instead. My phone is almost dead as is my daughter’s, so I’ve turned them off and they are in my pocket.
We’ve agreed at where we should meet after the concert. As we stood in line, we started talking with a mother and daughter in front us. The other girl is tall and two years older than my daughter. They have both come without friends trusting in that special sisterhood of Panic! At The Disco fans. They are excited and eager to rush to the front of the giant mosh pit. They are also probably hoping to shed their parents, parents cool enough to take them to a Panic! At The Disco concert, but not cool enough to view this night as the most important night of their lives.
We agree that the two girls can rush forward and the two parents will stay towards the back, out of the crowd.
We learn that the girls have gotten separated in the rush. The mother feels responsible and frequently texts here daughter. I try to assure her that our daughters will be fine. We take turns trying to make our way through the crowd to find our daughter, to no avail.
There are three hours of warmup bands, and part way through some girls help another girl out of the crowd. She collapses at the table next to where we are sitting. Other parents are talking about low blood sugar or maybe dehydration. Medics arrive and help the girl out of the venue. I’m wondering if it is really Molly.
I am worried about my daughter. She has her own health problems and I’m not sure how well she can stand for four hours in a crowd. I make a few more trips to try and find her, but the crowd has grown larger and thicker.
I turn on my cellphone briefly in case someone has been trying to get in touch with me. The only messages I see are about the attacks in Paris, at a crowded music venue, not that much different than where I am at. It heightens my anxiety, but I don’t mention it to the mother of the girl who was going to be hanging out with my daughter. I worry that she has enough anxiety, with her frequent texting, and this might compound it.
Most of the warm up bands aren’t all that exciting, but finally Panic! At The Disco takes the stage. The atmosphere is electric. I feel sure that my daughter is enjoying herself now, and that the long wait standing in the large crowd will have been worth it. The lights are done incredibly well, and thousands of fans hold up cellphones to capture moments of this wonderful experience.
I wonder if the band knows about what has happened in Paris, and if they do, if they will say anything about it. The play one of their better known songs, “Let’s Kill Tonight”.
Let's kill tonight!
Show them all you're not the ordinary type …
May your feet serve you well
And the rest be sent to Hell
Where they always have belonged
Are there others struck by these words on this night?
On the ride home, my daughter is ecstatic. It has been a wonderful night. She is very sore and thirty. We stop and get her a large bottle of water, we talk a little bit about the concert and what happened in Paris.
It is now Saturday morning. My daughter is still asleep and I am reading the news. A friend is in Paris and has checked in as being safe. Mixed with all of this are more discussions about freedom of speech and political correctness. The idea of replacing ‘political correctness’ with ‘treating people with respect’ comes back to mind as I read Terry Cowgill’s Op-Ed At Wesleyan, A Shocking Disrespect For Free Speech
“Even by the hypersensitive standards of political correctness that dominate the academy…”
“Even by the hypersensitive standards of treating people with respect that dominate the academy…”
Terry seems upset that people used freedom of speech to express displeasure with criticize a newspaper. I comment,
Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, as long as the people speaking say things you agree with. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, as long as no one uses it to criticize a news organization or suggest the organizations funding be cut. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, as long as no one uses that speech to point out that you say things that hurt other people or that you're racist. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, as long as long as it doesn't injure your white fragility.
Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, and I’m glad that people like Terry Cowgill and his supporters, as well as those criticizing hurtful, racist, Islamophobic speech shoot off their mouths, and not the music venue.
Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, when it asks people to pray for Paris and when it asks people to pray for Beirut whose bombings on Thursday have gotten much less attention in the western media.
Yet in all of this, the beginning of Panic! At The Disco’s song Hallelujah remains
A moment you'll never remember
And a night you'll never forget!
If you have friends that rescue animals, especially those that work for no-kill shelters, you know that they are some of the best people in the world. They are passionate about what they do. They can also be impractical and more than a little bit crazy. If you don’t know animal rescuers, you owe it to yourself to get to know some.
The play, St. Francis written by and starring Miranda Jonte, captures that passion and madness beautifully. As I watched Tessa, the owner of a threatened no-kill rescue, rant on stage, at times covered with blood from animals she was trying to save, I saw the characteristics of so many great rescuers I have known.
Likewise, Meghan Rose Tonery does a wonderful job of capturing the bubbly energetic volunteer at a rescue in the role of Molly Mattie. Tessa will do anything for Molly. Perhaps it is because she sees in Molly her better self, before she became so jaded and run down by the animal rescue business. Perhaps there is something about Molly that doesn’t get revealed as they talk about selling their eggs.
John Whitney, likewise puts on a solid performance as a returned old flame, another reminder of Tessa’s past before things all got so complicated and John Moss and Frank Mayers round out the cast nicely.
The play captures so much language of rescues from failed fosters to spayed bitches.
Do yourself a favor, go see this play. If you don’t already have a companion animal, visit a shelter and find one. If you’re really inspired, go out and support a shelter or animal sanctuary like Locket’s Meadow
The hidden gem of the 2015 New York Fringe Festival just may be the blue sapphire from the Happy Prince that the sparrow gave to the struggling writer in Wilde Tales. Wilde Tales is three fairy tales by Oscar Wilde, carefully crafted together and masterfully executed by six actors. There is great ensemble work and wonderful use of puppets.
These are simple fairy tales, well done. They talk about reluctant sacrificial love, unrequited, scorned love, and forbidden love gone astray. One can easily imagine Oscar Wilde drawing from his own experiences, as well as members of the cast drawing from their own experiences.
A reference early on in the play to the lotus flower made me think this play would pair well with The Broken Record. The angst of The Broken Record seems to go hand in glove with the joy of Wilde Tales.
Do not go to this play expecting intricate plot twists exploring hard to fathom details of the human condition presented through nuanced performances of highly complicated characters. Instead, go expecting simple stories of love tinged with sadness that will uplift your heart.