Thursday, March 27, 2008

Here and There

Last weekend, Carey and I took our daughters to see Wicked. Both of us had seen it before with our wives, but our two little thespians were begging to see it, so off to the Pantages we went. My daughter had prepped by watching The Wizard of Oz, listening to the Broadway Soundtrack and studying the liner notes; she's a really smart girl, but even I was surprised that she was able to not only follow along, but understand a lot of the little nuances in the story. They both really enjoyed the show, which delighted us dads. As a big treat the girls were able to take photos with and collect autographs from some of the main cast members, including John Rubenstein (the Wizard), Joanne Whorley, and the gals who played Elphaba and Nessa Rose. After the show, we had a wicked dinner at Roscoe's.

Dorene and I get a chance every now and then to spend a day together without the kids. When we do, we try new restaurants that we want to eat at, shop a bit, lounge around - pretty much all the things our kids don't have much tolerance for. It's funny, but when we're out and about, we'll talk about all the things our kids would be saying (think: whining) as we travel from place to place. Anyway, for our birthdays, and thanks to the Jeu's, we made our way up to the familiar but always delightful Pasadena (close to home, but enough to do for a day). Had meals at two hole-in-the wall diners that were featured in Jonathan Gold's Counter Intelligence column: Taquito Mexicana #2 just north of the 210, like being in madre's kitchen, and Pie and Burger on Lake and California, a diner that got stuck in the 50's, really. A big treat was finally seeing Juno (I know, sad, we don't get out much), a cute film which starts out a little cliched (which is part of the set-up), and ends up with a nice twist with surprising depth; bonus is a great soundtrack and closing song. BTW, another very good sweet/sad movie about reluctant motherhood is Waitress.

It's nice (and rare) meeting other pastors with similar DNA for their communities; I met Gideon Tsang through Pastor Ken Fong last year at the Q conference and we really clicked; got to hang out with him a bit this week; got to finally meet Eugene Cho briefly yesterday; both were speaking at Asian American Leadership Conference held here in Fullerton. I have a lot to learn from them. Check out their church's websites, great stuff:
vox veniae

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Let the Madness Begin...

My finals prediction, going with my heart on this one:
UCLA 63, Kansas 58

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Some New Things

I started reading a new book, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I love the dedication inside the front cover, to her husband; it rings with truth and fitting for a memoir...or a church for that matter:

"To John, for convincing me that everyone who is interesting has a past."

The other day on KCRW got a first real listen to Duffy, the latest breakout from the UK; sounds a lot like Amy Winehouse without the swagger. Because it's her debut, it's hard to determine if it's gimmicky or mostly production, or if she is in fact the real deal. But I liked what I heard.

Check out her SXSW/US debut last week:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Age of Innocence

Often parents can't wait for their children to outgrow one stage to get to another. For instance, "I can't wait until he's out of diapers," or "I can't wait until she starts preschool." Today, I'm sure there are also parents who moan, "I can't wait until they move out." But you get the point. My kids are still young, 10 and 8. And I can say that I have actually enjoyed my kids at every stage of their development.

So for the first time the other day I was thinking, "Boy, I wish they could stay this age forever." As I had that thought, I recalled mothers while I was growing up occasionally alluding to the loss of "their babies" when referring to their maturing kids. I didn't get it then, but I understand now. With my children, there is still an innocence to them, a naivete; they are yet unfamiliar with so much of the cynicism, crass, and seedy underbelly of the world; they certainly aren't angels, but there is still a sweetness to them.

That day I put on Pets Sounds and listened to "Caroline No," Brian Wilson's melancholy protest of disappointment of seeing a beautiful little girl growing up and inevitably changing, losing her "happy glow." It made me sad.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Got my KCRW premiums this week...still the best radio station in the world!

When I got home today, my son wanted to play baseball out back, so I pitched and he hit; then he wanted to play "pretend" baseball when we got inside, so we did that being silly; then he wanted to go upstairs to his room to play catch, so he sat on his bed and I sat on his chair and we threw a soft football back and forth. That made me very happy.

Earlier this evening, I visited Solidarity's youth photo exhibit at the Fullerton Museum near our offices. A handful of teens from the Garnet Neighborhood participated in a photography class, and this was the fruit of their love, their work on display and on sale to benefit the teen center; I was most impressed with the way each of the kids engaged with guests in such a grown up fashion, talking about their art and their experience with the process. Really nice.

Yesterday, after my annual visit with the Taxman in Long Beach, I stopped by Pick Up Stix to grab lunch. While I filling up my drink, I looked up at the wall next the soda fountain. The manager for the restaurant was KEVIN DO. Whoa! I have to admit, my initial reaction was "How did they know I was going to be here!" Weird.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Discovering Dillard

One of my favorite genres of literature is the memoir. My shelves are filled with the likes of Frederick Buechner, Henri Nouwen, Anne Lamott, Kathleen Norris, Carolyn Knapp, Lauren Winner, and Donald Miller. Somehow the unique experiences of individuals speak to the universal souls of others, especially when written with the depth, honesty, and humor of these authors. But I've never really read Annie Dillard; I've seen her quoted, and know of her work from a distance, but I've never actually sat down, opened one of her books, and let her words and world in - until now. And it's been a treat. If you're unfamiliar to her work as I am, Dillard writes with delicate yet forceful prose, almost like poetry; with precision, painfully describing the absurd, and noticing the spiritual in the natural. In a beautiful piece comparing her attendance at Catholic mass to an expedition to the Arctic Pole, she writes this:

"God does not demand that we give up our personal dignity, that we throw in our lot with random people, that we lose ourselves and turn from all that is not him. God needs nothing, asks nothing, and demands nothing, like the stars. It is a life with God that demands these things.

"Experience has taught the race that if knowledge of God is the end, then these habits of life are not the means but the condition in which the means operates. You do not have to do these; not at all. God does not, I regret to report, give a hoot. You do not have to do these things - unless you want to know God. They work on you, not on him.

"You do not have to sit outside in the dark. If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find the darkness is necessary. But the stars neither require it nor demand it." ("An Expedition to a Pole" from Teaching a Stone to Talk, p. 43.)

Mindful of our series on discipleship at Epic, these words cut deeply, yet gracefully. It is a call to our volition, to our wills. It is an unapologetic and unabashed call to choose.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Fullerton's Westside Story

In our desire to get further acquainted with the City of Fullerton and to be involved in it's civic life and culture, 25 of us from Epic enjoyed a spirited dinner at Angelo's and Vinci's (the sign proves it!). Among the many enthusiastic topics of discussion was the spiritual gifts seminar that many attended earlier in the afternoon. Greg and Esther dropped by for a nice surprise visit, as did Carlos and Jane who were attending a wedding reception at the restaurant at the same time. It was nice getting to spend time with folks I don't often hang out with at all or enough. After pizza and pasta, we walked over to the Plummer Auditorium to see the Fullerton Civic Light Opera's "Westside Story". Most of us were familiar with the Oscar-winning movie but had not seen it performed live on stage. There were limitations with light and sound due to the age of the theater, but the production was first rate. Thanks to Carey and Rick for planning our evening. It was nice to be out and about and enjoying the theater just steps from our church.

Could this be the sentiments of Epic being in the house?