I was sick most of last week. Been sleeping a lot, drinking a lot of tea. Yet it was pretty busy.
Thursday we performed a cutting from the Cabaret for the Music for Peace and Justice series at The Church of the Reconcilier. This is a church that's aimed at the city's homeless. I saw the preacher in action, putting his well-dressed arm around an unbathed homeless guy. That's a Christianity that Jesus would recognise. It must take such strength to work at such a church; I could never do it.
(I was way too low-energy in the show. Sure, I was sick, but a pro wouldn't let it show. A lesson has been learned-if you're performing sick, aim to fool everyone into thinking you're in perfect health.)
Speaking of churches, I recently found out that the church in which I grew up, Signal Mountain Presbyterian, has voted to leave the Presbyterian, uh, syndicate, because they're getting "too liberal" on stuff like homosexual preachers, Trinitarian theology, etc. Hmm. I have a friend who was a church secretary for a while, and he tells me that his liberal Southern Baptist church decided not to leave the increasingly conservative Southern Baptist Convention because that way they have a chance to get on the floor and be heard. Better to be a loud minority opinion than an absent one. According to the handed-down account I got, Reverend Dudley, the Pastor of Signal Mountain Pres., had a similar point of view and wanted to keep the church in the PCUSA, but the church packed him off on a sabbatical so they could hold a vote without openly humiliating him. Poor Reverend Dudley. He and I may not agree on homosexual ordination and such, but he's one of the good guys; a voice of compassion who's really been trying to make a difference in a very comfortable, very white community. He was a good pastor to me and I hope he's able to discourage the church from ousting him and replacing him with Fred Phelps. Obviously I'm joking; Fred Phelps isn't polite and well-groomed enough for WhiteTight&Polite Signal Mountain.
When I was a college boy I wound up involved in a big church concert in which I had to give a closing benediction. I'm not sure how it happened. Anyway, there were two performances on two nights. On the first night in my Benediction I asked that we share Christ's words with all people, and proceeded to list some of those types of people, like rich and poor, old and young, etc. And being a college boy I threw in heterosexual and homosexual, just to show 'em. You go, teenage Aaron! STICKIT TO DA MAN! Well, some people acted like I'd pooped on the Bible and wiped with the communion elements. Reverend Dudley was very nice about it, and some people understood that I was only saying we should share Christianity with homosexuals, not commenting on the rightness or wrongness of homosexual activity. But I was instructed not to repeat my little stunt on the second night of the performance... and I didn't. You go, Aaron! KNEEL BEFORE DA MAN! I was cheered up considerably by the guy they'd hired to conduct the orchestra for this concert, though; we met briefly before the show and, upon learning that I wasn't to mention those dreadful homos again, stated "I wonder what they'd think if they knew their conductor was one?" I wonder indeed.
Okay, anyway, this weekend I did crawl outside to see two shows; The Children's Hour at Birmingham Festival and Guys and Dolls from Centerstage. I enjoyed both but don't have any insights, except to point out that Valerie Lemmons and Leah Luker, who play the female leads in Guys and Dolls, are two of the great talents in Birmingham Theatre, and woefully under appreciated. KNEEL BEFORE THE DIVAS. As for Children's Hour, it's still running, so go see it for yourself.
Finally, I got a couple of movies from Netflix this weekend: Zu Warriors and The Magnificent Ambersons. The former is a CGI-laden kung-fu fantasy that I would have creamed over as a boy, but which bores me to tears now. It's odd how CGI from a few years ago looks more dated than A Trip To The Moon. Director Tsui Hark has a rep even among the most snooty film buffs for artful kung fu drama, bursting with dynamic choreography; action as dance. I like that kind of stuff, but there's a big difference between having extraordinary acrobats doing extraordinary acrobatics (supposedly Hark's usual modus) or using a few mouse clicks to blatantly fake extraordinary acrobatics. Plus the story is such little-boy stuff; it's heartening to discover that my nerdiness has its limitations. Although if someone makes a movie titled Zoo Warriors featuring CGI giraffes and llamas kickboxing each other, I'd totally watch that.
As for the Magnificent Ambersons-surprise! It's not the old Orson Welles movie, which apparently ain't available on DVD, but a recent for-TV remake. So far it's pretty Masterpiece Theatre; well done on many levels, a bit polite and pasteurized for my tastes. It has some lovely elements but can't match the peculiar richness of Orson's mise en scene, which blazed with hothouse theatricality without seeming over the top.