Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Off The Starboard Bow!

Christmas is coming. (I suppose that's a phrase you can utter 364 days of the year.) But with the advent of Christmas, Lost And Found plays a few Christmas Concerts each year, and this year was no exception. You'll recall (or will read below) that our first weekend took us out to Seattle for just one concert. We made up for the shortage of concerts that weekend by extending the weekend this week. (We're very pro-labor in this little band, it seems. Of course, a longer weekend doesn't mean a shorter work week if you only work on weekends. Perhaps we need to lobby for a longer work week and a shorter weekend. We are so out of step sometimes.)

Enough blabbering. We began the weekend on Tuesday, by playing a Christmas show at The Life Church, in Westbury, NY. This show was different from the first show, and the line-up included Lost And Found (duh), Famous Actor Justin Vetrano, The Amazin' Jazon, and Agape Dave Scherer. We had a tremendous turnout, and a really great show. Famous Actor Justin Vetrano had recently been doing some renovations on the building, and put all his tools away in time to welcome the crowd. As you can see in this photo, the folks at The Life have a real knack for squeezing people into small spaces.

The next morning, Agape flew home, and the rest of us headed out to Long Island. Or, that is, further out on Long Island. We played at the aptly named St. James Church in St. James. This show was different from the previous two shows, in that it was just Lost And Found and Famous Actor Justin Vetrano. Had a great time and saw lots of long-time friends. Then I dropped Michael off at Justin's house and drove back to The City.

The next day, being Thursday, our weekend continued, and the three of us met up at LaGuardia to fly to St. Louis, which we did. Troy and the Amazin' Jazon met us in St. Louis, and off we went to regroup for the morning. On Friday, we set up early and played a small version of the show for the local school at the church where we played that night. Famous Actor Justin Vetrano added a new character to the lineup, which was great fun. (And I learned the valuable lesson that kids pay attention to anyone who throws candy at them while talking. In this way, children are like seals and dolphins. But not in many other ways.)

That evening's Christmas Show was different from the three previous Christmas Shows in that the lineup included us, Famous Actor Justin Vetrano, the Amazin' Jazon, and our pals, Alathea, who were awesome as always. Lots of people came to the show, and the group from Waterloo, IL did their famous rap, broken foot and all. It's always entertaining to travel with someone who brings along costumes, and in the afternoon, we spent some time having a Christmas Character Fashion Show.

After the nightly dose of the Amazin' Jazon's pasta preparations, it was time to bust up the group. In the morning, everyone left except for Troy and us, and we headed west into Deep Missouri.

We ended our westward trek in Columbia, and we were happy to arrive. This show was different from the four previous Christmas Shows in that it wasn't a Christmas Show at all. Just a Lost And Found concert. Our friend Jamie provided a great room to play in, and we had a very interesting concert. I can't remember how it came about, but for some reason we told people to text their song requests to us. It became as much a social experiment as concert, since all sorts of new considerations came into play (anonymity of texters, and the judge's secrecy to ignore the unwanted ones). Maybe I'll write a doctoral thesis on the evening. Or maybe I'll just drink another cup of coffee.

Then the three of us made the long journey back to St. Louis. In the morning, Michael drove off toward Chicago, and Troy and I flew home to our respective homes, at which we all arrived safely. Though I did have the experience of landing at LaGuarida on the over-water approach and hearing the "wind sheer" alert coming from the cockpit. That will get your blood pumping, as they say. (Which is not to say it is a human heart. I just mean it upped the adrenilyne level in the cabin.)

Anyway, now we're all home. Or somewhere like it. I've got to get to packing to fly out to meet my family. (But, shhh, don't tell the cat. He gets a little vocal when he senses everyone's leaving him.) I thought I would leave you with a couple pictures to show you how we get our Christmas trees in New York. It's probably a little different in your neighborhood, but we use a lot less lights.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It Never Rains in Seattle

Have you ever met anyone from Seattle? If so, you probably noticed they had moss growing on them. Of course, I jest. As everyone from Seattle knows, it never rains there. It only rains when we're there . . . and we only go a couple times a year. Like this past weekend for instance. And even this weekend, it didn't rain the whole time we were there; some of the time we were there, it snowed instead.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Thursday night, I went out to Lawn Guy Land and stayed with Famous Actor, Justin Vetrano. He and I got up before God and headed for the airport. It had been raining for about 48 hours in New York, so my sneakers were completely soaked when I got on the plane to Seattle (which, of course, was perfect). Justin and I flew to Seattle, where Michael was waiting for us, having got up before God in the Pacific time zone, 3 hours after God got up on the east coast. (I'm assuming God has to get up in every time zone.) Then, with Michael, Justin, God and I all awake and ready, we met up with our friends Gretchen and Rachel, and headed off in search of food and coffee. Finding those, we headed to the church, for the first installment of the 10th annual Lost And Found Christmas Show.

As it turns out, we got there really early. So Justin dug around in the sacristy and found a costume that he tried on. He's thinking of maybe doing a monologue from the point of view of the Christmas Squirrel, but I told him I'm not so sure that's really in the Bible.

Not to be outdone, Michael thought he might do a brief presentation of the Christmas story from the point of view of the guy who worked in the restaurant where Mary and Joseph stopped on their way to Bethlehem.

Anyway, after all the shenanigans, we did in fact play a Christmas concert. And it went well, as a matter of fact. But beforehand, there was the little matter of drying off the keyboard.

I'm not saying it rains in Seattle, believe me. I mean, we all know that's just a myth. The keyboard got soaked in the five-foot trek from the car, but that doesn't necessarily mean it was raining. There could have been llamas in the parking lot for all you know, right?

Anyway, as I was saying, the concert was great. Justin was great. Rachel was great. Gretchen's opening band was really great. And all the people who braved the not-rain snow were beyond great.

Afterward, we packed it all up, and headed for a hotel near the airport, from which we all flew home to our respective towns where it was not raining. The next day, at my field parish, I knocked all four huge candles off the Advent wreath, and made a very noisy room go absolutely silent. I resisted the temptation to throw my fist in the air and yell "STRIKE!!!" (Mainly, because no one in New York City would get that it was a bowling reference, baseball fans that they all are.)

Oh, I almost forgot. If you have been to a concert in the past few months and we played "Slide Girl," there is probably a recording of it, which you can get for free by e-mailing

Monday, December 8, 2008

Oh, Canada!

So, hey, you ever been to Canada? If you're like me, the answer is, "Of course I have, since I grew up in Niagara Falls, NY, and Canada was 'Our Neighbor to the West'." If you're not like me, you're probably right handed and were born in the spring.

Anyway, the thing about about Canada is, they have the best candy bars. You know why that is? Well, it has to do with root-word origin. But among the many interesting things about Canada is how they take classic American products and improve on them by replacing the letters "SP" with the letter "K." You can see an example in the photo here:

Plus, in Canada, they have a real knack for giving things a name that tells you all you need to know about the item. (Think, for example, "hoodies," "dualies," "parkade," etc.) You can also see this in the name of foods. Like, for example, in this picture:

Whoever Mr. Noodles is, he couldn't have gone into a more appropriate profession, eh?

And, as you probably know, everything in Canada is written in both English and French. I have heard that this is to appease Quebec, so that they don't succeed. But sometimes the French word for an item makes it sound completely unappetizing. Take, for instance, the apparent French word for "root beer."

Don't think I'll be partaking of any of that anytime soon, thanks all the same, Piere.

So, what's with all this discourse on Canada? Glad you asked. What is with it all is that we went there over the weekend. As I noted above, Michael and I visited Canada quite a bit while growing up, and we are still pleased to go there, now that we are no longer growing up. This past weekend, we flew to Toronto (pronounced: toe-RAWN-toe), to play at our first ever Youth Specialties National YouthWorkers Convention, Canada-style. Quite a lot of fun was had by us. But, man, do the Canadians ever keep it cold up there. In our hotel room, I had to wear a hoodie, just to keep warm. Checking the thermostat, I figured out the problem.

I don't care if you are from the True North, strong and relatively inexpensive, that kind of temperature indoors is simply unacceptable. I mean, you'd think the pipes would burst if that's as warm as it gets inside.

Nonetheless, it didn't feel that cold, and we soldiered on with candy bars and hoodies.

Our hapless Buffalo Bills came to town the day we left so they could lose to the Miami Dolphins in Canada. (I don't want to talk about it.) But we flew out well before dawn on Sunday morning so that we could get to Baltimore and drive over the Severna Park, MD. (Sounds like a doctor's name, doesn't it? Our family pediatrician: Saverna Park, MD.) We were headed there to play at the 50th anniversary party of Our Shepherd Lutheran Church . . . which we did successfully. Had a nice time, enjoyed some ice cream afterward, and then drove on up to New York to stay at my place. The drive only lasted about 4 hours, but the level of difficulty was quite high, and we struggled mightily to stay awake. Then, this morning, Michael flew home to Los Angeles, and I put on my robey things and led Morning Prayer.

What's next, you ask? I'm glad you asked. This being December, we have some Christmas shows coming up. In fact, this is our 10th year of Christmas shows. You can find details on where we're playing by clicking on the link for finding details about where Lost And Found is playing their 10th annual series of Christmas Concerts in the United States. In other Advent news, I recently made some corrections to the sheet music for my version of "Oh Come Emmaunal," which sheet music you can get at our website. And in a final piece of it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas news, we're running some kind of special on our website that saves you money or something like that, which you can find explained here.

And, with that, it's getting to be about time to get out the holiday lights and decorations for the annual trimming of the Guitar Player. As you can see, we've already got a jump on the lights.