Posted in Events, Uncategorized

A Look Ahead –at a Busy October Weekend

In the effort to resurrect my blog’s posting schedule, today I am writing what was usually my Thursday “look ahead” events calendar. Though late in getting it up, there are many worthwhile things going on this weekend, and were I to wait until next Thursday to commence, many of of those items would be unavailable.

Noon, Today, Saturday, October 20 — Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Kearney, MO High School Musical

See this link to the school’s Facebook page for information on tickets for today’s final shows. I attended this production on Tuesday evening this week. It was a fabulous production. I didn’t see any performances that said “watch out, this person is going to Hollywood, or Broadway.” But what I did see was an excellent ensemble cast having fun and giving us an insightful take on a show we knew, but could yet experience new again through their eyes. The way they bridged the movie and Broadway stage versions to their own cast and resources, while keeping it alive, fresh, and new, is a testament to Community Theater and the ability of any group to be able to take a story and perform and tell it well.

Friday’s and Saturdays through October 27 — Halloween Haunt at Worlds of Fun

As darkness falls, fear rises when the Overlord calls his army to transform the park into Halloween Haunt. Experience the thrills of your favorite rides and the chills of Extreme Haunts as you navigate the fog-filled midways where over 400 monsters lurk to feed off your screams. All you fear is here select nights in the Fall.

Not recommended for children under 14.

October  21 — Church Anniversary Sunday Celebration, Avondale United Methodist Church

During  both services and a celebration brunch afterwards, the church will be celebrating its anniversary with special music from both the bell and cathedral choirs, among other special observances.

October 21 at 5 p.m. — Evensong Service by Songflower Chorale, Historic St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Kansas City

The service will include a complete freshly-composed liturgical setting by SongFlower’s artistic director, Dr. Geoffrey Wilcken. The presentation is free and open to the public; donations are always welcome and accepted. Come join us as we contribute to this long-standing choral tradition, to which our art owes so much!

October  23 at  7 p.m. — Songflower Chorale Rehearsal, Jane Sullivan Choral Resource Library, Roeland Park, KS

This isn’t an open event, but any interested singers are encouraged to contact director Geoff Wilcken. Rehearsals are 7-9:30 p.m. I am one of the members of this group, and can attest to the musical challenge and insight brought to singing and the great works, new and old, by our director.  Currently we are rehearsing for a concert on “The English Tradition” on Nov. 18, and an Evensong Service on Oct. 21.

To contact Songflower Chorale your may use our website or our mailing address\

Songflower Chorale

PO Box 140366 Kansas City, MO 64114 USA

https://www.songflower.org/donate

The Songflower Chorale is a 501c3 non-profit, and contributions are
tax deductible where allowed by law.

October 24  at 6 p.m. — Rehearsal, Jubilee Ringers Handbell Choir, Avondale United Methodist Church

Under the direction of Mark Keeney, the handbell choir rehearses Wednesday night’s in the church’s choir room, and performs during services one Sunday a month.

October 24 at 7 p.m. — Rehearsal, Avondale United Methodist Church Cathedral Choir

Under the direction of John Livingston the choir rehearses Wednesday night’s in the church’s choir room, and performs during services each Sunday.

Through Dec. 2 — Always … Patsy Cline at New Theatre Restaurant

(I went to a matinee performance of this show, and highly recommmend it.  When I get the chance I hope to add some additional personal notes of review about this show.) 

Always…Patsy Cline is more than a tribute to the legendary country singer who died tragically at age 30 in a plane crash in 1963. The show is based on a true story about Patsy’s friendship with a fan from Houston named Louise Seger, who befriended the star in a Texas honky-tonk in 1961, and continued a correspondence with Patsy until her death. The musical play, complete with down home country humor, true emotion and even some audience participation, includes many of Patsy’s unforgettable hits such as CRAZY, I FALL TO PIECES, SWEET DREAMS, WALKING AFTER MIDNIGHT. The show’s title was inspired by Patsy’s letters to Louise, which were consistently signed “Love always… Patsy Cline.”

November 18 — The English Tradition, Songflower Chorale Concert, Historic St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Kansas City

This fall, Songflower Chorale will present a concert titled The English Tradition, celebrating the landmarks of British composers through history, from Renaissance
masters to the Romantics, which have radiated their influence back to
the rest of the world, along with some modern outgrowths of the Anglican choral tradition, alive and well in our community.  Admission is free, donations are accepted.

Those wishing to support the choral are welcome to contribute financially; this allows it to meet rehearsal expenses and hire guest artists at need, and is greatly appreciated!
Donations can be mailed to

Songflower Chorale

PO Box 140366 Kansas City, MO 64114 USA

Or you can contribute through our website, https://www.songflower.org/donate

The Songflower Chorale is a 501c3 non-profit, and contributions are
tax deductible where allowed by law.

 December 5-February 17 — Shear Madness at New Theatre Restaurant

SHEAR MADNESS is America’s most popular and longest running comedy (now in its 31st year at Washington D.C.’s prestigious Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts). More than 12 million people worldwide have seen the hilarious whodunit and there is no end in sight; its success just keeps going and going.

In this hilarious whodunit, a renowned classical pianist is murdered in her apartment above the SHEAR MADNESS beauty salon and you, the audience, along with Inspector Nick O’Brien, interrogate the suspects, evaluate the clues and solve the mystery. The wacky, spontaneous comedy never has the same ending twice, so you can see it again and again.

February  20-April 2019– Biloxi Blues at New Theatre Restaurant

The laughter rarely stops in this Tony Award-winning “Best Play” that tells the story of Eugene Jerome and his experiences as a 19-year-old draftee who, with a handful of other recruits must endure ten weeks of boot camp and a tough as nails, hard-drinking platoon leader in the steaming swamps of Biloxi, Mississippi in 1943.

April 25-July 7 — The Buddy Holly Story at New Theatre Restaurant

It’s Back! One of our most popular productions of all time! BUDDY-THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY. This joyous musical tells the story of Buddy Holly’s short yet explosive career and features his classical hits: PEGGY SUE, THAT’LL BE THE DAY, NOT FADE AWAY, OH BOY, MAYBE BABY, RAVEON and many more. This show Rocks!

July -Sept. 15 — Joseph and the Amazing TechniColor Dreamcoat at New Theatre Restaurant

Based on the “Coat of Many Colors” story from The Bible’s Book of Genesis, this upbeat musical is filled with a cornucopia of musical styles. From country-western to calypso to bubblegum pop & rock ‘n’ roll, this Old Testament tale emerges both timely and timeless. With its family-friendly storyline, universal themes and catchy music, JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT is a musical theatre event not to be missed. From the composer of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, EVITA, CATS AND SCHOOL OF ROCK.@

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Posted in Events, reading, Reviews, Writing

The Book Ballot

Today the Avondale United Methodist Church Book Club discussed The Light Between Oceans, a first novel by M. L. Stedman. But I’m not going to talk about that.

We also received our book ballot for the upcoming 12 month cycle. This process is a uniquely “democratic” means of choosing what we read each year.  Everyone who wants to nominates books to be considered, and our club coordinator, the honorable Sandy Keeney, collects those nominations, puts them in a list, and we all choose 12 we would like to read. The top 12 vote-getters are then chosen for the coming year, and assigned one of the upcoming  12 months.

Some people nominate no books, some nominate several, and a few nominate one or two. I used to nominate many, but have moved to the one or two option.

Via this process we tend to get a fairly good mix of fiction and non-fiction. Some years the list is quite long, this year we have 25 from which to choose our 12.

In past years we have had one author, Sarah A. Hoyt, winner of the Prometheus Award, attend our discussion of her book, Witchfinder, via Skype. We have also looked to find local authors and topics among our works.

Which is why the one work I nominated this year, is by Rob Howell, an Overland Park, KS, author we met when WorldCon took place in Kansas City in 2016. We have talked to him during this summer’s LibertyCon in Chattanooga, during the release party for his new novel Brief is my Flame, and found him very interested and willing to work with his and the club’s schedule to attend our discussion of the book of his I nominated, if we select it for this year’s reading list (preferrably in person, he hopes, though will do Skype, etc. if necessary).

While the book list is distributed across a lot of authors and genres, it does tend to lean heavily to books available in the MidContinent Public Library system, where we borrow most of the books for the club to read. This means that it is highly biased by the preferences of professional librarians, who in turn are highly biased by the bigger publishing houses, and does not reflect the amount of reading material published by smaller independent authors and houses through online outlets and especially via ebook publishing. Both Hoyt, who is a cross-over author (publishing both “traditional” and “indie”) and Howell (totally “indie” published), represent this part of the writing economy, and its success story.

That said, I have decided to vote with an “open ballot” — well, actually I already sent in my “secret ballott”, but am now listing the 12 books, along with their descriptions we were given, in this post. I chose 7 non and 5 fiction books. They are listed in the order they appeared on the ballot, not in any order of my preference. Besides the book by a local author, I also selected the book about the Country Club district of Kansas City.  We seem to favor reading books about our local area when we find them, though it doesn’t mean we are unanimous in enjoying said books.

Here is my ballot:

Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann.

New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Lost City of Z) burnishes his reputation as a brilliant storyteller in this gripping true-crime narrative, which revisits a baffling and frightening-and relatively unknown-spree of murders occurring mostly in Oklahoma during the 1920s. From 1921 to 1926, at least two dozen people were murdered by a killer or killers apparently targeting members of the Osage Indian Nation, who at the time were considered “the wealthiest people per capita in the world” thanks to the discovery of oil beneath their lands. The violent campaign of terror is believed to have begun with the 1921 disappearance of two Osage Indians, Charles Whitehorn and Anna Brown, and the discovery of their corpses soon afterwards, followed by many other murders in the next five years. The outcry over the killings led to the involvement in 1925 of an “obscure” branch of the Justice Department, J. Edgar Hoover’s Bureau of Investigation, which eventually charged some surprising figures with the murders. Grann demonstrates how the Osage Murders inquiry helped Hoover to make the case for a “national, more professional, scientifically skilled” police force. Grann’s own dogged detective work reveals another layer to the case that Hoover’s men had never exposed.

 

The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession, by Mark Obmascik.

In one of the wackiest competitions around, every year hundreds of obsessed bird watchers participate in a contest known as the North American Big Year. Hoping to be the one to spot the most species during the course of the year, each birder spends 365 days racing around the continental U.S. and Canada compiling lists of birds, all for the glory of being recognized by the American Birding Association as the Big Year birding champion of North America. In this entertaining book, Obmascik, a journalist with the Denver Post, tells the stories of the three top contenders in the 1998 American Big Year: a wisecracking industrial roofing contractor from New Jersey who aims to break his previous record and win for a second time; a suave corporate chief executive from Colorado; and a 225-pound nuclear power plant software engineer from Maryland. Obmascik bases his story on post-competition interviews but writes so well that it sounds as if he had been there every step of the way. In a freewheeling style that moves around as fast as his subjects, the author follows each of the three birding fanatics as they travel thousands of miles in search of such hard-to-find species as the crested myna, the pink-footed goose and the fork-tailed flycatcher, spending thousands of dollars and braving rain, sleet, snowstorms, swamps, deserts, mosquitoes and garbage dumps in their attempts to outdo each other. By not revealing the outcome until the end of the book, Obmascik keeps the reader guessing in this fun account of a whirlwind pursuit of birding fame.

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle.

A Wrinkle in Time is the story of Meg Murry, a high-school-aged girl who is transported on an adventure through time and space with her younger brother Charles Wallace and her friend Calvin O’Keefe to rescue her father, a gifted scientist, from the evil forces that hold him prisoner on another planet. “A coming of age fantasy story that sympathizes with typical teen girl awkwardness and insecurity, highlighting courage, resourcefulness and the importance of family ties as key to overcoming them.” ―Carol Platt Liebau, author, in the New York Post

The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, by Jonas Jonasson.

(a bestseller in Europe) reaches the U.S. three years after its Swedish publication, in Bradbury’s pitch-perfect translation. The intricately plotted saga of Allan Karlsson begins when he escapes his retirement home on his 100th birthday by climbing out his bedroom window. After stealing a young punk’s money-filled suitcase, he embarks on a wild adventure, and through a combination of wits, luck, and circumstance, ends up on the lam from both a smalltime criminal syndicate and the police. Jonasson moves deftly through Karlsson’s life-from present to past and back again-recounting the fugitive centenarian’s career as a demolitions expert and the myriad critical junctures of history, including the Spanish Civil War and the Manhattan Project, wherein Karlsson found himself an unwitting (and often influential) participant. Historical figures like Mao’s third wife, Vice President Truman, and Stalin appear, to great comic effect. Other characters-most notably Albert Einstein’s hapless half-brother-are cleverly spun into the raucous yarn, and all help drive this gentle lampoon of procedurals and thrillers.

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline.

In the near future, scarce fossil fuels have ended America’s era of prosperity, sent small-town Americans to precarious vertical trailer parks at urban fringes, and the entire population into the OASIS, an immersive virtual reality, for education and escape. A possibly autistic genius obsessed with the geek side of 1980s pop culture had designed OASIS, and he leaves his entire fortune, including control of OASIS, to whoever can complete a quest he designed within it. Our heroes, sympathetic nerds with a lot of free time, go after it, as do the Sixers, unscrupulous corporate drones who want to monetize OASIS. SF fans will recognize the book’s tone as Dream Park meets Snow Crash, but readers won’t need any sf background to get it. More useful would be a crash course in the 1980s-while the novel’s preoccupation with dated culture is plausible in context, it may leave Millennials confused and baby boomers cold. Cline’s world-building raises some questions about how economics and politics works, but it doesn’t matter to the story. The conclusion is perhaps a bit predictable and the tacked-on moral a bit pat, but it’s a feel-good ending all around.

Three Sisters, Three Queens, by Phillipa Gregory.

Actor Amato, who has read three of Gregory’s previous titles as audio editions, is terrific in Gregory’s latest historical novel set in Tudor England. She deftly portrays the passions, ambitions, and catastrophes of three sisters from childhood through adolescence to queen-hood. She takes listeners along on the roller-coaster ride from ecstasy to agony and back again for the three 16th-century royals: Queen Katherine (first wife of Henry VIII), Queen Margaret (sister of Henry, married off at 16 to James IV of Scotland) and Queen Mary (sister of Henry and third wife of Louis XII of France). Amato’s portrayal of protagonist Margaret is vivid and compelling. She also creates captivating voices and personalities for their husbands and lovers, as well as their infamous brother, Henry. Gregory’s historical novels are sheer entertainment; the combination of Gregory and Amato is pure pleasure.

An Hour Before Daylight, by Jimmy Carter.

In this brief but revealing volume, former US president Jimmy Carter traces his not-quite-hardscrabble rural boyhood in Plains, Georgia. He discusses the strong ties that bound his family together, points to the influence of his stern father and loving mother, and notes that tobacco and cancer cost the lives of several of those closest to him. From his father, Carter acquired a work ethic and an attention to detail that later encumbered his presidency; from his mother, he received lessons in treating all people–both white and black, rich and poor–with respect and dignity. Poignant moments arise when Carter recounts friendships with African American residents in the community where he was raised. But repeatedly, he unflinchingly acknowledges that Jim Crow strictures, such as those involving railroad cars, movie theaters, or schools, long remained uncontested. In one of the more telling moments, Carter indicates that a point arrived when it became clear that lifelong friendships would be altered due to racial considerations. Carter’s horizons broadened as he attended the US Naval Academy and lived outside his native South for several years.

West with the Night, by Beryl Markham. Suggested by LaVerne Pulliam. (MCPL has 7 print copies, 2 e-books, 3 audiobooks)

This beautifully written autobiography brings us the remarkable life story of Beryl Markham, the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west. Brought up on a farm in Kenya, Markham chose to stay in Africa when, at seventeen, her father lost their farm and went to Peru. She began an apprenticeship as a racehorse trainer which turned into a highly successful career. In her twenties, Markham gave up horses for airplanes and became the first woman in East Africa to be granted a commercial pilot’s license, piloting passengers and supplies in a small plane to remote corners of Africa.

“Did you read Beryl Markham’s book, West with the Night? I knew her fairly well in Africa and never would have suspected that she could and would put pen to paper except to write in her flyer’s log book. As it is, she has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer. I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words, picking up whatever was furnished on the job and nailing them together and sometimes making an okay pig pen. But [she] can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves writers. The only parts of it that I know about personally, on account of having been there at the time and heard the other people’s stories, are absolutely true . . . I wish you would get it and read it because it is really a bloody wonderful book.” ―Ernest Hemingway

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, by Cary Elwes. Suggested by Sandy Keeney. (MCPL has 16 copies)

Through personal anecdotes and interviews with fellow cast and crew members, actor Elwes tracks the journey of 1987’s The Princess Bride from director Rob Reiner’s initial bid through its production and up to the film’s 25th anniversary. Elwes’s attempt at a conversational narrative feels clunky at times, often getting bogged down in figures, actor resumes, and even a plot summary of the film-the last of which is certainly unnecessary for the dedicated fan base that will be reading this memoir. However, the complete and unabashed adoration that the author and the cast have for the cult classic shines in stories about the famous sword fight between Elwes as Westley and Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya, the many takes ruined by uncontrollable laughter during Billy Crystal’s time on the set performing as Miracle Max, and the fond reminiscences of the late Andre the Giant.

I Am a Wondrous Thing (The Kreisens Book 1), by Rob Howell. Recommended by Jonathan and Betsy Lightfoot. (MCPL has no copies)

War looms in the west as sword, axe, and flame sweep the Kreisens and threaten to drag all of the neighboring realms, including Periaslavl, into the maelstrom. Irina Ivanovna, ruler of Periaslavl, knows that war would destroy much of her land. Even though magic has kept her body young, she is tired and sees that she is not the one to lead her land through the upcoming storm. She steps down in favor of her heir, as tradition dictates, and disappears from sight. She heads to the Kreisens to see if her magic can halt the bloodshed and pain. But the storm was orchestrated by foes she does not know she has. They stalk her, knowing her magic is the key. She must elude the hunters so she can discover what is truly threatening not just Periaslavl, but all of Shijuren. Where will the lightning strike?

“Nominating this book by our friend author Rob Howell. I really enjoyed reading this book, and Rob has a fantastic way putting in excellent, sometimes misleading but totally accurate foreshadowing.  If we select his book he is more than willing to come to the discussion when we talk about his book. He promotes himself and sells his books through a fairly active working of the Con circuit, and gets put on a lot of panels at those conventions as an excellent panelist for panels on how to write, and the philosophies of how best to write, publish, etc. Eminently approachable and understandable with a deep philosophical underpinning.” – Jonathan Lightfoot

The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits, by Les Standiford. Suggested by Sandy Keeney. (MCPL has 12 copies)

What would Christmas be without the yearly viewing or reading of A Christmas Carol? It is a classic of the season–perhaps the most memorable Christmas tale of all time–that captures the spirit of the holiday. Thriller and nonfiction writer Standiford (Bone Key: A John Deal Novel; Meet You in Hell: Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and the Bitter Partnership That Changed America) attempts to address what prompted Dickens to write this much-loved tale in this affectionate portrait of a once-successful writer trying desperately to revive his career. After a triumphant beginning, Dickens struggled as his later works failed to gain any critical or monetary success. Verging on bankruptcy and looking for inspiration, Dickens agreed to speak at a fund-raiser for the Manchester Athenaeum. Dickens left the event inspired and walked around Manchester until he had the fully formed Carol in his head. Standiford deftly traces the many influences in Dickens’s life that lead to and followed that momentous event, weaving an entertaining tale that will delight Dickens and Christmas lovers alike.

The Country Club District of Kansas City, by LaDene Morton. Suggested by Sandy Keeney. (MCPL has 27 copies)

One of the grand experiments of American urban planning lies tucked within the heart of Kansas City. J.C. Nichols prized the Country Club District as his life’s work, and the scope of his vision required fifty years of careful development. Begun in 1905 and extending over a swath of six thousand acres, the project attracted national attention to a city still forging its identity. While the district is home to many of Kansas City’s most exclusive residential areas and commercial properties, its boundaries remain unmarked and its story largely unknown. Follow LaDene Morton along the well-appointed boulevards of this model community’s rich legacy.

 

Posted in Avondale United Methodist Church, Family, Uncategorized

A Blast of the Past #133: Carly’s Confirmation

I grew up in a Baptist tradition. We didn’t have infant baptism and we didn’t have confirmation services.  So when moving to Avondale United Methodist Church, we had to get used to both concepts.

Today’s Blast of the Past is one of those events — Carly’s Confirmation service and day.

As you can tell from the group photos, there was a good-sized group of confirmands that year, and they had a wonderful set of mentor for the confirmands as well.

Posted in Avondale United Methodist Church, Music

Christmas Music 2017 — Last installment

Here is my last installment of Christmas music — for the 10th Day of Christmas. I had the ensembles on Sunday, so today I am going to do the individual numbers. Actually number.

We had two individual performances on Dec. 24. The first was two superb Saxophone numbers by Rick Firestone. The first was an unaccompanied chaconne from partitia in d minor by J.S. Bach. The second was an Aria by Eugene Bozza that included piano accompaniment by the church organist, John Livingston.

I think I liked the first one best. It was intense, moving, and amazing how the saxophone was able to fill and envelope the whole space, not merely in amount of sound, but in emotional and expressive impact. I would love to share the video with you, but at the artist’s request, I will not be posting any audio or video of it to social media or the web. You will just have to be there in service the next time we have him play (I have been led to hope that there will be another time!)

But I can share with you the number by John Livingston on Piano. It was a version of Silent Night interwoven with Clair de Lune by Debussy. It is lovely and amazing how the tunes fit and weave together so well.

Posted in Avondale United Methodist Church, Music

A Farewell Recital

Avondale United Methodist Church, where I have attended and participated in services and the music ministries for nigh on the past decade, has been blessed during the past four years to have as its Musical Director a very young but very talented and spiritually focused man named Aaron R. Redburn.

When Paul in I Timothy 4:12 advised Timothy to “Let no man despise thy youth”, he could have had Aaron in mind.  For Aaron came to us as a very accomplished, yet very young man just out of high school starting his college career. And in the past 4 years he has challenged us to grow, both musically and spiritually. At the same time we as a choir of mature adults taught Aaron many things that his previous leadings of youth and school choirs doubtless hadn’t taught him.

But, alas, four years have passed, and with the bachelor’s degree completed, he is now taking his Master’s Degree in Memphis, so is no longer our Musical Director. As part of our parting, Aaron, along with his girlfriend Shannon Lowe (who we knew these four years and likewise became a part of us in this growth and challenge), and our church organist John Livingston, presented A Farewell Recital on his last Sunday with us, July, 30, 2017.

I video recorded that recital, and am putting the edited version up to the cloud today, to be embedded into this blog for everyone’s appreciation and enjoyment of their performance and skill. This video edit is my small token of esteem for all they have done for me and for us at AUMC.

The full video took a long time to upload; so I uploaded a link to the 3-minute title slide/teaser I created for the video first. Now you can enjoy both the full video and the title slide.

 

Posted in Avondale United Methodist Church, Events, Music

Chiming in …

I’ve been living life, some of which will come up in Monday’s fitness blog, but haven’t spent time chronicling it, so instead today, before I run out of day without posting anything, I’ve decided to throw up an older video clip from a Easter service several years ago. Hallelujah just seems appropriate in thanks for all the good things in life I have experienced today…