Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Merry Christmas

I've never disliked a Christmas, but some seem to be better than others. I feel like it's odd to break something as intangible as a holiday into its components and then make value judgments on them so I won't, (and there are lots of Christmas songs that do that anyways) but safe to say, all those components seem to have come through strong––but not too strong––this year. Christmas for me is also based on a lot of tradition, and for something that gets its presence from the past, I'm not sure if you really have the power to say it's "the best I can remember" without feeling like you're disowning it somehow. But in many ways this does feel like the best I can remember. Of course maybe its history is why I can say that. Maybe all the things I feel are "the best I can remember" are all echoing back to some archetypal celebration in Christian or northern European or early American history––some feeling that people had a long time before I was born. So in that case, I guess it's possible to say "the best I can remember" and have it be true and appropriate at the same time.

At any rate, all I really wanted to say––before I got caught up in my thoughts of whether or not I could say it in a way that didn't kill it––was Merry Christmas, and I'm thankful for how merry it feels, and for the real reason that this glorious Roman Catholic Holiday of Anglo-European extraction that we call Christmas really is merry. God coming to the world as a little human baby in a little town on the eastern edge of the known western world to live among us and die as one of us to bring all of us everywhere the possibility of becoming His children.

Have a Merry Christmas

Monday, December 17, 2012

Falling Stars Over Bethlehem

It's getting to be Christmas time again. And in some ways it's a very happy Christmas. In other ways it isn't at all. It certainly isn't a very happy one for our country, what with the tragedy in Connecticut. I know that has everyone's emotions running high. It certainly had mine. I even spent most of an afternoon writing a blog post about it––only to delete without posting.

I actually do that often. That sometimes seems like a waste of time, effort and even research. Especially when I consider that those are the posts that would probably make this blog more popular. The ones in which I actually say what I think. Sometimes something just feels wrong about them though. Or else I have the suspicion that what I think is liable to amendment in the foreseeable future. Usually though it's because I rarely feel that saying what I think is worth upsetting people that I care for. Which is the [a] reason I almost positively never say what I think in real life.

In the end though I don't think those posts are a waste. They help me process through things. Kind of like writing an angry letter to someone who you're angry at and then tearing it up––something I've never actually done––just FYI. Maybe it will make me see I don't really believe what I'm saying. Or maybe I'll store it away, and say it later, when I'm sure that I do, and am in a position to actually do something about it rather than just spamming the internet with my complaints against the universe.

At any rate, it's getting to be Christmas time again.

Last Friday I went to a live Nativity for the first time I can remember. "Live Nativity" was misleading. Renaissance Fair meets full scale dramatic production meets exotic petting zoo meets ancient Bethlehem would be a more apt way of describing it. It was almost overwhelming. Especially since the reason I was there was because I'd been hired to photograph it. I'd been expecting a few people dressed in robes and a manger scene.

It was also challenging because it was authentic to the point that there was nothing but torch light illuminating the whole thing. Ever since a co-worker asked me to video her wedding several years ago without telling me it was a candle light wedding, I've had a phobia of doing photography/videography in extreme low-light situations. Fortunately I've learned a few things since then––if only from other bad experiences––and I think these actually turned out well for the most part. Even if it was a long night.

That wasn't the first or last long night. The one before I'd gone to the midnight showing of The Hobbit. My thoughts deserve either no comment or an entire post, so I will withhold them. After that a friend came back to my house and we stayed up the rest of the night watching the Geminid meteor shower. Great decision. It was the most spectacular I've ever seen.

Then last night was the annual Christmas party in Corning. I'm not sure how officially it's connected to my church, so I'll refrain from calling it the "Church Christmas Party." But that's more or less what it is. Was a very nice evening. We made way too much food––but that's never a bad thing.

The after-party went until about two in the morning––which was crazy because I had to get up at six to get ready for worship team rehearsal. It was fun though, even if the next day was rough. Everything felt as it should be.

And that's nice, because little else feels as it should be right now. I read an article by Bob Greene on CNN last night before I passed out. It did something I've never heard an editorial do before: It didn't say anything––only asked why. It was titled Has life in American gone insane? I've been asking the same question, only much more locally than "America" recently.

I think it's possible that everyone, myself included, has gone insane.

But if I wrote about any of that, this would just be another post I delete without publishing. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012


A relatively young friend of mine just created a remix of the single Drenched by Wanting. I say "just" because it "just" became available for voting as part of a remix competition on indabamusic.com, but the fact is he's been working on it for a long time. And I say "relatively young" only in terms of actual time alive. I've consistently been blown away by Jonathan's level of motivation and artistic maturity. I once stayed at his house and got up around six to get ready for worship team rehearsal and found him already around and in front of the computer, waveforms pulsing by on the display, working on something like this.

I would say you should listen to it as a favor to me, but the fact is you will really be doing yourself a favor. It's that good.

Here's the link: Wanting - Drenched (Marc Remix)

And just in case you're completely mesmerized after listening, don't forget to vote for it :) 

Saturday, December 01, 2012

This time it was right

As you may have read in my second to last post, I started this blog seven hunting seasons ago to tell tales of adventures in the field and––hopefully––post photos when I bagged a deer.

Unfortunately, that was the first year in four that I didn't get a deer. And in the six years that have followed I have been either unlucky or out of the state during hunting season.

But yesterday the seven-year deer famine ended.

I woke up around 6:30 that morning and spent 45 minutes making my usual circle around my Dad's and Grandpa's land. I saw several groups of small doe, but never for long enough or close enough to take a shot.

By the time afternoon rolled around, I was feeling pretty tired.

No, that's an understatement. I was feeling downright depressed––for reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with hunting season. I had no intention of going out again that day, but when four-thirty came, I suddenly had the impulse to gear up and just go out in the field a quarter mile from my house anyways.

I walked out across the drilling pad and was about to cross the opening between the two earth embankments that separate it from the field on the side with the pine forest. Before I made it though, I glanced three doe standing a little over a hundred yards out in the corner of the field. There were some weeds in the way, so when I dropped to one knee, we could barely see each-other, and if they noticed me, they didn't seem to care.

I'm not sure how long I spent looking at them through my scope, but I doubt it was more than a couple minutes. They were all a pretty good size, but I couldn't decide if the one on the far right or left was bigger. At the last minute I switched to the one on the left. It looked a little better, and was also a slightly cleaner shot.

As always, when I finally pulled the trigger, it wasn't a calm, collected decision with a slow, smooth, deliberate pull like they teach you to have in a marksmanship class or basic training in the military. Rather, it was this uncontrollable nervous lurch. Some twitching, angry character in my subconscious who––just before you think you're ready screams: "Fire, damn it!" The same evolutionary left-over who pushes you when you're standing on the edge of the highest dive you've ever taken pondering how badly the water will hurt if you hit it wrong. The one that always leaves you feeling after you've done it saying: "I don't remember really intending to do that then."

This time though, it was right. I saw the deer jump and kick wildly in the air before taking off into the pines with the rest of herd. There was a band of left-over snow along the edge of the woods where the sun never really reaches so I walked all the way down that looking for blood where they inevitably had to cross. I saw nothing, which was disappointing. I decided to walk back on the inside of the woods' edge though. Still no blood anywhere, but all of a sudden I saw the deer, laying just inside the trees with its head pointing toward the field like it had tripped over itself when it went down. It was quite dead.

It weighed significantly more than I do––an impressive fact as long as you don't know what I weigh––so I had to have my brother help me drag it back to my house. I know it's only a doe, and not my first deer, so taking a photo with it is kind of ridiculous. Still, it's what I started this blog all those years ago to do. So here, is the obligatory photo: