On the way home from the gym tonight

A Barack Obama campaign canvasser stopped me, and we talked about campaigning. She tried convincing me to be a volunteer for the campaign. The final stretch. I told her I didn’t want to. As the conversation ended, I crossed my fingers for the campaign, and I wished her luck.

I nearly bumped into someone because I was watching a shirtless man running from Central Park across the street. To my side of the street. I turned the corner and had to dodge a few people and look really casual doing so. I wouldn’t normally be paying extra attention to a shirtless running man … oh, heck. Who am I kidding? I will want to turn my head and stare every single time.

Perhaps the most horrible subway platform musician was playing the saxophone at the 47-50 Streets station on the BDFV line. His entire range was three notes. I mean, it’s definitely possible to play something beautiful with three notes, but all this guy did was honk: WHONNNNNK, WAHHHHHHN! HAAAAAAAAAAHNK! It wasn’t pretty, people. If I had gotten off at that stop, I would have tried paying him to get him to stop HAWAAAAAHNKing.

Now, If the saxophone player were a shirtless runner and campaigning for Obama and only intermittently honking, I’d probably have less of a headache.

It may be that I need to drink a whole lot more water. Already a half-gallon today, though.

Other stuff.

I guess I failed to mention I saw one of my students at the Dar Williams concert. I cannot describe how cool that made me feel. You know, as cool as I am.

So much is on my mind right now.  I think I’m having a caffeine crash; all I’ve wanted to do is sleep for the past few days.

Hmm. I’d like to get some opinions on some stuff that I read today. Politics and church, people. The end is near. That’s all I gotta say.

My very first triathlon is coming up. Ask me how excited I am. Go ahead, ask.

I need to go now.

The Christians and the Pagans Stood Together in the Fillmore

Saw Dar Williams tonight, at the Fillmore at Irving Plaza. She was beautiful and funny and phenomenal. Fun-omenal. I warned my Republican roommate who came along that Dar is staunchly Democrat. She wasn’t obnoxious about it, though. Not too much.

Shawn Mullins opened the show. He’s a great storyteller. He told the same story Ray related in his blog about sending in a horrible, out-of-tune demo as a theme song for the tv show Scrubs. He performed a more polished version, of course. He also told the story about riding in a police paddywagon in Australia, barhopping with off-duty police. He finished with the story of the origin of his big hit, “Rockabye,” which he also performed. He was good, and Dar even came out once to sing harmony to one of his songs.

Then Dar performed. I was pretty much the shortest person there, and “General Seating” means “Standing,” and a level floor is not the Great Equalizer in my world of concert viewing. But a few nice people let me stand near them where I’d have a decent view of Dar. My roommate, with her great aerial perspective, pointed to a spot that was nearly perfect. And of course, I wouldn’t be standing in anyone else’s way.

Dar told some great stories. She sang some amazing songs. We sang along to “The Christians and the Pagans” (which followed Dar talking about something regarding Sarah Palin that made her mad) and “As Cool As I Am” and “Echoes.” She told the story of “The Mercy of the Fallen.” She sang a lot from her new album, which is pretty brilliant. She sang as the encore “The Blue Light of the Flame” and EVERYBODY wanted her to sing “Iowa,” which she did not do, but she closed with the incredible “The Babysitter’s Here.” And yes, we sang along. She encouraged it, and she even told us we were really good.

I’m forgetting a lot of the set list, but that’s okay. I mean, she sang about the Hudson River and Spring Street and museums, and I want to see her again. We’d totally be friends, or so my delusions have convinced me. The concert was a lot of fun. It was great singing along with the audience, and I’m glad I was able to see Dar live. Shawn joined her for a couple of songs, and she had a small band, with Everett Bradley on percussion (ultra cool guy my roommate adored) and Bryn Roberts on keyboard.

Man, I had such a good time. Seems she had a good time with us, too.

I’ll post some photos and you can guess which ones my roommate took.

May’s Song Review: “I’ll Fly Away” by Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch

May’s synopsis: I love me an old-fashioned, gospel choir spiritual. When Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch do it, my, oh my.

May’s rating scale:

MAY!

May?

meh…

meh?

MESS.

 

Gillian Welch is a folk singer with more than just a tinge of country. Alison Krauss is known for her bluegrass roots. Their version of “I’ll Fly Away” is on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. It sounds like Alison takes the lead and Gillian follows with tight harmony. I’ve listened to this song hundreds of times, and I never get tired of it. The tune is catchy; it has a great hook.

The instrumentation in this version is delightful and refreshing, especially during the interludes between verses and refrains. It’s straight-up bluegrass: no drums, just strums. Nice steady tempo. I imagine the guitar, mandolin and banjo were having a blast accompanying these ladies.

What makes this song for me, as with all Americana, is its simplicity. It’s almost impossible to separate the words from the music, and I love the words. There are probably many different versions of the song, and I put in brackets what isn’t in the original (but most likely added for the movie), but even those words are powerful. (Thank you, Jenny for confirming the lyrics for me.)

 Listen to “I’ll Fly Away”

Some glad morning when this life is o’er,
I’ll fly away;
To a home on God’s celestial shore,
I’ll fly away.

Chorus
I’ll fly away, Oh Glory
I’ll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

When the shadows of this life have gone,
I’ll fly away;
Like a bird from from these prison bars has flown,
I’ll fly away.

Chorus
I’ll fly away, Oh Glory
I’ll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

[Oh, how glad and happy when we meet,
I’ll fly away.
No more cold, iron shackles on my feet,
I’ll fly away.]

Chorus
I’ll fly away, Oh Glory
I’ll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

Just a few more weary days and then,
I’ll fly away;
To a land where joy shall never end,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away)

Chorus
I’ll fly away, Oh Glory
I’ll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

There’s a lot of hope in this song. Though it doesn’t outright say we can’t find happiness amidst the tribulation in this life, how else would we know about that “home on God’s celestial shore” if we didn’t have glimpses of it right now?

Plus, no other song can get me to stomp my feet and bob my head while encouraging me to endure to the end.

Observations

My biceps feel strong. I mean, they’re firmer than they’ve felt in a long time. I mean, they’re nothing like those on Dara Torres, but is that realistic? those guns on my short arms? Don’t you dare say yes, or my now stronger arms will punch you.

Dara Torres can swim 50 meters in the time I can swim about 60 feet, about 20 meters. The energy used to type that sentence was so not worth the comparison.

I went to bed last night at 11 and then I woke up at 2:00 and every hour until my alarm went off. And right now? I feel pretty awake. I’m not sure what that’s about. It might be the exercise, but I doubt it.

Here’s a comment I posted on someone’s blog today. Beware, it’s political:

I’m definitely not studied up enough on politics or as much on the candidates as I would like. It would be embarrassing to try to engage in the battle of the wits here, but every single comment has my rapt attention. I feel fortunate to observe such a respectable discussion.

I won’t be able to vote on November 4. I was hoping to have been fully naturalized by then, but it looks like I’ll miss my turn in the booths by a few weeks. I would probably register as an Independent. I’m one of those who thinks both main parties have the country’s best interests at heart; they all seem really well-intentioned. For me, the reasons behind my slightly-left lean have a lot to do with public (personal) appeal and artlessness and seemed ability just to get things done and to keep promises (somewhat), which would demonstrate some degree of integrity. I like integrity. I wish I had the foresight to see if that’s for real. I really want to believe Obama. It’s hard to be an informed voter these days with all sorts of misinformation to sift through. All the fallacies and wonky correlations even the most lateral thinker couldn’t conjure. I’m not counting people’s logic I can actually follow.

I’m afraid all I have is a blatantly subjective perspective. I’ve wanted to see what Obama could do from the very beginning. Extremely curious, I suppose. I know it’s not the best time to gamble on the leader of one of the most powerful countries in the world, but that’s how I see this election. I guess it’s always a gamble, though, especially in such a close race. For reasons I can’t explain yet, Obama has assured me a little bit more than McCain; I feel a little bit safer with Obama. I’ve tried deciding whether I should fight along with McCain or be my brother’s keeper with Obama. Silly to base my decision on convention speeches, but there you have it.

All I know is our economy is crumbling, and I have this unfounded fear of China buying us out, and would we be able to vote then, if our government caves in on itself? Might as well deport me now.

Just kidding on the deporting, Dear Government. You know what I mean, though, right?

Workout

Just got back from a workout. I swam for about 25 minutes, then I did the stationary bike for 15 minutes (about 5 miles), then I ran for over two miles on the treadmill. The actual triathlon will require another half hour on the bike and another mile running, which I can totally do. But the big thing for me is the swimming, and I think that’s going to be fine.

I feel amazing. My entire body will rest, and it will recover, and I’ll be a wee bit stronger the next day.

We learned about miracles yesterday in seminary. We discussed Christ’s turning water into wine. We talked about the little miracles that happen in our own lives. I read this entry to them. Those kids, man. They’re quite the miracle.

I have a ton more to write, but it’s getting late. I’ll try to catch up over the weekend.

happy national punctuation day;

did you know it was national punctuation day) that is a pretty awesome holiday: i,m not sure it-s an actual holiday … though? when i found it was national punctuation day! it made me really happy,

what would happen if we gave no regard to punctuation – things would be really confusing” i mean; when you read out loud the! pausing and tone and inflection all depend on the punctuation’ [and when] you read. the punctuation determines how thoughts flow and separate,

a few hours are left in the day? make sure you “pay” particular attention to! punctuation give all those hardworking marks all the appreciation and respect the’y deserve(

Try-athlon

Last week, I tried dolphin kicking, and I really liked it. I liked squiggling underwater and breaking through the surface and looking back to see how far I went. No dolphins were harmed in my efforts to pretend to be a professional swimmer.

Today, I tried flip-turning. I got the main idea, and it was pretty fun once I learned how not to get a bunch of water up my nose. Kicking off the wall is fun, people. I may have to keep up my swimming just so I can improve the flip-turn.

The swimming distance for the sprint triathlon is 750 meters. Not quite a half-mile. I swam that distance all in one shot today, calming myself down, regulating my breathing, sustaining a rhythm. It was a slow swim, and I felt really good afterward, like I was ready to bike 20 kilometers and then run 5k.

We’ll see how it goes in a week and a half.

I’m getting pretty excited.

Rematch

We were on the couch in front of the television last night.

I don’t even know what happened. All of a sudden she extended her hand to me.

It confused me at first. But then I figured it out. I told her I wasn’t quite prepared. Oh, well.

We gripped each other’s fingers.  Thumbs raised.

She was supposedly “totally awake.” One two three four I declare thumb war yada yada.

She tried distracting me, making weird noises like a drunken samurai, waving her thumb around. I saw past her ruses. My thumb tackled hers.

Round one: Anderton.

Then we declared thumb war again. I deliberately placed my thumb where she could pin it, and she realized I was mock-losing, which was also making fun of her. She’s such a good sport.

We stayed sitting on the couch. As we maneuvered our thumbs, her legs kicked up in many directions and it looked like she was playing one of those Wii games.

I am not a Wii, people.

Round two, take two: Anderton.

Surprisingly, she’s still my friend after this. Or because of it. I’d totally want a thumb war champion on my side.