Friday, August 1, 2014

The Powers That Be



We finally arrived in Dallas yesterday.  Let me tell you that first of all, it's a long drive from Alabama to Dallas, even when it's split into two days.  Once in Dallas, we checked into our hotel, which was far nicer than we expected, then we headed to the Dallas Museum of Art. The DMA has live jazz every Thursday and is open until 9 pm.



Saxophonist and composer Ron Jones led an ensemble of players performing his original compositions and other arrangements of jazz standards. So along with seeing the amazing exhibits at the DMA, we were able to enjoy live music as we walked through the museum.

The highlight if my visit to the DMA was seeing the two busts sculptured by Hiram Powers.  Powers is a subject of research for me, and I made a pilgrimage to his grave in Florence, Italy, while conducting research at the small English Cemetery of Florence and it's library. 

Hiram Powers epitomized the mid-nineteenth century American artist who, possessing extraordinary technical skill, worked in the predominant neoclassical style. Aided by a wealthy patron, Powers was sent to Washington, D.C. where he sculpted portraits of many government officials, including John Marshall, Daniel Webster, and Andrew Jackson. Later he moved to Italy, where he settled in Florence and established a studio with the assistance of another American sculptor, Horatio Greenough.



Powers' two most famous sculptures age Greek Slave and Fisher Boy. He produced numerous busts in his lifetime, two of which are on display at the DMA: Faith and America.




Powers’ talent for reproducing a likeness led to a straightforward naturalism that was to remain the basis of his style. Although he later turned to more “idealized” or allegorical works such as "Faith," "America," and “Eve Disconsolate,” Powers’ naturalistic approach to his subject matter was perfectly suited to the aesthetic of the time. 




The bust, “Eve Disconsolate,” has an interesting story to it.  All but maybe four busts by Hiram Powers have a known home such as "Faith" and "America" at the DMA.  However, "Eve" had been lost for about 100 years.  No one knew where her bust had gone.  In 1998, the City of Birmingham, Alabama began to renovate the Alabama Theater located downtown.  In the process of restoring the grand theater to its former glory, they were cleaning the bust of the "Lady of the Theater" as she was called. When someone looked at the back of the bust they realized that carved into the back was "H POWERS" and someone recognized the name.  It was then that they realized this was "Eve Disconsolate," one of the missing busts of Hiram Powers.  They chose to move the bust from the Alabama Theater where it had been largely neglected since the 1930s to the Birmingham Museum of Art where it resides today.


"I see art as the vehicle of nature and the artist as the collector of nature’s truths and beauties." Hiram Powers, 1850, in Richard P. Wunder, Hiram Powers.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Traveling



Most of the day yesterday was spent in the car either riding or driving.  I came home from Six Flags just to get back in the car and drive to West Monroe, Louisiana, the first leg of our trip to Dallas.  We got settled in our hotel room at 1 am.  I'm beyond tired.  Tomorrow, we will drive the rest of the way to Dallas, another 4.5 hours away.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Holy Sarsaparilla, Batman!


Six Flags Over Georgia has about six different themes to it.  There is the Wild West area (Lickskillet), the British area, the American area, the Bugs Bunny area, and the Gotham City area.  Most of them don't stand out a lot from one another, but the Bugs Bunny area is for small kids, the Gotham City had all Batman themed rides and venues, and the Wild West of course had a western theme.  Each area also plays different music to match the theme.  The Wild West played country music the whole time, and pretty good country music at that.

I enjoyed the Wild West part of the park, mainly because they had a cute little Wild West comedy show.  The humor was goofy and fun with a mixture of modern references with some older references too.  The sheriff pictured above was a cutie pie.  He had a great smile and a fun personality.  He put on a really good show along with his deputy and the bad guy.

When we first got there we decided we wouldn't do the Flash Pass which puts you at the head of the line, but it only took one long line until we decided otherwise.  It was $30 per person but more than worth it.  We got to ride a lot more rides that way.  My only complaint would be that the Flash Pass should work for the food lines also.  The venue where we had lunch was supposed to have a staff of 30 workers and they only had 7 working in there.  We stood in line for over an hour for a (halfway) descent cheeseburger.  If you are a rollercoaster junkie, then the Flash Pass is truly worth it.  We didn't ride many rollercoasters, but the Flash Pass did get us in and out quickly.

We were exhausted when we got back to the camper.  My feet were killing me.  Next time I walk that much, someone needs to be there to rub my feet.  Any volunteers?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

We Like To Party



We Like To Party

I've got somethin' to tell ya, 
I've got news for you, 
Gonna put some wheels in motion, 
Get ready cause we're comin' through. 
Hey now Hey now Hear what I say now 
Happiness is just around the corner 
Hey now Hey now Hear what I say now 
We'll be there for you 

The Venga bus is comin' & everybody's jumpin', 
New York through San Francisco, 
An Interstate free disco, 
The wheels of steel are turnin' and traffic lights are burnin', 
So if you like to party, 
Get on and move your body

We like to party 
We like we like to party 
We like to party 
We like we like to party 

Hey now hey now hear what I say now 
Happiness is just around the corner 
Hey now hey now hear what I say now 
We'll be there for you 

The Venga bus is comin' & everybody's jumpin', 
New York through San Francisco, 
An Interstate free disco, 
The wheels of steel are turnin' and traffic lights are burnin', 
So if you like to party, 
Get on and move your body

Mr. Six is an advertising character, first featured in a 2004–05 advertising campaign by the theme park chain Six Flags. Appearing as a bald, decrepit, wrinkled old man wearing a tuxedo and thick-framed glasses, he is usually shown stepping off a bus and inviting stressed and over-worked people to Six Flags by performing a frenetic dance to the Vengaboys song "We Like to Party".

The first airing introduced Mr. Six as an apparently elderly, slow-moving man dressed in his trademark tuxedo and large glasses, pulling up in front of a house in a retro-style bus. The occupants of the house are sitting around the front yard apparently very bored. Mr. Six slowly shuffles off the bus, then suddenly comes to life and performs a high-energy dance routine as "We Like to Party" begins playing, and invites the bored family to Six Flags. The dance he performs borrows moves from the Melbourne Shuffle, Jumpstyle, and Techtonik. Subsequent ads showed different variations of Mr. Six dancing and inviting people to Six Flags. The role was, initially, non-speaking.
By the way, Matthew Wilkening of AOL Radio ranked the song at number 45 on the list of the 100 Worst Songs Ever while telling the listener, "If you live within a few hundred miles of a Six Flags adventure park, you've heard this 4,000 times."

I thought this song's lyrics, essentially poetry, would be pretty appropriate considering that I will be spending the day at Six Flags.

And I will add one last thing, for those of you with young children, nieces, nephews, or grandchildren, Jellystone Park is a fun place for them.  There was gem and fossil mining, mini golf,  horseshoes, a sandbox, a pool, numerous playgrounds, an arcade, and a menagerie of animals: alligators, iguanas, monitors, boa constrictors, macaws, peacocks, tortoises, a bunny, and a pig named Daisy.  There are numerous Jellystone Parks around the U.S. and Canada.

Monday, July 28, 2014

"Hey there, Boo Boo!"


In a few hours my parents, my six year old niece, and I will be at Jellystone Park.  At least I won't have to sleep on the ground like the guy above;  we will be staying in my parents rather nice RV.  I've never been one who liked camping much, especially in a camper with my family, but it's only for two nights.  We will spend the day at Six Flags on Tuesday.

The website describes the park as:

If you like the idea of a family getaway in the great outdoors, consider Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resorts. You'll find a range of accommodation choices - from rustic to downright luxurious - to help you plan a vacation the whole family will love. And at Jellystone Park, you'll have access to all the amenities and activities we're known for.

I'm sure that my niece will love it.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Prayer



Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:14-16

Perhaps the most underrated and underused power that we have available is prayer. As God’s children, we are told to go to God in prayer that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in our time of need. Notice how we are to come. Paul says that we are not just to come to God’s throne, but we are to come boldly to the throne of grace. Remember, God’s grace gives to us what we do not deserve. The desire of God’s heart is to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. God wants us to come boldly, in faith, believing that God will do for us everything that was promised. There is no bolder step that we can take than that.  We may get discouraged, but know that there is no need to be discouraged if God is in our hearts and guiding our actions.

When we go to God, we find mercy. While God’s grace is God giving to us things that we do not deserve, God’s mercy gives to us what we do deserve. In God’s mercy we find forgiveness and restoration to fellowship! Our sinful, selfish, stubborn wills are in constant conflict with God’s will for our lives. As we seek to make God’s thoughts our thoughts, God’s ways become our ways. When we look to our own devices for direction as we make our decisions, we turn from God and that is when we need God’s mercy and forgiveness.  As the song "Amazing Grace" says:

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

God wants to be our “first response” as opposed to our “last resort.” When we have a decision to make, God’s desire is that we come boldly to the throne for direction and guidance in that decision. Look at what Paul says, “that we may find grace to help us in time of need.” God’s guidance in our time of need is available to us if we will just avail ourselves to it!

Prayer is the key that unlocks the windows of heaven and allows God to pour out blessings into our lives! Prayer leads us from the snare of temptation to the path of righteousness. Prayer allows us to make decisions that head us in the right direction to find life that is full and abundant. Prayer moves us from where we are to the place that God would have us go. Prayer is the place where we begin to move out of our need and into the place of God’s provision.

•       Maybe you’re struggling with some kind of fear. Maybe you’re waiting for a report from the doctor, and that has you worried. Or you’re afraid that you’re not going to make it financially. Or you’re afraid about something at school.  For many of us who hide our sexuality from the wider world, this may constitute our greatest fear that someone may find out.  I have a young friend who came to me just yesterday with worries about his sexuality and how it is perceived, even though he does not identify as gay or bisexual but as straight.  My advice to him was to be open and honest with himself, not to worry about his sexuality.  God tells us to "Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?-unless indeed you fail to meet the test!" (2 Corinthians 13:5) A simpler way to put this was seen on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi which was inscribed "Know thyself." We must trust that God will guide us to know ourselves.
•       Perhaps you are wrestling with some sort of temptation. Maybe you’ve got some kind of addiction and you can’t shake it. Or you’re thinking of doing something that you know isn’t right, but you want to do it anyway.  I have a dear friend who is suffering from alcoholism.  The first step to his recovery was to admit it to himself.  He is going to seek treatment, and I am very proud of him.
•       Or, maybe you’re in the middle of a difficult situation and you’re not quite sure what to do? You don’t know how to respond. Or you’re not sure you have what it’s going to take to deal with it.  When we are in a situation like this, the only thing we can do is to turn to God for guidance.

Whatever your personal need, take it before God in prayer. There you’ll find a God who is able and willing to handle anything you’re going through. And you’ll find a God who fully identifies with you and who knows exactly how you’re feeling. And you’ll also find a God who won’t judge you, but who, instead, will give you all the grace you need. That’s God's promise to you.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Moment of Zen: MMS



There are things in my life that never fail to make me smile (MMS).  HRH greeting me in the morning is usually one of the first.  The second is usually a text from a dear friend, and he knows who he is.  He always makes me smile.  Each week, sometimes a few times a week, I get an email from another dear friend.  I so look forward to those emails.  Oh, and I can't forget, my first cup of coffee always makes me smile.  It's a nice way to wake up, sitting out on my front porch with a cup of coffee before the heat of the day makes it unbearable to be outside.  What makes you smile on a daily basis?