February 2008

Click “more” to see a list of all of the interesting web sites I found this month. I keep track of my favorite sites using del.icio.us, a free web site where you can access your favorite links from any computer and share them with friends. You can also see all of my favorite links (not just the ones from this month).


Joy and I saw the African Children’s Choir here in town last month. The choir was started more than two decades ago by an Irish minister living in Canada who visited Africa to research a book he was writing. While working on his book, he saw the ravages of war in Uganda and was touched by the children living in extreme poverty and hardship. He decided that he wanted to do something to help and started the choir as a way to help children directly and to spread the message of the dire circumstances that many African children face daily. All of the children in the choir come from homes that have lost one or both parents, and many of them were rescued from a homeless existence living on the streets. Each year a new choir of approximately thirty children is created, and after they tour with the choir for a year, the foundation that runs the choir provides them with free housing and education (through college) at one of several centers they have throughout Africa. The intent is that the children will stay in Africa and help lead their generation.

It was a lot of fun to see the boundless energy and talent in the kids. The bulk of the program consisted of song and dance pieces depicting life and tradition in Africa, as well as some of the hardships that the kids have faced. At the end of the concert they did a very energetic gospel-flavored song that was terrific (“Walking in the Light of God”). Watching the concert, it was sobering to think of the many children suffering across the globe, without families, food, or medical care. But at the same time, watching the choir started years ago by one man with a vision to make things better, it was a great reminder that even one person can make a difference.

African Children’s Choir 1

African Children’s Choir 2

African Children’s Choir 3

African Children’s Choir 4

African Children’s Choir 5

A couple of weeks ago Joy and I saw the play “The Life Of Galileo” by Bertolt Brecht at the local university. It seemed to me to be an examination of two questions. First, what is the place of those in authority in suppressing or disseminating “truth”? Galileo, of course, found himself in conflict with the church as he claimed that the earth revolved around the sun, and in the end, threatened with death, he recanted his claim despite being convinced of its truth. The second question considered what responsibility scientists have to consider the social and moral implications of the truths they are pursuing. In other words, is the pursuit of truth a valid endeavor in itself, regardless of what the repercussions might be in society? I thought the play was really thought-provoking, particularly at the very end when they cleverly tied the main questions of the play into the war on terror in the United States today.

Life Of Galileo

Last month Joy and I saw “Tango Fire”, a touring dance show from Argentina. I’ve been derelict in posting about it because, to be honest, we didn’t really enjoy the show that much. The dancers seemed fairly talented, but each number seemed like the same thing again and again. They had a singer who was terribly cheesy and not particularly good. Live music for the show was provided by the band Quatrotango, and they were undoubtedly the best part of the show. In the second half they had a few pieces they performed alone without any dancers, which were very good. The bandoneon (kind of like an accordion, but not exactly) player in particular was excellent. I certainly wouldn’t recommend the show as a whole, but I imagine that catching the band on its own would provide a very good concert.

Tango Fire

Joy and I got to see the musical “Movin’ Out” last week. The music for the show is made up entirely of Billy Joel songs, and since I grew up hearing my parents play Billy Joel on a regular basis, it was all familiar to me. It was different from other musicals I’ve seen in the past in that all of the singing is done by a band and the performers are acting everything out in dance without speaking. The piano player also sang all of the songs (a la Billy Joel) and he did a really nice job. Several of the dancers were also very good, and the choreography was entertaining and creative. Of course, as with many modern musicals, there was the obligatory drugs/sex/prostitution number (Les Miserables has “Lovely Ladies”, Miss Saigon has “The Heat Is On In Saigon”, Rent has “Contact”). In this case it was “Captain Jack”, and in my opinion the entire show would have been much better off without it. But with the exception of that one number, Joy and I both liked the show. While I prefer musicals with a little bit more storyline and where the performers themselves do the singing, I’d have to say that, as a lighthearted, just sit back and take it all in kind of show, Movin’ Out was pretty good.

Movin Out 1

Movin Out 2

“My place is of the sun and this place is of the dark,
I do not feel the romance, I do not catch the spark,
(By grace my sight grows stronger, grows stronger)
My place is of the sun and this place is of the dark,
I do not feel the romance, and I will not be a pawn
for the prince of darkness any longer.”

Joy and I had the chance to see an Indigo Girls concert a few nights ago. We had front row tickets, which was pretty cool. I subscribe to the “click refresh like a madman as soon as tickets go on sale” strategy for concert tickets, and once in a while it really pays off with unbelievably good seats. Even though both of us (and pretty much everyone else we know) listened to the Indigo Girls in high school and college, neither of us had ever seen them in concert before. They played a nice mix of older material along with quite a few songs from their latest album. Older classics included “Closer to Fine”, “Prince of Darkness”, “Three Hits”, “Galileo”, “Least Complicated”, and “Power of Two”. What struck me, besides how talented they were and how effortless they made everything seem, was how much they seemed to enjoy performing and how sincere they seemed in thanking the audience for their appreciation (and, to be sure, the sold out crowd was very appreciative and enthusiastic). Most of the time an artist saying “thank you” seems kind of like an obligatory line that you are supposed to say, but it didn’t come across that way from the Amy and Emily, so much so that it really stood out to me.

As a side note, I don’t agree with the Indigo Girls on everything they stand for politically and I wasn’t quite sure what one of their concerts would be like in that respect, but they kept commentary to a bare minimum. The only statements they made were pro YMCA (!?), anti death penalty, in support of breast cancer research, and in support of Amnesty International, and I’m not going to argue with any of that.

So overall, it was fun to have great seats for some great music that really brought back memories of our high school and college years. If a concert makes me nostalgic for those days “way back when”, does that mean I’m getting old? :-)

Indigo Girls

Click “more” to see a list of all of the interesting web sites I found this week. I keep track of my favorite sites using del.icio.us, a free web site where you can access your favorite links from any computer and share them with friends. You can also see all of my favorite links (not just the ones from this week).