On Monday of this week, two members of our contributor team for the Red Dirt Chronicles (RDC) spent some time with the KSBI TV crew introducing the RDC to Oklahoma. Dallas Caldwell, our Faith contributor, and I spent about 5-7 minutes with Lyn Hester on “Oklahoma LIVE,” a daily live show that highlights events and points of interest around the state.
This is a photo of us in the lobby after finishing our segment. Our hostess was very gracious and asked us back, “any time.” KSBI employs a kind, engaging and welcoming crew and I appreciated the opportunity to get the exposure for all the good work our authors create.
I suppose if there was a lesson I learned today, it was this – don’t be scared of TV…it’s okay. And, it may be helpful to promote your work. Take care. And, if you get a chance to make a local TV appearance, please let us know about it. We always love to know what our readers are doing, and would love to share your work with others as well.
“Curt can guess people’s high school nicknames within ten minutes of meeting them. Curt just got back from Europe, where he spent time training a baby polar bear named Knute. Curt has a great sense of direction and can sometimes be spotted walking magnetic North. Curt believes that it is wrong for you to spank your children, but is willing to do it himself. Upon graduation from OU, Curt was nominated to the Supreme Court, but was unable to make it to the Senate hearings because he couldn’t find any shoes that day. Curt is a friend of Anna and can be found counting ants at the park most days.” ~ Red Dirt Improve Website, Description of Troupe Member, Curt Coy
The weather is trending slightly-weirdly and oh-so-uncertainly warmer in Red Dirt country and since you may be venturing out of your house, we wanted to remind you that the Red Dirt Improv is a viable, if not funky, option. Joey’s first essay for the RDC was written after she attended her first improv show. We’re re-posting it this morning in order to give you a little sumthin’-sumthin’ (yes, I was channeling Whitney Houston when I wrote that) for options when selecting where to spend your Oklahoma entertainment dollars.
Ciao ~ Red Dirt Kelly (I don’t know WHAT I was channeling when I wrote “ciao.” I never say that word. Never ever.)
Have you ever laughed so much in one night that your cheeks ache? I went to an improv show Saturday night and my face still hurts a little.
Red Dirt Improv is a local troupe of improv performers and they hosted a festival at Lyric at the Plaza last weekend. Troupes from surrounding areas joined in to compound the weekend funny factor.
Even though I’ve been to tons of open mic nights and stand-up comedy shows, I was a little apprehensive. People were going to be on stage doing… well, they didn’t know what they were going to do.
My Juniors and I just finished reading and discussing Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. You may remember reading the play when you were in high school. As a refresher, The Crucible is about the Salem witch trials, and the tragic account of how all hell breaks loose in a community when theocratic leaders abuse their powers, drugging the masses with the opiate of absolutist rhetoric, and scapegoating and killing everyone on the margins that represents a threat to the status quo. The play was written in the midst of the Red Scare era, and was meant to critique Joseph McCarthy’s “witch hunts” for communists in academia, Hollywood, even the White House.
What struck me this time while reading the play was how those who were in power – Parris, Judge Hawthorn, Judge Danforth – were able to take bad theology and convert it into a kind of mythological drug for the masses. Specifically, they were able to create stories with the capacity to reshape reality to serve their agendas – most importantly to keep themselves in power. Thus they told their story of the “Devil’s work” in the Salem community until the people in the community were telling the stories to each other. After awhile, the leaders were able to sit back and watch the myth work like a wild-fire, devouring anything amendable to reasonableness.
The play descends into hell as these God-ordained leaders substitute theology for ideology, and come to actually believe in the stories they have created. The point Miller makes as hundreds hang from the gallows is this: it’s not reality that we believe in; it’s the stories about reality that we believe in. And these stories are powerful enough to make us believe we have the right to torture, persecute, and ultimately kill (aka bomb, bomb, bomb) in God’s name.
What’s tragic then, as personified in John Proctor’s character, is that when a minority of people refuse to fall under the spells of such silver-tongued wizards, they become the perfect antagonist for the stories that the myth-makers are telling. Thus the John Proctor’s of the world get cast as the “enemy of God”. And so for those like John Proctor, who represent grounded-reality folk, who represent the prophetic voice, who represent the voice from the margins, who represent the Church as the Conscience to the State (as opposed to the Masters of the State or the Servants of the State) – they get what tends to happen to minorities, prophets, those who live on the fringes – they get shunned, branded, vilified, demonized and ultimately silenced. It happened to Isaiah. To Amos. To John the Baptist. To Jesus. To Peter. To Paul. To Martin Luther King Jr. To Oscar Romero. To Dietrich Bonhoeffer. And so many more. And it still happens today.
Sometimes I wonder if there are enclaves of evangelicals who are like the Salem denizens – drugged victims of a mythology, ignorant cogs in a industrial-military-machinery, who believe in a reality that is a gross parody of the way things really are. Just ask most evangelicals what their eschatology is, for example, and you’ll probably sense what I’m getting at. What you’ll get an ear full of is not theology but mythology, a boilerplate version of The Left Behind series, where the “us” (those who think and believe like us) get raptured up to heaven and the “them” (anyone who doesn’t think like or believe the things we do) get left to suffer the wrath of God. Ultimately this version of the biblical story tends to leverage our fear of losing power, which then fuels our desire to preserve the status quo, which then involves ultimately keeping the powerful in power to take away that fear, which ultimately then gives those in power the ability to pass policies that involves raping the earth, feeding our addiction to oil, making the rich richer, borrowing billions from China, torturing our enemies (thus making us like them), bombing and killing the innocent, and doing nothing to truly end extreme poverty in third world countries. I mean really, what’s the point of re-arranging the lawn chairs on the Titanic if it’s all going to sink anyway, right? If the story ends with the total annihilation of all things created, as opposed to the total restoration of all things, then what’s the point?Religion then, as Karl Marx famously points out, becomes the opiate of the en masse. We are drugged into living passively for the afterlife and not actively for this life. Rather than engaging the problems and seeking to put the world back to rights, we instead seek to escape the problems and demand our rights to keep the world just the way it is – titled to our advantage.
By writing this, I know that I may be putting my neck in the noose like John Proctor. But is it worth sticking my neck out? That’s what I asked my Juniors at the end of class today. Was John Proctor’s sacrifice worth it? Was his death heroic? Or pathetic?
I leave that question for you to explore. As for me I’m wanting to learn how to be brave. Ironically I find it is easier to be brave with those who aren’t Christians than it is with those who are. Why is that? I’m not sure. But it’s because I love my evangelical brothers and sisters, and it’s because I want to honor my evangelical roots, that I ask them to humble themselves before God with me and seek His face and His truth with all their being. My critique comes from within as an evangelical. It’s a lovers quarrel, really.
So I say, Absolutely! It’s worth the risk. Because I am trying to live deliberately by another story. Not the story of domination. Not the story of revolution. Not the story of purification. Not the story of victimization. Not the story of isolation. Not the story of accumulation. But the story of restoration – the story of heaven crashing into earth and making all things new. This is the story I seek first and foremost. This is the story I have been summoned up into, which is the story of Jesus launching a project to put the world back to rights, to reconcile heaven and earth, to usher in a never-ceasing age of shalom (Isa. 11).
For some while I’ve believed that the most revealing political show on television is, without a doubt, Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” on cable television’s Comedy Central. At first blush, this is an absurd statement to make. The Daily Show is, after all, a comedy show on a comedy channel hosted by a long running comedian. But Jon Stewart’s wit and intellect, coupled with the show’s ability to strip issues to their core and reveal the underlying truth (often through parody and exaggeration) is a one-of-a-kind gem. Though occasionally criticized – probably fairly – for leaning a bit left of center, the show owns no set allegiance and is quick to shine it’s revealing light on topics sensitive to political ideologues of either side. Case in point… his “Working Stiffed”skit poking hypocritical fun at a Union in Nevada.
Beyond commentary on daily political events, The Daily Show is also a serious production with serious guests covering a long string of serious topics. Republicans and Democrats alike wait in line to be interviewed by Jon, as well as major scientists, entertainers and authors. Heck, in a two-week period Jon featured lengthy and thoughtful one-on-one interviews with both Condolezza Rice and Barrack Obama.
Why does the show draw such political opposites? One reason only: it’s fair. In between his often hilarious side jaunts and quick witted friendly jabs and instant self-deprecation, Jon asks real questions and allows his guests the courtesy and time to give serious and developed answers. In a world where cable networks have joined sides, run to the fringe and focused on sound bites or hyperbole, The Daily Show is a small breath of fresh air; it tackles serious topics, allows for details and nuance, and wraps it all up in highly entertaining edgy irreverence.
So when Jon announced on a recent show that he was going to hold a Rally To Restore Sanity on the DC lawn, an obvious play on Glenn Beck’s Rally To Restore Honor that had taken place in the same location a few weeks earlier, I was searching airline prices within minutes. When his Comedy Central colleague Stephen Colbert, in his own show immediately following Jon’s, announced a simultaneous and competing “Rally To Keep Fear Alive” … I knew I had to go. This event immediately appeared to be this generation’s Woodstock for mildly disenchanted but fun-loving and optimistic middle of the road pacifists. How can you possibly say no to that?
So with that, my airline tickets were purchased and on the late afternoon of Friday, October 29th, I was on my way to DC for a rapid fire two-day trip to enjoy the Rally on the 30th. With a late arrival on the 29th I just grabbed a cheap hotel, but the following morning I got together with my friend and former Normanite, Allison Smith, her son, and her fiancée John. We started the day out at a great local breakfast Diner and then headed toward the Mall. This turned out to be a great place to have the advice of locals, because they knew where to catch a bus and roll right to the Lawn trouble-free. I heard many reports later of a completely jam-packed Metro system, and some of my friends had trouble even getting there.
Fortunately for us, we made it to the rally just in time and found…the biggest crowd I’ve ever been part of in my life! Size counts eventually put the crowd at 250,000 making it the largest DC rally this year by a factor of approximately 3. Clearly Jon and Stephen had struck a chord with this event. So, we tried our best to make it near the stage on 3rd street, or at least to the satellite stage on 5th street. 7th street was as far as I got, and I also got completely separated from Allison and John in the process!…something we all thought might happen. Fortunately we had a meetup plan for later.
Being four full blocks from the stage, you’d think there might be room for comfort.
Every once in a while I could move a half-step; most of the time I could not. It was truly a can of sardines. I could only catch an occasional glimpse of the video screen, and had to wonder about the people behind me – the crowd extended for another four full blocks. A few brave souls even took to tree climbing for a better view, which allowed me the opportunity to catch this wonderful video of some dude climbing a truly difficult tree. It was painful to watch. Catch the crowd with their impromptu “Yes You Can! Yes You Can!”. Awesome.
After a solid two and a half hours of fun, Jon took the stage to make a more serious speech. Jon’s a comedian, and consequently is a pretty silly guy most of the time. But every so often he gets serious. One of the finest “serious moments” was his appearance on CNN’s Crossfire a few years ago. Recruited to come on the show, be funny, and talk about The Daily Show – he decided to do anything but. Instead he took the show to task HARD, and flipped in on it’s lid. (click here for a video link) One week later, in a classic television moment, the show was cancelled! Another time on The Daily Show he took liberal financial expert James Cramer to the carpet for his role in hyper-sensationalizing serious financial topics right up to the brink of the 2008 meltdown. So though it’s a rare occurrence, it’s not unheard of for Jon to show a serious side.
Jon’s speech lasted about 15 minutes, and had a few spectacular lines. My favorites… “If we amplify everything, we hear nothing”… and, “We live in hard times, not end times.” His point of it all seemed to be that times are tough, but people are good and resilient. The noise is just noise, no matter what cable news channels say, and the overwhelming majority of Americans are good people that work hard and together every day. (link to full video and transcript) Ultimately the crowd in attendance was plenty of proof of Jon’s point. After the speech a mood of happiness took over for the next several hours as the crowd hung out and slowly drifted away.
At this point I found Allison and John again and we just took in the atmosphere – taking lots of pictures, including tons and tons of rally signs. The photo gallery below contains my favorites, and here’s a precious video of Allison’s son learning how to dance to an impromptu trash can and bottle drummer.
So what was the point of the rally? I believe it was, more than anything, simply a demonstration that in a world that sometimes seems to have gone mad, things in reality are pretty normal. When 250,000 people of all ages, shapes, races, persuasions, and size decide to come together for a celebration of civility our national situation must not be as bad as the TV and radio seem to want us to believe. As for Jon himself, I’ve concluded that he’s a bit of Mark Twain character for our generation. A great author, funny man, and somewhat liberal observer of a mankind. I’m glad we have him around.
So it was a wonderful weekend. A nice Ethiopian meal and breakfast at the same Diner capped off the weekend and before I knew it I was flying home happy. Many thanks to Jon and his 250,000 friends, and to my two friends Allison and John for a great weekend that I’ll never forget.
Let’s finish up with a photo gallery!
Click any image for a larger view, and to enter a slide presentation format.
John and Stephen Pumpkinized
I am Woman hear me … speak clearly and succinctly while also acknowledging your opposing point of view
I many not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your … ow! Quit curb stomping me!
What do we want? MORE SANITY! When do we want it! MORE SANITY!
I must be dyslexic, my Rights Left.
Things are pretty OK.
Don’t tread on me … and get the ?#!% off my lawn!
Met this nice guy on the bus. He was bummed he missed the rally, but told me he liked my camera.
Washington Monument over changing trees.
The gorgeous doors to the Department of Justice.
Patriot and national hero Nathan Hale.
No guns in Theaters.
I really need a hug from a girl.
Drum Circle on Wheels!… with a sail.
National Gallery of Art
National Gallery of Art
“I made out with Her”—> (as my friend Allison patiently poses for the camera)
Join, or Don’t.
Bad Spy from Spy vs Spy demasked… meets cute American Eagle.
It doesn’t get more American than that haircut!
Allison gets interviewed.
I could really go for a Glenn Beck grilled cheese about now.
I am the silent majority … can you hear me now?
My fear ate your flying spaghetti monster.
Rally with Capitol in back.
Two things Americans hate: 1) Paying Taxes 2) Giving up things our taxes pay for
Spy vs Spy meets Waldo
I DETEST people who HATE
Spy vs Spy
No, seriously. Ninja Squirrel!
Old Maids 4 Sanity
Hide yo wife. Hide yo kids. Hide yo husbands. Cuz jihadist bedbugs are terrorizin’ e’rbody.
The world is Nuanced; get used to it.
This picture brings back the happy memories.
Open Minds (no fear)
“Free Bad Advice” … from kids sitting on a porta-potty. Who could say no to that?
Let’s use our indoor voices.
Hitler is Hitler.
media on the mall
Be Sane, not Inane.
Take it down a notch for America. I like pie.
We’re here! We’re steer! Get used to it!
Exaggerated Hyperbole – Stop This Bickering – Vote Moderate
Support The Right To Arm Bears – Bears With Guns
9/11 was an OUTSIDE job
End The Now!
Jesus on a traffic light
Bacon for All! Regardless of ability to pay.
More Tree Peeps
Americans for …oh, look – a puppy!
I hate crowds.
SANITY – Seeking All Non-negative Individuals To Yunite (the Y is silent)
Expected to wear something to work or a party? Here are my very best ideas for last minute super cheap costumes:
For Men ~
Cereal Killer: Wear your every day wardrobe, carry around a box of cereal that’s been maimed. Add fake blood.
Arthur Dent: Wear your bathrobe (wear sweats underneath!) and carry around a tea-cup. Look confused…
Ghost Hunter: Wear sweats and a hoodie, carry around an old remote control, wave it around while talking about *EMF fields.
Your Mother: Embrace it. Say all the things she says. Wear the dorky clothes she wears; borrow an outfit from her if you can. Just be sure not to make the parody too close or she’ll never forgive you.
80’s Girl: You know you want to…good thing they still make Aqua-Net. Embarrass everyone around you, it’ll be great! Bonus points for attempting a “Cyndi Lauper.”
Cat, mouse, dog, or other animal: Cut out said animal’s ears from construction paper and tape it to a headband. Wear whatever you want and pin a tail to your butt. Growl, snarl, hiss, etc. at anyone who says you’re not wearing a “real costume.” The sell is all in the threat of rabies; be sure to look a little mad.
I’ve always wanted to be part of a flash mob. “Always” meaning since the first time I saw a video of one on the internet.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, the phrase “flash mob” could sound more than a little intimidating. And in fact, they can be. Here is a video of the mob that first caught my attention (CLICK PHOTO TO VIEW VIDEO):
I saw the video two years ago. And subsequently, for two years (which apparently translates into “always” in my brain) I have wanted to be part of a flash mob.
I had no idea how to go about becoming part of one. I’ve never really sought out the opportunity. “Did anyone do something like that here in Oklahoma?” I wondered. Of course not. My self-talk always hit a brick wall and I’d move on to other more tangible thoughts.
On Wednesday morning of last week I opened the browser on my computer completely unsuspecting…and then it happened. Someone had invited me to be in a flash mob. I clicked the link to the Facebook event not really knowing what to expect. Very few details were on the page. The invitation provided the day and time, and that was all.
Did I want to RSVP? Yes. Could I? Should I? These questions were harder to answer. I didn’t know where to begin. I began to go through “the checklist;” it’s a little bit like momma autopilot – you can’t really even think about committing to anything without going through the checklist first.
Would I get arrested? Probably not.
If I get arrested, will the other moms stop talking to me? Maybe.
Well, close enough. I clicked the little button and now I was “attending” as far as Facebook was concerned. I was the seventh person to RSVP and once I did, more details showed up. They wanted 150 people. I couldn’t decide if this was good or not. That’s a LOT of people and a little more than intimidating. I calmed myself by thinking “Well, I’m only number seven. Maybe they won’t get enough to participate.” But by the end of the day they had nearly one hundred people signed up. The flash mob was going to happen.
On Saturday morning I found out where I was going but still didn’t know what I was doing. For someone who is a planner down to the bone, this was getting uncomfortable. I recruited my husband to go with me. Surely he would keep me out of trouble, although the thought entered my mind that if we get arrested together nobody will be around to bail me out. I start to wonder if Kelly would be a good person to call from jail. Maybe I could blame this whole ordeal on the blog.
“I wanted to write you a good story…for The Red Dirt Chronicles,” I would start, and wait to gauge the tension of the pause after my soft start-up.
Maybe blaming this on her wasn’t the best approach. I decided that she would definitely be the one to call from jail, however, and I began making what little plans I could.
Saturday night I got the info on “the where, when, and what.” We were going to be at the State Fair…all 150 or so of us, and we were going to fall asleep. I felt like a secret agent. Under my shirt I had the “reveal” shirt they had distributed to us. Our instructions were to fall asleep for 5 minutes, wake up, then take off our top shirts revealing that we were all in the same group. Sounded simple.
I got to the fair, grabbed my special t-shirt and jostled around in the porta-potty trying to put it on – taking great precautions not to allow MY shirt OR my purse touch ANYTHING. This is way easier said than done. You’ve been in a porta-potty, right?
Once I exited the stinky, stinky porta-potty, we walked around for a while when it hit me: Falling asleep…how to you stay asleep for 5 minutes on the midway?! What was I going to do? Five minutes started to sound like a long time…but maybe it was worth it. Maybe.
I got to the pre-appointed place and sat on the curb talking to my husband. I looked around trying to figure out who else was going to do it. I knew that once I was asleep I couldn’t watch anything, and since everyone had their own shirt on over their “secret” shirt…everyone looked normal.
I was part of a group, but not part of a group.
I noticed a few people I had seen while I was receiving my shirt from the coordinator. I covertly nodded in their direction…and they nodded back. I was beginning to feel more at ease; at least I wasn’t the only one doing it. Then I started feeling something else. The alarm on my cell phone was buzzing -it was time to sleep.
I leaned over onto my husband’s shoulders and we slept. I dared not peek, but I could hear the reactions of those around me.
“What is going on here?”
“Is she dead?”
“Oh, there’s a HUNDRED OF THEM!”
“Don’t eat the fried twinkies!!!”…
and, “I wonder what would happen if I tazed one.”
Trying not to react I began focusing on my leg, waiting for it to buzz. Waiting. Waiting. A kid walked up to me – I could feel a human being beside us, but I didn’t look. A kid voice said, “Mom, I think she’s sleeping.” And then the second step happened; my alarm went off again. It was time to wake up. I sat up, rubbed my eyes and revealed my blue shirt. I looked around. There were a LOT of blue shirts. I felt like part of something important…and silly. Mostly silly.
Suddenly I was an instant celebrity. Okay, maybe not so much. Lots of people came up to me (read 3 or 4) and asked what happened. One woman said she began to panic until she realized a lot of people were sleeping and then she was just confused.
The cops showed up, the cameras came out, and the people around us laughed a little. That was the end. All this over 5 minutes of confusion and a few funny comments. The whole process was fun, and then it was over.
If you want to be in a flash mob, email me. I know about one next month. We won’t, however, be sleeping this time.