Friday, October 10, 2008

No On Prop 8

I tend not to get too political here but there is a very important vote coming up that effects many of my friends, extended family and coworkers. I urge anyone reading this to Vote No on Prop 8.

As most of you know I'm Mormon and that the way I'm voting runs directly counter to the efforts and suggestions of the Church. It puts me in a weird/uncomfortable position but one well worth being in, in my opinion.

Outside of theology the Church is using legal fear to convince people to get involved. They want you to worry that you'll lose your ability to practice your religious as you like, specifically Churches will be forced to marry same-sex couples and Church adoption agencies will be forced let same-sex couples to adopt. There are others (6 in total). I'm posting here the professional legal opinion of an active member of the LDS Church. This article explains why all of the church's legal fears are either unfounded, false or misleading. Please take the time to read it and consider it when placing your vote, a vote that will go down in history no doubt.

The Article.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sigur Ros - As Life Should Be

At 5:00PM Friday night I thought to myself, "I really don't want to get on the train to ride an hour to get crammed into a car with five other people so that we can sit in Friday night rush hour traffic crossing the bay bridge in order to sit in an outdoor amphitheater and get rained on while still fighting off the tail end of a cold."

With that thought in mind I packed a bag full of warm clothes and headed off on my journey. My train trip was cut a little short as Robyn was able to pick me up at an earlier stop. I added the ponchos she had purchased to my bag of warmth and became aware that Robyn wasn't in the best of moods, having had a hard day at work. We arrived at the Santos' home and all piled into their car.

The interesting thing about me and Berkeley is I don't really know anything about it outside of the campus and maybe two or three blocks on each side of campus. And although I'd lived there for two years I'd never actually been to the Greek Theater. I don't think I even realized it was an outdoor theater when I heard its name previously. I always imagined it as a stuffy indoor place where you feel crowded and watched Opera and Symphonies. It's nothing like that (although I'm sure it is a lovely place to watch those two things). The stage looks very, well Greek and the amphitheater is outdoors with evenly spaced rows of concrete to sit on.

We arrived in Berkeley and parked at the Church Institute building. We wrote a note assuring whomever read it that this car indeed belong to Mormons, placed it in the window and walked the few blocks to the theater. We walked past Soda Hall, the CS Building where I spent many sleepless nights, which brought a sweet sense of nostalgia but also the up hill walking while sick quickly brought on a headache. But at least the night air was perfect, there was no breeze and I was able to walk around in a t-shirt without feeling uncomfortable.

Our friend's Brigham and Dan had arrived earlier and saved us some pretty great seats at the bottom of the theater seats which were probably about fifty to a hundred yards back from the stage (the space between us and the stage was all flat and standing room only). The theater seats were great, because unless a giant sat in front of you everyone had a great view of the stage, but at the same time they were incredibly hard.

So there I was, and all I could think was, "this better be good."

Friends, I've been thinking about how to describe this. I'm not sure I can do it justice. Given the hard seats and my headache and the dull annoyance of being sick this still managed to be in my top three concerts. And I wonder had I not been sick would it have been worse or better? I can't say for sure.

There is little doubt about the beauty of their music, which comes off equally well live as it does recorded but in this setting its as if mother nature had come along to the show with us, not to watch but to be a part of it. Like they had orchestrated their set with her.

As they opened up a very light rain, almost more like a mist, washed down upon us. It was as if God wanted to reassure you that he was there but without being to forceful about it. A light touch on the arm, "worry not." The giant trees behind the stage --outside the theater--seemed to sway with the music and even the silent flashing lights of distant airplanes were perfectly in place with the music. Robyn put her hand on my shoulder, warm against the night air, and there was never a more perfect time for that, this is what hands and shoulders were made for. I could see God crafting Adam's body, lovingly creating his shoulder, then stopping and thinking, "Yes, Eve's hand will go here."

I could perhaps ramble on and on about every song they did but I'll spare you, reader, and only dwell on a couple. However the thing about Sigur Ros is I don't know the name of a single one of their songs, the names are all gibberish to me, and I'm no good at describing music so you'll have no clue for the most part what song I'm talking about. But it doesn't really matter, listen to them and you'll know what I mean.

Throughout their set they had a gray or white background draped across the back of the stage. During one particular song they had the gray out and upon it two spot lights played. But they weren't perfectly geometrically shaped lights. They were slightly bean shaped, with fuzzy edges and their shapes changed a little. They maybe even looked a little bit like one cell organisms. They mostly stuck together. In fact at times they would become a single light and the smaller one would slowly try to break away from the larger one, but as it broke away it would get sucked back in or it would become even smaller and almost appear to jump back into the bigger one. It was like a cell trying to split in two, a thing that is one trying to become two, but not wanting to change, to lose that oneness. It was a constant struggle throughout the song: one then two then one then two then one then two then one. And in the end, when the song really picks up steam, they both disappear and from the top of the stage they release thousands of small pieces of reflective material (maybe even bubbles) and turn the strobe lights on. It was as if the two had exploded. Now they were thousands of small brilliant points of light, they'd changed, I don't know for the better or for the worse, but they were no longer two flat lights, they were three-dimensional and everywhere and on everyone.

And speaking of everyone. If you stopped watching the show for a while and looked around at people, wow. The smiles, the happiness, this IS life as it should be.

The rain never actually picked up any steam so it was a dry warm night when they closed their set. But as you know, no set is complete without an encore. And this would prove to be most true tonight. They came back and played the song I've linked in this video:

While their performance wasn't exactly the same it's fairly similar with the lights really going crazy when the music crescendos. But just before that the wind picked up a little, all the confetti they'd dropped from a couple previous songs started to form into small little confetti dust devils. The smell in the air changed and as the music picked up speed and power, rain started to fall, first lightly, then with force and the crowd grew excited and thrilled and it was hard to tell if they were cheering for the band or the rain. And instead of pulling out those ponchos we'd bought earlier, Robyn and I sat there letting it fall on us, she turned her face to the sky and smiled. And it in a word was Perfect.