Suzanne's Second Estate

A web log of my thoughts, activities, life....

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I actually decorated for Christmas this year. Yes, I'm pretty proud. Most of this stuff stayed in the boxes last year. Having a teenager in the house motivated me create some Christmas spirit.

New Friends

As we've been preparing for our Northwest tour, the Stick Horses have been living and breathing improv. It's been a good, bonding time. Last week when we were up at the Improv Hootenanny in Denver, we finally met RiP (which stands for "Repertory Improv Players") — the only other known Colorado Springs improv troupe.

I first heard about RiP when I attended a play at the Colorado Springs Repertory Theater last spring. Kaleb, one of the members of RiP, was in the show. I tried (in vain) to track them down. A few weeks ago, I finally discovered them on myspace. And then a week ago we bumped into each other after the Hootenanny.

On Saturday night, RiP member Teddy checked out our show at the Broadmoor, and last night Hunter, Jared and I hit the Hootenanny to see RiP in action. They were great! We're already plotting to combine our talents in a joint show. Making new friends is always exciting. Making new improv friends is even better.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

John Daker: Star of Public Access TV and YouTube

I found this on Justin Taylor's blog and just had to share.

If this is your first experience with John Daker, I highly recommend the Wikipedia article, which states:

In the video, he performs two songs: "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today" and "That's Amore" in a pseudo-operatic voice with various odd and sometimes alarming facial expressions to accompany his vocal stylings. Simply by watching the video, it is difficult to tell if he is embarrassed, truly trying to sing the song, extremely nervous, or slightly inebriated.

Friday, November 24, 2006

I'm Dreaming of a Baby Christmas

My sister-in-law, Anna, (and my brother), are expecting their second child on December 13. I just wanted to share this beautiful pic. I can't wait to meet Baby Aaron.

Picture by Sarah Romanov

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I Heart Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!

For as long as I can remember, I have loved watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I especially like the first hour, which features acts from popular Broadway shows. I have been introduced to some of my favorite shows this way, including "The Secret Garden" and "Wicked." This morning's first hour didn't disappoint with great numbers from "Chorus Line" and "The Color Purple."

Something else that makes this year's parade special is that "my boys," the Jonas Brothers, are singing on a float. I interviewed Nick (center) two years ago for Clubhouse. These guys are very talented (Nick played Gavroche in "Les Miserable" on Broadway) — and evidently big on the Disney Channel — but they also have hearts for God.

Another thing I love to see in the Macy's Parade are the Radio City Rockettes. I had the opportunity to see their show two years ago when I went to New York City to interview Nick. I was just telling someone the other day that when the Rockettes came on stage — wearing their green velvet dresses and kicking in unison — I teared up. It was just so visually stunning! I highly recommend catching the show if you ever have the opportunity.

Well, the Sesame Street float just went by. This is about the time I lose interest and move on to other holiday festivities. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Need to Thank

I love this passage from "Long Journey Home" by Os Guinness:

In 1892 Gilbert Keith Chesterton had entered the Slade School of Art in London as an eighteen-year-old student. The end-of-the century world of art was swirling with decadence and cynicism. A pessimism he called “the black creed” and “starless nihilism” was the rage, and Chesterton himself was drawn to the macabre and the occult.

But one thing held him back — what he described later as a “thin thread of thanks,” a sort of “mystical minimum of gratitude.” Bursting with gratitude for the gift of life, he woke up to wonder. He then set out to research for a philosophy of life that would allow him to be deeply realistic and yet “enjoy enjoyment” too.

More specifically, he was startled by the simple wonder of the existence of ordinary things, such as a common dandelion. Thinking it over, he noted that “even mere existence, reduced to its mere primary limits, was extraordinary enough to be exciting.

Have you ever felt that gratitude for existence? A wonder to be alive when wiggling your toes in the sand, hearing the breeze in the trees, or seeing a dewdrop on a rose? Has it ever struck you that no natural things create or sustain themselves? All of them, including you and me and the entire universe, owe their existence to something else? But to what or whom?

Experiencing at least occasionally a sheer gratitude to be alive seems to be almost universal. Moreover, as a signal of transcendence, gratitude for being alive is not a proof but a pointer. It’s an intuition, not a settled conviction. It creates a searcher, not a believer. But as Dante Gabriel Rossetti said, “The worst moment for an atheist is when he is genuinely thankful but has nobody to thank.” Or as Chesterton expressed it, “If my children wake up on Christmas morning and have someone to thank for putting candy in their stocking, have I no one to thank for putting two feet in mine?”

I am thankful for so much this year: my health, my family, my friends — and most of all for a great God and Savior. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Something to Learn from Paris Hilton?

Who knew a blog entry about Paris Hilton could be so insightful? Responding to an article published in the City Journal, Roberto Rivera of The Point says:

The entire piece is worth reading. Two more nuggets: first, there wasn't supposed to be a Paris Hilton, in the sense that she was never supposed to be rich enough to be this useless.

Second, as Hymowitz concludes: "Paris Hilton may be a composite of contemporary American sins, but hating Paris Hilton is another thing entirely. It’s a sign of lingering cultural sanity."

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Go, Bucks, Go!

This is my first post about sports ever, but I must show solidarity with my dear old dad and his alma mater. According to the Ohio State University Web site:

ESPN has called the Ohio State/Michigan game the greatest rivalry in sports history — and for good reason. The competition is so fierce that some historians think it's a carryover of the Toledo War, a 19th century boundary dispute between the states of Ohio and Michigan. The teams have played since 1897 — once, in a Horseshoe so snowy the game was nicknamed the "Snow Bowl."

In an e-mail my uncle sent yesterday, he wrote, "People here in Columbus are going nuts as you might imagine. There are lines out the door and down the street of the Buckeye stores."

ESPN columnist Ivan Maisel writes:

All you need to know is this: Everything you have ever heard about the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry is true.

  • It is true that the late Ohio State coach Woody Hayes, who did more to pump up the negative feelings in the rivalry than any man, refused to fill up his car in the state of Michigan.

  • It is true that in 1950, the teams played through a blizzard with 29 inches of snow and more than 50,000 fans sat through it. Michigan's Chuck Ortmann punted 24 times, and the Wolverines won 9-3, despite failing to make a first down. Buckeyes coach Wes Fesler quit a few days later. Ohio State hired the little-known Hayes away from Miami (Ohio).

  • It is true that Hayes sometimes bunked his team in Toledo on the night before a game in Ann Arbor so the Buckeyes could sleep on Ohio ground.

  • It is true that, by state law, the Franklin County (Ohio) Board of Elections is supposed to begin counting the provisional ballots cast in this month's 15th Congressional District race on Nov. 18. Rep. Deborah Pryce leads challenger Mary Jo Kilroy by 3,536 votes. However, the board will not begin to count the votes until Nov. 19 so that the counters may watch the Ohio State-Michigan game.

  • It is true that the lowest-priced ticket available on StubHub on Thursday, for a seat on the corner of the end zone, on the 41st row of the upper deck, would have set you back $530. Binoculars extra.

"Legends are made in this game," Ohio State senior guard T.J. Downing said this week. "Every guy knows they have a chance to go down in the record books and make history."

Kick-off is at 3:30 p.m. I may actually tune in. Go, Bucks, Go!

Friday, November 17, 2006

How Excited Are We?

After months of planning, Stick Horses in Pants will be hitting the dusty trail Dec. 1-4 on our first ever tour. And we're going to the beautiful Pacific Northwest! If you're in the area, come check us out.

Friday, December 1, 7 p.m. at Brush Prairie Baptist Church in Vancouver, Washington. Cost is $5.

Saturday, December 2, 7 p.m. at 7th Street Theater in Hoquiam, Washington. Free admission. We will also be giving a daytime performance for Hoquiam's "Welcome Santa" event.

Sunday, December 3, 7 p.m. at Clatskanie High School auitorium in Clatskanie, Oregon. Free admission.

Many thanks to my dad, brother and sister who have all worked extremely hard to make this tour possible!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Where Have All the Friends Gone?

I posted this on the Line a few days ago, but I've been thinking about it ever since.

In "Look at All the Lonely People," Christianity Today considers the decline of friendship in American society. The article begins:

In Norman Rockwell's classic 1943 painting, "Freedom from Want," an extended family is gathered around the table to celebrate a holiday feast. Fast-forward 63 years to Thanksgiving 2006 and — while lack of food is still a problem for too many in this land of plenty — you are much more likely to find want of a different kind. More and more Americans are starving for significant relationships.

The article highlights a study published by the American Sociological Review that shows a "remarkable drop in the size of people's core network of confidants — those with whom they could talk about important matters." Twenty-five percent of Americans reported having no confidants at all — up from 10 percent in 1985. The article relates this trend to the decrease of marriage:

Perhaps the same thing that is sabotaging marriage is undermining friendship: our increasing unwillingness to commit to relationships that require sacrifice, mutual accountability, and a generous share of humility. That refusal is often not so much willful as fearful.

People may fear the commitment friendship entails, but they remain fascinated with it. The long-standing popularity of TV programs such as Cheers, Friends, and now Grey's Anatomy — which portray the lives of people in multilayered friendships — signals that fascination.

The article ponders what it might take for the church to hold that same fascination for a lonely culture. Reaching the lost, the article concludes, may be as simple as being a friend. Perhaps it's being a friend that is not so simple.

I'm thankful that I have a healthy number of confidants. But this article made me reconsider the nature of my online relationships, such as those on myspace. As fun as online "friends" can be, deeper, face-to-face relationships should not be neglected.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Musician in the Making

My nephew Ben (front) plays piano with his friend Josh.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Music City

I spent this weekend with my friend Terah in Nashville. Terah used to live in Colorado, but moved back to the South about four years ago. We did the things we do best. We shopped, ate at some of the cool restaurants, watched a few movies, went to a hockey game (this is Terah's specialty, not mine) and walked around downtown.

Our gallavanting took us to the Pancake Pantry, a local hang-out for hungry people and celebrities. We also received a full tour of Randall House Publishers where I've submitted some of my plays.

This morning we ate brunch at Noshville. Terah and I were attempting to take a self-portrait when a kind bystander took pity on us and snapped the picture above.

And what could be more natural in the center of Music City than the Nashville Parthenon? It was built in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, and Nashvillians became strangely attached to it. It really is a sight to behold.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Oh, Christmas Tree!

In the "How did I miss this???" category, the Associated Press reported Nov. 2 that this year's Capitol Christmas Tree came from my hometown:

ABERDEEN, Wash. The Christmas tree chosen for the lawn of the U-S Capitol will soon embark on its cross-country journey.

The 65-foot Pacific silver fir was cut down yesterday in the Olympic National Forest in Washington state.

Evidently the tree is on a "festive road tour" around the state of Washington, stopping by such unexpected locations as Forks and Walla Walla. "So everyone can kiss it for good luck?" I asked my dad today. One cool thing is that the tree's 3,000 ornaments were created by Washington school children.

Anyway, Aberdeen isn't known for much, so I wanted to point out this moment of glory. It's right up there with Tom Cruise's May visit. I just hope the tree is still alive by the time is reaches the White House.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Challies on Ted Haggard

Most of you have probably heard of the scandal taking place in my own backyard. The coming to light of Pastor Ted Haggard's sexual misconduct and drug use has been shocking and disheartening. My heart was heavy all weekend. Tim Challies posted an insightful response to the scandal on his blog. Tim writes:

If we look to Ted Haggard as a representative of all that is wrong in Evangelicalism, I think we miss the most important lesson. The lesson we need to learn is that we are every bit as sinful and fallible and willful and depraved as Haggard; perhaps more so. It is only the grace of God that, like a spider being held over the flame by a nearly-invisible web, prevents me from giving in to all the sin that is in me and being dragged down by it. Oh, that He would continue to extend this grace! And oh, that I would take heed lest I, too, fall, for what is in Haggard is in me.

This affair, though painful, provides a good opportunity for self-examination. No one is immune to sin. 1 Peter 5:8 gives this reminder: "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." Please pray for Pastor Haggard and his family — and the family of believers everywhere.

HT: The Line

Sunday, November 05, 2006

My First Holiday Cup

As a Starbucks aficionado, I am always delighted when they release their holiday cups. I had my first this morning at the Marriott in Denver; a perfect end to a fun-filled girls' weekend. My friends and I drove up to Denver yesterday and did some shopping at the 16th Street Mall. Then we ate dinner at Maggiano's and saw "The Lion King" at the Buell Theater. The show was breathtaking; if you've seen it, you know what I'm talking about. We spent the night at the Marriott before heading home this morning.... But not before securing my first holiday cup.

The girls

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Unexpected Callings

Hudson Taylor once said: "It matters not how great the pressure is, but where the pressure lies — whether it comes between you and God or drives you closer to His breast."

I have always loved that quote and found comfort in it. And recently, I have been privileged to peek into the lives of several individuals who have allowed their heartaches to drive them closer to the Lord and even birth divine callings.

Today on Boundless, you can read their stories in "Unexpected Callings." Have you ever discovered an unexpected calling? I'd love to hear about it.