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IMG_5813There is an amazing engineering feature in Houston.  It is called the Buffalo Bijou.  This is a creek for most of its existence, meandering from downtown Houston due West and into the region of Katy.

Katy is my home town and the Buffalo Bijou is familiar to me and my fellow residents.  We appreciate this cavernous grassy canyon snaking through our community because it is a constant reminder that it is ready to take away the deluge of water that visits our part of Texas several times a year.

When there is no rain and the weather has no prediction of precipitation, I along with my fellow Texans overlook this massive amount of real estate.  Green grass lines the banks of this very large creek and overpasses allow traffic to flow unimpeded.  But, it is always ready.

Most of the year a small creek travels through this piece of land.  The slow-moving waters do not cut much of a trail through the dirt.  Most adults could easily leap over the creek without much effort.

I bicycle along this body of water and marvel at its great expanse.  For miles my bicycle wheels roll along the cement trail that lines one of its banks.  Several times I cross a bridge to keep my journey going.

But, then there are those storms, those Texas-sized storms that drench our home with lots of water.  Drains, and canals flow into the Buffalo Bijou.  It comes quickly and flash flood warnings dominate the airwaves to keep people away from flooded areas.

Torrents of water turn a normally calm creek bed into a raging river.  In a short period of time a calm quiet creek fills up that entire flood plain and muddy waters threaten to lap against the massive concrete bridges that gives people safe passage over the rising waters.  I paused for a picture and to marvel at what makes people feel so small and helpless.

When God turns on the spillway of the heavens and stalls the weather front to hold a pattern over Houston, we hunker down and hope for the best.  Neighbor encourages neighbor.  It is the way of the image of God seeping through the desperation of men who find themselves in need of a helping hand.

Good engineers designed a lot of Houston to weather such moments.  I am grateful to those very good planners who looked beyond the pleasant sunny days.  Their planning for these occasional horribly rainy days has given me peace.  I thank God for them!

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

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I love what I do not do: dance!  Yeah, of all the reality shows I enjoy peeking in on Dancing with the Stars.  Cheryl is my favorite pro.

But, so many of the pros are amazing.  Their ability to take their life long craft and teach rank amateurs how to move on the dance floor is amazing.  Just the teaching skills and gifts that the professionals have is fun to watch.

As an educator, I like the clips of the dancers learning a new dance.  The tough moments, disappointments, humor and joy of getting it right are all of the dynamics that we teachers experience when we pass on knowledge and skills to our students.

The glitz is there.  There is showmanship on every turn.  All three judges are very good at what they do.

Len, Carrie Ann and Bruno keep adding the details of what dance is all about as the show goes on.  The celebrities show personality and tenacity to overcome the difficult.  Even though I don’t dance a step I have watched enough to get a feel for which stars are long-termers and which ones are biding their time to make an exit.

Drama in the eliminations is always filled with drum rolls, musical crescendo and announcers’ timing are the producer’s edge.  They are balanced between advertisements.  The crowd jumps in with gusto.

Sure, Len gets a lot of boos.  Carrie Ann and Bruno keep the cheers and laughter going.  All three know so much about dance and I learn a lot from listening to them.

No, I don’t publish pictures of the cast.  Some, thankfully very very few, don’t like it when skin is showing.  For me, I love the movement, the fun, the energy and the partnership between the dancers. 

Live music adds to the show.  It is spicy when it needs to be, dynamic when power pushes the steps and melodic when smooth gentle lines of posture helps the dancers glide across the floor.

One of my favorite parts of the show are numbers where the pros strut their stuff with their fellows.  It is amazing what they can do.  They show how artistry and athleticism blend into one.

I really missed out in my past with a voluminous hole where I never learned how to dance.  The past can’t be changed and the present is way too close to hurting myself if I try to move like them.  I wiggle my toes some during the show.  Surely that counts!

Yeah, I’m kinda embarrassed.  The first half of the television finished up at the end of the calendar year.  The critics published their opinions of the shows of the Fall but they did not match with mine.

Before I ever saw the reviews, I made my choices.  There are only two shows that I watched regularly.  Both of them happened to be on Monday night.

None of them are comedies.  Nor are either of them reality shows.  Those are two genres that I avoid.

I  never have made a move to include animated shows in my adult life.  There aren’t any game shows on my list either.  Admittedly, I will check on some of contest shows when they get close to the quarterfinals.

Dancing with the Stars is fun.  So is the Sing Off.  When Idol gets toward the end I like to catch up and see what’s happening.

But, during the Fall season I liked to watch Terra Nova.  What attracted me to it is a bit of a mystery.  None of my family or friends saw what I saw.  Weird.

Yes, I do like Hawaii 50.  It started off a little cheesy from a plot perspective but the characters are terrific.  Besides, seeing Asians in starring roles has a kind of special attraction to me.  Surprise!

But, it is the Terra Nova show that has me a bit chagrined.  The critics not only ignore it but take serious shots at it in their end of the season reviews.  Not did the critics like other shows, they declared this one as one of the ten worst.  Ugh! 

That means that it might not make it back for a second season.  The critics seem to have some pull with the network executives.  Someone up there that I don’t know calls the shots.

Maybe I’ll never know what happens next.  Oh, well, they cut themselves off from the future by blowing up the portal back to the future.  Now, they will survive in the past in the pristine world so close to when it was all created in the first place.

Just for fun I called up the menu identifying the most popular TV shows.  None of them are on my list.  I guess I’ll check the TV listings and watch Fess Parker in the title role of Daniel Boone.  Does anyone want to join me?

photo credit: google image

We were directed to our seats just in time to tease our neighbors who were munching on popcorn. Settling in was easy, the stage was close at hand and the view of the auditorium was excellent.  From our first entry we took in the details of the stage.

Close to curtain time the spotlights went on but not on the stage.  Rather powerful flood lights zeroed in on a comically dressed and goofy acting wild hair guy.  He was guiding guests to their seats.

He led them on a circuitous route, crowding already seated guests to the growing laughter of the audience.  There was a never-ending list of options that he used to grow attention under the lights.  Popcorn flew, guests laughed heartily, two were even led up to the stage, crossed it to applause and finally, was chased away by another actor.

The entire room came alive.  Taiko drummers dropped from the ceiling, rose up from the floor, descended to the center stage from all directions.  It was rhythmic and thunderous.  Percussion gives a rush like few other sounds can.

Athleticism and art form were blended into a production that is astounding.  The circus during my childhood wasn’t anything like this.  This extravaganza was amazing.

How can a human scamper up a pole as easily as spider climbs a wall?  Tumbling and contortions were mainstays in this show.  The image of God in all people is wonderfully creative.

The music and costuming were brilliant.  How could someone even think of all of this?  Once the thought had been born, how could anyone keep track of all that is going on? 

Movement set to music was the center of this entertainment.  Life as a mystery was the theme.  All of it blended together in breathtaking demonstration.

Humor was sprinkled throughout the show.  A big little baby girl won our ooh’s.  We laughed at her.

Audience participation could have been plants.  If they were, they were very convincing.  That added to the fun throughout the night.

Artists not only kept the action moving, the stage joined in on the movement.  Multi-sections of the stage would move up and down, round and round to add to the coordination of each phase of the show.  It was amazing.

Dance used to be what people do to have fun.  Here it is to demonstrate what humans can do to make it art in action.  I was blown away.

photo credit: google image

At 9PM Yvonne announced, “Dancing with the Stars is on right now.”  Quickly she and I cleared the dinner table and loaded the dishwasher.  We stored our leftovers and surprisingly relaxed in the Living Room just in time to see the beginning of the show.

This was a results show.  We tried to be objective but it was too late.  Both of us picked the couple that would be leaving with an uncanny accuracy for the past several rounds.

This was a special show.  It would identify the final three couples that would dance for the finals.  One of these three couples would win the coveted mirror ball trophy.

My favorite pro dancer was in the top four.  I hoped that she and her partner would make it through to the finals.  She’s been there before.

Her name is Cheryl Burke.  I don’t remember her partners over the years.  But, she seems to have an amazing ability to teach her partner how to dance.

Her teaching is more than just moving to music.  It’s her love of dance that is also clearly translated.  You can’t be a champion just by learning the steps to make.

Dancing has soul, grace and passion.  Cheryl can do it all.  She hits the floor and amazes with how she moves, how she interprets the music and the radiance of enjoying the art of dance.

She won the second contest of Dancing with the Stars.  Then, she made history by being the first to win two championships on this reality show.

No she hasn’t won the most championships.  But, her inspiration to her partners has amassed 2nd, 3rd, two 4th’s, a 5th, 6th, 7th, 10th and 13th.  That is a consistency that is amazing.

During the show they often show tape of the couples rehearsing during the previous week.  Carefully, Cheryl teaches her partner how to dance.  She is precise, enthusiasm and patience. 

In the very early stages you can sense the amateur’s anxiety, self-consciousness and awkwardness.  Cheryl never dumps on them but leads them, encourages them and show them how they can not just succeed but enjoy their entry into the world of dance.

Perhaps the best commentary on Cheryl’s success occurred during the current show.  Her partner zoomed to new heights in his dance.  After a strong approval by the judges, he exclaimed, “I love to dance!”   She responded perfectly, “I love to dance too!” Go Cheryl!

photo credit: google image

 The show was the only one going on in town.  We did not pick it, it sort of picked us.  Neither of us knew much about it.

Our hotel concierge highly recommended it.  She apologized for Brad Paisley, Reba McIntyre or David Copperfield.  They were not in town for our vacation but we would enjoy Hairspray.

We enjoyed a delicious meal with the show.  That combination of dinner with a show is a great way to make a vacation fun.  Now, we joined a good number of others who wanted to fill their evening with a live musical.

This Broadway show comes with a long list of awards and enthusiastic reviews.  It boasts 8 Tony awards.  That alone should have captured my attention but I was oblivious.

The story is set in Baltimore in 1962.  The 50’s had a culture value that is being pushed out.  Now was the time for Tracy Turnblad to follow her passion in life and make a difference.

Tracy is a big girl, plus size.  Like her mom, they both feel the pinch of their large girth but still have dreams that are suppressed underneath.  They are real people no matter what the opinion of others might be.

At the heart of this story is the ugliness of judgmental meanness hurts but huge hearts can overcome.  Not only can prejudice against size be overwhelmed but bias against race can as well.  Surface issues are just that, superficial.

Tracy is driven by her desire to dance.  She becomes a teen sensation by landing a spot on a local TV dance show.  Once overlooked, she is now a celebrity. 

Her success forces her to face the nasty reigning princess, brings teen heart-throb Link Larkin into her life and help break the integration barrier for her community.  That is a lot of social pressure to bring to bear on the stage in a mere 90 minute episode.  But, sparkling songs, raucous humor, silly sidebars, energetic choreography, hilarious characters and history’s lessons make it all come alive.

Penny is Tracy’s true blue best friend.  She is dorky and clumsy.  Her transformation into an attractive young woman is the effect of love. 

Can the highly charged issues of people shutting out other people just because they look different really be brought out in the open and elevated to heroic levels?  Hairspray makes it happen in a fun, enthusiastic and thought-provoking show.  Social injustice, watch out!

photo credit: google image

Sunday evening was very cool.  I was excited to start on an adventure with good friends.   Maybe I twisted too quickly getting out of his car.  Moving from the warm car into the cool evening air may have been too much of a contrast.  Pain shot through my left hip.

I grimaced.  Do you suck in the air through your teeth when agony sneaks up and bites you too?  But, I didn’t let my friends know.  No use being a baby about a little discomfort.

The more that I stomped around in the woods, the worse the pain became.  Rest would have made sense but our journey West knew only a limited amount of opportunity before we were called back home and into the office.

Every day I popped pain pills and carried out the woodsmanship that we had planned for an entire year.  Both hips were sore.  On top of that my back was beginning to ache. 

Back problems are no fun.  They ruin everything. I was disappointed that my slow movements were escalating

If the pain persisted I knew that i would have to go and see my doctor.  Lots of tests would have to be taken and any subsequent diagnosis would not be any fun at all. 

I imagined a prognosis of a few months to live.  Some malady with a name that I couldn’t pronounce would be my undoing.  God was calling me home . . . such heroic morbidity, eh?

Now, ten days later I suddenly remembered.  Walking across a parking lot with groceries in hand my mind pieced together the cause of my pain.  Aren’t such reflective recollections amazing?

A week ago Friday, I was walking the streets of downtown with a good friend. The weather turned soggy and sprinkled enough rain on the sidewalks to get them slick.  Locked into conversation while walking I stepped on to a slick spot, went airborne. 

But, because of my highly trained athletic skills I landed on three appendages with one other reaching for balance.  My friend was very impressed with my recovery.  It was a break dance move of the coolest kind.

That unexpected near-fall was my eventual injury.  The twisting and straining surely tore something that began to surface days later.  At least I wasn’t dying of some rare tropical disease.  While it may not have been break dancing, I did break something.

 

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