Thursday, April 17, 2014

USF Orchestra Professor Gives TEDx Talk: The Gift of Live Musical Performance

University of South Florida School of Music professor Dr. William Weidrich gave a TEDx Talk in March 2013 entitled, "The Gift of Live Musical Performance."

"Why pay for a ticket and sit in a room, when all you have to do is press a button?" In an age where we can access a world of music instantly at our fingertips, the question is presented as to why live performances are still necessary.

Dr. Weidrich is the Director of Orchestra and Associate Professor of Conducting at the University of South Florida's School of Music. I love playing under Dr. Weidrich's baton because he always communicates the passion and meaning of the music in playfully descriptive metaphorical terms, as you'll be able to see in his presentation. It concludes with a performance by USF graduate cello student Oliver Weston. I hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Away Mission 2014 (Tampa, FL)

So, friends! Over the weekend I went to my first Star Trek convention! This was a long time coming. I'm a musician, so it's hard to find a weekend that isn't booked solid. It's the weird thing about never having time to do anything except play the violin (and arguably I only had a free Saturday because I have shoulder tendonitis, but I digress).

The event I went to is called The Away Mission, which is a more local-type convention and not on the same scale as MegaCon or something huge. Here are some photo highlights!!!

1. I met an awesome Klingon.

From left: Me, the Klingon, my husband

2. Leonard Nimoy answered fan questions via Skype.

As you may know, he is retired, so this is super nice of him! He showed us his backyard and his trains! Someone asked, "What brings you the most joy?" and he answered, "My family." His grandson played the guitar as he sang the Elizabethan tune "Maiden Wine" from the Original Series episode "Plato's Stepchildren," which he apparently composed in a weekend.

3. This girl had on the most awesome Uhura costume.

Do you recognize it from the Original Series episode "Mirror, Mirror"?

4. I met some Enterprise senior officers.

The book the guy on the left is carrying is Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, which Spock gave to Kirk as a birthday gift in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. On second look, I think there might at least be a Kirk, a Sulu, and a Saavik in here (and the guy on the right might be Scotty, because I think I remember him speaking to me in a Scottish accent).

5. Kevin Sorbo gave an interesting presentation and Q&A session.

My husband asked him how he got the role for "God's Not Dead." He answered that he read 20 pages of the script and loved the role. He also referred to his book, True Strength: My Journey from Hercules to Mere Mortal—and How Nearly Dying Saved My Life.

6. There was this lady dressed as Grumpy Cat.

And last but certainly not least!!!

7. I met William Shatner and got a photo with him!

Nothing against Picard, but Kirk was the ORIGINAL captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise!

So do you think Hubs and I made the cutest Trekkie couple ever or what?? Weigh in in the comments!

Friday, March 28, 2014

The New "Noah" Movie Isn't Biblical, But It's Still Pretty Good

Tonight my husband and I went to see "Noah" (2014), directed by Darren Aronofsky. I've always said the story of Noah would make a good epic film, so naturally, I wanted to see it despite warnings that it wouldn't be true to the biblical story.

If you think about it, this isn't a story for children. When I read it in the Bible, I don't see a smiling cartoon man with a boat and a rainbow and some giraffes. I see a terrible scene of death where the same people who laughed at Noah for building a boat in the middle of the desert begin clawing at its sides as soon as the rains start. I see the bloody fingernails of mothers trying to save their babies. I see Noah's children angry at him for not saving more people. I see Noah not knowing how to react.

Evidently Aronofsky saw some of that too, because his version of the story isn't as simple as the Sunday School version. People are right when they say a lot of creative liberty was taken: the characters of Noah and his family were developed, there were other supporting characters that don't appear in the Bible story, and even important parts of the plot were changed. But the movie centers around Noah's struggle, which I think is a good thing. What was Noah thinking throughout all of this? Did he doubt that he was really hearing God speak? Did he go crazy after seeing all of those people die?

A few things were notably different or surprising:

  • None of Noah's children are married. Shem has a girlfriend, but she's barren. Much drama ensues as they realize the implications of the death of all mankind.
  • We get to see Noah's good character in his respect for life, but because of the above fact, he is under the impression that his family was chosen only to save the animals and that mankind will not survive. He then becomes totally violent and abusive toward his family while aboard the ark.
  • Tubal-Cain becomes a stowaway aboard the ark and disciples Ham in the ways of violence.

Funniest moment:
Japheth: "Mother! Mother! Snakes!"
Noah's wife (looks at Noah): "The snakes are coming too?"

The world was created good, and then it was destroyed. In the same way, Noah was a good man, but we see him get destroyed by the calamity God brings upon the earth. We see that he is called to shoulder one of the heaviest burdens ever carried by man. We see that sin is still aboard the ark. We understand why Noah decides to get completely and shamefully drunk. We see his family get ripped apart, and then like the earth, it has the opportunity to start again.

Overall, I thought the movie was well done despite the creative liberties taken.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


This weekend I became the last of my friends—and perhaps the last person in America—to see the new Disney movie "Frozen." (Don't judge me!) Anyway, I thought I would offer my thoughts.

First of all, the animation was fantastic and very realistic in many places.

The music is phenomenal, featuring the crystalline singing of Kristen Bell (voice of Anna) and an anthem that resonated with so many people at the movie's release that one could not avoid hearing it everywhere on the Internet. I even downloaded the piano sheet music to "Let it Go" before I even watched the movie (it can be found here).

"Frozen" Director Jennifer Lee became the first woman to direct a movie that grossed over $1B, and she hopes to inspire more women in creative leadership. As a bonus, she wants to direct science fiction. Yes!

"I would love to be the first female director to do a giant sci-fi movie. I have a real love of sci-fi. A pretty obsessive love of sci-fi, actually."

Overall, it was pretty awesome—especially the part about both female characters actually having personalities, and about sisterly love being more important to the story than romantic love.

Highly recommended!

What did you think of the movie? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Should Women Read the Bible at Women's Retreats?

I was reading something recently by a woman invited to a pastors-and-wives retreat who lamented that while the men would study the Bible during breakout classes, the women were scheduled to go antiquing and shopping instead. I must admit, I myself have been frustrated by the lack of Bible study in women's retreats and classes I've been part of. Far too many women's "Bible study" groups are actually just about marriage or parenting advice, not Bible study. (My husband was surprised to learn this, because in his Bible studies they actually read...wait for it...the Bible.)

Why should men's retreats be focused on Scripture and women's retreats be focused on men? Does God really desire for women to not read the Bible? How is this even Christian?

This was the explanation given by the frustrated pastor's wife. I couldn't stop laughing!

And remember, women can't understand the Bible but are better at evangelism...or something.

Am I the only one who has noticed this? Let me know in the comments.
(Bonus: Enjoy what many call The Most Sexist Ad of All Time)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Star Trek VIDEO: A Conversation with Leonard Nimoy

As Star Trek: Into Darkness prepares for its TV premiere tomorrow evening, posted an interview with Leonard Nimoy—Mr. Star Trek himself. Of course, readers of this blog know that I am a huuuuuuge Leonard Nimoy / Spock fan, so I couldn't resist sharing.

Nimoy talks about his experience with the Star Trek franchise from the 1964 pilot ("The Cage") to the present. All of the information is in his book I Am Spock if you are looking to dig deeper.

Side note: "The Cage" was called "too cerebral." Could it have possibly been because of these guys?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

We Need People Who Are "Different"

In a nutshell, I feel some variant of this every day.

The gifs come from the movie "Kiki's Delivery Service," a movie about a witch who turns 13 and goes on the traditional 1-year of living away from home, taking an apprenticeship at a bakery where she uses her broom-flying abilities to deliver pastries. It was one of my favorite movies as a kid because it captured my simultaneous feelings of independence and social rejection.

Turns out, I still have those feelings as an adult. (I mean, I'm a weird nerd who watches Star Trek, wears pearls, and listens to music that is hundreds of years old, and who does that?!?)

I don't fit in anywhere. But that doesn't mean I can't embrace who I am.

Being different means that I am a leader. I often am able to figure things out quicker than my peers because I value thinking for myself over following the crowd. I value wisdom more than I value being accepted. In the professional world, this may mean that I need to brush up on my people skills, but in general I'm pretty satisfied with being different.

If we were all the same—if we all held ourselves back because we're afraid of being rejected—would society ever advance? Would trends ever be set? Would businesses ever be successful? Would anything new and significant be added to the body of knowledge? Would anyone ever really follow the Bible?

We need people who are "different." Without them, the world dies a slow death by the conformity it has chosen to value so highly.