Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday Song: "The Winter Rose"

I absolutely love singing. I have been in choirs my entire life...except for the past four years. I was sad when life just got to crazy to make time for my favorite pastime. But as I've gotten a tighter grip on what to expect with my job, I decided I needed to make time to sing. After my dear friend Lyndsey joined her local community chorus, I decided to check if there was one in my area. And sure enough, there is and I've been singing with the group ever since.

I am by FAR one of the youngest people in the group, but I don't care. There is just some amazing inner peace I get within myself when I sing harmony in a large group.

One of the pieces we are singing in our holiday concert this Friday is "The Winter Rose." It chills me every time I sing it, and sometimes when I think about the words, I get choked up. The work tells the story of Jesus’ ministry, passion, death and resurrection, however, I believe it can be taken whichever way you like.

I can't find an MP3 online anywhere, but I thought I'd at least share the beautiful lyrics.

The Winter Rose
Joseph Martin

In the silence of the winter,
while stars shown high above,
God sent from heaven's garden,
a rose to show His love.
It opened in the dark of night,
While the world was fast asleep.
So perfect was its beauty,
It made the heavens weep.
The angels paused to wonder,
Upon that winsome sight.
And kings and shepherds gathered
To worship in its light.
They all breathed in its beauty,
A precious sweet perfume.
And in the bleak midwinter
The Rose began to bloom.
O let us now remember
When God put on the thorn.
And Love restored the garden
And the Winter Rose was born.
Oh, Love restored the garden
And the Winter Rose was born.

If you're in the Detroit area and want to check out the concert, here's the details:
Troy Community Chorus presents Joyful and Triumphant -- 30th Anniversary Concert
8 p.m. -- December 5
@Troy Athens High School

Monday, November 24, 2008

Quick Thoughts on the Twilight Craze

I'll admit it, I've entered the "Twilight" zone. I've read the first two books in the acclaimed series and have started on the third. Along the way, I have enjoyed them immensely. They are an easy read and provide the perfect escape at the end of the day when all I want to do is turn off my brain and relax.

I saw the movie yesterday and thought it was decent -- it was good for what it was, but in my opinion, the book almost always surpasses the movie. Regardless, I was still extremely proud today when I read that the director of this movie, Catherine Hardwicke, broke the record for the biggest opening ever for a female director. GIRL POWER!

What I love is that media folks are saying is that it was audiences of teenage girls that were filling the theaters to a take in a whooping $70.6 million this weekend alone. But what about us 20-somethings? Regardless of the cheesiness, there's just something to be said about a good, fluffy (and screwed up) romance. Teens and adults alike swoon over Edward Cullen and his mysteriousness. Stephenie Meyer (the author) knew what the heck she was doing when she created this series. GIRL POWER for her too!

I'm not gonna lie...I am already excited for "New Moon" to come out!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Song: T-Baby's "It's So Cold in the D"

This YouTube video phenomenon has bombarded Detroit radio airwaves. It's horrible vocally and the video is awful as well, but local singer T-Baby is on to something and the big star rappers should take note...this song is SO catchy! It's been in my head since I first heard it a month ago. Add some decent back-up vocals and change the words to be grammatically correct and this just may become the next Detroit anthem!

And with December coming up so quickly, she's spittin' the truth...It IS so cold in the D!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Song: Kid Rock's "Roll On"

Love him or hate him, Kid Rock sure brings about some good karma for the D. His lastest hit song's video, "Roll On" features tons of great scenery of the city and makes us proud. Thanks, Kid for not forgetting your D-town roots!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Salute to Vets & Soldiers Across America

In honor of Veteran's Day, I am posting a very powerful forward I received from my mother-in-law about the life of a soldier. It makes me very thankful for those who have fought for our freedom in the past and those currently serving our country.

Your cell phone is in your pocket. He clutches the cross hanging on his chain next to his dog tags.

You talk trash about your 'buddies' that aren't with you. He knows he may not see some of his buddies again.

You walk down the beach, staring at all the pretty girls. He patrols the streets, searching for insurgents and terrorists.

You complain about how hot it is. He wears his heavy gear, not daring to take off his helmet to wipe his brow.

You go out to lunch, and complain because the restaurant got your order wrong. He doesn't get to eat today.

Your maid makes your bed and washes your clothes. He wears the same things for weeks, but makes sure his weapons are clean.

You go to the mall and get your hair redone. He doesn't have time to brush his teeth today.

You're angry because your class ran 5 minutes over. He's told he will be held over an extra 2 months.
You call your girlfriend and set a date for tonight. He waits for the mail to see if there is a letter from home.

You hug and kiss your girlfriend, like you do everyday. He holds his letter close and smells his love's perfume.

You roll your eyes as a baby cries. He gets a letter with pictures of his new child, and wonders if they'll ever meet.

You criticize your government, and say that war never solves anything. He sees the innocent tortured and killed by their own people and remembers why he is fighting.

You hear the jokes about the war, and make fun of men like him. He hears the gunfire, bombs and screams of the wounded.

You see only what the media wants you to see. He sees the broken bodies lying around him.

You are asked to go to the store by your parents. You don't. He does exactly what he is told even if it puts his life in danger.

You stay at home and watch TV. He takes whatever time he is given to call, write home, sleep and eat.

You crawl into your soft bed, with down pillows, and get comfortable. He tries to sleep but gets woken by mortars and helicopters all night long.

REMEMBER our Troops NOW and do not forget them LATER.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Greatest Detroit Hit: Coney Island Restaurants

There's tons of great products made in Detroit, but nothing tops the straight-up DEEETROIT category quite as much as Coney Island restaurants.

Many Detroiters consider themselves coney connoisseurs...Between Kerby's, Leo's, National and hundreds of other great family-owned joints -- Detroit-area Coney Island restaurants all are so similar and amazingly cheap. I like to jokingly blame my Greek roots for my weekend cravings, but I really think it's just me feeling incestuous about my love for Michigan-made products.

The typical Detroit-area Coney Island provides the perfect menu for all to nosh on: classic coney islands, Greek salads, spinach pie, Gyros, baklava and my personal fave non-traditional classic - chicken hanis. Besides the variety of menu choices, I'd have to say my favorite part of my coney visits is that although you may go to different places, the food always gets to you super fast and it generally tastes the same. It's a beautiful thing.

As all Greek families have, my great-grandpa once had a restaurant in Detroit at the intersection of Woodward and Peterboro. I would give my eye teeth to see that place in action nowadays. I'm not really sure why it ever went out of business, but I'm surely glad that at least the iconic Detroit anchors American and Layfayette Coney Islands have survived in the D for so long.

The history of the coney in Detroit is quite fascinating... American Coney Island came first -- established by immigrant Gust Keros in 1917. The restaurant was first started by Keros and his brother, who got into an argument soon after and split their restaurant into two parts -- the present day American and Lafayette Coney Islands which are next door to each other, and who to this day jokingly argue about which is the "original."

So, I guess you could say once again my Greek roots pushed me to experiment -- which one really is better? A few colleagues and I decided to take a rainy Friday to challenge ourselves to determine which takes the prize for being the top Coney Island in the city.

We started at American. After being beckoned inside by an older waiter with a thick Greek accent, we were seated and quickly received exactly what we all wanted -- an original coney with all the fixing's. We were impressed. A snappy Dearborn Sausage dog with chili with a slight kick tasted pretty good going down.

The owner, who called himself "Dan-Dan the hot dog man," told us a bit about the history of the two restaurants and claimed American was the best because it was the Detroit original. Before leaving, we got a pic with him (of course, he's the guy with the American flag-inspired hat!).

From there, we walked next door to Layfayette and were greeted by classic 50s mint green tile walls and another older Greek gentleman waiter. The coney, of course, arrived quickly. The Winters Sausage hot dog was a little softer than American's and the chili had a bit more of a kick -- possibly from extra spices used in the recipe.

As mentioned above, most Coney Islands generally have the same fare with the same taste. But, we unanimously decided that American's dog was our favorite. The snappy casing on the hot dog, the passionate owner and the good old fashioned Americana theme was what sold us.
But really, in the end, both were extremely similar. Some picky points: both could have used more mustard (or at least had it on the table) and both gave me a mild case of heartburn.

Go out and take the coney challenge yourself. And be sure to frequent your local coney joint. It's a Detroit classic not to be missed!

Sunday Song: "Changes" by 2Pac

It's a shame Tupac Shakur isn't alive today...

2Pac's song Changes has lyrics that say "And though it seems heaven sent / We ain't ready to have a black president." Yet, today, a little more than a decade after 2Pac's death, we obviously ARE ready for a black president.

This week, as you all know, we elected Barack Obama -- a president that doesn't "look" like a single past president. African American children in classrooms with photos of all the presidents lining the walls will now have a face that looks like them -- something many having been dreaming about for decades.

Through the years, slavery, segregation and mere ignorance have hindered the hopes of black progress time and again. Obama symbolizes the resurrection of hope and the restoration of belief in a country that has often failed to treat its black citizens as equals.

We gotta make a change... It's time for us as a people to start makin' some changes. Let's change the way we eat, let's change the way we live and let's change the way we treat each other. You see the old way wasn't working so it's on us to do what we gotta do, to survive. - 2Pac, Changes

Here's to the next four years.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sunday Song: "Seasons of Love" (From Rent)

As mentioned in the previous post, my mom truly exposed me to everything possible since I was very young. One thing I got hooked to virtually right out of the womb, was live theater. Coming from a middle class background, heading into Detroit to see a show at the Fox or the Fisher wasn't always an affordable option, but nonetheless, we often made the trip downtown for a show at least once a year.

I've seen tons of plays-- straight and musicals and have even been a part of a half dozen or so. Through my experiences, I would have to say my absolute favorite is Rent. The first time I heard the music, I fell in love and begged my parents to take me to see it during a family trip to Toronto in the 7th grade. Looking back, I may have been one of the youngest audience members, but regardless of the adult content, I LOVED it.

A bit of background: The play focuses on the year in the life of a group of artsy friends living in New York’s East Village. The friends remain close as they lead lives filled with the threat of homelessness, drugs, homosexuality and AIDS. To me, the play depicts truth to the core and I highly recommend open-minded folks out there to see it live, or if you cannot, at least 'rent' the movie. (Thanks Nikki for letting me borrow your copy!)

All of the music throughout the play is genius, but the headlining song, "Seasons of Love" may easily take the cake for being one of the best Broadway songs ever written. The lyrics discuss "525,600 minutes," which is the number of minutes in a typical calendar year. Throughout the song, various answers are suggested for how to measure a year (daylights, sunsets, midnights, cups of coffee), however, the conclusion is made that love is the only proper measure of a year in a human life. And I couldn't agree more.

Although I feel slightly guilty for spending the money to see the play for the second time, I can't help myself -- I am going with my girlfriends to see it when it comes to the Detroit Opera House in February and I couldn't be more excited. I just may be an official 'Renthead,' singing along with every lyric!

Check out the movie version of "Season's of Love" here.