Monday, February 28, 2005

Another great weekend...

Fun times this weekend: the brothers took the pledges out to a ropes course and we had some great bonding time. I earned the nickname (courtesy of brother David Bachman) of "Water Spider" whilst climbing the rock wall, and I earned a battle scar (courtesy of brother and pledge captain G. Houston Slatton, III) for my troubles.

ON SUNDAY, the Vanderbilt Concert Choir, of which I am a member, served as the service choir at Belmont United Methodist Church over in Hillsboro Village. It was a lot of fun; our choir sounded great; Kat got to come hear us (thanks!); and the service was amazing (I really like their new pastor at Belmont UMC).

Though this week is midterm week (one exam and two papers for me), it shouldn't be too stressful.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Island Party 2005!

The brothers planning the 2005 Beta Upsilon Chi Island Party have announced the date, location, and headliners for the event, along with the event's brand-new official website.

Friday, April 1
Wilson Lawn
(aka Currey Field)


Dave Hunt
Jenn Weber
Benefits of Leisure
Keeley & Stan
P B & J

In addition to the great concerts, we'll be featuring a University-wide three-on-three volleyball tournament called Bash at the Beach, with the winners receiving prizes from local businesses.

It's going to rock. Mark it down, and BE THERE.

Monday, February 21, 2005

A Weekend with BYX in Texas

FRIDAY, riding with Brother Tyler Fiveash and pledge brothers Sean Reilly and Richard Baxter, we drove the eleven-hour journey to Dallas, Texas for the annual Beta Upsilon Chi National Summit.

For those who know what I'm talking about, we did eat, on the way down, at Dos Loco Gringos Mexican Restaurant and Steakhouse in beautiful Hope, Arkansas. If you've never been, you're missing out on a life-changing experience (clearly).

This year's event was even better that last year's. When we got there, our brothers from around the country were still meeting, and so we got to participate in the end of the ceremonies and activities on Friday night.

We then moved in and hung out with our brothers from VU -- sharing our lodge were the men who are colonizing a chapter of BYX at the University of Georgia. There are great guys.

ON SATURDAY, we had breakfast, a bit of fraternity-wide QT, and we went to the Morning Convocation. Nu Chapter represented well, and we kicked some butt. After some praise and worship and listening to our Convention speaker, we were assigned to our BYX Olympics teams for the big day of competition.

Our teams were named after the Twelve Tribes of Israel, and my team was named after Moses' brother Aaron, who was of the tribe of Levi. Thus, we were "set apart for the Lord" as Levites (the preceeding sentence contains a corny, Dillonic Bible joke).

After a hard day of competition (and a Texas-style lunch of grilled sausage complete with tortilla), we got to hear from the stage about who won the day: though the Levites did not win the championship trophy, we did place third.

After Summit ended, I headed over to Richard's house in Highland Park, Texas.

Highland Park is a unique place, in that it is one of the locations that feeds lots of students into the Vanderbilt student population. I've known at least five to six people from Highland Park here at Vandy, and the place is only 2.5 square miles. Needless to say, it's home to a highly educated and affluent populace who love the atmosphere created by a neighborhood that includes SMU, the Dallas Country Club, and billionaires (literally).

Baxter showed us around, and we celebrated his birthday with him and his family at Bax's favorite Mexican restaurant (props to him and his mom for their excellent Spanish conversation with the waitress).

We hopped in the hot tub and watched a movie later, with plenty of "dwelling in unity" to be enjoyed by all.

SUNDAY saw us leave for Vandy, and except for a two-and-a-half-hour traffic jam near Hazen, Arkansas (due to a pretty bad wreck), things went smoothly.

Thanks to Teemoney for letting us ride in his car.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Birthdays, BYX-ing, and Basketball

Kat turns 22 on February 18, so be sure to wish her a happy birthday. Especially since I will be in the clutches of Texas, attending Summit, the national retreat for my fraternity.

Updates from Texas; play-by-play from Kat's birthday celebration; and much more, coming up this weekend. Get excited.

IN OTHER NEWS, our noble and inspiring Vanderbilt Commodores routed the evil Auburn Tigers last night on The Plains. I hope all my good friends and former Fuge co-staffers are reading this: remember how you folks made fun of the Black and Gold? Well, I've got two words for you -- war pigeon.

Tonight, the lovely, talented, and twentieth ranked Vanderbilt Commodores will take on the not-so-lovely and probably-not-as-talented Arkansas Lady Razorbacks (please note that at Vandy, we don't put 'lady' in front of our women's teams names). We need to keep winning to finish strong toward the SEC tournament. Let's go, 'Dores -- I want to smell me some bacon.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Happy Valentine's Day

First, before I recount my Valentine's adventure, let me quote this explanation of just who St. Valentine, the actual man, actually was (and why we celebrated this holiday before Hallmark and Russell Strover got hold of it):

St. Valentine was a martyr who died some time before 312 AD, and his martyrdom is commemorated on the 14th of February. Probably he was martyred on that date, but nothing else is known of him (a Valentine, priest of Rome, and a Valentine, bishop of Ternia, are both commemorated on February 14, and most scholars now generally assume them to be the same person).

In many parts of Europe, it was once said that birds began to pair off for the nesting season in mid-February. Since our forebears often spoke of a given day by naming a saint connected with it rather than by giving the month and the number of the day, we find them saying that birds choose their mates on St. Valentine's day. That is all. If a major earthquake took place on Columbus Day, it would probably be known to future generations as the Columbus Day earthquake; it would be a mistake, however, to try to connect it with Columbus.

In other words, the thinking went like this (1) St. Valentine, a priest and bishop, was martyred (killed for his faith in Jesus Christ) on or around February 14, 312; (2) about one thousand years later, people decided (thanks the Chaucer) that birds chose their mates on St. Valentine's day; (3) birds must, as humans do, choose their mates for love; (4) humans should do like the birds; (5) humans choose their mates on St. Valentine's day.

Talk about silly. What we should do is celebrate the tremendous faith in God that one man had -- such an amazing faith that he was willing to die for his Lord and Savior.

But anyway, on to my personal celebration of the mistaken notion that humans, as birds don't actually do, should choose their mates on February 14:

I wished Mom and Dad a happy anniversary (they were married on St. Valentine's Day in 1976) and sent some e-cards to some folks.

I got to see Kat on the way to lunch, in between classes, and she gave me a Willy Wonka chocolate bar (evidently, VU Dining had decided to turn the Rand Hall function room into another suicide-prevention technique for everyone without a sweetheart on V-day). It made me smile like an idiot.

Kat usually has that affect on me.

After lunch with brothers Scott Williams and Tyler Fiveash (along with an interview or two with some pledges), I went to class again. After class, I ran up to Kat's room in Cole Hall and dropped off roses for her in her favorite colors: red and wine.

Katharyn and I had Chinese food for dinner, and we watched the movie Wimbledon, a charming romance-comedy that I had been balking against everytime that Kat and I had went to Blockbuster (see previous posts regarding our movie-deciding fun times). It actually turned out to be a great movie, and she and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Welcome to VU: aka, "Vanderbilt Country Club"

Seriously. I saw the most Vanderbilt (used as an adjective) scene I think I've ever encountered today walking back to my dorm from class.

As I passed by Delta Kappa Epsilon (aka Deke) and saw about four to six sorority girls sitting lazily around the Deke lawn with several Dekes also lounging about -- all of them playing with puppies whilst dressed in stereotypical Vandywear.

It seriously looked like a scene out of the VU viewbook.

Valentine's Weekend

Let's leave aside the fact that I despise Valentine's Day (as a ridiculous consumer holiday designed to force men into purchasing needless things for women -- it's not as if I love her more on Valentine's Day or love her less on all days not Valentine's Day -- but I digress), and talk about what an amazing weekend it was.

ON FRIDAY, Kat and I decided to spend a quiet night together, just hanging out. We went to dinner together and then watched a video after our requisite hour-long debate in Blockbuster (Kat and I cannot make a move decision the same way that Congress fights over controversial legislation -- it's not very pretty). We saw Timeline, a Michael Crighton film based upon a book that she and I have both read.

SATURDAY, we avoided watching our Vanderbilt Commodores lose to the evil Mississippi State Bulldogs (barely), and instead, we got ready for the two parties we were supposed to be at (and yes, I realize that sentence ends in a preposition -- I'm writing in stream-of-consciousness, here, people).

Kat's Alpha Delta Pi party was held at Exit/In, a landmark Nashville locale that's a cross between a concert venue and a honky tonk, and the theme was based on the movie Napoleon Dynamite.

We didn't go along with the ADPi theme, however, because we were both really excited about the theme for the Beta Upsilon Chi party.

For BYX Valentine's, we decided to do famous couples. The reason that Kat and I were excited about this is because we had come up with the perfect couple for us to be: Lois Lane and Clark Kent.

IN ADDITION to movie-watching on Friday and party-going on Saturday, I also have to thank Dayna Watson for cooking chili and Sprite cake for me at the ADPi house and Mary Jane Philpy for inviting Kat and I to have dinner with her and her boyfriend Clay before all the parties.

ON SUNDAY, I got to go to church with Kat at St. Augustine's Chapel on the VU campus. Afterwards, we had lunch with my Sunday school class from First Baptist Nashville at Mellow Mushroom.

Finally, on Sunday night, I had dinner and some great conversation (as usual) with ol' Mark Halling.

It was an awesome weekend.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

A Rogersville visit?

Rogersvillian and friend Jessee Bundy was supposed to come down to Nashville yesterday with her new boyfriend for a concert here in the Music City. Unfortunately, she did not call, and so her visit will have to be post-poned.

Sad times.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

I'm 22!

Well, today wraps up my birthday, and it's hard to believe that I'm actually twenty-two years old. I mean, seriously. That's really old. I've been telling everyone that, and everyone sort of smiles and nods, but I don't think they believe me. But anyway.

Dad was the first person to wish me a happy birthday: he called from somewhere in Nevada or Arizona where he had stopped on his way to California sometime close to the actual time of my birth (7:12 am eastern time, or 6:12 central -- I don't want to know what that is in pacific time). He joked about it being in the middle of nowhere. He shared with me his memories of my birth, and it was funny and moving at the same time. Please remember to keep Dad in your prayers (his first name is Larry) as he travels around the country.

I decided to take a personal holiday today, and so I called in to Diane Scott, my boss-lady down at McGugin Center, and she agreed that I could have the day off since it was my birthday. She is probably the best boss ever.

After checking in with Diane, I decided to sleep in and not go to my first class -- I'm doing fairly well in my art history class, and I think I did well on my paper, so it was sort of a birthday present to myself.

I did have to roll myself out to get ready for my Religious Studies class, though, because I had to make a presentation today.

There's actually a funny story there: while I was getting ready for class, my suitemate and Pledge Brother Mark Roberts (Beta Class) decided that I needed to be welcomed into my birth day with the traditional "birthday spankings", and so he proceeded to administer twenty-three punches to my butt. Actually, it was more like my quarter-flank (for the horse-lovers out there), but he's from Texas and so I'm sure he didn't mind.

Anyway, so I'm really enjoying that class so far -- the religious studies one. It's called "Global Interpretations of Christian Scripture" and our study is basically one of comparing and contrasting our own interpretation of Christian scripture with those of theologians and scholars from around the world while maintaining an awareness of our own context as people.

Yesterday, it was my turn to present, and I compared my interpreation of the Gospel of John with that of Petros Vissiliadis, a professor at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, Greece. Petros is an Eastern Orthodox Christian, and so it was especially interesting to me to learn more about that faith-tradition's beliefs and practice.

After class (which got out at 5:30), I walked over to the Vanderbilt Women's Center to pick up Kat from a meeting of Vanderbilt Feminists. Though she is the president, she agreed to leave her meeting early so that she and I could go to the Ash Wednesday service down at Christ Church Cathedral downtown (across from the Federal Courthouse).

It was a very moving service, and the Very Reverend Kenneth Swanson, the dean and rector of the Cathedral, and the Reverend Anne B. Stevenson, Canon Precentor, presided at the service (this is a correction: earlier I had said that the Bishop of Tennessee, the Right Reverend Bertram Nelson Herlong had presided this was a mistake on my part based upon the assumption that the Bishop would preside at the Cathedral and that the robes worn by the dean/rector were the bishop's robes). Canon Stevenson gave the sermon (it was a great one) and Dean Swanson celebrated communion.

After the service (where ashes from last year's Palm Sunday fronds were put on our foreheads in the sign of the cross), Kat and I had my birthday dinner at Las Palams Mexican Restaurant in Nashville. After that, we saw Ocean's Twelve at One Hundred Oaks shopping center in Nashville.

Good times...

Monday, February 07, 2005

Quite a weekend

This weekend was a fairly eventful one.

ON FRIDAY, Kat and I had dinner with Alumnus Brother Dustin Whittier (BYX '03) and then joined several of our friends at the Turner Recital Hall at Vanderbilt's Blair School of Music to hear our good friend Linnette McCloud give her Senior Recital.

It was an amazing performance. I knew that Linnette could sing wonderfully -- and she did that and more. What I had not realized was that she has emminent stage presence. Her performance was incredibly dynamic, and I look forward to seeing where she will be in a few years.

Brother David Bachman (BYX '03) -- her fiancee -- was hilarious in his support; it is not difficult for me to see Linnette and him preparing for marriage this Fall.

Kat and I went out with Dustin and some others after Linette's shin-dig for some drinks at the Flying Saucer. Fun times had by all.

ALSO ON FRIDAY, I learned about a couple of very sad events that took place this week.

First, Pam Schneller (here with her loving husband Roland this past Christmas), the director of Vanderbilt's Concert Choir and the assistant dean at Blair School of Music, was struck by a van while she was jogging on Thursday morning. Pam was in Los Angeles, California for the American Choral Directors Association national convention, and so it has been a difficult couple of days for the choirites and everyone connected to Pam.

Please be in prayer for Pam (for healing), her family (for strength), and for our choir (that we'll keep together).

Only about fifteen minutes after I first learned about Pam, on Friday afternoon after class, I also learned, from my Mom, about the death -- and probable suicide -- of Brett Laroy, a young man with whom I attended Rogersville City School (K-8) and Cherokee High School with (9-12).

According to what I have learned from mom and friends (thanks to Marla Gibson for keeping me up-to-date), Brett evidently hung himself at his mom's house.

It is always difficult when someone dies in Rogersville -- we're so close there. But it is especially difficult for a family when something like this happens. It always causes our community to stop and ask, "Why?" -- and sometimes, there are not (on this side of Heaven) answers to questions like that.

Please be in prayer for Brett's family, especially his mom; his friends; and our community.

SATURDAY was also a big day on campus. The University of Kentucky Wildcats came to Nashville to take on my Commodores in a huge SEC East match-up.

I had to roll out of bed at 11 o'clock to head over and get ready for a pre-game tailgate at the old Phi Delt house as a member of the Memorial Maniacs. My friend, Brother Mark Halling (BYX '03), is the President of Maniacs and was in charge of the event that included free pizza and (as always) free stuff (this week it was giant V-U foam hands).

More fun was had because we had our pledges paint up for the game, spelling "!THIS IS OUR HOUSE!" on their chests.

Aren't they cute (see picture). And yes, that is a Spanish explanation point in front of the sentence.

Well, we lost the game (Kentucky still sucks, nonetheless), but at least we got to have a little fun.

THIS SUNDAY was the previously advertised BYX Male $ale, our member auction that raises money for our community outreach concert festival (called Island Party) that will be held later this year (on April 1 on Wilson Lawn, to be exact).

It went extremely well. Thanks to all the lovely ladies who participated; special thanks to Kat for purchasing me.

Obviously the Super Bowl was this Sunday, meaning that I had to go to all the perfunctory parties. I am not a fan of professional football (or any pro sport, for that matter), but at least the commercials are slightly entertaining.

It did make me pine away for college football -- it's just so much better.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The Maniacs strike back...

I am a member of the Memorial Maniacs, the group of students who wear the same t-shirt and sit in the best seats down in Vanderbilt's historic Memorial Gymnasium, home of Vanderbilt basketball.

We're usually the loudest, rowdiest, and most black-and-gold fans in the student section.

And last night, against our arch-rival Tennessee (who the Vandy students usually refer to as "The Arnge Horde" or "The Evil Brutes from the East"), we were quite effective.

Our goal every week is to try and make a difference in the actual basketball game, and it looks like this week, we may have accomplished it:

Veteran C.J. Watson forced a shot as the Vandy student section incorrectly counted down the shot clock in the first half. Watson panicked, let fly. The shot clock still had four seconds left.

That, according to Joe Biddle in his column "Pysch 101: Vols are basketball mystery" is why we're there, ladies and gentlemen.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

9.5 Theses on Worship

Like Martin Luther and his 95 Theses that reformed the Christian Church in the sixteenth century, "parishioner, pastor songwriter, musician, and now seminary professor" Gary Parrett desires, with his 9.5 Theses on Worship to address the concerns of today's Church with a major theological issue.

I found myself saying, "Amen" to many of the points he raises, and his thought-provoking article will help believers raise new questions about what's important on Sunday morning -- and beyond.