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Showing posts from March, 2014

i believe in magic

i believe in magic.  or, as the late great nick drake sang so hauntingly, "i was made to love magic."

but not that sleight-of-hand variety, practiced by charlatans and shysters.  i mean, i enjoy a good trick as much as the next person, but i don't love magic tricks.  that's not magic.  those are illusions.  tricks and illusions are just that:  things that, by definition are the opposite of real.  they distort and obstruct reality in order to make it seem like something else is real.  but nothing has really changed.  it is merely a trick.

but i was made to love magic.  real magic.  where reality really does shift and change in ways that are sacramental in the purest sense of the word: mysterious.

let me explain.

yesterday it snowed.  again.  on the second-to-last day of march it snowed like the proverbial lion of march decided to eat the lamb and tear it to bits, with pieces of white wool flying around everywhere.  it snowed and snowed, cold wetness falling from …

saturday song: grandma's hands

we had an awesome time in nyc the last two days, and i have some pictures to share, so i will do that in the near future.  but for now, i wanted to share a saturday song from josh garrels.  he peformed this song on thursday night, the bill withers soul classic, "grandma's hands," and josh's voice suits it perfectly.  it will get your toes tapping for sure!  enjoy.

jg in nyc

tonight i am seeing this guy

in this city

yes, that is correct.  i'll be in the big apple to meet up with some dear friends, and see josh garrels in concert.  this is a christmas present from shannon, finally coming to fruition.  i am beyond excited.

don't know who josh garrels is?  that's a shame.  he's an amazingly creative guy, who writes and performs songs, with a very unique voice, and a willingness to blend and bend genres and expectations.  he writes from a Christ-followers perspective, but does so in a way that defies the norms of what has come to be the Christian music industry.

here is a great article about him if you want to know more.

new collage for lent (3rd in a series)

"behold your mother..." mixed  media collage (acrylic paint, vintage papers, transfer paper, glue) 8' x 10' march 2014 gregory a. milinovich

as i continue my creative journey through lent, trying to visualize each of the final words of Christ as we deal with them in our worship at catawissa avenue united methodist church, i have come to words directed to mary and john, which don't often get as much attention as some of the others.  "behold your son," and "behold your mother," seem to be words specifically spoken to two of the closest people to Jesus, in an effort to make sure they are provided for and taken care of after his death.  but doesn't it seem strange that Jesus would wait until he is hanging on the cross, in unbearable pain and agony, when it is nearly impossible to speak, to take care of this business?  couldn't he have taken care of these arrangements before?

or is something else going on here?

one of the things we discussed a…

happy birthday, tim white

hello there, tim white.  on this day in 1954, you were born in cumberland, rhode island.  i assume that it was sometime later that you got involved in the exciting and entertaining world of professional wrestling as a referee, although i'm certain that if it would have helped ratings to have two babies wrestling a "death match" in a pack-n-play, vince mcmahon would have done it in a heartbeat.  you could have refereed it.  but i digress.

at some point you became a referee in the wwf/wwe, which i assume means that you helped crush fake blood capsules and did everything you could to make the action look as fake as possible.  on the other hand, you claim to have undergone 9 different surgeries for injuries sustained while reffing in your 16-year career, including the injury that ended your career: the final three count in the "hell in a cell" match between chris jericho and christian in 2004.  you must have really pounded the ground emphatically.  i can relate. …

book review: unbroken

okay, i'm not really a book reviewer, and i really don't know the first thing about what a book review is "supposed" to be like.  i simply like to reflect after reading a book about what was worthwhile and what was not.  in this case?  wow.

laura hillenbrand (author of seabiscuit) has written an unbelievable story of one man's life, and it would be unforgivable if you chose not to read it.  i am unlimited in my praise for this story.  okay, enough uns.

but seriously, this book is ridiculous.  shannon had read it awhile ago and said that of all the books she has read, this one really sticks with her perhaps more than any, and she really wanted to me to read it.  so i did.  and boy am i glad, too.  it is a biography of the life of louis zamperini, whom, if you are like me, you may have never heard of.  which is a darn shame.  he should be more famous than lady gaga, miley cyrus and justin beiber combined.

the story is so amazing that i refuse to give away too mu…


one thousand.  that can be plenty of something, depending on what it is. then add eight more hundred to it. plenty, right?  especially when they are blog posts. 
yep, this is my 1,800th post here at this same corner of the internet. 
that seems like a pretty formidable number. in fact, it's hard for me to believe that i've written that much. but i have. and while i am proud that i've been able to stay consistent and write that much, i'm even happier that my outlook on the whole thing has matured as well. i used to check my stats and count something called "page views," whatever that means. but not anymore. i truly don't worry about it. i'm no longer concerned with who is or is not reading; i am writing because i love to write.  and i feel as though i've only just begun to scratch the surface of what my soul is begging to say. or maybe that isn't the best way to put it. perhaps what i mean is that i desperately need to keep saying what i've a…


evangeline  it is a word that comes from the latin "evangelium," which means 'gospel.'  literally, though, it is a combination of the words "good" and "news."

good news.

evangeline is also the name of an epic poem by henry wadsworth longfellow, published in 1847.  sometime in late 1996 or early 1997, i bought a beautiful copy of the poem, in hardcover, in a little curiosity store north of pittsburgh.  i had a plan.

i was already planning on asking shannon, whom i had courted with reckless abandon, to marry me.  we were going to go to pittsburgh to see a production of les miserables, and i told her that my parents had won tickets and weren't able to attend.  i planned to take her to a fancy restaurant on mt. washington, attend the show, then head back up the incline, where i would ask her to marry me.  i knew that if she said yes, it would mean about 14 months of engagement, and i had a sense that i wanted to keep a log of that time somehow.  …

new collage for lent (2nd in a series)

"today you will be with me in paradise" mixed media collage on stretched canvas (acrylic paint, found papers, glue) 8" x 10" march 2014 gregory a milinovich
here is my second in this year's lenten collage series. it corresponds with the series we are doing at catawissa avenue umc on the final words of Christ from the cross. this week we focused on his words to the criminal next to him: "today you will be with me in paradise."  we talked about how Jesus liked to spend his time with broken people (or rather, people who knew they were broken); how we are all broken, and like the criminals on the crosses, have a variety of ways to respond to Jesus; and how Jesus' love so far surpasses our expectations and categories and prejudices. as exhibit A, the first person Jesus invites into paradise (literally: the king's garden), is a lestai, or armed robber, someone who used violence to rob another. he doesn't ask Jesus into his heart; he doesn't walk …

elusive emerald imps

we take st. patrick's day pretty seriously around here.

i mean, leprechauns love us.  they terrorize us.  they turn things upside down and make messes and color everything green and our kids love it.  so much so that cade left them a note, trying to get a response, and jack is desperately trying to catch one.

you can see that jackson's trap includes a lego staircase leading up to a door cut out of an oatmeal can (which he colored to try and disguise it as lucky charms).  he also included a rope string with knots all the way up, in case the leprechauns needed help getting up to the door.  if you were a leprechaun and you saw this lucky looking cylinder, you would clearly come over to it, not suspecting anything.  you would walk up the conveniently-located lego stairs, up the rope string, and you would peer into the something that would you bring you endless delights:  across the cylinder from you, taped to the wall, is a gold irish coin.  it's actually a euro-nickel, i th…

a plastic minefield: a random thursday

-a friend sent me this very-true-to-life comic:

and it reminded me of this photo, which also feels like our house at times:

when we are much older and we look back on this era of our lives, we will almost surely call it "the lego years."  funny how a bunch of little plastic bricks can be so powerful!

-quin's new saying, which is a variation from something he heard in a movie:  "no buts, no cuts, no pocunuts."   that's right.  pocunuts.

-any willie nelson fans out there?  i love willie, and i just recently picked up his latest album "to all the girls i've loved before," which is a collection of 18 duets between willie and the likes of emmylou harris, alison krauss, norah jones, loretta lynn, brandi carlisle, carrie underwood, and many others.  great stuff.  highly recommended for any willie nelson fans.

-also, i have been listening to this wonderful little collection of lenten music by page cxvi, simply called "from lent to maundy thursd…

happy birthday, william lyon mackenzie

happy birthday, william lyon mackenzie.  you were born this day in 1795, which would make you 219 years old today.

you were international long before it was him.  you were born in scotland, became a canadian citizen, an american journalist, and then the very first mayor of toronto.   i wonder if you are rolling around in your 153-year old grave now that this man is sitting in your swivel chair:

you were one of the leaders of the upper canada rebellion of 1837, and for that, canadians everywhere say, "thank you, eh."

also, your grandson mackenzie king became the 10th prime minister of canada, and the longest serving, so you have certainly offered a great deal to your country.  but he also upstaged you, since he is remembered fondly, and is on the canadian 50 dollar bill.  so when canadians think of mackenzie, they mostly think of him, not you.  sorry bud.

finally, your middle name is lyon, which, when said with my awful french accent, sounds uber-cool.  it makes me wonder…

lent collage 1: father, forgive them

"father forgive them (lent 2014, 1)" mixed media collage (acrylic paint, gel medium, glue, vintage papers, image release paper, photocopies) march 2014 8" x 10" gregory a. milinovich
as i have in the past, i have decided to document my lenten journey this year with a series of collages that are are a response, or more accurately, a dialogue with our worship series through the season.  for this lent we are examining the final words of Jesus from the cross, as recorded in the four gospels, and so i will be making a collage dealing with each one.  
we began on sunday with a look at Jesus' wonderfully selfless words, "father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."  
here in the thick of his execution, with the ugliness of humanity in his face in every possible way, Jesus somehow found it in himself to respond with prayer, and not for himself, but for the very ones who were executing him: soldiers, religious leaders, political leaders,…

i yam what i yam

best workout song that played on my ipod while at the gym this morning?  without question it was the theme to the original popeye cartoon. 

happy birthday, val logsdon fitch

note:  today i am beginning a new recurring theme here at the unlikely orange, in which i will occasionally offer a random person a happy birthday.  i will scour the internets for someone you may not have heard of who is celebrating a birthday that day, and tell you a little about them.   its just for fun, so don't be so serious about it.  but it is also to meet some new people, to discover even more of the width and breadth of this breathtaking world and its stunning diversity.  

happy birthday, val logsdon fitch.

you were born in nebraska on a cattle ranch on march 10, 1923.  you served our country in world war II, learning a great deal about experimental physics at the time.  in 1964 you and your partner jim cronin discovered what you called cp violation (charge parity violation), for which you and jim won the nobel prize in 1980, and which continues to help astronomers and physicists understand the dominance of matter over antimatter in the universe, among other things.



i have several idiosyncrasies, and i suppose some might say that  makes me an idiot, and maybe they wouldn't be wrong.  who knows?  but whether or not i am in idiot is not germane to this particular post.  instead, i want to talk about the way i greet people, and what it says about the world.

we all have our way of saying hello.  if we greet a good friend out on the street, we may embrace, or at least shake hands and grin and engage in conversation, but if you pass someone you do not know on the sidewalk, or in a store, or while changing clothes at the gym, how do you say hello?  some may give a cheerful "good morning," or afternoon or evening, whatever the case may be.  some may choose not to greet at all.  there are some who engage in that traditional exchange, "how are you?" which is meant to induce the response, "fine, and you?"  others may simply nod, but there's nothing simple about the nod as a gesture, since it can be accomplished in a v…

ash wednesday: 2014

"ash wednesday 2014: the wealth of nations" mixed media on stretched canvas (acrylic paint, vintage papers, photocopies) 10" x 8" march 2014 gregory a. milinovich 
we are not as strong as we think we are.

that is the phrase that perhaps best sums up what ash wednesday is all about for me.

it is a reminder to stop for a moment and recognize that we are just as broken as the dust in our lungs, the earth that holds us, and the ash, that at least for one day, we will wear on our faces as if to proclaim this truth for us, since we seem mostly incapable most of the time.

we would rather ignore our brokenness, and continue the charade of strength and self-sufficiency.  wait?  i am going to die?  i am a sinful, broken person?  i think i'll just keep playing the "i'm alright, you're alright, we're all alright" game, thank you very much.  and we do play that game, don't we.  we are like kids playing the game of life, gathering spouses and childre…

happy, indeed.

yesterday was my birthday.  it was really great to turn 27.

or something like that.

but seriously, i had a great birthday weekend.  my parents came, my sister and her two daughters came, and despite some stomach bug going around, it was a very nice weekend.  i got my favorite white cake with hungarian chocolate icing, some great time with family, and some lovely presents, including a couple of t-shirts (this millennium falcon one and this bacon one).  i also got the first two seasons of a particular british period drama that i love, which i will be rewatching on sunday evenings to restore the world to its rightful order.  i got a few other things as well, which is all far more than i deserve, but i will receive it all with satisfaction, as i receive the gift of the whole congregation of Catawissa Avenue UMC singing "happy birthday" to me yesterday, and the pixel-load of 'happy birthday' messages that caused by facebook cup to overflow.  i receive it all with joy an…