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Showing posts from September, 2009

the hours

i was recently commissioned by a friend to make a collage for her husband that she could give to him as a gift for a family celebration.  as inspiration for the collage she mentioned that he has recently been praying the hours, and that his spiritual/prayer life has really been blessed by it. People have prayed at fixed hours during the day for centuries. Quietly easing away from the obligations of home or work, they take a few moments to spend time with God. These moments connect them to the Divine, and to the countless others who are also pausing to pray the prayers designated for that hour, on that day. Prayers whispered and chanted, spoken loud and clear or murmured silently within, all join together in a continuous flow, a river of words from our soul to God’s. Praying the hours enjoins us to stop, let go of all that occupies us, and focus on the sacred at regular intervals throughout the day. Suddenly, every day becomes holy, for every day is laced together by our appointments

book review: the last lecture

last week while i was down the shore at a conference committing all kinds of headdesks, i found some time at night to read a book that's been in my queue for awhile.  it's just a little book called "The Last Lecture" by a guy named randy pausch.  the premise of the book is that pausch, a professor at carnegie mellon university in pittsburgh, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given just a few months to live.  he responded to this challenge with charisma and grace, even preparing a final lecture as a way to leave some of what he learned in his life.  that final lecture is actually on you tube and you can watch it in its entirety, if you'd like.  the book, though, is basically just an expanded version of the lecture, and was a fascinating read.  pausch is a really neat man, who had the courage to keep dreaming big, even after he became an adult, and the persistence to follow these dreams even in the face of obstacles.  along the way he has acquired a larg


it's pretty much unbearable for me to post this picture on my blog, but i feel like i have to.  yes, the bungles beat the steelers yesterday in another game that the steelers had a nice lead and then decided to lay a big turd on.  blech.  i hope the steelers wake up.  it seems as if they're good enough to be winning these games (although the defense looked pretty week yesterday), but just don't have what's needed to finish.  what is missing?  fire?  skill?  fundamentals?  coaching?  execution?  speed?  i don't have the answer.  but i hope that the steelers are putting pictures like this all over the locker room to inspire them to work harder so it doesn't happen again.  my steelers haven't lost two games in a row in quite some time, so it gives me an opportunity to reflect on the fact that i am no fair-weather fan.  no bandwagon jumping here.  i love the pittsburgh steelers, as you know by now, and i will be continue to be a fanatic about them regardless

wager, part two

you may remember that i made a wager about the steelers game last week.  oops.  that didn't work out too well.  so, since i'll be wearing joel's stupid cutler jersey today, i thought i would share this little photo of him as hines ward.  this picture, and the constant reminder that the steelers have 6 lombardi trophies, will be all that gets me through this. 

slotw: taming the jungle

behold the steelers logo of the week.  i tradition that i started last week, which i will also immediately stop if the steelers lose again this week to the (who dey?) bengals.  the bengals like to refer to paul brown stadium as "the jungle," since bengal tigers presumably live in the jungle, and because cincinnati fans with mullets enjoy rocking out to guns-n-roses.  i think the idea is that other teams are supposed to be frightened by coming into the jungle, but the steelers haven't lost there since 2001 (which is nearly a decade ago.  just sayin.).  let's go steelers!  tame the jungle kitties!


Hey folks.  sorry i haven't said much this week.  as i said earlier, i was out of pocket most of the week, and then when i got back we had a major problem at the church involving pressure in the sewer line and a subsequent eruption in the basement, resulting in more than a few loud interjections.  so needless to say its been exciting.  on a less crappy note, my friend justin and i are playing a couple of sets of music at a local community's art festival today.  you can see the link here.    in case you can't find us, we are called, "justin and greg."  should be fun just to get out and sing and play the guitar (and the djembe, mandolin, harmonica and penny whistle).  here's one of the songs we'll be doing, just for your saturday morning enjoyment:


oh, and one more thing. this is me at my conference:

everybody wins

"everybody wins" paper collage on cardboard panel gregory a. milinovich i am at a conference down the jersey shore this week, and can't seem to connect to a wireless network, so i am unexpectedly a bit out of pocket this week, at least as far as blogging is concerned.  i escaped to a panera on my dinner break tonight so i could let you know that i won't be back to blogging until thursday at the earliest.  hope you're all having a great week.  "everybody wins" is a collage i made some time ago, but just recently sold off my etsy site.  it's' always been one of my favorites, and was glad that it found a good home.  i've been working on some new collages, so more should be coming soon! 

jeff reed makes me cry

most of you can only imagine what i'm like after a steelers loss.  and without living in my house, you're just going to have to continue to imagine.  let's just say that it's not pretty.  i'm writing these words about an hour after the steelers threw away (or should i say kicked away?) a game in chicago that they really should have won.  so, given the wager i had on the game, and my intense loathing of mediocrity by the steelers, you can let your imagination run wild.  if you are imagining a pounding headache, an unwillingness to move, a refusal to admit that it really happened, and a mess of things i threw at the tv that need to cleaned up, you're on the right track.  i'll need a day to recover.  talk to you tuesday.  blech.

slotw: making cutler cry

introducing....the steelers logo of the week.  my epically failed attempt at trying to be clever.  this may be the only installment.  or you might see it again next week.  depends on my creativity.  anyway, this week's slotw is a reference to a certain bears qb's tendency to look something like this: (i included that last one just so you know it wasn't a bad habit he left in denver).  here we go steelers, here we go!!!!


tomorrow afternoon the steelers will take on the chicago bears.  should be a fun matchup in the windy city, where the steelers have not been successful (1-11).  it will be particularly exciting in this little corner of new jersey as one of my good friends, who i also work with at the church, is a big bears fan.  we've made a little wager that whoever's team loses has to wear the other team's jersey to church the following week.  so either i'll be wearing a bears jersey, or joel will be wearing a roethlisberger jersey to church next sunday.  can't wait to see joel in the black and gold. 

film review: 10 items or less

i watched a really good film on wednesday night called 10 items or less ,, and thought i would just mention it here at agent orange records. it’s a simple story that seems to have flown under the radar a bit, even though it stars the always awesome morgan freeman. the film tells the story of an aging actor who hasn’t worked in 4 years, largely out of a fear of committing to a project that will fail. the story begins with this actor (freeman) doing research for a potential role as a store manager in a nice safe independent film (if it fails, its no big deal), by finding a small grocery somewhere in los angeles and watching what happens. the narrative takes an interesting turn when he meets a young sassy cashier who catches his attention. a series of events results in them spending the day together, and the meat of the film is in their interaction during this day spent together. two very different individuals from very different backgrounds find some common ground and some real encourage

throwback thursday: seminary

since i posted jack's 'back to school' pic this week, i figured that it would be great for today's throwback thursday to include one of my own.  this one isn't throwing back too far, but long enough, really.  it was 8 years ago, my first day of graduate school (read: seminary).  it was 2001.  september.  less than a week before 9/11.  i was as nervous as a pimply-faced high school freshman.  but it certainly was the beginning of a great journey for me.  this picture was taken in the first house shannon and i lived in, a small parsonage that the church affectionately termed "the cottage."  shannon made those curtains. 

lego church

saturday was a bit rainy around here.  and shannon had meetings at church in the morning, so it was just me and the boys and my inner bum reared his lazy head and i decided that we'd just stay in, stay in our pajamas, and play with legos.  at least until the college football games started.  we recently purchased an enormous bin of legos for $15, and so we've got an ample supply of little plastic blocks, enough that i can spend the day singing, "jack, jack, he's a lego maniac."  anyway, we had already started building a church, so saturday seemed like the perfect day for finishing the project.  so, equipped with pjs and coffee, i headed to the playroom with two short little guys with even shorter attention spans in tow, and started work on this puppy.  when shannon got home from her meeting she joined us.  the next thing we knew, jack was complaining he was hungry.  looking at the time for the first time all morning, we realized that it was now 1:15.  oops.  guess

first day of pre-k

yep, its that time again.  in what has become a bit of a tradition (and by 'has become' i mean that i am making it a tradition today), we take a picture on the first day of school.  someday we'll line 'em up and compare them, taking care to laugh especially hard at the awkward phases and so forth.  its a rite of passage, really.  when you are able to surrender your pride enough to laugh at your 7th grade mullet, you've made it.  anyway, enjoy these pictures of our little student.  here's something to compare it to.  its remarkable, not to mention a bit frightening, how quickly the time escapes.  everyone has always told us that.  it's a pretty standard sentiment, really, "enjoy all the moments, they go so fast,"  and, "before you know it, they'll be in college."  yeah yeah.  i know.  i'll tell you what, you come over to my house and do some "enjoying it" while changing a diaper.  but you know what?  they're rig

other ways to win

so this is how its going to be, huh steelers?  this is what you're going to do to me?  you can win a superbowl and celebrate all year and then come back and win your first game of the next season, and that's great, but do you have to win this way?   really?  what ever happened to a solid, stellar, strong and decisive win?  ever heard of it?  it is legal, you know.  you don't have to be losing or tied in the 4th quarter.  you just don't.  some of us hope to live past the ripe old age of 54, but you are not making that likely.  your on-field antics are adding to big ben's legacy, to be sure, but they are also subtracting valuable years from my life!  still, a win is a win.  and, even though you are yanking the years from me, i couldn't be happier that you started the season with a victory against a tough team who really wanted to beat us badly.  i only wish you didn't have to sacrifice troy's knee in the process.  i really - really - hope he's ok.  an

throwback thursday: greg "the bus" bettis

on this, the first day of the 2009 nfl season, i thought we would throwback to my days playing for the steelers.  there is, for some reason, a real shortage of photos/gamefilm from that era, but here is one of the few pictures i was able to dig up.  in case you didn't realize it, this is kind of an exciting day for me.  and by exciting i mean that i may need to change my pants a few times today due to, well, accidents.  this is the kind of excitement that causes me to do the following (much of which i have already begun here at 9am): -put my ipod on the "steelers" playlist (which includes 'renegade,' 'the steelers polka,' and many many more) -dress myself, my wife and my children in black and gold -turn on the nfl network and leave it on for the remainder of the day -read every conceivable blog/article/tweet dealing with steelers football -change my pants (see above) -pace uncontrollably -recheck the aforementioned blogs to see if they've upd

i thank you God, for most this amazing day

this is a photograph of the betsy ross bridge taken from the deck of the battleship new jersey by my friend daniel m., who says 90% of being a great photographer is being in the right place at the right time! ahhh, poetry.  that bane of freshman english students everywhere, and a curious topic that seems to polarize many.  i, for one, love poetry, and find it emerging from every nook and cranny of my life, words and sounds unwillingly joined together to say something (for utility's sake) or to say something (for beauty's sake).  it is quite common for me to be going along the regular mundane business of my daily life only to be stopped suddenly - my heart missing a beat - by the poetry of daily communication.  like last night, for example, when i was driving home from some meetings at church and i was listening to the yankees game on the am radio station, and john sterling, the play-by-play guy who tells you about each pitch, whether its a ball or strike and so forth, said tha

four days from now

ah, monday morning.  that most unfortunate morning.  the one everyone loves to hate (except on holidays, like today!).  but today marks a special monday on the calendar.  today is the last monday for a long time without football.  man, it feels good to type that. on thursday night, four days from now! , large men in pads will kick a ball into the air, starting a string of some 256 games.  i, for one, am ridiculously excited.  every year at this time i feel like the isrealites, having wandered in the desert for 40 years (the off-season) and just on the brink of entering the promised land.  say it with me: four more days...four more days!  to celebrate, i ceremoniously hung my steelers banner in the front yard yesterday (incidently, yesterday was the last sunday without pro football for awhile).  i did this last year, too, and the boys from pittsburgh took notice and brought home a sixth (SIXTH!) lombardi trophy, so, i thought i'd do it again.  with all this pent-up anticipation, i f

the 40,000 winner is...

so, to those of you who stuck with me over the last 10 days through the book of esther, thanks!  i should give everyone a prize just for not deleting this blog from their list of favorites.  but alas, i don't have enough prizes.  i do , however, have this little guy: to give away as a prize to one of the people who commented on this post.  the question was what you would want 40,000 of.  we got some good answers, but only one can be the winner (for the record, i would like 40,000 superbowl victories for the pittsburgh steelers).  i used a random number generator this morning to pick a number for a winner and it gave me number 5...which means megan is the winner.  congrats, megan!  you get 40,000 hours of paid vacation for your husband so he can do home improvements all day while you sit around drinking iced tea and eating bon-bons.  actually, no.  i can't give you that.  but i can give you a little collage i made called "sunburst."  if you like it, great.  if not, too

esther 10

in what seems like an afterward, added later by an editor to put a nice bow on the story, chapter 10 of esther is a mere 3 verses long.  all we learn is that the king imposed a tribute; that all his good works are recorded in the annals; and that mordecai rose to second in charge, held in high esteem by the jews.  as is typical of women characters in the bible, esther isn't' even given the dignity of an end to her story.  we have no idea what happened to her.  we only know that because of her courage, mordecai rose from sackcloth and ashes to glory.  in that sense, it is a redemption story.  but a messy one, to be sure.  i hope that at least some of you have enjoyed this lengthy jaunt through what seems to be a both familiar and yet completely unfamiliar little story in our scriptures.  i (mostly) tried to avoid moralizing and sermonizing here, although it creeped in from time to time.  instead, my goals were to (1) show the freedom we have as we engage and interpret scripture

esther 9

oh boy.  we've reached chapter 9, and in what should have been a chapter of happy endings and celebrations of peace and restoration, we instead find a brutal bloody story of violence and revenge.  having received mercy, the jews in this story fail to see the benefit in extending it, and instead resort to violence, killing "seventy five thousand."  scholars who have argued for a less literal interpretation of the story of esther argue that this mass killing is not found in the recorded history of these times and places.  but regardless of whether it is 'true' or not, it raises a poignant question for us about what we do with mercy when its been given to us: hoard it?  or share it?  the chapter ends with a detailed prescription for celebrating purim, a holy day still celebrated by jews who remember the story we've been recounting these last 9 days.  if you have the stomach for it, here's chapter 9.  esther 9 paper collage on vinyl lp; paper collage on album

esther 8

as we move into the final stages of this story, we reach resolution.  at least it seems that way in chapter 8.  when we get to chapter 9 tomorrow, that will be a whole 'nother thing.  but at least for today, we find esther petitioning the king one more time. she's been saved.  mordecai's been saved and honored as the king's new main man.  but this horribly violent edict is still hanging out there.  will all the jews be slaughtered?  she begs the king to revoke his irrevocable word.  and he obliges her by sending out a new edict, that says the jews are allowed to assemble and defend themselves.  mordecai puts on the royal signet ring and robes, presses the hot wax on the papyrus, and rides throughout susa and the surrounding areas with pride.  you can read the whole thing here.   for today, at least, it seems like a happy ending. esther 8 paper collage on vinyl lp; paper collage on album cover gregory a. milinovich esther (eight) what is the meaning of words? can they

esther 7

here in esther 7 we finally get back to the little banquet (actually the second one) that esther is throwing for the king and for haman, to try and ask this little favor that he not destroy all the jews.  she plays her cards right and things don't look too good for haman.  it looks even worse when the king comes into the room a bit later and it looks like haman is taking advantage of the queen.  how to punish haman?  ahh, yes...he had been building a gallows for mordecai...that will be perfect.  things have taken quite a turn, haven't they?  maybe even upside down.  oh, and by the way, still no mention of God.  where is God in all of this? you can read the chapter here.   esther 7 paper collage on vinyl lp; paper collage on album cover gregory a. milinovich esther (seven) as the world slips through his fingers, the king laughs. always laughing, always drinking, always empty, the king reigns. the world is turning... still, they are drinking, haman, esther, and ahasuerus all is w

esther 6

in esther 6 the tables begin to turn a bit (and the upside down world starts to rotate).  in a fit of insomnia, the king has someone read to him the royal records, in hopes that it will help him doze off.  as he listens, he hears the story of mordecai discovering the plot to asassinate him.  when he finds out that mordecai has not been properly thanked for this, he asks haman what should be done to honor a loyal subject.  haman doesn't realize the king is talking about mordecai.  he thinks the king wants to honor him.  so he envisions a royal procession through the kingdom.  the king thinks its a brilliant idea, and commands haman to make it so for mordecai, the jew.  and poor haman has to make it happen.  you can read the real version here .  "esther 6" paper collage on vinyl lp; paper collage on album cover gregory a. milinovich esther (six) pity, pity, pity, the king cannot sleep. shame, shame, shame, his trouble is deep. call on the court, bring in the news, r