Sight and Sound: Abraham & Sarah

My small group went for the replacement Sight and Sound show last Saturday. Our first Sight and Sound show — Daniel and the Lions’ Den — was canceled halfway through, so we had tickets for a replacement show. Instead of going for another Daniel show, the group decided to go to the Abraham & Sarah: A Journey of Love show at the smaller Living Waters theater. Here are the highlights of my second trip to Strasburg/Lancaster:

1. An interrupted journey

Two cars left Bethlehem in the morning. I was in the first car. After an hour plus in the car, we received a call from the second car informing us that they ran out of gas. So we had to turn around, go to a gas station, buy a special container, fill it with 2 gallons of gas, get to the second car, and fill the empty tank. Then there was this debate of whether the second car should go to the nearest gas station and get more gas before going to the show. It was already 1pm now, the show started at 1pm. Becky, the driver of the second car, decided to go to the show first and fill up later, which troubled many of us: What if the car runs out of gas again? What if the car does not have enough gas to go to the nearest gas station after the show? What if? What if? Anyway we honored Becky’s decision and continued on to the theater.

2. An interrupted show

We finally arrived at the theater at 1:20pm. The ushers had to wait till an appropriate time before letting us in. We had seats in the first 2 rows in the center block and they didn’t want us to interrupt the show for everyone else. We went in stood at the side of the theater at the very front. Just as Abram and Sarai entered Egypt, I bowed low and ran in from the side towards my seat in the first row, right in the middle. Two of my friends ran in after me. The others were able to sit on the available empty seats at the side till intermission before taking their proper seats.

3. Keen sandals

Sitting at the very front of the theater, I saw everything clearly. I noticed that all the casts wore Keen leather sandals and they looked really comfortable. I kept wondering if the sandals will get sweaty after prolonged wear. They looked odd but quite cute. After closer observation, I noticed that Sarai was wearing foot covers underneath her sandals. Yes, I was that close to the stage. Hmmm….if she’s wearing foot covers, I guess the sandals aren’t that comfortable after all and it will probably get icky after prolonged wear. Maybe I’ll get Crocs instead.

4. Floods of dry ice

Sitting at the very front of theater, I experienced everything more intensely. When they pumped out the dry ice, I felt the full effect. And I felt and smelled it again and again.

5. God’s sacrifice

After these things, God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (Genesis 22:1-2)

As Abraham was on his way with Isaac to Mt Moriah, it was one long sad and heart-wrenching scene. Finally, on Mt Moriah, Abraham placed Isaac on the altar and was ready to slaughter Isaac with a knife.

But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” (Genesis 22:11-12)

And I realized then that God spared Abraham the pain and suffering of killing Isaac, but He didn’t spare Himself the pain and suffering of giving His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us.

6. Donkey droppings

As Abraham and Isaac were heading home from Mt Moriah, the real donkey (Sight and Sound theaters like to have real animals in their shows) left a trail of donkey droppings all over the stage. Yes, I was that close to the stage. At least the droppings were dry, like brown stones falling and rolling around the stage…hahaha.

7. Shady Maple Smorgasbord

After the show, we went to Shady Maple Smorgasbord. Smorgasbord is sort of a Pennsylvania Dutch tradition of buffet-style restaurant. There are many smorgasbords all over the Lancaster area. And the Shady Maple is the Smorgasbord of all smorgasbords. That place can seat 1200 people. It looked like a megachurch from the outside. My friend commented that it’s the Church of Gluttony. The food was pretty good but I wasn’t that impressed with the place. They haven’t seen the food places that we have in Malaysia. Our varieties and tastes will trump all smorgasbords!

Top 10 D.C. Highlights

I’ve been wanting to write about the things that caught my eye at the museums in D.C. but things got really busy at school. So three weeks after the trip, here’s my top 10 in no particular order:

10. The cherry blossoms.

9. The lone duck (AIM)

I saw this lone duck swimming in the man-made waterfall (Grandfather Rocks) outside the National Museum of the American Indian (AIM). I found it really charming because it was the only duck there, so I didn’t suffer from the “see one, seen it all” syndrome here.

8. IMAX show: To Fly (Air & Space)

I’ve never seen an IMAX show, so it was a must see when I went to the National Air and Space Museum. I decided to see To Fly because it was the first and the most popular IMAX show. It was pretty good. However towards the middle, the horizon started to swerve left and right following the movement of the jets and the hand-glider and that was when I felt a bout of motion sickness. After that I just wanted the show to end and spare me the agony.

7. Planetarium show: Cosmic Collisions (Air & Space)

And I’ve never seen a planetarium show, so it was another must see. It was an ok show. But then I heard the narrator, Robert Redford, announced:

And in less than a month… incredible as it may seem…our moon was formed. That’s right. It took only one month to create our moon.

And that got my mind reeling: How did they know it was one month? How can they be sure of it?

Anyway, when the lights came up, I saw a 4-year old boy, who came in with his mom, sleeping soundly in his seat. So funny, he slept through the cosmic collisions.

6. Ghost dance statue (AIM)

I thought this was so adorable.

5. Creation story (AIM)

An American Indian creation story mural.

4. Gut-skin raincoat (AIM)

I almost bypassed this exhibit but I stopped when I read the plaque and learned that the raincoat was made from the gut-skin of seals. Gut-skin raincoat..that’s amazing! Actually, I don’t think it rains much in Alaska, so I should call it a gut-skin windbreaker instead.

3. American Indian baby cradle (AIM)

Beautiful and unique.

2. Allies in War, Partners in Peace bronze statue (AIM)

This little girl was at the back of the statue. What is she looking at?

1. Ito Jakuchu (1716-1800) (Sackler Gallery)

I was at the Freer and Sackler Gallery towards the end of the trip. Tired and suffering from the “See one, Seen it all” syndrome. And then I saw these two Japanese screens by Ito Jakuchu.

According to wikipedia:
Another of his famous pieces, dubbed “Birds and Animals in the Flower Garden,” is arguably one of the most modern-looking pieces to come out of Japan during this period. The piece, one of a pair of six-fold screens, depicts a white elephant and a number of other animals in a garden. What makes it unique, eccentric and modern is the division of the entire piece into a grid of squares roughly a centimeter on each side. Each square was colored individually, in order to create the resulting aggregate image.

This is my number one D.C. highlight.

DC Highlights: Cherry Blossom Festival

I always associated cherry blossoms with beauty, tranquility, harmony, sort of zen-like. I was expecting that when I was on my way to the National Cherry Blossom Festival. But instead of a nice stroll in a peaceful Japanese garden wrapped in cherry blossoms, I found myself walking in an atmosphere that was almost Pesta-Pulau-Pinang-like.

A museum burnout in D.C.

The Smithsonian Castle

Museum admission in NYC is usually around $12-20, so free admission to any good museums sounds real good. That’s why I like the idea of visiting Washington D.C., all those museums with free admission in one area…wonderful!

However, after running through 3 museums (National Air & Space Museum,
Museum of the American Indian and the Freer and Sackler Galleries of Asian Art)
in 6 hours, I realized that too much of a good thing is bad. I ended up browsing through many things but learning nothing much. I became a museum burnout.

After I’ve seen one porcelain vase from the Tang dynasty, I felt like I’ve seen them all.
See one japanese screen, seen them all.
See one chinese calligraphy, seen them all.
See one old aircraft, seen them all.
See one space capsule, seen them all.
See one native women’s dress, seen them all.
See one portrait, seen them all.
Seen them all, seen them all, seen them all, I ended up not really seeing anything.

I guess to make things worse, there were just too many people.
Long lines to enter the museum.
Long lines through security checks and metal detectors (yes, there were security checks at each museum, and the bigger museums have metal detectors too).
Long lines to the restroom.
Long lines to the cafetaria.
Lots of stress!!

I’ve learned my lesson, next time I’ll choose just one museum and spend my time slowly looking through the things and actually learn something during my visit.

National Cherry Blossom Festival

I went to the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC today. While I recuperate from waking up before dawn, long bus rides, day-long walkathon, numerous security checks at museum entrances, and people, people and more people everywhere, here are some photos of the cherry blossoms and tulips. Enjoy!

Innocent bystander of a potential cat fight

After watching numerous ads of Wendy’s new spicy baconator, I was persuaded to try it. The Spicy Baconator consists of 2 beef patties, 2 slices of pepper jack cheese, 6 strips of bacon, jalapeno peppers and chipotle ranch sauce on a bun. Total calories=880. Calories from fat=500!!

Today, I packed my bag with all the materials that I need for an afternoon of dissertation work in the library, took the shuttle bus to the main campus, and walked to the nearest Wendy’s for lunch.

The place was packed and there was a long line. I stood in line behind a lady with her toddler daughter in a stroller (aka stroller lady). Three spaces ahead of me was a small group of ladies and two of them were dressed in the weirdest “fashion”.

One of them was wearing a brightly colored polka dot bikini top with a thin white halter-top over the bikini top. The other lady was wearing a white sports bra-like top with a very low cut orange tank top over that (aka orange lady). That’s very unusual dressing, especially, when the temperature was 7C outside. I guess they could have pulled off that dressing if they had supermodel bodies but both of them were very heavy-set.

They definitely caught my eye, but I was busy mentally debating whether to have fries or a healthier side salad with my burger. And then to my utter dismay, the stroller lady started talking out loud.

“I cannot believe people will actually dress like that and walk out of the house.”

Then supposedly talking to her toddler in the stroller, “You will never ever dress like that. I won’t let you walk out of the house dress like that.

“What were they thinking dressing like that?!”

Then a mother with her 2 teenage daughters behind me started chuckling and nodding in agreement. I was horrified that a cat fight may erupt right there and then. And I would be the innocent bystander who got hit for being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

The oddly dressed ladies had already placed their orders and were talking to each other in Spanish. I crossed my fingers hoping they didn’t hear those comments. They eventually walked away with their order and stroller lady went up to the counter.

Then the orange lady came back to the counter for more sour cream and gave the stroller lady an “if looks could kill” stare. Stroller lady didn’t return the stare but looked at her daughter and said, “You will never ever dress like that, ever!

That was a very tense moment but thankfully orange lady just walked away. Stroller lady was definitely asking for it, very confrontational. Anyway, I’m glad that confrontation went by uneventfully.

I chose fries. I thought, what the heck, I’ll just overload my arteries with fat today and have almost vegetarian meals the next few days. The spicy baconator wasn’t that great. It was rather tasteless except for the hot jalapeno peppers that reminded me of cut pickled green chili that goes with wantan mee. But the jalapeno peppers were cut thicker and were spicier, pretty good, I’ll look for a bottle of that the next time I go food shopping.