Thursday, January 31, 2008

Oprah's Bubble People

Yesterday I woke up at 3:30am in order to leave Hyde Park with Erin by 4:15. We had to be at Harpo Studios to check in by 5:00am. Despite the storm the night before, the roads weren't in terrible shape, so we made it to the West Loop and found FREE parking! As show participants, instead of audience members, we had to enter the building through a side garage door. Then we checked in, showing our IDs and going through the metal detectors. After checking our coats we went down the hall to a warehouse-style room directly behind the stage. The staff had chairs set up along with a big breakfast spread for the 100 of us "Bubble People", as we were called.

We signed our lives away on several forms, which mostly just stated that all footage of us while in the building was property of Harpo...FOREVER (seriously, it said that in all-caps on the form). About 6:30am we lined up to go to rehearsal. For those of you who watched the show, you saw that it wasn't just one huge bubble around all of us. Instead, there were island platforms set into a shallow pool of bubble solution. There was a big island in the center and several four-person island surrounding it. Erin and I were at the back edge of the main island. Unfortunately that meant that we didn't get much face time on camera. I managed to stand on my tiptoes twice to peek over the shoulder of the person in front of me in order to get my face on camera for a millisecond (but it was still there!). However, in a more positive light, Erin and I were on camera at least four times...just not the fronts of us. To capture the whole group, they used a camera that was above and slightly behind us. That means that you could see the backs of us and the tops of our heads quite clearly. And we were part of a world record!!

After our segment, we were led offstage (but not before seeing Oprah a few feet away getting her nose re-powdered), and taken back to the area behind the stage to watch the rest of the show from a big-screen TV. Erin and I only made it through the next segment before we decided we were too tired, and that we should go home and just watch the show later on when it aired again. I know for most of you it aired at 4:00pm local, but for us Chicagoans, it airs at 9:00am and again at 11:05pm. On our way out of the studio, we were surprised by receiving copies of two Oprah Book Club books. Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth was the book they were discussing on the second half of yesterday's show, and Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth is the book that they are just starting.

Even though I'm still exhausted, I'm so glad that Erin and I got to be on Oprah. It's so much fun to say that I helped break a world record by being in a bubble with 99 other people on live television on Oprah! And we got free books, and we get to go back to a taping next week that will air later! It was definitely a crazy and memorable experience. I'm sorry that I have no pictures to post from it, but cameras and cell phones aren't allowed into Harpo Studios, so I didn't bother taking mine. Thanks, everybody, for sharing in my excitement over being on Oprah!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Jimmy Rhine!!

Last night we had the good fortune to see the wonderful Mr. Jimmy Rhine. To make it even better, we got to see him at the Old Town School of Folk Music, where Zach takes banjo classes. Jimmy's touring with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, one of our favorite groups. They were in town for a music festival at the Old Town School, so we went up with Matt and Chris (Matt takes guitar classes there, too). We went early and walked around Lincoln Square for some shopping during Zach's lesson, then we had a great dinner before heading back to the concert. It was amazing; all three bands were awesome, and a good time was had by all.Today we headed up to church in Evanston like usual, and Zach was the assisting minister. Afterward we stuck around for lunch and the church's annual congregational meeting. When we got home we watched Ratatouille, which was cute, and then we ran over to the gym. We joined the University of Chicago gym a few weeks ago so we have a place to workout while it's too cold outside. We can't wait for it to warm up so we can run and bike along the lake again!

That's all for now, but rest assured there will be more soon, after I appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show this Wednesday, January 30. I'll be on stage with 99 other people while a man attempts to break a world record by creating a soap bubble around 100 people. Look for me!

Sunday, January 20, 2008


I feel that this post is appropriate now that baseball's Mitchell Report has been made public, naming players who have taken performance enhancing drugs. Almost a year and a half ago I began seminary firm in my commitment to avoid performance enhancing substances. But now just over 18 months into seminary I find myself addicted to one a performance enhancing substance, coffee. And I have really needed it with all that we have been up to since our last post. So we'll dust off the Wayback Machine and I'll give you a quick review of all we've been up to over the last month or so.
Fortunately, we were able to take a break from the snow and the cold up here in Chicago, and we got down to North Carolina for Christmas. We were able to see lots and lots of family and folks that we hadn't seen in a while. I snuck in some banjo. And I was able to assist at St James in Newton and at Trinity in Vale on Christmas Eve. I also did a little bit of preaching at Holy Cross in Lincolnton. It was busy, but great getting around and helping out at all the different churches. We also found time to get to a Bobcats game and hang out with James Li. Here are some great pictures:

Once we got back to Chicago Hannah got back to work and I got back to class. For my January term class I took a class on Urban Ministry. For two weeks we travelled around Chicago and visited lots of different sites that are addressing issues in the city. We were able to see and hang out with Harry Belafonte, Jeremiah Wright at Trinity UCC, Michael Pfleger at St Sabinas. I just finished up the class last friday, and I now have two weeks before spring classes get started back. And with these two weeks I'll have plenty of time to blog, hold me to it.