Lots to Update

Life's been picking up for us around here in good old Florida.

Last weekend it was a rockin' concert. We went to the Social in downtown Orlando, a small intimate club that's standing room only, to see Anna Nalick, by far one of my favorite chick artists, and now even more of a favorite: that girl is only 21 years old and can sing and write songs like . . . well, like something else. (Don't have time to come up with a simile that fits.) I told Kirk on the way there that I hoped she could actually sing and wasn't one of those people who can sound good in the studio but not in concert. I was not disappointed in the least. This girl is the real deal.

It was Anna's last night of a 2-year tour, so we settled in for what we knew would be a good, long set. She didn't disappoint. Not only is her band composed of all-male rockers, but they each look like they've stepped out of a Def Leppard or Metallica concert from the early '90s. Except for her. She's cute and vervy and petite and, man, can that girl sing. Not only that, but she commands the stage and her band. She even commands the audience. She has no problem responding to their yells and whistles, making jokes with herself as the object of tongue-in-cheek ridicule, and then telling people to pipe on down. In a good-natured, somewhat hilarious way, she kept us entertained for two hours.

Before she came on, the concert had opened with a set by a guy named Joshua Radin, whom neither of us had heard of but quickly learned a few things about: 1) His music airs regularly on Scrubs and Gray's Anatomy, 2) It sounds a lot like Elliot Smith and the whole Good Will Hunting soundtrack, 3) He hates it when people talk during his set, and 4) His music rocks. Preview and buy the whole brand-new album here.

Anna let us know before she sang her very last song that they weren't gonna bother with going off stage and hoping for an encore. She wanted us to know ahead of time that they were just gonna keep playing after the supposed last song because it was their last show and they were damned determined to make it last. So she included, among the three encore slots, a montage of impersonations of all the people she's opened for in the past two years, including Sting, Train, The Dixie Chicks, and, oh yeah, some guy named Aaron Carter that she'd never heard of before. The montage was hilarious. The concert lasted until midnight.

This past weekend, to move on forward, we got free tickets to the Night of Joy festival at the Magic Kingdom. It's basically private access to all the rides for about seven hours after the park closes to the public, filled with Christian concerts all over the place. I'd never been to Disney World before, but it really is just like Disneyland except some of the rides go a little slower. Oh yeah, without the Matterhorn or Indiana Jones.

It really brought back a million memories of home for me to be walking around that park.

Our friends Tom and Cindy, who had gotten us the tickets, made reservations at Cinderella's Castle for dinner to start things off at 5pm. Then we went on all the big rides, hopped through the VIP line to watch Casting Crowns, tried out Mercy Me, but then ditched their concert for the way stinkin' better one by David Crowder Band. Man, can that guy give a concert. I've never jumped around and sung so loudly at a concert in my life. (Well, maybe that's not true. I've jumped around and sung really loud at lots of concerts. Anna Nalick's included, in fact.) But I lost my voice anyway. It was great.

After the Night of Joy, we didn't get home until 3 in the morning, and I had to be at work at 9:30 the next morning. We were taping one of the last installments of a DVD that will accompany a workbook series for that big health book we're publishing in January.

And next weekend, it's the UCF football game for us. Life sure seems to be picking up forus around here, and we are having a blast.