Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Dose of Drew

From "Nancy Drew's Guide to Life"

"If you see something resembling a shark in a river, don't fret. It's more likely to be a small submarine operated by thieves." -The Mystery of Lilac Inn

Don't you feel safer now?

On the Road Again

This weekend, Catherine and I are teaching at Taproot Theatre's Church Drama Conference, up Seattle way. Which will be doubly fun, not only as a reunion with Taproot for Cath and me, but as a combining of worlds.

Good friend Cory Edwards (of Hoodwinked fame) is giving the keynote and doing a bit of standup for the conference. His wife (and our friend Vicki) is also along, so we can have a lot of fun introducing them to our past lives.

While in town, we will be able to see Taproot's production of The Foreigner, which is garnering rave reviews.

After a few days in Seattle, we then head to Helena, Montana, for my godson's high school graduation.

Sheesh, I'm getting old. Another niece has already announce her impending nuptials. And my brother is a grand-father, which makes me a great uncle. But I've always been a pretty good uncle, so no surprise there... hee hee.

Okay, time to stop with the lame puns and get packing.

Just my thoughts,


Worshipping Music

Of the four Sundays in May, I have spent two at different churches in Atlanta, one at my home church in L.A., and will spend the next one in Montana. I figure this is either a call to comment on the variety of protestant worship styles in America, or at least an excuse to do so.

There are two main parts to the protestant service – the music, and the sermon. I’ll start with the music, leaving for another day my chance to explain why it is a bad idea for the protestant service to be mainly about music and sermons.

I’m not a fan of the music at my church (no, you read that right; I’m in a full disclosure mood). The band is very, very good – it isn’t quality that I’m not a fan of, but rather performance style.

You see, they “lead” worship in what I call “concert style.” The emphasis here is on serving G-d through quality – so the band works to sound the best it can. Decisions are based primarily on what sounds good on the stage. And the audience is invited to sing along if they so wish.

Another less hip style is “congregational.” Quality is still important to these folk, but it isn’t the primary concern. Rather, their worship decisions are based on what is going on in the congregation – even if it means that the band may not be as popular or cool sounding. The lead singer isn’t doing extra licks, or adding personal vocal touches, or any such things; he (or she, or they) is just helping the congregation to focus on the unearthly.

It is Taylor Hicks’ job to make the songs he sings his own, because he is performing. On the other hand, the congregational band is trying to be invisible (not as much applause directed at the band in these services).

To be fair, I don’t think my church’s band is going for applause – the leader tends to shyly turn away from the clapping – but make no mistake, the applause is directed toward the stage not the heavens.

Concert style is here to stay; the majority of protestant churches I visit use this style. In fact, the second Atlanta church has taken this mode to its inevitable conclusion: full on concert.

When it came time for musical worship, the house lights went to black, leaving only the lights on the band and the motorized Shakespeares – zooming through the band and sweeping the audience. The fog machine pumped out enough San Franciscan juice to make the light show stand out. The multiple cameras projected live images to the video screens, jumping around to catch the back up singers’ sway, or the guitarist’s special licks, or the brass section getting funky.

The only indicator that the audience was to sing along was the lyrics posted on the side screen – which was also true when the rockers that opened the show – I mean service – played their special number. But since we clearly weren’t supposed to sing along to the special music, I’m not sure how we knew to sing along when the worship band took the stage.

But sing along we did. Not as a congregation, mind you, but as individual fans in the darkness, rocking out our personalized worship of music, of singers, and quite probably, our Creator.

All in all, a fine performance, worthy of any venue that doubles as a sanctuary. The band and stagehands worked hard, fully deserving the accolades that we gave them with our applause. After all, if musical worship doesn’t end with a focused acknowledgment of how much we love our band, it can’t be very good, can it?

And now I know why I’m dissatisfied with my church’s worship style.

Clearly we don’t have enough fog.

Just my thoughts,


Monday, May 29, 2006

Fun With Classic Gameshows

My friend Graham has been working hard on a project that sounds like a pure hoot: Game Show Marathon on CBS.

The idea is simple: take six celebs, and have them compete elimination style -- by playing classic game shows like Beat the Clock, Press Your Luck (no whammys!), and Match Game.

On CBS, starting tonight (see schedule below).

Check it out!

Wed 5/31: The Price Is Right
Thu 6/1: Let's Make a Deal
Wed 6/7: Beat the Clock
Thu 6/8: Press Your Luck
Thu 6/15: Card Sharks
Thu 6/22: Match Game
Thu 6/29: Family Feud

Just my thoughts,


X-Men The Last Stand Review Part 2

Spoiler alert: This review discusses aspects of the movie that may spoil the plot for you, just as they spoiled the movie for me.

So the movie has great action and lousy dialogue. But for an action movie, is that such a bad thing? No, and X-Men III wouldn’t be such a disappointment if bad dialogue was the only thing holding it back. You see, the movie breaks what is a cardinal cinematic sin for me: it sets up a potential that it doesn’t live up to.

Mike Hodges, in speaking of the work of Akira Kurosawa, said, “Even within this action film, the morality that came strikingly through was like a samurai sword.”

X-Men III should have been a great film about something; a film more thought provoking and cool than simply using Kitty Pryde’s power correctly (and boy do they ever use Kitty’s powers correctly!) The first half of the flick goes about showing us this by setting up some real doozies of moral quandaries.

There has been a cure discovered for the gene that creates mutants – and this has thrown the world into a battle of ethics. Some don’t believe that there is any need for a cure, as they do not consider mutantism to be a disease. Others, while leaning towards allowing voluntary administration of the cure, balk at forcing the procedure on the unwilling.

Imagine this question in non-comic book terms. Suppose there was a procedure that would make one fit into society easier – wouldn’t that automatically be a good thing?

What if I told you the procedure were cosmetic surgery, a way to fit into the world’s standard of beauty?

Or if it were a race eraser, allowing everyone to be white?

Or a Republican Right Mindedness Pill, that would help everyone to only have proper, conforming thoughts?

Certainly, such things would help us all get along; it would make the world a safer place. Safer and easier, sure. But the question is: better?

Back to movies about mutants.

X III (unlucky thirteen) spends quite a bit of time setting up the questions, with a rich diversity of angles. Both the good and the bad (Storm and Magneto) make compelling arguments that there is nothing to cure; Hank McCoy gets to make a moral stand when the cure is used as a weapon; and even the other side of the question is given heart as the teen Rogue feels she is losing her boyfriend because of her powers.

And the subplots are harmonically themed, as Wolverine challenges the ethics of Professor X limiting Jean Grey’s power.

So the questions are set up thoroughly; now comes the time to wrestle with them.

And here the movie fails the viewer. You see, in the fury of battle, the filmmakers either forget about the issues, or the characters decided they couldn’t be bothered by them. At the climax, the three main voices opposed to the cure come to agree that forcing the “cure” on others is a good thing – at least when convenient.

In fact, once the issue leaves the realm of theory and enters into the practical world, convenience is the only argument given any credence.

Which is a shame. At this point, I have to believe that the filmmakers wanted to give substance to the issues raised, and would probably be opposed to the moral point made by their own movie. I base this feeling on the fact that they gave the issue a face – the face of an angel in fact.

Warren Worthington III (the third, just as the movie is the third) is the mutant who won’t go willingly into the dark night of plain humanity. He is code-named “angel,” and he sports glorious wings – a beautiful sign of his mutation. The character really only has one purpose in the film – to look beautiful, a visual reminder of our theme.

It’s as if the filmmakers are trying to tell us that mutation can be beautiful; and the cure would rob us of such beauty.

Too bad the beauty is only a featherweight.

Just my thoughts,

Saturday, May 27, 2006

X-Men: The Last Stand Review, Part One

Spoiler Alert: This review contains plot elements from the movie.

It’s not that it’s bad, it just isn’t good.

Here’s the short of it: If you are a comic book geek, there is plenty for you to enjoy, from spectacular fight sequences, to insider’s satisfying moments (Hank McCoy saying “Oh my stars and garters” is for us geeks.)

If you are not a comic book geek, most of this movie is laughable – and not in a good way.

The most glaring problem is the dialogue. My wife suggested that Final Draft come up with a feature that marks clich̩s Рmuch like it does a spell check. But the software would overload on this movie: no clich̩ went unturned, and no scene went without and overwrought speech.

The language drained the cool out of the movie.

Of course, Marvel comics has always been known (since Stan “Excelsior” Lee) for overwrought, dense dialogue, so it is no surprise that the movie would catch the disease. But it seems less condescending on the page than in the space between the speakers and the audience’s ears. And the more folks like Wolverine speechify, the less power of mystery they hold.

Let me rewrite a scene for you, to make the point. In the latter part of the movie (did I mention the spoiler alert at the start of the column?), as the team is about to go into battle, Bobby Drake points out that there are only a handful of the good guys going against an army of evil mutants. Wolverine then makes a speech about those that died before this moment, and holding on to their dream, and making things count and blah de blah blah. And he follows it with a “who’s in” altar call. Which might have been a moving moment if it was the first such speech.

How about this instead: Bobby points out how outnumbered they are, and how impossible their mission is. And Wolverine replies. “Yep. Let’s go.”

I’d rather follow that guy into battle than the talky guy. But that’s just me.

Just my thoughts,


Blind Dating Moves Blindly On...

My flick, The Importance of Blind Dating made it as a finalist in the USA Film Festival's 28th Annual National Short Film and Video Competition.

Of course, the title of the competition is longer than my short film...


Friday, May 26, 2006

Superhero Name

In honor of my small group attending the X-Men movie tonight (I have a very spiritual small group), I've decided to share a pic of Iron Man (not one of the X-Men, but at least Marvel) as seen through the ideas of friend, Bryan Ballinger.

And I could use a little help: by the time I show up at the theater tonight, I am supposed to have chosen my superhero name.

My wife has chosen Excel, and describes her powers thusly: "mistress of charts - creating formulas blazingly fast, while color coding and shrinking the font size. No criminal can escape the cell I put borders around."

Another friend has selected Target -- master of discount shopping. Her sidekick: Ross.

I've yet to zero in on the perfect name that captures my unique, x-factor abilities.


Just my thoughts,


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Friday, May 19, 2006

Excess Baggage

The plane finally arrived in Atlanta (my second trip within the week), and I was eager to stretch the old legs. But not as eager as the woman directly in front of me, who was so eager she almost didn't make it to the door.

She had a largish rolling carry on, with another bag awkwardly perched on top. After setting up her baggage jenga on wheels, she turned and RAN for the front of the plane. Except she only made it a foot and a half, before her cockeyed bags caught the side of the seats. So she stopped, adjusted the bags, and raced ahead another two feet to the next seat, and came to a jarring, baggage-jam induced halt.

So she adjust her bags, turned and ran... and stopped. And adjusted. And turned. And ran. And stopped.

Every single row from twenty to one. (Except, in the spirit of full disclosure, row eight, which she somehow got past fluidly, which allowed for more momentum when crashing into row seven.) The wide aisles of first class didn't help her, as she managed to dam up the passenger flow in the upscale seats as well.

She could, of course, have gone a titch more carefully and guided the bags smoothly and quickly up and past the bye-byeing attendents. But her need for speed didn't allow her to actually make any speed.

I suppose this story is a great metaphor for life, or love, or Nascar or something. But for now I'm just going to allow the event to be amusing. I was ready for a chuckle.

Just my thoughts,


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Rejecting Rejection

My first attempt at getting a novel published has met with rejection. But I’m cool with that.

Do you want to be cool with rejection too? Then follow my three easy steps towards “Easy Rejection Taken Easily”:

1 - Find a publisher who will say encouraging things upon rejecting you. Mine actually said that he liked my writing, and wanted to see my next effort. But you don’t need a literal nice response to find encouragement.

For example, if they say: “You work is a piece of crap” interpret it as “You work is a fertilizer, fueling creativity and affirming life in all who read it.” It’s all between the lines.

2 – Put the turn down in historical context, reminding yourself of all the successful authors that have faced rejection. If you can’t think of any, make some up.

For me, I just reminded myself that the publishing house that turned me down was the same one that originally published “Robinson Crusoe.”

Now my memory of Daniel Dafoe’s literary career is a little shaky, but I am pretty sure that his publisher previously rejected two of his earlier novels:

“Robinson David Caruso” about a man that quits a successful television series only to be stranded on a deserted film career, but then finds his way home again; and

“Robinson Clouseau” about a bumbling explorer that gets stranded on an island while searching for a legendary diamond, and is bitten by a dog that isn’t owned by a man whose dog doesn’t bite.

See, I feel better already.

3 – On the same day you get your rejection notice, get a letter from another publisher announcing that a different project is being picked up by them.

In my case, the same day I got my novel rejection, Lillenas Publishing notified me that they will be including a sketch I wrote in a book coming out this fall.

No to the novel, yes to a sketch. I can live with that for now.

Just my thoughts,


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Da Vinci Cannes Considerations

For early reviews of Da Vinci, hop on over to Looking Closer Journal. While there, scroll on down to "It's Just a Movie," a worthwhile read.

Oh, and while you are out watching Over the Hedge this weekend, listen closely for the Dr. Phil spoof; friend Joel McCrary voices Dr. Dennis.


Swann's Way, Way Long

Tonight is an exciting night for me. You see, it’s book club night, and we’ve been reading Swann’s Way by Proust -- it is taking us one month to read the first half, and next month is the second half. Then we will be done with Swann’s Way, which is one seventh (yes, one seventh) of Remembrance of Things Past.

So why am I excited? Because I am hoping that tonight I get some insight as to why I am spending so much of my life slogging through this thing. Don’t get me wrong, after the initial inertia of the first thirty pages or so, I started to find little gems here and there. And certainly he is a highly descriptive writer. But concise, he ain’t.

For example, at one point, his main character (the narrator) speaks of a time in the past when he saw the church spires, and feels the need to describe the spires in great detail. Fine. But then he describes the spires as the carriage he is in approaches the spires. Then he describes the spires as he arrives at them. Then he describes the spires as he passes them, and again as they disappear behind him.

I get it, he is inspired by the spires. You would think that page upon page of depiction would have sated his need to convey his love of the spires, but no: he tells us that not only is he impressed by the towers as he remembers them, but his past self was so awed the he wrote about them at the time – and we are treated to the long winded description by his past self.

Really, are spires all that?

I understand that Proust was the muse for Virginia Woolf, and I get that now. I mean, after reading Mrs. Dalloway, I wasn’t just afraid of Woolf, I was ready to go over to George and Martha’s place and help them kill off their imaginary child.

So the hope is that tonight, my book club partners that get the heady stuff – Jack and Vicki – can lend some of their insight and help me learn to love Proust. After all, I still have one-half of the one-seventh to read before next month’s meeting!

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Just my thoughts,


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Looking for Cory In All the Right Places

Three ways to get your Cory Edwards fix this month:

1) Check out the interview at FilmChat, Peter Chattaway's site.

2) Buy the Hoodwinked DVD and listen to the commentary (what, you haven't bought last week's number one selling DVD yet? For shame...)

3) Check out his highly amusing website, Cory's Curiosities. And when you go there, don't just spend all your time getting the dirt on Hoodwinked, scroll down for the best translation device for Variety I have yet to see, his essay entitled, "Hollywoodese: A Second Language." You'll be glad you did.

Just my thoughts,


Because I Said So

While combing the library shelves for the book of John Paul II poetry, I happened on another book by the pontiff that I thought I would check out. Crossing the Threshold of Hope has the late Pope addressing head on some of the simple questions – is there a God, can you prove Jesus was divine, why is there evil in the world – you know, the light stuff.

Read several chapters on the plane, and I have to say, the guy was getting my ire up. Not that John Paul was saying things that irked my sensibilities, but because the guy was so dang wise. And that makes the pikers that are leading other parts of the Church look even more dim-witted in their attempts to appear clever.

The fella I was thinking of as I read the words of Threshold was the preacher at the church I visited on my trip. His topic was the Bible, and he started by pointing out The DaVinci Code was opening this Friday. A lot of people are going to be questioning the validity of the Bible after seeing that movie, he said, so it was a grand time to give his congregation the tools to defend the attacks on the Bible that the book purports.

All righty, thinks I, this is just the sermon I was hoping to hear.

So this guy outlined four ways to prove to an unbeliever that the Bible is true. Ways one through three can be summed up thusly: because the Bible says that the Bible is true. Yep, he was advocating that we, with a face as straight as his, tell someone who doesn’t believe that the Bible is true that Paul said it was true, and thereby end all debate.

That is akin to saying that one can prove that The DaVinci Code is true, by turning to the preface and pointing out that Dan Brown says it is true. If I think Danny is lying on page sixty-eight, am I really going to take his word as gospel on page ix?

Way four was his claim that he wasn’t going to hell when he died, and it was the Bible that pointed him to such a salvation, so the Bible must be true. This is an argument that could have worked – pointing out that the Bible leads to true things; however, he had no backup for his claim that he was heaven bound, except that the Bible says so. Back to arguments one through three.

John Paul, in addressing the question of proving the ineffable, speaks of Scriptures, and of philosophers (Christian, atheist and in between) from Wittgenstein to Descartes to Voltaire, and of experience (human, moral and historical), and of science. And he does so in a simple voice, so that any layperson could follow the argument.

In other words, he engages in dialogue knowing his stuff, and is able to converse with more than just those that already agree with him.

Too many of us are content to argue thusly: “You should believe because I believe,” and then we stick our fingers in our ears and sing loudly, “la la la la, I can’t hear you, la la la!”

Because that has worked so well for us before…

Just my thoughts,


Sunday, May 14, 2006

Grand Time in Atlanta

Back from Hotlanta, which was pretty cool most of the time. That's a temperature statement, although Atlanta is rather happening.

The musical, DREAM ON! went very well. The kids did a great job. I saw a few weak spots in the script that I knew immediately how to correct. Worse thing in the world for a writer: sitting in a performance realizing their mistakes.

But the directing was solid, the choreography very nice, and, as I said, the kids rocked.

And something else I relearn every year: you can sweat all you want getting the music, lyrics and orchestration perfect, but once a six-year-old kid walks out in his Abraham Lincoln costume and starts to warble, whatever comes out is gold.

Oh, and I found a new Atlanta experience: dinner at Sal Grosso.

My hosts, David and Jennifer Schuchmann treated me to this Brazilian dining extravaganza. First there is the salad bar, which is impressive on its own. But the real fun begins when you get back to your table.

Each diner has a card, one side red, one side green. As long as the green side is up, a server comes to the table with a skewer of meat. They slice, you pile it on your plate, and a few moments later another server comes by with another type of meat. They had top sirloin, bottom roast, filet mignon, beef skewers, prime rib, pork chops, pork loin, sausages, chicken skewers, chicken breasts, swordfish, a couple varieties of lamb and many more whose names I didn't catch as they piled through.

Whoa. I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing more decadently American as Brazilian style meat eating.

Just my thoughts,


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hoodwinked is #1

It's true: The Hoodwinked DVD topped the DVD sales charts.
Head on over to Cory Edward's blog for the "official Hollywood Reporter story".

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Going to Atlanta for the Hoe-down...

So this weekend is the first of two Atlanta trips this month. This weekend is the opening of Dream On!, a musical I co-wrote with director Jennifer Schuchmann, music by Randy West, and additional music and arrangements by Ray Schnurr.

The show is Randy and my second commission with American Heritage Academy, a K-12 private school outside of Atlanta. The pic is from last year's show - Super Hero High (conceived and produced prior to Sky High, thank you very much).

In addition to seeing the show, I will be paying for my passage by teaching two script writing classes for any in the area (How to Structure a Well Told Tale, and Writing Dialogue that Sounds Right).

Looking forward to the trip, excited to see the show, can't wait to hang with Jennifer, but I'm already missing my new kitties.

Hmmn. I'm becoming a crazy cat person...


Safety First!

Okay, so I was climbing this tree the other day, and realized that there were wires running through it. So I said to myself, "Self, is this safe?"

Fortunately I remembered seeing the safety ad that my nephew created that ran in his local paper, and I got out of that tree.

Thank you, Michael, and congratulations! (I especially enjoyed the drawing of the man being electrocuted -- yep, Michael is a Gaffney all right!)


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Another Poem from a Playwright

I wanted to share a taste more of the poetry of Karol Wojtyla (aka Pope John Paul II).

Here again, I am taking my sample from Selected Poems, translated by Jerzy Peterkiewicz.

In “Profiles of a Cyrenean,” the poet explores Simon, the man forced to carry Jesus’ cross – but explores as though he were a series of other people – the blind, a girl disappointed in love, children, a factory worker, and on. I love this series of poems.

Here’s one:


So many grew round me, through me,
from my self, as it were.
I became a channel, unleashing a force
called a man.
Did not the others crowding in, distort
the man that I am?
Being each of them, always imperfect,
myself to myself too near,
he who survives in me, can he ever
look at himself without fear?

Just his thoughts,


Monday, May 08, 2006

Sean & Cath get R & R

Presenting River ...

and Rayn (pronounced "rain").

The newest members of our household.
We adopted these sweet one-year old silver tabby siblings May 6th.

Here they are playing by their kitty condo.
Rayn (the girl) is at the top of the picture. River (the boy) is at the bottom, showing you his beautiful tummy!

Yes, we are gushing parents! And we love it!

Trivia Revealed: The Famous Playwright

The answer is, of course, Karol Wojtyla (aka Pope John Paul II). [Congrats james of faceplant – first time to my blog, and a first time winner!]

My friend Rich got to perform in his play, The Jeweler’s Shop.

There is, of course, an overwhelming amount of things to admire in this man. I was forever changed as I watched news reports of him going to the cell of the assassin that shot him, and not only forgiving the man, but ministering to him. I know of very few world leaders that get the concept of justice AND mercy.

But one thing that has always gotten to me about him is how he thinks like a playwright – he walks in the shoes of others, the way a writer needs to, and seems to understand the “other” when in conversation, or creating policy, or interpreting God’s Word. (I know I am using present tense – can’t seem to make it past.)

I have discovered this in his poetry as well (written before his Papal days). I’ve been using these poems for meditation purposes (without a prescription), and am struck by the fact that, well, he is getting me to not only read poetry, but to think about them. (What is the world coming to?)

Here is a piece from Collected Poems, translated by Jerzy Peterkiewicz, from the series of poems called “Mother.” Notice how he gets inside John’s head here:

“John beseeches her”

Don’t lower the wave of my heart,
it swells to your eyes, Mother;
don’t alter love, but bring the wave to me
in your translucent hands.

He asked for this.

I am John the fisherman. There isn’t much
in me to love.

I feel I am still on that lake shore,
gravel crunching under my feet—
and, suddenly—Him.

You will embrace His mystery in me no more,
yet quietly I spread round your thoughts like myrtle.
And calling you Mother—His wish—
I beseech you: may this word
never grow less for you.

True, it’s not easy to measure the meaning
of the words He breathed into us both
so that all earlier love in those words
should be concealed.

Just my thoughts,


Friday, May 05, 2006

Trivia Revisited

So with only one participant, I'm giving more chances to the rest of y'all.

Yesterday's clues:

He was a professional playwright and poet.

Worldwide, he arguably has higher name recognition than any other playwright (including Neil Simon!) -- although for the name he last worked under, not the name he was born with.

Many of his poems were published under the pen name, "Gruda," which translates to "a clod of earth."

Today's give-away clues:

Although not famous as an actor, whenever he delivered his celebrated balcony soliloquies, it was always to standing room only crowds.

One reason that he often published his early poems anonymously was because his day job at the time was illegal.

When I was a kid, I wanted to name two of my kittens after him. My brother decided to name two other kittens from that litter "George" and "Ringo." Weird, my brother is.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Trivia Question for Today

Name the man:

He was a professional playwright and poet.

Worldwide, he arguably has higher name recognition than any other playwright (including Neil Simon!) -- although for the name he last worked under, not the name he was born with.

Many of his poems were published under the pen name, "Gruda," which translates to "a clod of earth."


Viewing Marines

I spent most of yesterday driving out to 29 Palms to visit my baby brother Luke -- pictured here with his wife (can you still call him "baby" when he is a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, and a platoon commander? Wait, I'm older, I outrank him. Baby it is.)

The most important thing I learned from a day on a military base: Their PX sold out of Hoodwinked in one day -- the only release this week to do so.

To be fair, they didn't get as many copies of Hoodwinked as they wanted. The sales clerk was complaining that their distributer doesn't understand what sells to marines -- she predicted that the Red Ridinghood flick would have brisk sales. Comes down to knowing your audience.

Just to confirm that the Marine/DVD market is misunderstood, Luke tells me that the large display of Brokeback Mountain vids on his regular base pretty much went untouched.

Yeah, gotta know your market.

Just my thoughts,


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Hoodwinked Today!

My friend's film (and one of my personal favorites) Hoodwinked is now available on DVD.

I don't think there has been a more significant film in recent times, impacting the world for the Kingdom and forcing Hollywood to view religious topic films in a whole new... wait. Oh, right, I'm thinking of Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ.

As to the critter flick, it makes me roll with laughter every time I see it (which has been often), and is worth the repeat viewings that DVD ownership allows.

Can't wait to hear the commentary track (if any of you aren't familiar with the other life of director Cory Edwards -- the guy made his living in standup comedy. He can't even talk about his film without being highly entertaining!)

Just my thoughts,

Miss Sarah and Miss Elena

In a Teapot...

Last month’s Great Books selection was The Tempest by Willy “The Man” Shakespeare. Okay, maybe he wasn’t called “The Man,” but wouldn’t that have been great if he was? And if Chris Marlowe was nicknamed “Chico” instead of “Kit?”

Look at that, haven’t even started talking, and already I’m on a tangent.

So The Tempest is a strange little play about a guy that has been badly wronged (Prospero), who gets a chance to get back at those that wronged him. He uses magical powers to get them stranded on his island, and he leads them right into his clutches, and then he… completely forgives them, and they all live happily ever after.

So that whole complete, undeserved forgiveness thing: great in a Christian, not so powerful for a play’s plot. As Bob Massey pointed out, all set up, no payoff.

Now Master Jack Gilbert had another take on the play – it wasn’t intended to be about plot, at least not about the folks that wronged our hero. No, it is all about Prospero and William. You see, this was the last play that Shakespeare wrote by himself, and many (including Jack) see this as wild Bill’s final hurrah, his way of saying “ta-ta” to his audience. And for that fare-thee-well, Prospero is a stand in for the playwright.

This is supported in Prospero’s speeches using play metaphors to describe his powers, such as the famous:

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air…
We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

Sure sounds like a playwright saying the play is ending. At by the stories finale, Prospero lays down his books, the ones that allow him to create all these magical worlds.

As if to say that William Shakespeare is now done, and his fabrications ready to fade.

It seems almost fatalistic – although a joyful fatalism that chooses to go out on a note of grace rather than spite. Here is the Bard himself, saying

…the great globe itself
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind.

Really, Bill? Your stuff is just going to fade away? I wonder if he really thought that his work was done; or was he just playing up false modesty, knowing in his heart of hearts that a couple of C-notes later folks like me would be blogging about him?

I’d like to think it is a mix. With the humility expressed by Prospero, mayhap he was indeed saying goodbye, knowing that he would be setting down the pen soon – but that the books he would toss into the sea may find themselves floating off to new readers. His earlier work may be going farther than the man himself, may be saying more than he alone could.

After all, this is the same play where he says “the past is prologue…”

Methinks he doth profess much…

Just my thoughts,


PS The picture is from the NY Shakespeare fest’s production, Patrick Stewart as Prospero. One of my last acts before leaving NY oh so many years ago was watching this production. What a gift…

Monday, May 01, 2006

And the Award Goes To...

My short film, The Importance of Blind Dating, won bronze in World Fest, The Houston International Film Festival - Romantic Comedy category.


Congrats to director Jim, producers Susan and Tim, and the whole Blind Dating gang!

Just patting myself on the back,