Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Big Screen Clear

Over at Christianity Today, Jeffrey Overstreet makes reference to a slough of Christmas movies in his article, “It Came Upon a Big Screen Clear.”

Take a look-see, but pay special attention to the last section “Not Just Another Fairy Tale,” his take on the Nativity and Atheism displays at the Washington State Capitol.

Beauty vs. Rhetoric – it’s nice every once and a while to see Christians argue with beauty.

The article in general got me to thinking about my favorite Christmas shows.

Joyeux Noel is worth the visit. A Christmas Story makes me nostalgic for a time I never lived in. It’s A Wonderful Life simply for the reminder of the pain we go through for the joy we can live.

You can revisit last year’s blog to learn of my all-time favorite Christmas media event, and why. Part One. Part Two. Part Three. Part Four. Part Five. Part Six.

What Christmas/Holiday movies hold up for you?

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Monday, December 15, 2008

Buskers United

What is some of the best street musicians got together and jammed?

Or, what if they didn't get together, but just jammed together?

And what if it was organized by a group that also punned the phrase "playing for change?"

You would get this: a great version of "Stand By Me."

Kinda moving, along the lines of that doofy guy that dances around the world.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Today of 1922

This month’s book club choice was BABBITT by Sinclair Lewis.

A vivid portrait of American mores in 1922 – with nary a description of life and values that isn’t still just as relevant today.

The novel takes a look at the mid-life crisis of one George F. Babbitt, middle-class real estate man looking to find his place in the world.

The heart of the book seems summed up in early speech by Babbitt himself:

“Kind of comes over me: here I’ve pretty much done all the things I ought to; supported my family, and got a good house and a six-cylinder car, and built up a nice little business, and I haven’t any vices ‘specially, except smoking – and I’m practically cutting that out, by the way. And I belong to the church, and play enough golf to keep in trim, and I only associate with good decent fellows. And yet, even so, I don’t know that I’m entirely satisfied!”

And off he goes, in search of that rolling stone of satisfaction.

Which he can’t get no of.

Later in the book:

“Thus it came to him merely to run away was folly, because he could never run away from himself.”

The book is a comedy, with funny lines and funny moments, that well up to a sadness of the life of the man who has everything – except the courage to embrace a meaningful existence.

Side note: another quote that I can apply to far too many people in the past months:

“She was a crusader and, like every crusader, she exulted in the opportunity to be vicious in the name of virtue.”

Hmmm…

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Bit Player, A Robot and a Princess Walk Into a Bar...

Two STAR WARS adjacent things for today:

First off, over at Jeffrey's blog, he's all excited by a book cover. Now I'm not one to go all tweener-watching-Twilight over a book cover. But I went & looked anyway, and have to tell ya-

Jeff's right.

Book. Cover. Of. The. Year.

Second off:

As I surf blogs and articles on the net, I skim and pass on most, am intrigued by many, and get up enough excitement by some to want to participate.

And every now and then, I find a post that, dad-gum-it, I wish I wrote.

Mark Shea has gone and written such an article.

Nicely done, Mr. Shea.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sensational Sight



Here’s an interesting interview with my friend Buzz McLaughlin.

Y’all may have heard about Buzz through me either regarding his plays, or his book on playrwriting, THE PLAYWRIGHT’S PROCESS, which is where I steal much of my writing lectures.

(To ease my guilt for stealing, I make all my writing students buy the book.)

This article is in regards to a film he produced, THE SENSATION OF SIGHT, which is now out on dvd. (The movie stars one of my favorite performers – David Strathairn.)

I’ve blogged briefly about the film before – it is a beautiful, haunting, wonderful movie. Hard kind of movie to describe in a logline – but in a good way (not the messy, “gee, I’m not sure how describe this mess” way).

It is a movie of subtext and relationships and… Well, I’m starting to make it sound high-falutin’.
And that’s the problem with explaining this movie – it isn’t nearly as highbrow as it sounds; it just works the way that the folks that make highbrow movies wish their movies worked.

As Buzz says in the interview:

“We're trying to reach an audience that is willing to ponder difficult questions, but doesn't want to be led by the hand—an audience that will, if we're successful, accept the invitation and begin the search themselves.”

And does so without being high falutin’.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thank Fulls

Time for turkey and turning our thoughts to what we are thankful for.

Top of everyone’s list: that I am not a turkey.

Of course, the naturals: family and friends. And friends who are, quite frankly, family. And family who are, despite shared history, friends.

And a few things I’m thankful for that aren’t necessarily in the “of course” category:

- Engineers. Not only a great source of humor (Big Bang Theory and Dilbert) but also they designed boxes. I’m talking those office file boxes that come to me flat, and I can fold out into sturdy script carriers without the use of tape or glue. A marvel! (I take my office joys where I can!)

- Chocolate. Not all chocolate, mind you. Just the good kind, like the type that goes on donuts or with ice cream or in little foil wrappers. Not the kind that goes on chicken, or in twizzlers, or in coffee. Whose idea was that?

- Peanuts. Not the kind that causes kids to break out (although that kind is quite forgivable for being deadly if you cover them with chocolate) but the round headed boy and the kid with the funny nose kind. Wisdom that never goes out of date – “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt,” and “Sometimes I lie awake at night, and ask, 'Where have I gone wrong?' Then a voice says to me, 'This is going to take more than one night.'”

- He from whom all good things flow. Hey, while on the subject, check out this new video from BADD. You will recognize Cath and I as “Rich Couple.” Hee hee. Oh, the post-its say: “From Jesus.”

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fraggle Hope

Given my push lately for THE WATCHMEN, which is a cynical pleasure at best, I enjoyed seeing Cory's call for a little optimism.

Check out Cory's blog for a comparison of Fraggles and Star Trek.

I also have to say that my optimism gland got a little artificial push by Vicki foisting a little bit of the truly fun/awful THE PIRATE MOVIE on her "friends" this weekend.

"Give me a happy ending, every time!" And now, sadly, I know the hand movements that go with that.

Please understand, Vicki knows this is a bad movie, but still loves it. I suppose we all need a little bit o' that "yeah, I know, but still..." in our lives.

Buckaroo Banzai, anyone?

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Thursday, November 20, 2008

With Spotted Owl Stuffing, Please

Ben Franklin thought that our national bird should be the turkey.

If he got his way, I suppose that next week we would be having the traditional Thanksgiving meal of bald eagle and mashed potatoes.

Just doesn't seem right.

In unrelated news, Jennifer reminded me of this video, which I don't recall if I shared with y'all yet.

Using the music of John Williams to immortalize STAR WARS. Synergy at its best.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Who Watches? I Will.





As you are aware, I like my genre movies to have a little something-something.

Maybe richer than normal themes (3:10 to Yuma).

Or a little character depth (Dr. Who).

Or a bit of societal mirroring (Battlestar Galactica).

Or something to make you think because it turns its own genre on its head (Unforgiven).

If I’m lucky, a bit of it all (Dark Knight).

That’s why I’m looking forward to Watchmen.

That trailer gave me chills. Seems as if not only will the action be done right; but the characters, relationships and themes (body, heart and soul) will survive intact.

The complex richness of the graphic novel still gets into my gut when re-reading, even after a couple of decades.

And the thematic discussions (no easy answers, just to warn you) haven’t lost any relevance.

In fact, the novel is an ethical quiz book for our day – especially on the nature of power, and the use of such power (even in the name of good).

Oh – for existing fans of the novel, check this out for a giggle: what if Charles Schulz drew The Watchmen?

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Monday, November 17, 2008

Let's Cuddle and Talk About Our Feelings

This made me giggle. Multiple times.

Doritos is having a competition for its Superbowl commercial. My friend Michael stars in one entry called Mr. Sensitive.

Enjoy.

-Sean

Friday, November 14, 2008

How Scenery Becomes Real

In our pre-work walk this morning, Cath was telling me about the tech for ALICE IN WONDERLAND (see previous post).

She included a comment about Shon’s (the director) idea for flying in a sheet of duvateen fabric to create the rabbit hole.

“You have a duvateen rabbit hole?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she replied.

I couldn’t resist.

“Does Shon love it? Is it real?”

I’m telling you this because all I got from Cath was a withering look.

Someone out there must find this as giggle-worthy as I did…

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wonderland



Random things about “Alice In Wonderland” and me:

-As a kid, I never quite understood why Alice would eat something just because it said “Eat Me” on it. Although, a part of me would understand if it said, “I double-dog dare you to eat me” on it…

-I found the Rabbit a bit irritating, running around talking about being late. He wouldn’t be so late if he took the time to figure out the most direct path from here to there, right?

-I always thought that going through a looking glass was more sensible than climbing down a rabbit hole.

-I’d like to see Batman’s villain, The Mad Hatter, move to Sid and Marty Krofft’s Lidsville. I think he would be happy there, and maybe not so crime oriented all the time.

-The Chesire Cat is creepy. Creepy cool, that is.

Releve Studios is putting up a production of the musical ALICE IN WONDERLAND this Saturday – short (an hour), sweet (kids dressed as playing cards – doesn’t get much cuter than that) and sure to be a trip.

Check it out if you are in town.

Just my thoughts,

Sean


Relevé Studios proudly presents

Disney's Alice In Wonderland Jr

A Musical Theatre Workshop Showcase Performance


Two Shows Only!

Saturday, November 15th at 2:00pm and 7:00pm


Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza

2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd.

Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Do You Like Books? I Think They're Super

In what is among the screwiest of clauses any client has made me sign, the legal department of a certain company says that they will sue me if I mention or cause to be mentioned that I work for them or for their project.

On what I am sure is a completely unrelated topic, my friend John Schafer has posted a video about a project that he is working on.

To be clear, I am not claiming that I am or am not involved in John’s project; but I can say that I am featured in the video, and you are free to draw your own conclusions.

I’m pretty excited about John’s project. John and the team he has assembled – Sean Roche, Tom and Rob – are professionals at the top of their craft.

They each in their areas are constantly pushing for better storytelling, stronger art and a general “what’s the very best that we can do with this?” attitude.

I’ve seen enough projects in this arena that are content with whatever will sell, or talking down to their audience, to know how special it is to have a team like this working together.

I wish John the greatest of continued blessings for his project.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Today and Every Day

Keith Bowden, United States Air Force

Kitty Bucholtz, United States Marine Corps

Ryan Elliot, United States Air Force

Kevin Gaffney, United States Air Force

Luke Gaffney, United States Marine Corps, Active

Richard Gaffney, United States Navy

Wayne Gaffney, United States Army

Jack Gilbert, United States Air Force

Andrew Metroka, United States Navy

Isaac Metroka, United States Air Force (active)

Nicholas Metroka, United States Navy (active)

John Schaeffer, United States Air Force


Lady and gentlemen: Thank you.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

ps Feel free to add those that didn't come to mind.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Candidate in the Clouds

If you haven't voted yet, I suggest you take one last look at the season's political ads.

I think, once you see both the pro-ads and the attack ads, you will agree with me and vote for the black community organizer who wants to bring all sides together -- even Jabba the Hut.

Although I do question his choice of running mate -- sure, who wouldn't want to have a beer with Chewie -- but is he ready to lead?

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Monday, November 03, 2008

Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself

Apropos to my Halloween discussion on what we fear, I found this in the middle of Don Miller's blog:

"Last year I vowed I wouldn’t make decisions out of fear. And because of that I’ve had one of the greatest years of my life. I went to Uganda and got to meet with the man who helped write their constitution. I wrapped up an evangelism project I believe will introduce more than a million people to the gospel. I rode my bike across America. All of this stuff took some degree of risk. But when calculating those risks, I realized the only reason not to try was fear. What if I was wrong, what if I couldn’t make it, what if the project didn’t work? But none of my heroes are controlled by fear. The commandment most often repeated in scripture, in fact, is “do not fear.” Fear is often something unrighteous trying to keep you from doing something good."

Donald's blog entry isn't about Halloween, but rather politics, so if you're sick of politics, well, you've been warned.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Friday, October 31, 2008

Hannah Dabba Doo

Three posts in one day -- but this was too rich to pass up, and too timely to wait.

My friend Jennifer sums up her son's school Halloween dress-up. Worth the visit.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Halloween Sacred

With this being All Hallow’s Eve and all, the old debate for good ol’ Christians is back: is it appropriate to celebrate this American past time?

Is dressing up our kiddies in Frankenstein costumes a show of “mocking the devil,” and thus pro-faith? Or is it just asking for Faustian size trouble?

Are Fall Festivals a solution, or just a lame way to assuage guilt of depriving kids from the fun of Halloween, while avoiding the guilt of allowing kids the fun of Halloween?

More importantly, can we watch Charlie Brown collect his rocks with a clear conscience?

I am put in mind of my favorite Christian response to the holiday, from the too-good-to-stay-on-television series, NOTHING SACRED.

The show revolved around the life of a struggling inner-city church. Their Halloween episode, like most of their episodes, made one wonder where the heck (and was it to heck?) they were going with their story lines.

The C plot involved the atheist accountant for the church renting the sanctuary to a movie company to film a horror movie. The B plot was about Sister Mo dealing with a parishioner who stopped attending mass after being assaulted on the way home from church a year prior.

And the main plot: Father Ray leading the church through an all day traditional celebration of Halloween.

Reading ghost stories. Dressing as demons and monsters. If memory serves, they even had a haunted house.

All inside the church.

At this point, you may be wondering (as I was) – are these Hollywood writers clueless about what is sacred?

Turns out they were clue-full.

The C story line has the atheist accountant realizing that some things are sacred, and he foregoes the rent money and kicks out the movie company (a moment of incredible character growth).

The B story finished with a Davidian rant to G-d, of the “Why hast thou forsaken me?” variety, marking the start (just the start) of healing for the victim.

And the main story?

The annual tradition includes a day of conventional Halloweening; and ends in the parking lot for a bon fire.

Where Father Ray tells the congregants why this is his mentor’s favorite tradition:

We spent the day showing you everything that the devil has to throw against us, he says. Now let’s compare that to the power of G-d.

And such a comparison shows: the prince of this world has nothing on the Prince of Peace.

Those gathered then throw into the fire a symbol of whatever they fear, giving it up to the Lord, as the pastor recites a variant of St. Patrick’s Breastplate:

“Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ within me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ at my right,
Christ at my left.”

Take that, Halloween.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

It's Not the End of The World As We Know It

A view from up north (thanks, Dave).

Favorite line is his wrap up: "Set aside the stereotypes and labels that guide our thinking and it becomes obvious that while important changes are coming, the foundations -- liberal democracy and regulated markets -- are unchallenged. That's good news for everyone but excitable ideologues."

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Be in a BADD video - TONIGHT!

Greetings friends from Bel Air and around...
Not doing anything yet tonight????
BADD is shooting a big fun music video tonight and needs a partially full sanctuary for it.
Can you help us out? All ages, all types needed. A great way to see how crazy BADD really is!!
Sean & I will be there in the audience too. Come play alongside us.
See below for details.
Thanks!
--cath

PS: Feel free to spread the word.



--------------------------------



You know their faces. You see their video magic week after week on the Presbytron. Now is your chance to join in on the fun!

BADD needs as many extras as they can get for a video shoot THIS Saturday (TONIGHT!). Bring your family, bring your friends, bring your neighbors! We challenge you to fill the sanctuary! Details are as follows:

When: This Saturday, October 25th
Call Time: 6:30PM (expect to shoot for 2 hours, but once you've wrapped you're more than welcome to stick around and watch us work!)
Where: Bel Air Presbyterian Sanctuary
What to Wear: What you would normally wear to church on Sunday morning!

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'm Ga-Ga for this Guy


Scoot on over to John Medina's blog for this cool experiment.
I have to admit, I da-da'd, then changed my mind. Ears.
No, mind.
Right.
Just my thoughts (I think),
Sean


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Heart Surgery

I recently read up on St. Teresa of Avila, so the word of the day is: transverberation.

For some reason, my spell check doesn’t know that word. Okay, I admit that I didn’t either.

Transverberation is described as, “a mystical grace wherein the Saint’s heart was pierced by a dart of love by an angel.” (Click here for more)

It caught my attention not only because of the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious nature of the word (by the way, my spell check does recognize Mary Poppins’ word), but also because my small group had been discussing heart piercings recently.

As in Acts, when the hearers of Peter’s Pentecost sermon were “cut to the heart.” Our group was mostly focused on the language – which did better justice to the sentiment?

King James: “pricked in the heart” – sounds like a junior high prank.

Contemporary English: “they were upset” -- don’t get me started.

New American Standard: “pierced to the heart” – very poetic, but we still preferred the NIV:

“Cut to the heart.”

Many ways to be cut to the heart – by reason, by conscience, by compassion.

The shock and awe of coming face to face with the “moreness” of the universe.

The look in a friend’s eye, as we both realized I betrayed him.

Watching a child try to comfort a mourning adult.

They are big moments, those heart exposers, when perspective comes in clarity. Always painful – but sometimes that is a good thing. Not in the “hurt so good” way of the song, where the pain itself is looked to for pleasure.

But rather in the stripping away of that which would prevent the positive – prevent the reason, or the compassion, or the growth.

Or for Teresa, the love. The direct infusion of love straight into the core of her being.

I imagine that kind of love would be painful enough to leave a scar. (It did, by the way.)

Don’t feel bad if you’ve never experienced transverberation – very few individuals in the history of mankind have. I haven’t come close.

But hold dear to any cuts to the heart that you have had – they are rare gifts. Even in the pain.

And to keep from being maudlin, I leave you with a song that always cuts to the heart – the beautiful, haunting and mournful, Danny Boy.

Oh boy, oh boy.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

If Only John & Barack Shared a Drink Tonight...

In honor of the last presidential debate, I bring you a little perspective from our friends to the North.

David posted this in response to an earlier journal entry:

The American founding fathers sure said a lot of profound things. Compare that to our first Canadian PM, Sir John A Macdonald.

His most quoted one-liner?

At an outdoor debate he was waiting for his opponent to end his speech. The guy went on and on, so Sir John started sipping from his water glass, which was actually stocked with gin.

The combination of strong sun and strong gin made poor Sir John rather green in the gills. When he finally stepped to the podium for his rebuttal, he threw up. He calmly wiped his mouth and stared seriously at the shocked crowd.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the speech given by my opponent has made me sick!"

Thunderous applause.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rewrite

For anyone wondering what it is like to be in rewrite mode on a script -- or any other writing for that matter -- I think Cory says it best here.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Monday, October 13, 2008

Cyn City

I have a bone to pick with Jeffrey Overstreet.

Sure, you all know him as a nice guy, and the author of AURALIA'S COLORS.

You may also know that the next chapter in the Auralia Thread series is out, CYNDERE'S MIDNIGHT. And that's where Jeff and I have a problem.

You see, my wife and I just went to Vegas for a weekend getaway. Just me, her and...

Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here's our travelogue.


That's the Flamingo, our hotel.



Here we are playing the slots.



And we got some time in at the blackjack table. The dealer got distracted.



We went down the strip for a bit. Uh, Cath, our stop is coming up.



Here we are at KA, the Cirque d' Soleil show. The show was so exciting, Cath even looked up from her book to see some of it.

Once.


Cath got to share some culture with a cast member.



This is from the Luxor hotel. Notice all the beautiful things around you, Cath?



Even the polar bears can't put the book down.

And at the end of the day, the conversation was all about how unfair life is that book three hasn't been finished yet.

Thanks, Jeff. Only Rowling has given me this much trouble.

Friends, let me warn you -- Overstreet's books are addictive. Apparently even more so than Vegas.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Three Founding Fathers Walk Into a Bar...

In this season of taking things out of context for political spin, I thought I would direct you to 200 years of taking things out of context.

As y'all are aware, there are those that would have us to believe that all the founders of this country were conservative Evangelical Christians. (Ain't so.)

And there are those that would lead us to believe that the Christian faith had no influence on our founding. (Ain't so.)

Below is from a discussion over at Art & Faith, commenting on quotes used, in this case, by Bill Maher in his new movie to prove that founders hated religion.

Enjoy.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

The film offers three frequently quoted (or misquoted) lines attributed to founding fathers:

"Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man." -- Thomas Jefferson

"This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it." -- John Adams

"Lighthouses are more useful than churches." -- Benjamin Franklin

Jefferson and Franklin were deists (not agnostics or atheists) who praised Jesus as a moral teacher but were critical of Christian doctrine. Adams, though, was much more positive about Christianity and religion, and his line has been ripped bleeding out of context. Taken from an 1817 letter to Jefferson, the line represents a sentiment with which Adams rhetorically expressed some sympathy -- but explicitly rejected:

"Twenty times in the course of my late reading, have I been upon the point of breaking out, "this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!" But in this exclamation I should have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly [figures from Adams's youth mentioned earlier in the letter]. Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite society, I mean hell."

FWIW, in an earlier letter to Jefferson, Adams specifically affirmed what Maher quotes him to debunk, that the founding fathers of the United States were united by "the general Principles of Christianity":

“The general Principles, on which the Fathers Achieved Independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite, and these Principles only could be intended by them in their Address, or by me in my Answer. And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all those Sects were united: And the general Principles of English and American Liberty, in which all those young Men United, and which had United all Parties in America, in Majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her Independence.

“Now I will avow, that I then believed, and now believe, that those general Principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as the Existence and Attributes of God; and that those Principles of Liberty, are as unalterable as human Nature and our terrestrial, mundane System.”

Even the Jefferson line is also somewhat inaccurate, having been conflated to omit positive language about "Christian philosophy," which Jefferson describes as "the most sublime and benevolent, but the most perverted system that ever shone upon man."

(FWIW, this line was later cross-examined by Adams in another letter to Jefferson, in which Adams wrote: "That it is the most sublime and benevolent, I agree. But whether it has been more perverted than that of Moses, of Confucius, of Zoroaster … of Mahomet, of the Druids, of the Hindoos, etc., etc., I cannot as yet determine…")

As for the Franklin line, it is often quoted but never sourced that I've been able to find, so I have no clue whether Franklin said it (or something like it) at all.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

All It Needs Is Marian...

Since I was a kid, I always dreamed of having a house with a library.


And not just any library, but one that required sliding ladders, like where Henry Higgins taught Eliza how to say her 'atches.


I've outgrown that.


Now I want this one instead:



Thanks for the link, Jeff.


Just my thougths,


Sean

Monday, October 06, 2008

Not Around Good Behavior...

Another steal from friend Jeff:

Here's a blogpost I found especially interesting of late, as I fairly recently had to deal with some script notes along the lines that L.B. Graham warns against.

Here's a taste from his blog.

"Christianity is not about moralism, and Christian fiction shouldn’t be either. Christianity revolves, not around good behavior, but around God’s mercy shown to man in the death and resurrection of Christ. However, even though we know this to be theologically true, I think we struggle to remember this as we go about our daily lives, and one of the places where we really struggle to remember it is in our engagement with the arts in general, but as fiction is our topic, we’ll limit our reflection here to that."

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Control Issues

Colleague Rob Kirbyson wrote and directed a short film that has garnered much attention, and deservedly so.

"Control Z" stars Tony Hale (who I keep thinking I know, because we have so many friends in common that I re-forget that we only met a few times) and Zach Levi (who I worked with on a reading, before he created the role of Chuck, for no other reason than to keep Catherine and I deliciously entertained – thanks, Zach!)

Once you’ve enjoyed the movie, come back for a few more thoughts.

See – it was fun, wasn’t it?

And not just fun, it also has a little bit (just a little, let’s not go crazy) of a bite.

Notice Tony’s character is given an opportunity to go back and correct any mistake he wants. Don’t we all wish for such a chance?

And notice that he doesn’t use it to go back and correct his mistakes.

Instead, he intentionally makes new mistakes (intentional mistakes? Get me a dictionary…), knowing he has a “get out of trouble free” card.

Hmmm… saying perhaps a tad about human and sin natures?

Poor Tony is forced to live with his choices – there really isn’t a “get out of trouble free” card, after all. Especially knowing, as the assistant points out, our choices form who we are.

Now I’m regretting typing “intentionally makes new mistakes.” Let’s see, control and, where’s that button…

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Paul's Own



Teresa and I spent some time in the morning trying to figure out who among the current generation of stars was the equivalent to Paul Newman.


It was a fruitless conversation.


There is no equivalent.


Thanks to Jeff for posting this David Letterman clip remembering the great man.


Just my thoughts,


Sean

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Suspended Suspension

With every movie or television show comes a need for some suspension of disbelief on the part of the audience.

From the basic willingness to believe that you are watching a character and not George Clooney, to the more complex buying into the idea that the Joker could predict exactly on what street the police van would resurface.

I can be pretty good about such suspensions, but every now and then there is a piece of a show that I just can’t get past.

Like SAMURAI GIRL on ABC Family. Young girl comes to America, finds out she is a mystically powered samurai, kicks butt with a sword.

Sure sounded like my cup of tea.

But here’s a weird detail: the girl lived her entire life in Japan, and for the mini-series is in America for the first time in her life. Yet she has no trace whatsoever of an accent.

Which I wouldn’t care about – I buy a lack of an accent, or a cheesy bad accent all the time. Except all the older Japanese characters around her speak with thick accents.

So jarring to me every time she has a conversation with her driver/mentor, I had to stop watching.

Another example: PRIMEVAL on BBC America. Paleontologist is called in when a time rift opens up, allowing dinosaurs to wander the modern earth.

Cool.

But in the first episode, said scientist is given the chance to step through the rift and go back in time a couple million years. He has time to prep, and goes through.

And this scientist does not take a camera, or even a sketch pad. He doesn’t take any recording equipment, doesn’t bother to take samples, makes no notes.

Here’s a man who has devoted his life to studying the remains of ancient periods and life forms, and he has zero scientific curiosity about actually being in that period. None. Zip. Nada.

Can’t get past that, can’t watch the show.

A friend saw the movie FIREPROOF, and it seems like he hit a few of those “how do I get past his” moments. (I have not seen the movie.)

The one that made me laugh the most:

“The physical requirements to be a fireman in Albany, Georgia, must be really slack, since one of the new recruits brags about being “255 pounds of lovin’,” when what you mostly need is “255 pounds of someone who can drag your butt out of a burning building.””

So let’s make this interactive – what bits of movies or shows have thrown you out of the fictional world, never to come back?

Just my thoughts,

Sean

No More Cheesy, Churchy Videos

Our drama team - BADD (Bel Air Drama Department) is now featured in a CHRISTIANITY TODAY article. Check it out!!

No More Cheesy, Churchy Videos
Bel Air Presbyterian's drama department has mastered the art of making short films that are funny without being cheesy, and effective without being overwrought.
Story by Brett McCracken | posted 09/23/08

Go to the full story HERE.

Sean & I have had the privilege of being a part of this group for 6 years now. It's truly amazing.
Enjoy these photos from "On The List"! (That's me sitting down in the center as script supervisor! I'm working - really!!)


To view some of our past work - go to www.belairdrama.com and click on VIDEOS.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fake Montana

Not a lot of time to write today, so instead I'll let you in on someone else's pain.

Donald Miller just figured out that Hannah Montana is not a reality show.

I always wondered why no one in her high school figured out her secret identity -- don't they have televisions? But now I know.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

PS Favorite line: "Why are you comparing Hannah Montana, a supposed reality show, to House, a documentary?"

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Jesus Saves... Not!

Jeff provided this tidbit from Steve Waldman’s article in Christianity Today:

“Last March when polls reported that 10% of the population thought Barack Obama was Muslim, I counseled calm: Obama is a new character on the scene. As people get to know him, that percentage will decline.

"Instead, it’s gone up. The newest poll from the Pew Research Center showed that 13% now believe he’s Muslim - and a staggering 19% of McCain supporters believe him to be Muslim. Only 48% of Republicans say Obama is Christian (the balance is unsure).

"This is truly frightening - not so much because of the implications for Obama but because of what it says about how we as Americans consume information. With more time, and more information swimming about, the public has become progressively less well informed.”

I took a gander through the responses to Steve’s entry. I also checked out more of the ongoing debate of whether Barack Obama is a Christian or not (and apparently, as the logic goes, if he is not a Christian he must be Muslim – strange logic to be sure).

While Steve is fascinated by the “how we get our news” factor, I’m more taken by how many Christians really, really, really want to believe that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross does not save people.

Or, at the least, that Jesus is only a minor ingredient in the salvation mix.

Tim Keller would talk about “Jesus and…” types of Christianity.

What do you need to be saved?

Jesus and the right style of baptism.

Jesus and the correct translation of the Bible.

Jesus and the Church hierarchy.

Jesus and social action.

Jesus and earthly prosperity.

Jesus and being pro-life.

Jesus and the correct politics.

Now, being under the Lordship of Jesus might lead you to such “ands” – from the mundane of the right kind of baptism, to the critical issues such as life and choice.

But the core is, always was, and always shall be – Jesus. Just Jesus.

Obama says that he submitted to Jesus, that he is a sinner who has been redeemed through the act of Jesus dying on the cross.

He may be wrong at the moment on a lot of issues. For example, I think he is off on his views on abortion.

But when (I’m an optimist) he realizes his error and changes his stance, that will not make him a Christian.

If he became a Republican, that would not make him a Christian.

If he decided that war, after all, is the answer, that would not make him a Christian.

Even if he donated money to TBN, that would not make him a Christian.

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hot Pants of a Different Sort

Thanks to Jason for informing me of this hot new product. Now I know what to ask for my birthday.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ain't She Sweet?


Just so you know, that beautiful woman standing two over from Mr. Hanks is my friend and small group member Amy.

At the Emmy's.

On the stage.

Accepting the award for producing John Adams.

Just so you know.

-Sean

Monday, September 22, 2008

What I've Been Up To

My (Sean's) website is woefully out of day -by over a year - so I've started compiling the info needed to get it back in shape.

Looking over the list, I thought some of y'all might be interested in what I've been doing professionally, outside of my day job at WB.

So this is what 2008 looked like, in reverse chronological order (note that this list is only produced gigs, and doesn't include specs or pitches):

Current: Contracted to write two episodes of an animated series. (Name of series and episodes withheld upon producer’s request. Nah, its not that secretive, they’re just funny that way.)

Current: One On One, short film written with Dean Batali, is in pre-production.

Current: Paging Dr. Peter, sit-com length film written with Charity Parenzi, in post-production with Seattle Children’s Hospital.

August: The Call In, sketch, rewritten and performed by Bel Air Drama Department.

August: Paging Dr. Peter, sit-com length film written with Charity Parenzi, in production with Seattle Children’s Hospital.

August: Spoke on the “The Spirituality of Star Wars” panel for Beacon (Los Angeles). (Okay, not a paid gig, per se, but still a lot of fun!)

July-August: Commissioned to write One On One, short film written with Dean Batali, for Stonewater Films.

June: Barbarians at the BBQ, short film, written for and produced by Bel Air Drama Department.

June: Taught “Navigating the Studio System” for Act One: Writing for Hollywood.

May-June: Commissioned to co-write Paging Dr. Peter, sit-com length training film with Charity Parenzi for Seattle Children’s Hospital.

June: Sold three short film pitches to Stonewater Films.

May: We Are One, short doc, written for and produced by Bel Air Drama Department.

April: Who Needs Salt?, short doc, written for and produced by Bel Air Drama Department.

March: “Maundy Thursday Readings,” sketch series, developed for, directed for and produced by Bel Air Drama Department.

February: Taught a series of screenwriting classes for the Castro Valley Christian Writer’s Seminar.

January: My Babysitter Is an Alien, television pilot, goes into production

January: Taught “Literature and Film” at Biola University (Inter-term semester).

Just my past year,

Sean

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tina for Vice President!


Perhaps the funniest video of the week (for the three of you out there that haven't seen it yet) is the SNL appearance of Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton (see it here).

I was worried about posting, thinking some might view this as a partisan attack against the Republicans - despite SNL being very careful to skewer both sides .

But Sarah Palin said in her Hannity interview that she thought the piece was hilarious, so there you go.

Of course, she watched it with the sound turned off, so heard none of the substance of the piece.

But who needs knowledge to make a definite opinion in this day and age?

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I Think I Think...


Book club is reading Rene Descartes' "Meditations on First Philosophy" this month.

Deep thinker. Thinking deeply.

Not quite through it yet, but have to say his motto is a little too easy. I suggest this rewrite:

"My head hurts, therefore I am."

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

FRINGE Is a Bit on the Outside

Spoiler alert – I will be giving away the plot to the FRINGE pilot in this blog. Or warning you away, however you choose to accept it.

Tonight FRINGE airs its second episode – and it may well be a make-or-break one for me.

I watched the heavily hyped pilot from the creator of LOST and ALIAS this weekend, and here’s what I have to say:

Eh.

I never engaged with the characters, for which I blame the writing and the acting.

And I was never really on the edge of my seat, which for an actioner is a problem. Here’s some things that need fixin’, in my humble opinion:

-Let the characters focus on what’s important.

The whole shebang opens with a terrorist attack with a horrific weapon of mass destruction. But the drive of the episode isn’t to stop the terrorist, or to secure the weapon, or to find out if another attack is planned, or any other such global thing.

The drive is to find out what chemicals were in the shed, so we can save Olivia’s boyfriend.

If we happen to prevent the release of a chemical attack that could wipe out millions in one stroke, that’s cool too; but we aren’t going to waste any time going for that goal.

(When the bad guy is in custody, no one from Homeland Security or the FBI ask him any questions unrelated to the inventory of shed chemicals.)

Good for Olivia; not so good for the rest of us that she is supposed to be protecting.

-Give us a reason to like these people.

A lot of effort was made to make me care about the romance (this is the only man that Olivia ever truly loved!); but very little effort was made for me to like Olivia herself.

And if I’m luke warm on Olivia, I’m not going to care for her romance no matter how many loving looks you make me sit through.

-Let the good guys be, well, morally good.

Okay, the guy that runs the agency that is in charge of the security of the free world? He has a conflict with Olivia. Conflict is good, that’s what made Skinner a compelling boss.

But this guy’s conflict is this: Olivia prosecuted a Marine for sexually assaulting several girls. Yep, that’s it. You see, in a civilized society, we think that rape is just something good ol’ boys do every now and then.

You know, as a well deserved tension breaker.

This is the attitude of the good guys. Yeah, we are in trouble.

-Stop pretending that there haven’t been any advances in science since the ‘80s.

The whole of “fringe” science is based on the work of Dr. Bishop, a man who hasn’t been in a lab, touched a computer, or read a journal in twenty years.

And yet he requires no time to catch up.

In fact, he uses the lab that has been shut down since the eighties without any upgrades other than dusting.

No need to update the computers in this world; he’ll just take out his old five inch floppies, boot those suckers up and be in business.

I’ll watch tonight’s episode and see if they are on a path of correction before giving up completely.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"The Bravest"

"So now I go to funerals for men I never knew;
The pipers play "Amazing Grace", as the coffins come in view.

"They must have seen it coming as they turned to face the fire.
They sent us down to safety, then they kept on climbing higher.

"Now every time I try to sleep, I'm haunted by the sound
Of firemen pounding up the stairs, while we were running down.
Of firemen pounding up the stairs, while we were running down."

-from "The Bravest" by Tom Paxton

Garrison Keillor singing "The Bravest" here.

Tom Paxton singing here.

Just heavy on my thoughts,

Sean

Monday, September 08, 2008

Fast Rope

Just saw some video of my baby brother jumping out of the back of a helicopter.

He's coming to visit soon. I already have some equally extreme activities planned.

Like surfing (channel).

High stakes sports (poker).

And Target practice (not practice really; we'll probably buy stuff. There's a Pizza Hut Express near the registers.)

I may need him to use those fast rope skills to rappel off the couch and get some Doritos during commercials. I'd do it myself, but I don't want to show off.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Guitar Hero Worship

Cath and I were introduced to Guitar Hero by hard-rocking friends Mark and Nicole.

(My niece Nicole was with us too, but that makes two Nicoles which might be too confusing, so I won’t talk about her much; for example, I won’t mention how badly she beat our butts in wi bowling and tennis.)

As we figured out fingerings and the whammy bar to the beats of Aerosmith, we joked about what the Christian version of this game would look like.

We giggled at the idea of the wailing guitar solo in the middle of “It Only Takes a Spark,” or using the whammy on “A Mighty Fortress.”

Okay, there are actual rock songs of a spiritual bent out there, so a religious music version wouldn’t be a great leap. But would it come as a “Guitar Hero” plug in, or a separate, more sacrosanct stand alone game?

Just a few short weeks after that, the announcement of “Digital Praise,” the religious-minded alternative to Guitar Hero, arrived.

And not long after that, games specialist, Simon Parkin weighed in on the bad word of mouth “DP” was getting.

As I am not a gamer, I skimmed the first part of the article. But then the dissection of what makes something “Christian” caught my attention.

Insights like:

“The word Christian is, in the strict sense, a noun. It literally means somebody who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ. People get themselves in all manner of trouble when they turn the noun into an adjective to describe their work, community, bookshop, painting, tee shirt, video game or song.
“A book or song cannot ‘follow Christ’. As an adjective the word is, in essence, a term of marketing targeting a product specifically at Christian people. “

Or this:

“Christians should not be demanding video games prefixed with a faith label, as if that cheap and easy classification provides some kind of invisible moral safety net for their and their children’s media consumption.
“Rather, believers should simply be demanding good and beautiful games that delight in creativity, make people happy, present or explore the world in interesting ways and maybe, just maybe enable us to catch a glimpse of their God, from whom all good things are claimed to flow.”

Interesting take from the outside.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Off Limits? But It's Dirty Campaign Season!

So I was just sittin’ there when I heard the one about the governor’s daughter, and naturally I joined in the dishing.

What's its meaning for the campaign? How does it color the notion of family values? What does the governor’s way of dealing say about her headship?

And more vital to my television viewing concern, how many weeks are we gonna make this story last?

But as I’m dishing, this dude goes by, and he’s all like, “Shut up, fool. That’s unseemly and you know it. Talk about something real, or stop jawing.

“You should be ashamed of yourself.”

And then he’s off, muttering something akin to “to think you kiss your mother with that mouth.”

And I’m left thinking, "there's a politician who plans stay above the belt? That's new."

Maybe this election year has a sliver of a silver linin’ after all.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

In a World Without Don LaFontaine...

One of those folks that you know, without knowing you know. Don LaFontaine, one of the most recognizable voices from Hollywood, has passed away.

Here is a rare glimpse at his face, in this funny short showing Don collecting some of the other hot voices of Hollywood trailers and previews.

"And the rest was silence..."

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Friday, August 29, 2008

Hero Without a Gun


Cath and I stumbled on this incredible documentary (thanks, Shon!): THE CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR.
Desmond Doss is a man of contradictions -- he enlisted in WW II, insisted on serving on the battlefield, yet refused to carry a gun.
He vowed to never take a human life, yet saw more action than most others, being a key player in the harshest battle of the war.




Quite possibly the only soldier in American history who was threatened with a court martial and went on to earn the Medal of Honor.
Certainly the only conscientious objector to ever win that award.
Decorated war hero and pacifist -- a living example of the difficult, seemingly impossible third way of Christ.
My small group watched this documentary, sat stunned for a while over the power of the story, and then started debating.
How could a tale this powerful have gone so long without becoming a major motion picture?
The most logical conclusion we could come to: it is too fantastical to be believed as a work of fiction.
I hope you get a chance to see it. Let me know when you do!
Just my thoughts,
Sean

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Intimate Portrait of a Candidate

A politician and a spiritual writer walk into a bar...

Well, not a bar, but into a deeply intimate correspondence.

Donald Miller, the guy that gave the opening prayer at the DNC -- as well as writing a book or two, like BLUE LIKE JAZZ, opens up and lets us see how he went from a speech attender to close personal friend of Barack Obama.

Check it out.

My favorite moment is the Hannah Montana reference. I mean, if you can't ask a bud, who can you ask?

Thanks as always to Jeff -- who apparently thinks his purpose in life is to keep me constantly amused -- for the link.

Just my thougths,

Sean

Friday, August 22, 2008

When Someone Calls You And Asks You To Pray...

http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctliveblog/archives/2008/08/donald_miller_t.html

"...a man who’s more thoughtful in his answers and less bullyish, not as simple of a thinker, even as reality is not simple..."

Hmmm...

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Worth a Revisit

My book club just met in the cozy, dark bar of the Smokehouse (haunt of Hollywood types from Hope to Clooney) to discuss BRIDESHEAD REVISITED.

I haven’t seen the movie, and as I liked the novel, I’m not likely to see the movie.

Heard a personal review of the movie from Barbara’s blog (scroll down to “Brideshead Eviscerated”); she didn’t like it. Accused it of being anti-Catholic, and thus a bad adaptation – as the novel, in her opinion, is pro-Catholic.

As I was reading, with Barbara’s critique in my head, I started to wonder if maybe she was wrong about the book.

I mean, here are all these Christian characters, and they are so messed up! Maybe Evelyn Waugh wasn’t as fond of the church as Barbara felt.

And of course, upon finishing, I realized that it is the very fact that these Christians are so messed up that makes this such a strong Catholic novel.

Because it is a novel about, in Waugh’s own words: “…the operation of divine grace on a group of diverse but closely connected characters.”

The movie, according to the testimony of the creators, is a tragedy about how the Church causes so much unhappiness in the lives and loves of the characters.

Ironic, because (and this is a spoiler for you) – in the book, point by point, it isn't the Church that causes the unhappiness.

Julia's painful marriage is outside of the Church (changed to being with a Catholic in the film).

And it isn’t the Church at all that causes Charles and Julia to separate in the final "tragic" moments. The filmmakers have to go out of their way to twist Waugh's writing in order to make it anti-Church.

You see, Julia has already left the Church years before her breakup; rather it is Julia’s love for G-d that causes the woman and the book's protagonist to separate.

Julia knows she has to choose between lovers, and the Almighty is really her only choice. Not because of rules, or disapproving looks, or guilt.

But because of love – that harder love that sticks even when we don’t want it.

As Julia herself says: “I’ve always been bad. Probably I shall be bad again, punished again. But the worse I am, the more I need God. I can’t shut myself out from his mercy.”

The entire novel, in fact, is about grace chasing down those that need it most.

The brilliance of the writing is how this sneaks up on the reader – a novel about prodigals at the last moment is revealed to have been all along a novel about a Father running towards his child.

Shouldn’t be a surprise really. Waugh told us this was coming – the unexpected – in a little throw-away about a quarter of the way through the book.

“But of course,” she said, “it’s very unexpected for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, but the gospel is simply a catalogue of unexpected things. It’s not expected that an ox and an ass should worship at the crib. Animals are always doing the oddest things in the lives of the saints. It’s all part of the poetry, the Alice-in-Wonderland side, of religion.”

Here’s to the fun and whip-smart book about animals doing the oddest things.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Journalist Covering Fake Journalist



I wanted to write today about Star Wars, or Brideshead Revisited, or Harry Potter. But alas, Im' on deadline for a paying gig, so those topics will have to wait.

In the meantime, here's a NYTimes piece on my favorite serious journalist. (Thanks to Susan Kelly for the head's up.)

Enjoy.

-Sean

Monday, August 18, 2008

Shakespeare and Soderbergh

When I was leaving New York oh so many years ago, I wanted to treat myself to something special, something truly New Yorkian.

My gift was taking a day out of my busy packing and wrapping up schedule to stand in line for tickets to THE TEMPEST in Central Park, starring Patrick Stewart. A better departing gift I can not imagine.

(Although the water-proof boots from the Franco’s count right up there, as I was moving to Seattle.)

Shakespeare in the Park is a long-standing tradition, marked by standing in long lines. I understand the system has been cleaned up, but in my day the “free” tickets required three lines and a full day’s commitment.

Which translated to picnicking, Frisbee, a strolling puppeteer offering five-minute versions of the play you are to see, and a wide variety of buskers.

All culminating in an outdoor performance, always memorable (Denzel Washington portrayed the best Richard III I’ve ever seen) if not always agreeable (my head still hurts when I think of the drum-pounding, migraine-inducing TITUS ANDRONICUS).

And always pure populist New York.

Which is why I’m still chuckling over this brilliant Onion Satire, announcing the next season of “Soderbergh in the Park.”

From the article, as the artistic director justifies staging one of Soderbergh’s lesser works, OCEAN’S TWELVE:

"The mission of Soderbergh in the Park has always been to bring Soderbergh to the masses," Fletcher said. "And that includes even his more inaccessible material. Those who are skeptical will be pleased to find that many of the traditional Soderberghian themes are present in Ocean's Twelve: anger, betrayal, despair, the travails of cool wealthy people who plan crime capers, and brotherhood."

Brilliant.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Friday, August 15, 2008

For the Better, or For the Good?

(Warning: Slight spoiler alerts ahead.)

There’s a list of things in my life that I only have come across because I love my wife.

That list has two parts – first, the “yes, I love my wife, see I did this” part.

That list includes things like eating broccoli on occasion, sitting through yet another amateur production of a Tennessee Williams play, and scooping up kitty poop.

The second part – the “wow, my wife is cool ‘cuz I never would have found this if it weren’t for her!”

That list includes SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, whatever-is-in-the-cupboard nachos, and the movie ENCHANTED.

And now add to the list the musical WICKED.

I wasn’t too excited to see WICKED, what I assumed to be a simplistic musical exploiting the popularity of THE WIZARD OF OZ. Sure it would be cute, and probably somewhat humorous, akin to a skit put on by the youth group at a church.

But as a sacrifice for an anniversary present? Hey, there are worse things to suffer, so spending a day getting tickets and sitting through the show was an easy call.

And wow.

I mean, Wow.

Complex story-telling, intricate themes, sweet reversals. Marvelous music, very fine performances, interesting characters.

From the beginning, as the Ozians sing what should be a straight-forward “nobody mourns the wicked,” the audience is treated to a sophisticated subtext. Side-long glances and masked looks of concern show that this celebration has an undercurrent of unease – what if I’m found out to be wicked? ("For all have sinned...")

And as to stage craft, let me just say that when a certain little someone decides to actually defy gravity, my wife grabbed my arm and gasped in delight.

The conceit of the show puts all we know about Oz on its ear – good is maybe not so good, bad (in a spin on Mae West) may be even better. One would think that fans of the movie would be upset by the changes – but not so, as the rabid nine-year old Dorothy fans behind us made clear.

They loved it – maybe even more than casual fans of the Emerald City, because they knew it was written for them.

You see, everything isn’t just altered – all changes and character choices are justified, point by point, with hints from the story.

Think about it: Frank Baum’s Wizard is a humbug, a phony, right?

So run with the idea that a fake is running the government, spinning himself and his actions into something grander than it really is – and you have an idea of what is going on in WICKED.

WICKED nestles itself quite neatly into Oz Lore (we’re talking the Hollywood lore, here, people), allowing for both to exist simultaneously.

It’s all there, with a delicious explanation: the pointed hat, the shoes, the broom, the bucket of water. Even the heartlessness of the Tin Man, the freakiness of the monkeys, and why that Lion is so cowardly.

And for the book lovers, on every page is a throw-away meant for you. The non-readers won’t even know they are there. (At one point a character says “time is running out. Tic-toc!”)

I do wonder what Frank Baum would think of the piece. He wasn’t a fan of big themes, or romance – felt both were too over the heads of children. And I think he may have seen too much of himself in this new Wizard to be comfortable.

But yet again, he may well have seen this re-imagining as personally redemptive.

In one part of the story line, Elphaba makes a stand for the disenfranchised, trying to protect the extermination of the talking animal minority.

Baum wrote an editorial once about the obvious abuses that the US was making against the American Indians during his day. He thought that we had gone so far, in fact, that the only way to be safe from retaliation would be the complete extermination of the Native American race.

It’s a claim he only made once, I think. And I would like to believe a scenario he regretted even contemplating. I would like to think that he would admire Elphaba for her courage and righteousness, and wish to see himself in her shoes (or pointed hat, as the case may be).

I don’t think it is a mistake that WICKED, while sending Oz askew, sets Baum’s world aright.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Flash Dance with Flair

Mandalorians, as you all know, are a war like clan, existing in the Star Wars universe. (I know this because wookiepedia told me so.)

But did you know they are artists at heart, as shown by this video?

Thanks, Jeff, for a much needed laugh.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hmmm, Cotton Candy...

Today's quote is from Mark Brewer's book, WHAT'S YOUR SPIRITUAL QUOTIENT:

"Unfortunately in the Body of Christ, we've created an entire religious industry of spiritual cotton candy. Yet Jesus called us to be the "salt" of the world, not the "sugar" of it."

Friday, August 08, 2008

"You Got Chocolate In My Peanut Butter..."

Wowza. I started the week with so much to talk about, but the days got away from me --- filled with even more things to talk about!

We did indeed get into WICKED, a show that I have much to say about. But first-

History has given us a lot of great pairings.

Romeo and Juliet.

Lewis and Clark.

Laurel and Hardy.

Katee and Joshua.

And now, Chicken and Waffles.

You heard me right.

Chicken.

AND waffles.

Between the time of the WICKED lottery and the show itself, Catherine and I went to eat at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles.

I’ve known about this place since I did Act One in 2000, but never could quite get myself to believe that the combination of poultry and ridged pancakes was worth the bother. (There is typically a line out the door.)

But for an anniversary adventure – why not?

Never will I doubt again – the waffles are amazing!

Can’t be described, won’t even try. You have to experience it to understand.

When you go, you can try wrapping a bite of chicken in the waffle, but really the best experience is just to alternate bites.

So maybe the name should be changed to: Roscoe’s Chicken THEN Waffle. Then Chicken. Then Waffle. Then Chicken…

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

To Date, Perchance to Dream

Sunday marked twelve years of marriage for Catherine and me. (Yes, thank you, I am a lucky sog.)

In celebration, we spent the day Saturday seeing theatre, starting with HAMLET. A very romantic choice, the story of a guy who publicly berates his girl, kills her father, and drives her to an early grave.

Okay, so Valentine's material this isn't, but still a goodly anniversary present. What better way to make one's marriage look good?

"Hey, honey, remember how I never stabbed your brother with a poisoned sword? That's how much I still love you!"

After Hamlet, we wandered down Hollywood Blvd, heading for the Pantages Theatre in hopes of scoring some cheap seats in the WICKED lottery.

We had time to kill before the lottery, so we ambled, taking time to read names on the stars in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Did you know that the Apollo astronauts have a square dedicated to them? For television, naturally.

After killing time with a chocolate croissant (mine) and a berry smoothie (hers), we joined the lottery line.

Here’s how it works: everyone in line puts their name into a large drum. Then thirteen names are drawn, each name being allowed to buy up to two $25 front row tickets.

Winning the right to buy – sounds like a scam, no? Well, yes and no. The seats at full price are closer to $200 each.

I love my wife, but $400 for two hours of entertainment is a bit on the high side, especially for a couple that considers splurging to mean renting a DVD on a day other than “$1 Wednesday.”

There were about two hundred people in line. I was feeling good about this.

So good in fact, I told Cath to have the money ready for when they chose my name.

How cool would it have been to have our names called right after saying that? We will never know; we weren’t the first called.

Or the second. Or the third.

So how do you spend the rest of your anniversary day out after disappointing your wife by not getting WICKED tickets?

Or the fourth.

Maybe I plop down the $200, let her see it while I wait at the coffee shop next door…

Or fifth.

Okay, I watch Act One, tell her about it, then she watches Act Two…

Or sixth. Or seventh.

Was there anything on TIVO that we haven’t watched yet?

Or eighth.

Peace settles in. After twelve years, I know that our having a good time isn’t dependent on winning a lottery.

We will play the night by ear, and we will have a great time no matter what. Settled.

And then the guy announces…

TO BE CONTINUED.

Next up: I think I will try defying gravity.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Friday, August 01, 2008

Dark Justice

David Goulet says:
“My only beef with DK is that it could be interpreted as an endorsement of redemptive violence.
“I can see where some folks have compared the Bush administration's vision of America to Batman. Someone has to do the dirty work, so America shoulders this cross and takes out the bad guys -- alone. The references to terrorism/insurgency are not subtle in the film.
“In DK we never are presented with the Christ option, which is transformation of evil (our enemy). Batman doesn't transform bad guys, he brings them to justice. He's still an Old Testament character, despite his noble desire not to exactly repay an eye for eye.
“Now I realize igniting inner repentance isn't the usual m.o. for comic book characters. But if we're going to discuss the Christian parallels in DK, which there are, we must also discuss the elements that are missing.
“Funny, I liked Iron Man more than DK. Maybe because it had a little more hope in it.”

David,

Well said. As I stated in the review, I’m not sure I agree with the “third way” decided upon in THE DARK KNIGHT.

First let me address IRON MAN vs. DK: interesting to note that they both kinda deal with the darkness in a similar fashion – fighting violence with violence all the while hoping for a better way.

IM is more of the moderate’s vision – blatantly saying “warmongering is bad” while at the same time affirming that sometimes butt need kicking. DK goes much darker with its villain, and thus ends in a much darker place.

But redemption? Hmmm…

So what does the Christ-like action movie look like?

Don’t know. But here’s a start:

The prophet Micah tells us (6:8): “He has shown you, O Man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? But to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Simple. Yet not easy.

And movies like DK and IM got a third of it right -- do justice.

And it is good that we have movies that at least get that right. I applaud any movie that understands that the answer is more complicated than merely “do justice” – both DK and IM get that.

But walking in the Way is not an “or” philosophy; it is an “and” philosophy.

So where are the movies that “do justice” AND “love mercy?”

Not many, but there are a few.

In drama: DEAD MAN WALKING.

There is a striking scene where Sean Penn’s character – a murderer/rapist -- claims a conversion to Christ, then asks “So, when do I get out of here?”

Sarandon’s Sister Helen is shocked by that question – shocked that he has so little understanding of Jesus’ faith. One that has mercy AND justice. It wouldn’t occur to her that he would not pay for his crimes.

On the action side, I offer you THE X-MEN.

Magneto must pay for his crimes; he must be brought to justice.

But Xavier will never give up on Magneto, will continue to visit him in prison (hmmm, visiting one in prison, where have I heard that spoken of before?).

Archenemies? Sure. But that won’t stop Xavier from loving Magneto.

Note: A key factor that allows both Sister Helen and Professor X to behave in such a counter-cultural way is their humility. Hmmm…

Doing justice AND loving mercy AND walking humbly – very, very tricky stuff.

Figure out how to do all of that at once, and you’ve got yourself a third way.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

PS In his defense, Batman never gives up on Harvey Dent – in the movie and throughout the comics (through and including THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS).

And I still am a huge fan of DK.

Maybe next week I'll get all political and talk about how DK does NOT reflect the Bush administration...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

In N Out


Update: Before the screening, there will be an In N Out Burger truck parked outside the church, so you can get food on the hill. Makes me want to be there...


Part Two of Con Report

More stuff I learned at Comic Con:

-The women of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA like guns. A lot.

-Kevin Smith has a potty mouth.

-James Callis has an interesting take on what drives Gaius Baltar – at first talking about guilt, but then amending himself. Shame, not guilt. Interesting that he made the distinction between the two…

-Tricia Helfer is a class act.

-CHUCK is a fun show in part because all the people on it are fun. And having fun.

-Adam Baldwin is a rock star at Comic Con. And why not? Jayne starring on another geek show – who could ask for more.

(Adam Baldwin also stays in character a lot – but broke character for a great moment of genuine humility, as he told the crowd how thankful he was that his CHUCK cast mates could now feel the FIREFLY love he was able to get at earlier Cons.)

-There are a lot of Aussies out there tossing around American accents. (And apparently everybody from Australia is stunningly attractive.)

-The Warner Bros booth was popular. Just saying. Tried to get to it twice, couldn’t get in. And those Warner oversized bags? Not at all practical, yet the chic prize of the Con.

-Non humans have to use different bathrooms than humans.

-Staring at an Elektra costume in admiration for the attention to detail can often be misconstrued as staring at a babe wearing skimpy clothing. Just saying.

-Bryan hasn’t lost his whacky edge.

-Captain Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr. look really impressive walking around together the first time one sees them. By the third or fourth time, they start looking a bit fey.

-Coming to the Con without a camera is a dumb idea. You miss documenting things like the six and eight year old Darth Vaders in full regalia, one with a Wookie backpack, and the other with a Spiderman backpack draped over their capes.

-The funniest idea at the Con: approach everyone in costume (no matter the costume) and ask: “Hey, are you supposed to be Secret Squirrel?” (Thanks, Moira.)

-Cows penned in the middle of a San Diego street is just weird, no matter what your television show subject matter.

-The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd is a fun, fun show.

-Every time I go to Comic Con I win a raffle in a session. Nifty.

-SUPERNATURAL is now more popular than SMALLVILLE.

-Even if you tell an ape that you don’t think he’s dirty or damned, he may still beat you with his baton for speaking to him like an equal. (Discovered this by watching Cory get beaten by a pair of apes. While I stood silently by. As a darn, dirty human should.)

Just my thoughts,

Sean

PS. For more Comic Con photos (since I didn’t take a camera) check out breadwig.com.