Friday, March 28, 2008

Laughs, Frenzy and Brooms

Gonna be another busy weekend.

Cath is not only starring in a short film being shot (and, yes, if only she would blog more herself, y'all might have known more about it!) by stage manager for BADD's comedy show.

I'm also working the show ('natch) -- if you are in SoCal, you should come and see it. And if you aren't, you should at list click the link for the fun graphic and song.

I'm also prepping mentally for Script Frenzy -- 100 hundred pages of script in one month. Crazy, I know. But quality is not a requirement, and I'm good at doing things without quality.

Wait, that didn't sound right...
Oh, one last thing -- for those who have been rabidly following the college games, here's an update of how Middlebury is doing (thanks for the link, alumnus Tamara).

What, no Middlebury in your bracket?

Oh, I didn't mean that silly basketball thingee, I meant the true sport of quidditch (as played by muggles).

Somewhere, I can feel it, Janet is smiling...

Just my thoughts,


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Stop the World...

Ever wish life were a musical?

Or that you could just take the busiest place in the world and slow it down?

Why wish, why not do? I reckon that is the philosophy of Improv Everywhere.

A group that thrives on surprise.

Check it out.

Don't cry over spilt milk, sing over spilt lemonade. The musical.

Here's a moment almost as lovely as the one in THE FISHER KING. Grand Central.

Just my thoughts,


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

And All Shall Be Well -- Even More So

Linds says:

“I'm teaching my freshmen about the Middle Ages right now, and your post got me thinking - I've always been a bit snooty about Julian of Norwich's revelations. For me the cynic, they've always seemed to sweet, saccharine really, too trite (except for that 'all shall be well' bit - it gives me such peace).“Upon diving back into a turbulent, bloody, dark, frightening, judgement-filled time period... well, maybe God knew exactly what He was doing plopping a woman of such capacity for grace and light in the middle of it. The balance she brings is nice, and necessary.”

Dear Linds:
I’m with you – normally I would look on her as way too sugary – and this from a guy who mixes his Lucky Charms into his Cap’n Crunch.

But G-d gives us what we need when we most need it – and boyo, did they need a little sugar.

You got your plagues, your wars, your multiple popes confusing everybody, plus no wifi – even in coffee shops!

There was a lot of blame throwing for the ills of the day – including the old, “G-d doesn’t like us, so he is punishing us.”

It seems that Julian was a course correction for that.

My friend Joanna, upon learning of my discovery of Lady Julian, loaned me her copy of THE THREAD OF ARIADNE (A collection of essays by the faculty of Dominican College of San Rafael), which includes the essay “All Shall Be Well.”

Here’s some more things I learned that tickled my fancy:

-Julian lived in contemplation in her cell for over 40 years. That’s my lifetime! (For those reading this in Hollywood, please substitute, “That’s twice my lifetime!” Thank you.)

-Anchoresses were allowed to have a cat as a companion. Which at first I thought must somehow help in contemplation, as cats appear to be deep thinkers.

But then it was explained that they helped with the rat problem.

I can only imagine Lady Julian attempting to write down her visions, with a cat in her lap batting away at the feather pen.

-She showed a lot of emotion in her writings, which was against the typical religious writing which emphasized cool restraint.

A lot of religious art was moving towards showing emotion – including the scandalous “Fainting Virgin” that depicted Mary in a swoon at her son’s crucifixion. Scandalous because it was unseemly to depict the saints as feeling, rather than purely thinking, beings.

This groundswell of feeling in art was a reaction to the “excessive intellectualism” of the times.

Which makes me think that Lady Julian should be the poster girl for today’s contemplative post-modern church movement.

-Communities were (and many still are) very proud to have a recluse among their number.

That’s a funny idea to me. “Hey, see that loner over there? Yeah, he’s one of us. We don’t talk to him. We’re so proud!”

Brings a whole new dynamic to the junior high cafeteria.

Just my thoughts,


PS. Thanks Randy for noting T. S. Eliot’s penchant for quoting Julian of Norwich – here and three other times in his poetry.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Autism: The Musical

I first heard about this new HBO documentary at work -- they held a screening for employees that I couldn't make. So I got Cath to set the Tivo for when it aired.

Just now I learned that my friend Stephanie works with the kids that are featured in the doc!

Starts on HBO tonight.

Catch it if you can.

Just my thoughts,


PS Belle -- do you know anything about this? Would love to hear your opinion.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Thousand Words or So

Some pix to share. Think of it as Old Aunt Lillies vacation slides.
This one is just because I think my godson looks cute in it.

My godson is the yellow one with feathers.
Here's for those that think a diet of Poptarts and Doritos is enough.

Clearly such a diet needs more lard.
Here's one that's a revelation. Notice in this first shot, you can clearly see four of my nieces and nephews.

But by using a quicker shutter speed, the picture looks like this:

Proving once and for all that my nephew Grant is really the Easter Bunny, disguising himself by cleverly speeding up his molecules a hare to make them appear to the naked eye as a human form!
Thought y'all might want to know.
Just my thoughts,

Thursday, March 20, 2008

It's March Madness, and I'm Not Going To Take It Anymore!

At this moment I am in first place in my family’s March Madness betting pool.

A few things you should know before I say anything further:

-Technically I am tied for first place, with virtually all other participants, as only three games have been announced, and we all seem to have bet on the high rankers.

-I am bragging now rather than waiting a few hours because I know absolutely nothing about college basketball, so all my choices were random guesses.

But for the moment, I’m number one! I’m number one!

I should know more about the game than I do. After all, my family plays basketball constantly; we even have a hoop in the driveway.

But that doesn’t translate. For instance, in college ball, they have no rule about kicking off the garage wall, their boards are sissy straight instead of weathered curled, and I’ve yet to see a game with a pickup truck parked at mid court.

The truck, by the way, is part of the court, and using it as a pick is perfectly acceptable.

My oldest brother was a coach for a college team, and I pretty much blame him for my lack of interest in being a spectator. When I would visit him in Chicago, we would watch the games together in his basement.

Anybody know how long a basketball game is? Sorry, you’re not even close.

They last forever! Because one doesn’t watch them live, rather one watches them on tape.

So one can re-watch every play.

Multiple times.

In slow motion.

AND in reverse.

I would try to argue with him. “Do we have to watch this play again? Nothing happened!”

“True,” he would concede. “But we must watch until we discern the “why” of nothing happening.”

I knew, as a young grasshopper, that I would never be ready to leave the basement until I could grasp the remote from his hand.

When making my bracket this year, I guessed from the hints that ESPN gave about each team. Not the information, but the tone.

If the writer seemed biased on a personal level, I went with it.

(“Despite not winning many games, these kids are real go-getters!” And they win in my bracket.

“They have the best offense and the best defense ever seen in the sport, but they tend to smell when they sweat.” And I mark them as losing in the first round.)

My favorite method of choosing winners is by mascot. Simply ask yourself whose mascot would win in a fight.

Would a hornet survive a wolf attack? How would a panther fare against a lion? Could a bulldog take on an orange blob?

This tactic would have come in handy last month.

I mean, seriously, no matter what you think about your country, it’s hard to beat a giant.

Just my thoughts,


By the way, I am no longer in first place. It was great while it lasted.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Do Go Gentle...

Cath did a devotional for our drama group centering on service. It focused on Holy Week, primarily Jesus washing the feet of the disciples.

One thought that really hit the way I've been contemplating the events from the Last Supper through the Crucifixion is the notion of Jesus' gentleness.

Gentleness is often thought of as weak or passive, which doesn't really sit with the actions of Jesus.

The definition that Catherine found for "gentleness": "Strength under control."

Puts a whole new spin on the trials and the cross.

Just my thoughts,


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

And All Manner of Things

My homework for small group this week was to look up Lady Julian of Norwich.

She was a 14th Century mystic – a lady with visions, who wrote them down becoming the first woman to write a book in the English language.

The doctrine and revelations were a bit askew from church doctrine (including that of today), but she got away with it. You see, she was an anchoress, meaning that she lived 24/7 in a tiny cell in the church.

She even gave up her name -- Julian is the name of the church, and Norwich the location.

Apparently that level of devotion earned you a bit of respect, so you could talk about G-d’s love being all about joy and compassion rather than the more trendy law and duty, and the church doesn’t slap your hand.

I could quibble with her theology myself, but since I can't get through lent without candy, I'll give the lady walled up in a church for decades a bit of latitude.

The cell for anchoresses had a rule – they needed three windows that opened. One into the church so she could hear mass; one to her servant (even an anchoress has got to eat); and one to the outside, so she can give advice to any who ask for it.

Imagine a “The doctor is in” and “5 cents” plastered to the wall outside, and you get the picture.

This is where the “anchor” in “anchoress” comes from (next week we will discuss who put the “ram” in the “ramalamadingdong”) – she wasn’t to be isolated from the world, but anchored to it.

A life, really, of talking to G-d and to the people passing by.

Some quotes:

(Referring to G-d): “He is our clothing. In his love he wraps and holds us. He enfolds us for love and will never let us go.”

“God accepts the good-will and work of his servants, no matter how we feel.”

And her most famous line:

“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

What can one say to that other than, “Well said.”

Just my thoughts,


Monday, March 17, 2008

Saltpeter, John (Pins, Abigail!)

I've got to block out some time to watch this miniseries -- JOHN ADAMS on HBO.

Several people have already told me how great it is; and my friend Amy is one of the producers on it.

Cynopsis gave a review -- and cynopsis doesn't review:

"IMHO: While there is much on television I enjoy watching and am entertained by, there is only a handful of programs/specials/miniseries that can truly be considered great television - Roots, War and Remembrance, Shogun, Planet Earth and I know there are others you'll add to your list. Add also the newest miniseries seen on television - HBO Films and Playtone's John Adams. One of the most compelling and riveting programs ever brought to television, and if we're fortunate, HBO Films and Playtone will continue with others from the David McCullough series. But that's just my opinion. "

Already have it on Tivo, now have to find time to view...

Just my thoughts,


Friday, March 14, 2008

A Movie's a Movie, No Matter How Great

I was hoping for Horton to hit – and it looks like I hoped not in vain. Here is a strong review, made even stronger by being in Suessian style.

Thanks to Jeff for pointing the way to this critique. (Congrats, by the way, on AURALIA going into it’s second printing. Wahoo!)

Looking forward to seeing the flick myself.

Also looking forward to this one:

Early buzz in strong – including whispers (just whispers mind you) of the possibility that a superhero pic might get a few acting noms next award season.

Yeah, I’m jazzed.

Just as jazzed for this guy:

Everything from the trailers to the rumor mill makes it sound like they did this one just right. I may find myself liking the movie even more than the comic book (Robert D -- you charismatic devil you).

So there’s one for Marvel, one for DC, and one for Suess. It’s a good time to be an adult who likes cartoons.

Just my thoughts,


Thursday, March 13, 2008

I Think I Know What They Mean...

Sometimes I hear things and wonder, “I think I know what they mean, but really?”

Like the ad I’ve complained about in this blog before – the kitty litter that smells so fresh, they guarantee that your cat will not be able to find the litter box.

Really? As for me and my house, we want the cat to be able to find the box.

Today I heard a report that the hooker that was with the NY Gov is selling a music cd from her website. The reporter tagged with, “Who says sex doesn’t sell?”

Uh, I don’t think anybody says that sex doesn’t sell. In fact, it seems to be universally accepted that sex does sell.

There is a commercial campaign for a dating service that promotes itself with testimonials of people that couldn’t get on e-harmony, because e-harmony apparently has standards.

I get why the guy that is too skuzzy for normal society would use this other service, but really – is touting that this is where all the creeps are hanging out a plus for one’s business?

“If you don’t care about quality, date our members!”

Last night I heard a radio ad tagging with, “Prices so low, I can’t mention them on the radio.”

Really? The FCC is preventing salesmen from speaking their prices out loud?

I think I know what he means…

But really?

Just my thoughts,


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Shakin' In Me Boots

Warning: This post is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.

In keeping with the gross-out standards set in Fear Factor, I expanded my culinary horizons last night by ingesting something that makes my wife shudder.

That’s right, I had a Cap’n Crunch Milkshake.

Product of Carl’s Jr, the dairy delight is, as stated, Cap’n Crunch cereal whipped up into a vanilla milkshake. For those who can’t get enough sugar by mixing the Crunch with plain old 2% milk.

It was an odd experience, in that it tasted like Cap’n without the Crunch.

I have to admit, it confused my brain. I would sip, my brain would say “Crunch!” but then my ears would be like, “What crunch?” and my brain would be like “Cap’n, duh” and my ears would be like “I don’t hear no crunch” and my brain would be like, “Huh, that’s weird.”

And then I would take another sip.

Not sure how I feel about it.

Sure, Cap’n Crunch is the second best cereal in existence – and it’s even nutritious when supplemented with fresh crunchberries. And the semi-liquid form gets rid of the question of left over milk.

But still, the crunch is an important factor in the experience. And without the Crunch, one is left with just Cap’n, which brings up the whole question of lax authority on this guy’s ship – his crew doesn’t even have to address him by the formal, full “Captain.”

Nah, we need the Crunch, just for discipline’s sake, if nothing else.

So I think I come down on the side of, “one try for the novelty factor is enough.”

And wait for the Lucky Charms shake to come out.

Just my thoughts,


Monday, March 10, 2008

If Harvey Were a Cat

Purely on the random side:

Friend Jason put me on to this hilarious weirdness: imagine the already nuerotic Jon from the GARFIELD comics as so lonely that he is losing touch with reality.

Then take existing Garfield cartoons, but cut out Garfield and his lines.

And you get Garfield minus Garfield.

Personally, made me laugh more than Garfield with Garfield ever did.

Just my thoughts,


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Saul Wars

Friend Holly sent this on.

For the Star Wars fans -- an alternate take on the opening credits.

Watch the top one first -- then for those who question Lucas' improvements to the original movies, go back for the second set of credits.

Just my thoughts,


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Red Sky at Night...

For those of you wondering if the Gaffney boys look alike, here is a pic of my baby bro for your comparison pleasure.

Note: the photo was taken without any filters, camera manipulation or post shot alterations -- this is a result of a Mid Eastern sandstorm, which turned the sky blood red.
Yep, I see the family resemblance.
Just my thoughts,

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Odyssey in Ulysses Part Three: Calypso's Kidney Stoned

The further adventures of one man trying to read James Joyce’s Ulysses

Later: Jack and Heather both convince me to try something new: listening rather than reading. A group called librivox has volunteers recording themselves reading public domain works, which one can download for free.

Since I have a teaching gig that will require regular commuting for a week, I give it a try.

The first chapter I listen to was clearly read in a pub. People drinking while reading Joyce aloud. Not a bad idea.

Three things that work better while under the influence:

Surgery (as the patient, not the doctor)
Pink Floyd’s The Wall


Later: I figure out that Stephen, the guy I grew to like in the first part, isn’t the hero of the book. Rather some guy named Bloom is now center stage.

So that’s why Bloomsday book is called that – since the whole book is one day in the life of Bloom. Apparently the Irish celebrate Bloomsday once a year, by drinking and visiting spots from the book.

Mostly by drinking. See above.

Later: Back to my method – don’t worry about understanding the nuances, just track the situation.

Bloom is making breakfast – I’m good.

Bloom is shopping for kidney – I’m good.

Bloom is sitting on the john – I’m go… What?

I rewind the tape. Yep, our protagonist is on the potty, thinking grand thoughts.

I feel like I’m violating some personal space here. Like I should run the tap or something.

Hey, I joke with the best of them about the lack of privies on the starship Enterprise, or the curious fact that Jack Bauer seems to be able to hold it one day at a time. But there is such as thing as tmi in entertainment.

Bloom thinks on, as I can only wonder if Joyce coulda cut thirty pages from the opus just by having a Reader’s Digest in the men’s room.

Just my thoughts,


Monday, March 03, 2008

Juno Walking

My small group is reading Madeleine L’Engle’s WALKING ON WATER for the next couple of months.

For our homework this week, Catherine is making us write about Madeleine’s concept of “cosmos in chaos.” The idea (which she borrows from Leonard Bernstein) is that the artist creates order or harmony out of the bedlam of the world.

Madeleine wants to define all art as cosmos in chaos, while acknowledging that some artists “look at the world around them and see chaos, and instead of discovering cosmos, they reproduce chaos...”
Her conclusion: “As far as I can see, the reproduction of chaos is neither art, nor is it Christian.”

Here are some of my thoughts on the notion of “cosmos in chaos”:

1) Agent Maxwell Smart works against Kaos and for Control. Not sure that counts as an endorsement.

2) DC Comics has a slew of heroes that work for Order and villains that work for Chaos. The books make a point of claiming that there is no “good” or “evil” – just order or chaos. Or, to be more precise, order/chaos supersedes the smaller notions of good/evil.


3) The independent small movie JUNO was more popular at the box office – by 200% and counting – than the movie that won the Oscar for best picture.

Jon Stewart made the crack at the ceremony – with all the hopeless and depressing movies this year, “thank the Lord for teenage pregnancy.”

I think the appeal of JUNO goes past its breezy air and witty dialogue. I think that there is something in that little movie that fulfills a deep audience want.

And it isn’t just the politics of the thing. Both pro-life and pro-choice advocates have been claiming this movie as their own.

And it isn’t an issue of artistic quality or flair. Debate the cinematography of NO COUNTRY or the soundscape of THERE WILL BE BLOOD over the editing of JUNO – and you won’t get anywhere near the audience.

No, I think it has to do with cosmos in chaos.

Face it, all the Oscar best pic noms are set in worlds of chaos. Even JUNO, teenage pregnancy, divorce, marriage falling apart, and – yikes! – high school. On a personal level, that’s more chaotic than facing the killer after me for running off with a suitcase of money. (I hate it when that happens.)

Yet JUNO finds cosmos in that chaos – harmony – hope even. Love within anger and disappointment; family within separation; connection within disengagement.

It takes a journey from the unwanted to the wanted.

I think I can see why someone might resonate with that.

So, Catherine, my assignment is complete.

Just my thoughts,