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,


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

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Star Theology

We interrupt Comic-Con news for this important announcement:

This Sunday, BEACON (a entertainment industry group from my church) is sponsoring a screening of STAR WARS.

After the screening, I am on a panel with Bob Lee, Cory Edwards and others to discuss the Theology of Star Wars.

Free event, if any are interested.

I am also looking for pointers, hint hint.

I of course will be prepared to talk about Mr. Lucas’ desire for the film (I have the Moyers interview), Campbell’s take on myth, and my own spin on the Judeo-Christian ideals that come out in the story.

And I have the Dick Staub book on order.

Here’s the info on the screening and discussion:

Sunday Film Night: The Theology of Star Wars [ August 3 ]7:30 p.m. Discipleship Center :: Use the Force (What force? Good question!) and join us for the iconic, culture shaping film STAR WARS. If your kids haven't seen it, what better place for more fun than church? Then join leaders of B.A.D.D. & Beacon as we discuss its theological perspectives. Event is free.

Bel Air Church is located at:16221 Mulholland DriveLos Angeles, CA 90049.

Map and directions here.

Just my thoughts,


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pro at the Con

My Comic-con trip was brief – a day and a half. Cath and I went down late Friday with friends Mark & Nicole, staying with Nicole’s uncle fifteen minutes away from the convention center.

Here are a few things I learned at the Con, in chronological order:

-Being sick in a room full of one hundred thousand people is a bummer. But less of a bummer than being the Boba Fett I sneezed on.

-It’s good to have Cory Edwards on your panel, as he is entertaining AND has something to say. (For Cory’s take on the Con, start reading here.)

-Wiccans wearing low-cut bustiers can be quite amusing – especially early in the morning before their caffeine settles in.

-If it takes you longer to walk from the door to the end of the line of people waiting to enter a session then the length of the session itself, you are not getting in.

-Most free stuff is over priced.

-Not as many comic geeks are hot for Dean Koontz as are hot for Summer Glau.

-I am not allowed to be the show runner of a television program if the lead actress flirts with me as much as the lead of DOLLHOUSE flirted with Joss Whedon. Catherine’s rules, not mine.

(Sidenote: in her defense, Eliza wasn’t flirting with Joss, she was flirting with every man in the room. It ain’t no accident that girl has her own show…)

-Joss’ new show plays on one of his favorite themes: identity. Which is universal, hitting one of the three common questions that Howard Stein says links religion and art: “Who are we?”

(Howard’s other two: “Where did we come from?” and “Where are we going to?”)

-If Tahmoh Penikett (formerly of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA) is whispering in Eliza Dushku’s ear an explanation of why the guy in line asked him if Eliza’s spine glows, no one (and I mean not even Joss’ mother) is listening to Joss talk about the depth of character arc he has planned for the coming year.

-Camping out in a room from session to session is completely unfair if you are outside a room full of campers; completely reasonable if you are inside the room camping.

-Wearing a hair band with cat ears may qualify as a costume at your office’s Halloween party, but is just sad at the Con.

More to come…

Just my thoughts,


PS Photo of Catherine & company by Shon Little. Photo of Captain America by Bryan at More photos here.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dark Knight of the Soul

I made it to Comic-Con, the largest and proudest collection of nerds and geeks in the Northern Hemisphere.

Before talking about the Con itself, a few words on that little heard of comic book movie, THE DARK KNIGHT.

So much has already been said, I don’t have a lot to contribute. Which, of course, isn’t going to stop me.

Why so successful? Because it is a movie that succeeds in its genre, but also exceeds its genre.

Y’all know that I like movies that are about more than their type – thrillers that dig deeper than just scary; romances that speak beyond finding “the one;” action movies where the action means something.

So it is true with THE DARK KNIGHT.

Without changing topics (but seeming to), let me tell you one of the things I like about Jesus.

The notion of WWJD is more complex than the movement ever allowed, because the choice of what He “would do” was usually devoted to an either/or.

Would Jesus give this money to the homeless guy, or would he spend it on himself?

Would Jesus let this driver in, or would he block him out?

Would Jesus order the chicken or the steak?

The thing is, virtually every time that Jesus was offered a choice between two things, he always chose a third one that wasn’t on the menu. (Jesus ordered the fish, by the way.)

This, of course, drove those around the guy crazy.

Stone the woman or let her go? Let the sinless guy stone her.

Honor the Sabbath or heal the guy? Honor the Sabbath by healing the guy.

Fight or flight? Neither.

Attack or defend? Love.

Being so attuned to the notion of “the third way,” (and feeling strongly that Christians will not make a difference in this culture until they start finding “third ways” in their stories), I was sharply drawn by the trios in THE DARK KNIGHT.

(Now I am not equating Batman to Jesus – and I’m not even sure if I think that BW and friends came up with the best “third way” – I’m just noting the process…)

You see, Nolans/Goyer are being tricky, pretending that the world of Gotham offers this or that – ala Two-Face and his coin. But they really are seeking the third way – represented in a myriad of triangular choices.

The love triangle – Rachel, Bruce, Harvey.

The justice triangle – Gordon, Harvey, Batman.

The injustice triangle – Joker, mob or money launderer.

Even Batman’s personal counselors come in threes – Wayne (the physical), Alfred (the emotional), Lucius (the moral).

The Joker’s one fatal mistake is in thinking that there is only this or that – anarchy or totalitarianism; egocentricity or loss of self; good or evil. He believes that once he proves that Gotham is not good (“there is none righteous, no not one!”), then he has proven that the citizens are irredeemably evil.

(Semi-spoiler alert!)

Which is why it is critical to watch the already-proven-evil convict on the ferry in order to understand what makes this movie great.

(And please notice where the convict goes immediately upon taking action.)

There is a classic Batman comic book, where he defeats Two-Face by tricking out the villian’s coin so that it lands neither on the scarred nor the good side – but rather lands always on its edge.

Two-Face can’t handle the notion that there is a third way, and thus is immobilized in indecision.

In the movie, the Joker falls victim to the same flawed belief system.

He thinks Gotham can have either a dark chaos (himself) or a white knight (Harvey Dent).

Not counting on the third choice.

A Dark Knight.

Just my thoughts,


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Recovery and Fragglehood

Still recovering from a trip that included bears and basketball.

Recovering more from viewing Dark Knight (did anyone happen to notice that it broke all box office records this weekend? Just wondering -- don't know if it's been covered anywhere).

As I continue to recover (and get my head around attending ComiCon this weekend...), here's a distraction for you:

Henson company interviews Fraggle writer/director Cory Edwards.

Check it out.

Just my thoughts,


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Vacation is good!

Sorry for the lack of blogging - but Sean & I were in the Catskills celebrating a Gaffney family reunion and the 50th anniversary of his folks.

Here are a few memories of our relaxing time.
Football on the front lawn!

A gorgeous house (plus garage/coverted "carriage house") that fit all 41 of us.

The view of the house from the lake:

And my relaxed husband rowing our broken paddle boat to the other side of the lake:

Praise God for family! And for days away from computers and cell phones. :) And for the simple pleasures of being pulled around in a red radio flyer!

Just my relaxed thoughts!

Friday, July 11, 2008


I may be away from a computer for a bit, and didn’t want my last posts to be my week-long legacy, so instead I’m going to comment on two of my favorite movies of this summer.


One of the things that I think made both movies appealing to such large audiences is their moderate politics.

Wall-E: Machines and comfort can be good things, but moderation people – please!
Iron Man: Warmongering is evil; but sometimes you do have to kick some butt.

See what I mean?

That got me to thinking of other ways that the two movies are similar.

Wall-E upgrades himself by using cast off machine parts.
Iron Man upgrades himself by using cast off weapons parts.

Wall-E is a machine with a human heart.
Iron Man is a human with a machine heart.

Wall-E uses a fire extinguisher for great momentum.
Iron Man uses a fire extinguisher for great comic effect.

Wall-E’s love interest was designed by Apple.
Iron Man’s love interest has a daughter named Apple.

Wall-E’s best friend is a hard to crush, slimy vermin.
Iron Man’s business partner is hard to crush, slimy vermin.

Wall-E lives in a world of trash.
Iron Man lives in Los Angeles.

Wall-E fights to save a small, green plant.
Iron Man fights and destroys a small power plant.

What’s on your list?

Just my thoughts,


Religion AND Politics, Woohoo Part Two!

Continued from previous post:

Regarding Obama’s keynote address at the “Call to Renewal” conference:

So what would a professed evangelical like James Dobson take umbrage to in this?

The obvious answer should be: naturally, while disagreeing with issues unrelated to the speech (such as Obama’s stand on abortion), Dobson agrees with the content of this particular speech – especially the call to bring faith into the discussion of public policy.

Of course, that isn’t the answer – there is nothing in the speech that Dobson agrees with. And why is that?

Because Dobson does not like it that someone who disagrees with him on abortion gave this speech.

(Dobson’s words can be found here.)

Dobson claims that Obama is “deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit ... his own confused theology.”

Remember, the theology that Dobson is attacking isn’t any of Obama’s liberal stands.

The speech that is being used to attack Obama comes to these theological conclusions:
-faith matters;
-personal faith needs to be part of public political life;
-people should be reading their Bibles more;
-and (the one that seems to upset Dobson the most) – doing all of the above should be treated in a serious manner with an understanding of how complex it is to live under God’s will.

In order to make his arguments (and here is where I am personally disappointed in Focus on the Family), Dobson and his guests distort and quite blatantly lie about what Obama was saying.

I have to confess, it was very frustrating and maddening for me to listen to Dobson’s program, as point by point they claim that Obama said the opposite of what Obama really said.

Obama points out how critical and strong the role of faith is in America.

(“…we make a mistake when we fail to acknowledge the power of faith in people's lives…” and “…we first need to understand that Americans are a religious people.”)

Dobson, clipping that quote, tells us that Obama started out doing the opposite -- diminishing the role of faith in America.

Then, Dobson takes offense because he claims that Obama equates Dobson with left wing Al Sharpton. Dobson is naturally hurt, because he is the polar opposite to Al Sharpton.

Which is exactly what Obama says in his speech. He doesn’t equate them, he uses the two of them as examples of polar opposites on the Christian spectrum.

Throughout his talk, over and over again, Dobson takes Obama’s words, rephrases them to mean the opposite of what the senator clearly intended, and then points out why the Dobson-respeak isn’t good theology.

Also on his website, Dobson has a “special message” where he responds to those claiming that he is attacking Obama’s personal faith – Dobson declares vehemently that he has not done that, but has only attacked Obama’s statements about the Bible and the constitution.

He specifically takes Obama’s words, “But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side, I felt that I heard God's spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth.”

Dobson and his guest both aver that this is a lie, that Obama could never have possibly given his life to Jesus, because Obama’s political views do not match what Dobson thinks that they should.

In other words, Dobson attacks Obama’s personal faith, under the pretext of explaining that he of course would never attack Obama’s personal faith.

In fact the “special message” does not address in any way Obama’s statements about the Bible and the constitution – it only attack’s Obama’s personal faith.

By the way, in ultimate irony, Dobson admits that he doesn’t know when and where Obama made those comments about his personal faith.

It was in the Obama’s keynote address at the “Call to Renewal” conference – the very one that Dobson attacked that lead to this very post.

Apparently Dobson didn’t feel a need to actually listen to or read Obama’s speech to be qualified to condemn the content.

Which also explains why his paraphrases of Obama’s speech do not align in any way with what the Senator actually said.

Dobson’s actions, in effect, say this: it is okay to use lies as a weapon here, since Obama isn’t pro-life.

Which goes to where I started:

I guess I’m just not an “ends justifies the means” guy.

Just my thoughts,


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Religion AND Politics, Woohoo!

For an excellent take on what I am about to comment on, read this article by conservative evangelical, Peter Wehner.

Okay, I’m gonna get a little political here.

I have found that as I age (mature, perhaps?), I start admiring candidates/politicians less for what they say their policies are, and more for the way that they think – even if the conclusion they come to is disparate from my own.

And on the flip side, I find myself disliking those that come to their conclusions in a questionable way, even if I agree with the results.

For example, I respect a leader who listens to all arguments, opposing and supporting; weighs those arguments and then comes to a decision. Even if I disagree with that decision.

And I have no patience with a leader who makes their own decision, is willing to only hear supporting opinions and punishes those that attempt provide an alternate point of view. Even if I agree with the initial decision.

I guess I’m just not an “ends justifies the means” guy.

Which brings me to the attack from James Dobson of Focus on the Family on Barack Obama’s view of faith and politics; specifically on a speech Obama gave on the topic a few years back.

Go and read the speech. Some aspects of it are stunning.

Including this little evangelical ditty, in talking about the majority of Americans seeking a spiritual life:

“This religious tendency is not simply the result of successful marketing by skilled preachers or the draw of popular mega-churches. In fact, it speaks to a hunger that's deeper than that - a hunger that goes beyond any particular issue or cause.”

Obama goes on to give his testimony, a rather blatant one for a public politician.

(“You need to embrace Christ precisely because you have sins to wash away - because you are human and need an ally in this difficult journey.”)

The core of his speech creates an argument for the necessity of allowing (nay, encouraging) our personal religion/faith to influence our public discourse.

In his words:

“But what I am suggesting is this - secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square… So to say that men and women should not inject their "personal morality" into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

And then he lays argument and advice on how to go about doing so in a country that firmly supports freedom of religion – the tricky, tricky mix of church and state together. (“…a way that reconciles the beliefs of each with the good of all.”)

Part of that process, by the way, seems straight out of Sunday School:

“So before we get carried away, let's read our bibles. Folks haven't been reading their bibles.”

Personally, I don’t agree necessarily with where Obama lands on some of that mix, but I strongly appreciate his desire to get there by taking seriously personal faith and ethics.

And his willingness to be open to hearing arguments, and to repent (my word, not his, but dang he comes close to that language!) when shown to be in error.

So what would a professed evangelical like James Dobson take umbrage to in this?

The answer should be obvious. But, unfortunately, it’s not…

To be continued.

Just my thoughts,


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Classics - New and Old

Haven't gotten to the theatre to see WALL-E yet, but still want a taste?

How about watching the marvelous short that precedes the film in theatres: Presto.

(Thanks to Jeff for the link.)

While you're watching that, I'll chat about what a great time Cath, Company and I had watching Bugs Bunny cartoons at the Hollywood Bowl.

First, the surreal nature of watching the Bowl in a movie at the Bowl. When I was a kid, I didn't know the Bowl was a real place -- I assumed it was as fictional as Marvin's space ship.

Makes me wonder about Marvin's space ship.

Second, watching these cartoons on the big screen with a crowd is the way to go. Laughter feeds laughter.

As I sat there, more tickled than I thought, enjoying the show more than expected, I realized that this is the way they were meant to be seen. Back in the day, cartoons were not created for television, but for the movie houses.

Bugs up on the big screen where he belongs.


Just my thoughts,


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Billy and Bugs

Thanks to Jeff for pointing us toward this Wall Street article.

Billy Collins, the poet laureate that Prairie Home Companion introduced me to, writes about a great influence on his poetry -- the gang from Looney Tunes.

The intellectual in me appreciates his opening gambit, expounding on the notion that asking an artist about his influences elicits less-than-honest answers. Especially the notion -- true in my experience -- that one's influences often come from different angles than one's own field.

Hence a poet laureate speaking of cartoons as an influence.

Cath and I (with a bunch of friends) are attending the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday -- for a live orchestra accompanied screening of several of these Looney Toons classics.

I'm ready to be freaked by being at the Bowl and watching Bugs literally bring down the Bowl on top of a tenor. Pirandello indeed.

Just my thoughts,