Sunday, December 26, 2010

Year In Review: 2010


We recently uncovered a listing of television shows scheduled to arrive in 2010 – and thought it would be fun to look back and see which shows were hits and misses. 

Thanks to Entertainment Yearly and Gaffney Guide for these descriptions. 

Programming Scheduled in 2010:

THE GUESTROOM  Drama; Friday nights.  An anthology series with a rotating cast of guest stars as they find love, adventure, magic, and cat fur while visiting Sean, Cath, and River.  Famous guest stars include:  Isaac, Beth, Niffer, David & Ann, Irene, Faith & Sarah, Bethanie, Lauren & Scott, Wayne & Jean, Wayne & Pat, Luke and Felicia. 

THE BOWL  Culture; Sundays on PBS.  Exciting adventures as Sean and Cath introduce their parents to the wonders of the Hollywood Bowl.  Spring special focuses on Wayne and Jean attending the Bel Air Pres Easter Service at the bowl, followed shortly with an earthquake.  The Summer special finds Wayne and Pat watching the antics of Bugs Bunny and company as the symphony plays along.

MUSICAL MYSTERY  Suspense; Thursdays.  Detectives Sean and Catherine are on the trail of the missing musical, tracking the slippery song and dance shows throughout the country.  They nearly catch “Guys and Dolls” at a living room read event at Janet and Lee’s (all attendees sit in a circle and pop up to read/sing their parts); they corner “In the Heights” at Pantages; race against “A Walk in the Woods” with Dean and Beth in a Noho theater; then sprint up the coast to catch “Man of La Mancha” red handed at Taproot in Seattle. 

THE AMAZING, WELL WE’LL GET THERE WHEN WE GET THERE, RACE  Reality, Mondays.   Sean and Catherine race (well, mosey) to various locations around the country for prizes (or vacation and business).  They visit Cayucos over a long weekend, and buy seasalt cookies.  Air Force jets buzz by Sean as he watches Isaac’s graduation in CO.  Cath drags Sean for a business trip in Red Rock outside Vegas for a dance conference (special guests Shon, Jodi and Chantal).  Sean faces freezing weather to venture out alone to Nashville to work on a book pitch (no news on the book pitch until 2011). Reality series already renewed for April 2011 trip to Australia and Tasmania.

ENTERTAINMENT THIS AFTERNOON  News, daily.  In depth coverage of the entertainment going-ons of Sean and Cath.  Show includes links to Cath’s breakout series BETTY AND DD (www.bettyanddd.com), her performance in THE KILLERS, and to Sean’s occasional badd videos (www.belairdrama.com).  Coverage also on Cath’s new headshots (www.catherinegaffney.net … yes, that is grey hair!), and audition travails, including exclusive coverage of Catherine signing with a new manager and being sent out to network auditions.

THE VEGAS THANKSGIVING  Comedy; Holiday Special.  After following the directions from a discount GPS machine that Sean buys, a group of friends are forced to spend Thanksgiving in Las Vegas instead of their intended destination of Vermont.  The gang endures comical trials, including viewing a Bill Cosby show, attending a Cirque d’ Soleil event, shopping at the Forum, eating at the Bellagio buffett and shouting AMEN at the gospel brunch at the House of Blues, until finally Mark wins enough poker money to buy them all bus tickets home.  Cast includes:  Joel, Mark, Nicole, Shon, Jodi, Ray, Karen, Bob, Anne, Beth, Sean and Catherine.  (NOTE:  This special received such high ratings that the network is already planning a sequel.)

A VERY REOHR NEW YEAR  Comedy; Wednesdays.  The whacky antics of Trey, Abby, Katie, Paige, Dick and Mary as they ring in the New Year with special guest stars Uncle Cath and Uncle Funny.  Plot to be determined. 

Thumbs up for a great year.  Stay tuned on Facebook, Twitter (cathgaff), Skype (seancath), email, text, phone, or sky writing for a brand new season of wacky Gaffney programming in 3D (no glasses required)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Rolling in the Deep

What does love's pain look like?  I think maybe it looks like this.


I Hope This Was a Camel Light...

So, is the lesson that you shouldn't bring a camel to your Christmas service, or that you should keep the communion wine away from the camel's water trough?


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

3 Year Old Symphony Conductor

He's not bad for a kid, although that whole losing your baton and falling to the floor giggling - total Dudamel ripoff.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Embrace

When you want art and story to carry a message, this is how you do it.  Beautiful.

For When It Is Time to Have the Talk

Parents, for the love of your child, don't put off "the talk" until it is too late.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Up - the Other Story

What Up! might have looked like if he didn't have all those balloons.  And an example of how we are supposed to get along...

Thanks to Susan for this.

It's All Tolkien's Fault

A new study posits that the "reading skill" area of the brain and the "remembering faces" part of the brain may be competing for space.

Seems right to me - I can't remember names of people I'm supposed to know, and I read a lot.

So if I don't recognize you next time we meet, just ask me what book I'm reading. 


(Oh, I can't track animals either.)

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Stand By Me

This is old, but still moves me, so when it popped up on Experimental Theology, I thought I'd re-post.

The group Playing for Change recorded street musicians around the globe, asking each to contribute to one song. Here is that song:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Theology of Frankenstein

Over at Experimental Theology, Richard Beck is making a few arguments I find compelling - the first: A defense of Halloween.

Followed by a snippet of a theology of monsters, including Frankenstein's creature, vampires and the like.

A morsel to share: 

"Werewolves:

We are fearful of becoming monsters. We fear the "monster within" that we are barely able to hold in check. I am the monster. Or, at the very least, I fear that the line between me and the monster is very, very thin and fragile."

Makes me want to take a Sunday school class on monsters.  Wonder if I could convince my small group to read Bram Stoker alongside C.S. Lewis?  Hmmm...

Just my thoughts,

Sean

It's Halloween - Time for Scary Videos!

Inside look at a Tea Party Training Session. (Found at “Jesus Needs New PR.”)



Not sure what I like best about this guy – how proud he is to use dishonesty as a tool for spreading his stance, or how proud he is that he doesn’t read.

Oh, if I may preempt those that will be mad that I posted this: 

Yes, I am aware that the other side also uses tactics like this.  And now that you’ve brought that up, let me ask you:  are you really arguing that if a liberal does something, that automatically makes it ethically okay?

Yeah, didn’t think so.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Larryboy and the Emperor of Envy

My book hit its 16th printing; 78,500 copies in print.

Envious?

Oh no!  Quick, go buy the book, you have a lesson to learn!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Planting Ideas, Part Three






This notion of “what kind of ideas do we incept in others” applies to so much of life – especially to my life as a story teller. 

Politics (how do I engage with ideas within the larger community – through planting negative ideas, or positive ideas?), work (what kind of stories do I create), relationships (what root connects me to others?), etc.

But where I am most struck with the Inception theme is the ramifications for my faith. 

I am an evangelical Christian.  My Lord claimed repeatedly that he came with Good News (the very definition of “Gospel.”)

Good news.

Yet as I both keep the faith and spread the faith, I gotta ask:  am I planting positive ideas (good news!) or negative ones?

For the evangelist, is the leading faith argument hellfire and damnation?  Sure it gets attention, and I suppose eventually one would get around to talking about Jesus’ love.  

But the idea has already been incepted as a negative one – which grows into fearful, legal-centric faith.

Jesus rarely led with hellfire. 

Oh, hellfire was there, just not as the lead in. 

(And most of the hell-fire and damnation preached by Jesus was directed to the religious – those that already had the message and were messing it up.)

Notice the order of things when he finally speaks to the woman caught in adultery.

“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?  Then neither do I condemn you.”  Love first.

But let’s not forget: 

“Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Thus we have someone whose behavior is changed out of good news – because no one is accusing me, I can go and sin no more.

So,  again, I gotta ask myself – where am I coming from and how am I going out?

Is my faith one of judgments and piousness and self-righteousness?  Then maybe I have to dig that negative seed out, and replant the one of good news.

And when I go into the world, am I planting good news? 

Or am I preaching the Gospel as a negative seed?

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The 1950's Inception

Enjoy.


Planting Ideas, Part Two





Cobb plants a negative idea for a good cause – Mal needs to leave limbo and join the real world.  But the idea grows, soon outpacing Cobb’s ability to control the idea.

And because it is a negative idea, it becomes a negative force, an idea that destroys the initial “good” it performed.  It became an infection, a curse. (“…the most resilient parasite…”)

Cobb’s second go-around with inception is focused on planting a positive idea.  That idea also grows – except instead of leading to destruction, it leads to restoration and healing. 

Although we don’t spend a lot of time in the movie with the post-inception world, we are told in no uncertain terms that Fischer had a cathartic healing of a life-long wound.

And to reinforce the notion, Cobb himself is restored and healed.

Notice that after the plane, we don't find out if Fischer follows through on tearing apart his father’s business – despite that being the goal of the team.   The caper is only a device for Nolan; a device, I think, to get to this big theme.

Ideas grow; and how they grow depends on what we plant.  (Proverbs:  “He who sows wickedness reaps trouble...” and “…he who shows righteousness reaps a sure reward.”)

In our world: after a recent spat of violence on the part of protesters and activists, politicians such as Sarah Palin did a whole lot of backpedaling. 

“Sure,” they said in my paraphrase, “we use violent language and images in our talks, and yes we try to convince our constituents that the other party is literally an enemy akin to terrorists and that they are trying to destroy our nation and must be stopped by any means necessary, but we are shocked –shocked I say!- that anyone would actually behave in a violent manner!  It’s just words, after all.”

Yeah, you planted a negative idea and are shocked that a destructive root took hold.

(Before half of you get all up in my grill for dissing on the right, let me explain why I didn’t use the Dems:  While the bluer side of the aisle does indeed try to plant negative ideas, ala “Republican Healthcare Plan: Die Faster,” in general the Dems are pretty inept in planting any coherent idea.  So they would make a lousy example.)

Donald Miller recently addressed Ted Haggard’s comments at a conference, where Haggard whined that his staff did not offer grace to him after being caught in a long term relationship with a male prostitute.  Aside from all the obvious problems with Haggard throwing himself a pity party, Donald points out that the staff’s response comes from how they were lead – and Ted made it clear that certain sins should never be responded to with love and grace.

Ted planted an idea of contempt, and was surprised when in action it came out as judgment.  Hmmm…

So, what is the practical takeaway with this notion of “what kind of ideas do we incept?”

To be continued…

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Planting Ideas


Now that INCEPTION is no longer in the weekend top ten, it may be safe to talk about it without worrying too much about spoilers.

Oh, SPOILER ALERT.  You’ve been warned.

The movie is about a lot of things (as most good stories are), most of which has been hashed out around town (or at least around the web) – everything from the nature of reality to the nature of making a film.

One idea that has been incepted into my brain, which has had a lingering impact is one that the movie itself seems to toss aside (“seems to” being operative), and that is the idea of inception itself – planting an idea that the target then takes on as his/her own.

Just as Leo’s team distracts Fischer inside the dreamscape to prevent him from realizing what is really going on, so too does director/writer Nolan distract us from the real heart of this theme. 

Not so much to prevent us from understanding, but rather to let the theme be lived out in action rather than in character debate.

What are the distractions?  First, the main conceit:  we are told that inception, planting an idea, can not be done.  The characters all claim this, except of course for Cobb.  It is so rare, as to be nearly impossible…

Out in our world, there is no such debate – Madison Avenue thrives on its ability to make consumers think that they can’t live without diet cherry cola with teeth whitener. 

Politicians, preachers, and salesmen plant such ideas all the time; and they don’t need to enter dreams to do so.

I have a computer programming friend who, every time he wants to introduce a new system or programming style at work, starts by telling his boss: “I ran with that great idea you had a while back…”  Of course his boss never had that great idea, but soon enough remembers giving the idea to the programmer.  And as the original idea (the boss’) was so good, of course the programmer’s running with it is good as well…

We are all planting ideas, whether we want someone to think we are cool, or think that our new i-toy is cool, or think that our taste in wives is cool (“Don’t you think she’s a babe?”  The answer by the way is, “Yes, I do.”)

The second distraction was sweeping aside a major question with a brush off answer: Why not plant a negative idea? 

No, says Cobb, because a negative idea won’t stick.  Only a positive idea will stick.  We can’t tell Fischer to break up his father’s empire; we must tell him instead that his father loved him. Everyone in the room nods in agreement, and moves on.

Yet the entire movie hinges on the fact that THIS IS NOT TRUE.  Cobb has only incepted an idea once before, and it was a negative idea (this world is not real).  Cobb’s entire existence is defined by the fact that he was able to plant a negative idea.

Therefore, the whole movie becomes a test, a trial of that question: what kind of ideas do we plant – positives or negative?  And what are the consequences of that choice?

To be continued…

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Man that Corrupted Montevallo

Just in time for my birthday, the Montevallo Main Street Players are performing a short play I wrote, double-billing with a one-man Mark Twain performance.

It's a double bill that makes sense, as my play is based on the Twain short story.

So if you find yourself in Alabama next week, check it out.  Free admission!

If you do happen to catch it, drop me a line and fill me in on your experience.

Oh, the Guarantee on the poster was originally found on advertisements for a lecture by Mark Twain.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Monday, September 20, 2010

Commercial Acting

Now available:  Betty & DD offer insights to commercial acting.

I'm glad their classes are making it to the web, as I can't really get to New Mexico to find quality acting instruction.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How Then Shall We Tell Stories?

Jeffrey Overstreet spoke recently at International Arts Movement; his talk, "How Then Shall We Tell Stories?"  So good, I stole it from his site and embedded it below.

Many of the ideas he presents can also be found in his book, "Through a Screen Darkly."

This is a video that I'll be watching multiple times. 



Encounter 10: Jeffrey Overstreet on the how of storytelling from International Arts Movement on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fellowship in Concert


As I've mentioned before, my wife and I do not take a road trip without, at some point, blasting the cast album for "Fellowship! The Musical Parody of the Fellowship of the Ring."

Well, they're back! 

Fellowship! is heading to New York City (where salsa is made) for The New York Musical Theatre Festival. 

And before that, they're are doing a concert in Burbank of the music to raise some traveling money, followed by an improv show with the cast.

This Sunday, September 19th, at the new Flappers Comedy Club.

Tap dancing hobbits.   Elves that run on water (and occasionally trip on fish).  Balrogs with cabaret acts.

You know, just like in the movies.

Hope to see you there.  And if you aren't sure you want to go, I have to ask, "Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy not?"

(Come on Sunday, I'll guarantee you'll get that joke!)

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

For Those Around WB Next Week...

Please note: I am not an executive who calls the shots.  I'm a moderator for a panel of executives who call the shots.

I'm not even allowed to drink shots.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lessons from Coming of Age


As I watched a young lady become a bat mitzvah this past weekend, I was struck again by how much faith could positively alter our secular lives.

Here are three examples of real-world practicality that struck me during the proceedings, if only we had the courage to make the necessary changes.

#1:  Weight lifting workouts should be done in teams.

Personally, I hate lifting weights.  The amount I’m capable of pressing is humiliating, and there is no inherent feelings of joy in the process.

However, get a group of seven or so guys in a circle around the barbells, lift in unison displaying the weights to the world, circle around a few times while shouting “hey!” – now we’re having fun. 

I wouldn’t be surprised if the other gym rats burst out in rhythmic clapping; maybe even joining hands in alternating concentric circles around the weight bearers.

#2:  All staff meetings at work should be sung.

Tend to zone out when the minutes from the last meeting are read?  Or when the associate VP of community marketing drones on about peer to peer connectivity?

Now imagine those moments being led by a trained cantor, giving a little jazz oomph to the boring parts, and an appropriately solemn lilt to the forecast for negative sales in the third quarter. 

No news is bad news when it’s got a good beat.

#3:  All politicians should be required to recite and explain the meaning of an assigned passage from the Constitution before taking office.

Several months of study with a rabbi leading up to a public recitation couldn’t hurt.  And if they get it wrong, they don’t get to become “the man.” 

And not just reading the thing (although that would be a welcome change) – but having to take a moment to explain what the passage means in practical terms, to show that they actually understand what they read.

“Fellow Americans:  my portion includes the call to ‘promote the general welfare.’  The key word ‘general’ struck me as a reminder to promote everyone’s welfare, and not just the ‘special interest welfare.’”

Now that would be nice.

Mazel tov.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Maybe the Doctor Can Fix this Traffic


Next time I'm stuck on the 405, I'll remember this: 

Near Beijing, a traffic jam is in its ninth day.

62 miles long, and likely to last until September.

Some sojourners have taken up to three days to complete their journeys. 

That's a consistent speed of less than a mile per hour.

Suddenly Doctor Who isn't looking so fictiony.

Just my thoughts,

Sean
The Doctor waits for a ride in "Gridlock"

Monday, August 23, 2010

Third Way Mosque Solution

My friend, and good “let’s look at this with clear eyes” debater, sent me a solution to the whole mosque-near-ground-zero thing. David is Canadian, which is perhaps what gave him the distance to not just get caught up in the politics of it all.

The “Third Way” he refers to below is a notion that I keep bringing up; stick around me long enough and you’ll even hear it in my movie reviews.

The idea is that whenever Jesus was given a choice between two options, he typically found a third option, one that confounded expectations while living out true “good news.”

So here is what David sent to me:

“I think I found the Third Way in this dilemma.

“America should not allow the mosque to be built by the Muslim billionaire.

“America itself should fund it and build it.

“On the front will be placed a plaque that reads:

“‘This place of worship and peace was built in memory of the innocent victims of 9/11. It is a gift from the American people.’

“That is carrying the pack the second mile.”

Just David’s thoughts,

-Sean

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Beauty and the Coach


This day in history:  in 1993, Cheers ends its 11 year run.

My favorite character from Cheers was Coach; and the scene that solidified that was the one I have below.

In this episode, Coach’s daughter has come to visit, her obnoxious fiancée in tow.  Coach hates the boyfriend, and thinks his daughter deserves better.

She, however, is more pragmatic – she knows that she is a homely girl.  It isn’t a question of what she deserves; it’s the reality of what an unattractive woman such as herself can get.

In the climatic scene, father and daughter have a truth-off: he tells her what he really thinks of the fiancée, and she tries to force dad to face the facts about her.

You see, he keeps saying that she is beautiful; but she finally gets him to stop seeing her as his little girl – with obligatory rose colored glasses - and see her as she truly is.

And the truth of her attractiveness at last, - painfully, but at long last - comes to light.


Insert here your own take on what this demonstrates to us about love/faith/beauty.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ack and Grace

Stephan Pastis, the mad genius behind Pearls Before Swine, gives us a story that tempts me to label this entry as one of "faith."

Not because it contains any faith elements; just that it showcases a faith principle that borders on parable.

Inspired me, at any rate.  I gotta work on that "something something my enemy" thingee.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Friday, August 13, 2010

Speaks To and Through The Heart


First, I saw on Letters of Note this quote from Marting Luther King, Jr. to Sammy Davis, Jr.: 

“Art can move and alter people in subtle ways because, like love, it speaks through and to the heart.”

Then I was directed to Experimental Theology’s blog’s entry on art that (intentionally, it seems) tries to NOT speak to the heart (thanks Bryan for the referral).  

Most profound point, "Our spirits can't be long sustained in such an environment..."

[Good to note that the “Christian Bookstores” where this type of art is found seeks to service a rather small percentage of Christians.]

Professor Beck's discussion put in mind a recent close encounter I had with such an approach to art.

Not that long ago, I listened to a woman who oversees the worship and arts at a large church as she talked about the purpose of art in worship. 

She doesn’t allow art in her church without a definable “take-away.”  Unless the congregation understands and can articulate how the art affected them, the art has no value.

Understands and can articulate.

If they can say, “That song showed me that Jesus loves me,” the song has value.

If the music moves them beyond words, the song has no place in her house of worship.

If they can say, “That piece of art clearly symbolizes the broken nature of Jesus on the cross,” the piece of art has value.

If the art draws them out, pushing their spirit to focus behind themselves (elevates them, even), the piece of art has no value.

If they can say, “That drama perfectly explained the nuances of Calvinistic Christology,” the drama has value.

If the drama hits their gut, makes them weep and wonder if there is a power in the universe that can touch and heal a grieving heart, then that drama can hit the road, Jack.

Does it inspire?  Arouse?  Is it (lord, please no) transcendent?

Then it doesn’t fit in her practical theology.

Heaven help us all.

Just my thoughts,

Sean


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Words

I write screenplays.

Which means I work in the medium of words within a visual medium. 

So of course when someone uses visuals to discuss words, me likes it, me does.

Thanks to Jeffrey for the find.




Just my thoughts,

Sean

Friday, August 06, 2010

Useful UFO Information

I've always been confused when spotting UFO's; but with this handy chart (thanks blastr), I now know exactly what I'm looking at!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Betty and DD Get Professional

Two of my favorite acting teachers (east of Las Vegas) are upping their web presence by hiring a professional.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Chockfull of Spoilers...

But this INCEPTION parody made me laugh.

View only if you have already seen the movie.


Friday, July 30, 2010

Spoiler Free INCEPTION Review


I’ve wanted to review INCEPTION since I first saw it, but I didn’t want to give anything away.   But every time I start writing, I start giving things away.

Until I figured out a way to tell you how the movie made me feel without spoilers.

Here goes:

Remember experiencing breathless joy during a movie, like in watching the sword fight on the rolling wheel in the first PIRATES flick?  



INCEPTION’s got that.

Or the “whoa!” factor, like watching Neo dodge bullets?



INCEPTION’s got that.

A movie that engages your mind, that you have to keep thinking throughout, like MEMENTO?



Got that.

Or one with intricate themes, that you can keep digging at and coming up with more, like ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND?



Got that.

Or a movie that builds with edge of the seat action, like THE LORD OF THE RINGS?



It’s there.

Or a genre flick with dramatic depth, ala THE DARK KNIGHT?



Yep.

Or the heart that really, really moves you despite yourself, like the opening sequence of UP?



Eh, not so much.   (There are passing moments of emotional depth – but really, what is passing depth?  It hits the heart, but leaves no mark.)

For me the positives outweigh the negatives.  Among my favorites of the past decade.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Leia Shoulda Taken the Express, Not the Local...

Thanks to Jeffrey for this find.

History One Word at a Time

Inky Fool honors Bastille day by giving a history of the French Revolution. 

Those of you who aren't into heavy reading, this is for you: The entire history is given in 13 words -- words introduced from the French into the English language by year of appearance.

I want more history like this!

Just my thoughts,

Sean