Thursday, August 31, 2006

Not sure if this is against the rules or not for blogspace, but in shameless self-promotion, I published my third manuscript with Prevail Press.

Burning Meadows is a screenplay I wrote 3 years ago. It's a little weird, even for me. Check out and click on the screenplay to go to the shopping cart where you can read an excerpt. Feel free to buy it, of course, but it isn't a G-rated script. Today it would be a PG, but I'd consider it a PG-15 or so.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Took the kids to see "The Wild" at the cheap theaters.

I'm not going to bother reviewing this movie (other than the Computer Animation is amazing, if the directing and script are only so-so. There were times I wasn't sure it was animation. That and wasn't this movie already made as Madascar?) Rather, I'm going to use it as a springboard to decry the loss of Disney Animation, and the degeneration of comedy in general.

Disney's 2-D Animation truly transended the medium. What it lacked in visual depth, it made up for in emotional depth. Even the turgid Pocohontas gave the characters a detailed character arc. These things weren't just cartoons; they delved into strong themes, explored deeply into the human condition - even when they were "only" animals. The humor was often intelligent, and motivations were complex. They inspired Dreamworks to reach for the same in their 2-D movies.

Then came computer animation.

To be fair, Pixar has avoided the pitfalls of the CGI trap, and Ice Age and Polar Express strove for more than yucks... but most of the imitators have fallen into the clutches of today's pathetic excuse for comedy.

I tuned into a radio show trying to pick the top five funniest movies of all time. As soon as Porkies was entered as a shoo-in, I changed the channel. "Stupid" comedies have replaced intelligent comedies - largely because Adam Sandler, today's biggest star by box office grosses, has proven the market for such atrocities.

Consider what passes for sit-coms these days. Even the smart ones quickly devolve into purient bedroom humor and bodily function funnies. Grace Under Fire, The Drew Cary Show, Sports Night, to name a few, had strong first seasons with smart humor... then they quickly devolved into sad, unwatchable trash.

Some might say it can't be done -- keeping comedy out of the toilet is too demanding. But Barney Miller, The Dick Van Dyke Show, M*A*S*H (arguably), and a dozen others that stayed smart and clean because the censors said they had to, came out with the funniest series of all time.

And so producers look around at what's successful (because there aren't many alternatives) and decide Computer Animated movies are too expensive to risk being too smart (which says so much about their opinion of us) so they save money on script and concept and dash out something that rakes in the bucks but not the accolades.

It remains to be seen if anyone will recognize the void that Disney created in leaving the stories that only 2-D animation can master, and start creating 2-D movies with depth again. I admit, my hopes aren't very high...

Saturday, August 19, 2006

I admit to feeling a bit discouraged last week after Children's Ministry. I was teaching the 4th and 5th graders and started talking about the Gospel. I got a few blank stares, so I threw out the quicky questions: "What's the Gospel?" expecting several kids to answer quickly so we could move on.

Blank faces.

A raised hand.

"The Word of God?"


"The Bible?"

Okay, maybe I wasn't asking right. "What is the Gospel message?"

No answers.

"Gospel means Good News. What's the Good News?"

A tentative hand. "God loves us?"

"Give me a little more, please."

Finally, my daughter answered "We're all sinners, but because God loves us, he gave Jesus on the Cross to die for our sins so we can be with God forever." (Proud father moment: She's a helper in the class, so she isn't supposed to answer the questions unless no one else can.)

We discussed this for a bit, then I asked a question about a key concept that we had just spent fifteen minutes discussing in detail. No one could answer (except Charli. Wow. First anger in the post below, now rampant pride.)

Is Children's Ministry really just babysitting? Do parents not feed their children breakfast on Sundays, starving their brains from working? Am I a lousy teacher (I admit to trending mostly to lecture - spirited lecture, but still lecture - because the purpose of that class is to prepare the kids for sitting through a sermon)? Or is this to be expected?

Feedback, please?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Things that really BUG me about traffic!

I'm in the car 1 to 2 hours a day, depending on traffic and my always errant sense of direction, and every day I see things that cheese me off.

In assending order:
10) Nose pickers. You'd think every adult would know by now that windows are see-through and the index fingers are NOT the finger to use to mine for "gold". Roll your nostril with your thumb - it's just as effective and as long as you don't turn your nose inside out, it's not as offensive.

9) People on cellphones. How can they expect to brake for me when I'm on mine?

8) Putting on make-up when you drive. It's not so bad when women do it, but men? Knock it off!

7) Eating. Look, certain foods aren't meant for driving and eating. String cheese is a n0-no, as is a foot-long sub with no wrapper. And especially not "gold" from number 10...

6) Reading. Okay, I read just about everywhere. Walking from car to work, at meals, in certain rooms that shall remain nameless, but NOT. IN. THE. DRIVER'S. SEAT!

5) Public displays of affection. 'Nuff said.

4) Rap "music". There are seismic faults around here and one of these guys is going to set them off!

3) Kerry/Roberts stickers. YOU LOST! (Being a loser is bad enough, advertising it is a whole 'nuther level...)

2) Hummers (sorry Mike). Those with soldier envy should go to Iraq.

and the number one thing that REALLY. CHEESES. ME. OFF...

1) SMOKERS! They are the reason I don't drive a Hummer because every time I see one of these idiots toss their butts out the window I wanna go all Smokey Bear on their butts - Down shift, climb some chrome and crush all those cigarettes they haven't lit yet - those ones in their soon to be squishy pockets! Somebody tell me why there isn't a bizzilion dollar fine for incendiary littering? They're DNA's right on the cancer end of the butt (and why would anyone stick something called a "butt" in their mouth????) it's not like we couldn't prove who's being a jerk!

Coincidently, the sermon last Sunday was on anger, but I was teaching so I didn't hear it. Cannya tell?