Thursday, November 30, 2006
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
I discovered the X-Men during John Byrne's run on the comic but eventually had to go back and read all the Cockrum books leading up to Byrne taking over. This was the Golden Age for the X-Men. The best bar none. You young whippersnappers can stop trying now.
In my opinion, there are 3 guys that are responsible for the popularity of the X-Men today. Those 3 guys are Chris Claremont, John Byrne, and Dave Cockrum.
If you'd like to read more about Cockrum, go here.
If Wolverine were to deliver the eulogy, it would go a little something like this: "Rest in peace, bub."
So, it's been quite the post Thanksgiving adventure here in Seattle and winter hasn't officially begun yet. I look forward to what's in store. Woo-hoo!
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
What's bad is that they are still sitting out on our balcony. We've been so busy that it's been difficult to find a time to scoop up the pieces and take them to the trash. I wouldn't mind just dumping them over the side accompanied by an easily heard "oops" but I don't think my bride would take kindly to that. She keeps my mischievous ways in check these days. Translation: I don't get to have fun anymore.
If you want to take a look at a before shot, go here.
Our rehearsal for A Christmas Carol was cancelled last night. Our performance is supposed to be tonight. I rather doubt it will happen...which doesn't break my heart. We're not ready and, to be honest, some of the folks wouldn't be ready if we worked on it for a year. It's been a frustrating process for me and, as I understand it, for the director as well. There was no screening process for the actors so we have folks with lots of experience and ability and some with virtually none. It makes for a shaky production. My heart is not in it and I have not given 100% and I feel bad about that. I hope we don't have to cancel tonight for other folks sake...but for my sake...cancel away!
The Christmas production at church is coming along nicely. Sunday was a good rehearsal with some fine performances already peeking thru the rough edges. My part is small but I want it to shine. I don't feel like I'm there yet. I believe Jeff (writer/director) and I are going out for coffee sometime this week so I'm hoping to pick his brain about how to improve what I'm doing.
So, a week of snow and ice for Seattle. It's too bad it's not this quiet more often. I miss the quiet.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Sunday, November 26, 2006
For now, I will curl up on the couch with a movie and wait for Sarah to call. I'll post pics tomorrow if there's anything worth photographing.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
I thought it was very cool that I got to see Zuzu in the flesh. Now, if only Clarence would pay me a visit.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Anywho...isn't this a cool pic of lightning striking the Space Needle there in the distance? Glad I wasn't up there for that.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
“artists are notoriously poor organizers; we normally don’t join groups, and when we do, it’s a disaster. We work alone in our studios. The stand-in for an organization for us is the [artistic] community: We send what we produce into the world and that’s how we exchange ideas with other artists.”
“I try to remove anxiety. It’s almost like raking gravel in a Zen monastery—when I commit to a painting, I know it’s a four-month project, and I tell myself, today I’m going to do what I did yesterday and tomorrow I’m going to do what I did today. ... You have to back yourself into a corner where you are asking questions that no one else has asked, so no one else but you has the answers. That forces you to be more creative.”
“a contrarian attitude is key to rising to the top. If money is your end [goal], you’ll make all the wrong decisions; you’re doomed to failure.” Close continued that if money had been his aim, “I wouldn’t have painted a nine-foot painting of someone else; I would have painted CEOs or college presidents, at a size that fits over the couch. If I’d done anything [career-wise] that made ‘good sense,’ I wouldn’t be sitting here.” The irony, Close concluded, “I don’t care about money and [that’s why] I’ve made a whole hell of a lot of it.”
Close...also stressed that creative success often depends on having the right mentors, especially in school. He noted that schools need to add a fourth “R” to reading, writing and ’rithmetic: art. He observed that only art had made him feel special growing up in a “poor, white trash town” and that art had made the difference between his “going to Yale and going to jail.”
“Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up.”
Monday, November 20, 2006
Sarah and I also have small parts in the Christmas play. It's been a great deal of fun, a good way of meeting folks in the church and wonderful working with Jeff Berryman (writer and director).
Lastly, I've been taking a performance class at Taproot. Next Tuesday night we will perform a brief version of A Christmas Carol. This has been the least enjoyable of all the experiences and I will be happy when it's over so I can concentrate on the Christmas play. I had hoped the class might provide more training (which is what I really need) but, alas, that has not been the case.
I talked to Karen (Associate Artistic Director at Taproot) the other day about being available for acting. She told me that they are working toward reviving their church touring and that I could be a part of that. It would be different from the Company in that we would travel but be back to sleep in our own beds at night. (a wonderful thing) Karen's family has been visiting our church of late and she was there to see our reading on Sunday. After church she spoke to me briefly about writing scripts for the new touring group. I sent off samples of my work to her and the director of the touring groups yesterday.
After a long season of no opportunities in the area of acting/writing, I can now see the possibility of more opportunities arising in the future. For me, it's a welcome "light at the end of the tunnel." I hope at least some of these opportunities materialize. It's been a long, frustrating, dark tunnel.
- If someone says to you that you are called to create truthful works of art, how do you understand this call?
- How do you understand the truth of what you are doing?
- Are you presenting a particular view of the world?
- Are you asking questions?
- Are you communication?
- Are you expressing?
- What is the relationship of fiction to truth?
- What are the standards by which we can judge our work? The work of others?
- Can a piece of work be called Christian and be false?
- What is the difference between what we "like" and what is "good?"
- How do we cultivate spirits that are willing to ask the hard questions about our own work, receiving the criticism that is ultimately necessary?
Last night, after bouncing around in a fog of discussion, Jeff announced that next time we meet we need to tackle the question...
- What is art?
...before we can move on. Well, that should be easy. No problem. The answer I like the best is one that was given by one of my art professors in college. He said,
"Art is a little boy's name."
I know that discussing all of this is good for me but it is painful all at the same time. There are no easy answers and sometimes the thinking makes my head spin. It's like watching a time travel movie where the man goes back in time and fathers the kid who will grow up and save his life...or something like that. These things breed headaches. But they are good headaches and it is good to be stretched and challenged. I suppose I'll just have to stock up on Ibuprofen.
"The next hurdle to overcome was cultural in nature. I identified with one of Flannery O'Connor's inlaws, who started attending church because the service was 'so horrible, he knew there must be something else there to make the people come.'"
"O' Connor also said that she took care to be at her writing desk each morning so that, if an idea came, she would be there to receive it...Nancy Mairs writes...that she returned to church in somewhat the same way. Even while uncertain about belief in God, she began attending Mass again to prepare 'a space into which belief could flood.' She learned that one does not always go to church with belief in hand. Rather, one goes with open hands, and sometimes church fills them."
"My identity in Christ is more important than my identity as an American or as a Coloradan or as a white male or as a Protestant. Church is the place where I celebrate that new identity and work it out in the midst of people who have many differences but share this one thing in common."
"The church is composed of equal parts mystery and mess."
"The church is like manure. Pile it together and it stinks up the neighborhood; spread it out and it enriches the world." (summarizing evangelist Luis Palau)
Source: Church: Why Bother? by Philip Yancey
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Why On Earth Would I Want to Picket a Church?
Open Letter to Mark Driscoll
To be honest, I'm not so much offended by what he's said about women as I am by what he's said about men. Apparently, in his eyes, if you're not a frat boy, sports lovin', spittin', scratchin', cussin', macho he-man, you are not a real man. Well, as an art lovin', sports hatin', theatre attendin', shoppin', singin', bloggin' sensitive man, I take offense. Driscoll's comments are hateful and he needs to be accountable for his words.
C'mon Mark. Take it like a man!
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Since this book is at an end, I'll leave you all with a last post from it.
"And so the varied mission of the church across the world continues into its third millenium, as does its mixed record in getting God's will done on earth as it is in heaven. The church of Jesus has been an affair of genocide and jumble sales; of heroic self-sacrifice and self-defeating hysteria; of holy mysteries; of philosophers and philanthropists; of crusading geese, charismatic animal impressionists and high-rise, maggot-eaten monks; of charity and chastity; and, above all, of men and women - good, bad, indifferent, extremely different, wise, wonderful and simply incomprehensible. And, it is alleged, the house of God. Mysterious ways indeed."*
Moon Called by Patricia Briggs - "...is the beginning of the story of Mercedes Thompson a coyote shapeshifter who is also a pretty decent mechanic. Mercy's world looks a lot like ours except that the Otherworld is begining to be forced out of hiding by our modern technologies. Mercy shares her back fence with the local Alpha werewolf and works evenings on the vampire Stefan's VW bus. She's safe and content -- which doesn't make a very story, does it? So, of course, matters begin to change on the first page. In this book Mercy faces trolls and gremlins, old boyfriends and older vampires. I hope you enjoy her story."**
I've gotten a little tired of the urban fantasy genre but I had reserved this book at the library and it came in so I decided to give it a go. It's pretty good.
I guess I'm getting tired of the genre because the market is flooded with books now. I guess there's only so much you can do with vampires, werewolves and the fae without dealing with a little repetition. I think I'm going to jump into some other genre for a while. Woah. I'm kinda sick of thrillers and urban fantasy. What do I read now?
*Source: A Short History of Christianity by Stephen Tomkins
Monday, November 13, 2006
Saturday, November 11, 2006
And it only took 2000 years, give or take...
Source: A Short History of Christianity by Stephen Tomkins
Parenthetical statements are mine. Duh!
"Most pastors I know do not have satisfying, free, sexual conversations and liberties with their wives. At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either."*
Frankly, Driscoll is known for his fundamental views towards women. In a nutshell, he believes every woman should quit their job, stay home and have babies. Those of you who believe Mars Hill to be an emergent church are sadly mistaken. It's a fundy to be sure.
I understand why people are upset. Sarah and I visited Mars Hill a couple of times and she left feeling as though she had been attacked as a woman. I didn't understand at the time but it's starting to come through loud and clear now.
Well, someone has decided that they are going to protest Mars Hill and Driscoll on Sunday, December 3. Will it do any good? No. Will I be there? I don't know. Originally, it was planned for Nov. 19th but it got moved back. Part of me wants to go and see how it's handled and another part of me wants to stay far away. Anyway, there's alot more to it and, if you're interested, you can read about it for yourself.
Driscoll's comments are here.*
The conversation is here.
Protest links are here and here.
*Source: Resurgence: Mark Driscoll's Blog
Thursday, November 09, 2006
J.I. Packer chides the church: 'With a perversity as pathetic as it is impoverishing, we have become preoccupied today with the extraordinary, sporadic, non-universal ministries of the Spirit to the neglect of the ordinary, general ones. Thus, we show a great deal more interest in the gifts of healing and tongues- gifts which, as Paul pointed out, not all Christians are meant to partake anyway- than in the spirit's ordinary work of giving peace, joy, hope, and love, through the shedding abroad in our hearts of knowledge of the love of God.'
"The Spirit cannot be kept like a personal pet, living in a small compartment somewhere inside us to be brought out at will. The living presence of God inside us should permeate everything we see and do... The Spirit does not act on us so much as with us, as a part of us- a God of the process, not a God of the gaps."
Source: Reaching for the Invisibile God by Philip Yancey
As their armies liberated the death camps of eastern Europe, the allies realised what a good cause they had been fighting in. But the fact that 6 million Jews had been systematically killed left the church with some terrible questions. Where had God been? Can the omnipotent watch the most unthinkable atrocities in the history of inhumanity without lifting a finger? Then again, where had the church been? For all that some individual Christians did, the church as a whole did disgracefully little to stop the Holocaust. In fact, was it not positively responsible?"
Source: A Short History of Christianity by Stephen Tomkins
"In 1910, the Tennessee Pentecostal George Hensley, preaching on the text 'They shall take up snakes,' ended by grabbing a rattlesnake and commanding his flock to the the same or be 'doomed to eternal hell'. They obeyed. He kept at the snake handling until 1955, when he died of a snake bite. Today, he has 2,500 followers."
"A group of rich American businessmen, dismayed by how many of their ministers had become liberals, printed a twelve-part book, The Fundamentals, and sent out 3 million copies, one to every church employee and theology student in the USA. It outlined the fundamental doctrines of Christianity...The Fundamentals helped evangelicals see themselves as fundamentally anti-liberal, and it gave us the word that dominates twenty-first-century talk of religion, 'fundamentalist', which originally meant 'conservative Protestant' and now, if anything, means 'someone more religious that I approve of'."
Source: A Short History of Christianity by Stephen Tomkins
The night wasn't a total loss for me though because playing one of the characters was Johnny Murphy (the fellow with the mustache) who played Joey "The Lips" Fagan in one of my favorite movies, The Commitments. I love his character in the movie. Although a bit strange and not entirely truthful, Joey's character is the heart and soul of the band. Nice to see that ol' Johnny's still working.
Monday, November 06, 2006
So you want to be more creative, in art, in business, whatever. Here are some tips that have worked for me over the years:
1. Ignore everybody.
2. The idea doesn't have to be big. It just has to change the world.
3. Put the hours in.
4. If your biz plan depends on you suddenly being "discovered" by some big shot, your plan will probably fail.
5. You are responsible for your own experience.
6. Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.
7. Keep your day job.
8. Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity.
9. Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.
10. The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props.
11. Don't try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.
12. If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.
13. Never compare your inside with somebody else's outside.
14. Dying young is overrated.
15. The most important thing a creative person can learn professionally is where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do, and what you are not.
16. The world is changing.
17. Merit can be bought. Passion can't.
18. Avoid the Watercooler Gang.
19. Sing in your own voice.
20. The choice of media is irrelevant.
21. Selling out is harder than it looks.
22. Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.
23. Worrying about "Commercial vs. Artistic" is a complete waste of time.
24. Don?t worry about finding inspiration. It comes eventually.
25. You have to find your own schtick.
26. Write from the heart.
27. The best way to get approval is not to need it.
28. Power is never given. Power is taken.
29. Whatever choice you make, The Devil gets his due eventually.
30. The hardest part of being creative is getting used to it.
31. Remain frugal.
I have traveled countless miles across the burning sand trying to find you. My body has begun to consume itself. I am in need of sustenance on many levels. My body needs food and water but my soul needs you. Your absence has taken a toll on me. That is why I seek you out.
After so many days I cannot keep up with them, I see, in the distance, an ancient place of worship. It has been so long since I have been here that I do not recognize it. It lies in ruins, neglected for an amount of time I can no longer recall.
I reach the doors and open them. They part slowly with an ear shattering creak. As I enter the main chamber, I look across and see what must have been the altar of praise on a level rising above the floor. Below that, at floor level, is a fountain. There was once a time when this place was filled with songs and shouts of praise, the fountain filled to overflowing. Now, the fountain is empty, as dry and dusty as the sand caked on my feet.
My body aches from walking and from the emptiness I have lived with for too long. For a time, I am too frightened to move. This ancient place mocks me with the ghosts of the past. But I must shake these apparitions that haunt me and move forward. Slowly, I make my way to the altar.
Climbing the steps, I falter. My knee scrapes the steps, releasing a small amount of blood. I wipe the wound with the rags of my clothing and continue up to the altar. The memories flood my mind. At one time, I stood here. It should be familiar but the familiarity is faint. Overwhelmed, I speak the faintest of words across my cracked lips.
“Where are you?”
The words escape as a dry rasping sound. Vocal cords unfamiliar with speech rebel against the attempt. But once the words are said, others begin to follow. I speak them to you, although there is no evidence that you are here.
“Where are you?
My voice falters and I fall to my knees at the foot of the altar. I am spent and broken. My mind begins to wander and the old doubts begin to fill my mind. Every emotion imaginable is coursing through my veins, begging for some kind of release. If I were not dehydrated, tears might flow but, as it is, my face remains dry.
Suddenly, through the confusion, a song enters my memory. The last thing I feel like doing is singing and yet, there it is. I try to ignore it but it will not be denied. My lips part and the words escape into the air.
“Have mercy on me…”
I laugh as they come out. It has been so long and I am amazed that I remember them. I repeat them to make sure I can do it again.
“Have mercy on me…”
They come easier each time I repeat them. Over and over, I sing them again and again. At first, they come out as barely a whisper. After a few moments, my voice builds strength and the volume grows. Before long I realize that I am not so much singing them as screaming them. I sing until my body has nothing else to offer and I collapse into a heap on the floor.
As I am lying there, feeling like death may overtake me at any moment, I hear a faint sound. At first, I believe my imagination to be playing tricks on me, but no…there it is again. I laugh, thinking this must be the end because I am hallucinating, but my laugh dies as I hear the sound again. It is stronger this time. It is the sound of drops of water hitting stone. With all the strength I can muster, I pull myself to my feet. Peering over the altar, I see that the fountain is filling with water.
Forgetting myself, I race down the steps to the edge of the filling pool. I dip my filthy hands into the water to find that it is real. I put my palms together and fill them the best I can, bringing the water to my dry lips. I drink down the refreshing water and it begins to revive me. The fountain is now beginning to flow like a river. The basin fills quickly and I take delight in plunging my head into its cool embrace. I fill my mouth again and again until I can drink no more. Feeling clean and satisfied, I lie on the floor and stare up at the ceiling. A smile forms on my face as I whisper,
“There you are.”
© 2006 by Marty Gordon
I grabbed this book from the library thinking it was another coming-of-age story in the tradition of To Kill A Mockingbird. It's actually nothing like Mockingbird but that's okay. This story is simple but the writing is superb. Bradbury's prose is elegant and charming in what has been called "a love letter to his childhood."* In the book, the only thread of a storyline concerns the Spaulding boys and the eldest's desire to record the events of the summer in his notebook. Each chapter deals with a different situation involving the citizens of the town. As the book ends, you find that summer is over and the magic of childhood is about to give way to school and such.
I enjoyed this book although it did take a few pages to get used to Bradbury's style of prose. I guess I read so much "junk" fiction it takes a while to get used to the good writing. I suppose I should pick up the classics more often.
Polly and the Pirates by Ted Naifeh - "Polly is caught between the prim-and-proper boarding school set she's grown-up with and the legendary legacy of the Pirate Queen that she never knew she was a part of! But which is the cruel, cold world and which is the care-free paradise? And does it even matter when there's a dashing pirate prince involved? Hoist the sails and batten the hatches on this brand new adventure!"*
This is a graphic novel I picked up from the library. I had read the first three of Naifeh's Courtney Crumrin books and enjoyed them so I thought I'd give this a try. It's not as good as the Crumrin books but enjoyable all the same. I especially enjoyed the accents employed by certain characters being spelled out phonetically so that you knew exactly what that person sounded like.
I will certainly be on the lookout for more of Naifeh's books. He is a very talented artist who spins a pretty good tale. I must say that I am impressed with the material I've read lately coming out of Oni Press. Not well known but good stuff all the same.
Friday, November 03, 2006
Another betrayal amidst the pews
And lowering it's integrity
When we practice to deceive
It's makes it harder to believe
That God is good and God is kind
When his disciples lose their mind
I know forgiveness is the key
But grace is not so easy for me
So all you pastors, bishops and priests
Treat your calls responsibly
Lest you lead the sheep astray
And watch them swiftly fall away
© 2006 by Marty Gordon
More about this here and here.
Source: Yahoo News
Thursday, November 02, 2006
"Inspired by US camp meetings, Joseph Smith was told by God not to join any existing church but wait for something better. In 1823, he discovered that the native Americans were the lost tribes of Israel who came to America in 600 BC, when one of them, Moroni, returned from the dead in New York to tell him. Moroni told Smith that he had written their history in a mysterious, ancient script on gold plates before their faith died out, that it was the third testament of the Bible and where it was buried. Smith dug them up, and four years later, he was allowed to take them out of the box, whereupon Moroni gave him a pair of magic glasses allowing him to understand the hieroglyphics. Then the Moronial visitations, for want of a better adjective, stopped, and Smith got down to the job of translation and organising his disciples in the Mormon Church."
Why didn't they just call it the Moron Church in honor of Moroni?
What? I'm serious!
*Source: A Short History of Christianity by Steve Tomkins
As the night progressed, we got colder and colder. The boots we had on were very uncomfortable and had no insulation in them. By the time we got home, we were freezing and tired. We're pretty wimpy pirates.
We brainstormed a little with one of the staff members and laid the groundwork for a bigger and better Trunk or Treat next year. We all agreed that the concessions area should be extended to include coffee, hot chocolate and spiced apple cider. Sarah and I will be sure to come up with a theme that requires sitting or at least comfy shoes.