Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Delly Gate

            I don’t normally write about sports, but this is my blog. There has been a controversy brewing over Matthew Dellavedova being a dirty player. This had been based primarily on three plays this post season. So, let’s analyze those three plays.

TAJ GIBSON

            This controversy wouldn’t exist if the announcers and television producers were being fair, but I think what happened is they were doing their job. By that, I mean that were creating controversy for the sake of television drama. They placed the focus on what happened after Dellavedova and Gibson were on the ground. The focus should be on what happened immediately preceding.
            Gibson gave Dellavedova a mild clotheslines as they were fighting through picks. Watch the tape and see Gibson’s body language. He was looking for a fight and was looking to put a hurt on Dellavedova. He was angry, because a smaller guy was playing him tough. After the mild clothesline, he then gave Dellavedova a shoulder on a pick. That shoulder was a foul, and possibly a flagrant 1 if called. Then, as Dellavedova boxes Gibson out, Gibson just steamrolled right over the back of him. It’s clear on the video that it wasn’t just body contact, because Gibson’s arms and shoulders raised as he clearly pushes Dellavedova. This should end the controversy. Right there is the flagrant 2 if the refs are doing their job, and any response from Dellavedova that isn’t malicious is merely the natural reaction of someone protecting themselves from assault.
            So, what about the “leg lock”? I love how the announcers pick that term, as if Dellavedova performed some sort of MMA move. Gibson was looking for a fight. He had already assaulted Dellavedova three times and Dellavedova was letting him know he wasn’t happy about it. Dellavedova wasn’t playing dirty. Gibson was playing dirty.

KYLE KORVER

            Well, the refs weren’t doing their job on this one. Watch the video. The reason the ball was loose was because Dennis Schröder was reaching in. He clearly bumps Dellavedova from behind. Had the refs made the call, the play would have been stopped before the injury.
            After the ball went loose, Dellavedova did what any hustling player would do. He went after the ball. This whole notion that he rolled on Korver’s ankle is ridiculous. He grabbed the ball and spun away from his opponent to protect possession.
            Again, the announcers and the producers seem to be focusing on what makes for controversy and television drama. They failed to point out that Dellavedova was fouled. They failed to point out that had the refs made the call, the play would have stopped before the injury. They also used inflammatory language of Dellavedova rolling onto Korver's ankle. Dellavedova did nothing dirty and the only foul on the play was committed by Schröder.

AL HORFORD

            Seems Al Horford and Taj Gibson are both afflicted by the same malady—that they become enraged when a smaller man plays them tough. First, Horford dropped a shoulder into Timofey Mozgov. It was deliberate and it was dirty. He should have been called for a charge. Demarre Carroll fell over Mozgov, who was on the ground after receiving the shoulder. This started the domino effect of bodies hitting the floor. Horford started it and then he drops an elbow onto Dellavedova. The dirty player was no doubt Horford!
            Horford then goes on to make some post-game comments that can only qualify as jackassery. “He’s got to learn. He’s only been in this league for a couple of years but he’s got to learn that at the end of the day, it’s a big brotherhood here. Guys look out for each other and I don’t think it was malicious but he’s got to learn.” So, apparently Horford was trying to teach Dellavedova a lesson. What could that lesson be? The only lesson that seems likely, considering the facts, is Horford thinks smaller men shouldn’t play him tough.

THE PATTERNS

            Only two patterns seem to emerge from this controversy. 1) Dellavedova plays hard. 2) NBA big men develop tempers when smaller guys out hustle them.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Remember

            Memorial Day is a day to remember. So, what should we remember?

THE TROOPS

            Let’s remember our troops. Some gave their lives. To those, we owe our highest honor. Some lost a limb, a friend or the security of living in freedom. We must remember them, but remembrance doesn’t cut it. Proper medical care, jobs and kind words are deserved for all our service members. They should come back to a land that embraces them and helps them heal the wounds of war.

CIVIL SERVANTS

            Many put their lives on the line on our soil. It could be the police officers who serve with honor. I’m not sure my brother would still be alive if it wasn’t for the help of some kind officers. I’m sure they’d say they were just doing their job, but often that job involves saving lives.
            On 9/11 the towers fell. Into the fray rushed police, firefighters and EMT’s. They were also backed by nurses, doctors and medical aides that helped to treat the wounded. Let’s remember their service—both on that dreaded day and the service they give every day of the week.
            Let’s not forget the teachers who help to impart knowledge to our youth. Teaching is a hard job. I can tell you this from first-hand experience. Let’s remember those who gave their lives—not through death, but by living on and bringing that life to the classroom every day.

LOVED ONES GONE ON

            Let’s not forget our loved ones who have gone on. I remember my Grandpa. We had a special bond the last few months of his life. That bond and the lessons I learned were priceless. I was a light and source of strength, and he responded with great love. My life is better because of that experience.
            I’ve lost two grandmothers. I was the beloved grandchild. Those that have had that relationship know the warmth and you have countless stories. I also remember the grand dad I never knew—who passed away before I was born.
            I also remember my Uncle Ted. He was a kind, gentle man. I wish the world was filled with men like him—men who are willing to show kindness to others. I would love to have a day with him, but I know he’s gone on to heaven. I look forward to seeing him again.
            So, amidst the picnics and family gathering let’s not forget to remember.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Attacking the POTUS on Twitter

            President Obama recently started a Twitter account. Is this a good thing? Yes! Why? Because, it will allow him to have dialogue with average Americans. It won’t allow in-depth debates, but it will certainly give him a better pulse of what is going on with the public. The better informed he is, the better decisions he can make.

MAKE YOUR CASE

            Did you notice what I did in the first paragraph? I stated an opinion and then I gave reasons why that opinion is valid. Isn’t that a cornerstone of our society—people expressing ideas and then making their case? In theory, that’s how our country is supposed to work. We’re all supposed to share our ideas and the best ideas will win. In practice it doesn’t always work that way, but it is an ideal to strive for.

WELL, YOU’RE A #&**Q@!!

            It’s the common schoolyard attack—calling someone a name. It’s what children do on the playground and what their parents teach them not to do. Yet, this is how people are addressing the President on Twitter. Such attacks can have dire consequences.
            First, this type of attack undercuts your credibility. So, why are people resorting to such attacks? Maybe they just don’t have any better tool in their arsenal. If that’s the case, we have a long way to go as a society. Maybe some people are simply anger. Anger can be useful, but only when directed in the proper way.
            Second, it insults the person you’re addressing. Why would the President want to hear your side of the issue after you’ve just called him a racially charged term? I’m hoping as President, he’s mature enough to overlook the ignorance and hear all sides of an issue. But, it’s simply hard to be heard when you’re making the wrong noise!

TAKING THE BLAME

            In some people’s eyes, the President takes the blame for everything that goes wrong in this country. Is that fair? No! We have three branches of government with power divided between them. Sure, the President is powerful, but he must work within the framework of the budgets and legislation given to him by the Legislative Branch. He must also try to work within the confines of how the Judicial Branch interprets laws. He doesn’t have a magic wand to lower gas prices, increase employment or fix the education system. He must work with others at the Federal level and the Federal Government must work with the States and their respective governments.
            So, we need to be fair with the President. That means when he does something wrong, we hold him accountable. That also means we see him as only one piece on the chessboard of government. We must hold others accountable (including ourselves) if we are going to create the country we desire.

MY CHALLENGE TO MY FELLOW AMERICANS


            In being involved in social media, the President has given us the opportunity to let our voices be heard. Let’s take that opportunity seriously and present our ideas in a way that he must stand up and take notice. Let’s make our case—not with racial slurs and personal attacks, but with logic, respect and empathy for all Americans.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Lessons from Comedy

            This weekend I was in a comedy competition. I placed 3rd. Yeah me! I’ve been doing comedy since 2008 and this is the first time I’ve placed in a competition. Of course, I could complain about how unfair comedy competitions are. The best comedian doesn’t always win. But, truth be told, I’m not the best comedian out there. Still, I’ve learned some valuable lessons.

DON’T BE AFRAID OF FAILURE

            This last competition I tried an entirely new approach to the stage. I didn’t plan out where I was going to go. I played off the moment and the crowd. Usually I have everything exactly planned out and that makes me appear a little stiff. I did a little better just riffing.

LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES

            Yes, riffing was good, but at a few points I was flat. I need to find a point where I’m both prepared and ready to riff—almost a paint-by-numbers approach, where I have the basic lines drawn in before I take the stage, but am free to play with the colors. Right now, I don’t know how to do that or what that will look like.

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

            I’ve played this crowd before and I know the comedians who do the best are the ones that interact with the audience. My last performance there I did that a little. This time I did it much more and it worked—for the most part. Learning comedy is a trial and error affair.

LEARN FROM OTHERS

            One of the areas I’m flat as a comedian is crowd work. Other comedians are far better at it than I am. The winner of the competition really related to and even at points picked on the crowd—in a fun way. There’s much I can learn from watching him and the other comedians. They all have strong points and they all made mistakes.

STAY POSITIVE

            In order to succeed, you need to stay positive. You can’t let one bad performance beat you down. I’ve had some bad—really bad—performance, but so has every comedian. Every time you take the stage, you take that risk. But, as you mature, the likelihood of failure decreases and the likelihood of success increases. You begin to learn how and when to take risks and that wisdom makes all the difference in the world.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Lessons from Mom

            Right now I’m over at my parents’ house. I’m helping dad out (who is recovering from IV stage cancer) while mom is at church. It’s Mother’s Day, so why not share some lessons I’ve learned from mom.

STAY FAITHFUL
            Over the past two years, I’ve really seen mom’s faithfulness. During this time span, my brother nearly died. Dad went through cancer surgery and radiation treatment. My uncle passed away. It’s been a rough time, but mom stays faithful—to God, to me and to the family. I’ve gained a new appreciation of mom’s steadfastness.

SHOW COMPASSION
            Sure, I’ve seen mom angry over the past two years. She’s been through the grinder. But, she remains compassionate. She continues to care for me, dad, my brother, her ministries at church and a young man who occasionally stops by who is recovering from alcoholism. If the world was filled with more people like my mom, it would be a better place.

DON’T GIVE UP
            Mom just continues to go. She’s like the Energizer Rabbit. Well, maybe not. The Energizer Rabbit would have given up long ago. She keeps pushing dad to get better. She stays supportive of my brother and me. She’s like Rocky Balboa. At the end of the round, she may have taken some shots, but she keeps getting up and is standing at the end.

            So, what lessons have you learned from your mother?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Power of Positivity

            Lately I’ve been learning the power of positivity. Tomorrow I start teaching a new academic term. That’s why I’m posting on Sunday as opposed to my normal Monday. What I’ve found is the first class sets the tone. This is particularly true with my Oral Communication class. If they are laughing and having fun the first day, the rest of the term will go well. In order to get people to open up and share, I need to set a tone. The class must become more of a family than a sterile classroom. When that happens, learning increases and I hear marvelous speeches. There are some other examples I’ve found of positivity.

MY WRITER’S GROUP

            I’m involved in two writer’s groups. I learn from both, but one I absolutely love. Why? It’s because of the positivity. There is an infectious energy when we meet. I’m surrounded by linguistic geniuses. Every week someone else shares something that just wows me—not that it’s-kinda-good wow, but the whoa-this-is-genius wow. Sometimes the writing make me laugh, sometimes it makes my skin crawl and sometimes it just fills me with awe, but every time I meet with the group, I am amazed and it’s pushing me to be better—as both a writer and a person.

MY DAD

            Dad is recovering from stage IV cancer. It’s been a tough battle. One thing I see is how much strength he gains from mom and me. Our presence inspires him and helps him to push on. Part of positivity is supporting others.

MY FRIENDS

            I have some wonderful friends. They have different energies, but I can say that all of them have a positive energy. Some are hopeful. Some are happy. Some are supportive. Some are creative geniuses. My advice to everyone out there is to find these kinds of people and hang around with them. Your life will be better.

MY FAITH


            There’s a Biblical principle that says you reap what you sow. If you’re positive, positive comes back to you. One thing you need to understand about this principle is that it functions long-term. Short-term it doesn’t always work that way. You’ll let someone in front of you in traffic and they’ll flip you the bird. You’ll trust someone and they’ll cheat you. These things happen. But, over the long run, if you treat people well things will work out better for you. It’s a principle that engrained in the universe by the Creator.

Monday, April 27, 2015

I'm Still Learning

            I’ve been striving to make it to my dream to be an author. Not just some guy that writes, but someone that makes a good living at it. So, what have I learned this past week that helps?

STAY POSITIVE

            If you want followers, one of the best things you can do is stay positive. Sure, sometimes we need to face injustice. Sometimes we need to get dirty to clean out the sludge. But, don’t live in that state where you’re constantly focusing on the dirt of life. Find things others do that are admirable and support them in those pursuits. When you do, they will reciprocate.

YOU NEED HELP

            This whole idea of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, well, it just isn’t so. Sure, you need to work hard. And, that hard work deserves respect. But, no one achieves success without help from others. I have a supportive family. I am part of a community of great writers. I have friends that support me.
            Maybe you’ve gotten to the point where it appears you are in charge of your own destiny. Don’t forget, God put you there for a purpose—to help along others. Don’t become too prideful.

CREATIVITY IS BOTH INBORN AND LACKING

            We’re all creative. It’s a natural state of being. But, look around and you’ll see a drought of creativity. What happened? Our school systems beat it out of people. Our corporations beat it out of people. Sometimes we beat it out of ourselves or others.
            One of the things that pains me is the lack of creativity inside the walls of church. It is often the least creative place to be—a place run by the guy behind the pulpit or by boards or committees. Church lacks myriad voices and the opportunity to explore ideas. It is so painful for me, because at church we should be worshipping the creator. We are created in his image and he is infinitely creative. But, it seems many in church are willing to accept a weekly show and feeble study. I don’t know the answers, but I know it pains my soul.

            So, that’s what I have to share this week. I hope you can apply these lessons to your lives.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The GPS of Creativity

            The old woman grips the wheel and yells out obscenities. No doubt from the language she’s using, she’s had a vivid life. She pulls over to the side of the road and pulls out a map. The unfolding begins. She thinks she’s lost, because she needs to be on Main Street. She’s on MLK, which becomes Main if she’d only drive another half-mile.
            A younger woman zips by her. She’s following her GPS, which happens to know that MLK becomes Main in half a mile. Both women face an arduous drive—from Ohio to California. The older woman is confused and disoriented—not due to age, because she’s as sharp any person; but, because she’s trying to picture the whole journey ahead of her. Her attempts to plot her course with a red marker on the thin-skinned map stretched over her steering wheel are only making holes in the map.
            The younger woman is free to enjoy the journey. Her GPS only shows her the next half-mile and the only thing she needs to focus on is making the next turn. But, inside the GPS, the whole journey is plotted out. As she drives, she’s able to look out the window and enjoy the scenery. She sees cities, towns, rivers, streams, mountains and valleys.
            Her journey is guided by the inner GPS, but broken down into turn-by-turn on screen. So, the drive becomes a vibrant experience. This is a picture of the creative process. We have an inner GPS—a dreamscape where the world of imagination meets our spirit. It’s the source of dreams, intuition and inspiration. It’s an inner voice and playground—the brain at play, processing all the millions of bits of information that’s entered our lives.
            But, we can’t function in a world of millions of bits of information. So, our brain has a screen—those things we are thinking about and paying attention to at the moment. Sometimes that screen is focused on survival—I need to get to the grocery store and pay the electric bill. Sometimes that screen is focused on the mundane of life—let’s get some lunch and watch Star Wars. But, when we are on a creative journey, the screen receives its images from the inner GPS. It’s then that we just need to focus on turn-by-turn.

            Turn-by-turn: it’s simply the next chapter in our book, the skyline of our painting, or the next bar of music for our composition. Sometimes it’s even less—just the next sentence, the next brush stroke or the next note. Those that lack faith in the inner GPS pull to the side of the road and try to map out the whole journey. “Well, where is this story going? What is the whole picture supposed to look like? What is my symphony supposed to sound like?” And, time is wasted while holes are punched in the map. The true creative trusts the inner GPS and just focuses on the next turn. This is freedom to enjoy the creative journey—look out the window, watch the mountains, drink of the streams or have lunch in the quaint little village. At times the inner GPS has the entire creative journey plotted out. At times, it’s also figuring out the journey. The important thing to remember is that the inner GPS knows more of the journey than it puts on the screen; and, that if we just worry about driving the half-mile we see, the rest of the journey will unfold.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Such is Life

            Right now I have several projects going. I am working on updating my resume. I’m going into far more detail about my writing experiences. For example, I taught online for 7 years. Most people don’t realize that’s really a writing position. It wasn’t uncommon to spend 2-3 hours at a sitting emailing students—explaining to them upcoming assignments, answering questions and reminding them of upcoming events. Virtually all the grading was in writing, including detailed written evaluations. Most of my communication with supervisors was in writing. I was writing all the time for that job.
            When I consider my classroom teaching, I realize I’ve also done a ton of writing—handouts, class projects, activities, written feedback and development of presentations. I also have taught many speech and writing classes—all of them requiring knowledge of grammar, punctuation, spelling and organizational patterns. It’s hard to imagine becoming a great writer without this background. It forced me to master the mechanics.
            A second project I’m looking towards is finding an agent. I may need two—one for plays and screenwriting and another for books. I now have three screenplays and a stage play that will one day be hits. These have all come together in the past six months. So, I know how to write, but I now need to figure out how to market and find the gatekeepers.
            A third project is the development of materials for a training seminar on creativity. While much of what I’ll do in the seminar will be spoken, I’m using writing to think through all the ideas and prepare. This will eventually become a book. Some of the concepts of creativity are extremely hard to comprehend. It’s not an easy project, but I think it will be useful. I have no idea what doors this may open, but I can see it being useful for individuals, businesses and organizations. It has so many applications.

            So, that’s where I’m at right now. My brain is buzzing!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

To Bake or not To Bake

            It seems lately the biggest social issue is whether or not a Christian should bake a wedding cake for a gay wedding. Perhaps the issue has more to say about the state of modern Christianity than it does about gay marriage. The conclusion I come to, whether dealing with those that would or those that wouldn’t bake, is that the Christian community can’t live with ambiguity.
            Read the posts and you’ll see what I mean. Both sides provide a list of Scriptures and a detailed explanation to a hypothetical scenario; hypothetical, since few of the people commenting are bakers. Christians handle issues like a jigsaw puzzle with bits of Bible quotes used as pieces to fill in the picture. They want simple answers and because of this they are viewed as simple people—detached from the complexity of real world situations. Is it possible there are situations where a Christian should bake the cake and situations where they shouldn’t? Is it possible that such determination requires discernment as opposed to some argument pieced together through proof texts much like a carpenter would build a table from scraps of wood? Is it possible that faith, God and living in the world is far more difficult than the simplified answers spewed from the pulpiteers and the pundits?
            Somewhere along the line, Christians were taught they were supposed to have all the answers—all neatly packaged into sterile arguments and delivered through a sermon and a song. Study the gospels and you will find Jesus preached through dialogue. He engaged people as opposed to lecturing and he often gave questions instead of answers. The Bible is often a complex and at times ambiguous book. Perhaps the Creator is just as complex as his creation. Perhaps his character and his plans can’t be boiled down to simple arguments given by simple people. Maybe it’s all right for Christians to live with some ambiguity and to occasionally tell the world, “I don’t know.”
            Considering this whole debate about cake baking, I must ponder if the writers of these bills are laughing at our stupidity. Seems to me they’ve used the Christian community as pawns in their ultimate agenda—total power of the state. They’ve whipped people into a frenzied militancy defending the bill on issues that don’t relate to the bill. They may win the battle, not because they are right, but because they’ve fooled soldiers into defense of their cause.
            What does the bill in Indiana actually say? Section 8 (b) states, “A governmental entity may substantially burden a person's exercise of religion only if the governmental entity demonstrates that application of the burden to the person: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.” So, if my religious freedom conflicts with a “compelling governmental interest” than the government may “substantially burden” me. Does that sound like religious freedom or a trampling of the 1st Amendment? Well, at least I have the protection that such “substantial burden” is done in “the least restrictive means”. Of course, I’m sure it will be the government that determines what is least restrictive.

            We need to wake up. These religious freedom bills have nothing to do with what is scrolled in hydrogenated fat across a cake. They have nothing to do with protecting religious freedoms—at least for Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Atheists, Agnostics or whatever ‘ism, ‘ist, ‘ian or ‘ic you happen to be. The only God these bills protect is the God of State. I’ve seen his priests, sacrificing our freedoms at his altars. It’s a God none of us want to worship. That is what these bills are really about!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Planning Life

            Planning life is like preparing for a transatlantic voyage in a rowboat. You need to strike out in a certain direction. But, you also need to realize that waves and storms will arise that will alter your course. So, what direction am I striking away from shore?
            I’m looking into furthering my education. The first stop may be a small island called Real Estate school. Right now I need greater finances coming in for other options I’m considering.
            I love screenwriting. Whether that will ever become a career or just a hobby is hard to say. But, I am a writer and a writer writes. I am compelled to do it. I am considering taking a screenwriting externship with the Film Connection. It’s basically an 8-month program where I would be working side-by-side with a screenwriter in the field. At least from some initial information I’ve received, this program would work around a work schedule. Sure, I could do an MFA program in creative writing. I may end up doing that. But, my biggest concern about academia is it’s detached from the real world. I want to be working with people in the field.
            I’m working on some parables for an upcoming training seminar on overcoming writer’s block and unleashing creativity. I’m not sure when that will happen. It’s going to be done in conjunction with my writer’s group.
            My dad is getting stronger. He does need a boost psychologically. He’s been through a lot and it has taken its toll. Still, we have a good prognosis for continued recovery. My brother is starting a new job today. I think he’ll do great! Way to go, Lance! So, that’s where I’m at right now.

Monday, March 16, 2015

My Weekly Blog

            Don’t you love that catchy title? Today is somewhat nerve wracking. Dad receives results from his MRI later this afternoon. Hopefully everything comes back stable. If not, my life as well as everyone in the family could be thrown for a tailspin.
            I’ve started a new screenplay. It’s about a college where every term each instructor gets to kill one student. It’s the secret of Cordell’s success. It causes heightened fear and all the students are extremely scholarly and hard working. It’s a dark comedy. I’ve only written one scene. I’m not sure right now if I’ll love it or not. I may explore the idea and then find it’s not worth exploring. That’s how creativity works.
            I’ve been able to do a little practice on my little red trombone. I’m eking out notes over two and a third octaves. I hope to get to about two and a half soon and then start using video flashcards I’ve designed to learn the slide positions. My chops don’t have much strength. Once I begin to build strength, I hope to hit about three octaves and learn the slide positions without having to think about them. Once I get to that point, I have something to work with musically. Until that point, well, I’ll continue to sound like a wounded duck.
            I continue the job search. I’m investigating real estate sales. It would mean going back to school—not for long, but I would need to obtain a real estate license. I’ll have to see how things go—if I get an interview and then after gaining some information if it’s a job I’d enjoy. I suspect I’d do well. I’m learning to work with people better. I have an outgoing personality, but at times I can be a little high speed and hyper. Teaching college is teaching me how to slow down and relax. I’ve learning more and more to go with the flow.
            Well, I guess there isn’t anything else exciting going on in my life. Maybe in a couple weeks I’ll wash and wax my car. But, I’ll have to wait until I think the snow is finally done.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Life Hit Me

            So, I didn’t get in my Monday blog and am instead doing it on Thursday. For my fans out there (all 2 of you, since mom isn’t internet savvy), let me just share what is going on. Hopefully you’ll find it interesting. If not, I’ll keep things short.
            I’ve been tired lately. I’m trying to get some rest while my work schedule allows it. The past year and a half has been hectic. I almost lost my dad to cancer. He is getting stronger. Hopefully we won’t get any bad news with the latest MRI he had yesterday. Results come Monday.
            This academic term I’m teaching Preparatory Math. For all those math teachers out there that complain, let me lay the truth on you. Teaching math is far easier than teaching writing. I’ve taught both. At least with math, I have a set procedure to follow and a right and wrong answer. With writing there’s a thousand different paths to a destination and a thousand right (and wrong) destinations.
            I’m enjoying the momentary return of sunlight to Ohio. It’s fifty degrees outside. I’m starting to regain lungpower. With the on-and-off bitter cold, I’ve had nasty chest congestion. Just when it was about to leave, another cold snap hit with temperatures below zero. With some renewed lungpower, I’m again able to start fiddling around and learning alto trombone. Right now I’m good enough to do some wonderful sound effects—wounded duck, dying moose and battered car horn.
            Presently, I’m in a creative lull. I just finished up a screenplay about a week ago. I still need to do some editing and then copyright it. I really don’t worry about lulls in creativity. It’s all part of the process. Creativity tends to come in like waves. It’s a tide that ebbs and flows. Sure, you can churn up waves and help the process along, but lulls still happen.
            Spiritually, things are a little up and down. I’ve been reevaluating what church and Christianity is all about. I haven’t lost faith. Actually, the reevaluation may have increased my faith. I’m seeing more and more my need for fellow Christians. It’s somewhat hard, since I have a wacky schedule. Between teaching, where my schedule fluctuates every term, and helping my parents, I haven’t been able to find a stable schedule. I’m not a person that lives on routine, but a little routine may be nice to provide some stability.
            So, there you have it. That’s where I’m at and what’s going on. Tune in next week when the Robinson family encounters giant, Cyclops aliens!

Monday, March 2, 2015

No Complaints

            Okay, maybe the title is a lie. I have plenty of things to complain about, but I’m choosing not to gripe. Instead, let’s look at the positive things going on in my life. I’ve found my passion and it’s writing. It might sound like a little thing, but I think some people go a lifetime without ever finding something that really fires them up.
            I really love writing screenplays. I’m currently working on one called, Has Beens. It’s about a teenager, Wendell, who lives in the town of Hazbenz. Hazbenz is where all the animated stars go after the credits roll. Wendell desperately wants to seek his future and get out.
            An ogre, Shirk, kidnaps his girlfriend, Melanie. Because of the inept police force, Wendell decides he’s going to rescue her on his own. You might have guessed from that ogre’s name that this is a spoof. You might think of it as the Spaceballs of the animated genre.

            So, where am I going to go with these animated screenplays I’ve written? At the moment, I don’t know. All I know is I love to write them and I want to be involved in their production. I hope someday I can do voice work as well. I’ve started out on an adventure and I don’t know where it’s headed. But, I have faith things will work out.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Trip to NYC

            Last week I was able to travel to New York City for a free screenwriting class. The class was entitled, How to Pitch Like a Pro. It was an energetic class with a great group of people. It did give me several ideas of where to start with my animated screenplay, Nugget. I’m not sure where promoting that will head, but I’m going to start applying the lessons learned in that class and see where it heads.
            Unlike the trip to Grandmother’s house in the old children’s song, the trip to New York doesn’t go over the river. I went under the river—through the Holland Tunnel on the way there and through the Lincoln Tunnel on the way back. It’s not scary, but it is a tight squeeze of traffic. What is scary is a New York City cab driver. The guy that drove me had sixteen consonants in his name and drove like a maniac. I think he may have learned how to drive in New Jersey. New Jersey traffic, particularly near New York, is madness. It requires quick braking, high speeds, and a lack of reticence using the horn or exercising the finger.
            I had some New York pizza, which was yummy, but the best food I ate was at Lenny’s. Their sandwiches are the bomb. Just be ready to sacrifice an artery at the altar of flavor.
            I was able to see quite a few sights including: Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Station, the library, Bryant Park, NBC Studios and Radio City Music Hall. Since I was there for less than a day, I wasn’t able to see any of these in detail. I took a picture and moved on. By the end of the day my feet were barking.
            When I’m able to go again, I would love to see Central Park. The midtown area is frenetic. It is a constant wash of voices, engines and horns. All that background noise could become tiresome quickly. I think Central Park may be the quiet oasis to soothe the nerves, but I’m just guessing.
            I was able to take a ride in the subway. Before getting on the train, a gentleman with a British accent was asking me for directions. I wasn’t able to help him, seeing I had only been in the city for an hour and a half. I’m not sure if I simply had a friendly face or if I looked like a New Yorker. Maybe this poor soul was tending sheep a day before on some hillside and was completely lost in the big city. I think someone else helped him. Good thing, because I had only tentatively figured out my next stop. This may be a metaphor for my life—a sojourner who only has a tentative idea of his next stop.

Monday, February 9, 2015

People are Sheep

            In the Bible God’s children are often described as sheep. I’ve heard people describe sheep as stupid, defenseless creatures who will wander off and get themselves in trouble. What does this observation say about how God views us and what does it say about shepherds?
            What if God finds our sheep-like qualities noble? Sheep are gentle, communal creatures who like to explore. Certainly any of those traits can be troublesome if taken to an extreme, but maybe within balance God finds those traits compelling.
            God is often described in shepherding terms. So, what is the role of a shepherd? Does a shepherd transform sheep into different creatures? Or, does a shepherd tend to sheep allowing them to fully express their sheepness?
            Let’s consider for a moment the leadership structure in the Protestant model of church. In this model there is supposed to be shepherds. The Bible definitely describes people gifted to do this pastoral task, but are those in the clergy doing the task in a Biblical way? Let’s consider how things are done in the Protestant church. In this model, these shepherds do most of the teaching and cast the vision for the local congregation. They often serve to bring a group of people into conformity to a given set of doctrine. The worship services and programs they lead are all designed to a certain degree to guide behavior. It seems they aren’t functioning primarily as a shepherd, allowing each person to express their sheepness. They seem to be functioning more like a rancher driving a herd of cattle.
            Perhaps shepherds aren’t meant to be over (as in an over-under hierarchy of leadership), but are meant to be servants to the sheep. Consider the Good Shepherd, who took up the basin to wash the feet of his sheep. What if the primary role of shepherds is to allow sheep to fully express their sheepness—being gentle, communal and explorative creatures? Perhaps sheepness is a trait that God finds compelling and a trait that could transform the world. Seems this sheepness is the polar opposite of what the world teaches. It also seems the polar opposite of how the church operates. Maybe we need to embrace sheepness, but that isn’t so easy. It first means transforming the church with all its rituals and power structures. It means transforming the role of the shepherds and also the congregants. Perhaps the power of the church is not found in its leaders, programs, buildings, budgets or services. Perhaps the power of the church comes when believers express their sheepness.

Monday, February 2, 2015

My Head Hurts

            I’ve just been reading student papers and my head hurts. It often hurts while reading student papers. The amount of mental energy it takes to figure out meaning obscured by awkward sentences, sentence fragments, run-on sentences, improperly used words and whatever else is exhausting.
            I think about how hard it may be for my students to succeed in the workforce. Their future bosses aren’t paid to decipher. They simply won’t put up with it. My students may not be hired or promoted simply because they can’t write. If only they truly understood that. If they knew they were flirting with disaster by going through the motions in my class, things would be different. But, why should I expect them to think that far ahead? Many of them started the paper due today last night. Some haven’t yet begun on the paper that was due three weeks ago.
            The amount of work it takes to decipher poor writing is simply representative of the amount of work it takes to create good writing. If my students did the work of deciphering their thoughts into comprehensible English, my job would be far easier.

            I think instructors go through phases. There is the phase where you have greater skills than your students (at least in the subject you are teaching) and pulling your students up is not only benefitting them, but it’s also developing your skills. Then, you enter the phase where you’re pulling students up, but you’re not being developed. The final phase is where your students are starting to pull you down. When you’re in that phase, it’s time to start considering other career options. I’m at that phase.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Winter, Ugh!

            This morning I just wanted to curl into the fetal position and go back to bed. Yes, it’s winter in Ohio. It’s that time of year when the sky is grey for days on end. It’s that time of year when mounds of snow cover cars. It’s that time of year when people who normally drive crazy continue on their paths of destruction, only now they drive on snow, ice and jam-packed highways.

            What is winter in Ohio good for? It’s good for the pharmaceutical industry. I can hear the ching-ching of the cash registers as another prescription of antidepressant is sold. It’s good for children—who, free from the responsibility of functioning, can enjoy building a snow man, sledding or may have a day off from school. For the rest of us it’s a time of bitter cold, coughing, clearing cars, shoveling walks and grumbling. Today, I’m in the mood to grumble, ugh!

Monday, January 19, 2015

I'm Tired

            I’m not much in the mood to blog and I don’t have much to say. Can I say that? Last Thursday my dad was taken to the hospital. We had quite a scare, but now he’s home. Between that, work and trying to figure out new directions, my brain is mush.
            There’s no doubt I’m done teaching. Today I looked out into the sea of disinterested faces. It’s not their fault. They are no more interested in grammar than I am. But, even if I wasn’t teaching grammar, I’d be teaching people whose minds are past the class—focused on that sheet of paper at the end of the journey. I want to be a part of a growing, creative environment. I don’t want to be surrounded by people going through the motions.
            I’m considering film school—probably Colorado Film School. They are highly rated. They are located in Denver. Long story short, I had a dream where God seemed to be leading me to Denver. I suspect God has kept me in the Akron area to help dad through his recent bout with cancer. The word from all the doctors is that this period is coming to an end.
            Right now my brain is too foggy to have a clear direction. However, I do know I love creativity and want to be in a completely creative field. I do know I love screenwriting. I also love acting. I’m considering taking a degree in writing and directing. Will I like directing? I can’t say for sure. I’ve never done it, but I suspect I’ll love it.
            Right now I just don’t have all the answers or all the information to make decisions based entirely on logic. I’m not sure in life there ever comes a point where that is true. I’m basing decisions as much on intuition as logic. In some ways, I think that has me making better decisions.

            Anyhow, I know this blog is all over the place. But, it simply represents where its author is at.