Snausages!

snausage treat jar
The other day we were out thrifting (actually I was sort of tagging along) and while Liz picked and poked through various assorted finds, I was drawn briefly to the wall of discarded toys. In all of its colorful glory, there’s still something a bit somber about a mass collection of mostly broken playthings, enjoyed for a time, but now dirty and forgotten, living out their last hopeful moments in thrift purgatory. But salvation awaited one item that I was shocked and delighted to see, smiling out in familiar joy: a Snausage treat jar. Yes, not exactly a toy, but to the eye of a thrift store employee, a rose by any other name, I guess.

One had to actually send away for this thing via so many UPCs and addtional cash, waiting so many weeks for it to be shipped. But with two properly installed AAs, a lift of the head issues forth a comical little expression of “snausages!”. Filled with the right doggie treat, the jar made for a nice pavlovian apparatus that would bring my dog Marty running and barking. Ben K. often enjoyed torturing Marty this way.

So you’re wondering, why would I want to now own two of these things, especially when I don’t currently have a dog? Who knows. It was a buck. And it’s still fun. I can only imagine though, setting them both off might have made Marty’s head explode.

random thoughts

On the true value of a husband:

When I stepped into the shower this morning, I glanced up to discover a nasty spider creeping across the ceiling above me. A sort of shimmering bronze critter that looked as though it could leap should it so desire.

A year ago, I would have calmly dealt with the creature myself. This time I merely shrieked and let my husband come in and squelch it.

Highly satisfactory.

On health food:

There’s a hole-in-the-wall with windows and a dirty awning at the end of our street where less-than-fine dining establishments come and go. The latest calls itself Tony’s, and appears to sell a random assortment of fairground food from an actual building instead of trailers.

The grease is a palpable cloud as you walk by. The menu is garishly emblazoned across both windows and awnings:

Loaded spiral fries

Funnel cakes

Fried pickles (and Twinkies. and Oreos)

Hand-dipped onion rings

Cotton candy

Chili cheese dogs

And at the very bottom, the piece de resistance:

Salads.

I’ll have mine fried, thanks.

Getting Lucky

Frankly, I don’t believe in luck.

I believe in a God who orchestrates all the details of my life down to who I run into at the grocery store and the fact that my car currently needs a brake job (while somehow still allowing room for my full freedom of choice).

At any rate, I’ve received a spate of calls and emails regarding writing jobs of late. It’s not luck, so to speak, but it does involve getting Lucky. While a number of these writing gigs have panned to nothing (as is common in the arts world!), I’ve landed my first real professional credit: a rewrite on a kids feature film that’s going into production this summer–titled “Lucky and Plumpton.”

Lucky is a kid whose life decidedly contradicts his name–until he discovers a magical recipe book with the personality and charm of a seemingly sweet Siamese kitty that’s up to no good. Plumpton…well, I’m still figuring him out.

I’ll be living with Lucky and his world for the next six weeks or so. And if I manage to draw him out well enough, you might just see him on the big screen.

Pray for my creativity and sanity.
Lucky & Plumpton

what lies beneath…update

Hours after I posted, the city came through.

The crew showed up in the pouring rain with a dump truck chock full of gooey asphalt. They chucked some in the hole (apparently the fact that is was full of muddy water wasn’t an issue), backed the truck over their handiwork a few times, and departed in haste–their dirty deed complete.

Yup, that’ll last.

what lies beneath

pothole
We have a pothole the size of Manhattan in the road directly in front of our house.

As a writer, I reserve the right to a certain amount of hyperbole…but truly, I’m not invoking it overly much in this case.

Our one-way street was bricked in a former life, so the thin crust of pavement lies uncomfortably over the top. After a winter of ice and snow plows, followed by torrential rain, it succumbs to cracks and buckles with little more than a whimper. What started as a fist-size fissure days ago is now a full-blown archaeological dig.

Since our yard is only, well, about two yards long, placing us too near traffic for comfort, we can lie in bed and listen to the unfortunate vehicles who neglect to swerve.

ka-chunk.

Ten points.

ka-CHUNK!

The bus. A good twenty points. And another shovelful of asphalt spewed across the road, too.

David just came up to inform me that he actually saw a few cars slow down to avoid the crater. As our street is notorious in the neighborhood for flying vehicles — due to no stop signs or speed bumps — this is a positive development. Maybe we won’t report our fault line to the city just yet.

At any rate, wherever we move next–we shan’t miss Ohio roads.

The Church of Oprah

the big give
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:1-4)

All things are lawful…

Paul can be a hard guy to decipher. Especially when he gets up on his “I, not the Lord” horse. –Because what’s that supposed to say to those of us who believe him when he tells Timothy all Scripture is breathed out by God?

But that’s another post.

I’ve run up against some difficult choices in my life: grad school, marriage, moving. Places where two roads diverged sharply. In every case I can recall, either one choice was obviously wrong, or both choices were good and morally acceptable — as if God was holding out two equal options and allowing me to pick.

Last week, we hit gray. After months of brick walls, job searching, and vocational frustrations for both of us, I was offered a great editorial job with a publishing company in Cincinnati. It was nearly a one of a kind position — one of the few places in the country I could do what I was doing at Willow. Even a step up to leading a team, which would be a good stretch. It was clearly an answer to prayer.

Just as I was prepared to accept, I received an email from the director of the group that gave me a writing fellowship last year. Would I be interested in a full-time screenwriting/script development job with them?

A full-time, salaried writing job? Are you kidding?

Even in the face of a great offer already on the table, it was a no brainer for me…and David was on board, too.

The catch? Funding for the position isn’t firmed up. While we hoped to know for sure last week, it may be another month until anything is concrete.

Meanwhile, I was supposed to be starting another job within days.

On one hand, a solid, even exciting, guaranteed career job. On the other hand, my dream writing job, not guaranteed, and requiring an out-of-state move.

We were counseled by several Christian friends–for whom I have great respect–that good business sense, biblical shrewdness even, means taking what’s set before you until the next door opens. So: take the publishing job and quit if you get another firm offer.

My head agreed, but I couldn’t seem to come to terms with the idea of accepting a job and allowing a company to invest in me for several months–while knowing there was a 80% chance I’d walk out on them during their busiest season.

That’s when one of Paul’s more enigmatic bits of wisdom started coming clear:

“‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbors.” (I Corinthians 10:23-24)

Would it have been ethically wrong for me to take the publishing job?

I don’t know. Maybe not.

But I do know that hard as it was to call and “quit” a job I was scheduled to start in a few days, it would have been exponentially more difficult doing it in two months.

My supervisor probably would never have known I was almost certain of quitting from the first.

But I would have known.

So we’re out on a limb right now, waiting for funding, waiting for confirmation on other writing jobs and freelance work.

The breeze up here is kind of nice.

snowy satisfaction

backyard shot
Liz and I will admit to being a tad stranger than most folks in our communal love of winter. We love the cold, the snow, cozying up under blankets as heaters crank away. They way I see it, I enjoy staying warm in cold weather far more than I enjoy trying to cool off in the heat. But I secretly think this is much more cosmically sound, as cold is not a naturally positive stateā€”it’s merely the absence of heat. Therefore, manufactured cold, while in some sense necessary and welcomed in our creature-comforted Western world, still seems… unnatural. And it pales to creating the natural state of warmth out of the cold. But I digress.

Why I’m mindful of this is we just received the last gasping pang of winter, perhaps not only for Ohio, but for us two in particular (er… more on that later). Over a foot of snow fell over the past two days, covering our little world in a frosty wrapping, halting many of the normal maddening activities while giving rise to more enjoyable ones, like sledding and yes, shoveling. Sure, gripe all you want, I enjoyed heaving snow yesterday, despite the sprained abdomen muscle I got from a crack-up on a sled run the night before. It’s all been fun. Even walking a mile to the video store has been a treat, snow blowing about us, faces tingling with chill. Whatever snowy deficit we had through the Christmas season has been more than made up for.

And you can’t help but love the way a huge serving of snow just stops things. Life still churns away, sure, but all the activity we seem to think is so vital to our day to day existence, suddenly becomes: “oh, well maybe not so critical after all.” I guess that even includes school, for a day anyway. And given the universal lot we and our neighbors find ourselves in, people seem generally more friendly. We dig each other out, help push stuck cars, shovel walks and commiserate our dilemmas. It doesn’t describe everyone, but it feels like a lot more genuine help and friendliness comes out when we all realize we’re hampered in the same way. Too bad it takes a blizzard to show us a tiny shadow of our true state.

I’ve always hated the bias the weather people around here have toward winter (“unfortunately, looks like we’re going to see some more white stuff today…”), as if we all share some universal hatred of what I think is as beautiful as any other account of nature. Hey, I love spring as much as the next guy, but until that equinox, I say bring on the snow.

A Mile “Stone”?


Liz and I watched Eli Stone last night, mostly for being too lazy to get up and do something else after Lost (which on most nights means slinking back to our computers). But there has been some good buzz about the show’s ability to integrate faith in God (shudder to think) with the show’s narrative. The main character (a trial lawyer) gets visions from God via a handy little brain aneurysm, but through them he’s attempting to migrate toward a more virtuous life. Given he’s a trial lawyer, this has built in conflict for years to come. But last night’s B plot narrative ended up being the more compelling twist in the episode. It concerned a custody fallout between two former lesbian lovers, one of whom was carrying the other’s child (the male donor was conveniently never mentioned). Problem was, the pregnant woman had become a Christian (or had renewed her faith) and no longer saw gay life as appropriate for her child, or something “she wanted.” Naturally, I was groaning in the first scene, because we generally know where this goes: crazy Christian has irrational judgmental delusions based on some confused dogma and ends up doing much harm (or murder, if you’re on CSI or Law and Order). Or: crazy Christian is really just putting on an act to get what he wants, but by episode’s end will see the “light” and revert to his previous lifestyle. Almost true to form, the turn that forces the pregnant woman to eventually lose the custody battle did feel like it was signaling the latter premise. But strangely, the show never landed there. In fact, the Christian woman tearfully decides in her closing scene to give up full custody to her former lover, thinking it best to simply leave her past behind her. Whoa.

It’s still too early to decide where this is all heading (with the show’s continuing narrative, the neo-Christian still has time to return later in the season to denounce her faith), but it feels like there might be some really smart work underway on this show. Think about it. How clever would it be to introduce a wildly popular “buzz” topic like lesbianism (to wit: one of the show’s characters even says “isn’t everyone a lesbian these days?”) but then drop a bomb at the end of the episode by having the Christian character do something so out of character with the world, but so in character with God; totally self-denying, totally self-humiliating. I can only picture the thousands of annoyed viewers who watched that scene with their mouths hanging open. Really, why on earth would anyone in their right mind do that?

Could it be that living for God as if He matters above all things might just trump any personal sense of entitlement, rights or wounded justice? Go figure… In the meantime, we’re keeping a curious eye on Eli Stone. (full episodes can be seen online at abc.com)

The Lair

Arclight Studios
As of this week, I have officially moved my chimera of computer/audio/video stuff to the home office (spare bedroom) after having carted it every six months (over the past two years) to some new “permanent” location. No small affair that. But, it feels good here, crammed into this tiny space, hard drives and fans whirring and thinking, compensating for the generally moderate temps in the rest of the house (heh heh). We’ve unofficially titled the place “The Lair”.

The move also re-christens all this video and graphic enterprise otherwise known as Arclight Studios (nasty old site to be redone soon!). Technically I guess it’s more of an Arclight *studio*, unless we count Liz’s big comfy chair 9 feet away, where 98% of her time is spent on the laptop.

But yes, we endeavor to move ahead with all things indie film, with some freelance graphic whatnot thrown in here and there. Of course, we both still have multiple big script projects on the front burners, so we toil away at the page, hoping and dreaming our efforts will pay off sooner or later. And did I mention we’re actually working on a feature script together? Too bad we need still to work regular jobs!

This should give you a better appreciation for the belly of the beast.