Sep 24, 2007

Kathy Griffin Dissed Jesus?

When Kathy Griffin won an Emmy last week for her reality show, The D List, she said in her acceptance speech: "A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus. This award is my God now!"

One Christian theater company scolded her in a full-page ad in USA Today. According to the general manager of the Tennessee Miracle Theater, "When word reached our cast that a Hollywood celebrity had stood before TV cameras and said such vulgar things about Christ, they were incensed. It's just not OK anymore to mock Christians and Jesus with impunity."

Kathy responded, "Am I the only Catholic left with a sense of humor?"

No, Kathy you're not the only Catholic with a sense of humor. But you could count the number evangelicals with senses of humor (at least the ones who’d watch your show or understand your irony) on a single frostbitten, gangrened hand in a South Pole winter.

True, her remark was a bit outré. True, Christians are made fun of a lot in Hollywood. Jesus, not so much, but Christians definitely, with jokes that, if you made them about an African American or a gay or an autistic person, you’d get fired. Just ask Isaiah Washington.

But maybe the members of the Tennessee Miracle Theater didn’t quite understand the joke. Or Kathy Griffin. Or Hollywood. Or Hollywood’s idolatrous worship of awards and fame.

So in the verbosity of postmodern hermeneutics, let’s unpack this.

1) Did Kathy make a vulgar remark aimed at The Savior?
Vulgarity is defined as "crude, common, conspicuously and tastelessly indecent, usually referring to language, gestures or expletives." You know, your average teen blockbuster like Talladega Nights/ Wedding Crashers/Superbad. Which, God-fearing Americans went to see in droves. Kathy’s remark may have been ragged, but I don’t remember hearing vulgarity. All I heard her say was that Jesus had nothing to do with her Emmy. And since her show is coarse and R-rated, wouldn’t polite Christians be pleased that she absolved Jesus of any involvement in it?

2) “This award is my God now!”
Given Hollywood’s obsession with awards and awards shows (Oscars, Emmys, MTV, VH1, Americas Choice, People’s Choice, American People’s Choice) Kathy spoke gospel truth: that Hollywood worships fame. And let’s not leave out the rest of the Christian-God-fearing America, that has turned American IDOL, Dancing with the Stars and America’s Next Top Model/Nanny/Trump Clone into ratings hits.

3) Not thanking Jesus for her award
Haven’t we all seen some celebrity thank God an award, meanwhile they're sleeping around, into drugs or guns? Gangsta rappers who thank Jesus for their grammy. Or Jessica and Ashlee Simpson, and their PASTOR DAD who’s pimped them into objects of sexual idolatry? And then Thanked God for their success? GROSS.

My friend Russ told me about a seminar at his church last summer. The leader asked the participants to invite a non-believer to come and tell the seminar what they thought was wrong with the Church. Everyone who was invited, came to speak. They were vulnerable and honest. One man said, “I'm tired of the church telling me what not to do ... ‘don't, don't, don't.’ I want to hear what you want me TO do.” What troubled Russ the most was how many people mentioned the hypocrisy they perceived in the church. Of course, hypocrisy is a flaw of human nature, it's not limited to religious people. But we of all people should be above reproach.

In his book, Simply Christian, NT Wright points to things that all human beings long for: justice, transcendence, beauty, and relationship. Those are the points where we can engage others -- find our commonality -- because every human being desires them. And if we are telling the story of God and what Jesus did so that we can experience transcendence, beauty, justice and relationship, people might not think first of hypocrisy when they think of the church.

I was in the Groundlings Sunday Company when Kathy was in the Main company. I remember her as a talented, abrasive, tough, funny, hard-working broad. Most comedians have a lot of pain in their lives, and humor is how they got through it. The insanity of the entertainment business makes them even tougher. Maybe that's Kathy's schtick. But her show The D List beat out all those other vapid, soul-killing reality shows like "The Hills" and "Laguna Beach." So to that I say, hoorah.

Kathy's show exposes the idiocy and hypocrisy in the entertainment business. Jesus exposed the hypocrisy of religious leaders. So my guess is, Jesus appreciates Kathy doing the same. Her remark may still be offensive or coarse to some.

I wonder if rather than taking action against her , we might want to send some love and grace. Let's think of how Jesus would want to approach her. If you’re stumped, take a look at the initials on that bracelet you bought at the Maranatha Everlasting Word Bookstore /Coffee House/Build-A-Christian-Bear workshop. “W.W.J.D.?”

Sep 21, 2007

A Moment Of Silence For The Apostrophe

I posted this on the Burnside Blog, so if you read both, my apologies for the redundancy.

NOTE: This blog originally contained two photos of signs found at Target advertising Trouser's and Jean's. But Blogger removed the photos. Maybe Target owns Blogger?

Anyway, without the photos, the blog just reads like a snobby rant. Which I guess it is ...

I know, I'm a grammar snob. I know that far worse errors are being overlooked in the halls of education. Like, bringing guns to class. And I know we all do things in our private penmanship we aren't proud of. (Or, "of which we are not proud.")

But when bad grammar usage makes it into corporate signage, spread on every sale rack in the Target chain whose ads aim for today's hip clientele and tomorrows tastemakers ... Then I really have to speak out. And it's always the same crime. The apostrophe.

Since when doe's an anything with in an "S" have an apostrophe? I's thi's becau'se we're outsourcing our sign's to Ch'i'n'a?

Here's (here is) when to use the punctuation in question.

  • To indicate the contraction of two words.
    here is = here's
    . We will = we'll. You are = you're
  • Or possession; belonging to...
    Susan's pet peeve
    . The pet peeve that Susan has.
    Sophie's Choice.
    The choice that Sophie made.
  • DO NOT USE on Plurals. The S just indicates that there is more than one.
    Pants: many pants. Trousers: many trousers.
    Idiots who make signs. Many idiots make many signs.
Unless you're Arabic, where they put a contraction in everything, al'ham d'Allah, then leave the doggies alone!

And now a moment of silence to remember why we are here: not to eradicate poverty, injustice or Justin Timberlake. We're here to make grammar waymobetta.

PS: As Annina below points out, a common faux pas of the apostrophe is its vs. it's.
only it's when it's a contraction of it is.
  • Baby it's cold outside. It's all good. It's Miller Time.
Not ....

Sep 20, 2007

Nigerian Scammers In Your In Box!

I got an email from a friend of mine today. She's newly married and works for a military defense company in Southern California. So imagine my surprise to hear she's stuck in a hotel in "Africa, Nigeria" with no money, and a keyboard stuck on CAPS LOCK.



Wow, she couldn't even put my name in the salutation. It must be serious. I emailed her right back.

Hey, dolls! Wow, you're just the girl to go to Africa, Nigeria. Did your military defense firm send you on a covert mission? You look so straight-laced, but underneath it you're a mercenary mama! Jennifer Garner, move over!
How did you rack up a $2,000 tab? Aren't hotel rooms in Africa, Nigeria, only like two kwanzaa a night? You must have been ordering a lot of oryx barbecue, or else you charged that safari to your room.
I still owe you a wedding gift (Emily Post says I have a year to buy it!). But why stop at $2,000? Let's make it an even 2 million. Are you free later today? I could pop on over to Africa, Nigeria, and rob the Second Bank of Nairobi. You can be my wing man. Hope to "READ FROM YOU" as you would say.
Apparently hackers got into her yahoo email account and co-opted her address book. So now they're not just sending from random addresses, they're spamming with addresses you think you really know. But come on, who's going to fall for this kind of thing? Well, my friend's great uncle did. He called her, frantic, and asking where he could send the funds. It's the older folks who get suckered. I know, my husband writes boring fund raising appeals, and the oldsters fall for them all the time.

Which reminds me. I'm stuck in this Starbucks in America, Santa Monica, and the barista is screaming at me to pay for my mounting bar tab of ten caramel light frappuccinos and a biscotti. So please, please, western union me some coffee money.


Sep 19, 2007

Almost Autumn in New York

It's not quite autumn; not for another three days. But Larry and I spent a lovely end of summer vacation in New York last week with our good friends, Dave and Heather. If there were such thing as four peas in a pod, I guess it would be the four of us. Dave and Larry are both writer-editors. Heather and I are both writers. The guys are introverts, the girls are extroverts. And it goes on. Plus we can get together and talk about art and books and story and faith, and we can laugh together. They were the perfect couple to enjoy New York together. It was Larry's first trip to New York City, so I was very excited for him to see it.

The first day we walked everywhere, from 76th and Columbus down to the Central Library. We stopped in at the new offices of IAM, where my old roommate Christy works. IAM is a great organization that fosters bridges between the worlds of fine art and faith. I love Christy, I've watched her grow as an artist and a person, and she is so excited about the work they do. It was really great to see her. And she had on this killer scarf, I forgot to ask her where she bought it.

We hopped the subway downtown and took a much-needed break on the Staten Island Ferry. Gorgeous views, mild temperatures, and a stunning view of the city. Did I mention this was Larry's first time in New York?

That night we were knackered, so we got back to the apartment and popped in one of the movies that was there. "You've Got Mail." I pretty much hate that film. Way over directed. Poor Meg was told to "act cute," and "make a face like you're reading an email as you walk down the street. Now pout." Blecch. Tom Hanks is good in everything he does, and he was spared the "act cute" direction. We groaned and sighed through it. But oh it was fun! Because it was filmed almost entirely in the area we were staying. "See Larry, that's Zabars, the store we were just in. That's the subway stop we just came out of. That's Riverside Park where we walked down to watch the boats. It was like watching a video you'd just taken. And well it's new York, it's glorious, and a glorious time of year to be there.

I also stopped in to see my agents, and they'd love to have me back in the city long-term. Which got us thinking and scheming about that. If Larry could work from home that is. Ah what fun it would be to spend a few months in Manhattan. Just to say you did.

We saw some great art at the Met, as always. Go to the rooftop sculpture garden for a great view of the park! Then we saw a fantastic exhibit at the Whitney: The Summer of Love: the Art of Psychedelia of the 1960s. One of the best shows I've seen in years, because they had this great soundtrack that went with the show.

It got really trippy when I approached a furniture installation. A sort of yellow Submarine funhouse you'd expect to see at a Timothy Leary be-in. Patrons had to remove their shoes and socks to enter, and formed a queue around the side. There was a large entrance hole guarded by a midget Ghandi. I carefully edged around the far perimeter so no one thought I was cutting in line, I just wanted to catch the view. Well Ghandi, in a very bad-karma manner, started yelling.
"Sir I just wanted to look."
"THEN LOOK, and GO!" and he shoved his finger at the back of the line."
The people in the queue startled quiet.
I looked at him: "Sir, there is no reason for you to speak to me like that."
He shouted at me again, but his tone changed: "No problem! No Problem! LOOK... and GO!" as if his Go meant "Step Right Up!" I breathed calmly and walked away. I'd watched a kid shove his way into a shoeless installation with his roller sneakers on, so I imagined these guards had been stressed out all weekend. It was the final two days, after all.

Later on, Larry walked past a guard who barked, "NO PICTURES!" Larry had worn his camera all weekend. He assured the guard he had no intention of taking pictures. "Well I'm just telling you, NO PICTURES!"
"Does it look like I'm getting ready to take a picture?"
"Th...this is my job, man. Okay? No pictures!!'
Peace out, man.
Well, we asked for a happening and we got it. That's New York.

We spent an evening walking around the East Village, checking out the places where Andy Warhol had his crew, places that now sold sunglasses, belly button rings and bongs. There's no CBGB's any more but there is a GBGB shop where you can buy T-shirts and coffee mugs and toe socks. Like most organic social movements, The East Village has gone Consumer. Is there any organic social movement going on right now? Or is everything a redux? Even the organic movement has gone Whole Foods on us.

Dave and Heather met up with the daughter of some old friends. A lovely, young, talented woman who's working in publishing and living in the East Village. She graciously showed us her apartment complex, a sprawling building populated with 20 somethings, Men in finance and women in modeling. She took us up to the tenth floor rooftop and we admired the view. She pointed out the three-story penthouse on top of a nearby building. "That's my dream someday," She cooed. "The guy who owns that is only 35. He comes into my bar. He's very lonely." I wondered if she thought the loneliness would come with the penthouse.

Memories flooded back to me, of my first days in New York, when I thought my trajectory was upward. Yet I never wanted a three-story penthouse above a bong shop. And I never felt at home among the young, beautiful, carousing New Yorkers. Not then and not now. I started to feel lonely and that creeping nausea of envy and regret and disgust seeped into my breath. She invited us out to a wine bar, but Larry and I politely declined. We walked back to the subway; through St. Marks Place, past the toe socks and toe rings, and headed back to the comfort of the upper west side. If I had been going back alone and unmarried, I'd have been really depressed. But I was with Larry. He's never wanted a three-story penthouse over a bong shop. It's so good to be with someone who wants the things you want.

Sunday the weather turned crisp and cool. We went to church, where they sang old hymns, and the pastor spoke about real things. Not some lame self-help message with stupid anecdotes, like the place we had endured last week. He spoke about God; and in his message we found more than help, we found adoration and peace. We walked home through a street fair, ran into a celebrity couple. I smiled, they smiled back and disappeared into the crowd where no one bothered them. I love New York.

So the weekend was gone. Dave and Heather had to go back. This was hard for Larry. He and Dave have been friends for over 25 years. They're family, really. And Larry feels his most alive, as a creative man of faith with family who really know him. We both cried when they got into the cab.

But we didn't let the melancholy sit for too long. My friend Chris invited us over to his eastside apartment for barbecued steak on his back patio, which he's turned into a garden. Yes, this is the upper east side, not some garden in New Jersey.

I've known Chris a good 18 years now. Wow. That's almost as long as Larry and Dave have been friends. My friend Chris. I can probably say that over half of my accents and characters sprang from silly conversations between Chris and myself. Chris is creative, talented, a man of great faith and horribly incorrect humor. Which is why I love him.

We left Monday. Larry had one last wish to get a piece of real NY pizza. So we grabbed a last slice and headed to the airport to fly standby since our 8pm flight wasn't going to leave until 11pm. We got on the 4pm plane and watched New York disappear under our wings.

I'm already missing it.

I only had time to see two of my New York friends on this trip. It was frustrating. I didn't even get to have a cup of Dunkin Donuts Coffee! Man, it burned. It made me long to come back. the way Larry longed to see Dave again soon. SO I said, "Let's remember this longing, this burn. because it means we should do something about it."

We're back home, imagining a life in New York. Maybe just a few months: Larry freelancing or working from home in some apartment near Zabars; me doing voice overs and writing and doing my solo show. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. Larry's dreaming about it too.

Sep 17, 2007

My Angus Burger and Kazoo Commercial

Well alrighty then. Here's me on the kazoo...

Sep 10, 2007

Uke and Kazoo

I did this McDonalds commercial while back. The guy playing my husband played the uke and I buzzed away on the kazoo. On the way to the set he started playing a Beatles song and we vamped. Well that earned props in my book. He's got more. Check out Skip Stellrecht on the uke:

I got an email today asking if Skip and I would be interested in coming to a ukelele festival. Sure I'd be up for it. But a kazoo festival, now that would be wild! In the meantime, enjoy more Fab Four on the Uke

Sep 8, 2007

Cooler Days, Uneasy Night

The heat wave has broken, and Larry and I are relieved to experience an old sensation. Chill. It is definitely early fall. You can see it in the light. It always makes me feel just a bit nostalgic and melancholy.

With the break in temperature, one would think we'd have an easier time getting to sleep last night. Besides, we'd gotten our Netflix selections on time, watched "Blades of Glory," took our aspirin and got under the covers.

After a good half hour we were both still tossing and turning. Well, I turn. Larry flicks his legs.

"Are you OK?" I asked him.
"Uh yeah are you?"
"Uh, yeah." Neither of us sounded too convincing. But there was nothing to be upset about, at least not with each other. Not that I knew. Close to an hour passed and neither of us were asleep.

"Do you smell cat litter?" Larry asked me in the dark.
"No," I answered. "I smell what a cat leaves IN the litter."

Like, a turd. We turned on the lights and searched the room. Our own cat would have no reason to take a dump in our room. But ... Well last week when it was so hot, we put up a bamboo screen outside the back door so we could leave it open, have a breeze without the flies. It kept the flies out, but not the neighbor cat, Fella.

Fella's a likeable, neutered male who made friends with our homeowners. Our house used to be his playground away from home. That is, until we moved in and brought our own cat. He's been pissed off at Honey ever since, and shows up nearly every day, growling at her and expressing his frustration at the revocation of his all-access pass to the house.

On more than one occasion last week, Larry and I looked up to find him jaunting around the house. Larry saw him coming down from upstairs.

Now the insinuation of cat turd in the room made sense. Fella mus have left a protest gesture in the room. We looked everywhere and found nothing.

Larry and I went back to sleep. Or tried to.

After a while we heard a loud POP-POP ricocheting from the streets. We are at the top of the hill, and the noise from Eagle Rock and York Blvds. funnels up to our ears like a megaphone.

Pop-Pop. Not a firecracker. A gunshot.

We both sighed. We hear pop-pop more than we'd like to admit. House prices may have skyrocketed in our area, but the clientele hasn't.

I listened and waited for the sounds of sirens. They came, but not right away. I was listening to see if the sirens would stop, indicating it was closer by. But I must have drifted off. Until I was jolted back by the sound of another pop pop pops. And the pop pop pop answer. And then more.

Now we were very much awake. I wanted to cry but my body was too tired to make noise. I got up and closed the downstairs windows and locked the doors. I took a hot bath shaved the calluses off my heels.

Larry came down to find out what I was up to.
"I can feel it in the air," he said. "It's like a vibe, isn't it?"
"Yeah." It was almost palpable. "Maybe we should pray," I offered.
"Yeah," Larry answered. He went back upstairs, I finished trimming my calluses, and went back to bed. He seemed asleep and I wasn't about to wake him. So we never prayed.

I got up around 8:30 and searched local news for shootings in Eagle Rock. But they never post them. If this were San Marino or Beverly Hills, maybe. But not Highland Park or Eagle Rock.

Larry and I think more about moving. Out of LA. Especially after nights like that. Portland Oregon. That sounds good.

Sep 3, 2007

Labor Day Heat; Mervyns Apocalypto Sale

Southern California has been experiencing a record heat wave, and to me, it’s God’s way of giving us a preview of hell. Heat, despair, power outages, and everyone running to the mall for air conditioning. That was Larry' and my brilliant idea yesterday. “Let’s go to the mall, where it’ll be cool.” Only everyone else had the same idea, and the volume of bodies soaked up what A/C was happening.

The place looked like Grand Central Station. Except at Grand Central Station, the people move quickly and with purpose, because they’re New Yorkers. The mob at the Galleria shuffled aimlessly or sat on the ground propped against the store windows. The kids were tantrumy and the adults loud. How does one pull off listless AND loud? I wished I’d brought my ear plugs.

We went to see the newly opened Target, but it was on the other side of the mall: an obstacle course through noise and smell of people who do not believe in antiperspirant.

Larry was deluded into thinking Target might carry Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass CD. And I that they'd carry webcams for Macs. But no, it's a hip-hop Ashley Simpson, Windows XP world at Target.

We caromed back through Mervyns, where they were apparently having an “Apocalypto Sale.” The floor was scattered with merchandise; as if the US had suffered economic collapse and everyone had panicked for supplies. You know, survival supplies like "Pirates 3" t-shirts and lead paint toys from China and polyester tops for hookers.

We wished we’d exited the mall at Target and gone back via the street.. Who cared if it was a furnace outside? At least it was quiet.

On the way home, we stopped at the supermarket to buy comfort food, which at this point meant anything in the frozen food aisle. Ah, frozen fish sticks! Who cares if I never eat them. I can sit on them on the ride home.

The lady bagging our groceries was of limited mental capabilities, and she dumped our strawberries onto the counter.

-- What do I do now? She frowned at the checker
-- Go get another box.
--- You mean I gotta go get more?

It was not strawberry season. Leaving our replacement box to a woman of questionable IQ was not going to happen, so I said I’d go pick it out myself.

I closed in on the wilted strawberry display, I heard her disgruntled voice behind me. “I had to come back this way, anyway, lady.”
“I don’t work here,” I snapped. Like it was MY job to dispose of the ruined box?
She sighed and waddled off to the employee break room.
I’d had the last word. And boy did I feel shitty about it.

We pulled out of the parking lot, I wanted to go back and apologize. Maybe she’d been in jail and the store had given her one last chance to turn her life around. Maybe this was the only job she could do, and spilling the berries was her third strike before getting fired.

Larry and I talk about creating a world where God’s kingdom can really come: A world of justice and mercy for the oppressed. A life that's counter to greedy consumerism.

And I was NOT living that life. Yeah, it had been a hot day and we’d been assaulted by a mob of consumers at the mall. But we had gone to the mall, too. We’d been worshiping at the temple of Buy, even if we didn’t put down any money.

Later last night Larry and I read from a book about this very subject, how to bring about God's world today, now. And all I could think was, “I dissed the feeble-minded box lady. I suck."

Every generation has a new word for that kingdom come: a shining city on the hill, Utopia, Nirvana, and a brand new way to make it happen. But there's this problem: human nature. We dream big and always trip up when it comes to the everyday stuff, like being kind to the feeble or undeserving.

I pray for grace to do that in the little things. Cooler temperatures will also help.