Apr 17, 2009

Advertising Onslaught

I've made some money doing commercials, thought I can't say I ever did a beauty product. I'm not the model type. Dove launched its Campaign for Real Beauty a couple years ago, featuring normal-sized women. It was a bit of a shocker.

Dove created a video called Evolution, about beauty photography and Photoshop.

Larry found one of their videos called "Onslaught"

Gotta love it.

Apr 11, 2009

Poetry Month: As The Ruin Falls

April is National Poetry Month.

Here's a good chunk of horrifying self awareness
Before Jesus wakes up on Sunday.

As the Ruin Falls -- CS Lewis

All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you.
I never had a selfless thought since I was born.
I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through:
I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.

Peace, reassurance, pleasure, are the goals I seek,
I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin:
I talk of love – a scholar's parrot may talk Greek –
But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin.

Only that now you have taught me (but how late!) my lack
I see the chasm. And everything you are was making
My heart into a bridge by which I might get back
From exile, and grow man. And now the bridge is breaking.

For this I bless you as the ruin falls. The pains
You give me are more precious than all other gains.

Apr 10, 2009

A Poem for Good Friday

From "East Coker", FOUR QUARTETS
by T.S. Eliot

The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer's art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind of our, and Adam's curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.

The whole earth is our hospital
Endowed by the ruined millionaire,
Wherein, if we do well, we shall
Die of the absolute paternal care
That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere.

The chill ascends from feet to knees,
The fever sings in mental wires.
If to be warmed, then I must freeze
And quake in frigid purgatorial fires
Of which the flame is roses, and the smoke is briars.

The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood—
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.

Apr 9, 2009

National Poetry Month: Nostalgia

It's National Poetry Month. Today I'd love to share another Billy Collins poem.
And if you can imagine his dry deadpan Steven Wright delivery, it's even better.

Nostalgia - Billy Collins

Remember the 1340's? We were doing a dance called the Catapult.
You always wore brown, the color craze of the decade,
and I was draped in one of those capes that were popular,
the ones with unicorns and pomegranates in needlework.
Everyone would pause for beer and onions in the afternoon,
and at night we would play a game called "Find the Cow."
Everything was hand-lettered then, not like today.

Where has the summer of 1572 gone? Brocade and sonnet
marathons were the rage. We used to dress up in the flags
of rival baronies and conquer one another in cold rooms of stone.
Out on the dance floor we were all doing the Struggle
while your sister practiced the Daphne all alone in her room.
We borrowed the jargon of farriers for our slang.
These days language seems transparent a badly broken code.

The 1790's will never come again. Childhood was big.
People would take walks to the very tops of hills
and write down what they saw in their journals without speaking.
Our collars were high and our hats were extremely soft.
We would surprise each other with alphabets made of twigs.
It was a wonderful time to be alive, or even dead.

I am very fond of the period between 1815 and 1821.
Europe trembled while we sat still for our portraits.
And I would love to return to 1901 if only for a moment,
time enough to wind up a music box and do a few dance steps,
or shoot me back to 1922 or 1941, or at least let me
recapture the serenity of last month when we picked
berries and glided through afternoons in a canoe.

Even this morning would be an improvement over the present.
I was in the garden then, surrounded by the hum of bees
and the Latin names of flowers, watching the early light
flash off the slanted windows of the greenhouse
and silver the limbs on the rows of dark hemlocks.

As usual, I was thinking about the moments of the past,
letting my memory rush over them like water
rushing over the stones on the bottom of a stream.
I was even thinking a little about the future, that place
where people are doing a dance we cannot imagine,
a dance whose name we can only guess.

You can find more Billy Collins poetry at http://www.billy-collins.com/

Apr 8, 2009

Q&A with Author Don Miller

This past weekend Larry and I went to Portland, Oregon. I did a reading at Imago Dei community. Author Don Miller did a Q&A with me afterward. It was a blast! You can listen to the Q&A here.

We hung out afterward, and I finally got to meet my fellow Burnside Writers Collective writer Diane Nienhuis, who I feel liek I already know so well just from emails and skype chats. Penny came down from Seattle, Aaron drove up from Eugene, and Kathy came in from Nashville. Saturday a bunch of BWC writers and readers met for dinner -- people I've known through blogging and faith and circumstance. Larry and I felt like we were really "home:" Home with the kind of people we'd call our tribe. It was a perfect PERFECT weekend. But it was also sunny in Portland. That didn't hurt.

Life won't always be this idyllic. But when it is like this, I'll smile and say "yes please" and "thank you."

Anyway make sure to listen to the Q&A with Don Miller
Or, my radio itnerview with Canadian talk show host Drew Marshall
Or you watch my appearance on ABC's AM Northwest .

Apr 1, 2009

National Poetry Month

So April is National Poetry Month. Who knew? Maybe May is National Prose Month; and June is National Newspaper Month (Hurry, by June 2009 all hard copy newspapers will have declared bankruptcy).

I was going to start off by a poem by CS Lewis, but today is April Fools' Day. So I thought of my new favorite poet Billy Collins, who's as much Steven Wright as he is a poet. most of his poems make me giggle. So here's one I love of Billy's.

The Country
by Billy Collins

I wondered about you
when you told me never to leave
a box of wooden, strike-anywhere matches
lying around the house because the mice

might get into them and start a fire.
But your face was absolutely straight
when you twisted the lid down on the round tin
where the matches, you said, are always stowed.

Who could sleep that night?
Who could whisk away the thought
of the one unlikely mouse
padding along a cold water pipe

behind the floral wallpaper
gripping a single wooden match
between the needles of his teeth?
Who could not see him rounding a corner,

the blue tip scratching against a rough-hewn beam,
the sudden flare, and the creature
for one bright, shining moment
suddenly thrust ahead of his time -

now a fire-starter, now a torchbearer
in a forgotten ritual, little brown druid
illuminating some ancient night.
Who could fail to notice,

lit up in the blazing insulation,
the tiny looks of wonderment on the faces
of his fellow mice, onetime inhabitants
of what once was your house in the country?

Quantum Leap Convention

Last Saturday I participated in a Quantum Leap Convention. I know youre thinking 'Quantum Leap Convention? Is that like a poor man's Star Trek convention minus the costumes?

The convention commemorated the 20th anniversary of the show's launch in 1989. I was on the show twice, so I was asked to participate in a panel: talk about my experiences, answer fan questions, etc. I was there with six women and two men on the panel, all guest actors who'd appeared on the show, some of us twice. Of course no one was going to say Scott Bakula was a jerk. But that's because he wasn't. We all had the same experience on the show. I worked on some shows where the exec producer or the star was a tool, and it affected the entire mood of the set. but QL was a blast to work on ... and to a large extent because Dean Stockwell and Scott Bakula were such NICE guys. Yes there ARE great people in Hollywood.

As for the Leapies. I wasn't sure what to expect. Were they going to be aging Trekkies that couldn't afford to go to Battlestar Gallactica? Would they be stalkers? Turned out they were all really nice, grateful people from all over the world -- Germany, Scotland, Australia, Chicago, Georgia -- who spent their hard-earned vacation days to show up at the Holiday Inn in North Hollywood. For a Leapie convention.


Well, I think it's because of The Story. People want good stories. The premise of QL is that Sam Beckett (Bakula) leaps from one person to another through history (only in his own lifetime, so he can't leap back before his own birth date) and finds himself in the body of someone who needs to be rescued or can rescue someone in trouble. Thus, high stakes, issues of courage, good and evil.

I had forgotten until the convention that in one two-part episode, Beckett leaps to find himself in the body of Lee Harvey Oswald. I can't remember how they managed that story. I mean, how could Beckett hope to change history? I don't even remember, but now I want to get that episode on Netflix.

So it's because of STORY that people came. I mean you're not going to find a "Two and a Half Men" convention any time soon. Quantum Leap was a terrific show. And so were the people who came to the convention. One middle aged guy brought his college age son, who'd become a Leap Fan himself.

Actors can live in a vacuum; you show up, do your work and go home. And you don't get the immediacy of a live venue to know how your work is affecting the audience. It made me feel good to know how some little thing I did 15 years ago actually made someone's day or week.

When I was 16 I went to the Beatlefest Convention in Downtown LA. I'm sure to the outsider I looked like a freak. But well, people want good stories, we want heroes. I don't feel like such a nerd anymore.