Apr 18, 2011

Kickin Butt & Takin Names

I haven't figured out how to redirect this blog subscribers to my new Wordpress site. Until then I'll post there and leave a link here.

I shot a commercial for La Quinta Inn, "Kickin' Butt and Takin Names."
Here it is. Enjoy!

Mar 28, 2011

Monday Caption Please

Got a good caption for this?

Does Love or Controversy Win?

I wrote a bit about the LOVE WINS controversy. It's over on my new blog, here.

Mar 25, 2011

Guilty Dog

Boy, do dogs act like humans.  See the video here.

Mar 5, 2011


This week I had my first experience with a house fire. I learned a lot about the power of adrenaline.  I've posted it here on my new website.

Mar 4, 2011

Glee Audition

I helped my friend Todd work on his Glee audition.

Mar 2, 2011

I'm moving!

That is, my blog is moving, over to my website. It was painfully stuck in the previous century. So I got wordpress, bought a program called "Standard Theme," and done redid it.

Check it out here.

I'll probably continue to post here and duplicate it there, until I figure out all the rss stuff.  I'm still a newbie at it.


Feb 23, 2011

On Anatomy & Physiology

In keeping with yesterday's post
Here's a gorgeous poem by Dave K. Wheeler.

I still remember just how you look
naked, the pale curve of your back,
the quiet inlet where it bends
to meet the taper of your waist,
shower water wending where it will
along the architecture of your form.

There may have been studies of a form
such as yours, that begged charges look
and chart the firm geography they will
find around each smooth surface and back—
from the ankle to knee and knee to waist—
while changing, adapting as the figure bends,

saying, Note where the wrist starts, thumb ends,
and how the hip tendons each transform.
And every student might attend to your waist
but neglect the collective, assembled look
produced by the bones in your neck and back
how they form a straight line of poise and will.

Maybe what I saw when I saw you naked will
amount to what makes or breaks or bends
me. I caught your eye, and you glanced back.
You didn’t flinch or show the slightest form
of embarrassment. I remember the look—
a subtle nod and smile—you might waste

as if it were a familiar gaze, might waste
in calm, in nonchalance, in pure goodwill.
Or maybe this gaze is the way you look
into me, past the way my own body bends
to cover my soul, to hide and conform,
to be sure and have my own back—

to hold close and hold tight and hold back
like anxiety for being seen from the waist
down, naked, vulnerable, without form.
Maybe it won’t matter, and maybe it will;
but, having caught you so bared unbends
me, makes me measure, take another look

at my maudlin self—a cruel look to see my back
still bends wrong, my legs, trunk, hands—a waste
of time to contest if ever I will match your form.

On Anatomy and Physiology is from the collection 
Contingency Plans: Poems (T. S. Poetry Press, 2010)

Feb 22, 2011

Love, Sex, Marriage. All or none of the above

I just spent a lovely Valentine's Day with my husband. It was our sixth Valentine's Day together. We met in January of 2006 and were married that August. (Hey, when you've spent your entire adult life unmarried, you don't waste time dating Mr. Wrong or letting Mr. Right get away.) It's been a terrific four and a half years. We'd each spent years in counseling before we met, so I like to say that Larry came “plug-and-play.” We get along well and enjoy each other immensely. Nevertheless, we've had lots to unlearn, like selfish behaviors, weird habits, and how to enjoy the perks of marriage we'd survived without. The Nike slogan, “Just Do It,” goes a long way.

A year ago I sat down for an hour-long interview with Craig Spinks of “Recycle Your Faith.” We talked about a lot of issues, including sexuality. Craig posted a portion on Valentine's Day and titled it, “Christian Sexuality: Shut Down.” Ouch.

I grew up in a nice, polite Lutheran church that didn't discuss sex. As a single adult in a hip groovy nondenominational church, I was taught I needed to find my identity and contentment in the Lord first. Only then would He bring the right person my way. Aren't you glad this idea wasn't taught during the Black Plague? The human race would have died out. The only real directive I got was like Nancy Regan's anti-drug campaign: “just Say No.” But as Reverend Jesse Jackson famously remarked, kids also need something to say “yes” to. Christian singles need something more than 'Just Don't Do It.'

Not long ago, Jonathan Acuff, author of Stuff Christians Like, blogged that Christians have ruined sex.  (I'd inject that Satan has done the lion's share of ruination). Acuff cites four ways he believes Christians ruin sex.
1. Sometimes we teach guilt, not abstinence.
2. We have few ways to discuss it.
3. We write 10 books about lust for every one about the gift of sex.
4. We are afraid to be creative in sex

Are you uncomfortable yet? Good, I'm not alone. This isn't an easy topic to discuss. In Point 1 Acuff points out how we grow up hearing how destructive sex is outside of marriage (and boy, is it), but then don't know what to on the wedding night. “You're supposed to magically, instantly shed all your guilt and fear about sex. We're taught guilt for years and then left on the doorsteps of our marriages to figure it all out by ourselves.” That brings him to points 2, 3, and 4. It leaves one the impression that the world is having all the fun and we're left with bland, boring procreation tools.

But what has secular society have to offer? We live in a dysfunctional age, in which we are biologically ready to procreate at age 15, but the culture wants to postpone adulthood until we're nearly ready for the rest home. You know this is true if you've watched Seinfeld, Friends, or seen any of Judd Apatow's movies.

This week author Kay Hymowitz wrote in the Wall Street Journal, Where Have All The Good Men Gone? It's excerpted from her book, Manning Up. “Today, most men in their 20s hang out in a novel sort of limbo, a hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance. This 'pre-adulthood' has much to recommend it. But it's time to state what has become obvious to legions of frustrated young women: It doesn't bring out the best in men.”

Well it certainly doesn't encourage the character Christians want to teach the next generation. Why grow up, the article asks, when young men have a Play Station, sports bars, and “lad magazines like Maxim, which makes Playboy look like Camus?”

Man, am I glad I got out of the dating circuit. Back in 2005 my roommate and I held a series of dinner parties for the singles we knew, in hopes that some might pair off and end up walking down the aisle. Over and over I observed a series of men, unable to make a move to ask a woman out. As frustrating as it was, I can't put all the blame on the guys. If it's true that men reach their sexual peak in their teens (and women in their thirties, oh the irony!), perhaps the motivation to get hitched is dead by forty. I also think that Christian men, in an effort to not do the wrong thing, do nothing at all. The church teaches them to be nice and tame. I also know that many men become addicted to pornography. And as the pool of remaining women shrinks, and those remaining become more desperate and shrill (I was guilty!) is it any wonder a man would be tempted to turn to pornography over a scary spinster?

This brings me to the article the Huffington Post ran on Valentine's Day: Why You're Not Married, by Tracy Macmillan, a TV writer with credits on Mad Men and The United States of Tara. Macmillan writes to secular women, giving six brutally funny reasons that are impossible to dismiss. I know, I was guilty of most of them!

1. You're a bitch. Meaning, you're angry. It scares men off.
Don't rant about politics. Least of all don't rant about men not being men

2. You're shallow. Ladies, are you looking for someone who loves Jesus, and has a six pack? Listen to the writer on Mad Men. “The only thing that really matters is character.” When I met Larry he wore his hair long. He thought it made him look young and artsy; I thought it made him look old and white trash truckery. He eventually cut it praise God. But I'll tell you, one day he looks like a frog and another day he looks like a prince, and it has less to do with Larry's grooming than with my mood.

One last look, and then say goodbye to the John Hamm poster hanging on the wall of your emotional boudoir. If it helps, tell yourself he's got lousy character.

3. “You're a slut. Macmillan mentions the hormone Oxytocin that is released when a woman gives birth or has the big O. It bonds a mammal to its partner or child. Here is a worldly, secular writer telling us we can't have casual sex because it effs us up. "Sex And the City" is a crock. Science is catching up to the Ten Commandments. Now we know.

4. You're a Liar. Macmillan refers to the woman who's afraid to tell the guy she's ready for marriage, because it might scare him off. I was guilty of this. I hung out with a Christian guys who I thought would come to love me eventually, or secular guys I told myself would come to love Jesus eventually.  Of the first type: ladies, the eighth time he gives you a foot massage, ask him if he's interested romantically. Just think of it as fact-finding. If he says no, you say, Check, please. If he says he doesn't know, you say, Call me when you do, check please. He's not going to 'grow to love you' at some later date because you've managed to convince him. Guys decide early. Guys who can't decide are incapable of dating, or at least, of dating you. If he wants that kind of contact with a woman, he can go to massage school or hire a therapist. Forget missionary dating and Christian babysitting. They turn you into liars; and the worst is, you lie to yourself.

5. You are selfish. Macmillan says we spend too much time thinking about our thighs, our clothes, our wrinkles. This is the female counterpart to men and their Playstation. Go volunteer at the library and teach someone how to read. Go sit in on the nursery or the junior high youth group. Because ladies, your cat hasn't told you you're moody. Your husband will, either by saying it or withdrawing from you.

6. You're Not Good Enough. And by that, she means you don't think you're good enough, which is why you're looking for some guy better than you are: to make you feel better about yourself. Don't look for someone to make you feel better. Look for a person of character. Because looks and money won't cut it.

So that was the cluster of info for Valentine's Week. What do you think? Does the church need to talk about sex? Is it the church's responsibility? How much have your expectations been shaped by secular culture? Are you ready to write a book about hot Christian sex? Good, because I'm not going there.

Feb 17, 2011

Dat Brit film, Dey Done Said What?

So like I done seen "Sexy Beast" wif Ray Winstone and Ben Kingsley. SOrry Sir Ben. Yeh, so like as much as I unnastood most a whut day done said, was a bittuva stretch. If you done had trubble unnastandin dem brit cop films you gonna like this here sendup.

Feb 14, 2011

Another video for Valentine's Day

A year ago I had the pleasure to meet Craig Spinks of "Recyle Your Faith." He interviewed me on camera, and we got onto a lot of subjects. Here's a fun one for Valentine's Day: Church and Sex. Yes in the same sentence. Or maybe I should say, "Christians and Healthy Sexuality.

For Valentine's Day

Larry shared this on my wall. A great song, written by Bob Dylan, played by one of my favorite musician, Phil Keaggy!


Jan 21, 2011

Natalie Portman's Norbit Moment

Gervais wasn't the only one to be awkward at the Globes. I guess Natalie Portman's acceptance speech got kind of bizarre. (At least it wasn't mean). She's also got a movie coming out this weekend that looks a bit shallow. I hope this isn't her Norbit moment.

Jan 19, 2011

Wednesday Video

I'm teaching a sketch comedy class at Azusa Pacific University this semester. I love the class and my students are terrific. They had to bring in a clip of a comedy sketch and explain why they liked it. My student Jeremy brought this in; it's a group I hadn't heard of yet, "The Whitest Kids You Know." Check out this film noir bank heist sketch.

Jan 17, 2011

What Would MLK Do?

Today our nation honors the life of Martin Luther King Jr., a Christian activist who led the civil rights movement using nonviolent means. He was assassinated for it. And though the civil rights movement continued, and though I believe that history is teleological, lately it doesn't seem to be moving toward a happy place. It's been a dark chapter in our history, as these last few weeks have highlighted.

The economy is in the toilet. Our culture has become increasingly hostile toward religion (and sometimes with good reason. Take Fred Phelps, whose church protests high-profile funerals with "God hates F-gs" posters. Sick.). Masses of dead birds fall from the sky, leagues of fish wash up on our shores, and some noted prophetess blames it on the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Her line of reasoning reads like a Monthy Python sketch. Well, she's partly right. All that dead wildlife is a sign from the Almighty: it's God's retribution for PajamaJeans.

Some psychopath guns down six people at a political gathering, including a girl who was born on September 11, 2001. She was only 9 and was already interested in civic life. I imagine her parents told her every year on her birthday, “You are a miracle born out of despair. Someday you can make a difference.” And now she's gone like MLK. FoxNews tried to paint the insane shooter as a leftist; the Left tried to blame it on Sarah Palin. Of course neither side is directly responsible. But to deny that all this public venom has NO effect on us, is like saying that internet porn has no effect on intimacy, or violent video games on youth. Or that sex doesn't lead to dancing.

A few measured commentators agreed, we need to take it down a notch. Well one man tried to do something about it. Back in 2009 Mark DeMoss, a Republican and prominent evangelical Christian, was alarmed at the increasingly vicious tone in American politics. He founded The Civility Project. He wrote a pledge, sent 585 letters to every governor and sitting member of congress, and asked them to sign it. The Pledge was simple:

  • I will be civil in my public discourse and behavior.
  • I will be respectful of others whether or not I agree with them.
  • I will stand against incivility when I see it.

He received only three signatures. Three out of our 585 elected officials agreed to abide by the pledge. Last week DeMoss pulled the plug on the project.

So much for the politicians. What about the pundits? Just once I'd love one of them to listen to his opponent and reply, “I don't agree but I respect your opinion.” Or go really crazy with, “That's a good point. I'm going to think about that for a while, and maybe it will change how I look at the issue.”

Which political personality is going to be the first to dial it down: Keith Olberman? Glenn Beck? Not as long as they keep getting great ratings. Why do they have great ratings? Because we watch them. Why do we watch them? Well, maybe they scratch that sinful itch to point the finger at someone else. “It was Eve; she gave me the apple.”

When I say “we,” I'm referring to our society as a whole. But we Christians are part of our society, so some of us must be contributing to those ratings. We are not putting the hateful words in their mouths, but we are encouraging them to say those things by patronizing their shows.

Do words not matter as much as actions? Jesus said in Matthew 5? "You have heard that our ancestors were told, 'You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.' But I say if you are even angry with someone you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.”

Are we taking Jesus seriously? I don't propose we disengage from public life. In What's So Amazing About Grace Philip Yancey wrote:

“Politics draws lines between people; in contrast, Jesus' love cuts across those lines and dispenses grace. That does not mean, of course, that Christians should not involve themselves in politics. It simply means that as we do so, we must not let the rules of power displace the command to love.”

On Martin Luther King Day you may not be going to a rally or a prayer vigil or a love-in, but you can do something. Practice nonviolence by choosing what you say and read and watch and hear. Turn off the TV haters and read the Sermon on the Mount. Listen to worship music rather than a radio pundit. Pray for your opponents and ask God to give you a picture of how he sees them.

And please, for the love of all that is good and precious in this world, do not buy PajamaJeans.
Buy one of Cathleen Falsani's T-Shirts instead.

Jan 11, 2011

On Siren Magazine

I did an interview with Sarah Hubbell of Siren Magazine. There's some new content on it; stuff I haven't talked about or other sites haven't deigned to publish.  Enjoy! Read it here.

Jan 10, 2011

Whip My Hair

This is Will Smith and Jada Pinkett's daughter singing. The video is inventive but the song's value is lost on me.

I had no awareness of this song until Fresh Air's "Best TV of 2010" episode last week. David Bianculli said that one of his favorite TV moments was Jimmy Fallon's entire hour with Bruce Springsteen. If you didn't see Jimmy Fallon do "Born To Run" on the Emmys, you must. Fallon may not be your favorite late-night talk show host, but he's a dead-on mimic. Here he is as Neil Young, with Bruuuuuce, covering the ridiculous song.

Jan 7, 2011

A Second Chance: Ted Williams' Golden Voice

The most uplifting, encouraging moment in viral video history. Move over Antoine Dodson.

Jan 6, 2011

A New Year

It's a new year. I was ready for 2010 to be over.

It has been a hard year creatively. I've had two projects on my heart I've wanted to finish this past year. I am almost finished with one: a book proposal. But the second, my solo show, sits on the back burner, always pushed aside as I dealt with the “tyranny of the urgent:” bills to pay, auditions to run off to, tours and shows and teaching and taxes. I got to shoot a low budget movie and was on the road for a month. IT was a terrific experience. I pray the movie goes somewhere. But I know better than to expect some event to resurrect my career. Not at this point. If anything will, it will be that solo show or another book.

It was a hard year on Larry and me, individually and as a couple. I taught two classes that brought me home late at night.  I got to sleep late, he goes to sleep early. I was on the road a lot. I was gone for a full two months last year, but this time I was in and out of town. It was almost more difficult to do the "here and gone again" thing for two months. Plus, I was teaching and trying to act like an actor.

The longer I am married, the more I realize what a rat I am: I witness my shortcomings as a human being and it is not pretty.  Larry and I get along very well. He is my absolute best friend.  But my first impulse is not love but selfishness. Marriage is grandest adventure you may ever take. But it is not a boat cruise. It is work. It works on your soul. I thank God my soul is getting a work-out. I need it.

It was a hard year for Larry. He worked harder than he ever has. He hates corporate politicking, and he got a load of it this year.  It was hard to see him that overworked, under-appreciated and driven nearly to a breakdown.  Larry's got a quiet, even-tempered strength, I lull myself into thinking he couldn't crack. But he nearly did this past December.

My mom continues to decline from her vascular dementia. She lives in a rest home in Colorado, so I don't get to see her often. Every time I do visit her, I mentally prepare myself that it could be the last time. I spoke to her on Christmas. She cried. She always cries when I talk to her on the phone. I feel touched and slightly embarrassed at her emotion. After all, it's just me calling to say hello. I always assure her I will see her soon. And when I do see her, she cries upon setting eyes on me.

Why is she so emotional? Well, she was often like that before her strokes. But now all of her adult reasoning has been zapped away, and she is just like a child: a child who feels love and loss immediately and fully. There's no adult psyche to tell her it's not necessary to cry when your daughter calls or visits. She just cries. She's just pure emotion. The strokes took away her internal editor. And all that is left is her unrestrained self. And her unrestrained self is lovely. I think she started out good, but all those years of pressing her face into God and prayer in the face of sorrow, have burned off anything less than her true self.

And now she feels love and loss and beauty and unabated wonder. You tell her something she should know and she hears it for the first time. My father was not an easy person to live with or love. At our last visit I asked her if she missed Dad.
“Not really," she shrugged.
I nodded.
Where is he?” she asked.
“He died.” Her mouth shaped a silent O and her eyes flooded with tears.
“But it's okay Mom. He's with Jesus now."
“Oh,” she exhaled and dabbed her eyes. “That's so good to know!”

I miss her. I miss the old her, too. I mourn the fact that Larry never got to meet her as she used to be, with all her faculties. But she's disappeared in such small increments, I have come to expect meeting her just as she is and enjoying her that way.  And however I can connect with her when I see her, I am grateful for it.  I know the day is coming she will leave us. But I don't like to think about it.

I miss Honey, my dear cat of 14 years whom I lost this past July. I cried solidly for a month. Some nights I got up and went into the other room just to cry in my soundproofed Voice-over booth. I have her pictures posted in strategic places in the house, and my sister-in-law made a beautiful collage of her photos that I keep in my office. I look at them momentarily.  I'll pass them when I walk out the back door or look to the left of my desk. But if I look long enough, I will see her face and remember what it was like when she rested that face on my forearm as I was typing.

I still find memories of her around the house. I moved a shelf in the pantry yesterday and swept behind it and found some of her hair.  If you have ever owned a cat you know they like to “mark” objects with their scent: doorways, corners, fridges, anything to claim as their own. Over time a gray waxy mark appears. I noticed a mark on the fridge at her height. It's been there all the time. I almost didn't wash it off. As unappealing as it sounds: a gray waxy mark on your fridge, I was reluctant to remove one last trace of her presence. But I did.  I already regret it.

We adopted a second dog. Herbie sweet and full of nervous energy and doesn't have a malevolent bone in his body. But I miss Honey. I think about getting a cat. I sometimes look at the cats on Petfinder.com. I can't help but doing a search for Honey's breed: dilute tortoise shell. But I look at every cat and compare them to her, and they're always found wanting: the face is too long or the markings aren't as beautiful. On one occasion I noticed a thumbnail of cat that looked very much like her. I clicked on the details and a larger picture and was brokenhearted. Because it wasn't her.

I make no apology for loving a cat: a creature that could never return that same love with the same intelligence that I loved her with. After all, God has managed to love me in my small-mindedness and my inability to return his love in the same measure. A God who repeatedly loves me when I am so closed and brittle and small of heart.

In 2011 I plan on completing those two projects close to my heart. I also plan on loving my husband more. I want to get another cat. Maybe. But not this year. It's still too soon.

PS: I wrote the above at 2:30 in the morning. I would say, "forgive my maudlin display," but well, I need to work on being more maudlin and less "together."