Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pride and Falling

And I am back!

How ya been? Miss me? I missed you. Actually what I missed was the opportunity to sort through some stuff that Iv'e been thinking about. You know, Stuff... We all have it but it seems most of us just don't know what to do with it. Please, don't look to me to tell you what to do with YOUR stuff, I can barely handle mine at the moment, although God knows I am trying my hardest.

So, a quick update from here in the Heart of the South, my cold is gone, thanks to modern pharmaceuticals, sleep and a few good cigars (Yes, I believe they do serve a medicinal purpose. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!) I have a new windshield on my car, work is always there and I am constantly in a battle to do better at making sure the toy trains don't grow legs, my offspring has made me proud once again and also has managed to bring tears to my eyes at least once a day. The weather has been cool and comforting and spring is here with a summer of adventure ahead of me; not really, but it sounds good.


For you regular readers you know that about 4 weeks ago I got a tad bit perturbed in church and did something I was not proud of and I have to say I have come to terms with it these past few weeks. Almost. I say almost simply because I am questioning myself and why I do what I do at my church. You see, initially I joined my specific ministry simply because I thought it would make a difference, that I would be able to help. To reach people and help them along their temporary visitation on this mud-ball. And I believe I did help. To a point. Then, all sorts of craziness happened. Our Lead Pastor did something stupid, peoples faith in their leaders were shaken to the deepest footing in their own soul. Other leaders in my church packed up their bags and left. Rumors spread like a California wild fire. Hate, discontent, theft, lies, cheating and basic chaos ensued. It was as if our Adversary, Satan, came strolling through our hallowed and sanctified doors and decided to take up residency. Playing with the minds and emotions of anyone who had ever been a member or even thought about being a member of our church.

The ministry I was so proud to be a member of was no exception. We suffered losses. Great losses. Heck, we didn't even have enough people to do our job and man our positions. It was so bad that at one time there were just two "soldiers" and one leader, who I feel had checked out and was getting ready to leave as soon as she could find another job. But, you know, through it all me and my buddy stayed the course. We "MANNED THE WALL" and continued on our course to attempt to do what we believed was God's Will for us. We won our portion of the battle.

We won.

Now, we have new leadership. I, myself was even asked to step into a leadership role and was given a position that I had wanted but never pursued because I felt that in time God would put me where HE needed me the most. When I was informed of my new duties position I was happy and even felt a bit proud too. Almost too proud, but I don't think I was. I was happy and I enjoyed my work, I even felt that I was where I needed to be. I was now a Director, a position I had been wanting to learn and to try my talents at for a long time. The man who trained me is well known in the Radio and TV industry and is amazing in his talent and faith. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to learn from him and to observe his style and knowledge of camera operation firsthand. I also know that I am a neophyte in my own way of calling shots and directing. Sure, I can operate the expensive high definition television camera,s I know how to read a crowd, a band, follow the musical direction and even to some extent read a persons body language when they are walking across a stage giving an emotional speech on overcoming obstacles in their life and the lives of the people they have come into contact with.

But when your sitting in the Director's chair calling the shots you have to trust that your cameramen will do what you would do. I did. I trusted them. I still trust them. I KNOW they will do what I would do. How do I know this? Because they too have been through what I have been through. They know what I know and they've helped rebuild from the ashes of a once great church a new church that is built on a foundation of the strength that can only come from kicking failure in it ass. A church built on the perseverance of a faith that has been kicked in the gut from an entire heard of the horses from Hell and been bitten right through its flesh to the core of its Soul by the Hell Hounds that roam the Earth by the order of their master and do his bidding wherever and whenever he sees fit. These guys "Stayed the Course" and fought their own demons and won. I love them and respect them for that.

Now me on the other hand? That is the question you, my dear and faithful reader are asking yourself right about now aren't you? I am doing... well, let's just say I am having a crisis of placement. I am back in my ministry, sans cold. And someone else is in the Directors chair. Yup, I have been replaced. Permanently? I don't think so. Temporarily? Yup. Two weeks now and I don't like it. My pride is hurt and I know it shouldn't be. I should understand that all of us need to be trained and be able to direct on OUR production TEAM. Yet, it hurts. It hurts a LOT. I started off just wanting to help and try to make a difference but now I just want to direct. For some of you, out there, who are sitting in front of your computers and scratching your head saying"But, you are still a part of something BIGGER than yourself." I say "Your right!" But I have to add this "Could you expect General MacArthur or General Patton to simply give up their position as General to be a Private once again?" It aint easy, especially in Patton's case, that man was INCREDIBLE!!! (For those of you raised in the South, imagine how it must have felt for General Lee to sign the surrender papers.)

I don't know if I'm going to be able to handle this new role. I'm going to try. Try to accept that I am where I'm because I need to grow, I need to be penitent, I need to be humble and to keep in mind that I'm doing something most people don't get a chance to do. My pride has always been a week point for me. I accept this and I struggle with it. I don't like being questioned about things that I know about by people above me on the totem pole of Leadership. I accept that people below me don't know things and I take that opportunity to help train them and even people on the same level as me may not know all that I know and I may not know all they know.

I also feel communication is the best form of training a person and that your only as good as the information you have and that is why I am writing this tonight. I need to communicate, to let out of me what has been eating away at me in the depths of what I feel is one of my callings to service and in a way that I have rarely felt. I want to continue to serve my church and my God in a way He wants me to. I will be here and I will be struggling through my own fleshy desires in an attempt to not just become a better person but a better Christian and Christ follower.

Ok, my bleeding is done, I feel as if I have just ripped a humongous part of my soul out and bared it for all of you to see and poke with a stick. Please be gentle and kind and know that I do care deeply for each and every one of you.

PS. I have changed the "Comment" format so that anyone can now comment. I hope I did it right.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Coming Soon

Just a quick note for all of you Dear Readers that look for my new posting on Monday's. Due to circumstances beyond my control I have to delay this weeks Blog. But don't worry, I should have one up and running on Tuesday if all goes well. I have not decided what topic I shall tackle this week but I have several ideas floating around inside my head, all of which are vying for attention. Yeah, it sucks sometimes to have an operational mind but it also can be a lot of fun. So please bear with me and keep checking back.

Yours Truly,

Skip (Chief Ding-A-Ling in charge of Belly Button Lint)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Not Original

It has been a crazy week here in the heart of the South, I am still sick. I believe it is a cold and not allergies or the flu or some other crazy illness that is flying around out there trying to destroy all of mankind. Just an old fashioned cold and I must say it almost kicked my butt. Seriously, by Friday morning when I opened my eyes and stared up at the slowly rotating ceiling fan and the alien shadows that it created as they rolled across the ceiling and down the walls in a pattern that was almost pornographic in nature all I could think about was trying to set my legs down on the cool, hard wood floor and make it to the bathroom without falling flat on my face. Which I did, but I did not make it very much farther. As soon as I set my feet on the floor and tried to stand up I felt pain racing through my body like uninvited guests at an all you can eat wedding reception.

I hurt. Joints, muscles, tendons, heck even my arteries were screaming at me to stop moving and get back to bed. And for the first time in a long time I listened to my body. I stumbled my way back to bed and called in sick to work. I slept, I dreamed and I slept some more and when I awoke I read some books. Ok, I finished reading some books that I had been working on for a month or two. You see I usually read 3 or 4 books at a time simply because I hate to not have one with me. It was nice day, blissful, peaceful and it made me wish I were a millionaire so I could sleep more often and work just a little less harder.

So, where was I, oh, books. I finished several of them. Good ones too and not all of them were fiction. When those were finished I went on to some more. Actually, what I did was make my way to my car where I had another book waiting for me to blow the dust off of and devour at a pace my semi-addled mind could handle. The book is "Jakes Wake" by John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow. It is about demons and Good vs. Evil and it has all sorts of craziness in it. But, as a quick disclaimer, if you are weak of stomach I would not try to read it. Once the book was retrieved I settled in on the couch with a drink and commenced the wonderful and crazy trip into my mind and the madness of the men that wrote the book I held in my hands. As I read this tome I could picture the events of the story unfolding in my mind and it made me wonder whether or not the insane powers that be in the glittery world of movie making would ever be so bold as to take this book and turn it into a quality film.

The answer I came up with is...No. They would not ever make a quality film of this book or for that matter many of the books I have read that are now lying around my house collecting dust and just waiting to be picked back up and gone through again. Just a few moments is all they ask and they will eagerly divulge all their dirty, succulent, awful, wonderful, horrifying, brilliant secrets and lies. And for the crazies in hollywierd to actually make a quality film is not necessarily in their best interest. Usually quality films don't make a whole lot of money and books don't always translate well to the silver screen.

For example, recently I read the book, "Men Who Stare at Goats" which as some of you know was a movie last year and is now available at every video store, grocery store and street corner in America. I held off on watching the movie until I had the book read and I am happy I did so. While I enjoyed the film the book was just more "meaty". Which is what happens in most cases. Don't get me wrong, I like films and the several hours of mindless entertainment that it gives me. But, there is just something missing when I sit down and let a story unfold itself on a screen or in a box. That is where the "meat" comes from, actually the "meat" is what my mind provides for imagery, sound and all around feel of where the book takes me.

I suppose there has to be an exception or two to this rule and the films that quickly pop into my mind that were based on books would be "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy that Peter Jackson made almost a decade back. They were brilliantly done and they followed the book almost to the letter. True, some purists would say they left some characters out of the film and some scenes too but in defense of the films I must say that I don't believe they suffered at all from the omission of characters like Tom Bombadil, I don't know if I spelled his name correctly but I did not realize his absence from the film until after I had finished watching all three of them.

Ok, let's see, what have I covered and where am I going? Oh, yeah, ORIGINALITY!!!

There is none. I am serious. Look at all the films that are being put out by the film companies on the west coast. How many series of films are currently in the market? Iron Man, Halloween, Friday the 13th (Which is being REMADE), Harry Potter, Batman, Spiderman, Sex and the City and I am sure that if I went on IMDB I could find many more films that are either remakes of old films or just another 90 minute episode of an ever growing franchise that is digging ever deeper into the dumbing down of America's psyche. I know, I know, I am being cynical. I am sorry about that. Maybe I am just tainted by my youth and all the funtastical films that I got to see back then. Movies like, Star Wars (episodes 4, 5 and 6.) Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Rollerball (The Original), The Big Red One, Any of the Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Westerns!, RAMBO (the first one), all the Godfather's, The Black Hole, Halloween (Again the FIRST one), Friday the 13th (First ONE!), CONVOY (my first ever Date movie), all of the BLANK of the DEAD movies and many more.

Ok, so a few of the films I mentioned have had sequels or have become franchises but I mention them simply because they were ground breaking and influential and are even today spoke of as classic movies and are a must watch for any aspiring cinematography student. Some of those films even today have sequels in the pipeline for mass market distribution. I try to not get too wrapped up in that stuff either.

So, here is my point, I am going to try and wrap this whole mess up in one or two gluten free paragraph so I can go on about my life and post this blog for all your reading enjoyment.

Books are good and very rarely copy each other. If a person or author takes another authors idea without permission he or she will get slapped in the face by 100 starving attorneys whose only goal in life is to bleed dry anyone who opposes them and they are available to the highest bidder. Trust me, you do NOT want these guys on your butt. And their territories are ever expanding, remember all the "Sampling" that was going on in the music industry back in the 80's and 90's? These guys play for keeps and they take too kindly of mental infringement on behalf of their paying clientele. They are at times a good thing.

So, what do the people in the movie industry do when they need new ideas for films? Beats me but I can almost guarantee you they don't go down to the local book store and pick up a mass market trade paperback and sit down and read it. Then, when they are finished with the book, slap themselves in the head and say "HOLY SMOKE!!! THIS WOULD MAKE A GREAT FILM!! GET ME THE WRITER ON THE PHONE!! LET'S OPTION THIS THING!!!" Why? Cause they cant' they have other rules in place we don't know about nor do we care to know about because if you started to look into all the things these guys do to each other to even try to get a movie made you would want to slit your wrists with a rusty razor knife and then jump into the nearest boiling pot of salted water. (I'm not kidding, ask any film maker who has spent time out there on the left coast.)

Does all this mean there are no original entertaining films out there? Nope. There are plenty out there for us to have mindless hours of fun with. But, you have to search for them like you search for that dollar and twenty-five cents that you know are somewhere in the deep recessed folds of your blue jeans at 2:30 in the morning while standing in line at McDonald's hoping you can get a semi-fresh .99 cent double cheeseburger cause the munchies have kicked in and the booze is wearing off and there are 15 tweaked out homeless folks standing behind you demanding free refills on their coffee cups that they have just dug out of the dumpster out back.

Let's get back on track.

To sum things up simply:


Ok, blog done, rant somewhat over. Although I feel I may have to revisit this in the future simply because I don't feel quite purged like I have with some of my other blogs.

P.S. Be nice to each other.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Broken Crosses

I wrote this while I am sick and loaded up with anti-histamines, cough suppressant, fever reducers and allergy medicines. None of which have been prescribed by a doctor or anyone in the medical industry. Well, maybe a janitor at the local hospital. So if it runs astray and makes no sense I blame the pharmaceuticals that I have ingested over the course of the last 48 hours.

I don’t feel well. As a matter of fact for the last two days I have felt like warmed-over, half-baked, deep-fried, 12-day old rotten eggs. Seriously, that is how I feel. I am by no means in the mood to write nor am I wanting to sit down and remove any cancerous goo that may be festering inside of me at this point in my life.

But, but….but….

Something inside of me is compelling me to sit down and write. My muse? My sense of respobsibility to myself? My followers and reader? The fact that I have Willie Nelson slowly singing about life in Georgia through the computer speakers as I sit here and type away with a slow, high pitched harmonica playing longingly in the background of the song?

Maybe… Just maybe. Or, it could be that since I have been ill the past couple days and I attended a wedding yesterday at the same church I was married in 20 years, 4 months and 5 days previously has gotten my mind racing again. Thoughts of hopes, dreams, love and happiness. All of those emotions were involved yesterday as I sat at Saint Pauls Catholic Church watching two people whom I have known for over 5 years make a lifelong commitment to each other. Actually, I have known the bride longer but that is a minor fact and has no bearing on this story whatsoever.

I like Saint Paul’s Catholic Church, it is an old-school Cathedral style church with sweepeing butresses and arches that seem to have no start or finish. Fresco’s painted on the wall and preserved with a budget that could pay for my mortgage in a single year, the stations of the cross scattered throught the church and carved with such care and precission that you can see the actual tears on Jesus’s face and the scars on his body. Stained glass windows that are almost 2 stories high and when you look at them directly overwhelm your eyes with a blaze of color and somber reflection that you nearly want to break down and cry because of the beauty that is invading your mind, body and soul.

The floors are solid marble and have been shined to such a high gloss that you feel sorry for the women who are walking around in high heels and skirts and are afraid they might slip and fall with their skirt ending up around their head. The pews are solid wood with no cushions and they even have the kneel bars that flip down at your feet. The High Alter is solid marble too and it is HUGE! The whole place just screams with religion, worship and the presence of God. It was quite a treat to revisit it and it made me think about why I had left the place years ago. So, while everyone in the place was watching the wedding party march down the main aisle and murmurs of who was wearing what clothes and why so and so was sitting on the groom’s side or what happened at work with fellow co-workers I was making mental notes of why I had left this place so many years ago.

Do you want to know? Are you sure? You do know you can stop reading right here, right now. Just click to another page on the internet and you won’t have to worry or even think about it ever again. Me? I am gonna continue. You? Do what you will. Oh, and if your Catholic this by no means is a aspersion on you or your faith. These are simply MY reasons.

Reasons I left the Catholic Church and Saint Pauls.

1. I was tired of the routine of the Mass.

2. I did not like that they got rid of Father Disney and then Father Naro.

3. I did not like the Priest they replaced the aforementioned Priests.

4. I was tired of not feeling as if I were growing spiritually.

5. I always felt bad about not being able to feel connected spiritually with God.

Now, by no means are those in order of importance or is this list complete. I know there are other reasons/excuses I left that Church and you know, I sometimes think about going back. I know the current Priests there and they are very nice guys. I enjoy speaking with them and seeing them around town and I do enjoy their manner of speaking about their faith and their own personal walk on this ball of mud.

I also know that while I have entertained thoughts of going back to my Catholic roots I most likely wont. I just have a hard time with some of the Dogma and method of teaching. I am an old-school man with a modern outlook on religion. I am an enigma in my faith but I am by no means alone. I am at a church now that is filled with people like me. Albiet not all of them come from Catholic roots. We have Episcopallian, Babtist, Lutherans, Pentacostals and even some lapsed Athiests.

I am “Plugged-In” at my current church and I am happy there. I even enjoy some of the people some of the time. But, that being said, I do know attending Church is not about me. It is not about you, it is not about some guy in Italy who just woke up from a 3 day bender and feels the need to get right with God. Nope, it is about God and his relationship with us. I am just now really coming to that realization. That even though We as humans meandering around here on the mud ball are brought up with a Theistic sense of religion we sometimes stray and falter and even second guess what we are taught. We doubt, we blame, we deny. We find any excuse to not do what we should do. What we have been taught to do.

Most of us when we get married plan and plan and plan about how every second of our wedding day, our FIRST DAY, is going to go. (Ok, mostly the women do all the planning. As men, heck, if we manage to show up sober it is a minor miracle and proof of God’s existance.)But how much planning do we put into day 10 or day 100 or even Day 2,549? (That’s a rhetorical question follks) We don’t think about those days. If we manage to even think past our paydays at the early stages of marriage we are fortunate. (In some cases 20 years go by and you can’t even think PAST pay day.)

So today, for the day after my friends wedding and while they are most likely sitting in front of a roaring fireplace at the Biltmore Estates I just have one final thing to say.

Congratulations and Good Luck you to silly kids. I love you and I pray for the best in your lives and may all your children be strapping young men!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Spring Break and Homework.

Spring has sprung here at Safe Harbor in the heart of the South. How do I know this? Simple. It is 71 degrees, the sun is shining the sparrows are twittering in the streets after french fries that have been tossed recklessly from a passing cars window by a teenager gulping down a Double-Mega-Jumbo-Burger and lighting a cigarette while the cars stereo is pumping some God-forsaken pop music about rings and fingers through the speakers. I see Japanese blackbirds sitting on the telephone wires doing some archaic, nee prehistoric mating ritual. The trees are starting to bloom, the pollen count is at an all time evil high and I hear the dulcet tones of lawn-mowers and weed-wackers fighting off the invading hoards of dandelions, weeds, grass, moss, ferns and other such minions in the flora and foliage army of nature.

Neighbors whom I have not seen in months except in passing are now sitting on their own porches with others in their brood frowning at me as I smoke my "Ewwww, Nasty, Smelly, STINKY CIGAR!!!" I just chuckle to myself when I hear that and you know, it does not get old at all. I chuckle, I wave, I smile and I write this blog and I listen, geese are now flying overhead and I hear the distinctive honking of one lone Goose as he tries like a General to get his flock back North to cooler and more hospitable and cooler climates.

The red-berry bushes on the side of my house are home to several types of birds that seem solely intent on devouring every berry and then finding a nice warm place in the tree above my pollen coated car and reliving themselves of all the waste in their system and turning my car from blue to green to some sort of white and black mixture of excrement that seems to be a remarkable paint and pollen remover. Hmmm, maybe I should bottle that stuff, patent it and then sell it to the Military or maybe 3M and then retire to my dream home of Snugg Harbor.

I see that I have gotten derailed and if you have followed me this far into the rabbit hole of my mind then maybe you would like to go a little further.

Spring Break is here and as I mentioned earlier the geese are headed North and not just of the avian variety. My own offspring, my Goose, is headed North to New Jersey starting tomorrow and I am excited for her and a bit nervous too. I don't recall in my own personal history that is, of being away from home a week or longer at that age. My daughter is fearless when it comes to travel and I admire that in her. She has no qualms or reservations about leaving home for a day, a week or even months on end. Maybe that is a reflection of her upbringing? That maybe, just maybe I and my spouse have not goofed up with her. Maybe she will be lucky enough to not experience the loss of trust and the pain of rejection that so many adults and children face today. That she will beat the odds of the maladjusted majority of the population of earth and be an actual member of society that will see the bright side of things and be able to open up her heart and her life to people without feeling like she is about to be used, abused, betrayed and scarred for a lifetime.

I hope so. I pray so. I believe so.

Spring is a time for renewal, a time for Love, Forgiveness and new beginnings. We all want and need second, third and fourth chances. We CRAVE them like a drowning person craves air and a hermit craves solitude, we as humans crave more chances. Heck, even in our video games we get second chances and here on earth every year we get another chance to make our lives just a little bit better and it is given as freely as the air we breath and generously as laughter from a child riding a bike. It really is a second chance to do better for ourselves and our loved ones. It is not as easy in a persons life to give another person a second chance simply because we like to hold onto our own personal pain and issues of the past. I know I do, I know there are members of my family that do and I know there are folks I work with that do. I know that you, dear reader, hang on to your pain. It's not easy to get rid of it. Always easier to hang onto it. Like bad luggage on Christmas day that was abandoned in your spare bedroom by visiting relatives. You don't want to get rid of it in case they come back one day looking for it. Which they wont. It just lies there under the bed as an ugly reminder of what they left behind for YOU!

So, where is all this going you are asking yourself? Simple, I have a homework assignment for you. It is purely optional homework but I will give you extra credit if you complete it. Ok, I wont give you extra credit but I would like to know if you complete the assignment. So here is your assignment, your homework so to speak:

  1. Find in your heart a pain that has been with you for some time that you have not let go of and just let it go.
  2. Let me know that you did it whether on here or my facebook page or through a twitter direct message or for some of you just an email
So are you ready for a renewal? I know I am and in case your wondering, Yes, I have gone through this process. A lot, and right now I am going through it again. I am struggling with some issues that concern my faith right now. Not in God but in my role in Leadership with my Church, today I was hurt, I felt insulted, betrayed and undermined in my position and authority. I did not take it well and I acted like a spoiled child who had just had his ice cream taken away by a bully. Then in the middle of the sanctuary at MY Church, where I am somewhat respected by others I flipped the BIRD! you know, THE BIRD! I am ashamed of that and I am sorry. I have been struggling with my actions and my emotions all day. I love my Church and the people there. I was foolish and immature and I hope that those who saw what I did do not hold it against me. I have also apologized to the people that I felt had hurt me. I have also forgiven them. Now, if I can just forgive myself I can start my own personal spring.

Go Love each other. Oh, and DO YOUR HOMEWORK!