Friday, August 26, 2011

Farewell, Dad


My father, Earnest Lee Carmon, aged 79 and having just celebrated his 26 year wedding anniversary with his second wife Brenda yesterday, passed away this morning in Spokane, WA.

His ashes will be sent to me and I will journey to the grave of my mother, his first wife, Norma, to re-unite them and lay his remains to rest at her side.

Your love, prayers & support as I celebrate his life and grieve this immediate loss of his presence will be much appreciated.

He was a big ol' bear of a man who feared God and loved his family.


peace
justice



p.s. If you HAVE ALREADY seen Tron: Legacy, please watch this moving clip from the very end. It is a beautiful piece about fathers and sons and their love and the opposition that tries to stop them from connecting. Link: http://youtu.be/zD8v-goYl0E

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wizardly Worlds, Pros & Cons...


I went Saturday to Wizard World Comic Con in Chicago. Parking ALONE in a hotel about half a mile away was $19.00 - ouch!

But I needed to get my geek fix, though I suspected God had some other plans as well.

I FINALLY Jack Herman, co-author of my favorite RPG of all time, Villains and Vigilantes and shook his hand. We geeked on what movies were good and what scenes we loved and I got to show him my portfolio for ANY art in the next edition of V&V. He signed my old adventures modules too - stuff that I have had for 30 years -GEEK!

I met Peter S. Beagle of The Last Unicorn fame - and he told me about his meeting with Jeff Bridges "a nice young man" - and how impressed he'd been with Loyd Bridges, his father, because of a emotional LIVE TV performance that was scandalous since, in character, Lloyd had actually cursed at the 'raging mob' in a Playhouse performance. [Got a bit too 'in character' as it were.]

I also met a dear Christian brother who working hard with Walter Koenig [ST:TOS's Chekov!] on a new comic called "Things to Come"! He had helped with the creation of Fiefdom of Angels and so I shared with him my story and vision for my novel about intergalactic knights, etc. We may be collaborating, but even if not, it was SO good to see him!

Are you getting tired of my exclamation marks?! It's the super-dialogue in me! ;)

I also got to meet Patrick Gleason and get him to sign my hard copies of Green Lantern Corps and thank him for an old blog comment. I kvetched about the design on the GL movie, but he liked my one remark: "Oa looked like Detroit after 500 years!....ehr...sorry..." "No, no - you're good. I'll remember that one!" [I apologized because sometimes we forget as Fans Who Have Opinions that these guys ARE working professionals who are trying to make a living.]

They have to follow directives and do things they may not like; and Patrick may very well have been friends or on a working basis with the art director - or may have just met the guy and liked him. I was unhappy with the movie's art direction and opened my mouth.

Not a wise idea.

Not if you want to serve, to help others.

You see a Pro wants to serve others; a Con wants to take. Take your time, your money, your efforts but in the end, produce nothing.

Pros are gracious. Cons are not. Do you see how I am slightly redefining these from abstractions into identities? "Pro" means you are FOR something, i.e. Pro-Life. CON means you are AGAINST something - and it is so negative, even in our common slang, we change stances to STAY on the "Pro" side. So someone for an abortion will not say they are "Con-Life", but "Pro-Choice."

I can only say in respect that God makes choices too. And He has, in the past, indeed chosen to use unwanted pregnancies to save other lives and change the world. Abortion is death; adoption is life. I will say no more.

As for becoming a Pro in the Comic Book SF/Fantasy field, I have come to realize it is about giving away your time and your energy working diligently to bring to life to imaginary worlds.

I met Bill Sienkiewicz, he of Electra Assassin fame and much more. Funny thing is, I REALLY liked him - though some of his work I did not think 'worked' in storytelling, he is truly a very radical and ground-breaking artist. I asked if I could get a picture, and he smiled, obviously having a grand time - and I had to say as others backed away for my shot, "Let me get a picture of a good-looking man!" Bill grinned big. "Bill, tell me if one shows up later, O.K.?"

His grin turned into laughter as his ear processed past the constant din of the crowd. "I got that! That was good!"

Then I met Larry Elmore and man, we chatted like two old Southern boys who remember the days of outhouses.

Now, my DAD was the one who instilled in me the harsh realities of being a Kentucky farmboy, and rural living, so THAT was my touchstone with Larry, not my own personal experience, mind you.

But Larry Elmore has been there and done that.

He told me stories about drawing with ONE pencil by candles that were in paper sacks [like Xmas luminaries] until the pencil was no more. He told me about sitting on the front porch and listening to folk stories and ghost stories out in the Kentucky woods before electricity had gotten within miles of his home. Or running water.

Dang, he'd LIVED almost a medieval life! "You can still see a lot of references in my work to those days," he said. I sure could, from log cabins to oil lamps!

But it was in such conditions he learned to create and imagine - and he could make and shape a world with a piece of charcoal from a fireplace because of it.

"That type of imagination is missing today from this generation," he lamented. He wasn't saying the kids had NO imagination, but we had made it commercialized and packaged and marketed - and it did not HAVE to be. I had to agree.

What a gentleman! I could have listened to him for hours. And all started because I said "Larry, I remember your first work - an ad for DragonLance in which you had PERFECTLY captured a winter sky. Man -it put me in that world!"

He understood. He loved doing that -bringing worlds to life. His joy showed in his craft.

And that's what a Pro does, folks. They can take you to a world that exists on in the mind and heart and make you want to stay there.

If we are to create, let's be Pros.

There are enough critics for all the Cons in the world.

Amen.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Superman, by Cavill and created by ????

I remember seeing Henry Cavill in The Count of Monte Cristo as the young Albert Mondego. Great movie with Guy Pierce being his evil foster dad [unbeknownst to him] and Jim Caviezal as the Count [ the former Edmond Dantes who was utterly betrayed by his friend and shipmates].

Good looking kid. Now a good looking man. I think he'll do well, if the script is worth a plug nickel.

Cool pic, huh?

Sort of sad though. The reason they are working so hard on this film is because of some litiginous mess created by the families of Shuster and Siegel keeping the rights to the very very FIRST presentation of Superman and Warner Bros. owning all the rights to what was developed over the years.

Long story short: it'd be like owning the rights to the pilot episode of a TV series, but none of the characters or developments that happened later.

And you KNOW how much changes over the years, but some of the essentials remain?

So frankly, Superman as we know him will probably be changed only in certain ways - like kiss the red trunks good-bye and maybe lose the spit curl. Maybe lose even the blue body suit??!

But Shuster and Siegel's original creation could not fly, only "leap tall buildings in a single bound."

So he still can fly - legally. And to keep this and other rights, the studio had to get out a Superman film ASAP.

The reason this is depressing is not that the families of the creators want their rights, but rather they never were paid PROPERLY in kind for the amazing contribution of their forefathers and so they are suing. Essentially, for "back pay."

[Edit: according to Wikipedia, they got some from other arenas - Like the TV show Smallville for instance.
A July 9, 2009, verdict on the case denied a claim by Siegel's family that it was owed licensing fees. U.S. District Court judge Stephen G. Larson said Warner Bros. and DC Comics have fulfilled their obligations to the Siegels under a profit-sharing agreement for the 2006 movie Superman Returns and the CW series Smallville. However, the court also ruled that if Warner Bros. does not start a new Superman film by 2011, the family will have the right to sue to recover damages.
Now, this is tricky, because I am certainly for creator's rights - and right now ANOTHER comic related property, my favorite RPG is in litigation to see who owns the right to publish it.

But I am not in favor of non-creative control. And if Warner Bros / DC Comics dodges this "right" by making some minor cosmetic changes to the character we know and love, and keeps making millions, the Siegel and Shuster families did nothing but screw around with the character and waste everyone's time. They are not going to get the money they want.

They aren't going to get anything but a 'right' that ends up being useless. Superman has had his origin re-told and so MUCH was added to the mythos AFTER that initial page of origin, almost nothing will be impacted.

Well, we can only hope.

Shall We Create What We Can Lose?
See there is a weird thing in creating something. You create - but you must have an impetus to do so. And someone to take you further. You spark an idea - but if you don't carry the ball, you tend to see others run with it.

It is humbling to realize that letting go of creative control MAY be the best thing for your creation, but the downside is others may profit more than you ever will.

It's a dangerous marriage, contracts and creativity; too much control and your creation may die.

Too little control, and you may lose your creation to some greedy jerk.

Great Creations that Owe More to Those Who Came After
Bob Kane created Batman, right?
He created the one with purple gloves and a gun, bunky. Originally, he was red with a domino mask. We owe writer Bob Finger a LOT - like the COOL Batman with a cowl. Like Robin, the Batmobile, the Batcave, Gotham City, the Joker, Two-Face, etc. Need I go on?

Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek, right?
Yeah - with the monotone uniforms and NO Klingons. Compare the first pilot and ST:TMP and you will see Gene wasn't really that good at drama. His idea of the future was too idyllic. We owe Gene Coon a LOT. The Prime Directive, Starfleet Command, Klingons, etc.

You see, when you have a REALLY good idea, others WANT to join in, pitch in & help and if you are humble enough and wise enough, you let them. You listen hard. You say "That will work!" as often as you can. Why?

Because your Good Idea needs others to live. By all means, keep control by Leading the Way, but not by micro-management. Stay in the mix and be diplomatic, learn to play well with others. Stan Lee knew how to do it, even though he became simply the High King of Marvel Comics, not involved in day to day business affairs.

Otherwise you can sit with your Great Idea alone in the "My Way or The High-way" box you made.

And if you owe your success to someone with a Great Idea, you had better keep them on good terms. If they want $$ - not $$$$$$$$$$ - but if it is something reasonable, give it to them.

You won't be keeping that cash anyway. 'Cause lawyers and judges do not create; they dissect.

And a beautiful idea dissected is a bloody mess.

This blog is as much to me as to anyone out there - 'cause I'm trying to create a TV series with a bud. I need his input and encouragement with my idea. As long as my name is in the credits and I get paid $$, I think I will be happy. I need to write a lot of episodes to keep my vision alive. But if I wear more than just the "IDEA" hat and work hard on it, I think I will have served not just my family but humanity - and the Creator of All Good Things.

Let us all Create and keep the Edits to a minimum, OK?

And pay your opponent instead of your lawyers.

It is cheaper.

You betcha.


peace
justice

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Evangelical Batman - Sir Rev. Dr. John Stott - Dies at 90

Just found out. Was so busy attending a wedding last weekend, I missed the news.

Lifelong celibate, Anglican minister and author of over 50 books, he was knighted in 2007. He lived a life that made Billy Graham look like Hugh Heffner.

I mean, this saint was disciplined - VERY disciplined. You knew PRECISELY where he placed his hope.

Wow.

For geeks, I can clarify: if Batman became a minister of the gospel, he'd be John Stott.

Here's the NY Times article [props to Org for link]:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/28/world/europe/28stott.html?pagewanted=all

__________________________________________________________

Rev. John Stott, Major Evangelical Figure, Dies at 90
By WOLFGANG SAXON
Published: July 27, 2011

The Rev. John Stott, one of the world’s most influential figures in the spread of evangelical Christianity over the past half-century, died Wednesday in Lingfield, Surrey, in the south of England. He was 90.

His death was confirmed by Suanne Camfield, a spokeswoman for his publisher, InterVarsity Press.

The religion scholar Michael Cromartie once said that if evangelicals could elect a pope, they would be likely to choose Mr. Stott. Though less known in the United States and hardly a household name outside the evangelical sphere, Mr. Stott, an author, preacher and theologian, was often compared to the Rev. Billy Graham, his American contemporary.

But while Mr. Graham’s influence is rooted in a rousing preaching style and a personal magnetism that has filled stadiums, Mr. Stott’s relied on a proliferation of books — grounded in learning but accessible to all — and the evangelical organization he founded, Langham Partnership International, named after its cradle, All Souls Church at Langham Place in London’s West End.

“We must be global Christians,” he once wrote, “with a global mission, because our God is a global God.”

Beginning at the college campus level and branching out country by country, the Langham Partnership (known as the John Stott Ministries in the United States) grew into an organization comprising 5 national and 10 regional nondenominational movements.

Before then, through the Anglican Church, Mr. Stott had led a revival of evangelical Christianity in Britain, exhorting Britons to find personal salvation by repenting sin and accepting Jesus as their savior.

But he also demanded that evangelicals look beyond liturgy and Christian tradition and remain engaged in worldly matters — “to take more responsible attitudes toward economics, the arts, politics and culture in general,” as Mark A. Noll, a University of Notre Dame professor and scholar of the movement, said in an interview in 2007.

“And perhaps most importantly,” Professor Noll added, Mr. Stott became “a patron, mentor, friend and encourager of thousands of pastors, students and laypeople from the newer Christian parts of the world.” He became a bridge, Professor Noll said, “between the West and the rising Christian world.”

Mr. Stott was dedicated to helping the poor in developing countries, what he termed the Majority World. Using royalties from his books, he set up trusts to help gifted students from the developing world earn doctorates abroad and then return to their native countries to teach in theological seminaries.

How He Lived [emph. by J.C.]
For all his fame on several continents, Mr. Stott’s travels and appearances were remarkably devoid of pomp, befitting his simple message of reason and faith and his unassuming demeanor. Those in his ministries knew him simply as Uncle John. In his later years, he lived in a two-room apartment over the garage of a London rectory, and for many years he kept a small cottage on the Welsh coast, where he did much of his prodigious writing in longhand and, until 2001, without electricity.

“Pride is without doubt the greatest temptation of Christian leaders,” Mr. Stott said in 2006 during a visit to the United States. “And I’m very well aware of the dangers of being feted and don’t enjoy it and don’t think one should enjoy it.”

Believing the college campus to be the most effective pulpit from which to preach, he frequently led weeklong evangelist meetings at universities in Australia, Asia, Africa, North America and elsewhere around the world. One event drew as many as 18,000 students. Until 2003 he was an active vice president of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students.

“I declare myself an impenitent believer in the power of preaching,” he told an evangelical group in New York in 2006, by then a frail and stooped figure walking with a cane. “The pew cannot rise higher than the pulpit.”

Mr. Stott, a leading evangelical theologian, was regarded as the framer of the Lausanne Covenant, a declaration of the movement’s beliefs and global aspirations. Drafted in Switzerland in 1974 at an international evangelical congress, it is regarded as a 20th-century milestone of evangelicalism.

Mr. Stott was the author of about 50 books published in 65 languages. Among his best known are “Basic Christianity” (1958), “Christ the Controversialist” (1970) and “The Cross of Christ” (1986).

“Basic Christianity” alone has been translated into more than 60 languages and has sold more than 2.5 million copies, according to the John Stott Ministries, which said his books have sold more than eight million copies worldwide. His last book — he himself described it as such — was “The Radical Disciple: Some Neglected Aspects of Our Calling,” published in 2010.

“To read Stott is to see someone practicing ‘thoughtful allegiance’ to Scripture,” David Brooks wrote in The New York Times in an admiring column in 2004 titled, “Who Is John Stott?”

“For him, Christianity means probing the mysteries of Christ. He is always exploring paradoxes. Jesus teaches humility, so why does he talk about himself so much? What does it mean to gain power through weakness, or freedom through obedience? In many cases the truth is not found in the middle of apparent opposites, but on both extremes simultaneously.”

The books have become staples of evangelicalism, said David Neff, editor of the evangelical publication Christianity Today. “Almost anyone who is a leader in American evangelicalism has read those books and been shaped by them.”

John Robert Walmsley Stott was born in London on April 27, 1921, the youngest of three children of Sir Arnold W. Stott, a prominent physician and an agnostic, and his wife, Emily, a Lutheran who attended All Souls. His older sisters died before him. A lifelong celibate, he left no immediate survivors.

The young Mr. Stott originally intended to train for the diplomatic service, but influenced by the Christian Gospel, he changed plans while still in preparatory school, determined to enter the Anglican Church.

He graduated from Trinity College at Cambridge in 1943; transferred to Ridley Hall Theological College, also at Cambridge; and was ordained a minister in the Church of England in 1945. He started as an assistant curate at All Souls Church. After receiving a master’s degree at Cambridge in 1947, he advanced, at the age of 29, to rector of the church in 1950. When he turned rector emeritus in 1975, he moved from the rectory to a modest apartment over its garage.

The British government acknowledged his contributions in 2006 by naming him a Commander of the British Empire. He was appointed a chaplain to the queen in 1959 and served in that post until he reached retirement age in 1991. In 2005, Time magazine selected him as one of the world’s “100 Most Influential People.” He retired from the public ministry in 2007.

An avid birder and bird photographer, Mr. Stott took his binoculars and cameras on all his travels and wrote a book about the many species he encountered. Titled “The Birds Our Teachers: Biblical Lessons From a Lifelong Bird-Watcher” (1999), the book is illustrated with his own photographs.

At Mr. Stott’s death at the retirement home, his friends and associates were at his bedside, reading Scriptures and listening to Handel’s "Messiah," the All Souls Church Web site said.

“The evangelical world has lost one of its greatest spokesmen,” Mr. Graham said in a statement on Wednesday, “and I have lost one of my close personal friends and advisers. I look forward to seeing him again when I go to heaven.”

Dennis Hevesi contributed reporting.

______________________________

Awesome man. "'Well done, good and faithful servant!'" said one pastor I know, echoing the words of Jesus.

I can add nothing to that.


peace
justice

Monday, August 1, 2011

Raising the Dead, Pt. 1

BTW, if you read this blog with ANY regularity, go ahead an mark yourself a Follower, OK? Gives me encouragement.

I just read four unrelated news articles, two of which personally affected people I know and care about.

First, a 'family friend' of Nancy's called with some bad news. His roommate died four days ago. We were schocked and looked up the details on the web, as it was reported. Seems a heroin dealer gave him some product - maybe for the first time - and it killed him. Here's the article and the picture of the dealer: http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20110729/news/707299848 .

Investigation is pending, but with 38 other packets, I doubt Malcolm will be coming home for Christmas - for a decade or two. Anyway, I hope he repents and realizes what he's done.

Secondly, in another drug-related tale, our favorite Mexican restaurant La Playa Cantina, in Glen Ellyn right next to Trader Joe's, has been closed. Yeah, it seems business was so bad the owner decided selling drugs was the way out. Funny thing is, I never saw it as a hopping place, but we both liked it, Nancy and I. Article here: http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20110729/news/707299876 .

That was so interesting on the Daily Herald page, that I had to investigate the double homicide listed - of a mother and a prostitute. What I read was so dark and violent and foolish and stupid and cruel I nearly threw up. Still drinking Kool-Aid and eating popcorn to ease my stomach and my nervousness. Long Story short: evil man-child goes clubbing, comes home, stoned/drunk/whatever and decides to take out anger on mom - who had him when she was 12. Yeah. Look at the ages.

Stabs her so many times and is so violent he nearly decapitates her. Decides deed is done and calls some hookers. First two call girls have no trouble, then the third sees something she shouldn't, gets concerned, calls her pimp. This gets ire of man-child who then stabs HER to death. VICIOUSLY.

Here's the article: http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20110727/news/707279868 .

After all that, I did find one POSITIVE story: The lady Senator Giffords [D.] who was so brutally shot through the head, recovered and came back to the House to vote today amid thunderous applause! Article here: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-debt-giffords-20110802,0,4910712.story

What's Your Point? Joy Takes Time
Now what makes all these disparate articles so enticing to me is that tonight I was teaching on John 11 in the DuPage County jail. About Jesus WAITING until Lazarus is dead BEFORE raising him up. How he did it so they would KNOW experientially that HE was 'the Resurrection and the Life', i.e. it wasn't just going to be some event - it was Him Who Had That Power.

In other words, Jesus Recycles!

We are the material. And because there IS a resurrection, because we have a compassionate Lord who WILL let death happen, weep painfully over it, and then go beat the snot out of it - death cannot stop Him - we can stop being crushed by this world.

Still confused? OK - why DO you need drugs? Or fat cash? Or random sex?

To feel better. To feel secure. To live As We See Fit.

But Frankly, Dear, The Consequences Suck
When we place our faith in drugs, we become drug dependent, if not simply addicted.

The drug may be illegal, like heroin or cocaine. It may be legal, like nicotine or alcohol or caffeine. But if you cannot 'be nice' unless you have 'your fix' something needs to change. It is ruling your emotions and your personality. It may kill you, too.

When we place our faith in people, if we do not receive the love or care we demand of them, we turn on them. We gossip or lie or simply write them off of our invitations. We demand what they cannot give far too often.

If sex is our god, we will pay to have it, worship/vilify those who give it/withhold it, and basically destroy ourselves to have it. From same-sex unions to simple fornication, we hear the horrors of "love" [really lust] gone bad.

But when we place our faith in the Person of Jesus Christ, we have relationship, love and fulfillment. We don't just have a 'Get Out of Hell Free' card. We have more. We own Boardwalk. We own Railroads and Utilities. Heck, we own the entire board!

You see, we all want to be happy - but Jesus Christ has the ultimate monopoly on true eternal happiness.

We don't want death; we want life. But real life can take time to arrive. There are no shortcuts. Half of our struggle with 'faith' is simply adjusting to life here and saying 'God is here and everything will be OK.'

According to John 11
Martha and Mary knew Jesus loved them and Lazarus, but "He stayed where He was three more days."

He wasn't trying to be cruel, but He had a higher calling: to make them believe and trust in Him for everything.

When we DON'T trust Jesus or our heavenly Father, you know what we do? We find some way to fill in the God-gap - and THAT ends up being poisonous to our souls.

Before you get so desperate as to either sell drugs or sell your body, do yourself a favor, OK?

Ask Jesus to help you, heal you and save you.

And if you don't know Him yet, at least sit down and ask God to show you what the truth is. Amen.

peace
justice