Dubious Prayer?

happy20sunSun that givest all things birth
Shine on everything on earth!

united_states_flag_mapIf that’s too much to demand
Shine at least on this our land!


presentation1If even that’s too much for thee
Shine at any rate on me.          ~Piet Hein

                                   Time to rethink our motives?

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The Wishing Map 42

We celebrate in public. But when we fail we go home.

Mitch Teemley

Wishing pix-Title-(framed)

Note: To read The Wishing Mapfrom the beginning, click here.

The Wishing Map

Chapter Ten: Lost… (Continued)

Previously: After being mistakenly celebrated as a great warrior princess and given a mansion to live in, Gina was exposed by blackmailers.

⇔ ⇔ ⇔

Gina rubbed Puff’s soft, drooping ears until he drifted off to sleep; he was exhausted from his first two days in the world, especially from the traumatic events of that night. She kissed him on his inflamed horn nubs, then went and found a quill and parchment. She was tempted to tour her might-have-been palace one final time, but then decided not to torture herself. The note she left beside the sleeping dragon pup simply said:


Please take care of Puff.


It wasn’t that late when she left.  But Frengan farmers went to bed early, so the main street was mercifully empty.

She made…

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Signs of the Times

signs-join-us-unless-youre-doing-something-importantJoin us, if you’re not busy doing something “more important.”


Well, yeah.


Sarcastic. But kinda, um, true.

presentation1Point taken.


This explains a lot.


If y’all see someone doin’ this…tell ’em they’re hiring at Burger King.


Now they tell us!


Accidental editorial?


Guidelines for the Zombie Apocalype.signs-things-i-hate

Oh, and one more thing…


Life is one big road with lots of signs

So when you’re riding through the ruts

Don’t complicate your mind

Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy

Don’t bury your thoughts

Put your vision to reality

Wake up and live!

~Bob Marley

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A Filmmaker’s Journal

Production photo from my new film Over-the-Rhine

My Recipe for Humble Pie

I was directing my first feature film and I thought I knew everything I needed to know. I mean, heck, I have a master’s degree in theatre and have directed too many stage productions to count; I’ve produced movies and have directed a whole passel (as opposed to, say, a mere half passel) of short films; plus, I did four years of post-graduate study in film and have taught filmmaking at three universities. So, what was there to know?

A lot.

At the end of week one (I’d love to tell you this happened long ago in a galaxy far away, but it was earlier this year) my Producer said he was hearing complaints. “But no one tells you to your face,” he explained, “because they like you and don’t want to hurt your feelings.” Hey, at least I’m a likeable loser. Oy.

So, I prayed–because God has no problem telling my things to me face–and He gave me His prize recipe for Humble Pie. Here it is:

Step One: Gather ingredients (call an urgent meeting).

Step Two: Mix ingredients (admit you’ve screwed up and ask for help).

Step Three: Bake at extreme high temperature (i.e. listen to their complaints, write down their suggestions, and earnestly thank them—they’re giving you one of the most important lessons of your life!)

Step Four: Remove from oven and allow to cool (send team home with promise to apply their suggestions).

Step Five: Serve warm, topped with a generous layer of fresh whipped humility (diligently review and apply their suggestions—over and over again)!

The Specs: The short films I’ve directed all involved my doing everything (lighting, directing, shooting, catering) with a little whatever-is-needed assistance from a couple of crew members. By contrast, my first feature film had over 30 dedicated specialists (tiny by Hollywood standards, but still substantial). Their advice at that fatal meeting:

  • Give clear, concise directions, and then trust the crew to do their jobs (lighting, camera, costuming, make-up, props, set decorating)
  • Give immediate “Yes” or “No” answers. (Do I? Well, yes and no…)
  • Don’t think out loud (how is that even possible?) It comes off as uncertainty and/or conflicting direction.
  • Don’t talk big picture (“She has this suppressed rage she got from her father when…”), talk little picture (“This is where she finds the gun”). No one can keep me from thinking big picture—that’s where I live—but I’m gradually learning when to and when not to share that picture.
  • Be specific!* Don’t say, “She’s depressed, so she drinks and wanders around,” say, “She enters through this door, pours herself a drink here, then goes and stands here.” The lighting crew doesn’t need to know why she’s drinking, they need to know where she’s drinking!
  • Affirm people: To Camera Operator: “That was the best shot yet—I love how the tilt-up landed on her face just when she started to cry!” To Costumer and Hair Dresser: “The rumpled sweater and mussed hair mirror her depression perfectly!”


    Discussing a scene with our Director of Photography, Michael Potter

I’d like to say I performed brilliantly for the remainder of the shoot. I didn’t, but I did improve. I might even have snagged a Most Improved Director award if there’d been one (of course, I was the only director). And I’ve saved the notes from my crew in a “Read This Before Filming” folder. No, I’m not a perfect director…

But when it comes to eating humble pie, I take the cake.

*Ironically, I used to get flak from actors for being “too specific” (i.e. too controlling), so I learned to include them in the process: “This is when he realizes he loves her—show me the moment that happens!” Creatives (cinematographers, productions designers, scenic artists) need some freedom too, but within parameters. Others (gaffers, grips, script supervisors) need diamond hard facts!

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Good Fruit


“If (we) hope to produce work that will bear good fruit, we must draw our life from the true source – our living Savior. He is real. He is present. But all too often we reduce him to an abstraction, giving him intellectual assent, but not our hearts.”  ~Michael O’Brien

Karl Barth, one of the great philosopher-theologians of the 20th Century, was asked after a lecture at the University of Chicago in 1962 if he could sum up his life’s work in a single sentence. “Yes,” he replied: “‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.'”grapediecut1

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The Holidays are Upon Us!

d79d8a560cdbc929f5aadc33d16061ad“Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice.” ~Dave Barry

“I bought my brother some gift-wrap. I took it to the Gift Wrap department and told them to wrap it, but in a different print so he would know when to stop unwrapping.”  ~Steven Wright

“A good holiday is one spent among people whose notions of time are vaguer than yours.”  ~J. B. Priestly

“The 3 stages of man: He believes in Santa Claus. He doesn’t believe in Santa Claus. He is Santa Claus.”  ~Rick Sutter

“When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?”  ~G. K. Chesterton

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The Law of Fairness

Life isn’t fair!  I found out when I was 5.  You?

Mitch Teemley


Why Life Isn’t Fair, Part One

For the first seven years of my life we lived in Downey, California, a suburb of L.A. Most of those years are a blur. But one memory is quite distinct: I’d reached the sagely age of five and was going to school! Which was neato. But what was even neato-er was that I would finally get to cross the street by myself! I still remember the delicious terror of crossing for the first time. I’d been warned that if I attempted to cross a street alone, cars—hundreds of them—would swoop down and kill me. Over and over again. And yet, here I was crossing the street, and not being killed even once. Then I had an epiphany:

Cars only kill you if you cross the street without permission!

This was the moment I first realized that there was aLaw of Fairness.No one…

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