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May 2007 Archives

May 4, 2007

Woof Tickets

Okay, here’s where we’re at with my neighbor’s dog:
There’s mostly good news, not the least of which is the dog himself has matured somewhat beyond the puppy stage, which doesn’t really mean he barks less, per se, but that the episodes do not last quite as long. What I mean is, when he first got here, he’s see another dog pass by and woof at him. Now, your average dog will woof for awhile and stop. Not my friend. 20 to 40 minutes later (I once clocked him, no kidding, at over 70 minutes) he’s still complaining about this passing dog, who was, by then, long gone. Cody does that far less frequently now. He’ll usually shut up after five to ten minutes, only railing on on those rare occasions.

Another neighbor, tiring of our childish bickering, called the dog’s owner (who is offended by my referring to him as Dog Man, and for winch I apologize as he now reads this blog; I meant no insult by “Dog Man,” other than, literally, shorthand for “The Man Who Owns The Dog”) and I to a summit where this neighbor negotiated a peace treaty between us. I made the guy what I considered the ultimate deal: if he would keep his dog quiet—not inside, I never asked him to keep the dog inside, just keep him quiet—on my two days off (Saturday and Monday), then he could do whatever he wanted for the other five days of the week.

Five days for two, I thought was a god deal. And, for many months, it was. If I was going out on those days, I’d call my neighbor and tell him he didn’t need to keep the dog inside that day since I wouldn’t be home anyway. We did the courtesy call thing and time management thing, and life was good. Then, over the course of some months, little by little, the armistice began to splinter.

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May 5, 2007

Well-Known Crackpot

I did a Google search for something or another and turned up a message board comment referring to me as, “Well-known crackpot Christopher Priest said thus and so…” Crackpot? *scratches head* When did I become a crackpot? I wasn’t so much insulted as I was puzzled. I mean, of all the insults to hurl at me, “crackpot”? I did snicker, though: at least I was “well-known.”

Well, every place except here. Here, I am a piano player. I am a minister. That’s all these folks really know about me. I gave copies of my Green Lantern novel to my neighbors, they still don’t get what I do. All of which actually works for me, except that, now with a local ministry developing an independent film, they’ve pursued me to work with them on the film while, at the same time, not treating me as a professional. It’s a little hard to explain, but, it’s like, I’d do a first draft of the screenplay for little or nothing. Then when financing started to come in, the group looked to Hollywood and New York for a “real” writer, offering him $25k to do a re-write of my screenplay, for which I’d charged them less than one-fifth of that rate to do. And, I wondered, is this fellow they were talking to was five times better a writer than me. Or if his re-write, a couple weeks’ work, would be five times as good. Or five times as fast.

It just occurred to me that these folks, these wonderful, great church folks whom I love like family, just have no idea that I am, in fact, a professional writer. I’ve also discovered that slashing your rate to the moral equivalent of five bucks and a ham sandwich only reinforces that thinking. They thought the 25k guy was five times better because he charged five time more, rather than thinking the opposite, that we are likely peers, but Priest is all but donating his services while the other guy is not.

Working for almost nothing is a time-honored Christian tradition. It’s all about ministry, all about your tithe to God. The reality, however, is churches that actually *can* afford to pay you a decent rate but who choose to let you work for next to nothing, to always be broke and late on your bills. Dude, I can be broke and late on my bills working at Wal-Mart. I don’t have to write your movie to do that.

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May 6, 2007

Everybody Hates Chris

Last week I had the honor of speaking at the 14,000-member New Life Church here in Colorado Springs (yes, *that* New Life Church), where I prayed for the media (well, for everybody except Lou Dobbs) while explaining my limited role in it. Which, of course, made me realize just how long I’ve been gone from this site and this blog. I could explain where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing, but, of course, then I’d have to kill you. Let it suffice to say I’ve been far busier than I can adequately explain, which doesn’t much make up for the fact I’ve been AWOL from many people in my life whom I dearly love. I don’t want to start naming names because I’m sure to leave somebody out, so I’ll just say I really do miss you all, and now that I’ve finally found a few days to clean up my house (both the one I sleep in and my virtual house here on the web), I’m going to take another stab at showing up around here more often and (gasp) actually answering my email.

Speaking of which, I kind of have upstairs email and downstairs email. All the comics-related and business stuff is downstairs email, and I haven’t booted up that PC in many, many months. So, again, I apologize to folks who’ve been trying to email me. All the more so since this weekend’s coma awakening found me switching the site to a shiny new hosting company. They are, like, 25% cheaper than my old company and provide, no kidding, like 10x the space and bandwidth. I’ve been using them for about a year over on the PraiseNet, so I’ve decided to move the less-praiseful Digital-Priest thing over as well.

Which means expect glitches and things moved as I’ve changed some directories and updated some other things. This week, I’m hoping, will be reasonably slow, which should allow me to get my lawn cut (my neighbors are forming a lynch mob) and to get into the Movable Type code, which I’m sure I screwed up. It seems to be working from my end, but enough of you have complained to inform me that something is probably wrong. I think my ultimate goal is to simply fork over the bucks and let them, Movable Type, get in and fix my installations and trouble-shoot my templates. Honestly, a programmer I am not.

The other unfortunate consequence of switching servers is I forgot to pull the mail off of the old one. I’m going to try and go in and grab it, but, to be safe, if you’ve emailed me in, gee, the last four to six months (man, that’s embarrassing) and got snubbed, I apologize. As I said, I have a bevy of good reasons (no, I wasn’t in jail. Yes, I was very sick for awhile, but me all better now). You can go ahead and re-send those messages, I’m doing both the upstairs and downstairs now and trying to streamline the whole email matter.

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May 7, 2007

Away In A Manger

Thanks, as usual, to my wonderful friend Elayne Riggs and husband Robin for being the Only Persons On The Planet To Send Priest A Christmas Card, an honor they’ve captured two years running, now. Merry Christmas everybody!!!!


May 9, 2007

External Validation

Sorry about the ongoing blog glitches. I’m going to comb thru the code over the weekend and hopefully get this thing running properly. And, of course, Movable Type just released an upgrade that now requires I rewrite all my templates… grrr…

Anyway, if you register with TypeKey (see link in comments section), I can add you as a “trusted” commenter, which means your comments will publish immediately. I’ve added all of the authenticated commenters who’ve posted here, and will add anyone else who registers with TypeKey, so that should reduce some of the headache. Beyond that, hopefully by next week we can spend more time complaining about stuff and less time struggling with the blog.

Also note *any* hyperlinks in your comment will get you detained by homeland security (IOW: held for my review; it's a spam lockout thing). Not saying don't use 'em, just unnderstand they may not post right away. Thanks!


May 11, 2007

Cookie Monster

The cookies don’t seem to be working on this blog (i.e. “remember me” and so forth). I’m trying to figure out why, but the code looks right Re-typing that info over and over is really annoying. I took the blog out of frames and tried again—no dice. I believe this cookie problem is also what’s screwing up the TypeKey handshake. If anybody has a suggestion, I could use the help.


May 14, 2007


Yesterday the rip cord on my lawn mower snapped. The mower is about, oh, seven years old, so I suppose it’s time, so I’m not terribly mad about it. Looks simple enough to reattach, so me and my handy Phillips head went about the task of reattaching this cord after the break (did you know most things in life can be dealt with with a mini MagLite and a Phillips had screwdriver? No, seriously, try it. Clip ‘em to your belt and take ‘em everywhere you go. You’ll see).

The plastic housing came apart easy enough—Phillips head! But then you get to the metal inner housing around the motor—which is attached by custom screws. You need either an Allen wrench or a custom driver of some kind to turn those screws.

This is why I hate everybody.

Why, oh, why couldn’t they just attach the housing with regular, Human Being screws?!? My backyard looks like Guam in August, and my neighbors are shunning me. I’ve contacted four different landscaping companies to come out and cut the backyard and been stood up four separate times. Finally, my will broken, I just drop everything and make the time to pretty things up here, and this is how the world rewards me: custom screws.

I went to Wal-Mart looking for a wrench or something and was told this custom screw business is a common practice to force you to do one of the following: (1) bring the mower into the shop (sure, I’ll get it back by October) or, more likely, (2) get so frustrated I’ll just buy a new mower. Honestly, if I had the cash, that’s what I would have done. I’m much more invested in getting the yard done than in fighting city hall. It just amazes me that a 50-cent rip cord could cost me $150 for a new mower just because these geniuses at Briggs & Stratton decided to use these idiot screws. Life, as I know it, has come to a screeching halt because of four screws.

My Christian convictions notwithstanding, there’s a special place in hell for the guy who thought up this crap.


May 16, 2007

The Morality Of A Majority

And, so, what are we to say about Pastor Jerry Falwell, who passed away yesterday of apparent heart failure? We are, I presume, to celebrate the enormous good he did for the Kingdom of God, while not over-looking or white-washing the enormous damage he did to the cause of Christ. A model of Christian conservatism, Falwell’s laudable activism energized a diminishing American moral conscience, harkening this country back to God’s values and Biblical principles. The unfortunate side effect of his Moral Majority movement, however, was to marry a conservative culture to conservative values, and a equating of morality and spirituality, blending these qualities into a kindly Ronald Reagan-Ozzie and Harriet vision of moral purity that insidiously placed white, middle-class Americans at the top of the food chain while omitting blacks and other minorities. Falwell’s palette for Christian purity kept us waiting tables, voiceless and faceless, our cultural accents eliminated as most Falwell-approved blacks looked and sounded a lot more like Wintly Phipps than Cornell West or Jesse Jackson. The easy-going, soft spoken, rounded-edge blacks of Falwell’s world were the only ones seen within his many years of faithful service to the religious right.

Falwell’s movement was an unabashedly white movement, a white moral rights movement which eclipsed the black civil rights movement as our great civil rights leaders moved off the stage, replaced by minstrels like Jackson and Sharpton. Left virtually unopposed by the fractious political doddering of the Democratic party, Falwell rode the political corpses of scandal-plagued televangelists Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart to national attention and power. In so doing, he so polarized his conservative message that many people, to this day, cannot separate Falwellian philosophy from the simple message of truth in the Bible. Christianity, most especially fundamentalist Christianity, has become socialized into a vision of the double-chinned conservative wack job, a stigma I and many pastors have to constantly combat when we seek to engage people with the message of Jesus Christ, a message Falwell distorted and a work he and like-minded conservative clones like him has made all the more difficult. The “moral” Christian right has made it exponentially more difficult to share the message of Jesus Christ.

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May 24, 2007

No, Seriously

What’s up with the weird angles on local TV news footage. Like every local news cameraman is Brian DiPalma.


Fake War On Crime

File this under Fake Solutions: Stuff People Do To Make Themselves Believe We're Winning The War On Drugs (or, more succinctly, The Soccer Mom Solution):

I’ve got to bring my driver’s license to get sinus medication. Write this down someplace: you can’t make meth with one box of pseudophedrine.


Boxed In

Since I no longer have cable, I tend to “watch TV” by buying pre-owned (a clever name for stolen and sold to second-hand shops) DVD box sets. I figure, for around 20 bucks, I can buy a box set of something that’ll take me at least a month to get thru. I’m finishing up The Shield Season 5 now—a surprisingly good show this far into its run. Usually, by this point, writers are abandoning ship and the quality is going to heck.

Before that was CSI:Miami, which, I have decided, has devolved into self-parody by Season 4. If you’re watching that on DVD, stop with Season 2 and download the first ep of Season 3 where a major cast member dies, but then run fleeing before Season 3 caroms into silly overdoneness (including a headquarters no county could ever afford and, even if they could, they’d spend the money on more policemen, not this gorgeous crystal cathedral David Caruso and friends work in).

ER is another series I went a season too far with. Stop with Season 2. Seasons 1 and 2 tell the story of how John Carter became a doctor. Season 3 seems to flounder, ER looking for an identity. And this stuff is too expensive to just take a shot at season 4 (which is where the annoying British female doc arrives, no thanks).

I liked virtually all West Wing seasons, though 6 &7 were, c’mon, a different show. One in which the writers seemed to have forgotten who C.J. Cregg was.

So, now, I’m on the horns of a dilemma: what’s next? Alias or Lost? Which is the better show? What about Jericho? Or Invasion? And, where’s the rest of the Law & Order boxes?


Pulling The Plug

Last spring the fee for my basic cable service hit $50, and it was Good Night Deacon. That was it. These greedy crooks, Adelphia/Comcast, are simply gouging us at will, charging, literally, whatever they want because they’re the only game in town. And I have no doubt they’re engaged in price fixing with the satellite companies because, like cell phone plans, the rates are just too similar. And we, the American public, are simply too stupid or too lazy to do anything about this.

Charging me fifty bucks a month to watch MSNBC and CNN is just obscene, especially since both have websites that broadcast news all day anyway. And that price hike was simply the last straw.

It would be one thing if these cable companies gouged us for fifty bucks and then ran everything commercial free. But these folks have the nerve to not only rip us off, but to inundate us with commercial ads all day and all night—more than I could ever have imagined. In the old days, the early days of cable, cable meant, explicitly, no commercials. CNN had no commercials. HBO had no commercials. MTV, when they started, had no commercials. You were *paying* for TV. The shot was, paying for TV meant you didn’t have to watch commercials.

Cable TV now has at least as many commercials as broadcast TV, if not more. And I’ve had more than enough. As it turns out, I have an antenna on my roof. And it works just fine. I do miss my all-day news fix, but it wasn’t worth the indignity of being mugged by these leeches every single month.

Last weekend the Dish network sent some plebes by to hustle my business. Man, it’s been so long since I had cable, I just snickered at him.


The Fire In Which We Burn

It’s snowing. A little hard to believe, but, yep, it’s snowing in parts of the state. Here, it’s just raining, but we’re teetering around freezing overnight, so snow’s a real possibility. I’m on this weird sleep cycle where I keep falling asleep around 8:30 and waking up at 2, so I’m up all night. Yesterday I had this train wreck of obligations, requiring me to drive into the city mid-day, which meant I’d either need to kill time in town all afternoon (which means I’m not working, which means things piling up on my desk and no money coming in), or I’d have to choose between the afternoon stuff (which culdn;t be avoided) or the evening stuff. With gas heading towards $3.60 per gallon, living out in the styx was a really dumb move. I keep thinking abut Adam West’s Batcave, 13 miles from Gotham, which, of course, meant a 20-minute lag time in Batman’s response to any real emergency. I’m trying to consolidate trips so I don’t waste gas going back and forth, but, of course, people in my life (1) don’t get that I live way outside town and /or (2) don’t care that I live way outside town.

I’ve also discovered, late in life, that few “regular” people actually understand writers or designers or, frankly, creative people of any stripe. I have to treat everybody like a child, corralling their expectations because they live in a 9-5 world and I don’t. And, most of these folks do not understand that dragging me into town takes me away from my work and forces me to stay up all night to catch up. Down at the church, they just schedule and re-schedule and schedule meeting after meeting, and I come off as Reverend Grouch by saying they have to streamline this process so we’re not being constantly dragged down to the church. The combination of loss time behind the desk and burning up $3.50 gas is a killer. Which forces me to be obstreperous: no, I am not coming in Thursday, I was in Wednesday. I’ll be back Friday. Or it can wait until Tuesday.

Nobody seems to understand I work here. I am not lounging by the pool or watching Oprah. I am at work or I am sleeping. That’s about all I do. Making me come to yur office is, typically, a fairly obnoxious waste of my time. And, it’s expensive. 9.95 out of 10 times, a meeting I’ve been dragged to in town could have happened over the phone.

Leaving the house means an hour of Monk-like ADD-driven tasks, including grooming and dressing—things you don’t need to do when you work in your pajamas. Then, whatever it is in town plus the inevitable delays and additions and bump-intos, which can lead to lunches or dinners or what have you, and by the time you’re in your driveway again, it’s night and you’ve lost the entire day. Plus, once you get home, there is the decompression and reinitializing of your creative process, which usually eats up, minimum, another hour. Even a short trip will tend to cost me half a day of work.

Worst case scenario: the psycho client who insists I come into town so he can yell at me about not having finished his job yet. The very epitome of counterintuitive disconnect between process and goal.


May 25, 2007

Kill Me Now

Who the heck is Fergie and why am I watching her on Good Morning America? Oh, my eyes… oh, my ears… oh my mind… I don’t think it’s a generational thing. I am utterly convinced music *was* better 20 years ago. What on *earth* is this crap?!? And why is this kid a star?



About May 2007

This page contains all entries posted to According To Me in May 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2007 is the previous archive.

June 2007 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.