Thursday, December 31, 2009

Resource Review - Videos/TV Shows/Toons That Teach

(This is part of a year long series of resource reviews I've been doing. 52 resources in 52 weeks. You can see all the reviews in one place here)

Videos That Teach, TV Shows That Teach, Toons That Teach A series of books to help use video clips in your youth ministry.

OVERALL - Three resources that all offer the same help. How to find and use video/TV clips in your ministry as ways to approach topics and start discussion

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Videos That Teach started all this with Doug Fields and Eddie James doing the first book of 75 movies. That series is now up to four volumes. Then Eddie teamed up with his partner from The Skit Guys(who probably should have gotten their own review in this series, sorry guys!), Tommy Woodard, to create the TV Shows That Teaches with 100 episodes to draw from and then Stephen Case (author of The Book of UnCommon Prayer) jumped in with Toons That Teach (75 clips). All of these guys are top quality and well known folks. And this can be a great resource to keep on the shelf. You get a variety of options on topics for each clip, suggested questions plus the exact timing to find the clip when you need it. Very complete and very useful. Check out the multiple formats you can get these in as well (paperback, ebook, etc)

RESERVATIONS Hmmmm, don't know. Sometimes the topics don't seem to match my thoughts on the clips but that's hardly their fault. Really nothing too serious to question at all.

RECOMMENDATION I'll be honest and say I've only used the first Videos book personally. The quality of the authors leaves me with no reservations at all about recommending the entire bunch however. This is a great piece to use as a regular part of your ministry or to keep as a last minute emergency resource too (not TOO last minute, you still need to get a copy of the video or whatever!)

View From the Phlipside - 2009 review pt 2

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

Year in Review time this week on the Phlipside. I try not to note the passing of every single figure in the media but I do like to take note of the biggest and most interesting. Those categories are not necessarily the same.

For example this year we lost one of the greatest news men of all time. Walter Cronkite had an impact and ability to influence the thought stream of the American public like no one since. Folks like Rush Limbaugh may claim to have that kind of sway but they all lack the true broad cross section of the American public as their audience that Cronkite held. He truly was a giant of the media. I very much doubt we will ever see another figure like him. The closest we have now is Oprah Winfrey. I'm not being my usual snarky self either, Oprah comes closest to matching Uncle Walter's grasp on the American mind.

At a smaller scale but worthy of a mention next to Cronkite was Paul Harvey. Harvey's career outlasted Cronkite's but a good long stretch but since his primary medium was radio, which was fading instead of growing, he falls to a slightly lower rung. This was a man also dedicated to the news but with a more homegrown touch. For many people that folksy flavor to his broadcasts spoke to the lack of sophistication of the audience and possibly the performer. That seriously underestimates the intelligence and business acumen of Harvey. You would be hard pressed to find any other media star ever to have the kind of staying power.

Slipping down another rung we find Casey Kasem. This small time radio DJ turned his spunky personal style into an icon of popular music. Kasem didn't pretend that the subject of his program was of any particular substance or weight. He just knew that the music was important to most of us at some point in our lives. Kasem knew that music is tied to memory and gave us the chance to explore them both.

On the other hand this year also saw the death of Soupy Sales. The pie in the face king was important only in the fact that he was a childhood bringer of laughter. He wasn't a great actor or singer or even a great comedian. But he knew how to make us laugh and he was willing to do whatever it took to get us there. The world may have suffered more by his death than it suffered in any of the others. There's always plenty of news. There's often not enough laughter. RIP to them all.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

View From the Phlipside - 2009 Review pt 1

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

I thought I'd take a moment here at the end of the year to look back at what we've been talking about so far this year. My records show that there were about 150 programs recorded for this effort during the course of 2009. So I did a quick skim to see if there were any trends I could notice. A couple names popped up repeatedly during the year. For example I talked about Twitter quite a bit this year. I'll be honest and say I'm not really sure why. As the year went on it became clear that outside of a relatively small group dedicated group of Twitterers most people can't figure out just what the allure is. Business is still trying to figure out what the value is or if there is a value. Let's just say the jury is still out on that one. Oh and one more reminder that there is a Twitter for this program, just look for radiophlipside, spelled with a PH.

I also spent a lot of time talking about NBC and Jay Leno. If I treat them as separate topics they still make the list as some of the most talked about topics of the year. NBC has had just a rotten year and Jay Leno hasn't done much so far to turn things around. Actually right now may turn out to be make or break time for the new Leno show. With everything else in reruns, or like the case of "Lost", it hasn't debuted for the season yet this is the best time for people to sample the show. The problem is that too many people sample it but don't come back for seconds. Meanwhile the network itself has been sold off with the rest of the media group. The Peacock Network was the throw in on the deal, which never makes you feel very good about yourself.

You probably heard more than you wanted about NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month. It was great fun for me and I think it's a great opportunity to advance writing and creative thinking in the world. I'll just warn you now that you're probably in for a second round next November. You have been warned.

Of all the media it appears I spent the most time on TV followed closely by the internet. Music, movies, commercials, books and smart phones all got some air time as well. We talked about how we interact with the media and how people act badly for the media. NBC may fall off the list of topics in 2010 but I'm betting people behaving badly probably won't.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

Friday, December 25, 2009

View From the Phlipside - Stale TV News Anchors

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

One of the interesting points about the end of an old year and the beginning of a new one is the chance to look back and decide if you want to keep doing it. That's why we make resolutions at New Year's, it's a dividing point between the fixed past and the future that we hope to fix. That can be a very good thing too. For example this year the family Phlipside will take time at the New Year to clean out certain cupboards. Like the one where we discovered a cake mix that was a full two years out of date. Time to discard the old and move into a new, brighter and slightly less stale future.

All of which leads me to some end of year thoughts on the retirement of what one newspaper referred to as the "...last old school TV anchor". They were referring to the end of Charlie Gibson's tenure on the evening news at ABC. Eric Deggans at said the following about Gibson and it got me thinking:

"He's not very active online and takes his anchor role seriously. ...He is not willing to pop up in comedy sketches the way NBC anchor and frustrated stand up comic Brian Williams does. ... And he's not about to become a fixture in either tabloid news or the online world, in the way Katie Couric has managed."

Now I'm second to none when it comes to my respect for old school news anchors. Give me Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, thank you very much. But as I read that bit from the St. Petersburg Times my initial feelings began to change. You may or may not like the new world of the internet. I've got plenty of misgivings about the wisdom of trying to communicate anything of importance in 140 characters or less. But if you're going to simply ignore the most important step in modern communications then maybe it's TIME to step aside. Like it or not it's a brave new world out there. I would remind you that the phrase comes originally from Shakespeare. It's an expression of wonder at the amazing and new people confronting Miranda in the play "The Tempest". This is a time when new things are happening all around us, when new opportunities present themselves and new challenges require new responses. A stubborn adherence to "old school" in defiance of that smacks far too much of Don Quixote. Even Murrow looked for new ways to bring news and information to people. A new year is coming. Sounds like it's time for something a little fresher in the news anchor cupboard.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

Thursday, December 24, 2009

View From the Phlipside - Tiger's Tale

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

So here's the question of the day: Is the Tiger Woods marital problem the biggest media story of the year? Is it the biggest story of the decade/century so far? I'm amazed at how often this question is getting asked these days. I'm amazed at the folks who are willing to lay claim that this is not only the biggest SPORTS story of the year but it might even be the biggest sports story of all time. I seriously heard someone make that claim on the air in the last couple weeks. So let's take a moment to look at this.

Is this a sport story? Well it does involve a sports figure, arguably the most high profile and influential sports figure of the last ten years. On the other hand it actually has NOTHING to do with sports. So I would classify this as a non-sports story that happens to have a sports angle to it. So that pretty much eliminates it from the biggest sports story of the year or the decade or whatever in my opinion. Next subject:

Is it the biggest news story of the year? So far this year we've had a major political battle brewing over the quality and accessibility of health care for the citizens of our country. We're fighting two wars, we are struggling with the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression, and we have unemployment running somewhere between 10 and 20 percent nationwide on average and depending on how you choose to count the numbers. That's just off the top of my head. You could add in that we swore in the first person of color to the highest office in the land this year too I think.

On the other side we have a man who has made enough money to allow him to live at a level of which you and I can only dream even if he never works another day in his life . Plus his children and grandchildren could maintain the same lifestyle without ever working a day in their lives either. He has a gorgeous wife, a wonderful family and a successful career. Oh yeah and like many other stupid men before him he decided to, how shall I say this, dally with another woman. OK, it appears he decided to dally with enough other women to form a baseball team, possibly a football team. His wife found out, she got mad, there was a scene and they may get divorced. Or they may not. That still appears to be up in the air.

No my friends it is NOT the biggest story of the year. It's a sad and pitiful little story that needs to be ignored. The only thing more sad and pitiful is that we still insist on having this discussion. Playing peeping tom on other people's troubles through the media is something we should give up as a new year's resolution.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

View From the Phlipside - Pepsi and the Super Bowl

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

Next year's Super Bowl is going to have one rather historic moment. Or more precisely it's going to have an historic absence. No, not the Bills failure to return to the big game but rather Pepsi's decision not to return to the big game. For the first time in 23 years the Super Bowl will not have a single Pepsi ad anywhere during the game. That's a big change for the number two soft drink company in the world. It may also herald a big change in the whole media advertising world too.

You see the Super Bowl isn't like any other advertising medium or event. At least not in this country. The Super Bowl is THE media event of every year. Every football fan in the country will be watching the fame or mourning the fact that they can't watch it. People who only care a little about football will be watching. And people who don't know or care about football at all will likely be watching it simply because that's where most of their friends will be that night. In the advertising industry it's all about the number of "eyes" you can access. That means the number of people you can push your message to at one time and in one place. And in the United States of America there is no better place to get seen than the Super Bowl. I mean let's face it, the game too often is boring so what do we wait for? THE COMMERCIALS! Because you know you're going to see the some of the very best of the year.

And Pepsi, perennially one of the bigger advertisers on the game, is taking a pass. It's not just the price, although a thirty second ad, just one mind you, is still running between two and a half and three million dollars. This is where you may feel the ground of the media world shifting beneath your feet a bit. They are going to put that money into something new, with a strong world wide web basis, called the Pepsi Refresh Project. It's a grant program designed to make the world a better place. Consumer will be able to go on line and vote on the projects that will be funded. The Pepsi Refresh Project is scheduled to be funded to the tune of twenty million dollars. That will be the flagship media vehicle for the cola.

Whether or not this new campaign will actually get people to buy Pepsi Cola remains to be seen. There is no doubt that this is a major shift for Pepsi and maybe in the advertising world too. It takes a lot of guts to walk away from the biggest advertising event of the year without a backward glance. We'll have to see if this idea makes the world want to sing in harmony with Pepsi.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

Monday, December 21, 2009

Resource Review - Youth Ministry Geek

(This is part of a year long series of resource reviews I've been doing. 52 resources in 52 weeks. You can see all the reviews in one place here)

Youth Ministry Geek A blog about youth ministry and technology.

OVERALL - A great blog for youth ministers with a bit of the geek in them (or who wish they had a bit more geek in them). Technology that is useful and helpful as we work with our young people and church in general.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Chris Davis, the Geek himself, found a way to bring together his love for young people, his faith and his self professed "love of toys". He's my kinda guy. His blog is always a source for all kinds of great ideas he's found around the world wide web. Last week he shared a video of a group of teens playing "The Carol of the Bells" on their iPhones, a bunch of Christmas media freebies and the iPhone apps so our kids can do the iPhone band thing themselves. Scroll down a little farther and find excellent ways to get a little more life out of your old computer. Great for those of us on a budget. His posts are concise and easy to read. An excellent resource to keep ready.

RESERVATIONS It does tend to be very Apple/Mac oriented. Not entirely but I'd love to see the blog expand the stuff for PCs just a little more. Like it or not PCs make up most of the computing world.

RECOMMENDATION I can hardly turn my back on a fellow youth ministry geek brother. Chris's blog is a fixture on my blog reader and I've picked up some very good ideas from him. You will too.

Friday, December 18, 2009

View From the Phlipside - Verizon vs. AT&T

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

I've been ignoring the great Verizon/AT&T battle over the last couple months. Quite simply it all seemed pretty dull to me as the two cell phone giants battled back and forth over their current ad campaigns. Even when they took the battle into the courts trying to get a judge to order the other guy to stop it didn't raise much interest for me. But now that the court case has been settled (basically both sides agreed to go away and stop bothering the judge with this nonsense) I've taken another look. There is I think a rather important lesson to be learned by looking at what they've been fighting about.

The ad campaigns I'm referring to are what are called the "map ads". Verizon shows you two maps that illustrate how great their coverage is and how rotten AT&T's is. AT&T comes back to show you just how wrong those nasty V people are and tout all the wonderful reasons to sign up with them. There are two important things to note about this. First is what's actually being said and second is what the two companies apparently think about you and me.

Pay attention the next time you see the ads and you'll realize they're actually about two completely different things. Verizon is talking about the higher speed 3G network coverage, where to be honest they have a decided edge. But they want you to believe that it describes the entire coverage package. So it appears that you can't use your AT&T phone most places. AT&T is talking about all kinds of coverage which gives them a map that's about the same as Verizon's. They then talk about how much faster their 3G network is without mentioning that you can't always get it. Like here in Jamestown.

So what does this tell us about the companies attitude toward you and me? Simple, the fact that they went to court to get the ads pulled tells me that they think we're pretty stupid. Or at least that we don't pay much attention to what's actually being said. On that second point they are probably right. Of course that's the whole point of both campaigns so yeah they probably think we're pretty stupid too. The worst part is we probably deserve it. We DON'T pay attention, we LET advertisers get away with half truths and misleading claims and we STILL make decisions based on the incomplete information.

So the next time you listen to, watch or read an advertisement, pay attention to what's actually being said. And don't make a decision till you get all the information. That way the advertiser will learn to concentrate of the quality of their product rather than the obscureness of their advertising.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

Thursday, December 17, 2009

View From the Phlipside - Anti-social Media

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

This may be the worst idea to come down the media pipeline in a very long time. Or it may just be the idea in the worst taste in a very long time. I'm betting it scores very high on both scales.

I begin this little audio temper tantrum by admitting that I spend more time on Facebook than I really should. Not that it interferes with work or my personal life. At least not yet. but especially with my iPhone offering virtually ubiquitous access I check it a lot. Which is absurd because it's not as if there's always something interesting waiting for me. The occasional note from a friend, the rare but wonderful discovery of a friend I'd lost touch with (just had that happen last week again, very cool), or the random bit of lunacy that one of my siblings likes to inject into my virtual life for everyone's amusement. I mean, really, do I NEED to check it four, five, six or more times a day? No. Which is why some folks are either cutting down on their social media or just walking away. I can totally understand it.

But then you find the folks at seppukoo dot com. This admittedly tongue in cheek website offers you the chance to put an end to all of that obsessive observing of the boring details of your friends lives. By committing virtual suicide. Seppuku is the ancient Japanese tradition among the samurai of ritually killing themselves in order to preserve their honor. It's a very serious thing. The online folks (who spell the word differently) say the following about what they offer:
"Seppukoo playfully attempts to subvert this mechanism by disconnecting people from each other and transforming the individual suicide experience into an exciting 'social' experience."
The "mechanism" they are aiming at is Facebook, by the way. Once you're "gone" you get a memorial wall where folks can stop by and leave you messages.

So is this a really bad idea or just a really bad taste idea? I don't think you can argue too much with the second point. Making a joke where the word suicide is part of the punchline is just nasty. Doing it with the kind of smug, self satisfied attitude found on the web site is rather sickening. If your virtual life is interfering with your actual life, or if you're not sure where the one begins and the other ends then it may be time to take a step away for a while. Surely we can call that a virtual vacation. If you really need or want to just walk away from the whole thing then go right ahead. But spare us all the pseudo-sophistication of a web site that calls making an adult decision virtual suicide.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

View From the Phlipside - Black Hole Sequel

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

Over the years I've watched a LOT of movies. A couple handfuls of really great ones, dozens and dozens or outstanding ones, hundreds of OK ones, a few dozen bad ones and just a couple AWFUL movies. I'm usually pretty good at spotting the real stinkers before I waste my time and money on them. But not always. The good news is that the really putrid films will die a quick death and never be seen again. But not always.

Now let me make one thing clear. A movie can be bad and still be good. The transcendent qualities of certain old horror movies are impressive. At the very top of this list traditionally is the Ed Wood directed classic "Plan 9 from Outer Space". In a lot of ways it's not really any better or worse than a handful of other contenders but it is gloriously, wonderfully awful. I'm not talking about those kinds of bad movies.

I'm talking "Ishtar", a move so bad that when the rental video tape I was watching broke I never bothered to get another copy of the movie to finish. There have been a few others so bad that I refused to finish them. At the top of my list however is the first Disney film ever to get something other than a "G" rating, 1979's "The Black Hole". I should have known. By '79 any movie with Ernest Borgnine in it was pretty much a lock to be schlock. But I love science fiction. I very nearly walked out and demanded a refund. That's how bad this movie is. Awful acting, awful production and awful pseudo-science.

So naturally it's just been announced that they are making a sequel. It's being made by the same people who are producing next year's sequel to 1982's vastly superior sci fi flick "Tron". The movie, curiously also from Disney, is head and shoulders above "The Black Hole". When you add in the chance to use the latest computer techniques this sequel looks great. Even the early trailer looks great. "Tron-Legacy" is set to hit the theaters a year from now. But where does that leave us with the sequel to "The Black Hole"? I'm encouraged to note that the creative team is already talking about putting more science into the new movie. The original was the most expensive movie Disney had ever made to that point so hopefully they'll make a proper financial commitment to this one. And apparently the very nasty robot Maximilian will also return. So I'll keep hoping this will be the rare occasion where a sequel is better than the original. Of course that's not that hard in this case. I really don't want any more movies on my Awful list.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

Monday, December 14, 2009

Resource Review - Gives Me Hope

(This is part of a year long series of resource reviews I've been doing. 52 resources in 52 weeks. You can see all the reviews in one place here)

Gives Me Hope (.com) A website to brighten the day of you and your youth

OVERALL - A collection of submitted true stories designed to share some hope in all our lives.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? I'm a regular reader of a variety of similar sites like FML (F*ck My Life), My Life is Average, E-mails From Crazy People and others. My bet is your youth know at least FML if not several of the others. None of them has grabbed me as quickly and completely at Gives Me Hope. These are stories of people doing the right thing, making the right choices and making the world a better place. And there's a LOT more of them than you'd expect. Unless you have a heart seven sizes too small (you Grinch you) this will give your day a lift. And there are days when we all desperately need just that.

RESERVATIONS Hmmmm, sometimes the stories can be ever so slightly risque. Which might, maybe be a problem for middle schoolers. And I'm stretching even for that one.

RECOMMENDATION In a time when too many of our youth feel like the world sucks and there's no love in it for them having this kind of tool in your repetoire strikes me as a very good idea. I also see it as a great conversation starter as you read through the items. Even if you keep it for yourself it will put you into a brighter mood and make you better able to face your own rotten days. Thanks to "graduated youth" Sammi Jo Calabrese for tipping me to this great site.

Friday, December 11, 2009

View From the Phlipside - Friend of the Library

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

One of the recurring pieces of advice for folks who try to see into the future is to remember that people insist on doing unexpected things. We get rid of things that people are sure we'll never leave behind and we hang onto things that the experts are sure we are ready to drop at any moment.

Take as an example, libraries. Giant repositories of old school media, books, magazines all that kinda stuff. Add to it the common wisdom that nobody reads any more. Or the slightly more elitist point of view that if people do read today they only read junk. Not like the old days when folks gathered round the fire for a rousing reading of James Joyce.

But I digress. It's probably library withdrawal that's getting to me. Our local library is in the process of getting some very important and needed renovations done. Sadly for folks like me who like having that resource at our beck and call it's going be a little while longer before we can return. As with any big project the work is taking slightly longer than anticipated.

In the meantime we can consider the future of libraries. Which may not be as dark as some people once thought. Curiously it's new technology and media that are leading the way. In fact it's the new technology and medium that some folks thought would finish the library as we know it that may be breathing new life into the institution. The e-book or e-reader, of which the best known variety is the Kindle, seems to be a friend of the library. A few libraries in England have begun lending electronic versions of books and discovered a rather interesting result. The number of library members went UP! The system is very simple, you log onto the library website, select from the available titles, download it to your computer then load it into your e-reader. Actually the only one it doesn't work with is the Kindle which requires proprietary files. Seems the Kindle folks can be placed outside the clan of friends of the library. After two weeks the book erases itself so you don't even have to worry about late fees!

England has seen sharp declines in the number of visitors to its libraries and the number of books being checked out. So anything that actually increases those numbers is welcome. It's easy to overlook what a great resource a local library (and its staff I hasten to add!) are for all of us. So anything that helps bring more people back into those hallowed halls of learning, literature and leisure is a great idea in my mind.

So now we just have to wait patiently while our old friend finishes with the latest improvements.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

Thursday, December 10, 2009

View From the Phlipside - Tweet Marriage

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

Let's see, this story does in fact involve two different modern communication media. And it is about how and when and where we choose to use the media. They do figure prominently in the story, even though the story isn't REALLY about the media at all. What the story is REALLY about is stupidity. So that's probably more than enough reason for me to talk about it here.

Did you hear the story about the groom who updated his Facebook with a Tweet and made a video while he did it...IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CEREMONY?

Last month in Maryland a groom decided to have a little fun at his wedding. That, by the way, is his description of this whole incident. As the preacher got to the point where he declares the couple husband and wife our intrepid hero reached into this pocket and pulled out his smart phone. Then asked the preacher to hang on for a minute while he updated his relationship status on Facebook. I swear to you I'm not making this up, the video of it is on YouTube. He actually did it too, it takes him about 30 seconds to finish the task. At one point he reaches into his pocket and produces the bride's smart phone as well. Presumably to give her the chance to do the same thing.

The groom thinks people like me, who think that he's an idiot, are just a bunch of stuck up sticky beaks who don't know a good time when they see one. I'll grant him A: His new wife did not deck him, although to my eyes she is frozen in place and B: the assembled guests all seemed to take it in good humor. I was amazed to discover that he had let the preacher in on it BUT NOT HIS BRIDE! Astounding.

My bet is that she's accustomed to this kind of low rent humor from him and loves him anyway. Good for her. I just wonder if he really considered that for the love of his life this most wonderful day will now be forever remembered as the day he did the Facebook thing. That at the moment when they were pronounced joined in wedlock he went for the laugh. And oh yeah on the very first day of the rest of their lives together, during the most important moment of the day, he didn't bother to tell her what he was going to do.

In my humble opinion, with 27 years of marriage under my belt, not bright. Save it for the reception. And maybe start your marriage off with a little more dignity, a little more seriousness and a lot less stupidity.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

View From the Phlipside - Ripping on Rudolph

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

I will admit that I have a soft spot for the traditional Christmas movie slate. In fact, just to make sure that I can see them all each year I've hunted most of them down and bought them. A Charlie Brown Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, the 1930's version of A Christmas Carol, The Walton's Christmas special, White Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life to name just some. I own them all. And December will be spent watching them all.

At the same time I'm aware of the cliche factor of it all. I know some of it is pretty cheesy. So I'm not above having some fun with it as well. Which is where the wonderful weird folks at RiffTrax enter the picture. If you're not familiar with Rifftrax then maybe you know them from their previous project Mystery Science Theater 3000. Or as it is known among the aficionados Misty Three K. The guys who made their fame by mocking bad science fiction films have turned their sights on Christmas. Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett will be joined by no less a loony luminary thanWeird Al Yankovic as they take on a variety of Christmas shorts, ads and a classic.

Oh, yes this time they're not sticking to lesser known movies that were just begging to be mocked and slandered. No, they're going for a classic of the season that, let's face it, is just begging to be mocked and slandered. Rifftrax Live - A Christmas Shorts-stravaganza will be taking on Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. And they'll be doing it live, broadcast to theaters all over America.

This is a relatively new thing that I've seen done for a couple other events over the last few years. You go to a theater (actually we'll have to go to either Erie or Buffalo. I don't see any theaters around here jumping on the Rudolph slanging bandwagon), you buy your ticket and you get to watch a live broadcast of the event. It's like the world's biggest big screen TV crossed with a midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. The show hits the theater next week, December 16, with an encore presentation the following day.

If you like your humor snarky and you're not squeamish about raking a great holiday classic over the coals (I mean they are going to murder this movie) then maybe it's worth the drive to Erie, Buffalo or Williamsville. If not then grab a copy of the DVD, snuggle up under the blanket and enjoy the story of an elf who wants to be a dentist and a reindeer with a big shiny nose. And let the Rifftrax boys worry about coal in their stockings.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

Monday, December 07, 2009

Resource Review - Snopes and Purportal

(This is part of a year long series of resource reviews I've been doing. 52 resources in 52 weeks. You can see all the reviews in one place here) and - Two sites to check on Urban Legends and other online nonsense.

OVERALL - Our youth spend truly amazing amounts of time on the internet and can be naive about the information that they find there. Urban Legends have an amazing ability to hang on and we need some way of coming back to the facts whenever possible. These two sites can give you the information you need.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? I just recently got a version of an Urban Legend that I first got back in the 1980's when it arrived by FAX! It was completely wrong then and it's just as wrong now. Snopes is the best source (in my opinion)for the facts on so many stories, legends and spams. It is amazingly comprehensive and detailed. Purportal is more of a search engine that includes Snopes plus several other sites having to do with spam, emails, frauds, phishing plus viruses and malware. It's a great resource.

RESERVATIONS Snopes is so comprehensive that sometimes it's hard to figure out where to even start looking. Purportal has the problem of most search engines in that you have to come up with the right search terms to actually find what you're looking for.

RECOMMENDATION Fighting for the truth is a part of what our ministry is all about. So is helping our young people to walk in the right knowledge. While not directly spiritual these two sites are great resources to have on hand.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

A Bitter Taste of Disappointment

I did something that I knew I shouldn't do.

I hoped.

Oh hell, I did more than hope. I started to dream, to even plan just a tiny little bit.

It all came crashing down in a single page letter on Friday.

Sabbaticals are new things to me and like most new things it is both exciting and frightening. I struggled with what to do. Suddenly a perfect answer seemed to present itself. A chance to study at a great institution for a full semester in a fabulous city. It took a while to grasp the reality that such a wonderful thing might be within my grasp. With the encouragement of friends I believed.

And dared to hope.

The letter on Friday was typical, perhaps slightly nicer than most. They assured me of my wonderful qualities as an applicant. They mourned the difficult decisions they had to make. In the end it boils down to something simple.


It was long shot in many ways. So I supposed I shouldn't have been so invested in it. But it was so wonderful and it felt so right. I allowed myself to be seduced by the dream instead of a determined realism. So the letter's blow fell hard. Much harder than I had anticipated. The taste of my disappointment is bitter.

I learned years ago not to follow the path of stoicism, attempting to deny the feeling. There is no value in noble suffering to my mind. For me that is just a way to extend the pain. No, I give myself permission to wallow in disappointment for a season. A little while to embrace the hurt, to revel in it just a little bit. I feel sorry for myself and refuse to feel sorry for feeling that way.

But only for a little while. With this note that season draws to an end. This bitter taste deserves no longer time than this. I must return to my work, return to my life, return to the arms of the good and glorious that have been granted me.

For though this bitter taste will linger in smaller and smaller reserves, and I know that my tongue will seek them upon occasion it is a small sharp note in this life. I am blessed. It is my hope that I shall be blessed again. Those blessings will mellow the bitterness and age will dull its bite.

Come the morning I shall set it aside.
Come the morning I shall set it aside.
Come the morning...


Friday, December 04, 2009

View From the Phlipside - iPhone and Marvel

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

Oh am I in trouble now. It's not as if my iPhone doesn't tempt me with a hundred thousand apps to waste my time and lower my productivity. No, now they are prepared to reach deep into my youth and lure me away with the siren song of one of my boyhood joys. The comic book has come to iPhone.

And not just any comic books, oh no. They've landed nobody less than Marvel Comics themselves. And when I was growing up Marvel was THE comic book line to read. Marvel heroes like Spiderman, Iron Man, Captain America, The Fantastic Four, Thor and many many more were a staple for me. The denizens of the Marvel Universe were conflicted, flawed and very, very human. They struggled with acceptance, bodies that changed, sometimes against their will and relationships with members of the opposite sex. I can't imagine what attracted a growing boy to such stories.

As an adult I must admit to still having a guilty pleasure out of the occasional foray into the world of comics. In a lot of ways that's a very different world than it used to be. Comics have grown into graphic novels and the heroes are even darker and more conflicted than every before. But I will admit that I was ready and rarin' to go when I heard that they'd made a movie of Iron Man. I was even pretty pleased with the version of the shellhead that ended up on the screen.

And now I can get a Marvel fix right on my iPhone. A trio of free comic apps (Comixology, iVerse and Panelfly)have landed a deal with Marvel to sell special runs of various books. This includes a 24 issue run of Joss Wheeden's Astonishing X-men story line, a Captain America run of 30 issues (are you as amazed as I am that the old Cap is still around?) plus several others. The comics will be available at two dollars an issue. Panelfly was offering them at just a dollar but no one is sure how long that might last. Marvel has also jumped into the video arena for iPhone as well. They have a pair of "motion comics" that can be snagged at the iTunes store. One is a version of that Wheedon Astonishing X-men and the other is Spider woman.

So if you see me engrossed in my iPhone sometime soon I may NOT be researching the latest trend in media. I may be hanging with Spidey or on an adventure with Tony Starke. Oh I can feel my productivity just slipping away already.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

Thursday, December 03, 2009

So much writing, so little news

Just realized that while there have lots of posts here there hasn't been much from me personally. Part of that has just been the business of the last several weeks:

Happening #25 - a great spiritual retreat weekend for teens led by a great group of young people. I actually was NOT quite as wiped out as I often am by these (these kinds of retreats don't work well with my Myers-Briggs Introvert personality).

Then home for a day and off to:

Standing Commission on Ministry Development - Chicago! Great city! Have friends there! NEVER LEFT THE HOTEL FOR 4 DAYS! Apparently there IS some work being done at the wider church level. And the folks who are doing it work HARD! We worked 9-noon, 1-5 and 7-9 each day. I'm the chair of a sub-committee looking at the Ministry of the Baptized concept and what we need to do to make it a reality in the church. Because too often it is either just lip service or code for "ministry of the lay". Curious since I'm fairly certain the ordained have to be baptized too. Unless it comes off when the collar goes on. Met some wonderful people and largely enjoyed myself. It's always tough for me when I really don't know many people. I'm not a natural mingler. So I forced myself, tried to sit with some new folks and have conversations. Kinda painful but cool at the same time. For those who read here and are from the Beliefnet days I actually had lunch one day with someone who began talking about our friend Roseann. I about fell out of my chair! We are indeed a small, freakin' church.

Got home and immediately went to see the national touring company of "Fiddler on the Roof". A personal favorite for the whole family. VERY disappointing. Really felt like a mid-level college performance. Nothing wrong with it except it was a national touring company of Equity actors. Flat characters, lots of singers who couldn't really sing the parts (or simply sang them with no passion). Topol was supposed to be with the company but health issues caused him to pull out (Toronto got Harvey Fierstein! So jealous!). It was just sad. Plus a grumpy lady sitting in front of us. The kid and I, at moments of the show we love the most, might sing, VERY SOFTLY (like I could barely hear her and I was sitting right next to her) or hum a part we loved. Not the whole thing, a phrase or two. I repeat, VERY SOFTLY. It's really not good manners, I know but it's hard to resist, at least for me. And the lady in front of us started getting snotty about it. And was snotty from the git go. At one point she complained and neither of us were making a peep! She lost ANY compassion from me when she and her male companion bolted before the curtain call. Sorry, if you love the show that much you give some respect to the performers. I DIDN'T like it that much but I stayed for all the curtain calls. So I'll leave it to you to judge who was more out of line.

Lots of meetings, I shan't bore you with them.

I did indeed complete the NaNoWriMo challenge, breaking through the 50,000 word mark with a day to spare. I'll be posting my winner's badge on this page later this week. I'm still excited about finishing the book (I figure it's at least another 30-40k worth of writing) but I was kind of surprised by the post contest emotional let down. I was just wrung out. It was great fun.

Oh and quick plug for which I receive nothing in return. Found some really fine free software for writing longer projects (like novels but apparently folks use it for other things too) yWriter 5. It's not youth ministry related so I'm not including it in the regular reviews columns but I really enjoyed using it. The learning curve is relatively shallow, and I keep finding more and more tools. It's not Scrivener, which is the best I've ever seen (and it's what the kid uses since it's Mac only. Not free either but very reasonably priced)but it was designed by a writer who is also a programmer. So it works pretty well. If you're looking for something to do long form writing I'd definitely recommend it.

Right now is a time of waiting for me. I'm waiting to hear back on what may turn out to be a really cool thing for next year. Plus I've made a decision on my next big challenge for next year. More on those later.


View From the Phlipside - Unsocial Media

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

It's probably one of the newest concerns for parent right now about our kids. Beyond their grades and drugs and sex and just the general overall cruddy economic conditions parents are worried about kids and electronic gadgets. Specifically how much time our kids spend on their electronic gadgets. Turns out its not just teens who may be affected but all of us who are spending more and more time connected to our computers, our smart phones and other electronics.

A study back in 2006 has been pointed to as saying that all this time connected to our virtual lives might be limiting the diversity of our real lives. We were, according to that study, becoming more isolated from our fellow human beings because we weren't coming up for air as often as we had ten years before. The negative effects on society in general were profound because we were exposed to fewer outside points of view and that resulted in a narrowing of our opinions since we had fewer people to be involved in our lives.

The good news is that it may not be as bad as all that. The Pew Institute's Internet Personal Networks and Community survey says that the exact opposite may be taking place. People who spend a significant portion of their lives connected digitally actually have larger networks of people with whom they discuss serious issues. And what is referred to as their "core network" the people they consider most important in their lives can be up to twenty five percent larger than average. So increased use of technology actually increases the diversity of thought we hear. In an area like ours, which is not diverse in many ways, being plugged in can be an excellent way to stay in touch with more people and ideas.

Looking back at the original study is instructive as well. The internet was pointed to merely as one possible factor in the isolation of a certain portion of the American public. Other factors included longer commuting distances, more people living alone and lower voluntary group memberships. The interesting thing to note is that isolation is pretty much the only result of those factors unlike the technology. Probably the best thing that can arise from our plugged in state is connecting with friends and arranging to meet them somewhere face to face. The Pew study shows that's still the favorite method of connecting with the most important people in our lives.

Funny enough, that's what the teens have been doing all along.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

View From the Phlipside - NaNoWriMo 4

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

Well it's finally done. The National Novel Writing Month has come to an end. So has my experiment in trying to write fifty thousand words of a novel in 30 days. I'll tell how I did in just a minute. Looking back I have to admit that I really wasn't sure that I could pull it off. I knew that my daughter, a much more dedicated writer than I've ever been, had failed on her first two attempts. I also knew that because of work related projects November was a terrible month to try and get through a project like this.

But hey, my daughter wanted me to try. So I said yes. It would be a fun kind of daddy and daughter thing for a month.

Along the way I discovered or make that RE-discovered one of the great joys of my life. Story telling. With training as an actor and a career in radio that had always been mostly about story telling anyway it was such a fundamental part of my life I'd kind of taken it for granted. Now I was challenging myself to really go for it, to create a story and spin it out. Radio is designed for the short story form, a couple of minutes tops and a cloud of dust. At least the kind of radio that I did for all those years. So I'd gotten pretty good at the quick hitting story. Set the bare bones scene, find the emotional center and make your point. The NaNoWriMo challenge took me to a whole different place. The novel needs more depth, more nuance and a longer build to the climax. It has stretched me in new directions and given me back a joy in story telling that I hadn't felt in some time.

The format of the contest is interesting too. By creating a culture that doesn't encourage editing you are given the push you need to move past that carping critical internal editor. The one who points out all the misspellings, who reminds you that your concept is dumb and questions the quality of every sentence you put down. For a month I've sent that nasty inner voice on vacation. And the words have come pouring out. Sure I'll need to do a rewrite, I already know that several points from early in the writing have been changed a month later. I'll do that in the second draft. A place I've almost never made it to before. Thanks NaNoWriMo.

So how'd I do? As of 11:25 Sunday night I hit fifty thousand, one hundred and forty words. I did it, with a full day to spare. Of course my daughter beat me by four days. But that's OK. And it makes a great story.

Call that the view from the Phlipside