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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

The Producer (East Coast Edition)

Friday, February 22, 2008

After reading yesterday's post about The Producer on Not Prince Hamlet, the New York Times went ahead and jumped on the bandwagon. You can check out his NY Times page here.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 10:51 PM | link | 0 comments |

The Producer

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Not Prince Hamlet congratulates our friend for his inaugural appearance in the Hollywood trade papers. His upstart production company, Scatter Light Productions, has signed on to direct a horror/thriller film called "Curve."

Here's the blurb from the Hollywood Reporter:

"Scatter Light Prods. has picked up 'Curve,' a woman-in-jeopardy thriller from Kimberly Lofstrom Johnson.

The company's founding principal, Chris Billig, and vp production Nathan Miller are producing, as is Neal Flaherty via his newly created Royal Prospect shingle. Chris Bender and J.C. Spink of Benderspink also are producing."

Good work Chris. You can read more about "Curve" at Bloody Disguisting, Killer Movies, Shock Till You Drop, and, of course, Variety.

The film is expected out in 2009.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 5:11 PM | link | 5 comments |

The Missio Flamingo

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"To take a thing and make a joke out of it is not to take it in vain. It is, on the contrary, to take it and use it for an uncommonly good object."
G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Not to stretch this to ridiculous proportions, but running around the community and clandestinely planting lawn flamingos in the yards of the unsuspecting has about it an air of mission.

This is a blatantly public act. And while lawn ornaments hardly compel one to serious religious consideration, consider the buzz appeal that they create. People are asking their neighbors about them; co-workers arriving to carpool want to know how they got there; commuters want in on the act.

Since last Friday I've received phone calls at the church office from five people wanting to "flock" someone. Four of these callers have had absolutely no connection with the congregation, not to mention its youth group. That the gag is a fundraiser for a youth mission trip is only an added bonus, a secondary consideration. The primary appeal is getting in on something that is happening in public.

And that has a certain gospel ring to it.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 9:23 PM | link | 2 comments |

Confirmation Concussion

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Months before I was to start at The Church, I got an email from the Head of Staff telling me that one of my first official acts of Associate Pastor-ship would be to take the confirmation class on a weekend retreat. The plans were already made: the cabin was rented, the other adult leader was in place, and the dates were set for the first weekend after I'd started.

I panicked a little. I've never led a confirmation retreat before (I never even participated in confirmation). Also, I didn't know these young people at all, and I would have only a minimal chance to do so before we left. As the dates kept creeping closer and closer on the calendar, my anxiety about it grew worse and worse. It was the perfect setup for me to lay a massive ministerial egg right out of the gate.

But something calmed me down in the run-up to the retreat. Partly that my predecessor, the Interim Associate Pastor who had led the confirmation class since October, was going and would help with the planning, and partly that what I'd seen of the kids themselves was utterly disarming, a calm emerged that made packing a bag and planning 9th grade doctrinal conversations relaxing.

I decided to view the three days as a chance more to form some communal patterns and less to achieve some kind of creedal certainty. We used morning prayer, grace at mealtimes, and evening prayer each day to structure our time together. We went on a hike. We had snowball fights (in which I got struck in the head and began to bleed--better the pastor than one of the kids, right?). And in between, the conversations happened. Question were asked that paved the way to a joint exploration of the scaffolding of faith.

Who is Jesus? What does the "holiness" of the church imply? What is worship for? What's our mission?

Nobody arrived at any answers by the time we left, but these young people and their adult "guides" had begun to seriously reflect on the questions. And, to my mind, that's a promising start to a life together.

And I somehow got to be part of the birthing of a new standard for pastors at The Church: if you're not bleeding, you're not really working.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 6:31 AM | link | 0 comments |

Back in The Saddle (or On Returning To The Pastorate After a Seven-Month Stint As A Waiter

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

It started on Monday: meetings, files, emails, voicemails, and about 20 pink flamingos staring me in the face.

God help me.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 7:03 AM | link | 1 comments |

The Waiter Chronicles: Last Day (redux)

Friday, February 08, 2008

By 1:00 the dining room was dead, so I took off my tie and apron and printed my batch report. Fifteen dollars on three tables: bad. Really bad. So bad that I take a moment to feel some sympathy for Grandpa, Pepe, and Junior. This is what I'm leaving them.

A couple parties of two wandered in a little after 1:00. Grandpa could handle them with his eyes closed, but something sentimental inside made me re-don my apron and take "one last table." Easy stuff. A pizza, a ravioli, coke, iced tea. The women linger over their lunch, and as they do I'm thinking ahead to the rest of the afternoon. I texted Pepe earlier to come up and see me, but he never responded. Oh well.

The rear doorbell rings, and around the back corner comes Junior and What (as we've come to call one of the bussers). Pepe follows soon after, and it becomes clear that they're here for a reason. Finally, the other Owner arrives, windblown from a motorcycle ride from the city, and places are set around table 43. Wine glasses are set and appetizers are ordered.

It's a lunch. The Owners, the waiters, the bussers, and me. I'm choking on the realization.

Pepe asks me what I want to eat, and I tell him, "Whatever you think I should have."

"You ever had the lamb shank?" he asks.

"No." He turns resolutely to the computer and taps in the order, grinning and eagerly pulling at the few hairs that protrude from his chin.

I clock out and ceremoniously return my card to The Owner, who receives it with a broad smile. We all sit and enjoy a fabulous lunch. The Owners have a gift for "la bambina": a pair of baby booties and a Target gift card. I'm touched.

The Owner mandates that I will say a blessing over the capasante, gamberi con fagioli, and calamari that Nando (the other busser) is placing on the table. This is a dear thing about him that I have loved from the beginning. A man of deep skepticism and loud objections to institutional religions, he has a fixed insistence upon the celestial order of things and our part in petitioning the heavens. His pleas for me to pray for him stopped seeming like jokes months ago.

I return thanks for good friends and good gifts, and I ask God's blessings on all of us in the days ahead. At the "Amen," Pepe feigns emotion, placing a clenched fist to his chest and moaning through pursed lips. I pat his shoulder and laugh. All that's left to do is to enjoy the table. Tell funny stories, laugh over-zealously, and pour more wine. It's beautiful, and I don't deserve it.

It's a living tableau of grace, given to the clumsy by the Hell-bent, and shared among people who, months ago, had no reason to care about the existence of one another. When the wife unexpectedly arrives to join in, it can't get any better.

And so it doesn't.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 7:15 PM | link | 6 comments |

The Waiter Chronicles: Last Day

It is the last day today. In at 10:30 to open, serve lunch, and then it's over. It's not an ending I ever expected to be very thoughtful about, and yet I'm finding myself a little sad. The cast of characters that has made up my life these last seven months will stay in place, doing what they do, but I won't be there to enjoy it.

Yet, neither will I be there to suffer from it.

I've got Angry Chef's phone number in my contact list, and a couple of times this week I've thought that I should call him up, give him a proper farewell. I've not seen or heard from him since that blurry December night when he told me what to do with myself and then disappeared into the night, never to be heard from again. I don't know if I'll pursue that thought.

I've gone so far as to assemble a playlist to burn for Pepe, but I don't have any cd's, so it'll probably not see the light of day. That's okay. There's something a little bit forced about somebody like myself forcing music onto a 21 year old dynamo like Pepe, even if it does arise out of a genuine desire to share something good.

I stopped by a little boutique on the way home yesterday to pick up a little something for The Owners. I'd had in mind for awhile that I would leave them with a chalice and plate set, a quasi theological statement about their restaurant as a shared table where people are welcomed and find, em, communion. But those are a lot more expensive than I'd realized. In the end I settled an a small iron cross that I hope will make a contribution to the life of the place.

Waiterrant wrote awhile back that the restaurant world "can be like a comfortable womb" for those who work in it. You come at the start of your shift, and you leave at the end. What's expected of you is constant. You don't have health benefits or weekends, but it's predictable and safe; at times, the cash is fantastic. I never envisioned anything other than a thoughtless and sudden transition out of this "womb," yet I suspect that the coming days and weeks will have their moments of . . . something--nostalgia, maybe?

That'll be for the good. It will mean that this experience has been good. Which is worlds away from what I thought it would be when I wrote this:

"It occurred to me as I walked home this afternoon that I don't need this. Ten years ago I would have seen it as a test of character. I would have regarded the breaking glasses and the raging inferiority complex as a sort of challenge to be overcome. To ingratiate myself to those people by proving myself minimally competent, even good, at what I was hired to do would have become a measure of my abilities. I would endure it to prove to myself that I could. But I don't need to do that anymore. I don't need to prove anything to myself, at least not as it pertains to balancing dishes on a tray. I so don't need this.

Only I do. Because otherwise I'm unemployed, and somehow that seems worse than this. But not by much.


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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 7:01 AM | link | 0 comments |

Super Tuesday

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I endorsed Biden, and he folded.

I leeeaned towards Edwards, and he folded.

"Stop!" they urged me. "Stop before you kill all the candidates."

Friends, today is election day in California.

I have voted.

I have connected the lines on my Democratic Party of Riverside County absentee ballot and staked my claim in the city's, the county's, the state's, and the country's future.

Enough of the suspense.

After much careful thought, soul searching, and deliberation, I have voted for . . .

. . .

. . .

"Yes." The number of roosters one may own in the city should be limited to seven.

Upon news of my vote, several prominent roosters have left the city.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 9:19 AM | link | 0 comments |