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Crossing The Streams

Crossing The Streams: High Risk, Higher Reward.

There we were, side by side at the ol’ QT Coffee Station.

He was young and black and decked out in a standard Gangsta getup of neck tattoos, laceless Nike Airs and three-quarter shorts that started at mid-skivvy and ended just above the ankles.

I was “seasoned” and white and clad in the company-issue Killjoy uniform of reading glasses, starched Polo shirt, dull khakis and neatly tied Skechers.

He was in no mood to talk to me because his plans for this glorious day did not include mingling with “the man.” I was in no mood to talk to him because my plans for this glorious day did not include getting “capped”.

He was humming and I was humming, both of us humming softly in our own little urban island worlds as we accessorized our assembly-line coffees.

He reached for a straw and I reached for a lid. Our arms crossed and touched. The streams crossed.

Now, anybody who’s seen Ghostbusters knows the streams should never cross. Bad idea. Thanks for that important safety tip, Ray. Continue reading

17

Got Gumpshun?

Poor Forrest Gump, bless his heart. He’s shed the leg braces and the frailty that made him a boyhood target of ‘Bama bullies, but he still hasn’t found his missing “marbles.” Forrest is what you might call a little bit slow.

Through it all, he’s maintained a sweet spirit, an appetite for life and the innocence of a child. That combination has served him well.

He’s been a college football hero, a model soldier and an international ping-pong star. He’s been on the Tonight Show. He’s rubbed elbows with celebrities. He’s met the President, and he’s met the President uh-ginn!

Only in his 20’s, Forrest has enjoyed more success than most people could hope for in a lifetime. But now he’s hit the wall.

His beloved Mama has died. His precious Jenny has abandoned him. Overwhelmed by the complexities of life and the frustrating simplicity of his own mind, Forrest reaches a point of such sadness and confusion that he simply runs out the front door.

When he gets to the end of his long, dirt lane, he decides to “keep runnin’.” At the edge of tiny Greenbow, he keeps runnin’. At the state line, he keeps runnin’. Word spreads: Forrest Gump is running!

Speculation builds: Why is Forrest Gump running? Conclusions are drawn: Forrest Gump is running because he has…The Answer!

While Forrest runs because he can’t even run his own life, others begin to follow because they want him to run theirs. Remind you of a song?

The hair and beard grow long and wild. By the time Forrest reaches the California coast, he has taken on the classic look of a full-blown guru, and a handful of disciples has fallen in behind him.

Like desperate peasants grasping for the cloak of Christ, the boldest followers begin to seek Continue reading

80

How Drunk is Drunk Enough?

If you’ve never seen “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” take a look. Although it’s not officially a comedy, it’s filled with laughs, not to mention love, and it’s the inspiration for this installment of Hollywood Testifies.

Randolph Junah, played by Matt Damon, is an amateur golfer from Savannah. He does things on a golf course that nobody’s ever seen, and it makes him a local legend while he’s still a teenager.

But then Junah must go off to fight in World War I. There he serves with distinction and bravery, quickly rising to the rank of captain. In his final battle, his Company is wiped out and he’s the sole survivor.

The war ends, but the Junah who returns to Savannah is not the Junah who left.

He feels guilty about surviving. He’s traumatized by the horrific memory of the grisly battle. He spurns his fiancée, played by Charlize Theron. He gives up golf, drops out of real life and becomes a pathetic drunk.

Soon, Captain Junah’s life consists of little more than the company of lowly buddies, hanging out in a gloomy country shack, playing poker and sharing “wisdom” from a bottle.

One night a bony, 10 year-old boy named Hardy appears in the dark doorway of the shack. Continue reading

34

Suppression of Essence

In “Blazing Saddles,” Mel Brooks is the clueless, cock-eyed governor of a lawless western state. To emphasize his status, he has even had the letters “GOV” taped to the back of his suit.

Always alarmed by any resistance to his selfish ambitions, the GOV has assembled his cabinet of bureaucratic henchmen to deal with the latest threat: A small, feisty town which refuses to yield to the GOV’s dastardly dream of a monopolistic railroad.

The rebel village is led by Sheriff Cleavon Little, a glamorous black cowboy who sports a Gucci saddle, and Marty Feldman, an apathetic gunslinger and recovering drunk whose shooting hand quivers due to years of a liquor-only diet.

Pacing frantically at the podium of the gubernatorial conference room, the GOV sums up the urgency of the situation by declaring, “Men, we’ve got to protect our phoney-baloney jobs!”

At this passionate plea, all but one of the governor’s henchmen respond with hardy harrumphs. “Harrumph! Harrumph!” they gobble, nodding their heads and bobbing their shoulders like so many buzzards frolicking around an antelope carcass.

Suddenly, the governor wheels on the podium and jabs an accusing finger in the general direction of a single henchman (remember he’s cock-eyed, so his aim is suspect).

“Hey,” he grumbles, “I didn’t get a “harrumph” outta that guy.” He then fixes a menacing glare in the general direction of the lone dissenter and hisses, “You watch it, Mister!” Continue reading

3

“I Wanna Ween!” (Nacho Libre)

Nacho Libre (Jack Black) is a young man who has grown up in a Mexican monastery after losing his parents (“My mom was a Lutheran and my dad was a priest. They tried to convert each other. Instead, they got married.”). Since childhood, Jack has dreamed of being a “luciador,” or professional wrestler, and he has gone as far as making his own costume from stolen couch upholstery, rosary beads and aquarium stone. Also, he secretly adorns himself the glorious stage name, “Nacho Libre,” which, loosely translated, means free nachos.

The name, Nacho Libre, is significant. Jack’s lifestyle, as well as that of the orphans whom he shepherds, is one of poverty and hunger. Jack’s “that does it” moment comes when, while faithfully performing his dreaded duties as monastery cook, he is forcibly relieved of a large bag of tortilla chips by a lawless vagrant, who ultimately becomes his tag-team wrestling partner.  Continue reading

Hollywood Testifies

Writer John Eldredge has observed that Hollywood is the modern Nebuchadnezzar and we are all potential “Daniels.” Just as Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams, we can often perceive in movies a spiritual message that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Since John got first choice, he took the big-budget epics with sweeping, good-vs.-evil themes. That leaves you and me with the comedies, which is really cool because truth, as it turns out, can often be found at the core of humor.

Comedies are un-staked gold mines of spiritual insight. This makes perfect sense when we observe that brilliant comics have one thing in common: They are devout students of human nature and the human condition.

We welcome contributions to Hollywood Testifies. As with TommyGlossary, if we like it, we’ll swipe it…AND we’ll send you a mug! Send your insights to ……..(tommy at laymanator.com)