Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Marajohn Man

My brother, John Todd Ramsey won the "Funniest Person in Austin" contest back in May of 2005. A couple of months ago, he was interviewed by the Austin-American Statesman.
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This picture accompanied said interview.
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In addition to his work as a comedian and lawyer, John found time to, as he put it on his myspace, "spread the gospel for 26.2 miles." He actually wore that shirt as a kid. I'm not sure if he made it or just found it. In any case, he either created a work of genius or had the genius (and humility) to recognize the works of other geniuses.
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John Ramsey playing Phillip Washington (aka Mr. 0010) in Washington's Cross. John, if you're reading, you can now replace that old Washington's Cross picture on your myspace.
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Monday, May 29, 2006

In Memoriam

This post is in honor of Jack and Asher Sublett, and Willard Chancey, my wife's grandfather who served bravely in the air force during World War II.

On March 13, 2006 my Step-Grandfather, Jack Sublett, a World War II veteran passed away at the age of 80. I have posted the eulogy I delivered at his funeral and a link to an article I found about his family's hope that they would one day be able to give a proper funeral to his brother, Asher who was killed in The Korean War.
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I first met Jack when I was eight years old and my brother, John, was five. We had come to visit our Grandmother, and she invited us to Captain D’s to meet her new “friend.” It soon became apparent that this man was more than a friend. If I remember correctly, I liked him by the time we left Capt. D's, but maybe that’s revisionist history on my part. John was still skeptical. I guess he was willing to exert the extraordinary amount of effort it was obviously going to take to not like this man.

Any resistance on either of our parts was short lived. Soon after our first meeting, Grandmother took my mother, John, and I to “Sublett’s Barber Shop.” There was a lot of stuff in there that I had never seen before, and Jack kindly explained to us what everything was. We then noticed a piece of machinery there with which we were very familiar: the gumball machine. We knew how that worked -at least we thought we did, until Jack used it. He pulled a coin out of his pocket and inserted it into the machine and asked John what color he wanted. Like I said, I knew gumball machines and they don’t just give you what color you want. Your stuck with that you get. “What color do you want? “ He asked again. “Green” John said with either the disinterest or cynicism needed to prevent inevitable disappointment. “Okay, you want green?” “Yes,” said John. Jack turned the knob. We heard the ball roll out and hit the machine’s door. Jack lifted the door. Green. No way!

I stepped forward as a silent gesture indicating that I wanted to try. “What color do you want? “ he asked inserting the next coin. “Blue.” He turned the knob; we heard the roll, then the clank as it hit the door. Jack moved the door. Yes. He had done it again. It was blue. “How did you do that?” Surely this was coincidence…or a trick. We he had to see it again to figure out how he was doing this, since he refused to tell us. This time we picked red. Turn, roll, and clank. Red. Why hadn’t anyone else thought to make a gumball machine that responded to voice command? As amazing as this was, there was an uneven amount. If John had two, then I needed two, and I wanted white. We left Sublett’s barbershop with four gumballs: Green, Blue, Red, and White, and a story we would talk until this day. John and I both thought to tell it today, but he was gracious enough to let me.

Years later, we asked Jack how he did it. “Oh, that was just luck,” he said. Well, I don’t believe in luck. I do believe in the supernatural. Perhaps this was God’s way of giving us peace about this new man in our lives, and letting us know that he was going to be our grandfather, things were going to be good with him, and if we wanted something, even if it seemed impossible, we could just ask.
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The article about Jack and Asher:
Soldiers' families hope bodies can come home
Science helps to ID war dead
By Bruce Schreiner
The Associated Press

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Jack and "Chancey," we love you. (Matthew 22:31-32)
Love,
Richie, Kristina, and the Bug

"Here's Another Clue For You All..."

Stills from a film I made for Sagemont Church's Student Ministry; my first venture in Cultural Subversion:
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Stevie finds the Machine
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Pam and Rita
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Cultural Subversion: How I'm Gonna Bring 'Em All Down

There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him.
-C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce
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Coming Soon from Aletheia Stage & Film Co.: A Mind-Expanding Experiment in Cultural Subversion.
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Excerpt from:
The Subversion of Christianity
by Jacques Ellul

"We can find traces of Egyptian texts (Job and many other books) and Assyrican-Chaldean texts throughout the Hebrew Bible. Even in Ecclesiastes there is thinking of an incontestably Greek or Egyptian origin. Everyone knows, too, that Paul draws much inspiration from Stoicism in his moral advice. But can we be sure that these cultural texts express God's revelation? Or might it be that revelation does not belong exclusively to the Jews? Are there not manifestations of it among other peoples? In my view, the crucial point in the borrowings is the way in which the texts are treated. Never are Babylonian or Iranian or Egyptian or Greek texts inserted just as they are, in their own identity. They are used, and they are always used polemically, that is to show that the point of the text in question is irrelvant and false.

Throughout the Bible, as regards surrounding cultures, there are what situationists call 'reorientation.' One of the forms of revolutionary action that they have proposed is that of taking a text and giving its objective sense a new turn so as to make it say something else. This is exactly what the Jewish and Christian writers did. They took a text and applied it to a different situation. They changed certain terms and put the text in a context that altered its original sense...even though the phrases remain the same, the meaning is radically broken.

...Thus the Hebrews are set in the midst of cultures: they do not shut themselves off from them, they know and use them, but they make them say other things. This is the subversion of culture."


"Say the Word and you'll be free.
Say the Word and be like me.
Say the Word I'm thinking of.
Have you heard the Word is 'Love?'"
-The Word by The Beatles
(John 1:1; 1 John 4:8,16)

Peace.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

"Shake" it up!

My friend Asher Castillo, who I met during preproduction for "The Oath," is going to be doing some compositing and color correction work on the film with a program by Apple called "Shake." The following before and after still frames serve as one of the many miracles Asher was able to perform with this program for the film's trailer.
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Santry Rush as Jaques Renard in the midst of the original, and dreadfully flat, lighting.
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Here Santry, appears in lighting created by Asher Castillo in Apple's Shake.
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In other news, I have finally posted Aletheia Stage & Film Co.'s mission on our website. You can also get a subtle sneak peak at our next project by clicking on the "coming soon" link and then clicking the photo of the silhoutted guy with the fro. Stay tuned! It's gonna be gear!

Two Things I Will No Longer Say

About a year and half ago, I decided that I was going to exorcise two popular phrases (or accusations rather) from my filmmaking vocabulary:

"Preaching to the choir."
"Casting pearls before swine."

Although I realize the first most likely originates from wit and good intentions, and the second originates from divine wisdom, the fact remains that, in the context of filmmaking, these phrases typically translate into a false dilemma: Do I want to consider Christians my target audience, or do I want to consider non-Christians my target audience? If I choose the former, I'll be accused (even if by myself) of "preaching to the choir"; wasting all my time and resources to bring a message to those who've not only already heard it, but have accepted it. If I choose the latter, I will be accused of "casting pearls before swine"; wasting all my time and resources in the hopeless cause of bringing a message to those who've not only already rejected it, but always will.

Eventually, I was able to translate these phrases into the misguided, dangerous implications and assumptions that they made:

“Christians do not derive benefit from hearing the Word of God.”
“Non-Christians do not derive benefit from hearing the Word of God.”

Both of these phrases are in direct conflict with Scripture, which makes it clear that bringing the word of God to those who believe and those who don't is not an act of frivolity or futility.

I have decided to take a different and contextualized directive from Jesus regarding to whom I will speak. I say contextualized because, given this directive's original context, it's more fitting to the profession of filmmaking than the too often decontextualized "pearls before swine" charge. I have decided I will speak to the same person Jesus addressed when he would illustrate an eternal truth through storytelling. I will speak to "he who has ears to hear."

Monday, May 22, 2006

Stones (or Stone's) in the News

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"This is offensive. Therefore, we must make it false." -Stone from "Washington's Cross"
Stone (played by Santry Rush) provides inspiration for a site chronicling contemporary examples of postmodernism's intellectual and spiritual bankruptcy.
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The "Washington's Cross" Website is currently under construction, and I am excited to announce a special feature that will be on the site: a Stones in the News page. The site takes its name from the "Washington's Cross" character chiefly responsible for persecuting Phillip Washington for believing that George Washington crossed the Delaware. The "Stones" page will provide links to various articles about those in our society who exhibit Stone-like behavior. Subjects include: The latest attempt by radical homosexual activists to criminalize dissent; one high school's attempt to circumvent the 1st amendment by equating religious speech with profanity, and another school's banning of the Declaration of Independence because the founding document mentions God. Click here for a preview.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Here Comes the Prom King

Well, first things first. Being from Kentucky, I'm probably not the first Ramsey to attend prom with his spouse, but at least I'm actually out of High School. Being a teacher, I attended our prom as a chaperone. Until I get the picture on my blog, you will have to look at it by clicking here. This is very different from my actual high school prom pictures, in that I have a lot less hair and feel a lot more relaxed around my date. If you want a commentary on the prom itself, well, here it is: My daughter's not going to her's. That's all there is to it.

Two nights before, I went to the High School Academic Banquet. My brother, John was the speaker. Having graduated from the University of Texas' Law School, and having recently been awared the title of "Austin's Funniest Man," those in charge must have thought he would serve as a model, to which students can aspire. Unfortunately, he may have also served as a stark contrast to me. I fear I will burn under the gaze of Sauron's red eye.
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The Brothers Ramsey: Seth, Wil, John and myself. John charmed the students, faculty, and administrators as the speaker at the High School Academic Banquet; deftly reminding them which Ramsey was not a model student, did not meet two U.S. Presidents, and did not graduate from the prestigous UT Law School.
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The day after prom, Kristina, Bug, and I went to my mother-in-law's house. There was a storm that took out the power in a very isolated area. It went out around 2:00pm and did not come on until after we left around midnight. Here are some pictures that capture the harrowing ordeal:
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The great black-out of aught six. Up to two whole suburban blocks were deprived of elictricity, forcing dozens to go without modern necessities like cable, internet, and xbox 360. We were forced to sustain our meager existence by eating smores.
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In an attempt to mask my distress and appear strong for the sake of my daughter, we danced to The Beatles. Having no stereo, we were forced to listen to the famous band from my brother-in-law's suped up sound system installed in his truck. Bug's age and love for "Hey Jude" hindered her ability to discern the difference. Due to repeated listening, "Hey Jude" is her favorite song. As the scripture teaches, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6. We all had to cling to our faith in such dark times. No pun intended.
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Friday, May 12, 2006

The Oath Notes

If anyone was wanting insight into the state of my mind during the viewing of my own film, I stumbled across a pristine example. Posted below are notes I took while watching an edit of The Oath back in January [19th, to be exact]. For some reason, I typed these in the computer. So they, unlike a novel of hand-written notes now residing at the local landfill, have been saved for posterity.

I don't even know what many of these mean anymore, which I guess is a good thing.

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David Attebury & Erin Arnold in "Scene 11" The Oath.
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Live type opening
Foggy fade out in 0
Live Type Credits
Castle broll
Handwriting will broll
Pan up for scene
Helene –look alright alright
Set ladle down looks odd
Wise to welcome him –sound
Pan bounce when claire comes off stairs
More pause before so embarrassing -?
How barbaric then linger
Appreciate your concern –could come in after pause?
Look at 1st stick hand off
Servant and services reaction from Mat is too extreme I think
Look at renard hop up in 4
Look at Simone reveal
Tone down too loud sound
Thank you julien shorter pause that is what I have told him 6
Go through and find unscripted ADR
-phil’s altercation outside wth dr and ren
cut between master in scene 6
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Loren Grush, Kayleen Clements, & Kristina Ramsey in "Scene 6" of The Oath.
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"if the Lord has" cut pause down before line… he looks dumbstrucj
cuts are too fast in will scene
-save the speed for the climax of the will scene
put music back in will
put music throughout
confound it boy edit
pan for humbly take my leave
very well let us all
here luc’s voice before cut away from Claire –maybee put maddy back in helping her leave
slomo Julien’s reaction to Helene’s I know you have the ring
bearing burden line –too much like lotr??
Maybe cut Helene’s look to window just have her looking wryly at Jul
Look at scene 8
Look doc in 9 does it work??
Phil slomo look to Jul
Maybe only keep Claire a walk around the garden
Sustain master after Julien’s exit
I’m warm –look at it
Celestial beauty interchange –maybne rearrange lines
ADR-Julien! [I must speak]pan on Renard’
Pan on Renard’s approach
Maybe show renard approach first
Luc door open edit
Pan or edit on luc going to table
Speed up Doc hit Mat??
Phil 1st entrance second cut 15
Claire cut across in 15 all is undone??
pan on phil entrance 2
Excuse us slight longer pause on Santry
Liars slandering through ring reveal
Linger on Ren’s door slam slightly longer
Pan on horsey bidniss
Julien’s all her life decision
Were that I would marry one –close up on Claire sooner
More on maddy’s pullaway after kiss –the maddy angle
Add no it is how I will woin what is mine
Boom mic in desormeau who crossed me??
Remix fight music
Fight jump cut
Speed up pust to gate and knee in stomach
Put back girls running up after push through gate
Renard scream with stab
ADR –don’t kill me
Show Helene approachin Julien’s close up after Doc leaves
Forgive me –reedit profession of love –with sound
Maddy Hug come in later


Now, if I could just find some "Washington's Cross" notes...

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

The Bug in San Marcos


The highlight of the trip to Austin was spending quality time with my beautiful daughter. Here we are sharing a milkshake at Johnny Rocket's Diner in the Outlet Mall in San Marcos, TX.



The Bug wows the crowd as she dances "The Last Dance" with the Diner's Waiters. It would seem that her fate as a performer is sealed.

Monday, May 8, 2006

Miller beats Bolt; Kazaan Beats Miller

Well, I'm back from Austin with the results. Friendswood High School's production of A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt placed third at the State Contest. Second place went to Athens High School's production of Ghetto by Joshua Sobol. The play is about Jewish performance artists in the Vilna Ghetto during WWII who put on a play at the request of a Nazi Officer. I wish I had paid more attention to the production, but Bass Concert Hall is a very large venue and, seeing how I was seated toward the back, I couldn't understand nine out of ten lines and mentally checked-out. The title of State Champions went to Montgomery High School for their production of A View From the Bridge. I unfortunately opted to skip that production because I had already seen it at the Regional contest and considered it, at the time, to be a worthy second place to Friendswood. Apparently, the Regional judge agreed; seeing as he gave Friendswood most of the acting awards, including best actor (Wesley Paul Stuart) and Best Actress (Erin Arnold). However, my brother decided to watch A View From the Bridge and reported that it had significantly improved both in its staging and acting and, as a result, was a fantastic show. Many people who had seen both performances confirmed this, leaving me wishing I had seen it.

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The cast of A Man for All Seasons. Center foreground, facing off: Wesley Paul Stuart and David Attebury. Far right: Seth Ramsey
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A View From the Bridge is Arthur Miller's communist-sympathizing, self-vindicating rebuttal to Bud Schulberg's and Elia Kazaan's legendary film On the Waterfront. During the 1930s Kazaan and Miller were collaborators, friends, and among many of New York City's famed Group Theatre who were involved in the Communist Party. By the time the "McCarthy era" rolled around, both were called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). When asked to confess their affiliation with Communism and to provide names of those who also had such ties, Schulberg and Kazaan obliged, Miller refused. Both Kazaan and Miller severed their personal and professional relationship.

However, before doing so, both men had begun development on a project about life on the gritty, dangerous docks of New York City. Each saw their initial vision come to fruition, but with very different results and, no doubt, pointed barbs intended to wound the other. Where as Kazaan's film glorifies the idea of the informant through the tormented Terry Malloy, who must summon the courage to testify against the mob; Miller's play vilifies the idea of "the rat" through the cowardly, immoral Eddie Carbone who betrays two fellow Italians (one of whom threatens Carbone's incestuous obsession with his niece) by calling Immigration. Though Miller's play is incredibly written and enjoys successful productions to this day, On the Waterfront was the greater success and is now heralded as one of the greatest films of all time.

I can see why. I sympathize with Terry Malloy, and thus Kazaan, when he defiantly tells the mob (representing the communist infiltration of Hollywood), "I'm glad what I've done to you! [To the crowd] You Hear Me! [Back to the mob] I'm glad what I done!" To speak plainly, I'm glad about what Kazaan did as well -The McCarthy era's alleged, rampant infringement of civil liberties aside. Those who continue to revere Miller at Kazaan's expense diminish the significance of the cultural terror that Miller and other "Cultural Marxists" sought to wreak upon the West. Though Miller's plays are skillfully written, nuanced, and contain much truth about the human condition, he and others opened the door to the impoverished aesthetics that are rampant in modern theatre and cinema and are disintegrating Western civilization.

If you would like more information on the pervasive influence Cultural Marxism has had on the American Theatre and Cinema, I highly recommend Geoff Botkin's "Hollywood's Most Despised Villain."

Friday, May 5, 2006

Touring with Thomas Moore

Tomorrow I am traveling to Austin, TX to see my youngest brother Seth and various actors from The Oath perform Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons in Bass Concert Hall at the University of Texas. I've had the privilege of seeing the show performed numerous times at previous competitions, and this particular contest is for the State Championship. I know I am biased, toward the actors and traditional aesthetics, but it has been particularly enjoyable to watch this Christian-themed production defeat other plays littered with aesthetic elements antithetical to Christianity (Religious faith is dangerous and destructive, Clergy are ineffectual at best and corrupt at worst, War is ALWAYS evil because self-preservation is the greatest good).
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The cast of A Man for All Seasons. Center foreground, facing off: Wesley Paul Stuart and David Attebury. Far right: Seth Ramsey
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For those of you unfamiliar with A Man for All Seasons, it recounts the life and martyrdom of Sir Thomas Moore, the devout Catholic who refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of Henry VIII's divorce and his claim to be head of the Church. The script's message is particularly challenging and haunting, because Bolt, through the use of his author's character, "The Common Man," continually reminds us that people with Moore's steadfast convictions are the exception and not the rule; not just in Moore's time, but in all times.

Men like Thomas Moore, Francis of Assisi, and Deitrich Bonhoeffer, are often held up as proof that the Church has, throughout history, consistently abandoned pragmatism to confront evil. The noted rarity of such men seems to indicate that the opposite is true.

When I return, I will let you know how the play fared.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Watching "Washington's Cross" again for the first time

This past weekend I had the pleasure of seeing one of my former students, Christina Dawkins', student-directed production of "Washington's Cross" at Clear Brook High School in Friendswood, TX. I had been looking forward to seeing it because I've never seen another version of it done. Not to mention, I originally wrote it as a play, and Kristina, Santry, and I initially discussed performing it as such. So, it was thrilling to see a live production for a variety of reasons.

First of all, while our film was clearly an influence in this new stage production, I found the play very refreshing and exciting because Christina and the actors had made their own unique choices. I particularly enjoyed watching as the actors had to cope and adapt to the demands of live theatre. The language of the piece is particularly difficult, which led to a substantial amount of lines requiring many takes during the making of the film. The actors would apologize to me. I wanted to apologize to them...many, many times. So, predictably, there were a couple of line flubs in the live version, and it was pretty interesting to see the actors cope with that, and they did a great job.

It was also a pleasure to watch new faces in the roles. Again, the film was obviously an influence in the casting (a tall Stone; a medium-height, medium build Phil; and a blue & wild eyed Ms. Human), but the performances were nonetheless different. The student-actor who played Stone utilized his unique characteristics and demeanor to effectively capture the eerie, deceptive decorum I've come to affiliate with "secular-progressive" sanctimoniousness. Our young Ms. Human took this to robotic extremes, short-circuits and all. This provided a nice counterpart to the sincerity and humanity of her true self, which emerges later in the play in order to beg Phil to recant. Phillip Washington's cadence, idiosyncrasies, and steadfastness over something so uncontroversial to the audience, seemed to appropriately make them wonder if he actually was criminally insane. It was fun to sit among them as the turning of the tables revealed that it was the lunatics running the asylum.

Christina's pacing of the show was also very commendable. As always happens, a significant number of lines from the script never made it into the film version. Christina left those lines in the play. Though I had, in the process of editing, developed a particular prejudice against those particular lines, under her direction they did not seem superfluous or cause the story to drag.
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After the show with Christina (in Aletheia T-Shirt) and her cast of "Washington's Cross."
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I was also grateful for the opportunity to see the script done in a new way with new performances, because it allowed me to watch it again for the first time. I found myself laughing at my own jokes. Only, they didn't seem like mine. I felt like I was watching and listening to someone else's script.

I also was blessed with exhilarating reminders of why I did write it. I was able to talk with some students at Clear Brook High School, who either being in it or having seen it, had insightful questions about the allegorical nature of the script. It was delightful to share the answers with them. Ironically, before going in to see the play, I overheard a passionate conversation going on outside the theatre between a female student and a male student, who apparently was a Christian. In a nutshell, she was asking him in a rather hostile, insulting tone how he could possibly believe that non-Christians would go to hell. He painfully answered, and I painfully heard: "I don't know." I've grown weary of such questions angrily asked, but I've grown even wearier of such non-answers helplessly offered. That's why I wrote "Washington's Cross." I feel it's a story that needs to be told to a culture that has come to believe that "answers are nothing" and that truth is not discovered but made; by preference, power, or popular opinion. My sincere congratulations and thanks to Christina Dawkins for having the courage to tell it at Clear Brook High School.