The Prodigal Altar Boy

Monday, April 30, 2012



Karen Everett Inner Circle Work:
Finished Inner Circle paperwork and input information for the Inner Circle web page. 
Asked Karen about getting maximum production value from a fixed position, such as Friday's upcoming funeral.

Small Shoot Kit list
  • XL1s
  • Canon batteries
  • Tripod
  • 3X lens
  • 14X manual lens
  • Zoom Q3 (2)
  • AA lithium batteries (8)
  • On board LED light
  • Zoom H4n
  • 32GB memory card
  • 16 GB memory card
  • Mini-DV tape
  • Panasonic 3-chip camera

Music Practice:
Stratocaster Warm-ups
Inversion Excursion work
"So What" Miles Davis
Cmin R&B grove work

Body Work:
L.A. Fitness workout
Barbell Bench press 8X8
Barbell Decline bench press 8X8
Barbell Incline bench press  8X8
Treadmill: 20 minutes 60/30 second interval work.

TQ on Race – Part II
(Excerpted from the paper, Father Thomas J. Quinlan, “Fool For Christ”)

TQ addressed how harmful stereotypes permeated issues such as which mass people attended.  He noted that few whites attended 5:00PM mass at St. Mary’s (predominantly black), “That’s in the black neighborhood, and I’m afraid my car will be stolen. If it were a poor white neighborhood it would be the same thing, but they don’t see that. Black equals bad, bad equals inferior.”  This observation mirrors the findings of Maddox and Gray who found skin color as an important factor in white and black representation of African-Americans (Maddox & Gray, 2002), as well as Dixon and Maddox’s findings that dark skin tone was all that was needed to trigger racially stereotypical associations with black criminals (Dixon &; Maddox, 2005).
Maddox and Gray write that “light skin is generally valued over dark skin,” and TQ observed this first hand, recalling an African-American/Filipino family in the parish where he saw the lighter skinned children were treated better than the dark-skinned youngest son.  He also related how the nuns would choose the light-skinned girls to crown the Virgin Mary during the May Procession.  When asked how he changed predominantly black St. Mary’s views on race, he replies, “When I went there, they were a colored parish,” and relayed how most of the parish hierarchy were “high yellows,” acknowledging, “It’s a skin thing, but it’s a sociological category for me.” 
Part of TQ’s communication strategy with the African-American community was to use his actions as a priest, friend and advocate to reinforce his genuine concern for the parish.  His non-verbal actions had to reinforce his communication.  His observation that it takes a long time for black people to trust someone, especially if they are white, displays cultural sensitivity that showed genuine respect.  He was acutely aware that the black parishioners were constantly observing and evaluating to determine if he really believed in what he said, and if he “practiced what he preached.”  TQ observed that once the Africa-American community was convinced that he considered himself equals with them, he was able to communicate on a deeper level. 
An ongoing effort in the African-American community was to counteract the effects of negative stereotypes.  While actions such as introducing the African-American flag and the seven principles of African unity caused controversy with the whites, and even some blacks within the parish, he wanted to overcome the “clichés”  that were holding African-Americans back.  His efforts predate research by Steele and Aronson on the risk of confirming negative stereotypes about one’s group (Steele & Aronson, 1995), and while their research looked at standardized testing, TQ felt those stereotypes, or “clichés” affect all aspects of self-identity.  Quinlan recalls firing two white nuns at The Basilica of St. Mary’s of the Immaculate Conception, “Because they would not make the school black.”  “They didn’t understand why you have to tell a little black kid, every day, you’ve got to say, ‘I am somebody.’ It sounds like a cliché, it sounds boring, it sounds dull, it sounds stupid to white people, but not to black kids.”  TQ talked about the lack of positive self-image and the pernicious effect of self-hate and emphasized the need to start early in life to instill self-esteem in black children.
TQ emphasized the importance of language, and hinted at the linguistic determinists’ view of language controlling thought (Jandt, 2010, p. 131) when he excoriated black parents for the way they talk to their children.  When a black parent tells a child, “Put your black ass down here,” TQ points out, “There’s no difference between a black ass and a white ass, so why emphasize it?  It’s a hidden form of self-hate, inferiority.”  That observation brings to mind the definition of power distance where less powerful members of a society expect and accept the unequal distribution of power (Jandt, 2010, p. 177).  In addition to expecting and accepting this inequality, TQ took the black community to task for perpetuating this mindset through language.

Works Cited
Maddox, K. B., & Gray, S. A. (2002). Cognitive Representations of Black Americans: Reexploring the Role of Skin Tone. PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY BULLETIN , 28 (2), 250-259.
Dixon, T. L., & Maddox, K. B. (2005). Skin Tone, Crime News, and Social Reality Judgments: Priming the Stereotype of the Dark and Dangerous Black Criminal. Journal of Applied Social Psychology , 35 (8), 1555-1570.
Jandt, F. E. (2010). An Introduction to intercultural communication: Identities in a global community (6th ed.). (T. R. Armstrong, D. Saoud, A. Baker, A. Virding, & G. Dickens, Eds.) Thousand Oaks, California, United States: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Sunday, April 29, 2012



Documentary Work:
Selected readings:
Shaking the Money Tree – Morrie Warshawski
Directing the Documentary – Michael Rabiger
Started charging batteries for funeral shoot
Preliminary shoot kit assembly:
  • XL1s Camera
  • 14X Manual lens
  • 3X wide angle lens
  • LCD monitor kit
  • Lithium “AA” batteries X 8 (for Zoom Q3)
  • 16GB memory card (for Zoom Q3)

Music Practice:
Stratocaster Warm-Ups
“So What”
Inversion Excursion work

Body Work:
Active Rest

TQ Project Updates

The Inner Circle starts tomorrow and I am excited about that.  I am equally excited about the funeral shoot on Friday.  There is a rumor going around that due to the expected turnout, the funeral may move from Holy Family to the Virginia Beach Convention Center.  I should probably call Monsignor Pitt to check the veracity of that and how that affects our agreement that I can shoot the funeral.  I will weigh that decision over the next 24 hours. 

Jesse Wieman is working on two more paintings from the Virginian-Pilot photos.  He started these before TQ’s passing and I look forward to seeing how they turn out.  Working the paintings into the film will be interesting.  While my original idea of dissolving from photo to painting will still work, I think the paintings can convey their own visual story apart from the photographs they are based on. 

Working in Sony ACID with loop idea for the score.  After the funeral, I want to start working with the BOSS Slicer pedal and eventually put together a “soundtrack” pedal board specifically to be set up to generate and capture soundtrack ideas. 

From TQ"s expanded obituary in the 29 April 2012 Virginian Pilot:

"...according to his wishes, TQ will be cremated, and his ashes poured into a jumbo "Chock-Full-O-Nuts" coffee can, which will be placed in the columbarium of St. Kateri Tekakwitha parish, Poquoson, following an Evening Prayer service, on Wednesday, May 9, at 7 p.m. H.D. Oliver Funeral Apts., Laskin Road Chapel is handling arrangements. Online condolences may be made at"

You can't make this up...stay tuned!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Prodigal Altar Boy Blog 180-Day Countdown: Prologue

Prodigal Altar Boy Blog
180-Day Countdown
T+3 Days and Counting

The “Last Hundred Days of 2011” experiment was a success.  Now it is time to stretch out.  At the end of the month, I will be part of Karen Everett’s “Inner Circle 6.0,” which is a six-month program where a group of filmmakers gets together with Karen for group consultation to move their documentary projects along. 

Taking what I learned from the 100-day blog experiment, I am going to do a 180-day blog.  My goal is to blog every day for six months.

Here are my goals for those 180 days:

Goal 1:  2 hours per day working on the film

Goal 2:  30 minutes per day music practice

Goal 3:  30 minutes exercise per day

Now that TQ is gone, finishing the documentary has to move up to the front burner.  In fact, it may have to occupy both front burners (and the back two, too!).  It is just that important.  My mother tells me that TQ made the front page of the Virginian Pilot. I will post that down the road.
What I do have for you is a 1974 TIME Magazine article about TQ.  The title point to what my original thesis for the documentary, the media attention TQ garnered when he did his shock liturgy caused people to fixate on the media hype rather than the adaptation of the Gospel to the 20th (and 21st) century. 

The article is important because it captures a pivotal point in TQ’s journey, as he moves from predominantly white suburban northern Virginia parish to the predominantly African-American urban parish in Norfolk Virginia. I think TQ really hit his stride during his stay at St. Mary’s.  While riding in a Volkswagen or on a forklift into church woke people up, the double adaptation, fusing contemporary cinema and Broadway to the liturgy would blow their minds.  Once launched, it would be impossible to see where the show left off and the liturgy began.  TQ explained at length, “These weren’t gimmicks,” the liturgy committee planned the entire liturgy out.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Prodigal Altar Boy Blog - Rev. Thomas J. Quinlan 23 April 1929 - 24 April 2012

Rev. Thomas J. Quinlan
23 April 1929 - 24 April 2012
Daniel 12:13
"As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance."

TQ passed away this morning.  Yesterday (23 April) was his  83rd  birthday.  The last time I spoke with TQ, he sounded hopeful, and lamented how he was not able to get around.  I still remember the graveside service for my grandmother, where he tied burial to our agrarian roots and the analogy of a seed planted.  The seed must die for the plant within to express its new existence.  He took that moment to remind us that the body that remains is but s shell, and that the spirit moves out into the universe, eternal.  He probably would have disagreed with the verse above, because he did not believe in bodies rising from the grave on judgment day, but in the spirit rising from the body, shooting out into the universe and to heaven. 

I finished the assembly edit of the documentary before he passed and TQ was excited about that.  Now it’s time to turn the assembly edit into the rough cut and from there to the eventual fine cut and locked picture.  When I was editing, I always visualized TQ seeing the finished film in a theater, reacting to each scene.  During the last few phone calls I had with TQ, he would always end the call exhorting, “Keep editing!”  I will, TQ, I will.

We can now fill in the date on the “Chock Full ‘O Nuts” can, and  put his ashes in the St. Kateri Tekakwitha columbarium.  Fly on, Blue Angel.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Shouts Out to My Ashford COM480 Peeps - The Prodigal Altar Boy

Shouts Out to My Ashford COM480 Peeps

In the almost two years I have been running this blog, I always get a kick out of looking at the stats and see that the early Ashford COM480 posts (COM480 Media Technology Blog Posting Week 2 Assignment and Blog Improvement Plan) generate the most views.  The Week 2 Assignment generated over a thousand views.  My only hope is there isn’t some instructor steering COM480 students over to those posts saying, “Now here is an example of the worst there is in blogging.” 

At any rate, thank you for keeping the blog alive.  I am not a blog expert, but I do want to share a few things I learned during the journey:

·         Blog to timeframes
o   When I did the last 100 days of 2011 blog series, I learned a lot about consistency, and more importantly, laying a foundation conducive to blogging on a regular basis.  You don’t have to make it 100 days, it can be 30 days or 7 days, or whatever number you choose, just pick a number and stick to it.
·         Blog ahead of events.
o   When you’re blogging about events, such as holidays, celebrations, events, etc., give yourself an advantage by writing as many pieces ahead of time.  You know holidays and observation days are coming well in advance, so write those pieces out and heave them ready to go.  Once your text is written out (proofed, edited and polished), you have time to find appropriate graphics, sound bites, links and videos to support.  One last suggestion, publish before the event.  Timing is crucial.
·         Technology is your friend. 
o   I shoot many of the pictures for my blog on my iPhone.  I use the Plastic Bullet app to add a little character to the pictures.  Plastic Bullet adds random effects to your pictures, but if you are patient, you will find a look that really adds to your photo.
·         Steal from the best.
o   When I’m taking pictures, I avoid the head on, squared up shots when I’m taking pictures of people.  Learn the rule of thirds, or better yet, look at how the legendary portrait artists do it.  Thumb through some old Rolling Stone magazines (70’s – 80’s) and look at Annie Liebovitz’s work.  Check out some 70’s album covers and look for anything shot by Norman Seef.  The same principle applies to scenic photography, steal from the best.
·         Steal from the best (Part II)
o   If you see a blog style or technique that catches your eye, feel free to try it with your blog.  If it works, great, if not, remember that no venture is ever a total loss.  Salvage the lesson from that experience and roll it into the next post.
·         Keep it short
o   ‘Nuff said.  Shorter is better.  If a draft of a post starts to get long, consider dividing it into two, or even three posts.  Save some for later.

I hope some of this helps.  Best of luck in your academic pursuits and when it looks like the end(your diploma) is too far away, that's the time to kncuckle down and keep pushing.  As Jesse Jackson would say, "Keep hope alive."

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Happy Palm Sunday!

Happy Palm Sunday!
Just a quick note to share some gem clips I ran across during editing.  I took took clips of TQ talking about his Palm Sunday escapades and put them together. (The video is in the YouTube gadget to the right) TQ talking about Palm Sundays past and how his work to wake people up to the Gospel was rooted in Second Vatican Council doctrine (theory of adaptation) give everyone a lot to think about this Palm Sunday.  What would Jesus drive today?