The Prodigal Altar Boy

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


23 April is TQ’s birthday.  Thomas J. Quinlan would have been 84 years old today.  I was reading Richard Rohr’s “On The Threshold of Transformation” and day 357 (I’m reading it out of order) is titled “The Holy Fool.”  Given the title of one of TQ’s programs was called “Fool for Christ,” TQ came to mind immediately.  Rohr talks about becoming a fool in later life, but TQ was that holy fool, a true trickster, early on.  Something else Rohr writes resonates with TQ and his commitment to the Principle of Adaptation, “But as we get to be older men, and if we allow ourselves to grow wiser, we realize that anything can become a pathway to the Great Truth if it leads us to wonder.  Whether it was driving a VW Beetle down the church aisle, dressing up as the Blue Angel, simulating the yellow brick road to Oz (heaven) with thousands of painted bricks on the marble aisle of St. Mary’s, TQ continually led us to wonder.  TQ wanted us to know that anything could be a pathway to the Great Truth, and wanted everyone to find his or her own path. 

Often we mistake something that’s not our path as the “wrong” path.  Maybe that’s behind Justice Scalia’s reaction to TQ’s 1972 Palm Sunday liturgy.  That could be the reason for the complaint letters about The Wizard of Oz at Holy Family. Maybe that’s why funeral home directors grumbled at having to wheel coffins over the yellow bricks at St. Mary’s during the week of “The Wiz” liturgy.  TQ’s adaptation of the Gospel to modern times parallels Jesus’ parables, which illustrated scripture in terms people of the day could understand.    

Tomorrow I will be in Tidewater screening a work in progress cut of “The Trouble with TQ.”  There is more to be done with the movie, but I wanted to take time out of the process to show the many people who loved TQ the progress made on the film.  I hope to get some good feedback to fuel this final stage of editing.  TQ got to see certain segments I edited (an early trailer and a Nat Turner cut), but he didn’t live to see a rough cut.  Every time I talked to him, he would ask when the film was going to be finished.  The last phone conversation I had with TQ, the last thing he said before he hung up was, “Keep editing!”  I am on it.

Happy TQ Day!  Celebrate your Holy Fool!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

9 April 2013 The Prodigal Altar Boy Blog - I GET IT!

I get it!

I get it, I GET it, okay?  As the jazz cats would say, “I heard you twice the first time.”  

Yesterday, I was having a party.  It was a small party, because when you restrict the guest list, you can really get your groove on.  To be clear, it was a pity party (“…pity, party of one, pity, party of ONE.”)

It had been one of “those days,” where you don’t have a major disaster, just a string of little things.  My mother always tells me not to sweat the small stuff, but I was not listening that day.  I love my job, but it was a struggle going in yesterday.  The work in progress screening is breathing down my neck and I have a finite amount of time to be prepared.  Add to that, the scale was not my friend that day and I have a 5k race looming in the distance.

After settling in at home, the last thing on my mind was editing, even though working through the story consultant’s notes was on the schedule.  I went through the mail and there were three envelopes.  There were two donation checks and a letter from someone requesting tickets for the screening in Norfolk
One check was from a donor who has sent a check every month since February.    Not only did she send another check, SHE THANKED ME “...for being so appreciative of my donations.”  There was another check from a first-time donor in New York. 
However, the letter requesting tickets drove the message home.  After requesting tickets, she tacked on the following postscript:

“P.S.:  I am looking forward to your next film and many more after that.”


So here I am, feeling sorry for myself, whining about work I have to do on this movie, and here is someone out there waiting for my NEXT movie.  Add to that, two people, one a complete stranger, took the time to send their hard-earned cash to some guy in Baltimore complaining because of some numbers on a scale.
It was a transformative moment.  Once the implications of these acts set in, I had to humble down and knock out that editing.  I put in a solid three hours on the consultation edits and got a lot done.
Do I still feel pressure about the screening?  I still feel the pressure, but it is not a despairing pressure.  It is the pressure to do well because I have many people expecting good things from this project.  It is a pressure to bring “The TQ Project” home, literally and figuratively.  It is a pressure to look at where all this started and moving it to the next level.  

I get it.   It is not about me.  It is about honoring TQ, honoring all the people who loved him.  It is about all the people who support this project, and in doing so, say they believe in me.  It is about not letting them down.

I get it.

The Trouble with TQ
(thank you all)

Carrie J. Hughes

Toni Fesel
Minnie Thomas
Nancy Dixon
Mary Emmert
Bruce McKenna
Eugene Strelka
Fr. John Dorgan
William J. Griggs
John & Katie Zawacki
Eileen Kanzler
Hank & Claire Tessandori
Pete & Margie Langlands
Richard Mooney
Rev. Francis J. Gargani
Hal & Sally Neher
William T. Prince
Tom & Mary McFeely
Linda & Garry Cooke
Ed & Maureen Marroni
John Lane
Christopher Schafer
Walter and Alveta Green
Rich and Gina Wightman
Joan Williams (continuing donor)
Bridget Browne
Elnora P. Green
Sal Vitale
Kathleen Waugh
Joseph McDonough
Jone Langlands
Young Ja Jun
Mary Minkowski
Rev. David Ungerleider
Jean and Bob Young (continuing donors)
Sisters of Notre Dame
Bob & Adele DellaValle-Rauth
John Buford
Kathy Heatwole
Mrs. Jean Thompson
James Wilson Jr.
Valerie Wilson
Eileen Lyver
Charlotte Pacheco
Rev. Louis Benoit
Kim Howell
Kathy Dowdy
Bridget Browne
Amber Medalla
Howard and Sarah Malloy
C. Douglas and J. Claudette Starrett
Arthur T. McNeill
Virginia D. Williams
John & Mary Ryan
Mary Moran
Winnie Flora
Monica Serra (Serra James Studios Inc.)