Saturday, June 8, 2019

I Met the Captain of the Enterprise


I met the Captain of the Enterprise

I left early Friday morning, 5 am. The destination: Savannah Mega Comic Con, where Vic Mignona, actor, voice artist and driving force behind Star Trek Continues would be signing autographs.

Driving through downtown Atlanta in the rain is not an activity I would recommend. Somehow, I made it through. I stopped once for breakfast at a Chick-Fil-A just north of Macon. Yum.

As I drove, I prayed for my online pastor who was scheduled for surgery in Scotland. (He made it through the 10 hour operation and is in recovery, for which I am extremely thankful.) I tried to listen to some stuff on my cell phone but could not for the life of me figure out how to synch the cell phone with the car. Danged technology!

Also, on this car is a “bob” which locked and unlocked the doors. The ignition started with a push button. Every time I went to start the car I put my key chain up to the steering column. Dumb! No wonder so many cars get stolen. I was reminded of my age and the enablement of society every time I went to start the vehicle. “Yo, dog, let’s do some GTA 5.” 

As I arrived in Savannah before check in time at the hotel, I decided to take the advice of friends and go to lunch at the Original Crab Shack. I was amazed at the size of the seating area- half a football field, it seemed. “Do you want inside or outside seating?” the host asked me. “Inside,” I replied, “I want the air conditioning.” “All we have are fans,” he said. How quaint.

The inside area was a hodgepodge of Christmas treed outlets (where you have 5 electrical junctions attached to one via extension cables) and dried bamboo and plant fronds just waiting to be struck by lightning. The food was excellent. I chose the crab stew and some stuffed crabs. Although both had tiny pieces of shell one had to carefully search for with their tongue, they were outstanding dishes.
Outside there was a pond with small pieces of Samsonite luggage that drifted serenely about … er, pardon me, alligators. A sign encouraged visitors to feed them but not to abuse them in any way. 
Afterwards I visited the gift shop.  There, someone had decided to behead small alligators and shellac the heads for the shelf to be purchased. I asked the shop manager if these were the same gators that were kept outside and she laughed and replied no, they get them from a different source. 

I got checked in and wandered around within a couple blocks of the hotel. There were a number awesome looking restaurants, although I was still stuffed from lunch, so I just got some snacks and went back to the hotel room where I watched some TV until drifting off to sleep.

Got up at 6:30 this morning, washed and went down for the continental breakfast. After that, I crossed the street to the convention center where Savannah Mega Con was to take place. I was among the first there, and as a VIP pass holder, got to enter the con first when it opened. There were a number of brightly dressed convention goers, many decked out as anime characters. I found the table where Vic was to appear and pulled up a chair to make small talk with the convention person who was there, a very nice young lady who was most kind. 

After a while Vic showed up. He was flamboyant, enthusiastic, outgoing and personable as he set the table up. After that, he noticed a gift I had wrapped and set up against the table. “What is this?” he asked. I replied that it was a gift for him, to show my appreciation for the work he had done. When he unwrapped it (it was a hardcover copy of my novel) he said, “Did you write this?” I nodded and said yes, he complimented me and asked me about it. He then took the wrappings, wadded them up in a tight ball and threw them at a conventioneer further back in line with gutso, addressing the man by name. (I can only imagine the number of flying objects that graced the Star Trek Continues set, triggering my teacher sensibilities.)

Vic was most kind, and spoke with me for a few minutes. He had a line a mile long behind me, and yet he took time out to speak with me. I can’t help but think, had we more time, we might have many more things to discuss, such as the driving inspiration which fueled our projects and life and times at Liberty University, our mutual alma mater.

With that, he gave me a hug for my selfie. I left thinking that Vic was not just an excellent actor but a warm and generous soul, and a very kind man.  I am very grateful to have met Vic Mignogna, the Captain of the Enterprise, and this is a day I will always cherish.

Thank you, sir. The honor was mine.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Unspoken



The Unspoken

I’ve read articles on the atrocities of the death camps that were constructed by Nazi Germany. They were horrible, horrible places. The citizens in the surrounding towns were herded together after the war to view for themselves the results of their silent assent. There were mounds and mounds of bodies, piled high with thin, skeletal, rotting remains of people. These were just the ones the Germans didn’t even have time to put through the furnaces. They were people like you or me, with families, who laughed, loved, cried and dreamed. People who were part of the “final solution” of eugenics, to rid the world of those who were substandard, of those who “didn’t matter.” 

The citizens of these surrounding towns were vilified, and rightfully so. Today we have war memorials, museums and exhibits to mark the tragedy of those days. Movies such as Schindler’s List have been made of the suffering that was endured, and the heroes who saved some from certain death. “Never forget,” and “never again” are slogans used to remind us that this blot, this stain on history should never again be repeated. 

But it has. It is happening right now. 

In “Horton Hears a Who,” the elephant Horton tries desperately to save a race of people living on a clover who are too small to hear or see. Instead of giving any concern or compassion towards the possibility that such people exist, Horton’s animal neighbors demand that the dust speck be boiled. Horton declares “a person’s a person, no matter how small.”

According to the World Health Organization, 50 million abortions have occurred world wide since 1990. 50 million. That’s more than the Holocaust and the Red Purge combined, and approaches the entire death count of WWII, 60 million. The number strikes me with sadness and regret. Why? Because like the citizens in the towns surrounding the death camps, I have remained mostly silent. Mostly quiet. Mostly unspoken. I am guilty individually; I am guilty as a part of a society that confirms with its collective silence its utter disregard, indeed, its antipathy and hatred for the blessing of life. This article is an attempt to correct my continued silence. 

The other day on I responded to a post on facebook to a comment about women’s health services, which, let’s be honest, can in some instances be used to refer to abortion. I stated that I believed abortion was murder and that I disliked my tax dollars being used in any way for it. The hatred was livid and instantaneous. “Shut the f*** up,” I was told, along with an assortment of angry red emoticons. 

I was shocked. I was stunned. I later removed my posts and apologized for any hurt feelings. But maybe I should not have. Maybe I should have doubled down. However, it was not my thread, not my name at the top, so I left well enough alone.

There are no large monuments to these small, unborn people with no voices that can be heard. I searched, but all I could find were little ones in church graveyards. There is no mourning, no crying from society, at least that I can hear on the news. It seems to me there is no mention of this tragedy at all from the government, which in at least one case has encouraged another country in Africa to begin this practice. We go along in life, filled with our jobs and entertainment, while the others who have no life are unspoken. I can't help but wonder what our reaction should be, should we be asked to pass aside mountains and mountains of jars, the results of our collective folly.

I believe this issue is one which merits further consideration. I believe the church needs to step up and offer alternatives such as increased opportunities for adoption. I believe a concerted effort should be made to advocate for birth control and safe practices such as was done when the AIDS epidemic hit in the 90’s. I also believe that we cannot remain silent in the face of such a tremendous, horrendous disaster as this waste, this disgrace of human life. We should be more human, more humane. Jesus said “In as much as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it unto me.” May God have mercy on us all. 

G.Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Monument to a Belief



I read this morning how atheists have erected a monument next to one of the Ten Commandments. They had attempted through legal channels to have the monument removed, to no avail. Finally they petitioned to have their own monument displayed and won. So there it is.

It was in retrospect that I realized this is actually a good thing. Why? Because it shows that atheism is a form of religion. It shows that the demands of this group to remove God from society should not trump the norms of society regardless of “being offended.” A prayer at high school football games hurts no one. Yet, this practice has been effectively outlawed to favor one form of belief over another.

If you want to believe in nothing, that’s your business. Just don’t ask society to go along with it in order to favor you over everyone else. 

G.Houtchens
Armchair coach
Amateur historian

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Tribute to Coach Herschel Robinson



A Tribute to Coach Herschel Robinson


Today, all work on the novel has ceased. All ideas for my blog are placed from the back burner into the sink. Today was a special day for me. Why? It’s because I got a chance to talk to a man whom I greatly admire and respect, and remember to this day. Today I spoke with Coach Herschel Robinson, who graciously allowed me to interview him. 


‘Hershey’ we sometimes called him after the Hershey bar. He didn’t mind. He knew the term was used with affection. We knew he cared about us. He was always encouraging us, in class and on the field. I remember he put me on the offensive line- once. Heh. The play was something like 23 PIE WHY. I was like, “Pie why? What in the heck is that?” (The play was 23 power, and I was supposed to double team a tackle.) I didn’t say anything, didn’t remember that play in the book, but just went and lined up and got knocked around. Good fun!


He would call to us from the hill overlooking the baseball field where we sometimes ran for endurance. “Hey Houtchens! You’ve been running! Keep it up!” It was so long ago, yet for some reason it was these memories that have stayed with me, like old photographs that have faded with time.

We were crazy, back in the late 70’s. Silly, goofy, crazy teens. We were in the difficult process of growing into the adults we would become, trying to figure things out. He put up with us, because he saw us as people, not as kids that sometimes gave him a hard time. I hope that somehow my own students can see that in me. 


I asked Coach Robinson (he earned his doctorate, but to me Coach Robinson just seems to fit- I hope he does not mind) about his most memorable moments at Ridgeview. When he first arrived, integration was going on. He was one of the very few black teachers at a nearly all white school. He said that one student especially made him feel welcome in his first days- Jimmy Robinson, who later I understand went on to Georgia Tech.  He also mentioned a student who was inspired by his health class to become an MD- David Parks. 


After Ridgeview High, Coach Robinson went to College Park High School as an assistant principal. I asked him how things were different for him as an administrator compared to being a coach, and he knew immediately. “I changed from t-shirts to a shirt and tie, but aside from that it was the same for me. I shared the compassion, respect, vision and hope with everyone that I had for the players.” That sounds so very much like the Coach Robinson I knew back then. Beautiful. 


He had some words for teachers in today’s profession: to keep the vision and hope they had from the foundation they received. These thoughts are timely. For students and perhaps our own kids  (those of us who have them) he also had advice. It used to be in days past teens were told that they could be anything. Today, the message has changed because the world has changed. Students can only become what they prepare themselves to become. If you think about it, that could apply to a lot of things. Students should fill their lives with experiences, good ones, and not fill their lives with excuses. There’s good wisdom there. 


Coach Robinson was troubled by the recent tragedy in Connecticut. He said we can no longer look away from our youth- we need to approach them where they are and inspect what you expect. 


He had some words for all Ridgeview Alumni. He said that we were a special group. That once a Redskin, always a Redskin. That we always had respect. Coach, may I say that that part came easy- we had you there with us to look up to =). God bless you richly!


G.Houtchens

Armchair coach

Amateur historian

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Flying House

The Flying House




I’m back after a hiatus with the rewrite of my novel. Act One is finished, so I have two more to go. I happened upon a video which I dimly recalled seeing part of many years ago, from the early 80’s. To some the idea of a flying house, particularly in this cheesy style anime may seem childish. To others, it may seem unworthy of any special consideration. For me, it makes me cry.

Why?

To me it’s the story of a much bigger picture. You see, to me the kids represent people. All people of all ages. They are doing their thing, playing a game of hide and seek. That’s what adults do, too. We’re all still the kids we once were on the inside. We do our thing, too, only we are more concerned with money, our work performance, our families chores around the house that have to get done and other grown-up things. 

Then a summer storm appears. The storms of life. We all face them. The fear of the unknown. “What will happen if…?” Corky, the younger child displays his apprehension and concern with no feelings held back. He chases his older brother hoping for security and comfort. We adults do that, too. We look towards things which bring us solace when trouble and uncertainty head our way. 
Then, they are presented with a house. It, too is an unknown, but it may provide protection in the storm. Do they go inside? To me, the house represents a leap of faith. There are no doubts other houses that one may turn to in the woods of life. But this one is special. 

The children are given refuge from the storm and meet the caretaker of the house, a caring adult filled with wisdom and knowledge. But then something unexpected happens. The entire group are taken to a new place. A new life. A new beginning. 

What is not shown at the end of the video is who the children meet when the flying house finally lands from its fantastic journey. They meet Jesus, and run up to him.  He welcomes them with enthusiasm and love. 

The entire story just touches the strings of my heart. I can see it. It is my hope that in this little article which may not seem like much, you can see it, too.

Matthew 18  He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

God bless you all.
Glenn Houtchens