Thursday, February 26, 2015

Does this mean you aren't going to follow me?

So maybe you've heard about the rainbow painted house that sits directly across from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka.
We went inside that house yesterday to visit with the people who live there. While sitting in the living room, I sent out a Tweet.
Honestly, I wasn't expecting to rattle any cages over at Westboro. Nor did I realize the family of Fred Phelps was on Twitter.
But I do now.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Déjà vu

When I was young, my dad taught me how to tie an extension cord into a chain knot. He's an electrician, owns his own business, and chain knots are a good way to keep the cords from getting tangled on job sites.
This image is from a Humburg home movie, when they were rebuilding their house from the Andover tornado in 1991. It's Burt's late father, showing him how to tie an extension cord into a chain knot.
Gotta admit, that gave me a little chill.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Do we look worried?

Another great meeting with these three tonight.
After Kenny, Jon and I scoped out the lighting at Summit Church in east Wichita (thanks to Tyler Fox for hooking us up), we met up with Andy downtown to firm up plans for our fundraising launch.
We also have a trip planned to Topeka this week. Things are happening quickly. We've put so much work into this, but so much remains. Exciting times, to be sure.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Reflecting on yesterday's post

After writing yesterday's post - I saw Burt play in high school and didn't even realize it, because he was an "anonymous lineman" - a realization came to me.
Keep in mind, I've interviewed maybe a couple of thousand athletes the last 20 years or so. So why was Burt so memorable when I finally interviewed him in college?
Because he had a compelling triumph-over-tragedy story coming out of the '91 Andover tornado. (And this was before he came out of the closet, which in retrospect might have been way too much stuff to get into one newspaper article.)
The boy lost his home, then he lost his dad. And he turned him himself from a non-athletic bookworm into all All-American football player. It was a pretty long article even with that storyline.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Some anonymous lineman

I only covered a handful of high school football games when I worked at The Wichita Eagle, but one that I remember well involved the 1993 Andover High Trojans.
Their quarterback was Zack Siegrist, who longtime Eagle prep writer Duane Frazier claims is the best high school quarterback he ever saw. By the Siegrist ended his career, he held state records for most passing yards in a season and career.
Little did I realize one of Zack's linemen would change my life 22 years later. No. 68, Burt Humburg.

Monday, February 16, 2015

We have a name

So I mentioned last month that "Brain of Burt" was the working title of our documentary, and we still didn't officially have a name. But we do now.
We still like "Brain of Burt" (or BOB, as it came to be known) but our new promoter encouraged all of us to dig deeper. After a three-hour meeting (yes, we've had a couple of those) and a series of brainstorming exercises she put us through, we came up with a name we all agreed would reflect the story best.
Actually, the vote wasn't quite unanimous. 
Funny story: Jon Pic, who was the first person to sign up for the project with me, is the one who came up with the name. However, in the end, he was the only one who didn't vote for it. He was still attached to "Brain of Burt," bless his heart.
Burt's reaction when I told him we'd changed the name?
"Thank God."
We're still taking care of some business items as far as the name goes, but I promise I'll announce it soon.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day, Governor

If you Google "Sam Brownback," the first result you'll see is a scathing editorial in yesterday's Kansas City Star. (It's worth a click for the headline alone.)
Every time I think the issue of gay rights in Kansas can't possibly get hotter, something happens to raise the stakes. This week it was Brownback, newly re-elected as Kansas governor, taking away protections for state workers who are homosexual, bisexual or transgender.
Brownback's executive order also drew the ire of The Daily Show; you can check that out here. (Jon Stewart's rant starts at the 2:15 mark and yes, it's a good one.)
I've met Brownback a time or two, and I'm guessing by the time our film is completed, I'm going to owe him a huge thank you. I've actually known Brownback's spokesman for 23 years - in fact, a couple months ago we spoke on the phone until past 2 a.m. But we weren't talking about Brownback. Well, not very much.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The boys club no longer

A woman has joined our team. For proof, here is a picture of her telling me what to do.
I'm kidding, of course. This is Andy McGinnis, and the energy and insight she's brought to this project have taken us up a few notches.
Technically Andy is our publicist, but she's been so much more than that. In less than a month, she's demonstrated just how deeply she cares about the entire process leading up to our finished product.
I met Andy seven or eight years ago, but never knew her well. We're so fortunate she just fell out of the sky and into our team.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Meet Joe Wright

This is Joe Wright, who plays a major role in our documentary. He is a conservative pastor, and a decade ago he was instrumental in making same-sex marriage unlawful in the state of Kansas.
If it sounds like I'm setting the stage for Pastor Joe to be our "villain" ... well, this is a good man. Burt Humburg, the proudly gay subject of this film, will be the first to tell you that.
Even if you vigorously disagree with his views, you at least have to recognize Pastor Joe's integrity. He says his motives are to protect and spread God's word, and he's always tried to do those things out of love.
Consistency, accountability and transparency are what always earn my respect. Pastor Joe is an open book, and he walks the walk.
One other thing ... Pastor Joe has never claimed to be politically correct. As you can hear on this video, his invocation to the Kansas State Legislature put a tickle into legendary radio host Paul Harvey.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

You set yourself up for that, Jimmy

If you're 35 or older you probably remember Jimmy Swaggart, the famous televangelist who became infamous when his sexual scandals became public.
But do you realize who was the biggest winner in all that? Ozzy Osbourne. In a matter of weeks he cranked out the hit "Miracle Man," in which he cackles at the beginning and spends the next three minutes mocking the fallen religious leader.
For Ozzy, it was beautiful. The religious right couldn't say a word. Everyone hates a hypocrite.
I bring this up because tomorrow, I will be writing about the pastor who is a central part of our film. And no matter what you might say about him, I think you'll agree he is no hypocrite.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A picture I took tonight

I don't really have a great caption to go with this photo, but I'll say this: Each week I am more and more thankful for the knowledge and insights these guys bring to the project.
That's photographer Jon Pic in the dark shirt, and editor Kenny Linn in the background.