Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Now that's a hashtag

As you may have heard, we're holding a benefit concert Friday night in Wichita. Andy McGinnis, our public relations professional extraordinare, came up with a hashtag to promote it that just perfectly sums up what we've trying to do.
This is a play on words of "pray the gay away," a mindset that's pretty popular here in the Bible Belt. Does praying the gay away work? I can't say for sure, because I've never tried it. But I have serious doubts. As I've maintained for years, if you tell someone to surpress thier gay feelings, marry the opposite sex and start a family, one of you is in for some serious disappointment and heartache. Maybe both of you. Maybe even a whole bunch of you.
Besides, why would I want to change someone if I feel like that's how God made them?

So #HugTheHateAway is about acceptance, and we're certainly not trying to imply that Christians as a whole are hateful. I'm a Christian myself. (I think I may have mentioned that a time or two.)
And I plan on doing a lot of hugging Friday night. Come on out, and you can see the other fun promotions Andy came up with (including virtual hugs). It's going to be such a fun night.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The tornado effect

This seems to have gone unnoticed by many, but today is the 24th anniversary of the F5 tornado that killed 17 people, injured another 225 and pretty much wiped out the town of Andover, Kansas.

But it's on my mind today, and here's why. If that tornado had never happened, I never would have met Burt Humburg. I never would have written about how his home was destroyed, or how his father died from post traumatic stress disorder afterward, or about Burt's unlikely path to become a college football player.

And if I'd never met Burt, I'd never be making this movie, which I'm hoping will change people's lives. Who knows - it might even save a few lives. And what an awesome thing that would be.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The venue is set: Lucky's

Our First Friday event will be from 8-10 p.m. May 1 at Lucky’s Everyday, 1217 E. Douglas in Wichita. The free concert is to raise awareness for our film "Out Here In Kansas" (and of course we’ll be thrilled to take donations that night).

On a personal note, I cannot wait to see our two performers Friday night. Both are untraditional women singer-songwriters who have done some serious living despite thier young ages. I know it's going to be great, but I’m honestly not exactly sure what to expect beyond that.

MariaElena (pictured) has had a strong local following since moving here from China, of all places, and has a background in several genres of music, including punk rock.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith has been described by one critic as “Patsy Cline infused with Nine Inch Nails.” (I can’t top that, so I’m not even going to try.) Hollis Smith's "Even Angels Bite the Dust" was the first song I wanted for our movie, and I was able to track her down in Florida. You could say we hit it off from there, even though I won't meet her in the flesh until Friday. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Our connection to "Caddyshack"

This is Bradford Devine, and he will be flying in from his home in North Carolina this summer to be the narrator for "Out Here In Kansas."

This guy has a terrific voice, and he's not a novice. He's dabbled in acting for decades, from commercials to various roles in television shows like "Miami Vice" in the 1980s to playing a judge in the 2008 HBO movie "Recount."

Devine's biggest claim to claim, though, is appearing in the comedy classic "Caddyshack." Though his role is uncredited, he pops up in several scenes like this and this and this (he's the tall, dark-haired, mustached gent wearing a navy blue golf shirt on the course and a white and black tuxedo in the dinner club).

We'll ask Devine about that experience, and how he got involved with "Out Here In Kansas" with a Q&A in the near future.

Friday, April 17, 2015

All in good fun?

As I've mentioned before on this blog, I'm performing in a production called Wichita Gridiron, which is a comedy show put on by local journalists. It's kind of like a "Saturday Night Live" for Wichita. The best thing about Gridiron is it raises money for local college journalism scholarships. The second-best thing is the show can be a little edgy and risque, and advertisers in the program tend to loosen up. Here's our ad in this year's program, for example.

Truth is, though, Gridiron used to be a lot edgier. I learned that the hard way on opening night yesterday when "50 Shades of Brownback," a skit I wrote parodying the movie "50 Shades of Gray" and in which our governor "seduces" a gay reporter, was censored significantly. Perhaps that's a blog for another day.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

May Day!

If you're interested at all in this project, circle us on your calender for Friday, May 1. The obscenely talented Hollis Smith, who performs under the name "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," will be flying in to Wichita for a special concert to help us promote the movie "Out Here In Kansas." We're beyond excited about this. If you've been keeping up on this blog, you already know Smith's "Even Angels Bite the Dust" was the first song we wanted for the movie. You can read my Q&A with Hollis here. Details on the May 1 concert to follow.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Dammit, Westboro

This week I was back on the campus of Wichita State, being interviewed by the student-run Sunflower. It’s always nice to go back to my alma mater, where I was sports editor of the newspaper in the early ‘90s, and I even got to see the new Sunflower newsroom for the first time. (OK, so they’ve been using it since 1995, but it’s still new to me.)

Today this article came out, and the author Kevin Brown did a great job of getting my message across.

So I was feeling pretty good, until a friend of mine texted me this picture a few minutes ago. A member of Westboro Baptist Church is on WSU's campus this afternoon, telling gay people they are all going to hell.

Westboro really needs to just go away. Seriously.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Attention violinists

So we've secured a song from a wonderful musician out of Florida named Hollis Smith, and I'm ecstatic about a conversation I'm having with a band I hand picked out of Athens, Georgia. I'm a huge believer in music setting the tone for movie scenes; therefore I'm choosing these songs for this film with a thoughtfulness and diligence that keeps me up at night.

Now I'm looking for a violin player who performs original music.

If that describes you, here's an invitation. Send a sample of you playing your original music to us at We don't care what format you use, or where you live — we just want to hear it.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Good Friday, indeed

I spent most of yesterday in Lawrence, where my son Dallas will attend the University of Kansas this fall. While he was off doing his own thing, I used the time to visit with a handful of on-campus organizations that I thought would be supportive of our cause — including the university's Ecumenical Christian Ministry, Multicultural Resource Center and Spectrum KU.

So imagine how encouraged I was when our publicist shared this good news on Good Friday: With about a month to go, we've reached 10 percent of our fundraising goal.

Thanks for the support and please, if you have a chance to share what we're doing through social media or word of mouth, take advantage of it. Those things are really helping us.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A note about JP on his birthday

Today is the birthday of Jon Pic, who has been on board with this project from day one. How old is he? Well, he's older than he looks, but he's not yet old enough to run for president. He's the same age as Jesus when Biblical scholars believe he was crucified. Does that help?

Anyway ... I really wanted to give a shout out to JP because he's gone so far above and beyond what I've asked of him. I mean, I knew he was a creative genius. But he'll be the first to tell you that networking at things like cocktail parties are way out of his comfort zone.

Guess what? He's been doing that anyway, to spread the word about our film. That's how deeply he cares about this project.
Happy birthday, my friend. I'm really glad you're on our side.