In the Wake of Rejection (Encouragement for Creators)

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New York book publishers in the early 1960s thought the idea stank — like old fish and seaweed — and that as a writer, Ricou Browning was wet behind the ears. And he actually was, both figuratively and literally. Browning was an underwater cinematographer and stuntman in his early thirties, who had no previous writing experience. But in a splash of sheer inspiration, Browning got a great idea for a novel. At least, he thought it was great. Book editors at practically every publishing company, however, thought he was “all wet.”

Browning was born in Fort Pierce, Florida on November 23, 1930. As a child he spent most of his time playing on the beach, and grew up do be an accomplished swimmer and diver. By the time he was 20, Browning was producing elaborate underwater shows for various theme parks. By the time he was 24, Hollywood had discovered him.

Hollywood had a history of making bankable stars out of excellent swimmers. In the early 1930s, two Olympic Gold-medalists dived into film roles that made them box office attractions. Buster Crabbe surfaced in cliffhanger movie serials, playing the seminal space heroes Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. Johnny Weissmuller swung into action as Tarzan of the Apes, making 12 crowd-pleasing motion pictures before his expanding waistline forced him to hang up his loin cloth. (Not to worry, though, because savvy film producers simply clothed Weissmuller in a safari outfit, and started making a slew of Jungle Jim movies.)

And throughout the 1940s and 50s, champion swimmer Esther Williams starred in flood of “aquamusicals,” which featured elaborate sequences of diving and synchronized swimming.

Following in the wake of these three great swimmers-turned-actors, Ricou Browning landed his own starring role … well, sort of … portraying the title character in Universal Studio’s classic horror movie The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Hey, it was good money, and the film spawned two sequels which kept Browning swimming in the dough — as well as the large fish tank used to film all the creepy underwater sequences. Unfortunately for Browning, no one could recognize him under the green latex gills and fins.

By 1960, Browning was directing and/or filming the underwater sequences for television shows such as Sea Hunt (with Lloyd Bridges) and The Aquanauts. But the young man had even greater creative aspirations. One day, while watching an episode of the ever-popular series Lassie with his kids, Browning started sloshing around a highly original concept in his waterlogged brain, for an adventure tale about an “aquatic Lassie.” He took his ideas to a good friend, and together the two men wrote a novel … which nobody wanted to publish. Period.

That might have been the end of the story, had Browning not bumped into his old boss, movie and television producer Ivan Tors. Browning had worked with Tors on Sea Hunt, and figured he’d found a fellow with whom he could drown his sorrows; but after Browning explained his “novel idea” to Tors, the Hollywood producer immediately suggested they turn the unpublished book into a movie.

Tors was an innovator, as evidenced by such successful television series as Science Fiction Theatre, in 1955, and a 1961 show called Ripcord, which ultimately popularized skydiving as an extreme leisure sport. Then, too, Tors was a huge animal-lover. He’d eventually create and produce two long-running TV shows, one about a vet in Africa, Daktari, and one about a boy and his bear, Gentle Ben. So the producer was eager to sink some time and money into the heartwarming story of … a boy and his dolphin.

Flipper, the novel nobody wanted to publish, soon became Flipper, the motion picture. The movie was a box-office hit, and earned a sequel less than a year later, quickly followed (in 1964) by a television show that lasted 3 seasons and 88 episodes. In fact, Tors ended the show while it was still a ratings hit, only because he wanted to pursue other projects. But not before Flipper (played by a bottlenose dolphin named Mitzi) helped its creators to soak up lots of cash, through licensing deals that included lunch boxes, coloring books, toys, and games.

Got a novel idea? Have faith and stick with it.

Browning (left) and Mitzi’s trainer, Ric O’Feldman, with “Flipper.”

Has someone tried to convince you, regarding your dreams, that you’re all wet? If their resistance to your work smells a little fishy, well, perhaps it is. Think of all the people who initially faced rejection, only to make a big splash later, in writing, illustrating, singing, acting, inventing, innovating and, in general, creating. So keep on treading the often turbulent waters of life and success. Swim with the “dolphins,” gentle and intelligent; and look out for the sharks.

“When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up—the flames will not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:2 TLB)

It’s okay. I’m really just a dolphin, ma’am.
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Eggshells: The INSIDE Story (Angel in the Kitchen)

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You can’t judge a book by its cover. Nor can you tell if an egg is fresh by examining its shell.

Although the wisdom is the same in both cases, the consequences of neglecting it in the former are by far preferable to the latter. Allow us to explain: if you crack a book with an interesting title and a cool cover illustration, but then realize it’s pretty bad … well, you can always take a good nap. But if you crack open an innocent-looking egg and realize it’s rotten … well, you’ll be fumigating the house.

The shell of an egg is composed mostly of calcium carbonate, and remains unblemished and smooth to the touch long after the yolk inside has gone bad. In fact, the egg can be decomposing inside while the shell can appear enticingly fresh. Good thing we’ve all learned not to form conclusions based on appearances alone. Right?

We never crack an egg directly into something we’re mixing, such as a cake mix. If it’s bad, it’s also too bad — because it’s too late to do anything about it. Hence, we break each egg into a separate bowl, and examine it before adding it to the recipe. When eggs go bad, the whites start to look watery. The yolks darken and may appear slightly shriveled. Of course, if the egg is rotten you’ll know the moment you crack it.

Refrigerated eggs tend to have a long shelf-life, usually a month beyond their sell-by date. But eggs that were mishandled and subjected to high temperatures go bad more quickly. Bad eggs can breed life-threatening
bacteria, so it’s best to know what’s lurking beneath those pretty shells. But how can you tell?

There’s a simple test. Does the egg float in a deep bowl of water, or sink to the bottom? No, this isn’t similar to the lunacy of dunking would-be witches centuries ago. This is based on science, not superstition.

First, every egg contains a tiny pocket of air. (You can see where the air pocket formed whenever you peel a boiled egg: the larger end of the boiled egg will always be flat and dimpled.) But as an egg ages, this air pocket expands, which increases its buoyancy. A fresh egg doesn’t contain enough air to float. It will sink to the bottom of the bowl and lie on its side.

Second, as eggs age the yolks produce gases. If the egg sinks but remains “standing” on one end, then gases are forming at the other end. It’s still okay to use the egg, but don’t dawdle about it. If, however, the egg floats, cracked-egg-eyes-painted-hole-73537488then a considerable pocket of gases has formed — indicating the egg is well on its way to rotting.

Bad eggs produce hydrogen sulfide, which builds within the shell. This foul-smelling gas is an indication of the corruption taking place within a shell that appears perfect on the outside, smooth and unblemished. Thank goodness, though, we don’t have to judge an egg by its shell.

As we’ve stated before, people are like eggs. Yes, there are good eggs, bad eggs, and rotten eggs; but our point here is that we can never base our judgements on appearance alone. A person who looks fine, and who seems to have it altogether, may actually be “dying” on the inside.

Unfortunately, in our Western culture we tend to value outer beauty above inner beauty, and physical perfection above strength of character. Many of us see the outer success, fame, and fortune of celebrity athletes and movie stars, and then assume their private lives are just as rich and wonderful. Occasionally, however, we’ll read or hear about a rich and famous person who’s been battling with the inner demons of addiction, physical abuse, low self-esteem, and … emptiness. In fact, we can recall one such celebrity confessing that, by all appearances, he had “made it” in life and had everything he could possibly desire — except happiness.

Since the lifestyles of the rich and famous, like eggshells, can conceal foul feelings and serious problems, it’s important we don’t make assumptions based on appearances. This wisdom has a spiritual application, too — one many of us seldom consider — which is the reverse of our egg analogy.

You may know someone who doesn’t look or dress or act like a star; but probably inside the shell of the “ugly duckling” there resides a beautiful, talented, or well-adjusted “swan”! And perhaps you know an older person who’s grown grey and wrinkled and stooped; perhaps a “senior saint” within your faith congregation; someone who appears to be years beyond his or her “best-by” date. The shell may look a little worse for wear, but you might just be surprised at how much life still resides within. Never discount what these people have to offer.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Though our outer self is heading for decay, our inner self is being renewed daily.” (2 Corinthians 4:16 CJB) Or, to quote the Phillips translation, “The outward man does indeed suffer wear and tear, but every day the inward man receives fresh strength. …For we are looking all the time not at the visible things but at the invisible. The visible things are transitory: it is the invisible things that are really permanent [eternal].” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Perhaps no one is ever eggs-actly as he or she appears. “Beautiful eggs” may be dying inside. Apparent good eggs can stink. Dull and pathetic-looking eggs can be full of life. And alleged “bad eggs” may still turn out to be good. Let’s try to see beyond the shells.

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