Encouragement for Creators: Leigh Who?!?

Tough-guy actor Humphrey Bogart.

This is the story of a tough cookie named Leigh. No, not Leigh Halfpenny, the rough and tumble rugby player from Wales; Leigh Brackett, one of the best American writers you’ve probably never heard of!

In a career spanning four decades, Brackett banged out over sixty short stories, more than a dozen novels — mostly science fiction and fantasy — as well as scripted several movies now considered to be Hollywood classics. Brackett had a knack for injecting mystery and noir elements into SF, and the writer also penned a few excellent crime novels. The film director Howard Hawks was so impressed with the first of these crime novels, No Good from a Corpse, that he told his secretary to call in “this guy Brackett” to help script the 1946 Humphrey Bogart movie The Big Sleep. That marked the beginning of Brackett’s long association with Hollywood. The novelist went on to write television scripts for Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and several more screenplays for Hawks, including four classic John Wayne movies: Rio Bravo (1959), Hatari! (1962), El Dorado (1966) and Rio Lobo (1970). Brackett excelled at writing tough guy cowpokes, big game hunters, and world-weary gumshoes; so when George Lucas decided his second Star Wars movie should focus more on rapscallion space-pirate Han Solo, he asked SF novelist Brackett to write the screenplay.

Men of sagebrush and rawhide.

Sounds like Brackett could do no wrong, right? Well, not in the eyes of Bogart — at least not initially. Bogie definitely had to go through a period of adjustment once Brackett started co-writing with the great American novelist William Faulkner on Howard Hawks’ detective movie The Big Sleep. The actor had played both hard-nosed gumshoes and ruthless gansters, and he knew exactly how his character’s dialogue should sound. But suddenly he was getting pages of a shooting script  with lines that made his character, tough P.I. Phillip Marlowe, sound more like a prim school marm. He wasted no time confronting Brackett, the novice screenwriter, with his concerns.

But Bogie had to back up. The rotten lines he’d been given to read were not the work of Brackett; they’d been penned by Faulkner! Why did Bogie immediately assume Brackett was to blame? The answer had absolutely nothing to do with Brackett’s inexperience as a screenwriter. No, Bogie figured all the mamby pamby lines just had to have come from Brackett’s typewriter, because — oh, the indignity — Leigh Brackett was, to borrow a word from Philip Marlowe, a dame!

This “dame” understood dialogue!

What? You thought Leigh was a guy? Because he — er, SHE — wrote scripts and novels about tough guys? Hey, we never said Leigh was a guy. But yeah, there are both men and women with the name Leigh, so we’ll let you slide. Bogie, on the other hand, was guilty of a little literary male chauvinism! Turns out all the good lines he’d been getting, the snappy smart-guy patter that nailed Bogie’s character, were the work of a 21 year-old female. To the actor’s credit Bogart acknowledged his silly stereotyping, and then demanded that Brackett write ALL of his dialogue!

Regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, or experience, if you’re a savvy creator, you can create whatever the job requires. So go for it! “My heart is stirred by a noble theme … my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.” (Psalm 45:1 NIV)


Angel in the Kitchen: Processed Food


Tuesday we discussed those gastronomic “guilty pleasures” we all indulge in — junk food — and how a diet consisting mainly of these sugary, starchy and fatty treats is bad for our health. Similarly, there are “junk food” activities people tend to overindulge in: television, movies, sports, video games, graphic novels, magazines, the internet, etc.; and a lifestyle consisting mainly of such activities is bad for our spiritual health. We stressed the need to get some fresh air and sunshine and, and in particular, to “consume” some of God’s Word each day, the “Bread of Life”!

In the kitchen: most people believe enjoying a “healthy” diet is as simple as opening a can of soup. A bowl of soup is better than a bowl of ice cream, but is it — as an example of good nutrition — our best option? Hardly. Most canned soups and vegetables contain lots of additives we don’t need in our systems. Some canned goods contain enormous amounts of sodium, the repeated consumption of which can lead to high blood pressure. Health experts warn us to limit these “processed foods” the same way we should limit junk food.

SIGH!!  There’s just no substitute for fresh, natural, unprocessed fruits, veggies, grains and nuts: the foods God created — only untampered with!

Now, this is not to say there’s no nutritional value in processed foods. For instance, a glass of supermarket orange juice is loaded with Vitamin C. How do we know? It says so, right on the carton: “Fortified with Vitamin C”! Wait a minute. Have you ever wondered why the juice from oranges — one of God’s best sources of Vitamin C — needs to be “fortified” with synthetic Vitamin C (in other words, have more added)? Simple answer, really. When oranges are cut and squeezed, a good deal of the Vitamin C oxidizes — it “dies”! (This natural oxidation is the same reason a sliced apple starts to turn brown after a few minutes.) Supermarket orange juice is also “processed” to lengthen the shelf-life, further destroying the natural Vitamin content. But not to worry, to replace what’s been lost, the factory has added some Vitamin C that was created in a lab. (Sounds like something from a 1950s sci-fi movie!)

Other common additives (a nice euphemism for chemicals) in processed foods include preservatives and dyes, all of which can have an effect on our health. Of course, this is again assuming we eat nothing but processed foods. We don’t personally, but we sometimes do enjoy a serving of canned sweet corn, a bowl of cereal, a glass of bottled cranberry juice … but we’re careful to consume plently of fresh fruit and veggies, too. Balance is key!

Spiritual application: We’re blessed to have access to a wide variety of spiritually uplifting materials. Christian TV, radio, devotionals, and praise music. All of these resources draw (we hope) inspiration from the Word of God; but these wonderful Christian resources are, by their very nature, “processed” spiritual food. Sermons, praise CDs, Sunday School lessons, and hours spent watching inspirational shows, are all intended to be teaching aides and further sources of encouragement. But they should never replace personal daily Bible reading.

These spiritual supplements contain elements of God’s Word, and the Word of God is never wasted. It always has impact. (Isaiah 55:11) But these are not pure and unadulterated sources of God’s Word. In praise music, the Word has been slightly diluted; in an inspirational message, the speaker tends to toss in a few additives. Yes, make good use of all these resources. They come in handy in a pinch, and they help round out a “heart-healthy” meal; but do remember to balance out your spiritual diet by daily devouring large portions of the Word of God, the FRESH, 100% PURE, ALL NATURAL, WITH NOTHING ADDED “Bread of Life”!

“…Long for the pure milk of the Word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation….” (1 Peter 2:2 NASB)