Unorthodox and Unhinged

Tales of a Manic Christian

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Little Sister, the Movie


My firstborn Zach Clark is an indie filmmaker. And a successful one at that. He is the writer, director, and editor of all of his films. All five of them have played in festivals all over the world including SXSW. Gifted with his own unique John Waters sensibility, his movies are dark, quirky, funny, and sad.

Zach’s movies are autobiographical but not literally so. The characters are composites and each film a mosaic, pieced together from his experience and boundless creativity.

Zach is also partial to holidays. At 34 he is still just a great big kid at Christmas. His previous film White Reindeer came out in 2013. It is an outrageous, hysterical, and touching film about grief and loss at Christmas. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll feature throughout. The New Yorker called it “and instant holiday cult classic.” It’s available on Hulu! Click here to watch trailer!

And Zach’s newest film, Little Sister, is now playing in 20 cities and available on demand. And the critics are raving about this one too!

“As sweetly funky and improbably pure hearted as its young heroine, a trainee nun and erstwhile Goth making peace with her troubled North Carolina family…” Variety

“A strange spiky movie that refuses to beg for our attention. ‘Little Sister…molds the classic homecoming drama into a quirky reconciliation between faith and family.”
The New York Times

“Nothing less than an up-to-date vision of the new weird America.” The New Yorker

Again autobiographical but far from literal, Zach developed the story with his “creative life partner” and coproducer Melodie Sisk. And the lead characters share our family names and some of our traits — all mixed up.  “Colleen” is the hopeful young nun (played by Addison Timlin.) “Joani” is the manic depressive mom (played by Ally Sheedy. Yes, Ally Sheedy!) And “Jacob” is the wounded older brother (played by Keith Poulson.)

Politics lurk in the background in the election season of 2008. And Zach’s favorite holiday – Halloween plays into the plot:

“October 2008. Young nun Colleen is avoiding all contact with her family, until an email from her mother announces, “Your brother is home.”…Her parents are happy enough to see her but unease and awkwardness abounds. Her brother is living as a recluse in the guest house since returning from the Iraq War…Tenions rise and fall with a little help from Halloween, pot cupcakes, and GWAR. Little Sister is a sad comedy about family — a schmaltz-free, pathos drenched, feel good movie for the little goth girl inside all of us.”

Really timely topics this crazy election cycle, when dark and darkness, depression, and despair pervade our public discourse. Little Sister takes on faith, and family, and politics with a deeply personal lens. Its not a happily ever after movie, but it is a very hopeful one.

Lord, knows we could all use a little hope right now.

Click here to watch in a theater near you!


Click here to watch on demand via Amazon, iTunes, or Vimeo!

And every ticket sale and every rental goes right back to the filmmakers, cast, and crew!

So pop some popcorn, invite over some friends, and watch Little Sister. Its a balm for your soul.




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Chasing after wind…..


Googling myself the other day, grandiosity got the better of me.

I typed in “Joan Peacock” and lo and behold lots of “Joan Peacocks” popped up. I never guessed there were so many of us!

Add an “i”, yes, an “I” and up pops me – “Joani Peacock” and all the things the Internet knows about me!

My FB photo, my Twitter handle (I do not Tweet!), my blog U&U, my mom and dad’s obituaries, Unhinged at SpeakeasyDC. “Colorfully Bipolar” – a photo journalist’s slide show of me, the clergy page at Emmanuel, the staff page at Bishop Payne, and a few of my sermons.

Then I scroll to page 2. And there I am — a celebrity – on Rotten Tomatoes for a walk on role in “White Reindeer”.


Now the real celebrity here is my son – Zach Clark – the writer, director, producer, and editor of this very outrageous and very touching Christmas movie (not for children!).

Available on Netflix streaming, “White Reindeer” premiered in 2013 at South by Southwest and has played in festivals all over the world. Critically acclaimed, the film got rave reviews in the New York Times, Variety, and the Village Voice. The New Yorker called it “an instant holiday cult classic.”

I tried out for two parts: mother and priest. I got neither. Instead I got the part of “mourner” :one of many silent extras in the funeral scene.

Rotten Tomatoes’ critics rated “White Reindeer” a whopping 89% — and that’s a very good thing. Every member of the cast and every member of the crew – that rolls by in the credits – is now listed as a “celebrity”.

“Joani Peacock”: profile picture — blank; celebrity trivia – blank; memorable quotes (from my silent walk on) – blank. Vainly I try to update the blankety- blanks – but to no avail!

Then I considered all my hands had done and the toil I expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and chasing after wind.”

After a birthday party last weekend for my brother Tim, we all went back to hangout at his house: my brothers, my sister-in-law, my daughter, her boyfriend and me.

Tim pulled out a big box of family memorabilia – a total jumble of family photos, drawings, birthday cards, and wedding invitations. Brittle and faded, buried at the bottom of the box were a handful of newspaper clippings – news of when my family made it into the news.

Fifteen minutes of fame versus a lifetime of glory.

1959. Anacostia, Washington, D.C. There’s a full-page ad in the Evening Star.


“Curtis Brothers


The Winners


The Ferrari Midget Car”


The winners were my brother and sister. Maureen sits in the driver’s seat while Tim jealously looks on. The midget Ferrari had “pneumatic tires, sealed beamed headlights, and a fiberglass body.” It could go as fast as seven miles an hour on a rechargeable battery! Hours of fun!

My siblings won the car fair and square – but maybe not. My parents did buy a lot of furniture there. And the ad is a sales ad for “Washington’s largest furniture display” at “The home for the world’s largest chair” – with Santa seated there. It’s Christmas. “Charge accounts invited!”

In four years time, six little Peacocks drove the midget into the ground.

“All is vanity and chasing after wind…”

And then from the very bottom of the box, another yellowed clipping.

1968. November 19. The Washington Post.

 “Chaplain Liteky receives Medal of Honor”

 Lyndon Johnson pinned the medal on my second cousin’s chest. Both the paper and the faded White House program tell his story.

How could I have forgotten about my mother’s cousin: an army captain, a Vietnam chaplain, a war hero, a Catholic priest who left the church, married a nun, and advocated for peace?

So I went home and Googled him – and found out more – so much more.

His hometown headline in 2009 reads:

 “Charlie Liteky: ‘He was our quarterback, and quarterbacks save the world’”

 In 1948 he played football at the Westside high school, Robert E. Lee.

“It’s 1967, with his battalion ambushed in a rice paddy, Chaplain Liteky gives last rites to the dead and dying, often walking upright and dodging bullets. He carries more than 20 wounded from the battlefield to safety.”

“There is so much blood, he’ll smell it to the day he dies.”

In 1968, the President pins the medal to his chest.

In 1986, he gives it back. “At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Charles Liteky becomes the first person in history to give up the Medal of Honor. Cameras click as he kneels before the black wall covered with the names of the dead.”

And in ’86 he fasts on the Capitol steps. “Liteky is gaunt and burning with hunger. For six weeks, he and three other veterans have starved themselves protesting Reagan’s policies in South America. After 46 days, with one of them near death, they finally eat.”

In 2001, “inside a federal penitentiary…Charlie Liteky is turning 70. It’s his second time in prison following protests outside Fort Benning where the U.S. trained Latin American officers accused of atrocities in their countries.”

“It’s 2003, in Baghdad and Charlie Liteky is there with other protesters for peace, bearing witness to what he calls an unjust and an unwise war.”

“Talk for Charlie is cheap. He has to do more than write a letter to Congress or a letter to the editor. He has to put his body on the line.”

 Not for the front-page headlines. Not for fifteen minutes of fame.

An ex-priest, an ex-Catholic, a former chaplain, Charlie will tell you that he is far from perfect. A lifelong witness to God’s truth, his mission has cost him his faith. It has lost him his God.

“But I have tried to live life to the truth as I see it at the time. That’s a very costly thing; I’ve lost a lot. I’m an ex-lot of things. But what have you got? Your integrity.”

Charlie is not a celebrity but a man of substance. Not chasing after wind, but striving in this life for the things that matter most – life saving things — death defying things.

No matter what — at the age of 84– the best that he can — until the day he dies.

Thanks be to his former God.