Category Archives: Life

That Would Never Happen

I write fiction. I do it because I like to tell stories, stories of unusual people doing unusual things in unusual places, stories of extraordinary events that change lives and create purpose.

The most important word in that last paragraph is unusual, which is why I used it three times. I figured it should stand out, because it seems like a lot of people are missing the point.

All too often I hear a critic (typically an armchair critic) pull out the nobody-ever-does-that card. They concentrate their rage on a decision a character makes or a situation that occurs that they believe is illogical and absurd.

The problem is that those illogical and absurd events are often the driving force behind the entire story in the first place. Throughout history people have been making illogical choices that have shaped how that history turned out. Absurd events have influenced the modern world as much as logical, well-thought out choices.

If I write a film about the Revolutionary War, focused on the burning of Washington D.C., and the big plot point in the third act is a tornado that comes out of nowhere, puts out all the fires in the city and scatters the British army, people would start tearing me apart when the first trailers hit YouTube. The fact that it actually happened would finally tone them down, but it sounds completely ludicrous. Imagine the anger that would erupt if I tied the tornado (the first in D.C. recorded history, mind you) to a descendent of a Salem Witch who’s character arc hinges on the fact that she is religiously oppressed even in a society that espouses “freedom of religion.” We watch her struggle against the church to the point that she is imprisoned in a DC jail during the war and summons the tornado to save the US, even though she loses her life in the process.

The point of fiction – one of the points, at least – is that anything can happen. If anything, historical fiction is often more plausible than actual history because the author corrects something absurd that happened in the past and then pay immaculate attention to detail when mapping out the “logical” events that follow.

Modern fiction is even more rife with critics pitching a fit about how silly something is. My favorite argument is the “he could never get her” complaints that show up every time a Beauty and the Beast rom-com shows up. I mean, seriously, do you think the chubby stoner that Seth Rogen plays in Knocked Up could ever land someone like Katherine Heigl?

I mean, seriously, have you ever walked around in public? There are plenty of people in every city on the planet running around with lovers that you would never expect. Sure, people think someone like Ryan Reynolds will end up with Sandra Bullock instead of Melissa McCarthy, but both realities are possible and both can have spectacular stories attached.

Save the “that would never happen in real life” card for the completely ridiculous, and if it is a completely ridiculous comedy or avant garde flick, just take it out of the deck altogether because the film’s genre makes the argument more absurd than what happens on screen.

Creative license drives fiction. Get used to it, get over it and get with it. If you don’t like it, read nonfiction. Then we’ll be able to talk about the “that didn’t happen” card.

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Filed under Creative Writing, Life

On Venting

Venting is important.

It is cathartic.

It allows us to come to grips with what is bothering us.

I need to vent.

The problem is that the best time to vent coincides with the worst time to vent. Venting feels the best when it is immediate. It provides instant gratification. It lets us exhaust as much baggage as possible, in as short a time as possible. It is an orgasm from the soul resulting from an emotion hate fuck.

And we end  up saying things that we don’t mean. Things that are irrational and just plain rude come out. We use words that are not normally a part of our vocabulary. We state opinions about people that come from irresponsibility in judgement.

Then we’re much better. At least, those of us that want to be are. Because venting is letting go of emotional baggage we didn’t want to hold on to in the first place. It is tearing down the damn we understand should never have been built.

The question arises, in my case, of who there is with which to vent. Typically it is a family member, friend, or lover that carries the burden. Those people are often in the same circle that includes the person which the venting is about. That carries its own responsibility and decorum. You have to be sure to vent to the person whom tomorrow won’t be caught saying, “Yeah, he called you that.”

One fix is that if you wait a while to vent, you are less likely to call them that. The longer you wait the less powerful the venting and the less apt you are to get lost in the moment. And the less exhausted you will feel when you’re done.

And the less it will feel good. If you wait too long, it will begin to feel bad. It should, anyway. When you vent about something that happened a week ago, it begins to sound bitter. If it was a month ago, you’re just bitching. If it was a year or more ago, you need to have dealt with it already, get the fuck on with your life.

More goes into venting that we think, but they are things of which we need to think. What is the problem we are venting about? Who else does this problem affect. How are other people affected. What is the relationship with the person whom the vent is about?

How much does it really matter?

In the grand scheme of things?

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Filed under Life, Ranting

Calling All Artists and Techs – “Perfidy” Short Film in Pre-production

“Perfidy,” a short film written by myself, has gone into pre-production. We (my team and I) are looking for anyone that would like to help.

Currently, we are searching for all areas of expertise, with a special focus on Sound, Make-up and Talent.

We are casting for six to seven roles. We need 3 women and 3-4 men, mid-twenties to early thirties. The lead female and lead male will have highly emotional roles, but the others have some charge to them as well.

I will post more details in the near future. If you are interested in being involved, contact me via Facebook, leave a reply to this post or call me if you have my number.

Also, if you can support us monetarily, check out our Kickstarter Project.

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Filed under Art, Life, Movies, Portfolio

Top 7 Movies of 2010

The Academy Awards started nominating ten movies for Best Picture as a way to boost interest. The only real problem I have with that is I think it lessens the value of the nomination itself, but as it’s a category for a film rather than an artist I can roll with it. It will also make speculation articles on Best Picture winners have to be a bit longer.

That being said, critics like making lists and ranking things just as much as the next guy. That’s why I made a list of my favorite seven movies of 2010. These aren’t the ones that are the best in any category, they’re just the ones I enjoyed the most. If you haven’t seen them yet, this is me making a suggestion for your Netflix queue.

7. The Town

Proof that Ben Affleck is going to be a force in Hollywood for many, many years whether you like it or not, “The Town” is set in Charlestown Boston, an area of the country that was supposedly famous for producing bank robbers. Ben Affleck performs solidly as the vehicle’s star, but it is the ensemble he composed that makes the movie a great heist flick.

Jeremy Renner was nominated for an Oscar because of his hard-edged thug, but the two ladies in the cast really stand out as well. Rebecca Hall, who I’ve enjoyed since “Starter For 10,” is proof that girls with decidedly average looks can play the female lead and be beautiful doing it. My biggest surprise came from Blake Lively. People are trying to compare her with Amy Adams in “Gone Daddy Gone” but that’s just silly. Her role as the desperate and broken, strung-out and beat-down, running-out-of-options snitch is so deeply far away from her “Gossip Girl” foundation it proves to be a perfect choice for her to break out as a serious actress.

6. Animal Kingdom

Every year it seems like there is one stand-out Australian movie and “Animal Kingdom” certainly stood out this year. With an Oscar nod for Jacki Weaver, this Sundance Jury Prize winner is getting the attention it deserves from the American media and thank god for that. Where most organized crime family dramas use glamor to paint the picture, David Michod (the writer and director) uses starkness and seediness to represent this clan of bank robbers.

The cast is exceptional and there is a fun interlude where Andy McPhee is given the screen to loom over. Ben Mendelsohn blew my mind as Pope, a character more sadistic but with less collected cruelty than Jacki Weaver’s Smurf. While the ending doesn’t come as much of a surprise, the way the story plays out allows some mystery as to where the story would go from here.

5. Exit Through The Gift Shop

Some people think this is a mockumentary. I disagree with those people, but unlike them I don’t really care if I’m wrong. I enjoyed the movie thoroughly and that, in the end, is all that matters. If it was another stunt pulled by Banksy I will still send my golf clap the lad’s way.

From the beginning, I was more disturbed by Thierry Guetta than amused. Dude is weird. Weird is what it sometimes takes to polymorph, and watching him transform himself into Mr. Brainwash is at once fascinating and bizarre.

4. Winter’s Bone

I count the Ozarks as one of the most inhospitable places on the entire planet, because I’ve seen “Deliverance” and every time I read the word Ozarks I hear the first part of dueling banjos. “Winter’s Bone” is an excellent film because it bleeds place; it uses setting and character to found a story. It’s my pick for Best Picture this year, even if it isn’t my funnest movie of the year.

Jennifer Lawrence does an outstanding job carrying this movie. I knew people that would have slid comfortably into the setting of this movie, and she was flawless in her portrayal. John Hawkes got my pick for best supporting actor in what I think is the toughest overall category this year. Teardrop will be a character written about in acting class. With the exception of Natalie Portman in “Black Swan,” I might argue it was the best performance overall. Garret Dillahunt was refreshing. I enjoy his Raising Hope character and it is nice to see him get other work.

3. Red

When you make a stir-fry consisting of Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Mary-Louis Parker, Helen Mirren, Richard Dreyfus, Earnest Borgnine and Carl Urban you get fun.

2. Shanghai

I’m completely biased about this movie and I don’t care. My favorite actor is in it. That would be Mr. Cusack. Even though he doesn’t stretch a lot in most of the roles he takes, I enjoy his attitude and style. His favorite band is the Clash. Mine isn’t, but I like Big Audio Dynamite.

My favorite Chinese actor is in it. Chow Yun-Fat is awesome. My favorite Chinese actress is in it. Li Gong has always been amazing and she doesn’t back down from the task this time either. My favorite Japanese actor is in it. Ken Watanabe almost killed Batman, which makes him almost Chuck Norris, because only Chuck Norris can kill Batman.

My favorite war is in it. WW2 is the best war because it’s very easy to make things black and white. Heroic films with clear friend enemy demarcation are not only possible, they’re realistic. Movies like “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan” prove that Steven Spielberg is a nerd and that ww2 was of ginormous artistic importance.

And, above all, John Cusack’s character is a spy. What? I dare you to get cooler.

Most people seemed to think it was a pretty okay movie, too.

1. Never Let Me Go

An adaptation of a Japanese philosophical science-fiction novel set in the British countryside in the ’90s. It stars Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield.

That’s all that really needs to be said about that.

Honorable Mentions:

Catfish

A sneek up on you documentary, this one made me completely rethink the possibilities for stories based on social networking. The mildly underwhelming reveal at the end only reinforces the strange truth to everything.

Mystery Team

Made in 2008, “Mystery Team” ran in theaters in 2010, so it can grab a shout-out. Donald Glover, the guy from Community, plays a man-boy detective with the mind of cliche. The most endearing thing about it is that it doesn’t try to be endearing, it simply tries to be funny. Plus, the apathetic girl from Parks and Recreation is in it.

Fish Tank

Released in the States at the beginning of January, this British character sketch explores being a young girl in the piss-poor council estates of England. Remarkable writing and acting make this one a stand out that fits comfortably on a shelf with “This Is England” and other staples of British realism.

What was your favorite movie this year?

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Filed under Media, Movies, Nostalgia

Who Doesn’t Love Them Some Whoopi

Whoopi Goldberg flipped out on the view because a New York Times article about the lack of racial diversity in this year’s Oscar race didn’t mention her name. She said “I am embarrassed to tell you, but it hurt me terribly.” She went on to explain to say that she feels as if she had been dismissed and erased by the film critics.

The New York Times then released a statement to Entertainment Weekly saying that people are reading the story incorrectly.

Who the hell are they to tell me how to read their newspaper? When I read the offending article, I was surprised they didn’t mention Whoopi. The piece doesn’t come across exactly like they describe it, and if they were expecting it to then the blame should be placed on the shoulders of the writers, not the readers. With the incredible amount of name dropping apparent in the article it felt like the writers were trying to show off how many black people they could name rather than make much of an argument at all.

“Unstoppable,” the only Denzel vehicle this year, was the only working-class black film this year? I’m sure there were at least one or two working-class people in the film that Whoopi worked on this year – “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf.” I realize that “Death at a Funeral” was too funny to be considered mentionable by people, but what about War Machine whipping Iron Man’s ass had anything to do with his color? This year, The Urban Daily reports that “2010 witnessed an impressive number of films starring African-Americans in lead roles.” The question raised by The Urban Daily is more of a qualitative nature, not a quantitative one.

The article in The New York Times isn’t focused on the movies of the year, it’s focus is on the Oscars – unless I’m reading it wrong. What black actor or actress do you most associate with the Oscars? If you’re in your thirties or forties, probably Whoopi Goldberg. Not only was she the first black actress to get a statue in forever, she hosted the damn spectacle a number of times. To many people, the names Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal will be forever synonymous with the Oscar broadcasts of the eighties and nineties, a time-frame very clearly referenced in the Times article.

Whoopi has every right to be upset. Now I’m pissed, too. Don’t tell me how to read your article, learn how to write it.

And give the woman the credit she’s due.

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Filed under Media, Politics, Ranting, Television

The Act of Creation as a Mediium

The recent question of how a piano ended up on a Miami sandbar seemed like another whimsical prank by some rascal. It was:

The image of the piano on the sandbar, which most people first saw as a photograph that was taken by Suzanne Beard, isn’t lessened by knowing its origins. The teens responsible are pleased by the response the prank as art (or art as prank) has received, but the simple truth is that their objective was accomplished in the doing rather than the response. They filmed what they did as part of an admission portfolio for art school.

This year’s Oscar front-runner for Best Documentary Feature is a little movie called “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” It is a documentary about, what else, the creation of art. Specifically, art created by event and shock minded artists like Banksy, Shepard Fairey and Mr. Brainwash. Throughout the film, the creation of art is celebrated over the art that is created. In doing so, the documentary itself has become a work of art. Its Oscar nomination helps validate it as a solid documentary, but the documentary itself turns a critical eye inward when Steve Lazarides states “I think the joke is on… I don’t know who the joke is on, really. I don’t even know if there is a joke.”

Is a joke even necessary? Perhaps the joke is that there is no joke.

Celebrating the act of creation is nothing new. The mandalas created by Tibetan monks are a prime example of something that focuses more on the act of creating than what it is being created. That shouldn’t detract from the fragile and fleeting beauty that is the mandala, just as knowing that two teens stuck a piano on a sandbar to try and get into college detracts from the beauty of a lonely instrument covered in seagulls stranded in the ocean.

With the immediacy that comes with living in a give-me-now society, the event of art will become more of a focus than the preservation of art. The event can be preserved through a myriad of mediums – digital copies, film, sound tape. Making that art powerful enough to be preserved in our memories should be the true goal of the artist.

I haven’t babbled on in a long time. It feels good to idly ponder.

Or something like that.

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Filed under Art, Life, Media, World Events

How Not To Fill Out A Dating Profile

Some time ago, I joined one of “those” websites. You know, one of those dirty little corners of the web where lonely people go to commiserate in their misery. I’ve met some wonderful people on there. I’ve also met some of humanities scabs. Which means it isn’t a whole lot different than running round in the chaos of society. At least on the internet I’m given an ignore button.

Dating websites really aren’t so bad. Statistically, dating websites have been proven to be pretty effective and a large array of people use them. So, if you’re lonely, bored or just generally interested, don’t be afraid to give them a shot.

One of the best things about joining the website is the people watching. I can spend large amounts of time reading people’s profiles and not having to bother actually communicating with them if I don’t want to. Many of the profiles I read are amusing, interesting, entertaining or intriguing. But, inevitably, a majority of them have some fatal flaw.

“How can a dating profile have a fatal flaw?” you ask. Let me explain. (side note: fatal flaws does not mean I really look down on someone. Just that I think they could handle the profile better. All opinions are my own, so take them with a grain of salt.)

I’m looking for a/an [complimentary adjective] person.

We’ll start out nicely and with something fairly innocuous. It’s completely understandable that someone would write this. It’s only right to let our potential suitors know what we’re looking for, correct?

Here’s the thing. If you say that you’re looking for someone that is kind, funny, caring, compassionate, intelligent, or any of a million other adjectives, you will not help your cause in the least. Most of humanity will tell you that they are kind, funny, caring, compassionate, intelligent and a million other things. Even if we really aren’t, we want to believe we are.  So don’t waste your time on empty words. Instead, write down a few sentences that really says something about who you are and what you want from life. That will go a lot further in weeding out incompatible others.

No players/Players need not apply/No cheaters/Not looking for a hook-up

By using these words, you have just done the dating equivalent of putting a bucket over your head, running out on a driving range and screaming not to hit you with a ball.

Are you so naive that you really believe a “player” will read it and say “holy obvious Bat-man, this one isn’t for me!” Nobody wants a player. Well, almost nobody. The large majority of women don’t want a guy that cheats on them. The large majority of guys that cheat on women don’t care what they want. Writing something like this on a profile, however, shows a naivety that can be prayed upon. A player will go after you just to make you a trophy. Please don’t do that to yourself.

Let’s talk about your pictures!

I can’t count the number of profiles I’ve come across with pictures of women and men together. I don’t care if that man is a brother, cousin, father, best friend, random stranger or ex… don’t go there!

When we’re investigating profiles on a dating site, we’re looking for individuals that we can date. This means that we look at the picture and then insert ourselves into it in order to see how the match looks. This is a natural reaction when looking for a mate.

Now, if there’s another guy in the picture when we pull it up to look at it… CREEPY. Finding out it is a sibling or friend does not help. The vision has already been ruined.

Somewhat relative, your main image shouldn’t have another female in it either. I don’t want to be bothered to figure out which one is you, especially if you’re the ugly one. Sorry to be mean, but you’re bordering on deception with this one.

True deception, however, will just make me put you on the ignore list. Angles that shave off 75 pounds may get you a date, but it will not be a good one. If I meet you and you look completely different than what you looked like in your pictures, you have just pissed me off. If looks aren’t important, why are you trying to change yours?

My kids are my life/I love my family/etc.

Now is when I get to make some enemies. Try and make it to the end before you judge me.

First, telling me that your kids are important doesn’t endear you to me. If you are a parent I fully expect that your kids are important. I expect you to spend most of your time, energy and resources raising them and nurturing them and loving them. If you don’t, you suck. Writing about how much you love and care for and look after your kids is not telling me anything about you, it’s telling me you’re exactly the same as the billion other parents in the world.

Secondly, I don’t want to hear about it. I’m not there to date your kids. I’m there to date you. Are you really so uninteresting that you need to talk about your family? I don’t want to hear about your parents, your brothers and sisters, your cousins or your friends. I may be interested in your pets. Probably only in passing.

I knew you had kids when I read the part of the page that said Children: yes. I don’t need it to be repeated. Your profile should give me insight into who you are. If talking about your kids is the only thing that makes you interesting, you’re telling everyone that you’re looking for a “baby daddy.”

If I know you have kids and we still go out on a date, I’m saying that I’m willing to accept everything that goes along with you being a mother. Before I accept all of that, I need to really know who you are and what you’re about. Be interesting, let me understand what kind of person you are and tell me about yourself. When we hit it off and decide to make it serious, I’ll meet the kids. If your kids are all you can talk about and the only thing that makes you interesting, why are you dating? You should be at home. With your kids.

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Filed under Dating, Life