Monthly Archives: April 2013

What I Liked This Week: 4/27/13 (aka Remember The Mission)

Furious Faithful. It’s been a long week. The script for Sophia The Great, as well as several supplemental materials about our general production plan, went out to several fellowships and contests and support programs over the last few days.

As some of you may have read on The Facebook or The Twitter, this was a surprisingly delightful experience for me. I wasn’t entirely prepared for that to happen. Again, I think partially it happened because I’m in a much better place this days, in terms of coping with (and channeling) The Fury, but I also think it’s also another indication that this project is The One.

I want to be able to temper my excitement so that I don’t become disappointed — but this assumes that I would become disappointed, say, if Sophia puts a goose egg on the scoreboard in terms of the aforementioned applications. I can’t say this wouldn’t happen, if a goose egg were to drop, but I also don’t think I would entirely care. Sophia is happening, whether we get major help from Deciders or not.

The last thing an independent filmmaker should do is wait for permission. Waiting doesn’t help make films. This isn’t to say it’s always a good idea to just vault ahead and produce something — which is why the next step is to draft a clear and clever, studied and concrete plan for producing Sophia soon and on the cheap — but it still feels good to know that all the “paperwork” I filled out this week…I filled out because I truly believe in what we’re doing, and am merely trying to convince a few influential deciders to help the cause.

Perhaps this is why it was so comparatively easy to fill out all the applications this time around. I’ve completed most of them a few times before, when I was similarly convinced I was ready to make The Leap, with other projects. I wasn’t.

I think I am now, and part of the reason why is because of all the previous work I’ve put in to past projects. But…it’s also…again…something about Sophia feels special. I believe I’ve earned her, but as some of you may know I am also a big believer in the mysticism of creativity, in the idea that a story is more a living thing that is born out of an intersection between circumstance and the labor of the creator…than something that is merely crafted. I said it in one of the applications — at this point, I feel like Sophia’s servant.

I don’t think this is at all a bad thing. In fact, as if this outpouring of words weren’t enough to convince you — this feeling is the first and biggest thing I liked this week.

I’ll keep the rest as short and as sweet as I can. Perhaps not always sweet. Life is sometimes very bitter — just ask David Simon:

  • I liked this blog post by David Simon, wherein The Wire creator condemns Your American Congress, following the failure of said Congress to pass new gun control legislation. Simon more eloquently and more expertly eviscerates our Reprehensible Representatives in his post than I did in mine (but you can still read mine).
  • Similarly, I liked this article by Josh Barro at Bloomberg News, illustrating a perfect example of the core injustice of our bifurcated society. The short of it: one particular symptom of the sequestration forced into existence by the inability of our Do-Nothing Congress to come to a compromise on all sorts of political and economic issues — because Republicans in Congress in particular refuse to compromise on anything, because they don’t give half a shit about anyone who isn’t rich — was dealt with swiftly and effectively this week. Congress did something! Do you know what they did? They passed legislation offsetting the effects sequestration had on aviation. Do you know why they did this? Because politicians (and other rich people) fly a lot, and so the flight delays caused by the forced budget cuts were having a negative impact on their lives. None of the cuts that affect those of us who aren’t rich — those of us whose lives are more seriously affected by such cuts — were addressed. And they won’t be. Because our government no longer operates for The People, at all.
  • On a lighter note, I liked Nametag Day, which is just what it sounds like. It’s a initiative based solely on the goal of putting name tags on as many New Yorkers as possible on June 1st. As I said on Twitter, I think this is a simple, actionable thing to do to help build community. Check out the site if you are an NYCer and volunteer to help if you can. Follow Nametag Day on Twitter here.
  • I like The 4-Hour Body. I had been interested in experimenting with Tim Ferriss’s “body re-composition” cookbook since listening to this episode of WTF with Marc Maron (which you can check out for free if you want to get an idea about what it’s all about). I finally got around to implementing a majority of the “small changes” in diet and behavior Ferriss advocates, after adopting only a few to great effect, initially. It works. I’ve lost weight (mostly fat), my energy level is up, and I feel great. Some of what The Four Hour Body suggests you do is a little strange, and/or seems tough (like cold showers!) but…again…it works.
  • I like the new original Netflix series Hemlock Grove. The first episode is very confusing, but engaging nonetheless. From there, the show gets better. It has a sort of Twin Peaks, B-movie vibe that it — importantly — embraces responsibly and smartly rather than resorting to irony or lazy homage to its numerous influences. The show has its imperfections, but it’s well-thought-out, and the storytelling is not lazy. The look and tone appear similarly cultivated (and contribute greatly to the success of the series), the writing is at many times extremely “fresh” — oftentimes adopting and exploiting established tropes before cleverly subverting them in pursuit of its own ends — and most of the performances are impressive. Rebecca and I had little knowledge of the show beforehand, and no expectations, but we’ve watched almost all of the first season by now and are enjoying it immensely.

So there’s the list for this week. Except for one last thing.

Again and as always, I liked you this week. The Furious Romantic Returns eclipsed 500 visits and 1,000 page views recently, at the same time that a small group of new readers wandered over from Twitter — and I’m sincerely grateful. It makes the fight easier to know that you’re out there with me, and it gives me hope for the future. We need hope as much as we need to “get angry and speak up” — we need to know that there are others who want more and better things for themselves and their neighbors than what we are currently getting from the here and now.

Have a good week, Furious Friends. This last one wasn’t the easiest for me, despite all of the above (it’s stressful emailing a snapshot of your soul to strangers), but it helps me remember the mission when I talk to all of you, and see that you’re reading.

So, yeah. Thanks.

As America Bleeds Again, A Defining Moment (On Boston and Sandy Hook)

Up until a few hours ago, I wasn’t sure if I was going to write anything about the bombings in Boston. As some of you may know, I’ve been keeping my eye away from the trappings of the 24-hour news cycle, popping in at mostly-predetermined times for a few moments here and there in order to stay informed. I’ve allowed myself a little more time to keep up a dialogue with people on social media channels…and that’s how I heard about what happened at the marathon on Monday.

I still don’t know what to say about it. What can be said? Despite the best, noblest efforts of all who have tried (and please understand I do not begrudge anyone their right to express their feelings) – what can be said? More senseless violence. Mere months after Sandy Hook.

I am writing, anyway, for two reasons. First, I am the same as everyone else. We feel these tragedies personally, if we are at all human, and when we feel them the overwhelming rush of anguish is more than we can often handle in the moment. So we cry, and we cry out. We get angry. We try to laugh, when and where it’s appropriate.

The second reason requires more in the way of explanation.

The peculiarity of tragedies like the bombings in Boston is that, in direct contradiction to the intentions of their perpetrators, the damage done to “a few” has a swelling, rallying effect in terms of the power of the many to respond with solidarity, whatever that may mean in the end. Almost always – and this only makes the unnecessary loss that much sadder – awful days like this past Monday end up bringing people together. We mourn, we seek answers, we seek vengeance or justice, we seek an end to the pain that will eventually pass from the day-to-day but will always linger, in perpetuity, over time. A wound has been opened in Boston, just as a wound has scarred over in Newtown, as it has here in New York City, as it has in many other parts of our country throughout our history.

The unsurprising solidarity other Americans have shown in supporting Boston will go far to help heal its wound. But with sincerest apologies to the victims of this most recent tragedy, I have to admit that I do not think it will be enough.

As I wrote months ago, America is sick. These horrific acts are not coming from out of the ether, and neither, in a day and age where we have come to understand the machinations of the universe on a subatomic level – can we simply lay blame for the carnage on the corrupt element within a single, tortured soul. Say what you will about the history and existence of the soul. We know enough, on a reasonable and scientific level, to know that evil – in most cases – does not wound this world only because of an innate, mysterious, all-encompassing darkness in the hearts of individuals. Regardless, we do not live as individuals, and so we have no right to pretend that matters of such dire social import can be explained away on an individual level.

Let me be clear: no one is responsible for the deaths and injuries at the marathon except for the person or persons who planted the bombs. However, again, questions need to be asked.

Once the who has been figured out, and the why, and once the answers to both questions are found wanting in terms of offering anything more than the necessary dose of closure, we need to ask how. How could this have happened? How could we have stopped it?

Maybe there aren’t answers. Probably, though, there are some worth trying out, some ideas about the true state our society that are worth exploring and discussing, ideas that won’t heal the wounds of the past and present but can perhaps help us improve the future.

Do I know what questions to ask, this time around? I’m not sure. Definitely, I’m not sure yet. Like I said, I didn’t know if I was going to write anything about the bombings. My only reaction, up until a few hours ago, much like my reaction to Sandy Hook, was to feel pain and sadness. I did not get angry.

No. I didn’t get angry until I checked the front page of The New York Times today and saw that the gun control legislation, that had been proposed in the wake of Sandy Hook, was dead. Our elected officials, acting under the direction of entrenched, moneyed special interests, killed it.

Innocent children died, and in the wake of their death we had at least an opportunity to prevent more death. And now, mere days after more unnecessary violence and bloodshed – and I don’t care what kind of violence it is – that opportunity is gone.

We’ll have answers, immediately, at least, the next time more innocents are gunned down by a disturbed individual with a machine gun. We’ll know why and how. And we’ll know who.

Americans, this is your current United State Congress, shrinking from the moment. Predominantly, it is your Congress-held-hostage…by backwards, right-wing, aged white male Republicans who continue to make no secret of the fact that the only things that matter to them are power and money and the safety that comes with having both.

This is your Congress. Cowing to fear, and letting it all remain the same, even as The People demands progress. This is not about politics. It is about reason. And humanity. And the Republicans and Democrats who voted against gun control today failed to honor both these tenets of modern civilization at the same time they were failing every man, woman, and child who died at Sandy Hook

What I Liked This Week: 4/13/13 (The Devilish Disruptor)

I had a dream last night that I can’t fully remember but I can still grasp the ghost of it (that’s right, I can grasp ghosts), and its nature seems to me delightfully mischievous. There was some sort of show going on that I was responsible for — perhaps a play, though I’ve never been responsible for a play or involved in one — and there was a sudden commotion among The Organizers of said show, because they had heard a rumor that someone in the sub-basement of the building, who I understood to be a bit of a devil, was going to cause some sort of disruption.

So I said I would go check it out and try to talk to him, but even now I remember being more interested in this devilish disruptor than I was worried about what he was going to do to The Show. The journey, in search of the sub-basement, as well as I can remember it, was similarly tinged more with excitement than concern.

At one point I found The Door I needed to go through to find The Disruptor, after eventually making my way to the basement-basement and asking someone for directions to said door. I only got as far as opening the door, which was heavy, strong and appropriately “rough around the edges.” I remember it being pretty dark on the other side. But, again, I also recall being more intrigued than afraid.

Aren’t we supposed to be everyone in our dreams? Is that What They Say? I like this idea. It seems healthy to me, that some waking part of me went in search of the devilish disruptor. That he wasn’t afraid. That he asked another part of me (the basement-basement guy) for directions.

Perhaps I should also mention that I’ve been reading Henry Miller.

Perhaps I should move on to the list:

Tropic of Capricorn by Henry Miller. Henry Miller is insane. And brilliant. And horrible. And I love him — just a bit more than I fear him. Tropic of Capricorn isn’t as good as Tropic of Cancer so far (I’m halfway through the former) overall. But if you’re a New Yorker, the passages about living and working and walking around the city, circa 1920, are worth the price of admission. When I was working my way through them, I had the uncomfortable feeling that, fundamentally, not much has changed from then till now, in terms of how life goes for most of the people who populate the city and keep it running. Also, despite what I just wrote, I’m enjoying it about as much as I enjoyed Tropic of Capricorn — for the lengthy, surreal passages in which Protagonist Henry Miller (pretty much the same as Author Henry Miller) details the internal realizations and processes that led to him becoming “himself,” or the version of himself that dominated the period following the timeline of the author’s life that generated this story. Also-also, don’t read Henry Miller in ebook form. It feels wrong and you wonder the whole time if the author’s ghost is leering at you while making lewd gestures and “farting in your general di-rection.”

Leaving the Atocha Station, by Ben Lerner. Wonderful book. Absorbing. It was a delight, following the protagonist through the trials of his year in Spain as a poetry fellow. Spending a year in Spain as a poetry fellow may not sound trying, except that said protagonist suffers from severe anxiety, and probably some other legitimate (perhaps also “common”) mental health issues as well — despite his clear intellect and apparent talent. Also, it’s fundamentally trying, living in another country (any country) where you don’t speak the language. Although I like that Lerner, via his intensely aware (in some ways) and intelligent protagonist, probes through the entirety of the language barrier situation from an internal perspective. It felt right, to go searching for that link and seeing the Paul Auster quote (see last week’s WILTW for my feelings about Auster), front and center. I can see the overlap in sensibilities (and I can probably feel it as well). Thanks to pal E.L. Kensky for sharing.

I also liked spending time with Sophia The Great this week, after several weeks away from the script while I let the notes from our reading sink in, and worked on some business-related development items. I have never felt so much affection for one of my characters, one of my stories. When I think about making the film, I feel an excitement unlike any I’ve felt before. Don’t get me wrong, I always feel excited about my projects — and I’m just as excited to finish Multiverse as I am to get truly started on Sophia. But there’s something about the latter that feels a touch different. This could have to do more with a change in me than anything else, a comfort with finally feeling ready to take on such a big undertaking, and with confidence. I think, though, it has to do with the place Sophia has taken me. I believe, to be truly genuine, that a film must represent not only a story told from the point of view of the filmmaker, but a story pulled out of the filmmaker (or the writer, and then the director, if they are two people). Writing Sophia was a journey for me, as all my stories have been journeys — but this one seems to have landed me in a more solid, discernible place than the other features I’ve written. A place where I want to be. Multiverse compares, but it’s a short little devil. It’s more about unwinding a moment. Sophia, I think (hope), is about rising to the moment.

Thanks, as always, for reading. May your week find you, at some point or another, for even a moment — exactly where you want to be.

What I Liked This Week: 4/6/13

First, a point of business — a note for the Furious Faithful.

It’s become increasingly clear that I’m going to have some difficulty, moving forward, sticking to the plan of two posts per week. There’s just too much work to do with Sophia, Multiverse and other projects (there are always other projects). But do not fret, Chet. What this means is that there will always be one post per week (WILTW) and sometimes/occasionally two. It’s looking like the posts that people enjoy the most are the passionate, one-off topical skrees that seem to pour out of me once per month. So there’s that, too. I will continue to pour out the passion when the passion brims.

On to what I liked this week. Let’s start with a quick dose of The Familiar. Our one media link, to ween you off The Old Way, as I go about implementing the changes we discussed last week. Then we shall move on to items that are “a little bit less meta.”

  • I liked this article, from AlterNet, which provides some added “insider” insight to the situation with Stop-and-Frisk. This reeks of The Truth Coming Out, which we unfortunately don’t always get from our mainstream press anymore — or at least we don’t get it “front and center.” Content-wise, of course, I don’t like this. But I like that every time I read something new about this unjust, racist policy, which blights the civil reputation of my adopted hometown every day it continues in one shape or form — and prevents us from reconciling our mistakes every day that we don’t retroactively own up to truths like those covered in this article — the tide appears to be turning towards justice. But it’s still a long road, which is why we need to continue paying attention to this and why we need to continue to pressure politicians and bureaucrats who refuse to admit the reality of the situation and fix it.
  • I like the effects of my reduced caffeine intake. Ironically, I am more focused (despite feeling very tired in spurts), and I am much less anxious. I also don’t like my reduced caffeine intake, because at least twice per day, I am slowed down by fog headaches while my body adjusts to the withdrawal. Sheesh.
  • I liked Sunset Park, by Paul Auster. I could talk endlessly about Auster’s books (and indeed have, on occasion). Every time I finish reading one, I want to hunt him down (he lives in Brooklyn as well) and watch him from afar, before going home and thinking intensely about the experience until my entire day gains the significance of Life As I Know It, even though I’ll probably also recognize that none of it matters, even though that’s probably okay and even if it isn’t not much can be done so I’ll just go out again tomorrow and think about it all some more. If that makes sense to you, you’ve also read a few Auster novels! Or you should! Sunset Park probably even ranks low on my ordered list of which books of his I enjoyed most, but they are all so completely him — so original and different and so expertly and confidently written — that it doesn’t matter.
  • I loved Sex, Lies, and Videotape. I have been wanting to see this movie for years. I had high expectations. They were met and exceeded. As I have said before, Soderbergh is one of my favorite directors — especially when it comes to cinematography and editing. In fact, I bought a copy of Sex, Lies, and Videotape because I wanted to specifically study the photography as part of my watch-list for developing Sophia. I didn’t expect to love the story of it so much, mostly because I wasn’t thinking about the script when I decided to finally watch it for that reason. A delightful experience. All around.

On that note — I have work to do. That’s another good thing about working through the watch-list. It keeps me always looking up jealously at the greats. It keeps me reminded of how much work I have left to do to earn your esteemed audience, and the esteemed audience of your friends and the friends of your friends.

Have a good week, Furious Faithful.