Here’s to the Manure

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February 21, 2017

“Oh I’m going to write. Every day. Erry Day. Erry Damn Day!” And I did for a while. I fell off the horse. That’s not true. I didn’t fall off the horse. I pulled the horse over to stop for a spell. To grab a drink. Something to eat. And look, there was a comfortable couch, a tv with Netflix and, wait, what … an Xbox One S? I got off the horse and kept choosing to not get on the horse. Day after day after day after day. And the poor horse, just outside, waiting, getting lonely, bored, hungry. Shitting all over the place.

And why? So many reasons. Tired. Lazy. Maybe. Undisciplined. Scared. Scared? Of what, of the horse? There’s that thing, and I’m sure if we were to go through the pages and pages of stuff I’ve written, half written, mused upon there’s a lot of “why do I write .. no one cares. NO ONE CARES.” And that might be true. And that doesn’t matter. All that matters is “do I care?” And I do. So why not do it? Heck, I wish I could lose 15 pounds. I always wish I could lose 15 lbs. But I don’t always do it, I almost never do it. So there. Why? Lazy? Not enough time? Too many other things? Maybe. All excuses really. Maybe it’s this .. I don’t want to do it enough than not do it. I don’t want to do it more than I want to do other things.

So here I am again. Trying again. And that’s ok. To start a habit. To write. And why? Well, yeah, I just wrote it up there, but there’s other reasons. And this one may the best. I just spoke at a high school career day, I spoke to two classrooms full of generally uninterested students. That’s not fair, I don’t know that they were uninterested as students, they didn’t seem to be particularly interested in hearing from an actor they’ve never heard of. But a few did. A few did and that was pretty grand. But I told the students, the kids, the future – our future, that one thing they should all do is write. Write. Erry day. For yourself. Get your ideas on paper or on the screen. Exercise your brain, your imagination. And I believe this, with all my heart. Just as I believe we should all be in therapy, that we should always be kind, that we should engage in some kind of physical activity – I don’t always take my own advice, of course. And as I was saying to the second class, “write, every day, exercise your imagination” I thought – why don’t you? Cause I miss it. I do. I’ve said it time and time again that when I was writing every day, and there have been periods of months, maybe a year at a time, when I wrote something every day, I was better. Like meditation. I want to do it. I need to do it. I don’t always make time. And I don’t have to make the time, I don’t even have to find the time I just have to claim the time for it. Take it away from looking at glimpses of our doomed future on twitter, or flashy pictures of other peoples lives on instagram, or playing as Geralt the Witcher in Witcher III on my xbox. I make these choices to escape through other mediums instead of doubling down, investigating, escaping reality via my own imagination. And sure, playing a video game or watching a movie or tv show is not without the employ of my own imagination, and I won’t vilify the act because I think it has value. But I can and should make time to write. To explore. To exercise the muscle of my mind, my imagination, my heart, my fingers on the keyboard.

So here I am. I’ve wittled out a couple of minutes before I go to my day job. It’s not a lot, buty it’s something. And I’m just tapping away on the keyboard about how I feel, about what I think on this subject. And it’s kind of fun. It’s like talking to myself without the stigma of seeming insane. Having a conversation with myself, allowing me to suss out the “why” and “how comes” and “why nots” of writing.

So here’s to me making a habit of this today. And I’m gonna try and not get caught up in the “should this be a blog?” or “should this have a point?” or “should I be focused on maybe finishing the DEAD DOG PARK outline or the Beatrice story or any other number of things. Right now, or write now I’m going to focus on just tapping out the keys. Get back into it. See what happens. Maybe I’ll finish writing that song I started writing while at the McCarter. I hope I do. Maybe I’ll finish the outline of DEAD DOG PARK just to finish it. Beatrice … I hope so. There’s something about that story that begs me to finish it. Even just for me. Just to see where it goes. How it ends. And you know, that’s the problem. One of the problems. So much focus on how it’s going to end. I abandon a lot of writing because I get caught up in where it may be going, because I don’t see a clear path to an end, it get’s complicated, the ideas obscured. It’s very much that focus on the next instead of the now that fetters me in life and in creative endeavors. Not all the time, mind you, sometimes I can just be in the moment, in the now, to be in the flow of things. To enjoy the messy madness of it all. The beauty of it. The unpredictability of it. The sense of nonsense. The beginnings. The magic of the sprawling mess. I suppose sometimes you have to create the mountain before you can mine the diamonds. That’s awful. That’s something that in my mind seemed profound. But now, just to look at it … “sometimes you have to create the mountain before you can mine the diamonds” … I’m gonna leave it there. It takes manure to grow a flower. Maybe that’s it. Here’s to the manure.

 

Can’t Afford it, huh?

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Jeff and I grabbed some coffee after our bike ride. The day was beautiful though cold and windy and while we cut short the ride at just about 11 miles, we rewarded ourselves with coffee. We sat outside a VERY BROOKLYN coffee shop (Small. Tin ceiling. Hip art. A glass chandelier. A boors head mounted on the wall. Lots of wood and brass and young beautiful people behind the counter not overly concerned about appearing friendly or helpful) near our bikes, clad in our cycling gear. My iPhone sat on the table, face down, as to not invite distraction. While we were in deep conversation about our respective neurosis or our friends neurosis or the latest episode of “Orphan Black” a woman approached and asked “spare a dollar?” I gave a weak smile and said, “Sorry, I can’t.” Jeff remained silent. She raised an eyebrow and said in our direction but not really at me, “can’t afford it huh?” before walking into the shop.

“Her sneakers are more expensive than mine,” I offered to Jeff. She was dressed in nice clean khakis, a somewhat expensive looking black top, her back-pack seemed new and not cheap and she was wearing pristine Nike Basketball Shoes. Had she been bedraggled, clearly destitute, I’d like to think I would have pried my wallet from my bike shorts and found a dollar in there. I had one, I just paid for a coffee and bagel with cash – and had perhaps $4 in my wallet. And I normally don’t think twice about giving someone money on the street, on the subway. Sometimes I figure a dollar is an easy way to help. But this time I didn’t. This time I decided this person didn’t need my dollar, despite their inquiry suggesting otherwise. Maybe I’m not as generous as I’d like to be.

 

 

 

Ex Machina – O Uncomfortable

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Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 9.40.24 AM

I saw “Ex Machina” the other day. I enjoyed it. A lot. It’s an interesting, compelling, clever, smart, sexy, dark, and unexpected film. It is, in my humble opinion, so very well deserving of the best original screenplay nomination. The movie had a whole lot that interested me and a whole lot that left me uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable.

Surely some of my discomfort springs from the “wow, robots will look like us and take over soon,” realization. My friend Matt was staying with us at the time, he walked in as I was finishing the film. He had seen it before and was a big fan and was similarly discomfited by the notion of a robot takeover.  “Yeah man, it’s scary because, well, like that shit could happen soon.” Then he went into a mini-sermon of sorts about how Boston Dynamics is actually Cyberdyne Systems and Google IS SkyNet. I didn’t argue with him. I don’t know that he’s wrong. I didn’t even get into a discussion about it. If did I might have mentioned that there is an actual company called Cyberdyne that makes robot exoskeletons and that the always friendly and never nefarious United States Government already has a SkyNet program (just want to make sure my blog gets flagged for “crazy conspiracy theories,” it’s good for traffic) and that, of course everyone knows that Google will enslave all of us in the near future. But the whole Terminator, Matrix, humanity ending at the hands of the very technology we created to save us concept wasn’t the most uncomfortable thing about the movie for me. The most uncomfortable thing about the movie for me was Alicia Vikander as Ava. Ava the android. Ava the beautiful android.

Alicia Vikander is  wonderful in the film, she gives a fantastic performance. She was believable as an android, which is a ridiculous statement as I’ve never met an android. But I bought that she was an advance AI android constructed by a mad genius. It doesn’t hurt that she’s incredibly beautiful. And it’s her beauty, in part, that gave me pause. Perhaps it’s the type of beauty or the category of her beauty that gave me pause.  There’s a moment towards the end of the film, and this is a spoiler of sorts, where Ava completes her human disguise, covering up the metallic, roboty pieces of her anatomy with synthetic flesh. We get to watch this transformation, the climax of which is a full view of Ava completely nude. I was struck at how young she seemed. It made me uncomfortable.

Were the filmmakers making a statement? Maybe they were saying “yes, we as a culture sexualize young women, and we will continue to do that in the future to the detriment of all.” I’d like to believe that. Ava was objectified quite literally, she WAS an object. A robot, created by a man, made to look, to sound, to (we find out) feel, like a woman. A woman created to look like an amalgam of Caleb’s (played by Domhall Gleeson) particular pornography preferences. She was built to appear a “barely legal” woman, to borrow a creepy phrase from the world of pornography (or so I’ve heard).  So perhaps they were making a statement: “we sexualize young women, we fetishize their beauty and youth and innocence, we de-value them as human beings and in the end that will destroy us.” Maybe they were making a larger statement about youth and sex and objectification that I haven’t quite processed yet, but my fear is that they weren’t. My fear is that they cast Alicia because she is in fact beautiful and they saw her as a beautiful, sexual being and didn’t think twice about the fact that she doesn’t appear old enough to vote. Oscar Isaac, who is fantastic as Ava’s creator Nathan, is 37 years old. Domhall, who is lovely as Caleb, is 32. Did the filmmakers not even consider that these characters would be interested in an android who appeared to be 30? 25? Able to by her own beer?

I know, I know. Hollywood has been doing that for ages. And I know, I’m engaged to a brilliant, fantastic, and beautiful woman who is nine years my junior. So maybe I don’t have a leg to stand on here, but I’m just putting it out there. The perceived youth of Ava made me uncomfortable. If that discomfort was intended by the filmmakers I appreciate it. If it was not intended, I fear it. I fear not only for our future. I fear for us now.

 

 

Calvin and Hobbes Creator Bill Watterson Returns

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This brought me much joy.

Pearls Before Swine

Bill Watterson is the Bigfoot of cartooning.

He is legendary. He is reclusive. And like Bigfoot, there is really only one photo of him in existence. 

Few in the cartooning world have ever spoken to him. Even fewer have ever met him.

In fact, legend has it that when Steven Spielberg called to see if he wanted to make a movie, Bill wouldn’t even take the call.

So it was with little hope of success that I set out to try and meet him last April.

I was traveling through Cleveland on a book tour, and I knew that he lived somewhere in the area. I also knew that he was working with Washington Post cartoonist Nick Galifianakis on a book about Cul de Sac cartoonist Richard Thompson’s art.

So I took a shot and wrote to Nick. And Nick in turn wrote to Watterson.

And the meeting…

View original post 977 more words

It makes me so angry

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“I’ll only make you cry, this is our last goodbye.” – Jeff Buckley, LAST GOODBYE
I don’t go around quoting Jeff Buckley, but I am a fan.  I was sitting down to write out a very quick post – keeping to my “postaday2011” promise – and he came to mind, actually he came to ear, or to be accurate he came to my mind via my ear.  Via my ear canal.  The eary canal perhaps?

I was trying to figure out what I should write, and the bouts of anger I’ve been dealing with as of late spoke up as if to say “write about me you whiny prick.”  For those who know me you may laugh at the “as of late” characterization since I often give the impression of being angry – i.e., the rants.  But over the past few months, I’ve been less angry, I’ve been more even keeled.  You know, taking “deep breaths,” being more relaxed, finding peace – channeling my “inner hippy.”

But the past couple of days the bitch is back.  The anger’s been rising high and hard, like I popped a couple of Vitriol Viagra – and nothing is safe.  Everything has been pissing me off: auditions that I travel to and prepare for that get canceled without notice; my neighbors blaring their music so loud it goes through the fire wall; the landlord who forgets his responsibility to keep the apartment at 68 degrees, and acts like he’s doing me a favor to turn on the fucking heat; the cold; the lack of work; my up and coming 40th birthday; my family; my friends; my blog.  See what I mean?

As I was thinking of my Anger Renaissance, Jeff Buckley’s angelic voice came over my mini-speakers (well only over one speaker really, since the right one seems to have crapped out, on purpose, just to freakin test me) and sang, as if reading my mind, “it makes me so angry, and you know that it does, I’ll only make you cry, this is our last goodbye.”

So that’s really all I was going to write: I was being angry, wondering if I should write about being angry, and Jeff Buckley confessed to me that he was angry as well.  It’s not much of a post, I understand that.  If you want to be angry about it, have a blast, I will not -there are too many other candidates for my choler.  And I have some breathing to do, and some meditation to do, and some “getting the hell over my moody shit and enjoying life” to do.  It’s easy to forget that sometimes things don’t have to be as hard as we make them.  Perspective and attitude are some powerful players.  And to quote the bard “[t]here is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”  – William Shakespeare, HAMLET.

 

Thank you Jeff, we miss you.  You did make us cry, or at least me, but I’m kind of a sap.

 

Confession with my iPhone

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Thanks to the new iPhone app (http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/02/07/us-technology-app-confessions-idUKTRE7165U420110207), confession is a much easier process.  Not only does it help me practice confession at home, but I took it with me into the confessional booth and it was very helpful.  Here’s how it went:

Forgive me father for I have sunned.

Oh, sorry, I read that wrong, “Forgive me father for I have sinned,” yeah that makes more sense, I have the text on such a small font on here it’s hard to read it, I think if I just click on this settings … what?  You’re right, I’m sorry I’ll fix that later.  Haha, I’m in confession and I just apologized for my confession.  Does that count?  Do I get like points for that?  Oh, it doesn’t count?  OK.

Yes, I’m reading and it’s … oh, I’m supposed to say this: “its been …. x number of years since my last confession.”  What?  Oh, crap, yeah … let me think … 12.  It’s been 12 years since my last confession.

Why  so long?  Well, the long and short of it is that I lost my faith … my mom passed and I guess … well I just I lost my faith.  Guess where it was?  In a box with my old CD’s … who uses them anymore thanks to iTunes right!?  Thanks Apple … again.  Of course I’m kidding … No father, I did not leave my faith with my CD’s, I was making a joke.  I can tell you don’t think its funny, do to the non-laughter echoing through the confessional screen. Wow tough room … I’m sorry.  Again.  Wow, let me just enter a note here on my App … “humor is a sin.”  OK.  So … what?  Oh nothing.

Crap, OK, it’s not nothing, I just typed “humor is a sin” into my iPhone app.  I shouldn’t lie in confession right?  I know that it’s not really a sin … it’s not listed on the app as a sin … see?  If I pull up the alphabetical list we have, yep, here are the “H’s” there’s heresy, hate … wow, hate’s a sin, OK, I guess I can see that … homosexuality.  What!  Really?  It’s 2011 and this app is telling me -“homosexuality is a sin.”   Excuse me father … it is a sin?!  You are really telling me that?  That’s your position, oh that’s the Church’s position?

Allow me to retort – that is horse shit.  Oh that’s offensive?  You find my saying your position on homosexuality is HORSE SHIT offensive?  Horse shit is a noun, it’s an object, it’s an actual thing, it comes from horses and according to your teachings, in spite of SCIENCE, God made horses and horses make horse shit and thus God made horse shit so ipso facto: not a sin.  Fair enough?

“What the hell am I doing?” you ask.  I am having a discussion with you.  No I’m not “ranting.”  Why is it a sin to rant?  It is?  OK, no, then this isn’t a rant, what I’m doing is comparing your ignorant allegation – “homosexuality is a sin,” to horse excrement.  It makes sense …stick with me here … wait, no don’t go, wait, WAIT!  If I spent years listening to your whole “we are actually transforming this host into the body of Christ and this wine into the blood of Christ and you are going to eat and drink this and it’s not symbolic and no you are neither cannibals nor vampires” then you can listen to this little rant.  OK?  (notice I didn’t even bring up the whole “virgin” issue, you’re welcome).  So here it is, allow me to explain why your “homosexuality is a sin” claim is horse shit.

Shit is the waste product your body doesn’t need.  We eat, our body takes out all the vitamins and minerals and deliciousness it needs and what is left over is the waste which is pooped out.  That’s shit.  We don’t need it.  It get’s ejected.  We show it the door, the back door actually.  And your “homosexuality is a sin” yeah, that’s excrement.  It’s all the hate and fear and lack of compassion and judgment that our bodies can’t use for anything productive.  So it comes out.  As shit.  It’s ugly, it’s unpleasant and it stinks.  To heaven.

“Why Horse shit?”  Good question.  In my opinion, anyone who allows the phrase “homosexuality is a sin” to come out of their mouth is a horse’s ass.  So, horse shit.  TA -DAA!!!

I know I probably mixed some metaphors and I’m taking leaps and I’m getting off track but those aren’t sins are they?  Well, not according to my iPhone app … wait, look at that “mixing metaphors” is a sin.  Did not know that.Wow.  So is “insulting a priest,” let me mark that off and “questioning the Church” wow that’s a real big one, it’s in all caps and it has a star next to it … kind of looks like the star of David that’s ironic isn’t it?  Oh no, it looks more like a Pentagram … I’m kidding.  Kind of.

I’m sorry, father, I came here to confess not to get into a whole diatribe about the Church’s stand on homosexuality.  Let’s just move on.  Right.  Let’s end this debate before it grows into a fully fledged fight here.  Let’s just abort that thing before it gets too … ooh let’s look up abortion I bet that’s a big one on here, I’ll just scroll up to the “A’s” and … CRAP!  My iPhone just locked up … hold on a second.  I hate it when it does this.  Totally froze up, just when I tried to .. GOD I HATE THIS PHONE … you see those commercials where people are just breezing through those apps while some hip and catchy music plays in the background and all the while their nimble little fingers jump around from Google Maps to YELP to making a phone call to texting as gracefully as little ballerinas and all in a matter of seconds, milliseconds.  Do you know how long that actually takes?  Neither do I, BECAUSE IT NEVER HAPPENS.  My iPhone locks up all the time, much like it’s doing now and sometimes I just want to break this stupid freaking … OH, there it goes.  Back to normal.

Oh, it’s giving me my penance.  Wow, it beat you to the punch father, here it is:  my iPhone is telling me that my penance is to “burn in eternal hellfire.”  Ha.  Wow.  OK then.  Thanks.  Looks like I’m heading back to Los Angeles.