XL. No Strings< Previous Chapter | Next Chapter >

This Hollowed Ground 

While flicking through [Popular Entertainment Magazine] (I get it for free, you see, and therefore usually give it a turn), I came across the following huge, fall TV ad:

ďChoose [Popular Show] on Thursday nights.Ē


ďChooseĒ one [Evening Soap] over another? ďVoteĒ for one [Faux-artist Contestant] over another? ďAmerica has chosen [New Movie] as the number one comedy!ĒÖ Nevermind that itís the only comedy in theaters right now.

When I look at ads, certain magazines and websites, and watch certain TV stations and movies, I feel awful. Literally, I feel awful. This choose-must-watch-vote marketing technique is one part of that onset of cultural depression. Itís the reason that I seldom watch TV or bad films, or read popular entertainment and fashion magazines. Or things on the bestseller list.

When did story, something so wonderful, celebrated, inspiring and instrumental, become a contest? Or worse: A competition that overrules quality and that we are made to feel we must take part in? If ďitĒ doesnít have top ratings and top box office and top ten billboard this and bestseller that and Technorati rankings andÖ Why do we live our lives by lists and tasteless, manipulative marketing?

Approval ratings.

(Forgot to list that one.)

Thatís what I like about the Demand, really: Itís not a versus or a face-off or voting. Instead, itís a way for us to say what we like, no matter how independent or popular, and bring said liked whatness to us. Locally.

I really am sorry for everyone, all of us; you me and everyone. Iím sorry that itís so hard to enjoy ourselves sometimes and to get down to a true catharsis. And that itís hard to see the great art because oft itís not made and supported and distributed until/so we have to work hard to support those stories and song-makers and news-seekers andÖ and we have to do all that without ruining the art along the way when, as the audience, that is not our jobs.

I mean, some people are paid very well to do that and they are fucking up, so now weíre doing their jobs and thatís very ridiculous.

Take your life back.

And if you want to find the truth in art and in life, you canít listen to the lists. You just canít. Part of being a human is using your will and willpower and daring to discover. You just canít eat everything thatís put in front of you. Marketing and story are the same way. We are inundated. We are losing. We canít ingest all of this. And why would we want to?

Take your life back.

Make your own fun.

Will it ever happen again that youíll wander into a movie theater, check the titles, (all unknown to you,) pick something that sounds good, and discover something wonderful and trulyÖ justÖ wonderful? Something real. Will it ever happen that you are left to discover untouched story?

Or untouched land?

Take your life back.

These days, if you want to discover something, even the lightest, littlest something, it takes much, much more effort than ever before. Because they make it so easy for you to take, instead, what they give so easily and promise so easily.

Take your life back.

Heck, maybe itís always been this way: I donít know I wasnít alive forever. Right? And maybe Iím just recently aware. After some research and talking to the elders, however, I donít think it has always been: It was better and had the potential to be better. We let it slip.

Take your life back.

Something I should have done long ago when I remembered willpower, Iím going to do from now on. Iím going to toss my free [Popular Entertainment Magazine] when it comes along with my standard tossing of my free [General Interest Magazine for Teens]. I canít stop getting those drags for free without sacrificing the [Actually Useful] free magazine in the process, but that doesnít mean I have to look at everything thatís put in front of my face.

Scratch my last: I'm going to cancel them all and pay for what's useful.

Because Iíve been working on taking my life back.

It makes me sad that I donít much like movies anymore. But you know you donít need them much when your own life is better, or can be better. And, when itís not better, in those movements and moments and rainy days when you turn to story and it does nothing for you, you know itís time to require more from your cultural diet.

ďThe future of film is in the hands of advertisers,Ē thatís what the decision makers here, the big ones, have told me.

I donít think so, friends: I've taken my life back.

Better than ranting, it's about doing things the way you believe.

Make your own fun.

A musician posed this to me, ďWhy not go your own way and only write fiction novels?Ē

What draws me to film as a storyteller is that it takes a team, a creative and technical community, to raise the story. Itís the exploration of the lives youíve written, (or someone else has created,) an exploration of humanity and human behavior. I couldnít give up performance. There is also that my imagination manifests in the format of motion pictures and moments. Partially itís selfish, like everything is, I suppose. Part of it is that one canít turn away from something that, while fun, is also taken quite seriously. Like a higher calling. It would be easier to solely write because I can control that: Writing only requires me and is not expensive to produce. Then, I could leave this industry. I could leave California.

But that would be giving my life up.

And as you know, Iíve been working on taking my life back.

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Snow Whites 

Dude, have you ever hung out with some Samoyeds? I have. (One day this will all make sense. Probably.)

Thank you, Samoyed Rescue, for inviting me to your lovely picnic.

Most of the day I was dog-level, learning the ways of the smile-dogÖ

For instance, I observed that is a faux pas to smell a Samoyed's elbow.

I think you should know that they play games there at the picnic (awesome): Musical chairs.

Thatís more dogs than you can shake a stick at.

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No Strings 

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Sweet Skills 

Last night at training I was introduced to Parkour: ďAn art to help you pass any obstacle.Ē

I should have video-ed it, but I was too busy working nerve so as to not be fraidy over something I came to discover I could actually jump over, or jump off or grab onto, et cetera. Sometimes it takes me a few moments because Iím new and I basically do this stuff with all guys, and some of them have been doing it all their lives and therefore already know how far and high they can jump without eating it while also doing crazy junk in the air. I have to find the simplified version. But, by that point, Iíve already seen the crazy, so Iím muttering to myself, ďshit.Ē

After trying to run sideways along the wall and kind of sucking at it, coach changed things up. If the following bit sounds easy, then it sounds easier than it is, but it is certainly not that hard in the gym setting if you have a few basics down:

So you run really fast, like youíre being chased by the coppers or Darth Maul or your mom who wants you to do your chores, butóoh no!ó there's an obstacle in your wayóyou have no choice, no time!: You leap up onto the four-foot high block-obstacle-thing and then immediately leap at the wall where there is an eight-foot high bar, taking care to grab the bar and use your feet as well to cling to the wall because, then, you immediately pounce off the wall, twisting in air and landing back on the block facing the opposite direction, (or perhaps landing on a taller block nearby). All of those measurements are approximate because Iíve never actually measured the things. I just know they look and feel tall and far (especially when your mom is chasing you with a rolling pin and yelling "do the dishes!"). Of course you can make the obstacles taller and farther as needed. However, when running from the 5-0 in the real world you donít have that luxury so you better not suck or you will so get caught and go directly to jail without passing Go and collecting $200.

If you do the above right you look like some sort of fast, ninja-frog.

Or Deathstrike when she nails Cyclops to the wall outside of Magnetoís cell just because she doesnít like his weird sunglasses.


There is a similar, urban demonstration of what Iím talking about at :42 seconds on this one guyís video.

I will tell you that my biceps and quads are sore hoy. Most likely this is due to the springy part where you cling on to the wall and then jump backward back onto the block.

Jumping, I have found, is a very undervalued skill.

I mean that is definitely the kind of thing that will get you a hot boyfriend.

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Genius Loci 

As Greg and I go about the concept art for The Silver Legacy, he sketches images from the screenplay and shows them to me, and we talk about the direction. This process continues until the full scene comes alive.

It's awesome and rare to experience your imagination in this way: Resurrected off the page that you were forced to bind it to, then improved by the touch of the artist.

Here's an early sketch from one of the pieces currently in production.

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