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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:

“Choose [Popular Show] on Thursday nights.”

What?

“Choose” one [Evening Soap] over another? “Vote” for one [Faux-artist Contestant] over another? “America has chosen [New Movie] as the number one comedy!”… Nevermind that it’s 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. It’s 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 “it” doesn’t have top ratings and top box office and top ten billboard this and bestseller that and Technorati rankings and… Why do we live our lives by lists and tasteless, manipulative marketing?

Approval ratings.

(Forgot to list that one.)

That’s what I like about the Demand, really: It’s not a versus or a face-off or voting. Instead, it’s 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. I’m sorry that it’s so hard to enjoy ourselves sometimes and to get down to a true catharsis. And that it’s hard to see the great art because oft it’s not made and supported and distributed until/so we have to work hard to support those stories and song-makers and news-seekers and… 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 we’re doing their jobs and that’s very ridiculous.

Take your life back.

And if you want to find the truth in art and in life, you can’t listen to the lists. You just can’t. Part of being a human is using your will and willpower and daring to discover. You just can’t eat everything that’s put in front of you. Marketing and story are the same way. We are inundated. We are losing. We can’t ingest all of this. And why would we want to?

Take your life back.

Make your own fun.

Will it ever happen again that you’ll wander into a movie theater, check the titles, (all unknown to you,) pick something that sounds good, and discover something wonderful and truly… just… 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 it’s always been this way: I don’t know I wasn’t alive forever. Right? And maybe I’m just recently aware. After some research and talking to the elders, however, I don’t 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, I’m going to do from now on. I’m 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 can’t stop getting those drags for free without sacrificing the [Actually Useful] free magazine in the process, but that doesn’t mean I have to look at everything that’s put in front of my face.

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

Because I’ve been working on taking my life back.

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

“The future of film is in the hands of advertisers,” that’s what the decision makers here, the big ones, have told me.

I don’t 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, “Why not go your own way and only write fiction novels?”

What draws me to film as a storyteller is that it takes a team, a creative and technical community, to raise the story. It’s the exploration of the lives you’ve written, (or someone else has created,) an exploration of humanity and human behavior. I couldn’t give up performance. There is also that my imagination manifests in the format of motion pictures and moments. Partially it’s selfish, like everything is, I suppose. Part of it is that one can’t 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, I’ve 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-dog…

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.

That’s 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: “An art to help you pass any obstacle.”

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 I’m 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, I’ve already seen the crazy, so I’m muttering to myself, “shit.”

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 you’re being chased by the coppers or Darth Maul or your mom who wants you to do your chores, but—oh no!— there's an obstacle in your way—you 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 I’ve 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 don’t 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 Magneto’s cell just because she doesn’t like his weird sunglasses.

Butnowires.

There is a similar, urban demonstration of what I’m talking about at :42 seconds on this one guy’s 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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