Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Week in Review

This has been one of those weeks that bull dozes time. Been a busy week with the day job and Wood Sugars shows, with of course some after show boozing that made the early mornings the next day a little rough to get the day flowing. Our MILF show on Wednesday had a great turnout, with a quite a few randoms. Thursday's "One Night Only Show" was a lower turn out but I had a blast. We all drank some red wine before the show. I feel a bit funnier, loser the roll with the give and take of comedy performance with red wine trickling in my blood. After we went to a bar called Simon's with a weird old Swedish feel to it. I liked it. I had a little too many cans of cheap Genessee beer, I hadn't heard of it before but it was on sale and my wallet is thin so I gave it a shot. It tasted nice. But I felt a bit ill the following morning. When I arrived home after intense thunderstorms crackled.

My screenplay of Whiskey Pike unfortunately did not make it to the finalist round of the Nicholls Fellowship I had entered it into. Out of almost 7,000 entries 350 were selected for the final round of judging. I was certainly bummed but I spent some time looking back over the script yesterday and I certainly understand its imperfections. At the time I had submitted it I felt jacked that it was quite incredible but with my latest review of it, a little time and space between my last tear into, I do find there are a lot of fluff moments. I have the piece littered with little transitions, montage between scenes to show travel, whiskey biz development, etc. And on closer inspection these things are really just fat which at the time I thought would build a swell visual sprawl of the old time, wilderness landscape. And when it comes down to it a lot of that stuff is understood. And I'm again reminded that film is really tied together with the most important moments.

So I spent some time reworking it, and in a way I've been wanting to do for some time. I'm definitely interested and determined to shoot this thing out in the woods in the 5 year plan. Whereas I certainly don't think this piece will necessitate millions of dollars, being essentially a period piece, it's going to have some costs. And with film, its like holding up a microscope to the detail, which requires more money to fine tune that set and costuming detail. But being a theatre guy, having spent a majority of my time in Chicago studying theatre and putting on plays, my biggest interest in the production is the element of performance. The characters, the dynamic between the Bowermaster family members and most particularly the rivalry between Shane Bowermaster and George the Brewer, incited the new impulse in me to extract and piece together the scenes which focus on these relationships to develop what can an intense theatre piece that can still translate under a low budget. With theatre such period elements of costuming and set can be more representational and with the right lighting can take you to that place with more punch of ambiance perhaps film even can.

So this is my latest experiment with the Whiskey Pike script, tentatively titled The Whisky Infused Boom of Shane Bowermaster. I know I've gone back and forth quite a bit on whether I want to do this as a play or a film or what not. Sure I'm flip-floppy like a politician here, but it is an ambitious piece, and I want to make sure I put some good thought into how I want to commit to the first production of the piece. My next motion is to begin work-shopping the piece with actors and work towards doing a public staged reading of it in the near future to really hone the project.

This week I've also been getting pulled into watching CNN and CSPAN and MSNBC to follow the whole debt ceiling crisis. It's been like a riveting soap opera. We'll see what the dramatic conclusion is. As of this writing I hear there is McConnell bill that is "close".

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Congressional Suspense, life imitating novella?

Since Congress is playin' games with the debt ceiling and budget plans, I don't feel so bad about exploiting all of this to promote my novella...or I kind of do feel bad because because it seems the ground work is being laid for things to actually happen which play out in the year 2032 in Turban Tan. I bring this piece up because what I wanted to reflect upon in this novella, I believe is becoming more and more important to acknowledge. I'm certainly not saying Turban Tan is the most important book ever written by any means, but I am biased and believe it's important enough for you to take a risk on by adding it to your pile of books to read, maybe even setting gently on top and cracking into very soon. I appreciate you taking the risk and thank you in advance for putting up with my tooting this piece during the "tense" congressional showdown.  But hey, they have an agenda, I have an agenda. They want re-election, and I want my book to be read and enjoyed. 

To grab a paperback copy ->

To grab a Kindle copy ->

or to explore it a little more and what it's about ->

Get lost in a good book. Thanks!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Hissy Kitchen

I am a sometimes hobbyist chef. Occasionally I'll get the sudden to take the helm on the makings of dinner and experiment with various ingredients and food stuffs in the pantry, fridge and freezer. In this fashion I have churned up some good peanut butter chicken wings, flautas, among a wide variety of seasoned meats.

For lunch today I decided to make a homemade macaroni and cheese. In the process of grating the cheese, my hand slipped and the cheese grater flung to the floor, with it bits of cheese. This is one of those moments that sets me over the edge, into a hissy fit. I started slamming surfaces and proclaiming "goddamnit! I am done! I need to get checked out for Parkinson's because I can touch shit without fucking it up!" I soon cooled off and cleaned up my mess, proceeding on with cooking up my meal.

I realize I wouldn't last for one second on one of those high pressure cooking competition shows. My meltdown would be of epic proportions. When thousands of dollars are at stake to get those cupcakes out on time for the judges to rip apart mentally simultaneously while ripping apart with their tongue and saliva, dropping one utensil in the rush would be enough send my flying off the handle.

I'm normally a level headed individual. I'll stick to my hobbyist meal preparations and take it in perspective. After all, life is messy and probably meant to be that way.


I agree that solving the Federal Budget deficit and debt ceiling is a complicated algorithm. I'm surprised that congress really hasn't seemed to acknowledge the people's cries for job creation. I would think that would be a good thing for their fiscal problem. Get more people working, making income, paying taxes. Trickle down economics is a phony philosophy that has proven not to work, only serve the accumulation of wealth of a small percentage. Solving this economic crisis is simple, get people working. They want to work. The government gets more tax money (without even having to raise taxes) to start paying down it's debt, keep itself operating, and people start buying goods and services which will then increase revenue for business. But the U.S. congress does not serve the people. It serves Lobbyists. Congress doesn't care about job creation, doesn't want job creation, because that will cut into the gargantuan profit margins of the Fortune 500, which will cut into their campaign contributions.

I think we're getting to a point in time when dealing with supply and demand that the word profit should be phased out and replaced with benefit. Profit doesn't solve. What is the physical benefit of doing business on behalf of the business owners, the employees, the customers? The delivery of a need somewhere in the pyramid of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. What does the human body do with profit? What does the soul do with profit? Perhaps I am being too literal and melodramatic here, of course money let's you buy your basic human needs; your hot dogs and potato salad for dinner, your toilet paper, your medication, and the items at the top, the self actualization, your yoga classes, scuba diving trips, hang gliding adventures. But money didn't really create that scuba gear or your prescription refill...materials did, human labor did. Material and human labor are churned through and tossed aside without much regard in the current economy, but the value of a dollar, how dare we let that slip on the index.

Commerce and governance continues to run via an engine of bullshit. The population grows, needs grow, global warming continues to bring us stronger storms than we've seen in the past yet we continue to elect and place our faith in leaders that cling to old Politcal philosophies and deny adaptation to the above. We currently have no innovators in the law making body.

I am okay with the U.S. defaulting on its debts. I am okay with all of Europe defaulting on its debts. I am okay with the value of Yuan sinking. Because maybe then, and only then, will everybody be forced to rethink how we pay for shit. The laws of supply and demand are not as fixed as the laws of chemistry, they can be altered. Hell, we can synthesize chemicals, we can synthesize buoyant economies with smart management of resources.

A little innovation, because commerce and governance continues to run via an engine of bullshit. Let's think benefit. Profit doesn't have the same ring as it once did.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Body Temp

I went through a good chunk of my adult life being ill aware that the direction in which a ceiling fan turns makes a difference whether it sucks hot air up and out or if it pushes hot air upon you. A friend was over for dinner the other night and as we don't have air conditioning at the moment, my girlfriend and I were most likely naturally bemoaning our ceaselessly sweaty brows. He posited a simple, observational question on which direction our fans spun. We kind of disregarded it at first, like, what difference does it make, it's blowing! But he persisted and said let's try it. So we did. And we stood beneath its blow and felt the difference and he was a correct gentleman. So the day before the hottest two days of the summer (so far) we got it straightened out. Strangely I feel a touch of de ja vu on this fan directional knowledge, that it felt familiar somehow, that I actually did know of this fact and yet somehow over the course of my 27 years of brain collected information about the world, this bit had been squeezed to the far back of my awareness of simple, everyday inefficiencies. I can't help but feel embarrassed, as the next day at work I mentioned to my colleagues my new found nugget, as though I had discovered something radical about home economics. And they all nonchalantly proclaimed their previous knowledge of the fact. Everyone in the world knew of this trick except me and my girlfriend. And my girlfriend is a smart cookie. Although even more embarrassing is that subconsciously I knew of this fan directional shit and did not make any steps to ensure our fan correctness beforehand, two years in this apartment and these were not the first hot days we've suffered here. But a problem solved is a problem solved.

Something else we've been trying is filling a bucket of ice and setting it in front of a box fan and works a little like a makeshift AC unit. Certainly not as intense, but helpful.

I spend most of the day under the blast of AC at work, which makes the heat even more overwhelming at the end of the day. I'm wondering if air conditioning is making us wimpier as a species. Sure there's global warming, but mankind has survived through heat waves for hundreds of thousands of years, and a now a high day in the 90s shuts us down and in. Productivity slips....slips...slips, like the sweat of our pits. Going from extremely cool conditions certainly cannot be the best thing for the human body. A bit shock going on to the internal temperature regulation organs. I really think it fucks with our body's ability to regulate body temperature. Yet I won't complain about the high AC at work. In fact I highly look forward to go back to it tomorrow. Even if it puts recycled dust into my throat. My pits will be comfortably regulated by electricity.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Nation Buried Alive Needs the Right Spiritual Spade, and That Spade is Not Money

I've been watching the show Cities of the Underworld on the History channel. It documents and shows underground tunnels and chambers of different historical focuses. Yesterday I watched an old one on a bunker in  West Virginia underneath the Greenbrier 5 star hotel. This was the place where congress would be rushed off to in the event of nuclear holocaust during the cold war. Once entering they would be stripped, showered and issued military uniforms, which set a weird image in my mind of old white dudes walking around in fatigues and how that would alter their partisan relations.

Today I watched one on Vietnam and the intricate network of tunnels below the jungles and a whole underground village under the coastal town of Vinh Moc. Dug out by bare hands. Thick clay. My girlfriend asked me if I thought Americans would rally together to dig out and cooperate on a safe haven. And I wonder if they would. I don't mean to knock on Americans necessarily, but there is the air of uncertainty about the degree of governmental and personal roles in shaping a nation and reacting to crisis. If a war were to suddenly land on American ground, our spirit as a nation of solutions and production is currently wounded, and I'm feeling our resolve is in a doughy shape. I'm not talking about patriotism. There's plenty of that as evidenced by the rowdiness of 4th of July weekend. I'm talking about my worries of us as a nation of innovative adaptability. If you look at our congress, our lawmakers, everyone seems to clinging to old models. Republicans vs democrats. This worked. That worked. Well in the end you look at our economic situation, none of this or that worked in the long run. It got us in a trench without the right tools to dig us out.

This is America. We pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. Yet I don't feel that confidence emanate from much of the American population. The old feeling of local comraderie seems to be thinning with the enlarged communications of the global population. And America is battered by big worries about business. Business complexities. The complexities that have popped kinks in a nation that has become a business.

America is a melting pot of creativity and as a people we need to get that jiving back whether Wall Streets wants to share with Main Street, whether congress can shift gears and become a little more solution minded or not. I want to see all of us people, not wait on the big business men to sprinkle vitality on us through paychecks, but to find a way to eat, and play and make things without the agreed upon nonsense of money.

I've read about various forms of community currencies popping up as experiments. I read about one example in Japan where say for example you help out a neighbor by picking up his kids when he's sick. You in turn get a token which you can redeem for goods or services in the community, say, get a cup of coffee.

My question to us is do we really want to let our cities and states degrade while money figures out what it wants to be for us? Or do we want to create or own local systems for providing basic human needs and joys in a fair and organized way to reward those who want to pitch in and contribute? I don't mean to harp on and denigrate Americans and world citizens, this really applies to the whole world, but what the fuck, this economic crisis is bullshit and we're all agreeing to this bullshit preventing us to think outside the cardboard box and get shit done.

A nation buried alive needs the right spiritual spade, and that spade is not money.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Blackberry Connected to the Wrist Bone

I used to have a Blackberry for work purposes awhile back when I worked for an event photography company. I had to solve a lot of problems, put out lots of fires and the Blackberry was a constant siphon of my attention. When I resigned to focus on some writing projects I turned it in, went back to using an old flip phone, and was happy with that shift in communication leash power.

That was a few years ago, and my wireless contract now was up for renewal, and I had the option of getting a swell new phone for free. So I hemmed and hawed and contemplated getting back into smart phone capabilities, and figured it may be good for producing stuff. I opted for the Blackberry after playing with several other types, iPhone included, because I liked the feel of the Blackberry. I'm not a big touch screen fellow when it comes to typing stuff, I like actual keys.

So for the last few days I've been very distracted by this device. We do live in a distracting age with technology and I've read posts and tweets and statuses of writers griping about the distraction of the internet. While I feel their pain, it is up to the strength of us as writers to pull up the will power to set a device down, and create, write. Dropping one type of communication for a more intimate, personal, playful one. Sometimes I like to write the old fashioned way, pen to paper. For some time I've also feared how the digital age is going to change literature, something I love so much. While we've certainly seen the fall of the big box book retailers like Borders, I do hope smaller independent bookshops can maintain their survival by remaining an active community location with readings and events. Although I think one cannot say "people don't read books anymore" because I think with all of these devices and feeds people are reading possibly more than they have in previous decades. So, for awhile I kind of moaned about the fact that "print" was getting murdered by digitizing of the reading experience. There's certainly a lot of us that prefer the feel of pages. But I sort of don't feel like focusing on the negative. I'm in a phase where I'm okay messing around with this digital device stuff and playing with it as its own form, find its own rhythm of storytelling, which hopefully can still operate as a gateway drawing people back to print. Much the same way that video helps some theatre groups entice people out to see their shows. Print and live theatre becomes a breath of fresh air for the spectator, a time to unplug. Sort of like a waking phase of digital sleep. Often I look forward to dreams as I would a TV show.

And I'm not necessarily talking about the digital as just promo for the unplugged aforementioned. A river might feed into the ocean, but the river is still a trip in and of itself. A river needs exploring. I'm going to leave it at that analogy for now.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hysteria on the Hill

I had this one dream image stick with me this morning. A big kid stood clutching a bicycle screaming at the top of his lungs on the top of a hill. He proclaimed he wanted to be like his daddy. A crowd gathered around. A little kid poked his head through some people and realized it was his bike! The big kid up there had stolen his bike. But the big kid was wailing and screeching, a fine hysteria. No one attempted to correct the injustice. No one was quite sure what would happen next, the hysteria continued. Would the kid ride the bike down the hill and off and away? He continued to proclaim his need to be like his dad. A rumor, or a fact circulated through the crowd that the big kid's father was currently serving time for Grand Theft Auto.

The hysteria continued. People got bored. I snuck up around the back of the hill to try to talk some sense into him. He rode off when I gently touched his shoulder.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Fat Fever

I'm probably one of the only people I know without the Air Conditioning. Maybe it's because I'm rugged and tough. Or fairly poor. Last night the humidity in Chicago got vicious, a little build up of moisture of the approaching storm we had this morning. I could hardly sleep last night, I even turned a faced the other edge of the bed as to get some more of the box fan in my face to dry the gushing sweat. I sweat like a fat sliver of bacon pan frying and sloshing up skin oil. I don't think I really slept, but I did have some half dreams where I was cognizant of lying in my bed, sweating, but hallucinated people coming in and out of my apartment. They were un-phased by the humidity, and they chalked it up to the fact that they were of a higher class and could afford not to sweat. Maybe there is a spiritual hierarchy, like the Hindu castes, and the energy centers affect DNA's ability to withstand temperatures. But these fancy people did flaunt their dry pits and didn't want to get too close to me as they believed the fat that was oozing out of my pores would stain their dresses and slacks. I must have some humiliation hovering in my subconscious that I can't quite put my finger on. But I did shed many toxins through the exit of my skin pores last night and need to do laundry to get that fresh sheet smell.

From my office window this morning, within seconds of arriving at my desk, I saw the dark clouds roll in, intense winds lash down the trees, funneled down the train tracks. Looked like a hurricane. That is probably how my sweating looked in the judgment of my dream figments who watched me try to sleep.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Bus Hero

Yesterday on the bus I saw a seeming pariah become a hero. An african american rudely squeezed passed a guy in the aisle, grunting "trying to get by." The guy responded with "well, pardon me works." The pariah dude kept asking people how long it should take to get a letter from Florida. A girl who unplugged from her ipod to answer said it may take a week. He didn't seem to believe her so he kept bugging people getting the same answer. Then someone tried to exit at the rear and pulled down the red emergency exit rod, which sounded an alarm and stopped the bus. It was jammed and until it was un-jammed the bus was unable to proceed. So the pariah dude pitched in with his muscle to try to un-jam it. It took awhile and people were getting impatient but he was able to get it free and back into place so the shrill alarm stopped sounding and the bus could continue on its way. Everyone cheered and someone called out "we have a hero!" And I felt really happy for the pariah's pride. He was now appreciated. A hero. Well done.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Animal Anxiety

I was thinking about this idea over lunch - earlier this morning while getting dressed I accidentally bumped my box fan on my cat. He of course was fine, only a minor brushing of an object which glided off of his fluffy fur. But the look of terror in his eyes at the moment was intense, as of course cats are prone to over react to stimuli. I tend to feel anxiety here and there but I'm always able to talk myself down through cognitive recognition of the actual smallness of some stressors. But take for instance last week, some work was being done on our building and the noise was giving my cat extreme "big eyes." Unfortunately we are not able to properly communicate to him what is going on. I can only imagine the anxiety pumping through his blood - pure primal flight. So while thinking of this over lunch I imagined for minute what if someone injected me with a concoction of animal stress hormones. I wonder how different they are from cortisol and other adrenal gland secretions our human bodies create. I felt absolutely terrified for a moment, and then was able to talk myself down and dissolve the wickedness of my imagination, which seems to be most vivid when conjuring up the worst. Now to imagine blue skies and puffy clouds. That doesn't seem to be as sharp in my mind's eye. Wolves and sharks? For some reason sharper in mental resolution.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Patriotism, a Man Made Nuisance?

Over the weekend I enjoyed the small town fireworks display over the harbor in Lexington, Michigan. Despite the Michigan economy, and small size of the municipality, they were indeed grander than anything I had seen off of Navy Pier in Chicago. My girlfriend, my mom, my brother and I all settled into watch from my mom's sailboat moored on the dock. Across the way a fellow decided to plug in his electric guitar and amp to his boat and play his rendition of Jimi Hendryx's rendition of the Star Spangled Banner over and over and over and over again, with a little Freebird riff here and there. Needless to say, it was pretty annoying. Now I'm sure he had the best of intentions, to entertain the masses from the surrounding townships on Holiday with 4th of July themed music, but it did cross beyond the border of irritation, and people around us expressed their loss in appreciation of his gesture, but he was oblivious. Certainly in the patriotic zone. This scene, the day after witnessing people at a concert in the park whoop around with high pitched wails, accompanied by over the top salutes while a cover band played "Proud to be an American" led me to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, those who try to revel in their patriotism, might be perhaps, the most....annoying people? Is this a terrible thing to say?

I certainly appreciate my country. There are many freedoms I do enjoy, and hearing the daily world news, there really is no other place I'd rather be. Europe maybe, some parts. But when does whooping around like an animal or playing monotonous riffs to get underneath one's skin in the guise of patriotism become an honorable trait? Look at the Tea Partiers and their tooting of the constitution to an almost self destructive level. Or the Committee on Un-American Activities and McCarthyism? Or Nazism? Patriotism in moderation is a good thing. Loyalty is a great thing. After all, in order to make this beast of a nation work, people can't be giving up on it. But excessive patriotism makes baboons on ecstasy look chill, reasonable. And to make democracy work we cannot just be blindly singing its praises. We must question it. Hold it accountable. Checks and balances (with reasonable thought, not just to toot a party horn). Maybe when our country doesn't try to fuck over teachers, when it stops giving out handouts to major corporations which gamble recklessly on credit default swaps, when congress stops playing party thumb wars, when american industry stops shipping jobs overseas, will it be cool to crush a can of "American Beer" on one's skull and catcall. Being a citizen is a little more of a responsibility than rooster screeching for a sports team. Yet "team spirit" with taunts against opposing teams is often an identical twin to patriotism. Am I terrible in expressing such thoughts? Am I a terrible American? Atleast I can be thankful that I live in an America where I can post such crabby rants on "over american activity."

God Bless the U.S. "ay" - insert Canadian dialect