Monday, July 30, 2012

Minor Ghost

I was plucked fast awake from a deep sleep last night. Like the sucking of a bubble through a straw. I had felt a cold index and middle finger poked me in my side. My stomach was exposed as I typically sleep without a shirt on. I didn't see anyone, nor a figure beside my edge of the bed. My girlfriend was asleep on the other side, and so was my cat, curled up by her toes. He would have been the second suspect...perhaps a cold wet nose had triggered the sensation? I would have hoped. But I saw no explanation, I just sat winding down from an unexpected cold burn in my side. Sleep disturbed, groggy, disoriented, thinking about calling out "hey what's the big idea!?" but not sure if I was ready to provoke a convo with a possible ghost, or with myself.

I then got up to pee. And the bathroom felt intensely cold. Intensely cold, I'll repeat for effect. Our air conditioning was definitely not churning to any extreme.

When I washed my hands I was afraid to look in the mirror, thinking I'd see a face standing behind me. A creepy woman's pale face. Or a man with a handlebar mustache and black, beady eyes. But I didn't. 

I tried to go back to bed, uncertain whether my mind was playing tricks or if a cold ghost had  really poked me in the gut to get me up in the middle of the night. 

Tonight I'm tempted to bring out an old tape recorder and do a little EVP session. But that could also really change things around here, so I may just laugh it off until I get poked again. This apartment building is pretty old, been around since the 1920s, so it's about time something did some creeping around. I'll think this kind of exciting as long as some succubus doesn't try any funny stuff, because a cold hand on my junk would not be welcome.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Space Behind a Big Box

Friday, July 20th would have been my dad's 62nd birthday. He passed away in 2002. I was reminded of an old memory. I must have been 5 years old, living in Saginaw, Michigan at that time. We lived in a neighborhood surrounded by a bunch of fields. My dad took me and my brother to a baseball card show at the mall. Instead of driving he said we would go on an adventure. We hiked through the field behind our house, down through a ditch, into some woods, along a stream, over some fallen trees, through more fields, and woods, and more fields, until we came out behind a Meijer, and through the parking lot, to the mall to buy some baseball cards. 

Whenever I think about the feeling of freewheeling this image comes to mind. Ambling through thickets in the space behind big box stores. 

He managed a J.C. Penney store for many years. I remember visiting him at work sometimes, and there was this darkly lit little room with an old boxy computer that would scroll the day's sales stats. He would check that a lot. So there was this space within the big box that was an anti-thesis to the feeling of freewheeling. It was years later when I managed a tourist photo-op location that would I understand that compulsion to constantly check the financial stats, and the feeling that despite how good the numbers looked, there was someone else who would later look at the numbers and tell you they could have been pushed further, and you would have to answer for the numbers.

When I lived in Maine one of our good sledding hills was on a steep slope next to a Wal-Mart. But then a Home Depot was developed there. But year's later we discovered an over grown baseball diamond behind there that overlooked our town and it proved to be a great vantage point for the town's fireworks on the 4th of July.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Prophetic Push Down the Train Tracks

Last night I had a dream that I dusted off the screenplay I wrote based on my book Whiskey Pike and decided to go make it. I rounded up some of my XIII Pocket actor friends, assembled a team, and went about scouting locations. Focusing on a dilapidated look, I trounced around old abandoned farms and train tracks. Once everything was ready to go, I went up on hill to think about my first establishing shot. I became interested in a weedy train yard and started down to check it out. To get there I had to cross what was once a metal platform, now more or less wobbly scraps. A train screamed by, rattling all of the connected platforms, including the one I stood on. It shook me like trampoline ready to tear in an earth quake. I lost my grip and was flung up, and up, my stomach felt the uneasy tickle...and then I woke up.

My demise there is symbolic of the process of making a movie. It fucks you up. But yet, that image and visceral belly gnarl has left me excited and craving the course of the bad things things that fall on your lap while making a feature length movie. Maybe I've played life too safe. Time to go down the path of most resistance? Crash and burn, but its possible the charred remains will be a memorable creation. And this reminds me how much a sense of destruction is integral to the process of creation. Looking around at nature; it's violent and angry, the far reach of space is icy cold. Pain is part of it all. If it weren't for meteors crashing into the crust and flinging lava around, the planet would not be what it is today. We might not be taking in breaths of fresh air.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Votary Nerves - work-shopping

My latest novel project, the one I started in 2009, and have been tinkering with since, I am now work-shopping at Red Lemonade Press' site. I've been interested in them for some time now. They have an interesting, very liquid approach to the submission process, very community driven, pieces grow, conversations happen. Published works are curated from this community vs piles; what's driving conversation, how is a text evolving as part of the direct relationship between writers and readers?

It's easy to think of novels as a commodity sometimes, a story experience we may buy and enjoy and collect on our bookshelf, but rarely do we get to look at them in process, or get to see them on a final leg of a journey; polished yet still a little raw. I like the idea of that, and what Red Lemonade has concocted. And this being my first true novel length work, I'm still very much a student of the craft, and probably still will be on the outset of my fifth, tenth, and subsequent novel thereafter.

Coming from a background in theatre, I've always enjoyed the process of work-shopping and previewing a show for an audience. A nice chance to gain some objective perspective on how what's been churning in your head is actually translating, before you stamp it as a final thing and say it is what it is. I invite you to check out my manuscript, "Votary Nerves," a coming of age tale; a psycho nautical slide down the TV set of a young man's mind at the tale end of his adolescence. It's getting there. Your feedback is important to me. Hungry, I am, for readers and feedback.
Check it out here->

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Growing Out Of Us

Back in college, my friend Dan Mac Rae and I made this short film, our first venture together  that continued on as our Three Leaves Productions company. We kept bumping into one another around Chicago, had once had an acting class together. I had written a short screenplay, he asked to run with a draft and forged it into a better one. This movie takes place in part over the 4th of July, so I thought today a perfect one to pull out a blast from the past.

Growing Out of Us from Jeff Phillips on Vimeo.