About The Other Day

I don’t want to go on about this much more, but it’s left a sour taste in my mouth- so I just wanted to address that among a few other things. This post is not of use to anyone but the person it is passively addressed to so reading this will be of little value to anyone but that person. With that said-

I want to make it absolutely clear that I never want to make anybody feel uncomfortable. I am not sure why one is so nervous or quite possibly even afraid of me.

Why do I say that? When I was waiting at that intersection, I just happened to be looking at the direction you came from. When you realized it was me, you sped up noticeably to get through even though the light was still green and there was someone going slow in front of you. I didn’t even turn my head. I didn’t look back. I was sort of just frozen because it was awkward for me too. I live around the corner from there and was just walking to the grocery store, and you drove through my neighborhood– which is fine just unexpected. But it seemed to me that you wanted to get out of that situation so fast simply because you want to avoid me that badly. Which is also why I have posted photos etc. of my area so you can avoid if you so choose.

I am not sure how to ever convince you that I am harmless. Assuming you might also live in the area, please know I would never look up where you live. In fact just typing that puts a really bad taste in my mouth because to do so would be fucking crazy. I don’t care where you live. I don’t care what you do. In fact, I wouldn’t really care if you ran into me either. But I respect that you’re uneasy about me. I’m not really sure why other than you’ve never really given me the chance to sit in front of you and show you I’m not. I know you won’t want to do that so I guess this just really puts things at an impasse for now.

So I have to ask- how does this end? Are you following me with the hopes that maybe one day there will be a time when it’s appropriate to reach out? Are you just unsure of what to say? Are you avoiding because you’re not actively working, or view my position as too low to be worth your time? It’s wrong of me to assume anything. I respect you and don’t want to bother or unnerve you. In fact it’s an assumption too that you quickly wanted to get out of that situation, and equally an assumption that you even saw me (although you looked right at me).

I just want you to know we can hit the reset button. We don’t ever have to bring this passive interaction up. We can just skip all over that. I do really believe it would be worthwhile to meet. I will become a professional writer– it is a matter of when, not if. I am doing very well, and I wouldn’t be in this position without your encouragement. But please know that I would never force an interaction. I would never ever do anything to make you feel uncomfortable. In accordance with that, I am patient and willing to wait for however long it takes for you to feel comfortable enough to reach out to me. Please know that I am harmless, I wish you well. Sorry if even writing this has made you upset. I’m just doing the best I can to communicate in a less than perfect and ideal way 🙂

 

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Convoitise

Convoitise- it means lust in French. Lust, as in a desire. Of course just because we desire something doesn’t mean we’d ever deliberately act upon it. Sometimes it is fun to flirt. Other times one must remain conscious in a hyper sensitive environment. La convoitise is part of being human; to feel attracted to someone else. Allow me to introduce another word, responsabilité. As you can see from this cognate it means responsibility. Responsibility always comes before lust.

Whether at work, on the streets or among friends- we the have the responsibility to act appropriately. That means not acting upon our desire, or making someone feel uncomfortable. Intention doesn’t matter where perception is the reality. This is especially true in a professional sense because boundaries are far more stark and the consequences much more significant.

Yes lust is human. La convoitise est être humaine. We cannot help who we are attracted to. We CAN help how we act upon it.

I admit to occasionally flirting. I mean it harmlessly because I know that the feeling is not mutual. I once posted a picture of myself, tanned in a bikini, in the best shape of my life. I was laid out on a bed, in a hotel. The caption may not have indicated much, but I’m sure the implication was clear. I was dumb and 25. I would never post something like that now. Even had they showed up, what would come of that? Nothing good. Nonetheless I did it, and have occasionally continued to blur that line between professional and ‘completely inappropriate.’

I can completely understand why one would be nervous to meet on the basis of that one-sided attraction. But what is important to note is that I understand that responsibility comes before lust. While I happen to think one is incredibly handsome, I value professionalism above all else. I would never do anything to jeopardize an opportunity to learn from a successful person that I admire above all else. Honestly I suppose the only reason I flirt is because I want to flatter. But it’s not flattery if the person is uncomfortable, and so I apologize if I ever made someone feel that way.

Interesting to note how social media also allows us to flirt in ways we never had available before. It’s easier to flirt when you don’t get the awkward reaction in front of you. It’s also kind of lazy. For one, I know the introvert and shy person in me would be afraid to speak to this person let alone flirt with them. I’d be mortified. In fact I’m kind of mortified just imagining their reaction. But to post passive jokes about silver foxes is so effortlessly easy. But just because something is easy doesn’t mean we should do it.

I’ve asked for coffee because it is a platonic form of meeting (as opposed to drinks or hotels). My desire is purely professional because we like the same genres and I think I have a lot to offer them, and in return would love to learn from someone I’ve long admired, and who himself learned from one of my favorite people in the business.

Mais la convoitise est être humaine. Et je suis très désolé si mes blagues à fait vous sentir inconfortable. Je les regrette sincèrement. Je souhaite vous et vos famille un joyeuse noel et bonne santé pour 2018.

Regrets

What if tomorrow you woke up, left your house and got into a horrible accident, becoming a paraplegic- or worse, died?

It’s a horrible thought, but a distinct possibility for any one of us in a given day. We all like to think we have time on our side. We operate under the assumption that what can’t be finished today can be completed tomorrow. We put off risk and things which make us uncomfortable, hoping to find that perfect moment when maybe things would ideally suit taking that risk, or talking to that person. We assume that we have time. If death is a destiny we all share then it must also be said that some will arrive at that destination sooner than others.

A life is best lived without regrets. If you were to wind up in some awful situation tomorrow, one would hope that you did your best to lead a full life up until then.

If a life is to be lived without regrets, then it must also apply to when we look back upon actions we never took. Maybe twenty, thirty- forty years from now you will lie old in your bed. You might think about some actions you never took. Maybe you didn’t apply to that job. Perhaps you never pursued the career you wanted. Or you never made the effort to meet with someone you may have at one point wanted to. Maybe you wish you could have hired or worked with someone who went on to become accomplished.

Point is, if you have those thoughts then it’s because you failed to try now. Apply to that job. Pursue that career. Talk to that person and meet with them. If your instincts suggest someone is talented, incubate it and ally with that talent. The only way to live life without regrets is to stop putting off to tomorrow what you can do today. Stop making excuses and stop looking for the perfect time to do so- there won’t ever be a perfect time. There will never be an ideal moment. Do not wait.

Learn to listen to what the universe is telling you. Appreciate and respect fate. Follow what is in your gut, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Pursue something- someone -no matter what others think or say. Follow through with what you know to be right, even if sometimes it’s scart because it might be wrong. Trust yourself. True yourself and you will live with as few regrets as possible.

I don’t want to live with regrets. Nobody wants to live with regrets. Stop making excuses and start acting today. Whether your fate is to die in bed, or to die by accident, hope that you let go of life with as few regrets as possible. Hope that you fulfill as much as you could have, and start today, not tomorrow, not next week, not next year: TODAY.

Expanded Universes Are Killing The Movies As We Know It

Very hyperbolic title, I know, but in a way it’s partially true. That’s because films that make up a larger cinematic universe often fail to exist as memorable movies on their own. These films are so concerned with setting up the next chapter that they fail to stand out as their own story. They merely exist as a sort of service. While fans are happy to keep turning out to see each chapter, it seems even they are just looking forward to the next one. I’d argue that this is very bad for storytelling as we know it.

Back in the halcyon days of the original Star Wars, The Godfather— films were written with each individual outing in mind. While Star Wars and The Godfather were both trilogies, they were written as such. The films understood that they needed to be grounded in a particular character’s journey to be convincing. Star Wars saw Luke go from farm boy to Jedi over its original trilogy. The Godfather saw the birth of the Corleone family. Godfather’s I & II are each masterpieces in their own right (we can debate the merit of III).

Today’s expanded universe films are not trying to be quality, or good films. They are an example of the power of modern marketing. If The Godfather were made today, someone in studio marketing with a convincing spreadsheet might fight to greenlight Fredo: Origins to appeal to fans of the original. People would probably show up too. But would it be a good film? Does a character like Fredo even need his own film? I would say No in both cases. That is the problem which plagues modern cinematic universe films. The characters are just not interesting because they are not set up to be. They are set up to participate in an All Star game of sorts in the inevitable cameo film that often serves as the centerpiece to these universes. In a way they are all supporting cast, like Fredo. Fredo is memorable because he is utilized just enough. He served his story well.

Do these modern films serve their story well? They are nearly all rote and formulaic, meant to sell tickets to the next installation. Can you even tell me what the first THOR film was about? How about IRON MAN 2? Who was the focus of THE FORCE AWAKENS? Maybe you remember MAN OF STEELE? Or AVENGERS I? In fact, I’m sure the diehard fans might be able to recount in detail all of this without googling but the average movie goer probably cannot. That’s a failure of story telling because these films are simply not memorable. Even among those fans, can you recount a bit of dialog or a moment which really stood out in any of these films? Did we need a prequel to A NEW HOPE in ROGUE ONE? So much of these films feel spectacularly redundant: huge set-pieces built around weak characters that serve as mere plot advancement.

That’s all these films are: plot advancement. A roll out of endless sequels, prequels and chapters into 2030 and beyond. Any decent writer will tell you that simply using a character as plot advancement does not make for good story telling. It is dull, and hard for us to really care about those we are supposed to root for. Why do I care about Fin or Rey in STAR WARS? What about them makes them good characters, that they are inherently good in a world full of Storm Troopers and villains? That’s not good enough. Perhaps due to the half a century of character development you might be able to argue more in terms of the super hero films, even then they are not given much to do apart from set up the next film. When Nolan did the BATMAN trilogy, it was focused and Batman simply existed in his own universe. He wasn’t setting up  a JUSTICE LEAGUE, or making DC cameos. It was its own trilogy, grounded and focused and for that reason it was good!

I don’t expect to get rid of the current model because it is insanely profitable. There’s nothing inherently wrong either in having a cinematic universe. but if we are to continue with the lazy way in which they are turned out, then I’m not certain I can support them. These films are given such a short deadline, with millions- heck billions at stake. They aren’t just tentpoles, they are the very foundation on which these studio systems lie. As such, there are too many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to adding to the foundation. At some point the studios needs to just trust the chefs they hire to make a good individual product. The level of micromanagement is turning out bland films which do their jobs in terms of sales and quickly fade from the public conscious as the next trailer drops. This is bad for movies, it is bad for story telling and it is bad for the cinematic universes themselves. Demand better, and maybe next time that super hero story gets really bad reviews, vote with your wallet and stay home instead.

Caste

Formatting a thread over into a post. Late last night I noted that most beyond a certain age are unlikely to be single. Once you hit around 40, the chances are probably lowest in terms of availability. Then as you go beyond that it begins to fall off again due to divorce, eventually loss of partner. Between 35-55, chances are slim in terms of availability. So as I approach the next age group myself, I’ve started to worry and am now thinking of the clock.

This post is less about me and more so about some stuff which I’ve had a chance to read from a friend studying the issue of power dynamics and relationships. While I can’t go in depth to reveal the specifics of the study, one things is clear: people date those in the same socioeconomic strata as them. While there are exceptions to this rule it mostly holds up.

Rich people simply marry other rich people to entrench power. A lot of this boils down to the fact that rich people will often socialize in the same circles and work together. The same can be said of poor, middle class people who also date within their ranks- but not necessarily by choice!

On a subconscious level, humans as hunter/gatherers are simply looking to find the best partner to mate with. When updated to more modern times, royalty would find other royalty to marry in a strategic sense. Today, rich people want to make sure that they’re marrying an equal so as to further their legacy and financial prowess. We are a species which is very concerned with pack mentality. We stick to our tribe so it makes sense this would apply to dating as well.

Therefore the single most important factor and first on the list is status. That’s not limited to financial status either, it could be career or education status. A wealthy man still might consider a woman whose career ambitions and trajectory is impressive enough. For the most part, partners look for an intellectual and financial equal. They want to know their partner can pull their own weight. Sure while a wealthy person might have casual sex with an attractive member of the lower class, they’re not going to take the cashier home to their parents. So in this sense, a sort of caste still exists. That’s because humans want to find their biological and statistical equal for procreation.

Once status is established the next step is commonality. If you have a lot in common and share similar values, you will at the very least become friends. Then if there is also sexual or physical attraction it stands to reason you will become more. But the very first check mark is status. It always has been, back to the days of upstanding apes. The best hunter of the group wasn’t going to procreate with a weak female because he wants to make sure his son is a strong hunter like him.

The problem is that this is overly simplistic but we ALL perform this value check without realizing it. If you’re conscious of this you might even become aware when you’re doing it. How many times have you or a friend said, “he’s not good enough.” What they mean is he fails the first value check: status. It is the most important metric to all socioeconomic levels. A college educated woman is probably not going to pursue a drop out who doesn’t have a job, no matter  how attractive he is, no matter how much they have in common. It would just not be deemed acceptable.

Of course this has a way of entrenching power among the most wealthy. For if we all date, marry and procreate within our own caste, we have helped to create a system of inequity. We have preserved familial wealth and opportunity for those who have already chosen to stick with their ilk.

That’s why this post is called CASTE. We have not changed much since the feudal era. In fact when you look at class mobility in the US alone, if you are born to the top 10%, your chances of remaining on the top 10% are close to 90% odds! Same is true of those in the bottom 10%. A select few in the middle will be able to make it to the top 10, but nowhere near as many as those who started on third base. This has as much to do with political policy as it does with social politics. Such a change is not possible without fundamentally rewiring human behavior, which is an impossibility to say the least. I’ll leave off on this: make an effort to befriend someone of a lesser socioeconomic status than you. Doesn’t have to be far below but just enough to give chance to someone who may still check off all the other values boxes. If we all ventured out of our bubble more, the world might be a far more equitable place.

Wait! – Not Like That!

Perception is reality is smart advice to live by. Intentions don’t matter when you do or say something which is negatively perceived. This is especially true when your reputation or professional opportunity is on the line.

Increasingly mediums like Twitter and other text-based social platforms have given rise to numerous voices. In the same way you might ascribe the tone and voice of a character in a novel, you ascribe a tone/voice to a Tweeter or article or FaceBook post. Even if the author may not have intended for the message to be read the way you interpreted, the interpretation was still made. Lacking context, the message can often be misconstrued. Once that happens it is very hard to walk it back because the perception is already reality to the person on the receiving end.

Text based communication is an awful way to speak about certain things. For example, there are certain things you might not want to post in text because of the fact they can be misconstrued. Giving compliments are one such example. Talking about personal issues (like unrequited feelings) is another. What if someone reading that message thinks it’s about them even though it is not- even where you assured it was not #NotaSubtweet? Perception is reality, and by not thinking about how a message might have been interpreted will inevitably cost you reputation points.

((FWIW my own personal tweets about unrequited feelings were about a past partner back in New York who recently began a new relationship. But my first mentor doesn’t know that. All he knows is that I’ve considered him attractive, that I like that I have a lot in common with them and have even confessed to adoring them (in a platonic way). He has every reason to be suspect. I merely care about him, I ‘adore’ my friends too. But yes, I find him attractive but I don’t know him well enough to harbor feelings beyond caring about him in a platonic sense. I operate with the assumption that he is as good as married (even if not), and merely wish to have a professional relationship. I simply wish to be his friend))

BUT and this is critical– how can you aspire to have a professional relationship by admitting someone is attractive? Sure you might not be sending someone dildo messages like Matt Lauer or rubbing backs and asking folks to your hotel room. What we are learning in the wake of rampant sexual harassment claims is that the act itself is often nuanced and many times unintended as such. Just because you didn’t mean that compliment to make someone feel uncomfortable doesn’t undo the fact that you made someone feel uncomfortable. The only way to avoid being perceived incorrectly is to act professionally from the get-go and not mix the personal with professional. The only way to assure your desire for a friendship or professional relationship is to avoid anything which can be left to misinterpretation or discomfort. Even where the comments may be interpreted as flattering, it’s just not appropriate to say or admit certain things.

We all need to do a better job of pre-editing our thoughts. While text based communication- whether via phone or Tweet- might make it easier to just blast off our thoughts, it is not without consequence. Perception is reality, and if you care about your perception you will be more careful with what you say and where you say it and who you say it to.

No Subtweet

Expanding on tweets since I don’t want to saturate folks timelines.

I cannot begin to say how awkward it is to have to constantly be on the defensive about misinterpretation on Twitter. That’s because I used the platform to try and communicate this way.

Earlier today I made a few tweets about unrequited love and how only developping equal feelings for another person could heal heart break. It’s been hard being lonely since moving across country. When I posted that I had just seen someone (the other day, actually) I long had feelings for post they’re in a new relationship. While I have no reason to expect to be with them, especially now that I live across country, it still hurt immensely.

Then right afterwards, I realized my personal tweets could still be misinterpreted even though I wrote #NotaSubtweet.

I have made no secret of finding “ghost” attractive. In a recent post I even referred to him as a model for what I’d hope to find in a partner- insofar as his physical traits are concerned. I don’t know him well enough to have actual substantial feelings. Having things in common and admiring someone, finding them attractive, is not enough.

Even though I’ve said in the past “I adore him,” that too is really just my way of saying “I really care about him and want the best for him.” I say that I adore my friends too. I use this word in a non-sexual way. I greatly admire them, think they’re absolutely adorable – but I respect boundaries and don’t have enough of a relationship with them to have strong feelings.

This is all I wanted to say that I didn’t want to drown timelines with on Twitter.

 

Not in a Million Years

Expanding on some thoughts I tweeted earlier…

I believe it requires a unique mindset to pursue writing as a craft. Specifically referring to screenwriting (but other forms as well) you have to be completely comfortable with rejection. Nobody likes rejection, but those who overcome it usually dealt with a lot of it. While so many advice peddlers shouting down at aspirants say you need to have amazing confidence to overcome rejection, they are wrong. The word they’re looking for is stubborn.

You have to a stubborn person to pursue this craft. For the most part experience has taught me -as a reader- that those who come in ultra confident actually are not very good. There are exceptions to the rule, but most people who are cocky about writing and believe they were put on this planet to be read by Spielberg SUCK.

The vast majority of writers I have met, and I include myself in this, think they suck. Most, myself included, actually have to battle crippling self doubt and the belief we are not good enough. I often refer to myself as socially worthless. I earlier compared myself to an old coin which is so worn it gets rejected by the laundromat vending machine. However, I’m still worth 25 cents and so I must take stock in not being completely worthless. It’s this weird battle of self loathing and stubbornness. No matter how many compliments I’m given, I still doubt myself. Each rejection makes me think I suck more.

I am an introvert with low self esteem who was bullied most of my life. I write because I love it, and it is my outlet and best form of creative expression. I do not know what else I’d do with my life. So I pursue this craft not because I think I’m some kind of genius but because I am stubborn enough to do so. No matter how many times I am rejected, ignored, ghosted, ridiculed, told no– I am like James Franco portraying Tommy Wiseau when he is told not in a million years- “righ’ but wha’ about after that?” What about next time, and keep plugging away.

Because if Tommy Wiseau can do it- maybe so can I. So here’s to being stubborn and writing until something or someone gives. Maybe then once marginally successful more people will meet me for coffee, and then I can be worth as much as the dollar bill rejected by the laundromat vending machine. If only we had the confidence of actors…

Second Chances

A film critic posed the question “Name a film you enjoyed that did not get a sequel, but you would still like one.”

I found this question difficult to answer because just about everything has a sequel today. Even films that don’t deserve it or need it. Eventually I settled on WANTED, an independent comic turned super hit… of 2008. A sequel has languished in development since 2009.

I’ve discussed risk before from an impact on types of films we see (mostly sequels, remakes, pre-established franchises). Instead of retreading that debate, I instead want to focus on the voices we’re losing as a result of this risk averse crop of executives.

Back to WANTED for a moment. After the film became a hit, the primary producing team behind the film went in an entirely different direction. All of Hollywood would probably say on instinct “go make a sequel.”

Instead in 2009, the team took a big risk and released an animated film, 9. While it was largely forgotten due to the more popular animated film from the same studio, CORALINE, the producing team was nominated for a PGA award. They saved this small animated feature from near failure and released it to positive critical review, and it made its money back.

But it didn’t make WANTED money. It was a small feature. After that they would fail to be as lucky with their next film which was a critical failure and didn’t make much domestically (it did recoup its losses abroad).

Since then, WANTED never got its sequel. The director aspect of the producing team went on to direct another flop, while producing a few mid-budget hits. The other member of the team hasn’t worked since the critical failure was released years ago.

This is where I come full circle: So an industry praises a team for doing such a good job, appreciating the money they made and the will to stick with a languishing project; the hallmark of a good producer. Then the same industry turns around and pretends they never existed. All because of one flop. Who made this rule of “you’re only as good as your last film?” Why should it even be a rule?

This is just one example of many I could choose where the story is exactly the same. Where this one strike and you’re out policing is applied. As a result we are  losing more and more voices and talents, including those who’ve done an excellent job in the past. Why, because their most recent project failed? The more this industry punishes people for failure the more we just get the same voices making the same content over and over again. It’s not just bad for diversity, it’s bad for the industry overall.

When you punish people for taking a risk then nobody will want to take risks. And as others fail upwards it’s easy to have sour grapes when you’re side lined for setbacks that don’t seem to matter as much for others.

We should try to solve this problem with the same urgency as subconscious bias given its impact on diversity as well. However, both problems require cultural shifts which tend to be slower. That said, it can be done if people are aware of how their individual actions contribute to the problem. Have you personally held someone’s last effort against them? Why? Have you given others a pass for the same degree of failure? Also, why?

We need to be aware of how we contribute to problems – in every aspect in life – on an individual level.

So tl;dr- stop silencing voices. Give work to those who’ve proven in the past they’re capable. A filmmaker’s most recent project shouldn’t weigh so heavily against them because frankly the audience doesn’t care. All the audience wants are good stories told by adept filmmakers- so give those adept filmmakers a second chance. This isn’t the high school cafeteria table, so let’s stop treating it like one. We’re all sick of the same old voices. It’s time to make room for others and to bring back those who’ve done good work before.

Memories Melodies

The past falls like dust on old records,
but this song remains the same.
It grows older but the lyrics never change.

The melodies grow fainter and the print on the jacket may fade. But every time I play this tune yesterday still feels like today.

Time doesn’t stop and the music may change. But this song will always be that year, that moment, and that day.

This moment on repeat, a never ending loop. The soundtrack to our lives edges ever closer to a final tune.

I dust off these records, give it another play but for this painful reminder that yesterday can never ever be today.

The past falls like dust on old records,
but this song remains the same.
Ten years gone but the lyrics they never change.