Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I Win Again!

I found out yesterday that my script Andromache won the BEA Media Arts Festival Student Scriptwriting Award. That gives Andromache three first place awards. Nice. They want me to head to Las Vegas in April for the ceremony and I'm actually looking into it this time!

And here's a random scene from daily life -- proof that you have to live an insane existence to keep the creativity sharp. Or not.

And yes, we really do run and hide from the mailman.

Mackenzie's Momma -- Agh! Your library doesn't have it? :( Well, since it's older, maybe it will be on TV sometime soon. And thanks for the article! My mom and I are definitely interested and looking to see what we have in our area. :)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Empire of the Sun

“Mom’s going to the store, then she’s picking up little Christian Bale from the library,” my dad announced as he put the phone back in its cradle.

Alex laughed at the mental image.

“I hope she’s polite to him,” I said. “He might kill her on the ride home.”

Poor Christian Bale – everyone making fun of him losing his temper on set (or maybe it was John Connor who lost his temper...). Myself included. But I only find it humorous because he sounded like my older brother – he would rant then start to calm down but would get pissed again when someone would intervene to try to calm him down.And on the related topic of the ridiculous sensationalizing nature of US media, check out SNL's great take on the Michael Phleps with a bong fallout: Here.

Of course, my dad wasn’t really referring to my mom picking up little Christian Bale who was waiting for her at the library, but rather a film starring 13-year-old Christian Bale: Empire of the Sun.

The film came out in 1987. I wondered why I hadn’t seen it until now, then, as I wrote the date a few moments ago, realized that would be because I was four when the film came out. I’ll never understand why I tend to think that I’m much older than I really am.

I loved how the film (and the book it is based upon, which I should like to read) portrays WWII through the eyes of a child who, being an English boy in China during Japanese occupation, isn’t sure which side he wants to win the war. He is resourceful, clever, and charmingly innocent. Needless to say, Christian Bale showed immense talent, even at such a young age – gracefully carrying nearly every scene, never once breaking his concentration enough for the camera to catch a slip in focus that reminded us, “oh yeah, this little boy is just an actor, he’s doing his best, but he just pulled me out of the film.” No wonder they invented an award just for him after this film was released.

Intrigued, I did a bit more reading about Bale last night and learned that he was in Newsies. Newsies. Not only was it a shock to realize that Batman’s only 10 years older than me (or rather, how frickin old I am – wait, see? There I did it again!) and was therefore a teen around the same time that I was a kid, but that he was someone we made fun of. Yep. My older brother Nic and I would wait for the previews for Newsies to come on and roll on the floor in hysterics, imitating the singing, dancing newspaper boys. I think once we even watched part of the film and nearly wet our pants before our mom kicked us outside.

I am so borrowing that DVD next.

And if you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend Empire of the Sun. Not only is it a powerful, unique film, but it showcases Bale’s rare talent, even at an early age.

Empire of the Sun Trailer

Mackenzie’s Momma – That’s awesome – good for you! I’m wondering if we have anything like that around here, aside from 4-H. I wanna take some of your classes!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Old Videos

Oh, the innocence and youth of high school. Or, in my case, the random insanity. In case it isn't clear by now, I don't think I was ever part of the popular crowd, though my Swiss exchange student friend claimed that I was. At any rate, I was too clueless to know one way or the other. Maybe these two short videos, made for my high school video productions class, will give you some idea of why.

X-Treme Sports

A random video. Made for high school video productions. From what I remember, I was obsessed with the winter Olympics at the time, and since we had no snow, I improvised. This was edited to Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze," but YouTube decided I was stealing money by uploading a video with that song, so they kindly replaced the music with something appropriately inappropriate.

Flight of the Priestesses

This film, which I made for video productions in high school in 2001, was meant to be like a painting. You can look at it and can create your own story.

Mackenzie's Momma -- It was so rainy that day that the dogs got over the novelty of the beach pretty quickly! And wow -- you had a lot on your shoulders! Were those classes through a community center? I'm curious as to how you started teaching!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Dogs' Day at the Beach

Even though we live near the coast, our dogs have never seen the ocean. So a few weeks ago we decided it was high time to take them to see the ocean. It was a rainy day and the drive along Highway 1 was scenic and frightful, and we encountered one of the most beautifully hilarious state park employees that I've ever seen. His facial twitching and the way he'd stare into space contributed to us nicknaming him "Frogurt."

The drive took nearly two hours -- not because it was that far away, but because we couldn't find a state beach that allowed dogs on leashes. Just like most state parks. Where the flip are people supposed to walk their dogs? We need a massive letter-writing campaign to address the state about this.

We eventually found a secluded surfer beach and let the dogs out there.

Teyla and Cheech aren't sure what to make of the "big lake"

As you can see, the Toot stayed close to her mommy's legs

Poor Cheech. At one point, he turned his back on the ocean and got his legs doused by a frigid wave.

The combers

Oceanic rock

A nervous little queen

Our view as we ate lunch

On the drive back, we passed through a little town that, with the weather, reminded me of Ireland.

Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post. It was nice to hear from you all again, and I appreciate your supportive voices.

Mackenzie's Momma -- You were teaching?? Wow, what were you teaching? How'd it go?

Tracie -- I don't have kids, but I have younger siblings and have been a nanny -- so I can only imagine how frustrating it is to deal with teens who are being ornery, etc. I think every parent that survives their children's teen years without blowing up all the time is a saint!

Theincrediblemo -- I'm glad you stand up for yourself! Though there's a difference between "telling someone off" and making an already volatile situation worse. You have to make the call for yourself in every different situation, and in this one, I like to think none of us were worse for wear since the note was a subversive tactic.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Forgive our Fathers

“I can’t believe you did that. Playing with the fucking game instead of paying attention. Fuck. You’re such a fucking idiot. Sit the fuck down. Shut up before I smack you.”

This was repeated, in various forms, on the bus today. It was a father reprimanding his son, who couldn’t have been more than eight years old. The little boy walked to the front of the bus to throw away the drink he had spilled. As he walked back, I glanced up at him, and he met my gaze, his expression taut with fear, and continued past.

His dad continued to curse at him, and every once in a while, the boy would quietly defend himself or ask what he was supposed to do to make things right. His dad would bark orders and call him more names. He had him use his sweatshirt to soak up the spilled drink.

And I just sat there, listening. Everyone in the seats around me sat there listening. Everyone pretended it wasn’t going on. At several moments, I felt sure that I had the courage to turn around and ask the man if there was something I could do to help, even if it meant he would re-direct his anger at me – at least it wouldn’t be at his son.

I grew up with a father who was prone to spats of yelling and cursing and violence. I know what it is like to fear someone you look up to and love so much. And the fact that this man was threatening to hit him in public made the situation worse – if he was that bold in front of strangers, what was he like behind closed doors?

I was disgusted with myself for just sitting there, even after the father quieted for a long stretch of the one hour bus ride. I thought of all the times when, as a little girl, I would step up in the defense of another child who was being picked on. I made an effort to befriend the misfits. Why? Because something very strong in me told me that it was wrong to let others be mistreated – even when I was a kindergartener. I idolized Martin Luther King, Jr., and knew the meaning (but not the words) of his “I Have a Dream” speech. As I got older and hung out with more “popular” kids, some of that morality faded, and I no longer so openly defended others for fear of being attacked myself.

But today on the bus, President Obama’s words that “we are our brother’s keepers,” wormed into my heart, and I used his request that we help one another, to make a new America, to lend me courage. As Gandhi says, “be the change you seek in the world.”

I pulled out a piece of paper and wrote the little boy a note:

You are special. You are beautiful. Even when you hurt.

We all must forgive our fathers someday.

Follow your dreams. Never give up.

I handed it to him as he got off the bus. His father had calmed down considerably by that point, and was being rather affectionate, undoubtedly feeling guilty for his outbursts earlier. I saw the little boy open the note and read it. I’m sure some of it was way over his head, but I wanted him to know that though we were silent, we heard, and that though he may feel so small, he can be as big as he wants to be. His father glanced at the note over his shoulder then looked away. The boy folded it up again and I was too timid to look in their direction.

A young man across the aisle from me leaned over. “Did you give him a note that says ‘It’s not your fault your dad’s an asshole?’”

“Yeah, pretty much.”


They got off the bus and walked to another bus stop. I saw the little boy unfold the note and read it again. His dad lit a cigarette and took the note from him and read it as well. Yeah, buddy. That note was for you, too.

They were hugging and playing with a yo-yo as we drove off.

Sometimes people don’t realize how much hurt they’re inflicting with their anger.

I didn’t tell the bus driver that I had heard him threaten his son because I know that some men are volcanoes that need to occasionally erupt, over small things, but that they still love their children. Maybe that’s not good enough (and there is no excuse for harming your child, physically or verbally) but things might not always be as bad for those two as they seemed on the bus today. I didn’t want to do something that would potentially break up their family. But maybe I should have.

I like to think I helped, even just by showing the boy that he wasn’t alone, and by letting the father know that I heard, and that I found him unacceptable.

Forgive our Fathers from Smoke Signals (music by Ulali)

Mackenzie’s Momma – You’re still here! :D But those classes sound so poopy! :( I hope that, once the weather warms up a bit, you’ll be able to spend more time with your goaties. I know what unique personalities goats have, and how fun it is to just sit and watch the curious cloven critters poke about!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Lullabies for Horses

I haven't blogged in a while, so I thought I'd write about my day, because it was one of those quiet, rare treasures.

I started off by eating what has become my regular breakfast -- Honey Bunches of Oats with a big handful of organic blueberries on top. I've been eating them every day for over two weeks now and swear I can feel the antioxidants helping me. It's probably all in my head, but still.

Then I went to my first intermediate ukulele lesson at the local senior center. My two friends from the beginners class and I bunched up in the corner, looking at all the others who had been in the intermediate class for God knows how long. We felt so inadequate, and they all seemed to know each other and were having fun chatting after the two week break between classes.

We shuffled into the library, where our lessons are, and helped set up. We were used to having a class of 4 -- now it is at least 20! But with so many playing and singing at once, our John Denver songs sounded pretty good!

I'm the only one in the room with color in my hair, but I adore it. My grandparents are gone except for my paternal grandmother who lives with us, and I help take care of her. But there is something very comforting about being in the company of other elderly people, as well. Most people my age don't get the chance to interact with older people on a day to day basis, much less talk with them, and that is a huge shame. I truly believe we would be a better society if more respect was paid to our elders and the wisdom and life lessons they can share.

After I got home, I helped my grandma by cleaning for her -- dusting, vacuuming, washing the floor, washing dishes, doing laundry -- listening to her stories from when she was young. She tends to remember those most vividly. She told me of how my father was born.

She was married when she was 21, so she must have been pregnant around 22 or 23. At 25, am I lacking or what? I can't even see myself getting married... ever. She had eaten cantelope and started to feel like her stomach was upset. She threw up, and after that she felt a little better, so she thought it was just indigestion. She was sitting on the porch when a woman she was lifelong friends with (from elementary school to the day she died) stopped by with her husband. They figured out that she was going into labor and called my grandpa, letting him know that they were taking her to the hospital.

I was pretty hungry after that, so I made lunch. I'm usually either to hungry or too lazy to put any effort into food preparation (unless it's a dessert in which case I go all out) but today I actually took the time to put mustard and mayo on the bread (I usually just slap the meat and cheese and lettuce in the sandwich then eat it) before I layered a slice of swiss cheese, a slice of pepperjack cheese, two slices of turkey meat, and fresh, home-grown sprouts. I mixed up some chocolate milk and grabbed and handful of pita chips and was done!

I set my lunch on the table outside, glancing around to make sure Chee Chee was nowhere in sight, then dashed back inside to quickly change out of my jeans and into shorts since it was in the low 70s. You can probably guess what happened next. I ran back out to find that Comanche had slunk out of nowhere and was eating my sandwich. "He even at the sprouts!" I shouted to my mom when she asked what I was screaming about as I watched him murder my lunch. "He doesn't even like vegetables and he ate the sprouts!"

I marched back inside and made another sandwich. But of course you know that the best sandwich in the world was the one Chee Chee ate. I went back out to eat it and Cheech had the gall to sit and beg with his adorable eyes, looking as if he hadn't eaten in months. He's one of the best liar's I've ever met.

I then read part of a book for homework, sharing the sun on the deck with my mom. Though I live at home, I don't always feel like I get enough time with her without something needing to be rushed off and done, so it was pleasant to just sit and enjoy each other's company. But there were three others I feel I don't get to spend time with often enough...

I headed down to the barn and sat on an overturned bucket in Mickey's stall. When we spend time with our horses, it's usually when we're riding or preparing to ride or cleaning their stalls. We don't often just hang out, which is sad. I'm going to make an effort to do it more often. Mickey gives the best hugs in the world. I wrap my arms around him and am flooded with peace blossoming within. Though we didn't buy him until I was 3 or so, I can't remember life without Mickey, my big brother. I've known him longer than I've known any animal and he always lifts my heart.

I read a good chunk of my book, Writing Down the Bones, Mickey stood beside me, his head and eyes drooping as he relxed in the small patches of sun on his back. Houdini reached over the fence from his stall, occassionally nipping the top of my head, wanting a reaction out of me, the curious, playful, intelligent brat. His momma Sparrow would come and go, losing interest in me then regaining it.

At one point I glanced over at Mickey and noticed green drool danging from his lip. I smirked and scratched his cheek and he started -- apparently he was beginning to doze. He smacked his lips and swallowed the drool.

A little while later I began to sing one of my favorite songs, a lullby in Swahilli, as I read. Mickey began to walk away on the second verse and I thought "my singing is that bad, bud?" But then he paused a foot or two from me and laid down. He rested his chin on the sand and perked his ears to me, his eyes drooping. I was singing him to sleep. I sang him to sleep.

It made me remember when I used to sit on the edge of his pipe corral and sing to him, and how he would rest his head in my lap, and how as I continued to sing he would let the full weight of his head fall into my lap, and I would squeal and shove him away because it was crushing me. Sweet, silly boy!

I nearly finished my book, though I was only supposed to read half for this week, then baked peanut butter cookies. I took some out to my grandma then went for a 30 minute run in the dusk. I was running atop my moonshadow by the end.

I ate dinner. I showered and washed my hair. I played the Sims on my sister's computer and had my Sim Teyla put on magic glasses to try to help her become better friends with Laura Cadman, my sister's Sim. For some reason the two hate each other. The glasses worked at first then backfired when Teyla tried to hug Cadman and was rejected. Ooops...

Then it was time for Stargate Atlantis! We watched "Critical Mass" -- the music in that episode is beautiful and the best Joel Goldsmith has ever done in Stargate. And I love Rachel Luttrell's voice. Definitely one of my very favorite episodes!

Cookies for dessert. Brushing and flossing. Checking e-mails and updating the blog while chatting with Padfoot. Life! Beautiful life!

I think this post is more for "me," but if anyone else read it, I hope they enjoyed it, as well.