Advice

The Artist’s Dilemma: When The Music’s Over

Photo of Jim Morrison

You know the feeling. You had a great night. You got the job done. You closed the deal and now you’re lying next to someone you thought you could never get. (more…)

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Interview With A Literary Sociopath

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So how did it all start?

Well, it started out just like any disease, just like any obsession—with a headache and a heartache. It happened when I saw my whole life ahead of me, cliched and predictable like a bad novel. And like bones grinding the nerves away, the closer it got the more paralyzed I felt. I became afraid. Then somewhere along the way I found an escape. Eventually I began to do it little by little, just enough to get me by. And the next thing you know I was already long gone.

Was it hard the first time?

It’s always hard the first time because everything’s new, everything’s speculation. That’s why—good or bad—there’s nothing like the first time. After that, what you have to look forward to is the last time. But there’s no way of knowing when the last time will be, that’s why I try to do everything as though it is my last.

Do you have a preferred method of execution? What’s your inspiration?

Everybody does what works for them. I personally have no attachments to any “method.” I do what works. Sometimes it’s necessary to use tact and wit, sometimes with an axe and a sickle, sometimes with poison and charm. You have to remember, the weightlessness of imagination is the only thing exempt from the gravity of life. Other times I sit in the toilet, meditating and feeling my testicles for signs.

How many victims have you had? (more…)

Imagination: The Theft of Fire

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The imagery that surrounds us today are all worn-out, played-out, out of touch. It feels the same every time—every visual, every texture, every sound—to the point that we don’t even blink anymore. We just go through the motions because we know exactly what to expect.

And we start loathing it and we stop caring.

Today whether you go to the movies, you listen to the radio, you turn on the TV, or turn to speak to the person next to you, it seems like they are all saying the same thing—the same stale and sterile, tried and tested, mass produced and mass consumed opinions.

Twenty-first century media might have brought light to the world, but it doesn’t bring fire. Cautious objectivity is the job of machines and scientists, but we are a different animal. Light may illuminate. It may even bring peace, clarity, enlightenment; but light doesn’t bring fire. Fire is different. Fire burns. Fire is passion. And just like the fate of the rebel Titan, Prometheus, fire is something that is forbidden and something you can get punished for. Simply put, fire is truth because fire is risk. (more…)

Roun’s Rants vol. 2: I Hate…

cat pianoI hate weakness because I hate pity; I hate strength because I never have enough; I hate popups that ask you to sign up without moisturizing sweet talk or foreplay; and I hate x-ray procedures where they put a bib on your balls and expect you to “just relax.”

If I lose a testicle, doc, I’ll be waiting for you outside with a big knife!

I hate cross contaminating depression; I hate the linear regularity of meaningless routine; I hate traffic jams, rubberneckers, and slow-ass drivers who insist on driving on the left-goddamn-lanes.

May they all get bone cancer!

I hate baristas who automatically assume I need syrup in my coffee when the default should always be black; I hate the Kaiser Permanente bitch who comes on the radio, deluding perishing old people by telling them to “thrive;” I hate fundamentalists, fatalists, feminists, atheists and any other -ists that have sacred words and ideas that cannot be questoned, scrutinized, mocked, joked about or attacked; but most of all I hate people

who

write like this

because they think it’s

poetry, where in

fact it’s just a

pile of pretentious

shit.

Go suck on a fat baby’s balls, you bastard! (more…)

Writer’s Block: Finding The Elusive Muse

writers+block_fed465_5042647You thought you had it. Last time you did. Now you got nothing—just booze and chocolate and that asphyxiated worry clutching at your throat.

What the hell happened?

You were on a roll. You had invoked the muse. You had the ever-glitter of fire, gamma and lightning of insight, and the opal and tourmaline of imagination. But now, like cutting a candle’s wick, you suddenly find yourself sitting in the dark. (more…)

The Tarantino Effect: Don’t Leave It To The Judges

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The question came for Robert Rodriguez.

“Do you think it’s still possible for an upcoming filmmaker to go the route you guys went and still be successful?” An aspiring filmmaker asked. It was Comic Con 2006 and “you guys” meant the panel of Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Guillermo Del Toro, and Sam Raimi to name a few—all of whom were once broke, undistinguished, Indie filmmakers.

“That’s a good question,” Robert answered, obviously at a loss for delivering some sort of hopeful advice. “Times have changed.”

But then, Tarantino, who was sitting right next to him, butted in and said, “Uh, make Reservoir Dogs!” Quentin laughed at his own comment and so did Robert. “Actually,” Tarantino added, “I’m not even being a smart ass… you make a goddamn kickass movie, and you can take it all over the fuckin planet earth and everyone’ll know it!”

The audience cheered and applauded.

Robert then defended his stance, stating that things are harder today because there’s just more competition. “Everybody’s got a camera, and everybody can edit, it’s just tough.”

“Yeah, but you know,” Tarantino cut in again. “There’s a lot more competition, but those crappy movies aren’t competition.”

I never forgot that interview. And through the years I’ve heard mixed reactions about what was said at the panel. Some say Tarantino is full of it, that he’s arrogant and vain and he’s really not a good filmmaker. Some even went as far as to say that, the only way to make it in Hollywood is to “suck up to some rich Jews who control the system” etc, etc. I consider such comments weak and insecure, and those who advocate them deserves to be scheduled for a session of chemical castration. I mean these goofballs would have you believe that Tarantino just got lucky, and that luck replaced the daily blood-drip of hard work and dedication. Never mind the fact that the guy once spent three years shooting an independent feature over the weekends by funding it through working in a video store; never mind the fact that he had consistently written and networked and shot with nothing working out for him for ten straight years, and still kept at it; and never mind the fact that he has earned both wealth and acclaim by starting out with no money, no guarantees and no complaints. Furthermore, as for throwing the word “arrogant” around, keep in mind that “arrogance” comes from superficial self-importance and ignorance. If you’re familiar with the indie film scene, you know that this industry is plagued with people who start projects and never follow through. I think we can all agree that Quentin can walk his talk. He knows how to drive that sword to the hilt. Besides, “modesty” might go a long way but let’s not forget that it is also a pretext for insecurity, for fear of backing up what you say you’ll do, and for diffidence in standing by your principles without the support of a crowd, group or organization. But such is the ideology of the hopeful nonparticipant, which goes like this: “As long as the system is corrupt and the people that are in it are also corrupt, then I am not a total failure.” Because at the end of the day, only those who show up and finish what they started get to feast; the rest can hate, complain and fight over the leftovers.

Now I’m far from a Tarantino fanboy (though I regard him as a legitimate, modern great), but his statement assures me. It assures me that the system works and we, as indie creators, still have a chance. Despite all the marketing and the committees and the compromises, I still like to think that the craft, in its most basic state, is still pure. Because to me, a good piece of work is like a knockout.

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A knockout is independent of the referee’s arbitration, score-cards or panel judges. There’s no trial, objections or debate. Irrespective of previous dispositions, biases or whatever, everybody who saw it cannot dispute what just happened. In the same vein, a good film doesn’t need big-budget special effects, a star-studded cast, or film awards; it just needs to be undisputed. It just needs to be good.

As a hungry neophyte coming up, I believe that breaking the difference and passing through the trials from amateur to pro must be the young filmmaker’s priority. Should one attain this in their technique and work ethic, the rest should be promotion.

Don’t hope. Make sure.

 

Fear: A Moment Of Clarity

 

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The city is at its rush hour plight. Everyone is out and about, going where they’re supposed to go. You see everything in solar salience—from parrots to canaries, vultures to pigeons, crows to eagles, circling above you in skyscraper altitudes. There they are pandering and advertising, sampling and soliciting, compensating, violating, enduring, hunting. Then you realize something. You’re getting older by the day. You can’t read two pages of a book without getting tired, and your only bff in the last few months has been Jon Snow. Every night you can’t wait to pass out so you can stop feeling sorry for yourself, because you know that all this time you have been wasting your life away. Trapped in a fate of your own design, you have been doing what you don’t want to do each and everyday.

And yet you still do it. Defensive and evasive you circle the drain for the hundredth time just like everybody else. Why?

You know why. You’re afraid of leaving your job. You’re afraid of leaving your house. You’re afraid of leaving your husband, your girlfriend, your friends. You’re afraid to forsake your relatives, mortgage, cars, school, loans, and everything else you don’t necessarily want but just happen to be stuck with for a long time. You argue that this is normal. You pretend that you don’t want power. And you say to yourself that only a handful make it anyway. Why try? Through the years you made yourself believe in the funnel factories of aggregate potential and the virtual rabies of self-doubt. Then somewhere along the way your eyes dimmed and lost its fire. Now, you’re even afraid of leaving your own miserable self.

But then ask yourself: what are you holding on to again?

Perceived risks and neglected opportunities, secondhand knowledge and firsthand misery, these are the nature of modern fears. But wait a minute. This is actually good news. Dying slow used to be a luxury. Today, in the developed world, you are more likely to die in the poison drip of depression rather than in fatal, catastrophic social conditions. That ain’t too bad is it? Unless of course you want a better way.

And there is a better way. Getting intimate with your fears has always been a good thing so long as you learn what it is trying to tell you. Physical fear warns you of physical harm. Emotional fear warns you of oncoming emotional tragedies. You just have to learn to adjust to it. Life has never been about sedating or eradicating risk. The people we herald and idolize are all residents of fear. What you need to do is listen to it. A true examination of your own fears will provide a reality bath, an undiluted self-appraisal that will take you to another level. Because despite what you’ve heard or what you’ve been told, you are not enough.

You have to change, to dare greatly, and to act with courage. You have the human raw materials to succeed and you must forge something stronger than yourself to barrel through. Do not erase the warpaint of your tears. Do not suppress the drumbeats of your heart. Do not wish to delete your past failures because without them, you wouldn’t have access to the wisdom you have today. Smile in the face of your demons. Be happy that you heard its whispers and screams instead of the other way around. Because only when we master our fears will we be able to master our lives.

 

Ray Bradbury

 

 

Cure in Chaos

Detective-Comics-Vol.-1-880-animated-comic-book-coverIn a deck of cards the Jester is the only card without a rank or suit. He does not kneel to the King of Diamonds, serve the Queen of Hearts, nor answer to the Jack of Clubs. And even though he cannot brandish the Ace of Spades, he is nevertheless included in the set without purpose or utility—he is only there to cause distraction and discord.

In creation myths, the Trickster is also an anomaly. Neither good nor evil, he is both carnal and divine at the same time. Loyal only to his pleasures, this mischievous entity is nonetheless capable of good deeds and celestial engineering through a state of chaos.

This brings us to the most famous and modern incarnation of this creature, that is the Batman’s Joker. The Joker is unlike other super villains in that he is a killer without a pattern. This is why the Joker is Batman’s arch-nemesis, because he cannot be defined and he goes after your friends and family, where it hurts, i.e. the balls. Madness and chaos are his state of only normalcy. And in a way, although most of us are not lethal sociopaths, writers also thrive in such an extreme state. (more…)

Roun’s Rants Vol.5: Bitching

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“Declaring intent is not execution.” —Mark Twight

The other day I found myself bitching again. I didn’t know I was doing it at the time, but I knew something was wrong. A girl that I was trying to seduce was not responding to my advances. Try as I may, the pimp juice just wasn’t working. But that is the canary in the coal mine, so to speak. The girl was trying to tell me something, but she was trying to be nice to spare my ego. Nevertheless her actions spoke loud and clear.

Why are you acting like a little bitch? (more…)