r.g. tamaki

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…)

Creativity: Interludes of Madness

tuesday-madness-03You look out the window. It’s not yet the end of the world but you can see it from there. You know you’re all alone and no one’s around. Your eyes gleam lunar wild and you lock the door because you start to hear the gremlins and goblins come out. Suddenly you notice that the rug is actually made out of Ewok fur and you hear the cat outside, plotting your demise because you haven’t fed it for two days straight. You feel the rush of natural morphine, seeping and swelling in your veins. You feel the circuitry in your brain sparking and glitching. Soon you begin talking to yourself, arguing and changing sides. You’re sampling again, medicating in darkness, invoking secret passions and fears, and becoming conscious of the level of sex and rage you’ve tried so hard to lock in. But despite all of this you feel safe in the danger because you know that it’s all yours. In fact you think it’s wonderful, freeing and necessary. You hiss and fret and laugh, and soon you’re happily greeting the madness with bared teeth until someone knocks on the door and the shadows slip away. (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

 

 

Appetite For The Hustle

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So my friend told me the other day, “What if you don’t make it? What if you end up like all these people, working minimum wage because they’ve spent their lives working for nothing? You’ll end up old, broke, and nobody will hire you back.”

At this point I can write, “well that got me thinking,” but in fact it didn’t. In fact my response was so immediate because to me the question was so stupid.

“What makes you think I want to go back?” I said. “Besides, even if I don’t make it—”

Now let’s stop there for a moment. First of, I really hate it when people say that line: “Even if I don’t make it…” It is a statement of weakness disguised in moral eminence, as though money and fame didn’t really matter to you. It is a passive-aggressive claim of higher standards—a preemptive dulling of a theoretical pain—hiding the fact that you’ve accepted loss without actually losing. (more…)

No Quarter: The Urgency of Obscurity

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It always comes at the right time. You’ve just settled in a sweet latency and then it follows you throughout the day; it stares at you when you’re alone; and then it wakes you up at night. You don’t know where it’s coming from but every time it brushes against you, you feel sick and cold, ugly and defeated. You know it’s telling you the same lies; but they are lies you’ve always believed in.

It is the stirring and the fidgeting, the sweating and the stressing, the eyes that couldn’t stare, and the searching for questions you’ve answered many times before. It is you stalling. You notice it far away, like breaking glass, like dancing sirens in your head, and then you tense up like you’re falling in a dream because you know what it’s there for. Engineered solely for your weaknesses, it is both haunting and precise. You know its nature by now. It is silent and patient, lethal and brutal, and it is there to claim what remaining time you have. It’s back. And you’re going to feed it. (more…)