Monday, September 4, 2023

Making It Happen

A great man once told me, "You can make things happen. You can watch things happen. Or, you can wonder what the hell happened?" Let's take those in reverse order.... 

Wondering what the hell happened means that you're effectively witnessing the event after the fact, and relying on second, third, and even fourth hand reporting of what took place, subject to the "reporter's interpretation." Never a good thing, as you may have an opposite opinion of the person telling you the story about what's going on around you with or without your consent. 

Watching something happen means that you get to interpret the events, and if you're so inclined, you get to write your own story subject to your interpretation. Sporting events and protest marches fall under this category, as do strikes and picket lines. I bring this up because we're currently in the middle of two strikes within the entertainment industry, and there was another going on with hotel workers, however, I believe that one to be settled. Aside: Strikes have a cascading effect, as one guild or union goes on strike, and others think, "Hey, that's a great idea!!!" If you're not a member of said unions or guilds, you get to watch what happens, as you don't get to actively participate. Sure, you can goto the various places that have picket lines and either cross them or walk with them. Does the free food balance out the time it took you to get there, and do you believe in the various causes? That's for you to decide. All I know is that right now, I should be on strike against myself based on who I am and what I do. 

Finally, and this part is the most difficult, making something happen, as that usually cost time or money. Mostly both. This same great man stated that it's easier to become a star than it is to get your start, and that's somewhat true. Other people are always either looking for a paycheck or a handout to be involved with YOUR project, and to solve this, you may have to capitulate. This is never a good idea. While you never want to be in the first group that we talked about, you may not have too much of a choice if you're the guy creating something for others. I make movies that practically no one sees, however, for those of you that have, I've effectively made that movie four times: The one I write, the one I shoot, the one I edit, and finally, the one that you see. 

I have no control over that fourth one. When you react, I can either wonder what the hell happened, or I can watch what happened. It's a mixture really. I've done all three things in the proper order, however, the point is simply thus: Did I make something happen that was good? 

Subjectivity is key. Do I know my audience? I'd like to think that I do, even though for the most part, we've never met. You wouldn't be reading these words if you didn't get here from elsewhere. This is either the downside or upside to social media. I attempt to be apolitical for the most part, as I can take either side of an argument, however, statistically, you will probably take the other side just for sake of argument. You may have beliefs that are contrary to mine. That's okay. I still want you to pay to see my film. 

Tell me how bad it is after. At that point, all I can do is strive to make a better movie, and start the whole process over. Hopefully, I've made enough money in order to do that. 

There's so many factors out there relative to the specific industry that I'm in, that I have absolutely no control over. Either I have to be the best, or hire the best, and then hope for the best. 

Doesn't seem fair, does it? 

Why, you may ask? I don't know if you did or not, as you're reading this after I write it, and I'm not there. I've discussed this aspect before, so no need to go into it here. It's truly simple. Everyone else in my industry is attempting to do the same thing at the same time. It may or may not be a somewhat closed system, however, wanting it bad enough may not be enough sometimes. 

Other times you end up being chosen for something that you didn't expect, and you have a chance to excel. You've made something happen. Thank you.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

This Day is Always Hard

Effectively two thirds of my life without him. I don't know if I'll be able to get through all of this to the point where last year I never posted what I wrote on that day, 40 years later. It still affects me. I see myself in him sometimes, and it doesn't scare me, however it reminds me of effectively how I was raised. A few years ago, I orated a variation on the story that I wrote at the 35 anniversary of his death. If you haven't guessed already, I'm talking about my father. The man that taught me chess, blackjack, and magic among other things is simply gone but not forgotten. History is a tricky thing. We live in an age where most of the information that's freely available out there was created within this generation or the last. People are living longer, and it was last May when I had officially lived longer than my dad did, and with either luck or divine intervention depending on who or what you believe, I'll live at least twice as long as he did. He lived in an age where a glass or two of hard liquor every day or night wasn't considered a bad thing. I honor his memory every once in awhile by ordering either a Manhattan or an Old Fashion (ed?) instead of my usual wine cooler. I may do that the next time I goto the Castle, although, they took down his caricature several years ago. I have it here at home. A rereading of his obituary published in Genii Magazine tells of times he was the only performer there keeping the place open. That's a simple lookup if you're interested; Frederick M. Shields. You'll also find the picture of him on the cover dated Feb. 1959. I've published that before here, so no need to insert it again. I did grow a full on beard and kept it trim this year for no other reason than I wasn't getting free shaves at Barber College anymore due to COVID. It's scary how close I looked to how I remember him. Maybe I won't do that anymore. I don't know. My fear right now is if I stop writing, I won't remember him as well, and his affect on me. Ultimately, this whole thing is about me, as he's no longer here. My children never got to know him, or my mother either for that matter, however that's a story for another time if I can ever get through it. I've tried a few times but can never complete it without completely breaking down. I was 22 and fifteen days when he passed, and my children are somewhat older than that today, although my daughter has a little more to go before she turns 30. I don't truly know that I have the ability to have an adult relationship with my children as a result. It is however, a good goal. Did he do a good job with me? As an only child, 100% of his parenting was aimed at me. He had help as we discussed, as I am fortunate enough to be the product of two loving parents that managed to stay together for 38 years before he died. He never had steady work after someone at CBS Television City decided to go after his job to the point of making him look bad to get him removed. So, he would be there when I got home from school every day, and some days he would pick me up and I'd get a ride home. We'd talk about whatever, which was mostly what happened to me at school, and I didn't truly like talking about that. Maybe that's why I never did this with my kids. Would their lives be significantly different had I done so? We don't live in that universe. He wanted to write a book based on columns he wrote for Genii Magazine, however, that never happened. Every once in awhile, I fantasize about picking that up where he left off, however, that hasn't happened yet. I've got my own book to write. Someone once said we all have one book within us, and mine is necessarily different than his. However, the things he taught me about certain things he may have already written about, so he can live on through these annual remembrances. That is a word, dammit!!! RIP Dad. I miss you more and more every day.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Hell On Earth

is redundant. Life is hell, not to be confused with the comic I read during the late 70's; Life In Hell. Simply drawn characters once a week in the LA Weekly, which is where I got my entertainment while matriculating at the University of Stupendous Choices. 40 years ago, I was supposedly a senior or at least I was acting like it, and exactly a year left with my father on this planet.

I wasn't going to talk or write about this today, however, I looked at the date, and today is the annual remembrance. Forty is a good number, and it's Biblical too. What a deal! Would I have made difference choices had I known? Spent more time with him, and less at school with my transitory friends of which I'm only in touch with one or two x many years later?

Clearly my parents wanted me educated, as ultimately, it cost me my house. Bad choices made. I could've been a guy that got an AA at the local community college, I believe LA Valley right next to Grant High, however, that was way far away at that point.... Less money however, and maybe we save the house. Do I get the same education? I did meet this one blonde girl during orientation that came into the school as a junior, as she did what I described above. It was cool. Never saw her again either. She was two years ahead of me after all.

Would I be sitting at a desk in North Hollywood or as it's called today Valley Village, and typing these same words instead? Was there any possibility that my father would've lived longer? Did I do well enough by him? These questions come up today, as he wasn't there at graduation, as that took place in the May following his death. Damn.

What I'm saying here is that I'm rapidly approaching the age at which he died. There's better medical technology out there, and as a result of free drugs from my health plan, I'll most definitely live longer than he did, however, have I lived any better? I have two kids, however, he and my mother were lucky to have one. Back then, they didn't think they could get pregnant, as I was born 17 years after they got married. That's a lifetime for some of you that may read this eventually.

I know I'm going to live longer, however, that's not the point. Is it about leaving a mark, or moving forward and making better choices so that my life ultimately means something, as opposed to the hill of beans talked about in the scene from one of my favorite movies....

I didn't truly realize that my parents weren't going to live to see me get married, have kids, and enjoy the fruits of my labor. That reminds me; I need to eat a banana today. The need to survive, and do something resembling anything that may last well beyond my lifetime if I don't live forever exists. Did my father give me the proper tools the time he was on this earth?

I'd like to believe that he did. It was time to learn magic and pursue it somewhat professionally after he moved on. Intellectually, I knew how to do things, however, the performance is key, and bringing people into your type of shall we say circle takes practice and time. If he had lived longer, I probably would've had to come up with my own money to join The Castle. I would have a different membership number too.

Having a single digit membership number to the most exclusive club on this or any other planet is cool. There's truly only nine people on earth that can say that. Sure, I should be on one of the boards, however, that's an elected position, and during these tough times, running a campaign to win a seat without knowing anyone would be a chore, and we know how I hate chores. It's why this place is such a mess after all.

Yes, I had two parents that loved me, however, I never truly had an adult relationship with either of them, therefore the need to achieve this with my children exists. However, I don't have any experience with that, as I was always treated as a child whenever I was at home. Maybe it truly is the University of Spoiled Children. There's more acronyms, like The University of Second Choice.

The Safety School option. However, if your parents tell you you're going to USC, then you're going to USC. They made it happen for me, and for this, I thank not only my father, but my mother as well. 

72 and sunny in Redondo Beach, even though it's painfully windy right now. 

Adjust your expectations accordingly.™


This Raises The Question

Oh, yeah? 

I think it's time for yet another remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much. The most famous version is the one with James Stewart, however, Hitchcock made that movie at least one other time before that. 

Now, I'm no Alfred Hitchcock, unless I am for all the wrong reasons, however I do make movies on a more than an occasional basis. Well, at least that's what THEY call them. Who are they?

For the most part, it's those that make decisions that directly affect you, no matter what you do, or where you are. You have absolutely no control over THEM, therefore, paying attention is a good thing to a point where you decide that THEY are wrong! 

The sermon at church today boiled downto exactly this, and before you bail because I made downto one word, I say, "It's a programming thing." Everyone has their own opinion, and you know what those are like. Maybe you don't, but I like to get a PG rating on this blog every once in awhile. 

Why do I think a classic should be made again, when I eschew remakes? The easy answer is that I'm a hypocrite.  The longer answer to fill my arbitrary word count to make some semblance of sense appears following. 

We live in the Too Much Information Age. I was talking about this today with the doctor that tested me for COVID.  Fully half the information available to you today conflicts with the other half. Who do you trust? Not to be confused or confuzzed(sic) with the game show hosted by Johnny Carson before he became The Tonight Show host. 

If I had the time, I could search for the article I read sometime last year, but it basically states that with the invention of modern conveniences up to and including the computer, tablet, phone, or whatever you're using to read this, has created an explosion of information, and over the last century we've created as much recorded information as existed before these inventions. 

I could probably perform a search and maybe find the graph from the article itself. What does this have to do with the title of this missive? Better yet, why did I start this way, and more importantly, why the Johnny Carson reference?

In no particular order of importance; Carson had a character: Floyd R Turnbow, American. He'd come out and monologue about everything that's wrong with the country in general, and how it affected him in particular. Around the middle, he'd say something like, "This raises the question, kiss my grits!!!"

I know, it doesn't make too much sense, so, it's right up there with this bloviation about something I heard over 30 years ago. One time, he forgot, and said, "Oh, yeah?" 

When you're on the playground in elementary school, you'd have arguments like this. "Oh, yeah?" to which some other random punk kid would shoot back, "Yeah! What are you gonna do about it?" If there weren't any authority types around, a fight may break out. 

So, conflict breeds drama as previously discussed by me either here or elsewhere, and characters take action as a test of their well, character.  No matter what happens in a couple of weeks and beyond, I'm going to need to make a movie.   I know what it should be about, however, as previously stated, I may BE the man who knows too much.

72 and sunny in Redondo Beach. Adjust Your Expectations Accordingly™

Thursday, July 2, 2020

I Should Write A Book

Oh, wait. I have. It just hasn't been published yet. I read somewhere that Alan Moore, a writer I've respected since the 80's when I met him at Comic Con, wrote a million words that he wants to publish unedited.

I'm up to a million words or so myself, however, I'm not as pretentious as that, although, I am shooting my next movie in Black & White, therefore the jury is still out on that one....

The real point here is that I have written for various publications including my own here and elsewhere, and taking the time to make it all coalesce into some semblance of something you could put on your bookshelf, or even in a local library, may take more time than I have.

As you know, there's only 168 hours in a week, and there's that song from Rent that tells us how many minutes in a year.  Use your time wisely, or, do what everyone else is apparently doing: Invent Time Travel.

The last season of Marvel Agents of SHIELD decided to do some very science fictiony things, up to and including using time travel every episode, in order to figure out the Chronocoms long game.

I think it's simply being patient and waiting for us to blow ourselves up as we are on the verge of doing, but I think the show is only upto the 70's as of the last time I watched.

I've written on this phenomenon before, so no need to go into it again, however, time travel seems to exist as a plot device in order to merit its very existence.   Oh, the company that did NOT invent the multiverse is claiming that it's the latest and greatest thing, and theirs is better than the Dynamic Competition.

We're in a strange place these days, what with COVID-19 or whatever you want to call it wreaking havoc across the planet.  My life has improved as a result, however, getting hit by a truck tomorrow could happen, and then where would I be?

My Immortal Soul would survive, and depending on the various belief systems would end up somewhere.  I don't truly want to start all over again, however, that's how this stuff may work. There's several theories out there and most of them conflict with the others, and they believe that theirs is the only right way.

I don't truly have a conclusion to this missive, and I'm not attempting to be funny for a change, however, I'm worried. How did I get to a point where caring too much about myself and others in my immediate circle became a bad thing?

A better question might be, when will the madness end?

I don't know the answers to either of the above, however I'm putting them out there for discussion and debate. Not that anyone will notice, as I've said it once, and I'll say it again; Not too many people know that I'm famous.

72 and sunny in Redondo Beach. Adjust your expectations accordingly™

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Breaking Barbi - The Series NEW TRAILER

Have you seen Breaking Barbi? Sure you have. Did you know there's a TV series in the works?

If you didn't before, you do now.  In this land of the sharing/gig economy wherein the market itself is saturated, this one stands out.  Having seen the movie and the promotional material that goes with, this one gets my highest recommendation.

Sure, the plot is similar to several things you may or may not have seen before, however, this is a new take.  Coming soon to a virtual theatre or drive-in near you.

Wait a minute!!!

It's a web series.  Well, it will be at some point.

That's where you the home viewer come in. Tell all your friends, and have them tell their friends, and at some time in the near future, one of those friends of friends of friends will be an interested investor. That's the magick(sic).

72 and sunny in Redondo Beach. Adjust your expectations accordingly™

Sunday, January 19, 2020


It's the 19th. Twelve of those every year according to the math, and one in January.  Was given a happy reminder today, while at the same time mourning my father's death on this date 38 years ago. It never gets easier. I also realize that I've become so much like him on many levels except for a few.

I'm not going into those here, as I probably have elsewhere. I hope he's looking down on me and smiling, as the alternative is well, not great. I don't know what model of heaven you believe in, however, if you believe that death is a bad thing, then everyone has to go somewhere after, right?

I've been thinking about my own mortality lately, and I've decided that it's not for me. That's right. I've decided to live forever. The literature and entertainment would have you believe that living longer is a bad thing, and again, I have to ask, why?

I'm so amped right now. Arguments being made that are just flat out wrong, as everyone believes something that is flatly not true.  Did I inherit stubbornness from my father? Or is it simply a trait that I'm born with based on some randomness that occurred on my date of birth?

They don't tell you this, but after a close relative dies, you begin to believe you see that person everywhere. That phenomenon lasted for a few months back in '82, as I was attempting to navigate my senior year at USC.  As a somewhat quiet or shy kid back in the day, I didn't even tell my close friends from Campus Crusade for Christ that I spend a ski trip with a few weeks before until they asked how he was doing.

Maybe I was still in shock. "He died on Tuesday," was my response to someone that had prayed with me in Lake Tahoe right around my birthday. My first ski trip, and we were snowed in. I only got to ski one day. When everything was right with the world.

They even made me a birthday cake, and I didn't know until after the fact, as they kept me busy playing cards in the other room. It was all the guys, and the girls were baking a high altitude cake from one of those mix boxes. I didn't even know that they knew, but I guess that information is freely available even back then.

It's the old, "You've been keeping records on me?" thing. I keep my father alive by remembering him every day. Same with my mother. I still need to finish the first story about her, but that will be another time, and not for publication until I premiere the story in what I call stand-up tragedy.

I have a friend that says everyone leaves, and she's probably right.  Shakespeare wrote about this in As You Like It. Both of my parents mastered Shakespeare, but maybe my father more than my mother. He was the performer between the two, as my mother became a teacher. They both taught me to a point.

As you may already know, my father was one of the founders of The Magic Castle in Hollywood, Ca.  They have a junior magician's academy, and I didn't need to join, as I had my dad. Almost every day was a lesson in either performance, or  diction. I don't truly know if you can inherit your voice, however, I did find a cassette tape lying around here (remember cassette tapes?) with his voice recording of a lecture he gave there, and I sound exactly like him.  Maybe that's where my @Mister_Voice persona comes from. I don't know....

He could be heard from across a football field without a microphone. I'm pretty sure I can too, however, I've never had a test. Well, I have, but sometimes, those that micro tell pretend to not to hear me. I'm okay with this. Of course, there's a commercial that says, "Just okay is not okay."

Has everything I've been taught wrong? I don't think so. Loudness is an indication of anger, however, it's not a leading indicator. Maybe you just want to be heard. Part of the cosmic unconsciousness. Yet another belief system. I always say everyone should believe in something, and I believe that both of my parents are in heaven having fun.

Is that how all this truly works? They live for us, and then they die for us, and they get their reward.

It's an even numbered year, so I'll be giving back most of what I get this year, and hopefully, I won't be giving all of it to the government.

Some would say that the only two inevitabilities are death and taxes. I've already decided to avoid one, therefore, I have to work on how to avoid the other.