Archive for July, 2013

I don’t remember your name either

July 24, 2013

The hardest experience I’ve had since coming to college, about 10 years older than the average MFA candidate I study with, is dealing with the things they say about people over 30. “If I don’t know what I want to do with my life by then… If I’m not married by then… If I don’t have kids by 28… [I’d feel like a failure].” I once, as Key Production Designer on a set, had to take a break to go cry in a bathroom after hearing one of those chats at the DIT station. Granted, I was premensing a tad…

But imagine what it’s like when you’re 80, and all the things about old people have already come true, for you?

"I can't remember your name either": The elderly lady who made this hat won 2nd place in a competition for it. She should have won first!

“I can’t remember your name either”: The elderly lady who made this hat won 2nd place in a competition for it. She should have won first!

I’m making a thesis film (that’s the final short … -ish, in this case, 25 minute) film we make at Chapman. All my key roles are for people over 75 – or at least who can play that age.

I freaked out. My grandmas both passed before I met them properly, although my Mom’s mom, Barbara, was a fierce old lady who would match any game I played with hers. My Dad’s mom I barely met – I know of her mostly through the strange, sentimental stories of my Dad’s Dad. I remember the day she died and my mom taking my brother and I into our room so he could cry. I feel like they’d both have lasted a lot longer if women had careers in their day. My grandpas were around in another town, thousands of miles away, so I didn’t spend much time, although they were both a force in my growth as a writer.

My parents, who are over 65, are still running around like crazy chickens and are my inspiration for my story.

Where would I learn about really old people?

So I started volunteering at the Orange Senior Center – which is a meeting place for seniors (over 65) from Orange – not an old age home, as many assume. I found that old people DUH vary as much as anybody else. Take Wella, who strictly taught me how to serve salad in the kitchen. Anna, who could dance me off my feet.

Today my Assistant Director (if she doesn’t get a real job in time) gave me the best advice ever:
“Don’t treat them like old people. Just make sure they can walk when you audition them.”

This is especially true of actors. One is going hiking in italy for two weeks soon. The other is writing a script. The other is about to star in a play where they have to be on their feet, with an hour of lines memorized… nevermind a few names. They’re all passionate, all working, till the day they day. One amazing actress said “I hope I die on stage, or on set!” And I was like… “Just not on mine!” And we laughed.

I guess that old liberal truism – stereotypes are bullshit – is always true.

We’re gonna riot, we’re gonna say our shit

July 18, 2013

I don’t have a sign for this, but I do have songs – one old, one new, both signs of the times. Reading the comments on my news24 column made me wonder how 10 racists could take over a conversation on a column recommended by 60 people. So I sought comfort.

In Godessa’s “Social Ills” It’s late-90s, early 200s Cape Town awesome. “Knowledge of self is personal wealth we need to question ourselves / And kick pink panther mickey mouse snouts with big mouths Below their motherf***ing belts (that’s what I’m saying!)” Take a listen

And then there’s Pussy Riot – a band you can’t destroy because anyone is in it. No matter who you imprison, there will be more women who think Putin is a doos – not much better than Russia’s communist oppressors.
Watch it here.

Yes, that's a real oil rig.

Yes, that’s a real oil rig.

Putin’s latest video just seems like a joke by comparison. Propoganda…

Rage, and that Zimmerman verdict

July 16, 2013

Any woman who’s ever had PMS knows what it feels like to want to shoot people in the face. Any man who’s ever had his ego threatened during some sort of testosterone overload (I’m convinced men get these hormone imbalances, just less reliably than women do) also knows this moment.

Anyone who knows me knows that my fatal flaw is my very hot temper.

RAGE! Found this while scouting a location for my thesis film. It's in an old juvenile detention center, so I thought oh, and invented this "rage room" where they put kids they couldn't handle, to calm down.

RAGE! Found this while scouting a location for my thesis film. It’s in an old juvenile detention center, so I thought oh, and invented this “rage room” where they put kids they couldn’t handle, to calm down.

The problem with rage is how you just can’t see clearly through its red haze. Although the initial reason for it may be somewhat justified, the next mental step takes you to crazy land. Crazy land is the land of assumptions, self justification, and sometimes violence (usually the worst I do is punch a mirror. Occasionally I go so far as to post something ill advised on facebook, twitter or by email. I haven’t hit anyone since I was a kid…)

All got me thinking: How many degrees of separation are there between the average person (of any race) and say, George Zimmerman? I also know there are plenty of ordinarily peaceful people out there, people who believe in non-violence, who are anti the death penalty, who might lose it with him were they to run into him in a dark alleyway. And the trial verdict has definitely raised the anger levels of ordinary people on the street.

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OHHHH…. STORage. I wonder, is this a sign is telling that sometimes, maybe usually, it’s a good idea to keep it all in until you know a little bit more about what’s really going on?

I do know I’ve seen people react two ways to the trial verdict, which I wrote about in my column for News24 this week. Most black / African-Americans have had their whole lives to consider the issues and were very quick to post. Most (but not all) people of other ethnicities were confused and silent. Not because they agreed with the verdict, but because they had no idea how to make any sense of it. Ignorances is not always bliss. Sometimes it just blindsides you. Let’s hope that if anything comes of this horrible injustice, it’s that people stop pretending racism isn’t real.

Someone – a colleague in film here – posted on Facebook about it.

I was really hurt and offended at first. Had she not read my comment?

I was really hurt and offended at first and irritated by the nonsensical “all or none”. Which is it? Had she not read my comment earlier that day?

No, she hadn’t read my comment, or many others. But, in gross generalization terms, she was right. What she later highlighted in response to some level headed comments from another friend, is more true. She has to deal with this every day. I don’t – even as a third generation foreigner I’m questioned less about my country of origin than President Obama is about his. I’ve resisted this truth at times. But it seems pointless to in the light of what just happened.

Finally, this is depressing… Advertising kinda sucks too.

Why am I being offered info about crime? This happened all the time on Facebook while I was dating a black guy.

Check out the advertising: Why am I being offered info about crime? This happened all the time on Facebook while I was dating a black guy.

Expect the unbelievable

July 9, 2013

Every time I plan to go to LA, I dread it. Every time I come back, I’m glad I made the journey. It never ceases to give me a story to tell.

So today, I went to talk to my amazing production designer for my thesis film. I cursed the traffic on the way to Little Tokyo… It felt like everything at the time. By the time I arrived 80 minutes later, having left home for lunch at 11, I had heard NPR’s news cycle five times, and two special focus features three times. With the whole world out there, you’d think they wouldn’t need to repeat that much. But, whatever.

And then we met, and it was amazing. And then I saw this:

It's a wish tree. You write your wish and hang it there.

It’s a wish tree. You write your wish and hang it there.

What do the notes on the Wish Tree say? Can I be rich? Can I be pretty? Strangely no.

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Can I be loved? Please, can I be loved. That’s all we all say.

Downtown LA, little Tokyo, is home to people of middle to lower income, up and coming, all hoping for the dream. I picked these two because they were the most touching, but most people, almost all people, weren’t after money, the thing everybody is told to pursue here. No… And you know what’s best about that? My next appointment, across town in Westwood was with a friend I’ve barely spoken to for many, many years. We didn’t invite each other to our weddings (that hurt me; not sure about her). I always thought she judged and pitied me. And yet, when I saw her, I realised she was still the child I loved. I remember lying with her under a tree and saying how nice it was that we could just lie there. We were eight years old. And making peace with her today lifted a shadow from my mind. We’re different, but still connected somehow.

If I had a to have put a wish on the tree, maybe it should have been “find old friends”. But I didn’t know that was my wish until it came true.

Then I went, impulsively, in the hope of missing traffic on my return, to get my hair cut. The Russian stylist asked me: “So, most people in South Africa are African-American, right?” Talk about misplaced political correctness… but I like the way she blow dried it.

Then I headed home, having “missed the traffic”. Once I was locked into the 405, I heard on the radio that there’d been an accident in the car pool lane. Two cars and a motorcycle. No fatalities. But rubbernecking would make me late for my next meeting, in Santa Ana, with my set decorator. FML, I thought. How quickly we forget how lucky we are… and then, once we passed the accident, I saw this:

1000_airplanebuilding01

I was late and going about 60mph, so forgive the poor quality. But I saw a building with a painting on it. Didn’t realize when I whipped out my cell phone that I was taking a picture of something else too…

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See the airplane, about to land at LAX? It kinda looks like it’s about to fly into the building – and I’m sure the makers of the new Marvel movie, who bought space on the building front on the highway just before comic con, were aware of that too. Ingenious marketing right? To the naked eye, the plane was bigger.

Ask me this morning what I would do today? I could tell you some things. But I had no idea, really, what I would do today, did I?