Posts Tagged ‘california’

Omens, visas and impossible life decisions

September 29, 2015

So, the world’s being weird to me. So weird it’s spooky.

Not quite the dream I had in mind.

Not quite the dream I had in mind.

Those who know me know I call myself an atheist. As in, I don’t believe in a godhead. The idea of a human figure running things is preposterous to me. Any spiritual force able to control and link all the world’s creatures is surely more ambiguous and more complicated than the dude in any of the books.

That doesn’t mean I don’t experience what other people call a spiritual life (I’ve seen a ghost), or enjoy religious rituals occasionally, particularly when it comes to the part where you eat and drink feel gratitude for the good things you have.

Being an atheist also doesn’t mean I don’t believe in forces beyond my control. Recently, I’ve been reminded that I have no choice but to do so, because I’ve felt like the world has been trying to tap me on the shoulder and tell me that I’m nobody. I’m nothing. I’m at the mercy of “It”, whatever “It” is.

I don’t know. I’m probably a pretty shitty atheist.

See, while I was trying to depart the USA for South Africa via the UK, first my sandles broke. Odd, timing wise, but no biggie. Then my other sandles broke, too. Then my car broke. But I found my way to the airport.

LAX Departures International

So close, and yet so very far.

Then, they didn’t let me on the plane because I lacked a UK transit visa. And then, just coincidentally, the UK visa site was down, so I couldn’t apply for a transit visa.

As a young twasa and soon to be sangoma who approached me uninvited in a bar once told me, you ignore messages from the spirit world at your peril. Two days ago, I decided to listen to what I think the world is saying. I was going to get a new apartment in Cali, and see how that went for a year or so. If I didn’t, I feared that the next thing “It” would do is break my legs to keep me here.

Of course, I didn’t get the apartment because they don’t take freelancers and I don’t have six months rent to advance the landlord – not after everything I’ve had to deal with recently. That’s the one landlord that replied to me at all. Most just let me twist in the wind.

So I’m back to nowheresville, limboing from day to day, wondering what the hell I’m supposed to do now. The world and people around me seem unreal, and I’m never sure where I’m waking up until I open my eyes and look around me.

this shit is bananas

This Shit is Bananas. No kidding.

lifes_full_of_bumps

Life’s full of bumps. Yes. And oddly, all the images on this post were snapped in the last 48 hours – as if some all powerful force feels the need to state the bleeding obvious every time I round a street corner.

I know things could be worse, so I’m trying to stay grateful, but I feel physically tired and heavy and very afraid right now.

I wrote about UK Visas and Human Kindness  (hint: they’re opposing forces) in my News24 column this week.

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Finding beauty

May 9, 2013

I just had to go somewhere. Screw classes. Screw film school politics. I can sleep in my car. Drove past Santa Barbara to a state park beach. $10 – I’ll nap til the afternoon and be on my way.

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Cinco de Mayo in the world next door

May 6, 2012

America, like South Africa, has worlds within worlds within worlds, like a cultural Russian doll. The outer layer is my least favourite, although it can be fun. I like the others more. But you don’t really see them when you’re driving around in your car, even whizzing past on a bike. That’s why I decided to talk the five miles to Cinco de Mayo celebrations in Santa Ana, the not-so-little Mexico of Orange, CA.

I saw yellow butterflies, and baby squirrels (so cute) and lots of bright wild daisies and jasmine and men selling flowers.

When you cross this road, you enter a new kind of America.

When I grow up and buy my first palace I’m going to get this chair and put it in the TV lounge.

There’s always something inviting about a bit of empty, fenced off land. I can’t help thinking “why not?” and “how hard would it be to get in?”

A surname you don’t want in South Africa. I love US mailboxes – with the red thing to show your spam mail has been delivered. I always get one letter from the bank (who I have asked not to send me mail) and a rubbish bag full of adverts for stores, greasy takeaways, and other junk. I can’t figure out how it’s legal to send me all these things I never agreed to have clogging up my mailbox, yet it’s not legal to send a bunch of harmless, easily deleted emails.

I nearly just went and played pool there, in the bar next to the mommy shop. Awesome.

Rothko in the mutherf$cking hood?

Something tells me I’ve arrived.

See this is what I love about traveling, and life in general. Who would have thought that there would still be a fruit I’d never tasted? I had a glass of the pink one – it’s a sort of fruit Horchata made with Mamey, which is like a cherry melon…  almost. With rice milk and plenty of sugar and vanilla. Awesome on hot day after a five mile hike.

I’ve always thought it funny that Cinco celebrations take place on the corner of “French” street in Santa Ana. Here’s why.

And after buying myself some hideous flip flops at the dollar store and changing into a clean dress, I set out to party all night long. It’s not nicknamed Drinko De Mayo for nothing, people. Viva la revolution or something.

Rabies alert! But how do you tell if a bat is bat-shit crazy?

April 27, 2012

Rabid bats are plaguing California! Well actually, one rabid bat was discovered after it died, and someone bothered to figure out why it snuffed it, NPR recently reported. But of course it’s news, because well, it’s awesome news, offering great punning opportunities, and in the past, people have died after being bitten.

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This bat is clearly crazy.

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This bat is completely normal.

This is America, so a few searches turned up some cool signs, advising people not to fondle bats, no matter how adorable they were.

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... no matter how sweet and vulnerable they seem.

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I'll bet you er... $5 (cause that's what I can afford right now) that somebody is going to sue due to the confusion over whether the sign related to baseball bats or bats that fly around.

The question I have, though, is this: How do you tell if a bat is crazy? Do they fly all over the place with their eyes closed? No, they do that already. Or, do they start bumping into walls suddenly? Swooping down to steal fat people’s hamburgers?

Maybe you know for sure if you find a bat in your kitchen, making itself a cup of coffee or reading the newspaper.

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If your cat starts acting crazy, eating out, or trying to fly, you know it's bye bye kitty. Time to send it to the funny farm. At least, that's what you'll tell the kids.

Sleepless blogpost of photos I didn’t take in public toilets

March 30, 2011

I have no idea what these pictures are of. That didn’t stop me offering my opinion.

I wasn’t there. I don’t know exactly where my fellow student and cinematographer Alex Griffin was when he took these photos. Maybe you can tell him? (Here’s all the detail he supplied: “The first bunch are actually in a bathroom. Very odd. Had a sign asking not to take anything down.”)

Somewhere in California, I suppose.

1000 pictures are worth no wait... would you mind doing the math?

Decor designed to defeat pee-&-flee instincts that ensure survival of the male toilet environment.

How is this different to 90% of art? Oh right. This is the stuff most of us never look at. It it doesn't move, explode or take its clothes off? Forget it. Not interested.

Sarah Palin will be attending, dressed as a young, attractive Maggie Thatcher.

My Little Pissed Off Horny Pony of Hades

Tye die mutherf*&*er 'n the mutherf*k*&' hoodie. I blame the angry church of the latter-day hippies for this one.

Thanks, Alex. If anyone else wants to send me photos of signs to blog about, feel free. I’m keen. You may not be!

Nude ladies, “Friends”, pool, karaoke and hamburgers at Barney’s Beanery, West Hollywood

March 24, 2011

Do I have to blog about it every time I go to Los Angeles? Well, probably, until it stops seeming like a place of magic and dreams; everything I expected of it and more.

Traffic. Rain. 35 Miles in three hours. Thank God for CD changers and conversation.

Been going to LA a lot at the moment because the Writer’s Guild is holding a weekly interview / screening / discussion series with famous TV writers – last week was an amazing session with Steve Levitan of Modern Family. Today I got roped in to checking out Friends‘ Marta Kauffman and David Crane. And I didn’t expect it to be half as amazing as it was. I loved it so much that I now… briefly wanted to watch the whole 10 episodes of the series for (believe this or not) the first time. I doubt I’ll actually go through with it though, don’t worry.

The original pitch and treatment. Check it out - it seems Friends was originally titled "Bleeker Street" (like in the sad Simon & Garfunkel song) and later the slightly cheerier "Insomnia Cafe".

Anyhow, we wound up at Barney’s Beanery afterwards. It is awesome – and proof that America will turn anything – ANYTHING, NO MATTER HOW ALTERNATIVE – into a commercial undertaking. The place is basically a collection of all the USA’s rock ‘n roll glorification, thrown together in a faux dive bar atmosphere, with a technology coulis.

Great burgers, better mash, and a beer list that made me very happy. A 10pm happy hour too. And all the healthy options and mild food choices that keep All-Americans and Hollywood types content.

Of course, you want it to seem “real”, right?

This picture of a sexy lady pasted on the booth wall, the slightly worn leather seats, and the Wednesday night karaoke all contribute to the pleasant illusion that you might be somewhere in the real world.

Signs of Spring and Memories of Nasturtium sandwiches

March 12, 2011

Orange trees are awesome. They’re laden with fruit at the moment, and covered in blossoms. Multitasking. And everywhere things are going crazy. The world feels new. Yeah, I have those kinds of songs in my head. So shoot me.

The days are lengthening. The nights are cool instead of chilly. The sun is giddy in the sky. I am beginning to think about the sea and look forward to playing in cold, salty waves again.  And tonight, while filling a not-awkward silence with awkward conversation all of my own making, I remembered nasturtium sandwiches and spent a while attempting to explain why anyone would want to eat them. My mom used to make them for us. They were really simple when I was a kid: Fresh, white bread, preferably warm. Spread with too much butter. Cut nasturtium leaves and place on top. Eat! There’s a fancy pancy version here where you blend the leaves in with cream cheese and place the flowers (which taste sweeter) on top as garnish, which I might have to try with my new discovery, queso fresca or “fresh cheese”, which is like salty ricotta that doesn’t stick in your throat – really delicious.

Where were you hiding? Boing.

Anyhow, I remembered playing treasure hunting with my little brother and stopping to eat nasturtium sandwiches in the shade of a saringa tree, and that, among other things, not all of which are memories, made me smile.

Time to plant new seeds already.

California, you still got it. You amaze me.

Jasmine is my favourite flower. It's like the orchid of suburbia, I guess. It can't be plucked. And the smell always reminds me of september. It's a little disorienting smelling it here. I keep thinking it's already my birthday again.

Orange is in decorating limbo right now, with most of the houses back to craftsmen-style dignity, but others still sporting decorations for a variety of past events: Christmas, Halloween, and Valentine's day are all popular choices. St. Patrick's day seems to be mainly popular with car dealerships and well, duh... bars.

But anyway, for whatever reason, it’s good to feel this way today.

LA: How is this is not as good as it gets?

March 3, 2011

I drove to LA for a meeting yesterday morning. I felt like a real screenwriter. You know, driving to LA with a pitch to meet a director in a coffeeshop. On too little sleep. Let’s just say it – it felt real and unreal.

I feel a rising excitement as I get closer to LA, as the grafitti and wall art gets more sophisticated, as the drivers get ruder and the smog gets thicker.

The thrill is still not quite gone.


And sure, it might not work out (thought the meeting went well) but I’m just enjoying this. This is the time when, even if I’m consumed by panic, there’s still time to dream. Everything could still be perfect. And LA is a wonderful place to dream because in LA, a dreamer is never alone, although not every dreamer can afford the coffee.

"I promise you are not just a waitress" - a poster stuck to an electricity box opposite a french bistro staffed by suspiciously attractive waitrons who are probably, actually, actors.

I sat next to two old guys. They were discussing something one of them had written. On the left, two women gave each other notes on a screenplay. A few tables down, two Americans had an intelligent political discussion about Libya. Then went back to discussing a movie they’d like to make. Dreams, dreams, dreams, everywhere here.

If I’ve learned anything in the last four years is that nothing – no matter how wonderful or how terrible – is impossible. I could… find love? Maybe when I’m not looking for it, cause like, I need it like I need a hole in the head. Another hole in the head. It’s possible.

My fellow-blogger Dorothy Black (acaseofnerves.blogspot.com) collects pictures of "random hearts". Here's one I photographed. Spotted on the floor of a coffeeshop in Vermont Ave., Hollywood.

Or I could wind up a struggling screenwriter, working somewhere, writing something, living in a small but beautiful apartment in an area with really good fish tacos within walking distance.

I could live here. I'm a single.

Or they might send me home to South Africa, where I could… write that movie nobody here ever sees. Or that movie that wins a foreign movie Oscar. Same thing really – except then South Africans won’t watch it either.

Or... they say the sky's the limit. What was once in that building that's now leased as storage? Who's the latest porno superstar at Adultcon? And where are all these cars going to? What new building is that orange cement mixing truck mixing cement for?

I guess I hung around for a while. I bought three different colors of nail laquer so that I could paint all my nails different colours. Then I left. And on the way, I passed this writing on the wall: THIS IS NOT AS GOOD AS IT GETS.

Right now, just being near this alleyway leading to a dumpster excites me.

Jesus loves Amusement parks

February 21, 2011

I’ve discovered Adrenaline – the miracle drug that has remarkably few side effects, unless a slightly stiff neck or the odd bruise counts. In the last few weeks I’ve been to Disney, Skiing, and to Six Flags, where the rollercoasters stretch for a mile.

Those things stuck to the pole are gum. I thought they were beautiful.


These places are so artificial they make Venice look like a real city. But often they’re exactly what I need.

A joke? Took me a whle to realise it was. On Disney's Monstor's Inc. ride.

This ride - the Pinnocchio ride - cures paralysis. Get up and walk! We nicknamed it the "Jesus Ride"

Damn! If only I'd known it was as easy as this, I'd never have wasted all that time thinking.

Tee-heee...

Some final films of the fall semester at Dodge College, Chapman

December 18, 2010

The pros and cons of movie making… what I learned from the last month of filming all our final projects.

How many filmmakers does it take to change a light bulb? Depends on the gaffer, I guess.

Well let’s start with the cons: You can never control the results as much as you’d like to. The hours are long, and always longer than you expect. You don’t get to sleep. Creative egos are bound to lead to clashes. And technical stuff will always trip you up at the very last minute. So, nothing I’m not used to from working as a journalist!

The pros make all the cons worth it: The end result of what you made with other people is better than anything you could do alone. It doesn’t matter how long filming or editing or writing takes, because you love every minute of it. Sleep is overrated, unless you have nothing better to do. Creative egos challenge you to do your best. Technology allows amazing new things to be done every day, reviving that sense of wonder you had as a kid.

I took a whole bunch of photos of signs, but I’m sure you’d rather watch movies than look at photos. So I’ll post links to those I was involved with. And a few I just happen to think are really good, too.

Mine – Steal My Heart
I wrote, directed, edited and produced this – on a $30 budget. But I could not have done that without the help of my amazing cinematographers, actors, and everyone else who helped me out – all credited. Not bad for a 4.5 hour total shoot time. The editing took a little longer!

John Nodorft – Rifle Ave.
We talked about it a lot, and I co-wrote the screenplay with him. He did what every writer dreams of having done – he made it happen even better than I could have imagined. He is now my hero forever.

Ezra Lunel – Lucky Guys
Very much a work in progress. But I love what he’s doing with this so far. He and I workshopped his initial idea in a over coffee. Then he let me go mad writing, gave me frequent and fast feedback, and made me star in the movie at the end. It was great working with him – the actors will back me up here. And the movie was shot by John Nodorft – so it looks fantastic. Designed to be watched full screen.

John McKay – Punchline
Suspect you’ll only be able to watch this if you are his friend on Facebook. I helped write the screenplay, and learned a lot about how collaboration works in the process. Sometimes you got to just let go, and let the director make the final decisions. The results may surprise you.

That’s what I can find. I guess I’ll add others as they show up.

I had nothing to do with these, but I like them

Kennedy Phillips – Autopilot

Daniel McDonald – Sorry I Forgot Our Anniversary

Mike Fitzgerald – Niko and Claudia

Nikolas Passaris


Also liked but can’t embed vimeo on stupid wordpress.

Sarah Wilson Thacker – Freeze Dance
Watch

Windsor Yuan – The Day After
Watch

Charles J. Gibson – First day
Watch

Bruce Meyers – Cousins
Watch