Standup Comic + Grammy’s Cookbook + Elbow Grease

Channeling my inner "Might Boosh" as I art direct and exec produce this little pet project of mine.

Channeling my inner “Might Boosh” as I art direct and exec produce this little pet project of mine.

Cookin’ it with Corey has been a pet project these last 6 months. Today we dropped the second episode. I’m exhausted and proud.

Not only did I concept, coach and run all the lights, camera, sound equipment. I also built the website off of a favorite minimalist blog from Patagonia.  (OK – yeah – I ripped off that style… but I’m proud I fussed around until they’re as close as they are… )

I’m learning a lot and it’s costing me almost nothing. Win win.

I’m treating the first batch as proof of concept as we’d like to invest in some better camera and sound gear to keep going. And maybe an edit intern. And a screen printer for some potench merch ideas. End goal? Monetize this fun project.

Baby steps.

Who knew hand pies could be so sexy and fun?

Who knew hand pies could be so sexy and fun?

BLESSINGS OF LIBERTY

LibertyI hate politics. I never feel current on all sides of an issue and I’m not quick to posture an opinion in an argument on policy or an issue.

Maybe it’s because I’m not that smart or maybe I’ve got terminal “libra” tendencies and need to *really* have a balanced logical understanding of both sides before committing one way or another.

Or maybe it’s the ostrich effect and I’d rather hide my head in the sand than to take on the emotional weight of an issue. (Note: I stopped regularly reading the news in college because current events and politicking outraged me.)

But one thing I do like is history. It tells great morality tales. It tells our story as a people. It outlines cause and effect.

Something that makes this country unique is that what ties us together isn’t necessarily our biological ancestors – but what our ancestors did. Their sacrifices, hard work and fearlessness. We (as a country) come from a vast and terrifying (or awe-inspiring?) network of rebels and dissenters. People with gumption, brains and muscle.

Our very presence here in this country is proof of a fire at the bottom of our core. Our  ancestors refused a life of persecution by the Church of England… so they up and left. They CHOSE hardship for FREEDOM. They were proud of their language, their identity, so they braved death on the water and came here to this wild territory instead of settling in the Netherlands or other safer places where their beliefs existed.

This wild place must have been so terrifying and terminal… and yet we saw potential. We survived winters and ate dirt – but we lived. A permanent fanning of the flames for our internal fire in our bellies. We had the “opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility for the family and children, achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers…” [See AMERICAN DREAM] Something that hadn’t come before.

Voting in early America

Voting in early America

We have fought invaders looking to rule us (The French and Indian War, The Revolutionary War, The War of 1812) we have fought ourselves (The Civil War) and bled on our own ground to protect our “more perfect union” and to “ensure domestic tranquility” and to “promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” (See the Preamble to the Constitution)

This fire in us to FIGHT for FREEDOM is what makes us AMERICANS. (IMHO) It is our mother. This fire is what created us. What makes us great.

burning-man-man-burn-fire-fireworkspictureid-asgalleryimagetrue-fire-1675796737

Yesterday, when the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage – We simply proved to still be ourselves. At a time where we’re seeming to be lost and reverting to violence, fear and ignorance – a match was lit– and we can see ourselves again. We *are* still fighting for freedom. It is in our Declaration of Independence where we state if any government is impeding our freedom to achieve happiness “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.” How great is that?

I hope we continue to light matches.

Let us have gratitude. Let us educate ourselves again and be reminded of our own fire, of the great fires that came before. Let us evolve past fear and ignorance and into a place where one’s own faith *is* one’s own faith. Where we can own our own bodies. Where ANYONE can have the “opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility for the family and children, achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers…” [Again, see AMERICAN DREAM]

Please read the story of our country through legislation and historical thought leaders! Here’s some links – in no real order…

Thomas Paine’s Common Sense

Declaration of Independence

Bill of Rights

Declaration of Sentiments

Emancipation Proclamation

Gettysburg Address

Dred Scott v. Sandford

Civil Rights Act of 1866

19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Women’s Right to Vote

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

Griswold v. Connecticut

Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream”

Roe v. Wade

Obergefell v. Hodges

There’s so many more! If I had one wish – it’d be to replace all BUZZFEED Posts and “Personality” Quizzes on Facebook with inspired retellings of American History. I’m proud to be an American. HAPPY PRIDE WEEKEND!!!

Here's a weird photo of Marilyn and a turkey.

Here’s a weird photo of Marilyn and a turkey.

FOOTNOTE: This whole starry eyed pontification on American history totally glosses over all of the terrible genocide we brought on our American Indian nations. That happened, it’s the worst and here we are. But that’s for another day. Today is PRIDE.

Experiments with zero budget and scorpions

i-am-brucelee

2015 marks the first year that I entered a time-based film competition and walked away empty handed. I’m  not ashamed to admit that. For so many years I’ve thrown a bunch of money, a bunch of favors, a crazy crunched amount of time and a lot of stress at a film concept and ended up with a great little film that can win over a local audience.

For a lot of reasons making films can be prohibitive to the average person. (Myself included) I’d love to be making narrative film everyday. But even no-budget films cost money. It is what it is. Obstacles like resource availability and time are a huge wall for filmmakers.  I get messaged by newer filmmakers about where I get my funding to make my movies. And the answer is always a bummer. I am my own funding.

This year I decided to experiment with a zero budget. Perhaps it was cockiness to see if I could and a little curiosity to see what it was like. But I decided to strike out on my own, with my own gear, and make a movie for the cost of 4 prop pizzas that doubled as craft service.

So with **$15 dollars and me as the shooter I made a movie called “SNOWED.”

I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish with nothing but a Sony Nex 5 and some primes. I learned how to garbage matte and use key frames and overlay footage in FCP – on my own… and to string together a scene on the spot – see editing issues – and shoot extra inserts to make the edits and transitions seem easy or invisible. How cool is that? It’s like film school again.

I also learned that production value and zero budget are hard to achieve simultaneously. (Well duh) What’s that saying? “Cheap, Fast and Good – pick two.”

Local audiences and judges love gloss and short format is highly effective with quick jokes and rising stakes. Without an ensemble cast of the best in town, this time I didn’t achieve an audience. Without a crew with a grip truck and a DP with a sweet camera – I fell prey to high ISO and some obvious grain. Not to mention, my camera work was very locked off – as I’m no silky hands camera op.

I did have a few friends take home awards at Z-Fest this year. They made great movies. I’m super proud of Owen Royce and Ryan Schaddellee. They are awesome filmmakers and I’m proud to be in the same community with them.

All in all I’m happy with the whole experience. I love making movies!

**To be fair, including festival entry and a 90% discounted sound mix the film cost about $250. PRO TIP: A sound mix is always worth the money.

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Outside the Tucson Marriot shooting in a Mountain Park.

Outside the Tucson Marriot shooting in a Mountain Park.

That being said – I went to Tucson in early February to shoot a video blog at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. I got to work with the amazing Kathy Levine a long time home shopping celebrity.

We had a great time. I made three videos – all with my own camera gear – using nothing but my cunning and the occasional borrowed LED light panel.

 

Not bad. The great outdoors are so awesome for quick, low impact, low budget shooting. Existing light. Iconic landscapes. Awesome.

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More to come from “Low Budget Bri” I’m working on proprietary webisode content with comedian Corey Adam (seen above in SNOWED).

There’s also a high possibility that I’m collaborating with my old mate Stevie Kane from 1 Light on some more goof ball narratives. #HELLYES

Tangible North

Film students graduating

Film students graduating

If you’re a film person, there’s a chance you are stuck in a work related life limbo. In a way there’s a tendency for non-committal, gypsy style life choices based in an obscure hope that you’ll land in LA. And not only make it to LA – make it work in LA – with important jobs on features and knowing famous people.

When people tell me. “Move. Don’t look back.”
“Cream rises to the top.”
“Water meets it’s level.”
“You should have done this 10 years ago.”

I’m split between agreeing with them and wanting to hit them. From a technician standpoint a lot of this is true. You go. Make a contact, work a job, make more contacts, couch surf a little, land a show, get an apartment shared with a bunch of other people, work more shows, slowly carve out a life again. Of course there’s the chance that shows will require you to travel – maybe a lot. But that’s your life. You work in the movies.

From a writer/director standpoint the idea of moving away from my film community and starting back at the PA level for 18 hour days again doesn’t really excite me. They were right. I should have done that 10 years ago.  Which means I would have needed to go to film school in California. But those weren’t my choices and I don’t regret that. I’m a Minnesotan, a Minneapolis filmmaker.

Over the holidays the infamous GRAPEGATE outrage has proven to us that no one really has any idea what we like or what we’re like. If you go HERE and scroll down to Minnesota – the NYTimes thinks our favorite holiday recipe is Grape Salad. WTF is a Grape Salad you ask? No one knows. Hence – #grapegate. At the heart of this disconcerting fact that people think we like this Grape Salad – because some big know-it-all said so – is the idea that we don’t really have a concrete national identity. We’re kinda like the oatmeal crust on the top of the mushy apple crisp that is “MIDWEST.”

Minnesota

Minnesota

There are Minnesotan’s that are pushing for a rebrand in how we see ourselves in relationship to the rest of the midwest. THESE people think we should secede from the idea of the vanilla-farm girl-middle of the country and stand out as NORTH.

I recently read THIS article about our cinema here in the north. It’s a nice voicing of something I’ve been struggling with for a while.

How to evolve from partial child to full on adult. More specifically from the film school graduate mindset to the film professional lifestyle.  How do I successfully choose the path that will suit me?

I think the answer lies somewhere in our reimagined national identity. We are not Nebraska. We are not Michigan. We are the hinterlands. Arya Stark and her direwolf Nymeria. The frozen lake that extends for miles into the small horizon. We are the long quiet drive on black ice. We are the blood and guts on your bumper from a fatal deer crossing.

 

Going to the mall.

Going to the mall.

Just two bro's out having some fun.

Just two bro’s out having some fun.

This is something the Cohen’s have known for decades.

This is something I’ve drawn on, in my own little way, for years. My amalgamation of 3 years of my life’s work LAKE LUTEFISK explores the weirdness in the winter. (That link is currently the only place to see it. If you want to see the third installment “FOREWARN” which no one has seen – skip to 13:00)

That being said. I’m at a place where spending significant (or more than $30) dollars on short films seems kinda dumb. It can be a black hole for resources if you let it. In the same vein, waiting on any sort of grant if you’re looking to shoot a narrative is a sucker bet. I don’t mean to be a negative Nelly – but there’s no money for narrative filmmakers. It’s either new media (apps/games) or it’s documentary. Sad face for me.

While it may seem like I’m taking steps backward and dumbing down my filmmaking – I recently made a short film for the cost of 5 pizzas.  It was me, the talent and his cat and my gear. That’s it. We shot for 2 days.  We ate the prop pizza when we didn’t need it anymore. It was fun. I was also able to try new things – like take the time to string together the edit – on location – to make sure I got everything I needed.  I guess you can call this continuing education.

And most fun of all – I wasn’t waiting to make a film because a grant didn’t come through again. Perhaps this is where my head should have been all along. But here we are. I’m toying with an idea of an homage series with friends. Just actors and a small crew prostrating themselves to Bergman, Polanski or … Tony Scott? (wink wink Joe)

I’m excited again. No more scripts with monkeys and giant Burton style factories – just people being people in rooms that I or a friend can get for free. The art is making that relevant. Not mumblecore, just cost effective stories with really great actors. The world is our oyster.

My mind is liberated.

I’ll post the link to SNOWED – my most recent film – after it screens at Z-fest.

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Here’s a kickstarter vid I made that assisted the comedian Corey Adam to achieve his funding goal. AWESOME.

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Here’s a video I made with parents on my iPhone during our XMAS on the DEATHSTAR themed holiday. My parents are so rad.

Fun in the woods of Deer River. Some hats. Some booze. Way too much food.

Fun in the woods of Deer River. Some hats. Some booze. Way too much food.

21 days later… thoughts on enjoying some quarantine en masse

How we live now. Fear in the modern era.

How we live now. Fear in the modern era.

And now for something entirely different.  My dad, as some of you may know, is a disaster prepper. Or as he likes to call it “prepared.” Conspiracy theories, lunacy and other connotations of “prepper”  aside, there’s something to be said for being able to take care of yourself when the normal ebb and flow of life isn’t practical or safe.

I’m not even necessarily talking about Ebola. As hot and sensational (and stressful) as that is, there are a lot of other (far more likely) scenarios in which forethought pays off big time.

1991 Halloween Mega Storm

1991 Halloween Mega Storm

For example; massive snow fall. There’s been a couple instances in my time here in Uptown where the blizzard was so prolific that all restaurants had to close their kitchens for 4+ days as any kitchen fire would have been unreachable by rescue workers.  This also included any food delivery truck reaching  local grocery stores.  Almost a week off from work was awesome. Eating plain noodles and pie filling… got annoying.

That being said, here’s my poppy’s guest blog. Something just to think about, and maybe act on, if you feel so inclined:

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Ice storms, blizzards, floods, power outages, bird flu, civil unrest, Ebola.  Some may inconvenience us – and some could possibly kill us.  It boils down to a few simple things.  Do you have what it takes to survive 3 days, 10 days, or 30 days without the normal infrastructure we all take for granted.  I guess I am talking about preparedness, disaster preparedness. Bugging In.

Everyone has the responsibility to take care of themselves and their loved ones.  So what am I talking about?  Boxes and boxes of MRE’s (meals ready to eat), gas masks, machete’s and Zombie killing sniper rifles? Not really but that stuff is pretty cool to play with if you have it.

Shelf stable food can be found anywhere.

Shelf stable food can be found anywhere.

Every person should have enough basic essentials to hunker down wait out a three day blizzard.  So what are basic essentials? Enough food, water, and meds for every person and pet in your home.  So how much is enough?  An adult needs between 1500 and 2000) calories a day depending on amount of physical activity.  Children need less.  Foods with a stable shelf life are desirable.  These include canned goods such as vegetables, beans, stew, soups, canned meat, and pasta.  Dry foods should include, beans, rice, wheat berries, flour, sugar salt, cocoa powder (a strong anti depressant) , hard candy, powdered milk, powdered drink mixes and instant coffee.  Yes I said INSTANT COFFEE.           I too am a coffee snob however when it is blizzarding out or you have been ordered to “shelter in place”  instant coffee will  do the trick.  For those of us that like a cocktail you may want to have a stash of your favorite red wine, brandy, or bourbon. Just sayin…

There are a number of other items that it would be wise to have a supply of.  Can you imagine no toilet paper?  Good God.  Not me.  So keep a supply of TP, favorite pain killer, unscented household bleach (more on that later) and an adequate first aid kit.

Mood lighting!

Mood lighting!

Now let’s talk about the power going out.  This is going to cause a number of things to happen and not happen.  Your apartment is going to get cold, and you will be in the dark – literally.   Your toilet will quit flushing and the tap will run dry.  If it is  minus 30 outside you better be prepared and have layers of warm clothes on, blankets and sleeping bags.  If you live in a large building it may take sometimes for the building to get uncomfortably cold –but it will get cold.  There are propane and kerosene heaters available on the market but use them at your own risk.  They may heat a single room which is all you need.  Ventilation is the key to safety. 

If the water quits running you can always drain your water heater for several gallons of clean potable water.  Remember the minimum of one gallon per day?  Your bathtub can hold from 30 to 50 gallons.  When in doubt fill your tub for water storage.  To purify water boil it for up to five minutes or add 8 to 16 drops of unscented chlorine bleach (depending on cloudiness )to gallon of water and wait a half an hour.

Now let’s talk about the toilet not flushing.  The last thing you want to do is use your drinking water to pour down the toilet after a nasty number 2.  Why not purchase a five gallon bucket and double line it with garbage bags.  You can purchase a toilet seat that fits on the bucket.  When the last of the Dinty Moore stew has exited your southern orfice and you have papered profusely just snap the lid on and move the bucket from in front of the TV back to the bathroom.

Candles and batteries.  They are your friend buy lots and store them in a cool dark place.  Get batteries that go in at least three good flashlights.  Get batteries for your emergency radio.  If the power is out no TV, no PC, or wireless connection.  Unless you have a solar charger your smart phone will be a dead phone before too long.

Mr. Brendan Gleeson on surviving the infected.

Mr. Brendan Gleeson on surviving the infected. [28 Days Later]

Everyone needs to take a first step in being prepared.  That’s why I here I am talking about three days.  Why not be prepared for 10 days?  Easy enough to do.  What if God forbid that we are all quarantined in place for 21 days (waiting for the ravages of Ebola to subside).  Grab a calculator and do the math.  1600 calories per day per person.  Plan out easy nutritious meals.  Purchase dry foods in bulk and store in plastic five gallon pails.  Keep several cases of bottled water on hand.  Rotate your canned foods.  Eat those nearing an expiration date and replace them.

So my “lil preppers” do not fear the unknown.  Plan for it.  Take the necessary steps to prepare for a three day blizzard, 10 day power outage, or 21 day quarantine.

~ quietprepper

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Thanks dad!

So there you go. Even if you are an optimist (or perhaps “realist” depending on your perspective) and mass quarantine seems ridiculous and highly unlikely… at least you’ve now read about ways to protect / prepare for other natural occurrences that could keep you from your Glam Doll donut or Chipotle burrito bowl.

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On the water, without water.

tiny orphans

It occurred to me the other day that I’ve hit my optimal lifestyle wavelength when the only emergency communications I get concerns where I bought some recent cream puffs. I’ve been wallowing in gratitude for a while now. I know cosmic wind and seasonal frenzies won’t stay chill forever, but for now I feel like I won.

I have returned from my first vacation since my trip to Manhattan during NYE in 2002. I’m a new fan of “vacation.” I’ve spent every spare PTO day and dollar in the last 8 years working on films. The pressure of that sort of sysiphean work ethic has forged my high-strung nature into a perma-state of always being on full speed. [If you know me, you know exactly what I mean.] Or maybe it’s the other way around. Chicken or egg – who knows.

Altho I loll about now bragging about low drama levels – I’m seriously over due for new work. So that’s next. For sure before snow flies.

Instead of moving pictures I goof off with portraits in the mean time...

Instead of moving pictures I goof off with portraits in the mean time…

Deerborn, MI. Pre-lame fireworks with Desire Forget, jewelry wizard from Owl and Lark.

Deerborn, MI. Pre-lame fireworks with Desiree Forget, jewelry wizard from Owl and Lark.

Trying to prove that I'm not a total nancy - by wandering off alone while urban exploring. Fact is, I'm a chickenshit.

Trying to prove that I’m not a total nancy – by wandering off alone while urban exploring. Fact is, I’m a chickenshit.

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The next month all my spare funds will be filtered to festival submissions for “Lake Lutesfisk” which is the culmination of “Icehouse”, “Blood Terror” and the newest and unseen “Forewarn.”

The expensive and heavy lifting will be to sniff out new festivals that haven’t seen any of these films. Many of my regular festival runs don’t want to program redundant work – and rightfully so.

Let’s see how many weird little mountain villages or dessert oasis’s will program these little monster ditties!

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Detroit! City of public art.

Detroit! City of public art.

Like I mentioned, I did infact take a trip to Detroit. At the risk of sounding coy, there really isn’t any way to describe the city. I’ve never been anywhere like it.

What’s left – is essentially just a husk of what was a major city. It’s the setting for a post apocalyptic film. Everyone is gone. Giant buildings have been bombed out. Graffiti everywhere. And yet – it’s completely modern and American. What the hell?

A crowded beach on Belle Isle...

A crowded beach on Belle Isle…

It’s an incredible place but it’s incredible for the blight of it all. Which is really unlike any place I’ve visited. And there are people there. But only kinda. Certainly not downtown.

Back entrance to the Fisher Body plant

Back entrance to the Fisher Body plant

There are some efforts to save it – but – from my few experiences there, it’s so far gone – it’d be more of a lurid Frankenstein effort than a medic resuscitating a car crash victim. I know that’s sensational – but for example – they’ve turned off the water to most of the residence in Detroit. People haven’t had WATER in 2 months. The United Nations even says Detroit “risks violating the human right to water by shutting off access to those who can’t afford it.” [Washington Post]

No one was downtown on the 4th of July and there were no organized parades or fireworks. We barely saw police anywhere. It was eery. In a country rightfully caricatured by our special flavor of patriotism – seeing zero celebration on the 4th of July was in fact like being in a foreign country.

What’s weirder is that this empty city is in the Midwest. It’s the oldest city in our part of the country. And I ask myself – What’s more American than “American Made”? Nothing. And if Detroit is the city of “American Made” is this foreshadowing? What can we learn from this to safe guard the rest of our urban areas? [Side note: according to the 2010 census – over 80% of American’s live in urbanized areas]

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I have no answers. I’m just really grateful I got to visit Detroit while it’s still there. I’m also grateful I live in Minneapolis. It’s a great city. I there’s a lot of sweet features like Bitesquad to deliver my pad thai to my porch perch and fire departments and running water.

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Graffiti behind the train station.

Graffiti behind the train station.

Michigan Theatre Parking Ramp. Gutting an old theatre to park >100 cars.

Gaussian Blur

Untitleds - Andre Kertesz

Untitleds – Andre Kertesz

In my ham handed study of patterns – for both creative and personal curiosity – it’s interesting to look at the Gaussian curve of an event. The ingredients that cosmically align to create the inciting incident, the who-did-what during the rising action, the inevitable climax and then the acoustic decay of all the previous noise, where the chips fall and how it plays in to what’s next. [How many metaphors can I mix?!]

Granted, in life not everything has the bookend of exposition and rising action or the luxury of understanding the resolution. Chaos, departure, perspective, shifting intentions, distance… so many agents that make the bird-in-hand concept of “right now” actually the unconscious, but still writhing eelpout of existence. Sure – you’ve got the thing subdued now, but when it wakes up – it could try to eat you!

Wait, what are we talking about?

Ok, weird visual.

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spock

My boyfriend Einstein said “Joy in looking and comprehending is nature’s most beautiful gift.” He also said “A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be.”

It’s hard not to force your desires in front of your eyes as you walk about, interact, forming your perspectives on events. Perhaps remaining present clears away our bias, if only just a hair, and allows “what is” to actually be “what is” to us as well..? Maybe.

A fiction professor told me once to never write about highly personal events until they were miles and miles away. We’re so close to what (we think) happened that we can’t deviate from facts for the sake of spinning an interesting tale. I find this to be completely true. I am only now able to make the story of my alien abduction in high school coherent and funny.

…  …  ..   .

Just kidding. Those guys were jerks.

Alien Abduction - Albert Alvarez

Alien Abduction – Albert Alvarez

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Lake of the Isles Fishing Expert

Lake of the Isles Fishing Expert

Fish stories. I met a fisher guy at Lake of the Isles a week or so back. I was there to read and get a sunburn in peace. He just really wanted someone to talk to. As I’m not really one to engage strange stranger men, I must have been in a weird mood, because he told me fish stories for over an hour. I’m not saying he wasn’t a strange stranger, but it was good to connect on a personal level with someone so far removed from my circles of influence. Humanizing. He bore his (serious) personal tragedies and low income inconviences as nonchalantly as his love of cheese burgers from Culvers.

Humbling. Especially when I am a self proclaimed wallower and I proclaim I was definitely wallowing that day. The random and fleeting human connection was enough to roundhouse kick my self pity in the jeans.

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It’s gorgeous outside. I’ve got sunburn already. I didn’t get the McKnight grant I needed to make a film – but my friend Rolf did so – no need to despair. If you do the dance and push the button long enough you’ll get your can of diet sparkling recognition.

I’m finally taking a vacation. To Detroit. To photo weirdness and experience the terrible beauty of annihilation. I love the chilling prophesy Jim Jarmusch made in “The Only Lovers Left Alive” that when the south burns Detroit will rise again and “bloom” because of it’s proximity to water. Foreboding.

The Hanging Gardens of Bri-abalon on the newly de-wintered porch. My resurrected home within a home.

The Hanging Gardens of Bri-abalon on the newly de-wintered porch. My resurrected home within a home.

It's been a wet summer. Storms roll across Lake of the Isles.

It’s been a wet summer. Storms roll across Lake of the Isles. I love how beautiful this place is in the summer.

Urban S'mores Enthusiast. No yard. No grill. Kitchen stove top problem solving.

Urban S’mores Enthusiast. No yard. No grill. Kitchen stove top problem solving.

 

The Young May Moon

“May you live in interesting times…” ~ Chinese curse

Charlie Vaughan

“Universal Sea” By Charlie Vaughan

 

Five months between posts is a universe of information to recount. While taking a break for life, I took the long way around and return to report the world looks and tastes the same as before. My writing chair feels the same. The cats still knock crap off my desk. My phone is dead, so I can focus on this… except now I want to make chocolate covered strawberries and do laundry…

I listened to a podcast once by a prolific writer who was asked by one of his students if he had any advice on “how to be a good writer.”  His response was something to the effect of – live an interesting life for the next ten years – and then write about it – in ten years. As disheartening as that would be to hear, there are levels of absolute truth that can’t really be explained to you if you don’t already understand it. And an interesting life isn’t the most insulated experience either.

Recently I edited forty pages of a novel I started in college. What a way to time travel! (That girl was ridiculous!)  I wouldn’t have written any of that story today.  (I know better.) I also noticed the tone of my current work comes from a place of “knowing wariness” which I chalk up to ten years of an interesting life.  I’m in the process of shifting some focus back toward fiction.  As someone who self identifies as a writer, I should probably write. (lolz)

Things that have happened in the last five months: I took up a full time producing gig out with a flock of lovely weirdos in Eden Prairie.  Accomplishing a long sought after goal (full time filmmaker job) is a blessing and a curse. I imagine it’s rarely what you think it’ll be, and “What now?” That alone has taken large chunks of my mind share.  Altho, last summer while freelancing at One Light, I still had time for blog love. The few minutes I’ve taken to sit and write about my work/life have resulted in the mental dial tone. I’m taking May to reboot my heart and mind to start on a writing project that’s good enough to publish – and interesting enough to shoot. I will make a film in 2014 damnit.

I finished Forewarn in time for the McKnight grant deadline. (Say a prayer and send bribe money to the board for me!) It’s part three of a 20+ minute film called Lake Lutefisk.  I’m about to set up the “Withoutabox” page and actually send it on to peeps who worked on it. Hooray for finally finishing what you start!

‘Tis never to late for delight, my dear,
And the best of all ways
To lengthen our days
Is to steal a few hours from the night, my dear!

[‘The Young May Moon’ Thomas Moore 1775-1852]

I had an awesome time houseboat sitting over Easter weekend. So awesome I only want to live on boats now...

I had an awesome time houseboat sitting over Easter weekend. So awesome I only want to live on boats now…

I overcame a spicy Cheeto addiction I picked up on the return trip from Topeka in January. Thank god.

I overcame a spicy Cheeto addiction I picked up on the return trip from Topeka in January. Thank god.

I legit met Future Islands in March. DID YOU HEAR ME?! I MET FUTURE ISLANDS!!!!!! #bandcrush

I legit met Future Islands in March. DID YOU HEAR ME?! I MET FUTURE ISLANDS!!!!!! #bandcrush

Go see "Under the skin." Haunting movie about human nature. I'm still unsettled.

Go see “Under the skin.” Haunting movie about human nature. I’m still unsettled. I’ve not seen filmmaking like this before.

I finally finally saw "The only lovers left alive." I really liked it.  It's a nerdy slow movie for Jarmusch fans. A good portion of the film takes place in Tangiers, which I've come to know from Anthony Bourdain's "Part's Unknown" as a last bastion for the remaining living relics of the art bourgeoisie.  Which is perfect.

I finally finally saw “The only lovers left alive.” I really liked it. It’s a nerdy slow movie for Jarmusch fans. A good portion of the film takes place in Tangiers, which I’ve come to know from Anthony Bourdain’s “Part’s Unknown” as a last bastion for the remaining living relics of the art bourgeoisie. Perfect. Oh, and one of the characters is Marlow. The Marlow.

 

Greetings from Chez Catnap

Greetings from Chez Catnap

Holiday Moonbeams

charlie-brown-tree

Happy holidays to you!  While at my parents farm this last week I watched Charlie Brown’s Christmas for the first time in recent memory.  Originally broadcast on CBS in 1965, it’s aired every Christmas season since.

The most amusing part of the short animation is Charlie’s depressed fixation on how commercial the whole holiday had become.  Which is a nice little reminder that humanity is always on the verge of hysteria over… something.  It has to be, or we get bored.

My take on the bible (an example of an ancient recorded history…) is that we’re inherently chaotic animals looking to act on impulses and kill each other and create pain, suffering and death. Forever. (Plus the recipe on how to avoid pain, suffering and death forever…)

Forgive my ham handed over-generalized generalization of a sacred text.  But it’s proof that as a human entity we’re very self aware and critical.  It’s in our nature.

I guess that’s a comfort – right?  (As in, things aren’t getting worse, they’re getting the same, plus we get cool new toys.)

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The Rooster in Love.

The Rooster in Love.

I’ve been writing and rewriting this post as I sometimes get lost in the purpose and voice of this blog/site.  I always come back to cinematic brain jelly in a stream-of-consciousness form.

Sometimes I’d rather just post long shapeless prose poems about evaporating through a hole in the atmosphere above Villa Las Estrellas, Antarctia and hunting down answers with Albert Einstein in his lab on the far side of a Pluto’s moon.

And then I realize I haven’t eaten yet and/or spoke to anyone in a few days.

I love freelance. But it’s good to reground at least once a day.  Or I’ll need to change my occupation to “moonbeam.”

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On the lam, into the woods, freedom from the comfortable prison of society.  Plus sexy Oskar Werner.

On the lam, into the woods, freedom from the comfortable prison of society. Plus sexy Oskar Werner.

At the end of Truffaut’s film adaptation of Fahrenheit 451, those who rose up and sacrificed everything to be nonconformists and keep books alive, who chose to learn from texts and be in love with fictitious characters, found themselves wholly displaced (in the woods) and mumbling memorized passages from the book they’re now becoming.  Like defeated lobotomy patients in an asylum… almost.

Granted, that’s only one way to see the ending.  In a way it’s also beautiful. Sacrificing the comfort of status quo to choose your own happiness and think freely.  That is more romantic. To be sure.  And Montag’s wife also (and ironically) played by Julie Christie exemplified the break down of the soft machine inside the rigid processes of a black and white culture.

That story has always haunted me.  That unshakable sense that “nothing is safe and nothing is without beauty.”  Oh Bradbury. You got me again.

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Egypt

Like any modern gentlewoman, I live my whole life online.  Or atleast, it’s so integrated into real life, that my perpetual motion would almost immediately falter if I couldn’t access my gps, contact records, email, fandango, kindle…

10 of the last 10 books I’ve read were on my kindle app. If digital commodity were to go away (probably due to zombies or as my dad says – an invasion of Chinese UN soldiers…), not only would I barely get out of Uptown, or call my mom, but I’d not have access to anything I’ve read in ages. …

Well, in light of the assumed collapse of civilization, not having access to the downloaded copy of that alarmingly dirty book Outlander, is not really a real issue. …

NO INTERNET PHONES. :(

NO INTERNET PHONES. :(

But the implications are bigger than reading books or listening to downloaded music.  Our love notes, arguments, shopping lists, recorded history, both valued and sloppily not deleted, will be gone. No trunks in the basement full of fancy cursive “dear johns” from great grandma Helen. Gone baby gone.

I’m not about to print off every email, facebook message or instagram photo I’ve created.  But for posterities sake, I would like to learn from my experiences. Many of them are dropped and forgotten by choice or default as I continue on my way, creating new content as I go. Without those physical memories to find randomly and taking for granted the online permanence of this world… what then?

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No shame.

No shame.

In 2013 I mailed over 100 postcards.  True story.  With any luck, a future civilization excavating a building in the area that was Uptown will find an apartment building wall stuffed with old mail. Amongst the mail one of my cat lady postcard’s will stick out and be put on display in a museum in an exhibit about how ancient civilizations worshiped cats.  It will become a much valued piece of history.

And then Bruce Willis shows up and starts eating spiders and ranting about 12 Monkeys.

Whoa. What?

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

The Bloody Turkey Blues

Happy Thanksgiving!

When I think of the first Thanksgiving I think of the dirty, sick, hungry colonials in Terrence Malick’s “The New World” and am reminded it’s a miracle that we’re here at all.

It’s been almost a month since I wrapped my last gig, a whole month to myself, and I’m coming out the other side a little different. I went through phantom pains of responsibilities, some weird moody self doubt days of sitting alone with my laptop in silence, writing and rewriting and then deleting everything – and then I came out the other side to find the rhythm of free time.

I’m really ready to get back to work, but I’m glad I had November.

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'Hecate' by Genevieve-Amelia

‘Hecate’ by Genevieve-Amelia

I’ve written a potential next film for the Z-Fest time frame. I’ve upped the ante – as I need to feel that I’m growing and not just making films to make films.

Of course in taking on a bigger production – it means more money. I’ve never attempted a crowd-funding venture – but maybe it’s time?

I have the time and brain space for a magnum opus, why not take on the universe?

It’ll be a big cast too.  If I can pull together the pieces – it’ll be a fun time.

Wish me luck and keep your eyes peeled for a kickstarter or something…

 

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OMGah that weird sweater. I may not be a huge fan girl for tweenie movies - but I'm the worlds biggest sweater-o-phile. LOVE.

OMGah that weird sweater.  It’s almost like armor.  I may not be a huge fan girl for tweenie movies – but I’m the worlds biggest sweater-o-phile. LOVE.

I hope your Thanksgiving was awesome.

I partook in the Holiday blockbuster extravaganza by hitting up the newest Hunger Games film, twice. It’s really fun. I’m as jealous of Katniss’s sweaters as I once was of Felicities. (am I right?)

One of the previews making it’s rounds in front of this power house holiday blockbuster is for a film called “Divergent.”  It’s based on a young adult novel turned trilogy of the same name.  A 13-year-old friend who attended the Hunger Games opening night seemed SUPER stoked for that film. (read: she squealed loudly in the dark theatre and then spilled her sour patch kids…) And since I’m way into Lorde and feeling like a high school girl these days (?) – I ingested the whole novel trilogy in 7 days.  Not my fastest, most obsessive cover to cover time – but not bad.

Yeah yeah it’s young adult fiction, what the hell Bri. “What would Umberto Ecco say to this..?”

But it’s been 2 days since I finished the last book and I’m still carrying around that slight heaviness of heart – like I’ve been dumped. That feeling when you are allowed to be inside and around a person/character extensively and then the book ends and it’s over.  Everyone is gone. They don’t want to hang out anymore. Kind of a small trauma.

I forgot that part of reading books.  My first experience was in 4th grade when I read Tuck Everlasting and was emotionally effected by art/literature for the first time.

I’m not saying the “Divergent” books are awesome. They are what they are. But I couldn’t get past the first 2 pages of “50 Shades of Gray” because the writing style was soooo shitty.  Take that how you will.

(SIDE NOTE: I am acutely aware that I’ve  just admitted to seeing a tween film twice in 2 weeks, listening to a 16 year old pop star and then reading a hell of a lot young adult fiction in which dreamy boys, kissing a lot and then fighting and crying in annoying excess are the main topic… Yes. This is how I’ve spent some of my free time. I’m not ashamed.)

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Herb Roosted Poo Turkey. :(

Herb Roasted Farm Turkey. Dang.

 

My hobbyist parents prepared on amazing meal for Thanksgiving Day. They decided to use one of the farms free-range turkeys this year. The one they chose though, had been mauled by a dog… and died on its own.

Apparently there’s subtle nuances to the art of bleeding out poultry before cooking. And meat birds that have been battered and bruised are hard to drain…

So our turkey had a little too much blood in it as it sat and fermented in the brine and then roasted in the oven. Upon cutting into it – the room filled with the pungent hot aroma of what I can only really call… feces. I’m not kidding.

I physically recoiled from the thing. (Sorry dad.)

Hilarious.

Everything else was crazy delish and I made THIS coconut pie. Best pie I’ve ever had.

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One of the other down time activities has been picking up a feature script I started a few months back and trying to get it off the ground. It’s the self-indulgent story of a blond filmmaker (ah-hem) who meets Josh Hartnett (lol) on the plane to a rural film festival.

First let me say, it’s total crap and it’ll never see the light of day.

Second of all, when I was that weird kid that lived in the woods (far from the cool-kid filled neighborhoods of my classmates) I’d spend my hours writing notebooks full of wish-fulfilling stories about kissing boys and wearing designer boots. So I’m just returning to my roots I guess. And it’s never wrong to write your doppelgänger self into a script with Hartnett. Right? …

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It’s December. That means I’m working on my Christmas card…