April 15, 2013


"The final test of a gentleman is his respect for those who can be of no possible service to him." - William Lyon Phelps


I shouldn't be surprised.

And yet I am.

I pulled up to the stop sign, ready to make a right turn after the car on the crossroad sped past.

Just as I pulled out, the car at the opposite stop sign pulled out in front of me, turning left into my lane despite his nonexistent turn signal.

Bit of a close call, but I quickly slammed my breaks and surrendered to this too common occurrence at this intersection.

And he gives me the look.


Okay, truth be told, I gave him quite a look, too.  And I tailgated him with a fierce scowl sure to make him think twice about pulling that stunt again.

Yeah, I taught him a lesson by repaying his idiotic move with my own idiotic tantrum.

But nevermind my shortcoming in this instance.  Let's focus on the dude who is too important to use his turn signal and too self-righteous or perhaps ignorant to acknowledge his own inconsiderate behavior.

Turn signal ignorance is a peeve of mine.  Aside from the potential danger in moments such as the one I described above, it's just annoying to see cars turn without warning or whip from lane to lane with nary a heads-up to fellow road warriors.

What's so hard about flicking the little stick on your steering wheel column to protect yourself and other drivers?  I don't understand.  Is it too much hassle with your hands occupied by your cell phone, coffee, Big Mac, or nostril mining?

By choosing not to use your turn signal, you are sending a clear signal that you deem yourself more important than everyone else on the road.  Your lack of respect turns all other drivers into Rodney Dangerfield.

Time to take a turn or two and drive this writing to an unyielding film-centric point.  Maybe.

I've contributed to 20 - give or take - independent film projects over the last few years.  As someone struggling to get my own projects off the ground, I know how important it is to get support from peers.  I'm happy to offer what little I can, and I admit my contributions make only the tiniest dent in the big picture.

But I give because it's the right thing to do.

Sometimes my gestures are rewarded with a DVD of the finished project or a credit in the movie or a shout-out on Facebook.  Really, the reward is inconsequential.

But the one thing I do appreciate - the one thing I expect - is a thank you.  It doesn't have to be a public Twitter or Facebook gush.  I actually prefer private thanks unless the public broadcast encourages others to offer support.

Just a simple note: "Thank you.  I/We appreciate your support."  That's it.  Is that too much to ask?  Have you so little respect for your peers that you can't even send a note of thanks when one of them gives up a couple Blizzards or Concrete Mixers or Mocha Lite Coolers to help you chase your dream?

What kind of signal are you sending when you accept a gift and ignore the giver completely?  You're not only refusing to use your blinker, you're actually flicking the right-turn signal and then taking a left turn.

In the span of a couple days a couple weeks ago, I contributed to a couple Kickstarter projects.  One project creator (a team of people, actually) made no effort to thank me.  I heard absolutely nothing from them.  They are new to the scene as far as I can tell.  I don't know them.

The other project was created by a professional writer with a major motion picture credit to his name.  Less than 10 minutes after I contributed, he sent me a personal, specific message.  I didn't know him when I contributed to his campaign, but I'm getting to know him now.

He also went on to send an update to all backers inviting us to set, inviting us to be part of the process, and inviting us to ask him for career advice/insight.  He thanked us 99 backers profusely and made genuine effort to show his appreciation.

Who do you think I'll support more ardently moving forward?

I'm not angered by the former's lack of a thank you message.  The tone of this writing is meant to be more of bewilderment than anger.

We struggling independent filmmakers want respect and support so badly, but when we get the support, we don't all appreciate it.

Is it entitlement?  Self-centeredness?  Conceit?  Once you get money from somebody, do you feel they no longer have anything to contribute?  Are you done with them?

When I ran my Kickstarter campaign a year and half ago, I received 134 separate donations.  Those are 134 relationships I intend to foster for years to come.  The money they contributed is nice, but the gesture of support is worth more than any mula.

We have to learn not only to appreciate the support others give us, but learn how to show appreciation.  Ignoring somebody's support is not the signal you want to send.

Neither is tailgating in anger.  But that's another issue for another time.

April 2, 2013

I wouldn't eat that if I were you

"All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on." - Havelock Ellis

Little fingers find the littlest trinkets and treasures.  Little mouths, like vacuous black holes, absorb everything those little fingers find.

My 11-month-old discovered an eraser today, a half-inch cube.  From where I do not know.  The level of his eyes introduces him to a world few walking erectly ever see.

Our eyes locked.

He smiled proudly.

I shook my head and lunged toward him, narrowly dodging the blocks, books, and bears scattered across the floor.

My old-man grunts were drowned out by his mocking laughter as he pushed the eraser in his mouth at Usain Bolt speed.

My arms thwarted his attempted escape and I quickly rolled him over and plunged my finger into his swimming pool of a mouth.

His laughter stopped when I successfully extracted the eraser and he gave me an "oh no, you di'n't" look.

Then the tears.  Oh the tears.

I just saved your life, young man!  And this is how you thank me?  With a tantrum?

You could have choked on this eraser and --

-- um --

-- wait a sec --

That's not an eraser.

It's cheese.

When was the last time we had cheese in the living room?  Couple weeks?  Month?

This cube of cheese was a little harder than an eraser.  Full of hair, dust, and probably enough microbials to give even the strongest of digestive tracks a good flush.  Pun intended.  Duh.

I had the disease-cheese safely contained, but baby boy wanted it back.

In his mouth.

And then in his stomach.

"Don't you get it?"  I wondered rhetorically.  "This is bad for you.  I took it away for your own good."

Cue the painfully obvious parallel.

How much month-old cheese am I still clinging to?  Why do I continually throw tantrums when God does His best to rid me of the intestine attacking milk curds?  It's for my own good!

I'm getting better.  Gradually.  Like a fine aged cheddar.

The less I whine over other actors getting roles for which I felt I was more qualified, the more roles I tend to get.  The less I sulk at another producer's connection to financiers, the more connections pop up for me.  The more I applaud others' fortunes and accomplishments, the more fortunes and accomplishments seem to come my way.

I'm getting better at letting the hard hairy cheese go and just living with the cheesiness of my parables, metaphors, and allegories.

But it's a process.  Like Velveeta.

And yes, Chad, I used the word "erectly".