Sunday, September 30, 2007

You Gotta Believe ... hah!

You Gotta Believe that the Miracle Mets are out of miracles and that their fans have some sort of self-loathing going to follow them to ever lower levels of defeat. I shouldn't have spouted off about a dynasty. Who knew the Mets would lose the division after holding it since May 16 with three days left in the season? Having suffered let downs like this many times in my twenty plus years of being a Met fan I really should see it coming by now.
Three weeks ago Tom Glavine was thinking about coming back for another year. Today he was pulled in the first inning after giving up five runs. I would hate to think he ended such a brilliant career in such a way, but hey when you make ten million dollars a year to throw a baseball you better get the job done when the season is on the line. That's just absurd; isn't it? Someone gets paid that much money and they fail miserably. Shouldn't you be automatic?
The great thing about baseball is also the worst thing about it - nothing seems to be going on and then everything goes wacky. I'll probably get sucked in again next season.

Signore Direttore

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Master Says 229

I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.

Truman Capote

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Master Says 228

I don't like the word ironic. I like the word absurdity, and I don't really understand the word 'irony' too much. The irony comes when you try to verbalize the absurd. When irony happens without words, it's much more exalted.

David Lynch

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tranny Darko

This is a still from Southland Tales, Richard Kelly's long awaited follow up to Donnie Darko. Can you imagine making a cult classic your first time out? You'd have to be an absolute lama not to have your own massive expectations get in the way. Let alone the rest of your fanbase, especially one made of such geeky fanboys. Donnie Darko was so out of left field, it's going to be really hard to go see Kelly's new film with any neutrality. Should be out later this Fall.

Not a Fanboy but definitely a fan,
Signore Direttore

Monday, September 24, 2007

Da Do Run Run

My wife is in Hawaii working for a week. Our babysitter has been coming by for at least a couple of hours most days, so I'm not entirely overwhelmed by single-parenting three young children. My son is acting out at home and school and my attempts to respond positively don't seem to prompt much from him aside from the sullen shrugs and flippant 'I don't care's' of a twelve-year old. Only he's seven and a half.
I find myself in the middle of a situation where he has the new teacher at his school. She isn't impressing anyone with her ability. Many parents are attacking her and calling for her job. I've tried to stand up and say let's be fair. Which means we can advocate for change without rallying for her to lose her job or asserting that she's heavily medicated. You know, I'm saying more than I want to about this. Basically I've volunteered to help the teacher and class as room parent. It seems to me that some parents take my actions to mean I'm happy with the status quo and I'm catching some heat both directly and passively.
I tried to move our son to a different class but that has been refused by the charming principal. I'm now considering taking him to another school. He's opposed to this for social reasons. Which are important though not paramount. We have this vision that all of our kids are going to go to our neighborhood school, a K-8, and taking Henry out for a year seems like some sort of daunting asterisk. But right now I'm feeling a lack of support all around and it feels like a move that will help re-focus our primary objective as far as our child's education goes.
It also feels like a reaction to how lonely and desperate this situation makes me feel.

Loco Parentis
Signore Direttore

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Master Says 228

Everybody has a great idea, but very few are successful without true focus. There's going to be a time in any business when you have some doubts. Certainly people around you are going to doubt you. But you have to stay focused and not start over in some other field. You have to stick to your vision. Don't let other people dissuade you because you don't have instant success. Every business I've started took years to develop.

Russell Simmons

Saturday, September 22, 2007


We've all heard and have been guilty of name-dropping -- you're about to witness a shameless torrent if you read further -- but are you aware of the more invasive name-chanting?
I'm reading The Men Behind Def Jam which details the history of the famed hip-hop record label and the early years of hip-hop. I was a hip-hop fan as much as I was a follower of punk, new wave and rockabilly over the years. I went through some phases of attempts at dressing the part, but mostly I followed the music. Like many whites into hip-hop I claim growing up in a black neighborhood. In my case it's true, though Northeast Portland doesn't earn near the same street cred as Bed-Stuy or Compton. I was almost always intent to assimilate into affluent white culture, so claiming the NEP was never something I was eager to do.
My first memory of hip-hop was in the Fall of 1979. I was playing Pop Warner football on my neighborhood team. I was one of four white kids on the team. The other white boys were Tank, House and Moxley. Tank and House were fat twelve year old rockers. Moxley was a smooth thirteen year old that spoke like a brother. He was dating one of our cheerleaders, who were all black girls. We got rides to games in the backs of parents' pickups. There were a couple of MCs on our team: Blake Barnes and Wayne "Bookie" Hodges. They led a lot of call and response stuff and mixed in a fair amount of R&B/Soul songs as we rode to and from games. I still remember Bookie singing, "My name is Wayne, they call me Bookie, my number's 85, I'm really live". At twelve and thirteen all of us were way beyond our years. Our star flanker Antonio Sherman had a kid. Everybody had been drunk and high more times than they could count. I was already a reformed pot smoker at twelve after two years of regular use. Many of us had juvenile records for vandalism/graffiti, breaking and entering, shoplifting, grand theft auto and selling drugs. Late in the year as we made our way to the city championships, Rapper's Delight came out. Blake could rap the whole thing within a week and most of us caught on soon after. The lyrics evoked a world that seemed so far away and yet so very close, especially the bits about going to each other's houses and seeing how poor we all were. We sang another popular song when we won the championship, Queen's "We are the Champions". Of course it sounds very cliche now, but at the time -- being twelve and screaming that song standing under the lights on the muddy field at Lents Park on a cold and rainy November night was one of the happiest moments of my life up until that time.
Many years and a quantum leap in terms of social status and geography later I found myself entrenched in Manhattan's downtown club scene. The main men behind Def Jam, Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin, as well as some of their former acts, like the Beastie Boys, and employees, such as Ricky Powell and Dante Ross, were friends or friends of friends. A man by the name of Lyor Cohen was and remains a big part of managing the label. After reading his name several times in the book, I remembered hearing his name chanted in the past. I suddenly heard a friend's voice repeating it in my head. This particular friend had been around forever, he was the kind of manic genius that moved in and out of a lot of famous people's lives but never quite made his own mark. As such, over the years he developed quite a celebrity habit. We would all be hanging out and a famous would come along. We called celebrities "famouses". Instantly he would change his tune and his tone and focus all of his charm on the famous in our midst. To his credit, he was very charming and he did have a connection to many accomplished and celebrated people. He had been very close friends with many of them over the years. So if Vincent Gallo came around, as he often did because we hung out during the day in front our friend Russell Steinberg's clothing store Wearmart on Elizabeth Street, he would start with the name chanting. "Vinny, Vinny, Vinny ..." Vincent Gallo, in addition to his accomplishments as actor, film director, Calvin Klein model, musician, motorcycle racer, photographer, guitar collector and bon vivant, was a B-boy back in the day with a street name of Prince Vince that claimed Money-makin Manhattan as his turf. Respect for Vinny in relation to hip-hop is paid in Jay-Z's video, I Got 99 Problems (and a bitch ain't one of them) as he appears walking the streets of Brooklyn with Rick Rubin.
Name-chanting is remarkable because it is usually done by someone that is normally as nonchalant as they come. Then all of a sudden they turn into Arnold Horshack, spitting a famous' first name with a fervor that links them to we mortals more than the famouses they desperately hope to summon a connection.
Hearing "Lyor, Lyor, Lyor" prompted other memories of name-chanting. One night I went to a party at Leonardo DiCaprio's apartment . There were at least ten guys that wouldn't normally give anybody the time of day chanting, "Leo, Leo, Leo" all night, including a guy on a cell phone down on the street who may not even of had Leo on the other end of the phone. Another memory is of spending a lot of time around a super model that one of my friends was dating, I don't really want to drop her name as it doesn't seem right somehow in her case, but whenever she was around, even at a dinner party in someone's apartment, there was a constant chorus of her name. She and I were talking at really crowded and noisy party one night. Even though she was looking me in the eye and we were leaning close it still seemed like I had to say her name three times to make sure she was listening. Maybe the conditioning was necessary on both sides.

Signore, Signore, Signore

The Master Says 227

There is no love apart from the deeds of love; no potentiality of love but that which is manifested in loving.

Jean-Paul Sartre

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Master Says 226

I think when you move past your fear and you go after your dreams wholeheartedly, you become free. Know what I'm saying? Move past the fear.

LL Cool J

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lifestyles of the Poor and Indie

I regularly run into people that ask me what I've been up to, especially those that haven't seen me on set or at Gearhead lately. I'm sure some people are curious about me and others are curious about themselves. As in; how does one make it if they're not working all the time? Or; what does he know that I don't?
There is a big part of me that wants to respond categorically. The truth is, I'm not sure what I've been up to. It's certainly not conventional in that I don't keep regular business hours nor do I have a narrow job description. I'm so dependent on the people that I collaborate with that making set schedules to accomplish work that we're not getting paid for isn't very practical.
I'm not writing very much right now because I fear getting too excited about making another film at a time when I'm trying to oversee finishing some films. Were I not a very poor and independent filmmaker I would likely be preparing my next project while an editor finishes my previous film. Which is kind of what's going on - an editor is beginning to cut DW and I have written a treatment for what could be my next project. However, there are a lot of other projects aside from DW to finish.
I have some ideas kicking around in my head about some short films, casting some of the very talented actresses that seem to be popping up in my life lately. The trick of this journey for me is to not get too precious yet learn from my experience. Often I may be too concerned with the path of my technical progress rather than my journey of expression. With film, as in many arts, craft is highly important; though technology is often a distraction.
It might be time to make some more mistakes.

Signore Direttore

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Master Says 225

Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper.

Francis Bacon

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Master Says 224

You should look straight at a film; that's the only way to see one. Film is not the art of scholars but of illiterates.

Werner Herzog

Friday, September 14, 2007

Working with Friends

I worked on a trailer for the NW Film Center today as an actor. I knew just about everybody on the crew and a few of the cast members. It was fun to work with friends. Especially in the capacity of not having to be in charge. All I had to do was follow directions and do my best. I felt pretty comfortable. One of the other actors is a very old friend of mine that I hadn't seen in years. Most of the day I was between her legs or she was sitting on my lap. It was quite a reunion.

They also shot stills of me to appear on the poster for this years film festival. What's even bettr is my buddy Chris Hornbecker was the photographer. I'm kind of stoked about that surprise aspect of landing this job.

Molto contento,
Signore Direttore

Thursday, September 13, 2007


We're having a frenzied issue at our son's school with one of the teachers. It involves a lot of emotional emails and some meetings. It's wearing me out.

Oh yeah, remember my disappointment with the Blazers taking Greg Oden with the #1 draft pick? He just had micro-fracture surgery on his knee -- Oden won't play a single game next year. I hate to be right about some things.

Ni modo,
Signore Direttore

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Stuff and Nonsense

Well what is going on? Hired an editor for Dangerous Writing. Ed Yonaitis. Good guy. Smart filmmaker. I'm glad he's moved to Portland. I'm relieved to turn it over to someone else. I just can't sit there and relive all my inner and outer turmoil connected to the film. I'm excited to see the film come together.

I had a job interview with a post-production house for a sales/production coordinator position. It went well. I have a meeting with the big boss on Monday. I'm going to take it if they offer it to me. I'm dying to get back to a regular gig. From what I can tell I can do a very good job for them and leave the work at work. I like that. It's downtown. I really like the idea of cruising through the heart of the city everyday. Hope, hope.

I read today that the US Transportation Secretary claims that funding for bike lanes and other bicycle related issues are not transportation issues. The other morning I rode our son to school on our trailer bike. After dropping him off I went to US Bank to make a deposit. As the trailer was still attached and my deposit was ready to go I used the drive thru window. I then made my way over to Washington Mutual to make a deposit into my business account. Unfortunately they wouldn't allow me to use their drive thru, stating that I had to be in a motor vehicle to use the drive thru. There was not a place to lock the bike/trailer combo on the bank premises without blocking sidewalks or doorways. I had to find a place to park the bike down the street and return to the bank where I waited in line for ten minutes to make a deposit while cars idled and were served more efficiently through the drive thru service. This seems discriminatory, unreasonable and unacceptable. I am sending letters to the local press, bicycle advocacy groups and to the bank in the hopes that convenient and efficient service is no longer the privilege of polluters at Washington Mutual.

I was cast in a trailer for the NW Film & Video Festival playing a no-budget indie director. I won't be doing much blogging until the shoot as I need to commit a lot of time to researching and preparing for the role. I hope I can pull it off. Lame jokes aside, I am looking forward to being on set as an actor again. Hopefully the day won't go too long as we have five second graders having a camp out in the back yard that night.

I saw that Sometimes a Great Notion has been adapted for the stage and plays this winter as PCS. I'm intrigued.

The Mets are still in first place in the NL East, 8-2 in their last ten games and six ahead of the Phillies, with but a couple of weeks left in the regular season. David Wright continues to hammer the ball. He's got the 30+ stolen bases and is only two homers from 30 and 30. Looks like Jose Reyes is coming out of his recent slump at the plate and Pedro is 2-0. Tom Glavine is pitching so strong and having so much fun with the Mets that the 41 year old is thinking of postponing his retirement another year. I'm not just hopeful for a Series victory, I'm beginning to think DYNASTY. Fuck the Yankees.

Head in the clouds,
Signore Direttore

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Rejection Letters

I have a filing cabinet drawer full of writing. There's a file for every short story, screenplay and play that I've written over the past twenty years. There's a file for rejection letters as well. I have always figured that if I didn't receive some rejection letters I wasn't doing my job as a writer.
Rejection letters are always very kind. They never say they didn't like it, or it didn't work for them or that they thought it sucked. They always emphasize the number of quality submissions they receive and their gratitude for your submission.
Sometimes they even offer you things as a consolation. Klepto was just kindly rejected by a film festival. They offered me two tickets in hopes that I might attend the fest. Now since they rejected Klepto via electronic mail; do you think I should print it out and stick it in the rejection file or just add a folder to my email for the many rejections that are sure to arrive electronically in the years to come?
I'm thinking a paper trail might be better so those researching me in the future (like my kids when they have to go through my crap after I die) will get a very thorough understanding of the extent of my failures, further underscoring my relentless efforts at following my bliss.

Signore Direttore

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Master Says 223

If people love your film nothing great happens.
And if people hate your film nothing terrible happens.
Nobody cares. They've got their own problems to worry about.

Woody Allen

All I'm Gonna Say Is ...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Master Says 222

Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.

William James

Monday, September 03, 2007

Fuck You Hero

This guy fucking gets it. He always has. That's why he is one of my Fuck You Heroes - people that play by their principles regardless of conventional wisdom. If you believe that the film industry follows the business trends of the music industry by a couple of years like I do, you will find this Sunday's NYT Magazine article on Rick Rubin fascinating and encouraging.

You gotta fight for your right to party,
Signore Direttore

He's Back

The Mets remain in control of the NL East in spite of getting swept by the Phillies last week. Pedro won his first start today coming back from last season's rotator cuff surgery. Carlos Beltran and Moises Alou are hot and David Wright is only four HRs from a 30-30 season. It's going to a glorious Fall!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Swim Mechanics

Swimming is a sport that provides us with a wonderfully apt metaphor for our work as aspiring filmmakers (I include actors in the category of filmmakers by the way*). It is one of the few active sports where the art of ease produces the greatest results. Michael Caine could be a great swim coach: If you're working too hard you're not doing it right.
The world records for the 1500m run and the 400m swim are nearly identical. If you were to run once around the track with a world-class athlete, he or she would blow you away. However, by running easily and efficiently, your stride count would be similar. If you were to jump in the pool and swim 100m against an Olympic swimmer, you would lose that race as well. But your stroke count would be three to four times greater. An elite swimmer can swim the length of the pool in seven or eight strokes. It's all about mechanics.
A world-class runner is about 90% mechanically efficient -- 90 out of every 100 calories expended results in forward motion. The other ten get burned up fighting ground friction, muscle heat and other factors like wind resistance. Water is about a thousand times thicker than air. It's also very unstable, so applying power to it is a highly inefficient proposition. The best swimmers in the world achieve less than ten percent efficiency in the water. Thus, the path to improving as a swimmer is not to make more energy available through training, it’s to waste less energy by improving your stroke.
If you jump in the pool and think that more lengths are going to make you a better swimmer, you might find that the more you do something the more ingrained the habit becomes. If your stroke is inefficient, you'll be reinforcing its inefficiency. Taking the time to improve your stoke will keep you from being one of those people that can run a 10K in 0:35:00 but is hopelessly gasping for air after swimming a length of the pool.
I know many of you may be scratching your heads, thinking that getting fitness advice from the less than svelte Signore Direttore is a dubious proposition. I urge you to practice the art of ease and explore the subtext -- how can you improve your stroke?

Signore Direttore

*The best film actors are collaborators in every sense of the word. They know how to communicate with the camera, they understand editing and film grammar, they understand it's all about the subtext and they know how to survive and thrive under the extreme demands of being on a film set.