Monday, October 10, 2011

De-Familiarization



This past weekend, I got into a van full of eleven boys and headed off to Vermont to meet my friend Max’s parents. The eleven boys consisted of a group of 23 year olds who had all graduated from Pratt, boys who had adopted me during my freshman year and showed me the real city while other freshmen were sitting uncomfortably in orientation group after orientation meeting, smiling desperately in an attempt to make friends.


I read “Burning Down the House” and “Franny” while on the trip, the boys occasionally teasing me for still being only a junior in college, only twenty.


In “Burning Down the House,” Charles Baxter mentions a Winesburg, Ohio story about a woman named Alice who, after years of waiting for a man to come back from Chicago and marry her, realizes that she’s been praying to a guy who will never return. In the end, realizing that the man was lying to her, she runs naked through her backyard. They didn’t have Facebook or Skype back in those days, so I, unlike Alice, still had contact with my ex when he was away. Seeing him the way that he really is, without any pent-up emotion or lingering sense of social conflict, was my way of running naked.


It feels like I’ve woken up from a dream, but one that suddenly puts everything into place about the conscious life. In “Franny,” a college girl meets up with her boyfriend after having become disenchanted with the high-minded liberal educated. While her mindset is adjusting, he blabbers on about a paper that he thought would “go over like a lead balloon” but really is, to him, worth publishing. Meanwhile, she’s fascinated with a book about a pilgrim who searches for the answer to the most complicated question of mankind, but the journey itself is so simplified, beautifully. Franny, in the end, refuses to play the part that’s been assigned to her by her highly educated brain family, her liberal arts college, and society, her boyfriend included.


Like going to a funeral for someone you barely know and having to blend into “the crowd,” I had to play a part around the rest of the guys. They wanted me to be cute, the way I was when they first found me walking around campus alone. They wanted me to smoke them up, laugh in that adorable new-girl giggle, and stay positive. So much has happened to me during the past year, and only Max and Steve have been around to watch my development into a young woman. The rest of the guys see me every few months. We assemble for the Fourth of July, moving-in parties, and weekend road trips. This trip, instead of keeping my cool, I finished off half a bottle of rum with a friend of Max’s, not feeling a thing.


My role has changed in the group, as one’s role often changes in stories of de-familiarization. It’s to the point where I had to pretend that what was going on around me was some sort of stupid teenage-fan-based tv drama. I’m not “Steve’s lil Buddy” or “that guy's girlfriend.” I’m the only girl in the group, and even though the guy and I aren’t together anymore, I’m not going away. I wasn’t initiated with or by him.


We see monsters as sympathetic because we, at some point, see their weaknesses. I oddly equate this to seeing villains for their flaws and strengths in Disney movies. Scar just feels entitled to the thrown, but is scrawny and weird. Ursula just wants to be attractive, the ugly guy in Notre Dame is consumed by lust for a gypsy, Garcon has a small-penis complex. In turn, we also see people that we once held in very high, heroic regard as being rude or openly insensitive. This is because we are all human. Though we play roles in certain settings, such as not appearing like the clever stoner in front of my mom or mentioning all the sex I have at school, or being calm and easy-going when you want to throw your ex-boyfriend off of a mountain, these roles are not always problematic. As humans, we have to go as far as to defamiliarize ourselves in order to conform. As writers, we have to recognize these role-shifts as de-familiarization with ourselves, and develop that notion as our craft.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

MOM

“Mom” and We

In 2009, international playwright and author, Lonely Christopher approached producer Jakob Abrams with an idea for a movie. Christopher had started writing a script that was originally only forty-five pages long, but it was the basis of a larger notion. The members of the independent film company, Cavazos Films, created by Jakob Abrams, Melinda Prisco, and Jose Cavazos, pushed for Lonely Christopher to turn his short movie into full-length cinema.

“He came out with a great script in the end,” states Abrams.



“Mom” is a re-structured fantasia that uses the Brooklyn cityscape as its backdrop. Since Christopher first approached me with the offer of an internship, I have been impressed and inspired by the crew of “Mom.” Jakob Abrams, Melinda Prisco, and Jose Cavazos are a group of young and driven producers, filmmakers, cinematographers, writers, and actors. They, as a team, have been making films for the past four years.

Cavazos Films works tirelessly to create contemporary and unaffected cinema, producing at least one project a year. “Mom” is their first feature-length picture for distribution, but it’s not their first time working with Lonely Christopher (author of the book The Mechanics of Homosexual Intercourse). Along with being the screenwriter, Christopher is also the film’s director.

On the surface, “Mom” is a story about a young man trying to make sense of his longing for maternal comfort in a strange city. The themes themselves, however, are much more recondite. This tour de force challenges the audience’s ideals for structure, the nature of love, and our utopian notions of family. Try, a habitual man in his late twenties, is traveling to Brooklyn from upstate New York, having contacted a detective agency with the intention of finding his mom. He isn’t expecting the detectives’ highly unorthodox methods. Through the seemingly deranged antics of his investigators, Try learns that asking the most difficult questions will sometimes yield a truth that we do not want to realize. Abrams and Prisco, who play detectives Arden and Carmen, are also the film’s guides through its transition from a desired outcome into personal revelation.





When asked what it was that attracted Cavazos Films to the project initially, both producers agreed that they trusted Lonely Christopher’s talent and determination. The pacing felt natural, yet the style was unique.

“It’s a very American piece,” says Abrams, “all about true longing. Every character is affected by understanding through confusion, how we deal with failure and how the audience will react to it.”

“The villains are internal,” adds Prisco. “The characters are all in it for themselves, there’s no good guy.”

Working on a budget of little to nothing, Prisco and Abrams are used to facing both personal and professional challenges. Even though they now interact in a brother/sister dynamic, when the pair was fresh out of college, they didn’t initially click. Yet they came together through a mutual friendship with the third member of the Cavazos Films company, Jose Cavazos, the film’s executive producer. The three of them have grown as partners, equal contributors, and pals.

“We always find a way,” says Melinda Prisco. “We don’t take no for an answer.”

The group has previously completed several short, award-winning films, along with a web-series called “Life Coaching” for Brooklyn Public Access, in which Lonely Christopher acted. After working on the web-series with Prisco and Abrams, Lonely Christopher began to develop characters for his script who were specifically written for the duo. Also joining the cast’s detective team is actress Alejandra Bufala, a beautiful and small woman with a “Don’t Mess With Me” attitude. Christopher has written a script in which Brooklyn itself, with its waves of culture shock and unavoidable presence, takes shape as a role. “Mom” embodies Brooklyn’s many communities; every culture is equally represented. The film includes Hasidic families walking in the background, members of Public Housing units, and urban hipsters guzzling caffeine, forties, and salads.



Cavazos Films has the phenomenal goal of always having their next artistic idea in mind, even when working on the project at hand. Abrams has already been sketching out the next journey for the crew to take once this one is complete. “Mom” has been their longest undertaking, it is the project for which they have received the greatest amount donations, and it is the most that they have ever invested in film equipment.

Prisco and Abrams remain confident. It’s a substantial commitment from the crew, the actors, and everyone else who agrees to lend a hand to the film. In the end, the project will flourish based on the enthusiasm of those involved. The story itself holds no unanimous opinion on its own meaning; the plot is intentionally polysemic. The intended result is that no two people will walk out of the theatre thinking that they have just seen the same film.



The further I’ve delved into helping create this intricate and complicated movie, the deeper my respect grows for Melinda Prisco, Jake Abrams, Jose Cavazos, and Lonely Christopher. Melinda and Jake are not just actors, not just visionaries, not just attentive and sincere; they are teachers, leaders, and producers in every sense of the word. They have been the chief motivators in making our project grow to its full potential. As just an intern, I count myself as fortunate for having the opportunity to learn from such a capable crew.



“All we want to do is work with each other,” states Prisco. The trio is always invested in each other’s ideas for projects, and they continually find the right people to work with, such as Lonely Christopher. “Mom” is scheduled to film in September and November of this year.





Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Me and Sarah

*Anthony as in Wiener.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Friday, June 3, 2011

Reasons Why 12 Year Olds (And idiots who think like them) Should Never Get a Tattoo.

I thought a lotabout getting tattoos when I was 12-15. I knew exactly what I wasgoing to get every year, mainly involving things that I liked. Now I'm 20, and I am yet to get any inkbecause I realized that I change my mind more than I change most anything else. Don't ask me what those "else" things are. NONE YO BUSINESS. Anyway, here's a list of things that I liked that I maybe would have put on my skin permanently when I was 12 if my mother had no sense and let me mutilate my body.

The creepy thing is: Someone else did all of these things already.

1. The Beatles- When I was 12, my dream was to go back in time and do an "Almost Famous" (underage journalist) sort of thing with the
m. Then George would realize that he loved me.










2. Jesus- Let's not forget who was my lord and savior (and source
of rebellion against an atheist mom.) I seriously did intend on getting a Jesus tattoo in a very private place so that only my one true husband could see it. Eesh.












3. Toad- My favorite Nintendo character ever! And it looks pretty good on her, maybe I should have done it. Or I just appreciate hers.












4. Ron Weasley- No man in my life, no matter how redhead, no matter how goofy, no matter how emotional and demanding they may be, will ever compete with my one true love, Ronald Bilius Weasley.










5. E.T.- one of my favorite movies of all time, but I'm still glad I didn't get his handsome face on my arm.













6. The Lord of the Rings- No, I wouldn't have mimicked Elijah Wood's hip tattoo, though it's sweet. I would have just put a picture of Elijah Wood himself on my tummy.









7. Link!- I know my generation should have been playing something more interesting that a N64, but you have to admit, it was the best system EVER for wasting every Saturday.









8. Finally, the worst one I could have gotten, but might still find hilarious!









Yes, above Ron Weasley and Elijah Wood stands one fellow with enough glam to have a shiny competition with Lady Gaga. Clayton Holmes Griffon, or his stage name, Clay Aiken. Many a lonesome middle school night was spent singing along with Clay above stalking ex-lovers and being held by strong women.

That's it. Praise whatever good vibes you kind of believe in that you didn't get your favorite singer or movie tattooed on your person when you were too stupid to not think about the long-term.

>^^< Kid Whiskers

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Arab Spring, Started not by the Egyptians, but it's a cool thing.




The Arab Spring is an overzealous term for a wave of change that is spreading across the Middle East. Before a major one that you've probably heard a little about, that of the Egyptian liberation, Sudan was the only Arabic country to throw over their dictator, once in the sixties and again in the eighties. BEFORE EGYPT, Arab Spring began in Tunisia, which no one seems to care about.

The civil war in Libya, the one most people are yipping and hoping for in our country, might not lead to the best of outcomes because of the Libya rebels. They are not much better than Gaddafi. In February, the rebels stormed the streets of Libya, angry about economic favoritism and Gaddafi's power over the distribution of oil money. There has thus been a divide in the country, Eastern and Western. Western rebels are ignoring the fact that Eastern Libyans are still worse of financially. That, and the rebels have tapped into the bank of an unstable economy. Gaddafi freaking sucks, but the rebels still are angry guys with guns.

All that being said, لشعب يريد إسقاط النظام‎

Morocco, Algeria, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya. Does anyone know if this has happened before, let me now, I'm curious.

This has been a very exciting chapter in our history. We won't know how much of it is really for the better until the tides have settled, but we know that it is specifically the use of social media that has been tell-tale of OUR time. If Holocaust victims (having snuck in their cell phones or blackberrys in odd places.) had tweeted about what those dicks were doing to them, maybe teenagers across the globe would've called for action. Journalists would've known and tried to go to concentration camps to get the scoop. If the Japanese Americans who were forced into internment camps during the same time period had Facebooked about it, maybe America would've received some choice feedback from their homeland and other countries.

Yes, it's true, our country is just as fucked as everyone else.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAyZ90XIJgE

But we can watch videos like the ones above to learn more about what changed the world, and what is in the process of changing.

>^^< (This wasn't about food. Sorry. )