Monday, December 19, 2011

The Free Will Complex

People around this time of the year like to make grandiose announcements. New Year's resolutions are often used to announce to the rest of the world the ways in which we will change...

I also happen to know quite a few people who like to proclaim, "The beginning of the rest of my life starts now"...or, "This is a brand new me"...or any number of other retarded cliches.

Hubris, man. Hubris.
________________

  The Philosophy

The belief one has that they can be totally unlike themselves, is not only logically flawed, but also the result of a big ego, and an inflated sense of self-importance.

Change is one of the most difficult, if not impossible, things to accomplish. Especially when you don't believe in free will.

Most (I hesitate to say all, as I have not read ALL of anything), but MOST current research in neuroscience indicates that free will does not exist. Free will is a philosophical or theoretical concept, and one that is not rooted in any physical reality. If you were to split open a person's head and search around, you would not locate the 'free will' lobe. The concept of free will is pretty well synonymous with the soul. It's a nice thought, but it's not real.

Future behaviour is not determined by one's 'free will', or 'choices', but rather from the interaction between one's past experiences and one's genes.

We are not acting out on the world. But rather, we are in a constant state of reacting to it.

The two can be easily mixed up, especially when most of our social and political ideologies in North America are centered around so-called 'freedom'.

Free will is a defense mechanism. The same as meaning in life, or the belief that 'God has a plan for me'. Not to say that belief in any of these things is unhealthy...defense mechanisms are exactly that...they are meant to protect the self and the ego, to keep oneself happy, or at least at peace.

The belief that one can change, or even more plainly, that one has control, is absurd. I don't know a single person who controlled their arrival on earth. Heck, nobody knows how they individually came to exist (why am I me and not you, and why are you not your own cousin, twice removed, and so forth), and yet people have no problem believing that they control everything from that point forward?

We each live separate, unique, individual lives, none of which can be accounted for, so it would be hard to argue that the motive or impetus or directional movement from that point on could be so easily narrowed down to mere freedom in choice. Certainly no one (outside of our lord and saviour Jesus Christ) chose to come to earth, so how could anyone choose anything beyond that?
_________________________
 
 The Science

If one has no control during the initial stages of life (being completely dependent on others for support and survival), how can it ever be truly said that one has ever been 'free'?

The child that is placed in a cardboard box with only food and water ends up being severally emotionally and intellectually retarded. Shoot, why use a hypothetical example? Check out the story of 'Genie' here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genie_%28feral_child%29

Why doesn't Genie just choose to be normal? Heck, we believe in free will, don't we? She ought to be able to do it.

For that matter, why don't we all just choose to be unlike ourselves? Why aren't you a rodeo clown, and why am I not 5-time weight lifting champ? Where there's a will, there's a way. Only there is no (free) will, and therefore no way.

I was raised on french, and eventually learned english...why didn't I speak cantonese from birth? If it's all up to my choosing, why don't I just know everything now?

What about if I wanted to learn a new language today?

Interestingly, it would take me far longer to learn a new language than a 4-year old, and yet I have all the wisdom and experiences of a 23-year old. Synaptic pruning shows that the older we become, the less we are capable of learning new things, and therefore, less capable of change. The same reason Michael Jordan couldn't hit a baseball, is the same reason none of us have free will. Because life ain't that romantic. It's cold and harsh (or warm and liberating...depending on how you look at it).

The older we become, the more like ourselves we become, and the less capable we are of changing (I'm speaking from a purely neurological, physiological standpoint). It's the same reason adults and old people are far more closed off to new ideas than a child ever would be (which incidentally is the same reason that 99% of adults are the exact same, never change, and are boring as fuck to talk to).

That is not to say that change is not possible, but merely that it has nothing to do with choice (see Reasoning vs Free Will).

I'm sure every addict would choose not to be addicted if it were that easy, but again it is not (although that moron Gene Heyman would have you believe differently).

The same way none of us can merely will our bodies into changing or morphing with a thought or belief, the brain is not capable of simply becoming different just because it wishes to do so. Just like the body, the brain has very real physical limitations. If the mind is a product of the physical brain, and every 'free choice' is performed by the brain, then the brain becomes the ultimate deciding factor as to whether or not change, or choice for that matter, can occur.

There is no choice that can be freely made without the knowledge and experience that has come before it.
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 Reasoning vs Free Will

The ability to reason is oftentimes confused with the ability to freely choose.

A child has difficulty reasoning, and will make many mistakes as it learns to reason (as its frontal cortex continues to develop). The fact that people are capable of making better choices as they age (primarily due to their past experiences) does not mean that these choices are "free" in any way, shape, or form. These choices  are based upon the neural circuitry that has been laid down throughout our entire lives, and has been dictated by our genes.

Too many things in our society are forgiven for being simple 'accidents' or 'bad decisions'. If you believe in 'free will', you cannot believe that anything is an accident, because everything would thereby be a choice. In that sense, the world is very black and white. Either we're all completely in control, at all times, making choices, or we don't make any choices, and it just so happens some of us are better at reasoning than others, better educated than others, or simply dealt better cards to begin with.

I know that what I'm presenting isn't a popular theory. I'm essentially saying we're not free birds flying through the night sky...we're on very certain, clear paths. But I believe that in 100-200 years, this will become the standard, especially as neuropsychology gains more steam.

With that being said, I don't really have a problem with people believing in free will...everybody's gotta believe something...and as I stated earlier, it's a defense mechanism. Believing that one is in control of their own destiny can be incredibly empowering. But just like the belief that one has a personal relationship with god can be incredibly empowering, it can also be incredibly annoying to everyone else around you. The two are just on opposite ends of the same scale. They are both overwhelmingly narcissistic...and narcissistic defense mechanisms typically distort our view of the world as it truly is.

So although believing in free will might bring comfort to some, it is not a belief rooted in any kind of reality. It is an illusion at best, and a delusion at worst.


-J

PS - For those keeping score at home, that means the Free Will Complex might simply be classified as a type of Superiority Complex.

PPS - I realize after a month or so that many more people are landing on this page than I had expected, and finding only the mad ramblings of a realist.

If you're looking for the science behind what I believe is called 'downward' causation of free will, you can check out a book called 'Incognito' by David Eagleman. Your local library ought to have it, and he spells out the neuro-biological argument against free will far more eloquently than I ever could. I only read Eagleman's book after writing this post, so if you're looking for something with far more research, it's a good place to go!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Remi Royale

 Remi Royale performs the first and last Sunday of every month at the Manx Pub in Ottawa, ON.

Remi Royale from 3+one entertainment on Vimeo.


There's a good half dozen things I would change about this piece, but I guess I'll just have to chalk it up to experience. Big thanks to everyone who helped out on the project, to those who donated their time, and to those who offered their opinions. Thank you all from the bottom of my blackened heart.

For those of you wondering what the song is that's playing during the intro, it's called 'from stern to bow', it's by a band called Mouth, and you can download it here (along with a bunch of their other music...FOR FREE...MERRY CHANUKAH YA'LL).

Also, if you want to see what Remi Royale is up to, check out http://necroburger.com/ for show listings and more videos!

-JS

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Rug Burns: Production Day 4

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Canadian National Exhibition

Our last night of shoot invovled getting more cutaways, filler, and just horsing around on cheap real estate. Monday to Thursday after 5PM at the Ex is only $5 to gain admission...well worth it.

The cool thing about shooting at the CNE is that it's not abnormal for someone to have a camera out, and lighting is great around the midway.

Rug did a little bit of everything.

He shot some pool...

 Shot some dirt looks...
 

Shot some hoops...
 

You get the point. This was a super fun location to shoot at, my only regret is that I missed the first part of the basketball game Rug got in...nothing funnier than a white guy wearing a fur coat and a wig taking on 4-5 black guys in a pickup game. Had I gotten more footage, we might actually have enough for a Streetball mixtape...ah well!

One other regret was that I didn't get Rug on any of the attractions...would have been funny on the carousel...I guess it will have to wait for "Rug Burns Vigilante Cop 2: Rugged n' Raw"
___________________________

So that's my production blog on my very first fake trailer/quasi-short film. All it took was a little preparation, four days of shooting, and seven or eight friends! (Now it's on to post-production...) 

I had tons of fun doing this and want to quickly thank everyone who got invovled: I hope the final product makes it worthwhile, and I'm looking forward to doing this again real soon!

Thanks to Adam Norton for coming up clutch on Saturday morning and for lending us his collection of guns...

Thanks to my Mom for being a kickass PA.

Thanks to my little sister Elise for being along for the ride...she's actually a pretty good DP!

Thanks to all the extras and bad guys: John, Simon, Steve, Adam G., Ara, Tro & Ryan! (I hope I'm not missing anyone...)

Thanks to Patty for becoming 'Rug'. He had mad swagger and improvised some really funny shit during the shoot...I've got 5 sequels planend with your name headlining 'em! 

-J

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rug Burns: Production - Day 3

Monday, August 29h, 2011

Alley Shooting - Julien's House

We spent about an hour shooting cutaways and filler footage.

Rug shootings guns...


Rug getting punched in the face...


The fake blood didn't really work in my last shot where Rug blows a guy to bits using a shotgun...I should have had a bucket of blood ready to dump on Rug...instead that whole part came out kinda goofy. And I forgot to turn on my camera mic for the entire hour. Woops.

The Mob Boss Scene - Pat's Living Room

I was fortunate enough to be able to wrangle three friends into playing mobsters for 10 minutes. We had them sit in Pat's living room, which was the closest thing to the Godfather's office we could get.


We had my pal Ara say gibberish in Armenian for 10 minutes with plans of later adding subtitles in post.

Only part I goofed on is one of the two lights we were using blew out while we were in the middle of shooting...I really should have gotten another one to balance things out...my footage came out grainy as fuck. Fuck.

Hooker Dumpster Scene

After finally finding a quiet alley, we set up for the last shot of the night...don't know if this will make the final cut...what kind of vigilante cop kills a hooker and tosses her into a dumpster...apparently, this one.


We actually had to turn all the way around and go back home because we forgot our flashlight...

Day 3 was all about odds and ends...still had a couple flubs, but we're on the home-stretch now!
___________________________

Up next: Producation Day 4 - The CNE!!!

-J

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Rug Burns: Production - Day 2

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

Day 2 had another rough start. The night before was a buddy's birthday and BBQ...I turned in at around 11PM, but the lead in my movie (Rug) decided to stay out and party a little longer.

We had talked about striking up our set at around 10AM. That didn't happen. We probably didn't roll tape until around noon...

The Interrogation Scene - Pat's Garage

One thing I anticipated was that people who said the would help with the project might drop out, or show up late. That's why, by and large, I decided to pick up and drop off almost everyone involved in the shoot

I picked up my buddy Steve from his house at around 11:30AM and only had him on loan for about 2 hours...

One thing I had not anticipated was that Rug's mom would be barging into the garage every 5 minutes to get hedge clippers...


Breaking the fourth wall? Or opening the back door? You decide, America!
In any case, this scene was messy and a lot of fun. Steve sat there for a good hour while we pelted him with bags of flour...I mean coke...bags and bags of pure cocaine...

Rug Burns - Coke Trailer from 3+one entertainment on Vimeo.



After helping Adam G. move out of his apartment, we brought him to Park Lawn Cemetery to shoot a quick scene.

There's something off-putting about cemeteries. Oh yeah, the dead bodies.

That, and as per usual, we didn't have permission to shoot there.

No permission to shoot. But we did have a license to kill..har har har.

This was one of the few scenes where I had some gore effects planned.


We were in and out of there in 20 minutes, with no one the wiser...

Only I realized later that night that I had forgotten the pool noodle I used as a fake arm...


Not much to report on from these locations. We went in the early evening, got what we needed, and took off!


I wish I'd gotten some better driving footage...and some shots of the wheels from the passenger seat...

We tried to get a peelout going using pine combs (probably a first in the history of movie making). Didn't work. Next time bring flour.
___________________________

Next up: Production Day 3: Armenian Mobsters!

-J

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Rug Burns - Production - Day 1 - Part 2

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Cherry Street

It was getting close to 9AM and every location was becoming more crowded with civilians. As ridiculous as it sounds...it really is difficult to shoot anything with fake guns in complete broad day light. Our hopes were that by starting early, we'd be able to avoid the crowds...but having to wait for the fog to dissipate at Polson Pier meant we we running behind by about a half-hour.

Also, I guess I didn't do my homework on this industrial section of town, but we eventually realized there was a security company that provides services for TPS located right down the street (Intelligarde International - Private Investigations, Bomb Detection, Security Patrols, etc). Over the next hour cops continually passed us as we shot scenes in three different locations.

Cherry Street Bridge
We also ended up having a couple run-ins with some pedestrians and joggers. Apparently, having a fake gun tucked in your waistband while strutting around is not a good idea...lesson learned!

Do your shooting early. 6-8AM on Saturday and Sunday are great...after that you're just asking for trouble.

Unwin Avenue

We had one final walking shot to film, and I wanted Pat to be holding the Mac10. Fortunately, Pat was a little bit more cautious, or perhaps aware, and insisted he only carry the handcuffs...that decision might have saved us dearly.


[I'm not very familiar with the law, but from what I understand, it is illegal to spray paint any toy gun. Also, most toy guns come with a red plastic tip on the barrel, so that they are not easily mistaken for real guns. Apparently, if you tamper with those red tips, you could be in a heap of trouble. In fact, if you commit a robbery with a fake gun, it's the same charge as if the guns were real (just a heads up to any future felons out there).]

In any case, the trunk of my car contained something like a dozen, fake, modified, and spray-painted guns. On top of that, we also had an exact replica of a Beretta. From what I've been told, these are now altogether illegal in Canada.

And on top of having a trunk full of guns, we were also shooting in an industrial factory area, with plenty of "Keep Out" signs...

So I guess it was just a matter of time before the cops wanted to chat with us...

Right as we were about to leave, the cops rolled up and asked me what we were up to. Not being able to think of a lie quick enough, I told the truth:

"We're shooting a short film."
"Yeah? What's the film about?"
"A vigilante cop."
"Yeah? Is he a good cop or a bad cop?"
Immediately, I answered "A good cop!!!"

They laughed and went on their way. I felt scared. I was sweating bullets (PUN). I was so thankful they didn't ask if we were using any guns...we dodged a huge bullet (PUN).

In all seriousness, I knew we'd have problems shooting in certain locations, but having no money for a sound stage, and at the same, really wanting the location shots to look cool as fuck, I took some risks. I'm not sure I'd take the same risks again, but I do know the next time I plan something on this scale, I know I have to choose wisely the people I work with. You really have to be able to trust the crew you're working with to make smart decisions.

I also learned that it's best to tell the truth when dealing with law enforcement...but don't tell the whole truth ("Officer, we got ourselves a trunk full of guns over there!")

Westwood Cinema 

I gotta say after arriving back in Etobicoke, I definitely felt like we were pushing our luck. I decided to dramatically cut down the scenes taking place at Westwood Cinema (an abandoned movie theatre, which was actually supposed to be demolished this summer...). 

I thought I would be happier getting my two best scenes, and getting the fuck out of there, instead of getting all ten scenes and end up on the evening news (Westwood Theatre is down the street from Toronto Police Division 22).

We arrived "on set" at around 1PM, having already pre-planned the whole thing to go down in a matter of 5 minutes. Me, Pat, and our pal Simon (playing 'Bad Guy #5') made a b-line for the rooftop...
  

...while Team Beta (Adam and John) were to set up the wide angle camera, and build us a nice pile of boxes to drive through...

Remember to douse the boxes in flour to make the whole thing look balleristic...
I really wish we'd had more time to spend here...I would have shot the box scene from a tripod, and not to mention I goofed on getting a cool/simple action sequence, all because I didn't have time to re-read my shot list...in retrospect, more time, a third camera, and a production assistant would have all helped at this location...

...but with that being said, how fuckin' sick does this shit look? I'm pretty happy we were able to incorporate a piece of Etobicoke history into 'Rug Burns', considering the whole thing is being converted into a courthouse and parking facility in a matter of months...

After packing up our boxes and dusting off the car, we called it a day!

___________________________

Up next: Day 2 - Cemeteries and Interrogations!


-J

Monday, September 12, 2011

Rug Burns - Production - Day 1 - Part 1

Saturday - August 27th, 2011

Things started off with a thud. I was up at 5:30AM to shower and pack the car. Adam promised the night before he'd be up at the same time to wake up John, since we knew the sun would rise at 6:35AM, we'd try to get as much daylight as possible.

Adam either didn't set his alarm, or slept through his alarm. (Behind-the-Scenes Factoid: My little sister told me that he used an entire roll of toilet paper the night before. Is that why he overslept? I don't have the answer for that.)

I packed the car, woke up John, texted Pat, and went to wake up Adam at 5:55AM.

Adam and John insisted on getting Tim Hortons before we headed downtown.

I ate a banana, an orange, and a granola bar.

John bought Timbits and a small coffee (more on this later).

As we drove along the Gardiner Expressway, we realized we didn't have a sword for the scene...Adam mentioned that he had one back in Georgetown...too late to head back, we'd have to improvise.

I parked the car off York St. and we headed to the first location.

Rooftop Parking Lot - Lower Simcoe Street

During location scouting, I found out that half of this parking facility was under construction...which meant the place would be deserted on a Saturday morning.
The first scene we shot was in the stairwell...

Camera work courtesy of John
Working with a two-camera setup, you have to constantly be aware of where the other camera is, without shooting the other camera...this proved to be pretty difficult, and in the end, about 50% of the footage will need to be cropped or trashed altogether. 

I remembered from my last visit that there was a broken window somewhere in the stairwell. Thanks to a clumsy construction worker we didn't have to vandalize any property to get some good looking shots:

We probably should have cleared the broken glass before having Adam lie on the ground...
We shot another chase scene on the 7th floor of the parking tower before moving up to the rooftop. The only problem is we didn't have a knife, we didn't have a sword, we didn't have a chain, we had no other weapons...essentially 'Bad Guy #2' was gonna bring his fists to a gunfight...

Scanning the parking lot, I noticed there were some extra fence parts lying around...PERFECT!

Rug has hops.
 Part of the allure for using this location was the amazing skyline we'd be able to capture during fight scenes.

The struggle ensues...eight stories above downtown Toronto.
 I took a couple extra 'glamour' pics featuring Rug in front of the CN Tower...and then we got the fuck out of Dodge. 

One ethical dilemma we encountered almost everywhere was whether or not we should clean the areas before leaving. The problem is the longer you stick around somewhere (when you don't have a permit) the more likely you are to get busted and harassed. So we guiltily left some puddles of fake blood in the stairwell...but on the positive side, the blood consisted of mostly chocolate syrup, which masked the smell of hobo urine quite nicely...so at least we left the place smelling better than when we got there.

Polson Pier

Mere minutes upon our arrival at Polson Pier, Pat dropped my voice recorder. Fortunately the night before I packed a bunch of tape...just in case. Always, always, always bring tape.

While I was fixing the recorder, our pal John (pictured above in the gore-tex jacket) started to puke his guts out. As director, I immediately instructed Adam to start rolling tape...and lucky for you, he caught the last 30 seconds of it...enjoy!

'Rug Burns' meets John Ralphs from 3+one entertainment on Vimeo.

I guess running around in a gore-tex jacket for half an hour after chugging energy drinks isn't the best idea...

John, however, was a real trooper and insisted he was fine, sticking around for another 5 hours of shooting!

During our time at Polson Pier, we shot some chase scenes, the toll booth scene, and lots of skyline shots...as you can tell, shit was poppin' off:

If this were a poster, I'd hang it on my wall.
One snag we hit was that I originally picked an abandoned toll booth for us to use. But when we got there, it was chained off, and we couldn't get our car through. I didn't remember a chain being there. Lucky for us the next nearest toll booth was unlocked...

Another thing I forgot to consider was the morning humidity...that morning was exceptionally foggy, so we had a really narrow window of opportunity to shoot skyline shots.

Before we left for Cherry Street, we got Pat doing some stunts...a couple commando rolls, jumping off loading docks...and this:

Rug Burns? Rug Spills! from 3+one entertainment on Vimeo.

It probably didn't help that he was wearing his work shoes from the office.

Save for a couple nosy bystanders, Polson Pier was a great location to shoot at.
___________________

Next time: Cherry Street, Real Cops, and Westwood Theatre!

-J

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Rug Burns - Last Minute Preparations

Friday - August 26th, 2011

I spent all day phoning around trying to secure an extra for Saturday at 6AM. About a month earlier my friend Steve promised he'd be available for the day. Now he was telling me had to work.

I called everyone and anyone I knew...I even called some people I didn't know...I can't say I'm surprised that no one was interested in getting up at 5 in the morning (for no pay...on a weekend) to shoot some rinky-dink movie.

Fortunately Adam Norton agreed to help out on the project. He was in Georgetown getting his wisdom teeth taken out, but planned on spending the weekend at a friend's cottage. He said he would come help out for a day if his friend, John, could join too.

This was great news for me. It meant I'd have another bad guy for Rug to beat up, and also an extra set of hands to run the secondary camera.

I met up with Pat (playing the role of 'Rug Burns') at around 9PM on Friday night and finally delivered him the script. We hashed out some final details for the next morning's shoot.

I was hoping to shoot at the break of dawn on Saturday morning on a rooftop parking lot in downtown Toronto...so that meant picking up the guys from Georgetown Friday night, so we could get out there nice and early.

My mom, the ultimate production assistant, prepared the guest room and the basement for the boys to sleep.

_______________

Next up: Production begins...

-J

Monday, September 5, 2011

Rug Burns: Vigilante Cop - Pre-Production

'Rug Burns' started off as my ode to blaxploitation films of days gone by.

Drug dealers, hitmen, gangstas and pimps...jump cuts, action montages, explosions, soul and funk soundtracks...blaxploitation films combine all the greatest things to known man...along with some great actors such as Fred Williamson, Pam Grier, Jim Kelly, Rudy Ray Moore, the list goes on...

If you're looking to bone up on your blaxploitation films, MGM re-released a number of blaxploitation films about ten years ago on VHS and DVD under the heading of 'Soul Cinema'...including 'Coffy', 'Across 110th Street', 'Foxy Brown', 'Blacula', and the all-but-forgotten 'Bucktown':

"Bucktown, where the chicks are on the make, the cops are on the take, and the welcoming committee is a sawed-off shotgun!"

Does shit get realer than this? One of the actual lines from this movie is "They don't give a damn who gets killed, just as long as the dice keep rollin', the hos keep ho'in', and the money keeps flowin'!"

It's fast and fun cinema for the masses.

Rug Burns: In the beginning...

I actually created 'Rug Burns' for my radio show (Moon Down Radio). Eventually I recorded 2-3 audio episodes which included Rug going to the barbershop, and Rug foiling a bank heist. Listening back to the old tapes, I realize 'Rug' is pretty much 'Dirty Harry'. Oh well...

In any case, I proposed to my pal 'P-Tricky' AKA 'P-Dub' in Toronto that he play the role of 'Rug Burns' (you don't technically need to be black to play the lead in a blaxploitation film). I'd seen him do a few top-notch viral videos before and thought I'd be better suited behind the camera and writing the script.

In the end we set a date of Aug 27 to begin shooting. That meant I had a couple months to write up the script.

But first, we needed to find places to shoot.

Location, Location, Location

Considering this was originally planned as a no-budget operation, with no crew, and little to no outside help, Toronto was the place we needed to be. We didn't have money for sets, or big special effects, so the better our real-life locales looked, the better the end product would be (hopefully).

With that in mind, I spent a couple days in Toronto looking for suitable shooting locations which would allow us both a) amazing scenery, and b) the least amount of outside interference.

Here are a few locations I came up with and visited:

Rooftop Parking Lot - Downtown Toronto
Polson Pier - Filming Strictly Prohibited
Cherry Street Bridge
Train tracks - Unwin Ave.
Westwood Theatre (Abandoned) - Etobicoke
We would go back a few days later, and discovered we could get rooftop access...
Park Lawn Cemetery
In the end I narrowed the field down to about 8 locations we could possibly use (having actual locations in mind and pictures to refer to would really help with the writing process later on).

Da Script! Da Fuck?

I've never written a script before, but I did read Robert Rodriguez's amazing little book, and he made it sound pointless to learn the actual formatting of scripts. After all, I'm the only guy who really needs to read and understand it.

All the ideas came together pretty fast...I drew inspiration (read: ripped off) Spike Jonze's 'Sabotage' music video, Lee Demarbe's film 'Harry Knuckles', and John Davies and Jason Eisener's 'Hobo With with a Shotgun'.

The actual writing was pretty slow though. I usually scribble ideas down on pieces of papers and post it notes...not to mention I'm a horrible procrastinator, so gathering everything into one neat tidy package was a bit of a pain in the ass.

Even though I had months to complete it, I only finished writing it the Tuesday before we got shooting.


At the end of the day, the 7-page script consisted only of about 25 spoken lines. Since we were shooting a trailer, and not an actual short film, most of the script detailed action shots and sequences.

Now, the only thing left to do, was secure some fake guns, prep some fake blood, get some extras, and hope for good weather.

_______________

Next time, Day 1 of shooting!


-J

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

the human condition

The line separating right and wrong is a fine one.
To be innocent, open, and infinitely human was wrong.

The difference between a man's desire, and his underlying capability, is a large one.
To be myself, was to be wrong, and so I bore it.


I was told I was wrong, because I wouldn't chase after what was right...

...and so someday I will be wrong again.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Whatever. Wherever.

Whenever.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

tonight

It rained. I laughed...
You smirked,
Resenting the impermanent man,

...incapable of promising forever, promised honestly, nothing at all.
only tonight?
the flawed child,

Guilty of transience. Ephemera personified.
Fuck.
the boy who lived in the clouds.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Siftin' through the wreckage of a past life...

I sometimes feel the need to go back and fix what I have broken was broken.

Even if I did manage to fix it, it would eventually become unglued.

I was never that good at fixing things.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dating: How?

So you've decided you want to get in a relationship. But...how?

First off...dating is out! Nobody dates anymore. People don't do dating.

Asking someone out on a "date" is extremely formal, inorganic, and forces you to lie ("I know a really great place" but really, you don't know shit. You don't even know where you left your keys).

Here's a quality tip for the lads: You should, never, ever, ever, EVER ask a girl out on a date.

No matter what you do or say, you'll always seem like a creep, even though you're totally not. I mean, you're a decent guy (or a rapist, whatever).

Speaking of which...

It's time for another round of 'Decent Guy...or Rapist?'
You have 20 seconds...GO!!!
If you said...rapist, you are 100% correct...but you win nothing. 
This is Academy-Award Winning Rapist Joseph Brooks
[Editor's Note: He looks pretty normal to me.]

Dating in the 21st Century:

What I have learned (not so much from experience, but moreso from my sister who skanks around with everyone and then tells me about it) is that girls would rather hang out in an informal setting, preferably with a group of friends. If you can't get a group of friends together, get a group of enemies. Just so long as everyone knows one another.

In essence, this is dating in the 21st century.

This is dating a guy from Century 21.
The First 'Real' Date

There might come a point when you actually do find yourself on a one-on-one date with that special someone.

Resist asking the following:
  • "Who's paying?"
  • "Where's the beef?"
  • "Does the carpet match the drapes?"
  • "How much cock could a cock-hungry whore suck, if a cock-hungry whore could suck cock?"
Also, resist doing the following:
  • Talking.
You will only fuck up your chances. We both know you're no Shakespeare...and quite frankly Shakespeare was kind of a freak. So keep yer trap shut.

So now we know what NOT to ask, and what NOT to do...so what DO you do on a date?

On a typical first 'real' date, you'll meet someone of the opposite sex (or the same sex, it doesn't really matter), and then you'll go some place...like dinner, a movie, outer-space...and you're gonna sit there. Sit there and listen.

Be forewarned: Most people don't have much to say, but they talk lots anyway.

And that's pretty much it. Just nod and pretend that the other person is fascinating, even though they are so fucking boring you've started to consider stabbing your penis with a fork (or if you're a lady, your vagina with a steak knife - I like mine medium-rare).

If your penis/vagina/pegina is still intact after the mind-numbing conversation, remember to go the extra mile. Do something special to give that person the false impression that they are more important than they actually are.

We're talking presents, yo.

You get extra points if it's exotic...like a diamond...
Ladies love diamonds.
 Or a chainsaw...
Dudes love chainsaws.

Or a sherpa...
Trannies love sherpas.
  Later on...

After lots and lots of talking, and stuff, the two of you will start hanging out more, and even possibly hold hands or something fruity like that. Then after that, there's like heavy petting, making out, hand jobs, blow jobs, and a bunch of other nonsense, which, from what I remember, is a lot of fun.

Filthy, salacious hand holdin'
With that being said, an important thing to remember is to ask the other person, "Are we going steady?" which is to guarantee exclusivity in the relationship.

See, it's not enough to just have good times, moments, or memories with another person. You need to make sure that you're the only person they can have a good time with in the future as well. It's just common sense, folks.

I usually make the girls I date sign a blood oath stating that they won't dare look at other men above the kneecaps.

Later later on...

The really cool thing about relationships is that eventually people get too lazy to start new ones. Most people end up staying in relationships far longer than they'd want to because it's a matter of convenience...or inconvenience, rather.

I mean, let's be real...who wants to go through that whole process I just detailed above, again? It's exhausting. Why bother?

That's why it's better to stay in your current relationship.

I say if you are considering breaking up with your current boy/girl/thing-friend, you should always think back to this old adage: Complacency guarantees lifelong happiness.
___________________

Next time...Commitment and Marriage!

-J

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dating: Why?

A Cynic's Guide to Dating  A Nihilist's Guide to Dating  An Ataraxiast's Guide to Dating

Julien's Guide to Dating: The Whys

I think I want to fall in love again...

…but I don't really know what that means.

I honestly can't even really remember what falling in love is like... 

Part of the problem is that I'm a guy and thereby cursed with the sin of lust.

Sin starts right where the red arrow indicates, at the tip, actually. 

In some cultures, a penis that curves towards the left is considered especially sinister. LOL. Get it? Sinister, left, sin...get it, bah, whatever.
Here’s one such example of sin getting the better of me: If I'm buying groceries, I'll start wondering about the lady at the register... "Could she be single? What's her life like?” and then I'll think, "Yeah, it'd be kinda cool to get to know her as a person, and maybe even have a positive impact on her life...and then what I'll do…is FUCK her...FUCK. HER. HARD."

I'll be honest...if the line's moving fast, I'll skip right to thinking of the fucking part...

So sadly, up until recently, other than dirty filthy coitus, I couldn't really think of any other reasons to get in a relationship. Why should I get in a relationship? Why should anyone get in a relationship? If you're not gonna have kids, what's the point? Just empty sex? 
[Editor's Note: Just empty sex? That would be a great relationship.]

Fortunately, I racked my brain for twenty minutes and here's what I came up with!

Why Get In A Relationship?
  • The Bill Withers Theory
You should get in a relationship… so you’ll have someone to talk to...somebody to lean on…

…but, to be truthful, I've nary met a person who didn't have friends or family to talk to.

I wouldn't lean on this dude, even if he was the last dude to lean on, on earth!
  • The Show-Off Theory
 You should get in a relationship… to show-off and show-up your friends, enemies, coworkers, etc.

There’s nothing better than making other people jealous. Feel free to go places with your significant other and say to everyone, "Hey! Look at this dude (or hot piece of ass) I reeled in. We’re tight...that's why we're holding hands…in PUBLIC!!! BITCH!!!"

  • The 21st Night of September Theory
You should get in a relationship… because you love the other person (whatever that means).

Interestingly, scientists have discovered that it is possible to love another person without being in a relationship with them. But if you’re the possessive type, feel free to claim exclusive ownership of your man/woman/thing.

  • The S/he’s Perfect Theory
You should get in a relationship… because this person is perfect, and you want to be with them forever...

…but do you really want to be around somebody forever? 24/7? That sounds exhausting...I mean, even perfect people have to poop.

…but of course, this is different…your boyfriend/girlfriend/whatever actually is perfect.

All I can say then, is...good for you! You’re pretty lucky to have found someone perfect...considering the list of men and women throughout history that have actually been perfect is pretty short.

Come to think of it, I can only think of one man that was perfect. His name was Jesus.

  And he was celibate.


PS - Let's all lay off the bullshit-romantic clichés. All those old sayings are so tired…

"Oh, such-and-such completes me!" Completes what? Another person makes you whole? So before this relationship you were just part of a person, but now, thanks to this separate human being, you’re a complete person? What the fuck does that even mean?

PPS - Speaking of clichés, don’t people say, “If you love something, you should let it go”? Seems like getting in a relationship would be the exact opposite of that. Oh well, whatever.

PPPS - I know Jesus wasn't actually perfect...but he did have great hair.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ultimately...

I've given birth to you...

So that you may watch me die.
So that you may experience a deep sense of loss.
So that you will feel left behind.
So that you will be all alone.

Hopeless, in despair.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Death

Excerpts from Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilych
"It's not a question of my appendix or my kidney, but of life and...death. Yes, life was there and now it is going, going and I cannot stop it. Yes. Why deceive myself? Isn't it obvious to everyone but me that I'm dying, and that it's only a question of weeks, days...it may happen any moment. There was light and now there's darkness. I was here and now I'm going there! Where?" A chill came over him, his breathing ceased, and he felt only the throbbing of his heart.

"When I'm not, what will there be? There'll be nothing. Then where will I be when I'm no more? Can this by dying? No, I don't want to! ...What's the use? It makes no difference. Death. Yes, death. And none of them knows or wishes to know it, and they have no pity for me. Now they are singing and playing. It's all the same to them, but they'll die too! Fools! First me, and later them, but it'll be the same for them. And now they're merry...the beasts!"

Anger choked him and he was agonizingly, unbearably miserable. "It's impossible that all men have been doomed to suffer this awful horror!"

Breathless and in despair he fell on his back, expecting death to come immediately.

In the depth of his heart he knew he was dying, but not only was he unaccustomed to the thought, he simply did not and could not grasp it.
_______________________

Life, a series of increasing sufferings, flies further and further towards its end - the most terrible suffering. "I'm flying..." He shuddered, shifted himself, and tried to resist, but was already aware that resistance was impossible, and again with eyes tired of gazing but unable to cease seeing before them, he stared at the back of the sofa and waited - awaiting the dreadful fall and shock and destruction.

"Resistance is impossible!" he said to himself. "If only I could understand what it's all for! But that too is impossible. An explanation would be possible if it could be said that I've not lived as I ought to. "There's no explanation! Agony, death...what for?"
_______________________

The question suddenly occurred to him: "What if my whole life has been wrong?"

It occurred to him that what had appeared perfectly impossible before, namely that he had not spent his life as he should have done, might be true after all. It occurred to him that his scarcely perceptible attempts to struggle against what was considered good by the most highly placed people, those scarcely noticeable impulses which  he had immediately suppressed, might have been the real thing, and all the rest false. His professional duties and the whole arrangement of his life and his family, all his social and official interests, might all have been false...

There was nothing to defend.
_______________________

In the morning when he first saw his footman, then his wife, then his daughter, and then the doctor,  their every word and movement confirmed the awful truth that had been revealed to him during the night. In them he saw himself - all that for which he had lived - and saw clearly that it was not real at all, but a terrible and huge deception which had hidden both life and death.

All revealed the same thing. "This is wrong, it's not as it should be. All you've lived for and still live for is falsehood and deception, hiding life and death from you."

Prosti   Propusti
_______________________

There was no fear because there was no death.

-Leo Tolstoy

I really love this short story...

To people who haven't read the whole thing, first off, I suggest you do. It's a super-short read, it's funny, it's somber, and it's interesting.

Essentially, Ivan Ilych is a guy who's sick, but he's not sure what he has, and he teeters between hope and despair as he lies on his death bed. From the excerpts above, you can tell Ivan Ilych begins to call into question the purpose of life and what it means to live a good life...

I imagine you can read about death and the afterlife in the bible and other places...but Tolstoy's version is so much more...terrifying? Satisfactory? Real? What I mean to say is that I'm not a big "pearly gates" guy, or "God is bearded dude" guy...so I found this to be a kickass piece of literature. And I don't say that often about literature.

Near the end of the story, Ivan Ilych concludes that life is an illusion. Essentially everything we do in our everyday lives simply masks the reality that one day, we're all gonna die. It could be in a couple years, months, or days, but the true, underlying reality always awaits for us.

That's what I love about this short story. Your entire life you prepare for dances, look for a better job, worry about what kind of food you're eating...but it's pretty much an illusion. It's almost as though we're all playing pretend...we're all pretending the terrible inevitable won't happen to us.

Every adult, and even most teenagers, know that at a certain point or another, we will simply cease to exist. And yet, death doesn't bother us that much. Death bothers sick people. Death bothers old people. Death bothers people who are grieving a lost life. But for most of us, death is an afterthought. We're all aware death is there, but we do everything we can to bury that reality. It's bizarre. I sometimes wonder if as a society we're all too eager to avoid thinking about death. Certainly it can't be a bad idea to prepare for our confrontations with death...after all, death is the only thing that you really get in life.

Think about it. What do you have right now that you'll have forever? Nothing. But death...death lasts a lifetime. Longer, actually.

Maybe if we were more comfortable with the idea of death, we'd able to kindly grant others the right to die. You know? That way they could go out with a little dignity, instead of being unable to move, doped up on meds, in constant pain, and crapping their pants? (By that same token, 'Death of Ivan Ilych' could be viewed as a piece which argues strongly against giving people the right to die...)

But I guess the only way to "live life" is to not think about death. Yet the only difference between you (alive) and a dead guy (adead) is that your heart is still beating, and his ain't. On a universal scale, that's not a huge difference.

Meeting Death

When Ivan finally meets death, he discovers that death is actually nothing.

It's a weird thought. We all meet death and yet none of us really meet death. In fact, you die before you meet death. The only thing you know is existence, and death is simply the absence of that existence. Death is nothingness.

I suppose it makes sense then that we're afraid of death. Death is something we don't know. In fact, death is everything we don't know. Death is the complete absence of knowledge and being... Death is the absence of knowing, feeling, thinking, and being anything at all.

What's even weirder though, is that from a theoretical standpoint, existence is actually more death than life. Time and space (the universe) are infinite. You and I, we're finite. So let's do some quick math:

Let's say you're fortunate enough to live to the ripe old age of 92 (you're looking good by the way, are you using a new moisturizer?)

The universe/time/space is infinite.

So... 92 years, divide by infinity...equals...let me see...


Zero.

Life is actually the closest thing to nothingness there is! It's practically nothing. Life is essentially nothing. And death? Death actually is nothing! Or everything...depending on how you look at it.

So not only is there no death, there's actually no life! No wonder life is so scary. Life is practically nothing!

Anyway, now that that's all cleared up, I'm gonna go back to eating this bagel with cream cheese. Good night.

-ImNotJulien

PS - Of course, I'm talking in macrocosms...and most people don't live, or think, on that kind of scale...but that doesn't mean it's not real. Simply because we live our day to day lives in blissful ignorance, it doesn't exclude us from the larger universal truths. The good news is though, because life is so close to being nothing, it doesn't really matter whether it has meaning or not. Life just is. Well...life is more isn't than is, but you get the idea.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Disease of Entitlement

I just saw the Conan O'Brien documentary..."Conan O'Brien Can't Stop" (which should probably be called "Jay Leno Can't Stop" - har har har).


Anyway, as much as I like and respect Conan, the movie was a pointless waste of time. It had no real narrative, none of the poignant questions were asked, and overall it seemed like an afterthought on the part of the producers and director.

What I did find interesting though, and wished I could have seen more of, is Conan's real motivation for doing the tour and the documentary. Or really, what motivates a man to keep working after a $45 million settlement.

Although I can't recommend the Conan doc, I definitely would recommend fans of late night television pick up Bill Carter's "The War for Late Night". He gives an uber-detailed blow-by-blow of the whole Tonight Show fiasco.

To make a long story slightly shorter, back in 2004, Conan was prepared to leave NBC unless he was promised the Tonight Show in his next contract.

What's the big deal about The Tonight Show? For starters, the Tonight Show airs at 11:35pm, and at one point, was hosted by Johnny Carson. The earlier time slot means more money. The fact that Carson hosted it at some point also has some sort of symbolic value for the sycophants who actually watched that turd of a show. Translation: Conan wanted his name alongside his idol's.

Conan had followed Leno for some 15 years, and felt it was his time to stand in the slightly larger spotlight. Conan could have stayed in New York, and he could have stayed at 12:35. But he NEEDED to be on the Tonight Show. The documentary never really explains why Conan felt this way...and they probably avoided it on purpose, because the answer ain't pretty: Conan is sick with the disease of entitlement.

Conan repeatedly claims "I'm the least entitled guy I know", yet two seconds later is saying "I'm so angry other people [i.e. Jay Leno] get to be on TV, and not me."

Television ain't the make-a-wish foundation. It's based on ratings, revenue, star power...but mostly ratings. Conan's ratings sucked. I'll be the first guy to say that NBC didn't really give the show a chance to succeed, but nonetheless, Conan was master of his own destiny...not to mention, nobody really owed him the chance anyway  [I understand it's popular belief, but beyond your parents (and maybe your siblings) nobody really owes you shit in life. It's sobering, but true...more on this later].

The truth of the matter is, this sense of entitlement...that he is somehow owed something better than he received, is indicative that Conan O'Brien is likely a narcissist.

I'm not a big fan of Murray's "narcissistic triad", but bear with me, as it seemingly applies to Conan O'Brien:
  1. Entitlement: Conan felt he deserved the Tonight Show...because he's special...and, well, just because. Also, Conan worked hard...[so did Jay Leno]...but Conan worked hard too dammit...and Conan's a special little boy.
  2. Disappointment: Conan gets shived by NBC execs/his own team of agents, and becomes despondent. 
  3. Rage: Conan gets mad.
  4. Time-out: Conan is sent to his room to think about what he's done.
Alright, that last stage I made up.


But, in any case, it did get me thinking about what role entitlement, jealousy, envy, and to a lesser degree, jenvy, play in our lives and society at large.

As a kid I learned all about the green-eyed monster...mostly from those lovable Jewish grizzlies, the Berenstain Bears.

I'll be honest, I don't really remember the story too well. I think Bart or whatever the boy's name is, gets a cool looking bicycle (pictured above) and then his sister gets jealous, so she pushes him off the bike...or maybe she stole it and took it down to the ravine where all the potheads toke up, and traded the bike for some shit hash. I don't remember exactly, but it's something like that.

Anyway, the point is this: It's bad to be envious of what other people have. It's bad to feel you should have what others have.

I guess.

And yet entitlement seems to be an intrinsic part of North American culture: 'Oh, you don't have the new iphone? What a loser.'...'You bought a new car? This is a newer one'. From a young age, we're taught to want what we can't have, and be envious of who we're not.

Now entitlement can't all be a bad thing...otherwise, how could it still exist? It must somehow have benefited mankind at some point, since it's been selected for over the last few millions years: Ergo, entitlement increases your chances of survival.

Humans wouldn't have been around for long if we sat around saying "Please, big tiger, no, you eat me! I know we're both hungry, but I had lobster last night...so you go ahead..."

Bad example.
So it then makes sense that we have feelings of entitlement...and that we even get jealous of people who have more than we do...because, quite frankly, it's good for you and your survival!

Jealousy, envy, and entitlement are also all linked to upward-social comparisons. And being upper class is something we all strive for...I've never seen a person walk by a homeless man and wish for the hobo's clothes...and really, when was the last time you heard someone say: "You know what I deserve? A shittier job WITH LESS PAY!!!"

And it wouldn't make sense to hear that anyway. If you have less, you're less likely to survive.

So if entitlement is essentially good for your survival...how is it also a disease?

Entitlement works against the community and the populous at large. I could whip out some bullshit figure now, about how 95% of the world's wealth is under the possession of 5% of the people...but I don't really need to. All you gotta do is look around the world and see that humans aren't particularly good at sharing. It's the same thing that makes public health-care a novelty instead of the norm. The arguments are always the same: Why should I pay for yours? What did you do to deserve it?

In a bizarre way, entitlement slowly becomes this weird, wicked, misanthropic attitude. Entitlement blinds us...it makes us incapable of performing acts of benevolence.

At this point, I should probably point out that entitlement and benevolence are pretty much human concepts. I don't think a pack of hyenas considers benevolence, or entitlement for that matter, while they're tearing apart an old ass lion (I don't know if hyenas eat lions, but I think I saw it in the Lion King).

So maybe as a society, and as a human race, we're actually getting better, not worse. Maybe we've evolved from animals that had ZERO benevolence and 100% entitlement (with survival in mind) and we've slowly become...dare I say it...wiser? Kinder? Gentler? Nobler? (Is nobler a word? Fuck).

I know we have wars, and commit horrendous crimes against one another...but maybe the world's not headed to hell in hand basket. Maybe we're actually getting better.

The only thing I'm really basing this on is personal experience. I think entitlement is a very childish sentiment or attitude. We've all been the kid in the candy store.
I want it I want it I want it I want it (No, seriously, I kinda want this).
 But I've found that the older I get...the less I feel that way.

Quite frankly, there are very few things that I really want (besides basic human rights...which I'd also like to point out...are human). But of the things that I do want, I don't really feel all that entitled to have any of 'em...so I guess what I'm arguing is that it's probably possible to live without a huge, overbearing sense of entitlement...

But in its defense..entitlement is obviously a tremendous motivator for some people. Like good ole Conan.

-ImNotJulien

Monday, July 4, 2011

Mediocrity Haunts Me

I sometimes wish I was really good at ONE thing.

Swing and a miss.
Whether it's been sports, music, or academics, I've been pretty mediocre at nearly everything I've ever done.

Piano, hockey, soccer, baseball, volleyball, basketball, school, radio, furniture restoration, handyman work, writing, BMX...I'm average at all of the above.

Sometimes I think it's because I only have a cursory interest in many of these things....whereas some people know exactly what they want to do right out of grade school, or high school.

Not me.

At one point I went to a Toronto Police Q&A. Then I did stand-up for awhile. Then I worked as a garbageman. Then I studied psychology at university.

I was average at all of it.


Don't get me wrong...I'm alright at a lot of different things, but I'm not great at any one thing. Just passable across a multitude, and it's gotten me thinking about mediocrity...

I think a lot of people are probably cursed to be mediocre...actually, come to think of it, a lot of people are cursed to go without potable water (1 billion), shelter (1 in 5 worldwide), and food (900 million), but whatever.

The glass is half empty.

The point is, the rest of us, we're all very alike, because we're all pretty average. Average looks, average height, average weight, average smarts, average everything. Most people are pretty mediocre at their jobs, too.

The people we tend to idolize, however, are those who are exceptional at one thing or another. Musicians, comedians, athletes, artists...they all excel at what they do.

Now some would argue that they are born with an innate talent...and I wouldn't disagree, but there is one great equalizer out there for all us normies: Work ethic.

The problem is, work sucks. God does it ever suck. Working is like the worst thing ever. I love sitting around reading...watching movies...playing video games...doing nothing. Doing nothing is great. But apparently doing nothing doesn't build greatness.

QUIT READIN' AND GET BACK TO WORK!
So if you're mediocre like me, know that it won't be easy to make anything of yourself. You'll have to work harder than everyone else. And that's a tough realization to come to. Nobody wants to hear that. Nobody wants to hear "Hey, you'll exhaust yourself, and you still might not succeed..."

But I figure it's worth a shot. After all, nobody wants to be mediocre their entire lives. (Some people are probably fine with it, but they're already dead on the inside).

What I start to wonder about though, is whether or not anyone can ever get that chip of  mediocrity off their shoulder. I just watched the Foo Fighters documentary, and Dave Grohl talked about how during Nirvana's heyday, none of them ever felt like what they were doing was a big deal...and I guess in a sense, that's what has kept him motivated to make music this whole time. The guy has enough money. He certainly could have quit a long time ago. But obviously he's driven to prove himself, time and again.

Anyway, I don't know how much any of this is worth...but it's food for thought, and there's gotta be worse things than thinking...maybe.

-ImNotJulien

PS - Kind of a mediocre ending to this post...typical me.