Ten Life Lessons Learned the Hard Way

1)Go with the most Pro. By hiring and working with amateurs and the uncommitted you are wasting money and time. It will be twice as expensive and will bring you low. Also…don’t hire talent simply because they are proficient or even good at what they do. Make sure you like them, they are respectful and kind. If they can’t speak with respect…move on. This works for advice too, take it from people who have the quality of life you aspire toward. 2)Go with people who are listening to you, who have the ability to empathize. 3)Build alliances that are mutually beneficial. Some people will count you only a friend or family member when they are in need, but will forget you exist when they do well. Some will treat you as a resource, not a human. The world is busting with quality people. Join organizations like the Jaycees, take classes, join an athletic association…join a church. Those things in no way guarantee you’ll meet quality people, but it’s a good starting point to start your search. But in the end you will want to share your life with people who share common values with you. Sadly, some people only value what they can get. 4)Keep positive, don’t let anyone draw you into petty conflicts. (When you move and demand the best, there will be many people popping up to lure you away from your path) 5)If you don’t know how to do something, start it anyway. Write, journal, visualize, and do as much as you can. 6)Put love first. Help others, because all material things expire useless. 7)Have fun, if you aren’t enjoying life, then what’s the point? 8)Enjoy and keep a healthy mind/body, pray, meditate, exercise..have a good sex life or fall in love…but don’t be owned by it. You are “Fearfully and wonderfully made,” Let no person convince you otherwise. 9)Define yourself so strongly that anyone who tries to define you otherwise will look silly trying. 10)Make daily progress, and don’t measure it by how much. If you only make $1 a day with your mind, you have done something amazing. Scale from there. If you only help one person a day, you are really helping the cause of humanity. Keep going.

 

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Steve Jobs (2015) Drama film/Biography ‧ 2h 2m

imagesWatching the ‪#‎SteveJobs‬ story, I can’t believe it’s been so long since I met Jobs when I attended the first Pixar shareholder meeting, back in the day before the release of A Bug’s Life. I joked with Jobs that Flick looked like the Blueberry iMac, and he laughed.  I wanted to speak more, drop off a resume to Pixar, but the Pixar ice queens in his entourage made my core temperature drop. Why was there no mention of Pixar and how he and his 2nd company revolutionized film animation in the film?  And where were those Ice Queens?  I would have included the Ice Queens. Well, honestly, the real reason I never applied to Pixar was the exact reason I should have applied. It was a question of diversity. That’s not to poo-poo Pixar in any way, at that point in time they were ass-locked and knee-deep in work. In retrospect, their homogeneity served a purpose. I digress.

Time flies. I was surprised to learn from this film that Steve Jobs couldn’t code, because I’m horrible at coding and always imagined him to be a coding genius, but he had vision and didn’t let that small detail stop him. Love the writing in this film. The direction of the actors seems a bit uneven, but this is a good example of when a script is strong enough to make the movie. Oh, Man…how did I watch this whole film and not recognize Kate Winslet? Guess she’s good. I never wondered about Steve Jobs, because I recognized my own seemingly fractured personality in him. (I’m not scattered or fractured, genius just looks that way) Steve had and elegant understanding of design aesthetics and human nature. He was able to fuse together seemingly disparate disciplines, computer science, art, literature, science, film, animation, typography, printing, just to name a few. Then he managed to make it a business success, and simple enough for almost everyone to understand. As an artist, I can tell you that simplification is very difficult. It was a treat to see his vulnerable side, specifically regarding his own insecurities as an adopted child. For the longest time, I couldn’t understand why he was so distant with her…but it all unfolds and makes sense as the film progresses. Well done, Danny Boyle. Those tracking shots though, whew!

Nod to Danny Boyle for not making this look like a Danny Boyle film.

Memorable lines, as I remember them.

“I don’t want people to dislike me, I’m indifferent as to whether they dislike me.” – Steve Jobs, The Movie

“I wanna go out there.”
“You can’t, you can’t…it will be like a scene out of ‘Hard Day’s Night’!”

“People find you threatening.”
“People without talent find people with talent threatening.”
Ooh, Snap.

“Calm down, you’re gonna have a stroke Little Fella.”

“Have a Mimosa and relax.”

“Sound like an old wise person, the way only you can with the broad European canvas that is your life.”
“You do know, I wasn’t born in a 19th century European Shtetle, don’t you?”

“I am poorly made.”

 

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Legend (2015)

#Legend could have been a great film with the help of an editor and a writer interested in telling a story with a little more depth. A gratuitous unrefined mess of a film,legend which is entirely too long and seems completely enamored with itself.  That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy parts, as I’m pretty unrefined and messy myself.  Legend, is a biopic about the notorious Kray brothers from London’s East End. That fact is played down, with celebrity actors and artists like Shirley Bassey and Joan Collins making cameo appearances that are stylish yet subdued.  Legend is a stylishly told story that’s so brutally violent at times, it is almost comical. But isn’t life that way?  Often violent, absurd, comical and heartbreaking, and often all at once. In that sense, this film shines as a tongue-in-cheek retelling of two brutal crime figures whose actions are so brutal they scarcely seem believable.

Photography was a little too uneven, at times stunning at other times awkward.  The special effects and choreography were so good as to appear seamless. Score and costumes were spot on for the period. Tom Hardy was good ,  though his characters are often over-acted at times.  He is a talented actor, but even he can’t save a script with all those expletives and an unrewarding story line. Emily Browning’s Frances is the most interesting character with nothing to do. She’s interesting because she isn’t overacting like the rest of the ensemble. This film is interesting, and at times beautiful to watch.  But it drones on and on in regards to established character traits and repeats pointless violence and impertinent sexual situations.  It becomes an unrefined movie-going experience, because it’s trying to tell us what it should show us.  Several times I wanted to say: “We get it, we get it!”  But it just went on and on. I wish the writer understood that a story is good for the parts you leave out. It’s worth watching for those moments that are good, and even for the moments the screenwriter tries to show the humanity of the characters, but it’s too little too late.  I wouldn’t say you should avoid this film, but watching it with friends who like plenty of violence and salaciousness in their movies may help it go down better. You may also need plenty of coffee and side-banter to get through some patches.

A great film for when:

You need a film with a ton of gang violence, interesting fashions and production design, a strong LGBT lead, and a film you can drink and talk over with friends as you watch. It will do in a pinch.

At times great writing and direction shines through:

Frances:   “Love is a witness.”

 

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The Martian

I paid to see this film, while not as shameful as purchasing sex, or as remorseful as buying a car…I think it will get you through and evening, but it won’t take you much further. Thinking on ‪#‎TheMartian‬, Seems there is a lot off about the science and the ridiculous premise billions would be spent to retrieve one astronaut when supplies could be sent instead. It’s believable long enough to retrieve the cost of tickets out of your pocket, but buyer’s remorse will eventually settle in. It may fulfill some deep cultural need for humanity to rescue Matt Damon every five years (and make a big production out of it) but I’m quite done with the theme.  I have always found Matt a bit annoying, perhaps because we are of the same generation and I thought he and pal Ben Affleck represented more hype and charm than talent, I am forced to acknowledge that one can’t argue with success. Especially economic success.

This film is tolerable if you disengage your mind and for most of the film there is suspension of disbelief.  But this film just goes overboard in the “this guy is so darn special” department.  The crew of the Hermes doesn’t even blink an eye at the prospect of spending billions of dollars to retrieve Matt Damon’s character, Ryan, ehrr,..Mark Watney, even at the risk of two crew members getting court marshaled, after all, it’s for Matt. and as the lone Latino astronaut said: “He’d do it for me.”  Yeah, right. They might jettison some rations and supplies, and catch him on the next go, but risk billions and commit mutiny? Hmmm.  But reality doesn’t make a romantic film, and that’s the problem, the science is really the star of this film, but it’s short-circuited by the sappy and at times contrived story line. The part where Matt spontaneously develops body sores before his ascension was almost pandering and a tad contrived.  One of a few face-palm worthy moments.

There is one little acting bright note to this film, and that’s character Rich Pummel, played by Donald Glover, he played a small part, a quirky young scientist that helped do the math that would enable NASA to do the rescue mission.  He was funny and reminded me of some of the quirkier characters I met while working at MIT. I wish they did more with his character and I’m sure we’ll see more of Donald Glover in the future.

 

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Watching Movies

There is an upside to being a caregiver to a parent with memory loss, we get to observe the same film anew every time we watch it. I’m not making fun in any way. I’m a filmmaker and I enjoy when my father picks out new details or will say something unexpected. Personally, I can watch a film a dozen times if I like it. Observe the delivery of a line in a new light, captions on, captions off. Catch a nuance, a color choice…When does the sound start? Why the delay? What makes that joke funny? Why does this make me sad? Who cast this shit? I believe everything happens for a reason. People on the outside don’t see the inner richness of my life because they are keeping score by their standards, and it makes no sense to explain.

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Empire strikes out.

I love this show, and it pains me to write anything negative about it. #‎Empire‬ is just a show for some, but not for many, myself included. It really tore down some glass ceilings, walls, floors and closets for some. But the latest episode, WT…, are they trying to fulfill every stereotype of gays and gay relationships with Jamal? At best the show seems to pander to a disapproving audience. Whoops! Time to make him straight. Bring in Alicia Keys, that’ll do it.

Don’t undo the progress made. Let the middle son be himself without having to be anything for anyone. Maybe I just, if only for an hour a week would like to see someone who is just..content with himself without having to shoulder the world’s insecurities based on who he is bedding. If people tired of the gay theme, maybe it had to do with the tropes of promiscuity, unfaithfulness and drama the writers thought would be interesting, but weren’t. Or maybe it could have been the utter lack of chemistry between him and his partners or their lack of a story line involvement.

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Facebook’s Subtle Manipulation of News Optics

If you weren’t paying attention, you missed the latest subtle way your news optics is controlled by Facebook on your news feed. Look at the screen capture below and you will notice that the editors of Facebook (And I’m sure they’ll say the algorithm did it) now distills the top news story. Notice this news summary can’t be disputed or commented upon?

In this case the topic has to do with Donald Trump’s 12 point decline in the polls. The editors say it has to do with his comments after the Paris attacks. Is that a fact? If it is we must assume that other blunders he made during that time had no affect on his numbers. During that period he encouraged supporters to assault a Black #BlackLivesMatter protester (and subsequently Black Lives Matters protesters were shot at a Minneapolis protest by white supremacists) Trump was on a roll,  during that period he publicly mocked  a handicapped journalist, gave details on his plans to have all Muslims register in a database, and promised to create a Deportation Force to expel 11 million illegal immigrants and  their American children. Such big talk from such a little man…but Facebook says it’s his comments on the Paris atrocities that account for his decline.

So, Facebook has lifted a page from the playbook of Rupert Murdoch and FoxNews aka Newscorp and gone from showing you the news to telling you what the the news is.  I hope everyone is paying attention to this subtle change in the literal optics which social media users have adopted. I would suggest it wasn’t Paris that caused Trump’s fall from disgrace, instead it’s the natural propensity for humans to avoid that which is putrid and repugnant. Even the Republican party can’t avoid the natural human gag reflex. The truth is, Donald Trump is an affront to America’s fundamental core beliefs. The work of a tyrant is like working in a sausage factory…it’s bloody, messy and you have to lie to yourself a lot to get through the day, and it seems that even the Republican party lacks the stomach for that line of work, I hope.

It’s at times like these, when a man of such low ideas can rise to such heights of power that we need journalistic integrity the most.  It’s my hope that people start dumping propaganda machines like FoxNews in favor of getting their news from more impartial news sources across the internet. Then, like worthy citizens decide based on facts. But Facebook is learning from Rupert Murdoch and offering a pre-digested news alternative in their feeds. This is a betrayal of the public trust.  We should all encourage Facebook and the majors to take a more “hands-off” approach to the news or we stand the risk of dumbing down. We will eventually live in the world where someone (or worse, a line of code in an algorithm) will summarize world events and draw conclusions for us without our consent and without our even knowing…until it’s too late.

Vigilance Pays.

Screenshot 2015-11-27 20.49.33

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