April 18th, 2004


Everything's made to be broken

I told someone today that something I wrote was not about me. I realized a few minutes later that that means that it isn't good. All good writing, indeed all good art, is autobiographical in a fundemental way. It doesn't necessarily have to be about actual events from your life, but the best characters and scenarios are ones that resonate deeply with the author. Even if a story is about something that actually happened the selective and stylized presentation of facts tells us something very important about the author of the text. If it's any good. This is what differentiates art from things like journalism or textbook writing. It's the externalization of the internal that makes things meaningful. The line is a blurred one and there is grey area but good writing is about channeling some part of yourself and mixing it with other elements on the page. I saw parts of a Mike Binder movie today and I can't figure out why this guy has (or had?) a career. He's like Woody Allen without the talent. A short schlubby Jew? who regularly puts his character with beautiful intelligent women who he has absolutely no chemistry with. Of course unlike vintage Allen Binder doesn't have the surprise and neuroticism about why these women are with him. Binder also doesn't have anything funny or deep to say. He's had two movies (both of which featured him with Mariel Hemmingway of all people) and a TV series on HBO. He is the definition of the artist who does NOT write autobiographically even when he names his characters after himself and has them act in ways analogous to how one would expect him to act in real life. They come off as fake and stilted. They aren't from his core. Maybe I'm wrong here and he just plain sucks.

I still have a ton of work to do and I'm not doing a good job of getting to it. I played hours of Fight Night yesterday morning, my boxer knocking out a bunch of palookas in 2-3 rounds as I try to learn the controls. I think it left me feeling empty and depressed. The thing is that none of this school stuff feels remotely important to me except the film, which is quickly turning into something of a boondoggle just because it takes so long to get things to look good.

I think I will get the school stuff done. I have a little under 3 weeks left and 4 project to turn in. That's a big deal, especially when you know how much of my grades those projects account for. The film paper will be pretty quick but getting the film finished will be a PITA. The history paper is not going to be too rough since it's just comparing two books and I could realistically do it WELL in a single weekend if I had to. That leaves the first ammendment and policy papers as the only real issues. I've done SOME reading in the first ammendment paper and I bought a book that ought to be really good for it. I was reading it this weekend but I started reading about kids who got to work with video cameras when they were super young and I got jealous and all kinds of cognitive dissonance so I had to put it down. Yeah I know it's stupid but whatever. I think I can get that paper done, although I will be asking for an extension on it.

The policy paper is the real threat. I have to do research on that one and then write it. I am doing incredibly well in the class right now but it's all about this final paper. Fortunately it's on a subject my mom knows a ton about so I will probably use her to help guide my research and thus cut down on the actual searching time.

I should be able to get it all done (I've done it before with much less time) but there's no motivation at the moment. What I care about is writing and film. I can't afford to fail though. I need to get into the second major program to get my film degree. I'll just have to suck it up and get it done.

On the other hand...

Maybe I shouldn't go straight back to school. Maybe I should actually like look for a job, either one in an industry I am interested in or just a day job, move the hell out of my house and make an effort to get a life. I fear that going right back to school may have some sort of infantalizing effect on me. I'm not sure what to do. I feel like I want to have certain experiences now and I don't know if school is the best place to have them. Certain is probably the wrong word here, I can't think of anything specific I want to do but I know that I want to do something. The main problem is that lots of stuff that people do just holds no interest for me. I don't think I could ever have fun in a bar or club, I'm not in shape to join a biking or hiking club (that would actually be enjoyable) and I'm already en route to taking classes in stuff that interests me so that should be fine.

Last night we finished primary shooting for the Film Noir segment of our little film. It took about 2 and a half hours and it was fun although I got tired by the end and wanted to leave because it was really late and I was aching from carrying the camera and tripod all over. We got some good footage and though it won't look anything like a Hollywood film it should look decently nice. I hate the way I look on camera, at least in that lighting, but that's to be expected.

I have decided that I need to write shorter , clearer, and more focused stuff. That's the only way my writing will really improve and since it's something that doesn't come naturally to me it should also provide a nice challenge. I'm not sure if this journal is the best place to do that since I set it up not only as a place to hone my writing skills to a razor edge (right now I'd put them at the approximate sharpness of a Mackeral; the intestiny bits not the teeth or anything) but also to express my innermost thoughts and feelings, which are a swirly mess of unfocused angst and loathing.

After we shot our mini movie we went to the corner chinese food place to get something to eat. It was around 11:30 PM and the place was pretty empty when we arrived, though it filled up to about a quarter capacity afterwards. While we were there Frank and his girlfriend took it upon themselves to mock the waiters. I was mortified by this behavior. A few of them were eating their dinners during the downtime and they ate like people who had been working all day, which is to say fairly quickly and without much regard to American style decorum. Some of the jokes they cracked were okay (one of the waiters was eating some chicken soup while our waiter told us that there was no more chicken soup available so they joked that the guy had three chickens in his soup, which was why there weren't any left) and some were startlingly inappropriate (jokes about Asian accents and customs, some of which picked on the WRONG Asian accents) and made me very uncomfortable. I didn't say anything directly because they are both about a decade older than I, but my blushing face and demeanor gave me away. I was also worried that the waitstaff would crap in our food. I got a chicken sandwich. By the end of the meal Marissa was feeling ill, and when I woke up this morning I had a sore throat and headache which have lasted all day. Perhaps for our servers revenge was a dish best served contaminated.

I am feeling down on myself again, my confidence ebbing and flowing like Oprah's waistline. Creating writing or art or any other form of cultural expression is such a self-important act. It's saying that you are capable of being part of the meaning of life, rather than merely its mechanism. People consume food to stay alive. They go to doctors to stay alive. They have shelter to stay alive (and avoid skin cancer). People read books, listen to music, and watch films to make themselves happy or learn something (I'm talking about good stuff now, not the sort of crap that people use to waste time, which is the equivalent of junky old magazines in the waiting room for death), in other words for the things that give their lives meaning. I'm not saying that food and shelter can't have a big meaning component, I mean certainly they do, but they also have back-up functions as well. If a building isn't great to look at or think about at least it keeps the rain out. If a book isn't worth reading then it isn't worth anything.

How can I proclaim myself worthy to be a creator of things that enrich life without prolonging it? I'm a fucking schlub. I'm not even a fucking schlub since I've never fucked. I'm just a schlub.

Jerry Seinfeld left his college graduation to do his first standup gig. 5-6 years later he took off after Carson. Larry David isn't even on the list of 100 greatest standups ever, and there are plenty of hosers on that list, like Gallagher or Andrew "Dice" Clay ("A misogynistic idiot walks into a bar with a brilliant neurotic Jew" should be the start of a joke with a lousy punchline)
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