When you see it…

It occurs to me that there is a lot I don’t know about the world. I will freely admit this. I will often ask questions of people who don’t want to form answers, because they know things I don’t. I want to learn. I want to experience. I don’t have the means to do everything I might possibly want to accomplish, but I have the resources to learn about them.

There’s a lot out there. The most genius among us as humans have not experienced everything there is to life. 

So the question is, what is out there that I want to do? So far, with what I know, and what I have seen, somehow, that list is still rather small. I don’t have a Bucket List, and at my age, maybe I should.

But what I have learned is that life is the experience. The expectation implied by a to-do list is just an illusion. Life does what life wants. Sometimes the best experiences you don’t see coming until they are at your doorstep and opening the door (because maybe they aren’t always the most polite of guests.) Words and plans are insubstantial, just dreams in the mind. Life is something you don’t know until you see it.

Right now, I have the rare opportunity to seek out my own adventures with my time. I’m not entirely sure I know what to do with it. But I’m going to try. And first up is volunteering in my community, with that very first training day tomorrow. So we shall see how it goes.

 That’s life! Little adventures, learning, exploring, sharing, helping, doing. The collection of stories to tell instead of merely the telling of them.

Secrets from the world of Hollyweird

Funfacts of the day:
1) Actors are often paid to wear designer attire to Red Carpet events. They essentially rent the dresses and agree to promote the designers when the press stick microphones in their faces and ask excitedly “Who are you wearing?” The dresses they wear don’t always reflect their ability or willingness to buy them, merely to wear them. They are showing off someone else’s work, someone else’s brand, and they are mutually raising each other’s  status.

2) Actors are essentially walking advertisements, just as sports stars are. Ya know the world famous sporty Wheaties boxes? Yeah, the athletes get paid for those. You know the logos on NASCAR drivers’ cars and jumpsuits? They get paid for those. They are mutually raising each other’s status by even momentarily aligning their names together. THAT is HOW they make their money. Actors are business-people, just like athletes are business-people, and that is why both have managers. (Hint: most businesses ALSO have managers!)

3) Do you watch sports? Then you watch actual commercials. That is also advertising. Advertising is how networks make their money. That is how shows make their money: the shows exist as a way to make people watch commercials, shows are a way to sell products, services, and –gasp– also elections. The shows make money for production because the networks can sell ad time. “But what about Game of Thrones and Westworld?” you ask. Those shows sell the networks, not the advertisements. The networks create demand for themselves by promoting (advertising) their flagship shows. People flock to subscribe to the networks because of the shows they host, ergo the network makes money and increases in value and the money goes into the shows to make them better and draw more subscription fees. It’s how TV works.

4) Every public televised event is –double-gasp! – scripted in some form. How and why? Because they have to know where to fit in the commercials. Sports events have a schedule that somebody has to map out, and yes, I mean that Live Hockey Game You Are Watching Right Now has a producer and a camera team and a planned order of comments, commentary topics, endorsements and camera angles. Ya know, the announcer saying “This Play of the Game brought to you by Chryforandi Widgets! Meeting all your widget needs without the tears!” counts as an advertisement and gets the scriptwriter who thought it up paid.

5) Reality TV is also scripted. Like, really scripted, just not ahead of filming. The way it works is that the camera crews follow their subjects around for the designated amount of time, then the footage is filtered through by some underpaid just-above-intern-status editor/writers. Then the editor/writers have to figure out the plot of their subjects’ lives after those lives have been recorded. They get to pick out any single sentence they choose and build an entire story around it, then go through some ridiculous number of hours’ worth of footage to find the snippets and sound bites that match that story. Then! They write up the interview questions that their subjects will be asked as followup to further feed that story. It doesn’t have to be true, it just has to be suggested and validated with footage. It’s a soundbite, with the context changed.

6) You know those political pundits and talking heads on FOX News, The Blaze, CNN, MSNBC, etc… most of them read from scripts. They argue with their guests on pre-selected topics that are along particular points and couched between bits of script. Pre-written lines are fit into the conversations to keep their guests on the topic the show’s producers planned for. Your nightly news is delivered to you by a human reading from a TelePrompTer of sorts, and the majority of the news is not material written by them. It was written by -or at least in conjunction with- somebody else. Which, effectively, makes your favorite television journalist actually an actor. They are a sports commentator reporting on the game they are watching with you, or they are a journalist bringing to you a segment written and produced by another journalist, everyone involved fully educated in the nuances of their craft as journalists before they present the information to you. (Bonus: all of these shows and their networks are ALSO funded by advertising!)

7) So. You have every element of Hollywood storytelling, from Actors to Writers to Cameramen to Editors to Interns to Craftsmen to Stuntmen, etc. in every little tiny thing you watch on tv or movies or listen to broadcasted on the radio. (Note how everything seems to get back to somebody selling something?)

8) Short of going out to the woods and never listening to a radio or tv or computer or Smartphone, you are constantly influenced by biased and filtered and scripted media in some form. There is literally no way to not be exposed to someone else’s way of thinking when it comes to a media source. You can’t actually only or never get your news from “mainstream media” because the influence of media is too broad; every scrap of anything ever reported on is influenced by some other form of media and the filtered perspective it offers. EVERY. SINGLE. SOURCE.

 (Disclaimer in point: This post right here is filtered by the bias of my education and experience of life, and it is also a reflection of media. Funny how that works.)
9) That is why writers, journalists, and yes, even actors, study the subjects they write about or otherwise present to people. They research. They become informed so that they can share knowledge. They spend time on the ground, “in the trenches”, learning about what issues impact whatever singular question or character they are looking to present to the public who are otherwise unaware of its existence. It’s not a myth that actors research roles, it is a common thing. Acting isn’t JUST memorizing lines. Acting is portraying a human being in all of its complexities, making their views and beliefs evident on the screen when perhaps the script doesn’t spell it out directly. That means understanding that character’s viewpoint and experience beyond the script page the writers presented to them. Writers research before and during writing a script and then actors research before and during their portrayal for an audience. 

10) Actors are not stupid people. They are informed and they are open-minded and they are observant. And, funfact, they aren’t all liberals. They aren’t all rich and famous. There are more actors in LA alone than can ever make it on screen, but not many of them will ever act in anything other than the community theater stages. It takes work to find out about roles to audition for, it takes networking and social skills to enter into a community run by money and the style that makes it. It takes determination to show up to audition after audition and deliver Oscar-worthy performances to a panel of people who won’t like you because, I don’t know, maybe your eyes are brown instead of blue. (Who knows, maybe blue eyes sell cereal better.) 

And assuming they do like you, you are that one person out of the thousands of faces they looked at for that character, you then show up on set for 8 to 12 to 17 hour work-days, reciting lines, making up clever additions to a scene that the script doesn’t show, doing physically demanding work either on-set pacing for scene after scene or stunts that involve sweat and blood-sacrifice. It takes smarts and savvy and intelligence to beat a numbers game using the human-element of the Hollywood business equation. 

11) Actors work very hard, and a very small percentage can make a career out of it. But they are, from start to finish, salesmen and saleswomen. They are the same as every blue-collar American who worked hard, made their name known, pulled themselves up by those mythical bootstraps, and earned the money that built them the lives they enjoy.  Not every store makes it into the status of a retail giant, but look at those humble beginnings of the Walton family’s fortune. It’s the same for actors. They start somewhere and they work to attain where they end up. They start in tiny dingy apartments in the worst parts of big cities or they start couch surfing on a family member’s couch, or they start out playing high school varsity and catch the right attention of the right person at the right time. That’s life. 

12) Money is not status. Money is numbers. Money isn’t a product of luck unless you were born into it, and then it takes work to keep what you were given. It takes knowledge and savvy to know where to put it to make it grow, when to risk it and when to protect it. 

13) Status is a product of work. Work does not guarantee money. That’s life. Work likely does, however, give a clue about status. Because status has to be earned, and earning anything takes work. 

14) Actions show work. The actions someone takes are the truest story they tell. There is no physical movement that can be a lie: either the muscle moved or it did not, yes or no, ones and zeroes. It sells or it doesn’t, it works or it doesn’t. The moves you make are how you get things done and also the actual things you do

15) Along the way, one becomes known by their works, their actions, (such as an actor, who acts) and that is status. This is why aligning an athlete with a cereal box is supposed to sell the cereal; it creates the assumption that the athlete achieved his success by eating that cereal.  At the same time, it creates the assumption that the athlete became well known because their face is on a cereal box and thus everyone recognizes them on their sports field. The consumer likes the athlete so the consumer will like the cereal, and viceversa.  If you like the NASCAR driver’s skills, then you will like the company emblazoned on the car’s hood. If you like the product, you will expect to like the driver. Skill and effectiveness become synonymous with person and position both, and expected with the alignment. When those expectations are met, the viewer is rewarded for their belief in the match between person and position, the match is rewarded by public appeal and an individual’s success. Status grows with exposure and experience. Status is a reflection of respect.

So it’s important to note, someone who shows respect will be respected. Someone who does not show respect is likely not worth respecting. It will not be status borne by their actions and it will not be portrayed in the actions they make, which makes it false.

Just some random thoughts I opted to share… enjoy!

Dreaming isn’t good enough.

Dreaming isn’t good enough. You have to have a plan that is actionable and works. You have to rely on a foundation in reality that will allow you to recognize how the world actually works, how to make ideas and reality match up. You have to believe in the validity and possibility in your fellow human beings, regardless of color, gender, religion, or any conceived label or category you can put them in. You have to believe in free bridges between places, safe traffic and necessary services to maintain a healthy population.

Walls do not show faith or capability or intelligence or understanding. The ideas need to back up the dreams.

So, as the saying goes, I didn’t vote for him, but that’s the President, and I hope for the sake of my country that he does a good job.

Word of the Day: Veneration

veneration

“The triumphant softball coach was treated with all the veneration of a movie star for days following the big game.”

 

Venerationnoun

1) to regard with reverential respect.

2) adore, revere, reverence, worship.

 

~per Merriam-Webster

 

Word of the Day: Kindred

kindredspirits

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Kindredadj.

: of a like nature or character.

~per Merriam-Webster

Word of the Day: Nook

As it happens, I like my Nook and wish I had a nook to read it in! Although I generally do more writing on my Nook than reading.

 

nook-hd

“With a Nook for company, I curled up in the breakfast nook to read in the sunshine.”

 

Nooknoun

1) an interior angle or corner formed usually by two walls.
2) a sheltered or hidden place.
3) a usually recessed section of a larger room.

~per Merriam-Webster

Writerly things – Reference sources

Lately I’ve been on a sci-fi/urban fantasy kick.  And by lately, I really mean the past few years.  It just sort of showed up and then decided to stay.  Accordingly, I’ve found a few sources to help me along as I’m plodding through my writing projects.  I’m sure they’re supposed to be for more intelligent, academic pursuits, but they certainly suit my purpose for chasing potential muse-rabbits down their plot-holes.

 

The Medieval Bestiary is exactly what it says it is.  And it has some fun graphics.  The site itself is a bit out of date, but it’s dealing in old lore and folktales so the information isn’t terribly likely to have changed too much since it was put up.  Everything sources back and usually has neat quotes from ancient texts, just in case you don’t like their summaries.

 

Encyclopedia Mythica is a bit more straightforward and less graphically-inclined than the Medieval Bestiary.  It’s set up like a wiki. In my poking around between the two, the Mythica seems to cover a broader range of topics.  It includes an option to check their references but it doesn’t have the same handy quotes right there on the entry page.

 

And then there’s WolframAlpha, which is a cool little quick-fact generator.  Type in a topic and it will do a breakdown of the information for you.  For example, type in the name of a city and it will return with a page full of stats and demographic information and random facts useful toward the goal of writing about them.  Very user-friendly, rather like Google.

 

A friendly warning:  All of these pages are rather easy to get lost in, just like tvtropes.org, tumblr, or urban dictionary.  One search leads to another which leads to another and before you know it you’ve lost an hour to looking up if bears really pee in the woods or if that’s just a fairy-inspired wives-tale.

 

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