Thursday, January 28, 2016

Best Original Screenplay

My image board-made this in 2011

Wow! Before I start thanking everyone, let me just say this - image boards work! (audience chuckles). Secondly, all you bloggers out there, persevere, keep writing. Even if I never ended up standing here tonight, my blog was always a place to go to express myself. It is a creative adventure that has fed me for years...and that alone is worth the effort to keep it going. Some people paint or sing or dance - I blog.

This screenplay would never have manifested without the characters in the story and since this is a true story, I want to thank all of you, especially my sweet daughter and my Mick for filling my life with the only thing that matters - love. (camera pans to Steve and Emma sitting next to each other in the audience-they are smiling and I make tear-filled eye contact with them). 

Thank you John Madden, your genius direction made my story unfold truthfully and grateful you "got" me. Thank you to Drew Barrymore for recognizing a love story that needed to be told. Thank you to the awesome cast - Rachel, Bruce, Richard - all of you! Thank you to the Academy for voting with your heart.

And last but not least, I thank the great poet Rumi whose words lifted me through my most difficult days and pushed me to face my fears and follow my intuition and listen to my gut. "Gamble everything for love or leave this gathering.  There is some kiss we want with our whole lives." 

That was fun. Have you ever imagined your acceptance speech if you won an Oscar? This is the first time I ever actually wrote it down. 

Now I need to write the damn screenplay. 

Right after I figure out what I am going to wear to the ceremony. 


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Be like Casey

Not all "aha" moments are minor epiphanies. At least that has been my experience. It's great when they are, but yesterday I had one that was more like a kick in the gut or a slap in the face or more accurately the "holy fuck, I just noticed a grey pubic hair" moment.

So I have spent the last few days watching the Australian Open tennis and as much as I love tennis, watching the pros is always a reminder that I am no longer twenty-something or thirty-something or even forty-something and I am never going to hoist a trophy before the throngs and cameras at Rod Laver Stadium or Wimbledon or even my local tennis club. Those days are behind me. I will keep playing until my body won't allow it anymore and that is a good thing and I will make the occasional  shot that gives me a glimpse of what could have been but I will never be the subject of a wikipedia page citing my career hi-lights and stats and details of my personal life that I likely would prefer remain private.

Now, I am a realist and I am well aware that even if I had grown up with parents who had pushed me, or parents who were rich enough to hire coaches and send me to training camps, or parents who even noticed that I was a wee bit athletic and encouraged me I still may not have succeeded like thousands of other hopeful young athletes, but I often do imagine..."what if"? This is not a blaming or shaming thing either. Who knows? Even if they had cracked that whip, maybe I would have rebelled and said screw you, I don't want to work that hard. I would rather hang with my friends and smoke cigarettes behind the school gym. It takes more than just a push from mummsie and poppsie to turn out a star athlete. The kid has to want it too. It's easy to look back and think would've could've, should've, but as the saying goes, "don't look back, you're not going that way".

These are not thoughts I tend to dwell on. I accept that it is too late in life to turn tennis into a career and am happy to be able to still play doubles with the ladies 2-3 times a week. It's fun. It's social and it gets my body moving. Sometimes it moves parts of my body beyond what is comfortable and I wince or limp around for a few days, but that comes with the territory. Heal and get on with it. The alternative of not playing anymore is more painful as it is always a great spirit booster as well.

Enough about tennis. Back to the "aha" moment. I suppose it may have been even more impactful because of the young tennis players in my aging face all weekend but this is what happened. I was scrolling through my FB feed and came across a video of a couple of young dudes who decided to take advantage of the snow in Manhattan to make a video of themselves being towed through the streets by a rope attached to an SUV on snowboards. This is the sort of youthful shenanigan that "old" people might scoff at as dangerous or foolish or irresponsible but I thought it was brilliant. 

The clip had already been viewed by over 27 million people. Of course it had. It was Casey Neistat. If you don't know Casey by now, you will one day. It is inevitable. Until yesterday, my knowledge of Casey was limited. I had heard him interviewed by one of my other favourite success stories, Rich Roll and I followed him on Instagram, but this latest video made me dig a bit deeper. Who the hell was this guy anyway? As I sat on my sofa, reading through his Wikipedia profile, awestruck by his achievements in his life thus far (he is 34), now I was really impressed. I thought he was just some other "one hit wonder internet sensation", but now I see how wrong I was. This is a guy who dropped out of school at 15, lived in a trailer park, on welfare with his girlfriend and their son from 17-20 and then all that changed when he moved to NYC. He has worked as a dishwasher, a short order cook and a bike messenger. Now he has over a million YouTube subscribers, is co-founder of a social media company called Beme, is a film director, film producer and Vlogger. Geez Casey, maybe you should get a life. 

And that is when I had my "grey pubic hair" moment. Fuck. I have been sitting on the sidelines my whole life. This is how it is done. This is the kind of creative fearlessness I have always wished I possessed. (I know, I do possess it, I just need to utilize it) This "just do it" energy that Casey oozes - that is da bomb! This guy is idolized by millions who wish to be more like him but fear holds them back. His followers on Twitter and Instagram seem to worship him. They can't wait for his next move. What will Casey wow us with today? What crazy comment or video or stunt will he hit the Internet world with tomorrow? He does not hold back. As ridiculous or useless as his ideas may seem, he throws it as us and who cares if it bombs? Tomorrow is another day and he ain't looking back. He just keeps moving forward. And that is what it is all about. So many of us get mired down in the 'what ifs?" and it paralyzes us.

So, forget about Bill. Bill is boring.

Be fearless. Be like Casey.

Better still. Be the you that is lurking and always has been.

Enjoy this video...Casey at his best!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Put on Your Red Shoes

I once served a guy a draught beer at a bar I worked at in my twenties and when I set the frothy cold glass down in front of him he gave me an unusually wide smile and held his face in that position like a mad man clearly trying to get my attention. I was slightly unnerved by his behaviour and then he ran his tongue over the tooth to the right of his two front teeth and said, "you, me, Cher and David Bowie". That's when the light came on and I realized he was referring to our "fangs".  Not exactly a fang, but a slightly crooked, protruding tooth that the four of us shared. I thought it was great that he took such a positive approach to our common flaw. Shit, if Cher and Bowie with all their money never bothered to fix their fangs, maybe it was kind of cool after all. 

Somehow knowing that even David Bowie likely got food caught in his "fang" (soft white bread comes to mind), created some sort of weird kinship between me and him thereafter. I had always liked his music, we shared the same initials and he was a Capricorn just like me, always appearing on all those "fellow Capricorn" lists that seem to pop up all the time. He probably even knew that he had to face cameras in a certain way to avoid accentuating the imperfect tooth. As I scrolled through countless photos on line of him today, I noticed that depending on the angle, his teeth either looked nearly perfect or the "fang" stood out like dog's balls. I noticed that in later photos it seems to have disappeared completely so it looks like he eventually did have it fixed (hmmm, maybe it's not too late for me either).

That however is really only a silly lead in to what I want to say today which is how profoundly sad I am that he has passed. I am no doubt not alone with these feelings and I bet there are few Bowie fans out there today who are not spinning some of his old records today. Before I sat down to write this, I did a private little tribute dance in my living room which conjured up soooo many memories of days gone by that my brain could barely slow up enough to really drink in each past moment. Bouncing up the aisle at work, dance floors all across Canada, cleaning my apartment on a Saturday afternoon, sober, drunk, you name it, I was moving my body.

I was reminded in a Facebook message from my dear old friend Heather how we loved Let's Dance, a song that we heard nearly every shift we worked together at the old Hargrave Exchange. It was on the reel to reel tape that played over and over night after night. I recall there was some criticism of Bowie going "all disco" with that song, but I loved it anyway and it always made me want to do exactly! If I was beginning to slump half way through a busy night, that song could pick me up like no other, even if I wasn't wearing red shoes.

His music has always been able to stir me emotionally. When I hear him sing Under Pressure with Freddie Mercury and he sings that last verse, something inside me feels like it is going to burst out of my chest. When music and lyrics can impact you like that, it's powerful and meaningful and important. It's art. It's poetry as therapy. 

Just as his music is loved by millions, the sadness of his death will be felt by millions more. 

So, today as he passes from Ashes to Ashes, barely making it to his Golden Years, his Fame illuminated brighter than ever, take a moment, pay tribute and listen to Heroes or Modern Love or Fashion or Changes or China Girl or Rebel Rebel - pick any song and LET'S DANCE!