Thursday, June 12, 2008

Okay, I'm in Seattle. I'm here for the Seattle Film festival. My movie, "Letting Go of God" is in the festival. It plays tomorrow night at 6:30 and on Sunday at 4:00.

For the next few days - until Sunday at least, I guess, my trailer for the film is up on the Seattle Film Festival website.

It's a hard slog - first you have to go to siff.com, (EDIT THAT it's SIFF.net) then find my movie - look under the Friday schedule - then go to the trailer. they will want you to download some software to watch it. Then it lurches through it - so I suggest you let that happen and then start it over to watch it. Of course, this is so much effort, it is for the die hard interested person. But I am telling you - go look at it! I am so happy about how the trailer came out. After this, I'm not going to have the trailer available until the DVD is ready to sell, which will be around Sept. 15th. But I am optimistic about how the trailer may help the movie get exposure. ...as they say. See how my lingo is so "biz" nified. ha.

Anyway, I'll try to post while I'm here to keep you up to date on how it's going. I just spent time in the hospitality suite with my producer, Maria. Lots of good appetizers in there! And interesting people. It's fun to be here.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

I just got back from a really quick trip to New York. I was the keynote speaker at a Cancer Day event in Great Neck, New York. Thankfully, I am fully recovered from my terrible cold and my ears were cooperating on the assent and descent of each flight.

The coordinator of the cancer day event, who was lovely and made it all very easy for me, is a Hilary Clinton supporter. We spoke about her speech today – which I only saw in bits and pieces. I still wish Obama would have her run with him as the vice presidential nominee. And not just because it would make a funny show. There was something so genuine and hard working about her speech, about her campaign overall – it transcended everything I was previously angry about. Call me mercurial, that’s how I feel. For now, at least.

Also I watched Kathy Griffin on Larry King last night in my hotel room. She is a friend of mine, and I really do like her a lot, even though I think her comedy is not always so… well, kind. But ohmygod she was so DAMN funny on Larry King last night. She was running circles around him. I think they are going to re-air it on Sunday night.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Yesterday I pitched a TV pilot at a studio. And as I was leaving the lot, I thought, “I want Hilary to be Vice President.” Why? Because it would be such a funnier show!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Come on! Hilary? Cute and ardent, sincere and conniving, smart and studious – and then her sidekick Bill coming in from the kitchen? He would get the biggest laughs. Obama constantly frustrated by them and Michelle hating Hilary but having to act nice. This show is a hit! Not half as good of a show as if Wes Clark were the VP.

I actually have been feeling better about Hilary lately. I think I have defensive feelings for her when she is down. I actually do admire her. I liked how much fun she was having in Puerto Rico campaigning. She said it was the most fun she’s had since the race started and I believed her. I do think it’s weird that she is suspending her campaign. That is odd. What is she going to get out of that? It seems very withholding-ish to me.

Wednesday night Mulan and I saw Aimee Mann perform at Amoeba on Sunset. I got her new CD. It’s really worth buying. I also saw Sam Phillips – coincidentally, serendipitously, at Borders performing one hour after Aimee. I liked seeing her too – and I got her new CD as well. Not as good though, I have to say. Maybe it will grow on me.

The trailer is done! I don’t know when it’ll be out there, but at least we finished it.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

This topic is too broad. I’ve been meandering between topics and writing late at night. Not always bad, but now this conversation is too wishy-washy and vague for me to even follow (and I’m referring to my own post!)

So far it’s about favors done with expectations in mind, it’s about political and/or power maneuvering for good or ill results, it’s about places where people of very different views can interact. And in spite of the fear that this post will continue the broadness of the topic, I have one thing to say about each of these ideas.

1.) I understand that we all interact with each other, personally and professionally, expecting that the favors we receive or give are part of a big exchange that will net us better off. I agree with Norma, when it is overly pre-meditated or specific to one favor or act it becomes artless and distasteful. The people who are the best at it either do it instinctively and unconsciously or they are keeping in mind the larger picture. Which means: if they lend this band saw to their fellow church member, they may not get that exact person to give them a favor back – but in the long run, probably, someone will. This is where this idea intersects with religion. (Yes Norma, you got it.) I thought that all my good will would be rewarded by God. I was nice because I thought some big guy in the sky was watching. I didn’t need someone to be nice back, because I guess I thought the payoff was in the afterlife. I think I’m still nice, but now I have to rethink everything. Why am I? Because I want to? Why do I want to? I think in general “being nice” (whatever that really means) pays off. It has for me I think, in tangible ways. In any case, this is something I have been mulling over ever since I lost my faith in God and let go of the idea of ultimate justice or ultimate reward. Recently Michael said to me, “Maybe you aren’t so nice. Maybe you’re just a pushover.” I was so floored. I think he might be right.

2.) On the political front, yes. This tendency of ours to maneuver our resources to gain power has yielded good and bad results. Probably mostly progress. Well, maybe. One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is water in Los Angeles. I only recently began to read about Mulholland and the Los Angeles water wars and the draining of the Owens valley so that L.A. could have water. Why did Mulholland do it? Why did the city officials do it? Was it ultimately the right thing? As I said to Michael recently, “Everything I know about water in Los Angeles comes from seeing ‘Chinatown.’” Jeez. And I’ve lived here for over twenty years. Now I want to know all the grizzly details. While I paddle around in my swimming pool. And the sprinklers water the grass so I can luxuriate in it after my swim.

On political maneuvering - a personal anecdote: I remember once when I was performing at the Groundlings and the executives from Saturday Night Live were scouting the place for new talent. And one of the other Groundling actors said to me with a smirk, “I’m sure you'll do well, Julia. You really know how to work the political system around here.” I was so shocked. I didn’t think of it that way. I just thought I was doing the best job I could, hanging out with the more talented performers because I liked them more. But now I look back and think I was so unaware of my behavior. If I had to do it over, I would have probably been MORE political instead of insisting to myself that I wasn’t and didn’t care and that this was beneath me. I think I am in a state of arrested development in this area. Later on, once I was aware of my ambition (however meek it was comparatively) my actions were awkward and patently obvious. I wasn’t that good at it. I wish I were better, and I want to get better at this.

3.) On the topic of places where people of different views can interact: I loved Sheldon’s post about living in central California in between conservatives and liberals. I think I would probably feel exactly the same way! I have problems with both of those ideologies. I recommend that you read this month’s issue of Wired which talks about organic food (among many other things) and making truly good choices. Often the organic choice is the worst one – it was shipped from far away, for example. When conventionally grown produce that was grown locally has a lower carbon footprint. The only thing I have to say about this is that I probably do live in proximity to a lot of people with very different views from my own. On my own block I think there are several more conservative families, but I just don’t ever talk to them about politics. Or actually, anything. It is true that I avoid conversations about politics with people I disagree with – in general. I wish I were more comfortable with it. Well, I guess I did "Letting Go of God." I guess that's how I can be confrontational, on a stage where I can have my say!
All day, when I haven’t been working, writing my pilot, I’ve been turning over this idea in my mind about doing favors for people expressly so that they will do favors for you in the future. And even though I know, yes, I know this is the reason we are social creatures at all, even though this is – at least – the unconscious understanding between people when one does a favor for another, (I am not so polyannish as to deny that) but still, I’m telling you, IT CREEPS ME OUT TO THINK OF IT LIKE THAT.

I was so thankful for the comment about not doing things for people unless you wanted to and not expecting anything in return. I do feel I am like that. I think I am like that. I don’t want to NOT be like that. I hope I am like that.

I was thinking today about how that’s what commerce is, that’s what money is. Our way of making sure we get what we expect to get. I mean, that’s not about community. But still, it’s in this range of ideas I’m mulling over.

I know this is all too broad a topic. And I don’t even have that much to add to it. But after I wrote the last post, I thought – the example of the Seattle Film Society friends is just one example in my life. Of course you must have known that. But I didn’t want to elevate that example, nor denigrate it. I appreciated the comments about a church being a place where people of similar common interests reside. That is true too.

But I will say that the only Republicans I know – almost – are from Spokane, and they are people I grew up with. Not all of them, thankfully only a few of them. The Catholic Church there is probably the place where I would come across people with very different worldviews and different political views than myself. It would be a place where I would have to bowl with other people who did not share my views.

I will get that book, “Bowling Alone.” I also heard an interview with an author of a book called “The Big Sort,” which is out now too and I think its dealing with the same topic. A phrase I heard from the “Big Sort” author that resonated with me was, “as we surround ourselves with others who have similar opinions and worldviews, it’s good for individuals, but not so much for the larger community.”

But jeez. Even though I wanted to move to Spokane for a long time, that doesn’t mean I want to spend my time arguing with conservative Republicans. That seems like such a time suck. It’s so boring! I would rather argue about the finer details of something else – not those nauseatingly simple ideas that I find myself arguing about with these people. I would probably find other people in Spokane more like me and hang out with them.

But this is what I’m turning over in my mind now. How much does awareness influence your behavior in this realm we are discussing?

In some ways, maybe it’s good. Awareness makes a person smarter; you understand the complexities of human exchange – whether social or economic. On the other hand, doesn’t it sort of ruin it? Isn’t it better for the band saw to be offered with no expectations for a return favor? But if a person does this, is this person just being na├»ve and childlike? But then, doesn’t awareness of this make you somehow, a little bit even… conniving?

I just listened to a part of a radio show today on KCRW called “In The Biz” or something like that. It is about show business. It’s a good show. Two authors were being interviewed on the show about a book they wrote for aspiring movie, movie, movie what? I guess movie power-people. And it was about how to work the “assistant” job in Hollywood so as not to be a sucker and to use the job to gain power and influence. They had a thing about how you could tell if you were a “career assistant” (which in their view is a fate worse than death.) One of the ways you could tell if you were going nowhere was if you had the urge to buy cupcakes for someone’s birthday; a person was of lower status or equal status to yourself. They derisively laughed at that idea.

Oh my god, I would never have made it in Hollywood.

Except, I kind of did.

At least to me, I did. But I swear, I never did stuff to get ahead. I was not ambitious in a strategizing kind of way. If I even became aware that I was, or should be, it never felt right.

You could say that this is why I spent an hour tonight with a guy who is cutting my movie trailer practically for free in his off hours. Then I drove home home underneath several two-story-high movie ads for Mike Myers' new movie. And I’m not saying that Mike Myers was more ambitious – well, he was definitely more ambitious – but… I’m not saying that people who are enormously successful are conniving. Not at all. In fact I know several very successful people that... wait, do I? Hmmm...

But I do seriously wonder if they are just smarter and more at ease with human social exchange than I am, and more comfortable with what it takes or something.

Oh god, this sounds like I’m a sad sack. I am not. I feel great. I like my career, I would not chose any other career for myself. I'm proud of my work and I am proud of my life in general, too. There is no wishing it had gone differently. Not every day is so rosey, but I will admit that just today, I had a feeling come over me. I was as happy as I thought it was humanly possible to get. I worked on my pilot, I took my daughter to gymnastics, I worked on the trailer edit, I’m married to a guy that is so much kinder, smarter and funnier than I would have ever dared to hope for. Life is awesome.

But listening to that radio interview today, coupled with the conversation we seem to be having here, it just made me think about this whole idea of exchange. Being in social groups where exchange is expected and looked for. Not just of ideas (which doesn’t bother me for some reason) – but of services.

I have a friend who joined a business group. They were meeting every week and then using each other’s contacts to enhance their business. It was so creepy to me! I mean, who were those other people? How good could their recommendations be when they met the person at a business promoters-gathering.

I thought of another tangential thing and then it’s the end of my rambling.

I have an old friend who came to my house once (I have lived in the same place for sixteen years now) and she said, “Great piece of property!”

I couldn’t stop thinking about that for almost a year. I made jokes in my head about it all the time. “Great piece of property Sweet Great piece of Property” “Great Piece of Property is Where the Heart Is” “Toto, I just want to go to my Great Piece of Property.”

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The band saw effect.

Wow. What a great comment (on my last blog entry.) I have been thinking about it all morning. I think I did understand that, but had forgotten the whole concept. It made me think about my own personality too – and how much that does not resonate with me. What I mean is, when I first read that, my initial thought was: It’s going to cost so much more than $600 for that band saw! You are going to have to be this person’s friend now and they are going to ask you to their next barbecue and then when you go -- when you really don’t want to go --you will have the further frustration that this band saw-person thinks they did YOU a favor by inviting you to the BBQ! When you NEVER wanted to go in the first place. Now you are in a relationship with this person and you will have to hear about this and that and they are going to start sucking your blood and you will eventually be trying to avoid eye contact with this person when you go to church and then even what you got from church is now compromised by this crazy band saw person!

And then I thought, what a horrible person I am. And then it sent me down this rabbit hole of thinking – like what am I? Someone who doesn’t need anybody? I mean, that is really not true. I do need other people. But I think, for me – maybe because how I was raised, but maybe just because of my innate personality, I don’t know, but for me, people always wanted me to do things for them. I saw people, generally, as weak and me as strong (I don't know if that is really true, but it's my knee jerk reaction) and I was always worried about what they were going to expect from me. When I went to college, I wanted to go where I didn’t know anyone. I wanted to go to the biggest college I could. I wanted to walk around all day long and not know one single soul. And I did, and for a couple of years, I often had two or three days a week when I was on campus and didn’t talk to anyone. I felt like a I was in Rome or Paris, I could just watch people.

But then I became good friends with a group – because I wanted to, because I probably needed to. They were great, they are all still good friends. I joined the Seattle Film Society and worked with the organizers who all became close to me, in fact several of them were at my wedding a few weeks ago. And we do things for each other – read scripts, see shows and comment on them. Jim Emerson, one of these people and one of my closest friends, has often been such a person-with-a-band-saw for me – in terms of his opinion on work that I’m doing. When I think of the band saw analogy – I think what I mostly need in a pinch, that is very expensive because it’s so rare – is someone, someone who I respect’s -- opinion. Those people are few. They would not necessarily be found at a church, although they certainly could be.

So, I guess what I’m saying is, it’s really the group. It’s the church group. It’s those people I have a basic problem with. And yet that seems so arrogant to write. I feel that it sounds superior and that is embarrassing to me. And I’m sure that all those people at church have other groups of people too that they use to find band saws when needed and also enjoy because they have a common interest.

I guess that’s it. A common interest. I don’t think it’s enough for me, the random gathering of people at a church.

Often people ask my why I’m not a Unitarian – because you can be part of a church and not have to believe in God. But when they say that, I think, “I already have too much to do! I am not looking for another social group to be part of! I am trying to be in fewer social groups.”

I am such a curmudgeon! But I think for me, what I got out of Catholicism, what made it hard for me to leave, what added value to my life was… well to be honest, it was the art of it. It worked for me the way good art is supposed to work. It took me out of my little self and put me in context. The image I get is not of individuals, but of a whole community – the way, for example, Who Ville is portrayed in The Grinch. I liked the feeling of being in community where the faces were blurred but there was a sense of humanity, I liked the music (Bach masses still send me tears and throw me out of myself, it’s almost as if a crane shot is built into every Bach mass) I liked the ritual.

But now I get that from other places.

But, but, but… What about kids? Like that Catholic woman on the plane said, she didn’t join a church until she had kids. Why? She didn’t need a support group of families before then. She is attempting to make the world a smaller and more recognizable place for her children, and for her, being Catholic delivers that.

For me, well, I guess I must admit that I understand that. I have a group of parents that I am friends with. One family in particular that I can count on in an emergency. Other families too. We met because our children all attend the same school. We see each other like a church too – the science fair, the international fair, the winter concert, etc.

So I guess I’m thinking, why can’t that woman get what she needs from the school system? Or in her quilting group? Or her skydiving group? Or at the local art museum. Why does it have to be at a place where you are required to sit through a bunch of complete bullshit and inculcate hogwash into your children’s worldview, crippling them as critical thinkers for their whole life!

All right. I’ll calm down. Ha. Wow, I got so fired up there.

p.s. I re-spelled Kluge correctly in the last post. How embarrassing!