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Thursday
Apr302015

Yes You Can! What Drake, Sports Movies & 94 year-old Track Stars Know About Battling Complacency

“You can still do what you want to do. You gotta trust that shit!” – Drake in ‘Too Much’ (feat. Sampha)

Drake performing "Too Much" from his album NOTHING WAS THE SAME on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.Lyrics in rapper Drake’s song titled ‘Too Much’ (feat. Sampha) remind me of how we tend to live life on autopilot – not necessarily complaining but not really enjoying our days on earth either. It’s as if we’re just going through the motions and basically waiting to die. It’s a said reality that also has me thinking of Benjamin Franklin’s quote about how most people die at 25 but are buried at 75.

The more I learn about American history and that of the world at large, the more I start to think that people from generations past seem to be much more resilient and ambitious than those of us living in today’s time, despite the fact that they had less resources than the luxuries we enjoy now. What happened to modern-day women and men? Why are so many of us quick and content to just throw our hands up and be asleep at the wheel on the highway of life? I recently watched a TV news report about a 94 year-old man named George ‘Scotty’ Scott, competing in the Penn Relays – the longest running race in the world. He ran with men and women between 75 and 98 years-old!

When the newscaster interviewed George following the Master’s Men’s 75+ 100m dash, he said “I just do the best I can.” Chances are, however, that only a few among the rest of us go to bed every night with the same amount of satisfaction for how we spent our day. Complacency is a choice that prevents far too many people from living up to their full potential. Each day we are lucky to receive on this earth is an opportunity for us to create the kind of lives that we can look back on and smile.

Hilary Swank as Maggie in MILLION DOLLAR BABY.If you ever feel like you’re stuck on a bumpy road that doesn’t line up with your abilities, values and passions, know that you don’t have to sit back, grin and bear it. Anything in life is possible if you believe in yourself enough to try.

That goes for aspirations big and small across the board such as traveling, home ownership, starting a family, landing some type of dream gig, fitness training, healthy eating, learning sign language, teaching Yoga or whatever floats your boat. An underprivileged waitress named Maggie believed that, with the proper training, she could become one of the world’s most boxing champs, in the sport drama film Million Dollar Baby starring Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman and Clint Eastwood. Despite having no moral support from home – even being ridiculed by her own mother – Maggie still put her best foot forward.

A teenage boy named Daniel ‘Rudy’ Ruettiger pushed himself to the limits in the pursuit of playing football for Notre Dame, in the biographical drama Rudy starring Sean Astin and Jon Favreau. He was too short and surrounded by people who had very little expectations of him and of themselves, yet, that this not deter him from shooting for the moon. Maggie and Rudy share the common thread that is an unrelenting quest for all that life has to offer beyond the limitations that society and/or their circumstances place on them. Deep down, they trusted themselves in having what it takes to give life their best shot.

Y is for YouAlthough the results of Maggie’s and Rudy’s efforts may not have turned out exactly as these two bold characters had in mind, they still preferred these journeys over the alternative of growing old with regrets, wondering what could have been. Drake wasn’t lying – you CAN do what you want, go where you want and be who you want in life. Just like those 90 year-olds at the Penn Relays, Maggie in Million Dollar Baby and the main character in Rudy, you just have to trust that you have what it takes and then do your very best to make that happen.

Does watching sports movies motivate YOU in any way?

Are YOU the master of your own destiny?

Wednesday
Apr292015

The Xanax of My TBR Pile: Companion Books to Spike Lee Joints!

Jeff Balsmeyer's storyboard from Do the Right Thing: A Spike Lee Joint; companion book to the Universal Pictures film.Popping a Xanax -- the miracle chill pill for symptoms of stress and anxiety -- will dissolve all your worries, according to NYMAG. Although I’m no medical expert, I would argue that listening to music is also an effective alternative solution for those of us trying to get out of the funky mood we find ourselves dealing with from time to time. Speaking of alternative remedies, reading books can be just as beneficial to combatting periods of stress and anxiety, as music.

Besides being cheaper than Xanax, books last longer and have more user-friendly side effects. This is one of the reasons why I look forward to each title in my (growing) TBR pile, such as books written by famous director Spike Lee; chronicling what it took to get a number of his films including She’s Gotta Have It, School Daze and Malcolm X off the ground. I’m currently working my way through one of them and enjoy Lee’s journal entries about how the movie characters were developed, viewing pages from the storyboards for a major scene and learning about the impact that making his film(s) had on actors.

  • Spike Lee’s Gotta Have It: Inside Guerilla Filmmaking (1987)
  • Uplift the Race: The Construction of School Dace (1988)
  • Do the Right Thing: A Spike Lee Joint (1989)
  • Mo’ Better Blues (1990)
  • By Any Means Necessary: The Trials and Tribulations of Making Malcolm X (1993)

At times on this blog, I’ve been clear about my frustrations with the experiences I’ve had so far pursuing a career in the film industry. Sometimes just the mere thought of going through the stages of production budgets, casting, location scouting, post-production, etc. again makes me want to hurl. That’s not to even mention the uncertainty that comes when a movie is in the can and there’s another uphill battle of distribution, promotion and all that comes with getting people to watch it. So, I have a good feeling that reading the companion books to Spike Lee joints will help me take a step back to understand that every single film production comes with its own sets of challenges.

Something borrowed...For some reason when I read about other people’s movie making journey, especially someone as accomplished as Spike Lee, there’s a new sense of excitement for how they put a film together out of ideas in their heads and legal pad scribblings.

Suddenly, movies don’t seem too far out of reach and are fascinating again like they once were before I was logging hours of video footage into a cohesive document for the editing stage, and sitting in empty movie theaters.

Thanks to people like Spike Lee who pull back the curtains on show business from time to time, I have a good reminder that movies -- although a grueling undertaking from start to finish – are a powerful medium when treated as such. So the next time I’m feeling bad about filmmaking and the many challenges that come with this path, it’s nice to know there’s relief at the library or bookstores like Barnes and Noble rather than the nearest pharmacy.

X is for Xanax

 

How many books are in YOUR TBR pile?

Regardless of genre, what movie would YOU recommend to cure stress and anxiety?

Tuesday
Apr282015

When Your Way Ain’t Working…

Photo by Chetan MenariaIt’s time to figure out a new game plan. During a TV comedy special, Corey Holcomb tells women “if you’re 35 and still don’t have anybody special…I want you to know you’re way ain’t working!” -- or something along these lines. No matter what anyone thinks about him or his jokes, the same sentiment can be applied to goals or any area of life that leaves you unsatisfied.

Since we are all responsible for our own matters, it only makes sense to look at these areas and identify how we’re contributing to the discontent in one place or another. That’s not to say third-parties or outside forces don’t have an impact on whatever the issue is at hand, but the fact of the matter is that nobody else is responsible for our happiness or unhappiness – especially when it comes to what we want out of life.

If you we don’t like something about your current circumstances, we must ask ourselves whether we’re doing anything to change it or make improvements that are in our best interest. If the answer is no, now is the time to figure out whether our habits, beliefs and behaviors are either helping or hurting a particular situation or outcome. For example, I wanted to be a director but this film thing doesn’t seem to be working. So these days, television has become a more appealing pursuit because it still affords me the opportunity to obtain my original objective, just in a different way. Writing screenplays for film may continue to be a constant part of the picture but I doubt that I’ll be itching to produce or direct them anytime soon unless something really strikes a chord with me.

However, this play on Holcomb’s “Your way ain’t working” isn’t just about big goals or dreams. It’s as simple as deciding what state your everyday health and well-being (mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically) will be in. If you’re tired all of the time, perhaps it would help you to start being more active, stop watching TV at night or modifying your diet to include energy boosting nutrients. If you have an attitude or anger issues, the maybe some changes to your environment and/or the people within them might bring some pleasant results. If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, then do something….anything….that gets you out of the same ol’ rut.

W is for WorkingWe all have one life to live and the same 24 hours in a day. Make the limited time you have count for something. Live boldly. Live out loud. Live the life of your dreams by taking control of the wheel and steering it in the direction that you want to go. Don’t just float by and take whatever is handed to you, because there are many people who would kill to be in your shoes because they recognize huge advantages in even the simplest of things that you take for granted.

If you’re not where you thought you would be today or where you wanted to be today, only you have the power to change that. Just don’t repeat the same patterns that got you in this predicament. As the saying goes, old habits die hard. I know this all too well. Being stuck in your ways has the illusion of a safe haven and it’s wrought with fear and excuses. Yes, it’s familiar. Yes, it’s comfortable. Yes, it’s easier. But you’ve been there and done that already. How has that worked out for you so far?!

Are YOU a creature of habit or do YOU like to try new things?

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