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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?


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?


Viktor the Vampire: What Bill Nighy said about Filming Underworld

Starring in a movie as the toughest Vampire elder around sounds like lots of fun. That’s if you can bear the strenuous process of getting into character. Actor Bill Nighy, who plays Viktor in the Underworld series, told BBC that the makeup department spent six hours doing “medieval, terrible things” to make him look like he’s been sleeping for centuries. After contact lenses were added and fangs fitted, nobody on the set would eat lunch with Nighy. Later at Comic-Con, this genre film lover doubted whether he would’ve ever taken the Viktor role if he knew about the prosthetics involved.

V is for Viktor


Given the physical demands of some movie roles, do YOU consider acting to be a sport?

*If you are visiting from the A-to-Z Challenge, my blog post for Letter W will be posted later today.

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