Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bikers Shouldn't Have It Both Ways!

Lately I've been getting pretty annoyed with people on bicycles, because I think they're taking advantage of their own mobility - in an inconsiderate way. Here's the thing: I usually share the road with three or four people riding bikes on a daily basis and what pisses me off is that they want to act like both a pedestrian and a moving vehicle. I say they shouldn't be able to have it both ways.

Call me a bikest if you want, but I just think they need to choose what they want to be and stick with their choice. For example, they shouldn't be able to ride beside of me on the road and then use the cross walks (as a pedestrian) to make turns, as opposed to following street rules. Does that make any sense? It's law in Georgia that a a driver must stop for pedestrians crossing at crosswalks. But when I see a biker hop on the crosswalk, I think it should be fair game.

H1N1 & Flu Info

I read a fantastic blog from the Freakonomics blog at the New York Times web site. I include everything here as well as the link to the Emory Screening Algorithm which helps you determine if you might have the flu.

From Stephen Dubner's blog:

November 10, 2009, 10:03 am
On the Prevalance of H1N1
By Stephen J. Dubner

In Seattle recently, I met a pulmonologist who said that the H1N1 virus has him busier than he’s ever been, his hospital beds full of flu patients. The uptick hit particularly hard about 10 days ago, he said.

How has the flu been playing out across the country?

Craig Feied, the physician and technologist we write about in SuperFreakonomics (yes, we’ll run a virtual book club session with him soon; he’s in Chapter 2), sent along the following data picture. “Some doctor,” he writes, “made in a few seconds using Amalga.” That’s the hospital software system that Feied and Mark Smith developed at Washington (D.C.) Hospital Center, and which was later acquired by Microsoft.

Here’s Feied’s commentary on the picture:

For anybody who wonders how much “hype” there is in the H1N1 story, here is an Amalga-created graph of flu seasons in Washington, D.C. from 2002 to 2009.

ILI stands for “Influenza-Like-Illness,” meaning that this includes everybody who shows up at the hospital primarily for symptoms of flu (there’s no attempt to confirm the diagnosis of influenza with specific tests, so this likely includes some people with the “common cold” and people with pneumonia or other respiratory infections).

For each year, January 1 is at the left side of the screen and December 31 is at the right. Historically, the “flu season” has a small bump in the fall, with the serious spike usually beginning early in January and extending into the beginning of March.

It’s instantly apparent that this year is unprecedented in recent history. Long before the typical spike season we are already seeing more cases than we’ve ever seen — and presumably the worst is yet to come.

It’s possible, of course, that some of the surge was caused by patients who wouldn’t have gone to an E.R. but for the media “hype,” as Feied puts it, about H1N1.

To that end, Feied offers another data tool: the the Emory screening algorithm — a self-assessed flu survey “to help people decide when it’s time to go to the E.D.,” he says, “versus when they can safely stay home. As this problem reaches disaster proportions, emergency departments and physician offices will need all the help they can get.”

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Philosophical Happiness

Last week while I was in Memphis, I was talking to a friend of mine about happiness. I told him how I always found it kind of amazing that there seemed to be certain people who can shape their world, kind of creating their own reality and maintain a certain amount of happiness in their lives.

For instance, I used to work with a woman who always seemed happy – despite stressors that existed in the office, difficulties she might be experiencing with her kids, unstable romantic relationships and so forth. Regardless of the external strains and pressures on her life, she seemed to carry this sense of constant happiness. (Everyone in the office pretty much thought she was crazy.) Now don’t get me wrong, she got upset about certain things but always recovered pretty quickly. She also had this uncanny ability to turn an unexpected or disappointing result into a result that she decided was probably the better choice anyway. I’ve met several people who are able to do that with outcomes (flip the unwanted result into the better overall result before the affects are realized) and I’ve always found them very intriguing. For some reason, I think men possess and practice this ability more so than women.

Anyway, my friend, Chris, told me about a TED talk he had recently seen about happiness and it was similar to what I was describing. He forwarded me the link. The talk is excellent and the term that describes what I'm talking about is "synthetic happiness." It’s definitely worth the 20 minutes of watching.

While I find the talk philosophically interesting, I don’t know if I completely buy his premise. I think he makes a couple of huge leaps with his conclusions, resulting in fallacious arguments.

For example, his argument about people being happier with fewer options. I don’t know if I truly buy that or not. While someone may have an easier time making a decision between two things verses five things, I don’t think that necessarily translates into happiness. I guess one could argue that the simpler things are, the easier it is to be happy, but again, I just think that’s a huge leap. To me, it makes too many assumptions, the main one being that we are all equal – in the ways we contemplate, seek and achieve happiness. In reality, I don’t think we are all modeled or wired the same way to achieve happiness.

For me, I think I personally have such high expectations for myself that I'm often let down when I fall short. In an order to pull me out of my self-inflicted funk, others tell me that my expectations are too high and if they had achieved what I have, that they'd be ecstatic, and so forth. When I hear that, it doesn't really do much for me, except maybe question that person's own self expectations and wonder if s/he might be a slacker. I know that is a wrong and unfair assumption, which I later discredit, but I'm being honest here. I think it's because I don't believe that synthetic happiness is as good as achieved happiness. It's the whole fake thing that gets me. I don't know how to do it and talk myself into believing it without feeling like a fake, a fraud and a sellout.

Maybe there's more truth in Dan Gilbert's argument but it'd be more about the limited knowledge. For example, if my knowledge is limited, then I have no idea about everything available to me - to help me achieve happiness. The problem is everyone's amount of knowledge is vastly different. A dog is happy because his world is limited, he doesn't have to worry about death and making a difference in the world and performing at his optimal level of dogness. I guess an argument can be made that there are limits within our world and applying the same philosophy should result in the same outcome, but it doesn't make a sound argument.

More thoughts later.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Today totally blew!

Today has been one of those days where everything seems to go wrong and I end up going a bit crazy because I don't seem to be getting enough oxygen to my brain. Seriously.

I don't know how I'm ever gonna be able to sit back and enjoy life when I keep thinking things should be one way and they're not. I know this sounds absurd and is probably an indication I should be locked in the looney bin, but nonetheless, it's real. Now, note the difference here, I do know there are things I cannot control - that's not my problem. My problem is still wanting them and/or outcomes to be different - this is where the insanity comes into play. So, basically, I cognitively know what my problem is and my limitations but I still get mad anyway. WTF?!

I think the office I work in is contributing to my insanity. First of all, we have no windows to look out of - we're basically dropped into the middle of an art gallery. Now, I like the gallery and the space itself, but it's just not a healthy and pleasant working environment. The gallery changes exhibits every few months and each time they have to do major construction (moving walls, hanging things, etc) and since we're placed in the middle of the gallery, we hear every bit of it, like it's right next door....oh, wait, it is next door. Clients on the phone can hear it too - it's very frustrating. But, a new exhibit is in place and we should be construction free for several more weeks.

Secondly, being a nonprofit totally sucks sometimes. Like most nonprofits, we're always looking for much needed resources (human and fiscal). Our computers are old and we have to piece things together and then things break. It's so inefficient to try and work on old technology. You'd think that with us being a media arts organization, we'd have new technology - Au Contraire, Mon Frere! Today was one of those maddening technology days.

So, tonight I'm gonna try something new - belly dancing. I joined a meetup group and tonight is belly dancing for women. It's only $6 - so I thought I'd give it a shot. I've always liked watching belly dancers and wished I could do it - which IS something in my control. It starts at 7:15pm so I better get scootin'.

Later y'all.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Out Here, On My Own

I saw the movie FAME tonight. Growing up, I used to love the TV show so much. I seriously wanted to grow up and be a dancer on Fame. I did dance in junior high and high school - on the drill team, but (obviously) the Fame thing didn't work out. Anyway, there is a song in the movie that I feel I still relate to. Part of it is performed in the video below.

Here are the lyrics:

Sometimes I wonder
Where I've been
Who I am, do I fit in?
Make-believing is hard alone
Out here, on my own

We're always proving
Who we are
Always reaching
For that rising star
To guide me far
And shine me home
Out here on my own

When I'm down and feeling blue
I close my eyes so I can be with you
Oh, baby, be strong for me
Baby, belong to me
Help me through
Help me need you

Until the morning sun appears
Making light of all my fears
I dry the tears I've never shown
out here on my own

But when I'm down and feeling blue
I close my eyes so I can be with you
Oh, baby, be strong for me
Baby, belong to me
Help me through
Help me need you

Sometimes I wonder
Where I've been
Who I am, do I fit in?
I may not win
But I can't be thrown
Out here on my own
On my own

Sometimes, when I reflect on my life, it's so hard to believe everything that I've lived through. Seriously, I feel I have lived an entire life in half the time. I often feel alone and it's very difficult to get through those moments - especially recently. Trying to find my place in the world again is an ongoing struggle. I often feel like I've been searching for something my whole life and I wonder if I will ever find it. This constant state of searching is often confused with ambition - which I also possess - and trying to separate one from the other is difficult - for me and others. Nonetheless, I keep getting up every morning and keep hoping that one day, I will find what I'm looking for and will be able to hold onto that moment forever.

Not trying to drone on in my self pity and despair, but I do want to share another song with which I identify. It's "What's Up Lonely," by Kelly Clarkson.

The lyrics:
Blue- I'm getting kinda close to you
Like a shadow I can't lose
Hey, you've been hanging with me everyday
Now you're getting in my way

I know you understand me
But don't you think that maybe
It's time to move on

What's Up Lonely
Seems you're my only
friend who wants to share my pain
Tell me heartache
What's it gonna take for you to leave me alone today
Just when I think that you're gone
You're in the mirror looking back at me
So what's up lonely...

I wish you weren't by my side
Can't you find another shoulder, cause I
I wanna leave this broken heart behind
We're both wasting too much time

Find someone else to rain on
I'm really getting tired of singin' this sad song

What's Up Lonely
Seems you're my only
friend who wants to share my pain
Tell me heartache
What's it gonna take for you to leave me alone today
Just when I think that you're gone
You're in the mirror looking back at me
So what's up lonely

Don't wanna give you a reason
to hang around anymore
You won't be hurting my feelings if you find another broken heart you can lean on

Gotta go, gotta move on
Gotta go, gotta move on
Just leave me alone

What's Up Lonely
Seems you're my only
friend who wants to share my pain
Tell me heartache
What's it gonna take for you to leave me alone today
Just when I think that you're gone
You're in the mirror looking back at me
So what's up lonely

Gotta go, gotta move on
Gotta go, gotta move on

What's Up Lonely
Seems you're my only
friend who wants to share my pain
Tell me heartache
What's it gonna take
What's up lonely...

Hopefully sometime in the near future I will be passed this point and the loneliness and heartache will subside. It's technically been two years since Mike and I have lived together. I think I want to start dating: I miss the companionship.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Anger Management

I think I need some sort of anger management classes - although, because I'm super stubborn I'd probably be a horrible student. I know I'd get mad that somebody was telling me how to do something (even though I voluntarily signed up). Not that I can't take direction, I can, sometimes, but the older I get the more difficult it becomes for me to listen to those who haven't been through the crap I have tell me to take deep breaths or count to ten, or whatever. I know that's kind of crazy......but, nonetheless, it's my current behavior. So, I'm probably my own worst enemy right now because I know if I take classes or something, I'm gonna end up getting mad at the instructor and specifically not do what s/he recommends because I don't want anyone telling me what to do.

The thing is, I'm tired of being mad all the time. I want to laugh and smile and play.


If people would just stop pissing me off, I'd be happy. ;) (just kidding)

Friday, September 11, 2009

This December

So, I'm trying to figure out what to do for the holidays this December. The reason it's kind of a big deal is two fold: 1) I will have turned 40 on the 5th of the month and will probably still be crying like a baby, and 2) since Mike and I are getting a divorce, I don't think we should be spending it together.

In April, I bought a one-bedroom condo in midtown Atlanta so it's not like I have tons of space to invite friends and family over. I'm somewhat removed from my immediate family for various reasons, some of which are covered in earlier entries in this blog. So, I've been thinking about alternative ways to spend the holidays. Hmmmm.......

I don't have a lot of money and I don't want to be a burden on anyone. So, that's something I've been thinking about lately.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Just putting this out there......

"This short series of interviews shows unfounded lawsuits from a politicized justice department destroying the careers and lives of state-level Democrats. Was it Karl Rove's plan to undermine the Democratic Party by attacking its support at a local level, away from national scrutiny?"

Part I

Part II

Part III


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Julie & Julia

Go see this movie! I was a bit worried that it might be too corny or sappy, but it wasn't. I've never been a girly-girl, so I tend to shy away from obvious chick-flicks (or just watch them at home) but I decided to bite the bullet on this one and it paid off.

Meryl Streep and Amy Adams were perfect for the roles. I usually like to imagine who else could've played the part but I can't imagine anyone else being able to successfully pull off their roles as skillfully as they did. Nora Ephron has a definite hit on her hands.

I only left with one real question: How did the Julie character (and her hubby) cook and eat all of those meals without becoming fat?!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hope: Reality's Mistress


Just because I want something to be a certain way doesn’t make it so. This, apparently, is a lesson I fail to learn - repeatedly. When a person wants to believe in something, and she gets told things she wants to hear, she would tend to believe that something is true – or it’s gonna happen. However, I have come to this conclusion: Hope is to reality as alcohol is to a body. Hope is delightfully intoxicating - and I'm an addict.

I should listen to my gut so much more than I do. How many times has your gut instinct told you to do/not to do something and you did the opposite? What usually happens when you don’t listen to your gut? Chances are, Hope seduced you but your instincts were right. The problem is, sometimes Hope wins.

Hope is a game of chance. It’s kind of like behavioral modification. To use an overly simplistic example, let’s say you want a child to make her bed every day. Using positive reinforcement, you decide to reward the child using a variable reward method – defined and known only by you (ie: you reward the child at various, inconsistent times, randomly), as opposed to a consistent reward method (ie: every time she makes her bed she gets a reward). Which method do you think is more effective in achieving the goal (her making the bed every day)? People might tend to think that the consistent reward method is more effective because the child can count on it, but studies have shown the opposite. Using a variable reward method creates the unknown, but known – in essence, she knows she will get rewarded just not when. When she is rewarded, it’s much more appreciated and makes a higher impact than with the consistent reward method. Consistency becomes mundane and easy to take advantage of, or for granted. A variable reward method creates hope. Gamblers are all too familiar with it.

I don’t mean to get too far off track. I’m just trying to rationalize behavior – specifically mine. So, picking up where my last blog left off, Mike left me with hope: Hope that he would sell the house and do what was necessary to reunite with his wife. My gut told me not to believe it – that he was telling me what I wanted to hear so I would quit complaining, thereby buying him more time to not change. But hope is so much sexier than reality.

Now, please don’t think that I am beating up on Mike – I’m not. I’m just depicting behavior – his and mine – that has led up to this moment. Mike is a good man. He is harmless and would never purposely hurt me, or anyone I know. He has a good heart and means well. However, he’s an extremely passive personality and only becomes truly active when forced. He’s perfectly content with the way things are in his life. I am an active personality. I need and seek change in my life as my goals, wants and desires evolve. That’s not to say that Mike doesn’t have goals – he does – he’s the most educated person I’ve ever known. He’s currently working on his dissertation for his second PhD – plus he has a bachelor’s degree, law degree, and master’s degree from Georgia Tech. Obviously it takes action to achieve all of that (and probably some level of insanity). The difference is this: it’s singular – it’s for self-edification and doesn’t require much interaction with others.

Sometimes I think Mike is lucky because he doesn’t really have much need for hope. He is one of those people who can live in the moment – think about the future but actually live and appreciate the moment at hand. He’s self-actualized, calm, cool and collective. He’s rational (sometimes to a fault), mostly reasonable, but emotionally arrested. I don’t know if it’s better to be still, like Mike, or active, like me. My mind is always moving, thinking about things that need to be done, things I’d like to do, places I’d like be, people I need to talk to, etc… I try to live in the moment but I’m not nearly as successful as Mike. Because of this, I think I have a need for hope – which puts me at a disadvantage sometimes.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think hope is great at times. It can provide strength and power to get one out of a horrible situation. One of my favorite philosophers, Soren Kierkegaard, claimed: “Hope is passion for what is possible.” Hope has definitely helped me through difficult times in my life, but it has also fallen short. I guess the best rule of thumb is still “moderation in all things.” Let me see how many idioms I can use to try and teach myself a lesson in distinguishing the difference between hope and reality:
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket (I should always make sure I even have the damn eggs)
  • Everything that glitters is not gold
  • Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing (all things are not as they seem, regardless of what I want)
  • If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck
Okay, that’s enough. I’m sure you get the point, even if I don’t want to.

Well, I didn’t exactly impart the message I had intended, but it’s a start. More to come……..stay tuned.

If you want to learn more about conditioning via behavioral modification techniques, click here.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Playing Chicken

Okay, so a friend told me that my previous blog, about my kids leaving, was safe - that I was holding back. It's true. It was safe, but I needed it to be safe, just to be able to get something written down. I knew if I could start with something a little safe, I would be able to progress into less-safe writing.

So, two years ago, I decided to get a place in Atlanta to stay during the work week and drive home to Monroe on the weekends. Even though Monroe is only 50 miles to my office, with Atlanta traffic I was regularly making a 15-20 hour/week commute. I had talked to Mike about moving to Atlanta but he was dead-set against it. I had looked for jobs in and around Monroe but couldn't find anything - anything worth doing, anyway. So, we talked it over and decided it would be best for me to stay in town through the week.

At first, it was very awkward. After going home to Mike every day for a few years, I was "going home" to my little rinky-dink hotel room, that I rented by the month. The place did the job, it had a bed, TV, closet and bathroom, but the hotel smelled a bit like moth balls - or as I liked to describe it, "old people." I rented the hotel for a few months but that eventually got old - going to an old-people-smelling hotel room, with none of my pets, Mike, or any loved ones. I still loved my job but still couldn't stomach the commute. I decided to approach Mike again about the possibility of moving from Monroe into Atlanta. My ammo - renting a studio apartment and signing a one-year lease. Mike argued that if I eventually got tired of my job, I'd come back to Monroe and all would be fine. I told him that the job market in Monroe was not likely to change and even if I did change jobs, it would most likely be for another job located in Atlanta. Well, he decided to take that bet. And like that, the game of Chicken was on. Who would budge first?

I signed a lease on a cute little studio apartment. For furniture, I used Mike's mom's old bed, couch and TV. Basically, I just raided her apartment downstairs and took what I needed to furnish it. Mike really didn't like me taking the furniture (he abhors change) but he also understood that I needed furniture and purchasing new was not an option. I felt much better in the studio, simply for the fact that I had a kitchen (even though I'm not an avid cook) and more squares for my feet. Coming home to an empty place after work was still somewhat difficult though. I used to meet a friend or two for dinner once or twice a week but that got to be a bit costly. I also think Gabe might have felt a little sad for me and started Sunday and/or Thursday night TV watching at his and Trin's house. Dan would go too.

The first few months were the hardest. Mike would drive into Atlanta on occasion, for dinner or a movie, but he didn't like making the drive. (I know. I had the solution for him, too.) Eventually, Mike's drive into Atlanta became much less frequent - once or twice per month, instead of weekly. As the festival became closer and closer, I worked weekends in addition to my regular hours, so my trips to Monroe also decreased. Then, his ventures into the city slowed to once every other month and my hike to Monroe was somewhat similar.

I started to get really angry - for many reasons. I was angry that my husband was completely fine with his wife living elsewhere (especially since he worked from home, so the location shouldn't matter); angry that he made no effort to try and rectify the situation; angry that he wouldn't spend the night when he did make it into Atlanta; angry that he seemed to lose interest in my life (stopped coming to events/parties); and angry that he wasn't angry. I knew that this inadvertent separation was pretty serious. When I expressed my concerns to Mike he brushed them off and assured me that things were fine. I told him I thought we should seek marriage counseling, but he refused. I once again asked him about moving and he told me that he'd give it some thought and we'd talk about it in six months or so. He gave me that one thing I was looking for: Hope.

(This blog is one of a few parts, more to come.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Life without my kids - Not work/movie related

I haven't written a blog entry in quite a while. When I first started writing in this blog I was going to try and keep it just work related. My plans were to use my MySpace blog for my personal blogs, but that didn't really take. I never visit MySpace anymore so I transferred a bunch of my blog entries from there to here several months ago. But then, I felt odd about writing personal stuff here, so I just stopped writing in general. I've missed writing so I decided to allow myself to use this blog for personal entries as well as work-related issues. I think I should denote the entry in some way though in case people don't really give a flying fuck about me personally, but do tend to read my movie reviews or industry thoughts - hence the title. It's quite a lengthy denotation, so I've gotta come up with something simple and effective.

My life has gone through a lot of changes over the past couple of years and I'm finding myself in that place again where it's time to re-evaluate everything. One of the biggest changes was having both of my children leave home. I've been finding it a bit difficult to find my place in the world in again, since my kids are now on their own. I gave birth to my son, Shane, a month before my 18th birthday. Two years later, Shelby was born, and at 20 years old, I had two kids. I was also alone with two kids because I had left my abusive husband.

At the time, I managed my life day to day, depending on my grandparents to help out with childcare while I worked. I didn't think about how unusual my life was or the various and numerous hardships my decisions placed, and were going to place, on my children's lives. I was still just a kid myself. Twenty years later, I look back on those times and find it hard to believe that was me. But, living each day as it came and pushing forward in spite of all the hardships a little bit at a time, I was able to obtain my GED, go to college and finish with an MBA. I am pretty proud of myself for those accomplishments, but my kids also paid the price. Nonetheless, all of this, I did with two kids in the house. My life was nonstop - I was always busy.

Today, I feel like it's just the opposite. Sure, I work all the time, but I rarely feel like I'm moving at any comparable rate of speed compared to three or four years ago, with some sort of tangible benefit awaiting me. Some people tell me that now it's "my time," that I got my kids out of the way early and I'm still young enough to really enjoy my life. The problem is, I don't really know how to do that. I always imagined that I'd go to the gym, get in shape, read, etc... But I don't really do any of that - on a consistent and effective basis anyway. I've had people to care for since I was 17 years old and now I don't. That's hard to deal with sometimes. Sure, the freedom is nice, but all of the other stuff, not so much.

During a recent trip to Las Vegas (Cinevegas), I had dinner with a couple of friends. Both have kids - one with a small child and the other with two tweenagers. They both talked about life with their kids, watching them grow and appreciating their respective daughters for the interesting and unique individuals they're growing into. I didn't mention my kids because mine are already out of the house, with children of their own. Once people discover that my kids have kids, they tend to not know what to say. So, I usually leave it alone. Anyway, that's just one of the many things I'm trying to deal with in my life - just trying to redefine and find my place again.

(I know the grammar and word usage in this entry is pretty bad but I just wanted to get something written down, so please excuse it.)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Amy Ryan's Doppleganger - Lili Taylor

I watched SAY ANYTHING yesterday for the first time - ever! Loved it. One thing I've not been able to get out of my head though is how similar the Corey character looked like Amy Ryan. So, I looked them both up. I couldn't find photos from "back in the day" but I still think they look remarkably similar. What do you think?

Amy Ryan

Lili Taylor

Friday, April 24, 2009

2009 Atlanta Film Festival News Coverage

Here are some clips from the various news sources during the festival.

Channel 2 Action News: http://www.wsbtv.com/video/19241497/index.html

CBS Atlanta: http://www.cbsatlanta.com/video/19237495/index.html?taf=lnta

Michael Ealy on CNN

Rich Robinson on Dave FM


Josh Brolin interview





More to come........

Sunday, March 15, 2009

ATLFF Staff visits SXSW

So, a few of the Atlanta Film Festival staff is on hand at SXSW checking out some films and hanging with some filmmakers that will be coming to Atlanta in April. We thought we'd share some of the excitement and feedback from some of the movies screening in Austin (also showing at the Atlanta Film Festival in April), to give the Atlanta audience a hint at what's coming their way.

Here is a brief interview with "Beeswax" director, Andrew Bujalski, and its leading actress, Tilly Hatcher.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A little video

So, I put together a short little video from our last Avant Garden. Avant Garden is a free monthly social-networking event hosted by The Atlanta Film Festival & The Contemporary Art Center. In February, we thought it might be fun to ask some folks about their favorite movie/star meltdown (a la Christian Bale).

Saturday, February 7, 2009

"Mommy loves you."

I watched the heart-wrenching documentary Dear Zachary last night. Nearly all of my coworkers had already seen it. Some came away angry, others heart-broken. I felt both of these emotions and left the movie thinking tragedies like this most likely happen more than we realize. The heroes of the story are Zachary's grandparents, David and Kathleen Bagby. Following the horrific crimes against their family they successfully fought the Canadian legal system and are making a difference, one little bit at a time.

Before I leave you with the trailer, the one aspect of the film that bothers me is how it might affect Shirley Turner's (the killer) other children. I'm curious to find out about them, if they've seen and what are their thoughts (as this doc was made specifically for their baby brother).

Kurt Kuenne has shown several of his movies at the Atlanta Film Festival, two of which screened last year (2008) - The Phone Book and Slow. We screened Validation in 2007.

All are really good shorts. Validation happens to be on YouTube, it's only 16 minutes:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I just wanted to share some good news about an Atlanta Film Festival alumna filmmaker, Lynn Shelton, who screened her second feature film, My Effortless Brilliance, at our festival last year (2008). Lynn's new film, Humpday, was accepted into Sundance this year and has turned out to be one of the festival's hot films. The film was bought by Magnolia! Go Lynn!

Here are a couple of blog reviews/interviews with Lynn about Humpday:

From IFC Interview: Lynn Shelton on "Humpday" Sunday, January 18, 2009 | 8:24 AM By Alison Willmore

If there were a prize for most outrageous premise at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, Lynn Shelton's "Humpday" would be ahead of the pack. The film follows Ben ("The Puffy Chair"'s Mark Duplass) and Andrew ("The Blair Witch Project"'s Joshua Leonard), two hetero friends who on a drunken night out come up with a plan to shoot themselves having sex with each other as a submission to their local alt-weekly's annual amateur porn festival -- it's art, you see, and neither is willing to be the one to back down when sobered up the next day. For now, though, "Humpday" will have to settle for being Sundance's early buzz film, its mix of squirmingly uncomfortable comedy, painfully realistic dialogue and bittersweet exploration of the ins and outs of male friendship and adult relationships winning the love of audiences and potential distributors alike. I sat down with the Seattle-based Shelton, fresh off a meeting with one of the latter, to talk about homemade porn and best bromance.
(read more)

From Spout Blog HUMPDAY: Interview with Lynn Shelton
by Karina Longworth

We’re almost 48 hours into the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, and Humpday seems to be the biggest break-out hit thus far — and according to Mike Jones at Variety, it could very well soon become the first narrative film to sell during the duration of this year’s festival. Days before the film had its hugely successful Friday afternoon premiere, we published one of our preview interviews with director Lynn Shelton. Last night, post-unveiling, I caught up with Shelton to talk about working like Mike Leigh, her cinematic interest in dudes, and why she’s glad her first two films didn’t premiere at Sundance.
(read more)

Click here to read Karina's review of Humpday

(PS: My current profile photo was taken by Lynn Shelton at the Indie Memphis Film Festival in October 2008)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Please Vote For Me - on GPTV

Last night, well more like very early this morning, I was flipping through the channels when I ran across this documentary titled, "Please Vote For Me." It was on Georgia Public Broadcasting, as part of the Independent Lens series.

The documentary follows around three grade school children in China, each of whom are running for class monitor. Remember, China is a Communist country - representative democracy (voting for someone to represent you) is not something with which they have experience. It's quite amazing the strategies these children employ and how invested they, and their families, become in this election. It's definitely worth the watch if you get the chance. To find your local PBS station and its TV schedule, click here.

Here is the trailer:

Sunday, January 11, 2009

My take on Revolutionary Road and marriage

Have you ever wondered what kind of life the Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio characters would've had if he hadn't died in Titanic? Well, Revolutionary Road provides one scenario. In fact, in this "what if" version, even the Kathy Bates character remains in their lives - there is a bit of a cast reunion in this film. I think Leonardo has finally developed a man's frame, whereas he was still boyish looking in Titanic and didn't quite match up with Kate's womanly curves. This pairing was much more plausible.

"Love is temporary insanity curable by marriage." - Ambrose Bierce

I read several reviews that didn't paint too favorable a picture of the movie. Nonetheless, I've never been one to let a critic keep me from seeing a flick, especially if it's by a director I like, like Sam Mendes. My favorite movie of his is American Beauty. There are some similarities in these two movies: "Hopeless emptiness" in and surrounding marriage. Revolutionary Road is much darker and gloomier, but I'm thinking that is because it's mainly set in an earlier time, sometime in the mid-fifties.

At first glance, the story looks like one of maybe a mismatched couple who argue a lot, got married too young, and can't realize alternatives exist from their tormented, suffocating relationship. The viewer feels uncomfortable and just wants the arguing to stop. You can't help imagining yourself in the situation and the choice(s) you'd make. To me, Choice is one of the main themes in the movie, and the main focus of this blog post.

"All our final decisions are made in a state of mind that is not going to last.” - Marcel Proust

Marriage. Definitely an institution one enters into by choice (hopefully). You make the decision as an individual, part of which you seemingly lose upon entry. No longer do all of the decisions you make just affect you, a lot also affects your spouse. Hopefully, in healthy relationships, decisions that affect the couple are made together, each given equal amount of weight. But what happens if one has more control or makes decisions without the other's consent and it directly impacts the other person? A lot of that happens in this movie, some of which I think is due to the time period (mid-fifties, women were homemakers, men were the breadwinners and decision makers). What if one feels controlled by the relationship? It's sort of a suffocating feeling - no room to breathe and be yourself. Panic can set in and a slippery slope of bad feelings, emotions, thoughts and action take over. Not fun!

“The one who loves the least, controls the relationship.” - Dr. Robert Anthony

Kate Winslet's character, April Wheeler, is a stay-at-home mother of two. She is a knockout compared to other wives and married to a handsome and successful man, Frank Wheeler. The Wheelers are the ideal couple in the neighborhood. The neighbors look longingly upon the couple, never suspecting what might be going on behind closed doors. April gave up her dream of being an actress once she became pregnant, married and moved into a quaint house in a quaint neighborhood. Furniture was bought, drapes were hung, one child came, then another. Day in, day out, same thing, over and over and over again. This had become April's life.

Likewise, Frank was underemployed and also in a rut. He took the train to work, sat, smoked and complained about "the machine" with his buddies. Bound by his responsibilities, Frank felt hopeless. April felt empty. Neither were happy. I don't think they were in love with each other anymore, but they also didn't wish the other any harm. They were more in habit than in love. Habits of hopeless emptiness created a need that only something external of themselves (individually and as a couple) could fulfill, some kind of something that lets them feel - truly feel - human, desired, sexual, autonomous.

“A thought, even a possibility, can shatter and transform us” - Friedrich Nietzsche

For a moment, hope meets that need. The couple decide to move to Paris. With enough money to support themselves for six months, they'll be able to find a place to live and settle into their new, exciting lives - the lives each of them has always wanted. Frank would study, or write, or do whatever he wanted. April would work - something she ached to do. During this hopeful time everything seemed better. Smiling happened daily. The couple shared hugs, touches, made love and had spontaneous passionate sex in the kitchen. This hopefulness, however, was short lived. Within a few weeks, April discovers she's pregnant and Frank gets offered a promotion. Choices have presented themselves and decisions have to be made, life-altering decisions.

What follows are actions both feel compelled to do. Each make independent decisions that directly affect each other's lives. I will stop here as to not spoil the movie for those who have not seen it.

“Life is never easy for those who dream.” - Robert James Waller

Marriage is difficult. Creating a strong and solid marriage while also trying to retain one's sense of self is tricky business. I don't know the secret to a strong successful marriage, but I do know what not to do.

1. Don't try to control anyone other than yourself. Doing so is a waste of time and your partner will resent you. In the end, you cannot control other people's behavior but you can control your reaction to their behavior.

2. Practice the Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

3. Don't try to change your partner into your idea of him or her. Accept your partner for who she, or he, is. It's more than likely that your partner is exactly the same as when you entered the relationship. What may have changed is your idea of what you want in a partner. Trying to change your partner into something he or she is not will destroy both of you, and your relationship. Accept that your expectations may have changed and act accordingly. If your partner has in fact changed, then accept that and decide on how to proceed.

4. Don't lose your sense of self. Remember that your partner fell in love with you, not with what he wanted you to change into after marriage (or, at least I hope this isn't the case), and vice versa.

5. Don't expect your partner to behave badly.

6. Don't allow things to fester.

7. Don't depend on your partner to make you happy. You are responsible for your own happiness. When you're happy, your partner will want to share in that happiness, creating even more happiness.

8. Don't focus on the negative. If problems exist, seek to solve them. If they cannot be resolved, decide if you can live with it or not and act accordingly.

9. Don't lose yourself. If you feel as though you are giving up much of who you are just to stay in the relationship, then it might be time reevaluate.

10. Don't forget that you always have a choice, in every situation.

I'd like to recommend a book: Viktor Frankl's ,
Man's Search for Meaning. Frankl, a physician by trade, was a concentration camp survivor and never forgot that he had choices, even if it was as simple as to how he reacted to being beaten by Nazis. I know closing this blog with that book recommendation sounds very depressing, but it's actually not a depressing book. It's one of courage and strength.

Thickburger Commercial Challenge following Burger King model

Have you seen the commercial advertising Hardees' new Thickburger? It looks like this:

The commercial then asks the viewer if she thinks she can do a better job making Thickburger's next commercial and directs her to the web site. However, instead of letting the viewer actually create a true commercial for it and upload it, Hardees gives the user a space for a word or two of text and prefilled music selections. You change their existing commercial with "your" choices. Given a set amount of materials to work with, to me, this sounds more like "Have it your way" with our ingredients commercial.

Here is a link to my master creation: http://www.hardees.com/promotions/adgenerator/

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Deadline to submit your film is Friday, Jan 9th!

The Atlanta Film Festival's Final Submission Deadline is this Friday January 9th

5 Reasons to submit to Atlanta:

1. Others curate, we discover: Nearly 90% of the Atlanta Film Festival's official 2008 selections came from Withoutabox submissions.

2. Pink Peach Award - Committed to supporting LGBT filmmakers and films.

3. One of 2 dozen Academy Award Qualifying festivals in the United States. 2002 Best Live Action Short winner The Accountant qualified at the 2001 Atlanta Film Festival.

4. ATL Parties and Southern Hospitality

5. Nationally Respected Festival

"Great feature and shorts programming. An intimate festival...in the center of a dynamic city." - Rachel Goslins, Variety

"Best Film Festival," Creative Loafing, Sunday Paper, Atlanta Magazine, 10Best.com

"A must for movie buffs, this festival serves a feast of narrative driven movies, shorts, documentaries, and animation." --Atlanta Magazine

"The Atlanta Film Festival's Opening Night guarantees great film and a hip indie crowd" --Atlantan Magazine, "Arts and Power Issue"

Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/atlantafilmfest

Visit our website: www.AtlantaFilmFestival.com

Monday, January 5, 2009


So, I watched WRISTCUTTERS on-Demand last night. It screened at Sundance in 2006 and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. It's a nice bizarre and kind of funny movie. I recommend it. If you have Comcast, it's free on-demand right now. Below is the trailer.

Then, today at work, we got into a debate about which way you're actually supposed to cut if you're going to "slit your wrists." Do you cut straight across the wrist or do you cut vertically, down the forearm. Two people said the latter, I argued that is was the former because you would want to get your artery, and it would be very difficult to get your artery cutting longways. After looking on the internet, there are arguments made for both. All of this was purely academic, of course.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Boy In The Striped Pajamas

I saw this last night. It was very good but painful to watch. It's totally worth seeing.