Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Poetry attempt 1: apparently successful.

As a person who puts a substantial amount of stock in rhetoric and eloquence, I have always striven to improve my skills at the written and spoken word. I even nurture a profound hope, (or delusion, depending on perceptive,) that my skills have matured to such a degree that I can create a tapestry of words which people will find perhaps marginally as interesting and profound as I do. I am my own best critic, after all. However, at some point there comes that moment of rather profound apprehension:

Is my work actually any good? Or am I so out of touch, so personally biased, that my own lofty opinions of my work is in fact a polar opposite of reality?

One can only labor under such a soporific notion for so long. Some writers turn to alcohol. Some turn to travels. Some turn to just going bat-shit crazy, (I'm looking at you, Orson Scott Card.) But some look to test their work in the public eye, for personal vindication more than anything else.

So I printed off one of my favorite works: a short poem entitled "A Toast," which is only the first part of four in a larger comprehensive work of poetry.

After informing perhaps a dozen literary-inclined friends, (of whom only one showed up, but the bar was full anyway, so fuck YOU guys :),) I rehearsed once briefly in the car ride towards my maiden poetry stage: open poetry night at Lydias.

I was rather surprised by scope and scale of the entire enterprise. I must admit that my expectations were rather modest; perhaps four or so tables and a handful of poems read as background noise to a quiet Sunday pint. I really should learn to be more optimistic. The event was large, organized, exuberant, and had real production value!

The other poets read some fantastic original pieces: poems of note included a passionate monologue from Kermit the Frog as he leaves Miss Piggy, and a truly epic prank played on some gold miners up in northern Canada. One truly memorable performance came from a girl who talked about overcoming emotional abuse and learning to trust again. While she spoke about being diminutive, on stage she appeared anything but. I swear, she looked like she was ready to rip out a lion's heart and eat it.

My poem came nestled in the exact center of the performances, and was perhaps the longest single poem, though there were people who performed numerous shorter poems back-to-back. Truth be told, even though I am used to being on a stage and being the center of attention, (I revel in it, if I'm being entirely honest,) as I neared the end of my poem, I experienced something I haven't felt in years: stage fright. My heart sped up, my breath got shallow and rapid, dry mouth, all that shit. I was dreading getting to the end and receiving the polite pity clap; that modest ten second applause reserved for piano recitals and sub-par wedding speeches.

That did not happen. I got loud, exited applause, and several people I didn't know approached me to congratulate me and analyze my work. And, naturally, to invite me back next week, and I am inclined to oblige them.

I'll never admit this in person, but public vindication is truly the lifeblood of my charismatic attitude, and even one person being genuine and honest with their opinion of my work is often enough to keep my inspired and working for months to come.

So I guess I'll just leave that poem here. It really benefits from the verbal performance element, as I wrote it specifically to be read aloud, but I hope the words themselves have the merit to stand alone. And as always, I'd appreciate an opinion or two.


A Toast

To you, the shelf life Socrates, the bargain bin Poe's, the milk-at-the-front-of-the-cooler Mandela's,
whose epiphanies and revelations and tears of profound refined outpourings of self have come a thousand times before, and will come a thousand times after.

To you, the sidelined geniuses, the team managers and waterboys of the human condition,
whose mountains of traversed texts and internet histories packed with non-cat films laden thick with the musings of history and philosophy and cosmology leave you repeating and improving verse and meter in front of bathroom mirror or cracked windshield.

To you, the muted rabble-rousers born a decade too late, the disenfranchised malcontented optimists born a century too early,
whose soul and mind and stomach and tonsils and fisted toes and pocketed hands shriek for a shared unselfish spotlight to continue a discourse now impotent and masterbatory, forgetting that the grave leaves plenty of time for silence.

To you, the writer and musician and poet and artist and philosopher who has seen their original work, independent and isolated, performed three years ago or three years later on a global stage better or even worse than your vision,
whose river of jot-noted novels and scratchpad songs and scribbled Mona Lisa's and three-rhyme Xanadu's fill your hard drives and flash drives and clutter your desk and inbox and binder and once motivated mind.

To you, the unabashed riders of intellectual coat tails, eagerly and critically prospecting the rivers
for Hitchens and Harris and Dawkins and Dennet,

who never claim arrogance and embrace the humility of their simplicity, aspiring to further their minds and opinions and stances and beliefs standing on the shoulders of giants and titans and the HMS Beagle.

To you, the questioners of 5th grade scare tactics and seekers of liberal drug studies, you shedders and moulters and pruners and polishers of bullshit and fact and opinions useful and damaging,
whose virgin sensibilities of the mind and human experience were joyously shattered as the hymen of beer and pot and music and film and pornography and obscure artsy films in dusty corner shops or on thepiratebay with only 3 seeds was torn asunder as you screamed with joy!

To you, the closet Darwins, the housebound and housebroken skeptics, the paterfamilias lapdog fetching the slippers of Genisis and Leviticus and Romans and Titus and Odin and Krishna and Cerberus,
whose gnawing rash of hidden doubt and factual convictions itches even now, where it could once be quelled with your hidden library and anonymous internet posts, now raging in twitching isolated insanity where the immature thrill of your great secret is now a poor thing.

To you, the addicts and fiends of debate and argument, eager for your next hit of firm voices and clashing views and elbows on the table leaning forward into your respectfully dark ale,
whose pingpong banter with friends and acquaintances and happenstance partners and rivals in deduction and citation carries long into the night with many concessions and achievements and beautifully warped views cause many heads to turn and waitresses to inject their two cents, and leaves many empty pints on the table.

To you, the builders of blanket forts and grillers of cheese sandwiches and authors of Alphabet Soup and William Wallace's of pillow fights and Shakespeare's of puns,
whose living example of exuberance and freedom breaks the ice among a crowd and within one mind, giving consent and permission to act the way we weren't brought up, and throw every grocery store lecture and parking lot pulled ear and angry car drive with empty driver's seat threats to the winds.

To you who enjoy the aftermath of passion more than the moment, relishing in the wake of the wave, in the afterglow of cooling sheets,
Whose confidence in mutual acceptance and sincerity, in the quiet breath on your neck, in the heat of slumbering skin contact and in the implicitly accepting numb arm trapped under the pillow, feel the purest and clearest of intimacy and love.

To you, the willing slave, unwilling to see your bars and bonds, trusting the devil you know, liberty a thing beyond recollection and desire,
Whose fear of the dark closet and creaking floorboards, of the group of kids playing a game, of the girl you secretly yearn for, of that one party, of that one road trip, of that one camping trip, of that school dance, of moving out, of taking chances, of change and failure, of upsetting the status quo traps you even now, even in clear view of your bars and possessing the key.

To you, the generous for whom karma is of no interest, the kind for whom recompense holds no motivation, the loving and caring who challenge their nearest and dearest because they trust in their ability to see and learn and change and grow,
Whose motivation lies not in one book but many, not in creed but concepts, not in idolatry but ideas, who know with certainty that minds can be changed, for their own minds had been made to change once, and shiver of what they might have become had they not been challenged more than once or bound by polite social restraint and acceptance.

To you, the imperfect spendthrift, the occasional hypocrite, the not-so-infrequent sloth and coward, the sometimes vain and sometimes petty, self deceiving skeptic, nervous with a winning poker face,
Whose honest outpouring of self in print and pretentious poetry may yet be only one more outcry, but has chosen to look into the mirror to enlighten and entertain. Better by inches, improving by degrees, soon to be man he wishes to be.

In short, a toast, to me.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Wasn't I writing a play at some point?

So Opera is a TOUCH harder than I had anticipated, and trying to sync my music ideas with my story without making the whole thing cluttered and disorganized seemed too much like work. So I pulled out an old unfinished script for a short 2 act play, and...now this is remarkable...actually finished it. I cracked a beer in celebration. Of course, I was gonna do that anyway, but who cares.

So I'll be workshopping it with some friends and editing this and that, (kinda hard, since I always think my first draft is a masterpiece), then I'll take it to whoever runs the Fringe and get it put on. Seriously, if some of the tripe I saw last year made it into the Off Broadway, then this script should have no problems getting in. So come on down to the Fringe and see my (hopefully) first stage play, "Anemone."

Hell, maybe it'll actually turn out good.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Well, these days...

So my weekend is Monday/Tuesday, and I work early on both Saturday/Sunday, so rough translation is that I've been living like a hermit with either work or home being my summer getaways. Living at home is getting worse, (such a HUGE surprise,) with good-ol' daddy flying off the handle at everything from eating a grapefruit crooked to replacing a light bulb with a 60 watt instead of an 80 watt. I'm spending more and more time away from home, either working out or just leaving to do some arbitrary errand to get away from the madhouse. My feet are sore from walking on eggshells morning to night, (10 points for clever analogy.)

On the plus side, I've got full time, am making 850 a paycheck, and Thomas is back in the city. Good times are sure to follow. Needed a summer project, so I'm working on an opera for no good reason. I think the story is solid, and I've finished the first scene, music and all. Took me close to 3 weeks though, so I may need some help if I want to get this thing finished inside of 4 months. Still planning on doing classics critic, but I need a gimmick. I'll think of something.

Takin a vacation from July 18-23. Debating weather to have a 5 day hottub party and keg'r for like 40 people or go on a road trip to BC with a few friends and a video camera. I'd LIKE to do the keg'r hottub party, but honestly I don't trust people anymore. I'm about 60% sure I'd waste like $800 and have almost nobody show up. I'll make a facebook interest group for the hell of it, but people are lame these days.

Time to go write the libretto for scene three. Get to have some fun writing the lecherous gardener "spreading his seed" and "trimming the bush." God, I'm so clever.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Plea

A generation is defined by how they are remembered. Defined by their actions, by their ideas, and by the records that they leave behind. So I ask all free thinking people of our generation to consider the record we leave behind in our intellectual mediums. In our books, in our articles, in our art, and in our film. If we allow this current trend of lowbrow pandering to baser impulses and superficial visceral pleasures, how will we be remembered. The basis of all intellectual medium must be the projection and exploration of an idea. I look upon the expanse of art, book, and film of the modern age as a desert where a proud oasis once stood; the land now choked with corporate shill productions and shameless trend panderers, starving our intellect and killing our spirit. And when our descendants look back on the desert we left them, how will they judge us? They will view themselves as the offspring of childish imbeciles. They will mock us. And if we allow the politically correct liberals and the morally uptight conservatives to continue to siphon the messages and ideas from our books and films, and replace them with banal clich├ęs and listless pandering banter, then our generation is fully deserving of their mockery. Do away with the Twilights and the Sex and the City's. Ignore the Michael Bay's and the Tim Burtons who try distract from an abhorrent lack of talent and vision with deplorable excesses of action and meaningless deviant character design. Let us wipe the "teen drama" and the "chick flick" and the "romantic comedy" from the face of our minds. Let us replace the 10 minute chase scene with a moving dialogue. Let us replace the falsified threesome with a long awaited embrace. Let us forsake the stream of profanity for the truly profound. Above all else, let us reclaim our entitlement to create a few memorable, enduring gems rather than a mountain of uninspired slag.

Film is dead, for now.

Well, due to conflicting schedules and a time crunch, the movie will not make it to the USSU film fest. But I'm gonna be buying a camera in a few weeks, (more like months >__>) to hopefully finish it on my terms and on my time.

Anyway, with that nonsense out of the way, I'm getting ready to start my vlog reviews. Question: should I do Casablanca, (aka a good movie review) or a BAD movie as a review?

Spehar, out.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Day One: Done. Now for the Hard Part

Well, we filmed roughly HALF the short film yesterday, with the bonus that we now have some tangible work on camera done. It gives me a feeling of being past the point of no return, and contrary to what someone might think, it's actually quite liberating and relieving. It's as if a some greater force has reached down and said "No backing out now, wuss. Come hell or high water, you are FINISHING this movie." 1001 thanks to Mike for filming this, and putting up with the oddity of the script and filming sequence. I'm not sure if it's him having faith in the script, or me as a director/writer, or if he's just helping out a friend. In any case, I'm glad he's on board. Hell, without him, we don't even have a ship to be ON board.

So now we need to film 6 more scenes in 3 different locations. I'm hoping to shoot it all, minus the party scene which is gonna take 8 people, in one day. Monday. Shit, I've gotta go make some phone calls. Update later!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Short Film has LIFE!!

Well, the humble idea for a short film I conceived roughly five months ago has not only suddenly found itself a use, but also a future.

Along with longtime friend John S., the paranoid, twisted story of Ned has a very good chance of not only making it to the camera, but also the screen.

John and I came up with this idea, (along with some inspiration-aiding idea bouncing from Cuylar C.), and all it took was one evening of a sit down writing session to conceive the five minute film debut of Michael Spehar, (not counting the gem of the film industry, Island Man).

The script is complete barring a final discussion with my writing partner, and the always talented Michael D. will be assisting us with the cinematography, editing, and production roles. And yes, he's getting paid for it.

All that remains is to hammer out a filming schedule and con a few would-be actors to sacrifice an afternoon of their time for a minute of screen time. Shouldn't be hard...I hope.

As a side note, I just finished composing a few background songs after plunking around on my piano for an hour. We'll have to see what happens with my little six-bar tunes once Jeff E. and a little computer composition get underway. In short, this short film, (born of a lack of conversation around a Grainfields breakfast table,) is set to take off. Hopefully we don't crash and burn immediately after take off. Update in two days.

Film due in nine days as of tomorrow. Seven scenes, four locations, seven actors/actresses, and one camera. Let the fun begin.