Coffee Update: 06/19/17

Blog pic 2

If we were having coffee right now

I’d tell you about John Pointer and the other folks at The Live Music Capital Foundation and the 2 1/2 years that we worked together creating a video production workflow.  We made some awesome videos out of unique live music shows, and did so on a low budget which is always a challenge.  And thanks to Stephen Kinney and The Front Porch staff for the faith they placed in me to help them develop the look for Unplugged on The Front Porch.  I’m also happy to know that I have new relationships with great people in Austin that I’ll continue to work with when possible.  Congratulations to John on his project “Yesterday Was Weird”, a book about the day his dog Benny died.  His crowd funding campaign was fully funded in something like 12 hours.  As I plan my own crowd funding campaign, I’m figuring out how much work is involved in order to do it right.  Stephen and I have been working on laying down some good footage for his non-profit, The Front Porch.  I’m not sure what that project will turn into but I like being there because the subject is one that I’ve been trying to figure out since college and also because it’s cutting edge and challenging.  Also, thanks to Patricia Boyce for hooking me up with an experienced crowd funding consultant to help me plan my first campaign.

Funding and distributing a film takes marketing.  I thought my Advertising degree would come in handy here but the environment has changed so much, I now realize that I need some advice so I can find out what sources of knowledge are out there.  I thought that my relationships with college professors were in good standing but one of them has not returned my email.  The other has moved on from UT and must have changed her name.  Google turned up nothing and the advertising school office was pretty rude when I asked about contact information.  You know, I am an alumni and this was my professor for two years, including an independent work study class where I started an advertising program at TSTV the student TV station, not to mention, she also invited me to be in her intensive sequence (the media sequence), without even having to test out for it.  If anyone has pull with UT people and can get contact info for Dr. Elizabeth Tucker, that would be very helpful as I move forward with my festival plan for the film.  There are so many advertising tools out there offered by the social media platforms but without the proper knowledge of how they work and how to convert my organizational goals into media goals using these new tools, I could end up throwing good money after bad.  This is a phenomenal opportunity for independent producers that did not exist in the early 2000’s.  In those days, you had to be working for an advertising agency and have professional media planning experience to execute a real media plan.

If we were having coffee right now

I’d tell you that I want to produce a web series.  My idea is to cover events around town and document the Central Texas experience, then add other themes, see what viewers want and adjust from there.  It would investigate the question “What does weird mean to you”.

What does "weird" mean to you?

A post shared by Blake Naleid (@b_lakeandsnoop) on

Each show would have a different guest and would bounce between coverage of the event and driving around town improvising the conversations.  It’s a low budget production and I have all the equipment but I can’t do it alone.  I’ll need at least one production specialist to help on production day and an editor to help cut the story (this is a real editing job, not just a button pusher).  I expect that the event shoots would be 2 hours max and the car shoots a couple hours with an hour or two of setup/breakdown.  I’d also like to bring in a Producer and a Writer to round out the idea team.  I’m interested in feedback from viewers to so that I can find out if this sounds interesting.  There’s lots of cool stuff going on in Austin to keep the show fresh and interesting.  I’ve already shot footage for a couple episodes and done lots of editing so have a pretty good handle on what’s needed including series elements and some running plot lines to weave in with the fresh content that is unique for each new episode. Comments???  Anyone want to help create a TV show?

That’s it,

Blake

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Coffee Update June 12th 2017 – Crowd Funding Levels the Playing Field

 

The Land

“Deep in the Piney Woods of East Texas, a suspected murderer escapes a manhunt staged by his longtime rival, the Sheriff, by taking refuge on the land where he learned to hunt as a child with his estranged friend who uncovers evidence that he might be the villain they’re looking for after all”

If we were having coffee right now I’d tell you

The film, is moving along at a good pace, but I’m not rushing it because the new indie film climate involves DIY marketing which calls for a lot of prep work leading up to a festival run.  Now that the film negative is back from the lab, I’m planning for the rest of the post work.  I’ll share the budget through a crowdfunding campaign that will raise the money needed to finish the post production work.  When I started, crowdfunding was not even a thing so I can not put into words what a phenomenal opportunity this is.

Last week I talked about the importance of crowd funding to the national film market in general.  Now I want to talk about how crowdfunding helps to even the playing field for independents:

Making movies is a risky, expensive endeavor and always has been.  The only exception to this in history was during the studio system of the 1940’s and 50’s when the majors (Hollywood studios) cornered the exhibition and distribution markets creating a group of monopolies.  That allowed them to remove all the risk which decreased the quality of the product.  The resulting decline in quality of the movies is no surprise because according to the market system tenets, No competition = No consumer choice and that throws the system out of balance.  The federal government threatened to break that up using anti-trust legislation so the majors acquiesced and divested themselves of their theatre chains.  Since then, the statistics show that 7 out of 10 films fail at the box office, so, were back where we started.  Film production is a risky endeavor for anyone and the goal is always to be profitable, however if the film has a strong theme, then the product has value to society even if it loses money.  And that goes for both Studio or indie productions.

Here’s a difference.  When borrowing money for production, the studios have always used sophisticated finance products tied to their business (not the private individual), but when I finished production, I had $15,000.00 worth of personal credit card bills to pay off.  After that, I spent another several thousand out of pocket for post work.  It was in the neighborhood of 20k overall which I paid off over a long period of time by working a regular job.  That total is not including the “In-Kind” column of the budget which adds another 20k in food, transportation, labor, and equipment rental costs, some of which were donated by family members, classmates and some that was received as part of the film school tuition.  If the studios lose money, then its the business that takes the direct hit, not the individual producer or director because they still get paid.  If I fail, then I take the hit which is obviously not a sustainable model for independent film production.  Now that we have crowdfunding, the risk can be spread among many fans and supporters.  And, even if the film loses money, the supporters of the campaign still get the rewards that they were promised through the kickstarter or indiegogo campaign.

This is just a quick and dirty list but here’s what has yet to be done.

  1. Lab Expense –
    1. Telecine – 2k 4:4:4 DCI Print
    2. Color Correction
    3. Digital Dust busting   
  2. Sound – Score & Sound Design
    1. Composer
    2. Sound effects editor
    3. Final Sound Mix & Master
  3. VFX: Visual Effects artist
    1. Object removal/replacement
    2. Particle creation & animation
    3. Digital Dust Busting
  4. Producers/Consultants:
    1. Indiegogo
    2. M&D producer
  5. Graphic Designer
    1. Film Titles
    2. Post Cards…maybe posters

After hiring a consultant, it looks like Indiegogo is going to be our best bet.  The campaign will raise the money needed to get to the festival entry stage.  Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more information on the movie and the Indiegogo campaign.


RELATED POSTS

June 5th Post – Crowdfunding Develops Talent

 

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Coffee Update June 5th – Crowd Funding Develops Talent

One of my regular coffee shops just changed hands and I’m trying out the old location under new management for the first time.  As I organize my thoughts and update my plans for “The Land”, my brain is running on all cylinders, fueled by a pretty solid Americano.

The Land“Deep in the Piney Woods of East Texas, a suspected murderer escapes a manhunt staged by his longtime rival, the Sheriff, by taking refuge on the land where he learned to hunt as a child with his estranged friend who uncovers evidence that he might be the villain they’re  looking for after all”

If we were having coffee right now I’d tell you

I’m working on my budget for an Idiegogo campaign but before I get to that I want to talk about the phenomenal opportunity of crowd funding.

Crowd Funding

This new resource is a huge development that all independent artists should be using.  I don’t want to get too academic here, but I have something to say about the subject and this is a blog so here it goes…

Why is crowd funding a big deal? It works in a natural way to bring balance back into a market that has become oligopolistic over the last 100 years.  Atomism is the thing that ensures natural balance in a market based society.  Without it, the only way to achieve balance is through regulation (a nasty word in the business community) and that means conflict.  Balance, whether achieved naturally through consumer driven adjustments in the market or artificially through regulation means that barriers exist that prevent a small group of people from controlling most of the power which, in the absence of corporate conscience, incentivizes them to rob others of their opportunity for prosperity.  At that point, prosperity is no longer a principle but a privilege enjoyed by a small group of insiders.  Prosperity for all is an ideal that is never fully achieved but America has taken the concept farther than any other nation in the history of the world.  Plain & Simple: It’s who we are and what we do.  The truth is that we are an idealistic nation and this ideal has always been the top priority in Western Society.  It sets us apart from the totalitarian ones.  Thank You UT Austin Advertising school for teaching me the history of the Western social system: The Market System.  And thank you to the multi-national banks (particularly Wells Fargo, America’s Servicing Company, and Deutche bank) for being so greedy, thereby forcing me to re-learn the history, this time through real world experience.  Why am I thanking greedy oligopolies for kicking my ass?  Because, now I understand how it’s possible for the American market, district courts, and federal regulators to fail so badly that the banks are allowed to rob middle class Americans of the prosperity that we had worked so hard to build.  Meanwhile blue-collar criminals spend decades in jail for crimes far less destructive, on a good day.  On a bad day, they spend decades in jail for a crime they never committed.  After learning about these things both in academia and in life, I can say that the best way to solve this problem of market manipulation is a return to atomism.  In simple terms that means more competition which increases choice for consumers.  Crowd Funding evens the odds for those who have a great idea but don’t fit into some cookie cutter pattern constructed by self-serving corporations.  Aside from giving consumers more choice, it also gives artists an outlet.

Don’t get me wrong.  The pursuit of self-interest isn’t bad itself as long as the pursuit is not conducted wantonly.  But when there’s no atomism, then most of the marketable ideas out there never see the light of day.  It’s important for an artist to recognize when the conventional decision makers at the majors don’t want what you’re selling.  Either, you have to change what you’re selling to match what they’re buying (because, they have the money) or you have to figure out a way get money directly from the fans instead of letting it filter through the majors.  Then you have to produce, sell, and distribute the art yourself.  It’s said that talent is not born.  It’s created from an inner drive bolstered by coaching and practice.  Talent can happen anywhere at any time.  Many of us had the instruction early in our careers which got us this far and now crowd funding gives us the ability to practice and put art out there to be evaluated and commented on, developing our talent.  And the cycle continues.

Crowd Funding Develops Talent.

 

 

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Mom Power (The Way of The Mom) Mother’s Day Trilogy: Episode 3 (continued)

Mother’s Day Trilogy: Episode 1

Mother’s Day Trilogy: Episode 2

Mother’s Day Trilogy: Episode 3 – Part I

Now that I’ve covered the why, it’s time for the what?  What is “Mom Power” and “The Way”?  Mom power, in a nutshell, is girl power times ten.  When a girl gets to be a Mom, there’s some undocumented physiological change that amplifies her girl power, super-charges her intuition and her ability to control others with her mind, (like a real world Jedi); Example #1) The Look,  Example #2) The Voice.  This basic level of the art is very powerful stuff, but it’s not always enough to control the most unruly children.  So Moms of sons are more likely to need the training and guidance of The Way and it’s corresponding secret society, The Sect.

I was talking to a friend, explaining my theories on how it all works.  Since this is a mystical art, not a science, I can’t say that I know for a fact that my version of reality is fully accurate but I know what I’ve seen and I can tell you it’s real.  I was giving my friend some background on this story, evidence that I have which mostly revolves around my experience being raised by my mom.  His opinion was that it’s all very interesting but in his experience, not all moms use their “intuition” the way mine did.  In the words of his dad, my friend’s mom was insecure.  He wondered if maybe not all women have The Power.  I think that’s wrong.  I believe that The Power can be affected by a woman’s background and become controlled by learned behavior but the power itself comes from genes.  It’s a combination of nature and nurture.  The Power must somehow grow with physiological development of the body in the absence of testosterone or the Y chromosome.  The power is then honed through tradition learned from a woman’s own mother in her youth.  Doesn’t sound too different than what most people would call “intuition”.  I think “intuition” is a cover, but I concede the concept is a version of the truth which is considered “real” to most because it’s palatable, even for traditionalists.  I think my friend’s mom was just as capable in using her Power but sometimes chose not to.  Or maybe, without anyone knowing, did use it whenever needed just like mine, but in a way that was much more discreet.  And who’s to say which is right or wrong?  There’s also the possibility that both I and my father were more trouble than he and his, and if so, then my Mom was forced to be more liberal in her application relative to the average Mom.  This is central to the story; rules are great and all, but they’re often arbitrary because many things are relative.  Though women all have The Power, every mom is unique and they all face unique circumstances.

My friend subscribes to the alternative wisdom of post-modernism which is a way of looking at the world, the newest thought paradigm for the middle class (and usually the least popular because it’s often the least comfortable), though it’s been ubiquitous in academia since the 1920’s.  Since I knew that he’s bought into the alternative, I’ve kept him updated with my story and he’s starting to become a believer in The Way, or at least in the subject as an interesting subject for dialogue.  After reading my last post, he agreed with my statements about the effects of a male dominated society which is like a puzzle with a large missing piece.  But, where we differed in perspective was regarding the women’s lib movement and its impact after taking a large segment of the female population out of the home and putting them into decision making positions out in the work place.  It was his suggestion that if The Power, does exist and if I’m right about its connection with a deeper truth, then possibly It will restore balance by motivating our female leaders to push for change in their roles outside of the home.  I know that he’s not alone in holding out hope that The Power will manifest itself in this way.  I don’t discount this as a possibility.  On the contrary, I acknowledge that, like men, women have an inner voice that calls them to use their unique gifts in a certain way.  I don’t think traditional roles or their alternative counterparts are, in and of themselves, right or wrong, but the new work environment is different and therefore will have certain effects that we can only predict with much conjecture.  I also like this perspective in that it’s another voice entering into the conversation which is what this whole story is meant to spark up in the first place.  Possibly the The Power can survive in the workplace, but either way you slice it, it’s definitely alternative and therefore will do one of two things; historically these things are typical when an alternative way starts to impinge on tradition.  1) Clash with tradition when the working Moms refuse to drink the Kool-Aid creating violence, or… 2) The other Way…”The Way of The World” will bend them into submission just like it has done with the men.  Notice I’m giving men a break here.  I don’t think the problem has to do with the nature of us males but of people in general.  It’s just that males, traditionally, are in control.  Hopefully work Moms will be able to resist the urge to go with the flow by insisting on the inclusion of their unique perspective in the decision making process despite it’s clash with tradition, and maybe they’ll succeed, but I doubt this is enough to restore balance; it’s a huge job and those that benefit from the status quo have a lot to lose.  And because tradition never disappears without a messy fight, I think the full blown Mom power is going to be the weapon of choice.  But that’s my perspective because of my background.  I’m sure that in a dialog, other voices will have better arguments for the workplace Mom but it’s not my area of knowledge.  Having been raised by a stay-at-home mom, that’s what I know and I’ve seen evidence of their higher purpose.  I think that if my mom were here today, she would agree.  I remember, one day after I had graduated from high school, I was hanging out with my sister who got distraught when she recalled a conversation that she’d had with our mom.  She felt that Mom had discouraged her from going to college saying, “You don’t have to go to college.  It isn’t for everyone”.  My sister was near tears and interpreted this statement with the subtext “Those with a college degree are “better” than those without” and you aren’t good enough to get one of those.  This was a mis-interpretation driven by society and a scientific (modernist) mindset…..think about it.  Why would a woman who had never gone to college hold this idea to be true.  The answer is that she wouldn’t!  She knew things!

Although The Power is present in all women, it doesn’t really emerge until they give birth.  Within the first year, the girl power is amplified times 10.  This power is often enough to discipline kids (and comes in handy with husbands too).  However, some women find that they need to study The Way in order to learn how to focus the energy and increase its power.  Unruly kids will feel the power from The Look or The Voice just like other kids but they don’t respond because their own instincts are too strong for the basic level of Mom Power to overcome.  I’m not sure how they go about study, but I assume that there’s a trip to some remote undisclosed location once or twice a year for the purpose of studying with a master; a Sifu Mom (probably why summer camps are so popular.  Get the kids out of the house for a week and you have the perfect opportunity to make the trip and get back in time to pick them up while they think that Mom has been at home relaxing the entire time).  The goal of the trip is to study, a new more powerful weapon and over time this weapon must be mastered.  Since I’ve only witnessed the use of one weapon by one Mom, I can’t be sure that there are multiple weapons to choose from but I assume that would be the case as with any martial art.  The weapon of choice in our household was the Mom zapper (A.K.A, the tickle Taser).  Through concentration exercises (similar to a Jedi learning to use the force) the student learns to focus the energy of the Power to a spot the size of a finger tip.  Normally the energy radiates out in all directions, which is why everyone in the room can feel the tension when a mom uses The Voice to discipline her child.  But with the Mom Zapper, ALL of the energy is gathered, funneled through the hand and radiated out of the forefinger and the thumb which jacks up The Power an extra 10x (that’s 100 times more potent than Girl Power!).  I can tell you from experience that it makes you stop in your tracks.  You know how when someone tickles you, your entire body feels the sensation and that’s enough to make you recoil and start throwing elbows in every direction?  Well, imagine if that sensation were amped up times 10 and then concentrated in a spot on your body about a half inch in diameter.  That’s the Mom Zapper Tickle Taser.

I know, I know.  My theory sounds ridiculous by now.  Why would any Mom use a weapon like that on her child as a tool for discipline?  Don’t click off the page just yet because that is a really good question.  The answer is that she wouldn’t, at least not at full power and not very often.  See…the way my mom used it was at a level just powerful enough to get my undivided attention forcing me to get the point and it was combined with the look and voice so that the energy from the voice was felt just before getting zapped.  It’s negative reinforcement like Pavlov’s theory of classical conditioning.  If Mom thought it was time for a zap, she’d wait until I got really out of line and then give me the voice.  If I didn’t mind her, and she was within striking distance, I’d get one more warning as she reached over and put her zapping fingers on either side of the soft area just above the collar bone, between the shoulder and the neck.  If I kept it up, she’d apply a slight amount of pressure and concentrate (you could see it in her face).  Once she mastered her power, it only took about a half second to spool up and pull the trigger, causing me to crumple (In hindsight, I remember that I was usually sitting down when getting zapped).  That’s how it went down in practice.  Here’s how it works in theory: The voice precedes the zap and over time the zap is no longer necessary because the conditioning has taken effect and now the response to the stimulus of The Voice is the same with the unruly child as with those who naturally respond without the conditioning.  It’s pure genius, because the conditioning happens when the kid is very young, definitely before the teenage years, when the mind is still fairly under-developed.  This helps to hide the power because the kid has no idea that it’s not physically possible for somebody to pinch you and bring you to your knees.  By the time your mind reaches the level of development where you start to question things, the conditioning phase of The Way is over and has been forgotten…usually.

I’ve run out of space and still haven’t told about how I know all this.  But, I have gotten through the full explanation of the Power and its purpose which should be enough to digest for now.  After having some time to consider this complicated theory, it will be easier to understand the time that the power was used outside of normal parameters agreed to by the members of the Sect.  Also, it’s one AM on Sunday morning and I’m running out of steam.  For now, I’ll end by adding one last fact about me and my mom.  I was kind of a mama’s boy since I was her only son.  Maybe that’s part of the reason I figured all this stuff out, being the object of many protective efforts, doled out in a very matriarchal way.  Most people don’t realize that East Texas is a matriarchal society.  Since it’s largely conservative people assume that it’s male dominated.  Well, it’s not.  Women there are extremely independent and my mom was no exception.  She was indeed a master of The Way and with only one deviation (the event that gave rise to this entire story) she practiced extraordinary care and discretion in its use.  Though she’s not here anymore and there are some decisions she made that I still don’t understand, I can still wish her a Happy Mother’s day.

And Happy Mother’s Day to all the other Moms out there.  Thanks for all you do and keep fighting the good fight.  World peace hangs in the balance.

To Be Continued……

 

 

 

 

 

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Mom Power (The Way of The Mom) Mother’s Day Trilogy: Episode 3

With the first two posts in this series, I start slow (if this is your first look at the story, I suggest you go back and read the first two episodes using the links below).  The purpose; ease you into information that many will consider fluff or conspiracy theory.  And maybe it is.  Maybe I’m crazy or some kind of neurotic, wanna be story teller with nothing better to do than make up ridiculous conspiracies.  Sure, that’s a possibility.  I mean this is Austin and we do have 20 years worth of Alex Jones under our belt.  However, it’s undeniable that Mom’s do have a “way”.  We all know that but we don’t ever give it any deeper thought, assuming that it’s some kind of inexplicable intuition; a product of, maybe, some collective feminine consciousness.  And to a degree it is, but by this point in the story, I have already invited the skeptical reader to consider the possibility that there is something more organized, more concrete, more tangible at work.  In the first story, my own mom’s premonition predicts the impending disaster that would not come for several months.  In the second, we get a little deeper into the way, with another real world example of Mom Power in action with both a premonition and the use of mind control to steer the family clear of impending calamity, avoiding unnecessary drama.  Now that you’ve had a chance to consider these events and, most likely, recall specific situations in your own lives where you’ve witnessed similar use of this, so called, “women’s intuition”, I think you’re adequately prepared to find out the truth.  It’s unconventional but the truth often is, especially truths that involve the mystical arts.  This story is the truth about an ancient order, the existence of which we’ve all been fooled into completely ignoring.  (Hand wipes in front of your face….”These are not the Moms you are looking for”).

When I first got to Austin as a college student, my friends and I went down to 6th street just about every weekend, but these days I save my drinking for Church.  The difference between pub church and a traditional Christian church (aside from the beer and wine) is that they take perspective and dialogue very seriously (at my traditional Baptist church, they claim the same but it’s often just lip service).  This particular Sunday, the guest speaker focused on the subject of transcendence.  He brought to the conversation quotes from various authors and poets who, throughout history experienced some form of transcendence and wrote about it.  The concept is an experience, or process of moving beyond a focus on the self and feeling connected with something bigger.  With all the science and technology in today’s world, it’s hard to find people who have transcended themselves and I doubt that there’s any kind of fool proof formula for finding the path through the thick underbrush of 21st century pop culture.  However, if there were a way of life that brought any human being closer to discovery, it would be that of the Mom. The Bible says to honor your parents.  Even the non-religious would agree that you have to appreciate the Mom.  Otherwise we would be a society of irreverence, and if Greek tragedy taught us anything, irreverence has been the downfall of many a powerful man.  Moms give 99.9% of themselves to their family.  They sacrifice much to experience the joy of raising ungrateful children in a selfish world.

Not all Mom’s are homemakers but ours was, and as such she enjoyed the blessing and bore the curse.  The blessing is, the experience comes stock with a crystal clear lens, unfiltered by consumerism and politics, for a singular perspective.  The curse is, the perspective is alternative, purpose built (arguably) to impinge on a world defined by convention.  Since convention controls our society, those who don’t drink the Kool-Aid find that the road can and will get more difficult.  This homemaker sect of Moms are a unique social resource because their station in life allows them to become experts in this alternative way of seeing.  They don’t get caught up in the rat race, the deadlines, and the wall street mentality where progress and prosperity are gauged by a number at the end of a quarterly balance sheet.  This frees them up to focus on the important things in life, learn it well and then pass along these important lessons to us in the short 18 years of our youth; lessons in the form of experiences that will shape our subconscious in a way that helps us grow into happy, healthy, adults guided by an internal voice that illuminates the difference between right and wrong, provides encouragement when reality presents a challenge, and ups the stakes, forcing us to risk the prosperity that we’ve worked so long and hard for.  The risk is in using every opportunity to do what’s right in spite of being unpopular; our own leap towards transcendence.  It’s a hard job for the Sect, but success means that we stay true to our Mom worthy values; values that can be traced back to the dawn of the modern free world.  Failure, on the other hand, means….well, I’d rather not speculate.  One such value that we’ve lost in the information age is, “Prosper? Yes!….but not by the deception of another”.  Historically, in a western society defined by the concept of “rational man”, to prosper by deception is to cause Harm“.  Logically, it’s not very debatable, but unfortunately, the transcendent egalitarianism that made the market system revolutionary has given way to a selfishness that slowly morphed our society into its current state where the upper class is growing and the middle class is shrinking.  To re-create that ideal world free of the wanton pursuit of self interest is a monumental task that has not been accomplished by either presidents or pastors; not even Superman himself.  Enter the Mom, an unlikely superhero.  She’s not the first hero in the west to hail from regular society, unblessed with super-human powers; no gene mutation catalyzed by the absorption of the radioactive energy of a foreign sun, no venom from a contaminated insect or exposure to random contaminants in a freak science lab explosion.  However, “The Way of The Mom” and its power possibly explain the existence of the only race of superheroes whose powers, though not superhuman, are likely supernatural and capable of bringing the most egotistical super-men of society into check.  Powers…the origins of which…we can only speculate.

Being a guy, I’m not supposed to have this information.  The secret of Mom Power is one that has been carefully guarded for God only knows how long.  It’s a mystical art and like all mystical arts, the power is coveted by unscrupulous manipulators the world over.  If it falls into the wrong hands, it would surely wreak havoc on humanity.  Not because the bad guys would acquire a weapon that makes them stronger (this is what all villains, in their infinite greed and stupidity, always think), but because the universal untraceable source of Mom power, like that of the Lost Arc in the first Indiana Jones movie, is not a manifestation of the dark side but one of light.  Those foreign to “The Way”, those without reverence for the light who dare attempt to wield its powers are destined to destroy themselves…and us in the process.

I know what you’re thinking:

First, “How did you come by the knowledge when every other individual in the universe un-initiated into the Sect of the Mom, who has experienced their mystical power, is unaware of its existence?” Because, in what some would call a lapse of judgement by a sect member, I saw it and felt it at an age when my rational mind could no longer ignore certain realities.  To the second half of the question, I say that all mystical arts are easy to obscure in a collective consciousness that still clings to the scientific mindset of the 20th century industrial age.  For most people reared in the age of science, If something cannot be proven by a positivistic, scientific formula, then that thing is not real.  This is the nature of the smoke and mirrors used by the practitioners of “The Way” to keep secrets of the utmost importance as they engage an unruly male dominated society on their quest to subvert the ill effects of an over-reliance on testosterone and scientific theory, by the insinuation of conscience back into the fabric of our wayward social institutions.  In short, science is used to obscure the thing that will one day, hopefully, eradicate the pandemic of the scientific, modernistic thought paradigm that has, over the last 500 years, overrun the western mind like an invasive species of super-weed choking out our natural ability to relate to and understand a deeper truth.  Ironic?  On the surface it would seem so, however this is the brilliance of nature at work.  If the Sect of the Mom is successful, then society will break through the barrier that obfuscates transcendence and this will create a sense of reverence in society at all levels. True, a return to reverence by force will shine a bright spotlight on the secret arts leaving them secret no longer, however the resulting social balance will also render them obsolete at which point they will fade into obscurity; the powers lying dormant only to resurface in the fantastical plots of mythical storytellers, until the next era of brokenness emerges, defined and defiled by the hubris of empire (and if history is any indication, it surely will).

Second, “If the information is so secret and potentially damaging, then why are you revealing it to the world?” While Mom’s are the best example of reverent souls, they are also human.  In the same way that women have proven themselves capable of doing anything a man can do, as well or better, there’s a flip side to that coin.  They have the same capacity for ignoring their inner voice and causing harm.  In an era where the women’s lib movement has culminated in a mass exodus from the profession of “Mom”, many new moms spend a significant amount of time as professional bankers, lawyers, accountants and ______ (fill in the blank…ad infinitum.) which takes away time from the Mom perspective.  I speculate that this restructuring of roles has to dilute the Power by weakening mastery of the craft due to infrequent practice which now makes women succeptible to one other traditionally male characteristic; in laymen’s terms…dumbassery.  Women know this better than anyone so I’m not telling anyone anything new.  They are aware of the risks of the information age which necessitates monitoring the behavior of their members and doling out appropriate consequences for breaking the rules.  When rules are broken by a member of the sect (as in the case of my story), it’s necessary to bring details to light so as to show that the transgression is necessary and other moms would have done the same.  So, to preserve the legacy of my mom as one of the masters, loyal to The Way, I need to explain the events that transpired on the day that I became painfully aware that there was indeed, something bigger than me in the universe.  The secret of how I came to this shocking revelation is the core of the story for which you’ve logged in to discover for yourself.  As for the danger of my disclosures, I point out that we now live in the post-modern world where technology is everywhere.  Documenting the various phenomena of the universe is easier now than ever before.  Regular citizens carry sound recorders and movie cameras around in their pockets, communications companies record and archive everything we say or see electronically, and government espionage is so common, it’s become everyday news.  We’ve gotten to the point where it’s impossible for secrets to exist and this puts the power of the way in jeopardy regardless of my actions.  The tech cannot be un-invented.  Post-modern society is what it is.  Therefore, the logical solution is that Moms should simply be more discreet when using their power, however you’ll soon see it’s not that simple because the thing that draws Moms to The Way, is the same instinct that brings about its use, a 6th sense that fires when stimulated and cannot be scheduled due to the unpredictability of the behavior of the child for whose benefit the power is employed (particularly in the case of boys).  Note also that, as with the ongoing mission of any comic book Superhero, discretion is always needed when saving the day and like the comic book superhero, here it is observed by the Sect of the Mom……usually.  But as we see with fictional superheroes, discretion is of no use if it hampers action.  In the west, we’ve lost the propriety that once governed our social leaders in the form of conscience.  In these dire circumstances where we’re plagued by a great social imbalance, evidenced by global events such as proliferation of natural disasters, terrorism and financial crisis,  propriety must dictate priority.  The mission of the Mom is to restore propriety.  Otherwise the world becomes so corrupted that the day is no longer worth saving.  This means taking a risk with discretion and since the news will get out regardless, I think it better to lead in the process thereby increasing control over interpretation.  And if all else fails, we can always hire out-of-work spin doctors who will be desperate to pay the bills after the collapse of the political science industry that results from the social harmony that ensues after the transition to the post-post-modern era.

Third, “if you’re not supposed to know the secret, how can I trust that your account is authentic”? For the reasons listed above, I predict that you won’t.  Given the amount of garbage on the internet, if you found this webpage and took the time to read through this account, you are probably either a member of the Sect of the Mom or an out of work stoner that has way too much time on his hands.  Either way, I seriously doubt that anyone else will ever believe that any of this is real.  For those who buy into it: #1) Moms already believe, which touches on another point about purpose.  Moms around the world will be nervous with the news that this story has been released to the public, will log on to verify its accuracy and become upset.  They will all meet to discuss what to do about the problem and in the heat of a much overdue dialogue come to realize that it’s a strange new world where new rules and methodologies are desperately needed.  And for the small percentage of stoners who read to the end of this entire account, you are the crazy conspiracy theorists that will work alongside the spin doctors to hide any ill effects of this disclosure.  For the rest, you won’t ever see this paragraph because your mental state reduces your attention span by 50% of us normals, so you’ve already lost interest and flipped over to the pizza delivery app.  Also, these days most stoners are millennials which reduces attention span down another 50%, which means ninety-eight percent of you never logged on because you’re all waiting for the You Tube video to come out (which it never will…See how nature works things out?)

That’s the Why.  Now how about the What.  What is Mom Power & The Way and The Sect?  I’ve been working overtime to crank out this story in only 7 days so you can find out.  Tune in Mother’s day to learn the secret!

………………………………. To Be Continued (05/14/17)

 

 

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Uncle Tom Goes to The Line (Mom Saves the Day). Mother’s Day Trilogy 2017: Episode 2

My mom put in a hard 18 years of parenting before I became an adult (in Texas that’s 17 according to the justice system).  I don’t discount the work and stress my dad endured but in a traditional conservative family with a stay-at-home mom, the mom does most of the child rearing while the dad brings home the bacon (and the discipline.  One of the Mom-isms that I remember the most from the early days is “just wait until your dad gets home!).  I don’t have kids but I have to guess that by the time the young-uns get close to the end of their high school career, the highly contagious disease of senioritis spreads from the parented to the parentor pretty quick.

After I graduated high school, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to be.  In my youth I decided on fighter jet pilot and it was time to make that happen (if it was meant to be).  My home town has two colleges.  One is a UT branch campus and the other is a Junior College with a student population of over 10,000 (which is pretty large for Ju-Co), a Greek system, dormitories, and even an athletics program with football and basketball teams.  I took my first class the year I turned 18 and started thinking about what four year college I wanted to apply to.  Yup, I said, “college”…singular.  That’s not a typo…I was of the mindset that I would just pick one institution and go there, not because I was a great student, but more because I wasn’t putting a whole lot of thought into the logistics of setting up my future.  Like I said…I didn’t have a clue as to what I wanted to be much less a plan for how to get there, wherever there was.  As you probably guessed, I wasn’t stressing out over it too much either; not my style.  My mom, knowing that I love airplanes, suggests that I consider Louisiana State University because they had a flight training program where you could also study an academic discipline as a backup (she was very faithful in the way that she lived and raised her kids but she was also big on backup plans).  If I take her advice, I could go straight out of college into the air force as an officer.  That’s a bad-ass career path for anyone raised to take risk, which the Naleid kids were.

My family was middle class and fairly modest in the way we spent money.  I was fortunate that I had parents to house and feed me, an adequate level of wealth to provide all of the basic needs that could be bought, and a high quality junior college nearby where I could knock out some course credits at a leisurely pace.  What we didn’t have though was nice cars.  Our driveway was  accustomed to old Suburbans, station wagons and pickup trucks.  My friends had cool sports cars when they turned 16, Camaros and Mustangs, a Supra, a 300ZX and a 240SX.  Not brand new but way newer than my 1979 GMC Heavy Half pick ’em up truck.  So when I turned 19, I really wanted a nice new car.  I was working at the Lobster Shack as a server because the country club didn’t have any openings when I got bored with the bus boy job.  Those positions were highly coveted and the club servers had all been there for years, if not decades.  The Shack was a better deal anyways because 1) there were more people my own age which made it fun, and 2) it’s good to move on after a few years to keep things fresh.  Working 20 hours per week during the school year and 40 during the summers, I had saved up $9K which paid for more than half of a brand new mustang.  I almost got the limited GTS model which was only $2k more, a steal for young men 25 and up, but for a 19 year old male, the insurance premium was just too high because of the V8, so I settled on the base model.

Soon after I bought the car, I heard that my dad’s brother was planning a trip to Texas from the mid-west.  He and my dad are really big into hunting and Texas is a great place for that.  A couple years earlier, my dad had joined the No Skill Deer Club in West Texas just north of the Hill Country which had lots and lots of big bucks with 10 point and up sized racks, making it easy to come home a hero with a nice trophy, regardless of your experience level…hence the name.  Uncle Tom would arrive in the evening and the next day, they’d begin the trek out to the brush country of Concho County in Dad’s, late model 4×4 pickup.  Since I had work that day, I wouldn’t be around when they got back from the airport.  Working in food service at that age is cool because people generally get along well, hang out together, throw parties, socialize and just have lots of fun.  In general, I also got along well with my managers because they were pretty cool for older people and I had a good reputation for selling lots of add-ons (drinks and appetizers) which is something that the company tracked and held contests on a regular basis to boost sales.  But when I first started, there were two managers that no one got along with because they had a terroristic attitude which put everybody on edge.  They had a habit of randomly yelling at employees, so somebody drew up a petition that we all signed and they got transferred to a different town.  After that everything was cool…until one Friday…when some stuff went down.

In high school, my friends and I had a party place down on the river.  It was an old ghost town that had been an industrial hotbed back when the shipping industry was controlled by actual ships traveling up and down the Sabine.  The hey day of our party phase was senior year, but the occasional get-together continued after that, and this particular Friday the party was on.  Yup, our teenage hangouts involved drinking (for better or for worse, that happens).  Smith county was “dry” which means that no alcohol could be sold inside county lines except at private clubs like restaurants and dance halls.  The next county over was “wet” so grownups and teenagers with fake id’s drove to the county line to re-stock the liquor cabinet or prep for the weekend festivities.  This is a tradition that we called “Goin’ to The Line”.  Once you crossed the line, there were beer and liquor stores as far as the eye could see.  This was the local industry for most Texas wet counties that bordered the dry ones.  Other than the booze business, neighboring cities didn’t really have anything else going on, economically.  The staple of the teenage party is the beer keg and sometimes we tapped two different brews simultaneously.  The party on this day however was a smaller one, so a keg was not needed.  We kept it simple and went with ordinary canned beer.  Maybe simple is not the right word because everybody wanted something different which means going to the line was a huge pain.  You had to put in your individual order with the guy with the fake id, get him the money, then figure out a way to get your stuff if you weren’t going to the same party, and you can forget about getting back change.  I planned on meeting up with our guy and the rest of the crew after work that night and had put in my order early in the week, so by Friday it had all been taken care of.  I appear in the kitchen in my black slacks and white long sleeve dress shirt and black bow tie.  Mom reminds me that Dad is picking Uncle Tom up from the airport (My work shirts were always freshly ironed and smelled like a fresh spring day, courtesy of non-other than…Mom.  My work friends who had already left the nest thought this was funny.  But, I looked forward to the jokes because, thanks to mom, I had my own unique thing in the group).  As I bail out the back door, Mom reminds that, despite the weekend, I needed to stop in later to say hello to Uncle Tom since they’re leaving for West Texas the following afternoon.  “Cool. Later”, I said.  The detour meant I wouldn’t get to the party until at least midnight but, no biggie because there was a cabin, so we had a place to crash for the night; no need to drive anywhere.

When I got to work, the business was starting to stack up like a typical Friday night.  Only two hours in, we were slammed.  Not long after all sections filled up, our manager ran into the service area from the dining room having a conniption fit.  He was yelling and wanted to know who had table 19.  I said it was mine and “what’s the problem?”.  I was confused because I had just brought out the couple’s food in a timely manner.  Apparently, the hostess had forgotten to give them silverware and I was in the weeds so hadn’t noticed that they didn’t have it, plus I used my boiler plate question for all my tables when I dropped off their order, “Can, I get you anything else?”.  Without looking at me, they had curtly replied “No”.  The manager accosted me as they believed that they were being discriminated against because of their race and, ordered me to “go out there and kiss some b____ Ass”.   I objected saying, “But, I didn’t notice about the silverware.  I didn’t do anything wrong”.  He got even madder and threatened me with termination.  I was offended so refused his irreverent demands.  Then, he says, “You’re going home!”.  I say, “Ok, Good!”.  He yells, “That’s it, you’re terminated.”  I’m like, “Fine, whatever”.  He goes, “right now!”.  I finish with, “I’m outta here”, drop my bank on the counter throw my apron on the ground and walk out.  It’s only 7PM so it’s not even dark yet.

Awesome!  It’s Friday.  I ain’t got no job.  I ain’t got nuthin’ to do….I’m fixin to paaaarrrrtaaay.  I call up my guy and tell him, “hey man I got off early let’s meet up so I can get my stuff”.  I roll over to the south east side in the stang, pick up my case of beer and throw it in the trunk.  Then I re-direct towards home with my system thumpin’ so I can change out of the monkey suit and head out early for a proper Friday night.  When I get to the house, I hit the remote and I pull into the garage.  I had a pretty decent system in my car with dual 10″s in the trunk running off a 250 watt, bridged, Alpine amp (according to my dad, my neighbors always knew when I was rollin’ up).  I was allowed to keep the car in the garage which was strange because my mom was a notorious pack rat.  Ever since I can remember, the garage was for storage.  Cars never went in there.  This was Mom’s territory and nobody, not even my dad, tried to plant their flag there.  When I got the new mustang, for the first time in my life, she cleared out half of the garage.  I didn’t even ask, she just did it.  It goes to show that there are a lot of things previously ruled impossible that moms will do if they decide to.  As I pull in to the tune of some hip hop or alternative rock (alternative can thump too) the door to the house opens, my parents and Uncle Tom are there ready to greet me with big grins on their face, no doubt laughing because they had just predicted my arrival hearing the bass getting louder and louder.  Of course it was the sound of the garage door that verified it was indeed my mom’s favorite son making an appearance (the favorite son comment was a “Mom-ism” that she used on a regular basis, in jest, because in reality I was her only son.  The joke was doubly clever because of the second context allowing another play on words.  When a local boy made it big, usually in sports, he would get the nick-name, “Tyler’s Favorite Son”, like Mom’s former John Tyler high school classmate, Texas Longhorn and Houston Oilers running back, the notorious Earl Campbell, A.K.A. “The Tyler Rose”.  I never made it that big, so was never given the honor however, in her own words, Mom dubbed me “My Favorite Son”. 

I’ve said it before.  My dad was horribly O.C.D.  This was because his dad had been the head of a corporate accounting department and whatever gene gave Grandpa Naleid his numbers skills, it was passed on to my dad.  Avoiding a career in business and neglecting the genetic urge to balance numbers caused the gene to mutate into a compulsive disorder manifested as a fixation on small details that no normal human being would ever notice, much less bring up in conversation.  As I get out of the car, my dad says, “here he is. Speak of the devil!”.  Everybody’s all smiles.  I greet my uncle in my thick Texas accent, “Hey Uncle Tom, long time no see…blah, blah, blah”.  In his unmistakable, thick Midwestern accent, he greets me with, Yeah…heyyy, blah, blah, blah, or whatever.  My dad immediately starts in on, “here’s the new stang I was telling you about!”  My Uncle comments on how nice it is and no sooner than he gets the last word out (Dad’s disorder had chosen my mustang’s trunk as the object of its latest obsession…the same trunk that had just received a 24 pack payload courtesy of a fresh run to The Line).  Dad pipes up, “You gotta see this trunk!  Blake, pop the trunk so Tom can see!”  Mom is hanging back in the doorway to the house leaning against the door jamb smirking and rolling her eyes.  This change in subject catches me totally by surprise because I’m prepared to play the game “Why are you not at work”, not “What’s in the Trunk?”.  Maybe I shouldn’t have been so eager to collect my party favors before I actually needed them.  My parents were not really “cool” parents and alcohol was forbidden.  My mom’s dad had been a drinker and I was raised in the big Baptist church so, they were pretty strict about that.  I wasn’t shaken though, so with my poker face on I just hemmed and hawed a little in a subtle yet confident play to deflect the request. “Naaahhhhhhhh.  He doesn’t want to see the trunk”, I respond.  Everyone is still smiling.  Dad’s like, “No, no…really…show him the trunk”.  (Turns to Uncle Tom) “You’re not going to believe how small it is!”.  And I’m like, “Ahhh….Naaaaaah.  It’s not that small” (smile real big, shrug shoulders).  The Mom power has started to kick in and she starts to sense that something’s up.  She tries to interject in a low voice, “Biiiiill”.  Uncle Tom is starting to get a little uncomfortable but plays along.  Dad isn’t listening.  He persists,”Come on…..pop the trunk!  It’s soooooo smaaaaall”.  I shrug my shoulders a second time with a smile big enough to keep pace with the brothers Naleid and skillfully reprise my objection with the axiom, “Mmmmm….Naaaaah.  You seen one trunk, you’ve seen ’em all”.  By now the smiles on our faces couldn’t get any bigger and Uncle Tom is starting to squirm.  I can see my mom now, standing up straight with her arms crossed.  She has the look on her face which means that the voice is soon to follow.  I know what she’s thinking….”The kid is 19.  When he crossed the stage in cap and gown, the Mom role went to part time.  Whatever he’s got in that trunk….I don’t even want to know”.  With partially clenched teeth, the Mom voice issues a decisive warning.  “Bill”, she says.  “He doesn’t……. want to show him…… the trunk“.  Dad hemmed and hawed a little and then acquiesced,  disappointed that he missed an opportunity to show off the eighth wonder of the OCD world.  It makes me ponder what kind of stuff little Bill showed off to little Tom when they were kids.

Now that the game of “What’s in the Trunk?” has been set aside for the time being, we retire to the living room and chat for a spell.  I then excuse myself, change clothes and head out to the party not caring one way or the other if get my job back.  Within a few days, the GM calls asking if we could talk.  I went down to the Shack and the GM informs me that the hot head manager had not handled the situation well and had been fired.  I can’t remember what excuse I gave my parents about why I wasn’t scheduled to work for so long, but whatever it was they bought it (not just that time but the other two times I got fired from the Shack plus the one time I got fired from the country club only to return to work two weeks later).  I was enjoying my time off but I had a sweet ride to pay for, so within 7 days I was back in action, selling the hell out of the add-ons…. and no one was the wiser.

So, in the end, I got to partake of a proper party night, Dad and Uncle Tom made it out of Smith county and on to the deer lease, the women got a long break from our mananigans (man shenanigans) and a good time was had by all.  Sweeeeeet.

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A Boxer Shorts Slumber Party (Mom’s on the Floor Again) Mother’s Day Trilogy 2017: Episode 1

As kids, we celebrated Mother’s day with goofy gifts that never got used or took Mom out for dinner, us three kids splitting the bill.  Even though the gifts were terrible and Mother’s Day dinner was pretty much like any other family night out particularly since the money that bought the meal came from our allowance courtesy of the person we were spending it on. But, it’s the thought that counts.  Since my Mom passed away last year around this time, I’ve had more thoughts about those years than ever and in light of the coming holiday decided to use the next few blog posts sharing them (also, because these memories are freshly minted). When stuff like this originally happens, the adolescent brain quickly blocks it out because, at that age, everything your parents do or say is an embarrassment. Plus, you get busy focusing on the future. First college and then the rat race makes us forget as we fight to get our piece of the pie, an ongoing struggle which Mom and everyone else seemed to be preparing us for in our youth.  My Mom prepared me for some things while neglecting others but I’m sure that’s the case with any family.  As a general rule, when telling stories about real people, rather than follow the marketing formula of Hollywood, focusing on some inciting incident that brought on drama (because drama means conflict which tends to vilify characters, if you’re not careful), the story should focus on the kind of truth that comes from crystallizing the essence of a character which is almost always good, despite any mistakes.  It’s counterintuitive for most people who came up in the 20th century because in the modern era, truth is something that can be proven beyond the shadow of a doubt, but in the pre-modern era, stories were always used to tell of a truth that’s not tied directly to any historical “fact” and instead distills history into an essence that people naturally interpret as insight into reality.  When the world hits us with bad, this is a nice thought, that we can find the good, defocus our lens from marketable and refocus on relatable.

I don’t mean to pidgeon-hole the modern era. While, it’s no real debate that the 20th century modernism was too polarized, this is mostly true when you push bias towards politics and the natural sciences.  The era also had its lighter side that catered to our non-scientific, relational side. Since the technique of animation can exploit any idea the imagination can cook up, cartoons handled it well with a tendency to give us a more human way of seeing things.  Though the natural sciences seemed to influence the western mind more than the human sciences, society was not shy about making fun of itself.  Just take a look at mainstream cartoons.  I’ve said before that Looney tunes was my favorite but there were other great cartoons as well. Hanna-Barbera probably took a close second. These painstakingly hand-drawn stories gave us a daily vacation from reality, a side-trip to an absurd place where taking things too serious was not allowed. Many of the characters taught us that if you try to control things too much, you’d just end up back where you started which is a healthy, family/kid friendly message.  My mom didn’t really like TV.  She even tried to pay us $500 to go an entire year without it (sounds like a good plan but fundamentally flawed due when using the honor system while dealing with 10 year olds who had friends with TVs.  I think one sister made it the whole year, the other made it 6 months.  I was done after 3.  She thought most of the programming was trash. Mom was a force to be reckoned with but she did let me watch all the cartoons my brain could handle.  She was a typical modern era stay-at-home Mom with one hell of a Mom look and Mom voice to back up her strong premonitions, both of which could stop us in our tracks when we only thought about doing something we knew we shouldn’t.  The authority figure archetype is probably the way most kids see their Mom because of all the discipline our parents laid down in the early years.  But once you get a little older, you start to see evidence of a youthful personality hidden inside.  When we get older, I guess we hide it because through the lens of youth, it feels so wrong and inauthentic.  We used to get embarrassed and roll our eyes when we were kids.  That’s not a criticism of youth because it’s to be expected. It takes years of life experience as well as some reflection on the past to have the capacity to recognize it for what it is.  I guess that’s the reverence for parenthood incubating inside, slowly bubbling to the surface.  One of the things that my Mom would do to let her inner child out, causing embarrassment (or even a little anger, depending on the circumstances), was her weird habit of falling on the ground.  My mom wasn’t very funny (though she thought she was), but she loved to laugh.

Reflecting on the past, I realize now that Mom was right.  “About what?”, you ask…. “everything!”.  What is it about Mom’s, teenagers and the sage advice that they give and we ignore? Advice about friends, girls, school…..boxer shorts.  One of the first memories I have of Mom’s “funny” side was the day one of her warnings came to fruition.  I must have been in middle school because I don’t think it had been long since the move. It was maybe the first or second Christmas in the house that would remain Home until leaving for college, and a second home we would visit many times during college breaks and post-college holidays and then gather in at the beginning of April, 2016 a final time for our first family meal without Mom, prepared in her kitchen and eaten on her table.  As a middle schooler, it had only been a year or two since I had stopped vegging out on Snagglepuss and the Flinstones. That Christmas, my sisters decided to help my effort to transition into adulthood with a grown-up gift (they were always doing that).  Christmas morning, after Dad’s traditional reading of the resurrection story, all the gifts were exchanged. As goofy as it sounds, the sisters gifted me a really nice pair of boxer shorts, silk, featuring a classy paisley pattern. We finished up our annual December ritual by scooping up the torn bits of wrapping paper, cardboard boxes, tape and other pieces of messiness that were beyond salvage so that we could jet off to our rooms and ready ourselves for the main festivities at Mimi’s house where tradition dictated that we meet up with the aunts, uncles and cousins to chow down on chicken n’ dumplins, smoked turkey and ham (courtesy of Uncle Reggie’s back yard smoker), along with various casseroles, vegetable trays, deserts, teas and soft drinks. As we began to break out into our own corners of the house to get ready, Mom pulls me aside and with a smirk on her face, she says, “You know…those shorts have a button on the front.  You have be careful with those”.  As usual, I though Mom had come up with another piece of ridiculous and irrelevant advice since parents are old and out of touch, so I rolled my eyes, and probably muttered something like, “You’ve got to be kidding me”.

My dad was a neurotically neat early bird.  He was in bed by 10 and rose at 5 to go running during the week and hunting or fishing on the weekends.  So, he got grumpy if people made too much noise after bedtime.  Our first house didn’t have a door that separated the living area from the bedroom hallway.  Our second house did, which is good because as we got up into high school, we’d stay up later and later.  So, it was a common practice to make sure that the door to the hallway was shut if we stayed up late.  Otherwise, Grumpy Dad would pop up out of nowhere in his tightie-whities griping about all the noise.  This must have rubbed off on me because one school-night, sporting my new paisley silk boxers (and nothing else), I was trying to sleep (I want to stress…this is not a weekend).  I’m sound asleep in bed when I hear laughter coming from the living room.  I’m annoyed, but you know how it is when you’re half asleep.  Whatever the source of a sleepy-time disturbance, you assume that it’ll go away if you just ignore it, so ignore it I do.  And in my manly arrogance, assume that the women will take a break from their girl talk long enough to realize that they’re forgetting a rule and out of respect for the working men of the house, someone will get up and resolve the problem without me having to waste my valuable time by getting up and doing it myself.  The laughing continues and I just get more and more annoyed to the point that I start to get mad (In my own defense, the door thing is a known rule). Convention never worked well for my Mom’s family but it did for Dad’s.  So, he had his rules and expected everyone to follow them.  This also is not a criticism.  In a Christian household in the 20th century, it wasn’t an unreasonable expectation.  We went to the Big Baptist church every week and learned from Biblical scripture about Men and leadership which offered guidance on how a household should run.  While that masculine perspective is legitimate, I think the 20th century may have placed too little emphasis on the feminine one which is identified in scripture as wisdom, A.K.A. “advice”.  Growing up with a Mom who loved giving advice to a son who loved ignoring it (I ignored my Dad too), I can say from experience that in traditional western society, the feminine perspective that gives rise to all that advice that we like to ignore is way underrated.

Laying there wide-eyed, I know that a rule has been broken, the offenders are aware of their trespasses and I’ve given ample time for the accused to remedy the situation that I can no longer ignore, so I jump out of bed, all huffy.  I throw open my bedroom door and march down the hallway.  I hear more laughter.  If I were paying attention, I would realize that it’s not usual for my sisters to stay up late chatting away like this, I mean it’s a school night for them too, and it must be close to midnight. With my eyes at half-mast I march swiftly down the hallway.  If I weren’t so hot-headed, I would also notice that there are more voices coming from the living room than we have sisters and Moms. But of course my skills of perception aren’t well developed due to my age and so I come through the doorway and round the corner with the words, “What in the world..blah blah blah!!!”, certain that I will find three familiar faces staring back at me. Unfortunately, what I do find, the scene that makes me stop in my tracks, cease and desist all actions, is a room full of girls, both adolescent and grown-up: my sister, two or three of her friends, their MOMS, and my Mom scattered around the living room, all staring, wide eyed, now completely silent. At times like this my brain always goes into panic mode, which for me is not fight or flight. It’s more like freeze or don’t move. It’s like a main power breaker blew, then the brain switches over to the backup generator, and the maintenance crew in my head is trying desperately to locate the bad fuse while the PA system plays the emergency instructions on loop, “1) Everybody keep me calm. 2)Don’t make any sudden moves. 3)Just back away slow”.   While I stand there in shock waiting for the signal that the power is back on, my eyes dart around the room from one person to the next and I see that our house guests are all looking right at me, trying to subdue a smirk or a snicker.

This is the point at which I start to babble & stutter, trying to figure out a way to save some face but, it’s too late.  My eyes dart over to my mom who’s wearing that signature smirk and I see that her eyes are also bugged out. As I back peddle she’s starting to slide slowly forward.  I remember her advice from Christmas morning and look down to verify that, “Oh thank God, I did remember to button the shorts”, but it doesn’t matter. Mom is now sliding towards the edge of her seat and my hopes that she’ll do something to come to my rescue are lost. Instead, she just falls from the couch to her knees and tips over like a felled tree.  Mom crashes over onto her side, rolls onto her back and erupts in laughter. Crap! Now all the girls and random Moms have been given carte blanche to respond in kind without feeling the guilt of impropriety.  When it just can’t get any worse, the best thing to do is retreat.  As my limbs start to regain some animation, I back up a few steps till I’m even with the hallway and then quickly turn and Exit…stage left….while my brain smacks itself in the face mumbling, “Heavens to Murgetroyd”!

Good one Mom.

 

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Looney Liberals

I was talking with a friend over coffee about what it is that makes us tick and why we do what we do.  He asked what it was that made me want to go out and make movies.  I said that there’s no single thing and the motivating factors change from time to time.  It’s a counter culture with a limited life span.  It’s a worm hole into another world with different rules but it’s also what you make of it.  It has a different flavor for each person because we all bring into it a different perspective.  And you have to be serious but not too serious.  I was serious about the work ethic but the culture vibe in college was more laid back.  I kind of went with the flow and being a goof in high school, I brought that frame of mind into it which surfaced every time it found an opportunity.  That’s one of the things about the college years that makes them unique.  Most people at that age don’t have a good reason to be too serious because of the nature of a youthful disposition.  That’s how my goofy disposition was able to coexist with the seriousness needed to do the work.

For example, I loved to goof off in high school.  At times when there was nothing special going on, my mind would wander and I’d think of something funny.  I credit the weekly four hour blocks in my youth reserved for looney tunes every Saturday.  Also like I’ve said before, I discovered my genetic pre-disposition for a goofy sense of humor which explains why, in those days, I was easily entertained.  As a senior in AP English, we read a lot of Shakespeare.  I wasn’t a huge fan because of the erudite nature of the old English prose.  However, a cool component to the class was that our teacher, Mrs. Trawick often showed a contemporary movie in class.  One of them was “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead”, a satire adapted from the play of the same name.  It was absurdist comedy which I found to be really funny.  But, I was the only one laughing.  My classmates were more amused at the absurdity of my laughter than the writing in the film.  I loved the scenes where they play tennis with no ball or test the theory of gravity (that says that everything falls at the same speed) where they drop a feather and a bowling ball at the same time and the bowling ball goes crashing through the floor while the feather floats gently to the ground, a flawed experiment that appears to prove the scientific theory wrong.  When I think about it, this kind of comedy is similar to Looney Tunes.  I guess the thing that makes me a fan of these kinds of stories is probably the same reason why that day on the University Campus, I was more than a little amused when I ran across a group of student democrats that were acting unusually cordial as they eagerly awaited some unknown spectacle near the driveway to the rear exit of the student Union.

The Union is a Grand Mansion of a building, constructed, like many of the classic buildings on the 40 acres, in the Spanish Renaissance style.  It’s a good sample of Austin culture because it’s conventional style contrasts starkly with the buildings that sit right across Guadalupe Avenue, AKA: The Drag) which are more alternative in their style and function.  This eclectic mixture of style is an example of what Austinites call “Weird”.  The Union rear entrance opens up to a circle drive, the middle of which is sheltered by a car port.  The two ends of the driveway meet Guadalupe where thousands of students pass every day.  One day I was approaching the union where the walk angles away from the road to make room for a landscape installation.

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On both sides of the walk, there are short brick walls about four feet high, at the most.  The walls stop where the walk meets the drive.  I had heard that some big political event was going to be held that day but hadn’t been paying close attention because I wasn’t into politics (other than poli-sci majors….who’s got the time?).  So when I noticed a long line of students standing there bobbing up and down, left and right to peer out at some thing or other, I was a little perplexed.  I was in one of my goofy moods and the sight of eager young people in an absurdly ordered single file line with nothing special going on to warrant all that gawking, made my looney sense tingle.  I knew that somewhere in the vicinity, hijinks were afoot (or should be).

That year, I had a fairly new minidisk Walkman which I had gotten as a Christmas gift.  That thing was awesome because it was like the old tape based Walkman but everything was way smaller, the battery was rechargeable, and it was digital.  I used it to record audio for a couple film projects and I remember my friend Mark scoffed that he would not have one because they were too expensive.  However, that semester, I got my money out of it when I used it on my short film about Mikey, my “Stand Up Roommate”.  The results were so good that our instructor, Rachel (Greek pronunciation: “ra-khiel”), thought that everyone else had just screwed up on their projects and giving them lower grades.  They had used the old-school cassette tape recorders provided by the University which were ancient and had the sound quality to match.  “Stand Up Roommate” was about my buddy Mikey, his background as a D.I.Y. comedian and a first effort at open mic night at the local Cap City Comedy club.  Speaking of Mikey, he had copied a Poe CD onto minidisc for me (the one with Angry Johnny on it) and I played the crap out of that disc for a couple years.  Aside from that one song, I hadn’t been familiar with Poe but soon found that the whole album was really good.  It’s style was fresh or weird or counter culture or whatever you want to call it, but a fitting anthem for my film school experience.  So that day, I was probably listening to the “Hello” Album (or possibly a dub I had made from my Ugly Americans CD) as I cruised along on a sunny day, headphones strapped on, lost in my own world, not expecting a detour on my thus far smooth commute to the next class.

At the back of the line with my senses tingling away, I stopped and surveyed the scene, trying to focus my powers of perception and hone in on the source of the disruption.  My path to the south side of campus was pretty narrow because of the walls.  Just enough room for two way traffic on a normal day.  Of course, today it was jammed up with young, hungry minds waiting to get a glimpse of some mysterious sight.  In spite of the large crowd and its indescribable enthusiasm for what must be a once in a lifetime opportunity, the right side of the walk was completely clear.  So, I could get through if I was willing to angle around the oncoming traffic walking in the opposite direction.  looking all around for the source of the bottle neck, I hit the stop button on the end of the cigar-shaped remote clipped to my shirt and lowered my headphones to rest around my neck.  I had just come from the Communications complex which is on the northwest corner of the campus, right on the drag.

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We, the RTF majors had the best part of campus as home base for our core classes.  We were a hop, skip and a jump from Tower Records (which had actual records, as well as CD’s…real handy when you needed to find unique music for your student film score),

the Hole-In-The-Wall which had beer and the best fish tacos around.  Also, there were countless restaurants of all kinds within a five minute walk and a cool, weird coffee shop called Spiderhouse located in an old 1920’s home sporting a hardwood floor within ten.

And most importantly, the 7-eleven was right across the drag right next to the Hole-In-The-Wall which was a one-stop shop for cigarettes, Funyuns, Dr. Pepper and one of my favorites, the pecan praline during those late night editing sessions that sometimes went until dawn when you would eerily sense the sun coming up after splicing together the same two pieces of film three times in a row (dropping an F-bomb each time).

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The Praline is a handy snack because they come shrink wrapped.  You can stock up and have plenty to last you the day as you make your way between classes.  I had over an hour between my last class and the next one so, taking my time I decided to stop off for some pralines before heading down the drag for an elective class on the other side of the campus .  Back at the student Union driveway, the high level of anticipation as well as the strange line-forming behavior peaked my curiosity.  I had to find out what’s the hub bub…Bub.  As I navigate towards the front of the line, moving around stationary people as well as those just passing through, still munching on my first pecan praline, I maintain civility with the regular utterances, “Pardon me, Excuse me, Excuse me, Pardon me, Pardon me, Excuse me”.  There are no obvious signs that the event has begun but I can’t be sure plus, as I’ve said, I’m interested in the behavior of the people awaiting its coming.  As I move halfway to the drive, I sidle up to a girl in line, and turn to take another look at the spectators, this time from the front.  I could see their faces bobbing back and forth and yet, they weren’t looking at anything in particular.  The second thing that I noticed was that no one even looked at me much less did they get angry in spite of the fact that I had basically cut half the line.  Not even the person right behind the girl I was standing next to so much as broke her concentration on the location of this phenomenal event that was surely on the verge of gracing our presence and certain to change the life of one and all in a dramatic way.  I was astounded.  It was like I was invisible.

See, where I come from, you can’t cut a line without risk to your safety (or at least your ego).  I remember at Hubbard Middle School one year, it became all the rage to stand in line and buy lunch from the cafeteria instead of brown baggin’ because the lunch lady had been cookin’ up some mean chicken fingers.  At this age we were starting adolescence, branching out and discovering new choices in grown-up society where you have to get along with lots of other people and make decisions about whether you go with the flow or do your own thing.  For some reason it became an accepted practice to cut the line at the chicken finger station.  Once it started, it rapidly snowballed and after several days got to be a wide spread thing.  One day I decided to go with the flow and cut in front of my friend Lee, whom I’d know from Green Acres Baptist Church Sunday school class going back to the elementary school days.  I turn around and cheerfully say, “Hey, Lee.  What’s up“, then turn back towards the glorious chicken dispensary.  A few seconds later, he taps me on the shoulder prompting my undivided attention.  As he glares at me with his mean face, he says, “It’s fixin’ to be what’s down fooool“.  My bad.  I went to the back of the line

Praline

As I brush off a pecan crumb from my shirt, I have to take a minute to process this gross indifference that the liberal student body has to my blatant disregard of line etiquette.  I’ve only been in Austin for about a year, so I’m still getting used to the laid back nature.  My Looney sense tingles again telling me that this is no time for procrastination so, I have to get movin’.  Having finished my first praline, I peel the wrapper off a second and start munching, dropping more crumbs on the sidewalk as I go, not really paying attention to my snacking habits.  In Texas, pecans are a local crop so these praline things are everywhere.  Growing up here, I probably developed a slight addiction to these and Dr. Pepper too (Dr. Pepper is a Waco TX born native).  I resume my advance towards the source of attention.  Pretty soon I’m literally standing next to the girl at the very front.  Again, I turn around to see if my line cutting has subdued any of the festiveness of the crowd.  Sure enough, as before…no change!  The line had just gotten longer from my point of view which means I now see double the heads bobbing back and forth and this makes me smile.  So I turn back to the front, take another bite of praline.  With my elbow I lean against the wall to my right as I turn to the early birdie that had the best seat for the show.  My L-sense is tingling like crazy now.  Being a smart alec under the circumstances, I wasn’t being discreet any longer.  I glance at my soon to be new acquaintance, formulate a plot, look back at the driveway and take another bite.  Munching away I seeing nothing.  I generally like to do my homework before bothering people with dumb questions so, I thought maybe If I “Do as the Romans”, the truth about what we’re all looking at will reveal itself, so I start bobbing my head back and forth and up and down while checking my form against that of the people who had been standing here bobbing away for God knows how long….Still nothin’.  Finding out the nature of the event is a high priority but the sociology is important too and I’ve not yet gotten any kind of reaction out of this unusual crowd.  Working smart, not hard, I think maybe I can knock two birds out with one stone.  As I take another bite, smackin’ away with my mouth open, dropping crumbs with every bite, I execute the next step of the plan which is to engage the crowd.  Speaking with a wry smile full of sweet, sweet praline, I say to the girl, “MNyaaa…..Waht’s up Doc?”.  Surely this would garner an “Oh Brother”, rolling eyes,  possibly an oblique comment or even some scorn.  I was braced for sarcasm of some kind but no such luck.  My longhorn co-ed friend turns to me and with eyes buggin’ out of her head, she exclaims, “Ohhh.  Hilary Clinton is speaking in the Union today!  She’s coming out at any minute!”.  I take another bite and say, “Ahhhh.  Yaaaaa….that’s the ticket.  Hilary Clinton.  I knew that.  I heard that somewhere”.  With no abatement of enthusiasm, her eyes gleam back a reply, “Yaaa, I know! Isn’t that awesome!” then she turns her attention quickly back to the driveway.  Suddenly, someone yells out, “Here she comes!“.  I finish my last bite and dust off my hands as I notice that indeed, there is a detail of people coming out of the rear entrance, making their way to the cars queued up under the carport.  As they pile in, a murmur rises among the students.  I’m really determined now because I’m fresh out of pralines, running out of time and I need to think of something to get these people off kilter.  Now that I know what the spectators want, the line is even more absurd than before, mainly because of the wide brick walls on either side of the gawkers and not a single person has jumped up there to get a better look…weird!  Haven’t these kids been to Sunday School and sung the song about Zacchaeus and the sycamore tree?  My hands, now free, hoist me up and I take a seat on the wall expecting that my young democrat friends would take the cue and join me so as not to miss this chance of a lifetime to, not just see, but be seen by the First Lady of the entire free world.  I settle into my spot as the cars fire up and make ready their exit onto Guadalupe en route to the airport.  I look over my left shoulder to see if anyone has been affected in any way whatsoever by my disruption of the young liberals’ line-standing code.  Again…Nothin’!  They’re still bobbing up and down left and right in single file!  What the hell?!  Determined, I turn my attention to the head democrat as the cars pull forward.  I’m starved for attention and I’ve got to get some kind of recognition for all my efforts.  As the First Lady’s car approaches, the crowd murmur grows louder.  I notice that Mrs. Clinton has her window rolled halfway down and she’s waving at people but the only person that she can really see is the girl in front because all others are obscured by the wall….with one exception,  me!  At the very front, perched on the wall, I have the catbird seat.  As the car approaches The wife of The President with her waving hand cocked and ready to go, looks up and notices me just eight or so feet away smiling my wry smile and looking right at her.  She smiles back and shifts her entire body so that she can raise a hand and wave at me.

Now, I have nothing against Democrats.  Some of the most active Christians at the various church groups that I call friends are Dems.  I consider them just as much my family as the Republicans.  My actions are not about snubbing anyone but rather a scientifically relevant (how exactly, I’m not sure since I’m not a scientist) sociological study on human behavior in a group setting.

As The First Lady waves, she smiles real big right at me when she notices the big smile on my face.  I do not wave back.    Instead I keep looking right at her, concentrate, and amplify the wryness to a degree that is unmistakable.  At this she is taken aback and as the car passes she recoils a little as if she had unwittingly committed some kind of terrible faux pas, exiting the circle drive with a perplexed look on her face.

Bang! Reaction received.  Mission accomplished.  Bugs Bunny….eat your heart out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lil Chickies, Red Radishes, and Mexican Mama’s

When I got to Austin in the late 90’s there were no high rise condos and the stats showed around a hundred new people were moving here every day.  Having traveled around the country dozens of times, I can say that other American’s just don’t understand us at all.  I’ve been to the South (Texas doesn’t really qualify), the Midwest, the Southwest, and the West coast on numerous occasions and it’s painfully obvious that people interpret us based on ridiculous preconceived notions. I’ve even seen this happen in my own family when visiting the Midwest and here in my own back yard with the steady stream of American migrants flooding our once small town.  This sounds like the beginning of an anti-change rant from an ultra-conservative traditionalist but don’t worry.  I don’t really concern myself with the ills of growth (like high rent and property taxes) since the alternative, economic depression, is worse and Austin was headed in that direction back in the 70’s when the city council voted to keep Austin small with the attitude, “I we don’t build it, they won’t come”.

I’m good with progress, but I also have to insist on respect for our traditions because otherwise it would give credence to uninformed opinions, bad attitudes and capricious gossip influenced by the afore mentioned, preconceived notions.  Like, when I was a kid visiting family in Wisconsin, we were at our regular vacation spot in the north woods.

Boyds Family Photo

Some of the other kids from more local families heard about the Texas family and ran to find out for themselves.  Two kids ran up to my sisters and me and asked if we were from Texas.  We verified that we were and, they demanded that I, “Say somethin’ ”. With confusion, I stuttered, “Uh…what do you…want me to say?” When they heard my accent, they reeled in delight and then ran off.  A few minutes later they returned with five more kids and the cycle repeated, followed up by questions like, “Do you ride your horse to school?” and “How many oil wells does your family have?”.  Being from Texas, we were raised with a strong sense of hospitality so we always assumed that others were laughing with us, not at us.  It took many years’ worth of trips to other places to figure out that our homeland is widely misunderstood.  By contrast, attending college at the University of Texas during the years that the Austin campus became the largest public University in the U.S. by student population gave me the opportunity to meet and socialize with lots of people from lots of places including foreign countries. None of these foreigners knew anything about my culture and so there were no preconceived notions to cause a clash.  Most of them didn’t even realize that I had an accent.

Roberto was one of my college roommates, and to this day he’s still a good friend.  Sounds foreign right?  That’s because he’s from Mexico…..which makes him a “Mexican”. One day Roberto, his girlfriend Semone and I were hanging out at an Austin event joking around.  Being from south of the border, he and his girl were doing that Mommy, Daddy latin PDA thing.  Jokingly I made a comment about how I needed to get me a “Mexican Mama”.  Roberto and Semone thought this was funny and we all laughed.  A bystander overheard the comment and was not as amused.  A transplant who had just rolled off the turnip truck from the east coast, she approached with a look of solidarity and interjected with, “Uh, excuse me. The correct terminology is Hispanic”.  With astonishment we all turned to look at her as she stood there waiting for an apology with her arms crossed. Then we looked at each other and my two friends grinned at me waiting to see what I’d say.  I was also amused as I tried to figure out if she was serious or not.  Her look said that she was and so, the first thought to come to mind was, “Uh…No.  Actually the “correct” terminology would be middle eastern or American since my friend (that I’ve known for over two years, last name Elhaj) was born into a Texas family that emigrated from Iran over three generations ago and they all grew up in Houston”.  But I didn’t say that because I felt it would have been rude.  I was an idealistic and conscientious student, and my attitude towards the University institution was that its knowledge should be held in the highest regard.  I was studying the science of communications which obligates me to adhere to the SMCR model that describes the structure of dialogue for the purposes of responsibly dealing with the social problematic identified by the Maxim, “The nature of communication is mis-communication”.  So rather than be a smart alec, I kindly turned to the Neo-Austinite and said, “I think you mis-understand.  In order to know what I mean, you should know a little more about my background”, at which point I begin to recount the story of my genetic goofiness that I got from my dad, that he got from his dad (the whitest white guy to ever be born, 110% Scandinavian) who married an Italian immigrant girl (My Grandma) in the 1940’s when many Italians were heavily discriminated against.

Gma_mowers ad

Grandma Naleid

My Grandpa Naleid was from a wealthy family.  His dad, my Great Grandpa Art, was the son of immigrants from Norway.  As a kid, his family was too poor for him to finish school so, instead of going to High School, his mom insisted that he get a job in order to support the family.  The rumor is that he never forgave her for that but did as he was told.  Without a degree, he eventually found a job working in sales for a publishing company, a job which at which he excelled.  He did so well that he eventually rose to the top of the department and became VP.  His son, my Grandpa Naleid, was so meticulous with numbers he kept a register of all of his finances even as a teenager (My aunt still has it).

Gpa Youth Navy Uniform

Grandpa Naleid

As a teenager, he was given a job at the bottom rung of the corporate ladder in the accounting department of the publishing company and worked diligently for a couple years part time before heading off to college.  His first semester, he spent only a few weeks in class when he was given his first exam.  He stuck around for two minutes just long enough to put his name at the top.  He turned in his exam and walked out, saying to himself, “well, that’s enough of that!”.  He loved telling that story and I think it speaks volumes about his sense of humor.  He then married my grandma, volunteered for the war and after a couple years on a ship, the bomb was dropped, he was discharged, back home to the Midwest to pick up life where he left off.

It may be my Italian heritage, or maybe it’s my Cherokee Native American blood that I got from Mimi, my Mom’s Mom, but I’ve always been a little partial towards brunettes (and red heads).  My Grandma’s family, the Pavia’s, had immigrated from a remote village somewhere in the hills of Italy.

Pavia Family

The Pavia’s in the 1920’s

It’s so remote they have their own unique Italian dialect even to this day.  In Italy the Pavias were Catholic but converted to Baptist in the U.S.  They must have had trouble shaking some of the old world tradition because Grandma Naleid grew up in a household with twelve kids…..TWELVE!  They say that when number twelve hit the scene, the head minister made a special trip to the Pavia household, sat Great Grandpa Pavia down and was like, “Dude…You gotta chill.”.  Apparently he took the hint.  As a youth, my Grandpa’s family lived on Main street only a mile or so from downtown in a nice neighborhood right across from Lake Michigan.  They could afford it.

Great Grandpa/Grandma Naleid were modest and carried themselves with integrity which made them well respected in the community.  As such, their son probably could have married just about any girl in town and still he chose an Italian immigrant girl at a time when this ethnic group was getting to be very unpopular due to the war.

Grandma Naleid wedding dress

Grandma Naleid

Part of the reason my Great Grandpa Art had gotten to where he did is because of his work ethic, a lesson I’m sure he taught his sons.  Grandpa Naleid was an accountant.  He was serious as a heart attack when it came to numbers, but with everything else he was always joking around.  One of the Grandpa-isms that I remember the most is his nickname for women.  Jokingly he referred to them as “Chickies”.  Chickie, being a derivative of the word chick would be offensive to modern liberals but when my Grandpa used it, everybody laughed.  Sometimes it was used to describe family members and other times not.  I remember vividly at family reunions when he would call my cousins chickie, they would die of laughter…and these are very progressive women.  One is a federal immigration judge, another has been highly regarded in the advertising industry since graduating college, and a third is a guide on remote wilderness adventures (if she gets lost, people die).  The reason there was never any offense taken is because everyone knew Grandpa.  We were all familiar and had a common background which makes interpretation more accurate.  !Nerd Alert! The SMCR model of communication shows, to be effective, you need a feedback stage after a message is sent from one person (the sender) to another (the receiver).

SMCR model

By JasonSWrench (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

In a family, you have feedback built into the group dynamic because when there is a mis-understanding, you can’t just walk away.  After years of interaction, and countless cycles of messages being sent (encoded), received (decoded), and feedback requests/responses, you just start to “get” one another.  The same thing happens with roommates and close friends.

The goofy Naleid sense of humor was passed down to my dad.  There’s even a picture of him in his youth, in what should have been a serious family photo, where he’s not paying attention and grinning at God know what as the camera snaps the shot.

Naleid Family photo_1960's

My dad’s humor had the same Midwestern flavor as Grandpa but he moved to Texas in his 20’s where he met my mom and settled to raise his family.  As you can imagine, Texas and Midwestern culture are about as similar as night and day.  So, the Midwestern Grandpa-isms transplanted into Texas Dad-isms sometimes went from goofy to the level of absurd simply because of the irony injected by the new cultural context.   One of the goofy Dad-isms I remember the most is his nickname for my mom…”The Red Radish”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

He was always goofing off with her, goosing her and saying, “you Red Radish, you”.  She’d blush and try not to laugh.  I think that was probably one of the things that attracted her to him…his sense of humor.  I mean, who doesn’t like a good sense of humor?  Nobody, that’s who!

So, back to the original story…as I recount our family history for my new self-absorbed, communication challenged friend demanding reparations since I must have offended the poor “Hispanic” girl who clearly can’t defend herself against the ignorant “white” guy in spite of the fact that we’re both from the same place, have a similar family origination story and were both raised speaking English as our first and only language, I ended my tale with a rhetorical question (a little tongue in cheek) in order to drive home my point.

“Since Grandpa Naleid got his Lil’ Chickie, and Dad got his Red Radish….If I want to get my Mexican Mama…who are you to say no?”

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No Bounce

steenbeck

I played a lot of sports growing up.  I think that’s what gave me my sense of coordination.  How I became adept at falling I can only guess.  Maybe it was my creative side that, in my youth, created in me a tendency to walk around with my head in the clouds.  My mom once commented that creativity was a virtue that I got from my grandfather, the singer/songwriter.  Or maybe the ultra conservative media critics of the 1980’s were right and I became the most coordinated klutz in Texas because I watched four hours of Looney Tunes every Saturday throughout childhood.  That’s a good possibility because the results were often highly comical.

For example, when I was in the Green Acres Baptist Church basketball league in the eighth grade, I remember once after a turn over, I was chasing my guy who just received the pass.  As I sprinted, my toe landed on his heel tripping me up, propelling me forward on a trajectory that would have put your average athlete face down, sprawled out on the floor.  But somehow I executed a summersault in mid air, came down on my back, and bounce/rolled forward, landing on my feet, kind of like a cat.  It happened so fast that people in the stands were astonished, there were gasps and, after the game, smiling spectators complimented me on my acrobatics.  The same thing had happened a couple years earlier at Pine Cove summer camp when my cabin mates and I were walking downhill headed towards the location of our daily activity.  I tripped on a tree root and flew forward only to pop back up like a weeble wobble a half second later.  My camp buddies were equally amused and impressed.  While I like to brag about these and other humorous challenges to my athleticism experienced in my youth, nothing beats the college feat when I fell off the Dessau Hall stage, backwards, while filming a movie, without knowing it…….. and stuck the landing.

It was our first year in the program.  I didn’t know anybody when I started out so I had to make friends.  I’m not one of those kids who’s been making movies since age eight.  It sounds archaic to millennials with smart phones but in the 80’s VHS camcorders were like $$$ two grand $$$ and my family was too low on the income scale to justify spending that kind of bling on a “luxury item”.  If there were any events to be filmed such as me or my sisters playing sports, my dad would borrow a camera for the day and he was very clear that this was a tool, “not a toy”.  So when I started film school, I had to be proactive in learning the craft as well as networking with classmates who had already paired up and formed groups.  By the second production class, I had built a reputation for being somewhat skilled because In Production I, I had gotten to direct one of the semester end multi-cam studio projects with a really good blues band and the production turned out well in spite of the ambitious multiscreen rear projection set design that we implemented.  So When I approached Bryan and Mark about teaming up for various projects, I already had a little street cred.  Our program used a co-op type structure in that we all wrote and produced our own films and helped each other out as crew.  Bryan was in a band called The Roam.  His dad had been the keyboard player in Buck Owens’ band on Hee-Haw, a sketch comedy show from the 1980’s which means he was from California, but his mom was from the Texas Hill Country which, I suspect, was the reason he came back to Texas for college after their divorce.  Mark was a native Austinite who had gotten bit by the film bug when cast as a freshman student in the film “Dazed and Confused” an indie film shot in the Austin area in the early 90’s.  These guys were pretty cool and we would end up working on many films together over the next couple years.

One of the essential lessons used to teach film narrative structure is the “In Camera Edit” project.  In this exercise, there is no post production editing so you have to film the shots of your story board in order, hence the name.  We were shooting on 16mm film, no sound, no elaborate blocking of talent,  just basic stories and simple shots.  The camera employed for this task was the workhorse of the mid-century newsreel era…a Bolex.  The Bolex was designed for versatility.  There was no need for batteries because the motor mechanism was wind up, effective anywhere in the world, including undergraduate film schools all around the U.S.  Everything was mechanical, no electronics.  So, the trigger for turning the camera on was also mechanical, a spring loaded switch that the operator would pull towards him or herself and hold until the director called cut and then release to stop filming.  Another peculiarity of the cinematographer’s version of the swiss army knife (Bolex is Swiss), is that there was no zoom lens.  It had a lens turret that would rotate between three prime lenses, usually a wide angle 12mm, a normal 25mm and a long 75mm lens.

Bryan had a story idea and in the true new wave tradition, it centered around something ready at hand, for us that was a band.  Since The Roam had an upcoming concert scheduled at Dessau Hall, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to use these available resources as a setting for the film.  So we showed up to the venue a few hours early and scoped out the setting.  This was a large venue that must have held around 6,000 patrons.  The stage was large and sat at an elevation of about six feet off the ground.  In front of the already deep stage, there was a giant speaker box that extended the performance space out another three or four feet.  Well, we fell behind due to problems with loading the camera.  Once that was ironed out we start filming.  We take turns with the camera operator duties and when it comes time to shoot the drummer sequence, it’s my turn.  According to the storyboard, this sequence starts with a close up of the drummer, then goes to a medium shot including a couple more band members, then a wide shot of the entire band.  The venue operator is getting antsy because we only have 30 minutes to finish up before doors open.  My partners are rushing me as a result and so, in order to get the shots, I start moving pretty fast.  With the Bolex fully wound and the 75mm lens rotated onto the sweet spot, I get the close-up of the drummer drumming away with no problem.  Then for the second shot, I move the lens turret onto the normal position and find that I have to back up quite a bit to get a medium shot as indicated in our chicken scratch hand drawn images.  Since I’m up on a high stage, I’m keenly aware that I have to be careful since the edge is at my back.  As I frame up the shot and find that it’s not wide enough, I look back at my right heel to locate my footing and verify that there’s room to take a step back.  I’m moving so fast that, as I step back, I simultaneously whip my head forward while raising the camera to my eye, so fast in fact, that I don’t even comprehend what I’m seeing until my eye comes to rest on the viewfinder and I register the band standing there waiting for me to get set so that the director can call action.  Well I had to step back several times and check the framing before getting the second shot but, the shot goes off as planned.  Now I’m pretty far towards the front of the stage and we’re ready for the last shot, I have to rotate to the wide angle lens before framing up the shot and finding that, yet again, I’m too tight.  So I look down, step/whip, focus….still not wide enough.  Again…look, step/whip, focus….close but no cigar….again.  This time as I look down, just behind my right foot, I see the edge of the stage.  Just behind that is the giant speaker box.  I say to myself, “Sweet.  That extra four feet is just what I need to get the shot”.  The venue manager comes back around again, nervous as ever and reminds Bryan, loudly so that I’m sure to hear, that doors are opening in fifteen minutes.  By now I’m pretty proud of my pacing and I’m sure that one more look, step/whip, focus is all I need to pull this thing off.  So, sure enough, I look down at my right foot, whip the camera up to my right eye while closing the left so that I can focus as I step back onto the speaker box….with my left foot.

Come to find out, that speaker doesn’t actually go across the entire front of the stage.  The outer edge is smack dab in the middle of the spot where I’m standing so, I step back onto nothing at all!  But, I’m moving so fast, and with my left eye closed and right eye looking through a lens, that I couldn’t tell.  I’m looking through the viewfinder expecting to see the same group of twenty something rockers staring back at me that I’ve seen on every other view through the camera, but instead they’re just gone and I remember thinking to myself, as I fall backwards through mid air like a 100 foot tall pine tree felled by a lumberjack, “Hey, where’d everybody go”?  Then…….WHAM!  OWWW…what the HELL?  I land flat on my back.  Upon impact, people around me, exclaim, “OOOHHHH!” in unison and just stand there for a few seconds, stunned.  Then they come to their senses, rush forward and check to see if I’m ok.  Falling from the height of six feet onto your back is not a pleasant experience but in hindsight, It’s kind of funny since I stuck the landing.  No bounce, no roll, no sprawl, no broken body parts.  I just landed flat, “BANG”.  If stage diving were an Olympic event, this would be judged an 11, Gold medal all the way.  I laid there stunned for about a minute then my partners picked me up and walked me off to rest up.  Not only did I not get a concussion, I didn’t even hit my head.  If I had been aware of what was going on during the fall, then I probably would have broken something but, I held my form.  I kept stiff.  That’s the secret, stay stiff.

After the fall, my crew picked up where I left off without skipping a beat.  We got the shots, finished shooting the film and the concert went off without a hitch.  About a week later, we get the film back from the lab.  Bryan and Mark screen the film without me (I was working on some other project).  As they sit there at the flat bed editor running the work print through the ancient machine, an experience constructed of loud humming noises, the smell of old, hot lamps burning and dozens of mechanical sprockets and gears turning, pushing the 100+ year old medium of celluloid past a projection gate, splashing light passing through the film onto the top mounted viewing screen, they finally get to the drummer sequence.  The first shot goes by and cuts smoothly to the medium shot.  As the third shot pops up, Bryan is like, “whoa whoa whoa.  What was that?  Did you see that”?  Mark pauses the machine.  Bryan: “roll that back”.  Mark rolls the film back and pauses it in between the medium shot and the wide shot, which is strange because there’s not supposed to be an in between.  The budding filmmakers sit there with their heads cocked to the side like two dogs trying to figure out what to think about a strange noise.   Mark, with confusion ponders, “What IS that”?  On the screen is a dingy yellow, cross hatch kind of a thing.  They roll forward and find that the grid like pattern is on only three frames.  Suddenly, they recall that this is the point at which I did my Greg Louganis (or was it more of a Triple Lindy?) off the 2 meter platform, they can only conclude that it must be the ceiling of Dessau Hall and their conclusion would be correct.  Remember that spring loaded trigger?  Apparently, I hit the ground so hard, it turned the camera on…….for about a tenth of a second.

Now that’s, New Wave!


Feature Image: Steenbeck 16mm flatbed ST 921

Copyright Drs Kulturarvsprojekt 2012

License: Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Some Rights Reserved

 

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