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Documentary Shorts At The Riverview, Droid Shots, original photograph edited with Paper Camera, Minneapolis, Minnesota, February 2012, photo © 2012 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


When Liz was asked what movie she wanted to see before a belated birthday dinner at Blackbird, she chose the Oscar Nominated Short Documentary films at the Riverview Theater in Minneapolis. The filmmakers took us around the world, Baghdad to Birmingham, Pakistan to Japan. The presentation included four of the five films nominated for an Oscar in the Short Documentary category for 2012: Incident in Baghdad, Saving Face, The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, and The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement. (The fifth nominee, God Is The Bigger Elvis could not be shown due to licensing issues.)

In 130 minutes, I swept through a full range of emotions. Saving Face moved me to tears one minute; the next I was smiling with the big hearted doctor who traveled to Pakistan to reconstruct the acid scarred faces of women attacked by their husbands. Incident in New Baghdad horrified me and reminded me how sheltered most Americans have been from the ravages of two wars.

The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom had a visual yin and yang quality. Grief, destruction, devastation, and loss following the tsunami in northern Japan; delicate blossoms of centuries old cherry trees restore hope in ways “beautiful but not showy.” James Armstrong, The Barber of Birmingham, walked steady and strong through decades of the Civil Rights Movement, and listened closely when he cut the hair of Dr. Martin Luther King. His mantra: “Dying isn’t the worst thing a man can do. The worst thing a man can do is nothing.”

The men, women, and children in these documentaries survived against all odds. They are impeccable warriors who teach me to pay attention, find my voice, and not be afraid to speak out. They teach me to show gratitude for the gift that is my life. They teach me about courage.  Through hardship and injustice, they show up and tell their stories to filmmakers who ensure their stories are heard. I hope you take the opportunity to see these films. They will inspire you to live life to the fullest, to take risks with your art and writing, and walk the way of the peaceful warrior.



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Incident in New Baghdad – 25 minutes – USA – James Spione

One of the most notorious incidents of the Iraq War – the July 2007 slayings of two Reuters journalists and a number of other unarmed civilians by US attack helicopters – is recounted in the powerful testimony of American infantryman Ethan McCord whose life was profoundly changed by his experiences on the scene.


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Saving Face – 40 minutes – Pakistan/USA – Daniel Junge, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy

Every year hundreds of people — mostly women — are attacked with acid in Pakistan. The HBO Documentary SAVING FACE follows several of these survivors, their fight for justice, and a Pakistani plastic surgeon who has returned to his homeland to help them restore their faces and their lives.


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The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom – 39 minutes – Japan/USA – Lucy Walker

Survivors in the areas hardest hit by Japan’s recent tsunami find the courage to revive and rebuild as cherry blossom season begins. A stunning visual poem about the ephemeral nature of life and the healing power of Japan’s most beloved flower.


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The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement – 25 minutes – USA – Gail Dolgin and Robin Fryday

Mr. James Armstrong is an 85-year-old barber, a “foot soldier” and a dreamer whose barbershop in Birmingham, Alabama has been a hub for haircuts and civil rights since 1955. The dream of a promised land, where dignity and the right to vote belong to everyone, is documented in photos, headlines and clippings that cram every inch of wall space in his barbershop. On the eve of the election of the first African American president, the Barber of Birmingham sees his unimaginable dream come true.

-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, February 22th, 2012. Read more about the films at the links and watch a trailer at the Riverview website.

-related to posts: And The Oscar Goes To…, Eloquent Nude At The Riverview

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Ellen Fullman In MN On McKnight Visiting Composer Fellowship -- Patterns Of Long String Instrument

Ellen Fullman In MN On McKnight Visiting Composer Fellowship — Patterns Of Long String Instrument, BlackBerry Shots, St. Paul, Minnesota, November 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


November opens Season 22 of the Strange Attractors series at Fine Arts Studio 677. Strange Attractors is a Festival of eXperimental InterMedia Arts located on the campus of Metro State in St. Paul, Minnesota. The program was created and is run by musician/composer David Means, Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Program in Experimental Music and Intermedia Arts. The venue has a long history of presenting innovative, cutting edge musicians and artists. Last night, composer Ellen Fullman deconstructed the last 30 years of her work and presented history and video on the development of the Long String Instrument.

In 1981, Ellen created an installation of dozens of wires, 50+ feet in length, tuned in Just Intonation and bowed with rosin-coated fingers. It takes 70 feet of space and 10 hours to set up the Long String Instrument for performance and Ellen sometimes brings in engineers to help her anchor the hardware. When the performance begins, only the strings are lit up as she slow walks the stage, making it look as though she is floating on air. The results are a meditative blend of music and sound art, the experience compared to standing inside a giant grand piano. Or, as Biba Kopf wrote in The Wire, “like you are inside some cyclopean subterranean grotto…jeweled walls glistening with an alien lustre.”


In her Artist Statement, Ellen says:

My music explores natural tunings based on the physics of vibrating strings. Through observation, I have determined that there is an optimal bowing speed in which strings speak most clearly in the longitudinal mode, presumably based on a relationship to the speed of the wave moving through the material, which in turn regulates the pace of the walking performer. In the late 1980s I conceived of a graphic notation system that still functions as the basis for scoring my work, where timing and coordination of parts are determined by distance walked.

It is always a treat to be privy to the history and process of a writer or artist. And after the presentation, we discussed Ellen’s brush with Elvis in Memphis (her hometown) at age 1 and the rigors of traveling and working on the road. Ellen also spent time in the Twin Cities after graduating from the Kansas City Art Institute. Her 1980 piece Streetwalker, took us back to the red-light district of Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis, where she walked down the street in platform shoes and a sheet metal skirt rigged to spring musical tones with each step. Last night’s presentation ended with Ellen’s current work and the spiritual and meditative aspects in the evolution of the Long String Instrument.

Ellen Fullman has collaborated with composer Pauline Oliveros, choreographer Deborah Hay, and has performed in venues in Europe, Japan, and the Americas. She is in Minnesota on a McKnight Visiting Composer Fellowship and currently resides at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato. Ellen has three more performances coming up at the college on November 15th, 16th, and 17th. If she’s ever in your area of the planet, check out her performance art. It is an inspiration.


Deep Listening Band and the Long String Instrument performance of Suspended Music – TexasTravelTexture by Ellen Fullman with Nigel Jacobs and Elise Gould, and Deep Listening Band: Pauline Oliveros, Stuart Dempster, and David Gamper, posted on YouTube by Ellen Fullman.


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My refrigerator looks old but it’s not. We bought it this year, from a company in Boulder, Colorado, that makes retro appliances. Our fridge is a crisp white, matches the old Chambers stove, which really is old. Both have rounded edges. The fridge has a Whirlpool motor and doesn’t make a whole lot of sound, not the way some old fridges do. But I guess that’s because ours isn’t old; it’s new. Most importantly, it fits into the predefined space for the fridge, a space that happens to have been designed in the 1950s, when the house was built. Which means it won’t fit a year 2010 refrigerator, even if we wanted one.

Which we don’t. No, our retro fridge is a handsome appliance. It makes me think about Pablo Neruda’s sensuous Oda a las cosas. Ode to things. Our refrigerator is shiny, and the name of the company that manufactured it appears on a nameplate with retro cursive handwriting, the kind that evokes images of old majestic cars from the 1950s. Buick. Cadillac. Chevrolet.

Honestly, I don’t even know what the majestic cars were back then. I was born in 1961, but most of my memory is set in the 1970s. I suppose this fridge of ours is reminiscent of June and Ward Cleaver, but I like to think it could also have fit in the home of the Brady Bunch. You know, Alice, the maid, and how she wore that blue dress with the white apron, and the six kids, three boys and three girls, all the exact same age, who often filed down the stairs and ended up in the kitchen, hungry.

I bet when they looked in their fridge they found things like big Kosher dill pickles. Mom always bought us some generic brand pickle, not the crispy Koshers that I buy for the girls. Although when I was a kid, we ate our generic pickles without complaint, and when we finished them off, we drank the pickle juice. And we ate carrots that we peeled and dipped in white vinegar, with salt.

Our fridge, it gives me a good feeling. I guess because it’s such a perfect thing. Why did fridges have to change so much anyway? A few years ago, when we were doing a home remodel, Jim and I went refrigerator shopping. The fridges were so complex. There was the SubZero and the Viking, and the way the salesmen talked about appliances, you would have thought we were buying cars. I think you could keep different parts of the refrigerator cooler than other parts, the way in new cars you can heat one person’s side yet leave the other person at a lower temperature, and the kids can watch movies in the back while your car tells you how to navigate to the grocery store. So it goes with fridges. You want apples at a temperature where it doesn’t hurt your teeth to bite into them yet they stay crisp for weeks? I bet newfangled fridges can do that for you.

Our refrigerator is new but it’s humble. It looks good, and for someone like me, often the way it looks is more important than what it does. It’s not because I’m shallow, although it’s certainly within my repertoire to be shallow. But in this case it’s a visual thing. Jim’s functional, but even he seems to enjoy the new fridge. It is wide on the inside, not too many shelves. We need to bend down lower than with the more sophisticated fridge that we bought for the kitchen remodel but couldn’t use in our new house because, well, our new house is actually an old house.

Maybe I love our refrigerator because it reminds me of days when I ate cheese and mayonnaise sandwiches on soft bread. Not Gruyere or dill Havarti, but plain old yellow cheese. Before we knew that mayonnaise would clog your arteries and that soft bread would make you soft, too, and when the only people who ate chewy bread was the woman in the Nude Drawing class who wore her long braids in two buns on each side of her head, and the only way she got chewy bread was by making it herself.



-Related to posts WRITING TOPIC — MY REFRIGERATOR and FridgeFotos – Assateague Island To Frozen Trolls

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This assumption lets us off the hook. “Nothing others do is because of you.” You’re not the center of the world. You’re not the cause of others’ anguish. You own what you do; they own what they do.

That sounds easy. Do I take things personally? I like to think that this particular agreement is not as hard for me as some of the others. I know I can’t recall a time recently when I took something personally. Although, my head is fuzzy. I stayed up late and got up early.

There’s a soft glow in the room. It comes from the orange paper globe lantern that Jim hung from the ceiling. I bought it last summer. It’s one of those home improvement things that you buy and then don’t actually install. I do that a lot with things I buy that I know will make my spaces more beautiful. I have a few paintings like that. I haven’t gotten them framed, or I haven’t hung them yet. There should be an agreement “Don’t get stuck.”

But there’s not. There’s “Don’t take things personally.” That’s what I’m writing about. Feeling insulted or sometimes feeling envied. I know there have been times in my life where I’ve said to myself, “Oh, so-and-so is doing that because she wants to copy me.” In fact, isn’t that one of those things we tell ourselves when we’re young? Don’t our parents sometimes tell us that to help us cope?

I’m thinking now of this playground scene, it seems my childhood has been distilled to one playground scene. I remember standing between two rows of classroom barracks. I’m actually riding on Barbara’s back. She’s given me a lift, and Janine is there, and Matthew Martinez, who even as a boy of eight has the face of a grown man.

Wait, I just got a flashback to my dream last night. My parents had made a video where they’re singing, with excellent voices, in Spanish, some ballad. First Dad, he’s so young and has a thick head of hair. While he sings he’s able to walk up on the walls, just walk on walls. The whole family is featured in the video, singing and dancing. I keep saying to the person who’s watching it with me, “There I am!” but then I realize that one’s my sister Janet. Or, “There I am!” but then it’s Bobbi. At the very end, I see me, it is me, I’m a baby. Mom holds me while she belts out some tune, and I am in awe. In my dream, the person watching the video, I am in awe. My parents and family rock!

The dream must have come from something Jim and I watched on PBS about Little Joe y la Familia and other Latino musicians. I was cooking pork and a sauce made with port wine and balsamic vinegar, listening to the television and now and then glancing over to see who was talking. The guy from Los Lobos was saying how he and his brothers all grew up playing music. They’d buy instruments that they didn’t know how to play and then seek out the Viejo musicians to teach them.

Music was a part of my family, too. Mom played piano, Dad harmonica. They played together and sing, old songs, ballads. Spanish and English both. Mom said she grew up on music. They lived in the country and that’s what they did for fun. Everyone learned a different instrument.

I never learned how to play anything. But my sisters and I always sang. We’d stand in front of the fireplace, even grown women, I picture us standing in front of fireplaces, as if the fireplace were our stage. And we’d sing, silly songs. Going to the chapel and we’re go—nna get mar-ar-ar-ried. Our repertoire was pretty small.

Ah, the timer. If I were in a writing retreat with Natalie, here’s where she’d say “Wrap it up,” and I’d try to write some pithy line that pulls it all together. Unfortunately, nothing can pull together a writing practice about an agreement that I hardly touched on, a playground scene, and a dream about my family making a musical video when I was a baby.




-Related to post WRITING TOPIC — THE FOUR AGREEMENTS. Also see ybonesy’s PRACTICE: Don’t Make Assumptions — 15mins, and  QuoinMonkey’s PRACTICE — Don’t Make Assumptions – 15mins.

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By Teri Blair



Clutter Memorial Monument, photo © 2010 by Teri Blair. All rights reserved.





The town of Holcomb has been on my front burner for years. It began when I saw Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote, built momentum when I read In Cold Blood, and culminated with a road trip to Kansas to see the spot on the map that writer Truman Capote made famous. I was pulled into the 1959 story with everyone else—the lonely farmhouse, the two ex-cons who drove through the night to a place they’d never been, the murdered family. Truman’s stellar writing made me want to see it all—the Clutter Farm, the courthouse where the death sentence was pronounced, and the hotel where Truman stayed while he wrote.

The first time I drove the 850 miles I was a just a sightseer, a tourist. It was a one-time thing. I couldn’t have predicted the story would keep going, that months later I would find some long-lost relatives in Holcomb who had known the Clutters, that I would interview some of the same people Capote had, that I would make the long trip through the relentless wind several times.



Windmills of Kansas, grain elevator towering over Garden City
(seven miles from Holcomb and the site of the trial), Chinese elms
leading to the Clutter farmhouse, and the Clutter farmhouse.
Photos © 2010 by Teri Blair, all rights reserved.





Fifty years ago Perry Smith and Richard Hickock drove across Kansas on a false tip that there was a rich farmer who had thousands of dollars hidden in a safe. Their botched robbery turned into carnage. The two were captured six weeks later, tried, convicted, and hung at a federal penitentiary. The crime was horrific, but everyone agrees, the story would have faded in time—if not for Capote. Though life would have been forever altered in Finney County, it would have returned to normal.

But it didn’t work that way. Truman wrote his book, it became a best seller, and he was catapulted to the top of the literary world. Then Hollywood got on board with a string of successful movies based on the book. Because of one author, there has been a constant, unending stream of people like me in Holcomb. Curious. Prying. Asking. Looking. Bringing it up. Over and over and over. When I interviewed Duane West a few years ago (the local lawyer who got the murderers convicted), he asked why people like me don’t think of something else to do. He’s been pestered for so many interviews since 1959 that he won’t talk to anyone unless they make a donation to the Boy Scouts of Finney County.




         

                             

Finney County Courthouse and stairs Capote climbed during the trial to
the courtroom. Photos © 2010 by Teri Blair, all rights reserved.





In September, Holcomb dedicated a monument to the Clutters. It’s intent is to honor the four people who died: Herb, Bonnie, Nancy, and Kenyon. They were upstanding, involved members of their community. That’s what the monument focuses on, not what garnished the attention: their brutal deaths described in the book In Cold Blood. It was a solid community step to take the Clutters back from Truman and Hollywood and bring them home to their people.

The last time I was in Kansas, I went to the annual Ground Hog Supper held at the Methodist Church. It was the Clutters’ church, the one where the four-family funeral was held in 1959. I sat in the same Fellowship Hall where the mourners would have eaten their post-burial lunch. The room was packed. Just like in 1959. And the people were the same as then—farmers, insurance salesmen, clerks. I liked them. They reminded me of people I grew up around. And I didn’t want them to be bothered with gawkers like me any longer.



Park sign leading to Clutter Memorial Monument,
photo © 2010 by Teri Blair. All rights reserved.





Was Truman right or wrong to tell their story? I loved the book and what it did for American writing. But was it worth the price Holcomb had to pay? Though I won’t pass judgment, one thing is clear: a good writer’s work leaves results. When Capote left New York to set up shop in Kansas, he pulled us in. The pull has lasted five decades. His book kept a wound open. And Truman suffered, too. Researching and publishing In Cold Blood punctuated his dramatic descent into alcoholism.

So for me, for this one writer, I’ve decided to set it down. If I go back to Holcomb someday to visit my cousins, I’ll enjoy the Arkansas River that flows through the town, and I’ll buy a Cherry Limeade because I can’t get them where I live. But that’s it. No more questions.

I’ll just let the people be. It’s time.



Wheatlands Hotel, where Truman Capote stayed,
photo © 2010 by Teri Blair. All rights reserved.






About Teri Blair: Teri Blair is a freelance writer living in Minneapolis and founder of the Poetry & Meditation Group of which QuoinMonkey fondly and frequently writes. (See Letter From Poet Elizabeth Alexander for the latest post on that group and Teri’s piece titled Desire And A Library Card — The Only Tools Necessary To Start A Poetry Group for a step-by-step on how to start your own.)

Teri has written many posts on red Ravine, but this current piece is a follow-up and closure of sorts to her first guest post here, Continue Under All Circumstances, which she wrote on the road during a 2007 trip to Holcomb, Kansas.

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Black Bear Lily On The BearCam, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2010, DenCam provided by the NABC/WRI, photo snapshot 2010 by QuoinMonkey.


If you’ve never seen a wild black bear gently lick her paws, roll over in her den, or blow puffs of winter breath in sub-zero temperatures, Lily will change your life. I used to think hibernating bears went into their dens and peacefully slept all Winter. Nothing could be further from the truth.

On Friday January 8th, documentary veteran Doug Hajicek installed an Infra Red camera system into a black bear’s den near Ely, Minnesota. And not just any black bear. Her name is Lily. Three-year-old Lily is part of the long-term study of black bear ecology and behavior being conducted by Lynn Rogers at Ely’s Wildlife Research Institute, less than 30 miles from the Canadian border. Lily is the daughter of 9-year-old June, and it is believed that Lily is pregnant. There is an above average chance she will give birth in mid January.

The Full Moon in January, which I’ve often celebrated as the Wolf Moon, is sometimes known as the Bear Moon. Last week under the New Bear Moon, I listened to Cathy Wurzer interview Doug Hajicek on MPR. Then Liz and I started following Lily on Facebook. We also watched her on the Today Show. And have been reading bear facts at the North American Bear Center and checking in to Lily’s Bear Cam ever since.

No one has ever seen a wild bear give birth to cubs. Some mornings, I can’t take my eyes off the screen. If the miracle happens, it will be the first time in history it has ever been filmed. Bearing witness. It is a powerful thing.


Lily's Eye On The BearCam, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




To view the magic for yourself, check out these links:






Black Bear Snout, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


-posted on red Ravine under the New Bear Moon, Sunday, January 17th,




Other Local Color posts from Minnesota & New Mexico:

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By Jill L. Ferguson

 



At the age of four his feet first crossed the stage,
miniature violin tucked under his chin, audience rapt
from the first symphonic note. He held and released
each tone picturing it hover like a bird in flight,
closing his eyes into the sound. After the applause,
words he did not understand swirled in the air:
prodigy, virtuoso, artiste. Parents brought
their children to see him. Look at Paul play.
See how he feels the music. Why can’t you
play like Paul? You’re not serious enough.
You need to be more like Paul.
He hated when
parents said that. He wanted kids to like him.
He was just doing what he loved; it was nothing
special. But throughout his childhood after each
of his recordings, more and more parents wanted
progeny like Paul, and more and more of his
classmates shunned him. Playing the violin became
his Damocles’ sword, so he tried the drugs
the other kids dug. He smoked the pot and popped
the pills, snorted the lines and licked the LSD into his
system while welcoming oblivion. Then back in his dorm
he consoled himself with Schubert and Rachmaninoff,
Brahms and Beethoven. On stages far from campus
he still made mad love to the violin. And afterwards,
he ignored the parents’ prodding of their youngsters,
connect with complete strangers, and drown out the
evening’s envy with drugs, drink, and destructive sex.
He repeated the pattern again and again as seriously as he
practiced any symphony or concerto. Then, during orchestra
rehearsal one day at the age of 23, he was called
to the clinic. Now, he caresses his violin
as his lifelong lover, and he is positive
no one should want to be like Paul.





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Jill L. Ferguson won the Out of The Blue Films, Inc. ENVY Contest at red Ravine for poem/prose Like Paul. As 1st Prize winner, Jill received an Amazon Kindle.

You can find out more about Jill at her website and review books she has authored and co-authored at this Amazon link.

Congratulations, Jill, from Out of The Blue Films, Inc. and red Ravine!




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red Ravine is not liable for any actions by Out of The Blue Films, Inc., nor the Film. red Ravine has no legal responsibility for any outcomes from the contest.

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By Barbara Rick

 
 
Envy*, THE DOCUMENTARY (the movie you wish you made)

 
 
 
We at Out of The Blue Films, Inc. want to spread our appreciation around, nice and thick, for ALL those who have in some way contributed to The Out of The Blue Films ENVY Contest at red Ravine. Whether you sent in work, considered it, or even just envied the idea from afar (you know who you are), thank you!!

To you who scraped your souls and held a magnifying glass up to your hidden agendas—brava!
 
We received inspired works of fiction, essays, haiku, poetry, drawings, photographs—even a comic sketch script that we think would make a really funny short film—from writers and artists around the world.

We are all 21st century pioneers in the wild west of social networking, in particular, using technology to not only create a conversation about new work but to help create the work itself! This is the hot topic at the flurry of film panels I’ve been attending the past couple of weeks up at The Toronto International Film Festival, here in NYC at Independent Film Week, and at pre-launch parties and screenings at the venerable New York Film Festival.

Michael Moore was even talking about it onstage a few nights ago at Lincoln Center in a Q&A following his new film, Capitalism: A Love Story. No ENVY on my part, by the way, nosiree. (Me: lying like rug.)
 
 
 
 

∞ ∞ ∞

 
 
 
And, now, the winner:
 
Jill L. Ferguson of San Carlos, California for her poem/prose Like Paul, a painterly snapshot of the disastrous effects of ENVY on a young and talented violinist. Jill receives 1st Prize in The Out of The Blue Films, Inc. ENVY Contest at red Ravine: an Amazon Kindle.
 
We fell in love with this line:
 

He held and released each tone picturing it hover like a bird in flight, closing his eyes into the sound.

 
You can find out more about Jill at her website and review books she has authored and co-authored at this Amazon link.

On Thursday, October 2, red Ravine will post Like Paul in its entirety, so please come back and read this winning entry.
 
 
 
 

∞ ∞ ∞

 
 
 
 
Our judges found much to love in all the entries; it was tough to narrow it down to a single winner.

We also wanted to include excerpts from a few honorable mentions:
 
 
 
Charis Fleming’s searing essay on a mother’s flash of ENVY at her breast-feeding adult daughter and grandchild.

I gaze at the duo, daughter and grandson, and I want more than anything to tell them both how left out I am feeling. I want them to know if it wasn’t for me, neither of them would exist as they are.

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
Eileen Malone’s poem Beloved Rival.

on and on we went, an abbreviation
of small black-winged envies
drunkenly sucking each other’s blood

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
By a fourth writer, who wishes to remain Anonymous, a short story about WWEM or the Woman Who Envies Me.

The woman in question is a known screenwriter and actor, a mother, a wife, the author of two successful books, a person of financial means and connections, and enjoys excellent health. Except for her ENVY. The beauty of this story, the lesson for me, lies in its mystery. It is quite clear that she envies me desperately (the symptoms are all there; I recognize them from my own inner life). If I could find her in a moment of quiescent spirit, I could try to ask her why. There is no doubt in my mind that the answer would educate me deeply. No doubt whatsoever.

 





Last but not least, Patricia Anders in Calabasas, California submitted an evocative drawing depicting ENVY.

This and each of the honorable mentions will be published wholly in separate posts next week.



∞ ∞ ∞





Please work with us at Out of The Blue Films, Inc. to broaden and deepen the connection seeded here on red Ravine.

Here are three things you can do to keep the conversation growing:

  1. “Fan” us at facebook.com/Outofthebluefilms and tinyurl.com/ENVYonfacebook and tell us how you’d like to get involved with Team ENVY.
  2. Follow us and bring your friends (!) to our pages on twitter: ENVYthedoc, brickdoc, OuttaTheBlu.
  3. Meet us at our new blog.envydoc.com.


There, and here at red Ravine, we’ll discuss some of the ways we might use some of the entries in the film, flash you glimpses of the film and our creative process, behind-the-scenes action (and procrastination), funding dramas and successes, as we march ever forward in the making of this multi-disciplinary mega-platform documentary film project which will tell the true story of ENVY. Asking you for input, ideas, and to share in the exhilaration of it, all along the way.

Thank you to ybonesy and QuoinMonkey for an amazing experiment in creative collaboration! Remember to check back later this week to see the full winning entry, and next week for the honorable mentions.

Gratitude to all!

 

 

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red Ravine is not liable for any actions by Out of The Blue Films, Inc., nor the Film. red Ravine has no legal responsibility for any outcomes from the contest.

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Just a quick note to let our readers know that the staff of Out of The Blue Films, Inc. is in the thick of reviewing submissions to the “ENVY Contest,” which closed on August 15. The lucky winner will receive a brand new Amazon Kindle, the reading wireless device that you hold in your hands like a book and that can carry in its memory thousands of books.

We will post information on red Ravine about the winning entry by the end of September. We’d like to thank all our readers who took interest in the topic, and especially those who entered the contest. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for ya (‘all).

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________

red Ravine is not liable for any actions by Out of The Blue Films, Inc., nor the Film. red Ravine has no legal responsibility for any outcomes from the contest.

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Woodstock On Vinyl, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 
For last week’s 40th anniversary of Woodstock, I spent a few hours in the studio listening to a vintage copy of the original 3-set Woodstock album on vinyl. Then Liz and I met up with a fellow group of geocachers at the Lake Harriet Band Shell for a potluck and the live music of Woodstock Re-Rocked.

Providence conspired in our favor. Liz’s “parking angels” were in full swing when we drove into the only spot left in the jammed lot next to the band shell. The wind shifted and ferocious bundles of black storm clouds heading straight for us diverted west. We opened our portable lawn chairs, slipped a few flowers in our hair, and rocked out to Santana, Crosby Stills, Nash & Young, Canned Heat, and Jimi Hendrix.

Liz wore patchouli and a tie dye T-shirt. The air temperature was a cool 72 degrees and at dusk we wrapped up in blankets. The Music in the Parks concert event coordinator broke out in her version of Janis Joplin’s Mercedes Benz right before the outdoor screening of an expanded edition of Woodstock. Released on June 9, 2009 in Blu-Ray and DVD, the remastered 40th Anniversary Edition of the film features 19 new performances, adding two extra hours of rare footage.

 

The Woodstock concert was billed as An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music. The Woodstock “dove” symbol was originally drawn as a catbird.

Here are a few other fun facts that were read aloud at Lake Harriet before the film rolled. (I jotted them down in one of my new pocket notebooks):

 

  • people who abandoned their cars walked an average of 15 miles to the stage
  • 250,000 people never made it to Woodstock that day
  • 17 miles of bumper to bumper traffic piled up
  • $18 was the 3-day price of admission
  • 18 doctors saw 6000 patients with 50 additional doctors flown in from NYC
  • only 33 people were arrested for drug charges
  • there were 15 cauldrons of rice-raisin combo made by Lisa Law and the Hog Farm
  • 60 public telephones
  • a lone 80 foot stage
  • 150 volunteer cops, 346 NYC policemen who volunteered
  • 450 unfenced cows
  • 600 portable toilets
  • 1300 lbs of food ferried in by emergency copters
  • cost was $50,000 to use Yasgur’s farm
  • 315,000 feet of film was shot, 120 hours straight through
  • 1/2 million long distance calls made first day of festival
  • 1/2 million franks eaten the first day

 

In 1996, the movie Woodstock was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” I was too young to attend the concert. But the year I entered high school, the movie Woodstock was released and 400,000 ripples from Max Yasgur’s 600 acre dairy farm could be heard echoing through the halls of Red Land. We are still celebrating the music 40 years later.

Yet I have to be honest — after almost 45 minutes of long, drawn out guitar riffs from the Grateful Dead, Canned Heat, and Creedence Clearwater Revival, we left before the screening ended. It was already 11:30 p.m. and Liz had to work early the next morning. Maybe I’m getting too old to make it through two extra hours of Woodstock. Still, when we drove by the shadow of the Lake Creature on our way home, we felt peaceful and full from the experience, a Summer night of music in the park with Woodstock fans, old and young.

 
 

 
 

I’m looking forward to Ang Lee’s new film Taking Woodstock scheduled to be released August 28th. The movie is based on the memoirs and memories of Elliot Tiber. In 1969, Tiber was an interior designer in Greenwich Village. That June he’d been at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in the Village, when patrons fought back against police brutality, touching off the modern Gay Rights movement.

Elliot Tiber felt empowered by Stonewall but still staked to the family business – a run-down Catskills motel called the El Monaco. He moved back to save the motel and became instrumental to Woodstock by offering a permit and connecting Michael Lang of Woodstock Ventures with Max Yasgur, gestures that would mark his place in Woodstock history.

I want to wrap up with my favorite piece of nostalgia about the concert. The iconic cover of Woodstock was shot by photographer Burk Uzzle, a Life magazine alumnus and a member of the elite Magnum photo agency (Uzzle also shot the funerals of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy). During a year of great violence, the 1969 photo exudes a sense of peace.

The couple in the famous photograph, Nick Ercoline and Bobbi Kelly, are still together (here’s what they look like now). They had dated for only 10 weeks when their photo was taken by Uzzle (unknown to them until the Woodstock album came out). Nick and Bobbi, now 60 years old, married two summers after Woodstock and are going strong.

To me, that’s what Woodstock was really about.

The love.

 

 

Woodstock At The Lake Harriet Band Shell, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

Resources:

 

-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

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Farrah Fawcett as Jill Munroe circa 1978 (public domain)Oodles of words have been spilled about the deaths this past Thursday of both Farrah Fawcett, at age 62, and Michael Jackson, age 50, and oodles more will be said. There’s little I can add, except perhaps this. 

When I think back to my youth in the 1970s, I will fondly remember one gift among the many that these pop icons gave us, and that is their hair.

Ah, Farrah’s mane. Long, thick. My God, did she ever have thick hair! And all different shades of blonde on one head.

She was Jill, the sexy athletic Angel. Sabrina (Kate Jackson) was the smart Angel and Kelly (Jaclyn Smith) the girl next door. But we all wanted to be Jill. Or at least, most the girls in my graduating class did.

We knew nothing of “blow-outs” then. Why today, with the right cut, I could replicate a Farrah Fawcett hairdo in no time, thanks to styling gels, leave-in conditioners, multi-sized barrel curling irons, diffusion blow dryers, and round bristle brushes. But back then we had few tools at our disposal.

Class of 1979, high school graduation portrait, me donning a bad Farrah Fawcett hairstyle, 1979, image © 2009 by ybonesy, all rights reservedNonetheless, I tried my best to turn my frizz into Farrah’s layered mane. As seen in my high school graduation photo, I managed to feather my bangs, which I did by slowly pulling out (and in the process, singeing) the strands of hair clamped in my curling iron.

I settled with partial feathers, a sort of ready-for-take-off look that alone required hours to achieve. The rest of my curls I left be, except for the very ends, which I halfway straightened.

Some girls were excellent at emulating the ‘do, and I was excellent at hating them and their blonde streaks. But most girls, like me, failed miserably at transforming their natural waves into Farrah’s sexy look. And then there were the girls, in hindsight the courageous ones of our day, who didn’t even try to, through their hair, be anything other than who they were.




Class of 79, classmate who had the Farrah Fawcett hairstyle down pat, streaks and all (I'm sure I hated her in high school)

                      Class of 1979, a classmate who tried the Farrah Fawcett look (with mixed results)

                                                  Class of 1979, a classmate who went with her own hairstyle




Michael Jackson 1979 (public domain)My hair was probably better suited for the male ‘do of the time, which in the late 1970s was donned by Michael Jackson, pre nose jobs, skin bleach, dimpled chin, and straight wig. 

In 1979, his song Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough was in the Top Ten. We danced to his music and tried his moves. And the most fashionable guys — the foxes, as we called them – wore polyester shirts, vests, and slacks.

Not every boy could pull off a Michael Jackson ‘fro, but this had to be about the only time in the past 30 years where men yearned to possess curls worthy of clown wigs. For some, the ‘fro came naturally. For others, it was just a bad perm away.




        Class of 79, a classmate with the Michael Jackson afro and polyester shirt AND vest

                            Class of 79, a classmate with the Michael Jackson afro and polyester shirt




You gave us many gifts, Michael and Farrah. How can a legacy in music and dance compare to the short-lived afro that even you, Michael, discarded once you hit mind-blowing fame and fortune? It is minor, I admit.

And Farrah, you were much, much more than the sum of the seemingly infinite hairs on your head. But in the late 1970s, those hairs were the goal of every female my age, and I don’t think we have ever worked in tandem to achieve a singular style since.

Thank you both. For being the ones who impressed us most when we were at our most impressionable.

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Coffee (Get Your  Motor Runnin), Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Coffee (Get Your Motor Runnin’), outside Diamonds Coffee Shoppe, a great place to write, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

It’s a rainy morning and I’m slowly waking up. It’s been a strange week. Many irons in the fire, not enough focus, distracted. I have felt like a Duncan yo-yo spinning and “sleeping” at the end of its string. Since most yo-yo tricks are based on learning to “sleep,” it’s important to master the art of spinning. What was it going to take to snap back to the wrist and safely into the palm? Back to basics: practice, structure, community.

Amid continued job hunting, gardening and yard work with Liz, meetings with ybonesy around red Ravine, I’m researching and doing the ground work for a new mandala on canvas, progress on a series that’s been in my head for a while. And after Art-a-Whirl, I was reenergized for the writers’ photo series I’m working on. But I also have a commitment to honor from the last Kansas City writing retreat, a goal to focus on writing memoir essays for print submission — half day, 3x a week, mornings.

Where do I spend my time? It’s a matter of prioritizing the structure of each day. And staying grounded. Do other writers and artists struggle in this way? Is it a block or simply fear. Is there too much on the plate? Or do I just need to settle down and get back on track.

I carry creative projects in the belly a long time. Then they spew out all at once and nearly whole. It is the way I have always worked. I hold my work close to the vest, only talking to a few trusted people. It often takes a deadline to push me to completion. This is good to know.

Another thing that grounds me is looking to writers and artists who have gone before; their sage advice is hard earned and welcome. Recently, I perused paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe, the infrared photographs of Minor White, and a book of Judy Chicago’s stunning clay work in The Dinner Party. I’m inspired by the work of others; it wakes me up.

 
 

Grounding, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Grounding, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Grounding, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Grounding, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

I also pulled Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft off the shelf. I read it years ago, before I called myself a writer. It’s on my list of classic books on writing — books I go back to when I need to feel that it’s okay to be struggling. I’ve always been fond of the way he dealt with rejection slips early in his career. I have never forgotten it:

 

I had a desk beneath the room’s other eave, my old Royal typewriter, and a hundred or so paperback books, mostly science fiction, which I lined up along the baseboard. On my bureau was a Bible won for memorizing verses in Methodist Youth Fellowship and a Webcor phonograph with an automatic changer and a turntable covered in soft green velvet. On it I played my records, mostly 45s by Elvis, Chuck Berry, Freddy Cannon, and Fats Domino. I liked Fats; he knew how to rock, and you could tell he was having fun.

When I got the rejection slip from AHMM, I pounded a nail into the wall above the Webcor, wrote “Happy Stamps” on the rejection slip, and poked it onto a nail. Then I sat on my bed and listened to Fats sing “I’m Ready.” I felt pretty good, actually. When you’re still too young to shave, optimism is a perfectly legitimate response to failure.

By the time I was fourteen (and shaving twice a week whether I needed to or not) the nail on my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.

  -from On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King, Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, ©2000

 
His perseverance, what Natalie teaches as Continue Under All Circumstances, Don’t Be Tossed Away, has always stuck with me. Do you have books you turn to when you feel ungrounded or like your head is going to fly off the top of your spine? If you do, pull them off the shelf again when you get stuck. They will turn you around.

Below are a few tips plucked from paragraphs in On Writing. They were easy to find; they jumped out from the page in fluorescent yellow, the highlighter I used 9 years ago. Ah…..I feel better already.

 
 

10 Tips On Writing From Stephen King

     

  1. If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut….Every book has its own lesson or lessons, and quite often the bad books have more to teach than the good ones.
  2.  

  3. There is a muse, but he’s not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your typewriter or computer station. He lives in the ground. He’s a basement guy. You have to descend to his level…there’s stuff in there that will change your life.
  4.  

  5. Write what you like, then imbue it with life and make it unique by blending in your own personal knowledge of life, friendship, relationships, sex, and work. Especially work. People love to read about work. God knows why, but they do….What you need to remember is that there’s a difference between lecturing about what you know and using it to enrich the story. The latter is good. The former is not.
  6.  

  7. Description is what makes the reader a sensory participant in the story. Good description is a learned skill, one of the prime reasons why you cannot succeed unless you read a lot and write a lot…You can only learn by doing. For me, good description usually consists of a few well-chosen details that will stand for everything else. In most cases, these details will be the first ones that come to mind.
  8.  

  9. I would argue that the paragraph, not the sentence is the basic unit of writing—the place where coherence begins and words stand a chance of becoming more than mere words. If the moment of quickening is to come, it comes at the level of the paragraph. It is a marvelous and flexible instrument that can be a single word long or run on for pages…You must learn to use it well if you are to write well. What this means is lots of practice; you have to learn the beat.
  10.  

  11. Writing is seduction. Good talk is part of seduction. If not so, why do so many couples who start the evening at dinner wind up in bed?
  12.  

  13. A series of grammatically proper sentences can stiffen that line, make it less pliable. Purists hate to hear that and will deny it to their dying breath, but it’s true. Language does not always have to wear a tie and lace-up shoes…
  14.  

  15. I predict you will succeed swimmingly…if, that is, you are honest about how your characters speak and behave. Honesty in storytelling makes up for a great many stylistic faults…but lying is the unrepairable fault.
  16.  

  17. Before beginning to write, I’ll take a moment to call up an image of the place, drawing from my memory and filling in my mind’s eye, an eye whose vision grows sharper the more it is used. I call it a mental eye because that’s the phrase with which we’re all familiar but what I actually want to do is open all my senses.
  18.  

  19. As with all other aspects of narrative art, you will improve with practice, but practice will never make you perfect. Why should it? What fun would that be? And the harder you try to be clear and simple, the more you will learn about the complexity of our American dialect. It be slippery, precious; aye, it be very slippery indeed. Practice the art, always reminding yourself that your job is to say what you see, and then to get on with your story.

 
 

Grounding, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Grounding, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Grounding, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Grounding, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Grounding, vintage lamp inside the vault at Diamonds Coffee Shoppe, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

Post Script — On Spinning: I wrote this a week ago Sunday and have since gotten back on track with my projects. It’s good to have resources to turn to when I feel like I’m spinning. And to believe that the tide will turn, even when I am rejecting my own process. Writing is the art of rebellion — then snapping back into place. Replace the nail with a spike, and keep on writing. One day at a time; it’s not a race. Eventually, my work will be finished.

 
Footnote — A Little About Yo-yos:  One more historical tidbit I stumbled upon while adding the links on this post. Yo-yos and Slinkys (listen to the Slinky song here!) were popular toys when I was growing up. Did you know that the slip string that lets the yo-yo “sleep” at the bottom was a Filipino innovation? And that “Reach for the Moon,” “Loop the Loop,” and many more tricks in the familiar repertoire of yo-yo virtuosos were created by a group of professional demonstrators, mostly Filipino, hired by the Duncan Yo-Yo Company during the U.S. Great Depression?

The Duncan Yo-Yo Company started in 1929 when entrepreneur Donald F. Duncan Sr. purchased the Flores Yo-Yo Company from Filipino immigrant Pedro Flores. Check out the film of 77-year-old Nemo Concepcion, one of the first yo-yo demonstrators and originator of many yo-yo tricks. The film Yoyo Man was made in 1978 by filmmaker John Melville Bishop. Here’s a link to the film guide for Yoyo Man from Documentary Educational Resources.

 
 
-posted on red Ravine, Monday, June 15th, 2009

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ootb avatar 90 pxls widered Ravine -- a writing & art community blog

red Ravine -- a writing & art community blogootb avatar 90 pxls wide

 
 
Whom and what do you ENVY? Who has envied you? What’s the difference between jealousy and envy? How has ENVY impacted your life?

Barbara Rick, a Peabody & Emmy award-winning filmmaker/journalist based in New York City, and president and founder of Out of The Blue Films, Inc., explored these questions and more in Tuesday’s essay at red Ravine, Cracking Envy (Or How I Learned To Stop Romancing A Deadly Sin).

Now it’s your turn! The Out of The Blue Films “ENVY Contest” at red Ravine has officially launched. This is a call for entries to share your essays, short stories, poems, haiku, watercolors, oils, photographs, and music about envy. One of you will win a new Amazon Kindle. And any and all entries, or excerpts of them, could end up in the groundbreaking documentary on ENVY from Out of The Blue Films, Inc.

Is ENVY the worst of the Deadly Sins? How does it look and sound to you? Can you touch, smell or taste envy? To get the juices flowing, you might want to read a bit of history at WRITING TOPIC – THE 7 DEADLY SINS. Then do a few Writing Practices that you can turn into a polished piece. 

Below are the details you’ll need to submit your work. Contest ends at midnight, August 15th, 2009. Don’t miss this opportunity to feature your work in film. Or the chance to win an Amazon Kindle from Out of The Blue!

 
Amazon Kindle (from amazon.com website)

 
 
_______________________________________________________

Out of The Blue Films “ENVY Contest”

 
 

Submission Guidelines

ENVY is the latest project from Out of The Blue Films, Inc., in keeping with the company’s longstanding mission to tell inspiring stories that explore, articulate, educate, and celebrate humanity. Below are the guidelines for the Out of The Blue Films “ENVY Contest” at red Ravine.
 
 

♦ What To Submit

All original writing and artwork is accepted for prize consideration. This includes, but is not limited to, essays, short stories, poems, haiku, watercolors, oils, collages, drawings, photographs and music. We will accept entries in most formats, but prefer doc, rtf, txt, pdf, jpg, tiff, wav, mp3. Please limit your writing to 1000 words or less, and keep all attachments under 5MB.

 
 

♦ How To Submit

Send all entries electronically (do not send originals). If submitting more than one work to the contest, please send a separate email for each. Write ENVY CONTEST in the subject line, include the following information in the body of your email, and attach your submission:

 
Full Name: (If you prefer to remain anonymous please put the word ANONYMOUS in caps, after your name.)
Email:
Address:
Type of Submission: (short story, essay, poetry, photography, drawing, oil, collage, haiku, watercolor, audio, other)
Format of Submission: (doc, rtf, txt, pdf, jpg, tiff, wav, mp3)

ALSO INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT: “I have read and agree to the terms and conditions of this contest and I certify that this is my original work.”

 
 

♦ Where To Submit

Send all submissions electronically by August 15th to Out of The Blue Films, Inc. at contest@outofthebluefilms.com.

 
 

_______________________________________________________

Terms & Conditions

The following conditions apply to the ENVY Contest sponsored by Out of The Blue Films, Inc. Before submitting, please read the Terms & Conditions:

 

June 11, 2009

Out of The Blue Films, Inc. and/or Barbara Rick, Inc. (together, “Producer”) welcome you to submit any writings, artwork, photographs, poems or other materials created by you (all of such materials being “Materials”) for possible inclusion in Producer’s documentary (the “Film”) currently titled and whose subject will be “ENVY”. By submitting any Materials, whether via this website or otherwise, you agree as follows:

1. Producer and its assigns and licensees will have the perpetual, non-exclusive, royalty free right and license (without the obligation to pay you any sums or other consideration), throughout the universe to use all or any portion of the Materials in the Film and in the distribution, advertising, sale, licensing, commercial use or other use thereof in any and all media, whether or not now invented (including theatrical or television exhibition, viewing via DVD, the internet, on cell phones or other devices), and in the exploitation of any and all ancillary and subsidiary rights relating to the Film, including merchandise, soundtracks and books based on the Film. Producer need not return any Materials, however as between you and Producer all underlying copyright and intellectual property rights to the Materials will remain your property. Producer’s sole rights to the Materials will be the uses described in these terms.

2. You waive any claims against Producer and its officers, directors, principals, employees and representatives, assigns and licensees for any alleged or actual infringements of any rights or privacy or publicity, moral or other rights resulting from or relating to any use of the Materials contemplated by these terms, and you warrant and represent that you own or otherwise control all of the rights to the Materials and that the use of the Materials by Producer, its licensees or assigns will not infringe or violate the rights of any third party.

3. It shall be entirely in Producer’s discretion whether or not to make use of any Materials in connection with the Film. Should Producer wish to use any of the Materials in connection with the Film Producer will notify you that it plans on doing so (but Producer will have no obligation to make such use regardless of a notification). If the Materials do in fact appear in the Film you can receive on-screen credit under your real name or a pseudonym, whichever you prefer. You may also not be credited at all if you wish. If the Materials are to be used you should send an email with your credit preference to: info@outofthebluefilms.com.

4. An Amazon Kindle will be awarded as a prize to the person who submits what Producer deems, in its sole discretion, to be the best Materials. The criteria to be used for making such determination will be up to Producer, the decision will not be subject to any appeal and Producer need not explain the basis for its determination.

These terms shall be governed by the laws of the State of New York, and any suit or action relating to these terms may be brought only in the courts located in New York County.

PLEASE NOTE that (i) by submitting any Materials you agree to all of these terms, and (ii) Producer reserves the rights, at any time, to revise these terms, and the terms as so revised will apply to any Materials submitted after the time of revision.

_______________________________________________________

red Ravine is a vehicle for the promotion of this contest. red Ravine is not liable for any actions by the Producer, nor the Film. Any submissions are made directly and solely to Producer and not to red Ravine. red Ravine has no legal responsibility for submissions nor for any outcomes from the contest.


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By Barbara Rick
 
 
envy 1
Envy Green, New York Botanical Garden, 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by Barbara Rick. All rights reserved.
 
 
 
It’s a hard, rotten knot of a word. Sinister. Secret. Has a way of gripping me by the throat and squeezing my soul of rational thought, patience, and generosity. Keeps rolling in like a black wave. ENVY.

After a crushing professional disappointment a while back, I found that I was brooding. Dark and long. Gnawing on the ‘injustice’ of it all. Sneering as I licked my wounds.

I became aware that I — as spiritually evolved and as peaceful a meditation warrior as I like to believe I am — was hobbled by something much bigger and darker than myself. Something slithery, lizard-like and primal. I was on to ENVY.

Touching its long thin tail. Up to my shins in it. And if it was giving me this much trouble, wrestling with me backstage in my accomplished, prosperous, abundant life, chances are it’s doing a number on everyone else as well. 

So I began digging, peering back through human history, and what I saw knocked me out.
 
The story of Cain and Abel, for starters. That’s when Cain, a farmer, turns on his shepherd brother because God liked Abel’s gift better. Cain, who by all accounts hadn’t even given much of a gift, was enraged anyway and ‘set upon’ his brother in a field. At the root of this first recorded homicide? ENVY.

Treatment of the Jews in the Holocaust? Not just the scapegoating, but the Germans preferred to actually lose the war than let up for a second on the extermination campaign against the Jews. ENVY, again.

Driving those planes into the Trade Center towers on 9/11? Yes.

Hostile, implacable, illogical, petty, deadly ENVY.
 
What a juicy, throbbing idea for a new documentary! We are intensively at work on this as we speak at my company, Out of The Blue Films, Inc. Seeking and receiving support and insights from some of the best minds in the world on this subject; scholars and artists musing, informing, inviting, seducing others to look at something most dare not. This film will be a bold, insightful, humorous exploration of the causes and consequences of this most corrosive human emotion.

Why and how is ENVY at work? It has a chameleon nature. First you see it, then you justify. It’s the squirming worm under the rock of history, hiding from the light. Exposed occasionally and brilliantly by Shakespeare, Dickens, immortalized in Salieri’s encounters with MozartIago’s loathing of OthelloCassius’ for Caesar … Claggart’s Billy Budd.

Viscous and vicious… elusive… a most urgent threat: between siblings, neighbors, nations. The evil eye. Often confused with jealousy, which, our ENVY scholars tell us, is often easier and softer for many to admit. Jealousy involves three people, and the fear of losing something you already have, while ENVY is typically between two people: that painful, searing feeling you get when someone else has what you long for and fear you might never get.

It’s the most shameful of the deadly sins, the mother of all others, writes Chaucer.

The driving, writhing force beneath most beloved fairy tales from Cinderella to Snow White. Scholars agree it casts a long, long shadow on humanity and its greatest power is that we are afraid, unwilling, or unable to look at it. Its care and feeding in secrecy under our dark collective psyche is the most damaging of all.

So we are calling it out, conjuring it up, exposing it to the best of our ability.
 
 
 
 

Trapped, Tucson, Arizona, near the Santa Catalina Mountains, 2005, photo © 2005-2009 by Barbara Rick, all rights reserved

Trapped, photo © 2005-2009
by B. Rick. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 
We’re asking you, and others: Whom and what do you ENVY? Who has envied you? How has ENVY impacted your life?
 
 
 
 

London, 2005, photo © 2005-2009 by Barbara Rick, all rights reserved

London, photo © 2005-2009
by B. Rick. All rights reserved.

 


We’re using unique storytelling techniques to tell this dark, dangerous and ultimately triumphant story of human good over human evil — embracing the worst of ourselves to coax out and harness the very best.

What long and twisted roads has ENVY chased you down? When did it sneak up and scare the daylights out of you? Chain your heart and mind? How did you escape? Or didn’t you?

Please share with us your essays, short stories, poems, haiku, watercolors, oils, collages, drawings, photographs, and music. One of you will win a prize: a bright and shiny new Amazon Kindle. Any and all entries, or excerpts of them, could end up in our revolutionary and groundbreaking documentary. No promises, of course. Remain anonymous if you wish, that’s fine.

Shine a light on your ENVY. Chisel at it with your pen or paintbrush – splash some sunlight on your darkest corners. Walk together with us, deep into it and out onto the other side. It will be a hell of a ride.




________________________________________________________________



TOPIC – ENVY (A PRE-CALL FOR ENTRIES)




The  Out of the Blue Films, Inc. ENVY Contest at  red Ravine avatar officially starts in two 

days, on Thursday, June 11. That’s when we publish here at  red Ravine avatar    

the  Out of the Blue Films, Inc. ENVY Contest Submission Guidelines. Your writing or

visual entry may be selected as the winner of an Amazon Kindle.



So come back on Thursday, June 11, to read the ENVY Contest Submission Guidelines. We’ll tell you What creative forms are accepted and in what formats, and Where to send your entry and How. We’ll also provide the Terms & Conditions for the ENVY Contest.

Don’t miss your chance to win an Amazon Kindle, the reading wireless device that you hold in your hands like a book and that can carry in its memory thousands of titles that can be downloaded from the Amazon library — so you can read anywhere, anytime.



________________________________________________________________




Barbara Rick is a Peabody & Emmy award-winning filmmaker/journalist based in New York City. She is president and founder of Out of The Blue Films, Inc., creators of exceptional documentaries on important social issues that ignite positive action and promote open dialogue.

Recent films include ROAD TO INGWAVUMA (ing-wah-VOOM-ah), which chronicles the unique delegation of some of America’s most respected artists and their families to post-apartheid South Africa, and IN GOOD CONSCIENCE, one American nun’s battle with the Vatican over the rights of gay and lesbian Catholics.

ENVY is the latest project from Out of The Blue Films, Inc. in keeping with the company’s longstanding mission to tell the most inspiring stories that explore, articulate, educate, and celebrate humanity.





red Ravine is a vehicle for the promotion of this contest. red Ravine is not liable for any actions by the Producer, nor the Film. Any submissions are made directly and solely to Producer and not to red Ravine. red Ravine has no legal responsibility for submissions nor for any outcomes from the contest.

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Photo by: Justine Ungaro

Lisa Loeb, Photo by: Justine Ungaro

 

On Wednesday, February 11, QuoinMonkey and ybonesy interviewed singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb. It was shortly after the end of her whirlwind tour of the U.S. and Japan following the June 2008 release of her second CD of Children’s Music, Camp Lisa

The CD follows Loeb’s early 2008 reissue of The Purple Tape, an acoustic, ten-song demo she self-released as a cassette in 1992. Proceeds from “Camp Lisa” benefit a foundation Lisa created to send underprivileged children to summer camp.

The New York Times had recently announced Lisa’s January 2009 wedding at Brasserie 8 ½, a restaurant in New York, when QM and ybonesy spoke with her from her New York City home. They talked about marriage and culinary loves, Loeb’s life as a singer-songwriter, practices that sustain her, the work of writing, and tips for those who dream of making it big.

 

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Interview with Lisa Loeb, February 11, 2009, red Ravine

 

red Ravine: In our research to prepare for this interview, we couldn’t help but notice that you seem to love food. Some of your children’s songs are about food, like the “Peanut Butter & Jelly” song from Camp Lisa (which is one of our faves) plus you’ve done the Food Network. Also in the New York Times article about your marriage, we were struck by how acute your senses are when you describe food. Is food a passion of yours?

 

Lisa Loeb: Yes, it’s a thing that I love. Growing up, like a lot of other girls, I was concerned about my weight. I was a dancer, and I loved food. We had to eat in the cafeteria every day at school, and it was sort of a game to find out what they were serving for lunch. But by the time I was a teenager, I went to an all-girls school, and since we wore uniforms, we were especially aware of our bodies and the differences between our bodies. Uniforms are meant to make us seem more uniform, but when everyone’s wearing the same thing, you pay more attention to other bodies. You would notice that you were eating the delicious cornbread muffins or the huge pieces of pie or the doughnuts in between classes in the morning, and it was a struggle between enjoying all this food versus getting larger and larger.

Between my sophomore and junior years, I went to Spain to live there with a family. Every day a younger brother in the Spanish family would run and get me a huge pastry because he realized that I liked it. And at night, we’d eat hotdogs and go out drinking all the time and eat potato chips and all these great Spanish tapas before they were fashionable in the United States. I came home a lot heavier. And it was scary.

It was fun to eat all that stuff but it was not that fun to come home heavier. So then I tried all the different diets that everybody tries. By the time I got to college, I started getting interested in nutrition to figure out how to enjoy food but eat in a balanced way. My best nutritionists were the people who said, “Eat whatever you want when you are hungry, but stop when you’re full. And pay attention to nutrition when you can.”

 

red Ravine: I (QuoinMonkey) met you a few years ago in a writing workshop with author Natalie Goldberg. It was one of Natalie’s weeklong silent retreats where we sat and meditated and slow walked and did Writing Practice. What prompted you, a successful singer and songwriter, to take a writing workshop and what did you learn from the silent writing retreat?

 

Lisa: I’ve always been a fan of Natalie Goldberg. Her writing exercises and general attitude about writing have helped me in my process of writing. At my all-girls school, although they taught me a lot about writing — how to write correctly and how to communicate, read, and pick apart text in English and Spanish – they didn’t always emphasize our own thoughts and having our own opinions. Especially as we got older, they didn’t put as much value on personal opinion as they did on structure, format, and grammar.

With Natalie, she emphasizes just writing. You know, just writing for yourself. That’s something that I think is important as an artist because as humans, all we have different from each other is our point of view, and so it’s important as an artist to bring that out. That’s what she does.

I thought if I could take a workshop with her, that would be amazing. Also, in my life often there’s more time spent on the business side of things than on the writing side of things, and for me structure is very helpful. So to be in a place where the goal was to write for a week was something that I looked forward to.

I’d done something like that for music, where I went to music summer school a long time ago, before I was a professional musician, at Berkeley Music School. And I got to practice. Even when I was a kid, I was pretty distracted; I practiced some but I did a lot of other things in my life. And for once, I wanted to be that person who just got in the practice room and practiced, practiced, practiced.

This was like that for writing, in a silent retreat especially, because I’m around a lot of people all the time, touring in every state, always communicating with people. It was a great opportunity to simplify and be silent. I do spend time alone, not talking to people, when I’m not working. But that was an opportunity to focus, of course, with the great guidance of Natalie and also in the company of people — people at all different levels of writing. I learn a lot from just starting from the beginning. Natalie calls it “Beginner’s Mind.” And sometimes when you are writing with people who are beginners, you remember to take the pressure off of writing, which adds more freedom for better writing and more writing.

 

red Ravine: Most of us who aspire to integrate Writing Practice into our lives struggle at different times to make it a day-to-day practice. How about you? Do you write or play music every day?

 

Lisa: I don’t. Not at all. I’ve gone through phases where I do write — I use things like a month-long tour or a trip to the beach for a week-and-a-half, or there’s a thing in the Jewish tradition called Counting the Omer. When structures like that come up, I’ll take advantage of them and say, “Okay, now I’m going to write every day for this period of time.” Or there’s a Toni Morrison book where it’s day-by-day, a short-chaptered book where she talks about different things in each chapter (maybe it’s called Love). So I decided I was going to do a page-long chapter each day and write something based on a word that she mentioned in her book.

Sometimes I have to create a little game to create structure for myself. Other times, when I know I need to finish, I start. It’s almost like an athlete warming up and getting ready to do a marathon. I just realize I can’t do it overnight, it’s a process.

But yeah, it’s hard. I don’t always write every day. Sometimes when I write every day it gets too easy in a way. Like I am not saying anything and I’m not focusing well. So sometimes I need to take a break from it, too.

 

red Ravine: Do you have other practices that ground you and sustain you?

 

Lisa: I do. I work out five days a week at least, walking whether it’s on a treadmill or outside, doing strength training. Some people do yoga; I do strength training. And then also when I’m in Los Angeles, I go to synagogue on Saturday ’cause I have a cool rabbi that I like.

 

red Ravine: And any other things you do to keep going when you’re feeling down or insecure?

 

Lisa: I have my friends. That’s important to me, spending time with friends. And going outside and taking a walk. Or writing. You know, writing is something I definitely rely on for that. It’s a little weird, too, because I associate writing with my professional life so sometimes I have to remember to step back and write to write, even if it means being like Jack Nicholson in the movie The Shining and writing the same thing over and over.

I do use writing as a tool. It helps that little switch in my brain which I try to avoid or at least let it pass, which is like, Oooh, I wonder if I could do a different song. Or, I wonder if I could do something else where I write. It’s the equivalent of when you’re working out or taking a walk because you want to and it feels good, then getting that little thought in the back of your head, saying, Oooh, I wonder if I’m going to lose any weight by doing this or walk off that piece of pie from last night.

I don’t like associating working out and losing weight. I like associating working out with breathing. It’s the same thing I have with writing – in order for it to actually work properly and be integrated into my life in a balanced way, it has to be what it is.

 

red Ravine: You came into success very early in your career as a musical artist. How did that affect your life and your creative work?

 

Lisa: It gave me a lot of freedom to have success early on. The financial freedom – in my family growing up, having a job was something that we valued, being able to support yourself. So that took a load off my mind. And it gave me freedom to have less worry. I worry a lot in my life. You know, the Jewish worry and guilt, a certain amount of being neurotic.

It gave me freedom, although in the end, I think other people can’t make you feel like you are successful. It comes with a certain amount of self-confidence and self-esteem. But I think that having other people acknowledge what I’m doing gave me more confidence and made me feel like I was more free to continue to make music. Which is very powerful. Because not knowing if what you’re doing is worth anything can be very frustrating.

And I know that even after being a professional musician, that feeling never goes away. That feeling’s always there. Like, Oh gosh, I wonder if this is worth anything, why am I doing this, it’s a selfish thing, I should do something where I help other people… All these things. I love hearing from somebody saying, “That thing that you wrote helped me through this period of my life.” It’s a weird balance of feeling secure within myself, but also as a performer and a writer having that respect from an audience.

 

Also, I want to go back to one other question you asked me [regarding] when you’re in a state of depression or insecurity. I got a lot of great tools from my rabbi in Los Angeles. He’s of a Hasidic philosophy similar to cognitive therapy, where you’re able to look at your actions and thoughts in a different light and turn things around.

He mentioned a time where he was giving a lecture in front of people — he gives a lot of lectures and teaches classes — and he thought, Everyone is so bored, they don’t want to listen to me, I’m doing a terrible job. I think someone might have yawned in the front row. And then he thought through it again using the cognitive therapy and Hasidic philosophy and said, Well, people like coming to my classes so I must be doing something right. The classes I give, even when they’re bad are usually pretty good, and so I guess I’m doing a pretty good job. That’s a simplification, but he’s saying that [we all have access to] those kind of tools.

I want to feel good with when I just sit at the subway station for two minutes waiting for the train and write something there. It doesn’t have to be a magical place, but I have to sit down and write. It can be anywhere. It can be on a napkin in a restaurant. It doesn’t have to lead to a great song. That’s not the best example, but thinking through things in a realistic way helps ground me as well.

 

red Ravine: It sounds like a practical tool for dealing with Monkey Mind.

 

Lisa: Oh, it is. It really is. It’s that Natalie Goldberg thing I learned, we all learned, that you just sit down and write. Things don’t happen overnight. Sometimes they do, but you can’t rely on that. You can rely on just sitting and writing as part of a bunch of small steps that take you some place — maybe, maybe not.

 

red Ravine: We were talking about your success that came early on and we’re curious, too, how your goals have changed. Have your goals as an artist changed as you’ve gotten older?

 

Lisa: I think my goals continue to be pretty much the same since I was younger – which is to continue to try to write better. And also to try to enjoy the process more.

I’ve written songs since I was a kid but especially when I started writing lyrics when I was 13, 14, it’s become more complicated. And it’s always been a hard process. I continue to become more forgiving of myself and more accepting of the process. What it is for me doesn’t have to be what it is for other people.

I want to be a better songwriter. I guess I might have had more business-oriented goals when I was starting out, to get a record contract, to get paid to do things, and I guess I still have those goals. It’s great if you can get paid for your work, which is rarer these days, especially with people trading music.

Also there are meta-goals. One of them is to continue to keep my eyes open for other things I want to do that aren’t writing, that aren’t making songs. And that’s okay to do other things well.

But as a writer, you need to be comfortable with the process. And just keep doing it. It’s hard. I told Natalie…I ate lunch with her one day on the way through New Mexico and I was telling her, “There are these projects I want to develop, and maybe I want to be a psychologist or a nutritionist, and maybe I should teach, but I have these songs I’m supposed to write but I don’t want to, so I think I’m just going to hang out.” 

And she said, “You just need to sit that…I don’t know how better to say it…you just need to sit that motherfucker down and write.” (laughter from all). She’s like, “People say that all the time, ‘I never want to write, I don’t want to do it…’.” And I was like, Ahhhh…go do your homework! I hate doing my homework, I don’t want to do it. And the thing is, if you do it little by little, it’ll get done.

 

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Lisa Loeb 2008 Release, "Camp Lisa", Illustration by: Esme Shapiro, 15, a student at LA County High School for the Arts and summer camp fan.    Lisa Loeb 2008 2-CD Reissue "The Purple Tape"   Lisa Loeb 2008 Release, "Camp Lisa", Illustration by: Esme Shapiro, 15, a student at LA County High School for the Arts and summer camp fan.

 

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red Ravine: You were in Albuquerque last year and my (ybonesy’s) date to your concert was my nine-year-old daughter, which turned out to be great. Afterwards we bought the CD Catch the Moon and my daughter listens to it all the time; in fact, it’s sitting on the kitchen table for her to load on to her iPod along with your hits. You’ve gotten into children’s music and you found a generous way to pay it forward with the proceeds from Camp Lisa and sending kids to camp through your Camp Lisa Foundation. What inspired you to write and sing music for children?

 

Lisa: It was something I wanted to do ever since I was a kid. I listened to music for children. In my day it was Free To Be You and Me; it was Really Rosy, which was a Carole King record. A lot of music they had on Sesame Street and The Electric Company, created by real musicians of the time — the early 70’s — sounded like real music.

I had an opportunity to do a record that was different from my regular grown-up records and I chose to do a kids’ record. My friend Liz Mitchell produced it. Since she’d made a lot of kids’ records, it sounded in the vein I wanted. Actually, she was the one who gave me my first Natalie Goldberg book. She was my singing partner in my band for years and years.

When it came time for me to do another kids’ record, I was going through a moment where I was like, What am I doing? I was trying to write a regular grown-up album and I was writing dark things and spending a lot of time by myself writing. It wasn’t fun. And I remembered that it had been really fun writing songs with friends of mine in Los Angeles, and I thought, Why does it have to be a treacherous horrible experience? I should take a break and do something that reminds me that it’s fun and easy to write songs and express ourselves.

So I got back together with my friends Dan [Petty] and Michelle Lewis, who lived down the street basically, and we started making a summer camp record and it was really fun! And it felt like, wow, I’m a working songwriter, I go to work with them each day and we write songs. And we make up melodies and it’s very exciting and fun; it doesn’t have to be a painful experience to be artistic.

Through that process, I was questioning, Why am I doing music at all? I want to try to do something else to help other people. Then I realized, Oh, wait a minute, maybe I can use what we’re doing to help other people. And I realized that summer camp, of course, [we] could actually send kids to summer camp and also to be able to meet the kids. It all came together — a goal for having a kids’ record; a goal to be more responsible in the community; and a songwriter wanting to engage in a more fun way that would inform my regular, grown-up songwriting.

Also, writing kids’ songs, you have more of a story where you’re trying to say something that people can understand easily, and I think that’s a good tool for me to bring to my grown-up writing. Also when I play kids’ concerts, I realize that some of the more simple songs where I’m writing a tra-la-la-la-la or a chant or repetitive part is a fun thing to play in front of people. Grown ups and kids enjoy it and it makes me realize that sometimes in songwriting it’s not how many words can you put in there, how clever you can be, it’s really just going from your heart, the melodies and the words that just come out. Which is hard to trust. You feel you need to write the most complicated music, but that’s not what songwriting is about.

 

red Ravine: Who are your favorite songwriters today? What songs do you like to hear?

 

Lisa: I have a lot of songs I love; they don’t even focus on the lyrics that much, just the feelings of the songs. I love Led Zeppelin, especially Led Zeppelin IV and the Over the Hills and Far Away album. I love David Bowie music and often I don’t know what he’s talking about but (laughter) there’s just a certain attitude and coolness in his songs. Songwriters? More recently I’ve enjoyed Death Cab for Cutie. Oh gosh there’s so much music that I love. Lyle Lovett is great. Prince. 

A lot of things are abstract and it’s just the way it feels, the music and the lyrics and the feeling of it altogether hits me. It’s funny because it’s not how I feel when I’m writing music. It reminds me that it’s okay to play around with words and feelings and if it means something to me that’s fine; it doesn’t have to be so direct. It’s a constant balance, like I said with the kids’ music, where you’re trying to say something more directly, and the kind of music which I enjoy listening to, which often is more abstract and about the feeling and the production of the songs.

 

red Ravine: When you were in Albuquerque you mentioned that you were attending a Goldberg writing retreat with your mother. What was it like to do Writing Practice with your mom?

 

Lisa: We didn’t actually do a lot of practice together. It was a little frustrating.

What I loved was that my mother hasn’t done a lot of things where she goes away and meets other people. She loves people and talking to people and meeting people, and I thought that social aspect would be interesting for her. Because on my first writing weekend with Natalie, it was a speaking retreat where you got to actually sit at breakfast and talk to people.

And I thought secretly she would get to do some writing. She also went to the same high school I went to and grew up in a time when grammar was much more important than the fact that maybe saying something that’s not grammatically correct might allow you to express yourself better. So I wanted her to experience it for herself. I think that was the first time she was encouraged in that way. It was cool to see her go through that and go home and tell her friends about it.

But we actually didn’t do as much Writing Practice together as I expected. And that was actually a lesson to me, too. If I’m not working, if I’m not writing, I always feel like I’m never writing enough. No matter what it is, it’s just not enough. And I sort of beat myself up over it. I was trying to let myself not have to be a person who has to be writing all the time. And let that be okay. And that was really hard, but that was an interesting turn the other direction.

 

red Ravine: We noticed you studied comparative literature at Brown and we’re curious, how did (does) that play into your songwriting?

 

Lisa: It doesn’t very much at all. When I went to Brown, I picked something that was close to what I thought I liked when I was in high school. One of my favorite classes was Spanish because not only did we get to learn a whole different language and communicate with a whole new group of people, but in Spanish class, we also got to study visual art, film, poetry, geography, food, social customs. You name it, we studied it, but in Spanish.

We learned to take apart poems, and there was great Spanish-language literature, which is some of the best literature in the world. High school, middle, and elementary school education actually played more into my writing than my college experience.

Really college was just what I studied on paper, and in retrospect, I would go back and do something else. But it gave me the freedom to spend most of my time in the recording studio, in the music department and the theater department doing plays, writing music, playing shows. It gave me this kind of thing I could tell my parents I was doing that sounded reasonable while I was actually spending most of my time doing these other things.

It was also like a long lesson in learning that I really need to go with my heart and not do what I’m supposed to be doing. In retrospect, I should have been studying theater or art or music or psychology or just something else. I mean, I don’t think reading Ulysses three times really did anything (which was a painful experience). Experimental things can be boring or they can be interesting. It didn’t take me any further into literature; it was more about theory, but it didn’t inform my writing.

 

red Ravine: What are some of your favorite authors and books?

 

Lisa: I love Isabel Allende, pretty much all her books. I love magical realism. You know where she tells a story that feels like it’s actually happening but within it, just like Gabriel García Márquez, they use these great images and things happening that are magical and you get the feeling that those things could actually be someone’s real experience, even though it might include flying or crazy dreams or people floating through rooms or water pouring out of walls, or whatever it is.

I love the short stories of Roald Dahl. The collection I love the most is Kiss Kiss. And that’s kind of Twilight Zoney using tales that are very bizarre but you can imagine them actually happening. I love J. D. Salinger all the way around. Again, I love his short stories. He takes things that are very mundane and very deep and there’s this beauty and melancholy in the books that I love. Those are some of my favorite authors.

 

red Ravine: What projects are you working on now?

 

Lisa: None writing wise. I’m working on developing an eyewear line that will be out later this year. I’m very involved in the design, involved in the marketing, that side of the company, so that will be out later in the year. I’m also working on a collection of more kids songs for a couple of kids books that should be out in 2010, which will be more like lyrics for singalong songs, some crafts and some recipes. It will be fun for kids.

And I’m trying to finish up some songs for a grown-up record. After my wedding, I returned to listening to some of the songs I was in the process of finishing and I’m actually realizing that I’m closer to finishing an album than I thought I was. Little by little, you know.

 

red Ravine: Wow, eyewear? Because every time we see a photo of you we always just think your glasses are fabulous. How did that come about?

 

Lisa: Thank you. Well, I’ve always worn glasses and ever since I was in high school people would recognize me for my glasses. And I love glasses, especially ones that have a little bit of a lift on the corners — some people say cat-eyes, but they’re not quite cat-eye glasses. Anyway, I love them and I was looking for a perfect pair and people have always asked where they could get my glasses. Finally, we were able to connect with a company that wants to manufacture them and work with us to put them out. Selfishly, I’ll pick up a couple of pair of glasses that I really like!

No matter where I am, I always look for glasses, and it’s hard to find them. You know when you wear them on your face every day? So I wanted selfishly to have my own but I also wanted to share my glasses with other people who are always asking about them.

 

red Ravine: I (ybonesy) will look for them because I always want a lift at the corner, too. Some faces just need that. Do you have any plans to take any other kinds of workshops or attend another Natalie Goldberg retreat?

 

Lisa: I would love to do that. I meant to do it for my 40th birthday but we couldn’t quite get it together and Natalie’s mother passed away kind of close to it. I was thinking, in lieu of a bachelorette party for my wedding, it would be great to put together a workshop of my friends, a writing workshop with people I get together and write with anyway.

Right now my schedule’s a little tight because I’m moving back to Los Angeles and there are non-business priorities that [make it] hard to take even three or four days and go write. For me, and I know for a lot of other people, that structure makes all the difference in the world. And sometimes it takes going away to a seminar to remember that. Even though you can just sit and put your timer on for 10 minutes on your cell phone and write, sometimes it takes a weekend trip to remember that.

Also, something I forget –you’re supposed to read this stuff to other people. You don’t have to write all day for this to work. Natalie always says you need to write less. You need to sit down and write, but you don’t need to write five hours a day, that’s too much, you can’t do it. So I think it’s a great environment for me and I know it impacts a lot of other people as well.

 

red Ravine: You just got married a few weeks ago, so we wanted to know how is married life treating you, and what is a fluffernutter? (laughs)

 

Lisa: (laughs) A fluffernutter is marshmallow crème and I think we got it on white bread. Often we all go back to wheat bread, but for purposes of the fluffernutter sandwich, it was this homemade white bread with peanut butter and with marshmallow fluff. I can’t believe how good it is; it’s a crazy thing. And the texture when you bite into the sandwich, you know it creates that seam when you bite into that white bread sandwich. And it’s just like a pillow of joy (all laugh). It’s sweet and salty and fluffy packed in between these two cottony sheets. It’s delicious! 

And married life is good, it’s really great. We’re at the beginning of this adventure. I love my husband and I look forward to continuing to get to know him and we just have a really good time together, no matter what. We’re a good support system for each other. We both have the same values. He’s not a musician professionally, but he likes to play music in the house, and again that reminds me that creatively, it doesn’t have to be for work.

Sometimes when you just do things for fun, it might lead to something you can use for work. For me, that’s an important reminder not to always be geared toward work. We have a good time and music is part of his work so we both have a lot of opportunities to do music and talk about it and do fun things and meet interesting people. And it’s good to have a team; though you were a team before, it’s a different team when you’re married. So yeah, it’s all good.

 

red Ravine: I’m going to try to get both these questions in, one has to do with the fact that you were recently on stage with Sarah Silverman who strikes us as someone who takes so many risks with her art. And you’ve ventured into many different creative areas with songwriting, TV, and voiceover work. What was it like to work with Sarah and how important is risk-taking in creative work?

 

Lisa: It was great to work with her. I think she’s clever and fun and she’s really nice. And I feel like risk-taking is important but again, that’s relative. For some people it might mean writing a song from the first person instead of third person. Or it might mean setting a guitar on fire on stage. Or not writing might be risk-taking. Like I said, it was scary for me to be in a writing seminar and not be writing a whole lot. But to not be following the rules is a huge risk for me; I always follow the rules.

 

red Ravine: Our last question: What advice do you have for our readers who dream of making it big with their writing and becoming well-known?

 

Lisa: Two things. One is continue to write and to do your own thing. Don’t try to copy other people; the main thing you have to offer that is different from other people is yourself and your own point of view. But, at the same time, to make it you need to be a business person or find a person who can help you with the business side of things. That might mean doing it yourself, getting copies of your book out there, reading it live, being a musician live, or doing something on YouTube. Because part of it is doing the work, and then part of it is getting it out there with an audience.

But first, decide what your goals are. If it’s to be famous, hire a publicist and do some whacky things and get famous. If it’s to be read by a lot of people, start somewhere. Do it yourself. But don’t wait around for someone to do it for you. It’s not going to happen miraculously.

 

red Ravine: Thank you Lisa, really wonderful interview. We appreciate your time, and we’ll be watching for those eyeglasses!

 

Lisa: Thank you. I appreciate the questions.

 

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Lisa Loeb, Photo by: Andrew Eccles

Lisa Loeb, Photo by: Andrew Eccles

About Lisa Loeb:  Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb started her career with the platinum selling No. 1 hit song “Stay (I Missed You)” from the film Reality Bites. To this day, she is still the only artist to have a No. 1 single while not signed to a recording contract. Loeb parlayed that early success into a multi-dimensional career encompassing music, film, television, voice-over work, and children’s recordings.

Her six acclaimed studio CDs include the Gold-selling Tails and its follow-up, the Grammy-nominated, Gold-selling Firecracker. Her complete catalogue includes The Very Best of Lisa Loeb (2006), and two children’s CDs, the award-winning Catch the Moon (2006) and Camp Lisa (2008) with guests Jill Sobule, Lee Sklar, Maia Sharp and funnyman/banjo player Steve Martin. In conjunction with the release of the Camp Lisa CD, Loeb launched the Camp Lisa Foundation, a non-profit organization that raises funds to help send underprivileged kids to summer camp through its partnership with S.C.O.P.E. (Summer Camp Opportunities Provide an Edge, Inc.).

In addition to her music, Lisa has also starred in two television series, Dweezil and Lisa, a weekly culinary adventure for the Food Network, and #1 Single, a dating show on E! Network. Look for the Lisa Loeb eyewear line to hit the stores in 2009.

 

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Breaking Bad Behavior

  • I’ve skipped my usual evening beer these past several nights. I get the craving right about 6, and if I’m cooking dinner (like I was last night) the craving is especially strong to drink a cold bottle of beer while I’m whipping up the chicken tenders and potatoes. But by the time we sit down to eat, the craving is gone and it doesn’t return until same time next night.
  • My new morning-computer-usage rule is that I don’t turn on the computer until a) I’m dressed, b) my face is washed, c) hair combed, and d) teeth brushed. Even if what I get dressed in is workout pants and t-shirt, I don’t allow myself to open the laptop until all of the above are met. Why? I was finding myself on too many weekend and weekday working-from-home days in my pajamas at noon with teeth still not brushed. Gross.
  • My other computer rule is to limit personal usage. Limit to what?, I don’t know, but just curb my time. No hanging out on the computer checking stats every twenty minutes, no perusing political blogs to see what every little move of Obama‘s is being scrutinized, no wasting oodles of time.
  • And on the positive side (no more Don’ts) I will make time for yardwork and painting. I have dreams about both—having a yard with lovely flowers and plants and producing several finished pieces of art for a May 1 gallery tour.



Speaking of Bad Behavior…

Have you ever been on autopilot while you’re driving and before you know it you’re singing along with a bad song? I did that the other day, found myself belting all the words to Paul Simon’s Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover.

Make a new plan, Stan, you don’t need to be coy, Roy, now listen to me. Hop on the bus, Gus, yaaa don’t neeeeed to discuss muuuch! Just drop off the key, Lee, and get yo’self free.

So this morning I am sweeping the floor and generally picking up the house and guess what song is playing in my head? And guess what song has been playing in my head almost every day since I zoned out in the car and inadvertently started singing those words?

Yep. It’s stuck, on a continuous loop. It’s like I was hypnotized and now any time I go into a non-thinking mode, I find my mental airwaves broadcasting Paul Simon.

Aaack! How do I banish him from my head?? Please, someone, help! (QM, how did you finally get Easy Like Monday Morning out of your head?)



Speaking of Bad Songs…

I’ve taken to calling two friends of mine The Skipper and Gilligan. The Skipper is my friend Patty, and Gilligan is her little buddy, Agi. Yesterday Patty and Agi called me to have me tell them again why they are The Skipper and Gilligan.

“Because, Patty, you call Agi your little buddy.”

“And who are you?” they ask.

“I’m Ginger, or Marianne.” (It just depends on my mood. Yesterday I was Ginger.)

Then I proceeded to sing—complete with passion and sound effects—the entire theme song to Gilligan’s Island, which blew them away. Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip…

Yep, I know the entire theme song to Gilligan’s Island, Beverly Hillbillies, and Green Acres. I might know others but those are the only ones I can think of now.

How ’bout you? Do you know by heart any TV series theme songs?


What are your Saturday morning musings?

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The Oscars Official Ballot, found at www.oscar.com




 
I have to admit, I’m not a hard-core fan of the annual Academy Awards ceremony. Usually I haven’t had a chance to see most of the nominated films, plus I’m not into the Hollywood red carpet nor whose gown is the most stunning or the most sorry. And frankly, I get nervous watching an actor blubber about what that little golden statuette means to him or her. Remember Sally Field’s 1985 heartfelt speech, …you like me, right now, you like me!?

Yet, I love a good movie. I love the entire experience. The popcorn (with butter). The turn-off-your-cell-phone reminder. Previews of more films I probably won’t get to see on the big screen. And especially that quiet moment right before the feature presentation starts and sweeps me into two or so hours of a reality other than my own.

Yes, everyone who’s had a hand in creating the best films of the year—from the sound mixers to the make-up artists to the cinematographers, directors, and actors—deserves to be recognized.

 

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was created in 1927, over dinner held at the home of MGM Studio chief Louis B. Mayer. Actor Douglas Fairbanks became the first president when the Academy was granted its non-profit status in May of that same year, and MGM art director Cedric Gibbons designed the trophy of a knight holding a sword and standing on reel of film. (One popular story goes that upon seeing the trophy for the first time, Academy librarian Margaret Herrick remarked that it resembled her Uncle Oscar. The Academy officially adopted the nickname “Oscar” in 1939.)

On May 16, 1929, the Academy held its first awards banquet, at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, honoring achievements in 12 categories (later reduced to seven then over time increased to the current 25). Two hundred seventy people attended the  black-tie dinner, which was filled with long speeches. Tickets cost $5 per guest.

Award recipients were announced three months before the banquet that first year. In subsequent years the Academy decided to keep the results secret, providing in advance to newspapers a list of award winners to be published after the event. However, in 1940, the Los Angeles Times published the names of the winners in its evening edition, which was available to guests arriving at the ceremony, thus prompting the sealed-envelope system still in use today.

By 1942 interest in the ceremony had grown so much that the event was moved from a hotel venue—generally the Ambassador or Biltmore Hotels—to Grauman’s Chinese Theater. The event has been held in a theater ever since.

The first televised Oscar ceremony took place in 1953, and the first full color broadcast three years later, in 1956. About 40 million viewers are expected to tune in to tonight’s event.

 

Every year it seems critics are perplexed by who gets nominated for an Oscar and who doesn’t. The 81st Annual Academy Awards, held tonight at 5p Pacific/8p Eastern on ABC and hosted by non-comedian Hugh Jackman, is no different.

The film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, showed up in a whopping 13 categories—Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role, Actress in a Supporting Role, Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume Design, Directing, Film Editing, Makeup, Music (Score), Sound Mixing, Visual Effects, and Writing (Adapted Screenplay)—and yet, I’ve not heard nor read one great thing about the movie. That, coupled with the fact that I don’t much care for Brad Pitt means I probably won’t see it, unless I run out of picks to add to my Netflix queue some day in the future.

Slumdog Millionaire, a movie I thought was fabulous for its imagery and the fact that it contained so many layers beyond the story of two kids from the slums for whom love conquers all, is nominated for nine Oscars, including Best Picture. I hope it wins, although I might have preferred Milk or The Reader had I seen either one of them.

Of the other nominated movies I’ve seen, and I’m almost embarrassed to say it’s a paltry four, here are the ones I’m rooting for:

  • I loved Michael Shannon—Actor in a Supporting Role—in Revolutionary Road. He was brilliant as Frank Givings, the mentally ill son of the realtor-cum-nosy-neighbor who sold April and Frank Wheeler their suburban home and subsequent hellhole. (Revolutionary Road was also nominated in the category of Art Direction, which I’m hoping it wins as well.)
  • Anne Hathaway—Actress in a Leading Role—in Rachel Getting Married was so deep, I couldn’t believe this was the same person who’d played assistant to Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. Plus, I was thrilled to see that Rachel Getting Married showed up with a nomination in anything at all; although it was an especially fulfilling escape, it was not by any means a blockbuster.
  • Wall-E for Animated Feature Film was a touching look at what might happen to our beloved Mother Earth should we continue to trash her and treat her with disrespect. And who would have thought a person could fall for an animated character? Also in this category is Kungfu Panda, which I enjoyed and which also sent a valuable message to viewers: You can be anything you want if you have the courage to go after your dreams.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on tonight’s Oscars awards. Who do think should win? Who were you surprised that did win? Any embarrassing speech moments that you squirmed through?

I’d also like to invite you to return to this post throughout the rest of 2009 to share your thoughts on movies you’ve seen. Any you would recommend? Let us know. I’m much more swayed by word of mouth than I am by that golden statuette.

 

A Few Good Links

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