Month: August 2013

An Interview With In My Corner Star Joe Orrach

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Joe Orrach is a boxer and a dancer who stars in the play In My Corner, which premieres at the Odyssey Theatre in West LA on Sept.6; here is a link to the theater’s site:

www.OdysseyTheatre.com

 

Q: How did you get into boxing?

A:     My dad got me into boxing, in fact he didn’t give me (or my brothers) much of a choice. He watched the Gillette Friday Night Fights religiously. My two older brothers and I had to watch the fights with him. Then, when I was in high school and was thrown off my varsity football team, basketball team and lacrosse team (mostly for talking back to coaches), I decided I didn’t need teams and was going to do something I knew about by myself. I borrowed my mom’s car and made the 25 minute drive over to the PAL (Police Athletic League) in Brentwood, Long Island, a mostly Black and Puerto Rican town, and started to learn the “sweet science”. I think I learned a lot from watching those fights with dad week after week, year after year, because boxing came to me fairly easily. My older brother became the heavy weight-boxing champ of New York; I became the welterweight champ of the US Air Force.

 

Q:  What was your most challenging fight and how did you train for it?

 

A:      That’s hard to answer because all my fights were challenging. Not so much because of the fighter I was paired with, but because the fact of the fight actually gave me so much fear.  I was fine in the gym. I would spar with anyone, train hard for hours and do pretty much anything Tony Fortunado, my trainer, would tell me to do (which wasn’t always the best thing to do.) I remember one day when I was at the gym with my brother Mike, who later became the New York Heavyweight Golden Gloves Champion. I had only been going to this gym about 6 months when Tony told us to spar with a professional light heavyweight who was preparing for a 10 round fight. It was crazy; I think Tony was crazy. We laughed the entire ride home thinking how this guy punched us from one end of the ring to the other. I got knocked down a couple times but then only got up and went after this monster with more determination. He couldn’t knock Mike down but punched him all over the ring. The hardest part for me was always the lead up to the fight; the fear that set in, that one had to face and overcome.  It’s similar for me when I perform. Part of the joy and thrill of it is dealing with and conquering the fear. I think that’s it with fighting too; one is conquering fear more than an opponent.

Q:  What famous fighters would you compare yourself to in terms of style and technique?

 

A:  In many ways, I think my style and approach was like a Sugar Ray Robinson, who for me was one of the greatest, if not the greatest, fighter to ever live. Please don’t think I’m saying I was a good as he was because I certainly wasn’t, but my style was similar. Tony Fortunado, my trainer, trained with Sugar Ray Robinson and emulated Robinson. Plus Tony trained me in Robinson’s style. I also loved Roberto Duran, Esteban De Jesus. Duran could brawl with anyone and in the ring and I wanted to be like Duran. But DeJesus was one of the few fighters that beat Duran as a lightweight and he was a classic boxer puncher the way I saw myself. Plus he was Puerto Rican.

Q: What made you transition to dancing?

 

A:  I left the United States Air Force before my original departure date and found myself living back with my parents. Once you leave you really can’t go back. I started training again with Tony Fortunato (a top 10 middle weight contender) but something had changed; I could feel that I had lost the love for boxing. I was driving a truck for my brother Mike and decided to take a dance class in NYC during my lunch break. I had studied ballet years before with Tony’s insistence for my footwork in the ring. It had definitely helped my boxing, but what nobody knew at the time was that I fell in love with dance. I got to be around all these beautiful girls (very different from the boxing gym). I was 16 at the time, and thought this was the best thing since ice cream. Then, the owner of the dance school asked me if I would perform in the recital. I was the only older male in the school so without telling anyone, especially my Puerto Rican dad, I performed in the recital. I loved it. I was a good mover, and had rhythm—that had worked for boxing. Now it worked for dance.

Q: What inspired you to create In My Corner?

 

A: During a troubled period of my life when everything was going bad I decided to write a journal. I wanted to make sense out of my life and try to figure out how I got where I was. I just wrote and wrote, not knowing what was going to come out. It was really an exercise. I didn’t even read it but something started to percolate within. It was after writing the journal that I slowly started to change. I didn’t know it at the time. Fast forward years later in a new life with a new woman I decided to revisit the journal. I decided I wanted to make the journal a play, to externalize it, to communicate. Liz Hasse, my partner in life and my muse, took the journal and put it into a dramatic narrative. Then we both worked together; I was providing rhythm and movement; the two of us were working with the words. We did re-writes, tried it out, and here we are.

Q: How did you go about getting it produced?

A: After putting together a precursor called 147 (the pound weight of a welterweight boxer) as my senior thesis in 2008 at St Mary’s College of California in the LEAP program, and trying it out at the renaissance celebration of a freed slave township in Virginia, Liz and I decided to develop the play more fully. We then workshoped it at local theatre in San Francisco. It’s not easy to produce a play; one has to be very resourceful. We finally found Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco and rented it out for a few weeks, Liz produced it at Intersection, at the new Black Box Theatre in Oakland, at San Francisco School for the Arts, at a Berkeley venue were we invited high school students and introduced them to the craft of creating and producing a play. It was fun, intense; we worked with a wonderful jazz pianist Matt Clark from the very beginning because we always wanted the play, as full of rhythm and movement as it is to have a live and original score.

We put IMC away for three years while I earned my MFA at USC. Then the fun really began.  We wanted to premier it in Los Angeles. There was a theatre in LA that told us yes, we love it, no problem we will produce it, but we wasted a year listening to promises that didn’t pan out. Then came our angel Beth Hogan at the Odyssey Theatre, and everything seemed to flow. Beth, Liz and I have had a great time doing this. It’s a co- production between Beth Hogan at the Odyssey and Liz Hasse. And it wouldn’t be the play it is without Jeremiah Chechik a wonderfully inventive director who has been working in films and TV and, at the same time, truly loves the theatre, and always knows the answers, many multiples of intriguing and exciting answers to everything. He is like another producer, as well as an incredibly creative, insightful and sensitive director, who has more respect for an actor than anyone I’ve meet or heard about. He is great.

Q: Why a play and not a movie?

 

A:     I am a theatre person. That’s my world. I love film but wouldn’t know how to start there in terms of coming up with an original project, presenting a story that is mine. The theatre is more immediate to me as a place to start and develop things and watch them come into being. I think I may let the universe take care of the film side of IMC. Let the people who can do films come to see this play and then maybe you and I can have another discussion about plays and films after this run.

Q: What makes your show unique?

A:  The uniqueness is in the way it’s told. It’s a universal story, told in a unique way. Of course, every play is unique, and everyone who writes is different, therefore the story in every play is different. What makes IMC unique are the ingredients of its telling. IMC is a universal story told in a very unique way. It’s a father son story told through narrative, song, Latin jazz, tap dance, movement and boxing. We just don’t tell the story, the performer lives the story, combining different rhythmic and movement skills simultaneously while telling a story, a story that is told through 5 characters. For example, one scene starts with “As far back as I can remember, my father always told us to be proud of what we are…and what we are is Puerto Rican…”  I start to snap my left fingers in a 2/3 clave rhythm. I continue with “United we stand tall…” adding my right hand with a cascara rhythm. I finish the scene adding my feet with a third rhythm while speaking the 4th rhythm. Another scene involves the father who has become drunk in the course of watching the Gillette Friday Night Fights. He grabs the belt (here a jump rope) to beat the kids. The rope hits the floor with a steady beat while the dad yells at each child.  Tap dance rhythms punctuate his rant. There is also boxer’s speed bag on wheels that is used as a dancing partner and at another time, it becomes a musical instrument as the boxer joins the musical ensemble. This is a dramatic piece written to music with a live musical ensemble on stage. The music is another voice onstage, always supporting the dialogue becoming a strong voice yet never over-powering and never becoming a musical. The music is scored more like a movie where you later you realize, oh yeah, there was music in it. All of these elements combine with the dialogue to make a world in itself, a play and a very unique theatrical experience.

Q: What sort of challenges have you encountered in getting the show up?

 

A: Challenges? The usual: LIFE. Getting anything off the ground. The inner fears and stresses. The externalities—finding a theatre, trying to make something good, great, in the unfunded world of live theatre. Making your inner thoughts and processes something that others can relate to, absorb, feel.  From the inner to the outer, there is so much to overcome. But as so many others before us, one can only persevere.

Q: Who are some of your dancing influences?

 

A:  Dancing influences. So many people; dancing is my influence, my life: Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Gregory Hines (who really saved me and helped make it real for me), Donald O’Connor, John Bubbles, Sammy Davis Jr, Baby Lawrence, Jose Greco.  There are my 2 favorites: Savion Glover and Jimmy Slyde.  In jazz, Jack Cole, Bob Fosse, Graciela Danielle, Twyla Tharp.  In ballet Nureyev, Edward Villella and modern dancers, Indian dancers; the list goes on.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

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An Interview With Country Singer Josey Milner

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Josey Milner is a country singer who has opened for Scotty McCreery. Her single “Not Pretty Enough” reached #3 on the Indie World Chart; here is a link to her website:

http://www.joseymilner.com

Q: What made you interested in music?

A: I’ve always been a singer really. I started off singing the National Anthem at my rodeos. Then, I was invited to sing at the National Steel Guitar Convention which is where I was advised that I needed to get a band together. Leona Williams is actually the one who told me that, and that she can see me going far with this career. So when I got home, I talked to my parents about it and they loved the idea. I held auditions, got a band together, started going to the studio and playing out, and that’s when my career began!

Q: What inspired you to write “Not Pretty Enough”?

A: I didn’t write “Not Pretty Enough”, even though I wish I could have. It’s such an amazing song. My manager, Michael, is the one who found that song and sent it to me thinking that it would be a good one for me to do. When I listened to it, I pretty much instantly loved it, especially the lyrics. So, I went to the studio and did my own version. When I released it, it did so much better than anticipated. I also became a spokesperson for Angels and Doves, which is a National nonprofit Anti-Bullying Organization. I’m so proud to be able to say that I’ve done that song.

Q: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

A: As far as women having the same rights and opportunities as men, yes. I feel like women should be treated equal and be able to do things men can do. Then again, it’s nice being a girl and having the roles of a woman.

Q: What is the biggest misconception people have about country music?

A: That it’s not all about losing your wife, big trucks and your dog. Country music means so much more than that. It tells real life stories about losing a loved one, or going through hard times, or even rejoicing about something good that happened. That’s why I love country music, because I can relate to it.

Q: How did you get your first big break?

A: For my first big break, I would have to go with when I signed a management deal with MTS Management. Ever since then (almost a year ago), so many amazing things have happened. I’ve been able to open up for big name artist, travel all over the U.S. and meet so many amazing people along the way. I’m so appreciative of Michael and what he’s done for me.

Q: What is the oddest thing a fan has ever done to get your attention?

A: I haven’t really had anything crazy happen . . . yet. I have, however, signed a purse and a boot. That was definitely pretty cool. I have had a couple people try to buy me alcoholic beverages. I of course declined. ;]

Q: Who are some of your musical influences?

A: I grew up listening and singing the traditional country, so artist like Patsy Cline, George Jones, Hank Williams, and Tammy Wynette are one of the first to pop into my mind. Today though, my favorite artist is Miranda Lambert. I just really like how she’s a real person and doesn’t care what people think about her. She also really loves animals, so that’s a plus.

Q: How do you think things are different for female country singers nowadays than they were for women of previous generations?

A: I still think it’s harder for female artists to break into the industry than males, but it’s not as hard as it used to be. Since internet has came about, it has made it a lot more helpful as far as getting your name out there. Society is a lot more accepting of the female role too, so that helps as well.

Q: What is the most challenging thing about being a teen in show business?

A: What’s most challenging for me has been my age and getting my schedule to work out with school. Since I’m only 18, a lot of people think I’m too young to be able to do the job. It’s getting people to take a chance on me is when I’m able to prove myself. I’m a senior in high school, so I still go to school for 8 hours a day. Sometimes I have to be gone for a week at a time for my music or leave early because of a show. So far, everything has worked out, so hopefully it will continue to.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: What’s next for me is getting my next single out. We were hoping for it to already be out, but once again, the schedules keep getting in the way. I was in the studio a couple weeks ago laying down the final vocals, so hopefully it will be out soon! Besides that, I’m going to continue playing out with my band and making a name for myself. I’ve had a really good year so far, so it can only get better. For anyone who wants to check up on me or come see me at a show though, go to http://www.joseymilner.com. There I have my schedule, as well as my music and pictures. I also have the links to all my other social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc. I love meeting and talking to people, so definitely come out and see me! :]

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview With Writer Diane Lefer

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Diane Lefer is the author of The Fiery Alphabet; here is a link to her website:

http://dianelefer.weebly.com/

Q:  What is The Fiery Alphabet about?

A: I pretend to have discovered and translated a collection of 18th-century documents including the journals of Daniela Messo who begins life as a child prodigy in Rome. Giuseppe Balsamo arrives, convinced that Daniela has inherited the secrets of a long-dead Jewish mystic. She doesn’t believe anything he says, but she falls for him and they travel across Europe posing as wonder-working pilgrims as they swindle their way east.

The 18th century was the Age of Enlightenment in Europe, an era of science and reason and free thought, but all that existed in tension with orthodox religion as well as mystical traditions and new sects in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. That’s the backdrop as Daniela struggles to find a place in the world for her body, mind, and what Balsamo would call her soul.

Q: What inspired you to write it?

A: I grew up in a secular Jewish home. Jewish by culture and tradition, but not religion. Maybe because I don’t feel a spiritual hunger, I am fascinated by people who do. Before I dropped out of college, the one class that held my interest was a course on religion in the anthropology department. So I guess it’s not as strange as it seems that several times in my life I’ve been romantically involved with men who were considering converting to Judaism and saw me as a path to that end. It made no difference how many times I explained I didn’t know Hebrew and couldn’t take them with me to synagogue because I didn’t belong to one and no, I didn’t want to get up early in the morning to study Torah. I think some of my own feelings–including exasperation–came out through the character of Daniela.

I do think most of us seek transcendence in some way but Nature and art and love and sex seem to me awe-inspiring enough without having to bring a Supreme Deity into it. Still, the connection with religion persists. I usually screen my calls but recently I somehow ended up answering a telephone survey. The woman asked “Age?” “Race?” Then she asked, “Religion.” I said, “None.” She said, “Oh! That’s so interesting. I’ve never actually talked to a nun before.”

Q:  What kind of research did you do for the book?

A: Lots of book research but much as I love libraries, I always feel the need for direct experience.

I attended occult ceremonial rites like the Gnostic mass where a semi-clothed man blew a blast on a ram’s horn and a coffin flew open so a Christlike figure could emerge. A woman lay on the altar while everyone (including me) took communion and walked in a circle as we beat our breasts crying There is no part of me that is not part of the gods!

çatal Hüyük in present day Turkey is the site of the first city in history and I learned it was a matriarchal Goddess-worshipping society. So off I went – just to breathe in the atmosphere because at the time there was little to see there. (Since my visit, archaeologists have resumed excavations, uncovering dwellings, wall paintings, and artifacts and now seek to debunk the notion of a matriarchy.) I sublet my apartment and with the rent off my back was able to spend a month not just at the ancient site but traveling around Istanbul and Anatolia, tracing Daniela’s steps. That’s what’s great about being a writer: You can take a month off to see the world and call it work.

Q:  Who are some of your literary influences?

A:  As I’m a literary writer and anti-racist activist, people are often surprised that I cite Margaret Mitchell and Gone with the Wind. But I read that novel four times in junior high, excited that a WOMAN had written a big book that included something as serious as war. My best friend and I were both studious nerds and we found it thrillingly scandalous that Scarlett O’Hara got married three times when she was really just a kid. But I’d say Mitchell was more inspiration to me than influence.

The authors who’ve more directly influenced me are Oscar Hijuelos who taught me to read fiction not just for pleasure but to observe how novels and stories worked, how they were put together. Sharon Sheehe Stark – whose novel, A Wrestling Season, should not be out-of-print – brings poetry to every sentence and made me care about my words and rhythms. After reading her fiction, I understood it’s not enough to tell the story. It’s how you use the words to tell it.

Q:  What makes Daniela Messo worth reading about?

A: Good question! At different times in her life she faces the accusation of being “unnatural” when she’s just naturally being herself. I think women – and men, too – often find themselves boxed in to very narrow definitions of who and what they are supposed to be. There are maybe more twists and turns and adventures in Daniela’s life than most of us go through, but her story – taking place more than 200 years ago and probably more extreme than the reader’s – should also afford some jolts of recognition. Entertainment, too, I hope. And Daniela’s story is pertinent today because, after all these centuries, the conflict between science and faith isn’t settled. We are also seeing a horrific backlash against women’s rights. In some countries, it’s taken particularly violent form but women are under attack in many ways here in the US as well.

Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your work?

A: My day jobs and volunteer work have always kept me connected to the world outside my head. You never stop learning, you never stop expanding your horizons, and it all feeds directly or indirectly into the work. Writing can also feel very self-indulgent. When I spend hours doing “real” work or volunteer work, it’s as though I justify my existence and that gives me permission to go home and isolate myself and write.

In my younger years I did everything from picking potatoes to slicing apples in a pie factory to typing autopsy reports. Totally out of the blue, I was hired to teach in the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts and that was my job up until a couple of years ago.

Since then, I mostly do short-term assignments and the teaching I’m most interested in is working with people who don’t think of themselves as writers. I’ve facilitated workshops for emotionally disturbed kids in the foster-care system and young people caught in the crossfire of the armed conflict in Colombia. In the winter, I worked with the nonprofit organization, ImaginAction, on a Theater of Witness project. We developed a script through which torture survivors from around the world were able to perform their own stories in their own words.

Right now I’m with a group of men in transitional housing who were serving life sentences in California prisons till the parole board and Jerry Brown decided they’d turned their lives around, posed no threat, and deserved a chance at freedom.

Q: What is the most common theme that the men you work with write about?

A: Mostly they write with gratitude and awe about the simplest things in life: looking at the sky, watching a cat with her kittens in the backyard, riding a bicycle. They write about remorse over what they’ve done and the pain they’ve caused. And, oh yes, they write about God!

Q:  How does writing help them with the transitional process?

A:  To be granted parole, I figure you have to keep your head down and your mouth shut. So I like to believe it means a lot to them to be in a situation where someone actually wants to know what they have to say. For some of the guys in the workshop, this regular practice in reading and writing helps them gain skill and confidence as some hope to go back to school and all are seeking employment. I like to quote Amiri Baraka: Make some muscle/ in your head, but/use the muscle/in yr heart.

Q:  Have any of them ever written about anything that shocked you?

A:  Their crimes don’t shock me. I was prepared for that. What really shakes me up has been that some men served 30 or 40 years – extreme sentences that their crimes really didn’t warrant. It’s hard to think about how different the outcome would have been in so many of their cases if they’d been able to afford a lawyer.

Lifers on parole aren’t the scary monsters the media might have you believe. It’s not easy to convince the parole board and the governor to let you out. Statistically, people who’ve never been convicted of a crime are more likely to commit a violent act than a lifer on parole.

I’ve been a loud critic of our prison system of mass incarceration and the lack of meaningful education, training, therapy, rehabilitation and pre-release planning for people inside, but I figured these guys are the real experts. I had hoped that they would write their complaints and suggestions for reform. So it disturbed me at first that the men in the workshop were unwilling to criticize the system.

At first I thought they were choosing to look forward instead of back like the political prisoner and torture survivor from Cameroon. When we worked with him in the Theater of Witness project, he was reluctant to share his story and he quoted what his grandmother used to repeat in French: When you shit, don’t turn around to look at it. But during a recent workshop, one of the men on parole finally said, “We suffer so much from guilt and remorse and self-hate, nothing the State could do to us was as bad as what we did to ourselves.” In his case, it took more than 13 years till he could begin to believe there might be anything worthwhile in him.

Then I finally began to understand what the men meant when they wrote about learning to love themselves: they couldn’t begin to change their attitudes and thinking and behavior until they saw themselves as human beings worthy of change. With this transformation, they still feel the guilt and remorse, but the self-loathing has lifted and they can begin to move forward.

But here I am interpreting their lives when, ultimately, I don’t understand. One man humbled me with the words: “Before we went to prison, we lived in the world you live in and so we know how people in society think. But then we went to prison and we learned things about human nature that you will never know. We know both sides. You only know one.”

Q: What is the most challenging thing about being a writer?

A: Aside from making ends meet?

Today’s blockbuster mentality. It’s why I am grateful for small independent presses like Loose Leaves Publishing, the house that’s brought The Fiery Alphabet into print (e-book to follow). And Eliza, it’s why I so appreciate blogs like yours. Writers, musicians, filmmakers whose work might not appeal to many millions of people aren’t getting mainstream media coverage. But what if my work – or anyone’s work – can be truly meaningful to ten thousand people or one thousand or fifty or even ten? So how do we send out a signal – Hey, hello! This is what I’ve got. Does it speak to you? I hope my words can move someone, stimulate discussion, argument, thought, or make someone feel less alone.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

 

An Interview With Transformational Speaker Mark A Eisenhart

 

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Mark A Eisenhart is a sponsored athlete, transformational speaker, and actor: Here is a link to his website:

http://getimpowerednow.com/

 

Q: What is your professional background?

A: I am a retired twice decorated firefighter/paramedic. I was also a search and rescue man. After that I worked for several years in close protection.

Q: What made you interested in becoming a motivational speaker?

 

A: I became a transformational speaker after my father died. My whole life changed then and it felt like the right thing to do.

Q: On your website you advocate reading The Secret. What do you hope readers will draw from this book?

A:  I hope readers will be able to discern for themsleves how integral The Secret is. The book and the film are immensely powerful.

Q: There are millions of people in the world who are starving and suffering due to drought, political unrest and corruption, how do the “law of attraction” apply to them?

 

A:  The law of attraction pertains to everyone on this planet, regardless of the vibration they are at. I belive it is crucial that we, as a species, observe and respect the interdependent web of creation. I believe that the unity of opposites balances nature and that every soul must walk their own path. Everything on the Earth plane is relative anyway. Being able to see things on a macroscale is integral to an understanding of why why some people flourish while others struggle to survive. It is a perfect and beautiful example of order amidst chaos. It is architected by design and I believe that it is encumbent upon as a species to respect that deisgn, especially if we don’t understand it.

Q: What qualifies one to be a transformational speaker?

A:  I feel qualified to be a transformational speaker beacuse of my experience. I came through a period of tremendous hardship and tragedy and experienced a complete and total life changing transformation. Having endured this and written a book on the subject, combined with appearances on over 150 TV and Radio shows plus multiple Print and Digital Media exposures puts me in a unique position to share my experience with others.

Q: What separates you from other motivational speakers?

 

A:  My experience and qualifications are unique to me. They make up the tapestry of my brand. I (OMIT also) suspect that what also distinguishes me from other transformational speakers is the fact that the scope and scale of what I endured may not be fully realized until long after I have passed. I believe that my story will ultimately change the course of human history when it is fully realized.

Q: What has been your greatest triumph so far?

 

A:My greatest triumph has yet to be actualized though I have enjoyed many lesser ones including the adaptation of my story for the screen and the completion of my book.

Q: What has been your greatest disappointment?

A: My greatest disappointment has been the inability to know for sure how many people’s lives I have touched.

 

Q: Who are some of the philosophers who have influenced you and why?

 

A: I really resonate with Don Miguel Ruiz. His beliefs are accesible, practical, and rich in their truth.

Q: What is Achievement Boot Camp?

 

A: Achievement Boot Camp is a platform that is offered by one of the members of my team Tom Terwilliger. He is my Achievement Mentor. I urge you to take a closer look at his work on his website. He is an extraordinary empowerment coach.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview With Blue Line Producer/Director Kevin Boston

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[Kevin Boston is the producer and director of the web series The Blue Line; here is a link to his website:

kevinboston.com

Q:  What is The Blue Line about?

A: It’s a sitcom about the “behind the scenes” of a TV cop drama-if “The Office”, “30 Rock“, and “Entourage” had a child with “Southland” in BOSTON!

Q:  What inspired you to make The Blue Line?

A: Actually, The Blue Line was made accidentally. About 2 years ago, my co-creator/co-producer/co-writer David Yee moved to LA and asked me to shoot a reel for him. I didn’t charge him, but I did ask him to rent out a RED camera and a sound guy in exchange. In the scene we shot, David was playing an L.A. cop. Wes McGee and Jorge Luis Pallo were also in the scene. While we went over rehearsal and blocking, I asked if they could pull off a Boston accent just for fun. To my surprise, everyone was pretty good, so we decided to change the setting to Boston. Since David was paying to shoot on the RED, I wanted to take advantage of the camera, actors, and crew if we had any extra time after we shot the scene for his reel. I started to brainstorm some cool ideas of what would happen after the director called “Cut”, and what if these intense actors were just a bunch of goof balls! I gave them the premise for each scene and everything was pretty much improvised. Once it was all edited together, I knew we had something good but we needed to do more. In the next few months, David and I wrote the pilot and shot it. Episode One, which is online right now, was originally made for David’s acting reel!

Q:  What sort of day jobs have you had and how do they influence your work?

 

A: I produced and directed music videos- that’s my bread and butter. It has influenced my work, especially on The Blue Line, because I see everything from behind the scenes to the final product so I really get hands-on experience of set life! I think that’s what really made me interested in creating that twist on the show.

Q:  Why are cop shows so popular?

A: Simply put, Good Vs. Evil! Combine that with great storyline, characters, and plot twists.

Q: Do you feel cops are accurately portrayed on crime shows?

A: To be honest, I don’t watch a lot of TV shows, or cop shows at that. But I do love cop movies like The Departed, Training Day, Rush Hour, Lethal Weapon, End of Watch, etc. You can’t just write any cop show without doing some research, I read somewhere that the CSI series has been so popular because the writers actually pull real cases and re-wrote them with a twist.

Q:  I knew a lady who was a forensic investigator, she told me that most murders take place in the middle of the night and hence, she had gone to many a crime scene in sweats and a pajama top, with no make-up. On TV the female forensic investigator will arrive to the crime scene in full make-up wearing a business suit. Why do they feel the need to be unrealistic about the way an investigator is dressed at a crime scene?

A: Sex sells! Just kidding! I just found that out, so I don’t think a lot of people are aware of that. I think the audience at the end of the day just want a good story, good characters, and to be at the edge of their seats, trying to solve the case before it’s revealed. I think that’s the beauty about cop shows/movies and from a director’s stand point, the goal is to be a few steps ahead of your audience.

Q:  What do you think the best cop crime show on TV is and why?

A:  As I mentioned before, I don’t watch too many cop shows, but from ratings CSI is a huge success with its multiple spinoffs. That is probably due to the fact that they use real cases and then add amazing writers and you have all the ingredients for success.

Q:  What is your background in the entertainment industry?

A: I’m a self taught director and producer. Originally my background was in acting. After moving to Los Angeles and spending a year doing background work and playing stereotypical role as an Asian Triad/Cook, I took a look in the mirror and asked myself, “Is this what I’m going to do for the next 40 years?!” It’s tough being an Asian American in Hollywood; there just aren’t enough roles for us. So it was either pack my stuff up and go back to Boston or figure something out quick! I started to intern for a few successful music video directors (Todd Angkasuwan, Ethan Lader, Dan Dobi) who all took me in with arms wide open and let me come on set to PA and help out. While doing that I stood on the sideline and started to take notes on how to shoot, light, edit, direct and apply those lessons with my other acting friends. Ever since then I have dabbled in production in every aspect. Depending on the day, I’m working on a video promo, club promo, product placement, red carpet events, a web series, pilots, epk, casting, editing, or music videos. With each step of the way I sharpened my craft and networked with every client I came in contact with. As I progressed I focused more on directing and producing, and now that’s all I do.

Q:  Why do you think 30 Rock is so popular?

A: To be honest again, I actually never saw a full episode, I heard about it and found out it was behind the scene of a show in the studio. I’m still not sure, but when I presented The Blue Line, people mention it’s similar to 30 Rock in that you get to see the actors on the other side of the camera.

Q:  What is the most ridiculous thing you have ever seen on a crime show?

A: Sorry again- I don’t to watch too much TV, I know, how ironic, right? I don’t have cable or even the basic channels. For the past 6 years in LA I’ve only had Netflix, and I get my news on Facebook and Yahoo!

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview With Art Blogger Colin Talcroft

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Colin Talcroft runs a blog about unintended art; here is a link to his blog:

 

http://serendipitousart.blogspot.com

 

Q:  What gave you the Idea for your Serendipitous Art blog?

 

A:  I’d been capturing unintended art for many years before I began Serendipitous Art. I’ve always enjoyed recording bits of the world that looked like art to me, but I’d never had a place to bring them together. The appearance of blogging and, more importantly, the appearance of easy-to-use, free blog-hosting websites, made it possible to collect favorite snippets and to share them with the world. It seemed obvious once the opportunity was there.

Q: What is your own personal background in art?

A:  I have no formal training in art beyond a few college figure drawing classes. I’ve been photographing since I was 8 years old. I still have the first negative I made (a shot of our cat throwing a long shadow as it stretched on the back patio of one of my childhood homes; I used my mother’s Kodak Brownie camera). I started drawing before that, from before I can remember. In first grade I filled a movable blackboard with an undersea scene with sharks and dolphins and ropes of kelp twisting up from the ocean floor. The teacher liked it so much she set the blackboard aside for months until open house–my first show.

Q: What is the most interesting piece of unintended art that you have found?

A:  The next one is always the one I’m most interested in–the one I haven’t found yet. Having said that, the floors of parking garages and city streets are among the richest sources of unintended art. Look down for art. One of my all-time favorites was created by condensation under the glass covering an in-ground spotlight in front of San Francisco’s De Young Museum. Someone had covered the glass with a big X of blue masking tape. Beautiful.

Q: What do you look for in a piece of unintended art?

A: I wish I had a coherent theory of abstract art, but I don’t. I have an eye for composition. I don’t know where it comes from, but seeing and wanting to see have become habitual. Whether it’s something in artwork I create myself–something emerging from the chaos as I work–or just a happened-upon-but-compelling juxtaposition of color, line, form, or texture originally unintended as art, I know it when I see it. Recognition itself is a large part of what makes it art. In the context of my blog, it’s art if I say it’s art.

Q: What do you like about the art scene in California?

A:  I like that there’s a comparatively high level of appreciation of local art in California. Even smaller cities have many active artists and galleries showing work, it seems. Many artists participate in open studio events, and community art centers that show local artists are more common here than in many other places.

Q: What would you change about it if you could?

A:  Despite my remarks above, it can be hard to find affordable studio space and to find opportunities to show work that don’t involve giving up so large a percentage of sales to the gallery that selling work is almost pointless. It would be nice to have even more community-supported gallery space.

Q: What kind of work do you do and how does it affect your artistic sensibilities?

A:  I translate Japanese financial research into English. I lived in Japan for nearly 20 years, spending about six of those years working for a stockbroker as a securities analyst—which seems fairly surreal in retrospect; my academic background is in language and literature. I don’t think my current employment has much of a bearing on my artistic sensibilities, if any at all, but I’m grateful my day job pays well enough that I can afford to live in a bountiful, beautiful part of the world and that it allows me enough free time to do things like make art.

Q: Who are some of your favorite artists?

A:  I can’t point to just one or two artists I especially admire. I love art. I don’t really care who makes it. If I had to list famous names, I’d probably say Eduardo Chillida, the Basque sculptor and printmaker; Antoni Tapiés, the Catalan painter and printmaker; Victor Pasmore; Ben Nicholson; Martin Puryear; Charles Sheeler and early 20th century American art in general; and Richard Diebenkorn; and people like Paul Strand, Louis Faurer, Ray K. Metzker, and Hendrik Kerstens among photographers–but I could go on for hours listing famous names. One of the most exciting artists I’ve recently encountered is not widely known yet—Japanese-American collage artist Yuko Kimura. These artists share a modern sensibility coupled with a deep sense of craft. But nameless artists all over the world make great art every day.

Q: Where is the most unexpected place you have ever found unintended art?

A:  It’s never really expected. That’s why it’s fun. That’s why it’s serendipitous art. It does turn up in odd places. I recently photographed a beautiful set of metal blades on a baggage carousel, a rusted saw blade screwed to the side of a house, and the battered vanes of an old air conditioner hanging out a window, for example—all fairly unlikely places to find art—but it’s everywhere. Art is virtually everywhere.

Q:  What makes someone an artist?

A: I think anyone who suffers from the compulsion to create is an artist, whether they know it or not, but an artist is someone who does create. Too many people seem to wish they were artists without ever doing very much.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview With Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Therapist Christa Alexander

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Christa Alexander is Clinical Director of Heart Thyself, LLC, which focuses on narcissistic abuse recovery; here is a link to her website:

 

http://www.heartthyself.com/

 

 

Q:  What is your professional and educational background?

 

A: I completed my undergraduate degree at Syracuse University with a B.A. in French. I had originally planned to go back to France to teach English as a second language. It’s a bit of a long story, but I didn’t go, and instead I eventually moved back to Portland, OR where I grew up. I wasn’t sure where to go from there. I stewed over it for a few years, and after slumming through several jobs in corporate America decided I couldn’t take it anymore. I realized I needed to get my Masters degree so I could do something other than office work. I got back in touch with myself, with my passions, and through a series of connections was led to counseling. I then spent 5 years getting my M.A. in counseling from Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. My first counseling experience was as a motivational interviewer at the Salvation Army ARC, and then I moved to a clinic at the Grotto Counseling Center in Portland which had a much more private practice feel. As soon as I graduated I opened my own private practice and I’ve been counseling ever since.

Q:  What kind of research have you done regarding narcissism?

A: At this point I am not a researcher. I am more focused in my practice on clinical work with clients. Personally I have not conducted my own research on narcissism, but I may move in that direction at some point. I do follow the work of some other people, such as Dr. Karyl McBride and Alice Miller.

 

Q:  How can one identify a narcissist?

A: Great question! Often, it is hard to spot them right away, especially if you don’t know what you are looking for. They come in a variety of shapes and forms. They can be male or female from any socioeconomic background. At first they can seem like amazing, charismatic people that can easily impress, naturally lead, and are quick to charm anyone they come into contact with. They are very image focused so they go to great lengths to create the perfect image for themselves.

The best way to determine if you are experiencing a narcissist is to see what kind of empathy skills they have. Can they see and understand the world from your perspective and from the perspective of others? Are they able to show compassion for people in need? What is their EQ level? If you find that empathy is non-existent than you are most likely engaging with a narcissistic individual.

If you’d like to watch some utterly savage narcissists in action, just watch Mad Men. Focus specifically on Don Draper and Peter Campbell. This show is extremely well done, even in its portrayal of the victims of the narcissistic abuse, such as Betty Draper-Francis. Focus specifically on Peter though because he tends to show the harsh cruelty that is intrinsic to narcissism.

Q:  What makes someone attracted to a narcissistic personality type?

A: A narcissist will wine and dine you, shower you with praise, show you off with pride, admire you and compliment you. That is hard to resist. They have mastered the art of charming anyone and everyone. If you haven’t developed good boundaries or know what to look for, any person could be caught in this web.

Often times adults who were raised in a narcissistic family system or had some kind of narcissistic parent will then gravitate towards narcissistic partners simply because it feels familiar. Adults tend to try and work out their unresolved conflict with their opposite sex parent with their spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, partner, lover, etc. So a woman who has been raised by a narcissistic dad, for example, will then often times grow up and be drawn to a narcissistic man simply because the dynamic feels familiar and she hasn’t done any work around her unmet developmental needs. Keep in mind that it isn’t inevitable that this will happen, it is just not uncommon.

Q:  What do you think causes someone to be a narcissist?

A: Many times a narcissistic wound can develop in infancy. If a baby is not being cared for, if no one is responding to his or her cries for food and comfort, they develop mistrust. Shame begins to grow. They do not feel worthy. If their primary caregiver did not find them worthy enough to care for appropriately, then they must be a “bad person”. This is the idea that they internalize.

This is an example of the dynamic that takes place. A child will grow up with so much shame and rejection, will be dismissed in many ways and not valued so the narcissistic defense develops. They are unable to grow into adulthood with a healthy understanding of themselves and the world. Instead, they feel deeply ashamed. So much so that they spend their lives trying to hide it, avoid it, and cover it up with their image because they are trying to feel better about themselves. The self-absorption takes over.

Ultimately a narcissistic person is someone who feels so badly about themselves, so insecure and full of anxiety that they are overtaken with trying to make those feelings go away. They build up a wall around themselves so they can’t be hurt again. They feel so badly about themselves inside that their whole life then becomes focused on building an amazing image, being surrounded by incredible people, promoting themselves, etc. because this is how they find their self-worth. Unfortunately it tends to hurt anyone they come into contact with because they haven’t developed empathy. They can only focus on themselves and everything they do is to make themselves feel better about existing in the world.

 

Q:  What are some of the methods you use to treat someone who has been abused by a narcissist?

A: When people come to therapy for narcissistic abuse recovery one of the first things we start working on is identity. When you have been raised by narcissists you don’t have a loving empathic parent who reflects your identity back to you. Instead, you have a parent who projects themselves onto you. A narcissistic parent sees their children as extensions of themselves. They do not see their children as authentic individuals.

When kids grow up with this they go out into the world confused, lost, and even unsure how to think for themselves. They tend to be very codependent because they have been raised to meet the needs of their parent, not to live an independent life. In therapy we do a lot of work around codependency, developing identity, how to set up boundaries, and ultimately self-care. These are some key areas people need to develop when they have experienced narcissistic abuse. Even adults who are experiencing the abuse from another adult, whether it’s a romantic relationship or a friendship, still need to work through these key issues.

 

Q:  What’s the difference between a narcissist, an egomaniac and a megalomaniac?

A: HAHA, nice! Not a lot of difference. These different terms are used to emphasize different parts of narcissism. Narcissist is a much more clinical term used to describe a condition anywhere from a basic narcissistic wound to full blown narcissistic personality disorder. Egomaniac is a term that emphasizes a person’s obsessive preoccupation with themselves. Megalomaniac (that term cracks me up!) is used to describe a psychological condition someone has when they are obsessed with delusional thoughts and fantasies of wealth, power or omnipotence. I don’t hear many therapists using this term, although they do liven up the conversation. Personally I would refer to a megalomaniac as a full blown pathological narcissist.

Q:  What was your most challenging case?

A: Sorry, due to confidentiality I am unable to discuss my cases. I will say though that narcissists don’t tend to come to therapy unless they are mandated by the court for example. Another reason could be if they have come to a point in life where they are in so much emotional pain due to everyone in their lives finally leaving them, that they give counseling a try. This would most likely happen later in life as the typical narcissist believes they are perfect and definitely not in need of therapy.

Q:   Do you think social media and (ahem) blogging is making people more self absorbed?

A: I don’t know that social media in itself is making people more self-absorbed. I do think it has become an outlet for self promotion and image building. Like anything, this can be carried to the extreme. We have moved towards a virtual society. Many people spend more time with their friends on Facebook than they do in person. That isn’t going to change. That is just the way our culture is functioning now.

Social media certainly enables people to feed their narcissism. They begin to base their self worth on their online image; how many Facebook friends they have, how many “likes” they get, etc. They carefully tailor how others perceive them by what pictures they post and what kind of statuses they share. These tend to be always positive and flattering. Someone who already had narcissistic tendencies will definitely escalate in their self-promoting obsession as they use social media more and more.

Studies have shown that people who spend several hours a day on Facebook tend to be more narcissistic than others. I didn’t conduct that study, it’s just some information I have come across.

I don’t think social media has to make people more narcissistic. If you use it to enhance your life instead of show it off it can be fun and a great way to connect with people.

Q:  What famous person (living or dead) exhibits a text book example of NPD?

A: Well…I’d rather not mention one of the dozens of raving narcissists who are alive today. Considering their issues with image I wouldn’t want to risk coming home to a hit man in my apartment. There are so many in our society that I could name though…alive and well, bullying people through the media, politics, corporate powermongering, etc…Some of them need a time out.

A text book example of a deceased narcissist, may he rest in peace, is Pablo Picasso. I’m kind of an art junkie so he easily comes to mind for me. Obsessed with power, control, domination, and perfection, he got what he wanted, whenever he wanted it, as much of it as he wanted. He was above the rules, demanded rules didn’t apply to him, and ruthlessly made his way to the top while taking out whomever he could and wanted on his way (the fact that he was a genius didn’t hurt either). He had affairs, abused his children, ranted, raved, deceived and got his way no matter what. He hurt many people and left a legacy of crippling pain to his children. Very sad.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)