She Wants Your BABY.

Don't believe everything they tell you about small towns. The best coffee shop east of San Francisco. The EPK guy shaved his head and now nobody recognizes him. Bob Shelly blew some stuff up (of course). From set you could see the Milky Way, provided the 18k wasn't shining. Free dawg, free dawg. Fonzie is the pecker, Icarus is the flyer and that has some symmetry. Hilltop houses, miles from civilization, at the end of dirt roads have great audio ambiance, except on race night. I bribed two of my bosses with home brew. Beau Duke doesn't like liberals and Shawn doesn't need his hands to drive. I never get tired of riding on the back of a stake bed. Yer MOM, my NUTS and whut goin awn? I'm the only one that can sleep on the provided beds. We're going to call this one, "A122, 76pt, B134B, 127,129,131,133ser, take 4." Kiss, ZZ Top, a bunch of wardrobe hippies, a Soviet Ex-pat, a whore with a mohawk and the Devil all went down to Georgia but I didn't get a hat. And, the AD and I agree that witchy equals sexy.

Conjurer wrapped this morning. I just went to eleven.

Check the gate.

Good Gate.

Moving on.


Be Careful What You Wish for.

By now, everyone who cares to know has heard the Good News. For the first time the Pentacle has been endorsed by the Veteran's Administration for use on military headstones.

This is, of course, an important milestone for the modern Pagan community.

It does have me thinking, though. Do we really want mainstream acceptance? I'm not sure we do.

Do we want to be recognized as having, without question, the same rights as any other religion, yes. Do we want to be able to gather and worship without fear of interference or reprisal, absolutely. Do we want ours to be understood as a legitimate system of faith with its own traditions, icons and philosophies, you bet your ass we do. But, do we want to be accepted in the minds of others as just another stripe in the fabric of America, no different than anyone else save for our profession of faith? I'm not so sure.

Even as we work to be recognized as having the same rights and privileges as mainstream monotheists, we must remember that we aren't. We shouldn't want to be. Too much of our identity is bound up in the fact that we are outside the mainstream, that we believe fundamentally different things than the vast majority of our fellow Americans. Our tolerance for diversity, our desire and activism for social justice, our suspicion of authority, our respect for privacy and our understanding of civil liberty are all supported and defined by our position as a family of minority faiths.

Our very community is, in no small measure, the result of our position outside the American mainstream. Any two Children of Abraham, whether Xian, Muslim or Jew are much more similar in terms of belief than any two Pagans of divergent paths. We greet and welcome each other as family, despite radical differences of theology while, in their meager differences, the monotheists jostle for supremacy, laying waste to swaths of the world in the doing of it. They cultivate the venom that only religious strife can, while we, Wiccan, Asatru, Kemetic, Druid, and a myriad of others, gather, celebrate and worship together. This will cease to be the case if we come to exist in large numbers or become a fully integrated part of mainstream America because it it our position as a vast ideological and theological minority that forces us to bind together, concentrating on our similarities rather than our differences. It is this very minority status that galvanizes the Pagan community as we understand it.

I'm not suggesting for a moment that we shouldn't celebrate this victory for military Pagans and their families. Nor am I saying that we should not continue to fight for absolute equality under the law. I am saying that we must, as a community, understand and appreciate our position on the periphery of American culture as it is this defining factor in our collective identity that lends us many of our greatest strengths.


Check the Gate.

The take is finished. The director sits poised for a moment, considering his options.

He turns to the A.D. and says, "I like that one, let's keep it."

The A.D. then turns to the 1st A.C. and says those fateful words, "Check the gate."

For a long moment the set remains silent, forgoing the din of activity that usually follows a take for a collective hush. The crew breathe deeply in anticipation, poised between action and inaction, on the line between work that has been done and the work that will need to be done, shortly.

"Good gate," calls the 1st A.C..

The 1st A.D. keys his walkie and tips the weight of Sisyphus's boulder back towards the abyss, "Moving on."

The crew collectively exhale and the set erupts with motion in preparation for the next angle. Walkies chatter, keys bark orders, equipment moves, carts roll, cable is coiled and the entire apparatus of film making grinds one step closer to wrap.

"Check the gate" is one of those bits of film terminology that is universally understood within the industry but rarely appears in the public conciosness, at least not as often as it's sibling, "cut."

When a particular camera angle has been shot thought and no more takes are needed, the First Assistant Camera Operator, or 1st A.C. as he/she is usually called, removes the lens from the front of the camera, opens the aperture so that he/she can see all the way to where the film is exposed and checks for debris, dust, hair, sand and the like. If there is a foreign object or particle in the gate then everything since the last gate check is potentially compromised and probably cannot be used. The takes will then have to be repeated. We check the gate after every setup so that, if there is something in the aperture, if there is a "bad gate," the position of the lights and the camera is such that the takes can be re-shot immediately. If the gate is clear then the camera moves to a new angle, the lights are tweaked, the grip gear is repositioned and shooting continues into the next phase.

Now, camera people are meticulous about their equipment. In my film making career, which translates to some tens of thousands of camera setups, I have only ever seen two bad gates. I've shot on the beach, in the jungle, in the bottom of a cave and hanging out the side of a moving airplane and only twice has the gate been contaminated. This is a testament to the skill and attention to detail of A.C.'s as a species of film professional. A bad gate is a fluke, virtually an act of an angry God. I've heard first time interns muse that we check the gate too often.

"Check the Gate," though has a much greater significance in the mind of film makers than simply a line in the litany of the shooting day. When the A.C. says, "Good Gate" and the A.D. says, "Moving On," that is a milestone, a marker on the road to a finished film. That setup is complete and we can move on to the next task knowing that that much more of the picture is in the can an on its way to post production. That much more of the scene and thus that much more of the film and of the working day is done and we have taken one more step towards a realized movie. There is a palpable change in the demeanor of the crew as we move from the static, silent tension of photography to the frenetic conflagration of activity of the setup, the company move or the wrap.

"Check the Gate" is also an important cultural artifact for the film making industry. The High-Def cameras that are becoming increasingly more common on film sets have hermetically sealed components and their innards are thus free of debris, ergo, there is no need to check the gate. I think this is kind of sad. While HD has a number of advantages (and disadvantages) compared to film, those three words carry a lot of meaning in this industry. As High - Def slowly supplants celluloid as the dominant method of photography I find I miss the ritual bound up in that utterance. Moreover, I miss the feeling that surrounds them. That simple phrase, more than any other, governs the way that we, as film makers, go about doing what we do.

That having been said,

Good Gate.
Moving On.


One Foot in Front of the Other

While flipping through an alt weekly today I glanced a personal ad placed by someone cliche enough to say that they enjoyed "long walks."

No, no they don't. This person is a twit and has no conception of what "long walk" means. Almost nobody does. For most people a "long walk" is anything further than the mailbox.

I'm a walker. I've been a walker since I was in junior high school. My feet are my most preferred method of transport. I'll go for miles in all weather without complaint or second thought. I wear through rubber soled shoes like a Hummer goes through petrol. I've walked more than ten miles today. (I actually have, that's not an exaggeration).

If you tell me that you want to go for a "long walk" then you better know what you're in for. First, if you're wearing heels or sandals, you're clearly out of your league. Second, you might want to pack a lunch. Third, if you've never looked at a band of wandering Australian Aborigines and not though, "pussies," then you'd best stay home.

When I go for a "long walk" I'm coming back at a totally different time of day. When I go for a "long walk" I have to close my belt one hole along the way. I was the inspiration for that Stephen King story, it's called "The Long Walk" in case you've never heard of it. For me a "long walk" means finding one's self in a different municipality if not a different state. When I get to the far end of where I'm walking they usually speak a different dialect than where I started. Though, I live in Atlanta so, I suppose, I might only have to go a few blocks. I've had a pedometer show the words "you win."

Don't tell me you like long fucking walks unless you're prepared to keep the hell up. And, for that matter, if you can't keep up then you should probably get out of your house more.


If Loving You is Wrong...


I have fallen, fallen like I didn't know that I could. The emotions that well up in me, the warmth, the joy, the feeling of absolute completion that I get when I think of you makes my heart flutter as the wings of a hummingbird. I didn't know I could feel this way for you, our pairing is so unlikely, after all. But, no less I quake for you like a Saudi in an airport.

Ann, how could I ever be worthy of you? How could I ever hope to even begin to scale the mountain of your unending greatness. You, my love, are perfection. I know the mass media can be hard on you. They call you a war monger because you said that "The enemy — as well as innocent civilians — must be bombed into quivering terror." They call you a racist just because you said that America has "a seller's market for new immigrants." They call you a bitch just because you have no sense of tact or personal decency.

They don't understand you as I do, my beloved Ann. I know that, deep down, the majority of Americans really do want to be racist, classist, evangelical, xenophobes. I know that, one day, they will see the truth of your words. I know that, one day, everyone will come to see that tolerance is weakness, mercy is inexcuseable and concepts like equality, social justice, class mobility and universal freedom aren't, as we've been erroneously taught, the cornerstones of American ideology, but liberal hogwash.

We would be so perfect, Anne, you and I. We can play American foreign policy. I would hold you down and violate you for your most precious resources whilst destroying your identity and ask nothing but a 'thank you' in return. Ann, I can show you the true meaning of sexual liberalism and know, in my heart of hearts that it is the only kind of liberalism you will ever need.

What must I do to prove my unending, unwavering and unquestioning love for you? I'll spout administration talking points without a thought to their factual accuracy. I'll disavow all of my Muslim friends. I'll anally penetrate any Democrat you want just so you can call them a sodomite and not risk slandering them. I might even, if only for you, convert to Christianity.

Love me, Ann. Love me as I love you.

Deepest Affection,


I'm on a Feature...

My posting schedule may be a bit irregular for the next few weeks. I've taken a gig on a feature film, my eleventh. Making movies is, incidentally, not the job I was bitching about a few posts back, that was the job I have to keep in order to not starve in an otherwise freelance world. Film is the thing I was complaining about not getting to do as much as I want.

When working a feature, the days are long. The standard of performance is high, even lofty. The margin for error is very narrow and, if you're in the technical end of it like I am, the work is often laborious. And, there's virtually nothing else I would rather be doing.

I cannot overstate what a privilege it is to get to do this. I have grown up to do what I wanted to do when I was twelve years old and I wonder if there is anything more precious.

Hold the work, picture's up.


One Day I'll Wish Upon A Star

I sometimes wonder if the axioms of life that I was taught as a child might be incorrect, if we do a disservice by teaching our young that the world is the way that we want it to be rather than how it actually is.

The tortise and the hare teach that perseverence, patience and desire trump ability and that the underdog can triumph.

The fable of the puppy on the bridge and the myth of Narciccus teach that greed and vanity only rob one of what is truly valuable.

The Emperor's New Clothes is all about the daftness of the powerful and the honesty of youth.

The tale of Stone Soup shows that a community will come together in times of need.

But, the real world is not so pretty. As much as we would like these things to be true, often, they are not. Perseverance must be tempered by realism lest one make the same mistakes infinitely. Talent often trumps desire. Victory and success are, as often as not, the pickings of the ruthless and the treacherous. The guilty often go unpunished and appearances, not integrity, are everything. The meek shall not inherit the Earth. The underdog rarely triumphs.

We glorify the inglorious every day when we worship at the feet of sports heroes. We validate greed and vanity in our nationwide obsessions with beauty and wealth. We value celebrity and notoriety over humanity and humility. We exalt the vain, the greedy, the self important, the daftly beautiful, the disrespectful, the powerful but feckless and the dishonest and we pretend that they are the ideal of success.

All the while we keep telling ourselves and our children these stories, these parables and fables of a world we would like and not the world we have wrought.

I am not suggesting that there isn't ample room in the world for idealism. In fact, I think idealism is something that we need, something that fuels the soul. That is why so much of the literature and film meant for adults echoes these same themes. I just wonder how much we set ourselves up for disappointment. I wonder how much better the world might be if we acknowledged our own shortcomings as a race and worked to make the world the way we would want it to be rather than just telling stories. Then again, I'm just another of those storytellers.