Saturday, August 20, 2016

predicting Trump, circa Y2K

Back in 2000-ish, Barbara Ehrenreich published a book called Nickel and Dimed, in which she chronicled her year spent attempting to survive on low-wage jobs in America. Her experiment did not go well, but the subsequent book sold more than a million and a half copies and "fueled nationwide campaigns for a living wage." Campaigns which, of course, worked perfectly. Because poverty in America has been eradicated. Obviously.

I feel like quoting the entire book, then calling you up one by one and forcing you to read it. That would probably be illegal, so instead I'll just quote the bit that I think explains the Trump & Bernie phenomenon that we've been witnessing this past year-and-a-bit.*

This extended quote comes near the end of the book and without the preceding pages as context will lack some of the raw impact... but I still think it's worth your time:

Monday, August 15, 2016

In which the Oscar-Winner reads my film script...

Screenwriting contests suck.

Heck, all art-contests suck. They take something that's mostly unquantifiable (art) and they rank it. Which is just, y'know, rank. For artists, the process of entering contests is painful, fraught with anxiety, and usually ends with a lot of muttering under the covers about how the system is rigged, and what do you expect in a world where Donald Frickin' Trump is a "serious" candidate for U.S. President?

For this and other reasons, I hate screenwriting contests and have sworn not to enter them after this year. Still... it's pretty swell to be able to report that:


As if that weren't cool enough, in the semifinalist round of the Nicholl Fellowship all scripts are read by four members of the Academy (the people who do the Oscars). This year, two hundred Academy members have volunteered, of which around twenty-five percent have either won an Oscar or been nominated for one.

So right this very second, an Oscar-winner could be reading my script!!!

Pretty cool, right?

Also, not-cool, because I submitted very nearly the first draft of the script to the Nicholl (to meet their deadline), and I'm now four drafts further into it and GROANING that it's possible that Steven Freakin' Spielberg could be reading what I now think of as a vastly-inferior draft. Ouch!

Zero complaints, though.

Onward and upward!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Josh Barkey: 2016 DOUBLE Nicholl Quarterfinalist (and oh yeah, also DOUBLE Page Contest quarterfinalist, too)

So, yeah.

I just found out that my scripts THE SUICIDE CODE and MARLENE THE DIVINE are Nicholl fellowship quarterfinalistsputting them in the top 357 scripts out of 6,915. In the biggest, most prestigious contest out there (the Nicholl is run by the Academy). Which is nifty.

Those same two scripts are also currently quarterfinalists in the Page Screenwriting Contest.

Both the Page and the Nicholl have relatively early deadlines (compared to a couple other contests I've entered), so the drafts I submitted were pretty early and therefore (in my opinion) pretty sucky. Which is my way of being not-optimistic, so I won't be disappointed.

Still... pretty cool.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

choosing a love story

  1. There are always a wide variety of possible explanations for another person's actions. This applies to the actions of celebrities as much as it does to your mom, or to gypsies you see sidling (sneaking? dancing?) through the shadows in the park.
  2. You cannot know what's going on in another person's head. You can (and probably sometimes should) try to tell a story to yourself that will explain another person's actions... but you're going to get that story wrong. There will always be factors that you will miss. To believe otherwise is to choose arrogance over wisdom.
  3. If you listen to the voice of wisdom, it will also tell you that the story you choose will affect the person you will becomehow you will live and move through the world, and what you will come to believe about the people who occupy that world. 
  4. As a result, this story will dictate (for all intents and purposes) the sort of world you will actually come to live in.
  5. Therefore... choose the story that fits most comfortably with the best possible world. Be wise and cunning as a fox, yesespecially in situations where it is important for you to make informed decisionsbut also be humbly charitable, remembering that your judgments change you far more than they will ever change those upon whom you pronounce them.
  6. When in doubt... choose doubt. Doubt and its attending humility will lead you on the path of love.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Public Lives of Bees

They say the bees are dying, possibly entirely because of stupid Monsanto and their stupid, pesticidal stupidness.

I don't know if that's true, but we've definitely seen extremely low pollination rates in our garden this year, and the Monsanto-mindset has absolutely contributed to that.

Yet another super-sucky bit of modern-day suckiness, and all I can say is that after our agricultural system collapses and the majority of the human population starves to death, there probably won't be enough of an unthinking consumer base around anymore to prop up agribusiness. So... silver lining?

Except for I don't want to starve, and I don't want my family to starve, and I don't want you to starve, out there in internet-land. So how about we maybe do something about this? It's only been, what, fifty/sixty years we've been violating our ecology in this way. I'll bet in another fifty, we could clean this bad boy right up.

Whaddaya say?

Sunday, June 19, 2016

stop the stupid...

I wish every screenwriter out there would watch this video, then internalize it and stop writing stupid, expository dialogue. The end.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

hope and love in a culture of fear

There's a tendency when people start screaming about not taking their guns away to want to tell them they're employing a straw man, or to educate them about what a straw man IS. The problem is not, however, a failure of education or intellect. It's a failure of compassion, of kindness, and of love. What is the answer to that sort of failure?

I have no idea. More love?

It seems so hopeless, when so many people are so sick with fear. But hopelessness is, I think, just a failure of imagination. Let's forget hopelessness. Let's imagine a world in which the first response to tragedy is not belligerent defense of a hobby that even the most tawdry sort of love would quickly abandon if there were even the faint glimmer of a chance that it would mean an end to such violence. Let's imagine a world where we respond to tragedy not with fear but with love-soaked sorrow, and a love-driven determination to ensure that it never happens again.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

American Politics

For some reason, my eight-year-old son finds this whole thing hilarious.

In Ictu Oculi, 2009 from greta alfaro on Vimeo.

Discovered via Futility Closet.

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