Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Art of Josh Barkey

I recently knocked together a collection of my paintings and drawings that you can pick up for only $10.99 at THIS CREATESPACE ADDRESS.

Here are a some sample-pages:

And here's what somebody said about it on the Amazon page:

"Great little book of delightful, witty, and profound art, along with the author's commentary. Barkey invites us into his mind and his art creation process. Reflections on technology and on human apathy towards suffering and beauty. Glimpses of faith as well. He says he has turned his creative energies from visual art towards writing, but I wish he'd do more visual art at some point. I love the way he thinks through images. And he's very gifted in painting and drawing. His 'Naive' (Evian spelled backwards), a rendition of Velazquez's 'The Water Carrier of Seville' replacing the water glass with a plastic bottle of Evian as a philosophical footnote on the toxicity of our time, is every bit as good as the original! Lots of fun, and a quick read/perusal."

Support a not-quite-yet-starving artist! And share it on your social internets! Pretty please!

Monday, October 20, 2014

THE GOOD LIE: a review

I'm a couple days' work away from finishing a new script - a sci-fi/thriller/alien-possession space epic. A real nail-biter (I hope) and the sort of thing that, if I got stupid-lucky, could one day turn into a buh-jillion dollar blockbuster extravaganza. I'm writing this script because I love sci-fi, and because there's an underlying story there about human connection, and love. 

And right now, I'm doubting if it's worth it. 

I just got back from watching The Good Lie, and it had me on the brink of tears (and sometimes over) from the very start. It's already on my top-ten for 2014, and here's why: this is the sort of film that should win Oscars. It probably won't, but it should, because it's important.

I've been interested in the country of Sudan since around 1999, when I did some industrial treeplanting in the wilds of British Columbia with a Sudanese political refugee named Emmanuel. Emmanuel was a man with the scars of torture all over him. A man who was doing a back-breaking, piecework job to save up money to buy the livestock that would cover the dowry for the fiancee he'd been forced to leave behind in the Congo. Perhaps it was he who told me about the Lost Boys of Sudan - groups of boys from the Dinka and Nuer ethnic groups, who were killed and displaced by the millions. Thousands upon thousands of orphaned children were forced to walk for hundreds upon hundreds of miles, braving murder by roving soldiers, disease, starvation, and wild animals. A few survived, making it to refugee camps in other countries where they endured subsistence living, and grew to adulthood bearing the scars of their truly horrific experiences. Some of them found sponsors and came to America, where they encountered entirely new and seemingly endless tribulations. 

This past year I read the novelized biography "What is the What," by David Eggers. It tells the story of Valentino Achak Deng, who was one of those Lost Boys. It is a difficult, difficult read, and I remember getting through it and thinking that everybody should read it. People should know. They should realize that the world is an unjust place. 

People should be forced to think about the fact that until there is justice, peace, and health for everyone, then no one can be truly free. The blood of the innocents cries out... not for our pity - for they're as beautifully human as we - but for our humanity. Our love. 

The Good Lie is a beautiful, beautiful love story most likely inspired by the novel, "What is the What" (the last name of the main character is Deng, and I could feel the spirit of the book and many of its moments throughout the movie). 

The film is heart-wrenching, it is funny, and (like all good stories) it is a love story.

It is a love story that is not over. 

There are still millions starving worldwide. There are still wars, and people who think the solution to violence is more war. There are still a million tiny injustices the world over, where the vicious, cunning, and conniving win - where kind and gentle innocents are run over in the name of power, money, and indifference. Indifference like mine... like yours.

In light of that, I shrug my shoulders and ask why, when movies like this are getting made, I bother writing what feels right now to be a little bit like nonsense. I don't have an answer to that, except to maybe dig back into my script, and make absolutely certain that in some way it, too, is a love story. 

Do me a favor, though... go see this movie while it's still in theaters. It's currently sitting at 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. It's got a brilliant cast, with stellar performances from its genuine Lost-Boys stars, and wonderful work from supporting actors Reese Witherspoon, Corey Stoll, and Sarah Baker (et al). Vote with your dollars for the sort of film that ought to be made. The kind that shines a light on injustice, while at the same time painting a picture of a love that expands our concept of what it can mean to be human.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

a humongous fungus

Check out this sweet natural masterpiece my dad found at the base of one of the bigger oak trees on our property. These are the actual freakin' colors here, folks. No photoshaugmentation at all. Lego-man added for size-context.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


My director man-friend Ben Joyner, who is my bestie now because I say so, just reminded me of this beautiful little short film about how connected film makes us all. How because of film we're all besties, and isn't that beautiful?

So okay, Ben technically just reminded everyone, generically, on facebook. But that doesn't mean we're not besties... right?

ASPIRATIONAL from Matthew Frost on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Two New Books, Coming Soon!

I'm working again this month.

Like, for other people. 

For money. 

And even though it's great because it's childcare and kids are awesome, I gotta say... I don't know how y'all do it. 

I mean, it's been over two years since I had a "job," and after all that time of working entirely for myself -- and working entirely on being creative and making stuff and being more creative -- it just seems nuts to me that there are now days when I only get three or even (gasp!) two hours to work on my novels and screenplays and suchlike. 

I try to ameliorate that monstrous reality by getting up between four-thirty and five most mornings to spend a few hours banging away at the keys before my kid gets up or I have to go off to work, but it's just not enough. 

It isn't. 

Time is zipping by, and I am dying, here. 
Every single day, I get one day closer to being dead. 

And even though I'm aware that all the stuff I make is going to crumble to dust and be forgotten anyways, well... I've still got stuff to make, dangit! 

I suppose I could sacrifice significant relationships, hermit myself away in a hole somewhere, and still get a fair bit done. But I've tried that before, and ultimately what happens is I end up in the corner in a fetal position, wishing a bear would barge in and eat my head. So 2-3 hours it is, for now. 

Next month, though, my schedule precludes working for someone else (film festivals to attend, and a visit to Massachusetts to visit a Massachusettsian). So no job-for-Josh in November.

I still need money, though. So by sometime early next month, I'm going to have had released (take that, grammar nazis!) not one, but TWO new books: a novel, and a collection-of-art.

Heads up! 

Be prepared! 

Loosen those purse strings! 


The Management

- - -

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

make it a love story

Last Thursday at around two o'clock, I found myself thinking about quantum superpositions. 

A quantum superposition, according to wikipedia, is "a fundamental principle of quantum mechanics that holds that a physical system—such as an electron—exists partly in all its particular theoretically possible states simultaneously; but when measured or observed, it gives a result corresponding to only one of the possible configurations." 

The reason I was thinking about quantum superpositions last Thursday at around two o'clock is because that was when I saw Richard Beck's post about them on his blog, where he compared his personal faith/doubt polarity to a quantum superposition. Dr. Beck suggested that faith is like an elementary particle, which (it is believed) is in an infinity of places at the same time. It is both there and not there, and it is only our attempt to quantify or measure its presence that forces the probability of its "there-or-not-thereness" to collapse down to whatever state we end up perceiving as reality. For Dr. Beck, faith is "always both Yes and No, believing and doubting."

Quantum superpositions are hard (impossible?) to wrap your head around, but I think they have wonderful applications for story-telling.

Guess what? 

You are a storyteller, and right now you are telling a story-of-your-life. Out of the near-infinite raw material of experience, you are engaging in a constant re-structuring, fitting your ongoing reality into a necessarily wildly-inaccurate and over-simplified version of what's really going on. 

You don't really know anything. You've just been forced by the need to function and survive into perpetually attempting the impossible: to make sense of infinity. You can't, though, because you're not a god. You're you. You've got a teeny-tiny little pea-sized brain that - despite being the most mysterious, wonderful collection of cells in the known universe - will always be limited by time, space, and finitude. 

So you tell a story. 

You tell it using bits and pieces of other stories - stories you borrow from everywhere. From the stories your parents told you as a child about the way things are, to the sermon you heard in college, to the narrative you read about on that scientist-y website just last week.

Mostly you tell this story to yourself, so that you'll know what you think about things.

But you also tell it to other people, in order to both validate it and to help give it shape. To make it real. I tend to think that the louder and more insistently you tell this story to other people, the more likely it is that you're trying to fill a hug-and-kisses deficit that built up earlier in your life... but that's not the point I'm trying to get at, here. 

The point I'm trying to get at is that each time you tell a story, you collapse the actual reality of your world, removing all the other probabilities and making this one little story you've told into the one that's real.

It's not really real... but it nonetheless becomes your lived reality.

This sounds, of course, like the pluralistic gobbledygook I was warned as a child would lead me straight into the arms of the devil (another story!). Note, however, that I am not denying the existence of reality... I'm just raising some concerns about your ability to apprehend it. This is basic, Philosophy 101 stuff, and is essential to maintaining your humility as a human being. 

It also has very practical applications.

Here's an example: 

You wake up. Your neck is sore. 

This is a new bit of experience that can be fitted into your life-story in any number of ways.

Here are a few:

Story One: You wake up. Your neck his sore. You assume that you have cancer-of-the-neck and are about to die. You run into the street in your underwear, sprint to the nearest ATM, and give all the money in your checking account to the bum at the corner who you've been giving a wide berth to these past three weeks. Then you sprint to the nearest church and demand that God admit you into heaven.

Story Two: You wake up. Your neck is sore. You curse God, the Devil, and Barack Obama for not choreographing reality so that you never have to endure any discomfort, ever. You roll out of bed. You kick the dog. You call up your ex-wife and tell her she's stupid and ugly. You make a molotov cocktail in your kitchen and toss it out the window of your apartment building onto the first pedestrian you see. 

Story Three: You wake up. Your neck is sore. You assume you slept on it wrong, and resolve to stretch more during the day. Then you remember you have a neck, and that you need to be grateful for life. You are. You drop by the florist's on the way to work and get a bouquet of flowers to your mom. 

The possibilities are endless, but the thing you must absolutely remember is this: stories have consequences. The story you tell today will influence the sort of raw material you'll have to tell your story with tomorrow, because as infinite as the possibilities for your life are, every single story comes with a whole lot of inertia. The first storiy I mentioned ends up with you in the looney bin. The next, jail. The third gets you another hug from your mom. 

As you meander through your life collapsing an infinity of possibilities into one, simple story, don't forget to pause from time to time and really pay attention to exactly what sort of story it is that you are telling. 

Is it a love story?

There are a lot of ugly, destructive stories being told out there, and when you feel the weight of their inertia, it is very, very easy to despair. But just remember that the answer to an ugly story is never, EVER to join it. You don't ever have to accept someone else's narrative.

I believe firmly that all good stories are love stories, and that your life is an opportunity to tell a story that positively DRIPS with love. You are collapsing an infinity of possibilities into the story-of-your-life.

Why not make it a love story? 

- - -

Whazzat? You really enjoyed this post? Well, perhaps if you share it on your social internets, then someone you know will enjoy it, too.

Or maybe support my writing habit with one of the options at the top of the sidebar to the right. Like, by grabbing a copy of my short story collectionOr picking an option and paying for a custom blog post. -->

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