Friday, March 23, 2007

The Lives of Others

If you haven't seen this movie, put it on your list. Wow. What an all around well-made film. Writing, directing and acting are all top top notch. It's set in East Berlin in 1984, a time and place when the work of artists---something we take so much for granted---was under intense scrutiny by the state and punishable by interrogation, blacklisting and imprisonment.

But it's not really a statement about artists or oppressive regimes, it's a statement about human potential and a brilliant one at that. It won the Oscar for best Foreign Language Film---it's easily one of the best I've seen in any language.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Sleep On This

a friend of mine recently wrote a rambling pre-dawn email from the depths of insomnia and when he asked for some advice, i found myself writing a book. ok, so it's only 4 bullet points, but i could easily write more because i've definitely had my troubles with sleep deprivation over the years and it truly sucks B-A-double-L-S. so for any of you out there who deal with it, here is my humble advice:

1.) first off, make sure you're giving yourself plenty of time to wind down before you actually go to bed. ideally don't watch a lot of tv or have crazy stimulating conversations about the universe for at least an hour before---you get the idea. dim the lights about 20 minutes before you want to go to sleep and once you're ready to sleep, make sure all lights are totally out, including t.v., laptop, etc.

2.) here's my own personal breathing technique that works for me: listen to the rhythm and pace of people's breath when they're sleeping---really listen and absorb it. then imitate it the next time you hit the pillow---obviously don't imitate snorers or spastic breathers. the idea is to get a smooth and steady flow going.

3.) try meditation---it helps w/anxiety and the racing thoughts that lead to insomnia. most major cities offer free classes you can find online---google "vipassana" or "insight meditation". it'll bring a little more space into your mind and promote relaxation. though it's not always an immediate solution, it'll help over time.

4.) and last but not least: melatonin is a great over the counter non-pharmaceutical sleep aid when you're in a jam---it's basically the hormone secreted by the body in response to darkness---most health food stores have it (so does Whole Foods). i wouldn't recommend making a regular habit out of it (after a while it makes me a little groggy in the AM), but it's great if all of the above haven't worked on a particularly bad night.

at the end of the day, it's really about what works for you, so try different things. if you google "beating insomnia" or something along those lines you'll find a bunch of ideas out there, like this:

that's all i got---sweet dreams.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Just Like Jesus

Every once in a while, a conversation walks into my brain and I write it down. More and more often, I take it and I try to turn it into something. But here's an example of an uncut stone, straight outta my grey matter and onto a flowery piece of notepaper that says "memos" at the top. I must have written this at my folks' place:

Marilyn: I just don't understand why you'd DO something like that.

John: I, I can't explain it, I feel like . . . it makes me feel alive.

Marilyn: Puttin' your life in danger and scarin' the livin' hell outta yer Momma? That makes you feel alive??

John: I know: it sounds---

Marilyn: Sounds crazy. You need t'nearly kill yourself to feel---

John: I don't want to . . . well . . . wait, no, yeah, yeah. That's kinda it: to be so close to death that you feel alive---that's what it is. It's a reminder. I don't know. You know how people talk about living on the . . . edge?

Marilyn: Uhhh, yeah?

John: And everybody thinks they're crazy?

Marilyn: Uh-huh. Sweetie that's cuz they usually ARE.

John: Well what if they were sane? Saner than everybody else?

Marilyn: Now, that's just---

John: No, I'm serious: think about it. What about Jesus?

Marilyn: What??

John: Seriously, listen, he went right up to the edge, everybody thought HE was crazy, right?

Marilyn: Oh, my Lord, so now you're Jesus??

John: Oh, come on, Mom, if I were Jesus would I be arguin' with my Momma? Hey wait a minute, that whole water and wine thing, he WAS arguin' with his Momma at first. (a mock "epiphany") Maybe, maybe I AM Je---

Marilyn: Alright, boy, you have lost your mind, that's enough. It's time you get ready for bed, come on now.

John laughs, then Marilyn joins, despite herself and he heads off to bed. End of scene.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Everything I need to Know I learned in Acting Class

I found this list from a journal entry back in 1999:

You need to have an objective and put all you've got into achieving it.
Learn how to listen.
Don't upstage.
Live in the moment.
Less is more.
Invent nothing, deny nothing.
It's never too late in the run to make a new discovery.
You can't repeat a great moment.
Plan all you want, the spontaneous is more exciting.
If you make a mistake, deal with it the best you can and move on.
You can't plan for the unexpected.
The journey is always more important than the destination.
Learn how to take a complement.
You need to find your own definition of "making it".