Beginning Year Eight
In recent years, I've let my postings here dwindle in number; I count 25 for the entirety of 2011 and this will be the 21st of 2012, so there's a good chance I'll at least tie last year's output this time around. In defense of my apparent laziness, I can point to the prodigious output of my other blog, Pause. Rewind. Obsess., which debuted at the start of this year and contains more than 170 full-length reviews at present, and also to my socializing on Facebook, which encompasses much of what I would normally do here, and which I find purely and simply nourishing to my soul. I know a lot of people don't care for Facebook, and others resist its siren song much as I once did, but it helps me to feel connected and there are many wonderful people there whose contact I value.
I've recently come out the other end of a long episode in life that might be chalked up to a mid-life crisis; one of its symptoms was an alienation from my life as I've built it from the time I was a teenager. I reached a point where I saw all the things I had collected over the decades as a form of medication to pile up around myself and dull myself to the truth of how empty my life really was. I'm sure that part of this feeling was due to completing the Bava book and suddenly no longer having that big mission in life to give it momentum and a specific goal; another part was the estrangement and death of my mother, but it was also rooted in my genuine dissatisfaction with living only to work.
During this period I pursued screenwriting, began to travel more, put myself out there more, and it's been very satisfying -- aside from the fact that I can't get anyone (not even my agent sometimes) to read my screenplays. My first, THE MAN WITH KALEIDOSCOPE EYES, about Roger Corman's adventures while filming THE TRIP, got the immediate support of Joe Dante and his partner Elizabeth Stanley; it's a script everyone loves, which once came agonizingly close to happening with a major star in the lead, but eight years later, it's no closer to getting made. The last one I wrote, an adaptation of Orson Bean's memoir ME AND THE ORGONE, has been greeted by the few who read it as my best work in this field, but getting it made is a much taller order than I can undertake alone. Orson loved it and has given me his written carte blanche to do with it whatever needs doing, ad infinitum. I am thinking the best thing to do might be to adapt it as a stage play, but it's a big rethink and, right now, there is no time. In addition to assembling a new issue of VIDEO WATCHDOG every other month, Donna and I have been devoting a lot of time and thought to developing a new branch of our business, which we hope to announce before the end of the year. She doesn't want me to discuss it yet, so suffice to say, it has claimed a lot of time, hers and mine, because the conceptual must always be thoroughly worked out before something becomes concrete and, hopefully, profitable.
You may also remember that I spent some time pursuing the possibility of becoming a filmmaker, writing one short film project and writing and directing another at The Factory Digital Filmmaking School at the Douglas Education Center in Monessen, PA. The first project, BAGGAGE CLAIM, was never completed; what was completed was fairly disastrous, though our actors were wonderful and our crew certainly gave it their best effort. I don't want to go into what went wrong; while I can't say it was entirely my own fault, I do accept sole responsibility. It was a learning experience for all involved and I am happy to say that I left the set with at least a couple dozen more friends than I had upon my arrival, some of the dearest people I've known in this life -- so it was ultimately a good and instructive experience. The second project, a trailer and dialogue scene for a proposed film of my novel THROAT SPROCKETS, which I both wrote and directed, went very well indeed; I managed to shoot a six-minute scene and two-minute trailer (including glimpses of many scenes not included in the main scene) in just slightly more than two days, finishing more than half a day ahead of schedule. The resulting footage was screened at last year's Fantasia Festival in Montreal, where it was well received; it has been kept under wraps since because my producer Robert Tinnell and I still have hopes of getting the feature made -- hopes that, I'm glad to say, were recently revived. It's true what they say about one door closing and another door opening.
I mentioned earlier that I had come to look at my belongings as a kind of medication, as a buffer to my underlying feelings of unhappiness. I've more recently come to an understanding that I was duping myself, perhaps hoping to propel myself toward some meaningful life change by alienating myself from the old one. As it happens, one of the ways I've always coped with depression was to spend a little money and I recently returned to that. Earlier this year, I decided that having MAD magazine on DVD-ROM was not enough; I wanted the actual issues. So, with the help of eBay, I began to reassemble (and exceed) my lost childhood collection of MAD. Wanting to take the best possible care of them, I also bought some magazine bags and boards -- and, as I sat on my office floor, perfecting my archive of freckle-faced, missing-toothed satire, I gradually found myself in possession of more than just magazines; I was coming back into the possession of myself. I got more bags and boards and did the same work to preserve my collections of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND, CASTLE OF FRANKENSTEIN, FANTASTIC MONSTERS OF THE FILMS, LITTLE SHOPPE OF HORRORS and MONSTERS FROM THE VAULT.
Doing this turned out to be satisfying on so many unexpected levels. Bagging and boarding old magazines requires that you handle them, and I found myself pausing in my work to reacquaint myself with the full breadth and feel of publications I had compressed to carry around in my mind for most of my life. It only followed that I slowly began reacquainting myself with myself. These things were not a form of medication, after all; they were a form of gratification; they were all extensions of me and the things I loved at different times of life. And throughout this period I'm discussing, I must admit that I spent much of it feeling unloved. I could blame my mother and her emotional problems, I could blame my wife and her necessary absorption into running the magazine, but these wouldn't be the whole cause; the real fault resided within me. I wasn't caring enough for myself. The more I cared for my magazines, the more I doted on them and took pride in them, the better I began to feel about my life and about myself -- the more I came back into the fuller possession of myself. Because I am the unifying force behind my collection; it reflects my tastes, it externalizes and mirrors me, it represents me. It's my womb away from womb, and it nourishes me when I connect with it. I need to spend more time immersed in it.
I believe it's a healthy thing to hold onto a certain amount of dissatisfaction about one's life; it forces us to move forward, attempt change for the better, and it's the only way we can truly effect progressive transformation. I still intend to change my life for the better, to accomplish new things while I still have the youth and health to do so, but I am more embracing now of my past and my individuality. I can accept myself and my own goals as reason enough to try, reason enough to triumph.
So this is where I am as I begin Year Eight of this blog. Video WatchBlog also externalizes, mirrors and represents me, and I thank you for your continued companionship as my reader, even if I have become something of an unreliable narrator, in terms of attendance, in recent years. I'll try to keep in better touch.