Monday, May 26, 2014

"How Are You": A Definition

When I ask you how you're doing, I'm not puking up a piece of small-talk fluff.

Let me just get that out on the table. Maybe “How are you?” is different in the real world. But since there is some confusion about what it means, I'll let you know my definition—what it means when I ask you how you're doing.

When I say, “How are you?”, I am not looking for a one-sentence response. When I ask you how you're doing, it's because I genuinely care. How are you is me asking how your life is going—what you're feeling right now, what's good and what's bad. I want to understand what's going on. I'm not asking for a one-word answer; I'm asking for a window into your life.

How are you is me asking what's on your mind. What has you excited? What has you down? It's a permission to talk, to ramble even. If my friends can stand listening to me talk about the state of the animation industry, it's the least I can do to listen to whatever you're currently obsessed over.

And contrary to popular belief, I don't mind. When I get going, I can talk a lot. But my default is to listen, and I really do enjoy it—even if I'm not saying anything in return.

And when you reply with “alright” without any explanation, it's a missed opportunity for both you and me. If I wanted to know what's new in your life, you can effectively shoot down the conversation by replying with one word: “good”. I don't get to better understand how your life is going, and you don't get to talk to me.

Let's face it. “How are you” is an empty phrase ninety percent of the time. It's just something you say after “hello”, and too often the reply is a cover-up for how you're actually feeling. (“Fine”—except not really.)

And there's really no better phrase in the English language to catapult people into conversation, if they take advantage of it. Shoot straight. Tell people how you're actually doing. 'Cause if you're honest, you're not just “fine”. People can't sum up their lives in one word. You could be doing fantastic, you could be doing awful, but no one will know if you don't tell them.

Dare to say more than one sentence.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Seeing Beyond the Sunset

The other day, I was riding my bike.  I turned down a path lined with old trees; I'm not quite sure what type they were, but since trees here typically shed leaves all year round, the gravel was lined with brown.

I followed the road up a little bit and around a newly built house.  As I rounded the house, I came upon an intersection, and beyond the intersection there was a grassy area.

The sun was beginning to set, and just as I reached that place, it shot yellow beams all over the grass and hung in the air like mist.  It was so golden and dreamlike that I stopped my bike and gazed at it for a good minute.  And for whatever reason, my mind turned to one of my stories; and I thought about the vision I had seen in my mind's eye, of the Dreamtreader sailing through a golden sky—a sky just like that sea mist that had drifted in to sit on the grass.

Then I went on.

Today it happened again, though not the same way.  The sun was in the process of setting, and I was on the road as it passed by the beach.  I halted the bike and watched the sun set; when the last bit of burning yellow had left the ocean horizon, I continued on my ride.

But the sunset continued on, while my back was turned.  When I turned round again to head back home, I turned my gaze to the skies and saw the sunlight, while gone from my vision, still playing in the clouds and little thunderheads off to the east.  The sky was awash in pastels, golds and oranges and dusky light reds.

It led like a trail to the south; and then it halted in a swirl of pink and gold that mixed with the liquid navy sky, and all of it seemed dusky, like God had added a bit of cream and grey to the mix.

At the center of this, the full moon was rising.  It was oddly inviting, like a cup of warm milk.  It was at the center of this swirl, the milky white contrasting with the dark blue and pink-white-orange clouds.  It made you feel like something was happening; somebody was sailing up there in the colors, stirring them up and tasting the moon.

And again, I thought of my story, Dreamtreader.  I wondered if it was the Dreamtreader sailing up there; and if it wasn't, that it should be.  It felt like the sunset had been made for my story; that the golden beams I had seen on the grass were the same golden beams I had seen in the clouds and on the sails of a sky ship.

That little bit of sunset stuck in my heart.  It gave the story gravity and reality.  Because if I could see that vision in the sunset, perhaps others could see it too.  Perhaps other people had felt that same feeling when they stare up at the pastel clouds; perhaps other people feel like there is something alive in the dying of the sun.

There are days when I wonder.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Light Green Grass Studios: A New Era in Animated Movies

Some weeks ago Hollywood was shaken to the roots by the announcement of the incorporation of a new animation phenomenon, Light Green Grass Studios.  The studio is spearheaded by executive Joe Kordney, of the little-known Princess and the Mafia controversy, a movie which made Hollywood history by having a net profit of negative $226.1 million.

“The success of that movie,” he said, “should be ascribed to my screenplay revisions and my innovative work on watercress animation.”  As he explains in a widely read Rife interview, all this credit was stolen from him by his money-grabbing associates.  He has had similar experiences with El Doratho and the plagiarism of his treatment of Mango, which was to be his debut work.

It was this injustice that led him to begin work on creating a new animation studio.  At first the fledgling idea had financial problems, and existed in name only for “nine hundred and sixty-two days,” according to Kordney.  But through hard work and a generous gift of $203.23 from an anonymous donor, Kordney was able to get the studio off of the ground.

“We're starting out small,” said Kordney.  “We're focusing on short films right now, experimenting with animation styles such as Skin Deep, a method that will allow us to render animated toes with incredible detail and realism.  We're planning on releasing them on Redbox in a collection titled Grass in Shorts by 2015.  If it sells well, we'll follow up in 2016 with Grass in Pants.”

When asked about the source of his passion for animated movies, he said, with tears in his eyes, “Money.  If I can make even one dollar off of a viewer, then I'll consider my life goal fulfilled.  Even one dollar is worth the sacrifice.”

He went on to elaborate on their plans for full-length films: “And the money's in feature-length, no doubt about it.  What Pixar did with Toy Story and what Disney did with Tangled, we're going to do with our next project.  If all goes according to plan, it'll be such a rocker that it'll knock Frozen out of the park.”

Kordney explained that, while the project was under wraps, he could give a little bit of detail.  “I've hired Brett Blech of the Diary of a Raincloud fame to write the original screenplay, which naturally I'll be overseeing.  We don't have many ideas yet, but we do know that we want the story to feature a talking mattress and some hilarious bathroom humor.  It's a bestselling idea, and I think it'll be really well-received.  And of course, animated movies aren't all jokes; when we came up with the main theme of the movie, it nearly made me cry.  What is it, you say?  Well, it'll have a rebellious teenager and an overprotective father theme...can't say much more than that.  We wouldn't want anyone to take our idea!”

This blockbuster is slated to release sometime in 2018, and Kordney seemed optimistic that it could outdo even Frozen 2.  Speaking of Frozen 2, he mentioned that he had a lot of respect for Disney's decision—the fact that they announced a sequel before Frozen was even out of theaters meant that they had the most important goal in mind: profit.  “It's good to know that even the big-name studios have old fashioned values,” Kordney said.

Light Green Grass Studios is expected to release their first short sometime in the next six months, and the investors feel sure that the eyes of Hollywood will be waiting with bated breath.