Thursday, December 15, 2005

Nocturnal Holiday Musings

It’s 4:50 a.m... I’ve been listening to a rather languishing a.m. station that’s tuned in somewhat faintly within the corridors of my dysphonic somnambulist soul. Frank Sinatra is softly crooning a perpetually romantic rendition of ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’. Director Frank Capra’s timelessly poignant character, George Bailey consistently occupies that virtuously relevant portion of my often disillusioned holiday heart. But make no mistake about it... I sincerely admire George Bailey. I can’t help it. He reminds us all each and every hectic holiday season that we are so much more than a piece of irrelevant carpet lint on the vastly eternal rug of life.

Clarence, the wacky yet lovable “angel first class” shares his child-like interpretation of the individual significance we each take for granted on a daily basis. As resident ‘Peanuts’ Zen-like philosopher Linus explains to Charlie Brown the religious and spiritual connotation of Christmas, I must confess, I feel compelled to carry a trusty blanket and find peaceful solace in all of my nocturnal wisdom. Linus of course, personifies the immovable force of absolute faith in all that is truly “hopeful”. Whether you are religious or not, you can’t help but feel a bit comforted by Linus’ frank understanding of the human tendency to become “caught up” in the whole process of materialism and status. As Linus so eloquently explains, the holidays are supposed to, apart from all of those witty yet immensely commercialized standards, generate a distinctly humble sense of “goodwill” and “compassion” amongst all mankind.

From my own life experience, this of course, all somehow tends to dissipate during what I call the “Holiday Deadline Crunch Week”... Of course, I have often pondered the real meaning behind the necessity of shopping relentlessly for the appropriate gift. I’ve often discovered over the years, I have no accurate way to gauge the word “appropriate” when it comes to gift selection. It’s almost like blindly throwing an aerodynamically correct paper airplane into a hurricane.

So instead of cluttering my psyche with the vast selection of never quite appropriate gifts, I choose to contemplate concepts of a more consequential nature. I pause quietly to reflect upon my own Christmas past. I envision my family and friends and I must admit I begin to think perhaps the ultimate purpose of the holiday season does really come from within... that the meaningful gifts we essentially give one another each and every year can’t ever be discovered at Wal Mart... that the Grinch couldn’t steal Christmas from the kindly Whos in Whoville... because the sentiment exists in a deeper place we tend to forget during the mundane rituals we so incessantly complain about.

The indisputable passion of the holiday season allows us all the rare opportunity to embrace those closest to us with love. That a likely explanation for the evolution of life on the planet is that it was deemed necessary that there should be at least one species on the planet with an awareness of its underlying reason for existence. And just what might be the reason why this form of life has come to exist, to have this wondrous thing called “self-awareness?” I myself argue that it is because there is the need for at least one species to be able to articulate its reason for being.

Reflecting on the wake, my purposeful passage through the last forty-something years of this sojoum “around the great pond” has left on the shore, it occurs to me that it has been to reach a point where it was possible to recognize that this thing called “life”... has been different as the result of my having been here. It is the realization that just as I can list a litany of experiences that have shaped the choices I have made. It also occurs to me that not only have I been placed on this earth to make a difference, but more specifically, to have placed a “positive” spin on this existence.

As John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens while we are making plans.” I was far too focused on the destination to realize that it is the journey that is of substance. But how does one come to truly appreciate the journey, to realize the importance of the present moment? How do we learn to look back, but not stare into the past? How do we come to recognize that all events, even the chaotic and traumatic, are part of all that is not so much “good nor bad,” but simply meaningful? I then glance back over my shoulder and note the opportunity to learn at the knee of a grandfather whose enduring wisdom was never accurately reflected in his academic credentials or public accomplishment, but who found meaning in the little things he could do for others.

Whether it is the films of Frank Capra, inspired by the depths of misery during the great depression and W.W.II or the incredible mosaics of St. Isaac’s in St. Petersburg produced by the masters who worked for next to nothing in Czarist Russia more than a century ago, this thing called life, for me, is different because somehow and in some way, individuals followed their hearts and listened to the passion that welled up from deep inside and could not be contained by the reason and logic that the world tends to use as a deterrent to hold back one’s passion and creativity. We all posses the ability to give flight to the human spirit. Just as we have had to leam how to look for the “gift inside of the problem,” so do those with whom we share this planet need the opportunity to learn this miniscule bit of wisdom; we tend to do best what we do most... to dare to dream or show compassion.

That being said... I have been so blessed.

I have had the unique opportunity to cross the paths of some unbelievably remarkable people in my 44 brief years on this plane... relatives, teachers, friends, actors, artists, students, clients and more than a few strangers who have touched my soul and never even knew how deeply, shaping my life in countless and wondrous ways. I have come to enjoy this life, but most importantly it has presented me with the opportunity to realize that I have had and continue to have the opportunity to accomplish the very reason that I have been placed on this earth... to leave this place, this plane of existence, in just a little bit better shape for my having tried
to make a difference. And to all of you whom I hold so dear... I wish you peace, love... and a silent good night.

Copyright © 2005 Bridget Petrella Media Relations

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

My (Pardon The Expression) GOD, Let's Just Be HAPPY For A While

It's getting harder and harder to be in the (pardon the expression) "holiday" spirit these days. As a retailer (which is, among other things, what I do these days), THESE days are getting WAAAAAAAAAY too stressful for one reason (over and above all the other reasons): What to say or not to say?

This morning I was a guest on a local radio station to promote our historic downtown's "2nd Wednesday Walkabout", which involved fundraisers, a (pardon the expression) Santa on a horsedrawn carriage, musicians performing (pardon the expression) holiday music, a youth group singing (pardon the expression) Christmas carols, merchants offering free (pardon the expression) Christmas cookies, and the like. Before going to the radio station at the un-(pardon the expression)Godly hour of 7.50 AM, I read the local newspaper while caffeinating.

There was a letter from someone who'd written, in no uncertain terms, that if he or his friends (assuming he has some) or family (see previous assumption) heard or read an advertisement from any business that used the phrase "Happy Holidays", he and his aforementioned friends and family would make it their business to assiduously avoid patronizing (meaning spending money with, not the other kind of patronizing) aforementioned businesses, and in his letter, he put us all "on notice".

Well. After my radio plug, I was scheduled to record three 15-second spots to be used on rotation on the local station for my business. As a writer, I'd written my own scripts the night before. As a producer, I knew exactly the read I wanted. As a voice-over talent, I knew just how to read them. As an independent retailer, I had to be writer/producer/talent, whether I wanted to or not.

Now, after having read that letter to the editor in the newspaper, which almost (almost!) eliminated my need for caffeine because it got my heart racing (and not in a good way), I was faced with a problem. I'd written "Happy Holidays" as the first two words in one of my three 15-second spots. What to do? Cave? Hold forth? Fight for 30-second spots so I'd have time to explain to the three people who listen to the station WHY I was saying "Happy Holidays"?

I basically caved... not entirely, though. I used the C-word in one, the S-word in the other, and the W-word in the last (that's "Christmas", "Season" and "Wonderland"... what were YOU thinking?)

I found myself, throughout the business day and evening, wishing people a nice afternoon/evening/night....and waiting to hear what THEY said before responding. What has become of me, I kept thinking. Finally, at one point, someone said "Happy Holidays. I mean, Merry Christmas". I said "Thank you. Happy Holidays to you. And Merry Christmas. And Happy Hannukah. And can we PLEASE all JUST be HAPPY??" which the someone said, "Amen".

And I knew what he meant. And I got it. And so did the other people in my shop. And everyone smiled at everyone else as Nat King Cole sang, "Although it's been said many times, many ways, Merry Christmas to you".

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Seasons Greetings. Let heaven and nature sing. Merry Christmas, Darling. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. Happy Hannukah. Peace On Earth To Men Of Good Will (and by the way, peace to those NOT of good will... maybe it'll help).

Celebrate The Season. Back Off. Back Up. Relax. Smile. Play. Enjoy. Hug. Share. Cry. Laugh. Exult. Pray. Or Not. Peace. Love. Understanding. Live. Let Live. Give, Gladly. Receive, Graciously.

And, most importantly....REMEMBER... that this season, this spirit, however you celebrate it, and even if you don't, is about giving and forgiving, about sharing, about loving....and it's supposed to be a daily/365 reminder, not an annual appointment. Say whatever you want as long as it's said in a spirit of goodness. Celebrate as you choose. It's all good....isn't it? Yes, it is. It really, REALLY is.
Isn't there enough fighting and dictating in the world? Yes, there is, there really, REALLY is.

Just smile at someone when you say whatever you say, because you believe whatever you believe. Make it a good December....not everyone will accept your greeting. Some will want to politicize you. Smile again, or engage them, if you will, in meaningful discussion...or not. Then move on, and smile at the next person...and remember to do it all month, all year long, not just now, during the (pardon the expression) holiday season.

Happy Holidays! Happy New Year! "Make someone happy....just one someone happy, and you will be happy, too." Unapologetically yours, and wishing all people health, happiness and success... "Telewriter"

Monday, November 28, 2005

Stuck Inside Of Paradise With Those Snowbound Blues Again

I moved to Florida four years ago... something I said I'd "never" do again, having lived in Miami/Fort Lauderdale in the late 1970s/early 1980s, missing the changes of seasons as I did back then. Well, "nevers" being what they are, I've been living here full-time for 2 years now (the first couple of years I lived here I was in NYC working more than I was here doing anything).

I own a little retail business, and have had Christmas merchandise in my store for nearly a have been decorated for a few days... but I've resisted playing holiday music until today. Since my personal Christmas CDs are still stored in "hurricane boxes" from last year's storms (no Thanksgiving dinner at my house this year, either...people tend to want living room furniture after dinner, especially after THAT dinner, and I just don't have any yet), I decided to bite the frozen bullet and put on some internet radio holiday music. I chose "Christmas Oldies" in order to avoid "Grandma Got Run Over By Whatever" and Eminem's "Christmas Is For Wimps" or something similar.

First up? Karen Carpenter: "Merry Christmas, Darling". Great.

Next? Bing Crosby: "White Christmas"

Then? "I'll Be Home For Christmas"....can't say who sang that one, because less than halfway through the first verse I was already just about to reach for a boxcutter and do myself in. My GOD, I was depressed!!! A customer came in and said, "Oh, what nice Christmas music you're playing!"

"Shut UP, you IDIOT, can't you see I'm DROWNING here???" (No, I didn't say that). The only thing that briefly saved my mood was "Little St Nick"/Beach Boys, or there's really no telling what I would have done or said.

I often curse the fact that I fell in real love for the first time in December in northern New York, because, especially as a now-Floridian, I have the extra added patheticism (yes, it's a word. I just made it up. "Patheticism". I kind of like it) of experiencing bittersweet nostalgia and mournful misery at the same time.
Somehow, putting on Dylan's "Winterlude" at the first snowfall was pleasantly, comfortingly nostalgic and allowed me to recall all the magic of that first love, that first grown-up feeling Christmas (or, more accurately, being able to recapture the excitement of youthful discovery, thereby feeling younger and more vital, even for a little while). I'd always manage, married or not, to find a little time alone on the first day of snow, "Winterlude" repeating while I sipped something warm and gazed out the window.

Now, there's a mix of being glad I'm no longer freezing my butt off before December, glad that I won't hit any ice on the way to or from work, glad that I'll have great sales during the holidays that will (hopefully) continue throughout tourism season.... and that's only one side of the equation.

The other is mostly the feeling that "I wanna go home and play in the snow", would rather be warming myself by a fireplace than at the beach, and see absolutely NO point in people ordering hot chocolate at the coffee shop next door to my store. Isn't there some law against that when it's 78 degrees? (And no, getting a latte when it's that temperature outdoors is just NOT the same thing). Yes, I slap myself into reality because I really DO know the true spirit of the season, which has nothing to do with any of the above (except the first love part...that will always be part of this time of year for me).

In fact, I found myself singing along to "Sleigh Ride" in the car on my way home tonight (when it's dark it's easier to imagine it's really Christmas time, I think).

What does any of this mean? Nothing, really, I suppose... but to all of you who still live in places where it snows, even a little, if you want to change places for a day or two, let me know (offer expires December 26th, when, each Florida year, I get over it).

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Quantum "Flux" Physics

I was listening to my favorite talk radio show on the planet... or in this particular dimension of universe... COAST TO COAST AM With George Noory... As usual, George was in "rare" form. You see, in "George's World" ANY TOPIC is one step away from the "paranormal"-- and I LOVE that about him. It is not only extraordinarily entertaining, it is also thought-provoking as all roads lead to "mystery and conspiracy"...

This particular show happened to be the re-broadcast of a show which aired in August of 2004. The show was centered on an Internet Legend... or as some non-believers might call it "The Greatest Internet Hoax Ever Perpetrated" somewhere around the year 2000-- [no one is actually 100% certain as to the exact date or year] a man only known as "John Titor" began posting on various Quantum Physics Web Forums across the Internet.

Now I personally make it a point to NOT post on these forums as my thoughts on Quantum Physics are constantly "evolving" depending on what "mood" I happen to be in... and I have on several occasions proven with "deadly accuracy" Einstein's Theory of Relativity while chatting with the sort of people who inspire one to consider "gnawing off one's arm" during the conversation.

So... as "legend has it" John Titor claimed to be a genuine time traveler from the year 2036. Yes folks, I said it. He said he was a "time traveler". But far be it for me to pass judgment on this man's perception as I have been told many a "tale" by many a weary traveler... claiming to be everything from a bona fide "Angel" to an "Agent of Truth"... so I rarely dispute anyone's "reality.

The reason I mention John Titor is because quite frankly, this has to be one of the most fascinating tales I have heard in a LONG time. Not only does his story seem somewhat "plausible", but he was brilliant enough to "cover his bases" using various Physics theories, one being that all time is occurring simultaneously in immeasurable parallel dimensions within varying degrees of one another-- a Many Worlds, Many Universes Theory which is an ACTUAL Physics theory... look it up. You'll indeed find it. So if any of his "prognostications" turn out to be "wrong"... Mr. Titor says that this is the direct result of his visit here, which alters in varying degrees in a "domino-lik"e effect all of the other infinite parallel universes in such a manner that perhaps his predictions will occur, only in one of those OTHER dimensions... not necessarily ours.

Before you write all of this off as being "Conspiratory Gibberish" and "Internet Folklore"... I give you one of my favorite quotes from one of my all-time favorite films, "Heaven Can Wait" with Warren Beaty and Julie Christie [the 1978 classic]... "The likelihood of one person being correct increases in direct proportion to the intensity with which others are trying to prove him wrong."

It will be 2006 in just a few short months... November is almost gone... as is 2005 and John Titor, after having posted his last words in March of 2001 has vanished. All however, that remains is a CONTINUING DEBATE as to whether or not he was actually telling the truth. Countless radio show discussions, web sites, web forums, books, e-books, 1 documentary and a potential feature film later and John Titor is STILL A HOT TOPIC OF DISCUSSION. The Public Relations genius alone is exceptional.

Does it matter if he was telling the truth? No, not really. Which brings me to my point... everyone has the capacity to evoke thought, discussion and timelessness. We are a world filled with more possibilities than we know what to do with. It all comes down to "perception"... and not only did John Titor {or whoever he was} KNOW this... he lived it.

A few John Titor links for all of you "Curious Onlookers"... interested in a good story... or a REALLY good tall tale {smiling}.

Copyright © 2005 Bridget Petrella Media Relations

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Logic of Absurdity

One of my favorite writers, Douglas Adams once said, "There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened."

I sit back and I ponder a brief justification for the ontological necessity of modern man's existential dilemma... I can think of several people in my life that don’t fit into this simplistic mold. The world in itself is not reasonable, that is all that can truly be said. But what is absurd is the confrontation of this irrational and the wild longing for clarity whose call echoes in the human heart. The absurd depends as much on humans as it does on the world. For the moment it is all that links them both together. So long as the mind keeps silent in the motionless world of its hopes, everything is reflected and arranged in the unity of nostalgia. But with its first move this world cracks and tumbles: an infinite number of shimmering fragments is offered to the understanding. We must despair of ever reconstructing the familiar, calm surface which would give us a peace of this heart we seek.

The absurdity isn’t the universe or we humans. It’s this combination that produces the absurd. If anything has been made abundantly clear in the 20th century, it is that the universe is irrational i.e. it doesn’t follow any rules. Reason and rationality are built on the premise of following rules— the rules of logic. The universe does no such thing, hence the "logic" of absurdity.

The universe does what it wants, when it wants. Science, the application of reason upon nature, has been exposed in this century as, not an all-pervading truth, but as a game of prediction. On the surface, contemporary scientific theory can predict what the universe will do to such an extent that science seems like the truth. But make no mistake about it... quantum theory in this past century has shown that the universe does some very unpredictable things when in very small quantities and at very high speeds. This is a very important point and one that I for one don’t deny. The use of "logic" on the universe is absurd.

Copyright © 2005 Bridget Petrella Media Relations

Human Foibles

I'm new to this place and not an entertainment entity-- but I wanted to address why literature captures my imagination.

I have been working my way through War and Peace by Tolstoy... simply a masterpiece of the human condition. Lots of times I heard people say before I read WAP that they were doing some kind of intellectual mountain climbing expedition in thinking about reading 1500 pages... or 1300 pages... or whatever...

But when I started this lovely masterpiece, I realized I didn't want it to end... such is the difference between someone who understands what Tolstoy did and someone who claims they are a "literary hero" for having read that book. What Tolstoy did was to create a work that reveals the human foibles of simple and complex people in 18th Century Russia. And then I finally realized by reading this masterpiece what makes great literature, it's the revelation of "human foibles" you will find in such great works.

Another great one is Steinbeck, who characterizes the wrestlings that humanity has with daily dilemmas of a cruel world and what it does to the common man... I would imagine that the really great entertainment pieces would address these dilemmas and human foibles as well...

Why does a person live? Merely to propagate a family? Perhaps, but in reality, ours is an existence of how humans address their weaknesses, fears, realities and how the human spirit overcomes them. What is the point of living if only to live and die? No, it is rather to think and suffer and rejoice and then die, and resolve all of our human foibles and issues in a hostile world...

That is what living is.

Our practical lives [work, money, family] are merely a backdrop for the revelation of how people resolve their foibles...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Compliment Me, Don't Complete Me

"You complete me" from the five-star movie Jerry Maguire is the most overrated love quote I know. As an avid romantic comedy fan, I live for the moment, about an hour and a half after the cinema lights dim, when the lead, after a formulaic series of mistakes and misunderstandings, realizes the "true meaning of love" and launches into a heartfelt confession, thus emptying the contents of his profound wisdom onto the carpet in a living room filled with jaded divorcees. My eyes clouded with tears as a regretful Jerry Maguire finally approached his wife Dorothy Boyd who was on the brink of leaving him.

While the scene is stirring, poignant and funny, there is a fundamentally wrong assumption that we are "incomplete beings" with half-lives wandering the earth aimlessly... until we find a partner. What a pile of rubbish. Think about this-- isn't it only when one can function well wholly as an individual, yet choose to love another to the fullest extent of one's capacity that we witness love at its most glorifying? There is nothing noteworthy about being with someone because you need him or her to actually "validate" your existence, to drink champagne on special occasions or to support your crippled lonely life. I prefer a line in the 1997 Oscar-winning film "As Good As It Gets" where Jack Nicholson was motivated to take better care of his health after knowing Helen Hunt and her selflessness.

He says it with the most perfect dead pan face, "You make me want to be a better man." I love this line for its simplicity-- no fanfare, no histrionics, no long drawn out speech. I love it for its indication that in all your imperfect ways, you have been an inspiration to someone else in this wacky, unpredictable universe. I love it that, even should the relationship end, you have changed each other for the better instead of the two of you crumpling into a heap of jigsaw puzzle pieces... onto a carpet... in a living room filled with desperate housewives. "You make me want to be a better person," will probably go down in my own spiritual thought process, as the second-best compliment anyone can ever pay to another person. The best compliment would be "You made me become a better person." Because then you would have not merely inspired a desire in someone... but a positive action as well.

Copyright © 2005 Bridget Petrella Media Relations

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I Query, Therefore I Baffle

Okay, so a screenwriter actually sent me the following query:

Logline: A woman realizes that a little statue can cure any ailment. But after healing many people, she discovers that when the statue heals you, someone— somewhere in the world— gets your disease.

No synopsis yet. [thankfully]

Logline: A prison guard ghost returns to oust a flamboyant warden and his entire dimwitted gang.

Synopsis: A dark comedy which operates on several important levels. This unique screenplay takes on the America scandalous prison culture while exposing, with outrageous satirical humor, a hidden society which is rife with corruption and the abuse of power.

We are introduced to BEAR, a mystical Native American Shape Shifter and his Spirit Animal Army. With help from Great Stone Mother, Bear and his loyal followers set out to reclaim a sacred Paiute burial ground where an imposing prison now stands.

Enter JAMES "CUFFS" CALLAHAN, the story’s pivotal character. Cuffs is a former prison Corrections Officer who returns from the dead with his K-9 companion IKE to the high desert of southern Nevada to take on and expose a corrupt warden and his flunky cohorts.

We meet Cuffs when he is alive, working as a conscientious and caring Corrections Officer at the prison. When Cuffs discovers that the prisoners are being fed food labeled "Unfit for Human Consumption" He confronts the arrogant Warden Robert Shivetz. Outraged by Cuffs' insolent behavior, Shivetz fires him.

Depressed and drowning in alcohol, Cuffs takes his own life with a gun. However, Bear captures Cuffs spirit and decides to shape shift into a psychiatrist. He helps Cuffs open up, tell the truth, and take responsibility for his senseless act. Cuffs returns to the prison as a ghost bent on revenge. Bear is also at the prison, posing as a convict. Together, Cuffs and Bear join forces from the spirit and ghost worlds to standup for humanity against the misuse of power behind prison walls.

For example, Bear is able at will to shape shift and summon his faithful Spirit Animal Army to aid him and Cuffs inside the prison.

As the story unfolds, we meet a number of fascinating characters including Senator Clancy, the voice of reason; Sgt. Otis Newcomb, a dimwitted brute, the vivacious Lt. Sandy Adams, and Trooper Bob, among others.

Cuffs has a crush on Sandy. She becomes attracted to him as well, but unfortunately, it's just not meant to be. Cuffs, a ghost, and Sandy is a human— never the twain shall meet.

The story ends on a positive, upbeat note. Bear and his Spirit Animal Army are able to restore respect and dignity to their Paiute sacred burial ground. Clancy advances to become Vice President of The United States and later, by a twist of fate, assumes the Presidency. Cuffs join President Clancy as his aide-de-camp with Bear and his loyal Spirit Animal Army in tow.

Cuffs then emerges as a scathing dark comedy which not only exposes the corrupt conduct of authority figures but also challenges our imagination, leaving hope in spirit and heart for a better day.

I only wish I were kidding. Dear God, it's 'Dave' meets 'The Dead Zone' meets 'Ghost' meets 'The Shawshank Redemption'…

Copyright © 2005 Bridget Petrella Media Relations

Monday, November 07, 2005

Between Charlie Brown, Linus and Lucy

How are humans unique? Humans are not the biggest, the strongest, the fastest, the most versatile, or the most intricate creatures in the world, but there is something distinctively special about us. Some think it's our brain. Others say it's our voices. Still others think it's our ability to manufacture practically anything. Some argue it's our invention and the use of time... which was created by humans to give some sort of measure to what has passed. Some think it's our ability to laugh and smile. Others think it's our opposable finger, the thumb. Many think it's our recording of history that sets us apart... Still others think it's our souls.

Years ago, philosopher-psychologist Erwin Strauss wrote a fascinating article that did little more than describe and reflect upon the upright posture of humans and what this ability to stand on our own two feet means to our existence. Wisdom. Humor. Vision. Compassion. Fear. Hatred. Folly. Greed. Deceit. Blindness. Anger. Absurdity. Violence. Love. Communication. Irony. Error. Knowledge-- human possibilities all. As a writer, I personally love these themes. They are indeed a part of being human, having a "human experience" as an eternal soul... which is where I seek my voice. The questions I've posed could provide fodder for a conversation over coffee-- or, I might add-- what Charles Schulz might have had in mind, for many a clever comic strip. I mention Schulz because he epitomized for me the model of seeking to make peoples' hearts wise, their collective minds sound, and their wills righteous-- and always with a wry smile and a bit of wisdom. I guess that means I find my voice somewhere between Charlie Brown, Linus and Lucy.

Copyright © 2005 Bridget Petrella Media Relations

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Wit vs. Humor

What is humor and how does it differ from wit? According to Webster's Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged Edition, humor is "the recognition and expression of incongruities or peculiarities in a situation or illustrates some fundamental absurdity in human nature or conduct." Humor often involves someone or something being observed, there's frequently a visual or nonverbal component, and it is silly or playful. Now take a breath. The discourse gets worse before it gets better. Wit, in contrast, is "the quick apprehension and ingenuous and apt expression of the connections or analogous properties between things seemingly unlike." Mark Twain has an elegant, living explanation, "Wit is the sudden marriage of ideas which before their union were not perceived to have any relation." And while focusing on the differences between humor and wit, let's not overlook their relationship to creativity. Psychological studies have shown that subjects who watched funny television clips or The Three Stooges {with Curly, not Shemp} before subsequent problem-solving tasks were far more creative than comparably matched subjects who spent time exercising before problem-solving task.

Wit, more than humor, originates in the observer; wit is highly verbal, clever and artful. I believe it was the late comic actor, Bert Lahr, who distinguished between the two, "saying funny things [wit] and saying things in a funny way" [non-verbal humor]. Wit, also, has more of a cutting-edge quality to it than humor. I personally envision it all this way-- letting the air out of a balloon depicts humor. Pricking an inflated balloon is wit. As Shakespeare once noted, "Brevity is the soul of wit."

Copyright © 2005 Bridget Petrella Media Relations

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Reflections of An Artist at Large

I displayed an artistic talent at an early age. I first experimented in dirty diapers and mashed potatoes. As I grew older, I moved up to crayons on drywall and markers on flesh. This met with harsh reviews from the critics ("No! Not on the walls!", You do NOT color your sister") and many hours of painting in my room, or on my room, depending on how you saw it. I saw it as a way to give my Jackson Five poster a "Salvador Dali" feel to it, Mom and Dad saw it as my journey into "non-conformity"... Unshaken by these minor setbacks, I continued my artistic development venturing into coloring books. At this stage I began to dabble in art theory.

Dad: "Very nice, Bridget. But bunnies aren't orange and fire trucks aren't purple."

Me: "Bunnies don't wear jackets and fire trucks don't have faces either!"

Contempt for Dad. More painting on room or in room. Who'd have thought I'd need a lawyer at this age? Upon entering grade school, I took up pencil. I would draw everything from horses to trees to houses to cars. You name it, I'd draw it. I'd even draw cartoon characters, like Snoopy, Magilla Gorilla, Popeye and Underdog, while watching television. This continued through, middle school into high school, where I discovered drafting. At the time, I thought this was the coolest thing, drawing odd-shaped objects from every angle. I began to ponder becoming an architect. I wanted to learn exciting, inspiring concepts and design important buildings! Hey, I just might become the next Frank LLoyd Wright. My high school drafting teacher, Mr. Harper, saw this plan quite differently than I did... He was rather "linear" by nature...

Mr. Harper: "Miss Petrella, you have a very exciting, inspiring concept for a motel... with a bright brass fire pole and a Star Trek Captain's bridge design that, as far as I can tell, has never been attempted by mortal men. You were to supposed to design a two-bedroom house."

Okay, so maybe architecture wasn't exactly my "thing". Besides, there were too many little annoyances like building codes and those nagging laws of physics. I still wanted to do something deep within the art world, so, I headed to The Art Institute of Pittsburgh and The University of Pittsburgh. As an "art school student of doom"-- I spent the next 5 years commuting past cows, cornfields, and barns while religiously studying illustration, watercolor, cartooning, graphic design, painting, markers, watercolors, oils. I knew this is where my talent could be nurtured and brought to the forefront. That is, until the COLOSSAL portfolio review... just before my last semester.

Professor: "Bridget, do you see this cow?"

Me: "Yes."

Professor: "Well, with the exception of your 'study on Norwegian dogs with braided nose hairs'-- it is indeed a bit of a plunge into madness, however, it isn't EXACTLY the 'marketing madness' we were hoping for with this assignment. Tell me, what does an Indonesian cow with no karma on a retreat in Nepal have to do with dairy farmers selling milk?"

Hmmm. What was he trying to say? Okay, just another insignificant speed bump on my journey. I simply turned it all into surrealist cartoon sketches, quickly done the night before, snagged my degree, graduated with honors and began to explore this world of marketing and public relations a bit more closely. It certainly wasn't "spiritual"...

Copyright © 2005 Bridget Petrella Media Relations

Sunday, October 23, 2005

My Series of Unfortunate Thoughts, 2

I'm human. And being human is not always such an easy task. I believe, that for the most part, insanity is all in the eye of the beholder or in some remote cases, the beer holder. And sometimes it just frustrates the living hell out of me that people often subscribe completely to one thing… or one "belief system" if you will... but then they live their lives in such a way that they only serve to further perpetuate the thing that they declare themselves to be in direct opposition of. The fact that most people will not change their behavior to correspond with how they would like the world to change is all too real and it usually becomes a quaint hypocrisy wrapped in a farcical chaser... like having a tall glass of Jack Daniels with Nyquil capsules and calling it "cold relief"...

Some people just live their whole lives in a reckless coma with no room for possibility or even a simple exchange of ideas. And since most of our entertainment is both comforting and vacuous, I think we should risk being pedantic every now and then... even if it appears to be nothing more than a no frills cheap thrill. While art may not be a perfect mirror of the artist, you can't make a Bloody Mary without a little bit of Tabasco sauce. Failure is integral to success, because it's only when you fail and people start ignoring you that you have the privacy to be yourself and proceed. It's only when you can get out of the eye of the critical masses that you can go back to achieving success. I really believe it's the moments we can't talk about that become the rest of our lives. It's the moments we cannot process by telling our story that serve to hurt us in the end. We must evolve… on some level we must learn life lessons.

I will openly admit, instead of my all-too-hectic, fast-paced job, I too long for a gig where little is asked and even less is expected. I want to work for an employer that simply wants me to show up each morning, keep a seat warm, and not pocket too many office supplies before I punch out promptly at 5:00 p.m. on the dot. And, if on occasion I should blunder spectacularly, my ideal employer wouldn’t so much as say “boo”— if anything, I’d expect a reassuring pat on the back and a generous bonus in my next pay check. In short, I’m hoping to land a gig where sustained mediocrity is considered to be the gold standard and colossal screw-ups are dismissed as no biggie… and isn’t this the American Dream?

Copyright ©2005 Bridget Petrella Media Relations

I'm Still Mad

It's been a week since I walked in the Los Angeles AIDS Walk and, frankly, I'm still seething. The walk was great. The crowds were great...enthusiastic, loving, motivated, upbeat (pardon the pun). All along the 6.2 mile walk, we were greeted by young people, shouts of encouragement, cars honking support, media...26,000 people (although it seemed like a lot more to me) all together in their goal to end the scourge that is AIDS.

So why so angry? Because I'm still seeing the three signs along the way from protesters. I know they don't deserve mention for they are looking to get attention. But I suppose that's why I'm just so angry.

What kind of sick person goes to an AIDS march and holds up a sign that says "AIDS is God's answer to homosexuality"...? God needs to speak to that nut job in a hurry. (Note to God: I know you're kinda busy what with hurricanes, famine, tsunami's and trying to keep the idiot in the White House from doing TOO much damage, but still...can't you smite cretins like the guy holding that sign?)

He wasn't the only one. There was also the guy holding the sign with two men kissing and across it, one of those international NO signs...the oval with the slash in it. It was all I could do to run over and hit him, although in hindsight, I suppose kissing him would be more offensive to his twisted way of thinking.

Besides, I'm a pacifist.

The sign that made me semi-homicidal was the one that read "Gay men marching against AIDS is like smokers marching against lung cancer." I immediately thought about the protest march against the Klan that turned violent. As a disciple of the late Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi I know violence is never REALLY the answer.
But the question left me...if not now, when? When do we shut up the Klan, and the anti-gay ilk once and for all?

It seems now that with all the civil rights, and women's rights and gay movement taking a backslide these last horrific 5 years under President Cheney, uh, Bush, staying silent, not fighting back, and walking past signs feeling hurt, without hurting back, might not exactly be the right approach anymore.

I will walk again next year proudly. Word to the sign holders...if I walk by again, I might not be so inclined to turn the other cheek. Okay?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Moments In Between

I had a wise philosophy teacher once in college who taught that in debate one's task is "to render your opponent epistemologically self-conscious.'' A worthy goal, I think, for a writer as well. How does the weatherman know it will rain tomorrow? How does the economist know that unemployment will continue to climb next month? How do we know where we are most of the time? How do we view being human? We all carry an implicit view of humanity, even if we don't always acknowledge it. Some think people are animals, not much different than dogs or cats or perhaps even raccoons; some think humans are minor Gods, a little lower than the angels but slightly above magicians. Sigmund Freud's vision of human existence is 180 degrees from the view of Abraham Maslow, and the Buddha's vision is 3600 degrees away from both Freud's and Maslow's... okay so that "may" just be a slight exaggeration... maybe not.

What is reality? In philosophy, the study of reality falls under the topic of metaphysics. A belief in God expresses a metaphysic. So does a disbelief in God. A belief in a meaningful universe expresses a metaphysic. So does a belief in a chaotic or random universe. What's important to me as a writer is to recognize that whether we reflect upon it or not, every one of us has in him or her some sustained belief about reality. I find myself lost amid numerous realities... floundering about for some sort of road sign or at the very least... a fragment of a road map.

But then I begin to find that "clarity" we all speak about whenever we are feeling particularly "inspired"... and so I shed the illusions of the day and ponder it for a brief moment. And in that moment I realize that is precisely where LIFE occurs... it's somewhere in those moments "in between". The seemingly inconsequential periods when we are sorting through what we perceive as the "mundane". But is it really mundane? Or are we simply unaware?

Copyright © 2005 Bridget Petrella Media Relations

Monday, October 17, 2005

My Series of Unfortunate Thoughts

Stumbling onto this bit of sad truth during an extensive segment of Google research was only the beginning of my series of unfortunate thoughts... In his web blog, comics writer Warren Ellis has a running quest to find the most depraved thing currently being done in the world of cyberspace. He lays out two possible explanations for this absurd quest.

The first is that we're hurtling towards an imminent apocalypse and it could all be over in a matter of seconds— so finding something that defiles humanity seemed like the thing to do. This is the one that most people seem to be saying. With that in mind... however, the second one may be even more disturbing, if that is at all possible. This is simply the way the world is now. Depravity is an acceptable form of our culture. This is normal. And we're all just going to have to live with it. So these same people... on the fringe of society who are in the process of falling off the edge are now "cerebral catalysts" in some inane tribal game played by out by unsuspecting patrons. There is so much competition for our constant attention— taking our thoughts away from our family, our dreams, anything personal— that some days I don't even want to leave the house... and I don't.

Copyright © 2005 Bridget Petrella Media Relations

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Conversations With Myself

Apparently the surrealist movement was originally a political movement. I don't have a problem with capitalism necessarily. It's very easy for this culture to point out the corruption of communism and fascism; but it's difficult for it to point out the corruption of itself. But that corruption does exist and it is in the element of corporate entities taking the element of individualized thinking away. That's really where bad corruption comes into play in all of these areas. It's the most evident in film and television because it's an expensive art form and they need to be able to feel confident in salesmanship. They need a group they can point to and sell it so since there isn't a countercultural movement that they can point to, they won't bother. If anything makes anyone feel uncomfortable at all, which good art can do, they won't support it. Now that's being taken out of stories in the media because it's considered something that could drive audiences or sponsorship away. Now all films and media are being approved by committees, which is an absolute corruption no matter how you look at it.

In the end... it really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks about you or your work. You have to be exactly who you are and what you want to be. On your terms, with your own ideas and philosophies and the absolute FREEDOM to express them. Not what has been marketed to you or at you or created perhaps to help you to think better by the corporate "suits" with a target demographic to uphold.

Copyright © 2005 Bridget Petrella Media Relations

Welcome to UPBEAT Entertainment News

Readers have continued to e-mail me and ask me to give my insights and reflections as to the "true nature" of that wacky, surreal, usually unpredictable world which IS the "entertainment industry"... I toss my head back rather maniacally and laugh... then... I explain...

I like to call Hollywood the home of "ideology brokering", which is inherently all about the power "protecting "us" and winning "them." I suggest that a far more adequate metaphor for our existence after the structuralism of modernity by Hollywood is the "networked age". We find this age interconnected by definition, characterized by disruption through wider connections, holding onto a nuanced continuity in existential and communal identity through a more explicit selection of and innovation within the tradition which the network finds itself constituted by. It is nearly a case of a new cogito, "I emerge in the network therefore I am".

Copyright © 2005 Bridget Petrella Media Relations All Rights Reserved.