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