Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Guardian: Live Blogging Health Care Debate

Well, I didn't - couldn't, because of schedules - really watch the day long health care summit that was televised live last week at the Blair House in D.C. I watched some highlights, enjoyed the recap on "The Daily Show" (they're so funny). But I just ran across this live-blogging summary in the UK's "The Guardian" that is short (maybe shortened for the final version) but also helpful and funny. Sounds like they did a good job of highlighting things. Here's the link:

Some funny parts from the blog (just things that made me laugh - there's much more substance in the body of the blog) - funniest line is at 3:27 p.m.:

10.03am: You could cut the tension with a tissue. So far: lots of mainly old white men sitting around a table reading bits of paper. In other words: what most of Washington DC looks like most of the time...

10.21am: Now it's the Republicans' turn – via Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. He's not the most exciting person in the world, but compared with the Republican Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell he's dynamite. But then so is mold. "I'd like to begin with a story. When I was elected governor..." great, thanks Lamar. (Is narcolepsy a pre-existing condition on my health insurance?)...

12.57pm: Slaughter relates a tale of a woman unable to afford dentures – and so wore her dead sister's dentures. "Did you ever believe that in America, that's where we would be?" asks Slaughter. My colleague Ewen MacAskill mentions that this used to be quite common in Scotland, 20 or 30 years ago. So, ah, another triumph for the US healthcare system....

Presidental Cigarette Break / House Vote / Lunch: What better time to sum up where we are, after nearly three hours. Um...

2.48pm: Biden's still going ... bending the curve ... and so on. I've got the sound down. Shot of John Boehner, who appears to be chewing a thistle. He really does look like a character out of Mad Men. Meanwhile, Mike Enzi hunches forward and thinks about selling shoes in the good old days while slowly scratching the side of his face. John McCain looks vaguely angry...

3.27pm: Republican House leader John Boehner speaks: "This bill is a dangerous experiment with the best healthcare system in the world." What, this bill also affects Japan?

3.55pm: And the Republican big finish comes from ... John Barrasso! What do you mean, who? John Barrasso – the former chief executive of the largest hospital in Casper, Wyoming. And now senator.

4.00pm: Oh, wow, John Barrasso thinks all members of Congress should only have "catastrophic" health insurance – so, just cancer and big stuff. Why? asks Obama. "Because then we'd have more skin in the game," says Barrasso. And so people would save more. "But what if you were on $40,000, John?" says Obama. That floors Barrasso, who struggles to come back with a fish imitation ("glub glub glub") about park rangers... Fantastic – this was by far the best exchange of the day so far. It clearly shows the difference between the two sides.

5.08pm: Obama's performance, whether you like him or not, has been impressive here. For seven hours, with just 45 minutes off in the middle, he's kept this up, and is still talking and making sense under the spotlight. It's hard to imagine some former presidents managing something like this. I thinking there of .. let's see ... Calvin Coolidge. Coolidge's father was once asked to describe his son. He paused for a considerable period before replying: "He ain't sassy."

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Feel Better

Don't quite know what's kept my energy low these past couple of weeks... probably a touch of the flu, amongst other things.... I'm taking a bunch of iron, in case it's a resurgence of anemia... I vow to fight back, if that's the threat.

Then last night, I had a dream. In the dream, my older sister and I were methodically going through this and that, and then it turned out that my younger sister - she was still a young kid, in the dream - had been left to do all the dishes - she had done them, alone - and worse still, none of us had been there to see a drawing she had done...

When I realized (in the dream) - horror on horrors - what we'd left her to do, I rushed in and felt neglectful and wanted to see what she had drawn. "Let me see," I said, hoping I could make up for lost time. "See?" she said - "can you see the spider?" I was so busy assuring her that I could, that I didn't really notice the drawing... but then realized I did her no favors by rushing through this make-up time, so focused in on the drawing, finally, and saw it was a drawing of a young woman who had a spider web near her hands, delicately drawn... I couldn't quite see the spider yet...

And then I woke up.

My first thought, in my groggy state, was: are my sisters okay? Then: are we connected enough? And then: it dawned on me... I realized... it was also one of those dreams where everyone in it represents me... and the younger of me - still a kid - was being left with all the burdens.... the dishes, and no one to see the drawings... which happens, I suppose, when there's a lack of vitality - as I've been, off and on, these past couple of weeks....

But then, why burden the child with it all? Of all our pieces, isn't the child in us the one place where we can feel joy, whatever else we are feeling? Even in illness, can't she be allowed to feel joy?

Ah, and the spider. This was the clue that this was me. In each sister, in the drawing itself. For it is the spider that is the storyteller. It is the spider that weaves the tapestry of our lives. And it is the story that brings me that childlike joy. Or is it my child's joy that draws the spiderweb?

Hello, Charlotte. How's that web of yours this morning?

And then, almost unbeknownst to me, "Hallelujah" - as Justin Timberlake sung it, at the Hope for Haiti telethon a few weeks ago - starts sounding in my head... so gentle, no fan fare - "hallelujah," I hear in my head - "hallelujah" - hallelujah.. it sounds, fades, re-surges...

and hearing it there, remembering it from then, I have tears - and I think of how un-gentle we are, we all are, can be, so often, many times, with ourselves, with each other, without even really knowing or realizing what we do...

yet somehow, there can still be song...

photo credit: Ana Santos, found here

Here is a link to Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" at the telethon:

Monday, February 22, 2010

As Time Goes By....

Well, it's been a week since my last posting. It's the circumstances right now... just a little physical recuperation.... I figured I'd feel up to posting today, but no such luck. Tomorrow feels like the better day.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Put Down That Phone!!

For the past year, or so, and maybe a little longer, I've had the luxury of having my cell phone with me at almost all times. To say I'm attached to my phone is a fair literal phrase. And not at the hip, either.

Of course I can put it down. Of course! (I say, in protest, while my readers may recall just a couple of months ago, when I forgot my phone in El Paso, my mother FED EXed it to me out of pity, and I kept calling it as it made its way back to Spokane - bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase, "checking your mail.") ("Hello, phone. How are you? How's the trip home going?")

And even though I can put it down - I don't, very often. At least, I haven't, in recent times. I'm not in court as much these days (as I've focused more on the writing than the law), so I'm less likely to need to turn away from whoever is calling in the instant moment. In fact, I think I'm pretty well known amongst friends and family for always answering my cell phone.

Tomorrow - tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow, Tuesday, I will be without my cell phone for the bulk of the day. My schedule so requires. Breathe, breathe...

I do have a new phone that drives me a little nuts, making the separation a little less painful. It's called a "Droid." Apparently that's short for Android. It talks to me a lot. Mostly, it says its name. "Droid," it says sporadically, but always in a deep, masculine, computery voice (and by computery, I don't mean "sultry"). "What, what?" I used say to it in response, when this first started happening. Nothing. I would hear nothing back. It sounded so proud of itself... I thought it just had a mighty, mighty ego... until I realized it was trying to tell me something (that I had a new email, or a text message, or something...) I've been threatening to turn it back in ever since I got it three weeks ago. Except now, I kind of like it. Oh, don't get me wrong. I do understand its egomaniacal ways. And it does have a habit of calling people on its own - even when it's just sitting - sitting! - in the passenger seat next to me as I drive. But - well - it's got a GPS on it, and it speaks in a much nicer voice when giving me directions off the googlemap. And besides - it lets me know when I have mail!

I'm already feeling a little of the withdrawal from my phone, in anticipation of the actual separation tomorrow. I've been preparing for it, too. For example: the cell phone currently is in the kitchen, while I am lounging in the living room on the couch. Ha! I don't need that phone....

Can't wait until Wednesday...

The Droid!
photo credit: Gubatron, found here

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snow Reminder

I feel bad for people on the East Coast, as they get slammed with all that snow right now. I really do. It looks terrible. And here we sit in Spokane, with our green lawns.... With just a little rain and a chance of clouds.

Lest we forget, however, of the Ways Of Winter 2008/2009, here is a photo of my car in front of my house last January.

In the end, we had over six feet of snow in 20 days' time. Here is my recollection of events at that time. Ah, the memories....

So. Feel no guilt - no remorse - if you are living in the Inland Northwest these past few non-snowy days. It wasn't our turn for snow this year.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

down for the count

I haven't been feeling so great... so no updates... had visions of updates... like talking about Guy Zajonc, our KNIFVES speaker in January (how great he was! and his production company - as intro to our speakers this Thursday ("Lady Luck" entourage - a locally filmed and produced "guy noir" type short film)... I even thought of venturing back into some political forays (something I've been doing less of, recently...) and have opinions galore, as you can imagine...

But alas, none of this can be accomplished while I'm feeling so blech. I'm sure I'll feel better soon....

Friday, February 5, 2010

Seattle Again

I'm off to Seattle again, for a couple of days - my last two days of hot yoga, from my month-long special...

And when I return - for Monday morning - and on the movie making front - I'll be making a phone call that I have wanted to make for a while now. Ulp.

See you on the other side of the horizon!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Boise Bonanza

Hey. It's alliteration. And I couldn't figure out a rhyme. "Boise Noise?" But then you'd have to put two syllables in "noise."

I just got back from a 2 1/2 day trip to Boise, for film stuff. Conclusion: it was wonderful. Very productive, in ways that I didn't expect. And it made me believe, more than ever, that we absolutely have to convince the film industry that filming in Idaho (with North Idaho as my preferred location) is financially feasible and likely even cheaper than filming in a lot of other places. And you get the added benefit of working in beautiful scenery, with lovely and helpful people.

Where do I send that letter?

The trip started on Monday, with an IFAC meeting. This stands for Idaho Film Advisory Committee. Two of our KNIFVES board members are also on IFAC, with a handful of other people on the committee, representing all Idaho regions - all of whom are very knowledgeable and active in the film industry. Peg Owens, in charge of the state film office, and Diane Norton (also with the office) both were there, as well as other state folks - as was Rep. Eric Anderson, who is an advocate for film in Idaho (and who is on the KNIFVES advisory board, actually). We talked a lot about the incentives program - how filming in Idaho can be cheaper than elsewhere - how one budget was cut back by $400,000 in a 45-minute read-through if the film company filmed in Idaho, but the company ended up going with the more razzle-dazzle of a different state because the state could offer the highlighted word "incentives" in a big neon sign.... We talked about amending the incentives law to become reciprocal with Washington and Oregon (we've heard that WA and OR already are reciprocal with each other, and trying to track down that information) and we talked about ensuring that the law allows for private funding of the incentives program, if a company so desired to make that kind of investment. So, all very informative and creative.

(Explanation: Idaho has a tax rebate program and also an incentives program, but does not have the incentives program funded currently...)

There were also presentations. The one that STANDS OUT is the Silverdraft Studios presentation. Amongst a myriad of other things, this group is putting together a "rendering farm truck" - which, as I understand it, is the first of its kind, and will be a portable unit - in an actual truck - that will allow for things like green screening and other computerized film opportunities. So impressive! Put together by top notch people, it seemed. From their website: "Current film projects include 'Buhl, Idaho' produced by Heather Rae, 'King Lear' starring Al Pacino, and 'Fault Line' starring Olympia Dukakis." Sandra Cavanaugh - the woman giving the presentation - was very clear as well, another point in their favor. And they also were clear about housing the project in Boise. In fact, they keep bringing up talent from California to Idaho to manifest the project into reality. They're in the "seek funding" stage.

I started thinking: if the Silverdraft Studios people got their funding, they should consider asking their funder to also contribute funds the Northwest Film Institute, being put together by some colleagues of mine up in Sandpoint. See, here's my point: NFI will be producing film workers in Idaho for Idaho projects. As Silverdraft got off the ground, simultaneously people enthused about Idaho could be receiving specified training up north, and ultimately there would be a dovetailing of the talent and the work - all with perfect timing. Right?

And that was just Monday.

On Tuesday, we had "Media Day" on the fourth floor of the State Capitol, which is a gorgeous building, in and of itself. The best part of that day was all the networking we did. I met other screenwriters (we stayed in the home of a generous screenwriting family, in fact), as well as film guys. Bex Wilkinson - on IFAC, sponsoring the Family of Woman Film Festival at the end of this month - sat with me, talked about my projects, offered to let me stay with her place for the festival (if I can make it - am going to try - if nothing else the festival looks compelling), and had some thoughts about how to network me overall. (Bex also was a founder of the spiritual film festival, that I attended in September last year.) Ben Shedd, of Shedd Productions - on the original task force that ultimately set up IFAC, and an Oscar winning documentary filmmaker - likely will end up speaking at a KNIFVES meeting soon. And more and more. And all generated because of the networking in Boise.

And then - the crowning glory - there was a movie premiere that night of a documentary called "After the Storm," produced by the Priddy brothers (in Boise), and directed by Hilla Medalia (she was there too), about a group of theater guys who came to New Orleans after the storm of Hurricane Katrina to put together a theater performance of the Broadway musical "Once On This Island" by recruiting young talent living in New Orleans. Their goal: to encourage hope and talent in these youngsters. It's such a touching story, so well told - like a feature film in the story arcs, in fact.... Here's the New York Times review of it. I so applaud the Priddy brothers for taking on this project, and others, and who are quite enthusiastic in general. In fact, I saw Jody Lee - the creator of "Rivers in the Desert," a film I saw in Couer d'Alene last fall (about moving the Jewish temple in Boise from location to the other, and the stories intertwined) - and told her she had to talk to the Priddys. They would love her documentary. She's a great talent, right there in their midst. They should all talk to each other.

And then- then! - a woman named Carol Trusz, who is in the photo below and who is on the board of Northwest Film Institute in Sandpoint, came up with this idea - "Idaho Pitch" - to bring in movie makers who will then have folks up here pitch the story ideas they have - feature film, documentary, and otherwise - and we will organize a tour for the movie people of potential film locations as well, all of this coordinated through the Idaho Film office and Peg Owens... It's all in the works. Apparently I'm now on the subcommittee to make that happen. !!

Each of all the above deserves its own blog entry, actually. But if I did that, I'd be writing for a zillion years. In the meantime, I've provided links. (And I will, in the near future, write more specifically about the benefits of filming in Idaho.) Each of above is creating something special - and all of them together create a network of opportunity and evolution that puts Idaho in wonderful competition with the rest of the country, and world.

And then here were the KNIFVES members who were there for Media Day:

In order of appearance: WJ Lazerus (our KNIFVES president, owner of Lazerus Communications and film guy extraordinaire); Kerri Thoreson (writer, columnist, on the Post Falls, Idaho city council, and a member of KNIFVES); T. Dawn Richard (author of the May List mystery books, screenwriter, and KNIFVES Vice President); Mitchell Fullerton (great film guy, board member of Northwest Film Institute, member of KNIFVES through NFI); Carol Trusz (mentioned above - screenwriter, marketer, "amazing idea" person and also member of KNIFVES through NFI); me; and Russ Simons, former marketing guy with Disney, and absolutely determined now to get KNIFVES grants and other funding so we can open a regional film office in North Idaho.

What a motley crew we were.