Thursday, November 28, 2013

"Without A Ladder"

My KNIFVES group out of the Inland Northwest - a nonprofit filmmaking networking and educational group - produced a film.  And I was a part of it.

It is a holiday film, so writing about it on Thanksgiving seems to be an appropriate time.  (It is about Christmas, not Thanksgiving, but still - 'tis the general season.)

The film is "Without A Ladder," and was written by Ted Parvin, in Sandpoint, Idaho.  Jack Bannon graciously agreed to star in the film for us.  Young Tiger Ashtiani was Jack's co-star.

The film is described as follows:

“Without a Ladder” tells the story of curmudgeonly widower Mr. Dobbs (Bannon), whose first Christmas without his beloved wife is eased by the presence of a boy (Ashtiani) who shows up on his doorstep. The child helps him prepare for the unexpected holiday visit of his son and daughter-in-law. But in a surprising twist, it turns out the boy is preparing him for an even bigger adventure.
We are an all-volunteer board with KNIFVES (which stands for Northwest Independent Film, Video and Entertainment Society) and so putting together this wonderful film was a long process.  We also used the filming as an opportunity to train people interested in getting experience in the film industry.  As the film credits show, there were many, many people who played a role in the production.  (I personally have credit as one of the assistant location mangers and the only person in charge of locations/art - this latter credit coming due to all the "snow" I made, I think.)

It is a sentimental film that brings tears to my eyes throughout the half hour show.  When I was present for the filming of it, the acting created the same reaction.  In fact, at one point when Mr. Dobbs (Bannon) is waving goodbye out the door, I teared up.  When the director announced "cut," I was slightly chided by my fellow filmmakers for the emotion.  I couldn't help it!

I knew, watching the filming, that it would be a great product.  And it was.  We had a world premiere (!) a few weeks ago in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, with a parade of drummers and jugglers and a horse-drawn carriage for the actors.  We had an actual red carpet.  We had a fundraiser that sold well.  It was a blast.

This is not KNIFVES' only project.  In fact, the film "Root Bound" had shown a few weeks earlier at the Sandpoint Film Festival, and it earned the Audience Choice award.  I have not yet seen the film yet, but am impressed that this film took just a few months to produce.

What is next for either film is unknown.  Perhaps there are more film festivals in the future.

But I am glad to see that the KNIFVES vision is coming to fruition.  I joined KNIFVES in 2009, and almost instantly was on the Board as Secretary.  I am only an honorary board member these days (though I think I'll be searching for film festivals for our films).  Always our Board President (and founder) WJ Lazerus wanted to see films as a final product for the group, with the filming process being educational.  That vision is now a reality.

I was a big supporter of the "Without A Ladder" film from the first moment that I read the script.  Ted Parvin - the writer - had written something special.  There were times when the practicalities of getting the film done by an all-volunteer board seemed almost impossible, but we got through each of those hurdles in part because Ted's story was a special one for us to be able to tell.  Ultimately grants were provided by Mountain West Bank and the State Film Office of Idaho, and Regal Cinemas graciously offered to let us hold the premiere of the film in their theater.  I am particularly proud of the food donations we received for film days (from Texas Roadhouse in Coeur d'Alene and Luigis Restaurant in Spokane) because I was the one who made the requests for donations.  Thanks to all who made this film possible!  From crew to funders.

News reporter Cindy Hval wrote a great news article about the "Without A Ladder" film and the premiere, found here:

DVDs of "Without A Ladder" can be purchased by contacting KNIFVES at   

Without a Ladder

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What Does The Fox Do?

I love this song.

I even know the words now.

I like it that the seal says "ow ow ow."

This makes it clear that the song comes from somewhere other than the United States of America.

Here, the seal barks.

But never mind.

I'm one who pays attention to what walks into my world.  I'm a cat person.  I grew up loving horses.  When I first started to study animal totems 15 years ago or so, the Cat showed up as one of mine, as did the Horse.  In fact, the Horse represents my female energy.  My male energy (and I say this at the risk of alerting opposing counsel to a tidbit of information usable against me) is The Weasel, which is an animal known for entering enemy camps under disguise as a friendly sort and gathering information in that disguise.

I do that pretty well.

Oh, I'm happy to stay friendly.  My schtick (if it can be a schtick) is that I am forthright and oriented to the bottom line, and that I understand how we all have constraints.  In short, I bond with the other side by empathizing.  But do not mistake this for a soft underbelly.  Do not make that mistake.

Once I was accused of being Columbo - you know, Peter Falk.  It was after I came back to that opposing counsel's office unexpectedly, having forgotten my raincoat (!), and caught the attorney anxiously discussing my visit with his legal assistant - even though he'd been calm and cool during the meeting itself. 

I also believe that animals enter our lives for the purpose of telling us something, or helping us along.  So when I saw deer nearly every day for a couple weeks, I took the cue and softened my edges a bit.  I let life be kind for a moment or two. I lodged in my brain that I might benefit from taking a gentle view of the world on a long term basis, when letting down my guard would cause no harm.  I embedded in my brain the thought that "guard up" perhaps should not be my default mode.  The law does create edges out of necessity - and it's up to me to remember myself even in the midst of a legal event.  I have The Deer to thank for the reminder.

So when "What Does The Fox Say?" started making the rounds, and I started turning it up on the radio and playing it for my nephews who love to dance along, in the back of my mind I wondered.... what does this mean for us?

This is not a few deer showing up at my back door over a limited period of time as a brief reminder.

This is The Fox showing up for the world.

I have introduced the song to lots of people, and have noticed that everyone enjoys it - old and young both - and wants to hear it over and over.  It isn't just me.  I have thought about how accurate the song is - what DOES The Fox say, anyway?  I have listened to fox sounds on youtube - of real foxes.  This is not something I would have done before.  The Fox truly has entered my life - and has entered the lives of so many of us.

I noticed an article that actually began the question of animal totems in relation to this video, and spoke about how we might have a totem animal or a power animal, that one may be there for a lifetime and another might be there for the moment.  The article said that The Fox carries the qualities of cunning, clever, adaptable and strategic.  According to the article, if The Fox enters your life, it signals that you should trust your intuition, pay attention to your senses and let them guide you, use your intelligence, think about breaking ouf of your routine, and look for ways to express yourself more freely.

I thought about this in relation to The Fox entering my personal life these last few weeks.  I enjoyed the read.

What was odd about the article, however, is that it did not ask the question (and thereby did not answer the question) of what happens when an entire world has The Fox enter the lives of its inhabitants, as The Fox has entered this world's consciousness through this song.

Perhaps not everyone knows the song.  But the youtube video has had, to date, almost 230 million views since it first was posted about six weeks ago. 

So - and as the heading on this blog entry reflects - what does The Fox do, when he enters the consciousness of the whole world like this?

I'm not sure.  But I'm interested in knowing more, and imagining what.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Boston's Best

The last time that I wrote about sports, all my favorite teams lost except Kansas City.  I had named them all, and they all promptly lost. 

So when I realized that I was excited about the World Series, and that I wanted Boston to win, I decided it would be better for all Boston fans if I didn't write about my thoughts or feelings on the topic.

But I thought it couldn't hurt to write an email about how I felt.  So I did.

Boston lost the next two games.

So I took to monkish silence and sat atop my couch with nary a (public) sound.

If a Boston Red Sox fan cheers alone, does anyone hear?  Hopefully not, given my track record.

I don't think the championship can be taken away ex post facto though.  So I'm writing now.

They were great - simply great.  They were the kind of team that makes it fun to be a baseball fan.  They had so many stories going - worst-to-best, the beards, Papi, a closer that never tired... I loved it all.  But I think I loved the beards the most.

I started watching during the initial post-season games.  I noticed the beard on the pitcher first. He looked Amish to me.  Then they showed the catcher - David Ross was in at that point, as I recall.  I thought, is he Amish too?  Then I figured it out and so posted on Facebook, "Are all the Red Sox Amish?"  My true baseball fan friends gave me a thumbs up on the question.

What is most intriguing about the beards is the willingness of the players, as a team, to shout out their penchant to have superstitions, while simultaneously speaking of an undeniable team spirit - where the whole is greater than any one of its parts.  Nobody needs to say a word.  The beards do all the talking - and reminding, if a player here or there (a newbie rookie or a hardened veteran) forgets the intention. 

The second greatest part of this World Series for me was Papi.  He had a World Series batting average of - what was it? .780 or something? - and it was just exciting to see him come to the plate.  I was speaking with a new lawyer friend, and she said it was the look on his face, pure determination, that was compelling.  We all should carry such grit and belief.  Apparently after the second loss - so the record was Boston 1, St. Louis 2 - the big man sat down with his team and told them to play ball. Just play.  Get out of your head and play the game.  It worked.

People complained that the games were sloppy and the best players on the field were the men in blue (you know, the umpires).  And there were some exciting, controversial calls - none of which seemed to be controversial due to their substance, just their uniqueness.  It was good to see the blue guys do well in amidst any controversy.

But still, for me? There was a fluidity and camaraderie to the Red Sox play, regardless of errors or glitches. 

And with all that Boston has seen this year... celebrating a World Series win is only right and fair.

I was exhausted on the night of Game 6 - the last game, as it turned out.  I had been working that day since 3 a.m., on a legal brief.  I didn't know if I would make it through the entire game, being played in Boston.  I watched long enough to see the Sox take a 6-0 lead then fell asleep, unable to stay awake any longer.  I didn't see the final out or the final score of 6-1 until the next morning.  But I fell asleep content, knowing what had mattered to me was not the final toss of the final game to show the ultimate win, but the way the game had been played all Series long.

There is a new old Irish saying: May the angels smile upon you, may the wind always be at your back, and may your face show determination, grit and belief like David Ortiz's face did during the 2013 World Series.