Wednesday, June 15, 2016

How Tarot Cards Made Me Kinder to Myself

A couple weeks ago, my friend gave me a Tarot Card reading. For years, the idea of getting a Tarot Card reading always had me really curious, but I was never willing to pay actual money to buy cards or get a reading from a self-proclaimed Psychic. Tarot is sort of terrifying. It has cards about death, curses, impending injuries and tragedies, etc. If a card told me that something bad was going to happen, I would be looking over my shoulder no matter how logical I actually am.

Thankfully, my reading was really positive.  At first, we were not really sure what the cards were trying to say. I took photos on my phone, and went home to do some research. The result of the deeper meaning in each of the cards ended up being really spot-on, and believe it or not, it has actually helped me a LOT.

It told me that the biggest issue in my life right now is that I feel romantically blocked, and the thing that is blocking me from getting into a relationship is my hunger for money...but this struggle is all necessary, because my ultimate goal is to be financially independent but still get to nurture and take care of my loved ones. (All true.) Two of the last cards also told me that some day in the "distant future", I will be with a guy who is confident in himself and yet compassionate to others, and we will have a really strong relationship with that is built on mutual desire and respect for one another. So basically...best reading ever.

The general message of all of the other cards in-between was; "You are doing everything you need to do in order to achieve your goals. It may take a while, but eventually, it will all work out. You're on the path, so keep doing what you're doing."

Whether these cards are magic or total bullshit, they have had a positive effect on my attitude. Lately, I have been telling myself on almost a daily basis, "It's OK, you'll get there," as if the cards were telling me the truth. It dawned on me that it is extra encouragement that I normally do not give myself. Before, it was more along the lines of "You BETTER get there, or ELSE,"  like a looming threat hanging above me at all times.

I feel as if "knowing" the future is going to work out the way I want it to has made me feel more confident in myself, and as a result, I am becoming happier and more productive. I am also allowing myself to have more fun instead of constantly stressing out.

I guess my whole point in writing this entry is that you should not wait for Tarot Cards to tell you to be OK with wherever you are in your life right now. People always say to be kind to yourself, but until this point, I never really knew how to do that. Even if magic is not real...Even if it's a lie, just saying, "It's going to be OK, I will succeed with my goals," has helped me tremendously.

Disclaimer; I do not recommend that you actually do Tarot Cards....only because I don't want you to blame me for a scary reading.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New v. Old School. Is Indie Film Dead?

On February 8th, 2011, during the Film Forum at Montclair State University, cinematographer Ken Kelsch and director Abel Ferrara repeatedly compared today's media to the way film making used to be twenty years ago, and the fact that they felt that digitalization has ruined the industry for new up-and-coming film makers.They expressed that studying film in college was a waste of time, and that there is no money in the industry any longer. Making a film for art's sake, in their opinion, is a fantasy in the minds of the young. "You can be an artist when you're young, but eventually you have to grow up," Ken stated.

But even before the creation of the Internet, HD, and online pirating, Abel's first feature-length film in 1979, Driller Killer, was admittedly created with the intention to make a profit rather than spread a message or create for art's sake. Abel spoke of their inspiration to create a horror film came from the success of Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 1974. This low-budget film became a cult classic practically over night, and Mr. Ferrara seemed to want to jump on the band wagon on genres that seemed to have a real niche with American audiences. He repeated this by making the cop-gone-wrong-in-New-York story of Bad Lieutenant in 1992.

These guests left the student audience with a pessimistic message of, "Independent film is dead", by Ken Kelsch. They both also expressed that they felt today's film makers were lazy, and that New York lacked the type of dynamic community of artistic creativity that it once had. While their words of experience may have left a sour taste in the mouths of the Montclair students, a much more optimistic panel spoke on March 1st, 2011. Aaron Sonnenberg, the Content Operations Manager for blip.tv, Steven Beckman of Cinetic FilmBuff, and Ingrid Kopp of Shooting People all spoke about the process of digital distribution.

Each of these guests gave their own insight into making what Ken Kelsch and Abel Ferrara saw as disadvantages actually become huge advantages in getting independent film out to the masses. With the Internet, it's possible to use social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook to spread the word on a film that has been recently finished, or even ask for help in raising funds through KickStarter. YouTube celebrities have even been known to make 6-figure salaries.

Aaron Sonnenberg gave examples of people who have started web series and actual careers from advertisement revenue on Blip.TV. For students interested in creating their own shows, he suggested filming several episodes in advance, including 'behind the scenes' footage, so that content can be uploaded on a regular basis. Instead of creating a series or movie that would be attractive to the masses, it's possible for film makers to make content that is attractive only to specific sub-cultures. Communities both in person and on the Internet have come together to discuss and create films dedicated to topics that they are personally passionate about; not just in New York, but all over the world.

One of the major complaints about today's digital media made by Abel Ferrara is that with the existence of movie torrents on web sites like Pirate's Bay, film makers lose revenue that would normally be made from rentals or DVD sales. A suggestion to counter the problem was made during this Digital Distribution panel. Aaron Sonnenberg said that it's often a good idea to offer a 15-minute sneak preview of a movie on web sites like Hulu or YouTube, free steaming video sites, and offer viewers to buy the remaining rental on websites like Netflix, Itunes, or On Demand. That way, a film that would previously be overlooked is now available to massive audiences all around the country. One would argue that independent film is not dead. It's still alive and kicking, just with a new face.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Matthew O'Neill, Documentary Film Maker

On February 22nd, my Film Forum class was surprised with a visit by producer/director Matthew O'Neill, who was stepping in for casting director Ilene Starger. I don't think anyone knew what to expect at first since many of us didn't have the time to research our new guest ahead of time, but I'm sure I can speak for everyone when I say that we were blown away by his talent for documentary film making, and by the fact that despite his success, he has stayed incredibly down to earth.

Matthew started off as a theater major at Yale University with dreams of acting in or directing a Broadway show. But when the opportunity to work for public access television presented itself, he jumped at the chance. After gaining experience in broadcasting, he met documentary film maker Jon Alpert, and stumbled upon a tragedy that changed not only his career, but our nation.
Matthew and Jon were in New York City on September 11, 2001, only a few blocks away when terrorists crashed planes into the Twin Towers. While the rest of the nation held its breath in complete shock, Matthew and Jon filmed. Being some of the very few people to have professional camera equipment ready at a moment's notice, they immediately got to work on capturing the reactions of the people during the tragedy. The footage ended up being used in a documentary. It began his life of traveling the world, filming documentaries for PBS, Discovery, and HBO. He has been to Iraq, Venezuela, China, Egypt, and so many other countries, putting his own life in danger in order to capture history in the making.

The documentary we were lucky enough to see during our class was China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province, which was nominated for an Academy award in 2010. I had to hold back my tears as we watched the raw emotion of parents who had lost their children in an earthquake because the school buildings collapsed due to construction that clearly wasn't regulated or inspected properly. This documentary brought a voice to the oppressed people living in the Totalitarian society where even after attempting a protest, never had justice served to the people responsible for the negligence that killed their children.

Matthew gave all of us advice that transcended not only film making, but for life in general. He urged us to always network and get to know people in our industry, and walk through any open doors we may see, even if they don't seem like they are exactly what we planned for ourselves, because we never know where it may lead. Through his stories of crazy antics in different countries, he urged all of us to always have a back-up plan just in case something goes wrong. If we plan on creating a documentary, try to make it as personal, with as few people on the crew as we possibly can.

And in stark contrast to one of our earlier guests, Ken Kelsh, who can be quoted saying that it's impossible to say anything in film making nowadays, that artistic aspirations are something of youth, and that "independent film is dead", Matthew seemed incredibly optimistic. Even with capturing unscripted reality, it's clear that he is able to put his own touch on the message he wanted to put across to the viewer. He explained his detachment and thought process that goes into filming a disaster, and the editing process afterward. There is a difference between standing in the middle of chaos and turning on a camera and seeking out the story and human emotion. I saw that as an art within itself. Matthew O'Neill a truly inspirational guest.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My interview with Jamie Lynn Lano



I've wanted to write a new entry for a while, but I'm just going to be lazy and link to my interview with Jamie Lynn Lano for Geek Girl On The Street.

Thanks to her for agreeing to answer my questions, she's really sweet.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 Soundtrack of My Life


I just needed an excuse to put this picture on my blog. I'm kind of a romantic.

At about 5AM this morning, New Years Day, I was lying awake in my friend's spare bed, completely sobered up from the fantastic party a few hours before.
Besides running to find a spare piece of paper and jot down inspiration for my novel before I lost it in sleep, all I could think to do was listen to my Ipod and try to doze until a more sane hour. I started thinking back on the music I discovered this year, and what songs fit what I was going through in 2010.

The Morning Of- Tell Me I'm Wrong
I probably listened to this song 1,000 times within the first month that The Morning Of's new album came out. I was even going to go to one of their shows at the University of Delaware, which requires me to drive through back woods and farm country. Normally, in the daytime, that route wouldn't bother me. But I was on a narrow, foggy road in the middle of nowhere without my GPS and not positive if I was going the right way. I felt like the victim in the opening of a horror movie, so I decided it was a good idea to wait until another night.

Minus The Bear- Excuses
In general, I've been listening to Minus The Bear a lot the past few months. It's just that whenever I introduce someone to the band, I play 'Excuses' for some reason. Then I move on to 'Animal Backwards' and 'Pachuca Sunrise'. They're just a very chill. And they're one of the rare bands where I can play all of their albums straight through and never get bored.

You, Me, And Everyone We Know- Happy Birthday
For whatever reason, YMAEWK likes to sing about strippers, and I LOVE IT. I've been listening to this song since '08 or '09, but it was still almost like my anthem this year. I never get tired of listening to it. I sang it to my brother John when he turned 18 in September.

The Limousines- Internet Killed The Video Star
Thanks again to Charles Trippy for introducing me to this song. It's so catchy and true.

The Ready Set- Love Like Woe
My brother Phil would play this on my Ipod every time I drove him somewhere. I love it, but for whatever reason, I never added it to a playlist. I guess since I drive him practically everywhere, I felt no need to do it myself.

Maybe later, a song will pop in my head and I'll be kicking myself for not including it on this list. But right now, I think I should shower and try go to Central Park to meet up with some people for an epic snowball fight.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cardboard Quotations


My job officially ended yesterday, and I have been so happy.
I found these pieces of cardboard that I kept throughout the past few months. They were the ends of my note pads when all of the paper had been used up. I kept them because I needed cheat-sheets for codes and passwords for programs. They were also the perfect spot to jot down brilliant quotes as I read them out of the books that helped keep me sane.

"If he needs a million acres to make him feel rich, seems to me he needs it cause he feels awful poor inside hisself, and if he's poor in hisself, there aint no million acres gonna make him feel rich."

"He had never been angry in his life. He looked in wonder at angry people, wonder and uneasiness, as normal people look at the insane."

"An' he wasn't that big- he looked so grand up there...Against the sun, with his arms stretched out. An' he looked big- as God."
-Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

"The object of the artist is the creation of the beautiful. What the beautiful is is another question."


"He was angry at himself for being young and prey of restless foolish impulses, angry also with the change of fortune which was reshaping the world about him into a vision of squalor and insincerity. Yet his anger lent nothing to the vision. He chronicled with patience what he saw, detaching himself from it and testing its mortifying flavor in secret."
-A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
by James Joyce

"When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you're done, you have to step back and look at the forest."
-On Writing by Stephen King

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Team Tastyskates Pushes Til The Finish

Winner Rick Nelson shows off his prize: A Green Banana deck

On Saturday April 10th, 2010, Team Tastyskates founders Doug Knudsen, Robert Jenkins, and Tyler Mahool organized a longboarding race at Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ. Almost a dozen skaters and their friends and family showed up to compete for the prize, a deck from Green Banana skateboarding company.

Skaters from all over congregated near the starting point and got to know each other before the race. It was really cool to watch so many people showing off their tricks and just hanging out. Rather than being overly competitive, everyone seemed chill and and friendly with one another. They were all in it for their love of longboarding.

I got to chat with the owner of Green Banana, James Giberson, and he explained to me that their boards are made with 100% recycled materials. While the rest of the world is "Going Green," the skateboarding industry should promptly follow, and Green Banana is setting the example. The decks look to be really well made, and I'd recommend checking them out.

The Projeckts owner Ben Dungy and I also talked for a while, and he explained the atmosphere of his store in Haddon Heights, NJ; Basically for skaters, by skaters. They sell just about anything skate related, even ramps, pipes, and bowls! From everything Ben told me, it seems like he's set up a really welcoming place for skaters to hang out and shop.

Another company to show up was Evil E Skateboards. I actually checked out their site before going to the race, and I love the designs they already have up for sale, but you can actually customize both skateboard and longboard decks! For the same price of buying a brand name from Zumiez, you can get any picture printed on a deck, and it includes grip tape.

Over all, it was a great day. I'll keep an eye on Team Tastyskates in the future. And if you're a skater in the area, join their Facebook group to keep up-to-date on upcoming events.

Now here's a clip of the start of the race. Ignore my asking Ben if I was in his shot at the very end.