Adonis Diaries

Archive for April 8th, 2013

“There is no more this feeling of lightness in the air around here…” said grandma (fiction story)  April 8, 2013

Grandma was perturbed this morning. She was not cheerful, and that is not uncommon early morning, to her and to me.

I realized that I love the night and loth the morning.

Nothing in the waking up process carries much hope for a better life: Just the same routine for maintaining the survival process.

Other people can’t wait to leave the house, under the excuse of going to work.

The Morning for grandma meant working studiously, without any interruption for hours on, until grandma falls down, claiming dizziness, back pain, chills, unresponsive muscles, unresponsive finger ligaments, arthritis…

The adage was “wake up early and devour the early worms…” as birds do and as the Chinese rice paddy growers do… 

And this age is probably behind us, since all these maintenance tasks do not generate any money to back up whatever wishes I still have…

For elder people, waking up very early in the morning, even after you crossed the barrier of 80 years, is a must… Doing anything is better than loafing around or waiting for the sun to warm the air and the body…

Better feel the chill and freeze the fingers in cold water than wait for the sun to come to the rescue…

The sink must be cleaned of dishes from overnight binging of “other members of the extended family”…

Cooking for two families must be started, and usually two of the 3 dishes in the menu are burned for handling more than one job at a time…  And the cooking burner is flooded and must be cleaned…

And the level of anger and frustration reaches its zenith:  You cannot look such a bad cook after a life-time of excellent compliments…

Portions of the rooms in the house must be thoroughly sweeped and cleaned (floor, walls, windows, racks…).

Even a decade ago, I used to clean the entire house in a single day.

I tried to appease grandma that her attitude is a matter of temporary depression, and told her an example of how to control depressive moods without medications.

How can you deal with depression? Here is this story:
“A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half… empty or half full” question. The “psychologist” smiled and inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?”
Called out answers ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.
The  psychologist replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”
The psychologist resumed, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about the worries for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”
It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses.
But how can I do that?
For grandma, when she goes to bed the only ideas that come to mind are remembering the dear departed.
“I review all these dead people… I barely can get a snooze at night”.
And what about my ailing husband George, having so much difficulty breathing and coughing these horrible noises?
As early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. But that’s what I do after 1 pm: I am just aware of my body pains and helplessness to perform anything. I am watching a bad TV screen and a mute sound. (She cannot hear or see properly)
Don’t carry the worries through the evening and into the night. Remember to put the glass down!
Putting the glass down is no problem: The glass drops by itself. It is picking up the pieces and sweeping the shards that are the problem.

Skilled Artists are the most expensive portion in film making: Open letter to Ang Lee

In 1993 Ang Lee premiered his second movie, “The Wedding Banquet,” at the Seattle International Film Festival.  At the time, Lee was an unknown in the U.S., an anomaly as a Taiwan-born immigrant director in the United States, mostly notable for having been the NYU classmate of the more famous director Spike Lee.

Ang Lee is up at Sunday’s Academy Awards for Best Picture (his fourth nomination) and Best Director (his third), for “Life of Pi.” And in terms of overall tally, “Life of Pi” (11 nominations) trails only Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” (12 nominations).

Phillip Broste, Lead Compositor, posted this Open Letter to Ang Lee:

When asked about the bankruptcy of Rhythm + Hues, the visual effects house largely responsible for making your film “life of Pi” as incredible as it was, you said (Ang Lee):

“I would like it to be cheaper and not a tough business [for VFX vendors]. It’s easy for me to say, but it’s very tough. It’s very hard for them to make money. The research and development is so expensive; that is a big burden for every house. They all have good times and hard times, and in the tough times, some may not [survive].”

I just want to point out that while, yes R&D can be expensive and yes it takes a lot of technology and computing power to create films like yours, it is not computer chips and hard drives that are costing you so very much money.  It is the artists that are helping you create your film.

So when you say  “I would like it to be cheaper,” as an artist I take that personally.

It took hundreds of hours from skilled artists and hard-working coordinators and producers to craft the environments and performances in life of Pi.

Not to mention the engineers that wrote all of that proprietary code and build the R+H pipeline.  That is where your money went.

I’d say, judging from the night you just had, you got one hell of a deal.

Incidentally, those were the same gorgeous sunsets and vistas that your DP Claudio Miranda took credit for without so much as a word of thanks to those artists.

And the same animated performances that helped win you the best director statue.  Nice of you to mention the pool crew, but maybe you could have thanked the guys and gals who turned that pool in to an ocean and put a tiger in to that boat?

It was world class work, after all.

And after a fabulously insulting and dismissive introduction from the cast of the avengers, at least two of whom spent fully half of their film as a digitally animated character, R+H won for it’s work on your very fine piece of cinema.

And just as the bankruptcy was about to be acknowledged on a nationally-televised platform, the speech was cut short.  By the Jaws theme.

If this was meant as a joke, we artists are not laughing.

Mr. Lee, I do believe that you are a thoughtful and brilliant man. And a gifted filmmaker.

But I also believe that you and everyone in your tier of our business is fabulously ignorant to the pain and turmoil you are putting artists through.

Our employers scramble to chase illegal film subsidies across the globe at the behest of the film studios.

Those same subsidies raise overhead, distort the market, and cause wage stagnation in what are already trying economic times.  Your VFX are already cheaper than they should be.

It is disheartening to see how blissfully unaware of this fact you truly are.

By all accounts, R+H is a fantastic place to work; a truly great group of people who treat their employees with fairness and respect.

Much like Zoic Studios, the fabulous company that I am proud to work for.  But I am beginning to wonder if these examples of decency will be able to survive in such a hostile environment. Or if the horror stories of unpaid overtime and illegal employment practices will become the norm, all because you and your fellow filmmakers “would like it to be cheaper.”

I for one won’t stand for it.  Please join me.”




April 2013

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