In the New Yorker this week there's a profile of Nora Ephron, the writer, screenwriter, and director. Her new film is "Julia and Julie," about Julia Child and so the article contained a lot about cooking, both Child's love for it and Ephron's. What I find inspiring is the idea that the film celebrates "... the pleasure of finding the thing you are best at, and devoting yourself to it with abandon. If you make a mistake, learn from it, then forget it... Don't complain, don't explain: that's the motto of Julia Child and Nora Ephron..."
I like that. Exemplary people are often very good at many things, though, and I would think that other criteria come up, besides just doing what you are very very best at, even if it's possible to determine what that is: things like "can I make a living from it?", "is it fun?", and "what will make the most positive difference in the world?" There are many reasons to devote oneself with abandon to a pursuit. But I like the idea of celebrating figuring out what to devote oneself to.
When I first started dating Greta, over 2 and a half years ago, I met Jack and she asked me if I liked dogs. I replied "Well, I don't dislike dogs." She didn't view this as a very positive response, but all I meant was that I had been ambivalent to dogs so far. I had not ever had a very high place in my life for pets, and I grew up with dogs in the family that were not crazy but were also not really good with kids or "close" to us.
Jack taught me to love dogs. Jack and Greta taught me what a deep bond someone can have with their pet. He was a little puppy, wild on a farm in Virginia when 20-year-old Greta found him, the day after having a dream about him. Since then he was with her for countless adventures. He was there when she had nobody else to be there for her. And with her love and attention and care, he grew up to be the gentlest, kindest, most loving dog I've ever known. Everyone who knows him loves him, and he has many friends who will be sad to hear this terrible news. Our friend Peter drove up from Bisbee and the three of us are here in this house that seems empty, blown away by this sudden tragedy. Peter's dog Nori keeps looking around for Jack, her best doggy buddy, not quite understanding what has happened. Where did he go?
In the morning yesterday, I prepared his breakfast like I often do. On every other morning, he always would rush to the bowl and start gobbling away eagerly. Yesterday morning, he didn't want to eat it at all. I knew something was wrong. He was lethargic and panting hard and not walking very steadily. Jack has had a mast-cell tumor, a type of canine cancer, for over a year now, and we have known that this made his days numbered, even more so than his advanced age. But he's been on medicine and doing really great for a long time. We may have started to forget that at any time he could go downhill.
He started feeling better after we gave him a dose of his prednasone in a bowl of ice cream. He has always really liked ice cream. But then in the afternoon his condition got worse again. He was trembling all over, having trouble breathing and panting hard like he was in pain. We had called the vet and made an appointment for later in the afternoon, but when Greta offered him more ice cream and he refused, that was when she knew something was seriously wrong. She got him in the car and headed for the vet, meeting me on the way home from a meeting I had near campus. I drove the rest of the way with her in the backseat holding him.
They took him out of the car and into the clinic on a little doggy stretcher.
I can't really bear to continue at this level of detail. Suffice to say that the prognosis was grim. The cancer had clearly spread, and the mast cells were releasing histamines into his bloodstream that were causing him to go into severe shock. He passed away gently and with a minimum of suffering, in Greta's arms, at about 6pm.
Last Saturday, Greta and I took part in a special tour of households in Tucson that have chickens.
Ours was one of 18 stops on the tour, and we had over 100 people stop by in 4 hours to look at our chickens and coop, as well as check out our garden and solar oven. (our friend Matt's house was also on the tour). It was pretty fun and it seemed like a lot of people were inspired and thinking about raising chickens themselves, or doing it differently if they already did, and/or inspired to garden more, or use greywater, or build/get a solar oven. It was encouraging to see that so many people are into these sustainable practices -- Apparently the food co-op sold 200 tickets to the tour, raising 1000 bucks for the community food bank, and they had to turn away 200 more people.
Been too busy to blog lately and since it's been a week, i'll post some twitters. if there was no twitter would i blog more? seems possible. but not as often as i twitter, right? what's the total worth calculus? damn.
- 06:28 up early, drinking coffee. #
- 06:44 trying to listen to a Chris Morris monologue and read a Momus blog entry at the same time. not working. #
- 08:47 watching video about a phoenix baptist minister talking about getting beat up by border patrol. www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/a ... #
- 12:55 back from getting new car tires. now off to post office on my bike. that sure was enough car-related activity for the day. #
- 14:39 editing one more - but it really is the last, at least for a good while - Tucson Roller Derby video... Tucson vs. Philly, last september #
- 19:48 cooking dinner cuz the screening i went to was done early. #
- 19:55 going to start a spreadsheet to keep track of cast and crew for my tv series. #
- 20:46 making tea and getting ready to watch last night's colbert report #
I'm really getting into our garden this year.
It's nice at our new house because we have plenty of our own yard to do what we like in. I want to get more and more skilled and wise in the ways of growing plants, especially food, because that's a direction we all should be taking on the road to a sustainable society.
More photos of our garden are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/steev/archives/date-taken/2009/04/12/
An old friend I haven't heard from in about 18 years just asked me why I spell my name the way I do now.
It's a relatively simple story: In 1990 or so, I was in a band, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was a sort of punk/goth/noise/pop band called The Tao Puppies. The band had various problems which I won't detail here, but one of the quaint pretensions that the bass player had, being a big fan of the Ramones, was that everyone in the band should have a stage name. His was Clark Kent, if I recall correctly. I don't remember anyone else's stage name, but the point is that I thought this was a dumb idea. So to sort of purposely annoy and spite him I made my stage name something that's pronounced exactly the same, simply spelled differently: Steev.
I ended up liking that spelling quite a bit and as I continued an artistic career I kept using it, at first just for artistic purposes, but then gradually for everything in life short of legal documents.
It's gotten to the point that people who know me very very well sometimes misspell the names of other Steves that they know, because they're so used to spelling it my way. It's fun. And people think I'm Dutch or something foreign, which is also fun.
That's about it. Not much more to it.
This week I began an experiment in online, DIY, grassroots fundraising. I need to raise funds for completion of a documentary I've been working on for the last 15 months or so called "Death and Taxes: Refusing to Pay for War." If you follow this blog you have seen me writing about the film before. It's been a long process, and a subject I've cared about for many years.
Basically, this doc has been one of the major parts of my life for awhile, and it's one of the most ambitious, if not the most ambitious, film projects I've ever tried. As such, some mistakes were made, and some of them were in planning and budgeting. One difficulty is that I am now, for close to the last 2 years, trying to make a living from making films and doing other freelance motion picture work. It's a hard existence, I've discovered, especially in a place like Tucson where the industry is pretty stunted. So this is the first big project I've done where I needed to make it pay, personally, as in, I had to make a living - not a killing, just a modest living.
To make a long story short, I miscalculated, some mishaps happened, and the film took much longer than I thought, we ran out of money last November, and I'm broke. I have a few other videography gigs that are bringing in a little, but this kind of thing keeps me busy, and I have to do them to survive. So I can't continue work on the WTR film, in any timely way, unless it's funded.
For my last full-length film, On The Edge, well, it was my first film, and I made even more mistakes, and I was willing to make them because I had passion and compassion for the subject, and I'd never done a big project like that before. I spent all my savings, I interrupted my life to go live cheaply in rural Iowa while I edited, and after a total of 18 months it was done. But I can't do that with every film. That's not sustainable.
So, this is a long-winded way of saying, I need some financial help, bad. You can help. I know about the economy and I know everyone is hurting. But any little bit counts. Maybe you still have a steady job. I don't. I have this film.
And not only that, it's a film about something really important. I'm not asking people to fund my silly zombie slasher flick. This project is about getting the word out about a unique and inspiring way to work for peace and change the world. Maybe that's worth a few bucks?
There's information about multiple ways you can donate here: http://detritus.net/steev/vid/death-and-taxes/
Thanx so much for your support.
Day before yesterday:
- 10:00 looking at documentation about Jack Trip - ccrma.stanford.edu/groups/soundwire/software/jacktrip/ #
- 10:16 Just watched the intro section of the new film about copyright and mashups and stuff, "RIP": tinyurl.com/76hhpo #
- 11:42 wondering what the pollen count is today. maybe pretty low, or maybe the herbal stuff i've been taking actual works...? #
- 14:19 creating an online fundraising infrastructure for my war tax film. #
- 15:05 polishing up my grassroots DIY fundraising page for my documentary. tinyurl.com/dx7wyl #
- 17:39 doing a tech rehearsal for Sonic Bridge, a telematic performance that will happen next week.. #
- 20:44 looking for a good free ID3 editor for the Mac. ridiculous how hard it is to find one. #
- 08:21 reading about "internet 2"... reminded of the jokes we used to tell about "Internet Plus"... #
- 08:32 thinking i must remember this for next xmas: www.vimeo.com/2344860 #
- 10:54 switching gears, from fundraising, to editing... #
- 15:30 getting creeped out by the idea of "pokens".... ( doyoupoken.com ) #
- 15:56 wondering why "iTunes DJ" has replaced "party shuffle" #
- 17:12 thinking about how the border patrol wants to defoliate the banks of the entire Rio Grande River... makes me sick.. #
Now I'm back and trying to catch up on lots and lots of things I have on my plate. I brought along some work but I never had time to get to it. Sigh.