Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Live, and Let Die

Let us not be swayed by the masses of the crowd,
by the inviolate nature of the beast,
The construct of the beast, the overarching influence,
The invading fear,

Let us choose for the right reasons,
for the reasons that is of our own thought,
our own making,
of us.

Let us be the masters of our own destiny, and set the course for glory,
For when the time comes, glory will indeed by within us,
We are our own lords, winners of our own circles,
Thus, let us make our own minds, and not be subservient to others,

For the ones who will taste the blood and the gory, the milk and the glory,
will be us.
Find, then, that one part of our soul ready to stand tall,
Wanting to stand tall, to fight with all its might,

But is not given the space, nor the time, nor the support to do so,
Its past has held it down, hammered down by inconfidence,
Held down by helplessness,
Raped...by the reasons of others.

One day, we shall stand before our makers, bathed in the light of judgment,
and we shall be asked, To whom did you consider when you decided?
To whom did you emulate when you balled your fist?
To whom did you bow down to when the time came for you to choose?

And yet you stand here before me, aiming the flame at others!
The decision, the choice, the fame, the downfall, is yours!
Yours,
and yours alone!

Let not others come into your domain, sit in your chair, swivel around, and drink your wine,
Let not others remove you from your chamber, throw you out into the streets, naked and innocent,
Let not others bring down upon you their hammer of indecision!
Let no one take charge, but you and you alone!

We live and die by the decisions we make,
If we win, if we are indeed victorious, then let us rise and shout with joy, driven by the knowledge that we had made good.
But if we fail, if we are to fall upon the sword, before we can taste the sweet champagne of life on the podium,
then let us lie on our deathbed in comfort, knowing that we had given every ounce of what is possible.

Knowing, that what we had made,
we made because of us.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The One With F.R.I.E.N.D.S

They say that laughter is always the best of medicines. I've never really disputed it that much; perhaps it won't cure all of the ailments in the world, but there is a certain sense of comfort and enjoyment that one finds in laughter.

I'm always a firm believer in momentarily releases of pain. What I mean by this is that sometimes, in so many situations, perhaps the answer that we seek is not one that cannot be found in that instant, or one that requires a lot of perspiration; rather, its inspiration can come simply after having refreshed ourselves. We take a break, a breather, a moment to just stand back, and look at the bigger picture.

It is one thing that is certainly preached by many filmmakers and scriptwriters that I have come across. Always take a seat back. Stand up, and move away. Leave the script for a day, a week, a month. Let it ferment, let it grow, let it be.

For it is in that break from the continuous pleasure that we call work, that we can recharge ourselves just a little bit. In the context of scriptwriting, perhaps a fresher set of eyes can give a new perspective, a new point of view.

But I digress...slightly. In laughter, in comedy, and in smiling, we find a momentary pleasure that releases us from the grip of the moment. For the moment that we are laughing, we're no longer thinking of tax issues, of politics, of life, and of love itself; we're thinking...no, feeling the humour of the moment creeping up and sweeping us away in its wave of happiness, of joy, and of the pleasant accompaniment by others.

It is, just so you know, a part of the reason why I never really minded the laughter being directed at me. So long as there is an absence of malice.

It is also the reason why the hit TV show 'Friends' have been a big part of my life up until now. The jokes, of course, are funny and tickles the funny bones almost every time. Throughout the years, I realise that slowly, having watched almost all of the episodes, I am able to recall almost every line the way I had stored it in my memory. This is not something new; I am able to do this with other parts of my life as well. Nevertheless, with 'Friends', it is a little different.

I am smiling, not just because of the jokes, but also because of the memories of crowding around the TV set with my family as the jokes are played out. I am laughing, not just because of Joey and Chandler's chemistry, but also because of the memories of yesteryears that they inspire within me.

They bring back the past, somehow. But in a good way.

'Friends', then, is like a comfort blanket that doesn't really grow old, doesn't become stale, doesn't waste away like the memories of other things, of other people.

It's just...there. Joking, laughing, and smiling.

And at a time when you need to just take a step back, to relax, and to enjoy...it has always been there for me, whether the rain is falling or otherwise.

Happy times.

Butterflies?

I had expected butterflies, and plenty of them, in the stomach. This is based on past experience; sleepless nights, led on by endless worries and potential disasters circulating in my head, had always made for the most uncomfortable of rests the night before a shoot.

“Sleep well, and have a good rest,” was the usual parting message from my crew, usually delivered on the night of the final meeting (which usually happened before the first day of shoot). It was, for the most part, a futile effort. It was no different for this film, either; my actor had especially wished me a night filled with sweet dreams.

And yet...

And yet...it's not coming. Somehow, I did not feel as worried as I did before. If anything, my head was as clear as it could have been, my heart a little lighter, and my spirits as high as a kite. The planning had gone well enough, even with the typical spanners in the works.

But then again, as my father had always told me, filmmaking is about managing problems. We can only plan so much; when push comes to shove, we have to think quick, decide decisively, and with authority. I suppose that's where the respect and loyalty comes from, and perhaps that will drive people on to realise your vision even more.

Vision.

Perhaps that is it. Perhaps, because my name will not appear as the director's, that my feeling of worries, paranoia, and restlessness did not come. Perhaps, instead of having found a permanent home, signalling my arrival on to the level of 'comfortably calling oneself a filmmaker', it is merely not having the pressure of being the main man that is keeping the butterflies away.

And so, on that first night, I slept well, thank you very much.

Just as well.

I wouldn't sleep well for the rest of the week.

Damn.

At least it wasn't the butterflies.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

With Your Own Eyes

"I always said when reporters and others sought my reaction to Duke's being ranked somewhere in the top ten: "It's nice to have confirmed what we know about the quality of our students and faculty. But magazine ratings are really designed to help sell magazines. Students should visit a campus, spend real time learning about the academic programs, and determine whether or not they have the right fit with a particular institution." I still think that's very sound advice."

John F. Burness, academician.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Shiver in the Night

He wolfed down the chicken like a hungry man wolfing down a chicken. Then again, he's not just any man. Life on the run is not one that settles the stomach well, after all. There's hardly enough time to eat, to drink, to do the basic essentials of life. Not with Mahone on his back all the time, even when he's not there.

No, life on the run is not fun. At all.

"Thanks for the chicken," he enthused, dragging every bit of meat from the bone with the edges of his teeth clamped tightly together.

"That's not a problem," said the old man. "You are very welcome." He pushed the last remaining chicken wing without touching, instead tipping it over by slightly raising the plate with the edges of his dirty, unwashed fingers. "Here. Finish it off.

He got up, and headed towards the kitchen sink to wash up. Tempted, Fernando Sucre reached over, and smiled mischeviously as he gingerly lifted the chicken to his plate.

“So what brought you here?” The old man had sat down noisily, but Fernando, though polite, had not paid much attention to him until then. “Are you on the run from the law?”

That hit home a little closer than Fernando wanted. He hoped that the momentary flinch didn't give it away. Fortunately, the old man, driven by his curiousity, pressed on. “Or maybe it was because of a woman?”

Fernando couldn't help but smile, the relief of not having to lie to the old man immediately washed away by even happier memories of Marie Cruz. “Yes,” he grinned. “The most beautiful woman on earth.”

The old man joined his smile, then it slowly faded away. As he chewed the chicken, Fernando wondered what is on his mind. Perhaps it is of a similar situation, an occurence that happened a long time ago. Perhaps he, too, was once on the run. He couldn't guess what it was, but then again, given the experience etched on the man's face, Fernando could have spent the whole night looking at the old man being despondent, and probably wouldn't get the right answer.

“So,” he started, swallowing the chicken meat. He could feel it, still a little hard, as it moved down his oesophagus, but settled safely in the confines of his stomach. He did it, because he had wanted to break the silence, but as he does so, looking into the eyes of the old man whose attention, fixed as it is now, on him, he realised that he didn't actually know what to say. “I...I just wanted to say what a lovely meal it was.” Pause. “Thank you, once again.”

The old man, bent over slightly at the waist, his back a smooth curve, lifted his right hand from his knee, one of the two that had been supporting his posture, and waved away Fernando's gratitude. “No, no...” he said, letting the end of it trail away. “No,” he continued, more stiffly, more sure of himself, “it was nothing. If anything, I want to thank you. You have spared me from spending the night by myself. Solitude,” he paused, and closed his eyes momentarily. “Solitude...it is not a friendly company.”

He raised himself up, waving Fernando down as he, too, did so out of respect. Fernando sat back stiffly down. “There is nothing worse than eating by oneself. I should thank you, instead, for being here. Goodnight.”

As the old man went into his room, his feet shuffling noisily against the floor, Fernando suddenly felt the lack of an appetite. The weight of the man's words hit him, harder, than he had thought. He looked at the leftover chicken, small as it were, and despite the rumbling of his stomach, did not touch it again.

Instead, his heart shivered with the loneliness that he could no longer deny.

The shiver in the night.

*A re-imagination of a scene from Prison Break.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


"I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree."

Joyce Kilmer, poet.