I don’t have a title or ending for this

Without intending to, I conducted an experiment for the past year or two. Basically what I’ve been doing is seeing if I could be happy not making another movie. Instead, I’ve made other things—paintings, food, some dresses, this website. I was hoping I could be happy doing other stuff because making a movie is hard, there’s a lot that can go wrong, and there are a few key reasons why independent filmmaking is currently, arguably, a foolish pursuit. But what I’ve found is that avoiding doing what you really want to do can be as painful as reaching for something that always seems just out of your grasp, which is how I view writing and making a movie: it’s like you’re never going to be smart enough or good enough to capture on paper, and then on film, what’s in your head.

I wish I had a good ending for this but I don’t.

See what I’m saying? It’s just like writing a movie—you know there’s a better, more perfect ending, but…

Anyway. When I turned a corner on this, when I realized how tired I was of avoiding writing a new script and decided I was just going to plunge ahead, despite it all, I felt like a big weight had been lifted off of me and I burst into tears.

Laugh, or the cortisol will kill you

As you probably already know by now, it’s been proven that stress causes disease and laughter can be curative. So, watching these clips of comedian Sebastian Maniscalco is not wasting time, it’s improving your health.

Sebastian is from Chicago, he’s Italian-American, and he appears not to be jaded after living in LA. For example, he still seems to enjoy meeting fans after shows and taking lots of pics with everyone. I had wanted to cast him as the standup comedian, “Ryan,” in my movie (“What Other Couples Do”), but he didn’t respond to my email until after I’d cast Mike Friedman, which turned out to be a blessing. Mike is an experienced actor, was great in the role, and now I can’t imagine anyone else as Ryan. But I thought it was nice of Sebastian to respond to my email.

My friend Denise saw his most recent set at Hermosa Beach Comedy and Magic Club and said people were laughing so hard they were crying. But it’s always best to go into things with low expectations, so that you’re pleasantly surprised. So, forget what I said and just watch these clips and see if you don’t enjoy him. If you want to see him live, he is constantly appearing in clubs all over the country: sebastianlive.com.


A quote for writers

“Every first draft is perfect, because all a first draft needs to do is exist.”

Jane Smiley

I was transfixed by the Poo-Pourri ad

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I don’t know why humans had to be designed to defecate. Even if you think it’s smart design, from an engineering standpoint (food goes in, waste goes out), why couldn’t the whole issue of fuel consumption have been solved in some other way that is not totally disgusting? Anyway, I was aware of the Poo-Pourri ad but had not watched it and was hoping to avoid it for the rest of my life. But I recently clicked on a music video on YouTube, the ad started automatically, and I was helpless to stop it. It’s like I was passing a grisly accident on the freeway and could not look away. Why is this girl in a 1950s-style party outfit? Maybe because if they’d dressed her in casual contemporary attire, like jeans and a t-shirt, it’d be sort of grungy, and the topic of the ad is already grungy. Why is she sitting on a toilet in the middle of parties and stuff? Oh, right—to get across the vulnerability one feels when one has to relieve oneself not in the privacy of one’s home. Why can’t I tear myself away? Because of the weird combination of her being cheerful, having a posh accent, and talking about something gross and relatively taboo. AND she is staring unblinkingly at the camera—locking eyes with you, the viewer, as if she knows that breaking her gaze will give you a chance to escape. Most compelling of all is she’s offering a solution to unpleasantness and embarrassment.

I don’t know what else to say about the brilliance of this ad or the product. Oh, except that I want to buy a sh*tload of stock in whatever company makes it.

Why straight men don’t use Pinterest

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The potential customer base for Pinterest is half of humanity–i.e., all women. Because most of us are bottomless pits of wanting and Pinterest gives us a way to catalogue the myriad things we want. It’s been hypothesized that men don’t use Pinterest because they’re ‘not into scrapbooking’ or they’re ‘too foggybrained’ to remember to pin items they like. But I think these hypotheses are wrong. Men don’t use Pinterest because they only really want 3 things, which don’t need cataloging:  food, sex, and TV/the Internet.



Two men talking on their cell phones compete to be the blacker black man (a sketch from last season on the Key & Peele show on Comedy Central, which recently began its third season).


Technology addiction and the end of productivity

My sister says that each time we get a new text or email on our cell phone, the little ‘ding’ that signals its arrival causes the release of dopamine or serotonin or whatever chemical makes things pleasurable and addictive. So, being on our phones really is as addictive as, say, gambling can be.

And just the same as it is with gambling, in which coming close to winning can give you the same rush as actually winning, it doesn’t matter that YOU KNOW the text or email you just received is not likely to contain exciting news or even interesting information, you still get the rush. I don’t know if the dopamine or serotonin is released because we anticipate the social connection that can be provided by a text, post, email or tweet. But studies show our social ties are the most important contributor to our happiness. The question is, if we can gratify our need for social connection by texting, posting, tweeting and emailing all day, why do anything else?

Why go to the trouble of, say, creating something (a business, art, etc.), when creating is often hard, and texting, posting and emailing is easy?

One answer is because creating stuff offers its own rewards. And doing hard things (like creating stuff) is usually, ultimately, more rewarding than doing easy things (like surfing the Net). As for the social interactions we have online, many of them are arguably not as rewarding as the social interactions we have or could be having in person.

I’m a writer, I work at home, and I don’t have a boss. In other words, I can be online all day. And I am. I’m totally addicted. And it’s making me miserable. (I want the social interactions I get online, but I want to enjoy them quickly and then get offline, so that I can do or make something.) I should ask for help, but like a true addict, I don’t want to. I think I can beat this on my own. (Haha.) I am now going to try to limit my time online. Starting tomorrow. (Haha.)

Who’s with me? Anyone?

Why bother? Because there is only one you


I had met a friend for lunch at Marmalade cafe in Santa Monica and as I was leaving, I saw an amiable-looking guy in his 60s getting into a big, white Mercedes convertible. He had a personalized license plate that said, “YESUCAN.” This is going to make me sound stupid, but I called out to him, “Does your license plate mean… you know… that I can?” He smiled and said, “Yep.”

If you are wrestling with whether or not you can do or make something that scares but excites you, let me and the guy with the white convertible tell you what you already know: Yes, you can.

What about all the fears and expectations and desire for ‘results’? We have to let all that go. I have to let all that go.

A letter from the famous choreographer Martha Graham to her friend, Agnes DeMille, who was a dancer (I quoted the start of this in one of my last posts):

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost, the world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.

No artist is pleased…there is no satisfaction whatever at any time.

There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction; a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the rest.”


Do what you want to do. There’s still time.

I tore a page out of a book I own. It felt wrong, but I had a strong compulsion to do it. Page 298, from the essay Late Bloomers – Why do we equate genius with precocity? in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, What the Dog Saw. Gladwell says we assume genius announces itself when the artist is very young, but that there are just as many “old masters,” who made their best works later in life. From page 298: “Yes, there was Orson Welles, peaking as a director at twenty-five. But then there was Alfred Hitchcock, who made Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief, The Trouble with Harry, Vertigo, North by Northwest, and Psycho—one of the greatest runs by a director in history—between his fifty-fourth and sixty-first birthdays. Mark Twain published Adventures of Huckleberry Finn at forty-nine. Daniel Defoe wrote Robinson Crusoe at fifty-eight.”

As soon as I’d finished reading the words “fifty-eight,” I was carefully gripping the page with the intent of tearing it out. After a moment of arguing with myself about whether I’d regret it, I tore.

I don’t like the phrase “late bloomer.” It’s one of those embarrassing things parents say about you when you’re young, to explain your level of emotional maturity, or your lack of breasts. But what’s worse than being a late bloomer is to stop growing altogether. Better to keep creating and be frustrated than to stop creating and be depressed.

If you’ve stopped creating, no matter what your age or how long you’ve stayed away, it’s never too late to start up again. Even if you want to start some activity that’s completely new to you, that’ll take years to become good at, there’s no good argument for not starting.

Let’s both do or make something. TODAY. Let’s each think of something we want to do—just something we want to attempt—and take a small step toward it.

“Why should we all use our creative power? Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money.”   — Brenda Ueland

Need another little push?

“Do not fear mistakes. There are none.”  — Miles Davis









Ignore feedback from others with JONATHAN ADLER

(Photo credit: image copyright Annie Schlechter)

(Photo credit: image copyright Annie Schlechter)

It’s almost like his pottery and pillows, empire of shops and millions in profits are beside the point. What is awesome about Jonathan Adler is the man himself. The best way to get to know him better is through his coffee table book, “Jonathan Adler: My Prescription for Anti-depressive Living.” By the time you finish reading about how his former New Jersey neighbor is still his design muse (“As born-again Christians ask themselves when confronted with a dilemma, ‘What would Jesus do?’ so I ask myself, ‘What would Mrs. Goldstein do?’”), his philosophy on “happy chic” decor (“Minimalism is a bummer” “In a stunning epiphany, we realized the utter pointlessness of good taste without fun”), and his personal creation story (regarding summer camp: “My parents came to pick me up…expecting to find a tan, vigorous soccer star, but instead they found a pale potter with a dream”), you will be licking the pages. Or, if you can spare 18 minutes to watch this video of Adler talking about his journey from artist to global brand, you will feel as though you had a deeply satisfying meal in a peaceful, calming environment:

Some tenets from the Jonathan Adler Manifesto:

  • I believe your home should make you happy.
  • I believe that when it comes to home decorating, the wife is always right (unless the husband is gay).
  • I believe in dorky enthusiasm.
  • I believe in carbohydrates—to hell with the puffy consequences.
  • I believe celebrities should pay full price.