Happy Everything…and Thank You…

A very merry and happy everything to everyone from EAP. As you can see from Mike Madrid’s droll photo on EAP: The Magazine, we’re heading into it with a twist and shout. And with this idea: that in order to get anything done, you have to risk looking a little dumb, taking a pratfall, or even two. Have we all got that? Good.

Special thanks to everyone who contributed so much support (and supportive messages) during our Indiegogo campaign. We were almost overwhelmed. But not quite. We can take it. Feel free to send more.

One of our key supporters was Ken Womack, author, professor, and present day Penn State Laureate. Ken is guest editor of this LIBERTY & LYRICS issue, and I had a delightful time exchanging correspondence with him about it.  We both were particularly taken with Boff Whalley’s contribution, “Anger is Energy.” Since Boff is one of the founding members of the anarchist punk rock group Chumbawamba, as well as one of the most energetically fun people I’ve ever met (the whole group is like that, come to think of it), he REALLY knows whereof he speaks.

And EAP’s favorite writing partnership, Marie Davis & Margaret Hultz, four hands with but a single voice, also supported our Indiegogo push, and asked for, as their perk, a phone call with me to talk over what was in their refrigerator and what they could make out of it for dinner. Well, they were humoring me. They really should be telling me what to eat. As you can see by what we did come up with in “Jam Today: Kentucky Curry.” A version of the same recipe will be in the new Jam Today: The Revolution Will Not Be Catered, coming in June 2014 to all the usual bricks and mortar, virtual, and electronic book habitats, but especially to indie bookstores near you.

We’ve got two more guest editor issues coming up, Spring 2014 will be hosted by Kate Tallman and Mark Tallman, one a librarian and the other a political science professor, who recently were flooded out of their canyon home in the great Boulder flood of 2013. So it’s probably not a suprise that the theme they’ve chosen is “Disasters: Natural and Un.” We’ve already had quite a few great contributions on that theme, and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.

Then, the Fall 2014 issue will be guest editored by the ineffable, inestimable, incredible Pablo Kjolseth, who runs the International Film Series at CU Boulder practically single handedly. How he has time to interact with us, I’ll never know. He’s pondering his theme even as we speak, but last I heard, he was leaning toward one that showcases two of his favorite things: Beer and Movies. He is probably also trying to work Cats in there, but as of press time that’s still undecided.

Welcome back, and, it bears repeating: a safe, sane, creative, joyous 2014 to all reading this, and to all you love, too.

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Two Encounters

I’m stuck in Ely, Nevada–giant unforeseen snowstorm rose up and blocked the highway west, where I’m heading–although ‘stuck’ is the wrong verb; I’ve always really liked Ely. I highly recommend the La Quinta here, especially if you’re traveling with dogs. And then it’s right next door fro a 24 hour market, in the same parking lot, actually, which is quite handy in a snowstorm. So while the lads at the hotel were digging out my parking space, I went over to the market to try to get some canned dog food, or ‘dog fast food’ as it’s known to my dogs, who really enjoy getting off their normal diet of Tod made stodge once in awhile.

I looked at the dog food on the shelves, and automatically checked the ingredients. Needless to say, they were a mess. No kind of meat was ever the first ingredient, unless it was the ominously named ‘Chicken By Products.’ There was this long list of gluten and corn and etc., all of which was undoubtedly of GMO origin. And then a whole bunch of words I didn’t have the faintest idea what they meant.

Ominous, like I said.

I was going to get  a couple of cans, why not? I thought. The same as eating at a Burger King along the road. But something stopped me. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I thought about the dogs’ normal diet, of a mix of dried food and the Dog Stodge I make from our household vegetable peelings, oatmeal, and whatever is the cheapest decent looking meat on offer (our local butcher makes up packages of ground misc. meat from their cuts, beef, lamb, game in season, all for 99 cents a pound, for which I am profoundly grateful). Their normal food is a lot cheaper, even if (or because) homemade, but that wasn’t the problem. I just couldn’t bring myself to feed them this crap, even for an emergency. So I had a brain wave. I went over to the canned soup/stew aisle to have a look for some human canned stew to give them.  Twice, even three times as expensive as the dog food,  I noticed when I got there. But just this once…

Then I looked at the ingredients. They were, if possible, about as revolting as the list on the dog food cans. And not so very often was the first ingredient listed as meat. There were a lot of by-products, and gluten, and undoubtedly GMO corn, and there was that list of chemicals I’d never heard of. I looked at this and I revolted against how revolting it was. I looked around at all the young families stocking up against the storm, and I thought, “I literally wouldn’t feed this to a dog.”

So my only recourse was to head over to the meat aisle, and eye the ground meat, picking out a package that would feed the dogs. While I was there, I got in a conversation with the butcher. In a low voice I told him what I was doing, and he, looking around him to make sure no one was listening, said, “That’s all right to give them; it’s pretty clean stuff.”

He told me he used to own his own butcher shop in Reno, and he told me it just got too hard to keep it going, people didn’t appreciate what they had. We talked about how young people were thankfully getting back into butchering, and small lots of humanely raised meat, and knowing where the meat was coming from, and he looked around his shoulder again and muttered, “Part of the problem is you can’t sell all the parts of the animal, not legally.” I said (equally low in voice) that again thankfully there were beginning to be informal chains of distribution for that kind of thing, and more activism. He said, “And we gotta educate people about what they’re eating, how there’s great stuff if they’d only give up bad habits, and about how they can be eating better for less money.” And I agreed.

We parted with expressions of mutual esteem, and that warmed me, which was good because I saw a young mother, holding her well wrapped up baby, struggling to figure out what to buy from shelves and shelves of crap, and I just wanted to weep.

That was the first encounter.

The second actually had happened awhile ago, when I was heading into Minneapolis for a sales conference, and hurried, at the airport, to get into the people mover that takes you to the light rail into town. I just made it before the doors closed, jumping on behind a young black man, just a kid I thought at first look, and we both laughed about having just made it, and he said, “Man, I want to get out of here, I just got off my shift, been here since 5 am.” Where do you work? “Chick Fil-A, over in the terminal. 5 am to 1 pm. I used to work 1 pm to 10 pm, but I got two kids, and I never saw them. This way I’m home after they have lunch, and we can have time together.”

I wish now that I’d said what I wanted to. At the time, I choked it back, it seemed so patronizing to me. What I wanted to say was, “Your kids must be so proud of you.”

What’s that got to do with books, you’re thinking if you’re still with me this far. Maybe she should have put this in the cooking blog. But I’ll tell you what it’s got to do with books. Books are our collective memory of what has been, and what can be. Books, at their best, keep alive, at very low cost, in a very effective technology, the idea that we are a community, a web, and that what is done to the least of us is done to all of us (and who said that? oh, yeah…he said a lot of good things, I read it in a book somewhere…).

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Why There Are No Postmenopausal Superheroines.

The Mountains and Plains Indie Booksellers Tradeshow was last week, in Denver, and, as in years past, I joined our fantastic western sales rep, Dory Dutton, at her table (she reps everything from Tuttle origami books to Lonely Planet guides…and a lot of other stuff in between, so we were an eclectic bunch), joined by another Consortium distributed press Torrey House Press, and three of their new authors. A raucous time was had by all. And I do mean All…I’ve been going to this for three years now, and this time there was a kind of fizz and sparkle going on that was everywhere remarked. (“Do we have a better spot this year? Is it the good canapes?” “No! It’s just everyone is happier and more energized, how did this happen?” ” Don’t ask, just enjoy it!”) The place was hopping. New bookstores had apparently sprouted overnight, young volunteers looked up at us with shining faces and admitted they loved books more than food, booksellers talked seriously about how they adored getting the right books into the right hands…it was a party.

I kept swapping hats between being the publisher of Exterminating Angel Press, and the writer of JAM TODAY and the soon to come JAM TODAY TOO, sometimes balancing both hats atop the head, sometimes doffing both of them to the hard working Torrey House authors next to me. Torrey House specializes in literary fiction and creative nonfiction that exemplify a love of the west and its environment, and judging from their authors, we might be running out of water in the west, but we aren’t short on charm. Scott Graham, who wrote the Grand Canyon set mystery CANYON SACRIFICE, Charlie Quimby of the already much talked about novel MONUMENT ROAD, and Kayann Short…who not only wrote A BUSHEL’S WORTH, but lives the life on a ten acre farm saved from urban sprawl just north of Boulder, where I write this. She and John, her husband, are examples of what I think of as the New American Culture–educated, cultivated people who live and feel deeply in and about rural areas. There are so many examples of this in my home base of Colestin Valley, Oregon (and I write about them in JAM TODAY TOO), and so many people like this coming up with new ways of being and seeing, and new stories to tell. The capital cities no longer hold a monopoly on our cultural story–and a good thing too. The prairie mustangs have a thing or two (or three) to teach the thoroughbreds about survival. And it’s those kinds of lessons about self-reliance, and about the necessity of self-knowledge, that we all need to learn over and over again.

And then there were the booksellers. It’s always a kind of bliss to hang out with indie booksellers (and librarians, but that’s another story). Imagine my extra added delight at discovering a place in Denver (just down the road! yes!) called BookBar that combines, yes, that’s right, wait for it, A BOOKSTORE WITH A WINE BAR. I just looked at the two owners who stood smiling in front of me and gasped, “Oh my, I am so THERE.” I signed two copies of JAM TODAY for them, and they told me they had a kitchen in the store, and did I want to come cook there? DID I? What does anyone who knows me think? I said, “If you have a kitchen and wine, I have garlic and olive oil.” We shook hands on it then and there. I’m going to entice a Denver friend or two into an exploratory foray there, but I’m already thinking it’s THE place to launch a JAM TODAY TOO tour out of come next year when the book comes out.

That was the author hat. As the publisher, I got into conversation with a bookseller from Tattered Cover, the venerable and beloved Denver bookstore. We agreed the whole point was getting books into the hands of the people who love them, and I showed him a copy of Mike Madrid’s DIVAS, DAMES & DAREDEVILS (which comes out tomorrow, as I write this), as a book that I love to hand over to readers and watch their faces light up as they pore over the pages of reproduced comics of the Golden Age. “There’s even a postmenopausal superheroine,” I told him. And he laughed. “People always laugh when I say that. So then I say: Why are you laughing? Why can’t we have a postmenopausal superheroine?”

“I know why,” he said. “Because superheroes have to have a flaw. And postmenopausal women HAVE no flaws.”

Is it any wonder I love indie booksellers? Mark of Tattered Cover, you I love IN PARTICULAR.

 

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We’re All in it Together.

No mere slogan, that. Physical fact, biological fact, even though our cultural default setting has it the opposite: the lie that life is the war of all against all. How did that lie get started? As usual, as a truth that outlived its use. Somewhere back in our collective history it became a better bet to ignore the fact of our interdependence (and not just between humans, but between all of nature, too) and concentrate on the individual units and how they’re different from each other. And somewhere back there we got the idea (which probably saved us from being eaten by wolves or something), that to compete as separate units, somebody rising at someone else’s fall, was a good way to keep the system moving forward. Maybe that was a good idea for a few thousand years or so.

Maybe it’s not such a good idea now.

How many of us think that’s a good idea now? I mean, given the cliff we look to be moving toward?

And yet, it stays as our default setting. Someone’s got to be on top, someone’s got to be on the bottom. Survival of the fittest. Those who have deserve more than those who don’t. Unrestrained competition leads to healthy growth (hah!). Self interest is the only true motivator.

All just one way of looking at things: mutable, fallible, and, more important, as a way to organize our mutual lives, just not working anymore.

How often do we have to repeat our mistakes before we learn from them? Or are we just waiting for Nature to rearrange our stories by force?

Here’s another way to look at things, another story to tell about ourselves:

Everyone has a stake in making a better world. All different kinds of humans and human thoughts/feelings are needed to make that world, not just a small slice of human possibility. Everyone deserves to make a living, nobody deserves to make a killing. Healthy competition is situational and leads to joy; unrestrained competition leads to cancerous growth. Self interest is too narrow a principle on which to build a world, unless there is an understanding that true self interest includes the interest of all.

That’s what this issue of EAP: The Magazine, is about. Playfully as always, because there is nothing more serious than a playful dance between new and old ideas.  The Death of Dumnorix, a beautifully poignant poem by Charles Kraszewski, inspired the topic—you’ll see why if you spend a few moments alone with it. And there’s everything else, in a multicolored jumble of contributions, from a reverse repeat of one sex dominating the other, to the yearning of a woman to be free of being (literally) burned over and over, to the sadness of the repetition of being treated like an object…how being treated like an object makes a subject treat others as an object, and isn’t it about time that cycle was broken?

Welcome back to EAP: The Magazine. And while we’re at it, I just want to mention a perfect little book sent to me by a sometime EAP author, Ralph Dartford: Cigarettes, Beer and Love. A hand made volume of poems. This is a collaboration between various artists, and the book design, as well as the oddly compelling poetry it dances with, show they spring from the same ideas as EAP: A love of creativity for its own sake. A joy in making beautiful things and sharing them. A belief in new voices, talking—singing—on the margins of an increasingly monolithic monoculture. A trust that it’s from these voices that new ideas spring. A belief in Spring, in the possiblities of rebirth. It’s not an EAP book, and I (and EAP) had nothing to do with its making or its distribution, but I had to mention it here since…well, not only since we share the beliefs of the artists who made it, but because we’re all in this together.  Look for it on Etsy; it’s a beautiful thing, in conception and execution, too.

And speaking of all being in it together, wholehearted thanks to everyone who has contributed to our Indiegogo campaign. It’s not hyperbole to say that we can’t do it without you. I hope the individual messages I’ve been sending to contributors convey that feeling enough. If you haven’t yet contributed, please do think about doing so, even with just $5. Especially with just $5. We feel the support behind every contribution, and it’s that support that is as necessary to survival as the actual cash.

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Give Us Your F***ing Money, Please! (Or at least some warm wishes.)

Man, have we had some action around EAP world headquarters recently. Getting our Indiegogo quest for support up and running would have been impossible without the incredible wisdom of Molly Mikolowski of A Literary Light, and the spectacular energy of Alison Week, our new Community Outreach Director. Mainly because of two different floods, which editorial (ie me) found…er…distracting. The first one took place at EAP World Headquarters itself (you can see a partial result in the Indiegogo video…that big empty space I’m sitting in before the rebuild..thank you, State Farm), and then, just before the launch, as I was heading out to EAP Operational (as we call it around here), the biggest flood in 500 years struck Boulder, where we’re based a few months out of the year. Impossible to get in until a day ago, and hard to concentrate on anything other than the difficulties being faced all around us.

Really, the most important thing is that everyone be safe and warm and dry and well fed. Which, come to think of it, is one of the founding principles of EAP. Why, we always are passionately curious to know, why ISN’T every person safe and warm and dry and well fed? And how can we finally get to such a sensible place?

Anyway, have a look at the Indiegogo video (especially if you want to see me lose it asking for money–didn’t matter how many takes, I kept flubbing it), and please don’t feel you have to donate to us (especially not if it’s a choice between us and the flood victims), but it would be great if you would spread the word. That’s what we’re in it for, anyway. Trying to connect with people who agree–why DON’T we have a world where everyone is safe and warm and dry and well fed? Well, why not?

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ALA, EAP, and MONSTERS.

I was off to the ALA–the American Library Association’s annual conference–this last weekend, and what a change from the last ALA I attended back in 2010. That last was right when the economy had taken its steep nosedive, and of course the first fundings to be cut were the ones for libraries. Back then, everyone wandered around looking shellshocked and dazed, and I remember anxiously pressing books on librarians who didn’t seem sure they were going to be librarians much longer.

But this ALA was hopping. It was hopping, and vibrant, and buzzing, and clearly on the move.There were so many YOUNG librarians, and librarian wannabes just out of graduate school absolutely giddy with delight at the idea of their coming career. Especially librarians for children and teens.  I was on a panel Saturday morning directed at just these librarians: CROSSING OVER: TEEN BOOKS FOR EVERYONE  (the only small press there), emceed by the book-loving Barbara Hoffert, a Library Journal editor, and I talked about how I think EAP was actually formed in my experiences with my favorite neighborhood library when I was a child. It was the Richmond District branch in San Francisco, which had a children’s library downstairs, door facing west, and the adult library upstairs, door facing east. To get from one to the other, you had to race up and down a grassy hill. I remember lugging books from one library up to the other to get books THERE. And all of my History of Arcadia books, and all of EAP books, really, are nothing more than an attempt to build a secret spiral staircase inside from the children’s library to the adult, so any reader can move back and forth at their ease.

Gerry Donaghy, the new books purchasing supervisor at Powell’s books (and all ’round cool person) said it best. He said EAP books are ‘for the precocious inner child in everybody.’

Well, we hope so.

There is a lot in this Summer 2013: MONSTERS issue of the magazine for precocious inner children of all ages, too. Check out Timothy J. Myers’ version of a particularly evil one: this monster takes all the joy of living out of your heart, makes you hate your life and your family, makes you yearn for something you can’t have. No, it’s not television. It’s The Draug, THE FISHERMAN AND THE DRAUG. And our favorite young EAP writer who we’re watching grow with real joy (the Draug not having gotten to us yet), is Kelsy Liu, so read her beyond creepy tale, CRAWL.

And it’s gardening time. Resident EAP gardening expert Debbie Naples questions just what exactly are MONSTERS IN THE GARDEN?

Welcome back (and special welcome to any librarians out there, too!).

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Rebuilding Culture from the Ground Up.

One of my most cherished possessions is a 1911 edition of the Encylopedia Brittanica—in fact, I have two sets, one in my own home base, in the woods of Oregon, and one borrowed from the university library, in Boulder. Cherished not just for the humane, clear learning that leaps out of every article, but for the long lost world view underlying it. These writers were late Victorians, men and (all too rarely) women writing at the start of the last century, and their confidence in agreed upon truths is breathtaking. Every word shows an absolute belief that most of the Truths of the Universe had been uncovered, codified, integrated into a harmonious view of what Man (although not, significantly, Woman) could, should, and would be. Any mysteries, these writers clearly felt, would inevitably be solved in what amounted to no more than a mopping up exercise.Civilization and its move forward was assured.

That was 1911. Right before the outbreak of the First World War. That war, and the unprecedented  barbarity of both sides in the Second World War, shattered that enviable illusion into a million pieces.

After World War II, there was no belief any longer that the culture was built out of agreed and time-tested truths. Instead the structure had fallen into pieces, and each specialty now stood on its own: science, art, literature, economics, history, politics, religion. Each was split from what had been a whole, and each began the work of developing itself in isolation. Those wars had shattered the self-confidence on which Western Thought was built, and a good thing, too, since that thought had arrogantly assumed that the tiny, admittedly exquisite structure it had built in a small corner of a vast, unknowable universe was the whole of knowledge. It was as if the two Great Wars—reallly, just one interrupted war that lasted fifty years—were a tsunami that washed away the little fortress of Western civilization perched so precariously on the edge of a rock, washed it away and left it in fragments on the beach.

So that’s us now, rebuilding in the flotsam and jetsum. And it wouldn’t be such a bad thing except that, for the last sixty years, we’ve maintained the arrogance without the structure to back it up. We’ve acted as if the little bits left after the destruction of that beautiful world view were still of absolute value, and we’ve tried to rebuild what we had with those old, wrecked materials. Here we have an opportunity to get creative, to think of new ways, new ideas, new stories, and we’re clinging to old, discredited techniques and materials.

But that looks to be changing. As usual after any disaster, it’s the individuals, and the communities made up of individuals, the people on the ground who are seeing that in order to build up a new, flexible, workable whole world, all the different categories kept artifically apart now need to come together to exchange information.

Physicists need to talk to plumbers Urban planners need to watch farmers. Doctors need to listen to poets. Historians need to read fairy tales.

This cheers us up here at EAP, this general rolling up of shirtsleeves and mucking in together. All the different specialties are getting together, increasingly, to share in the really big work of developing human values: of figuring out how it’s best for all of us, together, to live.

It’s not the work of experts. They got us those two huge wars, remember? No, it’s the work of all of us, down here on the ground. It’s a big job, of course, but we’re all up to it. At least, I hope we are. The alternative, after all, isn’t to be thought of.

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Mother Hubbard and EAP’s Raison d’être.

The whole purpose of Exterminating Angel Press is to find, develop, and publish stories that have been overlooked in the mad dash for competition to get to the top of…of what? We’re thinking about that too. What is it we’re all in this mad dash for? And what happens when one of us gets to the top and gets to dance on all the corpses down below?

Well, maybe that’s a bit extreme. Let’s dial back. It does seem to me that monoculture in any form is unhealthy, that it does, as they say, take all kinds to make a world. At least any kind of world that’s going to be worth living in.

So when Mike Madrid, EAP’s creative director and resident popular culture expert, discovered a whole treasure trove of comics from the 40′s and 50′s, all that had fallen into public domain out of lack of interest, lack of belief that there was anything interesting in them, and when he described one or two of them to me, I knew immediately this was an EAP sort of a thing. These are stories that reveal possibilities other than the usual ones we’re seeing now, the more stultified, endlessly repeated muscle bound superheroes who save a couple of worlds and then go on to have their own line of toys. These are stories about superheroines who didn’t make the cut. They were too out there to catch a mass market eye. A debutante who makes herself ugly to fight crime. A sexy pussy cat who beats up criminals without letting her dog boyfriend know what she’s doing. A queen of the jungle who refuses to let anyone exploit her territory, and the people and animals that live there.

Then there’s the postmenopausal superheroine, Mother Hubbard. I always find it interesting that when I tell people about her, the first reaction is stunned laughter. Then I usually say something like, “See, you laughed. Why did you laugh? What is is about the superhero story that we’ve all agreed on that makes that funny?”

It’s interesting. It tells us something about ourselves. And, as we say around here, until we know a little bit about ourselves, fuck all is going to change.

The main thing about these stories, though, is that, being so out there, so unexpected, so unlike any story lines that hardened and calcified afterwards, they are supremely entertaining. And we’ve got 28 of them, the whole stories, coming out with Mike’s commentary, in October. We’re working on it now. And if you want to get a look at his introduction, you can have a look here…

 

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On Having Fun.

I had fun giving a screenwriting seminar at the Boulder International Film Festival recently. It’s always fun to talk about story, and structure, and how they go together, with other people who are thinking about that too. There was this one moment, though, where the whole room kind of froze, like in a movie, come to think of it, ‘time stood still’, when someone in the back complained, “But what about when it’s time to stop having fun and actually sell the screenplay?”

I looked at him blankly. Who knows for how long. Then time started up again, and I said flatly, “It’s never time to stop having fun.”

Now I did wonder later if I had answered that one correctly. I mean, I could have gone off into a riff about the usual ways to try to sell your work, rather than pointing out (as I did) that the system is so rigged it’s like winning the lottery to sell anything if you’re outside of the system, let alone unknown and outside the system. And that the single best solution is to join together with talented people you know and make the script yourself. But my answer had been absolutely spontaneous. From my heart, actually. Because if there is one thing I have learned in my fifty odd years here, it’s that if you’re not having fun, you might as well pack up and go back to your home planet. Because that is the only real reward there is. All other rewards spring from that.

The whole exchange made me giggle later. For some reason, it reminded me of something I’d forgotten long ago. Years and years ago, when I was a struggling screenwriter starting out in Los Angeles, my fellow strugglers and I had a joke. You could ask a producer, any producer, a money guy, what kind of stories they wanted, what kind of stories would sell, and what they would answer, always, was “GOOD stories.” But the joke was they would never tell you what ‘GOOD’ was.

Then I became a producer (long story, but yes, indeed I did). And wearing that costume, one day, on the set of a Mexican film financed by an American company where my Dear Husband was working as an actor, I found myself sitting next to one of those money guys. One of those guys who would never ever tell me, the bohemian untrustworthy artist, what the secret was of getting ahead as a screenwriter. He was young, and expensively and casually well dressed, and smug as hell, and because I was an ‘American producer’, the Cornell Business School educated (he told me that immediately) self-contented stuffed suit from the parent company decided I was likely to be one of the few civilized folk around. He was Mexican born, but it was clear he didn’t think too much of the smarts of his homeland. Unlike those of an American producer.  He assumed my husband, being an Anglo actor, would be similarly in the know.

This gripped me with excitement. For the first time, I was undercover with one of these guys. He would tell me the secret to why they always would say, so evasively, “GOOD stories.” So I cautiously began.

What kind of material was his parent company looking for?

“Oh, you know–GOOD stories.”

I could feel Alex tensing up, halfway between hilarity and rage, next to me. I clamped a warning hand down on his knee.

“Oh yeah, I know…that’s what we always say. But what do you guys mean by ‘good’?”

He laughed. I held my breath. Here it comes, I thought.

“Well,” he said confidingly. “You know. Nothing ironic. The public won’t go for that, too complicated. Simple stuff. Nothing downer.”

Oh yes, I nodded sagely. Of course.

He expanded under the attention.

“Well,” he continued. “For example. We had a choice between bringing two different musicals to tour Mexico–’Les Mis’ or ‘The Lion King’. It was a no brainer, of course. ‘The Lion King’, hands down. ‘Les Mis’ has got all that downer social content.”

At that, Alex began to leap out of his chair. I clamped down harder with my hand.

“Oh yes,” I said nodding again. “Good choice.”

Then, thankfully, someone called the money guy to the other side of the set, and he got up, waving a friendly goodbye as he went.

The two of us waved back.

“It’s the end,” Alex said through his teeth as he smiled a wide, fake smile. “It’s the end of the fucking world.”

But of course it wasn’t, you know. And Alex knew it wasn’t. We had a good laugh about it over a drink after the shoot. Because, like all artists, we have our own secret, which we’ll willingly share with whoever wants it. Any artist knows the world–our world, the human world–will only keep going as long as there are people operating out of joy to power it. What else is all of this but a dance? And if you start treating a dance like some kind of profit making goal machine, it stops being a dance immediately, and becomes something else entirely–something grim, something deadening, something ultimately dead.  And while I know someday I’ll definitely be dead, I’ll be damned if I’ll be grim and deadening along the way. I’ll be damned if I’ll leave death behind me for others. I’ll be damned if I’ll ever stop having fun.

 

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Wonder Women of All Kinds, and a Wonder Man, too…

The documentary Wonder Women! The Untold Story of the American Superheroine is a smashing look at how the story of superheroines has helped form, and continues to form our culture, and EAP’s Mike Madrid, author of “The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines,” is one of the great interview subjects, along with Lynda Carter, Gloria Steinem, and Kathleen Hanna–so I think that makes him an honorary fabulous chick.

Anyway, I loved the doc so much, that when I heard my pal, the legendary independent film producer Margaret Matheson was coming to Boulder, I nudged the International Film Series director here, Pablo Kjolseth, into slotting Wonder Women! into their new Tuesday night documentary series, this Tuesday, Feb. 5, at 7 pm, in Muenzinger Auditorium, on the University of Colorado campus, in Boulder.

Then, since all of Margaret’s many choices of films over an incredibly productive ongoing career are made based on the story told, and since all of EAP’s point is that stories form culture, and how has that happened, and how can that make our world a better place, anyway? And since both Margaret and I are always interested in what’s going on in other people’s heads, Pablo is letting us use the screening as a way to find out.

So Margaret and I will introduce the documentary, and lead a conversation afterward about just that. How stories interact with culture, and what that means for us, and what that means for how we can go on.

And as a matter of fact, I happen to have inside knowledge that a lot of Wonder Women are coming to the screening, creatives and strong wills of all kinds, and so I’m wondering what will happen next…

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