THE RELUCTANT GARDENER

At long last, I’m posting the screenplay I wrote as an animated short about Black Thumb Merrie’s perils as a reluctant gardener and her battle with nature. Follow her on her journey as …

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THE RELUCTANT GARDENER

ThistleAt long last, I’m posting the screenplay I wrote as an animated short about Black Thumb Merrie’s perils as a reluctant gardener and her battle with nature. Follow her on her journey as she goes from a bubbly new homeowner ready to tackle yard maintenance and beautification to a crazed, accidental murderer of innocent foliage.

The Reluctant Gardener

Sleep tight for me, I’m gone.


OUT OF THE CLOSET

woman-1335487_1280When I think of a gamer, I think of someone who is super into video games—the kind that are played on an Xbox or PS4 console, etc. I would even consider those who are so into PC games that they would lug all of their heavy equipment to another person’s house just to hook up and play with others as a gamer, or someone really into internet gaming. My husband and son would fall into that category, especially considering my son worked at GameStop for years—it was his dream job. He is the guy you want to ask all your gaming questions because he is very knowledgeable. So is my husband. My husband, however, claims that I am a “closet gamer.” I’ll get to that later.

The first experience I had with a video game was as a child, on an Apple II, playing Oregon Trail. Granted, as a child, we would play other games (role playing, i.e. pretend—often I got stuck playing Daisy Duke, just because I was the girl—board games, sports, etc.), but Oregon Trail was the first game I played on the computer. It was addicting, fun and certainly spawned emotions, most particularly disappointment because I killed my crew by making a bad decision at the general store.

As I got older, I plunked a lot of quarters into arcade machines. My games of choice were either Pinball, Tekken or other similar fighting games, or driving games. I had an Atari and played a few games hooked up to our television (usually Space Invaders, which I took pride in whooping every adult that ever challenged me) and played Mario or Tetris when my friends all got Nintendo. But, as the games began to advance and become more accessible at home I sort of lost interest—getting my driver’s license may have had something to do with that.

So, as a kid, I could say I was a gamer. As an adult, not so much—except when my husband and I were dating. He happened to bring his PS2 over and tried to get me to connect with his love of games by appealing to the arcade kid in me with Street Fighter. He left to run an errand and I powered it up to check it out. By the time he came back, he claims he could hear me cussing and swearing (lots of F-bombs) as he walked up to the door (yet another emotive reaction a game apparently pulled out of me). Between that and the fact that I have beaten my husband at games like that (or even Pinball, which is now on PS4—just so you know), which infuriates the avid gamer in him who has spent years crafting his game play and learning very specific button combinations, I am what he calls a “button masher.” And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why he calls me a “closet gamer,” because I can beat him but have not admitted to being a gamer that could. In the game of pool, he calls me a shark. Really, I am not all that great at billiards.

Despite games drawing out emotion, whether as a kid or a grown-up, we all know that it is play, or pretend and are still grounded in our own reality. A perfect example would be my youngest who, at the age of 2 or 3, had imaginary friends. Some of the things she would say or do made me a bit nervous, wondering if she really believed. One day I asked her a question about her friends and she gave me this very perplexed look as if to say “Mom! You know this isn’t real, right?” It was she who was checking my reality.

“Human beings are capable of understanding the difference between the playing activity and the non‐playing activity, and he describes that phenomenon as a theoretical paradox. Framing is Bateson’s term for the playing activity initiating ‘this is play….’” Karoff, H. S., Ejsing-Duun, S., & Hanghøj, T. (2013). Playing and Gaming – Studied in an Informal Learning Setting. Proceedings Of The European Conference On Games Based Learning, 261- 267.

Moods in life are produced through our participation in the world around us as in gameplay are expressed through the action of such play when the person participates in the pretend world. Through game play there are four moods: (1) devotion, most attributed to being in a state of “concentration and focus”; (2) intensity, most attributed to physical play and the feeling of “butterflies” or an adrenaline rush; (3) tension, “fight or flight” is attributed to taking action or “being ready to perform” in a game; and, (4) euphoria, most attributed to silliness and laughter and is considered to be the most “open minded” of all moods because it allows for continual change. Karoff, H. S., Ejsing-Duun, S., & Hanghøj, T. (2013). Playing and Gaming – Studied in an Informal Learning Setting. Proceedings Of The European Conference On Games Based Learning, 261- 267.

Whether watching my children play or engaging in some form of it myself, I can see how all four of those moods come into play, as well as know that while we are all engaged we all still know it isn’t real. I am curious, however, how this may shift once virtual reality becomes more advanced. I had read an article once, a long time ago (by whom I cannot recall), that talked about a study they conducted whereby the subjects felt actual physical pain in the real world while experiencing being stabbed in the virtual world. Once we have advanced to actual Holodecks, will the lines between real and fantasy or play be blurred?

And finally, while my choices of video games are vastly different from what my husband or son would choose (they prefer fantasy role play or first-person-shooter), I, unfortunately, must concede that, by technicality, my husband is correct—I am a closet gamer.


FORMERLY KNOWN AS…

Prince SymbolI wasn’t going to jump on the bandwagon that currently surrounds the death of Prince. But, everyone, especially here in Minnesota, seems to have a story to tell or something to say about it. I guess I do too, especially considering how shocked and saddened I was to hear the news.

I can’t say that I’ve ever been a super fan of Prince—I never owned any of his albums or went to his concerts, none of his music is in any of my playlists, I’ve never been to Paisley Park and I don’t feel as though he has influenced my musical taste, singing or writing style as an idol. However, I did go through a Prince phase as a kid where everything I owned had to be purple—those were the Purple Rain days. I was pretty young then, but I remember my mother allowing me to watch the movie, despite the “R” rating.

As time went on, I grew out of that phase and moved on to Madonna and then eventually into heavier and more alternative rock, but I was always familiar with Prince’s music and often knew the lyrics to many of his songs even though they were not in my personal rotation. And, I remember feeling proud that he hailed from my home state. It made the idea of being a successful musician, coming from the humble roots of Minneapolis nightclubs, seem more human, more attainable. It was the idea that a musician could develop a career here without permanently moving to West Coast and, I think, gave some validity to the depth of artistry we have in Minnesota. It is this thought that makes me realize that, despite the above, his music and artistry had a much farther reach and effect upon me than I ever fathomed.

Many Minnesotan’s have stories about hanging out with him or brushing into him in public, doing normal, everyday things. Prince sightings at local clubs were also quite common and the news often spread like wildfire among fans and through the local music scene (even if the musical genre was the complete opposite). I, too, have one of those stories. Mine begins January 18, 2013.

My husband and I went out to see B! at Dean’s Tavern. I stood two or three rows from the stage as they played and at some point, noticed an interesting looking man stand next to me. The rest of the crowd was in jeans and sweatshirts, some even wore bandanas on their heads—the look was more like a mashup between bikers and metalheads, yet here stood this guy, dressed to the nines (at least compared to everyone else). His wardrobe wasn’t overly flashy, but it was certainly appropriate for winter with a very fashionable sweater. A very tall, large man stood right behind him, moved when he moved and seemed to be keeping an eye on the anomaly standing shoulder-to-shoulder with me. I’m not even sure how exactly to describe it, but it just didn’t look like the typical exchange between friends standing next to or behind each other at a concert. He looked more like a bodyguard.

I looked back at my husband and gave him a subtle head nod to get his input on who he thought this dude standing next to me was. He leaned in and told me that it couldn’t possibly be Prince because he is shorter than me. However, I had given this man the once over and knew his shiny dress shoes had a bit of a heel on them. Since I had flats on, that would give him height over me and I’m only 5’ 5.” Again, I looked back at my husband to point this out and then surveyed the crowd to see if anyone else had taken notice. There were a few sideways glances but for the most part, everyone in that room gave him his space and left him alone.

I was surprised. If it was actually Prince, I would have expected people to mob him, but they didn’t—most everyone was focused on B! Halfway through a song, the man cut through the crowd to the front, reached up to the bassist and shook his hand. Then, as quickly as he appeared, he vanished.

I never did get a good, long, look at his face and so I can’t say for certain that it was really him. But I have to believe it was, because who else would get away with interrupting a musician in mid-song just to shake his hand? I later learned the bassist does, in fact, personally know Prince, so it made even more sense to me that it could have actually been him. I mean really, who would have the balls to interrupt a guitarist if they were just impersonating a celebrity?

The following day, between stories being swapped amongst friends and a few news outlets reporting that Prince had been sighted at some local venues that night, I heard he was apparently scouting for drummers (but, you know how the game of operator goes). Prince did, however, play the Dakota Jazz Club later that very same evening.

A few photographs did surface of that night with this man whom many dubbed as “Fake Prince,” claiming that it was not actually him and speculated that if he was scouting or even just checking out music for the heck of it, that he may have sent out look-alikes to throw off the press and avoid a mob so that he could just enjoy the show. But, again, you know how the game of operator is played. Regardless, it will forever remain the moment that I brushed shoulder-to-shoulder with Prince. I will never forget that night. Not ever!

The photo below is a picture my husband took of this elusive guy. The man with the hat is the guy that followed him around. I’m the blonde curls in the very corner edge of the pic. Sleep tight for me, I’m gone.

Prince at B


AM I EVIL? YES I AM!

4963863-darthvaderWhen I was taking my senior philosophy courses, I was disappointed by the lack of variety in subject matter (they offered a lot of ethics) and so I was able to construct my own independent study. Because I had already spent a lot of time studying the metaphysical, which includes the existence or non-existence of God, I chose to continue that inquiry into evil–seemed fitting.

While eyeballs deep into the independent study, my very first lesson was that I should have researched books more thoroughly and chosen better. I remember, after reading through several chapters, flipping the book over a number of times to see what the writers’ credentials were to have written such material. Frankly, the book was probably made for younger students who need fictional characters to envision the concept–it mostly annoyed me. Not that I mind discussing Darth Vader or breaking down the intricate nuances of other beloved fictional characters, it was just utilized too much (in my opinion, which you’ll see bled into the writing as you read).

So, without further ado, in continuation of my previous post, God, Evil & Morality, click on the below link to view the meditation of what evil is in conjunction with a Darth Vader character analysis.

What is Evil

Disclaimer: I’m not very political; however, the attached document does broach that topic slightly with what was going on at the time when it was written (approximately 2011). That being said, it does not, by any means, convey my political stance or beliefs regarding the rebels or the Dark Side in any real or metaphoric realm. Well, except for the part about Wall Street. Maybe. 


NO GOOD DEEDS

smoke-69124_1280I wrote an episode for a web series called No Good Deeds. Because the shows that were produced are owned by the school (student created) I cannot post the pilot episode for viewing here. But because one needs to have seen the first episode to pick up on some of the humor and serial elements of the story, I will provide a synopsis for you.

Roy is in his late 20s, but is a bit nervous and awkward, always feeling as though his gestures are not good enough, especially for his father (Ernest). In the first episode, Roy visits his dad in the hospital. He quickly realizes that a little plastic figurine of a flower he brings in is not as good as what he sees others bring for their loved ones. Immediately he is  embarrassed.

When Ernest awakes he is in a state of panic and tells Roy that he doesn’t want the hospital to put him on life support and that it is Roy’s duty to make sure he isn’t. Roy is confused and surprised by this, considering there should be no reason such extreme consequences should happen over a routine colonoscopy. Ernest then tells Roy that he should do something with his life, other than playing with his video game gadgets, that will do some good in the world and then sends him to get coffee.

In the waiting room, as Roy pours coffee, he sees a young woman crying. She dumps her bouquet of lilies in the trash. Since she no longer seems to have a use for them, he decides that he will pluck them out–a much better gift than what he originally brought. He places them on the bedside table, next to his snoozing father, and returns to get the coffee.

Unfortunately, when Roy returns, his father has been placed on life support. The doctor isn’t much help in explaining how this could have happened given he just had a routine procedure. When the doctor leaves the room, Roy remembers his father told him that he didn’t want to be on life support. Roy finds the source for the machine and unplugs it from the wall. Shortly after his father flatlines the doctor returns, with a needle in her hand, exclaiming that it was only an allergic reaction–Ernest is allergic to the lilies.

Ernest, now a ghost, follows his son around. No one else can see or hear him. Ernest tries to encourage (guilt-trip) his son into keeping his promise of doing good deeds. Unfortunately, no good deed goes unpunished (as the saying goes).

Here is my episode, “No Good Deeds, All Soaked Up.”

 

 


GOD, EVIL & MORALITY

skull-960983_1280Now that we’ve gotten the three requirements that define God out of the way we will explore evil. But, before we go too deep, I’m going to leave you with an overview of The Argument from Evil and then discuss morality because we need to understand morality and how it relates to God and evil to determine if they are separate from each other and/or from God first.

Evil is not as easy to define as we humans would like to think. Hell, we like to think we know more than we do and want things to be one or the other. Unfortunately, there are a lot of grey areas. Analytical philosophy would look at everything that we would consider evil and put it into a circle to flesh out an ultimate definition (which is much harder than it seems)–this is not that. If anything, it just draws out more questions to consider. Actually, it makes pretty interesting dinner table conversation–especially if you have children (they have an interesting insight that can often question and discuss without judgment and gives the parents a view into how they think, typically more deeply than we give them credit for).

That being said, however, a Jesuit priest once conversed with me on the subject of evil and the difficulty of defining it–he gave me some perspective. He said evil is that thing so unimaginable one can barely speak of it. I can see his point; however, I do believe the threshold for some is higher than for others.

So, click on the link below. And, as always, sleep tight for me.

God, Evil & Morality

Don’t forget, I have a fictional short story that explores some of the concepts I discuss on this blog. You can find Meet Mr. G on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Goodreads and even iBooks.