Tuesday, September 26, 2006


I don't follow astrology, but damned if I'm not stuck in the whole "Mercury in Retrograde" phenomenon. Here's the bad luck, especially as it pertains to communications:

- my phone/palm treo 650 suddenly and catastrophically failed last week
- the new phone/palm treo 700p that I got to replace my busted old one would sync but not transfer any data from my computer to the phone, then it refused to connect to the internet
- my laptop (which took a spill a few months ago and has been hinky ever since) was finally diagnosed today as a goner
- worse still, the daily data backups I've been making were found to by corrupted (a lifetime of scripts down the drain!)
- my laser printer (which somehow broke a part while standing still) will only print from the upper tray (and only when it feels like it), and not the fancy large capacity tray for which I bought the darn thing in the first place
- I caught a cold from my beloved nephew this weekend while celebrating Rosh Hashanah with the family (and my gf got it, too)

OK, so that last one is more about communicable diseases than communications, but you get the drift. The last time I was socked with electronics whammies, my laptop, palm and ipod and my bosses's laptop and palm got fried. Not a very good precedent.

The one bright spot in all this computer conflagration is that I had the absolute nicest, most helpful, genuinely caring customer service everywhere I turned today. And this is from some notoriously bad tech help sources, like Verizon Wireless. I tell you, I am still flabergasted at how kind and thorough these folks were from Apple, Palm, Veizon Wireless, Tekserve and Asurion. I'm pissed as heck about the failure of my devices, but I can only imagine how ballistic I'd be if the companies I called had been their usual nasty and inadequate selves.

The upshot?

- My new phone works and has all the data synced properly now (which is good, since my laptop is toast).
- All the backed-up data from my laptop MAY be salvageable.
- I have paper copies of all my scripts (except the specs I've been slaving away on for the past 2 months)
- I'll probably get a new laptop, but in the mean time am using an old "just in case" G4 Cube I keep around just for this purpose.
- I can print to my inkjet printer until I get my laser printer fixed or replaced.
- Colds only last 7 days.
- I'm alive and loved.

Now, can someone please tell me when it's safe to come out of my apartment with electronics again?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Last night I got an email from Nathanial Kahn, director of a new short about the remarkable Leon Fleisher. I served as line producer for this gem, shot in my hometown of Baltimore, MD about 1 year ago. Nathaniel's email said that the film is done - transfered onto 35mm, even! I can't wait to see the finished product. It prompted me to go back and look at my behind-the-scenes pictures and video that I shot. Check out the footage from our last day of shooting at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra below.

(it seems jerky on YouTube - you can also see it here)

Look for "Two Hands" at a prestigious film festival soon (hopefully)! I'm very proud to have worked with Nathaniel, a great crew and the amazing Mr. Fleisher.

Buy Nathaniel's family masterpiece "My Architect."

Buy Leon Fleisher's triumphant return to 2-handed piano recording, "Two Hands."

Monday, September 18, 2006

Mainstream-land and Queer-country

Angela Robinson, Photo from AfterEllen.com

Props to Sarah Warn and the folks over at AfterEllen.com for giving lesbian-pop-culture-filmmaker Angela Robinson a monthly column. For her inaugural column, Angela describes sitting on Frameline's Persistent Vision panel “Where's Our Dykeback Mountain?"(I SOOO wanted to attend PV this summer, but spent my West Coast excursion at the OutFest Screenwriters Lab instead.) Lucky for us all, Frameline has posted MP3's of the panels online. My baby, the NewFest Filmmakers Forum doesn't have the cash to record our annual entertaining and informative panels. But I digress...)

Angela basically says crossover of lesbian films would be great, but they're unlikely and unneccessary, 'cause we can just make targeted media for the lesbian audience and deliver directly to them. I heartily agree, as I sit here writing mainstream (read: not queer) spec scripts while simultaneously doing a rewrite of "To Do:" (read: lesbianic).

Does this sentiment sound familiar? A little history lesson, here, folks: Dyke TV, broadcasting on public access cable since 1993. Their mission: "To arm the global queer community with the tools to produce media to incite political change, subvert mainstream hetero-normativity, provoke action, and to organize a counter mainstream media movement." In other words, make our own damn TV about us, for us. After taking a final cut pro class there taught by Erin Greenwell (who is all about "make it yourself - I'll show you how!"), I made a movie myself aiming for the lesbian bullseye that hit its mark. At film festival screening's Q&A's I always say "If you don't see yourself reflected onscreen, then get off your tushy and make it!"

Of course, it's really hard to make a living doing what you love, especially if it's all queer, all the time. I know a few lucky souls who are pulling it off, but the rest of us are scraping by via other means or creating the LGBT media reality out of thin air for ourselves (Mike Wilke of Commercial Closet, Sarah Warn of AfterEllen, Ellen Huang of Queer Lounge, Lisa Codikow of Power-Up, Jen Howd & John Baez of Punkmouse). Some seem to have made it big in gay gay gay tv & film, like Julie Goldman in Logo's upcoming sketch comedy series "The Big Gay Show," and several LGBT film festival hits; But it's not exactly adding up to a luxury lifestyle. (I think Julie should be heralded as the new queen of comedy with her own show and millions of bucks, and I should write that show with her and have equal compensation.)

Angela's and Erin's and my insistence that we don't need "the Man" to make media by, for and about our own community is true, optimistic and totally impractical, but not impossible. What did Angela make after the feature-length "D.E.B.S." (for Sony, no less)? "Herbie: Fully Loaded" (for Disney). She IS the crossover, not her work. Angela Robinson works on "The L Word" AND makes mainstream movies AND makes a decent living to boot. She proves that you can exist in the whole entertainment world, without segregating yourself to one or the other. Some folks live in a gay ghetto and prefer it that way. I live in both mainstream-land and queer-country, and hope to work in both without having to get a visa or surrender my passport to either side. Oh, and make a living at it, too.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


"Imagination is only a posh word for guesswork."
- David Hare

stuff happens
photo from The Public Theater

This gem was uttered by the playwright after the free reading of his play "Stuff Happens" in Central Park earlier this month. Curious audience members wanted to know how he filled in the behind-closed-doors-blanks of the historical record of the road to war in Iraq that the play chronicles. He prefaced his answer by listing all the research that went into the crafting of "Stuff Happens," and then said that he just used his imagination. An appalling answer to some, and a delightful response to me.

Unlike recent topical works (Guantánamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom, The Exonerated) which are more documentary than drama, this play takes dramatic license unabashedly to new heights. What did Colin Powell really say to President Bush before testifying in front of the U.N. about evidence of weapons of mass destruction? Was it as juicy as David Hare has imagined for our theatrical pleasure? I don't care about the reality of it - I care that one of the world's top playwrights took a creative leap for my entertainment. Art can be more truthful than journalism, because it reveals emotional truths. And theatre and film illuminate such truths better than any other medium.

photo from NBC

As I sit here imagining terrible crimes with ingenious plot twists for my Law & Order: SVU spec script, I'm thankful that my "crimes" are just made up, and horrified that I can dream up such inhumane scenarios. I know that people actually commit far worse acts upon their fellow man, and my scribblings are just posh guesswork of the most grisly kind.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Family Resemblance

Elaine & SolEmily & Leo
Aunt Elaine & my father as kids AND another big sister and brother goofing around 2 generations later - Emily & Leo

I've been sifting through old family photos and scannning them for posterity. I'm suppossed to have been doing this for years, now, but something more urgent always intrudes on documenting my vast family tree. I only got this last batch done because there was a deadline: my Aunt Elaine's Oregon memorial service this past weekend. I didn't attend, but my parents did, and my mother read my Blog Entry tribute to her in my stead as some of the scanned photos flashed behind.

Elaine BorkoJudy Snyder
Who's the Mom? Both. My Mother as a kid, and my sister as a kid.

I find myself most drawn to images of my father as a child. We've only seen a few choice photos of his youth over the years, but the latest batch my Aunt Carolyn mailed to me was a treasure trove of goofball and formal poses of all my aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents - even a few of my sister & I. It never stops to amaze me when I see the same eyes staring back from an antique picture and a modern shot of my nieces and nephew.

Dasha in collegeAbigail in the old house
The Tanta (years before Abigail's birth) and her vivacious first niece

Do our bodies naturally find the same poses, our faces contort into the same genetic smiles, our familial spirits steal out of the eyes? I know that I hold my chin in my hand identically to my father, and I see the same gestures in my cousins - so it's a trait with deeper roots than my immediate blood, but perhaps a learned/observed behaviour passed on in practice rather than a double helix.

I know that many an ill-health gene made it down the family line, too many to count, unfortunately - and some I hope that never make it, too. I've had more than my fair share of illness, but I just assume that the gene for Endometriosis probably sits on the same chromosome as the gene for screenwriting. They're DNA neighbors for better or worse. I believe that holds true for all my creative, health-hobbled relatives. Breast cancer must be next to the drawing gene in my Aunt Elaine. Bad-back/slipped disk disease snuggled-up next to the designing experiments gene in my father. And on and on. My only hope is that fewer medically disastrous genes make their way to the next generation. So that my nieces and nephew are left with only the spark of creation and the good health to stoke its flames - and that same smile passed down from Snyder & Borko to Kastenberg and beyond.