I just got back from Seattle this morning, I was there over the weekend to speak with the subject of the doc and I totally got his story all wrong.
You'll have to cut me some slack though, because I was only told once, briefly, about 3 or 4 years ago, and in that time I've made some reasonable (though wrong) assumptions.
So anyway, he was not a part of the original Marauder force, he was part of the reinforcements brought in for the final battle at Myitkyina. From there he did not go on to Europe (I thought I had that wrong, though I wasn't sure), he went on to China as part of a group called the Mars Task Force. They got out of there when the (I'll have to look up the number) Chinese army group near them turned communist and suddenly weren't pals anymore.
It's not the story I thought he was going to tell, but it's just as interesting and just as important, I think.
I'll fix the long post tomorrow or so, and give some more info, but today I'm just too tired. I do want to describe something quickly though.
He and his wife are both very excited about doing this, he's got a lot of ideas I welcome. But, he's a little unsure about my ability (I'm guessing), and so am I frankly. We talked about how narrow and constrained the film is going to be in the sense that I don't have the means to make it any bigger than just him (like interview other survivors, etc.). It's difficult to describe to someone who hasn't made a movie what it takes to make a movie, and why, when you're working at such a small level, you're all on your own. He asked me if I had tried to talk to PBS about funding and I told him, basically, that things don't work that way, not for people like me working at this level.
But really, what it comes down to, is nobody cares. I didn't say that, but it's true. I'm not talking about the inability of this blog to raise money, I'm talking in general. I don't know, it really depresses me to think about it. Not the not caring part, the "what if I fuck up" part. I've decided I'm going to do this no matter what, so I've committed to the few thousand it's going to take up, but I'm very concerned that it'll turn out a piece of crap. It'll look bad, sound bad, be edited bad... making my own silly comedy fliks is one thing, sure, it sucks if they turn out poorly, but this time I have a responsibility to make something decent, but #1) I'm still learning, and #2) I'm on my own.
No one with any experience is going to volunteer to help me with any of this and I'm not going to make another dime from the donations... I dunno, just a little tired right now I guess. posted by Tim
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
Ted Barlow linked to my documentary request and I am very, very grateful. If he ever needs... uh... something I can provide, I've got his back.
Hopefully a ball will now begin rolling.
FYI- The amazon donations box is not yet working. If anyone actually does try to donate in any manner and has problems, send me an email. [ Update- Amazon donations should be working now. Everything is generic on it and my nickname is "Timman", FYI.]
[Also, I want to point out this donation drive doesn't have anything to do with my blog. That is, I know my blog isn't worth a plug nickel, so I don't expect anyone to donate because of the fabulousness of my blog. I'm just hoping some people will see some worth in the project. It ain't working. Maybe I'll try emailing a few other blogs again.]
I didn't really expect anything but I did hope for... well, not much really, but something, and now I realize even "something" was unrealistic. I figured at least one blog I emailed would mention it but... well, there you go.
I was always prepared to face the prospect of zero donations from the blog, but what I was not prepared for was zero support, as in at the very least a moderate amount of interest. It's actually a little disheartening, it's just that I really thought some people would see some worth in the project and... well that's it, really. Also, for some reason my Amazon donations page was denied. If you want to donate, please do via Paypal.
I mentioned a few weeks ago my intent to make a documentary about a family friend’s WW2 experiences, and my hope that maybe it could be funded to some extent via this blog.
This is my official solicitation, and here, at my “overflow” site, you’ll find a complete explanation of the project.
update- I had the subject's story mixed up, Bob fought with Merrill's Marauders in Burma, but only for the last mission. They were an all-volunteer group that conducted long-range penetration missions behind enemy lines in the jungles of Burma. After the final mission, he went on to fight in Burma and China with a group called the Mars Task Force. He entered the army at 18 and came home 2 1/2 years later. Since then he's lived a big life, the sort that his generation seemed to be able to do so effortlessly. He's lived history, and I don't want it to all be lost when he dies.
I knew Bob, the subject of the film, when I was a little kid. I was little so I just knew he was a good guy who was fun and understanding that I was a shy little kid who didn’t like to be forced through adult protocol, like shaking hands and saying “nice to meet you”. I didn’t know anything about his WW2 experiences till about 4 years ago, right around the time I was finishing my first movie Ghosthunter! (a silly comedy). My family was visiting him and he briefly told us about Merrill’s Marauders and it just floored me. I got the idea to film him from that meeting, but I was flat broke, and a little while after that moved from Seattle (where he lives) to Los Angeles. I thought I still might be able to do it while in LA, but it wasn’t to be, it was just too far and too expensive. I sort of gave up on it.
It’s always been in the back of my mind though, and there has always been this low-level calculation going on of when and how I might be able to do it. But it just seemed impossible and, this is the worst part, I honestly kept expecting Bob to pass on; he’s been fighting cancer for 12 years now.
I only got the idea to fund it via this blog a few months ago after a blogger who was traveling to… I forget, had some complications and needed to pay more for travel arrangements. He was a journalist (I think), so Atrios, and a few other blogs, linked to his asking for donations so he could go on his trip as planned. I didn’t suddenly get the idea right then, rather, this film idea, which has been in the back of my mind, popped up again, and the traveler’s story gave me a little bit of hope. It made me think I might have a shot because blogging forms a sort of community. If I could appeal to that community, maybe they’d be willing to help me.
I would really appreciate your help.
It’s a long post, but if you’re curious, or thinking of donating, please read on.
[ (edited) This is my last post for a while, so I'll just mention here how much it sucks when good people die. Mr. Rogers, June Carter Cash, Gregory Peck, David Brinkley... not looking forward to June's husband. Doesn't it seem all the sudden? ]
[ edited thrice 6/13/03 for length and clarity - edited again 7/6/03 ]
In his new book, "Seen and Heard: America's Youngest Pundit Tackles the Lies and Truths of Politics and Culture," Williams takes on such controversial issues as education and home schooling, gay rights, abortion, and separation of church and state.
Woodruff: You're very tough on public education, on the federal government, on the news media. And you talk about how the baby boomers, generation X have really let your generation down. What have we done so wrong?
Williams: Well, I guess it's not really doing -- the thing that I'm talking about specifically was probably the World War II generation. And you know they're dubbed as the "greatest generation". And they did do their job in World War I and World War II in raising families, but what I think one of the biggest threats to our nation is really socialism and degrading government. And I think that's something that I guess they really don't look at as a priority and that's something that needs to be dealt with.
I must say, he's as intelligent and literate as any of conservative pop-pundits working today.
"Smoking Monkey" is the title I give to any of these kind of kids. Kids who at the age of 6 or 10 or 14 or whatever, who have already decided upon a strictly codified world-view, and who feel it necessary to broadcast and proselytize their beliefs however they can.
You see them pop up every once in a while and they're usually home-schooled, usually conservative. I can remember seeing a piece on TV about a 6 or 7 year old kid who spent his free time preaching the bible on the corner of streets. I recall an article from Newsweek during the Clinton administration about a kid, 11 or so, that… you know I don't remember what he was in there for, but he was saying things like "Bill Clinton is a criminal and a murderer who sold out our country. That's what my dad says." I remember it because the kid was being profiled as this rabid conservative, and only 11 years old! Yet everything he said was "my dad tells me". His dad was an unemployed community college professor, if I recall.
I call them "Smoking Monkeys" because if you want to you can make a kid think whatever you want him to think.
Let me rephrase that: If you want to rob a child of his or her childhood, if you want to program rather than raise, and if you want to be a disgustingly vindictive, obsessive, self-absorbed, intolerant freak and use your child as vessel for all the impotent rage and hatred you have stored up for your failings as an individual- rather than let them grow up more-or-less their own person- you can make a kid think whatever you want him to think.
They're like a Smoking Monkey (or to be more accurate, chimp). The smoking monkey at the old-time circus can actually like to smoke. It can enjoy the flavor and process and even beg to smoke it loves it so much, but that doesn't mean it knows what it's doing or how it got there. The evil Ringmaster Barnaby taught it to smoke, and forced it to smoke, and created the monkey's love of and addiction to smoking in order to sell tickets and make money so Mrs. Ringmaster Barnaby would get off his back about adding another bathroom to their evil house. Just because the monkey likes to smoke now doesn't mean it chose that love, that it's a vegetable love (dumb shout-out to a funky line in an old poem. Totally unrelated to the subject at hand.).
I'm going to go out on a limb and assume his parents are vindictive, paranoid Delusionists.
I feel sorry for that kid. No home-schooled 14 year old arrives at the sort of conclusions I feel we can assume he's arrived at, on his own. Of course it all makes the most sense to him now, he's already been programmed.
"We will make no concessions to terror," Sharon told his Cabinet, according to a government official. "We made this clear to all the White House officials and to the Palestinians before the Aqaba summit."
Again and again, "security" must come before negotiations. It's an excuse, and a damn lousy one. Arafat being corrupt and surrounded by cronies? That is (was) a real problem in terms of negotiating treaties because Arafat represents (did) one side of the parties. PLO ties to militant organizations? Again, real problem that surely must be on the table. But every fanatic who blows himself up? No. Not in terms of negotiation peace between two political bodies.
Many people see zero militant violence as a necessary starting point to negotiations, because to negotiate in spite of violence would indicate the violence is somehow acceptable. This of course completely ignores the cyclical nature of all this violence. Israel fires rockets into some car or building, Hamas blows up a bus, Israel fires rockets into some more things, Hamas blows some more people up. It's quite possible it may never stop (though most right-wingers conveniently forget that violence has stopped, for years at a time, and still no progress made). So, to take the view that the starting point must be zero violence is to accept the possibility of endless violence. After all, as long as there are no negotiations and no peace there will be violence.
What's the lesson here? Terrorism trumps all.
Isn't that exactly what one wants to avoid when dealing with terrorists? That's why it's basic policy to not negotiate with terrorists, otherwise anyone willing to become a terrorist can force policy, right? So what to do? Easy, don't give terrorists a seat at the table.
Negotiate anyway. Remove base terrorist action from the equation. If terrorism is not allowed to trump policy and initiative, it loses its power. If a treaty is being hammered out and a terrorist blows some kids up, rather than empower the now-dead terrorist, or the group he was affiliated with, by allowing the act to shape the policy, leave that to the policing forces to deal with. It sounds heartless in a way, as if the lives of the kids don't matter, but that's only because we've become accustomed to equating the acts of Palestinian terrorists to the character and worth of Palestinian people. As contrast, did we ever think the Irish to be heathen scum, unworthy of consideration, because of the IRA?
What's at stake here is the future of two different peoples, Jews and Palestinians, and by letting those destinies be determined by the ebb and flow of brutish violence the keys to that future have been handed over to any asshole who straps a bomb around his waist.
Can you hear it coming? Like a distant sound, barely audible, signaling the approach of something ominous, like bowel cancer?
Can you feel it? A nub, an inconsistency, a slight spot under your skin; you know there's something there, you know you can't stop it from growing, you know it's going to protrude, and split, and burst, and be horrible, but it's out of your hands?
"The first one just sucked, this time it's an offence."
Speaking of crappy movies…
The Matrix 2- Kung-Fu Music Video, pretty much sucked. Could have cut all the fight scenes in half and taken a couple of them out completely. It was so silly, they'd get ready for a fight and the Matrix Techno Dance music would come on and they'd fight for like 20 minutes. It was little more than a showcase for kung-fu dance sequences.
But, I love "big idea" sci-fi stories, and the story, however marginal, is still there. I'll probably see it again just to process everything "the Architect" guy says. The ideas the crappy movie is built upon are very interesting: the whole thing is cyclical, being machines they've got the human harvesting down to mathematics so they can even predict "The One" and incorporate this mathematical inevitability into their system. The whole system is 5,000 years old or so. Neo is just a predictable anomaly and all the frou-frou we've seen is, for all intents and purposes, scripted; the only people in on it is the Architect and the Oracle. Apparently. So, the only questions are whether or not there is something different about Keanu Reeve's "One" (apart from being undoubtedly the worst actor of the bunch), if the cycle can be broken, and if anything that's happened so far is not the product of some sort of bizarre script designed to deal with the inevitability of "the One".
The problem is I never have time to write. Well, enough time in order to organize all my thoughts into a succinct piece, that is. When I have time I'm much better, though still long-winded, because I hate to leave anything relevant to the argument out, which means I must describe the nature of the cosmos every time I put finger to keyboard.
I bring this up to prepare you. The film I wish to make is going to go forward. I've heard back from the subject and, health willing, he's onboard. I've mentioned I can only do this with outside assistance and am going to try to raise money through this blog (among other things).
Right now I don't have internet access at home and won't for another week or so, but as soon as I do the plea will be posted.
It's gonna be long.
I hope anyone interested will take time to read it (or don't read it and just donate, that's totally cool with me) and not damn my name for all eternity because the post is long.