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Don’t Drop The Ball

Posted on by Scott Caseley

I, for one have never liked the idea of a ball dropping being the symbol of a year coming to an end and a new one dawning. It just runs counterintuitive to my very nature. Why celebrate the passage of time with dropping the ball? Shouldn’t we hoist something into the air to mark another year striving toward ascension of some sort instead?

On New Year’s Day, I went to see “Interstellar”, the film by Christopher Nolan whose career I have followed since well “Following”, his debut back in 1999. He was an inspiration to me, since we completed our first features around the same time. Both of our inaugural projects were experimental, however, his unlike mine was quite successful and led to the movie that became his breakthrough, “Memento”. Both films dealt with the issue of time, a recurrent theme that flows through all of his work to one degree or another.

“Interstellar”, though, that really hooked me. I have seen thousands upon thousands of films in my life. Sadly, I have become so skeptical about finding one to escape into. Only a small handful has moved me in my adult life. I’ve become very particular, and I hold films to a very high standard. Everything from the acting to the direction and everything in between has to reach an echelon of greatness for me to thoroughly enjoy my movie going experience.

While, “The Empire Strikes Back” was the movie that made me want to become a filmmaker, I did not have a singular film that stood out to me as “The Best Film I Have Ever Seen” throughout childhood. Then, at sixteen, that all changed. My dad, my constant cinematic experience companion and I watched, “Citizen Kane”. Right away, the storyline, the deep focus cinematography, the acting, mise en scene, etc., just convinced me, I need to stop dreaming this, and I need to do this. Then, when I found out he was 25 when he did the writing, directing along with starring in it, I said, “I will do my first film as a young man too.”

Many, many years later, I have been very fortunate to realize that dream of becoming a film director. And, I have tried to encourage others to follow their passions too. I want to help others to see that dreams are attainable as mine were. They don’t have to be large, they can be any size you want them to be, you just need to feel like you can do it and go for it. Cynicism can overtake us, it can make us feel like we’re destined to never reach above mediocrity, and sometimes an escape from the day to day life is what is needed to bring about the optimism again.

“Interstellar” has a core theme that books, knowledge, and love all become what can truly save us and help us to achieve the impossible. These three things are of high importance to me. And, the crucial thing to realize is that it takes all different kinds of books, knowledge, and love to save us. This theme and the execution of it really awakened in me so much appreciation for film again, and the power it can wield if done properly. Nolan and his team all operated on full thrusters, yes, I had to use a space travel pun. For all of the 166 minutes, my eyes were glued to the screen and my ears to the speakers. I have seen Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, and Jessica Chastain in many projects over the years, but I totally allowed myself to forget that that was whom I was watching. Instead, their characters took over. And, when that happened, my childlike wonder joined them on the screen. Now, I’m inspired again. I’m ready to do a new challenge, and take my goals to the next level. Don’t know what that means yet, but, hey, it’s only January 2nd, the year has only just begun . . . I will just toss a few balls into the air and see how far each ascends.

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Being in a Vacuum Really Sucks

Posted on by Scott Caseley

Writing can be many things, engaging, educational, fun, but the one thing that no one ever seems to say the biggest thing that it is more often than not; isolating. To tell a story right takes a lot of skill, determination, discipline, and sometimes sequestration. A fellow author and I were discussing this recently about what this process is like and how while friends and family are off catching the latest movie, watching a game on television, going away somewhere, we’re inside our homes typing away adventures for our characters.

“Did I catch the game last night?” I am often asked as I walk into the locker room at the gym. Sometimes, I don’t even know what month it is, my mind so heavy with thoughts of drama, romance, or mystery of the fiction kind.

“Who were the Sox playing?” I’ll ask, and I’ll get a stare down like I’m on drugs or something.

“Um… the Pats game. The Sox don’t play again till April. It’s February 18th.”

“Oh, right,” I’ll say and they’ll go on about the game, but my mind will be off wandering back to my fictitious world. It’s nothing personal, but when I get so caught up in the writing of a first draft, or deep into a revision period, it’s all my mind seems to be on. Escape from my own mind becomes a necessity.

Social media can be a great way to see what my friends and family are up to, for brief intervals, but if I truly want to break free of my writing for a bit, I call or text them and see if they want to get together and do something. Even though I often like to call the shots on what to do during non-writing periods, I know sometimes it’s best if I just let them decide.

My friends and family are all very different from each other and like to do a variety of things. It’s great to have a varied selection, because whatever mood my writing has put me in, there’s a ton of options that can take me away from myself.

One of my favorite things to do is called Alert Aerobics. My best friend and I go on these walks throughout a mall, carrying coffees, and laughing constantly. However I will admit that the writing side of me isn’t gone completely during these strolls, as sometimes a snippet from a conversation overheard from other mall patrons will find itself in my story somehow.

Since the age of four, my dad has always encouraged me to have an appreciation for history. By the time I was five, I could recite all the United States Presidents in order, and all of the state capitals, plus many international capitals and leaders as well. As I got older, we started to go on historical trips across the eastern part of the United States. Visits to many Civil War battlefields, Mont Vernon, Monticello, and the Baseball Hall of Fame are amongst the many incredible places we have been. However, learning about these amazing individuals still inspire me to create more depth in my characters.

One other thing that my friends or family and I like to do together is go out to eat. Some of them are foodies; some of them just like good conversation over shared meals. It is at these outings that we really bond and commiserate over events happy and sad. People always seem to have a layer of honesty and good will when they have some cuisine in front of them that they really enjoy. But, still even this isn’t an entire escape, because a mannerism, a joke heard, or a reaction to something could find its way into my pages.

No matter what I do, whether I’m on my own, or I’m with those that I care about, I’m always a writer. My mind is always absorbing from the experiences I have, the people I am with, and the things I learn in solitude or in good company. Sometimes being alone with my thoughts is great, but times with loved ones is gravy. And, that gravy can be the missing ingredient that my writing needs to become a feast for a future reader.

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Going Nowhere But Forward

Posted on by Scott Caseley

When my surgeon told me after my second hernia surgery that to avoid further operations, I had to lose 50 pounds, I countered with 75. And, I knew I had to make good on it. He recommended I find a dietitian to help get the journey underway.

“You’re going to want to get your heart rate up, and burn 500 calories a day, seven days a week,” was the advice given to start changing my life and be healthy once again. I set up a plan to start using a treadmill to begin the exercise regimen. I had one in my house, but I decided that going to a gym would help keep me accountable, and maybe eventually I could make some friends to work out with. I researched and toured a number of sports clubs in the area, and found the ideal one less than five miles from my house. I was so pumped, I felt ready to take on my gut and show it who was boss, but then… when I drove to the gym, my anxiety set in. However, I did follow the dietitian’s first bit of advice, albeit inadvertently…

My heart rate increased when I sat in my car in the parking lot. Though, the gym seemed like a good fit from the tour I was given, and the amenities offered, I still had anxieties about actually going inside to exercise. I was uncertain of what kind of people I would encounter, and feared that it would be all individuals who looked like they never had an ounce of extra weight to contend with. Despite my trepidations, I got out of my car, and headed toward the entrance.

It was just after dinnertime, and I had no idea if that meant there would be more or less people. I scanned my membership card at the front desk and since I was already dressed in my workout clothes, I went straight downstairs to the cardio room. Before me was a large array of treadmills, ellipticals and various other machines. I had that number “75” in my head, and I knew it was time to start cracking.

Stepping onto the treadmill, I thought about the second part recommendation from the dietitian, repeating to myself, “Burn 500 calories, 7 days a week… “ I had no idea how long one needed to walk on the machine to reach that goal, or what speed to choose. Selecting an hour-long workout, I hoped for the best. There was a mini television set attached to the front and I wished I knew to bring my headphones so I could watch something to escape my nerves for the hour.

A guy entered the room that was from head to toe solid muscle. I thought I was going to feel intimidated, but a surprising feeling came over me, determination. I said to myself, “I’m going to get there someday. Not tomorrow, not next year, but I will get there eventually.” I pressed the start button on the treadmill and took my first step. I kept going to the gym for the treadmill solely for a couple months, and I slowly started to see a change in my body. While my belly wasn’t shrinking yet, every once in a while, I felt ready to raise the speed and incline levels. It was a mountain I was climbing, and I was not going to look back at how far I had come until I reached the top. There was cloud cover over the summit, but I knew it was there waiting for me. I just had to believe in myself, and then I would be able to achieve it.

People often said to me, “I don’t see the point of a treadmill, you’re not really going anywhere.” Well, I respectfully disagree. Four and a half years since I first got on one at the gym, I’m still a member, and I have lost 71 pounds, gained numerous friends, and had the experience of a lifetime venturing out of that cardio room, and enrolling in numerous classes. Those adventures and more will be detailed in future blog entries, but just wanted to share this first step with you for now. And, hopefully, maybe, just maybe, someone reading this will get on a treadmill and feel like they are capable and ready to get going somewhere too.

 

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The Detective and The Jock – Part I

Posted on by Scott Caseley

The Detective and The Jock

Part I

He stood outside the residence for an hour or so before going in. The house itself cried out for salvation with its purple shudders and green tic-tac-toe patterns painted “artfully” onto them. But, it wasn’t the house he was there to save. The great detective who received numerous accolades from clients and law enforcement alike over several years had a special case beyond those walls. It was to be something even he had never encountered before. No matter though, nothing was beyond his intellectual capacity, he would tell you. That is, if he even deemed you worthy enough to speak to.

 

“Well, what do we have here?” the detective asked peering over his horn-rimmed glasses when he strolled into the living room through the screen door startling a young man of about 30 sitting in his recliner. His voice oozed with pretention and perfect articulation as he studied the man’s belly resting over his jeans. With every rise and fall, he formed a new opinion of the slovenly individual. The pitiable guy didn’t know how to react, and remained stoic until the dick, short for detective mind you, there is no need to be profane in this piece, stood between him and his television set.

“Can I help you?” he asked the boorish man who kept looking at him like a bullfrog to be dissected.

“Forgive me, but in your state, there’s little to nothing you can do for me.”

Trying to mask the contempt for the detective’s actions he witnessed from the porch, a man in athletic gear entered the apartment through the screen door. “You about finished?” he asked the gumshoe.

“Finished? I beg your pardon. I’ve only begun my investigation,” the sleuth scoffed looking over at the poor sap that was slinking lower into the recliner, his eyes pleading the jock for help.

“The lady of the house called me this morning, and thought that this was a two person job. So, I’m here to offer my services.”

“And, what exactly do you do?”

“I’m not here for an interview, I’m here to aid our client.” With this pronouncement, the disheveled man breathed his first sigh of relief since either of the strangers entered his home. Though he did not know the business upon which brought them there, he already trusted the jock as much as he loathed the dick.

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