Sunday, April 28, 2013

Other people's stories - Tales of: Living in the moment

<< crossposted on the '30HomeGames' blog

On my return to Germany, I had a thought-provoking stay CouchSurfing in Düsseldorf. My host, 'German P*' was an avid poker player and Philosophy student with an impressive collection of books. Some I owned and some I'd been reading. Most interesting was the literature he had on Zen, it informed his Poker play and extended to his approach to life. As I've been on a mission to have a basketball experience around Europe, I was naturally drawn to his copy of 'Sacred Hoops'. A book by basketball Living Legend and famed Zen Master Phil Jackson, best known for coaching two of the greatest competitors and champions in Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

When in motion I prefer not to use a map. I enjoy feeling my way through, come what may. On the occasion I've had a running mate, I've found myself annoyed when they've depended heavily on GPS navigation and maps even though I know its entirely well meaning. You could say its a pet peeve. I've often wondered why it aggravated me so, this passage from Jackson's book shed some light:
I find it amusing when people ask me where I get my ideas for motivating players. The answer is: in the moment. My approach to problem-solving is the same as my approach to the game. When a problem arises, I try to read the situation as accurately as possible and respond simultaneously to whatever's happening
I realised I enjoy being in the moment, to be tested by it. I learnt several things during my stay with P*. With his perspective as a poker player and student, we had many discussions on the subject of gambling, life and the way we think (human behaviour and personal beliefs). What I came to appreciate was the importance of "living in the moment", particularly poignant as the year closes and my journey wraps up. Not only to look back and reflect but to also feel "present" inspite of the complacency and distraction that can overwhelm during eventful times.

With that I present to you this edition of Other People's Stories - Tales of: living in the moment:

VIDEO: Marc Maron talks to Norm Macdonald about his gambling problem

This podcast conversation on gambling resonated with me when I heard it months ago. I shared it with P* as I felt it was relevant to our discussion
WTF with Marc Maron Podcast: Episode 219 - Norm Macdonald
NORM MACDONALD: The only time I went to a psychiatrist was for gambling, cuz how do I get the f*ck out of this. He said "the reason you gamble is to avoid life". My thing was "Isn't that why you do anything in life? To f*cking avoid it"
MARC MARON: (agreeing) It's just too painful
MACDONALD: just lose by uh, its just like any escape... When I watch a game and I've got a bunch of money on it then I can understand what's going on. There's nothing ambivalent about what's going...
MARON: (adding) and there's stakes
MACDONALD: and there's stakes. You know exactly the rules. You're completely involved. You're completely escaped from your life. The real, real fear...

sacred hoops, phil jacksonI devoured this book as soon as I found it on P*'s bookshelf. He suggested 'A New Earth' (Eckhart Tolle, 2007) was more relevant to me, I felt that with my 30HomeGames mission choosing the basketball book was a no-brainer
Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior
This is a book about a vision and a dream. When I was named head coach of the Chicago Bulls in 1989, my dream was not just to win championships, but to do it in a way that wove together my two greatest passions: basketball and spiritual exploration.

On the surface this may sound like a crazy idea, but intuitively I sensed that there was a link between spirit and sport. Besides, winning at any cost didn't interest me. From my years as a member of the championship New York Knicks, I'd already learned that winning is ephemeral. Yes, victory is sweet, but it doesn't necessarily make life easier the next season or even that day. After the cheering crowds disperse and the last bottle of champagne is drained, you have to return to the battlefield and start all over again.

In basketball as in life true joy comes from being fully present in each and every moment, not just when things are going your way. Of course, it's no accident that things are more likely to go your way when you stop worrying about whether you're going to win or lose and focus your full attention on what's happening right this moment
Life like, basketball is messy and unpredictable. It has its way with you, no matter how hard you try to control it. The trick is to experience each moment with a clear mind and open heart. When you do that, the game – and life – will take care of itself.

This was a winning essay P* entered into a competition commissioned by a German Poker forum, It deconstructed the pscyhology of "tilt". When players let their emotions cloud their poker judgment, it is called going "on tilt".
In order to recognize tilt we need to be present. This is a matter of exercise and great results can be achieved long-term. The most intensive kind of exercise is meditation, which is pure presence...

A less intensive way of exercising is implementing small routines in daily life... "If you sweep the yard, sweep the yard. If you cut a carrot, cut a carrot" is a Zen saying which refers to this. Usually when we cut a carrot we are somewhere in the past or future, only when we cut our finger are we present. If we are fully present from the beginning we won`t cut our finger - you could say the same for tilt. If we are fully present we dont tilt
- Other people's stories - Tales of: Adventure
- Other people's stories - Tales of: Love
- Other people's stories - Tales of: Living the Dream
- Other people's stories - Tales of: Living in the moment

Find previous Maron podcast references here
- Marc Maron with Adam Carolla - On being sedentary
- Marc Maron with Doug Stanhope - On happiness
- Marc Maron with Norm MacDonald - On being in the moment
- Pete Holmes with Marc Maron - A question answered with a quote: Comedy Podcasts

Friday, April 26, 2013

Let's Get Real - Episode 6 preview: Be like water

Its been a while. In my 6th conversation I speak to a Yoga Instructor about finding peace in spite the noise of life. It was my first real conversation with her after reconnecting through a random encounter.

It was great chatting to someone with such a wealth of experience and a great vigour for life. A person who celebrates the full spectrum of experience. Someone who appreciates the light and the shade and finds the gems in each state. Its the overarching theme of the Superhero genre, how our moments of weakness become our greatest strengths. Its what forms our Origin story.

VIDEO: The Joker Needs Batman

In the excerpt I mention an "Underground beach Party". As someone who is inclined to accepting both sides of the coin, my dilemma is trying to involve myself in stories so I can relate to people from a place of experience. Its a theme we touched on several times in our chat, empathy and true understanding through a shared journey. But even that leads to another set of issues:
Man returning from waters with Tales of Adventure
'Beaches Ain't shit II'. Underground party near the Mosman Bunkers
Actor, Writer and Traveler Mike White speaks to Marc Maron about Adventure
WHITE: (36m 20s mark) I've gone through this period where when I'm invited to do something random I just do it because I feel "I should do that". And after a while -- I recently read a book about fetishising, this thing we feel where we need to have experiences. It a Buddhist-- at some point you can let go of "missing out on things". A healthy place. You don't need to have sex with every new person, you don't need to visit every corner of the universe
MARON: To be happy or feel like you've done something
WHITE: Which for many people, that doesn't even [register] but for some reason that's my [dilemma]...
- Find the 'Manifesting Bliss' free seminar at the Sydney 'Mind Body Spirit' Festival (Noon, Thurs May 16, 2013)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Harmony Korine talks to Marc Maron about "Plotting" and The Joker talk to Harvey Dent about "schemers"

L'enfant terrible Harmony Korine
Marc talks to 'Spring Breakers' director Harmony Korine about the value he places in plot for his films and life
WTF with Marc Maron: Episode 374 - James Franco, Harmony Korine, Nate Bargatze, Peter Sagal
MARC MARON: (59m 30s) So story initially is not that important?
HARMONY KORINE: No I mean story is always important. Characters are always important. Sometimes I have a problem with like the idea of plot
panel and audience laughter
Cuz life never seems plotted or people who plot things seem horrible. Right? If you're a person who's gonna plot your life I don't want to be around you. So why would I want to plot my movies?
MARON: You might want to be around them when the plot starts failing cuz that's always interesting. Well that plot didn't work out now its...
KORINE: Story and characters are what I like
The Joker reasoning with Harvey Dent (Two-Face) on the merits of chaos over order

VIDEO: The Dark Knight - Hospital Scene (Two-Face and Joker)
The Dark Knight (2008)
THE JOKER: [speaking to Two-Face] Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it! You know, I just, do things. The mob has plans, the cops have plans, Gordon’s got plans. You know, they’re schemers. Schemers trying to control their worlds. I’m not a schemer. I try to show the schemers how, pathetic, their attempts to control things really are. So, when I say, ah, come here, when I say that you and your girlfriend was nothing personal, you know that I’m telling the truth. It’s the schemers that put you where you are. You were a schemer, you had plans, and uh, look where that got you. I just did what I do best. I took your plan and I turned it on itself. Look what I did, to this city with a few drums of gas and a couple of bullets. Hm? You know what, you know what I noticed? Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even if the plan is horrifying. If tomorrow I tell the press that like a gang banger, will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all, part of the plan. But when I say that one, little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!
[Joker hands Two-Face a gun and points it at himself]
Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos. Oh and you know the thing about chaos, it’s fair.

Find other Marc Maron posts below:
- AV Club's Nathan Rabin talks about Podcast Culture on Marc Maron's 300th episode of WTF
- Actor, Writer and Traveler Mike White speaks to Marc Maron about Adventure
- Dan Harmon talks Television with Marc Maron on GT4: "Hamburger" Art and living in a "concrete, Orwellian Honeycomb"
- Is Andrew W.K a persona that has been played by multiple actors? Marc Maron in conversation with Andrew W.K.

Harmony Korine and James Franco in conversation with Marc Maron: Taste, performance art and playing a character

'Spring Breakers' Harmony Korine and James Franco
in conversation with Marc Maron on a live WTF in Austin
Marc Maron talks to renaissance man James Franco about how much of his projects are genuine. As someone who navigates the world of Blockbuster movies, Arthouse, Soap Operas, Tabloids and Art, Marc tries to understand where Franco's "performance" starts and ends:
WTF with Marc Maron: Episode 374 - James Franco, Harmony Korine, Nate Bargatze, Peter Sagal
MARC MARON: (1h 06m 30s) Why did you do the 'General Hospital' thing was that an experiment?
HARMONY KORINE: You just wanna ask why he does so much shit
MARC MARON: No no because after he hosted the Academy Awards, afterwards people were like "Is he f*cking around?" What was going on with that. You do the General Hospital thing and you make a documentary on that. Where does the goof end?
JAMES FRANCO: There's just different levels of engagement. There's no reason not to be able to do all different sides. When I go and act in a film like 'Oz'. I Play the Wizard of Oz and the goof ends. I wanna fit in that world. I'm not trying to wink at the audience and say hey its me the actor behind the character. I want that character to fit into that world. But as soon as I'm done with that project there's no reason why I have to stand behind the facades of these characters and be noone...
MARON: So when you were doing the General Hospital thing, was that funny to you?
FRANCO: I mean it started off like as you said an experiment. I was talking to an artist friend of mine and we were gonna do a movie where my character had formerly been in a Soap Opera. And that got us talking about "Hey what if you were really in a Soap Opera?". And I'd also been reading this book by this guy called Carl Wilson called something like 'Journey to the End of Taste'... the conclusion he gets is that different people get different things from art or culture...
It strikes me that Franco is embodying the privilege that Camus envisions of the Actor in 'Myth of Sisyphus', someone who truly embraces the absurdity of life. Marc in typical comedic fashion takes a shot at Franco for being too precious but to the Actor's credit Franco reiterates the importance of "staying in character".
JAMES FRANCO: (1h 11m) Before I went on, I thought "Oh am I going to have to act Soap Opera style?". And when I got there, a big lesson for me was how important context is and how context transforms a performance...
MARC MARON: And sometimes you just can't transcend the context
FRANCO: No it transforms you. You can never transcend the context to a certain extent and nor do you really want to. If you're trying to transcend the context then you're just making the movie about you and your performance. I see movies as a Director's medium, I always want to serve the Director and the film so I don't want to transcend the context, its just that sometimes the context is weird 
VIDEO: Marc Maron Talks Accidentally Offending James Franco During Live 'WTF' Podcast At SXSW

Find other Marc Maron posts below:
- AV Club's Nathan Rabin talks about Podcast Culture on Marc Maron's 300th episode of WTF
- Actor, Writer and Traveler Mike White speaks to Marc Maron about Adventure
- Dan Harmon talks Television with Marc Maron on GT4: "Hamburger" Art and living in a "concrete, Orwellian Honeycomb"
- Is Andrew W.K a persona that has been played by multiple actors? Marc Maron in conversation with Andrew W.K.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Comedians Pete Holmes and Eddie Pepitone on the phone as a "Life Companion"

Real truth in advertising: Samsung Galaxy S4 - Life Companion
'You Made it Weird' with Pete Holmes: Episode 143 - Eddie Pepitone
(1h 46m) EDDIE PEPITONE: Yesterday I found an hour to just go to the park at sunset. F*cking walk around the park leisurely for 45 minutes and sit under a tree and I meditated. Not the greatest meditation cuz I haven't meditated in a while. But after 15 minutes I open my eyes and just the gorgeous f*cking sunset in that park surrounded by green. That's spirituality for me. But it has to be sought after. I have to pull myself away. This might sound trite but the pull of Twitter and Facebook and emails
PETE HOLMES: I've stopped medititating because I'm like "I should check my @replies"
PEPITONE: One of the things I did after meditating, of course I had my phone in my pocket. What a great meditation, what a great sunset and I'm walking back to my house and I'm going for the phone (this is the constant struggle) "Eddie don't go for the phone right now". You really just got into a nice space You're probably feeling the best you've felt in a month. You know the sunset, the green...
HOLMES: Cuz Its taking you out of the moment
Its the sugar bowl. Its nutritionless, addictive, sweetness and the truth that you just touched on... The thing that breaks my heart is that wonder is everywhere. The park is wonderful. This room is wonderful. If you could have a waking dream appreciation of this existence, we would walk around and not be interested in our phones
I had this dream last night and I have it often, is that I fall into a body of water and I try to frantically turn it off which is what you're suppose to do [to preserve electronics]
But what's so sad is that its actually in my dream. I don't have children. The idea of losing my phone. This is a recurring dream
PEPITONE: That just gave me an idea for a guy who never has kids and his photo album are just different phones throughout his life and he's showing them to people. "This is my Samsung S2, it had some problems but we loved him anyway... We had to put him to sleep in a Sprint store"
HOLMES: We put him in a drawer here. You want to visit his grave
Watch Samsung's S4 phone trailer which includes these themes:
Convenience: Daily life is more convenient
Fun: Life becomes more fun
Relationship: Relationships grow closer
Care: Wellbeing is cared for 
VIDEO: Samsung Galaxy S4 - Life Companion Trailer HD

Find more Pete Holmes here:
Comedian Pete Holmes on adjacent experiences: Conversations relating to Travel, dreams and life
- Comedian Louis C.K. on what Smartphones are taking away

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Is Andrew W.K a persona that has been played by multiple actors? Marc Maron in conversation with Andrew W.K.

WTF with Marc Maron: Episode 313 - Andrew W.K.
I was once enthralled by an interesting conversation with Party Rocker Andrew W.K on Triple J radio, it struck me enough that I spent several days referencing it in conversations. During this time I was informed by someone who'd partied with the man that he was actually a persona that had been through several incarnations. He was merely a "mask", a legacy that could be donned by alternate actors. A motivational superhero, the proverbial masked wrestler except in plain sight.

As a wrestling fan and someone fascinated with identity this was an intriguing revelation. I wasn't even aware of such speculation, some cursory googling confirms there is credible baggage associated with Andrew W.K's identity. Personally it didn't change anything as I believe its "all real", if anything the hearsay only makes him more more compelling.

Interestingly an American artist I ran with in Barcelona offered the same theory for elusive artist 'Banksy' though I suspect his speculation came from a place of ignorance as he was mispronouncing his name as 'Banky'.

When Andrew W.K later appeared on Marc Maron's WTF podcast I listened to it through the prism that he was a Performance artist. In this light, I've pulled portions of the chat that allude to this likelihood. The episode is a largely typical WTF episode (existential, storytelling) but there was definitely some coded messaging going on. Either it was genuine or some playful improv to perpetuate a myth. Is the "Philosopher of Partying" a persona, judge for yourself.

Referencing "Soul" in relation to love and life
WTF with Marc Maron: Episode 313 - Andrew W.K.
MARC MARON: (22m 30s) I'm a true believer that the "One Soulmate" idea is bullshit
ANDREW W.K: For you?
MARON: For anybody
W.K: Geez Marc
MARON: What?
W.K: I wanna think that it exists
MARON: You're soul is so small it needs to limit itself?
W.K: Its extremely small, of course that's why I try to compensate for the other...
MARON: You're compensating for your tiny soul
W.K: I gave up my soul a looooong -- well not that long ago. About 12 years ago
MARON: To who?
W.K: When I moved to New York
MARON: You did not! You're full of soul. You're all about the soul
W.K: And that's the trick!
MARON: I get that. That IS the trick
W.K: You make them think it. Noooo there's no trickery going on. I'm having fun...
Maron crossing the line and breaking kayfabe
MARC MARON: (1h 04m 50s) Don't subvert your destiny
ANDREW W.K: You can
MARON: I think that what you're talking about is an example of being a creative person and realising your limitations and pursuing the best you can with your talent
W.K: I think you said it very well. I feel very limited so I was pleased to find one thing
MARON:  But you're not that limited. You've developed a theme, a tone and what appears to be a character for yourself
awkward air arises
W.K: Hey now!
MARON: What?
W.K: You see that sign? It says apple sauce. I'm just kidding it says "Applause". Will you flash that sign for me. You know what that is right?
Marc starts clapping and giggling
Remember the better you do, the better Larry does. Ok he's giving me a sign. He's giving me 5 seconds, its exciting isn't it? No no no...
the air normalises
Andrew W.K on his persona and being beholden to it
MARC MARON: (58m 40s) How do you get from this appreciation of the anarchists, the geniuses and the poets. How did you build yourself into what you became?
ANDREW W.K: I can't compete with them. They've already done it, they done a good job with all that they've done. That's just what I do for my own interests. My work that I do as Andrew W.K has nothing to do with my own tastes or hobbies or interests and things like that
MARON: Why is that?
W.K: Umm I guess its just with the agreements I made and the choices I made early on. It's not like its not a dream come true
MARON: What are those agreements though? You've probably talked about it before and I apologise
W.K: No no its the most trivial, unimportant stuff. Its just contracts and business things like that. What I'm saying is that when you know what you need to do and you signed up to do it and you know what it takes and what you've agreed to in order to achieve that. It not like I have a separate life. I don't look at it as a job, a 9 to 5 job
MARON: That is the business
W.K: I feel there's a time and place for it all. The Gods will continue to guide me and my managers, the people I work with in this version of reality will also guide me. I'm patient that's the thing
MARON: Do you have Gods? Do you have them for real or are you saying that?
W.K: Guardian angels, however you wanna put it.
MARON: Do you have them?
W.K: Everybody does. Well I do.
MARON: Well are you a spiritual cat?
W.K: No just pragmatic
MARON: Pragmatic and willing to mythologise
W.K: I can't discount these things with the life I've led. I feel it would be disrespectful to the forces beyond myself, to my mum and dad and my mentors. There are other things at work...
To be honest I was never much fussed on finding the absolute truth on whether Andrew W.K was a construct. I'm just delighted that the phenomenon exists. For those wondering if there's any larger meaning behind it all, Maron and W.K offer some clues in the beginning of their chat.

On art and life being esoteric and "making sense of it all"
ANDREW W.K: (16m) One of the most amazing things he [Professor] said, I don't just think it applies to esoteric thought It applies to maybe life, at least culture. "The fact you don't understand it is the point"
MARC MARON: Right! Cuz its constantly provocative
W.K: Its inspiring thought.
MARON: Exactly
W.K: Thank goodness cuz I felt like an idiot all these years that I didn't get it
MARON: That is very provocative... You spend your life trying to crack some sort of code thinking that, there's part of you that thinks like "I gotta make sense of it". How many times do you say to yourself "I just gotta figure it out
W.K: I wanna know!
MARON: I gotta figure it out. Someone knows!
W.K: Someday its all gonna make sense
Find other Marc Maron posts below:
- AV Club's Nathan Rabin talks about Podcast Culture on Marc Maron's 300th episode of WTF
- Actor, Writer and Traveler Mike White speaks to Marc Maron about Adventure
- Dan Harmon talks Television with Marc Maron on GT4: "Hamburger" Art and living in a "concrete, Orwellian Honeycomb"
- Is Andrew W.K a persona that has been played by multiple actors? Marc Maron in conversation with Andrew W.K.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Coming Home from a year abroad. Reverse Culture shock and beating the travel Blues: The Hurt Locker (2008)

hurt locker, travel blues, adrenalin
The closing scenes of 'Hurt Locker' (2008) capturing the call to adventure and
adrenalin rush that beckons people back. Something travelers wrestle with also.
There's always a period of adjustment when coming home after a year abroad. Settling back into the grind of daily life you encounter people who don't even realise you were gone. Conversely those aware of your absence show little interest to what you did while you were away. Then you come to realise everyone's been living eventful lives (marriage, divorce, mortgages, promotions, kids). You just hadn't been paying attention. You needed your own experience and some time away to get the fresh perspective to see what's always been there.

The more you experience, the more you realise nothing is new - Its just new to you. I've started to have a new appreciation for the stories people tell, messages in movies resonate more.

If you ever get the blues after returning from an extended stay away from home. Don't feel so bad, its human to crave returning to environments where we felt invigorated even though we belong elsewhere. While you're dying to reenlist for your next adventure don't forget that there are others itching to getaway again with their backpacks also.

VIDEO: "Love the Adrenalin" - The Hurt Locker Ending

The Hurt Locker (2008)
Staff Sergeant William James: [Speaking to his son] You love playing with that. You love playing with all your stuffed animals. You love your Mommy, your Daddy. You love your pajamas. You love everything, don't ya? Yea. But you know what, buddy? As you get older... some of the things you love might not seem so special anymore. Like your Jack-in-a-Box. Maybe you'll realize it's just a piece of tin and a stuffed animal. And the older you get, the fewer things you really love. And by the time you get to my age, maybe it's only one or two things. With me, I think it's one.

- Transcript: Travelers depression and feeling the pain
- Backpacking Round the World Trip - A modern day "Hero's Journey" (Joseph Campbell)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Robert Rodriguez with Blackberry 10: On the beauty and power of Creativity

Robert Rodriguez alongside Kobe Bryant at TroubleMaker Studios
Ever since 'Once upon a time in Mexico' and watching Robert Rodriguez's 'Ten Minute Film School' I've looked up to him as a rolemodel. His resourcefulness, independence and undeniability spoke to me. I liked how he wore different hats creatively, something I aspired to in my own design. I've included a TroubleMaker studio tour in Austin on the bucket list for the 30HomeGames mission.

VIDEO: BlackBerry 10 & Robert Rodriguez - Project Green Screen
ROBERT RODRIGUEZ: When you're saying you want to be a filmmaker, you're saying you want to communicate. It goes beyond the technological, it goes into that realm of creativity, of storytelling. How you got there, whether you used a digital camera or a phone. It doesn't matter. Its the idea that rules at the end of the day. You shouldn't even move forward if you feel too comfortable, cuz you're wasting your time. You wanna be challenged, you wanna do stuff where you don't know how you're going to pull it off.

I lead a creative life and when you lead a creative life you can't help but be happy. Everything that you do is about discovery, creating and being inspired by something and entertaining people and yourself. I don't think I've worked a day in my life. I thought I've always been playing. People say "You make so many movies, why do you work so hard?". Change that question to play and ask that question again. I've done a lot but its only the beginning. There's so much more to do, there's so many more things that can scare you. That you can take on and discover...