G-Poppers … March 4th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

G-Pop got a message. His son was worried about the present political climate in our country.

G-Pop shares some of his concerns.

Yet, the whole situation reminds G-Pop of a teacher he had in high school–Coach Dunne.

The coach was young, charismatic, energetic and loved by all the students. So obviously, he had a great influence on the attitudes on campus.

Coach Dunne was also the guidance counselor–and all of the 118 people in G-Pop’s class made their way into Coach Dunne’s office to discuss with him their dreams and aspirations–even G-Pop.

He remembers it like it was yesterday. For you see, Coach Dunne had an approach:

He sized you up, and then he almost prophetically shared where he thought you should go with your talents, appearance, abilities and inclinations.

He had three favorite phrases:

1. You seem to be…

2. You look like…

3. You would be happy doing…

His words were cushioned with mostly praise, but also tarted with exhortation. He was convinced he knew your destiny.

So to G-Pop he said, “You seem to be a nice young man who’s interested in God. You look like you might want to pursue music, but I’m just not so sure you have the right stuff to make it.”

And then Coach Dunne concluded by saying, “You would be happy doing the work of a minister.”

G-Pop didn’t want to be a minister.

So he told Coach Dunne that he planned on pursuing music and creative arts. The guidance counselor shook his head, expressing great doubt.

Dunne thought he was doing a good thing by guiding students with his wisdom. G-Pop called it “Dunning.” It’s the belief that we can judge what’s right for other people based on their appearance, IQ and general demeanor.

This is directly reflected in the atmosphere of our political parties:

The Republicans contend it is their mission to bring all cultures and all ideologies under submission to the Constitution and Judeo-Christian principles.

The Democrats, on the other hand, believe that the poor, the indigent and the disenfranchised are being subjected by billionaires and a cruel society into an existence of poverty and degradation.

Both of these organizations are obsessed with the idea that human beings can be evaluated by the “Dunning” process. Both parties want to keep people in their culture, in their families, and bound to existing limitations.

It is utter foolishness.

And until we have leadership that tells the truth and does not try to force a reality on the populace based upon race, creed, gender or orientation, we will have a society that is splintered, separating the citizens by culture.

This should have been the message of Coach Dunne:

A. Be human.

In other words, find reasons to have commonality with everyone around you.

B. Do something of your own choice.

In other words, take a risk that what you think you can accomplish can actually be achieved.

C. Live with it.

Don’t get defensive if you fail. Don’t get prideful if you succeed.

Because the truth is, not one of us can live off our ancestors–and we sure as hell can’t control our children.

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Acada-not me … March 3, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog  

(2165)

Academy AwardsThomas Jefferson was a fascinating gent. Attributed with the main authorship of the Declaration of Independence, he established a precept–“all men are created equal.”

Although he did not follow this philosophy through by freeing his slaves, he did contend that elitism and segregation by the hierarchy from the average man was anti-American.

So after I finished having a wonderful evening with fine folks in Chino Valley, Arizona, I arrived home just in time to see the last hour of the Academy Awards.

I nearly gagged through the whole experience. The presumption, pomp and circumstance and “holier-than-thou” attitudes expressed by Hollywood are so contrary to the Jeffersonian approach to freedom that this institution of the Academy of Arts and Sciences is more suited for the court of King George.

Let’s look at the basic premises.

Hollywood makes movies because they are artistic. So in the first premise is the notion that most people aren’t as gifted and talented as those living on “the coast with the most.”

Secondly, Hollywood makes a certain type of movie because they are superior to the masses, who may require some inspiration with their entertainment, but those wishes must be ignored in favor of more high-minded goals.

And finally, the masses are so ignorant and unable to assess quality that those in the Academy vote on their own material within their own ranks–because certainly John Q. Public is too dense to comprehend the subtle nuances of art.

Would you explain how this is any different from our two-party political system, which nowadays only marches to platform ideals, rather than to the heart of the people, or the religious system, which proclaims that the people’s desires to be ministered to in a certain way is childish, and therefore more pious avenues must be pursued?

Candidly, anytime a committee gets together and decides what anybody else thinks–other than the people on the committee–you are dealing with an arrogance which will certainly turn around and bite you in the ass.

And even though the same Hollywood that criticizes the National Rifle Association for being backwoods in their philosophy about guns takes those same guns and put them in their movies, with violent and bloody conclusions, under the guise of “realistic entertainment.”

I, for one, am weary of such hypocrisy.

I know it is considered to be intellectual and open-minded to view the movie “Twelve Years a Slave” as an exposition of the debauchery of slavery in this country, but here’s the problem: the subject is not new and we are not any less racially divided because these movies are made. The people who are already angry over slavery become angrier and the people who are defensive over the issue just become more defensive.

Hollywood continues to make movies they like without asking me–or you, for that matter. We are supposed to sit at home in our underwear watching the show, submitting to the supposed supremacy of the tuxedo-clad crowd, knowing that we have no business challenging their predilections.

I am against elitism in all of its forms. It turns our country into arrogant, bratty children, who stand across the playground from one another behind their makeshift forts, hurling snowballs.

  • The Academy is not for me. It is a self-indulgent buffet for fat cats.
  • The religious system is not for me. It is a cloister of over-educated religionists who have lost contact with the congregation.
  • And the political system is not for me. It is a conglomeration of competitive children trying to get voted into a club that doesn’t do anything but make s’mores in the treehouse.

Can we do better?

Not until we admit to ourselves that we are not great. It is not necessary to be great. It is only wise to realize what Thomas Jefferson shared–that no one is better than anyone else.

 

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Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

I Got to P… November 14, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2067)

SixFor a five-year period, I wrote screenplays–seventeen of them in all, with thirteen movies produced in an independent-film format. Trust me, I was no threat to either Aaron Sorkin or Steven Spielberg, but considering the meager budgets involved, some pretty amazing projects were completed and released into the cosmos.

What I discovered when I wrote these screenplays was that people involved in artistic pursuits are often pressured by two different camps to comply to an agenda:

  • Religious writers are compelled to profess
  • Secular ones are taunted and teased to be profane

So if you wanted to write things that were acceptable to church people, you had to profess the principles of religion faithfully, while being careful not to add anything worldly, untoward or negative to your script.

On the other hand, if you wanted to get intrigue and interest from the “film festival crowd,” a certain amount of off-beat, unrealistic and profane inclusion was necessary.

I found both camps to be obnoxious.

I don’t have to go any further than the Good Book to demonstrate the aspects of good story telling. This is the reason I believe that the Good Book still has value. The writers felt no compulsion to profess, nor did they feel pushed into making the tales more profane in order to create a wider audience. They just shared it.

So you have King David, who writes really beautiful songs and poetry, but also is a lousy father and an adulterous murderer.

You have Samson, who did mighty deeds for the children of Israel, but also ended up blinded and humiliated because he let his “little head” rule “the big head.”

You have a story of the Jewish nation which is equally peppered with both praise and ridicule for their works and deeds.

By no means did the writers of the Good Book want to either profess or be profane. Instead they went for a third Pprofound.

This is what I pursued in my screenplays, too.

And what is profound? A profound script has heart, soul, mind and strength in it.

1. Heart. What is the real emotion involved? I am not talking about made-up feelings so the writer can manipulate his characters to do as he proposes. I am speaking of the unabashed, unapologetic sensations that go along with the story and our participants.

2.  Soul. What can we use of faith, hope and love to propel our tale and still achieve better conclusions? Removing spirituality from great writing is similar to jotting down your thoughts with invisible ink.

3. Mind. What is accurate? If we’re going to be in the desert, people should get thirsty. If we’re going to be on the ocean, someone should be seasick. Failing to produce accuracy in the pursuit of either profession or profanity is a journey into faulted futility.

4. Strength. What is human? Don’t ask your characters to be superheroes. There’s too much of that in our theater today. Don’t portray them as demons. Expose humanity without fear or prejudice.

I don’t know–maybe someday I’ll start writing screenplays again. But if I do, I won’t be anemic and merely profess my own beliefs. And I won’t pursue profane, espousing the common whim of present-day society.

I will find the heart, soul, mind and strength in the journeys of my characters … and allow the words to produce profound results.

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