A podcast about movie making and the scifi featurette, Daughter of God, with Director Shri Fugi Spilt, (Dan Kelly). Glasses of grandfather are talismanic.
Welcome to the Daughter of Godcast, Episode 017 Christmas 2006. This is recorded in 2016, and in the story of the making of Daughter of God, we’re almost clear of 2006 and about to head full steam into 2007. Momentum folks, that warm tingle in your chest and belly, spreading out down your thighs and into your shoulders, down your biceps and calves and now everywhere, electric spooky waves… of pleasure? Getting more so. That’s momentum, and the ghosts of 10 Christmases past.
Episode 017, Christmas 2006!
I’m post Catholic, wild hybrid Hindu, Taoist, Pagan, Vortexan, but you know, Christmas? Still love Christmas. Today is winter solstice, so if your listening on Wednesday, December 21, 2016 HAPPY SOLSTICE! Believe it or not light will now be increasing, especially here in the United States of America. I know, many people feel like we’re descending into the dark ages, but go talk to a tree, like Melonie did. Calmed her right down.
Or listen to me, and here’s what I’d say. These are exciting times. Just like in the movies, when all seems lost, the heroine saves the day. We are the Joseph Campbells that Joseph Campbell talked about.\
Here’s Anastasia reading from the intro to Ursula K Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness.
Why do I make movies? Because I want to lie to you like Ursula K Le Guin, I want to tell you the cosmic lie, what you already know but keep forgetting. Why do you forget what you really are? Theme park Earth has automated forgetting routines built in so our divine aspects won’t kick in too soon and spoil the tension, the drama. If you are only focused on the happy ending, where’s the fun in that?
We’ve called out a mess of contrast, we’ve gotten things to be super scary and that means we’ll have to remember way more than we’re used to. Time to get divine and shine. Marianne Williamson’s language might be heavy on the god thing, but she’s pretty much got the jist, far as I’m concerned.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
That last sentence is a like a blueprint to me. “our presence automatically liberates others.
And this from Ghandiji
All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.
I won’t ask others for freedom, beg for better conditions. I notice and embrace whatever feels authentic and enlivening right now. As I walk this world as free as I can be, I’ll find others who also are ready to be in the moment and together we will incarnate freedom. Eventually that will be most everyone we meet.
Until some yahoo guns me down like Ghandi, MLK, Malcolm X. But they never died, did they? I won’t either!
Because I’ve encouraged folks to flow their best feelings and shine, I’ve been called out for white male privilege. But I am more than my skin color and gender. I am more than the categories others assign to me, the number tatooed on my wrist, the circumstances of my birth. We all are so much more. Remember.
Maybe because we’re social beings, we get really invested in a consensus reality, what’s true for me must also be true for you. I thought up the following mini story while doing the dishes.
A wise woman is locked up for helping her people to act in their own self interest, against the policies of her country’s leader who is something of a dictator. She’s a Ghandi or Mandela type. There are two guards assigned to her. The conditions of her imprisonment aren’t harsh, but she is confined, kept from her family and the food pretty much sucks. There are a few other prisoners in her block, not quite as notorious as she, some in for theft or failure to pay the proper bribes etc.
The day guard was a mild bastard, contemptuous of his charges, playing small jokes on them for amusement. Guarding prisoners is after all a rather boring job and the day guard was always seeking ways to relieve the tedium, not only for him but for everyone. He fancied himself an entertainer, and the prisoners literally his captive audience.
The night guard was more aloof, interacting as little as possible with the prisoners. He was annoyed by the day guard’s behavior when they met between shifts.
One evening, the night guard was feeling restless, and became curious about the wise woman. She had been there a few months and seemed quite content with her situation, happy and at ease even with the day guards remorseless badgering.
He approached her cell and said, “I know the day guard is a not always respectful. I regret this, because although you have broken the law, we guards should act professionally. I was taught that being a soldier is honorable, whatever job we are asked to do. I believe he is a good man, I would advise him not dishonor all of us with his shenanigans, however harmless they might be. I am not his superior and his behavior is not so gross as to require me to report him. I would have you know, however, that I do not approve.”
The wise woman smiled at the night guard whose name she did not know, only the number 37 from his badge.
She replied respectfully, “You have deported yourself honorably tonight in sharing your feelings on this matter, and I thank you. Seems to me that guarding might chafe almost as much as being guarded, for some.”
“Ha, well for some, but certainly not for me! I am well content to be on this side of the door”. 37 laughed, not unkindly.
“Do you enjoy this work?” she asked with genuine curiosity.
“I wouldn’t say enjoy, but I’m am not inside a cell, so I suppose you could say I am satisfied.”
“Well then, we understand each other, said the woman.”
“What do you mean?” asked 37.
“We both cherish our freedom.”
“If you cherish freedom, why did you act in defiance of the law and end up here?”
“Are you implying that I am not free here?” She said, her eyes twinkling.
“Well, free to think your thoughts, I’ll grant you that, but not free to be with your friends, to see the ocean or gaze at the stars. Free in some intellectual egghead sense, but not free to live as you’d like.”
“Neither are you free by that definition, for aren’t the laws that I broke a cage that you conform to, willingly?”
Yes, that’s true, he thought.
“Well,” he said, “there is a law of gravity too, and I am not so stupid as to jump from the top of this prison, which is more than 10 meters high, for I would likely break both my legs, and then I’d loose my job. It is not so odious to be mindful of laws, and live my life as I please otherwise.”
“Have you not heard of the boy from the slums who on his skateboard jumped from the second floor of the tourist’s hotel and after many tries and bad landings tho without injury, finally landed perfectly? He must have a different understanding of gravity than you and I do.”
“I suppose with practice one can learn to do many things. Depending on your talents and interests.”
“True. I am sleepy now. I thank you for the conversation. If you wish, I would enjoy continuing tomorrow.”
“Good night then.”
The next night, after the day guard had departed, and 37 made his rounds, he came again to the cell of the wise woman.
“We were speaking of the skateboard boy having his own understanding of natural laws,” he said.
“According to his talents and interests, as you so aptly pointed out. Are you gifted in anything, aside from your dedication to duty?” She asked, teasing him a little. Because they were becoming, if not friends, glad for each other’s company.
“Yes, I am an excellent shot. I pride myself on my marksmanship.”
“Oh, my father collected guns. Do tell me your favorite shooting story.”
“Well, it wasn’t even on the battlefield, but target practice. My buddy didn’t realize he still had one cartridge chambered, but somehow I knew. He had his weapon pointed down range and towards the ground, but there was a small rock there and I could see the track of the richochet like a laser beam etched over my vision, and certainly had he discharged the weapon just then the bullet would have hit our commanding officer who was standing off to the left.
My buddy was squeezing the trigger to clear his weapon and without a thought I stepped over and grasping the fore stock, no, not grasping. With a touch… like holding a daisy one did not intend to pick, but rather appreciate, very gently, and I guided the the barrel to the target which was more than 30 meters distant, just as he pulled the trigger. The weapon discharged and the spotter yelled bulls eye. 30 meters.
There was some commotion and my buddy was lightly reprimanded but we all ended up laughing, even our commander. They teased me about being so lucky and I laughed too but I knew, I knew, it wasn’t luck, it was beauty, a moment of beauty.”
They were both silent for a time. Then the woman spoke. “Again, we understand each other.”
“We both know that laws are relative, they apply to each of us differently, on a case by case basis.”
“I find that a little far fetched. My talent may explore the frontiers of law, but there are boundaries that cannot be exceeded, even by the most talented.”
“If you’ll pardon my presumption, I have spent much time in the observance of others. I feel you may have left something out of your story that you are reluctant to tell me.”
“37’s jaw dropped a little.”
“Go on, tell me the rest, she prompted.”
“I… I had my eyes closed. Before I stepped to my buddy, I closed my eyes and didn’t open them until after I felt the recoil of his weapon.”
“Ha ha ha! she laughed. 37, I apologize. here you stand arguing for limits and you yourself have utterly exceeded all limits.”
He smiled too, chagrined. “I, uh. Well. How did you know?”
“This was your favorite story. Such stories always contain an element of profound mystery. That is the way of favorites.”
“I’ll be damned.”
“What if I told you, that perhaps, I am totally free. My talent is that I can defy any confinement, even this cell, any time I wish?”
“You mean this literally or in some metaphorical way?”
“The distinction is trivial, but your standard is non-confinement in the strictly physical sense. Escape.”
“I should have to take such an assertion very seriously, as my duty is to be sure you remain confined.”
“Then let us say good night, for I am again rather sleepy, and let us perhaps continue tomorrow night, if you feel so inclined?”
“Ha, well you’ve certainly are able to pique a man’s interest. No wonder you were able to stir up the mob. I’ll say goodnight then.”
The next evening, when 37 arrived, special security protocols had been deployed. There had been an escape, the wise woman was missing. She had been asleep in her bunk when the day guard arrived, then she had awoken and eaten her breakfast, the day guard had rebuked her for being such a glutton when her friends outside were clearly in need.
Then at lunch, she was gone. Her cell had been thoroughly searched and inspected but there was no sign of compromise anywhere, the concrete walls were thick and unmarred, the iron window bars tightly spaced and unbroken.
The day guard was being interrogated, but 37’s superior confided that the security cameras were all operational, the woman was there and then she wasn’t, the day guard was not complicit. Eventually 37 was left alone with his charges, and he settled into the routine.
After making his rounds, he stood in the open door of the wise woman’s cell, wondering. Would he be charged, having had these conversations with her? As far as he knew, only the image was recorded, that’s what his friend in surveillance had told him when they discussed the antics of the day guard weeks before.
The security cameras beeped and drooped in thier mounts, like wilted flowers. The lights flickered and went out. The power to the cell block had failed.
“I think now, we have finished talking. May I ask your name?”
“My name is Roland.”
“Thank you, Roland. Remember.”
The lights flickered on, and the cameras powered back up. He stood blinking. A smile played at the corners of his mouth.
At the end of 2006, I launched a Christmas Carol inspired greeting with my fleece hood and my grandfather’s thick glasses.
I had started having trouble seeing far, especially in low or florescent light, almost as if the code that ran my eyes went buggy. My irises seemed to be spinning too far open, and every camera operator knows that the more an iris opens, the shallower the depth of field gets, so close and far things can’t all be in focus at the same time.
I guessed that staring at screens was the cause. Having worked on computers on and off for a couple of decades and locking my focus 2-3 feet away for hours and hours. Now my eyes were optimized for computing. I had tried on a pair of my grandfather’s specs and low and behold, his prescription worked for me. 80s style and a retro fashion statement, big square old guy glasses. I cared less for the fashion and more that they were my grandfather’s and therefor talismanic, he had seen the entire 20th century.
I wore them when I documented performance, low on my nose, so I could duck my head down and look over the rims at the LCD screen or tilt up and see the action on the stage with the lenses.
My grandfather Steve Redling was born in 1902, he and his wife Anna started as peasants in Hungary. They had witnessed the modern American pageant, coming out of Europe in their teens, meeting, marrying and living a modest and happy life together. He had been a bartender by profession, right through the prohibition. His sister Tillie and her husband might have owned one of the speakeasys he worked at, that’s not totally clear. In any case, righteous crime is a family tradition that I’ve proudly carried on.
His arc stretched from farming in pre WWI Europe to prohibition, atom bombs, moon landings and the dawn of the incomprehensible internet in New Hyde Park, New York. He was history on the hoof. Now I was wearing the glasses through which he had watched the Price is Right and Lawrence Welk, had seen me.
My mother’s parents were a huge influence. What my parents gave me came in by osmosis, for better or worse. What I got from grandparents I took deliberately. They loved life, laughing, singing, music, drinking and celebration of any flavor. They were with us a lot growing up, only an hours drive from my kidhood home in Pound Ridge.
My grandmother was fueled by talking, she was a stream of consciousness talker, utterly transparent in her desires and dreams, unintentionally hilarious and always ready to laugh herself. I know my mother’s experience growing up was different with her mother, but my grandma and I shared truly unconditional love. She never refused a request or let a moment pass in silence.
My grandfather died in 1997, 6 years after we moved them from the ancestral brick bungalow in New Hyde Park to an assisted care facility in Beulah.
And NYC was my grandfather’s city. I often thought as I wandered the 5 burroughs doing dance documentation in the oughts or tripping out in the early 80s how many times our paths had crossed in space if not time, we two out of millions of famous and forgotten others.
Now I needed his eyes to work, to help me follow my fortune.
Out of the closet with grandpa’s glasses for an email blast at the end of 2006, the ghost of Christmas past.
Scrooge crept towards it, trembling as he went; and following the finger, read upon the stone of the neglected grave his own name, EBENEZER SCROOGE.
“Am I that man who lay upon the bed?” he cried, upon his knees.
The finger pointed from the grave to him, and back again.
No Spirit! On no, no!”
The finger still was there.
From: emk <emk@ Subject: Happy New Year Date: January 8, 2007 at 10:22:50 PM EST To: dan kelly <anything@ [snip] Gramma celebrated her l0l birthday with a little party,wine and cake. She smiled a lot. We haven"t heard from you this year, Is everything o.k.? Love
101. Now just waiting for the rollercoaster ride to be done.
By 2007, my grandmother was mostly quiet, several lifetimes of talking compressed into one life. I had sat with her while she rocked in her chair, alternately noticing me and pursing her lips for shared kisses and then gazing intently into the indescribable. She was showing me the way.
Though well intentioned (who isn’t?) my parents had a history of treating their sons with blundering arrogance. In episode 002, my father had unwittingly launched me toward wider horizons with his revelation about my activism. My mom hadn’t read him the riot act, so I considered her complicit. I had been back to Michigan a few times to visit but I mostly treated her persistent outreach efforts rather cavalierly.
I relented slightly for my father’s 80 birthday and decided to visit them in their snowbird rental in Florida. My 11 year old nephew decided he wanted to go too, and since my parents hadn’t seen him in years, we decided to surprise them. I emailed my mom that I wanted to bring “a friend”, knowing that she would assume that friend was a she, and that we were lovers.
As an orthodox Catholic, my mother was strictly no sex until marriage, at least not in her house, so she replied my friend could sleep on the couch. Now in the past, I might have gone along. I was only bringing my nephew along after all. My role as pariah had fried my diplomacy circuits. Plus if I didn’t stay in character, the ruse would fall apart. Finally, I meant every word. 🙂
From: danny kelly <anything@ Subject: Re: dad's bday Date: January 29, 2007 at 9:10:21 PM EST To: emk <emk@ after all this time, all the trouble in the family - haven't you learned anything? i asked if it was ok to bring a friend, yes or no. [snip] do you have a room for us or not? we will be staying in the same room. i am taking time out from a very busy schedule to come down there at your convenience - my idea of a vacation is not marco island with my parents. i am so beyond caring whether you approve of my friends or me. if you want to get together and extend your hospitality to me and the people who are important in my life, then by all means we're happy to come. [snip] i'm either invited or not. maybe she's a guy. maybe she's a 15 and jet black, not beige like [snip] (my ex-wife). [snip] your move. dan On Jan 29, 2007, at 8:52 PM, emk wrote: How much do you want to be with your dad? Why the secret? We have always liked your friends. That was a rude reply. On Monday, January 29, 2007, at 07:43 PM, danny kelly wrote: someone i've been spending time with, don't ask too many questions... d On Jan 29, 2007, at 8:07 PM, emk wrote: Who is the friend? On Monday, January 29, 2007, at 12:39 PM, danny kelly wrote: hi i am bringing a friend, is that ok? d
Yes, I was an asshole, but I’m in recovery now. One day at a time. Within a few minutes she relented on the premise that she had forgotten about the rooms in the other house she had available. I replied with a soothing email and all was well. They were ecstatic to see their grandson when we showed up. Happy Birthday Dad.
You’ve been listening to the Daughter of Godcast, episode 017. I am so glad you’ve joined me. Occasionally for reasons of my own, I’m going to do this sort of thing. Just tell a couple of stories. Lie, lie, lie. I want to get way better at lying. I hope you do too.
If only I had a lover to bring to Florida. 2007 started off slightly better than 2006 ended. I almost got a girlfriend, twice. The tall italian was a bit confused about what she wanted and the dancer had already decided to move back to California when we met.