Friday, November 28, 2008

New Creative Thanksgiving Juice

I know there's a lot going on in the world right now, but life goes on and I just can't help but be concerned with realtively small things.

Today, on the day after Thanksgiving, I'm thinking mostly about these two things:

1) MOJO TANGO -- Jonny Stranger, who was at NYU with me in the MFA program and is now based in Austin, TX sent me a DVD of his second feature. I think the film is still not locked down (it's still being edited), but the version I saw blew me away.

I watched it once. Then, in the middle of the night (4AM), watched it again. It has its flaws and needs a few adjustments (some scenes need to be cut and a few scenese need to be added), but it is going to be a real crowd pleaser at festivals.

Here is one of Jonny Stranger's other works, a short animated film that is a sample of his creative visual sense. Enjoy.

As for MOJO TANGO, he has done an amazing job of making a really entertaining and hip film about two friends and their relationships with women. I've seen lots of indie no-budget films shot on digital video about floundering 20somethings and 30somethings that have since been labeled as mumblecore, most notably THE PUFFY CHAIR, FUNNY HA HA, KISSING ON THE MOUTH, and Jonny's movie is way better than all those. And those movies were reviewed in the NY TIMES.

I tip my hat to you, Jonny Stranger, for persevering and getting your second feature made under remarkable duress. You are a true independent filmmaker. I can't wait for you to experience the love of the audience at festival screenings, especially since the film also authentically captures the hipster Bohemian scene of Austin. If anyone hasn't been there, the hype is for real. It is one cool city, still great for artists and slackers in general.

Anyway, being witness to Jonny Stranger's struggle and now seeing the fruit of that struggle has been humbling and enlightening. I will follow your example.

Now, the second thing.

2) I've been busy since returning to Hong Kong doing Korean-to-English translations. I did the translation (English subtitles) for an old-school Korean television mini series (all 16 episodes). This entails watching the episodes and coming up with English dialog that has same or similar meaning but that also matches the relative length of the original. It's not that difficult, and I'm pretty good at it--I'm relatively good with languages. But it still takes time. It doesn't pay much (especially now since I get paid in Korean won and that currency has plummeted), but it's work I can do at a very flexible schedule and without having to schlepp around.

Because of that job, I really haven't had time to do much else. So, it wasn't until this morning that I realized that the laptop that was stolen from our luggage in the Maldives contained the latest file of the novel that I've been working on--more fitting description is the novel that's been kicking my butt-- for the past 3, 4 years.

I thought I'd backed it up to an external hard drive that I have at home, but it turns out I hadn't. So basically, what I do have of that novel is an old draft from about a year ago before a major rewrite.

I'm not even sure what the point of this is. I'm not really sad about it. It's more like begruding acceptance of a situation.

Basically, I didn't lose it all, so if I can go on and finish the novel, losing the laptop will make for a good making-of overcoming-obstacles story.

On the other hand, it's as if this novel, a hip mystery, is giving me a way out, tempting me to take the easy way out and abandon it.

I ought to, as I know its flaws already, but I've invested so much in it already, that I just couldn't do that.

Anyway, this is what it feels like sometimes to write a book.

On a positive note, I got an e-mail from out of the blue from some prof at UC Berkeley who tracked me down to tell me she is teaching my book BOY GENIUS to her class of 40 students this semester.

This happens to me about once a year, but this is the first time from a really big name school. Very gratifying feeling.

I guess one has to find encouragement in all things.


Winifred said...

I encourage you to re-start it. The email from Berkeley was a sign. :)

mao365 said...

Thanks, Winifred.