Saturday, September 16, 2017

An Open Letter to my Daughter


The cool thing about the internet is unless one of us deletes this it'll always be up. Unless, obviously we're living in some sort of dystopic future where zombies slowly shuffle down the highway. And if that's the case you'll be too busy taking head shots to read this anyway.

I wanted to write something about being a father, more directly about being a creative father who encourages you to be creative yourself. Most of "my generation" grew up being told that art was not a career. But to be fair the generation that said that was told to pay for college by going to war. And currently an entire generation is struggling to feed their families because others wanted them to be creative, but didn't want to pay them for it. Basically what I'm saying is everybody is making it up as they go and hoping they don't fuck up their kids.

Life is stupid hard, because there are no rules. People like to think there are, but let's face it your life can change and fork into any direction at any time and it's bonkers. Knowing you like I do you're gonna do whatever the hell you want, much like both of your parents - your stubborn. It's a good thing, it's not the easiest path, but it's a good thing. You do you, kid. But every now and then take a step back and make sure you're doing (whatever) for the right reasons. If you happen to be looking for guidance right now though, think about this: No matter what you do, be creative in it. Up to you how broad or narrow the terminology.

The most common stories of people succeeding usually involved them taking a different approach or coming up with an idea that no one else had. That applies to legitimately any field of work or life. So yeah, be creative. Be creative no matter what! Some people rain on creatives and call us daydreamers, well I would rather dream 24/7 instead of living a nightmare of mediocrity.

As a civilization we've painted ourselves into a corner. We spent years inventing things like the internet and supercomputers only to end up being able to steam porn while we sit in gridlocked traffic waiting to sit in a chair for eight hours (if you're luck) to wait four days to get a paycheck in order to spend it all in three days on fun during the weekend before we start all over again on Monday. We have literally sent men to the moon and robots to Mars, but we can't wrap our minds around the concept of working to live instead of living to work. So yeah, I'm telling you to be creative. Enjoy what you do, or be damn sure you enjoy what having a job allows you to do. Don't sit in a mansion staring at your boat and be upset that you don't have the newest iPhone yet. Don't sellout for nothing while regretting not standing up for everything. Breath the air at the top of a mountain, but if we're not careful that air will be smog soon.

BE CREATIVE even if no one lets you.
TRUST your instinct, not your head, it might not always be right but you'll learn from that.
MAKE MISTAKES, it's the only way to know for sure what's wrong and what might be right.
TRY EVERYTHING, but love sparingly.
APPRECIATE the shoulders you stand on, you never know when they'll crumble away.
LISTEN to the everyone around you, but only repeat what sticks in your head.
OPEN your heart, and never let fear close it, because if you do sometimes the door gets stuck.
RUN, but never away from something. Always towards it.

I'm telling you this not because I know what's right and what's wrong, but because I believe in you and everything you do. So take the steps on your own, but know someone is supporting you and telling you where the potholes might be.

- That guy you're raising to be a father.

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Lament For Grain

Back in the day I fancied myself a filmmaker. Running around with my Sony Handycam and a handful of my friends I made my first short, Ode: Love at First Street. It was a silent film and a homage to Charlie Chaplin.

To put it in perspective this was back before ten-year-olds could become Internet famous off movies made on their iPhones in less than a hour. In fact, this was before YouTube... and iPhones... and (prepare to gasp) before high definition. When I started making movies HD wasn't the standard, even television was still running standard def.

It's easy to take for granted the ease of accessibility we have now, in fact I'm planning on doing a live show later in the summer. Imagine that, we can now stream in HD live and interact with our audience  in real time. Until recently I was a self-proclaimed kind of Luddite, I liked the way things used to be, but that's impossible now with technology surrounding us at every corner and progressing faster than any of us could have imagined a decade ago.

One thing that I will never shake is how much I miss a grainy movie. There's something far too romantic about it, I know. But when something was made using film you could feel it. Watching the scratches and blips on the big screen, or the small one, was like seeing a scar etched on your friend's skin. There's a story there, the scare becomes a story in-and-of itself. And in the same way, the condition of film tells a story as well. In all honesty it's a miracle we have as many movies from a pre-digital age as we do. Physical things feel so fragile now that everything can be instantly be saved in triplicate on the cloud.

On the one hand; don't get me wrong, I have a daughter and thanks to my smartphone and Google Drive I have COUNTLESS photos of her... I rarely look at them, but I'm still thrilled to have them. On the other hand I have photos of her doing some pretty boring every day stuff that I never would have bothered to snap if it had been on a roll of 35mm film that only had 24 pictures available to it and cost me real cash to have developed. So here's the real question, does having the ability to make every moment special dilute the precious ones? Does having a record of our entire lives on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram distract us from living it? Or does it highlight those moments and open up ourselves to friends that, without social media or digital storage, we would never otherwise share our lives with?

I have no answers here. I don't want to have the answers. This is the world we live in now and that's okay, go with the flow because otherwise the current will just pass you by.

And for the record City Lights is still my favorite film...

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Next Bat-Time, Next Bat-Channel - Rest In Peace Adam West

I might be a child of the 80's, but I grew up watching classic reruns on Nick-at-Nite. My evenings were filled with I Love Lucy, M.A.S.H., and of course Batman. Adam West was the first time the character was truly defined for me and I don't think I'm alone with that memory. 

We've lost so many icons in the past couple of years and each of them deserve their own moments of mourning, but there's something strange about losing Adam West. When someone introduces you to a character or idea that sticks with you as much as Batman has stuck with me that person begins to feel immortal. And when immortality fades you see the ugly face of mortality through the haze.  

Goodbye Adam West, you will forever be the caped crusader and you will forever be missed by friends, family, and fans alike. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Updating some of my recent marketing/design work:

Ruffin' Wranglers, April 2017 Ad

Ruffin' Wranglers, Social Media Banner

Friday, March 3, 2017

Lately I've been waist deep in my new book, a sci-fi adventure story due out later this year, which is admittedly taking me longer than I'd like. But in the mean time I've put together a collection of my work thus far for the lifestyle blog

I've been lucky enough to guest blog for Patty about a wide range of subjects, but primarily Rhode Island's craft beer scene. PattyJ has been named Rhode Island Monthly's Best Of Rhode Island two years in a row and with good reason. With a finger on the pulse of The Ocean State this popular blog crisscrosses R.I. culture and hot spots with style!  

To check out a few of my contributions to Patty's blog  (and check out the whole blog for that matter) click the links below.

Something's Brewing On The West Side
Check out this quaint brewery on Providence's West Side.
Where to go and what to drink on Valentine's Day in Rhode Island.
All About Isle Brewer's Guild In Pawtucket
A new partner brewery inspires growth and innovation in Pawtucket, RI.
There's a little something for everyone on New Years. Champagne, whiskey, and beer.
Food, Drink & Dessert: A Guy's Guide To Thanksgiving 
Thanksgiving is more than just Turkey and football.

PattyJ is also available on social media:
@PattyJStyle on Facebook
@pattyjeffre1 on Twitter
@pattyjdotcom on Instagram

Monday, November 14, 2016

"Arrival" Review (no spoilers)

Being a child of the 80's has given me a decent reach in terms of watching science fiction. With one arm I was able to touch Star Wars and Star Trek, Alien and The Abyss, Blade Runner. And in the other, I'm scooping up exciting new touchstones on both the big screen and small. Stranger Things, Black Mirror, Westworld, Doctor Who. This has inspired an evergreen interest in more classic literary works of sci-fi and made me excited for what's coming next. RARELY do I found something that feels so new, but harbors such a old soul. Arrival is a modern day cinematic gem that hearkens back to the groundbreaking movies of the 70's and 80's. 

Based on the novella The Story of your Life the film follows the events following a sudden alien presence on earth. Twelve ships called 'shells' station themselves on our planet. In order to understand the new species the government looks for help from Amy Adams's Dr. Louise Banks. As a top shelf linguistics professor with top secret clearance Banks is uniquely qualified to help learn the alien language in the hopes of understanding why they are here. 

At it's heart this is hard science fiction. We are talking real Ray Bradbury stuff here and I completely fell in love with it for that. Additionally the film lays out a all too real self-portrait of our modern world. An overtone (not an undertone) is the potential consequences of our divided world. Don't get me wrong though this film is not a political message wrapped in a sci-fi facade. No, instead it blends current politics with old school storytelling and it's beautiful.

For my money the storytelling is pitch perfect. However there are a couple of production notes I'll toss in, just because I used to be a film maker and we have to ruin everything. The first quarter's pacing was a little slow, that being said I can understand the rationale behind it. You just have to get to the end of the film to understand that thought process. Amy Adams dials in a great performance. This could have been a very tricky role as well, it deals mostly in subtly which could have come off as muted or flat. Instead she does a wonderful job of bringing you into her world.

Jeremy Renner, who I for some reason have a soft spot for acting-wise, did fine with what he had. I don't actual have any gripes about his acting ability here. But rather I think there was a missed opportunity with his character. They almost use him for an injection of humor into what is other a very serious film. But as much as I like the guy he does not have that innate charm you need to inject ambient humor into a movie like this. There are actors out there, but it just wasn't him this time.

An interesting thought I had while watching this was that the cinematography felt like the director, Denis Villeneuve, was channeling those previously mentioned classics from the 80's. So many shots looked like they were pulled straight from The Abyss or Blade Runner. Well, come to find out Villeneuve will also be directing the forthcoming Blade Runner sequel. There you have it I guess.

My hat goes off to Eric Heisserer as well. He penned a screenplay that not only tackled a great deal of linguistically technical talk, but also an impressively woven narrative. This story could very easily have become muddy and over complicated, but Heisserer handled it with an impressive hand. 

Lastly, this film is important for two main reason. First, because it takes a different approach to a traditional tropes. Using linguistics as a driving plot device was something I had never see before and that peaked my interest right away. Second, this film is a sounding board for how hard we must work to understand those who speak a different language from us. It's about staring at something we fear and seeking to understand it rather than strike it down. Like all great science fiction it speaks to what we could be as humans. The opportunity to be more than we are, to reach out of our comfort zone and open our minds to things we are unable to comprehend at the moment.

Arrival is out now, check your local theaters and don't miss out.
Thanks for reading,
+ Colin

Arrival trailer and above photo courtesy of  and belong to Paramount Pictures. I do not own the rights to any images or video featured here. Nor was I paid for this review, I just really like sci-fi and I really liked this movie.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Buying Local, a Video

Last weekend I ran a copy of "Grayfellow: Icarus Burning" to Newport, RI. While I was there I filmed a quick video for my YouTube video. It's all about buying local!

There's also a link right here for where to buy my book in the Rhode Island area. It's a continually evolving list so be sure to check back. But the best way to keep up with me is Facebook / Twitter / Instagram & YouTube!

+ Colin