Expanding On My Happy List

As always, I have a lot on my mind, and today I’m not entirely sure what I feel like talking about here, so I was thinking I’d expound upon some of my happy list from yesterday.

  • getting people to talk about their passions
      • The Mind Reels was initially started because we realized that no one was really talking about the things we loved (as far as TV and movies and the like), so we decided to talk about them ourselves. That quickly turned to podcasting, because talking is faster than writing, sometimes. And within weeks we were conducting our first actual interview with a film director! I think that was the start of things changing for us, because that director (Jeremy Lalonde) hooked us up with interviews for some of his cast, and one of them (the wonderful Mary Krohnert) put us in touch with Lost Girl cast member, Rick Howland. From there, we spent much of our time pursuing interviews with people we wanted to talk to, who were creating the content we love.
      • I’m not sure when it happened, exactly, but at some point, interviews started coming to us. This was different in that it was often for projects and/or people that we might never had been made aware of otherwise. That new aspect added an additional level of excitement to each interview, because not only did it expand on our awareness of content we might enjoy, but it also gave us the opportunity to create a casual, comfortable and fun atmosphere for our guests, which allowed them to open up more about their passions in general. Instead of just asking the same rote questions that go hand-in-hand with every industry interview, we started getting people to talk about themselves, as well as their projects, and that’s made all the difference, I find.
      • I love the way a person will light up when they talk about the things they love, things that interest them, and things that challenge them to be more. It brings out a side of a person that is among the best of human qualities (and we really don’t have very many, so I treasure the ones I find), and that I play a part in bringing that part of them to light makes me feel kinda special, too.
  • being around non-human animals
      • I mean, there is just something so pure about non-humans. Not always “good”, I guess, but it’s like they are on a whole different level from us. They aren’t calculating which foot to put forward, which face to wear, nor do they edit what they communicate in the hopes of not offending anyone’s delicate sensibilities. If my cat, Kate, didn’t like you, she had no qualms about peeing on your shoe. There’s no fake-ness with animals – if you are paying attention and taking the time to know and understand them, you know exactly where you stand. You also learn not to put what you think they are thinking ahead of what they are actually thinking; you learn to admit that you don’t know. At least I do. I admit I don’t know much at all, but I feel like that leaves me more open to learning, as compared to some people who think they know more than they actually do.
      • Anyway, for me, one of the things I love about being around animals – aside from all the love itself that they sometimes give out – is that I don’t have to pretend, either. I just have to show up and be present, and they expect very little from me beyond that. Actually, some don’t even expect that much. Some just want to be fed, and some just want to be left alone. To be able to inhabit a space with another individual who asks you for nothing is really quite liberating. I get to be in their presence, I get to be myself, and things can just be quiet for a while. That they usually don’t care whether I am there or not is also quite humbling. It’s a good reminder that we are not always the shit. We go through our lives looking for validation and attention and for others to just see us and recognize that we are there – we want to be seen. Other animals, for the most part, really don’t give a crap about such seemingly superficial needs. They just are, and the idea that there are times when I can just be, as well, is incredibly appealing to me.

That’s it for now, as I have to get back to work. Maybe I’ll cover some of the other stuff tomorrow.

Oh, and just because it’s still cool to me (and falls nicely into my own personal quest for attention and validation), it was one year ago today that my status as a Guinness World Record holder was posted on the GWR website, and we went public with the announcement of our success!

Stagnating

Hot Docs (Toronto’s amazing documentary film festival) is getting underway tonight, and yesterday evening, Tim and I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing some of the ladies responsible for the opening night film, The League of Exotique Dancers – director Rama Rau, and Legends of Burlesque Camille 2000 and Judith Stein.

Now, let’s face it, as soon as we heard we’d gotten this interview, Tim and I both knew it would be a lot of fun. What we couldn’t have predicted was exactly how amazing it would be! You can see our ridiculous chat with those wonderful women here.

Our second interview of the evening was also fun and amazing, but in a different way. The thing is, though, it made both of us want more. We left the hotel last night on an absolute high, having just spent an hour or so doing something we both love, and meeting some incredible individuals in the meantime. You just can’t beat that – the energy, the laughter, the moments of connection, conversation and shared experiences.

The handshakes that turn to hugs.

I think I can say that, for both of us, the evening strengthened our resolve to get things moving forward with the Mind Reels again. Or even get them moving at all, at this point, as we’ve been pretty stagnant for much of 2016 so far. I mean, we’ve been doing things. Tim’s posting on the blog every day at least once, and we’ve done some on-location interviews, like the ones last night, but they are always for events – like Comicon, the CSA’s and now Hot Docs. We haven’t gotten back to doing regular studio interviews or anything like that for a long time, and we have yet to really strategize some of the other features we are hoping to add to our brand, let alone implement them.

In other words, every time I think it might be time to get off the pot, I realize that I still want to shit.

So, operating under the hope that this feeling of resolve lasts past, like, today, here are some of the things we have in the revised playbook:

  • regular weekly video content – at least once a week, and while not always interviews per se, the hope is to have as many guests as possible, and some different fun things rotated in once a month or so. The main goal, though, is to establish some sort of routine wherein we are posting video content at least once a week. We need to get that going and stabilize it a bit so that we can branch out more in the direction we want to go
  • build our reach and fanbase – we want to get our stuff out there more, and try to break out of our circle of friends to grab attention from strangers around the world. This all started in part because no one was really covering the things we liked in the way we would have liked, so we started doing it ourselves. For sure there are others out there who just don’t know about us yet, but who would appreciate some of the things we’re doing, and thee ways in which we are doing them
  • having gotten our feet wet moderating some celebrity panels at Hamilton Comic Con last year, we’re hoping to do the same this year, as well as branch out to other conventions in the area. The more we do it, the better we get at it, and having the addition of a live audience to interact with only heightens the fun, really! It definitely changes the dynamic each time, and that’s a challenge I want to keep taking on, for however long they let me!
  • If we can get some sort of regular show format going, and build our reach more, then the eventual goal is to launch a Patreon page and try to start bringing in a bit of cash each month, even if it’s just enough to cover some of our brand-related expenses which are currently all out-of-pocket. I mean, I’m not foolish enough to hope that we could be like the two teenaged boys on there who pull in over $10k per month by making silly YouTube videos of them eating various foods and rating them on a scale of sour-ness, for example. But at the same time, why couldn’t we create content that people want to see enough to throw $5 a month our way, in return for said content and some pretty excellent rewards? That being said, though, while it’d be wonderful to make a living wage doing something we enjoy (see my previous post about adulting), I certainly don’t expect to. But I would love to have a little help paying for some of the things we use regularly as it is, and upgrade some other things to make our passion project even better than it already is.

So we’ll see how things go. Once Hot Docs is over, I have a list of first steps to take, and we’re hoping to set up a meeting with our producer soon to go over a few ideas, as well. Once the flush of excitement from this week and next wears off, we might go back to stagnating again, I know.

But, then again, we might not.

Adulting

Some of the things about the documentary I watched the other day have stayed with me. That’s usually a sign of a good film, but in this case it’s also a sign of an interesting person. The film is called Wizard Mode, and its protagonist, Robert Gagno, is a young man living on the Autism spectrum, who also happens to be a world class pinball champion. As a child, he went from struggling to communicate at all, to discovering pinball, to now having a ton to say. That alone is pretty remarkable, seeing the changes from footage of Robert as a youngster to watching him navigate the world as a young adult. He expresses himself very well in the film – better than many of us who aren’t on the spectrum, actually – and some of the thoughts and ideas he puts out there are fascinating to me, mostly because they mirror so many of my own thought processes.

Robert is quite self-aware, and constantly questioning things – his feelings, his dreams, his reactions to the world around him. Why he thinks and does and feels the things he does, and which things he would like to change in order to achieve something he wants. That someone who has so much else on his plate to deal with – the expression of emotion, for example, is something we often take for granted, but that he is constantly thinking about and working to improve – he appears to have a better handle on how to human than most of us. Robert is always analyzing things – himself, other people, and the world around him. I felt so drawn to him watching the film that I found some of the things he talked about to be eerily uncanny, as the same things have passed through my mind, and yet I’m been unable to express them as well as he does, thus far.

One such comment could have been almost easily laughed off, had it not been for the way he worded it. I mean, how many times have my friends and I joked about how “adulting is hard” and not wanting to grow up because not having responsibilities is way more fun. I still collect toys, for pete’s sake. I prefer movies and TV shows that skew younger than I am. And I still enjoy reading books I read as a child and young adult, often more than I enjoy reading books written for grown-ups.

It sort of even explains why I also have a hard time writing books for grown-ups. I have so very little experience actually being one, and you’re supposed to write what you know, after all. In my head, I am nowhere near as old as I am in my body.

And while many of my friends have gotten married and had kids and careers, many as well have not. Those are the ones I hang out with most often, because they still can. Marriage and kids and careers looks like it takes a toll on social time, really, and while I’ve never been a partier, I still like to spend quality time with certain key people.

Anyway, it’s been a running joke for, like, 20 years or so. In fact, I’m pretty sure that, at larger family gatherings, at least, I’d still be seated at the kids’ table, simply because I don’t have any children of my own, and am therefore not viewed even by family as any kind of actual adult.

And that is mostly okay with me, because many of the things I associate with being an adult are not things I want for myself, anyway. The times it bothers me most, I think, is when I can’t be an equal to a friend I want to be there more for. I don’t drive, so I’m zero help to someone who needs a ride somewhere. I can’t get you home safe when you need me to, and that bothers me.

But I make an amazing passenger, because I will never criticise your driving. I may have asked my brother to slow down on hills and such once in awhile, but that was because I was getting nauseous, and not because I felt he wasn’t in control of the vehicle. I’ve never felt like -I- was in control of the vehicle, though, so I think it’s best for all of us if I remain a passenger. Plus, my reflexes are not dependable at all. Stupid body/brain disconnect.

So, this kid, Robert, this young guy – he’s sifting through the job market, as we all do, and at one point muses, “Does growing up mean you have to stop having fun and doing the things you love?”

And I thought, “Yeah, kid, I guess it kinda does.”

It made me a little sad. A tad sad, you might say.

Obviously, growing up doesn’t mean you have to completely give up doing things you love. You’ll even find new things you don’t even know you love yet. But in terms of global adult population, the vast majority of us aren’t doing what we love as much as we wish we could. Many of us don’t even know what we love, not with the same degree of passion that Robert has for pinball.

Many people have jobs that they love, but most of those aren’t even a person’s absolute first choice for what they want to be doing with their days. It’s fantastic as far as jobs go, but that’s not the same as having a passion for something. Many people have jobs that they enjoy okay, and they pay their bills, and still make time for passion projects on the side. If staying home and spending time with your family could be a job, many would do that. Many wouldn’t, but that’s a different situation.

The simple fact, though, is that life slips by, and most of us aren’t spending the majority of it pursuing things we are passionate about. Sometimes when you do, the passion dies, and then you’re stuck looking for something else you can love just as much. But I think for most people, there’s just never enough time to focus on what you love, and that’s kind of sad, in a way.

The good news is that, when you do find that thing or those things, and you make time for them, that time becomes more precious. It becomes time well spent, and best spent, and contributes to your growth as a person. You value it more, because you know you’ll never get enough of it, let alone too much. It becomes something you share with others, be it people with the same passion for it, or people with a passion for seeing you passionate about something. Either way, it connects you to the world a little more.

I guess I just think it’s sad that the adults who came before us made a world wherein there is so little place for passion, and excitement and fun. Growing up may not mean you have to give those things up for good, but it does usually mean you have to curb it back and save it for special occasions.

Growing up usually means that has to be enough.