We’re here to bless and prosper each other.

So this blog has basically become snapchat – who knows which posts I will leave up and take down….

I’ve started screenwriting. It’s silly to think it will amount to anything and I’m not really sure if I want it to, but it is fun. The first idea I had was actually a tribute to my hometown because I have loved and romanticized it my entire life. There are a few distinct types of people in my hometown, and lots of traditions, patterns, stories. You see the same families over and over, but they have a unique commonality that brings them here. The people in my hometown are both pretentious and unassuming, exclusive and inclusive, changing and traditional, smart and self-deprecating. It’s a family-oriented town with lots of government employees. The buildings on Park and 123 alternate between exposed brick and pristine painted white every few years, like clockwork; that would be a simple way to illustrate the passing of years. Vienna has about 30,000 people, so I always felt like I recognized everyone from all the house leagues and travel leagues and switching school pyramids. It’s small enough to easily find your friends, your tribe, but it’s big enough to not know everyone’s business (and clearly misconstrue some). I love the history, the West End cemetery, the old houses, the same groups doing the same things, the high school plays every year, the folklore from the people who were at that one event where that one athlete did that one thing and ended up winning/losing the game/meet/tournament. There are streets called Lover’s Lane and Walnut Lane and they have 100-year-old houses on them- In 1954 Maple Avenue expanded from a dirt road lined with maple trees and Victorian houses to a paved road with no maple trees and no Victorian houses and lots of post-World War II baby boomer families flooded in. It’s had the same cyclical waves of change and growth since then, but when I was growing up it was still a small town where generations stay, including Black families that lived in Vienna since the Civil War. This plot would be an excuse for me to dig really deep into the books I’ve found at the library about it. I once found a book about Vienna that was written by someone who had not been taught to spell or capitalize. It was long and so romantic to me, like reading Huckleberry Finn, except it wasn’t fiction. I have so many little anecdotes, like of the day that Wolf Trap burned down and when they were deciding whether to make Vienna Woods an ice-skating rink or a pool. Unfortunately, I can’t do justice to my story because it needs a linear, measurable plot and I don’t want one for my hometown. I want it to feel immersive, like an ocean, and I don’t think I can do justice to the setting that I love so much, at least for my first one. The few stories from my hometown that resonate with me, I don’t want to touch because they feel too personal. (There is already a movie about Robert Hanssen that they filmed in my hometown, although that’s definitely a different feel). I love my hometown. But I feel like I am trying to play Rachmaninoff with this one and I need to stick with chopsticks.

All the experienced writers say that the enemy of writing is fear. And if you’ve read my blog, you know that I am not afraid of saying something stupid, so this should truly be a cakewalk for me.

But in keeping with the goal of writing a simple, straightforward plot, my next idea is superimposing a modern story onto Empire Records. That movie has a simple fun feel and I have a few ideas. I just don’t know exactly what to do with the scenes with Liv and Gina throwing themselves at Rex Manning. Do those scenes leave you feeling confused too? 🤔🧐 Am I the only one?

There have to be some recent history hidden gems in the venture capital world and I would love to do a movie about a fake kidnapping/murder story with paid actors that is sold to the media. I also love the ancient Hindu epics although they have some very uh, antiquated (offensive) themes. I could do a modern retelling of a Greek Gods story and I honestly like a story with a kid just simply saving money for something he wants all summer long. I like the story of a haunted pool house like at Overlee and I think it would be interesting to write a Truman Show sequel or prequel, but with a focus on the people who set it up. For some reason, I don’t think Hollywood would fund that one… And if no one makes a movie about the ah/em/Johnny Depp trial, we will all be robbed of an incredibly entertaining tv series.

I hope you are having a wonderful week! I’m going to see Spiderman tomorrow and am considering a trip to the beach or New York. xx

Throwback Thursday

This magical angle makes me look much taller than I am. Also, why aren’t giant trebuchets more popular. They are wicked exciting, fun, decisive, reliable, and good for the environment. Perfect for a light-hearted neighborhood prank war.

Baby Shannon in London. circa 2009. We stayed in Queensgate and it was sunny and gorgeous almost every day.

Marina Del Rey in Los Angeles. I stayed in a house that Jack Nicholson used to get trashed at. I crossed that off of my bucket list immediately after adding it.
The prettiest tree. ily California

Hope you’re on your way to a good weekend.

Small Talk, Medium-Sized Talk, Big Talk

Miss you, SF /\

Fam /\

BIFF /\

Michigan crew, celebrating being done with a really hard class. /\

Utah /\

Recent things & thoughts:

  • Currently am watching Under the Banner of Heaven. It’s intriguing. Andrew Garfield is a good actor.
  • The Supreme Court is freaking me out right now. I know the founding fathers intended to leave the Constitution open-ended, but that leaves so many opportunities for opinions that do not seem tethered to it.

Hope you’re finding and feeling some peace and love.

Semi-conductors are Cool & What-the-Heck Gas Prices

I’m working at Ford! And they are working on getting past the semi-conductor shortage. My sister worked on semiconductors out of college – she wore that cool bunny suit 😅- and she has a lot of expertise but she can’t even begin to describe the complexity. Each plant costs 29.5 billion. I’ve been spending all of my googles looking at different aspects of this problem and finding young people who know a lot on the topic. It’s interesting that it’s being taught in some high schools now.

I also have a question about inflation that I would like to ask a person (not the internet)- was cutting off the supply to the Canadian pipeline a cause of inflation? Is that the main reason that gas prices and everything else are so high? I ask that because I am really invested in ending carbon dependency (and hoping that Ford continues its hard pivot to electric), but I wonder if instead of cutting off the supply of carbon, we could focus on finding a replacement first…? Am I wrong?

Agency, Cinema, Art

Over winter break I watched a movie about Ancient Greece and one of the points it made was that democracy was the genesis of theater. This is because democracy was essentially the invention of choice and theater is based on choices that characters make – in thinking, in words, in action. Before democracy, the Greeks believed that the gods carried the fate of the future and everything was predetermined. But with democracy came choice and with choice came complex thinking, characters, characteristics, natural consequences. You bear the fruit of your own choices. In this new world, people began to create their own destinies with their agency. And those decisions create the intrigue.

Also, the idea in theater, and in cinema is that truth lies in multiple perspectives, which is another concept in democracy. The most powerful person does not own the narrative – the truth lies in multiple perspectives.

I have been thinking a lot about art partly because I am hungry for it and maybe slightly jealous of people who get to do it. I guess I am closer than I ever dreamed I would be, to screenwriting and acting. I really liked Ethan Hawke’s discussion of it here. I remember one of my first loves – I wrote tons of melodramatic, obsessive poems about my bursting heart and the fire inside me, haha.

My blog is certainly a form of release and creative expression, and I crave that so so much. I like my graphic art and my pictures but I think I like words and writing and giving thought to other people more. Sometimes I think I like the audience and the energy of it.

I miss going to theaters and laughing and crying with other people in the audience.

When I was little I was in a few plays and they were so fun (until I developed crippling anxiety and then it wasn’t fun). Being in a play is more fun than watching. Every time I leave a play in the theater, I think to myself, That was amazing. And the only possible way of enjoying it more would be to actually be in it.

But my question is– if art is just meant to be enjoyed by the artist, and it’s not meant to defeat any critics or prove any victory, then why show it to anyone? Why not just do it for yourself and love it permanently without facing anyone’s criticism? You don’t get to decide if someone else likes it or not, so why not just love it privately?

Ethan Hawke gives a good answer.

I also think there’s something liberating, cathartic about expressing yourself and telling another’s story in a public forum.

But how do actors feel when everyone says they bombed? Do they love their craft just as much afterward?

I once read that Johnny Depp never watches his movies, and if there is one actor who consistently looks like he is having fun on screen – it’s him. So maybe it really is the process and not the result that counts. Like honestly, if no one likes your work except you — so what. Who cares. right?

In other news, Michigan announced on Monday that we don’t have to wear masks on campus and it feels good but I also feel like I’m naked. Hope you’re well.

Surprise Weekend

Waiting for Douglas to fly in

We flew home to surprise my dad for his birthday this weekend. He had no idea! I rang the doorbell and we hid down the sidewalk. His face, when we ran up the path and yelled out ‘Surprise!’, was so SO shocked! I mean really shocked. He was so happy and a little emotional. We don’t all get to see each other often so It was really fun. Hope you’re having a great start to your week.

Don’t Look Up

Spoilers!

Don’t Look Up is definitely worth a watch. I thought the acting in it was stellar and the movie made some apt observations in the form of amusing satire: The general public is fickle, uninformed, cruel, with a pathetically short attention span. Politicians want to make everything into a merchandise-selling Broadway promotional. Most of the character’s motives are amusingly pathetic. Don’t Look Up condensed and delivered an incredible range of observations about American society in a funny way.

The movie has some weaknesses though; especially lacking in it are depth and structure. There were a few parts that had that depth — like when Dr. Mindy is getting out of his car and the whole street stops to look at the comet. I felt like that was a moment that was intended to be profound. But at that moment, I still hadn’t recovered from the satiring laughter that the movie evoked in so many other places. It required a bit too much cognitive and emotional dissonance. Most of the writing was so upbeat and jestful that when it sought to come back to earth and convey the gravity of the situation, it couldn’t. The plot felt like the house being carried away by balloons in the movie Up. Combining satire and a penetrating message seems perhaps an impossible task, but I definitely think this topic warrants a deep message. Although the nature scenes were beautiful, I didn’t feel like there was a penetrating message to the movie except for laughing at how stupid and obtuse people are.

Perhaps as a satire, the character development was not meant to be prominent, and apart from revealing a few layers of Dr. Mindy, Yule, Kate, and Brie, there wasn’t much. The plot also didn’t seem to have a lot of common threads throughout it. Different from a finely crafted show like Ted Lasso, It felt a little bombastic and perhaps unintentional. It felt like a song with too many key changes. I read that the cast was allowed to improvise as much as possible, and that made for some incredible scenes, but the overall movie felt a little disjointed. Good paragraphs but a jumpy essay.

I am a firm believer that only good movies deserve any constructive criticism, and in spite of my complaints, this is definitely a good movie. Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Rob Morgan, Timothee Chalamet, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Mark Rylance all deliver exceptional performances. Rob Morgan, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jennifer Lawrence made a great trio. The scenes I’ll remember are when Dr. Mindy and Brie are getting to know each other– Brie talks about her socialite life and Dr. Mindy chooses to reciprocate by talking about when his pet died. Who knew Leo could be so funny? The oval office scenes were also apt and funny. I loved Dr. Mindy’s family. During Yule’s delightful, lovable semi-proposal in the car I was wondering to myself… in real life, are these actors as intriguing, charming, and normal as these characters are scripted to be? I have decided to believe that indeed, they are.

I found myself laughing at Meryl Streep as well as Jonah Hill and the accuracy of the rallies. I thoroughly enjoyed Hollywood’s take on Elon Musk/Jeff Bezos/Mark Zuckerberg. The nature scenes were poignant, beautiful; overall the movie held my attention. I know the reviews on this movie are very divided, but I give it either a B+ or A-. I liked it. But even if you don’t like it, you’ll remember it.

In keeping with my “Only criticize decent movies” policy, I won’t be delving into The Unforgivable. Honestly, it is just too awful to even know where to begin. It tries to make sense of something that feels way too contrived. I also won’t offer any constructive criticism of The Guilty but I will offer a quick recap of it: A woman who doesn’t take her anxiety medication decides to mutilate her newborn infant’s stomach. Makes total sense, right? Then her husband who is a convicted felon tries to bring her back to the mental institution for people who cut their babies into small pieces, and she calls 911 to tell a remarkably incompetent individual that she is being kidnapped. Her husband somehow forgets to call back and explain what’s going on. The only constructive criticism I’ll offer for both of these movies is that they each most certainly deserve their own Mystery Science Theater or Riff tracks. Although I do believe Hollywood is a cesspool of favors, quid pro quo, and connections(think Emily in Paris being nominated for an Emmy- only explanation I can think of), I also think there must be some sort of tenure or insane level of job security that allows these screenwriters to continue funding plotless, unrelatable movies that are consumed by the general public.

In other non-movie news, I tested positive for Covid and spent quite a bit of last week sneezing. I don’t feel super sick, but I do feel confused about how cautious I should be.

I hope you’re having a bright, delightful start to 2022. And I hope the year is filled with healthy progress and relationships for you.

Digital Design

One thing I’ve learned in my dive into tech is that the world will not slow down. The increase in demand for entertainment, cloud storage, big data, predictive analytics will only continue to grow. If you’ve got the luxuries of time and health, it makes sense to learn a new software, programming language, or both. Also, start your kids! They will likely surpass your (and my) technical skills by the time they are six.

One place that makes for a good start is Scratch. It’s a simple coding site built for kids. It’s actually pretty fun and the concepts in it are great for understanding the concepts of coding. Sketch is also a fun drawing app. It’s similar to Adobe Illustrator but simpler.

If you’re looking for programming inspiration, take a look at Codepen. And seriously, do not be ashamed of finding a simple program and copying it verbatim, letter by letter. Programming is really hard, and just exposing yourself to it still counts as progress. Brackets is a good editor.

Some cool websites to get you excited about digital design include bestfolios, httpster, awwwards, dribbble, and behance, among others.

Thank you so much for reading! I hope these inspire you and that you’re enjoying the Olympics.

Shannon

Food Celebrations: Homecooked, Family foods, and the Grateful Crow

Here are a few of my culinary adventures as of late.

Can you have too many pictures of food?

Above is the Roasted Beet Caprese from the Grateful Crow in Chelsea. Absolutely delicious. The cheese drops on each beet have the most amazing herbs in them. I mixed them into every bite.

Below, Harvey’s burger and truffle fries. The sauce was sweet with a kick. I am kind of a wimp about spicy sauces ha…so one bite was enough for me! Not pictured is all the water I am making Harvey drink. 🚰

Fun fact about Chelsea is that Jeff Daniels owns a couple of restaurants in the area. Apparently, he is originally from there. We will have to go back for more deliciousness.

In other culinary adventures, my sister-in-law is an amazing cook and she totally spoiled us when we went to her place for Thanksgiving. Below are some of the amazing foods she and my nieces made for us in the non-Turkey meal. I’m going to ask her permission to see if I can share some of her other recipes with you. She is such a good cook and she works really hard to plan ahead and keep healthy foods available.

Everything below was amazing, but the real show-stopper in my opinion was the stuffed mushrooms at the bottom of this picture. I love mushrooms.

Also, not to brag, but I totally put the mozzarella balls on the Caprese skewers.

Apple Galette below.

Hope you’re having a wonderful start to your week!

x

Shannon

The Latest

How are you! I got to meet my newest niece and nephew this past weekend and I am over the moon happy. My niece is in the princess phase. Truly everything must be a princess.

Isn’t she a doll? Here are a few more pictures from the weekend.

Our little clan made gingerbread houses and gingerbread men(pictured below).

SIL and niece:

My niece is as tall as my sister. She just won’t stop growing.

In other news, I am so in love with Ted Lasso. I like the show, but I LOVE the person. Hope you’re having a great week. Be curious, not judgmental.