The Cavalry = YOU!!


(clip from Weird Al’s UHF (1989) )

Damon happy!

Hello all!!

Damon here with a call-to-action! We have two days left in our Kickstarter campaign to make the Red Dirt International Film Festival a reality (formerly FILMish). So far we’re at 67% of our goal.

thermoThe truth is, if we can get 50 people to each pledge $10 (about the cost of a festival event ticket), then we’re in! Or only 25 to pledge $20…The key is that there’s a short number of people needed to be our angels of this campaign, and you can be one of them! All levels of pledges receive great rewards (i.e. – I get video-recorded pies to-the-face with donors’ names on them, you get free festival tickets, awesome behind-the-scenes fest footage, exclusive party access, et cetera). This is a one-time drive to establish our permanent festival legitimacy with the festival clearinghouse, Withoutabox, and once we’re in we’ll be able to make this an annual tradition!

If you’ve ever purchased something on Amazon, you’ll find it even-easier to donate to our cause! And considering you can donate as-little as a $1, there is nothing to stop you from taking the length of a song to help us in this final push to bring more culture, education, charity, and fun to central Oklahoma and the arts world in-general! So don’t wait, expecting someone else to jump-in; good karma is waiting for you!

Check out this front-page article from last Friday’s local paper, the Stillwater NewsPress providing coverage about the campaign, and don’t forget to “like” Red Dirt on Facebook for regular-updates!

(click to enlarge, or go here for the digital copy)

newsAlso, be sure to check out the Payne County CASA website; they’re the organisation we’re donating 100% of our Fun-Run marathon proceeds to! CASA, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate, is a nonprofit organization advocating for the best interest of abused and neglected children involved in the court system. We can think of no better local cause to contribute to during the course of the Red Dirt Festival!!

CASAFrom Damon and Marisa, THANK YOU ALL for your support in making this a REALITY!


ish goes all FALL! (decor, DIY, recipes & movies )

Here at ish we love fall!  So we thought we would take some of our favorite fall foods and ideas and share them!

Who doesn’t love to adorn everything with harvest decorations?  Here are some of our favorites:

Country Living has this great idea! Take any long tray or box and add lovely fall scented candles, some gourds, leaves and pine-cones and you have a beautiful tribute to fall!

The candle wrapped in old sweater pieces is the epitome of fall!  Add a leaf for even more flair. This idea comes from the folks over at HG.

Fall foliage wrapped candlesticks!  So simple and elegant! We found this on Martha Stewart’s site.

Decorating pumpkins can be a great way to add fun and whimsy to fall!  Pumpkins aren’t just plain old orange anymore either!  They can be painted, glittered, or decorated to fit any room in your home! Better Homes and Gardens has some fantastic ideas!

Decorating front doors and porches is a blast and it looks good through all of the fall season! We love the red leaves around the door! Check out this awesome site to see 90 doorway ideas from simple to ornate!

This is a fun craft to do with little ones.  They can help with the whole craft and then watch the birds enjoy their hard work!

Cheese Ravioli with Sauteed Butternut Squash and Thyme

We had an ish dinner and made this delectable fall dish!  YUMMY! It’s easy to make and delicious!

How about a cosy evening at home? Here are three perfect Fall films to really set the mood for the season:

Babette’s Feast (1987)

Some movies can only be described as delicious. In Babette’s Feast, a woman flees the French civil war and lands in a small seacoast village in Denmark, where she comes to work for two spinsters, devout daughters of a puritan minister. After many years, Babette unexpectedly wins a lottery, and decides to create a real French dinner–which leads the sisters to fear for their souls. Joining them for the meal will be a Danish general who, as a young soldier, courted one of the sisters, but she turned him away because of her religion. The village elders all resolve not to enjoy the meal, but can their moral fiber resist the sensual pleasure of Babette’s cooking? Babette’s Feast deservedly won the 1987 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. This lovely movie is impeccably simple, yet its slender narrative contains a wealth of humor, melancholy, and hope. –Bret Fetzer

Sleepy Hollow (2000)

Master storyteller Tim Burton (Batman, Edward Scissorhands) weaves an eerie, enchanting version of this classic tale of horror. Johnny Depp is Ichabod Crane, an eccentric investigator determined to stop the murderous Headless Horseman. Christina Ricci is Katrina Van Tassel, the beautiful and mysterious girl with secret ties to the supernatural terror.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

No film better utilizes Audrey Hepburn’s flighty charm and svelte beauty than this romantic adaptation of Truman Capote’s novella. Hepburn’s urban sophisticate Holly Golightly, an enchanting neurotic living off the gifts of gentlemen, is a bewitching figure in designer dresses and costume jewelry. George Peppard is her upstairs neighbor, a struggling writer and “kept” man financed by a steely older woman (Patricia Neal). His growing friendship with the lonely Holly soon turns to love and threatens the delicate balance of both of their compromised lives. Taking liberties with Capote’s bittersweet story, director Blake Edwards and screenwriter George Axelrod turn New York into a city of lovers and create a poignant portrait of Holly, a frustrated romantic with a secret past and a hidden vulnerability. Composer Henry Mancini earned Oscars for the hit song “Moon River” and his tastefully romantic score. The only sour note in the whole film is Mickey Rooney’s demeaning performance as the apartment’s Japanese manager, an offensively overdone stereotype even in 1961. The rest of the film has weathered the decades well. Edwards’ elegant yet light touch, Axelrod’s generous screenplay, and Hepburn’s mix of knowing experience and naiveté combine to create one of the great screen romances and a refined slice of high society bohemian chic. –Sean Axmaker

Happy Friday everyone, and Happy Fall!!

Art, and its purpose!

Hey Marisa!!

Here’s a topic VERY near and dear to my heart. As you know, my Master’s degree is in Art, and though film and video are my main media, I love to engage in all artforms, and also in appreciating it. One of the core topics we covered in seminar was “What defines art?” We debated almost every conceivable medium in light of this question, from cooking, to dance, video games, to pornography, to temporal works.

For most people the answer to this question simply means that a landscape painting or cheery, nostalgic view of a yesteryear-that-never-was, which just happens to have a colour scheme matching the room decor, is art because it can be hung above the couch and “bring the room together”. Certainly illustrative paintings of this sort have their place in the commercial realm of interior design, but the conclusion I came to about what defines art is quite different.

I say the conclusion that ‘I’ came to, for we never did hit upon any real answer in either seminar or Philosophy of Art, nor do I believe it’s any more possible to answer that than it is to definitively answer, “What is the meaning of life?”. But in my own opinion, art is merely a creative act (or the result of one) that makes you think or feel.

The best art in the world, whether it be a movie, song, sculpture, dance, et cetera, is that which gives you a sort visceral reaction, but even moreso if it makes you stop to question, to consider, to think. For some this may mean the piece may offend certain sensibilities, which then forces the patron to stop and evaluate why they’re having the knee-jerk reaction they are – what does it say about their life experiences or beliefs that a creative act on display has suddenly made them question the nature expressed through the piece? Or even better yet, once the patron has then read the artist’s statement accompanying the work, does the material now make more sense in the assumed context? Does this new understanding enhance the appreciation of the work, or does it devalue it? Sometimes this is especially true if the work is more about the statement being made rather than in the object’s execution of technical expertise.

As I’ve noted, this is an endless debate, but hopefully this discussion will help encourage our readers to occasional stop to question the intent of a piece, even if it is seemingly an innocuous landscape or sentimental painting, and even go so far to read a bit of the artist’s description to assess the intended context if it’s one that’s particularly moving. A pleasing painting (or movie, et cetera) is fine on its own, but if the artist has ALSO infused it with some rich tapestry of history, political motivation, religious influence, et al, then it’s something that goes from being merely a shiny curio, to a living, breathing document of contemplation that can allow us to really converse with our own minds about how we react to the world and its inhabitants that surround us, in all their myriad forms and uniqueness!

Hey Damon!

I love how two people can look at the same work of art and have completely different reactions to it based on their individual tastes and life experiences. I also like how art in its various forms, allows us to express ourselves and many times heal emotional pain.

Being creative is something that gives me some of my greatest joys in life. Dreaming up ideas and putting them into action is the part of art I enjoy most. Art allows us to show others how we are viewing the world in the moment or it can take us out our the moment altogether into some fantastical place.

I hope that whatever people’s creative and artistic endeavors, they will use them to inspire, shine, and heal.


Need help manifesting through visualization? The Manifester program helps make it easy: Click Here!

Relax this summer with great flicks..old and new

Hey Marisa!!

Happy Friday! Even though late Fall/early Winter is the best season for movies, we both thought it’d be good to discuss movies, in a different way than I recently discussed them, to take advantage of kids being out of school. This post is more purely about the fun and inspiration we’ve each received through films, and you’d asked that we break it down by the decades we’ve lived through and cover films produced during each one. I mentioned that I had no real attachment to movies decade-by-decade, and what of the movies I loved while growing up that hail from the 1920s – 1970s?

So, I’ve broken it down thusly: First I’ll discuss some of my favourites in order of release from that first century of the medium, and then hand it off to you to break yours down by decade (80s, 90s, 2000s).If anyone would like further information about any title, just refer to THE ultimate film resource: The Internet Movie Database

So, here we go with a SMALL FRACTION of my recommendations; everyone who knows me knows that my favourite film is Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), tied with the six-film Star Wars saga (1977-2005), but what follows here are just what goes just up to the mid-1970s, with roughly only one film per decade (except for the 70s, which is still the best decade for the medium yet!) :

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919)

Metropolis (1928)

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Citizen Kane (1941)

The Night of the Hunter (1955)

The Time Machine (1960)

La Dolce Vita (1960)

The Godfather I and II (1972), (1974)

Nashville (1975)

Bonus round for “fun” movies:
Monty Python & The Holy Grail (1975)

The Blues Brothers (1980)

Strange Brew (1983)

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1988) / Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1992)

Young Einstein (1988)


Hey Damon!

Ok, this was hard! I thought of a lot of movies from my childhood as well as movies I’ve enjoyed as an adult.  I think it’s fun to remember some of these movies I loved as a kid.  I think I’ll watch several of them with my kids this summer!  I hope everyone has a good time and adds to our list their favorites as well.  This summer gather around your family, significant other, friends or take some alone time, and relax and watch a movie!

The Little Princess (1939)

Gone with the Wind (1939)

Casablanca (1942)

The Last Starfighter (1984)

The Goonies (1985)

D.A.R.Y.L. (1985)

Anne of Green Gables/Anne of Avonlea (1985/1987)

Space Camp (1986)

The Flight of the Navigator (1986)

Top Gun (1986)

The Princess Bride (1987)

The Mighty Ducks (1992)

The Cutting Edge (1992)

The Sandlot (1993)

Groundhog Day (1993)

Much Ado About Nothing (1993)

The Mummy (1999)

Remember the Titans (2000)

Moulin Rouge! (2001)

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)

The Guardian (2006)

Star Trek (2009)

Red (2010)


Hey Marisa,

Okay, let me just say that your list really surprised me! You’ve told me I know you better than anyone ever has, yet I’d never once heard you mention The Cutting Edge; in fact, I’d never even heard of it! You know I value my near-encyclopaedic knowledge of film, and so I asked you about this one, to which you replied it’s your absolute favourite! Apparently you’d gotten so burned-out on watching it, and you assumed that I was surely familiar with it, you never mentioned it. Now I know a lot more about it than I did, and am set to watch it tomorrow (Tues. the 19th).

I think it’s fun that you mention a lot of young adult movies from the era, such as The Sandlot. I always picture you growing up, and try to visualise you watching stuff – it’s good to get a better idea now of what a few more of those titles are. I think it’s funny that you looked at my list and claim never to have heard of them, but I know for a fact that you’ve heard of them all (I mentioned the first four in the first class), and you have the last two in your possession at-present (time to watch them soon!). Night of the Hunter is the only wild card in that bunch.

How have you never heard of The Cutting Edge??? This has been interesting.  I figured that you would list a million movies!  I had a good time doing this.  It reminded me of a lot of fun times.  My mom was really good about getting us movies to watch on the hot summer days in-between playing on the slip-n-slide and riding our bikes.  She would cut up apples and cube cheese and put them in a cup and we’d watch fun movies in the hot afternoons.  I hope that this list will remind some people of their favorite movies and they will re-watch them and share them with others!  Happy Summer everyone!


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Power in the Shadows

Hey Marisa!!

I’d like to take time today to discuss something different than planned, which was to be a resource list I’d created of the best-of-the-best self-help/inspirational materials that’ve gotten me on my feet the past four years, but decided instead to table that until next week. Today I feel so moved to discuss my primary passion, beyond that of healing and making a positive difference in the world; that is the nature of cinema – this is a discussion of why I do what I do (as a filmmaker/visual-artist/film professor):

First of all, I’d like to address something about the medium of film: it’s the most powerful medium within the arts by virtue of combining ALL other media: sculpture (set design), theatre (the proscenium framing, the lighting, blocking, and acting), music, editing (unique to the form, but based on written grammatical concepts), dance, fictional archetypal storytelling, singing, drawing and animation, computer arts, et cetera.

Film is powerful enough to have both started and quelled riots, saving many lives through informing, teaching moral lessons, and inspiring masses onto greatness. It even helped spark World War II when Hitler (whose favourite films were Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937) and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927) ) recognised that the medium was such a consequential tool that he, through Joseph Geobbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany, established the film division in order to sell a brand of propaganda that would brainwash millions of the new Nazi Regime’s significance in the world.

If one studies the artistic triumph of the Nazi’s use of the art-form, young female filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will (1935), you can see it’s a textbook case of how subliminal the medium is in effecting an emotional response from the viewer: camera angles, screen direction, the way sound and music is manipulated, the style and choice of edits, et cetera, all collaborate to have convinced so many that the next world villains had a legitimate, and worse, pressing cause, as a prime example of film’s ability to infiltrate our very core.

Brain science tells us that our subconscious mind, which is responsible for our dreaming, repressed memories, and unconscious motivations, cannot differentiate between reality and the dream state. In effect, to become absorbed in a film is to have lived it. Eastern Orthodox Christians, rather than believing in the Western Catholic concept of transubstantiation, wherein the bread and wine during communion actually transmutes into THE physical manifestation of Christ’s body once taken into our mouths, believe in something similar in that they pray to hand-crafted icon-paintings of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and/or the saints. They follow that during intercession to these images, it temporarily opens a direct portal to these individuals to hear and receive the prayer, much like an open frame to another dimensional reality.

What does all this have to do with inspiration, shining, and healing? I’ll hit upon that in a bit, but first a bit of clarification: I tend to follow the more spiritual concept of both creating and receiving in the filmmaking/viewing process. Some filmmakers like Alejandro Jodorowsky specifically make movies to serve as a spiritual experience. Film for me is vitally-important as a communal experience; every time you watch the same film in a different setting, it takes on a different mood or sensibility, and how an audience’s collective energy builds around a film’s moments has much to do with our enjoyment of it.

There’ve been films I’ve hated upon release in the theatre, only to give them another chance at home on a small screen and instead loved them, and vice-versa. And like those within the Christian Orthodoxy, I believe that allowing our subconscious to interface with the projected archetypes on screen is a form of spiritual meditation. Some people meditate while sitting in a lotus position, eyes closed; some by running, some by driving; some by gardening or hard labour or exercise routines.

I do all these, but the most important to me is meditation via the experience of getting lost in the manufactured world of cinema, which unlike the harsh video-ness of television (running 30 frames per second), has traditionally been captured at 24 frames per second, which is most akin to replicating the way we “see” while dreaming. By watching waking dreams, we are able to consciously explore our reactions to events and archetypal themes and characters (those common to all people and cultures throughout history); the ancient Greek philosopher Plato believed there were only roughly seven stories in existence, replicated time and again in differing ways, and 20th Century psychiatrist Carl Jung identified 32 character types that appear time and again (the mentor, the hero, the wicked stepmother, et al).

How we react to these situations and characters gives us much to ponder, about our selves, our world, and those we interact with. Our relatively new medium of cinema is not unlike Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, which described everyone’s uniquely-different reaction to the same ancient shadow play on cave walls since the dawn of civilisation.

So what does all this have to do with inspiration, shining, and healing? While wars, revolutions, and riots have been stirred up by this tool, think of all the good, and the potential for good that exists within its framework: inspirational films have set people onto new and higher paths; socially-conscious documentary films have changed the landscape of politics, repealed hurtful old regimes, and brought awareness to the masses of an injustice or unforeseen danger.

For me, the films of the aforementioned Jodorowsky changed my life in late Dec. 2007, and the film John Rambo (aka Rambo IV) (2008) was so inciting in its imagery about the horrors of present-day Burma that it brought me to such tearful emotion I began to volunteer my time, efforts, and money to assist the persecuted peoples there; who’d have expected that from a typical entertainment “blockbuster” film designed mainly for entertainment? Film can entertain surely, which is its primary-existence, but it also informs, serves as artistic expression for visual-artists, and lastly, and just as importantly, serves as a sort of spiritual intercession on our behalf whether we know it or not – use its power responsibly!

And be sure to check out Spiritual Cinema Circle for a Netflix-like rental service that specialises in uplifting, healing and inspiring films.

Hey Damon!

I learn more and more from you about media arts all the time!  You and I can watch the same movie and see totally different things!  Your trained eye notices everything in the background and the angle of the camera.  I watch movies to be entertained.  At the end of the day my brain is tired and I’m usually not in the mood for a documentary or some deep, soulful, foreign film where I actually have to read subtitles.  I just want to relax and not think!  Entertainment is my key goal in the movies.  I know that I’m not alone in this – make me laugh, crash-land on another planet, blow something up….whatever it is just make it interesting and take me out of my normal world.

There are so many great movie lines that span time.  I could quote a million of them from hundreds of my favorite, witty, movies.  When I watched The Notebook, I cried for two days. Two days!  Some movies just stick with us and change who we are.  I love how well you’ve outlined this fact.  I’m glad that you took the time to write about one of your greatest passions, for following our passions makes the world a better place.

So, next time we watch the same movie, please don’t think me ignorant for not noticing every little detail, such as the floral arrangement on the back wall in the middle of a fight scene!

I love how brilliant writers have given us so many lines that speak of how we are, how we feel, and how we want to become.  We are many times drawn into a film because we see ourselves in it. On that note, in the words of Jessica Rabbit: “I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.”