Thursday, August 31, 2006

Strange day

I added the following paragraph on 9/8/2006:
A lot of people have ended up on this page in an attempt to find the address of a famous comedian. (I know because I analyze my web site stats.) If you are one of those people, you'll want to read this page carefully. You just might find what you're looking for.

[Now onto the entry as originally written.]

While driving to Yellow Springs yesterday for my regular Wednesday chill-out session, I had to take a different route through London than usual, to get some cash and fill up my tank. As I turned onto my alternate route through a neighborhood bordering an industrial area, I noticed there was a train stopped at the railroad crossing, so I went to the next street over, hoping the train wouldn't be blocking it, too. Well, it was, but the engines were only a couple hundred feet beyond the crossing. So I turned around and headed in a direction that might get me where I wanted to be.

As I filled up my tank at the nearby Sunoco instead of the Speedway station across the tracks, sirens started coming from everywhere, going to where I'd just been. It turns out that the train had hit a car. And judging by the fact that there was no one on the scene when I originally tried to pass, the collision must have happened no more than a minute or two before I got there.

I left the house a little later yesterday than I intended. What if I had left two minutes earlier? Would I have been at the crossing when the train arrived? If so, would I have looked both ways like safe drivers are supposed to do? (There are no gates; just lights.) I really don't know. Before yesterday, I wasn't even sure if trains go beyond London because I never see any. So I may not have paid full attention to the crossing, just like I haven't paid full attention to it when I've crossed there in the past.

Fortunately, I believe all the people in the car are OK, even though at least two of them were flown to a hospital via two different helicopters.

Later on, in Yellow Springs, I saw Dave Chappelle when he came into the coffee house where I was hanging out. There's nothing strange about that; I've seen him at least 20 times before yesterday, almost always at this same coffee house. I've never met Dave, nor have I ever bothered him, in case you're wondering.

Dave came in, bought his usual large coffee, then headed back out into Yellow Springs. Nothing unusual there. About an hour later, he returned to the coffee house, carrying his skateboard. He stepped out to the patio behind the building for a few minutes, then came back in and bought another coffee. This time he chatted with the barista for several minutes before leaving again.

Shortly after he left the second time, I realized there was something very different about Dave Chappelle--something I've never seen before. He seemed happy; genuinely happy. It was in his body language. It was in the tone of his voice. It was in the way he walked down the street interacting with people.

I know Dave loves Yellow Springs. He's not "Dave Chappelle" there; he's just Dave. He knows the people and they know him. Nevertheless, I've always detected some kind of tension in Dave when I've seen him before. He says hi to all the regular faces, but he pretty much seems to keep to himself. I didn't see that tension yesterday, and I hope Dave is feeling as good as he appeared to be feeling.

If I had seen Dave again after his second exit from the coffee house, I actually would have spoken to him. Even though I am the farthest thing from a celebrity worshiper, I usually get nervous whenever Dave comes around. Not yesterday, though. And I think it is largely due to the fact that Dave seemed so relaxed himself.

I respect the hell out of Dave Chappelle, and I certainly would like to meet him, but not because he is famous and not because he is funny. I'd like to meet Dave because he's a great guy with a great mind. I know Dave has been through a lot of shit over the last two years, and I sincerely hope he is as happy as he appeared yesterday.

[That was the original ending of this blog entry. For those of you who are trying to figure out where DC lives, read on.]

Yes, I do know where he lives, but I will not give out his address because I respect the man's privacy. However, I may be willing to help you accomplish your objective if you are willing to explain, honestly, what you were hoping to accomplish here. Are you trying to send him a letter? Hoping to drive by his house? (If so, you can't see it from the road, anyway.) Did you come here hoping for something else?

If you want my cooperation, you must leave a comment explaining what you were hoping to gain when you began searching for DC's house in YSO. Your comment also must contain your full name, your city, your state, and your e-mail address. DO NOT E-MAIL ME ABOUT IT BECAUSE I WILL NOT RESPOND. You may e-mail me about other stuff if you want; just not this. I also will not respond to any anonymous comments. If you are unwilling to provide at least your real name and e-mail address, why would you expect me to give you any information about one of the world's most famous comedians?

And Dave, if you have somehow stumbled upon this page and you don't want me doing this, just let me know. I think you know when and where you can find me.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Real America

(Originally posted on some other forum at 1:45 AM, 5/30/2006.)

I had an idea tonight that I think will change my life. (Of course, I believe all of everyone's ideas change the whole world, so... uhhh... duh.) Anyway, I think I'm going to make a film. It'll be about America; more specifically the United States of America. It's going to be the real version of all the Rain Mans and Easy Riders and On The Roads and so on. It's going to be a trip up and down and all around these here United States of Amerka, showing the interesting places and people of this country like only I can do.

I'm not going to try to raise any money, and I'm not going to have any money. I'm just going to get a camera and gather the bare necessities, like a couple changes of clothes. Then I'm going to hit the road, on my feet, going wherever people want to take me. I'm going to rely on the American people to keep me going, counting on their generosity to feed me and provide shelter. I'm going to make friends with the people of this country, and then I'm going to show everyone what we're all about.

I don't think anyone has done anything like this before, and I think it will be an awesome film if I actually do it. I won't have to write the story because the story is out there. I won't even need to script the story because I can only go where people take me; it's an adventure. Not only will it be about the people of the United States of America, but it will also be about my quest to document the people and places in the United States of America. It will be about the awesome challenge. It will be about how the experience will have changed me.

It will be about whatever it turns out being about.

In case you don't read comments

Jay posted a link to a picture of me, on the flo with a dirty tie and a jammy. I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Some things just make sense

This entry is mostly in response to what Jay Rivers, the guitar god, said in a comment on my Grassroots fund-raising entry.

Free advertising in exchange for free business cards
Yes, I do think of prospective sponsors as "trading partners" because they are trading partners. I need what they offer, just as they need what I offer. If they don't realize they need what I offer, then fine. Someone else does. Money, goods, labor, and services are all the same thing.

Remember how I said I would go about finding a printer if I intended to buy some business cards? I said "I'd probably go to the Columbus Metropolitan page on the Yahoo Directory and pick the first company I see, unless their web site sucks." Well, I just did that. And guess what. This site blows ass! Seriously, it is totally useless. Why would anyone even consider choosing this printing company? Someone please tell me.

Jay, I know you have put a lot of effort into helping me spread the word about Aimless. And by helping me spread the word, you are essentially doing exactly what I'm offering to do for printing companies and other prospective sponsors. The difference is that I understand the value of your voluntary contributions, and I will voluntarily compensate you whenever I am able.

Perhaps I am already "compensating" you by pointing out your assets, mentioning your web site, and linking to it, just like you're doing for me. I think you have drawn more attention to Aimless than I have drawn to, but there's no doubt that you and I are making a trade here that would involve a cash transaction in other circumstances. Time is money; it really is. You and I have each spent a lot of time the last several days creating new opportunities for each other to make money. You are investing in me while I am investing in you. Hopefully we'll both make our investments pay off. And we probably will because we're making smart investments.

Offering to add pizza to a restaurant's menu one night a week
Here are some reasons why the pizza thing is a good idea for both me and the restaurant:

1) Even if I do take away some of the restaurant's regular business (like if a regular Monday-nighter buys my pizza instead of his usual cheeseburger), the restaurant will still get their share because I'll pay them a percentage of my sales.

Let's float a number like 25% for now. If I sell a pizza for $8 to the regular cheeseburger man, the restaurant will make $2 just for letting me sell it. That's about the same amount they'd make on the sale of a cheeseburger (if not more). They're not losing anything because I don't create any extra expenses and they don't have to pay me an hourly wage. Plus the restaurant still gets all the revenue from apps, side orders, beverages, desserts, and other stuff people may order with their pizza. So the restaurant won't be losing anything by accepting my offer.

2) I will attract new customers to the restaurant. Normally it costs a lot of money to attract new customers because the people you're trying to attract already have a favorite (or regular) restaurant. "They" say it takes 7 times more effort to attract new customers than it takes to attract existing customers. And every time I manage to attract a new customer to my "host" restaurant, I'll be giving the restaurant a free opportunity to provide that new customer a dining experience that will convert him or her into a lifetime customer. I may even end up doing that part for them, too. That's worth a lot more money than you can imagine, and I'll be the one paying for it.

I could go on and on about how a restaurant most certainly would benefit by agreeing to my proposal, but I'll save it for a future entry. In reality, I'm the one who has a lot to lose by setting up such an arrangement, and I've already thought of some ways I'll protect myself.

First of all, I'll sell vouchers/gift certificates to interested parties, which will ultimately provide a reasonably clear picture of how much new business I'm generating for the restaurant. Whenever a customer pays for their pizza with a voucher, the restaurant's 25% take will be either 5% or 0% because my voucher is proof that I've generated new revenue for the restaurant. The "Aimless Pizza" customer isn't just going to buy a pizza; they're also going to buy a coke, a beer, chicken wings, etc. The restaurant gets 25% of my sales when I take their customers because that is fair. But I won't agree to let them take 25% and the new revenue I busted my ass to generate for them.

If they can't handle that, I walk. It's that simple. I play fair. I can find someone else to work with; they can't.

(Notice I didn't say "work for." I don't work for anyone anymore; we work together.)

I should spam them instead

I just got totally flippin' sick of trying to turn people on to Aimless by sending them "introductory" e-mails, so I'm not going to do it anymore, starting right now. More about this later.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Grassroots fund-raising

I've come up with an idea recently that will help me raise a little money as well as spread the word about Aimless. Like a little kid, I'm going to sell candy bars. All I have to do is go to downtown Columbus (or maybe some other places where there is heavy foot traffic) and display a sign or make believe I'm the beer man at a sporting event.

I already know I can get large boxes of fund-raising candy bars at GFS Marketplace, and I think I'll also check with Anthony Thomas to see if their fund-raising bars are available in reasonably small quantities. But before I can start selling the candy bars, I have to get some business cards to attach to the candy bar wrappers.

Of course, I'm not allowed to buy business cards because the rules say I can't. Fortunately business cards are cheap, so I think it will be relatively easy to convince a printing company to provide some cards for free, given good incentive. So instead of offering money as payment for the cards, I'll offer to let them advertise on my cards and possibly the Aimless web site.

There is absolutely no reason for a printing company to decline my offer. The proof is in the trade show. At trade shows (at least pizza trade shows), these companies hand out tons of prototypical fliers, menus, cards, magnets, memo boards, etc., because it's really the only way they can show their target market what they offer. They have to give a lot of stuff away, but it's no big deal because most of the stuff is very inexpensive. If they don't hand out samples of their work, though, no one will buy it.

Here's another way of looking at it: If I decided to contact a printer right now so I could buy some business cards, who would I contact? I don't know. I'd probably go to the Columbus Metropolitan page on the Yahoo Directory and pick the first company I see, unless their web site sucks. But what if someone else had just given me their business card, and their card had the name and URL of their printer? Well, then I'd probably check them out first because it's convenient and because I have a sample of their work.

That's exactly what will happen when I give people the card I've described here. Sure, most of the recipients will have no need for a printing company's services, but some of them will. And if my business card directs only a couple new customers to the printing company, the printing company's tiny investment will have paid off. It might be a small return, but it was a cheap and easy return they would not have received otherwise. Plus it carries a lot of potential to snowball into a very large return.

I think selling candy bars will generate a lot more traffic (and a lot more interest) for the Aimless web site than my current e-mail campaign because it will give me the chance to show people my enthusiasm for Aimless. Live enthusiasm sells. By meeting me in person, people will learn a lot about Aimless in just a minute or two of discussion with me, which will make them more inclined to check out the web site. Additionally, they'll probably spend more time at the web site, viewing more pages than the current average Aimless visitor, because their visit will begin as a review rather than a starting point.

I have also thought about trying to make a deal with a restaurant, in which they would add "Aimless Pizza" to their menu one night each week as a special. I'd supply my own ingredients and make all the pizzas myself, but the restaurant would let me use their oven, prep area, and some equipment. I'd give the restaurant a percentage of my sales and put the rest in an Aimless bank account. Every "Aimless Pizza" customer would receive my card, of course. Obviously it would be a lot more complicated than that, but it's just an idea right now.

I think this is a garsh-darn good idea, and I should probably start trying to make it happen ASAP.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Call me a flip-flopper

After spending some time pondering what I said yesterday, I think I've reverted back to my original position, or at least closer to my original position. That means I'm almost certainly not going to buy a cheap camcorder just to hasten the production of Aimless.

If I went out and bought a cheap camcorder just to get Aimless started, I'd be compromising my principles. Aimless is not just a movie that hasn't been made yet; Aimless is a rite of passage. My objective is not simply to make a movie; one of my objectives is to learn how to communicate more effectively, which means I can't go out and buy a cheap camcorder even if I want to.

What I am trying to accomplish is not the same thing Some Rock Band is trying to accomplish. A demo tape is a rough draft, and everyone who listens to that demo tape knows it's a rough draft. I don't get a rough draft because Aimless is the equivalent of Some Rock Band's debut album.

If I set out with a crappy camcorder, I'll end up ruining Aimless. I only get one chance to do this right. I can only leave home for the first time once. I can only learn how to convince people to share their food and spare bedrooms with me once. That stuff and similar stuff is what makes Aimless Aimless. And if I do all of this stuff with a crappy camcorder that cannot produce quality audio or video, I will have done it for nothing.

If anything about Aimless can be compared a demo tape, it's this web site. This web site is my demo tape. This web site is Aimless's demo tape. It may not be a video, but it is an audition, much like a demo tape functions as an audition.

Actually, I don't even like that analogy because I'm not auditioning for anyone. Comparing this to an audition implies that I am trying to get someone's approval, but I'm not trying to get anyone's approval. I'm trying to find people who understand the fundamentals of economics. No one is above me, nor am I above anyone else. I am offering something in exchange for something else of equal value. And I am not interested in dealing with anyone who thinks their assistance is more important than what I offer them in exchange for their assistance. I don't need them any more than they need me, just as they don't need me any more than I need them. My job is to find a few folks who understand that so we can get on with the fair trade.

Aimless is not supposed to be easy. Does the word 'Aimless' sound easy? No. That's no accident.

This is totally unrelated, but I stumbled onto Mark Cuban's blog today. If you don't know who Mark Cuban is, he owns the Dallas Mavericks and some other stuff, too.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

On the other hand...

My buddy Jay kind of got me thinking ten minutes ago with an e-mail regarding some of my strategies for making Aimless. He asked me this:

My question is why not use less expensive equipment, like a $175 digital camcorder, some $0.10 DVD-Rs, a handful of 2 GB FlashDrives, a backpack, a sleeping bag, and some good walking shoes? Why wait for the sponsors to come around and donate so much money into this, when you could probably produce a great story for under $500?

I did think about doing something like that at first, but as my vision became clearer, I decided against it because my intention is not to make a home video. My initial response to Jay:

Just because I'm not trying to make Star Wars, it doesn't mean I AM trying to make something that looks and sounds like shit. I will already be sacrificing a lot of photographic quality by using a camera in the $2,000 to $3,000 range instead of something costing $5,000 or $50,000. A $200 camcorder is for home videos. I'm not trying to make a home video. I already cut out tens of thousands of dollars from the budget by making the right sacrifices (like having no crew, walking, begging, working for food, sleeping in fields, etc.). Going cheap on a camcorder is not one of the right sacrifices, although I certainly thought about it in the beginning. It would be like trying to operate a pizzeria using the oven in my mom's kitchen; it wouldn't work. For 10 times the price of something made for the home, you get 500 times more stuff/quality.

But as soon as I sent that response to him, I started reconsidering. I began to see how it actually might be more productive to go ahead and start out with a mega-cheapo camcorder, instead of continuing to hold out for the sponsors I've been hoping to attract.

Right now I have nothing to show anyone except words, and it's really difficult to generate interest in this kind of project by relying exclusively on printed words. Printed words can't express my passion or my aptitude. Printed words can't bring my adventure to life because my adventure, to this point, mostly involves spending 100 hours a week in front of a computer.

But if I was out there doing Aimless, even with a piece-of-shit camcorder, I'd have something to show this web site's visitors. I'd be able to generate interest through face-to-face contact with the people of America. I could create some buzz and some substance, and I would probably stand a better chance of attracting people willing to replace my shitty equipment with the equipment I need.

I'm starting to think that might be the right thing to do. It might even make for a better documentary because it would show my progress, almost from the beginning. It would show the evolution of Aimless, and the technical quality of the movie would improve in conjunction with the progress I make. Alternatively, all the footage from a cheap camcorder might suck so bad that none of it can be used in the eventual product. But even so, it might help me get what I need. So I have to spend some time thinking about it.

I really want to know what you think. Your thoughts are just as valuable to me as money or equipment, whether they are supportive or critical. Your criticism might be the most important contribution anyone makes to Aimless. The proof is in the red text near the beginning of this entry.

Friday, August 25, 2006


We've all heard it before, from our parents and teachers. Then we heard it from our other teachers, then the following year's teachers. Probably every teacher we've ever had.

Life isn't fair. Get used to it.

What a fucking copout! What pure laziness! What a bunch of bullshit!

You know why life isn't fair? Because people keep saying, "Life isn't fair. Get used to it." Instead, perhaps you could respond by saying, "Y'know, you're right; that's not fair. Please accept my apology and let's see what we can do to make it fair." But that would just be too rational and productive, wouldn't it? It might actually make the world a better place, but it would require a couple ounces of effort, which is too much to reasonably expect from sagacious teacher types.

Well, I've never used that copout before, and I'm never going to because it serves no purpose for anyone. Perhaps that's why I'm not a teacher, even though I went to school for five years so I could become a teacher.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Jay Rivers, American

(Jay's new web site.)

I met Jay Rivers in early 1993, shortly after he moved to Columbus from Charlottesville, Virginia. I'd been playing drums in a band called No No Man for a short time when No No Man's guitarist, Ray, told me about another guitarist he'd recently met (Jay). Ray gave me Jay's phone number, saying he thought Jay and I might hit it off. So I called Jay shortly thereafter, and we made plans to get together and play some music.

[Jay Rivers playing guitar with Jamie Graves looking on.]

It was apparent the first night Jay and I jammed together that we had instant chemistry. We didn't even need to discuss what we'd be playing; we just kind of played. Jay would start playing a riff he'd been working on, then I would join him, and we'd mess around with it for 15 or 20 minutes. Listening to the tapes afterward, we sounded like a band that had been together, refining our music, for months or years. Our jams sounded like songs. Jay and I were so in tune with each other that we could take a jam in a completely different direction in a split second.

One riff we worked on was a polymetric thing Jay had been constructing in his head and on his guitar for a while, hoping desperately for the chance to play it with a competent drummer. Jay's riff was in 5/4 (or 5/8), but he wanted the drum part to be a simple 4/4 (or 4/8) pattern--"Boom Tap Boom Tap"--with the two voices meeting on a down beat every 20 counts. After a couple times through this verse pattern, there'd be a refrain (or maybe it was a bridge) in which Jay would join me in 4/4 time. This song was fresh and inventive, like Led Zeppelin's Kashmir, but nothing like Kashmir. It was one of the signs that told both Jay and myself that we could go somewhere playing music together.

Jay is a phenomenal guitarist, and I have no doubt that we could have been "rock stars" if I had only been as passionate as Jay. And honestly, I have no idea why I didn't devote myself completely to playing music with him. I mean, I spent hours every day playing my drums in the early to mid 1990s, and I got really good initially by playing along with Pearl Jam's album "Ten." After Pearl Jam I started playing along with Smashing Pumpkins's "Gish," one of the most incredible albums ever made, with amazing drumming. In a short time I went from a pretty good drummer to a fucking bad-ass drummer, simply because I practiced so much and was so passionate about drumming. So where was my passion for paving the road to rock stardom? I wish I knew.

Anyway, I pretty much stopped drumming after I moved to Las Vegas in 1997 to attend UNLV. And as my passion for helping people blossomed, my passion for drumming waned. While I went through the motions of teacher training at UNLV (it's not education), Jay went through some heavy shit that most people never experience. But he got through it all, and now he's trying to find ways to use his immense talent and intelligence to go somewhere in life, just like I am.

Although I've been kind of pissed off with Jay for a while, Jay is still one of two people I consider a true friend. There have been times when our friendship was as good as could be, and there have been times when we didn't speak to each other for a year. But Jay is a true friend, and true friends are hard to find in this world.

If you live in or near Columbus, Ohio and would like guitar lessons from someone who knows the guitar inside and out, visit Jay's new web site. His site is not just for people interested in guitar lessons, though. He may offer something else you need.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

This is an epidemic

OK, I've about had it with all the September 11th "documentaries" that have been airing on A&E, Discovery, TLC, Court TV, et al for the last week or two. Yes, I have been watching them because I guess I keep expecting to see something new, something insightful. But it never happens. Never! They just keep showing the same footage we've been seeing for 5 years. They keep interviewing the same 5 people--Stanley Praimnath, Brian Clark, etc.--asking the same questions and receiving the same answers we've been hearing for the last 5 years. Sometimes it's even the same interview footage from one show to another.

I have no problem with people making documentaries or other informative shows about September 11th because we need to know what happened that day. We need to see what happened that day. We need to see the bodies falling from the top floors of the World Trade Center, not because we are sickos but because it happened. We need to see everything there is to see, even the bodies hitting the ground, because it's the only way we can truly grasp some of the unbelievable things that occurred that day.

We don't need to keep seeing the same shit over and over. We don't need to keep hearing the same shit over and over. We don't need to be protected from the naughty words in the background that naturally occur when people witness something like a 767 hitting a New York skyscraper. All that does is keep us ignorant and in the dark. And we don't need any more of the pathetic attempts to capitalize on our nation's darkest tragedy.

Due to the fact that most people don't actually read what they read, I'll say this again: We need documentaries and other shows about 9/11, but we don't need the shit we're being shown. In fact, the people making these shows should be prosecuted for capitalizing on tragedy, because that is all they're really doing. (I'm half joking there.)

I'm on a time limit here, so I need to scram. Maybe more about this later.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Supercross: The Movie

I just watched most of Supercross: The Movie, and I found myself spending more time analyzing it than actually following the story. I couldn't help it; the purpose of the movie was not to tell a story. Rather, it was a series of advertisements using an unrefined story to connect them.

A short list of products featured in the movie that are fresh in my mind right now:

Mountain Dew
Papa John's
Las Vegas
Sam's Town

It's kind of fun to analyze this movie because the producers' objectives are so obvious. They clearly intended to make a movie with a high quality look and sound--something that would feel right in theaters. They didn't cut corners when it came to equipment quality, but the actual content of the movie was not the highest priority. Clearly the #1 objective was to find ways to highlight the products that helped pay for the movie.

The movie doesn't suck; it's OK. But one thing really limited my ability to enjoy the final scenes. The last 10 minutes of the movie was a fictional version of the Supercross season finale at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. Even though the event is set in only one place (Sam Boyd Stadium), the footage of that single event came from at least a few different stadiums, which really distracted me. Instead of focusing on the story, I ended up paying attention to the background to see if I could figure out how much of the scene was shot in locations other than Sam Boyd Stadium.

It doesn't bother me that some of that scene's footage came from different locations, but it does bother me that they didn't try very hard to make it look like a single location. Having attended UNLV, I know how Sam Boyd Stadium looks and feels. It's basically a "U" shaped stadium with no upper deck and small-radius curves around the corners of the south end zone. But in the final scene of the movie there were shots showing upper decks and 45-degree-angled seating transitions. Even if I wasn't familiar with Sam Boyd Stadium, I would have noticed the inconsistencies. I can tell the difference between Sam Boyd Stadium and the Orange Bowl, and some of the scene from Sam Boyd Stadium was filmed in the Orange Bowl. That just bothers me.

But, as I said, the producers obviously placed a higher value on advertising than on content. Their objective was to make money, not to tell a great story, so I can't complain.

There is a lesson to be learned from Supercross: The Movie. Movies are a good place to advertise. If this was not true, why would so many large corporations continue to contribute funding in exchange for screen time?

I have realistic expectations regarding Aimless's potential for exposure. That is, I know it's not going to reach as many people as Star Wars or ET. But Aimless will be able to reach an audience at least as big as Supercross's audience without a lot of difficulty. And it will take a lot less money to do it.

So yeah, I'm making the pitch again: Sponsor Aimless if you want to make some easy money.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Learn something from this

According to an Associated Press article found on Yahoo News:

Ford to halt production at 10 plants
DETROIT - Ford Motor Co. said Friday it would temporarily halt production at 10 assembly plants between now and the end of the year, blaming high gas prices for pushing many consumers away from its pickups and SUVs and toward higher-mileage models... Don't even bother reading the entire article.

Hmmm, if gas prices are to blame for pushing consumers away from Ford's gas-guzzling pickups and SUVs, then shouldn't these consumers be buying Ford's fuel-efficient models instead? My bad... Maybe Ford just didn't receive the same information about unrenewable resources the rest of us have hearing about for decades. Yes, this must be why they were incapable of planning for the imminent rise in gas prices.

God-damn gas prices! Who could have seen that coming?

Are we supposed to feel bad for Ford? Specifically, are we supposed to feel bad for the top brass at Ford, who make their millions even while the company fails?


The "suits" at Ford are failing horribly. Their job is simply to operate a profitable company by making profitable decisions, but they don't do it. And because they don't do their jobs right, Ford is losing money. It seems pretty reasonable to me that we could expect incompetence to go unrewarded and unpaid. Right? That's what would happen to me if I owned a pizzeria that wasn't making money. But the suits at Ford still make millions every year while the real workers, who actually do their jobs well, get shafted.

So should we feel sorry for the workers, who give their heart and soul to a company that doesn't appreciate such devotion? Should we feel sorry for me because I've been similarly unappreciated on the job? Should we feel sorry for the small investors who keep pumping their money into companies that don't function?


We should have enough human decency to care about them (and me), and we should hope they'll be able to find new ways to support themselves and their families. But we should also realize that they agreed to work for a company operated by greedy, incompetent thieves who have the power to continue such operations. And we should realize that the small investors willingly put their money blindly into a company that doesn't know how to use it, setting themselves up to be ripped off.

It should bother us that the regular, everyday people of the world (not just Americans) have to live like this. But feeling sorry for them is not going to help anything. Feeling sorry for me is not going to help anything.

Here are the solutions:

Everyday Workers - Stop working for people and corporations that rip you off. You are worth more than you've ever been paid. These corporations need you a lot more than you need them, but society has tricked most of us into believing the opposite. Consequently, we feed their greed by treating them like we need them more than they need us. Don't do it anymore. Instead make a low-budget movie or try to open your own small business. I know that's not easy to do; I'm proof of how hard it can be. But I'm putting my heart and soul into it because I know it's the only real chance I have to get something real out of this life.

Small Investors - Stop giving your money to large corporations that rip you off. They don't invest your money; they take your money. Instead, think logically about how you might capitalize on one of the many great ideas brewing in the minds of people like me. Great ideas are worth a lot of money. The people with the greatest and most valuable ideas are not easy to find, and they don't wear suits. Investing wisely requires some heavy-duty thinking and analyzing (unless you already have millions of dollars). It requires unconventional thinking.

But don't take my word for it. Invest your money however you want to invest it. If you like paying for some greedy criminal's mansion, invest in Ford or Wal-Mart. But if you want to make some money and help make a positive impact, invest in someone like me.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Introducing Harry Roland

Some of you have probably seen Harry Roland in action at the World Trade Center site. Some of you have even met him. Others may have read about him in a newspaper article. I'm sure I speak on behalf of most of the people who have met him when I say: What an awesome guy!

[Harry Roland]

For those of you who have no idea who Harry Roland is, he worked in one of the World Trade Center towers until September 11, 2001. Now he spends his days on the perimeter of the big hole where once stood the mighty twins, teaching WTC visitors about the World Trade Center and the most infamous day in American history. As you'll notice in the picture, he hangs a jug from his neck, in which his "students" may place dollar bills as a way of saying thanks.

Harry represents one of the many different kinds of people I'll be hoping to encounter after I hit the road to make Aimless. He is charismatic and he has something valuable to say, without saying it in an interview or even for the camera. And even if I have already decided I'd like to include him in the documentary, I won't be breaking my rules because I was aimless when I first witnessed Harry Roland in person.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Aimless and faithless

The search for sponsors is becoming very tiresome and frustrating. I've sent well over 500 e-mails--maybe even 1,000--to various businesses, organizations, and individuals, but not one person has contacted me regarding prospective sponsorship. It's really starting to make me lose "faith" in the competence of the American business community.

I could lie here and say people are standing in line for their opportunity to sponsor Aimless; I know most people in this situation would do that, as an attempt to create an illusion of demand. But I don't work that way. As I have said in a couple places on the Aimless web site, I follow a policy of honesty and integrity, and I am not willing to compromise those traits to trick people into sponsoring Aimless. Besides, if I did resort to dishonesty, I'd end up attracting the wrong sponsors. That's not my objective.

There are a million things I want to say here, but I'm having trouble sorting out everything in my head. Maybe I'll update this entry later or just post a new entry whenever I start thinking straight.

Friday, August 11, 2006


I've spent so much time working on Aimless over the last couple months, I'm starting to lose touch with my original vision. I'm starting to place a higher value on things that were never supposed to matter much, like my photographic aptitude (or lack thereof), perhaps to the extent that it's becoming counterproductive.

Yes, I want to end up producing a film that looks and sounds as good as possible, but there are a lot of other important objectives to consider, like ending up with a final product that people actually want to see. And if I forget the initial feelings that motivated me to begin this project, I might as well quit, because I began with the right motivation.

When I went to the Memphis International Film Festival in late March to see the premiere of Pizza! The Movie, I watched a few other documentaries and I learned a lot from the experience, even though I had no interest in filmmaking at the time. One thing I learned is that sound and picture quality really don't matter a whole lot. As I watched one documentary at the film festival, I noticed right away how good the picture and sound were. The film was of very professional quality, but it just didn't reel me in. Conversely, the pizza movie's sound and picture were merely OK, but it was fun to watch for the whole 90 minutes because it has a compelling story and compelling characters. Similarly, in Jeff Buckley: Amazing Grace, the sound quality of the interviews was horrible, but much of the film's content was high quality archived footage of Buckley recording, playing gigs, and just being alive. You'd have to see it to understand how powerful and moving his performances were.

Seriously, Pizza! The Movie is good enough that you should have heard about it from someone other than me a long time ago. However, it doesn't matter how good it is if no one knows about it. And no one knows about it because Michael Dorian doesn't seem to understand how important it is to effectively market the film. (The Aimless web site has only existed for three weeks, but a Google search for Aimless will yield almost as many results as a search for Pizza! The Movie.)

But that's not what this entry is supposed to be about.

I need to get back in touch with the Ryan of a few months ago, the Ryan who really was desperately aimless. I need to stop thinking so big, to stop entertaining the idea that I might be able to call myself a filmmaker shortly, because I'm not a filmmaker and my goal was not to become a "filmmaker" in any way other than by making a film. I need to extinguish the feeling that Aimless has become a job and start thinking of myself as unemployed again.

I wanted to disappear long before I wanted to make a film about my disappearance, and I have to get that feeling back. Maybe this entry is how I do it. I am going to bookmark the archived page of this entry, and I'm going to read it whenever I feel like I'm losing touch with the true Aimless vision. Additionally, I am going to remove all references to "Albertine Productions" on Aimless web pages because there is no such thing as Albertine Productions. And by pretending I am some kind of production company, I'm just setting myself up to lose sight of what really matters.

Albertine Productions will exist, and it will exist soon, but it's just an idea right now. Aimless is not the creation of a production company; it is the creation of a lost and lonely individual who desperately needs to find something worth living for.

I'm happy right now. I'm probably happier than I've ever been in my whole life because I have something to look forward to. But a couple months ago, after hitting rock bottom, I was free. Money didn't matter; rejection didn't faze me; pretty girls didn't make me nervous; I knew I held more power over my boss than he held over me. Like I said, I was free, and that kind of freedom is a really nice feeling. I want to get that feeling back, and I think this entry is big step in the right direction.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Documentaries don't have to be so boring

In the last couple months I have done a lot of thinking and reading about documentary films. I have also watched more documentaries than usual, even though many of them are completely unmoving and boring. And with all the attention I've given to the concept of documentary film, one thing has stood out both in the books I've read and the documentaries I've watched: interviews.

I can only guess what kind of imagery comes to mind for most people when confronted with the word 'documentary,' but I suspect it goes something like this: People talking, interviews, yap yap yappity yap, [snore], etc. And if that is how the average person thinks about documentary, I'd say it's because most documentaries seem to be nothing more than a series of interviews. Instead of showing something interesting, they show somebody talking about something that may have been interesting. Then, when they're not showing some boring interview, they clutter everything up with narration.

(This actually just occurred to me, but I think bad documentaries are what come to mind when most people process the word 'documentary.' And although most everyone has surely seen at least one good documentary, they probably don't even think of good documentaries as documentaries at all; they probably just think of them as another good movie.)

Anyway, there is no doubt that documentaries tend to rely heavily on interviews. And only rarely does a documentary come along that realizes any kind of box office success.

Is it cause and effect or is it just correlation? Well, it's definitely correlation, but I imagine it's also a case of cause and effect. However, it is impossible to compare documentaries to feature films because they don't have the same objectives. While feature films appeal to our emotions and sense of humor, they also depend on visual effects and audio effects and other effects requiring a theater atmosphere. Documentaries depend almost 100% on the story and the visual evidence; even poor quality visual evidence. Also, documentaries don't come with all the bells and whistles and special stuff that can only translate well in a theater, so they don't require that theater atmosphere. Additionally, they cost a lot less to produce, so success can be defined on a completely different scale.

Regardless of all that, some documentaries have managed to do well in theaters; Fahrenheit 9/11 and Hoop Dreams are a couple that come to mind. And for a documentary to even make it into theaters pretty much means it has succeeded beyond anyone's reasonable expectations and made a lot of money. So why have a few managed to find such huge success while most others linger in some kind of purgatory? Here's why: Because it takes a lot more than pointing a camera at stuff to make a compelling documentary, yet it does not necessarily require photographic expertise.

Great documentaries tell great new stories; they don't just provide a new medium for old news, like so many historical documentaries. ("Here's a book about some historical event; let's make a film telling the same story, showing the same still pictures." Mega boring!) Great documentaries have great characters. Great documentaries are made by passionate, enthusiastic individuals who disregard "conventional wisdom" and write their own rules. Great documentaries are made by people who have an eye for interesting things other people never notice. Great documentaries are made by people like me.

More about this stuff soon.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Me Me Me

I've been struggling a bit with the reality that Aimless seems to be more about me than it is about what I'm creating. I feel like the web site is very similar to a personal home page in a lot of ways, projecting a message of "Look at me. Listen to me. Give to me. ME ME ME!" And to be totally honest with y'all, I'm very uncomfortable making myself so visible to the world; I generally like to remain in the periphery, not attracting much attention to myself.

The original incarnation of the Aimless idea could have been described as purely a travel documentary--an attempt to recreate an experience similar to that of the characters in Rain Man or Easy Rider. It was to be almost exclusively about the people, places, and things I would see, with me remaining behind the camera most of the time. But as I thought about it, I realized that's not enough. That would be interesting but not compelling, so I had to rethink some things.

As I continued thinking about making a documentary, I realized this project had everything to do with me and my unique life experiences. While there are certainly plenty of interesting people and places out there for me to find and document, this is my story, and my story is pretty damn interesting, too. So I'll tell your story and my story both. In fact, I really don't know yet what story I'll tell because the story cannot be told until the story has occurred. This blog entry is part of the story, but it's not part of the film, just as my life is part of the story but may not be part of the film.

Anyway, I don't like being the center of attention. I don't even talk to people much anymore because I realize most people can't identify with me. And because I've spent so much time in isolation over the last two years, my social skills are not exactly sharp. So why am I all of a sudden forcing myself upon the world, sending dozens or hundreds or thousands of e-mails to people, inviting them to look at my web site?

It's not because I crave attention; it's because I need to learn how to seek the right kind of attention. I need to learn how to not care so much about what people think of me. I need to learn how to communicate my ideas better. Call me a whiner if you want, but I need to try to undo the psychological damage originating from way back in high school, when my parents and teachers treated me like a worthless fuck-up.

Aimless is taking this form because I have something really special to offer the world, but I have to pass a lot of my own tests before I can give it to them.

I don't know how it feels to trade money for goods and services because I've never really had any money. And I don't know how it feels to trade any other kind of personal asset for anything of value because no one has ever taken me seriously or traded fairly with me.

I have no reason to believe in humanity anymore, and Aimless will either give me reason to believe or it will kill me. Either way I win.

Sometimes you just have to say "Fuck it" and face your fears. Right now is a good example: This entry does not say what I intended to say when I began writing it; I think it is some of the worst writing I have ever done. But I'm going to post it anyway because right now it's time to say "Fuck it."

Fuck it.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Ready for NCAA Football?

Copied from a Sporting News forum:

I love posts where OSU & UM fans go head to head. Always great arguments in debatably the best rivalry in college football!!

The Backyard Brawl (WVU vs. Pitt), which is our biggest rival game, doesn't compare to the hatred between UM/OSU. I love it!!

Not exactly Aimless-related, but I created Aimless and I am a Buckeye. And although I respect The State Up North and its football team, I'm happy to know that both us and our rivals are respected by outsiders for having such a healthy hate/hate relationship.

Boy it's going to be fun watching Buckeye football this year. People are making a big deal about OSU's defense losing 9 starters, but there are two reasons it will not matter: 1) Ohio State produces a great defense every year, regardless of how many starters return, and 2) OSU's offense will be unstoppable this year. (Remember 617 total yards, Notre Dame? Ain't nobody ever done that to you before. And all but a couple of those guys are back.)

Yeah, "we" really like playing in Arizona in January. It's becoming a tradition and I don't see anything changing next January.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Time to get soliciting again

In late June I sent out 40 or 50 solicitation e-mails to Columbus area doctors and dentists, following a fund-raising tip from a filmmaking book. Included in the e-mails was a short message and an attached letter containing the information that has become the About Aimless page. I didn't get any responses.

I'm not stupid; I knew it would take a lot more than 40 or 50 e-mails to find the support I'm seeking. But I didn't even receive any responses saying, "Your idea sounds neat. Unfortunately we're currently not in a position to assist." No responses at all. That's when I realized I needed a web site ASAP. A web site would enable me to keep the e-mail messages short, allowing people to look into Aimless at their own convenience, instead of reading a two-page letter they probably never wanted anyway. Also, I believe people would be more responsive if there was a web site to show how much work I've put into this project; to show that I am very serious about it. So I turned my attention to finding a web host.

Right away I sent maybe 15 or 20 e-mails to web hosts I found through a Google search for "'Web Host' Columbus, Oh," and I received responses from a couple people. One of them agreed to host the web site for me, but she was very busy with her existing clients, so I patiently waited a couple weeks for her to set up a meeting with me. But by then I really needed to get the show on the road; I had designed and created enough pages for a complete web site, and there was not much I could do until they were out there for people to see. So I sent my prospective host an e-mail saying I need to get the show on the road, and that I was about to start sending more solicitation e-mails to other web hosts because I just can't keep waiting. I'd been patient, and my patience was only holding me back, taking me off task. One passage from the e-mail I sent her describes the mindset I'm striving to maintain:

Aimless is about going out and getting, like you did when you started your own company. It's about giving and receiving and making fair trades. It's about not allowing excessive patience to continue being such an obstacle. It's about: "Here's what I have to offer. If you want it, act now or risk losing your opportunity to someone more insightful and decisive. If you don't want it, nice meeting you. Good luck." And I have stuck to the framework defined in the last sentence with everyone except you.

So do you want it?

Within an hour or two I started sending e-mails to other hosts, mostly just to find a back-up plan in case my current situation didn't work out. (I'm digressing here. Let me get back on track.)

It was two weeks ago when Glenn Shope from Net Acceleration offered to host the Aimless web site. After thinking about it for a day (or "sleeping on it"), I agreed to accept his offer. And 13 days ago the Aimless web site became a reality. It was still a couple days before I'd uploaded enough material to make the site worth checking out, and I've been doing a lot of tweaking over the last ten days or so. But the site is pretty solid now and I need to face my fears and start begging for assistance again. That starts today.

That is something I could not do before. I couldn't ask people for help when I desperately wanted to open a pizzeria. There are a lot of good reasons for that--about 200,000 good reasons--but there are also plenty of good reasons for me to chicken out with Aimless, too. But I'm not going to.

Aimless could also be called "Fearless." I have been afraid to make important decisions in my life, to ask for help, to go out and get what's mine. I'm a pussy, and that's surely one large reason I worked for $7 an hour at age 32. Well, I'm not going to be a pussy anymore. I have nothing to lose anymore, and that's why Aimless exists. Ideally I want to get back the feeling of fearlessness--of freedom--I had in early June, but right now I'm a little afraid. I'm afraid to face rejection. I'm afraid to ask people for help.

That fear ends right now. Today it all begins again. As soon as I post this entry I'm going to send all those doctors and dentists a follow-up e-mail. Only this time it will be from an official-looking e-mail address and the letter will be short and sweet. Then I'm going to find more people to send short e-mails. Then more. And I'm going to do this for as long as it takes because Aimless is no joke. Aimless is no dream. Aimless is real, and Aimless will become something very special to the American people beginning now.