Archive for the School Category

Semester Updates

Posted in Art, Film, Life, Music, News, Poetry, School, Video, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2012 by blakejohnson

Hello everyone,
It’s been a while since I last updated this with anything at all, so I figured I’d post a solid summary of what I’ve been up to for the last 4 months or so.

It’s been a crazy semester, packed full of projects and the like, and I’ve done my best to detail the best of them on my portfolio. Continue reading

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Stop The Violence film Complete!

Posted in Family, Film, Inspiration, Life, People, School, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2008 by blakejohnson

As some of you may know, I was involved with the cross-country-collaborative effort for the Stop The Violence documentary film.  The film was contributed to not only by AnimiVirtus Productions (me), but also Neighborhood Studios, a group based in Ohio.  The film was basically a series of interviews with students, teachers, parents and other high school staff about the issue of school and teen violence and aggression, and essentially coalesced into a 20-minute film from two different parts of the country with one core message: Stop The Violence.  Take a look at the film below, and please add it to your DIGG, StumbleUpon, and del.icio.us collections to help us raise awareness about our cause and the effort we’re fighting for.  Thanks for your support!

DIGG Link | StumbleUpon Link

The Big Move

Posted in Family, Friends, Get Meta!, Inspiration, Life, News, People, Realtionships, School, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2008 by blakejohnson

Well, here it is.  I’m sitting in the airport on my way to LA, then Seattle, then Vancouver for my long-awaited move away from home.  This is the first time I’m going to be living outside of my parent’s house, and it’s really kind of interesting how I feel about it.  I’m not excited.  I’m not dreading it.  I find myself thinking of it as just another day that happens to be taking place in a different state, and eventually, country.  Everybody keeps coming up to me saying things like “Oh, I bet you can’t wait,” or “You must be excited,” and really, honestly, I don’t feel different.

I’ve heard it doesn’t hit you until you’re there, without your parents, and you think “When are they coming to pick me up?” and the inevitable response pops into your head and you think “Oh, right.”  I guess that might be what’ll happen to me.  Maybe it’s a sort of feeling that nothing in insurmountable.  Maybe it’s just that I’m not afraid.  Whatever it is, I feel absolutely normal.  Except I’m in the airport.

It’s going to be a good move though.  New people, new places, I’m glad to finally be getting away from the tiny-town Vermont.  I wrote in an email to a friend a day or two ago:

In my room, I can stand up straight, just normally, and flat-footed I can touch the palms of my hands to my ceiling. I like to think that’s how it is living in Vermont. I can touch the ceiling with no effort, but I can’t push beyond it to do what I want to do. A bigger city might have higher ceilings, but it’s definitely going to have more potential. So that’s what I’m really moving for the most.

Overall, I’m obviously looking forward to the move, and I’m looking forward to being closer to my brother who lives in Seattle.  I’m staying with him for a week or two before getting up to Vancouver, and that should be fun, since I rarely see him more than once a year.  But now, being closer, I should be seeing him more often.  In addition to that, I’ve got the opportunities abounding from the new city, the new people, and the new things I’ll learn and do when I’m out there.  If you can’t tell, I can get myself excited about the move, but I’m not overly zealous about the whole thing.

So I’m going to sit back, relax in the airport and enjoy my nice soygurt (just joshin’, I’m hardcore, I go for the real stuff) and wait for the plane to be ready to bear me on my journey through the heavens… err, the clouds anyway.  It’s gonna be a long day of traveling, but it should be fun in the end.

Feminine Opression

Posted in Get Meta!, Inspiration, Journals, Life, School on December 3, 2007 by blakejohnson

I would personally like to know why in a class like Sociology, we’re simply learning about the history and the psychology and the sociology of gender conflicts. It makes sense to approach the topic from such an angle in such a class, but think about it…if all we’re talking about is the history and the dynamics of inequality in gender issues, then who the hell is doing anything about them? Honestly, for me, reading almost two pages (not even), I got sick and tired of what i was reading, fed up with simply learning constantly, through life, about the damn gender issues that permeate our society. Right, I fucking get it that women were oppressed, forced into conditions they often didn’t like and were even more often unfair, but you know what, teaching me about it again isn’t going to make me any more sympathetic towards the issue! If you want me to get the point then fucking send me out to some women’s rights group so I can actually, you know, do something instead of just hearing about it and developing this intolerance for constantly hearing about gender issues. You’re being counter-productive by teaching me again and again and again about the same shit and not making people go out and do something about it. To be completely honest, I think it’s pretty fucking obvious that women have been oppressed, and there was a movement, and there still is a movement, but analyzing it in a controlled environment like a classroom is the entirely wrong direction to go now, I think. Technology changes wicked fast, and so I think should education techniques. We should adopt to the new society where most people can presumably k ow that at at least women weren’t treated well, they are fighting for better rights, and now things are getting better, but just learning about it doesn’t contribute to that effort, nor help anyone in truly raising awareness or really getting into the thick of the battle to see what’s really going on there. It helps us see the issues, sure, about 5 years after they’ve been through the tabloids and the press and had the time to get into some textbooks for us to read in class…but things have changed since then! And now I think it’s time to teach activism, not just analytics, in school…especially in a college environment, where you’re teaching them for their life, where they’re learning the most adult methods to grow up and live their own lives before they are truly on their own. It’s time in college to teach things like “Today and tomorrow we’re looking at the history of gender issues and how it affects us in society. The rest of the semester, we’re going to talk about ways we can make a difference, talk to people we know about what’s going on in gender issues around here, and globally. We’ll have guest speakers coming in from around town and nationally to speak about different issues, and every time we’ll have a discussion and follow-up paper, combined at the end of the semester with an activist project of your choosing, all relating to gender issues and the topics and people and instances we’ve discussed in class, as well as some broader brainstorming as to what can be done to help the society and the world in it’s super-fast changing movement we see every day. We’re making a difference, not just talking about it.” And yet, we don’t do that in my class. It’s about knowing your stuff, reading the textbook, and passing the tests. Sweet. Well I’ve got that part down. And while I’m at it, I’ll probably develop a little bit more of a dislike for hearing about gender issues because of the class and it’s lack of effort and energy to get me involved in something that actually matters on a larger scale than my presumably lacking intellect. Thanks, guys, for a casually wasted semester in classic Sociology 101.

Short Story: The Runner

Posted in Inspiration, Life, School, Writing on October 14, 2007 by blakejohnson

This is a short story I wrote last year as part of a creative writing class and after talking a bit with author Cliff Burns, he suggested that I put it online on my blog and see if anyone notices it here.  So here I am, putting up for the world to see, if the world looks at this blog, heh, and for anyone and everyone to enjoy.  Please, if you use it in anything let me know beforehand and make sure you have my permission for whatever you’re using it for.  Other than that, enjoy the story and any and all feedback and comments are perfectly welcome.

The Runner

“Children remind us of who we used to be

while showing us who we have become.”

 

            “I remember running through the snow in winter, the trees were dark and black.  Stephen, he was my brother, would always be in front of me.  I tried to catch up, but I never could.  You guys would, you run faster than I did then.  You’re all better runners.”

            The little children lay underneath their Great Grandpa’s big beard, his chin bouncing it about as he spoke.  They listened intently, interested, tired from the day of play outside.  It was Christmas night, and the entire family gathered to give each other love and thanks.  Snow sat on the windowsills outside, the children’s mittens sat on the hearth warmed by the big open fire; the warm tongues licked up the sides of logs and ashes, burning and blackening the wood.  A few parents sat around the fire, fathers with their wine glasses, tired eyes and half-buttoned shirts, making room for the full bellies leftover from dinner.  The mothers withered in the sofas, tired and drifting off into sleepy hazes, the snow outside and the fire inside comforted them warmly to sleep.  Great Grandfather continued his story, and the room lay resting, tired, breathing calmly and sedated.

            “The snow almost stung but it was cold and we loved it.  We just loved running, rushing past trees with the wind on our faces.  The cold and the white are mostly what I remember.  It was cold.  One time, we ran too far, and we were caught in a storm…

 

            The two of us ran through the woods, we raced and raced, stumbling over our own feet and the deep snow.  We kicked up clouds of snow like dust behind us as we dashed through it.  The trees were all black and gray, dark and dead; the branches stuck out like fingers and claws, grabbing at our coats and pants as we ran through the forest.  Stephen was twelve, and he raced after me.  I was ten at the time.  We came up to a clearing, and it was deep and white, the trees leaned in toward me as I stood underneath them.  I was smaller then, everything else was giant, and I was scared when I looked up at them as they quivered and bent in the wind.  They reached for me with their long arms and their talons, their fingers stretched out to grab me and clutch me in their huge hands.  Stephen came through the trees, panting, and fell beside me in the snow.  He made the trees stand back.  He was bigger, so they seemed a little bit smaller.

            I felt safer when he was around.  We both stood, he brushed the snow from his clothes, and we stared at the huge trees.  The snow was crystal white, paper white, like white-out, not erasing but covering up some mistake under the snow.  We stood with our mouths wide open, until little snowflakes began to drift down to the ground and into our mouths where they melted with the heat of our tongues.  The trees swayed in a wind and the snowflakes whirled around us, faster and faster they swirled, and the wind tugged at our hair and our clothes.  The trees shot their claws back at us again full force.  Now they were coming for both of us, and even though Stephen was there, this was the first time he didn’t make me feel safe.  He couldn’t save me anymore, because the trees and the wind and the white-out snow were coming after him too, to cover him up in the bleak, blank white.  The wind howled and whispered evil words in our ears, I could have sworn I heard it cursing our names, and felt it licking my neck as it whipped at my face.  The black trees continued to snatch at our clothes and we ran again, into the other side of the woods.  We ran and ran and the wind and the snow and the trees followed.  I could see shapes in the snow.  The flakes formed images in the air, the wind made them move, and the trees smashed them away like broken panes of glass on a cold misty morning.  I could see people and places in the snow, girls and boys, teenagers, friends and families.  I felt almost frozen, and yet I couldn’t stop running.  I could see my family, my friends, everyone I loved, all smiling at me and trying to hug me, then they were torn out of my sight by the trees.  I saw myself with a girl, we held hands and kissed, and the talons reached out and snatched her up, ripped her into a million pieces like shredded paper, and spread her out to mingle with the white-out snow.  I wanted to cry.  I felt something kiss my neck, my lips, I could feel the girls touch, or was it the wind?”

 

            Great Grandpa sat in the middle of the fireplace; all the children lay on his lap and the parents had trickled out of the room like the snowflakes to the ground outside the window.  The room was warm, full of soft, deep breathing, and youth.  Except for Great Grandpa, that is.  A few parents remained in the room, one lone mother of a child in Great Grandpa’s lap sat across from him, listening intently.

 

            “I felt hot, my body ached from running.  I felt fire surge through me like it does through a tube filled with gasoline; I was full of energy.  My body throbbed with heat, my legs ached and my arms stretched out in front of me.  I raced against the wind, my eyes searing with tears and the wind stinging my cheeks.  The trees slapped my face and the snow tore at my skin, but I didn’t care anymore.  I raced on, I could no longer see Stephen, but I heard his breathing, his near silent crying just like mine, and I wondered what he had seen in the snow.  We raced and ran, chasing something now that we didn’t know, couldn’t see, but wanting only to escape the claws and the evil whispers and the white-out snow behind us.

            All of a sudden another clearing appeared, and I couldn’t see anything but the sun, the bright light staggered my vision and blinded my thoughts.  I stopped to shield myself from the sun, putting my arm up in front of my eyes, and I heard Stephen running past me, and then I heard him stop too.  I couldn’t see him, and I didn’t want to look, for the sun was shining straight and hot, but I heard his running stop.  I felt warmer, the sun slowly glowing my skin back to life, the yellow warmth melting the white-out from my face and hands, cleaning my clothes of spattered snow, and healing my face of the whips and burns the wind had dealt so cruelly.  It felt like my skin was rolling itself back up onto my face, covering back up the scratch marks and sealing my blood and life inside.  Light burst from the clouds as if they’d been holding it back, and the fluffy reservoir had just been broken, the sheer luminous force unleashed.  I realized that the cold was gone now, and I turned to look at the forest.  The claws were retreating into their cavernous wood, the whispers grew softer, and the white-out snow was no longer stinging, but falling almost playfully onto my cheeks and face.  It gave me cool comfort in the blaze of the sun, and offered a refreshing splash of memory of that colder life in the woods to the healing of my scars from my journey.

            As my face and clothes warmed in the glow of the sun, I looked around for Stephen, for I couldn’t hear him anymore, no breathing, no exclamations of how joyous the day was, of how he loved the sun and all its beauty, not even a whimper of pain from the scratches of the claws back in the forest.  I saw nothing, and I heard nothing.  It became acutely clear that I was on a precipice of land, a monolithic rock face overlooking a vast expanse of… nothing.  Only more white as far as I could see, surreal, peaceful, and eerily so.  Stephen was nowhere in the white, but I already dreaded where he could be, and I already knew.  I stepped carefully to the edge of the cliff, watching the powdered-sugar snow in front of me, and I knew, even though I couldn’t see him below, that Stephen lay motionless at the bottom of the mountain.  We had never even known there was a mountain there, and now we knew more than we had ever wished.  My tears now fought against the comforting warmth of the sun, they shot to my eyes like shock to a brain, like a scare to a spine.  They froze on my cheeks, and then melted in the sunlight, carving little paths down my face, making wrinkles too early in my life.  I knew I had to go home now and somehow explain what had happened.

            I turned back to the forest, the claws stretched out toward me, the wind sucked at my face, and the snow began swirling again.  This time I walked.  The pain made no difference, and this time it barely hurt.  Nicks and bruises, scratches and cuts all seemed to sting for a moment and then disappear, Stephen’s death was too overwhelming, and even though he couldn’t make things better, the pain from his loss made this pain hurt less.  There were bigger things in the world, and now I had seen them.  I came home only wiser, and next time I went out to enjoy the snow, racing wasn’t fun anymore, chasing the snowflakes and climbing the trees didn’t make me smile in the way that it used to.  My heart ached whenever I saw the snow, and my eyes became nearly full wells, almost overflowing onto my cheeks, renewing those wrinkles, those little paths in my face.

            Now I have all the wrinkles I could want, but “Stephen’s wrinkles,” as I like to call them, are still there, and my heart still aches when the trees begin to sway and the branches look like claws.  I can almost see his face in the whirlwind of white-out anxious children crave on Christmas Eve.  Snow is beautiful, serene and calm, but to me it means death, and tonight, Christmas night, is the only night I can look around and remember myself before we raced through the woods, and remember Stephen when snow was still just snow.”

 

            All the children were now long-asleep, and the parents had filtered out of the room.  Great Grandpa sat talking almost to himself, his beard bouncing less now, and slower, the movement echoing the volume of his murmurs.  The dying embers behind him were still warm, just like that sun had been years and years ago.  But this warm was indeed comforting, and he was too lost in thought to relate the two feelings, so he let it warm him.  The rest of the room lay silent.  The children all slept, the benches and chairs empty, the stockings hung waiting for Santa Claus.  The one lone mother sat on the edge of a couch, her chin in her hand, her elbow resting on her knee, and she was staring in a trance at Great Grandpa.  She muttered an intent “hmm” of awe, her eyes wide and tired, her hair drooping, and her clothes creased.

            Her murmur stirred Great Grandpa from his dreamlike state, and he shivered off his memories for the night.  He looked to her with innocent, almost pleading eyes, then retracted his barren, vulnerable stare and replaced it with a somewhat melancholy gaze.  He pointed his eyes to the children, again innocent, and hopeful.

“I wish I could sleep that soundly,” he said, quietly.

“I bet that’s what you used to look like,” the mother replied.

            Santa’s eyes welled up with tears, his cheeks became red as roses, but not merry.  His belly jiggled but not with laughter, and the twinkles in his eyes as he looked back at her were not the twinkles of joy, but the shimmer of tears in the reservoir of his eyelids.  And then the tears were gone; he was left with dry, red eyes, memories of an old brotherly love, and the warmth of the fire and the small bodies on his knees, their deep, gentle breathing coaxing him to his own rest.  He lay asleep there with the little children, and the mother he barely knew stood, brushed out a crease or two, walked over to him, bent down and kissed his forehead.  She was quiet and gentle, but she smelled of sugar and plums, and the children stirred, and Great Grandpa nudged them out of his sleeping spot.  The worries lost, and the pain forgotten for the time being, the children and Great Grandpa Claus looked almost like the same person, only one with more wrinkles than the rest.

            The mother stood looking at them, then turned to take her leave.  She slowly walked out of the room, turning off the lights as she went, plunging the room into darkness illuminated only by the tiny flames and the dying embers of the fire behind the old man.  She smiled at him, comforting, sweet, loving, and she walked off into the darkness of the house.  Great Grandpa and the children slept that night, when all was quiet, and the wrinkles and the tears were healed in the firelight.

Life is a Decision

Posted in Get Meta!, Inspiration, Journals, Life, People, Realtionships, School, Work on October 12, 2007 by blakejohnson

I recently wrote this as a part of a response to a friend’s email.  It was interesting because her email tied together all of the things that have been hinting at this message in my life the past week or two.  It’s an important message, to be sure, and everybody knows it I think, to some extent, but not everybody knows it fully.  So here’s my theory on life, heh, and one of the umpteen-zillion aspects of it.

Filmmaking at a professional level is extremely hard, mostly just because you have to know a lot of influential people to get you into the position where you’re surrounded by good enough connections to get heard about by somebody. That’s the most frustrating part, that their isn’t an outlet for very creative but still very amateur filmmakers that guarantees them passage into some place that gives them more to work with for an even wider audience base and a bigger result until they can build themselves up to something even bigger and better. That’s the kind of moviemaking we should congratulate, not yet ANOTHER James Bond movie that really wasn’t all that good.  There’s something I’ve been learning through doing this writing experiment of my screenplay and just living the past few weeks, and that’s basically that we’re all in control of our own lives. You can’t always feel organized or definitely sure, and you shouldn’t, really, because life wouldn’t be the same, but you are in control, and you make the decisions, nobody else can make up your mind for you, so it’s your own responsibility to live the way you decide to live. For me, that means sucking it up and being confident, being my old, usual self, it means more talking, less looking at the floor, just being friendly and nice and openly kind to people, instead of the typical closed, New-England attitude. I was talking with my dad tonight about politics, the first time I’ve ever talked with anyone seriously about politics, and I tried to make the point that basically, the U.S. has gone lazy. The government didn’t really pay attention to the little guy from the moment it started in 2000, and now they’re making all these blundering public mistakes that get brought to court, are written about in papers and then just forgotten. Forgotten! Major cases against the current government that decides the people’s fate for them in this country, and they’re forgotten. The little guy was ignored by them, and now, even the people seeking action against the government is even forgetting about them, they’re the 60-some-odd percent of people that don’t vote, that don’t respond to polls, that don’t seem to care or act about the present situation of the country, and they’re the people that make the difference. The government is supposed to represent the people, what the people want and then do it, and now, the little people who thought they were listened to aren’t, and so they give up, and we lose over half the country to their private, happier worlds where they don’t have to worry about being badgered by either side because neither side remembers that “Oh, right, we’ve got another couple million people we’ve left behind” and they just go on with their pointless, endless political war because nobody seems to care enough to pay attention and do something about the current situation in the world. So, you can’t just let it slide by, as I know you know, but you can’t try to always be in control either. There’s a happy medium that you have to find for you. It’ll work for you, and it’ll probably take time, but once you find that place where you’re confident and happy and things seem to fit – maybe not perfectly, but they fit just the same – then you’re all set, I’d say. I don’t know if this helps or if it just makes the case even more stressful, making you want to find that happy medium but it’s the lesson I guess I’ve been thinking about the past week or so. I’m in control of my life, and there’s nobody that can change that, which means that I need to be responsible for my life and where I take it. It’s like the opposite of fate, and I know sociologists would sort of agree and sort of disagree with me, that’s fine. I’m in control of my life, of what I do, how I act, what I say, if I say anything at all. And so, I’m going to talk to that girl whenever I see her next at the video store or otherwise, and whenever this script is done, I’m going to send it to Emily Browning and ask her to be in the damn movie. And, if she says yes, I will raise the money to get all my film contacts all over the country to come to one place to make the damn movie, because you don’t let the opportunities slide by when they’ve presented themselves, no matter how they “chose” to do so. When you’re ignored, you feel powerless, so don’t let yourself feel ignored. Similarly when you are stressed, often it’s because you don’t feel in control of your own life, and that’s hard to deal with. I guess it’s what’s been happening to me the past few weeks. But, if you just persevere and try to manage your own things at first and then branch out, making bigger decisions until you feel more confident again, then I think things will eventually work themselves out. It’s often the most boisterous, confident people that we admire, typically because they always seem to know who they are, what they want. It’s not all that hard to be like them. All you’ve got to do is make the decision, and you’re on the right track.

Here’s a video below of one of the aforementioned “hints” of this message that happened just tonight.  Oh, and if you’re wondering what those hints are, pay attention to things people say in your life, things that happen, things that have commonalities, similar meanings, or underlying meanings, things that can be applied to your life or speak to you more than whatever else is going on.  Chances are, if it happens a few times, you’d better pay attention.  That’s my philosophy and experience, anyway.

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bbaRyDLMvA

College

Posted in Blog, Friends, Life, News, School on September 6, 2007 by blakejohnson

Well it was my first day of college today.  Pretty cool.  I just feel more mature now, just different, cooler, heh.  I remember talking to a friend a while back and him saying that you just feel different when you turn 18.  You just start thinking that you can’t do things you used to do sometimes, you’re different, there’s a different feeling in the air around you.  I know more of what he means now.  It was one of those rare moments you have with someone when they seem completely genuine and deep.  One of those true movie moments (right, true movie, what an oxymoron) that grab you and you go “wow, that was… and you’re speechless in your own head.”  So now I started college.  Officially.  I had English and Sociology.  I think I’m going to like Sociology.  It was pretty good today.  It turns out it’s more of what I find interesting than I’d first thought.  English is so-so, it seems like it’s just going to be an English class, which isn’t bad, it’s just nothing to brag about, and that’s not so hot really.  I think my posting more in the past two days might have something to do with it.  I’m just different feeling, more into life, maybe.  I was sitting at the table with a couple kids my age after classes and we were just hanging out and it just felt like college kids, hanging out, which is typical, when you think about it, to relate to the college experience.  I just felt like we were older now, more us than kids, and it was cool.  Anyway… I’m posting this because I don’t want to fall into the trend of a college guy blog or website that’s all about viral videos and random stuff online, because sometimes that’s cool, but this is supposed to be my personal blog, so I’d like to keep it related to me at least sometimes.  Plus my friends sometimes read these posts, and the more impersonal they become, the less I’m communicating with those friends.  So, enjoy what I do post in league of videos and entertainment, but this is still my blog for me, about me, and it’ll still have those deeper, more life-related posts in it coming whenever I feel the need or urge to get one up.  Thanks for reading, and enjoy the posts to come.