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Archive for the ‘Postcards’ Category

“Blue Mind, a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment.”
—Wallace J. Nichols
Blue Mind, Chapter 1 “Why Do We Love Water So Much?’

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While walking through the Minneapolis airport about 10 years ago I saw a Hobie Mirage Adventure Island in all its glory. The Adventure Island is kind of a cross between a traditional kayak and a Hobie Catamaran. A boat in an airport—with a big colorful sail— is impossible to not notice. And it looked like a lot of fun. I filed it away as something I’d like to try someday.

Four years ago I did a demo of a Hobie Revolution, which is like the Adventure Island without the outrigger setup on each side of the kayak. Fully decked out, you can either paddle, peddle or sail the boat. It was alway on my wish list if I ever had some extra time to justify the expense.

Then a few months ago, along came the coronavirus. Thankfully I’m able to edit from home when not doing an occasional video shoot. With my normal two hours of commuting each day gone, my gym closed, and the bike trails overly crowded, I decided it was now or never on getting a Hobie kayak.

For the past three months I’ve averaged taking it out on a lake four days a week for 60-90 minutes each time. Usually around sunrise. It’s been a blast ten years in the making. I’m sure my aging car is thinking we’re heading for a divorce. (My once weekly gas station pitstops have been reduced to just two stops in the last four months.) But from a physical, mental, spiritual, and aesthetic perspective this new venture has fulfilled my expectations.

This honeymoon period won’t last. (The old saying is, “The two best days of a man’s life are when he buys a boat—and when he sells it.” Though perhaps more true of motorized boats.) But it appears I’ll be working remotely through the end of the year, so I’m looking forward to seeing a few more sunrises and sunsets on the water before the music stops.

And who knows, maybe a personal project will come from my photos and footage on the lake. Keep looking for the silver lining in this unusual time. Here are some samples of my new favorite way to practice socially distancing :

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Scott W. Smith 

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I took this photo around 6:45AM yesterday just about 15 minutes after sunrise. A massive dust storm off the coast off Africa—nicknamed “Godzilla”—made its way across the Atlantic to Florida this week causing unusually hazy conditions.

The Spanish moss hanging from trees is not only common in central Florida where I took this photo, but throughout the south.

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P.S. I heard on the BBC this morning that India on top of having a Coronavirus outbreak is dealing with the largest swarms of locusts than they’ve experienced in 30 years dangering the food supply and economy in some regions. What else can 2020 bring?

Scott W. Smith

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I took this photo at 6:27 AM yesterday following a day and night of social unrest around the country. It was a nice reminder that there is still much beauty in the world.

May it give you some respite from your newsfeed.

Scott W. Smith

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Postcard #190 (Social Distancing Bird)

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I took this photo Saturday in the Orlando area and the lone snowy egret bird seems symbolic of what a lot of people are going through these socially distancing days. Believe it or not, there is a Super Walmart less than half a mile from that bald cypress tree shrouded in Spanish moss. I asked a friend who knows about such things how old he thought tree was, and he said it was there before Sam Walton was born. (Walton was born 102 years ago.)

Scott W. Smith 

 

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“Look, I don’t have the vision or the voice of Martin Luther King or James Baldwin or Jesse Jackson or even of Jackie Robinson. I’m just an old ballplayer. But I learned a lot as a ballplayer. Among other things, I learned that if you manage to make a name for yourself—and if you’re black, believe me, it has to be a big name—then people will start listening to what you have to say. That was why it was so important for me to break the home run record.”
—Hank Aaron
I Had a Hammer

Tomorrow I’ll return with more Coronavirus Writers’ Room posts, but today I thought I’d share something special. Like a lot of people on lockdown during this pandemic, I’ve been spending some time sorting through my stuff. Call it a forced spring cleaning.

This was my recent find—a signed photo of baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron. I was 13 years old when he broke Babe Ruth’s all time home run record.  Even though I was a Cincinnati Reds fan, I was a baseball fan that loved the whole build up to Aaron’s historic achievement.

At some point, I remember writing a letter to Aaron via the Braves organization. And some time later the signed photo below came in the mail. I was young and naive enough to think that life was always going to go as smooth.

This was also back in the day long before autographs were a big business and forgery was the issue it is today. Aaron has a distinct signature and it lines up well with others I’ve seen online, so I’m going to believe it’s 100% authentic. Thank you Mr. Aaron and the Atlanta Braves for the cherished memento.

I’ve kept it in safe keeping in a filed sleeve all these years, but in the spirit of Marie Kondo’s concept of sparking joy—I’m now going to get it framed and have it on display.

It was many decades after Aaron retired when I fully understood his accomplishment. He not only became the home run king, but he did it under immense pressure of hate mail and death threats. One letter was a blunt as “Retire or die.” He did eventually retire after a great career playing baseball and today is a senior vice president with the Braves.

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This is what the home run looked like on April 8, 1974.

If you’re unfamiliar with Aaron, read his autobiography I had a Hammer, and check out the video below.

P.S. And since the start of  MLB has been delayed with the coronavirus, Ken Burns has made his Baseball series (produced with Lynn Novick) available on PBS for free.  

Scott W. Smith 

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“There are things we can all do to get through this by following the advice of experts and taking care of ourselves and each other, no? Remember, despite all the current events, there is no crying in baseball. Hanx”
Tom Hanks tweet today
(Tom and his wife Rita have been diagnosed with Covid-19)

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I took the above photo of The Old State House in Boston on the first day of this month. Just 11 days ago—but it seems like a year of events have transpired in that time.

At least in New England life seemed relatively normal.  I went to a documentary workshop in Rockport, Maine the last week of February knowing that there were concerns of the COVID-19 virus overseas and limited places in the United States. But overall, it was business as usual.

I walked around some of the key historical sites in Boston on the afternoon of March 1, and flew back to Orlando later in the day.  The next night in Boston state health officials announced they’d identified “the first presumptive positive case of the coronavirus in Massachusetts.”

And that situation was duplicated in various parts of the country, and before you know it SXSW canceled their upcoming conference in Austin, movie premieres were pushed back, the stock market took a big hit, NBA suspended their season, MLB canceled spring training, Disneyland and Disney World announced they would be closing for the month of March, and colleges began making plans to finish the semester via online education.

A lot can happen in a little over a week. We’ve sadly seen the damage done and the loss of lives in in China, Iran Italy, and radical steps throughout the world have been taken to stop the spread of the virus.

I doubt I’ll write much about the virus and will plan on continuing to blog about movies, screenwriting, and filmmaking for anyone looking for a healthy creative distraction from the regular news.  But I do pray for those suffering and hope that the world can get back to normal in the coming months. (And since a pandemic has built in goals, stakes, and urgency I might be writing about it from a dramatic perspective more than I think I will.)

The symbolic thing about The Old State House is back on July 18, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed by Col. Thomas Crafts from the east facing balcony to a crowd gathered below.

It’s reassuring knowing that this country has weathered a lot of storms for the past 200+ years and will hopefully weather this one without too much damage. I didn’t care for history when I was in school, but I love it now for the perspective it gives.

P.S. My next post will touch on how Walt Disney helped entertain people through one of the toughest decades in U.S. history.

Scott W. Smith 

 

 

 

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“We were able to show some early footage [of Crip Camp] to Priya Swaminathan and Tonia Davis, who run Higher Ground, and they were really intrigued by this kind of reel that we’ve cut together.”
Crip Camp co-director Nicole Newnham
No Film School interview with Oakley Anderson-Moore
(On a turning point for getting the film completed and distributed.)

Last Friday, I went to see the documentary Crip Camp which won an audience award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.  The film was part of the Cabin Fever film fest held at the Opera House in Camden, Maine. A bonus was some of the filmmakers (in person and via Skype) held a Q&A after the showing.

Documentary filmmaking is hard on many levels. In one sense, Crip Camp was five years in the making. But since much of the found footage was shot back in the early ’70s, you could say this documentary was 40+ years in the making.

The movie was picked up by Netflix and will find a wider audience starting later this month.

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Scott W. Smith 

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Today I completed a five-day workshop on Writing and Developing The Documentary at the Maine Media Workshops in Rockport. It was led by former Time magazine reporter Emmy Jack McDonald, whose writing and directing credits include working with Discovery, National Geographic, and PBS.

I watched and discussed more documentaries than I have in any single week of my life—probably more than in most months, and some years. I can’t breakdown what I learned from watching all or part of 15+ documentaries, or the many proposals we looked at, but I can share with you the core of the class in one photo. (It’s no surprise there is much crossover in structuring a documentary, and structuring a narrative story. And both are deceptively hard to do well.)

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Scott W. Smith

 

 

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Postcard #185 (Salem, MA)

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Just your average blue sky day in Salem, Massachusetts where a guy on single wheel electric skateboard carrying a dog on his hip, outnumber witches.

Scott W. Smith

 

 

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In my travels throughout the United States there are pockets that I’ve missed. One of those, Gloucester, MA, I was able to visit Sunday. It’s less than an hour north east of Boston, but an area I just couldn’t fit into my previous trips to New England.

I took the above photo of Gloucester’s Fisherman Memorial with an iPhone. The eight-foot sculpture was designed by Leonard F. Craske and overlooks Gloucester Harbor.  Craske won the artistic competition to design the memorial to commemorate Gloucester’s 300 anniversary, the town’s link to the sea, and remember those who have died in various storms while plying their trade.

Over the years, various movies, documentaries and reality shows have done a good job of making us aware of where our food comes from and some of the dangers involved in the process. Tomorrow I’ll look at one of those.

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Scott W. Smith 

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