300 Days of Content (or, How I Let Go of My Resistance and Joined the Content Revolution)

One day in late December, I woke up and the thought popped into my head: Im going to make a little video every day for a yearstarting TODAY. I think in the back of my mind, I’d been ruminating on doing something like this, but the immediacy of the TODAY was sudden and new.

In the next five seconds, I thought Well, if I’m going to do a year, shouldn’t I wait until January 1st? But even as I thought that, I knew if I waited, at all, I would start planning it out, realize the whole thing was dumb and not do it.

So I told Paul, who was also waking up, my plan, along with its on-the-fly, less-than-creative name, “300 Days of Content.” After he finished grumbling that my plan was going to impact his plan to start running again (he had apparently been struck at the same moment by the impetus to start a project) he deemed it a good idea. He generally believes I could benefit from being less premeditated and precious in my creative life, and also knows I’ve been paying for an Adobe Premiere subscription for going on three years, and barely using it.

Thus 300 Days of Content project was born.

Which is ironic, because, for years, I’ve been resisting content — at least the term as we use it today.

Once upon a time, before the early 2000s, the word content used to refer to what what a work of art or literature contained. The content of a story was the plot and the characters etc.

But with the advent of the internet it came refer to “any form of digital media that is created and distributed online.” In the beginning, this was mostly text-based, because that’s what the technology allowed, but as the technology evolved so that everything is online, the definition has also evolved to include images, audio, video etc.

The first time I remember clocking the word content used in the “new” way was probably about 2006. I was in Florida, immersed my Creative Writing MFA program and someone on my new Facebook account was talking about generating content. I remember feeling irritated. The way she was talking, it sounded like if someone wrote a Facebook post, it was content and if someone wrote the new War and Peace, it was also be content. Here I was, investing my sweat, tears, time and money into becoming an artist, and now this yokel was reducing all my work — all of everyone’s work — down to one thing? What the hell?

Nearing two decades later, we call television shows and films content. Reality shows are content. Enormous essays in magazines are long form content. Podcasts are audio content. TikTok videos are content. This blog is content. The contents of the content—its goodness, badness, worthy-of-existence-ness — is a secondary consideration to be discussed in think pieces that are also content.

Man, 2006-Barrington would have railed against this with energy and conviction.

But 2023-Barrington is tired and no longer knows anything.

Maybe insisting on evaluating and categorizing the contents of the content simply old-fashioned and elitist. Maybe I’m just yucking on everybody’s yum. Though not really, “everybody” because who’s listening to me anyway? Which I guess means I’m just yukking on my own yum.

All because I don’t like a word.

Because I’ve actually always loved making stuff. Drawing, tie-dying T-shirts, making up skits, improvising dances, writing this blog — all compulsive acts of creation, resulting in stuff. Stuff can be dumb and it doesn’t matter (at least at first). It doesn’t have to be subject to self-assigned stakes or agendas.

And isn’t content just another word for stuff?

So I’m making some stuff, and calling it 300 Days of Content.

(It’s a learning expedition, and I think I’ll eventually explore housing all 300 videos on a YouTube channel or on this website, but the fastest and easiest tool to get started was TikTok, (which then shares to Instagram) so for the moment that’s where my stuff is.)

2022 Recap (“It Was A Ride, But We Didn’t Fall Off”)

(This year I decided to do two versions of a year-end newsletter, the first was a “professional” one that I finished and sent at the end of November, (you know, like a professional). And for family and friends, this version from me and Paul that —no surprise—is a couple days late, a little messier, with a dollop of over-sharing! 😉)

SPRING of 2022 came outta the gate bucking and kicking. First up, a bunch of medical stuff associated with my end-of-2021 colon cancer diagnosis. We got a surgery on the books on the surgeon’s only free slot—a day in early April that coincided with our wedding anniversary. Meanwhile, our house entered its 4th month of being wrapped in plastic as our landlord waited on a permit to do some repairs, one of our cars was stolen, and then three weeks later the other was hit while parked. 

But… we got to drive a fancy insurance-paid rental to the Sedona Festival, where we had so much fun and Paul’s film (as a producer) Americanish won Best Comedy Feature. SFF takes great care of its filmmakers, with food, lodging and parties. We met beautiful folks that we’ll keeping in touch with as well caught up with old friends who drove from the Phoenix area to see us! 

In April, surgery went well with no adjuvant treatments needed! Paul heroically withstood my resentful looks as he jabbed me with needles full of blood thinners for the first month of recovery, and my mom, Kathleen, hosted me at her apartment for two weeks feeding me from my “no fiber” list of approved foods and giving me a view from windows not covered in plastic!

(Her heroism is continuous, as soon after, we received news that her brother, my Uncle Bruce, had been injured in a car accident. She has been splitting her time between Indiana and Texas for much of the year.) 

SUMMER adventures included Paul deciding to take Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes. Extrovert that he is, he invited three friends to attend the free trial class with him. It’s all fun and games until one of your friends has a heart attack right after class!😬 The attack was minor and the friend is fine. Paul is continuing his BJJ journey… the friend decided it wasn’t for him.

I struggled with what in my theater days we called “post show depression”— when you finish an all-consuming project and then realize you still have to deal with emails, housekeeping,  bills and figuring out what to do with the rest of your life. Lacking focus for my own writing projects, I was happy when things picked up employment wise—I began gigs writing for a digital comic and producing some events at Mattel.

Paul continued to assist and consult individual writers and directors in addition to work on his own projects. It’s the nature of the entertainment business for things to alternate from extremely promising to whelp that’s over! so often that one learns to just ride the bronco, but he did he let himself get excited about a certain writing job that felt very close, and so was extra disappointed when it didn’t work out.

We had a lovely weekend break at the beach, celebrating the 80th birthday of Paul’s mom, Noi and his brother’s family.

By FALL the wild horse of 2022 seemed finally to tire. We woke one morning to the sound of workers pulling the plastic away from our bedroom windows. Paul got good news that a large studio is acquiring Americanish for distribution. (A lot of documents and “deliverables” makes this a long process, but we’re hopeful it will land at a streaming channel near you sometime soon!)

During the Halloween season it was fun to see our previous year’s episode of Creepshow highlighted in the show’s advertising, and built into the the hand of the six-foot tall animatronic “Creep” sold at party stores. (Pics below!)

WINTER brought very special and fun times traveling and visiting friends in Texas, Turkey and The Netherlands, and we were fortunate to have family nearby during the holidays, though we missed having Mom.

THROUGHOUT THE YEAR WE REALLY ENJOYED old friends visiting from Florida, Georgia, Texas, Brazil and Ireland, and sharing space with housemates who, in turn, shared their knowledge and interests, from tarot card reading to podcast producing! We loved going back to movie theaters, and taking yoga classes in a studio again.

ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL. We’re ending 2022 in good health and good spirits, and a lot of gratitude for feeling hope and possibility as we look to the future. 

ON DECK IN 2023 I’ve recently committed to posting short video content for 300 days and now I have to follow through. I have no idea what this project will morph into or how long it will last, but right now, it’s mostly “slice of life” stuff, so if you miss us and want random glimpses into our daily lives, you can check in on TikTok or Instagram). 

Paul has started us on a jogging regimen called Couch to 5K, he’s also giving up between-meal snacking for the first quarter of 2023. He’ll continue to be part of two special-interest podcasts: Gamebrain, for hard-core board-gamers, and Star Trek Discovery Pod for Star Trek aficionados. He’s written a really cute horror short to direct in 2023.

OUR WARMEST WISHES FOR THE NEW YEAR
The funnest, warm-fuzziest moments of the year were the ones where we got to connect with friends old and new. We hope this year brings you everything you wish for most and a little more

With a lot of love and warm wishes,

B & Paul

P.S. TOO MANY PICS (that I can’t figure out how to resize):

6-foot Animatronic Creep Guy
Comic book with Creepy Title reading Time Out

(He’s reading our episode, TIME OUT!)

2022 Recap #1 (“Everything is Awesome”)

This year I decided to do two versions of a year-end newsletter. This is the one I sent at the end of November to entertainment industry contacts and folks from that arena. It is work-focused, accentuates the positive and politely doesn’t mention the negative. Privately, I think of it as the “Everything is Awesome, I’m Awesome and You Should Hire Me” Edition… Enjoy!

Happy End-of-Year Greetings!

2022 was a topsy-turvy year, but there was still good fun to be had.

WORK: I was super-happy for opportunities to use my writing and production skill sets this year by:

  • Writing my first DIGITAL COMIC. Based on I.P., it follows an ex-mobster’s adventures in the afterlife.
  • Crafting mythology and lore for a VIRTUAL REALITY GAME where you are transported to a magical island to learn to meditate. (With frequent collaborator Paul Seetachitt.)
  • Producing VIDEOS and LIVE SHOWS at a major toy company.

CREATIONS: It’s always a burst of dopamine to see one’s creative work have a life out in the world:

  • TIME OUT, my segment of Creepshow (written with Paul Seetachitt), was featured in Shudder’s ads for the show and immortalized as a comic book in the hands of the six-foot animatronic Creep sold for Halloween!
  • Two original works (a pilot and a short story) were optioned by production companies who pitched them this year.
  • Flash fiction, MY HULK appeared in Altered Reality Magazine.
  • GIRL, WOLF, WOODSMAN will be published in Santa Monica Review this spring. A short story that imagines Little Red Riding Hood’s life after she’s “saved from the wolf.” There will likely be a live reading, and I get paid in unlimited contributors copies, so let me know if you’d like to be on the list for either of those!

ADVENTURE:

  • I am coming out of the closet as a Solar Return traveler. That’s a person who lets an astrologist recommend where in the world she should be on her Solar Return (aka birthday) to optimize her horoscope for the coming year. This year’s destination is Samsun, Turkey! In two days, I’ll be on a plane to Istanbul.

2023, LOOKING FORWARD:

  • Two pieces of fiction and three specs didn’t make it to the finish line this year. If I can pull them across in 2023, I’ll feel great satisfaction.
  • There’s a sweet horror short we’ll be trying to get in the can.
  • Work-wise, I’m fortunate to have a couple “holds” for jobs on the books, but also have some stretches where I am available. Need someone in or around a writers room (temp / sub or freelance)? Production support for an Indie-film? Or something new and interesting? Give me a shout!

Sending you my warmest wishes for satisfying work, whimsical adventures, health, happiness and love in the coming year!

Barrington

Post Travel Update

I’m back from my travels to Istanbul, Samsun (another city in Turkey) and Amsterdam and Utrecht in the Netherlands.

It was a very, very good trip that was soul-nourishing and reminded me of the kindness of many humans—friends and strangers both. I ended up spending a good amount of time with friend and fellow writer, E, who, though he’s been in California for the last 22 years, is from, and happened to be working in, Istanbul. He met me at the airport and helped me find my way into the city and to my AirBnB, and in subsequent days took me to restaurants, showed me various neighborhoods and introduced me to the various aspects of the city’s transportation system—consisting of buses, trains, other trains, and ferries. He also filled me in on some history and context of the places we went in a very interesting way, and we had some conversations about writing and the writing life as well.

Additionally, both of my AirBnB hosts were great, with very pleasant housemates. T, my first host, was a social studies teacher. She made breakfast on a couple of mornings when she was around, and plied me with fresh herb teas and honey and ginger for my cold that had descended the day of my departure. I think her remedies helped, because the cold largely resolved in a few days without ever becoming the kind of scary chest cough bronchitis thing I’ve been prone to manifest in the past. (BTW It wasn’t Covid, and I wore a mask in close indoor situations.) My second hosts were a couple with a 1.5 year old and three cats. He was a computer software engineer, and they both also run a Tango-dancing school and teach classes. We hit is off and, along with E, went out for drinks in their neighborhood my first night.

In between my two Istanbul AirBnBs was my trip to my Solar Return assignment, Samsun. I showed the bus drivers outside the Samsun airport the address of my hotel. They put me on a bus, then, after conferring with each other in Turkish, gestured for me to disembark and get on another bus instead—and it was one that brought me where I needed to go. My two nights at a hotel were a perfect break—alone time with luxuries like my own bathroom and extra pillows. I rang in my birthday by staying up too late reading a novel in bed, and the next day I spend some time on a bench looking at the sea and thinking, and even attempted a sketch, which I haven’t done for ages.

The last leg of my trip was The Netherlands—where I met Paul for his 3-day fast Solar Return trip. We stayed with old friends from Australia who are living in Utrecht for a couple of years, While they were at work we did some sight-seeing in Amsterdam, going to the Ann Frank house and the Van Gogh museum, but the best part was coming home and getting to hang out, play board games and catch up with our friends and get to know their two fabulous kids.

I’ve arrived back in LA spiritually refreshed, but sluggish from the time shift (Istanbul is 11 hours different from LA, and Amsterdam is nine). Tonight, I succumbed to the temptation to fall asleep on the couch at about 7:30 PM, and woke wondering if it was morning… It was 11:30 PM… which is why I am writing this now, at almost 2:00 AM, and am thinking about watching some TV before going back to sleep, even though I know that’s not a great decision for “Tomorrow B,” who is slated to attend two holiday gatherings tomorrow!

Pre-Travel Anxiety

What is the purpose of this theatrical exercise—of standing on stage, arms outstretched then falling backwards trusting life will catch you, of taking leaps of faith to prove to yourself you won’t hit the ground… at least too hard?

Maybe it’s that trust takes strength and skill, the development of which requires practice. We play scales and the exercises of Czerny on the piano— thousands of notes designed to be forgotten— in order to be able to play other notes which are arranged to be remembered. 

This is what I wrote in a notebook a few weeks ago, when I was feeling philosophical. 

This week I’m not feeling so philosophical. This week I’m mainly wondering, why the fuck would someone who has as much pre-traveling anxiety as me keep choosing to undertake a monumental yet completely optional and frivolous pilgrimage each year?

For the past week my chest has been tight, I get these weird pressure headaches in the evenings, and my right eyelid has been twitching intermittently. Every travel arrangement seems fraught.

For example, to keep costs down, I purchased cheaper tickets with carry-on luggage only, which seemed like a nice self-discipline when I booked – wouldn’t I be happier not lugging around a huge case? But it’s turned out that every flight has slightly different carry-on requirements. I’ve spent hours measuring, reading rules, and consulting Reddit threads about how strict they’ll be about an extra inch here or there. I have two flights on Pegasus Airlines, which seems to be the Turkish equivalent of  Allegiant Airlines, in that the flights are cheap, but the baggage allowance is exactly one piece. Any item, including a purse or laptop bag counts as that one piece, regardless of its size.  Anything additional must be purchased in advance or will cause a large fee at the airport 

On one hand, I feel outraged at a world so clearly determined to penalize the poor at every turn. On the other hand, I absorb the judgmental messaging about what it means to be of lower economic status. If I “mess up” and end up paying a punitive fee, then I probably deserve it for failing to diligently read all the fine print, or selfishly packing so much that I can’t also fit my laptop bag into a 20” carry-on. And the fact that I chose such a low-rent airline to begin with points to suspect life choices. When people make better life choices, their money flows like a river instead of arriving too-seldom and unpredictably like the rain in LA. People who make better life choices fly Turkish Airlines, which is civilized, and allows both a suitcase AND a personal item.

Between my natural tendency (augmented by training) to see small events as representing larger issues, and the fact that these trips coincide with my birthday and the end of each year—the two traditional times for evaluating one’s accomplishments and questioning life’s purpose—it’s not surprising that in these anxious moments I can transform every little thing into a reflection of and referendum on my life. It’s not a great headspace.

But I know from experience that once I’m on the plane, a huge amount of this anxiety will disappear. In my current state, I fear that it won’t, but it will. 

I just have to practice trusting.