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Harryhausen’s Outback Showdown: Deliver or Die, Skippy

January 20th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon
Harryhausen's Outback Showdown

I’ve been writing and editing and re-writing my story for this Monday’s Moth GrandSLAM, just scribbling it over and over on a legal pad to make sure I’ve got it. The theme is “Into the Wild,” which poses a challenge. I’ve pretty much told and re-told what I like to think is a pretty solid story on that theme. I’ve told that thing right into the red dirt, to be honest. I’m sure my friends, family, and the odd person I am totally trying to impress is sick to their guts of it. I think I’ve worn a track in my brain from repeating it so damn much.

I got one of the best passive-aggressive guilt trips about this that I’ve ever had from anyone that wasn’t my own mother recently. She’s a great friend I met through the Moth, and when I suggested I wanted to visit that old incarnation of that story for the theme, she said “Yeah, I mean, you could do that. But if you won with it, I think you’d feel pretty cheap.”

She’s right. So I’m working on it, but brother, you never know you’ve got something until it’s over and done with. The challenge here is to find other material in that experience, stuff that didn’t make the first cut and massaging it into something brand-new.

And beyond that, I’ve got this pretty awesome guilt complex going where I think that if I’m not worrying enough about something, I’ll have earned every microsecond of perceived failure if it doesn’t go off perfectly. Healthy, I know.

I was sitting there making myself nuts last night trying to tighten this thing, and I finally just had to pack it in. Instead, I started fooling with my camera and ended up making this little photo, below. It’s half a tribute to Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion skeletons and half my own inner monster threatening that same old kangaroo, saying “you better deliver again, buddy.”

I shot this with a Nikon D90 and started fiddling with an HDR tutorial. That kinda went pear-shaped, so I manipulated the thing to look like a still from an old movie that you might have seen late at night when you were supposed to be sleeping.

Psychotronic cinema is pretty much the best kind,if you ask me. It’s the purest expression of beauty in art — something that blossoms when everyone involved with the film was trying to do something else. That’s actual magic right there.

I didn’t try too hard with this photo, just kind of relaxed and had fun with it. Any beauty in there comes from that spontaneity, from just playing with well-loved stuff and seeing what comes out.

I’m sure there’s some kind of parallel from that to my storytelling experience, but damned if I can see it.

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