I posted these words in response to a comment by an insecure beginning artist on a video, “10 Tips to Shooting Cinematic Music Videos,” by Parker Walbeck, a successful commercial videographer who specializes in sports and adventure products.

“Speaking as a professional writer/editor for 47 years, yes, confidence comes by fiddling with your art every day. Soon you’ll learn that all your work is private and nobody is looking over your shoulder. Seymour Papert said in Mindstorms that the most valuable lesson children can take from learning to program is a “debugging approach to life.” He pointed out that professional programmers make, on average, at least 10 mistakes per 100 lines of their first-draft code. Every project starts with scraps of crap, and if there’s an underlying good idea it will emerge.”

I’m not a videographer. I do some stills photography. but I’m a writer and editor by trade, and I get juiced watching artists who are good at what they do.

I also submitted this comment:

“ Great stuff. Real artists are athletes, beefy guys like Chihuly and Calder… No posers in Parker Land.”

While you’re busy doing your art, you’re bound to meet people who like to sit in the grandstands and yell about what you’re doing wrong. My advice is: take a look at their work; it won’t be impressive.

– o –

I received an email recently that invited me to submit my favorite “spiritual” films as part of a list for spiritually minded people.

Okay, I’m sure my first choices wouldn’t make the cut. Have you watched “Goon”? It’s a very, very profane sports movie about a hockey player who’s dumber than a puck. A minor league team in Nova Scotia hires him to basically beat people up, something he’s very good at. You can just about guess where the story goes from there.

When I think of “spiritual” films, “Goon” ranks near the top of my list. How come? — since every other word starts with f and ends with k? Because it tells the story of a guy who undergoes trials and emerges better than he was, and that’s a theme in every movie I can remember that inspired me, from “What Women Want” to “Batman Begins.”

For the spiritual flick list, I’m pretty sure I would have received plus points for suggesting “Gandhi.” But I didn’t find “Gandhi” particularly inspiring. The problem I saw with the movie is that it presents Mahatma Gandhi as close to perfectly baked, spiritually speaking, whereas his autobiography more realistically describes the tests he had to endure, and I can relate to that.

I’ve read a ton of books by or about the saints and found them incredibly inspiring. Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi comes to mind. The difference is that Yogananda speaks with a voice that reaches everyone at their level, whereas “Gandhi” just parades this great figure before us while neglecting the viewer’s need for deeper understanding.

I don’t believe good art has to be rarefied. Did you know that P.G. Wodehouse, the British humor writer who’s universally admired by other famous writers, used to read oceans of trashy novels from which he would cherry-pick choice phrases for his notebook. Wodehouse loved American soap operas and watched them daily, believing them to be amazingly true to life. Wodehouse wrote masterfully silly books that give us a God’s eye view of humanity.

By the way, I love the song behind the “Goon” end credits, “Work With What You Got” by Socalled:

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