The Business / The Process

Benevolent Scoldings and What Hamilton Said


likentonIt was opening night at the SCERA’s “The Little Mermaid,” which D3 was performing in and for which she was dance captain (she didn’t get, mercifully, my dancing genes). While we waited for the show to begin, I made my way to the concession stand to get snacks and drinks for the family. I walked by one of the SCERA’s volunteer ushers, and she said hello and that she knew me as “that guy from Liken.” It’s been awhile since I was recognized, and even when we were in full swing, it was rare, on account of me staying behind the scenes mostly. So I asked if she’d been involved in making one of them. She said she hadn’t — just that she and her kids were big fans, knew all of them by heart, and still watched them all the time.

She asked if we were working on another one, and I said something about “not at the moment.” And then she gave me what only can be described as a benevolent scolding. About how they are fun as well as valuable teaching tools for her children and how we really ought to be making more, about how the world needs more of them. She didn’t exactly say this, but it felt like what she was saying was, “Dude, I don’t know what else you’re doing, but what you should be doing is this.” I thanked her for her input and her support.

That Sunday, I got another benevolent scolding in church from a mom who is the self-proclaimed biggest fan of the movies, and she asked what we were working on next, and I explained briefly some of the fiscal challenges involved in making such projects pencil. She suggested such shouldn’t be allowed to stop us, and she offered to help spread the word in any way she could.

Sometimes I’m better at dismissing such things than other times. Sometimes, I mull. It felt like a privilege to be involved in those projects. And sure, I’d love it if we could make more Liken movies. There is no shortage of additional stories waiting to be told. I tell myself we’re on a bit of a hiatus, but the longer time goes by without another Liken, the more that hiatus feels like the plug has been pulled.

Lately, it’s occurred to me, however, that before we might be entrusted to make more of them, we probably should be better stewards of the ones we’ve already made.  Frankly, our websites are suffering from neglect and are a bit of a mess. What’s more, fewer people are buying DVDs anyway as the world heads more toward the digital space.

We should figure this stuff out. I was talking with Ken the other day about how we figure out hard stuff all the time with our day jobs. We’ve learned if we apply ourselves to a problem with enough time and intensity, we usually figure out a solution. Seems like if we applied more of that mojo to Liken, something might shake loose. Like if we could figure that stuff out, maybe the means to make more titles in the series might make themselves manifest to us.

Two other semi-related thoughts swirling.

One. Like most people in the free world, lately, I’ve gotten caught up in a new musical called “Hamilton,” a show I know now better than any show I’ve never seen before because I can’t bring myself to pay $800 for a ticket and I lost the lottery on both nights I was in town recently. But the soundtrack is incredible, and this despite the fact that I’m the least hip-hoppish person in the free world. Nevertheless, the show speaks to me. (Side note: my mom showed me a clip of an interview with creator Lin-Manuel from 60 Minutes in which he talked about how one of the songs in particular took him a year to write, a year, because he wanted each couplet to be as perfect as he could possibly make it. The lyrics are so clever that I took some comfort in the fact that he didn’t just throw them down on a napkin, but I also admire the heck out of that level of perserverence.)

I’ve listened to the soundtrack all the way through maybe a half dozen times. Still wrapping my mind around all the lyrics, but I’m inspired by the theme I take away from the show. Circumstances in Hamilton’s life were were incredibly stacked against him, both as a youth and as an adult. Despite everything he faced, he realized he been blessed with certain gifts, and he vowed that no matter what, “I am not throwin’ away mah … shot.” Most of the lyrics are so dense that I can barely process them, let alone sing along. But “I am not throwing away mah … shot” is frequently on the only lyric I can sing, so I get stuck on it, much to the annoyance of all humans around me, I’m sure.

I don’t have things nearly as stacked against me as he did, nor are the stakes quite as high for me as they were for him. Definitely not suggesting that. But in a very real sense, we’re all given a shot at this thing. Don’t want to throw it away.

Two. There was a somewhat obscure movie that movie-buddy Dano and I went to a few weeks ago called “Sing Street.” The story of some young people in a depressed Dublin back in the ’80s who try to lift themselves out of their dead-end lives through music. A lyric from one of the songs stuck with me. Out of context, it sounds a little corny, but hey, I’m a fan of corny. It goes like this:

this is your life,
you can be anything,
you gotta learn to rock and roll it,
you gotta put the pedal down
and drive it like you stole it.

Drive it like you stole it. I’m against stealing cars generally, but I like the analogy. Sure, sometimes being methodical and precise is good. But sometimes, if you try to wait until all the stars align just perfectly, you’ll end up waiting forever. Sometimes, you just throw yourself at it.

Maybe it’s time to throw myself at it. Don’t wanna throw away mah shot.

Well, great — now that’s stuck in my head again.

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