The work of Mike Varley

Mike Varley Plain Dealer: Goals and Accomplishments, 29-30

May 6th, 2014 by admin

So it’s May 6th and it’s time for my annual birthday review…three months late.  Crazy how this newsletter has evolved since I began it eight years ago as I left college.  What started as a quarterly update turned gradually into yearly intentions, and not it’s a struggle just to keep that afloat.  Entropy is crazy persistent, but the destruction of old habits opens up space for new ones.  I have so many habits these days it’s hard to breathe straight, but all of them are well-intentioned and I hope I can keep perspective.

I’m thirty now.  I can say I’ve spent ten years pursuing creativity in earnest.  I’ve learned so much and still feel humility at my narrow scope of understanding.  I think that’s where you need to be to get somewhere good.
I wonder if this creation will continue.  I could see s way to make it stop now without leaving me devastated.  That might be the age and a changing brain, or it could just be hitting the cap of creative experience.  The momentum is too powerful to stop presently, however, and it’s impossible to forecast what form the pattern interrupt will take.
The city is not especially hospitable to awareness.  For those that don’t know, I left the nursing home to work at a video game company, and now I live here all the time.  I go from job to personal project and back again with little reflection built in.  I hope keeping the course generally positive will protect me from the dangers of such wanton auto-piloting.
Anyway, let’s do this!  A review of 29’s goals and milestones for the new decade:

Goals for 29 Review

“Brunch Movie – So much completed, so much to be done.  Trailer, website, fundraising, DVD creation, festival submission, premiere.  This should really be goals one through five, but I don’t operate that way.”

As with Bruce and Dom, this multi-year goal is a success with more to further.  We had our premiere March 6th at Videology to great success.  This summer there will be at least three more screenings of it and possibly a fourth, starting the first weekend in June.  You can watch the trailer here.  DVD and festival stuff will follow in the coming year.

“Continue the AD Reading Series – I’d like to make this happen every 2-3 months for as long as I’m in the city, getting good documentation, increasing my network of writing connections and pushing my own writing practice.  The goal is to pare it down to the essentials so I don’t go crazy juggling too many projects.”

Accomplished.  We’ve done eight Reading Series’ now and each one has been it’s own social success.  Our next milestone is getting to that 10th edition.

“Make a documentary about the AD birthday project – We have some pretty good documentation compiled from our year of present making.  My goal is to make a summation of the whole process for general consumption.”

This is a fail.  I still think it’s a good idea, but I’ll need to clear a good chunk of time to ever get it done.

“Get Election 2012 CD’s made, send out copies – Having the CD’s made should be a fairly routing process, but I’d also like to mail both election albums out to select people along with letters describing the content.  This includes the Obama’s, Andrew Sullivan, Calvin Trillin and other political figures and wonks.”

Also a fail.  Everything is ready, including the CD cover art, I just let it slip.  I think that time living off savings prevented me from making the investment.  It needs to happen, as the work is legitimate.

“Go through the audio archives – I have tons of recordings from the past few years I’d like to go through and categorize for my own amusement and possibly larger, slice of life interest.”

I did a pretty good job on this.  An example would be an edition of the Queen/Mob archives, which is a 40 minute compilation of our best jam sessions.  I also edited a bunch of old audio recordings on my website from back when I carried a recorder constantly.


Accomplishments of 29

Leaving the Nursing Home – I’ve seriously begun to think of human beings as parallels to the periodic table of elements.  They will stay in one state until an outside stimulus graduates them to another energy level.  I don’t regret any of the time I spent at the nursing home, but it was time to move on.  Nevertheless, it can be hard to leave something so comfortable, and I’m happy with myself for doing it.  If you haven’t heard it, here’s a story talking about my experiences there.

Brunch Movie – I’m pleased with the results of this two year project.  Getting through a project of this scope makes me feel good about myself and translates as a tangible accomplishment I can present to others.  The product is unique and a perfect example of what that portion of my life was like.  I hope to continue to make benchmark documents about my life as it progresses.

Sky-Pony Video – The video we did with Sky-Pony for “Say You Love Me Like You Mean It” is something I’m very pleased with.  From conception to release it was about a six month process.  I’m happy to report lead singer Lauren Worsham just got nominated for a Tony for her work on “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.”  Go Lauren!

Reading Series Writings – The Reading Series’ primary function is to get me to produce new works for performance.  This year, I got two new CNF pieces about the nursing home and a job opportunity at the MTA, revised an old CNF piece about Seasick Mama and wrote a frank prose poetry piece about depression.  You can check them all out on the AD Reading Series Youtube Page.

New Job at Avalanche – Hard to imagine I’m working in an industry I wanted to work in from ages 9-19, but I’m in the video game business these days and it’s great.  After so many years doing one type of work, being able to spend my days being creative is a wonderful, dramatic, and still massive change to wrap my head around.  I’m learning so much about office life, full time city life and large scale creative projects.

Goals for 30

More Brunch – Have the summer screenings, get a DVD made, submit to festivals, get it online.

Video Sketch Project – Some friends and I have embarked on a new sketch comedy video project.  Planning started back in January and we filmed 5 scenes just last week.  Early returns are promising, so giving this it’s proper attention is an important goal for me.

Avalanche – Now that I have a job that’s creatively fulfilling, I’d like to learn how to to make my work hours the main thrust of my creative ambitions, leaving my personal time free to just be.  I worry about this struggle, of being able to let go of personal projects for the sake of leisure time.

Update my website – The website needs a facelift and better navigation for all the content I’ve created over the years.

Script writing for movie project – I have an idea.  We’ll see what happens.


That’s it for another year.  I started doing this goals list at 24.  For some interesting data, I’ve accomplished 19/32 goals (one year I did seven goals).  3 of 5 a year.  Mister 60%.

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