The Gospel According to Heart

Become your own valentine.
Carve your initials
in the soft yielding bark
of your rooted hidden self,
dwell there, with choice tenderness
swelling the boundaries of your troubadour heart.
Become true to your own basking,
to the wonder-wheeling molecular bond
between you and the Universe.
Pay good, gracious attention,
and know that Love’s undimming proof
cannot be boxed, quartered, dissected, or defaced—
in essence, it is traceless in its vim and smolder.
Become your own valentine,
and come to feelize the truth
that you are not even “you,”
that is a shining sham and beggared illusion.
You are a part and magnetic extension
of the everythingness that shapes and forms
what might you call the universal lore of attraction.
And, if you so desire, you can fight it off
with a hundred clubs or thousand sticks
in a million different ways,
but that will not change the fact
that you are wedded to an energetic orgy of togetherness,
a liminal bubblebath that includes everyone and everything.
It is What IS. Dig?
The Universe, as a Valentine’s torch song
of cosmic proportions,
throbs and hums and thrums and palpitates,
which gives you a chance to tune in, Now,
to a self-Love Supreme,
and become your own gospel
to what dreams may come.

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(Artwork by Izumi Yokoyama)
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Self-Love Supreme

A true valentine crafted by Derek Walcott, titled “Love After Love”
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
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Bag o’ Rags Resurrected

On the next-to-last day of our campaign, we are proud to present an exclusive musical introduction to Adam Swanson playing the 1912 tune, “Bag o’ Rags” (composed by W.C. McKanlass), which was the theme song of the Keystone Kops.
Troy masterfully crafted and wove together footage from our private session with Adam at his alma mater, Fort Lewis College, and Adam’s gig at the Diamond Belle Saloon, in creating this unqiue cinematic memento. View the video here.

Bag of Rags, A

 

 

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The Dance

Our actors, Clint Murphy and Rita O’ Connell, received choice tutelage from choreographer, dancer and director of the Academy of Performing Arts, Miss Amber Vasquez. If you are someone who is interested in and engaged by process, and watching moving parts synthesize, Troy beautifully captured Clint and Rita’s private dance session with Amber. This recorded practice, which relates to our film’s black-and-white slow-dance sequence, flowers and unfolds with a natural narrative arc, culminating in an exquisite final shot.
Watch the dance here.

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Way Out West

We are thrilled to announce that Adam Swanson, one of the world’s foremost vintage performers of American popular music, including ragtime and early jazz, will be contributing his musical talents to our film, Ballad of the Cuckoos. Adam, who is the only four-time World Champion Old-Time Piano Player, has showcased his formidable repertoire at Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, and has accompanied silent films at the prestigious Cinecon Classic Film Festival at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.
This past weekend we undertook a field trip to Durango, CO, and recorded a private afternoon “concert” with Adam, in which he played us a slew of tunes on a Steinway grand, including the Laurel and Hardy theme song, “Dance of the Cuckoos.” Then, at night, we got to watch Adam unleash a siege of old-timey exuberance at his “home-away-from home,” the Strater Hotel’s Diamond Belle Saloon, where Adam is the resident pianist (following in the musical footprints of Adam’s hero, mentor and friend, the late Johnny Maddox, a ragtime legend, who was the Saloon’s pianist from 1996-2012). We will be releasing video clips of Adam’s performance later this week, but here are some photos that capture the spirit and joi-de-vivre of  our time-capsuled night at the Saloon .
To find out more about our film, visit: igg.me/at/cuckoocinema
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Cuckoos in Toyland

When you’ve grown up, my dears,
And are as old as I,
You’ll often ponder on the years
That roll so swiftly by, my dears,
That roll so swiftly by.
And all the many lands
You will have journeyed through
You’ll oft recall,
the best of all,
The land your childhodo knew
Your childhood knew.
Toyland, toyland,
Little girl and boy land,
While you dwell within it,
You are ever happy then.
Childhood, joyland,
Mystic merry toyland,
Once you pass its borders,
You can ne’er return again.
These lyrics, written by Victor Herbert for the song, “Toyland” (which was featured in the 1934 film, Babes in Toyland, a.k.a., March of the Wooden Soldiers, starring Laurel and Hardy) poignantly exemplifies the spirit of the “toyland” we are striving to create for our Cuckoos. And we need YOUR help in architecting this playscape.
Toys and games from different eras, spanning the 1950s-1990s, are being sought to help us create the stylized and distinct character of our children’s room. Below is a list of some of the specific toys and items we are looking for, but we’re also on the lookout for “unspecified” vintage toys and games that might strike our fancy. What we’re asking for in this cinematic scavenger hunt: take a photo of your toy and send it to us. We will then sift through prospects and make selections. If your toy is selected to appear in our film, we request that you mail it to us (as a donation). You will receive a special thank you in the film credits, and for those who take a fun, playful, dramatic or “cuckoo” picture with their toy, we may include your pic in the gallery roll-call of “toyland” pics during the film credits.
We want our Cuckoo Room to become a repository of collective childhood dreams and memories, a shared place of warmth, play and sanctuary.
You can email pics to: johnbiscello@gmail.com. If we use your toy, we will send you the address to which it should be posted.
Some of what we’re seeking:
Also, there are thirteen days left before our campaign ends, so please visit our page if you want to find out more about our indie film and become part of our growing Cuckoo flock: igg.me/at/cuckoocinema
We are winging our way forward, one shimmying feather at a time. Here’s to the land of childhood and all its inspired magic-making!
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Love Is

I miss you already,
the sun-kissed daisy
whispered to the migrant
flake of snow,
which clung
like a hopeful bead
to the daisy’s
delicate petal
before dying a lover’s death
and melting.
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This Side of Burlesque

And then came the day
when he realized he was free,
always had been
to enjoy the abstracted
stage-play of his thoughts
and their formations,
something of an idiot’s delight,
same as the scabbed-glass opera
of the world without,
its tragedies and follies
swaddled in petticoats
of burlesque
(the people burning—
Take it off, take it off)
how interesting it all was,
how thoroughly enjoyable
it was to be alive,
 a mortal gob of wax engaged
to the briefest of candle-flickers
in the ceremonial scheme of dark and light,
how much he would miss himself—
who he was, who he was not—
when he was gone,
when his persona had melted
into a puddle of anonymous molecules
that had to be on their merry, migrating way
(goodbye vagabond molecules!)
while his very last thoughts
might plants the seeds
for a brand-new play
starring god knows who
in some crumbling, time-clipped tenement
of Eternity
where, AT PRESENT,
was an immutable law
and not just a parenthetical
stage direction.
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The Jackdaw and The Doll

jackdaw

A work in progress street scene from “The Jackdaw and the Doll,” a fable I wrote inspired by a story about Franz Kafka. The book is being illustrated by Izumi Yokoyama, as her artistry interprets and realizes a world of fog, mystique, shadows, storytelling, dreams and true love.
THE JACKDAW AND THE DOLL: K. leads a double life. Timid office clerk by day, storyteller by night. But not just any storyteller. Transforming into a jackdaw, K. takes secret night-flights around the city, collecting moments of inspiration. Confronted by sickness, and “The Shroud” which has haunted him since childhood, K., joined by his new love, Dora, moves away from home to The City of Birds. It is there that he will meet a young girl, heartbroken over her lost doll, and be given a golden chance to share the healing magic of storytelling.
A fable about love, compassion and creativity, inspired by a story about the writer, Franz Kafka.
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Welcome to the Dollhouse

Ballad of the Cuckoos is offering an intimate sneak-peek into “the room” in which our protagonists find themselves trapped. This small-scale model of the “Cuckoos Nest,” was created by my daughter, Sierra-Lindsey Biscello, who has been buiding custom-made dollhouses from recycled materials for the past several years. We hired her to build a miniature facsimile of our room/set, in which she meticulously crafted its assorted contents and structure. “The Cuckoos Nest” is featured in a moody cinematic short, filmed by Troy Paff, and set to the music of Anthony Distefano. Take a tender and cryptic trip into the haunted dollhouse, with your tour guide and architect, Sierra.

 

To find out more about the dollhouse (which we plan to offer as a one-of-a-kind perk), about Sierra’s dollhouses, and about our film, and how you can support us, go to: igg.me/at/cuckoocinema.
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