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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

August & Everything Afterward

(From the Serotonin-Spun Summa....anticipated publication date-December 25, 2014)


                         “Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors” –African Proverb

 After adopting a strongly suggested diet of heavy psychotropic medication, I was able to sleep—sixty six percent of the time. I also discovered a doctor with a masterful six sense of humor to complement his deep reserves of compassion, patience and pragmatism. Doctor Jones was a blessing as well as an absolute necessity. But, as the serotonin levels dropped and I had the lucid light of hindsight to dwell on the wild, wild events so common in my serotonin-spun summa, I learned that the laws of gravity applied, not only to matter, but also to mind.

 For several exponentially excruciating spells that felt unbound by time, I experienced the low pole of a condition coined "manic-depressive insanity" by Emil Kraeplin—father of Modern Psychiatry, as a flagrantly persistent and seemingly inescapable reality. For the sake of not making the sixteen hours asleep a day doldrums and midnight black shadows of clinical depression contagious, I won’t write about the arctic, subterranean bride of bipolar mania—at least in this tale. But I will stress the historical factuality of the notion that I felt buried under the enormous pressure of damp, heavy sand with an intensity so profound that it made the North Pole of my condition look like a freshly blazed hippie. Every season brought a fresh ice storm from the South Pole, supplemented with a few fierce, two-part manic episodes. And these consistent, callous cycles were invariably a constant to every single year of my early adulthood.

 I tricked and trained myself to believe that I was “mentally ill”—that I had a special need of constant psychotherapy—that the frequent condescension was well-deserved and so I just wore the Bipolar Disorder Stigma around my unconscious, dip-stained Virgina T and let my will to live fade away.
 “Oh, you’re bipolar, so you're crazy. Mentally Ill. Psychotic. A leper in a sea of beauty kings and princesses. You'll just live w/your parents and collect a little government cheese for the rest of your life. Over/under's 37. ” Was a frequent, annoyingly persuasive, early assessment.

 “You’re another bipolar loon, a drain on society. Just jump off the King & Queen's seat at Rock State Park tonight and spare yourself from a lifetime of melancholy and infinite sadness.”

 "You're not gonna wake up for another ten hours but the trains coming, maybe you should lay on the tracks?" Were constant, cancerous hiccups from my second spring semester at Sacred Heart and my first summer in my parent's basement and the third winter to follow a major manic episode that no book, medicine nor fellow human could successfully cure.

 I used to be religious but was indoctrinated by a Catholic mental health professional to believe that my transcendental experiences were symptoms of a biochemical brain imbalance. A former class comedian and handsome soccer player, I was now an incredibly unsick and smelly joke. Fat, drunk, and stupid. Lazy and unlovable. A real loser I was in my motionless mind, out of touch with reality. Mentally ill. Unworthy of respect, unworthy of dignity—unworthy of the remaining years in my potentially beautiful life. The fact that my youth was blissful only rubbed extra salt in my sour patches of seemingly inoperable wounds. Truly, when you’ve experienced the highest pinnacles of heaven, the decrepid depths of hell are infinitely more furious. I tried to find comfort in late-night fried food and the result was eighty eight extra pounds, mostly in my belly and butt. And I found so much more discomfort in my knees, heart and mirror reflection.

I now saw myself at twenty one—a two hundred ninety five pound bipolar virgin without a will to see twenty two, just three years after posting four phenomenal years as an active, athletic, attractive and equally Academic, class comedian. But instead of surveying the precise spot in my enormous stomach to plant a samurai sword, I reached for a blue, ballpoint pen and it has continued to make all the difference between being a big, fat bipolar loser and escalating as a pleasantly plump published author.

Initially, I simply began to record my thoughts and talk with a veteran school psychologist, Bill Jones. Recording my most pervasive thoughts, whether gloomy or sunlit; transferring my seemingly endless treasury of memories to the Microsoft Office suite and absorbing the wise, carefully weighed words of my favorite doctor served the underrated and equally therapeutic function of understanding, pinpointing then releasing my “Seers Catalogue” of frustrations with the serotonin-driven life. My extensive, empathetic and most importantly, honest dialogues with Doctor J transformed my perspectives and invariably, allowed a spectrum of adjustments to living with a profound mood disorder. He taught me to see being manic-depressive as a blessing, when balanced, that mainly smart people are touched with; “a key source of easy access to creative regions and crowning perspectives that most people could never even begin to access, even in their dreams.” And although it took burning alive in an inferno fueled by clinical insanity to become born anew,  I was able to, step by step, dull day to dream day, dig my way out of the quicksand and into an earth-toned life that was comically in balance.

 A keystone of the Metamorphosis was quality, holistic therapy and scanning my memory bank for content I could later mold into a custom, charismatic narrative but, not to lose consciousness in a 3AM blackout, were my discoveries of some life-changing aphorisms and intuitively inspired verses.

 “It’s not the things themselves that disturb men, but their judgments about them.” – Marcus Aurelius

“If you don’t compete or compare and simply be yourself everyone will respect you.” – Lao-Tzu

“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you.”

 - Yeshua, "The Gospel of Thomas"

 Slowly swimming my way out of the freezing waters of deep depression and inertia with these innate ideas as my guiding torch, I began to change my mind about being pretty bipolar. Of course I suffered, but suffering, when risen beyond, only builds character and a desert dry wit. Of course I had been out of my body, but in Periclian Age Athens—arguably the most enlightened setting in human history, such a state was praised and respected. Why? Because the brightest of the Classical Greeks perceived it as Ecstasis—a state in which an individual transcends his everyday self and has a heightened capacity for exceptional thoughts, insights and momentous experiences as a result. Clearly, I had a condition that I would require heavy psychotropic medication for the rest of my life to neutralize but at least there was Lamictal, Abilify and a few good healers to treat the bio-chemically based neurotransmitter imbalance. I'd experienced a lot of legit drama and shattered glass with the people I was most attracted to erotically, duh. But what teenager hasn’t? And at least I drove away from the Pagan Palace with a crowning, emerald jewel.

 Undeniably, I had been born into the belly of a ruby red dragon. But I accepted the fact that I'd been gifted with the infinite atomic energy inherent to extreme artistic temperament. I embraced my pre-arranged marriage to pendulum mood swings and also felt a strong sense of duty wed to the faculties unique to my kind of brain chemistry. The manic-depressive furnace was also reality for a lot of other smart, creative people throughout human history. Vincent Van Gogh, F Scott Fitzgerald, William Blake, Winston Churchill, Jimi Hendrix, Joan of Arc, Edgar Allen Poe, Mozart, Mark Twain, DMX and Teddy Roosevelt are a few super-heavyweights enshrined on a more Himalayan version of Rushmore who also suffered from exalted highs and crippling but clearly surmountable lows.

 At 27, I looked in the window to my soul and saw a creative, comedic, medicated, educated and awake young man laughing back. Despite my seasonal cycles of insomnia, seemingly unstoppable rushes of creativity and my “DSM I-IV official” psychiatric diagnosis, I could no longer see myself as mentally ill but rather,mentally chill. And that discovery, my friends, double banked Socially-Held Stigmas' last cup, sealing my comeback win—in case you're not familiar with the rules of ruit, without any chance for rebuttal.

  -Christopher Casteel 12.12.12

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

This is The End? More like a New Beginning.

Superbad titty f*cked the clichés out of teen coming of age comedies. Pineapple Express reinvented the stoner film. And the masterminds behind both, Seth Rogen and the behind the scenes, wizard of Oz-like Evan Goldberg, have brought us something even hedier in their directorial debut.

This is the End feels less like "the end" and much more like a new beginning for Hollywood comedies. Never ever have I ever seen so many 90's pop culture allusions in a film. I swear, by the moon and the stars and the sky that Michael Cera made me laugh like a hyena on mushrooms. The fusion of a Hollywood "A" list house party with the book of Revelation was original, yeah yeah and equally hilarious. The most distinct, powerful feature of this film however, is its premise--the funniest people in Hollywood under the age of 40, house party at Franco's, then the Apocalypse.

From the film factory that regurgitates the same formulas and premises to the point of nausea. And the people that brought you boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back 1,2,98 and 341; the two dudes that switch bodies trilogies and the acclaimed thriller where the hero doges 387 bullets and saves the world...comes a comedy where your favorite actors play themselves, get slayed on booze, sour diesel and shrooms or, in Michael Cera's case, mountains of Himalayan snow and have to grin and bear the end of the world.

But a great premise alone cannot sustain an audience let alone a high frequency of LOLs and fortunately, for Rogen and Goldberg, their cast is full of comics in full command of their prodigious talent. Danny McBride is not a guilty pleasure. I'm not embarrassed nor ambivalent about loving his humor like three girls who enjoy sucking my D daily. I worship this guys entire catalog, from Footfist Way through This is the End , except EB and Down Season III and Your Highness. In this film we meet the real Danny McBride, not Fred Simmons or Kenny Powers. And he's even funnier than the ultra ego-manic legends he's created. Like Kenny Powers, he's not afraid to haze and mock everybody, even Academy Award nominated actors James Franco and Jonah Hill. But, in this film, he delivers brutal honesty and even more so, a statutory date rapist wit that meets unprecedented heights--especially in the instant classic, largely improvised scene regarding where, why, when and how hard he cums.

Jonah Hill, one of the heroes of the echo-boomer generation and personal favorite comics, plays off public perceptions of his sweetness, empathy and what some may call his homosexual tendencies to deliver an Earth-shattering, Shawn Kemp-like dunk. He wears an earring on his left ear, bromances Jay Beruchel with a bromosexuality that would may even Judd Apabrow envious and describes almost everything that could be labeled "sick", "cool", "awesome" or "hedi" as either "tight" or "sooo tight". Craig Robinson also delivers some big boy laughs. Seth Rogen's comedic muscles are flexed more in the screenwriting than in his performance but he's definitely lol worthy, on occasion. Jay Beruchel doesn't like Forrest Gump, fuck him. But he plays the part of a nerdy, hipster well, I'm guessing from personal experience. And the result is a rendition of the apocalypse that I have faith will never be presented with more hilarity.

Rotten critics have dubbed the film "narcissistic" but the self-deprecating humor and irony pervading the film, especially in Jonah Hill's performance, leads me to assert that these actors are not falling into lakes staring at their own reflections. Rather, they're laughing at themselves all the way to the biznank and legends table. The only reason I didn't given this film five stars is that I could've use more cowbell. And by that I mean, a little more of Danny McBride and Michael Cera and less special effects-driven, acopa-drama. Despite needing a little more cowbell, This is the End is remarkably innovative, unique and most importantly, funny. And hopefully, it's the beginning of an era in mainstream comedic cinema that emphasizes brash tactics, originality and 90's nostalgia over political correctness, fart jokes and the "script by numbers" formula that assumes movie goers suffer from amnesia, mild MR and chronically underdeveloped senses of humor.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Meditations on Last Fortnight's School Cafeteria Shooting


"The Sterling Silver Lining in a School Cafeteria Shooting"

By: Thomas A. Scilipoti


Fifteen minutes into the 2010 feature film, “The Social Network”—which was based primarily on first hand source material that chronicled the exponential and unprecedented growth of an innovative Ivy league-bred concept to an eighty billion dollar information superhighway which thirteen percent of the world’s population now frequents, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg finds himself in a little locked room surrounded by a stone cold serious disciplinary review panel. Facing expulsion after a website ( he created while drunk in his dorm room that allowed students to rate female students’ “talent” generated 22,000 hits and caused Harvard’s so-called “state of the art” internet server to crash overnight, Zuckerburg plays back at Harvard’s head of security who assures him of the sophistication and prowess of Harvard’s current cyber-security system.

“In fact it was precisely this sophisticated system that led you to us in four hours” Spoke the head of security.

“Four hours?” Countered Zuckerburg. “Four hours? That would be mildly impressive, were it not for the fact that had you known what you were looking for, you would've found it plastered on my dorm room window!”

One fortnight ago, roughly four hours after Perry Hall High School sophomore Bobby Gladden updated his Facebook status with the following information “First day of school, last day of my life. t(~-~t) fuck the world!”, a 17 year old and beloved senior with special needs was shot in the cafeteria of his school with a shotgun. Daniel Borowy didn't die on impact of the bullet but was in very critical condition for the fortnight that followed it.

Baltimore County Police did not identify the assailant the day of the shooting. They responded shortly after guidance counselor Jesse Wasmer had tackled and, with a little help from his friends— disarmed, captured and held the shooter in GI Joe/Jane kung-fu grips. The BC police then got in the standard victory formation, took a knee, noted their swift response to a school shooting and repeatedly used the words "community" "prayers" "tragedy" while telling the press that they were not going to reveal the identity of the gunmen at this moment.

Howeva, we live in post-social media explosion world and I was able to glean all the information I needed to prematurely identify the first school shooter in Maryland history as a one, Bobby “My last name makes it even more ironic” Gladden. Why? Because I visited his FB page following a little tip from a fellow pisan via the Feed and quickly spotted the ingredients for a school shooting plastered all over his Facebook wall, sampled here.  


Bobby honestly had me at “I won’t say hello, I’ll just use my long, greasy hair, pale, wan and forlorn pose to express my insatiable rage for anyone, any thing, any place that bears any resemblance to anything that is not strictly of the Death Metal/Chuck Manson genre.

And I don’t want to be accused of “School Shooter Facial Profiling” in case I intend to run for office on the Democratic ticket, howeva, in a line-up of recent domestic scarer-ists the metaphoric black glove does indeed fit.
Look at these assholes


and this `` well-adjusted Hitler youth, alongside these winners.

Add this glamour shot.
Does your intuition that Bobby Gladden, unlike his predecessors, would not be profiled as potential suspects if a student had opened fire in your school? It doesn't unless you're a complete moron moonlighting as a dumbass.   
Dark and mysterious is sometimes an angle that somewhat well-adjusted people use to attract potential mates but this dark, this mysterious, this visibly eerie is an angle that only attracts overwhelmingly holistic discomfort, immediate suspicion, and instant red Sirens to anyone with a spec of intuitive and or common (aka pragmatic) sense can feel instantaneously upon arrival on his Facebook page. Mostly "like"ly his circle of friends were also self-described "Metal heads, that’s about it" whose mutual "like" of the likes of Cradle of Filth, Charles Manson and or Dethklok comprised a filthy pool of not so traditional nerds but the kind of crowd South park portrayed so vivid and precisely as the "goth kids" when Stan decides to join their circle of absent sunlight shortly after Wendy dumps him. [i] Therefore, his final status before he walked into his cafeteria with a shotgun and opened fire on a student with special needs could've and most likely've been construed by his fellow knuckleheads as an attempt at poetry indicative of his melancholy and infinite sadness AND NOTHING MORE.
However, after looking at the nine Facebook friends he added last week, I see a few heads who, upon my first impression of their profile picks, at least seem receptive to intuitive sense, mostly-likely grounded by decent parents and don’t agree with their new FB friend that the song titled, “I smoke crack and fuck Peanut Butter Sandwiches” is, as Gladden put it five days prior to his “alleged” shooting, “the best song ever” as judging by the posts’ zero likes, comments, and my own intuition after reading the title and being well-versed in the likes of the Beatles, Dave Matthews Band, and Motown.
Yet despite having Facebook friends most likely outside the “Death Metal Tool Box”--Twelve people had not yet to de-friend him as of 8PM, one week after the shooting! Despite listing “Murder Suicide at the Manson Family” as his “work” to supplement his 24 likes, 19 related to the “Death or Extreme Metal” genre by my Wikipedia search. Despite his most recent status update, which says essentially, to someone fluent in subtext, “I’m going to school today. This will be the last day of my life, he he. I won’t do anything crazy today….or will I? he he he FUCK THE WORLD!”  Danny Gladden was free to pull a shotgun out in the cafeteria and choo-choo-choose a special needs student to open fire on.
Why? That’s ultimately the most important, constructive question. It's also the most commonly asked question that always follows these depressingly more frequent incidents.
The "omniscient" community of interpretation will inevitably transpire on what triggered this gross monstrosity. Latte sipping liberals with a strong chance of having a hyphenated name but a far less greater chance of possessing a working, empirically-based understanding of human nature and criminal minds, will blame loose gun control laws. Sociologists, soccer moms, and other pseudo-experts will blame various societal factors. 
“It was Marilyn and the heroin! Where were the parents at?”  Says every suburban soccer mom ever.
“No, it was the quarterback of the football team’s occasional Mitch Kremer quips that ultimately led to the attempted assassination of a special needs student.” Says the tenured administrator who was also can sympathize with young Bobby's negative but formative experiences with the Alpha Dawgs in Varsity Lettered-jackets.  
“No you listen up you guinea pigs for my presidential bid in 2016 I mean, people of Maryland. It was a lack of tax payer funded sensitivity awareness and reinforcement training seminars, the systemic “survival of the fittest social food chain” model that plagues our school communities who also suffer from a lack of diversity by not offering enough participation trophies for our every member of our team and, especially the ones who rock D+ averages, trenchcoats, boatloads of existential angst, and the anthology of Death Metal to prove it. Our thoughts are prayers are with the entire community of Perry Hall, the steady hands of our police officers who promptly responded to a 911 call reporting a school shooting and quickly evacuated the students in addition to apprehending the suspect after a teacher and guidance counselor had him restrained.” Says local politician Tommy Carcetti.
But if the powers that be really, really wanna make its students safer, especially with the vast treasury of information not so easily accessible before the social media revolution at their disposal, teach students how to spot signs of the onset of a mental illness! Link them up with succinct but fact intensive resources revolving around abnormal psychiatry and the features of psychological deterioration. School them, quiz them, make sure they can accurately identify language that screams red sirens-- that signals clear and present danger because that’s the only kind of interpersonal awareness that feasibly could’ve kept Bobby "Suicidal Smile" Sadden from being able to draw his weapon of class destruction, four hours after essentially calling his shot on the social network.
Facebook is in, addition to its colossal, addictive and often annoying features,  a public diary/record. Your Facebook friends develop personas by the type of information they post, the pictures they share and the frequency by which they engage the feed. And I have empirical evidence from my own experience that it doesn’t take a doctorate in psychology, gift of clairvoyance or years of foreign language training to see seismic shifts in a Facebook friend during a period of psychological deterioration/despair.
Facebook friends of Bobby Gladden who saw his cryptic post before gunshots were fired in your cafeteria: don’t assume responsibility for the gunshot. We can play the blame game into infinite regression and you did not open fire. But feel very guilty about not seeing the ingredients for a suicide and or additionally dangerous deeds at the very least, plastered on your Facebook friend's wall and keeping it private. Yes I have seen Goodfellas and I’ve heard that snitches do get stitches but, when it comes to disclosing information that will potentially save a life and avert a profound tragedy for many others, that it is not narcing! And if that’s ratting on your friends, call me Master Splinter cuz I’m the biggest rat you’ll ever see.
Cell phones came out in vast array after the shooting. I've taught at fifteen different schools in Maryland and, if a student at Perry Hall were to tell me that absolutely no one saw this post "First day of school, last day of my life. t(~-~t) fuck the world!” in a four hour window, I'd counter with "spare me".  Many cell phones, especially the cool smart phones have a Facebook app. Clearly, the dude’s not a prom king but he had twelve Facebook friends as of seven days after everyone in his school knew he tried to whack a rising senior with a huge heart and some special needs, particularly the need not to get a bullet in his chest during his lunch break!
I understand Bobby Gladden's family life wasn't picturesque. Shocker! And trust me, I don't place sole responsibility for this tragic sequence of events on a fifteen year old boy with a broken home. Maybe the twelve non de-frienders want to stay in communication with Bobby when he goes to jail and it's not my place to throw stones at that play because obviously they see something redeeming in him that I cannot by virtue of not knowing him on a personal level. But I've been defriended for a lot less than attempted murder and his small but tangible group of Facebook friends were either too dumb, too apathetic or too quiet to even bring his most recent status update in the backdrop of his very dark, mostly sinister and fairly recent FB page to the attention of even one person entrusted to ensure a safe, peaceful learning environment for 2200 plus students ! And that makes Daniel Borowy's last two weeks in critical condition especially tragic.
A Ray Lewis, black and purple badge of toughness and perseverance should go to Mr. Borowy and the Sully Sullenberger medal of grace under pressure should go to Mr. Jesse Wasmer who kept the speeding bullet count at one. And I'd "like" to give all of Bobby "Suicidal Smile"' Gladden's FB friends a participation trophy each…but they really showed me nothing that warranted it.
On footnote, the Baltimore Sun reported that Daniel Borowy was released from Shock Trauma yesterday [ii] and I bohlieve that the resilient lad will polish off his remaining credits, walk across the stage, shake his principal's hand and claim his rightful prize in late spring of 2013. But this Thomas seriously doubts Bobby Gladden will be "checking in" at this magnificent occasion.  






Saturday, September 1, 2012

Lead Like Leonardo, Unveil the Emerald City

I ain't so slim,
But y'all sure are shady,
Will y'all eva call me back maybe,
Just maybe
And if and only if,
If I spewed like Haiti
And cried like a Big Hungry Baby,
After I waited in vain to
See you CC me lately.

I know I've been Certifiably Crazy,
But my nugget-crystal ball ain't Hazy,

I bohlieve this boyee's been lazy,
And that G Unit rightfully ma$ed me.

And my gold record broke,
With the onset of Port-A-Pot belly,
That yes can be real smelly,
Like pee, sloppy nuts
or Butt crack jelly. 

But when did y'all brocide,
To tag me as a Brosociate?
What did I do so wrong,
For y'all to go and get yo gong?

Wuz it too many rips of the five foot bong?

Tired of just the same old song?

Don't want The Fish to swim along?

But in the Now, my powerful push ups come with claps
And my rhymes n rants be Google maps--
That lead Dreaming Trees to warranted sap,
Lulls insomniacs to a regular cat nap
And calls barely legal strippers to moral victory laps,

That steers black sheep from great white traps--
That perhaps,
Come across as Kool aids &Apps,
But will soon lead,
As a matter of fact,
To a little lamb,
That Mother Mary once had,
Before it came spewing out from
A Big baaaad Alpenwolf's,
Fat, explosive, agravated ass.

I am the Alpha dog,
With a third eye 20/20 on the Omega,
An Honesty Department chair with hints of baby blue to make him seem funny because he is so true--
A Pink NeonArtist & Fine Line Leader:
A Can-Do W.O.P who honors his sacred pact
To act,
(Even though it ain't on legal padded paper)
With no perceivable lack
Of courage, cajonies,
Nor having his Brothers' back.

I can be a highly acidic chemical who chooses not to react
When "too cool" er men change the hedi track,
By burying his Gratefully Deadhead in the Golden Sand
And dismantling his buddy band,
But instead,
Gets out the Led,
Flashes his samurai sword but keeps his prevailing Cooler head--
Sees what ain't
And with emerald waves of patience like he were its patron Saint,
Begins to shred
Begins anew so he can gracefully wed--
A New Found Glory,
With a uniquely Christmas story.

Never afraid of the Dark,
But with a long, Evergreen Island sound so
Celestial, yet Earth-tone grounded and
So merrily round
It'll make the Southern California Angels,
Pitbulls with masters who can no longer see their shadows,
And the few and proud men who know their All-American mission,

On a quest for see with telepathic vision,
Mildly scared of the Word Transcendent Light
But holistically fit with a GI Joe Kung-Fun grip on the Holiest of Holy Grail,
And a blistering aquamarine pace that would skunk a sea snail,
En route to the Emerald City without known limits' Gates
Ringing in he wondrous years with fellowship of all-time greats

I will indeed surf, swim, balance anew and ride,
The inceasingly high-stakes and Tidal waves of
A seven story Fate--
Touch down on the Eastern shore, erect a fortress, and serve my boys a hardy, gravy centric plate alongside their unequivocally first choice in a mate that'll makes their collective souls levitate.

But never ever will ever do this before,
We give our Sunday Best Blessings and
Hum Ballin' odes to our Seacret City of Unspeakable joys--
Where my brave, tested but ultimately triumphant boys
Can rise with the Beautifully Mysterious, Cresent Moon-lit tide,
And shine with a luster that's supernovic, so alive, in and outside but usually Oceanside
When it draws in and seals its one and only lottery pick,
In the NBA draft,
Of boner-fied Sirens that you and only you convinced--
The cruel summer sea wasn't so sick,
King Neptune was indeed a jealous, polygamous prick,
And your Palace Master Bedroom will leave you in
If and only if you act complete, honestly and quick
While I say that a magical life on the shore is not the classic lore 

That Bow legged Suitors have tried to hook you with, several time before
But what we all should see as

The cosmic inevitabilty of marrying for,
Not fame, nor fortune, nor critical acclaim,
But because you were always so soaking wet,
Every time his vessel came.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Jack West: A Short Film

"Jack West" is both the name of our short film's protagonist and what essentially we're trying to accomplish through this project--"jacking west", stroking our potent, original, stylistically distinct brand of tragicomedy in hopes of exploding onto the Hollywood scene.

The script is a slim twenty four pages and portrays an exagerrated, often absurd but not terribly fictionalized reality--a standard late summer day in the life of a true Ocean City playboy, Jack West. The film will take us from Jack's disgenuine morning after exchanges with his next door neighbor with benefits to him and his boys on the beach getting slayed on some jungle juice and hollering at shorties, through his work shift at the Jolly Roger amusement park and finally, to a Baccanalian keg party where his womanizing ways finally come back to bend our irrepresible protagonist out of shape but ultimately, fail to break his indominable spirit.

We've born witness to far too many trite, disengenuous, script by numbers teenage sex comedies and know we can do it much better. We have an unwavering belief in our ability to excavate our memory banks for rich content and distinct, original characters that we can weave into custom, undeniably comedic and broadly compelling narratives that portray the universal in fresh and original ways--we just need it on film. Thus, we have created Mentally Chill Pictures with the firm commitment to filming our very first short, "Jack West" this September in Ocean City, MD.

As we are in our infant stages as a production company, we need seed funding and hope we have provided enough incentives to secure your backing for this project. To the skeptics and or the budget constrained, please trust us: "Jack West" will make an excellent short film. We can't guarantee a "Dazed and Confused" in our midst but we are sincerely, skillfully, and mindfully striving for the film's quality in capturing the vernacular of the time and circumstance, portraying often hedonistic but well-drawn, likeable and very memorable characters, maintaining a fast and very entertaining pace and leaving our audience with a vast array of very potent quotables. Your help, whether it be in finance, in spreading the word, in volunteering talent, in giving genuine feedback or simply making a short petition to the angels above will secure our gratitude, the rewards as advertised and not go unnoticed. The money pledged will be refunded if the goal is not met and, once it is met, help us offset costs for talent, lodging, shooting locations, film and crew.

The script was written by novelist, screenwriter and stand-up comedian Tom Scilipoti with the help of his Art School consigliere, former chain smoker and aspiring feaure film director Ryan Gauthier over the last eighteen months and was adapted from true events that occurred in Ocean City during the summer of 2004. The filming will occur in late September 2012 and the finished product will be released the following summer, at the latest. It is our star-spangled dream that "jacking west" will be the catalyst that launches us out of our parent's basements and onto prestigious red carpets worldwide.

Mentally Chill




"What is Mentally Chill?"

A) An honest first-person confessional of a former Sunday school and mental mathematics prodigy turned class clown, forever transformed by an irrepressible 19th summer spent alongside sirens and savages in the Emerald City.

B) A sincere effort to de-stigmatize mental illness by mainstreaming a unique but potent narrative with a twofold power to incite belly laughter and empty tissue boxes.

C) A worthwhile purchase available in both E-Book format and paperback.

D) A mindful and skillfully decorated remix of the first book in the history of Western Civilization to leave its readers with a life-affirming ruit metaphor.

E) All of the above and so much more.

Answer: E

So I've used five years of hindsight, wisdom, constructive criticism, and literary evolution to compose of remix of my debut novel. The language is now PG-13, the narrative is slimmer, tighter and more focused, the cliche and lazy pieces are now mindful and skillyfully redecorated, the typographical errors are now very minimal,and I believe the story, original flavor, vernacular, and style have not been lost but rather, enhanced.

I'm trying to market "Mentally Chill" as a YA Coming of Age narrative as I think it would really appeal to high school students bored with a long canon of stories that are hard to relate to, that don't use a vernacular they're accustomed to using, and are written by author's without the dry, pervading sense of humor that makes this novel and its archetype a beautiful tragicomedy. Despite being targeted to a 16-21 year old demographic, the overarching storylines, characters, and motifs are universal and can be appreciated by anyone over the age of 13 as evident from the wide spectrum of fans the book of which "Mentally Chill" gets its roots.

Below is both a sample of a chapter as read by its author as well as a "teaser" pdf that sets up the love story at the heart of this work.

Mentally Chill. Teaser

Any interested parties should inquire further at

Thursday, October 13, 2011

God Bless Dupey

If a curious character inquired
“What religion are ya?”
Avoiding a cliché worn and tired,
I would answer like this.

“For years my religion was of a submissive shade,
Bound to by fear of a grey, bearded slavemaster,
Chained by the dogma of powerful pedophiles,
Inner light trapped,
From coming to be.

Until my confirmation day,
When Jesus drew near,
Proclaiming “perfect love casts out fear!”
Setting me free,
To spit custom poetry,
And blaze,
A new trail,
Free of fear,
Full of the perfect love,
My mother and father gifted me.

Creative Christianity is
The religion that works for me,
Because it’s set me free
To practice the Golden Rule,
And be a wise fool,
Without having to worry about some tool,
Threatening the fires of hell,
If you don’t submit to his rotten spell,
That leaves no room for your humanity,

“Salvation through Christ and his virgin bride only?"
Nah I’ll try a fresh Christianity.

Loving my neighbor without condition,
Starting a new family tradition,
To be supernovas of unwavering light,
Warm, creative, undeniably bright.
Inspired in everything,
With God we co-create,
If it’s not committed out of hate,
It’s an article of faith.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Scott Van Pelt Style Voice Mail I Wish I Had The Balls To Leave.

Hi Anne,

This is Tom. We met Tuesday night at Mango’s and I was absolutely enamored by your majestic presence. Your demeanor was placid yet warmly confident. Your smile--contagious and refreshing. And the overall vibe I got from you was that of a bright, successful yet down to earth woman. So what were you doing with that guy Jimbo? Just kidding, I think. I honestly would love to continue the dialogue with you Anne, both personally and professionally. As far as real estate goes um, I’m not yet in the market to buy. I’m a substitute teacher but I do have big dreams. My friend and I co-wrote a kickass feature film script that is set in Ocean City and when we can accrue a budget for it we’ll be seeking properties to use in the making of the film. And as far as the real estate of your heart goes, I’ll say first and foremost, that I’m not looking for anything too serious. Not in the business of breaking hearts or making sacred vows. But if you need something like a young friend with benefits, a funny, down the earth dude to shoot the shit with over the phone or a few drinks, maybe even a young man that you mentor a little bit and refine as you share in a holistically satisfying relationship you have my number now, Anne. And I have sixty nine reasons why we should meet again...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Student Loan Debt and Unfulfilled Expectations: What my College Degree Brought Me

I confess to going to college under a false pretense. I thought that earning my degree from a great college such as Gettysburg would easily translate into a nice job after graduation. That's why people went to college after all, so they can land a sweet, nicely paying job afterwards. What I've learned is that the reality of it all is that a college degree alone doesn't mean shit. So many people have BA's and internships and experience far outweight your school's reputation barring Ivy league degrees and graduate school admission.

High SAT scores, reputable grades and coursework, a bounty of extracirrulars and here I am. Almost eight years after high school. Still living in the room I slept in when I was six. Going enjoyment check to enjoyment check. A shit ton of student loan debt and nightly nightmares where I can't seem to graduate from college. It's a mother fucking jungle out there and homeboy has a resume that demonstrates lack of loyalty to his employer, a couple of disorderly conduct charges, and a google search which could easily raise red sirens...(up all night and bipolar disorder come up in high volume). 95% of the jobs I apply to do not land in interviews and usually don't even warrant a response. When I do get a response it's usually some tritely worded paragraph or two that essentially says no thanks but has to drag on about the highly competitive applicant pool and other nonsense that makes want to chokeslam a stranger. I've had to develop very thick skin as an evolutionary measure but the blows to my ego that stem from not evening getting an interview for the Baltimore City Teaching Residency, hearing from a professional screenwriter that his agent wouldn't even bother to finish my Up All Night script which is fucking hilarious, original, well-crafted, and absolute money, still feel sting very much.

The game has changed. We're still in the 2nd great depression. Your college degree will not make you stand out. The pragmatist in me knows that extraordinary times require extraordinary measures and, trust me, I'm trying various avenues from recruiting angel invesors to make my dream of making a truly marvelous Ocean City film to applying to every teaching residency program I can. But the realist in me is very aware of the last three years and the fact that most people do not have the foresight to recognize how much creativity, innovation, and intagibility I would bring to any occupation. I have to blaze my own path. That is certain. My college degree and life experience have born many jewels but an easy pass to a decent job is definitely not one of them.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I Know Literature!

Dear anonymous Baltimore girl who was recently on the receiving end of a classic manic fish rant,

Noticably, I was very tongue tied when you told me you were getting your Master's in English. Maybe it was my .26+ BAC. But I just wanted to let you know, now that I’m sober and not still heartbroken over the Ravens playoff defeat at Heinz Field, that a master's degree in English literature from presumably Towson, Maryland, or College of Nortre Dame does not make you a scholar of literature. It does not give you poetic license to make these words "you're fat white trash." your very first to me or any another complete stranger. It does not impress me, unless you're for real (which I doubt) and you're getting your master's from Georgetown, GW, or Hopkins.
Your family clearly has a lot of money. You were rolling with a Boys Latin Laker. You went to an all girl's prep school in Baltimore. And you were a pretty huge cunt, even for a Baltimore girl, so I'm guessing you went to St. Paul's. You born rich and you will stay rich. But if my fat white trash ass ever runs into you again, it will be taking dead aim at your pretensiousness, exposing the empty core behind it, and filling it with unsung treasures. Just remember your dad can buy you anything, including an education from overpriced wasps nests, but he cannot prevent me from taking a huge shit on your Master's Degree.


Tommy Cicero

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ravens vs. Bengals Week 2: Joe was not so cool

His trash talking has been self-described as "amateur". Which is fine with me, trash talking doesn't win football games. But neither does shitting the bed on Sunday, as Joe Flacco found out when his Ravens fell to division rival Cincinnati at Paul Brown stadium.

I say "Flacco's" Ravens because the Baltimore Ravens will only go as far as Joe Flacco takes them. The defense has been stellar. We know and expect this in Baltimore. 0 touchdowns conceded in two games both against 2009 playoff opponents with many dismal field positions. Webb is becoming healthier, the run defense has been superb, Ray Lewis is still a tribal king and I have no reason to think the Raven's won't have one of the top five defenses in the NFL this year. But 2010 was bohlieved to be the year the Ravens finally produce a feared offense and I'm a little skeptical of this bohlief thus far.

I know it's early but the offense has no reason to be feared by the serious contenders yet. We have three former pro bowl wide receivers plus Heap, we have Ray Rice, we have a young but experienced and gifted quarterback but we've averaged 10 points a game so far. Why? Well for one, the offense as a whole hasn't produced the quality we had been expecting. The O-line has been suspect, Ray Rice hasn't had too many big runs, Heap is always hurt, Hoosh has been a non-factor, the defenses we've played are quality, but the biggest reason for our lack of offense perfomance has been the sickness level of Joe Flacco or lack there of.

Pre-season, Joe was a beast. Week 1 he was alright, flashes of brilliance but also shades of panic in the pocket and poor decision making. Week 2 however, was the worst perfomance by a Raven quarterback since the very forgetable Kyle Boller years.
Perhaps Joe and Kyle shared notes about how to freak out in the pocket, make bad, impulsive throws, and demonstrate general lack of awareness and coherence. Maybe he went shrooming on the Jersey Shore and didn't have his mind of football. Whatever the reason, Joe Cool was not so against the Bungles last Sunday--he was Joe "sideline Dirt", the location of most of his errant throws.

I know this all may sound harsh, blasphemous, and overreactive in Baltimore but we need to get real. I'm not saying Flacco is a bad quarerback or uncapable of greatness and he is young and I am generally a fan but let's be honest--our success this season is largely dependant on Flacco's ability to perform well each and every week, especially in the big games.

While early in the season, the Bengals game was important and Flacco shit the bed. 17-39, 4 picks to one touchdown, 147 yards, and a passer rating of 23.8. Flacco is only supposed to get better. He has three playoff wins in his first two NFL seasons, a nickname given partly because of his poise in his pocket, size, intelligence, a smooth delivery but thus far in his career, has been missing something--the sickness the Ravens need to run a feared offense.

Every offense jaugernaut has a quarterback who brings the sickness at least 90% of the time. Drew Brees, sick. Tom Brady, used to be sicker but can still light in up, Peyton Manning, the sickest QB of our generation, Philip Rivers, a huge doosher but a pretty sick QB. Anyone well versed in sickness will tell you that it all flows from the mind.

The intense pressure can hinder many, whether it's the last cup in a high stakes game of ruit, a penalty kick in the World Cup final, or a game against a division rival, the pressure can claim many a competitor, but it also can fuel a select few. And that, boys and girls, is what separates the "sick" from the regulars at amateur hour. It's what separates Shaun White from the rest of the field, Peyton from Eli, Pele from Baggio, and I am not yet convinced Joe Cool can be one of these select few. To clarify, I would love to be have reason to raise Joe's sickness level and bohlieve he's good enough to lead us to our second superbowl this season, but I honestly haven't found a reason to do that. AFC Championship, 2008 season, the biggest game of Joe Cool's 23 years, he throws three picks, zero touchdowns, and goes 13-30 for 141 yards. Ravens lose to the Steelers. Not so sick but forgivable. He was a rookie on the road going against a mighty defense.

2009 season, Divisional Playoffs, second biggest game of Joe Cool's life, January in Indy. Flacco completes four passes for thirty four yards and a pick. Raven's lose once again.

I'm not a psychic but I can't see the Ravens being a heart attack serious contender unless Flacco brings his sickness level up. He can do this is by making big plays in big games in the biggest pressure spots. He's done it before but not often enough to warrant a higher sickness level and especially not last Sunday. I hope Joe's lackluster performance against the Bengals was just a brain fart and not a warning sign that Joe is losing his cool. He'll probably light up the Browns at home on Sunday but it's not exactly a high stakes game. Week four against the Steeler's will be another early test and let's hope he can raise his 41.2 out of 158.3 ( current passer rating vs. maximum possible) test average to something a little higher than worse in the NFL.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Content to Dream

Content to Dream


Last night

I wanted to stay

Forever asleep

In my hidden temple

Of legends and dreams.

Where our souls were one,

And we ran as one,

Over the Misty Mountains

And far away.

Down into the lake of morning love,

Where we broke bread with God,

And dreamed as one

About the lives that we would be twice as sweet

If we stayed as one.

Flesh tan by the golden sun,

Souls stripped naked,

Endless summer fun,

Swimming through the oceanic mystery

With one and only one

Sacred pact to act,

Solely out of the unwavering love

For the Union,

The Creator,

And the creations to come.


But then this morning,

I woke

To a screeching alarm

Late for class

With a stinking wet ass.

And as the dip spitters congealed,

It was revealed:

This high vision was sealed

Only in my infinite imagination.

It was not real,

It was not real,

It was not motha fukin real enough

To come true

Until possibly I made due

On my holy promise,

To be a Running Thomas

And wait ever so patiently

On Mother Fate

To give me just one more library date

With the woman with whom

I'd like to mate.


Only then could we see,

That if in this divine mystery

The two of us

Were meant to be,

Or merely,

The one way wish

Of a lonely poet,

Content to dream,

Afraid to get his lazy ass up,

And crush five miles at Bream.

Letter to a Young Writer

Don’t feel pressured to create masterpieces—you can’t force art, wait instead for those sublime moments when the angel kisses you and then flow. Don’t sit at the computer and make yourself write flawless works, that style is going to produce nothing but shit. Writing is an exercise rooted in constant revision, reworking and rewriting, changing and restructuring until the piece is as good looking as it can be. Cinderella will look a lot better at the ball if she takes the time and effort to clean herself up and dress her best.

The writing that I present to the public is the product of months of slaving in the kitchen, working hard and smart to make a dish that some people will enjoy—not everyone. People have a diversity of taste buds and prejudices towards certain foods that makes it impossible for a universally enjoyed dish. Enjoyment of a piece of writing really comes down to a matter of taste.

I love pizza but I’d rather make a fresh, exotic, and new type of pizza rather than simply imitate an old pepperoni pizza recipe. That’s a matter of taste for me. What I’ll lose in popularity, I’ll make up for in innovation, originality, and style.

Perhaps a dish that combines BellyBuster’s Buffalo Chicken and Buontempo’s pizza that some may find genius—nirvana to their taste buds, and others may find unpleasant for it takes risks and adds a twist to a classic dish that’s out of their comfort zone, is what I seek to create, at least at this point in my career. A diversity of dishes emblematic of the evolution of my consciousness and diversity of raw life experiences I seek to translate will most likely follow. For now though, I’m shooting for the fresh, original, innovative works that make me stand out in a packed kitchen of chefs. The moral of the story is however, making art is hard work and even though you worked long and hard to make you dish, not everyone will enjoy it—subjectivity is the nature of taste.

Eventhough most critics deep throat Shakespeare, he’s not without his harsh critics. Not everyone will like the food that even a great chef makes, but that shouldn’t discourage the great chef. The great chef can making a living making food because enough people like its taste. Enough people desire his food and spread the word that it’s delicious. They may even call him an excellent chef or a creative genius to his face. All criticisms and praises however, are ultimately food for the ego—an ego which will be incinerated or slowly decomposed with your body. Ultimately, the only opinion that really counts for something meaningful is the one that smiles back at you in the mirror. It’s the only opinion that you have to live with. When you are completely content with yourself, when you are in love with the fate God gives you and can smile at yourself in the mirror—God smiles too.

You have the freedom to take an unfavorable review, soak an old dip spitter and continue to spit tobacco in it while it slowly disintegrates if you choose. And believe me, I’ve done it. Moral of the story, critics who sit in the crowd while you fight the lion in the arena and tell you how poor and unskilled you are, should never compromise your self esteem. True self-esteem is rooted in self-love. Self-love shines from the gorgeous ocean diamond within, from your essence—it is not selfish, narcisstic or arrogant to love yourself, it’s a prerequisite to truly loving others. The writer and the critic, unless they are friends and truly know one another, will always be engaging in a battle of egos. Sometimes the ego will be stroked, other times it’ll be bruised, but this is ultimately a meaningless battle. Better to be at peace with yourself that to fight unnecessary wars with critics.

If you’ve made your art the best it can be and you know that you worked tremendously hard to make your dream of this piece of art real and you poured your heart into the effort, then how can you honestly get down on yourself? Because another writer for whatever reason…because he was jealous, because your writing didn’t agree with his taste buds, because he wanted to attract readers, because he genuinely thought your writing sucked ass, because another writer may have more talent or because he can’t stomach dry sarcasm, gave your brainchild an unfavorable review? Please.