brandon ross

video storyteller

Dirt Relocation

Vacuuming doesn’t really clean, it just relocates the dirt.

When you think about it, that’s pretty much what life is about.

We’re all human vacuums, shuffling the dirt from one place to another.

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Less Is More

Franz Kafka is one of my absolute favorite authors, for many reasons.

There’s a saying among video producers:

Give me one hour and I can create a 60-second video. Give me two hours and I’ll create a 30-second video.

The idea is that creating a short video takes much more time than creating a longer video. You have to make every shot, every second, every frame, count.

The same can be said for writing. “I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter,” wrote Blaise Pascale some 350 years ago.

Much of Kafka’s work exemplifies this philosophy. His short parables are the only works I find myself reading over and over and enjoying them every time.

I do believe less is more. Those who do more with less often go unappreciated. I love storytellers who craft their story making every word count. It shows skill, in a world no longer limited by how many words can fit on a page.

In the age of the boundless capacity of the internet, I find concise simplicity more and more beautiful.

With that in mind, here’s my favorite Kafka piece, which I love for it’s “beautiful but sorrowful strangeness.”

 

A Message from the Emperor

The emperor—it is said—sent to you, the one apart, the wretched subject, the tiny shadow that fled far, far from the imperial sun, precisely to you he sent a message from his deathbed. He bade the messenger kneel by his bed, and whispered the message in his ear. So greatly did he cherish it that he had him repeat it into his ear. With a nod of his head he confirmed the accuracy of the messenger’s words. And before the entire spectatorship of his death—all obstructing walls have been torn down and the great figures of the empire stand in a ring upon the broad, soaring exterior stairways—before all these he dispatched the messenger. The messenger set out at once; a strong, an indefatigable man; thrusting forward now this arm, now the other, he cleared a path though the crowd; every time he meets resistance he points to his breast, which bears the sign of the sun; and he moves forward easily, like no other. But the crowds are so vast; their dwellings know no bounds. If open country stretched before him, how he would fly, and indeed you might soon hear the magnificent knocking of his fists on your door. But instead, how uselessly he toils; he is still forcing his way through the chambers of the innermost palace; never will he overcome them; and were he to succeed at this, nothing would be gained: he would have to fight his way down the steps; and were he to succeed at this, nothing would be gained: he would have to cross the courtyard and, after the courtyard, the second enclosing outer palace, and again stairways and courtyards, and again a palace, and so on through thousands of years; and if he were to burst out at last through the outermost gate—but it can never, never happen—before him still lies the royal capital, the middle of the world, piled high in its sediment. Nobody reaches through here, least of all with a message from one who is dead. You, however, sit at your window and dream of the message when evening comes.

-The Annotated Kafka, edited and translated by Mark Harman

Hanging Here

One of my favorite things to do is sit in a swinging chair that hangs from a big tree in my backyard.

I trot out there with my laptop and earbuds, intent on writing and reading.

Almost inevitably I end up with a cat in my lap, staring up at a blue sky through layers of tree limbs.

And that’s okay.

It’s actually great.

Quiet time to think isn’t a luxury for me, it’s a necessity.

A time to clear out memories and make room for more.

Like a yard sale for the mind.

My Favorite

It’s no secret I’d rather be around animals than most people.

My grandfather always had a bulldog in his backyard. I remember seeing my grandfather walk around, the short stub of a cigar in his mouth, with this short pile of muscle at his feet.

From the very first time I learned that some people actually keep animals as pets, I wanted one.

Between Thaisi and myself we now have six.

Six animals that I can’t possibly imagine my life without.

I was introduced to her two Jack Russell terriers on a warm night in Muscle Shoals, Alabama a few years ago.

Rugby was a lanky, prancing pony of a dog. He was clearly the more sophisticated.

Then there was Cricket. She was short, more hyper, and never wanted to be alone. She’d been rescued from a puppy mill and had anxiety issues.

After spending a few hours with them, Thaisi asked which one was my favorite. She asked because the answer was predetermined. Everyone loved Rugby most.

“Cricket,” I said.

“Oh, no. Cricket is the small one. You mean Rugby,” she insisted.

“I know which one she is. Cricket is my favorite.”

I get the feeling maybe Cricket had never been a favorite before. She expected to always take a back seat to Rugby’s shenanigans.

But she was my favorite.

She is now 12 years old.

– – – – – – – – – –

We found out today that Cricket likely has a brain tumor, causing almost constant tremors in her head. They occur about every 20 seconds.

The spunky girl who was always agile and acrobatic now finds herself falling frequently. Unable to keep her balance.

She doesn’t understand why.

There’s medicine she’ll take. There’s hope that we can decrease swelling of the tumor. Buy her some time.

At 12 years of age and tens of thousands of dollars in expenses, brain surgery isn’t an option.

My hope is that we get Cricket back for a little bit longer. Weeks, months, or years.

Just one moment more.

– – – – – – – – – –

It’s a strange thing to have a connection with an animal. Something you can’t have a conversation with. Someone who can’t answer your questions. Someone who doesn’t really understand their place in your life.

But make no mistake, Cricket is part of my family. She’s one of the most important friends I have.

And she’s still my favorite.

cricket