Category Archives: the arts

Dear Sir, (Letters to a Union Soldier)

Dear Sir, (Letters to a Union Soldier)

20 minute non-traditional narrative. 

by, Jessica Lakis & Michael Mullan

DEAR SIR traces the interconnected stories of a Civil War soldier and a modern young man who shares his name as they struggle with both their common dreams and individual fates.

The impetus for DEAR SIR began when film-maker Michael Mullan discovered a gravestone at the Gettysburg National Cemetery that bore his name. Further research into archives revealed the historical Lt. Michael Mullin to be an Irish immigrant who once lived in Mullan’s old neighborhood in Philadelphia.

Finding this coincidence too great, Mullan and Jessica Lakis set out to create a way for the two men to communicate over time. This resulted in the creation of a “journal” for Lt. Mullin. Writer and co-director/producer, Jessica Lakis, based her writing of his fictitious “journal” on available biographical information, research into the Irish experience of emigration and  the American Civil War, and contemporary writing samples.  The result of this effort often misleads viewers as to the journal’s authenticity.

Filmed mainly in Pennsylvania on a shoe-string budget, DEAR SIR went on to become the only selection of an under-graduate film at the 2000 Student Academy Awards. Among other honors, as well as local and national airing, “Dear Sir,(Letters to a Union Soldier)” continues to catch the attention and hearts of all who watch it. A fitting tribute for a true labor of love.


On Moving & Mortality

English: Odysseus. Group of Odysseus blinding ...

English: Odysseus. Group of Odysseus blinding Polyphemus. Marble, Greek work of the 2nd century BC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, I just finished a move. I went from the big (yet, admittedly lame) city to a place where one might have both a yard and a good sushi spot. But with moves come those nasty, mean little problems, such as: “I never knew you could spend this much on gas!” and “Why can’t I find a doctor with my insurance?” In a word, mundane, banal, so-dull-you-want-to-smash-your-head-in (alright, that was several words, but I don’t care!). “How did you ever manage? What makes you keep on?” I hear you ask, and I’ll tell you because I’m just a swell gal.

Audiobooks and podcasts. Actually one audiobook, Sir Ian McKellen reading The Odyssey, and one podcast, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. “Ew, well, who is Hecuba to her and she to Hecuba that she should weep for her?” I hear you sneer like Terry Jones impersonating a woman. And to you I say, “That bit was from The Illiad ya fakackta….” Anyhow, Dan Carlin’s amazing “Fall of the Roman Republic” got me through packing, cleaning, moving, and unpacking, so I will shamelessly plug him. I already had my Audible subscription and so could not follow the link he describes and get The Odyssey for free while supporting him . . . but you can here! So there’s my plug for Dan Carlin.*

And onward into mortality. What has revived my sense of wonder and poetry and kept those banal little problems at bay? Why, none other than that wily Odysseus, battered by the wine-dark sea, man of sorrows. Nothing of late has touched my heart more tenderly than his plaintive and eternally human refrain of hope and humanity through all the sufferings we mortals must endure echoing down the ages and into my Android phone.

And now . . . now as the world grinds on, pitiless, paying no mind to the troubles of men and the shortness of our days . . . now I sit down again to write. Blessed brief life, I scribble on against the end and etch my immortality in pixels.

*I know you’re a Trekkie, sir.

My “About Me”

One year out of college I was literally thanking the Academy. I got up on that stage and dedicated my award to my recently passed father then went back to my life in Philly. I’ve been working every moment since to get back there.

Maybe I needed the life experience to grow as a writer. After all, as Holden Caulfield observed, writing is not a just knowing where to put the commas. I traveled. Spent three years in Costa Rica teaching English and translating. But, perhaps in a “pura vida” backlash, when I decided to come home, I did so with hardened intent.

I left my husband. Even moved in with Gertrude and Claudius for a time. I got a temp job where I froze in a dusty receiving office in a drug-infested North Philly neighborhood. But I finished a new screenplay. A revenge story. And it’s done well.

I’ve got two screenplays in the works right now. I still live in a bug-ridden, third floor walk-up apartment on one of South Philly‘s louder corners. I keep my dog, plants, books, music, movies and a handsome marine about me like insulation. And often think of a story I heard about my man J. Caesar. His dad died when he was young. Though he came from a good family, they weren’t rich. So he was always in debt as well.

Anyway, on his 32nd birthday, he was stationed in some mud hole in Spain, without prospect of even seeing Rome again, and he wept. He wept because Alexander had conquered the world by his age. He contemplated a good Roman end to it all. Twenty years later he had Gaul under his boot and was on his way to the world’s first, and most famous, point of no return by a stream called Rubicon. His life and death would change the world.

I’m not out for conquest and power, nor do I think the history of the world will hinge on my stay here, but I like the story. There’s a point in there somewhere. Alea iacta esto.

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