Monday, January 31, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

In case you missed it...

David Brent meets Michal Scott.  Universe did not collapse on itself.

And then this happened...

After the Sundance screening of the film Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey this happened:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Challenger 25

This is the 25th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. I was in 7th grade that year and home sick coincidentally watching the launch. Because at that time Shuttle launches were still pretty cool, and it was to be the first crew with a civilian teacher aboard. Also, I was a huge fan of the space program. My walls were adorned with posters of astronauts and mission patches from the the Mercury program. Visiting Kennedy Space Center as a child was a highlight of my life.

Like most people watching, I did not know what I was witnessing on TV when the Challenger exploded. And then I learned that it and her crew were gone I did not know how to react. I reckon it was one of the earliest moments in my life when I realized that life can be dangerous, and the world does not save heroes.

This speech from President Reagan is what I believe to be his finest hour. When he said the Challenger astronauts "broke the surly bonds of Earth" to "touch the face of God" it was the first time I heard true, meaningful poetry.

Panic at the Metro

We had a nasty snowstorm last night and I spent some of my time here among the throngs of people jamming their bodies onto crowded trains. When I finally made my way to Lynette at XM we spent 3 hours in the car.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Birthday Love

Today is Lynette's birthday and there isn't a day that goes by when I don't thank God for her existence. I can't imagine a world without Lynette. Long live Lynette!

I would also like to thank Lynette's parents for procreating (or, as most of my readers like to call it, fucking).

I honestly have no idea where I'd be (geographically, creatively, emotionally) without the birth of lovely, beautiful, patient Lynette. How we found each other I'll never know - I try not to think of the celestial variables. But I do know I want to spend my life attempting to show my gratitude for the woman who became my bride and soon to be mother of my son.

These words aren't enough. I better go get her a birthday present...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Scientific Proof that 3D Sucks

Why 3D doesn't work and never will. Case closed.
By Roger Ebert on January 23, 2011 7:57 PM

I received a letter that ends, as far as I am concerned, the discussion about 3D. It doesn't work with our brains and it never will.

The notion that we are asked to pay a premium to witness an inferior and inherently brain-confusing image is outrageous. The case is closed.

This letter is from Walter Murch, the most respected film editor and sound designer in the modern cinema. As a editor, he must be intimately expert with how an image interacts with the audience's eyes. He won an Academy Award in 1979 for his work on "Apocalypse Now," whose sound was a crucial aspect of its effect.

Wikipedia writes: "Murch is widely acknowledged as the person who coined the term Sound Designer, and along with colleagues developed the current standard film sound format, the 5.1 channel array, helping to elevate the art and impact of film sound to a new level. "Apocalypse Now" was the first multi-channel film to be mixed using a computerized mixing board." He won two more Oscars for the editing and sound mixing of "The English Patient."


"He is perhaps the only film editor in history," the Wikipedia entry observes, "to have received Academy nominations for films edited on four different systems:

• "Julia" (1977) using upright Moviola
• "Apocalypse Now" (1979), "Ghost" (1990), and "The Godfather, Part III" (1990) using KEM flatbed
• "The English Patient" (1996) using Avid.
• "Cold Mountain" (2003) using Final Cut Pro on an off-the shelf PowerMac G4.


Now read what Walter Murch says about 3D:

Hello Roger,

I read your review of "Green Hornet" and though I haven't seen the film, I agree with your comments about 3D.

The 3D image is dark, as you mentioned (about a camera stop darker) and small. Somehow the glasses "gather in" the image -- even on a huge Imax screen -- and make it seem half the scope of the same image when looked at without the glasses.

I edited one 3D film back in the 1980's -- "Captain Eo" -- and also noticed that horizontal movement will strobe much sooner in 3D than it does in 2D. This was true then, and it is still true now. It has something to do with the amount of brain power dedicated to studying the edges of things. The more conscious we are of edges, the earlier strobing kicks in.

The biggest problem with 3D, though, is the "convergence/focus" issue. A couple of the other issues -- darkness and "smallness" -- are at least theoretically solvable. But the deeper problem is that the audience must focus their eyes at the plane of the screen -- say it is 80 feet away. This is constant no matter what.

But their eyes must converge at perhaps 10 feet away, then 60 feet, then 120 feet, and so on, depending on what the illusion is. So 3D films require us to focus at one distance and converge at another. And 600 million years of evolution has never presented this problem before. All living things with eyes have always focussed and converged at the same point.

If we look at the salt shaker on the table, close to us, we focus at six feet and our eyeballs converge (tilt in) at six feet. Imagine the base of a triangle between your eyes and the apex of the triangle resting on the thing you are looking at. But then look out the window and you focus at sixty feet and converge also at sixty feet. That imaginary triangle has now "opened up" so that your lines of sight are almost -- almost -- parallel to each other.

We can do this. 3D films would not work if we couldn't. But it is like tapping your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time, difficult. So the "CPU" of our perceptual brain has to work extra hard, which is why after 20 minutes or so many people get headaches. They are doing something that 600 million years of evolution never prepared them for. This is a deep problem, which no amount of technical tweaking can fix. Nothing will fix it short of producing true "holographic" images.

Consequently, the editing of 3D films cannot be as rapid as for 2D films, because of this shifting of convergence: it takes a number of milliseconds for the brain/eye to "get" what the space of each shot is and adjust.

And lastly, the question of immersion. 3D films remind the audience that they are in a certain "perspective" relationship to the image. It is almost a Brechtian trick. Whereas if the film story has really gripped an audience they are "in" the picture in a kind of dreamlike "spaceless" space. So a good story will give you more dimensionality than you can ever cope with.

So: dark, small, stroby, headache inducing, alienating. And expensive. The question is: how long will it take people to realize and get fed up?

All best wishes,

Walter Murch

JC's Book Club

I'm currently reading Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resiliance, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. So far it's been quite the page turner. In short, it's the story of a man who became an Olympic runner and later a prisoner of war during WWII. Early opinion: the author has sacrificed style for story, meaning I sense this book was probably much longer, but the editor made drastic cuts to make it more palatable for the reading public. The only reason I say that is because this is the same author who gave us Seabiscuit - and that was turned into a big Hollywood movie. So with that said there are many, many details I found myself wanting as I hurried along with the progression of the story. It's still good though. I'll go ahead and recommend it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

An Idiot Abroad

Saturday night was the premiere of An Idiot Abroad.  If you don't know, Ricky Gervais has a show on HBO which is comprised of several old podcasts he did with Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington.  The comedy comes from Pilkington, a seemingly simple-minded fool.  This new show is based on Pilkington's travels around the world and it is nothing short of genius.  



Caleb Hanie

Respect this man for trying so hard to hold together the sinking ship.  As the Washington Post said this morning, he came this close to drinking for free in Chicago forever.

All my bowls are super

Well, the Bears lost.  (Haven't ya heard?)  But in all fairness the right team is going to the Super Bowl.  The Packers are amazing.  They marched into Philly and beat the amazing Eagles.  They marched into Atlanta and beat the amazing Falcons.  They marched into Chicago and beat the (amazing?) Bears.  They absolutely deserve to be representing the NFC in the Super Bowl.  Something tells me they're probably going to win that, too.  They worked harder for it than the Steelers did.  And Aaron Rodgers seems to be some sort of bionic superman. 

Now, whether or not Wisconsin deserves the Packers is a whole different pack of cheese curds. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bear Down


It's not just a football game this Sunday.  It's a football game against the Packers.  And the winner goes to the Super Bowl. If you don't understand the implications of this match up you can show yourself out.

More Guitar Solos

More people should get recognition for not speaking.  For not saying every little thing that is on their minds.  We are so programmed to advertise our everything. What did we do before Twitter and Facebook allowed us to publish status updates thereby baring our souls to the electronic world?

That's not a rhetorical question - seriously, what did we do?  How did we quench our narcissism?  I had a journal in high school full of terrible poetry about a girl that had no interest in me (good, wrenching stuff), but I knew that the only people who would read it were the souls of dead grandparents as they looked over my shoulder.  If you believe in that sort of thing. I can't imagine it held much interest considering they could easily be spending time playing ping pong with Janis Joplin or lounging in Jesus' grotto with Dean Martin and Sammy Davis. 

What would I be doing if I wasn't writing in this blog?  Not filling the imaginary void I suppose. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Social Network

Aside from my own morbid curiosity regarding the genesis of Facebook and how it is revolutionizing not only the internet, but also how we communicate as a society, I am also very much into the style of the film itself.  In short, I'm blown away by it. David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin have created a masterpiece.  And Trent Reznor's score is the cherry on top.  Here's a scene: 



When this movie first came out I dismissed it as some schlocky teenie movie about cool kids and Justin Timberlake, but I was wrong.  This movie should be ranked very high.  My penchant for all things technological may have skewed my leanings here, but considering how many people utilize Facebook in the world I see this film as a successful (unofficial) retelling of what kind of people it takes to start a revolution. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ophiuchus

Y'all know astrology is a crock of shit, right?  Okay, just checking.  Because if someone suddenly told me that the Chicago Bears were actually the Green Bay Packers and I was rooting for the wrong team all along there'd be Hell to pay.  I know that's a stupid simplification of the recent zodiac situation, but considering how many people believe in it I would have thought there's be more outrage and maybe some denunciations.  Funny creatures, humans.

I understand that similar arguments can be made about many religions and specifically Christianity, so if suddenly some scrolls are found somewhere and it's discovered that Jesus' name wasn't Jesus after all but rather Dakota or something equally disheartening I might have some inner reflecting to do.  That's why I'm curious about the lack of pissed off tarot card readers and wacky, cat hoarding aunts of the world.

What's next?  Fortune cookies are actually baked by Canadians?  Pfft.

The Social Network (See it, dummy)

I watched The Social Network last night and was very, very impressed.  Considering Facebook has now become a normal part of our social fabric it was fascinating to watch its (supposed and alleged) beginnings.  Aside from the joys of its voyeuristic component, the film itself is amazing shot and written.  If you're a fan of Alan Sorkin (West Wing) you'll feel right at home trying to keep up with the dialog.  David Fincher (Seven) has directed what I think will win the Academy Award for Best Picture.  

The movie triggers great discussion regarding our Facebook/Twitter world.  I found myself getting quite philosophical post viewing.  

Friday, January 14, 2011

Inspiration Jones

I'm almost finished reading the Patti Smith book (Just Kids).  And last night I watched Howl (with James Franco).

It's coming back to me.  I can feel it in the air.  I can hear it in the trees.  Wait. Now I'm in a Lord of the Rings movie.  Shit.  Go back to what I was saying about Patti and Ginsberg.

That urge to write is filling my body like

like

like

(just kidding)

Not So Clean Sheet

Hey Cap-J fans!

I was given the super awesome opportunity to write a guest post on The Cheat Sheet blog.  Check it out, but don't linger there for too long.  I want you home before the street lights come on.  Because that's dinner time.  And by dinner time I mean more delicious posts by me!  Mmmm.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I hereby withdraw my name for consideration

The floating adventures I envisioned for myself as I aged rarely included much room for political discourse, angry or otherwise.  And yet I find myself becoming more and more frustrated with other people's political opinions and statements.  I find myself casting judgment onto people for stating an opinion which is just as misinformed as my judgment of that person.  

How did I get to a point in my life where I gave a shit about this meaningless name-calling?  When I lived in Illinois and wrote poetry my worries were mostly relational, sexual and/or artistic.  I had opinions about films and music, never about men in suits blathering about ideologies.  These men in suits never fully represented me.  And I didn't represent them.  And all was good in the world.

Is my proximity to the epicenter of American politics to blame?  Is the internet and its rush to inform me of every political gaffe to blame?  This new culture of anonymity has brought the worst out of humanity. 

I don't like myself when I'm degrading people politically.  I have fallen into the trap of us vs. them.  Our country has been divided and conquered by the very men in suits who purport to "do what's best for us."  The business of infighting is booming.  

I choose not to listen.  I'm turning the channel.  I'm shutting my mouth.  I'm walking away. I hope people see me as a beacon of peace.  I hope people see me as a lover of truth and beauty.  It's the world I need to create for my son.    

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Alone and Let Down

I just ate too much bread pudding.  Someone left it in the employee break room to share with everyone.  I was the only person who ate any.  And it was delicious. 

We were supposed to get a huge snowstorm last night and nothing happened.  Now it's just a normal Wednesday and none of us are talking about how difficult it was getting out of our driveways, etc.  Now I have to do work like I would on a Tuesday.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hot Pregnant Wife

20 Weeks.

Dadstuff

I've been staring at a grainy, black and white, ultrasound image of my son (who currently resides inside my wife's body) and wondering what kind of person he will be considering the type of environment I hope to provide for him. 

I wasn't much into sports when I was a child.  Being fat didn't help.  But I'm a much bigger fan now than I was in my younger days.  And I was a terrible student; however, my love for poetry and the written word in general defines most of my personality.  I'm thinking these two areas of my life might have blossomed earlier in my life if only (if only) I had been exposed to them properly.  I'm not blaming my parents - I had an excellent childhood.  But it makes me wonder what might have happened if a violin had been placed in my hands when I was five years old.  Or if the rules of baseball had been explained to me before I was unceremoniously relegated to right field.

Most importantly I want my son to know art and things artful.  I truly believe art is an extension of a piece of our souls we have yet to fathom.  And that art is everywhere.  The day my son realizes that will be a proud day.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Just Kids

Patti Smith wrote a memoir last year about her life with the late artist/photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.  Without any praise from me I will mention the book won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2010 and has been exalted in every review I have read for the book.  I decided to pick it up (download it) this week.

I vaguely knew who Patti Smith was before reading this book.  They called her the Godmother of Punk and she wrote the amazing song Dancing Barefoot.  That's all I knew.  What I didn't know was that she and Robert Mapplethorpe had a life together as two lovers in 1970's New York making art and barely scraping by. 

Also, and this most important to me, Ms. Smith is a phenomenal writer.  The introduction alone blew me away.  I highly recommend Just Kids.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Great Deal!

The best movie (in my excellent opinion) of the first decade of this century is on sale for $10.  Amazing! And it's the director's cut (whatever that means).  The New World (The Extended Cut) [Blu-ray]

Oh boy!

Just found we're having a boy. I am going to have a son! I'm still trying to wrap my head around it.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Home

A father and daughter cover one of my favorite songs by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.  Caution: Adorable.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How to Write (Just Kidding)

Dear Books,

I'm tired of dystopia.  And post-apocalyptic mumbo jumbo.   I get it - the future sucks.  And it's dirty.  And toothless hobos wear toasters on their heads while hunting scavenging "survivors" who eat cold cans of pork 'n beans with their weathered fingers while zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

What's next for fiction in 2011?  I'd like to make a suggestion to the writers of future books:  Please use punctuation.  Seriously.  This rambling, stream of consciousness writing is bullshit.  I need commas and quotation marks when I'm reading dialog.  Kerouac used this lazy method in On the Road and we got tired of it on page 14.  It's not cool or novel or interesting.  It's laziness.  Look, writing dialog ain't easy.  That's why when someone actually does it right we celebrate him/her.

Another thing:  plot is good.  Even a simple plot like going to the store to buy a loaf of bread is a hell of a lot more interesting than Stephen King's last book which is riddled with gore and rape for the obvious sake of being gorey and rapey.  At this point, Mr. King, or as you like to be called, Uncle Stevie, you're creeping us out.  And not in a good way. 

As a reader I'm at a point in my life where I don't have time to waste on shitty fiction.  I'm not afraid to quit a book.  My time is precious.  That's the good thing about my Kindle - it tells me what percentage of the book I have read so far.  So my new rule is 25%.  If I'm not being entertained after 25% I'm out.  None of this "Give it a chance" crap.  If a book is "good" it should be "good" at the beginning, the middle, and the end.   

So let's recap:

  • Grammar and punctuation is required
  • Have a point
One more thing: sex.  More sex.  Intelligent, meaningful sex.  I reckon I speak for everyone when I say that, though most of you won't admit it.  Horny pervs.  

Mykea

Spruce up your Ikea furniture with awesome stickers!

Mykea

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Years Redux

Scratch that last post...

In 2011 I want to:

  • Improve my pendmanship.
  • Make more gravy.
  • Keep the Star Wars prequels far, far away from my child.
  • Buy more Converse All Stars.
  • Exercise (Really).
  • Two chicks at the same time (Just kidding. No I'm not.)
  • Treat conformity like a dumb joke told by a friend's dad. 

It's a new year, You.

Happy New Year!

Here are some things you* need to work on in 2011:

  • Objectivity and consideration (2011 should be the year of tolerance not narrow mindedness)
  • Stop talking (mostly nobody cares what you have to say)
  • Start listening (mostly you're missing a lot of valuable information)
  • Realize that your inhibitions weigh you down like wet shoes.
  • Worry about art, not politics.  
  • Fight for music, not labels.
  • Rejoice, don't seethe.
  • Do things that make you sweat. 


*The royal You, aka Me.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

What we do to Penguins around here:



Go Capitals! (You know, the hockey team)

There's this sport called hockey... And there's this team in DC called the Capitals... Oh nevermind - you people would rather be watching commercial-riddled "football."  

Anyway, the Capitals are currently the best sports team DC has and the fan base is growing by the year.  For example, last night's Winter Classic which was held in Pittsburgh had in attendance 30,000 Capitals fans who drove the five hours into enemy territory to see their beloved team dominate the rival Penguins.  For hockey fans, the energy was electric and arguably way more exciting than the Super Bowl.  

What's so special about hockey?  I don't know.  I guess it's a northern thing.  I played hockey as a kid on a frozen pond across the street from my house.  There's something about the cold and the snow and the quick action on the ice.  There's something about the modest nature of hockey.  And the intimacy of it.  Hockey is an intensely emotional experience for players and fans.  It's a sport relatively safe from the intrusions of money and fame.  I love knowing that I could run into a Caps player or the coach while shopping here in Alexandria.  I love knowing the team practices a few miles away in Arlington.  There's a certain amount of pride Caps fans have that this city is sadly lacking for any of their other sports teams. 

After living a life as a Bears and Cubs fan it's nice to cheer on a team that actually wins.  I'm no bandwagon fan (obviously), but it feels real good to be on top.  Go Caps!