January 2003 Archives

January 31, 2003

Because You Keep Asking...

I give you the 2nd edition of greg.org answers, wherein I provide the information you thought you'd find on this site, but didn't.

Q "The best This American Life" (greg.org Googlerank: 3rd of 4 results)
A I did answer that, last April (Conventions, with John Perry Barlow). But my weasely, equivocating prose ("perhaps the best TAL episode in my memory") is about as slippery as, well, let's just say "the case still needs to be made."

Alex Gediman, Tom Jones impersonator, from the music episode, image: thislife.orgStill, "the best" is tricky. The TAL Staff give their favorites, which hasn't been added to since 11/01, so we're missing about 15 months of judgment calls.

When TAL won the Univ. of Georgia's Peabody Award in 1996, the jurors cited three episodes from that year: The cruelty of children, When you talk about music, and From a distance. Ostensibly chosen to show TAL's range, these episodes--which include stories of gay teen anguish, a Tom Jones impersonator, and obsession with celebrity--actually reflect the "we're the center of the universe!" ecstasy that overtook Georgia in 1996, when hometown girl, Ru-Paul, ruled the world.

You could always buy the CD. Lies, Sissies, and Fiascoes: The Best of This American Life has 12 stories on 2 discs. Until Ira Glass starts taking my calls again, that's the best I can do.

Carambar, image: frenchfeast.comQ "Buy Carambar online"(Googlerank: 2 of 12)
A "Always popular, Carambar is a chewy caramel baton-shaped candy," the French cash register equivalent of chocolatey Ice Cubes and crack pipes with little roses in them. Sure, Donald Rumsfeld dismisses Carambar as "Old Europe," but isn't that what you'd expect the ringleader of the global aspartame conspiracy to say?

Buy Carambar online from the excellent French Feast:
box of 200 (1750g) - $25.00
individual (8g) $0.15

Saint Flanders, Christianity Today - Feb 2001, image: christianitytoday.comQ "Simpsons conservative fansites" (Googlerank: 5th of 9 results)
A Since "Blessed Ned of Springfield" graced the cover of Christianity Today, the story practically wrote itself: Conservatives actually love The Simpsons. Clearly the article's author, Mark Pinsky, is a fan; he wrote The Gospel According to The Simpsons. But he's also a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel; are there any non-journalist fans?

Simplistically equating conservative and religious, I found Noah Gradofsky's The Simpsons Talmud and JVibe's "Hey man, don't have a leavened bread!" site for Passover ritual, The Homer Counter.

Of course religious and conservative are not synonyms, unless you're a godless communist. The #1 conservative Simpsons fan has to be National Review editor-at-large, Jonah Goldberg, who's May 2000 article, "Homer Never Nods: The Importance of The Simpsons," sets a thoughtful, hi-larious high bar for contemporary conservative writing. And UVA Professor Paul Cantor's essay, The Simpsons: Atomistic Politics and the Nuclear Family" in Political Theory, provides the intellectual foundation for conservative Simpsons appreciation. Still, I'd have to count these as professional fans.

Q "David Gallagher Shirtless Pictures" (Googlerank: 106th of 376 results)
A Dude. Do you know who this is? I had to look it up. It's the kid from 7th Heaven. Cold comfort that he turns 18 in less than two weeks; any shirtless pictures are from when he's a kid.

I don't know which is more disturbing, that you were looking for these pics in the first place, that you trawled through eleven increasingly irrelevant screens of Google search results before clicking on my site, or that what probably caught your attention on Google was the phrase, "shirtless Aryans," (which I used in a discussion of contemporary art's influence on film to describe the Bruce Weber-y American History X.)

I've had enough for now. Two other answers must wait, I'm afraid:
Q "eyeing each inert mien and artificial plan" (hint: it's a quote from the Herbert Muschamp/Showgirls parody. I'm still looking.)
Q "Matthew Barney Cremaster on DVD" this is by far the most-asked search that goes unfound here at greg.org. But don't despair. I'm working on a very interesting answer for this one. Stay tuned.

January 31, 2003

On Seeing 11'09"01

Just got back from 11'09"01, the collection of eleven short films produced by Alain Brigand. It's at Lincoln Center today and tomorrow. Short answer: overall, it's impressive, and some of the shorts are quite powerful and moving. Others suck.

[Stills and director interviews are at the official site. Also, check posts from Dec. and Sept. for various synopses, articles and links.]

Ken Loach, 9'11
Longer answer: Alejandro Gonz·lez IÒ·rritu's mostly audio submission is easily the most wrenching. It's far more than enough to revive the horror of that NYC morning. If you have the slightest moral integrity, Ken Loach's segment (above) about the US-backed assassination of Chile's President Allende on Sept. 11, 1973 will sadden and anger you. (And if you're Henry Kissinger, you'll steer clear of extradition-prone jurisdictions.) Sean Penn's earnest Borgnine segment was fine, but slightly disappointing; a little too sweet. It may have fared better earlier in the show (it's 10th). Mira Nair told the true story of a Pakistani-American paramedic, a New Yorker, who was missing for months, suspected of terrorist links, but whose remains turned up at Ground Zero; he'd rushed to offer emergency assistance before the towers collapsed.
Idrissa Ouedraogo, 9'11
The biggest surprises: Idrissa Ouedraogo's touching/lighthearted segment (above) about a schoolboy in Burkina Faso who sets out to capture OBL so he can buy medicine for his mother with the reward money. He enlists his friends' help, and they're enthralled calculating how much AIDS drugs $25 million would buy. (Little did they know they could also get a penthouse at the AOL Time Warner Center. Monthly fees not included.) And Amos Gitai creates the anti-Russian Ark, one exhaustingly intense continuous shot of the chaos following a Tel Aviv suicide bombing. The idiotically opportunistic TV reporter who bumbles frantically around the scene, while refusing to comprehend that she got bumped by "some story in New York," is a little too much, but it's a bracing segment nonetheless

The biggest annoyances: Shohei Imamura's segment about a WWII soldier so traumatized he thinks he's a snake misses the mark. But Youssef Chahine's segment takes the cake for annoying. Never mind the highly sympathetic suicide bomber; that's to be expected, or at least understood. Chahine's segment is a sappy, self-important melodrama, the Egyptian equivalent of a telenovela, one starring a vastly important Egyptian filmmaker who is repeatedly addressed as maestro. Please, just wrest the camera from my hands and sit on me if I ever display such hubris.

January 29, 2003

Strictly (Sundance) Business

First, rather than just say, "Called it!" (which I did, thank you), let me congratulate director Stewart Hendler and company (including DP John Ealer) for winning Sundance's Online Film Festival with their short, One.

Second, third and fourth, check out the following roundups of Sundance deal-making and film performance. The takeaway (sorry, Holly Hunter): Wo unto those who maketh their films for buzz, for verily, they have their reward.

Mary Glucksman takes a thorough and incisive look at indie film and distributor performance in 2002 in Filmmaker Magazine. Last year, only eight festival-bought independent films grossed more than $1 million. (The population of acquisition execs who passed on the non-festival My Big Fat Greek Wedding is enough to fill Park City. In fact, it just did...)

Zooey Deschanel and Jennifer Aniston in The Good Girl, image:filmmakermagazine.com.

Glucksman picks apart seven 2002 Sundance deals to uncover the winners and losers, finding three-time Sundance vet Miguel Arteta's The Good Girl to be the win-win deal of the year for all involved. Interestingly, Gary "win-win" Winnick's Tadpole results in sweet deals for everyone but Miramax, who bought the film in a classic Sundance frenzy for $5 million (it only made $2.8 at the box office). [Harvey, if you're overpayin', I'm playin'. Give me a call.]

Filmmaker also has a handy Sundance Box Office 2002 Chart, which you can cut out and put next to your editing station, to remind you of the financial folly you're undertaking.

In the Voice, Anthony Kaufman casts a (now understandably) sober eye at this year's deals, calling bulls**t on both the supposed value of festival buzz and the overheated acquisitions it spawns. Or, in the words of Sony Pictures Classics prexy Michael Barker, "We've been burned before by the Sundance frenzy. In fact, we've had more success with films that we've revisited after the festival outside the context of sleep deprivation. And that's what we're going to do in the coming weeks."

"She [Paris] has a cameo [presently uncredited, -ed.] in Cat in the Hat with MIKE MYERS. She called me yesterday from Universal at 11 and said: `Mommy, I'm tired. I've been here since 6:30, I think they're going to keep me here till 1.' She'd worked one half-hour all day. She said, `I've read two JACKIE COLLINS books, do you know who she is?' I said, `Sure I do.' `Is she nice? ' `Yes.' Paris said, `I want to meet her.' I said, `All right.' "
-Kathy Hilton, mom, quoted in the NYTimes.

Herbert Muschamp, the Professor Emile Flostre of architectural empathicalism, gives his blessing to the THINK team's proposal to build a World Cultural Center at the former WTC site.

Think, Stan Reis Photography, via NYTimes.com

There are several things to like about the proposal, not the least of which is to turn the emphasis from the overwhelming commercial interests on the site, which the market can take care of just fine, thanks. Think's proposal most closely ressembles Paul Goldberger's call for an "Eiffel Tower for the 21st century," which would place greater importance on technological and symbolic marvel than on purely functional architecture (go ahead, tell me how many rentable square feet is the Eiffel Tower?). And I thought the WTC-WCC connection struck a powerful chord.

Enough with the turn-ons, now the hang-ups: the awkward relation to the oh-so-holy footprints; the lattices' form, too-close-to-the-originals evocation of the towers which, I think, will age poorly; skepticism of such a project's survival in the pathetic, poisonous political environment of the rebuilding process.

For my part, such open towers would make my own idea for a memorial possible: large, quiet halls in space (x,y,z space) near the points of impact on the original towers.

January 27, 2003

Can't Wait To See It

Lost in La Mancha, image: smart.co.uk

Anthony Lane on Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe's documentary, Lost in La Mancha: "For anyone who suffers from the wish to make movies, or who fears that this terrible condition may strike at any time, here is the cure."

William Pfaff wins a free screening tape of Souvenir (November 2001) for his column in the Int'l Herald Tribune

American commentators like to think that the "Jacksonian" frontier spirit equips America to dominate, reform and democratize other civilizations. They do not appreciate that America's indefatigable confidence comes largely from never having had anything very bad happen to it.

The worst American war was the Civil War, in which the nation, North and South, suffered 498,000 wartime deaths from all causes, or slightly more than 1.5 percent of a total population of 31.5 million.

The single battle of the Somme in World War I produced twice as many European casualties as the United States suffered, wounded included, during that entire war.

There were 407,000 American war deaths in World War II, out of a population of 132 million - less than a third of 1 percent. Considering this, Washington does not really possess the authority to explain, in condescending terms, that Europe's reluctance to go to war is caused by a pusillanimous reluctance to confront the realities of a Hobbesian universe.

Puppy, by Jeff Koons Puppy, Jeff Koons, $1,650
Jeff Koons just walked by in his overcoat and sweats (!), with a cute little white dog. (No, a live one.)

Since my most recent short film, S(J03), is about a guy who finds aesthetic pleasure and takes solace in ironing, I thought I'd surf up some relevant ironing links, to see if I'm crazy (or if I, and other people, are crazy):

  • The Pleasure of Ironing a Fine Cotton Shirt by Roy Earnshaw, published in a 1987 Land's End catalog, no-nonsense, with a bit of downhome, Garrison Keillor-y romanticism:
    I plug in the iron, check the water level, turn the setting to ó what else ó cotton. Then pause for a few moments to let it get hot.

    The room where I iron is a barren one. No furniture, just the ironing board. A "room we haven't figured out what to do with yet," having just recently bought this house...

    ...The finches in the back room start to peep as first light looks in the windows. Time for me to go.

  • The rise of Ironing John by David McKie, in The Guardian, a goofy sports story sports a literary lede:
    How pleasant to sit on a cold December day in a warm and welcoming room, listening to the servants going about their work: the washing machine roaring and whirring and at moments of excitement even advancing a little across the floor; the dishwasher clunking and clanking and buzzing to show it has finished; the fridge, though a less demonstrative creature, positively purring with pleasure...

    And yet in the midst of all this automated activity there still sits the obdurate, unreconstructed iron, as incapable now as it was in the 19th century of getting on with its business unless compelled and propelled. So many old chores have been swept away: this one remains.And remains, I had always supposed, predominantly for women...
    Yet that isn't so any more. Over the past 12 months, it appears, the young men of Britain have developed a taste for ironing.

  • Pressing Matters by Maggie Alderson, in the Sydney Morning Herald, colloquial, Australian:
    I love ironing. About once a year. That's about how often I actually get round to it. The rest of the time the pile of it grows in a corner of my spare bedroom like the European Butter Mountain. But crease-y, rather than greasy.
  • Channel 4 announces extreme ironing documentary, press release from the Extreme Ironing Bureau, the dry sarcasm British TV wears you down with:
    With stunning locations and beautifully turned out athletes, this film follows the fortunes of ìStarchî, ìPower Cordî, ìIron Matronî and ìSafety Settingî as they struggle with their delicates and make battle against the highly organised German and Austrian ironists.

    Extreme ironing was invented in Britain, but, like football and cricket, it already seems that Johnny Foreigner is better than us.

  • Practice Areas: Consumer Products, sales information for PR firm CRT, track record and attitude? Why go anywhere else?:
    We cut our teeth helping build great brands like Advil, CorningWare, Robitussin and Eskimo Pie. Hey, if we can get a bowling ball on Letterman and a new iron on CNN, there's not much we can't do.
  • Iron your worries away! by Kailah Eglington, on her personal site, Kailah's Korner, life-affirming and inspirational messages to help you catch your dreams:
    Next, I randomly split the ironing into two piles - the "Yes" pile and the "No" pile, then put on a relaxing CD. I start ironing the "No" pile. As I begin to iron, I visualise that the trousers or shirt that I'm ironing is a worry over which I have no control. As each wrinkle is smoothed out, I see that particular worry becoming less and less important. I have no control over it, so as the wrinkles get ironed, I gradually let the worry go.

  • Video Quartet, Christian Marclay, image:artnet.com

    Last night I heard the artist Christian Marclay talk about Video Quartet, his enchanting, mind-boggling music/film work at Paula Cooper Gallery. It's a 13-minute musical composition of nearly 600 separate film clips, on four simultaneous channels, projected onto a 40'-long screen. It was commissioned by a friend, Benjamin Weil, a curator at SFMOMA, where it was shown last summer to wide acclaim. [Naturally, Jason Kottke wrote about it then; so did Wired.com.] Rather than parrot or try to outdo other reviews, or gush about my own experience (I've now seen Quartet ten+ times), I think it's worthwhile to look at how Marclay actually made the piece.

    Video Quartet owes its existence to the recent emergence of real desktop editing software, and the artist's highly unconventional use of it. Amazingly, Marclay learned and used Final Cut Pro: "I sat in front of a computer for almost a full year," he said. With the concept and an abstracted narrative structure in mind and starting with the films he knew, Marclay gathered scenes with music, performance, or sounds. He made bins for various categories (e.g., piano playing, singing, gongs, violins, tapdancing), hand-building a database of clips to work from.

    Then he started constructing passages or scenes and built "bridges" between them. (One thing he said he'd wished he'd done differently: start at the beginning and build it sequentially. Hey, no complaints from me.) Along the way, Marclay would search out additional films and pull from them "the right combination of music and image." (Musical strike two for Richard Gere: Marclay wanted to use Gere playing trumpet from The Cotton Club, but the combo just didn't work.)

    But how can you edit four video+audio channels in FCP, which plays multiple audio channels, (but only one video channel) at a time? By ear, apparently. He'd layer the four video+audio channels, set sound levels, and then adjust the timing of edits by outputting tiny animated versions, side by side. The result is exquisitely composed sound throughout, with absorbing images choreographed across four screens, flecked with just a touch of visual chance.

    Knowing the basics of Marclay's method adds a layer of complexity to Quartet, a layer that deepens with even a little hands-on experience in Final Cut. The last time I watched it, I began seeing the clips on a timeline, picturing a. What had seemed impossible or magic before was now revealing itself as a complex creation, the product of arduous, inspired effort.

    January 24, 2003

    Old Europe

    Bill Mauldin Cartoon, image: pstripes.com
    "Them buttons wuz shot off when I took this town, sir." (image: pstripes.com)

    GI cartoonist Bill Mauldin dies the day Donald Rumsfeld apologizes for setting the value of drafted soldiers at zero ("no value, no advantage, really").

    Then, Rumsfeld zeroes out "Old Europe," (i.e., France, Germany, the 75% of the population which doesn't want war), which sets off a firestorm of criticism.

    When I began Souvenir November 2001 a year ago, it was an attempt to underline a feeling of unity--of empathetic understanding, painfully-earned through suffering, destruction, sacrifice--that I sensed was on the wane even then. By making a movie of a New Yorker visiting a battlefield in France, seeking to learn from a war in which one in ten British men were killed (draftees, except for all the volunteers); where French, British and German soldiers died in horrific numbers, for no justifiable strategic or military purpose; where freshly dedicated WWI memorials served as shelter and vantage points in WWII assaults; where the psychological weight of the violence can still be felt, eighty years later; I imagined it could somehow be a sign, a marker, something even slightly useful for recovering and progressing from the September 11th attacks. As the chasm between the US and the civilized world widens, though, I sometimes feel like a naive, idealistic idiot.

    Then I read, of all people, Brian Eno's comments in Time, and figure I'm not entirely alone in seeing a better way: "There's a better form of security: reconnect with the rest of the world, don't shut it out; stop making enemies and start making friends. Perhaps it's asking a lot to expect America to act differently from all the other empires in history, but wasn't that the original idea?"

    Hugh and Tina at the Golden Globes. image: eonline.comThe truth is, she never loved you. Not if you're a suck-up columnist for a foreign paper, that is. Tina Brown writes from her glass house, The Times of, um, London, En-ge-land (still a foreign country, but just barely): "One small perk of my new existence, for instance, is not having to go to Hollywood for the Golden Globe Awards...Waiting for valet parking to surface, you...stand in line with the stars of a thousand TV sitcoms you have never watched and wait for very small talents to climb into very big cars."

    Bonus pick-up line (from Hugh Grant): " 'I donít know about you,' Hugh Grant commented to me one year, 'but underneath this tux I am sweating like a wolf.'"

    One small perk of my existence: reading TB at The Times, cuz Salon now makes you watch Mercedes ads. photo: eonline.com

    Act I: Setup

  • Chicago is being called "an attempt to revive the movie musical," a genre which has been woefully ignored by Hollywood since Moulin Rouge and South Park.
  • It apparently won a bunch of awards at the Golden Globes last week, and now lemming journalists are herding it to the cliff of Oscar plausibility.
  • Despite a general trepidation/disapproval of the genre (See exceptions here), I'm writing an Animated Musical.

    Act II: Action
    I went to see Chicago last night at the Ziegfeld (now a Pepsi theater, so no small sacrifice)

    Act III: Resolution
    IT SUCKED. Catherine Zeta-Jones' (aka, my phone pimp) was alive, and Queen Latifah had one good song (ok, great). But the film was emotionally and narrative...ly? flat. Feeling nothing, not caring what happens to any character, and not getting any sense at all from the film of where we were in the story, I almost left several times.

    Embarassingly, it was media hype of Richard Gere's earnestly-studied tapdancing that kept me there, until I realized I may have already missed it (I hadn't, and it wasn't worth it). After the surprising turns by Ewan MacGregor, Nicole Kidman and Jim Broadbent in Moulin Rouge, the bar has been raised; "Wow! [Insert unlikely star name here] is singing!" just isn't enough anymore. [Of course, Woody Allen proved it wasn't enough before, either.]

    Lastly, the editing. If Moulin Rouge's occasional 100-120 cpm (cuts per minute) were too much for some people, at least they held up as a creative choice. Some of Chicago's musical numbers reached at least 70-80 cpm, but to disjointed, not frenetic effect. A barrage of nearly indecipherable cuts might fit an orgiastic mob dance scene, but rapidfire cuts of two women dancing on stage seems just like a cheap attempt to liven things up (or, more likely, feeble cover for an actress's less-than-sharp dancing).

  • Charlotte Higgins writes about art (theater, mostly) as a "powerful force for peace" during the Vietnam War and wonders if it can happen now:

    We don't know everything about the Iraq situation; in fact, judging from the past, one of the few certainties is that we are being deceived. And yet to amass facts about the past is to find a framework from which to assess the present, and the future. And, now, surely this is what really matters.

    And so does art: I am the last person to doubt the transforming nature of drama, or the power of theatre as protest. But what I want, now, this moment, is not plays, not poems, not mythology, not art - but facts.

    Higgins' hook was "US Revisited," screenings and discussions of Peter Brook's 1966 play, US, which set off a firestorm of debate over British indifference to Vietnam. Another Guardian article quotes Brook:
    To use a play to fight a war is taking a taxi to the Marne...We recognised that no finished, formed work of art about Vietnam existed: we knew you can't go to an author, give him a sum of money and say, 'We order from you, as from a shop, the following masterpiece about Vietnam.' So either one does nothing or one says, 'Let's begin.'
    In his memoirs, Kissinger credits US and similar works for hastening the end of the conflict, which ended just nine years later, in 1975.

    January 23, 2003

    Get Your War Protest On

    Whatever's wrong with San Francisco, you gotta admit: they know how to throw a protest. Check out Tenny Press's gallery of protest signs from last weekend [via MSNBC's Jan Herman, aka The Juice]

    January 23, 2003

    Quick Sundance Notes

    Suzanne Bier's Open Hearts

    From Indiewire.com's excellent Sundance coverage comes the story of the screening of Open Hearts, by Danish director and Dogme groupie Susanne Bier:
    In the middle of this witty, winning Dogme 95-sanctioned melodrama about infidelity and mourning, the Park City projectionist accidentally screened the film in the wrong order: after the mistake was determined, the audience voted passionately to continue watching and piece together the narrative in their heads. One happy viewer was rumored to comment, "It's just like watching Memento." [One hopeful filmmaker was rumored to comment, "Then offer me what you should've paid Chris Nolan, dude."]

    Buffalo on the Montana Plains, Albert Bierstadt
    from the Collection of Ted Turner image:tfaoi.com

    Just two things about emerging filmmaker Richard Linklater's short film, Live from Shiva's Dancefloor, about that megalomaniacal kook from that double-decker tour bus movie: If you want to put buffalo on Ground Zero, check with that far more impressive megalomaniac, Ted Turner; he's got the biggest herd of in the world.

    Buffalo Commons, image: gprc.org

    According to the National Bison Association, you'd probably max out at a rather sparse 2.2 head/acre, or 35 buffalo total, on the 16-acre WTC site. Not quite the inspiring herds we've been promised. Not that returning land to the wild is too far-fetched: the Buffalo Commons concept has been floating around the Great Plains since at least 1987.

    In any case, if you're gonna go there, try Michael Ableman's farm idea, which he floated last month in the NY Times

    Ted Turner bonus quote: "Just because you don't hear him doesn't mean he isn't screaming," says author Richard Hack.

    Anne Truitt, image:danesegallery.com
    Installation view, Anne Truitt, Danese Gallery (image:artnet.com)

    Two shows of evocative new work by unrepentant minimalists are on 57th street at the moment, a moment when a pair of artists over 80 demonstrate the power and relevance of the minimalist mode, as well as the potential benefits of being in it for the long haul.

  • Agnes Martin is showing luminous new paintings at PaceWildenstein, (who doesn't have a freakin' website, hello, 2003).

  • Anne Truitt is showing several square column sculptures which give form and physical presence to color at Danese Gallery. [See installation views on artnet.com.]

  • Richter 858 Cover Also at Slate Joshua Clover writes a clever essay (very or too, depending on if those are exhibition posters or actual paintings on your wall) about Richter 858, a luxuriantly produced ode-- in book form, with specially commissioned poems and a CD (of Richtermusik, I guess) -- to a suite of Gerhard Richter squeegee paintings. Retailing at $125 and co-published by SFMOMA (who have been promised the paintings from an anonymous donor), Richter 858 is a "classic fetish item, beautiful enough that everyone might want it but priced beyond the reach of the great unfunded." And that's not the worst of it.

    Clover reveals that 858's editor, David Breskin, is an SFMOMA Trustee and "almost certainly" the donor of the paintings, facts which--despite a year of SEC reforms and disclosure scandals--go unmentioned in the book. "Whatever a given Richter painting, or a particular poem, might be about, Richter 858 is about checkbooks and culture--that is, it's a book perfect for decadent modernism, where the art of consumption has replaced the art of production; it's a book, finally, about collecting, that individualist art overseen by the twin muses 'Dollars' and 'Indulge.'"

    "Dollar": Last time I checked, what a Richter painting's about, is $400,000 - 1 million, depending on the size and the date. A suite of eight, then, is about, well, you do the math. By making the paintings a "fractional and promised gift" to the museum, our benefactor (let's call him "DB") gives a percentage of the title each year for a fixed term ( ex. 10%/year, 10 years), until they belong 100% to the museum. Why do this, O Muse?. "DB" spreads a large tax deduction out over several years, which is useful if his gifts exceed 30% of his adjusted gross income. "Indulge": "DB" is able to keep the art for a period of time each year in proportion to his percentage ownership.

    But there's another muse's fingerprints on this one. 858's not a catalog, it's an experience Compared to the essay- and information-packed Richter exhibition catalog written by "The Brain," (aka, former MoMA curator Robert Storr), Richter 858's multimedia melange is a work of the Heart.

    "Heart": SFMOMA says Breskin was "compelled by these works" to create this book. Talking about the project and his interactions with Richter, Breskin's giddiness ("As a sequence, these hung together and swung in a musical sense," "I wanted to create an alternative way of engaging with pictures.") sounds less like a trustee and more like a groupie.

    Trust me, that's what some of the most passionate collectors are, art groupies. Going to concerts (openings), getting backstage (in the studio), obsessing over some lyric (work) and asking arcane questions that betray how powerfully a it inhabits your mind. Groupie? Check out Breskin's 2-day interview with the Richter of 1987 rock-n-roll, Bono, for Rolling Stone. Breskin seems like the kind of guy--indulgent, clearly, but in a necessary way--who's trying to live an art-centered life, not just an "art-owning" one. And by placing the Richters at SFMOMA, "DB" seems like the kind of donor who believes that indulgent art experience should always be available to the public (but who agonizes over letting the paintings go too soon).

    And besides, 858's 30% off at Amazon. A serious collector looks for a discount.

    to Greggy from the blog.

    January 21, 2003

    Now Go Vote For This One

    Lots of Robots, directed by Andy Murdock

    This beautiful, entertaining Sundace Online entry, Lots of Robots is, amazingly, the product of one guy, animator Andy Murdock. Read about it at Wired. I love it, and not just because he has a website all about the making-of. Murdock's comments on the still above:
    This is the first shot I created fof LOR. I had just purchased my new machine for home and I wanted to take it for a spin. I looked out window into the garden and saw a humming bird. How saccharine is that? But who needs to see another cg humming bird, I'm not about to compete with Mother Nature in the beauty department, so let's make a robot humming bird and a whole story to go along with it. What else am gonna do anywayÖ watch TV?

    I find this to be the most enjoyable way to make art. You have no idea of what to do, but you start anyway. You put something down on the canvas to break the silence and just start reacting to what you see. Once you have a few critters walking around scratching their butts, you ask yourself, "What is that, and what's it doing there, where did it come from?" Now you have the beginnings of a story. Too many Hollywood stories come out of the "Formula." Want success, just change the names and fill in the blanks. I don't really want to know how this story will end until I get there. That way I get to enjoy it's flow along with everyone else. This is not the easy way, I know, but it's the way I like it. So thereÖonward.

    "Get a Canadian friend to Tivo it for you in reruns."
    -- an ain't-never-gonna-happen plea from Slate's Virginia Heffernan, who's taken on a thankless/hopeless/utterly quixotic task: stir up American interest in The Eleventh Hour, an earnest Canadian TV drama about "conscience-stricken producers" which plays like "a treatise by Susan Sontag."

    Cyan's Colin Spoelman interviewed at Topic MagazineNow that S(J03) is locked and getting ready for color correction and film transfer, I thought I'd catch up with the guys at Cyan Pictures, who I'd been in only intermittent email contact with for the last few weeks. They're both walkin' the walk and talkin' the talk, in that order.

  • They're in production with Adam Goldberg's feature I Love Your Work, which emerged from veteran indie Muse Productions on.
  • Their first short, Coming Down the Mountain, has been accepted into the (rapidly approaching) Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival and the San Francisco Int'l Film Festival
  • And EVP/model ("just part-time") Colin Spoelman gives good interview in Topic Magazine. Remember, ladies, gentlemen, writers of all ages: he's a Scorpio, and if you want to get on his good side, his drink is Maker's Mark.

  • SCENE: A Park City Mill-about
    ELVIS MITCHELL scans the lobby, sees HOLLY HUNTER standing, quiet and alone. He says to himself, "What the [expletive deleted, Utah S.C. 1999-104.2.1] is this, The Piano? Why ain't that broad talking?", and determines to do something about it. The result is in today's NY Times: the actress gives Elvis her thoughtful views on indie film marketing, audiences' different reactions to Sundance and Cannes, and translating fleeting Sundance buzz into actual box office success.

    "On the other hand," she said, "I think this marketing is provocative territory. There's a real contradiction, which is anathema to the purpose ó nurture independent film and filmmakers. Having a truck back up with $10 million changes things, not always to the good."
    Yeah, just dump it in the corner. Do I need to sign someth-- Wha-- Hey! Hey! Someone shut her up!

    S-11, directed by Stephen MarshallBreakbeat meets media hacking in Stephen Marshall's S-11, which was made for GNN, Guerilla News Network. Where Norman Cowie's Scenes from an endless war (which screened last month before Souvenir (November 2001)) used FoxNews sampling to underline media complicity, Marshall's S-11 is more powerfully and closely edited for musical and rhythmic effect, which enhances its criticism of the current administration's entire approach to the terrorist threat.

    Bumble Being, by Billy BlobFrom the Flash Filosopher, Billy Blob comes Bumble Being, the bee version of "the butterfly effect." Blob also did last year's Sundance-ruling Karma Ghost. (If you haven't changed your life yet, see it before it's too late.) It's stylin' and simple, even if it doesn't have quite the impact (so to speak) of KG, but the Flash bio that accompanies it is hi-larious.

    One, directed by Stewart Hendler, image:phantompictures.com One, directed by Stewart Hendler (image: phantompictures.com)
    Best for last: Stewart Hendler's film, One, is a stunningly beautiful short about the painful last moments of a young couple's relationship. The hauntingly lit cinematography and fragmented, melancholy-tinged memories are reminiscent of the flashback scenes DP John Toll did in Terrence Malick's Thin Red Line, and I think we all know how things turned out for that guy... One was produced by Phantom Pictures; this was their first project. DP John Ealer, however, is a veteran by comparison. Watch this one full-screen.

    seagal.gif Mafia, Mafia, Mafia. Against my better judgment, I feel compelled to bring up Steven Seagal, aka "The Action Lama," once again. He's suing (again) the mafia (again) for harassment (again), only this time, it's not the (via Staten Island) Italians, but the Germans. According to his suit, visible at The Smoking Gun, Seagal is being extorted and threatened with a "ruined reputation" for unspecificied damage he inflicted on a Berlin villa he rented while shooting Half Past Dead (that's the title, critical appraisal, and box office performance, btw). In case the extortion charge doesn't hold up, SS (d'oh!) added some more:

  • Fraud - Seagal's reputation suffered from unwittingly associating with "nefarious underworld figures"
  • Infliction of Emotional Distress - The defendant/owner of the villa "broke into and entered" the villa during the lease period.
  • Breach of Lease - The defendant "refused to provide any sheets and bedding," apparently contradicting the NYTimes' claim that "(Tert�n Chungdrag Dorje) slept here" increases property values.

    Unfortunately for Mr Seagal, he undoes his own case in the filing: "The great success of his movies attests to the quality of Plaintiff's reputation in the movie industry and in the public."

  • January 15, 2003

    Maybe Take In A Show

    The Architectural League, Cooper Union, and MoMA are sponsoring presentations and roundtable discussions by the WTC site architects and teams. Go ask the "Dream Team" what they're trying to cover up. [Sample question (from The Last Emperor), while hysterically, spitting mad: "Confess your crimes!!"]
    Today (Wed.) at Cooper Union starts at 4PM and goes until 10:30 (it's sold out, but I bet it'll thin out around, say, 7.)
    Tomorrow (Thurs.) at Town Hall is a more civilized two hour program, starting at 7PM. MoMA's Terence "I helped pick these teams" Riley is one of the moderators.
    [thanks, Gawker!]

    January 15, 2003

    NYC vs. DC

    Like Europe, it's the little differences. One that dawned on me at the gym: Underclothes

  • Manhattan locker room: shorts, some undershirts
  • DC locker room: undershirts tucked into shorts
  • Williamsburg locker room: I'm sure everyone'd be goin' commando. If there were a gym in Williamsburg, that is

    Sorry, no pictures. [And, thankfully, Frank Rich was not involved in this comparison in any way.]

  • This is what I sent to New Directors/New Films:
    Synopsis: A man carefully irons a shirt before spending the day at the rural Utah dry cleaners once owned by his grandfather.

    Utah Ark? It is shot in one day and is about the past, memory, and the links between history and present. It's not one take, ain't the Hermitage, though, and we didn't shoot the nearby Springville Art Museum...

    Dogme? Well, it's close. Perhaps fitting for a movie shot in small-town Utah, it adheres quite closely to the Vow of Chastity. But the Dogme filmmakers are fighting auteur-y demons I don't see, I have to confess, we didn't put a record player in the backseat of the driving shots, so our music is verboten. And they don't certify short films anyway Dog-me films, indeed.

    The Grandson: No violent deaths, no throbbing neck veins and stifled rage, but from the reviews for The Son and a familiarity with/admiration for the Dardenne brothers' previous work, I have to imagine some of their films' stylistic tendencies and refusal of melodrama have an (indirect) influence on my work. Cf. Souvenir's setting in a loud manual work-place, the handheld camerawork and (near) absence of music. I can only hope I attain some of their film's emotional impact. Read David Edelstein's Slate review .

    Gulfstream G500, image: gulfstream.comMy street may have more Gulfstreams than any other in the world; the peer pressure to get one is intense.
    Alec Wildenstein has one; he flew Nobu chefs around in it for his Russian girlfriend.
    Edgar Bronfman has a G-V, although it's not clear for how much longer.
    Donatella Versace refuses to fly anything else.
    Ivana Trump doesn't have one. And if Tony Mottola had one at Sony, he doesn't have it now.

    Lately, for reasons I will soon explain, Cessna, the makers of the popular Citation business jets, have been wooing me to purchase one of their planes. A stronger man might be able to do it, but I worry; if I bought a Citation, would I have to park it around the corner, so my G-Thang neighbors don't harsh on me? What's a simple filmmaker to do? I want to be independent, take a stand, but it seems like folly to go against the sentiment of "the Manhattan street."

    Clocking in at a not-dragging 11'16"; with balanced sound; a few sound effects, even (you'd never notice if I didn't mention it); a dramatically pared down soundtrack (just one song, with LP3 vinyl effects I wrote about Friday); some actually beautiful images; rhythm, edits and transitions I'm quite happy with; titles and credits made simple (through too much time and effort); and narrative and emotional elements I'm not sick of watching, Souvenir (January 2003) is DONE.

    Now it's off to the post, before the deadline leniency graciously extended by the Film Society of Lincoln Center runs out.

    Stay tuned for stills and a little more discussion when I get back.

    January 13, 2003

    S(J03) Stills

    Finally, some screen grabs from Souvenir (January 2003).

    Watching Joe spot a pair of pants, Souvenir (Jan. 03) dir. by Gregory Allen

    Want to see more? click here

    scintillement at the tour d'eiffel, image: abcparislive.com

    This morning on Kurt Andersen's Studio360, Paul Goldberger suggested "the Eiffel tower of 21st century, something that would use the technology of our time with the brilliance that Eiffel used the technology of the 19th century," be built at the WTC site. It's a powerful articulation (7 words, including an 'of' and two 'thes') of a compelling idea. [Listen here.]

    Interestingly, Goldberger discussed a similar idea on Studio360 less than a month after the Towers fell. [Listen here.] Keep your eyes peeled for a 3,500-word theoretical exegesis by Goldberger's successor at the Times. An unsung but influential force in the Ground Zero rebuilding debate, Goldberger early on uncovered the political playing field of the LMDC and Port Authority, and was the first to publish the early, architects' conception of the Towers of Light.

    Since I once visited Kings Island in Cincinnati as a child, I've never felt the urge to go up the Eiffel Tower. (The Ohio version is 1/3 the French one's height, I was about 1/3 my present height; I get the concept.)

    When the French wanted an Eiffel Tower for the 21st century (l'An 2000. Repetez: an deux mille), they got le scintillement: trillions of sparkly lights covering the Tower, which started scintillement-ing on the hour. It was a magical effect that'd stop conversations in Paris...like clockwork.

    Get smart: The Eiffel Tower at Wikipedia; Roland Barthes' The Eiffel Tower and Other Mythologies; fin de siecle idea for Eiffel Tower base jumping [via gmtPlus9].

    January 12, 2003

    Love Thy Neighbor

    Especially when you're in DC (i.e., away from DSL) and there's a new wireless connection pouring in through your window.

    The clock radio's out of the script, but music's still going in. In a piece about memory and attempting to connect with the past in a self-aware way, I want to use old-time music, my square-dancing-every-saturday, stack-of-78's-on-the-shelf, singin-cowboy, a-one-and-a-two kind of music (clearances pending, of course). And I want it to sound old.

    It seems I'm not alone. Randy Lewis just wrote for the LA Times about artists adding vinyl effects to create "a frame of reference that suddenly orients you toward another time." Hey, that's my idea: music that sounds like my grandparents' hi-fi or the AM country station in their old Buick.

    But a couple of the tracks I want aren't readily available on CD (some aren't readily available at all, especially in the Big City), and I don't have pro audio software, so for the moment (i.e., the submission deadline, remember?), I'm left with mp3. If logic, not Google prevailed, an LP-sounding mp3, then, should be an LP3: Here's how to make them, then get them ready to use in Final Cut:

  • Use Izotope's Vinyl Plugin for Winamp, which rocks. (You'll notice, if you switch, that winamp doesn't follow you.)
  • Output at CD-quality using Nullsoft Diskwriter, which generates a big WAV file, complete with vinyl effects.
  • Rip mp3's from the WAV's to ftp them to the Powerbook (I guess if I knew more about my wireless router, I could just network the two laptops and transfer them as WAV's... update: Yes, Australia, I could've used an iPod, but I don't have a Windows adapter for it.)
  • Use Quicktime Pro to convert the lp3.mp3's back into 44.1khz etc MOV files for use in Final Cut (this is needed to eliminate the popping and squelches mp3 introduces. I'm not evoking the Napster era here.)

    Friday night is now officially Audio Editing Dork Night. TGIAEDN!

  • January 10, 2003

    But Some Things Can't Wait

    Obviously, I can't do it now, but I have a list for a second edition of greg.org answers, wherein I provide the information you thought you'd find on this site, but didn't. [In the mean time, check out the first edition of greg.org answers and the in-progress Showgirls Special Edition.]

    Google search to launch a thousand anime episodes: "Tadao Undo, Architect"

    "I had a professor once who said that as Chekhov got older he lopped off the eventful beginnings and twist endings of his early works and that quivering middle was the mature short story." -David Edelstein, Slate
    Here's to you, David Edelstein. Geez, I love you more than you could know. This sentence (the phrase "quivering middle," actually), in a movie discussion I'd already posted about, convinced me to some changes in S(J03). Ch-ch-ch-changes? Well, I lopped off the ending, for starters. And there was that schmaltzy, obviously un-quivering scene with the clock radio. Gone. At first I was afraid, I was petrified. But when I heard Chekhov'd done it, well, ain't no stoppin' me now. [I have stopped the...cheap trick...of making insipid oldies music references, though. Boston, Chicago, you may proceed.]

    Chekov, image:nybooks.com
    So while I must confess to not having read much Chekhov, I have read several articles about Chekhov, and they have alternately inspired/influenced/condemned me. There's John Bayley's NY Review of Books. Review. And those previously untranslated short stories in Harper's, the ones where a friend I'd lost track of turned up in the translated byline. And a few more here and there. Cart, Horse. Horse, Cart, I know, but if I'm going to continue making naturalistic short films, I think I'd better study Chekhov a little more carefully. And I hear he wrote scripts, too. (image: nybooks.com)

    Sound editing tip: Keyframes are your best friend. Actually, The LA Final Cut Pro Users Group website is your best friend.

    Where'd you hear that? 2-pop discussion boards, you know you're my best friend.

    Of course, using keyframes to adjust your audio levels and effects doesn't make you a sound designer, any more than snapping pictures makes you a photographer.

    [Note to self: Last time you had to do this, you linked to freakin' Charlie's Angels. This time, put it on your own damn website so you don't have to ferret around for (seems like) hours trying to find the settings again.]
    FCP settings for a telephone effect filter
    There are two things that characterize a telephone sound: limited frequency range and harmonic distorion.

    For frequency, apply high pass filter (about 300 Hz cutoff, high Q), low pass filter (about 3000 Hz cutoff, high Q), and maybe a notch filter at about 1000 Hz. Play with the cutoff frequencies...

    I don't think FCP has any audio distortion filters. If you're not satisfied with frequency filters alone, apply distortion in a different audio program... Or play a clip and record it with a crappy microphone :-)

    JM (Thanks, JM!)

    Another note: I balanced half the audio levels last night (2AM), and finished this morning (11AM). As I listened to the whole piece through, the first half averaged about 3-4 dB lower than the second. The difference? No traffic or street noise last night. To a New Yorker, that's interesting. To anyone else, annoying. (Which thought did you have?)

    Charlie Rose Dream Team Pictures, image: charlierose.com That guy on the left isn't at all. He's Dan Bartlett, flak for the Architect of the Axis of Evil (and, alarmingly, the most straight-talking guy on the show) image: charlierose.com

    Just caught The WTC "Dream Team" (their quotes)--Charles Gwathmey, Peter Eisenman, Steven Holl, and Richard Meier --on Charlie Rose. [thanks for the headsup, archinect!] Preceded by an interview with White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett, Rose apparently chose obfuscation as tonight's theme.

    It was a lot of serious-minded awe eliciting empty comments about massive publicity ("How do you deal with being so great, old friend?"), one seemingly unintended admission, and an easy-to-miss editing mystery. (A coverup? If it were a coverup, I'm sure Charlie "60 Minutes2" Rose'd be on it, not in it...) What went basically unsaid (because unasked) was a discussion of the Dream Team's actual dream. (Check the Day After the unveiling, where the connection between their grid/tower concept and the wrecked shards of the original towers is made clear.)
    I am very unsettled by this team's refusal to discuss what seems to be the guiding principle of their design.

    Thumbnail image for dream_team_memorial_sq.jpg Gwathmey: "It's haunting...eerie" Meier: "ix-nay on the aunting-hay, uck-Chay" image: LMDC

    Still, Charles Gwathmey came really close when he talked about how their plan addresses New York at both levels, "the pedestrian plane" (! Plane?) and the "sky plane." (!! Two planes?) He said, "It's haunting. It's an eerie speculation about memory and presence. The image is incredibly powerful." Gwathmey's reference to the skyline rules out the possibility he was discussing the declared memorial aspect of their plan: street-level gardens in the shape of the Twin Towers' shadows, which extend across the World Financial Center and into the Hudson.

    There was no articulation of what this image is or why, no discussion of the form, no followup, no discussion about (this) memorial. Eisenman quoted Adolf Loos (again, also here, in relation to his Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe), "The work of architecture is monuments and graves, and in other words, the work of memory." Even if I like their concept of a monumental shard taking over the downtown skyline (and I have to admit, it's quite powerful), their conscious avoidance of expressing or acknowledging their clear intent is arrogant, verging on deceitful.

    The surreal TV moment: a minute or so later, there's a jump cut; something was obviously excised from the conversation. While Eisenman is talking next to him, an anxious Meier is slowly trying to drop some folded papers from view, and all the while he's sending intense messages across the table with his eyes. To whom? According to that basic element of continuity editing, eyeline matching, it was Charles Gwathmey.

    Cinema Paradiso was better shorter, even if Giuseppe Tornatore sleeps better at night knowing his version was finally released last year. (I wrote about this when I saw the Director's Cut last May.)

    According to David Edelstein's closing post to the Slate Movie Club (Just as they get crankin' they end the series), Harvey Weinstein--the same evil producer whose 45-minute cuts made Paradiso-- wanted to hack 20 minutes off the end of In the Bedroom. "If he were to take an ax to (the Dardenne brothers') The Sonówhich is like the last act of In the Bedroom minus the conclusive violenceóit would be about five minutes long.

    After walking through the 13-minute cut of S(J03), my producer made the tough calls and gave me the spine I need to cut shots and scenes I love. For some tasty scenes, you'll just have to wait for the DVD.

    Apple is certainly on my mind, if not on my head. While Jobs is off announcing the next great toy, I'm here newly switched, on deadline, and the damn Powerbook keeps freezing up and opening in recovery mode-OS9.2. How many hard powerdowns and reboots does it take to get somewhere I can change the preferences? Oh, and am I not supposed to be doing touch-ups on audio and outputting at this point instead? I'm posting this from my Thinkpad, BTW.

    based on the earliest known illustration of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.  DMCA THAT, Mr. Valenti...
    Long story short, even if I do get done in time, I don't know if I'll be psychologically ready to go to the Apple SoHo store tomorrow night (Thursday, Dec. 9, 6:30PM) to hear directors Louis Pepe and Keith Fulton's war stories from Lost in La Mancha, their hi-larious-looking documentary about Terry Gilliam's Don Quixote (a phrase as redundant as they come), but it sure sounds like fun. [Some of you may already know my production company is called First Sally, so I know from errant adventures and self-delusion. Trivia: First Sally's logo is derived from the earliest known Quixote illustration, from a 1618 Paris edition of the novel. DMCA that, Mr Valenti...]

    January 8, 2003

    ugh. rough cut done

    S(J03) is done. at least the first cut is. 12'30" is a little long. I watched it all the way through once, and there's definitely a minute I can trim. The rest, though, it'll be tougher. Maybe 10 minutes isn't so bad after all. Wed AM is trimming, audio levels (just for the rough cut; I've got to get it to the real sound editor before locking it) and output. There may be a Quicktime version available for a while online. If you're interested in seeing a rough cut, gimme a holler.

    I gotta go to bed. Weblogs weren't even invented the last time I stayed up this late for so many nights in a row...

    January 7, 2003

    S(J03) Editing, Day 1.5

    Day 1.5 is complete, and the first cut is about half done. Never mind that it's five minutes long, which is about what I'd imagined the finished cut to be. I got the first act laid down and that was about three minutes. With that pace set, I blocked out the rest of the film; comes to around 10 minutes (10:20 with credits).

    The first cut of S(N01) was about twice as long, but with that one, the target length (15 min.) was less flexible (it was the requirement for Cannes, which I knew would show it, even though it wasn't quite done). Let's see if this one settles in around 8 min.

    Here is a quick html version of the outline I blocked out on paper this afternoon.

    Background image from powerpointart.com Bright Glow Tube (all images, powerpointart.com)
    Slide 1 - Background:
  • Powerpoint invention and evolution (ref. Ian Parker's May 28, 2001 New Yorker article)
  • Powerpoint taking over human thought. 30 million presentations made daily. (ref. Julia Keller's Chicago Tribune article today) [via Romenesko's ObscureStore.com]
  • Career spent making/giving Powerpoint presentations (ref. "where I worked)
    Background image from powerpointart.com Hay Theme
    Slide 2 - What this will be used for:
  • As-Yet Unannounced Animated Musical (AYAUM)
  • Wrest Human Creativity From Jaws of Monopolist Technology (TBD)
  • Obligatory 3rd bullet point
    Background image from powerpointart.com WTC Memorial Wall, US Flag with Decorations
    Slide 3 - Examples:
  • RTMark
  • Powerpoint Gettysburg Address
  • Relationship: An Analysis
  • TBD
    Background image from powerpointart.com Chrome Cross w/Text Area
    Slide 4 - Action Items:
  • Collect examples of Powerpoint as Medium
  • Ask WWSD? (What Would Slate Do?)
  • Adapt spychedelic Willie Wonka & The Chocolate Factory Oompa-Loompa text interludes into Powerpoint

  • The Surgery, Bris soap commercial, dir. by Ingmar Bergman image:bizprocessdesign.com
    The Surgery, Bris soap commercial directed by Ingmar Bergman

    See, if you stick with it long enough, recognition will come. When his commercials for Bris soap were shown in 1951, Ingmar Bergman seemed to be living the admaker's dream: "He had final cut, he had free hands, he could do whatever he wanted," says director Anders Roennqvist. Inexplicably, though, the promising young director soon vanished into ad-biz obscurity; I searched Adwik Svenska's 80-year archives using my mobile phone, but found nothing.

    Well, thanks to Mr. Rosennqvist, you can see all these forgotten classics in Bergman's Commercials Preceding the Play, a documentary which provides an "aha-feeling of why and how Ingmar Bergman made soap commercials" (and without that annoying abba-ring around the tub!) The collection is screening this weekend at London's National Film Theatre, along with a bunch of other Bergman-related junk. (At least it is according to the Guardian; I can't find it on the NFT schedule. Why don't you all stop texting for a minute and figure out what the hell's going on?)

    In addition to the aha-feeling, seeing it will "make you feel free, well and fresh," just like the Bris brand itself. (Frankly, those were not the qualities I had previously associated with bris, but then I live in New York.)

    January 5, 2003

    Editing, or Not

    Editing, here I come. I finished logging and capturing all the footage I'll use in S(J03); it seems like it'll be tough to get it down to 5-6 minutes. The last tape I captured was all the ironing (three white dress shirts' worth). As I mentioned before, the third shirt has such great, engaged shots, it almost doesn't make sense to use anything else. The result: I'm going to try two different editing "tones." For the ironing scenes, there'll be long, continuous takes, maybe with a few dissolves; the car and cleaners scenes will have quicker cuts, jump cuts, a slightly more dynamic feel. That's the plan, anyway. I start tomorrow (Sunday). ND/NF deadline is four days away.

    Russian Ark, dir. Aleksandr Sokurov, image:guardian.co.uk Russian Ark, dir. by Aleksandr Sokurov image: guardian.co.uk

    We just got home from seeing Russian Ark, the single-take epic poem of Russian history directed by Aleksandr Sokurov. It was quite stunning for a while, then normal, then stunning again at the end. The Hermitage itself is the real star. Even without the tour de force (or gimmick, depending on your cynicism) of shooting with no edits, the film's exploration of the centuries of momentous people and events witnessed by the building would be worth seeing. The insane staging (the credits list six stage managers and twenty assistants) required to pull the thing off in one 96-minute shot is just a layer of gold leaf on the film. And as the Hermitage demonstrates, everything's better with gold leaf.

    The impact and resonance of the continuous Steadicam/tracking shot seems to be changing, though. I have a theory, which I'll try to expand on later, that the emergence of first-person shooter (FPS) video games is changing the meaning of the visual vocabulary for both film and games. When I play a Vice City for an hour, it's a continuous take, visually, even if it's not as bravura as Sokurov's, Welles', or Scorsese's.

    Comparing the edits in classic movie musicals (3 or 4 per number) to, say, Moulin Rouge (120 per minute in some songs), it's clear that the meaning/significance of the long take has changed before. Technology is changing it once again.

    Some links I'd start with: Machinima.com, turning "first person shooter" into "first person cinematographer." A broad article at Polygonweb about cinema-game influences. Game Research briefly discusses point-of-view in games and film.

    greg starts editing souvenir (january 2003) image:jean
    Greg editing Souvenir (January 2003) image: Jean

    January 3, 2003

    S(J03) Update

    I'm logging and capturing footage for Souvenir (January 2003). So far, I've completed two of three tapes, for a subtotal of about 25 minutes, which takes about 10 Gigs. Oblique Strategy: Just carry on.

    January 3, 2003

    I Feel Safer Already

    Knowing that the imperialist ambitions, quest for cultural hegemony, and utterly misplaced sense of entitlement and infallibility exhibited by their leaders are not going unnoticed. Visit FranceWatch for the latest on this grave threat to world peace and stability. [via LockhartSteele.com]

    the Mole, from South Park, image:spscriptorium.com And for reports from the front lines, or from "behind enemy lines," to be exact, check out Merde in France ("Proud to be blocked by corporate firewalls across France!" Liberte, indeed.), a bilingual weblog from an ex-pat Mole (not the one at left) [via FranceWatch, bien sur]

    In "Living Here, But Registered There," the Times celebrates all the "New Yorkers" with out-of-state plates. Harry is the story's cowering Officer Krupke, on a lonely crusade against these scofflaws who clog our alternate street parking and--and don't pay the $15 city tax and-- From where I'm standing (off the curb, naturally), a New Jersey plate means you don't know how to drive in the city; when you finally stop (in the crosswalk), I'll still look down at your license plate before making dismissive eye contact.

    2003, it seems, will not be the year that other gang gets lauded in the press: New Yorkers who register their cars here, even though they keep them somewhere else. And you better not be in my spot when I get back.

    Yinka Shonibare, 2nd Floor, Norton Christmas Project 2002, image:greg.org

    Yinka Shonibare, 2nd Floor, Norton Christmas Project 2002, image:greg.org

    Dollhouse, Interior views, Yinka Shonibare
    for the Norton Christmas Project 2002

    In lieu of Christmas cards, the art collector Peter Norton and his family began sending out specially commissioned works. [Inspired by the Nortons' example, we began commissioning artist editions--albeit at a much smaller scale--to send to family and friends as a commemmoration of various births and anniversaries.]

    In 2002, the British/Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare created a toy Victorian rowhouse, outfitted with his trademark Dutch batik fabrics, a photo of his own, and, for good measure, a Fragonard in the bedroom. Shonibare exhibited a sculptural installation based on Fragonard in 2001 and was in Documenta 11 last year.

    Wink, Takashi Murakami, 2000, Norton Family Christmas Project, 2000, image:Toyboxdx.com
    Wink, Takashi Murakami, 2000 for the Norton Family Christmas Project 2000, image: Toyboxdx.com

    For the 2000 Project, Jap-pop artist Takashi Murakami made a Wink doll, which contains a happy little CD in its base. Read about it on Alan Yen's ToyboxDX. And in 1996, Norton asked Brian Eno to publish an updated edition of Oblique Strategies, his highly sought after collection of question and idea cards, originally made in collaboration with the late Peter Schmidt. Gregory Taylor's OS site includes Norton's description of the Project and soliciting Eno's participation.

    My favorite Strategy (as I attempt to write and edit in public): "Give the game away."

    January 2, 2003


    Yeah, I love my Christmas Powerbook setup and our iPod (which we're planning to jack into our 1985 Mercedes' original stereo (which, unsurprisingly, doesn't have a factory interface for mp3 players), and as soon as Final Cut Pro3 arrives (UPS.com: 5:03 A.M. ALEXANDRIA, VA, US OUT FOR DELIVERY), I'll start crash editing S(J03).

    In the mean time, should I interpret the use of Torx screws as anything other than kneejerk anti-duopolism (philips/flathead :: wintel)? We scoured NASA Goddard yesterday and couldn't find a Torx screwdriver small enough. "Designed to install youself," indeed. If your name's Greg Torx.

    director Alexander Payne. image: wnyc.org, photo: Claudette Barius/New Line ProductionsA couple of weeks ago, I called About Schmidt the Thinking Person's My Fat, Greek Wedding and linked both back to the 1955 Academy Award sweeper Marty. Now, after giving it some thought, Vogue's Sarah Kerr notes an "odd coincidence" in a Slate discussion of the films of 2002: "Did you know that Payne is of Greek extraction and that in his boyhood his father owned a Greek restaurant in Omaha? Ring a bell with another movie this year?"

    [Listen to Payne talking about Omaha on Studio 360.]
    [MoMA's Film Department will honor Payne with its 2nd Work In Progress Award in February.]

    January 1, 2003

    Rollin' With My Homi

    Under the brown fog of a winter dawn, A crowd flowed over Triboro Bridge, so many, I had not thought the MLA had undone so many. - apologies to T. S. Eliot
    The MLA Convention was in town, "but now they're gone." (apologies to Blue Oyster Cult.) Thankfully, the Observer did the painful hanging out for you, capturing the employment angst that haunts the event.

    So why do 1,000 or so fresh lit crit PhD's ("talking loudly about post-docs and Homi Bhabha") think they're not gonna get one of the dwindling number of tenure-track university departments? Is it that the jobs are dwindling? Their knowledge and skills are at odds with the market? No, this year it's the publishers. Academic publishing channels are disappearing, but universities' stubbornly rely on said publication for faculty hiring. But oddly, the publishers only want to books that sell, by celebrity thinkers, a French concept the US thankfully hasn't really embraced (Non-thinking celebrities only, please. Desole, Mr. Penn.)

    According to the big names at MLA, films are a potential solution. And they don't mean hosting one panel on "The Hollywood Musical, 1970-2002". MLA Jefe Stephen Greenblatt consulted on Shakespeare in Love. And special guest star/historian (and "haute couture communist") Natalie Zemon Davis shared writing credit on Le Retour de Martin Guerre, so that's two. I see no one's taking credit for Sommersby, though. Hmm.

    Well, the MLA convention itself is overflowing with ideas, analysis, papers, panels, content. It's the most microsegmented idea bazaar around. The index does sound like a pitch meeting: "Guns and Barbies," "The Bible & Toni Morrison," " Talkin' Funny III" (Sequel. Good. I see Kirstie Alley and John Travolta. Go on.), "Theorizing Beowulf: The Cognitive-Economic-Postcolonial Beowulf" (Okay...), "Cash Bar and Dinner Arranged by the Joseph Conrad Society of America" (Cash bar? He did Apocalypse Now and it's cash bar??).

    Impenetrable monologues, job envy and economic disparity? Sounds like the perfect NY writers party. And the reaction of naive MLA'ers reveals it to be so:

    "You get the sense that everyoneís in on some big secret that youíre not a part of," said Ms. Vlagopoulos.
    "Or that theyíre all playing a practical joke on you," added Ms. Sobelle.
    . Well, womyn, it's called Mafia, and you're dead.

    As for publishing, well, that one's got me stumped. It's not like there's an easy-to-use, economical model for publishing that facilitates discussion and dialogue. I'd love to be proved wrong, but for all their content and desperation to get the word out, it looks like not one person blogged the MLA.

    Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

    Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

    comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
    greg [at] greg [dot ] org

    find me on twitter: @gregorg

    about this archive

    Posts from January 2003, in reverse chronological order

    Older: December 2002

    Newer February 2003

    recent projects, &c.

    Our Guernica Cycle, 2017 –
    about/kickstarter | exhibit, 2017

    Social Medium:
    artists writing, 2000-2015
    Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
    ed. by Jennifer Liese
    buy, $28

    Madoff Provenance Project in
    'Tell Me What I Mean' at
    To__Bridges__, The Bronx
    11 Sept - Oct 23 2016
    show | beginnings

    Chop Shop
    at SPRING/BREAK Art Show
    curated by Magda Sawon
    1-7 March 2016

    eBay Test Listings
    Armory – ABMB 2015
    about | proposte monocrome, rose

    It Narratives, incl.
    Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
    Franklin Street Works, Stamford
    Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
    about | link

    TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -

    Standard Operating Procedure
    about | buy now, 284pp, $15.99

    CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
    Canal Zone Richard Prince
    YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
    Decision, plus the Court's
    Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
    about | buy now, 142pp, $12.99

    "Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
    Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
    about, brochure | installation shots

    HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
    Printed Matter, NYC
    Summer 2012
    panel &c.

    Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
    background | making of
    "Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

    Canal Zone Richard
    Prince YES RASTA:
    Selected Court Documents
    from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
    about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99