Spring!

April 16th, 2006
Posted in It's life, Jim...
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I hate Spring. Aside from the fact it’s my birthday, that is. It’s the time of year when all the little plants and bunnies burst into life. Suddenly, there’s a whole new crop of grass to mow. Suddenly, there’s another fur-lined hole in the lawn. And suddenly, I have hayfever, which feels exactly like having a cold when you’ve had a bunch of days of rain followed by three days of warm sunshine and there’s pollen galore in the air. My throat hurts, my nose is snotty and I feel knocked out. Yack.

Still, it’s not all bad. This week I get to make another video for the Michigan Theater. Last week, The Adventure Golf Guy made its debut on imdb. And last week, I also picked up my new leather waistcoat (or vest as they call them in the local vernacular).

Yes, another leather waistcoat, like the one I used to wear all the time I was in charge of local programming for West Herts Television and Parallel Pictures. Except this “vest” is more in the western style. All leather, it came from Muleskinner Boots in Chelsea. It’s got “dual concealed carry pockets” with ballistic lining and a heavy duty elastic holster. For when you just gotta pack some heat. I have no idea what I’ll use those for, but yee-haw!

We’re not in Blighty any more, Toto.

Coffee And Bagels

March 29th, 2006
Posted in Fire and Light
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Two things. One, coffee. Coffee should never be served in a glass. What is this ridiculousness that permeates far too many coffee shops around these parts? Hot liquid in glass. Gosh, doesn’t it look trendy? Complete cobblers. It makes the glass hot, you burn your fingers and it doesn’t keep the coffee warm. Coffee should be served, at best, in a proper mug, otherwise in an insulated container. Glasses are for wine, beer, spirits and soft drinks. Tea? Don’t even go there.

Second thing, bagels. What’s the point? Big lump of chewy dough with a hole in the middle. There is no point. If I want a sandwich, I want proper bread or a bread roll. If I want a cakey thing with my coffee, I’ll eat a cakey thing. Preferably with a lot of sugar and chocalate therein. I don’t want something that’s going to sink to the bottom of my stomach and sit there like jurassic clay. The stuff they make bagels with would be better used to make coffee mugs, if you ask me. Mould it, bake it, just don’t expect me to eat it.

Thirdly, I appear to have started going to coffee shops. And ranting about it. I’m beyond hope.

Behind The Curtain

March 27th, 2006
Posted in Fire and Light
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Today I receive an email from an American university undergraduate whose ability to write coherent English is the equivalent of a seven year old. Today I talk to an American university secretary who can’t see past the bureacracy of her organization which insists on a multitude of forms, including one for paying prize money. Today I try to deposit a check for $1500 into my own account and have to wait for the manager’s approval. Yes, today I deal with the American Educated Class.

And I am appalled. Education in America appears to exist outside of reality and to be measured by the standards of Oz. You know, where the Great Oz hands the Scarecrow a piece of paper and claims it proves he’s intelligent. Scarecrow’s head is still full of straw but now he has credentials. That may work for children—build them up to raise expectations. For children, yes, this is a good thing. For adults? I think not.

Yet, that’s what education here appears to be all about. Pay the money, pass the test, get the piece of paper. Don’t think; obey. And pay up while you’re at it. Curse those pesky free-thinkers who somehow slip through the cracks, maintain intellectual rigour and end up being able to question for themselves. Thinking without paying and undermining authority with their accursed questions.

Of course, in the end, society is to blame for the bureacracy gone mad. But never mind them; we’ll be investigating them later. (rimshot)  For further amusement combined with head-bang-on-desk disbelief over what’s happening in the US school system, go here and check out the article “Let’s Get Back to Education in Education”.

Memes Evolve

March 24th, 2006
Posted in Fire and Light
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One of the most fascinating people I’ve met at A2FF this week has been media ecologist Gerry Fialka. Gerry is not only well-informed, off-beat and articulate, but he’s willing to enter in new discussions even if they go against his current views. He was on a panel with Scott Beiben of the Lost Film Festival this afternoon. Gerry says we need to look for new questions to ask and new paradigms.

Started me thinking. About chaos theory. And about leadership (again). Chaos theory shows chaotic systems going through periods of temporary stability; periods where it looks like order. Like, maybe, society. Maybe society is in a transitional phase, looking for the next paradigm; the next period of order. Maybe the memes are evolving.

Scott spoke about lots of cool stuff too. The panel was about Cultural Jamming, or Culture Jamming. I’ll look it up later. Anyway, Scott’s approach to film exhibition (and I guess production) is way on the fringe. At one point he said something like, “I don’t believe in law or nation states or sovereignty.” Yours truly heckled, “Hey, you’re George Bush!” Minor titters.

There does seem to be a shared worldview at opposite ends of the American political spectrum. Do what you want, it’s not right or wrong, just “appropriate” or “inappropriate”, a “service” or a “disservice”. Is it too politically correct? Or are the memes, also, evolving? It feels like America needs those new paradigms, the new metaphors arising from the new questions.

Perhaps, once it’s got a handle on them, there’ll be some real leadership at the top, on both sides, instead of vaccillation countered by tantrums and people in the middle looking for an easy buck. It occurs to me, though, that the meme everyone’s looking for is “think global, act local”. Humans still want to reach other humans; community spirit. It’s about what’s pro-social. That’s good.

Here endeth the thought bubble.

*****

PS. Sometimes engaging people doesn’t work. You can talk and talk but if they don’t want to listen, don’t want to change, you’re wasting your time. You can also preach to the choir but so what? Frankly, the answer to that is: you can’t force people to change. You can create the opportunity for them to change, support their freedom of expression. In the end, though, change is about leadership and, yes, there is more to that meme than engagement alone.

No Frame Of Reference

March 22nd, 2006
Posted in Film making
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Today is out of sync. This week is out of sync. DVD’s that should have been delivered four weeks ago still haven’t arrived with the customers. Complaints come in and the DVD’s are still in transit. One eff up follows another.

I met a producer two weeks ago. She wanted someone to edit her feature for Cannes. Problem is, she doesn’t really have a feature. Only six hours of rushes shot on her palmcorder. Problem is, she doesn’t have a script. Or an outline. She wants to use material from the net, but doesn’t have all the clearances. She originally wanted her feature done in two weeks. Biggest problem is, she has no money, isn’t paying. A friend commented it was like being given a knife and fork and asked to provide dinner.

Last week I had paying work all week. No feature editing happened. Can’t find the woman’s name on films she claims to have produced. Weird. Maybe she made her money/rep some other way on those films. Begs too many questions and I have no time. Today she sent a friend to collect the rushes.

The paying work continues to come in, meanwhile. Like a feeding frenzy. And there are these sharky people in the water. No DVD’s, no feature edit. The rep of Ascalon Films is going down and the money just keeps coming in. Out of sync.

This week is the Ann Arbor Film Festival. One of my screening committee counterparts blames me for too much narrative. I blame him for too much boring crap that the audience walks out of. And they do walk out. Sometimes. It’s no way to make money. Money goes down that way. But rep for experimental, pushing the boundaries, goes up. Out of sync.

I am still hungover from last night’s opening party. Free vodka and a cool after party. Good times. Today is out of sync. Tonight we’ll go see a group called The Wet Spots playing live at the /Aut/ Bar. 10pm (actually, it was more like 1am when they did their set). Good times. Crazy. I sync therefore I am.

Pimping Portman

March 5th, 2006
Posted in Fire and Light
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Looks like young Natalie has had a haircut.

By the way, this site now podcasts more than it blogs. Use the gizmo on the right hand side of the screen to hear the latest blather.

Shove This In Your Name Brand

February 16th, 2006
Posted in Fire and Light, Uncategorized
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Today I hit a car. I knew I was going to do it, to hit another vehicle, from a day-dreamingyetstrangelysimmeringwithanger moment as I was driving towards the lights on Maple and Dexter. Just a feeling. I didn’t hit anyone at precisely that moment, though. In fact, it was nearly eight hours later that I hit the actual physical car.

Today’s been like that. I’d been out filming a lecture by a Jewish lesbian from Cuba–one of Ann Arbor’s defining moments, perhaps–and had hauled my sorry ass (or pack mule, if you prefer) back to the parking structure. There, some cunt had parked their pointless four wheel drive so close to me that I was compelled to thwack my door against his/hers a few times. Then I reversed out and started to turn and, yeah, I scraped my fender along his/hers/its.

Of course, I stopped and checked for damage. My car wasn’t, so that was okay. Now I can concentrate on matters of great moment and import. Matters like why there are so many two-faced back-stabbing bags of shit in the world and why I can’t get a gold medal on Project Gotham Racing 3. These are tough questions and I don’t really have any answers right now. Okay, I have one.

Sock puppets. Sock puppets are the answer. Yes. I’m thinking of naming my first sock puppet Mardi Grease Burger and I’m going to make it wear a hair shirt and have a special tube that makes it drool from the side of its mouth. But even before that Hendersonesque moment, I need to figure why Apple’s Compressor 2 software is a piece of soul-sucking crap and then practise PGR3 some more.

Once that’s achieved I can ask for a second opinion.  Which reminds me of a joke.  A man goes to the doctor.  He says, “Doctor, I’ve got this terrible pain.  I think it might be caused by the stress of sitting too close to a television screen.”  The doctor says, “No, it’s not that.  I used to be in charge of terminal dullness and I can categorically say it’s because you’re terminally dull.”  The man says, “Hey, that’s outrageous!  I demand a second opinion!” The doctor says, “Alright.  You’re ugly as well.”

I thenkyew.

Park Duck

February 5th, 2006
Posted in It's life, Jim...
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Well, hellllooooo! Christmas, extremely busy; England, visiting everyone, Pete’s party, lots of driving, go-karting, amusing; A2, extremely busy, making time for that week in England; Lucy visiting, extremely busy. Hey, can I just say “extremely busy”? Superbowl weekend now. Snowing. Mac rejected the latest upgrades and much restoring from back ups yesterday. So, what’s new? Park Duck from Jason Attar, that’s what. Click here. Then check out the link which says, “More from this user”.

New Year Promises

January 5th, 2006
Posted in It's life, Jim...
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Well, there goes 2005. Whoosh. Wasn’t it fun? Highlights here include visitors from the UK, two great trips to Chicago and film making. Hey, I even won two awards for The Adventure Golf Guy, another short written by John Ardussi. So, what’s going to happen in 2006? I can tell you, given that religion has the status of fact here in the good ol’ US of A, that the Flying Spaghetti Monster has promised me great things.

That’s as long as I keep my New Year’s Resolutions. Namely:

1. Avoid GM foods. Which is pretty hard to do here in the States because the chemical industry has managed to avoid having such things made clear. Except now we know for sure that Kellogg’s will be using at least one of the criminal Monsanto company’s GM products, Vistive in its cereals and pop tarts. So that’s easy. No more Kellogg’s.

Oh, and Monsanta’s continued claims that its crops are “hybrids” are not just laughable, they are actually, what’s the word? Lies. If they were hybrids, they wouldn’t be patentable. Hello? And the idea that living things can be patented is, what’s the word? Evil. So that’s Monsanto. Evil lying crooks. Would you buy a used soybean from this company?

Pause for breath. Okay…

2. Start work on the first Ascalon Films feature film. Pilot Fish is looking like the best candidate, even if it is mostly set outdoors, in winter, and a lot of it at night. The plan is to get a bank loan, purchase a true High Definition camera and set up a company to hold all the rights and pay out deferred payments. Then we can start shooting interiors in the summer. Plus that camera will give me something to film more corporate work, instead of renting equipment. Bonus.

3. Cook. Well, at least a bit. I want to make a huge amount of curry and freeze it. And I want to make a huge vat of ham and pea soup and freeze that too. Home-made ready meals.

Meanwhile, there’s all the other regular stuff needs doing. Oh, yeah, and XBox360. Brrrrrrmmm, brrrrrmmmmmm!

Cable Potato

December 15th, 2005
Posted in Fire and Light
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We live in the age of Pinyata Television; keep hitting the remote until rewards appear.