Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wednesday gallery

With zero rhyme or reason:


















And this one is specially dedicated to my friend Matt:


Sunday, December 9, 2007

YouTube Parade

I just wrapped a short called "The Magic Finger," directed by JR Burningham and produced by Tess Ortbals (who apparently doesn't have her own website, and therefore doesn't exist), and it was a blast. There was a live duck, for example, who was very well-behaved. Also, JR and Tess are phenomenally good people, and everybody else involved was extra fab, so it was easily one of the best shoots I've had in a while. Hooray for heartwarming Hollywood experiences! Better than chicken soup for the soul, except for having to wake up at 4:30am on a couple of the shoot days. That part is more like moldy, sour grapes for the soul. Ick.

Anyway, below is an assortment of various YouTubery that I've been enjoying lately, take a gander and see how loopy I am.



Howard Jones, "The Prisoner" This is an extremely rare view of a camera being professionally wielded by a woman -- only imagine! The music video plays with some interesting concepts (photography as a form of 'capturing' somebody, manipulation of a person's image signifying a shift in power between the manipulator and manipulated, blah blah hermeneutic crap blah blah), plus it has Howard Jones being all 80's-style soulful, so I love this thing. I don't get the bride-with-a-syringe imagery in the middle (Bridezilla will sedate you, monkey boy?), plus there are so many ripoffs (er, homages) of classic photos that it really makes one's head spin, so consider yourself warned.



Channel 4 'Get set for digital' MAX HEADROOM LIVES! OH BOY OH BOY OH BOY! I would totally smooch Max Headroom. You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. Granted, I might be reduced to licking a TV monitor, but I still say it would be worth it. Yowza.



Here Comes Another Bubble - The Richter Scales Fun rant in song format about Internet bubbles, sung to the tune of "We Didn't Start the Fire." Surprisingly entertaining, at least for me, and I think we've already established that I am very, very easily entertained; for goodness' sake, I'm now licking TV screens. Sigh.



Dylan Moran - Monster He completely switches gears midway, but all gears are clearly labeled 'Awesome.' I have never seen such a terrifically thorough portrait of a stereotypical French starving artist in my life.



Ze Frank - "Privacy" Ze is not to everybody's taste, but I still think he's neato. He makes going to hell in a handbag sound good, or at least entertaining.



"very creepy, disturbing children's cartoon, banned from TV" This was brought to my attention by my friend Jason, and boy howdy is this video riveting. RIVETING. What can I say? I'm a sucker for brilliant claymation.



100 Movies, 100 Quotes, 100 Numbers

AND the entire film clip list for "100 Movies," above
This is such a great idea, I'm kicking myself for not having thought of it first.



Zero Gravity Water Bubble Hypnotic.



"Man Cold" from Man Stroke Woman Why ARE guys such weenies when they're ill? Most interesting.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I'm a MAD non-conformist

This is in reply to Rory's words in A Neopoleon Creation Story - Day Six - #2: Rallying the Troops. I was actually just going to post this in the comments section at neopoleon.com, but this quickly grew into a ginormous, informative thing that I now feel deserves a proper post on my own blog. So, here goes:

"back when I started this site in 2003, women still didn't know about the internet."

Er, I had a webpage by 1996, mainly because I was really that talented at avoiding organic chemistry homework. I've since forgotten everything about organic chemistry, with the possible exception of cyclohexane (nothing special about it, I just remember the concept of cyclohexane), but I still do webby-type things.

"Now they're here with the rest of us, clogging up the web with their recipe swapping and knitting advice."

I don't cook often if I can help it, and I still have no idea how to knit. There is another Astrid Phillips who has commented up a storm on various knitting forums online, but she is merely using my name for maliciously inane purposes.

"To show my gratitude, I'm going to thank one (female) . . . . Astrid and I've been writing back and forth for quite a while now, and I've probably been linking to her more than is appropriate."

True. But, hey, my website's views quadruple every time you link to me, plus I enjoy feeling like a member of somebody's coterie -- but only if that coterie involves geeks with great cheekbones and murderous sandwiches.

"Anyway, I said I was going to flirt, so here goes: Astrid, I totally want to touch you on the leg. How'd that go? Was it flirty? Maybe a little creepy? A little of both? 'Crirty'? 'Creety'? 'Fleepy'? 'Flirpy'?"

I'm partial to 'flirpy,' nicely done. As for the actual leg-touching, I'll quote a friend of mine who quoted this at me last night from somebody else he was quoting: I'm still plotting data points on you. You've already been beta tested, and apparently there were some bugs before you were recently upgraded, so...yeah. Thanks, though. I'll keep you posted on the leg touchability when my focus group finally gets back to me.

"Astrid . . . might be too professional to know how to advise us cheap-ass Handycam dorks."

Never. You're forgetting I'm also a film instructor; advising cheap-ass Handycam dorks comprises a sizable chunk of what I do.

"As Cliff said, she's a 'cinnamontog. cimanym.tog. synonymtograf.'"

Cinematographer.

"I don't know how to spell the word either"

Cinematographer.

"but it's pronounced like 'cinnimootohgrahfur'."

Sigh. All together now: SIN-eh-ma-TAW-grah-fer. Dude, it's like, totally iambic pentameter dactylic dimeter [thank you, Einar]. Probably doesn't help that I sometimes like to call myself a 'cinnamontographer' when I'm feeling revoltingly cutesy.

"It means she knows how to take photographs of movies or something."

Exactly. Okay, seriously, here you are:

A cinematographer is an artist and craftsperson who tells stories using lighting and a motion picture medium (film or video, although I'm partial to flipbooks and hand-cranked penny arcade machines myself), and this is done in collaboration with fellow artists and craftspeople. In other words, I take what the director tells me ("make this scene look cold, scary, and really warped," for example), and I figure out what that means visually (most likely harsh shadows, lots of blue, and crazy/unflattering angles, just to continue the example), and then I translate that into technical stuff for my crew (like asking my lighting crew to put the lights in certain places and at certain angles to create harsh shadows, with certain shades of blue-colored gels [sheets of colored plastic] on said lights; perhaps also asking my camera crew to tilt the camera and stick a wide-angle lens on it to warp the actors' features).

So, lots of translating from the artistic into the technical, and lots of bossing people around.


Speaking of penny arcade machines (which really do make me almost obscenely happy), I'm going to quote my copy of The Voodoo MAD on the topic of movies:

MOVIES - ORDINARY CONFORMISTS . . . go in for uninspired Technicolor musicals, stories with happy endings, migraine-provoking Cinemascope, and 6 1/2-hour double features that destroy the eyes, ears, nose, and spine.

MOVIES - ORDINARY NON-CONFORMISTS . . . patronize stuffy out-of-the-way movie houses that show "experimental" films, arty-type films, documentaries, and obscure foreign language pictures with the sub-titles in pidgin Swahili.

MOVIES - MAD NON-CONFORMISTS . . . enjoy hand-cranked penny arcade machines which contain film classics like the Dempsey-Firpo fight, Sally Rand's Fan Dance, old Ben Turpin comedies, and Tom Mix pre-adult westerns.

Three guesses which one I am (in case you didn't bother reading the title of this blog entry).

Also, since Sally Rand is all sorts of terrific: Sally Rand dances with a very beautiful Balloon. This reminds me of "The Prisoner" (see intro here and part of the pretentious-yet-handy "The Prisoner Companion" [with balloon at 2:29] here).

You may now return to your regularly scheduled lives.

P.S. I think I mixed up my bracketing technique -- it usually goes { [ ( ) ] }, and I did it the other way around throughout this post. I'm only saying this because silly matters like that actually bother me, but when I tried it the other way around, it looked weird. If you don't give a crap, congratulations -- you are a relatively well-adjusted person. If you DO give a crap, we'll probably get along quite well, although our friendship will most likely devolve at some point into a frenzy of slapping each other over something remarkably stupid, like the proper pronunciation of 'coupon' or 'banal.'

T-shirt designs

Okay, I have four T-shirt designs I just cooked up. They're not officially on Cafe Press yet The I [RO] NY, Sexier In Semaphore, and Kiss Me / I'm Leprous designs are now on sale at Cafe Press! I just wanted to get an overall sense of what people like or don't like first, as well as preferred sizing etc. Let me know if you'd like to purchase Acrimony & Cheez or I'm Leprous as well. Here they are:



=



=



=



Happy zany holidays! Over and out, ten-four good buddy.

Monday, December 3, 2007

enough with the preening, already

Okay, no more bragging about myself for today. I'm rapidly approaching the point where my apparent excellence is so blinding that I'd like to stab my eyes out with a fork and cement the deal. Yeesh.

Instead, I'd like to brag on somebody else's behalf this afternoon before I finally go and get a belated lunch: Nick Patera. Just watch this.



Nick is a god. A GOD. You go, girl.

I'm the best producer who never was

I hate producing. I hate all the phone calls, and the amassing of resources and personnel, and the keeping track of money, and the constant panicking; it all seems so petty to me. Being a DP is much more relaxing; at the very least, it has a stress that actually energizes me, makes me happy, and keeps me feeling like I'm on the cutting edge of fabulousness. People may be yelling about losing daylight and the actor's threatening to walk and the generator having just died, but I pride myself on my Laser Death Ray Artist Vision, which cuts through irrationality, space, time, and egos, thus enabling me to Make Necessary Shit Happen.

It's not like I leave a wasteland of smoking ruins or anything, although that would be pretty cool. I merely state the obvious (which is usually half the battle -- people seem to like living in denial a lot), and then present what I consider the best strategy, with full explanations and zero smugness or pandering. It's stupidly simple, and feels very raw and immediate, even physical, like I'm bashing people's heads together with basic, implacable words of truth. It's like being able to tame a wild horse, or getting a two-year-old to take a nap. I've always been good at slicing through raging storms on set, and it makes me feel at least ten feet tall every time things are resolved to everybody's grudging satisfaction.

This is part of the reason I love being a DP. Even at its most disorganized, zero-communication, crew-with-no-lunch-after seven-hours, rock-bottom worst, it's still exhilarating when I finally get to move mountains an inch to the left. Yeehay.

Today, though, was a petty producer day, a day devoted to quibbling over minutiae, but I've still managed to emerge triumphant over the irritations, which kind of surprises me; this is not my usual, comfortable domain of logical head-bashing. I just got the rental houses EVS and Pro HD into a bidding war over equipment I'm renting for a no-budget shoot this weekend, and I managed to cut their rental day rates in half. IN HALF. And there was no arm-twisting, no veiled (or overt) threats, no yelling about having to speak to the manager. I just kept calling back and forth, being Li'l Miss Apologetic Cinematographer ("I'd hate to get you embroiled in a bidding war with each other, but..."), schmoozing like a lean, mean (okay, not mean), schmoozing machine, and I turned out to be The Ultimate Ace Producer. Who'd'a thunk?

It's very satisfying, but I still prefer to lurk behind a camera. It's harder to eat donuts on set when you're constantly freaking out at people on the phone and have to keep your mouth clear of donut debris, you know? Donuts first, panicking second. Let it never be said that I am a woman with a screwed up set of priorities.

I'm in the SOC! I think.

Okay, this is weird -- I think I was just made a member of the Society of Camera Operators. But I'm not sure.

See, I'm newly listed as a member on their roster, but have I received an official letter of welcome yet? No. This may be because the stoopid post office is still holding my mail, even though they should have delivered everything by Friday last, and perhaps the letter is sitting there. But I did call the SOC last week and leave a message about this, and I wrote to the SOC webmaster about this, and has anybody gotten back to me with clarification? Sadly, no. I am baffled, which I always pronounce "baff led."

So, if I'm really a member, and they didn't list a different Astrid Phillips who also applied at the same time I did, then HUZZAH I SAY. This means I get to hobnob with camera operators and hifalutin' DPs who are in the American Society of Cinematographers, which is beyond awesome. Many thanks to everybody who offered to be a reference for me, you are absolute dears.

Actually, just saying 'hobnob' and 'hifalutin'' in the same sentence is beyond awesome already.

Back to the point: if, on the other hand, it's really a different Astrid Phillips (not probable, but still possible), then I will be seriously peeved. I will have to hunt down my doppelgänger and, by virtue of merely shaking her hand, we will annihilate the space-time continuum as we know it. That would be intriguing, except for the actual annihilation part.

So, if you're in the SOC, and you can clear this all up, then please do so; that would be most excellently fab. Thanks.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

a little art gallery


I love the silhouette of the lady with her jaunty hat -- and her head is so perfectly contained in the sweep of the freeway. Love it. Of course, why she's hanging out under the freeway is beyond me, but I guess that's what you do when you're being pensive in the big city.




What a stylish couple! And again with the jaunty hat.... Y'know, I really wish the tobacco industry would come out with a non-carcinogenic cigarette, because if they did, I'd be the very first non-smoker to start swanning about town with a cigarette in a holder, smoke curling about me wherever I go.



I'm assuming that this guy immediately shaved his head afterwards. Dorkiness aside, this is a really fun, well-executed idea.




Believe it or not, I was once duct taped to a wall as well, back in my freshman sophomore year at Michigan. It was all my then-boyfriend's idea. O, the memories. He's now a physicist for the EPA and married, apparently.



Nice to see he's taking things well.



I was once hit by a wave a tenth of this size, and I nearly passed out and drowned. I really, really hope that this is Photoshopped, but it doesn't seem like it. Hoo boy.



I WANT THIS FENCE. NOW. Failing that, I'd like to be this fence. Thank you.



I love when make-up looks like candy. I wouldn't want to kiss that, but it sure looks nifty.



Braaaaaaaaaaains! The "Kids OK" part is magnificent.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

29 + 1

A certain somebody has said that my blog would gain coolness points if I allowed anonymous comments. So, I am handing over the keys of the asylum to the inmates: you no longer have to be a registered Blogger user to comment on my inanities. Have at it.

Also, for those of you who like snooping into my blog-reading habits, I now keep an automatic, continuously updated list on this site of article links which I recommend. This will hopefully cut into my rather tedious linkyloos, which, let's face it, I only do in order to clear out my brain so that I don't go insane from all the unshared coolness I constantly find in this world. If I'm going to go insane, let's hope it's for a far more entertaining reason. Like, say, demonic possession. I've seen The Exorcist, and you know, I think my life could use a little excitement along those lines. "What's wrong with vomiting a little pea soup here and there?" is what I frequently say to people.

Moving right along, I am now thirty years old. I had hoped I'd magically wake up feeling like an adult, but that has yet to happen. I've started flossing again, actually, but that's more because I'm back in touch with my zany ol' college pal Jimmy, who has now become Dr. James Boynton, adjunct professor of pediatric dentistry at the University of Michigan, and even if a dentist makes a point of NOT telling me to floss, the unspoken guilt trip is still there and I start flossing again anyway. Regarding Jimmy: we're talking about a dentist who, in our freshman year at Michigan, told me that he wanted a dental drill which would hum the theme to "Love Boat," which would make folks that much happier about visiting their dentist (ideally Jimmy). So, if anybody out there has any leads regarding drills which can play "Love Boat," let me know. There's already a Japanese guy who figured out how to make road bumps play music, which might be a potential avenue (hee!) of inquiry.

Other than the flossing and lack of demonic possession, there's not much else to report on The Astrid Frontier currently. I threw a slow-motion party, which I call 'slow motion' because it was more of an open house stretched across a whole day, which was very chill and very cool. And I've had turkey with my mom's homemade stuffing, along with that excellent cranberry sauce which retains the ridges from the can it came in. And I got to see the inside of the Yale Club in Manhattan for the second time in my life, and you know, I still say they don't have nearly enough mounted elk heads on their walls yet. There are a few, but they still have a ways to go, those Yalies.

OH, WAIT A SEC: I made a new website! I've been stricken with the flu for the past few days, which is why I haven't been up to much, but just before the flu hit, and just before I got to see how few elk heads those silly Yale people have in their silly, not-nearly-elk-headed-enough club, I made a website! This is the website I made:

What the doctor saw

I am very proud of this site, but not because of my own work -- really, it's because I'm proud of my dad's work, since my dad is the doctor in question. The site is a showcase of his photography, and even if he weren't my dad, I'd still have to say: he gives a very convincing impression of knowing what he's doing. Go check it out, then e-mail him and tell him how awesome he is. Don't tell him I sent you, or he'll think I bribed you.

Here are some phrases I've been using entirely too often:
loose cannon
madness & mayhem
29 + 1

Here is a word I haven't used often enough:
blurgh

What I consider an elegant centerpiece idea:
A ring of blue Jell-O, with gummy fish suspended within it

Who else agrees with me about the Jell-O centerpiece idea:
Jimmy

My current favorite literary heroine, second only to Jane Eyre:
Dagny Taggart (from Atlas Shrugged, which I'm currently reading)

Here is what I don't get about Atlas Shrugged:
Why is everybody always kissing each other so violently? Once or twice, okay, but every time? Weirdos.

Something which just popped into my head:
What if you had a wall which was jammed full of mounted elk heads? I mean, to the point where you couldn't even see the wall any more, so it's just a solid mass of elk heads staring at you? And what if each of those heads suddenly burst into song, doing a full choir rendition of "I Feel Pretty" from the film West Side Story?

Welcome to my brain, everyone. The information desk is temporarily closed, the cafeteria downstairs is currently serving an excellent pea soup, and don't forget to visit the gift shop at the main entrance. Tipping the coat check guy is optional, but always appreciated.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

HD Camera Smackdown!

I e-mailed a friend of mine that I'm going to the HD Expo's Sony F23/Band Pro camera demo tomorrow night, and he snapped. He started ranting and raving about how the F23 is obsolete before it's even been released, that it's a "cheap Genesis knockoff," not even good enough to lick the boots of the Panavision Genesis (or the Arri D-20 for that matter), yadda yadda yadda. I sent back my counter argument, and then figured, hey, somebody else might want to see this, too, in case they're on the fence about the latest HD-shooting fanciness out there. My e-mail to my friend is reproduced below (except for the personal bits); please tell me if I have any of the info wrong/outdated, and I'll adjust things accordingly.

_____


To address your F23 rant, though: I don't think the debate is quite so cut-and-dried. The Genesis actually uses a big chunk of Sony imaging technology, so rather than the F23 being a 'cheap Genesis knockoff,' it's more like a different branch from the same tree. And although the Genesis does have an impressively-sized chip, it still (as far as I know) translates into the same ho-hum 1080 resolution. Mainly, it was developed to be usable with Panavision lenses, which is definitely terrific, but I don't think this makes the Genesis an inherently superior camera to all others. Most others, yes, but not all. Now, if it could use Cooke S4s, I might change my tune....

As for the D-20, it would be mind-bendingly magnificent, outstripping all others (even the Genesis), except for one teensy problem -- all the good stuff is only available in 'data' mode, which is still unavailable! I mean, come ON! Nice idea, but I'll reserve my confetti and party hat for next year, when the data mode will presumably be fully operational and the D-20 can show us its full range. Until then, pbthfthfthft. And that's the technical term, I believe.

For my money, it's the the Dalsa Origin which currently kicks the most ass -- depending on how you capture, it has what I like to call 'hyper HD' resolution, plus it uses 16-bit instead of everybody else's 12-bit approach, so it has a latitude of about 12 stops. W00t!

I suspect the RED camera is a whole lotta hype, but I'll hold my judgment until it's fully rolled out (with all accessories, widely available etc.) tested by lots of people and reviewed accordingly.

As for the F23, it has full 4:4:4, and the highest rez is the blah de blah 1080 (snore), but get this: it has 14-bit capture, which definitely makes me curious about its latitude. I fully intend to badger the Band Pro folks on this, as well as about lenses/depth of field/variable frame rate (I'm not so hopeful about that last one), we'll see what happens.

In case you haven't seen this, I strongly recommend the downloadable chart at http://www.hdcompare.com/Cameras.htm. It doesn't mention the D-20's belated 'upgrade' next year, but it's otherwise pretty impressively comprehensive.

. . . .

Geekily yours,
Astrid

_____


Ladies and gentlemen, the smackdown has commenced. If you'd like the join the fray, e-mail/comment away!

Monday, November 5, 2007

tales from the drafts folder

It's a curious thing, going through my e-mail drafts folder; it's like going through a time capsule of things I meant to act upon, things never finished, or perhaps things finished later and yet the older versions remained undeleted. All very curious. Here are some gems I unearthed today:

Dec 12, 2005, to a gal in Chicago
P.S. I love going to museums by myself! I like to think it makes me seem mysterious. Next time you go, break out some serious eyeliner (artfully smudged), pile your hair up and wear something asymmetrical. As you gaze at various works, strike artful poses and look doleful. This never fails to secretly cheer me up, and it sometimes gets the attention of various indie boys who may be hanging around....

May 18, 2006, from overheardinnewyork.com
How About Gefilte Fish and a Halogen
Guy #1: So what should we get him for his birthday?
Guy #2: I don't know....what about a menorah?
Guy #1: What? But it's not Hannukah.
Guy #2: Yeah, but he's Jewish. And his room is dark.
--Union Square

May 19, 2006, from overheardinnewyork.com
Say Cheese, Chucky
Mom taking photos of son: Smile, sweetie.
[click click]
Mom: Smile from within, honey.
[click click]
Mom: Smiling from within means smile like you're happy on the inside.
[click click]
Mom: Okay, not that much.
--Prospect Park

July 12, 2007
Yung Joc featuring Gorilla Zoe - Coffee Shop
I like hip hop like I like my humans: brash, silly, self-aware, smart, and tons of style to spare.

Sesame Street -- How Crayons Are Made
A commenter on YouTube called the music "synth-baroque," and I agree. Synth-baroque = awesome, and this is one of my all-time favorite Sesame Street shorts.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

a sense of purpose

So, I haven't been updating, because I was too busy having a life. More specifically, my parents were in town, which was a lot of fun, and I just got back from dropping them off at the airport. My parents are always very adamant about taking early flights, much to my great annoyance. But I love my family, so I do it anyway, whining all the way so that they know how much I care and am willing to sacrifice for them.

Also: it's amazing to me that other people are awake at such an ungodly hour on a Saturday. When I pulled into my garage, you know what I saw? A guy sticking mountain bikes into his car! At 6:30 on a Saturday morning! What on earth would possess a person to do such a thing?

And there was another guy, further up the sidewalk, who was walking his dog. This I understand rather better—there's no arguing with your dog at 6:30 in the morning. Still, this is why, when people ask me if I'm a cat person or a dog person, I generally say "Neither, I am a turtle person." And it is the truth. Because, you see, a turtle would never wake you up at 6:30 in the morning, imploring you (using drool if necessary) to take them outside for pooping purposes. Also, turtles have more personality than most people give them credit for, I'm not violently allergic to them, and they don't mind if you paint their shells with nail polish when you're bored.

And I just have to say, for the record, that I am thrilled beyond belief that I could start off my Saturday morning with the phrase "pooping purposes." I feel this has earned me the right to go back to bed for a bit. Good morning.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

happenings

Wow, busy day -- saw several people, the movie "Elizabeth: the Golden Age" (worth seeing, but not worth going to see), the inside of an automatic car wash, and the inside of IKEA for exactly 18 minutes because of some emergency furniture shopping. Phew.

I also had my first-ever root beer float, and (random but true, I swear) I saw some pineapple upside-down cake today at a cafe I hadn't visited in months.

And very shortly, I'll be hanging out with my family, who's coming into town for the week. Should be groovy. Even if it means putting together two red Stefan chairs tomorrow afternoon, sigh.

Also: am I the only one who stupidly got my car washed earlier today, only to have the activity rendered pointless by the rain tonight? Grr, argh, gnashing of teeth, blah blah. Damn, I'm even too tired to properly gnash my teeth. Talk amongst yourselves, 'kay? 'Kay.

Good night. Smooches.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday linkyloo - 12 Oct 2007


Dark Roasted Blend: Abandoned Tunnels & Vast Underground Space my favorite is the last one, a Japanese installation to handle rainwater overflow. If I could shoot a movie there, I'd be ecstatic. SO gorgeous!


The Onion News Network: African-American Boycott of L.L. Bean Enters 80th Year This made me scratch my head in genuine wonderment; why DO black folks eschew the Bean? Curiouser and curiouser.

deputydog: an incredibly green roof I love when architecture is literally green -- why does Japan get all the fun?

Nick Carr for The Guardian: Sometimes you just need some white space away from the pixel bling I don't know about WHITE space, exactly -- what about pink space? Orange space? -- but I agree that sites are far too cluttered. And don't even get me started on the evil uses of Flash....

Ultimate Holography via Coilhouse via Warren Ellis
If you have never seen a hologram before, then you will never understand the near-orgasm I had when I found this site. Oh. My. Good. God. I would give almost anything for the Orangina hologram + lighting setup at the bottom of the page.

Sutherland Sisters via Neatorama The site is a design fiasco, but the sisters' hair is staggering. How could they walk around without getting snagged on doorknobs and so forth? Also, didn't it make their heads heavy? Gosh.

indexed: Interesting people are interested. Obvious, but very well-put.

Curious Expeditions: Miracle Beard via Neatorama Ah, Wilgefortis, we never knew ye. You have to admit, though, getting out of an arranged marriage by growing a beard is an interesting way to go, especially if you're a woman.

Inventor Spot: World's Weirdest Spa Baths? Chicken Soup and More I seem to say "Why does Japan get all the fun?" a lot, and for good reason.

Reuters: Lipstick contain lead, consumer group says No wonder women are crazy! Gee whiz. Excuse me while I smear berries on my lips instead, which, now that I think about it, sounds rather tasty.



Thursday, October 11, 2007

my short story -- better than Madonna's

I read a couple of Madonna's picture books yesterday, and you know what? I'm not a giant fan, to put it mildly. I find them sentimental, and, worse still, they even leave out crucial plot points here and there. Drives me batty.

The way I figure it, I can write a better story than Madonna, no problem. Here goes my first-ever attempt, which came to me as I was drifting asleep yesterday—let me know what you think:

Once Upon a Time, by Astrid Phillips

Once upon a time, there was a Once upon a Time. Once looked like an orange crow, but he couldn't fly very well; Time looked like a lavender rhinoceros with gold lightning bolts on her sides, and she could fly marvelously. Once sat comfortably upon Time as they traveled, because it would have been ridiculously uncomfortable the other way around. Time's job was simply to keep moving, or else humanity would freeze in place and nothing would ever get done. Once's job was to make Time pause every so often to savor a rare moment of human greatness. They were very good friends, always moving magically and invisibly throughout the world so quickly by human standards that, if we could see them, it would have looked like they were everywhere at the same time, which of course they weren't; time doesn't move the same way for Time and Once the way it seems to move for us.

No one paid them to do their jobs—Once and Time just really enjoyed doing what they did, drinking in the view and helping the world go 'round. They'd had these jobs for as long as they could remember, and neither one could ever imagine doing anything else. This all worked out more or less okay, but after a while Once had to lodge a complaint with Time.

"Hey," Once asked as Time crawled through an accountancy class in Nebraska, "why do you always rush through the good stuff, and dawdle through the boring stuff? Here we are, crawling through an accountancy class in Nebraska, when we could be tearing like the wind through this, and dawdling instead through an exciting birthday party on a yacht off the shores of Costa Rica, with dancing girls and fireworks and pineapple upside-down cake and everything. What's the big idea?"

Time sighed quietly; she didn't want to wake up the accounting students who were napping in the back. "Oh, Once," she said, "you're always about The Big Moment, the pivot of someone's life, the extravaganza which will never be repeated. What's wrong with savoring the dull moments which fill up the the rest of people's lives, making them more human with every second? I don't know about you, but I get tired of being magical, sometimes; it's the ordinary which fascinates me, since I will never be ordinary myself."

Once sighed back. "I'm so bored, I could stab my eyes out with a fork, if only I had opposable thumbs. I don't even know why I bothered coming here with you."

Time giggled. "It's my girlish charm," she said. "That, and I promised you a root beer float later." Which was true; they paused humanity every so often to enjoy root beer floats at their magical neighborhood diner, which was owned and run by magical triplets named Past, Present and Future. Past remembered the best recipes, Present was a speedy cook who had things ready just as you showed up, and Future always knew when you'd show up and warned Present accordingly. Future was also supposed to be in charge of cleaning up the kitchen, which was actually a terrible idea, since Future was always saying he'd do it later. This made Present a little crabby, since he'd end up cleaning the kitchen himself while Future made millions in the human stock market from his laptop. Past was always too distracted with reminiscing about recipes to pay attention to any of this.

Time and Once breezed into the diner after their class and sat at the best booth, which was in the back, in a shaft of golden sunlight no matter what time of day or night it happened to be. Before their bottoms even hit the benches, Present set their root beer floats down on the table. Once's had a sparkler in it.

"Future said you'd want a little cheering up," Present explained. "What's wrong?"

"Oh, it's just Time. She always lingers with the boring stuff, and rushes me through my once-in-a-lifetime events, so I never really get to enjoy my work," Once groused, taking a spoonful of ice cream from his float. "Hey, this really hits the spot. Thanks for the sparkler."

"Sure thing," said Present. "So, Time, why not cut Once some slack and dawdle at more parties? Hang out longer at amazing concerts. Maybe linger more around people when they're falling in love, give them more time together. Live in the now, y'know?"

Time sipped her root beer delicately through her straw, then paused to answer. "As I told Once, being magical gets predictable after a while, while ordinariness fascinates me since I'll never be ordinary. And besides, it's the long, draggy parts of life which make everyone appreciate the magical moments more when they happen. It's all about contrast, right?" She went back to sipping.

"What a bunch of baloney!" Once retorted.

"Ooh, I like baloney," said Past, sitting behind the counter with a notepad and a pen, looking dreamy. "Grandma made the best casserole with it, back when we were kids—"

"Never mind," said Time. "Look, Once and I could swap places for a day and Learn A Lesson. Or maybe Once could get his day in the sun, so to speak, and I could become more indulgent forevermore. Hey, maybe we could take over the diner, and send Past, Present and Future out to do our former jobs to Reveal Something Deep about the Universe. Point is, all of these things have happened, are happening, and will happen, only in other dimensions. So why bother our heads about the version of the story we're living right now? Our current system seems to work, and carries with it some poetic aspects."

Once gaped at Time.

"Whoa," he said. "Now my brain hurts. How do you know about this other stuff?"

"I accidentally received a letter in the mail for the wrong Time," Time shrugged. "Very odd. I hadn't realized our postal service also serves other dimensions, but so it goes."

"Gosh," said Once, plumping up his feathers and looking pleased. "I didn't know there were other versions of me running around, having crazy adventures. Well, crazier than mine. If only I could meet my other me versions sometime."

Future poked his head out of the kitchen. "Maybe someday all of our dimensional versions will figure out how to get our paths to cross at a big ol' picnic. Wouldn't that be great?"

Past looked up from his notepad, confused. "Don't you already know whether it'll happen or not?"

"I hate ruining surprises," Future winked.

Present perked up. "Hey, let's have a picnic right now!"

And so they all went to a gorgeous park and picnicked, with Once and Time taking the rest of their root beer floats to go. Afterwards, when Past, Present, and Future went home, Time and Once went on the swings—gently, to go easy on their full stomachs—and watched the sun set. Just to be nice, Time lingered.

"Thanks, Time," Once sighed. "You're really the best pal anyone could have."

"Nobody else has ever told me that," Time answered sadly. She looked at Once and smiled. "Thanks."

"Anytime," said Once. "Except I guess not just any Time. Aw, you know what I mean."

Time knew exactly what Once meant. It was moments like this that Once made truly memorable.

The sunset was spectacular.

Thursday linkyloo - 11 Oct 2007


Beirut - "In the Mausoleum" from the album The Flying Cup Club - incredible energy. How did they cram so many people into one tiny apartment?

via Neatorama
The best classroom love note ever. Sigh.


Coffee Art Gone Bad via Dark Roasted Blend I loves me some scary espresso foam.

Neatorama: The Weirdest Insects in the World The beetles in particular really, really freak me out.

Ze Frank: Let's Join a Social Network Built for Two [song] All sorts of heartwarming, and a fun anthem for our Web 2.0 age.

Boing Boing: Crashed drug plane owned by US government? Can't say I'm surprised, but...hoo boy.

indexed: Argh Pirates or rap videos? Love it. SO true.

BBC News: Doctors save man with vodka drip sent by my pal James (big surprise). Pretty nifty approach, though.

Speaking of Faith: Animals at Play with Stuart Brown and Norbert Rosing via Neatorama A hungry polar bear playing with huskies instead of devouring them! Only imagine! Too adorable to be believed.

Three Belgian Autochromists via Dark Roasted Blend The colors are a joy, very ethereal indeed.

belated Wednesday linkyloo - 10 Oct 2007



Glad I'm not this kid.


LOLCat Bible Translation Project Should I be ashamed that I love this? Nah.

ThinkGeek: Wi-Fi Detector Shirt You know I love textiles which light up, right? RIGHT? Yeah. And this one is INTERACTIVE, W00T YEAH. Pretty and practical, all sorts of neato.

Violent Acres: I'm Tired of Bulimia Being the New Black I agree completely.

Times Online: The day the music industry died None of this is a big surprise, although I find it interesting that CDs are now considered exclusively for free PR at this point, solely meant to promote a concert. Interesting business approach.

ebay.com: Feedback profile for tryork5ifp Who IS this guy, and why are people writing these sorts of comments? Very intriguing indeed.

Microsoft.com: The ten worst presentation moments Cringingly hilarious.

Fornasetti.com Piero Fornasetti created useful objets of staggering beauty. The guy oozed wit, whimsy, and beauty the way the rest of us breathe.

guy gets arrested for feeding the homeless What a crock. I can't believe Orlando, Florida is this...ecchh.

Mango Beta Learn a new language online! My friend Paul swears by this.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Tuesday linkyloo - 09 October 2007

PhysOrg.com: US Scientist heralds 'artificial life' breakthrough and The Guardian: I am creating artificial life, declares US gene pioneer Potentially great, and potentially horrifying. If only we could better anticipate the pros and cons of technology, sigh. And if only I could read minds and fly and be invisible. Craig Venter fascinates me.

Inventor Spot: The Secret Life of Sunscreens Wait, cosmetics with nanoparticles can potentially be absorbed into our bloodstream and breakdown our (thanks to Venter) Frankenstein DNA? OH MY GOD. We're all going to evolve into something like this:


/Film: Sundance Horror Movie Teeth Finally Unleashed It took us how long as a human race to cook up a film so unabashedly Freudian? I LOVE THIS. I'm not generally a big horror fan, but the irate feminist within me loves this to bits.

Question: Should the protagonist see a gynecologist? Or a dentist?

Speaking of altering reproductive elements, here's a slightly more palatable approach:


Papelera 21: Huevos Tallados Breathtaking.

The existential rollercoaster I'm apparently on makes this Adams article apropos:

The Dilbert Blog: On the Other Hand Okay, if you're not subscribed to Scott Adams's blog by now, you're clearly deranged. Anyway, I agree with absolutely every word in this; I've always been able to see multiple sides to everything without being schizophrenic (as far as I know), so...yeah. Rockin'. Speaking of seeing multiple sides to everything,

/Film: USA Network's "Thank You For Smoking" TV Series Oh, lordy, I just love this movie, I can't wait to see this as a show! Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Then again, who could top Aaron Eckhart?

Here's a terrific ensemble cast:


the presidents on Mt. Rushmore sing "Teddy Bears' Picnic This is SO ME, I'm going nuts. I especially love when the Death Star, 101 dalmations, an Air France plane and Gandhi make an appearance.

And now for some more silliness, albeit with some dark wit behind it:


From Mitchell and Webb -- had me laughing an unsightly amount. Clothes really can speak volumes about our intentions.

And now onto some pointlessly beautiful art, using WWII-era technology:

The Wall Street Journal: One Man's Bid to Save Morse Code Intriguingly enough, the journalist for this article has the same name as my dad. But back to the point at hand: Morse code is loads of fun, and I use to be a whizbang dittybopper myself back in eighth grade (no lie), but I still don't feel this is really necessary. Then again, since when is true art 'necessary'? Discuss.

Speaking of gloriously unnecessary art which knocks my socks off:


This color palette matches the inside of my brain. Marvelous.

Monday, October 8, 2007

existential Monday linkyloo - 08 Oct 2007


Unabashedly earnest and uplifting. Sometimes it's nice to take a vacation from irony for a moment.

Speaking of being men and not machines:

The New York Sun: Aren't We All Just Replicants on the Inside? I went to see Blade Runner yesterday on the big screen, and...wow. I've always loved the dark majesty of this film and its premise, and it's terrific to see it on the big screen again. Left me all angst-ridden, existential and peevish, but it really made me appreciate sunlight afterwards. The late lunch/early dinner afterwards with my pal Matt helped, too.

Lesson: don't do anything involving retrofuturistic dystopias, unless there will be sunshine and lunch with good people afterwards.

And since we're on the topic of separating mind from body:


Ron Mueck: mask II (2001)
Oh, Mueck. Love him, love him, love him.

But, lest we forget the body entirely:

CNN.com/technology: Microsoft open personal health record site Great idea in theory, rotten idea in practice. Our lives are so easily hackable, it's pretty ridiculous.

While we're at it:

Historical Anatomies on the Web Your one-stop resource for human anatomy, yessir!

Let's fill those picturesque lungs with something fresh for a change:

Inventor Spot: Planning a Visit (to the Forests?!) of Hong Kong Er, "renaturalization"? Despite the Orwellian language, this sounds truly terrific. I love the idea of tree towers eclipsing skyscrapers.

And to decorate the outside of our lung regions:


ThinkGeek: The ThinkGeek 8-bit Tie Nice 'n' geeky, and totally adorable.

Speaking of ironic techy-ness:




That's how I like my software: remixed.

Still sort of on the topic:

Inventor Spot: Japan's InfoBar 2 Outclasses Apple iPhone Wow, this phone really does put the iPhone to shame. Our ignorance is Apple's profit.

Veering from gadgets to other wacky science/tech:

Improbable Research: Winners of the Ig Nobel Prize Ooh, I just love when science and irreverence mix! It's always a good crop each year.

Well, that was a pleasant and mildly whimsical jaunt, indeed. Happy Monday.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Sunday linkyloo - 07 Oct 2007

Neatorama: Reverse Graffiti Video Clip Everything in me loves this. LOVES. THIS. Environmentally responsible, civically minded, incredibly artistic, and yet still sticking it to The Man! Perfection.

Wired: Peter Thiel Explains How to Invest in the Singularity We're all gonna be stinking rich, or we're all gonna die. Happy Sunday!

Rough Type: Sharecropping the long tail Exploitation of the masses for the profit of the few! Like that's never happened before. Oh, but wait, now it's happening with blogging and videos of crotch injuries. Huh.

New York Magazine: Is It Now Acceptable to Say 'Fuck' in the Office? via Obscure Store and Reading Room Fuck yeah!

the nonist: Earth Noir As a woman obsessed with colors, I found this brief musing most intriguing. Terrific food for thought, although, given the brevity of the entry, more like an excellent canape for thought.

The Dilbert Blog: The Future of Newspapers Scott Adams writes the way I think, and I agree with him on this as well. His Venetian scroll idea is pretty intriguing, too.

Midwest Teen Sex Show: Homosexuality in High School Part 1 There's no part 2 yet, but this should tide you over long enough. "And remember, homosexuality is a choice...like cancer!" I really love the intelligence, candor and wit of this show.

Dark Roasted Blend: US Navy Enters the Music Business I shouldn't be so easily amused by these silly videos, but I am. There are also pics of Cinque Terre villages which are BREATHTAKING, and mostly unrelated to the US Navy.

Look Around You: Brain via Eye of the Goof Morbidly fantastic fun, and terribly Brit.

Human League: Love Action (I Believe In Love) Wow, they really put that make-up on with a spatula, huh? And that's just the guys.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Saturday linkyloo - 06 Oct 2007


love on the edge Yowza.

MIT - On the Effectiveness of Aluminum Foil Helmets: An Empirical Study Hilarious, and also handy.

placeboKatz: Do not the most moving moments of our lives find us without words? Did you know that Michael Jackson ripped off his moonwalk from Marcel Marceau? Go read this for more such nuggets o' interest about the world's most famous mime.

Equator: The History Tablecloth SO cool! I'd love to have this tablecloth, mainly because I'm a sucker for incorporating beautiful lighting in the most unexpected of places, especially if it's interactive.

Angry Retail: Celebrity Weighing Scales Just hilarious. Apparently, Prince weighs less than Oliver Twist, but more than Gary Coleman.

deputydog: 7 amazing holes Sounds obscene, but it's actually just really jaw-dropping geological formations (with one or two man-made ones in there to throw you off). Their size really scrambles your brains.

Rough Type: Transacting Friendship All about how our friendships have become 'bureaucratized' through Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, etc. I completely agree - but you have to admit, it's handy for making announcements about events and stuff.

TIME: The Disease of the Future Ad-hocracies. Yeatsian gloom. All because technology is accelerating faster than the rate at which we can adjust. Daily culture shock, predicted by an article from 1970, which I find awesome.

Damn Interesting -- Lake Peigneur: The Swirling Vortex of Doom I LOVE stories like this, where giant chunks of our planet get swallowed up without warning, and no lives were lost in the process. Fun for the whole family! Also, you can't really argue with the awesomeness of a title like "Swirling Vortex of Doom". Rock on.

Chicago Sun-Times: Stop me if you've heard this one I love the idea of mixing stop signs with humor, I only wish folks had thought of this earlier.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Friday linkyloo, 05 Oct 2007

Talking Heads: This Must Be The Place I just watched Wall Street, and now I'm in a Talking Heads state of mind. Also, did you know that Stewart Copeland did the score for the film? And did you know that Copeland's dad worked for the CIA, and his mom was an archaeologist? And did you know that Copeland grew up in Egypt and Lebanon, speaking fluent Arabic? Oh, IMDb, I love you.

Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians: What I Am Every girl in my high school looked like Edie Brickell, and this was 1990 through 1995. Interesting. Also, is it just me, or does Edie look a little...under the influence?

Paula Abdul: (It's Just) The Way That You Love Me This represents everything right about the late 90s to me. Which wasn't much, to be honest, but it's all in this video. Whew. Makes me want to wear a bajillion pearls and pointy heels, and candy-apple-red lipstick.

pic via Dark Roasted Blend Why oh WHY can't NASA release more photos like this? I totally want one just like it, only with my own family.

Vertical Soccer Advertising at its finest. But why does Tokyo get all the fun?

The Dilbert Blog: Mild Super Power Scott Adams's writing very nearly appeals to me even more than his Dilbert strip at this point. SO terrific.

chicagotribune.com: Principal defends hugging crackdown Wow, if only this problem had existed in my high school, I think we all would've been a tad less surly.

The Click Five - Jenny Should I be embarrassed that I really like this song? Should I be further embarrassed that I really like this video, with the band members mugging adorably for the camera in the close-ups etc.? Sigh.

Blur - Parklife Damon Albarn, in 1994, was hottt. Good gravy. And why can't my life look like this video? I already have the rainbow umbrella, which I suppose is a decent start. Side note: the production design reminds me of that on "Pushing Daisies." Most excellent.

Christopher Farah - Palestinians on the Brink: Don't Count Out Hamas - Politics on the Huffington Post To quote: "Many modern breeds of nationalism started out, in large part, as responses to enemies or outside forces, but that makes them no less legitimate now. There would have been no American revolution without a repressive Britain to revolt against. Modern Zionism is in large part a European phenomenon, a reaction to European Ant[i]-Semitism . . . . there's no shame that Palestinian nationalism has its roots in opposition to Israel. If anything, it's logical. But like those other nationalisms, Palestinian nationalism does need to evolve beyond a reactionary stage, or it will not be able to thrive, or even survive." Well said, Mr. Farah, well said.

belated Thursday linkyloo, 04 Oct 2007

I run into so many wonderful things, I can't just post five links and call it a day. So I'm bumping it up to ten -- Happy October!

Indian Thriller with English Lyrics This made me laugh so hard I cried. Really: I cried. It's that hilarious.

In Between Days, shot by fellow USC alumna Sarah Levy, is premiering this weekend! Whoo! Sarah is a terrific person and a great DP, go watch this now and give it a good opening weekend. Nownownow. I think it's playing at a couple of Laemmle Theaters (Pasadena and Beverly Hills), and it's currently scheduled to run through Halloween.

slightlywarped.com's Amazing Images: Pictures in Stereo via my friend Matt Gives me a case of vertigo, but it's still a fun visual effect.

Laurel & Hardy, Way Out West: Soft Shoe Shuffle I mentioned soft shoe shuffles to a friend of mine, decided to Google it, and found this gem. The music is phenomenal, too.

Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily: Warner's Robinov Bitchslaps Film Women Horrifying. Just horrifying. Misogyny will never die.

Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily: Gloria Allred Slaps Back Warner's Robinov And the struggle continues! Boycott, indeed.

Do What Now?: Now here's an honest mechanic Amusing snarkiness aside, I think this ad is beautiful. I really love how the glowing oval of the text actually seems to be illuminating the mechanic. SO elegant!

Rough Type: Nicholas Carr's Blog - Neurotic Bots Rule Very intriguing. I feel vaguely vindicated as a neurotic person.

placeboKatz: New York - 50 years ago The greatest snapshot of New York ever. No question.

waiterrant.net: Right Wing Nut Jobs & Surrender Monkeys Warmed the cockles of my heart. Read up if you're a dog lover, it'll make your day.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Wednesday linkyloo

I'll be doing video game testing at USC this afternoon, joining the brave new world blah blah. Should be unboring.

Stencil Revolution: Bleach on fabric tutorial via Boing Boing Just beautiful! And you can truly do it yourself.

Hay Bales by Ryan McGinnis A gorgeously ominous picture of a tornado. And a hay bale. Trust me, it's dramatic and breathtaking and deserves to be a Thomas Hart Benton painting.

untitled photo Sneakers with no wearers, only the reflections have remained intact -- just wonderful. Did I mention I love whimsical-yet-ominous photos? Yeah.

Terrific tire-swing diagram of corporate madness Pretty much says it all. Adorable, sleek, darkly informative, and wickedly funny.

Rough Type: Corpse-generated content Macabre yet practical. The final sentence made me chortle out loud for a good five minutes afterwards.

belated Tuesday linkyloo

Ever spend 15.5 consecutive hours with somebody you just met, simply because they were worth it? I had a terrific Tuesday, thank you for asking.

Onwards and upwards:

BBC News: Big Brother is watching us all It's really, really happening. Urk.

funcollector.com: daredevils doing what they do best Just glorious!

The Postmarks - Goodbye Adorably peppy, for when you need to distract yourself from Big Brother.

Blur: The Universal Takes A Clockwork Orange and makes it, well, pretty. And sweet.

Physorg.com: Printing in 3-D Revolutionary, in a "Today's the day we start living in an episode of Star Trek" kind of way. YES! ::air guitar::

Monday, October 1, 2007

Monday linkyloo

Happy first of October! Back when I lived in Chatham, NJ, I had a math teacher in seventh grade named Mrs. Licato who made a pretty big impression on me. Amongst other pearls of wisdom, she told us that on the morning of every first of the month, we should chant "Bunny bunny, bunny bunny, bunny bunny," and then make a wish, all before getting out of bed or speaking to another person. Then the wish would presumably come true. I did this for years, which just goes to show how desperate I was for the world to be that easily magical. And, by the end of every month, my wish would entirely fail to be realized. Darn that Mrs. Licato!

She was a terrific math teacher, though.


The Daily Journal: Car wreck saves choking driver's life Crazygreat.

The New York Sun: Students Know Less After 4 College Years Sadly, this doesn't surprise me in the least. I think it probably applies to me, too.

Slate.com: Alan Greenspan discovers that human beings are...irrational! To quote Greenspan: "[T]he human race, no matter how one defines it, is not smart enough to do better." Most interesting, and again, hardly surprising.

International Herald Tribune: In the shadow of horror, SS guardians frolic A sizable chunk of my family perished in the camps, and the ability of the SS to compartmentalize their jobs in their lives like this is something I've discussed with my parents quite a bit. Most interesting.

The New Yorker: Cool for School Former members of Blue Man Group have started their own nursery school, and it. totally. rocks.

belated Sunday linkyloo

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.


Tetris
, played by somebody who's so good they're UNREAL. Assuming this is real, of course.

fullyramblomatic.com: This Aussie guy is fantastically funny, and he does video gaming reviews called Zero Punctuation. Prepare to be greatly amused.

BLDGBLOG: Hello. Welcome to my squash cave. via warrenellis.com. This sounds simultaneously cool and horrifying. I think having an underground complex larger than your actual house is a sign that you officially have too much money. And should be giving it to me instead.

Gloria Steinem: A Modest Proposal Prick flick! Hee! So true.

SLUT -- Streetcar's unfortunate acronym seems here to stay Glad to hear it. I loves me some tasteless acronyms.

belated Saturday linkyloo

More weekend fabulosity.

Wikipedia: Dyson sphere So, I'm sure you know what a Dyson sphere/ring/swarm/shell is, but I think it bears a refresher. It's such an elegant idea.

Beyond batteries: Storing power in a sheet of paper I can't wait to have my business card actually display my three-minute reel, on the paper.

Barry Bonds' HR Record Tainted by Elbow 'Armor'? Wow, did you know about this? How did his elbow contraption make it past everyone? The days of non-cyborg sports seem to be numbered. I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see Transformers playing croquet.

NYT: An Opportunity for Wall St. in China's Surveillance Boom Ah, fascism and corporatism meet again.

Morissey Dance by Toothpaste for Dinner Oh, wow, this makes me feel like it's 1995 all over again, what with the bad MIDI and .gifs. Love it!

belated Friday linkyloo

So, I was very busily having an awesome weekend, hence my belated postings. Have fun!

Kodak "Winds of Change" AIO Printers More brilliance. I quote: "SWEET MABEL, I ALMOST LOST CONSCIOUSNESS."

Shrinking kilogram bewilders physicists This bewilders me, too. Wait, does this mean we all weigh less now? [cue rolling of eyes]

The gamma-ray annihilation lasers are coming! via Boing Boing Too nifty. And scary. Did I mention nifty?

Reason Magazine - Will Super Smart Artificial Intelligences Keep Humans Around As Pets? via Disinformation. Let us bow to our demon robot overlords.

Rough Type: A very silly report on "fair use" Nicholas Carr is rapidly becoming one of my favorite skeptics. I'm all for fair use, but not when the hype is inflated to outrageous proportions.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thursday linkyloo

jwz - I, for one, welcome our new regular hexahedron-headed overlords I love this outfit. Love it. And you know I'd wear it, too.

Museum of Hoaxes: Floating Barn Eerie, and beautiful.

CNNMoney.com: social security short $13 trillion Makes me SO proud to be an American. We're officially going to hell in a handbasket.

unsecureflight.com: Read Your Own DHS Travel Dossier My question is, does requesting to see your file actually flag you as 'un-American, possible terrorist'?

stuff.co.nz: Police wiki lets you write the law Neat idea, allowing citizens to rewrite local laws online! Let's see if it actually works.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dr. Randy Pausch, Dream Factory on Legs

Neatorama: The Last Lecture This is my gift to you, dear (jaded) reader.

Pausch is a professor at Carnegie Mellon who has changed so many people's lives for the better, it's just staggering. And he's hilarious and ridiculously likable and dealing with pancreatic cancer. Instead of dwelling on the pathos of his situation, though, he gives an hour-and-a-half-long lecture about his childhood dreams, and about the fantastic twists and turns in his life which enabled him to realize those dreams. And then he talks about bringing other people's dreams to life, in terms of virtual reality and gaming and so forth (his areas of expertise). Just a ridiculous amount of incredibleness in one person.

I guess what's really stuck with me since I last watched his lecture a few days ago is his sense of perspective. This guy has clarity like you wouldn't believe, his heart's in the right place, and he makes things happen. He's really become my role model, in addition to my parents.

This isn't my typical linkyloo; this guy's standing alone in his own entry, because he really deserves all your attention. If you don't come away from his lecture a changed human, then...I don't know what. You probably drown kittens for fun, punch little old ladies, and rip out the final pages of murder mysteries in bookstores.

If you want to find out more about him, check out his site. He's all "Pshaw, I'm nuthin' special," but don't let him fool you. He's wily that way.

Wednesday linkyloo

Bob Dylan, Times Magazine Interview Pretentious douchebaggery is timeless.

Foreign Policy: End of the Line This is an incredible magazine, and this particular photo essay about shipyard salvage is fascinating.

The Sundays - Here's Where The Story Ends SUCH a great, lilting little ditty, perfect for driving through the countryside on a dreamy...Sunday.

Museum of Hoaxes: The Top 20 Most Bizarre Experiments of All Time Humans are weird, and not always in a good way. Definitely a fun read.

International Herald Tribune -- Next step in pirating: Faking a company Horrifying. Is nothing sacred?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sea of Dreams

My favorite cinematography instructor from USC, Chris Chomyn, shot a film for a great guy and fellow alumnus of mine, Pepe Ochoa, and it's showing in quite a few theaters, perhaps in one near you (especially if you're in LA). It's called "Sea of Dreams," and I do recommend you see it -- it's magical realism with lots of sultry pizzazz, stars ridiculously gorgeous people with terrific screen presence, manages to make the ocean as palpable a character as the humans (which is pretty dang awesome), and both Pepe and Chris should be proud of themselves to the point of bursting.

I saw it at CineGear a few months ago, and found it beautiful, definitely go see it and support this teensy indie movie with hefty atmosphere and big passions! And, of course, it has lots of shots of beautiful people gazing at the horizon wistfully as the wind tousles their hair in various inviting ways...which is surprisingly not as cheesy as it sounds. Like I said, Chris and Pepe are talented that way.

My only caveat: the central female character isn't so much a three-dimensional human being as a symbol of Femininity (yes, with a capital F), or so it seems to me. This peeved me initially, since it seems like such a flat, inconsiderate, male perspective, but since the story overall is clearly a parable and has lots of other, similarly iconic figures in it, I've decided to let this sticky point slide. Aside from my righteous feminist indignation, this film is actually a wonderfully haunting view of Love (captial L, of course), and I'd happily go see it again with anyone who hasn't had the pleasure yet.

Go! See it! Do it now!
The Astrid has spoken.

Tuesday linkyloo

KT Tunstall: Suddenly I See I love when people mix with models and puppetry. Big surprise, huh? This song makes me want to jump on my bed as I'm belting out the words, or at least perch in a tree with a giant guitar and frighten passersby.

Tom Petty: I Won't Back Down One of the best anthems ever. I consider Tom Petty's work timeless, and on a human scale. I'm not sure what that means, but it feels right.

kollaboration.org: robot dance I wish, I wish, I WISH I could dance robotically. This will most likely never happen, but I can sure admire this from afar.

Kodak - Winds of Change HOW THE HELL DID I MISS THIS? THIS IS AWESOME. "They're turning the schmaltz back up to 11!" BOO YA.

Zazoo Condoms Best 'please use prophylactics' campaign I've ever seen in my life. Granted, I haven't seen many others, but...you know.... This rocks.

Monday, September 24, 2007

my Sunday shoot

So, yesterday I had a shoot at the home of the very good-natured John Faratzis, which was essentially a scene for the actors' reels, and was only supposed to be good for a little experience and some pocket change on my end. That, plus it was fun to play with John's nine Emmys sitting on his mantelpiece from his producing work on the Super Bowl and the Olympics ("I'd like to thank my aromatherapist for making this possible", cue air kiss). To be honest, I wasn't really expecting much from this shoot. At least there was a fun fight scene, complete with breakaway vases, fake blood, and catty woman-on-woman combat, and that was all before lunch. Did I ever mention how much I enjoy my job? Yeehay.

Still, things took a turn for the unexpected in the afternoon, and in the best possible way. There was a scene between two characters who were estranged lovers still madly in love with each other, but also very bitter about each other, and one of them was dying from a bullet wound in her gut. Since it all promised to be wistful and arty, I decided (along with the director) to block (meaning 'to physically set up') the scene with a window glowing behind the two people, and let them be almost silhouetted against the sunlight flooding in. All very nicely atmospheric and anime-ish, but again, I wasn't expecting much.

This was just the full rehearsal -- blood was oozing, sunlight was glowing, the guy looked very dapper in his suit, they each had a gun, people were gabbing in the living room, the roar of airplanes wafted through the open windows, and the camera wasn't rolling yet. I'd seen this all before, blah de blah blah. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Until the actors looked each other in the eye and started the scene.

Have you ever been transfixed by magic? Like, to the point where you couldn't breathe, and you just couldn't believe what was unfolding before your eyes, and you were terrified something would shatter the spell, and you wouldn't trade the experience for all the world?

It was a little like that, only a thousand times more so. It was Romeo and Juliet on steroids. It was so wickedly beautiful, I thought we were all going to spontaneously combust from the cold heat in that room. It was like the whole universe had contracted to only include these two people, and somehow I was both of them at the same time, and it was gorgeously dangerous. And then, when he gave this dying, loving, gloriously hateful woman the most tender kiss I've ever witnessed in my thirty years of existence, she shot him.

The shock in his eyes was mesmerizing. His eyes never left hers as his life drained away, her arms quietly enfolding his dying flesh which settled into her body, her life slowly dripping away as well, satisfaction and regret flickering through her eyes before they closed forever.

None of this was real, of course -- after all, this IS the movies. Duh. But I almost hiccuped my heart from out of my throat, it was that powerful. And, even more amazingly, they were able to do this scene with the same intensity again and again from different camera angles, nailing it every time. When we wrapped (packed up) the set afterwards, I didn't know what to do with myself. I wanted to run screaming through the streets. I wanted to hug lampposts. I wanted to kick things and blow stuff up and cackle maniacally and explode into a million pieces and then do it all over again.

This is why I wouldn't trade being a filmmaker for anything. For ANYTHING.

These moments are so rare, but when they come, they sear your brain and mark you for life. It's a good kind of pain.

And FYI, the actors were Chad Duell and Semele...something. I don't know how to spell her last name, but I'll try to find out this week. They truly are something to behold. They almost scorched my camera lens, but it was well worth the trouble.

Monday linkyloo

sleepinginmyhead: tobler-oh-yeah! via Boing Boing Toblerone has a hidden bear in its logo? Rockin'!

Inventor Spot: 15 Absolutely Brilliant Billboad Ads...Really They're definitely not kidding, some of these are eye-poppingly wonderful.

Varieties of unreligious Experience: Humanism and the virtue of anxiety via the nonist Very thought-provoking essay on justifying your career in the humanities -- and the comments are just as intriguing/erudite.

Mother Jones -- Black Ops Jungle: The Academy of Military-Industrial-Complex Studies via Boing Boing Ender's Game is alive and well, they just need to throw in some video game sims and it'll be complete! ::shiver::

The Trade Card Place (Victorian trading cards) via Boing Boing via Little Hokum Rag I love these. Why can't we see such illustration gorgeosity in advertising today?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Astrid in crisis, or: now is the autumn of my discontent

Q: I have a shoot in 6 hours, why am I not in bed?

A: Because I am a tortured soul who is addicted to the Internet. TENNIS BALLS OH DANG.

Also, it occurred to me today that I love all the various elements of my life -- particularly friends and career -- it's just that I just wish I had more of each. As in, more time spent with friends, rather than pining for all the awesome people who are out of state or just too busy. As for shooting, I love it, I just wish more worthwhile projects came my way. I'd also love to teach more, but I'm stuck in the part-time ghetto; I worry that committing to a whole semester at a time would get in the way of accepting more shooting gigs.

Should I be marketing myself differently? Should I just be patient and shut up? Or should I switch out of the wild world o' film entirely, and go into something that's still creative, yet slightly less competitive? Should I go into academe full-time? I would consider absolutely ANY field which would draw upon my talents/experience in film, graphic design, web 2.0 savvy, and phenomenal people skills. To clarify that B.S.-sounding last part: I'm outrageously talented at bringing out the best in people, helping them create things they didn't even realize they could do, refining their work, and pushing them to the next level. If you don't believe me, watch my former students' projects, and ask them how they went from clunky to festival-worthy in four weeks. I get very Dead Poet's Society when I'm in front of a room, complete with Robin Williams-grade arm-flailing, irreverence, and hammy overacting, and it actually seems to work on occasion.

In other words, I'm not much as a content provider, but I'm a helluva terrific catalyst. Which, not coincidentally, is also why I'm a terrific cinematographer, humility be damned; it's my job to take somebody's vision and refine it, make it shootable, use lighting and camera composition to turn it into something bigger and better than it was in everyone's heads originally, all while staying true to the story and the director's vision, highlighting the nuances in the actors' performances, and having my crew still like me after grueling 12- to 14-hour shoot days. The past couple of years, I've actually figured out more or less how to nail all of this, and if all the directors I've worked with in that time ever get around to giving me the footage I shot, not that I'm getting peeved about this, I can properly re-edit my reel and show the world. W00t.

Here's the question that's been keeping me up at night lately: How do you get the world to beat a path to your door and say "You're fabulous, and we want you right now to catalyze all sorts of exciting projects, for which you will be remunerated admirably! Also, we will fund travel to exciting climes, and you will get to meet all sorts of lovely, innovative people who won't keep moving away from you or get too busy every time you decide you need them in your life forever"?

I need more exciting projects, a better paycheck, and a sizable group of people who (time and geography willing) can hang out at least once a week. Starting a production company with my friend Dave is great, but it's moving at a glacial pace, alas. I DEMAND ACTION, THRILLS, VERVE, OOMPH, NOVELTY, STABILITY, and EXCELLENT CATERING. AND I DEMAND IT NOW.

Any ideas how? I'm opening the floor to any and all suggestions. Seriously.

In the meantime, enjoy the following musical diversions:

Boards of Canada: ROYGBIV A fan-made video, with "footage from 1980's uk tv adverts." The synergy truly knocks my socks off, although they keep cutting to a blond kid who definitely annoys me after a while.

Kate Bush: Cloudbusting Kate Bush can always be counted on for jolly weirdness -- and is that Donald Sutherland? A heapin' helpin' of awesome.

Goldfrapp: pilots [on a star] If Kate Bush fused with the film Gattaca, the result would be this video. Or something very much like it.

Goldfrapp: Strict Machine This is what the inside of my brain looks like, no joke. It gets even weirder when I fall asleep.

Emiliana Torrini: Easy Pure seduction. Even better than the album version -- this is lightly remixed, gives me chills and makes me want to kiss the whole world in one go. Perfection.

Okay, I'm off to bed. If you're still looking for more, try reading my friend Bekka's blog entry I feel a little invisible sometimes, and you'll get a similar version of what I've just written here. O, restlessness; we hear the mermaids singing, each to each, but they do not sing to us. Arrogant trollops.