Thursday, December 11, 2008

Name that computer game!

So, there was this game. I played it in computer class on an Apple IIe, around 1989 or so, and it took place in the future. I was America's first child president, and I had three choices for veep: another kid, a robot, or a dolphin (we had learned to communicate with dolphins by then). There were various problems I had to solve in the course of my administration; for example, I do believe that the robot population wanted their leader's face carved into Mr. Rushmore, which got the humans all sorts of teed off, and it was up to me to figure out the best solution.

Name this computer game! Please! Because I will go batcrap crazy if I can't figure this one out!

I've already canvassed most of the computer geeks here at work, and they don't know what the eff I'm talking about. Helphelphelp. Thank you.

In the meantime, here's another totally fab game for you to play which I adore:

Enjoy...but not so much that you forget to leave a comment for me about this mysterious kid-President game thingie.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Are you an Astrid Phillips, too?

It's happened again. Twice more:

17 Sep 2008

Hi Astrid !!
Checking to see if this is Astrid Phillips who attended Holy Angels in Aurora, IL ? I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn !! A second reason for my note, we are planning a grade school reunion and need your email address ... Looking forward to connecting ...

01 Dec 2008

Hello Astrid

Did you grow up in port washington?

Just a qwick hello, it has been a long time I hope all is well

Nope, not I. Wrong Astrid. I think I may have to take matters into my own hands -- contact every Astrid Phillips in the U.S., and document each of ourselves in some sort of "Your Guide to Your Local Astrid Phillips" online gallery. That way, if you're ever looking for an Astrid Phillips, you'll be sure not to pick the wrong one.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008

the psychology of the single-word restaurant

I was hanging out with Ashley today, and somehow we got onto the topic of restaurants with one name. "Ever notice," I said, "that restaurants with one name are really pretentious and expensive?" She countered by citing McDonald's, but then I countered her counterexample by saying that it has an apostrophe-S at the end; restaurants whose names have apostrophe-Ss at the end don't count as far as pretention and massive overpricing go, and that includes Applebee's, Bennigan's, and Houlihan's. Those last two especially are all about suggesting that they're run by cheery, ruddy-faced Irish bartenders who want to give you good onion-ring bang for your greasy buck.

"Think about it," I said. "Chili's isn't horrifically expensive, unless you go out on a ledge and get something like fajitas. But if you removed the apostrophe-S, it would become 'Chili,' and then you know it would be all stark and modern and have artisanal chili with pheasant in it in these asymmetrical, hand-made bowls, all very carefully presented." And they'd probably have John Cage on their sound system, or twangy country music if they're being ironic, or music by Mexican bands if they're being ultra-ironic. And the waiters would be wearing white on white, and they'd suggest certain (overpriced) beer pairings with your meal. It would be utterly ridiculous, and a single bowl of chili would cost about $38. Just sayin'.

Obviously, this doesn't apply to gas stations, or else nobody could afford gas. Oh, wait....

I have fanfic?

Who on earth is xxnicknack09xx, and why does he think my parents met at a peace festival? And where did he get the crazy idea that my dad's a fairy -- sorry, 'fae'? And how did I ever get platinum blond hair and violet eyes? Maybe this was all written in honor of another Astrid Phillips, which wouldn't surprise me in the least. Nice to see that xxnicknack09xx's Astrid Phillips is the shortest girl in the school, though, quite the deft touch of realism there.

Friday, October 31, 2008

this makes me so very happy

On a completely unrelated note: over the past week, three different people have told me to stop leaving my purse on the floor, because my money will "run away." And when I've said "Oh, nonsense, I've been saving like mad, and my money's been fine," they've all had the exact same response: "At least if you put your purse higher, it'll give you a fighting chance." Thanks, but I'm fighting for rational thought instead.

Monday, October 27, 2008

wuh wuh wuh

Thanks to my DP friend Mike for pointing my attention to this:

The saddest thing is that there really are many people in the U.S. like this poor lady. How on earth will they continue watching "Jeopardy"? I'm just sayin'.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wassuuup, Obama-style

The following is all thanks to William Gibson:

Remember this?

Now watch this:

I love pop culture when it's transposed into a socially, thingie.

And finally, because they rock:

Happy Sunday.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

if you wanna ride, don't ride the white horse

This photo is by the fantastic Alexander Shinkarenko.

Man, if I could get this poster-sized, I so would. This is AWESOME. I mean, the gal is totally in control and having a blast. The horse doesn't look so happy, but hey, it gets to frolic in the ocean, which I'm assuming is ultimately okay for horses, as long as they haven't eaten for an hour and have taken a refresher course in CPR.

Another thing I find interesting: the gal in the photo isn't wearing much, yet I don't find the image exploitative. Maybe it's because she clearly isn't doing this to look all ooh-la-la, Bringing Sexy Back and what-have-you. No ma'am, she's showing the horse who's boss, and simply wearing the most sensible outfit for the purpose.

I love the power, the dynamism of this moment. And she looks like she totally belongs on that horse, despite whatever its own opinions may be upon the matter.

Can I be this gal when I grow up?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

killing me loudly with his song

I'm about to crawl into bed, happy and full of fine bacon vodka spaghetti -- but before I do, I have to post this.

I first heard this song this morning, on my way to work. Two minutes in, I was already singing along with it, belting out the chorus with all my soul as I hurtled down the 110 freeway. I had no idea the song was by Death Cab for Cutie [trust me, it's a fine figure of a website, nice 'n' retro] until I Googled "i will possess your heart" a few minutes ago this evening. The video is a wisp of a thing, plotwise, but it sure captures a lot emotionally. Not sure how, since watching a beautiful woman walking around the world doing nothing isn't normally my idea of compelling entertainment.

Anyway, they will possess my heart, those dastardly devils of deliciousness known as Death Cab. I feel like such a sell-out trendster now, but it's a good kind of pain.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

products progressing though production progress, bang

I was sitting in training yesterday in order to learn how to use a particular database. Here is a direct quote from the presentation:

"A lifecycle represents a succession of phases or steps at which a product progresses through a production progress."

Because, you know, banging your head against a brick wall can be so goshdarn time-consuming sometimes, and PowerPoint presentations offer greater efficiency for achieving the same result.

SEE Are You Passionate About Utilizing Your Core Competencies To Effect Strategic Outcomes?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

no, the OTHER Astrid Phillips

There is somebody out there doing biology in my name. Once in a while, I get emails meant for her.

October 2005:

I have your LSU contract ready for your signature, please see Christine in 202 LSB to sign. Thanks . . . .

Department of Biological Sciences
Louisiana State University

And then there was this:

April 2006:

This is a test of the Emergency Contact Management System. Please reply to this email so that we can determine the response time and if this alternative email address is valid. . . .

Department of Epidemiology
Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine

Most recently, before Hurricane Gustav reached Louisiana, there was this:

Sunday, August 31, 2008 4:06 PM

Hi Astrid,

I just wanted to check on you and Lee and make sure that you both are ok. Did you evacuate? I spoke to Brad on Friday and he told me about the university closing. If you need anything at all, please don't hesitate to ask. I hope that you are both safe and stay that way through this entire process.

All I can say is, this other Astrid Phillips sure gets around in terms of teaching biology in Louisiana, plus she has terrific friends, plus her email address must be only one letter off from mine. Perhaps I should start an Astrid Phillips Club, just for an excuse to meet everybody else living in my name. So, here we go:

I hereby announce the existence of the The Astrid Phillips Club. If your name is Astrid Phillips, or if you know somebody named Astrid Phillips, contact me immediately at Most likely, absolutely nothing will happen. Or we could all end up best friends. Really, who knows where this could go?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

petaheat turns to stoopid

Petascale data-centers in Nature [via Boing Boing]: "Every watt that you put into retrieving data and calculating with them comes out in heat, whether it be on a desktop or in a data centre; in the United States, the energy used by computers has more than doubled since 2000. Once you're conducting petacalculations on petabytes, you're into petaheat territory. Two floors of the Sanger data centre are devoted to cooling."

Do we still lack the technology to harness this heat in order to power other things? We can't possibly be this stupid.

Friday, August 22, 2008

3-Year Anniversary: State of the Astrid Address

Greetings, my fellow citizens. (Please note I did not say "netizens". I am not a dumbass.)

As the fabulous Javier has pointed out, this is the three-year anniversary of this blog, goddess help me. Or, since I'm an atheist, statistical probability help me. Sigh. Let's take a look at my first entry ever:

Monday, August 22, 2005

break my stride

So, this has definitely been a time of transitions, which I would normally embrace, if only it didn't involve losing so many friends. James has moved to San Francisco, Nicole is moving to Boston, and Sergio is moving to Ecuador. Ecuador! I've spent my whole life moving around, which has been great because I'd never really had too many friends to lose in any particular place, and each new school made me a tabula rasa, free to prove myself a hopeless nerd over and over and over. Now that I've finally grown comfortable in my own skin, my friends have decided to do the moving. Fate sure has a nasty sense of humor.

How do things stack up on The Astrid Frontier, three years later? Well, it's still a time of transitions, which I still sometimes embrace and sometimes resent, plus ça change etc. James was in Hong Kong the last time I checked, but he's probably back in NY by now. I haven't spoken to Nicole in a while, a state of affairs which needs to be rectified. Sergio came back from Ecuador and is still doing his thing in East LA. Fate still has an interesting sense of humor.

So, let's address this fate/humor thing. I hadn't wanted to address it at all lately, which is why I haven't been writing for a while; every time I open my mouth these days, it's almost always to complain about The State of Filmmaking Today [now with Extra Fist-Shaking TM]. I'm angry about not seeing a return on my investment of time, energy, excitement, funds, and hard work. I'm scared that this isn't just bad luck anymore, that I've done something terrible to bring this on myself, rather than acknowledging that independent film production is out of money, the market is saturated with DPs and wannabe DPs, the landscape of cinematography has cheapened to the point where a DP is increasingly considered lower in value than an indie director's el-cheapo video camera, few people are willing to innovate in terms of story and visual language and will only shoot paint-by-numbers horror/reality TV in order to see a razor-thin margin of profit, and I was simply blinded by dreams of gazillion-dollar union shooting when I entered the film program at USC in 2000.


And then I stubbornly refused to do anything other than production after graduating -- I was a cinematographer! No editing or being an agent's assistant for me! No doing anything besides following my talent and passion! Sigh. So much for ignoring implacable market forces. Everybody I know who went into the non-glamorous, non-saturated areas of editing or assisting can still make a living doing so. Double sigh.

Point is, I hate myself when I'm angry and bitter and scared, because I enjoy my company so much more when I'm happy and zany and carefree, and so do other people. I need to snap out of this, pronto. Maybe take a yoga class, or run away to Botswana (I hear it's delightful), or shave my head, or start a cult, or do interpretive dance on the street for money. Maybe all of these things simultaneously.

While I mull over these possibilities, I shall indulge my pressing need to make a list of things about my life as it currently stands. For each piece of evidence I list that my life is crappy, I'll also list a piece of evidence that my life is noncrappy. We'll see how this turns out....

Evidence that my life is crappy #1: I no longer shoot movies.
Depressing but true; I had to face the fact that I wasn't shooting much, and on the rare occasion I was shooting something, it was for minimum wage or less. I can't live like that, which was why I finally signed up with a temp agency. I worked as a switchboard operator for a few weeks in May/June, which made me hate my life and want to die, although I also discovered that I am a stupendously awesome switchboard operator. I pointed out to my temp agency rep that (ahem, cough) I also have a design background, and for the rest of this summer (at this very moment, in fact) I'm working as a Global Brand Consultant for a multi-billion-dollar corporation, which shall remain nameless.

Evidence that my life is noncrappy #1: I'm a global brand consultant for a multi-billion-dollar corporation, which shall remain nameless.
The people are great. I can pay my bills reliably. I'm learning a ton. I talk to folks in London, Paris, and Indonesia; they all hate me because I tell them their products are off brand, but they also love me because I am witty and charming and I offer helpful pointers on how to make their products on-brand. They also love my humility.

Evidence that my life is crappy #2: I'm out of a job after Sept. 5.
Not much more to say about this, really, except that there's currently a vacancy in the Internet dept. of my company involving online video, for which I'll be applying. We'll see.

Evidence that my life is noncrappy #2: I have my health.
I felt a tad lame writing that, since it seems obvious and silly. But you know what? It's NOT obvious and silly. I love being healthy. I'm in tiptop shape (to the best of my knowledge), and I feel fabulous. Except about the incipient not-having-a-job part.

Evidence that my life is noncrappy #3: hope, mixed with a zesty dash of uncertainty.
Alas, I can't really go into detail on this one. It's a career thing I'm trying on for size over the next few months, and if it goes well, I'll mention it more here. If it doesn't go well...let's not contemplate that, okay? Okay.

Evidence that my life is noncrappy #4: My boyfriend is nifty.
And none of your business, you voyeur.

Evidence that my life is noncrappy #5: My immediate family is alive and kicking and I love them to pieces.
They're so supportive in so many ways, it's amazing. I honestly don't know what I'd do without them.

Evidence that my life is noncrappy #6: I just had a fascinating (if truncated) conversation with Hugh McGrory.
He's a filmmaker. And Irish. And I've yet to meet him in person. And it would seem his cell phone's battery leaves a lot to be desired in the staying-powered department. Still, he's having oodles of fun this week in Silicon Valley, and he'd asked me to shoot interviews for him at Stanford and Adobe, which I couldn't do because I have a goddamn 'job' (shut up, I know), and also because I'm already overextended with the aforementioned 'other career thing' -- grr, argh, gnashing of teeth. Anyway, he likes midgets. And technology. And my cinematography, which proves he has excellent taste. His work is very compelling, go check it out.

Evidence that my life is noncrappy #7: Hugh showed my website today at Adobe, and (according to him) they said things like "Lovely colors!" and demanded the link to my reel.
Honestly, you don't get much better than that. Rockin'.

So, what's the score?

Crappy: 2, Noncrappy: 7.

Huh. Not quite what I was expecting. I guess I need to try on optimism for size, walk around in it for a while and see how it fits, since the pessimism is starting to get rather worn and shabby. I also need dinner. Excuse me as I roar off into the sooty-yet-golden Lost Angeles sunset, tearing up the highway with KPCC on the radio as I dream steamy Zankou dreams.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Happy Friday the 13th!

For the first time in a while, I'm feeling thoroughly lucky.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

i heart digital art

This video is so beautiful it almost takes my breath away. I love the kaleidoscopic quality of the editing, the angular self-possession of the dancer Masako Yasumoto, the elegant black-and-white design, the simplicity of the diffuse overhead lighting, even the almost-cheesy-but-not-quite VFX of the 'water' streaming out from Yasumoto's gestures towards the end of the piece. Man, I love it all. ::sighs happily::

Bear in mind that the music, such as it is, happens to be one of those chiptune disco tracks which might annoy the hell out of you at the very least, and render you temporarily deaf with its prolonged high tones at the very most, but I think it adds a certain Gibsonesque (WiGi?) charm.

Regardless, I love this digital objet, score and all. I luuuuv it. I lurrrrrve it. I may have to get a hotel room with it. Enjoy!

Monday, May 5, 2008

the 6%

WARNING: feminist discussion below. If you're not feeling terribly feminist-discussion-oriented, then I strongly urge you to check out the charming, Lord of the Mapquest Programmers, popcult-savvy Clifton Craig, since goodness knows he's been trying to funnel enough traffic to li'l ol' me, and it's time I return this long-overdue favor. Then, go visit the dashing, Lord of the Sound Designers Who Also Enjoy Programming, Frank-Capra-savvy Jamie Hardt; he rocks his shades like Corey Hart, but with rather less pouting, thank goodness.

And then, of course, there is always the prestige of the Pianola.

Moving right along:

I know a fab filmmaker named Sasha from USC, and yesterday she sent out a mass email to us 'SC alumnae informing us of the following:

nyt article about women in movies
[requires free registration]

This article says nothing new; it's all the same moaning which has been going on for years about the obvious fact that everybody hates the gals, nobody in the film biz wants to hire us, nobody wants to market to us, we'll never make it in the boys' world, we all might as well just march ourselves into the ocean along with our wretched scrapbooking, potpourri, suffrage etc.

These articles annoy me, both because I've seen so many of them they're turning into a whiny, depressing blur; and also because my spunky, brave nature hates admitting they're true. It's pretty brutal when multiple male cinematographers tell me that they've seen their female counterparts get offered far less pay for the same jobs, if the gals even got offered the jobs at all. Sigh. But hey, that's what I signed up for; no one put a gun to my head and said "Attempt a career in film, Ms. Phillips, or I'll hand your brains to your parents in a convenient and tastefully decorated plastic bag."

But here's something which stood out for me:

"Some point to the lack of female directors, whose numbers in both the mainstream and independent realms hover at around 6 percent."

When I read that, I immediately had to send out this mass response to the email list:

Thanks for the article, Sasha! What I find really crazy -- and I'd love to have somebody on this list prove me wrong -- is that the figure "6%" seems to crop up a lot with women in film. The article says about 6% of current, mainstream directors are female; this is the same percentage I got when calculating female membership of the ASC as well as of the SOC. Crazy!

So, where did the magic number 6 come from? Surely it's not that we only have 6% of a typical man's testosterone? 6% of a typical man's ambition? Enterprise? Talent? Are only 6% of America's female population willing to try film in the first place? Or are there really hordes and hordes of us, and most male executives possess only 6% of their total possible courage to hire us and market to us?

All very peculiar. Any and all thoughts on this would be welcome!
Astrid "Six Percent" Phillips

And I hereby extend this invitation to you, dear reader, to offer your opinion on the subject. Or put on your red shoes and dance the blues, with your Corey Hart shades on at night, whichever comes first. (He really is wearing red shoes in his "Sunglasses at Night" video, I love it!)

Oh yeah, and happy Cinco de Mayo, while you're at it. Olé and so forth.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

tales from the interrobang department

Here are some items which made me go "?!" when I went through the dusty Astridica archive recently. (Yes, in between shoots and web designery, I'm still going through bales of drawings and writing I've done from several years ago.)

Why is this dinosaur so woebegone? He's cute, though.

And now: some terrible poetry. I dimly recall having had a conversation with someone about writing the worst poem ever, and I was so inspired (if that's the correct term), I actually dared myself to have a go.

My Humble Demise, or Digestible Requiem (written 2001 or thereabouts)

I would like to be
Buried in an urn
To be inconveniently
Left on your coffee table

In the event that
I should spill, well,
Let the dog good-naturedly
Lick my remains

Then barf me up
On your prized petunias
For you to discover
When you're back from the supermarket

Who is the "you" in this poem? Why would I ever want to suffer such a fate, and inflict injury upon a poor, well-meaning dog? And for that matter, what do I have against this person's prized petunias? I LIKE petunias! All very peculiar.

I hereby dare you, dear reader, to post some terrible poetry of your own in the comments section; all I ask is that it had better be short (20 lines or fewer), at the very least. This could be spectacularly bad, and I mean that in the best possible way. Or spectacularly boring, if no one has the nerve to post anything.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Egad! They went thataway.

Man, I sure love this whole trip down Memory Lane I've been taking over the past day or so; I've done some rotten writing and drawing, but I've also done some fun stuff, too. (Well, fun for me, anyway.)

What is the Astridica aesthetic, exactly? Perhaps this several-years-old list I found in my collection today, dusted off and slightly amended just now, may help clarify things:

- Top hats (better if worn by female, best if female is below age of 13)

- Summer rainstorms (best if noisy)

- Urns

- Tureens

- Bellows, pokers, other assorted fireplace paraphernalia

- Obsessive penmanship

- Boating parties, if somebody remembers a ukulele

- Seances

- Extreme croquet

- Player pianos with rainbow-colored keys

- Beanies with propellers

- The word "knickerbocker," but not actual knickerbockers

- Antimacassars

- Fezzes

- Handlebar mustachios

- Turbans

- Tandem bicycles

- Nickelodeons

- Decoupage

- Parrots who play chess better than you

- Monocles

- Large, hand-held fans

- Feather boas in unseemly colors

- Seamstress dummy torsos

- Hundreds of Chinese lanterns crammed into a tiny space

- Typewriters, pre-1950s, used as planters

Yes, it's official: I am the walking version of a Bennigan's wall. I may be the clichéd version of kooky, but it keeps me amused. ::curtsies::

Pennyfarthing Girl, and an homage to William Carlos Williams

Pennyfarthing Girl

Pennyfarthing Girl, in color

Why does she have only one leg? I have no idea. It's a doodle from several years ago, for goodness' sake! (I erased the original notes around her.)

Moving right along, here's a birthday poem I found that I wrote to a friend eons ago (with apologies to William Carlos Williams):

this is just to say

i remembered
your birthday
quite soon

and which
you were probably
to ignore

forgive me
i think you're snazzy
so sweet
and not so decrepit

Friday, April 18, 2008

random Friday

Regarding Madonna:
Wasn't she attractive because she was playing dress-up? Wasn't she Susan in that movie? Wasn't that truly her own screen success? When she was an underdog, someone who didn't fit in, as opposed to a superstar giving dictation?

This is an interesting article, and I happen to agree with the whole thing. And in case you're wondering, Madonna fascinates me for many reasons: she's a strong woman, she's the empress of personal PR, she had bags of style, and she's a fellow UMichigan alumna. Whoo, Madonna! But I still prefer the original version of her, where she was rocking that 80s-street-urchin look.

Death to Argyle A depressing concept, since I love argyle, but this is a fun site nonetheless.

Also: somebody asked me today for more "gothic" artwork since she mentioned her boss might want me to design a gothic logo. I scratched my head for a while, since I'm not really gothic, but Rainbow Gothic. Mary Engelbreit on acid, y'know? Anyway, I went through all my old doodles, scanned a few things and e-mailed them, then thought Hey, why not put them here, too?

I drew this on a napkin with a crayon provided by the restaurant. Date and restaurant unremembered.

Who's Darryl? Why is he leering like that? And what on earth possessed him to get that crazy flattop haircut? These matters have been lost in the sands of time.

I simply call this "Luna." I think it was meant to be part of a logo which never happened. I still like it, though, especially the frighteningly blank eyes.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I'm a-leavin' on a jet plane

So, my parents just left town after a week-long stay, and then I went to an art gallery, and then I want to a tiki party, and then I discussed futurism with learned people while simultaneously walking a dog, and then I did laundry, which is why it's taken me a long time to get back to people over e-mail. Yes, I have been ignoring people, but take comfort in knowing that it's not personal; I've chosen to ignore everybody! Whoopie! Better yet, I get to ignore everybody some more, because I'll be out of town through Wednesday night on a tech scout. I won't be off-grid, so I'll still be checking e-mails, but if you're expecting a Proustian reply from me, you'll probably have to keep waiting until Thursday. Feel free to develop another hobby in the meantime to occupy you; I hear that philology is a rewarding way to go. If that doesn't tickle your fancy, check this instead:

"Independent," Webbie feat. Li'l Boosie and Li'l Phat
The embedding was disabled on this video, but don't let that stop you from admiring this WHOO KICKASS WHOO song anyway. I discovered it earlier today, riding around L.A. in killer traffic and flipping around various radio stations, and I've decided it needs to be my new theme song (as opposed to my previous theme song). (Okay, just kidding about that last one.) I normally avoid rap/hip-hop things, since so many of them seem to prominently feature the concept of beating up women who disagree with you, so I definitely took notice when this popped up, in between the endless rounds of Mariah Carey crooning about hunting you down if you post pornographic footage of her on YouTube.

Speaking of which, am I alone in being pleasantly surprised by how awesomely campy her video is? It made me laugh uproariously in parts, but I was laughing with the video, not at it. Love the cinematography (ooh, shiny!), production design (ooh, shiny!), Mariah's ability to geek out adorably (ooh, shiny!), and the guy (ooh, nerdy!). Love love LOVE the guy, even if his character is cartoony to the point of making me squirm -- at least the actor is a good sport, and hey, he got to reenact the famous 9 1/2 Weeks fridge scene with Mariah Carey! Not a bad anecdote for him to tell the ol' grandkids.

Some more fun:

The tall guy in the back with the dark glasses, projecting a vaguely Art Garfunkel vibe, is a former student of mine (and talented filmmaker) named Matt. Apparently, he enjoyed an 80s night which featured some excellent souvenir photography, and I am totally eating my heart out that I wouldn't know the first thing about looking this glamorous. Aren't these folks amazing? They look like candy, for pete's sake, especially that sassy gal with the blue bow! Gosh.

Kent (ooh, shiny!) alerted me to this, and it is the ultimate mind worm. IT'S DEVOURING MY SWEET, DELICIOUS BRAINS, RENDERING ME INCAPABLE OF SETTLING DOWN UNTIL I GET TO EMULATE THIS CHOREOGRAPHY IN MY LOCAL ALBERTSONS. I originally suggested Ralphs, but Kent was all adamant (hee! Adam Ant!) about Albertsons, and I appreciate that he clearly devoted serious thought to the matter.

And finally:

I don't know if this was shot with the Phantom HD, but HOT DIGGETY if this isn't The Most Gloriously Pointless Use of Slo-Mo for Commercial Purposes Ever.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Yihal! And a merry Rickrollmas to you, too.

So, His Royal Hottness in a Fez Kent Holle just e-mailed me some splendid YouTubery, with the warning of "Rick Rolling" on the YouTube front page. What, I wondered, is Rick Rolling, besides a catchy pseudonym for a lounge musician?

Two minutes later and with Urban Dictionary to the rescue, I felt a peculiar mixture of shame regarding my prior ignorance, and pride that I'm not sufficiently geeky to know about Rickrolling in the first place. Does this emotion have a name? If not, I'd like to introduce the term 'yihal,' which is a handy acronym for Yes, I Have a Life. Depending on how you say 'yihal,' it can either convey pride ("Yihal! I've still never seen goatse!") or shame ("Yihal, I can't believe I missed the whole LonelyGirl15 thing"). Said in a neutral fashion on its own, 'yihal' can simply mean simultaneous shame and pride about one's lack of popcult knowledge.


And by the way, what on earth is wrong with liking 80s-era Rick Astley? Yes, he seemed like an awfully sweet boy, but aren't awfully sweet boys allowed to croon soulfully from time to time? Are they not people like the rest of us? When you prick them, do they not bleed? Let us not demand our pound of flesh of Rick Astley, folks; let him be. Yihal, and I think Astley had it going on for a 21 year old. He had great hair, for example.

Moral of this tale: ain't no Rickrolling on The Astrid Frontier today. Go in peace.

Monday, March 31, 2008

the fabulous destiny of Hugh McGrory

So this random Irish guy named Hugh McGrory e-mailed me recently, and HOLY GRAVY BOATS he is a splendid filmmaker: experimental, but without giving me a headache, which is a grand feat indeed. Here are his words, and his work:

Just found 2 of my shorts that were somehow not taken offline. Low quality (especially since I have 35mm prints for both) but forgive me. They're only 3 mins each, commissioned as such by an Irish Film Board scheme.


Within Without

The first 'Maze' is shot on Super-8 on a wind-up clockwork Russian military camera. The camera literally stopped when the mechanism did a full spin! It's a film about the empty Maze/Long Kesh Prison outside Belfast, scene of the Hunger Strikes etc. I wasn't doing anything political though, just something about what the empty space has to say in itself about our peace process. The second short is 'Within Without', shot on HD with microscopy images taken at Yale. When it goes inside that stuff is really in there. There is a section of stars which is CGI but the rest is live-action. Anyway, these short pieces should give you a better idea of what I do. Don't think it's just art-nonsense. I have plans to incorporate these techniques into drama, literally go 'into' people etc to show that we're all the same.

. . . .

The music on 'Maze' is an original piece composed by a friend of mine in London - Simon Robinson, who released drum 'n' bass a few years back as 'The Advocate'. He took a very different slant on 'Maze' as you can hear. The music on 'Within Without' was again composed especially for the film by my friend Glenn Marshall . . . Glenn and I ran a company together called Make Films until a few years ago. He's a very good CGI filmmaker. Abstract Buddhist computer art.

Just for the record, Hugh is about to start a project right here in California, and I've been sworn to secrecy, but let's just say it will be FASCINATING, and I'm going to bribe Hugh every which way I can in order to be a part of it. It's interesting, I feel like over the past two weeks I have been awash in exciting film/art things, shooting projects and going to camera workshops and meeting tons of fun folks who are sincere yet ironically hep (cooler than being ironically hip), talking to people across the country and around the world about the nifty things we're all creating.

In other words: I sure love being part of an intellectual art circle. Next thing you know, I'll be quoting Derrida over cups of espresso whilst wearing a beret and setting fire to lawn flamingos because they're, like, So Totally Bourgeois. I can't wait!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

You know you're really somebody when....

....somebody searches for your name in Google, and includes the word "nude."

06:51:03 AM / MSIE 7.0 / Windows XP / 800x600 / [LOCATION REDACTED] [IP ADDRESS REDACTED]
&ct=result&cd=1&q=astrid phillips nude

I feel so honored. ::clutches heart, gazes dreamily at horizon::

I find it interesting that you're viewing teh interwebs at such low resolution. I mean, c'mon -- if you're going to look at nude photos of me, at least have the decency to view me at high resolution on a proper monitor. It's the principle of the thing, you know?

Friday, March 7, 2008

stoopid daylight savings

First things first:
THE TAXIDERMY WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: Finding Life in Dead Animals (Spiegel Online International)

Depressing news about bacteria in snow


How can a mime have a record? But hey, as LP Cover Lover says, "Great for parties!"

I love how even the fish is looking at the camera! Gray and bright orange are such a terrific combo.

LOVE THIS. And the song's not half bad, either.

I love this portrait, particularly since I love compositions which show people in settings that say something about their personalities. I've heard a rumor that Terry Gilliam shares this philosophy, which is why he often favors wide angles in his films.

I LOVE photocomics! And the recipe this illustrates is intriguing. (The mix of color temperatures from shot to shot, and even within shots, is bothersome to me -- but only mildly so. The hilarious content/emoting more than makes up for the inconsistencies of lighting. But remember: putting a little daylight-balanced gel on your indoor lights can help make the picture look consistently colored, and don't forget to also balance your camera to daylight! Most still cameras do this automatically.)

Lots of sickly green accents in this convenience store, along with blue-green fluorescent lighting, which gives the colorful zaniness a background of murky, modern wasteland eeriness. Nice.

Garfield Minus Garfield -- almost as awesome as Red Meat by Max Cannon

Pure gorgeousness. Diffused, frontal sources with amber-hued gels are always flattering.

What a view. Looks Photoshopped to me, though -- look at the horizon line where the water ends.

A pretty, live-action version of an anime boy! Isn't he just splendid?

Okay, I'm off to bed -- gotta get up at 5am! BLURGH. And the daylight savings thingie Saturday night/Sunday morning is going to kill me. DOUBLE BLURGH.


Thursday, March 6, 2008

battle of the 'i ro ny' t-shirt

So, here I was, thinking I was being so creative with my I RO NY t-shirt:

  [ available on Cafe Press! ]

But it turns out Jason Mraz had one a few months ahead of my own design!

Now, I'd like to think that mine is more legible, and also much closer to the original, iconic "I [heart] NY" design by Milton Glaser:

But still: GRR ARGH GNASHING OF TEETH. Darn that Jason Mraz for being such an avant garde fashion plate! Irritating bonus: his song is really beautiful.

Cinematography tip for the day: if you're shooting outside on a digital format, try to have your subject NOT wear white. Digital cameras have very little latitude, particularly in their highlights, so anything white or pastel will blow out with near-zero detail, like Jason's shirt in this video. Look closely, and you'll see that his shirt appears to have no folds/texture. If you're purposely going for this effect, then terrific; if not, have your actor wear bold midtones -- strong blues and greens always work best, although cameras are getting better all the time and can handle way more colors these days. Only a few years ago you couldn't even get away with wearing red, because it looked like globby/pixellated red crappiness.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

cinematography wisdom

I've noticed that, every so often, people stumble onto my pocket-sized blog after Googling things related to cinematography. Which got me thinking: why the hell don't I write more about cinematography?

So, without further ado, I'm going to address a few of the Google searches which have lead people to me.

cinematography and visual design in the apartment (1960)
Since I haven't seen The Apartment, I can't help you there -- yet. When my shoot ends (Sunday), I'll rent The Apartment and get back to you on that.

ivy league cinematography major
Don't bother. No Ivy League school has a worthwhile film department, and speaking as a USC grad, I'm not even sure I'd recommend going to the big film duo (USC & NYU), which are ridiculously expensive and don't offer a guaranteed return on your investment. Think about it: unlike business, law, or medicine, there's no guarantee you'll get hired out of school. In fact, the chances of you NOT getting work in film are horribly high. And the debt will crush your soul and make you very, very bitter like all my film school buddies.

Instead, learn filmmaking at a community college in L.A. and then transfer to USC (or do community college in N.Y. and then transfer to NYU) for the last year or two, so you can put USC or NYU on your résumé. This is much cheaper than actually attending USC or NYU for all four years, and you'll probably have some of the same instructors you had at the community college (lots of local faculty crossover). Then -- and this is key -- work on EVERY DANGBLASTED PRODUCTION YOU POSSIBLY CAN as a production assistant. Get coffee, pick up dry cleaning, clap a few slates, and after a while you'll know a whole lot of people who can give you more work, and before much longer you'll be the next George Lucas. You never know.

food cinematography
Always use diffused (soft) lighting, always use lighting which is psychologically warm (think golden tones), and more often than not try shooting fake food, since real food looks congealed and gacky FAST. There are mini tripods on wheels which are specially designed for tabletop cinematography, but since I've never used them myself, I'm not going to bother recommending anything here. Try Googling "tabletop cinematography," and you'll find tons of food-shooting resources.

women wearing jodphurs
Not really related to cinematography, but I couldn't resist including this. Let's face it: chicks are hot in jodhpurs, along with shiny black boots and riding crops. When I'm on set, though, I favor a burlap sack and a tutu.

Actually, I tend to wear jeans or cargo pants with a fitted T-shirt, and maybe a hoodie if it's chilly out. Yeah: I totally tomboy out.

Also: if you're shooting outside for even ten minutes, NEVER FORGET SUNBLOCK, SPF 45! I learned this the hard way.

cinematography secrets blog
Noodle around on and you'll learn some great stuff.

Bear in mind that there aren't really secrets, mostly just mistakes which make you wiser. I'll start sharing those over subsequent postings, but here are a few to start you off:

If you don't want people to mix up their water bottles with yours on set, label yours with a Sharpie. This isn't a cinematography secret per se, but I gotta tell ya, it really makes the shoot go a whole lot easier when you're not swapping cooties and what-have-you.

Here's another bit o' wisdom: never wear open-toed shoes. You'd be amazed how often pointy/heavy equipment will fall on your feet, so I'd even recommend steel-toed boots. Optimally, you'd wear steel-toed boots with comfy gel inserts, because you'll be on your feet for hours on end.

In fact, since we're on the topic of clothes, here's something else: do not wear skirts or kilts. I have seen male crew members wear Utilikilts, which seem like a great idea in theory, but they are horrible. Trust me: horrible. As a camera person, or as a grip or electrician, you often have to squinch (technical term) into odd positions, or even climb up ladders, so...yeah. If you're going to insist upon wearing a skirt or kilt, then PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF LINDSAY LOHAN wear shorts underneath. And I'm not talking roomy boxers, either; fitted shorts will do nicely. Leaving things to our imagination is a good thing, people.

panavision genesis 14-bit
It's an awesome digital camera, but it's also built like a tank, so it's not easy for handheld work if you're a pocket-sized cinematographer. I still love it, though.

pronounce cinematographer
Okey dokey: SIN eh mah TAW grah fer.

Incidentally, a cinematographer is also known as a director of photography, which is frequently shortened to 'DP.' Unless you're a zany European, in which case you say 'DoP.' Some cinematographers hate saying 'DP' because it also stands for 'displaced person,' 'disabled person,' and 'double penetration.' Me being me, I don't give a crap; I'm lazy, so I call myself a DP ('dazzlingly phenomenal').

cinematography lesson plans
I have plenty of those, and I'll be goddamned if I'll post them for free! E-mail me (astridica at yahoo dot com) if you'd like private tutelage, or even if you just have random shooting questions. My consultant rate is $60/hour, billed by the quarter hour.

cinematographer business cards
Mine are hand-drawn, and they are also magnetic so that people have to stick them on their fridge, and then they have no choice but to have a reminder of me every day. Who wouldn't love that?


Carpe diem, folks, seize the day. And remember, there's no reason to be intimidated by cameras -- they're technically just sewing machines with lenses on the front and film instead of thread. No lie.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

when window dressing is taken too literally

random Tuesday bits o' interest

And you wonder why there are so few female film directors....

Sheer brilliance, via We Make Money Not Art:

The Serious Organized Crime and Police Act 2005 prohibits anyone staging spontaneous protests within a 1km radius of Westminster's Houses of Parliament. However, Tony Mullin found a loophole in the law. You can carry placards around those no-protest zones as long as they do not carry any slogan.

On the 20th of June 2007 the students led a group of volunteers on a walk through the exclusion zone carrying blank green placards. Using Green screen technology, he has been exploring how to invite others to add the 'political content' during broadcasting. Basically, the idea is to create a service enabling protesters to use the footage of people carrying the blank placards around the House of Parliaments and add their message onto it afterwards. The video could then be distributed on you tube and other media.

Bear this in mind, next time you're watching CNN:

(also via We Make Money Not Art)

Science and interpretive dance, together at last! (Dance Your PhD competition, Vienna)

Electronic tattoo display runs on blood

The Independent - The world's rubbish dump: a garbage tip that stretches from Hawaii to Japan Ever get the sense that no matter what we can do, it'll never be enough?

Ooh, pretty!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

that is not the Toronto way

Katie Beaton strikes again

The above is dedicated to everybody I have ever known from the Toronto area, including my cousins, fellow filmmakers, the original kids in "Degrassi Junior High," and actors I adore. In fact, I can't think of a Canadian actor I don't like; even Jim Carrey blew me away in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." If you can name at least one Canadian actor who's fabulously vile, do let me know.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

so I'm a pretentious anachronism

Celebrating the Semicolon in a Most Unlikely Location (NYT)

Did I miss the memo on semicolons? As in, nobody uses them anymore besides me and a properly educated guy who works for NY Transit? To quote the article, "the semicolon has been largely jettisoned as a pretentious anachronism." PRETENTIOUS ANACHRONISM, Astrid bellows in outrage? Or just good grammar? Jesus H. Also, I can't believe that people are making a big deal about this, and now I'm contributing to the big deal by making a big deal out of the big deal. Sigh.

On a mostly unrelated note, I discovered that if you double click any word on the NY Times website, you get a pop up box with the dictionary definition of that word. It's kind of handy, actually.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

spring cleaning, wherein I sweep out the cobwebs of my soul

Howdydoo, fair readers. Since my last entry:

I was in San Francisco, and now I'm not. Saw the parents, triumphed over a snarky maitre'd, found a terrific book of poems anthologized by Garrison Keillor, ate ridiculously good food, observed splendid views and what-have-you.

Went to the SOC awards last night and had a blast. Met Michael Keaton there, which didn't go exactly as planned.

I've ignored some people, obsessed about others, collected business cards, learned disturbing things about medieval peasants, lost my Union Jack go-go dress, found my Union Jack go-go dress, learned that cold water is better than warm water for underwater photography, wore a shiny red cheongsam when all others wore black (at the SOC awards, not a funeral), cheered for the Giants in a rowdy bar, and learned that not everyone finds lobotomies as funny as I do.

I have decided:

I am exhausted from expending energy by caring about people who are too self-absorbed to give a crap about me right back.

I will no longer reply to e-mails unless they ask me a question, or require me to say "Thank you" or "You're welcome."

I will no longer maintain people as friends unless they ask me how I'm doing and then actually pay attention to my answer, subsequently indicating curiosity about me at regular intervals throughout the conversation/email exchange. Flattery, and/or being devilishly cute, are no longer enough for me to keep folks in my life.


I will make a concerted effort to follow up with people more regularly.

I will get in touch with more people from my past, even my nemeses. I had an archnemesis for several years until fairly recently, which I don't think he ever even suspected, and I've since made my peace with him. I don't think he suspects that, either. He's mostly harmless, as it turns out. Which is a shame -- he made for a very glamorous archnemesis, actually.

* * *

I just read over everything above, and it sounds like I must have had an epiphany recently; the interesting thing is, nothing cataclysmic has happened. Here's the best way I can put it: the seeds of all these thoughts, which I've planted in my brain over the past few years, all decided to quietly bloom this week, mostly thanks to Jessica Sitomer, who wears turquoise with panache, verbalizes everything I've been dully sensing about myself for years, and would make an excellent cult leader. Thanks to her, I now have a field of brilliantly-colored thoughts, which look suspiciously like poppies, all waving in a gentle breeze across endless rolling hills, with clear blue skies as far as the eye can see. It all looks like an ad for allergy medication, which I've decided is not an entirely bad thing.

My biggest task, for the rest of my life, is to do my damndest to maintain this clarity and put it to good use.

* * *

Okay, time for fun! Below are all the groovy items I've been collecting on the interwebs for the past few weeks. Pace yourself, and don't feel bad if it takes you a week or so to make your way through all of the things below. I'll wait.

In no particular order:

Little Things That Jiggle

Ooh, I always loves me some hep science -- this funky science mash-up goes about a minute too long, but it's still a rollicking good time.

I'd never realized before just how widely applicable some simple army camo can be. Just fabulous, and always suitable for eluding Grandma.

The best "how not to handle a baby" instruction card. Ever.

Battle at the Bus Stop (Violent Acres)
Outrageously poetic story about childhood bullying and miscommunication. I actually have half a mind to recreate this story as a graphic novel; er, graphic short story?

High School Girl meat products?
Japanese misogyny hits a new low. Worst part: you just KNOW this stuff'll sell like hotcakes. Hotcakes for lady-hatin' cannibals, is what I'm thinking....

Dresses! Made of balloons! I was about to say I can now die a happy woman, until something suddenly occurred to me: how would you sit down without ruining your outfit and making a ruckus? Back to the ol' drawing board, I guess.

I love the contrast of the muddy skin with the pristine purple silk. The visual rhythm of their bodies with the flow of the fabric = sublime.

Michael Nesmith is undoubtedly a genius
Watch all four clips ("Time travel smells like broccoli"), laugh yourself silly, purchase this DVD, inflict it upon all your friends and family, and be happy. That's an order.

an ode to the font Archer, by I Love Typography

ILT puts this better than I do, but Archer is a truly terrific font. What really catches my breath with its beauty, though, is this picture using the font -- I love, love, LOVE astronomy illustrations created anytime before 1970, or even astronomy illustrations which simply look like they're pre-1970. This is a bit of a fetish on my part, and I implore you to use this knowledge for good rather than evil.

Chewing Gum Art
-- folk art at its tastiest. What I want to know is, where's the giant stick of gum, comprising actual sticks of gum? Infinite regression is always awesome.

Deceptively simple. Love it.

And now for your moment of "Aw...."

Fun with Google Maps -- great idea, and nicely disturbing.

Gender-neutral Ronald McDonald? MY EYES. DEAR GOD MY EYES. WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN? O, those zany Japanese.

PlaceboKatz, Understanding art for geeks
-- wish I'd thought of this. Oodles of fun.

From Damn Interesting >> The Unburdened Mind:
Some psychologists go so far as to label the psychopath “a different kind of human” altogether. Psychopathy has an environmental component like nearly all aspects of personal psychology, but its source is rooted firmly in biology. This has caused some researchers to suspect that the condition isn’t a “disorder” at all, but an adaptive trait. In a civilization made up primarily of law-abiding citizenry, the theory goes, an evolutionary niche opens up for a minority who would exploit the trusting masses.

Very intriguing essay overall, two thumbs up from me.

The Nonist: Gaikotsu's Postcards

I'd never heard of Gaikotsu before reading this -- such an inventive artist.

The Nonist: The Secret History of the Revolving Door

The revolving door was created out of revenge? Nice.

The Sneeze: Breakfast Sausage
Terrific commentary on how practically all cereal icons are male. What's up with that, anyway? Weirdness.

Interesting idea.
There's even a Facebook group, in case you're interested.

Best monowheel I've seen thus far.

I love this bench. So simple, yet so brilliant. The DP in me is going "W00T!" right now.

Hark! A Vagrant: Rocky Mountain High
These gals really know how to take a road trip -- this is a truly terrific journal entry. Also: anybody who uses phrases like "Tundra is where it is at" needs to be my new best friend.

From Sesame Street -- brings back all sorts of fond memories.

Guy Skis Down Tube Escalator -- pretty much says it all. DO NOT TRY THIS YOURSELF. Thank you.

Easily the sexiest photo I've seen in a while. Cute boy? Check. Excellent lipstick application? Check. Books, and/or writing? Check. Incongruous electric meter placement? Check. Insouciant attitude? Check. I swear, the pulchritude oozing off this picture practically knocks me off my chair.

Neatorama: If regular pies just aren't challenging enough...."
Oh my. Icosahedrons are great, and when they're made out of pecan pie...I seem to be getting the vapors. Excuse me while I go lie down for a bit.

Outrageous IKEA ads! Far more fun than I was expecting.

And finally:

Carousel music, just because.