Tuesday, June 30, 2009
HIFF SUMMER STUDENT FILM WORKSHOP
For the second year in a row, Guild Hall in collaboration with Hamptons International Film Festival presents the Summer Student Film Workshop. Led by film producer Anne Chaisson and television producer Seth Redlus, aspiring filmmakers (ages 8-13) will learn the entire filmmaking process, from development and writing, to acting, blocking, production, cinematography, and editing.
Students will have the opportunity to learn about the art of visual self-expression from experienced filmmakers such as writer Joan Stein (ONE DAY CROSSING, Academy Award nominee for short film), director Michael Almareyda (ANOTHER GIRL, ANOTHER PLANET; HAMLET; TONIGHT AT NOON), and actor Josh Perl (NAKED STAGES). At the end of the five day workshop, students will screen their work at the newly renovated Guild Hall in East Hampton, NY.
This 5-day workshop takes place July 13-17 from 12 - 3 pm daily and costs $200/student. To register, please email Public Programs Associate Melissa Erb at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 631 324-0806.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Showtime has weed & a happy prostitute. Of course there has been a mob family man and a serial killer. Undertakers, vampires, ... There was a family of grifters.
Now we have a male prostitute. All in fun. A bit derivative. Are any other family friendly vices left to harvest for TV?
Hung is a pleasant show.
The main character, Ray Drecker, (Thomas Jane) is firmly sexualized. (Pun is accidental but appropriate.) Like a prostitute who is portrayed for her physical endowments rather than for her ability to convey the high-end GFE. (Girl friend experience.) (See the Huffington Post on this.)
Drecker is genial. Altogether seemingly too well put-together all the way from head to toe to be the complete disaster of a father/husband/wage-earner/etc the back-story requires. Cast rather in the mold of Mad Men.
His sidekick, Tanya Skagle (great name!), a poetess, played by Jane Adams (a Tony award winning actress), is rather more interestingly cast, and does a lot to give the show some character.
It's well written, amusing, frequently hinting at (if not delivering more than the usual Cable appropriate) sex, and well acted. It's OK.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Jack Bauer is a wuss. 007 is a dandy.
For merciless, nonstop pursuit of bad guys, Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills is far tougher, rougher, stronger, more efficient and more focused than any of these predecessors.
Taken (directed by Pierre Morel, written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen) is a non-stop, well crafted, old-fashioned, modern action movie. (Old-fashioned in the sense that it relies on actors, not special effects. Modern because the plot, subject matter, style, dialog, etc. are all 2009/now.)
The interpersonal dramatic relationships are all well presented, and set up the action convincingly, but they are otherwise not important.
Mills is at odds with his ex-wife, out of touch with his daughter, and retired from a job as a special operative from the government, which cost him his family: they think he ignored them. He, of course, loves them.
When his daughter is kidnapped by a sex-traffic ring in France he uses (as he says in the preview/promos), his "very particular set of skills" to try to save her.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
... - 2009 Rest In Peace...
Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson...
I never met them, but they were a part of my life...
No man is an island
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea
If a clod be washed away by the sea
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls...
It tolls for thee.
Monday, June 22, 2009
NASA PICTURE OF THE DAY
Explanation: This rocket is headed for the Moon. Pictured above, a huge Altas V rocket roared off the launch pad last week to start NASA's first missions to Earth's Moon in 10 years. The rocket is carrying two robotic spacecraft. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is scheduled to orbit and better map the Moon, search for buried and hidden ice, and return many high resolution images. Some images will be below one-meter in resolution and include images of historic Apollo landing sites. Exploratory data and images should allow a more informed choice of possible future astronaut landing sites. The Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) is scheduled to monitor the controlled impact of the rocket's upper stage into a permanently shadowed crater near the Moon's south pole. This impact, which should occur in about three months, might be visible on Earth through small telescopes.
NASA Picture of the day.
Star Trek is a great movie! It is visually brilliant. The special effects are excellent. The action is non-stop, yet the dramatic interplay is convincing and interesting, with superb casting and pitch perfect acting. Best of all, the story is clear, something that rarely happens in action movies (recall, for example, the last half hour of the last Batman, which was total confusion).
It's not quite a perfect movie. Mumbo-jumbo about moving back and forth in time is a bit, well... mumbo-jumbo. And the music, except for the famous Star Trek theme, is too schmaltzy, too much like an incessant fanfare, "heightening" excessively the already dynamic visual action.
There are a few, but only a few, moments which transcend the plot and provide a moment of (let's call it) wisdom, notably the brief but powerful times when the real Spock (an aging Leonard Nimoy, of course) appears.
What it does very well is express a spirit of adventure, courage, and creative solutions to life threatening problems using expert knowledge; but -- since it deals almost exclusively with military threats, revenge and warfare -- it lacks the sense of scientific curiosity and joyful exploration of the wonders of space that is also at the heart of Star Trek.
The concept was perfectly executed. The film captures much of the spirit of the Star Trek myth and the stories yet to come (this is a movie whose sequels have already been made**), enriched by the tradition of the myth, and also enhancing the myth by describing how it all starts. The young characters (and actors) in this film capture the essense of the characters (and actors) which inhabit this story in the future with such fidelity it is almost spooky.
Chris Pine as Captain James T. Kirk
Zachary Quinto as Spock
Karl Urban as Bones
Simon Pegg as Scotty
John Cho as Sulu
Anton Yelchin as Chekov
Zoe Saldana as Uhuru
The script (by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman -- based of course on the concept originated by Gene Roddenberry) deserves great credit also for making this possible.
J J Abrams has created great television (Lost, Alias, ...), with complex and fascinating characters and stories that were always interesting and compelling to watch from moment to moment, though on a larger scale became almost impenetrably complex, with characters sometimes, for example, double crossing, triple crossing and quadruple crossing each other, changing sides from one moment to the next, and sometimes dying and coming back to life.
His first feature, a Mission Impossible, was not terribly successful.
Star Trek has none of the problems of Abram's other work, and many of its best qualities. He has arrived as a major feature film director. We can look forward with great hope and anticipation to his next Mission Impossible feature. That's a great franchise, and it will be fun to see it re-invigorated!
(**Note: Of course there are more Star Trek sequels yet to come!)
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Positioned conceptually midway between Twitter and Blogger, with a dash of search and a helping of Wiki, bloofy (always lc & ital) accepts short posts (though size is not limited quite so severely as in Twitter), photos, video, and audio posts. Interactive videos (IV's)(eg Flash with video) are also hosted, allowing users to upload games and interactive tutorials.
bloof's (posts on bloofy, also called bloo's or blo's) can be formatted, and special words and terms (eg replys -- twitter @, tagwords -- twitter #, and URL links) can be separated from the main text, improving readability, clarity and appearance.
It is possible to aggregate a series of selected posts from all over bloofy, then publish and annotate them in a section (called a stream) of the user's home site, effectively making the user an editorial director for that topic. (See ** below.)
Similarly one can re-edit certain "designated" videos from bloofy -- Designated Videos (DV's) uploaded to bloofy for re-mixing are considered to be essentially in the public domain.
All DV's, IV's, and Designated Audio must however, be certified as original by the uploader, and must be accepted (manually) by bloofy. The search tags (and navigation) for Designated Audio and Video files are also created by bloofy to facilitate accurate and efficient audio and video retrieval. So, in addition to essentially unlimited user contributed content (non-designated), there is also carefully selected and valuable designated material.
Sorting this all out would be a monumental task if it were all handled by the staff, so in fact these tasks are initially handled by users, in a similar manner to the way imdb was created and Wiki's are run.
The "premium" section of bloofy -- as a source of information -- is like a multimedia Wiki encyclopedia, and -- as a source of entertainment -- is becoming a premiere online site for quality, independent films (short films, feature length films, and episodic series), games, and some new forms of fun.
A rich, open, free Development Kit allows extensive user-enhancements to the site, including tie-ins with Dev Kits for some other sites. That enables some extremely interesting compound applications.
** One very interesting application makes it easy to take IV's DV's DA's and streams, and publish them as a multimedia e-book!
One outstanding feature of bloofy is that it automatically collects accurate and informative statistics of traffic. This facilitates a growing amount of advertising that is appearing on the site. (When DV's are re-edited, a portion of the ad revenue from the re-mix flows back to the original creator.)
In one of the most popular features of bloofy -- commonly called "don't ask, just tell" -- users enter a simple fact of which they have personal knowledge each time they login, and receive a random, personal fact from someone else. Many friendships and even some marriages began this way! (But also at least one divorce.)
Though it maintained a low profile for some time, bloofy was recently outed by Stephen Colbert in the June 15 issue of Newsweek. "Bloofy" has been defined as something like "sleepy." The new bloofy is anything but asleep!
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
SHARON ROFFMAN PLAYS VIVALDI'S FOUR SEASONS IN CAPE MAY
On Thursday June 11, Sharon Roffman will be the violin soloist in Vivaldi's Four Seasons, with the Bay-Atlantic Symphony for the "Spring String Fling" in Cape May.
Also on the program are: Gershwin’s Lullaby for Strings, Holst’s St. Paul’s Suite, and Tchaikovsky’s Andante Cantabile.
8PM, The First Presbyterian Church of Cape May,
500 Hughes St. (Hughes & Decatur)
Cape May, NJ 08204
Tickets at the door.
$25, seniors $20, and students $10.
Sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts
PHONE CALL OR PHONY CALL
When some company -- or some automated computer -- calls, there is no way to know who the call is coming from. If they leave a phone number/web address to call back, there is no way to know if the number/URL they left is legitimate. If they ask a question and say "Press 1 for yes or 2 for no" , there is no way to know if you are actually triggering some other action, like buying some worthless item for lots of money. Note: They've got you on record! (even though you didn't know what you were doing).
In other words, phone calls from people who say they are the telephone company, or a debt collection company, or a pollster, or a Police Benevolent Fund, [*] or a Cancer charity may not be what/who they say they are.
These calls should be illegal, because even if the call you just got chanced to be legitimate, then the next call from someone saying the exact same thing might be a crook.
If you get a call that sounds legitimate, like the phone company saying you owe money, and you know you do, just thank them for the reminder and pay the way you usually do. DO NOT EVER PAY OVER THE PHONE TO SOMEONE WHO CALLED YOU.
When you call the bank, say, they ask you for your name and some kind of password to verify your identity. When someone calls you and says they are the bank, say, you have the same obligation to verify the caller. Since that is impossible, yes IMPOSSIBLE, you should not respond with any information whatever; even information that sounds innocuous to you, like whether you are the person they say they are calling. If they are pfishing, they can use any information you provide against you.
In response to calls from anyone -- any company -- you do not know, just say, "Thank you for calling, but I never respond to a cold call. Never. Bye Bye." And hang up.
[*] Note. A funny thing... just as I was in the middle of writing this post, at the exact place where the [*] is, I got a call from a "Breast Cancer Charity."
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
CALVIN KLEIN JEANS CAMPAIGN
Calvin Klein has released a new, beautiful, and sexy campaign for their jeans:
Photographer: Steven Meisel
(Note: Unfortunately, attractive and sexy as it is, the web presentation is -- I assume deliberately -- marred by strange streaks on the still photos and a tiny, murky screen for the video. If you are going to be sexy and beautiful, go all the way!)
Darker & darker!
Once it was a wickedly naughty show about a quirky mom who sells a bit o' pot to make ends meet.
Now, on the new season opener of Weeds, we've already had two quick (very cold blooded) murders, a (different) mother kidnapped and nearly murdered so her daughter could cut her up and sell her organs for cash (see * below), and Mary Louise Parker, the first mom (aka Nancy Botwin -- or the "Hemptress" as she's called in promos) now pregnant with the baby of a drug lord who knows she ratted him out and seemed (in a segment played in Spanish with no translation) to be, perhaps, planning to somehow extract the baby by force.
In the last few seasons there have been many murders, the arson of an entire town, young boys (Parker's character's boys) planting, harvesting and dealing weed, hard drug trafficking, forced prostitution and the whole amusing situation just getting really out of hand!
(* This kidnap situation was resolved all too neatly: mom's cancer chemotherapy rendered her organs unfit for harvesting. And her daughter's boyfriend, who had been trying unsuccessfully to raise ransom for the kidnapping -- nobody would pay any money to save her -- got fed up with his nasty girlfriend and kicked the would-be momicidal daughter out.)
This show has always had a different way of looking at people and plots. In normal television the simplest way to resolve a situation like this -- the Hemptress getting deeper and deeper in trouble -- would be to kill off all the bad guys in one big drug raid. I'd guess they'll find a better way to resolve the plot lines.
All in all, the acting, plotting, dialog, characters, and situations are top notch television: humorous, inventive, compelling, and entertaining!
Mondays at 10 on ShowTime.
Monday, June 08, 2009
Continuous updates from the Apple World Wide Developer's Conference (WWDC) at:
=>More business friendly
=>Better battery life
=>Better camera + video
=> also some price reductions and improvement in Mac lines.
See also www.engadget.com for more news.
THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT ELECTIONS
In the US there is rarely much attention paid to the rest of the world, except when (and where) there is violence. Since US businesses can make half their money outside the US that is a little puzzling: One would think Americans (ie US citizens; note: there are other countries in North, South, and Central America) would be extremely interested in world events, world culture, world news, world economics, world politics, world ... (etc)
Since Europe, collectively, together with China, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Russia, Central and South American countries, African and other countries make up the world in which we live, with vital influence on our lives, it is important to pay attention. It does affect us. A lot.
In particular, little notice has been made here of elections to the European Parliament which just ended.
The European Parliament is a step toward integration of European countries, although it has little real power currently. It is slightly more important than simply symbolic, and is a way to measure European sentiment.
The results of the election seem to be a slight but significant move toward conservative isolationism and protectionism, with a nod toward radicalism on both left and right. There are signs of anger at the economic situation and, in England, at the financial scandal (where members of Parliament have charged personal expenses to their government expense accounts).
One exception, however, is that an opponent of the Lisbon treaty (relating to European unification) in Ireland (where the treaty was defeated) was not elected.
A trend toward protectionism and radicalism in Europe is disturbing, but not surprising. Optimism in the US has been rising because of the vigorous, intelligent, broad based, middle of the road attack on the financial crisis and international conflicts (current and potential) that is being pursued by the new US administration. European leaders, however, have been less forceful in addressing economic problems which in some cases (eg unemployment in Spain) are much worse than in the US.
Economic problems and scandals often lead to a desire for change. When the opportunity for a change that can improve the situation is not available, voters may select change that makes things worse.
(It should be noted that these elections are for the European Parliament, not for the actual governments of individual countries, so these elections have little immediate, direct effect on government policies, though they may inspire policy decisions based on a reading -- or misreading -- of voter sentiment.)
Labels: European Parliament
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH CONAN O'BRIEN (v2)
The second edition of Conan O'Brien (aka CoCo) went well. Tom Hanks, as expected, was somewhat out of Conan's control, but Hanks came in with great stuff. And a big finish with a small asteroid was a smash.
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH CONAN O'BRIEN
First night went by smoothly, amusingly.
There were lots of filmed bits. Funny. Not hilarious. Opening was a good start: Conan discovering he was on the wrong coast twenty minutes before the show; couldn't catch a cab; had to run all the way to LA. Didn't seem all that out of breath when he arrived.
Monolog was OK. Conan shed many (but not all) of his quirky moves. It worked.
The set is very ornate. Lush. Big.
Band sounded good. Sidekick timing wasn't there yet. Will Farrell came on with some lame bits. (Warning to Conan: Tom Hanks -- tomorrow's visitor -- is a popular film star, but he can be a tough guest to handle.)
Pearl Jam was a hit, I think. (At night I can never turn the sound on TV up to where I can really hear the music well.) Conan was very appreciative of everything and everyone... and Pearl Jam especially.
On Late Night, Conan got getting better and better. He's a smart, funny, hard working comic. Carson & Leno were very different when they started than they were later on.
Paar was best at attitude; Carson was best with guests; Leno was best with just plain comedy; on scant evidence, I'd guess Conan will have comic media bits defining his show, at least for a while.
I think it will be a good show. I look forward to staying up too late. Wait! Sorry, NBC. I've got a DVR now. I'll see you in the daytime, Conan.
The web site has extra features:
The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien:
Good luck Conan!
Monday, June 01, 2009
WHAT'S GOOD FOR GENERAL MOTORS...
The head of GM, Charles Wilson, became the Secretary of Defense under President Eisenhower.
During one hearing, related to some controversy over whether Wilson was favoring GM as a supplier, (GM at the time was the archetypal model of a huge, efficiently managed company doing consumer and government business -- but solely interested in its own success), Wilson is reported to have defended his actions by saying "What's good for General Motors, is good for the country." (Note: That quote in context might have been somewhat less pointed.)
It was roundly denounced.
Indeed, Eisenhower's finest moment as President may have been his farewell speech, warning about the "Military-Industrial Complex" (including companies like GM).
It is very amusing that President Obama refers to that famous remark, giving it a new, ironic justification, in closing his speech on the GM bankruptcy.
RADAR??? SO LAST CENTURY
This is not a matter for jokes:
Reports are that a French plane disappeared over the ocean when it was out of radar range; they didn't notice the problem for hours, and they can't find it. Even though it did send an automated text message (wow!) that it had electrical problems. (I hope they know -knew- exactly when that was sent. Did they respond immediately? Or wait several hours 'til the plane did not re-appear on schedule on the radar?)
I find it hard to believe that it is not possible for every airplane to be connected by satellite in real time with a control center. It should have GPS contact. The whole "black box" should be communicating in real time, not some lame text message. If there is a problem on board, knowledge of the problem and backup support should be immediate.
Radar has its value, but there are other technologies that make world-wide communication instantaneous. I do not understand why they are not ubiquitously deployed.
For that matter, reports have suggested the plane was travelling through a region with brutal storms. With world-wide satellite coverage, and the possibility of sensors all over, it does not make sense that a plane should be allowed to go into a region with murderous weather conditions.
As a side note, I once (only once) long ago flew a particular airline (which will not be named) in which the movie was shown by way of a super-8 projector on board. The film suddenly became abstract, with an interesting design starting in the center of the screen and then growing. The stewardess fortunately ripped the burning film out of the projector before the fire spread.
They don't use film in a projector anymore to show movies. They should not rely on last century's technology for airplane safety anymore, either.
GPS - FAREED ZAKARIA
Lately, "GPS," the show by Fareed Zakaria (he's also editor of Newsweek International) has proven to have the best, most timely interviews on the most important international issues. He talks to the people who are on the front lines. They may or may not be "experts." They may or may not be right. But they are the people doing it: the people who are negotiating and the people making the decisions. Zakaria asks deeply informed questions. Recent, outstanding shows, centered on Iraq, Pakistan, China, and North Korea.
CNN Sunday @ 1PM & 5PM --
The GPS website is also very rich, with many interesting features --