With occasional reflection on the perpetual absurdity/intrigue of life and society in general.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs - In Memory of an Innovator (February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011)

Innovation is the rarest and highest level of human thought and capability.

Steve Jobs: The Link Between Machines And Humans

Monday, October 3, 2011

Lead Pencil Non-Sign - Image of Intrigue

The concept is relatively intriguing as well - quite a bit of something in that nothing. When you drive across the border into the United States from Vancouver, B.C., at Blaine (the main passageway), this is what you'll see.
This is a digital rendering of the new Lead Pencil Studio artwork Non-Sign II, which is just what it says: A non-sign. The sign part is empty air - the rest is a web of metal pieces.

For the full article follow the link:  The Stranger - Currently Hanging: Lead Pencil Studio

Magic Mushrooms Can Make Lasting Personality Changes, Study Says

Elizabeth Lopatto, ©2011 Bloomberg News
Thursday, September 29, 2011 - SF Gate

Psilocybin, or "magic mushrooms," can make people more open in their feelings and aesthetic sensibilities, conferring on them a lasting personality change, according to a study by Johns Hopkins researchers. People who had mystic experiences while taking the mushrooms were more likely to show increases in a personality trait dubbed "openness," which is related to creativity, artistic appreciation and curiosity, according to the study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. The change was still in place a year later, suggesting a long-term effect.
"The remarkable piece is that psilocybin can facilitate experiences that change how people perceive themselves and their environment," said Roland Griffiths, a study author and professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Johns Hopkins University of Medicine in Baltimore. "That's unprecedented."
Magic mushrooms, also known as "shrooms," are hallucinogens native to tropical and subtropical regions of South America, Mexico and the U.S. The fungi were favored by former Harvard psychologist Timothy Leary, who founded the Harvard Psilocybin Project, and explored by '60s writer and anthropologist Carlos Castaneda. They are typically eaten but can also be dried and smoked or made into a tea.
Openness is one of five major personality factors known to be constant throughout multiple cultures, heritable in families and largely unvarying throughout a person's lifetime. The other four factors, extroversion, neuroticism, agreeableness and conscientiousness, were unchanged by being dosed with the hallucinogenic mushrooms, the study found. This is the first finding of a short-term intervention providing a long-term personality change, researchers said...

To read more go to:  SF Gate - Magic Mushrooms...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Take Shelter by Jeff Nichols - Featured Film of Interest

Jeff Nichols is a rising independent filmmaker (something we don't hear enough of in recent years) based out of Austin, TX - our home town. His first feature film, Shotgun Stories, was shot in the true paradigm of early 90's independent cinema, sweat and tears and penniless scraping with a lot of gumption, and it is a truly impressive accomplishment as well as a thoughtful, cinematically intelligent, and all around excellent first feature.  Take Shelter, Nichols' second feature (budgeted at quite a bit more than his first but still relatively minimal) has received accolades and awards throughout its festival run, including quite a bit of notoriety at Cannes. It is now set for an American release and it is receiving predominately rave reviews and positive response.  This is certainly one of my top films of interest set for release, and not just for local loyalty - the possibility of honest, interesting storytelling with high cinematic awareness is very promising. I encourage all to look up the release dates in your city or area (September 30 in many places) and check this one out - I'm pretty sure it will be worth it. Below is a review by David Edelsten for NPR Movies.

Dark Skies: Jeff Nichols' haunting Take Shelter centers on an Ohio man (Michael Shannon, with Tova Stewart) plagued with nightmares about a coming apocalypse.

An Atmospheric 'Shelter' For Era Full Of Foreboding

Friday, September 30, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Out Of Context: The Critical Importance Of Films You Know Nothing About - NPR Blog

Fernando Morena and Eliu Armas star in Hermano.

When was the last time you saw a movie you knew nothing about?
It's a trickier thing to accomplish than it might seem to be. After all, if a film comes from a director whose work you've ever seen, you know something about it. If it stars an actor you've ever seen or ever read about – someone with any kind of a reputation, good or bad – you know something about it. If you've seen a trailer or an ad on TV, of course, then you know a lot about it. If it's "from the people who brought you," or "the director of," you're specifically being told what to expect, even if falsely. More often than not, the biggest concern about a film before it's made available is that if you don't know anything about it, you won't go...
I saw a Venezuelan film called Hermano this weekend. Here's what I knew about it before I saw it: It was a drama, it had something to do with soccer and, in keeping with the title, it had something to do with brothers. That's it. That's it. Never heard of the director, Marcel Rasquin (it's his first film), never heard of or seen any of the actors ever before (they're quite new, too), didn't know whether it was tragic or uplifting or gritty or sunny or what. I knew it won awards at film festivals in Moscow and Havana, and ... that's all...
Everything you know something about when you go is, intentionally or unintentionally, coded. The director, the actor, the type of film, everything sends a message, even if it's not the most obvious one. One example: I watched Buried the other night, the claustrophobic thriller starring Ryan Reynolds, and one of the things I found myself musing on was Reynolds' decision to take a role where his looks would be as useless as possible. In a way, it detaches him from his reputation as a pretty boy. But the fact remains: He's Ryan Reynolds. I've seen him before, quite a lot, so knowing it's him means that coding is there for me, even when he's in the dark...
It's good now and then, though, to see something where, for you, there's absolutely no coding in it at all. Obviously, the marketing of a movie often sends unmistakable signals about where it's going and who the good and bad guys are before you ever get there. A story of a good and a bad brother, for instance, will tell you who's who in the commercials. Even if you don't get it from the commercials, there's a decent chance you'll get it from the casting. You'll get it from the way the two are shot from the opening sequence forward. You'll get it from the score.
When you don't know anything – what tradition the film is in, what its genre is, how it would be marketed, or who the target audience is – not only do you see that film differently, but you see other films differently, too. The lack of signals is palpable and initially unsettling because the experience is so rare, but like any negative space, it draws a kind of attention to itself. It made me think about the avalanche of coding attached to a movie like Moneyball: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Aaron Sorkin, baseball, Michael Lewis, Michael Lewis' book ... there are a hundred ways to be either with or against that film before you watch a frame of it...
There was a discussion after Hermano in which something remarkable happened: Multiple people in the room took the position that the film's ending either was "ambiguous" in a way I believe it wasn't, or, in some cases, took the fairly firm position that it ended in a way I believe it clearly didn't. One of them said, in fact, that he believed the film was of a particular genre, he felt films in that genre should end in a specific way, and therefore, he chose to believe that was the way Hermano ended, even though – again, in my opinion – he was unquestionablychanging the ending that was on the screen...
It was an enormously valuable experience, precisely because I can't say for sure who was right. (It was me, though.) (I'm just sure of it.) The movie was just out there, on its own, on the screen, no hints. No codes, no semaphore, no homages to anyone. Here's a movie; see what you think. It's an experience to try to have regularly, because it's really the only way to make sure you're still noticing everything you carry with you into the average multiplex picture.
For the Entire Article follow the Link:  NPR Blogs - Out of Context...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

GUY MADDIN - The Heart of the World


The Heart of the World is a short film written and directed by Guy Maddin, produced for the 2000 Toronto International Film Festival. Enjoy.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Photo Journal of Austin Series, Part 8: Water

Images by Meghann Sumner:

The following images were taken from a kayak on the Colorado River with a disposable camera (purchased at the local drug store, i think) - while ACL 2010 shared its music from the bordering shore.

Bressonian Quote #20 - Notes from a Master Filmmaker

"Nothing rings more false in a film than that natural tone of the theatre copying life and traced over studied sentiments."  - Robert Bresson

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Photo Journal of Austin Series, Part 7: Nature and City

Images by Meghann Sumner:

Photo Journal of Austin Series, Part 6: Postcards of Austin

Photo Journal of Austin Series, Part 6: Postcards of Austin
The next few posts to this series will consist of images from the same period of time and shoots as the original posts. I recently revisited my photo collection from the early Austin days (oh so long ago, 9 months i think it is now) and found a few gems that i had yet to share - so here they are. There will be four posts total to complete this collection, the images divided by photographer - Luke Bruehlman, Meghann Sumner (2 posts), and myself. After these posts, the Photo Journal of Austin Series will continue, but will expand (and hopefully evolve naturally) to broader visions of the city, people, and culture of Austin.  Luke's images are leading off with Part 6 of the series (appropriately, as his upcoming visit - round 2 - inspired me to revisit the photos).

Images by Luke Bruehlman: