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

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Out of Service - A Documentary by Andy Myers - Featured Independent Film and Artist

Funding for a Pertinent Doc on Freedom and Civil Rights:
This is a fascinating, heartbreaking, and socially imperative documentary currently under production - by Andy Myers, a filmmaker based out of UNCW Film Studies (the same program that i graduated from).  I have not personally had the chance to meet Andy, however, Shannon Silva, an associate professor of Film Studies at UNCW, an accomplished documentary and experimental filmmaker, and a personal mentor and friend, has sent this message:  "One last time for people in nosebleed seats!  40 hours left on this doc's fundraising. If you've got it, share it."

I tend to trust her opinion and support infinitely in matters of documentary filmmaking.

After further exploring the project, I couldn't agree more. It appears to not only be socially significant as exposure of a great injustice with far reaching implications, but also one that is being handled with grace and keen production. I offer my full support and encouragement to Andy as he tackles this ambitious project, and further encourage all that are able to get in some last minute donations. Below is a video sample of the doc in process and a link to KickStarter, an online resource for art fundraising - and all hopes that independent cinema and art continues to flourish with new resources of the sort. I have also included a Bio of the filmmaker and a summary of the project for those interested in exploring the film further.

Out of Service: A Documenary by Andy Myers

Bio for Andy Myers
Andy Myers is a documentary filmmaker earning his BA in Film Studies at The University of North Carolina at Wilmington. His main interests include the link between environmental injustice and societal welfare, gay rights issues, and innovative grassroots endeavors. He is a firm believer in the power of nonfiction film to enact social change and strives to make and support documentaries that serve as tools in the fight against inequality and discrimination.

GOODBYE to Don't Ask Don't Tell!
The bigoted, nonsensical policy Don't Ask Don't Tell has finally been thrown out. A lot of work and sacrificice from a lot of passionate individuals has payed off and our senetors and congressmen have finally listened to us, and have decided to do whats right. During the signing of DADT Repeal, Obama quoted Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as saying, "Our people sacrifice a lot for their country, including their lives. None of them should have to sacrifice their integrity as well."

There is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order for the military to start to see a change. There is a certification process happening now which the Pentagon does not know how long will take, and after this theres a 60 day grace period before repeal can take effect. Sara hopes to rejoin ROTC in the Spring of 2012 but is still appealing her debt of $80,000. Earlier she was told that EVEN IF DON'T ASK DON'T TELL WAS REPEALED, SHE WOULD STILL HAVE TO PAY BACK HER SCHOLARSHIP. This seems completely ridiculous to me and hopefully by getting Sara's story out to the public as much as possible, more attention will be directed to the absurdity in this logic.
Links: KickStarter

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Onion Reports - Economic Gap

The awe-inspiring gap.

"And thanks to careful maintenance through the ages, this massive relic survives intact, instilling in each new generation a sense of awe," Jean- Baptiste added.

The vast chasm of wealth, which stretches across most of the inhabited world, attracts millions of stunned observers each year, many of whom have found its immensity too overwhelming even to contemplate. By far the largest man-made structure on Earth, it is readily visible from locations as far-flung as Eastern Europe, China, Africa, and Brazil, as well as all 50 U.S. states.

"The original Seven Wonders of the World pale in comparison to this," said World Heritage Committee member Edwin MacAlister, standing in front of a striking photograph of the Gap Between Rich and Poor taken from above Mexico City. "It is an astounding feat of human engineering that eclipses the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Giza, and perhaps even the Great Racial Divide."

According to anthropologists, untold millions of slaves and serfs toiled their whole lives to complete the gap. Records indicate the work likely began around 10,000 years ago, when the world's first landed elites convinced their subjects that construction of such a monument was the will of a divine authority, a belief still widely held today.

Though historians have repeatedly disproved such claims, theories still persist among many that the Gap Between Rich and Poor was built by the Jews.

"When I stare out across its astounding breadth, I'm often moved to tears," said Johannesburg resident Grace Ngubane, 31, whose home is situated on one of the widest sections of the gap. "The scale is staggering—it makes you feel really, really small."

"Insignificant, even," she continued.

While numerous individuals have tried to cross the Gap Between Rich and Poor, evidence suggests that only a small fraction have ever succeeded and many have died in the attempt.

Its official recognition as the Eighth Wonder of the World marks the culmination of a dramatic turnaround from just 50 years ago, when popular movements called for the gap's closure. However, due to a small group of dedicated politicians and industry leaders, vigorous preservation efforts were begun around 1980 to restore—and greatly expand—the age-old structure.

"It's breathtaking," said Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, a longtime champion and benefactor of the rift's conservation. "After all we've been through in recent years, there's no greater privilege than watching it grow bigger and bigger each day. There may be a few naysayers who worry that if it gets any wider, the whole thing will collapse upon itself and take millions of people down with it, but I for one am willing to take that chance."

Added Blankfein, "Besides, something tells me I'd probably make it out okay."

Link: the Onion

Monday, January 24, 2011

Photo Journal of Austin Series, Part 5: Night Light Water

Above Image by Meghann Sumner

Photo Journal of Austin Series, Part 5: Night Light Water
The following images were taken of the fountains at Butler Park, next to the Palmer Events Center and Dougherty Arts Center, overlooking the River. They were photographed by Meghann Sumner and Tod Gorman on an extraordinary Austin night, under a Full Moon.
This unique park features a fountain that displays programmed morning, afternoon and evening water shows. 

Images by Tod Gorman and Meghann Sumner:

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Could Climate Change Have Led To The Fall Of Rome? Image/Story of Intrigue - NPR

Ruins of the Villa of the Quintilii on the outskirts of Rome. Gregorio Borgia/AP

Rome may have fallen hundreds of years ago, but much of the civilization the Romans built still dots the landscape today. One team of scientists recently unearthed a different kind of Roman artifact that may hold a strange clue to the empire's downfall.

A study of tree rings recently published in the journal Science provides evidence of climate shifts that, perhaps not coincidentally, occurred from A.D. 250 to 550, a period better known as the fall of the Roman Empire...

"Like any large civilization — including the civilization we have today — it was highly dependent on predictability of natural resources," Mann says. "It was very heavily adapted to the climate conditions that had persisted for centuries."

But while the tree rings show variability, there is no data for why these climate changes occurred. Global warming contributes to modern climate change, but Rome fell from power long before industrialization.

"Presumably it was some combination of these external natural factors like solar variability and volcanic eruptions, and just the pure sort of chaotic variability of the climate system," Mann speculates.

This new research may not establish cause-and-effect, but it does contribute another factor to explain Rome's fall. It also creates another clue for scientists sleuthing their way into an uncertain climate future.

For the complete article, follow the Link: NPR

I have always noted a definitive parallel between the Roman Empire and the contemporary US domain (post WWII in particular). Unfortunately, America is not always so keen on learning from the past, or even owning up to it. An interesting note from that old liberal arts education - the average Empire throughout history has extinguished within a 300 year span (loosely) - you can do the math. I by no means intend this as some absurd apocalyptic wrangling, and nor do i view the end of US supremacy as a matter of fear or a necessarily devastating blow to humanity. In fact, to some degree, i hold to the possibly foolish notion of social romantics that believe we may yet be capable of evolving from the past and moving forward through progression, innovation, and modesty - into a bold new global reality. The following article is interesting within this context and the image is particularly striking.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Biutiful, by Iñárritu - Featured Film of Interest - Trailer

Biutiful (2010), the most recent film by Alejandro González Iñárritu (Amores Perros, 21 Grams) finally received a limited US release on December 29, 2010. Though it seems to be riding somewhat under the radar and receiving accusations from media sources as being "too dismal" (haha, big surprise when the cinematic standard is senseless 3D action) - the ambition of the film, as well as the grueling preparation and performance by Javier Bardem certainly makes this a film of intrigue and one worth viewing seriously. Bardem received Best Actor acknowledgments at Cannes 2010 for his role as Uxbal. Above is the Official Trailer and a short synopsis follows.


Biutiful is a love story between a father and his children. This is the journey of Uxbal, a conflicted man who struggles to reconcile fatherhood, love, spirituality, crime, guilt and mortality amidst the dangerous underworld of modern Barcelona. His livelihood is earned out of bounds, his sacrifices for his children know no bounds. Like life itself, this is a circular tale that ends where it begins. As fate encircles him and thresholds are crossed, a dim, redemptive road brightens, illuminating the inheritances bestowed from father to child, and the paternal guiding hand that navigates life's corridors, whether bright, bad - or biutiful.

Link to Official Site: www.biutiful-themovie.com

Enter the Void, by Gaspar Noe - Featured Film of Interest - Trailer

This is a trailer for Enter the Void, the long awaited follow up to Irreversible (2002), by Gaspar Noe - a young french director that has received much critical and theoretical attention, and just as much contention in the reception of his films (and one of the truly intriguing young auteurs of our time). He challenges the visceral limitations of cinema and perception and does not shy away from the notion of "shock" and potential discomfort. While some have declared his recent film a contemporary masterpiece, others have quickly shunned it as a disturbing assault on the senses. I dare say that Noe would relish in the divergent receptions. It first screened at Cannes in 2009 and has been gradually building international buzz through out it's festival run. It has recently been screening at various art houses and theaters throughout major US cities. I can attest to it currently having an extended run in NYC and Austin, and I highly recommend seeking it out in your area. I have no doubt that it will prove to be a truly exhilarating , challenging, and unique cinematic experience. I will be screening it at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz in downtown Austin tomorrow night - thoroughly excited - and will post a follow up soon after. I encourage you all to enter the void...

Follow the title link for more info from IFC Films.

Enter The Void - watch in full screen by clicking the tab in the lower right corner.

Monday, January 17, 2011

William S Burroughs - Words of Advice for Young People

Words of Advice for Young People

People often ask me if I have any words of advice for young people. Well, here are a few simple admonitions for young and old.

Never interfere in a boy and girl fight.

Beware of whores who say they don't want money. The hell they don't. What they mean is they want more money. Much more.

If you're doing business with a religious son of a bitch, get it in writing. His word isn't worth shit, not with the good Lord telling him how to fuck you on the deal.

Avoid fuckups. You all know the type. Anything they have anything to do with, no matter how good it sounds, turns into a disaster.

Do not offer sympathy to the mentally ill. Tell them firmly, "I am not paid to listen to this drivel. You are a terminal fool."

Now some of you may encounter the devil's bargain if you get that far. Any old soul is worth saving at least to a priest, but not every soul is worth buying. So you can take the offer as a compliment. They charge the easy ones first, you know, like money, all the money there is. But who wants to be the richest guy in some cemetery? Not much to spend it on, eh, Gramps? Getting too old to cut the mustard. Have you forgotten something, Gramps? In order to feel something, you have to be there. You have to be 18. You're not 18, you are 78. Old fool sold his soul for a strap-on.

How about an honorable bargain? "You always wanted to become a doctor. Now's your chance. Why, you could have become a great healer and benefit humanity. What's wrong with that?" Just about everything. There are no honorable bargains involving exchange of qualitative merchandise like souls. Just quantitative merchandise like time and money. So piss off, Satan, and don't take me for dumber than I look.

As an old junk pusher told me, "Watch whose money you pick up."

~William S. Burroughs

William S Burroughs - Relevant Quotes, Images of Intrigue, and Spoken Word

Burroughs with Kerouac

"Nothing is true, everything is permitted." ~ William S Burroughs

"Most of the trouble in this world has been caused by folks who can't mind their own business, because they have no business of their own to mind, any more than a smallpox virus has." ~ William S Burroughs

“Love! What is it? Most natural painkiller. What there is... LOVE”
William S Burroughs (final written words)

Follow the link for info on the recent acclaimed Documentary,William S Burroughs: A Man Within (2010).

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Beautiful Tune for a Grey Day, and Blog of Interest - Some Kind of Awesome

Just a beautiful tune for a grey day... thanks to a good friend for bringing this my way. Damon Albarn and part of the Gorillaz performed this xx cover live on BBC Radio 1 in November, 2010. It was posted to my newest blog of interest, Some Kind of Awesome - highly recommended music blog with endless posts of live performances and audio tracks from some of today's more innovative and progressive musicians. Enjoy.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Few Words for Willie's Arresting Officer...

I never thought that I would be posting a clip from TMZ, but this is too good.

Snoop, I couldn't agree more... and too funny. Living in Austin, I cross Willie Nelson Blvd on a regular basis - it cuts through the heart of downtown. Now, I may be wrong, but I'm relatively certain that Officer "blah blah blah" doesn't have a major street named after him in the capital of Texas. What was he thinking? No, officer, you are not important enough or qualified to arrest Willie Nelson on marijuana charges.
Also interesting, the arresting officer reported 6 oz. removed from the tour bus, of which Willie claimed all (a good old ethical smoker and friend). Anything over 4 oz. in Texas carries a minimum, mandatory time served. Funny, when the official weigh-in was reported, it came in right under 4 oz. - haha.
The charges came in late November, 2010. Willie was back on the road and playing a show by the next evening, and, by the end of December, was in DC at the 33rd annual Kennedy Center Honors, hosted and presented by President Obama. Any questions on who is more important in Texas (or in the U.S.) between Willie and the arresting officer? Really, what was he thinking?

Willie is currently playing The Fillmore in San Fran, and I have heard from a first hand source that the show (last night) was exceptional. For more info, visit Willie's website through the link below.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bressonian Quote #17 - Notes from a Master Filmmaker

"An actor (theatre actor) in cinematography might as well be in a foreign country. He/She does not speak its language." - Robert Bresson

Thursday, January 6, 2011

States’ Rights, but to What? - Featured Editorial and Social Commentary - NY Times

One hundred and fifty years ago today South Carolina declared its independence from the United States. The move had been in the offing since early November, when Abraham Lincoln’s election led the state’s leaders to fear that Washington would begin to restrict slavery in the territories and in their own state. That was the proximate cause, at least; there was more to it. Beyond the election, South Carolina was no longer happy in a union with the free states, where northern opponents of slavery were allowed to openly denounce the “peculiar institution” in Congress and in their home states.

It’s true, then, that South Carolina seceded over states’ rights: though, as neo-confederates are loath to admit, the specific right in question concerned the ownership of human chattel. One of the South’s persistent complaints was the northern states would not vigorously cooperate in the return of fugitive slaves and that the free states allowed antislavery organizations to flourish.

In other words, for South Carolina, slavery and states’ rights were not mutually exclusive; in fact, they were the same thing. Today too few people understand the intricate legal history that connects slavery to states’ rights — and as a result a needless debate continues, 150 years after secession began...

...South Carolinians no longer trusted the national government, the free states or the Constitution. In that sense, secession was most definitely about states’ rights. But it is vital to remember just which rights South Carolina was committed to defending.

For the complete editorial follow the link: The NY Times

This adds a bit of clarification and context to the concept, historical origins, and political rhetoric around "states' rights." Growing up in SC (rarely admitted), i consistently heard the polite but veiled sentiment of revisionist history - that the southern secession was over "states' rights," not slavery. The integral part of that perspective that was so often omitted by SC-loving adults (and repeated by their children) was the fact that the only state right that was of concern to SC was the institution of slavery. If you read the entirety of the Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union, the predominant reason for secession and the only specific delineation becomes quite clear - and the myth of any other explanation disintegrates. The above article further develops and defends that fact.

Also, it is quite eery how much the social/political divisiveness of that sad period in US history parallels the current cultural trends and political landscape of this country. Ignorance holds a strong ground - sad.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

First Listen: Iron And Wine Introduces 'Kiss Each Other Clean' - NPR

Like The Shepherd's Dog, Kiss Each Other Clean showcases Iron and Wine's subtly exploratory, even meandering side. Hear the increasingly exploratory band perform its new album at New York City's Greene Space. Tickets for the surprise show were scarce, but fans got to watch the intimate performance on NPR.org.

Above is the audio from a stripped down performance and interview with Sam Beam/Iron and Wine from WNYC's Soundcheck.

First Listen: Iron And Wine's 'Kiss Each Other Clean'

The Concert Is Over, But The Audio Will Be Available For Download Soon

January 5, 2011

Back in 2002, Iron and Wine was a "band" in name only — a vehicle for the whispered acoustic bedroom recordings of a college film professor named Sam Beam. Beam's rustic musings sang of death and damnation, love and redemption, while packing a surprising degree of momentum and narrative thrust into what only sounded like gentle folk songs.

If it weren't for Beam's softly engaging croon, the Iron and Wine of the forthcoming Kiss Each Other Clean wouldn't always be recognizable to Beam fans from eight or nine years ago. For one thing, he's evolved into a full-fledged bandleader, following 2007's engagingly springy The Shepherd's Dog with a sound that feels fuzzier, even dirtier. The opening seconds of Kiss Each Other Clean sound like no preceding Iron & Wine record — "Walking Far From Home" swaps out the clean acoustic guitars for layers of fuzz and subtly processed vocals — though the album feels like a natural extension of its marvelous predecessor, and even lets rays of sunlight peek in during songs like "Tree by the River."

Like The Shepherd's Dog, Kiss Each Other Clean showcases Iron and Wine's subtly exploratory, even meandering side. But fans of the group needn't wait until the album's Jan. 25 release date to hear the new innovations for themselves: Wednesday afternoon, Beam and his bandmates appeared on WNYC's Soundcheck to announce a surprise live performance of the new album at The Greene Space in New York City that night.

The audio recording will be available for on-demand listening, starting Thursday.

Today and the Continuum - reflections and observations

So concerned with the implications of the present on the future, and the demarcation of that future, we lose our days one by one to a concept, that by all rational logic, does not exist.

- Obviously, i am not intending to dismiss the very rational assumption that a "future" does exist, or that preparations/aspirations are futile. However, the daily tasks and experience of life harness autonomous joy that is too often forgotten or neglected. Smile for today, don't expect tomorrow, but be prepared to continue the journey if it comes.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Bressonian Quote #16 - Notes from a Master Filmmaker

"CINEMA films (theatrical) are historical documents whose place is in the archives: how a play was acted in 19. . by Mr X, Miss Y."
- Robert Bresson