Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbyes


What a great sequence the tv station TCM has put together for remebering who passed away in film this year.

Icing


Stagg's sister gave us the cutest little ornament. It's a porcelain wedding cake commemorating this year. I like it because it's something I wouldn't have thought to get...and I love cake images and shapes...and it's so sentimental. We got a new camera. Yippee...and it's the same kind Tuffy P had given us a few years ago...so it was easy to adjust to on the computer. Below is my cell phone version. The cell phone camera has served us well...but it's nice to use this new one.

Some of my cake paintings...



And a CAKE video...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What Is Time? One Year in 40 Seconds


I used to have a kind of love-hate relationship with the Sunday night Walt Disney program. I don't know if it's still on tv but when I was a kid, I was always very fussy about the weeks offerings. I didn't like a lot of the stories because they seemed like watered down versions of a movie. I think they probably were feature films made into an hour minus commercials. BUT what I did like...and the reason I would always check into the show was two subjects. When bears (or raccoons or any furry creature) broke into a cabin or house and tore the place apart. I thought that scenario was the funniest thing on the planet. When the bears tore open cannisters of flour and had them all over their faces, and knocked over chairs. My sister and I would be laughing hysterically. I guess I was always an anarchist.

The other subject matter I loved was time lapse photography. I couldn't get enough of it. Roses opening, streets filling with morning traffic, emptying, rush hour dusk again...stars in the night sky moving. I could watch time lapse photography for hours. I was so into it...that once I saw John Ott do a presentation. John Ott is an inventor and an amateur scientist who pioneered time-lapse photography. I saw him do a presentatin in Victoria and his research on light absolutely fascinated me. In fact, I joined a group of folks who approached stores and public spaces to pressure them into changing all their lighting systems to "full-spectrum light"...something that John Ott had begun devoting his life to. Ott was one of the first researchers to investigate the relationship of light exposure to mental health or emotional states. Ott also realized, and incorporated into his films, that plants moved to light...some of his films had "dancing flowers" by adjusting the light sources he filmed plants to music. I imagine there must be other Sunday night Disney fans who remember these spectacular films? During this presentation Dr. John Ott showed us several of his films and how he had made them...he often designed and McGyvered all his own equipment!

I saw John Ott when my daughter was really young and I was a cocktail waitress on weekends and taking two courses at UVic (I was a terrible student...don't go get all impressed or anything) and very much wondering...how am I going to do all the things I dream of doing? I swear...his dedication and the fact that he had built all these apparatuses in his own house with his own money and experimented outside any formal academy completely inspired me. He was really one of the most interesting people I've ever met and he gave me the idea that we don't have to go a traditional route to practice what we love. Just get obsessed and stay obsessed. (Iowa Bob, via John Irving)

Dr. John Ott: one of my heroes.

RELATED LINKS:

Full-Spectrum Light
My Ivory Cellar by Jon Ott

Monday, December 29, 2008

Cat Scratch Fever


We did this one with Saraover Bailey's, coffee and cheese and crackers. It was nutzen.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ghetto Tech


What kind of music do you footwork to? Ghetto Tech.

Eartha Baby


Another Goddess enters the Otherworld. Good friends of mine named their daughter after this amazing performer. We saw her a couple times in the 80's and 90's.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Take That Canada!


New Rule: The rest of the world can go back to being completely jealous of America. Our majority white country just freely elected a black President, something no other democracy has ever done. Take that, Canada! Where's your Nubian warrior president? Your head of state is a boring white dude named Stephen Harper, and mine is a kickass black ninja named Barack Hussein Obama!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Harold Pinter, R.I.P.


British Nobel laureate Harold Pinter — who produced some of his generation's most influential dramas and later became a staunch critic of the U.S.-led war in Iraq — has died, his widow said Thursday.

Pinter died Wednesday after a long battle with cancer, according to his second wife Antonia Fraser.
In recent years he had seized the platform offered by his 2005 Nobel Literature prize to denounce President George W. Bush, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the war in Iraq.

But he was best known for exposing the complexities of the emotional battlefield.
His writing featured cool, menacing pauses in dialogue that reflected his characters' deep emotional struggles and spawned a new adjective found in several dictionaries: "Pinter-esque."

"Pinter restored theater to its basic elements: an enclosed space and unpredictable dialogue, where people are at the mercy of each other and pretense crumbles," the Nobel Academy said. "With a minimum of plot, drama emerges from the power struggle and hide-and-seek of interlocution."


Harold Pinter was a force of nature. I always loved plays and like a lot of kids was in high school productions. I took a class in university at Calgary once in theatre and it was a total blast...and for ten years I participated in comedy improv workshops...in Toronto and was in a small troupe callled "Zuzu's Petals" with my friends Suz and Anita.

Harold Pinter had several of his plays produced into movies...if I was going to recommend any of his movie scripts as an introduction I would recommend Betrayal starring Jeremy Irons. I saw this when I was taking film workshops and in art classes at York...and I was so blown away by how the story was told and the way we slowly came to know the characters. In many ways...I am not a huge fan of drama storyarcs...but Pinter seemed to compel me. He also adapted the novel The French Lieutenant's Woman to the screen absolutely brilliantly. (I hope he got an Oscar for that...if not, he should have!)

I had no idea he was married to the indomitable Antonia Frazer. Right now...as I look to my bookshelf I see her work on The Gunpowder Plot, King Arther and the Round Table, Marie Antoinette and Mary Queen of Scots. This couple was off the chain huh? What an amazing pair they must have made at a dinner party! Antonia Frazer has often been one of my fantasy dinner quests...

Harold Pinter and Antona Frazer getting hitched in the 60's.

I worked in a nightclub at one point in the 80's and there was a server that I had a wee crush on. He was an actor...and like many women...I decided the best thing to do was to dive into reading all the plays I could...in order to strike up a casual conversation about O'Neil or Heathcote Williams. You know over a coffee break. I read the entire works of writers like Pinter, Beckett and Mamet.

Harold Pinter was always fascinating to me because he was so concerned with very specific qualities about the human condition. Reading him was like entering a group therapy session. He could be grueling and heartbreaking. Just today it was very moving to read his obit and how he had stood up to that massive disappointment Tony Blair over the Iraq war. Good on you Harold Pinter!

You know, that actor who I read all the plays for...never did ever notice I was even alive heh heh...but I think there is something interesting about women. We get so involved in certain fantasies in our crushes and often...this is a secret I'm revealing about my gender...we often study at great length the interests of our beloved...and like alchemists we have the magic power to become what we admire from afar. Even though I never did hook up with that actor/waiter...I learned so much about plays and stories. I often laugh at how a weird little crush got me so involved in reading so many plays. I mean who reads plays? Ten years later that fellows best friend had a small part in a short film I wrote and produced called Poodle...and I thought about Harold Pinter when I wrote it...and the weird full circle of inspirations.

Sometimes...hell most times...we shouldn't look at relationships or events that "don't work out" as failures but what inner levels of learning they give us. Who knew a cute waiter would change reading habits...

I'm going to have a toast to Harold Pinter today...and to all the cute actor/waiters in the world...skoll!

Where Booklovers Live


This Is Where We Live from 4th Estate on Vimeo.
This film is awesome, I hope you check it out. The film was produced in stop-motion over 3 weeks in Autumn 2008. Each scene was shot on a home-made dolly by an insane bunch of animators; you can see time-lapse films of each sequence being prepared and shot in the other films...click on the yellow text to see "making of" videos....

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tinsel Time



Poor Stagg.this is one of ur many offroading adventures with shopping cart this week. At one point after we were coming home with turkey and ham...dogs kept running up to us. It's like they knew we had a hundred bucks of meat in the cart.


Ths is our smug pretentious artist decoration..."so conceptual"! STAR.......

Yes, that is product placement. I bought this Coke decoration for a friend of mine. He was a really talented and cool cinematographer...who filmed one of my shorts called The Slut's Bedroom. Richard was really into Coke, collected Coke bottles from around the world and I thought this xmas ornament was cool. He passed away before I could give it to him. I had forgotten I brought this with me and it was nice to think of Richard with this little object.

Big special hugs to friends and thanks for stopping by...the friendships and visits from blog friends are near and dear to me. Stay safe and have fun and I hope all holiday wishes and magic dreams come true for you and yours. XXXXOOOO

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Lawyer's Holiday Greetings

I got the following e-mail from my friend Greg...yep a lawyer...

Please accept with no obligation, express, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally-conscious, socially responsible, low-strees, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the Winter Holiday practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, and/or secular practices of your choice, with due and appropriate respect for the religious and/or secular persuasions and practices of others (generally considered to be members of the homo sapiens species and recognized as such) or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

I also wish you a fiscally-successful, personally-fulfilling, and medically-uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally-accepted calendar year 2009, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great (not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country or is the only "AMERICA" in the western hemisphere), and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, or sexual preference of the wishee.

By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms: This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others, is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent Holiday Greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher...

In other words, have a wonderful holiday and a happy new year!

Mind Over Matter


I know. I don't believe I'm outside either. Actually, I took this on Monday or Tuesday last week. It's snowed since then and has also dropped to -21 celcius a couple of times. I've been outside every day for at least an hour or two running errands, getting exercise etc. It's funny how weather is kind of relative. I love snow...I'd rather be snowboarding or skiing than walking city streets but it is also really beautiful and the air feels so clean and pure. The weather in the past 8 days has been the worst weather for a few years... and it wasn't even officially winter yet! It's funny how some people just go all insular and won't go outside or they cancel engagements when the weather gets cold or snowy. The streets are really quiet. Meanwhile...if I think back to being on the slopes for skiing...everyone is smiling and laughing and happy. The more snow the better. This past week...people are solemn. Many stores or places I walked to are "why are you so happy?" The answer "it's so beautiful out". It was only colder when I was in Banff at -27 Celcius four years ago and two years ago in northern Cananda where it was -30 Celcius. At the point it is right now...-2 Farenheit...it's all kind of just cold. don't really seem to make much difference once it gets this cold. You pretty much have to dress and prepare in the same way for -20 Celcius as -30 Celcius.

Today it's -2 Farenheit which is -18 Celcius. All our windows are frozen and have ice on them INSIDE! I've got to go outside and find some plates. Going to some second hand stores for dishes. And to the bank. It's very sunny and very very cold out. should be interesting...

There is the UPS store where I was aiming...to send the finale of Survivor over to England. The U.K. used to get Survivor...but no longer so I've been sending episodes to A Blog About Nowt and Red's Page and this is the very postal outlet I go to if the Post Office is closed. I got to here and had forgot their address. I couldn't believe it, so had to return next day to send the parcel. We have mailed out a bunch of parcels and sent some UPS too. I've been tracking them and they have all been delayed. So if Asterisk or Mister Anchovy is reading this, your parcels seem to be delayed because of weather and season. Oops sorry.

I picked up a coffee and stopped in for a manicure. Left Buddha a chocolate chip cookie too.

We have to go to Whole Foods tonight...and we walk. If we don't walk we don't get any exercise. Takes about an hour and a half each way. We have to go tonight because we have folk coming for dinner on Wednesday! I've got butter out for cookies on the table...but it's so cold in here that the butter isn't really softening. We have a huge shopping cart that basically we've been dragging over snow banks and it's really been a funny adventure at times.

Fortunately I got new huge combat/construction style boots last week so trucking around has been a breeze!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tarantino's Mind

What will be the impact of the financial crisis on artists, galleries, and auction houses?

Ha HA Ha Ha HA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!


Ah....HA HA HA HA HAHAHAHAHA HA HA HA!!!

I was writing a really tender reverie induced post about winter, childhood memories and snow...but it will wail till later because I got this article about the economy and the arts in my The New Republic Newsletter...

I've just begun to read the article...but just the idea that artists would even notice any economic change either rise or drop is hilarious.

We don't notice that shit...99.9% of us are always living hand to mouth.

Because 99.9% of people don't go to local galleries, look at art, buy art think about art or read about art.


Anyways...I'm going to read this article...and then work on my tender childhood memories of snow and snow activities...

Art, so it seems to me, represents the triumph of private feeling over public pressures, or at least the ability of private feeling to assert itself in the face of public pressures and public values. I would argue that true art is always characterized by its unto-itself-ness, its freestanding-ness, its independence. This is not to say that the arts are untouched by the rest of life, only that they are affected by it in their own fashion. I cannot insist too much on this point. It is certainly a marginal view at present, when most discussions about contemporary art tend to focus on the artist's social and economic success. Artists such as Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons are famous for being famous, and what generally interests people about their work is not what they do but why the particular sort of thing that they do has found favor in the marketplace. Such questions, which keep journalists working overtime, are by no means regarded as merely journalistic. Contextualism has a great deal of intellectual cachet: in the past generation, the work of artists from Rembrandt to Picasso has been interpreted by some of the most widely respected art historians as fueled not by imaginative necessity but by market forces, and the argument goes far beyond the perfectly reasonable supposition that some artists have been savvy salesmen.

It is true that there is no artist who has ever stood entirely apart from his or her time. But whatever the complexities of the artist's shifting social and economic situation, the artistic act is also an individualistic impulse rooted in the sense of self that is at the heart of the human condition. Meyer Schapiro believed this to be the case not only among the artists of Romantic Europe but even among the sculptors and painters of Romanesque Europe, and although his views remain controversial, I am convinced that they are incontrovertible. If you believe that art is, in all times and places, a reflection of the possibilities of individuality, then you must embrace this as an a priori conviction, a matter of philosophy.


If I insist on this point, it is because when I go to the galleries and the museums I am looking for something with the power to push away the particulars of the moment, to demonstrate the power of the individual as an arbiter of his or her own imagination. We do not need artists to tell us that these are perilous economic times. And we do not need art to tell us that Barack Obama's victory signals a magnificent new direction in American political life. Art is not a mirror of society but an essential part of the fabric of society, with a unique role to play, and more than anything else its role has to do with affirming the stubborn particularity of a person's experience.

Related Links:

-2004 review of Elizabeth Payton
-some examples of Mary Heilmann's paintings.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Salvation


I thought it didn't get much better when there was a tv show of Terminator. I had no idea there was also another film in the works. And with Christian Bale. Yippee! The huge machine looks terrifying. The new movie, Salvation, the fourth in the series of films is directed by McG so it should have a lot of dynamic action and good storyline.

The tv show, The Big Bang Theory knows it's nerds and has several references to the Terminator movies and tv show.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bettie Page R.I.P. but Immortal Goddess


I wonder how many tattoos there are in the world of Bettie Page. I have a few friends who have tats of her and she had a huge resurgence with punks and goths in the 1980's and 1990's. Page was from Tennesse and was unique for her photos in sexy outfits with a big smile on her face.

"I was not trying to be shocking, or to be a pioneer. I wasn’t trying to change society, or to be ahead of my time. I didn’t think of myself as liberated, and I don’t believe that I did anything important. I was just myself. I didn’t know any other way to be, or any other way to live." Bettie Page.


Gretchen Moll is excellent as the pin-up girl in this recent movie.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Is It Possible Canada Might Finally Have Another Decent Prime Minister?


When I first heard that Michael Ignatieff was going into political civic service...I was like what? The same Michael Ignatieff I've been reading his books for twenty years? No way.

Way.

Why?

I mean this man is called a "public intellectual" in fancy magazines. He has everything...why on earth would he want the crummy job of politics.

Holy shit...he might actually be doing this because he wants to be of service! Like an old fashioned Canadian politician!!! Like my hero Tommy Douglas! Like Pierre Trudeau!

Now listen...I haven't always agreed with everything Michael Ignatieff has written in his philosophical works, sometimes I REALLY haven't agreed with his perspective... but I have a huge respect for his thinking and his books. The Right's Revolution, The Russian Album , Blood and Belonging: Journeys Into the New Nationalism , Warrior's Honour: Ethnic War and the Modern Conscience, and I even met him at a film party once. (yes, he's even made films..what?!) This guy is a force of nature...in a brainiac sort of way. And he has been able to apologize for some of his mistakes publicly and he gets my respect for being openminded and listening to his peers: us.

Here are a few things he has said in writing...

"As a former denizen of Harvard, I've had to learn that a sense of reality doesn't always flourish in elite institutions. It is the street virtue par excellence. Bus drivers can display a shrewder grasp of what's what than Nobel Prize winners. The only way any of us can improve our grasp of reality is to confront the world every day and learn, mostly from our mistakes, what works and what doesn't. Yet even lengthy experience can fail us in life and in politics. Experience can imprison decision-makers in worn-out solutions while blinding them to the untried remedy that does the trick.

Having taught political science myself, I have to say the discipline promises more than it can deliver. In practical politics, there is no science of decision-making. The vital judgments a politician makes every day are about people: whom to trust, whom to believe and whom to avoid. The question of loyalty arises daily: Who will betray and who will stay true? Having good judgment in these matters, having a sound sense of reality, requires trusting some very unscientific intuitions about people.

A sense of reality is not just a sense of the world as it is, but as it might be. Like great artists, great politicians see possibilities others cannot and then seek to turn them into realities. To bring the new into being, a politician needs a sense of timing, of when to leap and when to remain still. Bismarck famously remarked that political judgment was the ability to hear, before anyone else, the distant hoofbeats of the horse of history." Michael Ignatieff in the New York Times article "Getting Iraq Wrong".

(A slightly different side of Ignatieff is something he wrote about the public mourning for Princess Diana. Maybe the UK Posse of Red and Nowt will find this interesting?) Muppie and Gardenia and anyone who has gotten involved in political campaigns might find all of his stuff interesting.

"Rights alone cannot create community feeling - you need a common history and shared experience for that. But living in a rights culture can deepen one component of community, which is trust. It's not full loving trust of the kind you get in good families or happy marriages. A rights culture is properly poised between faith and suspicion: we trust each other just enough to argue out our differences, but not so much as to forget the possibility that others may be tempted to tread upon our rights."

"Human-rights commitments are on the outermost arc of our obligations, but they can be only as strong as our innermost commitments."

"Rights are not abstractions. They are the very heart of our community and the very core of our values. We have them because those who went before us fought for them, and in some cases died for them. Our commitment to rights is a commitment to our ancestors. We owe it to them to maintain the vitality of the right to dissent, the right to belong, and the right to be different." ...from his speech...The Right's Revolution

Is it possible we might have a philosopher king in our future? A real public servant?

Eat your heart out Harper!

What Is It?





Thursday, December 11, 2008

I Miss The Cuties


Bits is sleeping under the holiday tree and Hawkeye is in a cardboard box. Awwww..I miss them...

Perfect Cookies

I got this awesome cookie recipe from a bookclub friend... I only cooked them between 10-12 minutes...I used really fresh organic spices...combined with buttery softness and chewy-perfect!

Giant Soft Ginger Cookies Recipe
INGREDIENTS
4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons ground ginger*
2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon*
1 teaspoon ground cloves*
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups butter (3 sticks), room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
3/4 cup coarse sugar or granulated sugar
* Can substitute the ground ginger, cinnamon, and cloves for an equal amount of pumpkin pie spice.
METHOD
1 In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt; set aside.
2 In a large mixing bowl beat together butter with the 2 cups granulated sugar. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and molasses. Beat in the flour mixture, using a wooden spoon.
3 Shape dough into 2-inch balls using 1/4 cup dough. Roll balls in the 3/4 cup coarse or granulated sugar. Place about 2-1/2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
4 Bake in a 350°F oven for 12 to 14 minutes or until cookies are light brown and puffed. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Store in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Makes two dozen 4-inch cookies.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Permission To Trust Each Other And Shop...


"Rousseau wrote about a hypothetical situation in which two hunters must cooperate to kill a deer. If a rabbit hops by one of the hunters, he would probably pursue the rabbit 'without scruple,' said Rousseau. Although the rabbit makes a less satisfying meal, at least it's a guaranteed meal. On the other hand, the deer isn't a guaranteed meal, because neither hunter can be absolutely sure that he can trust the other to help kill it. In the end, though, when one hunter chases a rabbit, collectively both hunters are worse off: while one gets the rabbit, both lose any prospect of getting a deer.

"For families and companies in this economic crisis, the choice isn't between a deer and a rabbit, of course, but between spending and saving. Because we can't trust other people to spend, we do the economic version of chasing the rabbit - we keep our money in our pockets. But this individually cautious behavior worsens the collective economic crisis, and as the crisis gets worse, we're even more afraid and even less willing to trust others to spend."

from Globe and Mail by Thomas Homer-Dixon...

The main reason deflationary cycles are so diabolically
hard for policymakers to stop is that governments
can’t force people to trust each other. Instead, all they
can do is inject spending directly into the economy,
through increased unemployment benefits (because
the jobless spend almost all the money they get) and
infrastructure investment, and hope that by putting a
floor under economic demand, people and companies
will eventually become less fearful and start to spend
again.

Governments need to move fast, because this crisis,
which has taken several forms already, is about to
change form again. In the last few months, we’ve
move from a seizing up of credit markets to the
collapse of economic demand in the mainstream
economy. Soon we could see a string of sovereign
defaults of poor and emerging economies that can’t
meet their debt obligations.
Even worse, hundreds of millions of previously poor
people from Hungary and Turkey to India and China
-- recent arrivals in the global middle class who’ve
benefited from an economic boom fueled by endless
quantities of cheap credit -- are about to see their
standard of living fall of a cliff. Around the world,
Western-style capitalism will be discredited, as it’s
perceived to have wiped out people’s jobs and life
savings. Our global financial crisis could then morph
into a global political crisis, as extremists of all stripes
– neo-Nazis in Eastern Europe, hyper-nationalists
in China, and Hindu fundamentalists in India –
accumulate popular support and power.

So...go save the world today and SHOP!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

What I'm Reading...


I had a lucky moment in my day doing errands...I noticed a local dvd rental shop was selling some second hand dvds so I went to check them out. I got a couple movies and as I was leaving I noticed some books. I asked if they were for sale...they seemed out of place...and the fellow says "you can have those". Um really? I took home three BFI publications and two other film crit books. I have a few of the BFI series, and they're great. These books were brand new, the owner of the dvd store said his girlfriend worked in publishing...and these were stuff kicking around. Yippee, lucky me! Forty Years after it first appeared, Singin' in the Rain remains one of the best loved films ever made. Yet despite dazzling success with the public, it never received its fair share of praise from the critics. Gene Kelly's genius as a performer is there for all to see. What is less acknowledged is his innovatory contribution as director. Peter Wollen has finally done justice to this landmark film. In a brilliant shot-by-shot analysis of the famous title number, illustrated by specially produced frame stills, he shows how skillfully Kelly binds the dance and musical elements into the narrative, and how he successfully combines two distinctive traditions within American Dance, tap and ballet.
Scriptwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and indeed Kelly himself, were all under threat from the McCarthyism which menaced Hollywood at this time. The ethos in which the film was conceived could not long survive in the era of blacklisting. Wollen argues convincingly that Singin' in the Rain was the high point in the careers of those who worked on it.


I was excited for this one...many years ago, Mister Anchovy gave me one of the best books about horror film traditions called The Monster Show and this one seems to be as much fun. The terror film, with puzzling, disturbing, multivalent images, often leads us into regions that are strange, disorienting, yet somehow familiar; and for all the crude and melodramatic and morally questionable forms in which we so often encounter it, it does speak of something true and important, and offers us encounters with hidden aspects of ourselves and our world. So writes S. S. Prawer in his concise and penetrating study of the horror filmfrom The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Frankenstein, to Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Omen. After a brief history of the horror genre in film, Prawer offers detailed analyses of specific sequences from various films, such as Murnaus Nosferatu. He discusses continuities between literary and cinematic tales, and shows what happens when one is transformed into the other. Unpatronizing and scholarly, Prawer draws on a wide range of sources in order to better situate a genre that is both enormously popular with contemporary audiences and of increasing critical importance.

Rick Schmidt's Feature Filmmaking At Used Car Prices is a classic. I read the following manifesto by the Dogma guys out loud to Stagg...it's quite hilarious...Schmidt gives it as an example of how some independant filmmakers have tried to avoid falling into the trap of blatant commercialism:

"I swear to submit to the following set of rules drawn up and confirmed by DOGME 95:

1. Shooting must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in (if a particular prop is necessary for the story, a location must be chosen where this prop is to be found).
2. The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa. (Music must not be used unless it occurs where the scene is being shot).
3. The camera must be hand-held. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted. (The film must not take place where the camera is standing; shooting must take place where the film takes place).
4. The film must be in colour. Special lighting is not acceptable. (If there is too little light for exposure the scene must be cut or a single lamp be attached to the camera).
5. Optical work and filters are forbidden.
6. The film must not contain superficial action. (Murders, weapons, etc. must not occur.)
7. Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden. (That is to say that the film takes place here and now.)
8. Genre movies are not acceptable.
9. The film format must be Academy 35 mm.
10. The director must not be credited.
Furthermore I swear as a director to refrain from personal taste! I am no longer an artist. I swear to refrain from creating a "work", as I regard the instant as more important than the whole. My supreme goal is to force the truth out of my characters and settings. I swear to do so by all the means available and at the cost of any good taste and any aesthetic considerations.
Thus I make my VOW OF CHASTITY."
Copenhagen, Monday 13 March 1995

On behalf of DOGME 95


Lars von Trier (Breaking The Waves, The Kingdom) Thomas Vinterberg (The Celebration, Dear Wendy)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Editing


This image of an early draft of one of Cormac McCarthy's novels is part of the archives the author gave (sold, donated) to Texas State. (click on image to read)

I think this is juicy stuff. When the novel No Country For Old Men came out...some readers thought McCarthy was losing it and had several plot holes in the novel. One of these assumed plot holes was the line "I sent one boy to the gaschamber in Huntsville."

Texas didn't have gaschambers for it's executions. What is fascinating to me in this kind of archive...is that McCarthy seems to have made a conscious decision to change the line form the more accurate therefore "realistic" electric chair to the gas chamber. I wonder why?

Electric Chair by Andy Warhol.

New Mexico gaschamber for executions.

A new Cormac McCarthy Room is under
construction at the Southwestern Writers Collec-
tion on the Alkek Library’s seventh floor. The
reading room will be equipped for exhibits and
general research, which is expected to be brisk
once the archives are processed and made avail-
able. Plans are in the works for events surrounding
the archives’ debut, and we’ll announce things as
they are scheduled.

Cormac invited us to breakfast the day we
were to pick up his papers, but the snow and ice
made the road to his house suspect — to me at
least, unaccustomed as I am to such conditions
and feeling responsible for the staff. So, we erred
on the side of caution and waited for the snow
to melt a bit. I hadn’t seen Cormac in years; he
hauling the Rubbermaid bins out to the vans and
loading them up.

We said our goodbyes and drove straight south,
hung a left when we were out of the snow, and
headed back to San Marcos, arriving around 1 in
the morning to offload at the library. Although road
weary, Steve, Beverly, Katie and I were euphoric,
feeling the import of the trip — so pleasant and
light-hearted but filled with deep resonance for
The Wittliff Collections, for the university and
for McCarthy scholars all over the world, many of
whom have postponed books and dissertations
waiting for us to open this amazing archive to the
public, which we will do come fall.


Oh yeah, btw, I read somewhere McCarthy was asked why he made the execution a gaschamber when Texas ddn't have gaschambers...he said he put it there to see if his readers were paying attention, or something along that line...funny...

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Odetta-R.I.P.


I've seen Odetta a number of times over the years. She had an incredible playing style and voice.

Odetta, the classically trained folk, blues and gospel singer who used her powerfully rich and dusky voice to champion African American music and civil rights issues for more than half a century starting in the folk revival of the 1950s, has died.

Goals...Plans...Vision Board...


Okay, there is a dream apartment place in chicago...I love this place. See, it's the one that is contemporay design...lots of cement, lots of glass...lots of plants and balconies. I'm crazy about it...we'd really love to have two places, one in downtown Toronto and one in downtown Chicago. We had these lists of things we want to do. Like this major plan to go to Europe: one month in the England, one week in Ireland, one month in Italy, Florence, Rome, Venice, one week in Stockholm, one week in Paris, and a week in Germany.

That's not asking for much right? I know...how are we ever going to get organized to do such a trip. Well...we're working on it...maybe by 2010?

So...we started these lists and we also decided lets make a poster with pictures of what we want to do and stuff. I'd heard the notion of a "vision board" which not just a list...but pictures. Okay. Go ahead and laugh. I know...it sounds hopelessly new age. Whatever. So we made one. I imagine most people make one the sixe of two feet or so. Not Stagg...ours takes up one wall of our kitchen above the computer. It's hilarious. Anyways...I took a cell phone pic of this building in downtown Chicago the other day. It's going on the vision board! Meanwhile...Stagg had cut out a collage saying "stacks and stacks of dvds and cds". Okay. Well last week...he comes home from work with dozens and dozens...of cds and dvds. Not only did we get two seasons of The West Wing, The Closer and some documentary movies... we got music dvd of Neil Young and piles of cds...he got them from work. Somehow there was a pile in managements offices of all these products so they sent them home with the staff. We got cds of The Grateful Dead, Velvet Revolver, Tony Bennett, Bjork, Tori Amos, Van Morrison, The Commodores, Mary J. Blige, Sam Cooke, T.Pain...it goes on...

Stagg was like, "oh man...this is from the vision board!" And it's not just any cds...it's actually music we listen to!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Winter Holiday Help!


We are probably going out to get a tree this evening. I haven't decorated a tree in about 4 years...which is really weird for me. I have some decorations from my grandmother...in a storage room in Toronto. Erp.

So...I'm looking around online for cool hand made decoration maquettes and instructions. We have about two dozen tree bobbles. I've made cranberry strings in the past...but I found it to be a bloody pain. Literally, like the needle always goes into my fingers rather than the cranberries.

(could I make a cranberry string with a hot glue gun I wonder?)

You all know my feeling about corn. I only like to eat corn very seldomly and only organic. So no strings of corn for this holiday tree.

I also want to find a Menorah...I looked around online and found some interesting ones. I'd like to get a 60's era modern silver Menorah.

So far, the best handmade ornaments are...yep...Martha Stewarts. She has ideas for making so mnany decorations out of recycled materials it's actually pretty amazing. Office supplies, old holiday chards cut and reclaimed. Below is a tree decorated with cotton balls!



Handmade decorations on Martha Stewart.

Art Deco Menorah.

Here are some cool Menorah designs on the following websites:

-This is a beautiful olive branch Menorah.
-This blog has some awesome contemporary designed Menorahs!
-Here is a site with whimsical Menorahs



Any tree ornament ideas? Any recipes you HAVE to have during the holidays?

Stagg's parents are coming for supper on Dec. 24th...ambulance!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Mise En Place


Cooking lessons. Yep, we occassionally take some cooking lessons. Now...I'm a pretty good cook. I just don't like to tell anyone because then they might want to hire me. Working in a professional kitchen is a special kind of hell not covered by Dante. The thing is...well it's two things. Stagg doesn't know how to cook. And...I feel there is always something else to learn. I feel as if no matter how much you practice something or know about it...the day you aren't open-minded to learning is the day you might as well pack it in...this goes for anything, career, hobby, art, housework, cooking etc. I have been teaching Stagg some things about food and food prepration for the last couple of years but it really is great for him to get a different voice. I didn't learn to cook from one person, but rather from so many chefs and restaurants and friends and my grandmother. Franly...I can't see how someone raises a kid without teaching them how to cook...but what do I know? For me cooking and food preparation is something primal...it isn't just about the food. It's a way of learning how to work as a unit, to transmit knowledge and stories, to gain confidence with a basic need within an "ingroup". Food preparation...in my world...shouldn't be something reflecting a dictatorship or heirarchy...it is something we can all do together...especially a family!

When we take these cooking classes subjects and techniques come up that I am so used to I may not have been teaqching Stagg...so the classes are a great way to get reminders and cross checks for him, and for me. I also learn something each time...as every one has their own ways of doing things and their won experience. A cooking class is a great way to spend an afternoon!


We went to a great class last week. It was a "bloody mary brunch" and a lot of fun. Our teacher was Micah and he had a great attitude. He also brought up the concept of mise en place. This is a concept I hadn't brought up with Stagg and it was so cool to have Micah describe the process and reasons behind the concept. When I cook...I set up very special formats for myself. I have favourite kitchen tools and I have a large collection of little glass bowls for holding ingredients. Some of these glass bowls are only an inch in diameter. I usually measure everything and lay it out. For herbs and spices I fill the bowls so there is some room for tasting and adapting. We have a very small kitchen but I still find inventive ways to cook and prepare...and planning ahead with a mise en place is vital for me.

Mise en place (pronounced [miz ɑ̃n plas], literally "put in place") is a French phrase defined by the Culinary Institute of America as "everything in place", as in set up. It is used in professional kitchens to refer to the ingredients, such as cuts of meat, relishes, sauces, par-cooked items, spices, freshly chopped vegetables, and other components that a cook requires for the menu items that they expect to prepare during their shift.[

Recipes are reviewed, to check for necessary ingredients and equipment. Ingredients are measured out, washed, chopped and placed in individual bowls. Equipment such as spatulas and blenders are prepared for use, while ovens are preheated. Preparing the mise en place ahead of time allows the chef to cook without having to stop and assemble items, which is desirable in recipes with time constraints.
It also refers to the preparation and layouts that are set up and used by line cooks at their stations in a commercial or restaurant kitchen.
The concept of having everything in its place as applied to the work in a kitchen is likely to have become a staple around the time of Auguste Escoffier, who is well known for his development of the brigade system of running a kitchen.

Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain has often referred to mise en place as his religion.