Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Union Square, Election Night 2008

Shortly after Barack Obama had delivered his victory speech, I walked over to Union Square. My camera ran out of batteries after I shot this, but it kept getting bigger and bigger as more and more people streamed across 14th Street...

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Mary runs the NYC Marathon

Mary sees us as she approaches North 11th Street and Bedford Avenue. This is about 10 miles into the New York City Marathon, and she's still full of energy.

(Clip from what will be a slightly longer video, once I get around to cobbling it together.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Walking by BAM at Night

So I was walking by the Brooklyn Academy of Music the other night-- as is not so unusual--, and I did shoot video of it-- which is slightly less common. I then decided to try out the movie editing software on my new computer, and this was all the footage I had free of my old previous computer's hard drive. So. This clip. Not that the lights at BAM wouldn't otherwise merit their own posting or whatever.

UPDATE: wow, imovie automatically convert a 4:3 video into 1:1.85 "letterbox"...(is it time to start complaining about distortion into default widescreen the way we used to hate "panned-and-scanned" VHS tapes before DVDs made proper presentation the standard?)

Monday, October 06, 2008

New Kitten ("J.C.") and Pumpkins

My sister adopted a kitten from my aunt and is for now calling her "J.C." "J.C." does not mean "Jesus Christ" but rather "Just Cat."

This is meant to be an off-the-cuff video diary entry-type thing. So: does it strike you as off-the-cuff?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Autumn means Hawthorne

The Blithedale Romance The Blithedale Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne

As I found with "The Scarlet Letter", this novel took a long time to get going. But I found that it very quickly became engaging from the point at which Westervelt enters the story; his entrance is the first of a number of the fascinatingly strange scenes for which I like Hawthorne.

[side note: I sometimes wonder whether the Danish director Carl Th. Dreyer had read Hawthorne. I recently saw his Day of Wrath, and was struck by how closely the feverish and obscurely allegorical atmosphere of portions of that film resemble my experience of reading Hawthorne. I also find them alike in that the works tend to be pretty boring for at least the first half...perhaps it heightens the reward when it finally -- finally-- comes?]

View all my reviews.

Been helping Nick edit together this video...

...of his mechanical instruments performing a cover song for a contest.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A book review

>>I've never before posted a review or comment of mine from another site on this blog. That's basically because I conceive of this page as being a place for self-generated content, and featuring any content (even self-generated) that is in some way "branded" by an outside source would seem to undermine that. That said, for the purposes of this experiment, I'm thinking of as merely a host-- in the same way that is merely the host for the videos I've previously posted. Furthermore, goodreads' layout lacks any logos or other commercial paraphenalia. OK. End agonizing, begin transmission:<<

Wolf Totem Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong

rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found this book really absorbing as 1) a window into life during the Chinese cultural revolution, the contradictions of which are evoked in a pretty subtle manner, and 2)a sort of documentary-like adventure story, with occasional exciting passages giving way to observation of the quotidian details life on the Mongolian grasslands.

While I didn't know a lot about the socio-political context for the story (and this may allow to my regard for the novel; I am aware that some reviewers are very critical on these grounds), I connected with the sense of melancholy the characters feel as they bear witness to the destruction of a very ancient ecosystem and a human culture deeply connected to that ecosystem; it almost seems as if the worst thing is the inability of invaders to appreciate the culture whose death they hasten. In some ways, the story resonates with American themes like Manifest Destiny and the assimilation/multiculturalism debate, themes explored in the more sensitive Hollywood westerns.

Additionally, WOLF TOTEM gives one a complex sense of living out politics in daily life. I think we sometimes conceive of life in a time/place like China at its most radically Maoist in terms of a more familiar "life in Germany under Hitler" model, as a story of either going with an evil regime (through action or inaction) or attempting to subvert it. But the conflicted feelings of the characters provide a fuller portrait of such a state than we usually get to see-- as much as they suffer in certain ways at the hands of petty officials and wrong-headed policies, I think there is some appreciation of the nature of the national project and the ways in which one's own work is connected to that project. While I would not describe the book as favorable of the Chinese government, it does humanize the government, and it does an excellent job of describing the not-evil motivations of those individual people.

The thing about the book I found most wanting was the style-- it's very repetitious (in both language and in the sense that it harps repeatedly on a number of points). At the same time, it will sometimes seem to curiously curl back and contradict itself, suggesting one thing about the behaviour of wolves and then asserting the opposite a few paragraphs later. I recognize, however, that some of this must be due to the peculiar alchemy of translation. And an even greater part must stem from Chinese writing traditions with which I've been unfamiliar. Due to the fact that it wasn't difficult to read, I generally gave it the benefit of these doubts. And there are a few extended passages of great power and celerity, electric passages where your eye cannot take in the words fast enough, such as the wolf attack during the "white-hair" blizzard.

View all my reviews.


A concise negative review by Janice Harayda can be found here:

She links to another review by Nicole E. Barnes on The China Beat blog that describes WOLF TOTEM as "nostalgic drivel":

I disagree with these two takes on the novel-- find them a little oversensitive and oversimplified. But what do I know?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

It's raining right now...

starring Kevin

NOTE: Apologies for the postage-stamp size of the video-- this was due to a error in settings of the editing software. Unfortunately, correcting it involves essentially re-editing the entire video. I'll post a slightly more legible version when I have a chance.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

a rough draft...

"Dreams of pulling teeth, and of teeth falling out, are interpreted in popular belief to mean the death of a connection. Psychoanalysis can admit of such a meaning only at the most as a joking allusion to the sense already indicated.

In a sense, we think that Freud left out an important childhood phenomenon, namely: the shedding of teeth. Don't we all vividly remember a tooth losening [sic] in our mouths and the strangeness of that experience? And, as is nowadays recognised, that a baby and a young child regards his body, body his possesion [sic]]. Losing these possesions [sic]...can be a traumatic experience. An experience that perhaps is still haunting us in our dreams.

We also want to stress the relation between teeth, the mouth, and talking. We need our teeth to bite our tongue. And, showing one's teeth can be a form of agression and danger (not so different from laughing, but that is another theory!). In addition, dreaming of losing our teeth may be symbolic for losing our agression [sic], and the powerlessnes [sic] we experience in our lives."

- Jerry Gifford at

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Warren Quilt

"Buddha with Sunglasses a.k.a. The Warren Quilt" by Bonita "Bonnie" Frank.
From the Quilter's Guild of Brooklyn Brooklyn All-Stars 2008 Quilt Show.

Note the stitching around the base of the sunglasses, across crease of lips (detail).

Your Double...Nature?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Houston, Texas

"Winds of Change"
George Bush Intercontinental Airport

It's very difficult to capture in bronze a country-club blazer slung jauntily over the shoulder and into the "Winds of Change". As I learned from this piece, located in Terminal C. Photographs were immediately taken on my phone and sent to a number of friends and family whom I thought would particularly appreciate this particular execution.

Quick lunch at Hanlon's Barbecue. (Q: what should one expect from a BBQ joint situated next to a Starbucks kiosk in Terminal C of George Bush Intercontinental Airport? If you can't figure out the A:, you will probably be happier if I don't tell you.) I skim news about the Sundance Film Festival (it's opening day) as I walk to gate E20 and my connection to New Orleans.

Sitting on the plane, I begin reading Lawrence Block's The Sins of the Fathers, the first of his crime novels about Matthew Scudder, a non-P.I. who "does favors" for people in exchange for "gifts." I love the opening which, in describing the man seeking Scudder's assistance, makes us aware of the fact that we know nothing about Scudder; the first sentence tells us that the man was "about my height", and that he was searching the narrator's face for "secret messages". Us, too! It's not revolutionary, but it's good.

The plane was late getting in, and our escape is further delayed by "paperwork". A stewardess updates us at one point that there remained one document to fill out because there'd been a medical emergency "before any of us boarded", as if we might otherwise suspect one of the crew of poisoning the complimentary orange juice.

We back away from the gate, and the safety video comes on. It shows adult customer hands strapping a mask on the face of a child customer while reminding you to put on your own oxygen mask before assisting "other customers." We're stopped and I look out the window; it seems we've backed onto the lawn. The grass waves frenetically beneath the invisible jets.

The captain says that the weather in New Orleans is about what it is here in Houston. I hadn't been outside since New York, but I can see that it's starting to rain.


In the way that one will, I wonder at the regularity of the landscape; the lines that graph what seems like chaos on the ground become evident so soon after take-off. Even the forests are uniform, squared off at the edges like a tins of brownies. But there's a break in the grid: we pass over a little oasis of wild trees atop elegant low hills that roll like the Appalachian Mountains I'd crossed in the morning.

Then I realize that it's a golf course. But a beautiful one.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

My Ten Favorite Movies of 2007


Honorable mention

HALLOWEEN (No, I'm not kidding)

Stay tuned for potential update featuring blurbs (provided I can find a way to make it more legible and spatially efficient than 2006's entry).

Sunday, January 06, 2008