Thursday, January 31, 2008
So on Monday I came to school feeling a little sick. My English teacher sent me home because of how sick she thought I looked, and upon returning home I discovered that my fever was 103. So I am sorry that my posts have been nonexistent, but I had to get better. At 104 your brain starts to melt and I knew for the sake of you dear readers that I must be at full brain capacity to please the ever demanding people that cherish this blog. Well, dear readers, I got my temperature down and I am back to you feeling good. My brain is not melted and therefore Mr. Whimsical keeps rolling.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Must read photo essay from the February 2008 Texas Monthly. Check out The Class of 2017 slideshow on the home page while the link lasts. Or buy a copy. The photos, by Randal Ford, are seemingly so obvious, so simple, the subject so so-done-to-death, I couldn't believe how striking, fresh and original they turned out to be.
From Eugene's blog:
For those of us who stayed until the bitter end at Sundance this year, getting out of town was a real adventure on Monday. Here's a few minutes of footage from I-80 yesterday afternoon, shortly before the highway was completely closed to traffic. While some of us made it through to Salt Lake City (and eventually got home safely), other attendees were stuck in Park City amidst 22" of new snow...
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
This Yahoo News headline item jumped off the screen, provoking a true LOL. But when I clicked through to the actual article, the amusement dimmed. It's fascinating to see the worldwide pattern. But it doesn't feel right to me. Personally that is. My life is much happier now then when I was younger. I can never relate to that nostalgia for the joys of childhood. And even age 20 was often torturous. So then what happens to me on this cycle?
The British and U.S. researchers found that happiness for people ranging from to follows a U-shaped curve where life begins cheerful before turning tough during middle age and then returning to the joys of youth in the golden years.
But the good news is that if people make it to aged 70 and are still physically fit, they are on average as happy and mentally healthy as a 20-year old.
-- Michael Kahn, Reuters London
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Farewell to a Pub, and Maybe to an Era
Gwendolyn Bound's blog, Little Chapel on the River, with more photos and stories:
(P.S. Mary Ellen - really hoping you can keep it going in a new incarnation. - Regards from Austin!)
Q. On my 21st birthday, my mother got so shitty drunk that she had to buy a pair of pants off a gas-station attendant after she pissed her own. She dropped her giant bag of pot in the limo. We put her to bed, and she got up and tried to screw my roommate. Then she fell out of the top bunk of his bed and hurt herself so bad she grabbed her car keys and left. She got a DWI on the way to the hospital, where they found out she broke her rib. What does all of this do to my psyche?—Please Answer Me
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Back from the continuing Saturday On2 Salsa workshop. Man that challenges me! In a good way. But it's hard. And incredibly fun. It feel likes burning new grooves in my brain. I've read about that the very slightest bit - how the brain has certain patterns and when you learn something new, you create a new pattern. For those old enough to remember, the visual is a record, the needle riding the grooves.
When I'm in this class, I can feel the burning happening. It has to do with timing. (um, and coordination of the timing with my body and all the isolated parts there within!) It's this funny balance of learning something new and different, and learning it enough so that it makes sense. I'm a terrible athlete, with almost no eye and hand coordination (which I've noticed is a real liability particularly when I driving -particularly making left hand turns. I can't tell how much time I have...hmmm. although i guess that's not exactly eye hand coordination but more like speed/depth perception. Oh well, I digress.)
But I've always had good rhythm. I hear music rhythmically. So at first it's like, ok, no big deal, I'm just feeling the music here, but then there's a new move that challenges my fundamental timing. It's from the music of course still, but in a different way I haven't moved before. Sometimes I literally feel like my head will explode. I can't even think about it consciously. But I just remain, and repeat, over and over again. The verbal counts somehow making a dent in my brain patterning until it's there. It's impossible til all of a sudden I'm doing it. And not only am I doing it, it feels just right, and it's really, really fun.
I made a joke months ago about calling salsa dance my zen practice. It's come to be not a joke at all. The attempt, the showing up, the being open to the effort, the proceeding without judgement shutting me down, it's an amazing practice and it's been enormously fruitful. And did I say fun? It's unleashed a joy that I hadn't realized was dormant. I'm making the minimal effort, attending one or maybe two classes (90-120 minutes each) a week right now, (rather than daily with the extra 4-5 times a week out in the clubs like many of my "peers") but it's ok. It's still spilling over. The joy remains and spreads.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Thursday, January 24, 2008
This morning - wonderful live taping of Texas Monthly Talks hosted by Evan Smith with a highly entertaining Jeff Daniels at the Cactus Cafe. Daniels turned out to be a great storyteller. Great content, excellent timing, excellent delivery.
Tuesday: AFS Honeydripper premiere at the Paramount with John Sayles and Maggie Renzi in person. Always fun to watch anything at the Paramount. And this event had lots of good vibes with its strong Austin connection. Particular highlight walking into the after party at the Continental Club with Sayles as we spy him on the barside TV - co-hosting TCM. John had to point out him, "It's your night!"
Monday: First thing, new episode of The Wire on HBO On Demand (where you can catch the episodes before they're broadcast.) Cloverfield matinee at the Highland Galaxy. (Man that's viscerally scary. As a NYer definitely! As someone who lives in fear of unknown dangers, blackouts, bombs. Freaked out and in admiration of the filmmaking the whole time, but is that what I want from my entertainment? No.) Margot at the Wedding on a borrowed screener. (Christ, what a despicable bunch! I guess you have to give Noah Baumbach credit for the artful telling of such complex hateful people, but damn, they were all really hateful. And they're so clearly based on his real family! Ohmigod. Laura Linney first, then Nicole Kidman. Wouldn't it be a great conceptual exercise for him to keep having different fantastic actresses tackle his mom? Just his mom over and over again via different actresses? I guess that's probably what he can't help but do.) Then Killer of Sheep on TCM w/ Charles Burnett co-hosting. (A lot of TCM watching in this house. TCM is hands down John's favorite TV after The Wire and sports.) All these years, I'd never actually seen Killer of Sheep. At first I feared I was too restless to pay attention -but it pulled me in. What a strong, wonderful presence. What a different time.
Sunday: My weekly yoga and now breakfast date. The latter a delightful surprise, an interesting growing friendship. An inspiring connection. Later read the script for Linklater's newest production shooting over on the Isle of Man. Exciting.
In general cooking a lot more with a particular emphasis on homemade soup. (Although Wyatt doesn't really like the soup so much so I do that and have to cook something else for him besides.) I guess I've been able to cook for a long time but I was so neurotic about it, it spoiled the enjoyment. So I resisted. But this year, determined to give my son memories of mom's home cooking before he flies the coop, I'm making the effort. And it's totally sweet and rewarding to see him enjoying it so much. Nice change from the response previously, "um, no one ever cooked at our house. We just grew up on microwaved frozen food." Not exactly true!!! But not completely false. Funny how easy it is now. Why wasn't it easy before?
Saturday night: 20th wedding anniversary party with artist Marc Burkhardt and partner wife Janice. Fabulous house! Different social set but enough crossover to enjoy the time. Good sometimes to stretch the social muscles.
Friday: Fantastic AFS lunch with a prospective new board member. That phrase "earn a seat at the table" more and more resonant to me all the time. I keep meaning to write a separate post about just that. In the evening, popped into the AFS intern party and got some quality time with the head honcho, my friend and excellent work mate .
Thursday: Terrific lunch with a charming and generous associate in town. Lots of great ideas. Later, catching the Austin premiere of Teeth at the Alamo South with my daughter. Funny enough. Always a good time at any of the Alamos.
That takes us back to Wednesday where I already raved about seeing U23D. Not sure how I even feel about laying out the schedule here. Don't really feel the need to broadcast my routine, not sure I like broadcasting my routine, but somehow I was a little provoked by Janice on Saturday night. "You go out a lot? You see a lot of movies?" Um yeah. Not even a heavy week. And in between still pre-screening for sxsw, re-watching to prep for catalog copy, following the Sundance news, paperwork, year-end accounting, prepping for new some projects. So what do you call it? Lots of consuming going on. Stuff.
Not saying anything new. Not saying anything smart. Just leaving crumbs in the forest.
I'm loving it now for several reasons. Good writing, duh. Cool subject, yeah. My kind of role model, absolutely! I'm all about the connecting - so really love it depicted and applauded. But what's really sticking with me is the diversity of the jobs and activities in Weisberg's life. At this particular moment it's extremely liberating as I'm trying to figure out the next phase. I'm contemplating different directions, different projects. Instead of worrying about the diversity, the story lays out all the great reasons to embrace it. Because of course when one is curious, new worlds can be fascinating. There's no hard and fast rule. You can be curious and explore anew in your chosen narrow scope or you can find the common thread in a crazy wide range. It's all good. Which is essential that I keep in mind.
And um, yeah, for those of you who've already read the piece - I connect to Lois in 3 moves. I have more than one friend who's totally tight with her son.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
....It was a reminder to the Bagger that, for everybody in the Magic Kingdom, it’s always about them. A guy dies and they need publicists to fend off reporters because they are in their trailers coping or because they might say the wrong thing. The whole publicity apparatus kicked in as if this were an event to manage.
The Bagger made more than 20 calls, and in every case the response was some version of “tut-tut, much too raw, there-will-be-statements-in-the-future.” Maybe other reporters had better luck, but the firm no’s the Bagger got told him plenty. This young man of 28, had one shot at a textured story about his humanity and his gifts. As it is, he will show up in the papers as a guy in bed with pills strewn about. Going forward, the stories will all be ghoulish forensics.
When the Bagger was just getting started at the Times, a pal of his died. He felt honored to write the obit. There was some bawling and then some typing and then some more bawling. But after a death it is incumbent upon us to bring the dead to life, however briefly. And he can think of no other industry that would avoid the death of one of its own in quite the same way as this incessantly self-seeking, self-involved community that really is not one. Everyone will wait for the televised tribute when they can read off the prompter....
Friday, January 18, 2008
I particularly like this last paragraph by Oberkirch. "if you can create a process that short circuits some of your own worst habits." Damn. yeah. What a good idea.
"Not only do I love the hope in that sentence, I think it’s true. If you can create a process that short circuits some of your own worst habits, and you really believe in that process, eventually you’ll get a sweater, a nine-foot painting, chicken enchiladas, a Web site, a marathon." -- Oberkirch
And here's a new post that made me like him even more:
"The year was 1997. I was 13 years old. Green Day was the coolest band in the world. Two years previous, they’d just put out their album, Insomniac, with an insane-looking cover. I checked out the liner notes, and found out it was done by a collage artist named Winston Smith:
I had a great art teacher, Robyn Helsel, who assigned us a project where we had to pick a contemporary artist and write to them. Most of the class picked their artists out of a catalog. I picked Winston. I used my dad’s e-mail account and sent probably half a dozen e-mails to a gallery curator I found online, asking for Winston’s home address. The curator finally replied: “Stop bugging me, kid. Here’s his address.” I sent Winston a two-page letter using a ransom note font in Microsoft Word, telling him about me and my band, asking him about his technique, his influences…I even had the audacity to include a sketch of an idea I had for a piece he might want to attempt. (I have the letter somewhere…but unfortunately, not the sketch!) A few months went by. As I remember it, nobody in the class heard back from their artist.Then one day a huge, stuffed manila envelope came in the mail...." (read the whole post here)
Thursday, January 17, 2008
We head up to the very last row. I've been to this theatre before for both 3D and imax films. As I'm uber sensitive to all forms of motion, including motion sickness, I know to sit in the last row. We put our 3D glasses over our regular ones. The movies starts. Georgia and I begin to crack up. It's intense! It's huge. It's really 3D. And what's so huge and grand and three dimensional is U2. Looking great. Sounding amazing. These four very human men, of human size, playing a sound so much greater, mesmerizing a room of what looks like hundreds of thousands. A mass of throbbing humanity, all jazzed and thrilled by what these four very real guys, backed by simple yet fabulous technology, are doing. These beautiful sounds they're making - so much bigger than they. And we sit comfortably in our seats, dancing in our seats, digging the immersion.
In the car home, John starts to explains to Georgia that U2 is the band that spans the length of our relationship. I immediately start to disagree, remembering as clear as day, the moment I first heard one of their songs. I was still living in San Francisco so it would have to be pre March 1980. It feels like I was still attending the Art Institute but that would have to be pre-1977 so that doesn't make sense. I was in the North Beach Tower Records. Not the first Tower, but an early, important one. A record store that no longer exists that meant everything to a generation of us. Just down the hill from my art school alma mater. A record store I frequented frequently for years. I was in the store and heard the most amazing song. I loved it so much I went up to the counter to ask the name.
"I will follow" by U2.Ok. Love at first sound. In the car we quibble about the date. John says it has to be 1980. I talk about when I moved to NY. When he and I met in 1981. John grows silent while I continue talking to G. Back at the house, within moments he has wikipedia up and says, "see - I was right 1980." I scour for the release of the single and remain confused. The dates don't jibe with my memory. An early import broadcast? A visit soon before I moved? No matter, he's right, give or take a month or year, yes, U2 spans the length of our life together.
Irregardless of the personal stuff, the movie is a great time. It's a perfect concert experience for me who now, at age 50, has really lost my appetite for standing in crowded halls with often poor sound. I still love music, but I don't need to see it live. This really did combine the best of both worlds. Comfortable, sitting, yet in the experience, seeing and hearing it bigger than even possible in the real. Very cool achievement. Very satisfying.
We laugh about how the gigantic screen and 3D make Bono look somehow smaller. But I insist that's what makes it even more enjoyable to me. It's the human scale of the band. Bono doesn't look larger than life. He's a real looking guy, wearing very real looking clothes. A regular body, not an unattainable star one. Great songs choices. Bono's voice was in perfect form. Sweet, great tone. I'm always partial to harmony. And have always loved the harmony between Bono and The Edge. Of course, of course the guitar and rhythm and sound. But part of that unique beautiful sound is their harmony. Their stage antics were minimal. For The Edge, as always. For Bono, I believe way calmed down - which for me, was perfect. I couldn't enjoy more the contrast between these 4 guys, these 4 real guys, with their magical thunderous sound, and the deluge of bodies that were cheering them on. How can a single person handle a crowd like that? It's unthinkable! But cool to kind of experience, safely away, yet still kind of in it, in this film.
Go see. Highly Recommended.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
But in thinking about what could be of interest, thinking about this book I'm reading called, Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious by Timothy D. Wilson. I can't even remember what turned me on to it. I was reading about something else, which led me to recommendations for this book, and in very short order, without mulling or putting it on my bottom of my list, I bought it and started reading. And it's fascinating. It's about our conscious mind and our unconscious - and which is controlling what. I'm only early in, but so far, the writer's putting forth the theory that it's hard for us to know ourselves, because so much of who we are, and how we react, including what judgements we make, are governed by our "adaptive unconscious" and that's actually inaccessible to us. Our conscious mind can't see the other. We have to piece it together by stories others tell us and by a kind of sleuthing of our own actions. Really fascinating. I can't wait to see where it's going.
And why is it relevant to me? Because I'm starting to feel that more and more of what I feel good about, the traits that I find more interesting about myself, are the unconscious ones. I write better when it's from the instinctive place, not the conscious mind (at least I think so- and that would really account for why I can't write simple assignments like press releases. My conscious mind has no writing flow.) I definitely speak better when it just happens. I only know what I'm thinking after I hear what comes out. Even when I dance, it has to happen without my conscious mind. I learn when there's enough repetition for my body to just "get" it. I can't think about it, if I do, I screw up. I'm learning in a deeper place outside my mind. Really, the more I think about it, the more true it is. My conscious mind is a hindrance. It's insecure and hyper critical and unsure. But there's a deeper well that's stronger. I've been joking about it for awhile. Now I'm seeing the seriousness. Now I'm trying to figure out how to make it work for me, how to work with it.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
"I wish you more for the New Year than words can express,
Peace of mind and rest of your body,
Supreme satisfaction in your personal life, and in your work.
Much joy and some happiness snatched from a mad and bloodthirsty world."
- Emma Goldman 1939
Monday, January 07, 2008
"Maybe you haven't made it yet, that change you wanted to make, but you know what it would take. Hard work. Willpower. Self-discipline. And if you've been trying to make the change of your dreams for years without success, you've probably told yourself that you failed because you didn't try hard enough.
That's what we all think, but when researchers examine the actual mechanism of change, that's not what they find. So says Alan Deutschman in his book Change or Die: The Three Keys to Change at Work and in Life, out this month in paperback from Collins. Deutschman, executive director of the Atlanta consulting film Unboundary, decided to get to the bottom of whatever it is that makes people and corporations able to change - especially after they've tried and failed. What he found is that people get unstuck not through willpower but through a relationship with a person or a group who shows them the way. Not just any relationship will do. It has to be an emotional relationship with someone who inspires hope and belief, who makes you say, If she can do it, I can, too."
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
I'm Not There
The Diving Bell and Butterfly
There Will Be Blood
Gone Baby Gone
No Country for Old Men
Into the Wild
White Light/Black Rain
4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days
Two Days in Paris
Paris, je t'aime
Away from Her - Sarah Polley
The Conversation (1974)
The Namesake - Mira Nair
Zodiac - David Fincher
No End in Sight
Austism the Musical
Nick Drake A Skin Too Few
Kurt Cobain About a Son
The Lives of Others
In the Shadow of the Moon
Knocked up - Judd Apatow
Super Bad - Greg Mottola
Smiley Face - Greg Araki
Didn't see - highly curious: Paprika, This is England, Sweeney Todd,
It can just be hard to take that different step forward. I look back, and even in this short term, see some changes of direction and priorities. But they've happened without thinking. So now I have to consciously set the stage for another change. And I have to figure out how to consciously set in motion the unconscious propulsion. That's the trick.
Making an effort to read again, consciously pushing away from this keyboard, I browse in and out of books gathered along the way. I find myself delighted by this 2nd Chakra mantra recommended by Caroline Myss:
I am filled with the vital energies of life and I take action with confidence and power.So I repeat it. Goofy perhaps. Images of Stuart Smalley from the old SNL but what the hell. It can't hurt. And I've already experienced the difference it makes to feel and say thanks rather than something more negative. So why not? One foot forward.