Thursday, July 31, 2008

Newsweek quips: My Shrink Says...Blog!

Found this buried on my desk:


My Shrink Says ... Blog!

By Jessica Bennett | NEWSWEEK

Why do people write confessional blogs? It's a creative outlet. It's a forum to vent. It's an exercise in exhibitionism. To mental-health experts, though, it's more than that: a blog is medicine. Psychiatrists are starting to tout the therapeutic power of blogging, and many have begun incorporating it into patient treatment. A forthcoming study in the journal CyberPsychology & Behavior even suggests that bloggers might be happier than nonbloggers.

Mental-health experts say blogs are a step up from plain old diaries, chiefly because of the built-in audience. As kids, we learn that if we air our problems, we get help. We associate communication with consolation, particularly when the going gets tough. Blogging fulfills that primal need for sympathy. "Writing is an effort of the brain to communicate for comfort," says Harvard neurologist Alice Flaherty. "Diaries are a form of that communication, but removed. Blogging gets you closer to that sympathetic audience, and that's what makes it therapeutic." According to psychologist John Suler, the anonymity of blogging provides another therapeutic boost: it's high intimacy with low vulnerability. But blogger beware. "Revealing too much," says Suler, "can cause shame or guilt." So blog to your heart's content, but leave some things to the imagination.

© 2008

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More about David Carr's memoir and the genre of truth telling

John sent me this link this morning as I was heading out the door. It's an excellent NY Observer piece on David Carr's new book and what memoir really means. How knowable are our lives? To us? To others? Qualities of truth? I can't wait to read Carr's book - but I also found this piece excellent:

David Carr's Crash: Drug Rehab Memoir Remakes the Genre

His Own Heart of Darkness With a Reporter's Notebook

(From the juicy middle:)

The truth is out there, in other words, but it’s in pieces. And if we want to understand ourselves, our world, what happened, and what might, every effort must be taken to reconstruct it. This is the guiding principle of Mr. Carr’s book, and at a time when the idea that facts actually matter seems to have disappeared into the vortex of the Bush Administration, James Frey and Margaret Jones, it is, unmistakably, a rallying cry.

To quote a recent Pub Crawl interview with the documentarian Errol Morris, whose life’s work reflects a sustained preoccupation with problems of fiction and reality, “Saying the truth is subjective and unknowable—that everyone sees the world in a different way and hence there is no world—is radically different from saying there are endless impediments and obstacles to uncovering what the world is really like and what really happened.

“There are facts of the matter,” Mr. Morris says, “and one needs to actually pursue them.”

Monday, July 28, 2008

My salsa pals place 3rd in World Salsa Open in Puerto Rico

How unbelievably excited I am for my salsa pals (and teachers) Azucena & Carlos and their Jazzy Dance Company!! They remain a true inspiration - and it's been a glorious treat for me to become involved in their world first as a student, then strategic media advisor, and now friend.

Jazzy Dance Co places 3rd at the World Salsa Open in Puerto Rico | Print | Email
Jazzy Dance Company at the Puerto Rico World Salsa OpenZoomJazzy Dance Company wins 3rd place at the Puerto Rico World Salsa Open in the team division.
Out of 8 teams from different countries that qualified for the finals, Jazzy was the only one from the USA. We are happy to have represented Texas and the USA at this World renown Salsa Open!
Stay tuned for videos of all competition routines...

Dear Friends and Salseros of Austin,

I am beyond excited to share with you this past weekend's events. After 9 days of beach and sunny days, we arrived yesterday from San Juan with tired bodies but a very happy spirit ! As a dance team, we hadn't really considered competing in the World Salsa Open in Puerto Rico. But destiny had something else in store for us.

At the beginning of June, we got invited by Jayson Molina to compete in the team division after he had seen our Zip zap routine on video. And in spite of the fact that we hadn't really planned to make that expensive trip, we decide purely on faith that it'd be worth a try.

(full story)

Great time at BritDocs

I had an utterly wonderful, highly energizing time at BritDocs in Oxford UK. Look to the indefatigable Matt Dentler, both in his Indiewire write up, and blogs 1, 2, & 3 for the pictorials and overview.
Go to the website for more info and Masterclass downloads.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

David Carr and Facebook, something I've been mulling about

Funny, this amusing and all too familiar David Carr NYT piece showed up the day after my last post on him. It's a fine example of what I so admire - funny and smart and to the point. I've been having my own struggles with Facebook. Originally it was lots of fun - excellent re-connection with some key friends from over the years. But now it's getting crowded with requests from strangers, or acquaintances, and I'm torn. I don't want to amass a crowd. I currently have 16 potential new friends that I'm hovering about. Some I just don't want to be connected with that way! And some I don't even know them enough to have an opinion. I feel a responsibility to be available with the new gig but not indiscriminate. I would like a separation between my real personal life and my work - though they overlap more than most, they still have their distinctions. Oiy.

The Media Equation

Hey, Friend, Do I Know You?

Published: July 21, 2008

Not that long ago, I needed some advice on the book business and thought to ask my friend Buzz Bissinger, the author of “Friday Night Lights” and “A Prayer for the City.” The only sticking point was, we’d never met.

Although he used to be a reporter, we are not what I would call peers. He wrote one of the greatest sports books ever, and oh, one of the best books about city government ever. “Friday Night Lights” became a movie and then a television series and apart from me being a hopeless fanboy of the show, we have nothing in common.

Other than Facebook, of course, where we are “friends,” after he was referred by our mutual friend Vernon Loeb of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Taking that supplied noun as a permission, I sent Mr. Bissinger a message on Facebook and asked for advice. We got on the phone and I found out exactly, precisely what I wanted to know from, as they say in the Web world, a highly trusted source.

Isn’t “friendship” wonderful? (continued)

Monday, July 21, 2008

David Carr and his very surprising new book. Wow!

David Carr has been one of my favorite journalists for awhile. I love his NYT Monday Media Business stories, as I also love the blogger that emerged (aka Carpetbagger) following the annual Oscar race. (Although, if I can digress for a moment, I hate all the time, space and attention that that oscar race takes up! The same thing over and over. Pundits, yeah guessing and sounding off. Page after page of precious media dedicated to this one competition. Deafening noise sucking up all the air in the room. It's really a shame.)

But back to David Carr - so yeah, he's one of my favorite journalists. One of the few I follow these days. So boy, what a big surprise to read his new book excerpt in the NYT Magazine today. Yowza!!! Who knew he used to be a crackhead!??!!

Terrific read. Highly recommended.

Me and My Girls

Published: July 20, 2008

Where does a junkie’s time go? Mostly in 15-minute increments, like a bug-eyed Tarzan, swinging from hit to hit. For months on end in 1988, I sat inside a house in north Minneapolis, doing coke and listening to Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” and finding my own pathetic resonance in the lyrics. “Any place is better,” she sang. “Starting from zero, got nothing to lose.”

After shooting or smoking a large dose, there would be the tweaking and a vigil at the front window, pulling up the corner of the blinds to look for the squads I was always convinced were on their way. All day. All night. A frantic kind of boring. End-stage addiction is mostly about waiting for the police, or someone, to come and bury you in your shame.

After a while I noticed that the blinds on the upper duplex kitty-corner from the house were doing the same thing. The light would leak through a corner and disappear. I began to think of the rise and fall of their blinds and mine as a kind of Morse code, sent back and forth across the street in winking increments that said the same thing over and over.

W-e a-r-e g-e-t-t-i-n-g h-i-g-h t-o-o.

They rarely came out, and neither did I, so we never discussed our shared hobby.


The Official Night of the Gun Website (From Simon & Schuster)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Surprise on my Bookmark Bar

Wow - the most amazing thing just happened on my work computer - and I've no idea how!  But it's incredible.  I imported my laptop Apple Address Book into the work Apple Address Book.  And all of a sudden on my Safari Bookmark Bar, is a category called "Address Book"  When I looked to see what it was, it unfolded a list of official urls for everyone in my address book!  Kind of shockingly cool.  I hadn't even heard of that before.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

More on Austin Kleon and mindmapping

This is the kind of thing that attracted me to Austin Kleon in the first place! His mind mapping!!! He's so great at it - and it's a remarkable kind of process/document. I first just saw a drawing from an event via email. Then I sat next to him when David Simon was at John's UT Master Class -- and I marveled even more. I couldn't believe how he could get to the essence in real time sketching those words and pictures. Cool stuff! I'm itching to try ...but I don't have the skill or artistry he does. I haven't read this post close enough to assess whether he thinks it's in the reach of everyone. Or not. It could be an amazing discipline. I really like the idea of it as a sharpening tool. Another add to my to-do list.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Great New Instructional Salsa DVD from Everyone Can Salsa

I'm so proud of Azucena and Carlos! My kick ass incredible salsa instructors just created their first instructional DVD in the series: Everyone Can Salsa. And it's fantastic! Check it out here!

Brian Newman with some interesting updates on the Long Tail

We talk a lot about the Long Tail in this house. If you can call it talking. It's a lot of debate and discourse, and wondering where the reality is. So I was glad to read this interesting update from the always smart and interesting Brian Newman.

Long tail not so debunked after-all

There’s been much ado about Anita Elberse’s article in the Harvard Business Review lately – where she seriously questions the validity of the long-tail theory. The press (and that includes bloggers, and me) love anything that runs contrary to a popular opinion in business and culture, and Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail, has certainly been influential. Within days of the issue hitting the stands, I started receiving emails from people making sure I had read it – mainly because they know my organization has launched a project working somewhat off the long-tail theory. I nuance this with the “somewhat;” however, as I’ve never agreed with most of what the adherents of the long-tail seem to believe. Pretty much everyone in the film world who has read it, and I meet someone everyday who hasn’t, seems to think that it says that obscure, niche content can now make more sales. These people believe that by building a better web system, doing more niche marketing or whatever, that their small movies can now become much bigger. This is false, of course, but became a popular belief because, hell, every filmmaker is in need of some golden business rule that can help them sway investors that their little movie can someday be big. A few people have even accused me of thinking this in relation to Reframe. (Which has never been true.)

But what they all miss, and what Elberse’s article doesn’t really address, is that the real truth of the long-tail is simply that in a business environment that allows for more long-tail content and transactions, more value will accrue to those companies that exploit an aggregate of long-tail content. Not more than hit-makers, but more than they made before the web. No single niche title (yes, there are a few exceptions) will become much more popular, but if you aggregate many of them, you can add up those small sales to something approaching profitability. This isn’t refuted by Elberse, and I’m still pretty bullish on the aggregate model; in fact, even more so in relation to this new study. (more)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A perfect Saturday night going to see Hud at the Paramount

Hud. Man I love that movie! I've always loved the movie. It's just perfect. Watching it tonight, again, in awe, again. Saturday night at the glorious Paramount Theater in Austin watching a great movie that takes your breath away.

A couple of weeks ago it was Harold and Maude. Another movie I loved in its time that holds up amazingly well. So many astounding movies...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Very sad Taveuni story, boy dies when coconut falls on his head and the power's out at the hospital

This is a terrible story. It illustrates so much of the current Fiji reality. When we lived there, we used to joke about getting hit on the head by a coconut - (an event much more serious than it sounds) but it was still funny to think about, and there was electricity most of the time in the newly built hospital. The last coup resulted in an interim government back by the military. Now the economy, which was never strong to begin with, is falling, has totally fallen apart. Services are at an all time low. Tourism is down. Local newspaper publishers have been ushered out of the country. It's not business as usual, and it's heartbreaking for a country we grew to love, who even at its best, had little material wealth. The whole situation has grown much more dire.

What's interesting too about this article, it displays the exact kind of daily difficulty experienced everyday in Fiji: no electricity so the Rotary Club willing to donate a generator, but the Works Department needing to use their own electrician for the hook-up, and not doing so. Ah....

Student dies: Coconut falls on boy's head at school

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A STUDENT felled by a coconut on the head on a school playground on Friday died after being sent home because there was no electricity in an island hospital.

The Class Seven student of Somosomo District School, on Taveuni, was rushed to hospital but relatives were told to take him home.

Sources on Taveuni say the dead boy comes from the chiefly tribes in Somosomo Village. His name could not be divulged.

"They were playing when a coconut hit his head and he fell down a steep hill close to the school," the source said.

Police spokeswoman Ema Mua confirmed that, saying police could not reveal the identity of the 12-year-old student.

On Friday our Northern bureau reported that a State policy had left the Taveuni Hospital without any electricity.

That prompted medical officials there to close the mortuary. Sub-divisional medical officer Taveuni Doctor Hlathein Thein said because of continuous electricity supply problems experienced since the beginning of this year, they decided it was best to use a generator donated by the Rotary Club of Taveuni.

"But before we can change to using our own generator, the Works Department needs to do all the clearance. They need their own electrician to do this," he said.

"For the past week we have been without electricity. Emergency cases have been referred to the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva," Dr Thein said.

However, Ministry of Works spokesperson Sainiana Waqainabete denied such a policy, saying the hospital had every right to change generators if the PWD generator was damaged.

"There is no such policy ... hospitals anywhere in Fiji can use their own generator if they wish when it comes to such a situation. We don't need to clear anything or have our own electrician to do clearance work," she said. (continued)

Where the Hell is Matt? Yeah, now, finally me too watching.

Ok, to again expose how out of it I can be. I just finally saw Where The Hell is Matt? Wikipedia filled in the details of what a huge internet star he is, and for how long. But hey, we discover things when we do, yes? I clicked on the link (courtesy of my friend Tommy's Myspace blog which I almost never remember to visit anymore...not Tommy's blog, Myspace in general!) with a bad attitude. I expected to be annoyed. And was for a second. Before I broke into a huge grin appreciating the beautiful simplicity of this dramatic gesture. A simple dance, all over the world, sometimes alone, sometimes all the different locals joining in. Really humanity at its essence. Really a beautiful thing.

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ah, genetics...

Love this!  Particularly since I'm the mother of an 18 and almost 21 year old.  Love these ages.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hilarious Ze Frank 2007 SXSW Web Awards

OK, so I'm a little slow.... I just stumbled onto this video and awards patter by Ze Frank for the SXSW 2007 web awards. Which is hilarious. Even though it's been around for awhile. Made me laugh - and each time I replayed it, I laughed more.

This YouTube version of the initial video cuts in a little late -for the full version, in better res, go here.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Joe Swanberg's "Too Many Nights and Weekends" over at Variety

This little post by Joe Swanberg for Variety's Fest Circuit blog really made me laugh! Look at the brilliant way Joe spins:

Upon arriving, I had lunch with a few of the other American Independents filmmakers who were on my flight. I had never heard of any of their films, and they hadn't heard of mine. That fact made me equally proud and nervous to be an American Independent filmmaker, working in a country that produces so many films and filmmakers, and has so many festivals and screens, that it's possible for several of these filmmakers to have festival and theatrical success without any idea that the others even exist.

Talk about spin! Everyone else is bemoaning the deluge of too many films! Too many films numbing the audience, exhausting the critics, and crowding out the arthouses. It's a kind of cannibalism! John and I have been debating this subject for years - how democratization is great for an individual's creative impulse but deadly for the marketplace. But I digress. I'm not prepared to get into all that. This post was just inspired by Joe, and his charming Variety post, and how he puts it all out there into the world.

Fun Times at LAFF and great eats at Animal

I had a great time out at LAFF last week, although I neglected to take more than one filmy blog photo.

Anne Cecere (BMI), George Shaw (Film Composer),
 (Damn, what was her name!!), Peter Paul Basler (Producer, Big Heart City.)

I had a great time catching up with the very excellent 2008 sxsw premiere, Medicine of Melancholy. I was thrilled to be there supporting the two Austin-made LAFF premieres: Trinidad and I'll Come Running. (I'm particularly proud to have a prominent "Thanks" in the Trinidad credits. I fell in love with this doc early on, so remained an active, vocal rough cut screener. I think all involved -- directors PJ Raval and Jay Hodges, editor Kyle Henry, composer Frank Alexander, and executive producer Matt Dentler did a great job on a really fascinating subject.) Enjoyed the doc Paper and Plastic, and Sundance narrative, Frozen River. And what I really went crazy for was the fantastic new Werner Herzog doc, Encounters at the End of the World. As I've written before, I've a deep soft spot for Herzog. I love the sound of his voice, I love his narrative voice. This recent doc in Antartica is a particular delight. I highly recommend it.

~Encounters at the End of the World~

I was out at LAFF in my new festival programmer role - catching up with films, but really more, this time of year, catching up with old and new contacts. There were plenty of filmmakers, press, and industry - all easy to see, and wonderful to engage with. I attended the Financing Conference, the Texas Film Commission Brunch at Spago, the Austin Film Society party celebrating the Austin films, lots of moments in the Target Red Room, The Cinemocracy Party, and IFC Film's particularly fabulous soiree at the Sunset Marquis, celebrating their two recent sxsw premiere acquisitions, Medicine for Melancholy and The Pleasure of Being Robbed.

Lots of conversations. Lots of time management. At the AFS party, I was deep in talk with Eddie Schmidt and AJ Schnack when I kept spotting IFP's Amy Dotson out of the corner of my eye. I couldn't break away. Finally, as the party was ending, I managed a quick, "You hungry?" and next found myself in a car with Amy and two strangers on our way to Fairfax, two doors up from Cantors. It turns out one of the "strangers" was producer Sarah Hendler, and Animal is her boyfriend's new restaurant. It was delicious!! The company and conversation were grand, but the three of us newbies went crazy for the food. Definitely worth the trip.

Producer Sarah Hendler and Chef Vinny Dotolo at Animal