Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Master Speaks

I'm reading this brilliant book:
Rodin on Art and Artists "Conversations with Paul Gsell"

  Auguste Rodin by Edward J Steichen

Generally, it's an amazing book where Rodin talks about sculpture, poetry, painting, great artists, Balzac, religion and many other brilliant things.

And here-- is my favorite quote so far, from a chapter called "Thought in Art."

"Let us understand each other," Rodin said, laughing. "There are certain admirers of such complicated brain that they attribute most unexpected intentions to the artist. We are not talking of these. But you may rest assured that the masters are always conscious of what they do." And tossing his head, "If the skeptics of whom you speak only know what energy it takes for the artist to translate, even feebly, what he thinks and feels with the greatest strength, they would not doubt that all that appears shining forth from a picture or sculpture was intended." A few moments later, he continued: "In short, the purest masterpieces are those in which one finds no inexpressive waste of forms, lines and colors, but where all, absolutely all, expresses thought and soul.

"Yet it may happen that when the masters animate the Nature of their ideals, they delude themselves. It may be that it is governed by an indifferent force or by a will whose design our intelligence is incapable of penetrating. At least, the artists, in representing the universe as he imagines it, formulates his own dreams. In nature he celebrates his own soul. And so he enriches the soul of humanity. For in coloring the material world with his spirit he reveals to his delighted fellow beings a thousand unsuspected shades of feeling. He discovers to them riches in themselves until then unknown. He gives them new reasons for loving life, new inner lights to guide them.

"He is, as Dante said of Virgil, 'their guide, their master, and their friend.'"

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Brussels Sprouts gone wild...

Over at NYPL, not only do they take books seriously-- but, more importantly, they take books about food seriously.

Check out the above, where Jean Strouse, director of the Cullman Center for Scholars, and former Cullman Fellow Melanie Rehak make a crazy, bacon fueled Brussels Sprouts recipe that Melanie said was "the most important thing she learned from Jean"-- and which eventually ended up in her new book, "Eating for Beginners."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Catching Up

Hello there, empty space!

This morning, I decided to use this chilly November day to plow through my twitter favorites, which I basically use as a lame version of instapaper.

Anyhow-- I had marked about a million articles "to read later" over the past several months... and, having seriously just gone through about 75-80 articles... I'm walking away with a sense of internet writing as a mostly vapid endeavor (my own attempts included, here). Everyone poses questions, but the brevity of the 'post' format doesn't seem to give anyone enough space to answer any of them.
Maybe I'm just noticing this now because of the long series of disappointing articles that did nothing but probe at subjects without dealing with them in any seriousness... but... really, right now, I'm craving immersion in the form of a Dickens novel...

But, anyhow... in a totally hypocritcal move...

Here are a few good nugets of info/pretty cool experiences:

Above everything else today-- a great and wonderful Keynote at this year's Film Indepedent Filmmaker Forum from Lionsgate's Joe Drake

Scott Macaulay's initial thoughts about Amazon Studios over at Filmmaker Mag

Interesting interview with DSLR DP Chris Marino

A Beautiful Monet Exhibit

Collapsus-- "Annotated Narrative"
(watch the intro video)

Trying to re-invent the book with MyFry

An Interactive Documentary about highrises called "Out My Window"

Selections from this year's National Geographic Photo Contest

Amazing photos from the Atom Bomb tests in the 50s

Oh... and--general absurdity in the universe.

Meanwhile, yesterday, I watched Adam's Rib which was totally worth 2 hours of undivided attention.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Two More Awesome Interactive Videos

1) Anthropologie Stop Motion Shoe Shopping:
(click on the picture to jump)

Not totally interactive-- but a fun little video that leads you to the shoes in the end. They also list all of the shoes as characters in the credits. Love.

2) Vevo-Andy Grammer's Choose Your Own Adventure Video: "Keep Your Head Up"
(the embed link was broken, but click on the photo again)

The video really does follow a "choose your own adventure" track pretty faithfully in both structure and aesthetics--but there are several things about it which are still fascinating:

a) the video has sign posts throughout where things remain the same regardless of versions. It has an over-arching structure and then little loopholes in between. So, regardless of which path you take you end up the same place about three or four times throughout.

b) they didn't just rely on the gimmick. It's well shot and there are some other cool camera tricks thrown in. Even Rainn Wilson makes an appearance (though you need to choose one path to get the most Rainn Wilson screen time... which involves two very specific choices). But--still, strip away the choosing your own thing, and it's still a fun video to watch.

c) They shot it in such a way that you feel as though the ending is personalized for you even though it may be generic. Each time I watched the end, I noticed different people in the crowd shots. One reason for this is because I just met different characters individually throughout the video... but also- they never focus on one person in the crowd "close-ups." So, in the group of two or three upon which they focus, I am going to notice the character that I met individually... and so I'm going to feel as though the shot was reflective of my journey, even though it will likely be the same every time you pick that choice regardless of how you got there.

d) They use jump cuts as a motif throughout the video as a seemingly stylistic choice that is common in pop-music videos... But these jump cuts also mask the substitution of the different "Reels" that you choose as you go. So they use the style of the video and editing to mask the technical mechanics of switching the options.

That's all I've got for now. Pretty cool.
(You can read more about it over at Mashable, or read more about the design firm-- Interlude-- which  works specifically with interactive video)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A (Very Short and Early) Theory of Web Video

Having worked on several videos for various blogs recently- my work has got me thinking about web video and content-- specifically: context and content.

I am going to attempt to keep this as short as I am able- but here's my general theory on making video for the web:

If the piece that you are making will live on a site with strong informational or aesthetic point of view--and not simply on youtube or in a black and gray video player-- web video should not focus on providing too much context. It is merely part of a larger whole of the site-- which includes the text above it, the photos beside it, the design behind it and, ultimately the comments below it. It becomes a piece of a larger puzzle- a piece that you need to experience in concert with everything else on the page to appreciate it.

A complication arises when the video gets embedded, or removed from the above mentioned context. But I don't believe that this encourages more contextualization in-video.

Embedding does in fact strip the video from its original context-- and it would thus seem that the video would loose it's informational and/or aesthetic value. However-- my experience with embedding is that there is always new commentary attached to the embed, because the impulse of the embed is to re-appropriate.

Often, bloggers "appropriate" things from other sites that they feel embodies the aestheic of their own space. So- when they embed a video from another site-- even though they may be stripping the video of its original content design by removing it from its page-- they are re-contextualizing it so that it becomes part of their own expression, thus gaining a new meaning and aesthetic value on their own site. The video gains new value and also new meaning-- and thus it is, again, important not to include too much "proprietary" information in the video itself. [Here- by "proprietary" -- I mean overt pieces of information or expressions-- things that will prevent a re-contextualization because they are too personal or convey too much of a sense of ownership].

Blogging is about a dual interest in personal expression and community expression. I know that I started blogging because I wanted to both express my own views on design, art, food and culture, but also because there appeared to be a strong dialogue between the community of bloggers that I read.  Embedding, borrowing photos, and other re-contextualization become a key part of that dialogue because it mutates and evolves the content itself according to the personalities of the bloggers involved.

I suppose, my frustration here is that photos and links have evolved the blogging space so that they are always a part of a whole-- see, for example-- The City Sage and how she re-appropriates and curates photos with her text into a post that is an aesthetically complete self-expression using borrowed content (expressed particularly well in "Palette Lust: Thunderstorms").

Because people are so used to watching video in a stand alone context-- they are not trained or simply refuse to see video in such a fashion-- as part of the whole. There is an expectation for it to feel like mini-television. But, hopefully, as more video appears in innovative and interesting contexts, the expectations and reception for pure web video as I describe above will become more adaptable.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Before and After

For the past several weeks I've been working with the lovely Amy Azzarito and Nightwood on the before and after of Amy's bedroom. Nightwood's furniture is really beautiful and organic looking and watching the transformation of Amy's room was incredible. Check it out:

The video is featured on Design*Sponge--which has been a favorite of mine for a long time. It's a total dream to see my work featured there and all of the ladies were really wonderful collaborators-- great ideas really just enveloped this project. Check out more in Amy's post.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Taking it to the Next Level

Anthropologie has finally done it. They've conquered video.

A few months ago I talked about Anthropologie's digital brand strategy and how much I admired the way they use various media tools to integrate their lifestyle into the everyday. And now they've taken web-video and exploited the 'reality' of the moving image to add even more contextualization to their product. ... and oh what beautiful contextualization it is.

Check out their moving display of October Outfits (or click the photo above). It really is taking 'catalogs' to the next level.

[Their ANTHRPOLOGiST exhibition this month also has so beautiful web video in it-- they visit P.E. Guerin, the nation's oldest decorative hardware firm].

Monday, October 4, 2010


My very good friend Kishori, who I have mentioned many times here, had a great post last week about Autumn cakes on her fun blog I Can Be Jello (which I assisted in naming, thank you very much).

The photos were taken by me-- so this is just a tiny bit of self promotion. But the cakes were also seriously seriously delicious. So you should visit and then make them both anyway.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Make Me Young: Youth Knows No Pain DVD Release!

Ladies and gentlemen- you can finally own a copy of the wonderful anti-aging documentary "Make Me Young: Youth Knows No Pain"

If you need further convincing beyond the fact that I co-wrote and co-produced it...

Watch this trailer:

Now--- Buy it!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Whatt'a ya looking at?

I found this photo  today while prepping my grad school apps --
Don't know why I didn't include it in the Lady of Mount Carmel post. That guy is fantastic.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

You know you want to...

The Documentary that I co-wrote and co-produced - Make Me Young: Youth Knows No Pain -
comes out on DVD next Tuesday.

You can buy it.

Or... save it to your queue in Netflix so that it will become avail.

Regardless- it's awesome. Just get it, already. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I like The Weepies a lot.

I think it's because they often pair lyrics of songs with contradictory beats and melodies. i.e. - my current song obsession, "When You Go Away:"

There's something that makes it more poignant because it's not a ballad or something equally slow and sad-- like the lyrics would seem to call for.

Kind of like this scene in Sense and Sensibility- which is totally heartbreaking, because Marianne gets crushing news while dance music is being played. [The 2nd half of this scene is oh so much better, but I can't find it online].

I can't explain why the contradiction works, but-- for me-- it does. Maybe it feels more honest? Really- I have no idea.

Any other examples? Or general thoughts?

I'm curious about why the upbeat music/down beat content resonates.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Things that Make Writing Eas(ier)

I am working on graduate school applications and have, more than ambitiously, decided that I plan on writing 3-5 versions of each "sample scene" we're suppose to submit before I pick the ones to revise.

This Sunday evening, at 7:50pm, this endeavor seems very stupid.

But something made me think of it in the first place-- so I shall plow forward.

In the mean time-- Here's a few things that make writing easier.

1) Homemade Tea consisting of Earl Gray, Lavender flowers and a splash of milk. No honey. No sugar.

2) "Old Country Fairy Tale" by The Appalacian Trio - Mark O'Connor, Yo-Yo Ma and Edgar Meyer

3) The following quote that I clipped from an unknown magazine while in college:

"I don't teach writing. I teach patience. Toughness. Stubbornness. The willingness to fail. I teach the life. The odd thing is most of the things that stop an inexperienced writer are so far from the truth as to be nearly beside the point. When you feel global doubt about your talent, that is your talent. People who have no talent don't have any doubt." -- Richard Bausch

Friday, September 10, 2010

A bad case of fridays


Why haven't I been posting more about my short?

Well... It got a little something I will refer to as revision disease.

What is revision disease, you ask?

It's when you start out with something that has a really good spirit, but isn't quite finished. After you show it to too many people and think about it way too much... you slowly start to chip away at everything you think is bad and... it gets all splotchy and feverish and no longer resembles its former self.

Basically, you suck all of the life out of it. This happened to me... around revision #5 1/2.

By #6... well... my screenplay had Gangrene.

The only thing to do once this happens is to step away for a week or a few, let it sit and recover... and then come back to the first draft and start over with that once you feel like it isn't contagious anymore.

So that's what I've been doing. I've been staying away from it and instead I have been throwing myself into grad school apps.

And right now I have a bad case of Fridays- not focusing on writing anything, not focusing on editing photos, not focusing on editing videos-- but instead, focusing on skipping around the internet at a previously unheard of pace.

In case you're curious... here's what I've been looking at--

Orangette - whose book I am reading (it made me cry at lunch today).

This amazingly rich looking video of HDR video shot with two Canon 5D Mark II cameras.

And a very early review of the Panasonic AF-100.

And... in the spirit of tangents....

 A few pictures of my Grandfather, who turned 91 this year (whew), that I took last week.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Inspiration Part 1 -- Concept

It's taken me a very long time to finally come up with a short that I want to make. Desperately. Want.

See-- I've always been of the mind that you need to be in love with something you create for it to be really great [especially if you weren't necessarily going to have the money to make it right away... lets say...]. So I kept writing things and not making them because, frankly-- they weren't stories that I loved and wanted to invest my time in.

Then, finally...

Well, ... like all amazing things in life- I think inspiration comes when you lease expect it. When you aren't trying and just let yourself be open to what's around you in the world. When you sit and try and try and try... well - that never works for me.

So, one day, when I was watching "His Girl Friday" for the second night in a row and trying desperately not to think about life, work and everything-- a spark lit up in my brain that I could not ignore.

And... out of the blue... there was an idea that I loved.

"Why not make this movie about bloggers?"

So I thought about it for a few days... and then stopped. I didn't want to out-right remake "His Girl Friday." That's stupid.

But, after a few more days... it lingered. There seemed to be something there, that was akin to the spirit that I see in young people [myself, maybe?] in blogger/self-employed environments... a similar... I'm not sure... Just... something that I can feel around me on occasion.

So, I plowed forward. My first instinct was to start by inverting the male-female roles, and setting it in cafe culture instead of an office...and see where I went.

The end result is not really His Girl Friday... or anything close. I'm afraid that my general obsessions took over. But-- still--


I can not do enough to credit that lovely amazing movie [and all those who made it] with getting me to a place where I'm finally excited to make something. Hopefully - the homage won't be over powering and the idea will still seem fresh. But that will be accomplished in the production...

I hope.

And... apparently, you can watch the whole thing on Youtube. How about THAT for progress.

[On a side note. I am not nearly of the mind that every story has been told before and there are no new ideas-- I think there are always new ideas-- but I think they are also always a product of everything that's come before. I think that, especially in film, the way that you tell a story-- the space, the movement, the music, all of the things that color the film are just important as the scene, story, etc. The same story can fit in different place and say complete different things. So don't accuse me of stealing or anything.. yet.]

Photo 1
Photo 2
Photo 3

Sunday, August 29, 2010

On a total and completely seperate note:

I love this poem: 

Adapted from Neruda's "Que dispierte el lenador"

by Allen Ginsberg


Peace for all twilights to come,
peace for the bridge, peace for the wine,
peace for the letters that look for me
and pump in my blood tangled
with earth and love's old chant,
peace for the city in the morning
when bread wakes up,
peace for Mississippi, the river of roots,
peace for my brother's shirt,
peace in the book like an airmail stamp,
peace for the great Kolkhoz of Kiev,
peace for the ashes of these dead
and those other dead, peace for the black
iron of Brooklyn, peace for the letter carrier
going from house to house like the day,
peace for the choreographer shrieking
thru a funnel of honeysuckle vines,
peace to my right hand
that only wants to write Rosario,
peace for the Bolivian, secret as a lump of tin,
peace for you to get married, peace
for all the sawmills of Bio-Bio,
peace to Revolutionary Spain's torn heart
peace to the little museum of Wyoming
in which the sweetest thing
was a pillowcase embroidered with a heart,
peace to the baker and his loaves,
and peace to all the flour: peace
for all the wheat still to be born,
peace for all the love that wants to flower
peace for all those who live: peace
to all the lands and waters.

And here I say farewell, I return
to my house, in my dreams
I go back to Patagonia where
the wind beats at barns
and the Ocean spits ice.
I'm nothing more than a poet:
I want love for you all,
I go wander the world I love:
in my country they jail the miners
and soldiers give orders to judges.
But down to its very roots
I love my little cold country.
If i had to die a thousand times
that's where I'd want to die:
if i had to be born a thousand times
that's where I'd want to be born,
near the Araucanian wilds'
sea-whirled south winds,
bells just brought from the bellmaker.
Don't let anybody think about me.
Let's think about the whole world,
banging on the table with love.
I don't want blood to come back
and soak the bread, the beans
the music: I want the miner
to come with me, the little girl
the lawyer, the sailer, the dollmaker,
let's all go to the movies and come
out and drink the reddest wine.

I didn't come here to solve anything.

I came here to sing.
And for you to sing with me.

Movie things to come soon! I promise.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I think this is the beginning...

...of a beautiful friendship. With you, my readers. ... All 2 of you.

See, I've been holding off on a big[ish] announcement (for me, at least)...
I am embarking on the making of a short film, tentatively called "Friday," but hopefully to be renamed.

I'm letting you all know because I am very excited about it [having not made a short since college], and I want to chart the creation of the film for you online- first, here, at drawing the eye-- but hopefully, once I get my crew together, we'll create a space online for others to contribute.

My dear friend, Kishori, will be working with me. (She is awesome and you should read her blog.)

Tomorrow, I'll start my posts about the process -- starting with talking about writing and revising the script.

Things won't get really rolling until the middle to end of September, but you should keep checking back here for updates on where we are... also-- if you know how to find me the next one of her:

That would be helpful. 

Here's a snyposis for your enjoyment:

On the eve of their rehearsal dinner, Rae and Scott are trying to wrap up the loose ends on their soon-to-be-ended News and Gossip blog. But, just as she is finishing her goodbye column, Rae gets an email she can't ignore and convinces Scott to follow one last lead...

Photo from the NYPL Digital Gallery.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


I like to extol the virtues of digital cameras.

Sometimes I question my own reasoning though.

If someone is "a photographer," in the great all mighty 'artistic' sense... then one should be able to take a great photo with whatever instrument they have available (see these amazing photos taken with iphones).

When I think about this and also about the limitations I feel with my old Canon G9 point and shoot-y type camera, and the results I get... I tend to think that the above is not true about me. A friend told me some of my pictures were 'obvious,' so I've been trying to find some more subtle things. But occasionally there is really low light and my camera gets all grainy regardless of what I do and  I get super frustrated. So I give up.

But I continue to practice. As I did today with a visit to the Cloisters... before I gave up, as described above.

[Also, a benefit of not being preoccupied: when I stopped taking pictures,  and started reading about the art there, I learned about the existence of Lilith... alleged to be Adam's first wife... blew. my. mind.]

Totally beautiful, regardless of my above attempts, which I didn't even really feel like touching up or correcting. These are raw..... But, anyway, you should go and see for yourself.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Taste of Hammonton

When I go home, I can look forward to fresh produce, italian delicacies and most importantly things made by this woman: 

This is my Grandmother. Lucia Ezzi Curcio... and these are her amazing Pizzelle

I grew up around lots of farms and farmers markets:

With lots of produce:

And flowers:

And lots of little Italian Markets.

We like things to be delicious.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The 135th Our Lady of Mount Carmel Festival

So, the little town from which I hail... Hammonton, NJ (also known as "The Blueberry Capital of the World") holds this yearly festival on the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

While I don't know too much about the history... I do know that it started with a few farmers in 1875 and that I've been going since I was a child. You can get a more detailed, if not necessarily definitive, history of the Saint and feast (though not really Hammonton's version) here.

The feast is celebrated every July 16th with a procession of the saints. Some of you may or may not have seen something similar in a certain revered gangster movie sequel. In our little town, it is less about the intrigue and more about simple faith. You have money pinned onto the saints and in return you receive a scapular or prayer card.

It's quite a thing to see, though not as well attended these years as I remember (or, for that matter, as my mother remembers when it was an event in the 60s).

Here are some of my favorite moments and tidbits of the day:

If you are dying for some more Our Lady of Mount Carmel action... you can see more images here.