Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Videos, Music, It's An Extravaganza!

As promised, for your appreciation or ridicule, here are the two main projects I did for my Digital Video Editing class at the Northwest Film Center School of Film.

The first one, "Slacker Manifesto," is the final project. The point of the project was to create a portrait of a person, place, or thing. As often happens, I had an idea that just would not go away, and despite its somewhat tangential relationship to the project's stated goal, I went ahead and did it anyway. This despite the fact that the portrait is of an imaginary person -- well, sort of an alter ego, really. Plus, the last few videos I made were pretty arty and heavy, and I wanted to do something fun and frivolous. I will preface the video by saying that the views expressed in the film are not necessarily those of the filmmaker, even though the filmmaker wrote, edited, and "stars" in it.

For the second video, each student was given a tape with 60 minutes of stock footage and told to edit down to a 1-2 minute piece to accompany a haiku that each student wrote based on the film. We had no say in what footage we got -- we simply had to make something of what we were given. It was an interesting project. The footage comes from the Prelinger Archives, a foundation whose goal is to preserve old films that otherwise would be lost. These aren't movies, usually, but instead are old industrial/trade/educational films, student films, home movies, old short films and other footage. I highly recommend visiting the site and cruising around. The search function is very good and you'll turn up some interesting stuff that you won't find anywhere else. (A high-speed connection is highly desirable, however.) Anyway, here's my haiku.

In other news, "The Unlikely Event," the electronica band of which Argotnaut and I are a part, have finally posted some songs. You'll find them here.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Chicago visit highlights

Every once in a while I get an urge to make a pilgrimage to Chicago to visit old friends. Such an urge was triggered a few weeks ago when some old buddies informed me of a couple of very cool bands playing during the weekend of April 6-8. As it happens, the Cubs' home opener was scheduled for April 9. Thus, a road trip -- or more precisely a "crammed in economy class for four hours" air trip -- was born. A quick search of Travelocity.com turned up a good deal at Hard Rock Hotel Chicago . Here were the highlights:

Friday night: I arrived in Chicago to one of the coldest April days on record. Figures. Fortunately for the pigeons, they could keep warm around the "Eternal Flame" in Daley Plaza. One can almost hear them say "Coo! Coo! Thanks for the flame, Chicago war veterans!"

I dumped my stuff at the hotel, scored my Cubbie ticket via the concierge (aided by another Travelocity perk: a $25 ticket voucher),and then it was off to see "Led Zeppelin 2",at Martyrs'. The band was quite good (although they had decided only to do material from the first four LZ records, so no "Achilles Last Stand") and I had a chance to catch up with many folks I hadn't seen in a long time.

Saturday I test rode a new/old bike, a P-38 recumbent. I owned a P-38 in the summer of 2002 and loved it, but had to sell it in the wake of the calamity, because we needed the dough. The Bacchetta Giro I have now is a nice bike but the seat is very high and I'm uncomfortable balancing precariously on one tippy-toe whenever I have to stop. I had been thinking about going back to a P-38 but wanted to test ride one first just to make sure I would be comfortable on it -- the seat back on a P-38 is relatively vertical which makes for a somewhat "closed" riding position, as opposed to the more laid-back Giro. There are no P-38 dealers in Oregon but Rapid Transit bike shop in Chicago had not one but two for test rides! After a few seconds on the P-38, I felt as if I'd been reunited with an old friend. An added bonus is that I got the floor model and saved a few bucks. It's a lovely fire-engine red and I'll be sure to post pictures in a few days when it arrives.

Sunday I went visit Millennium Park in Chicago. Very impressive, and I imagine even more so in the summer when the gardens are in bloom. As it was, the brisk, mostly sunny spring day helped provide some nice shots even with my crappy phone camera. Here's a long shot showing the "cloud gate" sculpture at the left, and the stage for the outdoor arena in the background:

The "cloud gate" sculpture -- known affectionately in Chicago as "The Bean" is a giant kidney-shaped, chrome-skinned orb. As you might expect, the reflections are very cool:

If you walk under the crease of the sculpture, the reflections become more abstract:

On the other side of the stage is an enormous, winding, chrome-and-wood bridge. Here you can better see the ornamentation over the stage, which kind of reminds me of an enormous watch spring that has become permanently unsprung, or perhaps a pair of wrecked "Chinese handcuffs" of the gods.

Sunday, Yakuza at Beat Kitchen. Also very cool.

Monday, the Cubbie home opener. The weather relented a little bit and graced the crowd with a high of 43 degrees -- for about three seconds. As is my usual approach when I go to a game alone, I got my scorecard, two hot dogs and a pretzel. Awesome. Plus, pretty good seats:

The Cubbies lost, but it was still cool to be at the park. Afterwards, a dinner at one of my favorite Chicago pubs, the Duke of Perth:

Tuesday, back home. And none to soon. Tuesday's Cub game was even colder, and Wednesday's was snowed out!

The trip was a great time but it's good to be back home with my lovely spouse and stinky little boys. And actual springtime weather!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Multi-media fest

The clamoring throngs have insisted that I write a new post (actually, one person asked because, I think, he was afraid I'd passed on or something). So here it is. The crank in me lately has considered abandoning the blog thing because it's just so overdone. But then my family would never know what the heck was going on with me. The one thing I do less often than post on my blog is call members of my family. And they are all kind of the same way, which is weird because we're such social blabbermouths. So I shall make an effort to update more frequently.

There has been one notable development: I believe I have decided on a course of action for the immediate future. As regular readers know, I've been unable to come to a decision about how to best apply myself. Many factors are involved: making a living, doing something meaningful, utilizing my talents, acquiring skills that would be transferable to Europe if Argotnaut and I end up there in a couple of years, etc.

A few weeks ago it occurred to me that perhaps teaching English as a second language (TESL) might be an excellent choice. It meets all the above criteria and addresses an interest that my vocational survey turned up: a bias towards teaching. My vocational guidance counselor even suggested teaching, and she'd known me for all of two hours. Must be SOMETHING there.

Portland State University offers both a certificate in TESL and a Masters Degree. Of course, the degree would make me far more attractive to potential employers. The downside, obviously, is two years of full time Graduate school, or as John Irving calls it, "Gradual School," because it's where you gradually learn you don't want to go to school anymore.

There are several aspects to be investigated -- such as do I REALLY want to go back to school full time for two years?, considering that I haven't done that since Reagan was President. But hey, that's just more blog fodder! I'll be sure to keep my restless readers informed.

In the meantime, here's a little movie I did of our pets:

And also, here's what Argotnaut did on her Spring Break! Maybe this full time student thing isn't so tough after all! (That's a joke, my dove!)

Please note how often we change the sheets!