Okay, No More Politics

30 08 2005

For a while.

There aren’t many sure things in life. You know that all of us will die at some point. You know that reality television is going to continue to suck and get better ratings than documentaries. And you also know that my comment log will drop to zero whenever I do a post about politics.

So… the people have spoken (or at least the four of you who read the blog). No more political postings.

For now.

Conspicuous Consumption

27 08 2005

Courtesy of the oil companies.

In this era of rising gasoline prices (we topped three bucks a gallon in some places here — if this keeps up we’ll soon be up to Europe in our prices) and an acknowledged stretching of oil resources, it’s so comforting to know that we can rely on our Fantastic Oil Companies to look our for our conservation needs.

This is a camera phone image.  Sorry for the quality.I pulled into a local off-brand gas station on Thursday to pump my weekly forty buck allotment of gas and found this sign sitting on top of the pump. It’s so wonderful to see the idea of conservation taking root in our culture, isn’t it? Hey, why stop at one gas guzzler when you could get a dozen? There are so many families who have absolute, strong, obvious needs for twelve cars that this promotion makes a of sense.

To move out of satiric mode, just what the hell were they thinking? Other than satisfying the American need for bigger, more obnoxious excess, I can’t figure out why anyone would be captivated by this. Twelve cars? Gifts for the relatives (who won’t have to pay the gift tax?)?

While you’re mulling this over, take a look at this article from last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. It talks about how we’ve probably passed the point of no return in regards to our dependence on oil. Peter Maas says the following:

Yet the problem is far greater than the brief havoc that could be wrought by a speeding zealot with 50 pounds of TNT in the trunk of his car. Concerns are being voiced by some oil experts that Saudi Arabia and other producers may, in the near future, be unable to meet rising world demand. The producers are not running out of oil, not yet, but their decades-old reservoirs are not as full and geologically spry as they used to be, and they may be incapable of producing, on a daily basis, the increasing volumes of oil that the world requires. ”One thing is clear,” warns Chevron, the second-largest American oil company, in a series of new advertisements, ”the era of easy oil is over.”

Think about that while waiting for your dozen cars to come in.

Let’s Coin A New Word and Spread It Over The Net, Okay?

27 08 2005

You know how there’s the expression vaporware for software that’s promised but not available yet. Well, yesterday I’m out at lunch with a few people from my Internet gig at Universal Music and we’re talking about the company’s software that can watch your keystrokes, and what files you’re saving on your computer and when you sign-on etc. etc. etc. Robert gave it a name that I think is so appropriate that we should make sure that everyone on the Net uses this expression within a month.


You heard it here first. Godware. Spread it around.

For All Of You Who Have NEVER Been In A Relationship — You Can Skip To The Next Blog

24 08 2005

Heather Armstrong, over in her blog DOOCE, today describes a Married Person Fight that is so traditional, so typical, that it should be republished in every single book on marriage and relationships that is sold in bookstores or online. She should donate it to the curriculum of every class on human relationships in every school in the world. She should force every person who sits across the table, dreamy-eyed on a first date, to read the things before offering to drive the other one back to their place for drinks.

Have I made myself clear? Clink on the link people. Click it now before you impale yourself on a sharp object after your next fight with your “I’m Not Sure Why You’re Called ‘Significant Other’.”

Yes, even you Tamara.

Let’s Make A Deal, Okay?

24 08 2005

I promise that if you stop asking me “Was it safe in Jordan?” that I’ll stop forcing you to look at my pictures of Jordan on my Flickr site. Okay?

I never for one single millisecond felt in danger in Jordan. Not in the big capital city of Amman, not in the tourist towns of Petra and Wadi Rum, and not in the Bedouin camp where we watched the Bedouin Arts Festival.

Not one single second. Okay?

Classes Start Today

22 08 2005

Every year, about this time, since I’ve been teaching at USC (only about three years full-time) I get this tickle in my stomach. It’s part excitement (like going on your first ferris wheel) and part fear (like going on your first ferris wheel) (hmmmm) and it always coincides with the first week of classes.

I know that I’m supposed to be real grown-up about this, and move forward calmly and with great aplomb (I have horrific visions of what an “aplomb” actually is, but I won’t torture you with them now — you’ll have to beg). But I find teaching here so exciting, and the students so damned bright, that I always have to think twice before stepping out into class on the first day.

Tonight I am back to teaching one of my favorite classes — the graduate class which is laughingly called “Intermediate Editing.” Actually, it’s more like Basic Editing. Now that everyone has got their Final Cut, iMovie or Avid Xpress Pro systems at home or in high school, everybody thinks they know everything they need to know about editing when they walk in the door. Au contraire!! What they know about editing falls more under the category of “putting shots together.” The actual “how to think like an editor” doesn’t happen until this class. It’s actually powerfully fun, and if the students weren’t so smart, I’d probably hate it. But, as it is, I get to know 12 really interesting people who all are incredibly passionate about making films.

I LOVE my work.

Speaking of passion in filmmaking I would run, not walk, to the theatres when THE CONSTANT GARDENER opens in a week or two. I was fortunate enough to be able to see a screening of this on Saturday, and it is a very powerful, very well-made film by the director of CITY OF GOD. It concerns a staid British diplomat in Kenya who is married to a very passionate woman who finds a “cause” there. He knows he loves her, but he doesn’t know what that means and he certainly doesn’t know why. After her death (and I am not giving anything away by mentioning that; it’s in the first minutes of the film) he begins to find out the answers to both of those things and the film evolves into an extremely plausible thriller that comes from the John Le Carre novel from which the film was born.

Told very much though his point of view (not literally, but emotionally, the film puts us squarely in the middle of his personality and his personality changes. The filmmaking is consistently interesting, Claire Simpson’s editing is poetic and demanding all at the same time (those of you who recall the twists and turns in time of CITY OF GOD will find this film simpler but just as interesting to follow), and the performances are all excellent, down to the day players.

Wonderful work. Let’s all make movies like this.

Michael Bay Protests MARCH OF THE PENGUINS

17 08 2005

This article from THE ONION about says it all. For those of you who don’t know THE ONION (where have you been, by the way?) you should take the authorship here with a major rock of salt. However, it does have some fantastic lines.

For Christ’s sake, there was not a single crane shot in the whole movie!

This film is an insult to the great men and women who spend countless hours in front of computers creating incredibly realistic CGI icebergs.

What kind of a world do we live in when a futuristic techno-thriller starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson as escaped clones on levitating jet bikes doesn’t outgross the shit out of a glorified Discovery Channel rerun? Don’t people realize how much money I spent? How many people it took to bring that vision to the screen? Do people realize how many rewrites and punch-ups we went through? I paid my writers millions of dollars, and they were some of the best in the biz. You know who wrote their script? A bunch of birds.

Dig in campers, it’s worth the read.

Jordan Post #6

1 08 2005

Amman Vegetable Market
Originally uploaded by Schnittman.

Unfortunately for me, all of my Jordan posts will now have to be done from here in the USofA. I got back on Friday night and have spent the last few days, alternately sleeping and trying to see people before I head off to Chicago this morning (Monday) for a conference.

The last week in Amman was completely hectic, with the students completing their films (some of which were quite wonderful, and all of which were impressive considering how much they learned in less than three weeks). Then there was the screening, the wrap party and the after party. At my age, going clubbing is not usually an option, but somehow I found myself in the middle of Nai, on my last night, pogo-ing around. Since my cab to the airport was at 5am, the idea was to keep me up until I had to leave.

It worked. I barely had time for a shower (there was NO WAY I was going to get on the plane drenched in sweat) after an evening of dancing and hubbly-bubbling, that included a party at the top of Amman, in the 200 year old Citadel.

Some pictures may follow, though I didn’t really take many worth saving.

In any case, I’m off to Chicago in 60 minutes, so I’ll talk to you from there.