July 2009


1. Getting my socks blown off by Yjastros, the Albuquerque-based, internationally acclaimed (and preemenent in America) Flamenco Repertory Company.

Dancing so fierce you'll dream of tigers and pumas.

Dancing so fierce you'll dream of tigers and pumas.

Seriousy, if you ever get the chance to see their artisitc director, Joaquin Encinias, dance, take it. He will mesmerize and enthrall you. And the rest of them won’t exactly fall down on the job, either.

2. Drinking coffee

This is a picture of the interior of my chest.

This is a picture of the interior of my chest.

Dear Satellite and Winnings Coffee Company: You are both welcome for your respective profit margins. It was my pleasure.

3. Going to Austin, TX.

I have no idea who these Hipsters are, but they fairly accuratly depict my feelings about Austin.

I have no idea who these Hipsters are, but they fairly accuratly depict my feelings about Austin.

Highlights include The LBJ Presidential Library and Museum and Redbud Lake.

Lowlights (blacklights?) include Lone Star Beer and The Sun.

4. Doing a lot of Vintage Shopping in Austin, TX.

Me, in my new Vintage Texan duds

Me, in my new Vintage Texan duds

If you go, definetly check out New Bohemia (and adjacent New Brohemia) in the fashionable South Congress neighborhood (also known as SoCo if you’re an alcoholic [read: Texan]), as well as Cream Vintage on Guadalupe St. boarding the Campus of the University of Texas (I am told this stretch of Guadalupe St. is known as “The Drag” by fashionable “Longhorn” students and “Locals”. For what it’s worth, I think “The Drag” is a really poor choice of title for any part of a city that is supposed to have fun things to do on it).

Both establishments (as well as their many fellows) are surprisingly affordable with a smashing selection. Very cool stuff.

5. Being surprised by the existance of something cool in Texas outside of Austin (in Amarillo, of all places).

The 806

The 806

The 806 is, from what I can tell, the only coffee shop/vegetarian eatery in the city of Amarillo. They have really quite fantastic coffee as well as incredibly tolerable food, though my nachos did take about 19 hours to cook. The only knock against this place, really, is that you have to pay for water (sort of understandable, given what West Texas looks like). But overall, a definite gem in the rough. They even have art! On the walls! In West Texas!

6. Not being in Texas.

Overall, I think a positive choice given the alternative.

7.  Watching a lot of Harvey Birdman

Harvey Birdman, in a moment of agony.

Harvey Birdman, in a moment of agony.

Best program on Adult Swim ever. Bar none.

(Except for Cowboy Bebop, of course. Also, Metalocalypse is a close second. A very, very close second.)

[Squidbillies is terrible.]

8. Reading a biography of the 32nd American President.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Nations first "Balla-dent"

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Nations first "Balla-dent"

I continue to chug along of Conrad Black’s exceptional and truly epic Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Champion of Freedom. Weighing in at over 1100 pages, this tomb is one of the most incisive, wide-ranging, detailed and thought provoking Historical works I have ever read. Not only does it provide a vivid portrait of the man himself (both laudatory and critical, in turn), but also the unprecedented events he presided over and confronted, and descriptions of just about every human being ever involved in those events. Fantastic, fantastic stuff.

9. Seeing world renowned improv and sketch comedy in Albuquerque

The Pajama Men

The Pajama Men

The Pajama Men (Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez) have received plaudits from such diverse sources as The Chicago Tribune, The Albuquerque Alibi, The Scotsman (of Edinburgh), and The London Times and awards from just about every fringe festival worth mentioning in the UK, Canada and Australia. And they’re currently premiering a new show, in Albuquerque, at the Q-Staff Theater. Oh, and it’s freaking hilarious.

Check these guys out, they’re gonna be superstars.

10. Watching a lot of Baseball

"Awww, Snap!"

"Awww, Snap!"

Let’s go Red Sox, let’s go.

(I lead a successful life.)


I’m a huge fan of wonderful photography. I am also fortunate to have a number of wonderful photographers as friends (hi Elizabeth! hi JR! hi Kevin!) These connections have led me to follow Kyle Cassidy, a very talented photographer imbedded in a certain nexus of nerdery (Neil Gaiman/Amanda Palmer/etc) that I appreciate.

Anyway, Kyle recently concieved and executed a project called the Hive, where he tapped 22 followers of his blog/friends to carry a camera around for 2 days, taking a picture of whatever they were currently facing at the cue of occasional text messages. JR Blackwell was one of them, and her blog first alerted me to the project; of course, I followed up, and wow! Very engaging.

One of JR’s pics:

a JR Blackwell photo for The Hive

a JR Blackwell photo for The Hive

Explore the Hive. Description from the site:

As fine art photography increasingly at times adopts the tropes of snapshots I often find myself in galleries wondering if the artist didn’t possess some sort of faulty camera whose shutter tripped randomly. This got me wondering — “What if I were able to control the camera around someone else’s neck from far away? They’d go about their lives, and at random times, I’d use a remote control to take a photo. What would I see? This was the basis of the Hive Photography Project. I got a group of volunteers scattered across the country to carry their cameras with them everywhere for two days and, from dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of miles away, I triggered their shutters via an SMS text message.

Ultimately, I’m not sure what this proves. Perhaps that people have a desire to be part of something, and a desire to create, or that from idle hands will blossom art with a little effort or maybe that it doesn’t take an Infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of cameras to get a gallery show in New York.

In conjunction with any of those, it shows that technology enables people to collaborate on projects that even a few years ago would have required a Herculean effort. Some of these will fail, some will succeed, and the rest will land somewhere in the middle.

Hello again friends! I am pleased to report that I have managed to keep up my film viewing at a good pace since the last update.

Week 24: Ice Age: The Meltdown. British Airways actually has a pretty solid set of films that they make available to international travelers. So of I course I chose to watch the sequel to Ice Age, as I really didn’t have the energy to watch anything without squirrels in it. Like the first movie, The Meltdown captures a good cross-section of cute animals, apropro real-world themes and oddly risque adult humor – but, really, who cares about anything other than the saber-toothed squirrel?

Thats right.

That's right.

Week 25: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. I remember having no idea what this movie was supposed to be about, based on the previews. My friend selected it as the movie to watch on a slow evening while hanging out at my buddies place in Edinburgh; such a good call!  It hits an exact tone of comic quirkiness that resonates well with me; it’s also really filmically interesting. Done in that faux-documentary style that’s all the rage these days, this homage/sendup of Jacques Cousteau and nature films managed to make me both laugh hysterically and WTF constantly. Which is good. Highly recommended, if you’re into red caps, speedos and Bill Murray.

Week 26: A Fish Called Wanda. Classic, curtosy again of British Airways! John Cleese and Jamie Lee Curtis star in the ’88 comedy concerning crime, love, revenge and fish. I think I saw this for the first time when I was, like, 12, and my memory does not deceive me – it’s great. John Cleese, who also co-wrote the script, plays as straight a man as I think he’s capable of, while the rest of the cast scrambles around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to get their hands on a whole bunch o’ diamonds. A few laugh-out-loud moments, great sexual comedy, and some very poignent vignettes. Great film.

Week 27: Azur and Asmar. As it turns out, I now have discounted admission to the Gene Siskel Film Center here in Chicago, which a cursory glance at their programming will convice you is a totally rad thing. Last week I checked it out for the first time, attending a screening of this French animated film. Somewhat of a meditation on the definition of beauty and the nature of family and brotherhood, I was a little underwhelmed, mostly by the animation style. While the backgrounds and environments were rendered in a wonderful cel style, the actual character animations looked like Flash. Example:

See? Wierd!

See? Wierd!

So the dissonance in the animation actually made it difficult for me to follow the story. And it ended with a dance party. Which is not bad in and of itself, but was a little bollywood-esque in an inappropriate way, I thought.

Week 28: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I have a thing for Tim Burton (surprise, surprise). I saw this when it came out, which was rad, and the watched it recently with one of my new neighbors, which was also rad, because the movie is – well, it’s rad. I mean, it’s hard to top the 1971 original, but I think this film actually co-exists with it, rather than attempts to replace it. It’s in a wierder zone, with an even creepier edge to it and some really mindful cruelty on the part of Wonka.

It’s also the beginning, I think, of Burton’s latest phase of film-making, which I affectionately refer to “I’m bored with my own work so I’m going to make movies that are even wierder” phase. I still like them (I mean, Sweeny Todd? That movie rules), but I wouldn’t be surprised if the mass market starts being put off by his films over the next couple of years. Good thing we have Guillermo del Toro to fill in the cultural gap.

Over the half-way point, and still caught up! Huzzah!

The Rankings, as of 7/11/09:

New Releases

  1. Milk (Week 1)
  2. Watchmen (Week 11)
  3. Gran Torino (Week 2)
  4. Star Trek (Week 19)
  5. Push (Week 10)
  6. Terminator Salvation (Week 21)

New To Me!

  1. Rear Window (Week 12)
  2. Let The Right One In (Week 23)
  3. Traffic (Week 17)
  4. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. (Week 22)
  5. The Exorcist (Directors Cut) (Week 7)
  6. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (Week 8 )
  7. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Week 25)
  8. Hellboy (Week 3)
  9. Serenity (Week 5)
  10. Ice Age: The Meltdown (Week 24)
  11. Conan the Barbarian (Week 16)
  12. Formula 51 (Week 6)
  13. Azur and Asmar (Week 27)
  14. Slaughter of the Vampires (Week 18)
  15. The Hunger (Week 13)

Old Favorites

  1. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Week 9)
  2. The Great Escape (Week 15)
  3. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Week 28)
  4. Hook (Week 4)
  5. A Fish Called Wanda (Week 26)
  6. Dracula (1979 version) (Week 20)
  7. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Week 14)

Pretty simple. Both are about 4 minutes long and totally worth watching. They’re also both kind of about the impossibility of a robot really being human, though (ironically) Powerless has a happy ending, and REACH is really sad. Check ’em out.



(both via Webomator)