Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Patti Smith Lights Up My Life

Here is yet another reason to love YouTube and obsessed vloggers (takes one to know one!). Gregg is a San Francisco resident in search of the perfect doornob who also puts together an amazing vlog called Junk Thief.

Gregg has the best of quirky tastes and I just know we'd be the best of pals. In fact, me thinks junk thieves and deadbeats may occupy the same genealogical tree - look closely, they are next to the sloths and the criminally insane. I love the content, editing and feel of Gregg's unique works of art.

Here is Patti Smith singing "You Light Up My Life" on ABC TV's "Kids Are People Too," making a statement that weird combinations are what pushes life forward. Trying to imagine such unlikely couplings in 2007 is hard to imagine. 1979 was really the year of the child... Gregg of Junk Thief Blog

You will have to watch this video to believe it. Seriously. And if you are in a January funk that is threatening to become a February funk, it might just light up your life with its 1979 vibe and its over eager children of the feathered hair and the intense pain and power poured into each note emminating from Patti Smith's mouth...

And thanks for the heads up Gregg.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Vermont's Fine Toons

Last Friday night, the Helen Day Art Center in Stowe was bustling with activity as many fashionable folk in black streamed into its doors for a much anticipated gallery opening. Fine Toon: The Art of VT Cartoonists is an excellent exhibit with pieces by 13 artists with VT ties.

The show’s central connection, of course, is Vermont: The featured artists live here either full- or part-time, or they were born here and moved elsewhere. Most of them are in the first camp — a remarkable fact, given the state’s diminutive size. Then again, the number of artists in Vermont may soon surpass that of cows, if it hasn’t already. Seven Days, Pamela Polston

I like those odds. Although artists provide a very different sort of milk, no less nourishing as Friday night proved.

There were gigantic strawberries dipped in warm chocolate, assorted gourmet cheese platters and a hip art crowd buzzing around the artwork like honey bees. The gallery has a lot to celebrate with a new Executive Director, Nathan Suter, and a new Exhibitions Director, Idoline Duke. Without a doubt, the Helen Day was the happening place to be Friday night!

I shot my very first VT Vlog at this fine event and was lucky enough to talk to James Kochalka - Vermont-based, internationally famous cartoonist/rock superstar!

I was nervous but he was very nice and is not really an elf after all - unless his ears are retractable!? James told us about a brain parasite in humans which is contracted from cats and makes us neurotic. But don't bother throwing out your cat, once you got the parasite, it is there for life. I have yet to research this news but that does explain a lot.

Plus, it turns out that the famous Spandy, who is featured in many of Kochalka's cartoons, is really not all that special after all - perhaps that is what makes her so special?! I am a card-carrying member of the Spandy Fan Club.

I am in the process of editing this piece and establishing a concrete and simple format for the VT Vlogs (short-n-sweet). My goal is to focus on local VT artists and musicians and bring more attention to all the hip and hot VT art happenings. Plus, it gives me an excuse to meet cool artists and that is always good.

In the meantime, here is a brilliant James Kochalka Superstar! music video, "Wash Your Ass" which was shot by local playwright Seth Jarvis. This video needs to be a PSA, for boys and girls the world over who are getting ready to get busy. Better still, it is homegrown and for this, I am proud:

Monday, January 29, 2007

Yo God! You Did the Right Thing.

...or my spoon collection, or my lint ball scrapbooks, or my stapler...

Pssst, Thos. Edison is a no good copy cat thief, pass it on!

Spike Lee would be proud.

Christ, get Condi on the line, this kid is needed in the Middle East!

What a fucking brilliant idea!

My sister prayed for ballet shoes and a trip to France.

Oh Chris, haven't you read W.W. Jacobs' tale of woe, "The Monkey's Paw?" Careful what you wish for or it may just come true and bite you in your 900 year wrinkly old ass!

Thanks for the forward Abbie and btw, Jennifer Horton is a mega bitch!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

VCAM Goes Vroom

There are many exciting things happening over at Vermont Community Access Media these days. Their website is looking super snazzy and their blog details some of the hot changes a foot: Karen is leaving (we'll miss you Karen!!), Seth is stepping up (and getting busy!), RETN is moving in and Burlington Telecom is airing Channel 15! Cha-cha-cha-changes!

And if that isn't enough to get you all hot and bothered, VCAM has put together an awesome commercial advertising all the amazing work they do and the services they offer. This puppy is slick and it is gonna get the word out there in the best possible way.

Good job Seth, Bill and Bear! It looks and sounds (thanks Carrigan) fabulous - and I swear I am not just saying that 'cause I was lucky enough to be in it...erhm, well, maybe that is some of it but it is still really, really good!

In this modern age of mass-media saturation, it warms the heart to know that there is a place we ALL can go to learn how to create, edit, compress and upload videos with the help of a very competent and friendly staff. Where else can someone walk in off the street and broadcast what they need to say on air to the local community?

Like the tagline says, Don't just consume media, make it!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Original Deadbeat Club

Man, this B-52s video brings back the memories. I want to go to their leopard-print wearing, happening hipster party! I wish Michael Stipe and the B-52s were in our club of n'er do wells...

Burning in January

To help rinse the winter blues out of your hair, please to enjoy the sad melodic stylings of The Whitest Boy Alive, a band my pal T-Lo just pointed out to me:

PS If you care to scare yourself half to death, learn more about this creepy disease, Fatal familial insomnia which will kill you in 7-36 months and has no cure. But check out the snazzy symptoms you will experience before you croak:

The disease has four stages, taking 7 to 18 months to run its course:

1. The patient suffers increasing insomnia, resulting in panic attacks and phobias. This stage lasts about four months.
2. Hallucinations and panic attacks become noticeable, continuing about five months.
3. Complete inability to sleep is followed by rapid loss of weight. This lasts about three months.
4. Dementia, turning unresponsive or mute over the course of six months. This is the final progression of the disease, and the patient will subsequently die.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sloths R Us

Scientists can't get sloth to move

Wed Jan 24, 11:46 AM ET

JENA, Germany - Scientists in the eastern German city of Jena said Wednesday they have finally given up after three years of failed attempts to entice a sloth into budging as part of an experiment in animal movement.

The sloth, named Mats, was remanded to a zoo after consistently refusing to climb up and then back down a pole, as part of an experiment conducted by scientists at the University of Jena's Institute of Systematic Zoology and Evolutionary Biology.

Neither pounds of cucumbers nor plates of homemade spaghetti were appetizing enough to make Mats move.

"Mats obviously wanted absolutely nothing to do with furthering science," said Axel Burchardt, a university spokesman.

Mats' new home is the zoo in the northwestern city of Duisburg where, according to all reports, he is very comfortable. - Associated Press

Ah, poor little sloth named Mats did not want to move. Who the hell can blame him? With weather like this and a January funk lurking in the air, I vote for sticking to the trees!

Here are some fun facts about sloths, further proving the fact that sloths and deadbeats have a lot in common:
  • In terms of their sleep, sloths are one of the most somnolent animals ever known, sleeping from 15 to 18 hours each day.
  • Sloths move only when necessary and then very slowly: they have about half as much muscle tissue as other animals of similar weight.
  • While they sometimes sit on top of branches, they usually eat, sleep, and even give birth hanging from limbs. They sometimes die and still continue to hang from the trees.
  • On the ground their maximum speed is 5 feet per minute. They mostly move at 0.5 - 1 foot per minute.

  • They come to the ground, to urinate and defecate, only about once a week.
Sloth facts from Wikipedia

Thanks to the Lovely Linkmeister Lani for the link!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Lucky Star

Yep, this is what I am talking about Retronome! Would it kill you to play some early Madonna, eh? Like something off her first album perhaps? You know, the one simply called "Madonna?" The one I had a cassette tape of and played over and over again in my bedroom as I marveled at her sexual prowess and killer fashion sense.

"Lucky Star" was the first Madonna video I ever saw. I think I probably caught it late at night on a pre-Mtv show called "Night Tracks" that I used to watch at Crystal's house. The second we saw her, we were hooked, like teenage moths to the flame.

We followed suit with forearms thick with jelly bracelets, florescent bows cluttering our ratty bleached hair, cut off lace gloves, chipped nail polish and ripped fishnets. We thought we were so cool and edgy but most of the people in our rural VT town just thought we were crazy.

"Lucky Star" is Madonna at her best. The video's production value is miniscule and it consists simply of Madonna oozing her raw star charms in a small white room with only two back up dancers and a shoddy dance routine to aid her.

She twists, bends and purrs like an alley cat. She is irresistible. She bares her soft belly (I miss the days of her soft belly, she is so hard nowadays), licks her lips, winks and convinces you that you, and you alone, are her lucky star:

PS On a totally unrelated note, I had my first test tonight. Since my Flash course is intermediate and I am so far behind, I figured I would fail it. But, surprise surprise, I know more than I realized and I think I did OK. This school thing is not so bad after all. And I am working on a fun Flash project which combines stop mo, crude animation and doodling - oh yeah!

I am so excited to learn Flash, Dreamweaver, Motion, Illustrator and Photoshop too! It is so cool to work on projects that fascinate you, even if it is sometimes stop and go and even if I am rusty at learning new software. OH BOY, what tech nerd fun!

Now I just have to learn all my lines for The Trojan Woman 'cause we go off book in two weeks - eeeek!!! Lucky star, help my brain increase its processing speeds! PGUON!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Girls Just Want to Get Dry Humped by Strangers (Not)

Yes, yes, I know, what do I expect, right? I mean, I should have known better than to attend 80s night at the Retronome. But what can I say? I like to dance and there are not too many places in town to get your retro groove on.

Yeah! That's the ticket!

Sadly, Retronome plays CRAP 80s music. Their set list is so generic and tired that it makes you want to strangle yourself with a pair of striped legwarmers. Totally Bogus!

For example:

  • Def Leppard - Sure, everyone loves "Pour Some Sugar on Me" but what about a less played track like "Animal"?
  • Beastie Boys - God, if I hear "Fight for Your Right to Party" one more time, oh no, I just barfed a little in my mouth...
  • Cyndi Lauper - I know "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" is standard fare at any 80s night but JESUS, of all the songs on that album, that one is my least favorite and hearing it repeated ad nauseam in underarm deodorant ads makes me want to jam a sharp stick in my eye!
  • Salt-n-Peppa - For the record, "Shoop" is technically a 90s overplayed hit and the same goes for "Let's Talk About Sex" - get your decades straight!

Would it KILL them to play some truly trippendicular 80s music? I mean have a look at the Top 100 albums of the 80s and there is some stellar stuff on there: The Cure, The Smiths, Echo and the Bunnymen, David Bowie, Modern Lovers, Prince, Suzanne Vega, The Clash, REM, XTC, Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, Duran Duran, The Pretenders and U2.

Out of that entire bunch, Prince was the only guy who got some play and it was one of his less interesting hits. They did however, play "Thriller," "Back in Black" and "Sweet Child of Mine" - songs which never get enough play these days, right? Like, gag me with a silver spoon already!

Ah well, what are you gonna do? I ended up having a great time dancing with the girls even if I was dancing to tired old generic hits like "Don't You Want Me" and "Respect" (I still appreciate these songs, but PLEASE, they are SO TIRED!). And excuse me, but how is it possible that they didn't play ONE song by Madonna or The Culture Club? Like, fer sure!

All in all, the night was a bit like a high school flashback, equal parts fun and pain. All the elements were there: loud throbbing music, shots of So Co and lime, taking the stage by storm, soaking in the crazy light show and entertaining ourselves with synchronized dance moves to Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone Now" (which, I swear to God, they played not once but TWICE!!! That is one more time than I need to hear that damn song for the remainder of my lifetime).

Additionally, we had a swell time watching all the Retronome characters: the smelly guy who dances in circles by himself, the ASL guy who stands on the stage and does sign language-like interpretations of the songs to the crowd, the girls grinding up on each other, the couples grinding up on each other, the crowds of solitary, not-dancing dudes lining the dance floor and leering at the ladies, the masses of big flammable hair (where was my lighter?), the copious amounts of free flesh on display (so many push up bras!) and the drunken animal-like behavior. I wonder what Jane Goodall would have made out of it all?

There are uncanny similarities in the nonverbal communication patterns of chimps and humans - kissing, embracing, patting on the back, touching hands, tickling, swaggering, shaking the first, brandishing sticks, hurling rocks. And these patterns appear in similar contexts as those in which they are seen in humans. They mean much the same. - The Jane Goodall Institute

I even got to see two pretty girls making out next to me as a gaggle of men cheered them on. Two seconds later we were avoiding the fight that was about to break out when a clump of thick-necked gents got into a scuffle with security. But what the hell!? We didn't care 'cause we were dancing and the music was loud and it was fun trying to recall every 80s dance move in your dusty repertoire. Rad!

So all this said, it shouldn't really have surprised me when I felt a hand on my waist and turned to see this little grinning fellow suddenly attached to my ass. Apparently, this is also part of the Retronome scene, random strange men sidle on up to you and start grinding your rear. I detached myself quickly enough (after all, he was only half my size) but it left a sour taste in my mouth. Gross Me Out the Door

Twenty minutes later I felt another back end disturbance and spun around to see a taller boy in a striped shirt getting busy back there. I tried to move away and he followed me, apparently interpreting my revulsion as "dancing." As if!

"Help" I mouthed to Suzanne and she rammed into him. Not easily deterred, he attempted to attach himself to Danielle's butt as she reached down to retrieve her purse. One more shove from Suzanne and he was gone for good but first he tried to side swipe her and knock her down in what could almost have been a gnarly Molly Ringwald dance move.

Is it just me, or is this bad behavior? Sure, everyone was grinding and bumping and dancing like strippers but shouldn't you at least make eye contact with a random girl before trying to dry hump her? No Shit Sherlock.

Anyway, before we knew it, the last song of the night was playing ("Hit the Road Jack" gets the point across). The boy in the striped shirt had found a girl receptive to his gropings and they were frantically grinding and sucking face in a corner. Nice Play Shakespeare!

All in all, it was a fun drunken evening. And it does feel good to dance, sweat and get your groove on, even if the music is of the slightly sucky variety. And as we made our way back to the car in the freezing cold past the gaggles of drunks lining Main Street, we were thankful for the warmth of our coats and glad we weren't one of the hapless under-dressed girls wearing ONLY a tube top and a mini skirt 'cause that would fucking suck. Smooth move, X-Lax!

And now, to help clear the taste o' barf from your palate, here is some Echo and the Bunnymen and a totally awesome song to dance to:

PS And thanks to Margot and Scott for sitting through the flashback evening. Psyche! Hard to follow Pan's Labyrinth with a suitable activity but at least we weren't in Franco's fascist Spain, eh?? Like, that would be so totally heinous.

PPS Totally tubular 80s slang taken from this radical 80s Glossary.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Comics and a Mix Tape

Sometimes the universe is kind to you and, just when you need it the most, along comes an unexpected pick me up in your PO box. What more could a girl ask for? Comics and a mix tape are like chocolates and flowers to some of us.

Nathan Rice makes comics. They are dark and raw and ugly and honest. They cover all of the good stuff like sex, politics, angst, alcoholism, depression and body fluids. Nathan has tall spiky Edward Scissorhands hair and an attitude that takes no prisoners.

And better still, Nathan made me a mix tape. Hurrah! And it's a good one too! It's been years since I got a proper mix tape and this one made my day. It has all the good fixings with drawings, hip hop and an eclectic set list. Nick Hornby would be proud.

And why am I so lucky? 'Cause Nathan saw my Mix Tape vlog on YouTube and thought I sounded bitter, so he made me a tape! Hurrah for bitterness and YouTube!

You can read Nathan's comics at The Daily Compulsion and let's not forget about visiting him on MySpace. Ah, the wonders of technology. Thanks Nathan and keep on pouring that pain, booze and ink into your kick ass comics!

Ice Castles

Today it was sunny and cold. The light reflected nicely off the newly-formed hard crust of snow which covered the UVM campus. Trudging through this alien landscape felt magical. And then, lo and behold, in the middle of the campus green, some industrious snow fairies created a snow sculpture for all to enjoy.

And what exactly is it? Some sort of a Stone Hedge rip off? A meeting place for Aslan and his many followers, which include a plethora of Talking Beasts, Centaurs, Fauns, Dryads, Dwarfs, Satyrs, Naiads, Hamadryads, Silvans, Unicorns, and Winged Horses? Or was it simply a homage to the 1978 film, Ice Castles (whose album we proudly own)? Oh lord, now I will never get that Melissa Manchester song out of my head...

Looking Through the Eyes of Love
Melissa Manchester
(this song was the soundtrack to my childhood,
we love you Robby Benson!)

Please, don't let this feeling end
It's everything I am
Everything I want to be
I can see what's mine now
Finding out what's true
Since I found you
Looking through the eyes of love
Now, I can take the time
I can see my life
As it comes up shining now
Reaching out to touch you
I can feel so much
Since I found you
Looking through the eyes of love
And now, I do believe
That even in a storm we'll find some light
Knowing you're beside me, I'm all right
Please, don't let this feeling end
It might not come again
And I want to remember
How it feels to touch you
How I feel so much
Since I found you
Looking through the eyes of love

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Lev's Lovely Loneliness

Years ago, I worked with this peculiar guy Lev at a dot com animation company in San Francisco called Protozoa that went out of business not too long after I left it. I was getting paid $15/hr to do not much of anything. It was the dot com boom and I was loving it.

I spent my days talking to the writers who were quirky and talented. I twiddled my thumbs and sometimes I surfed the internet. There was a lot of money flowing into the company at that time and they kept hiring more people. More people to twiddle their thumbs with me.

Their talent pool was pretty impressive. Artists like Lev and his brother Emre Yilmaz (gotta love a brother team), spoken word rockstar Bucky Sinister, filmmaker Molly Lynch (who got me the gig, thanks Molly!), Renaissance man Buzz Hays (he produced Swimming with Sharks!) and musician and writer Beth Lisick. The place was hopping with talent but the funny thing was, during the period of time that I worked there, we rarely turned out much product.

Located in an old mayonnaise factory, DotComix has three motion-capture stages, a blue screen set-up, plus a portable performance animation stage for producing certain live events out-of-house. They are in the process now of retrofitting their space to accommodate the brisk expansion of programming and requisite creative personnel. Hayes is keen on ramping up to an even greater series output, confident in relying on the fast turnaround of DotComix’ production style. - Lee Dannacher

Dotcomix did have a super cool motion capture suit and they pioneered Alive!, motion capture software that could bring animation to life fast and cheap. This silly looking suit was the company's main draw and what they used to animate hundreds of cartoons such as Sister Randy and Duke 2000. One afternoon, actor Michael Keaton, AKA Superman and Mr.Mom, came in to the shop to try on the suit. I recall his lips being even puffier in person than on the screen.

In those halcyon days, there were lots of parties on the Dotcomix rooftop with free flowing booze and barbequed meat. We car pooled to the city from the East Bay and sometimes Beth's roomate, the uber hip rock star Miles of Beulah would join us. Oh how I hated being stuck in a car with so much coolness oozing out.

I only worked at Protozoa for a couple of months but I enjoyed every damn lazy minute of it. I wish the salad days could have lasted longer but I agreed to work a gig at a non-profit down the street in So Mo. Sorry to hear the company went out of business but all its talents are doing fine elsewhere.

Wait a minute, where was I? Traipsing down some dusty corridor of water-colored memories yet again? Oh that's right, I started remembering this job and these artists 'cause I recently rediscovered Lev's work on MySpace (also known as, My New Addiction).

Lev's comics are sharp, witty, painful, and honest. Quite refreshing. And Lev can sing some bad ass karaoke so watch the hell out. He also makes brilliant movies that have played all over the world. And let's not forget his Eraserhead-hair, his crafty t-shirt advertising schemes and his supreme self-love mixed with excruciating self-loathing (lovely combo).

Man, I forgot how much I love this guy. I am gonna have to indulge in a mini-Lev film marathon this weekend. To see more of Lev's work, check out his website and do not miss the best piece of fan mail ever received. Below is the reason why girls all over the world love Lev:

And for the fellows, some HOT HOT cartoon SEX:

20 Years of Snow

To truly embrace the student (deadbeat) life, I have been walking all over the place. No car for me, no sir. It is a little bit harder to get around now that there is snow everywhere but it is oh so nice to look at, even as my fingers are going numb and my glasses are fogging up.

Here is a montage of pics I took on one of my frequent walks around town. Keep in mind that my fingers nearly fell off from the cold while taking these pictures:

The song, "20 Years of Snow," is by Regina Spektor and it has some haunting lyrics:

He's a wounded animal
He lives in a matchbox
He's a wounded animal
And he's been coming around here

He's a dying breed
He's a dying breed

His daughter is twenty years of snow falling
She's twenty years of strangers looking into each other's eyes
She's twenty years of clean
She never truly hated anyone or anything

She's a dying breed
She's a dying breed

She says I'd prefer the moss
I'd prefer the mouth
A baby of the swamps
A baby of the south
I'm twenty years of clean
And I never truly hated anyone or anything
Twenty years of clean
Twenty years of clean

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

So Fanciful, So Savage

Out of the bosom of the Air,
Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare,
Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
Silent, and soft, and slow
Descends the snow.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Snow-Flakes

Come, see the north-wind's masonry,
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.
Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
So fanciful, so savage, naught cares he
For number or proportion.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Snow-Storm

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farmhouse at the garden's end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier's feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Snow-Storm