Recent reads with accompanying ramblings, (or HE BOUGHT A BOOK, I CAN'T BELIEVE WHAT HE DID NEXT)

These are the last few non-fiction books I've read:

Now, I'm not going to review them nor rate them. They all have some very useful information, and by doing a quick search, you can see if you want to add any of them to your library. All three come highly rated over at Derek Sivers site, which was actually how I found 2/3. 

His estimation is higher than mine on average when it comes to these three, but they are all worthwhile reads. The most practical one being THE TIME PARADOX. This has to do with the fact that Phil Zimbardo is a very well respected psychologist in the field. I first learned about him during my time at UCLA. 

A couple observations in the last month. I prefer to read non-fiction on my IPAD AIR as opposed to fiction in analog. The highlighting and notes function in the ibooks app are incredibly practical and useful tools. I send these notes to my evernote and have access to them at all times. Second, most non-fiction "motivational" (in quotes since this is not technically the genre of these books, but really, it is) books are very closely tied to their specific zeitgeist of cultural thinking;  meaning, they share ideas freely from each other. These books start to bleed the same names, the same studies and the same stories. It's like one continuous TED TALK, with the same people feeding of one another. 

This is not a bad thing, just the nature of the game. It's what's in, and ultimately, it's whats working. Or, to put it more bluntly, it's whats in their blogs in the first place. 

The same situation arises in true motivation style books written by lets say, Tony Robbins, Jim Rohn or Zig Ziglar. And for the most part, you are better of reading them, then before. The greatest value might just be in releasing a cynic from his/her own self imposed prison. To give hope to the idea that we can all change, at the moment we decide to. And it's greatest fault might be the dependency they create, much in the same way therapist keep clients for years. It becomes a feel good drug. Hardly a negative but you have to move away from just the good feeling these books give off..

So, get the information, and move forward. Take the knowledge, and then, take action. Don't just buy another book.

 

 

  

 

Mirs - Take Away (Official Visuals)

Took a long while to finish this out for a host of reasons, but, the video is now live. I collaborated with my friend Tom Flynn on the concept, and we where both so busy with other projects that it never finalized. The footage, sitting all alone, for many months, deep in the throes of a mechanical hard drive in Burbank. The song itself was released in 2012.


what's the haps on the craps....

This was a phrase used repeatedly by one of my best friends in high school. Craps referred to the actually dice game, what us hooligans engaged in during our 15min break between our 2nd and 3rd class, around 10 o'clock.

But to answer the question, a whole hell of a lot. Unfortunately, not all of it is ready for a consuming or contemplating form.

I've supplanted my filmmaking with more commercial work. It fulfills needs in two ways. One, I love being on set. Two, I get to work out technical things at a faster rate. I could have done this much sooner, but, I come from the "sell-out" culture, something the kids of today have no conception of, since we are post sell-out. Mainly, it doesn't exist. The world is just one giant commercial now.

ADR and acting....

Coming from an acting background, I personally despise ADR. Sometimes, like today, it is a necessary evil. However, with that said, the audio specialist's who make it work are amazing at what they do, and at what they can endure.

On Hollywood films, ADR is par for the course. But, something is always lost in the translation. The level of disconnect from the initial scripted (or not) words, to the performance,  to the sterile soundproof booth is the grandest of artifice. I cringe whenever I find myself in that situation.

However, my experience tells me that it's never as bad as it is when you hear it, raw, out of the monitors at the sound studio.     

my man Ojan at Stems Post.

my man Ojan at Stems Post.

the lusting after things beyond our control....

One thought of late has been about my relatively recent obsession with animation. Ghibli obviously being the crown jewel of the cinematic version, has my complete undivided attention, a feat of impossibility these attention starved days. My most anticipated movie this year for me, the one that really gets me excited is THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA, and the previous year was Miyazaki's THE WING RISES. 

That happened to be my favorite movie going experience as well. I was all alone in the theater. 

My reasoning can be in due part to Ghibli's scarcity. Miyazaki is retired, and Takahata I'm assuming will too. Takahata is in his late seventies. They are the last of the 2D master's and with them retired, the cinematic art form of traditional animation will suffer a great, incalculable loss.

I also feel that my obsession is driven by the fact that this process is so foreign to me, but such a specialized gift that is not aided much by other things in it's raw sense. It is an expression from hand to screen. And, I also know with almost absolute certainty that I can never personally draw a 2D movie. (However, I would be more than happy to direct. In fact, I have a concept ready to go, so go ahead and hit that contact button if you're a a visionary first, and a super cool investor second. Thanks.)

We often do storyboards in live action, then film it. The process itself is always a reenactment of something. A reenactment of life when we work in the pseudo realism tradition of today. One that is in love with it's scripts.  Of course, cinema is full of examples of people who strove for something else. The Tarkovsky's, Chris Marker's and a grand host of other's rejected this traditional Western reenactment for for something else. I only use these two examples to expedite this thought to page. 

Animation to me is a pure process. Of course, massive amounts of man power and time (often much more time than live action) are needed to make it happen, but in it's purest sense, it lives on a piece of paper. Less tools, less middle men, less technology and much more a translation of a dream.

this is my favorite studio  logo....

this is my favorite studio  logo....



10.04.14 - 10.16.14 - The List

It's been a busy couple weeks, and unfortunately, the preoccupied knife sliced through those extra fatty hours, which were then tossed to the ravenous dogs. That time, reserved for strategic enjoyment, better known as, MOVIE WATCHING, chowed down upon by life.

What does this all mean man!  It means I could only get through a few films.

1. Yakuza Papers - Deadly Fight in Hiroshima - Kinji Fukasaku
2. Yakuza Papers - Proxy War - Kinji Fukasaku
3. Yakuza Papers - Police Tactics - Kinji Fukasaku
4. Yakuza Papers -  Final Episode - Kinji Fukasaku

Boy oh boy, what a goddamn cool experience this is. I had seen Battles Without Honor and Humanity several years ago, and then re-watched(yes, this is a word) it a couple weeks back. But I had never gone through the whole series.

This is filmmaking so cool, that no matter how fucking hard Western cinema tries to appropriate it's style, the real thing is always, always better, more interesting and certainly, original. Straight from the source baby. I don't give a goddamn what your budget is, or how many VFX you can stuff in a scene, this shit is just straight up cooler. The end. Argument over.

Although, I am well aware that "cool" was not the intention as this is not a glorification piece, but a social critique. Unfortunately, that is an absolute impossibility as far as cinema and gangsters are concerned. Crime always pays.

Also, as it's an unbending, pure piece of genre work, you can be critical of many elements of it if you are a bore, but what's the purpose of that? You are a bore. Let it go. I'm done debating.

Go see this series. This is the definitive Yakuza set and a testament to how modern Japanese cinema was.

98975-Battles_without_main-640x400.jpg


leaving projects behind or always finishing.....

I recently picked up footage from a shoot we did over a year ago. We had some hiccups immediately during post, mostly because the world we were going to build in the box was a bit too complicated and time consuming without a larger team. This was an in-house production, so we aimed high, but the cost analysis did not add up.  A little after that realization we actually continued forward with some progress, but life got busy and other important priorities took over.

Now, this happens now and again. Personally, I just move forward without the burden of the past. If the ship is moving, why hit the brakes?

However, deep down, I'm often bothered by projects left to burn in their own ashes. Mostly because other people put in the time.

This is different than long term projects that are continuous and take time because of aesthetics, strategies or just out of necessities. I'm specifically talking about projects abandoned. Nine times out of ten, these are just scripts, treatments or half baked ideas that get pushed aside for newer scripts; but every once in awhile, its actually raw footage being tossed. You took the time to write something, got people together, and you shot the damn thing, and without any hesitation, you just threw it away. 

But here is where everything gets tricky. We are in the throes of "content world" now. Everything counts. The golden goose, and the piles of trash. They all have utility, serving the purpose of fulfilling the highs and lows of our culture. The stream of life is not historical. The origin story is now. Do you have enough material to feed this voracious monster?

With that in mind, I just salvaged some visuals locked away in harddrive hell.  Conceptually, the idea has changed, I'll be honest. But, the adjustment actually makes more sense now, since it's more in line with a certain creative process I'm dealing with, NOW.

Here is a still from the upcoming MIRS TAKE AWAY visual. The record is two years old and the footage, recently rescued from the depths of a harddrive in Burbank California, is over a year old. Who the fuck would know if I didn't say anything anyways.

Visuals from MIRS TAKE AWAY

Visuals from MIRS TAKE AWAY



Running an experiment.....

I'm on day 13 of my single channel video work, DROPS IN THE STREAM. My web-host Squarespace is helping to trouble shoot a minor glitch in the page that I'm hosting my project on. It seems that the videos sometimes skip ahead or move around at odd times. The easiest fix so far is to go back to the previous video that skipped ahead, and play it again. However, it should be resolved shortly.

But, aside from this little UI blip, and the fact that a Youtube Channel and Playlist exist for it without any glitches(along with Tumblr), I am excited about its strange development. We got a long way towards our Dec 31st completion, so please subscribe here, or bookmark here

The original post with the only hint of info can be found here:


musings of youth and hip hop....

This last few days I've been on one of my periodic pop culture rendezvous, where I survey a specific landscape that I feel my touch slipping away from.

This round happened to be hip-hop, it's new culture and the first wave of OG's reflecting on where the form has gone. Just a footnote before I get labeled; my youth was spent listening to rap and hip-hop and my roots are that of B-Boy. My crew, OSB used to battle at malls, schools, clubs and anywhere else little dudes could roam the streets and engage in rhythmic warfare. Violence hardly ever broke out, but occasionally a dance battle would turn into an actual battle.

This was during the second wave of breakdancing. I experienced the first wave as well, but I was too little to understand the culture. From spreading out cardboards to keeping PLEDGE in my backpack for lubricating linoleum, this was one of my true teenage passion. I'll provide visual evidence at the end. But alas, i grew out of favor with hip-hop, mostly as a result of new hobby's and experiences. Still however, I am a fan to this day.

One particular note of interest in my recent cultural prowling was promo videos featuring the new kids on the block in hip hop. This being the social media age, the youngsters are all savvy of the technology of promotion.  You don't need to fork over big bucks of your advance to do elaborate music videos or smart campaigns, because in essence, you are doing it all the time. Always on twitter, always on instagram, and tumblr, the homies have some form of capture device on them at all times.

It's not hard to come by a 5d, or a Red Scarlett, or a slew of semi-professional camera's these days (and hell, what is professional anyways anymore). Everybody, including your momma has them. And shit, on a 1080 screen, an iphone is good to go. So, everybody is shooting something all the time. Now you just package that extra footage into "promo's" that end up going on youtube as a way to diversify.

The flow of content is a stream. And to not participate is death to an up and comer. In fact, it's death to everybody except a very select few who've managed to keep those giant, top down, middle of America careers of yesteryear. 

One thing that struck me odd about these promos is that the subject of the piece often, if not incessantly, would be looking down at their phones. This was a very common thread. It's jarring watching videos of somebody who spends an inordinate amount of time looking down at their phones. They're not even fully present through the prism of something that is trying to capture them in the present. And this becomes self reflexive. You ask, "do I do that, because, it looks really dumb". In fact, you might. I know I'm guilty at times.

Further, the subjects would often use their phones to capture another fleeting moment through a picture (instagram) or video. Always looking at a screen, or through a screen. Contextualizing everything through pixel.s

Now, granted I was looking mostly at Hip Hop promos because that's where pop culture is now. I don't think there are 17 year old rock and roll kids getting 6 million dollar 360 deals. And they too probably spend time staring into the abyss of electronics. It's an age thing. It's a culture thing. But, my guess is that there is more to this story.

Which brings me to my theory that our phones, through technology serve some strange psychological need to stare at moving things through light, while desperately trying to hoard moments, and store them away; basically trying to capture a life that's always slipping away, ungraspable. 

There is no doubt that our second life in digitalism will be our preferable choice in a very near future. It's an extremely effective opioid, creating the distance from the dirt and grime of reality. You can break up a relationship without direct conflict. You can insult someone without consequence; you can be a sexist, a misogynistic creep, all without even a cold stare from the other end.  However, it comes with many consequences. Chief among them, loneliness and detachment. That might not sound so bad, but when added up, the results are terrifying.

And with all that talk; here is some breakdancing in a living room, featuring your's truly and some ol school homies.

Peace.


9.20.14 - 10.2.14 - The List

Films spanning the days between 9.20.14 - 10.2.14 (almost finished with my Japanophile life stage:

1. Only Lovers Left Alive - Jim Jarmusch
2. Ninja Scroll - Yoshiaki Kawajiri
3. Vampire Hunter D: Blood Lust  - Yoshiaki Kawajiri
4. Perfect Blue - Satoshi Kon 
5. Pom Poko -  Isao Takahata

This list was a bit tricky for me. A good test of my anime threshold. I feel like I have a pretty good grasp now of the elements I enjoy, and those idiosyncrasies of that world which I can never relate too. 

Pom Poko was a second play.  I'd seen it years earlier. This round, I watched it twice in consecutive days. The tone is so well executed, and after learning from the BBC today, that we've lost roughly 50% of the planets wildlife in 40 years; it's lesson, a painful reminder of our impending doom, partly out of sheer boredom with the world we've managed to manifest. without animals in them.  In religious terms, our act of destruction of Gods creatures, a mortal sin punishable by nothingness.

I do appreciate the fact that despite all adversity and hopelessness, the Tanuki where still enjoying life. 

this is a promo shot and not in the actual movie, but it certainly can be..

this is a promo shot and not in the actual movie, but it certainly can be..

Only Lovers Left Alive....

The most remarkable thing about Jim Jarmusch's modern vampire movie (the only non-Japanese movie I've seen all month) was the way in which street landscapes where represented. The nighttime photography from a moving vehicle, of Detroit, created an authentic awareness and respect of space. Similarly but with equal contrast, Tangiers was an opium infused hallucination, one that was a throwback to expressionist soundstage production design and mis-en-scene. 

Using what amounted to a spotlight as the car moved through the night was an interesting choice and certainly one born out of necessity. You could rather keep the scene very dark, or with a light on a moving vehicle, do what in essence, wedding videographers do with those small LED lights attached to a camera. Of course, this is not as simple, but that's probably what was going on.

On a Hollywood Production, the whole street would have to be lit to mimic the "feeling" of nighttime by making sure everything damn thing was completely visible and exposed "the right way".  Of course this is a generalization, but If you've ever scene a large production take up a block on Hollywood Blvd, or Downtown LA, you are keenly aware of the fact that enough amps are used to light up Kabul for a week.

The other peculiar thing I found about this movie is Jarmusch's subtle disdain of the internet and it's culture of accessibility. Most artist dealing with the enormous digitization of the world probably feel nostalgic about the old days, whereby we couldn't find every image ever created on Youtube or Tumblr. 

Memory is but a memory. But memory is often more beautiful then the real thing.

digital all the way baby!

digital all the way baby!



Drops in the Stream....

Launching a new single channel (for now) web project on Oct 1 2014 that runs daily until Dec 31st 2014, titled DROPS IN THE STREAM.  A set of instructions is available but is hidden from plain site. We drift through the binary, and reconciliation is not promised. 

You can be a visual participant by bookmarking this page which will feature a new video daily, or subscribe to the Youtube page , that hosts the videos.   

We also have a Tumblr page that gets pushed the same content from Youtube if you so happen to prefer that format.  

If you have any questions, please send them my way through the contact page. And remember, all of life is in beta now.
 

you are nothing but a stream of 01...

you are nothing but a stream of 01...

what kind of sleep is this pumkin....

Two or three times a year I am burdened by insomnia.  Actually, I'm not quite sure I can call it that because in my most natural state, I am of the species of animal that thrives in the night.  But, adulthood makes that a difficult condition.

All through my teens and college years I had a habit of staying awake almost right before the sun came through the horizon.  I always schedule my classes at UCLA to occur afternoon, and when I couldn't, those classes were hardly attended.  I learned to pass classes with technique instead of attendance.  

In high school, my senior year marine biology class attendance was under 20 days total that semester, because of the unbearable 8am start time. Most of those days where quiz or test days. The teacher whom I won't name lead the class with a round of applause everyday I would show up (terrible social reinforcement). At the time, I thought it was funny what I was able to get away with, but I can't imagine how any of this was helpful instruction. To my benefit, I did receive an A in class with the usage of my survival "technique".  This was also when I figured out that the educational system that I was receiving in the public schools was a sham.  This gut feeling, even though I continued through a similar system for many years afterwards, persisted.

As a first generation immigrant, schooling was a necessity, not a choice. It is almost impossible to describe what this feels like, but I can assure you, other immigrants of certain cultures understand this very well.

insomnia, can't quite shake this lovely feeling, oh baby.....

insomnia, can't quite shake this lovely feeling, oh baby.....

  

the rewards of music....

The learning of a musical instrument is a great metaphor to our shifting world. An instrument by its nature is difficult. You learn it through discipline, one small step after another, till one day, many years later, you feel comfortable holding it and skilled at playing; it but still, the nagging feeling that you know absolutely nothing about it persists.  A guitar, piano, the trumpet, the tabla, they're infinite in regards to mastery.

Now, as we shift from an analog world to a digital one in all aspects of life, we also change the relationships of process with regards to analog tools. Our traditional instruments are analog. Our most recent instruments however are software (and in fact, they don't have to represent an analog doppelgänger), and as is the nature of digital tools, constantly changing and updating. Although the base of said software might remain the same through the course of its development, it is in continual iterations. Software instrumentation is also non-linear, automated, capable of interacting with many inputs and outputs and sometimes capable of creating its own musicality with just a set of parameters without even being "played" (a theremin on binary steroids). Our analog instruments do not work in this capacity, for the most part.  

The other key difference is that often, the actual recording software (DAW) is the instrument. This mixes both the instrument(s), and the recording, in one space. This obvious insight might not seem important, but think it through. When I first picked up a guitar, I had no idea that one day I might learn how to record music. But, kids with an iphone or ipad start recording immediately. The instrument is just one piece of the recording puzzle. And we are now handed the recording capability first (without even asking for it in many cases), then the instrument.  This is a complete flip of process. This gives precedent to the making of music, as opposed to the playing of music. 

So, the process is different. Software is by it's nature, much easier to understand, and the brevity of it's learning curve makes proficiency come at a much swifter rate. People do not spend a decade learning a piece of software and then suddenly coming to an "aw haw", a moment of absolute clarity that happens periodically to players of analog instruments.  Mostly because software gives a much swifter response to hardship. With software, you are ready to go after browsing a manual, checking some tutorials, and chugging a huge cup of coffee blended. Of course it helps to have a musical background, but its not a necessity to get started. Sure it gets more difficult when you expand your range and tools, but, it wants you to learn it fast. Your muscle memory is never tested. 

This is a non-judgmental observation.  This is the reality. If you are a teenager thinking about music, a small investment (or, ripping) will get you started, almost immediately. In fact, an intro software is probably included on your phone or computer already for free.  In roughly two years, with some tenacity, talent and luck, you might have uploaded a song on Youtube or Soundcloud and have thousands of people hear it.  In the old world, two years on a guitar might not even be enough time to get you in front of 10 people at your local open mic'd coffee shop. Just look at the ultra youngster electronic producers who are making hit songs, all by themselves and in record time.  

Just like everything else in this new world; we are glued to our screens and creating everything inside a little box with a backlight.

Astonishing Experience Box Set (2006 Video Installation)

I've been sitting on a couple pieces from yesteryear never really sure what to do with them anymore.  Two video pieces in particular have stood in the vault since their premieres, both with context specific deliveries.

One particular piece, 2006's ASTONISHING EXPERIENCE BOX SET was a video installation that had its run at the Seed Gallery space in Santa Ana, California, and after, was boxed away indefinitely.  Only one DVD was made at the time (as was the plan), and was bid on, but me being overtly idealist at the time, refused to sell.  The money wasn't that great anyways, if i remember correctly.  

Now, a good many years have passed, and, in due course, the source materials been transferred into digital binary, making it's indefinite disappearance kind of disingenuous these days. My thinking is that, yes, it's stripped of its context in a pure sense, and with that, what kind of a video installation is it, when the installation is gone? And the simple answer is, a video of course. Here below is the description, and some instructions into how to make it work.  Or, just press play. I provided some context on its original form below.

_______________________________________

Installation Premiere: 10-7-2006
Online Premiere: 9-19-14
Instructions: Headphones and a dark room preferable.  In fact, a pseudo living room would be best (of course, I can't force you to do anything in a virtual space).

Performance Notes: 
On Oct 7, 2006, the Astonishing Experience Box Set installation premiered at the Seed Gallery at the artist village in Santa Ana California. The show ran from Oct 7 - Dec 2, 2006. The show was billed as "Light. Shadow and Motion: exploring the way light alter our environments".

The installation included an old television, a dvd player, optional headphones, a chair, and a faux living room setup. In some ways, similar to the old Maxell tape commercials, although the living space was more archaic. On the television, the Astonishing Experience Box Set played as a loop.

This was the only time that this particular installation was made available to the public, and the DVD that hosts the Astonishing Experience Box Set was never played again. The total run time of the video from start to finish was 6:52, and was broken up into 6 distinct experiences. But, in direct conflict with the installation setup, there was no restriction to the viewing of the the video in linear terms, and the option of sound (headphones) was the direct responsibility of the viewer.