Friday, December 4, 2009

Remember Here When You Are There.

The new volume in Larry Marder's Beanworld series arrived on shelves this week. To say that this book was formative to me would be an understatement. To say that I've been anxious to read this book for over fifteen years would not be an exaggeration. As I mentioned in the link, that first issue of Tales of the Beanworld changed the way I view the world, how we work together, how art and music make our days easier... There are so many little secrets in this book. The book is refreshingly simple, yet surprisingly deep. I highly recommend a reading.

The three volumes in Marder's Beanworld Spring Cycle are:
Wahoolazuma!, A Gift Comes! and Remember Here When You Are There!

More from Larry Marder can be found on his blog:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Zoom Schwartz Perfigliano!

I've started taking an improv class offered by Monkey Butler. I've been toying with the idea of getting back into improvisation, but have found the rates to be prohibitive. The Monkey Butler classes are free, and generally everyone seems to be very welcoming and open. It's been really great to find a place that gets me back to work. I have missed performing for quite a while and am really enjoying the process of rediscovery!

More later. I'm just taking lots of notes and doing my best to improve.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Stuck in your head?

I've been watching the first three seasons of SOAP. Some people said that my recent postings on Facebook have gotten the theme song stuck in their heads. If you don't know what it sounds like, here it is!

This is the original theme.

Here's the shorter one after they introduced Chuck and Bob.

Here's the Batman theme song in case you need help getting the other one out of your head.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Some things I played

I love traditional swing music, but I love to find and play stuff that I don't hear anywhere else. As a DJ I've generally always been eclectic. If I had to dance to anything all night, it would be real swing music, from a great live band. With the ability to choose CDs I prefer a set that goes all over the place.

People asked me about these two artists I played at Camp Hollywood:

Nellie McKay - I've been playing this tune for years. This is a newer recording than I have. Ms. McKay is kind of rebellious and I dig her song-writing skills.

Leftover Cuties - I tried out a couple of tunes from this band I saw at the Mar Vista Farmers Market on Sunday morning. I picked up their EP to play that night. I previewed the tunes in between classes that afternoon. Being discombobulated by Sunday night, I couldn't find the disc. I am occasionally lame.

The audio on the next video isn't great, but I still like the song. I really wanted to dance yesterday morning at the farmers market.

And lastly, this is Sweet's song from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical, Once More with Feeling.

edited to add:
Two bonus songs that I forgot to play!
I had downloaded this video from the Movits after seeing them on the Colbert Report last week:

And I also got Lucas very well played Lucas with the Lid Off:

Sushi, a how-to.

Thanks to Shawn Lesniak for turning me on to this video. It made me laugh harder than anything in a long time.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Build a better...

I don't think I've ever once actually played a game of Mousetrap. All the fun was in the Rube Goldberg-esque machinations it took to bring the cage down on that little plastic rodent. I still think this is endlessly cool and would not mind having one in my backyard for dealing with intruders.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

It's an Art Form

Who (or what) is an Inker? In the most mechanical sense an Inker is a person in illustration, most often in comics, who takes drawings that have been layed out (by another person called a Penciller) and gets them ready for reproduction.

In comics, the Inker is often under-appreciated. Kevin Smith wrote a whole conversation about how inkers are "tracers" in Chasing Amy. Smith later recanted when he began working with professional comics artists.

Here's a lot more about comics inking, an excerpt from the DC Comics Guide to Inking Comic, by Klaus Janson:

What do comics have to do with the short film above? Maybe nothing.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Resurrection - Act 2

For the first act of this production, click here.

I cannot get over how eclectic this production is.

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12

Part 13

Part 14

Part 15

Part 16

Part 17

Part 18

Part 19

Part 20

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Resurrection - Act 1

Back in the 90s I was a pretty big Indigo Girls fan and also a fan of the music from Andrew Lloyd Weber's rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. So when the two came together on CD it seemed like it might be a perfect fit. Strangely, I didn't enjoy the CD so much. However watching this footage from the 1995 production really kicks ass in the way that the CD never did. I'm presenting Act 1 from this performance, at least as much as I could find on YouTube.

I'll be posting Act 2 at some point in the future. Look out for it!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

End of Act 1
Part 10

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Silent Razor + Bonus

My pal Otis Johnson directed The Silent Razor.


Bonus: Stolen from my pal Otis Johnson's Facebook:


What a difference two days make!

This weekend I'll be working with Brown Chicken Brown Cow Productions on a short film for the 48 Hour Film Project. We find out which genre we'll be shooting on Friday and have until Sunday evening to write, shoot, edit and turn in our film. It's going to be crazy!

Producer Shelly Lloyd-James is a Visual Effects Coordinator who has worked on some of the Harry Potter films, The Dark Knight and is currently working on the new Twilight film. Joon Chang has directed another film for 48 called The Belgian Pretzel and another called Meeting Miss Fortune for the 24 Hour Film Project. Both of those films are viewable here. He's coming down from Seattle to direct our film this weekend. We have a lot of talented folks involved in the project! I'm one of them.

Our film will be premiering next week at:

Regency Fairfax Theatres
7907 Beverly Blvd.
Tuesday July 14th, 7:30 and 9:00 pm

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased here!

Let's fill some seats, people.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Number 12 Looks Just Like You.

The Twilight Zone is my favorite series of all time. Rod Serling's promise was to take good writing and bring it to the home viewers, and that promise was kept every week! This episode is one of my favorites: Number 12 Looks Just Like You, written by Charles Beaumont. Beaumont is also one of my favorite short story writers.

Submitted for your approval:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Things I missed in college.

The wicked art of the immortal Wally Wood.

Please check out my new blip account. I'm picking at least a couple of new songs daily and would love to have new listeners. If you dig Pandora, this isn't too different. The difference is that Pandora keeps rotating the same songs through and this system tends to bring up a lot of cool new stuff. So sign up for Blip and start listening. I'll listen to you too.

I love this article that I stole from Susie Bright's Facebook feed: What I learned at my first orgy. Personally I've never attended nor participated in an orgy. I just love the final conclusion at which Greta Christina arrives.

added later:
I've been thinking about the concept of polyamory lately. For those of you who have never heard of it, it's the idea of having established more than one relationship or planned non-monogamous relationships. This idea sounds really complicated to me. I would say that if I could handle a relationship, it would probably be with one woman.

However, I know more and more people who are living in polyamorous relationships. When I hear about this, my first reaction is to filter it through my own beliefs in my own ability to deal with jealousy, to imagine multiple viewpoints, to remember the times I've been burned. Is it possible to maintain such a relationship? All the evidence I've read suggests that it's more difficult than a one-on-one relationship. It might be possible, but it would take a stronger person, a group of people who are each individually stronger than me.

I think that's why the article is so refreshing for me.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

10 Things You Didn't Know About Orgasm

Thanks to Josie Jacobs, from whom I stole this clip.

Mary Roach is the author Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex. This video features her speaking about orgasm. I didn't notice any specific human nudity, but there are some moments that might be questionable at work. Buyer beware.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The L stands for love!

I'm totally listening to the original cast recording of A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant. It's kicking my ass in the most bestest of ways! From what I've been told, you probably won't get to see this performed, ever. Xenu has deep pockets.

I honestly don't have any love or loathing for Scientology. I'm just a fan of a good satire.

This evening I watched the Tony Awards and I was stoked to learn that Hair won the award for best revival. That makes me happy since it's the only Broadway show that I've seen in the last decade. Also, I just love the show in general and have done for years. This new production just burst off the freakin' stage.

At some point, I'm gonna have to get the cast recording.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lefties don't need special rights

I'm about as gay as I am left-handed. Which is to say that I can write with my left hand if I make myself do it. It isn't pretty and it never feels right.

I was thinking up this whole analogy about how left-handed folks were once shamed and chided into behaving in a right-handed way and how that was similar to the way that gay folks are often shamed and chided into behaving straight. If you believe that sexual orientation is as biologically ingrained as handed-ness then it shouldn't be too hard to understand.

In my research, I found one person who said basically what I was thinking but from the gay/left-handed perspective. Go there to find my basic conclusion, but from an insider. I'm not suggesting that left-handed people are gay or vice versa. If you believe that gayness is genetically programmed ("Oh, my girl takes after her aunt Susie") then it makes sense. Though they were once expected to change their ways, being a left-handed is now more-or-less considered natural and not sinister, pun intended.

Some have argued that being gay requires a behavior, that men who are attracted to other men and women who are attracted to other women don't need to act on those impulses. The sin of gayness, as described above, is a sin of acting the way that one's heart tells them to do rather than squelching those feelings. It makes sense to me that teachers and parents tried to purge the left-handedness out of children. Would it have to do with making kids more "normal?"

This is to me what the whole mess is about: encouraging normalness. As a strange person, I have to take offense. Don't get me started on "tradition."

I imagine that being a leftie and learning to write with one's right hand would be similar to being gay and marry a person of the "appropriate" gender. This appears to be, after all, what opponents of gay marriage would encourage. However, marrying the wrong person would seem to be much more horrific to me.

Why is it said that the existence of same-sex marrieds threatens the existence of marriage as an institution? It seems irrational to me. Put in this same point of view, it seems as if folks were complaining that left-handed kids threaten to infect a whole school with the Southpaw flu.

I once tried signing my name with my left hand. I'm still all right.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

One of Dem Bums

This I Believe was a radio program conceived by Edward R. Murrow in which prominent people and normal folks could share 600 words about their system of thought. It was launched in 1949. Decades later, the show was relaunched as a series on National Public Radio. In the time since then many of the articles have been collected in a series of books, also called This I Believe.

In the 1952 edition of This I Believe Jackie Robinson, the famous first African-American baseball player wrote a passage that puts me in mind of the current events of today:

... I can tell [my children] too, that they will never face some of these prejudices because other people have gone before them. And to myself I can say that, because progress is unalterable, many of today's dogmas will have vanished by the time they grow into adults. I can say to my children: There is a chance for you. No guarantee, but a chance. And this chance has come to be, because there is nothing static with free people. There is no middle ages logic so strong that it can stop the human tide from flowing forward. I do not believe that every person, in every walk of life, can succeed in spite of any handicap. That would be perfection. But I do believe - and with every fiber in me - that what I was able to attain came to be because we put behind us (no matter how slowly) the dogmas of the past to discover the truth of today; and perhaps find the truth of tomorrow.
I believe in the human race.
I believe in the warm heart.
I believe in man's integrity.
I believe in the goodness of a free society.

Monday, April 27, 2009

"If I had to do it all over again, I would do it."

This entire morning has been filled with the news that Frankie Manning, the Ambassador of Lindy Hop, has died. Credited with creating the first air steps of the dance, his legacy is far more than can be described in a short missive.

This clip dates back to the 1980s, I think.

This was surely one of the first things I watched in my own Lindy Hop education. Since then, a generation of dancers have been gifted with his inspiration.

I remember the moment I first saw the flyer for the Harvest Moon Swingout in 1997. I had learned East Coast Swing a month before and had planned to delay learning Lindy Hop for another few months. Then I saw the flyer at one of the Pasadena Ballroom Dance Association Saturday dances. Frankie Manning would be teaching Lindy Hop the following weekend! I hadn't learned the step yet, but the common thought at the time was that it was nearly impossible to learn. So I bought the Frankie Manning/Erin Stephens instructional video and got to learning on Sunday. Then I took Erik and Sylvia's Lindy Hop class at The Derby on Monday and worked on the basic step for the rest of the week.

By the time I got to the class on the following Saturday, I hesitantly joined Frankie's beginning level class. I really didn't have an idea of what to expect from the man. This was in the days before YouTube. I thought he would be an old white guy, and I might have been intimidated by the mere idea of him. In class I warned my partners that I had only started learning the dance the week before. Most were pleasant, if not a little put off by my warning. They were patient with me and perhaps surprised by my progress.

Wow! The man at the head of class had this joyful timbre in his voice, like he was on the verge of spilling his laughter over the crowd! He was absolutely not the scary white man that I had imagined. Frankie Manning had an excitement during that class that surely carried over into the way I feel about the dance today. Hundreds of dancers in the room were with him that day and I'm convinced that was merely a drop in the bucket.

That night at the dance, they played the first Lindy Hop clips I ever saw, including Hot Chocolates, still reversed in soundie form. In the film, Frankie was the man wearing the overcoat. It was that night that I first began my quest to find more dance footage, years of wandering through obscure video stores and wading through films and catalogues to find the merest glimpse of Lindy Hop.

If anything could be said about that week, I learned that Lindy Hop wasn't impossible after all. Lindy Hop could be as easy as walking, only filled with exuberance, replete with joy!

So Frankie Manning, I thank you many times over for the love you shared, not just in the dance but in life. You have meant so much to so many people. For me, your laughter lives on in my own teaching. Your joy will live on in the generations to come!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Crossing the medium divide

Caffeine-induced ramble ahead:

This afternoon, while I played Marvel: Ultimate Alliance a thought occurred to me.

Comic books are big business. However it's a business around a medium that appears to be on its last legs. Now it seems that the most popular comic book characters are merely grist for the mill. I sometimes wonder if the net worth of the history of comic books is the vault of properties from which so many movies, television shows and video games are produced.

I have been a life-long comics reader. That last bit is emphasized because the action of reading is important to me. So often people have asked me if I have collected comics and my response is often "No, but I read them. They tend to collect themselves." If we believe Scott McCloud, the notion that comics are read is vital. One qualitative difference between a film and a comic is that the film is paced entirely by the editor. While the layout of a comics page is determined by the artist/creator, the reader is left to move at their own pace through the images.

Another key theorist in comics is the late, great Will Eisner. One of his complaints that I remember is (and I'm near certainly misquoting) the stories in comics always revolved around the notion of pursuit. The super-hero meme is only one facet of the world of comics. Yet most folks can only think of super-heroes when the word comics are discussed.

That's all well and good. When it comes to it, though, it appears that comics and all print publishing are undergoing a huge shift as their respective media become obsolete. As has been reported elsewhere, new generations of children are not being introduced to comic books in those formative years. Instead, they learn of those memorable characters through movies and video games. In fact, it seems that video games may serve to this new generation what comic books did to the 1950s kid. That's the generation that was hit by Seduction of the Innocent.

This would appear to bring us full circle. However, to go a little past that, I think to the potential of video game stories. It's clear to me that the majority of video game adaptations tend to work in that same "pursuit story" mode that Eisner supposedly complained about. Can the player complete such and such objective? If not, keep trying until they do. The stories don't ever seem to do much beyond that. It feels to me like story developments are in service to the action. I don't know that I can remember a game where the pursuit was the Macguffin for a richer experience. It seems to me that there's untapped potential in the video game arena.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Apparently there's a running theme with my animated crushes. Read along and see if you can guess.

Francesca is the undeniable femme fatale from Mad Monster Party. Designed by Jack Davis of Mad, she schemes her way into our hearts. I'd be your creep any day!

Then there's Sally, from The Nightmare Before Christmas. She's a maudlin sweetheart who's always falling apart at the seams.

Sally, sigh.

Most recently, Ginormica. She really deserves to be seen on the big screen!

I'm not sure who designed her, but it's clear that the makers of Monsters vs. Aliens have a love for classic monster b-movies of the 50s. Seriously, it is even better in 3D. I wouldn't say that lightly.

She might be the most relatable character of the bunch. It's also cool that this 50-foot woman is the central character of the film!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Art repeats life repeating

I read this story and remembered a book that I really liked. It was called My Generation, featured in a comic called Vertigo Pop! London, by Peter Milligan and Phillip Bond. It starts on the 60th birthday of pop star Rocky Lamont and concerns a secret he has kept for thirty years.

Peter Milligan is easily one of my favorite comics writers of the British invasion so long ago. His work is hit and miss, but always worth a look.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A short thought about magick

I've only briefly studied the writings of Aleister Crowley. He was known as the Great Beast, known as a demon worshipper and from what I can gather most of his reputation was bluster designed to scare away the rubes and attract the free-thinkers. If I can sum up a portion of his thinking: love is more important than law; practice Yoga; trust your own will; keep your mind and heart open. He died in the 40s in a boarding house, addicted to heroin.

That's an extremely truncated summary. I may be completely misrepresenting the guy. I won't say he was a great man, because who can know. He was certainly complicated. Even though there's a picture of Crowley at the top of the post, I don't think this is really about him.

I had a thought this week that I made sure to write down:

Magick is the ability to transform one's world. One must first accept their circumstance, then they must see opportunity and put their will to work.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A multi-colored cardboard diorama

Spoiler alert - the plot and events in Watchmen, both the book and the film. This was originally posted on the Ships and Giggles board.

Weeks later, I've talked with a lot more people. Some of them liked the movie and others thought it was garbage. At least one of those people who didn't like the movie went back and read the book afterward. So as an ad campaign for the book, I guess it worked out. With regard to my own feelings on the movie, I still can't say I like it.

The folks who liked the film seemed to respond most to its visual elements, though a few here have suggested that the musical choices were interesting as well. I can not disagree more violently with the latter, though the former... I'd have to say yes, it's certainly a pretty film.

I'm watching Across the Universe at the moment, and I think that Zack Snyder tried to do with Watchmen what Julie Taymor did with the Beatles. While
I'm not sure that either is a great film, they're really pretty. I find the performances in Across the Universe to be much stronger, and obviously Taymor didn't use direct visual reference to the Fab Four. I think of the Watchmen film as a sort of cardboard diorama of the book. I still haven't heard or read of anyone saying whether the movie adds any additional value to the Watchmen experience. If you can think of a reason why anyone who has read the book really needs to see the film, I hope you'll please respond.

To compare the movie to its source material, it seems necessary to consider the elements that were changed from the book. Most of the changes I feel were in aid of making the conclusions for the audience: the song choices, the score over Veidt's opening speech, Manhattan's ability to let everyone see the world as he did, Dan Dreiberg's scream at the end of Rorschach. None of these are elements in the book. For a film that fans claim was so true to the source material, these little things make a huge difference. As I have said before, I initially felt that the choices were on-the-nose. In further consideration, that hasn't changed much. Where this is most vitally different from the source material is that I have always felt that Watchmen book let its readers come to their own conclusions and that was important. How much do we suspect Veidt when we first meet him? Do we really need to know specifically how Dreiberg might react at the end? Might he not have been much more pragmatic? Also, what happens to the metaphor when there actually existed a team called The Watchmen?

I'm still bothered by the addition of lengthy fight scenes and the gratuitous sex scene. That opening fight scene is completely out of character for The Comedian, I feel. Especially in light of his emotions in light of discovering the conspiracy. Watchmen to me is a book of conversations, where violence takes place in the context of those conversations.

Which brings me to Malcolm Long. Other than being a confidante to Walter Kovacs in the film, he doesn't serve any purpose. In the book, he serves in so many contexts - he is the well-adjusted person who is finally touched by the abyss and moved toward heroism, at least in my interpretation. Other than the obvious gag of showing Kovacs the blot-tests, what purpose does he serve in the film?

Click on the image for a closer look.

I'm not ready to conclude these thoughts. I'd like to hear your comments.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What a difference a day makes!

They told me that packing for the 24 Hour Cancer Dance-a-thon would be something like getting ready for a summer camp. I brought 12 t-shirts, one for every couple of hours and I was gonna leave my laptop at home. The 24 Hour Fitness Ultrasport didn't have wireless, so I would just have to rough it.

Here's the run-down: hundreds of participants volunteer for the weekend to go to a giant party. Before they come to the party, they ask their friends and family for donations, the proceeds of which will go to The City of Hope. In exchange for the donations, the participants promise that they and/or their team members will be on the dance floor for the entire duration. Live bands, contests, dance classes, great company - it's not a bad deal in the least. In past years, the event has raised an annual average of over $100,000 to benefit cancer research. So it's a giant party that helps to make good things happen.

Pictures by Mike Wolfe unless otherwise noted.

I was the leader of Team Old School. The team had originally been made up of dancers who liked classic jazz music and who were inspired by vintage dance footage. This year, I invited some of my students to join the team. The more bodies the better. At the outset of the event, we had over a dozen members. We were planning a bake sale, and I made sure to remind everyone that a bathing suit makes you that much more welcome in the jacuzzi.

About the bake sale, Jen Hollywood is famous for her cupcakes (she'd bring Caramel Mocha and Chai spice, as well as a secret stash just for the team), at least in our friendly circles. I'm a ribbon winning pie-maker (I was experimenting with Kiss my Buttermilk again and had the idea to make Ginger Apple pie, modified from this recipe) and Karin Pleasant would pitch in with cookies and brownies.

When we got there, we pulled a spot between The Cult of the Eye and the Swingin' Clientele. We also had a spot next to the free water and the restroom, so go Team Old School! The other teams made up for our lack of youthful enthusiasm. Most of the folks that I spoke to seemed a little perplexed about the Cult, but they seem like fun folks. I heard that they have a party called Waffles of the Damned, where they get together for waffles and zombie movies.

Moon-faced and starry-pied

Laurinda Steinmeyer brought our tent set-up. I hadn't met her before but she'd been dancing in Orange County since the early 90s. She's one of the Disneyland generation - those dancers who learned at the weekly dance there. She had a ton of supplies, including our tent, chairs and tables. She also made our really cool Team Old School sign, including some required information about skin cancer and the team motto:

Team Old School - It's like New School, but Old.

Tise Chao is a founding member of the team. I believe she dates back to The Derby, like I do. We like to tell the same in-jokes back and forth, about whipped cream and beef & broccoli.

Todd, Tise, Rachel and Jonathan
Thanks to Tise Chao for this pic

One of my favorite bands had the marquis spot for the weekend. Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five with Hilary Alexander. These cats know swing!

Old School members Laurinda Steinmeyer and Mike Lopez
Thanks to Laurinda Steinmeyer for the pic.

Jen Hollywood (yes, that's her real name) drove in from Santa Barbara to participate in the event. She's comes from that late 90s Santa Barbara crowd, I think. I've known her since one of the Laughlin bus trips back in the day. She still comes down to dance in Los Angeles from time to time.

A few of the other members of Team Old School, including some students of mine from my class at LindyGroove: Ashley Mee, Mike Wolfe, Kirsten Welge and Jorge Estrada.

There were a ton of classes scheduled that weekend. It was good having the students on the team, because they were on the floor when we old fogies were restin'. That Jorge was our team madman. I think there was barely a moment when he wasn't on the floor. He was definitely doing a lot of the heavy lifting for our team, being on the floor when everyone else was asleep.

In the meantime, I spent a lot of time conserving my energy. If by conserving my energy I mean hanging out with cute girls.

Photo by Paul Almazon

Do I have a thing for cute blonds with glasses? You decide.

Did I mention dance contests? There were several that weekend.

Video by Roxie1589

This Jack and Jill was the first contest of the weekend. For the non-dancers reading a Jack and Jill is a contest in which dancers are partnered up randomly. In the footage above, I'm dancing with little Morgan, a new dancer from the inland empire who was probably the youngest participant at the event. There were plenty of babies around, but mostly they weren't working too hard.

Wait a second. Matt from the Cult of the Eye was selling a minute worth of holding his baby for a buck. That little cultist had to have been the youngest one there!

Photo by Laurinda Steinmeyer

Bernard of Hollywood and Karin Pleasant represented our team in another contest that night. I didn't see it, but apparently they won a hundred bucks for our team. I think I might have been in the jacuzzi when that happened. Congratulations to Bernard and Karin!

Here's a video with Bernard and Karin in the semi-finals:

video by Matt Jenkins

Here's clip from one of the jams that weekend. I think this is around 1 in the morning, but who can remember?

Video by Matt Jenkins

This is what happens when you dance in the jams: pretty girls spooning. That's just a lesson for you non-dancer folk: dancing is fun and mental.

Photo by Tom Hong

Photo by Tom Hong

The Atomic Cherry Bombs:

Video provided by Shesha Marvin

Event MC Kyle Smith. Photo by Laurinda Steinmeyer

Shaheed Qaasim and Amanda Marchand. Photo by Shane Karns

At 6am I made a parking trip. What our team does is we collect all of the team parking stubs and then send out one person every four hours to re-park and get new tickets. This means that we can park for free at the event and it also gets us out of the building in case someone's feels like getting outside. I always forget that the parking lot is open access after midnight, so we did this for several hours without need. But better than having to explain the plan to someone in the wee hours of the morning.

Photo by Chris Gandhi

Then there was the only class I took that weekend. I hadn't heard of Aubri Siebert before, but she did the annual wake-up class, which had previously been done by Mikey Pedroza. She taught a bright charleston routine and for a non-morning person was pretty much a charmer for the folks in the class. I'd take a class from her again in the future!

By the way, I brought pajamas but forgot to change. I did change between the wake-up class and later, but I haven't found any pics from those hours.

Photo by Paul Almazon

One of the perennial competitions at this event is the t-shirt customization contest. Every participant gets a shirt, but some very creative folks spend most of their time making their shirts their own. This year saw some of the fiercest competition to date, with designers making bringing in heavy equipment to make their elaborate creations.

Where were you at 6:30am on March 14th? This is where I was.

Video by Matt Jenkins

The solo stylings of Danny Maika. Photo by Krystina Torres

One of the surprises of the weekend was a late morning performance by singer/songwriter Danny Maika. I've known Danny since the early Memories days and he's really been putting some great tunes together. He did a set of mostly classic rock covers that were surprisingly danceable. One of the highlights of the weekend was his one man rendition of Don't Worry, Be Happy. He sold a bunch of CDs that day and they're definitely worth a listen.

By the time 2pm rolled around, I had had 15 non-consecutive minutes of sleep. The event raised close to $128,000 for the City of Hope. The Cult of the Eye really did their work, raising over $21,000 by themselves. That baby rental plan really worked out!

The two top team Old School earners were Karin Pleasant with $555 and and Mike Wolfe with $465. If we take into account the $100 that she earned with Bernard in that contest, she's easily past $600. Good work and congratulations to Team Old School!

At the closing ceremony every year I get teary-eyed. Shesha and Nikki presented the ceremonial check. Then, much like summer camp, it was time to clean up and go home.

There's still time to donate to the event, if you're reading this before the end of March 2009. Since the event ended the totals have been upped past $130,000. Please visit for more information.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Ed Brubaker's Angel of Death

Ed Brubaker is the new king of hard-boiled fiction. His comic with Sean Phillips Criminal hits in sucker punches to the soul. He's the guy who killed Captain America and if you haven't heard of him by now, you should look him up.

This is the first of ten episodes about Eve, a cold-blooded killer. It stars Zoe Bell, who did that death-defying car-roof scene in Death Proof . I'm looking forward to the rest of this series. Check it out:

Monday, February 23, 2009

The one that doesn't talk

I've been a fan of Penn & Teller for years, ever since I saw that first PBS special they did. There was something about the way that they went against the grain of the tradition; they often revealed the secrets behind the tricks. Still there was a sense of wonder and craftsmanship in their work.

I had two of their three books, and used them both to aggravate and amaze my college friends. There might be more books now, but I only remember three. I remember a deaf friend of mine just bawling me out for one bit. Man, good times!

Nowadays they do a show called Bullshit of which I've seen a season or so. I follow Penn Gillette on Twitter. He's the one who did all the talking. He was the voice of Comedy Central for a long time. He's the one that most people remember. Teller on the other hand, never said a word during their act. So I took great delight in reading this story:

The Las Vegas Weekly - A man, a ball, a hoop, a bench (and an alleged thread)… TELLER!

Thanks to Neil Gaiman, from whose Twitter post I stole this link.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

6 weeks to 300!

Yesterday I took my initial test for 200 sit-ups. Today I'll take my test for 100 push-ups. I'll start the programs on Monday and Tuesday respectively. I was considering P90x, but these programs are free and will tide me over until Augie is finished with his DVDs.

I haven't gone to a gym in over a decade, though I've been relatively active. Last time I was working out was when I was working with Ben & Sheri's team, and a hiatus between that and The New York City Ballet Workout (book and DVDs 1 & 2).

Wish me luck!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Red over left, blue over right.

I'm glad that Ray Zone is still making comics. I remember the first time I ever put on those funky specs, the ones that turned flat red/blue images into multi-layered space-scapes. It was called Battle for a Three Dimensional World, written by Ray Zone and with art by Jack "The King" Kirby. I bought it from a 7-Eleven, where it sat on a rack behind the register. I must have been 11 and I certainly didn't know who Jack Kirby was at the time. For me it was about that weird trick with the glasses.

Ray Zone was the guy who brought the tricks back to the trade.He has worked with legends, like the aforementioned Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, Neal Adams, Dave Stevens.... He's even had a hand in work with some of my favorite authors, including Alan Moore and Grant Morrison.

Whenever I see a 3D comic, I make sure to pick it up. Thanks to Sara who picked up a set of plastic 3D glasses for me. The paper ones always fall apart.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Monday, February 2, 2009

Let the Hazing Begin!

Oh wait, it's not that kind of pledge week.

Y'all should join KCRW. I'm volunteering during their pledge drive. You should consider sharing your love. And by love, I mean cash.

In case you need some reminding about KCRW's music programming:


Cat Power

Beck performing with The Flaming Lips

Check out their streaming music station to hear more of what they're about.

I mean, they don't just have great music programming, they were also one of the first NPR stations to feature This American Life. As far as I'm concerned, KCRW is ahead of the curve.

Plus crazy freebies and giveaways to anyone who makes a pledge.

And if you really want to be hazed, I'm sure something can be arranged.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Spears me baby, one more time!

It's not like Britney Spears is known for being a great songwriter or anything, but I love these two covers of her oeuvre:

I heard this cover by Travis on KCRW years ago. You might have heard it since then. I'll be volunteering during the KCRW pledge drive next week, so if you want to support all the cool stuff that they do, consider giving them a call!

I think this cover was covered for use in the Lindsay Lohan remake of Freaky Friday, so double coverage there.

Pandora turned me on to Yael Naim, probably from my Feist channel. Birthweek circumstances gave me the opportunity to buy some new music so I picked up her record and have really dug it so far.

In case anyone is curious about the treats I had out for my birthweek celebration at LindyGroove last night, I bought three flavors of ice cream and sorbet (Dark Chocolate with Cacao Nibs, Cardamom and Lemon Basil) from Carmela Ice Cream at the South Pasadena Farmers' Market to go along with a Croix de Lorraine cake that I also purchased there. They were thoroughly eaten, including the Lemon Basil sorbet which had melted.

The birthday dance was a mob and was over before everyone who wanted in could get in. So I guess if anyone is at Memories tonight they can catch up with me there. I'm planning to see The Class in a little bit and eat at Lucky Devils afterward.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blood in the Gutter and Blood on the Sand

Two considerations today, they're both oddly sexual though all of the links and pics that I will post are safe for work, more or less.

Thanks to Sylvia Sykes who reminded me in her very cool 16 things (one of those Facebook chain letters that I usually ignore but in this case found to be a very compelling read; I mean if you know or know of Sylvia, you're probably at least a little curious about her!) about the author of one of my favorite books:

The Curious Sofa, A Pornographic Work by Ogdred Weary

Of which, this is the first page.

I'm honor and duty bound (no spoilers here!) not to say any more about this book in public, but it's easily one of the greatest technical works visual storytelling genius that I have encountered. However since I've spoiled a little bit in the title of the post, if you understand Scott McCloud's notion of blood in the gutters, then you'll have an idea of what I mean. If you read this and the only consideration you have is that "it's weird" then you probably should read it again until you see.

If you read this and approach me about the book, we will have a conversation.

As a follow up to my post about The Other Sexual Storytelling, I think it intriguing to link to Tony Comstock's latest blog, YouTube, Iran, and Gay Sex. This link is also troubling in an entirely different way. Go read it now, then watch the video and we'll discuss it later.

I'm really not ready to talk about it yet. I haven't built up the context for conversation.