Monday, June 29, 2009

Twilight Dance at Santa Monica Pier - Summer of Staycation 2

Dance, dance and dance some more! Turn off the DTV and go do it for yourself without judgment or national humiliation. The Santa Monica Pier has a Twilight Dance Series from now until September 3rd. This is the 25th year and the hipulation will commence with the Playing for Change band.

Am I psychic or what? Yowser and pass the Ginger Beer. Yes, some of those folks. And if they can get that Belgium brother over here I might book a hotel room to see him.

Cuz there is no way I'm gonna get home from Santa Monica after 11pm without added to my life experiences. Yes, take Metro if you can but ladies, this is time you need to hook up a ride if you live more than a half hour's walking distance from the pier.

No fooling. Last trains leave at 11:30pm, buses if they are running are on a hour or hour and a half schedule and catching a taxi home might equal the cost of the hotel room.

So, barring a thunderstorm, quake, fire or somebody doing something supremely stupid check it out, dance it out and you know, enjoy life while the clock is ticking.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Uptight Citizen's Brigade - Summer of Staycation 1

Sunday nights in Hollywood are not generally associated with entertainment unless you want to watch the dads with baby car seats in the back troll for fresh meat. Yes, way too much non-verbal information that is shared by all.

Anyway, if you are not doing anything around Sunday 7:30pm and, you want to keep it legal, you might want to check out the Uptight Citizen Brigade Theater. If you are outside of L.A. you can check out comedy and improve videos at UCB Comedy.

Always double check event listings but I hear that on Sundays there is a freebie performance. All you have to do is get yourself there about an hour or so before the doors open and it is a bum rush to the seats.

Now, be fair. Don't expect to sit and view improve comedy without being repeated encouraged to buy libations. Pony up for a drink or two. I'm sure they have ginger ale or something.

So if you and best bud need some place to go but the lint is taking up room in the wallet then go for it. It is cheaper than making bail.

Inspired By Miss Johnnie - Free Events for Staycation

Miss Johnnie was one of those kick in the pants people. I'm still kicking myself for not recording her and our conversations. By the time I met her she was about 80 something living in a residence that had a stripper pole and stage. Miss Johnnie had traveled the world and done things I could only read about.

She needed help to work on her computer. It was a finicky Windows 95 bucket of bolts laptop that refused to yield to the herald of change. The purpose of this post is that Miss Johnnie wanted her friends to really know the joys of Los Angeles. She wanted them to get out of the house and live not rot away watching informercials.

To see the life that surrounds us. To that end and that old pokey laptop created and mailed out a newsletter with the list of all the free events happening that month. Cultural, political, entertainment - didn't matter to her so long as they were free.

This is video I shot at Grand Avenue a few years back. Never heard of the band before and the vibe of the folks was way cool.



Life.

With people dying all over the joint I thought about her. Maybe we need to have more connection to each other than just electronic. Maybe we need to be among a group sharing an experience. For our mental health we need to do more than the chores, the day job and fretting about doom and damnation.

A'int no use hollering about your misspent tax dollars. Citibank has given a portion of your tax dollars in raises to all of its employees. I'm not kidding. What, you thought they would not tap into that money?

See this is why we need to get out.

Here is a quick lists of ways to keep tabs on the L.A. freebie cultural and social life:
  • Grand Performances kicks in starting in July. You can now follow them on Twitter or their blog. Old school can go to the website to see the list of events.
  • Many blogs cover free events and doings such as LAist. I'll compile a master list when I get a chance.
  • Also keep your eyes open for events happening in the Leimert Park area.
  • For Pasadena area doings I check out the Pasadena Weekly.
  • I do like to keep my eyes on Yelp for L.A. events as well as Yahoo's Upcoming.
I got more but you get the idea. No matter where you live there is a freebie event waiting for you near by. And if there isn't, then you could do a video visit of some of the places you could have gone, you know, if the money wasn't given to Citibank but you directly.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Stop - The Love You Save on the Finally Friday Freakout

It is still too much to take in. I was telling a friend this afternoon that with the passing of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson I could hear the invisible clock tick a little faster and just a little louder. I asked him if we were meant for this time?

He smiled at me and said "Yeah, I think so but the passage isn't always easy." No, it isn't.



This is one of my connections to the Jackson 5. On the list of firsts, this was one of the first animated series that featured African-American kids who could sing and have hit songs.

I don't like death. I accept it. I think once you make it to the other side it is cool. It doesn't matter if you believe in the afterlife or not. It doesn't matter on this side of the mist of time.

"It is the love you leave behind.", my friend says. Rascal might be right about that but this past week has been about the pain of love and loss. I'm not sure any of us really understand much more than the love of music. That is a universal connector.

Adult longings and obligations. Love and marriage. Love and impossibilities. Love and death. I don't want to be a grown-up this weekend. So I reach back to one of my favorite songs of the Jackson 5 in memories of simple but not easier times. Saturday morning ABC television and a Rankin Bass production of Stop - The Love You Save Might Be Your Own.

Peace.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I’m Really Angry - What Do I Do?

There is cursing. There is cussing. For the purpose of this post it is important for you to know the difference. Now first let's remove the religious definition of cursing. I'm talking generic U.S. English so called "bad words." we aspire not to say in public but they have been seeping out. Yes, all seven of them.  I’m not talking about cursing, this is the superlative form, cussing.

Cussing is the weapon you really want to use to make the other person pay attention and feel hurt. The pain part is important. Cussing is a skill. You do not want to be near anyone who has that specific skill because that person is really angry and potentially heading into blind rage. We are talking 16 and 32 word combinations, comparisons to the size of your genitals and questions of how you have the limited sense enough to draw breath.

Yesterday, I was cussing.

I was angry about things both internal and external. Mainly external. I was once again disappointed by the base level stupidity of human beings. I sat in my home and let the invectives flow at full force. I was so mad I was cussing Joost out because I wanted to see Have Gun Will Travel and they wouldn't let me because I didn't want to turn off my Ad Blocker software.

I got one word for you Joost. Hulu!

Then finally, the anger was gone. I felt deflated and sad. I went to bed hugging my pillow saying to myself, “It is ok. next time I’ll do better.”

There Has To Be A Better Way...

Expressing anger is ok. I know that. Expressing it when no one is around is desirable. However I wasted a lot of time that could have been put to better use. Walking and doing physical activities can help. Yet I needed something for my mind and soul. I needed something to re-affirm that we all ain't heading for the cosmic crapper. 

Truth is, I need to know that the man on the bus wearing the Apocalypse sign with pride isn’t a prophet of things to come. That foolish men and women do not have total dominion over those of us who, despite our differences, want to do better than continually carp and cuss.  There are people who actively search for better ways of communicating, behaving and controlling the need to beat the sh….

Let me point out that I am no where near as enlightened as I had hope to be at this point in my life.

Sometimes you need a teacher, coach or guide to show you options and alternative behaviors you can emulate. Buddhist Nun Pema Chodron wrote in her book When Things Fall Apart, Heart Advice for Difficult Times:

“Well it starts with being willing to feel what we are going through. It starts with being willing to have a compassionate relationship with the parts of ourselves that we feel are not worthy of existing on the planet.”

Here is more from Pema Chodron on This Lousy World:

Using Pema Chodron as a focal point, let’s see how other bloggers interpret her teachings and concepts.

I need no convincing that staying in the moment, in the anger as you bring yourself to a centered place, is hard work. Pamela from the Fertility Advocate blog writes about staying in the pain, understanding that is something to want to run from but as she puts it:

What Pema is teaching, is that when things feel like they are falling apart - like a failed pregnancy attempt - instead of running from the pain - try to stay with it. Truly feel it.  Trying to look at the “bright side” may not be helpful.  If we can manage to stay with the pain - really touch the rawness of our feelings - great insights and learning can come from it.

I don’t think Stardust In Prison would mind me hanging out at Dhama Punx. The people in that community seem to be incorporating Buddhist principles into their American life. There are many good posts here but I needed the one on Stress. It is not that there is an “answer” but that people are taking the time to ask questions and try to work it out.

Ann at Divorce Unemployed and Living With Her Parents is not having a good time. She starts off her post about what she thinks Buddhism is:

The philosophy of Buddhism is premised on the idea that acceptance - or more accurately - embracing of - reality - what exists- rather than struggling with what is not reality - what doesn't exist - allows people to lead healthier and more fulfilling lives.

Ann goes into more details about loss, adjustments and her psychotic cat. DiamondLight at Love Burning Deep talks about being open, making time for her practice it seems releasing the pressure before you blow. Jennifer at I Wish I Had More Time to Read share a breathing technique she uses to help her cope.

I began the technique of breathing in the very thing I was afraid of—impoverishment—and, via exhaling, releasing the notion that, “I have exactly what I need for now.”

Dakota at Body Evolution is using Pema’s teachings to redefine her inner and outer self-image. In this passage she writes about how instead of running from the pain, she moved toward it:

Last year, for the first time, I broke a pattern I had fallen back on for so many years. I didn’t run away from my pain. I faced it head on, like Pema Chodron says in her book. I thought that if I face it head on the pain would heal quicker. The pain didn’t heal quicker, but I learned one very important thing about life. If you face your pain and fear head-on it loses its power over you.

It Is Getting Better

I am reminded to take deep breaths to cleans and clear myself. This I can do. I am reminded that I am not perfect and that there is no expectation or birth requirement for me to be perfect. I think that Pema is saying that once you get the relationship with yourself in place you will be able to connect better with others. And if there are as equally heart centered then there may be a way to build a lasting path or bridge of communication.

That one is gonna take me sitting in Dharma Special Ed class because some of those “others” are not nice people. They need a cast iron skillet upside the head.  I know. Back to the lecture. ;-)

We can’t live in this world totally alone. There are days when you need a guide who has been down the path before you. I hope I haven’t misinterpreted Ms. Chodron’s concepts but, as you can see, we all have a need to connect, deal with our demons and come to a place of peace. If you have tips for those of us that flare up quick, drop them in the comments.

Additional Reading

  • Shambhala Sun conversation with Pema and bell hooks the conversation talks about racism, sexism and dealing with aggression.
  • In O Magazine interview - Pema and Oprah talk about spirituality and how Pema became a Buddhist Nun.

Gena Haskett is a Contributing Editor at BlogHer where this post originally appeared.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

PresentationCamp L.A. - Bringing Enthusiasm

This is a short clip from Lisa’s presentation on how to bring fun into presenting information.

My understanding is that you cannot expect to have people happy to hear what you have to say if you are a drip or a monotone piece of cardboard. Lisa Braithwaite gives solid advice about the mindset required to deliver a good presentation. 

For more info check out Cliff Atkinson’s blog or to see if there are other videos or notes, check out the PresentationCamp wiki.

PresentationCamp L.A. – What Do You Want To Know?

I've told folks last week about PresentationCamp L.A. I wish I knew about it sooner but such is life. My previous post mentioned the serendipity that caused me to become aware of the techniques and skills of presentation. There are very similar to writing, blogging and storytelling.

So this video is for folks that could not attend or wonder why would you give up a Saturday to do this? There were professional presenters, entrepreneurs, people that worked in non-profit organizations, life coaches, representatives from engineering and health sciences. The common intersection among us was the need to transfer what we know to another person.

What are the questions? How do you do it. So at the beginning of an Un-conference/BarCamp experience the participants decide on the day’s agenda. Cliff Atkinson and Lisa Braithwaite kick of the day with the invitation to “ask for what you want.”

For more information or to check to see if there are other videos or notes check out the PresentationCamp wiki.

PresentationCamp L.A. Pre-Ramble or A Tale of Two Books

The PSA project was and is making me crazy. I know what I want to do, I know the information I want to convey but I need to deliver it in an accessible and visual manner. I also want to teach people how to do this as well but I have to simplify the process.

Yes, I don't lack for things to do.

Slideology

Here is the thing, I am not a designer, educational media specialist or the slickest video kid on the block. I don't have to be but I needed help.

I stared looking for books and resources on how to convey information that could help me with the stories I need to pass on down the line.

I decide on Slide:ology by Nancy Duate. Off I go to the local bookstore. Not in stock. Store #2, nope just sold out.

Hit up on Store #3, where I call before I make a move, and "Yes, we've got it."

They didn't have it.

I look down and I see this book, Beyond Bullet Points by Cliff Atkinson. I open it up, flip the pages and it seemed to speak of the processes on how to do this and understand what the audience needs from people who present information.

Sold. I'll order the other book online. Time marches on.

Ok a full three months pass by without ordering the book.

A few days ago a friend e-mails me that she just learned via the Apple Store how to bring her Keynote slides into iMovie and export into a Flash movie format.

I sent her a link to Cliff's website. I also check out the Beyond Bullet Points blog and that is how I found out about Presentation Camp L.A.

It was a mind inspiring day. I'm editing video so I hope to have something soon. It is that time thing, don’t have as much as I need or want.

Oh yeah, the purpose of this pre-ramble. I got a copy of Slide:ology, iMovie 09, and When Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes by Andy Goodman.

Serendipity has often meant to me to surrender to the possible you can't see. Or getting whacked upside the head with a lot of information at one time. It is a good thing but it still knocks me out when it happens.

I mean that literally because it took three hours to get home (Dang that Metro!) and I conked out shortly after.

It was great but a really long day. In another ramble I need to re-think why I don't drive.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Juneteenth - Musically Jumping for Joy

Imagine yourself 144 years ago on June 19, 1865. It is has been two and a half years since the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.  The place, Galveston, Texas. You might see federal troops coming into town or you might be one of the first to hear Gen. Gordon Granger make the announcement to enslaved citizens that they were free. 

The day and the celebration is known as Juneteenth. It can be celebrated by all freedom loving Americans and anybody else around the world. The day can be a private appreciation of how far we as Americans have come. It is also a  a time of parades, performances or the beginning of family reunions. And of course, the telling of personal stories.

I have no doubt that some of those stories were told musically. This is is good thing because June is also Black/African American Music Month. In 1979 President Jimmy Carter officially recognized the contributions made by a diverse and influential group of performers.  Because of a lack of music education some young people are questioning “Do we have anything musically celebrate?”  If you only look at the commercialization of popular music you might want to say no.

Not so fast. There are a number of music ethnographers, musicians, and bloggers who are doing what can to preserve and bring all types of music forward. For example, you might have stumbled into an “Old Skool Friday” video or audio post. You might have encountered a Twitter outbreak of song swapping links connecting music to the past and the present.

We all have that one tune that when you hear it on the radio or your media player you crank it up.  This is a brief look and listen of some of the music forms, created or refined in America.

Spirituals and The Kumbayah Moment

Many of us in contemporary American have no concept of performing manual labor twelve hours a day, six and a half days a week. Music was used to help sustain people through their long workday, a vocal road map out of town or a petition of endurance. One particular spiritual song had an interesting journey.

Kumbayah is a Gulla spiritual song from the North Carolina descendants of West African slaves. Around 1930 an American missionary journeyed to Africa and taught it to people in Angola. When western musicians came to Africa in the 1950s and 1960s they heard the tune and brought the song back to America as a folk music. This rendition is performed by The Kuziems Singers.

You don’t need a group to sing a spiritual. You can write your own like Carol AnnB at Undeniably Me:

I am waiting on a miracle
Can’t you see I’ve lost my way?
To heal this heart of mine
And to help me guide the way

Spirituals not only soothed souls but begat two other forms of American music, The Blues and Jazz.

Blues in the Night

You can’t have the sacred without the profane. Spirituals guides folks vision upward and Blues music helped people cope with the pain of the day to day, a busted heart or the tear that would not fall.  Saffire The Uppity Blues Women have 25 years of performing and recording experience. This is a rocking bunch of dames. I present to you their lyrical rendition of Too Much Butt for One Pair of Jeans.

Yes, the Blues can be funny. What is not funny is the lack of opportunity to hear Blues performers and musicians via radio or music distribution sites unless you really look for them. Kat Danser’s blog is a connection to Blues artists she has worked with, the actual business of being a Blues performer and a link to her main site where you can check out her tunes and discography.

Swing That Jazz

Finding information about jazz performers and especially woman jazz performers who are not singers, is tough but there is hope. Certainly you could check out Blog-O-Jazz or A Blog Supreme from NPR to learn who is who except all the who folks seem to be male.  Well, I will never let an opportunity to refute the notion that women did not play jazz pass me by.

Yes they did and they do. This is short clip of some of the well known women jazz bands of the 1930s and 1940s.

 

On the contemporary seen is Nicole Mitchell and her group Black Ensemble Earth or women like Deana Kirk who is taking her second chance at her music career. You can read the NY Times article about her choices including owning a jazz club and the decision to restart singing professionally.

Juneteenth is about celebrating freedom, freedom from expectation or limitations. It is the freedom to love all kinds of music and the right to perform. It is an opportunity those that can to introducing new generations to the foundation of what they are hearing today. Music needs love, nourishment, exposure to light and cross pollination.

Gena Haskett is a Contributing Editor at BlogHer where this post originally appeared.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cinema Studies – Would You Watch A Chick Flick?

My initial answer is usually “No.” In my head a so-called “chick flick” is fluffy, superficial and it reeks of girly-girl craziness in pursuit of beefcake. Or so I have been told. If I dig a little deeper inside of myself I think “How do I know this?” Well, movie reviewers and critics, mostly male but some female critics have passively taught me the negative confines of a chick flick. So I wonder, do women see movies differently than men?

Cinema Studies is many things from how each element in a film contributes to the creation of an movie experience to the importance of a film against the context of its time. Let me start with an movie that I was guilty of pre-judging when I saw the initial ads and reviews.

The Notebook is based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks.  Had no prior knowledge of Mr. Sparks work.  I might have seen the commercials for the movie and read a few of the reviews. It was enough to cause me to dismiss spending money on the film. That was a mistake. This is the trailer for the film: 

About a year ago I saw the movie on television. Loved it. I couldn’t figure out how I had missed it.  Looking back at the reviews I can see why. I was told that it was sweet, corny and well worth the risk of diabetic shock?  Yowser!

I found that the movie invited me into the past and the present with a love story involving class, wealth, loss and the endurance of love. The same qualities that I found in Casablanca, The Quiet Man and What Dreams May Come. For me, it was the story and the craftsmanship used to tell the story.  If the movie touched me in a positive way but freaked out some of the men that reviewed it does that make it a bad movie?

It could be that, to a professional movie reviewer who has seen a lot of movies, this was a paint by the numbers job. For myself who spent umpteen years watching the Late, Late Show and knows a turkey movie when I see one, I don’t think this was the case. How many good films might have been ignored because they didn’t resonate with the perceptions of the predominately male reviewers? I don’t know. I don’t even know if it is a fair question.

If, on the other hand, watching the movie makes you feel bad about your love life (or lack thereof) is it a good movie because it re-enforces cultural memes about finding true, everlasting love? Shannon at Three Girls Grown Up pulled a double whammy on herself. She read the book and viewed the movie.

So there is the subjective way to view film and an objective way to see a film. For students learning filmmaking there is process you can employ to really understand how the film was crafted. Tendrape at the Communications and Culture Blog reviewed the film looking at how certain decisions were made to invoke mood and experience.  She also looked at how certain mythologies are conveyed in the film:

This movie reinforces attitudes that go along with other popular films today like encouragement for the underdog and living the American Dream. Even though Noah is not working to become a millionaire or something with money which most often is associated with the American Dream, he doesn’t stop trying to get Allie back and eventually all his enduring efforts paid off similar to the dreams goals panning out in the end.

Women who love film/cinema/movies might bring a different perspective on what the see in a movie. They can also shine a light on forgotten or ignored film history. Here are some examples.

Other Cinema Blogs That Inform

Stacia at She Blogged By Night gives a review and critique of BorderTown. Stacia intertwines a synopsis of the movie with how Bette Davis performance in the film enhances or detracts from the presentation.  There is also a mention of the racism directed toward Latinos in the 1930s in the film. Raquelle from Out Of The Past, A Classic Film Blog uses the 1961 movie, The Young Savages to focus in on how Puerto Ricans are portrayed in New York City, 30 years away from BorderTown.

Raquelle has another great post about the dilemma of just focusing on the film or performance or do you allow the actor’s real life to influence your appreciation of the film:

I am far too nosy and inquisitive to not learn about the lives of classic film stars yet is it right for me to dig up the dirt? Should I honor their legendary careers by avoiding their personal lives? If so, why should I? If they did bad things, why should I overlook them? What about those stars who were genuinely good people? Should we avoid them too?

Campaspe at Self-Style Siren evaluates the screen relationships between two great character actors, Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet. She point out an interesting aspect of one of their scenes in The Maltese Falcon:

How well these two always managed to flesh out relationships that were somewhat superficial on paper. In The Maltese Falcon their more-than-business association is startlingly plain, but it's all in the playing. When Lorre attacks Greenstreet, yelling "You, you imbecile! You bloated idiot! You stupid fathead!" we hear not just a criminal sidekick but also a frustrated ex-lover.

Lolita’s Classics features a tribute to Animator Lottie Reiniger. Reiniger used black paper and scissors to create her animations and the work is stunning. You can view some of Lottie’s wonderful videos at Lolita’s blog. As Lolita points out:

Even though many people think that the first feature-length animated film was Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), The Adventures of Prince Achmed really is the oldest surviving animated feature film.

Bunny Fontaine loves B-Movies and writes about them at The B-Movie Buffet. But Bunny also grooves on retro movie fashions at her blog The Jaded Pussycat. Check out the 1960s fashions from the Dean Martin film The Silencers and then wonder about the so-called good old days when things were more “innocent.”

Sometimes a film can inspire folks to create their own works of art. Diane at Whidbey Island pays tribute to Hollywood fashion via reconstructing costumes from movies. The  costumes are scaled to doll size. You can see costumes from Imitation of Life, Funny Face and Rear Window.

I end with Norma Desmond’s The Flick Chick review of a contemporary movie, My Life in Ruins.  From what I’ve read this may indeed be a chick flick and not a good one at that:

I can’t remember the last time I saw a film where the plot machinery was so clearly visible and where everyone involved seemed to be proceeding with a “let’s just get this over with” attitude. I wasn’t even expecting that much from this, just light, fluffy summer entertainment but I find it difficult to be entertained by things that never aspire to more than the lowest common denominator.

I think the difference for me is that the plot and structure of the movie is being judged and not the fact that it doesn’t have bombs, gore or transforming robots as an instant negative.

This post originally appeared on BlogHer, where I am a Contributing Editor.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

BlogHer09 Los Angeles Meet-Up Photos

It was great to see old friends and meet new folks. I also want to give a shout out to the Zona Rosa Caffe:

http://www.zonarosacaffe.com/It is a neat place to go for first dates, conversations or waiting for the play to start at the nearby theater. The staff was great and I enjoyed my Mexican Hot Chocolate and as super chocolate muffin I had for desert later that day.

Zona Rosa Caffe in PasadenaNew Friends


Mary Hunt and BlogHim
This is the first wave of photos and I have a bit of video that I'll post later. I hope that is the start of many LA Meet-ups. Yes we need to go to the Westside, Orange County and anybody else that wants to come along.

Make it so and let me know.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Crawfish on the Finally Friday Freakout

People are going flap doodle crazy. Straight up bonkers and proud of it. Now I'm an info-junkie but I have limits. These past two weeks have stretch them til they are about to snap. I need restoration. Comfort. I need dinner.

I have retreated to the safe confines of Turner Classic Movies but even when I pop my head out the gunk that is spewing forth is...Whew! Had to stop myself. Where was I?

I would have like to have link this to TCM but they didn't have embedding options so I'm splitting the difference. This is from the movie King Creole. This is the opening scene with a young cat named Elvis singing about Crawfish.



I've always like this song from this movie. Thanks to TCM I now know the woman singing with Elvis was Kitty White. This is cool beans baby.

Enjoy and play it forward. The kind stuff. Recycle the crap.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Shaking Out the Kodak Zi6 Pocket Video Camera – This Could Be Love

I knew I needed something. Wanted something. My old standby was good. No complaints. Yet in my heart I knew there was something more. Sure I’ve heard folks talk about The Flip, crazy about The Flip and I checked it out. I like the size, the video were acceptable and it looked easy.

But it didn’t hit the spot. So I kept looking. It was between the Creative Vado or the Kodak Zi6 Pocket Video Camera in terms of video quality, storage and ease of use. Oh yeah and the high definition thing. Well, I could not find the Creative Vado locally to see if it would be a good match. Friday night I was in a store. I turned the corner. Before my eyes was The Flip, the Zi6 and all the other pretenders to the throne.

The Flip Ultra was in white. Nope – I would have it in multiple shade of gray by nightfall. The Flip Mini was enticing. Very small. But the Kodak had a large screen, a SD/SDHC slot and the ability to take AA/Rechargeable batteries. Not to mention recording in standard or 720p HD if I wanted or needed it. In 30 or 60 frame per second as well as 640 x 480. Sold!

This is a brief look at some test footage. I edited it just a bit. I did have to render it in standard definition but you should be able to see the quality of the macro mode. In macro mode if you are 2 inches away you can dive into the pores of a budding flower in great detail

Shooting was a revelation. I didn’t think a little video camcorder could do high def, even if it is only 720p.

I could see clearly it and was pur-dy! The recorded video dimensions are 1280x720. A big honking file, as it should be. Beautiful video. You can also record in 60fps but really, I can’t think of a good reason to do so unless you are planning to do slo-mo on the cheap. There are other reasons to shoot in 60fps but not for casual recording.

Here lies the problem, no matter if you have a HD Flip of Zi6. If you plan to upload it to any of the video services you are uploading a really large file. Now if the video absolutely has to be in high definition that is fine. If not, you will wind up compressing your great video to standard definition.

The standard def conversion of HD video looks good. If you don't need to record in HD it is ok for now. If you have a HD television and you plan on showing videos then yes, it makes sense to record in HD. If you are doing presentations it will look great. Web video? Hmm - it depends. Most of the time web level video is fine.

Which kinda defeats the purpose of having high def video. The bandwidth isn’t there for most of the planet or it will eat into allotted usage. Uploading a HD version of a 50 second video took 50+ minutes. Even if you upload a compressed version, and, you will have to, the Flash video format will add gunk to the video.

But even with that said, it ain’t half bad.

Friday, June 05, 2009

In Memory of Miss Koko Taylor on the Finally Friday Freakout

Koko Taylor sang about life, stories and adventure though the Blues. She carried forward a long tradition of telling the tales via music. Her life as a Blues musician had to be exciting, tragic and an on-going lesson in humans and humanity. Musically, she came up on the rough side of the historical fence of the 50s, 60s and 1970’s.

The passing of Koko Taylor was spoken with a whisper compared to David Carradine um, unintentional departure. No disrespect intended. Mr. Carradine was a spirited individual who had a life filled with stories, adventure and lawd knows he was one of a kind. I don’t think you could do a movie about his actual life on the other side of the cameras. Not sure this is how he planned to go out but there you go. There is life and there is the alternative. You are working on one and the other sneaks up on you.

I first heard Koko Taylor over the radio. I was reading one of my computer magazines. This song came on the radio and forced me to put it down. The name of the tune is Insane Asylum.

When your love has cease to be, there is no other place for me, if you don’t hold me in your arms, I’m rather be here from now on.” It was like being hit from all sides and nobody else was in the room.  As soon as I could I bought her CD of her greatest hits. Pure gold each and every tune.

I’m not well versed in the history of the Blues. I have songs I like, mainly the story songs. I’m still looking for the one that goes, “my new silk pajamas are crumpled on the floor, there’s crumbs in the bed and what is wrong with you? What I want to know is, is something going on?”

I digress. It isn’t just about the song, or the delivery of the song. It is the connection with other people. Koko explains about her inspirations, like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, her process of writing and what it can do for an audience.

Tis a time for weeping but that is only a part of the Blues. You can weep and jump for joy at the same time. So lift up your glass of Cherry Coke and groove for the next nine minutes or so to a bit of Let the Good Times Roll + I’m A Woman.

Koko, blessings on your new tour and I hope you meet up with old friends and family.

Everybody else, rock on.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Elephant Journal Interview with Sister Prejean

Sister Helen Prejean and I would agree wholeheartedly about some issues and disagree with others. The one thing I am sure about is that she would not want me dead or condemn me to hell because we disagreed. Still working on processing my anger about the murder of Dr. Tiller.

Walk the Talk Show: Sister Helen Prejean from Alex King & Mito Media on Vimeo.



This is an interview conducted at the Naropa University by Waylon Lewis. What I was impressed by is that she understands the duality of our natures. Sister Prejean talks about forgiveness in impossible situations, what spiritual love is (and it does not involve shooting someone in the name of God) and yes, honor life but pass the BBQ.

Ok, maybe not the BBQ. Slide that gumbo over here. Anyway, for more about mindful, meditative, higher plane type talking visit Elephant Journal.