One of the greatest animated shorts ever.
One of the greatest animated shorts ever.
By John Lopez
“What it means to be an artist today — where do we start on that one?” muses Ed Ruscha, almost nonplused. Finally, the soft-spoken art veteran decides : “It means facing a lot of information that’s going to be very difficult to take in and swallow because there’s so much of it.”
Once the ramifications settle in, he slyly drawls, “to grasp the total picture would make you wish you could go back to 1960 when things were a bit slower, almost like the Dark Ages.”
That dizziness finds a counterpoint with fledgling film director Michael Mohan on a cold December night in Westwood. His youthful exuberance contrasts with Ruscha’s measured bemusement: “It’s not like it’s going to be crazy; it is crazy, right now.”
Mohan has reason to be excited. His first feature, “One Too Many Mornings,” about two twentysomething guys who reignite their high school friendship, which he shot over two years’ worth of nights and weekends with a budget well under $50,000, will play the 2010 Sundance Film Festival in a new category dedicated to low-to-no-budget filmmakers.
Where Ruscha recoils at the opened floodgates of the Information Age, Mohan gushes: “There’s an audience for everything . . . if you say I want to express myself and people will see it, yes, that’s what in 2010 you can do.”
The Star Wars Holiday Special was broadcast on TV in 1978 as a fine-print stipulation to the fiddle contest that George Lucas lost to the devil. It was terrible in every possible direction. If Hitler forced aliens to put on a variety show at gunpoint, you’d feel more comfortable watching it. To this day, parts of George Lucas sizzle and fall off if you mention it near him. Famous little person Warwick Davis actually started as a section of George Lucas that screamed and detached itself when the special first aired. And since that day, it has never been shown or legally distributed.
Those moving advertisements atop taxis generally deliver not-so-subtle messages, like which airlines to fly or movies to see, who makes the sexiest blue jeans or the coolest sunglasses.
But for the month of January, Show Media, a Las Vegas company that owns about half the cones adorning New York City’s taxis, has decided to give commerce a rest. Instead, roughly 500 cabs will display a different kind of message: artworks by Shirin Neshat, Alex Katz and Yoko Ono.
The project is costing Show Media about $100,000 in lost revenue, but John Amato, one of Show’s owners and a contemporary-art fan, said: “I thought it was time to take a step back. January’s a slow month. I could have cut my rates but instead I decided to hit the mute button and give something back to the city.”
He contacted the Art Production Fund, a nonprofit New York organization that presents art around the city, and asked its co-founders, Yvonne Force Villareal and Doreen Remen, to select artists. They in turn sought out Ms. Neshat, Mr. Katz and Ms. Ono, three New Yorkers known for work that can read both conceptually and physically in a confined space. (The ads measure just 14 by 48 inches.)
The project is called “Art Adds,” not just as a play on its advertising origins but also, Ms. Villareal said, because “art adds to the public’s vision.”
1 box red velvet cake mix, with ingredients specified on the box
1/2 cup flour
8 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
8 tablespoons butter (room temperature)
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Prepare mix as instructed, blending in an additional 1/2 . Pour mixture into zip-top bag and cut off one corner of the bag to create a small hole. Squeeze dough onto greased cookie sheets in tablespoon-size portions. They should be shaped slightly like Hershey’s Kisses. Allow 2 inches between each one. Bake 6-8 minutes. Do not over-bake; you want a cakelike texture. Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack.
George Michael, famed D.C. sportscaster, dies of cancer
By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 25, 2009; A01
George Michael, 70, a high-rated and hyperanimated Washington sportscaster whose extensive use of game highlights from across the country on his nationally syndicated show has now become the norm in the industry, died Thursday at Sibley Memorial Hospital. He had chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Mr. Michael was a popular rock-and-roll DJ in Philadelphia and New York before making a successful transition to television, where his boisterous style and unremitting hustle made him one of the dominant personalities in Washington for years. He represented sports as entertainment, with what some regarded as a team-friendly approach, especially to the hometown Redskins.
Starting in 1980, Mr. Michael oversaw a trendsetting show that made liberal use of action highlights from games in addition to interviews and other reports. “The George Michael Sports Machine,” as it was eventually called, was syndicated to almost 200 stations at its peak.
by Karen Fernau
Not all Christmas gifts come wrapped in paper and tied with fancy bows.
“The best way to make a holiday meal special is to use special foods, and present them beautifully. Wellington is both. It’s traditional and elegant at the same time,” said chef Jacques Qualin at J&G Steakhouse in Phoenix.
For more impact, Qualin suggests molding the puff pastry to create flowers or other holiday decorations. Simply use a knife and your hands to mold the pastry into art just prior to baking.
LOS ANGELES — There was a time, a decade ago, Patti Smith said, that she did not want to make a film about herself.
“To me the idea seems sort of conceited,” she said in an interview. “I felt, even though I was 50 years old at the time, too young to do a documentary. I hadn’t done enough work yet to merit a documentary.”
It turns out that being followed around by a camera for more than a decade can help one overcome shyness. On Dec. 30, Ms. Smith’s 63rd birthday,PBS will broadcast “Patti Smith: Dream of Life,” a documentary filmed over 11 years by the fashion photographer and film neophyte Steven Sebring.
By Wendy Smith
The apt title of this juicy oral history, based on more than 160 interviews, simultaneously expresses a principle that guided producer-provocateur Joe Papp and the theatrical ruckus that ensued.
“Free for All” is how Papp presented Shakespeare in Central Park and in mobile units that toured some of New York City’s poorest, toughest neighborhoods. A free-for-all was the kind of battle he engaged in with anyone he thought stood in the way of making theater accessible to everyone.
And a free-for-all, the voices skillfully assembled in Kenneth Turan’s text reveal, was frequently the atmosphere created by Papp’s burning sense of mission and his intensely personal relationships with the artists he nurtured and infuriated during such groundbreaking productions as “Hair,” “No Place to Be Somebody,” “Short Eyes,” “A Chorus Line,” “for colored girls . . .” and “Runaways.”
Say the words “gay cowboy” and chances are the conversation will turn to “Brokeback Mountain,” the 2005 film starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, and based on the Annie Proulx short story.
The Oscar-winning drama, which is set in the 1960s to ’80s, highlighted a long-submerged facet of frontier culture. But as a new series at the Autry National Center shows, the presence of homosexuals and transgender individuals in the American West is much older than the movie might lead you to think. It is, in fact, almost as old as the West itself.
Take for instance the tale of One-Eyed Charlie.
A stagecoach driver known for his hard drinking and itchy trigger finger, Charlie worked for the California Stage Co., where he earned his reputation as one of the best drivers in the wild West. He traveled between Oregon and California and, the story goes, got his nickname when he lost an eye while attempting to shoe a horse.
But Charlie kept a secret that was revealed only after his death in 1879. When his body was being prepared, a coroner discovered that One-Eyed Charlie was actually a woman.
It turns out that Charlie, nee Charlotte Darkey Parkhurst, had passed much of her adult life as a man. The discovery of her true gender became a local sensation. And her story still fascinates U.S. historians, some of whom believe that she was the first woman to have voted in a presidential election, long before the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.
By Dennis McLellan
Dan O’Bannon, the acclaimed science fiction/horror film screenwriter who was best known for writing the blockbuster hit “Alien” and who also directed and wrote the zombie fest “The Return of the Living Dead,” has died. He was 63.
O’Bannon, whose credits include co-writing “Blue Thunder” and “Total Recall,” died Thursday at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica after losing his 30-year battle with Crohn’s disease, said his wife, Diane.
His career began with the low-budget 1974 sci-fi film “Dark Star,” a dark comedy directed by John Carpenter that began as a USC student project and was co-written by O’Bannon and Carpenter from their original story. (O’Bannon played what has been described as a “reluctant, flunky astronaut.”)
“Dan was enormously talented. He was acerbically funny and, I think, quite underappreciated,” Carpenter, who first met O’Bannon in film school at USC, told The Times on Friday. “I think Dan had more talent than he was allowed to show in the movie business. He was multitalented: a production designer, editor, director, writer.
“One of the things that endeared him to me was his rebellion against all authority, including myself, the studios, anybody who was above him. He said he kicks up, not down.”
1 1/2 pounds spaghetti squash
8 slices bacon
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cut in half across the middle, then in half lengthwise. Remove and discard seeds. Place squash pieces cut side down in a microwave-safe pan and loosely cover with . Microwave on high power until tender, 5 to 9 minutes. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels and set aside. (Do not drain bacon grease.)
Courtesy of the Criterion Collection
THE most imposing DVD gift set of this holiday season is “AK 100: 25 Films by Akira Kurosawa,” which, in commemoration of Kurosawa’s coming centennial, the Criterion Collection has released at the equally imposing retail price of $399.
Elegantly packaged in a shoebox-size container covered in red and black linen, it contains 25 of the 30-odd features directed by Kurosawa, the Japanese filmmaker most famous for “Rashomon” (1950) and “Seven Samurai” (1954). For the most part these are titles that have already been issued by Criterion in stand-alone editions; they’ve been remastered here with a new menu design but without the extensive supplementary features for which Criterion has become justly famous. This time around it’s just the movies, though the set comes with an abundantly illustrated 96-page book with an introductory essay and notes on each film by the Kurosawa scholar Stephen Prince, as well as a personal reminiscence by Donald Richie, who was among the first critics to present Kurosawa to Western audiences.
With surprisingly few exceptions Japanese movies were virtually unknown outside of Japan until “Rashomon” won the Golden Lion at the 1951 Venice Film Festival, touching off a vogue for Japanese cinema that lasted through the decade. Kurosawa, who died in 1998, was never forgiven for his early success by the Western critics who came to prefer the more stylistically refined films of Kenji Mizoguchi, Yasujiro Ozu and other directors whose work was discovered in Kurosawa’s wake, or by the Japanese critics who considered Kurosawa too Western in his cultural references and aesthetic choices.
Today these debates seem provincial and pointless. As the great French critic André Bazin wrote in a letter to his pupil François Truffaut, “Unquestionably anyone who prefers Kurosawa must be incurably blind, but anyone who loves only Mizoguchi is one-eyed.” There is no denying the surging vitality of a “Seven Samurai” or a “Yojimbo” (1961), just as there is no denying the blunt thematic statements and stylistic jumble of films like “Ikiru” (1952) and “I Live in Fear” (1955). And we now know that Mizoguchi and Ozu were influenced just as much by Western films as by Kurosawa, if not more so, with no apparent cost to their Japaneseness, itself a concept rendered suspicious by our postmodern distrust of essentialism.
What’s a good way to keep from getting lonely in this high holy season of togetherness? Stay away from lonely people.
It’s brutal but true, and it’s the cutting-edge finding of researchers whose mission it is to discover the causes of loneliness so that we can combat it with full force.
Think this is just a scholarly version of a “Dr. Phil” episode? Think again.
The lead researcher on this project — with UC San Diego’s James H. Fowler and Harvard’s Nicholas A. Christakis — is University of Chicago neuroscientist John T. Cacioppo, who last year co-wrote a groundbreaking book arguing that far from being a personal issue, mass loneliness threatens our public health. This new study, published in the latest issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, seeks to map the geography of loneliness. Who feels it? And what is the connection of these Eleanor Rigbys to the rest of us?
What the authors find is that, like a virus, loneliness is contagious. People become lonely because of who they know as much as who they don’t know. It makes sense, really. When people are lonely, they tend to be less trusting and even irritable toward others. This type of behavior can easily make those on the receiving end feel a sense of isolation and loneliness themselves. In other words, lonely people pass on their loneliness. Before alienated people check into a cave, they alienate others, thereby continuing the chain. As the researchers put it, this means that loneliness is “both a cause and consequence of becoming disconnected.”
James Frey and the stroller he designed for Bugaboo. Credit: Bugaboo
In honor of World AIDS Day, author James Frey created a custom Bugaboo Cameleon Stroller that’s being auctioned on eBay.
The auction is “to generate money for the Global Fund which finances AIDS grants in Africa, the region hardest hit with this pandemic,” according to a press release.
When he’s not writing, Frey and his wife keep busy with their 5-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son. We spoke to Frey about the auction and his family life.
ParentDish: How did you get involved with this charity?
James Frey: A friend of mine, who works in PR for Bugaboo and was doing work with Bugaboo and (RED), contacted me.
PD: Tell me about your design.
JF: You know, they sent me a stroller. (Laughs.) And they were like, do something cool with it. I’m a father to two young children and we’re constantly reading books and learning our letters and saying the ABCs. And I’m a writer who literally makes his living using letters. I wanted to do something that I thought would be cool looking and appropriate to what I do. So I came up with the idea of just plastering letters of different colors and sizes and fonts all over the stroller.
PD: There was an article in Vanity Fair about you being a “PTA dad” at your kids’ school. Do parents ever want to talk to you about your career?
JF: Occasionally. Most of the time I’m just a dad. There are other well-known parents at our children’s school [and] we’re there as the parents of our children, not as whoever we are in our professional lives. I love doing stuff at my kids’ school. They go to a great school and I’m happy to be a part of it. I’m the school tour guide, I was Class Dad twice. I think it’s important to be involved with your kids’ lives and I’m lucky that I have the opportunity to.
PD: Were you one of the only dads to be a class parent?
JF: Yeah. The Class Moms all liked to tease me and make fun of me.
December 9, 2009, 3:00 pm
I like to eat bread and chewing gum off the sidewalk. If I find a stray snot-rag, I will eat that, too. And if I come across any other dog’s pee, I will cover it with my own, thus ensuring my dominance in the neighborhood.
I never thought I would be writing for a major Web site. But then again, until recently, I didn’t have much to write about, since things were going pretty normal.
I usually wake up around 7. Then I stretch. I like to hit the outdoors before I have my breakfast.
Like, there’s this new book coming out, published by HarperCollins:
Here’s the synopsis over at their website:
“It All Changed in an Instant
More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure
By Larry Smith, Rachel Fershleiser
On Sale: 1/5/2010 PRE-ORDER HERE!
“A perfect distraction and inspiration, and a collection that begs to be shared. Be warned, though. If you plan to lend out your copy, start out with two. Once it leaves your hands you’ll never see it again.”
—Denver Post (on Not Quite What I Was Planning)
The editors of the New York Times bestseller Not Quite What I Was Planning are back with its much-anticipated sequel, It All Changed in an Instant. With contributions from acclaimed authors likeMalcolm Gladwell, Frank McCourt, Wally Lamb, Isabel Allende, Junot Diaz, Amy Tan, and James Frey, and celebrities like Sarah Silverman, Suze Orman, Marlee Matlin, Neil Patrick Harris, Ann Coulter, and Chelsea Handler, It All Changed in an Instant presents a thousand more glimpses of humanity. . . six words at a time. In the vein of the popular Post Secret books, It All Changed in an Instant, in the words of Vanity Fair, “will thrill minimalists and inspire maximalists.”
Blame the economy. Or technology. Maybe the problem is that books, the kind made from trees, are losing their appeal in the age of electronic readers and video games.
Whatever the reason, the Gift of Reading program is in trouble this year. And that’s bad news for all of us.
We know it’s important that children learn to love reading, so they can excel in school and in the workplace. We know that a kid who knows the joy of curling up on a grown-up’s lap and listening to “Goodnight Moon” is more likely to get hooked on Harry Potter and a lifetime of heroes and villains. Lots of parents start reading to their children even before they can sit up. But all too many kids don’t have books at home, and all too many classrooms don’t have enough to go around. That’s why, for 22 years, the Mercury News has sponsored the Gift of Reading, an annual drive that promotes literacy by putting new or gently used books in the hands of disadvantaged children. Thousands of kids have owned their first book thanks to the generosity of this community. Donations of books to schools inspired teachers to build libraries without digging into their own pockets.
A dip in donations
Last year, the program donated 70,000 books to elementary and preschools and nonprofits in Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and Alameda counties. That’s a lot of kids hooked on reading. But so far this year, only 16,500 books have been collected….
Dec 10 01:14 PM US/Eastern
NEW YORK (AP) – The journalism trade journal Editor & Publisher is shutting down after 108 years of publication.
Editor & Publisher is being closed as its parent company, the Nielsen Co., sells several of its other business publications such as The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard.