May 31, 2008

Music Time: Katie Stelmanis

And now for someone completely different: Katie Stelmanis, out of Toronto (Ontario, Canada), and clearly her own person.

Here is the title track from Join Us (available from Blocks Recording Club), with the video created by visual artist and video producer Jesi the Elder (whose website takes you behind the scenes).



©2008 Jesi the Elder/jesi.ca.
Sound recording ©2007 Blocks Recording Club.
Music ©2007 Katie Stelmanis.


A larger version of this video can be seen on her homepage.

We dare any and all radio stations to get her disc in their playlists.

Music Time: Team Havok

We recently featured the Long Island–based punk band Team Havok here with a set of live videos made at SUNY Stony Brook University.

This time, we have a new "scrapbook"–style video for "Track 3":



©2008 Team Havok.

Don't blink — this one moves quickly.

Intermission: Ask your spin doctor

Think you've seen every prescription drug ad imaginable? Wait till you get a load of this one for "Incarcerex"©:



©2007 Drug Policy Alliance.

This one came out in June of 2007, but the "drug problem" {ahem} hasn't exactly gone away.

If you could call it that, that is…

May 30, 2008

"How have you allowed this to happen?"

You don't mess with Walt Mossberg of All Things Digital. You just don't.

Here he is with Kara Swisher, laying the smackdown on Kevin Martin, one of the Republicans on the board of our nation's Federal Communications Commission, on the issue of pricey, tortoise–paced broadband Internet service (it's in two parts):






More background awaits you at Thomson Reuters.

As I said, you don't mess with Walt Mossberg. You just don't.

House Lights: Your movie habits

Let's take a breather from our near–perpetual picture show and give you a chance to weigh in with your thoughts:


  • What kind of a movie person are you?


  • How do you watch movies? On the big or the small screen?


  • How many movies do you watch online? Are you a torrent or Usenet devotee? (Don't panic — no one's being condemned here.)


  • Between critics, ads, teasers and trailers, which ones affect you the most?


  • Which director do you see yourself as the most?



For the record, your Projectionist:

  • roots for the indies (real indies, not the fake indie imprints used by Hollywood);


  • finds himself in front of a Mac or Ubuntu screen or his small TV and DVD/VCD combo more often than not;


  • is very comfy with YouTube and the Internet Archive;


  • does his best to ignore the ads, takes critics with the usual grain of salt,and likes a good trailer providing that the movie being plugged looks intriguing;


  • and relates to the casting and guerilla filmmaking practices of Peter Watkins, even if he can't be in the English director's league.




Why Peter Watkins? He prefers casting non–professionals in most of his movies — and not just in walk–on roles. And the results — Culloden, The War Game, Gladiatorerna/The Gladiators, Punishment Park, La Commune (Paris 1871) — are nothing short of amazing. (Project X Distribution and First Run Features have ported the above films to DVD, and more are on the way.)

May 27, 2008

Remembering Utah Phillips (1935–2008)

It was saddening to hear of the passing of the celebrated folksinger/raconteur/activist Utah Phillips last Saturday (May 23rd). Your Projectionist has since been wading through lots of tributes and memories sent by e–mail and uploaded on the Web, and it'd be hard to properly measure the impact he had not only on other folkies and storytellers everywhere, but on anyone who even just listened to his voice and his words.

Since the news of his passing, a lot of concert footage has made its way to YouTube. First timers, however, should first look at this, the Tuesday, May 27th broadcast of Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now! (also available in an audio version for those who prefer it).







For those already familiar with the man, this one's a keeper.

If you crave a video souvenir, the Internet Archive has a downloadable version in all the big flavors.

Music Time: Weezer

Normally, the Projectionist doesn't follow major label music these days, for all the reasons so many young people are all too aware of. But this morning we'll make an exception, simply because this one is too good to let get away.

So without further adieu, we offer the Universal Music–signed band Weezer with their little ditty, "Pork and Beans."



©2008 DGC/Interscope Records, a Universal Music Company.

Anyone recognize yourself in this one?

May 22, 2008

Saddle up

Wow. We love this piece from the staff at GOOD Magazine, who have found a very entertaining way to explain how well each of the best–known contenders for the U.S. Presidency did in building their campaign war chests:



© GOOD Magazine.

Giddy–up.

May 19, 2008

Coming attraction: If privatized war turns you on…

…then check out this trailer for John Cusack's new feature, War, Inc., forthcoming from Nu Image/Millenium and First Look:



2008 Nu Image/Millenium Films.

There's also a lengthy interview with Mr. Cusack over at AlterNet.

Meanwhile, the Center for Media and Democracy notes something Mr. Cusack might not be ready to bring up: He is one of the nominees for the "Shamie Awards," for his role in glamorizing the cigarette habit in the movies. The Shamies are part of the Fame & Shame Awards presented by the New Mexico Media Literacy Project and New Mexico Voices for Children (with the Smoke Free Movies Campaign lending support).

So, Mr. Cusack, tell us: Do you believe that tobacco lends itself to creativity? Just asking.

The "trophies" get handed out on Friday, June 6th.

And the other Shamie nominees? Nicolas Cage, Jamie Foxx, the soul idol Beyoncé and (this one really hurts) England's Emma Thompson.

Oy. Vey. Ye. Goddesses.

[UPDATE 2008.05.23: Credit where credit is due: Mr. Cusack co–authored the movie with Mark Leyner and Jeremy Pikser. Joshua Seftel is the director.]

[UPDATE 2008.06.06: It is now playing in the suburbs. Not a lot of them, but you take what you can get.]

May 18, 2008

Losing it before he can (supposedly) win it

Sequels seem to be an inevitable fact of life at the movies — even here. But rest assured there's actually a good reason this time: Our fragile "democracy," made even more threadbare by the White House's recent "occupants," is in danger yet again.

Especially if John McCain becomes our next President.

It's a scary thought to Robert Greenwald and company, and so he has unleashed The Real McCain 2:



2008 Brave New Films.

Do I hear 3?

May 17, 2008

Music Time: adaline

Out of Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada, that is), tonight we bring you the singularly–named adaline (lowercase writing intentional). Here is the lady with a live performance of "Meaningless Meeting", from her first album, Famous for Fire:



©2008 adaline.

CD Baby has the album ready for you to order right now, and there is more to hear on her MySpace page (may be blocked by your company's firewall, so wait till you get home).

May 16, 2008

Music Time: Now this is my kind of DIY

Leave it to Etsy.com to celebrate true DIY music making with their monthly gathering of "homemade" musicians and the instruments that they themselves made.

Enjoy this little visit courtesy of Current TV:




Amazing, isn't it?

May 15, 2008

Intermission: Don't trash that aging PC just yet!

Maybe your IBM clone desktop or laptop PC can't do Windows anymore (certainly not XP or Vista)… but Puppy Linux should be capable of teaching an old PC new tricks:



Yes, your Projectionist endorses this distro. His IBM (now Lenovo) ThinkPad 600E now runs like a new machine, and looks as slick as anything on the market right now.

And it's a free download.

Now if only he could get his laptop's CMOS battery replaced…

[UPDATE 2008.05.16: The URL for Puppy Linux has changed — use the one at the top of this post.]

May 13, 2008

Spot the difference

…between our current {ahem!} President and the Man Who Would Take His Place:



2008 MoveOn.org.

Yeah, right. Like you could.

Anyone want to bring the Bush–McCain Challenge to your town? There's a painless way to get the ball rolling online.

May 11, 2008

Intermission: Jodan ja nai yo!*

This has got to be the most baka (Japanese for stupid) product to ever emerge from Bandai. Yeah, it'll probably be a brief craze with kids who don't know better on either side of the Pacific, but, truthfully, what is the purpose of a product like this? (description from J–List, whose main site is NSFW):

If you just love popping bubble wrap packing, or enjoy tormenting someone who can't stand the constant popping — this is your dream come true! Someone has finally stepped up and created an endless bubble packing popper and made it into a keychain, so wherever you go, there you pop...


Bandai proudly [?!] introduces the Mugen Puchi Puchi keychain:




©2008 Bandai.

Just for the record "mugen" means endless, and "puchi puchi" (the often repeated characters in the above animation) is the Japanese onomatopoeia for "pop pop."

Quick — how soon can we set up a batsu–gemu (punishment or penalty game) for the creators of this plastic crap?

(* The above Japanese is basically "You've got to be kidding me!")

May 10, 2008

Music Time: Team Havok

And now, a little quality time with the Long Island indie punk scene, and in particular a band from the Projectionist's neighborhood, named Team Havok. All of these were recorded live on the campus of SUNY Stony Brook University's Battle of the Bands (5 May 2008).

Help yourself, then, to "Track 3":



"We Do Our Drinking Before Part B":




"buck.30 (Almost)":




and "Drown It Out":



2008 Team Havok.

Note: Because the band's homepage is on MySpace, your employer may be using a firewall to keep you out. Try accessing the site at home — unless your parents have other ideas…

PSA: You call this "news"?!

Come on. Admit it. Now. You've become upset by what the evening news on TV in the States has become. You've retreated to Pacifica and NPR newscasts or watch the former's Democracy Now! using Miro on your laptop, or gleaming what you want from BuzzFlash because one more adolescent–Idol–in–trouble story will spike your blood glucose level — or worse.

And now our once glorious (eh?) Federal Communications Commission, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that The 700 Club and all those celebrity gossip or showbiz propaganda shows can be considered "a bona fide newscast."

Had enough?

So have the people who are Free Press, and they need to hear from you.

After you watch this, that is…



2008 Free Press.

We will now allow you sufficient time to make use of the toilet and sink.

May 9, 2008

Feature Presentation: Empire or Humanity?

If you have ever heard of the notable writer and lecturer Howard Zinn (A People's History of the United States), you will be more than prepared for our Feature Presentation.

This time around, it is a video featurette made in support of the recently published book A People's History of American Empire, jointly made by Mr. Zinn, historian Paul Buhle, and cartoonist (yes, we said "cartoonist") Mike Konopacki. Yes, this particular volume is presented in a form not unlike your graphic novel or manga, and the accompanying video — its text in this case an essay on TomDispatch — makes excellent use of Mr. Konopacki's black and white art, sometimes combined with actual images from the news.

Just watch, and pay close attention to Mr. Zinn's train of thought:



Viggo Mortensen, recently seen in David Cronenberg's A History of Violence and Eastern Promises, is the one giving voice to Mr. Zinn's words.

Music Time: Max and the Marginalized (encore)

God and Goddess bless the Los Angeles band known as Max and the Marginalized, which some of us discovered earlier this week thanks to AlterNet's heads–up on the "Teflon John" video.

At the end of the week, we find that our boys aren't quite finished with John McCain yet:



©2008 Max and the Marginalized.

Be sure to read up on this number, entitled "Consider the Source."

There's even more music to be had on their download and donate page. If the spirit moves you, please do send the kind lads any spare change you can. From what we've seen and heard this week, it's worth it.

Intermission: No drugs in this water

Have you been wondering, as has your friendly neighborhood Projectionist, why the United States of America are in such a fragile condition today?

If Lisa Nova is right, it must be in the water:



Consider yourself blessed if your supermarket or grocer won't stock this one.

May 8, 2008

Music Time: Kareem Salama, via Lena Khan

I recently posted on the Reverend Rod Parsley, who has a serious hangup with Muslims in general, mildly speaking.

He clearly doesn't speak for American Muslims. He certainly doesn't speak for any one of the brave, bright souls who joined director Lena Khan and the MAS Media Foundation in making this "unofficial" music video on behalf of Kareem Salama and his song "A Land Called Paradise" (from his 2006 album, Generous Peace).



2008 MAS Media Foundation.

Message to Janice Buckner: Interview this gentleman for your radio show. NOW.

Some company you keep, sir

More proof, if you really needed it, that Robert Greenwald and his posse at Brave New Films agitate like no one else's business: If you think Reverend (?) John Hagee was scary as a supporter of Republican Senator John McCain's presidential bid (and he is), wait 'till you meet the Reverend Rod Parsley (sage, rosemary, and thyme… {ahem}).

True, the Rev. Hagee's insistence on blaming gay people for bringing Hurricane Katrina was sufficiently whack, and your Projectionist doesn't want to give the guy a pass on that (or anything else). McCain needs to face it, and face it he should.

That said, wait until you see and hear Rev. Parsley's declaration of war on… Islam.



2008 Brave New Films (in association with Mother Jones magazine).

Gee whiz, why is McCain smeging up his own bid for the White House like this? Trashing a Beach Boys classic, hanging with scary men of "the cloth" (how much did it cost, and which mail–order catalogues did they order theirs from?), promising other wars and a century (plus) in Iraq…

Congrats, sir. You just put Barack Obama in the White House this January 2009.

And like the song says, I hope you are satisfied, you rascal, you.

May 7, 2008

What the heck is a loophole?

Allow the Brave New Films posse to explain, with their first shot at an animated short:



This post is dedicated to wonderful souls throughout the world — including the Projectionist's own United States — whose Great American Dream has become a nightmare through no fault of their own.

May 6, 2008

Music Time: The FM3 Buddha Machine (+Staalplaat Sound System)


Recently, the Projectionist was asked what he would like for his birthday. With so much up in the air right now, he couldn't think of a thing.

Until now. He now wants the FM3 Buddha Machine.

Not much bigger than your average Apple iPod® — and much cheaper (USD 23 from Forced Exposure, plus USD 4.50 for UPS shipping in the States), it does only one thing: it plays sound loops. And those loops, as noted by The Worst Horse, "are sort of drony, chanty, and/or Asian sounding — but in some sort of faraway, gurgling, 'dream–Asia' way. A poor explanation, granted, but the sounds themselves are lovely. Their drony, chanty quality is surely one reason for the Buddha Machine's name. It's as if the sounds are emanating from a busy, distant temple. A busy, distant temple underwater somewhere."

But don't take the Horse's word for it: Get a earful (and a feel for the Machine) by checking out this Flash–powered version(!!).

Meanwhile, we've noted that some playful people, such as the group calling itself the Staalplaat Soundsystem (as in Staalplaat), are finding good uses for the Machine in their shows:



2007 Staalplaat.

Here is a list of other places to get this little beauty.

Music Time: John McCain... whoops, make that Max and the Marginalized

Sorry about that big typo… but this music video by Max and the Marginalized is about a certain Presidential candidate who is definitely not ready for the Presidency, let alone prime time.



You got it right, guys: Our nation deserves better.

May 4, 2008

Look, ma — no handcuffs! (Yet!)

We have the New Hampshire Free Press to thank for the news about one Dave Ridley, who's been traveling here and there with an… illegal puppet (marionette) show.

"Illegal," only because puppet shows in New Hampshire are supposed to be licensed. It's actually the law in that state.

Which means that Mr. Ridley, a Ron Paul supporter, could eventually end up in jail. Hasn't happened yet, though.

Nothing obscene about his show — unless you think a retelling of Henry David Thoreau's time in jail (for refusing to pay the poll tax for the Mexican–American war, of all things) is obscene.

For the moment, enjoy the daring moment, and excuse all instances of shaky camerawork (in this video by John Connell)…



…and self–promotion by Mr. Ridley himself (most recent video first):










Let's hope Janice Buckner doesn't get this desperate.

May 3, 2008

Music Time: Amélie-les-crayons

Tonight, a little taste of the "nouvelle scene" coming out of France: The amusingly–named Amélie-les-crayons with "Les jours de neige en ville":



Her latest album, La porte plume, is available from CD Baby, as is Et pourquoi les crayons?.

Midnight Feature: M

The Internet Archive has really done it this time: They have made available for your unrestricted downloading (or streaming) and enjoyment one of the undisputed classics of German moviemaking.

Behold the Fritz Lang masterpiece M: Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder(1931), also known simply as M.

It is presented here with embedded English subtitles — a wise move.



Just calling it "a highly structured and stylized film about a serial killer" doesn't really do it proper justice, though.

May this one haunt you for days on end.

May 2, 2008

You sure this is what they mean by "democracy"?

With the Presidential election only a matter of months away, only can only imagine whose votes will acutally count — and whose won't.

I'm afraid this short item on the Internet Archive won't be of much help: It was made to… sell voting machines.



Oh, for more innocent days. That is, if they really were innocent days.

May this Farce be with you

First, they came for Sly Stallone. Today, they came for George Lucas:



Just watch it and try to keep your jaw from dropping.

But you better catch it quick, before Lucasfilm's lawyers get any quick ideas.

If you gotta blurt, you better blurt (NSFW)

Sooner or later, someone, somewhere, somehow would finally give profane, explicit voice to the current policies of our once proud nation (what we would have called a "beacon on the hill"). No apologies, no pretense of politeness. Just straight out and out "we'll do what we want, when we want to, how we want to, and we don't care" talk. In as explicit a tone as one could make it.

It has come to pass.

Go to the Brave New Films site and access this piece by John S. Hall.

Just don't do it at work unless you know you can get away with it.

And don't say we didn't warn you.

May 1, 2008

Intermission: "What the hell are you eating?"

Blame this post on 1) a fascination with Japanese TV advertising and 2) a real problem with the Fox–made TV series 24 ("twenty–four"). In any event, here's the star of that show — Kiefer Sutherland, to be exact — in a short advert for "CalorieMate."



24 © & ™ Twentieth–Century Fox Film Corporation.

Your move.

Start saving your lunch money

Getting your book to stand out in a pile of new titles isn't as simple as it might seem anymore. Sure, your publisher can make review copies available to all the usual suspects, and you can do book tours custom–tailored to your liking.

But is that sufficient anymore?

Last year, Penguin decided not, and when Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine emerged, there was an Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men)–produced short film (directed by Jonás Cuarón) to go with it.

And here it is, if you've yet to see it. A very effective short, in my humble opinion. And yes, I do want to buy and read the book.



(There are higher quality versions — in QuickTime, Windows Media, and even open–source Ogg Theora [!!!] — available for free download on this page.)

On May 6th, Rolling Stone Magazine writer Matt Taibbi's new book The Great Derangement (subtitled A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire) will be available in stores and from Amazon.com (among other outlets). And just in time for that day, we have this little collage animation made for its publishers (Spiegel & Grau) by Eric Merola.



©2008 Mark Taibbi/Spiegel & Grau/Eric Merola.

(Or you can watch a high–quality QuickTime version on Mr. Merola's own website.)

I just hope Mr. Taibbi's got appointments with both Pacifica (Democracy Now!) and NPR. He'll need them for sure.

Might as well face it, you're addicted to cars

Scary time to be driving that SUV, much less any other vehicle that uses gas, right?

You now know that corn–derived fuel equals hunger (and worse) for everybody else in the world, no matter what our commander–in–thief would have you believe. And that price at the pump isn't coming down any time soon, tax holiday or no.

And now that you know it, whatcha gonna do about it, eh?

You could try one proposal offered in two separate pieces on the Internet Archive.

First comes a subMedia short featuring Robert del Bueno (who plays bass in the band Man or Astroman?), who guides you From the Fry Daddy to Your Car:



Then hop in with the Kabaret Sixquarantien for their 2005 joyride entitled Lipopropulsion (no subtitles on this one, but you should be able to get the "drift" pretty darn quickly):



One more thing before you crank up that Gary Neuman track: Make sure you hang those speakers back up onto their posts and fasten your seat belts.

PSA: Queen Mum finds Facebook a few security pages short

Facebook users, be advised: Spencer Kelly of the BBC found out, through some simple hacking, that what looks like a harmless "application" on the popular social networking site could in fact be mining your personal data — or that of your friends — for ill gain.

The Beeb's streaming video services won't let us embed (play nice, chaps), but you should still watch it anyway.

Besides, your Projectionist is among those good people using Facebook. Along with some of his personal friends.

I have my qualms with the BBC — especially when its "captive audience" has to pay an annual TV license tax for content they may not necessarily like. But give the network props: They have a solid news service.

(Speaking of which: PBS viewers used to the half–hour relay of BBC World headline news, be advised: It will be replaced in October by a new Stateside–based program made by Educational Broadcasting Corporation [PBS affiliates WNET/Thirteen and WLIW/21]. The Beeb apparently wants more eyes glued to BBC America, which is handled via the people who bring you the Discovery Channel. Good luck with that, especially if your cable or satellite service isn't ready to offer it just yet.)

[UPDATE 2008.05.12: I was unaware that the BBC is merely changing partners for its evening news relay via PBS stations, from WLIW in New York to KCET in Los Angeles. Here are the proper details, via the Beeb's news blog, The Editors. My apologies to our readers for not having all the details at the time.

That said, it's fairly likely that New York's PBS viewers will be getting the new WLIW–made news show as originally noted, and will have to look elsewhere for the BBC's news programming.]