June 26, 2008

Woe, Canada

If any Yanks reading this think that our nation's Digital Millenium Copyright Act is bad enough (and it is), wait until you read about C–61, the "Canadian" version of the DMCA.

I put that in quotes because while there are some in the Canadian government backing the bill, the real pressure, as Michael Geist points out throught his blog, is coming from south of their border.

How bad is C–61? Check out the laundry list of prohibitions for yourself.

Then have a look at this response to the bill, courtesy of Open Source Cinema:

And here is its corresponding Creative Commons license, for the record.

June 25, 2008

Music Time: Matt Kresling and… the Monster that Wouldn't Die!!!

Up front: Being in debt can be a real–life horror show. Just ask the people who were interviewed for the documentary Maxed Out (available on Region 1 DVD from Magnolia Pictures); they'll spell it out for you.

Or you could ask Matt Kresling, who lays bare his experience with student loan creditors — using samples of their letters and voice mail messages to him — in this little epic, "The Beast that Swallows its Young":

©2008 Matt Kresling.

All that, plus a nod to Terry Gilliam during his Monty Python days. No electric penguin, though.

Still, it's guaranteed to make an impression, if not with your creditors.

And everyone's got creditors. And everyone likes a good creature feature. Right?

One last time, and then it's goodbye

No, this isn't the end of the show… just the end of an era. An era in which film — as in celluloid (made from petroleum by–products, let us remember) — and home movie cameras ruled. An era that couldn't survive the rise of videotape and YouTube, but which nevertheless is being fondly remembered.

Here is creator Liz Coffey's eulogy, entitled Funeral for a Friend:

© Liz Coffey.

This is one of the many gems now available on the Internet Archive in conjunction with the Center for Home Movies (CHM).

We'll have another to share with you later.

So this is "news," eh?

Ho—hum. A "museum" devoted to journalism. A "museum" about the news. How utterly… numbing.

And, yet, here it is. In Washington, D.C., no less. And they call it Newseum.

©2008 American News Project.

Even the American News Project has a few questions for the new theme park museum's owners and… well, "supporters."

Better to come to Washington for the cherry blossoms next year, ne?

June 23, 2008

Intermission: CelebrateStory recovery

Your Projectionist is still recovering from the experience known as CelebrateStory 2008. It was a blast, even as the skies changed from rainy to sunny and even a combination of the two. And, as it has happened in the past whenever Diane Wolkstein does an outdoor event, the Goddess smiled on her and her guests.

And the Goddess must have smiled on me to. The videotaping of stories for my new video series and blog went off very well, and I think we got some excellent items to make our first episodes with. There are still a few items to put in place before the series can be launched, so I expect things to get started in the late Summer or early Fall.

Left to right: Len Cabral, Olivier Bernier, Melissa Heckler, Diane Wolkstein, Joan Henry, Bill Harley, and Elisabeth Ellis. Photo: Ari Ress and ©2008 CelebrateStory/Cloudstone Productions.

I will have more to say in the coming days, as I want to start getting the footage into iMovie and/or Kino. Please check back here for the updates when they do come (and they will).

And I will be recording Diane again in the Fall. Guaranteed.

[UPDATE 2008.6.24: I've run into a few camcorder issues with the import. And the start of one story may have been truncated by starting the camcorder too late. We'll recover all we can, rest assured.]

June 20, 2008

Intermission: CelebrateStory drawing nigh

Good Friends:

Your Projectionist is bringing up the houselights for a little while this weekend, due to preparations for CelebrateStory this Sunday, June 22nd in New York's Central Park (Hans Christian Andersen Statue, 72nd Street & Fifth Avenue entrance), from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Eastern).

Weather permitting.

Right now, most of the weather forecasts are saying we have a good 70 percent chance of getting rain, with the possibility of a thundershower or two. So please be sure to bring your umbrella if you plan to go.

In case you haven't seen the teaser with last year's highlights, please take a look at it now.

And plan to be there, light rain or shine.

The Goddess has been kind to Diane Wolkstein in the past. Here's a prayer that she will stay kind this weekend.

Happy Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, everyone.

June 19, 2008

Pretty simple math, isn't it?

And now, a word about global warming (sorry, folks, but it's very real). Or rather, a number:

350. Three hundred and fifty.

As in three hundred and fifty parts per million.

That is the target number for reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere. It's either that, or our belové blue home is toast.

Back in 1989, a man named Bill McKibben threw up the red flags on climate change via his book The End of Nature. The message was simple then, and it's painfully clear now: If you want life to keep on keeping on, you gotta make profound changes to the way you live.

Now he has enlisted a team of tech–savvy activists, including the Free Range Studios posse, to help get the number 350 out and visible on a global level.

Welcome, then, to the campaign known simply as — what else? — 350:

©2008 350.org.

Watch it for the same reasons you watch your blood glucose and cholesterol numbers: Life is too precious to throw away.

Especially when, as Barry Commoner once said (and Heather Forest would later echo in Earthsong), there is no such place as "away."

June 17, 2008

The big names you love to hate

The 2008 National Conference for Media Reform, supported by Free Press, may be over… but the work is just beginning for media and Net Neutrality activists.

And, if these shorts from the "Media Hall of Shame" gala held during the Conference are any indication, it helps if you know your targets.

We start with the Worst Corporation prize…

…followed by an award for the one who can kiss corporate tush the most…

…and lastly, a prize for the one who can merely be called "the Worst of the Worst":

All videos courtesy Free Press.

Just remember: The battle's not done and the war isn't won. Yet.

June 15, 2008

A blast with the past

First, our apologies to everyone for the pause in posting over the last two days: We've been making changes to our Ubuntu Linux box. (It's a change to Xubuntu, a Ubuntu distro that is far less taxing on our Hewlett–Packard PC's resources.)

And with that out of the way...

Our Projectionist has caught up with Lunatics and Liars, the home to Charlie Fink, Tony Grillo, and Chris Jeffries' Schoolhouse Rock–like "Oh, McCain":

©2008 Lunatics and Liars, L.L.C.

For those of you living outside the United States: Schoolhouse Rock — originally launched as Multiplication Rock — was a long–running three–minute animated series produced for a pre–Disney ABC; it offered tidbit–sized lessons in math, grammar, and even American history.

Apparently, the format still has its little uses.

June 11, 2008

Intermission: A quick quiz

YES! Just how old do you think GOP Presidential hopeful John McCain is?

Take your best guess, then watch what follows:

2008 John J. King, Andrew Roy, Zac McIntyre, Brendan Kara, et. al.

Of course, something this amazing has to have its very own blog!

Roll over, Billy Joel™. We finally have a "telephone book" song non–classically trained musicians can actually sing.

June 10, 2008

Only the beginning of an end?

There's an article in the New York Times about the risks involved in selling the upcoming family feature Kit Kittredge: An American Girl® — a movie deeply bonded to toy maker Mattel's American Girl® franchise. (Patricia Rozema, of I've Heard the Mermaids Singing fame and Mansfield Park notoriety, is the director here.)

Tucked inside the article was the word that the studio responsible for the movie — Picturehouse, one of two "boutique" imprints owned by Time Warner — will be shut down later this year.

On the one hand, it was a little surprising to me. After all, Picturehouse has had a lot in common with Fox Searchlight, Sony Pictures Classics, NBC–Universal's Focus Features, and Disney's Miramax Films. They're not mass–market brands, but niche ones. Special films are supposed to be their speciality, and loss leaders are an inevitable part of showbiz.

On the other hand, Picturehouse was staffed partially by people from two other Time Warner components, Home Box Office and New Line Cinema (the long–shuttered Fine Line Features arm). When Time Warner declared back in late February that New Line would be eliminated, I had a funny feeling Picturehouse would follow, despite the success of El labrinto del fauno (a/k/a Pan's Labyrinth).

When I learned that the New Line name would be used as a sort of "grindhouse" imprint in the context of Warner Bros., my thought was that Picturehouse would be folded into the other TW boutique operation, Warner Independent Pictures.

Not so: Warner Independent is being eliminated, too.

From Warners' President and Chief Operations Officer Alan Horn:

With New Line now a key part of Warner Bros., we're able to handle films across the entire spectrum of genres and budgets without overlapping production, marketing and distribution infrastructures...After much painstaking analysis, this was a difficult decision to make, but it reflects the reality of a changing marketplace and our need to prudently run our businesses with increased efficiencies. We're confident that the spirit of independent filmmaking and the opportunity to find and give a voice to new talent will continue to have a presence at Warner Bros.

How can anyone be sure about that?

All I am seeing at this point is more like the beginning stages of in–studio consolidation. Considering the unavoidable fact that celluloid and video discs are indeed made from petroleum by–products — and by the way, how much are you paying to get entertained at the pump? — I would expect more, not less, contraction to happen in Hollywood and elsewhere. It could well mean the end not only for Hollywood boutiques, but some genuine indie companies as well.

And it could force an across the bow question about what we all would prefer to have on the big and little screens.

Not even Mattel, with properties it seeks to exploit on a repeated basis, would be immune.

June 7, 2008

Music Time: Mari Iijima

We have been meaning to feature Mari Iijima — yes, the celebrated Japanese musician and (voice) actress — for sometime now. We're doing it today in advance of her Sunday, June 22nd show at The Hotel Café in Hollywood, California (7:00 p.m. Pacific time).

Our one problem was choosing just one YouTubed video to go along with this post. So we chose more than one this time around.

So for your pleasure, we begin with "Sunday Date (Nichiyoubi no date)":

…followed by "If You Really Want to Know":

…and, because it's part of her legacy, "Do You Remember Love?" from her Macross days:

We also enjoyed her homemade recording of "Unspoken Love," made at Christmas time last year:

For those of you living in or near the Los Angeles area — and if you're over 21 (The Hotel Café's policy), act now.

The rest of us, including this Long Island, New York Projectionist, can take comfort in enjoying her YouTube video library and the CDs she is selling online with PayPal (as well as on CD Baby). CD Japan and YesAsia are the best places to get her current Japanese catalogue.

June 6, 2008

Coming Attractions: "Cric!?"

Welcome to June. And if you live in or near New York City, it means welcome to the storytelling season.

That's because every Saturday morning from June through September, you can hear real storytelling (not reading, but actual storytelling) at the Statue of Hans Christian Andersen in Central Park (72nd Street & 5th Avenue entrance) in Manhattan. The fun starts at 11:00 a.m. and ends around 12:00 noon. It's free, and great for anyone five years old and up. (Parents: that means you, too.)

The full schedule is up on the Storytelling Center, Inc. of New York City website. Have a look at the dates, and check it out whenever you can this summer.

And whatever you do, please don't miss CelebrateStory 2008, set for Sunday, June 22nd, also at the Andersen Statue in Central Park. There'll be a few big names this year: Diane Wolkstein, Bill Harley (yes, the one who may have given you many a NPR "driveway moment" with his pieces on All Things Considered), Elizabeth Ellis, Joan Henry, Len Cabral, Olivier Bernier (Metropolitan Museum of Art), Melissa Heckler, and James Braley (of The Moth). It's that big. You can't afford to miss it.

Just think of all the fun we had last with Mme. Wolkstein, Raouf Mama, Gioia Timpanelli, Anita Ratnam, Therese Folkes–Plair, and so many others last year (or see for yourself in this short tease):

©2008 Cloudstone Productions.

Or better yet, get yourself and your family to the Statue this Sunday, June 22nd. We'll be there, too.

Oh, yes: "Cric?!" is shorthand in Haiti for when someone's got a story to tell. If you want to hear it, you shout back "CRAC!"

June 5, 2008

Intermission: Attention, Walgreens shoppers

Leave it to some of the sharper minds at Viacom's Comedy Central to operate on the more cancerous areas of our American way of life — like, say, the recent disheartening news from our Environmental Protection Agency (as per the Associated Press) that "there's a 'distinct possibility' the agency won't take action to rid drinking water of a toxic rocket fuel ingredient that has contaminated public water supplies around the country." (California, Arizona, and Nevada have it especially bad, but 40 other states in the nation are in the same poisonous boat. Go read the figures from the Environmental Working Group if you find that hard to believe. And pay close attention to how we got to this point.)

Which leads us to Stephen Colbert, and this "Cheating Death" segment of a recent Colbert Report episode, in which he brings some new and most unbelievable products to our eager attention:

©2008 Viacom International, Inc. Comedy Central is a trademark of Viacom International, Inc.

Don't look for any of these to be covered by your flexible spending account.

Now if we could get Showtime (another Viacom entity) to make some embeddable Penn & Teller sketches available…

June 3, 2008

Attention, please!

This is your faithful Projectionist speaking.

At this time, I wanted to acknowledge and thank those friends of mine who have supportive of our blog thus far — whether it's been by word–of–mouth publicity, or by advising us of something you made yourself. This is the most fun I have had in blogging thus far, and I'm looking forward to more good times and good shows in the weeks and moths to come.

You may have also just noticed that I've adopted a new look for the blog, much more in keeping with its theme. I'm sorry that it looks a little cluttered at the moment — I have to look in the "control room" (read: the blog template) and see what needs to be adjusted. Rest assured that I'll eventually get things to look "just right" and that everything else should still function properly in the meantime.

Thank you for understanding and for your attention. I hope you'll continue to enjoy the show.

June 2, 2008

Now look what you've done

There's no doubt that words have power, especially when they're amplified even by the lowly newspaper.

Case in point: Last week, Britain's Daily Mail ran a story about a thirteen–year–old girl who took her own life. It seems that a fortnight before she hung herself, Hannah Bond had discovered the "emo" ("emotional hardcore") rock of My Chemical Romance, an American band which has a strong following on both sides of the Atlantic, not to mention major label support (Warner Bros. Records).

Apparently, the Mail's Tom Rawstorne struck some raw nerves with his story. Just the title itself — "Why no child is safe from the sinister cult of emo" — would pretty much sum up his feelings — or those of his editors — on the subject.

At the heart of the disputed article is concern and worry shared by adults in general about whether or not young minds are able to deal with the dark imagery conveyed by bands such as MCR. (There is more on the topic over at National Public Radio's website.)

Of course, this is hardly something new. Parents and other adults have always had a misunderstanding about rock music (and other entertainments popular with the young). They've had a hangup with the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Chubby Checker, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan… it's nothing new. And if you access conservative cultural groups such as Focus on the Family, you will still find "experts" so determined to be the last word on the subject.

Here, it was the Daily Mail's "suicide cult" line that angered MCR fans in the UK so much that on Saturday May 31st, a good number of them marched from London's Hyde Park to the paper's own headquarters on Derry Street — some armed with placards and signs emblazoned with such words as "I'm not afraid to keep on living" and "We're not a cult, we're an army — the MCRMY."

They even have one media entity — NME (otherwise known as New Music Express) — in their corner.

And that's not all.

The British music community portal Audiojunkies arrived with a video crew to record the protest, and now we have a trailer for what is now being promised as Emo: The Movie:

2008 Audiojunkies.

For the record {ahem}, here is a link to the protest website.

And don't expect this one to go away anytime soon.