July 30, 2008

So, where do we go from here?

The people at GOOD Magazine have done it again, nailing our planet's paralyzing oil addiction in little more than four minutes.

See the results:

©2008 GOOD Magazine.

I hope whoever said that "the American way of life is non–negotiable" is, like some of us, having second thoughts.

July 29, 2008

Coming Attractions: Senkyo (Campaign)

PBS viewers (and especially POV devotées), heads up: Tonight's your chance to see a one–hour cut of Senkyo (Japanese for "campaign"), Kauzhiro Soda's well–received documentary about LDP (Liberal Democratic Party) member Kazuhiko Yamauchi and his efforts to become part of the city council in Kawasaki.

You think running for office in the States is hard? Try following Yamauchi–sama around if you want to understand "hard."

Here's the trailer with PBS POV wrapping:

And here's Cynthia Fuchs' review for PopMatters.

I won't be able to watch the PBS cut, but here's hoping the "director's cut" eventually makes a subtitled DVD. Without any PBS wrapping, preferably. (Got that, New Video/Docurama?)

It's a congregation, not a target

Your Projectionist, a Unitarian Universalist himself, is sickened by recent events, as noted in this excerpt from NBC News' Today program:

©2008 NBC–Universal.

And here is the Associated Press report on the MSNBC site.

Please be sure to read Sara Robinson's piece on the stuff Unitarian Universalists are made of — and how much s**t we've been through over the years, decades, and, yea, even centuries.

Just so it's clear to you… take a look at who we UUs are and what we hold dear:

© Unitarian Universalist Association.

Then pray for this kind of domestic terrorism to come to an irreversible end.

UPDATE 2008.07.29: Pam's House Blend has gathered more details on what police officials found inside gunman James Adkisson's home, complete with a rapidly—made video I can't embed here but which you might want to watch all the same. And Pandagon has tracked down responses to the news from both readers of the conservative web portal Free Republic (here is the actual page thus far) and one conservative talk radio show host/blogger.

Very sad indeed. And very ugly.

So ugly, that yesterday, your Projectionist sent an e–request to Donna Vaughan of ClearChannel's WALK–FM, arguably Long Island's most powerful (and popular) pop music station, asking that she consider devoting a future Island Assignment broadcast/podcast to how our Unitarian Universalist congregations can continue to be Welcoming Congregations in the wake of what happened to our sister church in Knoxville. What happened there could happen here as well. If she responds, it will be shared here with you.

July 28, 2008

Sin fideos, sin estreallitas, sin arroz

Back in the 1970's, when I discovered Spanish–speaking television (WXTV/41, now a chief Univisión affiliate), the weirdest commercial I recall encountering was one for Campbell's chicken soups (with noodles, with little "star" noodles, and with rice). It featured a cartoon band simply called "The Chickens" rocking the soup company's "Mmm, Mmm, Good!"® jingle — only this time with a laughable Spanish–shoehorned text.

Anyone got it up on YouTube, if for no other reason then as evidence the baka ad existed?

Whilst you wait with baited breath for the unearthing of that one, have a glance at this ad from Estonian TV (with H/T to our friends at BoingBoing):

I'd love to see EarthStation1 compile a couple of discs with these rarities. Do let us know when you get to the 1970's Spanish items, OK?

Here's to the winners

Returning to the West with this post, some congrats are in order:

Warner Bros. and director Christopher Nolan (Memento) are basking in the profits being made by their new Batman® flick The Dark Knight: Over USD 300 million thus far in the past ten days. (Or to be more precise, as per Warners' distribution chief Dan Fellman, USD 314,245,000.00. That includes this past weekend's USD 75.6 million take.)

Normally, I wouldn't deal with superhero movies of this sort on a blog, but even I have to do a double–take with numbers like these.

Bill Gibron of PopMatters has more on this piece of box office news.

And may I suggest Michael Dudley's CityStates essay is one of the many reasons why the bat–take is so big this time around? Have a read.

Meanwhile, the Stony Brook Film Festival, held at the State University of New York at Stony Brook's Staller Center (my old ala mater is ended for another year. And we send congrats to Mary Stuart Masterson, whose directorial debut, The Cake Eaters got the Jury Award for Best Feature. (You'll be able to see it in the States when it streets in February.)

Other winners were the feature Children of Glory (best audience choice); the shorts In the Name of the Son (Jury Award for best short) and The Drummer (an audience favorite prize for director Bill Block); and Kari Skogland's The Stone Angel (Special Achievement).

And welcome to a new week, everyone.

July 27, 2008

House Lights: Anyone for an occasional review?

A thought just occurred to me: How many of you would be interested in my reviewing DVDs of offbeat and fascinating (or even just curious) movies and videos from time to time?

Just post a comment and let me know.

July 26, 2008

Coming Attractions: Taare Zameen Par

Many thanks to BollywoodWorld for providing a preview of Aamir Khan's directorial debut, Taare Zameen Par, now secured for North American home video distribution via Disney/Buena Vista, as recently posted here. (T–Series has already released their DVD — with substantial extras — in India.)

It's not the official trailer, and there are no subtitles, but you might be able to get an idea of what to expect:

© 2007 Aamir Khan Productions & PVR Pictures.

You will, however, have to wait a while for the disc to appear, as BollywoodWorld has just reported… and as Mr. Khan himself has noted on his blog.

Now for the bad news… and I know I am going to be slaughtered for this one. Disney has a lead time of at least 3 months. They want to do a mainstream release in these 5 markets. So while the DVD has released in India and outside India as well, in these 5 countries it will be a few more months before it comes out.

No, Mr. Khan, perish the thought of any of us coming close to slaughtering you. Disney is as Disney wants to do. Just do whatever you have to do to bring your gift to the awaiting audiences in the States, Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. The onus will be on Disney to deliver as promised.

Believe us, sir. The pressure is on Disney, not on you. Just do what you do best.

Just so this is understood: This feature is from the actor/producer who gave the world Lagaan, and as previously noted, it's gotten great press. Keep your eyes on this one, and let's hope, for once, that the Disney people treat this film — and its potential (and eager) audiences — with proper taste and respect.

Bollywood devotées are proud of the scene and what it stands for. If you treat them with respect, they will treat you with respect.

Let's hope the residents of 500 South Buena Vista in Burbank, California, take full advantage of this fact.

July 25, 2008

Postcard from Bollywood

That's right, dear viewers — a post on some big news from India's movie scene:

BollywoodWorld and INDOLink's Planet Bollywood have both reported that the Walt Disney Company has secured the North American rights to Bollywood star/director Aamir Khan's family–centric feature Taare Zaneen Par — the story about a dyslexic boy and the teacher who reaches out to him in a very big way.

Here are the links to a glowing review from The Times of India, and a short piece about what may have sold Disney on the flick, courtesy of Screen.

BollywoodWorld reports that Disney's DVD (Region 1 NTSC) of Taare Zaneen Par will be subtitled, but your Projectionist won't be surprised if it also gets an English dub — and gets retitled for Western markets. (In India, the movie will be published on disc by T–Series.)

One small problem with the BollywoodWorld piece: This won't exactly be the first time that a Hollywood–based entity brought a Indian movie to the attention of North Americans. For example Sony Pictures brought another Aamir Khan production, Lagaan to our shores — first to DVD and then later in a theatrical run. (Sadly, Sony seems to have discontinued their Region 1 DVD of the film. Check Amazon.com to see if you can snag one of the remaining copies.)

Plus, Sony recently released a Region 1 DVD of another Bollywood feature, Saawariya. And nearly every big box retailer, from Barnes & Noble to Wal–Mart, seems to have it in stock.

(Yes, I know, Sony is Japanese first. But they also own Columbia Pictures, Tri–Star Pictures, and Screen Gems, which means they have some Hollywood roots as far as I can see.)

For those not into family fare but who want to sample Bollywood without breaking the bank, Eros International's U.S. webshop has mounted a "I Luv My India Independence Day Sale," with all–region DVDs priced to move out (many of them as low as US $1!). It's a limited time offer, and worth checking out. Eros (that's "eh-ROS," folks) accepts cheques and money orders sent by mail as well as credit cards online.

By the way, here's how big Eros really is

[UPDATE 2008.07.27: Disney also secured distribution rights on Taare Zameen Par for the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.]

July 23, 2008

That "W" stands for "whoops"

Proof positive that the YouTube age touches everyone… including the President of the United States:

There's no question about it, Wall Street got drunk, that's one of the reasons I asked you to turn off the TV cameras. It got drunk and now it's got a hangover. The question is how long will it sober up and not try to do all these fancy financial instruments.

Smile, Mr. President. You're on the 21st Century's response to Candid Camera:

And Goddess bless whoever let this dog out.

H/T to AlterNet and Brave New Films.

Good luck, you elephants.

July 19, 2008

You can claim executive privilege, Mr. Rove, but you can't hide

Think the Tom DeLay story was bad enough, kids?

Wait till you get the digest version of what Karl Rove did to a very popular Democratic governor in the state of Alabama…

©2008 Brave New Films.

There's a petition that you might want to add your name to if you're ready to see justice.

And there's more on the matter over at Crooks and Liars.

Feature Presentation: The Big Buy

And now for the big show, at last:

There is a smashing new streaming video site called SnagFilms, and it's on a mission to make the world safer for documentary and non–fiction film and video. Judging from their beta launch, they've got an impressive spread that's worth checking out.

Best of all… bloggers and webmasters can spread the love by embedding video widgets of these features into their own blogs and sites. We're talking super cool here.

So, with your kind permission — and if you can excuse the advertising which loads first — our Projectionist is proud to offer for your viewing pleasure one of his favorites: Mark Birnbaum and Jim Schermbeck's The Big Buy: Tom DeLay's Stolen Congress (2006):

©2006 Mark Birnbaum and Jim Schermbeck—Birnbaum/Schermbeck Films.

Any viewer living outside the States who wants an explanation of why the United States government (especially the Congress) is in such a sorry state of affairs — and why so many people hold deep contempt for the current wave of Republicans in particular — would do well to set aside an hour and a half and see how one of those Republicans used his power and influence to change the makeup of the Congress so much that it would be easy to inflict lasting damage.

Which is why it's a pity that 1) what DeLay did was illegal under the laws of his home state of Texas, and 2) there would soon be one district attorney on the case. Someone who actually does his homework and expects nothing less from his own staff. Someone with an actual backbone.

That someone: Ronnie Earle.

Watch what happens next.

Wanna DVD? Brave New Films stands ready to sell you a great anamorphic widescreen disc (all region, to boot).

Featurette: Sweet Wishes

And welcome to the weekend, everyone!

Many thanks to BoingBoing for the heads up on Mark Ryden and Marion Peck's surrealistic short Sweet Wishes:

©2008 Mark Ryden & Marion Peck.

You won't need the insulin for this one. But you should be careful of what you wish for.

Especially if you start wishing for a picture book of this short…

July 18, 2008

The Energizer Bunny has company

TGIF to the world… and now for this short item from the Onion News Network:

©2008 Onion News Network.

Makes you wonder what they feed this little guy. ;-)

July 15, 2008

PSA: And would you call this just?

For a moment, set your mind to blank. Now press to play the video below. Watch what happens next.

©2007 Breakthrough.

This is but one of a handful of PSAs collectively called "Is This Justice?", launched by the very active people at Breakthrough. Their aim is simple and all too true:

"Is This Justice?" challenges the way in which women in our society are treated, especially women living with HIV/AIDS. These women are either shunned by the family and community or are forced to live on the edge of society after their husbands die of AIDS.

Yes, the campaign, launched last year, targeted audiences in India (using all available media outlets there). But your Projectionist dares you to ask if what happens in ads like this one isn't just an "India" thing.

And, yes, this is the same Breakthrough that recently produced a video game called ICED (I Can End Deportation). Get the game. Get involved. Breakthrough is thinking, dreaming, and acting big. And with good reason.

Plan to shoot in the Big Apple? Read this.

Finally, the New York City Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting has clarified the rules for film and video production that requires shooting on location — especially when shooting on the big city's streets.

From the Associated Press, via Google:

The rules, which were to appear Monday in the City Record, now state clearly that productions must have permits and at least [USA] $1 million in insurance if they plan to take over a lane of traffic or leave less than eight feet of open space on a sidewalk.

Permits and insurance also are required for shoots that involve vehicles or use equipment other than hand–held devices or cameras on tripods — items like props, sets, lights, dolly tracks, screens and microphone devices.

Go ahead now and read about the rule changes, which includes one major clarification for the guerilla moviemaker or casual photographer:

A permit is not required for filming that uses hand–held cameras or tripods and does not assert exclusive use of City property. Standing on a street, walkway of a bridge, sidewalk, or other pedestrian passageway while using a hand–held device and not otherwise asserting exclusive use of City property is not an activity that requires a permit.

In addition, activity that involves the filming of a parade, rally, protest or demonstration does not require a permit except when equipment or vehicles are used. The rules also provide that press photographers, who are credentialed by the New York Police Department (NYPD) do not need to obtain a MOFTB permit.

You may remember that New York Police Department officials committed a faux pas in 2005 when they picked up award–winning documentary producer Rakesh Sharma only because he was operating a hand–held camera on a Manhattan sidewalk. The incident lead to a lawsuit which ended when Mayor Michael Bloomberg agreed, as part of the settlement, to get the filming rules a rewrite.

The last rewrite prompted outrage among so many people, your Projectionist included, because if you and a few of your friends were taking pictures or filming (or, these days, shooting digital video) for more than a half–hour on NYC property, you'd need to spring for the permit and the insurance. Even if all you wanted were some snaps of the Times Square nightscene — or, like your Projectionist, some video footage of, say, Diane Wolkstein doing a Hans Christian Andersen story justice in Central Park.

Thankfully, the outcry prompted the City to try again. The New York Civil Liberties Union like what they see, but have also asked that City authorities get a proper and thorough schooling on how to apply the new rules.

For now, your Projectionist is satisfied with the talk. Now let's see how it walks.

July 13, 2008

Not lean, but mean and full of steam

We've discovered that Euronews, a 24/7 international news TV service with a clearly European focus — also does its share of YouTubing, particularly with its "No Comment" segments.

Thus we can share with you a minute's worth, sans dire, of footage taken at the third day of the bull–running festival in the streets of Pamplona, Spain:

©2008 Euronews.

Make sure your travel health insurance is paid up and current if you go. One Yank ended up in a hospital after one of the toros got him in the abdomen. Oy. Vey.

July 11, 2008

Music Time: Max and the Marginalized

In honor of a Congress that still can't develop anything resembling a backbone (like, what else is new?), we offer you "Free Nights and Weekends (The FISA Song)" by our good friends Max and the Marginalized:

©2008 Max and the Marginalized.

We know you can hear us, Congress. You can hear us all too well. See you at the voting booths this November.

P.S.: Max and his band will be on tour throughout the States. I won't be able to make the two New York dates, but please go see them if you can. And a few dollars sent their way will help their cause as much as it will yours.

Music Time: The Rock–afire Explosion

Thank you for your patience, everyone. In time for the weekend, we give you a Rock–afire Explosion double–shot.

Up first: the R–B hit "Love in This Club" (yes, Usher's hit single):

followed by the MGMT hit "Electric Feel":

Both videos courtesy of Aaron Fechter/Creative Engineering, Inc.

Eat your hearts out, Country Bears.

And for the rest of the world: TGIF, y'all.

July 10, 2008

Coming Attractions: Full Battle Rattle

Yes, we did promise you some Rock–afire Explosion goodness, and we intend to keep our word. We just didn't expect to be blown away by this preview for the recently–released Full Battle Rattle:

2008 Mile End Films.

But careful now: Are you sure this is what you think this is?

July 8, 2008

Not so fast, Viacom

Last week, as recently posted here and elsewhere, Viacom won the right to look at the user logs for Google's YouTube service. Viacom has insisted all along that YouTube served as a virtual library for content illegally lifted from numerous big name rights owners, Viacom's operations included (Paramount, CBS, MTV Networks, Showtime Networks).

Sooner or later, YouTube's users were likely to respond: Viacom pushes us, we push back. See for yourself:

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

InformationWeek has more up online.

Let's just say this for now: One battle may be done, but the war's not over yet.

Coming Attractions: Rock–afire Explosion — The Movie

For those of you who are still haunted by the animatronic "cast" of many a Disneyland® attraction… boy, have Brett Whitcomb and Brad Thomason of Window Pictures got something in store for you:

Behold the recently–updated trailer for Rock–afire Explosion: The Movie!

©2008 Window Pictures.

There's more on the "band" over at Wikipedia.

And if you behave yourself, maybe we'll have some more animatronic goodness later on.

July 7, 2008

House Lights: Whatever Viacom wants, Viacom gets

By now, some of you may have learned that Viacom won a huge fight last week against Google, which owns both Blogger and YouTube.

At the heart of Viacom's complaints:, as per eFluxMedia, et.al.:

According to the court order, Viacom gets the right to access usernames, IP addresses and videos watched by YouTube users, in order to prove that videos that infringe copyrights are the most watched, and that YouTube is a website that deliberately supports copyright infringement.

There has also been some speculation that such data could be used to launch lawsuits against individual uses, as the Recording Industry Association of America has carried out in recent years.

Viacom has claimed it has records of more than 150,000 short video clips unlawfully extracted from its highly popular TV shows and posted on YouTube. Given the conglomerate's numerous holdings — Paramount, MTV Networks (Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, VH1 et.al.), Showtime Networks, and (despite a public "split" a while back) CBS — it's quite clear that they would view user video sharing as a threat to their way of doing business.

Viacom could, of course, make more of their video available for embedding into blogs (as they have done with Comedy Central's The Daily Show and The Colbert Report) if they want to.

But that wouldn't generate as much press coverage as a court case.

Speaking of which, it took two days for Newsday to pick up the story. But how many TV or radio newscasts ran a report on the Viacom vs. Google battle? Did yours? Or was it pre–empted by those celebrity marriage bust–ups?

July 1, 2008

House Lights: A future rude awakening?

Has anyone been paying attention to next week's G8 Summit to be held in Hokkaido, Japan?

(Apart from Thomson Reuters, that is.)

Paul Arenson of Tokyo Progressive has, and he is especially concerned about the Anti–Counterfeiting Trade Agreement — referenced at Wikipedia — which, if it gets tabled and approved during the Summit, could have serious consequences for anyone crossing national borders with even so less as an iPod® or the like.

Quoth Vito Pilieci at Canwest News Service (and posted at Canada.com):

The deal would create a international regulator that could turn border guards and other public security personnel into copyright police. The security officials would be charged with checking laptops, iPods and even cellular phones for content that 'infringes' on copyright laws, such as ripped CDs and movies.

The guards would also be responsible for determining what is infringing content and what is not.

The agreement proposes any content that may have been copied from a DVD or digital video recorder would be open for scrutiny by officials — even if the content was copied legally…

…Anyone found with infringing content in their possession would be open to a fine.

They may also have their device confiscated or destroyed, according to the four–page document.

The trade agreement includes 'civil enforcement' measures which give security personnel the 'authority to order ex parte searches' (without a lawyer present) 'and other preliminary measures.'

It is about what the Wikipedia authors rightly call creating "an international coalition against copyright infringement, imposing a strong, top–down enforcement regime of copyright laws in developed nations."

There's more on the matter — and who's responsible for it — over at WikiLeaks.

Meanwhile, Paul at Tokyo Progressive fears that activists who travel abroad could get slapped by ACTA, should their gear and files get seized and/or destroyed outright. And without so much as a warrant.

Are average people now to be considered a far greater threat to truth, justice, and the Hollywood/American way?


(P.S.: The BBC has a one–page premier on the G8 for the mildly curious.)

Don't talk with your mouth full, young man

The table manners lesson may proceed after you screen Aaron Valdez's short Prelinger–mashup, "What About That Bacon?"

How you decide to handle the questions about factory farms is up to you.