November 26, 2008

Preview: On Media Reality (O Mediální Realitě)

It has been many years since one Orson Welles used his CBS Radio program, The Mercury Theatre of the Air, to stage a modern adaptation of the H.G. Wells sci–fi classic The War of the Worlds. Only Mr. Welles pushed the envelope a bit by transplanting the plot to present–day Grover Mill, New Jersey, and staging the first act as an imaginary radio broadcast.

The end result was panic — especially among those listeners who didn't bother to be tuned in to their local CBS stations early enough to catch the very beginning of the broadcast, and believed the Martian invasion was indeed the real thing. (An "out–of–character" postscript by Mr. Welles, however reassuring, apparently didn't quite convince everyone.)

You can hear the master charlatan recalling his radio vision in the second half of his 1975 non–fiction feature about art fraud, F for Fake, lovingly preserved on a Region 1 DVD set from The Criterion Collection. (At least read Jonathan Rosenbaum's wonderful essay on the film. Go ahead and then come straight back.)

Decades after the radio "invasion", charlatans of a different sort — the Czech media jamming group Ztohoven — staged a different sort of invasion… by hacking into České Televize network ČT2's Panorama.

Take a close look at this preview of the forty-five minute feature On Media Reality (O Mediální Realitě) to see what they did. Pay close attention to when the video goes split–screen, and then especially to what happens with the picture on the right:

©2008 Ztohoven / FAMU Prague / Signalair.

Still doing a double–take, even after you come to realize that digital SFX hacking went portable that June 2007 day in the Krkonoše Mountains?

November 23, 2008

Now we really get "trite made flesh"

Ohhh, Patricia Rozema. You have got to be kidding. You, one Michael Sucsy, and the movie–making arm of Home Box Office.

Via free–form radio wonder WFMU:

They… have just wrapped up production on the remake (due in April 2009) of Grey Gardens. Grey. Gardens. The documentary. About Edith and "Little Edie" Bouvier Beale living in a filthy, unkempt mansion in the Hamptons? They remade a f***ing documentary.

And this is the thanks we get for buying tickets to see the marvelous I've Heard the Mermaids Singing back in 1987? A remake of a non–fiction film (available on Region 1 DVD from The Criterion Collection)?!

Memo to Mme. Polly Vandersma: Hope you've got alternative plans for the spring.

November 21, 2008

Only in California…

… do you get Riverside Philharmonic musicians on Freeway 91 trying to make their performance, and racing alongside a wildfire. Synched up in post–production to some bars of — you just have to believe this — Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony no. 10 in E–minor, opus 93 (second movement, for those of you taking notes).

From musician/videographer Amy Sanchez's description on YouTube:

As we drove through, the strong wind was pushing the flames into our lanes, and you can actually see embers sparking up the windshield of the car. I believe this fire became the Anaheim Hills Apartment fire which you can see at the end of the video. And yes, one of the passengers was on his cell phone the whole time…

And for those wondering where (and why) Mr. Shostakovich comes into all of this:

I chose this music for several reasons, but mostly because we were actually on our way to perform this piece at the Riverside Philharmonic concert that evening. We found it interesting that the music we were about to perform matched the intensity of the fires we witnessed.

On top of that, she quoted musicologist Robert Dearing, who called the second movement of Symphony No. 10 as "a study in concentrated fury rarely equaled in music."

I believe it. So will you after you've seen it:

I wish I knew which recording she used; I'd buy it.

And here is KCAL–TV/9's report on the finished video itself:

Ah, YouTube.

November 13, 2008

Let's hear it for the pajamas

Oh, poor Sarah Palin (what, her again?!).

Seems that just recently she complained on the Fox News Channel about bloggers in their pajamas, typing away in their parents' basements.

That follows recently a recent gripe from MSNBC's Joe Scarborough (on his Morning Joe program), defending Senator John McCain against liberally–centric bloggers "eating their Cheetos™" while correcting McCain on the facts about a Sunni uprising in Iraq's Anbar province (see the full story over at Think Progress).

Well, guys, consider MSNBC presenter Rachel Maddow's response your wake–up call:

©2008 NBC–Universal.

Now that's how to spell "relief."

November 12, 2008

Esperantoland: Vocabulary day

Time for another journey into Esperantoland, and this time, it's all about words.

These three flashcard–style videos are by Andreo S. Jankovskij at You can either watch them YouTube style by going to the Kinejo, or download them here as AVIs.

The first two are just general gatherings of words (spot the one duplicated word in both). Also note that in some of the words, certain letters are colored. They indicate affixes worth noting. (One of the genius strokes of Esperanto is that you can build your vocabulary with a good supply of root words, or radikoj, and an understanding of affixes and how they work.)

This third video is all–food. Watch this one to the very end:

All three videos ©2007 Andrej S. Jankovskij.

(No, I don't know if he's been to the States, let alone during college football season.)

November 5, 2008

A real-life Mission: Impossible? Well...

Good Morning, President–Elect Obama:

Here, courtesy of GOOD Magazine is your mission, which you have chosen to accept:

©2008 GOOD Worldwide, Inc.

This message will not self–destruct. But you will have exactly four years to seriously deal with everything in this post.

Good luck to you and your cabinet, Mr. Obama. You — and we — will certainly need it.

November 4, 2008

Your marching orders for today (updated)

…courtesy of Japanese–born musician/actress Mari Iijima — who isn't yet a citizen of our United States:

©2008 Mari Iijima.

And before you step out the door, check this:

If you've got the right, then exercise it today. VOTE.

[UPDATE 23h08: National Public Radio's homepage is writing the final chapter on Election 2008. Get ready to be in touch with the White House — voting your candidate is only half the battle. For now, way to go.

And for Mari Iijima: Here's to making your wish come true. Consider it done.]

November 3, 2008

Election Special: Jesus Politics

Tomorrow's the big day in the States. Election Day. Two big name candidates, one of whom will occupy the White House as of this January.

Today, both Democratic hopeful Barack Obama and his Republican rival John McCain are hitting as many states as they can, trying to sway the undecided. (I feel bad for Cynthia McKinney, who is running on the Green ticket, and who deserves far better than the hand dealt her.)

Meanwhile, TV viewers in Britain got a chance to watch Ilan Ziv's Jesus Politics: The Bible & the Ballot, itself created from road trip footage meeting with devout activists and archival footage featuring the likes of Randall Balmer and the Moral Majority's Paul Weyrich.

Have a look a the trailer:

©2008 Tamouz Media.

There's also a honest assessment of the film over at Talk to Action.

In Memoriam: John Daly

Sad news for for those movie fans whose faves may include titles as different as The Terminator, Oliver Stone's Platoon, or Bernardo Bertolucci's The Last Emperor (recently resurrected in a sumptuous Criterion package):

John Daly, who helped back those movies and more — and who co-founded Hemdale with actor David Hemminngs — has died at the age of 71.

Both the BBC and Newsday have a little more about the producer's quite passing.

Thank you, sir, for all you have done.

November 2, 2008

Inevitable, ne c'est pas?

It isn't courtesy of a troop of taunting Frenchmen, but given the topic, we'll take it.

It's actually courtesy of Marc–Antoine Audette and Sebastien Trudel, better known to French–speaking Québec as "Les Justiciers Masqués" (the masked avengers), a shock jock comedy duo. They are to French Canadian radio (Montréal–based CKOI–FM, 96.9 MHz stereo, to be exact) what Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand were (until quite recently) to the BBC.

Only the Justiciers' target this time wasn't an actor or even a pop idol (although, as a pair of stories from CTV and The Canadian Press indicate, they've been there and done that).

Non, mes amis — actually, their latest target was…

©2008 Les Justiciers Masqués / PointPub Média Communications.

For once, a pair of shock jocks performed a useful service.

UPDATE 2008.11.07: BuzzFlash has a breakdown of the very clues that could have tipped the big spender from Alaska that the chap on the other end of the line wasn't French President Nicholas Sarkozy. And The Canadian Press has a transcript of the call.

My father viewed the incident as "stupid," arguing that les Justiciers had no business sticking their noses into the politics of another country.

Needless to say, I don't concur.

First, it wasn't so much M. Audette who was stupid to put the call through, but rather Mme. Palin, who fell for it hook, line, and YouTube. By allowing herself to get pawned by M. Audette — has she ever heard M. Sarkozy's voice, let alone listen to or watch news coverage out of Europe or Canada? — she demostrated how shallow her world view really is. Had she been elected, the rest of the world would properly view her as the fraud she turned out to be, more in awe of her image than in what her "job" as (vice–)president would actually entail.

Apparently, Monsieurs Audette and Trudel sensed it, and figured they could nail her big time. And, lo and behold, they did just that. Make the results viral, and…

Talk about backing the right horse.

Second, as I discovered merely by listening often to the BBC World Service — as well as embedding a few Al Jazeera news items on this very blog — people all over the world have indeed been following the news dispatches that come from the States. They know damn well about our sometimes warped politics and our recent Election. Some actually feel the might of our presence (through industry, or sometimes military might), often through no fault of their own. People look at us, and ask what our odd little nation will do next. They want their voices to be heard, and not just through the polite channel known as the BBC's World Have Your Say. Moreover, they want us to grow up, and be part of the world for a change.

No doubt, making sure Sarah Palin never assumes a role of power as she almost did would be a great place to start.

November 1, 2008

Music Time: Alexei Jendayi and friends

Racism and the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election are very much on the mind of Alexei Jendayi (also known as Poor Russian Boy) — here joined with his musical partner Kom Plex as Fly Gypsy, with guests Nigerian tunesmith Kuku and Baba Ras–D on "The Ruler":

©2008 Alexei Jendayi

It's from Mr. Jendayi's e–release, November 4 EP, yours to buy now on his website via PayPal.

Go get it.

You think self-defense with fresh fruit is easy?

O.K., try defending yourself after you've been hit with a short bit of John Cleese–penned verse. Declaimed by Keith Olbermann on MSNBC's Countdown, no less.

Especially if you're one talk radio jock who actually deserves it:

Verse ©2008 John Cleese. Video ©2008 NBC–Universal.

Just don't make us release the taunting French troops.

Another narrative sorely needed

Earth to the United States… let's work together once again.

It's the simple message of the latest advert from Avaaz. Take a look:


Spread it, people. Spread it.