September 29, 2010

You wish

I Can Has Cheezeburger has a nifty way to get rid of George Lucas' long–in–the–tooth franchise:

funny pictures of cats with captions
©2010 Pet Holdings, Inc.


Diversion: UTV logo makeover

Those of you who saw I Hate Luv Storys [sic], Peepli [Live], and We Are Family may have noted that UTV (one of India's biggest media player and certainly the nation's best filmi studio, hands down) recently gave their logo a complete makeover. It looks fine on a poster, but how good is it on the (big) screen?

Here's part of the old UTV ID, side by side with the new:

©2010 UTV Software Communications, Ltd.

I just hope that UTV's Ronnie Screwvala doesn't abandon the studio's penchant for edgy masala moviemaking; they're so damn good at it.

The reason for Just One Story…

I've made some significant changes to the Promenade Digital website, including a much–needed revision of the page about Just One Story… Part of the reason was to elaborate a little on an example of how storytelling met the VHS videotape. I'll expand on that elaboration here.

In 1987, when I was at the National Storytelling Festival, I suffered from a bombardment of marketing overload. Quite a few tellers were hawking VHS videotapes of their work (Ed Stivender's The Kingdom of Heaven is Like a Party ended up being my fave of the lot), but I also saw a monitor playing select volumes of a eight–tape series called American Storytelling.

You see, in 1986, the H.W. Wilson Company (still very much in business) partnered with a new venture called Storytel [sic] Enterprises™ (itself long out of business) to produce the American Storytelling collection.

Made solely for library and school use, it presented some of the best tellers in the United States — including my friend Diane Wolkstein, Heather Forest, Mr. Stivender, Jay O'Callahan, and the late Chuck Larkin and Brother Blue — each telling a different story… but recorded inside a television studio, under standard TV production conditions. (Mme. Wolkstein's segment used her beautiful picture book White Wave: A Chinese Tale.)

Today, I unearthed H.W. Wilson's brochure for the series, which made some rather lame claims for the series, among them being:

"The intimate nature of the video medium is especially well–suited to to reproducing the unique relationship between storyteller and audience, capturing all the flavor and vitality of a live storytelling session. In simple but evocative stage settings, each personal storyteller creates the immediacy of a live performance."

Well, to quote one of the characters in the recent masala comedy Khatta Meetha:

"I'm allergic to bullshit."

As I asked in my revised Just One Story… page, how can intimacy and immediacy be possible when your subject is recorded under studio conditions with the only other human presence being not an audience of ordinary people, but a phalanx of technicians?

One more quote from the brochure, and then I put it away:

"In a recent article in the Wilson Library Bulletin, Augusta Baker, Storyteller–in–Residence at the University of South Carolina's School of Librarianship, noted that 'The purpose of storytelling is to motivate children to read.' Librarians, teachers, and parents can use this series to encourage children's appreciation of literature."

Funny, but to me that doesn't sound like the sole (or even the most important) purpose of storytelling. And the line that "librarians, teachers, and parents can use this series to encourage children's appreciation of literature"… why does this sound like a taste of what would later come with the "edu–tainment" swindle personified by the Disney–owned Baby Einstein® franchise?

Just as toddlers can't (and, according to some very high–profile studies, don't) learn anything from the deluge of toddler–targeted videograms, what made H.W. Wilson and Storytel believe that children would truly be motivated to seek out world folklore because of a rather antiseptically–made series of videos, however well–intended? (Beyond US dollar signs, that is?)

Let's face the facts, my dears: while the series may have helped the careers of the chosen tellers, American Storytelling was in fact an attempt to put a living art "under glass," not to be touched or interacted with, the publishers' claims notwithstanding. You want true storytelling, you gotta go to the tellers themselves. Just One Story… makes no false promises of changing people's minds and tastes, and in any event, that's not why I make the show. I make it because 1) Diane Wolkstein is both a living legend and a dear friend whose art deserves to be documented, and 2) there are others in the same boat with her, and attention needs to paid to them.

No bullshit from me. But then — all together now:

"I'm allergic to bullshit."

P.S.: Diane Wolkstein is one of the Featured Tellers at this year's National Storytelling Festival, with a packed schedule for all three days. If you're going, make sure you see her, and then introduce yourself afterwards. Please tell her that Philip David, your faithful Projectionist and her faithful Webmaster, sent you.

September 28, 2010

Keeping your balance

Ah, WordPress

Your Projectionist is re–casting his website using the popular CMS (content management software) after having trouble with getting Joomla to play nice with Vimeo Universal Player embeds. The template I'm using right now needs serious tweaking (I need to insert a Copyright declaration, and the brown trim needs to be changed to the colour I use in the Promenade logo), but at least we're on our way. If you've got an iPad® and couldn't access the Just One Story… episodes on our homepage, try it now.

Meanwhile, Nina Paley and her friends Mimi and Eunice strike again:

Courtesy Nina Paley.

Uh… "quite."

I think.

September 15, 2010

House Lights: Random frames in September

Just a few short items to share with you this time:

First, we did record a new Just One Story… episode to share with you in December: Diane Wolkstein telling the Hans Christian Andersen story "The Most Incredible Thing of All." This makes two HCA stories that we've captured thus far in 2010. So let's see… Buddhist stories, Hans Christian Andersen, and Haiti. Plus two original stories. We must be doing something right.

Second, because you might be asking, "So why wait until December?"… we are intentionally keeping to one episode per month because we can't record every week (personal circumstances prevent us from doing that) and we don't want to run out of material as it happened to us earlier this year. As of now, we should be able to offer you a story video each month through at least February of next year.

Third — and this one hurts — we may be forced to switch our website from Joomla to Wordpress in the coming days. The reason is that, as much as we like Joomla, we've been frustrated by the CMS's inability (in its most recent version) to support Vimeo's Universal Player embedding. (We switched to Vimeo itself because of the limits and frustrations we had with YouTube.) And, yes, we did try a plugin fix that hasn't worked for us.

The way we found out about this weakness in Joomla came when I visited an Apple Store and tried to access our website with an iPad®. The page loaded, but not the embedded videos. While you can visit the Just One Story… page and jump to our videos on Vimeo from there, I'd rather that iPads (and aPads) be able to load our videos, on our website, without issues.

We may make the switch as soon as we can find a Wordpress template comparable to the one we used with Joomla. I hope to do it late in any one evening so as to minimize disruptions on your end.

Finally, our last Central Park shoot for 2010 could be Saturday, September 25th. It is still up in the air, as we have another recording commitment later that day. After that, baring any invitations to come back to the big city for a special video day, we will likely be staying put on Long Island for the rest of Autumn and all of Winter. Unless Diane Wolkstein tempts us out for one more shoot. We love her that much.

Thank you, everyone, for standing by us.

September 6, 2010

Just One Story… Episode 6: Two Donkeys

It's the first week in the month, and you know what that means. Right, a new Just One Story… episode.

I'm still working my way through the 5 June 2010 video shoot with Diane Wolkstein and drummer Oneza LaFontant; this is the second of four stories recorded that day:

Story ©1978, 1997 Diane Wolkstein.
Video ©2010 Diane Wolkstein/Philip David Morgan —
Promenade Digital [Mediaworks].

Creative Commons License
This work is released under a Creative Commons Attribution–Noncommercial–No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

Enjoy, and stay tuned for Episode 7!

September 3, 2010

Music Time: Marina V

Lucky peeps in Washington (D.C.), Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland: Marina V is coming your way… and here's a taste of the sweet sounds you can expect to hear (from her latest album, My Star):

©2010 Marina Verenikina and Nick Baker.

Your Projectionist is catching her live in New York on September 13th. Will you (and where and when)?