December 25, 2010

Just One Story… Episode 9:
The Most Incredible Thing of All

Many apologies for delaying this post, largely due to obsessions with trying to make this Christmas at least an acceptable time for my parents and me.

Suffice it to say all went well, and if it isn't too late to spread some holiday cheer, here at last is Just One Story… Episode 9 — and our first one to feature a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.

Without further adieu, here is Diane Wolkstein telling an audience favorite, "The Most Incredible Thing of All":

©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.

There are some great holiday bundles at Mme. Wolkstein's website, so do take a look at them now while you still can. You can at least ring in the new year with stories that will bring some much needed warmth during the rest of the Winter.

Merry Christmas, dear friends.

December 7, 2010

Greetings of the season

Because we want to wish you the best for Yule… here are members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Stony Brook's Unicorn Singers, performing the English version of the carol also known as "Er ist ein Ros' entsprungen," one of your Projectionist's favorites.

Please forgive the clumsy framing at the start, and just take in the singing:

2010 Philip David Morgan / Promenade Digital Mediaworks.

And Happy, Happy Birthday, Lisa Martin (who was one of the altos in the New Century Singers, so missed at this year's Charles Dickens Festival), with all the love in the world.

December 4, 2010

Manish Acharya has left the soundstage

Very sad news this morning, from Passion for Cinema:

Manish Acharya

Filmmaker Manish Acharya who shot into prominence with his very first film Loins of Punjab Presents (he even co–wrote and produced it) passed away a short while ago today (4th Dec, 2010).

Fans of Nina Paley's modern animation classic Sita Sings the Blues may recall that he provided the voice of one of the narrating shadow puppets who appeared from time to time in the movie, commenting on the Ramayana, the main source material from Ms. Paley's movie.

Please read the rest of the PFC post, get your copy of Loins of Punjab Presents (from IndiePix in the States, or Eagle Home Entertainment in India), and download or buy your copy of Sita Sings the Blues when you have a chance. Both come heartily recommended and both show so much promise of what could have been had he been allowed to make just one more.

Farewell, Mr. Acharya. I wish I had a chance to meet you. You did good.

December 3, 2010

House Lights: A shortened Promenade? [Update: NOT!]

Dear Friends:

It is almost one year since the Promenade began. The Promenade Digital [Mediaworks] website went up on 10 December 2009, and the first Just One Story… episode was posted nine days later. In that time, I have had the good fortune of being cross–posted on the Parabola website and Story Lab X.

Here it is again, because the story is so good and the message is still so true.

Indeed, who knows, what the future will bring?

©2009 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.

Right now, unfortunately, the future is very much on my mind.

You see, your Projectionist is amongst the underemployed (yes, that stress is intended), and like so many others in the States, he has had to prioritize his health and his one big financial obligation (a car lease) over the production of new Just One Story… episodes.

And on top of that, the annual bill for Promenade's web–hosting account (serviced by the fine people at Fat Cow) is due next Friday. (See the PayPal link in the right–hand menu? Please use it, and help me pay the bills, if you want the Promenade website to roll on in 2011.)

In the past year, I've taken note of a few facts:

1) every Just One Story… episode produced and released thus far has been recorded in New York City;

2) the lion's share of this year's episodes were recorded somewhere in Central Park (most of them at the Statue of Hans Christian Andersen); and

3) most of them feature my good friend Diane Wolkstein. (I do have two upcoming episodes with Jesslyn Wheeless, and there's also one episode with Dianne R. Carr, with whom I will be working again eventually.)

Which leads to…

4) Not one Long Islander has come forward to offer a story for the show. (Even though I've run into a few of them on Facebook.)

As a Long Islander who wants Promenade (and its Esperanto sister, Konstelacio) to be a source of pride for my neighbors and friends in the Long Island arts scene, it's pretty depressing.

I am formulating a plan to help one artist (a painter and poet) with no Internet access develop a strong online presence, and I will say more about it in the coming year. I also want to revive Konstelacio in the coming weeks, even though the revival may have to take a far different path than the one I had wanted.

To understand what I mean, have a look at what Julianne Escobedo Shepherd at AlterNet recently learned:

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security seized 82 [eighty–two] domain names for allegedly hawking counterfeit goods ranging from knockoff Coach handbags to bootleg DVDs....Most of the seized Web sites… sold reproductions of designer goods and hard copies of jacked movies. A few sites on the list, though, stuck out:, and are popular music blogs that were generally involved in the promotion of artists, rather than outright piracy. Well–known among rap fans for posting the latest videos, singles and remixes (always hosted from third-party download sites), their seizure was shocking, not just to the hip–hop blogosphere, but to music sites everywhere. Their inclusion on a list of sites that profit from manufacturing hard goods seemed arbitrary and ignorant. Furthermore, these sites were directly involved with artists, widely viewed as outlets that could help artists build buzz and promote their upcoming albums.

Is it the proverbial tip of the iceberg? These words from the Department of Homeland Security's ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) squad certainly suggest it:

The coordinated federal law enforcement operation targeted online retailers of a diverse array of counterfeit goods, including sports equipment, shoes, handbags, athletic apparel and sunglasses as well as illegal copies of copyrighted DVD boxed sets, music and software.

Except that music blogs — not just those covering hip–hop and other pop sounds but also eclectic and outsider scenes — don't sell "a diverse array of counterfeit goods." That's not their purpose in the first place.

It doesn't seem to matter to the ICE squad, who took pre–emptive action while Congress is playing hot potato with the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) — something that is likely to gain traction and perhaps even become law with the next U.S. Congress. (Although I encourage you to sign an online petition to stop it dead, as it should be.)

While you might think that Promenade is immune from this kind of arbitrary cyber–raiding, I am still worried — not so much for myself, but for others whose only crime would be to remix culture as a higher form of art critique. That would snare not only well–known plunderers as Negativland ("that's the letter 2 and the numeral U?"), but also organizations such as the Media Education Foundation, whose own (expensive) DVD line pushes the fair use envelope while wedding it to the sorry talking–heads/agenda video formula. (Would they get nailed for daring to, say, challenge the power of Madison Avenue to ensnare children and indoctrinate them in a lifetime of unhealthy consumption?)

And don't forget that my first video, signed as Konstelacio in 2008, is also a mash–up — forged in a rage over people still shopping as ever even as the U.S. economy went into meltdown. Another future target?

I'd hate to think how big ICE's dragnet really is. But next year, if my finances improve, I'll probably be stocking up on USB flash drives for video circulation. It's an idea that recently made perfect since to Sarah Fimm, who is a brilliant unsigned musician. Stress the word "unsigned."

Thinking about it now, I could welcome several 4GB USB sticks in my stocking this year.

We often credit the Chinese for the expression: "May you live in interesting times." But as Heather Forest quotes the farmer as a refrain in her version of the Taoist tale above, "I don't know if it's a good [bad] thing or a bad [good] thing."

And that's where my mind is, as Promenade turns one.

Here's hoping it gets there. You can help by clicking the "Donate" button to the right. Please don't hesitate. Xie xie (Thank you).

UPDATE 2010.12.07: One very generous soul came through on 6 December, so our website is still very much alive and well and will keep on ticking in 2011.