Sunday, September 30, 2012

Your Content Will Resume In 30 Seconds....



Sept 29, 2012

          "Your content will resume in 30 seconds....".
          Over on the sidebar of my G-mail, there's a squib for an internet video.  It's called "Chef Says He Marinated Wife's Body Slowly". Before I can watch this delightful cooking tutorial, I get this pre-video advertisement.  
          This is a new feature in our lives, this pre-content advertisement. Everything I want to see or hear on YouTube, Vimeo, etc, comes spring-loaded with a product placement.  Frequently there is the courtesy of an opt-out click: I can skip it and go right to the video.  Nowadays, however, the "skip this ad" box is increasingly missing, and there's no choice but to wait through thirty seconds of being treated like an infant as the commercial for (chose at least one)Food, Cars, Vodka or Phones, throws its hook into the waters of your psyche.
            I want to see how ubiquitous this practice  has become.  I continue waiting for the cannibal chef video.
          "Your content will resume in 30 seconds."  First I have to watch a commercial from a product called Nautica, and I'm not quite sure what it is: A TV show, a body spray for men or a pitch for ocean resorts.  After thirty seconds of slick pitch I still don't know what the products is and I'm content NOT to know.
          THEN I get the details of the chef/murderer/cannibal. I close the page after about eight seconds.
          There are commercials at gas pumps and commercials on screens at urinals in public buildings.  Some day I'll buy a pair of pants and when I put my hands in their pockets a little hologram will appear at chest height saying, "The contents of your pockets will be available in thirty seconds."
          Monetizing.  I can monetize my web sites, have little ads
in the margins and get paid for every hit on my site.  Make some serious coin, oh yeah.
          I don't even know if this is a problem.  I've been watching commercials since I was a kid.  Our entertainment is funded this way.  It becomes a problem when our INFORMATION becomes funded this way because the funders get to decide what information we can access.
          There was a broadcast yesterday on Fox News, live, of a man blowing his brains out after a car chase.  "Get it off!  Get it off!," the shocked announcer barked, a second after the running man had pointed the pistol at his head and produced a vapor of blood and brain as he died in front of the cameras.  Any fool watching the live action could see what was about to happen.  The guy pulled a gun from his clothing.  He was in a desperate condition.  





          Your content will resume in 30 seconds.  Deodorant soap, aaaaah!  Cut to car chase, suicide, or cannibal chef who has re-visioned the term "eating out", or....any goddam grotesque thing in the world.   30 seconds.  Buy this new cell phone.  It replaces the one you bought last week that is now hopelessly out of date.  Siamese twins challenge courts for right to marry one another.
          This is our world.
          You want it? A fixer-upper, slightly used. 
          Your content will resume in 30 seconds.....but first the commercial: Planet Earth, a paradise in the Milky Way, comfortably nestled in the suburbs, not a black hole in the neighborhood.  Serene, bucolic. The Vacation Worth Having.
The natives are peaceful and friendly.....
          Your content will resume in thirty seconds.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Grandfather Milky Way

I took this photo some time ago.  The tree to the left looks like a troll.  I call him Grandfather Milky Way.  Light emerges from his heart; could be Zodiacal light, or ordinary light pollution,
or both.  The figure and his light give this photo valuable context, not to mention color.  Taken with a Canon 10D, eight minutes exposure at ISO 400. Canon 17-40L lens at 20mm.



Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Hunger Games: A View





            I watched this entire movie.  At the end I felt manipulated.  I'd been set up for the sequel.  It wasn't a cliff-hanger.  There was a conclusion, an emotional resolution.  I felt conned, anyway.
            If I see a Harry Potter, it's a given that there's going to be another Harry Potter.  I don't know snarf about this condescending hodge podge called The Hunger Games, except that I'm not going to rent the sequel. 
            Lo and Behold, as I scan the uber-film website Rotten Tomatoes, I see that
there are at least three more Hunger Games films already in the can and awaiting the release date in such fashion as to keep the market sharp.  No overstuffing, no bulimia in these Hunger Games.  The films are scheduled to release one a year, through 2015.
            The Hunger Games books form  a trilogy.  That's natural, that's the way the publishing business works these days.  Write a series: keep them buying the next book.  Keep spinning the story until the Young Adult protagonist gets herpes or joins a cult.  After eighteen years of age, the Young Adult hero/heroine has pubes and periods, and no longer qualifies for the teen discount.
            After watching the film for two minutes I knew that the story called for Revolution, that the Old Order must be destroyed.  Let's get rid of these mincing aristocrats who somehow never get fat in spite of hogging all the food in the world.  Wow, I think. In this future era liposuction has gotten AWESOME!
President Snow and Mr. Funnybeard
            So, in the final scene, the camera lingers on the face of Donald Sutherland, who plays the Benevolent Fuehrer, the grandfatherly President Snow.  He taps his 
lips with his forefinger.  He scowls.  His toady, Mister Funnybeard, had said, vis a vis unforeseen developments in the live-broadcast annual Hunger Game, "Everyone loves an underdog."  President Snow says that he (Mister Funnybeard) wouldn't like the REAL underdog very much if he got close enough to smell his B.O.             
          President Snow sees trouble coming.  The Underdogs are getting restless.  He forces Mister Funnybeard to eat poison berries.  The Beard wasn't tough enough.  Snow needs a bigger nastier villain.  I don't know anything about the books, the plot, the film sequels, NUTHIN'.  But I betcha Mister Funnybeard's replacement is a real gorilla.  My Predictable-Plot-Sensor has sniffed and distilled the corn sucrose and polyethylene glycol in Book One and says, "here she comes in Book Two! A real nasty character!"              
          This movie got critical raves and made tons of money and will continue to bask in its over-ratedness as long as the milk holds out.  Maybe that's because it's filled with such deep philosophical and political observations.  Maybe it has stimulated people to think deep thoughts!
            Here it is: In the not so distant future all the rich people, the one percenters,
have divided the country into twelve districts, with the richest district being, of course, District One, and so forth.  District Twelve is coal mining country, it looks like Appalachia in the 1920's. Freezing, miserable, hungry miners and their families have been so completely intimidated that they send their children to participate in the annual Hunger Games.  It's compulsory but every time a kid enters his or her name into the lottery there's a payoff.  They get a loaf of bread or a flank steak or something like that.  Hence, there are kids whose poverty and family-feeling has driven them to do the name-drop forty or fifty times, or a hundred.  They know that sooner or later their number will be up and they will be called to The Hunger Games.
            The Game is a live televised gladiatorial contest.  There is only one winner.  One survivor.  Two teenagers from each district are turned loose in a giant domed parkland and must hunt one another down.  There are hidden cameras everywhere.   The frog is a camera.  The butterfly is a camera.  The weaponry is strictly medieval. Swords, spears, axes, knives, bows and arrows.  The winner becomes a celebrity and gets all the perks of being a District One Percenter.
            Wow.  Would you let your sixteen year old sign up for this?  You don't have a choice.  Your kid might be irritating as hell right now but that's no way to shut up a teenager.
            The rich kids from Districts One and Two have years of training and are awesome killing machines.  Kids like Kaitness Everdeen, from District Twelve, have grown up in the woods and streams of coal country.  They've learned to trap and hunt to survive.  Kaitness is a wizard with bow and arrow.  She's Bear Grylles, Cody Lundin and Survivor Man Les Stroud dressed like a sixteen year old girl.  Well, she looks more like twenty six but what's one suspended disbelief among so many?
            There you have it, folks.  The Hunger Games.  It's the TV show Survivor with real edged weapons.  Alliances are formed and broken.  Since ultimately you may have to kill your boyfriend to win the game, emotional attachments are thrown all askew.  That's the real cruelty.  You have to stop trusting someone you love.
How heinous!  This crappy system has got to be toppled!  The Revolution will definitely be televised!
            I thought that was going to happen in this movie.  I hadn't reckoned on the sequel, the prequel, the dequel. or the hypnequal.  At the end I just felt ripped off.
            By the way, the movie is dead slow.  Two and a half hours of  Slowwwwww, leavened by five minutes of climactic battle with Cato The District One Killing Machine.
            If Kaitness was so smart, why didn't she recover her preciously limited arrows whenever she shot a squirrel or a pheasant? Stuff like that really bugs me.
            I give this movie one muskrat for the hair dressers and costume people.  They had a hell of a lot of fun.
          Aw, let's give it another half a muskrat for Woody Harrelson doing a great imitation of Woody Harrelson.  The guy's the Nick Nolte of our time.  He's made grunge into a career.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Yanni: An Overview





Last night I channel surfed past a PBS station in time to catch Yanni playing with a sixty eight piece symphony orchestra in  the Pass of Thermopylae.  Holy Shit!  THE Pass Of Thermopylae.

Yanni was standing between phalanxes of keyboards, four on his right, four on his left, and as the orchestra pumped out vigorous empty musical calories, he stretched his arms straight out to either side and played the keyboards.  He threw his hair back, arched his body in a spasm of ersatz passion. 

He was wearing all white. He was crucifying himself gallantly and nobly, ascending in resurrected bliss on a cascade of idiot dramatic crap New Age muzak fit only for hair salons and supermarkets.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not jealous of this man’s success.  Well...yes I am, godammit.  He undoubtedly works very hard.  But the insult of indulging in such silly and obvious showmanship only diminishes his besotted audience.  Showmanship is a wonderful thing.  Especially when it is connected to genuine talent, or profound ideas.  I saw a film of the Count Basie Band and watched drummer Sonny Payne twirl and juggle his sticks while executing a wildly complex drum solo. Sonny made the sticks pass under his legs and around his back, threw them into the air so they landed on the snare drum in perfect time, while holding and stomping on the beat, with the band bellowing. THAT is showmanship.  In Hell, Yanni will be a toothless bald man gesticulating wildly in front of a three piece band of Borscht Belt hacks who can barely wheeze in tune, let alone play music.  He will repeat the same phrase over and over again, “Aren’t I wonderful?” and a thin, bored applause will leak up from a cigarette strewn linoleum dance floor that stretches to infinity.


Sonny Payne with Count Basie


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Book Cover: AVOIDING THE POTHOLES

I've spent a while working on this cover design.  I took the RV from another photo taken at Pyramid Lake.  It wasn't our RV, but it was perfectly situated.  It even  had a boat attached, and I'm wondering if I shouldn't include the boat.  In Photoshop terms, that means a bit more work.  I may yet try it, but I'm going for simplicity of composition.  All pics in this cover are mine.  I would love your feedback.