Thursday, October 30, 2008

gearhead bob

i was just looking at what i could clear off my hard drive so i could load more raw vid onto it for a movie i'm working on (yay for my new external 7200rpm pocket drive coming next week!), and i found this little gem. i was prepping for a wedding i shot a couple of weeks ago, and was testing out the lights i'd just bought (for some words and a picture about that, please see the entry of 10/9/08).

i was tired. really, really tired.

ahem. and "heh." ;)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

i voted!

it was pretty easy, and kinda fun. i'd never been to the inside of city hall before, and damn, that place is a palace!

i went in past the guards at the front and through their metal detection devices (i couldn't get the ac/dc and steve vai out of my head, so i kept setting off the alarm. finally they had me sing a few bars of "hells bells" and let me through). then i got caught by the rotunda. wow. just wow. i didn't know there were any places like this in the city. visually beautiful, and the acoustics were insane. there were at least two, maybe three queer couples getting married. one was this femme/butch pairing of cute-as-can-be punk dykes. so sweet!

i escaped the beauty and headed downstairs to the elections department. there was a line of like 75 people already! according to one of the workers, it had been on and off busy ever since the doors opened for early voting a few weeks ago. these ladies (for it was all ladies, as far as i could see. and one gay man, maybe. don't know if he worked there.) were definitely earning their paychecks. (the art you see on the walls? more on that later.)

i had to fill out a form that said i promised not to get a ballot anywhere else, and then stood in line for 20-30 minutes. maybe not even that long. i wasn't feeling all that well, so it may have felt longer than it actually was. there was no pushing and shoving, and no grumbling that i heard. we were all excited to be there and excited to get the thing done and make sure our vote got counted; the earlier, the better.

at the head of the line, i was shown to the front desk, where after a quick i.d. check (did my signature on the form match what they had in their db? if not, they'd check other i.d.), i got my ballot. this ballot is, evidently, identical to the ones that are mailed to folks who are doing the mail-in ballot thing.

i looked up, and behind the woman helping me, there was an open door. through that door, carefully arranged on tables and chairs and the floor, were box after box after box of ballots. the door was heavy wood, and the room was under a grand stairway, so it looked like some kind of cement lean-to; a bunker, a vault. i felt like i was seeing something secret. ;)

and then i went to one of the plastic, fold-out polling places and voted. it was totally awesome.

okay, to the art in the halls. i was in line, and didn't really feel like talking to my fellow enfranchised (as i said earlier, i wasn't feeling very well). but i'm kinda a.d.d., and i'm not super fond of having nothing to engage my senses (preferably, more than one sense at a time).

so i start looking at the art. the show is called "insights, 2008: an exhibition of works by artists who are blind or visually impaired," and is a joint project of the lighthouse for the blind and the san francisco arts commission gallery. wow! it's running through december 12, and you can get there through the grove or polk street entrances to city hall. this is the 19th year!

some of the art was really cool and some - well, none of it sucked, in my opinion. but that wasn't the coolest part. check out the painting here. i think it was the most interesting piece in the show, if not the most beautiful. it's called "all american little miss," and it's by mari newman of minneapolis, minnesota. in her artist statement, she says that she's legally blind, but can see colors, and that she "can't distinguis dullness or dull colors very easily," and she finds "mundane things boring." nice!

so, just below the painting, in the center, you may be able to make out a little icon that looks like a computer speaker icon. what you may not be able to see is that right beside it is a number in a box. well, that number is "36." and if you dial the following phone number - 415 226-2583 - and key in "36#," a pleasant woman's voice, strong but not strident, will read to you a description, in english, of the painting. for "all american little miss," this description is as follows: "crayon and poster paint. 28 by 22 inches. at the top of the image stand three little pigs in identical poses and dresses. the three pigs look alike, but one is dark brown, one is medium brown, and one is dark pink. the three dresses are full, short skirts, white collar, cuffs and black tie at the neck. one is purple, one is green, and one is blue. each pig is wearing black and white striped leggings and black shoes. behind the three little pigs is a red, checked, gingham table-cloth pattern. in the bottom half of the painting is an american flag, with 24 white stars on a blue field. the shape of the flag looks like a slice of bread. the stripes look like slices of bacon, in red with strips of yellow on the edges. behind the flag is a background of extremely tiny dots in blue, green, purple, yellow and white."

from eyes to mind, we go to ears to mind. but it's one more step removed. the work of art "is." the words describing the work of art "are," as well, but they aren't the art itself. which means that it's at least one step removed, even if we could replace the ears for the eyes in a one-to-one relationship. also, although descriptive, i certainly wouldn't classify the above description as very artful, although i did like the flag as bacon and bread. just sop up that grease and dig on in! very american. ;) (hah! i just realized that it actually looks just like bacon! that wasn't artistic license on the part of the descriptor. heh. shows how much i was paying attention. d'oh! oh! which points up something else - the description of it caused me to go back and look at the picture of the painting again - and so i saw - literally and figuratively - the painting more clearly because of the description. neat!)

you can read about the exhibit at they have artist statements, and about 5 mp3s which are a few of the artists talking about their own work. they also have an online gallery, so one can see the works.

all in all, quite a successful trip.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

mcpalin - one hundred billion swerved!

okay. some of you may have heard about sara palin not saying that abortion clinic bombers are domestic terrorists. bill ayers is a domestic terrorist, but not abortion clinic bombers. when asked by brian williams on nbc, she gave a great sigh, and then dodged the question. she even turned it around by asking if williams was asking her if she regretted classifying bill ayers as a terrorist. 

uh, no, governor, he asked you a direct question. a "yes" or "no" answer would do.

there were a few other interesting things in this interview, however, that i've heard nothing about, as of yet:

brian williams: (to palin) "governor, what is an elite? who is a member of the elite?"

sarah palin, after another exasperated sigh, gave this answer: "oh, I guess just anyone who thinks they're better than anyone else." okay, governor. you, then. because you certainly think you're better than barack obama. oh, and you think you're better than me, too. 

palin then went on to say, "john mccain and i are so committed to serving every american. hard working, middle class americans..." hmmm. when last i looked, that wasn't every american. there's a crapload of americans right now living below the poverty line. are you serving them? and we already know you're serving the rich.

then the senator had to pipe up. referring to "elitists," he said: "i know where a lot of 'em live." and here's where it gets good: 

williams: "and where's that?"

mccain: "well, in our nation's capitol and new york city. i've seen it. i've lived there. i know the town." (emphasis mine) errr, okay, senator. well, how does that not make you an elite yourself?

he returns to the terrorist question then, and says that ayers' act was not one of "spontaneity." okay, sure, but an abortion clinic bomber is just passing by, and he happens to have a molotov cocktail in his pocket and is suddenly come over with an act of passion, and he lights and tosses the thing. he didn't think about, or plan it beforehand at all. suuuuuure. 

besides, premeditation and passion don't differentiate between the destruction on the other end, senator. 

there's more good stuff there. you can see the full clip at

have obama and biden had similar gaffes or outright inconsistencies in interviews or speeches from one second to the next? perhaps. but if so, i'm voting for them, so i'd rather not put that stuff up on my blog. if you've got some, and you want to point them out, please feel free to comment. 

in fact, all comments are welcome. i'll read 'em. thanks.

Monday, October 27, 2008

voting early!

i'm going to vote early, and i'm really excited about it! all i have to do is go down to city hall here in sf, and vote. i had no idea it was so easy, and this will clear one more person out of the way for the hordes that will descend on election day.

as i'm sure you all know...this one's real important, people! please vote. thanks.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

a cool one

i'm sitting here at home, feeling the cool. It's been 80 around here, and dangit, that's just not what I moved here for. today, the fog has finally moved back into my neighborhood, and it is blessed relief.

i'm working on the business plan for my new vid biz ( it's actually kind of fun. i'm using the one page business plan, by jim horan. it's laid out in a workbook format. it's really quite simple, and i'm burnin' right through it.

listening to joe satriani's newer piece, "professor satchafunkilus." it's pretty good. it's no steve vai or john petrucci, but it sure beats a poke in the head with a petrified salami. and that's literal; no metaphor there. just to be clear.

i should be finding out this coming week if my company is going to have another massive spate of layoffs. better to know than not know.

praise fog!

Friday, October 24, 2008

i live in the sticks

So, I went out earlier to try and suck off some free wifi, bandwidth vampire that I am, and get away from the pounding of jackhammers and basketballs and obsessive "Rock Band" players. I trekked through the neighborhood - it was 7:30. I went to 4 cafes, but the only on - on a Friday - that was still open at 8pm (and only open until 9pm) was the one that charged for wifi! Plus, although they make a mean chicken-pesto sandwich, I just wasn't in the mood for what they had.

However, I did have a lovely walk in the neighborhood. The night was gorgeous, and so were some of the women on the street! Ocean Ave. out in the Ingleside is really startin' to hop. I like it. There were heels and hot outfits, and people wanting to look their best. It means the neighborhood means something to them. That's cool. 

There's King's cafe, down on the corner in the same building as the non-profit publisher and the mediation center; the building used to be a Masonic Temple years ago. They've got the free wifi and the chillin' seats, but they close at 7:30! So, I walked 7 blocks back, and went to Java Jitters, pretty much right across from the fire station. They close at eight, but were stoked to hear me ask about their every-other weekly open mic, "Verbose Overdose." The next one is two weeks from now; they're skipping Halloween - who's going to come? 

But I also like living in the sticks. It's - well, not much quieter out here, but a little. And even though I can't find free wifi and caffeine at the same time, at least I can walk around, meet my neighbors, and come home to that stuff. 

(the picture here can be seen on flickr, at


I'm not sure I believe there is truth anymore. Certainly not in electoral politics. That being said, please watch this video. The GOP attacks on ACORN and their efforts to suppress the vote...I'm not sure what else to say.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

uber-political jellyfish sacrifice selves for cleaner energy protest!

Yesterday, the Diablo Canyon Nuclear (pronounced, "Nuke-U-Ler") Power Plant was brought down to 25% capacity output by a massive influx of - you guessed it - moon jellyfish.

What were they trying to accomplish? Destruction on a massive scale? Did they know, as they undulated their bodies against the mesh of the underwater grates that they were merely banging their metaphorical heads against the wall? They were each, evidently, about the size of a human head, so perhaps they did. 

Although I'm not certain how I feel about the role of nuclear power in our energy future (or present), I am saddened by the need these innocent invertebrates seem to have felt to take this drastic action to put forth their, certainly well thought out, political agenda.

Poor, poor jellyfish. Evidently they had to be scraped off the grill. Bugs on the highway of life. 

(See the article at

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

supernatural sounds

this weekend, i attended a wonderful musical event. it was the "Animals and the Arts" benefit for Pets Unlimited ( they're a no-kill animal shelter and special needs veternary center. they'll patch up cats and dogs that many other shelters would euthanize, and they'll keep the critters until they find good homes. our first kitty, Missie, was there for a year and a half before we adopted her, and our second kitty, Dennis, had a horrible leg injury. they had to take the leg, but he's happy and healthy now, and full of plenty of mischief. please check out their website, and if you can and feel so inclined, support them in any way you can. they're good people.

so. i'm at this show. and there were 30 odd classical musicians, a few operatic soloists, and quite an empresario showman conductor. i mean, these guys were world class.

and so was the clarinet soloist. holy *&%^. i can't remember the last time i've heard tones that sweet. which isn't strictly true. i was, until recently, working with a superb jazz clarinetist, and he's got some hellaciously sweet tones. but this was classical, and it is different. also, it was in the Herbst Theater on Van Ness, and the acoustics are crazy good there.

but i could tell that the operatic singing was coming from the bodies of the singers. the was like the sound came from the entire stage area, from the floor to the ceiling. it was amazing. it gave me shivvers and brought tears to my eyes. i loved it. and it gave me a new way to look at the instrument i've recently picked up.

although i'm not playing at all right now. focusing primarily on my video business ( and secondarily on my writing (i'm way behind on my "story a month" thing). clarinet will, for now, have to wait.
and on the video note, something to look forward to: watch this space in the next week or so. i will embed my new documentary short film, "goats." it's about how the city of San Francisco hires goatherders and goats to trim the verge, as it were, in certain places. wow!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

don't mind if I do

So, I'm on my way back from the gym this morning. I've got my headphones on, listening to Benny Goodman (or Artie Shaw - I don't know them both well enough to know the difference yet) on my iPod, and reading "Bad Money," about how we got into this crazy fiscal mess in the first place. I'm pretty engrossed (so to speak).

Well, I feel one coming on, and it's the open air, and the breeze is blowing, so I let it rip.

In the next second, a scream erupts from behind me (a bloody-murder kind of scream), and this woman makes a wide berth to my left. She's muttering at me and giving me dirty looks. Well, she scared me, maybe more than I scared/offended her. I said, "I'm sorry - but it's just a fart." She muttered more things, and then I took off my headphones and called up the sidewalk to her, where she was speeding along. "Look, I'm sorry, but it's just a fart. It's a bodily function. We all have them."

Then she said, "You have no shame!"

And I said, "You're right. Not about this anyway. It's a bodily imperative. It makes no sense to be ashamed of it." And she gave me a wide berth, and I stalked off.

Now, this is just funny. I certainly shouldn't have gotten so upset, but then again, neither should she. It's a fart!

But it does point up the fact that I'm kinda more tense than I have any real need - or use - to be. I've got plenty of "right" to be - just look around you. But still, I'd like something that silly to not only not get to me so, but to actively make me laugh.

Ha! ;0)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

more light!

Had my wedding gig last night (the one for which I bought the lighting equipment). It was really, really fun. I know the brides, and they are lovely, fabulous folks. It was a beautiful ceremony, and there was good energy all around. (And good cake!)

The lights were a big hit! There were a few photographers there as well, and the lead was thrilled that I'd brought some stationary, consistent lights. He didn't want to shoot with flash during the ceremony as it would distract. I just used the two 1000W halogen tripods. Each was off to the side, angled down at full power so the light would bounce up and not glare in the ladies' eyes. We could have used one more set of lights down the middle, but there you go. Learning for next time.

I realized something strange and interesting last night too, about a difference between video and photography that I never noticed:

video: I shoot motion, and therefore, must remain, for the most part, fairly still, or the audience will have a hard time keeping up.

photography: They shoot stills, so (other than at the moment of the shot) they can bop around quite a bit in between. 

I felt like a strange statue/flower, while these water bugs/small mammals bounced around me. However, for both of us, the actual moment of the shot is still. Only, for photogs, it's a quick moment plucked out of the time stream, and then on to the next. Whereas, I am recording the river of it, the motion.

At the moment of recording, we must be still, while the machine does the work.

When I used to do a lot more sketching, one of the things I'd like to do is to go like mad for 30-120 seconds, hardly looking at the paper, while the subject moved, talked, ignored me. Sometimes the drawings were nearly unintelligible, but that was cool. Other times, they seemed to capture the person in their fullness. Or in a kind of fullness. 

They move, I move, all is movement, personally and relatively.

And last night was moving. To be part of such a lovely thing, for two such lovely means a lot to me. Yay!


Everything's going local. I don't think we can help it. Please, get to know your neighbors, regardless of race, ideas, ideals, sex (or sexiness) or levels of whackiness. Be with each other now, so when it's required (because there's not enough gas and hardly anyone has horses - or the know-how to work with them), you can be with each other then. 

So much of the world is already insane. Let's be good to those we know, and let's know as much and as many as we can within our immediate circle. It's already wider than we think, and richer.

Rock on, everyone!

Thursday, October 9, 2008


So, I'm starting this video bizyness ( I've done vid on and off since high school, and I'm no stranger to it. That being said, there's a heck of a lot I don't know about it; a heck of a lot to learn. Well, on Saturday, I'm filming my first outdoor, low-light event. I've messed with all the controls on my camera. I'll do a bunch of goodness in post. But nothing beats lighting the thing properly from the beginning.

Sure. Okay. Great. Errrr...that means I need lights. Like, now. So, I went shopping. I hit OSH, Home Depot, and Peir 1, for tripod mounted halogens, clip lights and a chinese lantern (in that order). Pier 1 was a bust, but the other two were good.

But before that, I decided to check craigslist for lighting. Better to get it used than new, if I can. Especially right now, fer cripes sake. I saw one promising lead for an 18" fixture, "old-style."

Cute, huh? It looked just like the sort of thing I was looking for, and the ad said it had an attachment for tripods. Excellent! Oh, and it was $5! Double excellent. So, it said to call "X."

(Quick aside: there's this awesome bookstore in the Mission on Valencia near 19th called Borderlands Books. They're a specialty store for fantasy, sci-fi and horror. They have sweet, helpful, knowledgeable people and a wonderful selection. I was also in a writer's group, not affiliated with the store, that met in the back. I left the group about 6 months ago.)

Well, I only know one person named "X," and she's the manager of the above mentioned store. But I didn't twig to the number, and I called it. "Borderlands Books," came the voice on the other end of the phone. Oh! Holy crap! How cool! It turns out the lighting unit was owned (not any more - I own it now!) by the owner of the store. They said they'd hold it for me, and I could come by later that night, no problem. So I did. I looked at the unit, and besides being retro-cool (it must be 40 years old), it works like a dream. No surprise; this guy keeps his stuff in top condition. I'm very excited to try it out.

So, I'm chatting at the front with one of the long-time employees, who I haven't seen in a while because, well, my leaving the writing group was kinda awkward. And I think I just didn't want to be around the store because of the associations. So we're chatting, and I hear some folks talking in the back. I look over - and it's the writer's group!

Wow. Well, I'm stoked for them that it's still going; that's cool. And...I had to use the john. And the group was between me and there. And I decided that it was totally silly for me not to go. So I did. I spoke to them briefly on the way there and back, and realized something wonderful. I am really glad not to be in the group any more. They're good people, but it didn't work for me in a major way, and it had been time to leave, and leave I did. Yay! And now, I feel ready to hang out at my favorite bookstore in the whole world again. And that is a really good thing.

So, in my quest for light last night, I was enlightened, and I lightened my own load. Which is great, considering there's enough heaviness right now, and I'm finishing this entry up at 4:20 in the morning because I couldn't sleep, what with all that's going on.

But you know what? Good is happening too. My video biz is starting up with a whoosh, my short stories are getting better, and my general creativity is higher. I'm beginning to exhibit more "insufferable positivity." (for a good read on this topic, please visit and read the Sept. 30th entry. Check it out - she's my best friend!) Not that I'm blind - just positive.

Light is good. So is darkness. They make shadow. A place for resting, and for greys. And a place to do whatcha want to, away from prying eyes.

Here's to shadow.
Update: This morning, I told one of my co-workers about it, and he pointed out that, if I so chose, I could see these "coinkeydinks" as the universe directly supporting my creating my video biz.
I so choose. ;)

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Waters of the John

Saw the filthy god at the Castro tonight. He left us with this definition of success: "I can buy any book I want and not look at the price, and I never have to be around assholes." He told us what "blossoms" are, and then told us "I wish I didn't know that." He told us to get all dragged up and go to major politicians' houses and shout fashion insults at their wives. He told us a story about someone he'd met in a bar in Baltimore who, when asked by Waters what he did for a living, said, "Can I be truthful?" "Sure." "I sell deer meat for crack."

He told us to use humor as a weapon of choice against the insanity of the world around us.

We got told. And I liked it. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

good, good, goodman

i just recently took up the clarinet. it's pretty fun, and i like it for a number of reasons. but that's not what today's entry is about.

today's entry is about taking one of my walks up around Monterrey avenue north of the ingleside district here in san francisco. i came upon a man who was loading some things into his suv from his garage. hanging on a nail therein was a mirrored picture of a young man in a suit holding a hollow-body electric guitar. on it were the words, "Edward Coven - guitarist for the legendary Benny Goodman!" now, if you're of a certain age, or if you know anything about the clarinet, then you know the name Benny Goodman. he was the leader of a big band that popularized swing music and played for decades. 

and he was a mean mother f*^&er on that clarinet. he could play, play, play. fast and loud and precise. mmmm, mmm.

anyway, Edward Coven turned out to be this guy's father. he told me the story that his father approached Goodman at the San Francisco world's fair. Goodman wouldn't give him an audition, but Edward made sure that Goodman knew that he was playing that night at a local jazz club. Goodman showed, and Edward got the gig. 

neat, huh?