Commentary: Obama summons ghosts of American history

January 21, 2009

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Very eloquent piece that I came across on – worth taking the time to read over…
– FlashAddict

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By Paul Begala
CNN Contributor

Editor’s note: Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor, was a political consultant for Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign in 1992 and was counselor to Clinton in the White House.

Paul Begala says Obama embodies the American dream, and our fate is now tied to his fate.

Paul Begala says Obama embodies the American dream, and our fate is now tied to his fate.

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Sometimes pictures tell a story better than words. On Inauguration Day, we saw Barack Obama, strong and certain, striding purposefully into the presidency.

And we saw Dick Cheney, once one of the most powerful people on Earth, reduced to being wheeled out of the White House.

Of course, we all wish good health for the former vice president, but the contrasting images were stark.

Barack Obama’s inaugural address was a bracing, brave break with the past.

“On this day,” he said, “we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.” He sternly scolded the “greed and irresponsibility” of our current era, and called for “action, bold and swift.”

Take that, George W. Bush, whose false promises and worn-out dogmas have turned so much of the nation against him.

Barack Obama’s story is unique in its particulars, but it is universal in its appeal. One grandfather a Kenyan goat herder who opposed colonial rule, the other a Kansas farm boy who joined Patton’s army to fight the Nazis.

His parents’ marriage was illegal in 16 states, and his mother struggled, turning to food stamps to keep body and soul together, and waking young Barry up at 4:30 in the morning to nourish his brain.

He understands and appreciates the American Dream because he is its living embodiment. His story is our story. And now his fate and ours are inextricably intertwined.

As a speechwriter, I know you say a lot in the quotations you choose. President Barack Obama chose two and he chose wisely. First, St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians in which he exhorts the people of Corinth to, in effect, grow up.

“When I was a child,” Paul wrote, “I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. But when I became a man I put aside childish things.”

The new president used that ancient letter to deliver a badly needed message after eight years of anything goes: Put your big-boy pants on, America.

The president closed by quoting the words from Tom Paine that Gen. Washington ordered read aloud at Valley Forge. “Let it be told to the future world,” Washington said, “that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive… that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”

The quote shows Obama’s belief in unflinching courage, unblinking realism and an unrelenting faith that by coming together we Americans can bend history to our will.

Of course, even as Washington words echoed, other ghosts of American history were milling about. Abe Lincoln prowled the Mall. FDR, his ever-present cigarette holder clenched in his smiling teeth, cheered zestily. Dr. King called out from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and John F. Kennedy called back to him from the steps of the Capitol.

When Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, President Kennedy watched it on TV from the White House. As King concluded, Kennedy said, “He’s good. He’s damn good.” I like to think that as Barack Obama concluded his inaugural address, Dr. King turned to President Kennedy and said, “This young man’s pretty damn good, too.”

Video Art – Thursday @ Emily Carr

January 16, 2009

Labyrinth – Jim Henson

– behind the scenes making of video
– his son Brian is a master puppeteer
– needs a multitude of people to rehearse in order to match the actor, facial features and voice over to synch
– 75 pound costume giant ogre type monster
– large orc costume for Humongous – weighed several tons
– reminds me of Return of the Jedi behind the scenes footage with 3-4 guys in the Jabba the Hut costume/contraption
– there was one midget pulling back and forth on an oar lever for hours and hours on end to move Jabba’s tail

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Tell it to the Fishes –
– Dylan Moran fand the Indian daughter rom Run Fatboy Run
– great short film

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Arcade Fire – Miroir, Noir, Neon bible Archives – by Vincent Moon

– long continuous shot as they emerge from their dressing room on their way up to the stage
– they pause in the elevator and breakout into the song even though they are squished together
– at the end of the concert, they walk into the crowd itself like a traveling band
– drummer ripping the magazine in place of hitting a snare and he just had enough pages to last till the end of the song = Serendipity
– Montreal based band and large number of members

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Requiem for a Dream – Darren Aronofsky

– split screen shot showing conflict between mother and son
– keyhole mask shot looking into the other room showing her son’s drug crazed rant
– Requiem for a Dream title dissolves into dust like heroin (will be used for rest of intro credits shortly)
– son walks the gauntlet of the other retired widows in their lawn chairs in front of the apartment building
– used carrot on a stick type camera shot to look back at characters as they walk (reverse shot wobble cam)
– shows the brutality of drug addiction in the full light of day
– opening sequence sets the tone for the rest of the film – sense of desperation – develops character conflicts
– physically painful to watch this film – which is a powerful and tangible reaction to feel
– adds to the theme about the depths that drug addicts will sink to in order to fuel their habits

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– otherwise known as Miss Tint because she would go to the hardware store and purposely pick out the missed tint paint colours that no one wanted
– Big Vagina Clapping Mouth = epic win!
– massive installation mural is shown at the 4:55 mark of the video
– had no pre-conceived plan for the mural, just let inspiration flow out of her
– likes to do a lot of outdoor environmental work – abandoned corrugated metal buildings
– Barnstormers in North Carolina

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Mister Lonely – Harmony Korine

– otherwise disjointed imagery, themes and plot lines that are linked together into a collective piece

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– upload website for minute long short films
– impressionistic extrapolation of dream state imagery
– again, otherwise disjointed imagery, themes and plot lines that are linked together into a collective piece
– photography/video overlays

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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – Michel Gondry

– Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet scene on the couch
– row row row your boat, gently down the stream…merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream
– duality between the nursery rhyme and the dream/memory sequence
– Jim Carrey as a 4 year old boy and Kate Winslet as his babysitter (love the knee high go-go boots)
– false perspective used to show height/size differences
– they take on the aspect of their memory characters – Jim starts acting like a 4 year old

Scene 2
– drive-in sequence as they start erasing his memories
– car disappears – then the fence – then the faces of characters

– similar to Let Forever Be – Chemical Brothers video directed by Michel Gondry as well

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Gummo – Harmony Korine

Rabbit Junkyard scene

– IMBREEDERS – po white trash on display

Tap Scene

– kid looks like the imbred boy from Deliverance
– weightlifting with taped up cutlery as dumbbells
– oh god he’s working out to Madonna’s Like a Prayer
– got his balls popped?!?!?
– this kid has the longest skinniest face I’ve ever seen
– his mother is doing the funky kitchen

Gummo & Spaghetti

– OH MY FUCKING GOD – this is sick
– mmmmmm there’s some good eats there
– love the shot of the spiked up shampoo hair slowly dropping to end the scene!
– was this shot scripted? I highly doubt it, which gives it greater value and emotional attachment
– cinema verite structure = this is a snapshot of poor, uneducated america – this stuff probably really does happen

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GRADIUS III – SNES Video Game by Konami

– the 7-11 in Tsawwassen got a $hit load of money out of my pockets due to this arcade game
– clean + simple + effective = my design/artistic philosophy

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INSOMNIA – by Christopher Nolan

– quote from the original article Pacino: The Legend Speaks – “A scene like that shouldn’t be perfect. It should be spontaneous. That’s what it’s about.”
– this scene actually makes the audience hold its collective breath
– the imperfection of the scene adds to its value – the scene should not be staged – instead it should be allowed to unfold as it naturally would
– theme of chance and its role in film is important to consider and how it can affect the plot
– just the general premise of having the typical premise of a cops and robbers chase scene, yet having it situated on rolling logs completely takes it to a new dimension of complexity

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– cinema verite video documentation of major bands doing live musical performances in speak easy type locales

– guerilla style type musical performance similar to Arcade Fire – Miroir, Noir, Neon bible Archives – by Vincent Moon – as seen above
– using found musical instruments on site and meshing them into the music
– haha the neighbours came up to complain about the noise level – hilarious $hit!
– erosion of the cult of celebrity

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Self Portrait – Jenny Saville

– definitely in your face painting – no stone left unturned as it were
– interesting and dynamic angles and shapes are created by the folds and curves of the muscles limbs
– makes her look intimidating as she looks down – the scale of the painting as well intimidates the audience (7′ x 9′)
– Manic Street Preachers – The Holy Bible album cover

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The Science of Sleep – Michel Gondry
Dream Sequence

– my classmate isn’t interested in the plot or characters per say but in the costume and set design used for the film
– turns out it was only a dream – windows opening turn out to be his eyes

If you rescue me

– the main character’s brain says, “I’m exhausted…I’m gonna wake up now” – brilliant line!
– recycled material used to create backgrounds and props – just like Urban Source here in Vancouver

Yes, he must: coughing up Canadian-made BlackBerry a bitter pill for Obama

January 13, 2009

This is definitely a perplexing notion – how does one exist in the world today without being able to use email?!?!?
– FlashAddict

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By Lee-Anne Goodman, The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON – He’s been seen cradling it and gazing upon it almost as frequently as he’s cooed at babies and promised to bring change to Washington.

Barack Obama has a deep and abiding affection for his made-in-Canada BlackBerry, and yet the gods are conspiring against him – despite his best efforts, Obama will almost certainly be forced to dump his beloved Berry after his inauguration on Tuesday.

It’s a breakup the president-elect has long been dreading.

“I’m still clinging to my BlackBerry,” he said in a recent interview with CNBC. “They’re going to pry it out of my hands.”

Canada’s Research in Motion (TSX:RIM), the inventor and manufacturer of the BlackBerry, is adamant that its devices and security network protect all data passing through them. Officials for the company won’t comment on Obama’s fondness for their device – or his impending heartache.

But most technology experts say that no security systems – either at RIM or any other company – can ever be entirely safe from hackers, spies, snoops and trouble-makers, and point out that allowing Obama to keep his BlackBerry could pose a serious security risk.

White House security agencies and lawyers have not only insisted Obama abandon the BlackBerry, but email in general as well.

In addition to the security risk, they say, all presidential communications can be made public due to the Freedom of Information Act and the Presidential Records Act of 1978 – something that makes political strategists queasy.

Nonetheless, the notion of having to forego email and hand-held devices might seem inhumane and unimaginable to anyone under the age of 50, for whom emailing and texting has evolved into a primary mode of communication over the past 15 years.

The idea of an offline president seems equally bizarre.

“It just doesn’t seem right to me,” said Karen Daniel, a television producer from Knoxville, Tenn., who nurses her own hard-core Berry addiction. “He’s a man of his generation and this is how his generation communicates.”

Daniel’s not alone, according to the results of a survey conducted this week by the San Francisco Chronicle.

The newspaper asked its readers: “Should president-elect Barack Obama have to give up his BlackBerry?”

As of midday Tuesday, 50 per cent or respondents had said no, while only 18 per cent – clearly unfamiliar with how ubiquitous electronic communications have become – said he’ll be too busy with other matters to bother with checking email.

Nine per cent, however, said Obama should give up the BlackBerry to avoid creating a record of presidential doings, while 24 per cent argued the very opposite: he should keep it in order to create a record of presidential doings.

Daniel said she agrees that holding onto his BlackBerry will only help to keep Obama honest.

“It makes him more transparent,” said Daniel, who recently went through withdrawal symptoms of her own when her Berry went on the blink for days, leaving her in a communications no-man’s land while vacationing in New York.

“If he doesn’t mind that people will be able to read his exchanges in years to come, then why can’t he hold onto it?”

Former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, who delivered a luncheon speech Tuesday in Toronto as part of an international speaking tour, agreed that losing the BlackBerry would be more than just an inconvenience for his one-time boss.

“It’s an important way for him to operate with his colleagues, but also it’s very important for him to stay in touch with … his friends and his family,” Plouffe said.

“It’s something he’s really struggling with.”

Obama’s not the first president to have to give up the conveniences of modern communication.

While Bill Clinton sent only two email messages as president and has reportedly never warmed to the habit, George W. Bush expressed sadness when he was forced to stop emailing in January 2001.

He even said recently he’s looking forward to emailing “my buddies” when he returns to Texas from Washington.

But for Obama, losing his Berry is a particularly bitter irony considering his historic campaign for the presidency was largely launched on technological battle fronts – on Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter and via emails and text messages.

He emailed friends and family and even actress Scarlett Johansson with the device. He kept his eye on it while attending his daughters’ soccer games in Chicago. He was ridiculed for carrying it in a holster on his belt – something of a fashion faux pas among technology snobs.

“It’s not just the flow of information,” a mournful Obama said last week.

“What it has to do with is having mechanisms where you are interacting with people who are outside of the White House in a meaningful way. And I’ve got to look for every opportunity to do that – ways that aren’t scripted, ways that aren’t controlled … ways of staying grounded.”

There might be a solution on the horizon for Obama, however.

Some hand-held devices have been approved as secure enough to handle even classified documents, email and Web browsing, raising the possibility that perhaps Obama might be allowed some sort of Berry-ish gadget.

The General Dynamics’ Sectera Edge is a combination phone-PDA that retails for a pricey US$3,350. It’s been certified by the National Security Agency as being acceptable for top secret voice communications, e-mail and Web sites, and it’s sturdy – able to withstand numerous four-foot drops onto concrete.

There was no immediate word from Obama’s transition team about whether the phone might be an option for the president-elect.

Do the Right Thing – Reading the Screen film of the week

November 12, 2008



Opening Credits with Rosie Perez

Race Rant

Love vs. Hate

Sal and Pino

– opening credits featuring Rosie Perez dancing – who could forget her in this movie with that accent
– that’s the truth ruth – samuel l jackson
– doing the ying and the yang, the flippity flop
– great pan shot rising up from a crane
– shot under Smiley looking up – centered in scene with church behind him
– interracial relationship between MOOOOOKIE and rosie perez (black and puerto rican)
– in comes Danny Aiello with his 2 sons at his pizza shop
– John Turtorro “detests this place like a fucking sickness”
– “This is a respectable business”
– “I’m gonna kill somebody today” – Danny Aiello = prophetic words
– Spike Lee looks so short and small and dopy looking
– mother sister is the actress who played denzel washington’s mother in american gangster
– ossie davis – “It’s gonna be a scorcher today!”
– quick cut shots from person to person as the conversation flows from person to person
– “You the man – I’m just visiting” – martin lawrence to radio rahim
– ossie davis to mother davis conversation – camera angle is slanted from either side to side as they talk to one another
– 3 older black men talking against a red brick wall – prophetic for the heat wave they are experiencing
– nothing but italian men on the wall of the pizza place – “How come no brothers on the wall?!?”
– Mook…stay black!
– Always do the right thing…that’s it? that’s it – I got it…I’m gone (conversation between ossie and mookie – same slanted angles again)
– everyone seeks their relief from the heat in different ways – head in the ice filled sink / cold shower / cold beers / turning on fire hydrant
– everyone makes way for radio Rahim when he comes across the fire hydrant
– but here comes mr soprano bad guy and he gets his car soaked
– moe and joe what sir? did you happen to catch their names?
– samuel l jackson is trying to get spike lee’s attention in the background as he talks to vito’s son on the street
– battle of the beat boxes between the puerto ricans and radio Rahim – camera pans back and forth between the two like a spectator at a fight
– enter celtics fan who scuffed black rage’s white nike sneekers
– this is a free country – a man can live wherever he wants
– slow motion scene as the cops and the 3 middle aged black men eye each other – with sombre solo piano soundtrack overtop
– either you korean motherfuckers are geniuses or you black motherfuckers are dumb
– ossie davis’ speech to the younger generation…”You don’t know shit!”
– nigger this nigger that – favorite basketball player is Magic Johnson – favorite actor is Eddie Murphy – favorite singer is Prince
– deep down I think you really want to be black – get the fuck outta here!
– mookie’s rant – to italian brother’s rant – puerto rican rant – italian cop – korean shop owner rant
– young black girl drawing a picture with chalk on the street of a house, car, sunshine (only place where it will happen for black people)
– slanted camera angles again between Vito and Radio Rahim – as conversation flows
– slave days are over – my name aint Kunta Kinte!
– Pino wants out of the pizeria in the black neighborhood – but Sal’s Famous Pizzeria is here to stay and that’s the way it is
– you better boycott that god damn barber who fucked up your hair!
– if you really tried hard, you could really put your energies into something positive
– Mookie and Pino can’t believe the conversation between his sister and Sal
– D MOTHER FUCKER D!!! – motherfuck YOU!
– older man takes a piss on the wall in front of the others
– Sal is in love with Mookie’s sister Jade
– TAWANNA TOLD THE TRUTH – graffiti on the wall – what does it mean?
– when main characters do sermon like dialog, the camera is always below them looking up as they are centred on the screen
– thank god for the lips, for the neck, for the knnecaps, for the elbows, for the thighs, for the right nipple, for the left nipple
– almost like a zoetrope effect with the light shinning through the ceiling fan – very prolific against their faces
– fight between pino and vito – the light overtop is going from side to side – highlighting the tension between the 2 brothers
– who the fuck does he think he is…fucking don corleone?!? – for making me turn down my box – didn’t even say please
– business was terrific – we had a great great day – nothing like a family working together – gonna rename it Sal and son’s pizzeria
– mookie, there will always be a place for you here – you’ve been like a son to me – four slices and then we’re outta here
– slanted camera angle again to highlight the tension – enter radio rahim and his crew
– I’ll tear your nigger ass off! – seems like Pino is enjoying it though
– the boom box is no more and the silence is deafening – I just killed your fucking radio
– Gary that’s enough – 3 times – SHUT THE FUCK UP – GET THE FUCK UP ASSHOLE! as radio rahim drops dead to the ground
– they didn’t have to kill the boy…as Mookie looks at Sal and his sons – walks over to grab the garbage can
– Da Mayor begs the crowd for calm – someone is gonna get hurt
– Sal finally realizes that he doesn’t understand the community – mookie grabs the garbage can and throws it into the pizzeria – starting the riot
– BURN IT DOWN BURN IT DOWN – mother sister as the camera shows a cracked frank sinatra picture burning
– I BLACK – WE THE SAME – says the korean shop keeper
– back come the cops again along with the fire department – but this time they have the riot patrol
– PEOPLE PLEASE DISPERSE! you’ve had your warning as the fire hoses are turned on the crowd – now they try to fight the fire fighters
– NOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooo – mother sister wails as she collapses in da mayor’s arms
– smiley puts up a picture of malcolm x and martin luther king on the the burnt out wall
– prologue with samuel l jackson – overture soundtrack overtop his speech
– are we gonna live together – together are we gonna live?
– mother sister and da mayor are finally speaking to one another and look down on the block
– my salary is two fitty a week as Sal throws the bills into mookie’s face
– you keep it, you keep it, no YOU KEEP IT – I don’t believe it
– “Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral…” – martin luther king jr.
– “I don’t even call it violence when it’s self defense, I call it it intelligence” – Malcolm X
– final shot in the film is the black and white picture of malcolm X and martin luther king shaking hands and smiling