Friday, December 18, 2009

A Visit to the Annenberg Space for Photography

For several months I have been hearing about the new photography gallery called The Annenberg Space for Photography. I’d also heard that there was an exhibit up of the works of Walter Iooss and Neil Leifer, two veteran Sports Illustrated sports photographers. I’m not big on sports photography anymore, since I don’t follow organized sports, but I do know how to do sports photography and more importantly I know greatness. And these guys are great. Of course “great” in photography often goes according to the “f/8 and be there!” rule. Neil Leifer may fit into that category with his persistence, work ethic and willingness to shoot anything and everything, but Walter Iooss has a more artistic attitude and bent. And I think both of them communicate this well in the video interviews that accompany the several hundred photos.

One does not have to be a sports fan to appreciate the unique beauty and appeal in these photos, but for those who are sports fans and not photography aficionados, they too will appreciate the talent and vision expressed here.

I would guess that there are probably about 100 photos by each photographer in the entire exhibit. Many of these photos are prints on the walls, or video stills on the many monitors that are also on the walls, but most of the photos are best seen on the giant screen video monitor in the central Digital Gallery. This display intersperses the photographs with a long interview with the photographers and several of their many subjects.

For example, we see several photos of Jackie Joyner-Kersee including a series Walter shot with her, and these are interspersed with JJK talking about being an athlete and working with the photographer, and what the photos mean to her both as an observer of them as well as the subject that was being observed by the photographs, and by us the viewer. She is the most expressive of the people interviewed, which includes other athletes as well as colleagues and editors at SI. One thing I learned was that Walter Iooss was the guy who started the “tradition” of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition when, in the sports doldrums of late winter he suggested shooting some models in swimsuits in the tropics. That idea would certainly come from Walter - one can tell just from watching and hearing him that he enjoys life.

Both Leifer and Iooss started with SI as teenagers in the late 50s. I was pleased to hear both Walter and one of the older editors give credit to the photographers who preceded them and taught them, and helped them along. One of these was John Zimmerman, who I had the honor and pleasure to work with a few times as he was transitioning from semi-retirement to fully retired. I am not of the caliber of Walter Iooss - or John Zimmerman - but it was nice to hear a photographer of the stature of WI give credit to JZ. One night on location with John he talked about his experience shooting for SI, especially in the tropics and the wilds of Africa, and what it was like to work with Walter and Julie and many of the people he worked for. It would be nice to someday find an exhibition of JZ’s work.

I took the small camera with me and though I didn’t take any pictures of the photos on exhibit, I took a couple of exterior shots of the gallery’s sign, and one interior shot of the back wall of Wally’s Cafe. This is a small space inside the gallery that really looks like a modern kitchen, though in the photo you can see that the back wall has a nice collection of books and wine.

The rest of the gallery is essentially wide hallway spaces with prints and monitors, and a room with a large monitor, all arrayed around the main digital gallery. The whole space is smaller than you might think given the name of Annenberg and the location in Century City, but the smallish size keeps the feel of the place intimate. There is some cutting edge technology (for mid 2009), including the main display in the main gallery and a small promo space with a pair of Microsoft table computers. (These aren’t tablet computers, but the coffee tables that are actually computer monitors with touch screens that allow you to move the 10 or so display photos around on the monitor, to orient them and to resize them. (You’ll get the full effect within about two minutes.) One other piece of great technology is the programming that leads the main show, the interview and photo show on the main screen. I don’t know what program the designers used, but the show is very good and whoever put together the animation and production was obviously professional.

The photo at the top is the best picture I got of the exterior sign, and the interior space of Wally’s cafe is on my Flickr page. I also took some pictures of the big buildings that make up the Culver Plaza, and some of these are interesting too with the reflections of the late afternoon three days before winter solstice. Take a look at them.

Update: I forgot to mention that, in addition to the main exhibit of Iooss and Leifer, there was a small video exhibit running in the Workshop Area that included The Art of Surf Photography, which featured Brewer, and The Science of Hitting, which featured a former journeyman major league catcher (that I’d never heard of). The piece on Brewer and surf photography was kind of interesting, especially since he has been doing surf photography since before the short board renaissance, and has pictures that cover the timeline since then, with action surf and studio shots of the people.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

PC company economics, July 2009

A few weeks ago the announcements of quarterly (and some annual) quants came out for public companies, including the major software and PC companies.

This report cycle was significant because it was the first year in which Microsoft reported a loss. And this loss was significant at $1 billion. From the Financial Times:

The world’s biggest software company said revenues had declined 17 per cent amid falling global demand for new PCs and servers. The news follows a spate of more positive earnings news from Apple, Intel and IBM.

Microsoft also sounded a far more cautious note about the prospects for a recovery in the second half of 2009.

“It’s going to be difficult for the rest of the year,” said Chris Liddell, chief financial officer. “We’re really still not sure we’re out of the woods.”

While the software company had been expected to suffer more than other leading tech companies, given its heavier exposure to cyclically volatile PC and server sales, the extent of the decline was unexpected and its shares fell by nearly 8 per cent in after-market trading and were off by 10 per cent in early trading on Friday.

The setback in the fourth quarter of Microsoft’s fiscal year caps the worst year in its 23-year history as a public company, and the first in which it has seen a revenue decline.

Broader trends in the technology markets have also hurt the company. Netbooks, the small, low-cost laptops that have been the one bright spot this year, now account for 11 per cent of all PC sales, according to Microsoft.

However, it receives much less for the version of the Windows operating system shipped with these machines.

In spite of the latest signs of weakness, Microsoft’s shares are still up nearly 60 per cent since their low point in April on hopes that new product launches, including the Windows 7 operating system, will revive its fortunes next year.

Mr Liddell said that Microsoft was not anticipating any further big declines from current levels of spending by its customers, and sees “the potential for improvement” in 2010.

A 29 per cent plunge in revenues from Microsoft’s core Windows PC division, to $3.11bn, aggravated the decline in the latest quarter. Microsoft was also affected by an upgrade guarantee that allows PC buyers to switch to Windows 7 when it goes on sale in October.

Heavy cost-cutting made up for some of the shortfall, with Microsoft slicing 10 per cent from its operating expenses compared with a year before. But net income fell 29 per cent to $3.045bn, or 34 cents a share.

There are some odd factors in here.

  1. Intel - which makes processors for nearly all the PC manufacturers - did well.
  2. IBM did well, though many - and perhaps most - of the servers it sells run linux.
  3. Apple, which is a direct competitor of Microsoft, did very well.
In fact Apple had their best non-holiday quarter ever, making $1.3 billion on profit.

So Microsoft’s financial and market experts say that the whole industry is down due to the recession, but in fact it is Microsoft’s business that is down, and forecast to be negative for some period in the future.

This is starting to look like those years in the auto industry when the American car makers said things were bad, but the Japanese car makers did well continuously.

In both cases, the problem is not consumer or corporate sales as much as it is management ignorance. Microsoft has a problem, but management wants to lay the blame somewhere else rather than actually examine the problem analytically.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Twilight Dance Series 2009

When I finally restarted swim workout in earnest (every Tuesday and Thursday 7:30-8:30) it meant I had to give up some evenings. I’ve been well disciplined in going to workout every time for about a month now - and that means that I’ve missed the entire Twilight Dance Series on the Santa Monica Pier thusfar this summer.

That means that I’ve missed Joan Baez, Sgt. Garcia, the Squirrel Nut Zippers and Thomas Mapfumo. (I’ve heard music of three of these four and like what I’ve heard. The description of Sgt. Garcia made them sound good too.)

But this coming Thursday I’ll be skipping swim practice to go see Dave Alvin and his group The Guilty Women playing live.

And three weeks from that event I’ll be skipping swim practice again to see Lila Downs.

Mmm, these will be fun. :-)

The Spectacle of Religions

I was walking back from the beach (morning surfcheck) and nearly got run over by the annual Festival of Chariots, or as we local residents call it - the Krishna parade.

Well okay, I wasn’t really “nearly run over” because the people and the carriages move at a slow walking pace, but the parade was about to start at Pico and Main St., less than 100 yards from where I crossed Main. So I decided to wait a few minutes and watch the spectacle as it passed by.

This was the third time I’ve seen the parade, and at least the fifth time that I was aware of it as it went by. (I live close enough to Main St. that it’s easy to hear the amplified chanting and music.) It’s interesting to see the collection of people who are part of this religious celebration. There were several hundred people walking, dancing and chanting as they preceded and accompanied alongside the three “chariots” ((more like giant carriages). There are a few people riding along on the carriages: some are the transport workers who 1) pull on the traces to provide propulsion, 2) man the tiller or steering wheel, 3) operate the brakes. These workers ride on the bottom deck. There are also a number of people riding on the second deck with the avatar of the god that particular carriage is carrying.These appear to be the priests and priestesses who have literally achieved a higher plane and are allowed to approach the symbol of the god(dess).

The whole spectacle is quite entertaining due to its colorful clothing and decoration, the aforementioned walking, dancing and chanting, and especially the happiness and apparent peacefulness of the participants. A number of them, let’s call them the outwalkers, hand out little pamphlets and lollipops to bystanders. (I graciously declined taking any of these offered “gifts”.)

Unfortunately I hadn’t carried my camera with me on this surfcheck (small waves, but good for beginners) so I can’t show any original photos. (I remember taking pictures in the last year or two, but cannot find those photos.) However here are some other’s photos:

ChezLuna’s picture of the Santa Monica Festival’s three chariots
Flickr photos of all FoVs worldwide
Picasa photos of the Santa Monica FoV

Here is Wikipedia on the “International Society for Krishna Consciousness” or as they call themself, ISKCON.
Here is the city of Santa Monica’s listing of the Festival of Chariots, as well as other events on 2 August 2009.

Sadly, the main reason I really missed having my camera was the pathetic trailer following the whole parade. This guy, in his mid-50s and dressed like a Bubba with the ball cap, salt-and-pepper beard, and t-shirt stretched over a distended beer belly, was carrying a large banner for his own god. The beer belly supported a harness with a leather pocket that help up this ten foot tall banner that proclaimed “there’s only one god and that is JHC”, and a similar slogan on the flip side. This guy followed carefully about 20 feet behind the rest of the parade. When it slowed or stopped, he stopped. When he was stopped he would occasionally rotate his message so anybody watching could see the flip side’s slogan. When the happy paraders started up again, this somber sad man would also start again. He never took his eyes off what he was following, never looked around to see if anybody was watching him or his message. I don’t know if this was due to drilled-in parade ground discipline or because he didn’t want to let the heathen devils out of his sight. (Lest they sneak up on him and steal his soul, perhaps?)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Art Center Car Classic 2009

Last Saturday (18 July 2009) I went up to Art Center in Pasadena for the annual Car Classic (2009). The theme this year was “Land, Sea, Air“ and the show included not only cars but also some boats and planes. The planes on the ground were a Rutan Vari-Eze and a hang glider with a rigid wing and a propane powered jet. Actually, it wasn’t quite a jet but it wasn’t quite a rocket either. I did not get a photo - just didn’t think of it. There was a flyover by some Ezes, and about 5 flyovers by some Yaks.

I don’t take nearly as many car photos these days as I once did, but there are about 50 pictures from the show. It’s surprising how much photographic situational awareness I have lost since I was a pro. I didn’t take many photos, and didn’t get many placards for identifying the cars that I did shoot.

That being said, I’m moving forward (albeit slowly) on my project to digitize many of my photos from when I was a pro photographer. I have recovered my light box so I’ll be able to review and choose transparencies to digitize, and more importantly I’ve committed some money to a digitizing service. A few weeks ago I signed up with Scan Cafe, and when I get a few hundred pictures chosen I’ll be sending this selection to the company for my first batch scan. This will be a test to see how good the service is and whether they return all my pictures in good condition. Timeliness is not a major factor as I evaluate the company and its service. However, I sure hope it is good. This could be the opportunity to digitize several thousand photos, including transparencies of all sizes from 35mm to 4x5, and eventually a smaller selection of B&W negatives.

All this won’t happen until I get a new computer though. The computer I am writing this on is only 4 years old, but it is so unable to handle the workload I subject it to that it really needs to be moved down to second tier service, as the laptop I occasionally use when I’m on the road. I’m planning on getting a new Mac Pro tower in September, when Apple releases the new OSX 10.6 operating system and possibly (hopefully!) some new Mac Pro models. But that is a topic for another post.

Monday, July 06, 2009

A Bad Week for Goldman Sachs

Just a few days after GS announces the biggest-ever bonuses to their staff, they get the following...

Matt Taibbi attacks in inimitable Taibbi style. (IMHO Taibbi is the new Hunter Thompson, because he is such a scourge to the corrupt powers that be.)

Then Frank Rich piles on in his smooth j'accuse way by equating Goldman with Bernie Madoff but worse, and explaining why John Dillinger the bank robber was such a hero to the American public during a major economic depression - then and now. (Hint: GS had a somewhat-invisible hand in both. And not a small invisible hand, but a big one.)

And then Goldman is forced to publicly admit through their attorney in the NY district attorney's office that their secret computer trading code was not only stolen and released to the open internet, but is used to "unfairly" "manipulate" the markets! Of course it’s unfair manipulation when somebody other than Goldman does it - but if they do it, well, that’s different.

I love this!

PS: Matt Taibbi is this generation's Hunter Thompson.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Big Brother

"Big Brother is watching." Today (8 June 2009) marks sixty years since Nineteen Eighty Four was published.

Thanks Mr. Orwell for the warning. Too bad we haven't done much about it.

Friday, June 05, 2009

WGA seminar: Movies That Matter

I went to this WGAw inspirational seminar today. It was useful in that it helped inspire me again and a bit, and was entertaining to watch and listen to a couple of the writers who appeared and spoke, i.e. Paul Haggis and Billy Ray. However, there was not much new material for me other than Billy Ray’s Venn diagram of screenwriters and studios, which is mostly self-evident but was humorous nonetheless. Anyway, my notes…

I attended the opening session, then sessions 3 and 1, and skipped the final session. (By then I had a headache that was bad enough to massively distract me from the discussion, and I can always watch it later on DVD in the WGA library.)

The theme of the seminar was “Theme”, finding it and expressing it. The day started with this but these professional writers generally agreed it was too difficult and too dangerous to establish a theme and then write around it. By “difficult” they universally acknowledged that if they had a theme going into a writing project then it was rearranged or redefined by the end of the project. By “dangerous” they all meant that it is impossible to state the literal theme to the studio at the beginning, and it must be slipped covertly into the story so the studio doesn’t recognize it. Also, overtly stating the theme was too heavy handed, and would be too obvious and amateurish.

Jane Anderson: Humor and objectivity will save you (when you get in a spot from which you can’t get out).
Billy Ray: Don’t think of it as art, think of it as work.
Billy Ray: If you do a great job in storytelling, THEN you will make a statement.
Billy Ray: The story’s scenes and dialogue should be loaded with subtext. This is what the actors use to act with, and it is communicated to the audience.
Billy Ray on “notes”: When people read your story and give notes, listen to their questions and their problems but not to their solutions. The solution they tell you is probably the solution to/in/from another movie.
Billy Ray: Start with a story idea, a character idea, or a theme idea.
Billy Ray and all the others: The stories you have in your head that you want to write are a much larger number and span of subjects than the studios want to make. The studios look at what is in the market right now (profitable or not) and want to make those. So currently, in Summer 2009, they only want comedies and some action movies and anything with Will Smith or written by Judd Apatow, and anything that is an existing franchise, preferably with capes. (Update: A look to McG’s wikipedia entry shows that he is currently making an update to 20,000 Leagues under the sea, with Will Smith.)
Billy Ray: They are saying they’ll never make dramas. But the business cycles, and dramas will come back.
Paul Haggis: Talked about how much research he did to construct the characters for Crash.
Paul Haggis: Also wrote the Bond movies Casino Royale, and the first draft of Quantum of Solace - but then the strike happened. He turned over the draft to the producers and they went into production. When the movie came out he hardly recognized anything in it. Robert Nelson Jacobs asked him “So who rewrote it?” and his reply was a shrug of the shoulders and they both looked at each other knowingly.

WRITING MOVIES THAT MATTER: Finding and Expressing Your Theme
Saturday June 6, 2009
Writers Guild of America, 7000 W. Third Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048

+ Paul Haggis (Million Dollar Baby, Crash)
- Winnie Holzman (TV – My So-Called Life, Once and Again)
+ Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry, Stop Loss)
~ Robert Nelson Jacobs (Chocolat, Waterhorse: Legend of the Deep)
~ Bruce Joel Rubin (Ghost, The Last Mimzy)
~ Robin Schiff (TV – Ten Things I Hate About You)
+ Tom Schulman (Dead Poets Society)
+ Robin Swicord (Little Women, The Jane Austen Book Club)
~ Dan Jinks (Producer -- American Beauty, Big Fish, Milk etc.)
- Jane Anderson (It Could Happen to You, The Baby Dance, Normal, The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio)
+ Billy Ray (Shattered Glass, Breach, State of Play)
~ James Uhls (Fight Club, Jumper)
+ Nick Kazan (Frances, Reversal of Fortune, Fallen, Bicentennial Man)
~ Stanley Weiser (Wall Street, W.)
- John Sacret Young (China Beach, Thanks of a Grateful Nation)
~ Albert Berger (producer - Election, Little Miss Sunshine, Little Children)
~ Nathan Kahane (producer - Juno, Stranger Than Fiction)

9:00 am: Registration, continental breakfast
A panel of experienced, produced writers will discuss in depth the stories that matter to them, and how they view their job as storytellers. Is it possible for movies to change the culture or do they just reflect it?

Jane Anderson, Dan Jinks, Nick Kazan, Billy Ray, James Uhls Moderator: Bruce Joel Rubin

11:30 am Coffee break
Three break-out groups, each led by two or more experienced writers: Choose ONE group. Panelists will engage in a more intimate discussion with smaller groups. You have two precious hours to talk to the world. What are you going to say? What matters to you? How do you allow your deeper self to break through into your writing? Explore strategies for discovering what you really want to say.

(1) Bruce Joel Rubin, James Uhls, Robert Nelson Jacobs
(2) Jane Anderson, Nick Kazan, John Sacret Young
(3) Winnie Holzman, Tom Schulman, Billy Ray

1:30 pm Lunch Break
Three break-out groups, each led by two or more experienced writers: Choose ONE group. Panelists will engage in a more intimate discussion with smaller groups. What’s the difference between ideas, concepts and themes? How do you layer themes into your scripts? How do you get the audience to feel your theme without having to state it overtly? What makes an audience care?

(1) Robert Nelson Jacobs, Paul Haggis, Albert Berger
(2) Winnie Holzman, Kimberly Peirce, Tom Schulman
(3) Robin Swicord, Stanley Weiser, John Sacret Young

4:00 pm Coffee Break
Identifying studio execs or production companies who share your passion. How does one navigate the system while holding on to why you wanted to write the movie in the first place? Can a movie that matters still make money? Can you make a tentpole that matters? How do you get what matters to you made?

Albert Berger, Paul Haggis, Nathan Kahane, Kimberly Peirce, Robin Swicord, Stanley Weiser Moderator: Winnie Holzman

6:00 pm – 7:30 pm Wine and Cheese Reception in the Shavelson-Webb Library

Friday, May 29, 2009

NPR stories and a poem

In honor of this morning’s NPR stories on cybersecurity, a monster software company spending huge money on a third rate search site nobody uses, and poetry about economic meltdowns, a haiku:

OS insecure
a hundred mil spent on hype
loser search engine

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Surf today

I have to admit this is my first day in the water since coming back from Costa Rica - nearly three months ago. Of course the January-February-March-April part of the year is about the worst in California for surf - not to mention that the water is cold... and I had just returned from warm water!

But I’ve been antsy to get into the water lately, and with warm Santa Ana winds blowing offshore and a 1’ - 3’ west swell coming through (see below), there’s no better time than the present. High tide was about 6:50 am and I should have gone out about then or soon thereafter, but instead I got some work done on the computer (organizing TODO list, planning tasks, etc.). I didn’t actually get into the water until about 11:30 am, about an hour before low tide.

It was kind of closed out, and with the tide being low these close-out waves were breaking in hip-deep water, but I got a few waves anyway. I also fell off a few times because I’m so out of shape. I stayed out for about :45 minutes, and had a good time.

Some observations and events:

There were a zillion ladybugs on the beach, flying around, sitting on the sand, landing on boards and other items. They weren’t swarming as I’ve seen at Ladybug Camp in the Los Padres National Forest, but there were more than I’ve seen at any other time and place.

Also, I met a woman in the water who was congenial and a fairly good surfer for a beginner. It turns out she started a local woman’s surf group, and has turned that into a MeetUp group, so I’m going to pass the info on to a female colleague who may be interested.

Monday, March 23, 2009

5 Stages of Grief

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross wrote a thesis that humans deal with death and dying in five stages - the fourth being depression and the last being acceptance.

Paul Krugman has read the plan by the Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to reinflate the bubble and writes that he is in despair. I will equate his despair to depression, but I have to disagree with him. I am now in the acceptance phase.

It is over - the patient is officially terminally ill. In fact, the officials have made the patient terminally ill, now we are only awaiting the death.

By putting thousands of billions more dollars into the “toxic assets” (read: mortgages on millions of overpriced homes) the Secretary and his advisors and minions seem to think they can reinflate the bubble that just recently burst, and restore everything to the way it was. They’ve even said that their goal is to attempt to restore those “toxic assets” to their “true market value”. But what if, just maybe, those TAs were already falling back down to their true market values, and this massive infusion of cash will go in the inflator part of the balloon and flow just as fast right out the rupture in the balloon that caused the whole thing to collapse in the first place.

However, it looks certain that Wall St. will be able to profit from this. So it will be another massive transfer of money from the taxpayer to the banker.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Blogroll Changes

I’ve been meaning to winnow the blogroll list - short though it may be - and finally got around to it. Currently I am of a mind to link to personal weblogs more than mass metablogs (some exceptions for those I refer to or read a lot). Also dropped links that are now dead or taken behind a wall.

Midnight Meandering (He took the weblog private, so it’s useless to link to it anymore.)
Nonlinear Truths (Tom Is Gone, and his weblog has been taken down.)
Freakonomics (They have enough linkers already. Plus I don’t read it all that often. Ironically, the post that is current on their weblog as I write this asserts that there is no such thing as too many posts or links, and as they add up they have increased effects on viewers. But I’m still dropping them.)
Arms Control Wonk (I don’t read this much anymore. But it is still important.)

David Pu’u Photography (Really beautiful photography, technically excellent, heartfelt, emotional, gorgeous beaches, waves and sunsets, and good people photos too.)
Charlie Stross (I’ve read about 7 of his books, and liked them all. Am waiting patiently for the next in the Merchant Princes series.)
Jamais Cascio (I first encountered him at Singularity Summit 2007. He made sense in his thinking about the future.)
Thomas Ricks (astute observer of foreign policy and military affairs)
TidBITs (This is more of a Mac news website than a weblog or metablog, but it has useful information very often and is a community I participate in, so it is included.)
Daring Fireball (observation and clear opinion)
Real Climate (The sine qua non of climate weblogs, unparalleled. And if you’re going to argue that you don’t “believe in” GWCC, just stfu and stfu. You are wrong. Do you still believe in a flat earth? And that the sun revolves around the earth? Get a grip - the science cannot be denied.)
French Word a Day (Learn some vocabulary and some culture from an American expat living in a small town in France; and she finally has an RSS feed!)
The Casbah (online radio and podcast, from KSYM in San Antonio, 80 miles west of SXSW)
Spouting Off (Mark Gold, D.Env. and president of Heal the Bay about water and especially about water quality, from local Santa Monica to worldwide)
Paul Ferguson aka FergDawg (Quid custodiet ipsos custodes?)

How Do You Remember Someone When They Have Been Erased?

I went to the weblog to do* a little clean up and organization, particularly of the blogroll.

There are a few I’ve decided to remove, and I want to add a few. While there I checked on the link to a close friend of mine who died exactly two years ago today. I wanted to read some of his words, and remember him a bit. When he died so young (49) it was a sad day for his family, and certainly it was worse for them than for me. But more sadly, it appears that the presence he had left behind on the Web has been completely erased. He had a weblog that he wrote to, including poetry, musings, observations and the glimmerings of beginnings of stories he wanted to write. Those are now all gone, and don’t even appear in the Wayback Machine. He’s also gone from LinkedIn. A google search of him turns up nothing. This is sad too. The man wanted to write and was good at it, but was always so busy with life and taking care of his family that he never really got the time to write much more than what he left behind on the web, but now that too is gone.

*(No posts lately, though many items have built up to post about. More pleasant posts to come later.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Musical Entertainment at McCabe's Guitar Shop

I’ve been living in or near LA now for 20 years. This is a great city for entertainment, especially for music - but I always forget to check the venues I like for acts that I like.

Recently I subscribed to the email announcement list for McCabe’s Guitar Shop, an institution in Santa Monica that’s been around for 50 years. I’ve seen bands like The Cowboy Junkies (acoustic) and Al Stewart.

Last night I finally got to see an outstanding guitar player that I’ve wanted to see for decades (literally), David Lindley. And I was not disappointed. I’m not literate enough in musicology to be able to adequately describe what a virtuoso he is on stringed instruments, or how funny he is both in song and spoken word. His repertoire extends from LA folk-rock (or rock-folk) to bluegrass, to blues (John Lee Hooker style, and he does a mean imitation of JLH) to Pakistani traditional and even to atonal classical. I’m sure much it’s broader than that too. He played for us for only 90 minutes - enough for one show but probably not enough to show his various styles and influences. He played guitars, an oudh (sp?), a bazuki (sp?), a mandolin, and a long-necked mandolin-looking instrument that might have been a sitar. The room was full (about 150 people) and we all had a great time.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Surf Camp, Costa Rica

I got back from surf camp in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, exactly one week ago, and finally have my photos edited and tagged. The pictures are up in a Flickr set called Witch’s Rock Surf Camp. These are only the pictures - the text descriptions will follow in a few more days.

I spoke with a friend and former colleague at one of the big tv networks (I worked there for five years) and he’s going to help me put together a mashup of photos and videos contributed by all the guys on the trip. I’ll have that done in a couple of months and will post news of it here too.

From L to R (above): Dayton M., Fernando U., Tim D., Dan O’D, Andy L.