Tough Times

Lenore had a rough week. She had been experiencing some stomach pain the past month and the doctor said she should get a CAT scan ASAP. She went to the emergency room and despite some incompetence that resulted in her waiting FOREVER a CAT scan was done and a mass was found. She had surgery on Monday to remove two tumors, one small, one the size of a orange. The pathology results are somewhat still a mystery but it is pretty clear that she will have to go through chemo again. The only upside to all this is that we get to add another picture to the family Scars & Scabs page (Viewer discretion advised, seriously). Get well soon, Lenore.

I had a busy Saturday. Dana performed at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and so I tagged along to make sure my audio and video worked and to participate in the post-performance discussion. I had to speak into a microphone and everything! Nam June Paik's nephew Ken Hakuta (some may know him as Dr. Fad and the inventor of the wacky wall walkers) was there and he very casually told stories about his uncle (whose videos we used in the piece). After the talk someone actually came up to me to talk about the video and music. I almost felt like a professional.

When we got to the theater the museum had put down a floor covering for dance but it was in terrible shape - dangerously loose and rumpled. So the dancers and the crew got busy to smooth it down and tape it. No lighting person was provided even though they have state of the art equipment so Dana ran the lights on (he's taken a lighting course so he knew somewhat what he was doing). Despite all these difficulties it all went well and we had an audience of about 200 people. Most stayed for the talk.

Here's some footage of the dancers at work:

My dance friend Brooke and I went by Dana's house for a little get together with Ken Hakuta (he told more stories of his uncle and some of the famous people he has met like Yoko Ono) and then headed out to the far suburbs of Virginia to the ladies -only dance party organized by my Pakistani work friend Saima's sister and some of her friends. Many of the women (who were predominantly Muslim) arrived all covered up in scarves but within minutes of arriving were on the dance floor shakin' their groove thang. The shades of the rec center were drawn, the french doors were covered with black plastic, no cameras or alcohol was allowed. The dress ranged from conservative traditional to modern "western" cocktail dressy. There were women from ages 12 - 70. They played American, Hindi and Arabic music. The DJ was actually the girlfriend of a real DJ who specialized in World party music. The party was OK. If there had been other rooms at the rec center or a break in the music Brooke and I would have been able to talk to the women that Saima tried to introduce us to. It was just too loud to make any sort of personal connection. Brooke and I tried to do some of our Bollywood dance moves but were had trouble remembering them and no one else was doing them. It was still interesting though.

It's Over

For the last couple of months I have had my nose in my computer working on a music collage and video for my dance friend Dana's performance. I used 3 music pieces by Ryuichi Sakamoto, manipulating the songs by extracting parts to be used in later and previous sections and adding voices by the the dancers. The videos we used were very early (1960s) pieces by Korean video artist Nam June Paik. Dana was given access to all of Paik's films by Paik's nephew and we were free to do anything we wanted with them. I put in a lot of hours on this but I think it paid off. Everything turned out well. We haven't seen any newspaper reviews yet but Austin, William, Lyla and Tracy liked it.

Here's an excerpt from the music.

Here are some pictures from the performance taken by a professional photographer, not me.

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New Video Page

I have a sinus infection so I've had some extra time on my hands. I organized all my little and big videos on one page and then made a new slideshow from Christmas.

Video/TV Update

I have been busy working on a very short graphic for Dana's dance performance - lots of hours for 15 seconds of video but that's how these things work. It's a process. Here's the shortened version:

A recent video chat shot:

Video Snapshot of Lynda Rock 6

I have been mostly underwhelmed by the new Fall TV shoes. Let's go through them:

* Pushing Daisies - This had a lot going for it. The creator of Wonderfalls and Dead Like Me worked on this but it seems like the network was not interested in "edgy", only "whimsy". And the narrator spoon feeds the plot points. He does not allow you to really analyze what's going on for yourself.

* Big Shots - Just more men behaving badly and not very well.

*** Dirty Sexy Money - A nice guy replaces his father as the lawyer for a very rich family. He takes the job because he suspects someone in this large dysfunctional family knows something about his father's suspicious death. Somewhat interesting but I am not sure if it's interesting enough.

** Chuck - It's not bad but there was way too much hype for something that's not so original

** Bionic Woman -ditto.

** Journeyman - It's OK.

* Moonlight - It's OK.

** Cane - It's OK. Powerful Hispanic family in the sugar cane industry battling a non-Hispanic family in the sugar cane industry. It is nice to see Nestor Carbonell who played Bat Manuel on the Tick get good work but I don't think I'll be tuning in regularly.

*** The Reaper - A 21 year old kid finds out his parents sold his soul to the devil before he was born and now he has to do the devil's work, which involves sending escapees from hell back to hell. I like it!

**** Aliens In America - A family takes in an exchange student because the mom thinks a young Scandinavian teenager will help her son be popular at school. But instead of a boy from Norway they get a devout but funny Pakistani boy. We've seen only one episode but it looks promising.

*** Life - A cop spends time in jail for a crime he did not commit. He gets out of jail, gets a hefty settlement and gets his job back. The show is nothing new but is a bit fun and quirky.

Car talk

Today Joe and I were doing our Rockville shopping run - bike shop, container store, frame store, grocery shopping. We get in and out of the car a lot on these trips. In one parking lot I chatted for over ten minutes with a nice Chinese woman about my car. I gave her the usual information - price, MPG, and showed her the trunk. She is a journalist for a newspaper published for the DC Chinese community. Before we said goodbye she gave us some tips on getting discounts at local Chinese restaurants. She says she really wants a Mini but her husband is very skeptical.

Shah Rukh Khan appeared on the front page of the Washington Post Arts section in a bathtub. Apparently there is an unauthorized biography out about SRK. I am there.

My uncle Austin sent me an drawing for my birthday. I am honored.

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When I was on vacation on Edisto my parents' car was hit by a flying tire that flew off a truck that passed them. My parents missed their party and they will be without their "good car" for a while but other than that everything turned out OK.

Here are two pictures. The fireman that was directing traffic reminded me of Vito of the Sopranos.
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And we've been doing 4-way video chatting on Sunday nights. It's not perfect - there are echos and audio sync issues - but as you can see it is still fun.

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise and Then Some

So I stopped by Lyla's Friday night and no one answered the door so I let myself in. There sat Lenore, Paula and my parents. What a surprise! Brooke stopped by which was great. And then after birthday pizza, Austin's red velvet cake and Mom's poppy seed cake Lynda appears. The next day when I think there can't be anymore surprises Tree from Long Island shows up on our trip to the Torpedo Factory art galleries in Alexandria. Sunday there were no surprises but we had a very nice day at the pool with Lorella and a wonderful dinner at Equinox with Woody. Take a look at some pics.

Some highlights:

  • A refrigerator full of Brooklyn lager at Lyla and Tracy's house
  • Entertaining the pool-goers with synchronized swimming with Lynda and Tree. It was fun to play at the pool - a nice change from just doing laps.
  • Chatting up an artist at the Torpedo factory even though I had kind of insulted her by asking if she had a connection to another artist in the building. Some of her work was quite nice.
  • Watching the sad but highly entertaining final episode of Season 2 of The Wire
  • Austin and Shelly's song about ME


We were near an Apple store today so we popped in to look at the iPhone. It is pretty impressive and once you figured out some basics it is very intuitive. The sales guys were there to answer questions but were not pushy. I imagine the thing just sells itself. I may buy one one day.

I have had several dreams lately of going around and locking doors and windows. One dream took place in an old house we used to live in, the other in a house I was not familiar with. There was no real anxiety associated with the dreams and I have not quite figured it out what they mean.

Here are two little videos I took recently. One is the fife and drum group at the July 4th parade we ran into on our bike ride. The other is a parade of one blue dog who works Connecticut Ave. in front of the local pet store. It's always a treat to see him/her while we eat sandwiches across the street at Schkotszky's.

Triathalon, The Tour and YouTube

Today I did my first mini-triathalon of the summer - a 12 mile bike ride, a half mile swim and a 3 block walk to Schlotszky's for sandwiches. It was great.

The Tour de France has started and I am very interested to see what happens. There are a couple of good riders that I like left after 2 years of doping scandal to root for. Allez Tom Boonen! Allez Jens Voigt and the whole CSC Team! Allez George Hincapie!

Although i understand the appeal of youtube i always groan when I see a youtube link because i know that the quality of the video i want to see will be crap. Which is too bad because I have been thinking it would be nice for Dana to have some videos on youtube. Well after seeing that some youtube videos actually do look good I did some investigating and found a page that has suggestions for good quality video. youtube takes what you send it and re-encodes it to their format, size, etc so this if you can upload a video that is close to youtube's format you have a better chance of good quality.

So after about 15 minutes of playing around and 8 hours of rendering I uploaded my first youtube video. It seems to look better (less choppy) if you actually go to the site but here it is embedded:

Catch Up

I am slowly reconstructing my blog. You'll see that May is there and Feb, March and April will be there soon.

So what did we miss? Joe and I went to the CSC Invitational Cycling race that was held June 2 across the river in Arlington.The riders do a 1km circuit 100 times. The beginning and the ending circuits are very exciting but the 50 or so in the middle, not so much. So we went walked around a bit and ate lunch at Baja Fresh. Here's a movie of the cyclists going by. The sounds of all those fast bikes traveling so close together was pretty cool.

Last weekend was Spoleto and the big birthday party. Mom, Lynda, Graeme and I went to see Philip Glass's latest work Book of Longing which was marvelous. We met Glass and several of his musicians and singers at an after-performance party - didn't talk much with Glass but had nice conversations with the other performers.

Before the performance Glass talked with a local critic on the set of his new work. It was interesting to hear about his background, his teachers (Ravi Shankar!), his work with young musicians and the artistic development of Book of Longing.

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Here are pictures from the very elegant after performance party.

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Now to the party. I made a little video and for now you have several choices. Below you should see a small 2.9MB version.

Your other choices (all Quicktime) are:

Contest winner

One of our favorite museums is the National Building Museum (you may remember this little movie). Joe became a member and so he gets a magazine every couple of months. In the first issue he got there was a contest. Identify this picture:
Joe guessed it immediately and he was one of 4 readers to win. He correctly guessed it was the underside of arecibo radio telescope dish in Puerto Rico. There was no prize just a mention the next issue of the magazine.

Some more movie/DVD reviews
The Good Shephard is a movie about the beginnings of the CIA and one man's initiation into the world of espionage. It is a good story spanning World War II through the Bay of Pigs. It is a bit complicated but well laid out. Recommended.

Something New For The Resume

For the last 6 months I have been working on a series of images that were to be used as projections during my friend Dana's new dance work. I have been editing fun home videos for the last 5 years but this was serious. I could ruin someone's 15 year career as a dancer/choreographer if I did not do it right. Well last night was the performance and as far as I know Dana's good reputation is still intact.

The process was interesting. The piece was partly inspired by a world war II love story by Marguerite Duras. I searched the National Archives web site for images of war and death and planes. I video-taped the dancers at one point and did a lot of Google image searches. I put together a lot of little videos for Dana to look at and eventually we decided to use the still images from the National Archives, images of telegrams I found on Google, and some film clips of war planes flying in formation and of typewriters being typed on. The images appeared at the beginning and then towards the end of the piece totalling about 7 minutes. The whole piece was about 75 minutes long.

A highlight of the process was going to the National Archives storage facility to scan and print the original photos. I am now an official reseacher and I have a picture ID that is good for 2 years to prove it.

Here are some fuzzy pictures of the performance with some of my images in the background. I took these during dress rehearsal.

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And here's a fun picture from the snowfall a couple of weeks ago.

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The Reviews Are In

There were two reviews of Dana's concert last week, one in the Washington Post and the other in a Dance magazine called Dance View Times. Both showed that the reviewers thought alot about the piece acknowledging the complexity of the piece and the beauty of the dance movement. My images were mentioned in both, which is cool. I have been asked to show some of the images so here they are. I am sorry they are so big. They will take a while to download.
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These are the opening images that introduce the theme of love and loss and war (9.9MB). Dancers appear onstage with actual old typewriters as this sequence starts. (6.9MB) These are first and last images from the last section of the dance depicting war. (7.7MB)

So when we were growing up we had things we were identified with and that was what we got as gifts. Lenore's thing was pigs, lynda's was mushrooms, mine was owls but that somehow changed into frogs. So I still get frog-theme gifts and sometimes I buy them for myself especially cards. One morning this week I noticed, somewhat to my horror, a "gift" deposited next to my car. I have no idea how it got there. It seems to be made of plastic.

frog in garage

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted.....

So I am back from a week and 2 days at the beach. It was great seeing my family and David, Susan, Lutz and their kids - friends I have had since I lived in Atlanta. It's great that we have stayed in touch.

Some things that made me happy:

  • Being able to watch the entire final stage of the Tour de France with Lynda and Mom and sometimes Dad.
  • Morning walks with Dad and then with the gang.
  • Renting a two person kayak and toodling around the tidal basin. It was so cool being low in the marsh with the herons and jumping fish and shrimp.
  • Watching our Assassin Film Festival - The Bourne Supremecy, Grosse Pointe Blank, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, The Professional (AKA Leon).
  • Having Andrea and Lane join me as guest paddlers on Lynda's Dragon Boat team practice. And knowing the rest of the gang were supporting us on land.
  • My philosophical discussion on the humor of comedienne Sarah Silverman with Lane and Andrea
  • Dinner at the restaurant Coast with Lynda after paddling. Great drinks, great food.
  • Watching old reruns of the TV game show The Match Game with Hunter and Andrea
  • Catching up and talking music with everyone
  • Hiking at the ACE Basin with David and Andrea. The mosquitos were unrelenting but we saw a beautifully vivid redheaded woodpecker, an unusual squirrel (maybe a fox squirrel), large lizards, wild pigs and white-tailed deer.
  • Bartering with Mom: I changed and calibrated the battery in her iBook in exchange for her doing the gross and brutal initial cleaning of the crabs we caught in the traps.
  • Cooking and eating and drinking.
  • Shopping the local Edisto tourist shops with Lynda, Lutz and Sandy and actually finding some linen pants that fit.
  • Lynda and I trying to get Lutz, Andrea and Hunter addicted to shark teeth hunting. We may have succeeded.
  • The perfect ocean water temperature

Some pictures present and past:

Scenes from Edisto Beach 2006 Scenes from Ocean Isle 2004 Scenes from Ocean Isle 2003

Vacation video

Yesterday Joe and I went to Rockville to have lunch and do some shopping. We first went to a pizza/sub place but it was unusually full of diners. We found out later that there was a pizza eating contest going on. We then headed across Rockville Pike where there is a noodle place and a burrito place we like. As we approached the row of restaurants there were fire engines parked nearby and firemen on the sidewalk. The restaurants seemed to be open but we decided it was a no-go since the burrito place was filled with smoke and the noodle place was crowded and the children to adult ratio was just too high.

So we drove back across Rockville Pike to the Chinese restaurant right next to the pizza place. Luckily this worked out for us and it was cool because two ladies speaking Latvian sat down at the table next to us. I had a nice little conversation with them in English. As Joe and I ate I tried to come up with the Latvian words to tell them I was in Latvia last year but I could not remember the past tense of the word "to be" so I gave up. I did say "See you later" in Latvian as we left. As we were eating I also realized that I had unconsciously ordered a Chinese radish pancake-like thing because it reminded me of Latvian food.

Here are two Quicktime videos from the Edisto trip. I am using a Quicktime conversion that may not work on PCs so please let me know if there is a problem and I will try a different conversion method. You gotta see these videos.

Paddling with the Dragon Boat team (4.5MB Quicktime)

Crab Collecting (3.3MB Quicktime)