Friday, February 19, 2010

Jimi Hendrix: Valleys Of Neptune

It has been far too long since my last post, but I actually have a good excuse this time. In January The String Theory was asked to pitch boards for a music video for a soon to be released long lost album from Jimi Hendrix. String Theory got the gig, and for all of January (and into Feb!) we were animating like crazy.

Big Thanks to Charles Kline, Kamaur Bonfield, and Erik Winkowski, for working like madmen and making it shine. Big Thanks to all my friends at Sony Music and Legacy who took a chance and gave me a shot at a pretty big achievement. I hope you enjoy!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Long Walk

Today we woke up much earlier than usual (for a Saturday) and the weather was so beautiful, we decided to head out with Chalupa and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. We took a taxi down to Chambers Street, got a red Gatorade from the street vendor, and started walking. I haven't walked it since College, and last time I did it, I remember it being noisy and crowded and hot as Hell. Alicia had never done it, so we were all happy to be there.

Sure enough, it was crowded (difficult to walk Chalupa with her leash) and NOISY. The Bridge rattled and rumbled with traffic roaring by, and Chalupa didn't really seem to enjoy it very much. By 3/4 through, she was asking to be picked up and carried the rest of the way. It was very very sunny and hot, so, while I was fine, I think she was maybe just a bit overwhelmed.

Once we reached the far side (Brooklyn, of course) we sat in the grass under a shady tree for quite a while, just resting and enjoying the beautiful day.

Alicia had looked up some "famous" pizza place, so we walked there, only to find lines around the block! Forget it. We walked around in DUMBO, and enjoyed a little trek to Water Street, where we had a terrific lunch at The Water Street Restaurant and Lounge. I got the Fried Chicken sandwich (with delicious BBQ Mayonnaise? more like Honey, actually) while Alicia got Jerk Chicken Soft Tacos (with delicious Mango sauce) and a Polenta with Portabello Mushrooms. Chalupa sat on the bench at table level and enjoyed the sights and sounds, and hopped down to greet the gentlemen at the table next to us, while they proceeded to feed her French Fries for all of her tricks and dances she performed.

After Lunch, we got amazing home-made ice cream, and walked back towards the water, where we took the Water Taxi across the river to South Street Seaport (Chalupa hiding in our bag, since dogs were not allowed on the boat) and then a cab to the String Theory office, so we could cool down, rest, and I had to pick up a computer that was being repaired around the corner.

We are home, and relaxing watching TV, and I am sun burnt on my face.

A very good Day.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

One Down, One To Go

Sharon's surgury for her Detatched Retina went fine yesterday (although a bit more like "Grindhouse" or "Hostel" than she would have liked) and the Doctor was throughly optimistic and pleased with the outcome. Now she has to heal, and go back for followups, to assess how effective it was and if she would need any further procedures.

Apparently, for this type of eye surgery, the patient has to be AWAKE (I guess for the doctor to effectively see the eye and it's functions) so while she was NUMB, she was perfectly lucid and completely aware of what was going on IN HER EYE (for about 3 hours, no less!).

They would have had to hit ME over the head with a hammer, but SHE suffered it just fine.

She has a week and 2 days to heal, because next Thursday my Father has to go back in for his second round of surgery. I hope they got a good discount from buying their surgeries in bulk!

Monday, August 31, 2009


With Alicia away in North Carolina visiting Vivian and Jack, I spent the weekend fixing a computer at work (bad logic board!?!?), taking Chalupa to the vet (some topical medicine for her terrible and worsening rash, now all over her hears and little head), cleaning and doing laundry, and watching dumb movies. I rented a few horror movies (one being the absolutely fantastic "Motel Hell") and the crazy Will Ferrell movie "Step Brothers."

I have to admit, I expected nothing at all from this movie, and really only rented it because I got a free movie from our movie store (3 for 2 on Saturdays). I have not really liked many of Will Ferrel's latest movies (although fun premises, I just thought they were bloated and lazy) and don't even get me started on my detest for John C. Reily (of course Boogie Nights, Magnolia and Hard Eight are terrific, he as a character actor is pretty abominable... Dewy Cox, anyone?)

Imagine my surprise when I found myself, alone in the apartment, laughing out loud for about 2 hours straight. I had to rewind 2 or 3 times just to see/hear what I had missed while I was laughing so hard. I was blown away not by how silly or goofy it is (and BOY, it is) but really by how DARK and DISTURBING it is. It is very unsettling to see these 2 man-childs vie for dominance and attention from their exasperated parents. Imagine the Brady Bunch with 2 children rather than 6, and both of them are played by Baby Huey.

I loved it. I can't wait to watch it again. Maybe it was just my mood, but I sure needed a hearty laugh.

Friday, August 28, 2009

We All Could Learn From This

The Wheels Are Falling Off

I just got off the phone with my Father (remarkable in itself, since he just had surgery removing a portion of his tongue last week) and he actually sounded really good. Upbeat and positive, he was even thinking of going back to some of his work next week (at least a few hours, anyway).

He told me though, that not all news is good. Two Thursdays from now, it seems, he will have to return to Hopkins for additional surgery (ironically, they are going to perform something that the surgeon decided not to do while she was in session last week... ) She said she was very very sorry, while my Father replied "Not as sorry as I am!" I swear to god, I understand not wanting to over-operate if unneccesary, but jeez... he was JUST in there, and the plan WAS to do this procedure. to stitch him up without doing it, only to have to come back a week later is absurd (and cruel and unusual).

That's not the end of the drama in the Vondracek household though.

My dad told me while we spoke, that he was calling me from GBMC Medical Center. (uh oh)

He proceeds to tell me that they are there for Sharon, who was diagnosed with a detached retina, requiring emergency medical attention, and emergency surgery scheduled for this coming Tuesday.


He also tells me his car is in the shop (this is what bothers my dad most about all this, BTW!) AND, on top of it all, they are having plumbing/sewage issues in their brand new house (about 1 year old!!!!)

I am pretty sure if he was not drugged out of his mind, he would have committed Hari Kari by now.

Please keep them in your prayers, and send some positive JuJu their way!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Study: 74% Of Children Tenting Out In Yard Don't Make It Through The Night

WASHINGTON—According to a new report released this week by the Department of Health and Human Services, 74 percent of all American children camping out in their backyards never, ever make it through the night.

The study, which surveyed hundreds of innocent children between the ages of 7 and 12, found that, in almost all cases, sleeping outdoors in a tent with a flashlight and comic books and who knows what else lurking around in the dark ended in horrible tragedy.

"We now have definitive proof that most children who camp out in their yards will die a horrific death," said Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of health and human services. "Whether it's a sudden wolf attack, an escaped mental patient, or just Old Man Greenly, who lost his hand in a gruesome mill accident and now seeks his bloody revenge, young boys and girls rarely live to see their parents or friends again."

Secretary Sebelius concluded the press conference by telling children to sleep tight, throwing her head back and cackling wildly.

Conducted over the course of two months, the study documented nearly 18,345 ways in which children, who never suspected a thing until it was far too late, met their grisly demise.

In 29 percent of all recorded cases, young campers were chopped up into tiny pieces by fugitive axe murderers. While a shocking 32 percent of kids, snacking on potato chips and candy bars, awakened the ghost of a little baby boy named Jeremy.

According to the study, 100 percent of all children tried to scream and yell for help, but nothing came out.

"Though a terrifying scenario, kids should not worry too much about the prospect of being attacked by killer ghosts," said Dr. Howard Fredericks, the study's chief researcher and a professor of forensic biology at Columbia University. "Especially since our data suggests they're three times more likely to be kidnapped by the Very Lonely Woman Who Lives in the Woods."

"She's this horrible-looking woman with scabs all over her face who had her children taken away by the state," Fredericks continued. "She now roams across the suburbs at night, crying and wailing, and mistaking young kids playing inside their tents for her own."

Although Fredericks claimed that the odds of an unsuspecting child surviving until morning were slim, he did issue a list of warning signs to watch for. The sound of a nearby twig snapping, Fredericks said, almost always indicates that a half-man, half-lizard swamp creature, who feeds on the organs of schoolchildren while they're still alive, is on the prowl. In addition, the study found that turning off one's flashlight or closing one's eyes for "even a second" is an open invitation to all disfigured hitchhikers in the area to suddenly attack.

"Children should know, however, that if they hear scratching on the side of their tent, it's probably just their older brother trying to scare them," Fredericks said. "And if the scratching suddenly stops, it's most likely because their parents have gone insane and crept up from behind with this really demonic look in their eyes and slit his throat."

As dire as these findings may appear, Fredericks claimed there was one way for children camping outdoors to escape their fate.

"If they are able to avoid being bitten by poisonous spiders crawling around inside their sleeping bag, can keep all their fingers and toes crossed long enough to ward off Sister Mary, and manage to run back home without the inbred family of cannibal people seeing them first, they may actually stand a chance," said Fredericks, an eerie smile forming on his lips. "But even if they do, there's no telling what they'll find once they get inside."

Couresty of America's Finest News Source

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Work Is Picking Up

String Theory has been busy the past 2 weeks, with 4 people cranking. In house now:

a. An Awesome animation series for AC/DC (will post as soon as it delivers)
b. A corporate video parodying the graphic styling of Top Chef.
c. A type-driven Pitch for Mello Yello
d. 2 x different episodes of A&E's "The First 48"
e. A PBS American Experience doc "Wyatt Earp"
f. An animation package for Legacy (A Sony Music Label)
g. A Type Animation for the Broadway musical: Jersey Boys
h. Logo animation for TimeWarner Cable

Not a whole lot to comment on, other than it's good to be busy. Fall is kicking in, and as I polish up the class syllabus for Cooper U, I just got to thinking that before we know it, it will be the Holidays again. Hoo Boy. Let's not rush too much.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Fortune Cookie tonight (while watching tv):

"Idleness is the Holiday Of Fools"


2 Weeks ago, on a pleasant (and long overdue) trip to Baltimore, we were in the way to my Mom's house for some R+R at the poolside, looking forward to a small meetup with her and Amanda, as well as Alicia's Mom, Tino and Linda, and even our old friend Lori.

On the way there, Sharon called and broke the bad news: that my Father was diagnosed with stage 1 oral cancer. His previous oral cancer scare from a few years back (where he immediately quit drinking AND smoking "cold turkey" **) was apparently not the end of the story. This was caught early, in a relatively premature stage, so with the proper series of tests and a meeting with a surgeon, should be dealt with in the easiest way possible.

That following Monday, he was hammered with tests, xrays, CT scans, and every other poke, prod and measurement they possibly could. By end of week, the results were in, and while they were still cautiously optimistic about treatment, it was upgraded to stage 2, and they began making difficult and gruesome decisions regarding surgery and treatment.

The following week (this past monday) he met with the specialist, who set up immediate surgery, taking him in on Thursday. They needed to remove part of his tongue (a terribly painful and long-healing process) which knocks out his ability to speak, eat, etc, as you can probably imagine.

On Thursday, he entered surgery, for a long tense day, where, during the course of the operation, we learned that a few things were looking better in person than they had in the xray, and not only did the surgeon downgrade his condition to stage 1, but also decided, while on the operating table, that 1 of the 3 particularly difficult aspects of the surgery did NOT need to be done after all. Good news? We'll take it.

He spent the night, leaving the hospital on Friday late afternoon, and has been resting and healing all weekend, mostly under heavy sedation and painkillers.

It looks like it will be a long and painful road to heal, but the doctors are optimistic that radiation is off the table (at least for the time being). Things can ALWAYS be worse, after all. We are wishing him well, and any and all good thoughts, prayers, letters, etc are appreciated!

I will post updates as I get them from Sharon!

** A Feat I NEVER thought he could or WOULD do. It's probably the most amazing and impressive thing I've known him to do. It also is a cold reminder that even if you QUIT after a lifetime of smoking, sometimes the damage is already done. Consider this if you are even THINKING of trying a cigarette in the near future.

Back To The Beach

We went to the Jersey Shore (Barnegat, NJ) this weekend to visit with the Cruz' sisters old neighbors. It was a lot of fun, and completely exhausting. Family, friends, dogs, a six week old kitten, 2 children with cartoons and video games, a beach, a bay, burger shack, dessert cafe, swimming pool, grill, sweltering heat, scorching sunburn, and beer pong.


Thanks to Jenn, Wes, Matthew and Meghan for hosting us (not to mention Sammy and Gracie!!! woof!) We had a great time, with great food to boot! Hope to see you soon, perhaps in Manhattan sometime? Dim Sum, anyone?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

It Might Be Awesome

Alicia and I just got back from the fantastic new doc "It Might Get Loud", directed by Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) and featuring the guitar musings and brilliant flares of inspiration and imrov from Jack White (White Stripes, Racontours, etc), the Edge (a little band called U2, anyone?) and a small unknown studio musician from the other side of the pond, by the name of James Page. (Jimmy, if you follow that whole Led Zepplin-thing!)

intercutting documentary interview, ponderous musings while alone, interaction of the 3 generations in the same space, and archival and vintage performace footage, this "doc" really functioned more as a portrait, or series of character studies, not unlike The Wrestler...

but make no mistake... there is not an OUNCE of pretention or self importance to be found in this picture. It is charming, fast, witty, entertaining and genuinely warm and creatively inspiring. What struck me the most was how nervous EACH of the three are to meet each other in the scenes leading up to their first introduction. All three are so different, from their upbringing, country of origin, economic class, and agegroup, that it is clear to me that all three genuinely had an awe for the other, and once their intimidations came down, they genuinely seemed to bod and jam and open up in such a way that a traditional "interviewer" asking rote questions would never have been able to get them to do.

Warm. Candid. Genuinely smart and creative and entertaining, it is not to be missed by anyone even casually interested in rock and roll, and certainly not by anyone who has anything more than a passing interest in these 3 great (and very different talents. Do not wait for video. Support Independent film, and support rock and roll. See this on the big screen, in the dark, with a great surround sound system.

Who's That Ugly Mug In I.D. Magazine?

Here is a link to a crude PDF scan I made of the article, for those of you who can't blow $35 on a newstand issue!

Download Full 5-Page PDF Here

As you can imagine, it was a HUGE honor for me to be partnered with an MIT Doctorate, not to mention the other jurors (NASA designers, Art Director of the New York Times Magazine, etc). I am proud of our selection(s) and hope you all enjoy it as much as we did discussing it.

There Must Be An Open Door... For You... To Come Back

I am so sorry I have not been updating this blog the past few months. Your complaints have NOT fallen on deaf ears! (geoff, JoeRo, Amy, Alicia, etc!) I have been busy. Blah Blah Blah. Everyone's busy... so what?

Well, let's catch up, in Chronological order.

March (while I was still blogging actively) was a mess. I was forced to part with my business partner at The String Theory (those of you who know me well know all the gory details... casual readers, you will just have to use your imaginations, since I don't want to use this blog as a vehicle for bad talk). I was left with a business in flames, an assload of work and projects still left to do, and an unbearable and crippling back pain/muscle spasm because of the stress.

The Lawsuit continued unabated, and all I could do to get through it was to focus on work and getting new projects.

So I Did. After the slowest 2 month stretch of my entire career (Jan and Feb. Yeah, remember the whole economic collapse of the country?) I got busier than I had been in Years. Big projects. Fun Projects. Small Projects. Crappy Projects. I took them all. Did them all. Delivered them all. I did not rest until the machine was pulsing at full capacity again.

I wasn't exactly my usual chipper self. I had not been listening to anything new, nothing noteworthy. Just hunkered down, working through the misery. Without fun new music (or even the joy of listening to OLD music) I simply didn't have any interest to post a new entry. Facebook blips were ablout all I could muster.

But then the weather got warmer. The work started going Great. The clooud and Shadow that my old partner had cast seemed to be lifted from the office, and my life.

We went to Antigua (pronounced An-TEE-ga) for some MUCH needed R&R, as well as Peat's Wedding (which was beautiful).

The verdict for my lawsuit's "Summary Judgement" hearing came back in my favour (more on that later)... Although it is still going on, the Summary Judgement Ruling was a critical slap in the face to Capital One/NFB, and added some much needed wind to my sails.

The Annual Design Review Issue of I.D. Magazine released this month, and yours truly is featured in photograph and by way of 5 page article. Check it out, but with a $35 newstand price, I would not be offended at all if you read the scan I made of it, that I will post tomorrow when I get to the office (stay tuned)

Things are much improved. Work is stable. We have visited friends and family over the past few weeks, and all of a sudden, I feel like listening to music again. This of course, makes me want to share it again. Hence the new post.

sorry for the long winded tirade.

I just thought I owed you an explanation, and an apology.

Stay tuned to this program.

Download: Pearl Jam: Come Back (Live 2008, Washington DC)

P.S... on top of it all, my old website got hacked, and I am still in the process of sorting in all out. That is why there are no PICTURES or LINKS to ASSETS on my older posts...

As I sort it out, I will migrate all of it to the new server, and fix the links accordinly. Sorry for the hassle

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chris Cornell: BBC Sessions

Here is a great recording of Chris Cornell solo acoustic at the BBC. Sound Quality is fantastic, some great songs and a few great covers.

01. The Original Fire
02. You've Got To Hide Your Love Away
03. Black Hole Sun
04. Can'T Change Me
05. Like A Stone
06. Redemption Song

Download: Chris Cornell: BBC Sessions (zipped)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

If You Watched It Backwards:

• If you watched LOST backwards you realize it's the same thing as if you would watch it forwards.

• If you watch HEROES backwards you realize that it's been getting progressively better over time.

• If you watch FRIENDS backwards, Courtney Cox seems to get older somehow. I Think It's the hair.

• If you watch RAMBO backwards, It's Sylvester Stallone healing people with his magical bullet vacuum.
(and repairing helicopters with nothing but a Bow and Arrow)

• If you watch FIGHT CLUB backwards, you see Ed Norton turn from a crazy streetperson into a successful, productive member of society.

• If you watch the 1997 version of EPISODE IV backwards, Greedo Shoots first.

• If you watch MEMENTO backwards, it makes complete sense.

• If you watch THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY backwards, it's a saga about a little guy who gets a cool ring from a volcano and spends the rest of the film walking home.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Who Says Advertising Is Evil? Part 2


Huge thanks to Kamaur for helping me find this!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Who Says Advertising Is Evil?

Big Thanks to Karin Hayes for sending me this!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

Last week a band was recommended by Bob L. in Baltimore, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. They played SXSW this year, to much critical acclaim. In fact, Alicia and I saw a really good short featurette on them on the Sundance Channel a month or so ago. They had been on my radar, but never sat down and looked them up fully. After their review in the New York Times, Bob looked them up, and sent them my way.

Bob wrote: "It was well worth the effort. They have a great retro sound that will at times remind you of the Smith's, early poppy REM and even a little of the Cure and one of my favorites the Ocean Blue. In short they have nailed the alterna pop sound of the very late 80's and early 90's." and I agree completely (even with a bit of Jesus and Mary Chain in there for good measure. But Ocean Blue, no doubt.

I posted a few of their album tracks for you to sample and hopefully enjoy. I can't guarantee they won't get taken down (I try not to post too many album tracks on this site, for fear of riling the RIAA) but they are hopefully meant to inspire you to get their album, which, to my joy, was on eMusic, the best music subscription service money can buy!!

Enjoy the music:

Download: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart: Come Saturday

Download: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart: Adult Friction

Download: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart: Gentle Sons

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Nirvana: Seattle, 1990 The Off Ramp Cafe

I have countless Nirvana bootlegs from over the years, but I came across this one last night and thought I should share! It is by far my favorite setlist of the bootlegs I have, and it is a very early show, the very first one in Seattle with Dave Grohl on drums. It is dynamic, energetic, upbeat and thrilling. Lots of covers and rarities, that later made it onto Incesticide, along with Here She Comes Now, one of my favorite rarities of theirs, from Velvet Underground.

Again, the bootleg was presented as a 2 CD file, which I have kept in tact for the sake of trading purposes, but have combined the 2 files into 1 zip file for your downloading ease.

It should be noted that this recording is a frankenstein of sources, all notated in the documentation in the zip file. Where possible, the soundboard recording is used, but for "holes" in this source audience recording is there instead. It really doesn't matter though. the Audience recording is still very very good quality, and very much worth a listen for all rock fans, not just the Nirvana die-hards. The first Seattle show with Dave Grohl is another cool reason this belongs in your collection. Also, makes a great gift for friends who think they have everything, Nirvana-related.

Nirvana - Live 1990, Seattle's Off ramp Cafe

Audio is Soundboard and Audience tapes. Detailed trading and source notes are included as a text file within the zip, along with album/CD cover art.

CD1: (50:28)
01 (Intro)
02 Aneurysm
03 Oh, The Guilt
04 Mr. Moustache
05 Stay Away
06 Breed
07 Floyd The Barber
08 About A Girl
09 Verse Chorus Verse
10 In Bloom
11 Swap Meet
12 Been A Son
13 Stain
14 Blew
15 Sappy

CD2: (51:07)
01 Lithium
02 School
03 D-7
04 Here She Comes Now
05 Sliver
06 Dive [aborted]
07 (Encore Break)
08 Dumb
09 Polly
10 Something In The Way
11 Negative Creep
12 Love Buzz
13 Where Did You Sleep Last Night [tease]
14 Spank Thru
15 Molly's Lips
16 Son Of A Gun
17 Sifting [cut]

Download: Nirvana: 1990 Seattle, The Off ramp Cafe (zipped)

Aerosmith: Permanent Vacation Outtakes

In Keeping with my good run of completely rare studio Recording session outtakes (Radiohead, NIN, Guns and Roses, Nirvana, etc) I figured I'd post this for you all... Aerosmith's sessions for Permanent Vacation. Lots of rare stuff, rough stuff, alternate versions (gotta loooove Hangman Jury!) It's broken down into 2 x CDs (the way I found it) but I zipped both CDs together into a single zip file for your downloading ease and pleasure. Anyway, hope you enjoy!

Aerosmith - Permanent Vacation Session Outtakes

Outtakes and alternate mixes from "Permanent Vacation" sessions.
CD issued in the late 1990s, not able to pin down exactly when.

01 - Magic Touch
02 - Angel
03 - I'm Down
04 - Dude(mix 1)
05 - St John(mix 1)
06 - St. John(mix 2)
07 - Girl Keeps Coming Apart
08 - Permanent Vacation(mix 3)
09 - Dude
10 - Magic Touch
11 - Got To Find A Way
12 - Samurai
13 - Walking on Danger Street

01 - Rag Doll
02 - Feel The Pain
03 - Looking Like A Lady
04 - Gotta Find A Way
05 - Samurai
06 - Permanent Vacation(mix 4)
07 - Hangman Jury
08 - Hollywood
09 - Funky Thing
10 - Walking on Danger Street(mix 2)
11 - Sleeping Sickness
12 - St. John)mix 3)
13 - Girl Keeps Coming Apart (instrumental)
14 - Once Is Never Enough
15 - Heart's Done Time

Download: Aerosmith: Permanent Vacation Session Outtakes (zipped)

How Can We Sleep While Beds Are Burning?

I found a good one last night, and thought I would share! Midnight Oil playing Wembley Stadium, in their 1990 prime! It was Broadcast on the radio (Westwood One), so the sound quality is great. Not to mention the fantaaaastic setlist, heavy on the "Blue Sky Mining" album. I hope you enjoy!

Midnight Oil - Live From Wembley, 1990

01 - King Of The Montain (3:30)
02 - Dream World (4:13)
03 - River Runs Red (5:13)
04 - Warakurna (4:35)
05 - Read About It (2:33)
06 - Read About It Cont. (1:07)
07 - The Dead Heart (5:51)
08 - Best Of Both World (3:49)
09 - Kosciusko (4:22)
10 - Power And The Passion (5:34)
11 - Beds Are Burning (4:09)
12 - Bedlam Bridge (9:04)
13 - What's So Funny About Peace (6:27)
14 - Hercules (4:26)
15 - Now Your Product (2:00)
16 - Blue Sky Mine (4:14)

Download: Midnight Oil: 1990 Live from Wembley (zipped)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pearl Jam "Ten" Reissue

This has some of the grfx and 3D animation we did for the upcoming rerelease (and remastering!?!?) of Pearl jam's Seminal album "Ten"

While I may like a few of their other albums a tad more (mostly due to the mix... the new mix by Brendan O'Brian is SPOT ON!) I can honestly say there is no more important an album for me, really. I mean, c'mon... that tracklist is unbelievable, still today.

I can't wait to hear all the new mixes on those songs (plus the official release of the MTV unplugged show!)


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Watching the Watchmen

Alicia and I saw the much hyped and much maligned 3 hour Watchmen movie yesterday, based, of course, on the genius work of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. I am not a lifelong fanboy, having only read the graphic novel this past summer. Although late to the party, I loved the graphic novel for all the reasons everyone told me I would... a fantastically complex and morally ambiguous set of characters, worderfully fun ways to develop the story besides just cartoon panels... Intellegent winks to the format itself with a concurrent Pirate story running throughout... preposterous ending, etc etc etc. I was really interested to see the film even TRY to tell this story, which everyone claimed was "unfilmable" for the past 20 years. And perhaps it still is.

And let's be clear: every critical review you read about it is very very true. It is loooong. It is painfully faithful to the source material, at the expense of creating any new feelings of wonder that a movie might have the power to do. It is icy cold and completely unfeeling, unflinching, and does not engage the audience in any way emotionally. Anyone not extremely familiar with the book will just not follow it, and will most likely leave thinking what's all the fuss?

But if you DO savour the book, and it's characters and art style, and chaotic, dark, antisocial, nihilistic, anarchistic and critical themes, then there is absolutely, positively no excuse you could give me that you should not see it. It is NOT perfect. It is NOT for everyone. BUt is IS still very very good. And very interesting. And hard as hell to have come so far. It really brings the comic world to life in a fantastic way, that taken with the right grain of salt, can be a true joy from start to finish. Alicia and I saw it at the Imax, and I highly reccomend this. Performances have been criticized as being cold, distant, amatuerish... I disagree. I thought it was finely and interestingly cast, and some nice surprises (Carla Gugino Jeffrey Dean Morgan, etc) came through in that respect. (although Ozymandias/Veit was possibly the weakest link in the chain...)

The opening title sequence alone (a 6 minute sequence set to Bob Dylan's "The Times, They Are A-Changin") was unbelievably creative and effective, and for the right audience member, probably worth the entire price of admission right there. Speaking of Dylan, the rest of the unbelievably good soundtrack was used in extremely prominent (arguably overblown) manner, and I loved it. Most of the times, I hate songs coming so far to the front that it's just a musical interlude sequence... but this film was so big, and colorful, and cold as ice that it really seemed appropriate not only content-wise, but stylistically as well.

Zach Snyder is certainly not a "visionary" (A remake of Dawn of the Dead and another comic adaptation does NOT a visionary make) but he is to be commended for making a 3 hour superhero movie that held true to the source material, and created such a stylistic and clinical mood and feel that I was hypnotized.

The cold, calculating clinical view of Dr. Manhattan dominates the feeling of this movie in every frame. I think that's what the critics thought was wrong with it. I think that's what I thought was RIGHT with it. Eh, to each his own. But I strongly suggest YOU not believe everything that you read, and see it, and judge for yourself.

Who Watches the Watchmen? I sure did. You might want to as well.

P.S... the new ending? WAAAAAAAY better that the comic. No Joke. Seriously. If anyone wants to argue this point, I am open to hearing why you disagree... But I cannot imagine a reason why. A giant Squid? Really? The movie's tweak makes a MUCH smarter connection to the characters and their behaviours. It left me about a million times more content than the end of the comic did. So there. That's another good reason to give the movie a shot, and judge it solely on it's OWN merits, not the hype machine NOR the critical backlash.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Muppets take Manhattan (or 52nd street at least)

Patricia's friend from Baltimore stays with us a fair amount of time, since she is a performance artist who occasionally books gigs in New York or the surrounding 'burbs. She come in late, get's up early, and is out the door before Alicia and I ever even know she's gone. She's fun and interesting, and we usually just grab some dinner, and give her some setup for a restroom and some good nights sleep.

Last time she came, though, she had a huuuuuuge blanket and pillow and such, dragging around. We chuckled that she didn't have to do that, we had her covered, but she stays in so many places so often that she travels more comfortably by having these things on hand (no matter how cumbersome it is for her to lug.)

We haven't seen her in a while (other than Thanksgiving at Patricia and Geoff's house) because she was pregnant, and presumably wasn't traveling for work as much. She recently had her baby, happy and healthy.

Alicia told me the other day, that she wanted to come back again, she had another gig booked. Of course I said "fine" just as always, since it's never a problem at all.

There was a catch this time... She wanted to know if it was okay to bring her husband, toddler, and newborn.

Now she knows our place is always open, but she also knows how small that place is too... of course we won't say "no" but man... tonight is going to be something else!

Wish us luck... I jokingly told Alicia that unfortunately I had to pull an all-nighter at work tonight (I don't, really) It'll be fine. I just don't expect to have much rest (on this worknight) with 4 adults, 1 toddler, 1 newborn, and a nasty little dog (who treats children terribly, btw!) Oh well.. tomorrow is Friday, and I got most of my work done today... so maybe it'll be a breezy day.

Sleep Tight.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

National Treasure III?

Museum Reveals Engraving Hidden in Lincoln Watch
By: BRETT ZONGKER (Associated Press Writer)
From Associated Press
March 10, 2009 9:16 PM EDT

WASHINGTON - For nearly 150 years, a story has circulated about a hidden Civil War message engraved inside Abraham Lincoln's pocket watch. On Tuesday, museum curators confirmed it was true. A watchmaker used tiny tools to carefully pry open the antique watch at the National Museum of American History, and a descendant of the engraver read aloud the message from a metal plate underneath the watch face.

"Jonathan Dillon April 13 - 1861," part of the inscription reads, "Fort Sumpter (sic) was attacked by the rebels on the above date." Another part reads, "Thank God we have a government."

The words were etched in tiny cursive handwriting and filled the the space between tiny screws and gears that jutted through the metal plate. A magnifying glass was required to read them.

Jonathan Dillon, then a watchmaker on Pennsylvania Avenue, had Lincoln's watch in his hands when he heard the first shots of the Civil War had been fired in South Carolina. The Irish immigrant later recalled being the only Union sympathizer working at the shop in a divided Washington.

Dillon's story was passed down among his family and friends, eventually reaching a New York Times reporter. In a 1906 article in the paper, an 84-year-old Dillon said no one, including Lincoln, ever saw the inscription as far as he knew.

Dillon had a fuzzy recollection of what he had engraved. He told the newspaper he had written: "The first gun is fired. Slavery is dead. Thank God we have a president who at least will try."

For years the story went unconfirmed.

The watchmaker's great-great grandson, Doug Stiles, first heard the tale of the engraving from his great uncle decades ago. He said the story had reached extended family as far away as Ireland.

A few months ago, he used Google to find the New York Times story, and last month he passed the information along to Smithsonian curators, who knew nothing about the engraving.

On Tuesday, watchmaker George Thomas, who volunteers at the museum, spent several minutes carefully opening the watch as an audience of reporters and museum workers watched on a video monitor.

"The moment of truth has come. Is there or is there not an inscription?" Thomas said, teasing the audience, which gasped when he confirmed it was there. He called Stiles up to read his ancestor's words, drawing smiles and a few sighs of relief.

"Like Pearl Harbor or 9/11, this was the reaction he had (to the Civil War,)" Stiles said of the inscription.

Later, Stiles said he felt closer to the 16th president.

"My gosh, that was Lincoln's watch," he said, "and my ancestor put graffiti on it!"

Lincoln's family kept the watch until it was donated to the museum in 1958. It was Lincoln's everyday pocket watch, one of the president's only valuable possessions he brought with him to the White House from Springfield, Ill., said Harry Rubenstein, curator of the museum's politics and reform division.

"I think it just captures a bit of history that can transform you to another time and place," he said. "It captures the excitement, the hope of a watchmaker in Washington."

The watch will go back on display at the museum by Wednesday as part of the exhibit, "Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life." It will have a new label to tell Dillon's story and a photo of the inscription.


On the Net:

National Museum of American History:

Monday, March 9, 2009

Bands That Are Not Cool With My Blog

Sorry Everyone

The latest post I had up for the past couple of days was a great broadcast of Kings Of Leon (broadcast in Germany)... It got removed unceremoniously by the RIAA.

This is the second time a band or the RIAA has pulled the plug on a post of mine. (the first was Snow Patrol) It's weird, because these have been RAVE posts, about my favorite new(ish) bands and I have provided links to their official sites, links to purchase the albums from amazon, And the music itself that I have posted, while of course I do not own the copyrights to, have been live performances, traded popularly online, and, in the case of Kings Of Leon, were BROACAST LIVE FOR FREE ON THE RADIO IN GERMANY. It's not like I'm posting a rip of the leaked U2 album or anything... I am trying my best to turn people on to a great band that IIIII thought could use the good word of mouth.

Oh well. It's a big machine, and that machine is broken and on fire. In honor of the RIAA, I am now adding a sidebar list of bands that yank their posts from my site.

Thanks again, RIAA. Good luck with all that.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Little Humor

Something funny. Bizkit The Sleepwalking Dog.

Getting Closer...

The lawsuit is raining down like hellfire now. Capital One's request for "Summary Judgement" is being presented within the next 2 weeks, along with our Answer. I really can't say for sure which way this cookie is going to crumble. The past few days I have been getting good feelings and good vibes from my attorney, and they even apologized for their first (insulting) response to our settlement offer, but their revised couter to our offer was still $50,000. I guess they thought they were being nice by offering to "split the difference" of the made up money I never really borrowed. I think 50K is still ridiculously too high, so I am rolling the dice. Perhaps we'll come to terms on some lower number, or perhaps it will proceed as scheduled, and it could go one of two ways:

If they are AWARDED summary judgement, then I lose big. All of it. An Open and Shut Case. My lawyer said, however, that "Summary Judgement" is a radical procedure, and not to be taken lightly by the courts. It is unlikely, but of course, always possible.*

If they are NOT awarded summary Judgement, I haven't won a thing, other than the right to fight them (and rack up more attorney bills!). But it WILL show them that it's not a "grand slam" and perhaps it will knock them upside the head that they need to come down a tad on their settlement offers.

It's a big risk, But I really don't see any other way to play it. My Attorney and I are in constant communication, and are considering how best to pursue a settlement discussion before the summary judgement hearing. But let's be realistic... 50K is certainly not realistic. If the Court decides against me, so be it. I will be sunk by the cold machine. But I'm not going to drown myself ahead of time for FEAR of being sunk. Dead is Dead... What's the difference, really?

* Remember, one of the earliest conversations I had with my attorney, he warned me that it is a "higher than you'd imagine" chance that the Judge is already on the payroll of the bank anyway. So argue all you want. You're F$CKED from day one.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Exhausted, But With Complete Consensus

Yesterday I spent the entire day at the offices of ID Magazine, judging the Annual Design Review for their Interactive category. Boy, did we see some amazing work. It was exhausting, spending about 11 hours there, but any day that I can not be chained to my desk making commercials, but rather meet and converse (and debate with) some of the brightest minds around is a pretty great day indeed.

I was supposed to have been one of the 3 judges for this particular category on this particular day, but a last minute cancellation by one of the judges (illness, apparently) left us scrambling at the 11th hour to find a third person. Everyone I suggested was too "close" to me (Alicia, Mike Essl, etc) and some of the other big-wigs I suggested are too busy to drop everything (Emily, Scott, Cadin) and one of the big-wigs was already judging another category another day, so it was pretty much a bust. But we soldiered on, the two judges that we were, and we ended up having a fantastic time! My other Judge was Neri, a brilliant Artist and Architect from the MIT labs, who lectures at every major university in the world and who's work has been shown at the MoMa, among many many others.

She was a joy to converse with, and inspiring to debate with and compare and contrast the work. I can't talk too much about the work until the issue comes out, just rest assured that it was (mostly*) jaw-dropping, and our top 3 were decided unanimously and instantly.

The Issue should hit newsstands in June, where not only will you read our commentary and see our choices (and reasonings behind it) but you will see a picture of the 2 of us as well... some of the photos they took of us looked like the prom! Ha!

I look forward to hearing what you guys have to say about our choices, and hope that our decisions hold up to the test of time. I think we did our best, and sure met some fun and interesting people in the process. Thank you again, ID Magazine, for the honor of allowing me to participate!

* There was some crap, and some by people Alicia and I knew too! Ha Ha Ha... At least nobody there knew I worked on Botulinum Toxin**... that is an Alan Smithee project for sure!

** Speaking of Botulinum Toxin, the project is wrapped, the witch is dead, and we are drinking ourselves into oblivion tonight after work... 7:00pm at the Rodeo Bar... Be there, or be square.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Thanks (Again), Lou!

Alicia had a Hood College Alumni event last night, a cocktail reception in the posh Midtown Executive Club. Andy Rooney was there, after his brief appearance at the last event (that Alicia and I reccomended the location for, the funky West Village's La Pallapa, wherein Andy came in, looked around, asked "What the Hell is THIS place?" and left after 15 minutes!) Ha! The Midtown Executive Club was MUCH more his scene.

Obviously not being a Hood Alum, I really didn't know too many people and didn't want to get in the way, so I hung back by the bar, where the gentleman in front of me was having a lively conversation with the bartender, being very specific about how he wanted his martini. This piqued my interest, and I mentioned to the two of them that it looked good, make mine a martini as well.

Then I noticed the gentleman pull out a silver container from his pocket, and he smiled and told me that he always brings his own vermouth! Double Ha! He spritzed some in his, politely asked if I would care for some as well, and I dutifully (and curiously) accepted.

He proceeded to tell me how he comes to this place at least once a month, because a club he belongs to meets on the top floor penthouse bar, and that this bar makes the best martinis in Manhattan (I guess it's just BYOV). I asked what club he belonged to, and he told me it was the Young Presidents Organization, a social organization of young titans of industry and robber barrons, who get together, and basically give each other work. He said that one of the requirements to join is that you need to be president of a company, and under 40... of course I meet these requirements. He mentions that it is a long waiting list, and it is very exclusive, etc etc, and I assure him I did not expecct to get in, laughing it off, and saying that my company was probably way too small to qualify anyway.

We change the conversation, and he asked where I went to school. I mention Cooper Union, and he asks me if I know Lou Dorfsman (ex-creative Director of CBS for 45 years)... Of course I do, he is only one of my biggest mentors, getting me my first job in television, and pretty much insisting that I even START in television, ditching my work in the web!

It turns out, he knew Lou very well, and had not one, but 2 company business cards designed by him in his wallet! I gave him one of MY cards, and he was taking down all my info, and he made a funny remark about talking to the Young Presidents Organization! Triple Ha!

Gotta thank Lou again. That guy is the most "connected" person in the world, even in his afterlife! And maybe nothing will come of any of this. But Aliciia remarked at the end of the night that I was "Something else" and that I wasn't even an ALUM and I had a great night. And if nothing else, it IS funny to picture a hippie like me hanging with the NY money men! I guess I should look into getting fitted for a monacle.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Tribute To George Washington, Coke Doer And Cannibal


Yeah, ok, George Washington didn't actually eat the brains of his foes, but this video's pretty awesome anyway. We resurrected it to help you celebrate President's Day in the lewdest way possible. Enjoy!

Friday, February 13, 2009

From The BBC: Fresh Start For Lost File Formats

From the BBC:

Long lost file formats could soon be resurrected by pan-European research.

The 4.02m euro (£3.58m) project aims to create a universal emulator that can open and play obsolete file formats.

Using the emulator, researchers hope to ensure that digital materials such as games, websites and multimedia documents and are not lost for good.

The emulator will also be regularly updated to ensure that formats that fall out of favour remain supported in the near and far future.

Called Keeping Emulation Environments Portable (Keep), the project aims to create software that can recognise, play and open all types of computer file from the 1970s onwards.

As well as basic text documents it will also let people load up and play old computer games that technology has left behind.
"People don't think twice about saving files digitally - from snapshots taken on a camera phone to national or regional archives," said Dr Janet Delve, a computer historian from the University of Portsmouth and one of the research partners on Keep.

"But every digital file risks being either lost by degrading or by the technology used to 'read' it disappearing altogether," she said.

Without work to preserve ways to access the formats that are common today, 21st century citizens risk leaving a "blank spot" in history, said Dr Delve.

Already the number of unreadable documents in archives is beginning to mount up.
Britain's National Archive estimates that it holds enough information to fill about 580,000 encyclopaedias in formats that are no longer widely available.

Research by the British Library estimates that the delay caused by accessing and preserving old digital files costs European businesses about £2.7bn a year.

"We are facing a massive threat of the loss of digital information. It's a very real and worrying problem," said Dr David Anderson, who will work with Dr Delve on the UK end of the project.

"Things that were created in the 1970s, 80s and 90s are vanishing fast and every year new technologies mean we face greater risk of losing material," he said.

Dr Anderson said emulation was more workable in the long term than the usual method of preserving old files which involves migrating information on to new formats with its attendant risks of data degradation and corruption.

Thanks to Paul Rachman for sending this my way!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Former Student Makes "GOOD"

Erik Winkowski, a former star pupil from Cooper's Motion Graphics class, has just completed a fantastic and informative animation on the complexities of Corn in America for GOOD Magazine. Go watch it, and leave him a great comment! And don't forget to pass it on to friends if you like it!

Way to Go, Erik! (Nice GIGANTIC CREDIT at the top of the piece, too! ha ha ha)