Chrissy Caviar

This is one of the more interesting art projects I’ve seen in a while – mock marketing of human eggs as consumer item – human caviar – as commentary on reproductive pressure on women in their late 30s. Provoked a pretty good discussion between Amy and I. Read article before forming opinions.

Seeing Bill Clinton

Went to see Bill Clinton speak today. The J-School sponsored the event, but it was held in Zellerbach Hall. Cool to see Gray Davis, Orville Schell, and Bubba all onstage at once. Very inspiring. Listening to him really made me aware of how quickly we synopsize our feelings about leaders into a few summary thoughts. “Democrat. Two terms. Mixed track record. Kinda liked him, kinda not. Reputation tarnished by scandal.” It also made me aware of how our impressions of leaders are almost entirely governed by the sound bites and snippets the media choose to publish. But listening to him speak in complete thoughts, and without having to be on the campaign trail and sell himself, was fascinating. Lives of politicians are so complex, the issues so huge, the problems so multidimensional. The country was left with the impression of a kind of bumbler, and many people forgot just how intelligent he is. But his wit is so quick, his grasp of the big picture so vast.

His main talking point was globalization, and he had a lot to say on that. One of the most interesting things he pointed out was how we took the long view towards Japan and Germany, and poured resources into those countries to help shape the world for the future. If we had just won WWII and left it at that, our relationship to Germany and Japan today would be very different than it is. So what about Afghanistan? It’s not enough to bomb it further into oblivion, and it’s not enough to eliminate Al Qaeda (efforts he supports completely). Taking the long view, we have to pour resources into the Middle East to foster freedom of thought, education, etc. That kind of thing costs us peanuts, and has a huge pay-off for the future. But how much are we talking about that now?

He also made an unusual point about exhaustion. All of our senators and congresspeople, and in fact all the leaders of the world, live under such heavy workloads and under so much continual stress that the world is basically run by walking zombies. Scary thought.

I had felt non-committal about going to this thing, but was really glad I did.

Also got to hang out before the event with the founder and editor of Wired Digital. Had a very interesting conversation about what kind of media is successful today. Now that everything is so specialized – people have 100 TV channels and infinite web sites to choose from – the really successful publications are super specialized and all about lifestyle. Yoga magazine has a huge circ and is fat with ads. U.S. News and World Report is sinking out of view. Slashdot (tech specialized) is doing great, but Plastic (general topics) is struggling. Etc. etc. Interesting.

Surrogate

Mentioned a while ago that Amy had a book release party for “Surrogate.” Finally got around to putting the images and essays from the book online today. As I was working with this stuff, was amazed all over again at how good she is, how much I love her work. I’m a lucky guy.

If you have comments on Amy’s photos, please leave them in the LiveJournal account I secretly set up for her : ;)

Lynda Barry

One of my favorite things about Thursdays has always been the Express, one of the three free weeklies we get in the Bay Area. But recently they “restructructured” and removed Cecil Adams (The Straight Dope), Gina Arnold (a music writer who has been with them for a decade) and Lynda Barry, my favorite cartoonist, whose stuff I’ve been in love with since the mid-80s (it used to be called Ernie Pook’s Comeek). The Express is now next to worthless, and Thursday lunches aren’t what they used to be.

Half a year ago Barry was offering to draw a panel “just for you!” for $25, so Amy and I took her up on it and she sent a panel of Marlys tip-toeing upstairs, and even sent a personal note. We gotta frame that one of these days. Fortunately Salon posts Barry’s strip online each week, so all is not lost.

Amelie’s Pupils

She doesn’t have any. I looked really hard too, and not once throughout the film could I even see the edge of Audrey Tatou’s pupils. Spooky. Loved the movie.

Switched from Mail.app to Entourage today. The built-in junk detection is worth the switch alone. Birdhouse is up to 80% spam these days. kissthisguy is well over 95% spam. It’s enough to make me want to ditch birdhouse.org for a year until I’m wiped out of all those databases, but I can’t because family members and friends have birdhouse addresses too. I swear to god spam is the scourge of the 21st century.

Sick again. Thought I had it licked, but sore throat and cramped sinuses, low energy came back with a vengeance last night. Not entirely sure these symptoms aren’t coming from mildew and cleaning chemicals in my office at UCB — fallout from flooding a few weeks ago. I knew it didn’t feel right sitting in that smell all day. But I just can’t be sure if I’m sick from that or whether it’s just coinicidental.

Lord of the Rings

I remember, growing up in the 70s, there was a rash of people naming their cats and dogs “Bilbo” and “Frodo.” Wondering if that’s going to happen again. Keep an ear out for this in the next six months.

Just saw the movie with Amy. Loved it. Even more than we expected to. So rich, in every dimension. Just minutes from the bell, too. Was going to say that Waking Life was the best movie I saw in 2001, but now have to admit that LOTR edges it out. Still, I’m puzzled that Waking Life got so little attention. It rocked my world. One of the most innovative movies I’ve seen in a long time, both plot-wise and visually.

Fountainhead

Just watched The Fountainhead (1949, with Gary Cooper) — the movie interpretation of Ayn Rand’s book. Pretty inspiring testament to individualism in the face of the collective. Great dialog. But I thought it gave short shrift to the collective. Made it out as if the mere fact of society makes it impossible for individuals to rise above. Guess it had to in order to make its point. Anyway, some pretty rousing speeches.

Amy and I thick in the brain with head colds. She’s more sick than I am now. Rainy day. Spent most of it writing reactions to reader mail on the OS X piece.

Wonderful slow winter day.

MightyAssembly

Just when we thought all the dotcom parties were over… went to a book release party last night at the loft of MightyAssembly. Our old friend Colleen co-wrote Macromedia Flash: Art, Design, and Function and they threw a bash to celebrate. Felt like the old days – saw lots of people I once knew, hung out with some of the movers and shakers from the glory days of the SF dotcom scene, drank mojitos… very fun. Good to hook up with Colleen again.

Visit to a Sad Planet

Finally got around to compressing and putting online the first (and so far only) actual DV movie I’ve made (as opposed to travelogues and personal mini-documentary things).

This 4-minute mock “sci-fi opus” is a video accompaniment to Leonard Nimoy’s 1969 monologue “Visit to a Sad Planet,” which is but one in a long series of monologues, poems, and spoken-word pieces recorded by Nimoy and Shatner in the late 60s.

If you’ve got the bandwidth, definitely go for the 30MB Sorenson version. It looks and sounds much better than the 10MB version. Of course, both of them suck compared to the uncompressed 720×480 original, but you can’t just go putting 1 GB movies on the net… dammit.