Sunday, August 1, 2010

CSP forever!

1) This first thing is so amazing I don't 100% believe it's happening. So you remember how Tiffany, Krista and I made an awesome animation about colors and shapes? Well a few weeks ago I received a youTube message from a producer with BabyGenius asking if we would be interested in having our animation on their next DVD. We were initially skeptical because their videos have a very distinct style that is completely different than ours and we didn't see how the two would go together. After a lot of e-mail tag Tiffany and I finally had a conference call with him that assuaged all our fears and more. The phone call was about half an hour and in it he not only explained the particular deal for the DVD (they will give us a lump-sum payment for putting the animation on their DVD, it's a non-exclusive contract, the DVD will be distributed through Target and Wal-Mart in December, the videos also go on Comcast OnDemand), but all sorts of stuff that BabyGenius is working on in the near future. The most pertinent one being a collaboration with the San Diego Children's Museum. They are going to be producing a whole bunch (upwards of 100) "Educational Pods" for the museum. These will be short (30-45 sec) videos that focus on teaching particular topics. He asked us if we'd be interested in being contracted to produce any of those for them. They would give us the time length and lesson and we'd come up with a concept and then animate it. He then said that the phone call was basically a job interview. After we got off the phone I had butterflies in my stomach like crazy.
Then I consulted David Pagano to figure out how much money we should be asking for and Krista consulted some entertainment lawyers she knew (parents of friends) for their perspective and we got back to Jeff with an offer. Now we just have to wait and see what he counters with. I'm trying to reign in my natural optimism, because while this could possibly be the start of an exciting endeavor that shapes my career for the near future, it could also peter out into nothing. I will keep y'all updated either way.

2) Paul and Stephanie had another wonderful wine, cheese and dessert party. It was delicious. We played Apples to Apples where Choir Boys maintained their reputation as the smoothest.

3) That Saturday I had my very first massage. I told Bert when he landed his part-time temp position that he had to treat himself to one thing and he decided to get a massage and I went too. We went to Sir Spa. I got a 60 minute massage with very light pressure. It was perfect. I felt like butter afterward. Then we walked outside into the bright, hot, busy Clark street and my senses were completely overwhelmed. We got lunch at a falafel place and then took a 3 hour nap at Bert's place.

4) That evening I filmed the wedding of one of my friends from Fire Escape Films. (She also voiced Persephone Verada in SVELT interview.) It was a nice ceremony and reception and I got to see a few people I knew from college and eat some good food and I got paid. All in all, not a bad way to spend Saturday night.

5) Krista was in town for about a week. On Friday she had brunch with Bert and I at Ann Sather's. I was very excited they got to meet each other. They got on very well, even though Krista was half an hour late. It had been so long since I'd seen her, I'd forgotten all about "Krista Time".

6) Bert and I then drove down to his mom's place in southern Indiana (Kentuckiana, as they call it, which led me to realize that IN has an identity problem: Michiana, Illiana, Ohioana...) for his mom's 50th birthday. We stayed at her house with her 5 small dogs and teenage-grandniece. It was nice to see the town Bert grew up in, because when he's mentioned it before I couldn't really imagine what it was like. I also got to meet his sister, Shannon. On Saturday the four of us went to a winery (another first for me). We got a "Camelot Mead" that is super sweet and we took it out on the grassy hill and sat under the tree drinking and eating bread and cheese. Then we feed the koi and took pictures and bought a couple more bottles to bring home and left. On Sunday Bert and I drove down to Louisville and walked around for a bit. We saw the museum part of the 21c Museum Hotel which everything from gigantic animal photographs to psychedelic wallpaper, big "cloud ring" emitters and a silver tornado of junk. Then we went out Shannon's pontoon boat on Lake Patoka. We got to see the beautiful lake, swim around and even go speed-tubing. On Monday, we headed out after breakfast. Overall it was a nice weekend.

7) That night, I went over to Tiffany and Seth's place to see Krista again before she left town again. We played Citadels and ate sorbet and cookies. Delicious!

8) Bert and I went to see Stonewall Uprising on Wednesday. While I don't think it was perfect, I do think it was a well-done documentary (much better edited and paced than 8 - The Mormon Proposition) and was very enlightening for me personally. Before watching it I knew next to nothing about the Stonewall Riots (just a vague knowledge that they were connected to the start of the Pride Parade). I still have no desire to go to the Annual Pride Parade (OMG crowds OMG), but the it did remind me of the march Stephanie and I attended protesting Prop 8 (which was just overturned [at least for now]). So I was definitely feeling the pride this week.
Also, you should go and vote for I'm For Driftwood once a day for the rest of August

9) Continuing on the theme of social justice, the book we read for book club this weekend was In the Place of Justice by Wilbert Rideau. It is a memoir mostly of his 44 years spent in prison, but it covers issues of racism and desegregation, prison reform, the power of journalism, and our very complicated justice system. I'm don't generally read much non-fiction, but I found this book absolutely fascinating. I'm not sure I believe the author's account 100%, (especially where it comes to his crime) but the book made me think critically about the purpose of prison and criminal justice in a way I never had before. I had taken the stigmatization of felons for granted most of my life, mostly I didn't even think about it, why would I? But reading this book, particularly the part where Wilbert gets transferred to a local jail and meets dozen of men who have been held there for years without even having a trial date set, I was reminded of a talk I heard a few years by Michelle Alexander (during some conference I filmed for CMIG as a student) about that likened today's mass incarceration to a new form of Jim Crow laws. As tax paying citizens, this is a system we are all complicit in. That thought is one of the most unsettling I've had in a while. This is a blog entry of extremes!
I've been thinking recently about what I want to do with my career, whether I'll be satisfied doing video production for the rest of my life or whether I want to become a teacher at some point. Now I am thinking that Education Administration might be the place where I could do the most and still be engaged. I guess you can't really become a principal without being a teacher first though, right? Can anyone picture me as a superintendent? What about a SUPERintendent? Anyway, this book's potrayal of prison administrator C Paul Phelps got me thinking about the role of administrators.

10) Karan (his rapper name is Dhadcat) finally released his first album. My favorite tracks are Hold On, Skating on the Interstate (my absolute favorite), and A Stranger Pulse, but the whole album is worth a listen. Dhadcat demonstrates versatility across 9 tracks, in the beats he's created, his vocal skills, and most of all his rhymes. I don't know much about rap/hip-hop, except for a few isolated songs from the 90s, so I'm by no means qualified to evaluate El Gato in those terms, so I'll stick to what I know, and focus on it as a poetic work. Dhadcat's lyrics are alternately cool and witty and emotionally eviscerating.
In the track "The Wolf and The Lam" the speaker is asked to tell the audience who he is, despite the fact "they don't really want to know your name" to which he responds "Let me start at the beginning, no wait, I know, I'll start at the end!" followed by a salvo of lyrics about his future wealth and fame. This is a clever satire of the self-aggrandizing lyrics so common in rap and also serves to highlight a central theme of El Gato: identity.
While the first half of the album skates over this at a superficial level, the latter half forms the emotional core of the album. "Skating on the Interstate" is steeped in nostalgia, from the track which sounds like it was sampled from a NES game, to the lyrics which painting glowing pictures of days past and gloomy ones of the days to come and is filled with gut-wrenching lyrics like,
"I'm savage with my sadness.
Forget that, I got more than that.
No I don't. Languish in anguish."
and "These days I'm just writing out of spite." Though, perhaps the most visceral expression of these sentiments comes across earlier in his emphasis on "boy, goddamn I'm hungry"
"The Whole World" gets overwhelmed by the samples at times, but is heartfelt. "Ain't Cute Enough" is a funny skit, but the laughter is covering up something sad and true. My reaction to "A Stranger Pulse" is mostly informed by my friendship with Karan. Almost every line feels weighted with significance because I know exactly what he's referring to.
"Cause I can feel myself slipping,
Cause how the fuck did I get better?
Do I still got that disease?"
That being said, I don't enjoy listening to this song the way I enjoy "Hold On" or "Skating on the Interstate," it's not a pleasant experience. I'm not even going to consider the last track on the album as part of my review, because it's so radically different from the rest. I'm going to end the same way he ends my favorite track.
"Well if it ain't like that then show me."

Other things to check out:
Herman the Manatee
The latest Ok Go video
Parody of that old spice comemrcial except it's for a library

This will probably be my last entry before the move, but FYI Bert, Tiffany, Seth and I are going to the Renaissance Fair next weekend. That and a lot of packing and spackling is what's in store for me in the next couple weeks.