It's Night Two of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Sandra Bullock vs. Forest Whitaker (aka Forest graciously presents Sandra with the American Riviera Award becauseshe is awesome ).
Since we know that both artists are immensely talented, humble, and that the ceremony inside the arlington will go predictably... I'm not going to get into it.
What does always strike me as interesting is the ritual that occurs on the red carpet. We (the press) arrive and check-in, and then stake out our 6 inches of space, exchange light conversation about camera lenses (Nikon vs. Canon) and consider if anyone near us might need a some gum. Then we wait.
The stars eventually arrive, and in typical 'gracious star' fashion, greet their fans with varying levels of authenticity. Sandra made a big effort to go say hi, shake a few hands, give a few quick interviews and chat.
Eventually, the stars handlers and festival organizers help them make their way (separately, never overlapping) and up the carpet and through the gauntlet of yelping and jostling journalists. There's a different emotional vibe with the press than with the fans. Most photographers yell the stars names or shout compliments at them that are mostly designed to elicit a momentary response (preferably a genuine looking smile).
The stars play along with the ritual. They smile, and then pause for longer-than-realistic periods of time so that everyone can get a good shot (probably thinking to themselves "you know, I never really get used to this.."). They occasionally joke back at us, but it's always slightly awkward because everybody knows the game, and everyone is a little anxious to get their awards, or review their photos. As a former Anthropology major, I can't help wonder how this ritual might look to outsiders.
I'll freely admit that despite my weird comments about the press line, it is fun to be surrounded by so much energy and enthusiasm. I do my best to ignore the few cranky and jaded journalists who seem to complain a lot about; people in their way, dead camera batteries, bloggers and lost press-passes. In my mind, I offer them a breath mint.
At the end, I always leave these red carpet events with a bigger smile on my face than I expected. Despite all the strange fanfare and commotion, being so close to famous people does humanize them a little bit - which is comforting.
I think Sandra wins in the screaming chanting salivating fans department. But Forest might actually have the upper hand in the charming smile category. Make your thoughts known below.
Tags: santa barbara international film festival, c2sbiff, sbiff, sbiff 2010, 2010, santa barbara entertainment news, chopin, carey mulligan, saoirse ronan, gabourey sidibe, michael stuhlbarg, virtuoso, chopin virtuosos award february, american riviera award, dates for sbiff, sandra bullock, forest whitaker
Well, El Nino's personality has gone from relatively boring (sun, clouds, sun), to crazy-as-an-astronaut-diaper this week. One minute, it'll be sunny, and the next; dumping rain. Then sunny again, then windy, then drizzly...and then... a freaking waterspout.
A mysterious wind event took some trees down on Haley, and some tiles from a few rooftops downtown. We've also had a weird indecisive cold spell, rivers for creeks, and giant hepatitis filled chocolate waves (see some of my fellow amazingly intelligent surfer brethren below).
Here are a few photos I took during the last day or two, complete with big waves and Mission Creek nastiness letting out into the Pacific. If the storm continues, maybe I'll grow some cojones and get a pic of a waterspout and some lighting. Or maybe I'll just run the other direction.
Mission Creek Letting out into the Pacific.
Snow in the Mountains over Santa Barbara.
There are about 2 or 3 boats washed ashore in the distance. I was amazed how much sports equipment was floating in the shallows.
This one really gets at the color of the stuff coming out of Mission Creek.
And of course Sandspit was cranking. The surfers are getting their stoke on before realizing they have Hepatitis AND sinus staph infections.
Keep in mind those little specks at the base of the wave are surfers..
Pretty. Wait. Did I just see a syringe?
More Sandspit Backwash.
Looking past the Santa Barbara Zoo to the mountains above Montecito and Carp.
Tags: santa barbara storm photos 2010, el nino, santa barbara, sbnews, mission creek, debris, pollution, chocolate water, sandspit going off, backwash, surfers, surfing, hepatitis, staph, rain, storm, waterspout, tornado, goleta, photos, pics, images
This picture is from the back of the room (at CAF) during the 'Amazing Animated Jukebox Vol 2' show (consisting of animated videos compiled by Ted Mills for 2010's first Forum Lounge). The show consisted of a series of hand-picked music videos with exceptional/artful and progressive animation.
This reminded me of how easy I have it as a mostlystill visual artist. Animators work their asses off.
For example, Birdy Nam Nam's video directed/created (?) by Willy Sweeny (see first video below) was a very interesting and artful combination of elements I can't even begin to describe here ('cause I'd say something unintelligible like retro-HeMan-Atari lasers meets acid-trip-orbiting-sugarcube-shooting-katchina-hero narrative).
I think I was more-or-less smitten by everything except for the very last video of the evening (not to be confused with the last video on this page), which felt a little too similar to a lot of post-modern animation that I've seen (think hairy, slimy, extra-appendage-laiden, crooked toothed cartoon characters). I can't remember the name of the artist or director at the moment, but I was slightly sad to see it end on that note. I'm being nit-picky though. It was an impressive and fun show.
I've embedded a few of the highlights below (though there were a few more that I'll have to look up because I stupidly didn't take notes).
Birdy Nam Nam - The Parachute Ending
"Myriad Harbor" by the New Pornographers
"E-Pro" by Beck
"Happy Up Here" by Ryoskopp
"Evil Bee" by Menomena
My apologies for not including more of the director/animator credits.. If I can, I'll ask Mr. Mills for the playlist.
Here are some more pics:
Tags: contemporary art, santa barbara, CAF, contemporary arts forum, animated jukebox, ted mills, videos, animation
At almost any hour Don Pacos is serving delicious and physically manageable tacos (this is not your 'too-big-to-handle' Super Cucas fauxcos). Tonight, (friday) Don was parked on the corner of Micheltorena & San Andreas.
Tags: late night eats, cheap eats, don pacos, carne asada, taco truck, tacos, santa barbara, fauxcos
Last month, before last Sunday's fire, my girlfriend and I nervously parked our Honda amongst all the giant lifted macho trucks at the Camino Cielo shooting range to break up the monotony of our peaceful and earthy tour of the mountaintop. I had been up there before (years ago), but never noticed the sheer massiveness of the mess. The whole hillside was covered in shot-up junk (TV's, matresses, thousands of beer bottles, cans, sofas, and piles of shells and cartridges ).
There were probably 15 or so people shooting. We saw a young kid with his dad and uncle letting their shotgun off, a bunch of late-teen-early 20somethings (who reminded me a little too much of some of the more scary kids I knew in Boy Scouts), and some other dudes with mustaches that I wasn't about to look at for too long.
Once we got over the loudness of some of the guns and the contrast between the beautiful hillside and the shell strewn ground, we noticed that there was a very distinct etiquette. Every 30 min or so, someone would call a time-out, and everyone would go calmly out into the range and re-set their targets. We watched for another 45 min or so and then drove off into the mist..
I'm still formulating an opinion about how I feel about our local shooting range culture, but if that fire the other day was indeed caused by some irresponsible target practice, I'd be a little ticked. The trash is kind of a turn off too. Some of the pictures on Edhat, seem to show a much cleaner 'post-fire' shooting range.
More later.. Too late to get into more detail. Enjoy the pictures. :)
You've probably already heard the news that Michael Jackson is dead. I heard about 40 minutes ago while driving home. It's absolutely everywhere: radio, TV -my old band-mates are still texting me. Twitter is even occasionally over capacity (maybe partly due to this?).
Since there will be plenty of information about his death in the coming hours and days, I figured I'd just share a few YouTube videos (below) and a few of my own memories and feelings.
Like I said above, I was driving home and was just accelerating through the intersection of Ortega and Chapala when I heard the urgent sounding but still newsy, matter-of-fact announcement that he had been pronounced dead by officials in LA.
My reaction wasn't exactly dramatic, but my foot did momentarily leave the gas pedal. The hair on the back of my neck also stood up accompanied by a quick rush of adrenaline. Then, without my consent, my eyes filled up with tears.
I was never the drooling or crying type of Michael Jackson fan (maybe just because I never got to go to one of his concerts), but I was pretty obsessed with him. His songs were a huge part of my childhood soundtrack.
As a kid, 'BAD' was the first cassette tape that I CAMPAIGNED for (relentlessly). I had heard the radio cuts on Y-97 and had expected (imagined) him to look something like Michael J. Fox from Teen Wolf or Kenny Loggins (my parents wouldn't let us watch MTV then). Needless to say, I was psyched when my mom finally caved and bought the new album for me. She handed me a cassette featuring what looked to me like a hip-cocked, leather clad, make-up wearing... uh..woman?
I wasn't sure if there had been a terrible misprint, where Paula Abdul's picture had somehow been slipped-in with his name. Or if maybe someone named Michelle Jackson had just cut an album coincidentally entitled 'BAD'. Believing my mother had purchased the wrong album, I less-than-politely asked, "Mom, don't you know Michael Jackson is a BOY?!". Feeling bad for scolding her, I told her 'it was ok' that she was confused, and that it was an 'understandable mix-up', because he DID have a high voice. But I made it clear that we had to go back and get the right album from the store asap. At that point I'm pretty sure I got a short lesson in rock/pop fashion and other strange rock-star behavior. Still, I didn't totally buy her explanation until I took the plastic wrapping off and gave it a play. After that, the cassette didn't come out of my tape deck for 2 years.
I distinctly remember dancing alone in my bedroom amongst scattered legos that could no longer compete with my inability to hold still to "Smooth Criminal". Every track on that album was way too compelling not to dance to - except for 'Man in the Mirror' to which I lip-synched, rewound, lip-synched and rewound - until I had to put the fragile tape back in the bewildered cassette with a pencil. Fortunately I had a bunch of backup copies should this very scenario present itself.
I followed Michael's next few albums with enthusiasm (and dug deep into his older stuff) until he released 'Dangerous'. After that, I didn't know what to think. All of the molestation allegations and trials set in, and lots of people seemed to feel overly vindicated for all those years of thinking 'something must be off with any guy who dresses and moves like that'. During the Nirvana era, it wasn't even smart to mention that you were a MJ fan (and you couldn't get away with saying you only liked his 'older stuff' - that didn't work until the 2000's).
From that point until now, public condemnation of Jackson has always annoyed me. I have been pretty content 'not to know' what his true relationship was with the children he was accused of abusing. Far be it from me to know what went on.
More than anything, I think my mother was right when she said that he might just be a 'little lost soul'. That's why the Jackson 5 videos below are particularly hard to watch - he was so solid, and confident looking that it's hard to imagine exactly what changed.
Of Michael Jackson the man, I will say this: Through his charity work (hell, even just his federal taxes or the sheer funky pleasure that people get from dancing their socks off all around the world) he has left a massively positive footprint on the world - despite people's obsession with his less desirable or understood traits.
And even though in some ways I feel like he has been gone for a while - that he may have been a little too medicated or depressed to be himself - it isn't for us to say who 'he' should be (or should have been). Today I miss him in all his inconsistencies. And will put a candle in my window tonight.
I will also play (at full volume) my vinyl copy of Thriller. And yes, I'll probably dance alone in my apartment despite my best efforts to be somber.
Here's a really interesting (and wonderful) set of interviews:
And here are a few videos.
This is great:
Tags: santa barbara, michael jackson, death, dead, rip, santa ynez, memories of michael jackson, white boy, bad, dangerous, Y-97, Los Angeles
I am embarrassed to admit that after nearly 29 years living in Santa Barbara and eating many a greasy, satisfying Rusty's pizza at the Carrillo tudor, I never realized that the old building had wonderful and spacious upstairs rooms. Maybe I was too busy gazing longingly at the racing arcade console in the corner.
Following the lead of other young faces, I discovered the stairs and found the few-but-lively SB Young Democrats (and an almost equal number of Santa Barbara City Council and Mayoral candidates) all scooting around with pizza getting ready for the SBYD's Meet-The-Candidates & Dems Jeopardy gathering.
The purpose of the meeting was to give the local Democrat candidates a chance to introduce themselves, and hopefully earn SBYD's eventual endorsement.
The format was simple. Each candidate was given a few minutes alone with the YD's to introduce themselves, pitch, and answer some brief questions. Any other candidates vying for the same position were asked to wait their turn outside the door.
Being new, and feeling like I should have eaten more brain food, I did my best to hang towards the back, chew on my personal size pizza, listen and snap pictures.
Candidates in attendance were Helene Schnieder, Grant House, Iya Falcone, David Pritchett, Dianne Channing & Olivia Uribe. Das Williams was there in his capacity as a young democrat, and subtly psyching himself up to playing Alex Trebek in the impending game of Dem Jeopardy that was to follow the Q&A session (this is where I considered finding some opportunity to channel some salty Sean Connery, just for fun, but I resisted the urge).
Since the local interwebs are (mostly) full of chatter about the candidates positions, backgrounds, etc.. I thought I might just share a few pictures, and list some of my impressions of each candidate. And since I am pretty well within the SBYD demographic, I have made up some ratings for each candidates web-savviness based on whatever I could (easily) find.
Here we go:
Strong, smart, sharp, sober, passionate, and controlled. She had a sort-of 'strict teacher' vibe (maybe she's the kind you eventually come to hug at the end of the year?). More than any of the other candidates, she seems like a traditional politician (possibly of the HRC school).
Misc quote: When asked why she'd be a good candidate for the SBYD's: "Because I was young once!!" (she then went on to give a more diplomatic answer citing her experience with her 28 year old daughter, etc.).
Web Presence: 2/10 stars - ie. next to nil. She has a (seemingly obligatory) Facebook presence that gets updated with photos all entitled 'Iya Falcone for Mayor'. Her web-presence is worryingly MIA.
** UPDATE (7-10-2009):
She seems to have added a website (or it's at least findable now). I'd say this is a big improvement from before, with a nice design, letter to supporters and donate link. But Iya, get some info on specifics up there! I'm upgrading my score to a 4/10, so there is definitely more work to do. Give me a reason to come back to your site!
Intelligent, genuine, articulate, knowledgeable, affable, and seems younger in person than she seems on TV or in Print.
Web Presence: 7.5/10 stars Website? Check (though woefully unfinished, poorly designed and low-fi - except for the rss feeds). Facebook? Check. Twittering? Check (and with sparse but very decent community-minded tweets).
** UPDATE (7-10-2009):
No significant improvement on the Helene Schnieder website front. It's still as ghetto as can be. She's still twittering occasionally, but meaningfully (though she should have a link from Twitter profile page to campaign website!). No movement on the rating scale on this one. :(
Clearly very bright, experienced, charming, knowledgeable, genuine and articulate. She spoke to the group comfortably, and didn't shy away from being direct.
Web Presence: 7.5/10 stars Very good. Her twitter skills are formidable (she's RTing and @ing like a pro) and uses it like a normal (community aware) person. She's also on Facebook, and has a decent website (that even has a Google translation widget).
** UPDATE (7-10-2009):
Nothing new to report
Direct, serious, and clearly very involved in the community, David didn't come off as polished as some of the other candidates but that gives him a certain Michael Moore bad-ass feel. Seemed a bit nervous tonight.
Web Presence: 8/10 stars Great. David is also keeping up. His tweets are useful and often amusing, his Facebook page is there (albeit a little impersonal), and most impressively, he co-produces 'Off-Leash Public Affairs' which is a community access show he does with Cathy Murillo. The segments are posted to their blog and updated regularly. His website is here.
** UPDATE (7-10-2009):
Nothing new to report. Not twittering much. Not much that's new on the website.
At 24, Olivia is the youngest candidate running for City Council. She also seemed a little nervous during her moment on the hot-seat. During the Q&A session she was asked a few questions that felt like they might push her into 'everywhere-like-such-as' territory, but she recovered gracefully (though her answers were a bit vague). But she did better than I would have at 24.
Web Presence: 8/10 For a young person, so-so. She's clearly a net-near-native, but her tweets don't really indicate a particularly strong sense of community (though that's not a requirement, she uses it like a normal college student, which may or may not be a good sign). Her website is 'under construction' (I guess it is early-ish in the season). Naturally, she's on LinkedIn, Facebook etc. etc.
** UPDATE (7-10-2009):
Great improvement on the website. It's now filled with videos, a bio, and appropriate links and what-not. Upgrading score to 8.5/10. Nice job team Uribe! This campaign, along with all the others could still really make some serious online improvements (See Grant House's update for more info).
Mr. House, the only City Council member who is running as an incumbent also seemed very straight forward, compassionate, intelligent, and concise. He gracefully illustrated his background, ideas and addressed questions directly with more specificity than most of the other candidates. He also seems to have his eye on a larger local picture, emphasizing the necessity of a big voter turn-out, and long term planning.
Web Presence: 8/10 Grant has the best (most information rich) traditional campaign website out of the bunch (though it still feels a little too old-school campaigny - doesn't quite fit his personality). Grant is also predictably on Twitter, Facebook etc. and does a decent job of keeping up. ** UPDATE (7-10-2009):
I just looked at Mr. House's webpage again. It's full of wonderful material that is woefully lacking in the other candidates websites. It actually HAS information on his positions. This not only indicates courage (we all know why politicians choose at times to be vague), but honesty and humility. I'm upgrading House to a 9.5/10.
Who cares? The Significance of Technology in the Local Political Process
So while writing these mini-critiques, I noticed I was having a little debate in my head. One voice said "who cares if Iya Falcone's web presence sucks? It doesn't effect her ability to be a great public servant". But the other voice (the one that won the debate) said in response, "Yes, but we're at the SB Young Democrats meeting for God's sake! A public servant who is uninterested or ignoring the channels through which information now flows, and people engage each other, would be woefully out of touch with the young (and increasingly older) demographic in the community."
As a young person (any person?), I want information on all my candidates to be easy to find online, and presented in a way that is easy to understand. What I don't want is to be digging through a stack of old newspaper articles, flyers and other dead trees to see where a candidate stands on issues.
The web has presented our generation with an unprecedented opportunity to enhance local democracy. We should have politicians who understand this potential and can use it to improve government and civic life.
I'm sure that I am not alone in being impressed by the Democratic field. I have a hunch that I am also not alone in wanting to raise the digital bar for local politicians. This doesn't mean they have to keep a Tumblr blog, or set up a Flickr account. It just means that the presentation that they make to the increasingly online community must be clear, honest, and most importantly - flow in both directions.
For candidates (present and future) wishing to improve their campaign web presence (I will be revisiting this list later in the season), here is a great list of tips for building a better political campaign website:
I will be reviewing the other more conservative candidates in a similar fashion soon.
in the interest of full disclosure.. I am a web-designer by day, so I am probably a little more aware of design flaws etc. than I might have been otherwise.
Tags: santa barbara mayoral race, santa barbara city council race, iya falcone for mayor, helene schnieder for mayor, grant house, olivia uribe, dianne channing, david pritchett, rustys pizza, tudor santa barbara, video games, internet democracy, mayoral race photos, santa barbara city council and mayoral candidates positions, discussion
This thing has always tripped me out. From what I am told, it is also
(apparently) the reason I got a fix-it ticket for having a clear (non-
tinted) cover on my license plate. Apparently, it's the law even if
the plate is totally readable (CVC 5201 (f) ). I should clarify, I
got the ticket before this little gremlin was put into use - because
the SBPD anticipated that they wouldn't be able to read or scan my
plate properly with the new gizmo. I just get a sinking feeling
every time Wall-E here rolls past. Aren't those two back cameras
looking at each other lovingly? Like they might have children?
Tags: meter maid, santa barbara, interceptor iii, camera cops, presidio, panino
Ethan and I went out to the Red Cross Shelter at the MAC Center at UCSB. It felt a little weird being there to take pictures. We weren't capturing the flames, or even the homes of that some of these people lost. We were just witnessing a sort-of surreal purgatory. A purgatory full of people in their pajamas, wandering around an indoor hockey rink, eating, charging their phones, and witnessing big water planes spray orange fire-retardant on their neighborhoods. Though we weren't sure what we were expecting, most of them seemed a little bored and tired of waiting.
I spoke for a few minutes to a guy that I hadn't seen since high school. His story matched most of the others we've been hearing. He recalled thinking how much he thought it sucked that certain areas closer to Mission Canyon were being burnt, with that guilty excitement that many of us feel when something BIG happens in our town. Then the fire started racing west. Then they got the warning call. Then the Jesusita fire (if you didn't know this is spanish for 'Baby Jesus' you do now) jumped highway 154. Then it was time to leave, which he and his family did along with other stunned neighbors, and here he is, looking for a place to plug in his dead iPhone.
The Red Cross facilities are top-notch. They are well-staffed (and well-volunteered), clean, and internet equipped. There are even a bunch of plasma screen TV's set up here or there, each surrounded some mildly dazed evacuees in folding chairs and blankets.
There was even a second gymnasium that was all ready to go with several hundred cots, garbage cans, and stacks of bottled water in the corners. The Red Cross gets huge kudos for being so on top of it. Happily, because of their competence, there is very little else to report.
Here are some photos:
The Women's section (I'm guessing this was the quieter end of the rink).
Volunteer getting snacks ready.
Another Volunteer getting cozy with the staff.
Watching the planes drop retardant.
Watching the DC-10 big drop.
Sheriff Bill Brown tours the facilities with entourage of Red Cross Staffers, journalists and officers.
Keep up to date with the latest headlines from the Indy, Daily Sound, Nexus, Craig Smith, etc on the City2 Headlines Page.
Tags: jesusita fire, santa barbara, fire, wildfire, may 2009, goleta, alamar fire, san roque, shelters, pet shelters, earl warren showgrounds, night photos, photography, photographs, helicopter, staging, firetrucks, las positas, time lapse, day 4, red cross shelter, evacuee photos
On Sunday, I rode my bike a few sweaty blocks to the Earth Day festival - which always seems to land on unbelievably hot days. I almost didn't bring my camera (the extra weight and awkwardness of riding with an SLR in the heat didn't sound fun) but decided to do it hoping that I might get lucky and snap a few nice shots for City2.
When I got to Alemeda Park, I did some milling around, looking for tents that had something new, or interesting (or shade). As always, the folks there (sweating in the afternoon heat) were far more pleasant and upbeat than they should have been.
After a few interesting conversations (about the proposed expansion of Elings park or or how to get organic food delivered to your doorstep etc) I weaved through the hula-hooping hippies, nearly naked (possibly drunk) 20-something party girls and fire dancers, to talk to a friend I saw hanging out near the Twin Productions music tent. As soon as I shook his hand, I heard over the loudspeakers that Elon Musk and Louis Capps (among others) were due on stage shortly to receive Earth Day Environmental Heros Awards. I was suddenly thrilled to have been lugging around my camera (which was now stuck to my back). I asked my friend, "did he just say Elon Musk?". My friend nodded, and then nervously scanned the area with his eyes (maybe for clues?) feeling a little self-conscious that he had no idea who Elon Musk was - especially after seeing the excited expression on my face. He finally said, "yeah, he's that really cool musician right?"
At that point, we had a wonderfully awkward conversation. My friend (we'll call him Chuck) was embarrassed to not know who Musk was (and I started making self-deprecating comments about myself being a big enough internet dork to know who he was in the first place). Anyway.. now we're on the same page and have agreed that:
A: Musk is God. B: I am still a big dork. and C: It was high time to hunt down smoothies to prevent total heat stroke.
But first, we had to listen to the award ceremony.
Now, liking Louis Capps is kind of a given if you live in Santa Barbara. Even people who disagree with her politics have a fondness and respect for her many years of honest and genuine service to our community. So it was great to see her all fired up to present the awards.
I had a similar happy feeling about seeing 14 year old Kids vs Global Warming founder Alec Loorz receive his award. Awesome person. It's great to see people so young so committed to making positive change.
But Elon Musk! If you don't know who he is, don't feel bad..The crowd didn't seem to either. He isn't exactly a household name (yet).
Musk is a stunningly successful (and impressively young and altruistic) entrepreneur. At 37, his resume looks a little like this: He dropped out of a Stanford High-Energy Physics grad program to found 'Zip2' (which provided online publishing software for news organizations) and sold it for $307M (in cash) plus another odd $30Million in stock options in 1999. He went on to co-found X.com which later became PayPal. He is currently the founder and CEO (and CTO) of SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies), which develops efficient space launch vehicles. And if that weren't enough new-model-entrepreneurship for you, he also launched Tesla Motors, which is a car company builds high end EV roadsters (which were of course on display - and stealing the show - at the car show portion of Earth Day). Musk is also the Chairman of the board at Solar City. Both companies underlying purpose is to combat global warming. If you'd like to know more about him, try here.
Getting to shake his hand (and nearly fall over myself telling him that I was a fan) was an unexpected and happy surprise. He was very polite and humble as we spoke for a minute. Then, quietly excusing himself, he was off (in the direction of the smoothies - now I couldn't go or I'd look like I was a stalker).
It is great to see (and sometimes even meet) entrepreneurs who realize that 'doing the right thing' and 'making money' aren't necessarily diametrically opposed. In an age with so much corporate corruption and looking out for #1 mentality, it's refreshing to see an increasing number successful companies (Google, Patagonia, etc) and individuals who are slowly proving that this new humanistic model for business is viable. I'm looking forward to seeing what Mr. Musk does next. My guess is Tesla Motors will be a household brand in less than 5 years and he'll have his hands full with interviews, and even more globetrotting to promote the project. But knowing him, he could be terraforming Mars at the same time.
Burnt, tired and perma-grinning, I walked my bike home. Happy to have been ambushed by a much better-than-expected day.
A final note on Earth Day: Each year, I am more and more impressed with the scope of the Earth Day Festival. My hat is off to the wonderful folks at the Community Environmental Council for orchestrating a meaningful local event.
When I saw the light frosting of snow on the mountains today (around 12:30), I decided to take a long lunch and hiked to one of my favorite spots near Gibralter road.
After mucking through the 4-inch-thick snow and mud for about a half-mile, I arrived at my special place, a giant flat rock that overlooks the city. At this particular spot on the mountain, the weather is hard to predict. Sometimes Santa Barbara is blanketed in fog leaving a sea of white. Sometimes it's crystal clear (so much so that you can see the canyons and beaches on the Channel Islands). Today, SB was partially obscured by beautiful little misty clouds that were forming right in front of me on the mountainside (evaporating snow!).
I snapped a bunch of pictures, and then - seeing the clouds quickly moving back in, I slogged my way back down the trail in my now soaking wet jeans and shoes.
When I got back to my car on Camino Cielo, there was an increasing flow of SUV's and nobby-tired trucks coming up the mountain, signaling the usual once-every-5-year Santa Barbaran snow pilgrimage had officially begun.
We coastal people always seem to be completely gobsmacked by local snow. Each time it happens, a bunch of kids with their parents, teenagers, and other curious folks always rush up the mountain to pack the bottom of their windshields with snow, or to chuck snowballs at passing cars before it all melts - which usually happens within a few hours.
Up on Camino Cielo today, everyone was strangely friendly. EVERYONE waves and smiles at each other from their cars. Even the douchebag guys with their oversized trucks offered to escort me (and my significantly less masculine 2-wheel-drive Honda) through the more frozen part of the road. It's like a natural disaster, when everyone drops what they're doing to help others in need - without the natural disaster. I wish it snowed here more.
Santa Ynez Mountains
Santa Barbara in the background
Santa Barbara over sandstone outcropping
Trail on the north side of the mountain
Santa Barbarans reveling in the snow (this was right before I got nailed with a big snowball, thrown by unknown assailant)
I would actually recommend chains.. But then again, I grew up here and don't know jack about snow driving.
Tags: sbweather, snow, santa barbara, mountains, storm, snowballs, 4x4
I went to the Santa Barbara Shorts screening at Victoria Hall Wednesday night for a very diverse and enjoyable set of films (nine in all). The sb shorts are an interesting and often neglected little vein of SBIFF, which are predominantly attended by those either involved directly in the making of one of the films, or those related to someone who was. From what I gather - due to the relative lack of obstacles for 'getting a piece into SBIFF if you're a Santa Barbarian' - there is a considerable lack of interest on the part of the greater public - probably because it is widely assumed that the quality of local entries is sub-par compared to the rest of the festivals screenings. To some degree, I understand this logic. On the other hand, there is a rushed freshness to most of these pieces, which makes for some truly unique and enjoyable film experiences.
There were probably two or three obvious standouts, some doozies, and others that fell somewhere inbetween. Here are some thoughts on them in order of appearance.
Based loosely on a Dave Eggers short story, Anatomy of Numbers (dir Erin Cantelo) was a sweet, intimate portrayal of two lovers in bed flirting, fondling - and eventually making love. Filmed in warm tones, it showcased subtle human gestures, vulnerable moments, and some of the more complex cultural norms that effect our most personal moments (in this case revolving around how many sexual partners each person had had in the past). Though there were brief moments where I was reminded that the people on screen were acting, Cantelo's sophisticated eye (exquisite lighting and depth of field camerawork), humor, sound choices and a acute sense of human charm, vulnerability, and cultural baggage made it obvious that we'll be seeing more of her wonderful work in the future. ****1/2(4.5 stars)
A Room for Sarah (dir Ginger Swanson) was a faux 1920's era silent film, based on a true story, about a woman confined by her brother (and his nasty wife) to an upstairs room in their late father's house. The film did not hold together (though there was a narrative) for me. The filming was not convincing (even for a Chaplinesque musical silent flim) or particularly engaging. **1/2 (2.5 stars)
Business (dir John McKinney) stood out from the beginning with it's off-kilter edgy humor, augmented pacing and bizarre but compelling characters Caleb and Walker. The 19 minute film chronicles a continuous set of situational non-sequiturs that follow Caleb's challenges after inheriting a very non-glamourous office building that he is determined to use to 'make lots of money'.. somehow. Though there was an almost undetectable narrative, McKinney maintained a comical and spellbinding comedy that had everyone either on the edge of their seats, or in danger of falling on the floor from laughter. Though not intentional (I asked John after the film) I thought it also had subtle shades of Zach, Tim and Eric, which is never a bad thing. Easily, one of my 2 favorite shorts this year. ****1/2(4.5 stars)
The Early Worm (dir Ray Pivato) was a super lo-fi 'day in the life' of a poor business man who gets up early to do his thing, only to be foiled by a series horrible misfortunes. Though it had a lot of cheap laughs, and great cursing repetition, it dragged on a few minutes too long. *** (3 stars)
En Route (dir Karl Mefford) featured race-cars, super sharp bond-like cinematography, and even a little twist, but smacked a little too much of too much budget (and equipment) and too little planning or attention to narrative. Seemed more like an afternoon 'boy's playing with an expensive camera and expensive cars' than something you'd want to go see outside of your friends living-room. ** (two stars).
The Fisherman (dir Jason Hallows) had a fresh take on the old Genie in a Bottle story. A fisherman, while having a smoke catches a typical genie lantern in his fishing net, at which point things get a little weird. Shot and produced in less than a week, this short was impressive both because of it's built in sense of humor and curiosity, and for a very unique set of visual effects. I thought It could have been developed more though. I would love to see what Hallows could come up with in twice or three times the time. ***1/2 (3.5 stars).
Rashi Bahri's film Sarah (yeah, I know, second one with that name in one night) was a difficult to watch, but courageous piece of fiction that depicted a young woman tortured by nightmares of drowning, who decides to confront her fear. Though the director plays some old-school (and possibly played-out) cinematic tricks, there are many stylistic and emotional subtleties that invite a second viewing. it was also consistently and convincingly suspenseful. The film does a good job of showcasing and elaborating on human emotions that are too often oversimplified. ***1/2 (3.5 stars)
Showing Disaster: Tea Fire Reflections (dir Ethan Turpin), which was only 4 minutes long, stood out because of its self-reflexive dissection of ethical questions surrounding the documenting of disaster. Turpin delicately (but simply and clearly) unpacked complex ideas like cultural voyeurism, empathy, and subsistence in a non-conclusive (and refreshingly honest) style. Showing Disaster invited far more comments and questions than the other shorts, which I believe is usually an indication of a very strong work of art. ****1/2 (4.5 stars)
We Have Lost our Wings but Still We Dream of Flying (dir Elia Vargas) was (for me) the low point of the shorts screening. Vargas chose a split screen presentation for this film, depicting both a romantic (and voyeuristic) scene of a beautiful girl rolling around in a field in the wind on one side, and a dismal, green-toned, dark indoor scene with a male figure sitting alone beside a lamp on the other. I thought that the imagery was actually strong, as was the soundtrack - which consisted of compelling swelling squelchy electric ambient noise. But the whole thing was ruined by what sounded like a morbid high-school goth-kids all-too-long monologue about how 'the world' is 'puke', decaying and devoid of goodness. It's not the sentiment that was off-putting, but the delivery, which seemed to lack any awareness of how played-out and sophomoric it might actually be. Though earnest and occasionally interesting, 'Flying' left me pretty flat. *1/2 (1.5 stars)
Tags: sbiff, santa barbara international film festival, sbarts