Monday, December 31, 2007

New Livingroom for a New Year

Yesterday I finally got around to two things I've been meaning to do for a while. First I unpacked some boxes of things from my office at my last job. I left that job almost 2 years ago! Clearly I didn't really need anything that was in there, but I was tired of these boxes taking up so much space in my home office. I was amused when I unpacked them and discovered that there was very little that had to do with work - mostly it was comics, toys, and games that had been sent to me because I used to occasionally write about that kind of stuff. I gave a lot of them away at the time, but kept some of my favorites.

The other thing I did was rearrange the furniture in my living room. I had this trunk/coffee table in the middle of the room, but I never used it as a table, it's pretty much just a place for me to pile books on. As a result, it just sat in the middle of the room, taking up a lot of space and making the various seating options seem distant and uninviting. I finally owned up to the reality of the situation and moved the trunk off to the corner of the room (where it can continue to serve it's function as a place to put books). I also moved the chair and loveseat to new locations. The room is much more open now, and I think I'm much more likely to sit in the chairs.

I'll post a photo soon. Still have to sort through some of the clutter that resulted from all the rearranging.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Flickr Fetishists

Seth sandwich
Originally uploaded by Mirka23

I can't decide if it's amusing or creepy when someone who clearly has a fetish marks one of my photos as a favorite on flickr. Let me point out that the photos in question are all definitely non-sexual. The first time I noticed this was with this photo I took at a friend's magic show. Three people added this as a favorite, and when I looked at other favorite photos by these users, I found that they were nearly all photos of women wearing boots, or stepping on someone, and sometimes the boot was being licked.

The next one to get this kind of attention was a scanned photo of me and a friend, about 10 years old, wearing shorts and knee socks. This was favorited by two people, one of whom seems to have a fetish about knees and/or shins, the other of whom seems to have a more specific children-wearing-knee-sock fetish. This is definitely more on the side of full blown "creepy." Enough so that I keep trying to tell myself that maybe there's some other explanation for having tagged 122 "favorite" photos of sports teams, class photos, and other little boys and girls wearing knee socks. This one creeps me out enough that I'm not even going to link to the photo.

The latest is kind of the most amusing. I love watches, and I seem to be particularly drawn to watches that are kind of impractical (in other words, hard to read for some reason or another). I took a bunch of photos of them, and created a flickr set. Last year, one watch/wrist fetishist left some comments on one of the photos. That account has since been deleted. But recently another person has taken up the thread. Who knows, maybe it's the same person. All I know for sure is that he (I know, I'm being presumptive here) has 465 favorite photos of women's wrists, arms and hands. Many of them wearing a watch or bracelet.

The weird thing about these watch people (if they are in fact two different people) is that both of them have tried to engage me in participate in their fetish activity. None of the others left comments, but both of these people not only left comments, but also asked me something along the lines of "Do you have any other watches?" The recent one peppers in some innocuous seeming compliments about the beauty of the watch, and the wrist it is on, but I'm not falling for it. If you must fetishize my watches, people, you'll have to do it on your own.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Geek = Sucker

I am pissed off at Geek Monthly magazine. For some reason they think it's ok to punish their early adopter readers.

See, I bought the first two issues of the magazine. It wasn't brilliant literature, but it covered a lot of the kinds of things that I like, and it looked pretty slick. So I bought a subscription - $39.95 for a year, which was six isues (see, despite being called Geek Monthly, the magazine was only coming out bi-monthly). The first issue I received in my sub was issue #3. It arrived so much later than it appeared on the stands that I had already bought a copy at the store, but that's not entirely their fault, I suppose.

However, at the same time they announced that they were truly going monthly, and I immediately noticed that the new subscription price was $39.95 for 12 issues. Surely they'd give me the rate that was active when I received my first issue, right?

Issue #4 came out. Then, for no apparent reason, the next issue was considered a double issue. It was the exact same size, but numbered issue 5/6. Inexplicably, issue #7 was only given out to people who went to Comic Con, and somehow I missed it. Oh wait, apparently you can also get it with the final issue of some magazine called Rocket... but it wasn't sent out to subscribers of Geek Monthly. So the next issue I got was issue #8. Where I learned that the subscription price has now gone down to $19.95 for a year (12 issues).

Now, it's come to my attention that issue #9 came out last week. I haven't received my copy yet, and that reminded me that I should check on the status of my subscription. Tried sending an email via the link on their site marked "For questions about your subscription to Geek Monthly." The email bounced. No phone numbers listed on the site, but there is one in the magazine. So I called today.

I tell the woman on the phone my situation, and she tells me that the reason I didn't get issue #7 is: "it doesn't exist." (And yet they have the audacity to use the cover on their subscription card, above). She also informs me that my subscription is up "with the last issue." Let me recap - I've received 4 issues:

  • #3 (which I had already bought)
  • #4
  • #5/6
  • #8
For which I paid $39.95. That means I've paid $10 an issue. That's 166% of the cover price. And 625% of the current subscription price! That is completely screwed up.

Oh, she offered me the option to renew my subscription at half price - only $9.99 for another year. Are you kidding me? I explained that this was ridiculous, and they absolutely had to extend my subscription. She put me on hold for a while so she could talk it over with her manager. Eventually she came back and said that my subscription has been extended to March. "How many issues is that?" I asked. "Eight," she said, "it's a year." So... basically, I'm getting 2 extra issues (over the original six I was supposed to get).

I should have pushed this further, but I was at work, I was already having a really crappy day, I had already spent too much time on the phone with this woman, and I had to meet with people about work-related things.

So, I concede this round, Geek Monthly magazine. But I will be calling again. And you should probably keep in mind that your dissatisfied customers are exactly the kinds of people who would complain about it in their blogs.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

America's Next Top Drunken Ho

This evening I went out with some friends from work. Someone mentioned that we were seeing a lot of really weird people out, doing weird things. What I saw when I was on my way home topped all the others.

On my block, there was a group of about 6 drunk chicks, standing around what looked like a discarded bar stool. Two of them had taken off their jackets and shirts and were posing together, in their bras, on the stool. A third chick was taking their picture. I had to step over the pile of clothes on the ground and walk through this group in order to get to my apartment. They seemed about to wrap up, but as I walked through the chick with the camera says, "Oh, Karen's here! You ready Karen?"

I looked at her and said, "uh, no" and kept going. Honestly, they kinda freaked me out a little.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The OC's Bagel Cutter

This evening at my mom's we were sitting around talking when the topic turned to TV. My sister's boyfriend, Luke, admitted that he kind of enjoyed The O.C., having recently watched an entire season on DVD with Carla. For some reason I can't recall I mentioned the bagel cutter a few times and Luke asked me why I was talking about that. Carla was mystified as well. I said something along the lines of...

Well, the father is this Jewish guy from New York and he married a blonde Californian woman, but they love to eat bagels and that represents how he holds on to his roots. Plus everyone's always meeting up first thing in the morning and talking about important things and having a bagel. It's a very unique and pivotal item in their household.

Then Carla got caught up in the discussion and took it one step further, pointing out that the bagel cutter takes this very New York thing and adds a weird Orange County twist - a specially designed contraption, as if they can't just cut a bagel with a knife, like a normal person would.

Luke looked kind of surprised and amused and asked if I had thought about this bagel cutter a lot, or if I had read about it on blogs or something. I said neither, though I was aware that the bagel cutter was a beloved and significant object on the show, I came up with this analysis about it on the fly. I don't know if he believed me.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Halo 3 Launch Event

Originally uploaded by Mirka23
My friend Aaron Lemay is an art director for Bungie, the game development company responsible for Halo 3. He's in NYC for a big launch event here in town, and I figured the best way to get to see him was to head over there and check it out.

People were lined up outside the Best Buy on 45th & 5th, waiting for the game to go on sale at midnight. Several different TV channels and shows were doing ongoing coverage of the event, including G4.

When Aaron wasn't being interviewed, I helped him hand out t-shirts to the voracious fans waiting on line. Before I knew it, I had been there for three hours!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Linking In with Kevin Bacon

I was searching for a co-worker on LinkedIn and one of the results that popped up presumed to be Kevin Bacon's LinkedIn page. I suppose, in some sense, it makes sense. The actor who inspired a game called "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" should probably be represented on every networking site. Still, I somehow don't believe that it's him.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Evil Review

As I perused the Toronto Film Festival schedule, one of the films I considered seeing was Alan Ball's directorial debut. After reading this review of Nothing is Private from The Reeler, I'm really glad that I didn't.

Don't read the review if you're easily offended. And definitely don't see the movie.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

TIFF continued

On Sunday, September 9th, I saw two films. The first was Ang Lee's Lust, Caution. I had been trying to get a ticket to see this ever since tickets went on sale, but they were never available. When I picked up my other tickets the guy advised me to go online at 7am, because any unclaimed industry tickets would become available then. I did, and I got one, which was a huge relief because it meant I didn't have to head out to the Rush line at 7am, in the rain, not knowing whether or not I would actually even get in!

The film was great. Tony Leung (one of the main reasons I wanted to see it) played a truly horrible person, who is somehow really compelling anyway. You can't help but hate him and be fascinated by him at the same time. And that's just how the heroine feels about him, too, so it's very appropriate. While I was watching it I was thinking, "There's no way this film is getting an R rating." Later I found out it's going to be rated NC-17. A little bit of violence, and a lot of graphic sex.

Later that day I saw Nightwatching, by another favorite director, Peter Greenaway. I'm not sure how I felt about this one. There were some things I really liked about it, but it was dense, and I was tired, and I wasn't following it all that well. It was gorgeous, and Martin Freeman was great as Rembrant. But if I want to know what was actually going on with all the intrigue, I'm definitely going to have to see it again.

On Monday morning I saw The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Is that the longest title in movie history? Probably not, but it's considerably longer than it needs to be, I think. The film itself is aslo quite long, and when director Andrew Dominik stepped on stage to greet us before the screening he said he hates introducing the film. He said it's long, it's slow, and he hoped we all had plenty of coffee that morning. Not a real enthusiastic way of introducing your film, I have to say. Or maybe he was just being overly modest, in reaction to the media frenzy surrounding the film's star. (And no, Brad Pitt wasn't there for this early morning screening, making it a much less frenzied event).

Anyway, he needn't have been so apologetic. I thought the movie was great. Yes, it was long (2 hours and 40 minutes), but it was very engaging. I've seen much shorter movies where I was looking at my watch and wondering when it would be over. Brad was great in it, as were Casey Affleck, Sam Shepard, Sam Rockwell, and many others. I'd certainly recommend it to people.

The last film I saw before heading back to NYC was probably my favorite - a film by Jason Reitman called Juno. It stars Ellen Page as the title character, a high school girl who gets pregnant and decides to give the baby up for adoption. She finds a good candidate family in Jennifer Gartner and Jason Bateman. Oh, and her friend/baby daddy is played by Michael Cera. The script by Diablo Cody is excellent - hilarious and very real. I was laughing pretty much the whole way through.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


One thing I failed to disclose about the Brad & Angelina red carpet madness in my posting yesterday: When I came out of the No Country screening and saw the huge crowd there, I couldn't help myself. I got a little swept away in the excitement.

I stuck around for a few minutes, and the couple soon arrived, to much shrieking and cheering. They walked up and down the barricades on both sides of the street, signing things and posing for photos. Really I could only tell this by the direction people were pointing their cameras, because mostly all I could see was the back of other spectator's heads. I did catch a quick glimpse of them as they walked by. And I managed to get a couple photos (poor quality I'm sure) by holding my camera as high as I could and aiming it randomly where I guessed they were. I haven't had a chance to get those off the camera yet, but I'll post something when I do.

I suppose that was worth waiting 5 minutes for, but I still can't understand the people who waited for 4 hours.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Toronto Film Festival

Today was my second day at TIFF. On Saturday morning I saw Chacun son Cinema - a collection of 3-minute shorts by a range of celebrated directors, on the topic of cinema, originally created to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Cannes.

Later in the day I saw the new Coen brothers film, No Country for Old Men. Pretty good stuff. Very violent & mysterious. Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem were both pretty amazing. The story, the characters, the dynamic between them, and the rampant brutality reminded me a little of History of Violence. Unfortunately, I was sitting in the balcony, and the sound was kind of crappy, so some of the dialogue went right by me.

At the venue, though, the screening was a little overshadowed by all the hoopla surrounding the imminent arrival of the world's most newsworthy couple, Brad and Angelina. See, Brad Pitt's new movie was premiering in the same theater immediately following No Country, and the festival actually closed off the entire street in front of the theater four hours before the film, in preparation for the red carpet. When we went into the theater for the Coen Bros film, there were already hundreds of people lined up out front, waiting by the barricades. By the time we came out of the theater, the crowd had taken over the entire block.

And, of course the power couple was on the cover of most of the Toronto papers today. I thought the choice of the above image, by the Toronto Star, was kind of odd. Aside from being a really unflattering angle, they both look exhausted and miserable. She looks on the verge of tears! Maybe it's a little hard to tell from the online version of the photo, but blown up bigger on the front of the newspaper, it looks much worse.

More about the other films I saw when I get back to the U.S. in a couple days.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Why I missed out on Newsies

A few years ago I had the thrilling opportunity to conduct a brief interveiw with Joss Whedon. One of the questions I was obliged to ask him was about his favorite pop culture guilty pleasures. He mentioned a musical called Newsies. I couldn't really understand how it could be that I had never heard of this film, but for some reason I didn't look into it any further.

In today's Entertainment Weekly there's a feature article on Christian Bale, which includes a sidebar about his leading role in Newsies. And now I finally understand that the reason I'd never heard of it is that it came out in April, 1992 and I was living in Paris at the time. Here's a clip of one of the musical dance numbers from the film.

I wonder what else I missed that year. I wonder if Joss thought, "What kind of crappy entertainment reporter hasn't heard of Newsies??" (By the way, I still haven't seen it, but I think I have to someday).

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Pretty Golfing Skater Boi

Walking around Greenwich Village I saw a preppy guy riding a skateboard, with a bag of golf clubs in one hand, and in the other hand he had a Sephora bag and was talking on a cell phone.

Friday, August 17, 2007

San Diego Comic-Con 2007

I finally finished posting all my photos from this year's comic-con. Click on the photo to see them all.
This year I was only there for 2 and a half days, but still saw and did plenty of interesting things. I have to say, it's getting so crowded, I'm not sure how much longer I'm going to be able to put up the fight to attend the convention!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

William Gibson Book Signing

William Gibson signs books
Originally uploaded by Mirka23

This afternoon I went to a book reading/signing by William Gibson, for his new book Spook Country. Very cool - I didn't even know he did such things! It's hard to imagine the "grandfather of cuberpunk" appearing in public.

He read a chapter from the new book, and then took some questions. The questions seemed kind of uninspired, but it was still pretty fun. William Gibson wasn't really like I expected.

Also, I used a facebook event to invite/remind a few of my pals. By total coincidence, we found ourselves at the reading sitting right behind the guy who had put the event into facebook. We recognized him and said hi. He was kind of surprised that anyone else had actually used it!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Police

The Police
Originally uploaded by Mirka23
A couple weeks ago I went to see the Police. Twice. The first show was at Madison Square Garden - relatively intimate, I suppose. I wasn't sure what to expect, because there's been so much hype and everything. But they were actually quite fabulous.

From my perspective, it took a little while for the show to get warmed up. There were some good songs at the beginning, but the show really hit a good stride when they started playing "Wrapped around my finger" about half way in, and then it was really amazing for pretty much the rest of the time.

Some of the updates they've made to the songs were a little disconcerting, I have to admit. "Don't stand so close to me" (traditionally one of my favorites) was a little too... upbeat and poppy. It should be a more angsty and tormented song, I think.

The second show I saw was at Giants Stadium. This was the last show in the first U.S. leg of the world tour. I went a second time so that I could see the show with some friends who weren't able to get tickets to the MSG show, but I'm glad I did. I think the setlist was the same, but the stage was bigger, with more lights and screens and everything. They filled the stadium just as well as they filled the Garden, I think.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Beastie Boys

Tonight I saw the Beastie Boys at Summerstage in Central Park. Totally amazing. It was definitely worth braving the heat to see these guys do such a small, intimate show in their home town.
Last time I saw them was at Madison Square Garden, the show that was made into the movie Awesome... I fuckin' shot that! It was an epic show, of course, with lots of costume changes, smoke machines, and hours of great music. But this was so much better. For one thing, they were right there! I could actually see them without the aide of projections on a screen. They also seemed a lot more relaxed and they were talking, joking, having fun along with the crowd.

And they played a lot of classic stuff. Some newer songs, and some really, really old ones. I love the fact that three white rap stars in their early 40s would be up on stage playing punk songs they wrote when they were kids. How incredible is that? If there are people doing that, it makes me feel alright about getting older.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


I've been totally neglecting this blog. It's not because I have nothing to say, and it's not because I'm too busy to jot down a couple words about the things I've been doing in the past few weeks. It's because I haven't had time to post all my photos from my recent cross-country road trip, and the weekend I spent at the San Diego Comic-con.

So, I was waiting to finish that before I write about the things I've done since. But I decided that's silly, so I'm going to stop doing that. I'll come back to those things when the photos are posted. It's not like I'm going to forget about them!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Top 10 Movies: 2006

Oh, I just noticed that I posted my top 10 (plus) movies from the 5 previous years, but I forgot to post my favorite films from 2006. So, here they are:
  • Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
  • Clean
  • An Inconvenient Truth
  • The Departed
  • Stranger Than Fiction
  • Casino Royale
  • Little Miss Sunshine
  • Marie Antoinette
  • Brick
  • The Queen

Plus a few that deserve honorable mention:

  • Half Nelson
  • Notes on a Scandal
  • Last King of Scotland
  • Children of Men

Man - it seems like I saw those films sooooo long ago!

Thursday, August 2, 2007


I love this site: The Speech Accents Archive

You can listen to people from all over the world read the same paragraph in English, and here what different accents sound like. It's such a simple concept for a site, but so very engaging - it's hard to tear myself away from it!

The Routine

My friend Matt created a video showing his comedy routine. He seamlessly edited together bits of jokes from different performances, and it's kinda hilarious to see how it does or doesn't diverge from one night to the next. Check out Matt Parker's Routine on YouTube.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Cross country road trip

Roadtrip 1: JFK
Originally uploaded by Mirka23
I'm on a cross country road trip with my sister, Carla, who's moving to California. We're about half way there, maybe a little more. I've been taking pictures here and there, though we don't really get out of the car all that much so a lot of the photos are blurry pictures of highway signs. Until I get home and can get them off my camera, I've been sending a few shots every day from my Treo. You can see them all on my flicker account, and follow allong with our travels!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

An epic day

What a strange day. It was bound to be a little unusual, if only because I am heading off on vacation tomorrow, and that always means there's a lot to do to get ready.

But this morning started out extra weird when I was woken up by incredibly loud thunder, really close to the apartment. It was one of those feelings where you wake up and you don't really know what just happened. Was it a dream? Did something explode? Oh, there's a rain storm. It was so dramatic that when I left for work, other people from the building were spontaneously talking to each other about it.

The rest of the day went pretty much as expected. I wrapped things up at work, and then met up with my mom who happened to be just finishing up work herself. We wandered around a little and then headed towards Bryant Park. We soon noticed that there was a suspiciously large number of people just kind of hanging around the park, and many of them were on their phones. Clearly we had wandered into something, but I couldn't tell what.

Turned out something had exploded, which immediately put me in mind of the storm this morning. But it was actually caused by an electrical problem under a building at 41st and Lex. Very weird.

So, my mom and I headed downtown, away from the madness. We kept our eye on the news and checked online, and even though every report said "explosion near Grand Central," no one was saying anything about whether or not trains were running. Finally I called 311 and the guy read me the same press release I had been hearing on the news and reading on the web. But then he connected me to Metro North, where a message informed me that trains were running on schedule, but people could only enter on the Northwest side of the terminal.

I walked my mom to the subway so she could go catch a train home, and then stopped at Whole Foods. On my way home, a guy at the corner of the Anthology Film Archives told me that they were showing a free preview screening of Charlie Bartlett. Totally random! I knew I shouldn't go because I still hadn't packed for my trip. But I had been wanting to see it, and it was free, so I went!

It was strange, there were not many people there, and the organizers videotaped us commenting about the movie as we left. I thought it was a pretty decent film, though it seemed to be trying a little too hard at times. I was already thinking that it was definitely going for a sort of Harold & Maude vibe (without the May-December romance) and then they started singing "If you want to sing out, sing out." I'm choosing to view it as an homage.

Several of the actors from Degrassi: Next Generation were playing minor characters. I thought that was pretty cool.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bzzzzzzz... Stamps

I had to buy some 41 cent stamps today. The coolest looking ones at the USPS truck near my office where these stamps called "Pollination." But I asked the guy for "the stamps with the... birds and the bees" and midway through asking for them I decided this was really funny and weird. The guy in the truck didn't seem all that amused. Maybe he had heard that one too many times already.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Kwik-E-Mart in Times Square

Originally uploaded by Mirka23

The other night some friends and I went by the 7-Eleven on 42nd Street. It's been converted into a Kwik-E-Mart to promote the upcoming release of The Simpsons movie.

We had Squishees and everything. See some of my other Kwik-E-Mart photos on flickr.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Greatest moment in sports history?

Sportscasters tend to be prone to hyperbole, I guess.

I happened to watch the Hot Dog eating contest today (on TV, not in person), and I have to admit that I was curious to watch the eating contest, what with Joey Chestnut poised to break Takeru Kobayashi's 6 year winning streak, not to mention a few records.

And it did get pretty exciting towards the end, when they both broke the previous records with several minutes to go, and then they were neck and neck to the finish, and then there was that moment when Kobayashi apparently lost it - literally - right at the end there.

But still, I have trouble even calling competitive eating a sport, so I really think the ESPN announcers were kind of over the top in predicting that a win for Chestnut would be "the greatest moment in sports history." I'm curious to see what my dad thinks of this.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Indie comics!

This past Sunday I went to the MoCCA Arts Festvial in the Puck Building. Such a cool event. I saw some familiar faces - the Dumbrella guys, the good folks at Top Shelf, and the power couple of the NY comix scene - Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer.

There was so much amazing art, comix, stickers, t-shirts - very cool stuff. I got a few books, a print, a t-shirt from Squidfire, some stickers and a bunch of minicomics. I really dig the new trend of micro-mini comics!

Street Theater & Comedy

Street Theater
Originally uploaded by Mirka23

I left my apartment this evening and saw a crowd of people with umbrellas standing on the corner, watching a perfermonance by two people wrapped in cellophane. Someone actaully told me that this has been a regular occurance on that corner for a while now, but I forget who it is that's behind this street show.

I was actually on my way to the Upright Citizen's Brigade Theater to see a show called Shut Up! I Hate You! It's sort of a pop culture/current events round table hosted by Scott Brown (a hilarious guy that I used to work with) and Anthony King. The two of them also co-wrote Gutenberg! The Musical! which I think is simply brilliant. Hmm, I just noticed that they seem to like show titles with multiple exclamtion points...

Anyway, I had never seen Shut Up! before but it sounded like the kind of thing I would enjoy. It was very, very funny. It's hard to be specific, because it was pretty free-form. They showed video clips and then the panel - consisting of the two hosts plus Jason Mantzoukas, John Mulaney, Rebecca Drysdale and Josh Tyrangiel (Managing Editor of - would comment, discuss, make jokes, do impersonations, go on wild tangents, crack up, interrupt each other, etc and it was thoroughly entertaining. The next time they do this will be end of August, I'll have to go check it out again.

After the show I ran into Charlie Todd (his weekly improv smackdown show, Cage Match, was up next). I happened to be wearing my Improv Everywhere shirt, and he seemed to approve of that.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Mermaid Parade

Coney Island Mermaids
Originally uploaded by Mirka23

On Saturday I went to the Mermaid Parade at Coney Island. For nearly 7 years I have been saying that I would go. And finally I did! It was a beautiful day for it, not too hot. I got there two hours late, but the parade was still going on. When I first got to the boardwalk, I ran into two guys who I had played poker with the night before! Pretty weird, considering how crowded it was.

There were some really amazing costumes there, I have to say!

Update: I loaded up a bunch more photos. See my complete Mermaid Parade photoset here.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Hack Day London

Me and Chris
Originally uploaded by Mirka23
I've started to add my photos from Hack Day to Flickr. The photo at right shows me and Chris, trying to continue our hack after being evacuated from the West Hall into the adjacent Palm Court (where there were no power cords, and no wifi). See the rest of the photo set here.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

How rainy is London?

Today, at the first day of Hack Day, as I was listening to the conclusion of a very interesting talk about new Geo mobile APIs from Yahoo, there was a dramatic booming sound, the ceiling opened and it started raining inside the building.

See the video for a further explanation of what happened.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Off to London

I'm heading to London this evening. This will be somewhat new for me, because even though I've been to London 4 times in the past 6-7 years, I've only ever gone in late Fall or Winter. I'll write more about what I've been up to when I get back.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Shakespeare in the Park: Romeo & Juliet

On Sunday I went to see Romeo & Juliet, at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. This is an annual summer tradition. My friends and I pick a weekend day, go to the park at an absurdly early hour, and wait for free tickets. We bring blankets, food, games and books and the time usually flies by.

This time we got the best seats we've ever had - second row! Lauren Ambrose was Juliet and the role of Romeo was played by Oscar Isaac (who was in Two Gentleman of Verona a couple summers ago). I thought they were both fabulous. In all the times I've seen R&J, in one form or another, I have never been so highly aware of how much Juliet escalated the impetuous romance.

The set was this amazing rotating thing, filled with water in the middle, and a giant configurable arching stairway that I can't adequately describe. It was quite wonderful, but also kind of noisy when it was turning. This was a little distracting when they turned it while someone was speaking, but not too bad if they turned it between scenes.

A note for Brian, one of the few people I know who reads this blog regularly - Go see Lauren Ambrose in this play! Skip work if you have to!! I won't tell anyone :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Slight Fracture

Saturday I was playing in a video scavenger hunt. Early on we were running around at Coney Island and I attempted to do a weird little dance routine. Somehow, in the course of doing a high kick, I found both my legs flying out from under me. I landed on my butt, and broke my fall with my left hand. Much to the detriment of my left elbow.

It was swollen for a couple days, but I figured it would be ok once that cleared up. My regular doctor sent me to see a hand specialist, who took an X-ray and told me I have a small fracture in my elbow. It already feels a lot better, but I have to wear a wrist splint and keep my arm in asling for the next 3 weeks. This is going to be tough.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Sundance Institute at BAM, continued

Tonight I went to BAM to see Chasing Ghosts, another Sundance film that I didn't get to see out in Park City. The film was really good: a documentary about video game champions from the '80s (think "Dogtown and Z-boys" with Pac-man). But I was kind of tired and not in a great mood. After about 40 minutes I started feeling like it was too long. If it had been an hour-long special on TV, it would have been perfect for me at that time.

When I left BAM, I saw JJ Lask riding up on a bike. His film, On the Road with Judas, was screening next. That's one that Rohanna and I actually did see when we were out at Sundance. Kevin Corrigan, one of the stars of the film, came walking along after JJ. Without realizing what I was doing, I waved "hi" at Kevin, like a complete dork. He gave me a confused look, like "do I know you?" and I quickly just kept walking. What the hell? I never do that!

Kevin Corrigan
Originally uploaded by Mirka23

The only way I can explain this is that, when I saw JJ, I wanted to say hi to him. Because, see, we did actually talk to him at the screening. And Rohanna's roommate works for him, and was an extra in the film. So I guess you could say I'm two degrees from JJ Lask. But then he zipped by so quickly on his bike and my brain fixed on the next person it recognized, who happened to be Kevin, and transferred the greeting to him. Yeah, that sounds like a plausible theory.

Anyway, Kevin probably doesn't remember it, but I did have my picture taken with him at the film's premiere, back in January.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Pipettes

Originally uploaded by Mirka23

Tonight I went to see The Pipettes at the Highline Ballroom. I got their CD last fall, on a trip to London. They're just now releasing the EP here. They were pretty damn bubbly and fun.

Part-way through the show I noticed that their drummer is Joe Van Moyland, who plays the composer Thomas Tallis on Showtime's The Tudors. That was a little surreal.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Flashback: 90210 Weekly Wrapup

Before TelevisionWithoutPity there was the 90210 Weekly Wrapup. I don't think Daniel Drennan official had anything to do with TWoP (which was actually called Mighty Big TV when it first launched), but they definitely were inspired by him and his brilliant, hilarious, sometimes rambling recaps of Beverly Hills 90210. Here's one of their writers that even acknowledged it.

I watched Bev9 until the bitter end, but sometimes it was painfully bad. For the last few seasons, until the middle of the 9th season (when Drennan stopped doing the Wrapup for a while), reading his commentary was more entertaining than watching the actual show.

If you ever liked the show, I recommend reading some of the wrapups, and check out the Wrapup FAQ. Even that's hilarious! And if you find yourself really enjoying Drennan's writing, check out his book, New York Diaries.

The MTV Movie Awards Pre-show Sucks

I intended to watch the MTV Movie Awards the other day, mainly because I think Sarah Silverman is hilarious. I made the mistake of putting on the pre-show beforehand. It was truly awful.

When it wasn't a 30-minute commercial for The Transformers, they were making awkward comments about Lindsay Lohan's latest bout of self-destructive behavior ("We've all heard the rumors."), or awkwardly interviewing Paris Hilton, out there being a professional party-attender one more time before heading off to jail. The only thing that could have made it more awkward would be asking Paris what she thinks of Lindsay's self-desctructive behavior.

I really need to never hear or read anything about Paris Hilton again. I've said that many times before, but seriously, every time I do I just get annoyed. I try not to, I really do.
(After that, I couldn't quite stomach watching the awards show. It's on the DVR. I'll check it out later sometime and probably fast forward through most of it.)

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Baby Pigeons

Baby Pigeons
Originally uploaded by Mirka23
Last weekend I discovered that my air conditioner no longer works. I've had it for 4 years, so it wasn't that big a deal, I suppose. Yesterday I was measuring the window, with a mind to get a new AC, and I realized that the pigeon that likes to hang out on the thing had made a nest. Which was housing two baby pigeons.

Um. Luckily I had already decided to get a bigger AC this time, and it wouldn't fit in the same window. So, I can hold off on getting rid of the old one until the birds vacate. When I was installating the new one, I peeked out the window at my new neighbors, and man are they ugly! I thought baby animals are supposed to be cute! These critters are hideous!

Top 10 Movies: 2005

My favorite films from 2005, in no particular order:
  • Kung Fu Hustle
  • Czech Dream
  • Howl’s Moving Castle
  • March of the Penguins
  • The 40 Year-Old Virgin
  • Everything is Illuminated
  • Good Night, and Good Luck
  • Brokeback Mountain
  • The Squid and the Whale
  • Walk the Line
And a few that deserve honorable mention:
  • Me and You and Everyone We Know
  • 2046
  • Serenity

Friday, June 1, 2007

Top 10 movies: 2004

My favorite movies of 2004, in no particular order:
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • Choking Hazard
  • Super-size Me
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Napoleon Dynamite
  • Garden State
  • Harold & Kumar go to White Castle
  • I Heart Huckabees
  • Shaun of the Dead
  • Sideways

And a few that deserve honorable mention:

  • Last Life in the Universe
  • House of Flying Daggers
  • The Incredibles

Sundance Institute at BAM - Opening Night

Over at BAM they're showing a series of films that played at Sundance this year. This is great because it means I get to see some of the films I wanted to see, but didn't get the chance. The opening night film was Son of Ranbow, which got a lot of good buzz when it screened in Park City.

So, I was expecting to like the film. What I didn't expect was Robert Redford introducing the mini-fest. It makes sense, I just didn't expect it! He said some very nice things about why Brooklyn, and especially BAM, is the perfect place to expand his famous independent film festival. I didn't realize this is only the second year they've done this.

The film was fantastic. An entire opera house full of people cracked up, numerous times. I highly recommend going to see it when it comes to theaters.

Director Garth Jennings was also quite charming and funny. That's him at right, greeting people at the reception after the screening. At one point, as I tried to make my way across the very crowded party, I realized I was walking aside Wes Anderson.

R2 Mailbox

R2 Mailbox
Originally uploaded by Mirka23
I read about these a while ago, but this is the first one I saw. I love the fact that Neckface tagged it, but as a Jedi!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Top 10 Movies: 2003

My favorite movies of 2003, in no particular order:
  • Kill Bill Vol 1
  • Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
  • Shattered Glass
  • Elf
  • Finding Nemo
  • 28 Days Later
  • Spellbound
  • Big Fish
  • School of Rock
  • American Splendor

And, honorable mention goes to:

  • Lost in Translation

I'm producing a movie with Kiefer Sutherland

Sort of. A while ago I became an executive producer of The 1 Second Film. Anyone can participate, just by donating money to a worthy cause. Become a part of film history!

Top 10 Movies: 2002

Here're my favorite movies from 2002, again in no particular order:
  • Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  • Y Tu Mamá También
  • Monsoon Wedding
  • Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys
  • The Château
  • Igby Goes Down
  • 8 Women
  • Punch-Drunk Love
  • Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
  • 25th Hour

There were a lot of amazing films that year, so here are a few more that deserve honorable mention:
  • Spider-Man
  • 24 Hour Party People
  • Spirited Away

Monday, May 28, 2007

Top 10 Movies: 2001

A few years ago, when I was working as a web developer at, I started making my own list of favorite movies of the year, along with a few other non-journalist movie enthusiast. This seems a good place to post those lists (and future lists, when the time comes). Without further ado, here are my 10 favorite films from 2001 (in no particular order):

  • In the Mood for Love
  • The Royal Tenenbaums
  • Memento
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Gosford Park
  • Donnie Darko
  • Tape
  • Ghost World

Coming Sooon: My favorite films from 2002!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Uncanny Valley: Reflection

I've been staying in a hotel the past couple days, and in my room there were a whole bunch of mirrors in and around the bathroom. They were set up in such a way that when I walked out of the bathroom, just after passing the threshold, there was a reflection of a reflection of a reflection that made it look like someone was behind me, walking in the opposite direction. Of course, it was me, but that didn't keep me from being startled for a second each time I saw it.

I meant to take a picture, but I forgot.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Blog fixed!

Hooray, it took a while, but the blog seems to have sorted itself out. To be more specific than I was in my previous post - Sprint Picture Mail broke my blog. I tried to email a photo from my Treo directly to the blog. Flickr handles that really well, but Blogger doesn't. So, the post included the whole ridiculous HTML email from Sprint, instead of just the photo with title and description.

Not that big a deal, I guess except that it displayed in an ugly, illegible way, and when I tried to delete the post it wouldn't delete, and things I posted afterwards weren't showing up.

Overnight it seems to have refreshed and all is well again.

Damn it

I think I broke my blog.

Bubble Tea

Bubble Tea
Originally uploaded by Mirka23.
Drinking Peach Rose Tea with litchi jelly, shortly before the beginning of the Semantic Technology Conference in San Jose.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Is it legal for TSA to joke about fake IDs?

Very early this morning, I was at the the airport in Raleigh/Durham, heading back to New York. Aside from the fact that I had gotten up obscenely early, I was also kind of cranky because I had waited on the security line for half an hour (who knew it was going to be that crowded at 6am!) and I tend to find the whole airport security situation kind of demoralizing. The longer I stand there, the more irritated I feel. Then they took my yogurt away. Then came this conversation...

TSA guy: Did you take your older sister's ID?

It's safe to say my sense of humor was still deeply asleep at this point, and I could't even understand what he meant by this, much less comprehend that it was a joke. So, my clever comeback...

Me: Uh, what?
TSA guy: Are you going to give your older sister's ID back?
Me: Um, no?

I know I was half asleep and humorless at the time, but even now I can't imagine how to respond to something like that.

Friday, May 11, 2007


Tonight I went to see the play Frost/Nixon, and it was great despite numerous logistical problems with the production. At first I thought they were just making some weird lighting choices, but then they stopped the play and announced that there were technical problems. Michael Sheen did an amazing job of picking the scene back up again several minutes later, but the spell was broken a little and I think the audience was a little less engaged after the interruption. Sirens in Times Square were going off endlessly during what was supposed to be a silent, pensive scene. People were fidgety. The spotlight had a weird tendency to suddenly shift away from the person on stage and point straight down onto the audience below. Oh and some jackass's phone starting ringing (ringtone: "When the saints come marching in") during the dramatic final monologue. It continued through the end of the monologue and into the next scene. It went on for so long that other jackasses started shouting "shut it off!" (as if that helped).

Still, as I said, the play was really amazing. Plus, when we left, we saw Matthew Fox standing outside talking to some friends. Unless he just likes to hang out outside the Jacobs Theatre, I'm guessing he saw the play, too.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Tribeca Film Fest - Sunday, May 6

Well, I've been avoiding posting about the last day of the film festival. I went to see two of the festivals award winning films. First I saw the winner of the World Narrative Award - My Father My Lord. This film really annoyed me. It's slow and laborious, and the basic premise seems to be that people who are completely dedicated to their religion (in this case, the person in question is an orthodox jew) are dangerously disengaged from the people around them. I'm not talking fundamentalism, violence, etc. I'm talking about the people who believe in their faith so strongly that it's all they think or talk about.

I'm not usually the kind of person who thinks that a negative portrayal of a member of a group is necessarily a general statement about that group. But this filmmaker seems to have a message, and aside from the fact that it seems kind of anti-Semitic, it's presented in such a manipulative way, it made me feel insulted. I think the film used boredom and alienation - by boring and alienating its audience - to make us resent the protagonist. Ugh, I don't even want to talk about it anymore. When I was leaving the theater, a woman was on the phone telling someone how beautiful the film had been. I wanted to ask her if she was on crack, but I didn't.

The second film I saw was the Emerging Narrative Award Winner - Two Embraces. I liked this one a lot better, but I think by this point I had gotten a little burnt out on the film festival. This one actually did look beautiful. It had a sort of high contrast look, with muted colors, and a sort of dirty chromium sheen. There were two stories that take place in Mexico, and the theme seemed to be how people connect with each other. Really nicely done.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Packaging can be tricky

I was in a deli this evening, and took part in the following conversation with a frantic girl who had some kind of British accent (or possibly Australian, it was hard to tell because the conversation was so brief and rushed):

Girl: (to clerk) Are these corn chips?
(he doesn't respond)
Girl: (to me) Are these corn chips?
(she waves the package in my face)
me: Those are flour.
Girl: Are they corn chips?
me: No
Girl: How will I know if they're corn chips?
me: It'll say "corn" on it.

Then she ran back to the shelves to find corn chips.

Tribeca Film Fest - Saturday, May 5

Benson Lee
Originally uploaded by Mirka23.
Went to the theater early this morning to see Planet B-boy, a documentary about an international breakdancing competition. See, breakdancing didn't disappear when we forgot about it in the mid-80s. It spread around the world and evolved. You can still see evidence of it in American pop culture, but this film is probably the most awe-inspiring you've seen it in a long time.

The film follows five crews as they get ready for the international competition called Battle of the Year. Two crews from South Korea (one was the champ from the previous year), one from France, one from the USA, and one from Japan. The dancing is incredible. The film is insightful and funny. The art direction is quality - there're some amazing graphics, especially in the beginning of the film.

The film does a great job of introducing the crews and before you know it you're identifying with them and why they all want - need - to win this competition. I'm not afraid to admit that I cried when they announced the winner. Tears of joy, of course. Afterwards, when I told director Benson Lee (pictured) that I loved the film and I cried at the end, he said, "It got you, huh?" and then he patted me on the back.

I've seen a description of the film which described the annual Battle of the Year competition as "the World Cup of b-boying." That's kind of ironic, because the second film I saw today was Michael Apted's The Power of the Game, which actually was about the World Cup, and it didn't come anywhere near having the impact of B-boy.

I think there are a number of reasons for this. For one thing, anyone who would see this movie probably already knows the outcome of the 2006 World Cup, so there's no suspense there. For another, the film is not really able to get as familiar with all of the people it introduces, so it fails to create the same feeling of investment in the "characters." But the worst offense is, I think, a serious violation of the premise of the film. I think this was done so that the film would more easily appeal to an American audience, but it seriously backfires.

See, the movie seems to be, for the most part, about exploring the positive ways that soccer (a.k.a. football in most of the world) has impacted people's lives. Usually these are social, economic, or political issues that soccer is somehow helping people to transcend. These issues include Apartheid in South Africa, oppression of women in Iran, extreme poverty in Argentina, racism and anti-Semitism in Europe, and child slavery in Senegal. These are all very serous matters, and while you may question how it could be that soccer helps combat these evils, it's definitely an interesting concept to explore.

What I can't understand is why a good fifth of the film (maybe more) is devoted to the USA, where apparently our biggest soccer-related social issue is a lack of enthusiasm for the sport. Seriously? That's what you want to talk about? Landon Donovan isn't as famous and obscenely rich as other American sports stars? Aside from the fact that this material seems frivolous and out of place with the rest of the film, there's the additional insult of an implication (by both Donovan and ex-US national coach, Bruce Arena) that it's the fans' fault that the sport is not more popular in the U.S. This film was severely disappointing.

Spongebob Selfishpants

When I was waiting on line to get into Rise last night, two women behind me were having the most ridiculous conversation. They kept bringing things up and then saying "that's what's wrong with this society." These included:
1. A "small" soda at the movie theater is actually quite large.
2. Going to the dentist and paying someone to scrape your teeth.
3. People drinking bottled water.

But, right before we went into the theater, the best one of all, and clearly the most damning evidence of what's really wrong with this society: Spongebob Squarepants is unbearably narcissistic. Some thoughtless child was forcing this woman to watch Spongebob, and the woman couldn't stand it because "all he wants to do is take a bath and make his friends watch." She was particularly disturbed by this because she recently went through a self-absorbed phase, herself, so she refused to watch the show. By all means, no one should have to tolerate a narcissistic cartoon character.

Tribcea Film Fest - Friday, May 4

West 32nd poster
Originally uploaded by Mirka23.
Tonight I saw two tense movies. The first was West 32nd, a Korean-American crime drama starring John Cho and Grace Park. John plays a a young lawyer who's trying to help out a family whose teenage boy seems to be wrapped up in a gang-related murder. Grace plays the sister of the boy. There was a wide range of Korean-American experiences on display in the story, and apparently most of the actors - aside from John, Grace, and a third main character played by Jun Sung Kim, from Seoul - are local actors.

I was happy to see that, even at the fifth screening, the director, some of the crew, and a whole bunch of actors showed up. It probably helped that most people involved in the film live around here, but I was still happy to see so many people who were excited about the project they had helped make. Here's a photo I took of Dante Han and Lanny Joon, two of the actors in the film.

Later I saw Rise: Blood Hunter, a sort of vampire thriller film. It was a lot scarier than I expected it to be. Lucy Liu plays a reporter who stumbles onto the wrong lead. She gets turned into a vampire and then seeks revenge on the people that did this to her. Some parts of the story don't make any sense, but it's loud, dark, gory and exciting, and Lucy Liu is half naked several times during the movie, so I'm sure it will do alright.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Tribeca Film Fest - Wednesday, May 2

Saw Kevin Connelly's film Gardener of Eden last night. Lukas Haas plays a New Jersey slacker who inadvertently becomes a local hero and decides that it's his mission in life. It's like the anti-spiderman.

I'm not even sure if this was a comedy or a drama, a dark comedy, maybe a funny drama? It's kind of different and interesting, but sometimes the pacing was way too slow.

Tomorrow I'm taking a day off from the film festival.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Blackberry Effect

This morning I remembered something odd from the Suburban Girl screening last night. There's a theme about Blackberries running through the movie. The communications device, not the fruit. At the risk of making it sound deeper than it is, I would say that there are some key points in the script where the device symbolizes both the large age gap between Alec Baldwin's character and the young women in his life AND his attempts to bridge that gap.

This significant device seemed to trigger something in the audience, because when the lights came up, people on all sides couldn't even wait to get out of their seats before they fired up their own blackberries and started texting. This reminded me of when I saw a midnight screening Dazed and Confused, many years ago, and nearly everyone in the audience lit up a cigarette as soon as they exited the theater door. At 2am, the streets were completely deserted except for a group of about a hundred people standing outside a theater entrance, smoking.

Tribeca Film Fest - Tuesday, May 1

Watching The Detectives Q&A
Originally uploaded by Mirka23.

Tonight I saw two films. The first was Watching the Detectives, a quirky, wonderful comedy written and directed by Paul Soter (sitting on the left in the photo). It stars Cillian Murphy as a video store owner and movie enthusiast, and Lucy Liu (standing on the far right in the photo) as his eccentric love interest. I'm not even sure what to say about this film, because you should really just see it.

It's weird and adorable, and even though the characters are kind of off-the-wall, I never had the feeling (like I so often do with comedies described as "quirky") that the screenwriter was trying too hard, that the characters are all just a little too wacky and interesting. I think this is because their personalities are unusual, but at different volumes. Like real people. The mistake so many movies make is that everyone is equally weird. This film has some people that are mildly strange, some that seem interesting but very normal, and some that seem completely absurd. But they all interact like it's totally normal, and it seems somehow kind of realistic, at the same time that it's clearly a complete fantasy.

Since it was the premiere, Paul Soter and much of the cast were there to talk about the film and answer questions. Man, Lucy Liu is stunning! Some celebs not in the movie were also in attendance, including Ajay Naidu (Office Space) and Rachel Dratch.

I almost forgot to mention the second film I saw, Suburban Girl. I think the fact that I just saw it a couple hours ago and I've pretty much already forgotten about it kind of says it all. On the surface it's like a cross between Devil Wears Prada and Shopgirl, with more literary aspirations. On a deeper level, well, there is no deeper level. The chemistry between Alec Baldwin and Sarah Michelle Gellar alternates between not that interesting and kind of creepy. Even more than Baldwin's performance in last year's Mini's First Time, which I think was supposed to be creepy. (Alec Baldwin, you are hilarious, but please stop playing guys who are dating girls in their teens and early 20s!)

Plus, I think it's going to be hard for people to put aside what's going on in Baldwin's personal life at the moment. His character in the film has some similar issues with his daughter, which, in the screening I saw, resulted in a lot of laughter at scenes which were definitely not meant to be funny.

Tribeca Film Fest - Monday, April 30

Saw Zak Penn's movie The Grand and I loved it. It's a mockumentary in the world of professional poker. Woody Harrelson plays a guy who has to win a major winner-take-all tournament in order to save his grandfather's casino. The cast of the improvised film includes actors and comedians (some of whom are well known for playing poker in real life), some popular professional poker players, and some acting turns by directors. Werner Herzog is brilliant as "The German."

I'm not sure if this movie will be entertaining to people who don't already enjoy watching professional poker on TV. But if you do, you will probably LOVE it. I would buy this movie on DVD right now if I could.

Tribeca Film Fest - Sunday, April 29

Saw three films. Blue State was the first narrative that I've seen this year. It's about a liberal guy, played by Breckin Meyer, who moves to Canada when GWB wins the 2004 election. Anna Paquin joins him on his road trip, and they proceed to have a wacky romantic-comedy adventure, with politics. Now, I wouldn't have minded that so much, if the politics were expressed through the course of the story. Instead, it kind of feels like there are things going on, and every once in a while we take a break from the romance and the comedy so that the characters can sit there and discuss their political views. Interesting premise, great performances, even a lot of funny situations, but the script needed better integration of action and ideas.

Then I saw a program of shorts called Taken to Extremes. These were all documentaries, mostly about people who have kind of extreme interests or lifestyles. One of the highlights was Piece by Piece, about "speedcubers" - several of whom describe their hobby of solving the rubik's cube as an addiction! There were 5 other short films, and actually all of them were really interesting and well done.

Last I saw A Slim Peace, a documentary about a weight loss group in Jerusalem that included women who were Israeli, Palestinian, Jewish American settlers, Bedouin. Some were secular some were religious, and of course they had conflicting politics. I think the idea was to see whether they would overcome these differences and find a common ground. And to some degree they did, but the premise still makes me sort of uncomfortable. Are our personal insecurities the key to transcending deeply-rooted, seemingly insurmountable religious, national, and cultural conflicts? (Well, the answer seems to be No.)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Tribeca Film Fest - Saturday, April 28

Originally uploaded by Bomb It - The Movie.

Tonight I saw a film called Bomb It, a documentary about international graffiti art.

It started out with Philadelphia and New York, but the most interesting parts were about graffiti artists around the world. Some people do street art primarily because it's dangerous and illegal, but a lot of people do it because they have something to express, and they want/need to do it in a public way. It's a very social, political, and personal art form. So, in different countries you find that people are driven to make different social and political statements. Plus the cultural attitude towards public spaces and street art varies, and that also contributes to different dynamics around the globe.

My only complaint about the film is that some really interesting topics were touched on so briefly - I wish I could have seen more. Apparently they had many hundreds of hours of footage, but of course in editing it down to a feature length doc, there's only so much they can include. I think this would actually work really well as a series, so I hope they get to do more with it!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Tribeca Film Festival 2007 - Thurs, April 26

Heckler Q&A
Originally uploaded by Mirka23.

On the first full day of the Tribeca Film Festival, I saw two films.

The first was Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist and I loved it. It's amazing to see how much this one man did for the medium of comics, which is now a pretty major player in the entertainment industry. Not only did he invent the graphic novel (which I kind of already knew), but he pretty much came up with the model for the modern comic book in the first place. AND he innovated using comics as a more accessible way to teach people - first in the army, and then with kids. Pretty amazing.

The film was also really well put together, with lots of interviews and lots of dynamic, detailed views of some really incredible artwork.

The second film I saw was also a documentary. I didn't mean for it to work out that way, but it wasn't a bad thing. The film was called Heckler, made by Jamie Kennedy and director Michael Addis (pictured above). It seems that they set out to make a tour film, and Jamie was getting heckled a lot. Around the same time, Son of the Mask came out and it was getting panned - both by traditional critics and by pretty much anyone with a blog and an opinion.

So, the film turned into this thing where they were exploring the phenomenon of hecklers, and then critics. They interviewed a bunch of comedians and filmmakers, a few hecklers and (in some hilariously uncomfortable sequences) some of the critics who panned Kennedy's film. It definitely has the feeling of being a sort of therapeutic exercise, but it's also hilarious and pretty brave, I think.

The proliferation of online communities and publications has made the practice of criticism available to everyone, and the perceived anonymity of the internet makes people feel comfortable being vicious, especially if they can look clever while doing it. Sure, they have the right to say whatever they want, but online it's also way too easy to ignore how your words are going to affect people. The film presents the perspective of those people that are the targets, and I can definitively say that I would not want to go through what they go through.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Craig Ferguson errand

Oops, I completely forgot to mention that I had a second reason for following Craig Ferguson around last week (aside from the fact that I think he's hilarious). See, my friend Scott Phillips made a movie called The Stink of Flesh, and a few months ago he asked me to give a copy of it to Ferguson (for reasons that are explained below). I have to say, this seemed like a strange request, since I live on the opposite side of the country from the guy, and it's not like we hang out together or anything. But, maybe this wasn't such a crazy request, because I did give him a copy, after the book reading/signing.

I wasn't able to take a photo of him accepting this gift, because Barnes & Noble wasn't allowing people to take pictures while we were on the stage, but the conversation went something like this:

Me: I wanted to give you this DVD. My friend wrote and directed this movie.
Craig: Is it a zombie movie?
Me: It is.
Craig: I love zombie movies!
Me: I know! And apparently you had someone on the show and you were talking about zombie poop...
Craig: About whether zombies poop?
Me: Yes! And this movie has zombie poop in it!
Craig: Well thank you for that. And thank you for culturally elevating the evening.

Then he smiled like he was kind of teasing me, but he also seemed sincerely pleased about it. I don't even remember what I said next. I hope I said "I hope you enjoy it" or "You're welcome" but I probably said something kind of nonsensical like "thank you." I was so nervous I forgot to tell him I think he's hilarious!

Craig Ferguson Week

Craig Ferguson
Originally uploaded by Mirka23.

Last week there was a lot of Craig Ferguson in NYC. First I saw him perform at Comix on Friday, April 13th. The show was hilarious - very autobiographical, very personal, much like his monologues on The Late, Late Show, but with more swearing! He cracks me up.

Some women came to the show in full-on kilts and gear.

The following Wednesday, Craig was doing a book signing for the paperback version of his novel, Between the Bridge and the River. He read a few passages, answered some questions, and joked that he'd be back next year to promote the book on tape. Then he signed copies of the book of course.

In between, he seemed to keep himself pretty busy appearing on lots of New York based talk shows.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Tribeca Film Festival 2007 tickets

It's the first day tickets are on sale for the Tribeca Film Festival. I went down to the box office and, after 3 hours of waiting (2.5 of which were outside in the freezing cold) I got almost all of the ones that I wanted. In honor of this, I brought over all my posts from 2005 from some other long-neglected blog. Most of them are about the films that I saw at the Tribeca Film festival that year.

People always ask me what I recommend. Well, here's what I'm going to see:
Blue State
Bomb It
Gardener of Eden
The Grand
Planet B-Boy
The Power of the Game
Rise: Blood Hunter
A Slim Peace
Suburban Girl
Taken To Extremes
Watching the Detectives
West 32nd
Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist

Plus, I've got tickets to see the Narrative Emerging Filmmaker Award Winner and World Narrative Award Winner.

Thursday, April 5, 2007


Checkered cab
Originally uploaded by Mirka23.
Today I was at the New York Auto Show. Saw lots of cool stuff, but I don't think I can talk about it yet.

At the end, Rohanna and I wandered into the "Future of the Taxi" exhibit. Lots of cool taxi models. I think some of them were historical vehicles, some were new models, and some were prototypes or proposed designs. Pretty cool.

There was a bar, and we had drinks in glasses that were glued to toy cars - the kind that rev up when you put it on a surface and pull it back. Very cool looking, but I think attaching a heavy glass to something that not only rolls but accelerates is an accident waiting to happen.