Sunday, December 31, 2006
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
HOLIDAY TRAIN SHOW AT THE BOTANICAL GARDENS
The annual Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Gardens is spectacular. Here's a brief video blog. Below is the transcript of the video, with additional links.
Hi. Here at the Enid Haupt Conservatory, this is Eric from QPORIT, posting from the New York Botanical Gardens -- which hosts the annual Holiday Train Show. It is quite amazing. There is a delightful collection of trains and trolleys, models of period houses and bridges, scaled natural scenery, and incredible model trains, that fascinates both children and adults.
Here is a model of a building – a mansion – built in 1764, that once stood on the corner of 91st and Columbus. Other landmarks, like City Hall and Gracie Mansion, New York Skyscrapers, the Statue of Liberty and the Little Red Lighthouse, do still exist and these little models make you want to visit the originals. The exhibit is detailed, fun… and huge. Leave time to take it all in, and even visit other parts of the Gardens.
The Wave Hill mansion, here – in the Bronx -- is currently a site for concerts and special exhibits.
The 250 acres of the Botanical Gardens, of course, are host to beautiful exhibits and gardens throughout the year. There’s an Orchid Show coming in February, Caribbean Colors in the spring.– And there’s miles and miles and miles for leisurely walking. Check the website for what’s in flower… And the Conservatory, where this train show is held, is always full of special plantings.
Here’s the Little Red Lighthouse. To see the real Little Red Lighthouse -- it’s tucked under the GW bridge – go to the boat basins on the Jersey side and look across the Hudson River.
I love this little winter train. The trains run – till the 7th of January – this year. And if you’ve missed it, or want to revisit, it’s worth remembering to make a trip here next year – especially with a child who loves trains, nature, or New York City.
We have all the links -- to the Botanical Gardens and the other sites we’ve mentioned -- on our website, QPORIT. www.qporit.com . Come visit us.
And finally, to conclude this preview, lets return to the model of the Conservatory, host to the Holiday Train Show.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
YOUR BEST GUESS
Add YOUR BEST GUESS on what will happen in the future to our new blog
Your Best Guess (YourBestGuess.blogspot.com) .
We'll be posing the questions you want answered, and you'll be able to weigh in with your answers and the reasons you give.. Well keep a running tally of the results, and the explanations...
It's the part of our project
AN EVENING OF SCIENCE THEATER
that gives YOU (see Time magazine) the chance to post your best guesses on the answers to questions about what will happen in the future.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Don't let the title fool you. Next Door is a Norwegian language film, Naboer, with subtitles. It is not in English. You have to read the fine print on the DVD box to discover this!
That said, this a better than average violent psycho-sexual drama with high tension. All the actors (Kristoffer Joner, Cecilie A. Mosli, Julia Schacht -- with an especially demanding role, Anna Bache-Wiig, and Michael Nyqvist) are very good and interesting to look at. The film is well made on several levels, including script and direction by Pål Sletaune -- a director to watch. The music, art direction, and other technical credits are excellent as well.
Monday, December 25, 2006
MODEL RAILROAD EXHIBITIONS
Model railroad exhibitions in New York:
At the Bronx Botanical Gardens.
At the Citicorp Center.
At Grand Central Station, the Fifth Annual Holiday Train Show at Grand Central.
And here's a guide to other exhibitions around the country.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND A JOYOUS NEW YEAR
The tree lighting at Lincoln Center and the first light of Hanukkah.
Happy Holidays and a Joyous New Year from QPORIT!
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Here's the QPORIT Technorati Profile.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
SHAKESPEARE BOOKS FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Shakespeare writes a great present!
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Tuesday, December 19, 2006
BEAUTIFUL POETRY BOOKS
Cavankerry Press has consistently created volume after volume of beautifully printed, quality modern poetry.
Here's some great ideas for the holidays!
BY JOAN CUSACK HANDLER
URL HIJACK HONESTY FROM DISCOVER CARD
When I logged in to my Discover card account the other day, instead of going to my account information as usual, I was blocked by a screen that seemed to say I needed to verify the agreement to get online. After reading it a little more closely, together with one escape button on the second sign-up page, I realized I did not have to sign the re-agreement, and it was actually asking me to sign up for a paperless account. More accurately, it was asking me to renounce paper bills. It was not at all clear at first from the way it was first presented, sort of as an all or nothing sign up to continue with the web account, that this was not required, and it was not a required re-sign-up for the web, but actually an optional sign-down for paper bills.
I should have looked more closely at the web address for the "signup". Here it is in all its brutal honesty: (bold face, color highlight supplied by me)
Monday, December 18, 2006
COMPLETE INDEX TO QPORIT POSTS
We have uploaded a complete topical index to all the posts in QPORIT.
QPORIT INTERNET VIDEOS -- CURRENT STATUS
Below is a list of the current QPORIT Internet videos. Currently we are getting the best results from Google Video. They have the highest quality videos, and we are getting much more traffic on Google than on YouTube, and much more on YouTube than on Revver.
Google allows you to upload videos of any size and length, while YouTube restricts both size and length. The restriction on size means that only Google will accept .AVI files, and these have better resolution than compressed files. The restriction on length means that only Google will accept the VLOG on The Queen, because it is much too long and large for the other sites.
For videos posted on both sites, Google is providing several times more traffic than YouTube.
The only problem I've had with Google Video so far, is that the statistics page is not available almost once a week for most of the day. Also the total number of views shown alongside the film does not agree with the number posted in the statistics page.
QPORIT INTERNET VIDEOS
Fragile -- Sonnet 65 (Shakespeare, Drama, Poetry)
Contradiction -- My Video Log Post for 2005-11-26 (Humor)
VLOG 2006-10-07 Penelope Cruz & Volver (Post)
VLOG 2006-09-29 The Queen (Post)
VLOG 2006-11-27 The Fall 2006 Season at Lincoln Center (Post)
Friday, December 15, 2006
LIE WITH ME
Lie with Me is a specially good film about sexuality, flirting, love and the problems with love.
It was directed by Clément Virgo, who seems an unusually gifted, intelligent , sensitive -- and perhaps somewhat brave -- director, judging both by the film and his commentary on the DVD.
The film features lots of natural nudity. It's neither the porn style of nudity and sex, nor the late night soft-R style. It's like real life, where people sometimes don't wear clothes, especially when they are heading to -- or coming from -- sex.
The acting, by Lauren Lee Smith and Eric Balfour is also freshly natural. It's not the intense, internal, centered style (typified, for example, by Keifer Sutherland, Mark Ruffalo & Morgan Freeman) that is so prevalent now. It's much looser and more external.
The actors themselves, according to the commentary, are largely responsible for the shape of the physical and sexual business and nudity. It was created and improvised on the set, rather than being pre-planned, scripted and storyboarded in advance. The tone was set by Don Francks, playing an ill and aged father, who set the standard for natural nudity (at 75, on the first day of shooting) in a brave and compelling performance, kind of challenging the director and actors to follow through with equal courage in nudity and sex, developing and portraying the story.
In a short shoot -- just three weeks -- the director strove to create a loose, smooth feeling, largely told from the subjective point of view of the woman. The cameraman followed the actors, and caught their rhythm -- so closely in fact that the actress sometimes felt during love scenes that she was in a 3-way with the lover and the cameraman.
The film feels fresh and original, though it is interesting that the director claims to have taken many shots from other films, including Last Tango In Paris (a very different kind of film). He spent lots of time researching love scenes and movies about love before making this one.
According to the director, "In films about sexuality, they tend to punish the female character. I wanted to avoid all that stuff." That echos something Roger Vadim, the French director, once told me about Brigitte Bardot's character in the 1956 film, Et Dieu... créa la femme (And God Created Woman)... that what outraged people about the film at the time was that she was happy in her own sexuality. (Apparently, 50 years later, it's still hard to be natural about sexuality in film.)
In the old days, one might -- or more likely might not -- kiss a girl on the first date. Somewhat more recently, a couple might have sex after the first date. In the world of this movie, the couple first has sex, then the man asks the woman whether she'd like to go out on a date.
The director's commentary is unusually aware and intelligent. (In most commentaries, the director seems to have some particular pet stylistic elements in the film, and it is amazing how often, if a film has some glaring weaknesses, listening to the commentary suggests the reason for that: it never occured to the director to focus on those aspects of the film -- he was busy elsewhere.) This film has two weaknesses: the ending is somewhat contrived, and it is a bit thin on action. (It could use a bit more plot and perhaps lose a bit of padding.) In the commentary, the director addresses these issues at least indirectly, pointing out that the script was only about 85 pages, and he was interested in showing the action physically rather than with dialog. The subjective, rather than explicit emotional conflicts, shown with extended action rather than pithy dialog, are a conscious stylistic choice.
According to imdb, Virgo's next film, Poor Boy's Game, which will star Danny Glover, deals with race relations in Halifax. On his release from prison for the brutal beating of a black man, Donnie, a young white boxer,(Rossif Sutherland --the 6'5" son of Donald Sutherland and half brother of Kiefer), is coached by his victim's father, George (Danny Glover) for an upcoming fight against a talented and vengeful opponent.
Virgo seems to be a very skilled director with a thoughtful, interesting take on stories, and I am looking forward with great anticipation to this next film.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
STREAMINGMEDIA.COM ON MOVY.TV (MOBILE VIDEO)
Streaming Media has a very interesting article on a new mobile video service called movy.tv from a company called Movidity.
Up to now, video on telephones has been mostly restricted by the telephone company gateways. YouTube and Revver have access deals with Verizon to appear through V-Cast. movy.tv will be an independent access point to video.
Based on a proprietary patent-pending technology, the movy.tv system, planning to debut in January, expects to accept free consumer content, supported by front-end ads. Access to the system is free, but users may (ie. probably will) incur usage charges from their phone provider, so movy.tv users are encouraged to subscribe to unlimited usage type plans for their phone. movy.tv will charge a subscription fee for corporate content, and provide various filters for access, and other features to make the content especially useful.
According to Movidity, in their very interesting FAQ, "the movy.tv media player is an ultra-efficient java “midlet,” and will typically work on any browser enabled cell phone supporting Java (J2ME) / MIDP2. DoCoMo type handsets (Japan) are also supported."
Monday, December 11, 2006
HANNAH WOLFE & HER KIND (ANNE SEXTON)
Hannah Wolfe is one of the more interesting, active, young multi-hyphenates (writer-director-producer-actress) now very busy in theater. She is presenting
HER KIND: The Life & Poetry of Anne Sexton
in Two Wednesday Performances (12/13 & 12/20) at 8PM at
The Bowery Poetry Club -- 308 Bowery (& Bleecker, across from CBGB's)--
$12 Tickets at Door Only; Bar Service at Venue--Run Time 1 Hour--
Here's her note:
HER KIND is the result of a long-time fascination with the raw, vivid poetry of Anne Sexton. My hope is to pass on the inspiration of Sexton's poetry through the characterizations of people close to Anne in her lifetime, mixed media such as video, photography and audio and most importantly, her poetry.
Many talented artists have collaborated on HER KIND:
Video Clips by Franco Barbeite, featuring Collin Biddle, Debra Kay Anderson & Hannah Wolfe
Editing & 1950's-70's Video Flashback by Alyssa Polacsek
Vintage Photographs Recreated by Alexis Courtney
Choreogrpahy by Laurel Dugan, featuring Original Music by Lindsay Rae Spurlock & Daniel Mintseris
Technical Direction by Shanara Gabriel
HER KIND features live performances by Hannah Wolfe & Laurel Dugan
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Archangel is a murky dark mystery, not quite a thriller, set in Russia during the period when some Russian archives were beginning to become available.
It's an interesting film, though not a very exciting or compelling one. Indeed, the main problem with the movie is that it is hard to see how the events, as they unfold, are important enough to the characters to justify the things they do. Had the audience, or more importantly the characters, known at the beginning what they know at the end, the actions would have made sense. But they don't. It's not enough for the scriptwriter to know that what they are doing is worth the trouble.
It stars Daniel Craig, the new James Bond, in an earlier (2005) outing, together with Yekaterina Rednikova, a Russian actress.
The acting is solid, but curiously lacking in flamboyance. Rednikova plays perfectly a dark, character study, as if the movie were really about her. There are some hints, especially at the end, that it may once have been intended just that way. However, this is an English language movie dominated by Craig, and Rednikova, who plays a prostitute/party-girl, though attractive, is so moody, unseductive, and generally hostile that she seems to be in the wrong profession.
I didn't dislike the film, and it's fun for the authentic Russian ambiance, the chance to see the pre-Bond Craig and, even if the basic plot has a host of antecedents, a story telling style that's a bit different from usual.
ElementList is an outstanding collection of information and resources relating to science. It contains many lists of links related to science, plus an interesting blog with science news and links to science related videos.
It was founded in October 2004 by Dr. Jacqueline Floyd, research scientist in geophysics at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University in New York.
ElementList, by the way, is currently looking for (slightly paid) bloggers to expand their collection of blogs about science and science education.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
RUSSIAN TEA ROOM
The Russian Tea Room has reopened (I discovered as I walked down 57th street today) ... a few weeks ago for dinner, yesterday for lunch.
Peeking in from the outside, it looks much like it used to look. The menu posted on the outside suggests a more modern, European cuisine than it used to serve, but the website provides this assurance:
"Enjoy our modern Russian menu inspired by classical and contemporary Russian tastes. We are delighted to prepare historical Tea Room favorites including Chicken Kiev, or Beef Stroganoff on request. Please let us know and we’ll be happy to accommodate you."
RTR used to be a haven for celebrities. My best "sighting" there was Jackie Onassis. Another time, I recognized nobody at the restaurant at all, except for the famous publicist John Springer. After lunch he got up and said hello to just about everybody in the restaurant (except me, of course), all of whom I presume I should have recognized.
Once, when I was in a hurry (RTR was just a block from my office), I had a sandwich at RTR and my favorite dessert ( the sour cherry jam from the tea on top of fresh butter spread on the black Russian bread). The whole meal was not expensive and took only half an hour, so I complemented the Maitre D', by telling him this was the best fast food restaurant in NY. (He gave me the best insulted look I've ever experienced.)
I'm looking forward with great anticipation to my next visit to the new Russian Tea Room.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
INTERNET VIDEO -- REVVER
Revver.com is a new site that hosts user-made videos. They have a simple and attractive model for advertising, for leveraging distribution, and for revenue sharing.
At the end of each video, they place a still frame advertisement. Viewers can click on the still frame for a video with more advertising information. This model of video advertising is very attractive, because it is unobtrusive. Yet, if the advertisement is for a valuable product, it will be seen. In the magazine world, for example, whenever there is something new and valuable -- a new technology, perhaps, or new fashions -- customers may buy a magazine more for the advertising than for the editorial copy. The Revver model can be very successful if they tap into this type of advertising.
Advertising revenue is shared 50/50 with the content producer. In addition, Revver encourages syndication of its content. So that Revvered videos (videos processed through Revver to add advertising) can be shown on many sites. Revver shares 20% of the advertising revenue with the syndicators on whose site the video was seen.
Revver has just made a deal to show Revvered videos on Verizon.
Revver itself is new and still has some shakedown to do on its site. The sign-up process has some glitches. And after I uploaded a video it did not tell me to add meta-information, even though the meta-information is required before a film can be posted. I had to sign in again and look around, before I got to the place where meta-information is added.
At the moment, the number of videos on Revver seems relatively small, and traffic on Revver itself seems small (judging by the number of views of the posted videos). I don't know about traffic on associated sites.
The method of search for videos is no better on Revver than it is elsewhere. More work is needed on all the user-generated video sites to make it easier to find videos you want to watch.
Whenever money is involved, and sometimes when it is not, the legal agreements you click on when you register need to be read carefully, sometimes by a lawyer. For example, some sites seem to offer you money, but when you upload you discover that they are actually TAKING AN OPTION TO BUY your video (and all its intellectual property rights) when you upload it. (YOU MAY NOT WANT TO DO THAT!) Most sites explicitly leave you with all the intellectual property rights in your video. When you upload to Revver, you are accepting a Creative Commons license.
My advice: CHECK WITH A LAWYER BEFORE YOU CLICK ON AN AGREEMENT TO UPLOAD YOUR VIDEO.
So far, my impression of Revver is very positive. They still have work to do on the user-friendliness of their site, and they need to attract more traffic and more videos. But I like their model, and I would like to see them succeed.
Here's the video I posted on Revver:
QPORIT: VLOG 2006-10-07 Penelope Cruz & Volver