Tuesday, May 29, 2007



I really want to like this show.

It was sort of exciting. There are people to root for. There are people to root against. There is heartbreak when it goes wrong and joy when it goes right.

There were some very good films.

There was one good line. (Something like, "It was a terrible concept, badly executed.")


a) The hostess is terribly irritating. Her script is worse.

b) The format is terrribly derivative. (That's not a spelling error.) Any decent filmmaker knows that if you want respect with a sequel, you've got to work hard to innovate. OTL's a poor imitation of Idol & Apprentice.

c) Oh, and it spawns repetitive criticism, like the use of terribly in every paragraph here. As well as a chorus of similar remarks all over the boards.

d) The "voting" system is suspect and biased. There were all kinds of problems with online voting last night. And clearly the Europeans were at a big disadvantage. Someone who is good at campaigning for votes may do much better than someone who concentrates on making films.

e) The judges are not articulate, or passionate enough about their likes and dislikes. Worse, they have similar opinions. If three people say the same thing, more or less, just one is all you need. Controversy would be electric.

f) The biggest disagreement was between Carrie and herself (about Getta Rhoom). She completely reversed her opinion. The judges should pre-screen the films they are going to comment on, so they have a chance to think about what they are going to say. A movie isn't a live performance, it's a movie. So why not screen it and study it before you say something.

g) The most interesting thing that was supposed to happen was the challenge setup for next week's film. Nothing. The setup is the carryover from this show and the promo for the next show.

So here are my suggestions for the show:

a) Get a new hostess or give her much more rehearsal and direction so she improves.

b) Give the structure a big change, and put more effort into improving the script, so it has a personality distinct from Idol or Apprentice.

c) Strengthen the quality of the judging -- set up more confict between the judges and more detailed and stronger criticism and praise. (Also, when they point out film terms --eg "rack focus" -- explain it with a moment from the film. -- The hostess should be able to do that!)

d) Show more scenes from the making of the movies.

e) Make sure people can vote and that the voting is fair and balanced.

f) Devote a segment at the end of the Results Show to the setup for the next week's filmmaking challenge.

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Monday, May 28, 2007



Here are some comments and reviews from my response to the 24 hour films On The LOT (OTL):

Overall, I found that my judgement of the films was mostly formed by the extent to which I felt the basic story worked.

(Filmmakers in bold italics are among the 18 finalists.)

Out of Time 1 GOOD

Jeff Seibenick, Trevor James, Marty Martin
Drama -- Kind of a mystery.

I don't get the story. I saw it twice. It's not a coherent story. The music doesn't completely match as a whole throughout the video. Color, style & story continuity don't match from scene to scene.

Vinny's Vault GOOD

Kenny Luby, Jess Brillheart, Hannah Sink
Mob story -- Something's been taken

Story is real jumpy. Not completely coherent. The look is boring. Could use music. The narration doesn't add enough.


Zach Lipovsky, Sam Friedlander, Adam Stein
Sci-fi/drama/FX -- A confict makes time stand still.

Great! Coherent story. Nicely shot. The special effects work perfectly.

Sponsored By GOOD

Kai Soremekun, Daniel Tenkman, Will Bigham
Drama -- Suicide prevention

OK story. The bat bit doesn't work too well. The ideas of realizing the log line "Out Of Time" by "raising the stakes" with a suicide prevention is a little bit film-school-exercise-ish.

Call Waiting QUITE GOOD

Opie Cooper, David May, Justin Lutsky
Comedy -- A broad comedy short about hiring the cable guy who knows nothing.

Funny. Makes sense. Looks good. Some split screen adds a bit of interest.

Organized Crime GOOD

Mateen Kemet, Shira-Lee Shalit, Gil Krueger
Drama - Nefarious transaction

A coherent, but not quite credible story. The first scene is badly lit. The script uses "out of time" explictly, which is kind of exercise-ish. It tries too hard to tell a high-stakes story with a dramatic ending, but doesn't quite make it.


Jarrett Conaway, Jason Epperson, Tamila D Amico

HORROR LIGHT - He is coming for you.

The script has good and bad moments. The first scene starts out great and looks great. The film kind of goes a bit downhill from there, and some of the acting is a bit off. The music works.

Reverse OK

Phil Hawkins, Hillary Skarl, Shanna Baca
Drama - Murder mystery

I don't really get this story. At first it seems contrived, then just confused. The "flashback" scenes are interesting. The rest doesn't work so well. Another badly lit indoor scene. Continuity? There's a girl on the train tracks, then a train goes over the tracks. Where's the girl?

Random Acts Of Kindness QUITE GOOD

Brent McCorkel, Hilary Graham, Carolina Zorilla De San Martin
Comedy - A woman is determined to be kind

This is cute. It is simply photographed and directed. The narration carries the burden of making the story a bit more complex. I liked the other entries in the woman's notebook. The ending is a bit forced, and her behavior at the end is too simplistic and unnatural.

Ding OK

Tamika Miller, Randy Slavin, X Dean Lim
Drama - Gambling problem

This doesn't really make sense. The first scene is too explicly "out of time" though it starts OK. The scene with the other gambler and with the woman are unconvincing.


Phil Allocco, Shalini Kantayya, Jeff Speed
Drama/Romance/Horror - A photographer discovers a beautiful modelSimple. Spooky. It works.

Out Of Time 2 QUITE GOOD

James Breese, Claudia La Bianca, Andrew Hunt
Drama/Romance - Can he save the relationship?Carries a lot of story in 2 min.

The only film with this tone. Unfortunately, while the main character's story makes sense, the behavior of the other characters does not. Well shot and edited. Good music.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007



is a very pleasant little film. It is full of quirks and odd characters, interesting insights and gentle humor.

It all takes place in one day in one cafe in London, so we're not talking superheros saving the earth, here; but, rather, quick tales of love and work, desire, styles of living, and ways of telling other people how they should live.

The acting is very good, with many familiar faces, including Mena Suvari,
and Katherine Heigl. Marsha Thomason, the lead, is excellent.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007



Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip
returns tonight after several months spring break, for what may be the last few episodes before it ends.

Rumor has it that it's been cancelled. I don't know if this was because of mediocre ratings, creative problems, cost, problems between the network and the creators, the creators own problems and desires, network desperation (seeking to turn NBC all around), or if this is simply an untrue rumor.

(Some guesses on the cause of the cancellation include the fact that it was expensive, that it is owned by another studio, that it has not found its audience -- in one season, vs Grey's Anatomy or CSI, of course not -- that ...etc)

However, 60 may be the most promising, intelligent, entertaining show on television, with the most potential of any show to develop into NBC's next "tentpole" megahit. Anything less than a Herculean effort to keep it on the air to develop that way, seems like a huge mistake on everybody's part.

(It is not a good sign that tonight's episode is called, "The Disaster Show!")

Let's get Amanda Peet to work on fixing this. I have confidence that she can set it right.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007



The first
On The Lot (OTL) was a good show! As many people predicted, it follows the template of other competition shows and, among other things, spends more airtime showing the bad tries than celebrating the good ones.
Still, there is no doubt from the judging they showed, that this is a tough competition to pick a versatile and skilled filmmaker. Indeed, almost without warning (though they might have guessed something like this would be thrown at them), the contestants immediately faced two difficult, grueling tasks -- the first, to create overnight, and then deliver, a pitch for a feature film; the second to create, in twenty four hours, with a team of three competing directors (coopetition as a test), a 2 1/2 minute film. Anyone who can do these two tasks well is already proven to be extremely skilled.

The rest of the competition, making a dozen or so additional short films, one a week, that the public will like, is a severe test of filmmaking ability. Whatever mishaps the show's editors and producers may choose to show on TV, the contest itself is very, very real and a great test of directing expertise, agility and versatility.

Meanwhile, the Pitch Game could replace charades and other improvs as a parlor game.

Here's the non-competitive version: Sitting in a circle, one person throws out a log line (that's the theme or basic idea). The next person tells the first scene in a sentence or two. Each person in turn then adds a scene. The tenth person (or -- coming full circle-- the first person, if there are around 10 people in the group), then wraps up the movie pitch with a great ending.

The competitive version of the Pitch Game has a bunch of log lines thrown into a hat. Each person takes a random log line and has about 20 min to make a story for a movie out of it. They deliver the pitch to the group. Each person in the group votes with points for story, beginning, ending, characters, confidence, and overall impression. At the end, each person's score is added up to create a winner. With 20 minutes instead of all night to create the story, this is even harder than the OTL version, except you are not pitching to Garry Marshall, Brett Ratner and Princess Leia, you are not pitching for your future, and you don't have to stay up all night worrying.

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On the eve of the premiere, the website for
On The Lot (OTL) has gotten a substantial makeover, with new features and a new home page. Happily, the old features have not been deleted and filmmakers and audience can (still) upload films and photos and communicate on boards and blogs.

Even before the show premieres, and while most of the world is watching the Idol finale, traffic OTL has multiplied five-fold from a usual web audience of about 11,000 to 56,131 as I'm writing this.

In addition to a casting section with headshots and resumes for actors which was added a few days ago, and the staples, which have been on the site from the beginning -- logs, boards, film uploads, photo uploads, private site e-mail, friends lists, and Hollywood film news -- some new features OTL are:

0 - 0 - 0

I'm not on the show, but I do have...

My Own Film OTL:

FRAGILE (Sonnet 65) with Intro:

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In a dispatch from Cannes, AO Scott in The New York Times (Monday, May 21) describes a T-shirt which quotes
Pierre Rissient, a French "Man Of Cinema" (that's the title of a documentary about Rissient being shown in Cannes) --

"It is not enough to like a film. You must like it for the right reasons."

This is advice that would be well applied by those who are going to vote on films in the contest On The Lot!

On The Lot (OTL) opens tonight. (See below for more stories about OTL). The OTL web site, by the way, should begin to see a huge increase in traffic as the show develops. It can be a great place for film networking.

My Own Film OTL:
FRAGILE (Sonnet 65) with Intro:

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Saturday, May 19, 2007



I avoided this film for a while because I thought it would be another sappy success story.

It is actually a fierce success story.

It describes how a man with no financial resources takes care of his son, and deals with massive personal and financial problems while competing with dozens of others for a position as an apprentice... er... make that junior, stock broker.

There is more than a passing resemblance between the real competition the character in the movie faces, and the reality show competitions that contestants in Burnettesque shows face on television.

One reason the movie succeeds is the brilliant (Oscar nominated) performance by
Will Smith. He is always on screen and always interesting. His son in the movie, played by Smith's own son, Jaden Smith, makes an excellent screen debut, and they work together with genuine chemistry.

Since the movie is about a father-son relationship, I found it rather strange that the end titles described the career of the father who was the inspiration for the movie, but not what happened to the son. Was he ??? A little strolling through the Internet, however, provides
some answers.

By the way, watching
The Pursuit Of Happyness would probably not be a bad way to help filmmakers prepare psychologically for the challenges they will find On The Lot (OTL), a Burnett reality show starting Tuesday.

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Fay Grim

I really liked Fay Grim. A lot. It is funny, interesting, exciting, different.

(It was shown as a surprise, unanounced, secret, backroom preview at the Hampton's International Film Festival (HIFF), and was the best thing I saw there this year.)

Fay Grim
Parker Posey has done a lot of great work in both indie and commercial films, but for me this is the best and biggest thing she's done.

The film is quite quirky. It changes tone midway through the film, something I loved but some distributor-types seem to be concerned about. The director,
Hal Hartley, has a "reputation". It does need some brilliant marketing to sell it. "Small" films that deserve a breakout release always do. There was a nice interview with Parker Posey in the NY Times (5/6/2007) , and the Times review by Stephen Holden on Friday (5/18/2007) was very well written, but 'twas lacking that extra spark of terrific enthusiasm the film needs (from some champion) to electrify its release.

Currently the film is showing only in select theaters; it was also simultaneously premiered on
HDNet, and is scheduled for DVD release on May 22. (That's not quite "day and date"... but rather, sort of a new "day and date and week" theatrical/HDTV/DVD release schedule.)

The release pattern is part of the innovative strategy of
Mark Cuban, and his new film/video projects. He was quite persuasive on Sunday Morning Shootout with Peter Bart and Peter Guber about his plans. Still, this film deserves even more (much more!) attention from the general public than it has gotten so far.

I challenge its distribution/marketing team to find a way to bring it the audience it deserves, and I urge those interested in something a little bit different to check out this movie in the theater, some repeat showing on HDNet, or on DVD.

Great film! Fun!

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24 coming to its 2 hour season finale (8/7c Monday on Fox), it is surprising how many loose ends there are this year.

Loose ends can be tied up, left dangling, dragged to the edge of a cliff hanger, ignored, or twisted into some unrecognizable form... all methods 24 has used in the past. Several ends left dangling last year, like who was the voice on the telephone to the President, got picked up again this year. (It was Jack's brother.) Here are some of the threads that need to be resolved in the next two hours... or not.

What is going to happen to the President (currently comatose), or the Vice President (under a serious cloud)?

Who is responsible for the assassination attempt?

Who are the really bad guys? -- So far this season there has been a competition between (rogue) Russians, (rogue or government) Chinese, Jack's family, Arab terrorists, and some American opportunists to see who is most evil, and really behind this conspiracy.

Is the acting head of CTU good or bad? All the other people in CTU? What about those romances in various stages of disintegration? How is the ex-head of CTU taking his firing (by his wife)?

Why is Jack so interested in his sister-in-law? (She led him into an almost deadly trap, although she was somewhat, sort-of pressured.)

How bad is Jack's father? Why? (Or with some twist will he turn out to be really a good guy, at least till next season?)

What happened to all the civilians who were exposed to radiation in the course of various catastrophes during the last 22 hours?

What's with Jack's girl friend? Her father?

Will the Russians attack? Will the US attack?

Will Jack's daughter get kidnapped again? (This is not an active loose end, but it's always a possibility.)

Will Jack retrieve the chip that was in the Russian nuclear bomb? Why don't the American's want it? Why do the Russians really care? Is something more at stake?

Count'm up. If that doesn't add up to 24 loose ends, then that itself is a loose end.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007


NYFF 2007

Film Society of Lincoln Center (FSLC - pronounced FIZ'lc) has announced the selection committee for the 2007 New York Film Festival.

Joining Richard Pena, Chairman, Kent Jones, and Lisa Schwarzbaum (film critic at Entertainment Weekly), will be Scott Foundas (film editor and chief film critic at L. A. Weekly) and J Hoberman (senior film critic at The Village Voice, adjunct professor of cinema at Cooper Union, and visiting lecturer at Harvard University).

The 2007, 45th New York Film Festival will run from September 28, 2007 to Ocober 4. It will be held at the Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, instead of Alice Tully Hall, which is being renovated.

The NYFF Sidebar, held at the Walter Reade Theater, will honor
Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, part of Brazil's Cinema Novo movement in the 50's & 60's.

Application forms, and complete rules, for
submissions to the New York Film Festival are now available. The deadline for submissions is 5pm on July 13, 2007.

Some highlights of the rules are:

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007



On The Lot, the new reality show for film directors (see our earlier posts listed below), has just announced the 50 semi-finalists (first name only).

Dedicated trackers on the OTL site have identified several of these (first name only) directors and paired them with the films they posted on the site. One of these is
Tamela D'Amico (In addition to her home-page, she has an OTL profile.)

She posted on the OTL site a trailer for her prizewinning short film, Volare. There were some 12,000 films submitted in competition. (There are many more on the site.) Hers is listed as #80, suggesting that at least some of the selecting was done really early on in the submission window. Her film was uploaded on Oct 10, 2006; and as of right now (2007-05-16 03:42 AM EST) has been viewed 126,199 times.

The 3 minute film clip looks beautiful, seems interesting, and suggests the short film itself (which is 30 minutes long) is well written, well acted and well directed.


Casting Actors On The Lot

On The Lot -- More Details

Film Networking in NY with OTL & QFW

On The Lot

Dreamworks, Burnett, Fox, Filmmakers

My Own Film OTL:

FRAGILE (Sonnet 65) with Intro:

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007



We visited
Nobu on Mother's Day, the first time I've been there in quite a while. The quality at Nobu, over the years, has varied... between excellent and sensational. This last visit it was terrific. ("Terrific" is nearly the top spot).

We chose dishes off the menu, rather than choosing the omikase (chef's choice). The oysters were spectacular, some Nobu-special sashimi dishes were fantastic, rock shrimp were great. Everything else was at least excellent. The saki was just right. The service was perfect. The atmosphere was very pleasant and comfortable.

Sometimes in the past (particularly before Nobu Next Door and Nobu 57th), it was impossible to get reservations unless you speed-dialed exactly a month before. This time we called for a table at 6 and got one for 7:15. The restaurant was pretty much full or almost full till quite late, but they probably could have managed a few more people during the evening.

There were quite a few families with children. No celebrities there that I recognized...( on past visits Nobu was usually good for name-dropping a couple of big ones... OK... here's a sample... about 10 years ago, when my mother-in-law was leaving the restaurant, Leo DiCaprio helped her down the outside steps.).

It was a thoroughly enjoyable meal, and a perfect way to celebrate Mother's Day.


Sunday, May 13, 2007



Spielberg, famously, in Jaws, declined to show the shark until well into the picture, after its reputation had been well established.

Marc Lawrence, the director of Music & Lyrics, makes the mistake of starting his film with a music video of the main character's hit song from the 80's. It looks more like a parody than a hit song. But then, later, as the movie develops, it turns out that we should really have realized what a great song it was.

That, along with a few other missteps, brings down what could have been quite a sharp romantic comedy, to the level of a pleasant diversion.

Marc Lawrence's script is really quite good. But the actors,
Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore don’t seem to quite match up with their characters. It takes more than a Brandeis sweater to give Drew Barrymore's portrayal of Sophie Fisher some real ethnic depth. ... And unless you like Hugh Grant's mugging shtick, his character grows tiresome.

To make this a really fine movie, you also need to sell the music. We never quite recover from the dissing of the main character's song at the beginning, and neither Hugh Grant nor Drew Barrymore are great singers. They're not bad, but I wouldn’t want to hear Simon Cowell's review. This is a movie about great music, but we don't feel we are with great music.

Haley Bennett, as a teen rock star, makes her first feature film appearance and does well.

All in all, since I liked a lot of the script, I was disappointed that the film did not break out to be as good as it could have been. Still, there's nothing seriously wrong with the film and it makes for a pleasant, romantic evening at the local TV couch.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007



An article in the magazine Cancer Cell (Vol 11, p 431 May 2007 -- have they no online copy?), reported in
New Scientist, describes research by Himanshu Brahmbhatt and Jennifer MacDiarmid of EnGeneIC in Sydney, Australia, in which nano sized (400 nanometers) buds of cytoplasm from bacteria are used to deliver anti-cancer drugs directly to tumors, avoiding the side affects of normal chemotherapy.

Here's a
link to some related patent information.

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Blood Diamond
is a powerful, interesting, exciting movie, centered in Sierra Leone (a country on the south west of Africa), where the discovery of diamonds sets off a horrible civil war, motivated by the struggle to control the diamonds, the diamond trade, and the diamond $$$'s. As one character says... I just hope they never discover oil here.

Leonardo DiCaprio, nominated for an Oscar, is a diamond smuggler; Djimon Hounsou (also nominated), is a fisherman who discovers a huge pink diamond. Jennifer Connelly is a journalist. The main supporting actors, drawn from around the world (mostly well known in their countries, with some, including the boy (Kagiso Kuypers) playing a key role as Hounsou's son, making their first appearance in a film) were all exceptional. There is a special quality of depth to a film in which the supporting actors make powerful contributions.

The story is driven mostly by action. There are few moments of quiet conversation, but they pace the movie nicely.

The story structure is a model of the type that Robert McKee advocates: it takes standard story structures and twists them to be unique and original. There are several movie archetypes here: it is partly a caper movie, partly a road movie, partly the kind of man-woman romance where the principals must keep their distance (remember African Queen), partly a buddy movie, partly a father-son binding story, partly a war movie, partly a journalist-discovers film (like All The President's Men -- but a beautiful-lady-journalist pursuing a single bad-boy-with-Hollywood-looks source has a different investigative dynamic); and, finally, partly a documentary on blood diamonds, child warriors, and Africa... an environment hovering always in the background (as in Children Of Men), providing the set-up and the world of the film.

(In the 60's, the Kingston Trio sang The Merry Minuet, to a happy tune:

They're rioting in Africa,
There's strife in Iran.

What nature doesn't do to us
Will be done by our fellow man!

I guess the world hasn't all that changed much in 40 years.)

The director,
Edward Zwick, also directed The Last Samurai and Legends of the Fall, and was a producer of Traffic, and I Am Sam.

His commentary on the DVD is a very interesting discussion of what he learned about Africa, its diamonds, and its wars, how to manage the logistics of this kind of film, and many subtle points of acting technique, story telling and directing.

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Friday, May 04, 2007



The website created for On The Lot, the new Spielberg/Burnett "reality" competition coming to Fox on May 22, provides an opportunity for filmmaker networking, both on the site and at offline meetings -- real people in real places -- organized online.

Join the site and check out the Board posts on New York meet-ups.

In addition to the OTL NY Meetup, there is another venue for networking in NY: Quick Flick World (QFW): www.qfworld.tv.

QFW is in a number of cities around the world. They've been off and on in NY. I think right now they are safely back on.

Each month they propose a theme. Films should somehow refer to the theme and be less than 3 min long (legal length sometimes varies). At the end of the month there is a workshop where the films are submitted and discussed. A few days later there is a party where all the films are shown, along with selected films from all around the world from the previous month's theme. Selected films are posted on the site.

Workshop and party locations and film specs sometimes change without notice, so always confirm everything directly with the New York Producers and Curators: http://www.qfworld.tv/cities.php?city=7.

It can be a great party, great networking, great films.

This month's theme is KISS (with optional technical parameter FISHEYE) which sounds like a fun project.

- 0 - 0 - 0 -

My film on Quick Flick World:


My film OTL (which was shown at QFW):

FRAGILE (Sonnet 65) with Intro:

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I'm a little concerned that the question being tested in the "debates" is not "Are you qualified to be President?" but rather, "Can you play one on TV?"

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Thursday, May 03, 2007



Actors can now post their headshots and vital statistics
ON THE LOT (OTL), the website for the new Spielberg/Burnett show. I have no idea whether or not it could result in any casting for the show, but the site seems a good place to network with filmmakers. (Filmmakers have posted a lot of good short films on the site, and participate in blogs and forums. Recently, about 9,000 to 13,000 people are logged in at any one time.)

The actor can also link to their profile page, or give it out as an online headshot and resume.

The actor registers on the site, then clicks the Actor radio button in the profile. The actor can upload pictures and credits. People can post comments on the actor's site. The actor can participate in forums (including an Actor's Forum) and can write a blog on the site. People on the site can exchange private e-mails with each other.


Searching on the site is not very good. These are the only ways I know to search on the site (for actors, films, filmmakers or anything else):

1- Use films:

2- Use casting:

3- Use google with thelot.com as part of the search

4- Use Josh Rencher's search:

0 - 0 - 0 - 0

My film OTL:

FRAGILE (Sonnet 65) with Intro

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007



NASA is thinking about tackling the hard topics of sex and death in space on a voyage to Mars. Here's an interesting article from AP about this issue:


(Note: The article has been widely reprinted. The version above is one of the few which includes the actual author of the article. That is interesting, because the article contains comments from a number of people, speculation, and reference to a report from NASA that was obtained by the AP using the Freedom of Information Act.

I have not been able to find a link to the NASA report itself. I haven't found it on the NASA site, or any link to it on any of the articles I've looked at. There is a page with reports NASA has made public:


and this includes one report on spaceflight safety standards. However, it deals primarily with radiation issues:
http://standards.nasa.gov/public/public_detail.taf?Documents_uid1=6618&doc_name=NASA-STD-3001, Volume 1#.)

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Pete Seeger: The Power of Song
is a wonderful movie. It is currently being screened at the Tribeca Film Festival (TFF).

It is 90 minutes of folk songs, beautifully sung; 88 years or so (Pete Seeger's age) of the history of social movements, folk music, and the folk music of social movements. There are moments from historic performances, including an electric, impossibly young Bob Dylan. There are appearances, some in song, some in comments, some in moments of history from the Weavers, the Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul & Mary, Johnny Cash, Woody Guthrie, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Bruce Springsteen, President Clinton -- awarding Pete Seeger the National Medal of Arts, and many others.

Among the many social issues raised are patriotism, freedom of speech, Communism, union organizing, World War II, HUAC and the blacklist, racism, the Vietnam War (with an apparent allusion to Iraq in the lyrics of Waist Deep In The Big Muddy: "We were -- knee deep in the Big Muddy, But the big fool said to push on"), and cleaning up the Hudson river.

The film was directed by
Jim Brown, who has made a number of films about folk singers. I do not believe the film has a distributor yet. (The one concern may be clearing rights to all the music.)

It deserves (actually, deserves is the wrong word, because it makes it sound like an obligation)... It may be enjoyed by a wide audience of younger people -- who have heard the music and can observe the context; older people -- for whom this film is a history of the issues and music of their lives; music students -- for whom this is simply great American music; and everyone -- for whom this film is both a joyful concert and an inspiration.

Through it all,
Pete Seeger is shown not as a protestor -- he did not sing protest songs to protest, he sang to bring people together -- but as a builder of communities and a Johnny Appleseed, propagating decency and freedom.

Tomorrow, May 3, is Pete Seeger's 88th birthday. Happy Birthday, Pete!

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