Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Hello from Utah.

I've been attending the Sundance film festival for the last couple days and for a couple more to come.

I'm making videos about the festival with my friends, Rafi, Dallas and Ian under the moniker: "Internets Celebrities."

We've been sent down here - by - to deliver 7 videos about the festival from Dallas and Rafi's perspective for the 7 days we're here. Thus far, we've delivered 3 on schedule and are locked up in our Main Street, Park City Hotel condo cutting the other 4.

It's fairly bananas to work this hard - turning out videos in 24 hours or less - but the burden eases with each successful output and posting. We try to go out full-force as much as we can but Ian and I end up having to switch off on the editing/shooting details to maximize our time.

Here are the celebrities we've interviewed/shouted at/filmed so far (in chronological order): Dustin Diamond, Jaime Kennedy, (the guy who plays Shooter McGavin in Happy Gilmore), Dakota Fanning, Chris Klein, the FBI agent who turns Big Pussy on the Sopranos, Keith David, Crispin Glover, Carl Lewis, and MC Hammer.

Every single one of them has been extremely good sports about being on camera. The 20 minutes of Hammertime I filmed was genuinely interesting. He was working on two laptops at once when we ran into him at an internet cafe. I can understand having two phones but I don't get why one uses two computers.

All right, back to editing.

If you'd like to see what we've done so far, go to and check out our daily videos.

Monday, January 22, 2007


My great uncle Samuel from Ozone Park is a navy veteran and an all around curmudgeon. He's expressed some interest in blogs and the internet in general but doesn't really have the wherewithal to get one going on his own. I told him he could write things down on paper and I would post his stuff here as sort of a 'guest blogger', just to get him started. He agreed:

"I've lived in New York City for a long time. People have gotten worse about waiting for the subway car to empty before getting on. It causes quite a traffic jam. Those doors are not big enough to let people out and in at the same time! I also don't like when people boarding the train stop right by the door and plant themselves, blocking other people from getting on. Step all the way in to the middle of the train! That's what the conductor always says. Maybe it's my time in the military that makes it easy for me to follow instructions. These young people don't listen. I see those police cadets on the train a lot though. They never block the doors. I think everyone should wear a uniform at some point in their lives. Like they do it in Israel. Mandatory service.

I see Asian people wearing surgical masks when they're out and about sometimes. I'm sixty-seven years old, smoked when I was younger, then quit with the help of my wife. My lungs are perfect, and I still run a mile three times a week. This is on New York City air I'm talking about. The air these people are apparently too good to breath. Who knows, maybe they're all doctors. I could see myself forgetting to take the mask off if I were a doctor.

I don't understand all this fuss about the We. They've had stuff like that in Japan for forty years. When I was stationed over there they had this thing where kids would dip their arm in a vat of mercury, and then they could control a black-and-white elephant on a movie screen and make him pick up peanuts. Now people are lining up to pay a hundred dollars for this crap. I just don't get it.

What gives turtles the right to have vaginas?

I saw a man on my morning walk this morning who was a flamboyant dresser. He had on plaid pants, a leopard print scarf, and a coat that looked all southwestern, like a blanket you might buy from some squaw off route sixty-six. He looked fabulous, and I wondered why I hadn't thought of it first.

Always remember to vote."

Well, that's it for now. I know he's a little off. Everyone knows the vote is fixed!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Bodega Experience

I directed a short documentary entitled Bodega - featuring Dallas Penn & Rafi Kam.

In a cosmic twist of fate, we were given the opportunity to put two versions on the internet.

You can see the shorter one HERE

You can see the longer one here HERE

I wrote about the experience of making it on The Huffington Post. The graphic of the food pyramid there was created by agent b.

The short version is more to the point. The longer version has more jokes. I'm proud of both.

Thanks for watching!

Monday, January 15, 2007

24 (Jack Bauer's day-off)

Speaking of 24, I've always thought that there should be at least one season devoted to a milder day in Jack Bauer's life.

Forgetting the fact that the amount of trauma and urgency in his life would make most humans' hearts explode, I think the show runs the risk of becoming too repetitive. Last night I saw a commercial for a Fox News segment that promised to explain why this season of 24 would be "different than all the rest."

I'm sure that Fox News broke it down in an impartially insightful manner but I can't imagine how this season is actually that "different." Jack may be facing new enemies and have new permutations of obstacles blocking his path but it's still about him spending a harrowing day saving the world and being in danger. How different can life-threatening situations be?

Provided that Jack Bauer survives this season (FYI - Kiefer's signed a three year contract with the show), I think everyone would benefit from a relaxing season of 24:

01:00:00 - Jack tosses and turns in his sleep. He turns on the TV and watches old SNL reruns.
02:00:00 - Still unable to sleep, Jack gets out of bed and calls an ex-girlfriend. They have an awkward but fulfilling conversation.
03:00:00 - Jack does some emailing. His iCal reminds him CTU is having its company-wide picnic today.
04:00:00 - Jack makes himself some tea. He looks at pictures of his wife (killed in the first season) and misses her.
05:00:00 - Jack fills the bird feeder at his beachfront apartment. He watches the sun rise. The waves are breaking nicely.
06:00:00 - Jack goes for an early dip in the ocean. He talks to some surfers. They encourage him to ride a few waves. He decides to go for it and enjoys the experience.
07:00:00 - Jack cooks up a killer omelet. He eats the omelet and writes in his journal.
08:00:00 - Jack takes a shower and gets dressed. He loads up the car with some Frisbees, a croquet set and a cooler of beers
09:00:00 - Jack drives to the park in LA where the picnic is taking place. Jack punches the ceiling of the car because of the plethora of commercials on his favorite classic rock station. He laughs at how easily he gets frustrated. He switches to NPR and listens to This American Life.
10:00:00 - Jack meets up with the CTU gang and helps set up the grill. Everyone chats about the last terrorist threat they stopped. Jack talks about the Chinese prison he was in and how he's psyched to just chill out for a while. Someone hits Bill Buchanan in the head with a Frisbee.
11:00:00 - A game of Frisbee football develops. Jack wrestles with his competitive nature when he winds up on the worse team. Breathing the fresh air and enjoying the nice day, Jack decides to just relax and have fun.
12:00:00 - The first wave of burgers is ready. Everyone rushes over to the grill with their buns. Jack is first in line but lets the new girl in CTU's administration cut in front of him. She gives him a look. Chloe gets jealous. Jack smiles sheepishly at Chloe.
13:00:00 - Jack and Bill talk about sports. Jack goes for another burger but decides to have a dog instead. He talks about how mustard & ketchup is the best combo.
14:00:00 - Jack and Chloe go for a walk. He talks about his ex-wife a little too much and apologizes for being self-absorbed.
15:00:00 - Jack and Chloe make out.
16:00:00 - Jack and Chloe talk about how they're both not in the right place for a relationship right now. They make plans to see a movie later that week - as friends.
17:00:00 - CTU cleans up after a good day of fun. Bill Buchanan gets a cooler of Gatorade dumped on him.
18:00:00 - Jack gets a call from the president - Wayne Palmer. They talk about sports. Wayne invites Jack to come have a drink at the white house sometime next week. Jack says he will.
19:00:00 - Jack drives home. He gets home and feels restless.
20:00:00 - Jack calls Chloe and asks her if she wants to get a drink. She says yes, she was hoping he'd call. She uses hi-tech satellite triangulation to find an out-of-the-way bar that isn't too trendy. They agree to meet there in an hour.
21:00:00 - Jack gets to the bar and gets a drink. He's a little nervous. He goes in the bathroom and looks in the mirror, monologueing about how he's faced down terrorists and assassins so why should he be nervous on a date with his old friend, Chloe. He comes out of the bathroom just as Chloe enters the bar. They look at each other.
22:00:00 - They have some drinks. Chloe insists on buying the first round. A guy brushes up against Chloe in a sleazy manner. Jack clicks the safety off on his gun. Chloe shakes her head. Jack relaxes and laughs at himself. He puts his gun away.
23:00:00 - Jack and Chloe get a little drunk. They are very affectionate with each other. Jack runs into the sleazy guy in the bathroom and demands he apologize to Chloe or Jack will drown him in the sink. The guy apologizes and leaves the bar in a hurry.
00:00:00 - Jack and Chloe leave the bar and head back to Chloe's place. They start making out. It gets a little heavy. Chloe asks Jack if he has any condoms. He doesn't. Jack drives to the local convenience store and buys some Trojans - ribbed. He heads back to her apartment and has trouble finding parking. He breaks into a car, hotwires it, re-parks it by a hydrant and moves his car into the newly open spot. He looks at his gun and decides he doesn't need to carry it tonight. He puts it in the glove compartment. He heads into Chloe's apartment.

No Druthers For Suthers

I understand that 24 is a supremely popular show. I've never watched it, personally. Something about the way those Fox shows are advertised makes me feel like a thin film of scum is accumulating on my eyeballs whenever the ads run. Prison Break is another one.

Can someone fill me in on what I might be missing? Whenever 24 commercials come on, Kiefer Sutherland seems to be screaming at someone who is usually tied to chair. Then Keifer kicks the chair so they fall, helpless, onto their back. That hardly seems fair. This has been going on for like five years now. I suppose it's Bauer's signature move.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Bad Moon Rising

What's worse than leaving work, getting on the train, realizing you left your keys at work, getting off the train and walking back to the office to retrieve them? Doing all that, then arriving at your desk and being unable to find them, only to realize they were in your bag the entire time.

Yesterday was a strange day. Menace was in the air early as I arrived at work to discover the stench of natural gas everywhere. Apparently this was a widespread phenomenon on the west side of Manhattan, still unexplained by dismissed by the authorities as not dangerous. My favorite theory floated was that it was a leak of Mercaptan itself, the additive that gives natural gas its odor. I love the idea of a non-dangerous leak of something that is only there to signify danger. It's like the opposite of a placebo.

It was just one of those days... strange people about, abnormal behavior on all sides. My walk home featured a woozy man who appeared to be the victim of some minor assault complaining to a cop that the perpetrator had escaped and how it "wasn't nice". At the top of the subway steps stood a man who I've seen a lot in the past year. Sometimes he wears a neck brace, sometimes he doesn't. He's often talking to no one in particular, but a week ago and twelve blocks eastward, he had warned me to be careful of the traffic because people were "driving like crazy". There was also the man with the extreme palsy who's usually seated inside the station but seemed to have relocated, perhaps against his will, or perhaps enjoying the tail end of El Nino. All in all, the tone was very similar to that tracking shot in the beginning of The Terminator, where the kids are huddled around the television, a fire burning in its broken screen.

Friday, January 05, 2007


So for the first time in seven years, I’m living in an apartment that lacks internet. I anticipated this situation and probably even welcomed it on some level. I work in an office for a good chunk of most weekdays where I have as much bandwidth and connectivity as I can use. I thought if I didn’t have it at home, I’d save money, I’d be productive (editing and general writing if not blogging-wise) and if I needed it, I could always hunt down an internet café.

At this point, there’s still a lot of free wireless out there. Two things have surprised me:

1) A lot of the best places for free wireless are actually bars. I thought cafés had the monopoly on wireless – the theory being it’s harder to sleepily spill coffee on your computer than drunkenly tip over a glass of wine. Nope. People like to drink and browse. Plus, I actually find the connection in bars faster than cafés. It could be there are less people in bars using computers – meaning less strain on the network. Or it could just be the booze talking.

2) Having to depend on it has demonstrated to me just how many places charge for the use of their internet. Some places have computers and charge for their use. This seems fair. You’re actually downloading all your viruses, signing up for porn and generally mashing all the keys on their machine. But I have a laptop and I can’t stand the idea of paying for the use of wireless in a public place.

My problem with #2 is that wireless costs pretty much nothing. 50 bucks a month gets you the cable modem. 150 bucks for the wireless base station and you’re good to go. 200 bucks seems like a small price to pay for a pretty good way of bringing people into your establishment. But then again, I’m not a business owner so I don’t want to presume to know what’s a fair expense to a new business.

From a consumer’s viewpoint, I can’t believe that people – with laptops – pay to use a Starbucks’s wireless. There’s one on Delancey St., near my internet-free apartment. One night, I was desperate to get online. And like most times when I’m desperate to get online, it’s because I’m downloading or uploading a media file (short video or graphic or music). I only need about ten minutes to pull it off. To get online at Starbucks, I though that it might take a purchase or a small fee. In fact, you have to literally sign up credit-card style for fairly big units of wireless time. You can’t just buy ten minutes worth. You have to do it for a whole day, a week, a month, etc. I unfortunately did not learn this fact until I’d bought a diabetes-inducing hot carmel apple cider – with caramel!

So should no place charge for wireless? I was in Brooklyn this weekend and was looking for a good internet spot. I walked into a new internet café in Williamsburg and asked the guy at the counter if they had free wireless. He said no. Not free. It was five dollars for six hours worth of online activity. I said thanks and started to walk out. He stopped me and asked what I would do in his position. His problem was this: If wireless internet was free in his establishment, people would just sit in the café and not buy anything. I felt like this was the opportunity I had been waiting for. With more places charging for the use of their broadband, I thought that if I could just convince one business owner, the dominoes would soon fall and wireless scrooges would see the error of their way.

The not buying anything is the tough part. The sitting there all day part seems like less of a problem for a new café to have. If there’s one thing that’s a little depressing it’s a new café with empty tables. I mean, you want people to sit there and enjoy themselves. Otherwise, why not just open a coffee-stand? But I guess I feel him on freeloaders like myself just using the internet with nary a purchase in sight. I think the compromise is this: Go ahead and make wireless available with a purchase (even a purchase as small as a coffee). Even though I think this ruins a little bit of the goodwill of totally unlimited connectivity, it ensures that people will have paid something for the service. Plus, I think most people wouldn’t take advantage. Call me an optimist but I think most people wouldn’t sit in front of their computer in a café all day. And if they did – they’ve got to eat something. Then, it’s just up to the café to make the food/drink worth buying.

This was the case I made to the new café owner. One purchase for unlimited wireless. He said sure, one purchase of no less than five dollars. I argued that people buy coffees and sit in cafes for long stretches reading or talking anyway. Get the people into your café first. If there’s massive overcrowding and people are squatting for full days on just one cup of coffee, feel free to change things then. But right now, you could have worse problems than people clamoring to get in and get on your internets!

I realized I was speaking too passionately on the subject. He thanked me for my opinion and dismissed me. I went up the block to the Roebling Tea Room and waited for them to allow computers to be used on the tables (free wireless but not during brunch!)

In closing to this ramble, I urge you not to pay for wireless. Instead, go to some of these fine establishments (if you’re on the lower east side) and use their free connect while enjoying a medium sized beverage purchased on the premises:

Full City Coffee (409 Grand St.)
Lotus Lounge (35 Clinton St.)
Lolita Bar (266 Broome St.)

Editor’s note: This post was finished and posted from the front seat of my car, parked on Broome St., sitting in front of Lolita Bar – within range of their wireless connection.

Monday, January 01, 2007

What I Did On My Winter Vacation

First off, I'm a little jealous that Casimir was able to snag the .com while I was left with the crumbs of the .net. But who's complaining?

Now in my first year as a staff member at my current job (as opposed to freelance), I was fortunate enough to have the week between Christmas and New Year's off. It was splendid.

I ate filet mignon twice.

I went cross-country skiing on a ring of man-made snow in Vermont. The real thing was in short supply.

I defeated Marvel: Ultimate Alliance with the help of my friend Ben Fine. He played as Iron Man, I as Wolverine. Dr. Doom never knew what hit him.

I saw Spring Awakening with the lovely Susan. It was quite good... sort of like Rent, but with better music, and set in 1880's Germany. Our seats were actually on the stage, which was slightly unnerving. Susan tried to guess who seated among us were secretly cast members (it seemed inevitable, and certain individuals who were seated alone were suspiciously well-scrubbed and decked in earth-tones). The kid who sat next to me should have aroused our suspicion immediately when he made the previously humorless usher who showed us to our seats laugh with seeming ease, but he played us for fools, chatting with us a bit, saying he hadn't seen the show but he had been listening to the CD. When the show started, he kept tapping his feet to the music in a way that made the risers shake in a supremely annoying fashion. I considered asking him to stop, but was glad I hadn't when three songs into the show he whipped out a mic and started singing with the ensemble. Still, I hated his constant rhythmic stomping and the fact that he lied to us. Nice guy, though. But how would I know? ACTOR!

I recorded a new song called Ways and Means which you can hear here or here. This is the first one to have real drums on the recording. Forgive my somewhat sloppy timing... it's been a while.