The other night, I finally got around to watching The September Issue on Netflix; a documentary about the making of the then-massive annual fall fashion preview issue of Vogue in 2007. For those unfamiliar with Vogue, it’s one of those first generation pre-Blogosphere e-zines delivered in low-res analog form via flimsy portable tablet computers made from the byproducts of dead trees. Yuck!
Seriously though, it’s a fascinating time capsule of a film, sort of the Titanic or Last Days of Pompeii of the New York magazine industry. And beyond the world of Vogue depicted in the movie itself, of a supremely competent insular liberal Masters of the Universe worldview just before the lights went out on the world’s economy, and elites got what they wanted in the years that followed — good and hard, as Mencken would say. President Obama likes to say that Americans have been pretty soft in recent years; he need only watch this film to see how right he was about his core constituency. When Occupy Wall Street complains of “The One Percent” and their enormous wealth, well, come and see the plutocratic excess inherent in the system.
When The September Issue first played in 2009, Serena French of New York Post, who dubbed it a “Hazy Shade Of Wintour,” described the film as “a snapshot of Paris before the Revolution, before the bottom fell out of the Park Avenue parquet, the world [that Vogue editor Anna Wintour] courted and documented so finely in the pages of her magazine:”
That the most powerful and protected woman in fashion does so now — in this film, on “60 Minutes” earlier this spring, on “Letterman” next week — is a mystery. Except that after 20 years, with fashion in economic crisis, management consultants turning Condé Nast inside out, vulture critics circling and speculating about her own exit strategy, she must be thinking in terms of legacy.
For the documentary, which opens Aug. 28, the magazine — which is to say Wintour — allowed Cutler an extraordinary level of access for the closing of the most important issue of the year in 2007, which at 840 pages was the magazine’s biggest ever. Cutler followed Wintour and her team from the shows in February — when fall clothes are shown on world stages — from planning with editors and photographers, fashion shoots, meetings with retailers and designers, to closing in July, interspersed with interviews at her homes in Greenwich Village and Long Island.
This peek inside the star chamber is juicy viewing on a number of levels. It’s a psychological portrait of Anna, powerful female executive, mother, daughter, perfectionist. It’s a front-row seat at how the albeit-impeccably-turned-out-but-sausage-nonetheless gets made at Vogue.
And perhaps most interestingly, it’s a snapshot of Paris before the Revolution, before the bottom fell out of the Park Avenue parquet, the world Wintour courted and documented so finely in the pages of her magazine.
Cut to the $2 million-a-year editor sipping her Starbucks in the back of a chaffeur-driven limousine that is her daily commute as the examples of a soon-to-be bygone era unfold.
As the pressure of producing a blockbuster issue mounts, Wintour jettisons $50,000 worth of photos from a shoot. One minute a designer dress is on a rack in the halls of Vogue, the next it is on her back. Heraldic assistants sounding the alarm of her arrival contrast nicely with viewers’ knowledge that, in real life, Condé Nast receptionists were all recently laid off.
Even if you don’t give a fig for fashion, it’s rare that you get to see Nero tuning up his fiddle as Rome is about to spontaneously combust.
As Kyle Smith of the Post wrote back then on his blog, that’s the magic of a documentary: “Convince somebody that you’re going to make them a big-screen star, then let them hang themselves.” (A technique that’s certainly worked to devastating results in the music world with such documentaries as the Maysles Brothers’ Gimme Shelter and Taylor Hackford’s Hail! Hail! Rock & Roll.)
Even after their plots are familiar, certain films are fun to return to again and again because they’re time machines that allow us to instantly turn the clock back to bygone eras, both good and bad. But what other time capsule films are there? We’ll explore that right after the page break.
MSN reports that the beloved co-star of M*A*S*H and Dragnet “died at his home in Los Angeles on Wednesday morning. The character actor was 96:”
He was best known for playing Colonel Sherman T. Potter on the long-running army comedy.
Bing: More on Harry Morgan
In a 2004 interview with the The Television Academy Foundation’s Archive of American Television, Morgan acknowledged the profound effect that the iconoclastic sitcom had on his career.
“”He was firm,” Morgan said. “He was a good officer and he had a good sense of humor. I think it’s the best part I ever had. I loved playing Colonel Potter.”
Although “M*A*S*H” made him a television icon, Morgan first came to attention for his role as Officer Bill Gannon, Joe Friday’s partner on the revived version of “Dragnet,” which aired on NBC from 1967-70.
Only if you’re someone for whom history begins in the late 1960s. Beginning in 1942, Morgan acted in 159 movies and TV series, many of them before Dragnet, including the TV series December Bride, which brought Morgan into America’s living rooms from 1954 through 1959. Also during period, he had a supporting role in Jimmy Stewart’s Strategic Air Command, from 1955 (disgracefully not on DVD according to Amazon; it’s worth it as a time capsule of America’s giant B-36 bombers alone), which is as far away from the moral relativism and equivalence of from the anti-Vietnam War-ethos of M*A*S*H as possible.
Morgan had to walk a fine line on M*A*S*H, being gruff enough to be believable as a “regular Army” colonel who served going back to WWI, yet still giving Hawkeye, BJ and Klinger enough room for their antics and quirks, particularly after replacing the bumbling Henry Blake, played by McLean Stevenson.
Morgan would work in front of the camera until 1999, including playing his old Dragnet character in an otherwise so-so Dan Aykroyd-Tom Hanks big screen send-up of the show in 1987. Very few actors could switch gears between comedy and drama as effectively as Morgan — but then, there are very actors left today who personify what Tom Brokaw would dub “the Greatest Generation.”
Depending upon your perspective, the idea of the tablet computer dates back to the late 1990s when they first started making the rounds at the annual Consumer Electronics Show, or back to the mid-1960s, and the flat panel computers that the astronauts were holding in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, released in 1968, but largely shot two years earlier. Ultimately though, it took until 2010 for the year we made contact with Steve Jobs’ iPad to produce a commercially viable product. But once the iPad hit store shelves, the floodgates were opened, and it was soon joined by a variety of competitors, including the Android Galaxy Tab, and other tablet devices.
As a vehicle for consuming media, the iPad and its derivatives function quite well as self-contained units — just had headphones. But for creating media, sometimes an accessory or two is useful to ease the process.
Microsoft’s Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 6000 is a full-sized wireless keyboard that can be a godsend for those looking to write quickly and cleanly on a tablet. I’m not entirely crazy about the slight bend in the keyboard, but it’s nowhere near as bad as some of the more radically curved ergonomic keyboards I’ve seen over the years. I was able to quickly adapt my “high speed hunt ‘n’ peck” style to the Microsoft Keyboard pretty easily; my recent Thanksgiving trip highlights were largely written via this keyboard in a hotel room, airport departure lounge and on the plane, and my Samsung Galaxy Tab, then polished in Word before publishing.
The Mobile Keyboard also comes with a separate numeric keyboard, which I don’t think I’ve ever used, but for those who need to do lots of numeric input, it’s there.
If you’ve got the space for a separate keyboard, why not a separate mouse as well? Microsoft’s Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000 is, as its Shatner Turbo 2000-esque name implies, just that, a handy Bluetooth mouse, which can double duty as a mouse for any Bluetooth-equipped tablet and laptop as well. It’s comfortable, fits in the hand nicely, and like the Microsoft Bluetooth keyboard can further open up a tablet computer. Unlike the keyboard, it also comes with a convenient black nylon protective cover with a Velcro flap, to protect when tossed into a laptop bag for travel.
Both of these devices mate with a tablet very easily. In the case of my Samsung Galaxy Tab, I simply went into settings, and paired the mouse and keyboard with the Galaxy. The Microsoft products have buttons on their underside which activate the units, and send out the code for the tablet to recognize them. Following the instructions that come with the Microsoft products made it a surprisingly easy job.
The 21st Century Music Cloud meets the 20th Century Car Tape Deck
Of course, the primary role of the tablet for many people is to consume media, not produce it. And in a sense, a tablet is capable of near-infinite music storage. 30 years ago, musician-producer Brian Eno wrote that recorded music “makes repeatable what was otherwise transient and ephemeral. Music, until about 1900, was an event that was perceived in a particular situation, and that disappeared when it was finished.” But in contrast:
As soon as you record something, you make it available for any situation that has a record player. You take it out of the ambience and locale in which it was made, and it can be transposed into any situation. This morning I was listening to a Thai lady singing; I can hear the sound of the St. Sophia Church in Belgrade or Max’s Kansas City in my own apartment, and I can listen with a fair degree of conviction about what these sounds mean. As Marshall McLuhan said, it makes all music all present. So not only is the whole history of our music with us now, in some sense, on record, but the whole global musical culture is also available.
Cloud computing goes that several times better. As we noted last month, a tablet or smart phone equipped with Amazon’s MP3 cloud player allows anyone to effectively carry around his entire music collection – which in my late father’s case would have been the equivalent of an entire basement’s worth of records. (Those big black analog CDs with the scratches and pops. Wait, what’s a CD, you ask…?) But getting the sound into your car can sometimes be a challenge. Particularly if you’ve got an older car with a cassette deck that you’d rather not replace. For example, Nina and I purchased our 1985 Mercedes 500SEL last year from the proverbial little old lady in Pasadena San Jose. It was in extremely good shape, with low mileage for a quarter-century old car, and still had the original Blaupunkt AM/FM cassette deck. I had toyed with the idea of replacing the Blaupunkt with a Sirius-XM-equipped radio, but for under twenty bucks, I eventually decided to go with Monster Cable’s iCarPlay Cassette Adapter 800. For less than a couple of sawbucks, it’s an easy way to get the sound of the 21st century into a car built during the height of the Reagan years.
The Monster iCarPlay Cassette Adapter has an output cable terminating in a 1/8th-inch miniplug, making it compatible with just about any tablet, smart phone, iPod or other portable device with a miniplug output. The iCarPlay has a flip-open lid at the top of the “cassette,” which allows the cable to moved to several positions, depending upon if you insert tapes into your car’s cassette player straight in or sideways. However, moving the cable to a new position can take a few minutes, and is particularly “fun” to do in the car at night. If you own more than one car with a cassette deck with a different tape loading style, for under twenty bucks, you might want to buy a second unit and keep it ready to go, rather than fumbling with the output cable’s position each time you want to plug in some music.
Incidentally, I would recommend someone riding shotgun to switch the tracks on your tablet or smart phone while you’re behind the steering wheel. Either that or an install an iDrive on your steering wheel. It makes it much easier to switch tracks and perform other functions on your tablet while you’re driving….
Dr. Helen’s new post quotes an excerpt from a new book on weight reduction and exercise, whose authors claim:
The covers of Playboy, Playgirl, Vogue, and Cosmopolitan, she claims, set our standards for attractiveness, not the reverse. According to [Femnist/would-be Goracle advisor Naomi] Wolf and others of her opinion, there is no universal standard for human beauty. Were we not programmed by advertisers and the entertainment industry, we would find a fat man or woman just as attractive and desirable as a thin one.
Years of serious scientific study, across numerous disciplines, prove otherwise. Our attraction to a pretty face and a flat belly is in our genes and is an atavistic throwback to a time when such features represented health and the ability to reproduce—important requirements in the selection of a mate. As Harvard Professor Deirdre Barrett puts it, these deep-seated universal standards of beauty “reflect our evolutionary need to estimate the health of others from their physical characteristics.”
I think I disagree with their disagreement — if only because…isn’t everything aesthetics at this point? And for most people — certainly those on the left who’ve discarded traditional religion, aesthetics flow from the academy and pop culture. Speaking of the latter, in his book, Shows About Nothing, where Seinfeld meets Nietzsche (and you thought Jerry’s Superman statue was in his apartment because he was a DC, not Marvel guy), Thomas Hibbs, a professor of philosophy at Baylor University called it “the Pyrrhic victory of radical individualism:”
Instead of the nihilistic era eliminating rules, initiating a lapse into a kind of anarchy, there is a medley of rules with no clear relationship to one another. There is something capricious and comical in the continuing hold that rules have on us; they operate like taboos, making little or no sense but nonetheless exercising an irresistible psychological pressure. Seinfeld’s insight into the odd ways rules now function in our lives is a remarkable bit of comic genius. Nothing illustrates better the Pyrrhic victory of radical individualism. We have successfully thrown off the encumbrances of authority and tradition only to find ourselves subject to new, more devious, and more intractable forms of tyranny. Classical liberalism thought that the most just form of government was one that recognized the natural and inalienable rights of human beings to self-determination. There was a kind of naïve faith in the ability of untutored individuals to choose for the best, to act on the basis of their long-term interests. The belief was that the only rules to emerge from such a system would be rules reasonably consented to by a reflective majority or by their duly elected representatives. But the advent of democratic nihilism renders dubious the assumption of a link between autonomous individual choice and reason, between the fleeting desires of the self and the self’s long-term interests.
* * * * *
Each character on Seinfeld has his or her individual limits, but these are not moral limits; they are more like the limits of one’s personality or lifestyle. This is most pointedly illustrated in the episode where Jerry and George are suspected of being gay. They spend the entire episode vociferously denying the accusation and vigorously defending their heterosexuality. Yet after each denial, they feel compelled to add, “not that there’s anything wrong with that.” Like other conventions once thought to reflect a natural order, heterosexuality has become an inexplicable remnant from the past. Instead of the body as ensouled, as the locus for the reception and expression of meaning and intimacy, the body is now a neutral and mute collection of organs and parts. The parts can be manipulated to produce pleasure. In one episode, Elaine attributes her failure to persuade a homosexual to change “teams” to her limited access to the male “equipment.” When George’s mother surprises him and interrupts his self-stimulation, she objects to his treating his body like an “amusement park.” The fixation on the body does not unveil any deeper significance; it blinds the characters to the complementarity of the sexes. Seinfeld matter-of-factly confirms Renton’s revolutionary prophecy [in 1996's Trainspotting] that we’re heterosexual by default, that in one thousand years there will be no men and no women: “It’s all about aesthetics and f—k all to do with morality.”
And 21st century morality really is all about aesthetics at this point, isn’t it?
Yes, I find myself for once agreeing with the earth-toned, less than buttondown mind of Naomi Wolf. And I…am…ashamed.
When DVD was first envisioned, it was primarily as a medium to play back movies. But then the studios discovered something unexpected: people really wanted to relive their favorite TV shows on disc. Today, some of the most memorable moments in television are now nicely packaged in box form. Here’s a very idiosyncratic list of some of the author’s favorites in his collection:
The Prisoner: James Bond, Double-Oh Kafka. Patrick McGoohan’s spy-without-a-name was one of the most adventurous TV shows of the 1960s, an allegory for both the Cold War, and the coming onslaught of political correctness and other forms of Frankfurt School-style reeducation. Killer theme song and brilliant production design to boot.
Monty Python’s Flying Circus: Things began to fall apart in the show’s third and fourth seasons, but for a time, there wasn’t a better working comedy ensemble. Their early episodes, in which sketches ended without punchlines, merged into other sketches, and made references to Kant, Nietzsche, and Descartes (at a time when Norman Lear was slapping himself on the back for getting Archie Bunker’s toilet flush on the air at CBS) were the Citizen Kane of comedic TV. They rewrote the rules, made new ones, and made superstars out of an unlikely assemblage of British television writer-performers, and in the process dynamited postwar British culture (that last item was truly a mixed blessing for England, of course). The 14-disc box set includes its rarely seen episode produced for German television (which took Basil Fawlty’s later advice to not mention the war seriously), along with the Steve Martin-hosted 20 year retrospective, produced shortly before Graham Chapman died, but the real meat of the show are the Pythons’ classic episodes.
The World At War: The great Thames TV documentary, which like Python, became a popular mid-1970s British export to American airwaves, was, in retrospect, made at precisely the right time. There were still enough men alive who had fought on the front lines, along with a fair number of the older generation of generals and politicians on all sides who had prosecuted the war. Film and animation techniques were by the early 1970s sufficiently developed to tell the story graphically. But perhaps most importantly, there was still confidence that the Allies were good guys; moral equivalence, multiculturalism, punitive liberalism, the “black armband school of history,” and all of the other soul-destroying elements of Frankfurt School-style political correctness were not yet standard issue features at the academy, and by extension, the television studio. Oh, and Sir Laurence Olivier is of course pitch-perfect in his stentorian world-weariness. And be on the lookout in later episodes and particularly the bonus features for commentary from a very young, mullet-wearing Stephen Ambrose, 20 years before he became a one-man publishing industry.
Saturday Night Live: Original writer Anne Beatts summed up this show’s arc when she said, “You can only be avant-garde for so long before you become garde.” And SNL, a show that once celebrated youth culture before becoming a corporate institution, is at 35 years old, the very definition of garde. But when SNL first debuted in 1975, it was the logical extension of earlier comedic experiments such as Laugh-In, the leftwing, network-defying Smothers Brothers Show, and the aforementioned Monty Python. Creator/producer Lorne Michaels waged a daily war with NBC’s censors, and for better or worse, imprinted a permanent stamp on the television overculture. The Jimmy Fallon Show’s recent premeditated hit-job on Michele Bachmann would be inconceivable without SNL’s original effort to submarine Gerry Ford via Ron Nessen, his press secretary, and of course, the Daily Show is simply Chevy Chase’s original recurring Weekend Update sketch on steroids.
To get a sense of where network television was in 1975, just rifle through YouTube and watch a clip of The Johnny Carson Show, or one of Dean Martin’s interminable roasts from the period, and you’ll immediately see how exhausted postwar show business culture had become. Saturday Night Live was the Woodstock and Watergate-era counterculture finally getting network exposure, and in the process emerging as the dominant culture in Hollywood, which it arguably remains today. But a curious thing happened along the way: during the original lineup’s run from 1975 to 1980, the politics became toned down, making the show accessible to just about any teenager or young adult in the American heartland who wanted to see a mix of comedy and often deliberately eclectic rock and roll in a single package. The resulting show was the perfect conduit to transmit the products of Big Hollywood, Big Music, and plenty of advertisers’ wares to America’s youth market in the late 1970s. David Brooks’ generation of bourgeois bohemians began here.
The first season DVD box set of SNL, which highlights a show still finding itself, includes the debut episode hosted by George Carlin, the aforementioned appearance by Ron Nessen (and a cameo from Gerry Ford, who never knew what hit him), classic Michael O’Donohue-penned parodies of Citizen Kane and Star Trek, along with the screen tests performed by the cast. Whatever X-factor that John Belushi had that made him an electric performer when the red tally light on the video camera switched on was immediately apparent in his screen test.
In the 1970s, the legendary director defined the motto that nothing succeeds like excess:
Very sad news today: polarizing British filmmaker Ken Russell has died, reportedly in his sleep. Russell was a powerful storyteller whose films frequently stirred up controversy, perhaps most notably in The Devils, which many consider to be his masterpiece. The film, which starred Oliver Reed as a sexually promiscuous but noble priest who becomes undone when a hunchbacked nun, played by Vanessa Redgrave, in a fit of jealousy, stirs up accusations of witchcraft. The sudden freedom to act possessed leads her convent to sacrilegious orgies while Reed becomes a martyr figure, whose perceived fall from grace is exploited by the French government for political gain. The film was heavily edited before release, removing much of its subversive sexual content, and has rarely been seen in its original form. The British Film Institute had finally scheduled a proper DVD release of the film two weeks ago.
Russell is also well-remembered for his films Tommy, a musical based upon The Who’s rock opera, and the sci-fi film Altered States, which starred William Hurt as a scientist whose sensory deprivation experiments lead to wild hallucinations and physical devolution. Critics were frequently divided over Russell’s wildest films, but one of his more muted works (for Russell, at least), a 1969 adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s Women in Love, which earned the director his only Academy Award nomination and his lead lady, Glenda Jackson, to win for Best Actress.
For 1975′s Tommy, Russell asked a question that none had previously dared ponder: what would Jack Nicholson sound like as a singer? By the time the movie was over, moviegoers probably begged to be deaf, dumb and blind.
I’ll cop to having a nut allergy, but I guarantee you there’s somebody who’s at the bull’s eye of this graphic:
Did he attend your Thanksgiving dinner? In any case, how was it?
…I’d like to wish Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from the PJ Lifestyle blog.
By the early 1970s, the myth of the Beatles lay in ruins. Paul and Ringo escaped into the world of light pop, but John and George decamped in polar opposite directions. John’s first two major solo albums each had songs declaring his atheism, with his first declaring ”God is a Concept by which we measure our pain…I don’t believe in Bible…I don’t believe in Jesus,” on his Plastic Ono Band album, recorded during his “Primal Scream” phase, and then with his now legendary anti-hymn to nihilism, “Imagine.”
As Andrew Ferguson writes in the Weekly Standard, George Harrison was exploring a very different route during this period, which ultimately led to All Things Must Pass, his magnum opus three record box set, arguably the best of all of the Beatles’ solo albums:
“He had two personalities,” Ringo says. “One was this bag of [prayer] beads, the other was this big bag of anger.” Yoko Ono seconds that emotion: “He had two aspects,” she says. “Sometimes he was very nice. Sometimes he was [long pause] too honest.” Paul McCartney, coy as ever, says, “He was my mate, so I can’t say too much. But he was a guy, a red-blooded guy, and he liked what guys like.”
Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Say no more.
You have to read the tell-alls, such as the memoir of his first wife Pattie, to get the details about Bad George and his heroic capacity for cocaine, brandy, and adultery. The combination resulted in, among other things, the spectacularly gruesome scene he made in 1973 at a dinner party at Ringo’s house. The party went sour when George stood up to announce that he was sleeping with Ringo’s wife and planned to run away with her. (In the event, he quickly moved on from Mrs. Starr.) Just another potluck with the Starrs and the Harrisons.
Paul Theroux, the travel writer, has for some reason been enlisted to write an introduction to the picture book, and he beats the theme of two Georges like a Ludwig tom-tom: “It is no wonder he was so passionate: he was himself his own wicked twin,” Theroux writes. “He was himself the dark and the light, the flames and the ashes.” If you think that’s overwritten, wait till you watch him wade into the hallucinatory exaggeration we have learned to expect when Baby Boomers write about rock music:
To say that he was one of the great musicians of his time—one of the most innovative guitarists ever, one of the most imaginative songwriters—is to give only part of the story.
Yes, and not even the true part!
One of George Harrison’s most appealing traits was self-awareness. He would have seen (and said) how absurd such talk was. “I was never a real guitarist,” he once told his friend Klaus Voormann. And he wasn’t; he couldn’t launch the fireworks like Eric Clapton or Jeff Beck, and the disciplined technique of Andrés Segovia or Julian Bream never interested him. About his songwriting, he told an interviewer: “There’s no comparison between me and someone who sits and writes music. What I do is really simple.” Right again. He compared himself to a pastry chef, able to combine musical ingredients nicked from others to make a pleasing presentation of songcraft. He made many marvelous records, but as a source of fresh musical ideas, he said, “I’m not really that good.”
You could say the same for pretty much anyone who ever wrote a rock song, which is an extremely forgiving art form, but you can’t imagine anyone else who ever wrote a rock song admitting it.
The Beatles were clearly greater than the sum of their parts, but George Martin must be included as one of the most important components of their success. As solo artists, they very rarely — arguably never — lived up to their greatest moments as a group. And the enormous hero worship by those fans who believed that they personified the zeitgeist of the ’60s didn’t help. Perhaps Paul and Ringo had it right in the first place: escape into “Silly Love Songs” and don’t carry the world upon your shoulder.
Forty years ago today, British rock juggernaut Led Zeppelin released their magnum opus, “Led Zeppelin IV.” Rife with flourishes of haunting folk, gritty blues and rafter-shaking rock of the heaviest order, “IV” swiftly became the band’s defining album, largely thanks to the epic 8 minutes and 2 seconds of the fourth song on the LP, “Stairway to Heaven.” Rock music hasn’t been the same since.
Arguably classic rock’s preeminent ballad, “Stairway to Heaven” is a multi-tiered suite that segues from lilting acoustic delicacy into feral rock ‘n’ roll abandon and back again. It’s inspired legions of aspiring guitarists and spawned droves of ham-fisted imitations, but has never been equalled in its bombastic rock pageantry. Its lyrics are steeped in enigmatic allusions to the conflict between spirituality and earthly materialism, although a few of its verses have left even the most scholarly rock fans scratching their heads. “If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow don’t be alarmed now/It’s just a spring clean for the May queen” (which, when played backwards, delivers a very different message indeed to some ears) is just mysterious enough to sound deeply meaningful, even when sung by a quartet of tight-trousered hellions.
It helps that the opening chords were “borrowed” from an earlier song by the California psychedelic band Spirit, whom Zeppelin had once toured with during their very early days. But as a piece of beautifully recorded pop craftsmanship, there’s a reason why it’s stood up this long. Here it is at Zeppelin’s career peak during their 12-year existence as a working band, their 1975 pull out all the stops extended stay at London’s Earl’s Court:
It’s a remarkably multifaceted song. Anybody can play it!
And it’s the one tune to have if you’re going on a three-hour tour…
Even back on Saturday Night Live, Bill Murray’s always wanted to be taken seriously as an actor; he’s certainly come a long way from his days of playing Nick the Lounge Singer and being hit over the head with a menu by Belusi shooting PEPSI! PEPSI! PEPSI! But will audiences accept him as one of the most famous figures of the 20th century?
He found fame on sketch show Saturday Night Live and is most known his comedic talent in films including Ghostbusters and Groundhog day.
But there is nothing funny about Bill Murray’s latest role, he is portraying American President Franklin D.Roosevelt in Hyde Park On Hudson.
It has been a role taken on by the likes of Hollywood heavyweights Jon Voight, Jason Robards and Kenneth Branagh so Murray,61, certainly has a lot to live up to.
Murray’s latest appointment certainly raised eyebrows throughout tinsel town as the picture is set to mix political wrangling, domestic drama and infidelity, not usually seen as part of the actor’s repertoire.
I’d actually be willing to watch it, just to see if I could suspend disbelief sufficiently during Murray’s performance. Though after the big D-Day scene, I’d still be waiting for Bill to shout “We came, we saw, we kicked Hitler’s ass!”
It’s a pointless speculation, but it might be interesting to wonder just where Joe Frazier would be today without those little run-ins with Muhammad Ali. Well, he’d probably be alive, for one thing. That’s a good theory for starters. Word came Monday that Frazier died of liver cancer at 67. Maybe that would have overtaken him in any event. But anybody who saw any of those three fights, particularly the two horrifying bookends of their heroic trilogy, would not be insulting medical opinion if he guessed Ali somehow had a hand in Frazier’s ultimate mortality.
Those two fights, especially their first meeting in the Garden 40 years ago, and even more especially 1975′s Thrilla in Manila, the fight that essentially ended their careers, were such violent affairs, such protracted examples of desperation, that any seasons lived beyond them have to be considered a kind of boxing gravy. They were not heavyweight title fights so much as near-death experiences, a brutally choreographed and lightly regulated self-destruction, their pride and ambition so inflamed that survival was no longer part of either fighter’s plan.
In a way though, by the time time Frazier and Ali hung up their gloves for good, it was professional boxing itself that would find itself on the ropes. This past summer, Paul Beston dubbed it “The Ghost Sport” in City Journal magazine:
With Tyson’s fall, boxing completed its transformation from central preoccupation to sideshow. For years, the sport had failed to meet the competitive challenge posed by other sports in the television age. Even as the tube brought fights into millions of homes, it hurt attendance at live events. Looking elsewhere for revenue, promoters began to stage most big fights at gambling casinos, a lucrative prospect for those in the money but one that separated the sport from a reliable fan base in major cities.
Yet the fact that TV proved a huge boon for most other sports suggests that we must look elsewhere for the true causes of boxing’s decline—above all, to changing tastes. In the long postwar boom, prosperity and higher living standards created different expectations for leisure and entertainment, as well as more refined attitudes. Boxing’s endemic corruption and scandal wore away its popular appeal and made the sport seem increasingly atavistic. Crooked managers and promoters; rankings of fighters doctored by fraudulent boxing organizations; allegations of fixed fights and bribed referees and judges; foul play in the ring, from illegal substances to doctored gloves; and fighters killed or maimed who shouldn’t have been fighting in the first place—these were among the reasons that the American public stopped taking the sport seriously.
Worst of all, though, were the sport’s effects on the human body. Boxing’s fatality rate is lower than that of horse racing and of some other sports, but its real scourge is not death but debility—particularly, brain damage. Today, the specter of brain trauma hovers over professional, college, and even high school football, posing a potential threat to that sport’s future. But awareness of boxing’s dangers long predates modern research. The image of the punch-drunk, shuffling old fighter goes back to the sport’s early days; researchers conducted studies of trauma in ex-fighters as early as the 1920s.
When the subject of boxing and brain trauma comes up today, the first image in everyone’s mind is that of Muhammad Ali, now 69. Afflicted with Parkinson’s disease, he moves hesitantly, is generally unintelligible, and shakes convulsively across his upper body; his moon-shaped face exhibits the masklike blankness so common to Parkinson’s—and Alzheimer’s—sufferers. Ali’s great ring model, Sugar Ray Robinson, who died in 1989, was afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease in his final years. Like Ali, Robinson fought long beyond the point at which he could protect himself. Boxing’s two most gifted and stylish performers, in their prime the antithesis of the brute fighter, ended up indistinguishable from the broken-down old pugs they were sure they’d never become.
In 1984, the American Medical Association, after years of study, called for a ban on boxing, citing the sport’s object of causing physical harm and the damage its participants clearly suffered to their mental faculties. Since then, other studies have continued to link boxing to severe brain trauma. But the AMA hasn’t been able to build enough momentum to ban boxing—ironically, because not enough people in the U.S. care one way or the other. Revulsion has passed into indifference.
Even as its popularity has ebbed, boxing flickers in the American consciousness. One surprising area in which the sport has made small inroads into American habits is the growth of “white-collar boxing,” in which men and women show up after their day jobs to spar or fight real bouts in a gym. Many health clubs now offer boxing-related fitness programs, as few activities can compete with boxing’s aerobic benefits. Boxing continues to fascinate great writers, as it always has—only baseball has a comparable literary pedigree. And the ring’s elemental sense of conflict has proved endlessly adaptable for filmmakers. The prominence of some recent boxing films, like Million Dollar Baby, Cinderella Man, and The Fighter, is impressive, considering that the many fine boxing films of the past—from Body and Soul, Champion, and The Set-Up to The Harder They Fall, Fat City, and Raging Bull—could count on broader public enthusiasm for the sport.
While boxing will probably never regain its last glorious run in the 1970s, thanks to Frazier, Ali, and a certain rather loquacious television figure, we can always look back at some of the most iconic images — and words of its heyday:
Or as Matt Drudge puts it, linking to this CBS report, “Soothe Criminal:”
Conrad Murray, 58, has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson.
A jury of seven men and five women deliberated for less than two days before convicting Murray in Jackson’s 2009 death.
Jurors had 300 pieces of evidence to consider after listening to 49 witnesses and complex medical testimony during the six-week trial.
Prosecutors argued that Murray acted in a criminally negligent manner after giving Jackson a powerful dose of the anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid.
The defense, however, maintained that Jackson took a deadly dose of propofol when Murray left his bedroom hours before the singer’s death.
Murray, faces up to four years in prison when he’s sentenced on Nov. 29, but Judge Michael Pastor ordered him to be remanded immediately.
Pastor, who said Murray “poses a demonstrable risk to the safety of the public,” ordered him to be held without bond.
Murray will also lose his medical license as the result of his conviction.
Jackson’s death in 2009 was a wall-to-wall media frenzy; our post at the time hit 142 comments in no time flat. As I mentioned shortly afterwards, compare and contrast how the deaths of famous pop musicians were recorded by “the first draft of history” in different eras, and what that coverage says about our culture, both then and now. Compare the intense, Princess Diana-like media frenzy over Jackson’s death, with this surprisingly cold and dispassionate report from ABC News immediately upon Jimi Hendrix’s demise in 1970. As ABC newsman Gregory Jackson drolly began his report, “If you’re much over 30, the odds are you’ve never heard of Jimi Hendrix. Or only dimly, perhaps a loud voice on the car radio.” In contrast, Jackson heralded an era in which everyone seemed to wish to remain in perpetual adolescence until their demise. The Onion’s surprisingly brutal parody headline from 2009, “King Of Pop Dead At 12″ was, in retrospect, spot-on.
Veteran movie critic Pauline Kael transformed the movie industry — and not really for the better — with her championing of films such as Bonnie and Clyde and Last Tango in Paris, but she was also perceptive enough to quickly see through Michael Moore. (Though would she have done so once he became a major institution amongst his fellow one percenters?)
Many of her opinions about films like Shampoo and The Deer Hunter haven’t weathered the test of time; her hyperbolic language doesn’t always take flight. (Does Vanessa Redgrave in the 1977 film Julia really possess “maybe the most expressive huge hand the screen has ever known?”)
Clunkers like that one, however, are negatively instructive in their own right. They remind us that writing is hard, that even a magician like Kael had to work to make it look easy as she does in the masterpieces included here — like her long essays on Citizen Kane and Cary Grant, the one lusciously entitled, “The Man from Dream City.”
What Kael continues to give readers through her selected essays and reviews is her gutsy and still controversial article of faith that criticism should be rooted in emotion. She told us it was not only OK but a prerequisite that a critic be a fan. Awe, in Kael’s view, was a legitimate critical response. Consider her writing voice at the end of her 1982 review of Steven Spielberg’s E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial:
Spielberg has earned the tears that some people in the audience — and not just children — shed. The tears are tokens of gratitude for the spell the picture has put on the audience. Genuinely entrancing movies are almost as rare as extraterrestrial visitors.
Before Kael, no critic worth his whiskey and cigars would be caught dead talking about “tears of gratitude.”
In an excellent 1995 essay that he wrote about Kael for The New York Review of Books, literary critic Louis Menand tells an anecdote about how the eminent public intellectual Dwight Macdonald reviewed Kael’s book I Lost It at the Movies in 1965. In that review, Macdonald asked, in puzzlement, “What did she lose at the movies?” Thanks to Pauline Kael and her liberating legacy, it’s Macdonald’s fussy, over-intellectualized question, not Kael’s erotic confession, that’s the embarrassment.
Actually, we all lost something at the movies thanks to Kael (along with similarly-minded critics of her era): middlebrow culture. Kael loved to champion the sort of pulpy lowbrow culture that Quentin Tarantino has so profitably mined over the last twenty years.
“Of all the many things that make up a wedding, few are more important than the photographs,” the New York Times claims. Gee, I don’t know, I’d say the actual people getting married are slightly more important, but that’s just me. Still though, while photographs are important, one can get a bit carried away when they don’t turn out as well as expected:
Long after the last of the cake has grown stale and the tossed bouquet has wilted, the photos endure, stirring memories and providing vivid proof that the day of one’s dreams took place.
So it is not particularly surprising that one groom, disappointed with his wedding photos, decided to sue. The photographers had missed the last dance and the bouquet toss, the groom, Todd J. Remis of Manhattan, said.
But what is striking, said the studio that took the pictures, is that Mr. Remis’s wedding took place in 2003 and he waited six years to sue. And not only has Mr. Remis demanded to be repaid the $4,100 cost of the photography, he also wants $48,000 to recreate the entire wedding and fly the principals to New York so the celebration can be re-shot by another photographer.
Re-enacting the wedding may pose a particular challenge, the studio pointed out, because the couple divorced and the bride is believed to have moved back to her native Latvia.
Perhaps Mr. Remis could settle for simply recreating the big high school football game.
Back in July, Stephen Kruiser mentioned his experiences with Amazon’s Cloud-based music app, which I began experimenting with right around then as well, but quickly ran into a snag. Most of the music I had ripped over the years was in Windows Media Audio, and the Amazon Cloud player only accepts MP3s and the iTunes-oriented m4a formats.
Recently though, I began to wonder if somebody made batch processing software that could automatically copy the whole hulking lot of WMAs I had already ripped over the years into MP3s. Naturally, there are dozens of choices available online; this piece of shareware came recommended via a decent review, so what the heck. I created a new directory on my hard drive for all the MP3-ed versions of WMA versions of CD versions of classic albums I already had ripped, and then let the computer do its thing.
Something like ten or 11 hours later, during which time I was blogging, went to the gym, went to sleep, and then woke up, it was done (I think it smoked one of Mark Block’s cigarettes afterwards). Then it was time to upload them to the Cloud. That only took another four or five hours, but then my initial 200 or so albums were now in Cloud city.
The Amazon Cloud isn’t perfect; I wish there was more control over album art images and organizing the data once it’s online. But the idea of all of my music being available in my computer browser, on my Android, and in my car is a powerful one.
Ripping all of these tunes to CD, I couldn’t help but think back to my father’s enormous collection of big band records and began to understand better the powerful feeling of nostalgia they conjured up for him. Recorded music is inherently nostalgic; each recording is fixed to a moment in time when it was completed and released to the public. Or in some cases re-released — many of the CDs I was burning to my hard drive came from that first initial rush in the mid-1980s when the CD debuted.
We take the ‘80s for granted, but the compact disc was released during a time that in its own way, was as revolutionary as the birth of the Web a decade later, at least for pop culture. In rapid succession in the early 1980s, cable TV reached critical mass and took off, MTV was born, digital synthesizers started becoming affordable to musicians, well-off musicians could purchase the Fairlight, which could both sample new sounds, and had astonishing presets (just ask Jan Hammer, Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush), and the compact disc was introduced. All in the space of about three or four years. Whoosh! Welcome to 1985, MTV, Miami Vice and the ‘80s as we know them.
Given that it’s the height of mid-seventies camp, involves plenty of outrageous costumes, plenty of music, and one kick-ass band rock band* peaking in the charts, think of the Paul Lynde Halloween Special as the Peter Frampton/Bee Gees Sgt. Pepper movie but with a more charismatic lead. But as James Lileks writes (and definitely click over for the full multimedia autopsy on this craptacular Sid & Marty Krofft-produced train wreck, “everyone thinks they’re living in the WORST cultural period when everything is cheap and false, with the old icons of pop culture chewed up and used just to give a modern moment some gravity it doesn’t deserve. Well, it’s been that way for a while.”
In addition to Paul Lynde and Pinky Tuscadero singing and dancing in front of a pair of Kenworth trucks about the joys of CB radio, imagine the whiplash viewers must have gotten when these musical artists…
…were followed by this one:
Or, maybe not. It was the seventies; we were used to such horrors.
Which would only get worse.
* Aerosmith, of course. Did you think I was referring to the Bee Gees?
What caused Halloween to become a fall holiday on par with Thanksgiving and Christmas? When did the memo go out? A hundred years ago, when I was a young tike growing up in South Jersey, you wore a thin vacuformed polystyrene spaceman mask that attached to your head with an elastic band, and wore your regular clothes under what seemed like a gray Hefty bag with a NASA logo that tied in the back like a hospital gown, which your parents bought for you at the local Woolworth’s for $4.99 or so. You scored a few tiny Hershey or Three Musketeers bars, and your parents worried about you getting an apple with a razor blade or a shot of LSD inside. You watched It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown every year on Channel 10, along with John Facenda’s TV reports about Camden going up in flames annually during the previous night, and worried that the mayhem wasn’t going to spread to your neighborhood. (This New York Times article on Camden and Mischief Night found at the top of a Google search on the topic was published in 1992, but could have ran verbatim for every year prior for a quarter of a century or so.)
And once the candy was gone later that night or the next day, that was about it. Today though, Halloween is a major industry, and plenty of families put as much work into decorating the house for Halloween as they do for Christmas. One of my neighbors has a giant pirate ship in their front lawn for Halloween; others have turned their front lawns into haunted houses and grave yards, with plenty of cobwebs, skeletons, and come the witching hour, lots of smokey dry ice. But not everybody is happy with the rapid growth of the holiday. Or as Mollie Hemingway writes at Ricochet, “Could We Tone Down the Halloween Mania a Smidge?”
My last neighborhood (Capitol Hill, DC) had such dramatic Halloween celebrations that people came in from miles around. One neighbor used to recreate scary movies or videos (e.g. Friday the 13th, Michael Jackson’s Thriller) with actual actors and dancers.
Truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of Halloween. But neither do I forbid my children from taking part. The older one will be a cheeseburger this year, the younger an Octopus. I do forbid any dressing up as anything scary or demonic, but just can’t bring myself to ban a holiday where people give my kids candy and tell them how cute they are.
But I did pause after reading this column from Amity Shlaes, headlined “Halloween’s Pagan Themes Fill West’s Faith Vacuum.” She notes that consumers are expected to spend $6.86 billion on Halloween this fall. Here’s how her piece concludes:
There’s a reason for the pull of the pagan. In the U.S., we’ve been vigorously scrubbing our schools and other public spaces of traces of monotheistic religion for many decades now. Such scrubbing leaves a vacuum. The great self-deception of modern life is that nothing will be pulled into that vacuum. Half a century ago, the psychologist Carl Jung noted the heightened interest in UFOs, and concluded that the paranormal was “modern myth,” a replacement for religion.
Children or adults who today relish every detail of zombie culture or know every bit of wizarding minutiae are seeking something to believe in. That church, mosque and synagogue are so controversial that everyone prefers the paranormal as neutral ground is disconcerting. There’s something unsettling about the education of a child who comfortably enumerates the rules for surviving zombie apocalypse but finds it uncomfortable to enumerate the rules of his grandparents’ faith, if he knows them.
Perhaps when walking down your street this Oct. 31, you’ll see a child in an Aslan costume, or one dressed as Caspian, C.S. Lewis’s prince. The “Narnia” series was Lewis’s premeditated effort to lure kids to Jesus Christ through myth. The manipulative Lewis was on to something: Parents can keep children away from religion, but they can’t stop children from believing in something.
Fans of the orange holiday may want to pause for a moment to look at the empty spaces between its rituals, as with the pumpkin’s smile. Some of us forgo it to dedicate ourselves to one faith or another. But you don’t have to reject Halloween to ask what it may be replacing.
Exactly. It’s worth at least being intentional in how we celebrate this holiday and it’s worth thinking about what we say by how we celebrate it.
So what are your thoughts on Halloween? Do you make a big deal about it? If so, why? What will you — and/or your kids — be trick or treating as?
Me? I’ll probably go out as Mick Jagger. Or at least his CPA.
(Thumbnail on homepage by Shutterstock.com)
“It was a $15 bullet vibe from Babeland, about the most basic sex toy you can imagine. It has now been officially retired, since I have no idea if the TSA agents manhandled it.”
She discovered the note on Sunday after she landed in Dublin, she said. She wrote on her blog, Feministe, that the message was “wildly inappropriate” but she “died laughing” about it in her hotel room.
But she told FoxNews.com in an email Monday evening that she’s transitioning to being “pretty disturbed” by the note. She said these agents are given a lot of authority with little oversight.
She wrote that she suspects “whoever left the note felt comfortable doing so (I also suspect that they believed most women would be embarrassed to be “caught” with personal items and wouldn’t file a complaint),” she wrote in the email. “That is certainly cause for concern.”
TSA said in a statement to FoxNews.com that there is no evidence to suggest one of its agents was behind the note.
Greg Soule, a TSA spokesman, said Filipovic has not filed a complaint about the incident, but the TSA “takes all allegations of inappropriate conduct seriously and is investigating this claim.”
Filipovic said she is not looking to get anyone fired over the incident, but she received a lot of feedback from others with other stories of public humiliation at the hands of TSA. She said she hopes the TSA addresses the larger issue, not just this one case.
Why not? The person who did that should be fired, which would be an excellent first step in addressing the larger issue. (How hard can it be to track down the TSA staffers who would have been on duty at Newark when her bags were inspected and require a handwriting sample?) A rather large lawsuit against the TSA would be a logical second step.
While green screen has become ubiquitous for small (I have one in my garage for my videos), medium (PJTV has one in their L.A. studio) and gigantic productions (films like Sin City and 300), the basic effect that drives the concept dates back almost 80 years, to the early days of the talkies. A couple of years ago, the folks at Videomaker magazine produced a nice clip on the surprisingly long history of blue and green screen effects, going back to special effects wizard Linwood Dunn’s pioneering efforts in the 1930s, all the way to the Matrix and other gigantic green and blue screen spectaculars.
Wanna a whole lotta…well, something?
Stop what you’re doing this instant and check out the above video of comedian and actor Michael Winslow from Police Academy fame doing an amazing rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” using his unique vocal sound effects.
I remember all the amusing and amazing noises he was able to create back in the 80′s, but this musical rendition is simply unreal! We here at The Feed would like to take a moment to give a triple-rainbow salute to your talent, Mr. Winslow.
I saw Jimmy Page live three times in the 1980s (twice with the Firm, once on his solo “Outrider” tour). Winslow — huffing through a Shure microphone — has a better lead guitar tone than Page did back then.
Last month, when I was putting the finishing touches on my post on the classic British Cinesound sound effects library from the 1960s and 1970s, I did a quick Amazon search to include a link to the sound effects from the original 1966 iteration of Star Trek, which you can download as an MP3 collection for use in your own DIY video productions. That was when I came across this:
The Sounds of Star Wars? I had to have it.
Written by J.W. Rinzler, Lucasfilm’s in-house historian, who has previously crafted well-readable guides to the making of each of the Star Wars movies, as the title implies, this edition focuses solely on their sound effects.
While Star Wars quickly became legendary upon its initial 1977 release for revolutionizing visual effects, and phrases such as “Industrial Light & Magic” and “the Dykstraflex” became household words, Star Wars also revolutionized movie audio as well. Building on the pioneering efforts of Walter Murch, who has worked on a number of Francis Ford Coppola’s productions and Lucas’s first two movies to bring the world of the recording studio to movie sound and sound effects, Ben Burtt created a distinct sonic palette for the Star Wars universe. Largely eschewing the sounds that Star Trek and other previous science fiction productions made famous, Burtt armed himself with Nagra recorder and a series of high quality microphones, and ultimately crisscrossed the country to build his own library of organic sound effects. While many of the sounds he captured were ultimately sped-up, slowed-down, and electronically-processed, the Star Wars sonic universe sounded remarkably believable, because it was built on an astonishing variety of real-life sounds.
In his interviews with Rinzler, Burtt recounts the story of how those sounds were captured: how Chewbacca’s voice was based upon growls recorded from a series of bears. How the lightsabers’ hum derives from an old film projector, and how the TIE fighter’s Stuka-like banshee wail was a combination of a slowed down elephant roar and car driving on wet pavement.
You’ll also learn how Burtt created R2D2’s unique voice from a mixture of an ARP 2600 synthesizer and by electronically processing his own voice while making child-like sound effects. As Burtt said, “Artoo had to act with Alec Guinness. So there had to be a certain amount of credibility and performance in order to sustain a conservation with such a terrific actor, who is talking to what looks like a drinking fountain or a wastepaper basket.” And since R2’s physical movements basically consist of turning his head from right to left, the audio has to carry the rest of the load.
Creating the sound of R2 in motion dovetails into a brief mention of Star Wars’ other sound effects man. Just as the James Bond series made John Barry a star while leaving fellow composer Monty Norman in the lurch, in The Sounds of Star Wars, you’ll also learn a bit about Sam Shaw, the first Star Wars movie’s lesser-known other sound man, who, while coming from a more traditional movie industry background than Burtt, used an equally radical approach for one of Star Wars’ signature sound effects. Shaw recorded the motors driving the power windows and power antenna on a Cadillac Eldorado as the basis for the servo motors whenever R2 and C3PO turn their heads or walk.
While 3d computer graphics have been around since at least the 1970s, the rise of the World Wide Web in the 1990s, and especially the rise of Internet video in recent years created a whole new “prosumer” interest in them.
Googling around, it’s easy to find plenty of 3d shots of famous aircraft and spacecraft (both real and imagined). And there are loads of 3d animation walkthroughs of famous architectural works on YouTube. But for me, 3d models, virtual sets, and other digital effects are more interesting when they’re used to tell a story.
I first used virtual sets created by others at the start of 2008, when I began using Serious Magic (later Adobe’s) Ultra 2 program, which had numerous virtual sets created for use with the program. But every once in a while, it’s nice to go on location — if only virtually!
Last year, I watched a tutorial produced for Digital Juice, an online retailer focusing on products for professional and serious amateur video makers, for a product called the Model Bank, by Digimation. The Model Bank features 1,200 3d models, which can be imported into programs such as Model Shop, as well as Adobe’s Photoshop (CS3 Extended and later Extended editions of Photoshop) and After Effects.
From Apollo to Woodstock, Without Ever Leaving My Garage
My recent “1969: The Death of Modernism” video used several 3d models for the scene about 1:30 in, when I went “on location”, first orbiting the earth in an Apollo capsule, and then standing in the fields of Yasgur’s Farm in front of a 1960s VW bus, an old rotary dial TV, and a table for it to sit on.
The Woodstock scene and the interior of the Apollo capsule were both created by placing the Model Bank 3d elements on top of a backdrop in Photoshop. I added the New York license plate and period signage on the VW bus by using the perspective tool in Photoshop to twist the graphics into position. (We’ll discuss how to animate those sorts of objects in a moment.) The Woodstock background was a still photo; the Apollo capsule was simply a gradient plate I created as a layer in Photoshop, and then stuck a couple of sci-fi movie posters and some Digital Juice motion design elements for some animation and a sci-fi flavor.
The seats of the capsule were the F-15 Ejector Seat image from the Model Bank. The program makes it simple — just flip through the Model Bank’s GUI, find a model you want, move it to the folder to be extracted, then insert the disc containing its file into the DVD-ROM drive, and save the file to a folder.
The Model Bank saves them as a .3DS file. From there, it can be imported to Photoshop and saved as an .PSD file, which can then be imported into After Effects, and when moves are programmed via keystroke animation, retains its full three dimensionality. While Model Bank’s catalog program is Windows-only, once the images are extracted and imported into Photoshop, they can be used in both Windows and Apple. To get an idea of how this process works, check out the aforementioned tutorial at the Website of Digital Juice, an online video retailer, which promoted the Model Shop last year. Also, the more RAM and processing horsepower the better for this, and I noted significantly better performance when working with 3d models in the 64-bit edition of After Effects CS5 than the CS4 iteration.
The shot of the Apollo capsule at 1:30 into the video was literally my first attempt at manipulating a Model Bank model in After Effects. For anyone with very rudimentary After Effects chops (and I’m no expert with the program), these should be pretty easy to import and manipulate. The flame blasting out of the Apollo Service Module’s rocket engine, and in the next shot the blasts from the Service Module’s attitude control jets were taken from Digital Juice’s Compositor’s Toolkit Volume one, and animated into place, using the motion tracking controls in After Effects. If you’re new to After Effects, watch this Digital Juice tutorial for some tips on how to accomplish this.
3d Models Open Up New Possibilities To Desktop Videomakers
The 3d models in Model Shop open all sorts of possibilities to the video maker. Virtual sets can be constructed from these elements, as well as material for B-Roll. Existing virtual sets can be fleshed out by using the elements in the Model Bank as props. For example, at the 1:50 mark in the previous “The News They Kept to Themselves” Silicon Graffiti, for my Walter Winchell-style Drudge parody, the library wall behind me is from a Serious Magic Ultra set. But the antique 1930s microphone I’m shouting into is a Model Shop 3d element of a pre-war BBC radio mic carefully lined up and imported as a Photoshop file, and placed on a separate video track above myself in front of a green screen, and overlaid onto the virtual set. (The “mic stand” that appears to hold it up was simply a thick black line drawn in via Photoshop.
The Model Shop is available from Digimation, its manufacturer, and from a variety of Internet retailers. Shop around for the best price, but considering how many 3d models are included in the package, the inventive video or Photoshop maker should get a quite a lot of use out of this package.
(Note: I originally wrote this in June of 2010 for PJM’s Edgelings blog. Since Edgelings is no longer associated with PJM, I’m reposting it here, since the product is still available from its manufacturer.)
Reason’s Katherine Mangu-Ward brings a bit of sorely-needed common sense about food to the arugula-obsessed halls of the Washington Post:
4. People need more information about what they eat.
It’s hard to argue against rules that give consumers more information. Perhaps for that reason, proposals to require restaurants to jam calorie, fat and other nutrition statistics onto already crowded signs and menus pop up over and over — most recently as part of the health-care reform law — despite the fact that virtually all major fast-food chains already provide such information on handouts and online.
Knowing that a chocolate shake at Shake Shack has 740 calories doesn’t stop me — or the first lady— from ordering one occasionally. We’re not alone: Studies consistently find that menu labeling doesn’t result in healthier choices. A recent study from Ghent University in Belgium found that labels made no difference in the consumption patterns of students there, backing up a 2009 New York University study that found no improvement in poor New Yorkers’ eating habits after the introduction of mandatory menu labeling in the Big Apple.
5. There are too many fast-food restaurants in low-income neighborhoods.
In many urban neighborhoods, it’s easier to get permission to open a sex shop than a Taco Bell, thanks to aggressive policies by local zoning boards. But zoning out fast-food restaurants in cities is a lost cause — they are probably already too thick on the ground for new restrictions to alter the culinary mix. The same study that found no effect on diet from increased access to fruits and vegetables also found that proximity to fast-food restaurants had only a small effect, and it was limited to young, low-income men.
In a commentary accompanying the study, Jonathan E. Fielding and Paul A. Simon of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health wrote that “policy efforts to reduce access to [junk food], though politically challenging, will likely have a greater impact on reducing the obesity epidemic than efforts focused solely on increasing access to fresh produce and other healthy options.” “Politically challenging” is code for “virtually impossible.”
And for good reason. Eliminating access to fast food and other junk food means taking away choices, something Americans don’t tend to like, even (or perhaps especially) when it’s for their own good.
And worst of all: imagine there’s no pizza. I couldn’t if I tried: