Saturday, September 19, 2009

Announcing launch of new BLOG!

Just what the world needs. Yeah. But, I couldn't resist. At least this one has a focus. The name of this new Web Log from the offices of the Feltonian Institute is 'Author Appearance'. First I wanted to name it 'Writers Reading', but that name was taken. Basically this new blog will be a forum for me to post videos I've recorded of authors readings. I've got access to a constant stream of content in my role as bookseller at The Regulator Bookshop, and I've been recording some readings for a while, so now it's high time I at least gave these videos a chance at being shared with some folks who might enjoy them. And since it's a blog, I'd be remiss if I didn't try to entice with tasty links, so I'll be trying to steer folks towards other content, video and otherwise, dealing with authors and books. Right now all the video to be posted is from The Regulator, but hopefully I'll eventually be casting a wider net and visiting some other bookshops to record their author appearances. Cheers.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Details, details

The name of the movie I'm raving about below is "Stephanie Daley". I missed it completely in 2007. But it is available on DVD now. Thank you Margaret for the pertinent question. Cheers.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Finding a good movie when you least expect it

Last night the football game I was interested in was a blow-out. So, after having cooked a big meal, and having had my fill, I flipped channels. I paused on Tilda Swinton's face. Then I couldn't break away from the movie. Even though it was on Lifetime (nothing against Lifetime per se, but it isn't the television channel where I end up watching movies most frequently, that's for sure) and it was showing with bleeped words and who knows what other censoring or editing or re-formatting, and with commercials, I couldn't stop watching the movie. I happened upon it at the beginning, and I stayed until the end. I stayed up 'til almost 2am watching it. I'm amazed it got shown on Lifetime. I mean the story fits their programming certainly, that I can see. But the construction of the film is so far from what I expected that I'm amazed it made it onto the list for Lifetime. Congrats to director/writer Hilary Brougher, as well as cinematographer David R. Morrison, and editor Keith Reamer, and perhaps most importantly (although they all did great work IMHO) the whole sound department, because the soundscape of the film is truly amazing. This film reminds me more of European styles than U.S. but certainly bears the marks of people certainly much more aware of both than am I. I'm definitely going to go rent this (maybe even buy it) so I can see it straight through, as intended. It could so easily have been done so badly, that I am still amazed at how Brougher handled the story. I knew Tilda Swinton was great, and this gave more confirmation of that, but now I have several more film names to watch for, especially Brougher. Whoever you are, if you dig filmmaking and like to see movies that probably came and went from the theaters so fast you missed it, or they never made it to your town in the first place, because they don't play so much by Hollywood conventions, then rush out and find a copy of this excellent film.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Ukuleles, Comics, & Videos! Oh My!

Wow, my fourth post of 2008. Chapel Hill Comics on Franklin St. is a great independent retail shop and they moved into a great new space next to Ham's and across from the Franklin Hotel on Franklin St in Chapel Hill, NC. I showed up to the party with my video camera and caught on tape a live performance by my friends' band, THE HIGH DOLLAR HOT DOGS. Check it out.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Bo Diddley is dead. Long live Bo Diddley.

Once upon a time in a small town just off a long highway, in a basement of a rental cinder-block house up on a ridge in the hilly hamlet, I played Bo Diddley songs with my friends. We weren't much as a band but we had some good fun in that basement, beating out our primitive covers of Bo Diddley's drivin' rockin' 'n rollin' rhythms. The band didn't last long, and we didn't learn but a few songs. But sometimes we got in the groove, and those Bo Diddley rhythms picked us all up and blew us all away like Dorothy and Toto up in the twister, off to a land of pure delight and desire and dancing and just getting down deep in the joy of making this noise together for a few fast minutes.
I remember those moments well and fondly now for they feel far far away. I still see all those folks sometimes but things aren't like they used to be. I dare say we will never again all be in a room together, beating out a rhythm and kicking up our own little tornado of rock 'n roll love between us. Because things change and on down the long highway we all move on, but no matter where or when, when I hear that ol' Bo Diddley beat coming through the ether I will tap my feet, remembering how I shook the maracas and shuffled my feet to the music. As I danced on the concrete floor of that basement, surrounded by my friends banging away on their instruments, I was moving to the beat of one of the gods of rock 'n roll. I want to thank him for bringing his particular joy to the guitar and thus the world, and for giving this non-musician wanna-be rock 'n roller white boy a taste many years later of what it is to get rock 'n roll deep in your soul as the vibrations and rhythms surround you and carry you away for a few fast minutes, no matter where you are, where you've been, or where you're going.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Pro baker, great cook, & friend o' mine's new food blog

Cathy Cleary, a good friend of mine from college days at UNC-Greensboro who now lives in Asheville and is an owner/operator of a great bakery (West End Bakery, that's Cathy in the second picture from top pulling bread out of the oven & her co-owner Krista is at the register in the photo at top; also see Cathy further down icing the cinnamon rolls which are the best I've ever put in my mouth; everyone should visit them and the other cool small shops on Haywood Road when next in Asheville) in the West Asheville neighborhood she and her husband Reid call home, has given up non-local food for lent, and she is blogging about her experiences here. Check it out for some eating-local inspiration. Be warned, it will make your mouth water. Bon appetit!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Errol Morris always blowin' my mind...

I first encountered Errol Morris when I was a video store clerk at the late lamented Durham Carolina Theatre Video Store. I've tried with reasonable success to keep tabs on his career over the years, always to my great pleasure. Tonight I discovered that he is blogging at The New York Times. My god, his blog is overwhelmingly amazing. I mean really folks, he blows my mind with his mind. I only began to read one post and had to stop because I was about to be reading his blog for hours if I didn't break away. I will return, ASAP & AOAP, when I have a little more focus and time to spend. If you want to dive in to the deep end with Mr. Morris I can heartily recommend starting here. After going down the rabbit hole @ his NYT blog, go check out his personal website, where you can watch some of the best commercials you've ever seen but didn't know were directed by one of the world's greatest living film directors, and plenty that you've probably never seen, and much more beyond. If you haven't seen his films do yourself a favor and make arrangements to as soon as possible.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Surfin' past my bedtime

I am so close to finishing my undergraduate college degree, at long last. I started in 1989, left for a year, went back, bailed out again at the last moment, stayed gone ten years, then went back for a third try, now after 6 semesters, the last 2 full-time while working 32 hours between Friday and Sunday, I find myself with just a handful of days left and much more work to do... but damn if I'm not feeling less motivation than a slug looking for a beer.
Instead of working on a paper, I've been distracting myself with surfing. I think I have fallen hard for a new web radio social sharing thing called I have enjoyed Pandora some at work, but for whatever reason never at home. Next time you're surfing and want to put on the headphones and listen to a commercial free mix which you can customize, give a try. If you like female chanteuses then check out Keren Ann at, and then run out and buy one of her cds.
I fell in love with her album NOLITA last year. Since right now basically all my music is in storage, I was very happy to hook up with, find her radio station, and get to hear some of her other stuff. I had kind of forgotten about her, since I haven't had access to her cd in some time. She is fantastic. She sings in French and English. I'm not sure there is anything sexier than a woman singing in French... well... I could maybe think of a couple of things... but it's way up there...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ross McElwee is the man!

I love me some Ross McElwee! Hell yeah. Thus, I'm pissed that I didn't get to see him receive a Career Achievement award at the Full Frame documentary film festival happening right here in good old Durham. Full Frame was celebrating its 10th anniversary. Wow. Ten years. What a trip.

I was working part time at The Carolina Theatre when the festival began its life as the Doubletake documentary film festival. I discovered McElwee's films while working at the dearly departed Carolina Theatre Video store. I fell in love with his personal narrative verite style the first time I saw 'Sherman's March'.

I've fantasized of making a documentary of my own all about how I love McElwee and about how our lives have intersected in small contingent ways. Such as: I was dating a woman who worked for the original iteration of Doubletake magazine at the time of the first Doubletake Documentary festival. Leading up to the first festival there was a fundraiser shindig of some sort at the NC Museum of Art. My girlfriend Rebecca asked if I might want to go. Remembering it now I'm not even sure if she was going to be there herself. Maybe I used her ticket or something. I don't remember her being there. Probably I've simply forgotten because I became so starstruck at being in the same physical space as Ross McElwee. So there I was, a part-time video store clerk and projectionist at the Carolina Theatre who lived with his Grandmom in Durham, all dolled up in my best bow tie and my deceased rich uncle's camel hair sweater, trying to look like I belonged amongst the glitterati and cognoscenti such as they were that night, but mainly trying to disappear as much as possible.

I was hugging a wall and clutching a drink and trying to be as unnoticeable as possible. (Trying to remember this all now I think that Ross was showing a piece of a work in progress and that was the reason I went in the first place. I think he showed some of the footage which would later become 'Bright Leaves'. At this point in the evening I had seen the sneak preview and was just hanging out for free drink & food and the chance to 'hang' with Ross for a while.) I didn't do a good enough job of keeping a low profile. All of a sudden a local TV news crew was in my face and I was giving an interview about what I thought of Doubletake and Ross. I couldn't believe they picked me. Just minutes before I had been watching them interview McElwee himself. On the news later that night I made the cut and contributed some banal soundbite to the story. I want to say that it might have even been edited so that I appeared immediately after Ross in the piece.

So, yeah, that happened. And I have that news broadcast on a VHS tape somewhere. I think I labeled the tape 'ME & MCELWEE'. Ever since then that has been my pet name for my fantasy documentary. Over the years I've added a handful of other little stories which would go into the documentary. Me and McElwee just seem to have some weird wavelength thing going on. Just tonight I was thinking about composing a blog post congratulating him on his well deserved award, when I stopped by my ex-girlfriend's excellent blog, 'My Little Radio Show', and lo and behold she had been blogging about McElwee. She is a big documentary fan and she had gotten to see him at the festival. Unfortunately she screwed up her ankle, tore a ligament and took some bone off with it, when she stumbled on some steps at the Theatre, but she did get to see Ross. Not only did she get to see him accept his award, but she caught him napping in the Marriot lobby. She wanted to get a picture of him asleep but she didn't because her phone photo function is still a mystery. That would have been hilarious if she had got that photo. That would have definitely gone in my documentary. But Charlotte already had secured a place in the documentary (even if it only ever gets made in my head) because she was responsible for me introducing myself to him one evening a couple of years back.
He was in town to show 'Bright Leaves' at The Carolina (where else) and I dragged my friend Margaret out to the screening. We ran into Charlotte afterwards and the three of us walked over to dearly departed Jo & Joe's to have a beer. Fifteen minutes later, in walked McElwee with some folks from the Center For Documentary Studies. We three were sitting directly across from the bar and McElwee and company came to the bar to order drinks. It was basically us and them in the bar and Ross was standing directly behind me at this point. At Charlotte's urging (she had no doubt been listening to me gush about how I loved McElwee's films) I got up my gumption and turned around and tapped him on the shoulder and introduced myself and told him I was a big fan and I might have thanked him for coming down to Durham to screen Bright Leaves, for it was the first time I had had the pleasure of seeing his work on the big screen rather than the small. He was nothing but friendly and gracious. He thanked us for coming out to see the movie. I turned back to my beer thankful that Charlotte had been there to give me that little push when I needed it.

If I ever make that documentary all y'all are all invited to the premier. If there's any justice it will be at the Carolina...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Discipline of imperfection

One problem I have with this type of instant publishing is that errors of multiple sorts creep in. I get all crazy about little things like having misspelled 'weird' in my response to my friend Joe's response on the previous post. I have words that in typing and writing by hand I often invert the letters of. Words with e before i seem to give me particular trouble. Oh, well, this instant publishing can perhaps teach me to relax my perfectionism on that front a little. I think I have posted before about this sort of perfectionism as a block against writing. I've wrestled with procrastination most of my life, and the other day I was reading something which discussed links between perfectionism and procrastination. In my experience that is spot on. I want something to be perfect, I know there is about a 99% certainty that it won't meet my desire for 'perfection', so I put off doing it at all. In this world of weird logic it is better not to have done a thing than to have done it imperfectly. I think it better (for me at least) to try and develop an approach where it is better to have done many different things, some which will stink, some which will smell fine, and some, if we're lucky, which will approach in some small way the natural beauty of a flower in bloom. I think of cooking. For years I barely cooked at all because I was such a perfectionist about it. I would try to follow a recipe, then I would freak out because I didn't have the tool they told me to use, or I had bought tartar sauce instead of cream of tartar, so I would throw up my hands, throw my disaster in the trash, and eat a bowl of cereal. Nothing wrong with eating cereal, but why did I feel that every time I tried to cook I needed to create a perfect dish? Now, I still don't cook a whole lot. But I like cooking and am able to roll with the inherent imperfections a little better. I'm a little more experienced and a little more patient with my self. I realize the value in doing things imperfectly over not doing them at all. Of course perfectionism is not all bad. I think it can help us people persist in some rather quixotic pursuits which we absolutely won't do unless perfect to our imagination. And if we can achieve the 'perfect' results we desired then we just might have made something whose 'rightness' will be a balm to us and perhaps even a joy to some other who shares the sense of the things 'perfection' and marvels at the obdurate effort of the creator to bring forth such a thing and then is maybe inspired to try and create something 'perfect' according to their lights... So, it is good to have a light touch when it comes to perfectionism. Don't hold on too tight or it might turn into a weapon which you are using against yourself, but don't let go completely because you may be able to do beautiful work with it if you can learn to use it well. Now, quick before I delete this post because I don't think it is 'perfect', I'm not going to reread it, and I'm not going to correct anything after it is posted, I'm just going to... hit.. the.. publish.. button.. now...