Tuesday, October 26, 2010

When I Grow Up

Kudos to author Cory Doctorow for figuring out how to make money without using his former publishing house. He operates online and publishes based on demand, and even credits his fans with footnotes. Check out NPR article here.

Monday, October 25, 2010


I recently watched the documentary titled Collapse, directed by Chris Smith (American Movie). The film is largely set around an interview with former LAPD officer and investigative journalist Michael Rupport. Over the course of 80 minutes Rupport leads us back to the future, examining the known information dating back to the 1970s which has helped him predict most of the biggest swings in policy and economics in the past 30 years. Most recently, Rupport was harassed in 2005 for lecturing on an upcoming housing crises and his uncovering of the Pat Tillman killed by friendly fire cover-up. Topic by topic, Rupport matter-of-factly predicts a future in a world of limited resources and a growing population and archaic economic policy (capitalism) that leaves us little option but to face the bull by the horns. He says we have 50 years if we're lucky. This film is definitely worth checking out, as these topics touch every living thing, including our planet.


I've got some footage from this summer's Hon Fest in Hampden, along with interviews with linguists and artists about the "Bawlmer" accent and Baltimore culture. This footage only serves as bits and pieces of a story I'm attempting to tell. Future interviews with additional experts and social icons are lined up. I'm hoping they begin to fill in the gaps. ...so, works in progress.


Well, I've got footage of the confessional tone for an upcoming vignettes piece about rejection. Thus far, I've only got half a dozen interviews so interweaving them isn't as seamless as I hope it'll be after about 20 interviews. Right now it jumps back to the same people too often, not really allowing me to stretch out any themes of rejection. As is, I've got examples that are leading me down the roads of first loves (middle school!), media-age rejection, and father/daughter issues. Future material which dictate which of these will prove the strongest through-line.

Monday, October 18, 2010


I confess, my latest guilty pleasure is South African hip-hop group Die Antwoord ("The Answer")

The group portrays themselves as straight from the ghetto, often doing interviews inside of single wide trailers and bombed out slums. Their music features hits such as "Rich Bitch" and "Jou Ma Se Poes in 'n Fishpaste Jar" (your mother's vagina in a fishpaste jar). The music is part nerd, part underdog, and part ghetto pride. But their gutter image has been under fire lately as listeners learn about their past alter egos that are less than tough. For those that don't mind KISS in makeup or most rappers pretending to be hard for the sake of selling records, you can get over the individual behind closed doors and enjoy the entertaining persona on stage. I agree with this article, "I’m sure for some reason everyone would have liked it better if they were actually borderline mentally-retarded Poor Children from Ghettos covered in Generic Cheetoes Dust and Meth Crumbs or whatever, but none of these new revelations makes what they are doing any less great."

DA rap in English and Afrikaan, making the music both accessible yet culturally unique to South Africa. The group tried borrowing from American hip-hop for years before they decided to draw instead from locale flavors. They come forward, all fists and teeth, rapping about South African ghettos, relying colloquial terms like "zef" (hip, fresh, S. African style). Though front man Ninja looks like a poor man's Vanilla Ice but his lyrics are catchier and he's got better flow, even if his material is often juvenile, referring to video games and fantasy worlds. The groups first single, "Enter the Ninja," lays the ground work for what to expect:

I'm a ninja, yo
My life is like a video game
I maintain when I'm in the zone
One player, one life, I'm on the mic, limited time, yo Ninja go!

If you listen to this song twice, the falsetto chorus sang by Yo-Landi Visser will stick in your head for days, for better or for worse.

Aii Aii Ai
I am your butterfly
I need your protection
I need my samurai
Aii Aii Ai
I need your protection
Need your protection

DA has recently hit the US via festivals such as Virgin Mobile. They'll be in DC on 10/27 at the 930 Club. If you're curious, here's a good introduction to the group:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Grown Up Choices

Sports are often dangerous. Especially if you're driving 200 mph, running full speed and tackling someone headfirst or even running the Baltimore Marathon this past weekend. This Saturday, a player from the Rutgers football team left the game paralyzed from the neck down. This sort of injury happens in football. And in worse cases, deaths occur. In fact, from 2000 to 2005, 28 football players died from direct injuries and another 68 died indirectly from causes such as dehydration. In the past ten years there has been an awareness movement by the NFL's players union that is attempting to bring light and gain benefits for players whose bodies endured the heavy toll of such a physical sport. Brain damage is at the forefront of the safety issues. I mention this because I'm a fan of Mixed Martial Arts, a sport that is still fighting to be legalized in some states such as New York due to safety issues. The perception is that the sport is brutal. The sport was rough around the edges during it's inaugural years but since then it has been regulated by the same state athletic commissions that regulate every other sport. Misnomers about killing opponents as a method for victory are believed as widely as people believed that death panels were a part of recent health reform. Public ignorance, whether it is over sports, politics, or human rights is a pet peeve of mine. You too?

Get the facts straight. Johns Hopkins and other neutral entities have found that MMA has a safety record that is consistent or better than most contact sports that are part of american culture. The truth is it is a regulated sport with less damage to the head than boxing or football and so on. It's true, there have been 2 deaths in MMA. That's 2 in the history of the sport, unlike the 96 that occurred in football during a five year span. In order to utilize grappling, fighters do wear smaller gloves than boxers. That leads to more broken hands than boxing. But I'd rather have a few screws in my hand than a few loose in my head.

So while the New York Times and others ignorantly bash what they aren't familiar with, the public's support of the sport is growing. It is strange that wrestling, boxing, karate, jujitsu, and grappling are acceptable - unless you do them all at once. Then it's bad. You can punch someone in the face. You can wrestle them to the ground. But don't dare punch someone and then wrestle them to the ground. That's uncivilized.

Ultimately, this is a generational thing. Given time, the public will be educated. Once educated, a person can choose whether or not to like something like anything else. Not, say for example, hate the Muslim faith because of the few that gave it a bad name. I personally am not in a hurry to ride a BMX bike, get tackled by Ray Lewis or get punched in the face by Mike Tyson. But for those that choose to, go for it. The hypocritical nature of accepting boxing or rugby but not MMA makes about as much sense as accepting alcohol and cigarettes but not marijuana. In the long run, quarterbacks might limp around in their later years and smokers might find themselves on the wrong end of cancer. I say as long as we accept war, loud music, sky diving, rock climbing, horse riding, white water rafting, cave diving, bull riding, motorcycling, surfing, downhill skiing or getting punched in a square ring, we might as well allow getting punched while in an octagon. I would rather live in a world with dodge ball and happy hour than in a bubble.

Giant Personalities

It's October. That means I've started to pay attention to baseball because the playoffs are underway. In the American league I'm rooting for the Texas Rangers.
Because they're not the Yankees.

In the National league I'm hoping the San Francisco Giants beat the Philadelphia Phillies. Why? Two of their pitching aces have personalities. They're straight up characters. Tim Lincecum, who has won that past two Cy Young awards, led the National League in Strikeouts again this season. The Giants' relief pitcher, Brian Wilson, led the Majors in Saves. When not dominating from the pitcher's mound, Lincecum is getting busted for possession of marijuana and Wilson is perceived as crazy. And neither of these guys has done much to market themselves as squeaky clean or sane. And I like that. I'm also a fan b/c Wilson's beard looks no more real than a fake beard on SNL. Watching him pitch is hilarious. I keep waiting for that beard to fall off.

Way back when, I was a pitcher. An eccentric one at that. Pitching is as much a mind game as it is athleticism. Getting into people's heads before they step up to the plate is invaluable. Then again, maybe I like these guys because baseball is, let's face it, kind of boring. And these guys are the closest thing we've got to Bad News Bears underdogs or Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn from the movie Major League.