Friday, June 30, 2006

Truth and Science

Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth; a documentary about the truth and, well... truth of global warming, is a lovely platform for the geeky, earnest politician/science professor. Who knew a slide show could be so darn compelling?! I think Gore finally found a way to run for president on his terms. Cool.

Scientists and such seems to be on the radar today. Here are some quotes from Baltimore's sublime Urbanite Magazine

If you haven't found something strange during the day, it hasn't been much of a day.

-John Archibald Wheeler, American theoretical physicist

Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas

-Marie Curie, Polish chemist, pioneer in the field of radiology and two-time Nobel Prize winner

It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value.

-Arthur C. Clarke, British author and inventor

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Hope, Fear and... Faith??

-With Enron behind us (kinda, sorta), some encouraging news about how one might choose to handle one's fortunes. Second richest man in the world Warren Buffet said earlier this week that he doesn't believe in dynastic wealth so he's giving over the bulk of his fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation will use the money to fight AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

The other charities that Mr. Buffett will divide about $6 billion in stock among are the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, which emphasizes family planning, abortion rights and anti-nuclear proliferation issues; the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, which focuses on environmental and conservation issues; the Susan A. Buffett Foundation, which supports educational opportunities for low-income children; and the NoVo Foundation, which has focused on education and human rights.

-On a more puzzling note we've got war going on, a multitude of education/race/gender/class issues pulling at the country, does the US Congress really have time to wrangle over a constitutional amendment to ban flag-burning? How many flags did you burn this week?? Hmmm??! This headline nearly made me spontaneously combust:

Flag Amendment Narrowly Fails in Senate Vote

-And then there's both good and bad news in the ongoing debate over ordaining gay bishops in the Anglican Church -the Archibishop of Canterbury said it's not a good idea. That leaves some tough decisions for Episcopal Church, the Communion's American province. What drama will ensue??

Monday, June 26, 2006

Pod People

On my way to a podcasting seminar at American University this weekend - so thot I would brush up on the true banality of associated terms.

Podcasting is the method of distributing multimedia files, such as audio programs or music videos, over the Internet using either the RSS or Atom syndication formats, for playback on mobile devices and personal computers.

The term podcast, like 'radio', can mean both the content and the method of delivery. The host or author of a podcast is often called a podcaster. Podcasters' web sites may also offer direct download or streaming of their files; a podcast however is distinguished by its ability to be downloaded automatically using software capable of reading RSS or Atom feeds.

Usually a podcast features one type of 'show', with new episodes released either sporadically or at planned intervals such as daily or weekly. In addition, there are podcast networks that feature multiple shows on the same feed.

The publish/subscribe model of podcasting is a version of push technology, in that the information provider chooses which files to offer in a feed and the subscriber chooses among available feed channels. While the user is not "pulling" individual files from the Web, there is a strong "pull" aspect in that the receiver is free to subscribe to (or unsubscribe from) a vast array of channels. Earlier Internet "push" services (e.g., PointCast) allowed a much more limited selection of content.

Podcasting is an automatic mechanism by which multimedia computer files are transferred from a server to a client, which pulls down XML files containing the Internet addresses of the media files. In general, these files contain audio or video, but also could be images, text, PDF, or any file type.

A podcast is generally analogous to a recorded television or radio series.

BTW: the photo posted of Serena Williams in chaps has nothing to do with the content, but this stuff is so boring, I thought I should throw it in for fun.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Something Old Something New

Frustrating NYTimes article today asking the questions I've been pondering lots lately in the piece called "Waiting for Dough on the Web".

Reporter Richard Siklos says he periodically asks tv executives, "Who do you think has this internet thing figured out?" and then goes on to reveal those execs are at Fox, Time Warner, Walt Disney, Viacom, the Washington Post and of course The New York Times.

Hardly surprising given that he interviews the Usual Suspects that he gets essentially a lot of "beats me" responses. I think this is the problem with the Same Ole media companies... I don't sense they are able to imagine the questions, much less post the answers.

Perhaps I overstate, but I think not. After all, I come from the tradition of the Usual Suspects and I feel slightly clueless about this stuff. Admitting I have a wall here is the biggest step... perhaps my brick and mortar brain will begin to become a bit more fluid around this topic.

Investigation to follow. Forgive my same ole tv jargon, but stay tuned.

On another note - as far as what the future holds, check out this astounding Star Wars laser saber battle short which was shot, choreographed and edited by high school students. All the more reason to get busy. Gosh, I hear the pitter patter of little producer/directors!

Have you ever seen the rolling fighting scenario before???!! Terrific.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Yellow Box

To use the apt exclamation of my understated niece Makayla: "Whoa." Fabu Fotog Tyrone Turner debuts his first full-blown National Geographic commission in July with a gorgeous photo gallery on America's Coasts in Crisis. This pic is part of the Yellow Box online extras.

Tyrone is from New Orleans and did a Geographic story a few years back on the Louisiana Wetlands. He was back in the 'hood shooting this story when Katrina hit and his knowledge and photo archive of the area were invaluable to telling that devastating story. He even made a Nightline appearance talking about his Huck Finn boyhood on the levees sporting the 7 stitches he received when he failed to Hang 10 while shooting on the West Coast.

I've had the priviledge over the past 2 decades of watching this talented photographer grow and change and challenge himself and those around him, all the while keeping a firm grip on his integrity and his sense of humor. Congratulations you IWS.

Coasts Feature Story:

Photo Gallery:

Wetlands Story:

One of my favorite Tyrone fotos:

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Long Summer Daze

Love the longest and perhaps most bittersweet day of Summer Solstice.

Embracing extended hours yet sad because tomorrow there will be less magical evening . Feels like something is over before the fun begins.

National Geographic describes Solstice Ceremonies. Native Americans celebrate the day as a time for renewal, sacred ceremonies where they pray for healing medicines, good crops, good harvest.

"It's a very significant day for us," said Jim Compton, also known as The Rising Day in Ojibwa.

Mr. Porteno agrees... he has perhaps a more typical South/Native American take on the day, "Just enjoy."

Summer daze photo by Mr. Porteno

Monday, June 19, 2006

Yum Yum Chips and Films

Pal Sarah Cohen may be President of one of the smallest potato chip factories in the United States, but it’s probably one with the biggest attitude.

Esquire magazine voted Rt. 11 one of America’s 8 best potato chips and with flavors like Dill Pickle, Chesapeake Crab and Yukon Gold, Sarah has moved her hip chips throughout the US and all over the world, including some grateful warzone clients in Iraq.

She's located in Middletown, VA in the Shenandoah Valley and on Saturday launched a new flavor of chip; Sweet Potato with Cinnamon and Sugar. Thanks to Sarah for a great launch party with bands you could dance to and chips, chips everywhere. You can stop by and watch the little chippies being made at her factory on... Rt.11.

Sarah is also a talented filmmaker - consider yourself lucky if you have a chance to view her award-winning ode-to-food “Oysters Guanaca”.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Making Her Mark

Susie Finsen (center) making her mark with a gaggle of adoring fans including Mama Finsen (in blue) at last weekend's artist reception at The Art League Gallery. Photo courtesy Mr. Porteno

Artsy pal Susan Finsen (Susie to some lucky few!) is featured this month in a much-deserved Art League solo show entitled Making My Mark.

Lovely, lively and luscious abstract art. I loved checking out her paintings amid the THRONGS of people who attended her artists reception last Sunday. Hopefully you can make your way over to Old Town Alexandria before the show closes on July 2. Susie is one of the longest standing artist tenants of the Torpedo Factory so if you miss the show - you check out her work in Studio 25.

The Art League Gallery is located in the Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 North Union Street, Alexandria VA. The Gallery phone number is 703-683-1780. Gallery hours are Monday-Saturday 10-5; Sunday 12-5.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Oh, Those PorteÑos!

Great NYTims shot of Argentina players blocking Ivory Coast free kick last Saturday. Final score: Argentina 2, Ivory Coast 1.

Not Just From Alabama Anymore

I am interested in applying the emerging use of the internet in political campaigns to distributing documentaries and other video...

NYTims Adam Cohen reports from the Daily Kos blogger convention held in Las Vegas that 2008 will be the campaign of internet-powered politics. He talks of the sea change that brings - handing issues, fundraising and power to a grass-roots network of bloggers who are trying to figure out how to herd the cats called the internet.

One 15-year-old conventioneer from rural Alabama made a big splash with her homemade video skewering the Bush Administration (Ava Lowery's video).

One day, Cohen says, there could be a Daily Kos television station staffed by volunteer bloggers and sent out over the Internet as streaming video, going up against Fox News. On Election Day 2008, voters could get video clips on their laptops and cellphones from Beyoncé, Bruce Springsteen or the Dixie Chicks — targeted by geography or demographics — urging them to vote, and telling them where to do it.

Whatever. How does one promote and distribute production in general? And how does the cash flow?? The sea change is here - I'm just a bit caught in the waves at the moment.

Friday, June 09, 2006

My Blog, My Dog

Super Mona action photos by Mr. Porteño

"When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece."

-John Ruskin

Schooling Baltimore Street

I am always searching for good examples of media mentoring organizations. I believe I found one last night when I attended the Wide Angle Media premiere of a 15-minute student film called Schooling Baltimore Street at the University of Baltimore.

2 student filmmakers Kyle Halle-Erby and Lendl Tellington spent the last year following youth-led organizing for education equity in Baltimore's public schools Demonstrations by an interviews with members of the Baltimore Algebra Project provide the basis for the film. It's an exploration of the motivations and effects of youth activism.

The theater was packed with a multi-racial, multi-generational audience. Organizers did a good job of pre-production on the event and the energy was high with viewers rooting for the young artists.

After the event, an impressive panel:

-Lee Boot, filmmaker, media artist and associate director of University of Maryland Baltimore County Imaging Research Center

-Edward Burns, producer and co-creator of HBO's The Wire and Homide, Life on the Street

-Joyce J. Scott, visual and performing artist who has lectured, performed and exhibited internationally

-Anthony McCarthy, moderator, journalist and public policy advocate

A few of the comments:

Kyle Halle-Erby: What the film did for me is what of the students we interviewed said... I always knew I was smart, but I was not aware. Being aware is a really different state of being.

(Q. Is this type of documentary film art?)

Lee Boot: I believe in media as an artform. The fine art community and I are currently filing separation papers. That community has sequestered itself culturally.

Joyce J. Scott: This evening is definitely an example of art. Now young people are able to express themselves in the first person. Soon they are going to be composing entire symphonies on their telephones. They are speaking to each other across all boundaries.

Lee: We love when our kids read books. What is it about that? Eventually we will see that this book thing was just a blip alone the timeline of our human experience. These students are speaking a contemporary language that is not yet reflected in mainstream society. Video and film are not toxic waste.

Joyce: Those ideas will change. We will croak. This is the first language of kids your age.

Kyle: I look at video production as team sports for people who can't play sports. We are the first generation with these types of options.

(Q. We want to call this art, but production like Homicide and like The Wire portray Baltimore in a bad light - is that art? Some people feel it is bad for the image of the city.)

Ed Burns: What I see here tonight is raw, it is alive, it is a statement. It is like a snow fell on the city of Baltimore 40 years ago and we all fell asleep. It is so bad out there, it is criminal. That is the magic of bringing the message home. Good people educate each other. You put this type of thing out there and and it is not yours, it is not mine anymore. It is the viewer's.

Lendl Tellington: One thing I learned from this is that I felt my peers were taking a chance and able to making a change.

Kyle: What I took away from this is that people care. If you want to make a change, there is an audience for it. There is a way to do it. This project took me beyond caring for myself.

What I believe is that the kids in the Algebra Project and the City of Baltimore are on the same side. They are just not playing well together.

Monday, June 05, 2006

She Source

...The online database of women experts to be used as a resource for journalists.

A not so surprising statistic:

Of the 3 major broadcast networks 87 percent of soundbites are provided by men.

This website aims to foster more represetative public discourse.

It is an offshoot of the very impressive White House Project which works to advance a diverse, critical mass of women into leadership positions, up to and including the U.S. Presidency.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Thanks to Magic Lantern Theater...

... for a great event on Friday night. What a responsive audience. And quite attractive!

Also check out my pal Ray Farkas' website I once had an executive producer literally run screaming from the room when I mentioned that I felt Ray was one of the few truly original Director/Producers around. "Artifice! Artifice! Ray Farkas is pure Artifice!!!" he exclaimed on the way out the door. Hmmm.. hardly! Farkas is uncompromising which perhaps why he makes EP types a little nervous. This is a guy who directed a four camera shoot of his own brain surgery from the operating table.

Make sure you take a look at Interviews 50 Cents - a series he did with Alex Chadwick of NPR. Humbling in its humanity and in capturing what's real.