Friday, July 30, 2010

Anderton Leaf Photography

If you're reading this blog then there's a better than average chance you'll be excited to learn that my wife Ash and I have a photography business. Would you like to know more?


I would also encourage you to click here and "like" our Facebook page, which will allow you to receive updates including selections from our latest shoots.

Friday, July 23, 2010

David Rees's Artisanal Pencil Sharpening

[Editor's note: It is super-duper hard to write an entire piece about a pencil sharpening business without devolving into puns. Any usage is inevitable and completely unintentional.]

Political cartoonist David Rees had already been high in the running for the Award for Funniest People Alive in Rob's Opinion when he masterminded the brilliant "Get Your War On" during the reign of W. His latest brain child may have just put him over the top of that most-prestigious (in my apartment) heap.
Rees is now offering a service he's calling "Artisanal Pencil Sharpening", a service for which he charges $12.50 per pencil.

Via the site:

"REACQUAINT YOURSELF WITH THE PLEASURES OF A HAND-SHARPENED PENCIL. In New York's Hudson River Valley, craftsman David Rees still practices the age-old art of manual pencil sharpening. His artisanal service is perfect for artists, writers, and standardized test takers. Shipped with their shavings and a "certificate of sharpening," these extra-sharp pencils make wonderful gifts.

Traditionally people mail in their pencils to be sharpened; however David now offers a new service: He will provide the pencil.

Rees has now undertaken a Facebook campaign in support of his appearing on the David Letterman Show for a live pencil sharpening demonstration. I just became the 132nd person to "like" this. I suggest you become the 133rd.
I hope he makes gobs of money from this and I suspect he will too. It's just genius enough to work. My prediction: a glut of imitators when this thing goes crazy as I suspect it will. In college, my best friend Cha was evangelical about "Get Your War On" and introduced me to Rees' comic stylings. I know we aren't the only ones. I don't have any hard and fast data to support this, but my hunch is that he's got mad support amongst white liberal males.
"Just because something makes you smile or laugh ... doesn't mean it's a joke," quotes Rees, and he's right. At its core this isn't a joke. Rees is a working man in an increasingly brutal industry. "Red Meat" author Max Cannon described the situation on the ground for political cartoonists in a piece entitled, "The Alternative Comics Apocalypse Has Begun". Like schools slashing art and music during the first signs of trouble, struggling alternative weekly newspapers have summarily dropped long-running comics one after the other. My former employer, the Ukiah Daily Journal, dropped its comics section in favor of free alternatives of which no one had ever heard. (Not that they ever had anything as cool as "Red Meat" or "Get Your War On". It was more like "Family Circus" and "Hagar the Horrible", but the point remains.)
In the age where we routinely expect our most beloved media to be free and accessible instantly and all the time, Rees' pencil sharpening business points out that if we indulge in artistic output, we have to make an effort to support the expert craftsmanship behind it while we still can.

Movie Review: "Inception"

Director Christopher Nolan is a uniquely intricate non-linear storyteller. His plotlines often fold in upon themselves and chronology becomes as malleable as a fistful of Play-Doh. His jumbled technique would be distracting and unnecessary if Nolan were anything less than a genius. Luckily for everyone involved he is and "Inception" is an amazing movie in the tradition of Nolan's already legendary resume.
Since 1997, Nolan has been married to his producer, Emma Thomas. Thomas probably knows this better than anyone, but Nolan has a serious fixation with the sudden, violent, unexplainable loss of family. If his male main characters aren't becoming widowers (as in "Memento" and "Inception") then their parents are getting murdered in front of them (as in "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight"). This fundamental disruption in the characters' lives drives their increasing obsession with the search for truth and the nature of reality.
Speaking of mazes, the climax of "Inception" involves frantic shootout in a dream within a dream within a dream while leaving the possibility open for all of that to have been contained within a larger dream. (A great debt is owed to "The Matrix" as much as Nolan's previous work.) Memory and time are as elastic as the manner in which the tale is told. Time within each successive level of dream is increasingly stretched and distorted. This comes with an increased unreliability of the nature of the dream. The dreamer's subconscious is reflected in each dream's bit players. These "projections" will eventually attack foriegn dream inhabitants like white blood cells. This is inevitable in every dream and the tourists can usually only survive a finite amount of dream time.
(As a side note, Leonardo DiCaprio seems to be entering a phase in his career that I never saw coming: the mentally unstable leading man. The last Leo-Dio movie I reviewed post-viewing in the theaters was "Shutter Island" another twisty psychological thriller in which his interpretation of events is anything but rock solid due to previous close encounters with grisly death.)
With "Inception" Nolan continues his campaign against the assumption of ultimate truth as it relates to the human experience. Mental disorders plague the victims of his plot twists and make them unreliable narrators. Whether they can't fall asleep (like Al Pacino's character Will Dormer in "Insomnia"), they can't wake up ("Inception") or they can't make new memories (per Guy Pearce's Leonard Shelby in "Memento"), this lack of stability drives their incessant need to discern the real from the manufactured. Lies are constantly being told to them both by outsiders and, especially, the main characters themselves. Solving their own puzzles consumes them and in the process sucks everyone else around them into their schemes. These side characters always have their own motives, but in the end the blindfold the main characters wear is a self-inflicted handicap.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Fighting words

Outside of listening to "The B.S. Report" podcast hosted by ESPN's Bill Simmons I haven't followed sports on a regular basis for at least half a decade. That was until the three-headed monster of the Tiger Woods debacle, the World Cup and the endless scrutiny over the new home of LeBron James made ignorance of the current state of professional competition utterly untenable.
After James announced his decision to rob the Cleveland Cavaliers and home state of Ohio of his presence in favor of Miami yesterday I expected there to be some hurt feelings in the Buckeye State this day. What I did not expect was the statement issued by Cavaliers Majority Owner Dan Gilbert in reaction to the move. I won't even mention the unnecessary quotations and capitalization. These are the least of my concerns here.

Via NBA Fanhouse:

Dear Cleveland, All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight;

As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.

This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his "decision" unlike anything ever "witnessed" in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.

Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.

The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.

There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you.

You simply don't deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.

You have given so much and deserve so much more.

In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:


You can take it to the bank.

If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our "motivation" to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.

Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.

Sorry, but that's simply not how it works.

This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown "chosen one" sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And "who" we would want them to grow-up to become.

But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called "curse" on Cleveland, Ohio.

The self-declared former "King" will be taking the "curse" with him down south. And until he does "right" by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.

Just watch.

Sleep well, Cleveland.

Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day....

I PROMISE you that our energy, focus, capital, knowledge and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only:

DELIVERING YOU the championship you have long deserved and is long overdue ...

Dan Gilbert
Majority Owner
Cleveland Cavaliers

Perhaps any readers who are sports fans could fill me in: Is this type of statement a normal occurrence? If so I might pay attention more often.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Music Video: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - "Everybody Wants to Rule the World"

This video, courtesy of the A.V. Club's "Undercover" promotion, proves why there should be a filter installed in all new radios that immediately turns every song on the airwaves into a Ted Leo cover version. Can't get enough of this guy:

And if that wasn't enough Kelly Clarkson and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs finally get to make sweet love in Leo's guitar: