My trusty old Power Mac G4 (which was the shit eight years ago) has been delighting me with some new tricks of late. After eight days on the road, I returned home to discover these quirks … such as a ghostly semi-transparent layer which comes rolling down the screen with a text box tells me that I need to restart my computer by holding down the power button. Not terribly convenient. But on the positive side, the three pages of blog I wrote the other night (humble though those three pages may be) were still there, waiting for me when I powered back up. And I know I didn’t hit save while composing. Perhaps this is one of the bonuses that came when I upgraded my operating system. This is why so many of us put up with technology. It fails us so often, but just when we’re about to hit the offending machine with a handy c-stand or Shiner Bock bottle it does something endearing. You know. It saves a document when you thought all was lost. The inorganic analogy to a puppy who, after being left alone all day, gnaws the heel off one of your favorite classic Converse All-Stars and then takes a dump in it. You are, of course, incensed. And just as you’re about to toss the pup into the backyard during a heavy rain, he looks up with those liquid brown eyes and wags his tail with pure joyous abandon … he’s just so thrilled to see you. So, instead, you drop into his dog bowl the imported prosciutto you’d brought home for dinner and downgrade yourself to that old desiccated biscuit of Raman noodle hiding in the pantry, there, behind the Clabber Girl. What are you gonna do? That’s one cute dog. But don’t you see that this is exactly what the machines are doing to us? They’re playing us as chumps, a bunch of mush-minded puppy-lovers. God save us all once the next generation of Japanese-designed computers begin to make their way into our lives. How will we be able to demand absolute dependability when our computers, laptops, smart phones, and so forth are designed to resemble lovable puppies, kitties, or school girls … in sailor suits? We’ll forgive them all their flaws and faults. Windows Vista? Aw, look at it, it’s adorable! But once these adorable machines become smarter than us (which may have already happened, all things being relative), well, we’re all fucking doomed.
While in Dallas I had the opportunity to see a shrunken head. Nope. Not a rubber one from Archie McPhee. Someone I know had received it in via a courier. It was supposedly an authentic Peruvian shrunken head. I only saw it in passing — just long enough to shoot a photo.
I know nothing of it. How old is it? Who is it? Sad to see a piece of a person tossed about as a commodity. For all I know, there is some Amazonian tribe making these things for the collectible trade. They just wait for the next seasonal crop of Peace Corps workers, Seventh Day Adventists, or anthropologists, and then they harvest the heads. Shrink them down. Then wait for the dealers in exotica to come up river to purchase their folk art. And they make it to collectors of such oddities in places like Dallas.
A photo? I give you the only know remains of Dr. F. Llewellyn Maynard, formerly chair of the Anthropology Department at the Narragansett Institute of Advanced Studies. You’d never guess that he was a strapping man of 6′ 3″, tipping the scales at 255 pounds. Where be your jibes, now?
Swine Flu. I have little to no interest. I just cruised over to Wikipedia. I see that the US has two confirmed reports of Swine Flu deaths. The annual numbers of deaths in this country to influenza in general is over 30,000 (or 11,000 depending on which study you Google). This “swine flu” just can’t compete. Here’s something that I found interesting. I typed this into the search field of Google: us deaths swine flu (no quotes). The first two listing showed a crazy disconnect.
“Despite 2nd US Death, CDC Says Don’t Close Schools for Swine Flue.”
“WHO Warns Swine Flu Threatening to Become Pandemic.”
Well, who should be believe? The Center for Disease Control? Or the World Health Organization?
Maybe we should just apply common sense. More people have died of peanut allergies in the US during 2008 than have yet to die world-wide from this Swine Flu. I have yet to hear the WHO of the CDC interrupt my televised programing with a “Beware the Peanut” press conference.
Pandemic? Fuck me Miss Marple! We’ve become such wusses. Black Death, anyone? Or HIV / AIDS? Or how about the thousands of Americans who die each year because they can’t afford basic medical care? And influenza AH1N1 has people scared and slathering themselves in Purell and demanding that we shut down the schools so that our children won’t become infected by, what? The fucking flu? A healthy kid is more likely to die by being struck by lightening or eaten by a bear than he or she is to die from swine flu.
Don’t get me wrong. The flu sucks. You feel all aching and sicky. You fight it off and get better. Or, well, you die. But that rarely happens, because, you know, it’s just the flu.
Perhaps I’m waxing a bit disingenuous mocking people and their Purell fixations. See, I’m coming down with a cold. Maybe constant attention to Purell hand-baths would have zapped away this species of cootie slowly plundering my corpuscles. And, you know, I rather like that fresh clinical smell of Purell and disposable alcohol wipes. Maybe I need to reevaluate my bigotry towards, well, cleanliness, I guess.
Wait! Maybe it’s not the common cold. I did touch that shrunken head. Oh, sweet Jesus, it’s the curse of Wagnibamba, the snake god of the Kugapakori tribe! Guess I just blew $6.95 on this Nyquil. Unlikely patent medicines will have much effectiveness on an Amazonian shrunken head curse.
These last few days I’ve been struck with what I fraud I am. A top shelf hypocrite. Not only have I spent endless hours laughing at people who use hand sanitizers only to have, myself, come down with a cold. But I have also waxed with pure single-minded pomposity about how it’s been cold cold cold these last six months. And now that we’ve shifted directly from winter to summer here in San Antonio, I’m miserable. I do have enough sense of self to hold my tongue, but, man oh man. It’s hot and humid. I feel like someone has stuffed me into a huge sweaty sock. And I’m hesitant to admit that I have actually turned on my little rattling AC window unit.
Weird weather. I was driving out to Harlandale High School Thursday morning for a 9 am appointment. There was this oppressive haze hanging over the city as if we were surrounded by raging brush fires. Or maybe Mount Poteet had finally blown her top. Actually, I think it was just the haze resulting from the sun trying to shine through all that water vapor of a 750% humidity day.
I was heading to the Harlandale High School to talk to the students at the San Antonio Film School … the school within a school. I was a bit nervous because with this Swine Flu scare, many schools were canceling extra-curricular activities. Maybe this applied to people like me, coming to promote a student film festival. And with Harlandale there was a further, extenuating circumstance. I don’t know the whole story. There was some sort of death threat last week with the police called in. I’m not sure how that whole thing played out, but I was expecting a bit of a hassle. However, Dagoberto Patlan had emailed me that it shouldn’t be any problem to come talk to his students, so, what the hell.
The campus is in the midst of a major expansion program. Construction crews all over the place. It took me about ten minutes to find the main office, But once I did, there was not problems.
I was escorted to George Ozuna’s class first.
George has more energy and bravado than anyone you’ll ever meet, and that includes you, punk. Once he shines his charm on you, you’re a goner. Pity the poor fool who storms in prepared to do battle with the man. Three minutes later: “Ah, George, you beautiful bastard, I think I can afford to sponsor three of your students to Sundance — who do I make the check out to?”
When I entered his classroom George began spreading on the marmalade. “Kids, if I could have your attention. I want to introduce you to Erik Bosse, perhaps the greatest human being I have ever met.” Now I don’t think that’s actually what he said. But there was some sort of Jedi mind trick going on, and I swear that’s what I heard. “Ah, George, you’re too kind,” I said, besotted and purring like a little kitten.
I can only hope that Ozuna is using these high powers of charisma for good, because if not, we’re all lost.
I’m looking forward to the projects his students will be submitting. George created this program from the ground up just a few short years ago. I’ve been watching the work coming out of his program for the last three years. The films are getting damn good.
Next, I headed over to Dago’s classroom. He teaches the beginning and intermediate students. They were younger and a bit more shy than George’s kids. But Dago helped me out. He’s great with the kids. Clearly he’s their favorite teacher. I hope we get some submissions by these younger filmmakers.
Finally, I headed to Russ’ room. He teaches the animation classes. He’d told me that he was in another building, far removed from George and Dago’s rooms. Dago had given me directions, but I felt a little turned about in the courtyard. I made he mistake of asking an administrator type who was walking across the campus. “Sir, excuse me, but do you know where the animation classroom might be?” He froze and frowned. “Well, that’s quite a question.” He smiled weakly. “We teach animation?” I leaned back. “No, sir. You teach award-winning animation.” He shrugged and walked away.
Eventually I found Russ’ room. When I tapped on the little glass window in the door, Russ pulled me in and cleared his throat and loudly introduced me to his students. I pitched the festival. And then Russ took me around the room and let me see some of the great work his kids are doing.
There was a piece about a ninja cat that had some great graphic design and killer composition. There was a work-in-progress about how malaria is spread with some very cool art work. Also a quirky fantasy piece about militaristic fleas living on dogs. I hope we get a bunch of these animation projects. These kids are so much better than they think they are. Even though their heads should be swelled with their recent Emmy Award.
Thursday NALIP-SA hosted Bryan Poyser from the Austin Film Society. He came to town to offer a free grant-writing workshop for AFC’s Texas Filmmaker’s Production Fund. We met at the Radius Center. About 25 people showed up. And I’m always perplexed by these sorts of gatherings where people show up who I don’t recognize. Maybe a third of the attendees were new to me.
Who are you people? I was only able to talk with one of the newbies as everyone filtered out. She was a graduate of Full Sail film school in Florida.
I was nice to see some of the stalwarts of the San Antonio film scene. I’ve been out of pocket for so many recent film-related events that I felt pretty disconnected. Chadd from PrimaDonna was there. Druck from Film Classics. Angela and Mark from Prime
Eights. Rocket Ron was there. Janet from the Film Commission. Jaime Ledezma. Veronica, of course. Rick Carrillo. Also, Scott Greenberg was there. Scott won a TFPF grant last year. He’s working on a hospice care documentary.
My plan is to apply, yet again, to the Texas Filmmaker Production Fund. I’ve done so four times before, only to be turned down. You have to play if you want to win. Last year they had just over 200 submissions. They awarded about 20 grants. A one in ten chance isn’t so bad.