Two Laptops and a Video Projector

(Wednesday.)

I woke up feeling uninspired. Even after a huge mug of cappuccino, hecho a mono, and a tasty bowl of mote pillo, I still wasn’t up to much.

I did, however, call up my dear friend Enrique Madrid in Redford, Texas. I was hoping to be able to see him at a Big Bend conference coming up in San Marcos at the end of the month. He had been invited as a speaker. But because of recent health issues as well as a lack of funds to make the trip, he had to opt out. He sounded in good spirits. But it’s hard to tell over a phone. I didn’t get a chance to speak with Ruby, his wife. But I told him to expect me to come down for a visit in the beginning of April. I miss my friends down there. I miss the desert, too.

He wryly suggested that there was a new sport in Redford. “Oh, and what might that be?” I asked, playing the straight man. “Drone streaking,” he said. “Oh?” “Yes, it’s when you take off all your clothes and run along the dirt road atop the river levy. The Border Patrol sensors are activated and they send out the drones to video-tape the activity.” Yes, I remember now. Occupied southern Presidio County, where the only crimes seem to be committed by corrupt or ill-trained American men in uniform.

Enrique also said that he’d been recently interviewed by Texas Monthly for their Texas Food issue. He gave the reporter his famous tortilla-making lesson. Enrique has a mathematical formula for creating the perfectly round tortilla. I have it around somewhere, but it’d take awhile to find it. It is, as he is found of explaining, a formula analogous to the expansion of the universe following that early period of hyper-inflation. Enrique’s tortilla lessons are wonderful. I keep planing to make a short film. I’m not certain that the guy from Texas Monthly understands the charm and audacity of Enrique’s world view. But I understand completely. Enrique Madrid is one of my three mentors / gurus, all which, for some reason, are multidisciplinary intellectuals (mostly self-taught) who also all happen to be Chicano activists.

Maybe that’s what I’ll come back with. A video tutorial of how to make the perfectly round flour tortilla, using a mathematical formula which is shockingly simple, when you realize that the formula can also be used to recreate the universe if, you know, we fuck this one up.

San Marcos don’t know what it’s missing.

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Later in the afternoon, when the high octane caffeine was wearing thin, I decided that I needed to address the issue of a few up-coming projects. I might be working with Slab Cinema again for Alamo Heights Night. If so, it will be a live broadcast inter-active presentation. There are also two performances where I will be working with Seme Jatib. My hope is that we will be able to add a live video manipulation / projection component to her dance performances.

I priced out a few AV carts and tables. I decided on a particular portable DJ table. It is more than stable enough to support my laptops, switchers, faders, external drives, mix-board, and even a monitor. The price was right. And even though the adjustable legs can only raise it up to 40 inches, I can probably get two slabs of four inch thick styrofoam to lift the equipment to what I have become accustomed to, this four foot-high standing desk which I’m using right now.

I also placed an order with monoprice.com, a great place to buy cheap audio and video cables. I think I have ordered all the cables I need to do VJ work, as well as improve my home video and audio editing suite.

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Yesterday there had been some emails floating around. Someone was trying to find a place in San Antonio where a representative of PGA (the Producers Guild of America) could talk to San Antonio filmmakers.

When the dust settled, it was the Guadalupe Theater, 6pm, Wednesday night.

I was the first person there. The parking lot was empty. I thought I’d find out how to adjust my dashboard clock for the daylight savings time switchover. But before I could do that, Dago Patlan rolled up. He was one of the people who arrange this event. We went inside.

Manuel Solis, the head of the media programs at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, greeted us. He was carrying a couple bags of ice through the lobby. The ice was for the keg of beer. And then I looked up and there was Vicente Williams, the representative of the PGA. He was carrying a stack of pizza boxes. The PGA paid for the pizza and the beer. Things were looking good.

Before the activities began I found myself talking with Manuel. I assume he knows who won the prizes for the Neighborhood Film Project, but he wasn’t saying nothing. He did, however, express delight in the performances in my submitted short film, “A Bourbon Would Be Nice.” He said that not only will it screen Saturday night (March 26), but also Sunday afternoon. The Cinema in the Barrio series at the Guadalupe will be a showdown between the Southside and the Westside, two regions with fierce pride and a long history of rivalry. Puro San Anto! And I’m representing the Southside. True, I’ve only been in the outer edge of the San Antonio Southside for a mere eight years or so, but my star, Lisa Suarez, is a Southside girl going all the way back.

I wandered inside and talked with the slowly growing crowd. Twenty-five San Antonio film people showed up. A good number for short notice. I knew everyone except four (and one of those, a journalist interested in making films, I later friended on FaceBook — we’re meeting soon for coffee). Vicente Williams gave us a fairly comprehensive explanation on what the PGA is, does, and how, if we can get in, it can help not only the fledgling members, but all filmmakers in a region with a sizable membership. Vicente is on the PGA Diversity Committee, and he gave us some insight into what that program offers. He mentioned more than on one occasional that he grew up in San Antonio, and because he returns often to visit family, more meetings and info sessions can be arranged in the future. In fact, Dago, who teaches filmmaking to high school kids at the Harlandale ISD’s Film School of San Antonio, has begun developing a program, via Vincente, with the PGA. There are opportunities everywhere. Every now and then you just need to stop, take a breath, and look around.

Here’s Vicente.

And some people I know who showed up:

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(Thursday.)

Actually, it’s Friday, as I noticed that it just turned midnight.

I’ve been procrastinating on what should be a small video project. I shot the Windows Show two weeks ago. (This is an occasional free show that Jump-Start stages in the window of their theater every couple of mouths or so during First Friday.) I used my 7D. There were two performances of the 18 minute show. This allowed me to shoot each performance from a different angle. The idea was to edit like a two camera shoot. I’ve done this before. It’s great as a theory, but in practice it can often bite you on the ass.

The footage looks great. And the finished product will be fine. But these sorts of things always take longer than expected. It’s like when I do rare book appraisals. I always quote an estimate based on how many hours it would take me to do the gig … if I was my idealized version of myself. Sorry to say, I’m not that guy. But I keep hoping. And I always honor my quotes. Same with video work.

Anyway, I’ve basically finished it. A quick tinker in the morning. Burn to disk. Deliver. Move on to what’s next…. What’s next? Oh, yeah. An internet commercial next week which should be a blast, because I’m working with friends.

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I took a low-impact bike ride this afternoon from Mission San Jose to Mission Espada and back, with several protracted dead end detours around where the work crews are taking their sweet time between Espada Dam and Mission San Juan.

On a return from one of these dead ends, I slowed down as another cyclist approahced. He made eye contact and we both stopped. “Hey, dude. You have a cigarette?” I shurgged stoically and gave him a sigh, as men do, and said I didn’t. I leaned forward and psuhed on. But, really, what the fuck? Do I look that awful? I should have locked eyes with him. “Nope. Furthermore, I do not have an apple pie, a tallboy of Lone Star, nor a gram of heroine stored up rectum in a fingerstall.”

It was a lovely day. The heavy wind coming from Matamoros helped to make the ride back effortless and exciting. I think winter is finally vanquished. And don’t think I’m not rejoicing.

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