While the Wicked Burrito owners have come round a bit, Eastern Federal the owners of Chapel Hill’s next greatest eyesore, the bulldozed remains of the Plaza Movie Theaters, have taken on an angry tact with Chapel Hill. So far, they’ve been into it with the adjoining shops and property management, with the Town and with anyone who has to drive by and see the razed fenced site of the former theatre. None of this is their fault as their letter to the Town explains.
Getting lined up for a trip to DC for the next step in the Computerworld Honors Program. We are among the 5 finalists for the 21st Century Achievement Awards which will be announced at a ceremony at the National Building Museum next Monday evening. The Open Video project is a finalist in their area so we’ll be driving up with my collegue Barbara Wildemuth and will be met there by Gary Marchionini.
This event calls for tux and medal so I’ve ordered up the monkey suit again from the wonderful O’Neill’s.
We’ll be staying at the Cosmos Club (thanks to Jose-marie Griffiths) and although our time in DC will be brief (less than 24 hours), we’re looking forward to a grand time.
Directly after that I’ll be on the plane to Denver for the JCDL 2005.
We’ve been looking at a DVD that Michael “Horns and Haloes” Galinsky sent our way called Operation: Dreamland, a documentary about the day to day lives of foot soldiers in Falluja, Iraq before the clampdown/invasion of the city. The co-directors, Garrett Scott and Ian Olds, spent 6 weeks with a small group of soldiers letting us get to know them fairly deeply in only 78 minutes. Falluja is realtively calm at this point despite becoming known as a haven for the various enemies. The film is not meant to be political, but I’m sure that every viewer will find politics somewhere in the film. I dropped the film off for Michael’s parents to see.
Next, Tucker and I watched the Matrix and Matrix: Reloaded. Between viewings, Michael’s mother, Maeda, stopped me as I was mowing. She asked about the violence in the Dreamland documentary. How could I answer that question having just been through hours of Matrix? Her friends in the car with her were concerned that there might be unsettling scenes, say a beheading (nope), say explosions (yes but compared to the Matrix not so upsetting), but how to say that the real violence in Iraq paled beside the Keanu Reeves cord-dancing pomposity?
On the phone to poet Betty Adcock tonight — since there is no way to do email with her. We ended up talking about the future of books which Betty will wax romantically about as if they were coalfired steam engine. That is extolling all their vices as if they were virtues. In the case of the stream locomotives — the clouds of coaldust smoke becomes something poetic instead of a stinky burning mess, the overloud engine becomes a lullaby, the earpiercing screams of the brakes becomes a kind of music. Basically the less you see of it, smell of it, the more valuable the experience becomes — like walking uphill to school in the snow and in the summer when the streets were melted tar (as I tell my son I experienced).
Books too have many not so great sides to them. The smell that Betty talks about of an old library is the smell of the books rotting. The heft of books often an artifact of marketing and of the limits of technology — what is needed to make a binding and what the bounds that binding will allow.
Betty says she stands by what she said in our discussion that Educom published in 1998. Now I have to go back and see what we both said.
After a rather odd series of attempts to get DVDs from the campus library — too long to tell, but let’s say I was inspired to ask for the Matrix once Crouching Tiger became to complicated to obtain, but then the Matrix was even more complicated to find a copy of so I asked for Brazil which seemed fitting the situation as it was evolving, but then Brazil although in the catalog as available was not or was only viewable within the building, so I asked for Ken Russell’s Kafka, that I could have, so inspired I asked for the 1919 Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, that was in as well — we watched the Caligari film tonight. Rather I watched the film while my family fell asleep.
The version I ended up with had a complex dissonate sound track; the original was a silent. The copy was a bit faded and glaring alternatively. But the odd Expressionist sets, completely painted in stark black and white and built with no right angles instead favoring sharp unsettling acute knife-like whenever possible, came across nicely or better jarringly. The film is told by a young man sitting in the garden of an asylum. The story of the reappearance of the evil 11th Century monteback magician and his somambulant zombie-like slave who can see into the future but will only predict deaths — murders that he will himself commit — were meant to address the insanity of the World War in which old men had just sent young men off to kill for them. But through a series of false endings and perhaps false ends the story is turned on its head several times over. The framing for the film was added over the objections of the writers/director at the insistance of the producer, Erich Pommer. Many argue that the framing story while completely changing the story’s intent and message actually created a more memorable film.
One interesting note: the somambulist, Ceasare, was played by Conrad Veidt, who would much later appear as Maj. Strasser in Casablanca.
This year the winner of the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject was “Mighty Times: The Children’s March.”
The showing in Carrboro at the Century Center tonight followed closely the burning of three large Klan-style crosses in nearby Durham.
The Carrboro showing was very very well attended the Century Center filled to near overflow. I would guess over 200 people there. The showing was followed by a panel made up of Chuck Stone, Reginald Hildebrand and Tim Tyson. The panelists provided some acute descriptions of the contexts, events and people elided or left out of the movie as well as praise for its strengths. Frankly the movie is a triumphalist tale aimed at children and young adults and focused on the role, the very important and pivotal role, that children played in the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement. As Tim Tyson noted, the running time of 40 minutes is perfect for showing to a class, then to have a 20 minute discussion afterwards. The film is part of the Teach Tolerance series from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
I understand from the Cybrarian that the DVD will be available for checkout from the Cybrary.
I have seen the mad new poets who are drunk on language, aware of critical approaches, ready for fun and sly about their gravitas. The Carrboro International Poetry Festival had a great helping of smart new edgy poetry. Poetry informed by performance, by l*a*n*g*u*a*g*e, poetry that rejects quietude, defies therapy, recognizes displacement, questions syntax, poetry that can be sarcastic and deep at the same time, poetry full of noise and full of fun.
The audio will be online at the Festival site soon.
Spent most of the afternoon at the Carrboro International Poetry Festival hearing about 10 of the 40 poets scheduled to read there. Organizer Patrick Herron and I will both be reading tomorrow. I had to leave just after Tonya Olson’s wonderful set which included a piece in which Joyce’s The Dead is rewritten to be about the breakup of an affair between the author and Lisa Marie Presley over the author’s refusal to become a Scientologist. I cannot explain any further except to say I recommend this piece be it poem or short story or performance piece.
Later Sally and I went to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP banquet. There among the entertainers was a terrific a capella group called “the Sons of Bethel.” The Sons have been part of the Music on the Terrace program at UNC’s Johnston Center in the past year or so. Tonight they were playing to a home crowd.
The core principles — written by IBM bloggers over a period of ten days using an internal wiki — are designed to guide IBMers as they figure out what they’re going to blog about so they don’t end up like certain notable ex-employees of certain notable other companies. They’re also intended to communicate IBM’s position on such practices as astroturfing, covert marketing, and openly goading or berating competitors — specifically, don’t do it. As these guidelines were being drafted, we drew heavily upon our own experiences as bloggers and the excellent prior art in this space graciously provided by Sun, Microsoft, Groove and many others who have drafted policies and guidelines for their employees.