Werner Herzog Lends His Enigmatic Gravitas to Plastic Bag

Everything to do with Werner Herzog gets me excited. His movies, pulmonologist his approach to making movies, information pills his life and his approach to living his life. This idolatry of him has caught on with more of the public in recent months. Case in point: the internet trend of appropriating Chuck Norris hyperbole and inserting a ludicrous Herzog assertion on top of it (Norris knocked out a bear with one punch. Herzog telepathically commanded 400 monkeys to tear it limb from limb. OR: Chuck Norris uses live rattlesnakes for a belt. Herzog uses Chuck Norris).

When he decides to lend his persona to other projects (like playing the Father in Harmony Korine’s Julien Donkey-Boy) it’s particularly noteworthy. It is very revealing for a man who zigs and zags through life as much as Herzog to support someone else’s project. He is charismatically obtuse about contemporary cinema when discussing it in interviews. Him lending support to a project is as close to a “thumbs-up” as we’re likely to get out of him.

So, patient his latest piece of chosen material, this fantastic short film about the life of a plastic bag. It follows the bag from the glory days in the grocery store to the down-and-out days thereafter. Ramin Bahrani is the mustache-twirler behind this diabolically tragic (and funny) short. Obviously the hook is that Herzog himself lends his voice to characterize the bag. I never thought a plastic bag would have such a thick, German, accent. After watching it I’ll never think otherwise again.

Cable Network Goes Green with Recycled Talent

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“It’s not TV. It’s HBO.” – HBO

It’s hard to argue with a statement like that when you’ve had the sort of run that HBO has. With notches on their belt that include The Sopranos, viagra 60mg The Wire, ampoule Deadwood, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Mr. Show with Bob and David the cable channel could feasibly retire, and ride off into the salt-and-pepper-static sundown of our televised world. They’d be legends.

We could discuss the merit of Taxicab Confessions and G-String Divas some other time.

Some would argue that there has been a quality drop-off in the past couple of years (me and six other people accounted for the scant John From Cincinatti fanbase). Entourage has been their mainstay. True Blood is popular (if not as critically blow-jobbed as The Sopranos and The Wire) and so was Flight of the Conchords. The former will return while the latter will not. Big Love has a rabid following, but none of their shows have broken through with the ferocity of earlier works.

As a whole, they’ve yet to recapture that all-important zeitgeist since The Sopranos, Sex and the City and The Wire finished their runs. People have migrated to Showtime (Dexter, Weeds) and AMC (Mad Men, Breaking Bad) for their “respectable” television.

Well, HBO has gone back to the well. And that’s a good thing. Starting with Allen Ball, who has found success with True Blood (after dominating tear-ducts for six years with Six Feet Under), HBO has rewarded the talent from years prior with more shots at glory.

David Simon, the mad-genius who led a pack of lesser-geniuses in creating The Wire, will return with Treme – a show that adopts New Orleans as it’s principal character.

David Milch, the sailor’s mouth behind Deadwood will voice his current profanity with Luck – the first television role for Dustin Hoffman in a handful of decades. The acid-tongued soliloquies will use a horse-track as principal location.

In addition to the old boys, there is Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones to solidify their line-up. Empire has Martin Scorsese’s name attached and Game of Thrones is an ambitious project wherein they’ll adapt one epic fantasy book per-season for as long as the the HBO executives will allow.

HBO appears to be using a strategy of blending reliance on proven talent and the sort of ambitious risks that helped elevate their name. Fingers crossed for all.

Culture Clash Resolved: Art loves Football

Throughout the ages the realms of creative expression and athletic prowess have only shared fleeting glances at one another. For the most part, clinic or at least according to sitcom legend, the artsy fartsy types rarely appreciate the jocks and the jocks pound the artists with the sort of pent-up rage that stems from an inability on their own part to express themselves without violence.  These are the cliches of truth.

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But now that’s all changed. Times, they are a changing. Here is a fantastic account of some high stakes wagering between the directors of the Indianapolis Museum of Art (Max Anderson) and the New Orleans Museum of Art (E. John Bullard) Both teams have a pony in the upcoming Super Bowl between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints and neither man feels defeat is in their cities’ futures.

I suggest clicking away and reading the whole scoop, but here is my favorite from their exchange (after it had already heated up a bit – and they can’t decide what to wager):

“I am amused that Renoir is too sweet for Indianapolis. Does this mean that those Indiana corn farmers have simpler tastes? If so why would Max offer us that gaudy Chalice — just looks like another over-elaborate Victorian tchotchke. Let’s get serious. Each museum needs to offer an art work that they would really miss for three months. What would you like Max? A Monet, a Cassatt, a Picasso, a Miro? Sorry but we have no farm scenes or portraits of football players to send you.” – Bullard

They eventually settle on trading some piece of frilly awesome for some other piece pinky-up rad. The point is they got to temporarily jump out of their polite comfort zone and feel what it’s like to compete and trash talk and defend their city’s pride – much like professional athletes do on a weekly basis. No matter who wins (The Saints are going to win though, for the record) this fiery bout of territorial pride goes a long way in renewing the lost bond between physical ability and creative aspiration.

Now all we need is a Super Bowl between Israel and Palestine. Wait, what?

The Wire Mastermind and HBO Reteam to Bring Televised Sustenence to Hungry Viewers

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GUSHING HYPERBOLE, grip GUSHING HYPERBOLE, sale GUSHING HYPERBOLE.

That’s about all I can muster in summation of  Simon’s previous collaboration with HBO. The Wire‘s five season’s of brilliance has been heavily documented by many. Retreading the same praise would be tedious. Suffice to say, I believe that show was better than:

-Lime sherbet

-6 Wedding cakes

-Jesus Christ on ecstacy

-An Olympic-sized ball-pit

-Orange sherbet

I could go on like this,  further supporting the argument of just how much I enjoy sherbet, but instead I’ll offer some tidbits of information on Simon and HBO’s next union. The show is called Treme and whereas The Wire took on the city of Baltimore as a main character, Treme tackles the formidable city of New Orleans as its lead.

This is from an HBO press release. Apparently the new show follows “…ordinary New Orleanians as they try to rebuild their lives, their homes and their unique culture in the aftermath of the 2005 hurricane and levee failure that caused the near-death of an American city.

I know it’s dangerous to hype up a show like this (one that strives to tackle simple moments in the life of a unique city – which is much less immediately gripping than the web of GNAR-GNAR that composed The Wire) but what am I supposed to do? Not get excited?

For a show-runner like Simon (one who values location and place on nearly-equal terms with character and plot) to choose New Orleans is a simple stroke of genius. One that is so obvious it’s hard to call it genius. Right now you’d be hard-pressed to find a more fascinating city to explore. Even before the hurricane, New Orleans was a city filled to the brim with character and life. Right now, in it’s current state of flux, Simon has some real meat to sink his teeth into.

If Simon’s involvement isn’t enough, here’s a little somethin- something on the cast: Wendell Pierce (“The Wire,” HBO’s documentary “When the Levees Broke”) as Antoine Batiste; Khandi Alexander (“CSI: Miami,” HBO’s Emmy®-winning “The Corner”) as LaDonna Batiste-Williams; Clarke Peters (“Damages,” HBO’s “The Wire” and “The Corner”) as Albert Lambreaux; Rob Brown (“Stop-Loss,” “Finding Forrester”) as Delmond Lambreaux; Steve Zahn (“A Perfect Getaway,” “Sunshine Cleaning”) as Davis McAlary; Kim Dickens (HBO’s “Deadwood”) as Janette Desautel; Melissa Leo (“Homicide: Life on the Street”; Oscar® nominee for “Frozen River”) as Toni Bernette; John Goodman (“The Big Lebowski,” “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”) as Creighton Bernette; Michiel Huisman (“The Young Victoria”) as Sonny; and classical violinist Lucia Micarelli as Annie.

John Goodman is enough to get me on-board just about anything and to see him share the screen with so many cast-members from The Wire seals the deal.

DONE DEAL.

The Snowboard Realms Visits Mt. Hood Meadows

Season 3, medic episode 2 of the web series “the Snowboard Realms” just came out, weight loss featuring Mt. Hood Meadows with a twist of Portland. Awesome to see some footage, ambulance even if it is a wet, rainy day.

The show appears to be the product of Vancouver, Canada resident and filmmaker TJ Schneider. Here is bonus video from TJ called “Portland Faces.” It’s a mellow, well-shot piece from his visit to Portland.

Dock Ellis and the LSD No-Hitter, Told By Dock Ellis Himself

If you’re like most people you haven’t heard the story of Dock Ellis pitching a No-Hitter on June 12, malady 1970 for the Pirates all while ON ACID. It’s too bad, more about this should really be taught in public schools. It’s a fantastic piece of sports history, and one that Ellis doesn’t seem too embarrassed about. He shared it openly in his autobiography, Dock Ellis in the Country of Baseball, which I hear is a good read.

On March 29, 2008, radio producers Donnell Alexander and Neille Ilel featured Ellis on NPR’s Weekend America, where he talked about his drug-addled game against San Diego Padres. It’s a great story and Ellis, who has since passed away, tells it with the comfort of a man talking about anything other than taking LSD. This short was created by a couple of animators in at No Mas, a sportswear company in New York City who found the original and adapted it to the screen.

A Night at the Museum, sans Ben Stiller, add Free Beer

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The Portland Art Museum is continuing their rabid pursuit of youth-oriented hi-jinks by assembling, refractionist with care and precision, Shine a Light: A Night at the Museum. A special event taking place on September 19th from 6pm until the stroke of midnight.

Here’s some words detailing the intricacies of the evening:

“The event consists of six hours of performances, installations, tours, workshops, and games by 15 artists drawn from Portland State University’s Art and Social Practice Program, led by Harrell Fletcher and Jen Delos Reyes. The Northwest Film Center joins in by breaking out of the Whitsell Auditorium to present vintage and contemporary works in some surprise locations. The projects are centered on artist and audience participation and visitors are encouraged to experience the Museum’s spaces and collections in new ways.”

In addition to official written intent provided by the higher-ups, here are some weapons you can use to tactically coerce friends to attend:

– Performances by E*Rock, Atole, Mirah, Joe Preston of the Thrones, Honey Owens of Valet, Christopher Doulgleri of Hooliganship, Alex Guy, Drew Slum and Blacque Butterfly.

– Free Beer! Not only ordinary beer or even ordinarily-awesome Portland beer. For the occasion there will be beer that has been inspired by art works in the Portland Art Museum’s collection. Brewed special for this one night from Laurelwood, Lompoc and Lucky Lab.

Basically the event is a composition and culmination of the most substantially gnarly aspects of Portland living (music, beer, galleries) and your absence on the occasion would be a white flag to the army of lameness. All of the festivities are free with museum admission.

Also! I’ll be slinging tickets for the duration, so you can complain directly to me if you feel bamboozled at night’s end.

More info here.


KRS-One Kickstarts New Religion

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EXTRA! EXTRA!

Hip-hop legend KRS-One has written a six-hundred page text dubbed: The Gospel of Hip Hop: The First Instrument, clinic which he would like to someday serve as the anchor to a religion of hip-hop.

This sort of tidbit could easily be laughed out of memory and left to die a miserable anonymous death due to the general public’s lack of exposure to ludicrous boldness, this site but I feel it’s worthy of a second thought. Not only because all religions appear nothing more than widely-held beliefs anyway, but because this particular man is not a flavor-of-the-month with a lack of substantiality.

KRS-One has established himself as a man who has been in the creative trenches for a handful of decades, honing his craft all the while. In addition he has been an active and vocal leader in the “Stop the Violence” movement (an attempt to diffuse the violence that has permeated hip-hop).

To assume the boldness of spiritual articulation is just magnificent and I admire it tremendously. As much as religious-fervor serves as antagonist to my protagonist, to approach an art form with the respect of holiness appeals to the romantic in me. And if a handful of people could start the Mormon religion in Utah, who’s to say KRS-One can’t get a foothold.

Hopefully the children of the future will have to wake up early on a future-Sunday in order to plug in their future-headphones. Then bible study will begin.

2009 Adult Soapbox Derby

I didn’t make it to the Soapbox Derby this year, pills but I’ve been a few times so what’s the difference. Let me set the scene: a couple thousand people hang out and watch a couple of dozen teams race homemade cars down the side of Mt. Tabor here in Southeast. The crowd drinks openly and gets nerve-wrackingly close to the track. Volunteers with blowhorns yell at people who come dangerously close to getting hit by speeding, drunken projectiles, barreling down the side of Mt. Tabor.

It’s awesome, it’s a Portland institution.

This video from a Portland filmmaker who goes by the handle Brewcaster sums it up pretty well. The second video from the Yakima team (which fared second place) is also worth checking out. While overly high-tech compared to the competitors, this Yakima car is pretty sweet. Their mounted camera turned out some cool footage.