Saturday, January 14, 2012

Home Studio

Lately my multi-talented husband's been doing some drawing work (animation, logo design) and yesterday he had an on-camera job. No, he's not launching an acting career. John's arm and hand were filmed at high speed while he drew, to be pixilated in a web video for a new website.

For one day, John's home office became both animation studio and filming location. This would have been claustrophobic for a big crew, but there was enough room for both set and crew because the cinematographer, lighting designer and post-production supervisor are all one person named Denny Kukahiko.

I took this shot of John and Denny before they started shooting. You can see the camera suspended above the drawing table. The lamps are called China Balls. I know they resemble what my parents had in their dining room when I was in high school but these are slightly different and they give a sugary, diffuse light.

There wasn't quite enough room on the set for producer Kendall Kanoa Hawley, who set up her laptop in the dining room. Kendall, Denny and Denny's brother Chad Kukahiko make up Superfreako Productions (rhymes with Kukahiko, see?). You met them here when I told you about their short film, Carefully Descending. John met them through his participation in the Hollywood film collective, We Make Movies. John's got more projects coming up with WMM, so I'll have more to tell you soon.

Update 1/17/12: Cinematographer Denny Kukahiko posted about the shoot on Superfreako's blog.

Update 1/20/12: Hey! Here's the final product.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Light Touch

the Westin Hotel in Pasadena

Sometimes another person can rub off on you. Spend half an hour with the guy who's always freaked out and you come away needing a cigarette, whether you smoke or not. By contrast, a brief exchange with a store clerk who's got a sense of humor can loosen the clench of your jaw and keep you smiling for the rest of the day.

I don't know about you but I never think of myself as that person--the one who's rubbing something of my own off onto other people. How dare I rub people, how rude! Especially strangers, especially the wrong way.

But I am that person. We all are, every time we come within rubbing distance of each other.

It's something to keep in mind, this unconscious rubbing we do. (I suppose if we keep it in mind it's conscious then, isn't it?) Perhaps a nice pat-pat now and then instead, eh?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Guest Author: Douglas Kearney

My sole contact with poet, librettist, performer and teacher Douglas Kearney has been online, and it's all been a pleasure. Read his post, click his links and definitely watch a video or two. This is one poet who doesn't just stand there and read.
Many thanks to William Goldstein of Pasadena's Red Hen Press for putting me in touch with smart, funny and thoughtful Douglas Kearney.

Horses mill before liquor stores that scowled with St. Ides posters.

Jump cut to a mile of deodar decked with light as pistols and champagne corks drum New Years’ Eve.

Turn to a tuning dial teetering between stations, song to hiss to talk to bzzzzz.

Altadena, right?

Sometimes—ok, a lot of times—I wonder what it means to be a poet of place. Home, block, town, city, state, region and on. How does one write of a place? “Of”, of course, as “about” AND as “composed from.” Like some of those dudes around those liquor stores would ask, “What you claiming?” which, for them, was a question of geography, allegiance and too often, life. For me, it’s a question of how to see and how to be seen seeing.

I set myself to write about Altadena. I cull my memories and I do the external research. I exaggerate, I lie, I shift a street, say Calaveras, back into its Spanish mouth and a skull leers back. And in that skull’s teeth are photographs of times I can’t remember in the house behind the house, next to the babysitters’ and ivy ivy ivy and daddy long legs. I write Altadena this way sometimes, about it. I’ve got poems that show it off like a forearm tattoo or a customized t-shirt. I boosterize like those license plate holders trilling “Beautiful Altadena” to everyone who lives anywhere else.

But more often, I write of Altadena. Composed from. The clash of coyotes and cockapoos; of the Tudor on my street and the ranch home a few doors down. Of mispronounced boulevards and illegible graffiti tags. The horses, Christmas trees and what the foothills used to do to my radio. Tension, juxtaposition, coexistence in the face of contradiction. I find that more and more, my work is of Altadena; my poetry, libretti, performance style, all seem to locate their syntax in this land.

I moved back about a year ago and I’m leaving again in a week. It costs too much, I wrote in a poem. But then I was writing about keeping the Christmas Tree Lane lit in war time. And I was writing about the darkness in my father’s house after my mother died.

She’s in Altadena’s earth.

Like some of those dudes who claimed some of its concrete and dust.

Like my poetry.

Altadena. Write.

Douglas Kearney’s SkinMag, a new chapbook from A5/Deadly Chaps will be out in January. Come to the release reading at Machine Project January 28 at 8. His second book, The Black Automaton (Fence Books), was a National Poetry Series selection in 2009. He has also written a chapbook as broadsides as an lp called Quantum Spit (Corollary Press, 2010) and his first collection, Fear, Some (Red Hen Press) was published in 2006. He’s performing around town. Visit for details.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Photographic History

the Curtin House at Pasadena Museum of History

In conjunction with the exhibition Southern California’s Evolving Landscape: The Photography of Helen Lukens Gaut (1872-1955) at the Pasadena Museum of History through Feburary 26, the Museum is offering some pretty cool photography workshops next month. Three different teachers, three different workshops, three different perspectives.

Saturday, February 4: Working the Angles with James Staub,
Photo Services Specialist, California Institute of Technology
Staub will focus on what he calls "Moving the furniture around" -- framing the scene, dealing with lighting to your advantage, color balance and other methods to enliven a photo through simple changes to your camera and yourself.
Participants will meet at the Information Kiosk in the East entrance of Pasadena City Hall.

Saturday, February 18: The Basics of Composition with Ibarionex Perello,
Adjunct professor at Art Center College of Design and author of the bestselling book, Chasing the Light: Improving Your Photography with Available Light
Perello's workshop will teach students to improve their compositions. You will learn how to carefully consider what to include and exclude from the frame as well as how brightness, contrast, sharpness, patterns, and color saturation shape how we create and see photographs.
This workshop will take place in Curtin House at Pasadena Museum of History.

Saturday, February 25: Phoneshots with Eliot Crowley, Santa Barbara-based commercial photographer
The best camera is the one you have with you. As Eliot says, “It’s not the camera, it is the photographer.” In just a couple of hours you'll learn some of the capabilities of your phone camera. Be ready at a moment’s notice to make the image, set up the composition and lighting to flatter your subject just by pulling your phone out of your pocket.  Equipment needed:  Cellular phone with camera.
This workshop will take place on the Colorado Street Bridge. Participants should park on Grand Avenue and meet at the East entrance to the Bridge.

Museum Members, $25 per session; Non-Members, $30 per session; Museum Members, $60 for all three workshops; Non-Members, $75 for all three workshops.
Reservations are required. Call 626.577.1660, ext. 10.

I've never gone wrong at the PMH. They're cool people who care about offering quality programs.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Stinky in a Good Way

If you follow the Saga of Boz (and why wouldn't you?) you know he had eye surgery about two and a half weeks ago. He had to wear a (shameful) cone for two whole weeks, during which time there were no none zero zip trips to Hahamongna Watershed Park (for his sake we call it JPL because it has fewer syllables, though I doubt he'd find the real JPL nearly as interesting).

First we inspected the Devil's Gate Dam. The County has dug out a good deal of silt in what might end up as an ongoing project. If you enlarge the picture you can see, left of center, a bunch of ducks ("bunch" being the scientific term), swimming as far away from Boz as they can get, even though all he ever says to them is "murph."

We usually walk all the way from one end of Hahamongna to the other, or at least from the dam to Johnson Field and back, but it was our first trip out in a while and the Pooper was easily pooped. You would be, too, if you had to stop and smell every damn thing in the whole watershed.


Now, this is totally off the subject but if you like cowboy music, the Coffee Gallery and Rocky the Flying Squirrel, I hope you'll read my latest article on Patch.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Zen Monday: #178

Zen Monday's the day you experience the photo and give us your thoughts rather than me telling you what I think the picture's about. There's no competition, no right or wrong. We're here to have fun.

Sorry about the quality. My iPhone is very, very old. 

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(p.s. I have a new piece on Patch that has nothing to do with Zen Monday.)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Pique Cadillac

Yesterday was different.

I usually work at my desk. I didn't.

Lately it's been sunny and hot. It was foggy and cool.

My dog, no longer forced to wear a cone, was happier. 

We received a spontaneous dinner invitation and accepted it.

Routines serve a purpose, but sometimes you have to break them.