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Friday, January 05, 2001
8:39 PM      

My cat Friday is sitting next to me. He's this adorable all-black Domestic Short Hair. He's sweet, but he's no lap cat. Still, he likes to sit nearby, and he occasionally lets me pet him for more than a few seconds. When I came home tonight, he scooted right up to the door, waiting to greet me. He doesn't do the excessive puppy-dog greeting. He's too cool for that. I never thought of myself as a cat person. We always had dogs when I was a kid. There's no walking Friday. He's pretty low-maintenance.


The CoolPix is coming. I'm so psyched. It's been a long time since I've had a camera, and there are lots of things I imagine doing with the digital format. This is way beyond Polaroid. This is going to be fun. One of the best Christmas presents I ever got was my first 35mm SLR camera. That was my first profound access to creative expression. It was long before I realized I could write, which was a long time before I embraced other visual arts. You'll start seeing stuff RSN.

Speaking of visual arts, I recently went through "6 Chapters in Design" edited by Philip B. Meggs for the second time. There is so much there. All you have to do is allow it to sink in. My favorite chapter is the chapter on Milton Glazer, because he actually allows you to glimpse his process by showing a draft next to the finished product. The book doesn't overdose you with a ton of verbiage - only about 39 of the 368 pages are text. Each section has a brief introduction, then the work speaks for itself. And boy, does it speak. It's a right-brained book.

[ link | e-me ]

Wednesday, January 03, 2001
12:17 AM      

Starting the year off with a bang, I spoke to the tech support folks at my drive manufacturer today. They told me that my external hard drive had probably died. Recommended pulling the guts out of the case (no simple task) and hooking it up to my computer's chassis to see if I could breathe life into it. If the drive came up that way, I'd just have to deal with getting the data off the drive. Otherwise, it's time to find a place like DriveSavers to recover the data.

I got as far as peeling the shell away from the guts of my drive. I didn't have the heart to go through with cracking my machine open. I realize now just how flaky the drive's been for a while. I just didn't attribute all that misbehavior to the drive. That's the deal with mechanical devices like hard drives: eventually, they spin down and don't spin back up.

So now, I'm entertaining thoughts of cost vs. benefit. I know there are some files I would miss, but how many? This isn't like the days when I lost my first hard drive. The world isn't crashing down. In fact, it seems to be less of a nuisance than having a wallet stolen.

This was a big hard drive, meaning it was like an attic. You get to a point where you don't even remember the things you stored there. Probably the biggest hassle is that I used it for my Netscape settings. I think a bunch of archived e-mails and addresses are there. A couple of volumes were just scratch files. I did manage to burn a few CDs worth of backups a while back... but there's that nagging question: what is it that I don't realize I've lost yet?


Speaking of attics, Denise and I went through our large storage area downstairs and started throwing things out. We've already piled-up a ton of stuff we're not going to keep. Ultimately, we'll be able to shrink our storage area, which means more space for living! It's interesting to go through the process of purging old stuff. I start remembering when I acquired the thing in my hands, or remembering some not-so-pleasant event associated with it, or maybe how I always thought this particular thing would be so handy. Now here it is, virtually an archeological relic in my own home. I once went through my old client files, throwing away all the stuff that was years old from clients I no longer did business with. As I tossed away the files related to some of the more "evocative" projects, I found a certain relief in getting rid of the last vestiges of that memory. It's funny how physical things become the embodiment of memories. It's even funnier that we surround ourselves with things that remind us of events we say we'd rather not remember.


I'm surrounded by fun things these days. Over the holidays, I got a 1:18 scale PT Cruiser and an Audi TT ragtop - both from Maisto. A friend of mine looked at them, and remarked that they're like doll houses. An uncanny comparison. I figure if I can't buy the full-size real thing, I might as well get something that evokes the idea.

[You might laugh at this next one, but I don't particularly care.] My sister-in-law sent me a couple of of Power Puff Girl keyrings and a set of pencils. She loves to send gag gifts. I like Buttercup, so I've got her hanging from my backpack now. There's something that's just too campy cute about the idea of preschoolers who can kick your ass.

I'm into ass-kicking women in general: Xena, La Femme Nikita, and the brawling babes in Total Recall, to name a few. Super Girl and Wonder Woman were lame in comparison to these new vixens. The other thing that seems new to me, is that the babes get to carry firepower these days. And they're no longer stuck being uber-mother figures like Ripley in the Alien series or Linda Hamilton's Terminator series character.

In the 60s and 70s, the most powerful women characters I knew used lots of pussy power, but little else. I had the hots for Emma Peel before I knew what arousal was. Who can forget Eartha Kitt's CatWoman? These were the reincarnation of either the goddesses of old, or the very human women that compelled the male gods to consort with them. Powerful pagan women.

In the 70s and 80s a more cunning and dangerous woman began to appear: Matty in "Body Heat", Linda Fiorentino's black widow in "The Last Seduction", the diabolical foil in "Romeo is Bleeding", and who can forget "Basic Instinct?" These dangerous creatures gave the term "vixen" a new meaning.

Which makes me wonder. We've been treated to several renditions of the "Dune" saga. I wonder when someone will try their hand at Neil Stephenson's Snow Crash. The YT character could be awesome. We have already seen special effects applications to make the action believable and compelling. The trick will be boiling the story down [watering it down?] to a level that's compatible with the screen.


Speaking of reading, I've been dining on a wide array of prose lately. I just finished a bunch of small books: Kurt Vonnegut and Lee Stringer "Like Shaking Hands With God" is a transcript of an extended conversation about writing. David Mammet's "Three Uses of the Knife" is a dense philosophical inquiry into human nature in the guise of a book about the methods and uses of drama. "The Essential Magritte" by Todd Alden reminded me how much I've always liked surrealism, and showed me a connection to Freud I hadn't known about. Peter Bonnici's "Visual Language" took a deeper cut at this phenomenon called design, that I've been grappling to internalize. It's so rich, I'm sure I'll have to re-read it a few times to get more of what's lurking there. A man who has a handle on visual language, as well as verbal language presented visually, is Scott McCloud. I just finished "Reinventing Comics." A while ago, I read his first book "Understanding Comics" it's a compelling eye-opener that legitimizes comics as a unique art form.


I'm starting to understand how multi-dimensional so many of our forms of communicaiton are, but particularly the web. It's not just layers, it's dimensions of communication. When you look at comics and film, it's obvious that there are dimensions, because elements like visual design and narrative can be easily distinguished from each other. Those elements don't just sit on top of each other, they either synergize or compete. Now, we have the web - which can comprise cinematic motion and montage ideas, as well as sound, still images, color, typography, and interactivity to communicate. Like the early movie pioneers, we're still just scratching the surface of what can be done with the form.

Someone will use the web to deliver something as lasting and memorable as "War and Peace", "Gone with the Wind", "The Stranger" or "Citizen Kane." There is [or will be] a Sartre or Serling or Shakespeare of the web out there.There are pioneers who are doing more than grafting the older forms of print, comics, film, television, and radio onto a new carrier.

I think that's a challenge worthy of taking-on. I'm glad to be able to play this game.

[ link | e-me ]

Monday, January 01, 2001
9:39 PM      

Oh-One, Oh-One, Oh-One. The real start of the new millennium. A more soulful rendition of the turning of the century, not that over-hyped money-soaked greed-induced lead balloon that ran last year.

Each year, we share a communal molting of our psychic shells: Resolving how the new year's going to be different from all the rest. Remembering the people who are no longer with us. Reflecting on and atoning for the mistakes of the past. Drinking Champagne, making lots of noise...

Blowing things up. When I was a kid, we spent many of our new year's eves in New Orleans, where people would fire their handguns into the air in celebration. Eventually, they outlawed the practice, when someone realized that those bullets actually fall back to Earth.

New Orleans is in the Central time zone, so we'd get to celebrate the new year twice. First, we'd celebrate with New York then we'd celebrate our own. Last year we got to watch the new year roll toward us in Brooklyn from around the world, celebrating hour by hour in the ultimate count-down. Funny thing is, we didn't last long once New York had celebrated. We went to bed before LA got to ring in the year. I figure the same is true for the revellers in the UK. After all, they'd have to stay up until about 6 in the morning, and there's only so many with that kind of party stamina.

Last night, Denise and I shared some red champagne to toast the new year. It was Korbel "Champagne" from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The Korbel folks say they can call their stuff Champagne, even though it's not from that region of France, because they use the authentic Methode Champagnoise. The red stuff is fun to pour, after all those years of white bubbly. I still prefer Veuve Clicquot, but it was a nice change of pace.

It's only two days since our big snow storm. The place still looks beautiful. The circular table in the back yard looks like a giant marshmallow. There's more than a foot of snow piled on top of it. We went out and about today. The cafes and a few stores were open, but there's rarely any other day of the year where so many places are closed. The disappointment is that the galleries and museums were closed. I was thirsting for a shot of art.

[ link | e-me ]
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