Apr 242008

I had heard about Sharkwater on the film festival circuit for a year, but wasn’t ever in a place where it was showing. It came out on dvd last week and I finally watched it last night. Sharkwater is really three movies in one. Part nature documentary on sharks, part educational documentary on shark finning (mostly for sharkfin soup aka fishwing), and part docu-drama. Rob Stewart has some beautiful underwater footage in the movie, and one could see how that was how the movie started out. But the hook of the film is the drama they encounter in Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Ecuador.

That drama ties into explaining the sharkfinning industry, and just how dangerous it is to the ocean – our lungs. The movie doesn’t hold back in terms of imagery. In addition to finning sharks, the viewer is shown exactly what longlines are, and just how wasteful and brutal they are for large fish species. Today, it is estimated 90% of shark populations are gone from our seas. The removal of this top predator from the oceans will have a huge impact on an already off-balance ecosystem.

Though parts of the movie are hard to watch, I think it is a very important film to get into the public consciousness. Unless laws and enforcement change, most species will be gone within a decade.

Watch the Sharkwater trailer here:

Jul 092007

Reading the bottle of Dr Bronner’s Soap I’ve always got a wiff of crazy mixed with peppermint. But the soap was damned good, so I didn’t really pay much attention. Someone else figured there was a story there. Grist has a post on a documentary called Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox that tells us all about the good Dr and his life. Sounds interesting. Quoth the post:

It turns out that Dr. Bronner — his actual name was Emanuel, but he adopted the “Dr.” randomly at some point — was a German-born, eighth-generation soapmaker. His parents were killed in a concentration camp during World War II, but Bronner immigrated to the United States in 1929. In the U.S., Bronner began a crusade to “unite mankind and spaceship earth,” traveling around and talking to anyone who would listen about his ever-evolving 30,000-word manifesto that he called “The Moral ABC.” The ABC is an odd hodge-podge of rhetoric from various world religions, boiled down to the main message that we’re all one people united in one god faith, with the “All-One!” mantra repeated, uh, repeatedly. Bronner was so obsessed that he abandoned his three kids with whatever random family was willing to take them so he could focus on his mission to unite mankind….

… The film also gets into some of the great work the company does today, in addition to creating organic, planet-friendly soaps. They also pioneered the 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottle, and they donate nearly 70 percent of their net profits to social causes around the world. They family has even capped their own salaries, making sure that they make no more than five times as much as their lowest-paid employees. Even though Bronner’s descendents seem to realize their granddad was a little off, his philosophies about fairness, equity, and doing right by the world have carried on. Which to too many people probably still qualifies them as crazy, sadly.

Jul 282006

I’ve been a fan of Bourdain’s travel shows for a while. Always up for anything, and ready to explore the worlds outside resorts and english menus. He was in Beirut for two days, filming on Lebanon. Then the bombs started. His article on Salon is a good read:

Watching Beirut die – We went to Beirut to film a TV show about the city’s newly vibrant culinary and cultural scene. Then the bombs started falling, and we could only stand on the barricades of our hotel balcony and watch it all disappear — again.

Mar 112006

Anna and I snuck a burrito in and watched Dave Chappelle’s Block Party last night at the decotastic Pacific Gaslamp. Unless you reaaaally hate rap, I can’t recommend the movie enough. It is not really a concert film, but more of a documentary of the making of Dave’s dream concert. There are great performances, but most of the film is Dave interacting with locals (NYC and Dayton), the talent, and the crew. There are some fantastic characters in the film, and Dave’s natural comedy is a perfect fit.

Jun 282005

La Paloma Theatre
Last night Anna and I went to watch The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill at the La Paloma theatre in Encinitas. Great movie, great theatre. We snuck some spring rolls from Siamese Basil into the show, but the concessions prices were quite reasonable. I love the building. It is sort of a roaring 20’s spanish style with a good mix of rustic wood and tile.

What about the parrots? While the movie sometimes has a “home movie” feel (the footage spans a number of years and different sources), it works quite well. It details the flock of wild parrots that live around Telegraph Hill in San Francisco, mainly a few different birds by showing their different personalities and quirks. It also focuses on Mark Bittner. Mark is one of those people that is uncompromising in their time. He took odd jobs or lived on the streets for years rather than settle into something he didn’t like. He ended up living in telegraph hill and following the parrot flock for many years. Making friends with some of them, caring for them, and eventually logging and researching their activities. This became almost a full time job, and eventually something had to give. You will probably come out of the movie with a little more compassion for animals, and people.

We also watched The Story of the Weeping Camel. Done with the help of National Geographic World Films, it is a documentary that takes the shape of a great story. In the harsh Gobi desert of Mongolia, a family of herders is faced with a problem. One of their camels has had a hard delivery and rejects the white calf. While they try to feed the calf on their own, the family needs the mother to take the calf for it to survive. The family is desperate and sends for a violin player to take part in a ceremony to try to get the mother to take the calf. The movie is well filmed and shows a lot of the modern day changes that traditional peoples are going through. We both enjoyed it the movie a lot.

Apr 192005

I received my WP-FX701 yesterday. Stumbling through the manual’s pictures (it is in Japanese) I managed to figure most of it out, but found an Olympus manual that helped for the other parts. So far I am pretty impressed with the case. It feels very sturdy, and all of the camera controls are functional and easy to reach. It is a bit bigger than I was expecting, so I’m not sure how easily it will work in the dust for Burning Man. Perhaps I will just zip lock the camera and use the case when I know the dust will be bad.

I would love to head to the cove to try it out, but the water temp is 59F. Wee bit too chilly for me, not to mention the visibility this time of year is less than ideal.

I watched I Heart Huckabees last night. A strange film, but I really liked it. It is definitely not for everyone though. You almost need a checklist to see if one would enjoy it. Let me try:

1) you enjoy odd, meandering stories
2) you have a casual interest in determinism vs. existentialism
3) you side with greens more than industry

The third point may seem a bit strange, but I think it was fairly critical to a lot of the humour in the movie. I would try to expand on that a bit more, but I’m just not that smart right now.

Mar 142005

I was so excited. My birthday was coming up and I was lusting after a new LCD monitor. The Dell 2005FPW went on sale for $487, and I jumped.

Now I’m sad. My monitor arrived today, and it has a giant crack on the inside of the screen. It looks like a pixel spider set up shop in the top left corner. Replacement is on the way, but I was all geared up to try it out. To experience the joy of widescreen gaming. I is not as if I have it bad now though.. I have a 21″ Sun workstation monitor (sony tube) that I bought from a CAD shop a few years back. It is a beast of a monitor (will put your back out) but has a nice picture. I would love the 2405, but I can’t justify that price, I’ll wait.

I’ve always put a big emphasis on monitors, it seems silly to me to spend so little on the translator for your electronic information. I remember plugging my first 19″ monitor in (back when 15″ was normal), and being blown away at how big text was on the boot screen. I think I will have to upgrade to a 50″ DLP to get that kind of feeling again.

Mia phono seems to be decent so far. Signal and clarity seem good. I haven’t figured out how to connect the thing to my computer yet though. I tried with IrDA on a laptop at work, but it was a no go. I have a usb-bluetooth thingy on the way and usb-IrDA from someone else, so I should be able to get it up and running. I don’t care about the calendar or any of that crap, I just want to sync up my contacts so I don’t have to enter them all.

I played with the camera and memory card some more. The camera does surprisingly well outside, but inside it isn’t worth using. The memory card has been fun. My wall paper is Playa Manuel Antonio from my Costa Rica trip, and my ring tone is the howler monkey I recorded at night from my camera. The camera doesn’t do mp3, but it does resampled wavs, which don’t sound too bad on the phone. The camera also has a voice recorder that works surprisingly well.

Update: Managed to get it synced up, but found out that the software doesn’t work with outlook 2003 + patches. Uhg. Ah well, will have to find a pc around here to update it.

Anna, Elaine, and I went out to Borrego Springs yesterday to check out the wild flowers. Seemed to be a lot more than last year in the usual spots, but some of the spots were over grown with other stuff so you couldn’t see the flowers. Too much rain I guess. Should have some photos up tomorrow or the next day.

My favorite part, the citrus orchard perfume, was in full force. It was an assault on your nose – but in a good way. We picked up some bags of grapefruit, tangelos, and dates for 3 bucks a bag. I’m in heaven.

Anna and I managed to catch only one film at the Latin Film Fest this weekend, but hope to catch more this week. We watched Caribe, a Costa Rican film. It was not as polished as we are used to, but it was a good show. It made me want to visit the caribbean side of the country, where the film took place. We only did the center and the pacific side when we were in Costa Rica, it would seem a caribbean side visit is a must as well. So little time and money, so many places to visit.