Sunday, August 20, 2006


Saw this new indie movie at Embarcadeo Cinemas last night. It's an earnest & affectionate portrait of a working class Hispanic family in LA's Echo Park. The movie is nearly plotless & is done in the neo-realist style, with many of the performances apparently by non-professionals. I got the idea from the movie that gays are the "bad guys" in the gentrification of the Echo Park neighborhood.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Super Vision

Last night I attended a performance of Super Vision at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Going in, I didn't know anything about it other than that it looked very high-tech. And indeed this was probably the most high-tech multimedia show I've ever seen. The actors perform between 2 screen which move & have computer generated & real-time images projected on them. The technicians controlling the visual & audio effects sit in darkness on stage, making the process look somewhat transparent. 2 other actors perform to video cameras at the edges of the stage & interact with the "real" characters via their projected performances.

The show was often stunning to watch, but the script was thin. The script raises issues rather than developing characters or a compelling story lines. The only character that came across as a warm human being was the sassy Sri Lankan grandma who appears on a Web cam. Actually I thought the most powerful part of the show was its opening monologue. With the help of the Claritas database, an actor profiled the audience using information gleaned from credit cards used to pay for tickets for the show. This was a truly vivid illustration of the issues of data privacy.

An Inconvenient Truth

Finally saw the Al Gore movie about global warming. It's a film of him delivering his illustrated talk to a studio audience, interspersed with his personal reflections about his family & growing up on is father's ranch. No new information here, though the movie is not the downer that one would expect. The facts are grim, but at least the information is out there. Gore's criticism of the present administration's environmental policy is not stated nearly as strongly as it might have been. Probably he's trying not to offend anyone.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Woman's Will presents 12th Night

Saw Twelfth Night at Dolores Parkin the afternoon. & what a beautiful day to be in the park too. Production was put on by the cleverly named "Woman's Will", which is an all-female company. I didn't feel that having an all-female cast necessarily made for a revelatory production, but this was a very enjoyable performance, regardless of the gender casting. Each character was made distinct, & the action never lagged. The performances were all strong. In particular, the Feste, Samantha Chanse, was an amazingly confident performer.

There was something very solid about the direction. I felt everyone really understood the play & that none of the main themes had been neglected.

It was a completely actor-driven event. You got the feeling that a dozen actors just showed up, pitched their set & got to it. Even the stage manager stepped in to play an officer & supplied stage music.

The main drawback was just that it was outdoors in Dolores Park, so the performance had to compete with traffic noise, a stray dog trotting through the playing area, a birthday party with screaming kids, & even a domestic argument. & unless you are very close & the actor is speaking right in your direction, you can't hear a thing. I was very sorry not to be able to hear Feste's singing.

Iridium Flare 65

Last night I walked out to the Marina Green, found a spot away from street lamps, & was able to see this Iridium Flare as it went by:

Date: 05 Aug
Local time: 21:13:12
Intensity: -2
Alt.: 62°
Azimuth: 93° (E )
Distance to flare center: 24.3 km (W)
Intensity at flare center: -8
satellite: Iridium 65
East of zenith
East of Vega (brightest star near zenith)
West of Milky Way

It looked about as bright as the nearest bright star, which I'm told was Vega. I spotted it for about 8 seconds as it slowly brightened then dimmed.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Anniversary Year

It seems like every month I'm reading about another anniversary celebration for this year.
  • Mozart: 350th birthday

  • Nikolai Tesla: 150th birthday

  • Dmitri Shostakovich: 100th birthday

  • Janet Gaynor: 100th birthday

  • Rembrandt: 400th birthday

  • San Francisco Earthquake & Fire: 100th anniversary

  • San Francisco Japantown: 100th anniversary

  • Samuel Beckett: 100th birthday

  • John Huston: 100th birthday

  • George Bernard Shaw: 150th birthday

  • Bertolt Brecht: 50th anniversary of his death

Is this really such a big year, or are people just in the mood to commemorate?