I stopped for a bit in the bus station before starting my search for a place to stay. A man clad in nothing but denim, with a shaved head, and spiderweb tattoo on his face stared angrily at me. I was 21, had never been away from New England on my own, knew nobody in Dublin, and was getting the evil eye from a stranger who knew I wasn’t from around these parts. I decided to move on.
I was far from worldly as a child, or even into early adulthood for that matter. I’d spent most of my early life within New England (a few day stints in Washington D.C., Florida, and New Jersey aside). It had been a goal from a very young age to visit Ireland, the birthplace of my paternal ancestors. I’d always felt a connection to it – not only because of my Irish last name, but it felt mysterious to me. I grew up surrounded by my mother’s Italian family, hearing stories from my grandmother about her parents and other relatives from “the old country.” I was not as fortunate with the Irish side – my father had passed when I was 12 and neither of his parents made it past the mid 1940s or ’50s.
I found an opportunity to explore Ireland in the form of a poster hanging on the wall of my college’s student center. Happy looking students explored the countryside underneath the words “Burren College of Art.” I applied, was accepted, and a few short months later, departed from Boston for a four-month study abroad program in County Clare on the West coast.
Last night my wife and I saw Mad Max: Fury Road. Holy crap.
To have a film look so gorgeous, be so crazy, and retain the right elements and tone of films shot between 1979 and 1985 is a major achievement. Though they’re apples and oranges, I see Fury Road upping the ante for the new films in the Star Wars franchise.
Director George Miller has long been an enigma to me. He studied and completed his residency to become a medical doctor, working on film sets in his spare time. Not only did he eventually write and direct the first three Mad Max films, he also wrote both Babe films and directed the second (yes, the talking pig movies), and wrote and directed Happy Feet (yes, the penguin movies). Lorenzo’s Oil, The Witches of Eastwick, and a segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie are in there, too.
If you like the Mad Max series, make sure to see the documentary Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! It chronicles the early years of Australian cinema in a visually interesting way. The films profiled are so insane and graphic that I didn’t feel comfortable sharing a trailer here. As crazy as Fury Road felt, it’s nothing compared to some of the films from the region in the ’70s.
Nice work Mr. Miller. I’m glad a few more films planned in the series, too. Can’t wait for Mad Max: TheWasteland.
Song referenced: We Don’t Need Another Hero (from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome)
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I blogged about restaurants in New Mexico, despite not having been there when I started. Phew, that feels like a weight off my shoulders.
I was asked by my employer several years ago to write about the food New Mexico food scene either based on neighborhood, type of cuisine, or other linking factors. Luckily I’d already had some knowledge of Southwestern Cuisine, though New Mexico has some of it’s own distinct variations. Red and green chile is almost an obsession in the region and can be found in many restaurants. It’s essentially a stew that can be used as a sauce on everything from eggs to pizza. I’d had a version before on a trip to Colorado, though New Mexicans will tell you it’s not the same.
Have I ever mentioned that I love the 1962 French short film La Jetée by Chris Marker? It’s the main inspiration for 12 Monkeys, but was originally done with still frames.
Here’s a trailer from a recent showing:
Luckily, a dubbed version of the entire film can be viewed on Hulu if you have an account (or a little less legally on YouTube or Vimeo).
Movie referenced: La Jetée
WordPress has been a part of my life for nearly 9 years. This particular blog was created for a class I taught on free and easy website creation at my alma mater. I demonstrated Weebly, Wix, and Google Sites, but I spent the majority of time focused WordPress. I outlined the differences between WordPress.com and a self-hosted site running the software available from WordPress.org.
I’m very proud to say I now work at Automattic, the company that manages WordPress.com. Okay, it’s actually been sine last August and I’m just now getting into regular blogging.
WordPress was the solution to a problem I was having. I knew basic HTML and some CSS and had used those skills to create sites for sharing my artwork. If I wanted to make a change on one page, say the footer, I needed to make it on all of them. And there was no real easy solution to making galleries on a static HTML site. I started doing some reading and found WordPress and gave it a shot. I’ve lost count of the number of sites I’ve created for friends, clients, and myself, but it’s something that I truly love.
I work on a product called Jetpack, though not as a developer. I often test new releases, help with marketing materials, and, more recently, send merchandise to events around the world. Jetpack is another product I’ve used for years and it’s been fascinating to see the internal workings. The short explanation of what Jetpack does (a question I get frequently) is bridge the two versions of WordPress to add functionality to your self-hosted site.
I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds with this job. I certainly never expected to be here, but I’m glad that I am!
TV show referenced: Read All About It!
If there’s one thing I love, it’s movies. I’ve taken three film studies courses in my life and have made some short (not great) films/videos for classes, competitions, and events. However, I’ve found attending movies in the theater to be a bit of a challenge lately.
My wife, like many others, is a fan of the Hunger Games novels. We attended a screening in the theater of one of the films and discovered, much to our amazement, a newborn baby in a carseat at the night-time screening. The baby was well behaved, but at the slightest peep the parents would make a loud shushing noise, which continued through the entire film. We were expecting a child at the time, so don’t chalk this up to disliking babies – only parents with poor decision-making abilities.
We attended a showing of Selma, the moving story of Martin Luther King Jr.’s march in Alabama. The woman next to me chose to eat popcorn, which she’d popped at home, from a (very loud) plastic shopping bag. Ok, that was fine, movie theater popcorn is expensive. She washed it down with a can of Diet Coke, presumably also from home. Fine, I’ll give her that – nothing goes better with free popcorn than free soda. Once her mouth was devoid of popcorn, she started talking to her friend. Next up, rustling of the empty bag while she looked for items in her purse (note the plural ‘items’) for about 20 minutes. First came the Chapstick, then the tissues to blow her nose, and the Pièce de résistance, an eCigarette! Yes, she was smoking during this movie. I think I wouldn’t have minded one of these, but the pairing of talking, digging, and smoking was just exquisite.
My favorite people are what I call “the narrators” – people who feel a need to audibly ask questions or repeat lines from the film. The night before the 2015 Oscars, we had a chance to see The Imitation Game, the story of cracking codes produced by the Enigma machine and Alan Turing’s personal struggles. A graphic explained that World War II would go one for three more years after the code was cracked in 1942. “THREE MORE YEARS!” exclaimed one woman. Along with 1492, 1776, 1812, and 1865, 1945 is one of the few years you should remember from even the most basic of grade school education.
The demographic for these offenders seems to be over the age of 45 and traveling in pairs. They don’t just stick to the cinema either – they enjoy live theater and really bring out their narration A game for community theater.
Seven more years and I get to do what I want in a movie theater!
Movie referenced: Sound and Fury
In 2009 I volunteered to make an introduction video for an event at Maine College of Art. It took some time to come up with a concept, but after seeing a video by Company of Thieves (see below), I had my idea – a Rushmore parody! Although not common at the time, Wes Anderson’s technique has been mimicked more and more frequently over the years. I was never quite happy with the video quality, but it was it was a fun little project and I’ve always wanted to share it. Music is Painter Man by The Creation – the same band that performs Making Time that’s used in Rushmore.
Art class was a bit of an oasis for me. Despite being considered a reasonably bright kid, I didn’t excel at academics – reading on someone else’s schedule just wasn’t my idea of a good time. I’d been drawing and painting from an early age and found it was something that both came naturally and gave me a great sense of enjoyment.
It was in high school art class that I’d make some of the most meaningful friendships, even though many didn’t last beyond graduation. Two of those friendships came my freshman year in the form of two seniors – both of whom I couldn’t be more dislike. It was in painting class where they’d started performing parody songs to entertain others. They’d tap out the rhythms on desks, textbooks, or any other surface the could find. Topics included obscure literary references, chronicles of their experiences hanging out in Portland, and just about anything else under the sun.
I was so into it that I’d offered to help them record their music. It should be noted that this was a ludicrous situation that makes me sound like a teenage entrepreneur/record producer. I had neither the money for, nor did I posses, any recording equipment. My brother, a musician to this day, did own enough cables and splitters for me to assemble something that would work. In addition to recording, I started designing band t-shirts to make in art class, photographed practices, and designed the cassette insert. They chose the name Mint Chocolate Chip as a tongue-in-cheek reference to Vanilla Ice.
Over time they’d developed their musical abilities. To fill out the band, there was a rotating cast of other musicians playing lead guitar and drums (see also Spinal Tap’s drummer issues). We eventually outgrew the cassette recorder and foraged cables and made the decision to pay for a studio about 30 minutes south of our hometown. We made the journey one evening, along with a substitute drummer and cheap electronic drum pads and began the process. Now, I’d led a fairly sheltered life up until that point and, not having spent many nights away from home, I had no clue how to call long distance to alert my mother I’d be home late. It was, after all, the mid ’90s and we didn’t have them new-fangled iPhones and email and texting was in its infancy. After a few failed attempts, too embarrassed to admit my lack of knowledge of telephony, I gave up. I figured “I’d told her we’d be hours, what’s the worry?”
Recording went until the next morning and we were happy with the final tracks. We paid our $75 and headed home. My mother was waiting in the doorway, having stayed up all night, wondering if her 14-year-old son was still alive. I was immediately grounded. Any photoshoots would have to occur at my house, sans-drummer number two as he too had suffered the same punishment.
We eventually sold the cassettes for $5 a piece, easily making back the recording money. The mere mention of Mint Chocolate Chip to those who bought the cassette or were lucky enough to catch a performance will immediately bring a smile to their face.
Movie referenced: Cool as Ice