Meet Johnny Barnes – The Happy Man


Take ten minutes of your day to watch this. You’ll have a better day, most certainly.

(Vimeo Link)

(via mental_floss)

Star Wars Begins


Sir Alec Guinness deemed George Lucas’ dialogue “rather creaky, but I kept turning the pages…” Case in point: in the pivotal scene where he and Luke are in Obi-Wan’s cave, the original line is: “You must do what you feel.”

Guinness, in the fashion of the best actors, simply and wonderfully added …”what is right, of course.” And it was instantly improved. “You must do what you feel is right, of course.”

This and many more insider secrets of the making of Star Wars is available thanks to a superfan named Jambe Davdar. (Han Solo smoking a cigarette in the cockpit of the Millenium Falcon is not to be missed.)  Cinematical has all 14 parts of this not-for-profit documentary at their site. There are many things the Jawa-type scavengers among us have seen before, but there’s also a lot of new stuff. Highly recommended for fans.

It goes without saying (and the ensuing guilt trip) that many Bothans died to bring us this information.


The Best Part of I’m Still Here


Having heard much about Casey Affleck’s fauxumentary about Joaquin Phoenix’s transformation from actor to hip hop star, I felt I was prepared to finally see I’m Not Here with a firm attitude of “Yeah, Right.” I have to say the final product is at times hilarious, flat, annoying, brilliant, and insightful. But hands-down, my favorite part is when Edward James Olmos confers with our hapless hero to offer him some advice. The scene involves a cut where Joaquin ostensibly and silently offers up his latest rhyme as Olmos’ words flow over it.

That’s you, drops of water and you’re on top of the mountain of success. But one day you start sliding down the mountain and you think wait a minute; I’m a mountain top water drop. I don’t belong in this valley, this river, this low dark ocean with all these drops of water. Then one day it gets hot and you slowly evaporate into air, way up, higher than any mountain top, all the way to the heavens. Then you understand that it was at your lowest that you were closest to God. Life’s a journey that goes round and round and the end is closest to the beginning. So if it’s change you need, relish the journey.

Then he tells “JP” that when the spotlights are on him, the inner light can’t be seen; it can only be illuminated during the dark times.

I’m not sure, but I’d bet that was scripted. Like the whole faux thing, an exposition of fame crafted by Phoenix and Affleck. But damn, it’s good.

Plastic Migration


(YouTube Link)

This amazing mockumentary, narrated by Jeremy Irons, reminds us of the intentions of the plastic bag. It also reminds me of a particular segment from George Carlin’s brilliant piece, “The Planet is Fine.”

The planet will be here for a long, long, LONG time after we’re gone, and it will heal itself, it will cleanse itself, ’cause that’s what it does. It’s a self-correcting system. The air and the water will recover, the earth will be renewed, and if it’s true that plastic is not degradable, well, the planet will simply incorporate plastic into a new pardigm: the earth plus plastic. The earth doesn’t share our prejudice towards plastic. Plastic came out of the earth. The earth probably sees plastic as just another one of its children. Could be the only reason the earth allowed us to be spawned from it in the first place. It wanted plastic for itself. Didn’t know how to make it. Needed us. Could be the answer to our age-old egocentric philosophical question, “Why are we here?” Plastic…asshole.

via BoingBoing.

Dogtown and Z-Boys


There are hundreds of examples of a good documentary. Very few stand out as illuminating as others, and Dogtown and Z-Boys is one of the best. It incorporates all of the elements of a powerful doc. It educates, it has an interesting topic, and it moves the audience through exposing various details of the topic. But the best, most powerful docs, are the ones that really use the freedom of editing and music.

(YouTube Link)

In this look back at an incredible period in the evolution of skateboarding, Stacy Peralta and his old pals from Dogtown are presented in an editing template that is its own being. The excellent blending of interviews, still photos, video footage from the 1970s, a soundtrack to die for, and some clever film editing effects propels the whole experience. This is enhanced by the intimate stories each of these people have to tell.

As I previously noted, Lords of Dogtown is still up, along with this original at Crackle. It’s interesting to compare the two; Jeff Ho, for instance, is not included in the fictional account. The real Z-Boys make obscure appearances throughout Lords, including a scene where Jay Adams interacts with Emile Hirsch, playing young Jay. And also, the actor who played Tony Alva in Lords looks a helluva lot just like him. I also love how both movies payed homage to the things that made the team great, from Pacific Ocean Park, to the fan who was dying of cancer. Watch the documentary first, then the true-to-its-source movie.

Dogtown and Z-Boys

Lords of Dogtown

The Mentawai: A Fantastic Photographer’s Journey


This is the most mesmerizing, unexpectedly educational video I saw today. Shamans and tattoos and Cultural Relativism, oh my!

(Vimeo Link)

Watch the Skies


(YouTube Link)

Here’s a super-short documentary about the making of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It’s amazing what memories you can stir up by finding things on YouTube; I totally remember the poster advertising this, mid 1977.

The Fascinating Tale of the Kee Bird


Once upon a time I was most interested in the world of aviation.  I was actually contemplating pursuing a career as a helicopter pilot, and had always found myself gravitating to the lore of flight machines.  As kind of a fluke, I ended up in the US Navy as an airman loading ordnance onto planes; this led to other duties such as towing jets and the corrosion control/painting of the A-6 Intruder, a fine bird.  The films of Steven Spielberg had a role as well, like a shared love of all things WWII aviation.

Nova’s B-29 Frozen in Time, about the Kee Bird, renewed my geek affair with aircraft in one fell swoop.  Here’s Part 1, narrated by Richard Crenna (!):

(YouTube Link)

The story is romantic, and tragic.  It’s the epitome of FAIL, but it’s so very inspiring.  Darryl Greenamyer was a test pilot and B-29 enthusiast who, after learning about a certain abandoned bomber called the Kee Bird that emergency-landed 50 years hence in Greenland, decided to launch a rescue mission.  With his long time mechanic on board, a crew of skilled workers, and a lot of financing to get the seemingly simple task done, he delved into the harsh Greenland waste.

The ensuing voyage of frustration, drama, determination and ultimate failure shines a light on the nature of strength.  You can see what happens as you watch the videos (linked in each part at the YT link), and perhaps relate to efforts and best laid plans… an agent at my office wrote on her whiteboard: “There Is No Struggle Without Strength.”  It is so true, and sometimes the struggle turns out okay.

Like it did for me today.  After a month of negotiating, salvaging failed sales, dealing with scared and angry people, and a lot of hard work, my sellers signed today, and their buyers sign Tuesday.  It was a struggle, but I was strong.  And for some reason, this all reminds me of Darryl Greenamyer and his Kee Bird dream.

Buy it on Amazon.



International Heavy Metal


Here’s a snip from Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas:

In truth, talking to members of Journey doesn’t interest me that much; I much prefer chatting with my Croatian waiter, as he seems to know a great deal about international politics and international heavy metal.  He bristles when I tell him I like KISS.  “Oof,” guffaws Zeljko.  “That is only show! ‘I was made for loving you’?  Oof.  That is no rock.  AC/DC is rock, but only from Bon Scott era, and maybe on Back in Black.  Saxon, Judas Priest, these are the rock bands.”

Zeljko works on this Carnival cruise line because Serbians bombed his house during the ’90s.  Now he supports his wife and kids by refilling my glass with ice water and sending his paycheck across the Atlantic.  This makes me so depressed that I briefly consider buying some Saxon records.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.