Arts ID on KRCB 91 FM

Welcome to ArtsID, a new radio magazine about North Bay arts made in? collaboration with KRCB, the North Bay Bohemian and the Arts Council of Sonoma County. Each show comes bundled in a shiny new theme ? this episode’s is “Identity.” Pieces include Petaluma sculptor Nick Van Kridjt, performance activists The Rapture Right, musician Danny Sorrentino and his alter-ego, Lucky Buck , a John Moran theater piece, and an audio tale by David Templeton of his teenaged quest to win the girl of his dreams by become Prince Charming…and more. So much more. Hosted by Gretchen Giles and Daedalus Howell. Listen live via iTunes!

Lessons in Linkbait: 7 Things Sonoma Has in Common with a Unicorn

Because I’ve relinquished all private information about myself to the faceless confessional of Facebook’s privacy policy, the social network can ascertain with relative certainty what sort of online advertising might appeal to me. Me being someone identified as a 25-to-40-year-old, married media professional who lives in Northern California, born under the sign of Cancer, with one child and who prefers blogs over chats.

When not reducing my data and me with the blunted specificity of a personals ad, Facebook is trying to sell me services it thinks might appeal to me. The services often do, especially those that suggest how I might brush up my online persona, which, given my schedule of deadlines and diapers, is my primary means of extending my experience beyond the yam-smeared laptop upon which I,  and now my son, do our writing.

One recent ad read: “Need Catchy Blog Post Ideas?”

Well, hell yeah I do. In fact, I’ll see your “blog post ideas” and raise you “column ideas,” which I will later repurpose as blog ideas because I believe in recycling. You see, it’s not easy being green but it’s even harder being on deadline, let alone on Facebook, with a 1-year-old in one’s lap. Especially one who loves the “caps lock” key because he likes it when the little green light comes on.

My interest and laziness equally piqued, I clicked the ad and was delivered to the Linkbait Generator. “Linkbait,” by the way, is “search engine optimization” jargon for content on a blog or website that entices readers to place links to it on their own blog or website.

Inbound links to one’s content boosts its rankings on search engines: the more links to your content, the more important search engines such as Google perceive the content to be, resulting in better placement, exposure and eventual online celebrity.

So, given that my local writing is chiefly concerned with the vicissitudes of Sonoma, CA, I typed “Sonoma” into the generator. Behold, Sonoma-themed headlines as refracted through the cracked lens of a text-bot:

• The 10 commandments of Sonoma.

• 5 amazing things you probably didn’t know about Sonoma.

• 7 things Sonoma has in common with a unicorn.

• 9 ways Sonoma can help a total sissy survive in prison.

• 8 ways Sonoma could help you survive a zombie outbreak.

• Is Sonoma treated unfairly in the USA?

• 8 ways men try using Sonoma to get laid.

• 6 bits of Sonoma advice that will land you in the hospital.

• 10 surprising ways Sonoma will be different in 20 years.

• 8 ways Sonoma has been involved in political scandals.

The above 10 blog title suggestions are reprinted here in the order in which they were generated and have not been enhanced in anyway. I mean, how could one improve upon “7 things Sonoma has in common with a unicorn?” I’ve begun my unicorn list already – Number One: Nothing.

Some of the other suggestions, including the “10 surprising ways Sonoma will be different in 20 years,” and “Amazing things you probably didn’t know about Sonoma,” I swear have already been headlines in the Sonoma Index-Tribune. Other suggestions, like “The 10 Commandments of Sonoma,” are worthy of further consideration. The first commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Use Linkbait Generator for column or blog ideas.” The Second Commandment, “Thou Shalt Refrain from Using Facebook while on Deadline.”

How to Get Lost in Sonoma

There are few invitations to adventure more alluring than a diamond-shaped orange road-sign inscribed in sans-serif font. For us workaday chaps, for whom the morning commute represents the pinnacle of one’s quotidian exposure to danger and intrigue, it hardly matters what’s written on the sign. Of course, “Falling Rocks,” has a little more implicit danger than “Soft shoulder,” though the latter certainly compensates with its flicker of intrigue. By far the most interesting signs are the ones that read “Detour,” since they interrupt our well-established patterns and force us to act – albeit, often by merely turning left – but who knows what lays beyond? I certainly didn’t.

Since the real estate market exiled me in the Springs, I’ve forgotten the “nuisance of nuance” that is Sonoma’s road plan – or as often – it’s seeming lack of it. I no longer distinguish between East and West; my mental map of Sonoma simply consists of “here” and “there.” And “there” can be a relative labyrinth when you throw in a detour sign or two.

One would think that a guy named Daedalus would have a handle on labyrinths, seeing as the name comes from the mythological Greek character said to have invented the notion (in his case, to contain the Minotaur and sundry other mythic miscreants). Not I, at least not when it came to navigating the detour set up on Fifth Street West this week. This is in no way a criticism of the fine people who performed the open-heart surgery on the artery between Fifth Street West and West Spain last week, in particular, the stretch of street, bisected by the bike path. Of the two main arteries to-and-from the Springs, this is my preferred route, not least of which because its rectilinear pathway usually adheres to a predictable grid (the sweeping arc of Hwy. 12 that splinters into Riverside Drive has always made me nervous, in part because of the sign on the landscaped island dividing the road which reads “Xeriscape,” a word which looks like space-alien lingo for “We’re buried here”).

When either Fifth Street West or any length of Highway 12 is closed for more than a couple of minutes, chaos ensues. Unless, of course, there’s a “Detour” sign – though in my case, it should be footnoted with the disclaimer, “Hope you packed a lunch because you will be driving in circles for the next half-an-hour.”

It’s my own fault. I drive like a lemming, I merely followed the car in front of me, which in turn was following the car in front of it, which was apparently driven by a blind person. This is too bad because there are many sights worth seeing when traveling down Lasuen Drive, where our detour began. For example, I’d never seen Grace Baptist Church Fellowship Hall before and its signage regarding the “New Wine Fellowship.” I’m assuming they don’t have a tasting room but can testify that I’ve “seen the light” refracted through a wine glass on a few occasions and am happy to know they’re there.

Our lost caravan didn’t stop at Grace, or our other geographic discovery, Olsen Park. We sallied forth, the blind leading the blind, up Joaquin Drive, where I spied another band of detoured motorists circling Sherman Court, unaware that they were following their own tail, so to speak. As we watched them turning in this existential gyre, our collective instinct to help redirect them was waylaid by the mutual assessment that they’d just slow-up our own escape. So, we left them to perish.

Ay, if only we had shown some compassion. Our karma was served up soon enough when we found ourselves trapped in the cul de sac that caps Mitchell Way, unable to re-enter the stream of cars heading toward freedom. The other drivers had likely witnessed our callous forsaking of the Sherman Court Convoy (may they rest in peace) and proceeded to block we Mitchell Way Wanderers from entering the flow of traffic.

It is from there that I write you now, dear readers. Please, for the love of God, show some mercy. Or at least, the way to Linda Drive.

iPhone feature film on horizon?

Dial M for Movie

Zealous geeks have their own version of the Rapture and Armageddon, neither of which is terribly apocalyptic unless, you know, one needs to reboot HAL or something. If this were an SAT-style analogy, it would go something like “Armageddon is to the Singularity as the Rapture is to ______.” The correct answer? (a) Convergence; (b) “OMG, that girl looks like Sailor Moon and now I’m too petrified to answer due to my anime-boner.” To nonbelievers, unversed in geek-speak, the correct answer is (a) convergence, often defined as a synergistic confluence of once-discrete technologies into greater efficiencies when combined. Or, as was the ambition but a decade ago, streaming internet movies on TV.

In the late ’90s, convergence was something of a holy grail for both evangelical and more mercenary geeks alike. The former saw the inevitable marriage of old and new media as a byproduct of technology’s natural evolution toward simplicity, if not sublimity. The latter knew it was the best way to pump product directly to the consumer, who, in this case, wouldn’t have to leave the couch. Fast-forward 10 years and lo, there’s an app for that.

“Hi, John Ciancutti, VP of personalization technology, here,” read a recent post on the official Netflix blog. “Today, I had the unique opportunity to present the app we’re working on for iPhone at the Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference in San Francisco.”

According to Ciancutti, geeks will soon stream the sort of content into their iPhones that was once only available on the big screen (or, at least, the bigger screen). The announcement from the Los Gatos?based online movie hub came on the heels of Steve Jobs’ introduction of the iPhone 4. Apple is promoting its latest gadget with the smug tag, “This changes everything. Again.” And, yes, it probably will, but in ways the convergent-minded geeks might not expect. With the proper app, the new iPhone 4 doesn’t simply put the movie theater in one’s pocket; it also crams in the movie making.

The new iPhone not only shoots HD video, it comes bundled with a mobile version of iMovie, Apple’s desktop editing software, which is a slightly lower rent version of its professional grade Final Cut Pro suite, the industry standard. At $200, iPhone 4 doesn’t quite answer Jean Cocteau’s admonition that “film will only become art when the materials are as inexpensive as pencil and paper,” but it’s getting closer.

Now the web is atwitter with speculation about how quickly some smart-phone Fellini will claim to have produced the first feature film on an iPhone 4. Previous iterations of the iPhone have resulted in an abundance of similar, if less ambitious, efforts. Among them is a music video posted to YouTube in late 2008 garrulously titled “World’s 1st music video shot on an iPhone?Newteknowledge by GOSHone.

Its director claims the minute-and-half clip was “shot entirely on a jailbroken iPhone 3G” as a video for GOSHone’s album ctrl_alt_ego. Six months later, an arguably more successful effort posted by BJSRmusic boasted that it was shot on the then recently released iPhone 3GS. Neither filmmakers seemed as concerned with their video’s content as they were about bragging rights, lest one think “Music Video Shot on iPhone” is a groovy name for a song.

Heretofore, no one has claimed that they have made an iPhone 4 video, let alone a feature, because the device won’t be released until next week. But when it drops, let’s hope Digital Age auteurs hew more to Cocteau’s vision of inexpensive filmmaking than engage in some hasty race to YouTube’s upload page.

As Francis Ford Coppola famously opined 20 years ago, “To me, the great hope is that now these little video recorders are around and people who normally wouldn’t make movies are going to be making them. And suddenly, one day, some little fat girl in Ohio is going to . . . make a beautiful film with her father’s camcorder, and for once, the so-called professionalism about movies will be destroyed, forever, and it will really become an art form.”

In the very least, we can watch the iPhone 4 destroy professionalism as we patiently await a true convergence of artist and technology with an iPhone feature film. Otherwise, you’re just phoning it in.

Dial M for Movie: Will iPhone change how we make movies?

Zealous geeks have their own version of the Rapture and Armageddon, neither of which is terribly apocalyptic unless, you know, one needs to reboot HAL or something. If this were an SAT-style analogy, it would go something like “Armageddon is to the Singularity as the Rapture is to ______.” The correct answer? (a) Convergence; (b) “OMG, that girl looks like Sailor Moon and now I’m too petrified to answer due to my anime-boner.” To nonbelievers, unversed in geek-speak, the correct answer is (a) convergence, often defined as a synergistic confluence of once-discrete technologies into greater efficiencies when combined. Or, as was the ambition but a decade ago, streaming internet movies on TV.

In the late ’90s, convergence was something of a holy grail for both evangelical and more mercenary geeks alike. The former saw the inevitable marriage of old and new media as a byproduct of technology’s natural evolution toward simplicity, if not sublimity. The latter knew it was the best way to pump product directly to the consumer, who, in this case, wouldn’t have to leave the couch. Fast-forward 10 years and lo, there’s an app for that.

“Hi, John Ciancutti, VP of personalization technology, here,” read a recent post on the official Netflix blog. “Today, I had the unique opportunity to present the app we’re working on for iPhone at the Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference in San Francisco.”

According to Ciancutti, geeks will soon stream the sort of content into their iPhones that was once only available on the big screen (or, at least, the bigger screen). The announcement from the Los Gatos?based online movie hub came on the heels of Steve Jobs’ introduction of the iPhone 4. Apple is promoting its latest gadget with the smug tag, “This changes everything. Again.” And, yes, it probably will, but in ways the convergent-minded geeks might not expect. With the proper app, the new iPhone 4 doesn’t simply put the movie theater in one’s pocket; it also crams in the movie making.

The new iPhone not only shoots HD video, it comes bundled with a mobile version of iMovie, Apple’s desktop editing software, which is a slightly lower rent version of its professional grade Final Cut Pro suite, the industry standard. At $200, iPhone 4 doesn’t quite answer Jean Cocteau’s admonition that “film will only become art when the materials are as inexpensive as pencil and paper,” but it’s getting closer.

Now the web is atwitter with speculation about how quickly some smart-phone Fellini will claim to have produced the first feature film on an iPhone 4. Previous iterations of the iPhone have resulted in an abundance of similar, if less ambitious, efforts. Among them is a music video posted to YouTube in late 2008 garrulously titled “World’s 1st music video shot on an iPhone?Newteknowledge by GOSHone.

Its director claims the minute-and-half clip was “shot entirely on a jailbroken iPhone 3G” as a video for GOSHone’s album ctrl_alt_ego. Six months later, an arguably more successful effort posted by BJSRmusic boasted that it was shot on the then recently released iPhone 3GS. Neither filmmakers seemed as concerned with their video’s content as they were about bragging rights, lest one think “Music Video Shot on iPhone” is a groovy name for a song.

Heretofore, no one has claimed that they have made an iPhone 4 video, let alone a feature, because the device won’t be released until next week. But when it drops, let’s hope Digital Age auteurs hew more to Cocteau’s vision of inexpensive filmmaking than engage in some hasty race to YouTube’s upload page.

As Francis Ford Coppola famously opined 20 years ago, “To me, the great hope is that now these little video recorders are around and people who normally wouldn’t make movies are going to be making them. And suddenly, one day, some little fat girl in Ohio is going to . . . make a beautiful film with her father’s camcorder, and for once, the so-called professionalism about movies will be destroyed, forever, and it will really become an art form.”

In the very least, we can watch the iPhone 4 destroy professionalism as we patiently await a true convergence of artist and technology. Otherwise, you’re just phoning it in.