Archive for March, 2009

Friendtastic

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Mood: dithering  | Drinking: iced tea

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Obviously, today’s topic of discussion is facebook. BUT. Let’s get one item of business out of the way so as not to be talking around the pink elephant teetering on the coffee table, yes?

My updates have been pathetic of late. I hear you. I know this. It’s not accidental. It’s not even laziness, not really. Here’s the big secret: In about T-minus 14 days, give or take a few, there’s going to be a whole new ladonnawitmer.com banging about on the interwebs. So shiny with newness, you’ll need Olsen-sized shades to stand the glare. I swear.

Part of this fabulous new update will include an absolutely amazing blog space. So I have been loath to post in the old format when I know something so much better is just around the bend. Patience is a virtue I am lacking…

That said, I will do my damndest to post more regularly so you aren’t clicking here in vain. Okay? Okay. Now to the topic at hand.

Remember friendster? Oh, the internet days of yore. I joined friendster way back in the day when it was the new big thing, and the only one of its kind. And then I quickly abandoned it for myspace, newer bigger thing. I found lots of old friends on myspace, made a few new ones (hi, Jillie), and still maintain a space there.

But then, in 2006, facebook opened its door to every tom dick and mary, and we all began flocking to it. Myself included. The difference, I’ve found, with facebook, is that there are just SO many more people there.

My friends list includes a dude I went to kindergarten with, high school classmates I have neither seen nor spoken to since graduation, a girl I worked at Dairy Queen with in 1990, an ex-boyfriend from my college days, fellow Pulliam Fellows from 1994, my cousin from Indiana, my best friend from San Francisco and my new boss.

It’s a harrowing cross-section of my life, with people from literally every stage, every decade, every major experience.

I’ve had a delightful time reconnecting with some long-lost acquaintances, renewed a few meaningful friendships, and cyber-stalked people I’ve been curious about for years.

The question, “What ever happened to so-and-so?” has never been easier to answer. Now you know exactly what happened to them, and you have pictures to prove it.

Since I live 2,000 miles from where I grew up, I never run into anyone from high school at the gas station, never see an old college friend at the grocery store, never have to worry about an unexpected ex-sighting whilst wearing my fat jeans and a limp ponytail.

But that also means that I’m fairly well cut off from my old life/lives and all the news that goes with it. Facebook is a treasure trove of information, and I’m happy as a pig in shit wallowing in it.

Here’s the thing, though… I tend to be pretty conservative with my “add friend” button. If I see a little picture square of a bona fide long-lost friend, I’m only too happy to request their virtual friendship. I tend to leave old acquaintances and ancient co-workers to their own devices, however. If they send me a friend request, I’ll happily accept, but I’m not running around collecting names to drive up my friend count.

So I have trouble understanding why the little brother of a former classmate — someone whose name/face I know, but with whom I cannot recall having one single conversation — would want to be friends. Or rather, would want to add me to his friend list and then never, ever speak of it again.

If I request a friend, I usually follow up with a “OMG, I haven’t talked to you in 15 years, it’s so nice to see you, how are you, tell me all about your life, blah blah blah.”

What’s the social networking standard of conduct for virtual friendship? Shouldn’t there be some sort of actual socializing and/or networking going on? You would think. Right?

So heads up, if you’re one of the head and shoulders on my friends list, I’m gonna expect you to say hi once in awhile. That includes you, dude from college with whom I shared many an weekend adventure. Start yapping!

In the spirit of equal sharing, I will start writing on walls with abandon momentarily. Consider yourself warned!

Meanwhile, keep an eye on this space. I promise you the transformation will be well worth the wait!

-Lo, social networking butterfly.

Behind the Cinépoetry

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Mood: lagging behind | Drinking:  Lipton’s

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Someone recently asked me to explain the poem-cinépoem relationship. As in, which comes first? Are poems written specifically for a shoot, or does the shoot use a particular poem that lends itself to visual aid?

The answer is Yes. Both happen.

There have been times when we just want to film a new cinépoem. So I’ll rifle through my stack of finished poetry until I find one that strikes my fancy. Maybe its one that reminds me of a certain place or scenery. Maybe it’s a topic that’s close to my heart at the time. Maybe it just sounds like something that would be interesting to interpret through moving pictures. Whatever it is that I’m looking for, one particular poem will usually rise to the top of the stack.

Other times, I know that I’m going on a shoot to a particular location, so I’ll write a poem with a shoot in mind, molding it to fit the scene. Or we’ll have a new shooting technique that we want to try, so I’ll write for that. This is something that’s happening right now, actually.

My cinépoem partner, Michelle, and I have been discussing a new method we’d like to try out on a cinépoem. The catch is that it requires a very specific type of poem, a poem that lends itself to multiple interpretations. So far I’ve got the first stanza nailed down. The rest of it is still percolating. Once I get all the words pried out of my brain and onto paper, we can start planning the shoot.

Which leads to the next question: Who directs the cinépoem shoot? How do you know what you’re going to be filming?

Because we use my poetry for the cinépoems, I’m the one who comes up with something that we call the “shoot sheet”. The shoot sheet breaks the poem down into visual bites, the poem on one side of the page, the corresponding scenes we want to shoot on the other.

Sometimes the shoot sheet is simply a guide for general ideas that we want to capture. Other times it is a line by line, shot by shot, very literal script that we follow.

Most cinépoem shoots last only one day, although the prepartion for the shoot may begin months in advance. In fact, the writing, preparation, location scouting, volunteer recruiting, prop scavenging part of the process is more time-consuming than the shoot itself.

Then, once we’ve got the raw footage in the can, we have to begin the other time-consuming process — editing. Michelle and I both have very busy schedules, but we always edit together. So finding time when we both can sit down in front of a deck of computers and start splicing scenes together is always tricky. But we always manage.

We usually lay down the vocal track first, and then the music track, if we have it. Then we pull out the shoot sheet again and begin lining up scenes with sections of poetry. Of course, this is after Michelle has combed through all of the footage and picked the best and brightest takes for our use.

Usually for a 2 to 3 minute cinépoem, we’ll shoot 2 to 4 hours of footage. Multiple takes, multiple angles, B-roll fill-in footage — there’s a lot going on in those cinépoems.

We spend several weeks on the editing process, and then once everything’s finally polished to (near) perfection, we send our new little hatchling out into the world to meet all of you.

Speaking of which, there’s a new cinépoem about halfway through the editing process called Bright Neon Love. That should be online within the next month or so. Then in May we’ll begin shooting scenes for the next cinépoem. It doesn’t have a name yet, but it does have two new cast members: Jimmy and Lindsay. You’ll meet them soon.

So. That’s a bit of a look behind the scenes at our little cinépoem factory. Hope you enjoyed the tour.

-Lo, procrastinating on the percolating.

(P.S. That’s Abattoir on the big screen at last year’s Berkeley Film & Video Fest.)

Permanent Marker

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Mood: head above water | Drinking: fountain soda

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My first tattoo came on the heels of a breakup.

I didn’t do anything as reckless as inking a broken heart over my left boob. Just a tiny rose, thorns attached, hidden inside my left ankle. It was barely worth the 15 minutes of needle time, it was so small.

But I felt a bit rebellious, a smidge dangerous, a dash mysterious, and I wore it proudly, shunning socks in the chilly Midwest springtime — the better to show it off.

I was all of 23 and teetering on the brink of an identity explosion. I was a late bloomer when it came to so many things — my first kiss at age 19, my first drink at 22. But once I got started, I really made up for lost time.

I had spent so much time during my college years making good grades instead of discovering myself. By the time I hit age 23, I was ripe for discovery. The layers peeled off so quickly, one after the other, until I reached the bare and brazen core and got a good look at the girl I was, and the woman I wanted to be.

Somehow, that whole process involved some permanent ink.

I can’t say that my parents were too happy with the little pink rose, but it was nearly unnoticeable. Of course, the winged angel that showed up between my shoulder blades, and the spike-and-wire heart that appeared on my right ankle shortly thereafter were a bit more disconcerting.

Thirteen years later, I think my identity has been pretty well established, although I feel the need for constant improvement upon the woman I am. A tad more patience would be good, for one thing.

I wear the story of my becoming on all my appendages, now. A catalog of words and art that is as much a part of me as the heart that pounds beneath my skin.

The original rose is gone now, consumed by a black ink dragon, appropriately named “Rose”. The angel on my back remains, though as you can see, she’s no longer alone. I’ve kept the spiked heart, too, and scattered more black lines on my arms — a symbol for healing inside my left elbow, a bird on my shoulder, belladonna on my right arm, and my latin motto on my wrist. Boy and I shared a symbol on the eve of our wedding, stained into our lower back and now, for me, joined by two of Hilary Knight’s Beauty & the Beast birds.

I don’t know if the catalog will grow much bigger. These things are hard to predict.

I’ve heard some say that people get inked only to improve their self-esteem. I can’t, of course, speak for anyone but myself, and for myself I say these marks are not an improvement, not even a decoration. They are not there to make a statement.

My tattoos exist only for me. They are my map, my compass. A memoir. I’ll never forget where I have been, nor yet where I want to go. I bear the memory in my skin.

Tattoos are not for everyone, and they are a choice that should be made with care. Get that Tasmanian Devil smeared on your left butt cheek today and you may find yourself wishing for a laser tomorrow.

But for me, tattoos tell a story. And I’ve always loved a good story…

-Lo, who hopes it will be an epic tale of love and adventure.

P.S. Personal experience with the following tattoo artists allows me to give them the highest recommendations:

Jesse Tuesday  *  Laura Satana  * Rocio Arteaga  *  Marx Barry