Monday, March 31, 2008

156. Knowing About Knowing Geology, A First Day of Geo 2 with Dr. Art Sylvester

Geology 2 (foundations of geology) narrative-ish lecture notes from Dr. Sylvester. Live. Today. Very polished. Glad I went. Please check out my sketch notes, if you feel like it.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

155. Incognito and Loose Strings in Irvine and Lake Forest, A Mindset of Confusion

It's funny how every single time you enter a new zone of space, it's as if your mind automatically imposes this "web of time" upon space, trying to figure out "where you left off." I am driving through Irvine and my mind is going through flashbacks.

The hardest road is to develop your own voice, independently, and strategically implement this voice into society. So, I'm trying to start with some summer internships....

I just found out that I wasn't chosen for the Conservation Internship this summer. This really threw me off. I haven't been able to work for the last two hours. I have every right to have Electronocommunicatiphobia or ECP. Because usually there are time-bombs waiting in my email account, which ultimately explode in my face.

I started to choke ever since Robert Irion told me over a month ago that I would be competing with one of his UC Santa Cruz science writing students (UCSC and MIT have the best science writing programs in the whole country!). My participation in an internship is an option. For those students, and internship is mandatory. I knew that Sarah Simpson (a science writer and editor for Earth Sciences in Scientific America) called in and put in a good word for me. I was slacking in terms of following up, simply because I was stressed out from getting into graduate school at UC Santa Barbara. And now that I am in, this happens. I'm going through massive withdrawal. I'm following up with the other internships this Monday, and if those don't work out, I am offer to volunteer at Conservation and I would take initiative to raise stipend money myself. I have been meditating about that internship for over a year now, and that's not healthy. And when I get some fixation... it's hard to get it out of my head until I actually do it. My other options are Slate, the National Park Service at Point Reyes, and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) in Washington, DC. I am up for game for any of these opportunities.

Widygigs? What would you do if you got into graduate school? I realized this is a five-year, if not life-long pursuit.

This was supposed to be my spring break: stay in a position of innocent bliss. I feel like I'm being pulled forward too fast sometimes. I need to slow down and backtrack. Now that I am returning to UCSB, in order to move forward, I need to backtrack. I need to rewind the clock and do everything all over again... and this time... very well. That is all I have been doing: rewinding the clock.

Please be kind
Do rewind
All the tangled layers
Of Space and Time
Back to the point
Of origin
For where it begins
Is where it ends
Is where it begins
All over again.

Thanks to Michel Gondry for inspiring me. I only know him and his production team through a digital medium. As humane as it can get. I had a dream last night that I met Director/Screenwriter Gondry. It was a wonderful dream. It's an idealism I must work very hard to achieve.

As for a new environment... I have been working hard re-organizing files in my computer. It's like spacetime travel. I even composed a song called "an Event Horizons of Emotion / Massive Resurrection / I have returned to show what I've learned / I have returned to repent for my sins / an Event Horizons of Emotion / can be bottled into one experience?" Something like that. That's my mind around midnight last night. Pretty danged poetic. Cheezy too?

I am having a hard time focusing in Irvine because of the past, the present, and the future. I have written about the future: my rejection at Conservation. And other possible alternatives. The recent past? Well, I have been well-taken care of in Corona by my close aunt and uncle Jean and Chuck. Jean is my father's cousin, so technically they are second-aunts and uncles, but I'll be danged, they are some of the closest relatives I have got (besides my mom, dad, sister, grandfather, and granduncle). I am so thankful they have helped me out so much the past quarter--working in a room in their house is a wonderful alternative to wasting money at a Motel 6 (my last experience involved unexpected "phone sexual harrassment" from a guy who posed as a Motel 6 employee, so I have a bit of Motel 6 phobia at this moment). During the last week, Colleen came over (Colleen is Jean and Chuck's daughter who they had not contact with in a while) and that was a nice reunion. Sometimes though, it's tought to get close to family because sometimes people say things that are very hurtful. Two times ago, Jean made comments on my life--pertaining to the trade-off between pursuing an academic career versus getting married and having kids. Uhmmm. Getting married and having kids is cliche and is the root of environmental problems. So, uhmmm, I think I would kill myself if I went that route. I remember her saying, "Oh, you'll catch up later."

I appreciate people when they provide advice to me about how to improve myself. But I do NOT appreciate people who impose THEIR VALUES ON MY LIFE... AND TELL ME WHAT TO DO. Past situations? Well, Jean, for one, imposing her values on how I should live my life on what is the "right" thing to do in terms of career and family. Another situation recently happened. I bought a bike from a contractor named Richard (who is selling a house on Del Playa) who in the end of the phone call told me that "when you graduate from school, you will graduate into nothing." Richard wanted me involved in the making of his film: Foreclosure on Del Playa, which will document a case study of the poor practices of banks and the government in economic management the last few years. Booms and crashes of housing, etcetera. He wanted actors, beach babes, Isla Vista Halloween scene, and a splash of environmental messaging too. Uh-huh. He and his brother were very enthusiastic and were gung-ho about pursuing such a film. I started becoming less enthusiastic, and then he made a comment about "what I am doing with my life and screw academia" and somehow his venue has more significance than my own priorities. Huh. And I am not calling HIM back again. No frickin' way.

A third situation was the pushy personality of this owner of a house in Ellwood (Goleta) I was renting a room at. I was supposed to stay there the whole year but ended up moving out in the middle of spring quarter, partly because this guy was acting like he could control what I was doing with my academic life. This guy was stuck with his kids all day. I think I'd rather listen to professors and people who are "out in the field" and not raising kids 24-7.

So, then this week in Corona, when Colleen was present, Jean says out of the blue, "Oh, it looks like you've gained weight." First off, I already KNOW that. I wasn't eating well the last month or so due to subliminal stress with the graduate school situation. The last thing I needed was someone else to acknowledge my biomass situation. I'm presently deflating, thank you. Secondly, why did she have to say this in front of Colleen and Chuck? Jean has an ability to say tactless things in front of people that have been hurtful to me. Maybe I'm just too sensitive. Well, that type of comment would piss off any female.

Then Jean offered to cut my hair again. No, no, NO!!! I am already having problems with externalized gender identity (last week I was called "sir" again in the grocery store), so I'll be dxmmed I'm keeping the hair.

After Jean made these comments, my mentality went sour, and I wasn't particularly happy being in Corona. So I left, and here I am: Incognito in Irvine. Loose-stringed in Lake Forest. There are a few epiphanies I go through every single time I come to Orange County: (1) BMW. Mercedes. Lexus. Infinity. Subaru. Another BMW. Yes. I am the used Subaru. In the name of automobile pretentiousness and fake-blond girls with bug-eyed sunglasses. (2) The streets are wide here. (3) But the weather is great.

Then I have bad taste in my mouth because of recent past memories and loose strings. (1) Lillian and the neighborhood. Lillian Shaw is a real-estate agent in Lake Forest I know through my two good friends from UCSB: Kang-Kuen (Meg) and Kang-yu (Connie) Ni (Meg's now getting a Ph.D. in physics in Boulder, and Connie's getting a Ph.D. in mathematics at UCLA). I need to follow up with Lillian. She helped me during my year of struggle at UC Riverside (2005-2006). Then there's California Sound Studios, Jesse, Jeff Timons, etcetera. I need to follow up with them. There were some mis-understandings in the past that would be nice to resolve. And then? The last unresolved string is Matt-and-Mike situation. Matt Olsewski is a UC Irvine undergrad who had the "angelic heart" to help me finish my rock crab film by letting me use his UC Irvine account on a mac computer with final cut pro. He and his housemate Mike even went far enough to let me crash on their couch for a few nights. Matt, combined with the film, Waking Life, inspired me to create the song "Humanity Anomalous," which ultimately had use and meaning far beyond this anomalous experience. I met up with Matt a few times after the Blue Horizons program (in September) and then things started to get weird and sour. Haven't talked since. Males go through mental blocks and then they become rude and intolerable to be around. From angel to devil. Same with the B***t and S**h situation a couple of years back. After a while, there's method to the madness of human behavior (of opposite sexes, more particularly).

Interactions with male specimens are frustrating. You just want to be friends, but "evolutionary wiring" interferes with more rational transactions and then things get too close and/or sticky and then you need to take a step back and then you have a bad taste in your mouth. It's difficult to "just be friends." You ruined the relationship. There's no going back. That's the problem with time. The whole evolutionary ratchet. Second chances aren't really second chances. They were always based on the condition of the first failed trial.

Staying "platonic" is the best way to go. I learned the word "platonic" from Craigslist. You'd think I would know what it meant a long time ago, but I guess I am naive and untrained in some aspects of life....

Moving on. Now that I have written a little about these "loose strings" of Incognito in Irvine, I feel more focused and ready to resume organizing old files... a.k.a. "rewinding the clock."

Otherwise, Orange County is open county, an urban jungle left for me to explore....

Monday, March 24, 2008

154. "WWYDIYGIGS?" pronounced "Wideegigs" a.k.a. What Would You Do If You Got Into Graduate School?"

Where it begins
Is where it ends
Is where it begins
All over again.

I'm at a Starbucks in Corona, California. I was planning on going to Irvine, but I'm feeling weak and my plans for the day were "ruined." I'm completing a segment of Biologically Incorrect the Unfilmed Movie: "Easter Sunday I get a ticket from the UC Riverside parking services, and the next day I get accepted to graduate school... Bren, UC Santa Barbara. [I hear some lyrics from Alanis Morisette "Isn't it ironic"] I pre-maturely celebrated this occasion: last night I pigged out on cheese, meat, corn flakes, and onions... and carrots... unfortunately out of stress, not celebration. And a couple days before that I purchased the older version of 15" macbook pro to establish near-complete technological self-sufficiency in film. I just have to download final cupt pro. So now, instead of 'celebrating,' I need to mentally and physically deflate from past anxiety and acquire a new batch of anxiety. My cognitive tangled web derived from UC Riverside is now being lifted and re-located to UC Santa Barbara, except there, the web isn't so tangled. Things seem to make a lot more sense. It's where my tangled web has organized in the past. It's where my tangled web will organize now."

I guess I should capture this moment, just like I did with my 4-something year reunion with Armand Kuris. I'll try not to make this an Oprah-Winfrey moment, more like a "I-just-got-tested-out-and-beaten-up-real-bad-so-therefore-join-the-gang" type of plot. I was actually at a Kinkos in Corona (a couple miles down south Ontario Ave.) and I was going to check my emails to email UC Riverside a satirical image in concern of parking services practices on holidays... when suddenly I see this suspicious email from Maria Gordon that says "Congratulations!" Oh shxt.

So, as any reasonable, curious person would do, you would check the email to see what's up. Maria informed me that I was admitted into Bren. Yes, yes, yes! Based on this premise, your entire worldview must change. One must feel a bit uprooted. I started to write an email to Maria. I could feel all over y body a surge of energy. I could no longer stand still. I was barely typing out words to Maria. I barely sounded coherent. I raced out to the car, charged my cell phone, and "screamed" to Bub on the phone. He barely understood what I was saying, and then he told me to call Mumsy. And so I did. I was "calm": "So, Mama. I have good news. You have three chances to guess." She guessed it the first shot. I whined, "Am I that obvious?"

There was an older lady with a non-Californian accent sitting right next to the booth I was working at, and I told her, "I'm sorry you have to be a random victim of this, but I just got accepted into graduate school!" And she said with much happiness, "Is that what you were working on? You JUST found out?! Don't worry! I know how you feel! I went through that in Illinois when I was admitted to nursing graduate school back in '69." Wow.

I managed to crank out an email to Maria Gordon:

oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god
really i'm not a religious person
oh my god oh my god oh my god
i was sitting calmly in front of my computer but this is no longer feasible
a fuse just blew in my brain, no, this is good

Wow, thank you so much for informing me! This will be a very very nice spring break now!

I really don't think this has hit me in the head yet.
I'll let you know when it does!

What happened with the conference call? Did it go okay with the website ideas?

Can't wait to catch up after spring break! ~Victoria
Maria Gordon wrote:
Well done, Victoria! Oran just let me know you've been accepted to the Bren School. Congrats!


Then this question crossed my mind, "What does it all mean?" You're accepted. WWYDIYGIGS? Wideegigs! What would you do if you got into graduate school? Well, I have a long laundry list. It's a matter of "Just do it." I'm in the Nike-commercial mode.

What's next? What's the IMMEDIATE next? I guess it's important to drive home, give Sir Bub and Mumsy (my mom and dad) two big hugs. My journey to Irvine is delayed, for good reasons. And if you are worried about my parental labeling, don't worry. Those are teezer names. Their official Greek labels are Mama and Baba. For a while I called my dad "Bubba"--derived from Disney's Duck Tales and retroactively being exposed to the Persion way of acknowledging fathers. Then it shifted to Sir Bub. For a while it was Chair Bub because he was chair for a couple of years of the UC Riverside Earth Sciences Department. Sometimes it's Senor Bub. Now Bubsy. Come on, people! Don't laugh! So, I called my mom "Mama" for a long time. But now, I call her "Mumsy" sometimes for kicks and giggles. I was inspired by a film with Meryl Streep. It was a movie about how people went to heaven and they experienced pleasureful things without suffering any consequences. There was a booth in heaven in which you could view your previous lives, and this guy was at one point a little British girl carrying a rag doll, calling for her Mumsy. So now, Mama suffers consequences from this cinematic inspiration. Don't worry. I DON'T call her "Mum." God. That's just so short, unpoetic, and the meaning isn't latching in my mind.

That was just a disclaimer about my parents' names. Let's get over it, will you? I was hyper, my stomach hurt, and I decided the next best thing to do was jog... again (I already jogged this morning, super hyper from the food I ate last night). While I was jogging, my mind went back to the "What does this all mean?" question. I got accepted into an institution because I Question Reality and acknowledge and explore the biological incorrectedness of human society. This is just... the most meaningful thing that has EVER happened to me. This is the FIRST TIME I have convinced an audience that my Questioning of Reality is legitimate. Question Reality is not only in my brain, but now is being manifested into workable material within the university. Man, oh man, oh man. Wow. This means a lot to me. I was so tired of QRing by myself.

It's like everything I've been doing the last two quarter counted, counts! The ploughing through people and departments. Taking the Films of the Natural and Human Environment course and drilling out an over-fifty-page essay on An Inconvenient Truth and the Relativism of Environmental Science. Starting the website and the blog. Blue Horizons. The previous year of painfully learning each component of film-making from music to acting to everything else. The trials and errors of technology and human behavior in the Goleta Beach film project. God man. Everything counts. I mean EVERYTHING COUNTS. I mean, I am accepted to a communit as a creator and and analyzer, a scientist and an artist, a hard scientist and a softy scientist. I have institutionally incorporated the coordinated gestalt properties of my entire brain! Not just my left brain, the analytical, linear brain, but also my creative, infinitely unbounded right brain. Man, oh man. This feels good. Oh so good. I'm in grad school and this will have meaning.

And it's great to be a part of a budding program because there's more degree of freedom in this circumstance rather than joining a pre-constructed, well-established program. I'm now in CCS for grad students. Safe. Whew.

I remember the one-hour talk I had with Dr. Oran Young in early January, which automatically flopped me from the Media Arts Technology Department, to crawling back to Bren. He said Bren's like CCS for grad students. Good. I felt like I could trust him after that.

I even remember the day when I approached Dr. Young during lunch during late January of 2008. I could see he wanted some alone-time; he was intensely reading some papers while munching on lunch. I was there, and well, it would be horrible if I didn't say hello, but I'd feel bad for disturbing him. I took my chances and greeted him: "Hi Dr. Young!" He said hello, but he seemed pre-occupied. Just a little bit. I told him, "I have a quick question..... Are you left-handed?" He seemed a bit puzzled by this question, especially since it was totally out of the blue, a stand-alone, without context... but he responded, "Yes, I am." And I was just so happy I spurted out, "Great! Me too! Okay, that's all. Have a good lunch." And I walked away. I returned to the car and called my dad: "Guess what? Dr. Young is left-handed!" My dad's like "No shxt." Well, my dad's left-handed too. I said, "You know what that means?" "What." "I'm safe!" That's how I felt. I'm like yes, yes, yes. I know how that prof's brain works already. I'm safe, safe, safe. Hide behind this guy. He knows what I'm talking about. Southpaws are by default, expansive, non-linear thinkers who find any possible way NOT to specialize into a tiny box. It's default. That's how lefties are.

By that time, I really trusted Dr. Young. I felt comfortable and unafraid. That Friday late in January, I was shocked that he sat right next to me at the Environmental Media Initiative (EMI) meeting. That was really cool!

I guess this day represents a "turn of the tide" of my love-hate relationship with the university. This theme is the central component of a song I created called "Rock." It takes one rock to make me, one rock to break me, one rock to take me, far far astray. The very rock that holds me, can be the rock that harms me, the very rock that leads me back on my way. These central lyrics were inspired by the Nevada field trip with Seth and Joe during October of 2004. The other day, when I drove home to Riverside from Santa Barbara, I looked at the ocean again. Just a couple of months ago, it was overlaid with the stigma of a "C." And that day, I looked at the oil rigs and the islands while driving (I know it's a bit of a dangerous habit I have acquired from my dad), "I have this love-hate relationship with the ocean. And all the people and creatures and scapes associated with it. But a love-hate turmoil is better than no emotion at all. Is better than apathy. Whether positive or negative, helpful or harmful, this emotion means that I am attached. I am rooted. This emotion means that I care. I care." And as any typical female would do, I cried a little bit. Not much. And I screamed out that I cared. But no one heard except me and my voice recorder. From that point, I felt emotionally resolved from negative events of the recent past.

So, besides my love-hate relationship with my mother and the ocean, I have this love-hate relationship with the university. It all started when I was a single cell. A zygote. Half my genes are from a university professor. I was born and raised playing on the university. My mind went through series of "critical periods" on university grounds, from learning new things to meeting new people. Being a part of the university is my baseline of childhood experience. It's like homing behavior. I feel safe there, but at the same time I feel like I'm a part of an unknown, uncharted jungle. I think that's where I feel safe: when I have my little bubble of Known, but I am surrounded by the awaiting adventures of the Unknown. So, I told Maria Gordon the other day while we were at the Natural Cafe,"I don't want to be a professor, but I always want to be a part of the university. I want a foot in the door of the university and a foot in the door of the real world." It's scary to think that I'm biologically addicted to the university. I can blame my dad for that: "Thanks a lot! Look what you did to me! I got addicted to the university! I got addicted to flowers and trees and the like. Why didn't you get me addicted to more popular things, like playing Super Mario Brothers video games? What's wrong with you?" Thanks a lot to biological understanding, I can actually blame a lot more of who I am on my parents than I previously could.

The university was a cool place until freshman year at UC Davis. That's when things started to go to hxll. That's when my relationship with the university went bipolar. It's one thing to be a kid playing on the university grassy areas. It's another thing to choose a degree and major and pick out a few select people to associate with amongst thousands of professors and students. It's different playing the university video game, especially when the video game wasn't spelled out to you very well. The university tries to brainwash you to play their video game a certain way: here are 100 different partitions of spacetime called "majors" and you just choose which specialized "box" you want to put in, go in the box, and get your degree. My mind didn't like playing with those kinds of rules. I started discovering my own rules of "trying to see how all the little boxes fit together to a larger picture" as soon as a got admitted to the College of Creative Studies at UC Santa Barbara. In these times, generalism and interdisciplinary practice is not a very welcomed behavior in the university.... except for UC Santa Barbara. It's all a disguise though. Every single university claims they are on the "cutting edge" and give the word "interdisciplinary" a lot of lip-service, but does anyone truly practice what they preach? Right now, I'm a bit mentally crutched to UC Santa Barbara simply because of this whole CCS deal. Other potential places I might be able to survive is this Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico, UC Berkeley, and UC Santa Cruz.

So, I synergized with the university 2000-2003 at CCS-UCSB. Then I went bipolar again from 2003-today. I had to create my own "CCS" by going on two years leave of absence. It was painful though to pursue intellectual things in relative isolation. If I get feedback from other people, I tend to learn more things at a faster pace. I found out I cannot survive well at UC Los Angeles or UC Riverside, both for a unique suite of reasons I'm not going to get into right now. What can I say? I told Bruce Tiffney early this year, after all my trials and pains: "I'm crawling in agony back to UCSB. I am literally on my hands and knees. I felt like the world outside UCSB was like a torture chamber. I need to come back."

The worst part about my being so psychologically rooted in the university is that I am TOO attached. I am so psychologically wrapped around my academic pursuits that if things don't work out, I live at the shrink's office for the year... which was the case at UC Riverside. Either I'm thriving or I'm mentally dying. There's no in between for me.

So here I am, I crawled back to UCSB and humbly knocked on the door. I've been knocking since summer of 2007. I'm crawling through the door and basically I see myself collapsing on the other side, finally breathing without a heavy weight burdening my chest. I've been waiting 4.5 years for this feeling. That's a long time. I'm sure the stress knocked off a few years from my optimal life span, but at least it ONLY gave me ONE gray hair thus far. My sister has had dozens and she's two years younger than I am. But what am I talking about? I nearly melted when Seth stated in the car [paraphrased], "I can't wait to get gray hair! If only one day it will mean that I am wiser." Gray hair is an asset. It's just a matter of perception.

I get bored of breathing well pretty quickly. After that, I hit the ground running.

Basically, Biologically Incorrect the movie is the modern, intellectualized version of Slacker and Animal House. There's a girl who struggled to get accepted into graduate school because she wanted to pursue a Ph.D. dissertation on a most crucial and timely question: "What's the point?" The film would document the chain reaction of serious intellectual comedy from the original premise: a rebellious academic environment (grad students AND profs) of chronic flux that documents a time of re-invented thought on the relations between humans and their environments. Man, it's going to be a RIOT ACT! So, this should be a primary incentive why I must keep writing and blogging and writing and doing art, because this will just formulate a dream story and script and document a history in the making.

I have barely filmed anything. But I made a crucial step in progress: getting accepted to UCSB. I must thank a whole bunch of people. The credit list is already so long!


Baba aka Bub (Richard Minnich)
Mama aka Mumsy (Maria Davaris)
Jenny aka JenJen or Ms. Jenkins / and Justin too!
Ray and Marion Minnich (my grandfather and grandmother)
Uncle Dwight, Jean, Chuck, Jennifer
Jery Lyn and Steve Dillin (who always kept motivating me to do art even though I was shunned otherwise)
Mike Dillin (come back to California!)
All Family at Thanksgiving and in Greece!

Hugh Marsh (how he can put up with me, I don't know)
Bruce Tiffney (how he can put up with me, I don't know)
Armand Kuris (how he can put up with me, I don't know)
Miriam Polne-Fuller (it's all her fault, her shoreline preservation class gave me all these ideas!)
Mary Droser (who's been so supportive of this earth science to environmental media transition)

Oran Young (brain-sponsor)
John Melack (brain-sponsor)
Milton Love (scientist in comedian's body, King of Patience)
Nancy Kawalek (it's-okay-for-scientists-to-have-emotions, whew)
Art Sylvester (geology and life-pursuits-go-to, King of Patience)
Steve Gaines (unflinching environmental media supporter with unbound enthusiasm!)
Denise Belanger (university generalist guru)
Blue Horizons profs and peers (cheers to Guinea Pigs in science and film!)
Greenscreeners Goleta Beach
Lauren Wilson (who put up with a bit o' my griping :-)
Alexios Monopolis (for putting in a good word for me)
Films of Natural and Human Environment
Constance Penley
Dick Hebdige
Maria de Oca (I'm not the only one applying to grad school!)
Oscar Flores (Producer and Editor of Everything, Film Psychologist, has a Canon XL2)
Dulce Osuna (chronic source of encouragement)
Julie Ekstrom / Kyle / Karl / Lisa / Lisa's mom (housemates who keep Victoria in a state of seeming sanity)
Mini (Miss Einstein), Onyx Megafauna, Bentley the Ambassador Dog (pills of psychological relief)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

153. Blue Horizons Continued: Posting of "World's Easiest Catch: Zen of Rock Crab" from Youtube

I have two versions of the rock crab film because one version has better audio and higher resolution than the second one (which was unfortunately the first video I uploaded to Youtube).

I guess this is an anti-climactic moment in my life. A climax-anti-climax moment. Two parallel universes in one real moment. At that time, upon completion of the rock crab film, my mind was in a state of desperation. It saw no future. It lived and thrived for the moment and did things without analyzing consequences. It was living in this moment until August 24, 2007. And then? I finished the rock crab film. Maybe you'd think this would be the end, but it was only the beginning. This is when I slowly started to see a longer-term future. This is when I started to have hope in the university and have sincere desire to return. Through the process of film, my entire mind is engaged and exercised. I no longer feel trapped in my mind. And to be surrounded by professors who support the systematic explorations of science communications? This would be the closest thing to my definition of "heaven."

It's funny to think that it took me so long to get to the point to post my rock crab film. So many layers of learning and writing and trial and error, just to get a decent 7.5 minute film? Well, it's worth it. Creating great films require lots of experiences and lots of writing. Period.

I am glad I reflected upon the Blue Horizons experience, for two reasons. First off, since it is the first year of the program, we students are the living human "guinea pig" crop of test subjects. What if some researcher from an education department finds value in our guinea-pigged-ness? Then this blog would have immense value. Secondly, I feel this experience is finally the "baseline" that I want to work with for the rest of my life experiences. I'm finally standing on the "right foot," or mostly so.

I want a sense of "completion" of a project, but I hardly feel that way. I still have future environmental multi-media blogs to post related to post-Blue Horizons issues, such as marketing and distribution of the student films. In addition, the last six months between now (March 2008) and the end of the Blue Horizons program (August 2007) has been like living the "Sixth Sense," in terms of how you have been living a certain life a certain way with a certain amount of knowledge and later you learn something crucially new that ultimately impacts the way how you interpret your experiences during a given amount of time. So, there's lots to write about.

Storytelling as a time-dependent multi-layer matrix. The time-dependency of experience and story-telling: your whole life is like a scientific experiment, some kind of fractal of mathematical thought. What you do today depends on what you did yesterday. What you will do tomorrow depends on what you will do today.

152. Blue Horizons Continued: Sparse Advertisement for the August 24, 2007 Screening

It was a couple of weeks after Blue Horizons. I needed to go up to UCSB to take care of transactions for housing. Maria de Oca was still in town and she had the whole apartment in Fountainbleu (Isla Vista) to herself. She was very kind to let me stay in one of the rooms. We had a blast those few days: definitely some hanging out time. One night, a group of us went out to Sharkeys (a bar in downtown Santa Barbara). When I was there, I felt a little anxious, but I look back at the images and I understand that it is important to experience these things on break because these memories are stress-relievers during the quarter system... when you don't have time to go bar-hopping! I also remember Maria's friend purchasing a margarita for me. You're probably going to laugh, but that was basically the FIRST TIME I ever set foot in a bar in downtown Santa Barbara. And what, I've been in this town for FOUR years?! He, he, he....

I remember one of the first nights we both stayed up really late and we ended up theorizing on the male species. On the last night I was there and a couple of days before Maria needed to return to Spain to finish her science communications degree, we went on a walk through Isla Vista, bought some smoothies at Blenders in the Grass, and ended up at "Dog Park" (I believe). It was sooo dark that we could pick out the Milky Way. I am surprised because it's not like Isla Vista is "far away from any city lights." Isla Vista IS a micro-city.

To get to the point, while we were walking, we passed by Emerald Video (the video store close to the UCSB campus that carries all the obscure documentaries and Italian films that the professors force students to watch... plus some mainstream blockbusters!) and there was one peculiar advertisement on the windows that stuck out from the rest of the ad collage. Not that it was noticeable to the generic eye, moreso the trained eye.

And voila! We retroactively discover micro-posters being distributed to advertise the student screenings. Apparently Clark (a student in class) spent quite a bit of time distributing them.

I just made a poster / post card for the Goleta Beach Greenscreen project, and not to say that the advertisement material were any GOOD, but I have developed a little bit of critical taste in the process of making them. Both Maria's and my instant response to the poster was "What would inspire anyone to see THIS?" Good question. The advertisement looks so formal and academic... so... politically correct, but no sense of desire of communication. Nothing sticks out. If you throw that poster in a pile of 5000 posters slapped onto a wall, you will have to ask, "Why would CERTAIN posters stick out over others?" This micro-poster would fail miserably. It's not like it's being purposefully critical. This is basic critique on the premises of how to stimulate the human brain. Then again, non-stimulating advertisement was probably good: it's not that we wanted a lot of people to come see the screenings of our first student films!

I think Maria kept the original flier. I just took pix for documentation.

In the next blog, I am going to be posting my rock crab film, so I decided to continue the drama of Friday from the previous blog. I was approaching UC Santa Barbara in the afternoon of Friday. I had to deal with some traffic, especially around downtown Santa Barbara. I finally reached the Digital Editing Lab (DEL) around 4pm, and I had two hours left to burn a DVD and mini DV for Michael Hanrahan, who was at the Multicultural Center. I was extremely nervous because I didn't know whether a burn was feasible (since burning at DVD at UC Irvine did not work). Oscar was in high demand, so Julio helped me burn a DVD through DVD Studio Pro. He was patient with me. I was a wreck. I felt like a wreck. Everyone was very busy making final adjustments on their films. Some people were glad to see I was back. I was barely aware of my surroundings, barely coherent because my adrenaline was so high, but my brain was so dead from one week of work and maybe 10 hours of sleep total. Tragic.

[A Brief Philosophy of Gossip]

I talked to Dulce and she was telling me that while I was gone people were talking bad about me. Yipping and yapping and snipping and snapping. Well, whatever. That's human behavior. If people have nothing better to talk about, then they gossip about other people's business. Even monkeys do it. So if our genetically similar friends gossip, why wouldn't we? Filling up empty space with hot air. Heck, even I do it once in a while, but with a very few select number of people. AND I try to make it meaningful, like I gossip with my dad about the weather and the plants. But the plants and the atmosphere don't seem to mind that sometimes we talk trash about them.

If people were saying negative things about me, I am sad, not because the things they were saying about me truly reflect who I am, but their gossip truly reflect more who they are.

But then again, I can't be sad because I was gone due to my anxiety and panic and miscommunications and so it's open niche space for people to gossip when someone "vanishes."

Then again, we are all humans, and a fundamental human property is the tendency to fill up empty space with hot air. I wonder whether gossip is a genetically ingrained property of human behavior. Well, I'm sure it is for females! :-)

When I first came to the Multicultural Center, Michael was quasi-shocked to see me. I gave him my mini DV and DVD. He tested out the first minute and he said, "It looks pretty good." I then sat down. Constance Penley saw me and she was very surprised. She actually gave me a hug. She also told me retroactively that she was simultaneously very sad--due to the whole miscommunication thing with my absence to Irvine for the week. I sat in the back by myself. At one point, I was trying to convince my parents to come, but it was probably best that they didn't come after all. Slowly people started to pile in, and the show started. Apparently Oscar and Dulce were in the Digital Editing Lab. "A New Wave of Energy" is a documentary that was created by Oscar Flores, Dulce Osuna, and Hannah Eckberg in English AND Spanish. They finished the English version for Hannah, but Oscar and Dulce were still working on the Spanish one! They never came because they couldn't finish their film! So sad!

I vaguely remember the order of screenings.... Rigs-to-Reefs went first. It had a "corporate environmental film" style to it. I probably mentioned this a thousand times in my blog, but I left feeling thoroughly pissed about the way how Dr. Milton Love was edited. Hence, the beginning of my expsosure to the FALLACY OF EDITING. My dad had been a victim of that a few bazillion times. Quoted out of context. Quoting him on the insignificant and irrelevant. So many news reports are so badly edited in terms of accurate representation of the people interviewed, you come to wonder whether anyone has the capacity to communicate anymore!

Hannah's "A New Wave of Energy" then played, followed by the Morro Bay "Buy-Back" program... then Maria de Oca's film (which I have a blog on Santa Barbara Sustainable Seafood :-))... then my film... then Clark and Helen's film on the Channel Islands sea otters that was done with Flash? Difficult! Apparently, that project remained unfinished. Clark was off to Europe after the program and Helen apparently had a car accident in northern California. Wow. Ouch.

Not only was this the first screening, but this was the initiation of a "dialogue-interaction between film-maker and audience." At that point, I thought my work was done. But in terms of communications campaigns, the work is JUST BEGINNING. The first couple of audiences I am starting to get training wheels on how to document audience response and receive written feedback, not only for necessary appraisal to get more funding, but also in terms of how to improve the film. What do other people see in order to make the film better? Or altered to an interesting pathway? The general audience response was: "You left us hanging. You were going somewhere. We want MORE." That is good. People want more. They want me to elaborate my 7.5 minute film.

The rest of the night was good-fun networking and eating university-catered food. Some quiche and some Mexican-based food. I met 6-10 new random people I never met before that night! It was a strange, amazing feeling. All my life, I have been chasing down people. If I need something, I track the appropriate party down for some help. But this was the first time in my life a group of people came to track down me, of all things. Talk about REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY! The emotion has long worn away, but it has been 7 long years since I have started my slow, methodological journal-writing and "philosophical inquiry" practice. I had been struggling for over two years to convince people to even pay attention to my writing or even acknowledge that I exist as an environmental philosophy writer and artist. And then suddenly, through film, people were starting to pay attention. It was like this multi-medium was finally opening doors for me... in a rapid way. I felt much more the same way even at the Santa Barbara Ocean Film Festival on October of 2007! Wow, what an adrenaline rush I experienced upon this realization: Something is finally starting to work. And its working... fast.

What a very powerful feeling. Very, very powerful. And humbling. People are starting to listen. That night I think I cried.

As for the nuts-and-bolts of networking, I couldn't go too far simply because my brain was dead. I talked with Markus Sandy (loyal attendee of Santa Barbara Indie Filmmakers Coop, inventor of Spinexpress and other shareware, works with the owner of Magnatune up in San Francisco!), Cathy Boggs and her husband, an overly enthusiastic physics Ph.D. student who made an extremely nice comment (paraphrased: "To think that science can sound so poetic, you are right there!"), Maria de Oca's sister Nuria (goes to grad school on the East Coast, I swear she looks like Bjork, except she's much taller!), a few other bureaucrats, and a few other people... they slipped through my mind like the sand at Goleta Beach on a stormy day. Like I said, I was interacting with people in a state of brain-deadness. Keith Boynton had equipment set up such that Blue Horizons faculty and students could be interviewed. I saw the film promo retroactively and the lighting was very poor in the hallway outside the Multi-cultural Center. Then again, what could Keith do? I was rambling like a dumb-butt and I don't even remember what I was saying. I don't even want to remember.

I also remember Dave Panitz and Logan approaching me. Dave mentioned that he really enjoyed the comical, philosophical side to my film and wished our group had done the same. Logan (CCS biology student, GO BIO!) said that we must DEFINITELY keep in touch. Will do. He's on the list for my on-call help.

I also remember having a strange conversation with Logan on the diverse scientific perceptions of the same system. I used a small, planted pine tree as an example. Mapping language on landscapes of the tree, you would notice that the molecular biologists would delve into the nuts-and-bolts of photosynthesis, physiologists would probably look at nuances of anatomy and morphology, as well as botanists, and ecologists would look at the tree and look all around them trying to figure out how this tree relates to everything else. One tree, and 6 billion different specialized ways how to view it. Is one way right or wrong... or most commony agreed?

Apparently Mike McGinnes was there but I did not have the best of luck to be able to have a conversation with him. Been wanting to for a while. Hannah Eckberg highly recommended that I talk with him. In addition, I would like to meet Michael Hanrahan's colleague at Brooks Institute of Photography. He taught us basic principles of lighting. I have probably taken millions of photographs, and all the random tid-bits of knowledge I acquired about lighting was brilliantly summarized in one giant sweep... within two hours of lecture. Brilliant.

The last person I "talked with" that night was Michael Hanrahan. He seemed preoccupied when we talked. He didn't seem all there. I'm not sure if anyone was. Then again, that was my perception. Heck. I wasn't all there. I just started trying to explain to him my situation with anxiety disorder and he interrupted me with a pat on the shoulder and left.

But... but... but...

Conclusion: Positive feedback from an audience basically charges you like an Energizer Bunny!

In the end, completing the film was a close call timewise. I felt so relieved. It was the first time in two years where I actually COMPLETED SOMETHING, completed schoolwork to its entirety. And despite any grades, I did give myself a pat in the back. And I rarely do that. And finally, I didn't live for the day. I started to see a longer-term future for myself... A future at UC Santa Barbara. To finally return from four years of struggle in the world outside of the infinite mental freedom of the College of Creative Studies at UCSB.

I hung out with Oscar and Dulce that night at the Digital Editing Lab. They managed to finish their film to some degree. We watched films and chilled. I went to bed and packed the next day to go home. The day after I left Blue Horizons was the first day I started to look for housing in the fall. I was lucky. The very first house I looked at is the house where I am currently living: three very chill environmental-interdisciplinary-oriented graduate students out in the boonies off of Storke Road in Goleta.

Where it begins / is where it ends / is where it begins / all over again!

Students films for the first class of Blue Horizons can be viewed at

151. Blue Horizons Continued: "World's Easiest Catch: Zen of Rock Crab:" Turned in Final Project (mini DV and DVD) to Michael Hanrahan

I remember Friday morning at the UC Irvine lab. Friday. August 24, 2007. Matt Olzewski bid me farewell the evening before as I headed toward the 24/7 engineering computer lab for the final stretch. I had everything... finally. The narration, the music, the images. Now it's time to put it together. And suddenly all these fragments laying around, bit-by-bit, started to form a coherent piece. Basically a film is a time-dependent matrix of multiple brain-stimulation variables (mostly visual and acoustic), like a butterfly effect: the end result is a product of the initial premises. Very fractal like.
Before I move on, Dr. George Legrady (Media Arts Technology Department) asked me an interesting question. He asked about the classic chicken-or-the-egg syndrome in film: what came first? It is truly a tough question. This seven minute film ultimately represents 7 years of layers and layers of thinking and philosophy and writing and art... etc, but in a proximal level... first came filming (25 hours of tape), then when it came down to a week left, I decided on the narration, then I filmed ANY VISUAL GAPS that I did not film that was needed for the narration, then I did the MUSIC (composing, mastering, etcetera), then I had all the pieces, and I laid down the skeleton: the narration + the music. And then from my visual-right-brain memory, I went straight to the images my mind consistently flashed to, and then? The film became ONE PIECE. Whoa.
It was all a very interesting and "organic" process. It's a feedback of multiple layers of knowledge. One thing though that stands very true is that ONCE YOU HAVE THE NARRATION (and music, when appropriate), YOU HAVE THE FILM, it's just a matter of resurrecting all the other layers. I guess that's why films start with screenwriting. DUH. But for my mind to go through this process and realize it on its own, that is the most important thing. The first time doing anything is most difficult and I managed to pull it off.
Two things I remember that were accidentally good: (1) The music matched so well with the narration, it was UNCANNY amazingly n-sync. I hardly had to edit. I think something in my mind was subliminally just streamlined at that time. (2) The end of the film was unintentional, I plopped in by accident the whole piece of my munching on the rock crab cakes, AND THE MUSIC ENDED A DOZEN SECONDS BEFORE MY SARCASTIC COMMENT, "You know what. This is really good." And the timing was just so great, the speed, the climax, the build-up, the tension, and then? The comic release. Totally an accident. Oh my god. I was operating like I was being struck by lightning with the luck of my own creativity during those hours of Thursday and Friday night. Geez. I will never cram like that ever again (ya right).
Then from 9am to 12-noon I suffered because I was trying to burn a mini DV tape and DVD at UCI. I tried probably like 5-6 times, each with a failed attempt. Burning these tapes and DVDs are actually quite time consuming. I gave up in the end, and at this point in time it was legal to cuss "fxck it," and I had to leave. I drove up to UCSB. I was so tired driving. I also remember having a very heavy weight until a surprise call from Keith Boynton. He was really concerned and wanted to make sure I was all right--not to mention I owed him my famous camera D "Charlie." Keith said in a sensitive, soothing voice, "We were all wondering were you were! We are all concerned." I told Keith with renewed excitement, "I'm coming up! I have the camera! I'm off Lost Hills Road." (Ironically, Lost Hills Road off the 101 is were my cousin Mike and I had a birthday party photoshoot a few months back). I got off the freeway so I could talk to Keith. I continued, "I'm sorry I was gone. I had very high anxiety and I panicked and I couldn't function being around lots of people so I went to UC Irvine to work." Keith said, to my surprise, "I understand. My wife is like that sometimes. Sometimes you need your space." After the phone call, my pre-existing oppressive pressure in my heart lifted to some degree. It was nice that someone in the world (other than my parents and my sister and other immediate family) cared about me after all.
If people were really concerned about my well-being the last week, they would have called me. They would have even emailed me. The only people who contacted me were Dulce, Maria, and Keith. Did they really know I was at UC Irvine or not? Did they really think I was gone or not? It doesn't matter. The whole thing is stupid to think or fuss about in the end. This whole issue is now resolved. It is a result of miscommunication and misunderstanding, and lack of following through with certain protocols through the Disabilities Program on my behalf. In the end, everything is resolved... emotionally, logically. Administratively, the grade changes haven't been addressed yet through the Summer Sessions office. Then again, what is Administrative versus what is Logical are two entirely separate matters. I can attest to that since the day I set foot on the university.
All a person had to do was give me a gxdxm camera and a computer with final cut pro... and some peers to gripe to. And I hit the ground running.

150. Blue Horizons Continued: "World's Easiest Catch: Zen of Rock Crab:" Plasma Lamp Image Collection Plus ADHD Art

So, here's my second plasma lamp slideshow. Earlier this morning I had "ADHD" and was having a hard time sitting down and focusing. So, I ended up making some ADHD Art. I overlaid 5 plasma lamps and their random connections to portray how your mind operates when you are experience ADHD: chaotic. I took time to choose the weirdest looking plasma lamp images I snapped (I guess I must mention that I know I took over 500 images). They are in raw image form, but when the time comes up, I can work with the images to create something very elaborate!

149.Blue Horizons Continued: "World's Easiest Catch: Zen of Rock Crab" Lightning Lamps Photoshop Experiment Resumed

I guess you can see an inherent obsession with lava lamps, plasma lamps, and the like. I already MADE a blog devoted to lightning and plasma lamps, and I can't help but doing a second! This blog also provided training wheels in terms of how to embed a picture slideshow to my blog. I will have to get used to this. It is in part distracting, and I would prefer still images. But it's good to experiment. It's always healthy to try something new! I remember Maria Gordon stating that it's important to have some degree of "motion" in a website, but there is a point where motion can become a distraction. I will have to find the right balance of motion: from healthy stimulation to cluttery, overwhelming distraction! *Sigh*
I remember Dr. George Legrady giving me a hard time with my rock crab film and the use of plasma lamps. The Media Arts Technology Approach is to create novel, sophisticated technologies to design a lava lamp or plasma lamp impression. And me? Shame on me. I did the cheapskate way: I USED a plasma lamp! With the Michel Gondry style, if you are creative enough, there is always some form of "cheapskate" way to do something that is supposedly complex. I will go the cheapskate route. Blame my mother for imposing her penny-pinching values on me :-)
The second thing I must state is that NO MATTER HOW MUCH FANCY TECHNOLOGY YOU HAVE AND USE... from paper and pencil to high tech mac computers to photoshop to new, fancy technologies from the MAT department, if you don't have any ideas INVENTED, DESIGNED, CONSTRUCTED IN YOUR OWN MIND, then nothing will come of owning a multi-million dollar entertainment operation. I have a relative who has a fancy macintosh and a $5000 Sony HD camera. He doesn't even use the camera. It sits in its box.
If you have no ideas on how to put together a story, you can have all the fancy equipment in the world and nothing will come together.
For me? I always start with the primitive: my brain, my hands and fingers, a pencil, and a paper.

148. Blue Horizons Continued: "World's Easiest Catch: Zen of Rock Crab:" THE FRANTIC FINAL-ISH SCRIPT FOR 7.5. MINUTE VERSION


Link to the FINAL SCRIPT RANDOM SCRAP for World's Easiest Catch:

A week before the projects was due, I remember being in the parking lot of Denny's off Patterson, and that night I constructed in the car, the narration for the main 4.5 minute version, or at least the draft version. Quite poetic, indeed. Poetry can sometimes come from times of desperation! Later, while I was in the Orange County area, I "finalized" the script... or basically delt with what I had. My time in Orange County and Riverside that week was strange. Very strange. Every night I probably got 3-4 hours of sleep. I was operating like a rapid robot. Or as rapidly as I could go. My mind was in this state of zen. Writing the script requires good sleep and conscious thinking. But I can only methodically create art and music and edit under a zen mode of lack of sleep. My god, this is going to be the adrenaline rush of next quarter? I was in a dream state that entire week.

I also remember crashing at Matt's house, my new random friend who works at the 24-7 engineering computer labs at UC Irvine. He was so kind to let me use his password and work on the Macs and Final Cut Pro. A few days later he offered that I could crash on the couch at his place, which was practically across the street from the UC Irvine campus and the in-and-out. He and his friend were my "social pill" for the week. What amazing support! But then again, it was all a dream, and the entire time I was in a state of artistic delusion. It's like you can place your selt into a state of drugged trance through behavior modification (no sleep, no eating, no exercise) ... the issue is that it takes a couple of days to get into that kind of mode. If you consume a certain "drug-like" substance, I am assuming you can achieve an instant gratification mode of altered Reality.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

147. Blue Horizons Continued: "World's Easiest Catch: Zen of Rock Crab:" Pre-production Package

Here is the link to the ENTIRE preproduction package pdf:

Link to the treatment:

Link to the Cast / Crew:

Link to the Proposed Budget / Timeline:

Link to the Working Script / Sketch for Trailer / Music Video:

Link to the Shotlist:

Link to the Talent / Model Release Form:

Link to the Location Release Form:

I don't know why it took me so long to get to the point to finally place the preproduction package on line! Finally, it's here! I think Michael Hanrahan made the students construct a pre-production package for this course, not necessarily because our short, student films really needed something this elaborate, but I feel he was giving us training wheels so that we can expand on our skills in the NEXT project :-)

I vividly remember working on the preproduction package "overtime." Both Maria de Oca and I turned in our package late... then again it's "twice as much work" simply because we were the only ones doing "solo" projects. Last night (March 18, 2008), we watched the three Greenscreen projects, and I had come to realize that larger groups in film production are "random conglomerations" of a film, but if you are solo, or a very small crew, there is a greater likelihood of consistency or flow of thought throughout the entire film.

There are certain things I think in large production groups that are "anti-environmental," sorry to be so extreme. One, large production groups are usually centralized in power, rather than decentralized and fostering more individualized and localized creativity and individuality. Secondly, inclusion of a large group involves high degree of "division of labor," and then each individual becomes responsible for one part of the film, rather than having a more holistic understanding creating a film. This is one point I will make to the Coastal Fund: it's not the zen of rock crab, but it's the zen of film-making. A huge reason why we humans do not relate to environmental problems is that we don't have a systematically holistic understanding of what other humans do; we are overspecialized and do not experience, nor witness the nuts-and-bolts of other people's labor, nor their interactions with their environments. So, I can argue to the Coastal Fund, instead of playing a mocu-carbon-offset game in film production, I will approach environmental problem solving through maintaining "small-scale-zen-film-maker" production operations, such that I will impose as much work upon myself and least on others.

The next round of shooting, I am now honing into "shooting like an editor" (Oscar's famous quote!). I know exactly what I want. As soon as I have a solidified script, I am good to go!

146. Beginning of a Song Called "Imperfection"

I embrace my own imperfection
My voice needs some corrections
My form is full of mutations
My mind's of strange [reflections] [contemplation]
My root's of scarred conviction
Yet am I hideous rejection?
What's so great about this "perfection"?
When it's all homogenization
Of a system mass production
Spreading like a mindless infection?
Is there beauty in imperfection?
Do you see beauty in imperfection?
Is there beauty in imperfection?
Do you see beauty in imperfection?

145. Blue Horizons Continued: "World's Easies Catch: Zen of Rock Crab" Sample Letter for Permission to Film at Lazy Acres Market in Santa Barbara

Below is a pdf file of the above letter to "Jason," the manager of Lazy Acres Market in Santa Barbara, California.

Early today I wrote a fragmented essay on the philosophy of grocery stores and food in general... as well as more specific background on the situation with Lazy Acres. But my attention span at this moment is quite low, so I will focus on writing this short monologue-ish essay in a future blog.

ONE MESSAGE FOR NOW: If you think you are switching majors and fields so that you can avoid lag time and waiting time to get "PERMITS," I'm sorry, but that AIN'T going to happen. Permits are everywhere. They are a plague to individual flow of thought and action. Whether I am an ecologist or earth scientist... or now... a film-person, I have to deal with PERMITS! Some basic rules with permits: (1) if you want to muck around with living vertebrates, good luck, you'll have to wait for 6 months to 6 ice-age-hot-house cycles (2) if you want to muck around with rocks, the lag time is much shorter (3) the larger the organization you have to deal with, the longer the time you will have to wait to get your project done, simply because people have to go through capillary action up the corporate ladder.

In the circumstance of Lazy Acres, the store used to be a local, independent operation, but I think they recently merged with "Foster Farms"? I might be mistaken. Hence, I had a week lag time before I received approval from Jason the manager to go ahead and film inside the store.

Other ideas I'll share at a later time! :-)

144. Blue Horizons Continued: "World's Easiest Catch: Zen of Rock Crab" Sample Shotlog Developed from Keith Boynton's Example

On a previous post, I included a shotlog that Keith Boynton gave me, which was a great baseline to start with. I modified it a little bit to the shotlog above. I created this shotlog in a frantic state, one week before the film was due. When I started writing notes, it was very strange to feel "confined" by this Shotlog. My true, instinctive desire was to write on a blank sheet of paper any random rock-crab associated idea I had. I guess it's that same feeling I always had when I tried to use those pre-organized school-and-calendar-planners you buy at the store.

At age 19, in the beginning of spring quarter of 2001, my mind tweaked such that I started using a white "blank" sheet of paper for notes (instead of lined paper or paper with pre-existing marks). All my ideas come out random and spur-of-the-moment, and if I create a structure or organizational matrix for these random ideas, it is always retroactively.

I think the first step to any project is to allow infinite mental freedom and unstructured outpourof ideas to come out. Then structures can be implemented the next rount. It's like those school planners and their grids are already placing your mind into an arbitrary prison: the manufacturers organization of reality rather than exploring your own!

143. Blue Horizons Continued: "World's Easiest Catch: Zen of Rock Crab" Revised Treatment and Michael Hanrahan's Response

Below is a link to the pdf file of a "successful" A-treatment.

I was able to cram the most essential information in two pages. As remarked by Michael Hanrahan above: "Similar to the Treatment for 'What the Bleep...' Will be a tough film to illustrate, I think. But prove me wrong!" I have two responses to this: (1) I didn't know for about 4 months what exactly was "What the Bleep" until finally I found out it was a movie, and about ten people asked me to watch it. It's philosophically intriguing, but some of the facts and data are distorted to a state of "pseudoscience." Lisa Angle--a marketing agent for channels 17 and 21 in Santa Barbara, let me borrow her copy of 'What the Bleep' and I still need to return it to her! and (2) In response to the "difficult to illustrate" comment, I had been receiving this all along the summer. I would explain to people with immense enthusiasm what I wanted to do and how my film would look like and people would stare at me as if I were a freak. By the end of summer sessions, I was just fed up with the "talking" and stop explaining to people "what I'm going to do" but JUST DO IT! Which I did!

After three quarters of being involved in film, I have come to notice that most of film production seems to be "yap yap yap" mode rather than just-do-it mode. I think I'm over the yapping, and I'm in this just-do-it-mode, either writing or filming.

One more thought. It is really difficult to simultaneously film and create a preproduction package at the same time. Because things are changing, evolving on both ends. The writing and filming co-evolves, and if things are changing beneath your feet, it's very difficult to just say STOP and quarantine and reflect upon all this change in one seating! And if you do this, the writing becomes obsolete the very next moment!

Monday, March 17, 2008

142. Blue Horizons Continued: "World's Easiest Catch: Zen of Rock Crab": Failed First Attempt at Treatment

Below is the link to the above "treatment attempt" for World's Easiest Catch.
In class, Michael Hanrahan explained to us that a "treatment" for a film is a one-to-two page summary of the film project. A short-and-sweet pitch that can grab attention *snap* like that! In terms of the structure, I'm assuming within the first 1-3 sentences you would have a very catchy, summarized hook to get the reader into the document (and as a cheating mechanism, I would stamp the treatment with some form of catchy, prominent logo, as I did with my pre-production package). I would answer in a nutshell the four primary questions every single human being wants to know when trying to grab one's attention: (1) What's this about? (2) Why should I care? (3) Why should I believe you? Either (a) I have pre-existing credentials, so believe me like a subgod... or (b) The data and evidence I am presenting speaks for itself (4) And now that I'm hooked, but with a diminishing attention span to lengthy, repetitive stimuli, what are you going to do to sustain my long-term interest in this project/system?
I guess in question (4), you would go into unique and quirky technique and content that would pulse the entire story with originality.
It's really important that you keep treatments short. Like a "pitch." You may have to pitch a project at any time, any place, when you least expect it. I remember Michael saying that you may run into some notable executive in an elevator, and you do indeed have 15 seconds of his time, as the doors rapidly slide closed... slide open... and out he steps. It is as quarantined an environment you can get! The closest to a long road trip in a car! What will you do to prick his information-bombarded ear? It's best to write treatments like this. More like an extended abstract for scientific papers, except you have the license to creative verbage and visualization, not to mention the license to stimulate emotion beside rational thought. But don't overdo emotions at the sacrifice of accuracy: this is called sensationalization. And don't underdo it either, because then your treatment truly becomes an "abstract" of a boring scientific paper!
Michael gave several sample treatments (as I have posted in a previous blog), but they had various different structures, some more consistent than others. Yet the above conclusions are what seem to be more humanly universal.
So, what happened? What went wrong with the above treatment? By the time I was required to write the treatment, I was very much embedded and involved in my rock crab project. No one else in the class even STARTED their film, except for me. In this circumstance, the students had an advantage because a short, one-page summary of a project would be easy to bullshxt. For me, I struggled tremendously because I knew too much, and everything I knew was disorganized in my brain! I ended up adding too much detail. I ended up creating a document that's like a hybrid between a treatment and a preproduction package. Oh dear. This is a case when working too hard and knowing too much actually backfires. I received a "B" on this work.
I was determined to do the treatment right, so on my own, I rewrote the treatment (next blog) and was able to marginally get it down to two pages. I submitted the treatment to Michael, just to get some constructive feedback, and I actually had my treatment returned with a grade of "A"! This was most certainly not expected... and I take it Michael appreciated that I went out of my way to repeat concocting a treatment until I did it right.

Friday, March 14, 2008

141. Blue Horizons: "World's Easiest Catch, Zen of Rock Crab" Continued: Sketch Diagrams of Regional Rock Crab Ecology

Finally, after all this time, stress, and anxiety... I can return to reflecting and building upon the components of "World's Easiest Catch: Zen of Rock Crab." Above is a "cartoon" sketch of the regional ecology of rock crab, documenting where the rock crab comes from and who takes care of what and interacts with who in terms of rock crab distribution and end source. I included these diagrams in my treatment for WEC-ZORC (pronounced as "wek-zork"). Fortunately the acronym for my film came out marginally cool.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

140. Blue Horizons Continued: An Opportunity to Meet "Famous" People Through Dr. Constance Penley's Course: Richard Hutton and Judith Helfand

To be honest, I am in a challenging situation. I am "home alone," and that kind of brings me back to the days of Blue Horizons... alone in my apartment... chronically. Not healthy, but a couple days will do. Julie's at school. Kyle and Lisa are off to Hollywood to watch a band and then an Arundo donax conference in Anaheim.... They will be back Friday, and that's good. Karl's off to "Veil" I believe. Somewhere in Colorado off skiing. So, it will be an interesting challenge to focus. When someone is around the house, I tend to focus on that person. Localized focus. But if people are gone, my radar tend to disperse farther out in my my surroundings, and it doesn't help with focusing. It's okay. Julie will be home soon.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, Dr. Constance Penley is very networked. Over the summer, we had the privilege of meeting Richard Hutton, one of the main producers from Vulcan (who is now helping with developing media projects and programming at UC Santa Barbara under a "Digital Oceans" grant). In addition, our class had the opportunity to speak with Judith Helfand, one of the co-producers of the documentaries "Blue Vinyl" and "Everything's Cool." Through these guest speakers, I, as well as the class, were truly inspired. Besides, it's nice to give a face to all these big TV names that you otherwise know as a collage of pixels on a screen!

Who is Richard Hutton? (Vulcan)

The hourglass and belljar model to reasoning is something I drew directly after the guest lecture with Richard Hutton. I think it's mostly pertaining to science and religion (intelligent design).

Richard Hutton is a strange character, in my opinion. He's tall, fairly eloquent and to the point (though he did read off his lecture from a paper), but the strange thing is that he's a bit of a sullen and depressing character. He has a dim and grim outlook on media and society... much like my dad, who assumes "Basically, humans are stupid." Since he was heavily involved in films I am familiar with--"Strange Days on Planet Earth," "Rx for Survival," and the rough-cut film we watched in class: "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial"--I thought I was going to meet an energetic, lively, spastic, jumpy kind of person. Actually, I didn't know what to expect at all at first. I even approached him, and later we had a little post-lecture conference meeting, and we young-and-eager-wanna be environmental multi-media communicators were seeking advice about careers in science/environmental journalism... Mr. Hutton had very little advice to offer. I later found out that he has a daughter and before his role at Vulcan and his production of more biology-oriented PBS films, he was actually a Disney Imagineer. Whoa. What a stark contrast. To go from Delusion (with capital "D" to some portrayal of serious issues in Reality...). I reflect upon the Intelligent Design film, and it was kind of dark and serious... though I do remember my dad eagerly wanting to hang up on me one night simply because he was thoroughly enjoying the final product of "Judgment Day." My dad was so excited; he just reached the point of watching this intelligent design professor getting reamed in court!

So, I ask sincerely, how can a man be so successful in film and yet be so sullen about his profession? I suppose there's a lot I do not know. I would like to call Richard Hutton "Dr. Hutton" since he has accomplished so much, but I just found out that he has a BA in history from UC Berkeley. I will call him Dr. Hutton because he does know so much. He doesn't need some official institutionalized stamp of Ph.D. on his forehead. Honestly. He's accomplished a lot more than several professors.... I guess Dr. Hutton is one of those big players who set the "style" for films on PBS.

Here is a blurb on the "Creative Vision" of Vulcan that I retrieved from their website: "Vulcan Productions seeks to initiate, develop and finance independent film projects of substance and enduring significance. Our projects support the passionate vision of the artist, while challenging and celebrating the world of ideas and human values. Through our collaborative partnerships with established and emerging filmmakers, Vulcan Productions explores creative opportunities
that result in engaging and inspirational storytelling."

Despite all this strangely contrasting character of Richard Hutton, I did learn a few key kernels of wisdom from him. The theme of balance between emotion and rationale (classic theme of "Crime and Punishment) came to play as Dr. Hutton mentioned (paraphrased): "The goal in media is to not communicate information, but to convey emotion." As Miriam Polne-Fuller would say, in order to soak in information, you first need to "hook the heart," or open the gateways of emotional stimulation (the famous Anatole France quote). In a more specific example, Dr. Hutton stated that no one really cares about the evolution-versus-intelligent-design case, but when you add the SOCIAL DIMENSION of a court case and a guy getting reamed in court, suddenly a science-religion debate is framed in an additional layer-context of human interplay, and then... with all the drama, people start to care. The audience gets a turmoil and pleasure watching an intelligent-design supporter getting reamed in court (e.g. my dad, as I already said). So here, comes another point. IN ORDER TO INPUT EMOTION INTO SCIENCE, YOU MUST ADD THE SOCIAL CONTEXT / SOCIAL LAYER TO FRAME THE SCIENCE. THEN INTERESTING STORIES COME OUT OF SCIENTIFIC TOPICS. THE COUPLED INTERNAL-EXTERNAL EFFECT: EMOTION<=>SOCIAL CONTEXT.

The concept of emotional stimulation though can go to an extreme; this is called SENSATIONALIZATION. This technique is used chronically by the news and by Hollywood. It is at a point in which emotions are used so much, they tremendously distort, skew, detract from the accuracy of information. I have seen this perhaps a bazillion times in wildland fire reporting within the southern California region. One extreme example is that during the October 2007 fires, CNN went to the extreme of calling their news series "Planet in Peril." EXCUSE ME? JUST BECAUSE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CHAPARRAL AND PINE FOREST ARE BURNING DOWN DOESN'T MEAN THE WHOLE PLANET IS. Typically scientific extrapolation in ecology now spreading like a disease to the news media. Geez. OH. EXCUSE ME. I SEE. LOS ANGELES IS THE UNIVERSE. Oh. I'm sorry. This is sickening, putrifying. So, in these cases, emotions overpower the portrayal of accurate information.

Dr. Hutton did NOT discuss the issue of sensationalization. Perhaps he doesn't have to deal with that in his own projects. He's a sullen, stoic person and it shows in his projects. I think he's more in the need of inputting MORE emotion into a film of information, and probably never had to deal with the issue of sensationalizing any of his work.

The resulting message from all this is that THERE NEEDS TO BE A COMPROMISE BETWEEN EMOTIONS AND RATIONALE. Like what I said earlier. I envision my "Dartboard Model" of human behavior I shared with Nancy Kawalek a few months ago. Can't wait to play the game again. And film it.

[Today I was also kind of depressed because I was supposed to do An Inconvenient Truth talk at UC Riverside. It would have been very fun, but this website stuff is interfering too much. Aaron and Erika, both Mary Droser's students, did great talks on Snowbacll Earth and all the biologists gave talks on global warming religious reasoning. I met Aaron before and he's a total energy spazz. My dad likes him a lot. Even likes him more because he was a semi-pro baseball player!]

Who is Judith Helfand?

We just watched the film "Blue Vinyl," which was an adventurist, comical, social-building-problem-solving film tracking the life cycle of vinyl and PVC (polyvinylchlorosomethingsomething, dude, I'm chemically illiterate, okay?), which makes up a great number of our products in the market. The problem is that PVC is "safe" in its "presentable form" at stores like Home Depot, but they are extreme hazards in the process of creation and disposal. I don't even think you CAN throw away PVC. Judith basically uses a knowledge classification schematic I invented in 2005 called "Ecological Structure and Process Knowledge" (ESPK), which I have mentioned before. The class really enjoyed the film and Judith Helfand, and before we know it, here she is, IN PERSON, at a free screening for her next film "Everything's Cool," a comical documentary on global warming. I unfortunately showed up late to the screening because I had just returned to UCSB from a "doctors' appointment," with crayons skewed all over my face... to be explained at a later time. Maria and I were both spazzed out to meet Judith in person. She's a very personable character. Very energetic, caring, sociable and a million times more inspiring. A stark contrast from Richard Hutton. Judith makes all possibilities within reach. Judith is well known for transforming dark, negative issues into positive, humorous adventures--transforming negativity into exploration and problem-solving. Using a negative, desperate experience as the driver for positive change. That would be my category of film-making. I still vividly remember her statement in "Blue Vinyl" how her condition of DES-related ovarian cancer in her early 20s (which was related to the behaviors of her mother) had led her to "Question Everything." Close enough to "Question Reality" for me!

I wonder whether these views of environmental issues are unique to Judith Helfand and Richard Hutton, or whether these viewpoints also span to more general perspectives of females and males and the environment. It seems like males thrive off of competition and warfare and women shake their heads at men's stupidity. And females are chronically into maintenance and problem-solving: the backbone to keeping families and homes together (a very "Grapes of Wrath" theme). So, it would seem that environmental problem-solving would be "second-nature" to the female mind. No wonder why there's this whole "eco-feminism" cult or fad... or whatever.

I heard "Everything's Cool" is a great film, but it also received negative reviews simply because the film focuses on notable people who are trying to do something about global warming, but are getting no where in the process. I suppose some people want resolution. I bet the film was fine, and that others just tend to be jealous and cynical.

Judith had a high affinity toward Maria de Oca: her energy, enthusiasm, combined with her unique Spanish accent would make interesting films. I would agree so. I heard that Lauren Wilson was the person who hooked Constance up with Judith coming all the way out to UCSB.

So, the question is, what did I learn from Judith Helfand? As I already mentioned. Use negative, desperate experiences as drivers for positive creativity and problem-solving. That is definitely my train of thought. A second thing I learned is that it's a very effective technique to have "common props" across varying-different landscapes as a form of establishing some level of constancy and similarity across the entire film. The common props has a "connect-the-dots" type of feel. Judith used a piece of vinyl from her parents house. For my rock crab film, I will use two things (I need some experimental back-up here): (1) plastic crab (2) real rock crab. The third thing I feel I have in common with Judith is something very subliminal. Can't have and won't have kids? Alternative solution: replicate yourself and your ideas through film and multi-media in general. This is my perspective right now. I think getting married and having kids is SOOO CLICHE: everyone does it and it's a great part of the environmental problem. As I have created a comical "I just can't settle like the other larval tunicates" song (did I already put that on this blog?) I even told someone that I would be ASHAMED to bring a child to life especially under this modern state of reality. I prefer memes over genes at this moment!

Judith offered some time at a bar, but Constance was tired. I hope I didn't come off as hyper and pushy that night. I bet I was. *Sigh.*

There is another notable person I met through Michael Hanrahan's course and his name is Bruce Rieberman, or Lieberman? Gosh, I don't know. He was there to rip up our one-minute pitches of our films. Michael overprepared the class, and we were all in fear of public humiliation. In the end Bruce was very nice to us. At first he seemed a little apathetic and uninterested, but he started to get really involved with our ideas. We had an opportunity to pitch our stories twice. By the end of the critiquing, Bruce was copying what I said: how everything we see and experience is surface value, and we need to dig up the story behind the surface, hence the Matrix effect. I said that! I SAID THAT FIRST! Geez. Well, it's nice someone listened. Dude, like giving away my ideas for free. Nothing better than getting ideas stolen. Just kidding. I have come to realize that ideas can only get stolen if the idea has truly embedded meaning in another person. Which is kind of difficult to do.

I'm going to be a little bit selfish here, but I fear the next class of Blue Horizons. I need to establish a vicious track record spring quarter in order to survive and compete in the local market of film-making. But first I need to release mental energy from the past.