It’s been a busy, long weekend for me, so I hope you haven’t been disappointed at the lack of posts. I’m sure you were going into withdrawal or something…
My big sister (unofficially) Sara came to visit; she had a number of shows in the Bay Area and my house was home base. Highlights from the fun:
- I’ve been all over the area now, seeing towns and cities I’d never seen — San Mateo, Moraga, Felton, Pacific Grove, Watsonville…
- One show was at the home (and vineyard) of a couple who run a small, independent winery in Moraga, California. They literally make the wine in their garage, and it is absolutely fantastic — if you come across a Merlot from Parkmon Vineyards (and it will be tough, as they only make a limited amount each year) it is well worth the money. The vineyard was on the side of a very steep foothill, they hold on to ropes when they climb among the vines. I parked the car on the hill, and going back to it was like struggling against gravity the whole way.
- On Sunday we headed down to Watsonville for a radio interview then on to Monterey and the Monterey Aquarium; I sometimes think that it would be an idyllic existence to be an otter in an aquarium exhibit — plenty of toys and food, and nothing to worry about as you swim around in circles on your back. We wandered on the beach and around tidal pools, looking at anemones, snails, crabs and fish as the tide came in and out.
- Later that day, we went to nearby Pacific Grove for a house concert. I’d never been to one of these; it is literally a concert in a private house, the owners invite friends and interested parties and the attendees pay the artist as opposed to selling tickets at some venue somewhere. Our hosts, Juliet and Greg, grilled up some amazing salmon, wild caught locally and not some frozen block that was farmed in a crowded pond. It was the first time I’d had such a thing and it was incredible; I am quickly becoming a convert to the idea of buying fresh, wild salmon and expensive, niche wine.
- Monday evening in Felton, which is a small town in the Santa Cruz mountains that reminds me of Cicely, Alaska from Northern Exposure, with the same kind of store fronts and eclectic shops. The show in Felton was very disappointing — I can only assume that the fact that it was Monday night in a small town led to a small turnout; in addition, the show was listed in the Hot Picks in the newspaper but that listing was accompanied by a snarky, rather obnoxious commentary by a staff writer. I am envisioning this guy as a Birkenstock-wearing, long-braid-down-the-back, tie-dyed hippie who scoffs at others’ liberal credentials, because he insinuated that Sara’s concerns about the homeless and her focus on more open sexuality were somehow not genuine enough. I can only assume that he doesn’t know anything about her or her work, and just formed this opinion by looking at a CD cover. Can’t imagine that he actually bought the CD or listened to her music. Really a bummer there.
- Working on a bunch of projects right now, so now that Sara is winging her way home I am glued to the computer. Speaking of computers: I got a new one yesterday.
Coming up next month I’ll be working on this year’s DC Shorts film festival. In the past when I have prepared the shows for the theatre, I’ve created DVDs. This year, we’re trying something different. Rather than conform all the films (there are something like 100 of them) to the same specs, we’ll be showing them in their native formats. This could mean regular 4×3 American standard video at 60 fields per second, or widescreen, or European video at 50 fps, or even high definition. To accomplish this, we are going to use a set of Apple Mac mini computers to directly, digitally project the films using — get this — iTunes. (I had a conversation with Apple engineers, and the consensus is that iTunes will do what we want without having to buy expensive video display hardware.)
Anyway. I decided that this project was enough impetus to write a big check for a new computer, and now I have a shiny new Mac Pro, with dual dual-core Xeons — that makes 4 processors in there. I tested it out this morning; it compressed a 2-hour movie using two passes and a high quality, processing intensive format, in only 56 minutes! The same compression took more than 4 hours on my old Mac G5. Money well spent, I think, because I was going to panic about compressing 100 films.
Time to step back from my desk now, and catch up on all the TV that’s been accumulating on the DVR. Don’t tell me what happens on Lost, ‘cos I haven’t seen it yet!