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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Love Thursday 2

This girl loves loves loves her guitar. Loves it.
I don't blame her. This guitar is very beautiful and has mother-of-pearl inlays in the headstock.
And her sweetie gave it to her.
She played me a song while I took photos of her.
Check out Love Thursday. It's like having a school assignment that you want to do.
Happy Love Thursday!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Magic Man Is Back

For those of you who haven't been properly introduced, the man in the photo is Christian Cagigal, and he's a friend of mine.

I wrote about Christian a while back, because my photo session with him was what made me get so crazy inspired and excited about doing portraiture.

Last Friday was the opening night of the run of Christian's show, The Pandora Experiment. This time, I brought some buddies: the world-traveling Ms. Paris Parfait and her talented, gorgeous daughter Jordanna, my sweetie Ms. Wellspring and my other sweetie, The Boy (last but not least).

It's a bit of a challenge to write these posts about Christian and his show. I really don't want to give anything away because I want to preserve the mystery and awesomeness of what he does. Suffice to say, there's no sawing women in half, pulling rabbits out of hats or disappearing doves. No cheesy magic here.

What he does do is make you think he's reading your mind (and everyone else's in the crowd), in a creepy-cool yet innocently nostalgic setting, weaving childhood dreams and wishes with family history and seamless effects.

What Christian did not know until after the show was who my friends were in the audience. So to my complete and utter delight when he picked Ms. Wellspring to basically be the star of the end of the show, I could not help but grin even more. There are a few little extra surprises to that tale, but she tells it much better than I do, so read her post.


What I would love is for all of you local yokels to make it out to The Pandora Experiment before it retires for the indefinite future. This show has been very popular and this is the third incarnation of it because it's been so well-received.

But after this run, it's not going to be performed anymore, and I'd hate for you to miss out. So here are the deets. The show runs through August 16.

Please go and be sure to tell Christian that tangobaby sent you! OH, and before I forget, I'd love to help Christian get some reviewers out to see the show. For those of you who have contacts at blogs, newspapers, etc. that can help promote this show, will you do that for me? I'd thank you and I know Christian would love it!


And just because I really like this, here's the little trailer I made for Christian's show a while back:

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I'm Not Here

Good morning!

I hopped the red eye last night and decided to spend the day in Paris...instead of wasting today sitting in a boring office with stressed-out people, and pretending to work.

Won't you join me? This song will make you smile, promise. I've been singing it all morning, and I think every time you do, Air France gives you frequent flyer miles.

Monday, July 28, 2008

I Missed the Sixties

Since I'm still having some nostalgia from the last post, here's a favorite song to listen to before bed...

But where do you go to my lovely
When you're alone in your bed
Tell me the thoughts that surround you
I want to look inside your head, yes I do...


I'm off to dreamland. Have a good night.

Positively Haight Street

"You know, I went to Haight-Ashbury, expecting it to be this brilliant place, and it was just full of horrible, spotty, dropout kids on drugs. It certainly showed me what was really happening in the drug culture. It wasn’t what was I thought of all these groovy people having spiritual awakenings and being artistic. It was like the Bowery, it was like alcoholism, it was like any addiction. " ~ George Harrison

Yesterday I took myself for a walk down Haight Street (which is easy to do since it's the closest neighborhood to mine).
The Haight alternately amuses and confounds me. I find it interesting and totally clichéd, wild and disgusting and freaky and totally San Franciscan.
I think it's probably that the myth of the Summer of Love and the hype has created the Haight more than anything else, but I thought you'd like to accompany me on my little tour...
An appreciation for Hindu gods, Free Tibet, multiple piercings, facial tattoos, and alternative anything is de rigueur. Either that, or you'll be one of the myriad of tourists clutching maps, wearing shorts, wondering why it's so damn cold and why is everything so dirty.
Vintage hippy hat above. Vintage stores abound here, and their items are not inexpensive, either.
There are lots of street kids begging for money. It's a different crowd than the regular homeless people you see all over town. Lots of these kids look like suburban runaways, maybe here on some drug-fueled adventure.
This is a place where capitalism is adored (get yer tie-dye and bongs here!), but all economic and philosophical persuasions are tolerated.
The mural on the side of the Anarchist Bookstore reads: History remembers two kinds of people-- those who murder and those who fight back.
This fella was setting out brightly colored flags for the Participarade. He invited me to walk with the parade to Golden Gate Park. But I was too busy taking photos, so I just thanked him.
Murals and colors abound.
Just walking. And sitting.
I love the architecture here.
It is possible to get a contact high just by walking down the street. (That's incense, obviously.)

Need I say more?


Ta-da. The end of the walk.

Here's the song that started it all:

More Haight photos here.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tell Me the Truth

I'm just getting ready to go outside for another excursion today: to take some photos, of course.

I took loads and loads of photos yesterday. What I find is that most of the images are average-looking, some are total crap, and a few thrill me to no end. It's like panning for gold. I'm a miner waiting for my next nugget to emerge from the silt in my tray.

I've had some verifiable thrillers recently, more than I can take the time today to upload to my photoblog, but I will.

I've got most of them on flickr for now, if you want to take a peek while I'm still sorting.

Are you having fun this weekend? Getting some rest? I hope so...I miss you guys but the siren song of my camera is calling me. I just have to find a few more gems and then I'll settle down for today. Maybe.

ps.: I just created a profile on JPG magazine. I finally made myself write a bio: I am in love with the world because of photography. Having a camera in my hand is like holding a little bit of heaven.

Somehow this camera just seems to tell me the truth. Or else it's showing me just what I want to see.

Photo happily taken by me yesterday at The Musee Mechanique.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Light at the End of the Tunnel

It's been a long week, hasn't it? (I know it's not just me, right?)

I'm so looking forward to...oh, I don't know what, but it certainly doesn't involve being at this desk at all!

Some of you wonderful blogosphere people really made my week very special. Your cheery and sweet selves were little lifelines that dragged me out of the doldrums and made me smile.

Thank you, friends.

Now go out and play! (But watch for cars.)




ps. This is a photo I took from that photowalk I was telling you about. (It's the Stockton Tunnel, coming back from Chinatown.) You can see some of the pictures we took here.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Love Thursday 1

This is my first entry for Love Thursday, a regular wonderful part of Shutter Sisters.
That's the group I was so excited about that I mentioned last week.
Every Thursday, you are to post a photo of love. It can be any thing you see around you.
I chose this as my first photo because of what the little girl told us about her dog. She said that she had to love him more than other dogs because he only had one eye, and that no one else wanted him. I was so happy for that dog and for the sweetness of the child, and that they were such good friends.
Love Thursday. I think I can get used to this. See more love here.
Perhaps you might share some love on your blog, too?
Happy Love Thursday!

California Dreamin'

So, can you afford an 18% salary cut? I sure as hell can't.

I'm not a math wizard but I'm pretty sure that if I was making $8.00 an hour and then my pay was going to be reduced to $6.55 an hour, I'd be very upset and would have a very hard time making ends meet. Especially when a gallon of gas costs almost half of that hourly rate now.

This morning, however, there's an article in SF Gate about the Governator's plan to help solve the state budget crisis by doing that very thing: by cutting the hourly wages of state workers. (I am going to take a leap of faith in assuming that even the C-student journalism standards of SF Gate got the reporting on this story correct.)

According to his website, Arnold Schwarzenegger is known as "The People's Governor." I've known that the man's held this office for some years now, but like most "breaking" news, world events, and things lumped into the category of I'll-Never-Understand-This and I-Can't-Do-Anything-About-It-Anyway, I just haven't troubled myself much to have an opinion on the matter of his governorship. I'm of the mindset generally that there's really one political party, the object of which is to maintain the status quo for those in power. So I'll just go about my business and live my life and keep reading George Orwell from time to time to sharpen my skepticism. Unless things change in November.

(It's also very hard for me to visualize this person as our governor because I know what he looks like naked. I will admit to seeing all three Terminator films, but those movies did not inspire me to vote for the guy.)

I don't know about you, but this proposed policy just sounds horribly unfair and that it will hurt the people who need that $1.45 an hour extra the most. I just wrote this post about democracy and got all hopeful again, and then I read things like this and figure nothing will really change.

What do you think? Is California more deluded than other places? How did we get to all of this?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What Is Democracy to You?

"No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent."
~ Abraham Lincoln
"The unconscious democracy of America is a very fine thing. It is a true and deep and instinctive assumption of the equality of citizens, which even voting and elections have not destroyed."
~ G.K. Chesterton
"We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people."
~ John F. Kennedy

I know some of us have touched on this topic earlier in the month. I tried my hand at it.

There's a second contest at JPG magazine I want to enter. The theme is Democracy. (You remember the first contest, right? You voted for me, right? Just checking.)

What images come to mind when you think of democracy? I'm curious to know. This is one image I like a lot.

Somehow, I am starting to feel more hopeful about democracy lately. I hope, I hope. But that last quote by Kennedy makes me realize how much we as a people have not been told.


Now I need your opinion on which photo above you think I should enter for the Demcracy contest. You don't even need to tell me why you like the one you pick, but if you wanted to, that would be great.


ps. Of course, I'll be hitting you up for a vote then, too, but let's just take one thing at a time. ($100 will buy me a lot of AA batteries for my little ol' Canon.)



UPDATE 7/27: I chose the last photo (the "Obama Fence") for the contest. You can vote for it by clicking on the icon of the image in the sidebar. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ticking Things Off The List

Okay, I'm trying to get some of the little things off my plate before I jump into all that other stuff I was telling you about.

First off, I have to thank my sweet and faraway shutterbug sister and chef extraordinaire Christina at Soul Aperture for turning me onto JPG magazine. And the contests they're having right now.

Please do visit Christine's blog. I know you'll love it and while you're there, vote for her because she's got a photo entered into the Geometry Contest.


Now, back to me. I've entered a photo in the Backstage Contest at JPG. You can see the cover icon immediately to the right in the sidebar, with the lovely Ms. Red Shoes backstage.

Perfect, ain't it? Sooooo, my friends and companions...

Click on that cover and VOTE FOR ME! I want to win $100 and get my picture on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Oh, wait. That's a song.

I want to win $100 and get a free year's subscription to JPG magazine. Oh please oh please vote for me.

Herein ends the shameless begging.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.


Did you vote yet?

Okay, I'm stopping now. Promise. I totally trust you.


My future as a photographic savant depends on this contest but no guilt or anything.

ps. If you told like all of your friends to vote for me and maybe even linked to this post, that would be extra cool and really super duper nice of you, too.

Watch This Space

I've got several posts brewing and lots of ideas and things I want to run past you and ask your advice on, and then some other stuff too, but right now these posts sure ain't writing themselves and it seems that you respond well to a photo of a cute doggy (like this one and this one and this one) as a placeholder so...

So, please watch this space and I'll be back shortly.

More pups live here.


Monday, July 21, 2008

A Tribute to Busby Berkeley?

Besides all the other amazing accomplishments and talents that my buddy Johanna has to her credit (dancer, author, director, wise woman, kitty helper, etc.), you may want to know that she is an incredible photographer and has finally started uploading her photos to flickr. (Yay.)

I've been cracking up all morning about these piggies. I don't know exactly why these photos are making me crazy, but true to form, I have been inspired to make yet another movie comparison: the fantastical extravaganzas of the Busby Berkeley musicals.

Perhaps it is the quarter that reminds me of this crazy (and crazy famous) number with Ginger Rogers in the blessed pre-Code days of Hollywood:

Ah! And the clip has PIG LATIN in it! Damn, I'm good.


ps. If you haven't seen The Gold Diggers of 1933, you should.

pps. If you want to see more piggies, go here.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Fantastical Whimsical Wonderful Tea Party

Okay, kids, here is the tea party update.

It was a typical San Francisco summer morning (i.e., totally freezing, grey skies, windy, wear-your-coat weather) but the climate inside the exotic and serene Samovar Tea Lounge couldn't have been warmer and sunnier.

Lovely Gypsy Girl and brilliant Paris Parfait assembled a list of ladies that have inspired, enchanted and basically wow'ed the heck out of me. (I kind of felt like a slacker compared to them, but in a good way, like a "wow, I want to be like you when I grow up" role model kind of way.)

Normally I would give you a blow-by-blow account of the food, but in this case, the tea and treats were barely noticed by yours truly given the female wonderment that was seated all around me.

I have to say, these women, all accomplished artists, writers, thinkers and possibilitarians made me realize the power of dreams realized and talent recognized. Several are having books published or already have. Some have had successful art gallery exhibitions or have photography projects in the works. Several are world travelers and adventuresses.

All are bright, captivating and made me realize that our tea time was just a tiny drop in the barrel compared with what might be if we had hours, days to spend together.

So in the meantime, you and I will have to visit their blogs together, and hope that some of us may gather again in the not-so-distant future. In the meantime, I'll be going back to read these blogs so now I can attach wonderful words, art and heart with the smiling faces of today.


Image of vintage tea postcard found here.

Honorable Mention

Well, my lunchtime walks in Chinatown have paid off.

I just have to tell you this little story because I thought it was pretty darn cool...

My sweet friend Gypsy Girl (you remember her) sent me a link to a photography group called Shutter Sisters.

As soon as I saw what the Shutter Sisters were all about, I knew I had to be a part of them. And Gypsy Girl also mentioned a photo walk of San Francisco they were going to have after the photography session at BlogHer, a conference that was going on downtown this weekend (where lots of lady bloggers from the four corners of the earth descended onto the St. Francis Hotel to eat, sleep and breathe all things bloggy. No, I did not go.).

Gypsy Girl and I decided we'd like to join up for the photo walk, and we all met in the lobby at the appointed time. (Within about five minutes, I'd already made a new friend, too, the lovely Abbey.) But let me back up a sec...I'm leaving someone out. One of the reasons I wanted to go on this walk was to meet Karen, because she's one of the Shutter Sisters' team and I think her photography is exceptionally beautiful. (And yes, she is that gorgeous in person.)

So as the large group split up into smaller groups, and I made sure I was in Karen's group after introducing myself, Karen asked if anyone knew enough about downtown to help her lead her group (she's from Houston) and of course, I piped up. I mean, downtown is where I spend most of my life and I try to walk and take photos at lunchtime and before and after work as much as I can there.

I gave Karen two options since we only had 45 minutes for our excursion: the Art Deco buildings or Chinatown. The group resoundingly chose Chinatown, and I was glad because I've gone there so many times just to wander and take photos, so I already knew a lot of great photo ops. I've also done my homework and done a lot of reading about the history of Chinatown, because I like to know things about where I am, and Chinatown fascinates me to no end.

Anyway, long story short, I ended up leading the tour (I'm guessing we had about 30-40 people?), and I had a great time doing it. I got to pull out all of my Chinatown historical trivia: stories about some of the buildings, about the former brothels, the gambling going on in Spofford Alley, my favorite sign (The American Institute of Nose Disease) and to the myriad other sights that make you want to pull out your camera and click away.

I think everyone had a fun time. All the participants are going to send in photos of the walk to a communal group to share, and it will be exciting to see what people took photos of. (I'll let you know when that happens so you can see what we did.)

At the end of the walk, Karen took something off from around her neck and put it around mine: the Shutter Sisters Flashbulb necklace. In recognition of my tourguiding skills, I was made an Honorary Shutter Sister for a day.

Woo hoo!

And do you want to know what the secret best part of that story is? When I first went to the Shutter Sisters website that same day, I fell in love with that little flashbulb necklace and decided I would get one in the future.

And here it was, maybe just six hours later, and I had my own necklace, but the bonus was that it was already infused with the lovely energy of Karen, who'd worn it first.

Okay, I've got to run for now. I've got that tea party I told you about. And I have to figure out what to wear with my new necklace.

Catch you later, guys. ;-)


ps. Can anyone tell what that little ticket is in the top photo? Bonus points to you sharp-eyed people if you can!

Friday, July 18, 2008

You Can't Say This Doesn't Make a Statement

This may or may not be news to those of you in San Francisco, but here's the latest on the The San Francisco Department of Elections mission to rename the sewage plant in honor of George W. Bush for the Nov 4th general election: It's a go.

San Francisco may need to get its sh*t together on many levels, but you can't say that we don't know what we want to do with our poo. We want to dedicate it to George W. Bush.

I love this town.

Thanks to FogBay for first alerting me to this story a while back with follow up to the "official" site here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Faw Down, Go Boom

So, I'm just curious... what word do you blurt out loud without any self-control when something unexpectedly unpleasant happens?

Apparently my free-association word of choice is the f-word. And I say it really loud, too.


Goodness gracious. I haven't done that in a long time.

Wipe out, bite the dust, take a spill.

I totally killed myself at the bakery on the way home from work today. I thought it would be fun to have a little chocolate chip cookie to eat on the train.

Fate was against me.

Upon collecting my cookie, I took maybe one or two steps before my entire self was falling to the floor as predicted by Newton's law of universal gravitation. I don't even know what I did.

Well, I do know what I did. I fell on every part of my body that was sticking out to keep me from falling: knee, left hip (ow, that one's gonna have a big bruise), elbows, heel of one hand, and even my iPhone (it still works!). But the most exciting part was smacking the left side of my head against a cement column. Don't do that. It makes a really bad sound.

While I was doing all of this stunt double stuff, I was saying the f-word at volume. And just to punctuate the moment, my hot little chocolate chip cookie flew out of my hand and landed on the sidewalk about two feet away from my head. Pathetic.

Everyone in the bakery was stunned, including me. Instantly I wanted my mom, a natural reflex, even at my age (but I would have had to lie there for an hour or two if I wanted her to drive up to the city to kiss my boo-boos). I did not cry, but the lady gave me another cookie and an extra one, as a bonus. I felt like I was five years old.

The point of all of this mini-drama made me wonder what it is in our brains in times of crisis that makes us choose to say one word over another? I mean, I could have said "Shoot!" or "Blueberry!" but instead I happen to choose another word.

I'm sure Oliver Sacks could explain this to me, but right now I'm just going to watch my step.

You people be careful out there, okay?


Another reason for this post is that in keeping with my continued unintentional penchant for associating little tidbits of my life to movies, I wanted to mention a Laurel and Hardy 1928 silent called We Faw Down. I haven't seen it in a long time, but I remember it fondly. This film was the precursor to one of my very favorite films of the boys, Sons of the Desert.

There, just thinking about Laurel and Hardy is making me feel a little better.

What a Difference a Year Makes

But what minutes! Count them by sensation, and not by calendars, and each moment is a day. ~ Benjamin Disraeli


It's pretty much an accident that I discovered that today is my blog's first birthday. That was a fun little mind-boggling thought, I can tell you.

A year ago, I really wasn't quite sure what a blog even was.
A year ago, I was still trying to remember that I wasn't visiting San Francisco, but was actually a resident.
A year ago, I still had a car.
A year ago, I still owned a pair of shorts.
A year ago, I didn't have a camera.
A year ago, I didn't have the friends I have now, thanks to this little technological wonder we call the interwebs.


I almost didn't write this post because I figured it's kind of silly, a year is an arbitrary marker of time, and who cares? I'm not a very nostalgic person myself.

And then I thought about all of the doors that have opened for me, the knowledge I've gained, the words I've written, the things I think about now, the people who have touched my life and made it nicer and sweeter--all directly attributable to my little tangobaby patch of the blogosphere.

This Sunday I'm going to have a lovely tea/brunch with a new friend from Paris and another new friend from San Francisco (and we'll be joined by another 10 or 12 that I have not met yet), all of us living different lives and some in different cities, but all connected somehow by our words and thoughts. I would never have met these people in forever and a day if not through blogging.

And for all of the rest of you who I've come into contact with through this medium, thank you for hanging out with me. And for those of you who've just arrived, welcome.

I'm glad to know you.

Photo Time... from flickr.

A Beautiful Compassionate Heart

I am totally blown away by something I just read.

There is a poetess, a caregiver, a sensitive with a large and compassionate heart that lives up in the cold, faraway kingdom of Alaska: mrs. sarah ott.

It's hard to describe Sarah, except to say that every time I read something she has written, I am touched and amazed by her wisdom, her ability to look at life through a very real, yet also very magical, prism.

in its raw, frazzled state, genius abounds and so in its natural wild, this creature transforms canvas to art. puts its stamp on life that says: THIS IS WHAT YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND. and we the normal, stand before it in pencil skirts and legal pads, criticizing a level of genius we know nothing about. (wrtten off simply, insanity) in museums across the globe, we buy framed complicated concepts and hang them on our walls so that we appear more genuine and sophisticated.
Sarah's post today brings back memories of a troubled, brilliant soul I once knew and makes me realize that the things we cling to, what we sometimes hold most dear in our "normal" world, is often so shallow, without roots. She also makes me think about the people that help others so selflessly, with open eyes and willing hearts. Thank you, Sarah, for being one of those angels in the world.
(Perhaps I have these thoughts now as everyone in our office scurries to and fro to build penthouses and ski chalets for multi-millionares who will complain about the color of the Cape Walnut veneer being a shade off, that the imported Italian marble is just a bit dull, while looking for the perfect piece of some madman's art [his psyche] to hang above their meticulously crafted custom fireplaces.)
I took that photo last night on a walk down Haight Street.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Health Care Update

Apparently, the only way I am really able to process potential issues with my health is to automatically convert all incoming information into movie dialogue.

Some of my blood work is abnormal (but nothing that can't be tweaked thanks to a new prescription, so don't worry).

But as soon as I heard that word: abnormal, all I could see was Marty Feldman getting in trouble.


Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder): "Igor, would you mind telling me whose brain I did put in?"
Igor (Marty Feldman): "And you won't be angry?"
Frankenstein: "I will NOT be angry."
Igor: "Abby someone."
Frankenstein: "Abby someone. Abby who?"
Igor: "Abby Normal."
Frankenstein: "Abby Normal?! "
Igor: "I'm almost sure that was the name."


I am sure I have told you a million times, but I'll just say it again. I LOVE THIS FILM.

Sometimes the weaker ones will panic.

Mickey (Woody Allen): "I got the classic symptoms of a brain tumor."
Gail (Julie Kavner): "Two months ago, it was a malignant melanoma."
Mickey: "The sudden appearance of a black spot on my back?"
Gail: "It was on your shirt."
Mickey: "How was I to know?"


I don't know if it's because I've watched this movie too many times and it's turned me into a hypochondriac, but last week I went to the doctor and she called on Friday and left me a voicemail on my cell phone to call her back at my earliest convenience, but didn't say what it was about.

I didn't get the message until 5pm on Friday so of course all weekend I kind of thought that maybe I was dying (a little bit). In between watching movies at the Silent Film Festival.

Tell me you do that sort of thing too.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Bleary-Eyed Movie Maven

"It would have been more logical if silent pictures had grown out of the talkies instead of the other way around." ~ Mary Pickford


That's it. The San Francisco Silent Film Festival is over.


I sat for many hours in a darkened theatre with almost 2,000 other enthusiastic cineastes.

It was a weekend of plucky orphans and exotic princesses and Ojibway Indians and powerful caliphs and underdogs and heroes and lovers.

It's hard to know what to tell you about the festival, really. I mean, it wouldn't make a lot of sense to describe movies you haven't seen, because that won't relay the power and attraction that these movies have.

I guess one thing I can tell you is something that The Boy says: These movies are a perfect form of time travel.

They are, of course, because you can see in exquisite detail the life in the teens and Twenties, when this country was undergoing monumental changes in technology and social roles and mores. But to me, these films are not only a way-back machine, but also a timelessness machine. What I see in these films, apart from great acting, interesting cinematography and inventive stories, are that people still want and love and dream of the same things, today just as they did almost 100 years ago.

One thing that I also enjoy about this festival is the amount of education I receive about the movies I am about to watch. The festival brings in respected critics (Leonard Maltin is a regular) and film historians and archivists, who explain the historical significance of these movies and what they mean to us as well as audiences in the past. Often, the stories of how these films have literally been saved from assured deterioration and are painstakingly conserved so that they can go on to be enjoyed by future generations are almost as interesting as the movies themselves. So few of these films have actually survived (some reports are less than 10%--meaning over 90% of these films are lost forever), that the ones that can be shown are even more important than ever.

One of the tragedies of our modern entertainment industry is that it leaves no room for exposing most people to the films of times past. Seeing a silent (or any classic film, for that matter) on television is a very second-place alternative but one that often is the only alternative. When these treasured films are given the venue and the opportunity to be viewed on a big screen like they were intended to be, the life and substance of the stories, the vibrance of the acting, all of that springs to life.

Otherwise, these films suffer the fate of becoming museum pieces and quaint curiosities.


I'm going to recap a few films here, and I hope that someday you can see them too. Clips of these films on youtube are rare, as you might imagine, but I've found a few that you'll enjoy if you have a few minutes to watch.

One highlight of the festival was The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926), by German animator Lotte Reiniger. This stunning and enchanting film took three years to complete, animated entirely by delicate paper silhouette figures. This film, a pastiche of stories from One Thousand and One Nights, is the oldest surviving animated feature film and Reiniger the first female animator.

The clip below is one of the highlights of the film, when Prince Achmed finds the exotic harem:

Harold Lloyd's amazing talent is experiencing a renaissance after many years of neglect. Along with Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, he was one of the world's most popular and successful comedic actors.

I'll be honest and tell you that Lloyd is my favorite of the classic silent comedians. His films are fast, witty and expertly made. There's never a dull moment in a Harold Lloyd film and the one we saw, The Kid Brother, was accompanied by a live orchestra, the Mont Alto Picture Orchestra from Colorado.

The only clip I could find from this film is here, but it gives you a taste.


Whereas many American silents are imbued with a somewhat innocent manner, the German Expressionism movement during the height of the Weimar Republic created incomparably powerful and sophisticated movies.

The German adaptation of Victor Hugo's novel The Man Who Laughs, starring future Casablanca bad guy Conrad Veidt, was an ornate melodrama of love and pain and loss. The disfigured hero, his beautiful, yet blind, angelic love, the cruel villians that try to keep them apart...and the woman who obviously inspired Madonna's signature style.

(The entire film is actually available in sections on youtube, beginning here, but if you can rent the DVD...)


Lon Chaney Sr., the Man of 1000 Faces, was a terrifically talented actor. Raised by deaf-mute parents, he was perfectly destined to work in a medium where a voice was not a prerequisite. His face, so agile and so expressive, even without makeup, is fascinating to watch. Paired with an extremely young and very sexy Joan Crawford (not the Mildred Pierce variety you are thinking of) and directed by Tod Browning (now idolized as a cult director) in an atmosphere of circus creepiness...there is not a movie today that even comes close to The Unknown.


I know this is a lot of information that might only be of interest to a few of you, but if you even get to see one of these films (and be sure to let me know!), I'll be so happy to know a new appreciator is out there to help spread the word about these wonderful, artistic treasures.

An excellent introduction to many silent (and other classic films) and the impact they have on modern movies and directors today is the four-hour documentary film presented by Martin Scorsese and produced by the British Film Institute, called A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies, is a DVD series I highly recommend for your film history education.