Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sea of Mending ... a film by Amanda Gotera


I'm very proud to present today a brand-new, short film made by my oldest daughter, Amanda Blue Gotera. Below are a couple of screencaps from it. The film was inspired by former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser's poem "A Jar of Buttons," from his poetry collection Delights and Shadows, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005.

Click image to see it larger.
Click here to view the film.

 

The young woman who appears in the film sewing a button onto her sweater is my next oldest daughter, Amelia Blue Gotera. As you might imagine, my buttons (forgive the pun) are fit to burst.

If you've got five minutes, please watch and enjoy "Sea of Mending." Then, won't you come back here and write a comment below? Both Amanda and I would love to know your thoughts about the film.

Thanks so much. Ingat . . . take good care.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Don't Judge ...


. . . a book by its cover. That's what we say, isn't it? Well, in reality most of us — if not all &mdash do that kind of judging all the time, not just with books but also with people, what they wear, what they carry, their cars (if they drive one), the cars they don't drive (if that's the case, right?), how they talk, what they tweet or even if they tweet, what their facebook or myspace or Google+ profile is like, yadda yadda whatever. You know how it goes.

In this virtual planet we call the blogosphere, as you know, that kind of judging is also operative; a blog title (or its subtitle or tag line) as well as the titles of individual posts can mean everything, can decide whether a reader's gonna dip into a blog and into a post or not. I like to think I'm good at this Madison Avenue–branding blah blah blah and that you're actually reading these words because the word judge and also the word don't in my title above snagged you. Or that images, like the picture to the right of the next paragraph, are performing like a "good hook" . . . especially in something like a tumblr(esque) blog.

Well, yesterday, at my local city library, I got snagged. Near the checkout robot whatchamacallits, there was one of those rollaway bookshelf/cart thingies that advertised withdrawn library books for sale. Fifty cents! And for hardbacks too. Since I also like to think I'm a savvy deal-finder I was immediately sucked in.

As a quote-unquote deal-finder, I often annoy my wife Mary Ann by consistently telling friends what a great low price I paid on eBay for some recent purchase or other, like for example these Beatle (or Beatle-ish) boots I'm wearing at this moment: Giorgio Brutini demi-boots with Cuban heels . . . $21. I'm guessing they would typically be priced at no less than $80, though I suspect they might be vintage, probably no longer available available new (?), and may cost even more. Such a deal, hey?

Anyway, the title of one particular nonfiction book on that sale rack yesterday snagged me: Science Friction by Michael Shermer. In case your brain's messing with your eyes &mdash and of course our brains are always (re)editing what we see, etc. — there's an R in that second word. What a clever title, I thought. Especially given the subtitle of Shermer's book: Where the Known Meets the Unknown. The vertical image of a recently snuffed, smoky match highlights the idea of friction, of the scientific known rubbing up against, irritating, the unknown, igniting them, one might suppose, into an intriguing intellectual flame. If you hold a match upside down, like it's shown here, you're gonna scorch your fingers, even more intriguing.

The book's cover art further embedded that 50-cent hook. As you can see, we've got a black cover against which the main title SCIENCE FRICTION floats in white. There's a subtle 3D effect in play. The subtitle in a shade of mustard, because of its warm color, feels slightly closer to the viewer than the cool white of the title and Shermer's by-line. The identical warmness of the match's color moves toward us as well while the smoke emanating from the match tip dips even further behind the white title. Fascinating visual effect (and marketing ploy). I hope the jacket designer, Lisa Fyfe, won't mind too much that I've tainted her cover a little by leaving that white 50-cent sticker stuck on ... that low price is crucial to my self-image as a dealer-wheeler, etc. etc.

Trying to locate a suitable image of the book cover online (before I finally decided to scan it myself because there weren't any good ones), I learned through googola woogola that the phrase "science friction" has been used quite a lot. Google it yourself, focusing especially on images . . . you'll find quite a fascinating array of images/uses. Here are a few of the more intriguing ones.

A comic book cover–style flyer for a Naked Girls Reading event in Boston. Click on the picture at right to expand this full-color image, trés cool. This Naked Girls Reading phenomenon &mdash something new to me — seems to be an performance-art movement that started in Chicago: nude women reading literature in public performance. The main NGR website features international "franchises" in cities across the US and the world. Check out the NGR blog as well. In this context, the word "friction" in Boston's "science friction" event is entertainingly bawdy and . . . well, you come up with your own adjective.

I wonder if Naked Girls Reading is related (if only in spirit) to a couple other onine "literary nudity" projects: novelist Tracy Williams, known as The Naked Blonde Writer, who has read her work naked online, and fiction writer Carol Muskoron who, according to Google, has (had?) a website called Naked Novelist. I couldn't get this site to load today, but here's an interview of Muskoron by Andrea Semple. (Semple's cool literary website also has other interviews of authors that are worth checking out. Also, as far as I can tell nakednovelist.com exists but seems to be at present just a blank page. Evidently, from articles written ten years ago, Muskoron was a webcam lifecaster who could be watched writing in the nude.)

At any rate, back to Naked Girls Reading, it seems fairly easy to open your own franchise if there isn't already one in your area . . . browse the NGR website. Obviously some people will find this art movement derogatory to women while others will see it as positive feminist activism. Whatever its artistic assets or liabilities, I appreciate the way it surely (re)enlivens literature for a variety of audiences, especially young 20-somethings. You be the judge.

Back to the phrase "science friction" . . .

There's an illustrated novella by that title written by furry fandom writer Kyell Gold . . . sold by publisher FurPlanet as "a work of anthropomorphic fiction for adult readers only."

Science Friction is also the name of a scoring, composition, and sound design company — duo George Martindell and Frank Sonsini — see scifrimusic.com.

British folk/rock singer/songwriter Roy Harper founded his own record label named Science Friction to distribute all his music from a recording career of 40+ years, via cd or download.


Photo by wikipedia user Trharp, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

There is also a clothing line named Science Friction, based in California. About this company, owner and designer Fortino Cortez says, "Science Friction was formed with the intention of sharing my love for the vast universe, its contents, sci-fi of all types and the unknown." Go to www.sciencefrictionclothing.com to see Cortez's designs and clothing.

Well, that's probably enough, though there's more, plenty more: TV shows, cartoons — an episode of Huckleberry Hound, a Ben 10 intersection — bawdy storytelling, a Dr. Who tribute in the form of a Cyber(wo)man cosplay by fashion, costume, and footwear designer (and tumblr blogger) Rachael Gray (photo at left, Kinky Salon London party titled Science Friction). Pretty tenuous connection, really, but I'm an avid Dr. Who fan. And also a fan of Ms. Gray's artistry. Check out her blog and portfolio at rachaelgray.tumblr.com and fauxred.com — she's definitely a cordwainer par excellence.

Well, I'm really not too sure any more how we got here, but clearly the phrase "science friction" is resonant and evocative indeed. And as a title it rocks!

I'll get back to you about the Shermer book Science Friction. I've started reading and it's definitely fascinating. Perhaps we can judge a book by its cover. At least, sometimes. Let's leave it there, shall we?


Please post a comment below. I'd love to know what you're thinking. Ingat . . . take good care. Happy Thanksgiving!

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