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Showing posts from 2010

A 'captivating' book

I heard about the tragic news of the death of 10 aid workers killed in Afghanistan just as I was finishing journalist Jere van Dyk's book Captive.Captive is the story of Mr. van Dyk's 2008 return visit to Afghanistan and Pakistan where he set out to conduct research on the northwest tribal areas. On the way to a chieftain's home, van Dyk and three Afghanis were captured and held prisoner for several weeks.

With years of experience with the mighty pen, van Dyk is able to convey the gut-wrenching feeling psychological torture and possible death. Every day van Dyk wondered who might behead or shoot him as he pleads for his life with his captors. van Dyk repeatedly states that he wasn't physically tortured.

van Dyk's descriptive writing puts the reader into a constant state of claustrophia as the events unfold in a barbaric Afghan "structure."

Captive will bring you one step closer to gaining a better understanding of the Taliban and Pashtun mindset.

An inside look at 'War'

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If you ever wish to gain insider's look at the war in Afghanistan, look no further than Sebastian Junger's "War." After being embedded with a single platoon for 15 months, Junger came out of the experience with detailed stories of firefights and life in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley. Beyond his vivid depictions, Junger goes into the effects of war on the platoon members' military and civilian lives. Filled with the adrenaline rush of war and the heartbreak of attempting to adjust to civilian life, the author brings the reader into understanding as to what is happening on the inside of the complicated conflict.

"War" is not just another military account where author attempts to make readers "feel combatants' pain." The book is an essential volume in history for its in-depth examination of war's psychological impact. Junger goes above and beyond in his reporting to study the human mind in situations where extraordinary comradeship …

The Ides of March and my discovery of sound film

March 15 marks the 30th anniversary of my first Super 8mm Sound film. In early 1980, we were already into silent filmmaking for about a year. When Dan and I filmed Stunted Man in January 1980 in a local drugstore, I noticed an empty box from a Super 8mm film cartridge. It had sound-waves on it.

“What’s this?” I queried myself. “Could it be that you can actually record images and sound on a Super 8 cartridge?”

The answer to me was a resounding, “yes” as I grabbed a copy of Super 8 Filmmaker from Dan’s room later that day to find out just what this “sound thing” was. I soon discovered that I had to get my hands on a Super 8mm Sound camera. My parents obliged with a Bell and Howell Soundstar from Best Products in North Randall, Ohio. My mother reminded me that I was indeed lucky to get this 13th birthday gift. Indeed I was. Both Dan and I later invested in Bell and Howell sound projectors. We were growing by leaps and bounds.

Newstalk was the perfect choice for our first sound film. We…

Chile Aid

Indeed I help to cover the news of tragedy. Sometimes it hits close to home as it did with me a few years back. A neighbor's mom was on a flight that crashed in Peru. I'm not sure of anyone else, but when that type of connection is established, it leaves me frozen-cold in my tracks.

The recent Chile Quake is another such tragedy that left me with similar feelings. I learned through Facebook that one of the finest interns that I have ever known was in the thick of the quake. She wrote me a moving letter describing her horrific experience.

I wrote her on a lark thinking that, well maybe, just maybe she was unaffected. I'm not sure where that wishful thinking comes from. After receiving the response, I'm now thinking about her and the scores of good people in Chile who are trying to repair their lives.

Here are some links to help:


Red Cross for Chile

Habitat for Humanity for Chile

Oscar, Oscar

I caught some of the E! Preshow with Ryan Seacrest on this gorgeous Sunday evening. Everybody loves Ryan, it seems. Anyway, I saw some of the films nominated. I'm pulling for anything/anyone associated with "The Hurt Locker," "Up In The Air," and "A Single Man." After this evening, I'll have to see "Crazy Heart." I really love those character studies. It's always heartwarming to see those smaller independent productions get the notice that they deserve. While many are raving about films like "The Blind Side" and "Avatar," I can truly wait for those on DVD.

Tea Party Convention mini-doc

This is quite an entertaining and sobering mini-documentary produced by Chase Whiteside:

Click the following URL to view:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHItY5Anj3s

Here is the mini player with direct playback capabilities:

Stunted Man - 30 years on

Our little three-minute film productions were increasing as 1980 began. Stunted Man is one of the first of those "productions." I remember being excited about "shooting on location" -- away from our immediate neighborhood. We chose to film this one at a nearby drugstore that had a safe, an integral part of this film's story. Since my dad served as a pharmacist at that location in the late 1970s, I knew it was the place to film Stunted Man.

Stunted Man is a simple story that Dan came up with during our seventh grade winter break: a superhero goes after a thief who raids the drugstore's safe. Of course, Stunted Man comes to the rescue.

About two years before this film was shot, my father was held up in this very Revco store. The thieves ordered him to open up the store's safe -- not the same one shown in this film. I think that element of the story was my suggestion. Dan came up with Stunted Man's outfit,which in this film, is his late '70s joggi…

A week of loss

In a week with a devastating earthquake in Haiti and the passing of R&B legend Teddy Pendergrass, word comes from Memphis that punk rocker Jay Reatard has passed. There is one video of Jay's that caught my eye in the recent past titled, "It Ain't Gonna Save Me."

Check it out on MTV's site:

Jay Reatard - New Music - More Music Videos
And read the story on this site