Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It Aint Free

I fly back to L.A. tomorrow, first class again, but it turns out it's not free. It's about thirty five dollars per 500 mile upgrade, and it costs 1,500 miles, so it costs one hundred and five dollars for the upgrade. I would cancel it now and happily fly coach, but because they don't tell you that you've been approved for the upgrade until the night before your flight, there are no seats left in coach, or any other flights tomorrow for that matter, so it's either pay the $105, fly first class, or don't fly at all. However, the friendly American Airline agent informed me that the ticket price for my seat is normally $1,445, whereas I'm only paying a total of $280, so I really can't complain. I think I'll drink a mimosa just to get my money's worth.

To delve deeper into the American Airlines advantage program, there's a difference between frequent flyer miles and what they call your 500 Mile Upgrade Account Balance. You get the second thing only after you fly 10,000 miles on top of the 20,000 elite miles you fly in a year. Confused yet?

I'm not a diva. But I flew around the world twice in the last two years, I flew in prop-planes, I took third class trains in India and I rode through hundreds of miles of barely existent dirt roads in Kenya in a van with blown out shocks. I'll take first class when I can get it.

On the other hand, I spent way beyond my means last month and I really should save my money. But I am also one of those rare people who just LOOOVES airline food. I mean, they gave me HOT assorted nuts last flight, they WARMED UP MY CASHEWS! Now I've talked myself into it, I can't wait to get my hot cloth, such luxury.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Lonely Planet Video Now On Youtube

I know you've probably already watched this, but just in case you haven't, I'm happy to report that Lonely Planet recently added my Ho Chi Minh: Adventures In Eating video to their Youtube account. Check it out if you have a minute.

Friday, December 26, 2008

It Has Come To My Attention

It has come to my attention, that the population of the world is getting dumber. We have been haste to apply systems to all aspects of modern life to make daily tasks easier, leaving behind foresight in design and focusing first and foremost on personal comfort with no thought for the global, or even community impact of our consumerism.

In response to this revelation, I am rededicating myself to the pursuit of knowledge. Like every self-described "revolutionary" before me, I want to single-handedly change the world, but like so many before me, I will not be destroyed by the failure of that pursuit. The power I have to affect a person take action to live more sustainably is completely dependent on the amount to which I live my own ideals.

I am reading more literature, I am looking at more art, I am learning more about the natural world, I am taking care of my own body and I am focusing more of my time and thoughts on God and peace. Eventually, these pursuits will lead me to ways of making the world a better, more peaceful, less polluted, more educated place.

The important thing, is that you remember that you have the ability to bring good into the world. Everything you do has a reaction and a consequence. So in the face of freewill, choose to be a good person. Be responsible, recycle, drive less, stick your gum wrapper in your pocket until you find a trash can, go pick up the napkin that blew off your table, smile at the little girl who is starring at you from the next table, hold the door for the person behind you, signal, eat right, exercise, use less credit, buy less, read more classic literature and less celebrity gossip, read international news, meditate, pray, pay your taxes, vote, exercise freedom of speech, save your money, travel, tip, hug people tightly, don't judge on first impressions and last but not least, learn how to fight so that when you see injustice you can bring it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

If Kyle Wrote a Children's Book...

If Kyle Wrote a Children's Book...I bet it'd be just as awesome as this one!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Jessica Doehle Can Bake

Punching Someone Out on Christmas

Today I went down to Old Town Pasadena, where there is a Patagonia store, to buy a Christmas present for a family member. It turns out that Old Town Pasadena is a really nice shopping area, almost an outdoor mall, so I just decided to knock out all of my Christmas shopping with a walk around the block. As I was walking down the packed side-walk, full of Christmas shoppers having a jolly time, to the tune of a Salvation Army bell ringer, much to my joyous surprise, a navy band of old gentleman, dressed up to the nines and armed with trombones and trumpets, began to play a truly beautiful rendition of "Winter Wonderland," when some young person in the crowd, exclaimed audibly, "Bah-HUMBUG!" Then again, the same thing. My Christmas-smile turned quickly into a Christmas, I'm-about-to-knock-a-fool-out.

I'm telling you, if I would have seen the words come out of that person's mouth, I would have reacted violently. Some days, I can't believe this is the world I live in.

I watched "Elf" with good friends this evening and ate homemade Christmas cookies to regain my cheer.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Big Picture 2008 - Year In Photographs

They range from hopeful and beautiful to tragic and sad. If a picture is worth a thousand words, you're about to read a few novels in a few minutes.

Click here for the photos.

It's Not Quite Wes Anderson

But I like it. Is that Futura font as well?

-Thanks Steve-O

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Macbook Pro & LED Display

Well, after chasing calls around L.A. yesterday to 4 different Apple Stores, I was finally able to procure the new 24 in. LED cinema display. This isn't a hasty purchase either. I've been wanted this system since I bought my first Apple, a 733Mhz G4 and 13inch Monitor in early 2001.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Broadcasting Their Christmas Cheer

Tammy Lane productions, friends of mine, are spending every day until Christmas filming a free and uplifting reality show and posting it for free on the internet. Joshua Colson, the 7 foot bearded wonder, who was featured in my own travel series is working 80+ hours a week to shoot, edit and upload a new video every single day.

As you may know, I spent summer 2007 and 2008 traveling through Kenya and India filming a TV concept called Mission Reality. A show that for lack of a better word, failed.
The show's creator, Tammy Lane, woke up one morning and decided to take about $100,000 and invest it into a production company and then take another $100,000 and give it to an orphanage in Kenya, take a few more thousand and buy a car for an orphanage in India, then give a bunch of good hearted film crew a few thousand dollars to fly around the world to film what she was doing and hopefully to sell a TV show based on the idea.

Two years later, they haven't made a dime. But they've done a lot of good in the world in the process.

All I'm asking is that you go to missionreality.tv and watch a few of their Youtube videos. If you want to click on the "Donate" button and send them a few dollars, I'm not going to stop you, but I'm also not going to ask you to do that.

These are good-hearted Christian people, trying to show the love of Christ and absolutely emptying their bank accounts to do it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Around The World In 30 Days, Day 11, Train to Agra

That's right, I'm resurrecting Around The World in 30 Days. After this video I hit my stride, going to the Taj Mahal, Jaipur India, The Kingdom of Bhutan, Bangkok Thailand, Angkor Wat, Vietnam and Tokyo.

Look forward to more soon.

By the way, please click here to watch it in 720p on Youtube.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Kevin Buchanan Sums Up How I Feel

I know the election wore you out, but if you've ever wondered what I believe politically, Kevin Buchanan, from the AWESOME website fortworthology.com pretty much summed it up with this post.

"...I have little faith in anything the Federal government says or does or in its ability to actually do the right thing. [...] No, I stay away from national events because I long ago lost faith in the Feds to do anything other than recklessly prop up the status quo, no matter how harmful or negative the status quo really is at its core. With news of Mr. Obama’s infrastructure plan coming out now, my opinion hasn’t really been shifted - this “change” appears to be barely any change at all. [...] A lot of people I know and respect thought that Mr. Obama would shake things up. While I’m sure he’ll make changes here and there, I fear a real shake up won’t happen without some very painful and, unfortunately, often avoidable troubles in the future to come. The politicos won’t really change until the bitter end. Even now, as gas prices fall once more under $2.00 a gallon, the old bad habits that put us into a world of hurt when it was $4.00 a gallon have returned - despite all the evidence that the drop won’t last forever. The summer’s prices ought to have been a warning of things to come, but the people invested in the status quo prefer to think of it as just a temporary inconvenience that will never happen again. It’ll get us in the end, of course, but that won’t be acknowledged until the very last. (And unfortunately, the price of gas has become the only point of discussion on this topic, even though there are plenty of other reasons to perhaps rethink the way we’ve been doing things since World War II ended.)"

Truth is very hard to sum up in sound-bites. Yes We Can what? If you need a quick refresher course, go back and read the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, The Bill of Rights and Amendments 11-27.

Please click here to read a short blurb about Kevin's website Fortworthology.com, even if you're not from Fort Worth. Basically, your life would be better if you could just walk from where you live to buy a gallon of milk, rather than having to drive. Kevin is doing important work.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Very Best: Esau Mwamwaya and Radioclit - Free Download

Been thinking to yourself, "I'd really love to jam to some uplifting Chichewa-laden afro-pop right now"? I guarantee, if you give this a chance, it'll be your favorite free download of music today, maybe even all week.

My favorite is the song Dinosaur On The Ark (Listen to the track).

Link to a free download of the entire album.

Link to a Pitchfork Media article about the album The Very Best by Esau Mwamwaya and Radioclit.

Falling Back In Love With Movies

About a week ago I stated that I would see the films, Australia, Slumdog Millionaire and Synecdoche New York, within the next week. I'm very happy to say I accomplished my goal. I liked all of the movies and I'm glad that I put forth the effort to catch them all in the theater. There is something important about sharing the movie watching experience with others, on the big screen, it's just better that way. You can watch a movie on a cell phone, but your more likely to experience the movie in a theater.

Of the three, I would highly recommend that you go and see Slumdog Millionaire, no matter what your taste in movies. If you're into big epic tales and can handle a three hour movie, then I can pretty much guarantee you're going to leave Australia happy. People were clapping at the end of the screening I watched. Synecdoche New York on the other hand, I'm not going to recommend you go see. If you're the kind of person that likes to get heavily introspective and think about the fact that you're constantly aging and will one day die, then maybe this is the movie for you. I think Charlie Kauffman, the writer and director of the film is absolutely brilliant, but I've gotta warn you, Synecdoche New York is not a film that fills you with a sense of hope. It's pretty dark from the half way point.

I moved to L.A. to work in the movies, so it makes sense that I'm rededicating myself to studying them and loving them. If you haven't seen a movie in the theater in a while, do yourself this favor: Go to the gas station and buy a can of coke and some sugary candy, go see a fantasy film and enjoy yourself. It's one of the greatest simple pleasures of the last century of human innovation.

Friday, December 05, 2008

New Study: Climate Change Cannot Be Stopped

I'll just go ahead and paraphrase off the top of my head without linking to anything. New studies show that the Carbon Dioxide released into the atmosphere over the last 100 years, would take over 100,000 years to be reabsorbed by natural processes. Google the words "stop climate change" and you will find multiple websites with passionate people behind them, devoting their lives and their careers to a futile effort. Normally, or at the beginning of the curve of industrial Carbon Dioxide emissions, the oceans would absorb much of the Carbon Dioxide circulating throughout the atmosphere. However, in recent years, as the top layer of the ocean has been absorbing massive amounts of CO2, the world's oceans have become increasingly acidic and less capable of absorbing CO2. Normal ocean currents would eventually circulate this top layer and thus allow for more C02 absorption but as ocean temperatures increase, these natural cycles decrease. Therefore, the once held theory that slowly weaning ourselves off C02 emitting fuels like gasoline for our cars and coal-fired power plants for our electricity would slow this impact of the greenhouse effect on our climate is false. The chain of events we've started will not go away. It will however continue to get worse as we don't change our polluting ways. So give up this idea of stopping climate change, it's too late for that.

So now you want some hope? Let's look at things on a more micro-level. Gasoline powered cars make for smoggy, air-polluted cities. So if we stop driving gasoline powered cars and switch to CNG powered cars like they did in New Delhi, then the air we breathe will be more fresh (natural gas is a very short-term solution). Stop blowing up the mountains of West Virginia for coal extraction and we'll stop polluting the water of cities all over that part of the country as well as stop destroying the second most biologically diverse eco-system in the world.

We need to stop polluting because it's wrong - not just because it's going end humanity. This evening I saw a woman come out of Starbucks to enjoy a cigarette in the fresh night air. When she was done with her cigarette she bent over and put it out on the concrete and then left the butt there and walked back into Starbucks, passing a trash-can at three paces. What in the world makes this woman so myopic that she doesn't see the end result of a shortened life-time's worth of non-degradable cigarette butts strewn across the land in her wake. Imagine if I would have called out, "Ma'am, excuse me - that cigarette butt you just left on the ground was specifically designed so that it wouldn't burn up, and will never bio-degrade in your children's-children's lifetimes. You'd help us all out if you always threw away your cigarette butts from now on." Could you imagine her embarrassment and disgust? She might have even insulted me. But it would have been the right thing to do, and I'm morally responsible for my inaction.

I'd lost my way for a while in the face of all the hopelessness and greed and perversion of this generation. But like Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire, I believe God made me for a purpose - to educate and inspire people to be moral (I originally wrote "to kick ass for morality") - and to run very fast and very far.

If you're doing the right thing, if you're living your life responsibly, if you're helping those who don't have a voice and can't help themselves, keep it up, don't give up in the face of this fallen and foolish world. It's going to pay off eternally. And to all the people who are adding to the problem, I'm smarter than you, I'm stronger than you and I'm coming for you.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Alchemy: The Making of Oink Ink [Directed by Anton Seim]

The following is a short documentary I directed for my friend James at Oink Art LTD. James and I have been working together for a little over a year. We met at my friend David's wedding in Cyprus and shared a common love of the notorious graffiti artist Banksy, and a few months later I shot a little demo video for the ink that James makes and uploaded it to Youtube. A year later we've made over 60 videos and have over a million views on Youtube. This short documentary is the work of James and I as well as the camera work of Justin Kirchhoff of Digital Shakedown and the lighting of Blake McNay. Even if you have no interest in graffiti, I hope you find the video interesting.
Alchemy: The Making Of Oink Ink [Directed by Anton Seim] from Oink Art LTD on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Freelance Business Trip, Temecula, CA

They put me up for the work-week in an Extended Stay Hotel with a mini-kitchen and wifi. I enjoy trips like this because the solitude clears my head. You would think I'd be bored, but with 8 hour shoots every day and at least that much editing waiting for me each night when I get back to the hotel, I'm actually overwhelmingly busy. It's 3:30am as I'm typing this and I am supposed to start my shoot at 8am tomorrow. And then I have another edit that needs to be completed tomorrow evening as well. I'm being fueled by a fridge full of sliced turkey and bratwurst and actually feeling quite good considering the amount of work to be done.

I really had no idea what or where Temecula, California was before I drove down here for the week. What I've found is a once small Old Town, perverted by massive suburban sprawl and strip malls, nestled into a pretty valley and surrounded by vineyards.

They call this area The Inland Empire.

(This is a terribly boring update, I'm so, so sorry for it's lameness.)