Monday, January 28, 2008

Mr. Big Mouth - The New Intellectual Children's Television Mascot

The National Intellectual Television Company has announced plans for a new children's show called Mr. Big Mouth.

The show will follow the trials and tribulations of Mr. Big Mouth as he tries to make his way through his neighborhood.

He has several friends that help him along the way. Mr. Red Head and Mr. John Kaczanowksi. In several episodes Mr. Big Mouth runs into realistic troubles that plague most middle aged men: He gets throat polyps from smoking too many cigarettes, kidney stones from too much coffee and a heart condition from his sedentary lifestyle. Mr. Red Head suffers persecution from the brunette and blonde-headed majority of the neighborhood in a Sunday School experiment gone horribly awry. In a later season one episode John Kaczanowski gets into a car accident that severs his vocal chords and he needs to learn Ameslan in order to communicate with his friends.

Episode Number One: Bouncin' Off The Walls

Mr. Big Mouth
learns to cope without caffeine.

February Has Always Been the Melancholy Month

Seems like the abandonment always occurs in February

if it doesn't come then I know that that is the time in which the roots are developed.

The Great Lakes surrounded me for Twenty Five years and I sometimes wonder if when I left them the protection that they offered faded out slowly.

For the first three years away I felt like my heart was still there.

After five years the final nail had been driven.

And now I am nowhere near the magical clear waters.

And now that life there, and its protections are blurring into the distorted bits of images reserved for my earliest of memories.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Last Night I Dreamed That I Broke My Leg

When I was younger I was prone to impulsive acts.

Running in traffic, acting histrionic, etc. -

Last Night I dreamed that I had broken my leg and that I was hobbling about with crutches.

I was still jumping off of embankments and stuff like that.

It appeared as though I had not learned my lesson.

Those were the sorts of things I would have done during my Youth In Grande Vitesse.

The dream made me somewhat homesick and it also recalled several other dreams that I had several years ago. I wonder if, when I get older, my memories of the dreams will begin to blur into the memories of my waking life in Newtonian Space.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I Have Always Lived In The Living Room

I used to lay in front of the nighttime television set and then I would have to go for a joyride in the darkened country. Sometimes I did this in the winter with snow on the ground. Sometimes I would do this in the summer with the nice warm air breathing into my open window.

I think that I enjoyed being alone more than anything. Not because I didn't like being around others - more because I liked being able to get lost in my thoughts. Driving through the blackened night was always relaxing. My mind would wander and then maybe I would find myself at the twenty four hour grocery or at the donut shop.

Then I would go home and watch some recorded entertainment. I've never really enjoyed checking out what is on. I have always enjoyed exerting control over what I watch.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Coming Soon! The Plaza of the Mind Interview with Ken Nakagawa!

Ken Nakagawa in Living on Tokyo Time.

I am happy to announce that Ken Nakagawa, the star of the 1987 film Living on Tokyo Time, has accepted an invitation to do an interview for the Plaza of the Mind. Living on Tokyo Time has been a long time favorite of mine. I have always felt that the film was the most accurate representation of that period of time. Other films of that era felt contrived and stylized while Living on Tokyo Time felt photo-journalistic. I also felt that the basic story of a Japanese-American man with no roots to his heritage meeting a woman from Japan resonated with me due to similarities in my own upbringing.

Ken Nakagawa and Minako Ohashi in Living on Tokyo Time.

I have long sited Mr. Nakagawa's understated performance in the film as being one of the biggest influences on my fiction and its sense of pacing. This interview is a thrill in that I have been able to express my admiration for Mr. Nakagawa's performance and have gotten the answers to a few questions that have been bouncing around in my head for the better part of fifteen years.

Stay Tuned!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Jukt Micronics Update

'Perhaps I should create a new image of Stephen Glass specifically for the Plaza of the Mind, something that is half Glass and half Christensen. I feel that this would be a more accurate representation of the Glass that I have come to know and admire.'

About a year ago I made the following statement here at the Plaza:

I sincerely think this guy is one of the greatest Americans alive today.

Here is another comment worth reviewing:

"Jukt Micronics"

Ex Journo Wrote:

Stephen Glass wrote bogus stories for only one further his own ambitions. He didn't care that he put other people's work and careers at risk, he never thought about what damage he might do with the misinformation he was churning out, it didn't matter to him that he violated the most important relationship in any professional writer's career by repeatedly lying to his editors. He knew he had cleverness and charm and he used those qualities to deceive his friends and colleagues and manipulate them into unwittingly supporting his journalistic fictions.

And, while some people use Glass as a reason for gratuitous media-bashing, don't forget it was another journalist working at another publication who discovered and exposed Glass' lies.

Stephen Glass is no hero. He's just a selfish, dishonest little man who abused his skills and his position, and broke faith with his friends and to this day can't be honest with himself or anyone else about what he did and why he did it.

There's nothing admirable in that.

To which I reply:

My admiration for Mr. Glass lies in his imagination and somewhat in the trouble he got into and how he handled it. There is something profound about that kind of trouble. I have always been fascinated by scandal and have always thought that people jump too quickly into opinions concerning issues that have nothing to do with them at all.

There is a popular bumper sticker that reads 'if you are not outraged, you are not paying attention'. I think a better bumper sticker would read 'if you are not outraged, you probably have a healthy set of boundaries in place.' Impotent outrage helps no one. It does not help the victim of injustice, it does not help the person feeling outraged, it simply raises his or her blood pressure.

I can understand an initial outrage that may perhaps lead to a constructive course of action in which the individual might be able to exert some of his or her own will against the problem at hand. I can understand that sort of useful intervention in the problem.

The reason I think that Mr. Glass is one of the greatest Americans alive lies simply in his creativity and the pained look on his face. There is a subtle beauty in that face. I think that he is a character that really needs to be explored and I suppose I am trying, in my meager way, to keep him in the public imagination.

This admiration, of course, is for the persona of Stephen Glass, as I have never had the pleasure of meeting the man himself. I think that I may have become smitten with Hayden Christensen's portrayal of Glass in the Shattered Glass biographical film and this has colored my perception. Perhaps I should create a new image of Stephen Glass specifically for the Plaza of the Mind, something that is half Glass and half Christensen. I feel that this would be a more accurate representation of the Glass that I have come to know and admire.

As far as media bashing, you won't find any of that at the Plaza of the Mind. People tend to forget that media is not so much something that is created by people as it is something that is lived within by people. There is no point in bashing an environment. One can simply stay away from it if they find if distasteful.

Thanks for participating at the Plaza!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Plaza of the Mind Interview with Filmmaker David Blair!

I first saw David Blair's Wax: or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees when I was still a student at University. I remember looking at it and not knowing what to make of it. I remember that I could not get a grasp on the film but something about it captured my imagination and so I decided to watch it again about a year later and it was during that second viewing that I realized that the film would become one of my top-ten all time favorites.

I later found out that Wax: or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees had the honor of being the world's first online feature-film. I highly recommend you check it out here. Mr. Blair also has an electronic journal that you may peruse here.

I was thrilled that Mr. Blair accepted an invitation to the Plaza of the Mind. Please note that this interview was actually conducted during the Spring of 2007 but for various reasons I have just now been able to release it.

[The Plaza of the Mind quotes appear in Bold-type, Mr. Blair's in normal-type]

The film Wax: or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees is unlike almost any film I've ever seen in that it has a bit of a steep learning curve. I didn't seem to get as much out of it until I began playing it repeatedly. I even began putting it on a continuous loop as I drifted off to sleep and I found that it seemed to effect my sub-conscious. Is this sort of osmosis something that you aimed for with the film?

That I haven't heard before, but yes, the movie is meant to open up after the first viewing,
and it apparently has had enough in it to support lots of viewings for the people who want to put it on again...

You created a singular form of narrative with Wax, did you plan this from the beginning or did it evolve as the project took shape?

Well, it almost literally started as a one-liner, and went from there... but it was really a process that fed back into itself... i.e. the script, production, and the edit were done all at the same time,
and not finished until the end.... sometimes I mention that's how a documentary often works as well.

What did the one-liner consist of?

Well, as an example of early method I just went to the NYPL research library and looked up bees in the old catalog, back before they computerized.

The narration of Wax is quite pleasant. Where did you find the actor that did it and has he done any other work?

Thanks, that was me in fact, I was the cheapest solution that would work, and the most appropriate. At this point it looks like I may do voice for The Telepathic Motion
Picture as well. As for other work, well I amuse my kids but I'm not an actor.

I enjoy the documentary quality of the film, the way the film starts out quite straight forward and then slowly begins to fragment into an abstraction yet at the same time keeps its coherence through the narration. How did you go about crafting such a method of slowly lulling the viewer into stranger and stranger territory?

Well, I worked hard to keep it on track... for the person watching to know what they were looking at any particular second, and get a sense that they had come from somewhere and were going somewhere.... I was also working with a producer, who really wanted a three act structure. After that, the simple matches and blends between ideas and places sort of lull you, as you say, into believing in the continuity.

You worked on Wax for quite some time, and your follow up feature, The Lost Tribes, seems to be taking just as long. Do you enjoy working this way?

Well, I have to say that I wish I was finished with the Lost Tribes. I think if I get the chance to do another long project I will script more before and get it over with quicker. On the other hand, I do enjoy letting the project go where it goes, and if Lost Tribes comes out well than I won't complain.

What strikes me most about your work is that you are basically a one-man filmmaker. I find this very inspirational. Do you enjoy working this way?

Well, sometimes it feels like I spent the day baking bread for the breadshop... making moving pictures has very much simple repetitive work to it. Sometimes it is like making a candy house in the rain. But all in all, I have to say I do enjoy the craft of it.

Do you feel this method affords you more freedom to express yourself the way you see fit?

Well, yes I have complete freedom, except for the fact that I have to do it all myself, technique is hard, and nothing is sure, Ok, I'm complaining. Yes, I can say what I want about what I want in the way I want, and hopefully keep it interesting....

Is Lost Tribes near completion? My friends and I are dying to see it.

I've been on it full time for years, and I have told myself to finish picture by the end of the year, though I will have to raise money for sound work after that. The structure is still up in the air.

Wax had an endowment from the NEA. was that difficult to secure?

That was back in the day when they gave grants to individual artists; It was a competitive application.

What is your relationship to the IATH? I see that they are the ones hosting both Wax and the Lost Tribes.

The hypertext author Michael Joyce suggested I contact them. They had just started up an online residency program. They used the modified MOO server that Waxweb ran on at the time for some stuff, and later on they offered to put Lost Tribes online.I raised some NEA money for that as well.

William Burroughs appears in Wax. I am very fond of his work. Were you at all inspired by his writings?

By his description of cutup, yes.

How did you go about putting him in your film?

Mark Kaplan, the cameraman, was from Lawrence, Kansas, where Burroughs lived. He set up a documentary around a beat reunion set up by Burrough's secretary, I went out to help. After the reunion, I set up the shoot with Burroughs at his house, and mark and I also went out to the Garden of Eden.

Your wife Florence Ormezzano appears in Wax. She also has displayed some truly intriguing digital works with her organisms/specimens?

She finished last year an artist book-dvd object, which is available from cactus productions in Caen [France].

I saw there was a DVD of that piece, how would one go about getting a copy?

I am not sure she sells the DVD outside of the kit, it might not have occurred to her, you can ask directly to see what she says.

Does she have a role in the new film as well?

She worked a -lot- while we in Japan, especially doing bodies for the 3d characters, etc.

Wax has a great ambient soundtrack by Beo Morales and Brooks Williams. How did you find those composers?

Brooks has a very nice small studio in New York, Harmonic Ranch much used by downtown audio and video folks. He and Beo have collaborated for many many years; they had a group
called The History of Unheard Music.

Will you ever release a soundtrack?

No, since it wasn't done as songs, but as part of the sound design.

Who is doing sound for the Lost Tribes?

Hopefully they will, but I have to finish the picture and raise money.

Does Lost Tribes employ the same hypermedia features - each section of the film having a description - that Wax did?

Not sure yet. I want to finish the movie first.

That work must have been horribly painstaking, did that part of the project take the longest to produce?

I think that the technical part was just the longest... I had to learn and redo. Video was hard in the 80s, and web was hard in the 90s.

How long was the shooting of Wax?

There were several small shoots, a 4 day shoot in New Mexico, and I think the main shoot with all the hired people was 5-7 days, I don't remember. I think we were in the Carlsbad Caverns 2 nights? One day at Trinity Site, etc.

Do you have any ideas for any films after Lost Tribes?

Of course, lots of vague ones, I'll give them some sugar water when I get done with this one and see if they perk up.

Monday, January 14, 2008

North Kent Guild

We walk into the headquarters and we do not know what to expect.

It has always been reputed as 'a place for the discussion of un-ordinary reality'.

'I seem to have experienced this for most of my life', she said.

The floor plan is quite similar at every North Kent Guild building. It is arranged in an A shape. With the entrance at the Apex and doors to the lush garden at each of the ends. The center space contains a beautiful fountain that is only visible through the windows of the lobby.

The restrooms are in the basement. There is also a banquet room down there with a dance floor and a PA system.

Plaza of the Mind Interview with Tesco Vee Coming Soon!

I am proud to announce that Tesco Vee, a man that may have, arguably, saved my life growing up in West Michigan, has agreed to participate in the Plaza of the Mind's Interview series!

Tesco Vee, for the uninitiated, is the frontman of the legendary hardcore band the Meatmen.

Stay tuned as I speak to Tesco Vee about our favorite West Michigan hot-spots and the history of his phenomenal band.

Greg Lester's Mr. Mann Has Been Completed!

Plaza of the Mind readers would be well served to check out my long time collaborator Greg Lester's amazing Mr. Mann. Mr. Mann was Mr. Lester's Story of the Month for the past year. He has recently finished the story and you can check it out at his Electronic Journal.

I have been a huge fan of Mr. Lester's work since we met in 1991 and he never disappoints!

I Think Of Steve Conway More Often Than Is Probably Healthy For Me

Grand Rapids Michigan

Catholic Central High School

Regular PoTM readers may recall a recent post concerning my idea for a Cockroach Armour and the subsequent ridicule that my Freshman Biology teacher implied by his silence.

The following is the history of my first meeting with Steve Conway:

Kurt Weller walks into the Biology room on the first day of school. There are several large black topped lab tables. Kurt sits down at one of the free seats near a young man with glasses and a crew cut.

Kurt: Hello.

Steve: Oh brother.

And, even though Steve and I became closer later, due mostly to our being forced to wrestle during Phys Ed and the fact that Steve accused me of making him vomit after every match we developed a sort of symbiotic relationship fueled by our love of Anime and the Cold War.

Steve Conway influenced me in a way that few others did.

He was sort of like everything that was inside of me that I was afraid to let out. I think that I hated him somewhat because of that fact but I am glad that I knew him.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Plaza of the Mind Interview with Barbara Morgenstern Coming Soon!

I have recently begun work on an interview with musician Barbara Morgenstern, whose video for her song The Operator, I recently posted over at the Outer Channel Archives. I actually had never heard of Ms. Morgenstern until her song was playing while I did some apparel shopping with my wife a couple of weeks ago. The song blew me away and I carefully memorized the main refrain of the song to ensure that I could later find it online.

What I found was an artist who had recorded a number of albums - which I downloaded over at EMUSIC - and a singular voice that seems fresh and yet familiar at the same time.

Ms. Morgenstern was gracious enough to accept an invitation to the Plaza of the Mind.

Please stay tuned!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Web Ouija Experiment #001

Is BB Gabor near?


Does BB Gabor want to speak?


Will he come to me in a dream?


Will BB Gabor ever speak to me?


How long will I have to wait for BB Gabor to speak to me?

Check back.

Does BB Gabor exist in the ether?


Shall I check back in May?



Monday, January 07, 2008

When it Was Summer We Wanted Winter and When It Was Winter We wanted Spring To Come Back To Us Again... We Never Did Go Swimming And I Am Sure...

We like the Springtime.

It is fresh and warm and there are cool breezies.

Penultimate Woodland Journey Through Space and Time

I used to spend more time in the woods but when I did I was in the place that I had grown up and so the woods seemed more of a natural extension of my personality.

Now I am someplace else and the woods are foreign to me.

They feel quite ancient and they seem to be covering up something that happened a long time ago. Something quite big, something bigger than anything I have seen up until now, even in the history books, something unreal.

A state of unreality must have existed in these woods.

My native woods held a magic as well, but the feeling was one of mischief rather than the foreboding danger that I feel in the woods out here.

Something tells me that I will be spending more time in the woods soon. But it will be as a surveyor and a documenter rather than an explorer. There will be nothing to explore as exploration suggests a lack of knowledge.

This will transcend that.

I will walk into the woods as though I own them.

And I will own them as much as I own my central nervous system.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A Note on Image Dimensions

Regular visitors to the Plaza of the Mind will be aware that I use many images for illustrative purposes. I have decided that I want all of my images to be in a new standardized sizing format. I feel that it is important for all of the images to share the exact same dimensions. I am still working out which size and aspect ratio will be the best and the resizing/standardization process will begin soon.

The images will also be corrected and given the 'Official Plate' treatment and hosted at the new Plaza of the Mind Image Conservatory. Let me thank you for your patience in the interim.

Kurt Weller

Herpolsheimer Rocket Express c. 1975

I always rode alone as the train would circle the basement.

I would look down on the toy section, the escalators and the huge bins of markdown.

Later they put a big face on it but it was a rocket for awhile. I liked the idea of a rocket train in the basement of the department store. You climbed these stairs and the train would come and there would be one kid in the train already. He would get out, you would get in and Mother would watch you go around.

And you felt like everyone was looking at you but they were really checking out the bargains.

And then they yanked it all down and now the memory gets more and more distant and before long will seem to me what it must seem to you: a story about a rocket train in the basement of a department store.