November 19th, 2012 18:46 by Ann Giblin
An article in the LA Times, on The Hobbit and Animal Issues raises more questions.
My involvement with the Los Angeles entertainment industry as an extra allowed me to experience their concerted efforts to treat all with respect. Extras are arguably in the lowest position on a set's totem pole, and as such, are a good litmus test of these efforts. An example, perhaps the more powerful because of its subtlety, is although extras continue to self-describe as that term, the industry does not. They use the term "background" - as in their being an essential component to the complete picture.
Being inside the studio gates in this way afforded me a view of an industry and its people dealing with more multi-layered economic concerns and pressures than I had imagined. And yet the highest levels of civility and professionalism were standard practice, through 12 to 16 hour days, multiple takes and lots of waiting. Because of my experiences, I have to believe the issues raised the LA Times article must have genuine collaborative efforts between all parties underway.
Which brings me to my questions. While on the set, I learned the larger percentage of the professionals involved with these productions were contractors, not studio employees. Wranglers are an example of these contractors, who are as acutely aware of the rewards of their employment as they are of the risks an action, what I call earning "the asterisk," could have on it.
While you read the Times article, did you think it must have been easy for these wranglers - they are like the super brave and cool cowboys in the movies, right? - to speak up, to take a public stand on the issue?
Is that what you thought....maybe before you read about the asterisk?
Your thoughts and comments always welcome. Permission granted to re-publish, referencing www.winterlakeassociates.com.Comments
September 10th, 2012 16:30 by Ann Giblin
...or...what I did on my summer vacation. Extras, also called 'background' are those people you see around the main actors - they fill out the look to scenes. Primo extra work is to play a patient asleep in hospital bed, which I got to do...no audition required. Here's how backgrounding and flying feel remarkably the same:
You rush to arrive at your appointed time & place - only to be told things are running behind schedule
You wait in uncomfortable chairs
You wait in confined areas - alongside persons who can be....let's say, quite the characters
Your wait starts thoughts of when can we leave, when will this be over, the irony being it took a lot of effort to be able to be there in the first place
You wear the same clothes for more hours than you can imagine
For continued adventures in backgrounding, you can follow my car on Twitter, @94MAZ, also registered with Central CastingComments
August 10th, 2012 22:19 by Ann Giblin
On July 21, 2012, Los Angeles photographer Amy Gaskin captured what turned out to be the final performance by Marvin Hamlisch - conducting the Pasadena Pops Orchestra at the LA County Arboretum.
Photo accompanying post is of Hamlisch congratulating Nick Ziobro, a new talent he championed. Courtesy Amy, more of her work from that evening can be seen as featured in the LA Weekly tribute to Hamlisch.
Those tunes, those lyrics you hum...the ones you can't get out of your head once they start? Most likely they were composed by Marvin Hamlisch - mine are 'One Singular Sensation' and the theme from 'The Sting.'
Much has been written about Hamlisch's well-deserved honors and awards, but it was only in reading the LA Weekly's tribute did I learn that - and was heartened by - as 'singular a sensation' as he was, his music hasn't died. Turns out, he mentored the next generation and as Amy's photo shows, generously shared the spotlight with them.
I'd keep an ear out for Nick Ziobro - his may be the next tune you can't stop hearing in your head!
Permission to re-publish granted, crediting www.winterlakeassociates.com and photographer, Amy Gaskin. As always, your comments are welcome.
NewsXChange will be taking a Summer break and return in September._Comments
July 27th, 2012 23:39 by Ann Giblin
Lately, I’ve been experiencing silence, and the silence of images, as communicating with much more texture, nuance and lasting impact than the written word. As a worker in the field of words, this is making me go hmmmm…
I invite you to contribute your thoughts, comments, images ….and OK, maybe your silence … on what format, what communication has most affected you lately.
Here are mine:
*Images from Phot-Oh!, John Livzey’s collection of “professional images in the age of camera-phone snapshots.”
*A scene from the romantic comedy, Crossing Delancy Amy Irving/Paul Riegert
*A firmly closed door from Never Sorry, a documentary on the Chinese artist/activist, Ai Weiwei
My initial thinking was the “-Oh!” in the title of professional photographer Livzey’s 3.4 lbs. of beautiful images is that 'Oh!' is what one says in viewing them (true). Or, what one says referring to its heft (maybe), or to the joy of inhaling that new book aroma along with its art (true again). But now – days later – I think I’ve gotten it.
In Delancy, pickle salesman Sam, losing heart, out of ideas, finally, humbly makes a confession to Isabelle, the woman he is trying to court, the woman that both he and she think are way out of his league. He says he constantly asks himself, “how do I speak to Isabelle?” So touched she was speechless and finally vulnerable, he (and we) had his answer.
Never Sorry documents the artist Ai Weiwei, the creator of Beijing’s "Bird’s Nest," who is now utilizing his multi-media political art, social media and the international platform the Nest built for him to stir a hornet's nest. Earlier this year, he was arrested and detained for months, allowed no contact with family, friends, or the outside world.
As the film rolls on the day of his release on bail, Ai Weiwei closes the door to his house on the clamor of journalists outside, telling them the price he has agreed to pay for his freedom. “I can’t talk, I can’t give interviews, I hope you understand.” The silence of the closed door, the silence of the journalists staring at it continues to play onscreen.
PS: On 'getting' the book's title. After drinking in the imagery, I started reading it. There, in a quote on Livzey's photography from its art director was my answer. He says, “The secret to a great photo is that there is no secret. The image is already there, all you have to do is know where to look. No camera or technology can do that for you.”
It's not lost on me it took the written word to get me there....I'm just sayin'....
Permission to publish granted with attributions to www.winterlakeassociates.com.Comments
July 13th, 2012 17:08 by Ann Giblin
Have you noticed that lately every evening's newscast has a story about dogs, or puppies? Not sure who sent that memo, but I was forwarded this true tale this week that I can't resist passing along - it communicates so much more than it seems. Edited for space, the author is Eric A. Stern, who lives in Helena, Montana and is senior counselor to Gov. Brian Schweitzer.
HELENA, Mont. — In Montana, a Hasidic rabbi is an unusual sight. When one walked into the State Capitol rotunda last December, with his long beard, black hat and long black coat, a police officer grabbed his bomb-sniffing German shepherd and went to ask him a few questions.
Although there are few Jews in Montana today, in the 19th century there were many, working in the mining towns as butchers, clothiers, jewelers, tailors and the like. Butte had kosher markets, a Jewish mayor, a B’nai B’rith lodge and three synagogues. Helena had Temple Emanu-El, built in 1891 with a seating capacity of 500 and a cemetery with tombstones dating to 1866. The elegant original facade still stands, but the building was sold and converted to offices in the 1930s, when the congregation had dwindled to almost nothing, the Jewish population having mostly assimilated or moved on to bigger cities.
Still, these days, Hanukkah has a special significance in Montana. In Billings in 1993, vandals broke windows in homes that were displaying menorahs. In a response organized by local church leaders, more than 10,000 of the city’s residents and shopkeepers put make-shift menorahs in their own windows, to protect the city’s three dozen or so Jewish families. The vandalism stopped.
Today, in a minor revival, Montana has three rabbis, all of whom were at the Capitol on the first night of Hannukah to light a menorah in the ornate rotunda.
The officer and his dog watched as the menorah was lighted and Hebrew prayers chanted, the dog at attention with an intense expression on its face. When the ceremony was over, the officer approached the Hasidic rabbi and said, “I’m Officer John Fosket of the Helena Police and this is Miky, our security dog. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”
Turns out Miky, trained in Israel by the Israeli Defense Forces to sniff out explosives, came to Helena when the Police Department discovered surplus bomb dogs were available from the Israeli forces for the price of the flight. The problem was Miky had been trained entirely in Hebrew.
Officer Fosket, given a list of a dozen Hebrew commands, had made flashcards and practiced with a Hebrew instructional audiotape, but no luck - Miky didn’t respond. The policeman needed the rabbi’s help.
It worked. The rabbi is now on call to work with Miky and his owner as needed and Miky is the new star on the police force, the pair recently called into service by the Secret Service to work a Presidential visit.
And it turns out the rabbi needed the dog, too. He had been scouring the state for a companion with whom he could speak Hebrew - he is elated to have found Miky.
Permission to re-publish accrediting www.winterlakeassociates.com and author, Eric A. Stern.Comments
July 2nd, 2012 01:59 by Ann Giblin
I imagine Richard Nixon, 40 years ago last week, with pen in hand affixing his signature to Title IX legislation,wasn't envisioning this action to have the unexpected consequences, the enormous impact that it did.
“Title nine, Annie, title nine….it’s gonna be the death of us!” Coach had said to me across the cramped office where the three of us worked. Tasked with raising money for the University’s athletic programs, Coach and his assistant director were in the seminal years of tackling this very big job. I was on work-study, typing my way through college.
Coach had been been both a star player and coach during the University's football team’s glory days and now they were lucky to win one game a season - we knew what was really at the core of Coach’s frustrations. Answering him with a non-committal "mmmmm..," I wondered what was this 'title nine' anyway?
And then, Title IX got personal. Now I can't help but think - and feel all these years later, Coach would agree - Title IX has become “the life of us.”
Over the ensuing years, my niece won a full-ride scholarship in field hockey, with her team having spectacular work out facilities and playing fields, multiple uniforms and equipment bags and they travelled to away games on comfortable buses. Her coaches kept a close check on this reality for them, though - they had competed in the not so distant, pre-Title IX past when the opposite was the case.
I’ve also had the good fortune to become a co-worker, colleague and friend of Olympic medalist Pat Spratlen Etem. Pat, at the early stages of Title IX implementation at Cal Berkeley, is also mother of Elise Etem, Cal’s 2012 Pac-12 Athlete of the Year for women’s rowing and a Title IX legacy.
An interview with Pat and Elise on the impact of Title IX on their lives was recently published in “Generational Differences in Title IX Impact Former Cal Rowers". Below, I’ve excerpted two quotes from it to reflect how the rest of us have benefitted, too.
A telling exercise on further expanding options for this generation and those to come is to substitute “STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) studies and careers” for the sports references in the excerpts. As Title IX has shown, the unexpected consequences for STEM will be very good for the rest of us too.
Pat Spratlen Etem: Title IX has a very deep meaning to me, because it has given so many women the opportunity to discover entire dimensions of excellence within themselves, teammates, classmates, friends and co-workers that, as a population, we had not had access to prior to the adoption of Title IX.
Elise Etem My mother's athletic career had a huge impact on my upbringing, especially in my decision to pursue a sport. From a very young age, my siblings and I were involved in sports. I learned secondhand and have witnessed personally the enormous impact rowing has had in my mother's life. From a collegiate athletics perspective, Title IX has significantly helped to balance the funding and scholarships awarded to female and male sports.
Reprint permission granted, attributing www.winterlakeassociates.comComments
June 15th, 2012 16:39 by Ann Giblin
I did a full Frank yesterday, complete with stopping at Arby’s afterwards to have a roast beef and a jamocha – the “Jr.” versions, not having inherited Frank – my dad’s - metabolism.
Why a Frank? Back in the 20th century, my dad disappeared for a Saturday afternoon – not his usual m.o. An engineer, he usually had some project in his basement shop underway, with the sounds of electric saws or drills announcing his whereabouts.
We figured he was at the hardware store or getting his hair cut, but still…he hadn’t been sighted or heard from in a few hours. Before any real concern kicked in - like he had missed dinner - he returned, smiling, casually pulling an autograph from Joe Montana “for the grandkids,” out of his wallet.
That afternoon, he had taken the Rapid Transit to downtown Cleveland and joined the crowds at the Stadium at the Notre Dame game. Always a draw, always sold out, this one featured Joe Montana as the quarterback. With no ticket, no advance notice, my dad just did it.
“Joey Montana” is actually what my dad had called him, what Joey’s mom had called him as she and my dad chatted after the game, waiting for him to emerge from the locker room. So we began to do the same throughout Montana’s ensuing NFL career.
Yesterday, I took the Expo Line to downtown Los Angeles and joined the crowds at the Staples Center to celebrate the Kings winning the Stanley Cup. This is not my usual m.o. No ticket, no advance notice. I just did it.
This 21st century version ends with no autographs, nor chats with players’ moms, but with cellphone pics and smiles due to hearing the on the train conversation of two 20-something women in King’s jerseys. They were debating the relative merits of local ice rinks - they had played hockey since they were five year-olds.
With Father’s Day on Sunday, a part of me knows today was in my dad’s honor, with maybe a wee nudge from him from heaven. Like the Kings had just proved, too, every once in awhile, it’s very good to do something that isn’t your usual m.o.
Permission granted to re-publish crediting www.winterlakeassociates.comComments
June 1st, 2012 18:07 by Ann Giblin
Ithica, N.Y. Mayor Myrick turns personal parking space into a mini-park
When Svante Myrick, 25, became the youngest-ever mayor of Ithaca, he gave up his car to join the estimated 15 percent of his city’s residents who walk to work. As mayor, however, Myrick has a prime downtown parking spot reserved for his exclusive use. (Raise your hand with me if that is one of your definitions of a 'paradise.')
Instead of letting the Mayor's parking space stand empty, he turned it into a mini-park space. (picture)
Turns out Myrick hasn’t given up driving entirely; he belongs to the local Ithaca Carshare and admits to missing his car. Meanwhile, he’s also working to enhance Ithaca’s transportation options, reflecting his philosophy that building more spaces is not the solution to too many cars - it's providing alternative methods of affordable, reliable and convenient transportation.
Excerpted from article by Sarah Laskow, a reporter based in New York City who covers environment, energy, and sustainability issues.Comments
May 18th, 2012 02:27 by Ann Giblin
Two pre-teen girls won – out of the over 20,000 nationally submitted entries - NASA’s name the Mars rover essay contests. Remarkable for the odds, perhaps, but even more remarkable for the stories behind their entries - why they reached for the stars. As a mentor to girls this age, I found this great intel on how they think, on what inspires them.
In 2003, a nine year old from Arizona, Sofi Collis, wrote the winning essay suggesting "Spirit" and "Opportunity" as names for the twin rovers, the 'robotic geologists,' that landed on Mars later that year.
Sofi, a Siberian-born orphan who, in Russia, had dreamed of someday flying to “the sparkly stars,” was adopted and brought to the United States as a toddler. She wrote these two words embodied America to her, the country whose spirit and opportunities would make her dreams come true.
Her essay made her a bit of a ‘sparkly star’ herself, as NASA unabashedly acknowledged that in their goal to inspire the next generation of spacefarers through this contest, Sofia had inspired them. CBSNews
In 2009, eleven year old Clara Ma, a sixth-grader from Kansas, won by naming the Hum-Vee sized rover, launched last November and landing on Mars in August, “Curiosity.” At ten times the size of Opportunity and Spirit, Curiosity is a nuclear-powered science laboratory whose mission promises real time dramatic elements far beyond any Summer blockbuster. Curiosity will assess whether Mars is, or was ever able to, support microbial life. Infographic
Clara's winning essay reflected the disconnect many feel about space and space exploration. She said, “I was really interested in space but I thought space was something I could only read about in books or look at during the night from so far away.” Thinking naming the Mars rover would take her at least one step closer to going into space, she decided to enter the contest. “Curiosity” popped into her head almost immediately, she admits, what with her being a curious girl and mysterious Mars inspiring so many questions.
Turns out her naming the rover has become much more than that one step. Over the last three years, Clara has signed her name onto Curiosity as it was being built at JPL - NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena - and travelled to Florida to be featured in pre-launch festivities and watch its launch from Cape Canaveral.
Now a ninth-grader, Clara’s having gotten to do “so many cool things, be a part of all this,” has her interested in astrophysics, in working with NASA and ultimately, following her curiosity into space to explore Mars.
Do contests work in inspiring students to pursue STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering, Math - studies and careers? Maybe by now this is a rhetorical question?
Post Script: Opportunity, now in its ninth year, continues to rove Mars diligently. Spirit, despite a wheel freeze in 2006 and getting stuck in 2009, displayed the characteristics that earned it the “little rover that could,” by continuing to send information until 2010. After numerous unanswered calls over the last two years, NASA has let Spirit retire. Rover updates
Special thanks to JPL for tour, information and resources used in this post. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Exploration Rover project for the NASA Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.Comments
May 5th, 2012 02:45 by Ann Giblin
Last Saturday, my friends and I joined the festive crush of persons celebrating the opening of Los Angeles’ Expo Line. While sharing in the collective celebration of the region’s ever-expanding transit options, another big draw for us as riders is Metro’s system-wide program of art installations at each station.
The Metro Art program commissions local artists to portray the history of the area, with the art portraying often a more textured and reflective story than a history book could describe. Perhaps appreciation is also due to whomever put that “L.A. has no history,” idea into Angelenos’ psyche, as it has inspired both Metro and these station artists to prove it so wrong.
Daniel Gonzalez, printmaker and graphic artist, is one of these artists. His hand-glazed porcelain panels illustrate Expo’s LaCienega/Jefferson station and depict the history of Ballona Creek. Daniel hosted a reception at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook as part of the day’s events, allowing visitors to see the panel's artistry in detail and to meet the artist and hear his often humorous account of bringing his work from concept to reality.
Looking out over the vast panorama of Los Angeles the Overlook features, Daniel described his concept for the station’s panels. “People say L.A. has no history. Maybe to them, history is a long ago moment, frozen in time. I think of L.A. history as a collection of ever changing, flowing events, a tapestry of collected stories. The scenes I depicted on the panels are these collected stories I wanted to pass along.”
He recounted his experience with the panel depicting the Tongva people as one of his reality stories. Some of the first to inhabit the Ballona Creek area, the finished panel (its print illustrates this post) can be described as not your usual history museum diorama. Daniel explained how this came about:
“I thought everything was set to go when I was advised to obtain Tongva approval for that panel. Deadlines were looming, I was feeling the pressure and no ideas were coming to me on how I was going to do that. So, I figured getting outdoors would help and started walking in the Cornfields, a park that’s close to my studio.”
“Not too long into my walk, I saw two women struggling with digging something, so I offered to help them and they gladly accepted. After a few minutes, one of the women mentioned what I was doing was digging post holes for a Tongva ceremonial structure. The women were Tongva!
A coincidence? An 'only in L.A.' story? You be the judge.
PS: The Tongva women not only gave Daniel the needed approval but encouraged him to depict them as you see on the panel. The three remain friends to this day.
The April 27-May 3 "LA Weekly" article by Alissa Walker,"Train-Spotting," has photos of two more of Daniel's station panels.For more info see Daniel's website. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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