Archive for July, 2010

More Ruffus Stuff

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

As I post each new episode of Ruffus The Dog I’m also going to be posting these little “trailers” or (shudder) “advertisements” that can be spread further than the full shows themselves.

I’ve been wanting to post full episodes on the official Ruffus YouTube channel but I’m still waiting to see how much further they intend to jerk me around after reneging on their “Director” status that would allow me to post videos longer than 10 minutes in length. Each Ruffus episode is just a little over 14 minutes long – so the best I can do with Da Toob is make announcements like this.

There are many other promotional efforts I’ll be pursuing in the coming weeks, most of which will benefit from having an extant body of works already posted rather than attempting to jump up and down in an effort to gain attention for a site that is barely there at all. It’s all good.

Niagara Falls! Slowly I turn – step by step. One step at a time – we shall see how it all plays out.

Cheers.

Peter Coyote On Arts & Creativity

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

I found this over on the AdaFruit blog where they have neat stuff you can build and also cool ideas to infect your mind with.

Peter Coyote is perhaps best known by the mass audience as the guy with the jangling keys in E.T. but he’s got an incredible body of work and a life that embraces significant cultural and political issues – so when he talks about art and creativity – you listen:

The folks at AdaFruit were especially tweaked by Coyote’s statements on how important the integration of the arts and sciences are – that they are not and should not be isolated endeavours. It’s well known that music and math are inextricably linked – so why do we constantly see music programs being cut from schools while pressure is brought to bear to produce better math students? It’s insane. It’s misguided. It’s dumbass cracker dogma and it’s gotta stop.

Art is life – we must infuse every aspect of our lives with artistic and creative purpose. This makes us better people and makes for a better world.

So anytime some ignorant yahoo smug-faced know-it-all politician tells you the arts aren’t important and need to be cut back – you stand up and tell them to fuck off.

Cheers.

Sharktopus

Monday, July 26th, 2010

As the blog headline suggests – this is about Sharktopus, the latest release from Roger Corman. The trailer is fucking awesome. It’s like: Beach Blanket Bingo meets Jaws meets It Came From Beneath the Sea meets Eric Roberts and then skull fucks the entire audience.

For a sequel maybe Shaktopus can devour all the spilled oil in the gulf – and the entire BP corporation – and then swim off into the sunset until he/she is needed again. Just like a reformed Godzilla helping to repair post-war Japan’s fractured sense of identity. That would mean Corman’s gonna need a couple of really tiny twins to narrate this shit. How’s he gonna afford that?

God – show business can be SO complex.

Cheers.

P.S. I just remembered – Corman simply doesn’t afford this shit. I can hear the production meeting now:

“CG? Midgets? Screw that! Hire Mary-Kate and Ashley for an hour, we’ll put the camera on a ladder so they look short, just have ‘em wobble their mouths around for a while and we’ll dub in whatever chipmunk-voiced crap we want to. What are sitting there for? GO!”

A Ruffus Update

Monday, July 19th, 2010

When I finally opened the Ruffus The Dog web site to the public I knew it wasn’t really finished – nothing ever is.

There are always changes, tweaks and inevitable corrections to be made as any site grows and gets road-tested by those who arrive first at the gates. There were some issues with bandwidth and file size for the videos – they tended to choke, stutter and endlessly buffer, thus degrading the viewing experience. I’ve made a few changes in that regard so it’s a smaller file size that plays on the web while still providing a broadcast quality version for download.

Here’s the Robin Hood episode:

I suspect I may have to do some re-encoding to get the data rate just right so it all plays to my satisfaction.

There are also download links now for the episodes (in a variety of formats) so the shows can be viewed freely on other devices. I wish that functionality was built right into the player but since it’s not I need to provide it for each post on the site. Fair enough.

Eventually there will be more outlets for the full episodes – YouTube, Vimeo etc. – and I’ll likely use a service like TubeMogul to make placement of the files easier. Right now I’m content to do everything by hand so I can get a better grip on the formats, file sizes and general layout before attempting to automate the process. One step at a time.

There are also new badges which link to the Twitter and Facebook pages for Ruffus.

Overall I’m not completely satisfied with the graphic layout of the site – I want to keep playing with some ideas – but it was important to finally get it out there for everyone else to see, otherwise I’d be fiddling with it for an eternity. First thing is to make sure all the basic bells and whistles work with a minimum of fuss and bther – then I can do more work on making it pretty.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting two more episodes: Ruffus & Hyde and our own version of The Frog Prince. After that it will be one new show each week – usually on a Tuesday.

Once I get into a comfortable routine of posting episodes I can concentrate on more Behind-The-Scenes material and the writing of the Storybooks.

Cheers.

P. S. I won’t be offering many caveats for the shows themselves – there’s a lot of good shit in Ruffus The Dog – but I feel obliged to mention that the late Karen Ohland, one of our key puppet builders, absolutely despised the Little Jane puppet and kept asking if we could re-shoot the entire episode just so we could change that character.

Never happened – sorry, Karen

Everybody Knows

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

I was in a shop with my son today and they were playing Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” while we were quietly persuing some neat old retro shit. I had my head buried in a box of vinyl disks, flipping through the cover art and falling, like Alice, down the rabbit to the days of my own teenage youth – when my boy sidled up to me and asked:

“Is what he’s saying true?”

“Who?”

“The guy in the song. The guy singing.”

“That’s Leonard Cohen.”

“Yeah, okay, but is it true?”

I looked at the somber face of my child entering his own version of the formative years and wanted to say all the things every parent has ever said to their child, every confidence building maxim, every fairy tale with a happy ending and every other desperate attempt to gloss over the bitter truths every one of us, through time, find easier to chew and swallow and, while not liking it, finding either acceptance or muted rebellion or numb ambivalence along with a meekly bowed head and the whispered prayer of: “Just leave us alone and it’ll be okay.”

I couldn’t lie.

“Yeah.”

“Oh.”

“It can change.”, I added feebly.

“Sure.”

He went back to poking through old hats and tin lunch boxes and I pretended to be interested in the old records for a little while longer – until the song ended – and then we walked home, talking about everything except how corrupt the world has been, is and hopefully won’t be.

The mix of retro memories, Cohen’s song and that brief burdened conversation between us helped me find a synchronistic link with this mashup of the song with clips from the old Man From U.N.C.L.E. series.

I couldn’t help but remember the scene in the Peter Yates film “Breaking Away” where Paul Dooley, as the father, has to admit to his son that life isn’t fair and people cheat and that’s just the way things are.

If you haven’t seen this film please seek it out. It’s the closest thing to a European film ever made in America.

I wanted to post that specific heart rending clip here to go along with this wandering scrawl of words but the best I could do was the wonderful “Refund?!!!” scene – which is actually better ‘cuz it’s funny.

Enjoy.

And, just so I don’t leave this post – and you – in an entirely bleak state of mind, rest assured that while I agree with the facts of Cohen’s grinding screed I am not bound by any attendant pessimism.

Regardless of the relentless and manic drive of the fascist cult of business to take over our governments, steal our public resources, deny our community voices and despoil all they cannot own and control – I really do believe it can change.

How? I have no fucking idea. My generation has failed completely and the best we can do now is prepare those who come after us to be better human beings than we were. I am not a man of faith – but I do have faith in our children. And if I could, I would take back all the wrongs committed against them and somehow give a refund for all that has been broken and wasted. But I can’t do that, can I?

None of us can. And we all know it.

Hug the ones you love.

Cheers.

Ruffus The Dog Is Online!

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

After what seemed like an eternity I have finally got the Ruffus The Dog web site up and running.

The only caveat I’ll offer is this: It’s a start.

More material will be added of course – we have a lot of shows to post – and I also have to get cracking on writing (and recording) the storybooks.

We’re going to be putting a fair amount of behind-the-scenes material on the site as well but that’s mostly about the production of the original shows. In addition to that I’m going to provide some documentation here on the history of the show and about the process we’re going through to make all this new stuff happen.

As the year progresses we’ll find out how successful we are at our fund raising efforts to produce new episodes for release online. Fingers crossed.

Tell your friends. Digg it. Tweet it. Shout it from the rooftops.

Many thanks for your patience.

Cheers.

P. S. I’m really liking the music store set up using Bandcamp. You can listen online, download, embed – it’s really great.

This is one of my favourite songs from the show:

<a href="http://music.ruffusthedog.net/track/pants">Pants by Ruffus The Dog</a>

Enjoy!

Big Bang Big Boom – History Of Everything

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

I found this via Gizmodo and it’s a really cool animation done by the Italian artist BLU who’s work I’ve featured here before. This is pretty much just the history of everything – animated – on walls and rooftops. Like I said: cool.

BIG BANG BIG BOOM – the new wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

Speaking of cool – today is another hot day and I will be doing as little as possible while waiting for the air outside to stop feeling like the boiled anus of a dead water buffalo.

Cheers.

Happy July 4th – Jimi Hendrix Plays The Star Spangled Banner At Woodstock (1969)

Monday, July 5th, 2010

It’s Jimi.

Nuff said.

Happy Independence Day America.

Cheers.

The Power Of The Mash-Up

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

I present this as an example of the power of the mash-up to comment, contrast, parody, satirize and otherwise take the piss out of anyone or anything which affects us all.

Removing the power of the people to speak back through culture only serves to give power to assholes like this funky jerk with a great set of pipes. Support fair copyright reform, like Net Neutrality it is a vital component of Free Speech.

Cheers.

P.S. In Finland Broadband Is A Legal Right – tell your phone & cable companies and their big media lobbyists to fuck off.