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Archive for March, 2009

Cartwheel Racing

Posted by evankessler on March 30, 2009


Lights, camera, action! were the keywords this weekend as Team Film Geniot got together to partake in the 24 hour film race put on by FilmRacing.com.  Having participated before our solid team knew what to expect, a full day of strenuous and fast paced film putting together.  Our group originally gathered on Wednesday evening at Jason S’s office to discuss possible ideas for our short film even though we had not yet been fed the official topic and the action we would have to incorporate into our film.  We came up with a lot of great ideas and probably some bad ones, but we were pretty excited to get the chance to put all of our talents in a box, shake them up, and see what we came up with.

Prior to receiving the crucial details to the filmmaking process at 10pm on Friday I had a brief dinner with my mom, my stepfather, and my cousin Erika in town from Indiana.  There’s not really much to say about it other than we were participating in that Dine-In Brooklyn week, so we enjoyed a tasty meal at Sette before I rushed back home to catch the first half of Syracuse’s Sweet 16 loss to Oklahoma.

At around 8:30pm, I headed to the 7th avenue Q station to take the train to Andy’s place, where our group was meeting up.  Coincidentally, taking the train at the same time were 3 other members of the team, Jason, Kayvalyn and Andrea.  We only travelled 2 stops further into Brooklyn, but we experienced one of the more annoying subway rides ever as the girl behind us was successfully rehearsing the art of annoyance.  She kept making the loudest squealingest screaming sound while joking around with her male friend.  She emitted brain piercing wails and screeches much to the chagrin of a large majority of the commuters in our car.  Luckily, we weren’t going that far and eventually escaped.

When we got to Andy’s place Morwin and Suli had already been on hand.   We sat on the couch making conversation and watching Syracuse being soundly defeated before the vital information arrived in Andy’s email.  The New York Film race was about to begin.  Our film had to use a theme of “breaking the rules” and had to incorporate the action of “clinking of glass”.

Waiting To Begin The Creative Process

Waiting To Begin The Creative Process

More Creative Anticipation

More Creative Anticipation

We fiddled with some of our older ideas, but the ones we got through never ended up fitting right.  Rather early in our discussions someone brought up the idea of using Morwin’s pizza place and I think I might have said that we should use it as a front for a business.  I think then Jason or Andy came up with an idea for a travel documentary and everything just took shape from there.  We didn’t want to rely on outside actors so I fell into the role as the host of the travel show and despite the fact that Suli, Jason, Andrea, and I had all previously discussed writing together, Jason just started typing the script on his computer and within minutes had come up with some really wonderful ideas.  There was no bickering or hard feelings about roles we wanted to play, it was a cohesive team effort.

After figuring out the story and the characters Andrea decided that she would have to style my hair and do wardrobe for my character.  We went into Andy’s room and picked out a button down shirt and a necklace.  I was also equipped with a backpack and a camera with a strap around my neck.  Voila!  A travel sh0w host was born.  We quickly got all the scripts printed out and discussed the props we needed.  We quite illegally stuffed entirely too many people into Suli’s RAV4 and made a few stops to pick up props before heading off to Schmook’s in Greenpoint.

A Good Example of An Automobile Travel Safety Hazard

A Good Example of An Automobile Travel Safety Hazard

We picked up Enisha along the way, because we thought we’d need man on the street interviews or some extras for the shoot.  When we got to Schmook’s we were met by Rich and Lina who came from a theme party, the theme of which escapes me.  Anyway, we took a little bit to set up, but we were extremely fortunate to have a great location and the proprietor on hand to make us a couple of pizzas with which we could shoot, as well as a real working oven.

During our little run of errands Andrea had picked up some of her stylist tools and was hell bent on making me look like the travel host she wanted me to look like.  I was fine with that as I was sort of already getting into character.  She put a bunch of hairspray and other stuff in my hair.  I have to admit, I liked the attention of being on camera talent.

Andrea Makes Me Look Like A Star

Andrea Makes Me Look Like A Star

We began filming probably close to 2am.  We shot pretty steadily until sunrise.  It was hard to keep up energy and Kayvalyn and Enisha got a lot of quality sleeping in there.  Everyone was really cooperative even though we didn’t get around to using some of them in a convenient time frame.  Our big goal was to get Morwin’s scene’s done since he had already done us enough of a solid by letting us use his place, the least we could do is get him out at a reasonable time which probably ended up being 5am.  We got the most out of all of our friends on hand though…and at around 6:20 we had finish most of principal photography save for the show’s intro which required me outside walking around Greenpoint and spewing a lot of bull about the neighborhood’s history and the history of the particular pizza joint we were entering.

It was during this time that Andrea and I came up with the host’s name, Chris Cartwheel.  I’m not really sure why it was so funny.  Maybe we were a little stir crazy after filming so long, but it seemed to work well, and it ended up giving us the strongest parts of the short, namely, the theme song and the open graphic.  The shoot ended around 7:30am give or take.  I think I was home by 8am.

It was a long night and I got a few hours of sleep before I had to head back to Andy’s at 5:30 to check out the edited version of the piece.  It was really funny, but unfortunately it was too long.  It had to be 3 and a half minutes and we had come in at 6 minutes and 30 seconds.  A lot would have to be cut out before handing the piece in at 10pm.  Ultimately, it got done, but a lot of great moments ended up being cut out.  Hopefully, there is a directors cut.    In any case, if you’d like to see “Lights Camera Cartwheel! with Chris Cartwheel” then I suggest you click here.

The rest of the evening after getting the film turned in was relatively quiet.  Jason, Andrea, and I met up with Kayvalyn and Enisha and went back to Jayvalyn’s place where we ate an awesome dinner and watched Synechdoche, New York.  If you’re not in the mood for a heavy and confusing movie, then I don’t suggest watching it.  However, if you are in the mood to be deep and analytical, then it’s a treat.  It really depends how you’re feeling I suppose.

Sunday I woke up early and met with my brother, cousin, and uncle in Midtown East as my uncle in from Arizona was driving us all to Rockland where we had to do the unveiling for my Grandfather’s headstone and have passover dinner.  It was certainly an early date for Passover, but my mom is going to be away for it this year and since a good deal of my family was in town she wanted to have a big family get together.  It all went off without a hitch, except for the fact that right when we wanted to leave to go back to the city there was a serious hailstorm with huge chunks storming down.  It was a brief semi-apocalyptic even that was actually quite entertaining.

I didn’t get home til around 10:30pm and by that time I had missed the live online draft of my other Fantasy Baseball team, which I was fine with.  I trusted my autorankings and was rewarded, but it wasn’t half as rewarding as the enthralling experience of making yet another film with my friends.  I hope we do another one soon, whether or not there’s a film contest to win.

Posted in entertainment, family, Fantasy Baseball, filmmaking, hosting, Weekend Recap | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

I’m Not Taye Diggs

Posted by evankessler on March 20, 2009

0000041200_20070705173631I’m not Taye Diggs, but if I were I would definitely be in Miami supporting my Syracuse Orangemen as they took on Stephen F. Austin in their first round matchup of the NCAA College basketball tournament commonly referred to as “March Madness.”  After all, I’d be Taye Diggs and having gone to Syracuse it just seems like something I should  and could do.  Being a celebrity, I could probably get  a flight at a moment’s notice and really great courtside seats.

I’d be sitting right behind Coach Boeheim and I’d sing the Syracuse fight song and the team would really be egged on by my presence. They’d look in the audience and say, “That’s Taye Diggs…Let’s put on a great show for him.  He’s put on so many great shows for us in movies like How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Go, and The Wood, We’ve got to return the favor.”  I’d yell things from the crowd like “Go Cuse!” and “Yes!”  My exciting and supportive antics would probably lead me to become the teams official tournament mascot and my presence would be an important factor in their further success, much like Jack Nicholson’s presence at Lakers games.   All of my movie and TV plans would have to be put on hold for a few weeks, as I’d be busy helping my alma mater make it all the way to the Final Four in Detroit and once we finally won the championship the team would let me come onto the floor and hold the Championship trophy, because I’m Taye Diggs…but I’m not Taye Diggs.  But If I were Taye Diggs, that’s just how things would go down.

Posted in Celebrity, Sports | 2 Comments »

Tweeting Our Lives Away: Twitter and The Inevitable Loss of Perspective

Posted by evankessler on March 19, 2009


To be or not to be, that is almost certainly not the question.  The current inquiry du jour is “What are you doing right now?”  That question is almost constantly being answered by 4 to 5 million Twitter users.  Mind you, those people aren’t being interrogated by their family, friends, or even their local police force; but a text box at the top of a website.

So why then are those people then providing the most personal  and often mundane details of their daily existence, ranging from current whereabouts to the least possibly descriptive rehashing of an event that occurred during the span of the past twenty-four hours.  One can’t say for sure, maybe they’re lonely.  Maybe technology has driven people so far apart and we no longer know how to communicate, but we somehow think that the only way we can be close to each other yet again is through the use of technology.  Or maybe there is no explanation, maybe people just want people to think they are the most important people in the world, no matter what it is they are up to or no matter what their opinion is.

Sure, this last sentence sounds as though I’ve described most blogging to a T, but the difference here is that blogging and most forms of writing allow for perspective and context.  Sure there are blogs that are done via mobile means and thus wield their sword of immediacy, but the ones with a valuable perspective usually take more than 140 words to do so.

Tweeting -as the use of the popular micro-blogging site is called-offers very little if any perspective.  Most journalism and conversation aims to answer the crucial questions of who, what, where, why, and how.  Tweeting often eschews valuable dimensions of communication with just the who and the what painting character sketches with very little depth and personality in favor of only action. Blogging is Die Hard to Twitter’s, well, pick a Michael Bay movie.


Sure by following a Tweet Stream we might be given enough hints to piece together a story, but that also causes us to insert our own bias and knowledge, like a detective when piecing together a crime scene no matter how little evidence there is (and often times there is very little), that’s what twitter leaves us to do with a personality or story, something that is clued into much quicker via a lengthy conversation or by reading something of greater volume. For instance…here’s a tweet I received today:

“Holy fucking creepy girl on the bus today… Meant to tweet this earlier. Wow. Creepy scary.”

Well, where’s the story?  The person has no room to expound on it and if I am not in proximity to said person, or if I don’t even really know who this person is, why has the person chosen to share it with me if they cannot tell me the story?  Why not just save the story without the tweet for later.  If there was someone creepy on the bus, it’s most certainly worth remembering and telling your friends, but this form does little in the way of context. We know this person was on the bus and there was a creepy girl.  Why was she weird and creepy? What did she do?  We then are free to make up our own story without any facts with no accent on truth.

I constantly get tweets from panels. People love to tweet while witnessing live speakers.  They’ll quote marketing experts saying things like ‘“Define relevant attributes, model for an almost infinite amount of variations of those attributes, not a finite set of profiles,” which means absolutely nothing to me out of context.  People may say great things, but those great things usually have a great context.  For instance, we all know when FDR said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” at his inaugural address in 1933, when the nation was in the midst of financial crisis, much like today and those words carried great weight as part of a rousing speech.  What if they weren’t part of that speech? What if FDR was responding to an ill-looking Meatloaf cooked by Eleanor?  It certainly wouldn’t have been the famous or meaningful quote it is today.

I even know a young entrepeneur who was invited to the White House who while at the White House felt the need to twitter that he would only Twitter if  it were “respectable to the speaker” .  When is it ever more respectable to fiddle with an electronic device than to listen to someone who is speaking?  Especially, when you’re at the White House; you should be enjoying the visceral experience of being at the White House.  Ask that person what their memories of being at the White House would be and they’d probably say, “didn’t you read my tweets?” Your memories of the White House should not be “Well, I was listening to the President or whomever speak, and that’s when I tweeted you that I was listening to the President speak.” There are reasons we have memories and it’s not because we make a live call while we’re having a memory, it’s because they are worth remembering.

Twitter may be the most effective form of getting out information as it comes, allowing you to be right there with the person or event, but you are not there. Therein lies the problem with media’s reliance on this abbreviated form of communication.  Encouraging the public to latch onto this form of news tracking leads a serious void in the context department.  Sure we can read that Congress passed a stimulus bill or a bomb went off in Baghdad, but who did it and by what margin and what effects have they had or will they have. Saying things as they are happening gives us precious little perspective.  We’ve had no time to drink in what we’ve done, we only know that we’ve done it and so does everyone else.  Extra…Extra read all about it, I’m walking down the street.  Extra…extra…I’m in Congress listening to the President’s speech, nevermind what he’s saying…I’m there.

If Twitter continues its torrid growth pace we risk losing our ability to communicate our important stories as a nation of storytellers and dialogue creators in favor of headlines that number less than 140 characters. If history is reduced to just headlines to tell our story, how could we ever know which ones were the most important as there would be endless streams of the mundane to sift through?  How could we ensure that horrible moments didn’t repeat themselves if we didn’t have any details, just streams of live tweets that were inevitably be wiped out when a huge bomb hit wherever the Twitter mainframe sits?

One thing’s for certain without use of this new technology in moderation all of this endless tweeting is sure to turn us into a bunch of first class twits.

For a less than serious take on this issue…you might want to check out this additional post.

Posted in blogging, Social Networking, technology | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Deception (Green)Point/Park Slope

Posted by evankessler on March 17, 2009

This past Friday brought with it the promise of a pleasantly musical evening courtesy of New Jersey rock band, The Wrens and my good friend Arby.  However, before heading towards the bright lights of Manhattan I had a few things to take care of prior to leaving Brooklyn.  Specifically, I wanted to get in a quick workout before the probable night of drinking ahead.

I dressed up…or I guess I would have to say I dressed down in order for my brief sojourn to the gym diagonal from my apartment.  I wore a red pair of sweatpants, a t-shirt, and my navy blue college sweatshirt with the word “Syracuse”  emblazoned in bright orange letters divided down the middle with the zipper.  As I crossed 7th avenue on the South Side of Union Street a voice called out “Hey, Syracuse!” and as I looked over I noticed an attractive woman from whom the previous sounds had been emitted.  I did not immediately recognize her face, so my original thought was that this person was someone I had possibly gone to school with that I didn’t remember, or a recent graduate who wanted to make friends with another fellow former Orangeman.

I unknowingly approached said enticing individual and began a pleasant dialogue.  She told me she had just moved  from the Syracuse area and noticed my sweatshirt.  We had a brief discussion about where she lived in Brooklyn and when I had graduated Syracuse.  She then introduced herself as “Jasmine” and exchanged “nice to meet you” pleasantries.  As someone who has had a hard go of it attracting members of the opposite sex as of late, I almost felt like this was too easy, like an attractive girl fell into the palm of my hands and wanted to know about me just because I was wearing a Syracuse sweatshirt.  It’s like they say, good things come when you stop looking or maybe they say some things are too good to be true, because then it happened.


What Happened Next

She took off her backpack and pulled out a petition.  It was then I suddenly realized what corner I was on.  Union and 7th is more or less a hotspot for charity-mongers, how did she manage to disguise herself so effortlessly?  Maybe I was blinded by my hopeful nature or maybe she’s just a master of the petition.  She then asked me if I had signed up for Greenpeace and knew what they did.  I wanted to reply, “they break hearts” but I resisted.  Instead I made up some story that she could probably see through, that I thought I had signed up some time ago and was probably a member.  I told her I was in a rush and wanted to get to the gym because I needed a quick workout so I could go and  catch the Syracuse game which started rather early.

With that I bid the deceitful donation collector adieu and worked out my aggression sans steroids on the elliptical.  My heart rate was racing, but despite it’s speedy nature continued to sink deeper within my chest.  Damn you Green Peace.  I’ll teach you to play with my heart just yet.  I’m going to find a few aerosol deodorant cans and drive my mom’s SUV across the country for that.

All cruel heartbreak aside, I eventually made it into the city and met Arby at Blue and Gold where he was gathered with Paul L for his birthday.  On my way in, I began to realize how cold it actually was.  The weather had seemingly been up and down all week, but the temperature seemed to dip back to nipple-stiffening lows.  I was relieved to finally get inside, but our seats at the end of the bar near the door were none too comfortable as people frequently kept leaving the door opening, allowing for a more than cool breeze to enter the premises.

After a few celebratory drinks it was off to the Bowery Ballroom for myself and Arby.  On the way we stopped for some turkish goodness at Bereket and had a few drinks at the venue bar before The Wrens went on.

The Wrens Take The Stage

The Wrens Take The Stage

I didn’t know much about The Wrens prior to the show.  I have one of their albums on my iPod, but I don’t know if I’ve ever listened to it straight through.  Sometimes I’ll be listening to my iPod though and a song comes on that I realize that I quite enjoy and I look to see who it is and it’s The Wrens.  So, I guess that means something.  For what it’s worth, I found the show to be vastly entertaining and the band to be entirely able of making me knee-bend head bob along to the songs.  The only problem came about 50-55 minutes into the show when it ended.  Now, I can’t be that disappointed because I didn’t pay for the tickets, but I can definitely understand why Arby was and still is slightly bothered by the lack of length to the show.  I for one was enjoying myself and was okay to listen to music for another 30 to 40 minutes.  Instead though, Arby and I had two more drinks at the downstairs bar before stupidly going on to The Patriot, where are evening ended after several more PBRs.

The next day I felt as though I were one of those drunk dazes where everything that comes out of my mouth is either completely nonsensical or hilarious because there is absolutely no filter between thoughts and spoken words.  There wasn’t much to Saturday except for laziness that culminated in watching Syracuse lose the Big East championshipo to Louisville.

Sunday was more of nothing.  I peaked out the front door just in time to see the St. Patrick’s day parade go by our apartment and witness now perennial mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, flanked by two staffers holding “Meet Anthony Weiner”  signs, shouting into a megaphone.  His megaphone amplified presence was enough to not make me want to leave the house to witness the procession as he seemed to be talking to people on the sidewalks and I didn’t want any politician kissing my babies or picking me out of a crowd. After a brief trip to the gym, I made a trip to visit Jess S’s new apartment off of 5th avenue in the Slope and spent the rest of my evening taking in some of the World Baseball Classic.  Yes, my weekends are exciting affairs…maybe one day you’ll be apart of one.

Posted in concerts, Myspace, Weekend Recap | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Trojan Horse Thoughts

Posted by evankessler on March 12, 2009

Until seeing this commercial last night, I had never thought about the masturbatory tendencies of the elderly.  Thank you Trojan for sneaking them into my head…seriously.

Posted in Advertising, elderly, sexuality | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

War of Wordz

Posted by evankessler on March 7, 2009

I was feeling good about myself 16 days ago.  I had just begun an online game of Scrabble® with my good friend Jess in Florida over the interweb and was fairly confident I would win.  It’s not that I think Jess is not smart.  Quite the opposite.  I find her to be funny, conversationally stimulating, and an all around great person.  I was just feeling cocky and thought my intellectual gifts would win out in online board game format.  In the early going it was rather even, I threw out a R-U-N-T, she tossed in a N-O-D-E,   I got decent value by spelling “quiet”and she topped me with a “shew”.  Then I whipped out my “Fez” and all she could do was pluralize her previous output.  I started giving her that “uneasy” feeling, eventually going glandular on her by whipping out “pineal.”

War of Wordz I: Lost This Battle, But The War Rages On!

War of Wordz I: Lost This Battle, But The War Rages On!

My verbosity was proving too much for my Miami-based competition who even had to skip a turn due to a lack of linguistic options. I was ready for the story of my victory to go down in scrabble “lore” when my opponent began to show some “valor” and eventually “wised” up for a stout 50 point gain, which overtook my lead in one fell swoop.  In an effort to regain the lead “again” I continued to strategically place words.  Towards the end my use of “lox” helped me recapture the driver’s seat for one shining moment, but it was too little too late. Jess had to do precious little to “nab” the lead and I became nostalgiac for the days in which I “led” this battle of wordz and willz.  I still had a chance at finishing with more points, but “lo” and behold not even one last slight “tic” from my tile dispensing hand could stop me from finally emerging defeated today by a score of 315 to 310.  My hat goes off to my opponent…but this war of wordz is not over…not by a long shot.

Posted in Competition, games, Internet | Leave a Comment »