Some pics from New Beverly Cinema's very fun and sold-out Walter Hill double feature last Sunday. There were lots of great anecdotes from the actors but I didn't take notes. If anybody else was there who did, please sound off in the comments section.
years ago in Alabama, I was enrolled in a summer kindergarten class
taught by Mrs. Peggy McDowell. She had remodeled the large basement of
her house to serve as a classroom for a dozen or so children from my
We learned about numbers and letters there. We drew and painted and
made things from clay. We played games in her yard. After afternoon
milk and cookies, we pulled out cots and took naps.
When we graduated from Mrs. McDowell’s kindergarten, it was an
actual graduation. With our parents watching, we donned caps and gowns
and walked across the patio to proudly accept rolled diplomas from our
teacher. She played Elgar’s traditional “Pomp and Circumstance” on a
portable record player, and today I can’t hear that song without
getting misty-eyed at the memory. I remember feeling for the first time
in my life that I was marking an important milestone, even if I
couldn’t have put it in those words at that age.
Thirty-six years ago today, my fellow kindergarteners and I followed
Mrs. McDowell up the stairs to the house where she lived with her
family. These stairs were usually forbidden, and even though we had
permission to climb them, we were quiet as mice. Once upstairs, we sat
cross-legged on the carpeted floor of her den. And on a large
black-and-white TV set, we watched in wonder as a man in a spacesuit
bounced across the surface of the moon.
That night after dinner I looked up at the moon from my backyard. I
thought about the men bouncing around up there, and wondered what they
had for dinner. It was a warm, humid night in Alabama. Were they cold
up there? Crickets chirped all around me. What did it sound like on the
moon? I wondered what we looked like to the astronauts. I wondered
about the universe and my place in it as I never had before.
Not counting my parents, Mrs. McDowell was my first teacher. In many ways, she was the most important one I ever had.
In Alabama, a state that has never put education high on its list of
priorities, she devoted 22 years of her life to nurturing hundreds,
maybe thousands of children. With love and imagination, she made sure
they got off to a good start.
Peggy Bailey McDowell died this week, and her family laid her to rest in the small town where I was born.
Today we commemorate the moon landing, as we should. But in my heart
and every action I take, I'm honoring an amazing and generous teacher
named Mrs. McDowell. She showed young children that they could dream of
the moon on a summer day. And she gave us the tools and encouragement
to live in the wonderful world that spins below it.
Thank you, Mrs. McDowell. I'll never stop looking up. Promise.
Like most nerds, I crave the latest and highest tech. But do I really need it?
A new blog called Last Year's Model is a reminder to us all that, no, we don't. Most of us will be happier (and more green, with yet more green in our pockets) if we just make do with what we have. A quick inventory happily confirms that my existing gear is very reliable.
Cell phone: original iPhone I bought used from a friend over a year ago.
Recorder:Sony MiniDisc recorder/player I won in a contest almost a decade ago.
I use most of this gear every day and it rarely, if ever, lets me down. Over the last year, my tech-related purchases were either peripherals (Bluetooth headset) or blank media (USB flash drive, DVD-Rs, etc). Making this list gives me a sense of satisfaction to counter-balance my tech envy of friends with swank new HD flatscreens and netbooks.
If I'm patient, I'll probably get some good deals when my friends upgrade in a couple of years. Like The Police said: "When the world is running down, you make the best of what's still around ..."
The Global Hawk, an unmanned aerial vehicle that's seen action in Iraq and Afghanistan, is now being used to study the environment.
Earlier this year I wrote a story on the Global Hawk's new mission for Unmanned Systems, the magazine of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. I traveled to Edwards Air Force Base for the unveiling of the aircraft and interviewed the program scientists and engineers. It's a fascinating science-based project using a drone that can stay aloft for 30 hours, allowing it to travel from the equator to the polar regions and back in one flight.
It's a members-only magazine so the online content is restricted to subscribers, but NASA liked the article so much they asked to make it available at their website. You can download a 4.6 MB PDF of my story here (the photos are mine as well).
It doesn’t hurt anybody. It’s something I love to do, and it doesn’t
hurt anybody. And the world probably doesn’t need any more songs, but I
need more songs. It’s satisfying and lovely to do. I feel better, and
as a band—I think I can speak for everyone—we feel better making
something that wasn’t there ten minutes ago. Whatever spirit there is
in the universe, I think that puts you closer to it. The act of
creation, you know, it’s a very powerful thing, and very gratifying. I
wish it on everyone. I wish everyone could enjoy making something that
wasn’t there before.
A staggering conceptual debut for singer/saxophonist Clark Perry, "Each Wins All" was released under his solo nom de plume Governor of Gibraltar. Recorded with an unnamed gypsy klezmer band Perry encountered during a stay at an East Berlin drug rehabilitation clinic, "Each Wins All" is a jazzy, surrealistic portrait of a 1920s German cabaret singer who poisons her devoted nightclub audience before committing suicide onstage. Critically drubbed upon its 1986 release, the album has since received public nods of admiration from David Bowie, Johnny Cash and Luciano Pavarotti.