BTW, Obama is Gonna Win (And Here’s Why)

September 2nd, 2008

1.  It’s a year for the Democrats, the youth vote, Bush’s unfavorables, etc. etc. blah blah blah

2. Corporations want Obama to win.

Check out the DNC sites’ list of sponsors and the RNC’s list (also, notice how on the GOP convention’s page just how hard it is to find out who the sponsors or “Official Providers” are).  The many corporations supporting this year’s DNC know that as a brand, Obama sells, and he sells to a largely young, enthusiastic, affluent voting group.  Corporations are assuming that by investing in Obama, his good brand name will rub off  on their own, and attract just some of the many inspired youths in support of Obama.  Also, as a brand, Obama’s tie to “Hope” and “Change” is pretty well established, and in the current economic depression, an Obama win could mean a positive “rebranding” so to speak for American products and corporations as a whole.

The corporations want Obama to win and if Obama has the corporations, then Obama’s got the presidency.

3.  Sarah Palin is, well, a train wreck apparently.

It’s pretty clear now that McCain didn’t properly vet Palin in choosing her as his V.P.  In choosing Palin, John McCain may have made the most reckless decision of his political career.

Here’s a nice little rundown from Talking Points Memo of what’s up with Sarah Palin that we know about, so far.

Weird ass, ridiculous, Alaskan, night-time soap opera political psycho drama.

Just what in hell was McCain thinking?

Bill Schieffer’s Ode to St. Paul

August 31st, 2008

Like many during this political season, I’ve become something of a political junkie as I’ve been following the 2008 race for the U.S. presidency.  While watching Face the Nation today, the CBS Sunday morning political talk show, I got a kick out of Bill Schieffer’s ode to St. Paul, MN, near where I grew up.

Watch CBS Videos Online

The Family Videos (Round 1)

August 31st, 2008

While I was back in Minnesota this summer I made it one of my goals to try to do something about all of the home videos we have lying around my dad’s house.  These videos date back up to thirty years.  There are boxes filled with old football and soccer games, birthdays, family vacations, proms, get-togethers with friends, even births (in my case only–since I’m the youngest in the family, I’m the lucky one who has my whole life on film).   It’s your average archive of family footage.  Of course, these videos represent a treasure trove to my family, on the very top of the list of things to retrieve if my dad’s house is on fire.

Right now, the issue in our family regarding our home videos is: should we pay someone to convert all the films to dvds or should we just do it ourselves?  After I looked in to how much it would be (around $10,000 for the service given the amount of films and tapes we possess) I realized the family would just have to take it on ourselves.

Part of the problem is that with the changing times, my father’s video capturing devices have evolved.  In our possession we had 8mm film reels as well as various super8 cassette tapes.  Some of the cassette tapes were filmed in an analog manner while the latest tapes were filmed in a digital manner.  This is a problem because the latest camcorders often can’t play back the analog tapes (as we would soon find out later).

Immodestly, I figured that the task of converting all of these old reel to reel, high 8, analog videos to a digital format would be, however time consuming, one I could handle and easily.  I assumed that it was mostly a matter of having the right hardware and time.  We didn’t have the right hardware at our disposal, but I did have time.  As I was on summer break from my teaching job, I was spending most of my time watching the complete series of “The Wire” in a mad, obsessed, season after season watching spree (side note: you can now place me firmly in the ‘Wire is the best tv show of all time’ camp).  So it was just a matter of finding the right hardware. I went to Best Buy.

At Best Buy it seemed as if most of the people working there were around 20, male, with a goatee and glasses.  They could tell me just about everything I needed to know about the newest Ipod features or the differences between Blu-Ray and HD DVD.   But when I asked a courteous Best Buy employee about how to convert 8mm film reels to a digital format, I realized that in mentioning “8mm film reels” I might as well as have been asking why my trusty phonograph wouldn’t play my beloved 45s anymore.  He paused, looked at me apologetically and said, “uh, man, yeah I don’t know, you might have to look on the internet for that.”

On the internet I found that the easiest way to convert old reel to reel videos is to simply film them while they’re being projected with your newer digital camera.   Thanks to this video from the “Digital Dad” for that one.  As it turned out, we had just about everything we needed: the films, an old film projector, a camcorder and a film editing software (IMovie).  I was psyched and ready to start the process already.  I ran downstairs in to the basement armed with a camcorder and the intention to record all the footage anew.

Then a few problems occured which I’ll list in chronological order.

1. Our camcorder, a Sony DCR-TRV240 was old.  As it happens, it can’t play back footage well, it’s choppy, and the audio goes in and out.  We wouldm’t be able to use it.

2.  We purchased off Ebay a reasonable camcorder to serve the same function.  However instead of getting the Sony DCR-TRV40 we get the Sony DCR-TRV280.  Although it’s not the same camera, we assume it can do pretty much the same thing.  As it turns out, unlike our old camcorder, the TRV240, this camcorder will not play back tapes that were filmed analog.  Of all the family videos we have, perhaps 60% were filmed analog.

3.  Of the tapes that were filmed digitally, the new camcorder can play them back.  Although this last group of videos consist of just about 20% of our video collection, at least we could could transfer these to dvd as well as film the older 8mm film reels and then transfer those to dvd using the new camcorder.  However, for some inexplicable reason, IMovie does not recognize the new camcorder when we hook it up the computer.  Even if we could properly film the 8mm film reels we still wouldn’t be able to transfer them onto the computer.

By the time I realized this last bit about the camcorder (after spending  a couple of hours chatting with a Sony tech service rep for assistance) I was just about out of time.  I had to soon depart Minnesota and head back to Europe.

So the boxes of film reels and cassette tapes are still there.  Days of footage are still not transferred, unwatchable in any kind of dvd format.  Old Sony camcorders have been discarded and newer, from Ebay purchased Sony camcorders seem useless.  I tell my dad to bring the new camcorder to Greece with him when he comes to visit in October for some kind of reconciliation.

Admittedly, as far as summer time projects, this family video thing kicked my ass.  I feel humbled and vexed.  I feel like it’s just the beginning though–this is a project that needs to be done and one that I can’t back away from.   In December, when the family regroups at my Dad’s place in Minnesota, I will be facing those boxes again, dukes up, ready for some film reel to dvd conversion.

Article on the Dad

August 24th, 2008

This came out last week so I’m little late with this post but…

Here’s an article from the Twin Cities daily newspaper, The Star Tribune, about my dad, Mr. Ko-ichi Shiozawa. It’s pretty good and goes in to what he does at Aveda, his goals there and the art of perfuming.

The Aegean Center Site

June 15th, 2008

Whew! I haven’t been posting on my blog too much. But I have been working on web stuff a lot lately. Mostly the new design and launch of the Aegean Center for Fine Arts site: We also added a blog there as well. The main goal is to make the site (with the inclusion of the blog) more interactive and dynamic within the Aegean Center community: students, faculty, alumni, guests, current students, prospective students and just those who are curious. Please check it out!

Some Pics of Paros(finally)!

May 5th, 2008

I finally put some pics up on my flickr account. If you want to see some fun pics of a donkey(!) then check ‘em out!


April 1st, 2008

In to games, summer camp kind of games

Here at the school, the students and I get together at least once a week and have a group potluck. The potlucks are amazing, everyone comes up with some delicious dishes, there’s always too much food to eat and it’s generally just a great time. They tend to get loud, rowdy, people tend to dance, and the potlucks move along quickly. We also play games. Basic summer camp games.

If there’s some people gathered around, with or without a full stomach and the drinks are a-flowin’, then I highly recommend playing a good ol’ fashioned summer camp style game. Like the kinds camp counselors play with their campers in order to pass the time in the cabin, with no tv, no video games, no internet. Which is more or less what this school feels like this semester — an artsy, Greek version of summer camp. When we’re all gathered around at the potlucks sitting around amusing each other, the games inevitably are brought out.

Some of the games I’ve picked up here and there, from friends, usually European, after cozy dinner parties. Maybe you can call them parlor games. But that sounds too much like something straight from Victorian England, it’s too rawkus for that. I’ll be honest, I tend to push the games on my fellow potluckers who may or may not want to participate in such borderline juvenile activity. Whether everyone wants to play or not, the group tends to move as one, and sooner or later, most everyone is involved.

The only games I know, and from whom I learned them, many compliments to them.

The Wolf Game or Mafia (Karim Triki)

There’s a village, and it’s being attacked by wolves. The wolves are killing the villagers, the villagers are in a panic, and they need protection.

Living amongst the villagers is a wolf hunter, a sorcerer, and a fortune teller. Each of these individuals have their own special power to use to help protect the villagers. The object of the game is for the villagers to kill the wolves before the wolves kill off the villagers.

In the game, each member receives their role on pieces of paper that they do not show to anyone else.

The roles are:

2 wolves (working together can choose to kill a villager, every round)

1 fortune teller(can view any other players’ role)

1 wolf hunter (can choose to kill who they think might the wolf, but only one time)

1 sorcerer (can choose to resuscitate someone who has been killed off, but only one time)

the rest of the players are villagers

*Little Girl (can open her eyes, as inconspicuously as possible, when the wolves are called, to see their identities)


There is also a narrator who more or less controls the flow of the game. The narrator can not participate in the game, but simply guides the game along through each round. The rounds change from night to day. When it is night time, everybody closes their eyes. The narrator calls first on the fortune teller to open his or her eyes. The fortune teller points at the player whose paper they want to see. As inconspicuously as possible, the narrator shows the chosen player’s paper to the fortune teller. Then the fortune teller closes his or her eyes and the narrator calls on the wolves to open their eyes and decide if they want to kill some one. The wolves silently work together and point at the player they want to kill. The wolves close their eyes and the narrator calls on the wolf hunter to open their eyes, and to decide if he or she wants to kill someone. After the wolf hunter chooses, he or she closes their eyes, and the narrator calls on the sorcerer to open their eyes. The sorcerer may choose if he or she wants to resuscitate someone (only one player). After the sorcerer chooses and closes his or her eyes, the night has come to an end, and everyone opens their eyes.

At this point, the narrator declares if or if not anyone has been killed, and who the victims are (without revealing their roles). The players (including the victims) then have approximately three minutes to discuss and debate who they think are the wolves. After discussion, each player (except for the killed off player(s)) individually votes for who they think is a wolf and should explain their decision. At the end of the voting, the player with the most votes is killed off, revealing what his or her role was. If two players have equal numbers of votes, then everyone votes again, but only selecting one of the two. The victim(s) who had been killed during nightfall, explain what their roles were as well.

The game continues until the wolves are discovered (and killed off) or until the wolves are able to last until the final round with out being discovered, effectively killing off all of the villagers.

Random figure out the thing in 3 different Stages Game (Julie Cutelli and Kris Digiacomo)

There are two teams. Each member from both teams has three pieces of paper. They must write a word on each paper– anything they want: a person, place or thing. Then fold it up and place the pieces of paper in a hat.

The object of the game is for the teams to be able to guess the most words from the pieces of paper. The game is divided up in three rounds:

Round 1: One member from each team has 30 seconds to explain the words with out actually saying the word itself for fellow teammates to guess from. After the 30 seconds, the teams switch. The teams go back and forth until all of the items have been guessed.

Round 2: One member from each team has 30 seconds to do “charades” to show the word — that is, by using only body language for fellow teammates to guess from. After the 30 seconds, the teams switch. The teams go back and forth until all of the words have been guessed.

Round 3: One member from each team has 30 seconds to sum up each word in one other word, only for fellow teammates to guess from. After the 30 seconds, the teams switch. The teams go back and forth until all of the items have been guessed.

Through out each round the same batch of words are used, so the players must try to remember the words as they continue through each round.

Guess my Identity (Michaela Ripplinger)

Each player sits in a circle and writes a person’s name (alive or dead, real or fictional) on a post-it note and puts it on another person’s forehead with out that person seeing the identity on the post-it note. Then the players have to ask yes or no questions to try to discover their own identity. If the answer is no, then the player stops asking questions and the next person has a turn. Play until everyone has guessed their identity.

These games are good fun. Any others out there?

Greek Independence Day

March 25th, 2008

Today is Greek Independence Day, celebrating Greece’s independence from the Ottoman Empire which they fought for during Greek Revolution from 1821-1829.

On the main streets of Parikia, Paros’ main port town, kids were dressed up in tradional Greek garb, school uniforms, and karate outfits, strangely enough. I learned that the flag bearer in each group is the top student of their class. As each group passed by, the other groups cheered and clapped for them. The high winds made it tricky for a lot of the women in skirts, but they sure made the Greek flags flap nicely.



March 20th, 2008

Last summer I received an atomic bomb of an email in my inbox. It was from Jane Pack, my painting teacher at the Aegean Center for Fine Arts in Paros, Greece. The Aegean Center is where I learned all the core fundamentals in my painting, and gave me the confidence to pursue a life making art. To put it simply, it changed my life in a big way.

Jane wrote to invite me to teach for her through out the spring semester, 2008. Atomic bomb. I was so bewildered and taken aback by the proposal that I kept it a secret for a long time from even friends and family. Didn’t want to jinx it.

I’m teaching painting, drawing and figure drawing at the Aegean Center now. I’m having a fantastic time, and I’m learning a lot. The students are great and it’s really humbling to be working alongside all of my former professors. I’m still in a state of shock to be honest.

So, for kicks, here’s a sampling of one of the hand outs I gave to my painting students. It’s a little step-by-step approach to painting in the earth palette.

I’m back baby!

March 18th, 2008

And I’m in Greece!

Olive trees and Cherry Blossoms, how do you like them apples?!

Design Festa!

August 8th, 2007

Here’s a comic I did for Tokyo Art Beat titled “Looking Back at Design Festa 2007″

Here’s a larger, easier-to-read version (click on the detail on the left to enlarge)
There’s also a Japanese version.

Today in Japanese class

June 20th, 2007

One of my classmates, Xiong from Beijing, was scolded for drinking Chu-hi in class. Chu-hi is a popular alcoholic drink often used for cocktails. It was 9:03am. Judging from her size I’m guessing she already a pretty good buzz on.