Space Shuttle narrated by William Shatner

Andrei Tarkovsky

A Brief History of Time

Andrei Tarkovsky: A Poet in the Cinema

Steven Soderbergh's Silent, Black & White Raiders of the Lost Ark

From No Film School:
So I want you to watch this movie and think only about staging, how the shots are built and laid out, what the rules of movement are, what the cutting patterns are. See if you can reproduce the thought process that resulted in these choices by asking yourself: why was each shot—whether short or long—held for that exact length of time and placed in that order? Sounds like fun, right? It actually is. To me. Oh, and I’ve removed all sound and color from the film, apart from a score designed to aid you in your quest to just study the visual staging aspect. Wait, WHAT? HOW COULD YOU DO THIS? Well, I’m not saying I’m like, ALLOWED to do this, I’m just saying this is what I do when I try to learn about staging, and this filmmaker forgot more about staging by the time he made his first feature than I know to this day (for example, no matter how fast the cuts come, you always know exactly where you are—that’s high level visual math shit).

See it here. 

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Paul Steinhardt on Richard Feynman

Rejecting Neorealism: Fellini and Antonioni

Speculative Everything - Anthony Dunne at Resonate 2013


Eyes of Hitchcock



Our first okra of the year:

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Squeal BBQ

Lunch yesterday:

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Behind Closed Doors with Jonathan Lynn

Spacesuit Development and Qualification for Project Gemini

John Newcomb and the Viking Project

Space Station Crew Member Discusses the Future with Former President Clinton

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Creative Spark: Eric Roth

Supreme Blue Rose

Warren Ellis and Tula Lotay's Supreme Blue Rose is the kind of comic that makes my head hurt in a good way:

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Kurt Vonnegut on the Shapes of Stories

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Meet The Astronauts

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An American Adventure: The Rocket Pilots + Reach for the Skies

Leonard Susskind on The World As Hologram

Brian Greene - The Hidden Reality

Elia Kazan, Outsider (1982)


The multiverse as a block of Swiss cheese, strings and things, branes and the brain


Elia Kazan on Directors

The fact is that a director from the moment a phone call gets him out of bed in the morning—“Rain today. What scene do you want to shoot?”—until he escapes into the dark at the end of shooting to face, alone, the next days problems, is called upon to answer an unrelenting string of questions, to make decision after decision in one after another of the fields…That’s what a director is, the man with the answers.

- Elia Kazan

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Elia Kazan - Interview (1962)

Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity: A Look Back

Academy Conversations: The Drop

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Alfred Hitchcock discusses North by Northwest

Alfred Hitchcock - Interview (1956)

The Overview Effect


National Theatre: playwright Rona Munro on The James Plays

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Polly Stenham on playwriting


Hamlet - Roberta Taylor and Peter Guinness

An Interview with Hamlet designer Tom Piper

Hamlet - Dominic Hill

Playwright Samuel D. Hunter, 2014 MacArthur Fellow

Poet Terrance Hayes, 2014 MacArthur Fellow


Warren Ellis on Black & White Comics

From his Orbital Operations email newsletter which you should be getting and reading every week:

And it'd have to be black-and-white. Black-and-white is part of the grammar of large rambling graphic novels, in my head - FROM HELL, CEREBUS, THE LAST KINGDOM, add your own here. Also, it's the grammar of literary graphic novels -- MAUS, PERSEPOLIS, etc etc. So I could fool myself, as all pulp writers who finally give up on plot and just drop their bowels in public do, that I am being all literary and clever. Black-and-white always had the mad things in. Now that I reflect on it, I think most of my fondest memories of comics come from b/w books: 2000AD, WARRIOR, LUTHER ARKWRIGHT, ESCAPE, the undergrounds, the independents, the early Anglophone graphic novels...

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In Focus: Sound

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Ask a Director: Lone Scherfig | BFI

Cartoonist and Graphic Memoirist Alison Bechdel, 2014 MacArthur Fellow

Tac au Tac


Inkstuds w/ Brandon Graham


Swift 10 Mins on Shakespeare Plays

Vanessa Redgrave on Antony and Cleopatra


Professor Sir Christopher Ricks: Shakespeare's Measure for Measure

Vanessa Redgrave on King Lear

Conversations with David Hayman and Dominic Hill - King Lear

Astronauts Part 5: Astronaut Collins

An Evening With Two Mercury Astronauts

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An Evening with the Apollo 8 Astronauts (Annual John H. Glenn Lecture Series)

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Michael A. Ross and The Great NOLA Kidnapping Case

Richard Linklater on the Making of "Boyhood"


Peter Strickland: Screenwriting and Directing Mini Masterclass

Writer/Director Scott Frank on common mistakes in screenplays

Creative Spark: Theodore Shapiro

James Wong Howe: Cinematographer

From Borehamwood to Hollywood: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Elstree - Excerpt


Proof of Life 9.14.14

- Yes I am still alive. No much social time on this job. Not much love of social media or music. oh well. I will try and catch up at night and on the weekend. Posts ready to go through Thursday. Space program, Shakespeare, and movies.

- I finished The Silkworm this weekend. I am going to miss Cormoran Strike until the next book.

- Started reading A Man on the moon by Andrew Chaikan. Also, picked up a copy of The Astronaut Wives' Club. Going to get deep into books about Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo.

- I still need to finish my re-read of The Making of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

- I also have a copy of King Lear I need to read.

- We picked up the new Counting Crows album. Of course there are songs on there on my continued repeat. i could direct the hell out of a video for the song Possibility Days.

- We take our selves way too serious in my business. There is always a lot of money going into any production. A microbudget production generally costs well more than what I make in a year. People are usually shocked when I say a low budget film is under $20 million dollars (and really, you could raise that bar some). We spend a lot of time working on films and tv shows. And since it is an art, there is always the pressure to make something perfect and great. In the end though, we are making entertainment. That is what this is. Sure, we hope sometimes that it will inspire people or make a change in the world (I know I hope our show, along with Christopher Nolan's Interstellar, makes people begin to look up again and return to being explorers). This is entertainment. And it should be fun. And it should be treated as a career, not just a job.

- Finished the first run of Jason Aaron and Jason Latour's Southern Bastards. Great crime story. Started on Brubaker and Phillips' The Fade Out. L.A. Noir. I love comics.


Errol Morris's Oscar Short Film: 2002 Oscars

Interview with Jacques Tati (1977)

Moon Shot (PBS 1994)

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40th Anniversary of Apollo 13 - Annual John H. Glenn Lecture

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Friendship 7


Movies in 2014

1. The Hot Rock
2. The Valley Of Gwangi
3. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
4. To Have And Have Not
5. The Third Man
6. Below
7. It Happened One Night
8. State And Main
9. Furious 6
10. Vengeance
11. Running Scared (1986)
12. G.I. Joe: Retaliation
13. The Thing From Another World
14. Matilda
15. The Shaolin Temple
16. The Avengers
17. The Raid
18. In The Heat Of The Night
19. Dillinger
20. The Mission (Johnnie To Film)
21. Odds Against Tomorrow
22. Outrage
23. My Name Is Nobody
24. The Wolverine
25. Fulltime Killer
26. Muppets From Space
27. The Man With The Iron Fists
28. Mad Detective
29. Batman Returns
30. Riddick
31. The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
32. Captain Phillips
33. The Lego Movie
34. Now You See Me
35. Bull Durham
36. Nebraska
37. Big Trouble In Little China
38. Death Rides A Horse
39. Zero Effect
40. The Mercenary
41. A Fistful Of Dollars
42. World War Z
43. Batman
44. Monte Walsh (1970)
45. Ride The High Country
46. The 13th Warrior
47. Nothing Left To Fear
48. Raiders of the Lost Ark
49. Much Ado About Nothing (2012)
50. The Ballad of Cable Hogue
51. Mud
52. Stagecoach
53. Kill Bill Vol. 2
54. Iron Man Three
55. Dallas Buyers Club
56. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
57. Looking for Richard
58. Fort Apache
59. Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2
60. 12 Years A Slave
61. Dead Man
62. Macbeth (Welles)
63. Dragonslayer
64. Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine
65. Pacific Rim
66. American Hustle
67. About Time
68. The Searchers
69. Labor Day
70. Solomon Kane
71. How To Train Your Dragon 2
72. R.I.P.D.
73. Pain And Gain
74. The Wolf Man
75. Frankenstein (1931)
76. All Monsters Attack aka Godzilla's Revenge
77. Joint Security Area
78. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
79. Terror of MechaGodzilla
80. From Russia With Love
81. Goldfinger
82. Thunderball
83. You Only Live Twice
84. The Bride of Frankenstein
85. Son of Frankenstein
86. The Mummy
87. The Ghost of Frankenstein
88. House of Frankenstein
89. Hulk
90. Guardians of the Galaxy
91. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
92. The World's End
93. The Thin Man
94. His Girl Friday
95. Miami Vice
96. The Mummy

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Just the begining

I may just be a glorified secretary on this one, but I love the subject matter:

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The Fade Out & Southern Bastards

Brubaker. Phillips. Aaron. Latour.

L.A. Noir & Southern Crime.


2030: Privacy's Dead. What happens next?

Books in 2014

1. A Dance At The Slaughterhouse
2. A Walk Among The Tombstones
3. The Devil Knows You're Dead
4. Bandits
5. Slam The Big Door
6. The Red Pony
7. Callaghen
8. Dirty White Boys
9. Galveston
10. Serena
11. The Silkworm

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Legacy of Gemini

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50th Anniversary of Mercury Orbital Flight

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Friendship 7 50th Anniversary

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Ann Thompson on Hamlet

Alan Furst: Writing Spy Novels

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Noir Infrastructure: A Lynchian Air

Shakespeare and the Roman Regime


Robert Lowell Memorial Lecture: Seamus Heaney


Inaugural Arden Shakespeare Lecture by René Weis

Mary Maher, Actors Talk About Shakespeare

Shakespeare's Roman Trilogy - Philippa Kelly and Hugh Richmond



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Tom Hiddleston on the language of Shakespeare

From the AV Club:

AVC: So much of Shakespeare is about analyzing the verse, about understanding the subtleties of the language. When you sit down as an actor and start looking at one of his plays, how do you approach that question?

TH: I think it’s really about trying to communicate the power of the writing to the audience in the most vivid and accessible way. Like most rhetoric, if you own the images, if you own the language, if you own what you’re saying, it will always be expressed. It will always be understood by your audience. So it’s really just enjoying the relationship that you instinctively have with the verse. I feel it’s a very instinctive approach, and images always pop up in my head. I suppose the unconscious thing that’s happening is when I’m speaking the verse I’m seeing the image myself. I’m working on Coriolanus at the moment, and there are some moments in that where he refers to the enemy, Aufidius, he says, “He is a lion that I am proud to hunt.” It’s a very easy thing to see, but whenever I say the word I see the lion. And what an extraordinary thing to say about your opposite number. Or he’s before the gates of battle, he says, “Now put your shields before your hearts, and fight with hearts more proof than shields.” You’re like, [Exhales.] “I’d follow you into battle.” 
I think the writing is just so visceral. In the Henry plays, for example, I find it very inspiring. Henry V is presented with an army who are outnumbered 10-to-1 to the French and they’re dispirited, tired, and dying of dysentery. They are unquestionably going to lose. They are the underdogs. And he appeals to something ancient called honor. And he says,
“By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honor,
I am the most offending soul alive.”
It makes me want to pick up a sword and fight for him. 
“God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honor
As one man more, methinks, would share from me
For the best hope I have.”
And I don’t really know how I process the lines, which apart from the fact that it lifts me up and into it in a way.
“Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.”
It’s like, “You’re either in it to win it, or you’re out. I’m giving you a chance to leave, now.” In terms of my relationship with the verse, it’s very hard to articulate quite how I work with it apart from that I get very excited about it and it draws me toward it. The rhythm of it, the language of it, and I think he’s such an instinctively compassionate and intelligent writer that quite often the language of the character tells you everything you need to know about what that character is thinking and feeling at that moment. 
In Henry V, I think the things that he says in certain moments surprise Henry V himself. There, sieging the French castle of Harfleur, he sees his entire army running away. They’ve made a breach in the wall. They’re running away, and he says, “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.” Because it’s such a famous line, it’s become quoted out of context, but when you think of it, it’s actually him saying, “No, one more time. Let’s try and make a break through this castle wall one more time.” “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. Or close the wall up with our English dead.” It’s like we either go through, or we’ll close the wall back up with dead bodies. And then makes this extraordinary thing, 
“In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;”
Those images are just like, “It’s all well and good in peacetime [to] be humble, be still, be gentle, but when it’s wartime unleash the beast.” I mean, Survivor wrote a rock song about it, “Eye Of The Tiger.” It’s the same image. It’s the same stuff. 
“Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage

Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On!”

Al Pacino tried to do it better in Any Given Sunday, but it’s the best locker-room speech in the history of dramatic literature. So yeah, that’s how I approach the verses. I find it amazingly inspiring and contemporary.

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Breaking In To Television Producing - from the Disrupted Landscape of TV

Full Panel:

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What Is Composition?

The Making of 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'




Making Magic

Can You Tell Us A Richard Feynman Story?

Jean-Luc Godard delivers a monologue from Hannah Arendt's "The Nature of Totalitarianism."

Martin Scorsese on the Films of Roberto Rossellini


Casey's Snowballs

New sign. Still my favorite.

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My notebook this week

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Press Play VIDEO ESSAY: In Memory of Richard Attenborough (1923-2014)

Edgar Wright: Close-Up

Jan Harlan Discusses The Shining

Hollywood: A Celebration of American Silent Film

Eric Heisserer On Subtext in Screenplays

From his twitter:

- All right, diving in: The demon in the room I want to talk about today is subtext. Subtext makes me suffer so. Oh, the suffering

- Because its delicious presence in a script is the mark of good writing, and its inverse is the sign of bad writing. But there's a catch.

- Playwrights tend to rock subtext, because they have to. The dialogue has to convey more than face value because that's all there is.

- Consequently, people in the theater world pay close attention to the writing. They look at the words carefully. You can dine on Shakespeare.

- But in film and TV subtext can also exist in imagery. You want every shot to be suggestive of something more than what's merely right there.

- And you need to, to attract talented directors and actors. They know quality, they've done theater, they CRAVE subtext.

- And of course, writing it is incredibly hard! Let's not overlook that, shall we? It's alchemy. It's like crafting a really great joke.

- In subtext, everyone builds the punchline in their heads without you telling it. Without subtext, you're explaining the joke to them.

- There are plenty of avenues to subtext, of course. And as script writers we have dialogue, narrative description, wrylies, etc. to play in.

- One Oscar-nominated writer likes to use dialogue in her narrative for it--
DAVID gestures at them, "I'm fine, whatever."

- And just on this tangent, what I like about that option is that we get the meaning of the gesture without telling the actor what to do

- But okay, here's where it gets even WORSE for us as writers. Because guess what, we're making a transitory document. Which means...

- People need to grasp the subtext in a scene or else it will turn out crap.

- And by "people" I mean everyone between you and the finished film/episode/whatever. And here's how that gets tricky:

- Your DIRECTOR and your ACTORS will want as much subtext as possible, because it gives them room to do THEIR jobs well (if they're good).

- The people who get the script BEFORE them tend to fear subtext because they can't be sure how it will land on the screen. So... notes.

- Holy buckets, the notes you will get about limiting, destroying, removing, reducing, and nuking subtext. Oh man.

- 1. "You know, I think you need to put a finer point on what she's saying in this scene..."

- 2. "What is she really saying here? I get that, yeah, but can you make that idea louder?"

- 3. "Just put the words in his mouth; just so the audience knows what he's feeling."

- From strange to awkwardly porny, there are a hundred different ways execs will tell you to kill subtext.

- They are sometimes right to do that! Not often, in my experience, but sometimes. Because finding the right balance in the writing is HARD.

- So, what do we do? Seriously, I'm asking. Why do you think I'm drinking on a Sunday? Well, yes, because it's Sunday but yeah.

- Here's what I've discovered on this terrible path of writing layered content with subtext, and you can use what works for you...

- There is the option of simply "kicking the ball downfield" -- writing essentially "this is how we feel when we see this scene play out."

- That spawns description like: "This is the most heartbreaking moment of her life, and we're all in tears at the end of it."

- BAH TO THAT, I SAY. That is my mouth writing checks. That's me saying, "Fuck it, this isn't my job, it's someone else's, I'm outtie."

- We have a responsibility as writers to know what the characters are feeling AND how they both hide and express it in the same moment.

- Not down to the tiniest gesture (because again we're invading the domain of the actor usually) but it has to have more going on than "Here!"

- So the demon I wrestle with is: How much do I need to say on the page that lets the fearful types know the director/actor will rock it?

- This is where the iterative process can actually help a writer.

- There's an episode of The Simpsons where Homer starts to take a bite of Maggie's BD cake, but Marge has made a spare for him to mess up.

- We sometimes have to do that as writers: Build a draft where all the emotions are signposts, and people talk like NOBODY TALKS IN REAL LIFE.

- And then later, before going out to talent, we offer the artful draft full of subtext, the one that will land capable voices.

- Of course to pull this off you need conspirators in the machine. You need a clever producer or junior somewhere.

- Outside of that option, the only one I've made work part of the time is by building a script with subtextual shorthand, for lack of better.

- In that, I preserve the dialogue best I can where all the subtext lives, but I "explain the punchline" in the narrative immediately after.

- This helps a lot since actors are primarily focused on dialogue. Especially those trained from theater. (And those are the ones you want.)

- TANGENT: You do not want an actor whom you often hear "cuts well together." That's not a marathon runner, there.

- By that I mean someone whose performance must be assembled by your Dr Frankenstein editor from a large volume of takes/shots.

- Subtext works really damn well when it's this sandbox you build for the people taking the script from you to produce the thing.

- And! Oh! Sometimes you can paint subtext in negative space. By that I mean, write to what the scene isn't.

- Or you can make bold the juxtaposition of what's being said and what is being felt or meant on the page.

- Like:

(please stay)
Just get out. Go.

- This kind of dynamic isn't easily swatted by rushed execs trying to understand the purpose of a scene. Usually.

- Point is: We have a lofty goal here of trying to deliver something that works on at least two levels. You know?

- In our writing, what our characters say is not the truth, but it's a map to the truth.

- When people actually say what they feel, it makes them terribly vulnerable. And vulnerability is nearly extinct thanks to the Internet

- So, my gorgeous monsters, let's keep finding and sharing clever ways to deliver subtext in our stories. That shit is tough, man.

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CFA Master Class: Lawrence Block

Maxim Jakubowski on Donald Westlake

Donald Westlake Interview

Lawrence Block on Donald Westlake

Donald Westlake Interview


Harold Pinter on Samuel Beckett

Panel Discussion: 'Shakespeare - Our Contemporary?'


Peter Brook talks with Charlie Rose

Jan Kott - Is Shakespeare Still Our Contemporary?

The Astronaut Wives Club - CBS News


Maya Angelou talks Shakespeare

Cornel West: 'Hamlet' as Anti-War Play

Cornel West on Hamlet, Love, and Hell

Stephen J. Greenblatt - Shakespeare's Life Stories

Shakespeare's Montaigne


Shakespeare: From Page to Stage with Jane Smiley

Ralph Williams on Shakespeare

National Theatre Live: Hamlet Soliloquy

Poems That Make Grown Men Cry


Shakespeare at the National Theatre

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Proof of Life

Going to try and do this on at least a weekly basis. I am sure it will fail spectacularly. Pretty much back to the beginning of blogging with these posts. Hopefully, every Sunday morning I will do one of these as just a where I am and what I am doing update.

Currently reading The Silkworm and The Making of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I haven't watched much of anything lately movie wise. I was mainlining Leverage before going back to work. The monkey and I are working through my Smallville DVD sets since he found those. We are currently on season 2. And, last night I watched an episode of Columbo because there is this great pull for me for those classic seventies detective shows.

I started work on The Astronaut Wives Club this week. The monkey is very happy since he listened to the book on WRBH. He says he can help with the scripts and episodes. So happy to finally have work again, and to have work for a nice long time. Six months at my real rate. That relieves a lot of pressure, plus it is a show with content that I am excited for. Of course I started it on Monday, and also had a lovely head cold to go with it.

Still writing on Rougarou. I need to finish the draft I am on so I can start all over and make the changes I see need to be made. Started a thing I am calling Vice for now. Also, want to jump back into writing my P.I. stories. And parts of Gangsta Sunday keep bubbling up into my mind (need to do some writing in that notebook today).

I also want to write a thing on Akira Kurosawa and Shakespeare. I started making an Amazon list for it yesterday. I am nothing if not overly ambitious in the time I have to read and write and watch films.

You should go subscribe to Warren Ellis' Orbital Operations newsletter since it is much better than this. Also read his Morning Computer.

Still hot here in New Orleans. It will stay that way for awhile. I need to get into the French Quarter to walk around and feel the history everywhere.

I really want to start doing a podcast, but it is hard for me to pick one topic and a name. If I had gone to Canton, MS or Greenwood, MS for work it would have been about those areas. Since I am here, not sure what it will be about. Still thinking on it and making notes.

Now to go drink some coffee and listen to Teddy Pendergass' Life Is A Song Worth Singing while looking up more info.

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Cory Doctorow discusses Media Literacy

Harold Ramis On Media Literacy Vs. Delivering A Story For An Audience

William Friedkin on Buster Keaton's THE GENERAL

The General

His Girl Friday