Monday, August 29, 2005

Comment Spam

Well, I too have been hit with comment spam. Comments such as "Hey great blog you have there. You might be interested in (insert worthless product here). Check it out!"

All bubbly and upbeat and blatant advertisements. I changed my blog so that only Blogger members could leave comments, but that didn't stop it; many had phony or not so phony accounts set up and who knows, maybe the spammers are using someone's legitimate account, much the same way they use valid email accounts to spread their garbage.

So I sent an email to Blogger complaining and copied the account info of some of the offending Blogger accounts. This morning I noticed that Blogger has a "Show word verification for comments" radio button now. I swear it wasn't there yesterday. I hate these things but I hate being the vehicle for these damn spammers even more. So now you'll get a gif with a warped set of letters to copy into a box before you can leave a comment. Sorry, I really am sorry; I didn't waqnt to do this but "the spammers made me do it!" I realize this will probably cut down on the number of comments I get, but so be it. I am not going to spread the spammers word for them and also increase thier Google rank. Think of it, every page they get their damn link on will increase their rankings.

Monday, August 22, 2005


Click here to see the video

Here's the finished version of the movie I was the the DP of in NYC. This is the finished version (I posted an animation clip from it earlier)

This is a promotional film for the publishing services company that I work for. It will be shown to potential customers to show them what we can do. We shot this over a ten day period in June, with another very short piece shot in Mexico this month. It's seven and a half minutes long; kind of long for a videoblog, but I'm very happy with it so I wanted to share it.

It was written by Steve Zimmerman and Gerard Damiano, directed and edited by Gerard Damiano. Animation is by Ruth Schwartz. Photography Jack Nelson, Art Direction Mark Goodkin,lighting Chris Dixon, sound Steve Kashuck, sound engineering by Ken Takeuchi.

PDQ boardroom: Joel Farrel, Michael Cyril Creighton, Liz Forst, Susan Horowitz, Damion Dacosta, Leslie Cloninger

Everyworker: Steve Cuttler

As Herself: Belen Cookinham

The jefes: June Schwartz, Liz Villela, Steve Zimmerman

Booklinks staff: Angie Castro, Janeth Patarroyo, Steven Vasquez, Tassiana Larouchelle, Alejandra Gritsipis, Marty Fluger, Sean Riley, Elena Lee, Mark Shoffner, Humberto Schettino, Zeke Zimmerman

Quality Control: Jennifer Novak, Noah Zimmerman

Booklinks Mexico Office: Jack Nelson, Mariachi Azteca

"Mordisquitos!": Lyrics by Belen Cookinham, music by Matt Kaplowitz

"By Now": written and performed by Steve Cuttler


Click here to see the video

Xochimilco is home to the last of the chinampas or "floating gardens". The Axtecs used the chinampas to raise the food that was needed for their capital city of Tenochtitlan. They were originaly artificial islands that were anchored to the lake bottom and didn't really float. The canals that weve amoung them are all that's left of the large lake that once filled the Valley of Mexico.

The chinampas are still used for agriculture, mostly the growing of flowers (Xochimilco is Aztec for "place of the flowers"). It's a very popular site for families on weekends. You rent a boat and travel through the canals where you can buy a meal, drinks, jewelry, etc. Meanwhile mariachis, marimbas and other bands travel up and down the canals and for a fee they will tie up to your boat and play for you. There are greenhouses to visit and a large market to visit, or you can just float along on the canals and soak up the sun.

Oh, by the way, we happened by chance to get a boat named "Viva Rocio" and my wife's name is Rocio.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Torre Latinoamericano 360°

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Another short clip from our vacation. The Torre Latinoamericano was the tallest building in Mexico City when it was built.It much higher than any other building near it, so you get a great view of the valley from the observation deck on the 42nd floor.

Music is Al Jolson singing "I'm Sitting On Top of the World"

Friday, August 12, 2005

Cielito Lindo

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This is another outake from the promotional film I worked on for the publishing services company I work for called Booklinks. They needed some comic relief and I was elected (thanks Cory). In this scene they are featuring the Mexican office which I manage. A document has been sent to us and I am translating it into Spanish. Behind me all sorts of wierd things go on, one of which is a visit by a mariachi band. Here the Mariachi Azteca plays Cielito Lindo while I (almost) ignore them. Hang in there until the second chorus. Sing along if you like. Enjoy

Here are the words:

Aye, aye, aye, aye
Cantar no llores
Porque? Cantando se alegra,
Cielito lindo,
Los corazones


Aye, aye, aye, aye,
Sing, don't cry
Why? Because singing makes the heart happy,
Pretty sky

Sunday, August 07, 2005


Click here to see the video

UNAM is the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. It's the oldest university in the Americas (founded 1551) and the largest in Latin America (290,000 students if you include all of it's campuses). The main campus is the Ciudad Universitaria (University City) which is in the southern part of Mexico City, and it is enormous. It was built in the 1950's and has some spectacular buildings.

My daughter Helena wants to go there, so as part of our trip we visited the campus. The first building you see is the ten story high central library. It's covered in a mural designed by Juan O'Gorman. The other large building with huge sculptures is the administration building. The long sculpture that you see attached to the administration building (the one in the thumbnail) is by David Siquieros. There are also shots of the sculpture garden in front of the MUCA (Museo de Ciencias y Artes).

Cafe Tacuba

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We pretty much did our vacation on the cheap: we took the overnight bus to Mexico City, stayed in a fairly cheap hotel and ate mostly in economical places.

I wanted to take the family to one special place to eat, so we went to Cafe Tacuba, a very nice, very pretty restaurant on Tacuba a few blocks west of the zocalo. There was an estudiantina playing there the day we went. Estudiantinas are string bands, with guitars, bass, mandolins and only a tamborine for rhythym and they are a Spanish tradition. They would pay their way through university by playing music. In this clip they are playing a very romantic Mexican song called "Besame Mucho" (Kiss Me a Lot). That's my family at the table (in order of appearance, my daughters Angie and Helena and my wife Rocio. Note the colonial architecture and the colonial style paintings. Oh yeah, the food is great too.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


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I didn't have enough footage to make a story, but I'm posting it anyway.

The zocalo is the central square of Mexico City. It stands where the center of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec city stood. The Spaniards tore down the Aztec temples and put up the cathedral and government buildings.

The first clip is a pan of the zocalo in the early evening. In the background you can hear drums beating. These are the Aztec dancers that are there day and night, every day. The second clip is of a troupe of Aztec dancers.

Video iPod friendly file.

Looking for the "Real" Mexico, Volume 2

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While we were in Mexico City we went to a few markets. Tenochtitlan was the biggest market in the new world before the Spaniards conquered it and created Mexico City. It is still a huge marketplace. There are illegal street vendors everywhere and then more legal markets like the one in this video which starts directly behind the Palacio National and goes on for blocks. We also went to Tepito, famous for cheap goods, knockoffs, stolen merchandise, pickpockets and the occasional mugging. We spent a few hours there and had no problems with pickpockets or muggings. What I say in the video is mostly true: Mexicans come to Mexico City to shop, whether at the high end toney stores like Liverpool or at Tepito. If you can't get it here, you can't get it in Mexico.

Video iPod friendly file.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Looking for the "Real" Mexico, Volume 1

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So we just got back from a short vacation trip to Mexico City (we live in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas). Here's the first of three short video blog pieces about looking for the real Mexico.

Video iPod friendly file.