Thursday, January 27, 2011


Wanda was born in Queretaro, Mexico, on Mother's Day, in the year 2000. The only place she would sleep, the first night she was in our house, was under my bed, curled up next to the foot of it. We figured it was because she missed sleeping with the rest of the litter, but she slept next to table legs and corners her whole life.

Her life was simple. When she was in Mexico she would roll around in the grass, dig massive holes in the yard chasing squirrels, mice and the occasional possum. She ate the fruit that fell off the trees. Eventually she learned to peel pecans, leaving the nut entirely intact.

In Colorado she would stroll around the house. She learned to walk up our unnaturally steep steps and steps in general (we don't have stairs in our house in Mexico). She learned about snow, and we learned that she understood very little English – she was a Mexican dog, after all. At night she would patrol the house, long after everyone went to sleep. She climbed the stairs, listen at our doors to make sure everyone was safe, and moved down to my parents' room to finish the rounds.

Wanda never had puppies, but one Christmas our family friends bought her a stuffed porcupine, roughly the size of a potato. "Puercoespín," is the Spanish word for porcupine, so we named it Pín. Pín was her baby, or as close as she ever got, really. She would clean him, carry him everywhere and even get defensive when we would squeeze him and he would squeak."Dónde está Pín?" (Where is Pín?) was a question she knew well, and answered promptly by showing you her best friend. Pín was lost and found more times than I want to remember, but the house would be in a state of emergency until we found him.

This past year Wanda developed a large tumor on the outside wall of her stomach and on her bladder, she had it removed but the biopsy revealed a large cluster of cancer cells, too many for her to fight off. Slowly, as a result of her failing organs, her eyesight began to go, along with her hearing and sense of smell. She developed more tumors, arthritis, and lost a lot of weight. She was in a lot of pain so, yesterday, January 26th, Wanda was put to sleep and all of our hearts were broken. She's buried underneath the avocado tree, wrapped in her blanket, with Pín by her side.

'Bye Wanda, I bet there's plenty of grass to run through, wherever you are.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Chris Milk is...

one of my greatest inspirations when it comes to visual media. He used to be known to a select group o people for work he submitted to festivals and some other experimental media, but now Chris Milk is a household name. He's made music videos for Audioslave's "Doesn't Remind Me" and The Chemical Brothers' "The Golden Path" and he's done commercial work for Nike. Lately, he's done The Johnny Cash Project and The Wilderness Outside, which  are two very ambitious and successful media experiments.

The Johnny Cash Project is an interactive project in the prospect of making a music video. Since Cash is no longer living, there was no way to represent him in video, so Milk set up a website dedicated to the crafting of the video. Do you remember Facebook's "graffiti" application? Where you drew on your friend's walls using your mouse, a variety of opacities, and brush sizes? The Johnny Cash Project was something along the lines of that, allowing its users to pick a frame of the video and represent it through drawing. I'll admit, I made mine while I should have been writing a paper, but (WORTH IT!) it was selected for the finished product (it's frame 1109).

So an interactive music video? That's new. And awesome. Well, Milk knew all of this and his latest project, "The Wilderness Downtown" uses all the capabilities of Google Chrome and HTML5 to showcase what the internet is capable of and how new media, and better yet, artists that use new media, can use the information superhighway to their advantage. If you don't have Chrome, get it. Even if it's just to check out the coolest music video since sliced bread.  Here's the preview:

Arcade Fire - The Wilderness Downtown from Chris Milk on Vimeo.

The Johnny Cash Project started in 2009, but in 2010 (this past semester, to be accurate), my Visual Issues class was assigned a group project in which we had to deconstruct visual media in one collective paper. My team chose a music video, but not just any music video, Chris Milk's collaboration with Audioslave for "It Doesn't Remind Me."

Audioslave - Doesn't Remind Me from Chris Milk on Vimeo.

Chris Milk overload, you say? Well, yeah, but looking for new ways of doing things is half the battle.
And the whole point of this post, titled "Chris Milk is..." is to say Chris Milk is
- an inspiration.
- a new media genius.
- an artist
and best of all...
- fucking badass.

Also. I'll give out a prize to the first person that can name (in the comments) the other Chris Milk video that I've used in a previous post on this blog. The name of the vid, and the name of the post.
Seriously. I'll give you a prize. Ready? GO.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Adventure Trek: Colorado

I didn't actually realize what kind of activities I was getting myself into when I signed on to spend New Year's at the Zapata ranch. "Dress for the cold," was the only hint that my brother gave me as we were headed out over the Sangre de Cristo mountains (our mountains) towards the San Luis Valley. We made it to the ranch after a bit of a white-out coming over the mountain pass, a fair amount of road trip snacks and New Year's Eve came and went faster than you can say, "it's 15 below zero, what the hell are we doing outside?!" So, consequently, the first day of the year was quiet and uneventful.

On the third day we fed the buffalo. Yes. The buffalo. That is correct.

Here's what we were driving:

Yes, I've numbered areas to make the description simpler. Don't judge.
1. The bed of the truck is where the team (Alfi, Deanna, Pat and Maggie) road for the adventure trek.
    They made the call (a Pavlov's dogs style of shenanigans) to make the buffalo realize they were
    gonna get fed. (Nothing complicated, more like a steady "Ooooooooo" sound.)
2. That is where the food (a.k.a "cake") came out of. The cake is a sort of cerealy super-good-for-them  
    grain, and it was our task to deliver it.
3. That's my seat. In the cab. Prime photo-taking spot.

Check out what came of it:

Duke Phillips IV