3/6/10

Moving, Pictures

After the most unceremonious blog outage in personal history, I return with a batch of Holga pictures and a new link for you:

http://colindullaghan.com/blog/

That's where you'll find my posts from now on, since I've decided to switch to a WordPress blog with more features and fanciness.

Here I feel inclined to rhapsodize about all the good times On Like Popcorn and I have shared, going back some five years, even. But there's no need. All those old posts are right there at the new address, down to the last inconsequential comma. All your comments are intact and everything.

So it's all the same, really, except that I hope to start updating more often again, and I also hope if you were kind or amused enough to bookmark this site in the first place that you'll now take a moment to bookmark the new site as well.

I promise to try and have something interesting to say somewhat regularly. See you over there.

To sign off, here's one last batch of Holga pictures - all taken during our vacation to Beaufort, South Carolina a few weeks ago. (They'll also be at colindullaghan.com, naturally.)

Enjoy.

1/6/10

The Holga, She Still Goelga

From time to time now I seem to end up with a mysterious line through the center of my pictures, but considering I've now taken dozens of rolls of film with what basically amounts to a plastic toy, it's kind of amazing that the darned thing works at all.

In fact I'm a little surprised it hasn't just disintegrated into little shards of hipster optic detritus. I'm still really liking shooting with the Holga, though. I hope you're similarly enjoying the results.

12/31/09

My Top (Okay, Only) 5 of 2009

I'll admit it: We don't get out much. You see, we had this daughter back in February, and that more or less monopolized our 2009 to the exclusion of much in the way of media and entertainment.

(I understand there's a big fuss about vampires, provided they're young and attractive, and also Kanye West had a breach of etiquette of some kind, and apparently Tiger Woods ran into some marital difficulties.)

But we did still manage to eke out a few movie nights and music purchases this year - just enough to scrape together a Top 5 list for each. And, tell you what, just because it's 2009 and everything, at least for a few more hours, I'll list our top 5 items in a category that was new to a lot of us this year, and hopefully not too irritating yet: iPhone "Apps."

Oh, but you'll have to look past the fact that most of our films and albums weren't technically released this year. In fact, a few are downright crusty and aged. But we still *saw* or *listened to* them during the last twelve months, so I say it still counts.

Feel free to comment on any you liked as well, or just to tell me I have terrible taste.

I know, I know.


Movies

1. Fantastic Mr. Fox
I have a hard time seeing how you could not love this movie. Every frame is a painting, and every scene's dialogue is at least a pretty good prose poem. Some folks who are smarter and pickier than I am said it didn't do anything for them, so maybe I'm just a sucker for George Clooney and Meryl Streep. And artful cussing, that too - using the word "cuss" instead of actual, you know, cusses.

2. Pan's Labyrinth
I just saw this a couple weeks ago, during the inaugural meeting of our local small town Indiana film club (motto: "Hey ya'll, watch this") and was pretty blown away. It's dark, and deep, and beautiful, and you can't tear your eyes off the screen - even when you want to.

3. The Proposal
Now, those first two I saw while sneaking out of the house and leaving Lope to cope with Veda. The majority of the time, friends, I'm not nearly that jerky and instead stick around and help out. Which means that any movies I see are ones that she wants to see too. Which means some of them are, ahem, "chick flicks." (She may be a dizzyingly talented artist and the famousest Dullaghan in this household by a longshot, but she's still a girl.) Anyway, this one was pretty good. Betty White... you gotta love Betty White.

4. The Proposition
Remember before, when I was saying that stuff about Lope and chick flicks? Forget it. I just remembered, while searching for The Prop...osal (similar starts, you see) that she and I got this from Netflix several months back, and it was brutal and poetic and as manly as a hank of chest hair soaked in diesel fuel. Can't say I *enjoyed* it, per se, but it is really good, and I did see it in 2009, which puts it in select company. The TV version of Sweeney Todd (Ray Winstone, not Johnny Depp) was also excellent and fits a pretty similar description. That one came on the cable box one morning while I was waiting for Veda to wake up again.

5. Groundhog Day
Oh man, Groundhog Day. You've seen it - everyone has. In fact, a host of religious leaders have acclaimed it as enlightening and spiritual. We saw it again the other night, bearing that in mind, and I'll tell you - it holds up well.


Music

1. Fantastic Mr. Fox (Original Soundtrack)
See how I never mentioned how great the music was in this movie while I was gushing over how great the, uh, movie was? That was so I could save my gushing for here. I find it amazing that these songs can add so much to the film and yet stand so well on their own. The Bobby Fuller Four song that played over the credits had me feeling so good I was ready to jump up, slap the projectionist and demand that they replay the movie all over again.

2. Elizabeth Mitchell - You Are My Little Bird (2006)
Another non-new release (my little way of guaranteeing my 2009 lists don't match anyone else's), but worthy of inclusion on just about anybody's favorite album list. Especially if you've got kids. Ol' Elizabeth (she could be 25 for all I know) has the voice of your favorite aunt, or Sunday School teacher, or just that person you overhear singing to herself in the grocery store, and you absentmindedly follow her clear through the produce and into the cereal aisle before realizing you forgot to pick up pickles or anything else. She also picks really good songs to cover, in my opinion, including numbers by Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix and, ahem, Burl Ives.

3. Explosions in the Sky - The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place (2008)
This I love because, well, because it's awesome, but also because I got it on the expert recommendation of the dude behind the counter at the world's best music store. I said I liked "electronica, but played on real instruments," and from that sub-par prompt he pulled out this. "Like Sigur Ros without words," he told me, rightly.

4. Sapient - Letterhead (2008)
Also purchased at Luna, and arguably because it was at Luna. You see, the opening track has this huge, thumping, exciting beat to it, and since I was previewing it on the record store's headphones (instead of my tinny laptop speakers), I really "got" it. The rest of the album has proved similarly thrilling, even if it's not the type of thing I ordinarily listen to anymore.

5. Bobby McFerrin - Medicine Music (1990)
That's right. That would in fact be a two-decade old album on my Best of 2009 list. But, like I said, it's new to *me,* and it was available really cheaply used, and Penny said we would like it. We did. Veda too. Rare is the day that cannot be made better by a playing of these songs.

Honorable Mentions:
Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest and
St. Vincent - Actor
Both excellent, and both recommended to me by my hippest friend (everyone should have a Ryan in their lives, but don't go trying to poach mine), but nudged out of the Top 5 because they didn't get as heavy a rotation here at the house as the others, and because they're both already on everybody else's '09 list, because they're that good.

iPhone Apps
1. Google
Ought to come with every iPhone. I hope non iPhone people (Blackberries? Droids?) can have it too, because it's why smartphones were invented, as phar as I'm concerned. Want to know something? Ask your phone. Your words will come up in the window, you'll hit the button, wait a second, and then you'll know.

2. Remote
Apple actually makes it - gives it away free, matter of fact - and if you play music from your computer through speakers (or through your house stereo via Airport, like we do), it's the ultimate party trick/actually useful service. Even shows you the album art of whatever songs you're playing, and lets you turn the volume up or down, in addition to skipping tracks at will.

3. Toy Camera
Takayuki Fukatsu makes the best, easiest way to take amazing photos with your phone. He just does. I don't know if he does anything else, like darn socks or play Reveille or anything, but he's so good at this one thing I'm fine if he doesn't.

4. Bloom
Courtesy of ambient pioneer Brian Eno and musician/software designer Peter Chilvers, This one is... uh... I'll just let the creators describe it."Part instrument, part composition and part artwork, Bloom's innovative controls allow anyone to create elaborate patterns and unique melodies by simply tapping the screen." And they're right. Also good for mesmerizing infants.

5. (tie) Pandora/Slacker
Don't like any of my Top 5 albums? Great! Just get either of these free applications, to access their free service, and hear free songs based on whatever you *do* like. A lot of which you may not have heard before. Funness ahoy.

Honorable Mention:
Kids Jokes
Ever wish your phone was a wrapper from some Laffy Taffy? Now it can be. Click the button and see the latest jokes for kids, *by* kids. They send 'em in, somehow. My favorite so far, and what earned it the mention here:
"What did the fish say when he ran into the concrete wall?"

"Dam."

Dam. Thanks for reading my list, friends, and I hope you found something worth investigating. Pretty much everything on here was something I only knew about because somebody else was nice enough to clue me in, so it's the least I could do to return the favor.

Happy New Year's.

12/25/09

Merry Christmas 2009

A little backseat holiday caroling from your little friend Veda.

Enjoy, and if I don't talk to you before New Year's, have a happy start to 2010 too.

Now it's time to get back to more merriment and food and gift-giving and food and family togetherness and food.

Merry Christmas!
video

12/18/09

Advertising May Not Be the Highest Art Form, But It's the Best-Funded

I tell people I write ads and they kind of get uncomfortable. They don't know what to say; it's like I just confessed to torturing kittens for a living. But not all ad people are smarmy hucksters, you know?

The guy who stencils casino urls on the sweaty shoulders of boxers? Not me.

The one who clutters up your commute with hideous billboards bearing messages that amount to "made you look"? Not me either.

Whoever is making beer ads full of jiggling, bikini-clad narcissists, or packaged-goods commercials featuring the stereotypical slackjawed husband and the disgusted, but brilliant wife, or all those Axe ads that demean everyone involved, on both sides of the tv screen - I claim no responsibility for any of it.

I hate all that stuff at least as much as you do. (Even more, I'd wager. But not at GoldenPalace dot com, because I hate their stupid ads.)

I've been in this business over ten years now, which feels weird to say, but it's true. And the people I've met and worked with aren't interested in hijacking your attention with some sleazy promotion. We really just want to tell our clients' stories in the most interesting and compelling way possible. To cut *through* all that crap people *think* we do - using smart, considerate, useful messages that (naturally) stand out beautifully.

Yes, there are a few of us who are go-for-the-throat salespeople, and would gladly take the consumers and shake them upside down by their ankles until the change rained from their pants pockets, if they thought it was a "viable communications strategy," but they're the spurned rarity in most agencies I've worked with.

(In fact, while a lot of us, myself included, are really impressed with the cleverness of a recent restaurant's campaign called "Expenseasteak.com," which lets you forge receipts for business purchases like staples and copy paper so you can actually spend company money on lavish lunches at the client's eatery, a good many of us - myself included - think it's actually not advertising at all, but something else altogether. Like, oh, fraud.)

But I'd been waiting for an example of how real ad people think about the work they do, because I knew that without some kind of evidence it would probably sound more like I was just defending my livelihood and trying to justify all the mental mugging and kitten-torturing I really do all the time.

Moreover, I knew that hearing ad people talk about what they're doing as though it were art, when really it's just "some stupid ad for face cream," (just as an example) could sound pretentious and self-deceiving. And in truth, it kind of does.

But it's real, I tell you, and nowhere have I seen that made more evident than in this video. It's a gorgeous piece of filmmaking, done by devoted, talented folks who really wanted to put something beautiful in the world. And they did it, just to prove my point, on behalf of "some stupid face cream."

Otherwise, who would have paid for it? And paid for the tv time so you could see it? Nobody, that's who.

So even though, yeah, there's a logo and a product shot at the end of this, the point is (or can be seen to be) that we get to see something pretty for thirty seconds instead of something stupid. Something we wouldn't have gotten to see before. Because somebody cared about what they were making, and not just shaking the change out of your pockets.

And I say, if you're in the market next time and you need some face cream, you should consider getting this kind. These guys paid for something you liked. (Assuming you did like it, of course.) And next time you want to buy, oh, body spray, I think you should consider *not* getting the kind that paid for something you hated.

It may be a flawed model for consumership, and there are a lot of other factors that could and should play into a buying decision, but voting with your dollars is in my opinion a good start.

We get to participate in a form of modern-day art patronage, just by pulling something off a shelf at the megamart. Which sure beats being shaken down for our change.

Don't like the ads? Don't buy the stuff. Eventually, the manufacturer will make the connection and stop cluttering up the world with dumbness. (Unless everyone else likes the ads but you. It's a democracy, of course.)

And please remember that we aren't all out to get you. Some of us are trying to tell you something that could make your life easier or more enjoyable, the only two noble efforts there really are.