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Video Podcasts

Video: “You Want It To All Sink to the Bottom”

Shortly after I arrived here in Portland, Ore., for the current run of Ben Franklin: Unplugged at Portland Center Stage (through Nov. 22), I wandered off during a break in search of coffee-making equipment.  (I hadn’t brought my Melitta stuff from Berkeley.)  At the popular Stumptown Coffee Roasters I became entranced with the idea of trying to make coffee with a “French press” — which had always seemed like a cool way to make a very strong brew.  (I imagined burly, caffeine-addicted French people — or maybe even French Canadians — applying enormous amounts of pressure to create super-intense cups, then writing muscular poetry about societal injustices.)

Wanting to get the French-pressing process just right, I asked the young woman who was helping me — Carrie — if she would mind my video-ing her while she made an exemplary brew.  Kindly, she said yes.  The result is one of those gritty, hard-hitting documentaries that blow the lid off of outmoded stereotypes of coffee preparation; needless to say, it is not for the faint of heart — watch at your own risk!

So far, a couple of weeks into this eight-week gig, both the coffee and the audiences have been hearty and complex, with a gratifying finish.  Once my family gets here, next week, I will be completely grooving on the whole Portland experience.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some serious pressing to do. …

Video: Among the Fishermen of Kochi

In the city of Kochi, along the shore of the Arabian Sea, fishermen are famed for using age-old techniques derived from China (and, I learned, from Portugal as well).  Encouraged by Ragini Gupta of the U.S. Consulate to check out these fellows (despite my exhaustion on that busy day), I headed toward the array of curiously shaped nets and rough-looking wooden piers.  Feeling a bit shy with my little Flip camera, I was lingering at a respectful distance — but one of the fishermen smiled and waved me to come close.  (Only after my short visit with him and his fellows did I realize there would be a price — a very small one, actually! — for the interview.  These few rupees I paid must have been especially welcome, as this turns out to be the lean season for them, fishwise.)

Video: At the Temple with Ratna & Friends

Earlier in this trip (I’m writing to you from Mumbai, the fourth of six cities in this India tour), when we were in Chennai, one of our hosts, Ratna Mukherjee of the U.S. Consulate, woke us relatively early so we could visit the famous Kapaleeshwarar Temple.  Outside there is a vestibule where everyone takes off their shoes before entering; seeing me and Bob Webb, my stage manager, come in, an attendant helpfully pulled out two plastic chairs for us.  (Bob, an accomplished Bhutto dancer, is quite adroit and didn’t need one; I, on the other hand — or foot — was grateful.)  It had just rained — and so, for the one time in our visit to this southern Indian city, the temperature was not swelteringly hot (you can see in the video that it was still overcast).  The damp soil of the temple grounds cheered the soles of my feet.  The mood among the temple-goers was deeply reverential.  The effect of the numerous colorful depictions of gods — many of them stacked up in a dazzling, narrowing column at the temple gates — was to lift the spirits even of this secular Westerner to a rare level of joy (tempered only by a constant yearning for my loved ones from home to be sharing this experience with me).  A group of adorable children darted around playfully as the adults prayed.  The message of this place, as I felt it: and, not or!

Video: Bollywood Dance Styles Through the Decades

This was really fun!  I was conducting a storytelling workshop with a group of theater students in Bangalore — in the lobby of the magnificent Ranga Shankara theater, where I had performed Citizen Josh the night before — and one of the students mentioned that she’d had to give a presentation on the evolution of Bollywood dance styles.  I asked her to demonstrate, and after expressing a bit of shy reluctance she did so — and was eventually joined by many of the others (with all the students singing a musical accompaniment).

Video: Mix Mix, Eat Eat!

Here’s a little video from a workshop I conducted with theater students at a public university in the southern Indian state of Kerala.  They had first served lunch to me and my stage manager, Bob, and had laughed a lot over my inability to pick up their style of eating.  You mix the rice, at the center, with all the different sauces and other foods along the perimeter.  And you only use your right hand, for the important reason I mentioned in a previous blog entry.  In my effort to improve my technique, I’d started muttering “Mix mix, eat eat!” as I smooshed the food.  This became a popular chant among the students.  At the end of the workshop, as I departed, they all called out, “Mix mix, eat eat!”

Video: Riding with Ratna

Here’s a tiny video teaser from Chennai, the first stop in my current tour of India with Citizen Josh.  (Right now I’m in my third city, Bangalore, and about to set off for Mumbai.)  My guide is the charming Ratna Mukherjee, of the very hip U.S. Consulate in Chennai, which is the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu in the southern part of the country.  She is talking about how theater and politics are very much intertwined in these parts.

My 4th Video Podcast: “Party Animal”

In experimenting with these little video podcasts, I feel I might be able to offer the viewer a sense of my daily life — only with less editing, and in greater definition than how I actually see things.  This installment is made up of footage from June 2, when — in a rare display of social-butterfly-osity — I went to two parties, on both sides of the San Francisco Bay.

First was a gathering honoring my pal Ethan Canin, one of our great writers (start, perhaps, with The Palace Thief, his collection of “long stories”).  Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) was there, being mordantly witty as always (and no, I’m not going to look up “mordant” — I’m just going to assume it really means what I think it means!).  Next was what turned out to be a lovely event at Saul’s Deli in Berkeley: a “DVD release party” for the concert film of my Red Diaper Baby monologue.

The Saul’s screening was so much fun that we’re doing another one — tomorrow (Tues., July 28), actually, at 8 p.m.  This time we’ll be watching Haiku Tunnel, the narrative film that I did with my brother Jacob (and many, many other wonderful people).  Amazingly, Haiku got into Sundance and then was distributed by Sony Classics.  Now it will attain its most natural state: accompanying matzoh brie.  (There will be a $10 suggested donation, to help us make our new movie, Love & Taxes.)

Anyhow, here’s the video podcast:

My 2nd(-ish) Video Podcast!

Here my “second” video podcast, taken at the Maker Faire in San Mateo on May 31. I use the quote marks because I’ve already posted my “third” podcast. I am not doing this to make the point that our notions of time and space need to be more malleable — actually, wait, I am!

Me Tube

Just wanted to let you know that you can subscribe to my videos on YouTube by going here and then clicking on the yellow “Subscribe” button.

This action will release endorphins (in both of us) — and will also make it easy for you to follow my video podcasts, new clips from Love & Taxes, etc.


Video Podcast No. 3: Vigil for Dr. George Tiller

On Monday I attended a candlelight vigil for Dr. George Tiller, the slain physician from Wichita, Kansas, who had performed late-term abortions (among other vital services).  Taking place on the steps of San Francisco City Hall only a day after the murder, the event was tremendously emotional.  My friend Lisa Geduldig, a comedienne, had taken on the very serious task of organizing the vigil — and she did a terrific job.  This podcast contains excerpts from the proceedings — including, in its entirety, an extraordinary speech by author and mother Ayelet Waldman.  For reasons of timeliness — and out of respect for Dr. Tiller — I have posted this “third” podcast before my “second” one (taped a day earlier), which I will post later this week.