Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Return to Vegas - Part 2

I arrived around 11pm (Vegas time) the night before the final table of the main event. Paul was getting pep talks from all sides. I managed to get some shots of the discussions - inside the Rio double that had become the pre-game war room. Paul's father was proud, you could see it in his soft eyes. Mike Odeh spoke exclusively in hyperbole and waved his arms around like Mussolini. Tom sat quietly off to the side, seemingly unshaken by all of the surrounding hoopla. Paul, in bed, at the center of all of this. His look of focus would occasionally lift into a smile as newly arrived friends and family dropped by.
The next morning I did an interview with Paul. He was relaxed, smiling. If he was nervous, I couldn't see it. He talked a bit about strategy - how he would play extremely tight until it got down to a few players, then pull a 180 and start bludgeoning.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A few people have asked me what I was for Halloween. Here it is, in all of its it-took-me-5-minutes-to-put-this-costume-together glory.

Click here to see the original movie poster.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

This story ran in the Pioneer Press this past week. Thanks to everyone who attended the screening on Saturday!

Teens tell their own 'West Side Story'
Neighborhood film will show at Walker
Pioneer Press

At a film camp last summer, five young St. Paul residents pondered one question: What makes the West Side neighborhood special?

The answers they found are presented in the short documentary "My West Side Story," which will be shown Saturday at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. The film is one of 17 included in a Twin Cities Youth Media Network screening.

The five teens — Camila Davila Alvarez, Natalya Fromm, Julian Garcia-Delaney, Shampayne McKee and Bryant Slack — produced the five-minute film in less than a week.

"They came up with the idea, shot and edited it in five days," said Kevin Kalla, who worked with these students during the St. Paul Neighborhood Network's camp.

The boys and girls spliced images of the area's colorful murals and other community art together with video clips of adults and young people discussing what they think makes the West Side unique.

Film locations included neighborhood playgrounds and the new Wellstone Center for Community Building, which houses the community institution Neighborhood House. To reflect the area's strong Hispanic culture, the group visited a Mexican restaurant and included an interview conducted in Spanish in the film's final cut.

St. Paul Neighborhood Network, a nonprofit that produces programming for five St. Paul television channels, offered young people in four areas of the city — Dayton's Bluff, Frogtown, the North End and the West Side — the chance to produce films during weeklong day camps last summer.

Kalla said the West Side group's work was submitted for screening because it stood out with its positive message of diversity.

Julian Garcia-Delaney, who did most of the filming, said he is looking forward to seeing the movie on the big screen.

"I didn't think much of it" at the time, he said. "But now I'm excited."

Saturday's event will be the second time this year that Walker Art Center has collaborated with area organizations to encourage teen filmmakers to share their work with an audience.

"We want to make it apparent to youth filmmakers that you shouldn't keep films in the closet," said Witt Siasoco, teen programs manager at the center.

Siasoco said many of the youths have shown their films only to friends.

"A lot of the filmmakers are really surprised that there is an audience," he said. "It's encouraging for them."

A core of eight local youth and film organizations, including the St. Paul Neighborhood Network, make up the Twin Cities Youth Media Network.

Siasoco said the network is not formally organized but is working to add some structure. He said he hopes to make the film screenings regular events.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The return of the blog.

It's been a long time coming. I've survived summer video camps, two trips to Las Vegas, a move to Minneapolis, the death of my fish, and the beginning of a new AmeriCorps year. I will do my best to encapsulate the past couple of months into this blog post.

The Return to Vegas - Part 1
I spent 8 days in Vegas in the middle of July. Less than a month later, I found myself there again. Paul Wasicka was one of the guys who I had been living with in the House of Pain. One of Tom's best friends, I had met Paul a few years agowhen he had visited Saint Paul to see Tom.

The Main Event of the World Series of Poker is kind of a big deal. Over 8,700 players bought into the tournament, each forking over $10,000 for a seat. Paul managed to make a pretty deep run. At 4 in the morning on Wednesday, August 9th, I received a voicemail from Tom: "Yo Kevin... he made it. You've got to come out here. Call me when you get your ticket." Paul had made it to the final table of the Main Event of the World Series of Poker. Out of 8,773 players, only the final nine remained. Everyone at that table was walking away a millionaire, with first place receiving $12 million.

I had to scramble when I woke up in the morning and listened to my voicemail. I didn't have tapes. Or a video camera. I didn't have a plane ticket. Or money to buy one. I went to work for the day, and that night I was on a plane bound for Vegas.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Monday, July 24, 2006

Though the ACM conference ended a couple of weeks ago, there's still one thing about it I haven't been able to shake. It's this red thing. We got it when we registered for the conference. And I don't know what it is. Anybody?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Tom woke me up at 11:30 this morning, 5 minutes before we had to leave so we could get to the Rio for his noon tournament (the $1.5k No Limit Hold 'Em event). So here I am in the press room - unshowered, unshaven, helping myself to the pastry platter since I missed breakfast, the only person with a 5 year old laptop, the only person having trouble typing the letter 'n,' and trying to look respectable doing it. I'm cultivating the eccentric journalist look, hoping that they buy it. Occasionally I'll stand up, stretch, and start doing Tai Chi. People fear what they don't understand. If anyone asks who I am, I'll pretend to be shocked they don't know. If you want an update on the poker action, be sure to check out Tom's blog (the link is on the sidebar).

Monday, July 17, 2006

Another day in Vegas. Blogging from this laptop is harder than you might imagine. The 'n' key is sketchy at best. Today's highlights: using my recently acquired press pass to hang out in the media room (complete with refreshments and pastries) and getting a shot of Hollywood icon James Woods eating popcorn while playing in the $2k No Limit Hold 'Em event, a few tables down from Tom.

I'm having so much fun in Vegas I forgot that I'm supposed to be making a movie.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Where to start? I began writing this blog post from the Imperial Ballroom in the Park Plaza in Boston. I’m finishing it from a rental house in Las Vegas. To recap:

This is what happened to my car on July 3rd, less than 24 hours before I was to leave for Boston. I’m not as concerned about the stuff that was stolen as I am about the damage done to the car. Unfortunately, I only have liability coverage on my car insurance, so no help there. I’m really not sure how I’m going to be able to afford to fix it. Maybe I’ll play the nickel slots -- daddy needs a new rear windshield.

Rewind to Boston. I attended the Alliance for Community Media national conference as a representative of SPNN. The conference was held at the Park Plaza Hotel in downtown Boston, and I arrived with two teenage girls in tow. RayLynn and Mai Cha were the two youth chosen from the Set It Up crew to attend the conference. In recent years, there has been a drop off in the youth presence at the ACM conference. In the end, the total registration for youth at this year’s conference was two: Mai Cha and RayLynn. While the number is certainly disheartening, their impact was felt. By the end of the conference, the two had reached quasi-celebrity status. They not only attended but participated in the conference workshops, asking questions and bringing their unique perspectives to the table.

When thinking back on the conference, the word that keeps popping up is “exhausting.” Being the sole adult chaperone, chasing after two teenage girls for sixteen hours a day wore me out. However, it was also unbelievably fun. I had never been to Boston before, and (save for the East Coast attitude and criminally bad driving) the city is fantastic. Our first night, we walked to the river and listened to a live performance by the Boston Pops with special guests Aerosmith, emceed by Dr. Phil (!). This was followed by the most spectacular fireworks display that I have ever witnessed (did you know there are fireworks that explode into wireframe cubes?!).

We walked the Freedom Trail, a red line that twists around downtown Boston (and eventually across the river to Cambridge) and stops at different historical landmarks. We saw the site of the Boston Massacre, the Old South Meeting House where people congregated before the Boston Tea Party, and the graveyard where John Hancock, Paul Revere, and Samuel Adams are buried. We walked around Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, saw the boats along the Long Wharf, and strolled around Boston Commons. We had fresh octopus in Chinatown, clam chowder at the keynote luncheon, and on our last night in Boston, Mike (the executive director of SPNN) took us out to Legal Seafoods. One of the highlights was the dinner boat cruise aboard the Spirit of Boston, where we spent three hours of a gorgeous day out around the harbor.

Fast forward to today. Current temperature: 102. I arrived yesterday evening, was picked up by Thomas Fuller and whisked away to the Rio. Tom’s friend and housemate Pi-master (so named for his interest in mathematics and his affection of pi-themed clothing) was playing in a final table. After a well-fought run, Pi-master was knocked out in third place, netting him $85,904. Needless to say, the experience has been surreal. In the first few hours, I saw Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson, Howard Lederer, Scotty Nguyen, Joseph Hachem, Gus Hansen, and Phil Hellmuth. I even ran into Simpsons co-creator and Mental Engineering panelist Sam Simon.

More to come…

Monday, June 19, 2006

Set It Up is over. The 2005-2006 season has drawn to a close. The end of an era. As I struggle with the idea of the next three months without my daily Set It Up fix, I'm comforted by all of the exciting things that are going on this summer. The Youth Advisory Committee will begin meeting every other Friday, and their amazing video promo should be edited by Thursday. I've been busy coordinating the neighborhood video classes that will run throughout the month of August. Arrangements have been made for the ACM Conference - RayLynn, Mai Cha, and I will be in Boston From July 4th-9th. The media committee refuses to lose momentum as we continue our work on various projects. Long story short, there will be plenty to keep me busy this summer.

I'd also like to point out the renaissance that my small blogging community seems to be undergoing. If you click on any of the links to other blogs in the sidebar, you'll find some really fantastic content. From Riley's slideshow of youth-produced artwork to Jeremy's rant about Tires Plus; from Roxanne's dissertation on BBQs, Apples to Apples, and race to Tom's existential observations about life, poker, and the pursuit of happiness -- it makes me believe in the internet again. I have always been fascinated with the internet as a communication device, a social networking tool. Rather than an anomie-inducing threat, I prefer to see its potential for community building. There's something beautiful and dangerous about its decentralized power, one of the last refuges in mass media where the radical, the independent producer, and everyone else get a chance to speak. Maybe this is what drew me to public access television, and why I'm sticking around for another year.

The season finale of Set It Up is now available! Click the link on the sidebar to view it.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Check it out, there's a picture of me in the CTEP Annual Report! And look, there's Ivan and Mai Cha too!

Friday, June 02, 2006

The new episode of Set It Up is now available online! There's a link to it on the sidebar, be sure to check it out.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The one thing that has been keeping me from updating this blog has been Google Video. In attempting to upload the latest episode of Set It Up, it has given me nothing but grief. I think that our last episode was just fantastic, and I really want everyone to see it, so I'll keep working on the problem. In the meantime, here are a few more photos from the Set It Up Photo Project to appease your unquenchable thirst for youth media.

What else have I been up to, you ask? We've been working on the last episode of Set It Up, which is a "producer showcase," meaning that the youth can choose any topic or style of video that they wish. Just as in the last episode, we are going to do an outdoor shoot where the hosts introduce the segments. The twist? We'll be bbqing in a park for the shoot. It's going to be awesome/delicious. I've also been working on coordinating four summer video classes that we will be running. We'll be working with middle-school aged kids in four distinct neighborhoods around Saint Paul. And the most exciting thing I have to report? The Set It Up t-shirts just arrived about five minutes ago!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Busy as always. One of the coolest things I've been involved with lately is the Set It Up photo project. A while ago, I came up with the idea of having the Set It Up crew take home digital cameras and take pictures of their surroundings. We would then use the pictures a) as an introduction to Photoshop, b) as the raw material for a video segment, and c) as youth-created art to decorate our walls! I collaborated with Roxanne to run the program, and here are some of the pictures we ended up with!

Monday, May 08, 2006

These past few days have been pretty exciting. On Friday, the Youth Advisory Committee met to begin pre-production on the promo they will be creating for SPNN's Youth Education department.

There are three main ideas we want them to convey in the video: people should watch our shows, join our programs, and come to our events. The idea the YAC finally decided on is to follow someone around who is putting up flyers. As soon as a flyer is posted, they'll use chroma key to have it "come to life" and start talking about how awesome SPNN is. The magic of television.

Our current episode of Set It Up is almost finished. We had an open day on Sunday for people to work on their pieces. After watching most of the segments, Mejid remarked that our current episode is going to be the best yet. Get excited.

SPNN was abuzz on Saturday. Mental Engineering, the television show I help out on, had some fantastic guests. Writer, radio host, and SNL alum Al Franken was there. He was joined by Sam Simon (the co-creator of the Simpson), Margaret Werry (an historian from the University of Minnesota), and Leola Johnson (my former advisor from Macalester). Macalester College President Brian Rosenberg and Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman were both in attendance as well.

As if this weren't enough, professional poker player Tom Fuller has been staying with us for the past week. Highlights have included seeing the Joggers, Giant Drag, and Pretty Girls Make Graves at Triple Rock, getting him hooked on The Office and having him declare it the best show on television, and going to see Sigur Ros (that last one doesn't happen until tonight, but when it does, it will definitely be a highlight).

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Two new videos. The first one is on the the CTEP Media Committee Vlog, which you can always access using the link in the sidebar on your right. The other is a short video that I produced using footage I shot when we were at the Western Sculpture Park for Set It Up. I call it A Day in the Park.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Here's the second draft of our design for the new mousepads in the media lab. Bekka did the pencil sketch of the SPNN logo, and then I put it into an etch-a-sketch. I'm having a hard time getting the "Building Community Through Television" to look right. What do you guys think?

Just a quick update to let you know that I've posted the Youth Advisory Committee one hour video projects on google video. You can access them using the sidebar on the right. Check them out and let me know what you think! Our next YAC meeting is this Friday, and I'm still ironing out all of the details. If you have a chance, check out the Set It Up blog (also accessible using the sidebar on your right). The youth have posted a couple updates, and I also gave the look of the blog a little facelift.

Friday, April 21, 2006

If you haven't checked out the CTEP Media Committee Vlog, you should. Now featuring the legendary media committee ghost movie. I ain't afraid of no ghost.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

One story from the CTEP office party I forgot to share - I was talking to Jeff about music. He talked about listening to anarcho-punk and hanging out with Profane Existence when he was younger. I said I'd never heard of them. As we drove home, Jeremy played "Stevie Nix" by The Hold Steady, so that I could hear this line: "When we hit the Twin Cities, I didn't know that much about it; I knew Mary Tyler Moore and I knew Profane Existence."

So the Set It Up videos are now on Google Video. They're listed in the sidebar on the right. Try it out!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

As Thomas Fuller once wrote, "I can't estimate how important the weather/ climate/ seasons are to me. When I get out and feel the sun on my skin, I feel great. It's as simple as that." Yesterday was gorgeous, a perfect 70 degree day in downtown Saint Paul. So, of course Bekka and Ivan wanted to shoot outside. And of course they wanted their location to be the park. And of course I volunteered to help them out. The pictures on the right were taken with the SPNN Youth Education Department's new camera, a Canon Powershot A610, that I picked out. I think it's been working really well so far, and I've been really impressed with the image quality.

On a different note, I'll be attending the Macalester Internship Reception today to represent SPNN. One of our interns, Zoe Holmes, is a mentor for the Set It Up show. Being a Mac grad myself, I thought this would be a fun opportunity to check out the old stomping grounds.

Yesterday I uploaded the Set It Up episodes to Google Video. They're awaiting verification, but once that process is over with, I'm hoping that this will solve some of the issues that people have been running into with

On a more life altering note, I've reached the point in my service year where I have to start thinking about what's next. I've been thinking about applying to do another year with CTEP. I've also been considering moving back to Washington state. I do love my job, probably as much or more than anyone I know. However, I don't relish the thought of living on the stipend and food stamps for another year. Ah, the life of an AmeriCorps.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Last night I attended an office party at CTEP HQ. The party was a joint effort by the people who share the sixth floor of that office building - an interesting assortment of artists, writers, and independent media producers. I brought Jeremy, Josh, and Erin along for the ride. There was a solid CTEP presence at the party, including Roxanne, Linda, Lindsey, Ken, Catherine, Jeff and his awesome girlfriend Olivia, and Rich with his lovely wife Barb. I stuck around to watch All the Pretty Horses play a set. The picture on the right was taken with my cameraphone (hence the graininess) during the opening song. I've also posted a picture of my awesome new shoes that I got yesterday in order to a) show off how awesome my new shoes are and b) pay homage to Linda's fantastic blog post about getting a pair of clogs.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Hey everyone,

So today we had our super awesome committee meeting/bbq. And it was super awesome. Much was accomplished, as can be seen by these pictures that I'm posting. If productivity is what your committee is after, then I suggest a bbq.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

It has been a fun week at SPNN. Spring break is over and the Set It Up crew has returned. I've posted the mock ups I've made for the Set It Up shirt, which has gone through a number of revisions. What do you guys think? Bekka designed the logo (originally pencil on notebook paper).

I've also asked her to design the new mousepads for the media lab. I'm going to be posting the one-hour-video-project videos that the Youth Advisory Committee made pretty soon, so watch out for those.

I applied for a scholarship on Tuesday for the Netsquared conference in California this May, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for that one. In other conference news, I'm hoping to go to the Alliance for Community Media Conference this July in Boston, possibly even bringing a couple of youth with me. I'll keep you posted on how things shape up.

Monday, April 10, 2006

All right boys and girls, it's the moment you've all been waiting for. I've finally posted this season's third episode of Set It Up for your viewing pleasure. As you probably know, the current episode deals with teen health. The screenshot on your right is a talking cheeseburger. Click it to view the episode. Once again, you'll need the latest version of Quicktime. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Over spring break, David was kind enough to host a couple of workshops on the animation and special effects program Adobe After Effects. It took me over an hour to come up with this short video.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

For all of my rabid fans anxious for their Kevin fix, you can catch me on SPNN's channel 15 next Monday at 6:30pm. I hosted the latest episode of the All Things Access show. Don't miss it.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

This week is spring break for Saint Paul public schools, and I've been helping out on a class SPNN is hosting called Real Reality TV. It's a documentary video production class run by Niknaz. The class is run through the Connections program, meaning that the youth involved get high school credit for attending. The class teaches them basic camera and iMovie skills, and it culminates in the creation of an actual documentary. Some of you may have seen the Homophobia video, which screened at the Girls in the Director's Chair Film Festival and was recently accepted into the Flaming Film Festival. That video was made as part of last year's Real Reality TV class.

In other exciting news, I'm getting a new work computer! I'm pretty sure I have by far the slowest computer at SPNN, and trying to do things like "multitasking" has been difficult on a 500MHz Pentium III. I put flame decals on the monitor, which seemed to give me a slight boost, but it was probably more placebo effect than anything else. Let me tell you, I'm pretty excited for this new computer.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

So the Open House was a huge success. We had a good turnout, good food, and everyone I talked to said that they had a great time. To demonstrate just how good of a time everyone had, here's a video of the Open House.

Roxanne of CTEP fame, who is a mentor for Set It Up and comes in every Tuesday, was in attendance. Thanks to Jeremy, Josh, Erin, and Emily for coming out and seeing what I do and the people I work with.

I posted some pictures for everyone's enjoyment. The photo cake was both tacky and delicious. The headshot of me is from the "pin the goatee on Kevin" game that was set up. In the words of Nicola, "if you ever needed a reason to not shave your goatee off..."

Bekka and Ivan put on a fantastic tour that included editing and studio demos. Awards were handed out honoring everyone's individual contributions to the show. Xavier even received a lifetime achievement award. All in all, it was a pretty awesome night.

This morning I hosted the All Things Access show, which is a show put on by the SPNN Access staff. When I say I hosted the show I mean that I read a script off of a teleprompter. On the bright side, I pretty much did it in one take. Not too shabby for not having read the whole script before doing it. I'll be famous one day, you'll see.

Monday, March 27, 2006

As promised, I've posted a couple of pictures from our third studio shoot. As you can see, our set was a bit more "newsy" this time. Our hosts are sitting at a large desk with the Set It Up logo displayed on an LCD screen. We got a bit of a late start that day, having to deal with a number of technical difficulties, but we got through the entire script in less than an hour. Our hosts performed admirably. This was our first shoot without a dress rehearsal (which was cancelled due to excessive snowfall), and everyone worked well together to pull it off.

Last Friday was the first meeting of the Youth Advisory Committee. The YAC is a group of talented youth who have been involved in a number of different SPNN programs. YAC provides an open forum for them to share their opinions and have a voice in the future of SPNN and the Youth Education Department. For our first meeting, I decided that we should spend the first hour getting to know each other, talking about general issues, and eating delicious pizza. The second hour was spent doing a one hour video project. The teens split into two groups and were given 15 minutes of pre-production, 25 minutes of production, and 20 minutes of post in order to complete a short video. The topic was classes or events that you would like SPNN to have in the future. The group that I worked with did a news report about a new class being offered at SPNN where the end product is a feature length movie. The other group did an advertisement-style piece for a music-video class. I'll try to post those videos online in the next few weeks.

FYI - The Set It Up website has been updated (by me). I'm now doing all of the design in Frontpage, so if you have any suggestions for things that could be changed, please post a comment. I'd love feedback.

Well, that's all for now. I have to start setting up for the Open House. It's going to be awesome!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Hey everyone, check out this sweet invitation Bekka created yesterday! And come to our Open House if you live in Saint Paul, it's going to be awesome! Stay tuned, I'll be posting pictures from our last studio shoot in the next few days.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Wifi is coming...

The CTEP Wifi Video Project is now available for your viewing pleasure! Click here to watch the clip.

We spent a lot of time and energy putting together about 2 minutes of video. Let us know what you think.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Chicago was a blast. The Wrens were spectacular, as was The Casket Lottery. Jeremy's family was an absolute pleasure.

We drove to St. Cloud last Friday to see Kevin Smith. He spoke for four and a half hours before they had to close the place down. It was awesome.

The Alliance for Community Media Conference took place this past Friday and Saturday. There were a number of fantastic presentations, including one on youth media in which two Set It Up members, Donald and Xavier, participated. They did a really fantastic job representing SPNN and discussing their work on the show.

The second episode of Set It Up for the season is now available for download! Click here to watch it. Alternatively, you can right click on the link and choose "Save Link As" to download the file to your hard drive. As with the last file, Quicktime is required to view the clip. Please post comments!