Wednesday, April 19, 2006

April in Asia!

Today (Thursday, April 20th) I fly to Beijing, China for my friend Victor Le Broussois's wedding! Some of you may remember Victor from his witty reports on the Cyber Scene in Paris for this newsletter. Or you may remember that he helped produce and sponsor my Cocktails with Courtney in Cannes in February 2001. The wedding will be in Tianjin and then I shall be touring around Beijing for a few days. You can be assured that I'll be taking copious notes and many photos (all of which are on Fotki.com). Until then, peace in bits and bytes!

Games with the Museum of the Moving Image

Carl Goodman, Deputy Director and Director of Digital Media of the Museum of the Moving Image (www.movingimage.us) has a great idea for your weekend! He writes: "Spend Saturday afternoon 4/22 at the Museum for an afternoon of very special programs inaugurating the opening of Interacting with the Screen, a new display within Museum’s core exhibition devoted to early video games. At 2pm they're hosting Ralph H. Baer, Father of the Video Game. Spry and articulate at 83 years of age, the person who brought the world electronic ping-pong and other key digital video inventions is still plugging away in his basement laboratory, adding to his 50+ US patents. Bear is an √©migr√© who fled Germany as a teenager in 1938 and received one of the first television engineering degrees in 1949. Two months ago, President George Bush laid on him a prestigious National Medal of Technology. For what happened in between, come to the event. More on Baer: http://www.pong-story.com/ (from David Winter); http://www.ralphbaer.com/

Then, at 4pm, it’s Game Design: Forward into the Past with legendary game designer Eugene Jarvis (Defender, Robotron, etc) now at Raw Thrills; designer and industry conscience/gadfly Greg Costikyan, Pres. of Manifesto Games; and designer/author Eric Zimmerman, CEO of Gamelab. The group will look at the connection between the video games of yore and today’s of arcade-style, independently produced, or otherwise unpackaged games. My colleague Keith Feinstein of Videotopia will moderate.

And at 5:45 we’ll host a reception in honor of Ralph Baer in the galleries. This event is open to the above attendees.

Amidst the above hubbub, you can also check out the new display, including Baer’s hand-crafted working replicas if his 1967/68 prototype systems and a new game modding demonstration featuring the work of ‘machinimaster’ Freidrich Kirschner.

All events are free with Museum admission ($10, $7.50 for students), and I can extend to you the privilege of reserving seats for the event. Just email me. For more info on all of this, jump over to the Digital Media Events section of the Museum Website at http://www.movingimage.us/site/screenings/.

ALSO: If the current eruption of video-based creativity on the Internet of interest to (and it should!), you will enjoy our Sunday, 4/23 4pm event, Video Blog Explosion, with the makers of www.rocketboom.com, http://drivetime.ravijain.org/, and www.vimeo.com.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Graeme Thickins PC Forum Report

Graeme Thickins has graced us again with a link (oooh!) to his write-up of Esther Dyson's PC Forum conference, which took place a few weeks ago in San Diego: http://graemethickins.typepad.com/graeme_blogs_here/pc_forum_2006/index.html

Family Report on New Orleans

Every two years my father’s side of my family holds a family reunion in New Orleans. My grandfather, Simon Benjamin, was the oldest of twelve and the only one born in St. Louis. The rest were born in either White Castle, LA or New Orleans, where they all grew up. Simon was the only one to move away, and he went to New York City to make money to send back to the family so they could survive during the depression. Now we are scattered all over the United States, like many modern familys. While I didn’t make it to the reunion this year, due to neck and shoulder problems and a slew of physical therapy, my cousin, David Saperstein, who’s also an attorney with Maddin, Hauser, Wartell, Roth & Heller , P.C. in Southfield, MI, had this to say about what things are like in the Crescent City:

“New Orleans is trying to put its best face forward, but is still devastated. As most people know, there are portions of the city (both rich and poor) that no longer have residents. Houses are off their foundations everywhere, caved in. Tarps on rooftops signal where people cut a hole in their roofs to climb up and get rescued. Painted x's on the houses show when a house was searched, by whom, and whether anyone died. Also painted on homes and businesses are notes for the next rescue unit, e.g. Dog under porch (first team); searched but did not find dog (second team); or HELP! HELP! HELP! Abandoned cars lie waiting to be picked up underneath the freeways. Boats are seen in neighborhoods miles away from the lakes.

What is less well known is the chronic labor shortage. For those with damage to their homes, minor or major, contractors are next to impossible to find. As a result, many residents who have returned live in trailers in front of their home. The logistical challenge in finding the manpower to tear down entire sections of a city and then finding land to dump the debris can only be described as overwhelming.

Visitors need to be ready for longer waits and less support staff in restaurants and hotels as well as difficulties finding a cab. On the plus side, most of the downtown, French Quarter, Central Business District, as well as Uptown, are open for business. Music is back with Jazz Fest expected to be great this year. Although not all restaurants are open yet (in large part because of labor shortages), most have reopened and the food is wonderful. We had a sneak preview of what is likely to be New Orleans' next signature restaurant, The Cellar. It is located in a former home (a la Commander's Palace) off St. Charles uptown. Incredible food and wonderful house.

The entire city is terrified about what the upcoming hurricane season will bring. However, residents seem determined to revive the city, and want the word to get out both that they are open for visitors as well as not to forget New Orleans as it lobbies for critical funds needed for rebuilding.
~ DMS@maddinhauser.com

Mr. Ubercool

While Law & Order's SVU was filming at the Muse Hotel on 46th Street on Friday, March 31st, Michael Tchong and I held our own investigation next door at The District restaurant. Over sinfully-good truffle and pecorino grilled cheese sandwiches and mini-burgers, we chatted about trends and what's to come. And what is to come? Well my pretties, you'll just have to stay tuned. Mr. Ubercool is up to his tricks again and let me tell you, we're going to knock your socks off! :)

MyBefana

Good food delivered to your door. MyBefana.com held a series of opening night events for foodies to sample their delicious gourmet Mediterraean cuisine.

I stopped by their brand-spanking-new storefront on Monday, March 27th at 116 West Houston Street where the delivery operations also are run out of. This operation-central holds a special place in my heart as it was my former office address, and now it's where I'll probably be getting heart-healthy mediterranean dishes for dinner.

Like the popular Zone-diet delivery plan, MyBefana.com will deliver a bundle of goodies to your doorstep the night before. Stored in a special and very groovy looking thermo-retentive bag, the bundle has breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack. I recently ordered a dinner and was delighted with my grilled salmon and Sicilian ''coleslaw'' and eggplant ratatouille. I also like their theory that dessert should be included too! And I can vouch for the sumptuousness of the midnight brownie, the turkish baklava and the mini creme-caramel! (I took just sample portions, honest!)

Operations Manager Gabe Torres and Chef Daniele Baliani were gracious hosts and were refreshingly friendly and available to answer all my questions. The name of the business, MyBefana hails from the old Italian myth of a little old woman who would leave gifts on doorsteps at night for children. Like the little old woman (although Chef Daniele is dashingly handsome and not old at all!), MyBefana delivers a little gift of healthy food to your doorstep! So try it out! MyBefana.com; 888-6-Befana.