Hotsy Totsy members: Juliet Clark - Ray Davis - Anselm Dovetonsils - Christina La Sala
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The Hotsy Totsy Club

1999-09-29. . . Cholly Kokonino reporting

Critics rave: "obviously a maniac.....(shaking head sadly.....)" -- lone wacko

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"She has a book on the subject of Fear in her hand" -- "Celebrity Art Party", The Embarrassment

Dr. Justine Larbalestier says I remind her of Casper the Friendly Ghost, and so it's entirely appropriate that my first movie should premiere at an art show titled "Facing Fear."

Besides being my first movie, this was my first opening, and, although no one threw a glass of wine in my face, on the whole it made me realize why my collaborator Christina hates 'em so much. It's like if I hung around a bookstore waiting for someone to pick up an anthology I was in and then waited for them to look at my story and then waited to see how far they read and what their reaction was. It's much nicer to have everyone remain anonymous unless they really don't want to be.

Also, it seemed too noisy for anyone to hear our fabulously detailed soundtrack through those dorky Walkman foam headphones. I'd sorta pictured big black hoods over all the TV sets, where you'd have to get under the hood to hear and see what was going on, but the curators didn't ask for installation advice. (One of them did ask for my theory of fear, though, and I apparently was quite the voluble informant. The combination of free drinks and serious attention is so heady.)

But as we left I saw a nice lady laughing out loud at our monitor, so that was OK.

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This Magic Orange

This magic orange
Is easily punched down
Then stretches up and
Was drawn by MK Brown.

. . . 1999-09-30

Enough already with the Kinks jokes and the California governor jokes. I'm gonna get a lawyer and change my name to "Schnozz Ray." Then they'll be sorry. (via Simcoe)

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Hotsy-Totsy favorite Curt Salada suggested further bean spillage vis-à-vis the movie project....

The Ichthyoid Syndrome (1999)

Directed by Ray Davis and Christina La Sala

Writing credits: Christina La Sala and Ray Davis

Genre: Horror

Tagline: The medium is the message. The message is: I don't like you.

User comments: It seemed to really click with my subconscious.

Cast, verified as complete
Christina La Sala .... Company Spokesperson
Ray Davis .... Test Subject

Music by Ray Davis, with Ludwig von Beethoven

Cinematography by Ray Davis and Christina La Sala

Film editing by Ray Davis

Art direction: Christina La Sala

Costume design: Christina La Sala

Special effects: Christina La Sala

Production companies: Catseye Productions

Distributors: San Francisco Art Commission Gallery

Runtime: 3 1/2 minutes

Country: USA

Sound mix: Mono

Plot summary: When fish are used as input devices, a former technophobe goes wild for computers.

Memorable quotes: "We like to call them... Cuddlefish."

Release dates: Part of the "Facing Fear" group show, running from September 22 1999 through October 30 1999.

Technical specifications: With its Sorenson-compressed QuickTime file weighing in at about 40 meg, this little honey ain't gonna get much Web distribution!

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One of my favorite weblogs, metascene, recorded this all-too-typical reaction to our Douglas Sirk story:

I wish I had abducted that German actress and held her and that miserable pooch of hers for ransom in my seedy hotel room before barely escaping with my life down the fire escape, running as fast as I could away from the sound of shattering glass and angry gunfire...

. . . 1999-10-01

If you can't take the seltzer, get out of the ring: If I was a better researcher, I'd figure out how many Web pundits who have protested the shutdown of The Dysfunctional Family Circus have also protested the notion of Third Voice users exchanging comments over the pundits' websites. (Personally, I think the idea of magically lifted-off graffiti is pretty neat.)

And I'd also look into whether the parody-as-fair-use legal argument is at all muddied by the captions that refer to the strip's drug-addled child-raping no-talent-bum dad as "Bil Keane."

. . . 1999-10-02

Lumière & Company had a nice notion: take a beautiful little 1895 movie camera, holding about a minute's worth of film, lend it to some directors, and then show the collected results. The problems were who the camera was lent to and how the results were shown. The minute-movies are of a trite piece, and they're widely separated by making-of-the-minute-movie documentaries (often showing a laughably out-of-proportion crew) and by footage of tedious answers to pompous questions. Even the credits sequence is a downer: there are only three women among the forty directors, and one of 'em is Liv Ullmann.

Which gives a clue as to how the nice notion turned nasty. There aren't many female directors in the big studio systems, but there are plenty in the experimental film world. As with the IMAX experience, all the Lumière production managed to prove is that standard studio directors don't know what to do without a standard studio, missing the positive side: no matter what their other problems might be, experimental filmmakers know how to experiment. (It's no suprise that the most praised of the forty minute-movies was by David Lynch, who began as an experimental animator.)

Which naturally turns our thoughts to Zoe Beloff, one of our favorite experimental filmmakers, for whom the Lumière project's constraints would've been tailor-made.

As evidenced by Beloff's digital-video work: the best I've seen, and I think that's because she doesn't just understand the pre-cinema nature of Web and CD-ROM media (although that understanding is rare enough) -- she loves it. True, those teensy low-res frame-skipping black-and-white windows on black backgrounds are no more than you'd get from a flip-card peep-show -- but she loves flip-card peep-shows. True, QuickTime VR is less Gibsonian-virtual-reality than it is a contemporary version of those cheesy nineteenth-century panoramas -- but she loves panoramas.

Beloff has always been influenced by pre-cinema movies, but her latest online project comes right out and gives us a hands-on museum of Thaumatropes, Phantasmagorias, Auto-Magic Picture Guns, and Nic Talkies. Some of the rickety old toys didn't quite work for me -- but that's to be expected of rickety old toys -- and some of the sideshow spiel seemed a mite overblown -- but that's to be expected of traveling spectacles. And Marcel Duchamp as maker of the world's largest magic lantern slide works for me just fine....

. . . 1999-10-04

Anselm Dovetonsils returns with three rollicking new poems!

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Science News: The miracle of digestion is a glorious thing. Thus the expression, "No guts, no glory." Most of the human body seems to be devoted to the process, often tripping over itself in eagerness to get on with it. Perhaps it would be healthier for the body to occasionally pursue some outside interests, or catch a movie, but no, digestion is pretty much the only game in town -- where "town," of course, means "internal organs." Thus the expression, "Paint the town red."

The miracle of indigestion is slightly less glorious, but it has been attested to by many witnesses since that early morning of April 19, 1743, in the little village of Petite-Village in Bas-Armagnac.

Digestion (and indigestion even more so) comes from the Latin; that is, "di," meaning "two," and "gestion," meaning "jokes." And since no demands seem to be placed on the quality of the jokes, I'd say we've pretty well covered things.

The Queen of Digestion
The pancreas (from the Greek: "executive" + "producer") in happier days

. . . 1999-10-05

Benton County News: "World-Wide" Web? I don't think so, pal. Not without Foley, Minnesota, it's not.

Luckily for our favorite domain-prefixing acronym, this chink has now been daubed through a generous donation of a full run of the Benton County News to the Hotsy Totsy Club by Asian Art Museum curator Kristina Youso.

In Youso's honor, our first news item is "Music Bridges Cultural Gap":

A year ago July 4th, the Chinese Boys Choir performed in St. Cloud. That performance marked the beginning of a year of planning to bring to pass a cultural exchange between Minnesota and China. The exchange involved folks a lot closer to our hearts here in Foley than just saying "Minnesota".
...
"We were quite a site," Mel said, "traveling in these large air conditioned buses." Nearly 7.4 million people live in the city of Beijing. (The population of the entire state of Minnesota is only 4.6 million.) There are people everywhere. Mary Ann commented, "There was no translation for the words "excuse me". There are so many people trying to move on the sidewalks that bumping into each other is just normal and people didn't say 'excuse me'."
...
The Haucks watched ditches dug by hand, not backhoes, and they saw no semi-trucks.
...
"The meals were just wonderful," Mel said. They did not drink the water, though.
...
The Hauck's felt very safe on the street in the evening. It was explained that there is no civil justice system in China. When someone commits a crime against someone, they are simply taken before a group of people and a sentence is meted out.
...
The 30 hour trip home was a long and tiring one, but, in visiting with the Hauck's, you would know the chance to share in this cultural exchange was well worth it.
 
"After a performance, concert goers rushed the stage
to have their photo taken with blonde American."
"It was better if we didn't ask what we were eating."

... an' anotha thing ...... then again ...

Copyright to contributed work and quoted correspondence remains with the original authors.
All other material: Copyright 1999 Ray Davis.