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Blue Ocean Film Festival 2010 Podcast Stream

08-30-10: David Doubilet Captures 'Water Light Time'

Painting with Pixels

The equivalence between pictures and words is greatly overstated. There is no measure in one to capture the other. A single sentence can conjure endless images and conversely, there are images that no words can corral. For longer than many could imagine, David Doubilet has been capturing such images — under the water.

Doubilet has been paid for his underwater photographs since he was fifteen years old, and in that span of time he has learned to capture more than mere imagery. When I asked to speak to him for the Blue Ocean Film Festival, I asked to see some his books, and he sent 'Water Light Time' (Phaidon Press ; March 15, 2006 ; $29.95), 'Fish Face' (Phaidon Press ; November 1, 2003 ; $19.95) and 'Face to Face With Sharks,' co-written by Jennifer Hayes (National Geographic Children's Books ; February 10, 2009 ; $16.95). They were rather shocked I even asked, but I'm certain much less so than I was stunned by the imagery I found within.

For a book that you can spend endless hours literally immersed in, nothing can beat 'Water Light Time,' which instantly reminded me of two other books in my library, boith different from one another and from Doubilet's masterpiece. (And it is a masterpiece, make no mistake.) Readers probably have not heard much about my art-book buying career, but I do have some, and one of my favorites is Andy Goldsworthy's book, 'Time,' and Andrey Tarkovsky's 'Sculpting in Time.' The titles are the giveaway, but the common thread is clear in the imagery of each artist. There is a sense of time in these images that Doubilet captures; in fact there are many senses of time to be found in this remarkable collection.

Photography by definition captures a single moment. But Doubilet's works, not surprisingly, since he is an underwater photographer, capture a flow of time as well. We can feel the moment before and after these images, and in fact, the millennia that went into the creation of the images. In 'Water Light Time,' you'll find a variety of imagery, from portraits of fish (these are the sole province of 'Fish Face') to painterly images that almost defy the viewer to believe that they could have been photographed.

Doubilet is a master of underwater photography, but the technical expertise that certainly went into the creation of these images is by and large not on display, or, I suppose, not really assertively a part of the composition. Instead, Doubilet manages to create indelible visions that, by virtue of composition, color and reproduction literally immerse the reader in the ocean, in ways we have not experienced before. His half-and-half shots are the most striking example of this, but there are many others that do so as well; sharks streaming by the camera with remoras clinging to their side seem almost impressionistically rendered. You'll see this technique in his photos of squid as well.

But Doubilet is also quite handily capable of photographing creatures we've seen with a precision and accuracy that is clearly of scientific as well as artistic value. 'Fish Face' is the ultimate example of this, while 'Face to Face With Sharks' offers more action=-packed fare for younger readers. Of course the latter might give these same readers nightmares, or at least inspire second thoughts before plunging into the open ocean.

Doubilet's work is nothing short of art, nothing short of the finest prose fiction you can read. How many libraries are there in 'Water Light Time'? How many novels? There is at least one story per page. But there is no equivalent for any of these images; no words will suffice or summarize. You can only enter the flow, and emerge, speechless wordless, immersed.

08-30-10: A 2010 Interview With David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes

"Everything people have always feared about photography comes true underwater."

—David Doubilet

Photography has become a technology-driven art. But no matter how much technology you throw at an art, there is no substitute for vision, which is what David Doubilet brings to his underwater photography. Happily, he is quite cognizant of what he does and how he does it. He's been immersed for a long time. His story is just as captivating as his images.

I had a chance to sit down and find out how Doubilet came to possess his vision, and how he came to develop his art. He began at the beginning, literally, with a Brownie camera. I used to have a Brownie camera, and suspect I still do, somewhere out in the garage, but mine was never put underwater. And that was indeed the start of Doubilet's career. He was selling underwater photographs at an age when most kids are still mowing lawns fdor a living.

The Blue Ocean Film Festival has found its official home in Monterey, California, and Doubilet was here with Jennifer Hayes to show his latest photographs in the gallery, including his nudibranchs. He talked to me about how he created these images by bringing a studio 90 feet beneath the surface of the ocean. These are really quite remarkable; they're so so surreal that they are almost abstract, like logos for an alien civilization.

This podcast is split into two different portions. The first is a thirteen-minute overview of the Blue Ocean work, his career and his latest article for the National Geographic on fresh-water eels. You can find that appetizer by following this link to the MP3 audio file. The second podcast is a full-length, one-hour, ten-minute look at his career, and it is utterly fascinating. Towards the end, we are joined by Jennifer Hayes, who talked about photographing sharks and finding their teeth embedded in her wetsuit after the dive. You can find that interview by following this link to the MP3 audio file; prepare to be immersed!

08-31-10: A 2010 Interview with Jean-Michel Cousteau

"We need to change. And we can."

—Jean-Michel Cousteau

Memories beget legends. Those images in our minds that will not go away become to us the basis for our personal mythos. I'm of a generation that grew up on the California coast, and part of my upbringing was spending a lot of time on the water.

And on those rare occasions when my parents would allow me to watch television, there were few allowed shows. Ed Sullivan, pre-homogenization Walt Disney, and of course, since we were water people, Jacques Cousteau. It wasn't until I arrived in a future I could not have dreamed of that I actually met a legend, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Jacques' son, and had the chance to talk with him about the past, the present and the future.

Legends get that designation because they can support it, and Jean Michel Cousteau lives up to his name. He was here in Monterey for the Blue Ocean Film Festival, and I had a chance to sit down and talk with him for a fascinating look at his past, our present and our future.

It's really interesting to me how many of these great underwater explorers got their start early, and Jean-Michel is no exception, except — in his case, his father helped to invent the regulator, and there were, as Jean-Michel told me, no certifications to be had when at the age of 7, his father strapped a tank on his back and sent him underwater for the first time. And that was when ... things changed.

I also spent some time talking to Jean-Michel about current affairs, including the Gulf Oil Disaster, and its relation to his experience with the Exxon-Valdez spill. Not surprisingly, things have not changed, other than the magnitude of disaster. Even the concept of "magnitude of disaster" is odd to me. But to hear a man with Jean-Michel's experience explain it so calmly is indeed chilling.

For a world-renowned conservationist and a living legend, Jean-Michel is refreshingly pragmatic. He does not expect us to simply stop using oil. He knows that just about everything we do is touched by the energy requirement we have, by the energy sources we have. But he does have a a crystal clear vision of the past, a refreshing sense of the present and an energizing view of the future, which you can hear by following this link to the MP3 audio file.

09-01-10: A 2010 Interview with Dan Basta at the Blue Ocean Film Festival

"Experiential learning is the way we learn best."

—Dan Basta

I live on Monterey Bay, about three blocks from the beach. When you walk out on the beach, and I do every single morning, you can see the entire pristine bay — and gain an instant appreciation for the Marine Sanctuary designation that keeps it that way. Dan Basta is the man in charge of our Marine Sactuaries; the Director of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Ocean Service. And you can bet I wanted to talk to him about how he does what he does. Here's an instance where the impact is immediate.

I've spent more time than most talking with engineers, and I know one when I talk to one. It didn't take long for me to suss that Basta was and still is an engineer at heart, and that is the key to his success managing the Marine Sanctuaries of this nation. As he pointed out in our interview at the Blue Ocean Film Festival, the word "sanctuary" is a loaded, emotional term. It is something you might, not coincidentally, seek were ol' Scratch himself to be after you. And for me, this is home.

The challenges of doing what Dan does are enormous and constantly changing. They involve pure engineering efforts and human engineering efforts as well. Dan has written some of the most sophisticated software ever conceived to do environmental simulations, and he and I talked about the problems inherent even with effective software. We talked about how the environmental movements of the 1960's and 1970's brought about some of the most important legislation ever to pass through Congress, and how his work carries on the struggle. You can hear us converse without any struggle; simply follow the link to the MP3 Audio file.

09-02-10: BLUE Ocean Film Festival Interview with Ed Lyman and Lou Douros

Ed Lyman, Lou Douros, Rick Kleffel and Dan Basta

In the Wake of Giants

A scene from In the Wake of Giants
Generally speaking, I like to prepare quite extensively for any interview I do. I have a very rigorous process, with lots of steps I like to tick off to ensure that when I sit down to talk to someone, I know who I'm talking to and what I am talking about. Then, of course, just before the interview, I jettison the whole thing and walk the plank unaided.

It doesn't always work out that way. Sometimes You're thinking you have a little break between two interviews, and your facilitator shows up with two unexpected guests. You have about a minute to get their names and occupations right before you turn on the tape recorder, and when you do, things work out better than you could have imagined.

Such was the case with Ed Lyman and Lou Doubros. Our BLUE Ocean Film Festival coordinator, Sarah, brought them up to me after my interview with Dan Basta; Lou, she told me, was the director, writer, and producer of the BLUE selection, "In the Wake of Giants," which was, she told me, about the work Ed did as a marine mammal response manager, large whale disentanglement coordinator for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Got that? Good! Go!

Fortunately, the story they had to tell was too compelling not to be gripping and entertaining. Ed Lyman turns out to be a guy who literally saves the whales, in this case, when they get entangled in sea junk left behind by men; ropes, nets, cables, you name it, if it is a life-threatening entanglement, Ed spends a few days chasing down a whale and them cutting off the cables. Lou Doubros, of Akua Films had the insight to make a movie about Ed and his crew, and the whole shebang proves to be really riveting radio.

A scene from In the Wake of Giants

In the interview, we talked about both sides of the story; what Ed specifically does, and how Lou got it up on screen for the festival. Like most real-life heroes, Ed tends towards the laconic, but he can't help but tell a great story. There's derring-do, sharp knives, thrashing young whales 35 feet long weighing in at well, more tons than I can remember, and an inflatable boat to pull of this trick. I'll let the two of them tell their story, which you can hear by following this link to them MP3 audio file.

09-03-10: Bruckner Chase at Blue Ocean Film Festival

Michelle Evans-Chase and Bruckner Chase

"...a breath to your right and look at the moonset over the Pacific, and a breath to your left and see the sun rise over the mountains..."

—Bruckner Chase

Two days before the Blue Ocean Film Festival began, Bruckner Chase made history. For the first time in thirty years, he successfully swam across the Monterey Bay. It should have been 25 miles, but he drifted and ended up swimming 28. But this isn't simply swimming. Open ocean journeys require quite a bit more than swimming. I hadn't really thought out all the preparations and all the potentialities until I started preparing for the interview. Then the whole journey started to see much more difficult than I could have imagined.

Bruckner Chase was not born an open-ocean swimmer. He made himself that way, and I found out all the details once I sat down to ask him how he had come to the point where, sitting down with me, he was clearly pretty lumpy with jellyfish stings. A swimmer earlier in the week had attempted to do what Chase did successfully, but she was stopped by the thick schools of jellyfish, small and large, that Chase swam through.

If you think that swimming itself is the major obstacle to this sort of feat, you may be correct. But in Monterey, it is instructive to remember that at different points in his journey, Chase swam over kelp forests and a sea canyon over 3,000 feet deep. That's a lot of terrain and the denizens that live there are not so friendly as Flipper. Of course, we only saw the movie Flipper; the real thing might have been a nasty brute. Fortunately for Chase, the dolphins he saw were merely fellow travelers.

Chase has a great story about the "Packing for Mars" style details you won't hear about in the TV interviews. It's a fourteen hour journey and he's got to eat and drink fresh water, which is exactly as easy as he explains it to be in conversation you'll find by following this link to the MP3 audio file.

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09-03-10: Commentary : The Eternal Youth of 'Madame Bovary' : "To be simple is no small matter."

Agony Column Podcast News Report : Bruckner Chase at Blue Ocean Film Festival : "...a breath to your right and look at the moonset over the Pacific, and a breath to your left and see the sun rise over the mountains..."

09-02-10: Commentary : Collecting Philip K. Dick : The Books That Launched A Thousand Films

Agony Column Podcast News Report : BLUE Ocean Film Festival Interview with Ed Lyman and Lou Douros : "In the Wake of Giants"

09-01-10: Commentary : Tim Pratt Finds 'Sympathy for the Devil' : "...Hell for the company..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2010 Interview with Dan Basta at the Blue Ocean Film Festival : "Experiential learning is the way we learn best."

08-31-10: Commentary : Peter S. Beagle Reveals 'The Secret History of Fantasy' : : Telling Lies for a Living

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2010 Interview with Jean-Michel Cousteau : "We need to change. And we can."

08-30-10: Commentary : David Doubilet Captures 'Water Time Light' : Painting with Pixels

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2010 Interview With David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes : "Everything people have always feared about photography comes true underwater."

08-25-10: Commentary : Vendela Vida 'The Lovers' : Reading and Revelation

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A Live Reading and Interview with Vendela Vida At Bookshop Santa Cruz : "...there was an owl that came into this place we were renting one day..."

08-24-10: Commentary : Jeff VanderMeer and 'The Third Bear' : Absurd Is as Absurd Does

Agony Column Podcast News Report : Paul McHugh on the Short Memoir : "Permission is the unobtanium of human interaction."

08-23-10: Commentary : Mary Roach is 'Packing for Mars' : Non Fiction Genre Fiction

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08-20-10: Commentary : Joe R. Lansdale Takes 'Deadman's Road' : Deader Than Thou

Agony Column Podcast News Report : On the Phone with Vendela Vida : "You do all this background information, most of which never makes it into the book."

08-19-10: Commentary : Gary Shteyngart Tells a 'Super Sad True Love Story' : Retro-Prescience

Agony Column Podcast News Report : Gary Shteyngart Live Reading and Interview at Bookshop Santa Cruz : "...please like me, this will make up for Hebrew school if all of you like me.."

08-18-10: Commentary : Mark Pilkington Unleashes Weapons of Mass Deception : "ECM+CIA=UFO"

Agony Column Podcast News Report : David Corbett and Barry Eisler for The Agony Column Live at Capitola Book Café, August 7, 2010 Q and A : "This is NewSpeak."

08-16-10: Commentary : Howard Norman Asks 'What is Left the Daughter' : The Past Always Rises

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08-12-10: Commentary : James O'Neal Copies 'The Double Human' : Proceeding into the Future

Agony Column Podcast News Report : Barry Eisler and David Corbett Live at Capitola Book Café on August 7, 2010 : "If anyone thinks it's absurd that the government might assassinate the founder of WikiLeaks, it's quite a bit less absurd than I wish it were".... — Barry Eisler

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Agony Column Podcast News Report : Barry Eisler Reads at The Agony Column Live on August 7, 2010 : "...they'll pick up that angle and run interference for us..."

08-10-10: Commentary : David Corbett Asks 'Do They Know I'm Running?' : Crossing Borders

Agony Column Podcast News Report : David Corbett Reads at The Agony Column Live on August 7, 2010 : "These Families are making incredible sacrifices..."

08-09-10: Commentary : David Mitchell and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet : The World is Ever the World

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08-06-10: Commentary : Tim Powers Sails 'On Stranger Tides' : History, Fantasy and the Reality of Reading

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08-04-10: Commentary : Christopher Fowler's Peculiar Crime Spree : 'Bryant and May Off the Rails

Agony Column Podcast News Report : Thomas Frank Returns to Agony : Newt Gingrich Alters History

08-03-10: Commentary : Robert M. Price Spins 'The Tindalos Cycle' : Terrorize, Horrify, Repeat

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A Short Chat with Gary Shteyngart : "...the technology is outpacing our ability to absorb what it is doing to us..."

08-02-10: Commentary : A Second Tour Through 'The Passage' : Sending Characters into Time

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2010 Interview With Justin Cronin : "A novel is itself a kind of dream."

07-30-10: Commentary : Subterranean Press and Robert R. McCammon Wake at 'The Wolf's Hour' : The Time Before Cheese

Agony Column Podcast News Report : Three Books with Alan Cheuse : Allegra Goodman, 'The Cookbook Collector,' Noam Shpancer's 'The Good Psychologist' and Elie Wiesel 'The Sonderberg Case'

07-28-10: Commentary : Rule Britannia, In Space 2 : En Route, RJ Frith and Peter F. Hamilton

Agony Column Podcast News Report : Brian and Wendy Froud at SF in SF on Monday, July 19, 2010: Q & A : "The people you deal with at the publishers ... if they last the end of the week, you're lucky."

07-27-10: Commentary : Rule Britannia, In Space : UK Space Opera Demonstrates Excess is Not Enough (Part one, the Arrived)

Agony Column Podcast News Report : Brian and Wendy Froud at SF in SF on Monday, July 19, 2010 : "Well, I thought if I do faeries then nobody's going to say that I've got it wrong."

07-26-10: Commentary : Brian and Wendy Froud Seek 'The Heart of Faerie Oracle' : Cards, Books and a New Perspective

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2010 Interview with Brian and Wendy Froud : "It's all about connection."

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