Alaska Robotics

Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Experimental Beard Radio

Wednesday, May 20th 2009 by Pat


Aaron is leaning towards participating in the “Alaskan Whaler” category and I’ll probably enter the “Slightly Puffy Yet Not So Terribly Impressive” category.

Here’s some of the audio we picked up today. I call it experimental radio because it’s less about beards and more about bagels.

Tuesday morning chatter, bagels and the crappy font game.

What questions should we ask about beards?

Interview with Judy at the information desk.

Fun Fact #1

The sad man with a moustache.

Security guards have things under control.

The general arrives.

Why does it sound rehearsed?

Aaron Sleepy

World Beard and Moustache Championships

Wednesday, May 20th 2009 by Pat

nittiposter09Lou, Aaron, Sarah and I arrived in Anchorage Tuesday morning to document and participate in the World Beard and Moustache Championships, probably the most important event ever to take place in Alaska.

The South Central Alaska Beard and Moustache Club has the honor of hosting the event this year and 2009 marks only the second time that the WBMC has been brought to North America.

We’ve met fascinating people from all over the map and the themes are already beginning to emerge for our mini-documentary. Philosophy, art, sex, love, religion, and politics are all interwoven in this vast tapestry of beards and twirly moustachios.

Another part of our job here is as official correspondents for Wondermark! and KXLL Excellent Radio in Juneau. We’re not exactly sure what that means yet but hopefully we can come up with something useful for them to share with a little wider audience.

The inspired posters for the event were created by Jason Nitti, a creative New Yorker who also works on the Super Useless Super Powers project.

The Moth – Storytelling

Monday, May 4th 2009 by Pat

I’ve recently been enjoying the many humorous and heartbreaking short stories from The Moth. The stories are told in front of live audiences and usually consist of deeply personal, often tragic, journeys through the meat grinder of life. Here are a few I like…

Script Frenzy

Wednesday, March 25th 2009 by Pat


Script Frenzy seems like a good excuse for writers to write. The goal is 100 pages of formatted script during the month of April. The best part is that there aren’t any fabulous prizes and no one owns your work or even has to see it when you’re done. This isn’t a screenwriting competition, it’s a chance to lock arms with other writers and march towards a unified goal.

I’m signed up to participate and, if I can complete it, or even come close, I’ll be well on my way to the completed script for my first graphic novel.

Creative Daemons

Monday, March 16th 2009 by Pat

I’ve been writing a story this past week and I’m starting to make some solid headway. The process has been agonizing, like trying to thread a needle with a rubber band, but it’s been an equally wonderful sense of accomplishment to actually begin putting the thoughts in order.

This TED talk by author Elizabeth Gilbert is a fantastic journey through the creative process and an appropriate redefinition of genius. Many great artists and storytellers recognize that genius is a matter of being moved by something greater than yourself and I love this idea of little creatures flitting about in the walls and stories that will run away to the next author if you’re too busy to sew them down with a pencil.


Monday, March 2nd 2009 by Pat


Just under the wire, I finished my application for the Rasmuson Foundation individual artist project grant. It was Swiss cheesed with spelling errors and chunky grammar but I think I patched up most of the big holes.

This is my second go-around, in 2005, I received $5k from Rasmuson to cover airfare, housing, and tuition at TheFilmSchool. It was an incredible, life-changing experience but the grant application process was terrifying. My work was evaluated and I had to be judged, not just as a filmmaker, but as an artist.

Art involves experimentation and, ultimately, failure. It’s easy to doubt your skill, purpose, and value as an artist because you offer an intangible contribution to society, an immeasurable product of effort.

Above all, art can feel like a monumentally selfish pursuit. It becomes hard to justify why you’re an artist, much less, why anyone should give you free money to put towards your work.

In the beginning, it’s incredibly difficult to begin thinking of yourself as an artist, it feels false, stiff, and uncomfortable… like a new pair of Carharts or unwashed thrift store clothes still bearing an odd amalgamated scent.

I’ve always thought of myself as creative but calling myself an artist is like saying “I love you,” there’s a frightening power and a slice of fierce uncertainty. It’s easier to feel than to say.

Running in the Shower

Friday, February 20th 2009 by Pat

dinoMy friend Heidi recently asked “..when and where and what activity are you doing when you come up with your best ideas?”

  • The shower
  • Late late late at night
  • Walking or running
  • Right before falling asleep

My own answers aren’t different from many of the others I’ve heard but it got me thinking more about the creative process. These activities are all repetitive or relaxing tasks that give me room to disengage mentally and just allow ideas to unravel. It’s like watching clouds float across the sky and I can just pick through the fluff of my brain looking for new shapes and ideas.

There is one other time I find myself incredibly creative and it’s in direct contrast to the lazy, thoughtful bliss of daydreaming. Sometimes the most direct route to creativity is pressure. Deadlines, promises, and the threat of failure are fantastic motivators. Sarah Elliott summed up this type of creativity best when she said —

“I work best under pressure, in fact, I only work under pressure.”

-Sarah Elliott

I was in a meeting last week and someone mentioned that the idea of the starving artist was ridiculous because artists who are starving are more interested in finding food than in higher, contemplative thought. Aside from the numerous historical examples in direct contradiction, I would argue that the pressure of their situation actually leads them to more creative thought. The discomfort of financial instability pushing them towards creative solutions… like Tristan, a college roommate who learned all the edible plant life on campus and made a habit of grazing on the way to class.

Our current economic crisis creates the same sort of pressure and I didn’t intend to bring this around to any specific point but while I’m here, I think the federal bailouts should have been directed at small businesses, non-profits and individuals.

If we had dumped a trillion dollars into jump starting creative programs with intelligent oversight there would have been billions of dollars in failure but all that money would have been flushed back into the economy and the success stories would have become the next wave of Googles, Fords, and Union Pacifics. It could have created a commercial and cultural renaissance. Instead, we’re digging deep to pay salaries for unsuccessful executives and bailing out failed businesses.

There’s no right way to be creative though, you can frantically write a screenplay under a boiling deadline or you can allow inspiration to settle in as you drift off to sleep. I prescribe a balance of both for less jangled nerves and a modicum of efficiency — forced creativity mixed with time for casual contemplation.

Of course, creativity isn’t productivity. I need to go write.


Monday, January 26th 2009 by Pat


I’m like a ragamuffin street urchin gazing into a warm bakery. I’ve busted hump to find and create filmmaking opportunities here in Alaska but they’re few and far between. I wish wish wish we had something like The National Film Board of Canada. The Film Board encourages and supports Canadian artists who share stories, explore social issues, and preserve their culture through film. It’s like National Public Radio, except they’re making movies — which is infinitely more appealing to me!

To celebrate their 70th anniversary, the NFB put 700 films into an online, public screening room. I immediately searched for a film Joel Bennett shared with me and to my great delight, it was included in the collection.

Nahanni is a film that sticks to your ribs. It’s shot well enough but the real meat of the film is in the unbreakable spirit of Albert Faille, a man who carries himself forward beyond reason and without hesitation. He knows his purpose, he knows his goal, he knows his heart and he is undeterred by any force.

This film gets me in the gut.

Note to Bob: Let’s go check out that waterfall!!!


Tuesday, January 20th 2009 by Pat

I went to the Obama inauguration at Centennial Hall this morning. I’ve never seen so many relieved, happy, and hopeful people gathered together to celebrate our country. I can think of countless times I’ve been proud to be Alaskan but I think this morning was the first time – in a long time – that I’ve felt a pride and purpose in being American. It was beautiful.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.

Barack Obama, Inaugural Address

Thank you to the Juneau World Affairs Council for hosting the event and to everyone who attended and filled the moment with so much meaning.

Sex smell lures ‘vampire’ to doom

Tuesday, January 20th 2009 by Slaal

I came across this title to a news story on bbc.  Unfortunately it is not a story about the demise of Dracula in Amsterdam’s red light district, but rather a tale of lampreys in the the great lakes.  And not the good kind of lamprey.  Despite the let down, I appreciate the wandering my mind did while waiting for the story to load.