Friday, June 20, 2014

Jodorowsky's Dune

I just saw a screening of the documentary film Jodorowsky's Dune and found it thoroughly inspiring.  I've read Frank Herbert's brilliant book from 1965 three times and saw David Lynch's 1984 movie version at least fifty times, but I never knew Alejandro Jodorowsky began his own movie adaptation between those years.  Dune has always been a special story to me, and seeing how much of an obsession it was to Jodorowsky is completely understandable.  He and his team of "spiritual warriors" spent years working on his ambitious vision which was eventually turned down by Hollywood, but their intense passion is encouraging for anyone working on a dream masterpiece of their own.  Colin Geddes from the Toronto International Film Festival summarizes the history of the process and the lasting impact it had:

This fascinating documentary explores the genesis of one of cinema's greatest epics that never was: cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky's (EL TOPO) adaptation of Frank Herbert's sci-fi classic Dune, whose cast would have included such icons as Salvador Dali, Orson Welles and Mick Jagger. In 1975, following the runaway success of his art-house freak-outs EL TOPO and HOLY MOUNTAIN, Alejandro Jodorowsky secured the rights to Frank Herbert's Dune - and began work on what was gearing up to be a cinematic game-changer, a sci-fi epic unlike anything the world had ever seen.

Jodorowsky enlisted an elite group of artistic mercenaries, including French comic book artist Moebius, who illustrated the storyboards; screenwriter Dan O'Bannon (DARK STAR, ALIEN); artist H.R. Giger (ALIEN); and sci-fi paperback illustrator Chris Foss. For the cast, he lined up icons ranging from Salvador Dali and Mick Jagger to Orson Welles, and even his own son, who was put through two years of gruelling martial arts training to prepare for his role. Unfortunately, the film was never made.

Director Frank Pavich tackles one of cinema's most enthralling "what could have been" stories, weaving interviews with the charismatic Jodorowsky, his collaborators, and supporters (including DRIVE director Nicolas Winding Refn), together with animation to bring Moebius' storyboards to life. Even though the project exists only in the imaginations of its creators, and as the hundreds of illustrations they left behind, Pavich's documentary chooses not to dwell on failure, but rather celebrates the ways in which the creative dreams of Dune planted seeds for many other iconic films that came after it, from STAR WARS to ALIEN to countless more. This is an inspirational story about the power of the creative spirit, one that establishes Jodorowsky as a master of cinema and a true visionary of our time.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day, Dad!!!

My dad, Paul Helgesen, is an incredible musician, artist,
handyman, and dad.  He's been playing the piano since he
was four years old and still does not read music!
Here is a very pretty song, "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square."
(He had just explained what a bridge is to me.)

My parents had insanely fun parties as we were growing up with the
living room packed with people singing and dancing.  When we were
really little, he'd play "The Elephant March," and we'd sway our
hanging arms with locked hands like they were elephant trunks
as we tromped around giggling.

Whenever Dad asks what to play, I always answer "Boogie Woogie!"

An original creation, always experimenting...

Here is my brother, Nick, playing one of his own songs 
with my dad improvising very well as a third hand. 

Tickling the ivory till it almost pees its pants!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Rubber face

 goofing with my brother Nick

The Shipwreck Tavern

My parents' house is over 200 years old and was built with strange little spaces including a birthing room and a viewing room right beside each other.  My dad converted this 8'x7' room into a tiny tavern that seats two or three at the bar, making for an interesting and intimate happy hour.  

Monday, June 2, 2014


It took "only" 23 years of school, 3 degrees, and 5 more years of exhaustive effort to achieve tenure.  Moe has taught classes at Kutztown University in Composition, Rhetoric & Literacy Studies, Culture and Media Studies, Literature, and Professional Writing and has been sought after by many students wanting to take his classes.  He has presented papers at conferences all over the US and in Europe and has published innumerable scholarly works.  Moe was nominated for the Pushcart Prize for his great non-fiction story, "32nd Running of the Tempus Stakes", in New Letters, as well as earning the prestigious John Schellenberg Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching and Innovative Pedagogy.  
Way to go Dr. Moe!!!