Saturday, April 16, 2005

Live from "The Sun Sawed In 1/2" reunion show

this is an audio post - click to play

I'm at the International Pop Overthrow Festival right now, at Gunther Murphy's. A St. Louis band of some renown, The Sun Sawed In 1/2, is having a reunion show (their first in five years); sitting in with them tonight is my old high-school chum Ken Kase. The attached audio file is a random two-minute snippet from the show, recorded on my cellphone.

UPDATE: There's a photo of the show up now as well, over at my Flickr account.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Sci-Fi Channel announces 2006-07 season

Geeks unite - the Sci-Fi Channel has just announced their 2006-07 schedule, and it includes a doozy of original programming, including eight new weekly series and 28 (count 'em, 28) original movies. Man, if Sci-Fi keeps this up, I might actually have to break down and get cable...

Mac developer trading, really!

From the "Must be seen to be believed" file: Trading cards of MacOS 10.4 ("Tiger") developers. (Thanks to Gizmodo for pointing this out, and I loved their comment: "I apologize for any times I might have implied that Apple wasn't run by total dorks.")

Make your own blueprint photographs

How much do I love MAKE magazine? [-----THIS MUCH!-----] Every day, it seems, they've found yet another half-dozen incredibly cool DIY (do-it-yourself) projects floating around on the web, just some of the most fascinating stuff you can imagine. Here's one from today, for example: How to take photographs using blueprint paper. The actual process is a bit of a pain in the ass (exposures take two to four hours, and you have to have either a large-format camera or print your original photo on a transparency), but man, you should just see some of the spooky images featured at the site's online gallery. I love you, MAKE!

How to avoid common start-up mistakes

Entrepreneur magazine has an interesting article up right now, detailing the 17 most common mistakes new small-business owners make, along with some advice on how to avoid them yourself. It basically boils down to a series of simple yet crucial errors that you see mentioned in business books time and time again - overestimating revenue, underestimating costs, hiring friends who aren't qualified for their positions, etc. - although it certainly is nice to have them all contained in one article, instead of having to search through two dozen books for them. (Thanks to APF BizLinkBlog for pointing this out.)

Canada celebrates the arts on new currency

How cool is Canada? For their newest update to their national currency, instead of featuring government buildings they are celebrating various aspects of daily Canadian life, including images and quotes from various Canadian artists and poets. The themes, based on bill size: $5 - Children at play; $10 - Remembrance and peacekeeping; $20 - Arts and culture; $50 - Nation building; and $100 - Exploration and innovation. First Rush, then Douglas Coupland, and now this! Go Canada! (Thanks to Andrew Taylor at "The Artful Manager" for pointing this out.)

Television prepares for $27 billion customer "screw you"

Wow - according to the research group Accenture, the television industry can count on Americans fast-forwarding through $27 billion in ads over the next five years, using their TiVos and other DVRs. Here apparently is the full story, as reported by AdAge, although you'll need to register with the site before you can read it (which I didn't do, which is why I can't personally confirm this particular link). (Thanks to AdPulp for pointing this out.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Here's what the rest of the world thinks of you dirty, Godless artists

From a recent entry by Ken Layne at

"This gal was on Fox News talking about real estate - specifically, where you might be able to find a semi-affordable house near a semi-civilized town. ...Then the perky real-estate gal explained how you find these places before they get too expensive. I quote from memory: 'First the gays move in, then the students, then there's nightlife and then people realize, My God, something's happening here.'"

The lesson? This is how non-underground artists think of underground artists. You may think that your actions and projects mean nothing to the mainstream populace, but you're wrong - there are millions of simpering idiots and hucksters out there, viewing underground artists as a valuable commodity, salivating every time they move to a new shitty neighborhood, because they know that they'll be selling condos to yuppies in that neighborhood merely ten years from now. It's your job as an underground artist - hell, it's your duty - to screw with this process as much as possible, and to ensure that no one out there is able to make money from you without your permission. You may lose the battles (a lot), but at least you can proudly say that you waged the war to begin with. And make no mistake; in the times in which we currently live, there is a war going on between underground artists and the mainstream population.

Great article on Lonely Planet

The New Yorker has a fascinating article up right now on Tony Wheeler, the founder of the Lonely Planet series of guidebooks. Did you know that Lonely Planet currently publishes over 650 titles? Did you know that they account for 25 percent of all English-language guidebook sales in the world? Did you know that the US military used Lonely Planet Iraq to help determine which historical sites in that country shouldn't be bombed during the invasion? Neither did I! (Thanks to Scott Esposito for pointing this out.)

Google Local for your mobile device

From the horse's mouth: Google now has a mobile version of Google Local, for any cellphone that can understand XHTML (including all Palms, PocketPCs and Blackberries), including maps and driving directions, and I can personally attest that it works fantastically. Finally - after a year now of squinting at full-size maps loaded to mobile devices, I'm deliriously happy that such a great-working small-map site is finally around and working so well.

Good news for entrpreneurs: Angels are back

The Wall Street Journal's has an interesting article up right now, reporting on the second rise of "angel" investors in the US. Angels are investors who are interested in funding new small companies, but lack the tens of millions of dollars of a venture capitalist - they often invest at the beginning stage of a company, when the owner needs seed money to create the things that attract a VC, and usually don't invest more than a few hundred thousand dollars. The good news is that if you're like me and only need a few hundred thousand dollars altogether (I'm seeking $200,000, for example, for this arts center I'm trying to open), an angel can easily be the only source of funding you need to find. The bad news - most angels are looking to invest in companies with a high potential growth rate, like computers or biotech, and not so much the so-called "meat and potato" small businesses, like restaurants, construction companies, arts centers. Anyway, a good place to start if you're interested is at the Angel Capital Association website, a clearinghouse of sorts for angels and angel groups around the US.

Oh, the existential pain of my rubber chew toy

How's this for both hilarious and chilling news? 6,000 people are now maintaining fake blogs at, posing as their pets. That's right, six thousand. Actually, a blog written in the voice of a pet could be really funny, if you found one written by a hyperaware, moody dog: "My enemy the coat hangers showed their face again. Why must you clang against each other so? Bark bark bark! Someday I will vanquish you, vile coat hangers, but for now I must gather the strength to overcome my fear of your brittle noises. Bark bark bark!" (Thanks to the Blogger staff blog for pointing this out.)

Tips for urban bicyclists

Well, it's that time of year again - time for urban bicyclists to get off the bus and hit the road with their bikes instead. Chicagoan Dave Glowacz, otherwise known as Mr. Bike, has a page up at his site giving some really good advice for first-time urban cyclists, including how to best traverse busy city streets, as well as what kinds of lock systems work best in large cities. (Thanks to Gapers Block for pointing this out; be aware that that Mr. Bike page is basically a glorified ad for his book, and that the constant reminders to buy it can really start getting annoying by the end.)

Monday, April 11, 2005

Write a mission statement for your blog

Many of my friends and readers seem to face the same online problem - they're excited about blogs, and want to maintain one themselves, but quickly into it get stymied over what to actually write. Wayne Hurlbert of "Blog Business World" offers an interesting suggestion - try writing a mission statement for your blog, just like any company would do before opening for business. If I was to write a mission statement for this blog, for example, it would probably be along the lines of, "To point my audience to interesting things that already exist on the web, and to sometimes include my own editorial comments concerning those things." That would explain why I've only put up two pieces of original content to this site in the entire time it's been open (an interview with lexicologist Steve Kleinedler, and a review of Yahoo 360), and why my focus is much more on simply finding new and interesting sources of information. On the other hand, the mission statement for my main journal would be more along the lines of, "To talk about my personal life in great detail, and to drum up support for my various artistic projects," which of course then changes the priorities and even writing style quite profoundly from the ones found here.

Maybe the main point of your blog is to share knowledge from the industry in which you work. Maybe it's to disseminate the latest information concerning your family to your relatives and friends. Perhaps it's to promote your creative work, whether visual or literary in nature. Perhaps it's simply to generate an audience by any means necessary, in order to sell online advertisements. Writing a mission statement can help you decide just what it is that you want to do with your blog - and once you do that, I'm willing to bet that ideas for future entries will come more easily as well.

Maybe topless anchors? ...Nah, that's been tried already

The New York Times asks four television veterans this week (Lizz Winstead of The Daily Show, Don Hewitt of 60 Minutes, Mark Burnett of Survivor and Al Primo, inventor of the modern local-news format [news, sports, weather, traffic]) how they would reinvent the CBS Nightly News show. The answers are thought-provoking, surprisingly smart, and definitely sometimes unexpected - Winstead, for example, suggests covering how other networks are covering various topics, while Primo suggests CBS concentrating on covering stories that only an organization as big as CBS can. Definitely worth taking a look. (Thanks to Fimoculous for pointing this out.)

NBA teams now offering RSS feeds

Not my particular cup of tea (sports, that is), but for those who are interested - the National Basketball Association is now offering RSS feeds for all league teams. I'm not sure what the feeds actually contain, but I could imagine some cool stuff - breaking news, info on upcoming theme nights, interviews with players and staff, even maybe a game-analysis-type podcast, sponsored by the team itself. (Thanks as always to Steve Rubel for pointing this out.)

I believe you - Siegfried and Roy really are the Antichrist

From the Associated Press: Cole Ford, a former kicker for the NFL's Oakland Raiders, was ruled this week incompetent to stand trial, for allegedly firing several shotgun blasts at the Las Vegas home of magicians Siegfried and Roy. According to his psych report, Ford's actions were intended to "warn the world of the illusionists' unhealthy danger to them and to animals," believing as he did that the magicians regularly had sex with their animals, and were the singlehanded cause for AIDS in the United States. Hey, I believe you, Cole, and won't let the dissemination campaign die! Well, okay, maybe not about Siegfried and Roy having sex with their animals, but definitely that part about their "unhealthy danger to the world." I mean, come on, $200 to see a magic show? Nobody but the devil would charge that much for tickets.

The journalism scandal you've never heard of

eXile, a Moscow-based publication for English-speaking expatriates, has an interesting article up right now, following the recent scandal in Russia concerning Yevgeny Kiselyov, editor-in-chief of Moskvskiye Novosti. This being Russia, of course, the scandal is endlessly complicated and with no real "good guys" emerging from any camp; as far as I can tell, the whole thing involves Machievellian behind-the-scenes scheming, the collapse of the old oligarchial system of Russia media ownership, and even a grainy home video involving Kiselyov at an amateur S&M group sex party. The point eXile is making, though, is that barely a word of the scandal has been mentioned in the Western media, even though it's a daily top-of-page issue over in Russia right now; they theorize that this is the case because of Kiselyov being a strong pro-democracy, anti-Putin champion, and the Western media not wanting to embarrass themselves by covering the scandal of the one Russian media mogul they've most supported throughout the Putin years.

No matter what side you fall on concerning the issue, it does highlight something of which we should all be more aware - that what we consider "the news," as defined by a relatively small amount of organizations, can be and is influenced profoundly by what the people at these organizations consider to be "the news." It's one of the many reasons blogs and citizen journalism are suddenly such hot issues - because of the growing amount of people who are sick of this small group of organizations dictating what exactly is "newsworthy" and what isn't.

Culinary Institute of America offering free wine class

The Culinary Institute of America (or CIA) is offering a free online class called "A Taste of Wine," as a way of enticing people to take a full course. The class claims to cover three of the world's top grape varieties in detail - where they grow, how they're made into wine, what foods work best with them, and the like. They also outline simple wine tastings you can do at home, suggest various recipes from the CIA archives, and give you your first chance to interact with some of the CIA staff. It looks pretty cool, for being free and all - I'm thinking of trying it out myself. (Thanks to Saucy magazine for pointing this out.)

Endosymbiosis - another term for "you greedy bastards"

From Fast Company: NBC has just inked a major advertainment deal with Maxim magazine - one of the stars of that network's show "Vegas" will be featured on the June Maxim cover, in return for featuring the magazine's "Hot 100" party in an upcoming episode of the show. The article compares the deal to an "endosymbiotic event," defined by evolutionary biologists as a "relationship between organisms which live one within another in a mutually beneficial relationship." I, however, choose to instead use the scientific word "scam," defined as "a series of evermore audacious and foul-smelling stunts by the major media, designed mostly to line the pockets of the executives in charge." Get in your endosymbiotic events now, mass media, before your audience eventually turns against you completely - there's only a certain amount of times you can do this before people at home simply turn your shows off for good, and that day is coming much more quickly than any of you apparently expect.