Thursday, February 28, 2002

Fast Fiction II
While catching up on some old correspondence last night at home, I came across some stories that Dan Buck sent me back in 1998. They didn't make it into the book I edited, but they're good. So I'm publishing them here.

After being shot four times in the feet, Lori wept that her toenails would grow back crooked.

"What'll I do," Lori cried, "when they do?"

When they did, she shot herself in the hands.

"This way everything will be straight," Lori said, "when it isn't."

But the next problem was how she could see clear to straightening her eyelashes.

So Much
Gerold got drunk and smashed his foot in the car door. Three days later, he got drunk while he was recuperating.

"What? You want to go and get drunk again?" Gerold's third wife, Jeanie, said. "Wasn't once enough?"

"I have to," Gerold stammered. "This way it won't bother me so much about feeling better about feeling worse about feeling better."

Burt felt mad and a little sorry that he met Lora. She was always putting him down.

"If you don't stop," Burt said, "I'm going to smash your nose."

When she didn't stop, he hit her on the chin.

"I thought you were going to smash my nose!" Lora said.

"I would have if you hadn't," he said, "raised yourself above my fist."

"That's what you get for the friends you don't keep," she said.

"You're my only friend," he said.

"And with the bruise you gave me," she said, "I'm not that well kept."

That's what I'm talking about.
Search and Enjoy III
In the Washington Post today, Leslie Walker writes about search engines -- how advertisers pay so their listings show up near the top of results; how Microsoft Network, Yahoo, AOL, and Terra Lycos all outsource their search services to the same company; and how Google is struggling to catch up. A good analysis of one of the Web's most widespread -- and understoried -- services.

Thanks to Interesting People.

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Music to My Ears III
A five-pack of new record reviews!

Binge: "One More Cup" CD
Opening with a heavy-metal chunka-chunka guitar riff, this nine-song CD doesn't really remind me of the Binge I saw at O'Brien's. Binge plays passable hard rock, with bassist K.T. Gelwick's vocals being a high point. But for the most part, I find this boring. Maybe it's Paul Marrochello's guitars or the able arrangements that don't leave much room for risk or surprise. Then there's the lyrics. Maybe it's Binge's concept or gimmick, but I can only listen to so many songs about drinking, Johnny Walker, whiskey and coffee, beer, and Mescal before I disconnect. That said, "Lou," which I found irritating at the show, is quite a song -- the backing vocals are well placed, and K.T.'s emotional escalation is done to good effect. At the same time, while the introduction to "Be Gone" indicates that Binge isn't all hard rock and heavy metal, the song strikes me as what might happen if King Diamond were fronted by a woman. The screeching delivery doesn't work as well here, and I now remember why I was irritated at the show. The dark rock of "My Cancer," a song that addresses frustrating relationships, or the faster-paced "Chlorine," which features some interesting vocal effects and good backing vocal placement, might be the most palatable songs -- if you write off Binge's goth-tinged cover of Foreigner's "Juke Box Hero." And I only say that because the blistering punk number "Something More" is so far outside of Binge's oeuvre. This might very well be my favorite song. More of this, please! Binge, P.O. Box 35439, Brighton, MA 02135.

Darryl Leigh Blood: "This Isn't Goodbye" CD
Darryl's moving to Los Angeles, and he recorded this nine-song CD as a sort of farewell. I scabbed my hands the night of the listening party in Jamaica Plain, but I'm really hearing this for the first time today. And it's good. The five-piece (largely encompassing Darryl's eight-track recordings) performs beautiful pop that reminds me of a sleepier Brett Rosenberg, Brian Wilson's pop arrangements, and the DIY masterpieces of Graham Smith and Kleenex Girl Wonder. There's a hesitant aspect to the music, at times tinged with country, and Darry's vocal delivery evokes a quiet Church or even Simon and Garfunkel. The violin sounds on "True Hearts" and McCann Melton's slide guitar on "Unsettling Sweet" are especially nice, as is the banjo-cello interplay on "All Confused." For the most part, Darryl's lyrics are a less-pretentious, personal, and DIY take on Robyn Hitchcock's elliptical poetry. An extremely well self-produced recording capturing many excellent dark pop songs. Be sure to check out Darryl's compilations and other projects on Black Apple.

Clare Burson: "Undone" CD
Clare has moved from Boston to Nashville, but let's consider her a local a little longer, shall we? On the edge of Cambridge's Club Passim singer-songwriter school, Clare blends pop and country in an extremely adept and honest way. These five songs, which make the CD doubly expensive at $10, are excellent examples of Clare's songwriting, and one song even involves T-Bone Burnett on piano, banjo, and drum machine. I had a crush on Clare while we worked together, and he singing certainly doesn't help -- Clare's emotive, halting, interruptive, and melodic vocal styling reminds me slightly of Dar Williams, whom I also adore. Clare's delivery is almost arhythmic at times, which makes many verse lines scan in an off-kilter yet interesting way, and the music is slightly disinterested and sleepy pop country (for lack of a better description) that is energetic and personal enough that, regardless of whether you listen to the CD or see Clare perform, you'll feel like you know her and want to know more. In fact, go see her play in Nashville or Boston -- the CD is short and doesn't quite capture her allure or talent. You can sign up for her mailing list to learn more about her current activities.

Pracky Pranky: "Easter Eve" CD
16 minutes of art-damaged noise from the Paper Radio set. People involved might include Jacob Ciocci and Jessica Ciocci, but who can tell with these fellows? Eerie synthesizer stylings, drum beats and manic tribal drumming, flute, atmospheric guitar, vocal effects, loose strings, yelping, monotony, bleep-blorky keyboards, laughter, Fugs-esque singing, animalistic grunting, more laughter, whistling, drum stick clicking, sleepy singing, and distortion make up these 18 ideas and suggestions of songs. What K-Rad is to electronica, Pracky Pranky might be to lo-fi pop or DIY noise, but I suggest you take this as seriously as Paper Radio does.

The Brett Rosenberg Problem: "Pop Riot!" CD
It's taken me awhile to get to this CD despite having seen Brett and his sister band Army of Jasons play several times. What we have here are 12 solid power pop songs in the vein of the Replacements, the Kinks, and maybe even the Who and Cheap Trick. Dave Aaronoff, formerly of the Shods and another Kinks-influenced popster, sits in on organ for two tracks. The music is energetic and catchy. Brett's vocals are extremely well performed, and this CD cements Brett as one of the most energetic and productive additions to the Boston scene in quite awhile. "What Do You Want Me to Do?" "I still Know You Better," and "New York" stand out. Shay would love this record. Look for a new CD soon.
From the In Box: Today Is My Birthday
Not to worry, dude! Be happy, and look forward to being almost all the way out of your 20's, the decade of hell: I'd say about 75% of the people I know who got married in their 20's are now divorced; from all reports most young folks who recently made their first million before the age of 25 saw it vanish in a puff of smoke before the age of 28; a messy apartment is a point of pride of an active and involved life; and being a whippersnapper is overrated. Better to be solid, certain, smart, and a grownup doing good work that you care about, I say! Cheers! -- Tom Hopkins
Poop Star
Every day, I receive an email from Slate called Today's Papers. It's a brilliant bit of Net journalism, looking at the stories that the major dailies lead with -- and other select features that warrant attention. Like reading the Economist or the Week, Today's Papers is a daily injection of the best of many, many newspapers. I don't read it every day because I don't always have time, but today I did -- and, boy, am I glad! Slate, via the Washington Post, disses Alanis Morissette:

The WP's Style section ponders Alanis Morissette, who according to the paper, "never wavers from total self-involvement." That may explain why the singer elicits such a strong reaction that she's become, "the Hillary Clinton of pop." As one detractor put it, "What I feel for her isn't simple hate. It is an all-encompassing repulsion not unlike what you might feel if you woke up to discover a four-pound cockroach using your toothbrush."

Bump, set, spike!
From the In Box: Today Is My Birthday
Happy birthday! As I approach my own 29th birthday (later this summer), I share your sense of melancholy. Seven years ago (!) there was that rush of being fresh out of school and feeling like a wunderkind of sorts. Now I'm obsessed with every story I read about another successful 24 year old who has just sold his first script or a 27 year old who has been named vice president of whatever at a major studio. But I guess I've been feeling old ever since Madison Avenue gave up trying to market to Generation X and instead turned its attention to Gen-Britney. -- Michael Schneider
From the In Box: Today Is My Birthday
Received a friendly email from Elke Sisco Zimmerman, who publishes Elkit in Wonderland. Recent writing there touches on the currency change in Europe, MTV Germany's "20 Years MTV" special, and cars.

Now we know there are Media Dieticians in Brazil and Germany, too!

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

The Atlantic Under Attack II
An editorial in the Boston Globe says that the rejection letter the Atlantic Monthly sent a middle-aged internship applicant was ridiculous and mean.

Thanks to Jim Romenesko's Media News.
News You Can Abuse
In British Columbia, about 20,000 Vancouver Sun readers received their morning paper last Thursday with a counterfeit front section headed the Vancouver Scum. The prank paper was produced by Guerrilla Media to "raise questions about the BC Liberals’ devastating cuts and the corporate media’s minimal coverage of the impact of these radical changes."

Thanks to Jim Romenesko's Media News.
Today Is My Birthday
I turn 29 today. And I'm kinda sad about that. I'm not married. I haven't made my first million. My apartment's a mess. And I'm no longer the young man who's accomplished a surprising amount. My knees even creak. My left knee, to be exact. But it's a beautiful day in Boston -- balmy spring-like weather! Last night, I had fun at Paddy Burke's with some friends, I met a super-cute girl, and I had a good post-breakup conversation and confusing affectionate goodnight with the ex-girlfriend. I've already talked to my folks this morning, and I've gotten several nice birthday emails from friends and members of the Company of Friends -- even one of my credit card companies sent me a birthday email. Finally, there's an awesome show tonight -- the Indie-Rock Mini-Circus at TT the Bear's. Not bad for a Tuesday!

Those are hints. Because you can help make my birthday even better. "How?" you may ask. A good question. Let me make the following suggestions:

  • Email me.
  • Sign up for the Media Diet mailing list.
  • Visit and post something in the Media Diet discussion forum.
  • Mail a mix tape to the address on the left.
  • Buy yourself a gift -- the Dan Buck book I edited or an Anchormen CD.

    Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday dear Heath, happy birthday to me.
  • Ministry of Misinformation?
    According to Harper's Magazine's Weekly Review, the Pentagon is organizing a new propaganda department called the Office of Strategic Information. This office will "feed news items to the foreign media in an effort to manipulate public opinion," the Review says. "Such items will not necessarily be true." Plans also involve computer network attacks on media organizations that the Pentagon deems "counterproductive."

    Monday, February 25, 2002

    Charlie Park just sent me a reference to a column Semantic Studios' Peter Morville wrote about social network analysis. In the article, Morville considers knowledge management and knowledge work through the lens of the "social fabric that connects people to people and people to content." Useful reading in the context of my recent talk on networking.
    From the In Box: Mention Me! III
    I love FC, and I love Media Diet. I won't burden you with praise, but suffice it to say that I am grateful that I'm not the only one in business that loves punk. Just last night, I went to a show here in Richmond, Virginia, with four bands -- two great and two mediocre. The great ones were Five Flew Over (high school kids playing amazing punk with slight pop-punk overtones) and Brandtson (emo/punk from Ohio... the reason I went to the show in the first place). -- Charlie Park

    Indeed. In the mid-'90s it was heartening to see so many zinemakers getting pro work in media and publishing. Now we just need more folks influenced by punk ideals to get jobs in business. I'm lucky to work with a guy who was active in the DC hardcore scene playing in Iron Cross and No Trend. We've also got several team members who are active in their own bands.

    Now, I'm just guessing, but it might be so that Five Flew Over got their band name from a single released by the Angelic Upstarts in 1983. The song was a B-side to their song "Solidarity." Similarly, folks can learn more about Brandtson on the Web.
    North End Moment III
    In the back alley behind the Scotch & Sirloin, part of the wall has been repaired with a bolt and a cement patch. Just now, I noticed that in that bolt hole, someone had placed a 1998 D nickel with the Washington side facing out. The value of the building in which I work just went up five cents!
    From the In Box: Clothes Whore
    If you don't mind, please enlighten Media Diet readers a bit "about the state of the economy -- and the potential of a new form of personal and professional networking." What did you have to say at BC? -- Clint Schaff

    Well, here's the rough draft of the remarks I prepared beforehand. I didn't totally stick to them in their entirety -- and I went on plenty of tangents, but this'll give you a rough sense of what I talked about.

    Who am I? I'm Heath. Social Capitalist for Fast Company magazine. I’m not a journalist. I’m a community organizer. Title? It’s not about human capital or intellectual capital, it’s about social capital, the value of relationships. Also, there’s room for a more mindful capitalism and business, one that recognizes its impact on people, places, and progress.

    Context of the not-so-new economy:

  • FC was as much a booster of the boom as it was a product of the boom: We presaged the wave, rode it for a spell, and are now edging out of the shallows for the next wave
  • We leaned a little too far in the direction of the Net Economy, which many mistook for the new economy, and took a hit with the rest of the tech publishing sector
  • The economic downturn -- hardly a recession given last year’s increase in GDP -- helped us refocus on some of our core themes: leadership and innovation. Those will never go out of style.
  • According to the NYT today (last Wednesday), the business world -- particularly the advertising and marketing world, where media gets its money -- is tired of thinking outside the box. People are safer inside the box. We should make fun of the people outside of our box. The box is better. Is this true? Even though it’s harder to be an innovative leader these days given tight budgets and hesitant mindsets, it’s still pretty uncomfortable inside the box. Maybe it’s not a matter of being in or out. Maybe it’s the size of the box. Or whether there’s a box at all.

    When times are tough, people are being laid off, and the job market is tight, this is the time when it’s especially true that you are who you know. Personal connections are more important now than before in the boom -- for support, for leads, for learning, for collaboration.

    But networking gets a bum rap, and for good reason. Books on the topic:

  • Power Networking: 59 Secrets for Personal and Professional Success
  • How to Work a Room: The Ultimate Guide to Savvy Socializing in Person and Online
  • Networking for Everyone
  • Networking Smart
  • Here’s My Card

    I’ve read these books so you don’t have to, and believe you me, they’re chock full of silly and questionable advice:

  • Always wear a name tag on the side of your chest opposite from the arm you shake hands with. That way you won’t eclipse who you are when you meet someone.
  • Take a stack of business cards to a networking event and leave them on table tops. Nobody can refuse free stuff, even if it is just your card!

    Too many people mistake networking for schmoozing, looking for work, personally and profesionally targeting people you think can help you. In my experience coordinating the Company of Friends, Fast Company magazine’s 43,000-member global readers’ network, I’ve learned a lot about a new way to network -- a way to build better relationships within and without our organizations and companies. I’d like to share some of those ideas and lessons with you tonight.

    The network isn’t about you. If you enter "networking" situations with a mememe attitude, you might get want you want in the short term, but you certainly won’t build long-term relationships. The network serves itself, and we are all just nodes. So while you consider what you need and what you need to do it, be open and receptive to the needs of others. If you meet someone -- and then meet someone else you think they need to know -- make that introduction. People should pass through us, and if you foster those connections, you can become the go-to guy or gal. That will only serve to further your own personal network. Be a person who knows people.

    Reciprocity doesn’t have to be immediate or even direct. Back to the network being its own beast. If you help someone and they don’t quid pro quo you right away, no worries. Help someone else. Chances are that as your network grows -- and you continue to fuel its fire -- connections and collaborations will come to you via avenues that, while not direct, were paved by your previous connections. You’ll get what you give.

    Be visible, accessible, and responsible. Networking will only work if you’re out there. At work, in class, at events, online. Don’t be shy. Don’t hide in the corner or lurk. Push yourself. The more you push yourself, the more you’ll be seen and heard. The more open and accessible you are, the more people will come to you or think of you. And if you think about the responsibilities we have -- to respond, to assist if we can, to connect -- you won’t be seen as a flake or a fake. If someone contacts you -- and you have no idea who they are -- talk to them. You might be that person tomorrow.

    Networks increase in value as they overlap. Too often, we seek our own kind. MBAs, technologists, personal trainers. This is a mistake. Seek outside experiences to broaden your network horizon. If you’re able to step across the overlap between distinct networks and worlds, you’ll increase the size of your contact pool -- and you’ll open yourself up to some new ideas, perspectives, and connections.

    There are people behind pages. Newspapers, magazines, the Web. It’s not about the pages that make up the media object, it’s about the people behind those pages. If you read something and you have a question, contact the person. If you think you can add to a bigger picture, contact the person. If you know someone they should know, contact the person. Make the media your own by getting behind and inside the stories that interest you. Journalists are some of the most connected people in the world, and while many professional journalists may think it’s not their job -- or objective -- to connect people, grassroots journalists do. Think about what media and medium can mean. A psychic -- someone that spirits pass through. A substance in which organisms -- or a culture -- can live and thrive. The materials used in art.

    Those are some of the things I’ve learned. But what do we do next?

    Having spent some time looking at BC’s online tools for alumni, I have some ideas:

  • Make sure your contact information and professional situation is up to date. Sure, it’s about the school being able to hit you up for donations. But it’s also about being visible and accessible. People can’t track you down if you’re out of date. And if you want to touch base with others, you owe it to them to be similarly accessible.
  • Keep in touch with some of the folks in your class. Sounds dumb, but when folks leave school, they move. And you can now have friends all around the world, working in different industries, working on different things. Use those divergent paths and professions to foster overlapping networks like I mentioned.
  • Go to a local or regional alumni event. I’m guilty of skipping these just like anyone else, but as powerful as our pre-existing relationships are, as powerful as online connections are, the power and potential of the face to face and the local is still the richest.

    There are more than 132,000 BC alumni. That’s a lot of smart people. Tap into that group mind.

  • From the In Box: Fast Fiction
    The following appeared in Warren Ellis' Feb. 24 email column "From the Desk of." It is reprinted with Warren's permission and blessing.

    Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, the British small press movement was based around the Fast Fiction stand at the Westminster Comic Marts. The Comic Marts were super-mini convention dealers' rooms, basically, held once every two months.

    Fast Fiction was a mail-order clearinghouse for small press publications. The Fast Fiction stand at the Marts sold small press comics. All comers. They took a percentage of sales to pay for the table. So a great many people's production time was based around the Marts. You'd have something out every two months.

    It became the absolute focus of the British small press movement. They called it Fast Fiction because that's what they were selling, as far as they were concerned.

    Small press self-publication is the fastest possible reaction to an idea in all of comics. You have the idea, you make it, you print it, you get it out there. The vast majority of comics Fast Fiction handled were whacked out on photocopiers the week before the Mart.

    If I have an idea for a comic right now, the chances are that the earliest you'll see it is eight months from now. Maybe. Takes a year for a Vertigo comic to go from pitch to publication.

    If you have an idea right now, you could complete it to the same level of finish and have it out two months from now. Can take a matter of days to do a minicomic (or a "stripzine", as they were called, back in the Dark Ages here).

    The aesthetic is similar to a band turning an idea into a cassette or a CD in days. Fast Fiction.

    Here we are, nigh on 20 years laters, and there are other options available. There's desktop publishing and printers. There's floppy disks and CD burners. There's cheap home photocopiers. And, of course, there's the Web. I could do a 12-page comic in a day, scan the bastard, and have it broadcast before I went to bed. (I'm not going to, but the
    point is, I could if I felt like it.) That's beyond fast fiction. That's Superfast.

    Superfast is primarily the speed from completion to broadcast. If you feel like being punk about it, it can also be the completion time itself. There have been a few fun pieces in the Superfast section that were whacked out while the idea was still hot, that still communicate the idea clearly despite the rawness of execution. But in giving yourself (as Larry Young suggested)
    something like APE as a deadline -- which is what I think of when I think of Fast Fiction -- or in knowing that you can get it on the Web and in front of the world within moments of the piece's completion... that's what I think of as Superfast.

    Nowhere Girl is Superfast. It was broadcast within hours of being finished.

    Superfast; a thought.

    The Superfast section at the Warren Ellis Forum is a free space for people to plug, annouce, and even display Superfast comics. 2,000 people go through the WEF each day -- and it's not the same 2,000 people every day.
    -- Warren Ellis
    Fast Fiction
    If you're familiar with the book I edited, Dan Buck's "This Day's Wait," you'll know I have a penchant for short, short stories. Pure Content just reminded me to check out Michael Swanwick's Periodic Table of Science Fiction, in which Swanwick's writing a short, short story about every single element known to man. And I recently learned about JP Press' new short, short story periodical Quick Fiction, which is currently seeking submissions between 25 and 500 words in length. Throw in the National Novel Writing Month project, in which participants work to write a 200-page novel in 30 days, and Warren Ellis' Superfast comics creation project, and you've got the makings of a trend!
    Mention Me! III
    Checking out what sites and blogs refer folks to Media Diet, I've been pleased to note that people are starting to build this humble little project into their links lists! Shouts out to Charlie Park's Pure Content, Evan Williams' Evhead, Nonsequitor Lass, and Bradley's Almanac.

    I've been remiss to build a list of links I frequently travel, but as soon as I can figure out how to tinker with my template so the bottom's not so big and grey -- and I can put stuff in the right-hand column -- that will be done.
    The Movie I Watched Last Night VIII

    Friday: I Bury the Living
    A disappointing horror thriller that doesn't live up to its promise. The new chairman of a board that oversees a cemetery starts to knock off fellow citizens as he switches pins on a map of the graveyard -- white pins for the living, black pins for the dead. When he begins to switch the pins back, what could have been an excellent supernatural flick involving the undead falls flat as a weak murder mystery hinging on a labor dispute. There's a drawn out "Night of the Living Dead"-like scene in which the lead sequesters himself in the burial ground's office -- without much suspense -- but the film might have been saved by the protagonist's wise-cracking, heavy-drinking journalist friend and his earnest fiancee who, when they embraced at one point, chirps out, "We might as well get married!"

    Saturday: Something Weird Video's Cigarette Commercials from the Golden Age of Television Vol. 1
    While cigarette ads are now relegated to billboards and print adverts, back in the day there were plenty of ads on TV -- cigarette makers even sponsored game shows and sitcoms. This 90 minute-long video cassette compiles some of those ads, representing the range of narrative styles, musical soundtracks, technological advances, and other aspects that tobacco companies used to distinguish their commodity products from those of their competitors.

    Today most cigarette ads fall on two sides -- those highlighting leisure activities in the outdoors (usually young, beautiful people enjoying themselves on the water... while smoking) and those drawing on the romantic ideal of rugged, working-class Americana (construction workers and ranch hands taking a break from their labors... to light up) -- but the golden age of television offers a more complex view of tobacco companies' marketing strategies.

    I've broken the advertising methods into six categories, all exemplified by spots on the video. What I don't address here is the use of slightly apolgetic humor that deprecates folks' smoking habits -- or the innovative use of music and animation. Here are some examples of the imagery, language, and practices employed by the advertisers.

    Purity and Cleanliness: Kool's snow-fresh cigarettes are as "cool and as clean as a breath of fresh air; the ad incorporates imagery of ice-choked streams. Robert Burns tobacco is slow cured in clean air. Paxton's uniflex, moisture-proof, and vacuum-packed containers keep cigarettes fresh. Kool makes your throat feel clean. "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should." L&M's filters are "pure white." Physicians used to endorse cigarettes, like those from Philip Morris.

    Technology and Design: Marlboro highlights its flip-top box, which remains in wide production today. The Philip Morris multifilter uses rare coconut shell charcoal. Dutch Masters offered a push-up pack for its Cadet cigars. Tareyton produced a cigarette with a white outer tip and an inner charcoal section. Beechnut's foil pack locks in freshness and flavor. Old Gold's filter "steps up flavor." Spring cigarettes air condition smoke with an "amazing electronic process" and microscopic openings in the paper. Kent sports a "micronite" filter. Chesterfield is more perfectly packed, "thanks to Acu-Ray." Winston: "It's not how long you make it, it's how you make it long." Parliament's hi-fi recessed filter is continually tested for uniformity by the United States Testing Co. Chesterfield King's "top-porousity" paper makes the smoke travel farther, making the taste milder, cooler, and smoother.

    Social Networks: A boy remembers an uncle who lived by the sea -- and introduced him to Robert Burns cigars. An airplane pilot is turned on to Newport by his co-pilot after saying that the air at 31,000 is like pure silk. A woman introduces her husband to Philip Morris charcoal-filtered cigarettes. Scripto lighters doesn't want you to offed your friends with a lame Christmas gift. A hunter switches to Newport on the advice of a pal. Dick Van Dyke compares Carol Burnett to a cigarette.

    Celebrity Endorsements: Old Gold introduced its king-sized cigarettes on the game show "Chance of a Lifetime," starring Dennis James. Muriel cigars riffes on Mae West with a couple of ads using the phrase, "Why don't you pick me up and smoke me sometime?" A fey comedian named Ed creates a slapstick display of Camel cigarettes. Dick Van Dyke and Carol Burnett shill for Kent in some delightful sitcom spots. Who the hell was Edie Adams? She was huge in Memphis with her Muriel cigars. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz pitch for Philip Morris. The Flintstones flip out for Winston. Chesterfield sponsored "Warner Bros. Presents."

    Lifestyle Choices: Most of the Newport ads -- while contending that they taste fresh -- are shot on the waterfront featuring people water skiing, boating, and otherwise enjoying themselves. One spot even features a soldier about to board a bus who's enraptured by the seaside scene on a billboard. If you want to appreciate your horse and its newborn, smoke Salem. Go on a cruise and smoke L&M. Chesterfield will help you relax, really enjoy life, and be completely satisfied. Racing sailors indulge in Parliaments.

    Rugged Individualism: A Marlboro spot features a guy who likes to work on his car: "I always smoke when I work. They go together." A stunt man and a marksman like the "smooth, honest taste" of Lucky Strikes. Um, Marlboro Country. Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch. A docking pilot smokes Camels. Construction workers smoke Kents. Rebels complain about Benson & Hedges. Battlefield captains cough on Chesterfield Kings.

    While some of the edits are sloppy, there are several repeated ads, and the Spanish Kent spots and the Muriel cigars/Edie Adams spot are given too much time, this cassette is a welcome introduction to old-school tobacco advertisements.

    Sunday: Magnolia
    A wonderful Robert Altman-like film in which several distinct plotlines weave around each other to create one meta-story. The movie's less about the conjunction and more about the merits of the individual stories, however. In one thread, an NLP-inspired motivational speaker reunites with his dying father. In another, a lonely police officer falls in love with a woman who needs to be saved from herself. A former quiz-show kid seeks love and finds himself committing a crime. And a contemporary quiz-show kid decides to assert himself as a person as the quiz show's host finds his life unraveling at the onset of illness. While the movie is long at three hours, it's interesting to watch how the storylines overlap -- and to keep an eye on tracking shots that indicate just how intertwined the characters' lives really are despite a lack of ongoing interaction.
    Anthology in the UK
    Ninth Art's headline is so good, I'm just going to crib the thing. Britain has a long, long history of publishing, promoting, and supporting anthology comics -- multigenre books that collect ongoing serials. Lindsay Duff takes a look at the history of the British comics anthology, concentrating on such titles as Eagle and Beano, both of which I used to cherish and devour when my English penpals would send me copies.

    While Duff doesn't draw any parallels to other European comics anthologies (a la Stereoscomic, Stripburek, and the like) -- or Japanese manga weeklies, for that matter -- the topic begs a deeper analysis. Why has almost every other country in the world been able to support multi-creator, multi-story, and multi-genre comics titles while the US fell into a default single-story pamphlet format?

    Friday, February 22, 2002

    From the In Box: Comics, Communication, and Community
    Thanks for the blurb, Heath. -- Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert

    He's a man of few words, but, hey, Scott Adams!
    Pet Peeve of the Day
    Receiving unsolicited, promotional email that says, "This is not unsolicited email."
    Anchormen, Aweigh! IV
    The Anchormen are shooting a music video for "Peel Away" this Sunday. Katie Wyka is taking a film/video course through the School of MFA, and the class has been assigned to do a short music video. The Anchormen are always happy to help students.
    North End Moment II
    Standing outside the Scotch & Sirloin building looking at the sun breaking through and muting the edges of the cloudy, cloudy sky:

    A woman walks up and drops an envelope into the FedEx delivery box (last pickup 7 p.m.), stamped mail box (last pickup 5 p.m.), and metered mail box (last pickup 5 p.m.). Three out of four isn't bad, but if she'd also dropped something into the UPS Next-Day Air box (last pickup 7 p.m.), she would've covered all of her bases. Can't be too careful these days.
    Blogging Colleagues
    I work with a fellow named John Ellis, cousin of our esteemed president and a prolific writer interested in business, technology, politics, golf, media, advertising, P2P, and genomics. Since the end of January, he's published the eponymous blog JohnEllis. Recent entries offer his take on Cardinal Law, Microsoft, asbestos, Paul Krugman, and Superbowl adverts.
    Search and Enjoy II
    Hey now, you people. Play nice. I just checked Media Diet's search engine stats:

  • pracky pranky
  • fozzie muppet buddy icons
  • Bizarre Bazaar Ashland
  • mod girl pictures
  • Muppet Baby Buddy Icons
  • hickee
  • heath row is a whore
  • Clip art of a burrito
  • nonsequitor comics

    I am not a whore. I said I was a clothes whore. There's a difference. It's subtle, but it's there.
  • Rock Shows of Note V
    Last night was the CD release party for Piebald's "We Are the Only Friends We Have," released by Big Wheel Records. After a fun drink up at the Different Drummer with some co-workers, I mosied over to the Middle East a little late to catch the tail end of Piebald's set. It was packed. Really fun to see the band enjoying itself so much on stage -- and to hear some many people in the crowd singing along. Seriously, especially during the encore, the people singing along were almost louder than the lead singer. Woohoo for new CD's!
    From Cambridge MIT Love
    Ever wish you could be a brainiac at MIT -- specifically the MIT Media Lab? Well, now you can. At least, you can have fun giggling over some randomly generated research concepts created by the MIT Media Lab Project Generator. Like the old Wired Phrase Generator, this Web site will get your cranial juices flowing.
    From the In Box: Comics, Communication, and Community
    Thanks for the blog link. It was a nice printed article in that it featured The Norm artwork instead of Dilbert, but the review was right on. Cheers. -- Michael Jantze, creator of the Norm
    Comic Book Fandumb
    Ninth Art features an article this week that "examines the great divide" between mainstream and independent comic book store customers. Roxane Grant touches on the elitism expressed by people on both sides of the line, looks at what makes comics sell, and contends that there's no such thing as a "true" comics fan. An interesting, albeit slightly bland, personal commentary.

    Thursday, February 21, 2002

    Humor Me
    In December, I indexed an issue of Blast, a Mad-like humor magazine published in the '70s. I recently obtained a few other non-Mad parody magazines. Occasionally, I will index them. Like this:

    Grin #2, January 1973, APAG House Publications Inc., NYC, NY (40 cents)

    Presented by Gerald Rothberg

    Cover: Gary Burdick photo of a grinning man on the moon. Cover lines: The American Funny Book; Marcus Swelby: Acupuncturist; The Ultimate News Team; The Orangework Clock; Saer Catalogue -- Everything You Never Wanted Anyway; Bonus! Naughty Santa Poster; Plus Grin Xmas Seals; Ralph Nader As the Man from La Mancha.

    p. 8 Orangework Clock w/John Norment, d/Alan Kupperberg and Jack Abel... Movie adaptation in which punks beat up Santa, rape a woman, drink milk, sing hymns, and repent. Spot color (red) in six panels

    p. 19 The Ultimate News Team w/Fred Wolf, d/Jack Sparling... TV newsmen have it out while gorilla cameramen look on and play chess. Plenty of commentary on objectivity, foreign affairs, and crime coverage

    p. 23 All They Need for Xmas Is... w/Fred Wolf, d/Frank Springer... Christmas wishes for Chairman Mao, Peter Lorre, Sophia Loren, Wilt Chamberlain, Timothy Leary, Mama Cass, Nader, and Walter Cronkite

    p. 25 The Grin Catalogue of Xmas, $mas and Sexmas Gifts w/Fred Wolf, d/Tony Tallarico... Your traditional catalog parody taking on gay liberation, makeup, hookers, highjackers, and draft dodgers. Spot color (red) on four pages

    p. 29 Don Quixote w/Fred Wolf, d/Tony Tallarico... Recast Nader as the lead and his presidential campaign is even funnier. Nice Mayor Lindsay panel on p. 33

    p. 38 Grin's Kris Kringles w/Fred Wolf, d/Frank Springer... Damn this Christmas issue! Ethnic reworkings of the holiday's figurehead for Jews, Poles, Blacks, feminists, Danes, and Eskimos

    p. 42 Marcus Swellby, Acupuncturist w/John Norment, d/Tony Tallarico... A mystery, some needles, a monster, and not much else

    p. 50 Grin Christmas Seals w/Fred Wolf, d/Tony Tallarico... A 48-panel Joe Matt-like look at the holiday of holidays. Santa gets a parking ticket, gets shat on by a bird, gets beat up, gets shot at by some interrupted lovers, meets a little girl, and goes to the doctor. By far the best thing in the issue. Tallarico's art is best presented small. Did I mention the spot color (red)?

    Ads: American Cancer Society p. 4, Movie Buys p. 5, Columbia House Tape Club p. 6, Columbia House Record Club p. 36, Circus magazine p. 41
    Extras: Grin Poster #2: "The Spirit of $mas Present"
    Comics, Communication, and Community
    In the Feb. 18 edition of Editor & Publisher, scribe Dave Astor misses the proverbial boat in his feature, "Cartoonists Enter the Newsletter Biz: Several Syndicated Comic Creators Produce Cyberpublications That Are E-Mailed to Their Readers Several Times a Year."

    Mistakes Astor and E&P made:

  • With a head and deck that long, who the heck needs to read the article itself? I mean, come on.
  • E&P, not known for putting much of its content online, decides not to put this piece online. Seems to me that Web-related journalism pieces would be the first to put up on the E&P Web. But no.
  • Even the article itself fails to include URL's or contact information for the mailing lists and newsletters in question. Why tell people about them if you don't tell people how to get involved? How can people learn what people are doing so they can do it themselves?

    I don't work for E&P, but I don't mind doing this work for Astor and his editors (and publishers, I suppose, given the name of the magazine for which he writes). If you'd like to learn more about comic strip-related email newsletters, check out the following:

  • The Dilbert Newsletter
  • The Norm
  • Rhymes with Orange
  • For Better or for Worse
  • Monkeyhouse
  • The Big Picture

    That's all.
  • Search and Enjoy
    More recent search queries that yielded Media Diet hits:

  • heath
  • miss piggy clip art
  • razmig
  • gorgeous girl at a party
  • muppet babies
  • mod bob haircuts

    Now that's news you can use!
  • Right Place, Long Time
    My friend Glenn spent 24 hours in a KMart. This fellow spent 16 hours in a Home Depot. Clever or crazy? You decide.
    Riding the Rails
    Tim Barry, frontman of the band Avail, is also an avid train hopper. Mostly a show promotion and a look at the band, the article also spends some time considering folks who ride the rails -- modern-day and old-school hobos.

    Wednesday, February 20, 2002

    Clothes Whore
    You don't know what I look like, and because of that you don't know that I basically wear the same thing every day. Ratty Vans sneaks, khakis, and a T-shirt. I have a lot of T-shirts -- band, zine, comic, etc. -- and people at work often comment on how extensive my "collection" must be. I just like a well-designed tee; that's all.

    Well, right now, I am wearing a suit. I never wear suits. Oh, weddings, funerals, sure. But day to day? For meetings? Never. The most I dress up is a collared shirt or a sweater, still with the trademark Vans and khakis.

    But right now, I wear a suit. In about 20 minutes, I head to Boston College, where I will speak to about 225 MBA students and alumni about the state of the economy -- and the potential of a new form of personal and professional networking.

    Wish me luck. I'm wearing a suit.
    Blogging About Blogging XI
    My new counter is awesome. I thought no one reads Media Diet, and boy, was I wrong. More than 20 people came by yesterday, and almost 50 have visited so far today. Makes me feel better that this isn't going out into a void. Thanks, everyone. There aren't many of us, but we matter.

    The Counter's premium version even lets me track things like search results that bring people to Media Diet. Let's look at the search engine stats to date:

  • mod girl haircuts picture
  • ernesto priego
  • hand drummer Cambridge MA

    Ha! Yep, if you're looking for pictures of cute mod girls with crazy, crazy bangs and super-sexy curls (sigh); information about Mexican comics theorists; or percussion buddies in the Boston area, Media Diet is the place to go. Believe you me, I'll be keeping an eye on the search engine stats.
  • From the In Box: From the Reading Pile VII
    Boston is so damn small. Dan Moynihan is a friend of mine. I check out Media Diet, and you give him a review. Then I check the next day, and there's a post with an email from him to you. Two random people I know through totally different circles communicating on the good old InterWeb, and I happen to read it. Too funny. -- Brad Searles

    Love that InterWeb! Media Diet readers should know that Brad does a great blog called Bradley's Almanac and rocks out in a fine band called the Also-Rans. He also just shaved his beard. Boston's so small that his beard couldn't fit inside the city. So we made him shave it and shipped the shavings to Rhode Island. Thank you, Rhode Island!
    The Movie I Watched Last Night VII
    Nicolas Cage plays an angry baker with a wooden hand. Cher plays an aging, romantically desperate woman about to make the wrong marriage decision. Her character's parents face similar challenges: Dad's dating a floozy on the side, and mom makes the right call when she has a restaurant liaison with Frasier Crane's dad. Meanwhile, crazy grandpa devotes himself to their pet dogs and the full moon. ("If you give that food to those dogs, I'm going to kick you until you're dead!") True love, the opera, and some missing money from the corner store all conspire to create the happiest of happy endings. Nic and Cher hook up, her former beau is left in the lurch, and mom and dad are back together, forever. So much for affairs, dying mothers, and petty thievery! Features a nice "Pretty Woman"-like scene in which Cher gets gussied up for her night at l'opera. She's gonna wash that man right out of her hair.
    Sites on the Side of the Road III
    After an almost two-month rest at home in the Netherlands (well-deserved after eight months of travel!), Ramon is heading back out on the road as part of his Let Me Stay for a Day project. On the LMSfaD Web, you can read Ramon's diary entries, follow his progress around the world, and offer to host him yourself.
    From the In Box: From the Reading Pile VII
    Thanks for the wonderful review. It's great to hear someone's thoughts on what I do, and to know that I am actually getting something across. Did I send you my latest one, about bugs? I'm hoping to have another wee book done for Beantown Zinetown, too. Have you been to BZ? It's pretty fun -- you should come! -- Dan Moynihan

    I think I might have picked the bugs book up at the Picnic, but I'm not sure. If I did, it'll be reviewed in Media Diet before too long. I went to the first Beantown Zinetown, but I haven't gone to the subsequent ones. I'll try to check it out this year.

    Tuesday, February 19, 2002

    From the Reading Pile VII

    Artfly #3 -- 2002 comic book and calendar (summer 2001)
    The brainchild of FC Brandt and Jesse Reklaw, this 365-panel and 32-page jam comic features more than 100 comic artists. Each month tells a story, and this rivals the Slingshot annual planner as the coolest calendar for Y2K2. I can't imagine the logistical planning this took -- the writing, assigning the art -- but it's amazing. Abe Lincoln kicks some ass, robots fight, movies are made, aliens are thwarted, and people die as folks such as Brian Ralph, Matt Feazell, Trevor Alixopulos (providing art hella better than that in Tenth Frame), Leela Corman, Jason Shiga, Jordan Crane, Tom Devlin, Kurt Wolfgang, and David Lasky lend their pens to the cause. Each month is heavily credited, FC and Jesse offer back story to the calendar, and outtakes -- panels that were overassigned -- are included. Buy this, the Slingshot pocket planner, and the Bizarre Bazaar's Rabble Rouser's calendar, and you'll be overprepared for a whole year. $8 to FC Brandt, 1915 Dufour Ave. #D, Redondo Beach, CA 90278.

    Catching the Moon
    One of Dan Moynihan's relatively new minis, this is the most lush item he's produced to date. With each page painted in watercolor, this is a 12-page story of a boy, a girl, the moon, and how the girl captures said moon in a teacup. A wonderful wordless comic, this mini blends creative production design with heartfelt writing, whimsy, and humor. Dan combines the fantastic with the mundane to arrive at a sensitive sense of serendipity, yearning, and completeness. Excellent. $3.

    Go #3 (fall 2000)
    The description of what the zine Go is -- the inside front cover -- is the best self-publishing manifesto I've read in a long time. Made me sigh. As the "DIY pop, counterculture, art, ideas, and information negazine for the video game generation," and, oh, so much more, Go takes a look at many of the things that make life worth living. This old 68-page issue considers baths, flea circuses, ramen, milk, ketchup, Burmese boy rebels, Mark Bode, and plagiarism. And it features some of the funniest writing I've read lately, drawing on the talents of such pseudonymomous folks as Barnaby Barnacle III, Johnny Ramen (with wonderfully varied and chopped-up English from Chef du Varre), Tony Maggot, Cyrus Pigeonboy, and Dr. Professor Babukaji. Oh! But the best? The interview with Toog, the Parisian musician and poet who answered Go's questions with drawings -- better than the Scott McCloud interview in Wired. More comics interviews, please! I'm sure there have been more issues of Go; it's too, too good. Zine of the batch! $3 to Go, P.O. Box 3635, Oakland, CA 94609-0635.

    A collective effort by Joe White, Marc Overney, Nathan Stapley, Razmig Mavlian, Scott Campbell, and Graham Annable, this 36-page anthology collects 13 stories. Reminding me of the old Zoot comics, Hickee contains several highlights: all of Nathan Stapley's cartoony comedies (Jumping Jeffery even made me laugh out loud.); Stapley's fart joke-inflated appropriation of airplane safety instructions; Scott Campbell's lengthy tale of wishes, avoidance, and fulfillment; ad Razmig Mavlian's bittersweet take on new-found friendship. Almost animated in nature, this'd make a good companion read to Comb-Over. $3.

    Mass Art Newspaper #1-5
    This consistently eight-page project by the folks at Paper Radio is aimed at Mass Art students and other local fans of Paper Radio productions. Combining found art, coloring book reproductions, filled-in Mad-Libs, interviews about slang and cartoons, handwritten music reviews, to-do lists, letters, commentary on recordings of robots, an article on the Pony Patterns, poetry, photography, and assorted in jokes, each issue -- except #5 -- includes the same two-page insert. #5's insert name drops Pracky Pranky and the Pony Patterns, alluding to Paper Radio's musical groups. Among the obsessions: ponies and (again) Canada. While the zines are extensively collage-oriented photocopier art posters, there's little to do with Mass Art or news. Seems to be an on-campus hype organ, albeit mysterious and creative, for Paper Radio's projects and DIY sensibility. Not worth a buck a pop, but maybe if I keep writing about Paper Radio, Ben will start flowing Media Diet some freebies. $1.

    Mattel Psychedelics
    I have either two or four editions of this collage-art poster zine from the folks at Paper Radio. One is a two-page poster featuring collage art, found text, a child's note about tracing (How much of this is found, and how much is concocted? I can't always tell.), and word play. There's a Masters of the Universe reference. The second "issue" might be three editions and an insert or one complete edition. I don't know. Regardless, there's more Masters of the Universe fetishism, found text, iconic record reviews, comic book reproductons, ponies, handwritten letters, Pracky Pranky references, Kool-Aid Man, handwriting practice pages, Real Slow Radio record cover reproductions, and cryptic comics featuring drugs, music, and Jesus. Where do they find this stuff? I have a Pracky Pranky CD somewhere. Must... put... it... on. This is mostly interchangeable with the Mass Art Newspaper in terms of form and content, but the more I read Paper Radio's stuff -- and the more I email Ben -- the less I'm able to distinguish between their art and artificem much less practice and prank. Wonderful, wonderful stuff. Free.

    Product Brainstorming
    I think this purges the last of the Paper Radio-related zines and comics I have in the reading pile for now. Fear not, there will be more, I'm sure. Countering my commentary on previous questionable and throwaway releases, this simple, 16-page mini is an awe-inspiring assortment of names and near-descriptions of products that don't exist but should. It's a facile concept for a zine: Make a list of almost 200 fake products -- and publish it. For the most part, this is an exercise in word play, but some of the ideas are priceless. Examples: Rude 'Tude Talk Back Talkers, Orangatangitude, "ABC, E!: A Guide to Rave Culture," the Psalm Pilot, and Hobo for Hire. Some are products, some are books, and some could be businesses. Venture capitalists, alert! An example of how the Paper Radio gang just keeps throwing out ideas until something sticks.

    Radical Def #6 (summer 2001)
    Published by the Anarchist Agitprop Collective, a recognized Southern Oregon University student club since 1996, this 72-page Slingshot-meets-Lookout! zine is heavy on the reprints, as well as on spirit. Drawing on other sources such as the Drug Reform Coalition, the Anti-Fascist Informational Bulletin, and the Michigan Citizen, ths also includes original content, both addressing topics such as the Lomakatski Restoration Project, ski development on Mt. Ashland, propaganda, student group budgets at SOU -- perhaps one of the best articles in terms of use on the local campus -- and local Green Anarchy organizing. Kind of an activist's hodgepodge, Radical Def definitely serves up a local flavor of activism but not much unity of purpose. Several patron saints are invoked -- Kropotkin, Peltier -- but I get little sense of the editorial personality or mission. Still, if I lived in Ashland, Oregon, or went to SOU, I'd read every single issue of this. $1 to Anarchist Collective, 1257 Siskiyou Blvd. #471, Ashland, OR 97520.

    A Reader's Guide to the Underground Press #16 (summer 2001)
    Formerly Zine World, this is a zine I used to review for. It's an extremely valuable zine review resource -- more valuable than Zine Guide -- that's run by volunteers, a wide-ranging collective of folks with different approaches, opinions, and viewpoints, much less voices. Featuring news about free speech-, privacy-, and micromedia-related news, this 88-page issue also sports a report on See Hear's shoddy consignment sales practices, letters of comment, columns (including a Fred Woodworth-penned analysis of the now-defunct Fine Print Distributors -- also RIP to Puppy Toss, Wow Cool, and Spit-and-a-Half!), classifieds, and reviews, reviews, reviews... ARGttUP's (awkward!) bread and butter. With almost 300 reviews, this is a bargain at $4. P.O. Box 330156, Murfreesboro, TN 37133.

    Snow Monkeys #2
    The best example I've seen so far of Small Publisher's Co-Op's printing, Megan Whitmarsh's 68-page 2000 comic features some friendly comice art akin to Allison Cole and Dan Moynihan. Dotty and Oslo write King Kong and Tin Tin, go on vacation, visit a haunted house with some squirrels, dream of organic chemistry, eat breakfast, watch TV, drink tea with birds, dance, consort with robots, and share their love with a ghost cat. More cute brute comics for you and your girlfriend. Mellow, clever, and sleepy like a Sunday morning. $3 to Tiny Industries, 4782 Pasadena Ave., Sacramento, CA 95841.

    Soapbox Vol. 2 #1
    The 12-page October 2001 issue of this progressive student-run paper, also from SOU, addresses university complicity in deforestation, the campus union movement, bias in student group budgeting, omissions by the Ashland Daily Tidings (a letter to the editor and an ad), global activism, 911, and local activism-oriented events. Thinner but probably more frequent than Radical Def, this is a must read if you live in the Ashland area. The Media Collective, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Stevenson Union #333, Ashland, OR 97520
    Blogging About Blogging X
    Gosh, I haven't even thought about free Web counters for years. Then, just as I'm starting to think that nobody reads Media Diet, Craig of Spoilsport tells me that he received an email from someone in Brazil who wanted to learn more about the band -- because of a recent entry in this very blog. Small world!

    So I got curious. How many people read Media Diet anyway? Courtesy of The Counter, I've added a little attendance taker at the bottom of Media Diet's main page. I'm sure I'll skew the stats -- I stop by here enough myself -- but now the rest of you can know what kind of company we're keeping. Whoah. I feel so 1995 and stuff...
    Attributed to Jessica Mullens, a San Francisco-based PR specialist with Ketchum:

    You see a gorgeous girl at a party. You go up to her and say, "I'm fantastic in bed." That's direct marketing.

    You're at a party with a bunch of friends and see a gorgeous girl. One of your friends goes up to her and pointing at you says, "He's fantastic in bed." That's advertising.

    You're at a party and see a gorgeous girl. You get up, straighten your tie, walk up to her and pour her a drink. You open the door, pick up her bag after she drops it, offer her a ride, and then say, "By the way, I'm fantastic in bed." That's public relations.

    You're at a party and see a gorgeous girl. She walks up to you and says, "I hear you're fantastic in bed." That's... brand recognition.
    Putting the Fun in Fundamentalism
    Rev. Brendan Powell Smith's Brick Testament is a sculpture and digital photography project in which select stories from the Bible are recreated using Lego pieces. I have nothing more to say.
    Comics with a Cause
    The Nation featured a lengthy analysis of the comic strip the Boondocks in its Jan. 28 edition. While I don't think Boondocks is as politically astute or caustic as, say, Doonesbury (a too-easy criticism to make, but there are scarce comparisons in this case) -- and while I rarely think that Aaron McGruder's humor or commentary hits particularly hard, the strip is an anomaly in the funny pages. And for that I've got to give McGruder props. John Nichols' article looks at the role dissent can play in the otherwise homogenized comics section.
    Web Remnants III
    Some blogs you might be interested in:

  • Mumble
  • The Lucubus
  • Nonsequitor Lass
  • Dennis Culver

    All people who frequent the Worst Married Forum Ever!
  • Rock Shows of Note IV
    Went to the Abbey Lounge on Saturday night with my friend Neil from 71 Sunbeam. Cancer to the Stars was a young-ish three piece featuring a lanky singer in a Santa Cruz T-shirt who reminded the folks I was with of Nick Drake. He also had a gothy Danzig quality to his singing. The singing kinda bugged me, and I wasn't too into their music, so I hung out on the bar said with members of Hip Tanaka and the Jack McCoys.

    Next up, Hip Tanaka, an energetic four piece sporting two singers and a laid-back bassist who -- I think -- works at the Middle East. The main singer, who reminds me of the dude who manages Charlie's Kitchen, had an intriguing Jello Biafra thing going on, which added some interesting elements to the band's otherwise Weezer-like power pop sound. The other singer's vocals were mixed up too high by comparison, but the interplay between the two was a lot of fun. A solid band -- and a band that'll play with the Anchormen soon.

    Lastly, the Jack McCoys. Made up of former members of Godboy -- and one of their biggest fans -- the McCoys impressed me with their enthusiastic pop. While I didn't ever quite get into Godboy despite knowing and liking the main man, Dan, I really enjoyed the McCoys. Matt, the singer, had a weird palsied Popeye-meets-Joe Cocker singing style that was a lot of fun to watch. Oh, the faces he pulled! I snagged a CD, so I'll have to review a new batch of local music soon.
    Cartoon Cartoon!
    Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dwyer's "Eltingville" cartoon will air at 11 p.m., March 3, on the Cartoon Channel's Adult Swim. I don't have cable, so if someone could tape it, that'd be rad.

    Thanks to Cardhouse.
    The Atlantic Under Attack
    A Boston-area magazine that's similar to the New Yorker and Harper's -- but aimed at a slightly older and more conservative crowd -- is under fire for turning down two internship applicants because they're... too old. Today's piece is hot on the heels of another story that ran Sunday. Sure, I think it's slightly silly to apply for an unpaid internship if you're in your 40's or 50's, but come on, Atlantic. You set yourself up for this.
    Sax Punk III
    Bhob Rainey would probably challenge my headline to this entry, but he's long impressed me with his saxophone playing and DIY performance and production aesthetic. Crouton Music interviews Bhob at length about how he got into music, his collaborations with Greg Kelley, and the connection between Apollo and Toshiya Tsunoda.
    The Movie I Watched Last Night VI
    Sunday: 10 Things I Hate About You
    Despite some "Rock 'n' Roll High School"-like trappings (the principal, an Eaglebauer-esque school entrepreneur, and a No Doubt knockoff band that plays the prom and ends the movie rocking out on the roof of the school), this is a largely uninspired teen movie that's a rewrite of "The Taming of the Shrew." The plot speaks for itself: Boys want girl, girl can't date unless her sister dates, boy hires boy to date said girl. Needless to say, all's well that ends well, and the jock jerk is left out in the cold. Nice table dance scene that shows why Julia Stiles was cast in "Save the Last Dance for Me."

    Monday: Something Weird Trailers #14: Teen-Age Schlock
    Two hours of B-movie, beach, exploitation, and juvenile deliquency movies. While the tape starts out with the exploitation and JD shockers, it quickly shifts into a relatively run-of-the-mill roundup of American International Pictures' beach boffo buff flicks and rock 'n' roll reels featuring bands such as the Dave Clark 5, Gerry and the Pacemakers, and the Beatles. "Let It Be" is teen schlock? Please.

    Friday, February 15, 2002

    Email I Would've Sent My Ex-Girlfriend II
    The second in a series of occasional Media Diet entries that are basically emails I'd send my ex-girlfriend if she weren't in fact my ex-girlfriend. Previous entry here.

    I am so super sad today, and I'm not sure why. My hand really hurts. Work is slow and quiet. I haven't eaten anything other than Necco candy hearts (and I didn't even read the sayings on them) yet today. And even though last night at the Drummer and Upstairs was a lot of fun, I think that I'm trying too hard to distract myself with activities and things to do.

    Just now, standing out on the sidewalk in front of the office, looking at all of the backed-up rush-hour traffic -- and a USPS truck being hauled along by a tow truck (The mail must get through!) -- I started thinking ahead to what I was doing this weekend. What I'll be doing with people who aren't you. Mexican comics panel tonight and maybe Charlie's with Ana and Tom afterward. Joe Sacco signing at the Picnic tomorrow. Show with Neil tomorrow night. Sunday's open so far. And I almost started to cry.

    I'm glad we have tentative brunch plans for tomorrow morning, because I really need to see you. I also really need to pick myself up, brush myself off, and start all over again because I'm certainly not attractive or interesting to anyone in my current down, underfed, tired, and grousy state. Gah. I hope Media Diet doesn't turn into one of those sad emo boy after a breakup blogs. Because that would suck. I should've taken out the trash last night. I should do my dishes soon. I should do a lot of things.

    Just to close loop on my previous unsent email, I finally fixed those little clay skeleton men I bought in Mexico City. They're now playing cards and talking by the bus stop on my mantle at home as we speak, so to speak.

    It's probably good that I don't send her emails like that. It's also probably good that a lot of people don't read Media Diet.
    Oly, Oly, Olympics Free!
    Thanks to Cardhouse, I am now able to stop my unconscious boycott of the Olympics. I haven't watched any on TV. I haven't read any Olympics news in print. But I will follow the blog B-May, which is currently publishing live from the 2002 winter Olympics. Woohoo! No mo' embargo!
    Game Show Me the Money!: Michael and James
    Over in the Worst Married Forum Ever! there's a discussion about a couple of acquaintances' experiences applying for and competing on Jeopardy! Might make for an interesting parallel read if you've been following Media Diet's Game Show Me the Money! reports.
    Near-Death Experience III
    Rest assured, nothing new -- or bad -- has happened to me along these lines, but my hand really, really hurts today. Really hurts. The right hand, the one I scraped the most skin off of. I wonder if the skin is finally growing back -- neither hand has totally scabbed over yet -- and if the pain (the pain!) comes from new nerve endings that aren't at all pleased by the stretching and movement as I type. Because, ouch, my right hand really hurts. Hey, it even hurts when I'm not typing. Ow.
    Media in Mexico
    Somewhat late notice, I know, but a couple of friends are involved in a panel discussion about Mexican comic books at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard tonight. Here's the 411:

    Historietas in Mexico
    6 p.m., Friday, Feb. 15

    This documentary screening and mini-symposium will explore historietas, pocket-sized comics that offer a raw and subversive view of simmering class hatreds, racial tensions, and gender conflict in Mexican society. Speakers will include Ana Merino, Assistant Professor, Foreign Languages and Literatures at Appalachian State University; Ernesto Priego, National Autonomous University of Mexico; Daniel K. Raeburn, editor of comics magazine "The Imp"; and filmmaker/journalist Greg Gransden. Moderated by Tom Devlin, publisher of Highwater Books. The film will be in Spanish with English subtitles. Discussion will be in English. 6-8 p.m. DRCLAS, 61 Kirkland. Contact: Greg Gransden
    An Open Book?
    A recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer outs Barnes & Noble as a 50% backer of the periodical Book. "B & N's Readers' Advantage discount program, which includes a year's subscription to Book, is responsible for 80 percent of the periodical's remarkable circulation of 1.3 million," writes Carlin Romano.

    Yet Mark Gleason, Book's publisher, insists that the magazine is totally independent and receives no editorial guidance whatsoever from the book store giant. That said, Book's reviews are almost entirely positive, which does give the mag the air of a promotional tool. Gleason says that the positive tone is the result of the magazine's staff wanting to highlight good books -- and not attack people solely for the sake of attack. Instead, the article points out, Book welcomes negative reviews if they're a warning to readers.

    Nevertheless, Book's relationship with Barnes & Noble gives it hella clout in a niche that publishers haven't been able to thrive or survive in before. Because of the B&N connection, "Book's circulation zoomed. Better-known bylines showed up," Romano writes. "The magazine will soon expand to 10 issues a year and double office space for its 25 staffers."

    Seems like a sweet spot for Book -- but a slippery slope, to be sure.

    Thanks to Jim Romenesko's Media News

    Thursday, February 14, 2002

    Magazine Me IV
    There's an article in today's Globe about a bunch of gardening magazines based in New England. Carol Stocker analyzes how major changes in some of the traditional long-running mags -- and how a couple of new publications -- are shaking up the gardening world and better meeting the needs of readers.
    Game Show Me the Money!: Kevin II
    Last August, Kevin F. Sherry was a contestant on Jeopardy!. Media Diet previously interviewed Kevin about his experience. This is the rest of his story.

    After a day of watching and waiting, I was paired up with Ulhas, the returning champion who had already won two shows and $23,799; and Leslie, who sat next to me in the contestant waiting area the whole day making stupid comments. I secretly hoped that she would be on my show. "Jeopardy!" tapes five shows a day, and we were the last to go.

    My palms were sweating so much that I continually wiped them on the felt covering of my podium. We signed in and were ready to go.

    In the first round, the categories were U.K. Dependencies, Bobbing for Bobs (all guys named Bob), Art Attack (vandalized artworks), Actors and their Films, Missing Links (Better Than _____ Pound), and Last But Not Least.

    Ulhas and I did pretty well to start off. I answered the very first (publishing) response: "Who is Bob Guccione?" By the first commercial break, Ulhas had $1,000, I had $1,300, and Leslie had -$100.

    During the chat portion, Alex asked me about the biggest story I had ever covered. I said that it was always cool to watch California wildfires eat up hillsides as airplanes dropped water from the skies.

    After that, we went back to the game. Leslie hit the Daily Double, but could not manage to name the only continent without any permanent residents. I went on to hit six correct responses in a row and closed out the Jeopardy! round with $3,600. Ulhas had $1,300 and Leslie had zero.

    In Double Jeopardy!, the categories were American Historic Events, Everybody Loves Ray Bradbury, I'm in Charge (they name a leader, we name the country), The Animal Kingdom, Taxi (about the show) and "Cab" (each response would have "cab" somewhere in there).

    Again, the battle was between myself and Ulhas. He clicked his buzzer furiously, while I kept mine at my side. I sometimes got into grooves where I buzzed in a millisecond before him. Other times he beat me by the same margin. There were only a few questions total that none of us knew the answer to. Ulhas and I kept switching the lead back and forth as the round drew to a close. I answered a $200 Bradbury question about "The Illustrated Man" correctly (What are tattoos?) and picked the $400 question: "'Dandelion Wine' is based on Bradbury's own childhood in Waukegan in this state." The others stared blankly as I buzzed in with Illinois.

    I chose Bradbury for $600, and that turned out to be the last Daily Double of the game. Ulhas led with $7,500, I had $6,600, and Leslie had $1,600. I wanted to bet big enough to take the lead. But there were only a few items left on the board. If I got the response wrong, I didn't want to be out of reach of Ulhas. So I bet $1,500.

    "The Fire Man" was the working title of this classic Bradbury novel.

    It helped that I once covered a Bradbury speaking event and had him sign my copy of "Fahrenheit 451." If I had known the question would be so easy, I would have bet it all. But I got it right and surged to $8,100. That turned out to be the last question of the round. The buzzer sounded, and I finished $600 ahead of Ulhas going into Final Jeopardy!

    The category: Major League Baseball Team Names. I thought: "This will either be really good or really bad." I'm a big baseball fan and didn't want to blow it.

    We all wrote our secret bets on our screens. Back from commercial, Alex revealed the answer: "This team received its name after an 1890 incident in which it 'stole' away an important player from another team." Think about that for 30 seconds.

    The responses are revealed from lowest score to highest, so Leslie went first. She said: "What are the Pirates?" Correct response. She bet everything and doubled her score to $3,200. Next was Ulhas. He guessed the Red Sox. His bet was $2,500, which dropped him to $5,000. And then me.

    My thought process: I saw the 1890 in the question and knew the team had to be old and somewhere in the east. I ran cities up and down in my mind and came up empty. As the 15-second music began, I knew I had to write something. I thought perhaps it was a trick question, that it was an East Coast team that had later moved. The phrase "artful Dodger" was the only one that seemed to fit even remotely, and that's what I wrote. Wrong, of course.

    They then reveled my bet: $7,000. That dropped me down to $1,100 and third place. After a big gasp from the audience, Ulhas walked away with his third win.

    Why did I bet so much, many people ask? Two reasons. I had watched Ulhas compete in his first two games, so I thought I had a sense of his knowledge base and strategy. In one game he ran an entire sports category by himself. In another, he and an opponent had close scores at the end. Ulhas bet big to win. So I figured Ulhas knows sports and he bets big when the score is close. So I bet enough to beat him if he had doubled his score. Seems I was wrong on both counts.

    Some suggested that I should have bet less, at least to secure a second-place finish for myself. But I didn't even think about Leslie until after the music stopped. I realized that there was a possibility that she could win, which would have been an atrocity. And I was going for the win, not second.

    Ulhas walked away with the cash. Leslie won a weeklong trip to Thailand. Her comment as we were walking out: "Oh, and I've already been to Thailand." Shut up.

    For my efforts, I won a week-long stay at the La Quinta Resort and Spa in La Quinta, Calif, near Palm Springs. I would have preferred something a little farther from where I live, but a free trip is a free trip. They even throw in $200 a day for food and beverages. I have to claim the prize before the end of September 2002.

    All of us also received the "Jeopardy!" computer game, a handheld "Jeopardy!" game that I found useless when I was preparing for the show, and a month's subscription to The New York Times, which is a pretty cool thing to have.

    Before the contest I thought that I would feel crushed if I did not win at least one show. But after reviewing my performance, I felt pretty good. I answered a ton of questions and didn't get a single one wrong (until the end there). I went head-to-head with Ulhas, who was a great competitor, and Leslie, who was on my left. Ulhas went on to lose his next show. He missed the Final Jeopardy! response: "What is Thailand?"

    It was a fun experience, and my weekly hometown newspaper in North Olmsted, Ohio, put a story about me on their front page. It's pretty cool to see your name in the newspaper. I had five fans in the audience to cheer me on, although for Halloween most of them surprised me by dressing as pirates. Ha.

    That's my show in a very large nutshell. Any other questions, just ask.
    Publishing with a Purpose
    Tomorrow's the last day you can sign up as a member of the Soft Skull Nation, a membership organization designed to more actively involve politically and culturally aware people in the production and promotion of Soft Skull Press' books and other activities. Membership has its benefits. In addition to a friendly discount on Soft Skull's publications, members of Soft Skull Nation will also get an inside look at the company's operations, challenges, and opportunities; sneak previews of forthcoming titles; and access to wonderful writing not available elsewhere.

    Projects like this -- and Giant Robot magazine's efforts -- bode well for independent publishing... and media in general. Why can't we subscribe to receive forthcoming books from our favorite publishers? Why can't we sign up for new records as they're released by our favorite indie labels? I think we should be able to, and I think it'd benefit producers of independent media.

    Wednesday, February 13, 2002

    From the In Box: From the Reading Pile VI
    Thanks for reviewing Modern Fascist Quarterly, especially because you obviously really read and absorbed the whole thing. It's frustrating to read reviews, even positive ones, where the writer seems to have just skimmed it. The Winter 2002 edition of MFQ should be out in the next couple of weeks. I enjoyed your Web site; it's a real treasure trove of information. I like how you mix reviews with personal information, like your drinking issues and the CD jewel box info (I don't understand why they don't just make all those things out of heavy duty cardstock instead, like LP's. They'd take up less room, and they wouldn't get those unsightly scratches like plastic jewel boxes). Anyhoo, good job on your Web site and good luck in your future endeavors. -- Trevor Alixopulos
    Sites on the Side of the Road II
    Andy Khouri us going on a road trip. In less than a week, he will post almost-daily diary entries.
    Food, Folks, and Fun
    This past weekend, several friends from DC and Connecticut visited Boston. There was a party. There was a drink up. There are pictures. There are more pictures.

    Tuesday, February 12, 2002

    Mention Me! II
    So. Michael, the dude who does, um, Marmalade Thighs with Scrambled Yellow Hair (Has that always been the name of your blog?), says I got some, well, facts wrong in my previous mention of his blog.

    Well. As a journalist, I'm concerned by this aspersion cast on my character. OK, I admit. I read the phrase, "after six days in Evansville" and "returned to Bloomington" as meaning that he had, yep, left the state.

    But it turns out, I guess, that Michael does a lot of intrastate travel and doesn't pursue the interstate experiences that my experiences have lead me to believe are common.

    I hope he leaves Indiana soon.
    Rock Shows of Note III
    The Upstairs Lounge, a cozy little indie-rock hideaway near North Station in Boston, is now booking shows. Check out one of their first rock sextravaganzas this Thursday -- Valentine's Day -- when a super-secret show featuring the "Organ Grinders" is scheduled. I'll be there, soaking in it.

    The "Organ Grinders" are scheduled to play again Feb. 26 during a special, not-as-secret followup -- and my de facto, default birthday swellebration -- to the Bazaar Bizarre, which people seemed to like just fine.

    Drinks, dancing, dalliances: What more could you look for?

    Um, discuss.
    Radical Radio
    Chris Dodge, librarian for the Utne Reader, says, "I'm compiling an annotated list of best community radio programs in North America. Do you have a show you're especially passionate about? Let me know about it, please, including a short description of its unique wonderfulness. It would be ideal if you could also tell me where and when the show is broadcast, etc."

    If you'd like to recommend a community radio program, email Chris.
    Everything's Coming Out, Rosie
    In her forthcoming autobiography, Rosie O'Donnell will come out of the closet, stepping out even further than she did by playing a lesbian mother in the Jan. 30 episode of "Will & Grace." The CEO of Gruner+Jahr, which publishes the magazine Rosie (nee McCall's), says that the revelation shouldn't affect the magazine, which is already loaded with Rosie's frankness and humor. In fact, Gruner+Jahr will publish an excerpt of the book before the autobio even hits bookstore shelves.

    Full disclosure: I work for Fast Company, which is also published by G+J. Now if only Martha Stewart would take the lesbian leap. Just kidding. Well, kinda.

    Monday, February 11, 2002

    From the In Box: Rock Shows of Note II
    Thanks for the kind words! I'm not sure if you know this, but you reviewed a comic of mine -- Go-Go Girl -- not long ago. I wish I knew you were at the show. I'm glad you like my comics and my band! -- Craig Bostick

    Weird! Craig, who publishes Go-Go Girl, also sings and plays guitar in Spoilsport. It is indeed a small world.
    Rock Shows of Note II
    The day after I took my tumble at Stony Brook, I went back to Jamaica Plain -- and back to Hi-Fi Records -- to see a couple of bands play. First up, my friends Jef and Dave performing as a yet-to-be-named duo. The Awesome Nads, Jef and Dave's new thing, DGXJC, Radio Shaq, or whatever they're going to call themselves were awesome. Using a synthesizer, guitar, boom box, radio, beats burned on a CD, and a handheld audio memo recorder, Jef and Dave rocked the house with a mix of goth, techno, video game, and drama rock music. Someone recorded the performance; it'll be neat to see how the tape turned out.

    Next up, Spoilsport, a sunny pop foursome that'd be equally at home sharing the stage with Junior Varsity and other twee pop bands, or some of the older Bay Area pop-punk wunderkinds. Think Twee Kitten. Or Mutant Pop. Their laid-back and friendly set featured lots of sugary harmonic pop and some country- and surf-influenced numbers, as well. It's a shame Boston's not home to more bands like this. Their sound is refreshing, and their personalities disarming. One of my newest favorite bands.
    Media Diet by Mail II
    I've decided that Yahoo! Groups isn't the best mailing list tool for Media Diet. So I'm experimenting with a new mailing list provided by the kind folks at Cardhouse. We'll see how it handles HTML and other formatting, and if all seems like it's sorted, I'll change the other list URL's and inform the members of the Yahoo! Group.
    A Clean Sweep of Street Spam
    Sick and tired of signs and fliers advertising weight-loss programs and work-from-home scams littering your neighborhood? Get involved in the Citizens Against Ugly Street Spam, an organization that alters and removes offending advertisements in public places, residential neighborhoods, and other locations.

    Thanks to Utne Web Watch.
    Near-Death Experience II
    Two in one week. Not so good. Friday night after work, as I was crossing the street after getting off the T at Stony Brook station in Jamaica Plain, I tripped on a ridge in the middle of the road. One lane had settled and sunk a little, so there was a two-inch or so ledge between the two lanes. My foot caught on that, I stumbled for several steps trying to regain my balance, and then I went down, catching myself on my palms and knees.

    My palms got pretty scraped up. Blood running down my hands. So I hurry to the Hi-Fi hoping that my friend Dave hadn't closed up and gone home yet. He was still there cleaning up for the evening, and he let me in to wash my hands, bandage my palms, and sit out the little wave of shock I experienced.

    It looks like my hands are starting to heal nicely, but they haven't scabbed over as fast as I had hoped. So I continue to wear bandages on my hand -- the one on the right covering almost half my palm -- and I continue to have trouble gripping anything heavy, doing the dishes stinking up my sink at home (I can't see myself submersing my hands in hot dish water quite yet.), etc. Blech. I hate stuff like this.

    Lessons learned:
  • When crossing the street at an unfamiliar or poorly illuminated intersection, always look down; the road surface might be uneven even in a crosswalk.
  • Never jaywalk; I shudder to think what this experience would've been like if I'd been hurrying against traffic.
  • Always keep bandages, anti-bacterial creme, and other first-aid stuff in stock at home so you don't have to go to the drug store to get it when you really need it.

    Hope my hands heal quickly!
  • The Movie I Watched Last Night V
    I'm not sure if I totally understand what really happened -- or whether the protagonist is really who he discovered himself to be -- but, wow, what a mind-blowing movie! The reverse order and overlapping narrative techniques really make for an edge-of-the-seat scenario, and the movie made me question my reality, my memory, and my identity. Awesome.

    Friday, February 08, 2002

    Rock Shows of Note
    As mentioned previously in the Media Diet forum, there was a big, five-band bill at the Middle East Upstairs last night. After hanging out at the bar for a spell, talking to Jef, Steph, and Cheryl -- and making hesitant eyes at a cute girl at the bar -- I made my way with the gang into the Suntan, Circle & Square, Place, Helms, and Victory at Sea show. Man, was it crowded! Filled to the gills. We just caught the end of Circle & Square's set, high-energy math rock performed by a quartet of what appeared to be high schoolers from New York -- one wearing a Les Savy Fav T-shirt, and all of them overjoyed to be there. I wish I'd caught more of their set, but I'll check 'em out later -- didn't pick up their CD because it was four songs for $5. Steep!

    Then, Placer. Another four piece with an interesting makeup. There was an assumedly drunk steel guitar player who made all sorts of goofy grins and grimaces. Creepy! A female bassist who jumped all over the place and sang in a slightly PJ Harvey caterwaul. And a too-tall-for-the-microphone stand guitarist who sang hoarsely and about as atonally as I do. Interesting, but too crowded, too hot, and too loud! I tried to maintain my stamina, but when Placer finished their set I realized that there was no way I could make it through the forthcoming Helms set. Helms is also extremely loud and dense. Punishing. So, sad that I would yet again miss Victory at Sea, I left.

    The walk home was cold.
    Daily Dosage
    My friend and former colleague Dan Pink, author of "Free Agent Nation," just started a blog called Just One Thing. "Each day, just one thing," the blog proposes. So far, it's a good gathering of stuff. Pink provides pointers to a collection of Jay Leno and David Letterman monologues, the Seattle-based Conversation Cafes, and his favorite email newsletter. Welcome to the world of blogging, Dan. Happy to have you here!
    Kill Your Television
    It's old news, almost, but independent television stations in Russia are having a tough go. Just more than a week ago, the Kremlin shut down the last remaining indie TV channel. "TV-6 was brought down by a lawsuit filed by one of its minority shareholders, the state-connected Lukoil petroleum giant, which acted under an obscure bankruptcy rule, since repealed by the Duma (parliament)," says the Independent's Fred Weir. "Last week a Moscow court ordered TV-6 liquidated, even though the network had shown a solid profit and had more than doubled its ratings in the past year." General sentiment is that it was really TV-6's coverage of the military actions in Chechnya and Russian corruption that led to the shutdown.

    Thanks to Utne Web Watch.

    Thursday, February 07, 2002

    North End Moment
    While waiting in line for my lunch order at Mangia! Mangia!:

    Customer: I'd like a chicken sandwich with the works. And a soda.
    Cook: What would you like on it?
    Customer: The works.
    Cook: The works.
    Customer: Oh! And could you throw in some fries?
    Cook: We cook food here; we don't throw it.
    They Want to Pave Paradise
    Word is that the powers that be at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, want to fill in a lagoon on campus and pave a portion of what students, faculty, staff, and alumni call the Lakefill. If you have any kind of NU connection -- or know a current student or an alumnus -- spread the word. A petition is underway to protest the paving of the lakefill.
    Walking for a Good Cause
    My friend Kelly Yan is doing a 10k walk to raise money for multiple sclerosis in April. If you are willing and able, anything you can contribute to this cause would be much appreciated. You can even fill out a pledge form on the Web.
    See You in the Funny Pages V
    Charles Brownstein contributes an impressive roundup of some of the best online comics to the current issue of The Comics Journal. Spend some time perusing the piece -- and be sure to visit the comics!