Friday, February 28, 2003

Music to My Ears XXVII
Charles Foster of Sparklemotion, which I stumbled across while trolling through some Blog Hot or Not sites, points to some music worth listening to. Molly Pitcher is an "alternative-folk" duo from New York. Their song "No One Loves a Folk Song" reminds me a little of the Indigo Girls. He also recommends several songs by Tripod, as played on the Breakfast Show. The songs are classic novelty song material, which would be right up Cory's alley.
The Movie I Watched Last Night LVIII
I'm behind on these, as I watched several movies over the last couple of weekends, but if the Pieces, Particles entries are any indication, I'll all about catching up.

Thursday: The Pianist
After a quick dinner of French toast and strawberries with a Harpoon IPA with Andrea and Lauren at Zaftig's in Brookline, we headed to the Coolidge Corner. I've been trying to maintain a low threshold for experimentation and spontaneous experiences lately, so when Andrea told me they were going to the movie -- and asked if I wanted to join them -- I jumped at the chance. And even though I might not have gone to see The Pianist by myself, am I ever glad I did. Set in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II, the movie details the plights and ongoing flight of a radio broadcast pianist. While Roman Polanski could have easily gone over the top in terms of portraying the atrocities that the German forces exacted on the Polish Jews, most of the violence, while present, was rather tastefully done. Similarly, the cinematographic styling was top notch. There were several scenes that were absolutely breathtaking, including several snow and blowing leaves in autumn shots, and a wide pan of some CGI ruins of Warsaw. The characterizations in the movie were deeply rooted, and I felt a real affinity for many of the characters. Best line, paraphrased: "Weren't you lucky to run into us today? That's the historical imperative in action, as I like to say." A beautiful classical soundtrack, stunning visuals, and a sensitive script made this a beautiful movie. Well worth seeing.
Among the Literati XXVII
Neal Pollack turns 33 tomorrow, March 1. Media Dieticians everywhere, if you're familiar with his work and appreciate it, send him some happies!
Subway Soundtrack IV
This is a silent film of sorts, but David Crawford's Stop Motion Studies concentrating on passengers on the Red Line is a beautiful look at the people who ride the T. Poetry in motion!

Thanks to Boston Common.
Better Fred Than Dead II
Even Neal Pollack has something to say about Mr. Rogers' passing.
Music to My Eyes XI
Pleix is an online community of digital artists, including 3-D artists, musicians, and graphic designers. There's a lot of interesting video work available through the community, but the video developed for Plaid's piece "Itsu" strikes me as especially important today. Equal parts anti-consumer culture commentary, mainstream media manifesto, and economic erotica, it's well worth watching.

Thanks to Memepool.
Sites on the Side of the Road VI
Mike and Nathan are gearing up for more Roadtrip Nation activity soon. They've revamped the Web site, incorporating interviews with the leaders and innovators they meet along the way, and updating folks on their documentary, roadtrip, and book projects. They've also launched the Green RV, an informative email newsletter about their activities. It's an awesome project. And they're good people. We've ridden side by side in many ways since the first CoF Roadshow in 1999. Now, if only they could make a T-shirt that's not in such a ghastly color!
Corollary: Blogging About Blogging L
What's the "official" word on Google's acquisition of Pyra and Blogger? Ev says...

Thursday, February 27, 2003

From the In Box: Better Fred Than Dead
Thanks so much for the beautiful tribute to Mr. Rogers. I have always been a big fan. Interestingly, just yesterday, I was torturing my daughter with my rendition of "You Are Special" (I add a bit of drama and jazz to it to make it extra special). And a friend just said she had watched "The Neighborhood" two days ago, on a whim. He is part of our common television heritage and we are better for it.

When I was a child, my father was an executive at WNET, the New York PBS station. Because of his work, I was exposed to all of those great public television shows for children (as well as Monty Python at a very early age!). My father did not work directly with, but interacted many times with, Fred Rogers. Through the PBS connection, my mother developed a pen pal relationship with Fred (they had teaching and divinity degrees in common), and every year at Christmas we would receive a family Christmas card featuring Fred, the Mrs. and their two sons (who looked very much like him). Fred wrote a lovely note of condolence when my mother died, suddenly, five years ago.

Again, thanks for the thoughtful piece.
-- Mari Guarino
North End Moment XXXIV
As I left Mangia Mangia with my grilled cheese and tomato, tater tots, and cranberry juice, a man with several leather coats draped over his arm stopped me on the street just outside the restaurant.

Man: "Do you know if anyone in there would be interested in buying a leather coat?"
Me: "What?"
Man: "Is anyone in there interested in a cheap leather?"
Me: "Um, no."
Man:"What are they, some kind of f*ckin' cheap people?"

I crossed the street and angled away as quickly as I could -- "Hey! Now where are you goin'?" -- but I have a couple of questions.

  • How much do you think the coats cost?
  • What kind of a man walks down the street selling leather coats off his arm?
  • What kind of person buys a leather coat from a man walking down the street?
  • Nervy, Pervy XI
    Just to show that I am a true Webaissance Man, I'm going to write about Suicide Girls immediately after mourning the passing of Mr. Rogers. Matt wonders "when did Suicide Girls take over from Playboy in the 'I only read it for the articles' department?"

    Yes, Media Dieticians, you've got to pay to play with most of SG's content, but access to its interviews, features, and fiction is free. Recent interviews feature William Gibson and David Cronenberg.
    Better Fred Than Dead
    Fred McFeely Rogers died today, becoming a full-time resident of the Land of Make Believe. His TV show, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, played a large role in the formative years of my life, and I have many fond childhood memories of Mr. Rogers.

    I used to sit on my mom's lap -- or beside her, when I was small enough -- in my dad's recliner watching Mr. Rogers on the local PBS affiliate. I have several Mr. Rogers records, which remain prized possessions because of their mix of gentle homily, slightly out-of-tune singing, and extensive liner notes, lyrics, and positive messages for children.

    Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood was my show, loved more than Sesame Street, Captain Kangaroo, the Electric Company, or 3-2-1 Contact. My mother and I wrote a letter of protest to a local TV station when Captain Kangaroo was going to be canceled. They kept the show on the air, and I received a letter of thanks from the Captain. That, too, remains a prized possession.

    I would have saved Mr. Rogers from stomach cancer if I could have. He was a gift to children, and every time I put on a cardigan sweater or change out of my boots into my Vans at work, I feel like Mr. Rogers. What are we to do? Thanks to PBS, we can listen to some of the songs sung on the show. And thanks to TV Barn, we can read a poetic memorial to the man's life and work.

    I'll miss you, Mr. Rogers. Thanks for helping make me who I am today.
    Business Reportage Goes Boom, Now Bust II
    Red Herring is about to flounder. Its folding might only result in the sale of the name and its subscriber list. Media Life speculates that the Herring's closure will help magazines birthed in the now-empty "new economy" niche better resposition themselves.

    Thanks to Fucked Company.
    Conferences and Community II
    SXSW Interactive is next weekend, and the anticipation is starting to rise. I'll be staying at my friend Rick's new house. I'll be hanging out with zine and comic folks, including Joe O'Connell from Lost Armadillos in Heat and Ben from Snakepit. Evhead will be there. Scott from Meetup will be there. Cory Doctorow, Sandy Stone, and Jon Lebkowsky are hosting an EFF party Monday night, the night Bruce Springsteen is playing in Providence. And I'll connect with some CoF members from Austin and Houston. Should be a blast!
    Among the Literati XXVI
    Some friends of a friend guest edited the current edition of Slope. Slope 17 is an anthology of FU poems. If you ever needed to say FU to someone, here are 25 poetic ways to express how you feel.
    Games People Play VI
    One of the highlights last night -- at least for me -- was playing Radikal Bikers. The game has several flaws -- including horrible graphics and a too-linear narrative -- but it's pretty easy to see past them and get into the game. At least for me.

    Basically, Radikal Bikers is a moped-racing game set in Rome, Italy. As a player, you have your choice of four pizza delivery people, two of whom are scantily clad women. The goal is to beat a competing pizza delivery person -- labeled "CPU" -- to the delivery points. If they beat you, you cry. If you win, you proudly present the pizza box. The game, while full of eye candy, is extremely linear. If you play it a couple of times, you can map a route to winning, and I'd imagine that it gets boring after awhile.

    The game adds some interesting aspects to the race, however, adding shortcuts -- which earn you points when taken -- and special effects such as turbo speed and a power kick so you can destroy cars around you. My favorite parts of the game include scooting through the catacombs, shooting down the side alleys in which laborers are moving boxes, watching the rampaging rhinos escaping the zoo, and cutting through the cemetery, where you encounter zombies. Zombies! And rhinos! Zombies and rhinos!

    I'll go back to the Saloon just to play Radikal Bikers. But another thing that intrigues me about the game is the economic story the game tells. Just as it's bad form to call a cab to pick you up -- and then hop into the first cab you see on the street -- it strikes me as silly that two people would be racing to deliver a pizza to the same customer. The delivery people work for competing pizza places, so that means that the customer called both. Does that happen? Here or in Italy? Wouldn't you have to pay for both pizzas because you ordered both?

    And, and this is the biggest question, did the customer order the same toppings on both pizzas? Future game play may answer all of these questions, and more.
    Corollary: Happy Birthday to Media Dieticians XI
    I promise, this is the last birthday-related entry I'll publish about my 30th. I'm sure you're sick and tired of hearing about my aging. We all age, every minute, every day. How am I different or special?

    Well, last night I felt really special because of the gathering of friends that convened at the Cambridgeport Saloon in Cambridge. Things started slowly at 8, when I arrived to claim a high table by the dart boards and officially open my office hours. There was a small, dedicated crew in the early hours, and then the crowd grew.

    I have many different circles of friends, and they don't often overlap. Last night, they did. In attendance, we had people from work, childhood family friends, people from the Anchormen and Handstand Command, folks I know through the Boston-area Web community, and some people I met for the first time last night. One surprising overlap was that a long-time friend went to high school with some people I know through Handstand Command and the comic shop. I had no ideas our lives overlapped that way, too.

    Around 11:30, we inherited some second-wind friends from work who had spent the earlier portion of the evening at the Enormous Room to celebrate another friend's birthday. Not to claim the party crown, but folks seemed to think that the Cambridgeport Saloon was a better location, and the dart boards and pool tables, as well as the pinball and video games, occupied much of our attention. I hope people had fun!

    Thanks to Emily for working the camera. It was kind of dark in there, huh?
    Event-O-Dex XL
    Looks like a good weekend for music.

    Thursday, Feb. 27: Plunge into Death, Pelvic Circus, Sallie, and Distorted Megabytes at the Choppin' Block, 724 Huntington Ave., Boston.

    Friday, Feb. 28: Palomar, Soltero, and the Mittens at the Milky Way, 405 Centre St., Jamaica Plain.

    Saturday, March 1: Choo Choo la Rouge, Jen O'Connor, Soltero, and the In Out at the Abbey Lounge, 3 Beacon St., Somerville.

    Wednesday, February 26, 2003

    Blogging About Blogging LI
    Hot on the heels of its acquisition of Blogger, Google has started sending legal letters requesting that Web writers not use phrases such as "I googled for Muppet Baby icons yesterday." Welcome to the blogosphere? Unimpressive.

    Trademark protection is an ongoing legal battle -- and expense -- for companies and brands such as Kleenex, Frisbee, Xerox, and so forth. But in Google's case, as I think is true in Xerox's case as well, the terms use as a verb stems from the fact that people use Google to search the Web. While "to xerox" became a generic phrase meaning "to photocopy" and "kleenex" is now used to describe any facial tissue, I don't see this potential danger for Google.

    Sure, "xerox" morphed -- because of the brand's early ubiquity and eventual outpacing by other photocopier manufacturers. And, yes, "xerox" is a silly word. "Google" is even sillier. How can we seriously say "I googled for Muppet Baby icons" if we used AltaVista or AlltheWeb? My prediction: "Google" will never become a generic term for "searched on the Web."

    When I say I googled for something, I mean it. I used Google. And that, my friends, is an endorsement.
    Heavy Petting
    Matt and Mary are now the proud parents of a... puppy. Meet Spike. Order your snapshots today!
    The Days of Whiners and Posers III
    This is awesome. Fucked Company was a little slow on picking up on Bill and Alan's eventual departure from Fast Company, but Pud finally commented on it. (I fully expected the memo we received Monday to show up in Internal Memos yesterday morning, but no such luck.)

    While I had to grin at his claim that we ripped off his logo, I had even more fun reading the comments in the Happy Fun Slander Corner.

    I read Fucked Company every day, but it's been awhile since I've delved into their discussion boards. Know what? Fucked Company readers aren't the brightest bulbs in the box. I'd much rather work for the readers of Fast Company. Glointhedark pens a somewhat clever parody of a Web-only story we published in 2002 that shows some smarts, but otherwise, the Happy Fun hoipolloi are a sorry lot.
    Music to My Eyes X
    Handstand Command has developed an online archive of past show fliers and screen-printed posters from musical groups involved in the arts collective. Most of the posters were created by Jef Czekaj, Tom Devlin, and Christy McCaffrey. Jef's section includes a lot of posters from Anchormen shows.
    Workaday World XX
    From my window at work, I overlook the alley behind the Scotch & Sirloin building -- and Casa Maria, a North End apartment building for the elderly. Every few minutes so far today, my eyes have been caught by a flash of white on the face of Casa Maria. I look up and out every time to see a woman washing the inside of the windows with a white cloth. The white of the cloth catches my eye as she wipes the inside of the windows. So far she's done about 10 windows on five different floors. She'll have been in every room of Casa Maria by the time she's done!
    From the In Box: Happy Birthday to Media Dieticians XI

    Thanks, Shannon!

    Tuesday, February 25, 2003

    From the In Box: Happy Birthday to Media Dieticians XI
    This is just too fun. Media Dieticians are crawling out of the woodwork all around the world!

    Here's an embarrassing snapshot of me and Rupert Ravens, designer of the independent Web site for the New Jersey Metro: Montclair CoF group, taken during the 2002 CoF Roadshow event. He just emailed me this with a birthday wish: "Stop smiling!"

    My friend in Oregon, Su Yim, says encouragingly, "A premature happy 30th birthday to you! You're getting there before I am." Um, thanks.

    Media Dietician Rob Upson says 30 is great "because it's between 29 and 31!" We've got a real math whiz there.

    And my colleague Polly Labarre quoth, "I can tell you from experience that it only gets better in your 30's."

    Oh, happy day. 30, here I come.
    Corollary: Happy Birthday to Media Dieticians XI
    As I may have mentioned in an earlier Media Diet entry, tomorrow is my 30th birthday.

    I was born almost exactly 30 years ago. It was 7:58 in the morning. I weighed 7 pounds and eight ounces. I was 20 inches long. In the last 30 years, I've come a long way. At this writing, it is 5:08 p.m. I now weigh about 150 pounds and top off at roughly 5' 8". I may not have grown much or come a long way, baby, but because tomorrow is the 30th anniversary of my birth, I think it's an eerily appropriate time for me to celebrate my 30th birthday. Spooky, even.

    But this isn't about me. This -- as is the future -- is about you.

    You, then, if you are in the Boston area, are invited to help me recognize and celebrate my many accomplishments, admirable qualities, and endeavors tomorrow night:

  • 8 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 26
  • The Cambridgeport Saloon
  • 300 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge
  • Between Central Square and MIT

    Now, I'm no math major, but if turning 30 means hitting the big 3-0, and if 3-0 does in fact equal 3, then 3 is an interesting number. Let's go on a little mathematic journey. The year of my birth, 1973, plus that 3 yields 1976. That year, you American Media Dieticians may remember, marked a historic, patriotic occasion for the United States. It marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of our fine country.

    Now, I'm no statesman, but to honor and recognize the many men and women who have fought, are fighting, or will fight have fought fighting (or whatever) in the name of our grand homeland, I'd like to propose a new system of social engagement alerts to help you participate in tomorrow evening's festivities -- the Boston Beer Party -- should you choose to do so. This is, after all, a democracy. I call the levels of alert

  • Red
  • White
  • Blue

    "That's easy!" you might say. "Beautiful in its simplicity!" To that, I would reply, "Whoa, Nellie! Hold the phone! I'm not done yet!" On its face, the system may seem overly facile, but the alert codes have meaning. They, in fact, gauge your exact social engagement and investment in any activity, event, fete, or folderol, work related and otherwise. Please make note:

  • Red: I didn't eat anything after work, I was one of the first people to arrive tonight, and I'm not quite sure how I'm going to get home. Is this your beer?
  • White: I can't believe she just threw that dart at that guy's butt. I'm kind of embarrassed to be hanging out with people I met on the InterWeb, but this is kind of fun in a weird way. Hey, she's cuter than she is in Hot or Not!
  • Blue: Calgon, take me away! Is it really that early still? I'm only here because the guy's blog was mentioned in Boing Boing and Evhead and I hope he links to me, the dope. Maybe if I get in his good graces, he can help me become a member of the blogging 3l33t.

    There you go. I encourage you to print this out, laminate it, and put it in a safe place for reference. If you fold it before using a laminating machine, be sure not to fold it so the code level descriptions or the details for the Boston Beer Party are on the inside folds of what you're about to laminate. That'd make it a useless piece of laminated paper. Some people.

    Remember: Red, White, and Blue. If you don't celebrate my birthday, the terrorists win.
  • Corollary: Business Media Reportage Goes Bust, Now Boom? III
    Some random snaps from this morning's all-hands meeting:

    Tele-Phony II
    I just called my parents in Wisconsin and misdialed by one number. It's amazing what a difference one digit can make.
    The San Francisco Ex-Examiner
    I interned for the San Francisco Examiner back in 1994 when it was still run under the joint operating agreement with the San Francisco Chronicle. My experiences there, while good, helped me decide to get out of newspaper work. The Fang family's ongoing abuse of the paper makes me glad that I no longer work there, for sure. What a sad, sad state of media affairs in the Bay Area. A city like San Francisco should easily be able to claim two quality dailies.
    Event-O-Dex XXXIX
    It's a toss up tonight:

    6:30 p.m.: Harvard Business Review's new editor, Thomas Stewart, will speak to members of the Northwestern University's Medill Alumni Club and the American Society of Business Publication Editors at the Holiday Inn Newton.

    7:30 p.m.: Sarah Frederick, Erica Friedman, and Kerey Luis will discuss "Schoolgirls & Superheroes: Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Japanese Animation" in MIT's room 4-370.

    Let's see... anime or business? Anime or business?
    Business Media Reportage Goes Bust, Now Boom? III
    Around 4 p.m. yesterday, Fast Company's founding editors, Bill Taylor and Alan Webber, circulated an internal memo announcing that their roles at the magazine were changing and that we're going to be looking for a new editor in chief. The Boston Globe's D.C. Denison and Chris Reidy somehow got a copy of the memo, and in today's paper, there's a story on their job shift. The article quotes directly from the emailed memo, positions the transition within the context of the current economic downturn and changing face of business media, and speculates what might happen next.

    I've worked here since July 1997. I was the 17th employee. And it's been an amazing time. Bill and Alan aren't leaving entirely, but some relatively big changes are sure to come. Can't wait to see what this next stage in our evolution and development brings!
    Workaday World XIX
    Despite a relaxing and delicious pre-birthday dinner with Hiromi at Centro and an early bedtime, I couldn't sleep a wink last night. Just before 5 a.m., I decided to suck it up, stop faking coming slumber, get up and get out.

    The sun is rising slowly over Casa Maria, and I was struck by how different the 5:30 T commuters are from my usual crew. Dour-faced elderly people, grizzled middle-aged men, and Latino workers joined me for my short hops on the Red and Green lines, and I was pleased by how uncrowded the platforms and train cars were.

    I stopped by Mangia Mangia for an egg and cheese and an OJ, and I was slightly surprised -- and pleased -- that they were open at 6. Joe was one member of the restaurant's early-morning skeleton crew, and he had this to say:

    Joe: You're up early this morning.
    Me: Yeah. I was glad you were open.
    Joe: I'm not. You wouldn't like keeping these hours.
    Me: I'm not here every day.

    Heartless? Maybe I could get used to this early morning thing. It's not even 6:30 and I've already gotten up and out, eaten breakfast, and read the newspaper. Hello, world.

    Monday, February 24, 2003

    Workaday World XVIII
    I came in at 9 this morning to find more than 650 emails delivered since 6 p.m. Friday -- many of them regarding a recent reminder notice sent to Company of Friends members who haven't confirmed their memberships yet. Just now, at 5 p.m., I'm caught up on my customer-service email replies. Checking my Out Box, I've sent almost 200 individual emails today.

    This is what I do.
    Magazine Me XXIV
    Adbusters is seeking cool hunters:

    We're looking for help with an upcoming issue of Adbusters -- we're hunting for images of "cool" from outside American culture. By cool we mean everything that is hot, hip and dripping with brand-power, of course, but we're also digging into the older meaning of cool: the outsider, the honest dissenter, the subversive. If you come across magazines from outside the U.S. and Canada that express either of these meanings of cool, please send them our way (we prefer that you send an entire magazine). If what you send makes it into Adbusters, we'll make sure you get a free copy of the issue when it hits the stands.

    Aiden Enns
    Managing Editor
    Adbusters Magazine
    1243 West 7th Ave.
    Vancouver BC Canada V6H 1B7
    Radio Raves II
    Streaming live to my laptop as we speak, so to speak, the jazz show on WNUR-FM. Phoneathon runs through this week Wednesday.
    On the Blend IV
    While I haven't kept up my smoothie every morning plan since December, I do have two or three smoothies for breakfast weekly. And I've been refining the recipe. Stopping my early tofu experiments, I've moved onto vanilla yogurt. There's just something about Stonyfield Farm organic lowfat vanilla yogurt, and I can get through a 32-ounce tub in about a week. Delish! I've also been adding two tablespoons of wheat germ to the smoothies. For the first time this weekend, on Nancy's recommendation, I cut up the bananas I had on hand and put them in little baggies in the freezer. I think that'll cut down on my throwing away of browning bananas, and it means I don't have to add ice cubes to the mix. Frozen bananas are totally the way to go. This morning, I was fresh out of frozen raspberries, so it was a blueberry-only day. Yum, smoothies.

    Friday, February 21, 2003

    A friend got her first wrong number SMS this morning. It said, "Do u want to go to the mall later will mom take us."
    Rock Shows of Note LV
    Oh, I am burning too brightly as I near my 30th birthday. Last night, Kurt called around 9 saying that he was going to TT the Bear's to see Tim Easton play. Some friends and former bandmates of Kurt's now play in Easton's back-up band.

    I arrived in time to catch a lengthy set by Jay Bennett and Edward Burch. The club was all a-twitter because Bennett's the guy who "got kicked out of Wilco." Word is he plays a role in I Am Trying to Break Your Heart. They performed a solid set, albeit long, and I spent much of the evening chatting with Kurt and Geraldine. In fact, I didn't really pay much attention to Easton at all, and I went home way too late for a weeknight.

    Dragging my feet today, Media Dieticians, and it's so beautiful and warm outside. And, adding mystery to misery, I somehow skinned my knuckles last night. I have no idea how I scraped my right hand so. Sigh. Tonight's going to be a quiet night inside, occupied by dishes, laundry, recycling, and the television. I'm getting too old for this.
    Corollary: Television-Impaired VI
    Pitchfork has published an article about the indie-rock leanings of Dawson's Creek, and the inclusion of local yokels Choo Choo la Rouge on said show.

    It's an interesting look at how music is selected for TV shows -- and the impact that inclusion might (or might not) have on a band's "career." Interesting trivial tidbit: The Dawson's Creek Music Guide lists every song played in various episodes, complete with links to bands' Web sites, cross-referenced mentions of other episodes a musical group was featured in, and descriptions of the scenes during which a song was played. You can even compile your own soundtrack of songs from the show.

    Now if only my copy of the Gilmore Girls soundtrack would arrive, already!
    Magazine Me XXIII
    Reasons You Should Read Sports Illustrated Even If You Don't Like Sports:

    1. Steve Rushin. The senior writer's Air and Space columns read the way good letters from the editor should: personal, poignant, and principled.

    2. The Show. This two-column roundup of one liners penned by David Letterman's head monologue writer, Bill Scheft, offers ample fuel for the water-cooler fire.

    3. Faces in the Crowd. Few magazines have celebrated the Everyman -- here represented by junior, high-school, college, and other workaday amateur athletes -- as visibly or consistently.

    4. The annual swimsuit issue. Meow!

    5. You are -- or you know -- a man. Sometimes, knowing a little about sports, just a little, can be useful. And reading SI is hella better than watching sports, for crissakes.

    Thursday, February 20, 2003

    Corollary: Games People Play V
    Here are some snapshots fresh from the Bucket Ball tournament. Get your game on.

    The object of our desire: The bucket.

    Referee Daigo explains scoring to Andrew.

    Dan gets in the zone...

    ...prepares to throw...

    ...and misses!

    The fans in the cheap seats cheer, nonetheless.

    Keeping score.

    Showing team pride.

    Twintern Paul gives Rob a run for his money.


    More from the floor.

    Wicked Dixon!

    A close call.

    Murdoch checking the schedule

    "Oh, let's check the rules to see if that counts."

    Game over.

    As soon as the BBL releases the official scores and statistics, I'll file another tournament report.
    Hiking History IV
    The Boston World Explorers' Foundation gathered this past Sunday for its second expedition. On the coldest day of the winter to date, on the 80th anniversary of the opening of Tutankhamen's tomb, and the day before the Blizzard of 2003, foundation members delved into the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston.

    The Intrepid Explorers:
  • David Belson
  • Hiromi Hiraoka
  • Shannon Okey
  • Michael Reed
  • Heath Row

    Here are some architectural, cultural, and historical highlights we explored in Beacon Hill.

  • Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, who introduced kindergartens to Boston, operated a bookstore at 13-15 West St. The site, next door to the modern-day Brattle Book Store, is now a parking lot. Margaret Fuller, edior of The Dial, held discussion salons in the shop. And Peabody, an active feminist, was the model for Henry James' character Miss Birdseye in The Bostonians.

  • The Boston Alms House, one of the country's earliest poor houses, was located at the corner of Beacon and Park streets.

  • Between 1848 and 1888, there was a reservoir complex located in the block delineated by Hancock, Derne, Bowdoin, and Mount Vernon streets, directly behind the State House. Water stored there was piped in 15 miles from Lake Cochituate in Natick. Today, nothing remains of the squat, imposing, fort-like structure.

  • Much of Boston Common and Beacon Hill covers land purchased from William Blackstone, one of Boston's earliest settlers. After one of the early colonies failed, Blackstone remained behind with his library of 200 books, making a wilderness home near a spring supposedly where Louisburg Square is now. A plaque at the corner of Beacon and Spruce streets also supposedly marks the location of Blackstone's house. Louisburg Square is the site of the first home owners' association in America. The precursor to the condo associations of today, residents ringing the square share upkeep costs to maintain the fenced park area. And each parking space is deeded to a resident.

  • William Dean Howells, editor of The Atlantic, lived at 4 Louisburg Square. He also hosted the Saturday Club discussion salon.

  • Lucy Stone, an abolitionist and suffragette, edited the Women's Journal out of 5 Park St.

  • Julia Ward Howe, writer of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" lived at 32 Mount Vernon St. She wrote the hymn at 24 West Cedar, the former home of abolitionist Wendell Phillips. She also held meetings of the Radical Club at 13 Chestnut.

  • Edwin Booth, the actor brother of assassin John Wilkes Booth, lived at 29A Chestnut. He was performing in a play in Boston at the time of Lincoln's killing. Upon hearing news of the shooting, he skipped town.

  • Robert Frost lived at 88 Mount Vernon. Henry James' father and sister lived at 131 Mount Vernon. The view of Beacon Hill, the Charles River, and Cambridge detailed in chapter 20 of The Bostonians may have been the view from their home. Mount Vernon was once called "Mount Whoredom" because of Beacon Hill's former reputation as a red-light district.

  • Not far from the Charles Street Meeting House at the corner of Mount Vernon and Charles is the converted fire station that housed the cast of Real World Boston.

  • Acorn Street is a cobbled, privately owned street. It's arguably Boston's most photographed street -- sure enough, when we approached it, some British tourists were taking pictures! -- and among the city's narrowest.

  • Pinckney Street traditional separated black from white Beacon Hill. (When the wealthy moved into the North End, they pushed out the previous black residents. Then, after the Beacon Hill neighborhood was filled in using soil from Trimountaine, the wealthy followed the blacks there, too. Henry David Thoreau lived at 4 Pinckney. Louisa May Alcott lived at No. 20. The House of Odd Windows at No. 24 has no two windows the same on the side facing the street. Workers renovating 62 Pinckney in the '20s discovered hidden chambers that were used to house slaves along the Underground Railroad.

  • Phillips Street also features Underground Railroad stops. Fugitive slaves stayed in boarding houses paid for by members of the Committee of Vigilance, an abolitionist group organized by Julia Ward Howe's husband. Samuel Gridley Howe also founded the Perkins Institute for the Blind.

  • Rollins Square, a cul de sac that opens off of Revere Street, dead ends at a fake house. The fa├žade, complete with pillars, window shutters, and a rocking chair, blocks a 20-foot drop to the street on the other side.

  • Lastly, even though Buzzy's is gone, part of the former Charles Street Jail remains near the Charles/MGH T stop and Mass General. Its central building, which will be incorporated into a new hospital/hotel complex, was built in 1849 at the end of Boston's Granite Age. It was crowded and miserable for inmates and closed in the '80s.

    Thanks to everyone who participated! "We may not know where we're going, but we've read a lot about it."

    Sources: Philip Bergen, Old Boston in Early Photographs, 1850-1918; William Corbett, Literary New England; Fodor's Boston '96; Walt Kellley, What They Never Told You About Boston; Greg and Katherine Letterman, Walking Boston; and A. McVoy McIntyre, Beacon Hill: A Walking Tour
  • Music to My Ears XXVI
    Bug Bytes is a reference library of digitized insect sounds. Eerily beautiful ambient sounds that, if you listen to too many, may just give you the creeps.

    Thanks to Memepool.
    Games People Play V
    Some co-workers invented a new sport called Bucket Ball. The first Bucket Ball tournament starts tonight at 5 p.m.
    It's an Ad, Ad, Ad, Ad World XXIV
    As if a world in which Maxim shills hair dye for men and Hustler revitalizes seedy strip clubs wasn't bad enough, the female-oriented surf clothes maker Roxy has teamed up with MTV and HarperCollins to create a TV show and book series about girl surf culture. Buy the book, wear the pants.

    Shades of DC Shoes' Project Detention show. Is that still airing?

    Thanks to Bookslut.
    Event-O-Dex XXXVIII
    One for the day planners:

    Saturday, March 29: Beantown Zinetown 6 will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Mass College of Art Gym in Boston.

    Thanks to Lisa Off My Jammy.
    Radio Raves
    WNUR-FM is one of the best college radio stations in the country, if not one of the best radio stations period. I DJ'd there between 1991 and 1995 while a student at Northwestern University, hosting the jazz, folk, and Shaking and Stomping show (surf, rockabilly, and garage).

    WNUR's annual pledge drive -- Phoneathon -- starts tomorrow.

    Please consider supporting WNUR 89.3 FM this year (between Thursday, Feb. 21, through Feb. 27). The Jazz Show on WNUR runs Monday-Friday from 5 a.m. through 12:30 p.m., giving everyone in Chicago and all over the world via our Webcast 37.5 hours of jazz every week. WNUR depends on its listeners for financial support -- Northwestern University only pays for transmitter-related expenses, basically just enough enough to keep our signal up. Everything else in our budget (programming-related expenses, repairs, replacements, upgrades, etc.) comes from the money we raise.

    Check out WNUR's Web site starting tomorrow morning to see all the premiums we're offering as gifts to our donors. The Jazz Show is offering over 80 different CDs that are representative of the music we play over the air. If you think non-commercial, independent, and local jazz programming in Chicago is important, then this is a great way to show your support.

    That's just the Jazz Show's email solicitation. You can check out WNUR's programming schedule online, as well as learn more about Phoneathon.

    I give WNUR money every year. And I don't even mind not receiving the premiums.

    Wednesday, February 19, 2003

    Happy Birthday to Media Dieticians XI
    I turn 30 next Wednesday.

    People tell me that that's kind of a big deal.

    Friends and family ask me what I'm doing to celebrate.

    I'll tell you what I'm doing.

    To honor all past, present, and future university teaching assistants and professors, I am holding office hours.

    That's right: Office hours.

    If by "office" you mean "bar."

    (I'm totally serious about the "hours" bit. Turning 29 was hard enough. 30 should be a cakewalk. If by "cake" you mean "beer." And if by "walk" you mean "drink.")

    The essentials:

  • Heath Row's 30th Birthday Office Hours
  • 8 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2003
  • Cambridgeport Saloon
  • 300 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge
  • (Between Central Square and MIT)

    Any and all Media Dieticians are invited. Come and go as you wish. Bring friends and family members. Bring quarters for the jukebox.

    Quoth the Boston Phoenix, "The Cambridgeport Saloon is no den of bigotry; it's not even a very rowdy place. There are just as many MIT students and townie sports fans hanging at the bar as there are skinheads. But thank God the latter have taken over the jukebox, which cranks out a collection of '77-vintage UK punk and early American hardcore as extensive as you're likely to find in any bar."

    Quoth the MIT Tech, "The Cambridge License Commission has voted to require the Cambridgeport Saloon to hire a security guard on weekend evenings to patrol the sidewalk outside the bar."

    Thank god it's Wednesday. And thank you for your attention.
  • Event-O-Dex XXXVII
    Friday, Feb. 21: Lloyd Arthur (saxophone and guitar) and Frank O'Dell (drums) perform a free spazz jazz show at 8 p.m. at Twisted Village Records on Harvard Square.
    Corollary: Big Brother Is Watching XII
    Portland, Oregon-based attorney Bert Krages has developed a legal handbook for photographers, as well as a downloadable guide to your rights as a shutterbug. Quoth Krages:

    The right to take photographs is now under assault more than ever. People are being stopped, harassed, and even intimidated into handing over their personal property simply because they were taking photographs of subjects that made other people uncomfortable. Recent examples include photographing industrial plants, bridges, and vessels at sea. For the most part, attempts to restrict photography are based on misguided fears about the supposed dangers that unrestricted photography presents to society.

    Ironically, unrestricted photography by private citizens has played an integral role in protecting the freedom, security, and well being of all Americans. Photography in the United States has contributed to improvements
    in civil rights, curbed abusive child labor practices, and provided information important to investigating crimes. These images have not always been pretty and often have offended the sensibilities of governmental and
    commercial interests who had vested interests in a status quo that was adverse to the majority in our country.

    Photography has not contributed to a decline in public safety or economic vitality in the United States. When people think back to the acts of terrorism that have occurred over the last forty years, none have depended on or even involved photography. Restrictions on photography would have not prevented any of these acts. Similarly, some corporations have a history of abusing the rights of photographers under the guise of protecting their trade secrets. These claims are almost always bogus since entities are required to keep trade secrets from public view if they want to protect them. Trade secret laws do not give anyone the right to persecute photographers.

    The Photographer's Right is a downloadable guide that is loosely based on the ACLU's Bust Card and the Know Your Rights flyer. It may be downloaded and printed out using Adobe Acrobat Reader. You may make copies and carry them your wallet, pocket or camera bag to give you quick access to your rights and obligations concerning confrontations over photography. You may distribute the guide to others provided that such distribution is not done for commercial gain and credit is given to the author.

    Thanks to Interesting People.
    Big Brother Is Watching XII
    Attention, trainspotters! A student at Haverford College was arrested last weekend while working on a homework assignment in Philadelphia. As part of the Cities project, the student was taking pictures of SEPTA facilities when he was arrested, detained for a few hours, and eventually released. Word is that taking photographs of public transit facilities is cause for arrest during "Code Orange" alerts.

    Thanks to Interesting People.

    Tuesday, February 18, 2003

    It's an Ad, Ad, Ad, Ad World XXIII
    Ogilvy & Mather in Toronto has created an ad spot for the Television Bureau of Canada's awards, the Bessies. It's a well-produced and bittersweet short film about the birth -- and death -- of an idea.

    Thanks to Media Dietician Laszlo Perlorian.
    Corollary: The Blogging of Business
    Well, one of my questions about how AlwaysOn plans to incorporate members' voices outside of comments and discussion posts has been addressed. In my in box yesterday was an email from Tony Perkins that reads:

    AlwaysOn wants your opinion! But it has to be 600 words or less.

    AO is your site. I would like to extend you a personal invitation to tell the rest of us what you think. This opinion piece should be 600 words or less, very specific in its point, and ideally supported by a few data points and a few links to other sites.

    Once you have a proof-read version of your contribution please feel free to send it to me at this e-mail address. We look forward to seeing what you come up with.

    We now have over 6,000 members, and when you browse the member profiles you can see that it is a pretty smart group. So in addition to our regular correspondents, we wanted to open up the site to our most thoughtful members.

    In the next version of the site (v.75) we will be adding a member blog room so everyone can go at it. And we will be posting the entries that get the most views and highest ratings on the home page. Any other suggestions on how you think we should evolve the site would be appreciated.

    Seems like they're heading in the right direction!

    Monday, February 17, 2003

    Comic Books and Commerce
    Ninth Art's Paul O'Brien asks: Has Marvel sold its creative soul to the anti-smoking lobby?
    Blogging About Blogging L
    Google just bought Pyra Labs, maker of Blogger. Congratulations, Ev! And happy President's Day.

    Thanks to Interesting People.
    Event-O-Dex XXXVI
    The Zeitgeist Gallery in Inman Square in Cambridge is hosting an exhibition of original comic art featuring R. Crumb, Dan Clowes, Rick Altergott, Ariel Bordeaux, Jack Davis, Greg Cook, Art Spiegelman, and others through the month of March. "Comics as Art" can be seen at 1353 Cambridge St., Cambridge.
    Comics and Community VIII
    The March 2003 edition of Wizard includes an item about an interesting music-and-comics collaboration between Jim Mahfood and DJ Z-Trip. Now that Mahfood has moved to LA, he's done some "live art" at the El Rey Theater in December. While Z-Trip played hip-hop and funk music, Mahfood threw up some giant murals. Word is they intend to do more comics collaborations in the future.
    Comic Book Collections IV
    Not so much comic books as s-f and punk-rock fanzines, here are two interesting DIY archival opportunities.

    Per the September 2002 issue of Locus, and as mentioned here Aug. 2, 2002, the University of Calgary Library acquired the s-f book and magazine collection of William Robert Gibson, who died at the of 92 in 2001. Gibson's collection spans Jules Verne's 19th-century work to the 21st century's cyperpunk writing. It also comprises pulp magazines from the 1920s-1950s. The library estimates that it needs to raise $500,000 to clean, preserve, catalog, and house the collection, which will be open to researchers. Email Blane Hogue, director of development, information resources, for more information.

    And in Maximumrocknroll #236, Mykel Board says that the Salt Lake City Library System is paying cash money for non-newsprint zines. Mail materials to Brooke Young, Salt Lake City Public Library, 209 E. 500 S., Salt Lake City, UT 84111 -- with a bill -- and the library will send you a check to cover the donation. Board's already sent them some stuff and gotten his.
    Pieces, Particles XIII
    With the onset of winter in Boss Town, I've been spending some real quality time on the Big Blue Couch at Church Corner. I hope to keep up with my clip file more frequently, and I apologize for the daunting entry that follows. That said, the following media-related stories recently spotted in print publications might be worth a look. Heads and decks, only. Heads and decks.

    Alternative Voices on Campus by Emma Ruby-Sachs and Timothy Waligore, The Nation, Feb. 17, 2003
    Progressive journals are key in creating a movement, but they lack support

    Are You Addicted to TV? by Martiga Lohn, Natural Health, January/February 2003
    You can turn it off whenever you want, right? Or can you? Find out what TV is really doing to you and how altering your habits can change your life

    Big Brother Is Also Being Watched, with a New Alarm by Eleanor Heartney, The New York Times, Jan. 26, 2003
    Even before 9/11, artists were looking at issues raised by a society of surveillance

    Blabberwocky by Scot Lehigh, The Boston Globe Magazine, Feb. 9, 2003
    We've all begun to talk in media-driven stupid-speak, clipped cliches and solecisms that amount to a verbal virus

    Bone: The End, Wizard, February 2003

    Boston's Logan International Airport by Douglas Corrigan, Airliners, September/October 2002
    Gateway to New England

    Cable TV System Uprooted, and Some Russian Immigrants See Vestiges of Totalitarian Past by Andy Newman, The New York Times, Jan. 5, 2003
    A building manager cuts off reception of a Russian-language channel

    Charles N. Brown: The Joy of SF by Jennifer Hall, Locus, September 2002

    Community Rallies to Aid Creator, Wizard, February 2003

    Copyright Monopolies by Andrew Shapiro, The Nation, Feb. 17, 2003

    Culture Change by David Goodman, Mother Jones, January/February 2003
    Does the selling of Stonyfield Farm yogurt signals the end of socially responsible business -- or a new beginning?

    Dial Again by Roger Angell, The New Yorker, Feb. 10, 2003
    On the Ameche

    Doctor, My Eyes by Joel Achenbach, National Geographic, February 2003
    How we watch TV ads

    Doing Their Own Thing, Making Art Together by Holland Cotter, The New York Times, Jan. 19, 2003
    A new movement of collectives, with names like rock bands, harks back to the 60's (an uncool notion for these digital-age multitaskers).

    E-Epistles by Anjula Razdan, Utne, January-February 2003
    A letter-writing revival

    Fear of a Punk Planet by Ivan Kreilkamp, The Nation, Jan. 13-20, 2003

    Flash News by Geoff Edgers, The Boston Globe, Jan. 26, 2003
    Call them reality videos. They show young women willing to life their shirts, and 4.5 million were sold last year

    The Forest for the Trees by Michael Ackerman, The Big Takeover, No. 51

    Game School's Finest Minds by Mark Schone, Rolling Stone, Feb. 20, 2003
    Meet the young stars of a university devoted to video games -- they're the happiest dorks in college

    Get Ready for the Blogs by Leif Utne, Utne, January-February 2003
    Making good on the Internet's promise of a global village

    Getting Your War On by Camille Dodero, The Boston Phoenix, Oct. 25, 2002

    Here at GQ by Martin Beiser, GQ, September 2002
    Notes on forty-five years of ascendancy

    Here Comes the Fuzz by Richard Linnett, Advertising Age, Jan. 13, 2003
    Bat Boy crosses the line

    The Hidden Life of Art Supplies by Sara Zaske, Sierra, January/February 2003

    Holy Rock 'n' Rollers by Lauren Sandler, The Nation, Jan. 13-20, 2003

    How to Write a Catchy Beer Ad by Chris Ballard, The New York Times Magazine, Jan. 26, 2003
    Footballs, guitars -- and twins -- turned a commercial into a phenomenon

    The Hush of History by Cate McQuaid, The Boston Globe, Jan. 26, 2003
    Not all at Quabbin is a watery grave; relics of people and towns remain

    Just Plain Folks Write Songs, Too by Jon Pareles, The New York Times, Feb. 9, 2003
    For decades, song-sharking has preyed on naive, hopeful amateurs. But sometimes the racket can turn up winners

    Ladder to Success by Joanna Weiss, The Boston Globe, Feb. 9, 2003
    Step by step, publicists help turn shabby area into hip new district for Boston's martini crowd

    The Lost Art of Reading the Newspaper at Night by A.J. Jacobs, Esquire, February 2003

    Major Labels' Century-Long Abuse of Artists (and Customers), and Why Things Are Finally Starting to Change by Jack Rabid, The Big Takeover, No. 51

    The Man Who Wasn't There by David Wild, Rolling Stone, Jan. 23, 2003
    Being the director of Adaptation and the skate-punk husband of Hollywood royalty is one thing. Being able to talk about it, well, um...

    A Meter Man with a Mission by Marilyn Berlin Snell, Sierra, January/February 2003

    Mexico City's VW Bugs Are Headed for Extinction by Tim Weiner, The New York Times, Jan. 5, 2003

    Mobile Afterlife by Katie Fehrenbacher, ReadyMade, No. 5
    Where do cell phones go when they die?

    New Plaque Marks the First Home of the Globe by Karla Kingsley, The Boston Globe, Jan. 25, 2003

    Not So Funny by Mike Miliard, The Boston Phoenix, Feb. 7, 2003
    "Comic" strips get serious about life

    Online Treachery by Lazlow, Playboy, February 2003 (?)
    Net gaming has become a sinister playground for lurkers and assholes

    Orville Poundridge's GQ by David Kamp, GQ, September 2002
    A scrapbook of the century past

    The Power of Music by Ann Powers, The Nation, Jan. 13-20, 2003

    Practical Publishers by Phil Hall, The Hartford Courant, Oct. 17, 2002
    Online magazines succeed by holding down startup costs, sometimes to zero

    The "Public Interest" by Bill O'Driscoll, The Nation, Jan. 6, 2003

    Real People by Jenn Shreve, ReadyMade, No. 5
    In advertising's new reality, the ultimate sales pitch is you

    The Reconnection by Chris Wright, The Boston Phoenix, Jan. 24, 2003
    Two years after his break-up with WBUR, Chris Lydon is back in business

    Scientists Make Music with DNA, The Boston Globe, Jan. 19, 2003

    Social Climbing by Blaize Wilkinson, ReadyMade, No. 5
    How to be an urban tour guide

    Spambusters by Jacqueline White, Utne, January-February 2003
    How to rid your inbox of penis enlargement offers

    Spammers ISO Respect by Brad Stone, Newsweek, Dec. 30, 2002/Jan. 6, 2003

    Straight to Video by John Mankiewicz, The New Yorker, Feb. 10, 2003

    Tangled up in Spam by James Gleick, The New York Times Magazine, Feb. 9, 2003
    Those unwanted messages have become the bane of the Internet. Why we can't just say no

    Teen Beat by Mark Singer, The New Yorker, Jan. 13, 2003
    What happens when a high-school weekly is the only newspaper in town

    That Sucking Sound by Neal Pollack, GQ, February 2003
    Gimmicks, antics and ironic distance. Who needs real talent when you've mastered punk-rock foolishness?

    TV on DVD: A-OK by Matthew Gilbert, The Boston Globe Magazine, Jan. 26, 2003
    Several television series are now available on disc, meaning a longer afterlife and maybe even better programs in the future

    Urban Legends by Michael Azerrad, The New Yorker, Aug. 12, 2002

    Utopia 2.0 by Leif Utne, Utne, January-February 2003
    Play games, build a future

    Video Underground by Mike Miliard, The Boston Phoenix, Oct. 25, 2002
    Indie film finds a home

    Voices of America by Tom Sinclair, Entertainment Weekly, Feb. 14, 2003
    For 50 years, ordinary folk have paid to have their verse set to music. Now song-poems are being hailed as art

    Wall Street Journal Bigs Up NME!, New Musical Express, Jan. 4, 2003
    Financial bible acclaims our role in breaking new talent on both sides of the pond

    Was Romenesko Rebuilt in a Daze? by Greg Mitchell, Editor & Publisher, Nov. 25, 2002
    Forget Iraq, Osama, and the ad-revenue blahs: When a favorite Web site gets redesigned, all hell breaks loose in media land

    What It's Really Like... to Give Birth on Television by Stephanie Karp, Parents, February 2003
    We agreed to let a camera crew videotape my labor and delivery and broadcast it to millions

    When Uncle Sam Wanted Us by Paul Rauber, Sierra, January/February 2003
    To Vice President Dick Cheney, conservation is just "a sign of personal virtue." In World War II, it was every citizen's duty

    Why Information Will No Longer Be Free by Michael Scherer, Columbia Journalism Review, January/February 2003

    Zen Is Not a Perfume by Jan Chozen Bays, Buddhadharma, Fall 2002

    If you work for a magazine and would like to sign me up for a complimentary subscription, please feel free to do so. My address is in the grey bar over on the left.
    Digesting the Daily VIII
    Recent editions of the Daily Northwestern, the student newspaper of my alma mater, featured several media-, technology-, and activism-related items that might be of interest to Media Dieticians.

    MTV correspondent battles stereotypes, bad music
    Asian American dishes on celebrities, making it big, in front of crowd of 200
    (Jan. 14, 2003)

    A paper monopoly
    Norris Bookstore is where NU gets its texts -- but what happens if service falls short?
    (Jan. 16, 2003)

    How Norris cornered the market
    (Jan. 16, 2003)

    TV star visits As-Am class
    Actor Shin tells class about difficulties of getting minority roles in television
    (Jan. 16, 2003)

    Lord of the lingo
    NU library employee has mastered the mystical tongue central to Tolkien's trilogy
    (Jan. 17, 2003)

    Pick-A-Prof posts profs' grade history on the Web
    Site already in place at 50 universities; NU has no plans to go beyond CTEC
    (Jan. 17, 2003)

    Double trouble
    Rumor that Olsen twins will attend NY proves false but funny
    (Jan. 29, 2003)

    Weekend detention to the Daily's editorial team for thinking that Janeane Garofalo's stand-up appearance on campus was worth so much ink. The Jan. 17, 2003 edition of the Daily features two (2) feature stories about the show, taking up about half of the front page (both with jumps inside). Sure, the pieces are theoretically different. Raksha Varma reports on Garofalo's act, and Jennifer Leopoldt interviews the comedian by phone. But the two stories might have worked much better if combined into one story -- and perhaps included in one of the paper's two feature sections. Access doesn't warrant so much coverage, and unless it's a hella slow news day in Evanston, you wasted a front page. Janeane's great, but she's not all that.

    If you work for a college newspaper and would like to sign me up for a complimentary subscription, please feel free to do so. My address is in the grey bar over on the left.

    Friday, February 14, 2003

    Corollary: The Blogging of Business
    Ev points something out about AlwaysOn that I didn't catch on to. By hooking AlwaysOn's membership database into, AlwaysOn is able to offer advertisers and sponsors real-time access to the users' demographics. Ev read the service's privacy statement, which I failed to do -- I usually just breeze on by stuff like that -- and it indicates that AlwaysOn will only share aggregate information to third parties, not the individual user data that affords. "Sounds like a blatant violation," Ev concludes.
    Music to My Eyes IX
    Liz Enthusiasm's new "Stakeout!" video for local synthpop band Freezepop is perfect for Valentine's Day.

    Happy Valentine's Day, everybody!

    Thursday, February 13, 2003

    Workaday World XVII
    L'esprit d'elevator:

    Fellow passenger: Bitter out there!
    Me: Cold, today.
    Fellow passenger: Just booked a ticket to Myrtle Beach. In April.
    Me: Two months away!
    Fellow passenger: If only I can make it.
    Me: Count down those days.

    Yes, Media Dieticians, it's cold in Boss Town today. Seems much colder than 17 degrees. Sheesh.
    North End Moment XXXIII
    I just saw a dark blue delivery van with the URL printed on the passenger side door. No Web site exists at that URL. What's the point?
    Blogging About Blogging XLIX
    Sorry to be so blog-specific today, but that's the way the ball bounces some days. Meg's got a new game going. Blog Logic brings the online community together to discuss why they blog. Andcetera. I just signed up, and posts to date address, well, the value of blogs and online communities.

    Thanks to Doc Searls.
    Media Meet Space IV
    My colleague Dan Cederholm went to Dave Winer's live blogging session at Harvard on Tuesday night so I didn't have to. Dan Bricklin took photos. Other folks wrote about it, too.

    I kinda wish I'd have gone.
    Comics and Community VII
    Savant's Kyle Rivest has declared March 3 Read a Comic Book in Public Day. Here are his guidelines:

  • The comic book you read has to be in pamphlet format.
  • Locally made mini-comics are encouraged, but not required.
  • Only one comic book.
  • If you make your own comics, it has to be someone else's book that you read.
  • It has to be in a public place where people can actually see you.
  • It must be a book you enjoy and would be willing to recommend to a complete stranger.

  • Right on, Kyle. Here's to March 3!

    Thanks to Bookslut.
    The Blogging of Business
    Fortune's David Kirkpatrick wrote this week about the new AlwaysOn insiders' network for "chiefs, geeks, investors, boosters and wonks." Created by Upside and Red Herring founder Tony Perkins, AlwaysOn is billed as a "spontaneous and uncensored arena" in which members can share their business experience, ideas, and insight.

    Ostensibly combining business reportage and blogging, AlwaysOn strikes me instead as a business news service with comment and discussion tools. Organizing material in more than 10 categories, including the Always On Generation, Real-Time Economy, and the tumble-weed town of the Underground Web (perhaps indicating the site creators' limited knowledge of independent net culture), the site is currently relatively quiet, despite a growing membership roster. While Perkins' 10 commandments are praise-worthy, I'm not convinced the service, albeit young, deserves Kirkpatrick's praise and hype.

    Instead of representing the "Ebay-ization of media," AlwaysOn strikes me as a business-oriented Electric Minds as it was at launch. There's site manager-created content -- and member commentary and discussion. That discussion is bolstered by a robust membership directory, complete with contact information, which will further member interaction off site. But Perkins' use of the word "blog" is worrisome. Perkins calls the site's editorial entries "blogs." He also calls member comments and discussion posts blogs. But as newsworthy as blogs have been and will be, AlwaysOn includes extremely limited self-authoring tools. I cannot find a way to add my own entry, much less a dedicated personal blogging space.

    In the end, if all we're doing is responding to what others have published or written, the success of something like AlwaysOn will rest squarely on two things: the value of its staff's editorial content -- and the personalities and participation of the people reading that content.

    But is AlwaysOn blogging? I'm not so sure.

    Wednesday, February 12, 2003

    From the In Box: Comics and Conversation III
    You are the first person to "IM'erview" me -- and although my work is not particularly your tea of choice, you manage to be respectful of it rather than slandering. Very appropiate. Regardless, thanks for the free press.

    My 13-page story in NEW THING: Identity -- I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BEARD SMOKES -- does carry a resemblance to the type of dialogue displayed in LEGAL ACTION and Studygroup -- but in place of sheer SHOCK HUMOR VALUE (and that is all that BEARD AND BABY BROTHER and SUPERCAT CUM are) I made a poignant TRUE-TO-MY-LIFE  tale of young love gone fucked diagnol-wise. Of all the comics I've done so far, it is the one that counts for a more mature/intellectual readership. You might even like it.
    -- Victor Cayro
    Music to My Eyes VIII
    I just met Erich Thaler, a former member of the now-defunct Boston hard-rock band Stompbox. Now an employee of the Sir Speedy copy shop in the Scotch & Sirloin building, Erich has a degree in music synthesis and used to work for a large-format color printer. We discussed the difference between print production and copy shop work, what it was like to sign with a label in the early '90s, the experience of touring with a band, and the enjoyment inherent in live music.

    "For every band that makes it, there are hundreds that got one shot with a label," Erich says. "I know plenty of people who slug it out into their 40's. The music industry is so youth-oriented that they're not going to sign anyone over 20. I need to find a job that'll support me into my 50's, you know?"

    Before Stompbox disbanded, they released a couple of 7-inches, put out a self-released record on Wonderdrug (which also included them on a compilation, and put out two albums with a major affiliated with Columbia and Sony. Now Erich works in a copy shop located in a low-traffic part of town. Were it not for the businesses in the Scotch & Sirloin building and across the street toward North Station, the copy shop would probably disband, too.
    Weather Report IX
    The sun just broke the top of the Casa Maria apartment building behind the Scotch & Sirloin building, illuminating the swirl of falling snow outside my office window. Absolutely beautiful.

    Monday, February 10, 2003

    Call Me
    While eating lunch at the 'Rang not long ago, I heard the pleasing strains of my Green Day ring tone as someone called me on my cell. Glad I didn't put down my BLT to take the call, because I just listened to a voicemail from someone in the 978 who thought my name was Dave, that I was going to buy a condo in North Redding, and that I was interested in getting some financing. It is not, I am not, and I am not.

    Now, I don't get a lot of wrong number calls on my cell, but the Ethicist reader in me wonders whether I'm now responsible to call the fellow back and set him straight that he didn't actually leave a message for Dave. What if Dave doesn't get the financing for the condo purchase because I got this voicemail?

    Debate over. I just returned the call.

    Media Diet: Hi. I just got a voicemail from this number from someone who was calling about condo financing, and I wanted to let you know it was a wrong number.
    Receptionist: Do you know who called?
    Media Diet: All I know is that they were calling some guy named Dave and that the condo is in North Redding. They didn't leave their name.
    Receptionist: Oh, I wouldn't even know where to begin if you don't know who called.
    Media Diet: Well, I just thought you should know. I didn't want this guy to lose the opportunity because of a wrong number, you know?
    Receptionist: Oh, well, thanks for calling.
    Media Diet: I tried.

    Dave, I hope you find the financing you need to buy the condo of your dreams. I did my best.
    In the Cards
    Ever wonder who writes Hallmark cards -- and how? The Washington Post Magazine's Jason puts pen to paper to take a look at Hallmark's creative process and the value of emotional content. It's a solid exploration of what makes greeting cards work, but I'm kind of glad I don't work in the Masculine Relative Birthday department.

    Thanks to Pure Content.
    Big Brother Is Watching XI
    Sometimes, Big Brother isn't so big. A former Boston College student has been indicted for installing a key-logging device that kept tabs on more than 100 campus computers and accessing personnel and student databases.

    Thanks to EvHead.
    Corollary: Hiking History III
    Brad, a founding member of the Boston World Explorers' Foundation, has put up his photographs from our inaugural expedition last month. Trivia tidbit: The Flying Cloud is not just the name of a ship built by Donald McKay. It's also the name of one of today's water taxis! We saw it from the pier shortly after reaching the McKay monument.
    Boston World Explorers' Foundation
    I've been researching the second expedition for the Boston World Explorers' Foundation, and I'm thinking that if the weather cooperates, it might be nice to get out and about this Saturday or Sunday.

    Based on my reading and research, it might be interesting to explore the Beacon Hill area of the city, sticking to the section bounded by Beacon, Bowdoin, Cambridge, and Charles streets. Historically home to Boston's early African-American population, the neighborhood once included Underground Railroad stops, radical discussion salons, a long-gone reservoir complex, and the Charles Street Jail.

    The walk will also feature Boston's first home-owners' association, one of the city's narrowest streets, and other architectural and historical highlights.

    If you'd like to be in on this second expedition, let me know what day works best for you. We'll see what comes together!
    Rock Shows of Note LIV
    Last week was way too active on the nightlife and show-going scene. This week needs to be much quieter. That said, I did take in some excellent music over the last five nights. Wednesday night found me at the Druid on Inman Square, where I caught up with Sarah and some of her friends to see Paddy Soul, Eric Saulnier, and Martin Finke. Sonier works sound at the Abbey, so a lot of the Abbey staff was there to support him. We didn't stick around to see Finke, but I enjoyed the first two solo guitar singer-songwriter sets. Seems like music at the Druid is picking up.

    Thursday night found me at the Choppin' Block near Northeastern for the Mister Records CD release party. While I wasn't too impressed by Shark Mountain, I quite enjoyed the sets by Plunge Into Death, Tunnel of Love, and Cathy Cathodic. Having met some co-workers for drinks after leaving the office -- and before taking the E line to Brigham's Circle -- the night got rather long and late, and I recall making eyes at a red-haired girl with dreadlocks.

    She was at the 71 Sunbeam show Saturday at TT the Bear's, too, oddly enough. I made a point not to be so creepy this time. Not sure why I found her so captivating Thursday. In any event, Neil came up from Connecticut for the show, the band's first in Boston since he moved back there for school. And their shows in Brooklyn and Providence seem to have helped them find a new confidence and presence. Quite an impressive set, despite the low mix on Jeremy's xylophone solo. And the band has a new fan! There was a fellow standing right up in front, dancing, taking digital photos, and air drumming for much of the show. I'm glad 71 Sunbeam has been able to continue despite half the band's relocation to Connecticut and Rhode Island.

    Sally Crewe, who usually plays with the Sudden Moves, performed a solo set that was enjoyable but seemingly unappreciated by the crowd. It's hard to play solo at TT's unless you're on the other side, and as Crewe's set progressed, the crowd on the floor diminished and conversation increased. Laguardia followed, but by then, I was on the other side hanging out with Neil catching up. Like Thursday, Saturday got long and late, with me heading to Shay's to meet up with Dan, Fitz, Nick, and Jenn. Dana, who waitresses at Shay's, plays in the Signal, another local band. We ended the night at Charlie's, where we hung out upstairs -- and where I saw Natalie Portman.

    All in all, not a bad week for music, but a bad week for sleep.

    Thanks to Media Dietician Vincent Scorziello for the research assistance.