Monday, March 29, 2004

The Movie I Watched Last Night LXXXVIII

A Place in the Sun
Who knew that Elizabeth Taylor was such a hottie? This 1951 film noir billed as a romance for the ages delivers on the noir but languishes in the love department. The slack-grinned and largely passionless Montgomery Clift, a downtrodden member of the otherwise well-to-do Eastman family -- which seems to have made its millions in swimming suits -- gets a job at his uncle's factory and quickly begins to work his way up. First though, he has his way with a fellow worker -- a femme feeble -- on the shop floor. What he found attractive in the frustratingly pasty-faced and frumpy Shelley Winters, I know not, but perhaps proximity proved his downfall. In addition to that hush-hush hug-'em-up -- workers aren't supposed to date -- Clift's character starts making time with Taylor's high-society debutante, a friend of the wealthy Eastman family. They inexplicably fall in love, and it's certainly a better match, but then Winters' character begins to further dig her claws into Clift's character. For good reason, but the "solution" he arrives upon is less that satisfying and, in the end, only distances him from everyone that he might love. Taylor makes for amazingly delicious eye candy, yet I have some cognitive dissonance reconciling her with the ET of today. More early '50s Taylor, please. Meow.

Pieces, Particles XVI

The following stories spotted recently in print publications might be worth a look. Heads and decks, only. Heads and decks.

All Over the Maps by Bryan Miller, New York Times, March 28, 2004
For a lover of cartography, fold-out charts of streets and roads are worthy of endless study

The Birth of the Meta-Protest Rally? by Jack Hitt, New York Times Magazine, March 28, 2004
Billionaires for Bush are not for real, except when they are.

Casting Reality TV, No Longer a Hunch, Becomes a Science by David Carr, New York Times, March 28, 2004

Cellphones Ringing at Home and at Work by Lisa Belkin, New York Times, March 28, 2004

Consumed: Sprite ReMix by Rob Walker, New York Times Magazine, March 28, 2004
The drink is not about loyalty to a consistent taste but to a consistent idea about taste.

Dorothy Denny Scardino, 82, Musical Star of the Bank Lobby, New York Times, March 28, 2004

Giving Credits the Credit They're Due by Steven Heller, New York Times, March 28, 2004
A survey of the work of a three-minute auteur

New Way for Teenagers to See If They Bounce by Anna Bahney, New York Times, March 29, 2004

News Reports for Ultra-Short Attentions by Warren St. John, New York Times, March 28, 2004
A news program that feels "like a train that's about to come off the tracks."

Police to Protesters: Come on Down! by Michael Wilson, New York Times, March 28, 2004

They'll Have the Usual by Richard J. Scholem, New York Times, March 28, 2004
Restaurateurs never tire of their super-regular customers

Tom and Hank's Birthplace, Along the Mighty Chemung by Michelle York, New York Times, March 28, 2004
It's not Hannibal or Hartford, but Elmira was also home to Mark Twain.

Among the Literati LV

Maura Jasper and Hilken Mancini of Punk Rock Aerobics are featured in the health section of today's Daily News. Seemingly to promote the May 6 New York City Punk Rock Aerobics class at the Virgin Megastore Union Square (Is that punk, or what?), Chrissy Persico's piece is really just a combination book review and personal essay about rediscovering the fun of exercise.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Hiking History XVI

Find a Grave is an online service that will, well, help you do just that. Want to know whether anyone well known -- or worth knowing about -- is buried near where you live? Search by name, location, and claim to fame to find the dearly departed to whom you'd like to dedicate an afternoon exploratory stroll. Why, in Brooklyn alone, I could track down the headstones of such Media Dieticians as James Gordon Bennett (founder of the New York Herald), John Bunny, and George Catlin -- and that's just in the first few letters!

Thanks to Charlie McEnerney.

Big Brother Is Watching XVII

The Daily News reports today that the Transit Authority plans to install more surveillance cameras in subway stations -- even in MetroCard machines. Ostensibly to thwart fare scammers and further secure Transit property, the proposed cameras are currently "under review." While the SOS Camera Watch documents publicly available Webcams trained on public spaces, is anyone other than the Surveillance Camera Players documenting general security cameras in the city?

Thursday, March 25, 2004

South by Southwest 2004 III

File under: Small world. My friend Brad emailed me a link to Jenville's report on Arlo's trip to South by Southwest this year. It was widely agreed that Arlo was the cutest baby at the conference, and if you look at the photo gallery, you'll see many of the people I hung out with, too: Pableaux, Molly, Ben, and Jay among them. But I don't know -- and I didn't meet -- Jen and her family. Some day, I'm sure I will. And it'll be because of Brad.

Products I Love XII

Since my move to Brooklyn, I've only been able to listen to cassettes and records -- and the latter in mono for some reason -- because my CD player is on the fritz. It will recognize CD's in the changer -- but not play them. I've been too lazy to take it into the repair shop on the corner, but just now, I ordered an RCA RP8070 five-CD carousel from for less than $100. My life at home here has been relatively devoid of music for the last two months. That needs to change.

Music to My Ears LII

Andrew, formerly of the band Bread and Roses, now has a new project: xDonRicklesx. He absolutely cracks me up.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Products I Love XI

I haven't actually used this yet, but GameStop's Nintendo air freshener makes me smile. Gizmodo jokes that scents include "blown dust from cartridge" and "Doritos."

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Newspaper Chase VII

While I have yet to pick up an edition of AmNewYork, a free daily in the city -- I'm too busy trying to keep up with four other dailies, and I'd like to read even more -- I am thrilled silly that Metro is launching in New York sometime after May 1. A friend of mine was a scout for the Boston launch, and while I didn't read the Boston Metro every day, I was impressed by its internationalism, attention to labor activism, and sense of humor. May the New York Metro be as scrappy. Besides, I kind of miss the hawker who'd hand me my paper every day at the Central Square T stop. Will the Metro hawkers venture to Nassau Avenue on the G line? We shall see.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Rest in Peace VI

John Klem, who helped pioneer international newspaper syndication, died yesterday. Working for the Editors Press Service, Klem traveled around the world to introduce overseas newspaper editors to American columns and comics. Over the course of his career, he sold hundreds of features to 2,000 newspapers in 120 countries.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Among the Literati LIV

While Douglas Rushkoff claims that his novel Exit Strategy is the first open-source novel, I'd suggest that the first such experiment truly deserving the label "open source" might be Rick Heller's Smart Genes. Beyond seeking footnotes and amendments -- even Cory Doctorow's iterative near-open source approach as he emails portions of his new writing seeking feedback as he writes -- Heller has put the entire text of his novel online as a Wiki.

"Anyone can edit it," he writes. "It may be better or it may be worse than the released version." But in the end, it turns out that he's not going all the way.

Because not all changes are for the good, I have posted a stable, released version of the novel. I will review changes that readers make, and merge those I think are good into a new release of the novel. I hope to be liberal in including readers' changes, but those which I don't believe would strengthen the novel will be rolled back.

That said, he does encourage contributors to save their own changed sections in personal areas of the Wiki. Imagine, coupled with a Creative Commons license, Heller could end up with hundreds of parallel -- yet independently original -- versions of the novel.

Smart genes, indeed.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Fonts of Knowledge II

MickeyAvenue has compiled a directory of many of the fonts used at Walt Disney World. The collection also includes typefaces used at other Disney attractions. While the proprietor of this directory contends that the project is a "a huge waste of time," it's an interesting look into the design mind of Disney. Note that most of the fonts are commercially available -- and that some are freeware. Seems that the Imagineers don't imagineer new typefaces; that's too bad.

Thanks to Lockergnome.

Blogging About Blogging LXXIII

My flight to Austin has been delayed about an hour, so I'm camping out at LaGuardia taking advantage of the WiFi in the terminal, courtesy of Concourse Communications Group. It's not a bad deal. The signal is strong, and rather than signing up for a standing subscription with monthly payments, you can access the network for just under $7 for a 24-hour period. If you regularly find yourself in airports with a monthly subscription service, it might work out better in the end, but for short-term, just-in-time access, Concourse is pretty slick.

South by Southwest 2004 II

In a couple of hours, I head home to pick up laundry, pack and head to the airport for my flight to Austin for South by Southwest Interactive. Media Diet will be relatively quiet between now and next week Wednesday or so, but I'll still be blogging. Where? I've been contributing to the SXSW 2004 Community Blog and will continue to do so, and I'll be posting confblog reports to FC Now, Fast Company's staff blog, throughout the event. So Media Diet's not dead; it's just resting.

Cascading Style Sweets

Dan Cederholm, a former colleague and a righteous CSS whiz, is writing a book. Amazon just listed it for pre-order!

Comic Books and Commerce III

Amazon just announced the launch of its new Comics & Graphic Novels store. Kudos for a good decision; the History & Price Guides category, which is rather price guide heavy, is a nice place to start.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

South by Southwest 2004

I'm heading to Austin for South by Southwest Interactive next Friday. And I'm happy to see that Ben Brown, Neal Pollack, and Claire Zulkey have organized a Book Punk event on one of the days I'm there. Woot.

Movie Magic II

Yeah, yeah, yeah. LOTR this and Matrix that. In Japan, they make movies like Casshern. I can't wait until this is released domestically.

Thanks to Blue Room.

Fortune Cookie Crumbles

Years ago, I collected fortune cookie fortunes, those little paper strips with quips of spurious wisdom and lists of lucky numbers. While unpacking this past week, I came across a list of those fortunes. Here are 20.

  • The trouble with fun is that it often ends up as trouble.
  • The dim haze of mystery will add enchantment to your life.
  • The secret of a good memory is always to write things down.
  • The secret of friendship is to build bridges instead of walls.
  • Sweet Memories are the paradise of the mind.
  • A thing of Beauty is a joy, but only while it remains in fashion.
  • Since we cannot get what we wan, let us like what we can get.
  • It is better to lend a hand than to lend sympathy.
  • One often meets his destiny in the road he takes to avoid it.
  • One learns most when teaching others.
  • If you wish your worth to be known, acknowledge that of other people.
  • Enthusiasm in a current project will lead to new job opportunities.
  • The only way to inspire courtesy on the road is to drive a police car.
  • Joys are often the shadows cast by sorrows.
  • Let there be magic in your smile and firmness in your handshake.
  • Your warmth is the glow which illuminates those around you.
  • Education is the gradual discovery of how much we do not know.
  • True prosperity is the result of well-placed confidence in ourselves and others.
  • You are most troubled when troubles are few.
  • NOTHING: The best thing to buy when trying to save money.

Corollary: Blogging About Blogging LXXII

In the most recent edition of the Village Voice, Whitney Pastorek blogs off about how blogs are ruining her life. Among the reasons why:

  • No one shows up for anything anymore.
  • No one tells her anything anymore.
  • No one has fights anymore.
  • No one invites her to anything anymore.
  • They have created a new world order.

Hey, Whittlz. Sure, blogs can't buy you a beer. But I can. Just let me know when.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Blogging About Blogging LXXII

Half-hearted kudos to Rick Bruner and the Daily News for a sizable story on some of the more notable women bloggers in New York City. Despite punny headlines -- "I Am Woman, Hear Me Blog" and "Fresh Blog-ettes" -- Bruner's roundup of profiles is a relatively fun and insightful look at the people behind the pages.

For the most part, the photography works well, with Rebecca McAlpin's shot of Lindsay Robertson in a bar setting standing out -- and Linda Rosier's "Thersday" cover shot sporting a cute as heck Elizabeth Spiers donned in a mod black-and-white dress and boots. But that very cover girl convention -- and Blaise Kearsley's cleavage -- telegraphs a disturbing part of the piece's theme. While blogging can help people find and share their voices, Bruner slots these female bloggers into somewhat stereotypical roles: the "loony slut," the "Eve of bloggers," Manolo Blahniks, hipsters, and gossips. Regardless, all are sites worth exploring:

Monday, March 01, 2004

Zine Seen

Zine World, a reviewzine that I write for, was recently featured in the Nashville Scene.