Thursday, December 21, 2006

'Tis the Season to Be... AWOL XXI

In six-plus hours, I leave for dual holidays with my family. I will be offline until at least Dec. 29, and I will miss every minute.

As 2007 approaches, know that I appreciate every single Media Dietician, as well as the fact that people check out this very blog every single day.

You folks keep me honest and active. Gods bless you!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

An Open Letter to Peter Davison

Over the last two days, I've been reading Peter Davison's wonderful history of the Boston poetry scene between 1955-1960, The Fading Smile. The book has changed how I look at poetry -- and how I look at Boston, as well as literary communities in general.

While flying from San Francisco to New York this evening, I wrote Davison a brief letter of appreciation as thanks for his book. I was sad to learn upon my return home that he died two years ago, almost to the day. Here is my letter, which will never be mailed:

Dear Mr. Davison,

I am on an airplane, flying between San Francisco and New York City. I have just finished reading your book The Fading Smile and want to write you a letter about how much I enjoyed it.

Yesterday, while in SF, I went to City Lights Books, as I often do when visiting. I picked up some punk-rock fanzines, a couple of New Directions books by Bob Kaufman, and your book in hardcover. It was rather worn, and "had been around forever," the shop girl said, and so I got 10% off.

Such a strange way to obtain your book. I am forever finding books about places I love in other places I love, but never in the same place (especially in the case of older books!). I was attracted to your book for several reasons:

One, I adore local history, especially that of places I love and in which I've lived. I lived in Boston -- primarily Somerville and Cambridge -- from 1996 to 2004 and miss its streets and sites madly. I have highlighted all of the addresses and locations you mentioned in the text and as soon as I am able, hope to come north to walk and see them all myself -- some perhaps again!

Two, I've been on a bit of a poetry binge recently. My girlfriend and I have been reading from the Seamus Heaney green-cover anthology near nightly, and because of that, I've recently been inspired to seek out work by Auden and others. I don't have much of an education in poetry, although I did take a writing class at Northwestern.

And I was intrigued by the history by way of collection of profiles approach you took. I think it worked well, especially with the intertextual page references later on. Very well done, although I do feel ending with Lowell was a bit anticlimactic despite his status as the central figure.

So there you go. Thank you for your book. It will lead me to read more poetry! I hope this brief note finds you happy and healthy. I'll have to look you up on the Internet when I get home to learn where I might send this to best reach you.

Heath Row

P.S. Oh! Given the season, happy holidays -- any and all. May 2007 bring only the best.

The green-cover anthology I mentioned is The Rattle Bag, which Heaney edited with Ted Hughes -- and which title I couldn't remember. Oddly enough, Davison died in Boston just a few days before I left Boston for New York. If only I'd learned about him and his work sooner.

Please check out a copy of The Rattle Bag or The Fading Smile in remembrance of Davison. I miss him terribly, and I never even knew him.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas Card Shark

I spent the afternoon today to finish writing, preparing, and mailing (mostly) my Christmas cards for the year. I love Christmas cards for several reasons, and I've been giving some thought to why.

First of all, I "manage" my Christmas card sending in two ways. One, since 2001, I've maintained an address book especially for Christmas cards. It's red. It has "Christmas Card List" embossed on the cover in gold. And I like the fact that it's been in my life for six years now. It's not entirely full, but it's falling apart at the binding, and there are enough address corrections in it that it might be time to start a new Christmas card address book. Any advice on which to get? I could maintain a database, granted, but I like the idea of a Christmas card-specific address book, especially since this one lets me keep track of whom I've sent cards to -- and who's sent me cards in return... and in which years.

Secondly, I like the fact that sending Christmas cards every year makes me think of more people to whom I'd like to send Christmas cards. While you can catalog your acquaintances, friends, and family in social network services online, there's something special about a handwritten and annotated list of relationships. I usually send cards to most of the people on my list, people who send me unexpected cards (I add them to the list.), and some additional people. I've sent cards to the CEOs of companies I've worked for, former housemates, ex-girlfriends -- and their parents -- and even people I've never met. In 2001, I exchanged Christmas cards with Rebecca Mead, a writer for the New Yorker. She doesn't know me from Adam, but I wanted to let her know I appreciate her -- and her writing.

Because that's what Christmas cards are all about. They're a way to keep people in your life who don't play a major role otherwise. They're a way to reassert family ties to people you're related to -- but to whom you don't regularly relate. And they're a way to map relationships and locational proximity in a way we don't don't often have. I have cousins to whom I've sent cards for six years or more who haven't sent a card, letter, or note in return. One of my dad's brothers has never sent me a card in exchange. Still, they're on the list.

One year, I culled the list. People who hadn't reciprocated in a couple of years were removed. I'll never do that again. Instead, my Christmas card list will grow -- and continue to grow. Because sending cards is a way to say I know you, I love you, and I'd like you in my life more than you are right now -- or, I'd like to keep you in my life one way or another.

I sent 43 cards so far this year. I have at least two more I could and should write right now. What's your mailing address? Maybe you could be on my list, too!

Sending cards is also a good way to use up inserts and decals that you've accumulated over the year(s). This year, I used four boxes of Batman cards printed by Chronicle Books bought at Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books, as well as a handful of leftover cards from last year. I also used up two sheets of 2004 New York Post sticker book decals featuring the Jets football team. I don't follow the Jets at all, but I'd kept the stickers. I used almost two sheets of USPS comic book stamps. And I inserted $10,000 worth of hell money in most every card. I bought the hell money in San Diego years and years ago. Why do I still have it? Who the heck knows.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Tag, You're It

My panel idea for SXSW Interactive next spring has been approved!

Tag, You're It

Services such as Delicious, Flickr, and others allow users to tag various kinds of content. Some people use the tags for personal information management -- making things easier to find -- and others use tags to discover certain kinds of content -- such as pictures of puppies. But are people tagging content with those uses in mind? For use by others? Or just for personal use? This panel will consider trends in tagging and how people are actually using tags -- not how cool and important folksonomies are.

Thanks for those of you who may have expressed interest in the topic. I'm peopling the panel now and will let Media Dieticians know who will be participating as soon as it's all worked out. Should be awesome.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Twitter? I Hardly Know... III

My pal Harper Reed just made a Twitter app that may help you update the SMS service more quickly and easily. It's called TwApp! and while I haven't tried it out yet, Harper's Twitter entries indicate that it works well.

Let me know what you think!

Monday, December 04, 2006

The 12 Rules of the DimeDine Dozen

1. There will be a maximum of 12 DimeDine cities
2. Each will follow the 10 Rules of DimeDine
3. Each DimeDine city will be led by a facilitator
4. Each facilitator will secure a book publisher and record label willing to provide one (1) book or record for each DimeDine participant (100 a year)
5. Only facilitators can vote on DimeDine concerns
6. DimeDine Concerns will be chosen by the Prime Facilitator
7. Each facilitator has 12 vote points to allocate among vote concern options
8. If a DimeDine facilitator reneges on 12 votes, their position will be voided
9. Each remaining facilitator will be able to nominate 12 replacements
10. DimeDine facilitator replacements will be chosen by the remaining facilitators
11. If a DimeDine city is demoted, each remaining facilitator will be able to nominate 12 additional cities
12. The Prime Facilitator can be replaced only by a unanimous vote of the existing 12 local facilitators

Want to "run" a DimeDine? Email me.

The 10 Rules of DimeDine

1. DimeDine dinners will be held on the 10th day of each month
2. 10 people will be allowed to participate in each individual dinner
3. 10 dinners will be held each year
4. Each dinner will cost 10 cents (plus the cost of each member's individual order; participants are responsible for the cost of their own meals, plus their equal share of tax and tip [20%])
5. RSVPs are due 10 days before each scheduled dinner
6. If a member reneges on 10 positive RSVPs, their membership will be voided
7. Each new member will be able to invite 10 friends
8. Each month, 10 participants will receive a book and record of the organizer's choosing
9. Every 10 months, in the 10th month, there will be an all-member event
10. DimeDine will be facilitated by a group of 12 members (plus a Prime Facilitator)

Want to "run" a DimeDine? Email me.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Last (Mail) Call

I have less time than I've ever had. And the time I have is ever more precious. So I need to be ever more efficient and effective in everything I do.

Time was, I'd open every item of mail. And if you sent me mailing labels, I'd do my best to use them. But I can't do that any more.

If you send me snail mail, if you send me junk mail, I will only open it if it's important and useful. Otherwise, I'll toss it, unopened.

I know many people do this already and that I'm late to the game, but, please, don't mail me things I don't need.

Direct marketers have lost one of their more patient people.

Junk mail, begone.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cab Unfair

An open letter, with some editing:

Heath Row
Brooklyn, NY
Nov. 29, 2006

McGuinness Car Service
158 Nassau Ave,
Brooklyn, NY

Dear McGuinness Car Service:

This is just a quick letter to let you know that I'm not going to use your car service again -- and explain why.

Since I've lived in Greenpoint, I've used McGuinness exclusively. Every time I've needed a car to get to the airport (I go to LAX almost monthly) or another destination in the area, I've called you first.

You've provided excellent service, arriving on time, being patient with my rare oversleeping if it's an early morning appointment, and charging reasonable rates, even through the gas price "crisis."

Until Monday.

Monday night, I called to get a car to the Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill. The dispatcher declined to send a car, saying that the service only sent cars for rides in Brooklyn. I called back to clarify that the hospital was in Brooklyn -- and easily reached -- not further out on Long Island proper. He said he knew, and that he was sorry.

If I cannot depend on your car service in an emergency -- my girlfriend was in the hospital -- I cannot in good conscience continue to depend on you for general car service needs. So I will not be calling you again for a reservation.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Music to My Ears LXXII

MediaPost columnist Larry Dobrow, who pens the awesome Magazine Rack column, has compiled a soundtrack dubbed "Songs to Read Uncle Larry's Junk To."

Might be worth a listen!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Books Worth a Look XXIV

Having started a new job in a new industry in the last month or so, I've been trying to hurry along my learning curve as efficiently and effectively as possible. I've signed up for news alerts on our competitors. I've subscribed to all of the industry-relevant newsletters and discussion groups. I've picked up a couple of used textbooks on the subject matter. And just last night, I discovered a new tool that might be useful regardless of what you're trying to learn.

For 45 years, the Research & Education Association has offered a line of test preparation and study guide materials on a wide range of subjects. Sure, they have your SAT, GRE, and other prep packs. They also offer a line of Problem Solvers booklets addressing a bunch of different mathematic and scientific practices such as calculus, fluid mechanics, and transport phenomena.

But what's gotten me excited is their line of accounting and business Essentials. Last night, I picked up their Marketing Principles volume, a 70-page pamphlet written by the chairman of the marketing department of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Think CliffsNotes, only for an entire area of study, not a single book.

This Essentials booklet runs readers through the basics of marketing research, product planning, promotional strategy, and other topics. For the most part, it's surface- and entry-level stuff -- if you want to really know your stuff, you'll need more than a 70 pages and $7. But it feels good to be able to start dropping phrases like "primary data" into conversations at work.

If you want to learn a lot fast, make Essentials part of your self-led learning program.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Defusing the Logic Bomb

I seem to have arrived slightly too late to the literary and cultural critique blow out that is the writing of Steve Beard.

A late-'80s Cambridge University dropout and early '90s contributor to magazines such as i-D, the Face, Arena, Raygun, and Wired, Beard has also authored a number of books. They include the mid-2006 novel Meat Puppet Cavalcade, as well as Perfumed Head, Digital Leatherette, and the nonfiction collections Aftershocks: The End of Style Culture and Logic Bomb: Transmissions from the Edge of Style Culture.

Right now, the latter text is all I have to go on, and his nonfiction is promising. I'm hungry for more. Published in 1998 by Serpent's Tail, the anthology collects pieces of journalism Beard concocted for Big Issue, Arena, i-D, the Face, and Modern Review. Also included is the introductory chapter to Beard's aborted 1990 PhD dissertation. Is ABD the new ADD?

Outside of Amazon, I can find little else beyond a writing game collaboration with Jeff Noon entitled Mappalujo (shades of Noon's seemingly solitary writing game project Cobralingus) -- and a wholly other Steve Beard who maintains the religion-kissed pop culture Web site Thunderstruck and contributed to the 2003 Relevant book Spiritual Journeys: How Faith Has Influenced Twelve Music Icons. It wouldn't surprise me much if the one Beard had somehow morphed into the other, and I'm sure that a conversation between the two would at least raise some bit-twisting and tit-biting truths. Now there's a freelance writing idea.

For truth is what Beard speaks -- if not to power, to the post-Thatcher pandering classes that consumed much of what was deemed Style Culture in early-'90s England (and to the semiotics-schooled class that might now study it around the world). If I cannot delve more deeply online to learn more about what Beard is thinking and writing about in the 21st century, at least I have Logic Bomb as a document of what he was thinking at the beginning of the end of the 20th.

They're thought-provoking topics, and it's interesting that the guise under which he was consdering them -- Style Culture -- is now passe. Because the subject matter has yet to be fully expounded and expanded upon. Logic Bomb includes missives touching on the slightly self-parodic work of Mark Leyner (as seen through a lens timely enough to beg mention of Bret Easton Ellis's Lunar Park) and the '90s output -- if not re-imaginings -- of J.G. Ballard, William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, William Burroughs, Philip K. Dick, Mark Pesce, Douglas Coupland, and Dick Hebdige.

To see if the periodicals for which Beard was writing for then are still useful as arbiters and harbingers of what's next now, I picked up the current issues of i-D and Arena. At $10 a pop -- they're imports -- that's no little investment. (It's been ages since I bought copies of the Face and Skin Two for cultural bellwether watching.) Let's consider them alphabetically, albeit arbitrarily.

The November 2006 issue of Arena disappoints from Look One.

At 268 pages, Arena's 20th anniversary issue -- complete with a retrospective insert printed on heavier stock paper -- appears to be akin to a lad mag in the vein of Maxim, Loaded, or FHM. (Please forgive if my comparisons are dated by a few years.) Little surprise. As the "original British style magazine for men," I'm sure Arena's felt a circulation hit because of its new-school competitors, and like the States-side Esquire and GQ, it's responded "accordingly."

What the reader ends up getting is a fashion magazine with of-the-moment and largely already-passe cultural commentary fueled by the newest releases in film, literature, and technology. With a cover sporting a bevy of half-a-mo beauties that parallel those hyped on the cover sleeve -- Jennifer Lopez, Kate Moss, Victoria Beckham, and Pamela Anderson -- you know how deep Arena will delve: skin deep.

Between the sheets, we're treated to several snippets that warrant some attention. These include a byline-free consideration of the forbidden fruits that are the Japanese school girl (in the abstract) and the Simpsons's Edna Krabappel (in the "concrete"), an anonymous squib on Uruguay's "premier multimedia master" Martin Sastre, George Monbiot's column on global warming, and two reminiscence pieces -- Alex Rayner's take on 20 years of dance music and Will Storr's look at two decades of television.

Not one piece warrants the salt of a writer of Beard's caliber. But it's clear that the future will be presaged in the front sections of mainstream magazines (in which the majority of the notable items occurred), not the feature wells or end pages.

Now let's turn to the 196-page November 2006 "youth" issue of i-D.

Ironically, this issue of i-D, despite its slimmer waistline and less historic pretense, is the better read. More in line with the Face or the States-side Interview than the American pre-lad mag pubs Esquire or GQ, i-D seems to recognize that its shelf life is half a mo vs. 20 years. And its charm is in its passing.

This issue has one of two covers, featuring either Coco Rocha or Flash Louis, because of a gatefold cover ad bought by HP. I chose the Flash cover because of the gender-neutral imagery he brings. That, in itself, is passing. As Louis ages, his asexuality will wane, just like the rest of the magazine's content.

But what's inside? Of note are items featuring the teen band Blondelle (which is of a tween sort with legs longer than its currency), Nirvana (an interview originally published in a 1992 fanzine!), passing skate fashion vis a vis Supreme, Iceland's Jakobinarina (Scandinavia as type), Little Marc (Jacobs's) kiddie couture, the "Dancing on Air" 1987-2006 fashionista fantasy, the squib on community television phenom Yo Gabba Gabba!, and the Ben Reardon-penned "I'm Not Gay" profile of YouTube stars Syncsta.

Everything disposable, only the last item -- length- and theme-wise -- might be worth possible collection and introspection 10 years from now as we revisit the post-YouTube impact of the Web.

Is it worth Steve Beard's salt? Perhaps.

I've watched three of the videos. And despite the fun 20 Ducks banner ads from Moto Razr and the enervating grassroots video editing, there's little else worth commenting on. I lie. There's a lot to comment on: the democratization of online video production, the growing appeal of bedroom superstars, and the eroticization of the young creator.

Beard would have a lot to say about all of those topics. And I'm I'm sure he does. But where? In Arena? i-D? These days, his work might be better suited for another magazine, and if it hasn't yet commissioned any journalism from him, it should.

That magazine is I.D., the domestic rag dedicated to international design. Within the 108 pages of its November 2006 edition is a one-page "rant" by one Mark Dery. In it, Dery considers the conscientious toll taken by designers who incorporate camouflage in their designs during wartime. He does so smartly and succinctly.

I said all that to say that I'm loath to admit that I've yet to read Dery's 1996 text Escape Velocity. Like Beard's Logic Bomb, I'm sure it has too many too late truths to tell.

And that's entirely my fault.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Dumb Numbers

I don't quite believe this statistic. According to an article about in-elevator television and the move to live streaming news vs. time-delayed broadcasts, there's the following bit:

57% of Captivate viewers use the network as their primary source of news during the day

More than half of the people who watch the news during their elevator ride consume no other news throughout the day? Even though Captivate's streaming news comes from CNN and USA Today, that dismays me a little.

Can it be true?

All Thumbs

I remember all the hubbub over the possibility of repetitive strain injury brought on by the Atari 2600 game controller. Ergonomics remain a concern with laptops and other personal computers. So I'm slightly surprised that it's taken so long for texting to raise any widespread concern.

The American Physical Therapy Association recently issued a warning for what it terms Blackberry Thumb, or RSI brought on by active PDA and smart phone use. And what should you do if you experience swelling or throbbing? Apply ice -- and consider stretching exercises.

Yeah, right. Calisthenics before Dodgeball. Man, that takes me back to grade school!

Friday, November 10, 2006

French Press Play

In my no-longer-that-active New York-centric blog, the New Yorkest, I've posted about my love of coffee. Earlier this week, I received a box in the mail that I'm most excited about.

Running low on beans and grounds in my fridge, I'm thrilled silly to have a bag -- less than half a pound? -- of Storyville Coffee beans roasted Nov. 4. If I use them tomorrow, they'll be hella fresh, and that's a good thing.

I'll let you know how the cups taste.

Twitter? I Hardly Know... II

Per this previous entry, I've been looking for a way to embed Twitter in Media Diet. Joe recommended that I add a virtual newsfeed to the sidebar, and that worked fine for awhile.

Now that Twitter has added "badges," however, there's no longer any need. Thanks to Ev, Biz, and the team for adding that bit. Check the left sidebar: Cheeky!


Cingular's support of automated and list-driven SMS services is spotty at best. For the last day or so, my reception of Dodgeball and Twitter messages has been next to nil, if not nil. Bothersome.

Monday, November 06, 2006

New Record Day XIV

Here's what's coming out this week that I think is notable:

  • The Residents, River of Crime EP 1-5
  • Frank Zappa, Trans-Fusion

What records are you going to pick up this week?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Photo Phun

On the advice of my girlfriend, I just searched for my name on Flickr.

I suggest you do the same; you may be surprised who's shot you.

Thanks to Caterina and Biz for making me look so good.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Blogging About Blogging LXXXIV

We don't do link exchanges, but when we learned that QuickMuse liked us, we had to give a hells yeah.

Turns out, we liked it before.

We knew it was a good idea.

Pay attention!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Twitter? I Hardly Know...

Earlier this week, Chris Brogan let me know about Twitter, a new SMS-driven service brought to you by the people who made Odeo and Blogger.

I learned about the service following a management buyout of Odeo's assets by Blogger cofounder Evan Williams and Biz Stone, which feels kind of odd. Web 1.0 meets Web 2.0 and then some!

And as a half-assed member of Dodgeball, I'm torn.

Twitter does a lot of what Dodgeball does, so I'm feeling some reluctant feature replication angst. But so far I've wanted to use Twitter in ways I don't use Dodgeball.

I use Dodgeball to tell people where I am, hoping that they'll join me -- and only when third, fourth, and fifth wheels aren't unwelcome. I use Yelp, which isn't SMS'd based -- yet; come on people! -- to let people know where I've been and where they should go.

How do I use Twitter? True to their mission, accidentally and incidentally enough, to let people know what I'm doing. Right now.

If you check out my Twitter history, such as it is, you'll see that it's all here I am, what I'm doing, what I'm thinking kind of stuff.

True, I could easily use Dodgeball, which already has a baked-in friends list (for me, at least). I have very few friends in Twitter so far, and half of them (one of two) are skeptical of the service's need -- to send such shout outs.

Dens does this all the time, and to good effect. But I'm not sure I want such updates on my phone, persistently... and constantly.

So far, I like Twitter's on-page accumulation, even though I'm starting to feel some need for phone alerts (which I just signed up for) -- and to wonder why there's no contextual advertising on the Twitter pages. (Turns out there is; it's just very subtle. Give me a sidebar online, and you'll be in the clear, Ev!)

Will I eventually abandon Twitter for Dodgeball in terms of mental updates -- vs. physical updates? -- perhaps, but probably not. Do I wish there were a way to unify all of these things? Hells yeah.

Google should buy Odeo and Twitter, merge the latter's IM and other functionality with Dodgeball, augment Google video by way of YouTube with Google Audio vis a vis podcasts, and rock the casbah.

Until then, you should send the following message to shortcode 40404 -- the best shortcode ever:

follow h3athrow

Seriously. I want more Twitter friends. And I need to find a way to pull my Twitter updates into Media Diet. Then you could know where I am, where I've been, what I'm thinking about, etc. -- all in one place.

Products I Love XX

I got my Sony Reader in the mail while I was at the Forrester Consumer Forum in Chicago. I ordered it at the end of September, was distressed by the back order, and was thrilled to get it so soon -- I expected it next month.

It's been a long time since I've felt the technolust I experienced upon learning about this ebook. (I was a little late to Scott's mention.)

What do I like? The form factor, primarily. The Reader is about the size of a half-standard Moleskine notebook and might weigh just slightly more. I also love E Ink's display technology. It's readable by ambient light, not backlit, which is much more human and natural. And I like the idea of being able to carry hundreds of books in my day bag -- rather than the two or three I usually tote around.

What do I dislike? Not being able to highlight text and annotate, which I do actively in "real" books. I also dislike the bookmark procedure. As far as I know, there's no way to delete bookmarks on the Reader itself, just in the PC-only (Were I not using a Thinkpad for work, I'd not have bought this.) desktop or laptop software. So I see myself accumulating more bookmarks than I need on the Reader as I read; I'm not sure if new bookmarks should replace old bookmarks in the same text, but there you go.

The Reader comes preloaded with some full texts -- 1984, for one! -- and a whole bunch of excerpts to tempt you to load up in Sony's online ebook store. So far, I've spent most of my new-purchase $50 allowance -- Freakonomics and The World Is Flat, which I've restrained from buying (This is the perfect way to read these books, I think.); Digital Hustlers, a history of Silicon Alley; and East Coast Rising, a manga about an underwater New York. Based on my read so far of the latter, I'm not convinced the Reader is good for high-resolution artwork -- some lines get dropped or distorted -- but it's good enough to read, if not to repurpose.

I've also returned to Project Gutenberg, which I think will be a mainstay. I've grabbed a 1920s history of the United States, Thoreau's Walden, and the King James Bible.

The Reader feels brilliant. And it's a good step forward for ebooks. We'll see if it catches on.

Cautionary tale: This afternoon, I went for a walk to see C., whom I haven't seen for several days. When we hugged, it got dislodged from under my arm, and fell to the sidewalk. The Reader didn't break. It got dinged, yes. On Day One of owning my new Reader, I scratched the matte-black surface in several places. But it didn't break, I lost no data, and I have anecdotal data that if dropped from waist height, the Reader will be OK. That's good engineering. (I still don't recommend it.)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

From the In Box: Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?

In response to this post:

Thanks for the B roll! November 22 (the day before Thanks.g). Channel 7 News in Boston. -- Dennis Crowley

Thanks, Dens. Hey, Media Dieticians, look for me! (And Dennis; it's his TV party.)

Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?

I've only worked here about six weeks, and the neighborhood's starting to feel like home.

This noon, J. and I ducked out for lunch, and just downstairs, we ran into Dennis Crowley of Dodgeball. Apparently, they were shooting a segment for Channel 7 in Boston, and if you watch the news tonight -- or sometime soon -- you might very well catch me in the B roll.

Then, on the way to lunch -- we walked around a little to find just the right spot -- we bumped into J., a woman I used to work with at Fast Company. She recommended a couple of places we might want to check out for our midday meal.

After eating, then, we ran into E., another woman I used to work with -- and who now designs for a relatively new travel magazine.

What are the odds -- that I would run into so many people I know within such a short amount of time? Felt nice, it did. Nice.

Cost Cutting by Call Cutting

Are you spending too much on your cell phone bill? No need, says Nokia. Nokia's new Cost Control program lets you limit the length of your yap sessions.

When you make a call, set the desired length of the call. When the limit is reached, you'll automatically hang up. Cost cut!

Seems interruptive and irritating to me. At least on the receiving end. Does the service give you the opportunity to limit the length of incoming calls?

Mixed Busy Signals

A couple of related news items today raise some interesting questions about the future of the home phone. I misplaced my cell phone for more than 24 hours last weekend, and it catalyzed some interesting experiences and feelings. I'll most likely write about that at greater length in the future.

One thing that I can say with some certainty right now is that getting my phone back would've been easier had I had a landline at home. I do not. All I have is my cell phone. And it turns out that I'm not alone.

According to recent research from Telephia, more and more households are abandoning their landlines. It's not critical mass yet -- the largest wireless substitution rate is only 19% in Detroit, but the signs are there.

Meanwhile Boost Mobile plans to launch a new service called Text to Landline. For your normal SMS price -- 10 cents a message -- you can send a short text message to someone's home phone. It'll be translated from text to voice, and you'll be informed whether the message reached a person -- or an answering machine.

While the service is positioned as a way for people who prefer to SMS to be able to communicate with people who don't -- or don't have a cell phone -- it stinks of communication avoidance to me. Shades of voice SMS, by which you can send a voice message to someone's in box, I'm not sure Text to Landline will further or foster human interaction all that much.

What think you?

Subscription Prescription V

Mitchell's Home Delivery Services, which has been trafficking in door-to-door delivery of newspapers, beverages, and other items since 1946, recently introduced a new service: Universal News on Demand.

Offering more than 6,000 magazines, the service allows you to order periodicals for delivery to your home or office. You can place one-off orders, or place monthly reservations for the magazines that matter. And as soon as Universal News -- the largest independent retailer in New York -- receives the copies, they'll be on their way... within two hours.

I am in lust. The media geek in me is pretty giddy right now.

Update: If you want your magazines delivered within two hours, there are ZIP code restrictions and a $25 fee. If you want your magazines delivered the next morning, there's a $15 fee. Orders of more than $100 bring increased delivery fees.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Movie Makeover?

I also watched the Sci-Fi Channel original movie Haunted Prison.

If you can't get Gary Busey, hire Jake Busey.

Somehow, the resemblance seemed more important before I knew they were related.

Flip his hair around some, and there you go!

Magazine Markup Language

Tonight I spent several hours reading -- and marking up -- the current issue of Fast Company. It's a magazine I worked for for eight years -- I was hire No. 17, I helped launch the Web site, and I helped launch the blog -- and it's a magazine I love dearly. Dearly!

It was, I think, an interesting exercise worth encouraging. I plan to send my markup -- a Sharpie'd copy of the issue and two construction paper pages with notes -- to the current editor in chief.

And I think it's an experience other Media Dieticians should pursue. Take your favorite mag -- or a magazine you want to encourage -- and read it. Take notes on the pages of the magazine as you read. What works? What doesn't? Think in terms of design, source selection, and story selection. Look for consistencies and inconsistencies. Lend praise -- and criticism.

At the same time, write the editor a letter. Keep it to two pages, max. And keep you major ideas to three to five primary points.

Then mail it, unedited and uncopied, to the lead editor of the title. Be sure to say how long you've read the book, whether you subscribe, and who you are in relation to the magazine.

They may not respond to you, but my guess is that no one else will do that this month, and that they'll pay attention to it -- and discuss it with other editors, writers, and team members.

If you really love the magazine, do it again.

I know I will.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Plug and Play Hudson River Weekend

This past weekend, C. and I headed up to the upper Hudson River valley for a fall foliage weekend away. We had a wonderful time, and I offer this shake-and-bake itinerary as a tool Media Dieticians can use to organize their own two-day trip.

Day One: Saturday

Day Two: Sunday

You can see the Yelp reviews for the whole itinerary. You can also see photos from the weekend.

And you can do it yourself! Let me know what kind of weekend you plan!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Head Set-iquette

The U.S. has always been lacking in cell phone etiquette. While Scandinavian cell phone makers and service providers took a stab at educating people about the social ins and outs of the new form of communication, nobody bothers to do that state side. So we're left with a world of people holding private conversations in public -- and the streets as a stage for verbal performance.

A new study released by Samsung indicates that cell phone etiquette is better on the West Coast than it is on the East. Just a bit, but better.

In the UK, this kind of etiquette might be acted out as peer pressure. It seems as though people seen talking on their cell phones while driving are being targeted by other motorists who disapprove of the practice.

Fifty-eight percent of motorists admitted they felt intimidated by other motorists if they used their mobile phone while driving.

Better hang up than get banged up!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Instant Massage

Cue David Brent!

While you can now contact me via all of the IM forms listed in the left-hand sidebar, I have got to recommend a Web-based solution that combines the best of all of them -- and allows you to communicate with everyone anywhere regardless of the app... while on the Web.

Meebo allows you to access all of your IM accounts -- AIM, Yahoo, GTalk, MSN, ICQ, etc. -- on the Web in one window.

It's pretty keen.

Most of my contacts are in AIM, but we'll see if this works in my favor!

Comic Index: Archie #569

November 2006
$2.25, Archie Comics

Cover: (Stan Goldberg and Bob Smith) Distracted by a teeing-off Veronica, a love-struck Archie almost runs down Mr. Lodge with a golf cart.

How to Survive High School! (Script: Angelo Decesare, Pencils: Stan Goldberg, Inking: Bob Smith, Editor: Victor Gorelick) Two minutes late to school, Archie jumps through a window, narrowly avoiding the principal. He sneaks into his first class, where everyone is asleep, and proceeds to offer his advice. Act sick. Lose your homework. Create distractions. Act like you're from another solar system. In the end, it doesn't quite work. (Six pages.)

Come Blow Your Horn (Script: Craig Boldman Pencils: Stan Goldberg, Inks: Bob Smith) Because the band the Archies don't get written up in "The Music Rag," Archie, Jughead, and Veronica try to come up with a new sound. Their solution: Mr. Lodge's alphorn. Hilarity -- and an international incident -- ensues. (Five pages.)

Clean up Your Act! (Script: Mike Pellowski, Pencils: Stan Goldberg, Inks: Bob Smith) While working at a grocery store, Archie often has to clean up. At home, Archie... often has to clean up. (Five pages.)

Feeling Fuelish (Script: George Gladir, Pencils: Stan Goldberg, Inks: Bob Smith) Ripped from the headlines of today, Archie and Jughead comment on the high price of gasoline. After envisioning several possible futures, Archie offers to walk to the grocery store, which is only a few blocks away. (Six pages.)

Comments: There are another two and a half pages of ads for Avatar, as well as a page of fan art. Fan art contributors include Felicia Probert, Phillip McDonald, and Samantha Zuckerman.

Comic Index: The Amazing Spider-Man #535

November 2006
$2.99, Marvel Comics

Cover: (By Ron Garney) An iron-clad Spider-Man and Iron Man get up in each others's grills.

Civil War
Part Four of Six: The War at Home

(Writer: J. Michael Straczynski, Penciler: Ron Garney, Inker: Bill Reinhold, Editor: Axel Alonso)

Mary Jane wakes early in the early morning to find an uneasy Peter Parker watching the TV news about an uptick in defense-related stocks. Uncomfortable about possible monetary gain by Stark Enterprises, he confronts Tony Stark, who takes him to Fantastic Four Inc. to show him the new holding facilities. Reed Richards indicates that the rest of the team has abandoned him before letting Peter and Tony enter the Negative Zone, where the facilities are located. They see several cells before Peter confronts Tony again, and they argue, discussing the value of the law and loyalty. On the way out, Peter talks to Reed, who recounts a story about his uncle Ted, who was involved in the Un-American Activities Committee hearings during the McCarthy era -- and who was blacklisted because of his stance. Peter decides he wants out -- only to find himself in battle with Iron Man... as Spider-Man. (21 pages, continued)

Advertising: There are several ads -- two and a half pages -- for the Nickelodeon anime Avatar: Secret of the Fire Nation, which aired Sept. 15 -- way before I received my subscription copy.

Warning: Pogs are back. And this time they're made by Funrise.

Comic Index: Looney Tunes #142

November 2006
$2.25, DC Comics

Cover: (By Scott) A witch, vampire, mad scientist, and "fuzzball" drool over the silhouette of Bugs Bunny in a crystal ball. Witch: "Guess who's coming to dinner?"

Soccer Blocker (Writer: Sam Agro, Penciller: David Alvarez, Inker: Mike DeCarlo, Editor: Joan Hilty) Lured by a fake Giant International Soccer Festival held at Castle Bloodcount in Transylvania, Bugs encounters the fearsome four. In the end, they get theirs. Running gag: "Gooooaaaaal!" (Eight pages.)

Sea Schtick (Writer: Sholly Fisch, Penciller: Leo Batic, Inker: Horacio Ottolini, Editor: Joan Hilty) Bugs and Daffy, on their way to Death Valley, take (or don't take) the proverbial "left turn at Albuquerque" and end up in Atlantis. They meet King Neptune, stave off a pesky oceanographer, and end with a good callback pun. Best line: "I've traveled with you before." Caution: Lame sitcom-like end panel. (Eight pages.)

My Own Worst Enemy (Writer: Frank Strom, Penciller: Walter Carzon, Inker: Ruben Torreiro, Editor: Joan Hilty) Foghorn Leghorn meets his old imaginary friend, who proceeds to make him get egg on his face. (Six pages.)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Soft Cell

Not long ago, I forgot how -- perhaps inserted in my New York Times -- I obtained a couple of cell phone recycling envelopes from the Motorola Race to Recycle project.

Basically, the idea is this: In a Netflix- or Snapfish-like self-mailer, postage paid, you can send in your unused cell phone to be recycled and reused. You should take out your SIM card, and you can include your battery if you'd like -- but if you send in a phone, you'll help raise money for K-12 education programs.

I'll send in my old cell phone tomorrow. It's been sitting on my kitchen counter for a year now, unused, and this was a good excuse to transfer all the old numbers to my new phone, which I hadn't done yet. Also, it's hella better than throwing the phone away.

Recycle your old phones! Kudos, Motorola.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Choice Mail II

As you might recall, I've been looking for a quality digital audio recorder or way to use my cell phone to record MP3's.

Well, after going to a couple of low-grade electronics shops in Greenpoint, I learned -- from a customer, not a clerk -- that I could record directly to my iPod using the Belkin Voice Recorder.

So I bought one.

Just listen.

Pretty cool, eh? Now I need to carry my iPod and this adaptor with me all the time.

All the time.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


I'm a member of many social network services. Just look at the sidebar in this blog.

But no other YASNS (to tip fuzzy hat to Danah Boyd) has been as useless as MySpace, despite its hype and subsequent buy by Rupert Murdoch.

In fact, MySpace has become less interesting since the purchase. Since the buy, I've gotten more porn friend requests than legitimate search results.

And when I do respond to a musician who seems worth supporting -- say, a flautist in New York -- it opens me up to a deluge of crap.

Sturgeon's Law, on! Since I accepted Karin, I've received -- immediately -- seven questionable requests.

MySpace is on the wane, friends, regardless of the potential of social network services.

This is not the model.

Thought for Food VI

For the last year, almost, I've occasionally ordered food via ZipMenu, the Brooklyn and Staten Island counterpart of Manhattan-bound MenuPages.

Today, ZipMenu's team emailed me, as a customer, to let me know that they've been acquired by Apparently, my ZipMenu membership didn't carry over -- despite the service's promise of 2,000 DeliveryPoints, I'm unable to log in with what I'm sure is my existing account information. I've just emailed them to see what the deal is.

They just emailed me back via robot. They'd set my password as my email address. Huh! Doing a quick search, I only find three restaurants currently serving my neighborhood -- and very few, if any, maybe one of the restaurants previously included. ZipMenu just got a whole lot less interesting!

Earlier this evening, they even sent a followup message:

We just wanted to ask for your patience again as we continue to update menus and bring them up on our site. Many were out of date, which caused problems with orders. We hope to have all the restaurants you knew on zipmenu up on in the next several days, with additional ones in some areas.

Like all mergers, there seem to have been some rough edges to make smooth, but I'm excited about the idea of expanded service in my area! I also hope that ZipMenu's high level of customer of service carries over. In the past, I've emailed ZipMeny about delivery area exceptions, refunds, and the like, and someone from the service emailed me back personally. The robot is slightly disappointing, albeit understandable.

Fingers crossed that they work out the kinks!

PowerPoint of View

Part of my new job is doing research for and preparing PowerPoint presentations -- occasionally even writing someone's talk -- and it's been a crash course of sorts. I've never, ever used PowerPoint before. In fact, it was kind of a point of pride that I didn't know how to use it.

Turns out, it can be a fun -- and functional -- tool for communication, as long as you don't use it as it's intended to be used. While some of the presentations I've made have been relatively straight forward, reading Seth's ebook Really Bad PowerPoint has given me some fresh ideas.

Originally issued five years ago -- five years -- it's still worth a read. Download it if you've got a PowerPoint you've got to make.

Monday, September 18, 2006

These Links Were Made for Breaking? XII

It's been about three years since the last time I posted about deep-linking policies, but it seems that the Dallas Morning News has new company.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Belgian Association of Newspaper Editors has taken Google to court for linking to article-level pages rather than newspapers' home pages -- among other reasons.

Web pages that can't be linked to aren't really Web pages, now, are they?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Phone Tree

If you have a direct line -- or near-direct line -- to Randy Quaid or Barry Sobel, please email me.


Auction Oriented II

Also, I have a lot of Asian Cult Cinema magazines listed with eBay.

Get your bid on!

Auction Oriented

I just put up a lot (as in the unit, not the descriptive term) of Ideals magazines for sale via eBay.

If you'd like to get your bid on, please do so.

Also, send this notice to anyone and everyone who might be interested. It's a great batch of magazines.

Comic Index: Batman #656

October 2006
$2.99, DC Comics

Cover: (By Andy Kubert) Batman fights off more Man-Bats than you can shake a sword at.

Batman & Son
Part 2: Man-Bats of London

(Writer: Grant Morrison, Penciller: Andy Kubert, Inker: Jesse Delperdang, Editor: Peter Tomasi)

Bruce Wayne meets Jezebel Jet at an opening for an art exhibit featuring examples of pop art, including work reminiscent of Roy Lichtenstein. Outside, Alfred encounters a panicking Professor Langstrom, who indicates that something is about to happn. Inside, something does: The fete is attacked by a squad of ninja Man-Bats. Wayne doffs the garb of Batman and fights the Man-Bats, only to be knocked unconscious. When he comes to, he learns that the attack -- and the Man-Bat commandos -- is the work of Talia al Ghul. She introduces Batman to his son. (22 pages, continued)

Lovable Links

Delicious turned three years old yesterday. Happy birthday -- and kudos -- to all involved!

I love Delicious. You should, too.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Small Office, At Home Office

Not too long ago, I thought I might be working from home for a good amount of time, so I started outfitting my home office in the front room overlooking McGolrick Park. Then I got a full-time job instead of finding a bunch of projects as partially intended.

Tonight, during a rare evening at home this week after a week-plus of travel, I finally got the home office whipped into shape. I hooked up my new HP Deskjet D4160 printer. I put together my new D500P(N) task chair with adjustable arm. And I tested whether I can actually use my Airport-thrown wifi while sitting and working in the front room.

The printer works -- I just printed out my Yelp reviews of the Greenpoint places of interest I frequent for a new neighbor next door. The chair works; I'm sitting on it, sans arm(s). And the wifi works -- calloo, callay!

My laptop is perched on a folding table that reminds me of church growing up, and it's dark -- so I can't see the park.

But I have a home office. And it's comfortable. Easy, even. I can feel the evening breeze, hear occasional cricket song, and there's a steady undercurrent of traffic hum from the BQE.

Not bad. Maybe this SOHO thing is more than I thought it was!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Credit Where Credit is Past Due

I recently started a new job, and my application for a new corporate American Express card was declined because my "other American Express account was cancelled for derogatory reason(s)."

Now, I left my last job more than a year ago. And I stopped using that Amex well before I left. The company has been sold, and they closed all of the pre-existing Amex accounts early this year. So what kind of balance could possibly exist -- and who was responsible?

All of $150 was still on the card, the result of unreimbursed late fees because of the corporate transition. And even though the card was well out of my hands, when I called Amex, I learned that I was indeed responsible for clearing -- and cleaning -- it up.

Amex had already referred the account to an outside agency, so I called the number they gave me. That office referred me to another office -- and gave me a secondary reference number. That office referred me to another office. Finally, after three calls and three different toll-free number variations (866, 800, and 888, if you're curious), I was able to pay off the balance.

Now, in 12 business days, I can get back in touch with Amex to see what they can do in terms of approving my new corporate card.

But it makes me wonder: What's the point of a corporate card if the end responsibility falls to the cardholder -- and not the sponsor company? Can anyone enlighten me?


I just started reading Joshua Grossnickle and Oliver Raskin's 2001 book The Handbook of Online Marketing Research, and before the page numbers even stop being Roman, there are two different misspellings of Forrester Research: "Forester" and "Forsester."

Kinda makes me take the book with a grain of salt, you know?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Music to My Ears LXXI

I just made a new iTunes playlist based on an article in the Onion:

Cold War Paranoia

Download and get your dance on!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Consumating Asks VII

What do you fight for every day?

Relevance. Currency (timeliness -- and timelessness -- not money). And Al Green's proverbial love and happiness.

(From Consumating)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Consumating Asks VI

Richard Linklater: Now or later?

(My latest topic from Consumating.)

Consumating Asks V

So we met on the internet. Now we need a cover up story. What crazy tale do you tell people about how we met in real life?

"We met on the Internet. Have you checked out Consumating? No? Well, let me tell you all about it... Our first date involved a three-tag match, a series of messages, a 13-mile hike, and nine hours. We were both tired the next day. But not of each other!"

(From Consumating)

On the Need for a Universal Cell Phone Charger

My cell phone is made by LG. My friend's cell phone is made by LG.

Why doesn't her charger charge my phone?

The occasional need to charge your phone in an unusual place -- even if it's in the same phone family -- surely doesn't trump the money made by selling phone model-specific chargers.

Or does it?

School me, Media Dieticians. Why don't most LG phones use the same charger?

Choice Mail

For a few days now, I've wanted to be able to leave myself a voicemail -- and retrieve it as an MP3 file. Enter: GotVoice. I haven't tested the service fully, much less its free version, but you can learn more via TechCrunch. You might even learn about others I should check out -- in the comments, which I've yet to read.

So far, though, it checks out. It's easy to set up, and it works. Check this out:

My first voicemail MP3

I'd like to use a service like this instead of a portable digital recorder because it's phone driven. We'll see how it works for me! What I hope to be able to do is be able to leave myself voice memos, snippets of text and sound, and ideas... and then access them on my laptop. I also hope to be able to listen to voicemail on my phone, leave some messages behind, and download them later -- not all voicemail will end up as digital files. (I've called three friends to help me test this.)

Have any Media Dieticians used this or similar services? Any recommendations of solutions?

Update: Apparently, I can't call myself and leave a voicemail. Dialing my own number dumps me into Cingular's voicemail retrieval system. Does anyone know about any Cingular hacks on how to leave yourself a voicemail on your own phone -- without calling from another phone?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Untrue Grit

After decades of curiosity -- largely fueled by comic book ads -- I finally checked out Grit. Remember Grit? The newspaper that kids could sell door to door to earn points they could exchange for valuable prizes? Well, it's still around.

To my dismay, however, the August 2006 issue was Grit's last as a newspaper. That 48-page tabloid opens with an editor's letter announcing that the next issue would be a magazine. A magazine? Jean Teller's four-page history of the paper takes a look at other changes the paper has faced over the last 125 years.

And the September/October issue, which arrived in my mailbox today, is Grit's first as a magazine. I've yet to read the 100-page bimonthly, but at first glance, it looks a little bit Yankee, a little bit Sunset, and maybe a smidge Reminisce or Saturday Evening Post.

The design is better than that of the just-passed tabloid, and the read appears a little meatier, but I can't help but think that something has been lost. Let's take a moment of silence and take a look at one of the classic Grit ads.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Friday, August 18, 2006

Working up the Gums

You may have noticed that Bazooka Joe is undergoing a rebranding and marketing campaign. Yes, the song and dance is nice, but it might just be that: song and dance.

It's not just that Brooklyn's own Tha Heights is contributing their vocal stylings to the campaign, it's that Dubble Bubble is finally inhaling some of Bazooka Joe's rarified air.

Examples: Dubble Bubble, made by Concord Confections, now sports a cartoon character named Pud. Dubble Bubble also is now flat -- it used to be a dime-sized round -- and comes wrapped with a jokey comic strip.

Meanwhile, Bazooka Joe, made by baseball card impresario Topps, is headed by the eponymous Joe... is flat... and comes wrapped with a jokey comic strip.

Who's zooming whom?

Do the ginchy Bazooka Joe dance to ward off any evil spirits, please. Bazooka Joe deserves the support.

From the Reading Pile XXXII

It's been almost a full year to the day that I've submitted a batch of reviews to Zine World. But the new issue -- #23! -- just came in the mail today, and that lit a fire in my belly to finally type up some reviews I penned awhile ago. Here, then, are the reviews I recently submitted to the zine of zines!

Can You Hear Me in the Back? #2 (February 2006): I grew up in southern Wisconsin, so I have a soft spot for the Midwest punk rock scene. This handwritten, cut-and-paste zine combines the best and worst of what small regional scenes produce. The single-page columns are shallow and somewhat silly, although Max Suechting's anti-voting piece, "This Party Is Fuckin' Lame," borders on interesting but stops shy of insightful. He contends that voting in a representative democracy shunts the responsibility for activism away from the voter; I don't see them as mutually exclusive. "Mel" briefly recommends several books that appear worth reading, and the issue is capped by interviews with Stoughton-based SFN and the Modern Machines from Milwaukee. The interviews are the highlight of this fun and friendly zine and touch on regional music history, the local scene, and how politics connects with punk rock. Worth checking out, especially if you're from the Midwest! Amos Pitsch, 1510 Henry St., Neenah, WI 54596, email. [? 16S :12]

Eville: Big Rock Show: Bad Burrito and Evil Nacho try to sneak into the Broken Eardrum to see the Crawl and the Horror Movie Dropouts. They end up having to pay. That's about the extent of the narrative, but Luke's comic is notable for several reasons. One, the characters are extremely basic in their design and naming: our two heroes, and Frankenfloppy (my favorite!) and Lippy. Also, the layout -- brief text pages containing the exposition and dialogue alternating with full-page illustrated pages -- is a neat approach to comics making. Finally, Luke's artwork is highly stylized and unlike much of what I'm used to. Keep up the good work! P.O. Box 20005, West Village Station, New York, NY 10014, email, web. [? 24XS :02]

Fuck! Vol. 8 #8 (August 2005): It's been awhile since I've read Lee Thorn's photocopied poetry zine. And I'm not sure I've missed much! This edition features 10 poems by five poets -- most of them by Gary Every, whose "God, I Love Accordions" stands out as the best of his southwestern observations. Otherwise, Reed Altemus' "Stiff Switches Bounding Mail" struck me as a comic example of poetic pastiche -- detached words that still somehow work well together. There's not a lot here to hold onto. An acquired taste, perhaps! Lee Thorn, Box 85571, Tucson, AZ 85754. [$2 6M :05]

Fusion #1 (January 2005): This zine is somewhat similar to Mind Clutter in that it's published by a young woman who's questioning her self-image and social relationships. But Meena's writing and self-exploration isn't as developed or mature as Jenn's. That said, this zine is still good to see, as it's where many of us start. Positioning herself as the "original outcast," which is somewhat laughable yet loveable, Meena offers brief glances at her current thoughts about feminism; gender roles in southern California; fashion, self-confidence, and friendship; being raised by immigrant parents; and other topics. The zine, while quick and occasionally cliched (read: universal?), is a good introduction to Meena's mind -- and a sign that she's heading in the right direction by seeking opportunities for self-expression and connection with others. Meena Ramakrishnan, email. [? 16S :04]

Go for Seven #1 (May 2005): At first, Scott's artwork reminded me of the early comics work of Jef Czekaj -- I think it was the eyes -- but it didn't take long to for Scott to show he has his own thing going on. There are basically two sides to this minicomic. Pep is a punk rocker who's approached by a mohawked friend to save him from a dissatisfying relationship -- and who hangs out with his friend Willy drinking beer and watching cartoons. Then there's the "incredible Jesus the clown," who, after 2,000 years in heaven -- jail -- gets released only to stop off at Saturn for a drink. The rough art has charm, and there's enough pathos and parody to maintain interest. But all in all, it's an uneven effort -- in fact, the comic took almost a year to complete. Worth continuing. Scott Kindberg, 70 Camelback Court, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523, email. [$1 or trade 20S :03]

Mind Clutter #2: This zine reads extremely well, so well that given some effort, it could probably be expanded into one of those postmodern coming-of-age novels published by MTV Books. That's not a bad thing. For the most part, this issue tells the tale of an evening Jenn spent with an old friend in suburban California. Because both women were in high school, their lives still largely intersected -- sushi, tagging bus benches and hardcore shows -- but the night also identified how they were growing apart: One had gotten into drugs and (gasp!) screamo music, while the other -- Jenn -- remained an idealist. Jenn's writing is clean and clear and has a clever cadence that makes me think she'd be fun to talk to. An excellent introduction to her world… and zinemaking. Jenn, P.O. Box 800757, Santa Clarita, CA 91380-0757, email. [$1 or trade 28XS :07]

One Story #40: This is an awesome project. Every three weeks, subscribers receive a new edition, which includes a single short story between 3,000 and 8,000 words in length. No wonder it's called the "literary magazine you'll actually read." This edition, published in June 2004 and distributed free at the 2006 South by Southwest conference, features "Letters in the Snow" by Melanie Rae Thon. It's a disturbingly gentle story about a woman on the run -- from a crime, from an abusive husband, from an unsupportive family, and from herself. The story is well written and well worth reading. Send for a sample issue -- and consider subscribing! P.O. Box 1326, New York, NY 10156, web. [$1 32S :16]

Tones and Notes #3 (April 2005): This fascinating, text-heavy photocopied digest focuses on musical self-education and alternative notation systems. Published by the folks behind the ever-charming and -inspiring Dwelling Portably, this zine touches on the "Easy Chord" system, the possible dangers of copyright, easily typed letter notation systems, the STMN and FLMN music notation systems, and popular music on the radio. While this approach to learning music is utterly fascinating, I think it's as difficult -- if not moreso -- than learning traditional staff notation. So I'm curious what the point is… and benefit. Still, Bert's largely correspondence-driven approach is wonderful to see. (Nice use of annotated P.O. Box addressing, by the way!) Light Living Library, P.O. Box 190-tn, Philomath, OR 97370. [$1 or trade 12S :10]

Wave 2.5 #5 (Spring 2005): This is the best zine I've read so far in this review batch. Mimi Marinucci's pocket-sized feminist zine is equally fun and functional, personal and political. Following a small-print essay on GLBT culture, differences between transsexuality and transgenderism, and the need to broaden the use of the term "queer" (written for a zine called the F-Word), Mimi offers a number of thought- and occasionally laughter-provoking short items. Highlights include the children-oriented warning labels recast as "drastic solutions to unwanted pregnancy," the wicked women crossword puzzle, and the Menstrual Voodoo recipes. But what I appreciate most about the zines is its focus on introducing readers to new ideas and resources. Mimi doesn't spend a lot of time on any topic, but her brief nods to the Radical Cheerleaders, culture jamming, natural healer Nita Duff Marshall, and common herbs of the northwest give readers just enough to go on -- perhaps inspiring their own self-led learning. This is a zine to follow! Email. [Donation or trade 44XS :09]

World in Trouble (2004): This extremely brief sketchbook of sorts reminds me of the work the Paper Radio folks might do were they less inspired. The 14 images combine innocent and cartoony icons with occasional attempts at black humor and political commentary. Examples include a fanged clown stabbing a star, a man trapped in a TV, a Smurf-like creature with worms and snakes in his hair, a man eating a sandwich labeled Bush's Lies, and a phallic King Kong image. Despite the easily dismissable content of this edition, there is one artistic highlight. The illustration of a winged Bender (from Futurama) playing pinball shows how good an artist the publisher can be, as well as how simple and subtle detournements of popcult imagery can often be more successful. P.O. Box 14007, Minneapolis, MN 55414, email. [$1 or a stamp 32XS :01]

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Atlantic: 150 Years of Technology and Innovation?

True, the Atlantic Monthly once had a truly rocking Web site (now it's just rocking, fair and simple), but when you think of magazines that cover technology and innovation, does the Atlantic leap to mind? Most likely, no. So imagine my surprise and delight when I got an email invitation to the forthcoming Day of Ideas tour.

This edition of the invitation -- I've received at least one other to date -- focuses on technology and innovation... and it's a doozy. As well as a reminder of how relevant the Atlantic can be. Just check out this run of back articles:

That's a pretty kick-ass roundup of articles worth reading and thinking about. Here's to the next 150 years!

Almost Famous, Amos!

I'm mentioned in Media Bistro's blog Fishbowl LA today. Sorry if I didn't help you make your flights!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Consumating Asks III

Do you like Henry James?

(My latest topic from Consumating.)

SXS... What?

I've proposed several panel ideas for the next SXSW Interactive, and I am keen on being involved in any and every way.

Vote... and vote often.

(Search for my name to find my options.)

Comics and Commuting

Congratulations to Tom Hart, local cartoonist, educator, and creator of the comic strip Hutch Owen! Starting Monday, Aug. 14, his strip will be published in the New York and Boston editions of Metro.

That's huge.

Not only does Metro has an impressive circulation in both cities, Hutch Owen is decidedly not standard daily newspaper fare:

Hutch Owen is an outsider and sort of philosopher of the street, crying out in a corrupt wilderness against the rampant greed, cynicism, and worship of the almighty dollar in today's culture.

Tom's work has been nominated for the Harvey, Eisner, and Ignatz awards. Kudos on this latest success, Tom!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Tape Worm

If anyone has the March 17, 1954, episode of This Is Your Life on DVD, let me know. I'd like to obtain a copy.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Friday, August 04, 2006

Games People Play XIX

This is my favorite band today. They should be yours, too!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Consumating Asks

I've recently connected my Consumating account with this here blog because I like Ben and trust him. Turns out that said connection is in beta and not overly flexible, hence this contextual edit.

In Consumating, you can ask questions of other members. And they can respond. If you like these questions, sign up -- and respond. If you don't, nod and wink at this kind of post... or leave a comment with your reply.

But Consumating rocks. You should check it out.

In New York, at least, it's hot. What do you do to stay cool when the thermometer's pushin' its limits?

(My latest topic from Consumating.)

Fire the Gatekeepers

In the About the Authors section in the back of the Group of 33's The Big Moo, my contributor's note reads, in part, "Heath Row hopes to meet you some day."

This evening, almost a year after the book's publication, I received my very first email in explicit response to that call to action:

Heath, I just got off a plane where I finished reading The Big Moo. I have a strange feeling that you either want to meet me, or are realizing that you made one of life's inexpensive mistakes.

Attaboy, Will. There's an email in your in box. The ball's in your court!

Comic Index: Uncanny X-Men #477

October 2006
$2.99, Marvel Comics

Cover: (Painting by John Watson) Vulcan goes ballistic.

The Rise and Fall of the Shi'ar Empire
Chapter Three: Vulcan's Progress

(Writer: Ed Brubaker, Penciler: Clayton Henry, Inker: Mark Morales, Editor: Mike Marts)

Having learned about his origin from Marvel Girl and Professor Xaviar, Vulcan (nee Gabriel Summers) is on the warpath. Making his way through outer space, Vulcan hunts down Shi'ar craft, peaceful and otherwise -- destroying them. Having interrogated a survivor, he commandeers a warship. After learning about the history of the Shi'ar, Vulcan proceeds to make his way toward the Throneworld, leaving a string of destroyed stargates in his wake. Upon reaching the inner realms of the empire, he encounters the Imperial Guard -- including the Gladiator. (22 pages, continued)

Lettercol: X-Mail
Commenting on #475, correspondents include Nick Marino, Stacia Robbins, and Chad Ewell.

Comic Index: Archie #568

October 2006
$2.25, Archie Comics

Cover: (Stan Goldberg and Bob Smith) Archie's sitting on a lifeguard's chair, located on a beach filled with a bevy of beauties. Jughead: "What are you so happy about?" Archie: "The head lifeguard just ordered me to work an extra shift!"

Why? (Script: Kathleen Webb, Pencils: Stan Goldberg, Inking: Bob Smith, Editor: Victor Gorelick) In order to earn money to take out Veronica, Archie does yard work for his father, Veronica's dad, and Betty's father -- to disastrous effect. (Six pages.)

Summertime Date! (Script: Greg Crosby, Pencils: Stan Goldberg, Inks: Bob Smith) Archie goes to the movies, and his mom and dad remember their days going to the drive in during the summer. In the end, they decide they're better off staying at home. (Six pages.)

A Piece of Cake (Script: Barbara Slate, Pencils: Stan Goldberg, Inks: Bob Smith) Veronica asks Archie what he sees in Betty, and he wishes he didn't have to have his cake... and eat it, too! (Five pages.)

Monstrous Thoughts (Script: Mike Pellowski, Pencils: Stan Goldberg, Inks: Bob Smith) At the Riverdale Monster Truck Rally, Archie and Jughead imagine what it'd be like to drive a monster truck. Their verdict: Too monstrous. (Five pages.)

Join the (Film) Club! II

This is a class apart from the other film club I recently learned about, but this evening, a colleague turned me onto the William Shatner DVD Club.

For $4 a month, you can subscribe to DVD's that include such seeming stinkers as the Butterfly Effect, Immortel, it2i2, Virus, Close Your Eyes, and a secret bonus film starring the Shat himself!

Don't think of it as $48/year, but $4 a DVD. Can't beat that!

B Movies on the A List

The kind of sinister cinema usually relegated to the back pages of Filmfax magazine received a perhaps-unintentional nudge toward legitimacy this week.

In the July 31, 2006, edition of the New Yorker, Richard Brody reviews Kino on Video's recent DVD reissue of Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler, the 1922 film by Fritz Lang.

Meanwhile, in the New York Times, Dave Kehr considers the just-released Mr. Moto Collection, Volume One, which showcases Peter Lorre in the finest of form.

Must be something in the water -- but it's wonderful to see!

Dr. Mabuse, meet Mr. Moto.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Super Stamps

Super Stamps
Originally uploaded by h3athrow.
It's rare that I get excited about a special series of stamps released by the United States Postal Service. But late this month, one of the best designed and packaged series hit post offices across the country.

With 10 portraits of super heroes from DC Comics, as well as 10 historic covers, the set was a collaboration between the USPS and DC -- and features information on the back about the heroes, origins, and storylines... and even credits the creators who produced the original artwork.

I bet Marvel is foaming at the mouth over this. Who knew there could be so excellent a reason to go to the post office?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Join the (Film) Club!

I received a DVD in the mail today from the Ironweed Film Club, a subscription service that helps members organize grassroots screening series.

The deal is this: For $14.95 -- I signed up for a free trial -- you get a DVD a month. The DVD I received features three films: Saverio Costanzo's "Private," Marjan Safinia and Joseph Boyle's "Seeds," and Ari Sandel's "West Bank Story." Films range from 20-90 minutes in length.

Members can participate in an online community by publishing blogs and posting playlists -- movies they're watching. And every month, there are opportunities to give back by signing petitions and the like.

I've yet to watch the movies, but I'm intrigued by this project. Has anyone else had experience with Ironweed?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

More Than Just Media Diet

In order to try out the new Vox platform, I've started a parallel blog to Media Diet: The New Yorkest. For the nonce, I will dedicate my New York-related posts to that new blog, and reserve Media Diet for more media-related commentary. I may recombine my efforts in the future, but for now, I'd like to see where the New Yorkest takes me. Check it out!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Subscription Prescription IV

Fast company magazine is currently going for $5 a year. You won't be able to beat that price any time soon, perhaps not ever again. Sign up, son.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Grassroots Zine Insurance

I recently had surgery. So did Fred Woodworth, publisher of the long-running zine the Match. He's in slightly worse shape than I am.

For those who have spent more than a few years in the zine community, the name of Fred Woodworth is well known. Fred is the publisher of The Match, the oldest explicitly anarchist publication in North America. It's quite possibly the longest running zine, The Match has been published since 1969.

Today Fred Woodworth needs our help. He has recently had to undergo major surgery. The resulting bills have be overwhelming and Fred has fallen on hard times. He has never been able to afford private health coverage.

Donations and get well cards can be sent to:

Fred Woodworth
c/o The Match
Box 3012
Tucson, Arizona 85702

Help out if you're able!

Plastic Surgery Disasters

I had eye surgery yesterday.

Late last fall, I got an eye infection, and for several months, my doctor prescribed an antibiotic to combat the infection, which came and went for several months.

This spring, we detected small, solid forms beneath my eyelids -- first my upper lid, and then, my lower lid. My doctor referred me to an ophthalmologist.

The ophthalmologist determined that the forms were chalazions, and I began a treatment schedule involving different oral antibiotics, topical steroids, and warm compresses administered several times a day.

Several weeks ago, I decided that because the treatments weren't making the chalazions go away -- they occasionally go away naturally themselves after several months -- I wanted to pursue other options. My ophthalmologist considered just changing the antibiotic I was taking but then referred me to an eye surgeon who specializes in plastic surgery and reconstructive surgery of the eyelids.

Yesterday, I had my first appointment. It appeared that it was going to just be a consultative visit -- with minor surgery scheduled later -- but the chalazions were far along enough, and mildly infected, so the surgeon had me come back later in the day to excise the lower lid's form.

All told, I was at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary for more than four hours. And the surgery was fascinating. When she administered the local anasthetic, it felt like she was inserting a wire across the length of my lower lid. She was, in fact, injecting a liquid anasthetic.

She applied a clamp to the lower lid to flip it over so the chalazion would present itself. Then she shaved off the outer layer of the form, which looked like a little lump of speckled flesh, and scooped out the gelatinous innards -- saving some to send for testing. She applied a liquid to clot the blood, put on an eye patch with medical tape, and I was on my way.

You can learn more about the procedure than you may want to know here, here, and here.

The walk home was touch and go because I didn't have any depth perception, and I decided not to go the Weakerthans show I had tickets for so I didn't have to deal with darkness, crowds, stairs, traffic, and so forth. More bothersome than the lack of depth perception was the lack of peripheral vision. To turn corners, I'd basically stop and look behind me to make sure I didn't cut anyone off. I was glad to get home.

Before bed, I removed the eye patch and checked our her work. Not bad! I'm not overly bruised, the lid is decidedly flatter, and once the swelling goes down, I'll look next to normal.

Next week: The upper lid. Photos to come!

Update: This is only a disaster because I had to miss the Weakerthans show. And if I hadn't missed that, I would've been tempted by the Mission of Burma show in my neighborhood tonight (July 14). As it is, I'm staying in. Harrumph.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

On the New Frugality

I've lived in New York City for two and a half years now. And I've almost always made fun of the bottled-water-and-a-dried-lemon-in-the-fridge stereotype of New Yorkers.

Yet it's become true.

Most weeks, days, I drop my laundry off for washing. I buy a bagel or croissant for breakfast. I buy an $8 sandwich for lunch. And I rarely cook dinner at home. If I do, it's at my girlfriend's house... and a shared meal. Not an every day occurrence. Or I go somewhere I want to Yelp about.

Today has been different. And good. (I still wrote a Yelp review.)

Last night, I made a sandwich to refrigerate overnight for lunch today. I ate a bowl of cereal while watching NY1 this morning. I ate the sandwich at work -- as well as a bunch of candy (I need to pack a bigger lunch!). And I cooked pasta and sauce at home for dinner. I have leftovers, which a houseguest can eat when he gets home later tonight -- and which I can partake of again tomorrow!

The pasta recipe:

  • Pasta: Boil some. I like farfalle. That's what I ate tonight.
  • Sauce: Put some oil in a pot. Warm it. Add some garlic (at least two cloves). Brown. Add a can of crushed tomatoes. Add dry oregano, parsley, and basil to taste. Add some dried mushrooms (say, shiitake). Simmer.
  • Add sauce to pasta.
  • Consume.

Money spent: $0.

Value -- and personal progress: Priceless.

From the in Box: Nuclear Fiction

I emailed the editorial team of the American Scholar some questions about the new issue, which features what might be their first fiction ever, and this is what managing editor Jean Stipicevic said in response this evening:

We like fiction and would like to publish it. Frances Kiernan has
agreed to select the fiction we publish. It will be an ongoing part of the magazine. As far as we know (I've been here since 1972), it's the first time fiction has been included.

Kiernan is former fiction editor for the New Yorker. (She was with the department for 30 years.) Whether Kiernan will grace the Scholar's masthead is yet to be determined -- she doesn't online right now -- but this might be a solid step in the direction of an ever-more relevant "little" magazine, nee journal.

(Thank you, Jean, for responding to my query. Media Dieticians the world over appreciate it!)

Nuclear Fiction

The current issue of the American Scholar is the first to include fiction. The new edition includes short stories by Alice Munro and David Leavitt in addition to the little magazine's usual essays and reviews. You can order a copy via Atomic Books if you're interested.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Clothes Whore XIV

Today on the train home from work, a bearded fellow asked me about my T-shirt.

I told him it was made by Scooterworks and that they trafficked in parts and gear related to... scooters.

What I didn't tell him (because I didn't know at the time) was that they're having a T-shirt sale. Use the coupon code SHIRTME, and you could save some bank.

For a limited time only, of course!

Take This Job and Love It II

I stopped working for Fast Company full time last August.

Just recently, they hired a new Web editor: Lynne d Johnson. Congratulations to my successor... and best of luck!

She'll do a great job. Better than I did.

Paperback Schnooks

What the heck? I go away for a week in Wisconsin, and Amanda Congdon and Rocketboom part ways?

Meanwhile, a signed, first edition of Christopher Paolini's Eragon becomes the highest selling children's book?

It's not just that.

The book sold on Ebay for more than $9,000, edging out a first edition of Little Black Sambo.

We're talking Eragon. For $9,000.

In what kind of world does that make sense?

Two signs down, five to go.

Subscription Prescription III

Inspired by the new Superman Returns movie, which I saw last week, and my recent reading of Stan Lee's autobiography Excelsior!, I subscribed to a handful of comic books today.

Comic books are like magazines. You don't need to go to a store to buy them, but they're not as deeply discounted because the business model isn't based as strongly on subscriptions.

What if subscriptions -- mail subs, not store pull subs -- were more important to comic book publishers?

A recent issue of Looney Tunes included subscription cards for Mad Kids and Teen Titans Go! but not the title itself. Also, not all comic books include subscription ads.

What's up with that?

Subscribe to a comic book today.

At least one.

I recommend DC Comics, Marvel and Archie.

Physical Graffiti

My parents went on a Holland America cruise to Alaska not too long ago, and on the ship was one of the more interesting examples of embedding information in physical spaces that I've come across recently.

In every elevator is a carpet. Every day, the cruise ship's crew changes that carpet. On that carpet is printed (embroidered, whatever) the day of the week.

So when you get on an elevator, if the carpet says "Wednesday," you know that it's Wednesday. You don't need to go out of your way to find out what day it is; it's just there, in multiple locations, throughout the day.

Sure beats checking receipts to see what time it is -- or the newspaper for the day's date!

Comic Strips and Community

Per the July 8 installation of Greg Evans's comic strip, Luann, the character Sheraton St. Louis has a Myspace account!

Are there other comic strip characters with "official" Myspace accounts?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Five Years Down

Today, this very day, marks the five-year anniversary of Media Diet's beginning.

I began blogging on June 27, 2001, inspired by the chance to meet with Blogger cofounder Evan Williams.

Evan has since moved on to help launch the podcasting pioneer Odeo, yet I remain loyal, even continuing to use one of the service's earliest templates.

I remain in touch with the current Blogger team -- I call them the Jasons -- and I love the service like little else online. (OK, Stewart, Flickr is rad, too.)

Gods bless Blogger. And blogging.

P.S. Double thanks to Jon Ferguson and the previously taken-advantage-of Cardhouse for support over all these years. I still consider myself a contributor to your house of cards.

P.P.S. And if you want to keep up with all things Heath, check out my personal Squidoo lens.