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.