Monday, December 27, 2010

Wading into the 21st century

I type this using the Firefox extension ScribeFire in order to talk about the use of my new G2 phone and to test out its tethering function. My parents have cable but no Internet, so it's always tricky trying to find some way to get online. I had to install two applications, one for my laptop, another for my phone, in order to get any sort of connection. It's working right now and I'm rather amazed. This is like being in the middle of a jungle with a satellite phone as my only means of communication, only with smaller, lighter equipment and much less money needed.

However, such breaks from being ever connected (or at least potentially ever connected) give me opportunities to step back and evaluate where I am. Now a house cleaning is in order, literally and metaphorically speaking, which will be followed by a new order. To aid in this endeavor, I'll keep a list of what I've parted with. It will serve as a map of progress.

Meanwhile, I'll be thinking about this year and all I need to do in the time that remains.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Friends and projects

My friend Bo is working on creating a record and asking for funds via Kickstarter. Minimum pledge is $1 for a song and public thanks. More info here:

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New season

Finals are done. After some rest, change.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Review of Garth Ennis's "Punisher: Valley Forge, Valley Forge"

The Punisher MAX, Vol. 10: Valley Forge, Valley Forge
The Punisher MAX, Vol. 10: Valley Forge, Valley Forge by Garth Ennis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Garth Ennis ends his five-year run on the Punisher series not with a shower of bullet casings falling to the floor, but with the slow, intense burn indicting those who would seek to profit from war. Because this was published under Marvel's MAX series, Ennis and a stable of wonderful artists (Goran Parlov does some of his best work in this volume) had much more creative freedom to explore the idea of the Punisher in the real world. Who needs to be punished the most severely today? The answer: those who would pave their career paths with the blood and bodies of innocent soldiers as they seek a comfortable retirement. In the world of comics, no one deserving goes unpunished. A shame that does not yet hold true in the real world.

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

'Matthew Herbert - How I made a concert out of the Guardian'

Via, of course, the Guardian newspaper. The article says Herbert based his composition on the September 25, 2010 issue. The concert, titled "One Day," is scheduled to debut on November 20 at the Royal Festival Hall in London.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

'I love stop motion'

I love stop motion from chloe fleury on Vimeo.
"Personal project about stop motion story. Everything is made of papers. Big thanks to Erin Austin and Rob Gungor who made the music."

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Robyn - Indestructible (dance version)

Indestructible (Edit) by robyn


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Review of "Literary Hoaxes" by Melissa Katsoulis

Literary Hoaxes: An Eye-Opening History of Famous Frauds
Literary Hoaxes: An Eye-Opening History of Famous Frauds by Melissa Katsoulis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(More like 3.5 stars.) Aside from needing copy editing in the Ern Malley section, this was a good book. It often read like a series of columns about different literary hoaxes and pranks. The only section I couldn't finish was the Holocaust memoirs. I felt ill knowing that these writers were using that tragic period for less than honorable reasons.

Many hoaxes fed into many people's propensity to gravitate toward the outrageous and conspiratorial. The more harmless ones highlighted criticisms of the literary establishment or jumpstarted a writer's career. (Big example: Dan Brown.) Katsoulis's book shows how powerful the printed word can still be, and how journalists, critics and experts are invaluable when it comes to exposing the truth behind the hoax.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Looking at naked "Bodies" and catching "The A-Team"

For the first issue of Monsoon, i.e. the Arizona Summer Wildcat's arts section, I take a sneak peek of the "Bodies...The Exhibition" currently on display in the Rialto Building until September. Words, in this case, can prove to be inadequate, which is why there's also a slideshow. Gordon took some amazing photos for this.

Continuing the '80s revival is "The A-Team" movie. I say it's good for an escape from the summer heat. Another '80s revival, The Karate Kid, is also out in theaters. I'll have to catch that, too, since they were formative pieces of my pop culture tastes.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Review of "Best American Magazine Writing 2001"

Overall, an excellent collection. Highlights by order of appearance:

Gretel Ehrlich's "The Endless Hunt" - about her experiences on the ice with her Greenland Inuit friends as they hunt for food. Harrowing stories.
Anthony Lane's "The Maria Problem" - A review of the "Singalong-a-Sound-of-Music" event along with an "appreciation" of the movie musical.
Rian Malan's "In the Jungle" - amazing in-depth investigation that uncovers one of pop music's great mysteries and tragedies.
Robert Kurson's "My Favorite Teacher" - Kurson tries to grapple with the fact that his high school biology teacher and role model is a serial sex offender convicted of murdering a teenage hitchhiker.
David Foster Wallace's "The Weasel, Twelve Monkeys and the Shrub" - a dense yet incisive look at the 2000 McCain presidential campaign and what it means to be a journalist covering it, what it means to be a potential voter caught in it. A stark contrast to his 2008 campaign.
Malcolm Gladwell's "The Pitchman" - a profile that is as engaging as its subject, Ron Popeil.
William Langewiesche's "The Million-Dollar Nose" - another profile, but accordingly, of a different flavor that is no less interesting than Popeil. This one is on the influential American wine critic, Robert Parker.
Elizabeth Gilbert's "The Ghost" - an amazing look at Hank Williams III and his struggles to deal with his grandfather and father's legacy while marking his own path as a musician.
Lewis H. Lapham's "Stupor Mundi" - a wonderful essay on Patrick O'Brian, author of the "Master & Commander" series. This can induce anyone to seek out O'Brian's work.
Donna Tartt's "The Glory of J.F. Powers" - a critical essay/review that coincides with the reprint of Powers' stories, which had a decidedly unromantic view of priests and the Catholic church.

Also worth reading for certain aspects:
Bill Vaughn's "Skating Backwards" - a humorous chronicle of Vaughn's efforts to transform a patch of polluted swamp into a cozy, clean pond.
Sean Flynn's "The Perfect Fire" - a tragic tale of a warehouse fire that claimed the lives of six firefighters.
Anne Fadiman's "Mail" - a personal essay on handwritten letters just as email began to take over people's lives via AOL.
Robert Olen Butler's "Fair Warning" - a short story about a young female auctioneer who can sell anything yet cannot find love.
Donald L. Barrett and James B. Steele's "Big Money & Politics," "Soaked by Congress," Throwing the Game" - a series of articles that examines how campaign finance and lobbying efforts prove detrimental to the average US citizen.
Jonathan Gold's "Paris on the Hudson" - a fun review of New York's Pastis restaurant.
James Wolcott's "Forever Young" - a critical appreciation for the work and legacy of the singer and entertainer, Bobby Darin.

(From my Goodreads review.)

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Quotes to remember

It is the deep conviction of vast numbers of individuals that they have no proper story. Their personal experience of storylessness, and hence of valuelessness, is very great. Dramatic resolutions are lacking — loves, no one believes in; flights, captivities, wilderness campaigns, the founding of colonies, explorations, the adventures which for centuries were made possible by an expanding world, all these are absent. Nevertheless people still conceive of themselves as actors and characters. They are prepared but they are not called into action. They feel like unemployed extras; they stand ready and have nothing to do but bear passive, humiliating witness to the greater significance of the new man-made world. Joyce meant to say, I think, that there is remaining significance in myth which sustains the individual. The collective life of mankind he does not admire. History, he agrees with Marx, is a nightmare from which we struggle to awaken. But myth, an extract from the experience of the race, can, he feels, give meaning to the life of the individual and sustain him invisibly. Art — the fresh feeling, new harmony, the transforming magic which by means of myth brings back the scattered distracted soul from its modern chaos — art, not politics, is the remedy.

— Saul Bellow, in "Writers" by Nancy Crampton, dated 1973

All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man: its one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him. If it be aristocratic in organization, then it seeks to protect the man who is superior only in law against the man who is superior in fact; if it be democratic, then it seeks to protect the man who is inferior in every way against both. One of its primary functions is to regiment men by force, to make them as much alike as possible and as dependent upon one another as possible, to search out and combat originality among them. All it can see in an original idea is potential change, and hence an invasion of its prerogatives. The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.
— H. L. Mencken, Smart Set, December 1919

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Another spring comes to an end

The last articles of the spring:

The Arizona International Film Festival's opening night shorts - great start to this 10-day event.
I talked to the main guy behind Marvel's motion comics about his latest project, "Iron Man: Extremis."
The AIFF's "The Tijuana Project" can be heartbreaking if it weren't for the kids.
Though the title is a little more confrontational than I like, it complements the topic of nondrinkers. I get an official Letter to the Editor about this column.
I got news of supposed appearances by Lupe Fiasco & B.o.B. at a Sam Adams concert.
Finally, I review the top 10 UA/Tucson arts stories of the 2009-10 year.

Amazing at how much happens in Tucson if one looks and listens carefully.

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Sunday, April 4, 2010

What I've been up to, as of April 3

Sorry for the quiet here. I've been busy:

For the March 31 issue, I review The Desert of Shallow Effects, the solo debut of former Beulah frontman Miles Kurosky, and the new Goldfrapp CD. I also read the new Twilight graphic novel, which, given the source material, it's not bad. The Comics Corner revue returns.

I talk about the first day of the 2010 Tucson Festival of Books, which happened the weekend of March 14.

And in the Feb. 3 issue, events for Black History month at the UA.

Every issue of the Arizona Daily Wildcat is now available at as PDF versions of the print edition. You can see the page design this way. The Wednesday WildLife section looks pretty sweet.

Back to work.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Busy busy busy business

Funny that after talking about the fragmented decade I become a person in charge of selecting moments of the new decade for prosperity. (I still believe that paper will outlast electronics longer, if not better. Of course, it doesn't hurt to back up paper with electronic copies.)

Putting together an arts/culture/lifestyle section greatly depends on what its goals are. Even though the World Wide Web is supposed to be the great equalizer when it comes to distribution, this is clearly not the case. Every search engine ranks its results, and some, like Google, determine these rankings based on how much money is paid for one's own place. Also, it helps to know who your audiences are and how your content is distributed to them.

With that in mind, I've been trying to make the Arizona Daily Wildcat arts section focused primarily on local events with some connections to national and international events and news. The main impetus for this is that the vast majority of the Wildcat print readers are UA students, faculty, and staff. The rest of the print readers are members of the Tucson community. Most online readers, it seems, are alumni and a few students who didn't pick up a copy of the paper. (The fact that the Wildcat now posts PDF versions of each edition to is great. Visitors can see the design layout of each page.) Given that our ad revenue still comes primarily from print ads, it is a background concern for an editor, unfortunately.

As I understand the responsibilities of the advertising department, they sell print and online space to businesses and individuals based on the content of the section and the section's reader demographics. If the advertisers and the sellers know what the section is about and who the readers should be, then they can determine what ads would be most appropriate for the section. With the amount of money going into print advertising decreasing across the publishing industry (of course, there are some notable exceptions), it can be difficult to keep this in mind.

However, due to the various megamergers of the past 30 years and the subsequent formation of monolithic, international conglomerates, publications that used to be fed from different tables by different chefs are now seated at the same table and eat from the same menu. (Don't know if this metaphor works...) The employees at the different companies are often painfully aware that they are competing with people who are essentially coworkers.

Given the importance of advertising and editorial content, some newspapers have taken a proactive approach to what appears in their paper, even when it comes to ads. This is nothing new to many magazines, though, especially since they are aimed at niches with easily identifiable readers. (I'm thinking of Utne Reader, Mother Jones, National Review, GQ, etc.) But they do this in order to align their ads with their content. This isn't to say that they are colluding to bring in ads, but that the newsroom ensures that their values aren't in conflict with their advertising department's goals. Anyone involved in the media nowadays, even at the college level, needs to know what their business is up to in order to survive.

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