While I'm sad that I can't be with Big Mike and crew in Norlins, I've enjoyed some great tunes and plan on being there next year...or the year after, like I always say. Check out wwwoz.org and Sarah's killer playmix.
We should all be so talented and creative to be able to create scenes of every day life in such amusing and clever ways. Check out what Christoph Niemann came up with after spending some cold rainy days with his children's Legos.
The obituary of television pioneer Ben Blank in the New York Times made me realize how much of the television experience we take for granted. We often forget that there are people, often individuals, who define the experiences that are so universally revolutionary that they quickly become an assumed part of the landscape.
The most important lessons:
Stories over time are easier to understand with a visual reminder tying them together.
Don't give up if you don't have the resources (defined as photos of the event, in-person interviews, anything you think you need that you don't have!). Look around you and try and tell the story with resources you have.
Keep graphics strong and simple.
Look at other media for creative ideas to problem solving. All Media have the same audience in the end and our expectations may be defined by other media.
A few quotes from the article:
The image, known in TV news-speak as the “over-the-shoulder” graphic, could be repeated as needed to show narrative continuity from day to day. Mr. Blank also called it the “think-quick visual.”
Another early image, for a story on segregation, was the silhouette of a house, half black and half white. To illustrate the buildup in the Vietnam War before American involvement, he drew a map and then had it set afire on camera to show the intensity of the fighting, an image he chose because “most people are very weak on geography,” he said in a 1963 article in The New York Times.
What he called animations were elaborate fake spaceships and real actors on tethers simulating astronauts in zero gravity. Because of this and other studio mockups, he was once asked by the broadcast journalist John Hockenberry in a 1996 I.D. magazine article about the tabloid claims that the space program was just a hoax filmed on a movie lot.
...Mr. Blank answered: “You know, we could have done it all with graphics. All they had to do was ask.”
Blank's passing is a moment to recognize his innovation and a reminder to pay attention to the created world around us.
Check out the exceptional article by Michael Lewis on Shane Battier and his life in basketball in the New York Times Magazine. Basketball is a complicated mix of individual exceptionalism and team sacrifice to achieve success. Battier's story mixes the personal, analytic, and cultural complexities to show how we often miss the real story when we only pay attention to the things that are easy to count. Battier is the perfect definition of the guy who you hate playing against, but love to have on your team.
On the individual's conflicts in basketball:
"It is in basketball where the problems are most likely to be in the game — where the player, in his play, faces choices between maximizing his own perceived self-interest and winning. The choices are sufficiently complex that there is a fair chance he doesn’t fully grasp that he is making them."
On selecting a college to attend:
"When the Kentucky coach Rick Pitino, who had just won a national championship, tried to call Battier outside his assigned time, Battier simply removed Kentucky from his list. 'What 17-year-old has the stones to do that?' Wetzel asks. 'To just cut off Rick Pitino because he calls outside his window?'"
On the racial subtext of hoops:
"For instance, is it a coincidence that many of the things a player does in white basketball to prove his character — take a charge, scramble for a loose ball — are more pleasantly done on a polished wooden floor than they are on inner-city asphalt? Is it easier to “play for the team” when that team is part of some larger institution?"
I enjoyed a good, unexpected concert this week when Happy Chichester opened up for Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan. I expected rocknroll; instead it was a night of entertaining personal singer and songwriter performances.
Happy Chichister was a highlight. As a loyal local rocker growing up in Cincinnati, I was a Royal Crescent Mob fan (fan site,; VH1 videos) and recently bought Omerta at a sidewalk sale. (It was also my chance to replace a lot of lost grunge CDs for cheap.) Happy's solo stuff was original, off beat, and honest with a pop sensibility. He's a comfortable storyteller who seemed he'd be comfortable in any setting that had an instrument he could play.
Check him out if you get a chance. Here's a intro and song that show he can handle an awkward question and still perform.
[Update: corrected spelling from Chichister to Chichester. Doh!]