Archive for June, 2006

Mister Rogers

Thursday, June 8th, 2006

By Mike Scalise

Mister Rogers stepped out of the passenger side door of a white sedan that had pulled up in front of the building where I stood. I was smoking a cigarette at the top of a concrete stairwell, staring down below at a struggling bird that had broken its wing. It was my third day as an intern at Pittsburgh magazine, which shared a building with the studio that filmed Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. As I took a drag on my cigarette and looked down at the bird—which flopped on its side in circles like a half-lit firecracker—I thought, someone should really do something about that. Then I heard a car door slam, and saw Mister Rogers walking toward me. He wore a bow tie, not a long tie, and there was no cardigan. Just a long, fleshy flap that drew a droopy line from his chin to his collar.

“Hello,” he said as he came up the stairs, and I quickly blew out smoke and flicked away my cigarette. I might have said hello back.

“What are you looking at?” he asked as he approached.

“That bird down there,” I said, pointing down, “It’s injured.” Then he curled his arm over the railing and leaned forward, slowly, to see what I saw.

“Well, there’s not much we can do about that,” he said, and he was so close to me I would have been able to smell him, if he’d smelled like anything at all.

Cherry Bombs in the Big Apple - Shooting War Parties

Wednesday, June 7th, 2006

Thanks to everyone who came to Tuesday’s Shooting War party at the elegant Sutra Lounge in New York City’s East Village. Click here for a proper shout out to the crew and here for photos of crowd. One thing I know: I have never before witnessed a “blessing over the graphic novel” (courtesy of the one and only JahFurry). Stay tuned for details on our San Francisco party in a few weeks.

Ride the Scrapbooking Wave

Wednesday, June 7th, 2006

The New York Times jumps on the personal media bandwagon today, (coincidental that it’s the day after our Shooting War launch party? I think not.) taking a look at how scrapbooking has gone digital. An excerpt:

Scrapbookers find that going digital solves several problems. For one, they no longer have to devote a room — off limits to children — to store the die cutters, scissors, metal embossers and embellishment materials.

Another advantage is that a scrapbook, stuffed with pages decorated with ribbons, eyelets and mementos, can quickly get thicker than a New York deli sandwich. The albums are hard to peruse and the creators are loath to let people handle them too much because of potential damage. A digital version, whether stored online, on a CD or printed, avoids these problems. And copies can be made in various sizes from coffee-table to souvenir booklets. …

Dan’s Camera City in Allentown, Pa., considered one of the most innovative camera stores in the country, has latched on to the digital scrapbooking interest.

A year ago, the store set up a “digiprint lounge” to encourage people to print more of their digital photos. Shoppers can sip coffee or hot chocolate as they sit in comfortable chairs working on computers. The computers are positioned so that socializing is encouraged. “Some customers will be there for a couple of hours,” said Mike Woodland, chief executive of the store.

And a reminder — check out our Toolbox, which has ideas for scrapbooking as well as plenty of other personal media projects.

Evolution of a Phenom

Tuesday, June 6th, 2006

Proving once again that viral videos are the new way to get your fifteen — okay, six — minutes of fame is Judson Laipply of “Evolution of Dance” fame. An “inspirational comedian” (anyone else think of Matt Foley when you hear that?), Laipply’s six-minute comic video is YouTube’s most popular clip ever. This week he’s been making the rounds of the morning shows, and is the subject of a front-page article on

And oh, by the way — the video is hilarious.

Welcome Boing Boing Readers. SMITH loves you

Monday, June 5th, 2006

Greetings if you’re arriving via the one and only Boing Boing. You’re probably here to check out our graphic novel SHOOTING WAR, the story of blogging journalist Jimmy Burns, set in Iraq circa 2011. Writer Anthony Lappé and artist Dan Goldman have bled to make this story sizzle. And it does.
We’re on chapter 4 now, but I’d say start with video then move into chapter 1 and you’ll be caught up before your second cup of caffeine.

What else is it all about? Think of SMITH as a MAKE or ReadyMade of storytelling—what you see, read and feel on the site now comes largely from readers, some we know, many we don’t.
Keep reading for more on how this site works—and how to contribute. (more…)

Breakfast of Chimpians

Monday, June 5th, 2006

Monkey Chow Diaries

“On June 3, 2006, I began my week of eating nothing but monkey chow: ‘a complete and balanced diet for the nutrition of primates, including the great apes.’”

So begin the Monkey Chow Diaries, Angryman’s attempt to survive on monkey feed for seven chow-filled days. How’s it going?

Day 3

Height: 5′11″
Weight: 169 lbs
Mood: depleted
Poop: none so far today (will update)
Monkey-like Attributes: Do monkeys have superhuman olfactory senses? Because I can smell every hamburger barbequed within 5 miles of my house.

All About the Benjamin

Saturday, June 3rd, 2006

In his deeply strange and unsettlingly provocative new book, 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, Daniel Pinchbeck quotes Walter Benjamin on the sad decline of storytelling:

The loss of the art of storytelling corresponds to a change in our experience of time. “The value of information does not survive the moment in which it was new. It lives only at that moment; it has to surrender to it and explain itself to it without losing any time,” Benjamin wrote [in "The Storytellers," which you can find in the collection Illuminations]. “A story is different. It does not expend itself. It preserves and concentrates its strength and is capable of releasing it even after a long time.” He compared stories to those “seeds of grain which have lain for centuries in the chambers of the pyramids shut up air-tight and have retained their germinative power to this day.” Information, on the other hand, is always accompanied by explanation–”no event any longer comes to us without being shot through with explanation. In other words, by now almost nothing that happens benefits storytelling; almost everything benefits information.” It is almost our tragic fate as modern people to long for meaning and receive only explanation.

SMITH, with all due respect, is here to prove him wrong.

Create Your Own Tour Guide

Friday, June 2nd, 2006

If you haven’t looked yet, check out our toolbox — it’s filled with information on all the Internet sites that can help with your personal media. What we haven’t spent much time on yet is the tools not on the Web. (What do you want from us? The real world is so last season.)

Here’s an interesting tool for those of you still into that whole pen-and-paper thing: City Notebooks, a moleskine notebook designed as a kind of do-it-yourself guidebook. It comes with a series of city maps, but the rest of the notebook is customizable. They’re only available for select European cities right now, but they’ll be debuting here in the U.S. in early 2007.

Update: I totally forgot about another site listed in our handy-dandy group of links on the right side of the page, under the “Stories About Stuff” section: the Moleskinerie, a blog dedicated to the history, use and procurement of Moleskine notebooks, which apparently are more than just your average notebook. Actually, after reading Moleskinerie, I’ve decided I want one. I’m buying it after work today. Sigh… ADD-influenced impulse buys will really hurt the old wallet.

Personal Media And Sausage

Friday, June 2nd, 2006

These are a few of my favorite things…

Sorry. At least you didn’t have to hear me in person.

Anyway, our newest feature here on the site, “When Smoked Sausage Gets in Your Eyes,” about writer Sara Reistad-Long’s experience learning how to make sausage at a Ukranian butcher shop, got me thinking. (Coincidentally, the shop, Kurowycky Meat Products, is just a block from my apartment — I recommend the Krakiwska, a garlicky ham sausage, which goes great in scrambled eggs with a little cheddar, some chives and oh god now I’m hungry.)

Specifically, it got me thinking about the book I just finished, Heat, by Bill Buford, a writer and former editor at the New Yorker. It was supposed to be out a couple years ago, and became almost mythic for being so delayed, but if you haven’t read it yet, it’s worth the wait. Foodie memoirs are hot these days, but this one is particularly good - a writer decides to see what it’s like to become a cook in the kitchen of celebrity chef Mario Batali, and then discovers that there’s a lot more to it - like, oh, the whole history of food. So it’s off to Italy to learn how to make pasta, work with a real Tuscan butcher and find the roots of all the food he’s cooking. It’s an example of what is, in my mind at least, the best kind of memoir writing: about the author, yes, but ultimately with the author as foil for a much deeper discussion.

Every teenager has a story

Thursday, June 1st, 2006

I was drawn to a USA Today article on teens and tech for the three good reasons. 1) The topic (tech changes the way we tell stories). 2) The Smith in the first paragraph (”Alexandra Smith would pound out more than 1,000 text messages from her Razr cellphone a month: She was chatting—constantly, exhaustively—but she wasn’t talking. It got so that Smith’s parents were begging her to put the phone to her lips instead of her fingertips”). 3) A smart squib by Amy Goldwasser, a friend of SMITH, and editor of a forthcoming collection of personal essays by teenage girls. Says Ms. Goldwasser:

“If you’re a teenager today, you live your life in words,” tapped out into text and instant messages and onto blogs and MySpace pages. There’s “no more precious divide between how they live their lives and writing as a formal, school-assignment kind of thing.”

Read the piece here.

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