Archive for November, 2006

Whose Stories Count?

Sunday, November 19th, 2006

For anyone looking for a T-Day prayer, I humbly suggest this SMITH-ian poem, the “till the principle of things takes root” of which is a killer:

Beyond the Snow Belt

Over the local stations, one by one,
Announcers list disasters like dark poems
That always happen in the skull of winter.
But once again the storm has passed us by:
Lovely and moderate, the snow lies down
While shouting children hurry back to play,
And scarved and smiling citizens once more
Sweep down their easy paths of pride and welcome.

And what else might we do? Let us be truthful.
Two counties north the storm has taken lives.
Two counties north, to us, is far away,—
A land of trees, a wing upon a map,
A wild place never visited,—so we
Forget with ease each far mortality.

Peacefully from our frozen yards we watch
Our children running on mild white hills.
This is the landscape that we understand,—
And till the principle of things takes root,
How shall examples move us from our calm?
I do not say that it is not a fault.
I only say, except as we have loved,
All news arrives as from a distant land.

Mary Oliver

Catblogging — It’s What the Web Was Made For

Friday, November 17th, 2006

Lately, I’ve been trying to inject some SMITHiness into our regular Friday video; make it about something that went directly to our mission, said something about this whole personal media thing we’re trying to talk about here and how it’s evolving and coming to affect the outside world more every day.

But you know what? Some days you really just need to see a cat walking on its two front legs. And for me, this was one of those days. So here, courtesy of a co-worker, is one of the funniest compilations of cat videos I’ve ever seen. (And I’ve seen plenty.)

My Name Is James Bond

Friday, November 17th, 2006

257144083_ba5f9bc0b9.jpgTimed for the new Bond flick, Casino Royale, comes this genius little piece from the NY Daily News.

The bit is this: The Daily News unearthed One James Alexander Bond, a funny, goofy, high-art, high-lit, hippie-ish playwright … in other words, about as far away as you can get from the real (well, not actually real) James Bond. I met James once or twice, as he was my friend’s old roommate and graciously co-hosted my annual Oscar party in 1999 (at the time I had just moved to NYC and lived in 250 square feet). Haven’t seen him in years—here’s what he’s up to.

This Bond has yet to save the world while bedding a bevy of international beauties - he’s a 37-year-old theater director from Manhattan who considers the name more of a burden than a blessing.

“It does get annoying sometimes,” says Bond, whose full name is James Alexander Bond.

“Especially when you meet someone new and have to hear the same old tired jokes, or some cashier makes a big fuss when they see my credit card.”

Yet that didn’t stop him from gladly accepting our mission - to undergo a three-step, 007-style makeover that would transform him from James A. Bond into … Bond, James Bond.

Courtesy of The News, he was given crash courses in how to shoot, fight and drive like his fictional namesake.

“The name is always a pain in the a-,” says our Mr. Bond. “But this is the first cool thing I got to do with it.”

We love the notion of two people with the same name—and readers are encouraged to find others with their same name and write up the experience as I did here. Try it—it’s good, sort of trippy fun.

Bonus: A piece in Slate about the birth of Bond.

Everyone Has a Scandal — What’s Yours?

Thursday, November 16th, 2006

We recently introduced the popuLIST, our weekly reader question that seeks your personal take on current events. Each Monday, we post a Q, and you answer in 100 words or less. The following Monday we’ll post the best answers, as well as a new question, giving you one more reason to amuse yourself and blow off your day job.

The Q we’re currently running with goes like this:
You’re in Congress right now—congrats! What’s the scandal that’s going to bring you down?

Submit your answer here. Best ones appear on the front page. The top post of the month wins a SMITH tee. All who answer get invited to our one-year anniversary party in January. And—it goes without saying—when it comes to fantasy scandals, we’re all winners.

Cribs + ‘Two Americas’ = John Edwards’ New Book

Thursday, November 16th, 2006

Who knew? John Edwards put his “two Americas” mouth where his publisher’s money is. So I learned via Jon Stewart’s interview with Edwards, who put together a new book, home.jpgHome: The Blueprints of Our Lives, stories from 60 people, in the words of the editor John Edwards, “some famous, some not” about the homes they grew up in. It’s a little hokey, especially with little John E. on the cover, but we like it (especially with stories from Mario Batali and John Mellencamp, who was born in a small town).

Politics, On the Side: Jon tried to get John to announce he was running for prez in 2008. Edwards wouldn’t bite, but did suggest that there was an exciting situation on his site, Stewart’s response: “Dude, do you have a shower webcam?”

Here’s an idea: Jon Stewart for press secretary. Let’s go to the video.

Don’t Forget to Vote (For JahFurry!)

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

JahFurryLogo.jpgToday is the last day to vote in Gizmodo’s Theme Song Contest, and we hope you’ll rock the vote for SMITH’s own flyboy-in-the-butterfly ballot comix editor Jeff Newelt, aka JahFurry. After you inhale his entry, we challenge you to find a more fitting ditty for the glorious gadget guide.

A Guide for the Video-Curious

Monday, November 13th, 2006

If the future of personal media is video, as globally affordable broadband, cheap webcams and Google’s buyout of YouTube would all seem to suggest, then the world’s going to need production lessons.

LifeHacker has published some useful tips for the amateur video creator at “8 Ways to Shoot Video Like a Pro.” The post covers the basics of knowing your camera, lighting, audio and setting up shots. It’s interesting to see video instruction take off in the blogosphere. I’m sure it’ll only blossom from here, online and off, until it’s as ubiquitous as those “learn to write!” seminars and book publishing programs common in the back of literary mags of old.

Joe Apology on the BOBs

Monday, November 13th, 2006

The Best of the Blogs international weblog awards have been decided, with the US blog Sunlight Foundation carrying off the top honor.

Personal media lovers may be interested in the lucidly designed anonymous-confession blog, Joe Apology, which took 9 percent of the vote in the “Best Weblog: English” category.

Joe posts confessions as he receives them (there’s a form on the website), and he even has a toll-free number to which penitents can call in and leave a message (”your recorded apology,” Joe notes, “will be available as an online audio file for others to listen to”), and a section of apology-themed Flickr photos.

I’m sorry I didn’t think of it first.


(Image source: littlemisskool)

Now — Be Scared of YouTube

Monday, November 13th, 2006

Via Michelle Malkin, still smarting over the fact that YouTube has (correctly) identified her videos as hate speech and pulled the plug on them, comes this article from the Boston Herald, warning of the newest, biggest threat to the world since MySpace — YouTube. It seems that gangs are posting recruitment videos on the site, something that has Herald Police Bureau Chief Michele McPhee steaming, alternating borderline racist (you shouldn’t be surprised, with anything Malkin links to) descriptions of the videos, calling them “silly” and saying the gang members look “too stupid… to actually attract new members” with dire warnings that despite all the nasty things she just said about their intelligence, they are of course coming to kill us all… because of YouTube.

Bestiality! Bukkake! Scandal! The popuLIST Takes Flight

Monday, November 13th, 2006

Under the diligent and delightful wing of editor Rachel Fershleiser, SMITH recently launched the popuLIST, our weekly Q & A. We Q you about your take on current events; you A us with profoundly personal, politically savvy, cool and candid, gloriously gruesome stories. All this happens in 100 words or less, or, as it turns out, many more, given that so many of you would rather just write then adhere to our attempts at structure. Namaste. Or, as our friend Abby Ellin (who has yet to write for SMITH, btw) likes to say: knock yourself out.

Last week we asked you who’d you most want to do if the world was going to end. You got nitty and gritty with tales of bukkake, beastiality and adding the proverbial exclamation point to first crushes.

Which brings us to this week’s question: You’re in Congress right now—congrats! What’s the scandal that’s going to bring you down?

We’ll put the best stories on the front page of SMITH. Those who play by the rules have a better chance of getting selected. The top post of the month wins a limited-edition SMITH tee.