Archive for March, 2007

SMITH x Southwest’s: Five Must Attends

Friday, March 9th, 2007

We’re heading to Austin for SXSW Interactive to go learn from the masters and spread our love of storytelling to anyone who will listen. Also: eat barbecue.

If you’re heading that way, ping us via our Twitter account or any old-fashioned form you desire. There are about a hundred panels and presentations that look great, but here are a five that we can’t resist: (more…)

The Best Blogger Book Deal I’ve Heard About All Week

Thursday, March 8th, 2007

Jessica Hagy, known for her less-than-a-year old blog Indexed, reports that she has just landed a book deal with a major house. She deserves it. There’s something ingenious about her relational charts and graphs, each rendered on a white index card in black ink in Hagy’s distinctive, tidy-but-homespun handwriting. They have an appeal that hits immediately and then slowly blossoms to a deeper, head-scratching kind of appreciation: the best ones are both ha-ha funny and truly insightful. Delivering something pithy that also accommodates web readers’ tapped-to-the-max attention spans isn’t easy—but the advertising copywriter from Columbus, OH has perfected a highly addictive formula. Bravo!
Image: Indexed

Formally Condemned

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

This week’s question:

Maybe the House doesn’t pass resolutions formally repudiating your decisions, but what’s the last thing you did against the better judgment of everyone you know?

Next week’s question:
Well, it’s March—what’s the Maddest gamble you ever made? Did it pay off?

Call For Submissions: Your Bush Years

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

69900900_fd6c8ecc1f.jpgI just came across an interesting call for stories from editor and designer David Barringer, who’s putting together a lit mag featuring up-to-the-minute writing that has been influenced by events/moods/trends over the course of the Bush years. “Your story/poem/essay/interview does not have to literally address Bush/Cheney/Rice/Rummy. It does not have to be about 9/11 or Afghanistan, Iraq or Abu Ghraib, Gitmo or Jon Stewart, Scooter Libby or Anna Nicole Smith. But it could be, and it must at least be influenced by the past six years. It can’t be a piece of writing with its head in the proverbial sand. The work must have opened itself up to the world. The more directly your piece defines some mood or state of mind or tension set off by events of the Bush years, the more likely it will be accepted.”

He’s taking: stories, essays, interviews, poems, email exchanges, blog entries, diary entries, letters to editors or cousins in the Green Zone. Says Barringer: “Make it personal. Make it painful. Make it funny. Make it real.”

More info/submissions: dlbarringer [at] gmail [dotcom].

George W. Bush>>Flickr>>Creative Commons>>omestes

Audio! Comics! New Stories, New Ways…

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

Rule #1 of SMITH Magazine’s mission: make better media not just more media. But by “better” we mean something you won’t get elsewhere, something that interests us and we suspect interests you, something that works best online.

Two stories we’ve posted this week make good on that promise.

adc01p08a.jpgA.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge: Chapter 1 (following a two-part prologue) is now live. Here we meet the five main characters whose lives we’ll be chronicling for the rest of the year not only in comic form, but also with podcasts about everything from the life-giving role of bars immediately following Katrina, how the arts scene has changed since the storm, a history of second-line processions after funerals, and more–all straight from the mouths of the people who comprise A.D.

321893679_a5511013cc.jpgA new form of photo essay. To present the self portraits of Meredith Farmer, an unknown photographer SMITH photo editor Audrie Lawrence found on Flickr, we’re using a program called Splashcast. This free program allows us to offer Meredith’s own narration of the slideshow of her work you see here. Why Farmer? We love her self portraits, most taken as a part of Flickr’s 365 Days Project, in which any photographer, amateur or pro, takes a photo a day and shares it with the community. As SMITH co-founder Tim Barkow (and web design guru and person who most often champions the use of new tools to tell stories) pointed out to me the other day, what Meredith is doing is equal parts art project, support group and exhibitionism. It’s a delicious and untidy Web 2.0 package. And we love it.

“I Could Kill For a Hug Some Days. And Would Die For a Kiss”: The Self Portraits of Meredith Farmer

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

* Slideshow includes 4:30 min. interview with Meredith Farmer (edited for time)
Take one self-portrait each day for a year. That’s the simple conceit behind Flickr’s 365 Days Project. More than 3,000 people have taken the self-portrait challenge, including Meredith Farmer, 26-year-old photographer who grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and now lives in Portland, Oregon, where by day she’s an inventory specialist for the downtown REI. Since joining the Flickr group, Farmer says she spends most of her daily photo time working on that one shot. “My portraits usually rely very heavily on how I am feeling that day,” she says. “It’s really all-consuming.”The thirty shots in this photo essay are her favorite self-portraits, some from the 365 pool, some not. “I shoot many images in my attempt to get the ‘right’ photo of the day, and often I end up liking an outtake or 365 reject better than the photo that I chose for the day. Sometimes the photos you don’t like as much as first grow on you.”What makes a good image to you?
Emotion is the main subject of most of my images. Though my aim is to produce a technically correct and aesthetically pleasing photograph, my ultimate goal is always to evoke feeling, whether it is sorrow, happiness, anger, love, or desire. I use my photos as catharsis–all are produced in direct response to some internal voice that needs to be heard. So, if a photograph assists me in understanding and overcoming problems, I define that image as good.

Who first inspired you to take pictures?
I can’t really say that I have a specific individual who inspired me. I only began taking photos in September 2006. Well, actually, I was using my crappy point-and-shoot film camera to take some outdoor pictures during the summer of ’06 (you can see them at the beginning of my Flickr stream) but I really got into it when my dad came to visit at the end of August. He saw some of my photos and bought me the most fantastic gift that I have ever received: my Canon S3-IS. Though some may regard it as another “crappy point-and-shoot,” I love it.

The self-portraits began when I joined the 365 days pool. But, if there’s anyone who inspired me, it was my father for encouraging my hobby and helping me believe that I could be good at something creative.

What’s the most important quality of a photo for you?
Evocation. Out of all of the aspects (lighting, composition, setting, etc.) the feelings behind the image are the most important. This more emotional approach is probably a result of my lack of technical training and studio. Without all worry regarding the actual “correctness” of the photo, I can shoot from a more intuitive place.

What do you consider off-limits?
I’d say images without feelings, then, would be a place I will not go. For example: in 365 days, we have to take one self-portrait per day for one year. Some members of the pool simply take the same “camera at arm’s length” photo day in and day out. I could not and will not do that. To me, the more socially or politically incorrect images often evoke the most feeling. So my definition of off-limits will probably differ widely from most.

What’s the fish that got away–the photo you saw but didn’t have a camera for?
I have not been photographing for too long, and I always have my camera with me. Of course, there’s always the gorgeous sunrise that got away. I remember one morning I was riding my bicycle across the bridge on the way to work, and there was the most amazing mist over the Willamette River. I almost stopped, but was so worried about being late that I told myself that surely it would be foggy another morning. I still regret not stopping.

More frequently, however, I am limited by the capabilities of my camera. Some images that I dream up will never come to fruition because they are more conceptual and fluid, and cannot be captured in one still frame.

From whom, what, or where do you derive inspiration?
Many of my captions contain lyrics to songs, as well. In a perfect world, each one of my photos would be viewed with the accompanying lyrics. Elliott Smith is a huge inspiration. Well, his music, at least. His songs are so rich and emotional—I empathize with many of his feelings of worthlessness, depression, and isolation and often keep his lyrics in mind when composing my images.

My depression is also another “inspiration,” if you can call it that. I can easily pinpoint the negative emotions and find it extremely therapeutic to express them through my photos. I hope that others find solace in the fact that they are not alone in their pain, and that it is not to be taken lightly or pushed under the rug.

What’s the picture you’d most like to take?
There are so many. Most days I think of three or four photos that never come to fruition. I love clone shots. Not getting too specific here, but I’d love to get even more conceptual with my images—surrealism is a subject that I find both daunting and fascinating.

Where are you happiest taking photographs?
My home. There I am not worried about strangers wondering what I am doing. I am not self-conscious. I can focus entirely on the subject at hand, which is usually myself. One of my goals is to become more comfortable taking public photos—for now I prefer to have an escort. When I’m with someone else, I feel almost validated, you know? But I’m working on it.

Like That NBA Commercial — But With Guns!

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

OK, so I’ve never played — or outside of the commercials, even seen — the video game Half-Life. (My mommy won’t let me play violent video games. She says they’re bad for me.) But I still think this video, apparently a riff on the game that’s really more of a techno beat soundtrack, is pretty gosh-darn cool, consarn it.

According to the MySpace page for the film’s makers, they created it using the game’s own engine.

Sam Sheridan on The Daily Show

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

For the record, SMITH beat Jon Stewart to an interview.

Hold on just a second, we need to go brush our shoulders off.

Whoo. OK, sorry, we’re back. Anyway, Larry posted a few days back on the new book A Fighter’s Heart, by Sam Sheridan; it’s the story of one man’s journey, learning to kickbox with a muay Thai master in Thailand, fighting in Brazil, and exploring the history of violence in general. You can see our excerpt here, and read Michael Slenske’s interview with Sheridan here.

And, thanks to the magic of the Internets—which, as we understand it, are a complex series of tubes—you can now watch Sam’s interview with Jon Stewart right here.

Tori Spelling: actress, mom-to-be, blogger

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

1torimed_3f2449ccaa.jpgMan, ya gotta love Tori Spelling. This girl is workin’ it from all angles—TV show, garage sale, you name it. These days, Tori and hubby Dean McDermott are bloggers/reality TV show stars (airing March 20th on the Oxygen channel). Oh yeah, and parents-to-be.

Back to the blog. You can read about Tori’s Lamaze classes, her recent baby shower, and the B & B this happy couple are planning to open—yep, Tori and Dean are opening their own Bed & Breakfast and Tori will make your bed and bake you muffins if you stay (so she alleges on the blog. I have every intention of visiting—if and when it opens. A full report on that to come).

Check out Tori and Dean’s blog here.


What’s your secret?

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

I recently met a woman in my yoga class who quit her day gig and was embarking on a new professional journey: yoga studio business manager/yoga teacher. A great move she tells me. She’s on her way to one day owning her own wellness center. I tell her how thrilled I am to hear that she’s going to be doing something that she loves for a living. Imagine that. This, of course, begs the question: how did she do it? Her reply: The Secret.

Now, ever since this woman at the yoga studio uttered those two words I have been hearing and seeing The Secret all over the place—a colleague at work talked about it, People had a blurb on The Secret, Oprah dedicated an entire show to The Secret, and there’s a blog that’s all about The Secret. Natch. Even Newsweek featured a review of the The Secret by Rhonda Byrne—of course, the mag gave up some of the secrets.

So what is The Secret? Well, according to Byrne (who’s life changed after uncovering the secret), you can transform your life by visualizing a new life. She calls it the “law of attraction.” Yep. If you ask, the universe shall answer. It’s kind of a “you reap what you sow” deal.

OK. I confess. I started to wonder if this was some sort of sign (think The Celestine Prophecy—there are no coincidences). Maybe the Universe was trying to reach out to me through my colleague and Oprah. Maybe this book would help me discover my true potential.

Think I’m off my rocker? Well, almost 2 million copies of the book are projected to be in print by today and 1.5 million DVDs have been sold (says Newsweek).

So what are you projecting into the Universe?