Archive for August, 2007

Not Covered by “Casual Encounters”

Friday, August 31st, 2007

This particular YouTuber has an interesting idea — maybe it’s time America got itself a new god. Or at least some hot god-on-god action. A Holy Trinity, perhaps? Snap snap, grin grin, wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more?

Damnit. Now I’m all turned on.

Tough Jobs: A Labor Day Tribute

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

2869223_59dfc01c8f_m.jpgAh, it’s Labor Day weekend and you know what that means: three-day weekend and BBQ time! My, how times have changed since the holiday was first observed way back in 1882. The good ol’ days.

According the Department of Labor,

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

It’s also a yearly tribute to my grill. Kidding. Anyway, we at SMITH wanted to honor the working men and women with a mini-tribute. First, you should know that one of my favorite things to blog about are the many, many weird jobs people do (and get paid for, which is always sweet). See, like a lot of us, I am anti-cube. Those cold, nasty things make me cringe. Cubes are horribly cruel: you’re existing in a window-less confined space, and that fluorescent lighting that is designed to make you go blind. At least that’s my theory.

That being said, I decided to scour Flickr for as many odd, interesting, unique, and thankless jobs I could find so we at SMITH could say, thank you very much for a job well done.

Now chill out, enjoy your day off, pop open a beer, and light that grill! Ever had a weird job? Share it on our PopuLIST.

You can flip through the many different gigs out there on our Flickr set.

The Second Anniversary of Katrina Comes Calling

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

When Josh Neufeld and I first met last fall to talk about a webcomic about Hurricane Katrina, one of the things I posited to him was that New Orleans and the Gulf Coast might start to recede from the media’s attention. By doing a serialized story on SMITH chronicling the lives of a handful of people who escaped Katrina, I thought we could both tell a story the way we know and love best—one person at a time—and do whatever small part we could to keep reminding people about this disaster.

Can you sign my book, Mr. Computer?

Monday, August 27th, 2007

I’ve never really understood the appeal of getting a book autographed by the author; the only writing in mine is incoherent margin-scribbling and the occasional phone number. But the author tour reading/signing is still a staple of the book business, despite rising travel costs, airline hassles, and increased concern about carbon footprint. Enter the Longpen, invention of author Margaret Atwood, which uses technology to allow almost in-person encounters (and signings) between authors and fans. It’s been around for a while, largely as a novelty and topic of autograph-authenticity debates, but this fall machines will actually be installed in stores around the world.

Here’s a picture I took of a demonstration at BEA:
When I expressed cynicism, the company’s trade show representative called me out on my New York snobbery (touché) and explained I might be more excited if I lived in a small town where authors never deign to venture on even the most extensive tours. Writers who are elderly or disabled can have face time with readers. And for the younguns in the audience: you can take home digital video of your autographing and blog your little hearts out.

Listen to Josh & Denise & Leo on NPR’s “News & Notes”

Friday, August 24th, 2007

A.D.’s writer and illustrator Josh Neufeld, along with “characters” (we wish we had a better word—these are real, amazing, flesh-and-blood people) Denise and Leo, talked about the making of A.D.—and their lives now—on NPR’s national show, News & Notes on Friday, August 24.

A.D. is a combination of my life and Josh’s interpretation of it,” Denise told host Farai Chideya, explaining that after some initial concerns about how she was portrayed, Josh listened to her and rather than having a knee-jerk reaction he worked with her to represent her in the most accurate way. She explained that of the reasons she agreed to participate in the project is because she thought “it was an opportunity to get some truth out about Katrina because there were so many lies.”

“When the comic strip first started …. it brought a lot of things back for me,” offered Leo. “I really remembered those last moments before we left and how tense they were. I don’t know if it helps me get over it, but it does help me remember it. And that puts things now in perspective as far as making sure I do appreciate everything I have in my life now—and how easily it can be taken away.”

Listen to this fascinating discussion here.

One Red Paperclip: Sweet Story or Cynical Stunt?

Friday, August 24th, 2007

186598585_5d12007bb9_m.jpgHave you ever done something just because you thought it would make a good story?

Have you ever done something just because you thought it would make a good story, and you were pretty sure you could turn said story into a winning book proposal?

And if so, is that OK?

That’s what Joyce Wadler asks in her yesterday’s piece in the New York Times, about Kyle MacDonald, aka ‘The Red Paper Clip Guy,’ a 27-year-old ’slacker’ who famously swapped—through a shrewd series of trades—a red paper clip for, most recently, a modest house in Kipling, Saskatchewan, Canada.

MacDonald’s book, “One Red Paperclip,” goes on sale this week. In the meantime, what do you think? Have you ever done something just because of the story potential involved? Does the idea of undertaking an adventure go against the code of storytelling honor?

A.D.’s Josh Neufeld on NPR Friday, August 23

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

THIS JUST IN! adc02p13.jpgA.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge’s writer and illustrator Josh Neufeld, along with Denise and Leo, two of the story’s main characters, will be on NPR’s national show, News & Notes, Friday, August 23 at 1:20pm EST. The show airs at different times in different cities—check your local NPR station’s schedule here.

6480712.jpegAs the second anniversary of Katrina approaches, lots of people are finding out about A.D.—from the many bloggers who have spread the word, to coverage in places like Rolling Stone,, Boing Boing the Toronto Star—with many other spots covering it in the coming days. And yet, there are still too many people who should know about A.D. and don’t. If you love SMITH, New Orleans, and original storytelling, we’d be so grateful if you took 20 seconds to help us spread the word. We really appreciate it.

Here’s a list of media of all flavors who have sprinkled some love on A.D.

I Want To (Air) Rock

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

1196753980_9368e1dc36_m.jpgWhat leads a person to want to be a rock star? Pfft, please. Who doesn’t want to be a rock star? With the legion of groupies, millions of fans, and excuse to wear sequined spandex on a daily basis, rock star is probably the most wanted occupation right up there with movie star and ninja. But what about an air guitar star? Well, that’s a question I’ve always had ever since I watched the doc Air Guitar Nation and saw so many dedicated thrashers strum at the air as if their high octane lives depended on it. After inhaling The US Air Guitar Championships on August 16th, I now know why.

With the sold out crowd at The Fillmore at Irving Plaza, the fans were bananas, especially for hometown hero William Ocean, who wound up winning the whole shebang. Of course, in theory, the whole idea of air guitaring really isn’t all that amazing, not with the cultural revolution that is Guitar Hero anyway. But there’s just something about being around all those sweaty, potential rock gods in the audience that really fills you with a sense of…unity. Especially when after the show, people storm the stage and start air guitaring like they’re the stars—which they are, really, as everybody’s a star is when they’re air guitaring.

Now, if only they had a competition for air accordion…

Check out a Flickr stream of shots from the Air Guitar Championship.

Why did you do him?

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

This week’s question:

Scientists have identified 237 reasons people have sex. What’s the strangest reason you’ve ever had for hanky panky?

Next week’s question:
Happy Labor Day! What’s the weirdest or worst job you ever had?

Burning Man: What’s your story?

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

“Dusty wide kaleidoscope, where’s my chapstick?”
—Jessica Bruder’s six-word memoir for the Burning Man festival.

SMITH’s Burning Man photo essay and interview with Burning Book author Jessica Bruder are up!

I have a confession: I had never heard of Burning Man the event until I read Burning Book. It seems like everyone else in my mini-world was more in the know than me; they were all shocked that I was so in the dark about the great glow that goes on each Labor Day weekend in the Nevada Desert.

My conversations with friends go like this:

ME: “Ever hear of this thing called Burning Man?”

EVERYONE ELSE: “Um, yeah… are you serious? You’ve never heard of Burning Man?”

Still, flipping through Burning Book—an awesome tribute to this yearly shindig—I have to say, I was really in awe of the whole thing, even if I couldn’t quite comprehend exactly what was going on. Fortunately, Jess was able give me this explanation of Burning Man, which I think sums it up well:

“Burning Man is a temporary desert city of 40,000 dusty and sleep-deprived people working doggedly to bring their most outlandish, unlikely, and inspired ideas to life in a tangible way.”

BurningBookcover.jpgWild stuff. Now it’s your turn. Got some drama in the desert to share? We want to hear it. Tell us your favorite Burning Man story in 100-1,000 words, and five burning storytellers will win a copy of Burning Book, a work of inspired art and dynamic storytelling.

SMITH Magazine

SMITH Magazine is a home for storytelling.
We believe everyone has a story, and everyone
should have a place to tell it.
We're the creators and home of the
Six-Word Memoir® project.