My dad’s golf slideshow…

March 30, 2009

My dad’s the new Spielberg, posting this 10-minute slideshow to YouTube of golfing pics from all over the southwest. With a little guidance he used Audacity and Picasa to put this little number together. At the 6:45 mark, take my word for it if you don’t make it that far in, you’ll see Eugene’s own Grady Goodall and me braving the Double Bogie Blues. Great job with the slideshow, pops.

Your jokes bomb in Web 2.0? Are you a social media ass?

March 22, 2009

You know the feeling. The words slip out of your mouth before you realize they’re not funny — or better yet your phraseology is as funny as it is inappropriate to the moment.

You know, — at least I do — you get in one of those cringe-inducing conversations about stuff you’ve got no business talking about, asking questions like why do lactating mothers “express” milk?

Those moments are awkward enough in person. They can be downright painful on social media and networking sites, where you can bomb in front of the masses, in front people you hardly know.

Sometimes people have no idea if I am joking in person. I take pride in a dry delivery that sometimes people really hate. But it’s tough to be dry on twitter or facebook.

When an acquaintance updated her Facebook status to say that Dateline NBC was interviewing one of her co-workers, I of course had to comment even though it had been years since I’d actually spoken to my Facebook friend. “I hope your colleague is not the subject Dateline’s ‘Catch a Predator’ series,” I wrote, congratulating myself on sheer hilarity. I didn’t hear back for a while, and when I did she ambiguously wrote, “We’re all glad of that.” Can’t tell if she thought I was funny or if she was humoring a social media ass.

Cyberspace, like the water cooler at work or the theater for a comic, can be awful silent, especially without the sympathetic pity laughs. Then again, sometimes I don’t deserve the laughs. Sometimes I need to think before I type just as I have learned to muzzle my unusually large and blunt mouth.

Gotta admit though. Express is an odd verb when it comes to milk.

Old school barber shop pamperin’

March 18, 2009

Just got back from my first trip to NYC. Loved it. Energy. Diversity. Creativity. But one of the highlights was an old-school barber shop haircut, preceded by a scalp massage/shampoo. Barber even took a straight razor to the back of my neck, complete with hot shaving cream. All for less than most haircuts in Oregon. Hot shaving cream. It’s the best.

Cartoonist still drawing, even if Rocky Mountain News isn’t printing

March 5, 2009

In 1984, I was a second-grader in love with the Denver Broncos. My dad taught me to read win-loss columns, and Monday mornings after Sunday games I’d devour the sports page. At the time, the Broncos had a baby-faced, barefoot kicker named Rich Karlis.

Late in a game against the Seahawks, Karlis missed a game-winning field goal when he banged the kick off an upright. Karlis missed kicks off uprights two weeks in a row, and Rocky Mountain News cartoonist Drew Litton drew what he calls “a fork with multiple uprights.”  It was one of his early sports cartoons. “If you didn’t see it, someone was going to tell you about it,” Litton says in this 2007 interview. “It solidified my role here at the News. And probably allowed me to keep my job.” Litton’s “Win, Lose and Drew” features even evolved into some animated shorts. The Rocky’s owner, the E.W. Scripps Company, turned the paper from a place that employed one of the world’s best sports cartoonists to a paper that employs nobody.

Drew Litton was just one of the many unique creatives who found a niche at the news. So, as we bid farewell to the Rocky, it’s good to know that Drew’s still plying his craft on his own WordPress site. His art is telling great stories and making fun statements, mocking Jay Cutler, the Yankee payroll and spring training.  So stick with it, Drew. You helped me learn to love storytelling. Don’t let the cartoons stop just because the presses have.

Slate Magazine’s sabbatical: a new model for web storytelling

January 31, 2009

News in the paper is as sad as news about the paper. In 2008, American newspapers cut 15,554 jobs, according to a tally kept by St. Louis Post-Dispatch graphic designer Erica Smith on her “Paper Cuts” blog. Smith tallies more than 2,000 cuts already in 2009. Smith’s effort opened Robert Hodierne’s essay in the American Journalism Review about how journalists are finding work outside the newsroom in PR, liquor stores and even yoga.

This morning, the front page of my local paper  featured a story about painful local layoffs, an LA Times piece about the deepening recession, and a feature about a mother-son funeral. The only psuedo-bright spot? A piece about Rep. Peter Defazio, D-Ore., blasting the stimulus package as too heavy with tax cuts.

We’re riding a broadband connection to hell. Or not.

Maybe these are just unusually difficult growing pains, a sort of economic adolescence, as technology reshapes the way journalists tell stories. The sooner newspapers adopt new models, the better. Case in point? Slate Magazine.  The online pub, owned by the Washington Post, has always been edgy. But now, as the New York Observer reports, Slate editor David Plotz will, one at a time, give staffers  four to six weeks to leave the office and turn out a long-form feature, possibly with multimedia components for the web.

So, while the old-school papers are slicing jobs and whining their way into what they depict as a web-only oblivion, Slate, a web-only pub from its start, is sending journalists out to tell long, important stories in new ways. Maybe there’s a bright spot after all. Maybe not all the news about the news is as sad what’s in the paper.

Share your best moments of 2008

December 28, 2008

Share your action-packed highlights of the year here. Finish a master’s degree? Start a second career in the big city? Witness Obama in person? See yet another side of Africa? Take an awesome showshoe trip? Get married? Love to hear about it in the comments section.

Personally, I had an awesome year, and I could never rank events in my life. Among my highlights, Jamie and I made a quick tour of Argentina, from Buenos Aires all the way down to Tierra del Fuego with Patagonia in between. If I haven’t subjected you to the slideshow, here it is again.

After Peace Corps, it was a little refreshing, a little odd and a little revolting to be abroad as nothing more than a tourist. We bought art, went to tourist markets, rode — cringe — tourist buses and snapped photos every step of the way. Before we left, our elderly neighbor jokingly asked us to bring him some, “bolos.” Just yesterday we wrapped up some boleadoras and listened as he told us how he’d been fascinated by them since third grade when he saw gauchos use them in a school film.

Had another cool moment this summer when I got to stand track side, 20 feet from the finish line at Hayward Field, on a warm night, as three Eugene runners took the 800 meter final the Olympic Trials. They didn’t do much at the Olympics, but fans and athletes will always have Eugene on this night.

I’d love to hear your highlights in the comments section. Happy New Year! –Zack