Tag Archives: Recommendations

Less is more

the new mini donk in the family

the new mini donk in the family, originally uploaded by slopjop.

I’m experimenting with mini-blogging.

Sometimes I come across items that I want to highlight or preserve or comment on but that I don’t want to write a whole post about. Maybe I have little more to say than to point the item out; maybe I have no more than a pithy comment; or maybe I’m too pressed for time to do more than remark on a trend.

For times such as these, people often use mini-blogs, which are generally just links with small commentary. Some people use deli.cio.us to capture these, so I’ve tried that but I didn’t like leaving all formatting and images behind.

Now I’m trying a Tumblr blog. What I like is that it has easy-to-use tools for writing short posts that consist of simply one link, one video, one picture, or one thought. It seems easy as well to post from a cellphone. So it’s like a cross between a full blog, Twitter, and deli.cio.us. Perfect.

What I don’t like is that it seems to offer no commenting feature. Comments are a big part of what I love about blogging, so this is a big setback.

Maybe I just haven’t figured the comments out, or maybe another mini-blogging tool has the convenience of Tumblr plus comments. If so, that service will rule.

I’m goign to come up with a better way to integrate the mini-blog posts with the main blog posts. I’m certain there’s a WordPress plugin. And I’ll also blend the mini-blog posts into the site feed, or offer a menu of feeds so you can decide which kinds of items you like.

In the meantime, please view the RSS of the mini-blog in the right-hand sidebar of the site, or visit it directly at http://cynthiacloskey.tumblr.com/. There’s an RSS feed there of course.

If you’ve played with mini-blogging or have a tool to recommend, I’d love to hear about it.

OK: enough meta discussion. On with the blogging!

UPDATE (3/18): I liked the Tumblr interface and ease of use, but I felt uncomfortable having separate sites and I missed comments terribly. After a brief hunt, I found a WordPress plugin called QuickPost that offers a Tumblr-like interface but puts the posts directly into this blog. Sweet. I’ve been using that for a few days and am pleased. So I went back and (tediously) brought the Tumblr posts into this blog for posterity. Maybe I’ll use Tumblr for something else, but for now my blogging output is streeamlined again.

I see that several others have started up with Tumblr in the meantime. I like how people are experimenting — quite cool. Please post a link in the comments if you want to show off.

Month Impossible: Day Twenty-seven, Murderers, animated treadmills, and yet more writing

Promotional photo for Murderers, at Pittsburgh's City Theatre

I’ve mentioned before that "Murderers," currently playing at City Theatre on Pittsburgh’s South Side, is a terrific play and well worth your time and money, yes?

The play is three monologues, each by a different actor, each beginning with the sentence, "I am a murderer." The play is by Jeffrey Hatcher, a playwright with a strange and dry sense of humor that apparently is closely aligned with my own. He also wrote "A Picasso," which City Theatre put on last year and which I enjoyed quite a bit.

"Murderers" is even better. It’s full of slight asides, charming characters, murder and revenge and people saying very unreasonable things in very reasonable tones. The sets, costumes, sound, lighting and direction are all excellent, and the performances are layered, rich, and engaging. Plus, the intimate Lester Hamburg Studio is an ideal space for these intimate tales of life and death.

What did others think? City Paper loved the play too and the Tribune-Review admired it and wondered if a crime spree was bigger than imagined, while the Post-Gazette didn’t care so much for the play although Christopher Lawson admitted he laughed along with the rest of the audience. As for me, I suggest you find an evening in your busy holiday schedule to slip down to the South Side and take in this play, as an antidote to all that’s saccharine sweet about the holidays.

"Murderers" continues through December 22. Find more information, including how to get tickets, at the City Theatre website.

In other news of things I like, my close personal friends OK Go got a shoutout on the Simpsons this week:

NaNoWriMo update: You’ll note that the word count in the meter in the sidebar is speeding upward. I’m writing my pretty fingers to the bone. thank you to everyone who has offered encouragement. It may sound a cliche, but your words help me keep generating my words.

DrawMo update: My brother Anthony sharpened all my pastel pencils, so I’m set to churn out some pretty new things. And some ugly new things too — I don’t much care right now, as long as I catch up.

Give a toy, get a holiday portrait on December 8

A great holiday idea from our friends at Creative Treehouse:

Holiday Portraits for Toys

On Saturday, December 8th, the members of the Creative TreeHouse in Bellevue will put their talents to good use and hold a benefit for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh. Professional holiday portraits will be taken at the Creative Treehouse, located at 517 Lincoln Ave (2nd Floor) Pittsburgh, PA 15202 from 10:00AM to 8:00PM for those who bring a toy donation for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Suggested donations are toys for boys and girls up to age thirteen and around the price range of $10. Family portraits are available for a donation of two gifts, one for a boy and one for a girl. Single portraits will be available for a donation of one gift. A holiday backdrop designed by Creative TreeHouse members will be available as will a normal studio backdrop for single and family portraits. The whole family is invited to spend time at the Creative TreeHouse while portraits are being taken. Portraits will be available to download online with a special code provided to each guest at the event.

Please visit www.creativetreehousepgh.com for more information.

Those who can’t do, blog

Here’s a thoughtful essay on criticism and the authority of the critic: “Just Who Is This Guy?” by Jerome Weeks.

Weeks looks primarily at the authority of literary blogs, which have been under attack of late from print media, primarily the book reviews of the mass media. But the same issues come into play for any critic, online or off.

(Thanks to Rob Walker’s Murketing for highlighting the Weeks post.)

I face these questions all the time, mostly because …

Continue reading Those who can’t do, blog

Here it goes again

I have raved in the past about OK Go, and I’ve linked to their videos and shown you photos of me being a blatant fangirl around them.

I don’t see any reason for that to change now.

Please enjoy their new video, which involves them and eight treadmills.

If you liked it — and I hope you did — then please go vote for them on VH1’s Top 20 Countdown.

Also, does anyone know where we can get 8 treadmills? It looks like fun.

Brothers of the Head

Brothers of the HeadMy dear filmmaking friend Louis Pepe and his partner Keith Fulton have released their first feature film, Brothers of the Head. Written by Tony Grisoni (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) from the the novel of the same name by Brian Aldiss, it’s the story of conjoined twins who are transformed by a rock promoter into a London punk band, thrust into fame, and battle each other for the attentions of a woman. And then the story gets weirder. Check out the interesting but challenging to navigate official site and the film’s IMDB page for details, and see the trailer here.

Louis and Keith’s previous work includes Lost in La Mancha, the award-winning documentary of Terry Gilliam’s doomed attempt to make the film “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,” and The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys.

Brothers of the Head opens at the IFC Center in Manhattan starting July 28th and at Santa Monica’s Nuart Theater beginning August 4th. Tickets can be purchased in advance on the IFC Center website and the Nuart website. The film will show in select cities after that. No Pittsburgh dates yet, but with good response elsewhere our chances of seeing it on local screens improve.

Scheduled dates and locations:

08/04/06 Century Centre Chicago IL
08/04/06 Kendall Square Boston MA
08/04/06 Ritz Philadelphia PA
08/04/06 Ritz Voorhees NJ
08/04/06 E Street Washington DC WDC
08/04/06 University Town Center Irvine CA
08/04/06 Lumiere San Francisco CA
08/04/06 Shattuck San Francisco CA
08/04/06 Camera 12 San Jose CA
08/04/06 Rafael San Rafael CA
08/11/06 Cedar Lee Cleveland OH
08/11/06 Main Art Detroit MI
08/11/06 Angelika Dallas TX
08/11/06 Cinema 21 Portland OR
08/11/06 Varsity Seattle WA
08/18/06 Lagoon Minneapolis MN
08/18/06 Tara Atlanta GA
08/18/06 Ken / Hillcrest San Diego CA
08/25/06 Tivoli St. Louis MO
08/25/06 Ballantyne Village Charlotte NC
08/25/06 Tower Salt Lake City UT
09/01/06 Academy of Art Honolulu HI
09/08/06 Keystone Indianapolis IN
09/08/06 Dundee Omaha NE
09/08/06 Westgate Madison WI
09/08/06 Belcourt Nashville TN
09/15/06 The Screen Santa Fe NM
09/15/06 Loft Tucson AZ
09/22/06 Palm San Luis Obispo CA
10/06/06 UICA Grand Rapids MI

All them tremendous brunettes

My dear Pittsburghers: Do you have plans for tonight? Can you cancel them? ‘Cause the thing you should be doing around 8pm is heading to Mr. Small’s Funhouse in Millvale to see Mike Doughty and his band live and in concert.

He used to be the singer/songwriter for Soul Coughing (although apparently he doesn’t like people to mention that to him). His solo stuff is less heavily produced than Soul Coughing was — you can hear the latest album at his website here, and also check out pictures and notes from the current tour on his blog.

I volunteered to watch over his email list signup sheet at the show, so look for me if you go. I’ll be the one rocking out hard yet blissfully.

Hello my treacherous friends

A small assortment of links and notes for your entertainment:

If you’re looking for an interesting theatre experience in Pittsburgh, check out the New Works Festival, currently in progress. I especially recommend seeing Up On the Roof, which features the highly-talented local actress Katy Wayne (sister of My Brilliant Mistakes). It runs Sept. 22 – 25, so make plans today.

Have you listened to Oh No, the new album by OK Go? It has been the soundtrack of my life all month. Go listen and groove on it.

And what about Haughty Melodic, by Mike Doughty (previously of Soul Coughing fame)? That has been the other soundtrack of my life recently. Plus he’s coming to Pittsburgh next month.

There’s one particular couch that has seen more of New York City than I have. (Link via Screenhead.)

There is still time to bid on this guy’s unworn leather pants. (Link via TMFTML.)

Down by the river

I’ve never visited New Orleans. I’ve been afraid to visit during Mardi Gras, not so much of the scene but more what it might bring out in me. People say Jazz Fest is the better time to visit: all the fun of Mardi Gras with less of the frat boy element. I think I’d rather go when there’s no significant thing going on. I’d like to see how the city is when it’s simply being itself.

One book that awakened in me a real desire not just to visit New Orleans but to go and stay a while, experience it and understand its rhythms, is Letters From New Orleans by Rob Walker. In his professional life he’s a journalist covering advertising and marketing for the New York Times, as well as an editor and more. But he also lived in New Orleans for a few years, and during that time he wrote emails to friends about his experiences. Earlier this year he published the collected letters in this book. It’s wonderfully written, graceful and simple yet full of insight, presenting the city in a way that’s rich and textured. It’s clear that New Orleans can be at best only half-captured in words, and it’s all the more appealing for its mystery.

I wanted to show you an excerpt that would give a feel for the book, but it’s so hard to choose just a small portion. Each bit flows into the others and connects back to what’s come before. Look, here’s part of a chapter that talks about the levees, and how people build these towering structures on them at Christmas time for the sole purpose of burning them in a mass conflagration.

So E and I drove up River Road, which runs along the levee, then at Pauline we doubled back and found a place to park in Gramercy. The levee is a man-made hill, its ridge about 20 feet higher than River Road, stretching out like an endless wall between the water and the towns near the water. Heavy rains in states further up the river make its water level rise (it’s at an unusually high 13 feet above sea level around New Orleans right now), and without the levee there would be — and there has been — disastrous flooding. So the levee is a central fact of life in the River Parishes, or in any community along the Mississippi, from the Delta to New Orleans.

At the top of the levee is a foot path several feet wide. From there it slopes on either side, at an angle steep enough for children to have a good time rolling down. That’s what they were doing on Christmas Eve Day in Gramercy and Lutcher.

We walked the levee and studied the towers close up. A few locals had assembled shapes more ambitious than a simple tower. The volunteer fire department made a huge boat out of logs. There was another log-boat a few hundred feet away. And then there was the cottage.

The cottage — big enough to walk around or lie down in, or to sit on the front porch — was such an impressive structure that we had to compliment its creators. The ringleader identified himself as Reginald, and said he’d been helping make bonfire-fodder pretty much his whole life. He and his crew seemed to be the only black bonfire-makers in the immediate area, and in the big, taped-off area in front of the cottage stood a wooden cutout of a black Mr. & Mrs. Claus, embracing. Reginald showed us pictures of last year’s project: a log Impala. Another year they built a log Superdome. This year they’d made the cottage. We told him it was a shame to think of burning it down. But that’s why we built it, he shrugged.

Really you’ll just have to buy or borrow a copy — it’s a quick read, fits into anyone’s schedule. When I first read it I wished it had been longer. I find it both saddening and soothing to read these days.

It’s hard to imagine how an area can recover from devastation like New Orleans has experienced this week. Then again, cities like New York and San Francisco have overcome their various disasters, man-made, natural, and combinations of the two. I think we have to help, and we have to hope.