Links, I thinks

March 28, 2011

Ze Frank re-watches and annotates his 2006 daily videoblog.
Interesting look at his process and evolving tastes.
The videoblog is pretty charming, too.

Chookooloonks has a really clear guide:
understanding your DSLR camera’s manual settings.

This might come in handy some time:
An analysis of the forces required to drag sheep over various surfaces.

Some great things to read

March 4, 2011

I read some very good stuff on the interweb this week. You might enjoy:

Paul Graham’s
Taste for Makers.
Excellent thoughts on making things that are simple and good, which can easily apply to design, writing, art, mathematics, acting, everything, really:

Good design is timeless. In math, every proof is timeless unless it contains a mistake. So what does Hardy mean when he says there is no permanent place for ugly mathematics? He means…. if something is ugly, it can’t be the best solution. There must be a better one, and eventually someone will discover it. Aiming at timelessness is a way to make yourself find the best answer: if you can imagine someone surpassing you, you should do it yourself.

The Hairpin’s thoughtful, insightful
Ask an Abortion Provider.

I speak of my abortion as a positive experience, not to secure the “most awesome abortion” prize (hello judges…?) but to save a seat for the possibility that this doesn’t have to be the worst thing that ever happened to you in your whole life…. If it makes you uncomfortable to think about abortion as something that could possibly be positive for a person, think of why you’re a person who doesn’t want someone to do the best that they can under the circumstances they’re in.

The Awl co-founder Chiore Sicha’s touching and funny elegy to his cat,
The Last Photograph of Cat.

Cat believed that everything was a prison… Because of his view that there was always something better beyond what boundaries so arbitrarily constrained him, Cat spent most of his life trying to climb over, through and under any possible obstacle.

The Wikipedia article on
Emotional Labour.

… a form of emotional regulation wherein workers are expected to display certain emotions as part of their job, and to promote organizational goals. The intended effects of these emotional displays are on other, targeted people, who can be clients, customers, subordinates or co-workers.

Every in-person job I’ve had in the past decade has involved a very heavy component of emotional labour, since basically I am hired to get people to open up with me (like when I interview or teach them), or to help them feel emotions that I generate (ie, as an actor) or to regulate their emotional journey (ie, banishing awkwardness and creating flow and comfort when hosting).

I was instinctively very aware of this concept, so it was fun to learn that it had a name and other people have written about it. One thing stood out to me: basically, the more superficial the emotional labour, the worse the worker feels about themselves. You have to genuinely believe in what you’re doing if you want to be OK with doing it. I’ve really noticed this.

Writer Mike Sager has a section on his personal website called Tips.
It includes some real gems:

– 53 ways to improve your reporting
(Sit in the back, in a place that commands the entire field.)

– 51 ways to improve your writing
(Dare to be bad. Then go back and edit.)

– 25 ways to improve editorial relationships
(Try to avoid drinking at lunch.)

Russell Brand improvises as Trinculo

December 16, 2010

Here’s Russell Brand improvising a clever monologue that explains his entire backstory for the jester Trinculo (a character in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, soon to be a film directed by visionary designer/director Julie Taymor). Brand takes the character from childhood to shipwreck in 4 entertaining minutes.
Thanks to Holger and Brady for Facebooking this.

Milton Glaser’s advice

November 6, 2010

Here’s a good list of career advice from graphic designer Milton Glaser (best known for creating the “I heart NY” logo).

Two highlights:

1. You can only work for people that you like. All of my most meaningful and significant work came out of an affectionate relationship with a client. I am not talking about professionalism; I am talking about affection. I am talking about a client and you sharing some common ground.

4. Professionalism is not enough. What professionalism means in most cases is diminishing risks. So if you want to get your car fixed you go to a mechanic who knows how to deal with transmission problems in the same way each time… If you are professional, your instinct is not to fail, it is to repeat success. So professionalism as a lifetime aspiration is a limited goal.

Twiddling their thumbs

September 18, 2010

Check out this great video by Up & Over It. They’re dancers Suzanne Cleary and Peter Harding, and they’re making Irish Dancing awesome. So fun, such great music, so cute, etc. They’re so amazing they don’t even need their feet to dance:

You can see more of their videos on their youtube channel here, or look at very cute pictures of them on their website here.

Thanks Marissa for the tip!

Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk on Creativity

May 17, 2010

Lovely TED Talk about creativity by Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert. She’s a wonderful speaker, and this talk makes everything feel better. One friend who listened to it said it sounded like she was advocating religion, but I don’t see it that way; I think it also ties into Gladwell’s Outliers 10,000 hours thing.

Basically both of them are saying, if you put the pen on the paper and just keep going; the genius will probably show up eventually.

20 minutes; no need to watch, you can just listen. Here.
Thanks to Hill for the tip.

Muppets’ improvised camera tests

April 19, 2010

Here’s Jim Henson as Kermit and Frank Oz as Fozzie and Miss Piggy. Hilarious improvised banter during camera tests for the 1979 Muppets movie.

Via MeFi.

Animal photography

March 3, 2010

Here are some more breathtaking photos of various animals. I like how the speckly fur on this mandrill kind of blends away to nothing. My cats both have fur like this, too. Did I just take a post about a giant monkey and make it about my cats? PURRRFECT

A sampe sanna, smash bananna.

Thanks to Helder for the tip.

Kid Casting

January 17, 2010

I think about this all the time: who could play the younger version of who. Now there is a Tumblog called Kid Casting:

This is pretty amazing casting: I totally forgot that the young Mila Kunis played the young Angelina Jolie in Gia.

And here's another feat: witness the young Mayim Bialik (Blossom) as the young Bette Middler in Beaches.

Here’s my screen doppelganger: jazz singer Molly Johnson. Oh, and maybe one of these kids (scroll down) could appear as the young me. What a strange and fuzzy-haired world that would be.

Grocery Store Musical by Improv Everywhere

October 21, 2009

Improv Everywhere is well-known for the frozen Grand Central Station thing they did last year, and the spontaneous wedding reception they pulled off earlier this summer. Here’s their latest: a seemingly spontaneous musical number in the produce section of a large grocery store in Queens.

I bet they were hoping to get the patrons in the grocery store to squish their fruit together, too. I think the onlookers might have participated if the request made a little more intuitive sense- I don’t really get the fruit-squishing thing and I’m gonna assume that means the grandmas in the grape aisle must have been even more confused. Still, fun!
Here’s their interesting photo-essay about the process.

Thanks to Peneycad for the tip.