Category Archives: Random

3 articles/1 video

In the last few months, the AV Club have published three articles that I’d like to share with you.

Each article, in its own way, deals with the struggles of women in our modern society. One discusses the balance between motherhood and careerhood as portrayed in pop culture, the next deals with the stigma of weight and personal beauty, and the third is a glimpse into the career of a lesbian stand up comedian.

God knows there is more than enough blustering on women’s issues by the group least qualified to speak with experience on such issues: white, American men. So I want to leave most of the discussion to the writers of these articles, because they discuss these themes gracefully and intelligently.

Secondly, I want to share a video that you might’ve already seen, as it made the Internet rounds a couple weeks back. I had been putting off watching it; it was actually my little sister’s posting it to Facebook and writing a quick bit about it that made me finally watch it.

Without exaggeration, this is easily the most affecting “viral” type video I’ve ever seen.

This was incredibly convicting to watch, because I know I’ve used language like this in the past. Maybe not specifically referring to someone’s inferiority as “like a girl,” but other language that degrades and trivializes females. And however innocuous it seems, it completely fosters this culture of women as less thans, not as good as, weak-willed and unimportant. I don’t want my little woman growing up in a culture where her self-confidence is savagely attacked every time she turns the TV on, or walks through a store’s check-out aisle filled with magazines promising to make her body look like it needs to look, or is told she can’t do something like a boy can.

In the midst of reading these articles, reflecting on only a few of the myriad of struggles that women have to face throughout their lives, the strength and the confidence of the young girls in this video is so beautiful and inspiring. I hope they encourage you to be strong, like a girl, and to fight for real gender equality for our young ones.

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Reading Rainbow

This link will appear various times throughout this post so I hope you click it at least once.

The world we live in can be overwhelmingly disheartening. In our country, we are subjected to a broken political system where it seems like nothing can get accomplished and things continually get worse. We are a people so unwilling to do the littlest thing for our neighbor because it’s an inconvenience.

And then there are things like Reading Rainbow and its Kickstarter campaign.

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Just a quick bit of background, Reading Rainbow was a show on PBS that premiered in 1983. It was hosted by LeVar Burton (guy in the picture) and encouraged its viewers (aimed at kids in elementary school) to read. Each episode covered a topic found in a children’s book (the rain forest, optical illusions, lions, music, etc.), and explored it through several segments, while recommending several other books on the topic for viewers to seek out and read.

That video was my childhood. Reading Rainbow was in the lineup of PBS shows I watched religiously as a kid. I guarantee that this next statement is included in every piece written by a mid-’20s to mid-’30s writer about Reading Rainbow or this Kickstarter campaign, but I feel obligated to include it:

Reading Rainbow had an incalculable effect on my love of reading and learning. (If it’s any indication, I named my book review blog series I started at the beginning of the year “Butterfly In The Sky.”)

One might assume that because I am a career librarian, I have some entitled love of the show that transcends the “average” viewer’s love of the show. First of all, librarianship is not a field of book reading. Books are only a part of the field, and I could write a long post about this but others have done it far more eloquently than I could. I encourage you to go read some librarian-written blogs. They’re awesome.

Secondly, of course I’m grateful to the show for instilling a love of reading in me. But far more importantly than that, the show encouraged a love of learning. Learning was its cornerstone. It just happened to explore the joy of learning through the lens of literature, which I think I was predisposed to love due to my educational upbringing (shout out to homeschooling moms with el. ed. degrees) and the ironic fact that my staunchly conservative parents were overwhelmingly supportive of our family’s utilization of any and all resources at that most liberal of government institutions, the public library.

Here’s that link again.

But I’m digressing. Let’s fast-forward 30 years to 2013. By last year, Reading Rainbow had been off the air since 2006 (23 seasons, not too shabby for a publicly funded television program) but had regained some serious patronage numbers through the release of their iPad app in the summer of 2012. The app allows for unlimited reading of children’s literature and video field trips with LeVar. Within 36 hours of its release, it became the #1 most-downloaded educational app in the iTunes App Store. Well done, Reading Rainbow team.

Fast-forward one more year, to just about three weeks ago. Reading Rainbow launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to make their app available on the grand-daddy of all digital platforms, the web, along with 1500 free classroom subscriptions to lower income schools. The initial fundraising goal was $1 million.

And this is really where the heartwarming stuff comes in. The campaign hit its fundraising goal of $1 million in 11 hours.

ELEVEN hours. That’s insane. That means enough people cared about this project getting off the ground to contribute a 7 figure sum of money. That many people cared about getting literature in front of kids, to promote literacy, learning, and the pure imagination that comes from reading. It makes me emotional.
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After they hit that goal in almost no time flat, the team behind the campaign decided to raise the goal to $5 million. With this goal increase, the team will be able to offer the app through multiple digital platforms (Android, gaming consoles, OTT boxes, etc.) and offer free classroom subscriptions to 7500 classes.

This is huge. The amount of kids who will have access to this app has exploded with their goal increase. Right now, the campaign has raised $3.8 million, and approximately 82,500 backers. There are 12 days left in the campaign, and while they raised the second million within the next 24 hours, the funding has slowed considerably since then.

Here’s where you can help. Go to this link, and pledge some money. You can pledge as little as $1 and as much as you want above that. Plus, you get gifts based on how much you pledge. Honestly, there is not a downside.

It’s weird how strong of a visceral, emotional reaction to this campaign I had when I heard of it. It was an amalgam of nostalgia and pride and hope, mainly due to my month-old baby daughter. My hope is that she grows up in a world where learning is easily accessible for her. Where she is empowered by information, by the facts, by truth, rather than frightened by them. A world that puts value into her character and personality and mind rather than into the preconceived roles it thinks she needs to play.

I want Millie to have every opportunity she can to experience what a painfully beautiful world this can be. I truly believe the best way she can do that is through learning and the belief that her imagination and creativity and curiosity will take her wherever she wants to go. I think Reading Rainbow believes the same thing, and that’s what they want to bring to kids all over the country. I strongly support their mission, and I hope you do too. The campaign ends on July 2nd, so go pledge!

BA DA BAH!

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Happy New Year: Midyear Check-In

At the beginning of 2014, I wrote a short piece on New Year’s Resolutions. I picked 6 goals that I thought were measurable, valuable and attainable and attempted to keep them. Here’s a quick recap of the first half of the year.

  • Journal for 31 consecutive days

I did this in for the entire month of January. As I wrote in my original post, the Art Of Manliness posited this challenge to its readers and actually had a day-by-day writing roadmap. Each day had a new prompt to jog the writing muscle, and it worked great. I wrote my 6-word memoir, picked out a DIY project I wanted to tackle*, picked out my Cabinet of Invisible Counselors, did some free association, figured out what I’d do with loads of money, and determined my current place in the Hero’s Journey. And that was just a week’s worth of journal prompts. It was awesome, and I’ve kept up journaling at least three times a week each week.

  • Listen to a new album for 2 weeks straight, write about it

This is the resolution I’ve probably kept the best. I made a list of 26 albums from before 2013, none of which I’d ever listened to before. It was a mix of R&B, funk, rock, pop, jazz, country, folk, and ranging from the ’50s to the ’00s. I tried my best to keep the variety relatively even, with no one decade or genre being favored. It’s been an absolute pleasure. Sure, there have been a few albums I haven’t fallen in love with, but there have been far more gems I’ve stumbled across. It’s also been a new way to uncover just a few of the infinite connections within pop music.

For example, a few weeks ago I listened to Funkadelic’s Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On. After getting to know the album and really digesting it for two weeks, I randomly started making a playlist of my favorite tunes from the Native Tongues Collective, which caused me to go back through De La Soul’s De La Soul Is Dead. As “Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa” began, I realized I had heard the intro phrase directly from a Funkadelic record. This was quickly followed up by the riff from “I’ll Stay,” a tune from the Funkadelic record I had just finished writing about. I had listened to this De La Soul record many times, but had never made this connection before.

If that wasn’t a cool enough connection, that exact same week on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the Red Hot Chili Peppers played a song with The Roots. They played “Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On.” Had they done this two weeks prior, I wouldn’t have had a clue what this song was. And it was so awesome.

  • Read a book every 2 weeks, write about it

I’ve been less consistent with this one. While I started off the year strong, the last month has been so insanely hectic that I haven’t kept up well. I’ll explain why in a minute, but continue as best as I can for the back half of the year.

  • Drink less alcohol

Definitely succeeded in this. Haven’t completely stopped drinking, but having a pregnant wife helps.

  • Complete Insanity again (twice, or once and run a marathon)

It’s a shame that the one physical goal on my list was completely abandoned, but I feel like I have a legit excuse. I actually started Insanity in the beginning of January, and on like the 4th day, I went down to the basement to do the day’s workout, and found about an inch and a half of water on the basement floor. Turns out our neighbor’s irrigation system hadn’t been turned off, and the brutally cold days we had in January caused some pipes to burst between our houses, and the result was water. No joke, it seriously was two full months before we had the entire place cleaned up and back to normal.

So I haven’t completely given up on this goal, although my expectations are a little different.

  • New blog post once a week (average)

Definitely kept up with this one too. Some weeks have been a challenge to come up with something and other weeks I’ve had more than one post with no problem.

So hopefully I can keep these goals up as the year keeps going. The biggest change in our life is that I’m writing this post with a 6-day old baby sleeping on my chest. The last two months has been wall-to-wall getting prepared for our family becoming three. Trips to Babies ‘R’ Us, rearranging nursery furniture, playing go-for for my increasingly pregnant wife, going to prenatal classes at the hospital, etc. My usual lunch breaks where I’ve been able to get an hour of reading in has been replaced with baby-related errands.

So I’m not being overly hard on myself for not completing Insanity twice, or keeping up with the reading. I’ve got high hopes for the back half of the year, like getting back into running (a marathon is a pretty lofty goal, I might scale it back to shorter race) or getting some other books read. If nothing else, I’m absolutely going to keep writing. Aside from that and caring for a newborn, everything else is gravy.

*Homemade ladder ball set, completed two weeks ago with tools and moral support provided by my pal Eli. We’ve since used it and it is an awesome and gorgeous addition to my yard.

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Pop Culture Q&A, Vol. 5: With which fictional character would you most like to drink?

Man this is such a great question, and for my own peace of mind I’d like to say that my number one character jumped into my head immediately, prior to me going through the list of characters chosen by the AV Club commentators (my number one is on their list). So here are my top three.

braverman3. One of the funniest scenes in all of NBC’s family dramedy Parenthood is when Adam gets stoned because he unwittingly eats a pot-laced brownie. Seeing Adam under the influence of anything was a pure joy, as he crashes the girls’ bachelorette party and starts eating all of the fancy food Julia slaved over. Causing a decent amount of chaos at the party, he proceeds to start fawning over his wife Kristina and then begins a dance party with everyone. He seems like exactly the kind of guy I’d want to drink with, dorky, genuine, just happy about life and happy about getting a little buzzed. I mean honestly, look at this picture of him dancing. You couldn’t ask for a better drinking buddy.

2. I hesitated when I first thought of this trio, but because I’m so fascinated by their outlook on life and music and others that I couldn’t resist putting Rob, Dick and Barry from High Fidelity on my list. highfidelityI’d prefer to be drinking with them at a Chicago bar after their record store had closed for the day, much like they do when they meet up with local singer-songwriter Marie DeSalle. It looked relaxed and fun, a few coworkers (I’d hesitate to call these guys actual friends) just shooting the shit about life, music, and their dumb customers. And nearly everything Barry says causes me serious laughing fits so it’d be guaranteed to be a fun time.

1. Again, for the record, Leslie Knope was the first person that popped into my head, even before reading the AV Club’s list. She is the quintessential sweet drunk, she uses a buzz to expound on her life and her feelings towards those closest to her. She’d be a great conversationalist to drink with, someone with stories of her own but would listen for hours if you opened up. leslie-knopeAnd her drunk talking is possibly the funniest of any fictional character I’ve ever seen. Just a few examples:

“You make a better door than a guy.”

“I’m fart and I’m smunny and…I’m a prize.”

“I didn’t say you were a stupid jerk I said you were being stupid and acting like a jerk.”

These are way funnier in context, but Leslie is still the best.

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Happy New Year (Now Do Everything Better)

With a new year comes the inevitable barrage of articles about the new year. 10 Life Hacks for 2014!, 5 Goals for Healthier Living 2014!, 3 Challenges You Should Take On In 2014! And like many New Years Resolutions, they are often quickly abandoned. That’s why I’ve never been a big resolutions person. I tend to dislike fads, and I’ve always viewed resolutions as fads. However, in the last few months I’ve been thinking a lot about goals, especially long term goals, and I wanted to see if I could find some short-term goals or resolutions that I wouldn’t quickly give up this year. I picked 6 goals that I really like because they are valuable and achievable.

  • Journal for 31 consecutive days

This challenge is courtesy of Art of Manliness (fantastic site if you’ve never checked them out). The goal of this challenge is to simply journal something for an entire month straight. What’s great about AoM’s take on this challenge is that they’ve put constraints around the concept of journaling, making it easier to begin and easier to continue for a lot of people. It can be incredibly daunting to look at a blank piece of paper (or blank blog post in this case) and start writing. It’s taken me 8 years of writing to get pretty good at it, and I’m still pretty bad at it. AoM has provided a way around this by giving a short template for each day. Something to spark your creativity. I have actually only looked at the few days’ entries because I want each day to be a new surprise. I want to go into each day of the journaling challenge blind and journal my gut response to each day’s assignment. If you’ve tried journaling before and given it up, or never tried but wanted to, this is a great way to kickstart a new habit. If nothing else, you will get to the end of the 31 days and realize journaling isn’t for you and that’s just as productive as solidifying a new habit.

  • Listen to a new album for _ days straight, write about it

I’m leaving this one pretty open-ended for now because I’m not sure how functional it is for me to put in hard numbers at this point. I could choose random albums that I’ve had in my collection for years, or I could go with new albums I’ve added in the last 6 months-year and not listened to yet. I could also go for an album review a week or every two weeks or each month. I’m going to play with this one a little and see what takes.

  • Read a book every two weeks (average), write about it

This is a pretty lofty goal and I’ll be OK if I don’t hit it. I think the key here is to mix up the kind of books I read. Biographies, autobiographies, fiction, sci-fi, classics, new stuff. Can’t have all 1000-page old books. I’d like to finish Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, read at least one presidential biography, a few musician biographies, a few classics I didn’t read in high school (e.g. Lord Of The Flies, etc.), and maybe a few books to be published yet this year.

  • Drink less alcohol

First off, I’d like to qualify this goal by saying that I am not a lush. I enjoy drinking alcohol, but I can abstain if I choose. And with the advent of Baby, I have definitely decreased my alcohol intake in the last 4 months. It helps that my wife doesn’t drink at all, but it would save even more money and health if I cut it out completely as well. And while “drink less” is not a good goal to have (good goals need to be measurable), I’m going to start by shooting for a month of no drinking. Where it goes after that, we shall see.

  • Complete Insanity again (twice, or once and run a marathon)

Like how I sneaked that marathon goal in? After the last year, what was once the quintessential unreachable goal in my head (running a marathon) has now become something completely doable. The main problem I foresee is that the bulk of training would occur during the first few months of Baby’s arrival, which I have been told (by every freaking adult who finds out we’re having a baby. Hey adults, do me a favor and rather than tell me how miserable the few months of baby-raising are, tell me how much long-term satisfaction you get from being a parent. I already know I’m not going to sleep for two months.) are some of the toughest months for new parents. The fact that we will be adjusting to a new person, new sleep schedule, and basically new everything makes me less inclined to commit to full-blown marathon training. A good alternative to this would be to complete Insanity again, preferably twice. I’m definitely going to start it in the next week, which puts me in the middle of March when I finish, and then I could immediately start it again and it would be done around the time Baby shows up. A marathon is definitely in my sights though. Just possibly not this year.

  • New blog post once a week (average)

This has actually been a goal of mine for about the last six months, and I’ve kept it up. I went from posting something every few weeks or months to on average, once a week. I’m insanely pleased with my output, and I want to increase it slightly in 2014. I’m shooting for 5 posts a month. It shouldn’t be too difficult either, if I actually keep up with as much media as I plan on digesting.

6 goals for 2014. What goals are you setting for this year? What goals have you set in the past and completed, or not completed? (Secret 7th goal: increase readership through reader engagement.)

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Top 5 Recent Apps

5. Good Habits (free)

This is an incredibly simplistic app, but I love the idea behind it. This is actually Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity method (I’m sure he didn’t create it, but he’s the first person I heard associated with this method). Seinfeld would get a big calendar to put on his wall, and every day that he worked on new stand-up material, he’d marker a big red X over that day. After a few days, the motivation to keep the red X chain going was stronger than the motivation to not write new material, so he just kept it up. That is the idea behind this app. You enter in a particular habit you’d like to start or sustain, pick what days of the week you want to count towards the habit, then mark the days as you complete your habit. No frills, just motivation to keep going. And it works. I went from flossing like once a month to almost every single day in the last month (I missed October 1st so my longest chain is 28 days). But with blogging, I was on a pretty long dry spell, so I resolved to try and publish something at least once a week. So I marked that habit with only one day I had to check off, and whenever I check that day off, it makes the chain connect from my last checked off day, but my chain length is technically only 2 days. So while my blog habit chain covers the last few weeks without a break, my habit chain length is actually only 8 days. And if you complete a habit on an off day, it counts towards your numeric habit chain length. So even though Saturday is the one day I have to check off in order to keep my blog habit chain going, if I publish something in the middle of the week, my chain advances that far and my chain length number goes up by 1. Pretty sweet. I’ve definitely brushed and flossed more consistently this entire month, and compared to the first half of this year, my blogging consistency is through the roof. It works!

4. Swipes (currently free, they should release a paid version in the next two months or so)

Out of the 10+ to-do apps I’ve tried out, this is my favorite by a long-shot. The methodology is exactly like Mailbox, which, if you’re a Gmail user and you haven’t tried it yet, I would very strongly recommend giving that a try. So the methodology: you add a task or something you want to be reminded of (e.g. water the plants, buy a hose, change the locks, etc. Is it obvious we just moved into our new house?) and then a quick left swipe, and you decide if you want to be reminded on a specific date/time or a general time period like tomorrow or this weekend or next week. Then Swipes reminds you of your tasks when you’ve told it to, and you can left swipe to be reminded again later or right swipe if the task is done. Very simple, and nearly identical to the Mailbox app, just focused on to-dos rather than email messages. You can add tags and notes to each task if you’d like, and all of these are searchable within the app. Again, simplicity is key here. The next update will include a web app, cloud-based syncing, location-based reminders, task-sharing and adding priority categorization, all of which will be part of a pay package. That should be released sometime before the winter comes, and the pricing will be approximately either $0.99 per month or $9.99 per year. Phenomenally reasonable. The only real change I could want aside from that would be a cool Instagram picture when all the tasks are completed, like Mailbox gives you. Either way, this is a fantastically easy to use and helpful to-do app.

3. IFTTT (free)

IFTTT stands for “IF This, Then That.” It’s basically an automator for tasks you find yourself doing over and over. So you give it an “if” statement, and then tell it to do something if that thing occurs. IF I favorite a tweet, THEN save it to a particular Evernote notebook. It works by connecting to several different services and using recipes to complete tasks you do normally. For example, do you use Dropbox to store all your Instagram posts? If not, do you want to? It’s incredibly easy. You activate IFTTT to access both your Dropbox and Instagram accounts, and then everything is done on the backend by IFTTT, so every time you post a new Instagram picture, it automatically saves that picture to the Dropbox folder you specify. Think that’s a lame example because all your posts are already saved in Instagram? Then even better, how about saving all the Instagrams you like into a Dropbox folder for future use, like using them as rotating wallpapers? Bingo, you can create a recipe for saving Instagrams you like into a Dropbox folder.

The value of IFTTT really comes in when you can identify tasks that you do all the time via your computer or phone. So if I find I’m constantly trying to save all the pictures that I’m tagged in on Facebook, or I want to share a new blog post across all my social media accounts, or I want to save all the tweets I’ve favorited into Evernote, or basically whatever you can imagine, IFTTT can do it. Just to get an idea, these are just a few of the services IFTTT can access if you give it permission: Blogger, Craigslist, Dropbox, Etsy, Evernote, Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, Google services (Gmail, Docs, etc.), Instagram, Soundcloud, Tumblr, Twitter, WordPress, YouTube…and this list keeps going. And if you’re thinking “I can’t think of anything I’d use it for” just do a quick Google search for Useful IFTTT Recipes. You’ll find LOADS. It’s really an awesome service.

2. Brightnest (free)

Ever had a weird household problem to which you couldn’t find a great solution? Like the tub not draining well, water/calcium stains on a toilet, figuring out your mysterious electrical panel? Brightnest will help you tackle a very wide range of household issues like these. The app basically has a bunch of mini-(like seriously mini, very easy to read)-articles that run you through a particular problem or use for an odd household item or how to do that one odd job. All the mini-articles are categorized into:

  • Healthy: Detox Your Kitchen, Safety Check: Your Stairs, Disinfect the Five Germiest Places in Your House
  • Green: Kitchen Composting Made Easy, 7 Eco-Friendly Laundry Room Tips, Eco-Friendly Air Fresheners
  • Savvy: Budget Breakdown: The Cost of a Bathroom Remodel, 5 Cheap Ways to Beautify Unsightly Furniture, Conversations with a Burglar: 7 Common Home Security Mistakes
  • Curious: 2×4: Four Unexpected DIY Projects, Get More From Your Mudroom: Ideas and Tricks, Fold a Fitted Sheet the Right Way
  • Clean: Forget the Brush! 3 Easier Ways to Clean Drip Pans, De-Stink Your Home, De-Clutter Your Kitchen
  • Handy: The Hunt: How to Find and Prep Your Electrical Panel, Inspect Your Weather Stripping, Inspect Your Air Ducts
  • Creative: 5 Frightfully Fast Halloween Decorations, 6 Ways to Make an Unfinished Basement Awesome, Pick Your Palette: 5 Tips for Choosing a Color Scheme
  • Hungry: 2×4: Four Unbeatable Grill Recipes, 7 Kitchen Gadgets That Are Worth Your Money, From Bacon to Brie: 11 Thanksgiving Appetizers

There are only 24 mini-articles culled from a much larger list. You have to be interested in at least half of these, right? And I keep calling them mini-articles because they seriously don’t take longer than a minute and a half to skim through. Tons of handy information.

Other great features, you can favorite articles to save ones you’ve found most helpful, and the more task-oriented articles have difficulty ratings and average time estimates, and you can even schedule them so you’ll be reminded to rotate your mattress and clean your sheets next Saturday if you don’t have time to do it today. Pretty slick.

1. Day One / Narrato (Day One desktop: $9.99, iOS app: $4.99. Narrato Free is free, Narrato Pro is $0.99/mo or $4.99/yr, and Narrato Awesome is $4.99/mo or $39.99/yr)

These are two separate apps with the same end goal: life-tracking journals. They pull it off in slightly different ways, and each have their merits. I learned of Day One earlier, and I’ve been using it more frequently. Day One is basically just a journal app that allows you to write as much or as little as you’d like in an entry, as well as add photos and tags to your entries for better organization. That seems extremely simplistic, but it’s got a great user interface. When you make a new entry, it tracks your location (if you allow it) and even the weather. What I haven’t bought yet (I’m waiting until I finally purchase a new laptop) is the desktop complement, which allows for printing, export in a number of different formats, Map View,  etc. I’m rereading this summary and I really feel like I’m completely underselling the app. Suffice to say, it’s been a neat way to journal thoughts, ideas, goals, connect photos with all of those, and see it in a very visually dynamic way. Also, it’s been highly recommended by major media outlets, including Apple itself. Take a look here.

Narrato is the newest journal app I’ve found, and the idea behind this one is fantastic. Basically, the goal is to not just have a dedicated journal for text entries, but rather, what the app makers call a “life stream.” The idea is rather than creating strictly text-based entries from your own brain, finding inspiration in a host of other social media platforms. Narrato can connect to Twitter, Facebook, Moves, your iOS photos, Instagram, etc., and you can choose what content from these services to add to your particular journal. It also allows for text-based entries, weather/location tagging, and even a moods-based icon tag (basically adding emoticons. Cute). What I love about this is how easy it is for you to add a wide variety of different content to your journal. It’s quick and effective, not making the journal process a chore. To me, the main downside is that currently, there is only an iOS version. I despise typing on my phone, and for the most part, I’ll be wanting to add actual text-based journal entries, rather than just a hodge-podge of pictures, tweets, etc. But, much like Day One, it’s very visually pleasing and fun to use. Take a look here.

So which of these wins? I’m torn. If you are a social media content floozy (meaning you use loads of different platforms and post a lot of stuff), I’d go with Narrato. It’s a great platform to aggregate lots of what you post into a singular, very good-looking spot. If you are more reserved with your social media content posting, I’d go with Day One. It allows less flexibility for what kind of content you post (that will most likely get better as they continually release updates), but it also is more conducive to adding bulkier content (i.e. a long journal post) that takes a long time to create. For my money, I’m sticking with Day One.

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Pop Culture Q&A, Vol. 3: Best Fictional Concert?

Another stimulating question from the AVQ&A series on the AV Club:

  • What fictional concert would you love to attend?

Lots of great answers from the AV Club contributors, but after doing a fair bit of thinking on it, I think I’d want to most attend Bert’s One-Man-Band show from Mary Poppins.

Street performers are an interesting breed; there’s a serious level of confidence that has always impressed me. You’ve got to essentially bare your heart directly in front of another person and you get to see in real time whether or not they think you’re any good. If they do, you maybe got a dollar or two thrown in a hat or open guitar case; if they don’t, you get walked away on. I would think it’d be even more sobering than putting a performance up on YouTube and letting commentors go crazy on it. In real life, people might not be so awful to you as they are online, but there’s no emotional filter; you can see in their face what they think of your talent. And that’s why Bert’s One-Man-Band would be such a wonderful performance to see. There isn’t an ounce of self-doubt (except in front of the Constable) in what he does. He doesn’t seem to care what you think. He exudes sheer happiness in what he’s doing. The best kind of street performer.

On top of that, he’s a master of what he dubs Comical Poem. He makes up on-the-spot limericks about people in his audience. Normally, if I’m watching a performance, I dislike becoming a part of said performance, but in this case I think I’d be able to deal with it. Bert is such a charmer. He makes his audience feel at ease, never condescending or talking down to them. He is the pure opposite of vicious, with not a hurtful word being spoken to anyone. Nobody’s the butt of a joke. Everybody is just there to have fun, including Bert.

And his music! He’s got a gigantic drum on his back, harmonica/bicycle horn/trumpet/french horn around his neck, cymbals at every joint, and carrying an accordian. He creates this fantastic medley of sounds; he turns himself into a walking parade. I would love to talk to him after the show just to get an idea of how much time and effort goes into becoming a one-man-band.

He’d be a joy to chat with after the show too. Bert is winsome, happy, charming, and as he moonlights as a chimney sweep, you know the guy’s got nowhere to be after his show’s over, so he’d be happy to chat with you. He doesn’t think he’s better than his audience, he’s just happy to get a few quid and in return, you get a soaring compliment and directions.

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