Ken Burns-on-a-Shoestring: Creating Buzz to Launch Mini-Doc “Digging Detroit”

“The Joe,” the battleship-gray windowless box on the Detroit River, is slated for 2017 demolition, making way for high-rise condos, a hotel and shopping as part of a pay-back to creditors owed $1 billion.  For a few months in-between wrecking-ball and ground-breaking, Detroiters will once again have an unobstructed view of the river at the corner of Fort and 3rd–as if looking back in time and seeing the Purple Gang hijack another bootlegger at the docks, before moving its haul up the street to the speakeasy beside the church. And that same little brick building on the left will probably still be standing when the condos are torn down in 60 years–perhaps making way for the next home for the Wings. When the 1974 picture above was taken, I was probably immersed in Channel 50’s after-school reruns of Get Smart, Gilligan’s Island or deeper in the way-back machine, The Three Stooges and The Little Rascals.  Inevitably I’d have to endure the “Let’s put on a show” moment as Alfalfa or Darla would… Read More…

Our Sanity Just Out of Rifle Range

Christina Taylor Green In the days after yet another school shooting, this time in Portland, let’s take a moment and reflect on how our attitude towards gun control and ownership has evolved in the past few years. The Sandy Hook tragedy took place on December 14, 2012, about a year and a half ago. Columbine was on April 20, 1999: 15 years ago. The Aurora movie theatre shootings, in which killed 12 people were shot and killed at the opening of the movie Dark Knight Rises, happened on July 20, 2012, almost two years ago. A friend of mine recently told me she was nervous about going to the movies; she was afraid of a gunman opening fire. Before 7/20/12, it probably never occurred to her that going to the movies could get you shot. Now, apparently, we should be afraid to leave our kids at school. It’s hard to… Read More…

Fracking, Rat-Packing & Heart-Attacking: Opening Pandora’s Box of Ads

It is better to give than receive–particularly homework.  But for one weekend my high school students didn’t mind, at first, being asked to watch the Super Bowl and its commercials. The quickly frowning class soon realized it would have to count the number of edits, how a narrator was used, the use of graphics, music, celebrities, etc.  But my favorite column read, “Intended Audience.”  I started the assignment back when the agencies realized they could had grab the same audience that didn’t get a sandwich during a timeout for the first Macintosh ad in 1984–and the Bud Bowl began. Generally, a football game will not be the correct forum for Mop & Glow, pet food or feminine hygiene.  (Someone on Madison Avenue once gave birth to the strange descendant of “It’s not your father’s Oldsmobile” as the cringe-worthy, “It’s not your mother’s tampon.” ) The standards for the “Big Game,” as the NFL insists other… Read More…

$100 by Tuesday and You Could Be a State Senator: Great Pay, Hours and Benefits!

  Do you hate those knocks on the door with people holding clipboards?  Have you thought of running for office but don’t want to be the next Avon lady? Well, you can skip those pesky 500 petitions needed to run for state office in Michigan.  The state’s website recommends getting 1,000 signatures–just to be on the safe side in case you’ve got some bogus citizens or someone’s going to challenge you on using a #3 pencil or a hanging chad. That’s right!  For the low, low price of only $100 and a notarized form by 4 PM Tuesday, April 22nd, you too can be on the primary ballot for the Michigan State Senate. Did you see the best part? If that doesn’t appeal to the laziest in all of us, I don’t know what would.  That’s less than one month’s basic cable–and you’re eligible for some pretty good pay and… Read More…

Get Hooked Up On LinkedIn: Reaching New Career Heights with a Few Clicks

Although it is easy to believe that you have peaked in your career or that your true potential is out of reach, networking on the internet opens up more doors than any one person can shut. It may appear to be overwhelming at first but there are effective ways to put your best digital foot forward without getting stressed out. And you may have more say in your future than your socioeconomic status would indicate. Joining social, job-seeking websites can even the playing field pretty quickly when it comes to prospective job seekers. Whether you are employed or otherwise, situational perspective should be common ground among any single person who has access to the internet. We all have expectations for ourselves, no matter where we come from. Let’s focus on LinkedIn. It is often overlooked as a valuable tool, often poorly utilized and too readily ignored by people who are… Read More…

“Mr. Lincoln, All the Ladies Like Whiskers…” Long Beards, Nostalgia & Entrepreneurship

Listen to our podcast with beard-entrepreneur, Doug Geiger, founder of the beard-care and philosophy website canyouhandlebar.com… It’s hard to find many statues honoring a fashion expert, but in Westfield, New York you’ll find one dedicated to an eleven year old adviser to the president. Abraham Lincoln, in addition to his many accomplishments as a statesman, orator and joke-teller was also a bit of a trendsetter.  Grace Bedell, an 11 year-old fan during his presidential run, wrote to him and famously recommended the candidate grow some facial hair, “All the ladies like whiskers.” And while women wouldn’t have the vote for another 55 years, Lincoln made the shrewd decision to court the nation’s wives. In honor of Presidents Day, let’s look over the 20% our commanders-in-chief who have sported facial hair, and you’ll see a pattern at 16 through 27. Aside from the sideburns of John Quincy Adams and Martin Van… Read More…

Rating People Like Movies? Using a Metascore for Your Neighbor and Spouse

In the land of The Newsroom‘s Aaron Sorkin, everything ends up as it should be–Karma works and Yins and Yangs co-exist happily.  (For example, the Obamacare websites would be working on day one.)  In Sorkin’s final scene in The Social Network he portrays the Facebook founder as a miserable billionaire with no friends, cyber stalking his ex-girlfriend who started the whole ball a-rollin’–all to the Beatle’s tune, “Baby You’re a Rich Man.” But unfortunately for us, Zuckerberg’s not really that sad and Martin Sheen isn’t in charge of the Affordable Health Care Act.  Hollywood isn’t real–but maybe a piece of Hollywood could be real–the Metascore. Bloodsuckers in Washington?  Who Knew? I’d finally caved and started a Netflix viewing of the terribly bad, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.   “Now that’s a mistake,” I complained.  “The White House didn’t have that second floor porch until Truman was president.” “They also didn’t have vampires,”… Read More…

We Are Still Fans…Somehow

College football’s Nittany Lions won a thriller this past weekend, a tight game requiring multiple overtimes. I grew up in eastern Pennsylvania, in a region teeming with Penn State grads and Nittany Lions fans, and I befriended a few of the rare ones who tolerated someone who went to Notre Dame. After the PSU game this Saturday, my Facebook page was abuzz with Penn State pride. One friend wrote simply “We are…,” to demonstrate her team-pride. Discounting the possibility her typewriter broke before she finished the phrase, and ignoring the fact the slogan just may be appropriated from another college team and a film with Matthew McConaughey, there may be some inadvertent significance to the fact the phrase read simply “We are…” The missing words, “Penn State,” once stood for college football dominance as well as decent academics and a diversified alumni, but to many, the words have come to… Read More…

Uncommon Sense: YouTube Teacher Resignation Reaches Nearly Half-Million in a Week

“No wonder teacher burnout and turnover are at an all-time high.” Few people turn pages of newspapers.  Fewer people flip their phone apps to the editorial button to read letters to the editor.  And the only thing smaller than the audience for a school board meeting telecast is the audience at an actual school board meeting. But in just over a week, nearly half a million people have heard why an Illinois teacher has had her heart broken too many times by the new politics of school systems’ reliance upon test scores and disregard for teacher worth. It’s not slick, like last winter’s Ed Asner-narrated modern fractured fairy tale that illustrated the California Teacher’s Union struggle:   The Asner video created more of a backlash against its production value and thus fogged over the facts that were present within its narration.  In fact, Ellie’s resignation resides in its complete lack… Read More…

DON’T “Reply to All”

   Comedian Nathan Fielder engineered a prank on Twitter recently. You may have heard of it already. He asked his followers to send this text message to a parent: “Got 40 grams for $40.00.”  Then, they were to send this message to the parent right afterwards: “Sorry. Text not for you. LOL.” Fielder asked his followers to submit screen-prints of the parents’ responses. Some of the responses were hysterical, in all-caps. Some were surprisingly laid back. All were pretty funny. Here’s a site where you can read some responses: htttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/25/nathan-fielder-prank-drug-deal-tweet-parent-outrage_n_3157077.html These texts were intentional, of course, but haven’t we all at some point accidentally sent the wrong digital message?  On our iphones, say you’ve saved texts from several people and you want to respond to one of them, doesn’t your thumb sometimes hit the wrong one when you’re momentarily looking up to see if traffic stopped?  Haven’t we all replied… Read More…

Zooey Deschanel is a Dark Skinned Male!

   The Boston mystery has been solved. Police were searching for a “dark skinned male” last week until, after a few days, they identified him: Zooey Deschanel. That’s what you learned if you were getting your news on local channel Fox 4 in Dallas. John King from CNN reported the “dark skinned male” part, citing a government official as the source for his description. And in Dallas, a scrolling line below the Dallas anchors announced that Zooey Deschanel, star of the series “The New Girl,” the films “500 Days of Summer,” “Elf,” and other political diatribes, was the bomber. Most likely the source of the Dallas report was spell-check trying to contend with the name Dzokhar Tsarnaev. Or the typist hates “The New Girl.” The mistake leads to an interesting question: how many people in Dallas said, “no way,” and how many said, “really?” The Capitalist spirit has always had… Read More…

The Three Things Babies Don’t Want You to Know

This is Sophie, my two year old daughter, in a diner in Davie, Florida. I posted this photo on Facebook with the caption, “Go Eagles!” In an act that took me 30 seconds, I enlisted my innocent two year old into my plan to annoy as many Dolphin fans as possible. Raising my three girls has been a pleasure not just because I find ways to express my fundamental obnoxiousness, as important as that is. It’s also a joy for all the reasons everybody talks about—unconditional mutual love, having at your constant disposal little balls of indescribable cuteness, the pride in self-perpetuation, blah blah blah. But there are effects of parenthood that nobody tells you about, effects that you should be warned about before taking the leap into parenthood.  So, in the style of Cracked.com (without the sense of humor), here are the secrets babies don’t want you to know: 1. They… Read More…