31 January 2008

Mommy bloggers determined to change the face of a nation.

Because of my job and my personal interest in blogging and social media, I somehow managed to get signed up for a newsletter distributed by the Chicago Moms Blog. A few days ago a newsletter dropped into my inbox, titled "Open Letter to the Presidential Candidates." I was immediately intrigued.

In a nutshell, this network of women bloggers (Silicon Valley, Chicago, New York, and DC Metro Moms Blogs) is pushing an open call for the Presidential candidates to meet with them, and discuss the issues they feel are important and relevant to them (the bloggers).

What a great testimony of the power of social media. I'll be watching closely to see if any of the candidates respond.

I love the Paparazzi!

My friend Globetrotting V recently shared a new web page screenshot application called Paparazzi. It's been around for a while apparently but I'm just now learning about it.

The great thing about Paparazzi is it allows web users to take a full capture of any web page. This is a fantastic thing for me--particularly when at work--because I work off of a MacBrook Pro laptop and I can't always view an entire page on my screen. While Paparazzi is user-friendly and convenient it's, unfortunately, only currently available for Mac users.

Using Paparazzi is quick and simple:

1. Download the application to your laptop or computer.
2. Save it to your "Applications" folder.
3. Find the application and open it up.
4. Enter the url of the web page you want to capture into the URL window of the Paparazzi widget.
5. Hit the "Capture" button.
6. Save the screengrab into the preferred format.
7. Use saved file as needed.

One thing I really enjoy about Paparazzi is that is has a cropping feature. The standard web sizes are already preset into the application but there are fields that allow you to customize your size. To do this simply type in the measurements of the screen shot you'd like and you're good to go. I've provided a few examples here:

No specified measurements (a full screenshot):
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800x600:
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800x150:
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Now the last one is somewhat of an odd measurement but it proves Paparazzi can accommodate any of your screen capture needs. Enjoy Paparazzi!

30 January 2008

The Experience of a Symphony (Part I)

Things in my life are rarely simple. In fact, most situations I'm presented with are offbeat and interesting. I love this about my life; I've learned to embrace it. Knowing that now I must share something amusing that happened to me yesterday evening.

After I got off work I headed over to my local Circuit City to purchase a copy of Sarah Brightman's new release, "Symphony." (Yes, I said Sarah Brightman. She's talented. She's beautiful. Leave me alone.) Firstly, let me make it known how much I dislike Circuit City (the one I typically go to, anyway): their music is extremely unorganized and not user-friendly, and they typically only have one checkout line open. Not that I'm in a hurry to get anywhere...ever...but still.... I continue to hit-up this one specific store because it's convenient and they often have good deals on new releases.

So I somehow managed to locate the disc I was looking for (although I hang my head in shame at buying music located in the "Easy Listening" section), and then proceeded to the one-and-only open line. No biggie -- there was nobody else in line so I was assured a quick in-and-out. Well, it didn't go down exactly like that.

ME: "Hey, how's it going?"

EMPLOYEE: "Good." (Pause, looking down at my cd.) "Is she really the best soprano ever?" (This referring to the gold sticker attached to the packaging of my cd, boldly bragging that Sarah is "the best-selling soprano of all time.")

ME: "I guess so. That's what the sticker says."

EMPLOYEE: "Hmmm...can she hit the note Mariah can hit?"

ME: "Ummm, I'm not sure. I don't think so. But that's not really what being a soprano means."

EMPLOYEE: "Oh, well...that note Mariah can hit is da bomb."

Seriously, I'm not making this up.

ME: "Well, they're from two completely different genres."

EMPLOYEE: "Oh, well, I still think Mariah is crazy cool."

ME: "Have a great night!"

I quickly swiped my debit card through the required machine, had the employee place my cd in a bag, and walked out of the store. Then, of course, I had to laugh about the whole situation. The employee probably thought I was purchasing a Sarah McLachlan album.

After reliving the encounter throughout the day today, I have to wonder what a collaboration between Sarah Brightman and Mariah Carey would be like. (Scene ends with camera panning away, following my thought bubble.)

28 January 2008

Music Monday: One Step Too Far

Today's feature comes from Faithless. They've churned out several mega-club hits over the past decade, their most well-known probably being "Insomnia." The video highlighted here is titled "One Step Too Far" and is joined by the angelic vocals of Dido. Now, most people may not know that Dido got her start with Faithless -- her brother, Rollo, is actually one of the founding members of the group, and is also a master remixer. Talk about a talented family!

This particular mix of "One Step Too Far" isn't my favorite -- it's a more mainstream version, but still good nonetheless.

23 January 2008

Sicko (and I'm not referring to the Michael Moore documentary)!

I learned of this little bit of news earlier today, from a Twitter post by JustJulie. There's not really much to say about this story, except that it's sick, sick, sick.

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Click here or on the image above to read the caption.

Doesn't really surprise me though since Fred Phelps and his followers are demented and hate-filled human beings. I don't think they deserve the freedom they think they're fighting for.

21 January 2008

Twittering and Politics

I'm an avid Twitterer. I've been using it both professionally and personally for quite some time now, and find it useful--and productive--on both accounts. I recently learned that many of the current Presidential candidates are Twittering as well (or at least someone on their staff is). Oddly enough the majority of the candidates are running on the Democratic ticket, at least this is what I've discovered in some minor research (if you know of a central location that lists all the candidates who Twitter please feel free to pass it along to me). One individual who stands out as a rather active Twitterer is Senator Hillary Clinton. You can view her profile here. John Edwards has a profile as well but he hasn't posted any updates in quite some time.

Now, what's interesting about this observation to me is that I really have to question why the Republican candidates haven't embraced this medium. Particularly as someone who is not only young but is also extremely active in social media and technology. That doesn't leave a good impression with me. I believe an application like Twitter is certainly something that should be integrated into campaign packages, if the campaign managers were smart. I'll be interested in watching this as the elections get closer.

Music Monday: Empires

Today's song/video is titled "Empires" and comes from Kenyan songstress Lamya. Interesting name, sure. Interesting looks. Even more interesting voice. I believe my first encounter with this video was on MTV, during the time they actually played music videos. I was doing something around the house and heard the intro to the song and was immediately captivated. At the time, it was different...unique...and like nothing else that was in mainstream music.

So I decided to sit down and watch the entire video (this was long before the days of YouTube). Lamya's rich voice and creamy vocal layering intrigued me, and I immediately had to go out and purchase her debut album, "Learning From Falling." It's actually a great album. I didn't realize until doing some research that Lamya had actually been with '90's soul group Soul II Soul for a while.

While the video featured here isn't necessarily the most creative or artistic in its concept, I think the lyrics are amazing...and actually if you listen closely this could be the perfect theme song for any of the current Presidential candidates.



For additional information on Lamya visit her MySpace profile.

20 January 2008

Oh no she didn't!

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of seeing Kathy Griffin perform live at the Bobb Carr Performing Arts Centre. Not my favorite venue; actually, to be quite honest it's beginning to look at little dingy. Orlando isn't necessarily known for its fine arts facilities. But I digress.
Now I know many people find Kathy offensive, and probably vulgar. She's certainly an aquired taste; I can certainly understand that, but I find vulgarity and offensiveness funny. Sorry, that's just my sense of humor. Life is way too short to be taken sersiously. And while Kathy's schtick is mostly known as poking fun at celebrities, I realized during her concert (at least this is my take on it) that she doesn't truly believe what she's saying about the celebrities in her act, she's just showing the world how absolutely absurd celebrity in America is. It makes perfect sense now.

And the ironic thing about it is she's catapulted her own persona to fame by mocking the very machine that kept her from being famous years and years ago. I think it's great. She's kinda saying, "Screw you America and your stupid celebrities. I'm going to make you love me whether you want to or not." And for that, I totally totally do.

14 January 2008

Are we too exposed?

I was recently reminded of just how vulnerable we all are in the age of video. I can't even identify with what some celebrities go through in their daily lives, experiencing the constant barrage of photographers and fans. Granted, many celebrities crave the attention and in some ways ask for the exposure (this is a forever-debated topic in the culture of American fame), but then there are others that mostly remain out of the limelight, and don't necessarily flirt with the exposure. The "video" that reminded me of this is the infamous incident that occured with Bjork over 10 years ago.

What? You never saw it? How did you miss it? Well, not that I'm perpetuating this nonsense:


Now, granted violence is, of course, never a logical solution in any situation, but what in the heck prompted this outburst of Bjork-absurdity? Well, it could be a number of things:

1. Bjork didn't want her child exposed to the insane media.
2. The reporter told Bjork her Oscar swan dress was the ugliest thing she'd ever seen. (I'm one of the ones who actually thought it was a clever media stunt.)
3. Bjork was simply jetlagged.
4. Bjork had too many cups of coffee on her flight and she was going to have a major blowout in the bathroom.
5. Bjork was in a hurry to get to the studio.

Seriously though, isn't this a tragic case of personal invastion? Or it deserved? In any case, was the freakout justified?

Music Monday: Glory Box

Strange.
Haunting.
Creepy.
Depressing.
Romantic.
Moving.

These are only a handful of words that come to mind when I here the name Portishead. Hailing from England, Portishead was at the helm of the creation of trip-hop during the mid-1990s. They are undeniably unique, and can't really be compared to any other band around. Particularly none that exist today.

I first became aware of Portishead when I purchased the soundtrack to the 1996 Bernardo Bertolucci film, "Stealing Beauty." Odd film. Absolutely brilliant soundtrack. The Portishead song included on that album is titled "Glory Box," and I've included the accompanying video here:

12 January 2008

Who do you support?

I've posted here before how I'm currently forced to listen to local radio, which completely blows. However, a few days ago I was heading to work and the hosts of a morning radio show was chatting about a website where listeners can take an online poll, helping them gauge which American President hopeful their ideals line-up with. (We can all agree that the Internet and social media have played the most important role ever, in the current races.) It's the "Select a Candidate Quiz." Topics of relevance within the poll are: Iraq War, immigration, stem-cell research, and, of course, marriage. After taking a few moments to fill-it-out it was revealed that I support John Edwards.

I think I need to do some more research on these candidates. If you'd like to take the poll click here.

09 January 2008

Wordsmith? Perhaps...

I purchased a new flatscreen television this past weekend, along with some new furniture from IKEA to compliment it. In order to do that I had to do some reorganizing of the living area of my apartment, which eventually led to some much-needed throwing out of junk! In the process of the "junk throwing" (doing so I nearly knocked-out my cat several times) I came across a few notebooks, which contain years-and-years of poetry. Yes, at one time in my life I actually convinced myself I had writing talent.

I've always been told I have writing skills, and it's always brought me pleasure. Haven't done it in years though. So I began thinking about maybe starting-up a poetry/writing blog, a platform for me to put myself at risk of being criticized by the world. Wait, don't I do that already by way of this blog, and where I work? I'm still undecided but am strongly considering this new venture.

If you're reading this, what do you think? Would you be interested in reading this new blog? And if so, what would you name it?

08 January 2008

On Its Way

I like Madonna. While everyone in the world has an opinion about her as both an artist and an individual, I think she embodies creativity, innovation, and style. So needless to say I'm anxiously awaiting her new album, due for release sometime early this year. Promotion has begun, buzz is good....

Until the unnamed album is officially pushed out to the marketplace, there's an online poll for users to vote for the ''Most Elegant Woman of 2007," for which Madonna is currently in the lead. Here's where the "style" comes into play.

Who do you think should win? To cast your vote for Madonna click here.

This Time I Am the Critic

I'm a fan of entertainment award shows, I must admit. The Oscars. The Grammys. The Golden Globes (which are actually being canceled this year). I know, I know, it's a weakness of mine. I hate watching them, mostly because of crappy talent and poor writing. I don't even necessarily agree with ''awarding'' individuals simply for doing their jobs (which is, after all, what they're doing). I've always felt that way. But there is something fun about seeing a mass of celebrities in one place at the same time. It's almost always amusing, particularly when they're walking down the red carpet.

So when VH1 aired the Critic's Choice Awards last night I just had to watch. While I haven't seen any of the movies being recognized, it did seem many of them were non-mainstream, which I always enjoy. I was a bit hesitant to watch at first though, when I discovered ''comedian'' D.L. Hughley was hosting. Firstly, he's not that well-known, so that was surprising. Secondly, I don't think he's funny at all (Bravotv.com agrees), and after the show last night I feel even more strongly about my opinion. Most of his jokes seemed to be race-centric, with many references to "you wouldn't see a black actress getting caught in that situation" or "a brother would never be cast in that role.'' I was seriously, seriously turned off, and thought he was severely miscast.

Wow, am I Debbie Downer or what?!?!

06 January 2008

Music Monday: Freedom '90

The early '90's were an interesting time in American music. The [painful] period of hairband rock was on its way out, mainstream grunge was on its way in, and europop acts started dominating the charts. In the midst of all of that came a song that captivated my attention the very first time I heard it. Actually, it was the video that captured my attention, and what's ironic about that is the artist behind the song was nowhere to be found.

''Freedom '90'' was a groundbreaking, beautifully shot video featuring some of the most famous supermodels of the time including Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, and Naomi Campbell. They could be seen lazing around a loft in anywhere, USA, lip-synching to the track off of George Michael's brilliant ''Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. I'' album. The interesting thing is Michael was in the middle of a brawl with his record label Sony because of the image they'd created for him during his ''Faith'' album, and he boycotted them by not appearing in any of his videos from the former album. And by choosing models to represent his song, it's the perfect concept -- what, really, better represents American culture than a supermodel? (This isn't necessarily my personal opinion, but certainly one that hangs around through the years.)

Political Thoughts: Part II

American politics is severely heating up, particularly given the next Presidential campaign is less than a year off. A few weeks ago I had a post titled ''Political Thoughts: Part I,'' and the center of the topic is about celebrity involvement in politics. Everyone has their own opinion on the matter. On top of this, religion and politics are most often very controversial (see Mitt Romney article), and mostly always heated. It's because of that I'm not going to go into much detail about my personal opinion -- I'm mostly interested in finding out what other people think.

Many people believe a candidate's religious background should play a major role in their campaign. The idea being that religion equals character equals how individual choices are made. Others, however, hold the opinion that religion has no impact on a political campaign, and does not belong in the government.

What's your opinion? Let others know by participating in the following poll: