The truth is, Portia and I arent as different from you as you might think. We’re just trying to find happiness in the bodies and minds we were given, like everyone else.
The truth is, Portia and I arent as different from you as you might think. We’re just trying to find happiness in the bodies and minds we were given, like everyone else.
Here’s what caught my attention on Twitter this past week.
NASCAR’s removal of a YouTube video showing an accident on the track was unintentional. It’s funny to me how important this seemed a week ago.
Speaking of things that had everyone in a tizzy last week, The Onion apologized for that tweet during the Oscars. Former employees used it to bring attention to their new project no one had heard of yet. And speaking of the Oscars, Vulture’s Margaret Lyons dismantles every lame defense of Seth MacFarlane’s hosting gig. If you didn’t think it was that big a deal, here’s why that might have been. Finally, here’s an interesting roundup of brand-focused tweets during the ceremony.
Digiday argues brands are in a 24/7 marketing/conversation model. I had a good back-and-forth discussion with some folks on Twitter about this. Not sure all brands need to be 24/7 but not quite sure how to draw the line.
Art Spiegelman – author of the great graphic novel Maus – used to work on Garbage Pail Kids.
Farhad Manjoo on why Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer made a mistake in getting rid of work-from-home privileges.
Chicago might finally get its act together and create a real music industry for the city.
These pictures of little kids dressed up as iconic figures from black history might have been the best thing I saw all week.
Don’t lump Beverly’s Horse Thief Hollow in with the rest of the Western Avenue death march.
The Kansas University basketball team’s uniforms are half-Zubaz.
Which parts of the country say pop and which parts say soda? There’s a map for that.
Finally, here is Nick Offerman next to a quilt with Ron Swanson’s face on it.
Today is Abigail’s 2nd birthday. In re-reading the post I wrote last year about the intersection of my birthday and hers, I’m struck by what a difference a year makes.
I’m sure next year I’ll re-read this and think about how we spent that morning playing with her ukulele, listening to James Brown during breakfast and entering Day 3 of No More Bottle. A day full of things worth remembering.
It can’t possibly be a year ago that she was just getting off the bottle considering she now consumes everything from Cheerios to curry to granola bars but there it is. The uke is busted and sits behind a chair though she’s now obsessed with bongo drums. Still likes James Brown but is more into dance-pop lately (Robyn is a big favorite). She’s also got this weirdly awesome dance: moving back and forth while rhythmically bending her arms and hands. Vogue meets the Funky Chicken.
Plenty more changed in a year. We long ago lost count of Abigail’s words as mimicry gave way to sentences and context and intent. “Get UP!” she will say. Or “Take a walk” as she grabs your hand. “OK!” was a stand-in for “yes” until this week when it became “I did!” “Nay” became “Nooooo!” in a month. She now knows all her letters and can tell you her name (which has evolved from “Abby” to “Abigail” finally).
And Lord, our child is a daredevil. She wants to climb on everything. Yesterday she ran full-on through our upstairs (“I’m fast!”) and plowed straight into an Elmo-shaped plush seat which obviously couldn’t support 27 pounds of kid hurtling at 10-12 MPH and sent her head-first into the glass door of our entertainment center with a thunk. (No breakage. Thank you, Ikea. You’re tougher than you look.) I swore and scooped her up while she complained then shook it off and demanded to be set down so she could run around some more.
This year we were a little schedule-challenged – because Abigail’s parents just can’t not be busy – so we had a party for her two weeks before her actual birthday. Erin was in New Orleans for the half-marathon last week and our change in plans for the trip may have inadvertently led to a new tradition for me and AG: a father-daughter birthday trip to pick out her present. We’ll see if that holds up next year.
As for this weekend, I’m headed out of town for my traditional March guys’ weekend with friends. This year, our schedules just happened to align so my birthday weekend was the one that worked best. I’ll be home early in the afternoon on my actual birthday so I can spend it with Erin and Abigail but it’s kind of great that AG ends up spending a weekend around her birthday with one parent and the following with another. Each of us gets to be a little selfish with her.
But this morning, we played with hand stamps and dinosaurs. And tonight we had a Daniel Tiger cake together. She knew it was her birthday.
If you’ve read this far, I apologize. This post has no real agenda and nothing particular to say about where we are at two years into this whole child-rearing thing. More than anything I just wanted to make a few notes for Future Scott of 2014 who sits down to write a post then about co-celebrating his birthday and thinks “Oh man, that’s when she was in her Daniel Tiger phase.”
Tonight Erin asked me if there was anything I wanted to do on Sunday for my birthday. As I said last year, I felt like I already had my celebration.
This weekend I was solo parenting Abigail while Erin was in New Orleans for a half-marathon. We were supposed to be down there as a family but a last-minute toddler cold and fever had us facing down a nightmare travel scenario for our first plane ride together. Less a noble act of chivalry and more self-preservation, I did wonder – after what seemed like Erin’s second Facebook status about beignets – if I’d chickened out a bit. Midnight on Friday-into-Saturday morning with Abigail refusing to sleep unless she was leaning against me argued otherwise. It’s one thing doing that in your own house, another on a plane and other unfamiliar surroundings.
(Side note: Somewhere in my head is a post about how parenting is the art of things not going according to plan but I made two runs at it this weekend in between sick-toddler tantrums and I’ll be damned if I can fashion the ping-ponging thoughts into something coherent. Nora Ephron was right.)
Anyway, the weekend wasn’t without its merits. Saturday we tested out the family-friendliness of Horse Thief Hollow, a new gastropub-ish spot here in Beverly (passed with flying colors) and Sunday we went over to Toys-R-Us so I could buy Abigail a Tonka truck.
I’ve never much cared for Seth MacFarlane though I’ll admit to enjoying some of his Family Guy-fueled Star Wars parodies on a couple weekends away with some guy friends. Overall, I was disappointed that a dude who is clearly a song-and-dance man at heart felt the need to overcompensate with misogynist humor and gay-baiting.
Vulture writer and person-I’m-proud-to-call-a-friend Margaret Lyons sums up his hosting performance better than I can and explains why it’s not “just a joke” though I’ll add this: Just because there are other sexist aspects of the Oscars – the pre-show theatrics, plot elements of the films, etc. – doesn’t mean we can’t object to a joke about Jennifer Aniston lying about being a stripper. What we joke about when we joke about women: appearance, emotion and sexual availability. All this time and so few are working with new material or imagination.
We were at a kid’s birthday party several months ago when Abigail grabbed the back of a Tonka truck and steered it around the basement with glee. I was thrilled: Here was our daughter, young enough to be blissfully ignorant of the concept of gendered play and enjoying the hell out of a truck, tossing stuff in the back of it and self-powering it all over the basement of someone she just met. And not just any truck but the fabled Tonka truck – the Bob Seger-soundtracked-Ford-F-150 of kids’ toys. I made a mental note to buy her one for her next birthday.
With Erin in New Orleans and me needing reasons to get us out of the house, the timing seemed perfect for a trip to the toy store. I’ve obsessed over written of my desire to not default Abigail to pink and princesses and give her some say in her play. So, even with an agenda in my head, when we walked into that Toys-R-Us I took her hand but let her lead. She zipped past the shelves of Barbies but paused at an endcap of generic dolls. “Lala!” she exclaimed and ran over to the dolls, picking one up and inspecting it. Abigail’s first nanny was Polish. She bought her a doll and the Polish word for doll is “Lala” so there you go. After getting to know her, she hands me the doll. “Do you want this doll?” I ask. She nods yes.
As far as I’m concerned, we’re here to buy a truck. But I want to get her the truck for the same reason I don’t want to assume she’s genetically wired to like princesses. When possible, the world should be hers to explore and decide for herself what she’ll like and what she is like. Someone else’s expectations – even my own – are just that: someone else’s.
We walked through a few more aisles. I took her down the superheroes aisle just to see what would happen; she couldn’t have been less interested. When we got to the Tonka truck aisle there were three that caught her eye though we eventually settled on a dump truck of a size large enough for her to be challenged by it but big enough for her to master.
There was, however, still the matter of Lala, an issue made abundantly clear when Abigail placed her in the bed of the dump truck and proceeded to push the still-in-its-box Tonka truck across the floor. A dollar amount was in my head for this trip and Lala #2 put us over it by about 10 bucks. Plus, it’s not like Lala #1 wasn’t still sitting in her crib.
At this point, I’m rather charmed by Lala #2 so I’m happy with whichever toy makes it home. If it’s the truck, I’m pleased I’m introducing her to the concept of options. If it’s the doll, I’ll prove to my wife I’m not against girly things so long as it’s Abigail who decides it’s what she wants and not everyone else.
I put it to her:
“Do you want Lala or the truck?”
“Do you want the truck or Lala?”
She thinks about it a moment.
“OK, do you want the truck?”
Do you want Lala?”
At an end, I put the doll in my left hand and the truck in my right and hold them out in front of me. She looks back and forth between the two before charging at the truck, grabbing it with both hands and walking away. When we pass the endcap, I put Lala #2 back on the shelf, knowing I’ll remember this moment the next time I’m passing a Toys-R-Us and turn into the parking lot before the thought passes out of my brain stem.
All I’m saying is I don’t care if she wants a doll or a truck so long as she knows she has options.
Hopefully, she never sees Seth MacFarlane host the Oscars.
* In the interest of limiting the scope of this post, I’m not going to get into The Onion’s idiocy other than to say if we as a society can’t rally around the idea that if you’re going to send up the misogyny we aim at actresses you probably shouldn’t use a misogynist term and the name of a nine year old actress within the same 140 characters – yes, even “satirically” – then I don’t hold out much hope for us.
Normally, these Sunday week-in-review posts will have a few blog posts in between. Guess it was a busy week. Onward then:
This past week was the anniversary of the E2 club disaster. Thomas Conner of The Sun-Times looks at how it changed Chicago club safety and licensing.
Won’t usually be self-linking in this space but Cork & Kerry in Beverly has a new exterior patio wall meant to ape the St. James Gate at the Guinness brewery. I posted a photo of it to Instagram. (Follow me on Instagram via ourmaninchicago).
Chicago comedian Kate MacKinnon was hysterical on SNL last week as a woman in a Russian village who witnessed the fall of meteorites. “Bear with me, Seth…”
Seth Lavin’s Chicago School Wonks e-newsletter used to be required reading before he stopped publishing it to take a full-time job teaching. But he’s still contributing to the Chicago school reform debate. Here are ten questions he asked in the wake of proposed Chicago public school closings with responses from CPS.
Playboy got the Wall Street Journal to run with the idea that it’s more about making money through licensing than nudes these days, a continuing effort to leave its past behind. Nevermind that revenue is down significantly and it missed its 2012 profit projections and its CEO earned both HR complaints about his behavior and a lawsuit accusing him of embezzlement.
Esquire‘s Charlie Pierce calls the waaaaahh-mbulance on Politico.
Taste of Chicago lost $1.3 million dollars last year.
Rainbow Cone opens March 6th!
Facebook conducted an audit of its Insights tool and “uncovered bugs that impacted impression and reach reporting.”
The posting, removal and subsequent re-posting of a NASCAR crash video should have some interesting implications on the attempts of brands to claim copyright of fan-created content.
And finally, it looks like someone started a new site with the old EveryBlock code at chicago.wikiblock.com.
Every Sunday, I’ll be posting a “best of” roundup of items I linked to via Twitter with some brief thoughts. Here’s this week’s.
For some reason, Crain’s Chicago Business published a timeline of Chicago hip-hop, most of which had nothing to do with Chicago hip-hop’s affects on business, Chicago or otherwise, which is a shame because that would have been interesting. Keep on slicing up an ever-decreasing share of media verticals, everybody!
This “all-headline, no body” post is the dumbest thing I read last week, possibly ever.
Kevin Willer is leavingthe Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center and the deservedly-heralded 1871 tech hub for a venture capital fund.
I’m 99% sure Billy Dec is in on the joke of this parody video of himself. Mostly because the joke isn’t that funny (for a Mancow-fronted video about an easy target it’s pulling its punches a bit, no?).
Not sure if this article from Digiday means Virgin Mobile sits in on the actual editorial meetings with Buzzfeed to discuss story ideas or an “editorial” meeting (read: advertorial) with creatives to help them craft story ideas. Either way, it should scare the crap out of everybody, publishers and agencies alike.
According to DNA Info Chicago’s read on neighborhood census data, Beverly has the 2nd highest number of married men in Chicago. And as Rob Hart replied to me when I posted it on Valentine’s Day: “they’ve all made reservations at Koda, so good luck getting a table.”
Finally, last week’s Time Out Chicago cover story on what you can do to combat gun violence perpetrated against Chicago kids is a must-read, including its list of 30 ways to do it and Alex Kotlowitz’s essay on why downtown and North Side communities need to pay attention to the plague eating away at the South and West sides.
This American Life devotes two shows to these issues, with a special emphasis on Harper High School “where last year alone 29 current and recent students were shot.” You can listen to part one here. (Part two goes up this week.) Throughout part one, you’ll hear a recurring theme: school as a refuge from gun violence. Perhaps now’s not the best time to be closing Chicago public schools on the South and West Sides.
With a presence on various platforms – here, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr – I’ve been wondering how to balance them all without publishing the same stuff in every space. In particular, I’ve been wrestling with the question of how to get myself to blog more. If you’re a writer, you tend to write because you have something in you that needs to be expressed. And writing it – as opposed to putting it in a song or delivering a monologue – is the best way to express it.
I have those moments and Twitter, for the better and the worse, is the way I usually do it.
For the better because, as an outlet, Twitter is immediate and anywhere, if my phone is available. The laptop doesn’t need to be opened nor do I need to bother with logging in to WordPress, writing a headline, etc. And if it’s only a thought then that’s just fine. No need to climb the hill of composing a full essay.
For the worse because, honestly, becoming a better writer and having some permanence to my writing would be nice. Sure, Twitter forces you to omit needless words, but really digging in on something and not having to scroll back through countless posts to find it would be virtues. How best to take the good and leave the bad?
The “if this, then that” statement I’ve come up with here is if I’ve got three tweets or more to say on a subject, then it’s probably worth a blog post. Not a blog post instead of tweets – and probably not a Storify of posts either unless I’m feeling lazy as that still leaves the problem of having work I’ve done locked up in someone else’s space – but a blog post after the fact, using Twitter as a first draft. Three tweets seems a good number because that’s around 50-100 words which could stand on their own or easily extend into 250 with a few additional thoughts (I’m hitting about the 300-word mark now, for instance). With WordPress’s app, I could even do most of the work on my phone and save it for editing later. This process seems like a good way to encourage blogging without holding myself back from tweeting on the regular.
Even a comment on Facebook might end up as a post, which is what happened when my browser crashed as I was leaving a comment on a Facebook link Marcus posted to his story. Jolted into a realization that I was once again putting a bunch of time and thought into creating work on a platform that wasn’t mine, I threw together a quick post, which got picked up here and here. It’s always the stuff you toss off in a hurry that ends up resonating. There’s something to be learned there.
Seeing what happened with that post was the last push I needed to officially step away from Tumblr. I started on Tumblr in 2008, but mostly used it as an RSS feed from my blog (this post was an exception) until I was canned from Playboy and then really got into it, mostly because I had plenty of time on my hands. The Tumblr bookmarklet allowed me to combine the speed of Twitter with the weightiness of blogging. I’d grab a quick pull quote from a piece and respond without the concern of 140 characters. Loved it.
After a while though the constant outages made me wonder if I was spending a bunch of time on something that was too ephemeral. The last one in November lasted two days and prompted my break. Even now, I tried to find a few posts of value there and got hung up on its lousy search function. (It’s 2013, Tumblr, why don’t you have a decent search function? Compare this keyword search on Tumblr with this search I ran on my Tumblr via Google.) Then I figured out how to create a similar WordPress bookmarklet and create posts like this and that was the death knell for my posts there. I’ll still keep an account there because even in the three-month break from writing on Tumblr, I still enjoyed reading posts from people I follow there. But it will likely be little more than an RSS feed to this blog.
It just became too important to me to own as much of the work I was doing online as possible. I’ll still post regularly on Twitter because what it gives me is as great as what I feel I’m giving to it. Tumblr stopped delivering on its end of that bargain so I found another way to keep writing.
Curious though: Am I alone here? Have other folks who publish on various free platforms thought about any of this?
UPDATE: Kiyoshi Martinez posted a thoughtful reply to this post here – on Tumblr (heh). He cites the lack of maintenance, the reblogging and the inherent social networking features as reasons that drew him to Tumblr after a less than ideal WordPress adventure. On my Facebook page, Jaime Black praised many of these same features, especially Tumblr’s speed. All solid counterarguments and reasons why I was initially drawn to the platform.
Also on Facebook, I reiterated the outage-induced ephemeral feeling I’d been getting from Tumblr lately and John Morrison said he felt similarly about what he’d done on Gowalla and wondered if Everyblock fans were feeling the same way now, a point I hadn’t thought about until he said it.
And in case you didn’t see the pingback, Matt Wood had some things to say about the above. Interestingly, he notes his post was initially going to be a comment here but he decided to make it a blog post for himself, which echoes what I was saying above about wanting to have more of an owned archive of what I create online. (Incidentally, this also led me to create this page.)
If you’re interested in this kind of discussion, you should come to this event on Monday. I’ll be on the panel there and Jaime is hosting it so we’re sure to get into more of these kinds of issues.