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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sound Scene

Last night was the DC Listening Lounge's Sound Scene 2011: Natural Selections show. It was a success!

We moved up to a bigger venue this year (the Goethe-Institut in Chinatown) and got mentions in the weekend calendar sections of the Post and some local blogs. As in past years, there were audio pieces, live music, and interactive installations. It was great to see the whole thing come together after working on it since March.

This year we also had a few video pieces (with an emphasis on audio). I collaborated on one with Brad, Saskia, and Jess. I'll post a link once it's uploaded to Vimeo. Meanwhile, I posted a few pictures on Flickr.

(Local illustrator Elizabeth Graeber did the poster.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Eat your broccoli

Packaged food manufacturers are feeling some heat from attention in recent years to the health impact of their products. I've been seeing a series of ads lately from Mars, the major chocolate maker, that address these concerns head-on. Here's one:

After a moment, the text changes to "It makes an occasional treat taste even better."

Do you think these ads might be designed to fail? I realize it's supposed to be a little bit cheeky, but I think Mars knows quite well that suggesting that people eat more broccoli instead of chocolate is most likely to make people think of how much they'd like some chocolate.

It's also possible that they are designed to fail in a second, more subtle way. "Eat more broccoli" is a crude form of the message that's been coming from public health advocates, and it sounds lecturing. By telling people to eat their broccoli (even somewhat jokingly), it helps remind people how much they hate being told what to eat. It seems quite likely to me that this particular presentation is calculated to make policymakers feel like they'll be perceived as lecturing if they impose nutrition/labeling/etc. standards on the industry. I think I've only seen these ads in the Washington Post, and it would only heighten my suspicion if they aren't appearing elsewhere.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Bikes vs. cars

Jet Blue offered an LA-to-Burbank flight during "Carmageddon" this past weekend. Tom Vanderbilt (of Traffic fame) off-handedly tweeted that someone ought to race the flight on their bike. Some folks actually did that, and the bikes won!

As he explains in his column, the comparison is a bit contrived, but it does help make a point about the feasibility of bicycles for transportation, even in a place that isn't built with them in mind. (Here in DC, biking gets me to work about 5 minutes faster than driving, and about 10 minutes faster than transit. Comparison with jet not immediately available.)

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Juan Valdez

If I had known the real Juan Valdez was appearing at the Colombia portion of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, I would have made a point to get down there. (The bit about the Juan Valdez succession process is kind of interesting.)

Monday, July 04, 2011

Eastern Shore

I went to the Eastern Shore yesterday with Aron, Alex, John, and Mike. We all squeezed into Mike's car (he being the only one among us to own one) and took a nice loop ride, starting from Easton.

Aron had his iPhone mounted on his handlebars, equipped with an app that tracks routes via GPS. Previously, if feeling ambitious, I might have mapped out a bike trip after the fact, but this nifty program allowed him to simply email us the route. It even includes information on our average speed for each mile of the trip, if you're nosy.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Songs of the Moment (An Occasional Feature)

> Lyrics Born - Callin' Out
> Modest Mouse - Fire It Up
> Dosh - Everybody Cheer Up Song
> Beatles - Hello Goodbye
> Blackalicious - Shallow Days
> Outkast - Synthesizer
> Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues

I think that video for "Helplessness Blues" is unofficial, but it's well done.