levitate me
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Wheat? I Can Barley Hear You...

Man, I freaking love this band, Wheat*. Like Jimmy Eat World before them, I'm seriously burning them out fast - every day in the studio last week, I couldn't help cue it up at least once. Their site has some cool alternate and live version mp3's on it, and I think the album Per Second, Per Second... is worth every penny. Really.

* glenn macdonald loves it too
~ scott @ 4:39 AM [link]
More DVD Wars

As Blockbuster lowers prices and changes programs every other week, Netflix vows to forgo profits for as long as it takes, and rumors circulate about Amazon entering the fray, here's another interesting twist in the DVD wars: Peerflix.

They're billing it as a hybrid of Netflix and Napster - a marriage made in heaven, eh? - and I think there's a whole lot of eBay in there, too.

"We built a trading platform that is extensible, and it works for DVDs today," McNair said. "It can work for CDs tomorrow. It can work for games, it can work for audio books. It can work for a number of different things."

Games? Did he say games? Now that would be a killer app. Personally, I don't want to go to all that trouble of swapping a DVD to watch it once or - rarely - twice. But a game I might play for months would be a different story.

Speaking of Blockbuster, I actually went into our local store last week - a very rare occasion since I regularly have 3 Netflix rentals and 50 hours of TV shows on deck at Couch Central. What can I say? I was in town and expecting to be bored, and I wanted to see the special features disc from Matrix Revolutions. Anyways, a quick run through the store and wait in line was enough to convince me that these people are going insane. It's like they'll try anything to prevent their customers from using the competing services, including confusing the freaking frack out of them with rental plans and options more complex than a home mortgage. Then, the poor fella behind the counter scans my card*. A look of horror crosses his face as my profile appears on the monitor - "You don't have an unlimited rental plan! Oh! My! God!". Seriously, he came on with the $9.99 (thereafter to be $14.99 in small print) plan like spam for V1aGra... are these people now on commission? Whew! I realized then the best thing about Netflix: no human interaction. Wanting to watch a movie just should not be that complex nor exhausting.

* I say "poor" because, sadly, I've been there. Let's not talk about it.
~ scott @ 8:31 AM [link]
More From Shirky

Here's a few I enjoyed when browsing his archive - pretty insightful:

Weblogs debunks the idea of getting paid to blog:
"Weblogs make writing as abundant as air, with the same effect on price. Prior to the web, people paid for most of the words they read. Now, for a large and growing number of us, most of the words we read cost us nothing."

I never thought of it that way, but for me it's becoming true. My current reading is split about 50/50 paid offline and free online.

The Price of Information
"Information is only power if it is hard to find and easy to hold..."

So is there less power with more access to information, or is it just acquired and concentrated differently?

Communities vs. Audiences
Interesting ideas about when one turns into the other - it's all about scale.
~ scott @ 4:31 PM [link]
Breaking the Rules

I'm not really even sure how to classify this: Prangstgrup -- but it's worth watching. I highly recommend "Lecture Musical" and "Start-Up Sound" is pretty good, too.
~ scott @ 1:02 PM [link]
Get More Creative

I meant to post something about this last summer when I first found it: "How to be Creative", by Hugh MacLeod. The title could seem smugly presumptuous, but he really distills it down to some great points, and they're well-said too. I like the exposition of each item even better than the one-line versions.

Some are quite perceptive:
13. Never compare your inside with somebody else's outside.
Some I needed to hear:
30. The hardest part of being creative is getting used to it.
Some I disagree with completely:
7. Keep your day job.
Some are downright Biblical:
15. The most important thing a creative person can learn professionally is where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do, and what you are not.

In the book-in-progress version, his introduction to how all this came about is a really nice story, and features this brilliant quote:

"It is a very agreeable feeling, when you know you have something special and wonderful happening, but you donít feel any particular need to let everybody know about it."

(Great cartoons-on-business-cards too!)
~ scott @ 10:41 AM [link]
Kottke Calls It Quits

Blogger Jason Kottke is quitting his dayjob to blog:
Doing kottke.org as a full-time job. Isn't this is great? Score another one for wacky means to self employment.

Related reading: Interview with Jason Kottke.
~ scott @ 12:10 PM [link]
Ken Ferguson

I just learned of Ken Ferguson's death last December from this month's Ceramics Monthly. This is news travelling at the speed of parcel post, instead of web speed, which somehow adds to the regretful nostalgia of hearing the news. Like every icon who passes through this life before us, it's sad and feels like a bright spot has gone out. And like Shaner and Voulkos before him, these were the stars in the sky when I first discovered clay, and started reading about it and learning who was who. It's so strage to see them go, and to know that their work is now set for good, with no more to be added to their part of ceramic history. Generations go by in every field, but potters leave such an amazing legacy. Closer to home, I'm reminded of this every time I hear the words "Peeler Art Center", or walk past one of Richard Peeler's big pots there, or show his films to my class. The past is so important to clay.

I'm really grateful that I got to see Ferguson in action once, at SIU Edwardsville in 1998. I was there visiting the graduate program, and just happened to overlap with his workshop; I resheduled my flight and called in sick to work to stay an extra day and watch. The lasting impression I have is of his personality - stern, confident, unafraid, totally engaged with making things out of clay - and his obvious love of teaching and relating to students.

Ben Bates, one of his former assistants, was there and the way Ferguson worked with him on the pots was amazing: "Now Ben, what are we going to do next? This rabbit looks like it's ready to get propped up here..." Or something like that. It was his tone that I remember, like he couldn't have been any happier or more engaged at that moment. It was clear that he really loved working with someone else, and showing his process to everyone watching. A really unique, interesting example.

The Kansas City Star did an obituary and guestbook, with this great quote:
"Wreathed in smoke and fire, he pulled clay from the earth and made works of art to challenge the terrifying abyss of time."

Amen, brother.
~ scott @ 10:32 AM [link]