Want to donate to Blogumentary?
Blogumentary has rewarded the effort I put into it many times over, and I'm grateful for everyone that contributed in myriad different ways. It's out in the world, free to roam the wild bits.
I took down the donation link a long time ago because it seemed like I'd reached a karmic equilibrium.
Oh, and nobody used it. :-) But with all the renewed interest, and the fact that I'm broke, what the heck? If you're so moved, here's a donation link.
Why did I post Blogumentary online for free?
Because of letters like this one:
My name is Vedran Vucic and I am working for the Linux Center in Belgrade, Serbia. However, we work with GNU/Linux and free software for more than 12 years and fight for freedom of speech and freedom of information infrastructure which is not the case in full sense yet.
I found your Blogumentary thanking to one our blogger who participated in our project on blogging in which we trained 40 people from various indpendent magazines, free lance journalists, students of journalism, members of NGOs to create and maintain their blogs. (aggregator is on http://planeta.moj-blog.org). I am sorry, but the posts are on Serbian which is probably not useful to you very much. :-)
We offer free of charge burning on CD your video so people with weaker Internet connection may see it and learn about importance of blogging. I hope that is OK for you. We plan to use your video on our seminars that are free of charge for those who would like to establish their blogs and give voice to teh public.
We will continue with our seminars and efforts to create much wider blogging community that will report on their perception of society, life, politics, culture, science, education etc.
Please continue your work with courage as you have had so far.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any requirements or questions.
WIth the highest respects,
President of the Board
I've never done so much video shooting in such a short span of time. And boy, are my arms tired! And my chest, and my shoulders, and – I'll stop griping. My new camera is a little heavier and I almost always end up doing handheld stuff, holding it high and one-handed and every-which-way. A good workout.
When I worked at the public television station, I always thought it would be cool to become a video editor or a videographer. I didn't think I'd ever escape being "the web guy." Finally it happened, and fast. Ever since quitting my dayjob to edit Amanda Across America, it's been a nonstop video rollercoaster. Wee!
This week alone I'm shooting art, architecture, fashion, dance, and more fashion. Not to mention the "candy kitchen" lady. Oh man, what a ride.
I'll tell you what muscles I haven't been flexing: Performance muscles. I attempted to improv a character tonight for Chasing Windmills and, as Lori said, "there were bright spots." Amid 85% dark, uncomfortable, unfunny spots. Hopefully the editing will save me, and save us all. It was cool seeing Aaron, Alexis, and Amber.
Speaking of not-so-great performances, I was on the Canadian Broadcast Network this week. The show is called Freestyle, and apparently it's on satellite radio too. It was live, and I talked about blogs and journals and presidential campaigns and stuff. I was nervous at first, and when I'm nervous I run out of breath. Thankfully it's not online because of all the cool music they play. I loosened up about halfway through the interview and found my groove, but dang - no editing magic on live radio.
Me no talk good, no make sentence, punctured lung uh-oh!
February 18, 2007
With One Word, Children’s Book Sets Off Uproar
By JULIE BOSMAN
The word “scrotum” does not often appear in polite conversation. Or children’s literature, for that matter.
Yet there it is on the first page of “The Higher Power of Lucky,” by Susan Patron, this year’s winner of the Newbery Medal, the most prestigious award in children’s literature. The book’s heroine, a scrappy 10-year-old orphan named Lucky Trimble, hears the word through a hole in a wall when another character says he saw a rattlesnake bite his dog, Roy, on the scrotum.
“Scrotum sounded to Lucky like something green that comes up when you have the flu and cough too much,” the book continues. “It sounded medical and secret, but also important.”
The inclusion of the word has shocked some school librarians, who have pledged to ban the book from elementary schools, and reopened the debate over what constitutes acceptable content in children’s books. The controversy was first reported by Publishers Weekly, a trade magazine.
On electronic mailing lists like Librarian.net, dozens of literary blogs and pages on the social-networking site LiveJournal, teachers, authors and school librarians took sides over the book. Librarians from all over the country, including Missoula, Mont.; upstate New York; Central Pennsylvania; and Portland, Ore., weighed in, questioning the role of the librarian when selecting — or censoring, some argued — literature for children.
“This book included what I call a Howard Stern-type shock treatment just to see how far they could push the envelope, but they didn’t have the children in mind,” Dana Nilsson, a teacher and librarian in Durango, Colo., wrote on LM_Net, a mailing list that reaches more than 16,000 school librarians. “How very sad.”
The book has already been banned from school libraries in a handful of states in the South, the West and the Northeast, and librarians in other schools have indicated in the online debate that they may well follow suit. Indeed, the topic has dominated the discussion among librarians since the book was shipped to schools.
Pat Scales, a former chairwoman of the Newbery Award committee, said that declining to stock the book in libraries was nothing short of censorship.
“The people who are reacting to that word are not reading the book as a whole,” she said. “That’s what censors do — they pick out words and don’t look at the total merit of the book.”
If it were any other novel, it probably would have gone unnoticed, unordered and unread. But in the world of children’s books, winning a Newbery is the rough equivalent of being selected as an Oprah’s Book Club title. Libraries and bookstores routinely order two or more copies of each year’s winners, with the books read aloud to children and taught in classrooms.
“The Higher Power of Lucky” was first published in November by Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, accompanied by a modest print run of 10,000. After the announcement of the Newbery on Jan. 22, the publisher quickly ordered another 100,000 copies, which arrived in bookstores, schools and libraries around Feb. 5.
Reached at her home in Los Angeles, Ms. Patron said she was stunned by the objections. The story of the rattlesnake bite, she said, was based on a true incident involving a friend’s dog.
And one of the themes of the book is that Lucky is preparing herself to be a grown-up, Ms. Patron said. Learning about language and body parts, then, is very important to her.
“The word is just so delicious,” Ms. Patron said. “The sound of the word to Lucky is so evocative. It’s one of those words that’s so interesting because of the sound of the word.”
Ms. Patron, who is a public librarian in Los Angeles, said the book was written for children 9 to 12 years old. But some librarians countered that since the heroine of “The Higher Power of Lucky” is 10, children older than that would not be interested in reading it.
“I think it’s a good case of an author not realizing her audience,” said Frederick Muller, a librarian at Halsted Middle School in Newton, N.J. “If I were a third- or fourth-grade teacher, I wouldn’t want to have to explain that.”
Authors of children’s books sometimes sneak in a single touchy word or paragraph, leaving librarians to choose whether to ban an entire book over one offending phrase.
In the case of “Lucky,” some of them take no chances. Wendy Stoll, a librarian at Smyrna Elementary in Louisville, Ky., wrote on the LM_Net mailing list that she would not stock the book. Andrea Koch, the librarian at French Road Elementary School in Brighton, N.Y., said she anticipated angry calls from parents if she ordered it. “I don’t think our teachers, or myself, want to do that vocabulary lesson,” she said in an interview. One librarian who responded to Ms. Nilsson’s posting on LM_Net said only: “Sad to say, I didn’t order it for either of my schools, based on ‘the word.’ ”
Booksellers, too, are watchful for racy content in books they endorse to customers. Carol Chittenden, the owner of Eight Cousins, a bookstore in Falmouth, Mass., said she once horrified a customer with “The Adventures of Blue Avenger” by Norma Howe, a novel aimed at junior high school students. “I remember one time showing the book to a grandmother and enthusing about it,” she said. “There’s a chapter in there that’s very funny and the word ‘condom’ comes up. And of course, she opens the book right to the page that said ‘condom.’ ”
It is not the first time school librarians have squirmed at a book’s content, of course. Some school officials have tried to ban Harry Potter books from schools, saying that they implicitly endorse witchcraft and Satanism. Young adult books by Judy Blume, though decades old, are routinely kept out of school libraries.
Ms. Nilsson, reached at Sunnyside Elementary School in Durango, Colo., said she had heard from dozens of librarians who agreed with her stance. “I don’t want to start an issue about censorship,” she said. “But you won’t find men’s genitalia in quality literature.”
“At least not for children,” she added.
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Edwards blogger resigns
Amanda Marcotte, the controversial blogger hired by John Edwards, has resigned just days after Edwards agreed to keep her on.
If you haven't been following this, I won't go into too much detail, but after the Edwards campaign hired her she was targeted by Catholic League president William Donohue. Follow that link to see what a whacko he is.
She got in some hot water for past inflammatory writings about Catholics on her personal blog. The tamest of them: She almost always refers to Jesus as "Jeebus" - you know, from the Simpsons? Yeah. The best, ickiest, and most incendiary language may be her description of the conception of Jesus. Something about the Lord "filling [Mary] with his hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit." Wooo-eee! That's good material for Sarah Silverman, but just a tad racey for the button-down tone of national politics.
Still, it's sad that we can't criticize a religion like Catholicism as being anti-sex and anti-woman within the context of a political campaign. Mainstream America apparently can't handle a serious debate on that topic, and somehow blowhards like Bill Donahue get legitimacy from the mainstream media. Maybe that's why the debate is best conducted on the uninhibited blog frontier.
Andrew Sullivan has the best take:
Her coarse mockery of others' faith, while perfectly within her right to free speech, is nonetheless a liability for a political campaign. I can see why she quit, and I don't think she has any reason to complain. To be honest, I find the whole idea of bloggers as an integral part of political campaigns a little creepy. When I started blogging, many saw it primarily as a way to challenge those in power - whether in the media or politics or the church or wherever. It was a way to expand the individual's ability to speak and be heard, as a means to deepen scrutiny of the powerful.
That reminds me of a great comment on my video, Citizen Journalists and the Edwards Campaign. At the end of the video, we hop on a private jet with Edwards and I joked that this movie is called Bloggers on a Plane. Bicycle Mark commented, "Get them bloggers OFF the plane and back to critical reporting."
This may be a valuable lesson for political campaigns. Let the passionate and sometimes shrill bloggers remain in the wild, where they can run free and do more good than harm.
(ps - Al Franken, please hire me)
Al Franken for Senate on Feb 14?
Valentine's Day is the last Al Franken Show. There's much speculation he'll also announce his run for the U.S. Senate. I look forward to hearing him, and I hope, the Big Announce.
Here's a video of Franken from St. John's University last year.
The guy's got heart, he loves our men and women in uniform, and he's smarter than his Republican opponent. I agree with Brian Lambert that his public life of comedy will stack up just fine against the secrecy and tragedy of the Bush Years.
In short, Senator Al would kick ass.
By the way, Al, I'd sure like to help you create a web-savvy internet campaign. Call me?
Blogumentary Goes Viral
Check it out! Blogumentary is featured on the Season Two premiere of Veoh's show VIRAL. I have to give props to the editor for making my interview snippet and clips from the film look awfully exciting. Also in this episode, snowmen hunters and beauty tips... not my cup of tea, but I'd never heard of these shows so props to host/producer Sunny Gault for finding video from all corners of the internets. I'm looking forward to their shows from NYC.
In other news...Dan McVicar's Late Nite Mash goes to Roma. Hopefully he's not there for "family business."