Grand Strand Blogger Meetup

In the spirit of ongoing attempts to crystallize a blogger community here in the Grand Strand, I’m organizing a get together. If you are a blogger, podcaster, videoblogger or interested in any of the above, come and hang out with us. Here are the specifics:

Sunday June 17th at 3 PM, Bummz at 2003 N. Ocean Blvd, Myrtle Beach, SC
Phone number of the joint: 843-916-9111
Google Map to the restaurant

We’ll be at a table outside as close to the beach as we can get. If you are interested in coming, please send me a non-binding RSVP via email just so I can keep you abreast of logistics and make sure we have enough table space reserved. Feel free to forward this information around, tell your friends, tell your neighbors, blog about it yourself. Bloggers now do this kind of thing all the time in Charleston, and we’re as good as those people. Just like they found out in Charleston that when they got together they had a critical mass they didn’t realize existed, let’s try to get the same thing going in our part of the state. Let’s rock!

Spoleto Podcasts

A few years ago, Dan Conover floated the idea of me coming down to Charleston and doing some podcasts from Spoleto. It was an interesting idea, but at the time would have required me not working my consulting gig for a few days to do a job without pay and that just didn’t fly. The other aspect of that is that while I think I’m a good enough interviewer that you can drop me in about any situation and I’ll do a competent job, I don’t really have a wealth of enthusiasm for the festival. I attended a Laurie Anderson show there in 1989 and haven’t been back since. I know a lot of Charlestonians burn for it, but we haven’t even driven the 100 miles to go down there for the festival in the last three years.

So, they arrived at something much better than bringing me in. There are now a pair of podcasts done by knowledgeable and enthusiastic Charlestonians – Spoleto Today and Spoleto Buzz. I listened to a few episodes of Spoleto Today and was pleased to find that my friend Janet Edens is one of the contributors. I haven’t heard the Buzz yet, but I subscribed tonight and will check it out tomorrow. If you have any interest at all in the festival, you can check these out and feed your jones.

Go Chanticleers

It’s been a big weekend for the Coastal Carolina University baseball team. First, they won the Big South title and got the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. That wasn’t so essential, as they were virtually a lock to make it regardless. Depending on the poll, they rank between 7th and 17th in the nation. Still, it’s a good thing to win the conference.

On top of that, they also had their bid to host the regional accepted. They’ll be hosting it at Coastal Federal field, and I might even try to go to a game or two.

Big Weekend

We had a fun day Saturday marrying off our friend Zane. My wife and I each know him independently, her from middle school and me from being his fraternity brother at Georgia Tech. We originally had more ambitious plans for Saturday, which changed to getting coffee at Caribou, showering, and having a quick lunch before changing into finery for the ceremony.

It was a lovely reception and the ceremony they wanted, so who am I to complain? I think Catholic marriage ceremonies are a study in anti-climax. Open with some prayers and hymns, say the vows, seal the deal, then a sermon and communion and 30 minutes of busy work. I’m of the opinion that at “I do”, the music comes up and the couple kisses and hits the door but that’s just me. Perhaps this is the Catholic way of giving a capsule summary of married life and adult life – moments of joy surrounded by boring obligations.

The wedding was at the border of Lake View and Lincoln Park, so there was a lot of driving from the hotel in Bensenville all the way in the city for the ceremony, then back out to the hotel. The reception was at the golf course next door, so that eased the logistics up a lot. We ate and drank and made merry, even dancing a few times. We stayed until nearly the bitter end of the reception, leaving at close to midnight. Overall, it was a fantastic night and a fantastic time. We got to meet new people that we quite liked a lot, see old friends and generally had a nice weekend.

Since our flight was at 8 AM this morning, we were out of the hotel by 6 AM. Luckily, this was all close to O’Hare so we could just go up Manheim straight to rental car return and be done with it. If it weren’t for the pain of trying to find a gas station, that would have been perfect. The flight was uneventful and I even got some work done on the plane. Part of why we left so early was to catch the one direct flight from O’Hare to Myrtle Beach, so we were home and had lunch reasonably early. After that we watched last weeks Sopranos then napped and/or played poker in front of the Braves game. It’s still a sleepy, logey day around here. If we feel our oats we might even go for a walk. That’s about as big as this day is going to get, and tomorrow might be a lot like this minus the plane flight.


The plan last night had been for after the rehearsal dinner for the groom to meet up with his friends at McNally’ Pub in Elmhurst. My buddy Coop lives right near there, so we had dinner there and met up with him before the wedding party arrived. Mmmm, bangers and mash! I’d never been in Elmhurst before, but it’s a nice little place. It reminds me of Virgina-Highlands in Atlanta, with a high density of eateries and drinkeries in a compact and walkable area. It was good to see Coop and to hang out.

My original plan was to try to fit in some Chicago touristy stuff in this weekend, but in fact we have cut the plan back to bare bones. We’re doing even a fraction of the stuff we have talked about, choosing instead to relax and hang out more. My fatal flaw is always overbooking the time with activities, and not chilling enough. I’m glad I was dialed down here before. It seems more appropriate. Now it’s on to a simple lunch shortly and then wedding and reception. The groom was talking about music selections last night. I thought about asking him if their DJ was able to come up with “Pac Man Fever” but I never found a good time to slip that stupid joke in.

Lesbian Characters You Should Know

Here’s a list of 13 lesbian and bisexual fictional characters worth reading about from After Ellen. What is significant to me is that my friend Nicola made the list with her character Aud Torvingen. New book! I went to the Myrtle Beach B&N to buy it for this present trip and they didn’t have it. I guess I’ll have to give my money to Amazon after all. I tried to shop locally with no success.

And to bring in a note from the previous post, this simple list of 13 items is spread across three pages. Uhhm, yeah, thanks for that.

Spread It Out

Doc Searls points out a phenomenon I notice a lot and that always irks me. It’s sites that lay out their articles such that a simple one spans multiple pages. Those intolerable and endless “Top X Moments in Y History” crap, the 1500 word newspaper article split into 5 300 word pages. It’s pretty baldfaced obvious that these are ploys to create more ad impressions from the same number of people visiting and it really sucks. I’ve stopped following links to any of those lists from Large Hearted Boy, because they always suck and it is always obvious I’m being worked and it’s just never worth it.

I see it even in the web UIs of products. I noticed when Odeo was talking about the number of impressions they had, I always figured part of it had to do with how non-Ajaxy their interface was. To do anything substantial took several page loads which probably inflated that number. Ajax does throw a wrench in the impression game by allowing lots of work to be done off a small number of page loads. I’ve hit the point where I’m highly impatient that with any site that makes me spent extra time loading and navigating and dealing with them when it is obvious that upping the impressions is the goal.

Fun For the Weekend

We’re here in Chicagoland (Bensenville, specifically) for a wedding. In the year we lived up here, I had never visited this part of the city. It seems very well-groomed and suburban right here, in a hotel right by the golf course where the reception will be held. We’ve already ran into the groom in the lobby, and now that the busy work is done I think we’ll be lounging by the pool and chilling. On the flight up, I watched some Tiki Bar TV and Rocketboom and read Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. Good stuff.

Andrew Keen, Welcome to the Outrage Farm

I’ve been hearing a little about Andrew Keen’s new book that basically tells all of us in citizen media that we suck. Apparently Keen’s Big Message is that blogs are irrelevant and books, TV and newspaper are important. He published a book to that effect and also has, ummmm, ironically enough, a blog with the same message. I guess the message is important in book form but irrelevant in blog form, or perhaps he has a special dispensation that allows his blog to be important while all others are not.

I ran across one of Keen’s posts about debating Jeff Jarvis. I’ve had it open in Firefox for over a week but I hadn’t blogged it out of a vague sense of unease that Scoble captured perfectly. I disagree so fundamentally with what Keen is saying, and moreover it seems like he is deliberately being a dick in how he says it. However, it also seems like arguing with him and calling him out is exactly what he wants. Note that on the sidebar of his blogs at the time of this posting, almost every personal appearance scheduled is a “debate” rather than just a book signing. Apparently, picking fights is the tent pole of his promotional machine which supports my thesis. Just like an Ann Coulter or a Michelle Malkin or a John C. Dvorak that deliberately and cynically farms controversy in order to gain attention, Keen seems to want to be at the center of a storm. Just as long as his name and the title of his book get blown about, bring on the gale force winds. I’m such a sucker for that play, it almost always gets me. I’ll give myself the luxury of one paragraph and then never again.

Keen is a courageous slayer of straw men. You can tell he is a big thinker because he refers to new media as “new meeja”. You can’t be an effective outrage farmer without dismissive nicknames. His core argument that new media is inconsequential pretty much fails out of the box for me, since in my own life it has consequence. As a producer it has brought me much joy and connection with people I enjoy. Having not five days ago had a coffee and conversation with a listener who was quoting back to me ideas I’ve expressed in my podcast, that’s a consequence to me and also to him. Almost three years into this podcast era, I don’t listen to NPR in my car anymore. After all the time spent listening to authentic voices, I can’t listen to the archness of All Things Considered or even This American Life. In fact, if my MP3 player runs out of juice, I usually just switch off the radio. Nowadays I prefer silence to NPR. Yes, Mr. Keen, I turn off the professionally produced in favor of rougher media on topics more of interest in me. That’s a consequence. You can make it your life’s work to tell me that I shouldn’t enjoy the things I do but that seems like a wasted life to me. Trying to elevate your personal tastes to that of moral truth and cultural standard is ridiculous.

And with that, I promise you the readers and myself that I will never again throw Brer Keen in the briar patch by arguing with his points. Instead, I’ll disprove them empirically by the choices I make in my life.

And to Jeff Jarvis, don’t debate Keen. He’s the troubled kid who pisses on the coffee table to get attention. It doesn’t matter what happens in such a debate, he wins when you show up. For someone so down on bloggers, he is working hard to get legitimized by them, isn’t he?

Uncle Warren on the Day Job

I forgot to blog this last month, but I listened a podcast that was directly responding to a lot of my recent discussion about day jobs and such. Warren Bluhm kindly cited me as a component in his recent coming to peace with having a day job and a separate creative life. That makes me feel good. Perhaps I’m not just spewing nonsense. Or, if I am, I was able to convince Uncle Warren to the contrary.

People seem to think my goal should be to podcast full-time. I don’t see any reason why podcasting full-time would be better than any other similarly pleasant job. When you have enough wealth accumulated to not require a day job, that is one thing. Shy of that, taking my avocation and forcing me to have to do it whether I want to or not to keep the bills paid doesn’t seem like much of a kindness to me.

Thanks Warren, for taking my discussion seriously.

Orycon Interview Table of Contents

Just as a convenience for the Portland SF fans, I thought I’d prepare this summary article for the Orycon Interview shows. As I publish new shows, I’ll keep this post updated with fresh pointers. All the skiffy interview goodness you could want in one place!

Achewood Gets All Heavy On Us

Today’s Achewood comic strip not only wraps up the current arc, but in the last few panels gets philosphical about the nature of happiness. Since that’s a topic high in my thoughts lately, I thought I point out the money shots. I think everything in the entire Achewood run up to today is worth reading. It’s the only webcomic I follow regularly.

J on Money and Your Creative Work

J Wynia is someone with whom I have a constructive blog/podcast crosstalk. His most recent post on using your earnings from creative work to fund retirement is spot on with what I’ve been thinking lately. He also is exactly correct on my motivations for keeping things the way they are with the podcast as a sidelight and working a day job.

Fifteen years ago I would have thought the height of life would be to have no day job and be a writer and creative person working for myself. Nowadays, I think the setup I have is pretty darned good and I don’t want it a different way. My job pays well, lets me spend my days around people I like, provides enough challenge to keep it interesting and gives me benefits to boot. I don’t begrudge them that time during the weekdays.

I think J does an excellent job of deconstructing why people think getting rid of the day job is so fabulous, a lot of which has to do with unrealistic romantic fantasies about how life would be. If working at Long John Silvers was good enough for Wayne Coyne during the first decade of the Flaming Lips working an enjoyable software job should be good enough for me.

I also like J’s money management tips, which I think are sensible in general. In my case, I’ve already got fully funded 401Ks and IRAs, and we already have almost no debt. We do still have a car payment now, which will be paid off in a few months. It’s a four year used car note, but we’ll have closed it out in under two years. At that point, we will again have zero consumer debt and only the mortgage will remain.

Check out his post. I’m not pointing out every single thing I think he’s right about, because it’s basically the whole thing. J is on it, boyeee!

EGC Clambake for May 20, 2007 – “Orycon Interviews Part Three”

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for May 20, 2007.

This is the third of the Orycon episodes. I play music from Tom Smith and have interviews with Debbie Cross, Jerry and Kathy Oltion, and representatives from Rose City Costumers, Camarilla, and Ansalon MUD.

You can subscribe to this podcast feed via RSS.

To sponsor the show, contact BackBeat Media. Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package. This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5.

Links mentioned in this episode:


Old Bones Creak Hard

Yesterday was a surprisingly big day for me. After dropping my wife at the airport at the wonderful time of 5 AM, I came home and tried to go back to sleep. That didn’t work, so I played poker for a while and did some audio editing for upcoming interview podcasts. In the early afternoon, I went to Port City Java and hung out with Robert Harvey, the guy who did the silk screen blank CDs at Podcamp NYC.

After that, I went down the street to Coastal Carolina U and played volleyball with some of my coworkers. I hadn’t played volleyball in probably 10 years, maybe longer. I did have a blast, and tried my best to go for it. For a brief moment when I was 20 and in shape, I thought about pursuing beach volleyball as a sport. It’s not that I was good, it’s that I thought it would be a fun thing to do and would make me popular with the ladies. It was cool to go play barefoot in the sand, diving for balls and really trying to make the plays. The first few games, I was terrible but the longer we played the better I got. The big problem was the wind factor. My current state of cardiovascular health is lacking, and that became evident very quickly. Every time the ball would roll off the court and someone had to chase it, I was grateful for the extra 30 seconds of rest. I was at least 10 years older than the next oldest person out there, and today I really feel it. It was fun though, and I’ve been riding the exercise bike every day. Maybe by next time I will be a little better conditioned. And maybe there will be more older guys in the mix to keep the pace manageable.

After that, I decided to go to the beach. Rather than avoid the biker traffic, I embraced it. I was able to go Highway 501 to the 17 Bypass, down 21st Street all the way to that area I always go and easily park on the street. The traffic the whole way was really no worse than any average Saturday, and maybe even less than some big summer days. I walked on the beach, and hung out at Bummz for a beer and a burger and chit-chatted a little with some bikers. After that, I got a Starbucks latte and played Galaga in the ice cream shop next door while I burned off my beer for the drive home.

I spent a little while sitting on Ocean Boulevard watching bikes roar past. I had the CVS camcorder with me, and decided to set it up and just shoot raw video of bikes driving. I have two long continuous shots, and I’m thinking about just putting titles on them and posting them to my vlog feed otherwise unedited. While my video was shooting, I talked a little with some other bikers out on the street. One of them was talking to his buddy about these Yamahas (I think) that are now being styled more like Harleys. I told them I was surprised that maybe 20% of the bikes I was seeing riding around were Japanese, and that the stereotype is that the Harley guys hate them. He said that in his opinion that was just a stereotype and didn’t reflect reality. It made me think that my earlier comments about the Harley riders being older because of the price is probably incomplete, because the other aspect is that being older they are more about a different experience. Being able to go from 0 to 150 MPH in 12 seconds isn’t their primary consideration, and the experience they want is not best served by a Ninja.

All told, it was a fun day. I had certain productivity levels set for myself to achieve in this week alone in the house, and I didn’t really move that ball down the field at all yesterday. It was a lot of fun though and helped recharge the batteries. Today, I’m all business. Except for the cookout I’m going to later. After I get back, it will be all business again. Expect a podcast later today, maybe even a vlog too. Although I won’t post more than one a day, I might even do several of each tonight. Crazy!

How Jonathan Coulton Did It

Jonathan Coulton has a long post relating the case study of how he became an internet buzzworthy artist with an income. He very kindly name checks me in it. I’m pretty sure the timetable is slightly different, in that I played his “Dance Soterios Johnson Dance” in an EGC episode the day after I found it in a Little Gray Book show on the PRX feed. In fact, I played it straight from the episode, reblogging it but in audio. I do believe that was before any Coulton was played on the Daily Source Code. I’m pretty sure my interview with him was his first in a podcast as well. Not trying to pull rank or anything, just make sure people see the flag of EGCistan on the top of that mountain.

I think his post should be required reading for anyone trying to make money from music using the internet as the backbone. I particularly like his conclusions:

I wish I could say it went exactly as planned, but the truth is there was no plan. I just knew that many of the people who heard my music liked it, and I imagined that it must be somehow possible to make a living as an independent artist, letting the internet to take care of a lot of the work for you. It was an optimistic assumption, and one based largely on laziness and wishful thinking, but it turns out to be true.

I’ve been trading emails with him the last few days, where I mentioned a biscuit-headed crazy idea I’ve been kicking around how writers could make extra money while giving away their work. I’ll try to blog that this weekend. For now, check out Coulton lay out the story of His Life On The Intarweb and glory in the joyful weirdness of it all.

La Cage Aux Folles

Last night we went to see the local Theatre of the Republic’s production of La Cage Aux Folles. I’ve been impressed by the ambition of both TOR and the Coastal Carolina theater department lately. They are not shying away from lavish productions or controversial material. You’d think this area would lean towards the stodgy, but the only two plays we’ve seen at TOR were both pretty risque.

The show was quite good, spectacular for an amateur effort. There were a few burbles here and there but nothing to derail the moment. It was funny for me, because the IT guy where I work had a part in it. Because we bought tickets very late I was sitting in the front row, farthest right chair, right next to the stage steps. The actors did a lot of walking out into the audience, either down the aisles or between the front row and the stage. Whenever they did, I had to pull my legs in. I didn’t want to be the guy that tripped Zaza. Towards the end when the melee in the restaurant happens, the actors scatter in all directions. The guy playing the right wing politician ran down those stairs, leaned into my face and yelled “What are you doing here?” and then ran off. It was hilarious. My wife and I laughed for the next five minutes regardless of what was happening on stage.

In the rest room during intermission, I caught a funny moment of small town life. Two older guys (we were about the youngest people at the show) were talking about the lead performer, who is also the executive director of the theater. “He sure does make an ugly woman” the first one said. “Are you kidding me?” the second replied. “He makes an ugly man! He’s a nice guy and all, but let’s be reasonable.” Now hear that exchange in thick blue blood southern accents, and the hilarity is that much more.

It’s a good show. I recommend it. They’ve added a few extra shows at the end of the run, so if you are in the Grand Strand area check it out. It’s an interesting choice to schedule during bike week, but I imagine those guys were probably not in the market for a play in Conway anyway. Counter-programming, as it were.

Falwell Fallen

Jerry Falwell died today. There is only one possible interpretation of this event – God is so upset with the homosexuals and the ACLU that he killed Falwell. Falwell himself taught us that all disasters are evidence that his political enemies have angered God, and that God will take that anger out on innocents. Now that anger has extended even to Falwell himself.

I thank the Reverend Falwell for getting me to appreciate the interpretation of God as a celestial mafioso. He’s fun to be around when things are good, but when it all turns sour the most convenient person will get whacked just for being there. This is brilliant theology, combining America’s two great loves – Jesus and the Sopranos. What a shame Reverend Falwell will not be able to share this sort of brilliance with us anymore. Maybe if he’s really a good boy up in heaven, God will let Jerry steer the next hurricane into a city full of people that he most wants to kill.

My Friends Write Books

Two of my best friends in the world are a couple, both are writers and both of them have brand new books out now or very soon. Kelley Eskridge has her story collection Dangerous Space out shortly from Aqueduct Press. It’s not too soon to put in your order. Her debut novel Solitaire was one of my favorite book of the decade, so she is a strong bad-assed writer.

Nicola Griffith’s new novel Always is already out from Riverhead. My wife and I were readers for chemical and scientific accuracy for her novel Slow River which went on to win big awards. After a few science fiction novels, she shifted gears to the Aud Torvingen series, of which this new novel is the third. They are not exactly mystery per se, but more tough novels of a hard woman making hard choices. I really love the books and am looking forward to reading Always. Buy both books, friends. You’ll be glad that you did.