Archive for June, 2008

Mon 23 Jun 2008 9:38 pm   //   Posted in: Food & drink, TV commericals


This Cadbury commercial won a Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions advertising festival in France last week:

Mon 23 Jun 2008 8:00 am   //   Posted in: Books, Technology

Recommended: On-demand publishing

Recently I was asked to help update my church‘s member directory. Recalling a bad experience with Olan Mills a few years ago, we decided to go the do-it-yourself route. Two professional photographers who are members of the congregation did the photography. I designed the directory in QuarkXpress. For the printing, I used Lulu is an on-demand Internet-based publisher. You upload a PDF file to their site and then you can order as many copies of the book as you want. Lulu charged about $6 each for our directory – an 8-page full-color letter-sized booklet with a stapled cover, also full color.

There might be cheaper ways to do this, but the speed, quality and ease of Lulu was impressive. I would strongly recommend it to anyone who needs a book printed.

Sun 22 Jun 2008 8:00 am   //   Posted in: Art, Bicycles, Planet earth, Transit

Haunted by ghost bikes

Ghost Bike

You’ve heard of ghost bikes? They’re the work of a street art collective that collects scrap bikes, paints them white, and chains them up on city streets where cyclists have died in traffic accidents. They’re comparable to the wooden crosses you sometimes see by highways. Usually, ghost bikes are accompanied by a sign with the cyclist’s name and some other basic facts (“Killed by SUV”). I’m a longtime bike commuter and support almost any activity that makes the streets safer. Do I have an opinion about ghost bikes? You bet.

  1. Doesn’t work for me as art. Too literal.
  2. Ghost bikes clog our sidewalks with mechanical junk. It’s an ugly way to memorialize someone.
  3. This is not a politically smart way to support cycling. The people installing these bikes are portraying biking as some kind of underdog subculture fraught with danger. The use of street art reinforces the stereotype that the “bike community” is an insular group of self-righteous freegan hipsters.
  4. In fact, bike transportation is and should be mainstream. As one example, around Sunset Park I’ve noticed a lot of new immigrants have begun using bikes to get around. These guys on their Huffy’s work harder than anybody, keep our city running, consume zero gasoline, and don’t give a crap about ghost bikes.

I am a safe biker and have no plans to challenge any bigger vehicles any time soon. However, if one day I get smooshed by a sanitation truck, do not put up a ghost bike for me! I swear, my real ghost will torment you!

Sat 21 Jun 2008 6:34 pm   //   Posted in: Brooklyn

Erie Basin Park opens. Ikea too.

The new Ikea is the biggest and strangest thing to be built in Brooklyn since I moved here. This afternoon I rode my bike down the hill and over the canal to check it out. Seen above is the road in front of Ikea in March (top) and today (bottom).

Traffic is a mess, despite lots of buses and the free ferry. There are more security and police than you’d thought possible. On either side of the Ikea are large lots with signs advertising available real estate. The Red Hook neighborhood is fundamentally different now. It’s now a shopping center.

Also just opened is Erie Basin Park, a vast public space that envelops the Ikea campus on three sides. It makes use of old piers and cranes to commemorate the shipping heritage of this neighborhood. The park has an abundance of benches. The best thing I can say about it is that it looks like an awesome place to skateboard, assuming the cops allow it. Signs say bikes, skateboards and fishing are permitted in designated areas, but it’s unclear which areas those are. I did a lap around the park on my bike and nobody yelled at me. Of course, nobody was there. The Ikea was full and the park was empty.

More photos below.


Sat 21 Jun 2008 5:06 pm   //   Posted in: Music

Free song

The free single on iTunes this week (until Monday) is “Can’t Find the Words” by Karina. You’re going to want to have this song, because it’s perfect for summer. And it’s free, so why not?

Fri 20 Jun 2008 7:37 pm   //   Posted in: Food & drink, Hard times

Even Rafiqi’s food cart is raising prices

Sign at Rafiqi's food cart on Broadway


Fri 20 Jun 2008 12:00 pm   //   Posted in: Failure, Movies

I love a bad review

The Love Guru looks like the worst major movie to be released in a long time. It’s the rare case where the reviews are more inspired and entertaining than the film itself. (I haven’t seen the movie and don’t plan to.) Bad reviews are fun to read, and these did not disappoint. Imagine a poster quoting the critics…

“Antifunny!” –The New York Times
“Anti-entertainment!” – New York Daily News
“Anti-comedy!” – The Washington Post

The film currently has an astonishing 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It has made people forgot that Mike Myers, pre-Shrek, used to be funny. As a reminder, here’s a clip from his last genuinely funny movie, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, which came out in 1997.

Thu 19 Jun 2008 7:39 am   //   Posted in: Stray data

Probably cool things I’m barely informed about

Today there are several excellent-sounding things I want to investigate further, but I have no time. None. So I’m posting these links somewhat blindly, on the hunch that they’ll be good.

  • Japhy links to the a video about a proposal to build a bullet train in California. Yes! Build it! After watching this 10-minute YouTube video, which I haven’t seen, I’m relatively sure you’ll be convinced too!
  • You Suck at Photoshop has returned with new episodes, according to Wired. I’ve never watched a single episode of this online tutorial/comedy sensation, but I imagine it’s a mildly hilarious diversion.
  • Writing in New York, Rex Sorgatz devotes a few thousand words to studying the idea of Microfame. Even thought I haven’t read it, I expect this is a reasonably well-done story that will remind you of many other pretty interesting New York magazine stories.

Wed 18 Jun 2008 7:16 am   //   Posted in: Food & drink, Planet earth

Bottled water is probably killing us somehow

My brother’s fiancée Melanie recently shared a scary idea with me. The topic was bottled water. Some people, she noted, don’t finish all the water in a bottle. They put the cap back on and throw the bottle away with water still in it. I’m sure I’ve done this many times, especially at airports.

Big deal, right? Actually, consider what you’ve done. You’ve entombed precious water in a plastic time capsule that will sit in a landfill and won’t break down for hundreds of years. This water has been removed from the hydrogen cycle. One bottle might be just a drop in a pond. But multiply it by a billion and consider the impact this might have on our environment.

My first reaction was one of deep concern. I shall never again throw away a partially-full, sealed plastic bottle. I will empty the bottle or leave the cap off. It’s the right thing to do for the earth.

My second reaction was to snort at the idea that bottled water habits (already not an especially earth-friendly idea) might actually be upsetting the balance of the entire planet. Ha! Now I will chuckle with sadistic delight each time I toss out a half-full water bottle. Take THAT, hydrogen cycle!!

Tue 17 Jun 2008 4:23 pm   //   Posted in: TV commericals

How to tell a story in 30 seconds

A wonderfully concise Honda commercial: