The Flux announced its second-annual iPod Film Festival, which is sponsored by Small Dog Electronics. This fest is a great way for budding filmmakers to sidestep Hollywood and get their creations out to the public -- at least the public who have video iPods. Films must be 10 minutes or shorter and fit in one of three categories: Indie, Student or the "Kitchen Sink," which is anything else like a music video, comedy skit, etc. Prizes include iPods and a Mac Mini for the best picture. Entry is free and entries are being accepted through March 18. Download the entry form.
At the end of last year (it seems sooo long ago now, doesn't it?), America lost two icons -- one musical, the other political. James Brown died first (and somewhat suddenly) on Christmas Day. America was stunned, saddened and focused on the death of this genius who had one of the biggest impacts on the musical landscape. The next day, headlines screamed that Gerald Ford -- at 93 and who had been sick -- died as well.
As soon as Ford died, the media seemingly lost interest in James Brown and focused completely on funeral arrangements for Ford, interviewing anybody and everybody who knew the onetime half-term president who wasn't even elected (he wasn't even chosen as a VP -- he was sworn in under the terms of the 25th Amendment after Spiro Agnew resigned). Sure, troops were withdrawn from Vietnam during his term, but Ford was also heavily criticized for pardoning Richard Nixon. James Brown influenced countless musicians and singers -- gospel, rock, R&B, soul, funk -- during the last 50 years.
So, two questions:
1) Was the media correct to drop coverage of James Brown and turn its collective attention to Gerald Ford?
2) Which of these men had a bigger impact on the zeitgeist of America?
Chicago-based online T-shirt collective Threadless is going to open its first physical store outside its Ravenswood-neighborhood HQ. The shop, set to open in Lakeview, used to house a leather-goods (read: whips, harnesses, chaps, etc) store. The Sun-Times reported that skinnyCorp, Threadless' parent company, received an undisclosed infusion of cash from New York-based Insight Venture Partners to expand the retail arm of the company and boost worldwide distribution. While the first shop to open will be in Chicago, Threadless, which reportedly claims $20 million in annual sales, there's no word yet on locations of additional stores.
The beauty of Threadless lies within its community focus. The company, founded in 2000 by then-art students Jake Nickell and Jacob DeHart (now 26 and 25, respectively), invites its 400,000-person user base to submit T-shirt designs, which are then voted on by the rest of the community. The shirts then get a limited print run and when they're gone, they're gone.
[via Gapers Block]
Announced in February, a project headed by Nicholas Negropante of the MIT Media Lap, One Laptop Per Child aims to deliver usable technology to the children of the world's poorest nations. Currently there's a massive chasm in regard to worldwide education. OLPC set out to design and create $100 durable laptops to be purchased by governments that will then distribute the computers to children. The machine will have a 500MHz processor and 128MB of DRAM with 500MB of Flash memory, come equipped with four USB ports and wireless broadband that will connect with nearby laptops in the town or village to create a mesh, or local area, network. To sidestep the need for electricity, since many of these small villages may not even have running water, the computer was designed to run on wind-up power.
The current plan is to ship between five and 10 million units by the end of the year to China, Brazil, India, Egypt, Argentina, Nigeria and Thailand. I recently chatted with a spokesman for the organization who told me that 3,500 machines are set to be delivered to launch countries (Argentina, Brazil, Nigeria, Thailand and Libya) in January and February. A minister was selected in each country and will receive the XO machines to distribute to certain children for testing. He added: "Once we are past the launch stage, we will be in a position where we can make the machines more broadly accessible to countries and NGOs."
This morning I heard a story on NPR about the reconstruction of towns and villages devastated by the tsunami two years ago in Indonesia. Some of the homes were poorly built and residents don't want to move in. They fear the walls will come crumbling down and their homes could potentially be swept away again. I also recently read about a product that helps create stronger homes and external surfaces. Grancrete is a spray-on material that's similar to yet stronger than concrete that when applied over inexpensive foam panels (or wood, or anything else that can create a structure -- bamboo?) creates a sound structure that's impervious to water, fire, vermin and termites -- and it's non-toxic. It's a solid, durable material that can be used to build a home in a few hours. At a time when so many people have been dispalced due to natural disasters, war or other factors, this seems like a good, easy, inexpensive solution to the world's lack of good shelter.
[image via Inhabitat]
When you brush your teeth, do you turn off the water? Do you finish all the water in your bottle or toss it out when you've had your fill? Do you ever take the time to think about the fact that for most of the world, running water is a dream?
It's true. We take advantage of the idea that we can go to any faucet, turn it on and get clean running water. About 80 percent of all illness in the world is attributed to unsafe, unclean water that carries parasites and other water-borne disease. But you can help. charity: water is an organization founded by former New York club promoter Scott Harrison to build clean water wells in Ethiopia, Malawi, Uganda and the Central African Republic.
My friends at Flavorpill are helping by asking readers to donate money to help build a well in Ethiopia. By purchasing a virtual bottle of water for $20, you can help build a well that will provide clean drinking water for a village for 15 years. Flavorpill is donating half the cost of a $4,000 well and ask that we pitch in the other half. And if they get more than $2,000, they're going to build more wells. Best thing is that 100 percent of the proceeds go to the project.
So donate now.
It's a big day for Harry Potter fans (including myself):
In the last 10-15 years, we've experienced a proliferation of upscale boutique hotels that cater to our every whim. If you don't have a plasma TV, free Wi-fi, select music and fancy tea in your room then you're not in the right place. If we desire to stay in places that treat us well, why wouldn't our pets? So many of us spend ridiculous money on our dogs already, what's a few extra bucks to pamper them while you're away getting pampered yourself? Stay, which bills itself as a modern dog hotel, is a boutique destination for dogs in Chicago that officially opened on Dec. 18. The 30,000 square-foot facility sits on the edge of the Chicago River's north branch adjacent to a park with trails, trees and wildlife. Like any hotel, bigger rooms come with a higher price, which isn't that high when you consider what you're getting. The Standard, at $40, is a basic space, but if you really want to spoil your pooch, go for the deluxe -- a 160 sq ft all-glass room with a window that overlooks the river. For $75 a night, it comes with bedding, a toy chest, fresh flowers and black and white prints by Keith Carter. But the biggest draw for me is Stay's indoor canine lap pool with swim-in-place currents to help with endurance and muscle strength. Each dog is fitted with her own life vest. Sure, it's a little crazy. Some might say they're just dogs. But would you rather stay at the Peninsula or Rodeway Inn?
With the number of drunk driving accidents and deaths caused by drunk driving rising every year, it's a surprise that services like this haven't sprouted up in cities across the world sooner. When I was in London, I noticed a poster in a bathroom at a pub for ScooterMan, a service that, if you drink too much and you drove to your destination, they'll get you home ... safely. ScooterMan, like LA-based Home James, is a service that utilizes collapsable scooters that fit in the trunk of your car. The idea is that when you're too wasted to drive (which is pretty much whenever you've had 2-3 drinks -- according to a recent billboard I saw that read: "driving buzzed is driving drunk" -- apparently someone dies every 30 minutes as a result of drunk driving) you call this service, which then dispatches one of its drivers to fetch you, who puts the scooter in the back and drives you home. This way, you and your car arrive home in one piece. Sure, it's going to cost you -- but the price of getting home in one piece is seemingly worth it. Just think of all the money you'll save on legal fees when you don't get pulled for a DUI.
When my friend, Grimmy, who works in a fast-passed, high-stress job for Ralph Lauren, quit smoking after nearly 20 years, he naturally gained weight. But, and you must understand that my friend has never minced words nor taken crap from anybody (at least he won't admit to doing so), he was shocked -- shocked! -- at not only how fat he'd gotten, but that nobody seemed to care that he quit his nasty habit. To get back and the world that now looked at him askance -- for he was fat -- Grimmy created a line of simple, straight-forward T-shirts that say: I'm Not Fat. I Quit Smoking.
I don't know that he's lost any of the weight, but at least he has a bunch of XXL T-shirts he can wear to explain what happened. Knowing how creative Grim is, I think he could've done more with the design, but the message is funny as hell.
Just quit smoking? Gaining weight? Get a T-shirt and tell the world to fuck off.