I was watching Funny Face last night and realized I had completely forgotten about this Gap commercial that uses Audrey Hepburn’s famous dance scene for their Back in Black campaign.

Eight years later, I still remember this spot having a distinct visual impact on me at the time—the soundtrack, the iconic scene pulled out of context, isolating Hepburn’s dancing. I still love it.

Lifehacker interviewed Ira Glass about the tools he uses to get his work done. The actual talk about tools is mostly what you’d expect a public radio host to use but the interview takes a really interesting turn about halfway through when Ira outlines his process of organizing hours of interview tape into narrative structure:


  When I come out of an interview, I jot down the things I remember as being my favorite moments. For an hour-long interview usually it’s just four or five moments, but if out I’m reporting all day, I’ll spend over an hour at night typing out every favorite thing that happened. This is handier than you might think. Often this short list of favorite things will provide the backbone to the structure to my story.
  
  Then I transcribe the tape or have it transcribed by someone. Getting every word right isn’t as important as having something on paper for each sentence that’s been said, because to make radio stories, you edit by the sentence. For some reason in the radio biz we don’t call these transcripts, we call them tape logs.
  
  Then I print out the log and mark it up. Every possible quote I might use, I write a letter next to, A, B, C, etc. As I do this, on a single piece of paper, I make a list for myself of the quotes. So when I’m done, there’s not just the tape log, there’s a piece of paper with tiny handwriting on it, listing the quotes “A - he describes the old house, B - what it was like the moment he came home, C - his sister warned him,” etc. Any quote that’s especially promising gets an asterisk. Any quote I’m sure I cannot tell the story without gets two asterisks.
  
  The point of this is that it gets all this inchoate material—the sound you’ve gathered—into a form where you can see it all on one page. You see all your options. It’s in a form where your brain can start to organize it. Also, writing the list sort of inserts all the quotes into quick-access RAM memory in your head in a helpful way. I find that the important first step to writing anything or editing anything (half of my day each day is editing) is just getting the possible building blocks of the story into your head so you can start thinking about how to manipulate it and cut it and move it.


I like how Ira take audio tape—something that is strictly sound and turns it into something visual to help organize it and get it back into an audible form. It reminds me a bit of how Rob Giampietro writes using two TextEdit windows—one for quotes, snippets of text, sentences he likes and the other to start organizing it all, fill in missing pieces, and style it.

Lifehacker interviewed Ira Glass about the tools he uses to get his work done. The actual talk about tools is mostly what you’d expect a public radio host to use but the interview takes a really interesting turn about halfway through when Ira outlines his process of organizing hours of interview tape into narrative structure:

When I come out of an interview, I jot down the things I remember as being my favorite moments. For an hour-long interview usually it’s just four or five moments, but if out I’m reporting all day, I’ll spend over an hour at night typing out every favorite thing that happened. This is handier than you might think. Often this short list of favorite things will provide the backbone to the structure to my story.

Then I transcribe the tape or have it transcribed by someone. Getting every word right isn’t as important as having something on paper for each sentence that’s been said, because to make radio stories, you edit by the sentence. For some reason in the radio biz we don’t call these transcripts, we call them tape logs.

Then I print out the log and mark it up. Every possible quote I might use, I write a letter next to, A, B, C, etc. As I do this, on a single piece of paper, I make a list for myself of the quotes. So when I’m done, there’s not just the tape log, there’s a piece of paper with tiny handwriting on it, listing the quotes “A - he describes the old house, B - what it was like the moment he came home, C - his sister warned him,” etc. Any quote that’s especially promising gets an asterisk. Any quote I’m sure I cannot tell the story without gets two asterisks.

The point of this is that it gets all this inchoate material—the sound you’ve gathered—into a form where you can see it all on one page. You see all your options. It’s in a form where your brain can start to organize it. Also, writing the list sort of inserts all the quotes into quick-access RAM memory in your head in a helpful way. I find that the important first step to writing anything or editing anything (half of my day each day is editing) is just getting the possible building blocks of the story into your head so you can start thinking about how to manipulate it and cut it and move it.

I like how Ira take audio tape—something that is strictly sound and turns it into something visual to help organize it and get it back into an audible form. It reminds me a bit of how Rob Giampietro writes using two TextEdit windows—one for quotes, snippets of text, sentences he likes and the other to start organizing it all, fill in missing pieces, and style it.

“For writers, this is all such a useful reminder. Yes, move around in a structure. But also float out of that structure. “Goodnight nobody” is an author’s inspired moment that is inexplicable and moving and creates an unknown that lingers. How wonderful that this oddly compassionate moment, where even nobody gets a good night, shows up in the picture book that is the most popular! There is no template, ever. When writing, how do we allow those moments of impulse, of surprise? How do we not censor that kind of leap? (I’d argue for following tangents — for not feeling bound to the topic at hand.) And when to end a story or poem or novel or essay? It’s one of the most common questions at readings: “How do you know when it’s done?””

We just posted the latest episode of the Sway podcast and I think it’s my favorite so far. Rory and I spend the entire episode talking about identity design, a topic that I’m endlessly fascinated by, and specifically two recent logo redesigns: Cooper Hewitt and The Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Episode 9: It doesn’t have a penguin; it doesn’t have randomness; and it doesn’t have a house

In this episode, we critique the new identities for Cooper Hewitt and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, both designed by Pentagram, and the growing trend of designing evolving logo systems. Looking back and looking ahead, we speculate about the future of the identity design and remember some of our favorite logos of recent years. This all wraps up with a debate on clever versus smart work and what type of work we want to do.

Like I said, this one feels like a good one. Have a listen and I hope you enjoy.

Love Me Better, Kiss Me Back – A Summer Mix

I’m pleased to release my Summer 2014 mix, Love Me Better, Kiss Me Back. I’ve been spinning these eighteen songs quite a bit as the weather has gotten warmer and I continually find myself dancing and humming along with each of them. I hope you like it.

You can download it here or stream it on Rdio.

Here’s the tracklisting:

  1. The Mother We Share - CHVRCHES
  2. What Death Leaves Behind - Los Campesinos!
  3. Don’t Blink - Relient K
  4. Brill Bruisers - The New Pornographers
  5. Holding On for Life - Broken Bells
  6. Blitzkrieg Bop - Ramones
  7. That’ll Be The Day - Buddy Holly
  8. This Summer - Superchunk
  9. Fever - The Black Keys
  10. Everlasting Arms - Vampire Weekend
  11. Zigzagging Toward the Light - Conor Oberst
  12. Bittersweet Genesis for Him AND Her - Kishi Bashi
  13. Sister Wife - Alex Winston
  14. Repeating Motion - RAC
  15. I’m On Fire - Nico Vega
  16. Shadows - Childish Gambino
  17. Love is Greed - Passion Pit
  18. War Zone - Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
“Your take on things is what is either going to make you somebody we talk about or no. You have to have a take on shit. It’s got to be specific and engaging. We’re all standing on the shoulders of what other people have done. But you’re supposed to take that and add your own sauce. It can be intimidating, believe me.”
Just one of many great bits from this Esquire interview with Steven Soderbergh. Read the whole thing—he’s a creative hero of mine and there’s loads of insight into his thinking in this one.

Portraits

“They called their idea the “politique des auteurs,” the “author policy,” but it’s neither a policy nor, as its American acolyte Andrew Sarris said, a theory. It’s an account of an experience. Whether Hawks made a Western or a screwball comedy, whether Hitchcock made a glossily romantic thriller or a gritty true-crime drama, whether Minnelli made a backstage musical or a melodrama involving a mental institution, the critics recognized something more important than patterns of images or habits of performance; they recognized a detailed, complex, and original worldview, along with the integrated style of images, acting, dialogue, and tone that embodied it. They got the same kind of experience watching a movie such as “Strangers on a Train,” “The Big Sleep,” or “Voyage to Italy” as they got from reading a classic novel or listening to classical music or modern jazz. The filmed images were of the visible world, but they conveyed, as if through secret codes, the fullness of inner worlds.”
“For centuries, the myth of the lone genius has towered over us, its shadow obscuring the way creative work really gets done. The attempts to pick apart the Lennon-McCartney partnership reveal just how misleading that myth can be, because John and Paul were so obviously more creative as a pair than as individuals, even if at times they appeared to work in opposition to each other. The lone-genius myth prevents us from grappling with a series of paradoxes about creative pairs: that distance doesn’t impede intimacy, and is often a crucial ingredient of it; that competition and collaboration are often entwined. Only when we explore this terrain can we grasp how such pairs as Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, William and Dorothy Wordsworth, and Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy all managed to do such creative work. The essence of their achievements, it turns out, was relational. If that seems far-fetched, it’s because our cultural obsession with the individual has obscured the power of the creative pair.”

The Power of Two by Joshua Wolf Shenk

The Atlantic excerpts Shenk’s book of the same title on creative partnerships and this essay on The Beatles is full of good bits.

I wrote about collaboration a long time ago and I went to link to that essay, realized I opened it with another essay on Lennon and McCartney from Shenk. Forgot all about it.