Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

The Dude abides in Salem

August 8, 2010

The dude sitting next to me gets it.

He has watched The Big Lebowski 15-20 times already (his estimation) and is talking along with the movie, shouting out at the right parts, anticipating our audience cues, loving every minute of the first-ever live, interactive Big Lebowski movie spectacle.

I’m the gutter ball.  Taking a cult classic and experiencing it interactively can be fun, but for me, it’s a little awkward, since I have only seen this movie in snippets while it was playing at parties about ten years ago.

I can’t say I didn’t get the memo. When we arrived at High Street Cinema, we were handed a bag, a ticket with a rug on the back (stolen in the movie), and a handful of goodies and props to use at strategic points of the film.

  • Mustaches – to wear during any Sam Elliott scene
  • Badges – to wear when a police officer is in the shot
  • Sunglasses – to wear whenever the Dude is wearing them
  • A Rug Ticket – to hold up during the rug theft scene.
  • Bowling score cards – to hide behind and peek over during the Over the Line scene
  • Pretzels – to eat during the bar scene (yum! not enough!)
  • Bell – to ring when Walter throws the ringers from the car
  • Beaver picture – to throw into the air when Maude talks about movies
  • Leaf – to flick and dance with during the performance art scene
  • Larry’s homework – to shake during the Larry’s Living Room scene
  • Candy – to eat whenever

In all, a brilliant and inspired adventure. But I am always just a little behind —  a leaf late, a bowling score card short.

This, I think, is the challenge of taking something that is already out there in the culture (rabid fanboy obsession with The Big Lebowski) and taking it to the next step (mashing it up a la Rocky Horror Picture Show). There will always be curious people like me who go to a movie to watch a movie. The real experience starts when you have retained the kind of muscle memory necessary to interact with the film.

Throughout the movie, Culture Shock Community Project, who put on the event, had a crew of live actors performing the movie in the aisles and below the screen. I invite Ryan Rogers to explain in the comments section here how it is possible to find someone in Salem who:

1). looks like the Dude
2). has the Dude’s entire wardrobe

Word on the street is that this is just the first showing — and the first adaptation of an interactive film — to be launched in Salem. Next on the docket? The Princess Bride, which I have seen 20+ times and which I am actually in wuv with.

Wuv, twue wuv, fowever and ever…

Gotta start drop-kicking those R.O.U.S’s.


Lessons learned from blogging class, vol. 2

July 20, 2010

Every teacher will tell you that one of the boons of the profession is the vitality of the classroom.

You can have a real clunker of a class, with disinterested students and hours that feel like days, and then you can have a class that just bubbles with energy and enthusiasm.

The latter kind of class really sustains me. I leave them boiling over with might. (Then I go home and try to get to sleep when I really should have used that mojo to just keep working…)

I’ve had two of those mighty classes now at Clockworks Cafe, and that has everything to do with the excitement that people in this community have about blogging, whatever their current knowledge or abilities with the medium.

Our first free class there became an exercise in the limits pushed by the new journalism as we all struggled with the presence of one silent camera (thanks, David!).

This last one? Well, this one was all about what happens when you put your name behind what you say.

What does it mean to blog as a person and not as an anonymous entity?

One of the students in my class was interested in writing a blog to share her political views, since she had already accumulated quite a few readers of her opinions through the email list that she was serving. This student was intent on staying anonymous to protect herself from the evil whispers of her neighbors and her fellow Salemites.

My response? Don’t do it. If you can’t put your name behind what you say, then don’t say it in a forum that everybody in the world could possibly have access to (disregarding the digital divide).

I’ve paid the price for my comments in a very real way before. Months ago I made some snarky comments about the closing of the scrapbook store on Hawthorne Boulevard. I don’t hate scrapbooking per se, I just hate the idea that you have to buy a bunch of Leeza Gibbons junk to scrapbook. (For the record, I have three from my days living in Germany).

Then one day I was hanging out near the dessert case at Christo’s, holding my baby in a sling, when I was approached by a woman who pretty much told me off for being so mean.

“Those people lost their livelihood!” she said.

“It’s just an opinion,” I told her.

She was actually pretty nice about it. (Strangely, she thought she had read the comments in the local paper. That’s another lesson in blogging. If your site looks good, people might think you’re a legitimate news organization…).

But back to the idea of anonymity. What bothered me most about my student’s desire to go anonymous was her fear that her comments on her blog, if connected to her name, might affect her children and how they are received in Salem.

So my answer to her is this. If you want a blog to serve an audience of people who already know you and your opinion, sure, run an anonymous blog. But if you want a successful blog that engages people who don’t agree with you as well as the ones that do, readers who would likely refuse to have anything to do with text that might as well have been written by a random Internet troll (and this is most readers), then put your name where you mouth is.

And then be prepared to stick your foot in it.

Next session of free classes at Clockworks

July 1, 2010

Mark your calendars. Clockworks Cafe has put out its roster of classes (PDF) for its free summer session.

I’ve had a lot of interest in my blogging class — we’ll be doing the same intro to blogging at the cafe on July 12 at 6:00 p.m.

See you there!

Just to be clear, I won’t be there to walk you through the nitty gritty of working with WordPress or blogger. This class is all about engaging an audience and conceiving a successful blog project. If there is enough interest, I’ll likely be offering a four-week class on the same subject next fall (for a fee, of course).

Now that I’m done with self-promotion, time to rant. I’ve been hearing through some sources that some of these free classes have been woefully under-attended.

How under-attended?

Some classes have had zero people show up.


Now, you can look at this a few ways. You could blame the gorgeous sunny weather for enticing people to barbecues and late days at the pool with the kids. You could say you didn’t know — but then, if you’re reading this, you probably did. You could also guess that in the marketplace of ideas, not all of the classes are as in-demand as others.

Or, you could be as cynical and say, as we heard last night, “That place might actually be too cool to fly in Salem.”

So I’d like to suggest something. If there is something you want to learn — say, SEO, from Rob McGuire! — get in touch with the people at Clockworks and let them know where your interest lies. That way, the class offerings can be more market-driven and we can have a packed cultural center.

In other words, Blogging: Yes! Kazoos… maybe not?

Lots of expertise in Salem, but there’s no need to be an autodidact.

What I learned from my own Salem blogging class

June 22, 2010

The drive to become better at what you do is an amazing thing.

 Take the free blogging class I offered yesterday at Clockworks Cafe and Cultural Center. I went into it hoping that it wouldn’t fall completely flat and I left feeling the amazing power of being surrounded by people intent on focusing and developing their craft.

If you offer a free blogging class, chances are good that some already excellent bloggers are going to show up. Indeed, the room was filled to capacity (read: everyone got a chair) by people who have much to teach ME:

Jessica Ramey of Northwest Nest
Rob McGuire (once Salem’s top Tweeter until he closed his account, who knows enough about WordPress to identify my blog design by name)
Salem Man of Eatsalem and Salemites fame
Christy Hey (okay, not yet blogging, but she teaches music for tots!)
K. Williams Brown, the Statesman Journal’s oh-so-adorble entertainment columnist

We also had a great showing among people who are active on Twitter and Facebook but who have been looking for the right project to turn into a blog. Lots of would-be writers looking to make the leap towards self-publication in the blog form.

I think it went pretty well, but I’ll have to make it explicit that my class is a blog WRITING class and that we won’t be getting into the specifics of setting up a blog, making a post, etc., at least from the technical side of things. I’ll be giving the same class on July 12 at 6:00 p.m. at Clockworks.

Finally, I’ll leave you with an image: Me,  getting hoodooed by a guy with a mini production studio who sets his stuff up right next to me and announces that he’ll be recording the free class for his website. 

How can you say no don’t record me in a course focused on citizen journalism empowerment and new media creation? Sigh. Kind of impressed by the boldness of the enterprise, but it really does challange the intimacy of a setting…

My column cut from Salem Weekly

June 18, 2010

Here’s some news for anyone who reads my column in the Salem Every-0ther-Weekly. My column, Desperately Seeking Salem, has been cut from the paper. I got the message this afternoon from the paper’s new editor, Shawn Estes, who replaced Eric Howald, the guy who turned the paper around and brought me on last year.

I wish I could say that after much discussion, I have decided to stop doing the column, but that just isn’t the case.  As Shawn told me this afternoon, it just doesn’t fit with the current direction of the Every-other-Weekly.

Gotta say I completely agree with that.

For those of you who have read and loved the column, thank you. For my trolls, I love you, too! Thanks for being the bees in my bonnet!

It was a good run.

With no Salem Every-other-weekly column to write, I can write more for the blog. I guess it’s time to start taking ads.

UPDATE: Added an old Emily: Angry! pic for good measure. No worries, I’m not angry. I’d like to announce that I’m spending more time with my family (as if anyone can spend any more time with family when she’s at home with a 5-month-old).

Take my blogging course at C4 Academy

June 16, 2010

Hot off the presses: the C4 Academy downtown at Clockworks Cafe and Cultural Center just published its first-ever  Brochure of classes. Among the list of classes you’ll find there — all of which are free to the community in June and July — is a blogging basics course by yours truly.

A blog is just a vomitorium for navel-gazers and diarists with a penchant to overshare, right? Well, sometimes. Hundreds of millions of blogs have been launched. Very few survive in perpetuity (if that’s even possible).

This course is one for would-be writers interested in the blog form.

I’m not going to teach you how to set up a blog on WordPress or blogger in my class; it’s not really about the technical aspects of blogging. But I will teach you how to write a blog and craft a message through online media.

Blogging basics is for people with a story to tell, perhaps a product to sell,  looking for way to do it well.  I’m beta testing this course here in Salem before I pitch it to my colleagues at the University of Oregon, where I teach magazine writing, so you can bet it will be a step above your average free course.

Questions? Email me at Interest? I’ll see you there!

Update: Some have been asking when the course is taking place. I am offering the same intro course on June 21 and July 12 at 6:00 p.m. at Clockworks Cafe.

Statesman Journal’s Best Of’s – Where the Masses Get it Wrong

May 3, 2010

It’s that time of year again, folks. It’s time to furrow your brow and shake your fist and cluck incredulously at how the public in Salem so often gets many of its own Best-of’s wrong. Say what you will, James Surowiecki, about the Wisdom of Crowds, but there are areas in our lives where it really helps to have a real taste maker tell you where to go and what to eat, what to see and what to do. Otherwise you might just end up eating your Cheap Eats in the charming digs of Costco instead of at La Perla downtown.

Some categories of the Statesman Journal’s annual best-of’s are obviously spot-on. Word of Mouth wins Best Breakfast? Yeah, I’ll agree with that one.

But man, are there some hilarious entries and hilarious winners in this year’s poll.

Best Place to Give Birth:

1. Silverton Hospital
2. Salem Hospital
3. At-home with midwife

What’s number 4? In the the back of your Subaru on the way to the hospital? Under the rotunda at the State Capitol building? Spontaneously in line at Fred Meyer?

Best Hot Dog

1. Casey’s
2. Costco
3. Mt. Angel Sausage Co.

I love a hot dog, but does the hot dog really warrant its own category? A better bet would be best grilled cheese. Casey’s would win that, too.

Best Coffee Shop

1. Dutch Bros.
2. The Grind
3. Starbucks

Love me some Dutch Bros. on the way down to Eugene to work sometimes, but people people PLEASE!, Dutch Bros. is not a coffee shop, unless you consider sitting outside on a lawn chair next to the water feature a coffee shop experience. Best coffee shop is the Beanery downtown. Best coffee SHACK is Salem’s Latte.

Best Food Cart

1. Casey’s Cafe
2. Capitol Dog
3. Adam’s Rib Smokhouse

Do these restaurants really have food carts or are they just selling food cart food? Someone please enlighten me. Where are the Salem food carts? I know there are a few on Silverton, and there’s a Latino fruit cart that parks sometimes on Savage Road. Can we count Canby Asparagus Farms at the Chemeketa St. Farmer’s Market as being a food cart? If so, they win.

Best Bookstore

1. Borders
2. Book Bin
3. Tea Party Bookstore

I’m done talking about how much Borders sucks. But here’s a note in case you’ve forgotten. My friend and I meet often at Borders for our Bored Meetings. Can’t find a book there because they never have what I want or need. I heard they carry Twilight, though.

Best Adult-related Business

1. Santiam Wine Co.
2. Enigma Adult Toy Boutique
3. Eve’s Boutique

That’s not a best-of list, that’s a recipe for a kinky Saturday night!

Ah, best-of’s. You say so much about Salem. I’m nominating this mobile from our nursery for Best Sculpture AND Best Zoo.

Small Worlds

April 2, 2010

Where ya been? Where have I been? I’ve been bouncing on my own two feet. No, really. For the past three months I have been bouncing a newborn to sleep, and when he’s not sleeping, I’ve been bouncing him to make him happy.

I have thighs of thunder. I have gams of glam. I have legs that don’t quit and I’m recovering from those 60 lbs. of pregnancy very well, thank you very much. I’m in my old jeans and can stick those 10.0 pommel horse landings.

No, we didn’t get one of those “easy babies.”

We got a tiny tyrant! A malevolent despot! An ungracious guvernator!

And we’re so much in lurrrrvvvveee.

So really, is it any surprise that this blog has been somewhat dormant in the interim? I went back to work at about 8 weeks, but when you’re a bloggin’ for free, it tends to go by the wayside when other things take over.

Well, my dreamy despot is finally in a position to be taken out in public. I would have done it earlier if it hadn’t been for the mean stares of strangers. Most people can’t deal with cranky babies screaming at them while they are shopping and I can’t deal with all that judgment. Emily: Bad Mother!

Some news: Have you seen that Salem Monthly went weekly? Well, bi-weekly. No more stale stories, hopefully. That’s a lot of biking around town for the publisher, so keep picking up those copies.

My column this month is about letting your world get too small when you have a family. Next challenge: Take my own advice.

The Seeds More Traveled

March 4, 2010

It may be called Edible Portland, but the publication of Ecotrust’s Farm and Food Program is increasingly telling the food stories of the entire Willamette Valley, and sometimes, even of the whole state of Oregon.

I just wrote my first cover story for EP about the exciting work of a group of young people who call themselves the American Center for Sustainability.

It is the story of seeds more traveled. It’s about a man who was looking for a way to support the shift towards a more sustainable food culture and the solution he found — a volunteer project to bring seedlings to community gardens across Oregon. And it’s a road trip story with an old bus and a couple of dogs.

Along with a few volunteers, Ken Burrow delivers seedlings in old Trimet bus he christened Annapurna. The work of his group has allowed countless upstart community gardens across Oregon to make huge leaps in production in their first years. Good people doing good things for a better world.

You can read the current issue here. Photographer Leah Harb took the amazing photographs, including the kickin’ cover image. My story’s on page 18.

Sussing Out the Competition

February 19, 2010

Cue the dueling banjos! We’ve got another young columnist in town taking on the well-worn phrase and attitude that Salem, OR is really “So lame.”

It’s the Statesman-Journal’s Kelly Williams Brown — entertainment beat reporter, Ginger for the New Millennium, and all around sugar and spice and everything nice.

Kelly’s first column ran last weekend. She’s calling it “Not So Lame,” and it was all about the awkwardness of Valentine’s Day.

Speaking of… my husband and I spent Valentine’s Day with another man in bed with us, our now 8-week old baby Dash. Can I get an AWKWARD…

But back to Kelly. Can I just say that it is high time that the Statesman countered Salem Monthly’s culture column with one written by their own effervescent young writer-on-the-rise? And they even one-upped us by offering up a little tart who is about ten times as cute and vivacious as yours truly.

Grumble grumble.

Yes, I can’t say I’ve always liked Kelly. She is a reader of this blog and invited me to lunch during my first months in town. When I met her, she reminded me of the sparkly young twenty-something I once was while tromping the streets of our nation’s capital. She was loving life, the world was her oyster, and her joie de vivre was writ large on her unlined face. Also, she has impeccable fashion taste, one of those Somethings Seldom Seen in Salem.

Naturally, I hated her from the start.

Holding an attitude like that would make for an awesome columnist rivalry! Sadly, Kelly is one of the sweetest people in town — my lord, people she does stories on baby llamas! — and I am happy to call her my dear friend.

You could say she’s the special sauce the Statesman has been lacking. I wish her and her column many incarnations.