Archive for January, 2008|Monthly archive page

Back from FX

In Awesomeness, Conventions, Uncategorized on January 28, 2008 at 1:44 am

FX is over, and I managed to meet only three of my goals. But, I’m happy.

I got to talk and network with loads of great people and creative types. I got some video footage of Nathan Fillion, Nicholas Brendan, and Elisabeth Rohm. Once I edit the footage (and get rid of the times I shook the camera because I didn’t have a tripod) I’m going to upload it to YouTube.

Here’s how things went today:

I woke up late, because it was an overcast, cold day outside, and I thought it was still sleepy time when it was really around nine.

I checked out, paid for my internet, and drove to the con.

I finally got a pic of the giant Wendy’s balloon, because there was (ironically enough) a Wendy’s convention next to my con. The lady at the desk outside would not let me visit the Wendy’s con.

I beelined to the Cuddle Monsters booth, where I bought a cellphone case, since I drop my phone way too frequently to be healthy for it.

I checked out the Nathan Fillion line (still excessively long), tracked down Katie, and finally got my answer as to whether or not I could interview him. (Stay tuned for info on my special Fillion-related post, “Stalking Nathan Fillion.”)

After the Fillion-related excitement, I interviewed Dan Brereton, who created the Nocturnals. He’s married to Chartruz Lovelace, who makes the Cuddle Monsters.

Then, I checked to see if it was a good time to interview Nell Wilson, or Fat Momma. She’d disappeared, so I watched an anime gameshow by Wasabi anime. After that was the Whedonverse panel.

After the panel, I tracked down each of the authors I met yesterday and interviewed them. In between interviews, I peeked at Wilson’s seat; she was always gone. Defeat.

My theory is that a band of donut-loving ninjas spirited her away. There’s always MegaCon, where I know I’ll have photographers.

I left right before the con ended; most of the celebrities were gone and the tables were packing up. I came home, and here I am.

I did notice some pretty bad breaches of etiquette from fans. (Forgive them Fillion, the know not what they do.) It’s inspired me to write a Mookychick article about the subject.

That’s about it, I’m looking forward to vegging out at least a little tonight before I get back into my writing groove.

If you have any questions about any of the things I just wrote about, check out last night’s post on the con, which has more links.

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Greetings from FXShow

In Book Reviews, Complete Waste of Time, Conventions on January 27, 2008 at 3:19 am

-edit- Part one of “Stalking Nathan Fillion” is up as well as a post about the second day of my FX eperience.

What I learned at FXShow today:

Nathan Fillion is a popular guy.
Nicholas Brendon is sad his project Kitchen Confidential never made it big.
My MAC is very heavy when I have to carry it around four to five hours in my giant granny purse.
Linda S. Cowden and Stokely Gittens are great authors.
Chartruz Lovelace makes my new favorite crafty toys.
People actually ride the streetcars in Orlando.
Ming Court has great, reasonably priced sushi.
Riding in the pedal carts in Orlando is kind of scary-fun.
Greg Grunberg likes either sushi or Chinese food.

I’m typing this in my hotel room after a very busy day.

Last night, I discovered neither of my photographers were able to come, due to Gasparilla and work. (Gasparilla is a pirate festival in Tampa that consists of parades, a pirate invasion, and drunken women taking off their shirts for beads. There are also some art, music and film events mixed in there to prove it’s not really a weekend full of debauchery.)

Knowing I couldn’t handle video, audio, and still pictures all by myself while conducting an interview, I then proceeded to ask every single person in my cell phone’s directory if they could come down with me and share a hotel room I only had to pay 1/3 the price of. (Thank you, photographers.)

No one came. I’m all alone, but it’s given me the opportunity to explore Orlando a bit.

I started out today with the goal of getting an interview with Nathan Fillion of Firefly and Serenity. I ran in, paid to get my picture taken with him, and quickly asked him who I could schedule an interview with. (My email went kaputz last week when I was expecting his agency people to get back to me.) He didn’t know.

I ran to the information booth which directed me to Katie Jarvinen, my contact these past few weeks with FX International. Katie is my new hero; she got me an interview with Nicholas Brendon immediately and started me along the path towards getting an interview with Fillion, who is, by the looks of things, the most popular celebrity at FXShow this year. Over 600 people registered to get his autograph… Today. It’s the power of the Browncoats.

Nicholas Brendon was my favorite interview so far. He was witty and took time out to ask me questions about my life (mostly revolving around my geeky hobby, LARPing). After Brendon’s interview, I talked to Nell Wilson, or Fat Momma, who was my most requested star to interview during the con. I’m going to interview her tomorrow; my photographers might be able to make it tomorrow, which would be a plus.

I then wandered around the vendor and artist booths, where I spotted Chartruz Lovelace’s cute hand-made toys. She got the idea for them when she was pregnant with her son. They’re soft and sturdy, especially the cell holders. The cell holders are perfect for me, because I drop my phone a few times a week.

I picked up review copies of Stokely Gittens’s Peter Paul: The Chase Begins, Linda S. Cowden’s Grimmie, and M.B. Weston’s A Prophecy Forgotten. I also bought a copy of Andrea Dean Van Scoyoc’s Michael, which I’ve heard interesting things about. So far Peter Paul and Grimmie are the best out of the bunch.

After the con, I checked in to my hotel, then caught a pedal cart to Ming Court and had a sushi dinner that calmed me down and made me quite cheerful. For $27, I received my trademark water with lemon, soup, salad, edamame, and a variety of rolls that left me so full I almost rolled out the door.

And, apparently, Greg Grunberg of Heroes was spotted by my sushi chef as he entered the restaurant. So, now at least I know he has good taste.

I’m thinking of writing a post for The Musings of Wendy Withers entitled “Stalking Nathan Fillion” as a chronicle of the con, focusing on my attempts to interview him. However, I’m worried the title would make me seem too creepy. What do you guys think?

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Getting wired

In Uncategorized on January 25, 2008 at 3:29 pm

Ryan Sholin, a blogger and media specialist I’ve been following via RSS for the past few months, started a networking site for wired journalists. So far, I like it.

The network has cute little widgets, groups, messaging options, and areas to upload video and audio. I have only encountered a few problems so far, and they all revolve around the membership badge.

The badge is a good idea. There are a few different designs, and it’s customizable. However, WordPress won’t let me add it to my blog as a fully functional badge. And, it’s too wide to fit in my sidebar on my Blogspot blog, so I’ll either have to work on resizing it or find a suitable place for it.

I’ve also realized that on a MAC, errors in text are a lot harder to spot than on my old PC laptop, thanks to the thin red line MACs use.

Where do readers come from?

In Uncategorized on January 24, 2008 at 4:45 am

They just appear.

Or, maybe they find me through an intricate system of engine searches and browsing.

It appears some people are curious as to where all of these mysterious readers come from.

Keli Garson

Sounds like this was a pleasant surprise for you – Congrats! I have enjoyed visiting all three (blogs) – very thoughtful and/or thought provoking. I’m always curious – how does your readership find you?

Thanks to WordPress, I have an idea of where people find My Musings 2.0.

Today, no one clicked on a link from another page to get to my blog, which makes me think the readers from today either have me bookmarked or typed in the address to get to me.

Yesterday, they looked up these tags:

wordpress.com/tag/alternative-journal… 4
wordpress.com/tag/arleen-spenceley 2

(I’m guessing Arleen Spenceley has more fans than just me.)

The were also referred from these sites:

boxxet.com/The_Simpsons/Burned_by_The… 1
adrianmonck.blogspot.com/2008/01/carn… 1

And, at least one person has me on their reader:


As for page views, these were the most popular yesterday.

Alternative press opportunity 6 More stats
About 4 More stats
My Resume 3 More stats
My tips for inclusive reporting 2 More stats
Knowing when to fold ’em 1 More stats
Burned by The Simpsons 1 More stats
2007 in review 1 More stats

I have no idea how this is all going to turn up once it’s published; I’m using ScribeFire for the first time. I’m hoping it will make this blog business a lot easier.

If you guys have problems reading or viewing anything in this blog, please let me know.

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Knowing when to fold ’em

In Uncategorized on January 23, 2008 at 5:06 am

This is going to be the first post of tonight. I’ve decided to part ways with 451 Press, because of time and money reasons. I don’t have enough time to cultivate the readership, and for one month I get paid as much as I would for writing one PayPerPost post. So, my first real experiment in blogging is over.

Shalom, 451 Press. Shalom.

My ratings

In Uncategorized on January 18, 2008 at 2:52 am

I’ve decided to post my blog traffic for my three blogs, since the date I started each of them.

The Musings of Wendy Withers

5,371 views since I started tracking my readers last October. I use StatCounter to keep track.

Artist’s Passion

853 “visits” according to the 451 Press intranet.

My Musings 2.0

This blog has had 397 views since I started it in December.

These numbers are actually more than I was expecting. I am happy.

My tips for inclusive reporting

In College Goals, Tampa, Uncategorized on January 13, 2008 at 2:34 pm

This post is part of the January Carnival of Journalism being hosted by Adrian Monck of Views of the News Biz.

There are mosques in Tampa, Fla. There are Jewish, Buddhist, and Hindu Temples. Ethnic food stores include Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, and Jamaican cuisines. An Ethiopian restaurant just opened, and there is a coffee shop owned by a Kenyan woman across the street from my university.

Unfortunately, there’s not much media coverage of Tampa’s diverse communities. We might see a small article about a new ethnic restaurant opening or a religious feature about an Eastern faith. What we don’t see are extensive articles that put the community in context and provide a diverse view of the problems our city faces everyday.

In Tampa, if the wife of a sports star dies at the hospital while giving childbirth, it’s a front page story for a week. If a Latina gives birth to two stillborn, mutated children in two years from the pesticides sprayed on the crops she picks, it’s swept under the rug.

If a little white girl goes missing, a media frenzy stirs to make sure she’s found safely. If a little black girl gets hit by a car driven by an attractive, white, female schoolteacher, the media will only stir if the black community protests in outrage over the inequality.

I am especially sensitive to inclusion. It could be because of my extensive background in anthropology, but I think it is more because I care about everyone equally. One of the reasons people find newspapers boring is the industry’s lack of innovative, inclusive ideas that show them a side of the world they’ve never seen (which is our job, by the way).

Here are some tips to starting out on the inclusive path.

Erase the word “minority” from your vocabulary.

There is no such thing as a minority vote or voter. Saying a politician courts minorities is false. Ethnic groups vote over strong cultural and moral lines, so saying one politician is courting all minorities is saying there are two cultural groups in existence, white and other.

The word minority is vague. It doesn’t describe a population in enough detail. Instead, use statistics to show that a particular group is a small segment of the population. Use the specific group name in every article about them, and even better yet, use even more identifiers to show who they are. For example, with all of the groups in India, from castes to tribes, saying someone is from India really doesn’t say much about them.

Step outside your comfort zone and explore your city.

Check out a church that caters to the group you’re interested in. Eat at their restaurants. Shop in their markets. Find their associations.

There may be a Cuban Club in your city; find it. If tensions are flaring between two gangs, instead of writing a quick brief about the violence, find the church nearest to the location of the incident and get to know the people who attend and their concerns for the area.

Go on fact finding missions to local governmental meetings and stay the entire time.

Here’s what the last school board meeting I went to looked like:

The meeting started with standing room only. The board recognized sport teams for doing outstanding work. The local paper took pictures, TV stations took video, they got the student’s names, and half the room emptied as the sport teams headed home.

A new high school was named for a leader in the Hispanic community. The local paper took a couple of pictures, the TV stations that were left took video, they got his name, and half of the remaining people left again.

A group of women were recognized for community service work they do for local schools. The local paper took a picture, got their names, and the only people left in the room were parents protesting a district line change for two middle and two high schools. The parents were a diverse group of people in the lower middle class and service men and women from the local military base.

The cameras were gone, the TV crews had left about two hours before. Print journalists were either on hand or watching from the video feed on the community network, because there were small pieces in at least one paper that did nothing to explore the issues or the people involved. It just said angry parents were at the school board meeting; an entire group of passionate, informed people who were trying to be active in local government were ignored.

Look for conventions.

There are so many types of conventions, it would be impossible to list them all. But, conventions are a good way to network with potential sources. When was the last time you sat down to drinks with a furrie? Or, a Southern Baptist leader? Or a leader in the BDSM culture? Or, a Christian hip-hop artist? Conventions usually offer press passes for free, which means you get free access to an entire group of people who are actively involved in their community. They’re usually glad to sit down for 10 to 15 minutes for drinks or coffee, especially if it’s a convention that lasts the entire weekend.

Keep your eyes open for community newspapers and phone books.

In Tampa, there are phone books for the Hispanic community and businesses that support the GLBT community. There are newspapers in Spanish and geared towards African Americans. Whenever I see a newspaper on display, I check it out. If it’s free, it’s for me, and if I have to pay a dollar to tap into insight into a community I’m not familiar with, I’ll do that, too.

I hope this list helps everyone think outside the box at least a little; the U.S. is not a country built on the backs of White Anglo Saxon Protestants. It’s a country of diverse immigrants, and I’d like to see this fact represented more often.

New Header

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2008 at 3:13 am

A tree frog I found at the University of South Florida.

I took this picture at the University of South Florida. The little guy was climbing his way up the side of a vending box for newspapers.

I’m not sure how long I’m going to keep this header; I don’t like that I couldn’t fit the frog’s entire body into the space available.

Tips for beginning journalists

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2008 at 2:54 am

Having some web design skills is very important in this day and age, yet Jschools haven’t quite figured this out yet.

I’m taking a graduate level course to learn Flash and video and audio editing.

This means, as students, we have to take matters into our own hands. Whining about what our schools did and didn’t teach aren’t going to help us get jobs, especially not in today’s job climate.

So, here are three great locations for those of us who are scrambling to learn these skills all by our lonesome.

Head First Labs with CSS & XHTML

I love books. Therefore, it’s common sense that I chose a book to teach myself HTML with. It has exercises and presents info into an easy-to-understand format. This book is actually for another class at my college; I yanked it from that class’s book section and bought it myself after browsing through it. I’ve learned more from this book in the past month than I learned from internet sites in the past six.

W3 Schools

Some people work better with web tutorials. This site is for them.

W3 Schools offers online examples users can cut and paste and test themselves. It’s also more extensive than Head First and free. My friend Charlie swears by it.

Smashing Magazine

I stumbled upon this Web site a while ago and automatically subscribed to its feed. To me it’s THE ultimate online design guide for people who already have some web design skills. Most of it’s over my head, but I’ve been known to scroll through the archives as I build my web toolbox. The more I learn, the more I remember things I’ve read in Smashing, and the more I can use to improve my work.

Another plus: they go all out on the holidays, providing readers with links to holiday-themed wallpapers, icons and more.

If there are any more suggestions, please let me know.

When I was a kid…

In Uncategorized on January 9, 2008 at 4:14 am

One of the blog conversations I’ve been following has been about kids and how media consumption will change in a big way once they control the world. Fred Wilson wrote the original post I caught about how teens watch TV DVDs instead of movies, use their phones as a security blanket, log into their social networking sites compulsively and play lots of video games.

Today, I caught Scott Karp’s response, where he compares his kid-life with his life now. It made me think about when I was in elementary through high school and how things have changed for me.

When I was a kid…

I read the paper every day.
I started with Baylife (in The Tampa Tribune, during their super-cool days when Kevin Walker wrote The Rail and Dave Barry’s syndicated columns were included in the Sunday edition of the Opinion page) and ended with Metro. Sports and Classifieds were often cast aside in disdain.

I didn’t have a computer; no internet for Wendy.
Okay, I did get a computer my senior year; it was about four or five years out of date, and I used it to play Myst and a Frankenstein game starring Tim Curry.

I watched TV 5-10 hours a day.
This depended on whether or not it was a school day. It also depended on whether or not I had movies or books available.

I read somewhere between 5-15 novels a week.
They ranged from Goosebumps to Moby Dick; I was an advanced reader and read Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit in third grade, so I had a very eclectic selection even then.

I watched five movies or more in a week.
Sometimes I’d rent five movies for $5 from the video store and return them in three days, only to exchange them for five more. Horror was my genre of choice.

I was always years behind the video game curve.
And, I played sporadically, abandoning my systems for months at a time, but I did beat Myst in a relatively timely manner, and I played it and its sequels all the way through.

These days…

I am a news junkie.
I read at least one traditional local paper every day, read the school paper on weekdays, read the St. Pete Times online, read at least a part of my RSS feed every day and read Creative Loafing on Thursdays (when it magically appears on campus).

I spend too much time on the internet.
The internet is for researching, blogging and wasting my time with Myspace, email and drama on Livejournal.

I average about three or four hours of TV time a week.
I actually watch more TV on DVD, it’s what I want to watch when I want to watch it, and if I want to watch more, I can have a marathon. I usually watch about an hour of TV on DVD a day.

I read about one book for fun a week.
My reading is suffered from my having to work on projects and work at my job. It makes me sad.

I watch one or two movies a month.
The independent and B movies I want to watch aren’t readily available, because I don’t have Netflix. (I don’t have a credit card.)

I’m still years behind the video game curve.
I like Okami, Kingdom Hearts and DDRing. That’s about it, for now.

I read a lot of magazines.
I especially love socially progressive, struggling indie magazines.

So, I’ve given up big budget creations for reading news and user generated content on the internet. And, my reading is down. That’s not really because of the internet, it’s because when I’m in school, my reading is bogged down by class readings. Fortunately, I enjoy them. Unfortunately, I can’t keep up with the newest pulp fiction out there.

So, how has your media consumption changed over the years?