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Happy Earth Day! Here are some links for you to enjoy! 🙂
How Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and Warren Buffet adhere to the Five-Hour Rule where they set aside at least one hour a day (or five hours a week) devoted to such practices as reading, reflection, and experimentation.
Philadelphia museum showing glass bongs as high art. The museum’s directors say that this exhibit is less about potheads and more about allowing an underground community of artists to showcase their work without fear of being stigmatized or prosecuted.
A billionaire collector of Rembrandt’s works said he started his collection with the intention to take art out of hidden, private collections and put it back into the public domain by creating a lending library. He’s doing this in an effort to build bridges between different groups and countries.
Google unveiled a new set of features for its popular Maps app that lets users share their locations with friends and contacts in real time so they can quickly let friends know if they are running late to a meeting or stuck in traffic.
A World War II era photographer in Poland documenting the Lodz Ghetto buried his negatives in 1944 in an effort to preserve his work. After the war he returned to the burial site and and found that more than half of the original 6,000 negatives remained intact.
I was inspired to do this Throwback Thursday after The Daily Mail recently did one of those “Where Are They Now?” stories about a woman who became famous back in 2009 for giving birth to the first set of octuplets where all of the infants have survived in the United States. At the time the mainstream media was hyping this story as one of those “miracle birth” stories and how wonderful, inspirational, and miraculous it was for so many babies to be born from the same womb at once.
But that sense of awe and wonder quickly turned to disgust when the same mainstream media found out that the mother of those octuplets already had six other children and she was raising them as a single mother. Like those octuplets, she had her other children through in vitro fertilization and she used the same doctor for all 14 of her kids. In addition that mother also hadn’t worked in a few years and she was living on disability payments.
As for the father of those children, the mother claimed that she used the same sperm donor for all of them but this alleged father, known as either David Suleman or David Solomon, has never publicly revealed himself nor has he ever remotely done anything to help support those children. An old boyfriend named Denis Beaudoin claimed to be the children’s biological father on ABC’s Good Morning America and he was even willing to undergo a paternity test. Nadya Suleman denied that Beaudoin was the father.
So the mother, then known as Nadya Suleman, was soon dubbed “Octomom” in the media. While the mainstream media backed away from this story, the less reputable gossip publications and websites started to hound her and her kids.
I saw an interview that Nadya Suleman gave to NBC’s The Today Show soon after her octuplets were born and I felt there was something off about her. She kept on saying that she was going to return to grad school in the fall (she was a college student studying to become a therapist at the time all of her children were conceived) to resume her studies despite the fact that she was now the mother of 14 children—including 8 infants—under the age of 8. She also played up to the camera as she was showing off her 8 newborns in their incubators (they were all born premature). She subsequently did a series of videos for the gossip site RadarOnline and I saw her older children literally running wild around the house with little or no discipline at all. Those videos were shot while the octuplets were still in the hospital and all I saw was total chaos.
As a result I did this 9 inch x 12 inch (23 cm x 30 cm) painting in 2009 called The Scream of Nadya “Octomom” Suleman.
I did this painting before I even started this blog but I would write about it for the first time on September 4, 2011. I showed it in a few local art shows and I got a good response to that painting each time I displayed it. But I also was ambitious and I wanted more attention not only for this painting but also for myself as well. I was hoping for some career opportunities related to my art where I would actually make some money doing what I love the most.
So I had this idea where I would make a video of this painting and post it on YouTube. I felt that just having a video doing little more than displaying a static painting with no sounds wouldn’t be any good. So I decided to do a bunch of closeups of various elements in this painting along with various sound effects. I did a soundtrack mixing various royalty-free sound effects in GarageBand, I imported various still photos of that painting (including closeups) into iPhoto, and I put everything together into iMovie. I was in Phoenix visiting my then-husband’s mother and stepfather while I was working on this project. (We used to make such trips to Arizona at least once a year until my mother-in-law’s death in 2010 and my marital breakup in 2011.) I think I may have even uploaded it on to YouTube during my Arizona trip as well but I don’t remember exactly. But here is the video version.
Now I’m going to tell you a true story that I’ve never wrote about in this blog before. It’s a tale of reality shows and contracts and how I was almost famous. I waited until now to write a post about it because I was still under contract to this media company and I didn’t want to write anything that could potentially get me into any kind of legal trouble. Now that the contract has long since expired, I feel a bit freer to write openly about the aftermath of posting that video on YouTube.
Here’s some background. At one point Nadya Suleman (or her then-media representatives) were shopping around a potential reality TV show that would be similar to TLC’s hit reality show Jon & Kate Plus 8 (about a married couple who were raising a set of twins and a set of sextuplets). Most of the U.S. media were leery about doing a show like that because of the controversy surrounding Nadya Suleman and her 14 children. But then it was announced that Nadya Suleman had signed a contract with the British media company Eyeworks for a reality show about her and her large brood. What’s more there was a report that this reality show wouldn’t even be shown on American television and it was going to air only in Europe.
At that point I received a surprise personal message through my YouTube account from someone who was representing Eyeworks. This person said that the company was interested in using my video in their reality show and all I needed to do was provide my personal email address so they could send a contract for me to sign. I was really excited that a major British production company was interested in my video and I thought that it would be the start of something big for me as a byproduct. I responded with my email address and I promptly got a contract for me to sign.
I read it and I initially had concern about some of the provisions which were this: Eyeworks would have exclusive use to this video for five years and I would not be compensated for their use of my video. I wasn’t keen about not being paid for having my video shown but then I thought that this could be my one chance at having some major opportunities open up for me. I could put the fact that my video was aired on a television show on my resume. I could potentially have other people provide paid work for me based on seeing my video on television both in the U.S. and in Europe.
Ultimately I printed out the contract, signed it, scanned it into the computer, and emailed it back to Eyeworks. I filed the printed signed copy away. I recently found it among my records and here is what it looked like.
Ultimately that potentially good opportunity that the contract represented came to nothing in the long run. The last time this Eyeworks-produced reality show was ever mentioned was in this New York Times article that was published on November 12, 2009. Since then there has been no more mention of that reality show airing anywhere in the world. In fact, there is no mention as to whether that reality show has ever finished filming its first season. What happened? The only clue I’ve found as to the ultimate fate of that reality series is this article that was posted on PerezHilton.com in 2009 where Nadya Suleman denied ever signing any contract to appear in a reality show.
In any case my one chance for possible glory pretty much went down the tubes along with the reality show. As I look back on this I now think that it’s for the best because I don’t even know if anything would even have come from Eyeworks having the rights to use my video had that reality show actually been aired on television. In fact, I don’t even know if my video would have even appeared on that show or if it would’ve been one of those things that ended up on the cutting room floor at the last minute because the director changed his/her mind about actually using it.
I’m not really too disappointed over my video’s outcome and I’ve basically moved on from that episode.
As for Nadya Suleman herself, she went on to appearing in this low-budget movie called 666 the Devil’s Child. She also went on to masturbating in a porn movie while also working as an adult entertainer dancing in men’s clubs. She subsequently got into all kinds of legal and financial trouble (including drug abuse), which is documented on her Wikipedia page.
She eventually faded from the public spotlight for a bit until she did her recent interview with The Daily Mail. According to that article, she now goes by the name Natalie Suleman, she claims to have “killed off” her “vile Octomom persona,” she has kicked her addiction to Xanax, she is a vegan and she has put her kids on that same diet, she now works as a counselor and a family therapist, and she no longer does any kind of sex work. Strangely the photos accompanying that story only has her and her octuplets and there are no photos of her six older children. I have no idea if that was Suleman’s doing or the photographer’s doing or if the older children didn’t want to be photographed at all or if it was a an instance where the photographer took photos of the other children but the editors at The Daily Mail opted not to publish them.
Natalie Suleman seemed very upbeat and positive in that story but, then again, she has a long history of contradicting herself, which is well-documented on this site. There is no independent way of verifying whether she is telling the truth about herself or her family at this point. I only hope that, for the sake of her 14 children, she really did tell the truth to The Daily Mail and she really has turned her life around to the point where she is a functioning responsible adult.
I recently appeared on the first episode of a new YouTube series called C.H.A.O.S. (Cartoons, Hobbies, and Other Stuff). I was talking about my memories of the McDonaldland commercials that the TV networks used to air on Saturday mornings between the cartoons. Here’s the episode in question. For those of you who only care about what I have to say, I can be found just past the 7 minute mark. But it’s worth seeing the whole thing since it has a runtime of just a little over 9 minutes.
Filming the interview was no big deal. Here’s a photo I took of the behind the scenes during the making of that video. The person on the left is George Kochell, who was also interviewed in that video, and the person holding the video camera is the series’ director/editor Ola Betiku.
One fringe benefit of getting involved with that first episode is that a bunch of Happy Meal toys were purchased especially for this video shoot, which you can see in the above photo. The toys were based on the characters from the Angry Birds video game and they were released in conjunction with the release of the Angry Birds movie. It was the first week of the Angry Birds Happy Meal toys so the local McDonald’s gave away the red bird. We looked at the red bird toys and noticed that there was an on/off switch in the back but we couldn’t figure out what the bird did when the switch was flipped on. Filming went on despite not being able to figure out the red bird toy. When filming was finished for the day (it was cut short due to the fact that it was a sweltering hot day) I was given one of the red bird toys along with some wrapped apple slices and one of the small apple juice boxes (the latter two were from the Happy Meals).
It was only after everyone else had left and I took a closer look at the red bird did I figure out that you had to not only turn the switch on in the bird’s back but also press down on the feathers on top of the bird’s head in order to get any kind of action. I filmed a short video of me playing with that bird and I uploaded it on Facebook. A few hours later, when it was a bit darker, I shot the same toy indoors because it showed up better in the dark. I shot another short video and uploaded it on Facebook as well. I’ve recently combined the two videos together into one minute-long video and uploaded it on to YouTube. Enjoy!
Lately it seems like I’ve been writing new shorter posts about some other website that has interested me. I decided that I needed to do something a little bit more streamlined so I’m not constantly running back to this blog with new updates. I have to organize myself a bit more because I have other things that I also need to spend time doing.
So I’ve decided to start a new feature called Link-O-Rama where I’ll provide links to other places on the Internet that have interested me and I want to share with you. I don’t know how often I’ll do this feature other than I’ll do it once a week only if I have a link to share. If I don’t have other links in mind for a given week, I’ll skip a week or two.
So here are the first links for this new feature that I’d like to share with you.
If, for whatever reason, you need to do some research on clothing, tools, toys, or furniture of the past or you just want to experience a quick trip down memory lane, Wishbook Web is a great resource. The site has scans of old store catalogs from Spiegel, Sears, Lord & Taylor, Wards, JC Penny, FAO Schwarz, Simpsons-Sears, and Eatons. The vintage catalogs posted at that site range between the years 1933-1988. This site also has a Flickr account full of more retro goodies like vintage greeting cards and obscure CD labels.
It’s never too late to code. A story about how people over 50 can learn to code and even start new careers.
I built my rabbit a cart and now he delivers me a beer! Seriously! That video is totally cute.
My father suffered a spinal cord injury that left him in a wheelchair for the last several years of his life. Geoff Raismen says that his research has come up with a new way of beating paralysis. It’s too bad that my father, who passed away in 2000, didn’t live to see this.
An awesome video by Creavite using kinetic typography that also has a serious message about the current state of education: I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My Fate.
Here’s a really beautiful yet informative graphic on the development of the various world’s languages, which visually show why some languages (like the ones spoken in the Scandinavian Peninsula) seem so similar to each other.
Jane Perkins is a British artist who creates stunning works of art using everyday objects she finds in recycling centers, second-hand shops, and junkyards.
A brief excerpt from an open letter to Hillary Rodham Clinton: Do you REALLY want to help your party and your country? If so then stop sucking all the (financial/political) oxygen out of the system giving other (genuine) progressives a shot at the White House.
A two-minute educational video on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) narrated by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.
Here’s a cat’s perspective on the Superbowl, which is this coming Sunday.
I shot this short video of the Chalice Dancers performing at the beginning of a Sunday service at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church on December 21, 2014. The bad news is that exactly one minute after I finished uploading, YouTube decided to mute the audio “due to a claim by the copyright holder.” I posted the video with the muted audio to the church’s Facebook page although I have a feeling that people will be less than thrilled by it. It looks like the church may have to look at alternatives to YouTube if YouTube is going to continue to be some kind of a fanatical Copyright Nazi.
Don’t get me wrong. I think the creator should be credited and provided some kind of compensation. It would’ve been one thing had I attempted to monetize this video. But I didn’t designate any kind of monetization on this video because YouTube’s rules specify that monetization is limited only to completely original content and the church had used recorded music. But the church had the right to use that music under fair use laws and I had no intention of ever trying to make a profit off of that video because of that recorded music that was done by others and I don’t think it would be ethical of me to try to collect royalties when other people were in that video and all I did was to point my smartphone and press the video button onscreen.
Damn it this is the second time this week I’ve had to deal with YouTube’s music issues. For the other video, YouTube wouldn’t let me monetize it because it claimed third-party copyright despite the fact the soundtrack was one that I composed myself in GarageBand using music loops provided by Apple. It also happens to be the same soundtrack I had used for the opening and closing credits of a previous video with no problem at all from YouTube. So I had to delete that video and upload a new version with all the music stripped out of it (which is why the opening and closing credits are totally silent).
Well, anyway, here’s the video for those who love silent movies or who prefer to provide their own musical soundtrack.