Archive for July, 2008

The DNC and the BIG Tent

Finding out about the DNC’s plans for providing a central location for bloggers and citizen journalists to access the convention activities was pretty exciting. (Although there is also a sneaky, little voice of negativity in the back of my mind and it keeps making snide comments that this has an element of “controlling” the coverage.)

Reading that the Big Tent will also include events for the public, including speakers, panels, workshops, and so on really added to my excitement.

Trying to find a list of these events on the DNC web site merely created a major sense of frustration.

Despite my frustration (and that inner voice), I’m still pretty psyched about this. The 2008 convention is not the first to allow some sort of access for bloggers, but this move to create an actual space dedicated to a wider range of journalists in the form of the Big Tent seems pretty significant; it is just one more step toward legitimizing citizen journalists and recognizing their contribution to information flow.

I, however, am not one of these bloggers or citizen journalists who will gain official access, which leaves me in the realm of “the public,” so if anyone knows where to find a list of the public events at the Big Tent that are supposed to occur at the Digg Stage – please share.

Follow-up: (Some) BKs Remove the No-Photo Sticker

So apparently I’m not the only one noticing that Burger King has joined the anti-photography crusade. Another blogger, Jenn Shuey, was taken aback by the sticker and decided to investigate…

I knocked on the window until I got the guy to come back, then I asked for an explanation. He claims it’s because cameras distract the employees causing it to take longer to complete their jobs.

Bullshit.

I concur. I’m rather more fond of some of the other guesses this blogger has come up with, especially the one concerning Dateline’s Dirty Dining segment, in which “Burger King was rated the dirtiest chain after hidden cameras visited the chain among many others.”

(Remember the U.S. Armed Forces’ initial response to the Abu Grhaib torture scandel? Not to punish those responsible, but to ban cameras? Because torturing wasn’t the real crime, to them; witnessing torture was.)

It gets worse. The children’s party angle? Five-year-olds wearing cardboard Burger King crowns and thier parents unable, because of this stupid rule, to take pictures for the family scrapbook? Shuey brought this up:

When I asked the guy about it he said “if you want to have a party contact our manager. We may be able to arrange for a professional photographer.”

Yyyyeah. You just might. And you just might get a nice kickback from that pro photographer, mightn’t you, since your policy guarantees them a lot of business?

One of the people commenting on my previous piece scolded me for bringing it up at all:

Seriously, who cares? As a business they have a right to deny service. Plus, this isn’t a new thing. Grocery stores and Malls have had this rule for YEARS, way before 9/11. They basically don’t want someone coming in and stealing marketing ideas. Fast food chains pay a lot of money to a lot of people to figure out the best method for laying out their stores, product placement, etc, etc. I can see a lot of reasons why they would ask people not to take pictures in side their store.

If you don’t like it, don’t go *shrug*

You know what? Apathy and cynicism aren’t good substitutes for wisdom. (Besides, if your stance is “Who cares?” then why do you bother leaving blog comments about it? Why don’t you just leave the conversation to those who do care? Do you think your “who cares” stance makes you superior, and you want to show off how superior you are? Do you have a vested interest in attempting to sneer others into silence?)

Obviously some people think it makes them more enlightened, more mature, to roll over and say “I for one welcome our new anti-camera overlords.” Do enjoy that smug little warm fuzzy, folks. But me, I’m not only going to avoid any store or market vendor with a “no photo” policy, I’m in favor of telling others about it so they can make informed decisions.

Jenn Shuey did me one better. She took her complaint up the chain of command:

After my little rant Friday about Burger King I decided to do something about it. I called their customer relations department for answers. The customer service rep I spoke with was very nice, and her reaction to the stickers saying no cameras was one of shock. She honestly didn’t know what I was talking about and thought it was absurd. She immediately put me on hold and started trying to contact someone who could give her an answer as to why there is this no camera policy now.

Apparently, this customer service rep thought it was the stupidest policy she’d ever heard of. She couldn’t get immediate answers, but took down Shuey’s complaint–along with the list of other bloggers’ reports Shuey had collected (including mine).

Two days later, Shuey discovered her local BK had removed the sticker.

The manager just happened to be running the window, so I asked him about it. I made mention that I’d seen the sign a few days ago, and he said “yeah, we took it down because we’re having too many complaints. We had 2 birthday parties canceled because the parent’s couldn’t take photos of the party.”

(I don’t know whether the Gunbarrell location has followed suit, as I haven’t been up there since. Would anyone up in the area like to report?)

I think it’s important to challenge these “no photo” rules wherever we find them. Increasingly, amateur photography is becoming our primary method of holding accountable corporations, police forces, and other organizations, including local and federal government bodies. To treat photographers like criminals is to seriously disempower us laypeople. (Do watch the Dateline segment – Shuey has the video embedded at her first blog post on the matter.) So It’s important to not only refuse to patronize businesses that don’t want their business practices caught on tape, but also to let them know why you are no longer giving them your money. Ask them what they’re ashamed of, that they don’t want any witnesses.

And spread the word! The only way that this free market/democracy ideal works is when consumers/citizens can make informed decisions about who to patronize, who to support, and who to vote for. If a business has a policy that you think is unethical, tell your friends about it–tell them about the policy and why you think it’s unethical. Give them the power to make a conscious decision about what policies they will support.

In closing: “Who cares?” makes a shitty rallying cry. “Change for the better!” has a much nicer ring to it. Just ask Jenn Shuey.

Introducing The Hub

hub.metblogs

If Metblogs is a city, hub.metblogs is the playground. We kept hearing from people that one of their favorite parts of Metblogs was meeting and interacting with readers and writers from other parts of the world, as well as getting requests for more ways that readers could be involved besides just posting comments. We thought about this for a while and decided that with a network like this, a giant community area where folks from all over the world could hang out, post photos and videos, talk with each other, form groups, play games, send messages, and do about a million other things was probably a pretty fun idea. The Hub is that.

If you have any tech ideas or suggestions join this group and speak up. See you on hub.metblogs!

Korean BBQ

Up until last night, I had thought I’ve tried just about every major type of ethnic food, but when my brother asked me when I’d last had Korean I couldn’t even recall a first time. And so I found myself making the trek to Aurora for Korean BBQ at Korean BBQ -SAE Jong Kwan, 2680 S. Havana Street. Once we got there, it was obvious this was going to be a new experience.

My first hint was the small round burner sizzling in the middle of all the tables. My second hint was the menu with the many dishes I’d never heard of such as galbi (marinated beef short ribs) and bulgogi (very thinly sliced beef loin). I let my brother order since he knew what he was doing and simply waited to see what would arrive at the table. The first thing we got was a selection of about 8 different side dishes – kimchi. Most were fairly recognizable when it came to the main ingredients and all were good. One word of advice – if you have to know exactly what you are putting in your mouth, this might not be a good dining option for you.

After eating our fill of the various kimchi offerings, the waitress arrived with a plate of raw meat, leaving it and a small plate of sliced raw garlic and green chilis. It was then our task to cook the meat, give the garlic a little time on the grill, and then use the lettuce leaves to create bite sized pieces of lettuce, meat, garlic, and bean paste. The important part here seems to be trading off cook duties so that one person isn’t busy turning meat while everyone else gets to eat and eat and eat. To top the meal off, you then receive a small glass of some sort of sweetened rice water.

And depending on how important you find it to dine in the culturally correct way, here is a small word of advice. I guess you aren’t supposed to take the large lettuce leaves and make one big lettuce sandwich. You’re supposed to tear off bite-sized pieces of the lettuce and use it to make bite-sized sandwiches. Of course, I did it the wrong way and didn’t find out until I did some research on the web afterwards. Considering the fact that we seemed to be the only non-Koreans in the whole restaurant, I’m sure someone noticed our ignorance.

If you’re up for a new dining experience and consider yourself an adventurous eater, I’d say that a little Korean BBQ should be a part of your future dining plans. Plus, if anyone has already tried Korean BBQ in Denver and has a favorite restaurant, I’d love to get its name and location.

Films on the rocks

My wife and I and some friends hit up Red Rocks the other day for Breakfast Club.

What a freaking great show!IMG00663.jpg The Denver Film society knows how to do it! Films on the Rocks, is a great, great idea!!!

They were close to selling out the entire place. For Breakfast club!!!

If you get the chance, hit up one of the remaining flicks being shown. No matter the movie it’s a great time.

We even got some drunken trailer trash female brawlers a few rows behind to cap off the show, can’t beat that :)

The night was hosted by Chuck Roy, a great local commedian, we also had a really good 80′s cover band! Chadzilla and the Asteroids, if I recall correctly. Great stuff!

IMG00658.jpg I missed Labrynth when it was at the Rocks, that wouda been a sweet show!

At any rate, check it out.

Hot Dog Eating Contest for Charity

This Sunday, July 27th, there’s a hot dog eating contest for charity at Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs. The contest will benefit the Colorado Aids Walk and Project Angel Heart. Read more…

Steve’s Snappin’ dogs is at 3525 E. Colfax Avenue in Denver.

I have a house!

Well, after about 3 months of scouring the rental market from afar, I have found a home!

It’s in south central Denver, not too far from downtown, close to bike paths and public transportation. I’ve been doing the whole Google Earth Streetview exploration of my neighborhood, and am happy to see a good variety of locally owned, family run, ethnic stores pretty close.

I also found that Google Maps now gives walking directions and times. I’m only an hour and 24 minute walk from downtown, so I’m guessing 30 minutes or less by bike. (Oddly enough, Google couldn’t calculate the time to walk from Ohio to Denver, the route I will be taking in just a few weeks)

So what’s next? Well, I have to find furniture. I’m on Freecycle for that. I need to find a job, and have some leads on that. And then there’s the little stuff, like finding a bank (what works for you?), figuring out the public transportation, and am I really allowed to raise chickens in the city?

Midnight Batman @ Continental 10 (vlog returneth!)

Yeesh, I said I’d have this up sooner. I love having a real job outside of this blog. Someday I’ll be able to do more. That day is coming actually, so just you wait! However, I managed to cobble together the video portion (anybody remember DenverCast? I do!) and here it is! The channel itself on youtube is still around so prepare for more as I get motivated to get around my town on weekends and mornings.

Fellow authors and readers take heed. I’d love to see you getting involved in showing us many of the 5,280 reasons why Denver is flippin’ awesome. Check out the channel and the video below. The fun starts…NOW! :)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evOiQpM0_vA[/youtube]

Channel is located here.

Outdoor Film Series in Cherry Creek

I just got a flyer in the mail about Films on Fillmore, a series of outdoor movies on Thursday nights this summer. Has anyone ever been? The movie selections aren’t bad. I’m kinda bummed I missed the showing of Raising Arizona, but I’m debating going to see The Devil Wears Prada this week.

Apparently the fun starts at dusk each Thursday, and everyone’s welcome to bring lawn chairs, blankets, and picnics.

The upcoming showings are:

July 24 The Devil Wears Prada
July 31 The Adventures of Sharkboy & Lavagirl in 3-D, brought to you by The Children’s Hospital
August 7 The Great Muppet Caper, brought to you by The Children’s Hospital
August 14 Transformers
August 21 Wag the Dog

No Holds Bard

I exercised the power of word of mouth the other day. During one of those typical Monday morning chats at work, you know the one, “so what did you do this weekend?” I mentioned that I checked out the No Holds Bard performance at Civic Center Park. And that led into the need to explain what No Holds Bard is. At the end of discussion, I found my partner in idle conversation was determined to attend the next production.

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It went something like this.

Him: “You saw Shakespeare this weekend? I love Shakespeare!”
Me: “ Yeah, it’s this group that say they do Shakespeare as he intended it. They did Twelfth Night.”
Him: “Dude (ok, there might not have been a “Dude”), I love Twelfth Night.”

And from there I was obliged to give him the scoop on No Holds Bard. For a much better description of what they do and why than what I’m about to provide, check out their web site – http://www.noholdsbard.com/.

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First, and most importantly, they don’t rehearse. Apparently, in Shakespeare’s day, the actors did a different play every night. After all, this was nightly entertainment for people so you didn’t run the same show every night for weeks on end. This did not leave a lot of time for rehearsing, so they didn’t. They would, however, have a roll – a script rolled up on dowels that they would carry on stage. And there we have our modern word for a role in a play.

Yes, everything does come from Shakespeare.

But back to No Holds Bard. It was a good performance, but definitely one of those times when you want to arrive early and get seats in front. Since there are no microphones and sometimes the acoustics in outdoor venues are not the greatest, you are relying on the power of the human voice to carry. And it can’t always carry over the sounds of traffic or constant occurrences of sirens.

For some reason, that night was a popular one for the fire department, but fortunately a second aspect of doing plays without rehearsals is that you have an official prompter/referee who makes the calls. One of those calls was to blow a whistle when the sirens got too loud and proclaim a halt to the lines until the sirens subsided. During this first siren postponement, one of the actors broke into a spontaneous round of “Bad boys, bad boys” which was promptly switched to “The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire” when someone pointed out that the sirens were from fire trucks and not police cars.

The actors were not in time period costumes. In fact, one actor was a cheese head. And yes, I mean that literally. The guy must have been from Wisconsin, because he had on his Green Bay Packer jersey and a cheese head.

It was a fun event and great to see something besides major festivals or homeless people in Civic Center Park.

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