Tag Archives: celebrity

Tumblr blog – celebrities reading poetry

It’s that subject no one wants to study in English class. It’s that aisle in the bookstore that’s always empty. It’s that stuff that star-crossed lovers spout at each other through open windows.

Explains the author of this Tumblr, called SpeakCelebrity. Offering that poetry isn’t scary, “it’s exciting, and comforting, and new, and old, and it can be clear-cut or all jumbled up, but most of all, it’s human.”

I couldn’t agree more and it’s a delight to browse through the celebrities:

  • Al Pacino reading – “Sonnet 150″ by William Shakespeare
  • Meryl Streep – “In Vain” by Emily Dickinson
  • Morgan Freeman – “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley
  • Ralph Fiennes – “Ode to the Sea” by Pablo Neruda
  • Benedict Cumberbatch – “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll
  • Johnny Depp – “The Girl of the Ghetto” by Jim Morrison

My favorite so far is Benedict Cumberbatch – Sherlock Holmes in the BBC series – and Johnny Depp. Both invite you into the poem and let you forget the world around you.

Dig-in and enjoy - SpeakCelebrity.

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MLB’s All-Star Game – schedule of events (starting today through Tuesday)

July 6-10

 

 

Sunday – July 8

 

Monday – July 9

 

Tuesday – July 10

 

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N.Y. Times interesting profile on Mark Zuckerberg’s wedding

 

The wedding of Mark Zuckerberg to Priscilla Chan last weekend here in the backyard of their $7 million home had all the staging of a carefully orchestrated celebrity event. A publicist for Facebook eagerly offered photos afterward of the beaming couple, who met at Harvard and have dated for much of the last nine years. Well-placed anonymous sources leaked to reporters the dinner menu, which included sushi and Mexican food, and the fact that Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong performed.

***

Ms. Pettibone said she realized Ms. Chan was wearing her design after the designer’s husband pointed it out in a photograph he saw of the new bride. “It’s not our top seller,” Ms. Pettibone said of the $4,700 dress, one of 40 in her bridal collection, in a phone interview. “But it’s respectable.”

All her dresses are made to order so, last week, Ms. Pettibone said she combed through her orders to see where the dress was sold. It was the Little White Dress boutique in Denver, and it was apparently bought by a third party.

the full profileFacebook’s Royal Wedding

 

**In the N.Y. Times article the photo above has 56K in Likes compared to the 1.5 million it has now.

LA Times Festival of Books – largest in the country, includes Stan Lee, John Cusack, Betty White, Anne Rice

If you’re free this weekend, April 21-22, 2012, you might want to attend the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. The largest book festival in the country with more than 140,000 attendees, 400 authors, 300 exhibitors, 100 panels, cooking demonstrations, and poetry readings.

The festival is a free public event held on the campus of University of Southern California (USC).

One note is that the panels require $1 reservations, not sold the day-of. These will be some of the most interesting events, including movie screenings, celebrity authors, and special releases, so it is worth it to get them now before they sell out.

Out of the 120+ panels, here are the ones that tickled our fancy:

  • DIY Revolution
  • Future Books: Media in the Digital Age
  • Disposable Nation: Trash & Consequences
  • Anne Rice in Conversation with Scott Timberg
  • The Nerds Shall Inherit the Earth

We will be there all-day Sunday and hope to see you!

 
To learn more about the festival, here is an article from the LA Times:

What do Sugar Ray Leonard, Judy Blume, Betty White, T.C. Boyle, Rodney King, Joseph Wambaugh and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have in common? They’re just a few of the high-profile personalities appearing this weekend at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

This year’s festival blends familiar features with newer events reflecting what’s hot today in the literary marketplace. While festival goers can…listen to novelist Anne Rice discuss her latest supernatural fiction (Sunday) and Ben Fong-Torres’ memories of his Rolling Stone days (Saturday), actor John Cusack will discuss not a book but his latest book-related project, the film “The Raven,” in which he portrays Edgar Allan Poe, on Saturday.”

The U.S. Postal Service will conduct its opening ceremony for the stamp series “Twentieth-Century poets” Saturday at the Poetry stage; though graphic novels receive their fair share of panel attention, thanks to USC’s School for Cinematic Arts there will also be screenings of a director’s cut of the movie”Watchmen”and the documentary “With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story.”

YouTube opens Partner Program so everyone can make money from their videos

Ever thought of being a movie star or perhaps an internet-sensation?

Well, YouTube just opened it’s doors to you. They have a Partner Program designed to turn you into a skilled creator of popular videos, and get paid for it too:

YouTube has now announced that its expanding the eligibility to the program across the twenty countries that it’s available in, meaning it’s not just those with the popular videos who are invited to join the scheme.

The YouTube Partner Program is currently available in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States.

“We’re excited to provide more creators with the opportunity to become partners and have access to programs and resources to help them be successful on YouTube,” said YouTube in the announcement.

Prior to this, the program was only open to producers of the most popular video content, who could gain additional privileges and choose to run advertising on their videos in return for a share of the spoils. But now it’s open to anyone who’s up for making some dollars from their finely crafted videos.

via The Next Web

So break out your talented toddlers, dogs, and cats, but beware of the coming onslaught of video-advertising.

Hollywood History: A visit to the American Film Institute

We took a trip into the Hollywood Hills to find a rare copy of the original screenplay for A Few Good Men. A favorite film of ours written by the legendary Aaron Sorkin. Rumor has it that the American Film Institute (AFI) has over 5,000 scripts in physical form and not available online.

Our directions took us in the wrong direction and we ended up among the mansions of the Hills overlooking the Institute. As we backtracked down the steep winding roads Amy kept saying “that looks familiar…who do you think lives here?”.

A quick turn down Los Feliz Blvd and we were in, staring at the old Warner Bros. Building and a beautiful campus of trees, walkways, and high-tech equipment.

Old Warner Bros Building

You see the AFI is in part a learning institution offering a 2-year Master of Fine Arts in all the vital filmmaking disciplines: directing, screenwriting, producing, editing, cinematography, and production design.

At the top of the campus sits the Louis B. Mayer Library with a collection 10,000 books, 1,600 transcripts, the previously mentioned scripts, and, my favorite, the 30+ industry periodicals like THR and Variety.

In the library, Amy nestled into an armchair after securing the Sorkin screenplay and I browsed around. It was like Hollywood heaven or more exactly the “Movie” section at Barnes and Noble, but with exotic and rare books, display cases, and that old dustiness of books.

Eventually I got that feeling like I was in the center of the movie business and settled down to catch up on my daily Variety gossip and weekly THR news.

The AFI is one of those rare institutions created by an act of Congress in 1967 and receiving its initial funding, $1.3 million, from the National Endowment for the Arts.

In that capacity its first role was to serve up films for preservation to the Library of Congress, which it has done with over 20,000 titles covering 1893 to the present day.

The second was to bring “together leading artists of the film industry, outstanding educators and young men and women who wish to pursue the 20th century art form as their life’s work,” said President Lyndon B. Johnson upon signing the legislation that created AFI.

Since then the Institute has grown dramatically with an annual budget of $24 million and assets over $30 million. It has established well-known programs such as the AFI 100 Years series where they document the best of 100 years in movies. Covering topics like the 100 best movie quotes, 100 best villains, and the 100 best movie songs.

Then there are the two film festivals, the AFI Fest in Los Angeles and SilverDocs hosted in the AFI Silver Theater in Washington DC.

AFI's Silver Theater in DC

As we were leaving, feeling giddy with all this Hollywood romance, we noticed the wide variety of people hanging out around the campus. The diversity was incredible and probably due in part to two of AFI’s best programs the Catalyst Workshop, designed to bring experts in Science and Engineering into screenwriting, and the Directing Workshop for Women, both desperately needed in the industry.

It was a great experience for us and we definitely recommend it the next time you are in Los Angeles. Oh, and make sure to cap off the trip by visiting one of the local restaurants because you will certainly be dining with filmmakers.

[photos: randomduck-silver, Marcus Vegas-hollywood sign]

My Guide To The Sundance Film Festival


The first thing you need to know about Sundance is that it’s cheaper than you think. If you are like me then you imagined the event being all exclusive and haughty. On the contrary, the festival is low cost, lodging is plentiful, and the flights and car rentals are among the cheapest in America.

The only thing you will end up paying for is the skiing, but you get what you give. The slopes around Park City, Utah are top notch. As a former Winter Olympics site Park City has everything you will need.

The Sundance Film Festival

The Festival runs over two weekends with a slower tempo during the week, from January 20th-30th. Opening weekend is when the stars come out and the crowds reach their peak. By closing weekend the crowds have left and there is still a full range of events. Most people tend to favor one weekend over the other. While we have friends who favor the celebrity, “seen and be seen” vibe of opening weekend, we prefer the “down to the movies” vibe of closing weekend.

This is especially exciting for those of you movie buffs. Each screening has on hand an ensemble of cast members and crew, though it is most often the director and/or producer in attendance. After the movie “screening” is over they offer you a personal in-depth behind the scenes followed by a Q/A session. Considering the movie list this can range from topics about LGBT to terrorism to Rock n Roll and more. To me it represents an experience like no other and has forever turned me on the to idea of a movie festival.

Tickets to each show are $15. You can pre-buy or purchase the day-of. This part is probably the most confusing since it’s cold and your in a strange new town and the thought of waking up early to get a ticket is strange. Yet, that is what everybody does and it works this way because of the nature of the festival. All year Sundance accepts movies then in mid-December releases the one’s they will be showing at the festival. At this point they are still unknown, never-before-seen, pre-critic, and so on. This means that everyone has a blast guessing which ones will win Oscar nods and which ones will sit on a dusty shelf for a 1,000 years.

These guesses quickly culminate into a few sold out shows weeks before the festival and before anyone has seen the actual movie. These mostly gather around well known actor/director combos. As the festival draws nearer more clips are released, press segments done, and even a few pirated releases. Eventually culminating in the Festival where everyone, including the insiders and well-informed, are still unsure of the best movies. All are stuck buying tickets the day-of. At first I found this the most confusing but after attending the festival I found it enjoyable to get caught up in the mystery.

The thing is that all the films are personally selected to be amazing (something like 200 out of several thousand) so it’s hard to go wrong. Plus, each movie will be playing several times at several locations. Park City has movie theaters and screening locations all over (like the Library) so you won’t miss anything. I say give up on planning and just have some fun playing critic!

Park City Lodging

Finding a place to stay is the most challenging part of the trip. It’s not because places are hard to find but because there are so many options. Stay downtown and rely on the free public transportation. Choose a lodge next to a ski resort and get the benefit of easy skiing. Pick a spot outside of town next to the Whole Foods and get around by rental car.

I favor the rental car option because it makes getting from the Salt Lake City airport to Park City easy. The cost of a shuttle is about $40 and the trip is about 40 minutes. Whereas the rental car is $40/day and split amongst 3-4 people it makes for some nice, warm rides to/from everything.

My favorite spot is with All Seasons Resorts which are these new townhouse resorts built for the Winter Olympics. They have every amenity you need and some even look like a Winter Cabin. They offer a 2-for-1 deal and so for 4 nights and 6 people it ends up costing us $200/person. A slick deal for a party cabin :)

The Sundance.org website offers many deals too but they all boil down to the three options presented above.  Closest to downtown is most expensive, ski resorts high to medium, and our just outside of town medium to low pricing. But, did I mention the last option is very close to a Whole Foods, can you tell I obsess about food..

Flights, Transportation, Other

The only place to fly into (unless you’re loaded) is Salt Lake City airport (SLC). Flight are reasonably priced since Salt Lake is a western hub for most airlines. The drive is about 40 minutes through snow filled mountains (possibly a favorite part of the trip). Getting around Park City is relatively easy. They have free shuttles running everywhere. The only hiccups are when rain/snow get involved which makes waiting outdoors for a ride a slushy cold event.

Parking a rental car can sometimes be a pain. There are limited spaces available and they do try to discourage everyone from driving. Still I never have any problems and usually find it more convenient (as long as I carpool!). Especially, considering that the theaters are not in one place and well, it’s cold out.

Other than the movies there are salons and parties. Downtown there are talks with experts and the like. On opening weekend is an opening party and closing weekend has the awards show and the closing party. All are fun but ticketed events (sometimes hard to find). If you’re interested in these events it is best to purchase a ticket package that includes these events.

Well, that is pretty much it. The only other recommendation I have is to try and visit the actual Sundance Resort. It’s about 30 mins away from downtown and exists as a ski lodge and artist retreat. It was rescued by Robert Redford decades ago and serves as the home and inspiration for the festival. The scenery is beautiful and the creative vibe is awesome!

photos from sundance.org and allseasonsresortlodging.com

Government 2.0: The State of the Meme

Meme – An idea or pattern of thought that “replicates” like a virus by being passed along from one thinker to another

As an idea or pattern of thought government 2.0 (gov 2.0) is still being defined and debated. To some it is merely an extension of Web 2.0, to others it is the serious work of transparency and greater citizen involvement through open data.

Let’s dig into this meme…

Gov 2.0 Summit and Expo

Wow, what an event this was. Tim O’Reilly and his leadership team put on quite a show. I was in attendance on a press badge and was fortunate enough to view the events in the crowd and on the inside.

The event signaled a shock to the Washington DC government crowd. For a long time these beltway folks had been toiling away under the radar before an unsupportive administration. Now, they are in position to make some major moves in the federal sphere.

On the same level of shock, Silicon Valley and the O’Reilly team faced some hard facts about the beltway. Their can-do attitude and forceful energy stepped on one too many toes. And, I think it safe to say turned many off because of the government inefficiencies and roadblocks in the way of innovation and reform.

I saw a little east coast, west coast rivalry pop-up. Fortunately, the show went on and many from around the country attended the event, had a blast, and completely missed out on the kerfuffles.

For an interesting review on the event check out Amy Senger’s ‘The Gov 2.0 Showdown

Celebrity Status

Gov 2.0 has yet to make it big. A google news search shows that only 222 articles mention the term. Few large media outlets are talking about the movement. It has yet to penetrate the consciousness of the average person and more importantly the middle manager.

A google blog search reveals over 40,000 hits. Apparently there is some viral conversations taking place with many thinkers opining on the topic.

The Definition

Is it about personal brands, twitter, and facebook. Or, as Tim O’Reilly says its about government as a platform. Maybe, its about Enterprise 2.0 as Professor Andy McAfee and Andrea Baker have been talking about.

We have yet to come to a solid agreement about the definition. In fact, much of the discussion revolves around each blogger stating their own definition or throwing stones at another’s.

It does appear that gov 2.0 is infiltrating every level of government. With each office incorporating social media, cloud computing, and open API’s into their job buckets. Which leaves some remaining tough questions about openness, transparency, and the role of government in all of this.

Leadership

In an age of personal brands it appears that everyone is a leader in the space of government 2.0. Everyone has done everything and is an expert in all. Just a few years of experience and a blog post published on a prominent website, make you a star.

Sarcasm aside government 2.0 is hard work. It takes community building, relationships, coding, networking, promotion, and more. The most striking leaders in this space are those performing nearly all of those roles. Which means they are often hidden from popular view but deeply influential in their spheres of work.

This hidden work combined with the lack of celebrity status has left a clear opening for profiteers. Many are hoping to be the first to break the story and claim success. A challenge to ethical underpinnings of this new community.

Community

In my opinion the single largest effect of Tim O’Reilly’s move into the gov 2.0 world is to bring all of this hard work to a broader audience. Personally, I feel like I am now connected to every state government, city government, regional federal office, all in addition to the existing Washington DC offices, which are legion.

Beyond that are hundreds of NGO’s on both sides of the aisle and in the middle are pushing agendas, uncovering scandals, and playing with data.

The community encompasses so many folks that it is going to be tough to wrangle all of them together.

The Future

Is very bright. We appear to have at least three more years of enlightened tech policy coming out of the white house. Which filters down to every level of public and private work. Big contracts and big corporations are starting to take notice and follow the money.

The recession too is providing an opportunity for gov 2.0. The realization of improved efficiency and cost savings are helping to overcome transient cultural barriers. I’ve even seen stimulus dollars used for gov 2.0 work (blackberries for Baltimore PD).

Behind the scenes the back channels and ego battles are just as interesting. Players are being challenged, camps are forming, and feelings are being hurt. The traditional way of doing business is being challenged with women asserting their rights in tech. Average folks who normally have no voice are able to trumpet their issues across new communication mediums to make their voice heard and responded too.

I look forward to more rapid growth, another gov 2.0 event, and ever more kerfuffles. I hope the progress and reform continues. I hope the west coast can help break the stranglehold the major defense companies have on government work. I hope that our community overcomes its own ego and looks to the common good.

This piece comes as a follow on to Andrew McAfee’s, Enterprise 2.0: The State of the Meme, written over 3 years ago in June 2006

Twitter is way better than anything else

I love you Twitter. You are the new hotness. I don’t care what other people say about you. I don’t even care if my business partner thinks that time apart from you is beneficial. This is your time, your moment.

Heck, even US News loves you. You recently made the list of “50 ways to improve your life”. And, in so doing you were called: “increasingly popular and addictive”. (yep, found via twitter thru @tigerninety and written by @papertrailblog).

Now even the celebrities love you. Your newest friends are @jimmyfallon, @tinafey, @mchammer, @greggrunberg, @al_gore, @the_real_shaq, @lancearmstrong, @breagrant, @johncleese, and my personal favorite @hodgman.

If that wasn’t enough, all of your competitors are just not cutting it. Each one goes for your jugular only to settle for some small piece of the pie. You are even rumored to be on your second round of funding in a deep recession. That is because you are way better than anything else.

This is partly due to being the first on the block (which I am not even sure you were). It’s also partly due to your simplicity. But, and I mean but, I attribute your success to a little discussed fact.

You are the first great success of the mobile web. Your predecessor is the Blackberry. The mobile device that brought mobile email to painstaking heights of popularity and necessity (/wave prez obama). Your successor may come around, but until it does, you are king of the mobile web hill.

Now that you are in that moment, all of your detractors are singing death and destruction mightily. Clinging to anything that will allow them to avoid your wiles. You are not the fad, silly tool they think you are. You are not just a mobile facebook or a place for “extraverts to lord over the intraverts”. Nor are you just a place for “social media experts” to bask in their own glory.

What you really are is harder to say. As the first true child of the mobile web you are changing the game as you play it. Your question of “what are you doing right now?” is not even important anymore. None of your strongest users even answer that question anymore. They have moved onto taking the richness of their lives and posting that instead. They post photos, links, jokes, pithy thoughts, dinner plans, current events, conversations, and they create accounts for their animals (<3 @fuzzles).

That would be impressive all by its lonesome. It would be extremely impressive for a “website”. But one cannot talk about your glory without talking about your inextricable connection with mobility. As @stoweboyd once told me, mobility is the future of the web. We are no longer sitting at our “command center” with our clunky desktop. We are on the go and joining that “world consciousness” that my roommate surmises is the next evolution in our spirituality.

This mobility is really the hardest to explain. It is, well, umm, just amazing. It is incredible. Ok, I’m obvsiously struggling to define this, so instead let me tell you a story. A weird story, really, but it resonates with me and stirs up fondness for you:

There I was walking down the street and right as I took a step into the street, a car comes flying by. It was going fast, I mean real fast for the city, like 60-70mph. Which is death defying speeds in Washington DC, where blocks are tiny and going 40 feels like ur flying. In an instant I step back before 3 cop cars come flying down after this perp. What an amazing moment. Witness a car chase. Nearly die. Contemplate life and being lucky. What do I do with this moment?

In the “old world” I would call a close friend and bore them with this simple story. Or, I could go home and write a journal entry exploring my life and how lucky I am to be alive. Yeah, been there done that.

In the world of Twitter, I share the moment. I instantly share the moment with hundreds of friends. I feel relieved, I feel a community, and I don’t feel alone in a panicked moment. I get multiple replies instantly too.

Strange, I know. But, in that moment I realized what the mobile web meant to me. It was an instant connection. A tie with the world at large that never existed before. An ability to stay connected anytime with everyone important in my life.

Let’s utilize some academia for this point. Have you heard of the “aggregate phenomenon”?

The Japanese sociologist Mizuko Ito first noticed it with mobile phones: lovers who were working in different cities would send text messages back and forth all night — tiny updates like “enjoying a glass of wine now” or “watching TV while lying on the couch.” They were doing it partly because talking for hours on mobile phones isn’t very comfortable (or affordable). But they also discovered that the little Ping-Ponging messages felt even more intimate than a phone call. [1]
That’s right: “felt even more intimate”. These silly little messages bring me closer to my friends/family.
“It’s an aggregate phenomenon,” Marc Davis, a chief scientist at Yahoo and former professor of information science at the University of California at Berkeley, told me. “No message is the single-most-important message. It’s sort of like when you’re sitting with someone and you look over and they smile at you. You’re sitting here reading the paper, and you’re doing your side-by-side thing, and you just sort of let people know you’re aware of them.” [1]

Let’s just break the space/time continuum and let me connect with my family back in California and my friends in cities all over the world.

Finally, the capstone for this love story. Time. It’s so valuable. I just don’t have enough of it for everyone in my life. Twitter, without you there would be no way for me to maintain my Dunbar number (a theory that humans can only maintain a max of 150 social relationships) let alone the 500+ people I connect with regularly.

But, with you I can and do. I develop bonds with over 500+ people on a consistent basis. I do it with little or no effort. I even save time. Which allows me to turn around and spend that time on more quality things in my life. Like pretty girls or writing inane posts on this site.

Written by the @robotchampion