Saturday, January 24, 2009

Belated happy inauguration day

In honor of Obama's inauguration the other day I went to and made these images in the style of candidate Barack's famous "Hope" poster.

Apparently a lot of people have had the same idea. I keep seeing Facebook friends who have changed their personal photos to Obamicons, and an email from the Obamicon site tells me it's catching on:

"We knew we had a fun idea when it hit us, but we had no idea we'd get this kind of response. In less than two weeks, we've had millions of page views and nearly 200,000 Obamicons have been created--and activity grows by the hour."

I enjoyed watching part of the ceremonies and parade at Mich's house, over a cup of coffee and a turkey sandwich, and Michelle and I watched the Tivo'd Obama speech at home later Tuesday night. Very good, I thought: just the right stern, serious tone to lay out the problems and yet with a believable sense of can-do optimism. (Aretha, sadly, was not as awesome as her hat.)

A bunch of friends went to Washington for the inauguration. My friend Jason, who lives there, spent the day on the Mall and posted some great photos over at his site, The Cooler. Check them out.

Did you watch the ceremonies? Your thoughts? Also, if you have your own Obama-style photo, please send it along; we'll post an M&M-icon gallery.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Crappy things come in threes

The announcement on Jan. 9 that the Seattle P-I, my place of employ, will likely close in 60 days, was accompanied by a deep burning sensation in my chest that lasted for three or four days. My best description for it would be a "heart-attacky feeling."

I had to cancel the doctor's appointment I already had scheduled for Jan. 9 because all of a sudden I was just too busy for that kind of thing, but I had my make up visit this past Friday. The news was not good: I have high blood pressure now for the first time in my life -- literally, I have never exceeded 120/80 blood pressure.

Now my blood pressure is what the doctors officially call "very high." So I find myself thinking for the first time about cutting salt from my diet, and thinking more seriously about dropping these 15 pounds I've picked up since Mark got sick.

Some surprises: Dang, my favorite cereal, Basic 4, is high in salt. Man, sardines, oatmeal, tuna, flour tortillas -- some of my most basic food groups, all are secret salt bombs. Dang. OTOH, Jelly Beans: No salt. And Quaker makes a low salt oatmeal. I'll adjust.

Anyways, I came across a great heart healthy resource online tonite, Eating Well has a great lineup of recipes for High BP cretins like me.

Know of any other great online resources for nonsuck low sodium recipes? Post in the comments please!

Oh, and what was the third crappy thing that happened, besides the High Blood Pressure and the announcement that the PI is being put up for sale, and could close if a buyer isn't found?

Saturday I got my federally-required WARN notice, telling me that I'm probably jobless by April 1 at the latest.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Save the News

Last night Mark and I went to the Save the News event at Oddfellows Bar in the trendy Capitol Hill area of Seattle. It was organized by local blogger Dylan Wilbanks of metblogs and attended by about 25 bloggers and interested persons.

It was cool to meet a lot of the local bloggers working at Seattlest and Metblogs and other local independent publishers. We met Clark of, I met again Cory Bergman, who runs and a number of other local blogs, I briefly met Justin who runs a collection of blogs here, Dylan from Metblogs, and Mike, the editor of Seattlest.

Everybody drank some beers and then Dylan organized a group of people to organize an event for sometime next month to discuss the future of news in Seattle. A wiki and a Twitter feed have since been set up.

Here's a couple photos of the event.

Happy Birthday, Gina!

We interrupt this long lull in blogging to post birthday wishes for daughter No. 1, Gina Matassa, who turns 16 today. Incredible.

A year ago I noted Gina's smarts, independence, writing ability and interest in movies. All that has deepened in the past year, as she and her friends filmed a remake of "Sweeney Todd" (unfinished), wrote and filmed an original movie, "Stella" (in editing now), and began work on another screenplay, as yet untitled. She can talk movies all day and identify composers mid-film without seeing the credits, as she did last week when we saw "Revolutionary Road" (score by Thomas Newman, it turns out). She and Michelle have really connected on the craft and pursuit of screenwriting. Gina's favorite Christmas present: Charlie Kaufman's original screenplay of "Synecdoche, New York."

She also has turned into quite the cook. With occasional help from her sister Franny or from Michelle or me, Gina whips up delicious and healthy meals, often without a recipe or in an untried cuisine. A couple of weeks ago, a terrific Thai dinner. (Gina just now texted me from school to say she was eating an "awesome pasta salad" that she made herself for lunch.)

As my dad would have said after his trademark birthday question ("How does it feel to be 16?"), "What a beautiful age!"

It is. And as Grandma Rita always says, "Live it up!"

Do that, Gina. Happy Birthday, sweet girl.

(I took the above photo of Gina last June while they were shooting a scene for "Stella" in Pioneer Square.)

Monday, January 12, 2009

A screenwriter's guide to working through crisis

You may or may not know by now that the SeattlePI -- my employer -- is being sold. If no one buys it, it could shut down. Or maybe Hearst will decide to take it online-only -- that's up in the air.

Natch everyone in the newsroom is drifting around in shock. We were told today that the WARN notices alerting us that our jobs could end in 60 days were being sent to all of us in the mail. Great.

So I'm blowing time and trying to forget about everything by reading the backlog of stuff in my Google Reader, when I come across this post in one of my favorite screenwriting blogs, SchererJoyOfWriting (Sherer is the writer's name).

"Okay, your protagonist’s Ordinary World has been shaken to its very foundation ... Is your Hero afraid? Scared? Of course she is. fear? ... She must handle that fear. But how?"

Okay, I think. You got my attention.

"1. Your Hero must take small steps. The New World your protagonist finds herself in can seem overwhelming at first and can almost feel like a flight or fight-response. Don’t let the Hero take too large a step right from the git-go."

At this point, I'm licking the pencil tip and taking notes. No ... Big ... Steps. Got it. Next?

"2. Get your Hero some concrete and positive motivation. Here is where your Mentor can play an important part in pushing the Hero in the right direction. This sets the stage so the Hero feels she needs to do something."

There's more ... all of it feeling a bit like the steps that a "hero" in a movie might take to solve problems seems like it doubles pretty well as good advice for people who just lost their job or whose "Ordinary World has been shaken to its very foundation" in some way. Read on here.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Two Guys and their Wild Lion

Man, no wonder this video was the most watched video on MSNBC last year. It's footage of two guys who raised a pet lion from the time it was a little baby until they had to release it into the wild after it got too big. A year later, they wanted to visit their lion, but they were told it had gone native -- it was the head of a pride, and was dangerous to visit. Here's the video of their reunion. Awesome. Love the music! Thanks to Lost Remote for the link.