Tuesday, May 30, 2006

sonic manicures

here's my latest bajillion dollar idea, inspired by having just received my very first manicure last weekend. (this is the sort of thing that happens when dear friends get married.)

what if you could choose a nail polish that omitted music, very softly, the entire time it coated your nails? this way you could sit at work or ride the train with your hand casually resting on the side of your head near your ear and be listening to beautiful music (or death metal) at the same time. as your nails started to chip you might hear noises like cd glitches or record skips. and it'd be a great pickup line, "hey, is that erik satie coming from your fingernails??" or you could write your OWN music and then wear it around on your hands. and holding hands could bring forth the purest harmonies, or even lovely dissonance. (if your partner wasn't into wearing a color on her/his nails, there's always the option for clear polish.)

i really think i'm on to something here. any backers out there?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

art + soccer = berlin

i know, i really mean football. but not for the title of the post, ok?

by way of the sonambiente 2006 festival berlin's about to become one giant art installation (as if it's not already). "the festival for seeing and hearing" will take place from june 1 - july 16 (or 1.6 - 16.7, for those of you over there already) and will incorporate just about every art form you can think of including lots of sound-based work. the festival spans the length of the world cup which is of course happening all over germany during that time. apparently much of the festival's artwork will be directly (or indirectly) involved with the games. sounds to me like a time to meet (artist) friends.

here's a fun
ny article about the relationship between music and the world cup.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

sewasdee, spot!

this is hardly breaking news, but seems worth noting in this space. a thai dog groomer has started Dog Radio Thailand - a web-based radio station for dogs. His reasoning - music puts dogs into better moods. and apparently contemporary thai pop music is especially soothing for our canine friends.

this doesn't really seem like rocket science - when i spent a lot of time with horses the same theory held true (though not about thai pop music. looking back though i'm not sure the classic rock station that was always playing at the barn where i rode was actually very beneficial. a horse can only hear 'hotel california' so many times before developing an attitude problem, i'd wager.) and there have been hundreds of studies at all levels of scientific research exploring the notion that classical music helps plants grow faster. and to go ahead and state the obvious - we humans tend to gravitate toward musical sources as well, and they often make us very happy.

so obviously DRT is hardly a ground-breaking new innovation in the world of pet psychology or social engineering. in fact for now it's basically a thai pop station on the web with the added benefit that around 9 am the thai word for hello, "sewasdee," is repeated over and over. other programs are in development, some of which will have djs talking to their dog-audience. for now, if you're curious about the pop scene in thailand here's as good a place as any to eavesdrop and hear for yourself. and you just imagine all the thai pooches out there who're listening at the same time. all those wagging tails...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

audio boot camp

feel like immersing yourself in a full-on "how to make audio documentaries" program this summer? then you're in luck; the hearing is believing summer institute program at the lovely center for documentary studies (pictured above, and where i spent a couple of very happy years as 'public programs coordinator' how ever many years ago) has a some vacancies they're looking for a few audio-hungry candidates to fill.

here's your chance to spend a week living, breathing and i bet even EATING documentary radio. you'll learn about recording, mixing and writing, engage in discussions ranging from ethics in doc. work to the future of radio (and probably the p-word too) and you'll even produce your own short audio doc over the course of the week. the course will be led by the inimitable john biewen, and a couple other guest producers (like one of my heros - chris brookes) will make appearances as well.

it's a leeeeeetle bit pricey, so start your bake sales now. but know that this opportunity is totally unique, will most likely help you get a job in public radio if this is the sort of thing you're hoping for, and i bet will reward you in further ways untold for now.

email april walton if you're interested, or call the CDS to register: 919.660.3670. (and tell them hello from me!)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


THINK: bohemian rhapsody lovingly deconstructed and radio that makes you FEEL things. like sick to your stomach. in other words... LISSENUPseven!

sunday may 21
corbett vs. dempsey (1120 n. ashland / 773.278.1664)
MORE WHEN: 8 pm until about 10 pm. listening starts around 8:30
feel free to bring a beverage / non-messy snacks provided
ALSO: you're also welcome to tell/bring your friends. and something comfortable to sit on, if this sort of thing concerns you.


i just spent a week in vienna, attending the international features conference and kicking around the city for a few extra days. during the conference i basically spent five days straight listening to radio features from all over (mostly europe) and my ears are still ringing from the experience. pleasantly, that is.

european radio features are a different breed altogther from much of what we listen to / think of as "documentary" in the
states. to begin with - they're long. usually 45 minutes or so (compared this with the longest you'll hear on NPR - 22 minutes) and they don't always, uh, move along at the swiftest pace. i happen to often love this exact aspect of these audio works, but they're definitely not for everyone's ears. what i mostly admire about these features is the respect and importance they give to the use of sound in a story - it's a crucial element of these productions in ways it's just...not...in american radio. actually i wrote a lot about attending last year's conference in romania, so if you're interested to learn more about all of this (or see a few pix from romania) check out this essay.

this year's IFC was hosted by the (quite styley, see above)
ORF,which is in some ways austria's equivalent of NPR. except for the fact that the government actually supports ORF, totally. (take a second to ponder that one.) over the course of the conference i heard radio from countries including: norway, denmark, estonia, slovakia, russia, germany, finland, ireland, and at least a half dozen others. no, i'm not a crazed polyglot - english transcripts were provided for each piece. my favorite story might have been either the belgian one about a community of elderly men and women who gather in the zoo everyday to feed the ducks or the short polish soundscape/ history lesson about a now-deserted shipyard. but ask me tomorrow and maybe i'll say it was the french one about the psychotic ward. or the other belgian one, about the blind guy. or maybe the romanian one about the villagers who are resisting selling their land to the canadian corporation that's digging for gold in their backyards.

how many stories can one head hold, anyway?

p.s. during a session about podcasting/new technologies, i heard this kind of creepy but equally fascinating and spot-on advice:
forget control / learn social engineering

p.p.s. vienna has th
e best small shop window displays.
i don't actually remember what this shop was selling, but it's my favorite window