Studs’ Place offers a little-seen angle on a medium and an icon

September 11, 2012 1 comment

Last week I was fortunate to attend the Museum of Broadcast Communications’ screening of Studs’ Place, a short-lived TV program from 1950-51 starring an ensemble led by Chicago media icon Studs Terkel. Over at This Was Television, I’ve written a reflection on the show and how it fits with Studs’s legacy and with the history of television’s earliest days:

It’s impossible to grow up in Chicago in the 20th century, as I did, without at least glimpsing the legacy of Louis “Studs” Terkel, even if it’s only his vapor trails in your periphery. As beloved by his adopted hometown as any local media figure anywhere in America, the mononymous Studs was a broadcasting fixture for half a century, inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame posthumously in 2009. He was a prolific author, oral historian, and champion of economic justice. He was a scene-stealing sportswriter in John Sayles’s 1988 film Eight Men Out.

He was also, briefly, a TV star.

Continue reading at This Was Television.

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How to Win Your Job Fair

It’s the end of the school year, the time when a young go-getter’s thoughts turn to one thing: How the hell am I going to pay my rent? As a veteran of many a job fair in my day, I’ve assembled a dozen helpful tips for job seekers over at The Billfold. Here’s an excerpt:

Universities, career counselors, and makers of corporate-branded pens all agree: Job fairs are one of the most effective channels for finding new employment. With these handy and reliable tips, you’ll learn how to stand out from the crowd—or at least, from those in that crowd who have not also read these tips.

  1. Identify which companies you’d like to work for. Then, only speak with the other companies, so that your targets will get jealous and want you more.
  1. Master your “elevator pitch,” which consists of standing stiffly and avoiding eye contact for thirty seconds of awkward silence.

Read the full piece at The Billfold.

Northwestern MBA students put the “fun” in fundamental economics

This weekend I had the pleasure to attend “Special K!” an all-singing, all-dancing affair mounted by students at Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Now, I got a lot out of business school – but I also attended part-time, and didn’t absorb the enviable level of culture and camaraderie on display here. And I sure never partook in any project quite so exuberant as this.

Before the show, I wrote about the show, and its three-decade history of entertaining Evanston, for Gapers Block:

Let’s face it: When you think of mirth, excitement, and song-and-dance numbers, you think of MBAs.

At least, that’s the hope of the more than 80 Northwestern graduate students behind the comic variety show Special K! Produced and performed by matriculators at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management, the revue hits the stage this week at the Norris University Center in Evanston. Nightly shows were from May 2-5, with two shows tonight. The assemblage of amusements — including live-action and digital skits, song parodies, a short film, and a riff on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” segment — represents the culmination of months of extracurricular work.

Continue reading at Gapers Block.

What The Avengers can teach you about writing

May 4, 2012 1 comment

Facing a writer’s block the size of Galactus? Flummoxed by a project as tricky as Loki? Perhaps my new piece for Ragan.com, excerpted below, can help:

As a writer, you probably think your job doesn’t share too much in common with the work of a team of spandex-clad super-beings who protect the world against megalomaniacal trickster fiends. And most likely, you’re 90 percent right (give or take your comfort with spandex).

Believe it or not, we can all learn a few things from “The Avengers.” With Marvel Comics’ premier supergroup hitting American movie theaters on May 4, those lessons are front and center. Here are a few nuggets of professional advice courtesy of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

To discover these world-and-prose-saving tips from Captain America, Iron Man, The Hulk, and more, continue reading at Ragan’s PR Daily.

5 copywriting tools that have nothing to do with copywriting

January 20, 2012 Leave a comment

So, your website is rocking a pristine design, and your search engine optimization has been fine-tuned to perfection (mostly). Now all you need is the scintillating content that’ll convert visitors into customers and customers into advocates.

But cranking out crisp, engaging copy every day isn’t easy (at least, not until SEO-generating algorithms gain sentience and take over the planet). Every content creator stumbles into a rut now and then.

Often, the trick to revivifying your writerly instincts is as simple as changing your perspective. Think of it like mental crop rotation—mixing up your creative nutrients to keep your brain matter fertile. Here are a few tools I use to stay sharp.

Read more…

Review: Shark Tank, “Season 4 Week 4”

October 8, 2012 1 comment

Two or three different shows exist within Shark Tank, and a solid episode uses its segmented structure to balance and benefit from the strengths of each. “Season 4 Week 4” follows this approach, with the contrast standing out most sharply between the first and last segments.

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The fundamental flaw of neoliberalism

I tweeted about this Fast Co. piece briefly when I first read it a couple of weeks ago, but I wanted to insert it into the record more formally in the wake of the mishegas at the University of Virginia.

The article mostly discusses how success often requires shifting among a variety of strategies, and how even suboptimal ones can generate progress. But when it turns its attention to the political process, it (inadvertently) gets at the heart of why the “run government like a business” trope is utterly empty.

Read more…

Reading Roundup: Everyone Hates Your Ads Edition

May 26, 2012 2 comments

1. Meet the new media ad-based pay model dilemma, same as the old media ad-based pay model dilemma.

Why has Google Plus failed to make a dent in Americans’ social media habits? According to the terrific tech writer Alexis Madrigal, it’s because Mountain View got its approach to social completely backwards. In The Atlantic, he prescribes a solution based around embracing the corners of the Googleplex that users adore but the company ignores.

If G+ is on nobody’s agenda, Facebook has the opposite problem. The din surrounding its IPO—and subsequent share price plummet—is inescapable. Chalking up a $100 billion valuation has a way of intensifying the spotlight, particularly from those skeptical that you can sustainably monetize a service devoted to checking forgotten birthdays and posting grammatically catastrophic rants inspired by Fox News.

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Why the urge to align with the good guys persists, even when the good guys don’t

May 25, 2012 1 comment

Alyssa Rosenberg has a characteristically thoughtful post on the trend of TV shows which return to the clear designations of good guys and bad guys. It’s got me thinking about how some of my favorite characters who fit this bill actively serve as anti-anti-heroes within their own morally grey universes.

Sometimes we need the stark simplicity of white hats and black hats—if only to remind us of the first principles on each side, the values that continue to give “good” and “evil” meaning and set the boundaries inside which the grey areas exist. Just as we instinctively search our stories for the people to root for, sometimes, so too do those stories’ inhabitants.

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Mad Men: “Christmas Waltz” – The Kinsey Fail

May 22, 2012 1 comment

The bad news is, the senior partners here at the Barker Chappell Daglas Reviewing Firm must forego our holiday bonuses this year. Turns out there’s not as much money in writing online for free as you’d think.

The good news is, that won’t diminish our commitment to bring you our takes on this week’s episode! Put a quarter in the jukebox, don your best Jimmy Durante fedora, and enjoy this week’s installment of the Mad Men roundtable review after the jump.

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Categories: Pop Culture, TV