Mark Bult Design: San Francisco, CA, Established 1988

Web design and development for small and large business, e-commerce, b2b, b2c, SAAS, and community websites. User experience design and usability testing.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thursday top 5+1

Cultural Revolution Artifacts
An awesome Flickr collection.

Surreal photos
by Flickr member yves.lecoq

The Dreaded Question
A short comic by Kurt Huggins and Zelda Devon.

Randy Rhoads: Last Train Home documentary trailer leaked
When I was 13 I first heard the song “Flying High Again” and my life was changed forever. I quickly became a huge Ozzy Osbourne fan, and one day I asked my fiend Dave, who had introduced me to this music, who the guitar player was. He told me about Randy Rhoads, who had just recently died in a plane crash. I was dumbstruck. I couldn’t believe I would never hear any more music from this amazing musician. Even after his death, Randy Rhoads continued to be a massive influence on thousands of musicians, and the two classic albums he co-wrote and performed on with Ozzy are two of the most popular rock albums to this day. An indie documentary has been in the works for several years, and I recently came across an early trailer. The producer hadn’t secured all the photo and music rights yet when this trailer was leaked, so it might get taken down. Watch it now, before it’s gone.

I may have posted this video before, but this guy is so rad I had to do it again. You’re welcome.

Burning Man photo policy controversy
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) (which Velma and I support financially and otherwise) has criticized the highly restrictive photo policy of the Burning Man organization (Velma and I are heading to BM in a week or so), which has responded with a thoughtful rebuttal and an honest plea for ongoing discourse and suggestions of ways to evolve the policy. Plenty of comments have ensued over at the BM rebuttal, as well as from the readers of BoingBoing. Strangely, the EFF’s original post doesn’t seem to allow comments. I have been aware of the restrictive photo policy since my first year of attendance, since I read about it in advance. It’s a tad complicated, but amounts to this: You can only take photos for “personal use,” and any commercial use or published use must be okayed by, and will be administered by, the BM org. This is done, so BM says (and I believe), to protect 1) the BM logo, name, et al from being tarnished by commercialization, and 2) to protect BM participants from having their picture unwittingly appear (in the nude, for example) in an ad, magazine, porn website, etc. Some critics argue that an unstated third reason is so that the BM org can be the only one to commercialize the name and therefore reap the financial benefits. I’m generally not in favor of policies that are as vastly worded as BM’s, but this is indeed a special event and a special case, and as I’ve never intended to use any of my BM photos for commercial purposes, it hasn’t been all that important to me to find injustice in a policy that I’m grateful protects me just as much as it inhibits me. I am, however, glad to see the discourse and the sincerity with which BM seems to be asking for help in improving the policy in future while still providing the protections it values.

The weekly Thursday Top 5 lists the five most interesting, funny, outrageous, cool, or simply strange things of the week. It is intended for distractionary purposes only. Do not take orally. If ingested, seek a doctor’s advice. If you like it, share it with others, or check out the long list of previous entries.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thursday Top 5

From Comic Book Panel to Screen
Just a week after I watched Hot Fuzz (hilarious, 5 stars) and learned that the director is the guy who’s adapting my favorite comic into a movie (Edgar Wright, who also did the amazing Shaun of the Dead), I randomly came across a film site featuring a video from the shooting of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. They’re regularly posting videos (nine so far) at Bonus points on the one above, since it also features Chris Murphy of one of my favorite bands: Sloan! I can’t wait to see this film.

Wreckage of My Past: The Story of Ozzy Osbourne trailer
A documentary being produced by a company started by Ozzy’s son Jack, due in 2010. Directed by Mike Piscitelli, and written and produced by Jordan Tappis.

Make a moving photo
Like in the Harry Potter movies.

Take On Me: literal video version
Awesome parody of an ’80s modern rock hit by A-Ha.

Flying with a Cat: From Sweden to SF
Anders, who works at and recently moved from Sweden to San Francisco, and brought his cat Tailer along. He produced a six-part series about his experience flying internationally with a cat, including tips and an interview with a vet.

The weekly Thursday Top 5 lists the five most interesting, funny, outrageous, cool, or simply strange things of the week. It is intended for distractionary purposes only. Do not take orally. If ingested, seek a doctor’s advice. If you like it, share it with others, or check out the long list of previous entries.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thursday Top 5

Joss Whedon on Humanism
The popular writer and director of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Firefly” fame recently received the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism, previously awarded to people such as writer Salman Rushdie and Greg Graffin of the punk band Bad Religion. The above five-minute snippet comes from his speech which was broadcast on the Cambridge Forum, but sadly their web presence is ridiculously antiquated (they offer cassettes of their programs, so that should give you an idea). A good article on the event (with pictures) is available from the Harvard Humanist(s): Joss Whedon Slays Sold-Out Crowd.

What’s in your box of Kleenex?
Greenpeace offers a paper towel, napkin, tissue, and toilet paper buying guide that rates brands and gives data on post-consumer recycled content, overall recycled content, and whether chlorine is used to bleach the pulp. View it online, or download and print. They also have an iPhone app so you can look brands up while shopping.

Yuto Miyazawa plays “Crazy Train” on Ellen
Okay, so maybe his pronunciation of the English lyrics is not so impressive, but his guitar playing is pretty good for an nine-year old. Watch for the surprise ending. [5:59 min]

Jake and Amir
Okay, I admit it: I can’t help laughing at Jake and Amir. One of my favorite internet shows.

Little Red Riding Hood reinterpreted
In a very cool infographic style.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Thursday Top 5

How Peeps are made
Photos: Inside Just Born, the manufacturing factory of marshmallow Peeps in Bethlehem, PA.

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone on “The Colbert Report” last week [7:10 min]

Osbournes Reloaded: Episode 1
I had no idea there even was a new Osbournes show. I only learned about it through someone’s tweet. It’s kind of a variety/game show. Lots of swearing (censored, since it’s on Fox), but not bad really, all things considered. Ozzy even looks pretty good. I have to say, the ending of this first episode is truly over the top. [28:59 min]

For the Love of Vinyl: Aubrey “Po” Powell on Hipgnosis
Hipgnosis was the design firm behind some of the most influential and recognizable (not to mention strangest) album covers of the 1970s and ’80s, having worked with artists such as Pink Floyd, Paul McCartney, and Led Zeppelin. The principals have put out a retrospective book: For the Love of Vinyl: The Album Art of Hipgnosis. [8:42 min]

Bill Gates on Facebook
40 billion reasons why he’s better than Steve Jobs.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Metal albums as early graphic design influence

When I was in junior high school, way before I learned there was such a job as "graphic designer," I was into two things: heavy metal and art. Well, okay, three things. Girls were on that list too, but most of them avoided me. Mostly because I was into heavy metal, come to think of it.

We had an art class at school and I was always working my interest in metal music into the art projects. The screen-printed T-shirts I made featured Ozzy Osbourne logos and the pottery lesson turned into a bust of the gore-spewing Ozzy from the cover of Speak of the Devil. Since I was one of the best artists in our class, people were always asking me to help them with their projects. Art class was the only class where I was popular.

Later on in high school, I took art, jewelry making, and four full years of drafting, all of which furthered my interest in commercial art. I was only beginning to think there might be a career for me in graphic design when I took a journalism class and caught the bug, getting sidetracked on that career path for the next four years.

By the time I started my independent newspaper in 1988, I'd already been publishing all sorts of things for years: little fanzines, newspapers, and magazines. I'd even taken a summer school course in "magazine making" when I was probably 12 or so, and I'd been on the "newspaper" staff in the 6th grade, although it was laughable to call that mimeographed atrocity a newspaper. Hell, I was the "Filler Editor" in charge of jokes and word searches to fill in the holes, so that should give you an idea of our 6th grade professionalism.

In the 7th grade I'd started an Ozzy fanzine called The Fellowship of the Blizzard, which I'd painstakingly piece together using pen and pencil art, pictures cut out of rock magazines, and typewritten pages I'd cut into columns like a real magazine. I even sold a few copies on consignment in a rock shop in Los Gatos called Buffalo Trading Co. (sadly defunct now).

In those days of the 1980s (*shudder*), I had two main graphic design influences: Steve "Krusher" Joule and Derek Riggs. Krusher was the art director for the UK's Kerrang! magazine, which I subscribed to at great cost (weekly air mail delivery to the U.S. cost over $100 per year). He was also the mastermind behind the album designs for most of Ozzy's early groundbreaking solo albums.

I copied Krusher's designs for much of my work between the 7th grade and the 11th, when I finally gave up publishing the Fellowship newsletters. You can see his influence by comparing the Ozzy albums above with the newsletter. I designed the Fellowship logo in the 7th grade, deducing the concept of a vanishing point purely be scrutinizing the Blizzard of Ozz album cover. Not bad considering I hadn't even taken my first drafting class yet.

Derek Riggs' work was also influential (as was the music of Iron Maiden, not coincidentally), and I even dedicated a special edition of my Ozzy fanzine to Maiden, with plenty of Riggs album and single covers displayed inside. I would later spend a lot of time avoiding my homework in high school by drawing the Maiden logo on everything from my binders and schoolbook covers to my pant legs and a couple of friends' jackets. If I'd had the smarts to charge people, I could'a made a few bucks.

In later years I'd dabble in copying the style of Pushead, who was famous then for skate decks and lots of Metallica T-shirt designs, and I'd mastered the reproduction of the logos of bands from Queensryche and Dokken to Dio and Megadeth.

Krusher stopped doing Kerrang! eventually and I'd moved on before then anyway, gathering plenty more "traditional" graphic design influences. Riggs stopped doing Maiden's album art when the band didn't like one of his covers, and they've been done by other artists since, often in a similar style and of course always featuring the famous Eddie.

But even today those two artists stand as possibly the first two professional designers I knew by name, and they've had a lasting effect on my style, technique, and aesthetic. Thanks guys.

Here's a recent CNN interview with Derek Riggs I found interesting.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tower Records RIP

Posted on by Mike "Little Mountain" Tausig:

"So, many of you know that I am the Director of Retail Operations for Tower Records in northern California. Some of you may know that Tower has been for sale for some time, and weathered some pretty monumental challenges with bigbox and the internet.

As of today, Tower was purchased by a liquidator and will be closing its doors forever, over the next several weeks. I've spent the last 14 years of my life with this company, and while it has certainly lost some of the greatness that was there in the 70's and 80's, it is still one of the best out there..."

Total bummer as far as I'm concerned. The San Jose store on Bascom and the Mountain View location with the bookstore have been my mainstays since I was a kid. I bought my first records (yes, vinyl) and cassettes at the Bascom store. Probably my first CDs there too. I bought my first first-day-new-release Ozzy album there. I bought my first concert tickets there. I bought my first Japanese import vinyl and first 'zine at the Mountain View store — my dad used to take me there after church on Sundays and I'd spend an hour or more going through the awesome selection of obscure magazines from all around the world.

I'm so bummed, especially that Mountain View and surrounding environs will be deprived of any sort of record/CD shop worth going to. Not to mention that it was still the best place to get magazines on the lower Peninsula.

Long live Tower Records. An international force for decades. Started right here in Northern California. RIP.

More coverage:
» Tower Records, RIP
» NY Times: Tower Records Will Auction Its Assets

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

Invasion of the little people

There were all these little people at work today.

Am I being politically correct? What's the correct term? Age-challenged individuals. Rugrats. Kids.

It was Bring Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day (their emphasis) at CNET, so a slew of kidlets were being ushered around my floor, where all the funtime activities were happening. Pizza lunch and a screening of The Incredibles (I would've gone, but I possibly would've felt slightly out of place).

Interestingly, most employees who brought their kids brought very small children. It seemed to be a lot of toddlers, a few tweens, and one girl who was maybe 11.

I remember when I was a kid and I used to go to my mom's work when there was a school holiday like Parent-Teacher Conference Day or whatever. Or spring and winter breaks.

I used to look forward to it so much. I'd help around the office, filing and stapling and doing lots and lots of copying. I always loved doing the copying, maybe because I got to use this big ol' machine, and whenever it jammed or refused to work, the adults seemed amazed that I could actually unjam it.

When I was a bit older I had an ulterior motive. By the 7th grade I had started my first publication, an Ozzy fanzine called "The Fellowship of the Blizzard." I hadn't even read The Fellowship of the Ring, but my friend Rocky Mullin suggested the name, and I thought it was awesome.

I was collecting scads of Ozzy ephemera. Clipping photos and stuff out of magazines like Circus and Hit Parader, and writing everything for the newsletter myself, and "typesetting" it (it would be years before I'd hear that term, though) on a typewriter at the public library after school, where you had to put quarters into a timer to rent the IBM Selectric.

I'd take the magazine pictures and the cut-into-columns articles and paste (well, sellotape*) all of them together on a sheet of letter-sized of paper. I had no clue what a halftone was, and no idea about any other production techniques (like not using tape, for example) until much later in my "career."

After a couple months, I'd have enough pages put together and I'd be anxiously awaiting my next school holiday, when I could go to work with mom. I'd spend half the day photocopying my little newsletters, collating, and stapling, and at the end of the day I'd head home with mom, my backpack bursting at the seams.

[image to come]

I did this from 7th grade through the middle of high school, and I think I made about 40 issues. I actually had a few subscribers, and I had a couple of stores that actually sold them. "Rock shops," as we used to call them. Not where you buy crystals. That craze came (and went, thankfully) later. A rock shop was where you got your Def Leppard T-shirts and your Whitesnake bumperstickers. Don't laugh. I was 14.

Anyway, The Fellowship of the Blizzard was the precursor to my eventual four-year career as an indie newspaper publisher of Western Front News. But more on that some other day.

All I can say is, I seriously doubt that my mom's places of employ ever knew how instrumental they were, being patrons to my burgeoning career as a self-styled newspaperman/boy. But they definitely foot the bill for a decent amount of paper and copier toner over four or so years. And for that, I thank them.

(* So disappointed that my xPad spellchecker doesn't recognize the word "sellotape". Not to mention "bumperstickers"!)

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