Monday, July 26, 2010

A Midsummer Night's Dream ... about kittens

My life is all about kittens right now. Fluffy black and white kittens. They are living in my bathroom so that I can keep an eye on them and so my other cat, Maia, doesn't eat them (a joke of course... maybe). I have had the little monsters for only four days (I am fostering them for a couple weeks.), and I am already in love. I am determined to give them back -- most of them at least.

Some of the kittens are still a little scared of me, but I am getting through to two of them. Puck and Titania. They are the ones you saw playing in the video I posted earlier. Puck is the biggest of his brothers and sisters, and Titania is the sweetest. She will now come up to me when I walk into the bathroom, and she licks me, which is weird for a cat but kinda sweet. Here is Titania:

I wanted to stick with Midsummer Night's Dream -- my fave Shakespeare play -- character names for the kittens and name the three girls (they are girls, I checked): Peaseblossom, Mustardseed and Cobweb. However, I have never named any major pets something that out-of-the-ordinary. So, the other three don't really have names yet. Once they get more of a personality, I will be able to correctly name them, I think.

Constructive criticism is, well, constructive

One of the things my "mentor" at the Missouri School of Journalism told me as I accepted my first journalism job is that I should always be looking for feedback on my work. She said that if a few months go by and I haven't heard either a "good job" or a "hey, you should work on this," I should ask for it myself. Thankfully, I haven't had to do that.

Every couple weeks, I have gotten the opportunity to sit down with the now-copy desk chief to talk about my design work: the challenges, what I would change, why something worked or didn't work. She gives me feedback and suggestions, and I value her opinions. Each time I talk to her, I get a chance to improve my skills and the work I produce.

I have a really good thing going on here at the Savannah Morning News.

Friday, July 23, 2010

I'm on my way to Crazy Cat Lady status

On Thursday, I decided to check out the local Humane Society. I have been toying with the idea of getting another cat, and I really wanted to find someplace where I could volunteer during the day before work, too. I had volunteered at the Central Missouri Humane Society, and I have had pets my whole life. I talk to animals as if they were my children. They don't even have to be mine. I fit in at the Humane Society.

After I signed in at Savannah's shelter, I walked around the dog corrals. I talked to the dogs, played with some puppies and imagined adopting every single one of them. Then, I ventured into the cat room. It was almost dinner time, so they were very active, vocal and, of course, ADORABLE. I eavesdropped onto a conversation between one of the workers and a younger couple. The couple was interested in fostering kittens, but they ended up exceeding the pet-per-apartment limit. After they left, I asked a bit more questions about the fostering process and ended up filling out an application. The next day, I went back to pick up five five-week-old kittens.

And now for the pictures...

There are three black and white kittens, but their black has some red tints to it, too. The other two are all black. They came with "Spaceballs"-influenced names, but I will probably be changing them. If you know my history with "Spaceballs," you'll understand. The names are completely arbitrary anyway because they will be renamed when they are adopted.

I will have them for 3-4 weeks until they weigh enough to be adopted out.

They are all holed up in my bathroom for a couple of reasons. #1 So I can keep an eye on them. #2 Because Maia doesn't quite like them yet. She is being all "My momma is trying to replace me" and whining about it. Hopefully, she will get use to them in a week or so. That's what the professionals say at least.

Here's all five of them. They like each other. They also make a huge mess. You know how kids like throwing dirt and sand at each other? That's what these five do with kitty litter. The cuteness makes up for it. Revel in the cuteness.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Something I never thought I would do

So, I did something I never thought I would do, but given my circumstances and the fact that I might start crying myself to sleep at night if I didn't make any friends, I signed up on a dating site. to be exact. It was a lot more expensive than I thought it would be, but I am getting kind of desperate to meet people. My work schedule is very hokey (4pm to midnight with Wednesday/Thursday off), so meeting people by any normal method is kind of hard to pull off.

My dad thinks it's great, my mom thinks I am going to get myself killed and my friends (the ones not in Savannah, obviously) are a mixture of the two. One of them suggested I blog about it. So, here I am.

I filled out the required information about me, filled out the preferable information about my "match" and uploaded a few pictures. I have no idea what to expect, who I'll find or what kind of experience I will have. It's kind of exciting. I have gotten a few messages from people ... kind of makes me happy. We'll see if anything actually comes of this though.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

2010 primary election guide

I hadn't even worked for the paper for two months and I was given a project. I became the designer of the 2010 guide to the primary. It's in a tab format, about the size of VOX, which I had worked for previously. I came up with a concept (with the help of other newsroom people), executed the cover and flowed in all of the copy for the 24-page issue. Awesome, right? I thought so.

So, let's talk about the cover. The primary, as you know, is an election of sorts that determines which candidates run in the actual election in November. This year, it's a pretty big deal because the governor's seat (and other U.S. Senate and House seats) are up for grabs. I wanted to emphasize the numbers in the election. The final number of candidates came out to 118. (One more than this cover says, but it was printed correctly, I promise. The contests number actually changed to 57, too.) The initial idea for the numbers was to isolate them in the midst of negative space to draw emphasis. However, I thought that was a bit boring and didn't have the emphasis I was looking for, so I started using red and blue. I made the numbers huge (more than 200pts) and aligned everything to each other. This is what I came up with. I added a little drop shadow to the letters and numbers so that they really pop. I think it's a unique way to just list numbers and elements of the primary. The typeface, one of the newspaper's headline fonts, is called Relay. It looks really contemporary and makes the design kind of resemble Barack Obama's "Hope" political ads.

As for the inside, I modeled it after the newspaper's previous guides. There were 118 mini-bios of all the candidates that chose to participate. The bios included the candidates's name, party, age, residence, family, occupation, education, political experience and top issues/objectives. The candidates were divided into their respective counties. It was 24 pages worth of biographical agate. Not fun, but I barreled through.

Overall, I think the guide turned out really well. What do you think?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Missy the cat

This is a fun response between a designer and an accounts person at an agency in London. The accounts person just wants a simple poster to put up for her lost cat, and the designer takes it a bit too far. I'm not sure if it is legit, but it is sure hilarious for those designer-types out there.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sometimes, you just have to sell the paper

The Savannah Morning News' front page incorporates two skyboxes above the flag in every issue. The skyboxes are a way for the designers to have a little creative freedom and, of course, to better advertise the paper. Statistics have indicated that a woman's face in the skybox is a sure-fire way to sell the paper. It kind of goes along with the stats we were given in my old magazine editing class and from ASME: One face sells better than two, and women's 2/3 body shots sell well, too. At the paper, sometimes we don't have the stories that warrant decent skyboxes; sometimes we have to think of something else; and sometimes we have to design with something we don't like. Yesterday was one of those nights.

The story I was to conceptualize and sell was a local column all about choosing the best bikini bottom to fit someone's body type. See where I'm going with this? The art for the column included three shots of women's hips, all clad in bikini bottoms. This is what I came up with:

I wasn't happy about it, but given the statistics and options, I was stuck. I sent a screen shot of the page to my editor, and she had a conversation with the metro editor about the last pair of bottoms. They both decided that they looked too much like underwear, so I scrapped them and redesigned.

I like my font size better on the second one, but I still had to put women's torsos on my 1A. But then I remember that I am still a part of a business. I still have to help sell the paper, and doing so means I have a job.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Signs of growing up

I have had this conversation with several of my friends, the most recent being with my best friend who is moving to the University of Wisconsin-Madison at the end of the summer for graduate school. Someone had called her an "impressive woman." While she had agreed that she was impressive, she wasn't so sure about the woman part. She considered herself somewhat in between girl and woman, and I guess I would have to agree with her. It is strange to consider myself a woman, but I have obviously become one. I have completed my 16 years of schooling; I have a full-time job; and I am paying all my bills. Does that mean I am a woman? I'm not sure.

To go along with the growing up theme, I would like to inform y'all that I have purchased my first peice of legit furniture. I bought a sofa! I guess it's not all that exciting, but feels weird to be purchasing things on my own. The sofa is pretty sweet too. It's blue-ish green with lots of pillows. It also has a brown tinge to it. It goes really well with the dark brown tables I have, too. I got it at Rooms To Go, which is kind of like Value City Furniture back home. Their whole thing is that if you "buy the whole room" you get it for a lot less than the individual pieces. Well, since I don't exactly have $2,000 or the space in my apartment for a sofa, loveseat, three endtables and some lamps, I just bought the sofa. I got it for less than $600 and it will be delivered on Thursday!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Lovers in a small café

I am in love with a photograph by an old Hungarian photographer named Gyula Halász, or Brassaï. He was fascinated with nightlife in Paris in the early 1900s. His photos from that collection, all published in a book called Paris by Night, depicted people in brothels, cafes and other low-life-type establishments. He photographed the "unspeakables."

Brassaï was a photographer in the surrealism movement, but that doesn’t mean he was a surrealist photographer. In his Paris photos he captured the dirty streets and the side of Paris most people weren’t aware of. Most couldn’t believe the reality of brothels and alley life, so they started to group Brassaï’s work with the surrealists. Indeed, his nude photographs have an element of surrealism, but Paris by night, on the surface, depicts reality.

What I love about the photograph, called “Lovers in a Small Café, near the Place d’Italie,” are the levels of reality Brassaï brought to it. In my interpretation, he uses the mirrors in the background to divide one reality into the separate realities of the individuals. While the couple enjoys each other’s company in the foreground, the mirrors split them up into their separate lives. You can’t tell whom the individuals are with, but both the male and the female faces look defiant. I imagine them both longing to be with someone else or to be more independent. Brassaï used mirrors in several other café and brothel shots, usually concealing the actual face of the subject and only depicting them through their reflection.

Anyway, to get to the point of this rambling. I watched a movie today on Netflix that reminded me a lot of that photograph. In fact, I almost took it to be a video representation of the image.

It's called "Conversations with Other Women" (photo courtesy of IMDB). Honestly, I only queued it up on Netflix because it starred Aaron Eckhart and Helena Bonham Carter. I had no idea how the movie was laid out, and that turned out to be the best part. The movie starts off as one screen video, but as soon as the couple meets, it is divided into a split screen. It stays that way for the rest of the film (except the end, but that was expected). The split screen normally depicted the same scene of the movie, only one camera was focusing on Eckhart and the other on Carter. There were moments where the screens would hiccup and show a somewhat alternate reality of one of the two.

The story itself is about two people that meet at a wedding and seem to hit it off, but then the viewer realizes that these people had already met years ago and are somehow trying to rekindle their past in this one night. I don't want to ruin the movie because I highly recommend it, so I will just leave it to you to see it.

Regardless, the correlation between my interpretation of the photograph and the cinematography in the film echo each other almost exactly. So much, in fact, that I felt compelled to write this blog.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Riding "shotbun" in the Wienermobile

A friend of mine, Brian, called me a few weeks ago saying he would be in town. I hadn’t talked to him in a while, so I asked him what was going to bring him to Savannah. He explained to me that he is one of the 12 recent college graduates (Hotdoggers) who are touring the country and promoting Oscar Meyer — in a Wienermobile. He offered to give me a ride, and, honestly, who wouldn’t want to ride in a commercial-sized hot dog? On Wednesday, I took him up on his offer.

I drove out to the airport hotel where Brian and his partner, Kylie, were staying. It was hard to miss because there was a giant shiny hot dog in the parking lot.

I went in and talked to Brian and Kylie for a while — about logistics, how they got the job, the perks. I’m a journalist OK? Give me a break.

Their job is basically to promote Oscar Mayer and its Good Mood Mission. To do this, they must maintain a good mood themselves, and I really can’t think of anyone better for that job than Brian. (He was one of our college mascots at Mizzou.) The Hotdoggers attended a two-week training camp where they learned how to drive the Wienermobile with 40 hours of training from the Department of Transportation, learned about the company and its products and met the other Hotdoggers in the class. The training took place in Madison, Wis., and after that, the Hotdoggers were assigned specific regions, partners and a schedule for the next six months of their lives. Brian and Kylie were assigned the southeast region of the U.S and will be reassigned to different regions after the six months.

Oscar Mayer’s Good Mood Mission is all about spreading smiles, according to its website. The company has paired up with Feeding America and will donate one pound of food for every good mood shared on its website, five pounds for every good mood passed on to others and 10 pounds for becoming a fan of the mission on Facebook. Oscar Mayer’s goal is 3 million pounds of food.

Anyway, after the interviews, Brian and I went for a drive. I got to ride “shotbun” in the Wienermobile, which is a coveted position, I came to find out. In coordination with the mission, the company is also offering four people a day to ride “shotbun” in the Wienermobile and $5,000 to spread their good mood. The winners will be those who enter the most “bunderful” responses to “If I could ride shotbun in the Wienermobile, I’d … .” More information can be found at

We pulled out of the parking lot at the hotel, and the recognition started immediately. People from everywhere were honking their horns, waving and giving thumbs up to the Wienermobile. The highway was insane. At least 20 people — in the 10-mile drive from the airport to the newsroom — slowed down around us on the highway to take a picture of the humongous moving hot dog. I would have too, had I not been inside staring at the blue-sky painted ceiling, mustard laden floor or red-and-yellow Wienermobile-embroidered leather seats of the hot dog. The Wienermobile is like a people magnet, even in the newsroom parking lot.

I took my pictures, and we were off again.

All in all, I would have to say that my experience riding in the Wienermobile was surreal. I felt more recognized and famous than I had ever felt, and it was all because of the vehicle. The Wienermobile really does put people in a good mood.

As for Brian and Kylie, they say they are having a blast traveling the in the southeast.

“We get to meet so many people from all walks of life, tour the country and represent a brand that has been around for 127 years,” Brian said. They are loving what they’re doing, and that is all that’s important — and my free weenie whistle, of course.