Entries for June 2007

June 25, 2007

She’s a vector girl. I’m a bitmap guy.

David Friedman and Ellen Butters
Photo by Guy Ambrosino
I don’t really write much about my personal life on this site, but I’m going to make a big exception to announce that I recently got married to graphic designer Ellen Butters. Don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with an album of wedding photos, but I do think there are a few aspects of our wedding that readers might find interesting.

Back in December, when we started planning the wedding, we were interviewed for an episode of Wallstrip, the daily video podcast about stocks which are at an all-time high. This episode was about TheKnot.com, a website that helps couples plan their weddings. CBS purchased Wallstrip last month (congrats to them!), and I have a strong suspicion that our participation in that episode helped seal the deal. Here’s the video:

The wedding took place at the Society of Illustrators in New York City, an old carriage house turned gallery that doubles as a sort of clubhouse for illustrators. “Illustration” was the theme of the wedding. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Before the wedding where we exchanged rings and vows before our family and friends, we were legally married at City Hall, accompanied by fellow photographer Brian Berman. Brian’s portraits don’t always capture people in their most flattering light, but it’s his photos of people in their awkward moments that are always the most interesting. Here’s his favorite photo of us at City Hall:

David Friedman and Ellen Butters

Don’t worry. He took photos showing how happy we were, too.

The wedding at the Society of Illustrators took place in their third floor gallery, which featured an exhibit of illustrations from the seven women’s magazines that dominated the market in the 1950s. Paintings by artists including J.C. Leyendecker, Norman Rockwell, James Montgomery Flagg and others provided the perfect setting for the event.

David Friedman and Ellen Butters
Photo by Tim Griffin
For dinner, each table featured a lantern centerpiece (made by Ellen and her mom) featuring a biography of an illustrator plus examples of their work. Instead of being assigned a table number, guests were assigned an illustrator, and they had to look at the lanterns to figure out where to sit. To make it even more interesting for the guests, each illustrator had at least one painting hanging somewhere in the room, to encourage people to walk around and look at the artwork.

Music plays as important a part in our lives as does art, and we were honored to have great talent on hand. Guests arrived to the music of pianist and arts critic Vivien Schweitzer. The procession was accompanied by cellist Yves Dharamraj, and Ellen’s father provided a Piano interlude. At the reception, pianist Kayo Hiraki led a jazz trio in setting the musical tone for the celebration. The whole event went as smoothly as could be imagined, and a great time was had by all.

In a few weeks, we’ll be off to the Galapagos Islands for our honeymoon (with me sporting a fancy You Say You Want An Evolution T-shirt). So I hope everyone is itching to read a post about giant tortoises, because I suspect there will be one coming.

Ellen Butters and David Friedman

June 19, 2007

A new billboard in Times Square

Back in January, I decided to take photos of every advertisement in Times Square. So when I was walking through Times Square the other day and I saw these billboards, the likes of which I’ve never seen in that part of town, I figured it would make a good follow-up post:


June 18, 2007

The best and worst of The Economist

The Economist is a weekly magazine that focuses on world news, business, and politics. The magazine, based in London, is dense with information and can be tough to wade through. The publishers target an upper-class demographic, and it shows in their ads for the magazine. A recent ad had a tag line which read, “It’s lonely at the top, but at least there’s something to read.” The Economist is the sort of magazine pretentious people like to be seen reading.

Naturally, I have a subscription.

econcover.jpgAs I was wading through this week’s issue, I realized that whoever writes the headlines (the copy editor, I think) has an interesting sense of humor and a penchant for puns and cultural references. Some of the headlines are better than others. I went through the stack of unread issues that’s been piling up in the living room and picked out some of the best and the worst headline puns and references from recent weeks. Whether you think they are the best or the worst probably depends on whether you like puns. Here are some examples:

Article topic: What conservatives get, and do not get, about foreign aid.
Headline: Right to bear alms

Article topic: Former CIA Director George Tenet’s new book has some factual errors but is still worth reading.
Headline: George’s tenets

Article topic:Two big meat producers agree to merge.
Headline:A steak in the market

Photograph: A polar bear stands on a piece of ice surrounded by water. The article is about global warming.
Caption: It’s getting unbearable

Article topic: Scrubbing carbon from coal-fired power stations is possible but pricey.
Headline: Dirty king coal

(I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be a play on Nat King Cole or Old King Cole)

Article topic: Businesses are engaging in war game style simulations to gain new perspective on complex problems.
Headline: Shall we play a game?

Article topic: The cost of making cell phone calls overseas.
Headline: When in roam

Article topic: Californians are leaving the state, filling its neighbor states with former Californians.
Headline: Dreams of Californication

Article topic: Ecuador has a new President, Rafael Correa
Headline: Magical mystery tour

(Seriously, I have no idea what this headline is supposed to mean. I read the whole article and still can’t figure it out. Correa isn’t touring anywhere. He’s not listening to the Beatles. Why the reference? I don’t get it.)

Article topic: Rio de Janeiro’s economy isn’t doing so well.
Headline: Blame it on Rio

Article topic: The popularity of the Russian royal family
Headline: Tsarstruck

Article topic: The president’s policies on global warming
Headline: Emissionary positions

Article topic: Scientist Craig Venter takes on yet another big project
Photo caption: Craig’s list gets longer and longer

June 14, 2007

Idea: Lolcatvertisements

The way I see it, companies have about a week or so left in the life of the lolcat meme to come up with some clever ads that use the lolcat format. I think for the most bang for their advertising dollar, the campaign should probably appear in college newspapers or someplace else where the fewest people possible will be scratching their heads in confusion.

Take a pizza and burger joint, for example. They could start with a picture of a pizza delivery guy, with the caption “I’M IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD, DELIVERING YOUR PIZZA” or it could have a picture of a burger and fries with the caption “YES YOU CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER.” Okay, they could probably come up with something more clever than that. But it would give me a chuckle to see a company incorporate an on-line meme into their ads without referencing where it came from. It would be sort of an inside joke among the internet savvy.

June 7, 2007

Idea: The Sensory Deprivation game

Note: Do not play the game described below if you are in any potential danger of hurting yourself or others, or if you are near traffic, or anywhere that you aren’t positive it can be played safely. Play at your own risk.

That’s got you curious, huh? What’s the Sensory Deprivation game that’s so dangerous it requires a disclaimer? It’s something I found myself doing one day in college as I was walking across the busy campus and saw a blind student walking in the opposite direction with a walking cane. I wondered what it’s like to confidently walk around, even while unable to see. Blind people seem to do it okay. Could I?

I had my sunglasses on, so I figured nobody would notice if I suddenly closed my eyes. First I looked out at the ground ahead, the people walking around, and figured that if I just kept walking straight I would avoid all of them, and the lamp post. How many steps could I take before I had to open my eyes again? I decided to find out. Without changing my stride, I closed my eyes.

The answer was only around 6 steps. I had no confidence in my ability to navigate at all. I felt like at any second I would smash into something or someone. I must be veering one way or the other, right? When I opened my eyes, I realized that I had been walking straight after all and was actually doing pretty well. So I tried it again. After another 6 steps, I couldn’t bear it.

Why was I only able to take 6 steps? How many would I have been able to take if I’d had a walking cane before I freaked out about bumping into things? How long does it take the newly-blind to be able to get around confidently? Is it faster to learn with a cane, with a guide dog, or with echolocation?

I haven’t really played the game since then. Do I dare, here on the busy streets of Manhattan? Do I get bonus points if I play while wearing my iPod? How many steps can you take?