Harry Potter Jazz

From a fun son: Drew Nichols, “Harry Potter Jazz” 

Drew Nichols as Drewlius Lumblelore
Drew Nichols as Drewlius Lumblelore

Friday Flick: Real Beauty

Even if you’ve seen this classic commercial, it’s a great reminder that what we see in certain environments bears no resemblance to reality.

It’s also a reminder that some revisions go too far.

Dove Evolution of Beauty commercial

Dove Evolution of Beauty commercial


Text © Gwyn Nichols 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Your Brain on Ads

Screenshot of My Brain on Ads by Maya CuevoTake a therapist who trained her daughter to watch media, including ads, with critical attention. Now imagine this daughter, Maya Cueva–already a journalist while still a teenager–not only applying that understanding to her buying decisions, but taking her curiosity to the lab and the radio studio. She interviewed researchers tracking brainwaves for advertisers. They can not only measure which ads make an impression with our attention, emotions, and memory, but which parts are most effective–thus qualifying for the five or ten-second version.

(Are you old enough to remember the sixty-second commercial? I’d call those the Hallmark years–masterpieces of short-short filmmaking. But I digress, as usual.)

I especially enjoyed Maya’s own meta-critical-thinking: her mother’s likely bias, her own decision processes. (My brainwaves probably spiked there.) Maya clearly distinguished that we have brain activity that promotes buying impulses and “just say no” activity. Obviously, she’s still using her brain. Her report might inspire you to train your brain, fight the battle, keep your choices free.

NPR Radio segment, transcript, and video. The radio and video versions are different. I enjoyed both.

Cueva’s Youth Radio profile.

Text © Gwyn Nichols 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Photo screenshot from site cited.

Friday Flick: Virtual Choir

We’re so glad Eric Whitacre did not make it as a pop star. Here’s a TED talk on his composing and creating influences: Mozart and a fan on YouTube. It’s also about the lengths to which humans will go to connect, and how well we do connect across technology. Enjoy!

Eric Whitacre Virtual Choir on TED Screen shot
Eric Whitacre Virtual Choir on TED


Text © Gwyn Nichols 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Book Surgeon

“Book doctor” may be one of my roles, but you should meet The Book Surgeon! More than a typical altered book artist, Brian Dettmer literally carves books into new designs, adding nothing, exposing only words and images that were already there. It’s hard to choose a favorite. I’ll start with one that’s still obviously a book–not a bad thing, you know. You’ll want to see them all. Inspiring! I imagine long-gone original authors (and encyclopedia editors) smiling down on Brian for these dissections that bring new life.

Brian Dettmer, The Book Surgeon
Work by Brian Dettmer, The Book Surgeon

For more, see the My Modern Met blog post my son forwarded to me.

Their interview with Brian Dettmer.

Brian’s site 

His Flickr account.

A time-lapse video of one of his projects.

Recent comments and examples selected by other bloggers: 


Text © Gwyn Nichols 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Photo lifted from BrianDettmer.com for unsolicited publicity purposes.

Friday Flick: Marriage Proposal

"Greatest Marriage Proposal Ever" YouTube screenshot
"Greatest Marriage Proposal Ever" Matt proposes to Ginny with a movie trailer while recording her reaction

Usually, I cringe over public marriage proposals. Somehow this one seems different, maybe because the theme of Matt and Ginny’s courtship has been “Making the Movies Jealous,” it has high enough production values to be a hoax, and yet they seem genuinely surprised that tens of millions of people have passed this along. It’s a great example of what it takes to go viral, and it’s heart-warming that so many people still care about sentimental moments. I wish them all the happiness possible –which I suspect means they’ll need the fortitude to resist becoming another reality show.

Have you seen this woman?

Photographer Bruce Davidson took this photo of a teenaged girl holding a kitten 50 years ago. Now as he receives the Outstanding Contribution to Photography award, he would like to find the subject. As he was interviewed, the line that made me smile was this first sentence of the life he imagined for her:

“Let’s hope she became a writer or an artist. Hopefully, she has a full life, and not a life on the street. She was carrying a sleeping bag with her when I met her. I don’t know. Maybe she has a daughter, or even granddaughter that looks just like her and is holding another cat. . . . ”

Did anyone hope you would become a writer or artist? And was that person a successful artist proving it can be done? If not, enjoy his encouragement. Let’s hope you do grow up to be a writer or an artist.


Text © Gwyn Nichols 2011. All Rights Reserved.

More about it:

Lisa Mullins interviews Bruce Davidson at PRI’s The World PRI

Sean O’Hagan article in for Guardian

(Remember Steve McCurry’s photo of a green-eyed Afghan girl, a 1984 National Geographic cover? She was found again 17 years later.)
National Geographic Afghan Girl Found