Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: "Bottom line" reviews

You may or may not have noticed, but I have tweaked my layout again. It looks almost the same, but I have tweaked my font and color choices. But really I did all this because I have also added a new page to my blog.
As time has gone on, I've found myself offering more and more reviews on books I've read, movies I've seen and other things I felt you needed to know about, good or bad. I've finally gathered these reviews in one place. I've named the page "Bottom Line" (found between the blog name and posts) because I tend not to be wishy-washy with my reviews. If I hate a novel, I'll tell you. And if I love a movie, I'll insist you see it. I'm all about the bottom line in my opinions.
These reviews span back at least two years, so feel free to check out the page and reread (or read for the first time) those posts. In the process, I revamped and reorganized some of the reviews so there is a little continuity between posts. I also ended rereading every post, and I actually want to go back and read at least one book and I definitely need to sit down and watch the biopic Chaplin again. Maybe after we've moved in and I'm not in the middle of a six-day workweek.

EDIT: Not to change things up too much for you, but I've added a second page (called "An outsider in Suffolk") featuring links to all the columns I've written for the Suffolk News-Herald. I've allowed comments on that page, so if you have any thoughts on my columns or ideas for new column topics, please share. Thanks.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I'm back!

Well, I've actually been back from my honeymoon for a few days now, but I sort of felt like I needed even more time to recover from the craziness. That and there's been a lot to accomplish since I've been back. I have not really accomplished much of it, but I have gotten one big thing finished. I set up an site for everyone to upload their photos of our wedding.

Our first dance, photo by Paul Beck (my dad)

Wedding photos tend to be the biggest chunk of change for many brides/grooms and their parents. In order to save some money we asked my stepfather to be the official photographer and then told everyone else not to forget their cameras. After the wedding I planned to set up an online account with a photo service where everyone could upload their photos.
This is the only thing I've really accomplished since returning. My house is still a mess. Miyagi seems to have forgotten large chunks of his training. I have piles of gifts (which we are really grateful for) from extremely generous friends and family that I'm hoping to finish writing thank-you notes for soon. And on Friday we are moving back to Newport News.

You may now kiss the bride, photo by Myrna Teague (my great aunt)

But I have officially set up a pro account on Flickr. Everyone can upload their photos there so I can download high quality original copies instead of shrunken files from Facebook. That helps triple the total number of photos I have access to when I'm finally able to afford printing good quality copies. Looking through my stepfather's pictures, I've realized he doesn't have the right eye I wanted for catching some of the details of the wedding (which I worked so hard to visualize and my friends and family worked even hard to implement). He did capture the basic photos you want, but some shots were missing. Having others take photos as well allowed me to have shots I wouldn't have gotten if I had depended on just my stepfather's shots. Such as this shot from my new sister-in-law:

Table settings, photo by Jenny Land (sister-in-law extraordinaire)

So if you plan to get married, I really recommend doing this if you can't see spending $3,000 (minimum!) on wedding photos.

Technical gibberish, or Why I chose this method
I chose Flickr because for about $25, I get unlimited downloads, storage and access to the original sized uploads.
Why is this important? Well, I wanted the chance to Photoshop photos that might not be perfect (most have beautiful potential, but many need a little tweeking) and that is extremely difficult to do when you are working with sizes that have been shrunken down for web use.
Facebook, for example imports photos at a resolution of 72 pixels per square inch and a size of about 720 pixels wide by 540 pixels high. For comparison, the camera my dad was using saved pictures at 4,272 pixels by 2,848 pixels at 72 psi. That may sound like gibberish to you, but pixels hold the information that make up the building blocks of a photo. So, the more pixels, the more information I have to work with. Ergo, I can make a beautiful photo perfect.
At the same time, to print photos they need to be at least 200 psi for quality printing. If you resize the Facebook photo to 200 psi, it can be printed no bigger than 3.6 inches by 2.7 inches. And that is too tiny for me to use.

Coming soon
Finally, I wanted to let you know that I am going to be doing a lot of posting in the near future. Not only do I want to go through some of the awesome details of the wedding, I have several other posts I've been putting off, including: several book reviews (including The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender and Crescent by Diana Abu-Jaber), a photo tour of our new home and the setbacks and triumphs we've hit while training Miyagi.
So, please come back soon and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

1 cake vs. 80 (cup)cakes

We are now having cupcakes, for many reasons. This way everyone can have some of the cake and also we don't have to worry about cutting the cake for everyone. Also, my cake topper is a bit too heavy for a cake to hold it up without collapsing. Anyway, the cupcakes will be arranged like four tiers with the cake topper at the top. Like these:

Though, most assuredly not this tall. LOL.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Turtles and cake toppers

This is our cake topper. It's so awesome we're getting a cake so that we have something to put it on. It was gonna be a small cake, but now I'm worried people will want cake instead of pie. Plus you KNOW the cake will be awesome. I suppose we'll have to figure it out soon. I mean I only have a week and 3 hours.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mainstream Avant-garde: The Cheese Monkeys by Chip Kidd

I've mentioned I've been reading a lot, right? Well, I figured it's time to start sharing my thoughts on what I've been reading. So, look for a weekly review of the books I've been reading. I'll attempt to post on Tuesdays so you always know when to check back for tips on a good book, or to ignore my blog if books really aren't your thing.

Today's book is called The Cheese Monkeys: A Novel in Two Semesters. Chip Kidd, a man known more for his graphic design skills than for his writing, authored a novel. The book is set in the 1950's and follows a college freshman as he acclimates himself to a new school and his seemingly random decision to be an art major. Kidd touches on themes of love, young relationships and even a first foray into gay infatuation.

Upfront I have to admit that the book really isn't that great as a novel. As a collection of entertaining anecdotes and lessons on life, Kidd does deliver some great one-liners and surprising twists. Considering it had been a while since I had been able to read books for fun, it offered a quick summer read with just enough substance to leave me hungry for more books.
But my favorite part about the book was the design of it, likely furnished by Kidd as well. Depending on how you look at the edge of the pages, you can see some of the graphic design teacher's favorite life lessons to the students.

As a designer myself, I got a kick out of it. Unfortunately for people picking up this book with intention of delving between it's pages, the best thing about it really is this quirky design choice.

Bottom Line
I wouldn't necessarily run out and buy this book, but if you feel like a quick, entertaining read, I wouldn't mind loaning out my copy.