Turducken? Feeling chuffed with my Thanksgiving post

I just completed a blog post for Thanksgiving over on the Monetate Post-Click Blog and I'm quite pleased with it (back in the old country people would say they were "chuffed" when they were feeling pleased with something).

I've spent quite a bit of time the past two months studying various aspects of blogging, notably the role of the corporate blog. I've been getting a lot of good insights from reading Naked Conversations by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. I remember skimming through this book in my local Barnes & Noble not long after it came out (in 2006 I think) but at that time I did not have a "corporate" blogging role and some of the points didn't really sink in. Now I'm contributing to a company blog the advice from Scoble and Israel really clicks, things like: write in first person and be authentic, timely, and relevant. The turducken piece follows that advice. Here's hoping it generates some buzz. I mean, there can't be that many other bloggers talking about turducken in the context of search engine marketing, can there?

Please Adjust Your Set: New template is almost there

Okay, so I've got things pretty much the way I want them with this fairly heavily customized version of the Thesis template for WordPress. I had a lot of trouble reducing the page width from the default of 1024 pixels (expressed in ems in the template). The answer in the end (emd?) was to adjust the base font size down a notch or two. This worked great in all browsers except IE (so far I have checked Safari, Firefox, and Opera).

The issue in IE is that the page looks way large with IE's Medium font size setting. If you use the View/Text Size setting in IE and choose Smaller, things look good. Given that some IE users have the default IE size set to Smaller I am going to leave things as they are at the moment. If I find an easy auto-size fix for IE then I will implement it.

Doctor Wooreddy Still One of the Best Novels Ever?

Just a quick reminder for anyone who has not read "Doctor Wooreddy's Prescription for Enduring the Ending of the World" by Mudrooroo. It is still one of the ten best English language novels of the last one hundred years, IMHO.

You can still order it from Amazon and no, I'm not making any money off that link. I just think it's a pity more people don't know of this book. As one reviewer said: "I can think of no other [twentieth century novel] that tells a tale of such utter tragedy and suffering with such a coherent equanimity of feeling and purity of wit."

Okay, so that reviewer was me. But again, it's not like I have shares in this book.

So Looking Forward to 1/20/09!

You don't have to know me well to know that I am very happy with the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. Heck, I've been wearing my support on my head and my Jeep for all to see. Even on my tractor.

So here's how I see things: We have an energetic president elect who is unlikely to match George Bush's record for vacation days, we have a president elect who will inherit America's worst economy in a lifetime, the worst international reputation ever, and will likely face outright rejection by the unrepentant heart of the Republican party, the folks who drove us headlong into this mess. It's going to be an interesting ride.

Do Not Adjust Your Set -- Makeover in progress

Yes, the site looks different today, and it may look different tomorrow. I'm experimenting with some different styles and templates. But the content will still be here. This new template features a random selection of photographs on the right (all taken by yours truly--right click on an image to get more info). Below is a shot of what the site used to look like. The end result of this experiment should be a more aesthetically appealing blog.

[caption id="attachment_199" align="alignnone" width="470" caption="Previous Cobb Blog Look"]Previous Cobb Blog Look[/caption]

Now on DVD: Dare Not Walk Alone

Yesterday was the "official" release date for the retail DVD of Dare Not Walk Alone. This DVD is something of a milestone for those of us who worked on this project. It comes a staggering 5 years after Jeremy decided to make the film and about 4 years and 3 months after Chey and I got involved. Jeremy is now married and no longer in his twenties. Chey and I are still married (and still in our fifties).

We are all extremely grateful to everyone who pitched in at various stages of this long and winding road. If this film beats the odds (again) and suddenly becomes "an overnight sensation," we will be able to say, in all honesty: "That was a very long night, but totally worth it." What follows is the press release that went out through erelease and PRNewsire.

BROOKLYN, N.Y., Nov. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Dare Not Walk Alone, a feature-length documentary about little-known events in America's civil rights struggle, is now available on DVD at Wal-Mart and other stores. The film clearly illustrates what President-elect Obama has called "the gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time." While documenting Dr. King's heroic campaign to end segregation, the film also paints a disturbing portrait of lingering inequality, some 40 years later, in one community where that campaign was waged.

The Dare Not Walk Alone trailer can be seen at the film's web site: http://darenotwalkalone.com.

Created by Brooklyn-based artist and director Jeremy Dean, Dare Not Walk Alone has been hailed by critics as "a powerhouse of a picture" and "important filmmaking." However, making the film was an uphill battle, according to executive producer Stephen Cobb. "The director insisted the film go beyond documenting the bravery and brilliance of Dr. King's victorious strategy of non-violence to explore the aftermath of that victory," said Cobb. "But a lot of people thought this approach was too radical for a mainstream audience."

Yet this is one small-budget independent documentary that beat the odds and achieved DVD distribution through major stores like Wal-Mart, Target, FYE, Movies Unlimited, and Amazon.com. The film's distributor is Indican Pictures.

"When Indican told us Wal-Mart ordered DVDs," says Dean, "we were thrilled, but also stunned. That's almost impossible when you're an indie project with no star backing."

Although the DVD is not on the shelves in every Wal-Mart yet, the retail giant is shipping from Walmart.com, according to Cobb.

"Our hats are off to both Wal-Mart and Indican," said Cobb. "We're delighted with Indican because they have moved us closer to our goal of giving everyone in America a chance to see this film."

The DVD features interviews with Ambassador Andrew Young and the late James Brock, owner of the motel in St. Augustine, Florida, where Dr. King was arrested. There is also an interview with Dean who is currently on a campus tour, most recently appearing at Notre Dame University's WorldView Film Series.

About Dare Not Walk Alone

Featuring rare archival footage, the film also contains recent interviews with participants in the campaign to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The project began in 2003 when director Dean was still in his twenties. After post-production work at Atlanta-based Crawford Communications, the final cut debuted in 2007 and was quickly signed for distribution by Indican Pictures. Theatrical screenings in New York, Los Angeles, and Portland garnered praise from critics:

"Powerful slice of roiling American history."
-- Los Angeles Times

"Has great potential to do real good in the world."
-- Boxoffice.com

"Minutely attuned to disparities of class and race ... a triumph of outrage and empathy."
--Willamette Week

"Deserves to be seen."
--New York Times

"Packs a punch."
-- Village Voice

Jeremy Dean, writer and director
email: info@dnwa.info
Web Site: http://darenotwalkalone.com

Warming up to Walmart

Recently, two things happened that changed my opinion of Walmart. If you plug "walmart" into Google you will probably find that the top 10 search results includes at lleast 3 sites that are critical of the retail giant. As the company has continued to grow over the last two decades many Americans, myself included, have had mixed feelings: Convenience versus impact on local stores. Low prices versus a shopping experience that is sometimes less than stellar.

I actually know some people who say they don't shop there. I know others who shop there but don't talk about it. I also know some people who will be critical of me for saying this, but here goes: "I shop at Walmart." Not all the time (the nearest one is 30 minutes from where I live). I like to do a fair amount of my shopping more locally. I stop in at Bob's Corner Store most days for milk and bread, cereal and maple syrup and such (Bob's is also where I get my mail--it's a post office and gas station as well as a store).

But from time to time I do make a trip to Walmart and recently two things have caused me to upgrade my opinion of the company. They might sound selfish, but here they are:

1. Walmart decided to carry a DVD that I played a part in creating, a feature-length documentary called Dare Not Walk Alone. Obviously Walmart carries hundreds of DVDs so what makes this decision exceptional? Well, for a start, Walmart is very selective about which documentaries it carries, so getting selected is a big vote in favor of the film (and a major accomplishment for our distributor, Indican Pictures).

Consumer Confidence Index At All-time Low

Just in case you thought you were alone in feeling totally bummed about the economy, consider this:
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A key measure of consumer confidence fell to an all-time low in October as the financial crisis weighed on American household budgets.
Consumer confidence index at all-time low - Oct. 28, 2008.

The index fell to 38 in October from a revised reading of 61.4 in September, slamming the index to its lowest level since its inception in 1967. In other words, Americans are more depressed about their finances than at any time in the last 40 years.

And of course, there was an analyst on hand to state the obvious: "Consumers certainly appear to think the sky is falling," said Adam York, economic analyst at Wachovia Economics Group.You don't have to be Chicken Little to see that.

Other economists, who were not named in the report, possibly for their own protection, had expected the index to have declined to only 52. (Apparently economists are still making good money in secure jobs.)