Boing Boing 

Jesse Brown


Signing off.

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.
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Today marks the end of my guest blogging stint here at BoingBoing.

It's been awesome (for me anyway). Thanks to BB readers for letting me share my projects, interests and ideas with you. And thanks for engaging- the comments often taught me more about a subject than I had to impart in the first place.

Thanks also to Cory and Rob and the rest of the BB crew for having me!

Please keep in touch! I'm particularly interested in story ideas and freelance pitches for my podcast.

Email: jesse at jessebrown.ca

Twitter (link)

Podcast/Blog (link)

500 Pound Planet: the final chapter

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.

Here's the conclusion to 500 Pound Planet, the cartoon I made with Josh Dolgin. I really hope you've enjoyed it, and would love to hear some reviews/criticism/impressions.

Previously:

500 Pound Planet: Prelude

500 Pound Planet: Chapter One

500 Pound Planet: Chapter Two

500 Pound Planet: Chapter Three

You and the Pirates

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.
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Canadian literature (or CanLit, as some insist) has gradually become a genre of its own- one of books that are bleak, desperate, *meaningful*, and above all, dull.

New DIY publisher The Workhorsery aims to do something about that by releasing You and The Pirates, Jocelyne Allens' superfun debut novel.

The book dares to star you (a snarky prairie-girl expat) in its second-person wackjob tale of terrorists, cats and pirates in modern-day Tokyo. Check it out!

Free chapter (PDF)

Amazon page (link)

500 Pound Planet: Chapter Three

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.

Professional animators script, record, and "lock" audio before animating a frame. Josh Dolgin and I are not professional animators.

We wanted 500 Pound Planet to have a loose, improvisatory feel. So we decided on a general plot outline, a handful of settings and scenes and a cast of characters. For each character, we animated a number of facial expressions, hand gestures and lip-positions, so that we could figure out what they're saying at any point and drop it in.

This "worked" in a sense, but also made for a lot of crazy, since everything was infinitely malleable. We could always record more, tweak a line, second-guess a plot point- whatever. The process became so maddening that we bickered constantly over every detail and bit by bit, that's what the film became about- our spiteful, imploding "marriage", which we kept alive for the sake of the children- our deformed, clay puppet kids. Enjoy!

Previously:

500 Pound Planet: Prelude

500 Pound Planet: Chapter One

500 Pound Planet: Chapter Two

Comics in the Classroom

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.

When I was a kid I was often reprimanded and sometimes even kicked out of class for drawing comics in school. Now, research has shown that comics are a great way to turbo-charge literacy in reluctant readers (especially in boys), and comics are suddenly being welcomed into classrooms all over the world.

With this in mind, my partners at Bitstrips and I have developed Bitstrips for Schools, an educational comic-making service. We piloted it last spring in a handful of Ontario classrooms, and the kids went crazy for it, creating almost 3000 comic strips in six weeks time (see video). Their creativity has astounded me, as have the incredibly cool and dedicated teachers I've had the chance to work with (link).

Bitstrips for Schools has since been licensed by the Ontario Ministry of Education, which means that 2 million kids now have at their fingertips the tools to make their own comics.

We also just introduced a "self-serve" option that lets teachers outside of Ontario buy cheap one-classroom licenses.

So yes, in interests of full disclosure, this is a plug for a website I have an interest in. But it's also a website I'm super proud to be a part of!

Bitstrips for Schools.

Katie Couric's salary exceeds combined budgets of NPR's top news shows

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.

Michael Massing of the Columbia Journalism Review digs up some startling info that helps explain why network TV news is knee-deep in FAIL while National Public Radio thrives:

Katie Couric's annual salary is more than the entire annual budgets of NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered combined. Couric's salary comes to an estimated $15 million a year; NPR spends $6 million a year on its morning show and $5 million on its afternoon one. NPR has seventeen foreign bureaus (which costs it another $9.4 million a year); CBS has twelve. Few figures, I think, better capture the absurd financial structure of the network news. (link)

It also captures a hard reality that news folk should keep in mind as they protest the collapse of their industry: most money in journalism, isn't spent on journalism.

Thanks, Cyrus

500 Pound Planet: Chapter Two

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.

The best part of making 500 Pound Planet was that it turned life into a big scavenger hunt. Our mashup style let us animate using clay, stop motion puppets, photo montage- anything! In this chapter, we actually manipulated a piece of raw chicken.

As a result, wherever we went we were always collecting material. We drove from Montreal to New Orleans and sifted through dozens of thrift stores along the way, two grown men searching for Barbie clothes. Josh voraciously photographed Montreal for our backgrounds (much of what he captured is now gone). Even conversations were useful- we'd secretly record our friends talking and then beg them to let us "sample" the best parts in our cartoon.

Previously:

500 Pound Planet: Prelude (link)

500 Pound Planet: Chapter One (link)

The World of Adam

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.

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Adam Shecter makes whimsical, clever, stupid, pretty little blips of cartoons. He's been doing it for a while and has slowly amassed a fantastic Saturday Morning Cartoon broadcast from another planet. Have a look!

Adam's website (link)

Germans! Adam Shecter is exhibiting right now at the Bielefelder Kunstverein (link). UPDATE: New Yorkers! Adam is also exhibiting right now at Eleven Rivington (link).

Tonight: HEEB Storytelling in Toronto

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.
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I'm on the bill tonight (along with wino Kathryn Borel Jr. and others) at HEEB Magazine's Toronto installment of their popular Storytelling event. It's at the Drake- come check it out!

Details here (link).

PRX: huge, searchable library of public radio goodness

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.

PRX, the Public Radio Exchange, is an online marketplace connecting radio producers with radio programmers. But it's also a massive library of searchable content- some of it very good- that you can get lost in for hours.

You'll need an account to listen, but sign-up is free. Go nuts! (link)

500 Pound Planet: Chapter One

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest bloggger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.

Yesterday I posted the prelude to 500 Pound Planet, the cartoon I spent a few years making with my buddy Josh Dolgin when I was younger. Here's chapter one, wherein we meet our "heroes", Spencer and Blue, voiced by me and Josh.

Josh and I were your typical college film geeks at the time; we had just been exposed to Italian Neo-Realist cinema, Film Noir, Cassavetes- all that stuff. But we were also comic book/animation geeks.

We were curious about how much of these styles and techniques could be applied to animation. We came up with rigid "naturalist" rules for 500 Pound Planet: all music had to come from actual sources in the scene. Characters would talk like normal people talk- stepping over each other, mumbling... The camera would be a fly on the wall, intruding as little as possible. We played with Orson Welles' "deep focus" technique. In our minds we were visionaries, auteurs, pioneers! In reality, we were pretentious nerds.

Previously: 500 Pound Planet: prelude (link).

China's homicidal net-addict bootcamps.

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast

This week on my podcast, Beijing journalist Jennifer Pak delivers a chilling report on China's Internet addiction "rehab" centers, where one youth was recently beaten to death. I also look at last week's 9/11 hoax in Germany and compare it to a media/web hoax I pulled 11 years ago, in which I convinced the local news that I had 6-month old babies around the world surfing the web. The question: is the press actually dumber about the Internet today then than it was back then?

MP3 link

Subscribe to Search Engine:

via XML (link)

on iTunes (link)

500 Pound Planet: Twin Peaks meets the Muppet Show

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.

When we got out of college, my buddy Josh Dolgin and I set out to make an eight-minute cartoon. We figured it would take us three months. The plan was to use the cartoon to get a TV show and become rich and famous. None of this came to pass.

Instead, we spent three years making a 45-minute weirdo sci-fi hiphop buddy film. We nearly lost our minds and our friendship in the process. The resulting cartoon (we were told) was too strange for TV and too long for film festivals. The whole thing amounted to nothing: a fiasco, a waste of time. Had we spent three years playing with Lego and poking each other in the gums, it would have been just as productive. We ended up selling a 25-minute cut of the thing to the CBC, who never aired it, and then we got as far away from each other as possible. Josh went on to international success as the Hiphop-Klezmer weirdo Socalled, and I became a public radio host.

The other week I watched 500 Pound Planet for the first time in five years. I was afraid it would make me cringe, but it didn't. I like our cartoon! It's messy and ambling, but I think it's got soul and does a pretty good job of capturing what our lives in Montreal were like at the time. Instead of feeling guilty about wasting three years making it, I now feel guilty at having abandoned it. Parents should treat their kids better than that, even if they're deformed. Especially if they're deformed.

So enough preamble. Here is part one of our bastard cartoon, 500 Pound Planet. I'll post the rest, a chapter a day over the week. Hope you like it, feedback welcome!

Will a clean fridge get you laid?

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.


My friend Corey Mintz is so proud of his well-stocked, spotless refrigerator that he sends pictures of its interior to girls he's wooing and has used it in place of a headshot on his online dating profile (high-rez link).

Now, this is no ordinary fridge- Corey is a chef and food writer (a good one, for the Toronto Star) so his fridge is filled with wonderful delights- top-notch doggie-bags, fancy mustards, homemade pickles and the occasional action figure. He obsessively packages and labels his sauces and glazes and eliminates any item at the first sight or smell of rottenness. He's actually indexed and published his fridge's contents (link).

So ladies, I put the question to you: does this fridge turn you on?

Happy 5770!

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest-blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.

Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

Let's hope it's a sweet one! No better way to kick it off then with this sweet classic from Moishe Oysher and the Barry Sisters, Halevai.

What a tour de force! Check Oysher's vocal gymnastics as he bounces off of the Barry Sisters' harmonies! He coulda been one hell of a freestyle rapper...

This song makes me happy every time I hear it.

How to Sample Wine Without Looking like a Clown

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest-blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.

Here's some more unpretentious wine instruction from Kathryn Borel Jr.

And here's a link to Borel's new memoir, Corked (link). Free sample chapter here (PDF).

9/11 hoax fools all of Germany

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest-blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.

Here's what DPA, Germany's national news wire reported this past September 11th 10th:

A terrorist attack occurred in the city of Bluewater, California. The suicide bombers were German rappers, the "Berlin Boys".

A half hour later DPA issued a correction: there had been no bombing. The "Berlin Boys" are not a rap group. The city of Bluewater does not exist.

It was all an elaborate publicity stunt to promote the satirical German film Short Cut to Hollywood. Filmmaker Jan Henrik Stahlberg and his team fooled their entire nation by creating fake websites and videos:

Here's the fake city of Bluewater (link).

Here's the fake local Bluewater news station, KVPK (link).

And here are the "Berlin Boys" with their club hit "Hass":

Wired has a detailed report (link).

Peter Bagge's Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest-blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.

I've been enjoying cartoonist Peter Bagge's contributions to Reason Magazine for years now, which I've always read on their website. But now Fantagraphics has collected them into a great-looking trade paperback! Here's a PDF of a free chapter (link).

Fans of Bagge's from his HATE days are sometimes turned off by the politics of his Reason comics. I'm not. I think Bagge has been doing really interesting work, mixing field journalism with humor and opinion in an entirely novel way.

As an essayist Bagge is never preachy, and he often points out the shortcomings of his fellow libertarians (his account of meeting Ron Paul is particularly funny). He explores more than he rants, and when he does let loose, he's got a healthy sense of self-satire.

These comics will piss you off, and that's good. (Amazon link)

How Islamist gangs use chat rooms to lure, torture and kill Iraqi gays

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest-blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.

The Guardian has a chilling report on how fundamentalist murderers are using the Internet to locate, entrap, and brutally murder dozens of gay Iraqi men:

Sitting on the floor, wearing traditional Islamic clothes and holding an old notebook, Abu Hamizi, 22, spends at least six hours a day searching internet chatrooms linked to gay websites. He is not looking for new friends, but for victims.

"It is the easiest way to find those people who are destroying Islam and who want to dirty the reputation we took centuries to build up," he said. When he finds them, Hamizi arranges for them to be attacked and sometimes killed.

(link)

Thanks, Phillip

Griddleville: amazing cartoon made entirely by one dude.

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest-blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.

The most creative guy I knew in high school was this kid Ba Blackstock. He drew hilarious cartoons, directed theatrical adaptations of Dan Clowes comics and made crazy short movies.

Later, he spent years of his life making this cartoon. He went old-school, penciling by hand over a light board (he's entirely self-taught). Then he inked and colored it and added 3D stuff digitally. Of course, he nearly lost his mind in the process.

The resulting cartoon speaks for itself.

NOTE: this is just one chapter. I recommend watching the whole 14 minute thing (link.)

How to saber a bottle of champagne

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest-blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.

Here's notorious Toronto lubricator Kathryn Borel Jr. teaching us how to festively slice open a bottle of bubbly without swallowing a single shard of glass!

Borel's memoir Corked just came out. It's really funny and makes wine seem interesting and meaningful (even to an oenophobe like me). Check it out! (link)

The Burley Boys: feral children who want TV

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest-blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.

Here's a cartoon I made starring my adorable little cousins. The person they're beating up is me.

Tonight: Search Engine launch party in Toronto

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest-blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.


poster by Emma Segal

If you live in Toronto, come have a drink with me at the launch party for the new season of my podcast! It's tonight at The Ossington (61 Ossington) from 7pm on.

If you can't make it, you can still have fun with us by putting words in my mouth: I'm crowd sourcing my toast, and will hold forth with whatever 400 words end up here.

I will illustrate my speech with a slideshow using whatever pix end up here.

Here's a sample of what's up there so far:

"I'm Jesse Brown, and this speach (sic) is a dream come true...And it goes out to the ladies. To Search Engine! [Chewbacca sound here]"

Jonathan Goldstein's Wiretap finally has a podcast!

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest-blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.
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Jonathan Goldstein's Wiretap is the greatest radio show you may have never heard of. That's because, despite being on CBC Radio for five years, building a dedicated cult audience, and just being generally wonderful, it's never been offered as a podcast.

Until now! Subscribe with RSS here or via iTunes here.

And check out the "unofficial" Wiretap archives here.

If you've never heard Wiretap before (or heard Goldstein on This American Life, or read his books) then you're in for a treat- he's a humble weirdo semi-genius. Whether he's imagining a hostile correspondence between Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble or rewriting the Bible, or absorbing abuse from his supporting cast of equally funny Montreal cronies, Goldstein is always dry as a bone and completely original. Check it out.

KlezHop freak Socalled

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest-blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.

Socalled AKA Josh Dolgin is an annoying, talented, annoyingly talented "buddy" of mine.

We used to make cartoons together but these days he's a big star on the European Klezmer circuit (!).

He fuses klezmer with hiphop, rediscovers aging novelty musicians and does stupid magic tricks. His live show is incredible.

I like this video of his better than his more successful one, but I'm usually difficult in that way. Enjoy!

Ira Glass talks about the Internet

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest-blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.

My podcast Search Engine launches a new season this week with a discussion between me and (my radio hero) Ira Glass, host of This American Life.

Ira is a pleasure to talk to, nimble and playful in his conversation, even when he's insisting that he has nothing to say! Ira Glass on Search Engine (mp3)

Subscribe to Search Engine: on iTunes

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All publicly funded content should be in the public domain.

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest-blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.


A few years ago I hosted a mini-series for CBC Radio called The Contrarians, a show about "unpopular ideas that just might be right". Each week I'd take a controversial opinion and try it on for size. Sometimes the show was serious, sometimes it was silly- I rarely agreed with the positions I took, but operated on the principle that no idea is so radical or offensive that we should be forbidden to contemplate it (if only to learn why we should discard it). The CBC brass was incredibly supportive of the project and I was given license to explore a lot of unorthodox subject matter. Topics included:

  • *Multiculturalism doesn't work (we just eat each other's sandwiches).
  • *Feminism isn't dead, it's just finished (take a bow, ladies- you won!).
  • *It's a myth- Canadians aren't funny.
  • *Copyright should be abolished.

I'd love to link to these shows now, but I can't. They were never posted online or offered as podcasts. I tried posting them on my personal website, and was instructed to take them down by CBC management. I was told I was violating their copyright. Every now and then I'll get an email from a teacher or listener requesting an episode of The Contrarians, and I have to explain that I'd be breaking the law to send one.

Let's put aside my personal frustration at having my work locked away. The real question here is, since CBC content is funded by the public, shouldn't the public own it? Or at least have access to it? Actually, the CBC archives are just the tip of the iceberg: the overwhelming majority of stuff made for Canadians with Canadians' money is inaccessible to Canadians.

In Canada, movies are supported by Telefilm, TV by the Canadian Television Fund, books and art by The Canada Council for the Arts, and so on. But most of this stuff isn't distributed very well or for very long, and you can only get your hands on a fraction of it.

So I want to put forth one more contrarian position: I think that any publicly funded content should (within, say, 5 years of its creation) be released to the public domain.

Thoughts? (Un-Canadians welcome. Let's open an international discussion about this.)

Beloved artist to nation: "Keep Your Mouths Shut"

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest-blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.

Norman McLaren is well-known to Canadians as the creator of the Oscar-winning anti-war animation Neighbours (which seemed to air every hour past midnight on public TV when I was a kid). But the NFB's extensive and amazing archives contain a wealth of other McLaren creations- including the following piece of terrifying WWII propaganda: Were there Nazi spies in Canada during WWII or was McLaren a paranoid propagandist? I am completely ignorant about this period of Canadian history- can some BoingBoinger educate me?

Mommy, where do cartoon characters come from?

Jesse Brown is a guest-blogger on BoingBoing. He is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.

Noticing that most cartoon characters lack genitals, I made a short animation explaining where new cartoon buddies come from...

The Birth of Century Sam from Jesse Brown on Vimeo.