Story of the Day // Cowbird by g

Today, a story I wrote was Cowbird Story of the Day. It was pretty exciting to see it in my morning inbox.

Cowbird is an amazing storytelling site and one of the only sites that I think manages to put the community back into social media, likely because its organized around meaningful content, not just brief status updates and accumulating friends.

They are currently featuring stories about marriage equality (awesome), which is how mine came to be featured. Reading back over it, it's crazy that after just two years, the sentiment I expressed feels totally dated. People don't really ask me too many awkward questions anymore...although they continue to be very interested in how we will have children. It's hard for me to blame them for that, though. I am also interested in how we will have children. 

In retrospect, I hope I wasn't too harsh in my writing. It was how I felt at the time. But since then, so many amazing things have happened. DOMA has been struck down. Equality continues to move forward. And, for the most part, people simply say a heartfelt, "congratulations!"

Read the story >

Who Shut the Government Down? by g

Last week, I was feeling rather frustrated. The government shutdown just felt like another Congressional temper tantrum. I wanted to do something, but I couldn't figure out what.

I was hearing a lot on the news about what the shutdown would mean for us–the closing of the national parks, federal furloughs, etc. What I wasn't hearing though was how the whole thing had gone down and who we could hold accountable come next election day.

So, I did some investigating and found out. This list is a result of my research:

It quickly went viral, garnering thousands of shares on Facebook.

Check it out and vote accordingly >

Shapes App by g

Say hello to Shapes, a fun and innovative iPad application for learning how to play music!

I've been pitching in (in a very pinch hitter way) to help my pals David and Mara get Shapes going. I'm so proud of them. The app they built and released is super smart–fun to play with and educational along the way.

Essentially, the premise is that you learn music by playing along with your favorite songs. The app runs off the YouTube API, placing a translucent keyboard over actual music videos. It is pretty rad.

Check out Shapes >

The Dumb and Ugly Club // Mars, 1967 by g

It's been almost eight years since Michael Beauchamp and I released this record. Now, you can finally listen to it on the Internet:

The basic concept: a fictional space war on Mars in 1967 (and JFK is still the president). We thought we were being clever with this very strict creative constraint, but really, on some subconscious level, I see now we were just giving ourselves permission to talk about the wars that were ongoing in Iraq and Afghanistan. At that moment, the height of the G.W. Bush years, we felt helpless and disempowered, fiercely anti-war, but completely unable to do anything about it.

We recorded most of it in my living room and also collected field recordings by walking around Ann Arbor with a microphone. I produced it all on my laptop. Alexis Jakobson did all the design, mostly lifting and re-appropriating images from 50s and 60s science and space books.

We released it on the evening of November 19, 2005 at Arbor Vitae. Our opening band was Breathe Owl Breathe and we brought Matt Jones and Chris Bathgate on as our backing band. Someone suggested we dress as robots or spacemen, but we decided that would restrict our ability to sing and play instruments. I think it was a good call.

Putting it online is a nostalgic move on my part. When I listen back, I can hear that it doesn't all hold up. But the time and the people I was working with still occupy a dear place in my heart. Unlike a lot of other things I produced at this time, I'm still proud of it—and I still believe there was something a little magic about it.

Listen here >

Kurt Vonnegut's Rules of Fiction by g

Kurt Vonnegut had eight rules for writing fiction. They are brilliant, all eight:

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
4. Every sentence must do one of two things -- reveal character or advance the action.
5. Start as close to the end as possible.
6. Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them -- in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

One of my favorite Vonnegut books is his debut, Player Piano, which is not one of his most popular by any stretch. Its ending contains an astounding revelation about human nature.

I highly suggest you read it >

One Week One Band by g

Last week, I wrote more about The Fiery Furnaces than I even knew I could. The pieces made up a week-long feature for the truly awesome music blog, One Week One Band. While it may have been one of the least popular OWOB weeks ever (The Furnaces are definitely an acquired taste), going so far into one band's canon was a challenging and rewarding writing experience. And at least I can rest assured that the first piece I did for the project is getting a lot more love (and hate).

The site does a great job with deep dive, long form music criticism. If you love listening to and learning about music, definitely worth checking out.

More than you ever wanted to know about The Fiery Furnaces >

Huge SF by g

I'm thrilled to have been offered the opportunity to help build a brand new outpost of Huge here in SF. In classic startup fashion, I'll be filling a split role: half copywriter, half content strategist.

First client: top secret.

The Birdy by g

I just finished writing an Ebook for The Birdy, a kickass personal finance site. Also been helping out with blog posts and scipts for their explainer video.

Not sure when the book will be live yet, but eventually, you'll get a free download when you sign up. I think the app is so useful and actually makes keeping track of your spending fun, weird as that sounds.

Check out The Birdy >

Treat by g

Have you ever heard of Treat? It's ok, I hadn't either. And then, suddenly, I became the voice of Treat:

Treat is smart, sassy, more than a little sarcastic and ready to sell you a customized greeting card. In other words, a very fun brand to get to create from an editorial perspective, and then actually bring to life with the writing.

Also, the folks at Tiny Prints and Shutterfly: seriously good people.

Check out Treat >

Cowbird by g

Been trying out this Cowbird thing. I love it. It seems like the first genuine web community I've come across since the early days of Livejournal. And I sure never thought I'd say that.

Seriously though, as a storytelling platform, I think they nailed it. For me, it'll probably just be a testing ground for new material that I'm not really ready to try to pitch or properly release yet.

Downton Linney by g

Don't you think it's weird that PBS feels like we need the American actress Laura Linney to introduce the fantastic, but very British Downton Abbey every single time? Yeah, me too.

That's why I created Downton Linney. Because Laura Linney's continued intro presence is at once endearing, puzzling and kind of annoying.

Hear Laura Linney out >

Huge LA by g

I've been having a blast freelancing for Huge LA, working with clients like Celebrity Cruises and VPI. Pretty happy with how this tag came together with the design: