November 2012

Posted by Ellen

I don't know these boys, and the time for Halloween postings was way long ago, back in the regime of the gone-but-not-forgotten daylight savings time.

That said, has there ever been a better lot of Oompa Loompas?

Posted by Ellen

The landlord told the tenants in this little house in Seattle that the place needed painting, and that he and his guys would be taking care of it. And it was true, apparently, that it needed painting, and also true that the landlord and his guys came over recently to do the work.

The job took two weeks. They painted a sunrise on this side of the house, and a sunset on the other side. Before then, both sides had been plain and gray.

The tenants say they like the house and they like the landlord, and it will take a lot more than this to get them to leave.

Posted by Ellen

It does seem like we don't make anything in America any more, but that's not completely true. Right here under this roof in Easton, Pennsylvania, Americans make Crayola crayons and . . . Silly Putty. Not only that, but up the road a few miles they've got a factory outlet store and a Crayola Discovery Center, which is basically a crayon-themed theme park.

Still and all, this factory doesn't look quite right. You can't make a lot of crayons without heating up a lot of wax–shouldn't they have some serious smokestacks here?

Posted by Ellen

In the awkward but sort of proud tradition of bloggers promoting cool stuff from their friends and relations, we are pleased as punch to point you to Savvy Lessons, the new venture by Ted Stein and his partners Brad Clements and Bhagwan Khalsa.

A few years back, Ted wrote some software to help Brad and Bhagwan run their music school. By logging in online, students and teachers could schedule their lessons, track invoices, and generally deal with the business side of their musical life. On the music school website, somebody who wanted to learn, say, trombone could read about various trombone teachers around town and choose one based on musical taste, recommendations and reviews, credentials, teaching philosophy, and/or location. And somebody who wanted to teach trombone could catch the eye of potential students on that same website.
 
In other words, this software combines a bit of advertising, even matchmaking, with the basic business operations necessary for music teachers . . . or any other service professionals–from photographers to yoga instructors, tech support to babysitters. Currently, solo entrepreneurs or small businesses who offer services to the public cannot maintain an online presence and computerize their routine business activities without purchasing multiple software products and/or hiring a programmer.
 
Savvy Lessons, the first offering in the new Savvy Ware line of software, scales up Brad, Bhagwan, and Ted's music-school product for a nationwide market. Music teachers anywhere in the country can be matched to interested students nearby, using a web portal that can also manage lesson scheduling, accounting, invoicing, and other business functions.
 
Next will come a series of similar offerings optimized for different sorts of service businesses. Savvy Tutors, for example, will help tutors market themselves to students who need tutoring; it will also support them in their pedagogy with business-management software like that used by musicians.
 
Down the road, there's even a plan for Savvy Plumbers. Why not?
 
About that trombone teacher. Savvy Lessons offers many choices, but I think I'm inclined to go with a young Baltimorean, Corey Wallace, because his experience included a season with a touring company of The Music Man. In other words, he's one of the 76 trombones for real–definitely my kind of musician. You can hear him play, even watch a video of his solo with the Brent Birckhead Quintet, right there on Savvy Lessons.
Posted by Ellen

This holiday art appeared in the Saint Paul Globe, St. Paul, Minnesota, on November 22, 1903. There's nothing peculiar about a people who set aside a day for giving thanks, but maybe we are a little odd to have this day set aside for both football and gratitude.

Well, all right then. Thanks to all.

Posted by Ellen

He loves his dog, which we were told weighs 72 pounds. And he loves to ride his dog down the sidewalk on Rodman Street. You got a problem with that? 

Posted by Ellen

Among the eighteen hundred photos submitted for this year's Philly Photo Day is this moment in time captured by Bonnie Saporetti, taken somewhere in Philadelphia, some time on October 26.

Posted by Ellen

From the rooftops, here on Kater Street, you can see most of Philadelphia's gap-toothed skyline, such as it is. This is a city that had no tall skyscrapers at all until the late 1980s and does not yet have a critical mass of them, skyline-wise.

From a few fortunate vantage points around town, the buildings of Center City appear to clump together more or less like a proper downtown. But from most places, including the roofs of Kater Street's two-story row houses, the skyline looks raggedy and disorganized.

Actually, from the roof of our own house up toward the end of the block, you can't see the skyline at all on account of the trees–or at least that was the case last week, when we climbed up there and shot this picture. Since then, the leaves have yellowed and dropped quite suddenly, and we would imagine the view is now only partially blocked, by a lacework of tree branches. 

Posted by Ellen

In 1916, the Mountain Chief of the Piegan Blackfeet participated in a recording session with ethnologist Frances Densmore, who traveled the American West collecting Native music and reminiscences. The songs were recorded on wax cylinders and later pressed on vinyl.

In recent years, the Smithsonian has reissued much of the music, including a CD featuring a photo taken at the same time as this one. But the Blackfeet songs on the Smithsonian CD were all recorded no earlier than the 1930s. They are typical of Plains Indian songs, with elaborate vocalizations but very few words.

It is said that earlier Blackfeet songs, perhaps including the ones sung by this chief in 1916, had many more words and told long, complicated stories. Like so much of Native culture, it seems, the words are all gone now, and the singers have to try to sing without them.

Posted by Ellen

Fair Oaks District, Centreville Rd., 2300 block, Dec. 7. Animal control was called about a squirrel running inside a residence. When an animal control officer saw the squirrel, it jumped into an open baby grand piano. After the officer started playing the song "All I Want" by the group Toad the Wet Sprocket, the squirrel jumped out of the piano and onto curtains, damaging them. The squirrel then jumped onto the officer's head and pounced onto a couch, where the officer was able to catch it. The officer released the animal outside. Neither the squirrel nor the officer was injured.

(Reprinted from the February 12, 2001, edition of New Yorker magazine.)