weekend pairing

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Weekend Pairing: Women in Media

Have you seen that #NotBuyingIt hashtag flying around on Twitter, especially during high profile events like the Super Bowl? That campaign came out of Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s 2011 film Miss Representation, which profiles just how disturbing women’s representation in the media really is. The film includes perspectives from high profile media personalities (everyone from Katie Couric to Margaret Cho) and middle school girls alike. Miss Representation‘s website is full of more information, statistics, and ways to get involved in fixing this mess. Also, in putting together this post, I discovered that Siebel Newsom has a new film called The Mask You Live In, An Exploration of American Masculinity, coming out this year, and I’m really excited to see it.

Killing Us Softly: Michelle Pfeiffer Esquire TouchupsIf you took any women’s or gender studies classes in college, you’ve probably at least heard of Jean Kilbourne. A former model, she started collecting images of women in advertising back in the 1960s and ’70s. She started doing presentations about how women are portrayed in the media, and eventually filmed it, creating Killing Us Softly in 1979. That original documentary has been reworked and updated several times, and the most recent version came out in 2010: Killing Us Softly 4. You can stream it on YouTube in four parts:

Even if you’ve seen either of these before, they’re always worth a rewatch. You’ll seriously never see an ad the same way again. I’d love to hear your thoughts these films or issues! Feel free to share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences in the comments.


Weekend Pairing: A Snowy Pennsylvania

A tangle of snow

The snow started in Pennsylvania around Thanksgiving, and we’ve had a decently steady supply of it since, so it seems appropriate to feature snowy photos for this weekend’s pairing. Lucky for me, I’m holed up on my parents’ farm this weekend getting a ton of work done and visiting with old friends. It seems a little strange to be here on a mini-visit between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when it feels like I was just here and will be back again so soon for almost a week. The prospect of seeing wonderful friends made the trip back worth it. We’ll be having a murder mystery party and catching up over fake intrigue and snacks.

I hope your weekend is equally pleasant and productive, and that if you’re snowed in too, that you’re stuck somewhere wonderful during the storm.

A snowstorm on the farm

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Weekend Pairing: DIY Holiday Edition


I had seen this gold leaf pinecone garland weeks ago & decided I needed to make one. Except I skipped the whole gold-leaf process & took a pile of pinecones out back and spray painted them. There. The lazy girl’s guide to DIY Christmas cheer! What’s that? Oh, you’re right. Lazy girls don’t spray paint pinecones at all! Ok then, it’s the DIY Christmas cheer hacker that does that.

After they dried, I screwed in the hooks & tied them to twine. Ta-da! I ended up with three garlands and a ton of extra pine cones, so I picked out the prettiest ones and put them in a vintage milk glass dish I snagged at my favorite thrift store when I was back home over Thanksgiving.

pinecone garland

To be honest, I kind of cheated on the wreath. These flowers are from a friend’s wedding last year. She encouraged us to take as many as we wanted. I’d been wanting a fun way to use them since then & a simple wreath seemed like the perfect opportunity.

I picked up a straw wreath at Joann Fabrics, curled up on the couch with Love Actually, wound twine all around the wreath, and tied on my friend’s wedding flowers. Done!

If you feel so inclined to try any of these, let me know how it goes! I’d love to see what you do with them!

twine wreath

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Weekend Pairing: Design Edition

The Design of Everyday Things and Objectified Many of the best examples of industrial design are things that people don’t think were designed at all. Take the Post-It note. It’s something we take for granted that people don’t think of it as being designed. And what they don’t realize, is that from the moment they wake up almost everything that fills their world has been designed one way or another.
-Alice Rawsthorn, Objectified

Have you ever been absolutely confounded by something as simple as an office door, a landline phone, or an unfamiliar microwave? It’s not your fault.

The Design of Everyday Things, by Donald A. Norman, was recommended again and again by interface and user experience designers and finally by one of my instructors at University of the Arts. I finally paid attention, and I’m glad I did. When I can’t figure out whether to push or pull a door open, I no longer feel like it’s my fault for not being able to figure it out. If I have to think about how to use something, there wasn’t enough thought put into it by the original designer. Design solves a problem and makes things easier. If an item or experience creates problems or makes things more difficult, something is lacking in its design. Every object tells a story if you know how to read it. Henry FordI just started going through Hack Design. It is, as its name implies, a free design course for hacker/developer types. Every week a new lesson shows up in my inbox. The very first one, Lesson 0 (remember, they’re geared toward developers, so it makes sense), consists of watching Objectified. It immediately reminded me of DOET. Both focus on product and industrial design rather than interaction or interface design, but the concepts are applicable to any situation. Design, after all, is nothing more than thoughtfully, intentionally, and deliberately solving a problem.

Good design:

  • should be innovative
  • should make a product useful
  • is aesthetic design
  • will make a product understandable
  • is honest
  • is unobtrusive
  • is long-lived
  • is consistent in every detail
  • is environmentally friendly

Last but not least, good design is as little design as possible.

-Dieter Rams

Together, DOET and Objectified offer a really helpful introduction to the concepts of good design. I find myself thinking about the objects and experiences I encounter every day — the most mundane little things — and appreciating the person or team who spent countless hours thinking and prototyping their way through a problem to make my life easier.


Weekend Pairing: Elizabeth and the Catapult & Kishi Bashi

Elizabeth and the Catapult and Kishi BashiWe were first introduced to K. Ishibashi’s special brand of genius when we saw of Montreal at Union Transfer about a year and a half ago. I was blown away. He was the star of the show for me, even though he wasn’t who we’d come out to hear. He plays under the name Kishi Bashi, and we’ve seen him play in Philly twice since then, both times at the First Unitarian Church. The first time we saw him headline there, the show was in the basement. But soon he was movin’ on up, and we saw him play in the sanctuary of the Church just a few weeks ago.

There’s nothing Kishi Bashi can’t do with a violin, his voice and beatboxing skills, a microphone, and some pedals. I was rendered slack-jawed and speechless the first time we saw him, and still when I see him live, all I can do is shake my head in wonder. He can take a room from soaring and beautiful heartbreak to a dance party in less than 10 minutes. The man is a force. I love getting to peer into his process by hearing and watching him set up loops at the beginning of his songs.

Plus, he does a rad cover of “With or Without You” that you’ve also got to see. Don’t tell Bono, but I like Kishi Bashi’s better. I’ve also seen him play an Enya cover that is kind of amazing.

Both times he played at the Church, he was accompanied by the lovely Elizabeth Ziman, as Elizabeth and the Catapult.

Between the two of them, they’ve got some serious classical music chops. Both of them apply their years of study and practice to create unspeakably beautiful and modern sounds.