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I'm in a movie!

Check me out in "Man of Crisis" a fun action hero project Verizon has up online.
I uploaded my photo and this is what they did with it.

Update June 21 2007
I had to remove the video. it autoplayed every time the page loaded. annoying.

Live from Acela - My Life

This has been an insanely busy week for me, as reflected in my below average blog postings, but I managed to make room for a friend who wanted to write a profile about me for his writing class. The interview ended up lasting 4 hours over a two day period, but I'm so glad I did it. It was the most comprehensive view of my life I'd ever shared or even thought about internally.

The questions were focused around the origins of my interest in comedy and politics. I told him things I'd never mentioned to anyone, like my experience in an all-black, conscious Boy Scout troop and our trip to a Masonic temple in DC to discuss its use of African imagery. (the Mason's were like, "African?? oh Noooo, those are universal symbols").

Answering his questions got me to appreciate even more the life I have, the family I have and really just everything. I'll let yall know when his profile is in a publication somewhere.

Weekly Dig Column #10: Me, My Mom and Iowa

(this is my 10th column for the Dig and I'm damn proud of it. You can see the original article on their site with cool artwork, etc). I have been to Iowa three times in the past two years. That is strange behavior for any black man who is not named Barack Obama. These trips have got me thinking, not about Election Day, but about Mother's Day and why Iowa figures so prominently in several defining moments in my relationship with my own mother. My first visit to Iowa was in April 2005. I was driving west on a road trip with my mom and sister, as Ma fulfilled her lifelong dream of moving to Washington state. After several nomadic years in Massachusetts, each of which placed her closer to me -- Pittsfield, Attleboro, Fall River -- and with her only son deemed fully "raised," my mom decided it was time to go. With the full Thurston family in convoy formation, we spent the ride talking pets and politics. We made our most memorable stop in Waukee, Iowa. This was not intentional. We had been aiming for Des Moines but managed to miss it even though the map said we drove right through it. Suggestion to Des Moines: Put up some buildings. On the other side of the "city," my mom spotted a sign for "LT's Organic Farm and Restaurant." We could not resist. This was, after all, the woman who introduced rice cakes, sprouted bread and homemade tofu into her children's diet. We stopped at LT's for the best meal I've ever had in the US outside of my family's cooking. Take that, Taco Bell. The second visit to Iowa was in November 2005. I was driving east on a road trip alone, transporting my mom's belongings after her passing. In the summer of 2001, she had been diagnosed with colon cancer and underwent surgery. Years later, living in Portland, OR, on the coast of her dreams, the cancer came back with a swift vengeance. There was very little time. We saw many doctors and even flew her to Dana-Farber, but it was not enough. There were moments of joy, however. She answered the "Do you know who the president is?" question with "I'd rather not say." On that solemn drive in November of 2005, I stopped at LT's again and gave them one of the many blankets my mom had crocheted. Of course they remembered her. The third and most recent visit to Iowa was three weeks ago, on the second anniversary of that initial westward journey. I was speaking and performing at Iowa State's First Amendment Day, when I stumbled across the Iowa African-American Hall of Fame. The "hall of fame," I'm sure, was just an annual listing of every black person to ever live in Iowa. I’m surprised that they needed last names. They could have said simply "1996: Steve, Bill, Janice. 1997: James, Eddie, That Guy at the Conoco. 1998: Steve again." I would like to add a name. "2005: Arnita." Although my mother was only there for a day, Iowa was lucky to have her, even for that moment. To the woman who raised two college-graduating kids alone in DC, who enjoyed telling a story as much as hearing one and who taught me the guiding lesson of my life, "Always question authority," I say: Happy Mother's Day, Ma. BARATUNDE THURSTON IS THE PROUD SON OF ARNITA. HE MAINTAINS A MEMORIAL WEBSITE AT DAMBUDZO.COM.

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PTKC - Proud to Know Clarence

A week ago I got an email from a brother named Clarence. We had some mutual friend in common, and Clarence reached out to say wasup. After stalking his online presence via his blog/podcast, twitter and Flickr, we made it happen with a three hour brunch yesterday in Inman Square. Trust me, I don't do three hour brunches with just anybody. He had some valuable insights on my article-in-progress about why black people leave Boston, but we also talked Nintendo Wii, conferences (he really needs to be at SXSWi next year), the end of oil (my new hot topic), his comic book fetish, what he does in Second Life and why Eric Rice, aka, spin is on some serious next level ish. Later in the day I mentioned him to friend who knew we were doing the brunch thing. She'd forgotten his name but asked, "is that the cool, artistic, black man you met today?" Indeed. Listen to his short, infinitely listenable podcasts in the player below: style="width:220px; height:160px;" id="FeedPlayerAudioSlim" align="middle" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src="" quality="best" bgcolor="#ffffff" scale="noScale" wmode="window" salign="TL" FlashVars="initialview=menu&autoplay=no&standalone=no&share=yes&repeat=no"> Put my show and this player on your website or your social network.

I need audio web tech help PLEASE

Update 07:33 am: problem solved. I just re-encoded the mp3 at a lower bitrate. all good now. Thanks, Mike, for being willing to help. I can go to sleep now

My podcast is not streaming correctly from either my blog or the main website. Check it out. Look at this blog entry, and you'll see a graphic that says "+ Audio MP3" Clicking on it results in garbled madness. But if you click on "download the mp3 file," it works fine. Also, earlier podcasts work with the flash player.

Similarly, look on my main website and try to play the most recent podcast with the blue play button. same garbage. but click on any previous episode, and it's fine.

Both the most recent and prior seven podcasts were made with Garageband, exported to iTunes and converted to mp3 in iTunes.

The files are hosted on different servers, cause i thought that might help, since the problem was there when they were on the same servers.

i have no idea what to do, and I want it to be easy for people to play the episode right in their browsers. this is so sad. i just decided to re-commit to the podcast, and this crap happens. makes me want to stick to text blogging and twitter. audio and video are a lot of work, and I don't have time for the b.s. associated with them. i started the podcast at 9:30pm, and it's 6am now.

how do people do it???

I can speak!!

I saw a laryngologist yesterday, and I do NOT have vocal nodes and am allowed to speak again! My month of silence is over. Phew! I do have strained vocal chords and need voice therapy plus some acid reflux meds, but this is great news. I can do podcasts and gigs and have conversations again! I can be understood! Goodbye, flash cards.

Hmm, just realized that maybe it was all that talking that got me here. I'll take it a bit easy until the vocal therapy, but this is still great news.

My sister is blogging

Hey yall, my sister, Belinda Thurston, is running a year-long project at the Lansing State Journal (in Michigan) on Aging. The project will last a year and includes print specials, web content, video and blogging. She's just posted a piece about long term care. Check it.

Apple Fans are Racists and Rapists

photo via lakerae on Flickr I have blogged about many topics since the summer of 2004. I've addressed modern racism in America, Jerry Falwell's meddling with Oreo Cookies, and Dave Chappelle's "theft" of my joke. None of these, however, got as massive an immediate reaction as this morning's post "i hate the smugness of apple." Check out the comment section. The Situation I spent nearly two hours last night trying to install a set of software called Final Cut Studio. The process kept getting cut short, though. I'd get these messages that would pop up and say "There were errors installing this software. Please try again." There was no hint of what the problem might be. I was just told to "please try again." I did, and the same useless error message kept appearing. Each attempt to install took about 45 minutes. Anyone can see how this might be frustrating. I searched the apple support forums as the phone lines were closed at that hour. I became frustrated, and all I could think of were those "Get a Mac" ads. You know the ads. They're very popular. They're funny. They're cute. And, moreso than other advertising, they pissed me off. Those ads basically say that Macs never have problems. They never crash. They "just work." Only idiots would use PCs, according to these ads. Now, I'm a fan of technology, computers and Apple. I recommend Macs to friends seeking computer advice. I "got a mac" two years ago and have had a better experience with it than with prior PCs. I know computers well. I paid for college with a combination of software testing and advanced technical support jobs supporting PCs and Macs. I built a TiVo before there was such a thing as TiVo. I am not an idiot. But those damn ads bug me. They bug me in the same way elements of the Republican Party bug me. The Republican Party attempted and succeeded in identifying itself with religion and morality. To hear them tell it, if Jesus were alive, he'd be their party chairman. This attachment to a certain branch of Christian religion has served the party well. They've gotten ministers to promote their candidates and created a litmus test for purity that keeps all but the most sure-minded and thick-skinned of candidates from seeking nominations. But there is a cost. As I mentioned in the wake of the Mark Foley scandal:
When you present yourself as perfect, you are asking to be brought down by your inevitable imperfections. The Republicans made morality a partisan issue, and now they are getting what they deserve.
Apple has become increasingly aggressive in its attacks on Microsoft. That's cool. It's a marketing tactic, but the strategy is dangerously arrogant and, yes, smug. When you tell me your products don't crash, and then my computer crashes, or you say "unlike a pc, it just works" while I'm suffering from your well-documented "random shutdown syndrome," that poses a problem. You have set yourself up for an inevitable fall or at least, frustrated users. Fanboys or Racists and Rapists? I'm a black dude who grew up in Washington, D.C. with its hometown "redskins" football team. That name is horribly racist and derogatory, at least according to many Native American tribes who have protested its use for some time now. I remember bringing this up in high school, and many of my friends would say, "no, it's not racist." Uh, excuse me, but the Native people say it is. "No, it's not." Women are sadly familiar with this routine. If a woman is sexually harassed or even raped, often the first questions challenge what she was wearing or "doing there." The implication is that she either brought it on herself, or it didn't happen. "I got raped." "No, you didn't." This is denying the validity of someone's experience, and I've come across it all too often on lighter issues involving technology. The Palm Treo is a fine example. Search the discussion board for people having problems. If you don't tow the party line, people actually personally attack you and claim that either what you said didn't happen or that it was all your fault. The "redskins" can't be racist, and that woman just misunderstood, and Apple isn't smug at all. The comments I got on that piece were something else. I'll share:
The ads are what David does to Goliath. If you're with Goliath's crew, you'll find the ads annoying. We David's cheer when they come on. As for your install, sorry. Macs are computers and sometimes they do fail and sometimes they do frustrate. If you're coming from the PC world, as I suspect you are, you may not yet understand the Macintosh way, which is to not overthink things. A cross-upgrade? Does this require FCP to recognize the program you're replacing it with? I suggest reinstall the original program, then install FCP. Best wishes, Richard Taylor
Oh, now I get it. I'm with Goliath's crew. That completely explains why my installation didn't work. Clearly my mind is not yet prepared, and I must continue to study "the Macintosh Way" until I figure out how to not "overthink things." I would love for you to explain to me just how I overthought things. Seriously. I've been trying to figure it out, but I'm afraid I may be overthinking how I overthought the situation. Richard Taylor, I respectfully ask you to STFU. Are you kidding me? I follow the instructions, insert the DVDs as told, and the process fails. Somehow this is a reflection of my spiritual unworthiness. Oh please STFU!!
I love the smugness of Apple. I'll go further, I love the ARROGANCE of Apple - that's what it is most of the time. When things don't work - you're fairly certain it's your own fault, and it's up to you to figure out the solution - rather than screaming to the heavens that the people who sold you the machine screwed it all up. So much of my ego is wrapped up in the elite cloud of Mac Zealotry that surrounds me that I REFUSE to let something not work on my Mac. I will make it work (or just declare that it isn't worth doing). With Windows, I'm usually convinced it's a bug right away and give up because I don't have the slightest bit of my self-image wrapped up in whether or not Windows "just works". - Steve
Steve. It sounds like they got to you, buddy. Because you use a Mac, you assume that all problems are your own fault? That sounds like an abusive, unhealthy relationship. Is this the mysterious "Macintosh Way" Richard espouses? I'll let you in on something, Steve. Sometimes daddy makes mistakes. Sometimes the teacher is wrong. Get some self-esteem and take control of your life man.
Only nerds, professional IT workers (and only the ones that use MS software exclusively), and people who work for MS-centric publications are offended by these commercials. - Tedious
Ok, so first. STFU. How did you even find my blog? Why did you comment? What are you? Some kind of nerd or something?
Do you mean upgrade? Final cut anything is an Apple only product. How do you cross-grade? - Joe S.
No. I mean "crossgrade" just like I said. Joe is the second commenter to question the crossgrade. For other uninformed haters who come along and question my understanding of technology. Check your beloved Apple website for an explanation.
One thing you can do is take a look at the various logs including your console.log and the system.log. Many times there is more information than is presented to the average user. You can find the console application in: /Applications/Utilities/ There might also be a specific installation log for the application you are trying to install. The mere existence of these log files shows that Apple in no way believes that their system and application software never has problems. Don't confuse marketing with engineering. - James Bailey
Thank you James. Really. You make a great point, and you actually tried to help. As for confusing marketing with engineering. Clearly I have done no such thing because the engineering doesn't always work. If I had confused marketing with engineering, I'd be engaged in self-flagellation, blaming myself just like Steve. As mentioned above, I just think Apple is playing a dangerous game with these claims of moral superiority. But really, you're the only one who offered something useful. So thanks.
I hate the smugness of your post I mean, seriously, who the hell are you? What makes you qualified to criticize Apple? Who cares what you think? Sounds like you're dealing out a fair bit of smugness yourself. So, ya, those Apple ads are ADS. Just like Microsoft never mentions the constant crashing and continuous onslaught of viruses in any of their ads, Apple doesn't mention that perhaps you might get in a situation you don't understand in their ads. What a surprise. At least Apple has a basis for their smugness, you on the other hand, I'm not so sure about. - nope
Who the hell am I? Who the hell am I??? I'm Baratunde Rafiq Thurston!!! This is my blog, fool! The real question is, who the hell are you?!?!? What makes me qualified to criticize Apple? I'm a damn customer. I've spent thousands of dollars with them. I'm a human being! What is with you people? Why would you say something so retardedly retarded? Are you serious? Do I need to be a certain type of person to share my thoughts? What makes you qualified to criticize my criticism of Apple? Ooooh. Think about that. But please, don't overthink it. Then you'd be violating the Macintosh way. As for who cares what I think. Clearly you do. You have no concept of the depth of your own irony. Damn. The Solution Today I called Apple's phone support and worked with a very nice guy named Shawn. He helped me figure out where the installation went wrong by looking into a "Receipts" folder for necessary packages. While a test was running in the background, I told him about my frustration with the Mac ads, and with the response to my post last night. "Yeah, those commercials can be really frustrating when things are going wrong." I couldn't believe he said that. I told him about the flamers and haters who assume I'm some sort of idiot. He went on. "No, I could tell from the start you knew what you were talking about. We love customers like you." And I love people like him. He validated my experience!! Thank you Shawn, for not being a racist or a rapist. Update 2/28/07 @ 14:52: a reader emailed me a link to this Rolling Stone article: Is Apple the New Evil Empire? Update 3/1/07 @ 16:25: The Wall Street Journal ran a story today about the Mac v PC ad campaign overseas and how Apple had to work to adjust the humor for Japanese and British audiences. I loved this part of the article, proving that the Brits get it :)
Even with the use of local comedians, the ads haven't received a completely warm reception in Britain. One newspaper columnist, Charlie Brooker of the Guardian, mocked Apple for trying to be too cool and delivering a "series of brutal coordinated attacks." "When you see the ads you think 'PCs are a bit rubbish yet ultimately loveable, whereas Macs are just smug, preening tossers'," he wrote on February 5. (A tosser is a pretentious person.) A polling firm, YouGov PLC, found respect for Apple fell in Britain after the ads started appearing in cinemas and Web sites January 29. According to a YouGov daily survey of 2,000 people, perceptions of the Apple brand, measured on a scale of 1 to 100, fell to 8 from 14 in the five days after the ads first appeared. "There was nothing else happening that we know of that would have moved the figure," says Sundip Chahal, brand index director at YouGov.

i hate the smugness of apple

this is what bugs the hell out of me about those damn "get a mac" ads and generally makes me want to punch a baby over apple products in general.

this company is the most self-absorbed, arrogant and smug organization on the planet. it has created an image of "it just works -- tee hee" and "we never have problems."

that's not goddamned true!! i'll let you in on a little secret: macs crash. oh yeah. and sometimes, software doesn't work right. yep. and get this: upgrading isn't fool-proof either. what a bunch of lying biatches.

I just spent two hours trying to cross-grade to final cut studio and keep getting booted out of the process with no explanation. I just get

There were errors installing the software. Please try again.

I try again, and guess what?

There were errors installing the software. Please try again.

How about you explain the error, huh? This is bullshit. I hope Steve Jobs goes to jail over the stock option scandal and hackers develop badass Mac viruses to humble these bastards. And for the love of God, kill those f---ing commercials!!#@$!@#$@! You should not be allowed to run those motherf---ing commercials while I suffer over your shitty product!!!!!!!!!@#$@#$@!#$!@#$%

damn i'm frustrated.

Update: my response to the various responses is in this new post. and welcome to all the readers of