Note: Halloween is nearly here, so I’m going to depart from writing about my marketing communications work and other related topics. Instead, I’d like to share some of my thoughts and memories about the celebration.
I love Halloween. It’s one of my favorite occasions, and some of my best memories are tied to the event. In my mind, All Hallows' Eve comes down to the three “Cs”: costumes, candy, and deCorations. My thoughts on each:
My most inspired costume was that of a “pirate ghost captain” at age nine. I couldn’t decide whether to be a pirate or a ghost, so I went as both. I painted my face white and added a black beard and red scar. (Do ghosts sustain injuries and bleed? Probably not – I took some creative license.) Also, I wore a long black coat and a white skipper hat I got on a family trip to SeaWorld a few years before.
I had to explain my costume to some folks: “a pirate died and came back as a ghost!” This was years before the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, so haunted seafarers weren’t as well-known as they are now. Some of my other childhood costumes included a cowboy, a clown, a Charlie Chaplin inspired guy, a gangster, a soldier, and Casper the Friendly Ghost.
The older I become the less time and effort I wanted to put into my getup. I loved painting my face when I was younger, but my enthusiasm dropped off once I was a teen. The pirate ghost required some work, but not so much with the soldier. With that one, I donned a used army jacket and pants I bought at the local Army/Navy surplus store, and I borrowed my grandfather's black beret. It was an easy three-piece ensemble.
My costume philosophy since then has been: keep it simple and low-maintenance.
The last year I went begging was when I was 13 and in eighth grade. A friend and I dressed as soldiers in the aforementioned military-inspired costumes. We set out around 6:00 p.m., which was the unofficial start of trick-or-treating in my neighborhood. We didn’t end our pursuit of confections until 8:00 p.m., the unofficial end. (Is that two-hour window standard? I only lived in one place growing up.)
Two bigger kids can cover a lot of ground in 120 minutes, and we scurried from one dwelling to another. We rang the doorbell, grabbed the goods, said a quick “thank you,” and then it was on to the next one. I used a pillowcase to collect sweets, and it was pretty heavy by the end of the evening.
After we called it a holiday, I spilled my loot on my parent’s kitchen table and there was a mountain of items. What satisfaction! There seemed to be every type of candy, as well as various odds and ends like pennies, a toothbrush, campaign literature, and McDonald’s gift certificates. When I was a kid, Mickey D’s was even better than chocolate/peanut items. I enjoyed going there in the days after Halloween and getting a cheeseburger, fries, or a sundae.
My treat philosophy: chocolate is great, but fast food is better.
And now? Forget it! Pumpkin carving is never as fun as you think it’s going to be when you buy one of the orange squashes at the grocery store or pick it from Farmer Brown's patch. They smell funky, and the insides are wet and slimy. Also, carving is hard! You really have to put in some muscle to cut out those features. It's all too much.
My jack-o-lantern philosophy: leave it to the professionals with power tools.
On a final holiday note, I leave you with this short poem by Nina Willis Walter :
The witches fly
Across the sky,
The owls go, “Who? Who? Who?”
The black cats yowl
And green ghosts howl,
“Scary Halloween to you!”
For nearly 75 years, the Detroit Jewish News (JN) has been a fixture of the Jewish community in Southeast Michigan.
As a lifelong resident of Metro Detroit, it’s a special honor to be named to the publication's board of advisers. I'm one of 23 Jewish professionals in Metro Detroit asked to serve and each of us has something in common: a commitment to make the newspaper exceptional.
In 2016, the Michigan Press Association named JN's print edition the best weekly in the state in its circulation size. There are 40,000 weekly readers. I’ve enjoyed contributing stories in recent months and working with the paper’s talented staff, including Jackie Headapohl, managing editor, and Keri Guten Cohen, story development editor.
In order to help ensure the publication’s continued success, its website – thejewishnews.com – has been redesigned. Not only has the visual aesthetic changed, but more stories from the subscriber only print edition will be available free of charge. I encourage you to take a look at the site and email me your comments and suggestions. Also, please consider subscribing if you've read and enjoyed the print and/or online edition.
On behalf of the Detroit Jewish News, I appreciate your support!
Is print media dying? It's certainly headed in that direction – this according to the
Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism’s Digital News Report 2016. I was particularly struck by a handful of items while reviewing the document, including the following:
- Readership of printed newspapers has declined significantly
- Half of those surveyed use social media to obtain news and around
one in ten (12 percent) say it is their main source
- People overwhelmingly turn to Facebook to find, read/watch, and share news
I used to subscribe to Time and Entertainment Weekly (EW) and did so for some time. My interests include politics, history, and popular culture, and the publications, in combination, offer an overview of news and entertainment. I was genuinely excited when the periodicals arrived in the mail, as it was a nice change from the usual bills and store circulars.
Typically, I do most of my leisure reading at the end of the day in bed and magazines are well suited for that because they are light and compact. For years, I’d read the two magazines before turning off my bedside lamp and visiting dreamland. There was a point where I couldn’t imagine not being a subscriber.
Well, that changed when I bought my first smart phone two years ago. (I’m sure a lot of people have said that.)
Now, I use Facebook as my main news aggregator when I'm on my phone. I “like” the pages of various publications and the articles and videos the outlets post appear in my news feed. Rather than turn to magazines before sleep, I now scroll through the Facebook application and read stories and watch short films. Like a magazine, my phone is light and portable. Unlikely a magazine, however, my phone has the Internet and applications and that gives me access to an infinite amount of content. Score "one" for magazines; score "two" for phones.
Currently, I have only one paid print media subscription and that's to the
Detroit Jewish News. I want to know what's happening in the Jewish community in
Southeast Michigan, but my interest goes beyond that. I freelance for the paper and serve on its advisory board, so I want to help ensure the publication survives. Admittedly, I don't have the same vested interest in Time and EW – I'd still subscribe if I did.
Again, I ask: is print media dying? I hope not, but I know I'm contributing to its diminishment. While I love my laptop and smartphone and all that the Internet and social media has to offer, I do still enjoy leafing through the pages of a newspapers and magazines – just not in bed, it seems.
I recently revised a video project I did for Oakland Community College (OCC) Student LIFE, adding subtitles to a few pieces I created for ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990) compliance.
The videos are posted to OCC’s YouTube page and are shown to incoming students at academic orientations. The Student LIFE coordinators have indicated the pieces have become an important tool to educate new students about the school’s extracurricular activities.
As I began work on the Student LIFE subtitles, I found adding transcription enhanced the existing material. Here are three ways this element adds to my viewing experience:
1. Subtitles decide viewing habits: I watch several videos each week on Facebook, as do many others – Adweek reports users view more than 100 million hours of video every day. I’ve noticed subtitles are now more common in the pieces posted to the site. I follow several media/news sources, including Business Insider, CNN, and Mashable. Many of the subtitled videos these outlets post are short documentary style pieces similar to those I created for Student LIFE.
2. Subtitles are a learning aid: I like to hear a video's audio, as well as read the transcription. I find it’s easier to follow the content when both elements are provided – spoken and written content, in combination, is an effective way to impart knowledge. This is similar to a classroom setting when an instructor speaks to his/her slide presentation or that which he/she writes on a whiteboard.
3. Subtitles substitute for sound: there are times when I don’t have earbuds or headphones with me, so captions allow me to follow a video silently. This is especially helpful if I’m watching the video at a public place like a coffee shop and bringing up the sound would disturb others.
In summary, I highly recommend subtitles be added to your videos. Not only does text enhance a viewer's understanding of the material, but it can help ensure your video is seen and experienced.
Also, I want thank OCC Student LIFE for trusting me to tell their story. I enjoyed building relationships with the students and staff, and I was inspired by their commitment to make Student LIFE the best it could be.
I recently watched a fascinating documentary: “PressPausePlay.” The 2011 film is posted to YouTube, and it can be viewed below.
The movie looks at the digital revolution from a creative perspective. It asserts the availability of powerful, affordable consumer products in combination with the Internet has led to more opportunities to produce and distribute all manner of art – music, writing, video, etc. A variety of creative folks, including Moby, Robyn, Lena Dunham, and Sean Parker, share their thoughts on the digital age.
I was particularly struck by the documentary as it reflects my recent experiences. I completely agree – the Internet coupled with laptops, smart phones and the rest has changed the way I approach my work. Here are two examples:
1. Video Production: years ago, camera equipment was larger, heavier, and more expensive. Video was recorded on tape and that could also be costly. In addition, an entire editing bay with much apparatus was needed to piece the footage together, and a traditional broadcast outlet, such as public-access television, was required for distribution.
Now, I’m able to shoot high-quality footage on a relatively inexpensive video camera. I capture the video on a reusable memory card, edit it on my laptop, and distribute the finished product online. The entire process is so much more economical and convenient.
Now, I have this blog. I appreciate that I don’t have to go through a gatekeeper, and I can freely choose my topic. I'm certain my work will be published, and it has the potential to reach a mass audience. While I still pursue journalism and I appreciate the relationship between a writer and an editor, I enjoy having an outlet where I can share ideas that are of a more personal nature and I can do so without oversight. I love that writing and publishing can now be much more simple and straightforward.
Surely there are many others who also find the so-called “digital revolution” empowering. I’ve marvel at all the new technology, and I’m excited to see advancements in the years ahead.
I'm Eli Natinsky and I'm a communication specialist. This blog explores my work and professional interests. I also delve into other topics, including media, marketing, pop culture, and technology.