Thursday, July 26, 2007

Brick Weekly, July 26, 2007 Issue

Brandt Identity
By Jennifer Pullinger

You can almost hear Don LaFontaine’s ominous voiceover introduction to the film now: “In a world where your identity and quality of life depends on corporate sponsorship, losing your sponsor could mean the difference between upscale condo living and West Virginia public housing.”

In his new comedic short film “nyc 2057ad,” Richmond animator and commercial ad designer Stephen W. Brandt explores what the future may hold if corporations are allowed to run our lives. The two-minute short recently made its television debut on Logo Network’s “Alien Boot Camp,” a show featuring gay and lesbian-themed animation.

39-year-old Brandt is part of Richmond’s creative community, and like many, a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University. And like so many more creative types, he paid his dues with stints in Los Angeles or New York City. In the early 1990s, he worked on the west coast in broadcast design at E! Entertainment Television and Turner Entertainment Networks. Later, he freelanced in New York City as an art director for such companies as PBS, Showtime and The Movie Channel.

Brandt held on to his freelancer status when he moved back here in 2001, but now his domain is animation and television commercial production. He says transitioning from broadcast design to what he does now wasn’t difficult to do artistically.

“I actually feel like I almost have—even doing television commercials through ad agencies—more freedom than I did before, simply because when I was in broadcast design, I was expected to work in the style of the television networks,” Brandt says.
Since then, Brandt has created commercials for the likes of Bojangle’s Chicken, The Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation and World of Mirth. He’s also written, produced, and directed some short films, in addition to “nyc 2057ad.” If that wasn’t versatile enough, he also composes the music for most of his animated shorts.

While he says he enjoys experimenting with a variety of looks and techniques, he is drawn to a few visual styles in particular. One of those Brandt describes as “the penny arcade look,” which is abstract, mechanical, contemporary and reminiscent of Betty Boop cartoons all at once. It is perhaps what TV ads would have looked like in the 1940s if advertising executives had access to today’s modern software. If commercials were fun to watch, as Brandt’s are, then viewers wouldn’t flip the channels in between breaks as much as they do.

(For the rest of the story...) Source: Brick Weekly

Tuesday, July 24, 2007, July 24, 2007

Some Assembly Required
A new exhibit at the Virginia Center for Architecture may change some people's minds regarding prefabricated housing.

When most people think of prefabricated housing, the descriptives bland, cheap and wide load are not far behind. But today's architects are re-imagining the design of manufactured homes as a more upscale, or at least, more livable option.

The Virginia Center for Architecture examines the current trend toward contemporary prefabricated and modular housing with its latest exhibit entitled "Some Assembly Required," which is on view and free to the public until Sept. 30.

Prefab homes are everything from factory-built kits of parts homes and modular units to mobile homes and houses that arrive fully assembled. Even some site-built homes that involve standardized parts and are labor-intensive can be considered prefab.

The multimedia exhibition offers a glimpse into the design and construction of eight modern modular house projects through animations, video clips, photography and material samples, as well as architectural assembly diagrams, drawings and scale models.

"I think a lot of times, people hear the word 'prefab' or 'modular housing' and they think about house trailers, and that as a stereotype is an image that is locked in a lot of people's minds," said Vernon Mays, the Center's curator of architecture and design.

(For the rest of the story...) Source:

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Brick Weekly, July 19, 2007 Issue

Let There Be Light
by Jennifer Pullinger

Many in the media cognoscenti believe that the internet, and blogs in particular, are the most democratic mass medium available and the easiest way for citizens to participate in the political process. What could be more democratic than a website devoted to open government? was created by Waldo Jaquith, a 28-year old Virginia Tech graduate and Charlottesville resident. Jaquith, who has been developing websites since he was 16, including the definitive Dave Matthews Band fan site and the community scuttlebutt blog, says the website’s name refers to the idea of government transparency, specifically that of the General Assembly.

How works is it collects, or aggregates, information about the General Assembly and presents it in a user-friendly format so those following along at home can stay on top of what Virginia’s lawmakers are doing.

(For the rest of the story...) Source: Brick Weekly

Monday, July 9, 2007

C-Ville Weekly, ABODE, "Green Scene," July 2007

Easy Being Green
Mow in peace

Miss the bygone era of soundless lawn mowers? Consider reviving it with a push reel mower, which are powered by—you got it—you. The advantages over gas or electric-powered mowers are many. Push reel mowers save energy, are quiet and relatively inexpensive (prices range generally from $100 to $200). Another plus is not having to fuss with starters or recharging.

The downsides? Self-propelled mowers are still better for cutting large yards and grass taller than 2".

Throwback mowing machines can be found at any home improvement store like Martin Hardware or Lowe’s.—Jennifer Pullinger

Source: July 2007, C-Ville Weekly, ABODE Supplement, "Green Scene"

C-Ville Weekly, ABODE, July 2007

Let’s play scribble
How to make any surface into a chalkboard

If your kids (or you, for that matter) can’t stop doodling on the walls, and you’re sick of scrubbing their masterworks off the satin-finish paint, devote a space to homegrown and temporary art by employing chalkboard paint. The stuff is made for virtually any surface, including wood, metal and plastic—even glass.

Buy chalkboard paint from any hardware or arts supply store. Then prep the surface as you would any other painting project. The final step is paint. Voila: instant canvas.

Benjamin Moore makes an acrylic-based chalkboard paint, while Rust-Oleum has a latex version. One quart is about $14. If you want the chalkboard to be magnetic too, simply slather the surface first with a magnetic paint undercoating. Or buy MagnaMagic’s two-in-one magnetic chalkboard paint. One quart covers 25 square feet and costs about $40.

Having your own in-house chalkboard allows you to write all of those things you were afraid to scribble on the Downtown Mall’s Free Speech Monument. Feeling like a censor? Removing the magnetic chalkboard altogether is also easy: Just sand it down and paint over it.—J.P.

Source: July 2007 C-Ville Weekly, ABODE Supplement

C-Ville Weekly, ABODE, July 2007

By the Numbers 20.6
(inches of rain we’ve gotten so far this year)

An arid May got us wondering: Are we in a drought? Actually, no: By mid-year, Charlottesville normally receives 21.8 inches of rain. Year to date for 2007, total precipitation was at 20.6 inches as we went to press.

Even though water is relatively plentiful this year, being proactive about conservation—especially with your lawn and garden—can‘t hurt.

Rainwater harvesting systems are one way to conserve, says Garnett Mellon, Easement and Education Programs Coordinator with the Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District. To do this, simply install a rain barrel on your gutter to collect the water.

You may also want to think about xeriscaping, the water-conserving landscape design concept that all the cool kids are into. “The idea behind it is you plant species that are drought-tolerant so they don’t require a lot of water and don’t need a lot of irrigation,” she says. Drought-tolerant plants include cacti, yuccas, sedem, portulaca, and herbs like thyme and lavender.

Mellon also says adding two inches of mulch around plants helps water retention in the soil.

Another tip: Install a drip irrigation system instead of showering water on your plants from overhead. Water from on high will just evaporate in the heat, Mellon says, while the drip system trickles water directly on the root zone.—Jennifer Pullinger

Source: July 2007 C-Ville Weekly, ABODE Supplement

Thursday, July 5, 2007, July 5, 2007

A Presidential Production
A new HBO miniseries, 'John Adams,' brings to life the least-glamorized of our founding fathers.

Jennifer Pullinger
Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The name George Washington immediately conjures up images of cherry trees, Mount Vernon and, of course, the Revolutionary War. With Thomas Jefferson, it's Monticello, the University of Virginia and his enduring ideals. But in between those great men of state falls President John Adams, easily the least glamorized of the triumvirate of first presidents.

Now, with Virginia commemorating the 400th anniversary of Jamestown and the celebration of history in the air, it seems fitting that a new film would begin to detail one of the nation’s least cinematically well-known founding fathers.

"John Adams" is a new HBO Films miniseries filming in the Commonwealth at locations in the metro Richmond area, as well as Colonial Williamsburg. The set and production offices were based out of the old AMF warehouse in Mechanicsville, while farmland in Hanover County and Powhatan County substituted for scenes set in early Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia.

(For the rest of the story...) Source: