New Zealand Book Council: Going West

The mission of the not-for-profit New Zealand Book Council is to promote literacy, with special emphasis placed on the writers and writings of New Zealand. Their diverse programs educate and entertain children and adults throughout the country.

The following short film, which uses paper cut animation of Maurice Gee’s novel Going West, was launched mid-November and has since breached the top ten videos on the Viral Video Chart compiled by Unruly Media. (It has fallen to number 11 at the time I am writing this post.)

Everything in the film is made by hand. Scalpel blades, paper, and eight months of hard work and patience combine to create this intriguing film.

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Video SparkNote: 1984 by George Orwell

While growing up I held the impression that SparkNotes were something to be avoided, a scheme for cheaters who didn’t read their assignments. It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I finally read a guide out of curiosity. It discussed George Orwell’s 1984.

I wish I had known before the value of these little books. I now purchase guides for all of my favorite literary classics. (SparkNotes covers a lot of other subjects also.)

Recently I came across VideoSparkNotes’s Channel on YouTube. Right at the top of the page is an animated video covering 1984. It contains a plot summary, an analysis, and a discussion of the major characters and themes from the classic novel. It’s worth a look for its incredible animation alone.

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Making of Bang-yao Lui's Short Film, Deadline

I posted Bang-yao Lui’s Deadline yesterday. In this video, the director gives us a look into the making of the short film.

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Five Tips for Fighting with Deadlines

Ever feel the pressure to meet a looming deadline? This video out of the Savannah College of Art and Design employs post-it notes to provide a visual representation of that struggle.

Deadlines — those pesky little dates by which projects are due. The word “deadline” appears to have originated in an 1864 US congressional report regarding the detainment of prisoners during the Civil War.

A railing around the inside of the stockade, and about twenty feet from it, constitutes the ‘dead line,’ beyond which the prisoners are not allowed to pass.

It was an actual line, drawn in the dirt or marked by a fence or rail, restricting prisoners in Civil War camps. The men were warned, “If you cross this line, you’re dead.” Guards and prisoners often referred to the line by its descriptive name, the dead line.

The term has been adopted by journalism, and by extension publishing and writing, to communicate the importance of the latest date at which copy may still be used. The implication being that “Your story is dead if you go beyond this time to finish it.”

The fast pace of modern life has made deadlines essential not just for reporters and other writers but in every field and activity. There’s even a web app named Deadline to help.

My guess is that, like me, you feel hammered by deadlines. I hate to say it, but it’s our own fault. Poor attitudes, procrastination and lack of planning can pressure even the simplest and most enjoyable of projects.

Here are five tips for those of us who fight with deadlines:

  1. Adjust your attitude. Whether we realize it or not, attitude counts for a lot. A positive approach to tasks prevents us from getting bogged down in monotony (and even sick). A poor attitude slows our pace, lessens the quality of our work and alienates those who can help us.
  2. Prioritize tasks. Making a list of important tasks can save us from wasting time on trivial matters. A good priority list distinguishes between urgency (pressure to get some thing done) and priority (valuable and productive work). It can even help us to avoid procrastination by cutting unnecessary activities.
  3. Write fast.There’s something to be said for just getting the words on paper. We can worry about spelling, grammar and style after the project is written down. Completing short tasks — such as answering e-mail or composing blog posts — in small blocks of time can be an efficient way to get things done. Small blocks (e.g. ten minutes) are also a good tool to chip away at large projects.
  4. Anticipate problems. Large projects always require last minute changes. Planning ahead for revisions and corrections will save us from a world of trouble.
  5. Ask for help. It never hurts to ask. (If it does, we should find other people to work with.) Delegating tasks is an excellent, and sometimes necessary, way to get things done. However, we must be careful not to rely on the time-lines of others. They have their own challenges to deal with.

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LEGO Minifig Prank Calls Construction Company

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Ray Bradbury Never Mentioned Prunes

Speculative fiction author Ray Bradbury appears in this vintage commercial for Sunsweet Prunes.

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Pink Cross Foundation Champions Women

I first discovered Shelley Lubben and the Pink Cross Foundation through social media site MySpace. Shelley uses the application to reach out to porn stars and those addicted to pornography. It’s just one of several tools employed by her faith-based 501(c)(3) charity.

The Pink Cross Foundation offers emotional, financial and transitional support to adult industry workers. The foundation also reaches out to those struggling with pornography offering education and resources for recovery.

Shelley was once a porn actress and prostitute. After years of abuse within the industry she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depressive Disorder, Impulse Control Disorder and substance abuse. She was prescribed anti-depressants, Lithium and sleeping pills and recommended psychiatric counseling for many years.

She eventually reached a breakthrough. According to

After finding God through Christianity and enduring eight hard years of recovery at the Champion’s Center, Shelley conquered the horrible effects of her past and became a Champion in life through the power of Jesus Christ. Ten years later Shelley began her mission to go back to the porn industry to reach out to porn stars and sex workers offering them solid help and hope. Shelley is also on a mission to smash the illusion of porn and help people overcome pornography addiction.

Shelley and her husband Garrett founded the Pink Cross Foundation. In addition to their work with porn stars and porn addicts, they combat community deterioration due to pornography and prostitution, educate the general public and attempt to influence legislation surrounding the porn industry.

Shelley Lubben and the Pink Cross Foundation can be found on MySpace, FaceBook and YouTube. The website offers a blog, forums and chat. Porn is not glamorous. Get the facts. Get help.

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