Archive for the Uncategorized Category

The Dark Genius of Kyle Cooper: Worth Sitting Through

Posted in Uncategorized on February 23, 2009 by jessicapruitt

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The Dark Genius of Kyle Cooper” early on uses a quote that sums up Cooper’s work: “The opening and closing credits are so good, they’re almost worth sitting through the film for.” A similar sentiment might be applied to the article, except change out “opening and closing credits” for writing and “film” for Kyle Cooper. Neither black widows (used by Cooper for inspiration) nor technology are particularly my area of interest, but I somehow stayed engaged in this story, which I credit to good organization, well-spaced quotes of the juiciest variety, and the use of an unusual subject matter. Cooper may be famous in Hollywood, but as for me? I had never given a second thought to the opening and closing sequences in Spiderman 2.

The piece begins with–you might want to sit down for this–a quote. But when an interviewee asks, “Do you want to see my black widows?” I guess you have to use it. Though I don’t generally approve of such quote-abuse, the author creates a successful anecdote based off of this which, furthermore, is appropriate (the aformentioned black widows starred in his opening credits for Spiderman 2). The story goes on to follow a kabob structure before ending with a juicy concluding statement about Cooper copy-cats. Furthermore, it brings the article full-circle by mentioning the octopus of paragraph one.

Because the article talks to a larger trend of Cooper-like titles, the Kabob works fairly well, but the author could certainly have benefited from a little more creativity. I would have liked to see a frame narrative or something similar that played off the opening and closing sequences that Cooper makes. As is, the article has a fairly narrow audience, but not in a bad way. While I might not enjoy reading about Cinema 4D and the graphics for Metal Gear Solid, others definitely would.

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Marc Jacobs Exposes the Latest It Bag (and himself!)

Posted in Uncategorized on February 23, 2009 by jessicapruitt

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Given that this Harper’s Bazaar article kicks off with Marc Jacobs “stripped down to a tiny pair of American Apparel underpants,” it wouldn’t need to be well-written. (It is, though.) The article starts strong with an intriguing scene-setting lead that depicts Marc Jacobs: in his underpants, covered in fuchsia paint, and wondering if he should have a cigarette despite the nicotine patch on his arm. The article ends with a broader statement by Jacobs regarding the economy, but keeps the same “I do what I want” vibe that permeates the first paragraph and, indeed, the entire article. The article is short, yes, but it was the detailed, edgy description and well-placed quotes that kept me reading.

The structure could be described as a martini with a twist. Instead of a mere summary of the most important info, the story starts off with a great description, managing to fit the critical information into the following two paragraphs. It then launches into a chronological account of the Marc Jacobs-Louis Vuitton-Stephen Sprouse partnership and ends with a strong quote by Jacobs. The article might have worked better if it were longer and went more in-depth (I certainly wanted to see more), but given the information used, the martini structure seems to have been a good option. A chronological account is really the best way to go for the tale of the Jacobs-Vuitton-Sprouse collaboration, since it’s unusual that they came to work together and takes some explaining. And other chronological structures wouldn’t allow for the spicy description of Jacobs’ tattooed bod that starts the story. Perhaps it’s just the subject matter, but I’m smitten.

Umenhofer

Posted in Uncategorized on February 3, 2009 by jessicapruitt

Though John Umenhofer, criminal capturer extraordinaire and good ol’ boy, interrogates rather than interviews (and, indeed, many of his interviewing suggests are downright inappropriate for journalists), many of his techniques adapt well to the journalistic interview.

  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes in an interview. Though he’s talking about different types of mistakes, this applies to journalism. If you interview lightheartedly and aren’t afraid to ask the wrong question, both you and the interviewee will be more comfortable. In later writing, it is important to admit that you didn’t get the information you needed and follow up rather than faking it or making it up.
  • Seek the truth and tell the truth. ‘Nuff said.
  • Develop relationships. In both cases, it’s easier to get desired information from people if they’re comfortable with you. Plus, any journalist needs a network of informants and sources.
  • Pay close attention to detail. If you’re given “the truth” (as Umenhofer puts it), don’t get it wrong. If you wrote something down sloppily, follow up to make sure it’s correct.
  • Redirect. Ask the interviewee a different question if they’re rambling or ask the question in a different way. You’re more likely to get the information you need.
  • Recognize the relevant information. Though this isn’t Umenhofer’s own strategy, it happened to him. He made some off-color comments regarding “assisted” suicide, but the journalists interviewing recognized that the important aspect of his tirade was his anger about women and his desire to help them.
  • “Don’t get blinders on.” It’s important to find a balance between controlling the interview and being flexible enough to allow it to go in a better direction.
  • Listen to your instincts. Journalists might not have as many hair-raising interviews as police, but if you follow your instincts–your own curiosity, you’re likely to find information that is interesting to others as well.
  • Copy what works. Listen to various interviews about beaver incidents. It will probably make you a better interviewer overall.

Umenhofer was less ethical than a journalist should be, willing to bluff and cheat his way into information–to a degree, at least. But, in the end, I guess interviewing is a universal art, and I’ll certainly take some of his suggestions to heart.