Crap Cars: a Book Trailer

After a hiatus of a few years, the Hopkins & Barton Book Trailer Manufactory is back. Here’s our little guy, just turned two and a half, talking about a book titled Crap Cars.

Is it a trailer? A review? It’s definitely a recommendation. If not for the book itself, for the joy of saying the book’s name, over and over again. With gusto!

Closer to Hired: Lyrics & Links

1) First, a link to the YouTube video we made today for “Closer to Hired.” (Since I have a link at the end of the video that goes back here, it seems silly to build an embed.)

Closer to Fine YouTube screen grab
A screenshot from the video. We used our trusty old Flip on a tripod, so the quality isn’t quite as good as an iPhone would be.

2) Cutting and pasting the video description, since that’s important contextual information:

A response to the following prompt for a job application: “Please add a link to a 3-8 minute YouTube or Vimeo video of you answering the following question: What blogs and social media accounts do you most enjoy and why?” Here’s my answer!

With harmony vocals and Dylanesque cue cards by Emily Barton.

I should maybe add that I know this isn’t perfect—I’m pretty flat in the chorus, for example. (I tried to sing an octave higher on our first take, and I blew out my voice!) But since this is an application for a content gig, not an audition for America’s Got Talent, I’m hoping that won’t be a strike against me. 🙂

Also note that this is a parody, not a cover. Protected by the First Amendment, y’all!

3) The lyrics (with links):

I’m gonna tell you ’bout some blogs and tweets
Tell you what about them I think’s really neat
Conan O’Brien’s a major fave for me
His writing style is pure hilarity
A master of the joke-tweet, y’all

Next up’s a writing blog by my friend Erika
Her publication schedule only stops for Hannukah
She shares helpful ideas, and jobs involving writing
She isn’t currently selling, but if she ever does, I’m buying
I think Seth Godin would approve

I read Brian Morton, I love his gallows humor
For cycling it’s Treehugger, for butt jokes Amy Schumer
We want to hear a voice that entertains us,
Wins us over, makes us feel inspired
And if you think my thinking is definitive
The closer I am to hired, yeah
Closer I am to hired

My friend Richard likes to disrupt stodgy industries
He sees the way that books are changed by new technologies
I watched Tommy Caldwell on Insta climb the Dawn Wall
What he did with his friend Kevin was an inspiration to us all
I spent all eight Bush years getting my news from Talking Points Memo,
Got Obama, now I’m free lets me know the Earth’s in trouble
Boing Boing brings the weirdness, and NASA brings the Hubble
Good brands are built by telling stories like we did
While roasting mammoths ’round a fire
And if you think my thinking is definitive
The closer I am to hired, yeah
Closer I am to hired, yeah
Closer I am to hired, yeah
Closer I am to hired

4) There’s an Easter egg—or rather, a series of Easter eggs running throughout the video. Can you spot it/them? Let me know.

5) I’ll let you know if I get the job!

Does a Bear Come to a Satisfying Conclusion in the Woods?, a Book Trailer for Trophy by Michael Griffith

New work, as Emily notes, from the Hopkins & Barton Book Trailer Manufactory:

It is, as Emily says, the second installment in our book trailer manufacturing project, following the breakaway success of “They Don’t Have On Clothes, a Book Trailer for Luminous Airplanes by Paul La Farge.”

“Breakaway success” in the sense of 130 views total, as of today.

Not quite the more than half million viewers of “3-year-old recites poem, “Litany” by Billy Collins.”

But I always remember what Ryan Murphy told me when I interviewed him for Poets & Writers: “[E]ven just fifty readers, he says, ‘kind of blows my mind.’

Birds in Our Backyard

When Emily and I bought our house in 2007, there was a birdhouse hanging from a nail in the ceiling of the basement. This past spring, for the first time, we put it out in our backyard. And then one Saturday in late June this past summer, Toby and I discovered an amazing thing: some birds had moved in. And they’d had babies. And that afternoon, the mom was feeding them.

This video is pretty long, as these things go; it clocks in at just over seven and a half minutes.

In Web years, that’s like Roots. Or The Civil War.

We were so excited. We took two of our lawn chairs and set them up so that they were facing the birdhouse; we put them what felt like a respectful distance away. And then we sat and watched the mommy bird—or the bird I assumed was the mommy bird—bring her babies food, and take away strange white bits that to me looked like eggshells.

I should add that it was me who thought it was the mommy bird, not Toby. As he and I talk about, about five minutes in, Toby thought the mommy and the daddy were alternating, one bringing their babies food and then the other.

Which I’d like to think is a testament to who Emily and I are as parents.

Does this need editing? Most likely. You probably don’t need to watch this bird feeding her babies (or birds feeding their babies) for all seven and a half minutes to understand how beatific it was to spend a Shabbat afternoon sitting and watching this happening just a few feet away from us in our backyard.

The sad part of the story is that I had the mistaken idea that this would be our family hobby for the whole summer—that we’d be able to enjoy our own private bird theater all summer long.

But the very next day, they were gone. The birdhouse was completely abandoned.

What were the white bits she kept removing? Was she feeding and relocating at the same time? Was she scared? Did we drive them away with our proximity?

The video is amateurish—a hand-held Flip, unedited—but I’m glad I have this evidence. We bemoan the fact that we all distance ourselves from merely experiencing something with these devices that we hold between our bodies and the reality in front of us. But sometimes it’s nice to have a record: Look. This actually happened. I saw this. It was right in front of me.

Happy new year, friends.

They Don’t Have On Clothes, a Book Trailer for Luminous Airplanes by Paul La Farge

Or, a book trailer for They Don’t Have On, by Clothes.

Possibly a new line of work for our family?

Can three-year-olds sell literary fiction?

I guess we’ll see how this one does first—test the waters—before we hang up the shingle for the Hopkins & Barton Book Trailer Manufactory.

Mama’s New Old Mandolin

Emily bought a mandolin on eBay from a guy out on the west coast; it just arrived in the mail last week.

I keep hearing Matty Charles lyrics (from “An Old Mandolin,” the last track on the great Lovers in Arms):

There’s a young boy with an old mandolin
Playing down by the river, as they push me back in:
‘Will the circle be unbroken, by and by, Lord, by and by?’
My eyes were wide open, as I looked at the sky

It’s a haunting song, and a great record, which you should buy, if you don’t own it already.

Happy Happy!

(Singing and dancing catch-up post, two of three.)

From this past weekend; we’d spent a number of hours in the car listening to Shirei Gan Shalom: Songs in the Garden, by Melita Doostan & Octopretzel. (Such a great album!) The record was the December mailing from the PJ Library for kids ages two to three. (Such a wonderful program!)

Somewhere on the album, Doostan sings “Happy Birthday” in Hebrew. (For the life of me I can’t find it in online track listings.) I have no Hebrew, but I do know the word “sameach.” As does Toby now!

“Happy Sameach”! Surely one of the nicest things you could wish anyone.

Here, Outside!

(Awesome new Flip videos post, three of three.)

From this past Sunday, first thing in the morning.

The tomato slices in the bowl, in case this isn’t clear, are wooden play tomato slices (from the Melissa & Doug Cutting Food Box).

As I wrote before, the offerings to Outside seem to me to be a kind of spontaneous animism. Which, to me, is just absolutely beautiful and profound.

I’d thought I’d have more to say about that, but I don’t; I just wish we’d caught on video the previous offering, where Toby was reaching into the air, plucking imaginary lettuce, and then offering that to Outside. (You can kind of see the beginnings of this in the video I posted two days ago, at about the 20-second mark.) His hand wasn’t palm out and grasping, but rather palm facing in, palm flat, fingers together, as if he was—well, I don’t know quite what to compare it to; as if he was sliding an envelope out from behind a framed painting, hung high on a wall, where he’d hidden it?

Maybe it’s best that we didn’t get this on video.