Monthly Archives: April 2010

Attention reporters and journalists: this is how it’s done PART II

Roger Ebert: Why I Hate 3-D Movies

I’m not opposed to 3-D as an option. I’m opposed to it as a way of life for Hollywood, where it seems to be skewing major studio output away from the kinds of films we think of as Oscar-worthy. Scorsese and Herzog make films for grown-ups. Hollywood is racing headlong toward the kiddie market. Disney recently announced it will make no more traditional films at all, focusing entirely on animation, franchises, and superheroes. I have the sense that younger Hollywood is losing the instinctive feeling for story and quality that generations of executives possessed. It’s all about the marketing.

This right here is the crux of the issue.

Calling all global financial meltdown geeks

Journalists vs. Apple

My latest Tribune story

A towering figure in micro-sculpting

‘Microangelo’ encourages students to make no little plans

By Anna Tarkov, Special to the Tribune

April 23, 2010

Willard Wigan is arguably the world’s most renowned creator of micro-sculptures, art that fits on the head of a pin. He’s championed by royalty and celebrities.

Yet his childhood, as he told a group of students in Northbrook last week, “was quite miserable. … I believed that everything I did was negative.”

Eventually diagnosed with dyslexia, Wigan said his teachers thought he was illiterate and incapable of success. One paraded him in front of his classmates as an example of failure.

The microscopic pieces Wigan creates — one depicts Barack and Michelle Obama and their daughters, hand in hand, all inside the eye of a needle — have been displayed all over his native Britain and the U.S. and have earned him the nickname “Microangelo.” He’s touted to have sold pieces to Prince Charles, Elton John and Simon Cowell — sometimes commanding six figures for one sculpture — but he has also attracted the attention of micro-surgeons and nano-technologists hoping to learn from his dexterity and steadiness.

Wigan’s recent appearance at The Cove School seemed to have particular significance, both to him and the students, because the school is tailored to children with learning disabilities.

He shared how his early creations were a means of expression and escape from his difficulties at school in the 1960s. At 5, he got interested in insects and began building tiny houses for ants using his father’s razor and other household items. His mother encouraged him to delve deeper into miniature art. The smaller you make it, she told him prophetically, the bigger your name will become.

Along with a slideshow of works depicting the likes of Nelson Mandela, Mahalia Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, Siegfried and Roy, and Oprah Winfrey, Wigan explained to students, staff and parents at Cove how he painstakingly creates a micro-sculpture. Relying on his heartbeat as a steady rhythm, he works with an eyelash or fly hair in place of a paintbrush, a toothpick or pin head his canvas. Often working through the night, he spends an average of three months on a single piece and often has to start over when he makes a mistake. He spoke of these as lessons for life about pressing on, about trusting one’s talent.

“It’s the small things that make the big things happen,” he said. “There are geniuses in this room.”

Those lessons were also in Meg Barnhart’s mind when she set up the visit. Barnhart, the mother of a Cove student, fell in love with Wigan’s work at an exhibit at Nicole Gallery in Chicago, and wanted to show her 14-year-old son, Doug, and his schoolmates that much is possible even by those with learning disabilities.

Doug, who named a Bart and Homer Simpson sculpture as his favorite, said he liked how Wigan “can do amazing things with his mind.”

Wigan’s work is on display through May 22 at Nicole Gallery, 230 W. Huron St., Chicago. Admission is $5. 312-787-7716.

Copyright © 2010, Chicago Tribune

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    Freelancers Fight to Be Paid

    About 40% of freelancers had trouble getting paid in 2009, according to a survey released in mid-April by the New York-based Freelancers Union, a 135,000-member organization for independent contractors across the country in fields such as media, technology, and advertising.

    I recently attended a gathering of freelancers so this jumped out at me. 40% seems awfully high. If you’re a freelancer reading this, has it ever happened to you?

    You have got to be kidding me

    If you are interested in bringing a Localtude community to your neighborhood, town or small city, contact us at

    I’m currently waiting for an e-mail response on how this company, if it’s even a company, plans to make money. Have they heard of

    Also, here’s their Craigslist ad:

    UPDATE: Here’s the e-mail I received when I asked about where the money would come from: 

    “There are multiple revenue streams:

    Paid Listings
    Sponsored posts
    Paid Classified Listings
    Direct Online Sales
    Data Mining

    To get a better idea of how it will work, see www.evanstononline, which is the pilot and test bed for all other hyperlocal sites.”

    Data mining? Can someone explain that one to me? 
    As for the pilot site in Evanston, I found among other things the assertion that “Evanston Online receives tens of thousands of visitors per month.” Oh really? 

    New allies for the Tea Partiers?

    We must associate ourselves with this voter revolt. We must join with their leaders. We must bring our issue to the forefront of their agenda. They want to be for us, they want to damage Obama politically, and they will publicly ally themselves with workable alternatives to two-state. They will stand by our side in defense of a unified, Jewish Jerusalem.

    As always please read the entire article. Interesting, no?

    Let me also mention that conservatives’ support for Israel (and many liberals’ contempt for her) was what first made me turn right politically about 9 years ago.

    What we’re all looking for in a Senator: the magic

    Attention reporters and journalists: this is how it’s done


    56 min 45 sec ago permalink






    Ouch. Why would he even admit to such a thing?

    Sounds like a jobber to me.


    47 min 10 sec ago permalink






    @lanarama, I ask that question frequently during my interviews with CTA officials. The first time I asked Peterson, he said he didn’t ride the CTA “as often as I would like.”

    Then I asked him again, and he told me about how he grew up riding public transportation and intended to spend the summer riding public transportation.

    On my third try, I changed my approach and asked him when he last rode the CTA. That’s when I got the quote.

    This is a comment thread from a recent Windy Citizen link. Windy Citizen, for the uninitiated is a Chicago-centric site similar to Digg or Reddit, but, as the name suggests, only for content relating to Chicago.

    What do we see happening here? First of all, we see a local reporter post her story to the local news aggregator. This part is already very exciting since not many reporters do this.

    We then see a Windy Citizen user ask a question about the story. This is not at all unusual. Readers ask reporters questions all the time, whether it’s via phone, e-mail, social media channels or a comment on their story on a newspaper’s website.

    The last part of this story is the best one. We see the reporter who posted the link actually answer the reader’s question! It is this part that we don’t see happening very often.

    What is the end result of this type of interaction not happening as much as it should? There are many answers to that, but to pick one out of the air, it leads to people distrusting the media. There have more and more statistics coming out about this. Some ( are working to change it. But the damage has in many cases been done. Here’s just one example (read the comments):…

    By the way, Tracy is a local reporter for RedEye, the Chicago Tribune’s free daily tabloid edition. Find her on Windy Citizen:, on Twitter: or on her blog: I doubt that she is any less busy than many of her colleagues in the print world. Yet she finds the time to answer her readers’ questions. How many others do the same?