Creating video content on a budget — class at General Assembly Boston on November 18

Creating video content on a budget
Journalist Lucy Morgan with video camera and phone, ca. 1985 | State Library and Archives of Florida

I taught my first class at General Assembly Boston in August — “Creating Video Content on a Budget.” It went very well so we’re doing it again on Monday, November 18th, 6:30-8pm. If it goes well yet again, I might teach a 4-6 week class in the Spring.

In this class, participants will learn common mistakes to avoid when creating video content for their brand. In particular, students will learn:

  • How to select the right types of video (Q+A, Behind the Scenes, How To, Testimonial, Humor) for your brand
  • How to produce quality video on any budget
  • Know which equipment to purchase
  • Communication principles of every successful video

Learn more about the “Creating Video Content on a Budget” class on General Assembly Boston’s website.

The Blizzard of 78 CD Release Party for Book of Lies on January 29th at the Lizard Lounge

The Blizzard of 78 at Precinct

The Blizzard of 78 has a new album out called Book of Lies. it is awesome, awesome and more awesome. I’ve been looking forward to this album ever since I heard them since “Mercy” at their NEMO showcase Fall 2006. If you’re wondering what supercharged rock and soul sounds like, Book of Lies is the album to grab on iTunes, or buy a physical CD.

They’ve got a CD Release Party coming up on Thursday, January 29th to celebrate Book of Lies with bands Scarce (performing as acoustic duo) and Eddie Japan. I wrote about the show over on Exploit Boston!. We have free tickets to give away. (Send an email to blizzardtix (at) Otherwise, tickets are a bargain $5 online at Brown Paper Tickets or $8 night of the show at the door.

(Photo of The Blizzard of 78 taken by me at Precinct, October 2008)

The Secret To Making Really Good Chocolate Truffles

Chocolate Truffles

Like most recipes, chocolate truffles are not that difficult to make if you can follow directions and have some time. I use a simple recipe of dark chocolate, cream and cocoa powder on by chocolatier Robert Linxe. I started making chocolate truffles a couple years ago on a whim. I thought they’d make tasty winter holiday gifts: and I was right! (I registered in 2007 and one of these days I might actually do something with it. Until then …)

If there is one “secret” to really good chocolate truffles, it’s the chocolate itself.

Dark chocolate, never milk chocolate!

I always use dark chocolate: never (ever) milk chocolate. Cardullo’s in Harvard Square is my favorite spot to buy chocolate. If you prefer organic chocolate, Harvest Co-Op in Central Square (Cambridge) has an impressive selection. That’s where I picked up the chocolate for the truffles I made at the #pinkslipparty at Betahouse Friday night.

Use a variety of chocolate percentages: 55%-70%

Each batch of truffle ganache I make uses three to four different types of chocolate: from 55%-70%. The percentage refers to the percentage of cocoa mass (chocolate liquor), the essence of chocolate, that’s in the chocolate bar itself. Milk chocolate has a low percentage. It’s barely “real” chocolate. I found out two years ago I have diabetes so milk chocolate is definitely not something I can eat anyway. And white chocolate? Not a good choice for truffles either. White chocolate doesn’t have any cocoa solids and therefore, doesn’t have a cocoa classification (percentage). When I think of white chocolate it makes me think it would probably be about as tasty as eating lotion. Dark chocolate has a much lower sugar content (lower carbs) than milk chocolate or white chocolate so cooking with it can still be part of healthy eating.

Combine several different brands of chocolate bars

Some of my favorite brands to use for chocolate truffles include Vosges (a piece of their Calindia chocolate bar with dried plums, cardamom and walnuts is a good match with a cup of chocolate tea from Tealuxe), Dolfin, Côte d’Or and Valrhona. Somerville chocolate maker Taza’s 70% dark stone ground chocolate bar adds a little texture to the truffles. I’ve been experimenting with how much of their chocolate to include and it seems like about one ounce is a good amount.

So that’s the secret to really good chocolate truffles: buy dark chocolate and mix up a few varieties!

Kraig Swartz Is An Awesome Crumpet

The Santaland Diaries: Photos

Photos of Kraig Swartz as Crumpet in The Santaland Diaries at The New Repertory Theatre. Photos by Christopher McKenzie. Click on each photo to see a larger image.

Kraig Swartz as Crumpet n THE SANTALAND DIARIES at New Rep. Photo: Christopher McKenzie. Kraig Swartz as Crumpet n THE SANTALAND DIARIES at New Rep. Photo: Christopher McKenzie. Kraig Swartz as Crumpet n THE SANTALAND DIARIES at New Rep. Photo: Christopher McKenzie.

Nick invited me to see the late night (10pm/second show) performance of David Sedaris’ one act play The Santaland Diaries at the New Repertory Theatre in (my current town of) Watertown. I am sometimes reluctant to go see plays+theater+etc; but then I realized, oh, wait, this is David Sedaris — it will be funny and hey, it is only 70 minutes. Nick’s theater friend Kraig Swartz stars as Crumpet, a sarcastic, hilarious Macy’s Elf. The play is based on Sedaris’ essay about his adventures as that very Macy’s Elf many years ago. According to Wikipedia, he first read the essay on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition on December 23, 1992.

Not only was Kraig’s performance awesome; but it turns out we have a mutual acquintance in St. Louis. When I tweeted a few minutes before the show that I was about to see the play, Brad Graham, (@thebrad on Twitter), sent a tweet my way.

And yeah, I’m a geek. I had to show Kraig the tweet after the performance and then I sent a reply back over to Brad.

I definitely recommend catching a performance of The Santaland Diaries while it’s still at The New Repertory Theatre until January 4th. Some performances are sold out so you’ll want to try to buy tickets soon. Cheers to Nick for convincing me to head out for something that wasn’t live music!

Marketing and Writing Internships at Exploit Boston!

A cloning machine would really come in handy right now. But since that doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon, I’m hiring two interns for Exploit Boston!, my Boston music blog and concert guide. The promotions and publicity intern will manage contests (concert ticket giveaways, etc.) and line up photo credentials and review tickets for staff. The web editor intern will add music-related happenings to the site: listings and more in-depth features with audio and video. If you know anyone who might be interested, have them check out the job listings on Craig’s List. I’ve received some interesting responses so far.

Sometimes you never know who will show up

Last weekend I was at the Lizard Lounge to see the final night of Boston Pop Underground’s Fall Residency with Mike Viola. There was little doubt it would be awesome since he was reuniting his band the Candy Butchers and Lori McKenna would be there to sing a bunch of songs. And then Mandy Moore was there, too. She’s collaborating with Mike Viola on her new album so they sang a few songs together. I shot some video that you can check out at Exploit Boston! To add to the fun, Mandy Moore (or whoever writes for her on her blog) gave me a shout-out regarding the videos.

So… thanks to my newfound friend (who I still haven’t met), SOOZ, there are a few videos posted on Youtube… Check them out. If anything, I am hoping they are as fun to watch as it was to just get up and play them…

Last night I was at Ray LaMontagne’s first of two nights at the stunning Boston Opera House. Yes, more awesomeness. It’s just been that kind of month! Some of the photos I took of LaMontagne and his band of cohorts and a review-of-sorts are over at Exploit Boston!.

New stuff over at Exploit Boston!

(Ooops! If you subscribed to the “what’s new” list over at Exploit Boston!, it was accidentally hooked up to the what’s new list at the past few weeks. So head back over to Exploit Boston! and sign up for its email list if you feel inspired.)

I’ve been working on some new updates over at Exploit Boston! … concert recommendations and photos. The internet radio station will come back to life sometime this Fall.

Acquia launches their new commercially supported Drupal awesomeness

Acquia, who I worked for as event planner for Drupalcon Boston this past spring and then as an event marketing contractor for a few months over the summer, launched their new commercially supported Drupal products today. They’re helping make it easier to set up and run Drupal powered websites — you don’t need to be an open source programming rock star. Very cool. I recommended Tim Merrill to them (who I met through Paul Irish) for the website design makeover. Awesomeness all around!

Photos! The Lights Out at The Middle East Upstairs

Rishava Green / The Lights Out

The awesomeness that is Boston rock band The Lights Out returned to the Middle East Upstairs last night (9/5/08) for a great show. Check out their website and download the latest EP for free. If you’d like the real thing with album artwork it’s only five bucks. The band also needs your vote to win Harpoon Brewery’s “Best Unfiltered Band” competition. The winner gets a year of good beer and a cool gig.

Here’s the Flickr slideshow of photos I took of The Lights Out last night.