pjhstudios blog

A Dream Speech Deconstructed


Nancy Duarte breaks down Marin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech,” showing why it worked that day and still remains powerful today.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech analyzed by Nancy Duarte from Duarte Design on Vimeo.

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Favorite 2010 albums


2010 was a great year for music with great releases from many artists and bands and across genres. I didn’t get to listen to everything that the kids at Stereogum, Pitchfork or your local newspaper get to sample, but I managed to pick 6 albums as my favorites. Not necessarily the best, but albums that I’ll most likely keep queuing up on my iPhone. Without further ado.

  1. Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More: The whole album is a revival of the soul.  From beginning to end, the raucous and swirling combination of bluegrass, folk and rock cover the entire spectrum of emotion.  The album is immediately accessible to the casual listener.  As for individual songs, Little Lion Man was the radio hit, but Awake My Soul, The Cave and Timshel highlight the band’s range.  Seeing Mumford live is a must with the songs possessing more intensity as a crowd of 3,000 sings along.
  2. The National – High Violet:  Dark, brooding and complex, The National created a challenging listen.  Modern themes of anxiety, paranoia and alienation aren’t easy sells.  It may take several spins to fully appreciate Terrible Love, Anyone’s Ghost or RunawayLemonworld is the most upbeat track while Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks serves as the album’s cathartic closer.
  3. The Head and the Heart – The Head and the Heart:  They possess a unique blend of folk and full band singer songwriter acoustics.  Ghosts, Lost in My Mind, Sounds Like Hallelujah and Heaven Go Easy on Me stand out in their debut.
  4. Sleigh Bells – Treats: Noise pop, fuzz-distortion rock, whatever you want to call it, Treats is a loud, thumping amalgam of noise and dreamy, sugary vocals.  At 32 minutes, it’s the proper length to get your blood going without causing aural exhaustion.  Tell ‘Em begins the assault, Infinity Guitars throttles and the one, two, three of Rachel, Rill Rill and Crown on the Ground provide the hooks.
  5. Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record: Broken Social Scene continue to do what they do best, create instrumental driven songs that you can tap your toes, bob your head or sway side to side to. Texico Bitches, Meet Me In the Basement and Water in Hell are standouts.
  6. Bruno Mars – Doo-Wops & Hooligans:  The best pop album of the year features a ukulele prominently.  From the thrashing Grenade, soon-to-be-played-at-every-wedding Just the Way You Are, Marry You, Count on Me… it’s an enjoyable confection without any filler or hollow tracks.  (I’m looking at you, Black Eyed Peas.)

Some other thoughts:

Arcade Fire deserve a mention as The Suburbs was a good album, but I think it felt too long.  They deserve props for what they were trying to do.  Kanye and his Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy proves he’s a premiere artist with a vision and ego.  Taylor Swift’s Speak Now blended growing introspection, song craft and tabloid media into pop culture.  Titus Andronicus’ The Monitor made a punk rock concept album using the Civil War as an allegory to modern life.

My songs of 2010


Below is the track listing for my 2010 songs. By no means is it exhaustive, but I focused on the songs and albums I listened to. I also left out quite a bit of music I did listen to, notably Arcade Fire, Band of Horses and Sufjan. The ordering is only a track listing and not a ranking. Also, each track is linked to an accompanying video, preferably a live version. Without further ado:

  1. King Charles – The Brightest Lights: This guy hails from England, and phenomenal only begins to describe how cool he is. He performs this live, acapella but repeats the verse, changing certain lines as he goes.
  2. The National – Terrible Love: The National write songs that you may not like on the first listen. They start slow, contain cryptic lyrics and musically, a lot goes on. After the third listen, you’re singing along. Give this song a minute to build, and then wait as it soars.
  3. Broken Social Scene – Meet Me In the Basement: A bouncy, jangly instrumental, perhaps the perfect waltz for an indie rock ice cream man (or woman).
  4. OK Go – This Too Shall Pass: They’ve come far. Far from dancing on treadmills. I’m sure they’re wiser, too. A fun song about letting go–not too many of those.
  5. Doug Burr – I Got This Fever / O Ye Devastator: Doug Burr’s a local guy from Denton. This is a more upbeat track, folky, catchy answering some grand questions.
  6. The Morning Benders – Excuses: It sounds a bit like late-era Beach Boys with the symphonic arrangement, melody swirling and progressing beat.
  7. Beach House – Norway: This song pulses, warming a cold, winter night.
  8. Girl Talk – Triple Double: Sure, that’s some Phoenix you hear at the start, but by the end, listen for Willow Smith. Girl Talk makes songs from other songs for an instant summer party mix.
  9. Sleigh Bells – Rill Rill: Treats (Sleigh Bells’ debut) was my summer album, and in defiant protest to Katy Perry, this was my summer song. The sugary vocals and thumping percussion make for a good drive on a summer night with the windows down.
  10. Yeasayer – I Remember: In love, it’s the beginning and end you remember the most. Vividly.
  11. Vampire Weekend – Horchata: Horchata is made differently, depending on where you are.
  12. The Head and the Heart – Sounds Like Hallelujah: This Pacific Northwest band deserves to be heard with their blend of folk, rock and pop.
  13. Bruno Mars – Count On Me: The Glee kids did this as a sugary confection, but the original keeps the punch.
  14. Mumford & Sons – The Cave: Knowing Mumford & Sons is like knowing a revival, a celebration of the soul with banjos and rockin’ sing alongs. See them live if you can.
  15. Janelle Monáe – Cold War: R&B, jazz and rock get fused together into a space opera.
  16. King Charles – We didn’t start the fire: Sorry for the crappy quality, but it’s the best I could find. Now, imagine if Billy Joel did update his 80s anthem.
  17. The National – Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks: This song, performed unplugged at the Dallas show in October, had a sold out crowd standing, singing and crying.
  18. Titus Andronicus – A More Perfect Union: It begins with a passage from an Abe Lincoln speech and turns into something else entirely. The vocals are raw and defiant, but I think the song’s guitar noodling is epic as it climaxes to a bar room sing along.

Homemade Angry Birds game


A mother made a homemade variation of Angry Birds with the birds made out of various household items. Angry Birds Live, she calls it.

I used a tennis ball for the red bird, a ping-pong ball for the blue bird, modeling clay for the yellow bird, an Easter egg for the chicken, and a black dodge ball for the bomb bird. I had an old set of cardboard blocks that they never really used, and they were perfect. I printed out pictures of the pigs on labels and stuck them on paper bags.

Brett Favre is like the Internet


In a great example of divergent thinking, Kottke collects a series of tweets by Tim Carmody comparing Brett Favre’s career to that of the Internet.

In 1995, Favre wins the MVP, the Packers get to the NFC Championships, and Windows 95 brings the internet & graphic interface to the masses.



You Tube’s recommended videos a little, meh?  Tosh.0’s videos too random or mean-spirited?

Devour is the site to cure your web video ills.  Clean design that focuses on the videos.  Good videos.  Every now and then one will be no longer available.  So, have a night with the friends and watch awesome You Tube videos.

Coordinated camera flashes at a concert


At concerts, the pop of a camera flash is constant. You see it on TV at the Super Bowl or some other event. At a Robbie Williams concert, for a Nikon ad, he called upon the crowd to raise their cameras and take a picture. The result: