September 29, 2016

Unicorns and super-long train rides

Hello from the other side (Canada). I'm currently in Jasper National Park in Alberta. I've been on a train, the Rocky Mountaineer, for two days (without wifi and only the spottiest of network connectivity), so haven't been writing or posting as much as usual. Someone emailed me this morning and said she's been really enjoying reading the "Danica stories" going up on Food & Wine lately, ha ha. Here are some new "Danica stories" that have been published over the past couple of days...

I'm really pleased with this story on the Food & Wine site—that has nothing to do with either food or wine. It's actually about unicorns and some of Scotland's amazing mystical creature legends.

Food & WineScotland's national animal is the unicorn, and other fun facts

Food & WineAlso, here are some fun facts about Cleopatra

Also, two days on a train:

September 27, 2016

Some things I made

Vancouver Day 1 — That time Kate Middleton and Prince William waved to me.

Vancouver Day 2 — I hope you're not afraid of heights.

Harper's BazaarHave a cool job? Put your stuff in this bag.

ElleFall fashion for your high school alter ego

Food & WineLOL this photo illo

September 23, 2016

Complaints Dept.

Food & WineHow will we ever go on

Food & WineThere's a new book out about restaurants

(I'm definitely buying that Wayne Wang Chinese food documentary on iTunes and watching it omw to Canada tomorrow.)

Speaking of restaurants.

In my top-ten list of pet peeves (which also includes loose change, coworkers whistling in the office, being asked to work for free, and people in my building just leaving things on the floor of the trash room instead of depositing garbage in the chute), this is, hands down, my biggest pet peeve. And it happens to me probably at least three times each week.

Friend or other person: Hey, want to get breakfast/coffee/lunch/dinner/drinks?

Me: Sure! Let me know what time and where and I'll be there!

Friend or other person: Oh, I don't mind, anywhere, you pick! Let me know.

No. No, no, no, no, no. Insert deadpan-face emoji here. Come on. We're in New York and I know you have access to the internet because you're texting me. I think the firm rule should be that: If you do the asking, you should at least have some idea of what to do and where to go.

September 21, 2016

Apps and cheese

Here are some of the things that made their way from my brain to the internet yesterday and today.

This week's random chat and shortlist of materialistic obsessions:

Conde Nast TravelerThe Standard Hotels take on Hotel Tonight

Food & WineHigh fat cheese is where it's at

Food & WineAnthony Bourdain has Switzerlandaphobia

Belated vlog from PCB

September 18, 2016

Some thoughts away from home

We were just arriving at dinner last night when I saw on Twitter that a bomb had exploded in Chelsea, very close to where my apartment is in New York. It's hard to be away from home and surrounded by strangers when something like this happens. I'm so glad that there are no reported fatalities and that people I know are all okay. I can't help but think about how much our media and culture have normalized violence as an emotional outlet for people who feel disenfranchised and like they have nowhere else to turn. The national discourse in this country has also reached a fever pitch of extremism over the past two years, and it seems that a lot of the anger channeled away from productive discourse and into antisocial behavior has roots in poor community structures and recent past failures in our country's system of education. Oftentimes I think that the "how we got here" matters less than the "what do we do now," and I believe that no matter what we're reaping today from decades of bravado and indifference, siphoning funds away from underserved communities and schools and into unnecessary wars, vanity projects, and protecting special corporate relationships and interests, going forward we need to reinvest in the future by investing in the next generation—strengthening communities through empowering women and putting serious money behind quality education from a young age to ensure that children now who will be adults in a decade or two know better and do better than this generation.

September 16, 2016

I'm on a boat!

Just kidding. Well, I was on a boat yesterday, but not anymore. I'm in Florida—and I have 10000000000000 bug bites, but locals are telling me they don't have Zika mosquitos in the region, so fingers crossed. Here are a small selection of things I've been busy with over the past few days.

Vlogging: I accidentally put my finger over the camera microphone for much of this video. So, here is a truly mediocre auditory experience for your viewing pleasure.

Harper's Bazaar: How to match things (or not)

Food & WineBlackcurrants: so hot right now

September 14, 2016

Some things I made recently

I love watching unboxings, so I made an unboxing! The surprise/awkward moment of not knowing what something is is my favorite part.

Harper's BazaarKids these days

Food & WineCall this number to hear Kiwi things

Food & WineSometimes I write serious things too you know

Food & WineNew York gets more restaurant rankings for some reason

Some thoughts on media and competition

I was at a trade event recently when I started chatting with another journalist standing near me. He was a middle-aged man who'd recently been laid off from a three decade-long tenure as a senior editor at a big publication because of cost-cutting measures at the publishing house. The conversation started out normally, joking around trading media industry war wounds. When we started talking about recently leaving staff jobs to go full-time freelance, he debriefed me on his long career and then, in all seriousness, said the strangest thing to me: "I bet you're thinking to yourself, 'Man, now I've gone freelance, how will I compete with people like this guy?'" And then he chuckled in what I think he thought was a self-deprecating/self-congratulatory way.

It took me a full five seconds to realize that he was (1) insulting me and (2) creating some kind of hierarchy between us. And then it only took half a second after that to realize that this guy was kind of a jerk and I just didn't care.

But I've been thinking about what he said, and I understand what he means because I started my career with a seven-year stint at a daily newspaper—and you don't get any more old-school media and print than daily newspapers. But since 2010 I've been working purely on digital platforms. There are obviously lots of differences between print and digital media—especially in the mass market lifestyle space where I've always worked. One of the most fundamental points of difference is that print is, well, obviously, printed—which means it's finite, it's only published once every day/week/month/year, and whatever number of stories or words fit on the page are the number of stories or words that fit on the page. There's really no wiggle room—and that clearly bound end result perpetuates a work environment that I find to be far more competitive, both within the newsroom, among reporters/writers, as well as between publications. These aren't bad things—I loved my time at the New York Post—they're just things.

Digital, on the other hand, feels infinite. Online, there aren't physical limitations on word or story limits, you can publish at any time of the day, there's really no such thing as a digital exclusive (though there is such a thing as first), and publishers can build 360-degree immersive multimedia experiences for readers—showcasing sound, visuals, videos, dynamic graphics, links to related stories, and even create an opportunity for interactive dialogue and community-building. The concept of competition also changes in digital media environments—while site directors will glance at comScore once a month (more for self-edification and just to make sure that ads will keep rolling in), the real sense of competition within any digital newsroom I've ever worked in is with itself: month over month, year over year. Those KPIs aren't set against anyone else's metrics but your own.

So that's why what that guy said was so baffling to me—because it's a sentiment from the past. The media industry in 2016 isn't high school in the '90s. I never feel competitive with my peers and colleagues because the opportunities in media now are endless. Every morning when I get up at 5:30 or 6:30 and start pitching and writing—sometimes for eight to twelve hours straight—I know that how successful I am that day, that week, this year, will be completely up to me and how much time I put in, how much thought I devote, and how hard I work. It has nothing to do with anyone else.

September 12, 2016

Vlogging in transit

I'm getting slightly more brave at talking to the camera in public—although I do always try and make sure there aren't many people around (I think people aren't really freaked out by people talking to cameras anymore). The sound is much better when I'm using my Canon point-and-shoot (vs. iPhone). I'm still working on figuring out what to shoot—and, obviously, camera angles/steady shots. One thing that so many of my favorite daily vloggers have in common is that they vlog from their cars—a lot. Adding "vlogging opps" to my list of reasons I should learn to drive.

September 08, 2016

Some things today

Conde Nast TravelerSleep over in Sydney

Harper's BazaarAnd the winner is...

Food & WineHere's what Florida is doing to feral pigs

Liveblogging the BBC British Vogue Documentary

When I was a first-year MA Fashion student at Central Saint Martins, I interned at British Vogue. I loved it. It was the fanciest experience of my life up until that point. So. I have three stories to file before I'm allowed to go to bed (and, subsequently, allowed to go shopping tomorrow morning), but it's 9 p.m. and the BBC's British Vogue documentary is about to start, so I thought I'd liveblog that instead. Here's the trailer the network released last week:

The documentary was filmed by Richard Macer over the course of nine months, beginning in September 2015.

9 p.m.: Opens with Alex Shulman on February 9, 2016 at the National Portrait Gallery in London celebrating 100th birthday of British Vogue. "She is one of the most powerful women in the fashion industry," Macer says. "Vogue is a world where things are not quite what they seem."

Flashback to six months earlier.

9:02 p.m.: September 2015 - Macer enters Vogue House on Hanover Square. He goes to the fifth floor, Vogue's offices. Shulman is on vacation, so isn't there to greet him. He goes into her office anyway. Then he films in the fashion closet, where Lucinda Chambers is looking at the rail of pulls for Samuel L. Jackson.

So far I've only bought 9 concealers.

I consider that to be a significant act of self restraint.


You guys know I've been brainstorming new little (and big) projects I'd like to do, try out, experiment with. A few weeks ago, I had this idea to start a tiny video series called Desksides. Desksides are a thing in consumer/lifestyle media where brand reps come to your office to show you their new products or just meet with you and talk you through new concepts and launches. Here's the first-ever Deskside video I made—I worked with the lovely people at Driscoll's and had a chat with the head of their North American strawberry program. I really enjoyed the meeting and hope you like the first installment of the series!

And here's the accompanying story in Food & Wine:

September 07, 2016

I love writing about my friends

(Nice things, only, of course.)

Recently, I was so lucky to have the opportunity to pitch Cosmopolitan—the editors there were looking for stories about amazing, entrepreneurial women who turned their passions into careers. Here's the story about how my longtime friend Susan Yara launched her YouTube channel and video production company Mixed Makeup two years ago—with serious no-nonsense tips from Susan on how to start your own business. Yay!

Two things

Even though it's a shorter work week this week, there are so many things happening! This week, post-Labor Day, is the unofficial kickoff week for fall, and fashion week starts tomorrow. This is the time of year media gets itself into high gear (trying to make those numbers before the end of the year and planning for Q1 2017). Excited for everything coming up in the next few months!

Conde Nast TravelerDelta's new turbulence app

Food & WineA vote for Trump is a vote against tacos

September 06, 2016

September 03, 2016

Practicing vlogging in Liverpool

You guys, there's so much footage I shoot every day that never sees the light of day because it's either awkward, makes no sense, or is just not very good (too dark, too blurry, badly framed). I'd LOVE to get better at vlogging, so I've been practicing a lot while I've been here in the UK walking around and seeing new things.

Some things I'm working on:
— Figuring out my background music so it doesn't drown out the microphone.
— Knowing what to shoot and what not to shoot
— Figuring out what makes for a compelling short vlog. OK, I'll even take "vaguely not boring"—"compelling" may be a reach
— Being brave enough to talk to my iPhone in public
— Bring brave enough to talk to my camera in public
— Thinking of something to say that doesn't come off as too rambling on camera
— Waiting on the new MacBook Pro release to get that and get Final Cut Pro
— Learn to use Final Cut Pro