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Posts Tagged ‘TikTok’

Photo: Max Kleinen/Unsplash.
From snail jokes to antique presses, TikTok showcases museum nerds.

Either the anxiety over TikTok is overblown or I’m extremely gullible. Probably both. But so far, the only videos I’ve seen at TikTok are fun.

Suzanne is into the platform, too. At Easter she made a goofy video with the kids’ hands jiggling a rabbit charm from her company, Luna & Stella. For music, she used a strange version of “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” that TikTok had on offer. Even though the video wasn’t meant to be serious, she did get one query about price.

Today’s article by Kelsey Ables at the Washington Post is about how some museum employees are starting to have fun on TikTok.

“Not much has changed since Howard Hatch started working in the creaky, old printing shop at the Sacramento History Museum 22 years ago, writes Ables.

“He always arrives early in the morning so he can focus. In those quiet hours, … the only chatter comes from the machines: the gentle clinks and clatters of a 102-year-old jobbing press, his ‘one-legged StairMaster’ whirring to the beat of his pumping foot. To the tune of rattling ink rollers and clicking gears, he prints museum bags, holiday cards, and facsimile wanted signs and newspapers for visitors.

“Another press, the Washington hand press, works just as well as it did the day it was manufactured in 1852, Hatch says — with such certainty you’d think he used it back then. … Not much has changed these days, except that Hatch has an audience around the world watching.

“On TikTok, a popular app for sharing short videos, Hatch has gone from beloved local museum docent to — in the words of one online commenter — ‘a national treasure.’ Videos of him explaining the printing process or even simply using the equipment, which doubles as an exhibit, have racked up millions of views in a matter of months. With Howard at the helm, the Sacramento History Museum has become the most popular museum TikTok account in the world, boasting twice as many followers as the population of Sacramento.

“Most people associate TikTok with Gen Z, but Hatch is an octogenarian, and the star of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s widely followed account — snail expert Tim Pearce — is a baby boomer. The two men’s charm is not a result of keeping up with the latest memes and trends. Quite the opposite. Neither Hatch nor Pearce, who is known for his ‘Mollusk Monday’ jokes, own a smartphone or send text messages. Pearce calls himself ‘a technological klutz.’ …

“While TikTok has been the site of many online trends related to history — such as medieval TikTok and dark academia — the platform still lacks a significant presence from major U.S. museums. … Pittsburgh’s Carnegie museum paved the way.

“The museum began posting videos in early 2020, and it saw quick success with Pearce, the mollusk curator. …

Being on TikTok has allowed him to get closer to achieving one of his life’s goals: to make mollusks as popular as football. …

“There’s no doubt the success has to do with Pearce’s enthusiasm. Wearing a snail-patterned mask, Pearce begins each video the same way: ‘I’m Tim Pearce from Carnegie Museum of Natural History and I’ve got a snail joke for you!’ The way he emphasizes the word ‘snail’ captures an unbridled eagerness as pure as it must’ve been when he started collecting snails as a toddler. …

” ‘Natural history museums can become didactic really quickly,’ says Sloan MacRae, director of marketing at the Carnegie museum. TikTok, he says, allows them to show that scientists are approachable — even silly — and that natural history isn’t all dead animals and dioramas. …

“Still, when Jared Jones, a 28-year-old guest-services associate at the Sacramento History Museum, proposed starting a TikTok account, it didn’t go over well. … But the museum was desperate to stay relevant during the pandemic-induced closure, so the staff eventually gave in and opened an account. And Hatch hit his stride on the app not by dancing but by deadpanning.

“In one early video, Hatch is printing wanted posters on the hand press. ‘Can you explain a little bit more about it?’ Jones asks. ‘I would, but I’m really pressed for time,’ Hatch replies so matter-of-factly that the pun almost seems unintentional. …

“ ‘Some of [the Carnegie museum’s] popular personalities are gray-haired, very wholesome, grandparent-like personas,’ MacRae says, referring to Pearce and Bonnie Isaac, the botany collection manager. He has spotted online comments along the lines of ‘Adopt me, Bonnie!’ and ‘Tim, will you marry my mom?’ …

“Similarly, on the Sacramento videos’ pages, viewers liken Hatch to their grandparents. ‘Protect Howard at all costs’ has become a refrain among commenters, alluding to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“Whenever the museum reaches a new milestone in followers, Hatch prints a newspaper announcement. As he moves around the print shop on those squeaky floorboards, he shakes his head and says, ‘I just don’t get it,’ which has become a catchphrase. And it’s true — Hatch isn’t keeping track of likes or followers. He’s just working in the print shop, as he has for decades — doing his thing in true 19th-century style and succeeding in the most 21st-century way.”

Great photos and video here.

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Photo: Erika Thompson via StyleBluePrint.
This Texas woman really loves bees. “Bees need advocates,” she says.

If you were to search this blog on words like “bees,” “Honeyland,” and “beekeepers,” you would see that I have a friendly attitude to bees. Besides the fact that they set such a good example for industry and cooperation, there’s this: no bees, no food.

Today’s post is about a woman who really, really loves bees.

Travis M. Andrews writes at the Washington Post, “The bees drip from Erika Thompson’s bare hand, as if she’s holding a scoop of melting ice cream. But she’s not worried. Just a simple flick of the wrist, and the gentle insects rush into their new home.

“This scene’s out of a recent TikTok from Thompson, an Austin-area beekeeper who has amassed an enormous social media following by documenting her work of ethical bee removal. In this particular video, she explains that she was asked to safely remove a colony of bees that have been living in a backyard shed for two years. At one point, she lifts up a section of wooden flooring to expose hundreds of bees crawling over one another. A delighted grin spreads across her face.

“And like a fly to honey, viewers flocked to the TikTok. It’s been viewed more than 60 million times. …

“Thompson simply love bees. Really loves them. The 35-year-old’s backyard is filled with about 50 hives. … Growing up, Thompson so admired Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey that she would pretend to be them, stringing binoculars around her neck and setting up her stuffed animals like creatures in the wild. Then, she’d head outside.

‘I spent a lot of time in my backyard on nights and weekends, trying to collect bugs and put them in jars … to keep them and care for them,’ she said. ‘It’s something I’ve been into my entire life.’

“About a decade ago, she took a beekeeping class out of curiosity. The University of Texas graduate didn’t expect it to become a living. She worked as a communications director at a nonprofit and didn’t even know if she could keep bees in her central Austin home. But she found herself learning more and more about bees and eventually keeping her own hive.

“She soon launched Texas Beeworks, spending nights, weekends and even some lunch breaks helping others keep bees and driving around with hives in the back of her hatchback. Two years ago, she made it full-time, making her feel like ‘the luckiest person in the world.’ …

“Thompson began making the videos to document her process for clients who, unsurprisingly, usually choose to be absent during a removal. Last year, when the pandemic began, several speaking opportunities she had lined up went by the wayside. With a little more time on her hands, she started a TikTok account. …

” ‘Most of the time when I tell people I’m a beekeeper, they say, “Oh, you’re a bookkeeper?” ‘ Thompson said. ‘I don’t know what has really captivated people, because for me, it’s just so normal. Maybe it’s people seeing something that they’ve never seen before and maybe that they didn’t know was possible.’

“Plus there’s an awful lot to admire about bees, she added, ‘from the way they work together as a superorganism and nobody thinks of herself as an individual but does everything for the good of the colony to the way they build the hive and forage and raise their young.’ …

“Though she didn’t expect her videos to become so popular, she hopes they can help continue changing our attitude by correcting misconception about bees, perhaps the largest one being that ‘all kinds want to sting you all the time.’

“For one, there are more than 20,000 species of bees, all of which have different temperaments. Plus, Thompson said, ‘Most bees, and most honeybees, are docile and do not want to sting you.’ ”

More at the Washington Post, here.

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Photo: Shelby Sherritt.
Shelby Sherritt is relieved to be known on TikTok for something other than surviving cancer, writes the Guardian. She started off making pottery koalas, echidnas, possums. Now she grabs a random slip-casting mold, enjoying the surprise at the end.

People started following a young lady in Australia because of her rare cancer, but she’s much happier being followed for her cheery slip-cast pottery.

Matilda Boseley reports at the Guardian, “For years, Shelby Sherritt was known as the ‘cancer girl.’ …

“Sherritt had been featured in videos about young people going through cancer. … Now hundreds of thousands of people are following her online, but much to her surprise it has nothing to do with cancer. Instead, Sherritt has become internet famous for reviving the 70s craze of slip casting pottery.

‘It’s now become, “Oh she’s the artist,” it’s about my pottery, and I find that so empowering,’ she says with a laugh.

“Sherritt has gained half a million followers on TikTok by hosting a wildly successful series from her Ballarat art shed, where every week she makes a new piece from a giant pile of mystery slip-casting molds she got free from a man on Gumtree.

“In the one-minute videos, she walks to her giant pile of plaster molds, picks one, and pours in watery clay or ‘slip.’ Once it’s dried she reveals the model, usually a kitsch 70s mug or garden gnome. Sherritt then paints it. … Many are looking forward to these videos every week. …

“ ‘I think it’s about the mystery. The molds are so elusive on the outside, people are just like “oooh what could actually be in that?” ‘

“Her videos now regularly top a million views, something Sherritt says she could have never imagined when her life was focused solely on surviving.

“When Sherritt was 20 she came down with what felt like run-of-the-mill appendicitis.

“ ‘I was on holiday in Perth and I just could not get out of bed, I was in that much pain. And then we went to a doctor. … By the time I went into surgery, it had ruptured,’ she says.

“During the surgery her doctors discovered she was suffering from a rare form of appendiceal and bowel cancer. … The doctors spoke in a serious, quiet tone that filled Sherritt with fear. …

“ ‘I obviously had to put my life on pause,’ she says. ‘I couldn’t work, I couldn’t study, I had to just do the treatment.’ …

“In the deepest pits of her boredom, Sherritt says she gravitated towards her old art equipment that had been gathering dust, painting, drawing, and even sculpting from her bed. …

“ ‘My original work started off as Australiana pieces. So koalas, echidnas, possums, paying homage to the bushland.’

“As Sherritt’s treatments went on her pottery got better and better, and after the chemotherapy and more surgeries beat the cancerous cells back she started selling her work, and wondered if maybe this was her new path. At the start of 2020 Sherritt was able to make pottery her full-time job, and with her extra hours began uploading videos to TikTok to promote her business. …

“Her views rapidly grew when she began the slip-casting series, and the bump in sales meant she was well and truly making enough money to live off. …

“When Sherritt first went into remission the doctors told her if her cancer was going to come back, the chances are it would be in the first five years. But on 18 January this year, Sherritt finally completed that long and nerve-racking countdown, totally cancer-free. …

“ ‘The cancer definitely inspired me to grow, but now it’s the pottery itself that’s my narrative. … I feel really, really fulfilled now that I’m on this path.’ ”

More at the Guardian, here.

When I was in junior high, my parents were dismissive of the slip-cast dish I made for them because the school used molds (ie, not creative), but I was proud of it. Kids should be encouraged in whatever version of art interests them. You never know where an interest will take them — or what it will mean to them.

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Photo: PaperCraftSquare
Make your own version of the Pixar/Disney gourmand Ratatouile. Some folks use paper; others create musical numbers for TikTok.

TikTok has offered new creative outlets to a wide range of people, and from this story, it looks like anyone who wants to put on a show has a chance to find success on that platform.

As Zachary Pincus-Roth writes at the Washington Post, “Emily Jacobsen insists that she was just warbling a bit of nonsense while cleaning her apartment this summer. She didn’t intend to create a fake musical about a rat who bakes vegetables.

“ ‘There was almost zero thought put into the song,’ she says. The 26-year-old teacher in Hartsdale, N.Y., has a habit of posting TikTok odes to Disney characters, especially non-legendary ones such as Mr. Waternoose from ‘Monsters, Inc.’ One day in August, she recalled an article about EPCOT center’s upcoming Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, mixed it with memories of hymns and broke out in song: ‘Remy, the ratatouille, the rat of all my dreams … I praise you, the Ratatouille …’

“Then, just three months after she posted it, TikTokers had conjured up an entire ‘Ratatouille’ musical universe. A composer spiced up her song with Disney-fied orchestrations. Songwriters whipped up tunes for Remy, his brother, his dad, his fellow chef, the food critic Anton Ego. A director explained how he’d stage the show. Dancers demonstrated how they’d dance it. A puppeteer showed how he’d puppet it. A designer created a breathtaking Playbill, in a video that’s been seen nearly 5 million times. Stagehands, ushers, photos of the Broadway marquee — all of it materialized.

“But, of course, it didn’t — really. In 2020, while Broadway is closed and TikTok is king, some of the most exciting theater is a figment of our imagination.

“Like our own sourdough, the ‘Ratatouille’ musical was a concoction of pandemic boredom. But it’s also the culmination of a larger phenomenon in musical theater: Social media platforms, especially TikTok, are allowing for [a] new ecosystem of musical theater fan fiction, where creativity flourishes in unpredictable ways. …

“Now, the fan/performer experience has heightened, sped up, morphed — led by pioneers such as Alexa Chalnick, a 19-year-old Ithaca College sophomore who’s attending her virtual classes from home in Freehold, N.J. She’ll play the piano part of a song and invite her 600,000 TikTok followers to create their own videos singing along with her, using the app’s ‘duet’ function. Or she’ll invite them to try out for coaching sessions with her and Broadway performers.

“She held ‘auditions’ for a hypothetical ‘miscast’ production of “’Hamilton,’ giving worthy actors roles they wouldn’t usually get. Yes, in a trend popularized on Instagram last year, fans hold auditions for productions that will never happen — they just solicit videos and then post the cast list, and the winners see them as a badge of honor.

“Chalnick notes that TikTok’s features — including its ‘For You’ recommendations — give even obscure videos a shot. ‘What makes TikTok so different is that any video that you post has the possibility of blowing up, which I think is a little bit different from Instagram or YouTube, which won’t necessarily push out your videos’ as often to viewers who aren’t following you, she says.

“Katie Johantgen, 28, discovered this in October 2019, when she uploaded her first few videos to TikTok, logged off and returned a couple of hours later to discover that she had 12,000 followers. … ‘More than karaoke, it creates the piano bar vibe,’ Johantgen says of the app.

“Daniel Mertzlufft knows that vibe. The 27-year-old composer, orchestrator and arranger in New York is the one who injected Jacobsen’s Remy song with cello, chimes, French horn, glockenspiel, choral harmonies and more. He had done this kind of thing before: In September, he posted ‘Grocery Store: A New Musical,’ a 43-second song inspired by a Louisa Melcher lyric, where he plays one half of a couple bickering in an aisle. Fans used the duet feature to add more and more characters: his wife, his lover (played by ‘Pitch Perfect’ star Skylar Astin), their kid, a can of soup, even ‘the water sprayers that always mist you when you’re reaching for kale,’ as the TikToker put it. …

“Mary Neely was duetting with herself quite a lot early in the pandemic — though on Twitter, where she created TikTok-esque videos by lip-syncing to such show tunes as the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ opener, dressing up as each character and filming it herself.

The 29-year-old ended up on year-end best-of-theater lists in both the Washington Post and the New York Times and is moving from Los Angeles to New York to pursue a musical theater career.

“While isolated, Neely remembered that as a child, acting out soundtracks in her bedroom was what made her happy in times of loneliness. So she decided to indulge a passion that often made her feel like an outlier.

“ ‘When I made these videos, I was like, I don’t care if people think they’re lame. I don’t care if I get made fun of, because I like this, and this is a huge part of me and has informed my life in a really positive way,’ she says. ‘So why should I be muting that part of myself?’

“Even Broadway performers and shows have started to benefit from this kind of interactivity. ‘Six,’ a new show about the wives of Henry VIII, saw a clip of its song ‘Don’t Lose Ur Head’ lip-synced by Loren Gray (50 million followers) and Charli D’Amelio (103 million). Women have lip-synced to its lyric ‘Yeah that didn’t work out’ over photos of their ex-boyfriends. As the show’s marketing chief, Amanda Pekoe, puts it, ‘ “Six” lives and breathes in their lives.’ ” More.

From my experience with casting in community theater, I could relate to a comment about how you always think you want to see someone from another era in a hard-to-cast role. Now you can make it happen. Sort of.

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iputonpantsforthisfbbanner4-5-20

Humorous online show from Philadelphia: Thursdays at 6 pm, here.

Many of us have been bingeing on the new online offerings for education, entertainment, or simply communicating.

But not everyone has time to check things out. In the beginning, I was sending lots of online links meant for kids. But as John pointed out, two working parents teaching themselves to home-school might not have the bandwidth even to click and see if the links were actually cool.

They are definitely busy. I’ve been busy, but I do have time to try links for my own entertainment and to pass along a few to friends.

As I mentioned yesterday, a took an online seminar on TikTok. It was presented by First Draft, an organization that offers resources for journalists and has a focus on spotting and countering fake news. The webinar was way above my level, but it got me interested in learning more about TikTok. I do like social media.

Meanwhile, in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, theater-going is pretty much shut down. But I saw a very good 20-minute play by David Mamet and his actress wife Rebecca Pidgeon at the Great Barrington Public Theater site “Bear Tales: Six Feet Together,” here. The play is about the famed, hard-drinking journalist Dorothy Kilgallen (1913-1965) and promotes a theory about the Lindbergh baby that was completely new to me. For more of Great Barrington Public Theater’s “Bear Tales,” click here.

I moonlighted for many years as a theater reviewer, and I reviewed the Boston Theater Marathon for New York-based TheaterMania.com a number of times. So I was interested to see how scores of 10-minute Theater Marathon plays would be handled in the pandemic. Turns out, the Boston Playwrights Theater decided to Zoom one new play at a time. What is nice is that you can enjoy extra features after watching the play: discussions among the playwright, the actors, the director, and more. Each person is, of course, at home. Catch new plays at noon until May 18, here.

Nancy Greenaway, the poet I know from New Shoreham, alerted me to an online reading organized by Connecticut’s Arts Café Mystic and scheduled for the last day of National Poetry Month. I watched that, too.

There was a lot of variety, and it was kind of fun to see what indoor or outdoor home settings the readers had chosen for a backdrop. Some people read classic favorites from the canon, some read their own poems. I got a kick out of a poem by Stephen Dobyns about an old man who heard his dog suggesting fun things to do that they once used to do. The suggestions seemed to dead-end. Finally the dog suggested that they go back in the house and make a big sandwich. We leave the old man looking in the fridge “for answers.”

Dobyns has been a college professor and a mystery writer as well as a poet. I heard him once in person and got the message that he really didn’t like to mix his poetry side with his novel-writing side, but I sure did love his entertaining Charlie Bradshaw/ Saratoga detective series.

You can listen to the poetry reading here. Click on “In This Together.”

For entertainment on Thursdays at 6 pm, you might like “I Put on Pants for This,” by Philadephia-based comedy troupe 1812 productions. My husband and I found plenty of laughs in the episode about comedians Mae West, Sophie Tucker, and Moms Mabley. Go here here to access the 1812 productions.

For those who like Sondheim’s music — and many people do — there’s a YouTube tribute from an astonishing number of stars, including Sutton Foster, Josh Groban, Jake Gyllenhaal, Patti LuPone, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Audra McDonald, Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters, Randy Rainbow, Meryl Streep, and Raúl Esparza.

The video is more than two hours, though. I watched it in chunks, here. It’s also a fundraiser for ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty).

I’ll wrap up today by mentioning an amazing collection of 175,336 photographs you can access for free at the Library of Congress, here. It’s from the period of the Great Depression (Dorothea Lange, anyone?) and is labeled “Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information.” It’s a beautiful reminder that when artists are out of work, a certain kind of government will pay them to document hard times.

Take Me to the World: Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration

 

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tik-tok-videos

Photo: Natalie Bell
Natalie Bell and her kids, says CBC, “have been making Tik Tok and Instagram videos together to pass the time while they’re isolating at their home in Winnipeg, Canada.”

The other day, I took an online seminar on how to do TikTok. Just because. But even before I read today’s story, I was pretty sure you would need a teenager in the house to move to the next level. (Namely, the level beyond downloading the app.)

Rachel Bergen at CBC Manitoba writes, “Families cooped up together during the COVID-19 pandemic are turning to Netflix, board games and puzzles to get them through — but a few are going renegade and taking on TikTok dance challenges.

“Take Pat Tetrault and his three daughters in La Broquerie, Manitoba, who found they had an abundance of time on their hands and decided to use it making TikTok videos together.

” ‘They showed me a few TikToks that I thought were hilarious, so I said, “What the heck, let’s do something crazy. Let’s get something done,” ‘ he said.

“TikTok is one of the world’s most popular social media platforms, with more than 800 million people around the world using the app regularly to create and share short videos. It’s mostly popular with teens, who often post videos of themselves taking on dance challenges. …

“Although Tetrault is still going to work, his daughters are home and isolated from their friends. It can be challenging, he said, but the videos are ways they can have fun together — and his daughters can make fun of their dad. …

“Making creative videos is a great outlet, says parenting commentator Ann Douglas. The parenting book author and columnist for CBC Radio says children and teens are likely feeling very vulnerable and out of control, so parents ceding control of activities allows kids to take a bit more ownership of a challenging situation.

” ‘I think it’s great to let kids take the lead on some of the activities because right now, a lot of kids are feeling like they’ve lost all control over their life,’ she said. … ‘One thing kids can control is coming up with a way to have fun.’

“Tetrault’s daughters control their TikTok videos and, apparently, his dance moves.

” ‘I’ll be honest with you. I’m old school. I’m not a big dancer. … The girls are teaching me all sorts of new stuff. … We’re actually getting closer because of it. … It’s a different avenue of connecting with them.’

“Natalie Bell is also making TikTok videos using her account @pegcitylovely with her children to pass the time.

‘We try to do things more now as a family than we ever have before because, of course, it used to be just the business of the day. … It’s just something fun. There’s no stress, there’s no pressure. It’s just if we want to do it, we do it,’ Bell said. ‘We have fun and we don’t care who sees it.’ …

“In Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Nellie Guimond, Alexa Haley and Lily-Jade Haley create daily videos on TikTok featuring their mother, Cindy Guimond, and their dad, Éric Haley — whom they are teaching to dance.

” ‘Showing this to the world, to our family and friends, was really entertaining for everyone, and everyone loved it. I think that’s the main reason for our little popularity … his goofy side that people didn’t think he would, or could, show,’ Nellie said in a CBC Quebec AM interview.

“Lily-Jade said making the videos keeps them happy and connected.

‘Sometimes we laugh about our dad, because he doesn’t get the moves right away,’ she said. …

“[Parenting commentator] Douglas said there are many creative ways parents can connect with their children during the pandemic, and they don’t need to use social media to do it.

“For example, it can be an opportunity to try new things in the kitchen and access a kind of ‘improvisational inspiration,’ she says. ‘What if you only have these five or six ingredients? And what could you Google and find a recipe for? And how might it really turn out?’

“For parents of craft-loving kids, Douglas suggests making signs with community-minded messages to put in the window for others to see.”

OK, but if you ask me, TikTok videos of dancing dads who don’t know how to dance sure beats signs in the window.

More at the CBC, here.

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