By: Tony

Last week Matt and I went to SXSW (South by SouthWest). For those who don’t know this is a massive conference consisting of people from the music, film/ tv, and innovation industries (don’t ask me to explain the last one it’s sorta like inventions and investments). The goal for Matt and I was to attend panels and listen to speakers who are professionals in the film/ video field. Topics of some of the panels we attended include “how to successfully fund a film”, “different editing workflows for different mediums”, “TV vs Digital in comedy”, and “how to successfully start and continue a podcast.”

The information we gleamed from these panels was somewhat helpful. The problem Matt and I kept seeing was that every panel was more focused on how these topics relate to the major Film and TV industry. There was a lot of great information on how to make your way into the industry and lock down a position but wasn’t what I was really looking for. I wish I’d have gone to this conference long ago before going to a University to study “communications” for 4 years. A full load at this conference along with some basic technical training and I’d have been set.

Truthfully I never wanted to start as a low level intern and climb the ladder. I’ve always wanted to do my own thing. That’s why I’m so in love with what we do now at TSD. Thanks to the internet and social media we can create our own content and put it out there for everyone to see! Even though YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, etc have been around for awhile this concept is still relatively new to a lot of people.

Out of all the hours of video I consume (and trust me it’s a lot) I’d say 30% of it comes from independent creators or small studios who exclusively launch online. Whether through their own site, YouTube, Facebook, or some other platform the only place you can find their work is via the internet. The crazy thing is they have as much if not more of a fanbase than Hollywood movies and “Main Stream Television.”

One reason for their being so many fans is the level of fan engagement. Online you don’t just passively watch a show alone. You can respond directly to the creators and they can respond back. Their struggle to create becomes something you share in and in doing so you become more of a part of what you enjoying watching. As an example let me engage you by asking what other channels or content do you enjoy that can only be found online?

I honestly want to find more great content out there and it’s a vast ocean. I’ll list some of my own long standing favorites below as well because I believe in sharing this idea. The idea that there’s so much more out there than what the Main Stream Industry has to provide and we need to make more people aware of that. No hate on the main stream I love my Netflix and Amazon Prime.

I’ll put my list of favs below. I’m keeping it strictly unique content. I watch a lot of critic based shows but that’s not really what I’m talking about here. Thanks for reading:

* All of these you can find on YouTube


The Guild (Created by Geek and Sundry. One of the first of it’s kind and perfect for anyone who’s ever been sucked into an MMO)

Space Janitors (One of the best Scifi parody shows I’ve seen in a long time.)

RWBY (Created by Rooster Teeth and my favorite current running Western Anime)

TableTop (It’s watching people play board games but NOT boring trust me. In fact I’ve gone out and bought almost every game they’ve showcased)

Miracle of Sound & Peter Hollens (Separate music composers who create some amazing stuff with awesome videos.)

P.S. SXSW is a great conference I hope it didn’t sound like I coming down on it. Matt and I were not upset by the level of discussion. Also they had so many movie screenings. I got to see Ready Player One early and Steven Speilburg was there to introduce it!!!!! Needless to say it was a great time.

Why We Bake

Summers in rural Illinois are hot and miserably humid amidst the cornfields. Both of my parents worked long hours and during our summer vacation, my mom would drive us out to her mother’s house, fifteen minutes away, to spend the day. Most mornings my grandmother, or “grammy” as I call her, could typically be found sewing a quilt, fiddling in the kitchen, or readying her sprawling gardens for a day’s work which my brother and I would unenthusiastically help with. I’ll never forget summers at her house. We would work all throughout the morning and early afternoon, hauling wheelbarrows full of mulch, bent over weeding the gardens, or even mixing cement to build a custom stone footpath through the yard. The grass would begin the day soaked with dew. As the morning heat riled up, the droplets slowly turned to sweat on our brows, mixing with dirt to draw streaks of mud on our faces. Finally, when the cicadas’ drones grew loud and the sun drew to its midday fever pitch, we would retire inside for a snack, some Diet Rite pop and cold iced tea. I always looked forward to this moment: a job well done and a reward well earned.

We would climb up on tall chairs at the end of the kitchen, peering out through the windows to survey our verdant kingdom as it started to gasp in the mid-July heat. Behind us, the closing of the refrigerator door would herald our just reward: Grammy would have baked something delicious the previous night. There would be fresh banana bread with peanut butter frosting, blueberry muffins, fresh apple sauce, lemon bars or some other treasure from summer’s ripe produce. She was always baking and cooking things for my Grandpa’s lunches and we were more than happy to take the remaining goodies for our snacks.

This is where my love for baking and being in the kitchen comes from. In my grandma’s kitchen, I first learned how to make a roux, how to bake banana bread, and, most importantly, how happy food can make people. My aunts, uncles, and cousins may not have always got along but somehow- at every gathering in that kitchen- we managed to set aside our differences, and enjoy the company and food. I have a sneaking suspicion that much of that was to do with the food… especially grammy’s famous rainbow jello dessert.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about why I bake and in turn, why anyone does. We have to eat, of course, but why do we take loving care in crafting magnificent and decadent food? What is it that draws us to spend hours laboring in the kitchen? In my case, and I think for most people, its a form of time traveling through memories. Every time I cook, I’m filling my pans with my story, my memories, my love. Even when I’m in a rush to just get something done or on the plate, it still has a hint of my life in it: a twist of joy, an extra dash of my dad’s sweet tooth, or a pinch of my mother’s love. It’s why when I like you, I’ll cook for you and if I really like you, I’ll want you to cook for me: I want you to share in me and I to share in you. When my grandma taught me to mince the celery and onions- two ingredients I loathed as a child- for the chicken salad, it was her way of sharing her world and encouraging me to see that the things I may think I don’t like, are very much lovable. And when my dad taught me how to make cornbread, it was him revealing a piece of his life to me and that cornbread always tastes best in a screaming hot cast iron skillet, smothered in honey and butter.

So why do we cook? Because we love telling stories. We love to hear stories; we love being a part of stories. To me, a family recipe book is like an old hymnal in a church, tattered and worn. Its a book full of our histories, our cultures, our shared experiences. Every time we bake something from it, we’re singing the same song our loved ones sang. I bake because I love rereading the stories of my family, my childhood, and my world. Joy, sorrow, laughter and heartbreak have never tasted so sweet as when they are poured into a cake, lovingly folded into flour, and swirled with frosting- sweeter still when shared with a friend and a glass of cold iced tea. I hope this week you’re able to write yourself a story, or at least read one over again. I’m sure it will taste just as sweet as the first time you read it.