Archive for July, 2007

Face to face with Saif

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

A week ago a monumental landmark was achieved for Hometown Baghdad. We didn’t reach ten billion views. A sudden traffic overload did not shut down our site. We didn’t translate the videos into any new language. Nothing like that. But this milestone is in many ways even more important and even more exciting. A Hometown Baghdad viewer from America met Saif face-to-face in Jordan! I think this is so incredibly cool. After the experience of watching HTB, I know many of us count Saif, Ausama, Zaid, and Adel among our friends. But there is something really special about a viewer of the series showing up in Amman and crashing at Saif’s place. I know I’m jealous.

Here’s the story (as related to me by Saif):

Kate Jordan was watching episode 17 of HTB, “Hubbly Bubbly,” and she started thinking, “Mmm, that looks good.” Sometime around then, Saif left a comment on the blog inviting anyone to come try his hookah in Jordan. That was three months ago. Coincidentally, Kate and her friend Dan Irby had been planning a back packing trip through the Middle East. They got in touch with Saif and told him they were taking him up on his shisha offer. And Saif not only obliged but he invited them to stay in a spare room in his apartment. So Kate and Dan spent four days with Saif, smoking the shisha, hanging out with his family, doing some sightseeing together, and watching the Iraqi soccer team coast to victory. Kate and Dan are keeping a blog about their trip. The most recent post tells of their first impressions of Amman.

Dan, Saif and Kate in Saif’s apartment

Saif’s family welcomes Kate and Dan

The real reason Kate and Dan came to Amman!

So who’s next? Who’s going to visit Ausama in Kurdistan? Who’s going to hang with Adel wherever he may be?

HTB on ABC’s Nightline Tonight!

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

Nightline Logo
I know, I know. I jumped the gun by announcing our upcoming Nightline spot back in mid June. I believe I said that we’d be on in the “upcoming days.” Days turned to weeks, weeks turned to a month. Anyway, that’s all history and I’d like to announce on good sources that we will be featured on ABC’s Nightline tonight at 11:35pm EST. It should be noted that the piece on HTB will only run in the US version and not the international version that airs on Middle East Broadcast and other non-US distributors.

A few weeks ago, the World News video podcast included some of the footage that will go into the Nightline feature. Check that out here. But tonight’s piece should be a bit longer with more interviews. I’m pretty excited to watch it and immensely thankful that the press continues to give Adel, Saif, Ausama and our incredible crew the attention they deserve. This feature alone will introduce HTB to a few million more viewers.

Tribute to fallen Iraqi students

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

On June 11th of last year, Iraqi blogger Konfused Kid (KK) lost four of his best friends to a roadside bomb. They were one week away from their college graduation. He made this tribute video for them. It is heart-breaking.

You can see a news piece on the Konfused Kid, who coincidentally is Ausama and his brother’s friend, here. He now lives in Amman, Jordan.

Chilling accounts of near death in Baghdad

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

While we at Chat the Planet work on more distribution outlets for Hometown Baghdad and as we plan a follow up to the project, I have been following a few incredible blogs coming out of Baghdad. It’s hard to imagine that the situation has continued to get worse since we completed shooting HTB late last year. One blogger in particular, Mohammed at Last-of-Iraqis, has had a terrifying few weeks and his blog gives an amazing account of one Iraqi’s repeated close calls with death.

Consider this passage from his post yesterday:

As soon as we got down from the taxi and walked a few steps near the Olympic club , I heard a gun shot !! It was loud with echo!! I’m sure it’s not AK-47 and I’m sure it’s inside the building because of the echo….. Then there was another shot …..It was so scary , so close and so loud , my wife was in panic , she was so scared I pushed her from the side-walk to the building wall (so that we would be a harder target) there was no one in the street but us .We stood there for a few seconds , then there was silence , we decided to continue , we walked and just before the concrete ex-checkpoint there was a gunshot and I saw the impact of the bullet beside me , another one in front of me , I pushed my wife to the nearest building and we hided there.

Or this passage from his post entitled “I Shouldn’t Be Alive” from a few days ago:

I saw a mini bus in the middle of the street , there was glass around it , it was clear that this mini-bus was exposed to drive-by shooting so I concentrated my vision on it and pointed my handy I reached near the bus I heard gun shots!!!it was extremely close to me!!! I turned my head and I saw a police man pointing the AK-47 at me and shouting :”YOU , Stop right now , I swear by Ali I will kill you”

Saif’s Instructional Guitar Videos

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

Hometown Baghdad viewers should know that when Saif isn’t booby-trapping his house with barbwire, smoking shisha, or talking about his beautiful wife Noor, he is playing guitar. And so he has decided to make a series of instructional videos for people wanting to learn how to play in a variety of styles. Here are the first two. If you like them, subscribe to his youtube channel.

Lesson 1: Triple Stroke Rasgueado

Lesson 2: Forward Arpeggio