Monday, March 31, 2008

Whiskers is Such a Romantic

As a follow up to last week's entry about The Tuscan Trend (TTT), I can now without question state that Americans are serious suckers for anything named "Tuscan."

It's not enough anymore that your food, drink, home or apartment be Tuscanized, now your cat gets to eat Tuscan style.

Thank you, Fancy Feast®. (A Purina® product, which is a Nestlé® company.)

With apologies to the mental health community and the mentally challenged, this nation is now officially retarded.

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Sailing For Coffee - Cruising For Martinis

Could it be that travel advertisers have been farming their work out to Worth 1000?

This week's contest: Drinking & Travel. Create a travel ad using a commonly consumed beverage.

Both ads scanned from the recent New York Times Style Magazine, travel edition, Spring, 2008.

Click 'em for bigness.

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Amtrak, I'm Almost Proud of You

Design: Nice. Clean. It looks like the mid-20th Century advertising from the glory days of passenger rail service. Also gets points for eliminating "www" from the URL and not featuring a phone number.
Placement: Perfect. The last outdoor board right at the entrance to Orlando International Airport, reminding air travelers that there is an alternative to the frustration of flying.
Message: Clever, but flawed. You're telling people entering the airport, "You're about to be pissed off, standing in that dreadful line, taking your shoes off and emptying your pockets for TSA employees who hate being there as much as you do. You could be cruising on this majestic train along a palm dotted coast."

Had they stopped at "Far from the Maddening Crowds" it would be better, but someone had to add "of the security line," which leaves me wondering what kind of security Amtrak has. Further, that is not the only maddening crowd one encounters when flying. You've got the line to get your boarding pass and check your luggage. Then the security line, then the crowd getting on the tram. Then the crowd at the gate. Then the line getting on the plane. Then that really maddening time when as soon as the plane arrives at the destination gate, everyone unbuckles their seatbelt and jumps into the aisle to stand there for fifteen minutes, eager to be off the maddeningly crowded plane.

Further flawing this message is the use of the word "maddening," which really isn't a word Amtrak should be employing in its advertising. It reminds anyone with experience aboard Amtrak how maddening it can be to be way out in Middle of Nowhere, USA, stranded on a track for hours as you wait for freight trains, which Amtrak must yield to since they don't own the rails they use. It might also remind Amtrak passengers how maddening it can be to be waiting in a train station for hours as your train will invariably be delayed. It also might remind them that the cost of a train ticket is maddeningly more expensive than an airline ticket.

I'm not sure what Amtrak can ever do to overcome its many problems, (outlined humorously here in comic book form - with a more sober and maddening outline here) but they're on the right track (zing!) with this ad that plays on the illusion that train travel is fun, exciting and far more enjoyable than the alternative. I might've suggested something along the lines of "It's about the journey, not the destination," or "Getting there can be half the fun," or "No one has a fear of training."

All of my ranting about Amtrak stems from a love of train travel acquired in Germany. I'm actually trying to help. So here are some spec ads, Amtrak. They're a little bolder than you're used to, but you have nothing to lose at this point. I will work for you harder if you pay me. (Bring me up to DC on the Auto Train, which I've actually heard good things about. I'll even blog the journey positively. I'm talking to you, Emmett H. Fremaux.)

Previously in "Amtrak"
Amtrak SUCKS*
Amtrak Keeps Sucking
My Kingdom for A (Iron) Horse

*This blog ranks 5th on Google for the term "Amtrak Sucks."

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Black is the New Green

Groggy, eyes half-closed, sipping a scalding coffee, going to check some sites I seem to have developed a dependence upon, and Google wants to mess with my world by getting all Earthy on my homepage. It's all a part of Earth Hour.

Great effort. Got me to blog about it, so disarming was it to see my Google page all darkened. It's almost guerrillaesque in a simple, shocking way.

So I click the link to find out what's it about.

Yawn. Another self-satisfied half-stab at creating "awareness" for conservation.

Yes, let's have everyone turn off their lights for an hour tonight in a symbolic gesture of "acknowledging our commitment to energy conservation." And then we can all feel good about ourselves because we...acknowledged our commitment to energy conservation?

Yeah, that should do it.

I don't want to start a war with the Church of Global Warming or get into a debate with the Eco-Police or demean the work of all the Green Teamers, but your efforts are wasted.

I was at a grocery store yesterday and a nicely dressed woman was loading her bags into a nicely waxed, high-end, late model sedan. She had those burlap eco-bags that you bring with you every time you shop. I'm sure she thought she was "doing her part for the environment," but it won't mean a thing until you ban plastic grocery bags and issue burlap grocery bags to every citizen. Or even easier: charge shoppers ten cents per plastic bag.

I hear PSAs on the radio urging homeowners to only water their lawns on the days designated by the county. But until the Sprinkler Police start issuing citations to people like my neighbor who waters his lawn all the time - even when it's raining - the people will continue to waste water.

You drive a hybrid? Nice. Feel better now? Great. Guess what? It didn't help. Until the government stops kissing the asses of Saudi Arabia and bailing out Detroit, nothing will change. If your motivation to buy a hybrid was to save on your monthly gasoline bill, then good on you. Just don't pretend you're doing something "for the Earth."

Given a choice, the majority of the population will not sacrifice. A few idealists will, and those few idealists will get frustrated and angry with the majority for not helping, hoping to shame them into helping. And the majority won't feel ashamed; they'll just feel indignant and pissed off at the idealists for being so arrogant. They'll help when they're punished in the wallet for not helping.

That's how it works. Sorry.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

You Tubery Musical Friday Flashback

Seven old songs that could start a weekend. Crack open a brew or two and crank up the speakers. (But you gotta watch, too.)

  • In a nice companion piece to a Jeremiah Wright sermon, a couple of blind Black superstars rip into Livin' For The City.
  • Beck and his secret homage to Shatner that occurs at about 2:25.
  • From the 1966 film Blowup, Jimmy Page, (Jeff) Beck and the Yardbirds rearrange Train Kept a Rollin. An extremely bizarre scene.
  • The Eels reenact many of my dreams in this video of a song that won't grow old: Novocaine for the Soul.
  • The wit, art, fun and funk of RHCP.
  • Tracy Chapman ruled the world with this song for a month a long time ago. Heard it in a store this afternoon, prompting this post.
  • A Sony/BMG Market Research team took CAKE's "Short Skirt Long Jacket" out into the streets of LA to see how it would play to a broad focus group. They got some funny, honest results.

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Creative Director to Designer: "Remove Nipples"

A banner hanging on the side of the main bus terminal in downtown Orlando promotes Sunday night's Wrestlemania event at the Citrus Bowl. If you look closely, (click for enlarged view) you'll notice that the wrestlers have no nipples, in a misinterpretation of a local ordinance prohibiting the public display of nipples.

More on the sordid details of nippleless wrestlers here.

Don't ask me how, but the Citrus Bowl (capacity of 70K) is nearly sold out for this event.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Band Names from Google News

You've poured your heart into those lyrics. Some of the words were fueled by love, others by loss, more than a few by lust. You and your mates have practiced, sometimes through the night, and your fingers have made grooves in the frets. Your boss said, "Get a haircut," and so you quit that stupid job right there on the spot, giving your boss the finger as you strolled away in your leather jacket. You've starved yourself to fit into your tight jeans and torso-sucking tiny t-shirt. You took your new Chuck Taylors into the mud and grime so no one would know they were new. You're ready. You're different. You're going to be huge in Japan.

But that big break hasn't come yet. The record companies won't send a rep to listen. Your CDs sent in the mail never get a response. The only clubs you can book want you to play classic rock covers for drunken old bikers. Even your MySpace page is seeing very little traffic. Life is sucking and you're almost ready to close the curtain on this music dream.

Buck up, little rebels. You may just need to rebrand. Take on a new name.

Try one of these, culled from today's Google News headlines.

  • Grounded for Safety
  • Expelled Official
  • The Dim Lamps
  • Mozzarella Scare
  • Gunfire Highway
  • Baghdad Blast
  • The DB Coopers

  • And if you don't like any of those, here are a bunch more.

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    Buy The Book - Attend The Seminar

    Nevermind that the book was self-published and the seminar is on YouTube. He will be called "Ken Fox - Strategist" in case he becomes a recurring comic.
    Click it for maximization

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    Wednesday, March 26, 2008

    Fresh Googled Directions in a Light Street Dressing

    Met the parents for lunch at a restaurant up in Ormond Beach this past Sunday. Looking up the address on trusty Google Maps revealed this image on "Street View." The skateboarder made it across the street by the time we got there and wasn't able to serve as a landmark. Remember MapQuest? They were once the go-to source, now I don't even THINK of them anymore for directions.

    Previously in Google Street Views
    The Building Remains The Same
    San Francisco Thong Shot

    My meal was pretty fine. I had a marinated, center cut pork chop over garlic mashed potatoes, served with an Autumn inspired Granny Smith apple chutney and french green beans. In another restaurant, that would be called a pork chop, mashed potatoes and green beans with a side of applesauce. The writers of this particular menu really favored the term "oak-grilled." We had one of those super-attentive waiters (who went in-depth about the oak wood under the grill) who make you feel like reducing the tip because they're trying so hard. Like, "Damn, dude, were you hovering around the corner with a fresh drink watching for me to swallow the last of this glass? You're scaring me. Can we eat?" I suppose I shouldn't complain about excellent customer service, dying art that it is.

    Previously in Copywriting for Food
    Fancy St. Louis Lunch vs. Georgia Black Church Supper

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    Not What We Had In Mind

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    Tuesday, March 25, 2008

    Tuscanize Your Brand

    Just as we Americans are total suckers for an English accent when it's used in broadcast advertising, we are also drawn to all things that have the mysterious "Tuscan" tag affixed to them. I'm not sure when The Tuscan Trend™ (or TTT™) started, but I suspect it was around the time of the release of Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, which was filmed in Tuscany. Whenever and however it started, TTT™ shows no signs of dying. Label it "Tuscan," marketers, and Americans will buy it.

  • In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, build your new home at Tuscany Ridge.
  • There's a Tuscany Ridge in St. Augustine, Florida.
  • How about The Estates at Tuscany Ridge in Tampa, Florida?
  • Maybe a West Virginian notion of a Tuscan Ridge is more to your liking.
  • Perfect your game at the Tuscan Ridge Golf Club in Paradise, California.
  • And what happens in Tuscany Village, Las Vegas, Nevada stays in Tuscany Village.
  • Visit Disney here in Orlando and stay just minutes away at a vacation home in Tuscan Ridge.
  • After a busy day at the parks, head over to Outback Steakhouse for the Chargrilled Tuscan Ribeye.
  • Dine at the Tuscany Grill in Suntree, Florida.
  • Or dine at the completely unrelated Tuscany Grill in Middletown, Connecticut.
  • Or dine at one of the 26 Brio Tuscan Grilles in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas or Virginia.
  • Would you like to view The Chardonnay floorplan at the Tuscany Ridge Apartments in Temecula, California? (They also feature The Chablis, The Merlot, The Cabernet and The Bourdeaux. Classy.)
  • Slightly more affordable are the Tuscany Ridge Apartments in Peoria, Arizona.

  • I have not even scratched the surface of the Tuscan Naming Craze. Those were just random Googlings of the phrase "Tuscan Ridge." Try "Tuscan Hills" and you'll find another few hundred thousand.

    Be it tile, paint, furniture, real estate, food or drink, we will somehow attach this image to any item named Tuscan: A Sunny Afternoon Feast spread out on a Big Oak Table Outdoors with a Rolling Hills Countryside Background while a Gentle Breeze Blows through a Renaissance Romance. Ah, yes. People will pay for that image. They will pay more than whatever you're selling is worth.

    Maybe it's me, but when I think of a Tuscan apartment, I've got something more like this* in mind.

    (And this reminds me that I need to do a post on the whole Olde English way of spelling stuff in new developments here in America, like towne, centre or shoppes.)

    *Not really in Tuscany, but further north in the Pennavaire Valley, in the town of Colletta, being billed as a "Medieval e-Village" with Broadband for everyone. Exceedingly cool.

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    Paul Giamatti, You Are No John Adams

    Episode Three in this grueling, never-ending biopic on HBO ended with our hero delirious in bed in Amsterdam, hallucinating and passing in and out of consciousness. The suspense is too much. Will he ever make it home to his brave and long suffering Abigail? Will he survive to become America's first Vice-President and the nation's second President?

    Grueling and never-ending is known as "epic" or "saga" in TV world. Or better still, "Epic Saga."

    See John Adams vomiting on his Atlantic crossing as he seeks French help for the revolution. See John Adams go into a coughing fit as he appeals to the government of the Netherlands for cash. See the viewers turn away in droves. See HBO scratch what have become pretty empty heads of late as they ask, "Where did we go wrong? It's a political season! We had the Internet saturated in banner ads for months! Everyone loves Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney!" Yeah. And we watched the first few installments. And then many viewers said, "Shit, I don't know if I can take another episode of this."

    But still, we'll likely see Paul Giamatti get a gratuitous Emmy nod for what will be considered his "moving and courageous" performance.

    "OK, Paul. In this scene you're coughing - and I mean really, really coughing. Coughing your lungs out and gonna blow open your stomach coughing. I want to hear it, Paul. Also, give me that eyes half-closed thing you do so well - and add a touch of the world-weary cynic head-hang that you're famous for. Ready, Paul? Great. and...Action!"

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    Saturday, March 22, 2008

    What Are You Doing in There, Son?

    Apparently the channels I watch on TV aren't the ones Clorox feels its demo is watching, so I hadn't seen this commercial from DDB San Francisco that's been around for well over a year. This is some nice work. Flying fish, airborne ships and a cinematic score that propels the whole mini-movie along. I'm way late to this, but it's worth a view if you haven't seen it yet. (This is the extended version of what is usually only seen as a :30.)

    I suppose it helps mothers to think that this is why their sons are spending so much time in the bathroom - and this is what they are fantasizing about.

    There's a "girl" version called "Mermaids"here.

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    Friday, March 21, 2008

    It's Friday - It's Good

  • A photographer takes very nice panoramas that are used in many Wikipedia articles. I suggest you steal some.
  • If you must crucify yourself, please get a tetanus shot. (Sponsored by Coca-Cola!)
  • Some clever submissions to Scamp’s “Advertising Haiku” post.
  • Old driver safety films.
  • The client who knows it all.
  • Can the venture capital for social networking sites please dry up now?

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    You Don't Know What You've Got 'Till It's Gone

    Remember all the creepy Dancing Banners for They were pretty awesome in hindsight. Jennifer Uhll, creator of the ads, stopped by Where's My Jetpack not long ago to defend her work. She was very nice in the face of people commenting not only that they hated her and her 80s big hair, but that she should burn in Hell for what she did for banner ads.

    I miss Jennifer's work now, because here's the latest from Lower My Bills, found at the New York Post. A tarantula climbs a woman's breast in this animation. When it reaches her shoulder, she convulses in cartoonish horror. Wow. Where do I sign the loan papers?

    Yes, it caught my eye. But really, is that all that matters?

    Probably. Sometime soon we'll be hearing about how this was LowerMyBills 2nd most successful banner campaign, right behind "Dancing Rooftop Couple."

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    Thursday, March 20, 2008

    This is Post No. 711 - And I Don't Believe in Coincidence

    Redeemed Almost

    From the album Telegraph Canyon

    What if it’s all just coincidence
    as we grasp for some significance?
    Just a tumbling of the dice
    The sum or the difference

    Have you seen any signs?
    You seen any signs?

    Well, like snow in El Paso
    on a Christmas Day
    or the way that you go
    when you know you should stay

    I feel redeemed

    I feel redeemed


    Or maybe it’s all just an accident
    Just some existential happenstance
    Just a rolling of the bones
    Just chance and circumstance

    Have you seen any signs?
    You seen any signs?

    How about the kiss that stopped time?
    Or the eyes that glow?
    Or the way that you stay
    when you know you should go

    I feel redeemed

    I feel redeemed

    ©2008 Radio Free Babylon™

    Click it. Go on.

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    I'm Gonna Make You a Star

    Band Names from Google News Headlines, Volume IX

    Every day across the world, thousands of dreamers begin the fruitless quest to make money with their music. Be it the misunderstood rapper from Taiwan, a clan of avant-garde neo-punks from Vancouver or a coven of sunlight deprived death-metalists in Greenland, everyone is going to need a catchy name for their act if they hope to catch the interest of the record label…wait a minute…the record labels are dying.

    Well, if they ever hope to get you to click on their MySpace page and download their music and them maybe sell you a T-shirt, or if they ever hope to get booked into some seedy club in downtown Sacramento where they can sell you a T-shirt, they’ll need a name. Here are some possible band names you dreamers can use, courtesy of today’s Google News Headlines.

  • Braced for Floods
  • Fantasy Camp
  • The Blind Black Governors
  • Wright’s Brothers
  • Kilauea Eruption
  • The Rioting Monks
  • Extra Solar Organic

  • Here are a bunch more.

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    Wednesday, March 19, 2008

    My Kingdom for an (Iron) Horse

    Hey, Delta has a blog!

    And they're Green, Diverse, aware of Breast Cancer and doing what they can for the Poor.

    Bases pretty well covered in their efforts to rebuild following bankruptcy.

    Now, if they can do something about the smarmy treatment so prevalent with airlines.

    From the ticket counter to security to the baggage claim, everything about flying just plain sucks. Come on , Amtrak, get your act on track.

    UPDATE: HighJive notes in the comments that it's unlikely we'll see anything good out of Delta with this recent news.

    Original 1970 image is via.

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    Frogs Have No Mute Button

    'Twas the Night before Spring, and all 'cross the water
    every creature was warning, 'It's about to get hotter.'

    On this Eve of Spring, the frogs of Florida have shaken off their slumber here on a minor man-made arm of the Wekiva River.

    Poor phone video, but it's more about the sound.

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    Tuesday, March 18, 2008

    Orlando Weekly Loves You Long Time

    Local law enforcement recently came down on the Orlando Weekly for knowingly selling ad space to prostitutes. Seems a few AEs were fully aware of what sorts of businesses they were placing ads for, and even coached the ladies on what could and could not be said in the form of ad copy. ("I don't know if the phrase 'Happy Ending' is how we wanna go with this one, said your name was Candy?")

    The Orlando Weekly is just like any other metropolitan free paper that has the word "weekly" after the city name. It's full of underground music reviews, bar reviews, left-wing politics and ads for concerts, bars, gay chat lines and massage parlors. I grabbed a copy this morning at 7-11.

    Looks like the AEs are still soliciting the same clients, perhaps with revised copy now.

    Click for a better view of the ads

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    Steady as She Goes

    What was to have been a fairly short gig is now going on its 7th month as I continue to freelance in the giant corporation’s creative resources department. It’s not as awful as when I first arrived, but it took me forever to get used to the idea of wearing real clothes, like shoes, socks, belts, long pants and the other necessary business-casual attire. Also, not having the ability to hop on my bike and pedal a few miles in search of inspiration was a tough one to get used to. I also miss showering at noon, not spending money on gas, the occasional swim and the view from the home-office window, which included grass and trees and other real-life things. Attending meetings by mobile from wherever I happened to be was another luxury I never fully appreciated.

    And while that world was cool, it's a memory for now, not to return until some other projects in the works line themselves up. CubeWorld™ is better these days. Can't bitch. Shouldn't bitch. Trying not to bitch. I’ve been fortunate enough to work on some actual creative projects lately, so the copying and pasting gets a break once in a while. It helps that my fellow crewmembers are all decent people—and we're all in this boat together. (Inspirational poster, anyone?) But don't worry, if some inane and mockable Office Space moment happens (and they do frequently) I'll be mocking it here.

    And since I’m a near lifer, I finally brought in some “art” to make my drab cube more tolerable. Here’s one of my favorite “sculptures.” It’s a cardboard Shatner head to which I have affixed a pair of real aviator sunglasses. The Shat hangs on the cube wall behind me, taunting me to, "Adjust your attitude, Mister."

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    Monday, March 17, 2008

    Go Ahead and Cringe - He Wants You To

    Here's some pure, bad local TV commercial production at its baddest.

    When your company name is "Martin Fine Furniture" why do you go to such lengths to be so... unfine? But I'll bet the locals all know Marty.

    Here's Marty's "Pirate" ad. And here's Marty's "Wild West" ad.

    Somewhere in Indiana right now, Marty is leaving a supermarket and some kid is saying to his mother, "Mom! That's the Pirate guy from the commercial!"

    Marty walks to his car with a smile, feeling vindicated and victorious.

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    How About a Piping Hot Plate of Depression?

    Click image to read copy.

    Or as the original poster titled it: "Clean the House and Eat from a Can."

    The ironing's done and you're hungry and alone. Treat yourself to some "tasty, nourishing spaghetti, in a savoury, cheese-flavoured tomato sauce."

    Heinz will be your friend, you poor, lonely, miserable 1950s English homemaker.

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    Sunday, March 16, 2008

    At the Risk of Alienating...

    ...some of my readers, I'm going to go out on a limb here and defend the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Senator Barack Obama's pastor of 20 years.

    It's seriously not fashionable in this week's political climate to say anything good about Wright. He has uttered what are being roundly criticized as "inflammatory" and "divisive" comments. He has said things that are "unAmerican." Obama himself has been forced, in the interest of political expediency, to distance himself from his own pastor.

    But if we look at who is making the loudest protestations about Reverend Wright, we find the usual suspects who long ago linked their flag with their God. "God Bless America" is not a prayer in the minds of these people. It is a demand. It is their right. It is expected. "God, you will bless America, and you will do it now!" They are also, by and large, White men who know NOTHING of the Black experience in America. These are the people most inclined to wave the "support the troops" banners, yet few of them ever served in the military. These are the people, who while claiming to love the God of the Bible (the God of Israel) will tell you with complete conviction, that, "America is the greatest land God ever gave this planet."

    Do you seriously want to make that boast to the God of Israel?

    Reverend Wright said that we as a country have done terrible things. Reverend Wright said that we as a country have some explaining to do to our God. Reverend Wright said that we as a country are not nearly what we claim to be. And I agree with him 100%. I have been saying the same things for eight years, though not as blatantly, as I learned quickly that knee-jerk "patriots" will not be able to hear you if you don't speak their language.

    And have not the James Dobsons of the world been decrying the "sins" of America for decades? Didn't Jerry Fallwell call 9/11 God's judgement?

    How is Jeremiah Wright any different?

    Once again, to my Christian friends who have wrapped Jesus in the Stars and Stripes: Jesus is not an American. He sure as hell is not a Republican. And he damn well hates your nationalistic pride.

    I guarantee it.

    Lady Liberty has become a whore, and American Christianity is nothing more than cheap costume jewelry.

    A prophet has no honor in his own country.
    Gospel of John, 4:44

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    Friday, March 14, 2008

    Panther vs Dad Ends in Tie

    As a follow-up to my post-Super Bowl post that began with my Dad's encounter with the very rare Florida panther, some might be interested in a letter he wrote his sister about the sighting that got published in the Daytona Beach News Journal.

    My Dad is kind of a badass, as evidenced by this Vietnam picture, where in his young Captain days, he sought to emulate General Douglas MacArthur with his corncob pipe. He got a pair of Purple Hearts on his two tours, this picture being taken after he returned to combat following his first injury. ("Lucky to Be Back in Combat" was the quote that doubled as a headline in his hometown paper at the time.) He served twenty years, 2 of which were spent in command of a nuclear missile battalion in Germany during the Cold War, and then went on to become an American Red Cross leader in Southern California and later a self-taught programmer, professor and supergeek. He's now a Florida retiree who remains pretty much unretired.

    I think of my Dad as a "cool geek patriot" in the most respectful way. Now he is also a writer of adventure tales. Way to go, Dad.

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    Go Ahead, Waste Some More Time

  • J-Lo’s Bitch
  • Hire a copywriter. Do it for the children.
  • Top 12 unreadable minimalist watches
  • Ad blogger tries to quit blogging, readers won’t let her.
  • Toad deconstructs Stuff White People Like
  • The Spitzerface, a new emoticon from DC trendmachers Hey Be Us.
  • Did you hear the one about the Polish bank robbers?

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    Thursday, March 13, 2008

    Tart Art

    This image is titled "Hope" by camera phone artist "Jetpacks"

    "I wanted to capture the sparseness of being in a cubicle for 8 hours a day. The isolation. The cold metal drawers housing the bare essentials of scissors, stapler and the crude tools of the modern office worker. But rather than a composition of utter bleakness, I wanted a symbol within the image that stood for hope and possibility, something to convey the dreams and aspirations of so many imprisoned souls."

    Asked if he was attempting some sort of User Generated Art for Kellogg's, the artist responded, "My art is not about the sale. It's about the experience. And for this particular piece, I envisioned a tribute to the life-giving properties of the humble PopTart®. But if Kellogg's is interested in retaining me for future endeavors or perhaps wants to license this image or adopt this concept for packaging or promotion, let's start talking cash. I can imagine an entire microsite filled with photographs of PopTarts, PopTart sculptures and paintings, even videos of PopTarts, created by people from all walks of life and from every country. The PopTart is universal. It can unite us."

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    The Corporate Blog Challenge

    Click for bigger, printable, stealable version.

    Having assisted companies in setting up and administering blogs, I know it’s challenging to convince them of the need to be transparent, less stodgy and a little “uncorporate” if they want to (get ready) “maximize their presence in the social media space.” Most of the blogs I helped get established are miserable failures now because the companies either a) gave up on frequent posting or b) only wanted to be rah-rah vehicles, self-promoting and basically devoid of personality. The authors also weren’t going out to other blogs, boards and forums and making relevant comments that directed readers back to them.

    I recently visited the corporate blog of a worldwide company. It is well-designed, has many expert authors and frequent postings. (One author has over 800 posts.) They’ve employed all the appropriate tag mechanisms and social media link widgets. They incorporate plenty of text links, images and the navigation is intuitive. But nothing is happening interactively. I am hard pressed to find a single comment on the entire blog. There is no “two-way” happening. The posts read more like little articles and they appear to have been sterilized. I’m starting to wonder if the blog is merely search engine fodder, because clearly, there’s no “conversation” going on. Comments are also monitored heavily, which is generally expected of a corporate blog, but I submitted an (somewhat) innocuous comment last Friday and it has yet to appear, perhaps because it was (somewhat) humorous and not in keeping with this corporation’s communications guidelines.

    Corporate guidelines should be relaxed to a degree if you’re going to get any interaction from your company's blog. For legal reasons, you can’t have your authors going off on rants like a private blogger is free to do, but at the same time you should allow your authors (and commenters) the ability to speak with some candor.

    The corporate blog I visited has a 150 word paragraph of fine print above the comment box. It's full of legalese, with phrases like “collect, process, use,” “personally identifiable information,” “worldwide in perpetuity,” and “without notice to you and without compensation.”

    I mean, c’mon. I just want to comment. But this is one example of why corporate America is having a hard time getting a handle on “Web 2.0.” (Kill me if I ever use that term again.) In the interest of sales and marketing (and in the interest of covering their asses legally) they’ve pretty much killed the conversation.

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    Wednesday, March 12, 2008

    I Have a Dream...

    ...of an office environment where trust is a given - and juice thieves are punished.

    Was it yours? No. I brought it in this morning. Did you look over your shoulder as you snatched it from the shelf in the 'fridge? Was it weird walking away from the kitchen with it in your hand? It must've been. Were you just overcome with an uncontrollable urge to drink pineapple juice? Or was it just an uncontrollable urge to grab something that wasn’t yours? Is it simple kleptomania or are you dealing with deeper issues of trust and betrayal? Do you cheat on your taxes? Do you cheat on your significant other? Or maybe you are just so poor here in CubeWorld™ that you can’t afford your own 35¢ can of pineapple juice? If that’s the case, I’ll start bringing in an extra one for you. Just ask next time.

    What's the word for bewildered disbelief? Something like, "Faaaawk!"

    Previously in The Office Refrigerator Thief

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    Tuesday, March 11, 2008

    Pretty Much Genius

    How cool to have been in on the pitch that went, We're gonna create these off-the-wall banners ads for fictitious small businesses that have NOTHING to do with the car and we'll place them everywhere the likely Matrix buyer would visit. They’ll just be weird funny, like "Mr. Squirrel’s Pet Daycare" or "Sakura’s Animal Lingerie" or this one, which plays sportingly on the Soccer Hooligan stereotype of our Anglo cousins. They’ll be so bizarre that people will click on them and then they'll learn all about the Toyota Matrix when they’re directed to the equally off-the-wall yourotheryou website.”

    Cooler still would be hearing the client say, "Go for it. Sounds like fun."

    Unfortunately, it takes a dedicated detective with plenty of time on their hands to get to the meat of that website. Then again, when you name a car after a cult movie franchise, your demo might be really into finding clues and uncovering secrets.

    Expect imitators of crazy wtf banners soon.

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    The Evolution of Macho

    Then: Hey, guys...embarrassed by your lack of chest hair? Afraid of being seen as some sort of wimp? You need the Chest Wig. With its self-adhesive backing and thick life-like texture, the ladies will be dying to run their fingers through your furry forest.

    Now: Hey, guys...embarrassed by your chest hair? Afraid of being seen as some sort of gorilla? Remove it forever wth laser treatments. With your smooth new look, the ladies will be dying to run their fingers across your slick skin.


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    Sunday, March 09, 2008

    Game Over, Monster

    When the clock runs out and you are behind in the score, you don’t run to the referees to claim you were mounting a great last-minute drive, and were it not for that damned clock, you’d have won.

    You accept that you’ve lost. You shake the other team’s hands. You say, “Good game.” You walk off the field. You don’t cry, “Give us the game, ref.”

    You also don’t suggest that the obvious winner can now be your runner-up if they want. You don’t pretend to have won when you’ve clearly lost. That is called poor sportsmanship. In other circles, it’s called cheating. Just ask Bill Belichick.

    If the SuperDelegates hand this nomination to Clinton after a clear Obama win, expect a bunch of players to never play again. And expect Hillary to get her clock cleaned by McCain.

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    Young John Kerry Models Revived Members Only™ Jacket

    It shouldn't have happened, but another 80s style is coming back, as seen in this ad for Ralph Lauren's new "Tech Jacket." Ralph did away with the epaulettes and gave it a tapered look, but there's something eerily familiar in that nylon sheen.

    Watch an old Members Only commercial, just to start your week off with a cringe. You're welcome.

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    Saturday, March 08, 2008

    "Indie Film" Means "Sad Ending"

    At least according to Samsung and this little animated "short" called Seedling. It's part of Samsung's effort to give you "an unparalleled look inside the independent film industry."

    Wait. If it's an industry, how is it independent?

    Anyway, it's a cute little commercial. Oh, sorry. I meant "short."

    There's another one called David and Goliath here.

    With most major studios now supporting their own "independent" efforts, the term "independent film" is beginning to lose its meaning. There's an "art house" theater here in Orlando that's pretty cool, with nice couches and tables and a pretty good menu, but eating in the dark while reading subtitles isn't that easy or enjoyable. And just because a film is from France, has taboo-breaking themes or was directed by someone who won something once at Sundance, that doesn't automatically make it "art."

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    Friday, March 07, 2008

    They're Known on the Street as "Do-Si-Dos"

    Yesterday on the way home from work I hit the neighborhood Publix for some stuff. Out in front were a Girl Scout and her mother behind a folding table, selling their drugs in broad daylight. She said there were only two boxes left, the peanut butter kind. If Thin Mints are the heroin of Girl Scout Cookies, then the peanut butter ones are the crack. They call them Do-Si-Dos. She gave me her sad, pleading eyes as some handmade sign behind her declared something about “Buy Cookies and Support the Military.” Yeah, whatever.

    I said, “If those are still here when I come out, I’ll buy them,” confident that some other addict would lapse and fall for this phony “Girl Scout Cookies Support the Troops” sales gimmick.

    I left the store and she was still there. So were the cookies. I said, “Shut this thing down. I’m buying your last two boxes.” As I handed over $7, she thanked me profusely and actually said, “You’re my hero.”

    I’m sure as I left she pulled out two more boxes and repeated the ruse for the next sucker. The boxes now sit in the pantry, as yet unopened. Those things only come around once a year. Got to hold on to them.

    Previously in Evil Lying Drug Dealer Girl Scouts

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    I Bought a Truck for a Dollar

    Coming to an Open Mic Night or a file sharing site near you someday. From the forthcoming album, Geometry.

    True story. I bought a truck for a dollar. No really. Big ol’ truck from Jim Harriger up at Victory Mission. Big black Dodge. '72. Strong looking beast with good tires and a V8 at some garage you’ve never seen up on the north and west sides of town, I think on Atlantic Street. Rusted out and dirty as could be, but when you need wheels, you don’t care. Yeah, I bought a truck for a dollar.

    Yeah, I bought a truck for a dollar. It stalled about fifteen times in the four-mile drive as I stopped traffic at 5-o’clock rush hour. True story. My buddy was following, pretending he didn’t know me as I pulled into Casey’s for a break. Catch my breath, get a Pepsi. I got it the last quarter mile with only three more stalls and admired it in my drive. Yeah – I bought a truck for a dollar.

    I bought a truck for a dollar and my neighbor Gary who’s an ace mechanic said he’d have a look in trade for an old dead mower. Gary likes engines and rebuilds old cars and he’d know what to do. He had the hood off as he crawled up inside with his big ol’ country self, gapping points and cleaning stuff. Found a sticking float and some bad freeze plugs and a tranny about to go. I bought a truck for a dollar.

    While Gary tinkered and did his best the better part of a day I cleaned out the bed, full of mulch from years ago. It was an old farm truck from Ohio and the bed was rusted through. I cleaned out the cab and found pencils and pens and pennies and nickels and a treasure in the glovebox. True story. Three 8-track tapes from long ago. Willie Nelson, Elvis, and Olivia Newton John. I bought a truck for a dollar.

    It was no good going, Gary announced, as he apologized and packed up his tools and hauled off the old mower for trade. Like a cat playing with a half-dead squirrel he sat under a tree and had that thing going by sunset. He gave me the names of some salvage yard buddies who might give eighty bucks. An old V8, decent tires and a windshield still intact. I bought a truck for a dollar.

    The salvage yard guy came out the next morning about 7 in a huge flatbed. Had his daughter in the cab, on their way to school. “You mean all you have is that letter from Victory Mission saying you can have this truck? No title? Well, that’s only worth twenty bucks to me.” “But I put a battery in it for twenty four bucks!” I protested, and he said, “Battery goes with it.”

    So, I bought a truck for a dollar and after I sold it I lost money on the deal. True story. He hauled it away on his big flatbed as I stood in my mulch covered drive. My one-dollar-wheels, too good to be true. I guess I’m not a very good businessman. But what the salvage yard man didn’t know was I got one up on him. The 8-tracks tapes stayed with me. Willie, Elvis, and Olivia. Who wins now? Yeah. I bought a truck for a dollar.

    © 2008 Radio Free Babylon™

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    Thursday, March 06, 2008

    Someone Better Alert the Disney Attorneys

    North of the Gold and Ivory Coasts of Africa is The Gambia, (or simply: Gambia) a small country consisting mainly of The Gambia River.

    Gambia also has an amusement park called Dream Park, where a couple of costumed hosts (a lanky Santa Claus and a very familiar mouse) welcome you to enjoy the thrilling rides and fun-filled activities.

    Oh, YouTube, What did we do before you came along?

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    Locals Only - Palm Tree Clip Art

    Part X in a Series on very local advertising

    The weekly neighborhood flyer (or is that flier?) that lands on the driveway. One week it's yellow, the next green, sometimes pink. Always bagged against the weather, and usually only leafed through when I need a plumber or something to blog about.

    Just as businesses in Florida love to call themselves "Gator," they also like to use palm trees in their "logos."

    If I ever need a landscaper, I will know to look for the palm tree clip art. In this week's issue, no less than six variations of palm tree are used in landscaper ads, and one for a spa.

    Previously in Locals Only

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    Tuesday, March 04, 2008

    Attitude is Altitude!

    We had a team meeting this morning complete with an awesome and comprehensive PowerPoint™ presentation wherein we learned about upcoming goals, past accomplishments and areas that we intend to improve upon in the coming months. It was exciting. There was excellent coffee, tasty breakfast foods and a spirit of camaraderie that was just electric. The positive feelings were contagious. (Plus cool giveaways!)

    I am looking forward to doing my part to help the team along as we strive together to improve processes and innovate change. Communication is key, and together we can achieve great things. Remember, there is no “I” in "TEAM."

    DISCLAIMER: I recently discovered that a couple of coworkers here in CubeWorld™ found this blog a long time ago and have been reading my scathing (and entirely facetious!) rants for months.

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    Whatcha Gonna Dew?

    When you're flirting with making advertising a career, you dream of creating commercials for big names like Coke and Apple. You imagine award-winning two-page spreads for Nike or Levi's. Later, you find yourself writing heavily optimized web copy for health insurance companies and producing commercials for personal injury attorneys in which the attorneys insist on starring. And one of them really wants to deliver the line, "Hablamos Español," in the whitest accent ever heard.

    I'm glad someone is having some fun with the new Diet Mountain Dew commercials, in which little known facts are presented in funny ways.

    Another good one, "Lightning" is here.

    What can you say about carbonated beverages that hasn't been said? The only angle left is humor in a WTF way. At best, you create thirst in the viewer (which is what Coke always does for me) and at least you make the humor memorable enough that the viewer recalls your brand when he's staring at the cooler in the convenience store. I'm probably never going to drink a diet Mountain Dew, but I remembered the brand behind the commercial that made me laugh, which is more than you can say for most commercials.

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    Monday, March 03, 2008

    It's 3 AM, and Hope is For Fools

    Spin to Win. What Senator Clinton is really saying in that 3AM ad, with the ominous voiceover, spooky music and Ms. Clinton appearing at perfect calm with this troubled world in the end, wearing her new Tina Fey smarty glasses.

    I've had enough of the spin, so I put my own audio on Hillary's now famous/infamous ad.

    DISCLAIMER: I'm not an Obamaton. I'm just an observer at this point.

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    Sunday, March 02, 2008

    Bahamas Changes Name

    (NASSAU) The government of The Bahamas today announced the official name change of the country to The Commonwealth of the Obamas. The change will take place immediately and will be reflected in all official government operations, to include embassy locations worldwide.

    Working closely with the Bahamian Tourism Board, government officials acted quickly to make the change after viewing the new Obama video.

    "We voted on this in a hastily called assembly of Parliament," said Prime Minister Hubert A. Ingraham, "and the decision was unanimous."

    "It is clear to us that Obama is some special kind of politician, maybe even God made flesh," said a tourism official, "and we are only the first country or region to pay homage to him with a name change."

    Reports indicate that the state of Oklahoma is considering a resolution to rename their state Oklabama and that Alabama is entertaining a name change to Olabama.

    Obama campaign officials, while pleased, are downplaying the Messianic undertones.

    "Barack only walks on water and heals the sick," said David Axelrod, chief strategist for Obama, "He has never raised the dead or turned water into wine. Yet."

    Axelrod quickly pointed out that 25 states have a city or town named Clinton and that there are many counties in the United States with the name Clinton.

    "That is clearly an unfair advantage that I think the Clinton campaign needs to address," said Axelrod, "We see no problem with a sovereign nation exercising its freewill to rename their country to reflect the momentum of our candidate."

    Particularly hurtful to the Clintons is the fact that they have taken many vacations to the islands. Pressed for comment, a visibly shaken and red-faced former President Bill Clinton scolded, "Shame on you! Shame on you, Bahamas."

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    Saturday, March 01, 2008

    Wait Your Turn, Ugly

    Nature teaches us that the pretty go first. Here, a beautiful, graceful hawk enjoys a roadkill squirrel under a tree on my street while the hideous, disgusting buzzard hopes for leftovers.

    Some people say squirrels are cute. Agreed. They're so precious when they're being eaten by hawks.

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