Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Clash of The Critics

No matter what movie you decide to see, some critics will love it and some will hate it. I saw Clash of the Titans a couple days ago at the supercheap theatre, you know the one, where films not yet on DVD but not in real theatres anymore are playing, where it only costs a dollar to get in and the refreshments aren't outrageously priced and the place is not so clean and maybe some of the theatres are having trouble with their air-conditioning and so maybe there's an ugly scratch in the film that persists throughout the whole duration, but hey, you paid a buck for a movie so what are you complaining about?

I generally rely on Rotten Tomatoes to give a good and widespread assessment of a movie before I go see it or rent it On Demand. I didn't this time. And I'm glad, 'cause at a 33% favorable rating, I might've missed some mindless summer afternoon fun. Definitely not Oscar-caliber, but what do you expect from a movie based on a movie from 1981?

Here's that snob Peter Travers from Rolling Stone:

"The film is a sham, with good actors going for the paycheck and using beards and heavy makeup to hide their shame."

But then here's Colin Covert of the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
"At the moment when Sam Worthington, trapped inside a giant scorpion, sword-hacked his way through the dorsal carapace and poked the upper half of his body through the opening as if it were a sunroof, I fell in love with Clash of the Titans."

Have you ever read a terrible review of your favorite band's new album and wanted to punch the critic in the face? Or saw a nasty write-up of one of your favorite restaurants by some nose-in-the-air food critic? The critics aren't right, they're just being critics. But sadly, they can doom a play, new CD, movie or dining establishment with a hastily slammed-out screed.  

It's fun to ignore the critics one in a while and just go have fun.

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Swan Dive! (Into the Best Night of Your Life)

Bill says, "I’m not sure if the formula where you plug different scenarios in is going to get old too fast." Well, it might, but not yet, as this brilliant production proves.

What I love about how Old Spice is treating the tired old "Guys get laid when they wear this" formula is that they're doing it completely and unashamedly tongue-in-cheek, without showing a guy involved in a random threesome, a la Axe Body Wash. Just a smug and super-confident lady's man who could easily be an SNL character.

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Monorails and Sky Trams

(El clicko, por favor.)

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Father, Forgive Them...

...for they know only what they hear on right wing radio.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Forget Your Troubles, Friend! Dance-Band Fame is Yours!

It's the Great Depression and Japan has yet to bomb Pearl Harbor, sending millions to work, and every magazine is filled with ads selling items or ideas that will help John and Alice Dustbowl make some much-needed cash. You can be a tattoo artist, or learn how to make big money in the promising field of cartooning. You can buy a saw-sharpener and go around sharpening people's saws. Learn to stuff birds. Be a baker. Be a diesel mechanic or get into Air Conditioning, "America's next big industry!" Others are just as vague as can be, and only promise happiness, riches, fame and the ability to get whatever you want if you will only send a dime for the book. The modern counterpart to these ads in our tough economy would be, "Learn to be a Social Media Guru in Your Spare Time!"

I liked this guy. He sells marimbas. Now that's a sure route to happy-land.

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How To Fail at New Media - A Case Study in Dinosaur Journalism

UPDATE: The idiots FINALLY just put it up.

Rolling Stone is at this very minute failing in a grand and sad way. While the whole world is talking about the article that could blow the Afghanistan War for Obama, Rolling Stone is too busy applying pressure to Politico to take the article down instead of bothering to put it up on their own website. I suppose Jan Wenner, with his ancient ideas of selling copies of a magazine, thinks he can drag us all back with him to the Stone Age. (Pun not intended, but left there because I'm cheesy that way.) The meat of the article isn't so much that General McChrystal is a renegade, that part is actually entertaining, but that he and his aides expose the fallacy of the counterinsurgency strategy.

Meanwhile, until they make him take it down as well, Mark Halperin of Time magazine has the article right here.

Way to screw it up, RS. You missed out on huge traffic numbers today and Time got them off of YOUR article.

By the time your stupid magazine hits the "newsstands" (how quaint) we all will have read the article somewhere else. Pure and utter fail.

Rolling Stone's political blog has been dormant for a month. UPDATE Their Twitter account failed to mention it until just 11 minutes ago. They say, get this: "Read the full Gen. McChrystal article that everyone is discussing now:" In today's journalism, when you waste an entire morning, you've lost.

And here is an up-to-the-minute screenshot of the RS homepage. Lady f-ing Gaga. 

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Men, Beware Those New York Girls

A panel from a 1937 ad for Baker's Chocolate in LIFE magazine.

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Card for the Dads

I know there are a few fathers in the readership, so this one's for you.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

220, 221 - Whatever It Takes

Seen on the road this morning, this guy's vanity plate says "Mr. Mom." And although his grammar needs a little work, he is also an unabashed patriot. (And that flag reminded me of the Schooner Tuna campaign.)

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Cue Angelic Choir

Northrup Grumman has released this image of their new airship they call a Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle, being built for the U.S. Army. It's a football field in size and will be built and deployed within 18 months. Northrup has a contract to build "up to 3" of these for $517 million. It will fly at 20,000 feet and enable troops on the ground to pretty much see everything. A very wordy press release full of business speak/military jargon is here.

Given that they went with such a ridiculous artist's rendering, conveying glory, dominion, power and majesty, both now and forever, Amen, I've helped them turn this into an ad.(Click image for the huge.)

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Everyone's a Creative

During a recent and sudden storm that blew through the neighborhood in a matter of minutes, a trash can was blown over on the side of the house. It fell in just the perfect way that it sheared off an outdoor spigot at the wall, so water was gushing all over the place. I shut off the main and went about searching for a plumber. Now sure, I probably could've fixed this myself. Eventually. I'm not above a little home repair and enjoy learning new things, but when you don't have water and you can't flush toilets or take a shower and it's 95 degrees outside, time is sort of against you if you're going to make a few runs to Home Depot in between checking forums and boards on how to fix this thing you've never tried to fix before. My trusty iPhone was fairly useless in finding a plumber but I'd long ago trashed all my Yellow Pages, certain they were bulky relics of another era, like encyclopedias. iPhone's first recommendation was very near to me, but they were new construction plumbers exclusively and wondered how I'd even found them. They recommended someone else. I called that recommendation who long ago got out of the plumbing business but recommended someone else. Turned out third time's the charm and they could fix this thing. "So the hose bib broke off?" asked the dispatcher. Uncertain of what a "hose bib" was, I pretended to know and said, "Yes."

Soon after, a large man with flowing white hair and a huge, matching beard appeared in a white van. Sort of a Santa Claus plumber, and I'm sure he gets some part-time gigs around the Holidays. He was the rare type of contractor who doesn't mind the homeowner looking over his shoulder as he explains what he does. Usually that will piss a guy off, but Santa was in a jolly mood. He said he could fix this thing with ease and he rummaged through his van for a long time. It wasn't long before I was starting to think, "This dick is trying to milk this job, taking way longer than he needs to for a simple 'hose bib.'"

He eventually explained, "I could've put a simple hose bib on there down where it broke off, but then you'd be thinking, 'That guy charged me for an hour and he hardly did anything.'" He went about connecting pieces and adding fittings, clamping this and cutting that as he continued, "See, if I just did the minimum, then you don't even get to see my talent." He said that word with pride. "Might as well give you your full hour's worth." He fashioned a nice little bunch of right angles that went up the wall above where the old spigot sat and locked it all down with anchors and brass, assuring me no silly, errant trash can would ever fuck with this bad-ass spigot again. As he was leaving, he said he does it that way so that when it comes time to replumb this old house (and that time is coming) I might think of the guy who took the time to do the job right rather than just what was needed to get it done. He can rest assured that I will. They call that Customer Service. It's a dying art.

It made me think of all the out-of-work creatives looking for work in a steadily dying industry. Or the struggling agency or consultancy wondering where the new business is. Maybe when we eventually take work outside of our chosen profession, we will still approach things with creativity, not resentment, finding the joy, and dare I say it, "art," in something as simple as stacking the clean dishes or sweeping a floor, finding the satisfaction in doing a job right. You don't have to make pretty, eye-catching designs or write compelling, witty copy to be considered "creative." And come to think of it, no one is going to edit this plumber's work. There will be no re-dos.

Guy's name was John. He was a creative.

Previously in Everyone's a Creative:

Production By Committee

Tree Trimmer Artists

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My, Cheap Lots of Costa Rica, What an Incredible Translation Service You Have!

The better to comment-spam your blog with!

"Hello I want to congratulate to them by its site of the Web of the excellent looks like entertained and very good very to me it elaborated. I invite them to that they explore a little on my Web site."

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Wing Away, Free as a Skylark, And as Gay

(Click to read the copy.) Seems there was a time (1931) when you could sell a man on the free-wheeling nature of motorcycle riding by appealing to his wish to imitate the skylarks, and join the good, gay fellows who spend their play hours on Harley-Davidsons.

Thanks to Jumpin' Jimbo Cox for the tip.

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The Copywriter's Song

It could be a rap, I suppose. Feel free. As for now, it's just words. Posted this before, so if you've seen it, please be patient and allow the new kids time to catch up.

Sell to win – there is no sin
Grab ‘em by the heart – that’s the start
Grab ‘em by the ears - prey on their fears
Get into their soul - get a hold

You’re fat, you’re ugly, you’re nowhere near sexy
You’re old, you’re dying, you’re sick inside
You’re a loser, you’re bald, you’re lacking something real
and you’re just plain stupid if you turn down this deal

Hear that cha-ching? – the register rings
Quota was made – we play in the shade
Palms are greased – space is leased
The clients sing – sales is the thing

You’re dumb, you’re lacking, your husband doesn’t love you
You’re slow, you’re dated, you’re a sad excuse
You’re worthless, uncool, can’t you recognize what’s real?
We thought you were smarter when we offered this deal

Fine print is small – don’t read it all
It says what it must – as if you can’t trust
Would I lie to you? Would I tell you untrue?
If I can get in – give it just the right spin
I sell apples to Eve – and make her believe

that she’s a failure, a victim, she needs her eyes opened
Her man’s a pansy, substandard, and lacking in size
She’s wrinkled, small-breasted, bad lover, mother, wife
until she buys this thing to revolutionize her life

You’re a mark, a pigeon, a sucker, easy target
You’re insecure, unsure and afraid of the truth
You’re a dummy, firm believer, an always-open wallet
You’d sell your body, your soul, or whatever you call it

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Google's Cutesy Logo Whimsy Extended to Subsidiaries

But they are apparently putting the junior designers on the project. Or the interns. Or some child. But art and design being entirely subjective, I fully expect someone to come along and say "I love it!" That's fine. I'll "agree to disagree" as long as you agree that your opinion is stupid.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

No Longer a Secret: My Trail Mix Recipe

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GM, Goodby Pulling Stupid Stunt

In today's New York Times, an internal Chevrolet memo is reported on, and I'm calling "Bullshit." According to two idiots in GM's upper management,

"We’d ask that whether you’re talking to a dealer, reviewing dealer advertising or speaking with friends and family, that you communicate our brand as Chevrolet moving forward."

They also say,

"When you look at the most recognized brands throughout the world, such as Coke or Apple for instance, one of the things they all focus on is the consistency of their branding. Why is this consistency so important? The more consistent a brand becomes, the more prominent and recognizable it is with the consumer. This is a big opportunity for us moving forward."

As if Coke isn't also called Coca-Cola. And yes, they said, "Moving forward" twice. The article then quotes one Klaus-Peter Martin, a GM spokesman, who confirmed the memo, saying, "We’re going to use Chevrolet instead of Chevy going forward in our communications." Martin said the move is linked to Chevy's switch to new agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.

Going forward. Moving forward. Branding. Consistency in branding. Bullshit. As if Chevy isn't just as well known a name (if not more so) as Chevrolet. If this is Goodby's doing, I'm disappointed. An agency known for good work shouldn't pull stupid stunts like this. This has the stench of set-up. I suspect a turnaround in a few months. A calculated and transparent "change of heart" where the big wigs at Chevy will announce something to the effect of,

"The American people have spoken. They love the nickname "Chevy." We miscalculated in our efforts to be consistent in our branding. We can no more change America's mind about America's favorite car than we could ask them not to salute the flag, eat apple pie and play baseball. Going forward, you can call Chevrolet "Chevy" all you want, and you can keep calling it America's favorite car."

If I'm wrong and this isn't just a stupid stunt, then it's just plain stupid. A brand should be lucky to have an affectionate nickname. McDonald's embraces "Mickey D's" and up until now, Chevrolet has always embraced "Chevy."

And not surprisingly, a few pages after the article is a full-page ad from Chevy announcing that its Equinox model has won some award from Consumer's Digest. And where do they tell us we can go to learn more?

(Go on. Click it. I worked hard mutilating this old Chevy ad)

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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

A Note to My Facebook Friends

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It's The Wrong Tone

Before I was workforce reduced from my last gig at an under-the-radar marketing firm here in O-town, I wrote the agency some new web copy. (The client runs the show, and he was an incompetent tool, and he apparently didn't appreciate me thinking so out loud. Plus he made it clear he wanted his writer on-site in Miami, which meant sitting at his feet for 10 hours a day taking notes as he uttered profundities from his spittle-spattered, fat mouth.) Anyway, the copy the owner had on the site began: "Welcome! Let's face it, the difference between a good company and a great one is the quality of the people." Other gems included: "We approach everything we do with strong determination, intense passion and continual focus on meeting the objectives of our clients." Golden, I'm sure you'll agree. It's what everyone says and it's why I hate most small to medium agency sites. (For more on this, see here.)

That new copy has still not appeared, along with the new design someone spent a long time on. The agency is apparently having problems with their web design firm in Rochester. Yes, a small Orlando marketing firm went to Rochester to get a website. This was after an extensive, nationwide search that included a trip to New York City. You know how it is, the small shop owner wants to play big-shot, so they "tour the facility" of a potential vendor, make them feed them lunch and then get in a round of golf. Nevermind that sitting in the office of the agency were at least four people with the skills to build the small site required.

Two months ago I heard that the new site is "Going live this week!" It still hasn't. And this agency, like way too many others, faces the potential client with silly cliches and sound-alike copy that they think sets them apart from everyone else.

And honestly, the only reason I even wrote this was so that I could embed this clip from the Academy Award Winning film* Joe Dirt.

* No, it really didn't, but it should've SWEPT!

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Ass Kicker in Chief

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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Have You Eaten of the Tree, Whereof I Commanded You That You Should Not Eat?

If you can keep up with Apple, good for you. I sure can't. Can't afford to. But they are masters at force-feeding their devotees the next big thing. Nevermind that those of us who use it have discovered its many flaws, not the least of which is the partnership with AT&T. Doesn't matter though. It's sleek. It does cool things. It just feels so good in your hand. What will you pay for that feeling? Plenty. And you don't want to be left behind, do you? Like a junkie, you will get one. Can't get enough. And in a year, you will get the next one.

Below is a new email marketing effort from Apple. It's smug and arrogant, like Apple, and basically laughs in your face. The "This changes everything" line is so overused in tech advertising. So is "Again." as a standalone sentence. My take on it after that.

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Monday, June 07, 2010

The Spin!

Volume something, number something, I'm too lazy to look it up right now. (Click for big.)

Crossposted to Radio Free Babylon

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Friday, June 04, 2010

They Say My Music's Too Loud

The times, they call for it. A little Friday fun from RFB.

Previously in Jetpacks' Odd Pairings on YouTube:
Whole Lotta Rhythm Goin' Round
Sweet Soul Alabama

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Save Us Some Time and Tell The Truth

Truth in advertising would be so cool, even at the lowest levels. I was inspired to create this after stopping at a yard sale this morning.

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That's Right, - "And Associates." The Return of Ken Fox!

See more Ken Fox wisdom.

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Thursday, June 03, 2010

Cold Call Carl is Back

He's reached the end of his contact list and started over from the top.

(Click for big.)

More Cold Call Carl here.

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How Not To Do Social Media

One of the most visited posts on this blog over the years has been the Land O' Lakes Butter box trick. It is also the most spammed post on this blog. Usually I delete them as soon as they come in, but I'll leave the most current one up, just as a lesson on how you shouldn't promote your business on blogs. Never mind the bad grammar, as I don't speak Spanish and am not one to make fun of anyone who can speak more than one language. But the form is the same in all of them, "Love your blog. Please keep it up. Now visit my site that has zero to do with anything being discussed here." Here is the current comment, verbatim:

Sure, it was probably automated. (Wait, it can't be since I have the word verification feature turned on. So someone is actually pasting this comment in along with their linked name and typing in the captcha.) So what has the site owner lost in terms of time or resources? Probably very little. But is a link buried in a mildly trafficked blog post comment thread really that valuable when you risk looking like a shameless spammer?

Parkrrr points out in the comments that it's all about Page Rank, which is all about links, and one time a long time ago BoingBoing linked to me, giving that post some rank. So it's a piggyback link game! Well, screw you, Costa Rican Land Pimps. Your comment goes away now.

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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Necessity is the Mother of Repair

Or "Google is Your Friend"

One of the household Dell monitors crapped out. Four months ago, when I was employed, this would've been solved by buying another monitor while cursing the shoddy workmanship of the Chinese who toil night and day at pathetic jobs that pay shit to give us the cheap, disposable stuff we demand. But as a man slowly learning the value of thrift, a Google search revealed that you could find bad, bulging capacitors on the power supply board. So I tore it apart and sho nuff, there the little bad bulging bastards were.

Regardless of what you're trying to do in your life, be it diagnose your own ailment, hang a ceiling fan or fix a power supply board on a cheap monitor, the forums are trolled by people slowly finding themselves out of work. They resent that you are trying to do their jobs and they hate thinking of themselves going the way of travel agents, encyclopedia salesmen, graphic artists and copywriters. The doctors get on the medical forums and say, "See a doctor! You probably have a horrible disease!" The electricians get on the "how to" forums and say, "Hire a licensed electrician or you will probably burn your house down!" and the computer techs get on the computer forums and say, "Stand in a puddle of water, plug the thing in and then stab it with something metallic and non-insulated! DIE, you stupid know-nothing fucks! And I hope all your porn gets deleted in the process!"

Despite the dire warnings from the computer techs, I set about saving some money.

So I tried to remember how to de-solder something and got those ugly-ass capacitors out and took them to Radio Shack, where the worthless clerk said, "Nope. I suppose I should have those since everyone seems to want them." I guess crapping-out Dell flatscreen monitors are all the rage. So I went to a crazy place in Winter Park, where a flying saucer and a pair of rockets have been landmarks for years. They have everything a mad scientist or a terrorist could want, including a wall of capacitors, none of which were of the rating I needed. So back to Google, who said, "There's an area of Orange Blossom Trail where it starts to go from ugly-industrial to totally sketch. In that creepy region is a place that goes by the name of Acme." Acme is staffed by a grey, long-haired guy who looks like he might be in a cover band at a beach bar on the weekends and a super-tall lanky dude who looks like he might be a refugee from the German techno scene. These gentlemen had the capacitors, for like 28 cents a piece. I only needed two, but I splurged and got four.

Then I tired to remember how to solder something and got those cheap bastards secure in their holes. Then I buttoned the thing back up and was quite pleased to only have two leftover screws when I was done. (Someone needs to tell those Chinese women and children making our monitors that they can save a couple steps.)

Then the test; that all-too-scary moment when you will be revealed for a fool or a hero. I was a hero. Actually, all credit goes to Google and the people who, for whatever reason, offer help at no charge, dispensing their little piece of knowledge on obscure sites so that someone else can save a few bucks. And apologies to the computer techs who didn't get my repair business. And to Best Buy or Target who didn't get to sell me a new monitor. We're all doing what we can in this economy. See you on the soup line.

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Will Repair Small but Critical Shuttle Component for Food

Locally, thousands more will be unemployed very shortly. (I hear Disney's hiring part-time "cast members.") The US Labor Secretary will be down this morning to announce some federal money to help those about to be out of work.

Elaborated on more at Radio Free Babylon.

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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Ripples of a Coming Storm

Backyard, Wekiva Springs, Florida, USA. 06/01/10, 8:15 PM.  (Click for the larger.)

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