Tuesday, January 31, 2006

LOVE JITTERS

LOVE JITTERS

I was asked in a recent job interview to name a great brand. For you non-marketing types, a "brand" isn't just the name of the yogurt you buy, but all of the feelings and experiences that go with it. It's a gestalt thing.

One of the brands I named was -- and sitting in Seattle, it's a double-edged sword to name a home brand -- is Starbucks. With Starbucks, you know what you're getting. You have a level of expectation about the quality of the coffee you order, but you also have an expectation of the ambiance of the venue itself. And the Starbucks experience includes more than coffee, or even snacks; there's music, there's games and gifts, and there's the 15-minute vacation that each of the three Starbucks per block gives you.

Today, in receiving my latest polite thanks-but-no-thanks email from Starbucks about a job opening to which I'd applied, I stumbled across the latest marketing brilliance from what's probably the pre-eminent brand of the early third millennium: Espresso dating. Not only do people go to Starbucks to hang out, meet friends, do a little writing or reading, or meet for business, but now you can sign up to be part of its dating service. Blind dates over espresso macchiato... is that brilliant or what? It builds the sense of Starbucks as a community center, it encourages extra visits... and it sells more coffee at the impressive Starbucks markup.

So lift your venti mocha to the marketing brilliance at Starbucks. And, if you're single... there's nothing better than getting strung out on caffeine while meeting that person who could be The One. At least you'll have coffee in common.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I REALLY SHOULD POST SOMETHING ORIGINAL HERE...

I REALLY SHOULD POST SOMETHING ORIGINAL HERE...

Since I'm not posting original stuff, at least I keep adding to the long line of links at the left (take that, all you who hate alliteration!). Today's comes from my visit to the ever-cool Superfrankenstein, where he linked to this site, which takes Elton John's once-tolerable Candle in the Wind and rewrites it for, not just Lady Diana Spencer (damn you paparazzi and/or Dodi Fayed and/or Prince Charles), but for everyone for whom Elton John couldn't be bothered to write new versions. Today's post is for Chris Penn, who, as Kev (no last name published) notes, didn't even get top billing in his own obituary.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

MORE ON THE LEFT!

MORE ON THE LEFT!

Today's addition is a little bit of flight emergency, via my cousin Ken Kiernan, who though no longer piloting himself through the skies, still handles international operations for FedEx.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

MORE ON THE LEFT

MORE ON THE LEFT

You know you should Google yourself before job-hunting, right? So I was doing a little bit of due diligence, and discovered that on somebody's Legion history website, you can see my fan-famous letter in glorious web-ness!

*sigh*

WHO'S THE BIGGEST ONE?

WHO'S THE BIGGEST ONE?

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Superfrankenstein's Tom Peyer was championing his... um... "Anal Pore of the Year" contest. (Except he uses a ruder phrase than "anal pore," but then softens it his own way by referring to the whole thing as A.H.O.Y.)

Anyway, if you'd like to see how the voting's been going, he's been counting down. Lots of big names remain, though among those who have NOT made the Top 10 are Condoleezza Rice, Judith Miller, Bob Novak, and Ray Nagin. Who could possibly be worse? Keep watching!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

AND FOR OUR NEXT OMG MOMENT...

AND FOR OUR NEXT OMG MOMENT...

Sometimes one is tempted to make the meaningless statement, "The Internet is an amazing place." Except that the Internet isn't a place at all, and the only difference between the Internet and the world at large is that it doesn't include most of the poor, stupid people.

Which is why when you start to get distracted and find amazing stuff that people have actually gone out of their way to put on the Internet... especially well-designed stuff that people earn money for... then you're just sitting there and wondering if Pat Robertson isn't right.

Today I got an email from mediabistro.com with some links to interesting news stories. One was about Jeremie Ruby-Strauss, an editor at Kensington Books who is publishing books aimed at the Sub 30 Chromosome Y category (apologies if the link doesn't work; I'm registered there, and it's paid). So from there I went and visited www.tuckermax.com, since Tucker Max was one of the writers whose work Ruby-Strauss has acquired. Let me tell you, if Hemingway in Paris was typical of his generation of creators, and if Kerouac and his beatsters were typical of theirs, then, if Tucker Max is typical of his, then let al Qaeda come and do away with all of the US. Not everything can be about drinking too much and having strange sex. (Right?)

But, then, I read National Lampoon when I was in high school and college, and I still remember the cover of the woman catcher with her breasts on her back to match her reversed baseball cap, and I thought that was funny, so this may be exactly what 21-year-olds are like no matter what.

But then there was the ad on the right side of the page of the Tucker Max website. I had already heard of (and, prurient curiosity aroused, visited) hotornot.com, where ordinary folks with low self-esteem post their photo for validation. But on Tucker Max's site... where you're already reading about throwing up pantsless in sushi bars... you'll find likemynudephoto.com. And, if that isn't bad enough, enter "rate me" into any search engine, and you'll find numerous websites all devoted to rating people, with their permission or not, in various states of undress and occasionally more.

Amazing.

OMG.

PERFECT BALLOT: ROBERTSON/NAGIN

PERFECT BALLOT: ROBERTSON/NAGIN

Wow, just when you thought things couldn't get whackier, here comes New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin saying that God smote New Orleans. Nagin joins Republican preacher Pat Robertson in the nut job club; Robertson earlier had said that gay pride parades would bring hurricanes to Florida and that Hurricane Katrina had targeted New Orleans because Ellen DeGeneres was the host of the Emmy Awards show. Robertson has also blamed natural disasters as God's revenge for abortion.

So we're back to the Old Testament Yahweh. God is tired of Time cover stories asking if He is dead, or Kurt Vonnegut's interesting take on God as semi-retired (Vonnegut invents the "Church of God the Utterly Indifferent" in Sirens of Titan), and has taken matters back into His own hands.

I'm not convinced. Why would an omnipotent Creator choose to kill His own handiwork willy nilly? Are we being pruned, like a gardener would prune an arbor vitae? Take a little off Pakistan, a little off New Orleans, a little off Banda Aceh? Is God an abusive parent, like the drunk father who whales on his kids every Friday night after about eight good pops at the local bar? Is God the kind of parent who holds His son's hands in the flames of the stove because the boy was caught smoking? What then of all those tornadoes that flatten good Christian towns in the Bible Belt? If God isn't responsible for them, is someone else? Is it Satan? Ellen DeGeneres?

Whatever God is -- and there's no way the human mind can fathom an Almighty, no matter what the various religious texts on the planet might say -- it strikes me that He would take to smiting cities only if He were as imperfect as his creation. And while it is believed we are made in God's image, I really hate to think that our flaws are also God-like. I'd like to think that if God found my wallet, He'd return it without taking out the cash first.

So here's the deal. I'm going to go back to doing the best job I can not to kill, maim, or hurt anybody; to help folks who need it when I can; and to do what I can to make the world a better place. I wish Ray Nagin and Pat Robertson would make that their mission, too.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

OOPS, I'M AT IT AGAIN!

OOPS, I'M AT IT AGAIN!

Okay, fine, here are the other links I've added today:

The William Shatner DVD Club, thanks to Matt Agee's 1.21 Gigawatts.

The essential McSweeney's analysis of the Batman theme, thanks to Tom Peyer's Superfrankenstein.

DO YOU EVER JUST LOOK AT THE SIDE, THERE?

DO YOU EVER JUST LOOK AT THE SIDE, THERE?

One of the things I like to do with this blog is keep track of stuff. For instance, I've got links at the left to blogs or web pages of friends and business acquaintances. I've got links to dopey computer games. Silly websites. Useful websites. Interesting stuff and arcana I've encountered while skittering across the digital ocean.

I realized today that I should make a note when I add or change something, in case you aren't looking at something over there (to the left; see?) whenever you pop in to see me.

So, here's what I just did: I was following a blog trail and encountered a blog called Gaping Void. The writer has crafted some rules for being creative. If you think that applies to you, you'll enjoy it. He also doodles some interesting stuff on the back of business cards, which you also might like.

How To Be Creative.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

FOUR!

FOUR!

Over at his well-written Pop Culture Gadabout, Bill Sherman recently took time out to perpetuate a series of questions based on getting four answers. It's the new year, and that sort of can make this an exercise in self-examination, too. So, why not... and go give it a shot yourself (and feel free to comment here when you do):

Four jobs you've had in your life: Hanger-sorter; purchasing agent's assistant; bowling alley worker; copywriter.

Four movies you could watch over and over: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension; Casablanca; Dr. Strangelove; Apollo 13.

Four places you've lived: New York City (Manhattan, The Bronx, and Brooklyn); Baldwin, Long Island (NY); Washington, DC; Seattle, WA.

Four TV shows you love to watch: On air now: Cash Cab (Discovery); Arrested Development (Fox); My Name Is Earl (NBC); Mythbusters (Discovery). All-time: The Simpsons (Fox); M*A*S*H (CBS); Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (NBC); Misfits of Science (NBC).

Four places you’ve been on vacation: Florida (all over); Hawaii (love the Big Island!); Japan; San Francisco.

Four websites you visit daily: Superfrankenstein; Notes From A Final Frontiersman; The Blue Chair; eilisflynn's Journal.

Four of your favorite foods: Starbucks Mud Pie Ice Cream; real pizza from a real pizzeria in New York; real pastrami from a real deli in New York; a good Cobb salad.

Four places you'd rather be: The Big Island. New York. Washington. Here.

Four albums you can't live without: Abbey Road (The Beatles); Who's Next (The Who); Look Sharp! (Joe Jackson); Excitable Boy (Warren Zevon).

And, I'm going to add one...

Four people you wish were president instead of the current one: Bill Bradley; Mario Cuomo; John McCain; Barack Obama.

YOUR VOTE COUNTS, BUT NOBODY OFFICIAL WILL PAY ANY ATTENTION

YOUR VOTE COUNTS, BUT NOBODY OFFICIAL WILL PAY ANY ATTENTION

Our friend Tom Peyer over at Superfrankenstein has been hectoring me (and everybody else on the web) to vote in the "Anal Spinchter" of the Year contest (go here to vote). It's something a friend of his has been running since 1974.

I myself found the choices overwhelming, and had to squeeze my value system really hard to come down to my final choices.

They are:

Osama bin Laden.
Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi.
Kim Jong Il.
Dick Cheney.
Jerry Falwell.
Bill O’Reilly.
Ann Coulter.
Ahmed Chalabi.
Robert Blake.
Michael Jackson.

The last two names I removed from my list were Tom Cruise (merely misguided, I'm afraid) and Representative Jean Schmidt, whose rookie effort is noteworthy, but not comparable to the long-term damage done by the ten heavyweights above.

If you want to vote -- whether to enjoy the excercise (sudoku for the news nut!), to reinforce my vote, or to cancel it out (I'm sure somebody will vote for Michael Moore) -- the link is above. Check it out.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

HOW'D THE PLAYBOY CLUBS MISS OUT ON THIS?

HOW'D THE PLAYBOY CLUBS MISS OUT ON THIS?

Ran across this at Meagan's Online Musings, a blog three degrees of separation from this'n. Gives one home decorating ideas, too, doesn't it? (Don't tell my spouse.)