Starbucks got milk?

Come on. Give me a break. “… a Grande Latte provides you with half the dairy you need for the day …” That was part of the copy in a full page got milk? ad in this weekend’s New York Times magazine. Sure. Half the dairy you need, at triple the price.

Tweets you will never see

A collection of Twitter messages you will never see in your friends’ feeds. Some business oriented, some rude, some techie, and some attempting to underline the deep rifts that are developing in how we communicate with each other. Just posted half-ass link post at tinyurl… This message is confidential. If it was not meant […]

Markets in tidbits of pork

“… it’s a bit like making sausages. You don’t want to see them made, but they sure taste good …” I love charcuterie. Of all shapes and sizes. Of all flavours, from savoury to hot. Fatty to dry. Problem is, really good charcuterie demands careful preparation, respect for the process, and skill honed over time. […]

Subscription cards – act now!

You open up a freshly-purchased magazine, and dozens of subscription cards fall out. They clog up every third page, stick to feature layouts, and make you slip on the floor. It’s a giant waste of paper. And Outside magazine recognizes that its readers, in particular, may not appreciate the mess: “… Beginning with the March […]

Obama’s font choices

Barack Obama’s big banners for “Change” rely on an apt font: Gotham. The folks over at Helvetica noticed this, and pulled out an interview they conducted with Gotham’s designers: “…Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones spoke about the creation of Gotham during our interview for Helvetica, and looking back at their description of what GQ wanted […]

Market research in a simpler times – 80s video games

Forget beta testers in Russia, India and Iowa. Forget launching a 0.6.3 version with only 10,000 users. Here’s an excerpt from a 1981 market research report on the first version of the arcade classic Centipede: “… Although test results from these locations should still be valid, the CENTIPEDE games tested at the Mountain View Time […]

Old Communist Apparatchiks – I miss them!

Corporate communications specialists would recognize a lot in the tactics and strategies of old line Communist apparatchiks. Fidel Castro, Ken Lay, Bernard Ebbers, Roger Smith, Yuri Andropov – who doesn’t remember the stonewalling, the suspicion and the sense of entitlement that seeped through their public words and actions? When threatened, they would respond with indignation […]

Twitter is for poseurs

Hmmm. Walter Carl, of Northeastern University, seems to zero in on Twitter as a marketing tool for hacks and flacks keen on keeping up images. “… “You want to use these tools to keep up on others, in a good way, of course, and to let them keep up on you,” said Professor [Walter] Carl, […]

A news room dissected – the Washington Post

The Washington Post appears to have a strong online presence to complement its historic reputation as a news organization. So why is the online news room across the river in Virginia? Washington City Paper takes a lengthy look at the conflict between the new kids and the kids with all badges. Whose arts coverage gets […]

Some fleeting glances

Will Smith’s Top 10 Red Carpet Poses – and they’re all him pointing. (Celebslam) The renegade art of (unauthorized) rock biography (The Phoenix) Burlington’s The Radiator – a low power station in Vermont. Which is funny, because radiators are loud, often distracting and frequently unreliable (Seven Days Vermont) It’s 1985, and we’ve got a white […]

Did you cross the Mendoza diagonal last night?

Perhaps you were so inspired by Valentine’s Day that you spent hours sifting through thousands of songs to compile the perfect mixtape (or playlist, for you young kids). Or maybe you just slapped something together. Either way, you’re probably still in high school or college. But what were the chances you actually “scored” last night? […]

That’s gosh darn dangerous, you fool

Why the hell would you do that? A natural response to any one of the songs singled out by I am Fuel, You Are Friends in a post called That’s Dangerous! :: the mix. There are 22 songs, including: touch me, I’m sick, by Mudhoney wondering where the lions are, a cover of the Bruce […]

Prius(es), Organic food and Expensive Sandwiches

Those are all things that white people like, described in detail on Stuff White People Like. I’ll tell you one thing white people like: McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Posts like Candid New York City Rental Ads and Nora Ephron feels bad about Barack Obama’s Neck. In the interests of full disclosure, I will admit to owning […]

I wish I was bathed in Marmite

Cross-promotion in support of a cross-promotion campaign! The gist of this lengthy post: take a negative, add some humour and ingenuity and make it a positive! God bless Rax from Splendid Communications. His agency has the Marmite account, and as part of their follow-up to a cross-promotion campaign earlier in 2007, he sent me this […]

the Math of Meetings

Working through a meeting yesterday, and I came up with the following calculations to help you understand the probability of certain behaviours or actions occurring during a meeting: Will the meeting be useful? # of participants / # of decisions needed = X, where X<1 means the meeting is useful. Will someone fall asleep? If […]

Can coporations manage the migration to social media?

Mitch has nailed it. A lot of companies being slammed by online controversies – like Hasbro – just aren’t used to dealing with emotional, irrational and impetuous humans. Their relationship with the marketplace is framed by the work of their distributors, an import/export firm, or a licence holder. The issues involved are often complex, with […]

Improbable yet Accurate Spam Header

Be like Ron Jeremy While there may be an implied promise vis-a-vis your package, there is no guarantee about improved attractiveness. In fact, you will probably remain the same fat, overconfident and overly hairy person you have always been. It’s important to note that at one time – the 1970s – it was fashionable to […]

I just can’t help myself

… but I must remind everyone that grey-haired John Roberts of CNN fame used to have a respectable career as a music journalist and video jockey up here in Canada. I found this choice picture while watching a video compiled of clips from Soundproof, a 1980s cable television show that brought breaking alternative bands into […]

Macarthur Park changed my life

Oh my. In grade 4, I spent several months learning the role of second trumpet in the Richard Harris classic Macarthur Park. Paired with the theme from Rocky, it was the centrepiece of our annual music recital. And it was painful. It scarred me for life. And now WFMU has dredged up all those memories […]

Interesting stories not told by boring people

Are you the type that likes listening to long form documentaries or character vignettes on public radio – but really get tired of sitting in your car in the driveway as they finish up? I’ll admit something – I do not have a radio in my house. At least not one uncovered by dust and […]

the long and short of being an omnivore

What are the desirable qualities of an designer? How about a creative generalist? How about an unceasing appetite for information, for synergy, for identifying relationships? Here are two takes: a short answer from Steve Portigal, and a long exposition by Steve Hardy, the Creative Generalist. What is it that makes a great design strategist? A […]

I wonder if he still has a career…

I’m working my way through Chuck Thompson’s Smile When You’re Lying, a wonderful and funny evisceration of the props and trickery of travel writing by a well-established travel writer. Here are two excerpts: “… but I’d endured worse during all those Presidential Fitness Awards I’d narrowly missed in junior high. You want to kill a […]

i sing the body ironic

You know, not all poets have hazy portraits of Walt Whitman in their bathrooms. New York Times magazine interviewed Charles Simic, the US poet laureate, in the magazine this weekend. As a Yugoslavian-born émigré who endured the bombings of Belgrade during World War II and whose work is urban in spirit, why do you live […]

I’ve got some shorties

Portland blogger discusses how to be the best faux sports journalist around. Tip #1? Don’t drink in the press box. No-one tell Jim Carr or Harry Doyle. Young journalist complains about getting up at … wait for it … 6 am. (SPJ blogs) “My life is begging for trailers” – from Creative Loafing Atlanta: “…It […]

A fresh attitude to your work

“Act like you just quit” – fantastic advice from Advertising for Peanuts. That’s doesn’t mean flip your boss the bird, or burn down the Initech division where you work. Instead, challenge the conventions, the traditions, the ingrained habits that have held you back. Do you have a great idea gnawing away at your soul? Are […]

Now that football’s over

… may I introduce you to the rules of hockey?

Why does a Third Place have to have good upholstery?

I’ve come to a conclusion: a third place cannot really be created. In fact, every “home away from home” I’ve visited has some dirt in the corners, cracks in the parquet, suds in the bucket … One thing it does not have is wi-fi. If you set out to make a “third place,” to create […]

Many flavours of McLuhan

Instead of a hagiographic shout-out, or a far too quick reference to the great man, why not take a moment to consider Marshall McLuhan, the colleague, friend and neighbour? In the Garden with the Guru, a short essay by Bob Rodgers in the Literary Review of Canada, serves up some personal anecdotes and a reference […]

You can’t spin a kid

Heard from the back of my minivan, as we passed a billboard for CHEZ 106, a local radio station: “It’s not classic rock, it’s OLD rock!” And that’s just a second grader!

The public relations identity crisis

Public relations, as a profession, has an identity crisis. Not really a surprise, is it? Is it a touchy-feely trade that can only be learned through practice or a cold-hearted discipline informed by social science and buttressed by research? Are we a homogenous enough group that we can speak with one voice, or are we […]

Oh, you bet I have comments

I once had an employee who hated my habit of picking up a red pen immediately after being given a document to review. You know, habits are borne from practice. Hours and hours of practice. Where Katie Chatfield “wished she could distribute them widely,” I have pasted a page from the Design Police’s Visual Enforcement […]

Funny, we’re never in the same place at the same …

I think I’ve found my blogging doppelganger, Jen Mattern.

I don’t know how I missed this

…but The City Desk, a blog about a fictional urban centre, is pure genius. A piece from last year reeled me right in, with a mix of nearly believable retail history, technological confusion and urban conspiracy: The Permanence of Gillard’s Electric Typewriter Service “…All large cities feature that staple of stand-up comedy, the retail storefront […]

the Facebook headshot for miscreants

Another datapoint to add to the discussion about how youth treat their online identity. Remember when the Smoking Gun was a revolutionary resource, opening up celebrity mugshots and notable court cases for public scrutiny? Do you remember when it was an embarrassment to be arrested and booked? “…Finally, through the state police barracks, where Sergeant […]

Teach your children well and dress them well … as well

Say no to strangers people, and remember that the policeman is your friend. A voyage back to 1965 provides a glimpse into the idealized life of a boy and girl in middle school – and how they navigate the multiple threats of dark back alleys, policemen that burst out of Spanish-themed bars at mid-day (7:24 […]

In which another layer is peeled back

As I made the transition into grown-up, collecting a full-time job, a marriage and a suburban home along the way, part of my youth remained sealed away – in a box of carefully collected and reluctantly ignored vinyl. Limited editions, special imports, extremely overpriced rarities: they’re all there down in the basement. The cheap turntable […]

No better name or billboard

Four words. On a thin roadside sign. Alongside Highway 401 just outside Brockville, Ontario. Cast and Blast Outdoors

trying too hard to be au courant

The forecast is in, and the men’s fashions for winter 2008 have strolled down the runways of Milan. I love reading fashion reporting because the beat offers good writers the chance to take their adverbs, allegories and analogies for a wild ride. Throw in some strong personalities and a hint of industry desperation, and you […]

Apparently, the internets is changing journalism

It’s unsettling, sort of like a time warp. “Stop the Presses: the transition from paper to pixel will bring good news” is in the latest issue of This Magazine – but it reads like it was written in 2005: “…The transition from print to digital content will not happen overnight, and it won’t be without […]

A service rep tries to game the system

Yesterday, I broke with habit, I abandoned a now-established tradition. I called a 1-800 number to make a reservation. And the customer service representative tried to game me – and the system – twice! One on the price, and a second time on the after-service quality survey. Since I have such low standards for call […]

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