Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Liquid Regret

Okay. So, in the December or January archives, you'll find a little post I called "As opposed to...?". In this little post, I refer to one of our account execs and, more specifically, their start up company's name: Liquid Vodka.

Well, if you go back and read the post, you'll quickly come to the conclusion that I'm not fond of the name. In fact, I go so far as to reenact the (hypothetical) brainstorming meeting that happened when they named the product. And then I take it a step further be infering that those involved were/are idiots because of how they named the product.

Well, it just so happens that I get in a chat with the aforementioned account exec's boss (a guy whom I work with often) and he asks if I had mentioned "Liquid Vodka" in my blog. To make a long story short, the account exec found my blog through a simple Google search. Actually, if you Google 'Liquid Vodka' right now, I show up SECOND; it's basically impossible to miss it. (The good news is that the link on Google isn't anchored in the text; you have to scroll down about halfway down to find the correct article.)

So now I'm in this odd position. I don't work directly with the account person, but I feel bad for infering that they were idiots for naming their product the way they did, when in fact, they are not. The owners are actually very intelligent and I give them credit for having the guts to start their own venture in what is a very cutthroat environment.

So...here's what I'm going to do. First off, I'm going to apologize. Second, I'm going to use this coming week and subsequent weekend to work my way through an entire fifth of Liquid Vodka, and report back to you.

I figure I'll test in in my three favorite ways: chilled, rocks with lemon, and with tonic. Also, I can't rule out a dirty martini here and there. (For unbiased testing, you know.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Force Blog

On Sunday, SockMama and I made our way to the local puberty palace (i.e. movie theater googolplex) and checked out Revenge of the Sith.

I'll admit it; this movie is difficult to review. On the one hand, it was way better than Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones; but on the other, compared to other epic films that combine action, drama, love stories, and special effects, it sucks.

Luckily for me, I knew this going into the movie, so I decided to judge Episode III against its predecessors. Which is a good thing, because it was a good flick in that regard. It had a great opening sequence and the special effects deserve an Oscar mention.

Then there’s the script. This is the weakest part of any of the Star Wars films, even the originals. But that’s not a huge deal, because the success of Star Wars in the late 70s and 80s wasn’t due to the script; it was due to the actual story and more importantly, the special effects.

So here’s my rant. George Lucas, much like Darth Vader, witnessed a mighty rise, and an even mightier fall. He struck gold with the first movies; people were star struck (literally) by the effects and killer storyline. But then he waited too long (or whatever the reason was for not doing the prequels earlier). So that when he brought out Phantom Menace, the story was broken and very, very unattached to the final 3 films; the only semblances of the plot had to do with last names. Plus, he had to throw in that retarded Jar-Jar character in the mix and pretty much seal the deal on the film’s credibility as a decent movie.

Here’s the thing: Episode III COULD have been incredible. It had most of the right elements for an epic movie: special effects, music, sound…but what about the script? Lucas, for some reason, insisted on not having help with the screenplay, which is so painfully obvious in the film that it begins to take away from the actual movie experience. Seriously. This script reduced one of today’s best actresses into a pile of emotionless crap; she stumbled through her lines and looked nauseas every time she had to speak. SockMama told me that she (Portman) took 27 takes simply because, no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t make the line sound good. And if you’ve seen this film, you know what I’m talking about.

But then there’s Hayden Christenson. Once upon a time, even this guy could act. If you don’t believe me (and I realize you’re doubtful after his last three tries), check out ‘Life as a House’ – he’s actually good. Why? Script.

But Lucas couldn’t let go; his ego, like the Dark Side, took over and he resisted every offer by some of the film industry’s top writers to help him make a movie that was actually as good on the brain and ear as it was the eye. So when Darth Vader raised his arms and yelled out the clichéd, “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!” I could relate entirely.

Hold me, readers, like you did in the fields of Mediocrity.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

A fond farewell

Even more so than virtually every other day at my work, yesterday was pretty awful. And it didn't start out that way; it had hopes and dreams of being good - the sun was shining for the first time since February, Mark and Brian were actually entertaining on the commute, and I didn't drop any weights on my toes at the gym.

Things were looking up.

Then it happened.

I get to work, see my Senior Art Director who just got in from a week with his wife and grandkids at Disneyland, and we (along with a junior Art Director and Senior Writer) headed off for morning coffee. Not fifteen feet from the super-secret side exit door, he drops this bomb: he's put in his two week notice.

Don't get me wrong here. This guy deserves the job he just got at another agency in town more than anyone else. He’s been in the business longer than anyone else in the agency. He's an incredible creative asset and a great guy to be around. I've learned more from him than anyone else in the past 12 months.

So why am I upset that he’s going? Because he is the one person that is able to stand up for good creative work. Sounds obvious, right? We’re an ad agency, that’s what we do. Unfortunately, it’s not. Our advertising, as much as we try to point it in the direction of impacting, emotional branding, usually falls short; we usually take the safe and secure (read: boring and unexciting) route.. Sure, this is partly due to client kills, but most of it is done internally by none other than our Executive Creative Director -- this person simply does not know great work, and routinely kills great ideas.

Good times.

Friday, May 20, 2005

What a week

It's been a tough one. I was lucky enough to score a posting in the begining of the week, but since then, my work life has been one long stream of shit. Seriously. Streaming.

For those who are curious, I think I saw a pic of streaming shit on www.rotten.com, which is one of those sites you only visit when you're drunk and with friends. Well, at least I do anyways.

Anyohw...I don't have too much going on at the moment, except that I'm being paid to drink margaritas. Whenever we have a tough week, the creative group (that's what we're referred to in Outlook/Entourage, anyways) breaks out the drinks and snacks.

So that's pretty cool. Hmm...other than that? Well, there's this: yesterday morning, SockMama and I wake up, get dressed, blend our protein shake, take the dog out, put down his paper, fill his Kong, and sit down to drink said protein shake while watching the news. And then it happened.

Our TV went out. Just like that. Out. One moment we were watching our shitty local news' weather report (guess what? Rain! It's PORTLAND, what do you friggin' expect?) and the TV shuts off. Well, the screen does. But the power light begins blinking. I do the tried-and-true Windows method of shutting off, unpluggin, replugging, restarting...no picture.

So I call Toshiba. They tell me a blinking light is an internal problem, and that it needs to be serviced. Wonderful. So, I ask the dreaded question:

"If it's the tube, how much are we looking at?" I asked the gritted teeth.

And then came the chipper, happy, jubilant reply: "Usually 2 or...3 hundred dollars! Is there anything else I can help you with?"

Just the gun permit, thank you.

So, we're pricing friggin' TVs tonight and tomorrow.

Oh, and did I mention this TV is only 5 1/2 years old? No? Then perhaps you'll find this particularly entertaining:

It's Thursday night. Well, last night was, but you get the picture. So. Thursday night. Our TV goes out. SockMama is on the edge of a murderous rage. Guess why? The season finale of The Appretice (aka Trump Sucks Ass) and E.R. are on.

SockMama calls her mom to see if she could borrow one of the multiple TVs she's collected over the years. She goes over to pick it up. Before we go any further, let me just explain something right quick: our (now broken) TV isn't THAT great; it's a 27" Toshiba with component inputs. Nothing too fancy. I use it to watch satellite, play games, and watch movies. So you can understand my pain when I saw the TV that was laid out in the backseat: it's a small, twelve(?) inch TV with two channel selectors: one for 'Channel' and one for 'UHF'. Yep, the very same Acronym of Weird Al Fame. Even better? The knobs have fallen off. But that's okay, because it comes with a universal remote. In fact, this remote is so universal, it can actually double as pliers, just in case you encounter a wily nail embedded in your coffee table or other remote. Well, okay, so the remote IS a pair of pliers.

But we're happy nonetheless...I was able to hookup our satellite to the decrepid TV, and SockMama was able to catch her finales. Well, okay, I watched the finale of ER, too.

That's it for me. I'm getting more tequilla.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Now I know my ABCs...

So I'm going to rip off ol' Collin and do this ABC recent web site thingie that he did a few posts back. Sound confusing? Oh, belive me, it is. In fact, you may not want to try this yourself. After all, I did get a 'B' and a 'B+' in Stats. Trust me. It's complicated.

So what you do is this. Up in your browser's address bar, you type in a letter. The first thing that pops up, your list it. You can almost hear the crowd gasping in amazement as I prepare to type the letter 'a' in my Firefox browser. Here goes...

A is for: http://adverbloggin.blogspot.com. Home sweet home.
B is for: www.bungie.net. My home away from home. This tracks my Halo 2 stats and stuff. Lord, I'm such a geek...
C is for: www.cnet.com. All electronic stuff, all the time.
D is for: www.dictionary.com. Not that you'd know I visit this site all the friggin' time at work by looking at my blog posts...
E is for: www.edmunds.com. A comprehensive automotive site that has a helpful little thing called 'TMV' - very cool. Again...I'm a geek.
F is for: http://fizzleandpop.blogspot.com. Collin's blog site.
G is for: www.gmail.com. I know Google's been getting some press about their email service, but I'm loving it so far. If you want an invite, send me one. I've got 48 left to waste.
H is for: www.hp.com. I work on HP about 1/2 of my total time at work, so I'm always visiting it for one reason or another.
I is for: www.intel.com. I work on Intel here and there. Again...research.
J is for: www.jeld-wen.com. Our parent company. They make windows and doors. Yep, you heard right. Our ad agency is owned by our client. I should probably just leave it at that.
K is for: http://www.kiddyhouse.com/Farm/ducks1.html. I was searching for Duck facts for a billboard campaign...this was one of the sites I apparently hit.
L is for: www.logitech.com. I recently ordered a new wireless keyboard and mouse at work. We get a deal (or something) from Logitech. Hence the site's priority in my recent hit list.
M is for: www.msnbc.com. I check it every morning. Well, msnbc and cnn.com, but cnn makes you pay to watch video, which I think sucks, so I don't frequent them as much.
N is for: www.nba.com. I don't watch that much basketball anymore. Our local team (the Blazers) have just about driven me insane over the last couple of years, mainly by bonehead management, that I just don't have the patience for them anymore. But somehow, nba.com made it to the hit list. Go figure.
O is for: www.oregongarden.org. A 400-acre garden an hour south of Portland that I am taking my mom to for a belated Mother's Day presant.
P is for: www.photobucket.com. A free online photo hosting service soundy kicks the evil, bile-spitting "Picasa" and "Hello" photo software that "comes" with Blogger.
Q is for: http://www.qsl.net/fudd/fudd.gif. An Art Director at work is hunting wabbits in his yard with live traps (he hates killing things). Apparently, the Romanian neighbor next door forgot to neuter her male and female rabbits, and the neighborhood is being overran by rabbits. I found this image appealing for several reasons. 1: It's Elmer Friggin' Fudd and 2: The Art Director kind of looks like him.
R is for: http://reviews.teamxbox.com/xbox/940/Forza-Motorsport/p1/. A review of the Gran Turismo 4 ass kicking game Forza Motorsport.
S is for: http://sonofcheese.blogspot.com. Derek's (the Sideways Hater) blog site.
T is for: www.teamxbox.com. I found this funny, because I visit Gamespot WAY more often than this site. But apparently, I visit gmail just a little more often.
U is for: http://www.uglykids.info/. This is (I think) a viral site for an orthadontist. I think it's hillarious. Unless it's been pulled or changed or is, real.
V is for: nothing, I guess.
W is for: www. That's it. I didn't have anything that went "www.wsomethingorother", so I just got my normal "www.asomethingorother." Not much fun to be had there.
X is for: www.xbox.com. Surprise, surprise, right?
Y is for: the same thing V and W (no, not VW) are for: nothing.
Z is for: see above.

So...there you go. A glimpse into the Internet worlds I visit each and everday.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

A grape walks into a bar...

In a rare case of foresight and readiness, I am typing this post in hopes to quell the uprising that will occur when both of my readers (Collin and Derek) have seen that I have not posted anything this week.

I'm busy this week. And while I'd rather be blogging about wine tasting or smoked meats, I can't. Instead, I'm relegated to shitty technical writing about printers, scanners, processors, and technologies.

I digress.

It's been a slow run for creative projects lately...it's starting to wear me out, can't you tell?

Anyhow...what better way to curb the appetitie for complaining about lack of posts than to post photos?

And now, without further ado, here's some pics from the wine trip:

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-This is the first winery. The time? Around noon - the perfect time to start drinking femented grape juice. You'll notice everyone is still happy and smiling. This is key.

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-This is the fourth winery. You can tell because 1: SockMama (in the center) is bending down, obviously hyper-aware of her immense height and need to be in a chorus line, 2: The guy next to her is having trouble straightening his knees, and 3: The first instance of "Rabbit Ears" has made its way into photos.

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- Winery numero sies. Or siete, I'm not sure. It's kind of a blur at that point. See that large pallet of wine there? That's ours.

Not really. Although this place did have awesome wine. In fact, it was the best winery of the day, a fitting conclusion to a day of drinking grape squeezins'. As exemplified by this shot:

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- Again, notice the rabbit ears and the giant grins; this is obviously deep in the day. Also, you'll notice the small dwarf in the front there? That's Amy. The designated driver. Look closely - she's on the verge of manslaughter.

After the last winery, we made our way to a brewpub closeby. After all, what's a day of drinking without capping it off with more drinking? This is what transpired in the van on the way there:

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- The agape jaws and squinty eyes pretty much say it all

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- Yes. That's me there in the back, baguette in hand, listening to a friend of mine spell out the virtures of physical therapy and kittens. I didn't ask, so you can't either.

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- The parking lot of the brewpub. I'm not sure when exactly the women in the group decided to start feeling each other's breasts, but it was probably right before this shot.

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- Obviously, wine is a very intellectual drink, a concoction that should only be enjoyed when one has the cerebral capacity to overtly express the intracacies and delacacies of the grape itself. I'm sorry, what? Pass me that bottle, would you?

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Birthday Bash

So..the last post detailed the hell that SockMama, myself, my sister and my mom went through to get to St. Louis.

This one is a bit different - things actually went well. Kind of. Sort of.

Anyhow, Thursday night, we get in, get settled, and get a pot of spaghetti fired up and eaten. No one was in the mood for fun or anything, so that was that.

Then Friday comes around. My uncle, along with his gigantic house, 4 cars, enormous TV, and a seat next to the Almighty himself, owns an amazing meat smoker. So at 8 am, we woke up, basted a pork loin, some chickens, a turkey, bratwurst and other assorted processed meats, and threw em in the smoker. I am pretty handy when armed with a couple squash and white-hot charcoal, so I volunteered to handle the veggies. Here's proof:

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That's me on the left there, with said wealthy uncle in the middle, and my always intoxicated grandfather on the right. Good times.

Once the meat and veggies were smoked and grilled, dinner was ready. My aunt and unlce invited friends over, and the family gathered around the table for dinner.

I didn't take any shots of the actual dinner party, mainly because I was busy cramming smoked turkey down my maw, but I did manage to capture this:

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You'll notice the gigantic bottle of wine in the foreground. The fact that my grandfather is next to it is not a coincidence.

After dinner was done, we sat down and watched the ol' guy open his presents. Afterwards, we gathered around and got a photo taken:

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So, starting with the birthday boy, to the right of him is Daniel, my cousin. To the left is the always lovely SockMama. Standing directly over him is my mom (she's in gray) and my aunt Janet is to the right of my mom. The surly teenager next to my mom is my sister, and then in the final row you'll find myself and my uncle Mike.

After that, the party pretty much disbanded. My mom played some maj jong, while my sister, SockMama, and myself went to a movie.

On Saturday, it dawned on everyone that we had a whole day without plans. And knowing that couldn't work, we decided to head to the St. Louis Botanical Gardens.

Here's a shot of the group:

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And some other cool shots:

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-a purdy flower, complete with screwed up composition.

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-SockMama and myself in the Chinese Gardens

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-a very rare flower that, apparently, is related to the gum tree

And that's it! Sunday we flew back in.

Tomorrow, if you're nice...I finally post pictures of the wine trip.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Hasty retreat

Here I am, okay? I'm back. You know, come to think of it, I maybe, possibly, theoretically thought about putting a heads up post about my journey into St. Louis' outter bowls of sub-division hell.

But then, I wouldn't get Collin heckling me, which I often miss.

So, here we go.

Last Thursday, the SockMama, my sister (yes, the one with the nose candy habit), my mom, and myself crowded into two planes (layovers - gotta love em) and made our way to St. Louis to visit my grandfather to celebrate his 80th birthday.

Which meant my nights leading up to the trip were consumed by laundry, cleaning, and packing, while my days at work were consumed by last minute project changes (I was at work until 8pm Wednesday night) and calming the anxious nerves of account people. Therefore, no blogging for Andy.

But now I'm back.

Here's a quick recant of the action:

Wednesday night: I'm at work, trying to leave work. I finally do. My buddy gives me a ride home. Things are looking good. Then I get the call. It's SockMama, and she's worried that her mom, our house/dog/cat/satellite tv watcher, is out and about, meaning that she's away from the phone, which means we now have no idea what time to expect her. Then the fun begins.

We start calling her mom's friends and acquaintances, trying to track her down. No luck whatsoever. It's now 10 pm. We have a flight at 7am. Simple subtraction will tell you that, at this point in the night, we're screwed as far as sleeping goes.

For the next two hours, we continue calling and, still without any contact, we start to think that SockMama will not be able to go. After all, we only have four hours (and it's midnight) to find someone who'll take a beagle into their home for four days. We call SockMama's aunts and, luckily, we find one that will take him. But we had to leave right then, in the middle of the night. So we pack up his stuff and head to her house, drop off the dog, stumble back home, and sleep for 3 hours.

Thursday morning: We pry our eyes open at 4:45 am and throw our stuff in the car. We find the parking lot, hop in the shuttle, and get to the check-in counter. Here's where we hit the day's first speed bump. My mom, the day before, sent me an email at work saying we will meet at the ticket counter. Cool. The only problem is, for this idea to work, she had to actually be at the ticket counter to meet us. Instead, SockMama and myself checked-in and asked the (idiot) check-in guy if they had already checked in. He typed something on the computer (probably on a porn site) and shook his head authortativly, saying that, no, they had not checked in yet. So we continue to wait. Our flight leaves at 6:50 and it's now 6:15. We ask the guy what to do and he says to go ahead and get in line at security and that there is another flight at 9 that they will need to take.

So, off we go to security. As we're winding our way through the queue, my cell phone begins to vibrate. I answer. It's my mom. She's irate because the plane is boarding and that we are not on it. Wondering how she knew that, seeing as how she wasn't at the airport yet, she replied "because we're on the plane!" Nice. Turns out, they arrived five minutes before us and, my mom being the insane anxious crazy lady she is whenever there's any sort of timetable involved, got freaked out and assumed we would know just to meet her on the plane. Who comes to this sort of conclusion this fast? What's more, she DOESN'T HAVE A CELL PHONE! It's one thing to improvise on a schedule when you let the person know about it, but it's a whole 'nother thing when said person just assumes everyone else thinks like you and make up your own plans as you see fit, and NOT LET THEM KNOW. By the way, she borrowed someone's cell phone to make the call as we were in security, just in case you were confused. Which, by now, has to be a foregone conclusion.

Anyhow, we make it onto the plane with 15 minutes to spare.

The rest of the day actually went well. We flew into Minneapolis (aka The Third Level of Hell), had lunch, and then hopped onto an MRI tube with wings and leather seats that are spaced an eighth-inch away from my knee caps as I'm sitting down. Oh joy. Luckily that flight was short - only an hour and fifteen minutes.

And then we were in St. Louis....

Stay tuned next time as we travel to mystical lands called "Chesterfield," "The Vally," and "Gin and Raisons!"

Oh yeah...I have pictures, too. I'll try to post those and the wine tasting pics soon.

Sorry for the delay.