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Awkward Morning Musing of a Sleepy Mind: Advertising


The bedroom light seeps through my half closed eyes, as my wife starts her morning a little earlier than I. The morning news filters into my waking moments. Between the promises of another scorching hot day and the frivolous chatter of the news anchors, the advertisers pitch their wares to what they hope is their demographic audience. According to the commercial, these advertisers believe I am in need of a MRI, hearing aid, a new roof because mine leaks, a new air conditioner because mine is broken, and my ass is suffering from hemorrhoids. I know I can be a pain in the ass but I don’t believe I suffer pains. Just who do the advertisers think are their morning viewers?

The advertising industry is the second largest employer of statisticians, behind only the insurance industry. The statisticians crunch numbers to give the probable age and gender of viewers for each show and broadcast time creating a demographic group. This hypothetical group is then matched to vendors that will pay to advertise their products at optimal times to target the “right” demographic group. According to the numbers, my house and I are falling apart. I suppose that I am the exception to their calculations.

Now, some things should not be advertised during specific shows or movies. One must go beyond the statistical demographics and into the human factor to understand why some products would just be insensitive or awkward-no matter what the statistic say. As I was clearing the sleep out of my thoughts, I came up with some potential advertising fails.

  • Golden Corral buffet restaurant advertising during the Biggest Loser.
  • Viagra commercials during 16 and Pregnant.
  • Clorox Bleach during any of CBS’s CSI franchise.
  • Political adds during the Jackass movies.
  • Closet organizers during the broadcast of Kill Bill or Kung Fu. (wait for the light bulb moment, you will get this one)
  • Shout stain remover after the Bill Clinton Biography.
  • Boy Scouts of America during news coverage of the Jerry Sandusky Trial.
  • Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the World” commercials during Intervention.
  • Cobra radar detectors advertising during Cops.
  • Ginsu knives during the OJ Simpson Biography.
  • Texaco sponsoring Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.
  • Starkist ads during A Dolphin’s Tale.         

Commercials are part of the television experience. Advertising, when done responsibly, can be thought provoking, funny, or even informative. In some cases, commercials can just be annoying. Take a moment to think of a few products that would be a little awkward when advertised during specific shows. I am sure you can come up with more examples to add to the list. My list was composed before the first cup of coffee.

The one plea I have is for someone to convince Trojan condoms to sponsor an ad during Duggar’s 19 and Counting.  

Until next time…

jerryb

©2012

 

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2012 in Humor, Television

 

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A Little Advice for Hell…Or Hell’s Kitchen


The summer season of television begins.  It is the time when reality shows attempt to pull in viewers that are a little lazy from the heat to do much else. Around our household, we let the DVR capture the broadcast as we enjoy our summer fun. I have stated before that I am not a huge fan of trash television but everyone has to go slumming once in a while to get perspective. One of the shows that we slip off into the low-rent neighborhood gives us our favorite foul-mouthed chef, Gordon Ramsay with Hell’s Kitchen. What better way to relax in the evening than watching contestants belittled, as profanities are thrown at them through a high paced dinner service? Now before we go further, understand this is not one of televisions’ crowning moments but a step into the waste that we call reality television. The competition between the cooking hopefuls is filled with constant stress, conflicting personalities, and a host that pushes them to the limits while rarely handing out compliments. Wait, that sounds exactly like the other reality shows (and a few of my old bosses).

 

hell advice for the kitchen

What you need to know before you go to hell.

 

Hell’s Kitchen is in its tenth season in the U.S. and continues to capture audience’s approval. In the competition, the hopeful chefs compete for a chance to continue their hell as the head chef of one of Chef Ramsay’s many international restaurants. In review, you spend the entire competition being humiliated, screamed at, and the prize is … more of the same. Where do I sign up? The show is filled with cleverly edited situations that imply that none of the contestants are competent enough to make a grilled cheese sandwich at a school’s cafeteria.

My only wish for the show is for it to be aired on a cable station, as viewer spend most of the show trying to figure out what nature of profanity was used in each scene. And by each scene, I am not exaggerating. The producers of the show spend hours of overtime bleeping and putting “fuzzy bubbles” over the mouths of Chef Ramsay and the want-to-be chefs. There are so many bleeps that our household created a drinking game where a shot is taken after each foul-mouth epithet. The results were many missed endings and massive next day hangovers. This game should not be played by anyone that wants to keep their liver in one piece. A variation of the game can be played where you have to drink every time Chef Ramsay croaks out “IT’S RAAWWWW!” This might prolong your liver, but not by much.

In order to be on the show, contestants do not need to have a lot of experience but the passion to cook. However, after nine completed seasons, you would think that the hopefuls would figure a few things out before attempting to go for the prize. Let’s help them out with a little Hell’s Kitchen common sense.

  • My first suggestion is to watch the damned show! After nine years, you would think that the people who go on the show would actually understand that they are about to be flayed on a daily basis for five weeks. They must endure no sleep, constant abuse, and bitchy team mates. Just look at it as going to boot camp with food. So quit whining about it!
  • After seeing the show, you should know that no matter how good you think you are, you are a piece of under-cooked dog shit in the eyes of a professional television chef. That is why we watch the show. It gives a reason to feel better about ourselves while watching you be bullied and abused. Thanks for the pick-me-up.
  • If you win a challenge and get a fancy trip to some exotic place, plan on failing the next food service. It is written in the stars that you will find yourself feeling the brunt of Ramsay’s rage. Additionally, refrain from drinking in excess during your time on the show. From personal experience, dealing with hangovers while being screamed at is not conducive to peak performance.
  • We are watching you. After you are finished with the filming and head back to your normal life, these moments will be aired for all to see. Some of these not-so-shining moments will be on the season’s DVD. You don’t want to go to a future employer, love interest, or your children and show them how much of a douche you were on national television. Though from our couch, we find it entertaining.
  • Learn the basic dishes. Every season, it amazes us that people do not know how to cook the show’s staple dishes. If you can’t cook scallops, beef wellington, or risotto to perfection every time, well, Fuck off!

Armed with these little tidbits of advice from a seasoned observer, you too can go on to be ridiculed by Americans everywhere as we sit on our comfortable couches, playing a drinking game at your expense. Here is little advice for the competitors.  After you have had your ass handed to you by Chef Ramsay, the next step in your career awaits, I hear that Denny’s is hiring for the overnight shift. You will be appreciated there.

Until next time…

jerryb

© 2012

Related Post: The Modern Addiction or How We Killed Imagination

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2012 in Humor, Television

 

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Building the Foundation: A Daughter’s Love for Reading


Looking to the futureSo many things you hope to pass on to your children. Some of the lessons you have learned the hard way, or the experiences you have endured so they will not have to, and an appreciation for things that you discovered. The challenge is to explain to them the importance of the little things that may not be relevant in their world today. Figuring out how to share with them what it was like to have to use imagination to see color on a black and white television with a screen smaller than the laptop on their desk, can be a difficult task. Instead of video games, we had board games and action figures where the “stories” came from our imagination. Explaining there was a time when the only way to see a movie was to leave the house and go to the movie theater, or in the alternative, watching a movie at home meant seeing it years after it was released, with commercials, on one of the five television stations. (Just saying that makes me feel like I grew up in the Stone Age.) So many things have changed since I was my daughter’s age. The one thing I can share with her is my love for music and reading, especially those special books that are such a part of my childhood.

At the age of five, my daughter started reading all the books that covered the bookshelves in her room. Like her older sister, she has a natural aptitude for reading and sounding out words. As her skill level increased, she moved into chapter books, and this was when the fun truly began. I introduced her to one of my favorites: The Boxcar Children. Some of my earliest and fondest memories of reading were of these orphaned children and how they were able to survive on their own, while living in an abandoned boxcar, until they discover the kind hearted Mr. Henry was their grandfather. I slipped the first book of the series in with her summer reading stack, not really expecting it to catch her interest amongst the likes of Magic Tree House, Bunnicula, and Clarice Bean. I was happily surprised when she devoured the first book and asked for the next in the series.

I would not say I was too surprised that these tales still hold interest for the beginning readers. Even though today’s bookstore shelves are filled with television based stories books, the enduring story of independent children embarking on an adventure, inspires the imagination for children who feel like adults control their every move. The author, Gertrude Chandler Warner, wanted to use children’s desires to be unsupervised to appeal to the age group the series is directed towards. And even though the series was originally created in 1924, it still holds the same appeal to children over 85 years later.

Someday, my daughter will wander over to the dark side of the book shelves to read, what we refer to the as the “bratty child books”, as I am also sure she will someday move to more modern styles of pop music. At least I console myself with the fact she will have a good foundation from listening to the music of The Beatles, The Who, and Queen and reading Gertrude Chandler Warner’s The Boxcar Children.

What are some of the first book series that you remember reading as a child?

Until next time…

jerry b

© 2011

 

 

 

 

 

Related links: A Reason for Hope: To My Daughter, Will You Read To Me?

© 2011

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2011 in Books, Children, Family, Life

 

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Locke and Key, the Graphic Novel


 

Locke & Key Vol 1

Joe Hill's Eisener Award Nominated Series

It was a quaint little shop among the rest of the artsy shops up and down a five block section of town. My wife and I were enjoying some post-wedding time off and disappearing from the grind of everyday life as we explored the window dressings lining the street.  As we approached one particular boutique, we both reached for the door to explore what was  inside. The window displays showed comics and graphic novels of all designs piquing the curiosity within.  I will admit, I haven’t been a huge fan of comics or graphic novels, as they are known of late. Superheroes were never my cup of kryptonite tea. However, after watching the initial season of The Walking Dead, we wanted to see what they had. What we discovered was not our daddy’s comic book store.

The shop was laid out in a classy way, reminiscent of the specialty book store that it turned out to be. The staff was helpful in not only showing us where the collection we were searching for was located but also with recommending other series and authors that might interest us. This is when I discovered something that has been dragging me back into the city for the past few months, a series called Locke & Key.

Locke & Key is a monthly graphic novel which brings a psychological twist to the normal genre of graphic novels. Authored by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez, it follows the Locke family as they work through the tragedy of their father’s murder and moved back to his family’s home, in Lovecraft, Massachusetts. The Locke family estate, Key House, holds many secrets that are slowly revealed through the finding of keys scattered through the New England mansion. Each key has mystical attributes that push the storyline along with new developments.

What makes Locke & Key such a great read is that the story is so character-driven that you can’t help but be drawn to each panel. The Locke children bring a life of their own to the story. Tyler is the oldest of the children who has his own baggage to carry from the events that drove them to seek the sanctuary of Key House. Kinsey seems to present a maternal feel for the youngest Locke as she struggles with her identity. Though, of all the children, Bode steals the show. His curiosity is the driving factor of the story’s progression. The innocents he brings to the developing drama, encourages you to turn the page. Joe Hill brings the character development from his novels into the shorts of the graphic realm.

I, for one, am a person that has always enjoyed the novels; the long story which brings not only the plot but characters to life in ways that only a good book seems to build. I have been known to refer to comics as literature with training wheels for those that are too unimaginative to read a “real” book. I will admit, here in public, for all to read, that I was most certainly incorrect. The story that Joe Hill and the artwork of Gabriel Rodriguez produce in Locke & Key has the suspense and page turning appeal of any of the novels that I have read.  The plot grows, the artwork is fantastic and the characters are people you want to cheer for as they struggle through the discovery of their world.

When you are in your local book store searching for something new, give the graphic novel section a browse. If you can bring yourself to jumping into that world as I did, then please, give Locke & Key a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Visit the author at: http://joehillfiction.com

For a look at the wonderful graphic novel boutique, Star Clipper, visit them at: http://www.starclipper.com

Until next time…

Jb

© 2011

 

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2011 in Books, Graphic Novel, Review

 

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A Writer’s Muse-ic


But your thoughts will soon be wandering
the way they always do
When you’re ridin’ sixteen hours
and there’s nothin’ much to do
Turn the Page ~ Bob Seger

What happened to me? I was cruising along on my creative highway, seeing inspiration through the windshield when the creative world went dark. It wasn’t a road block. The highway just vanished. Darkness closed in and not even the headlights could penetrate. First the frustration, then the fear and finally resignation that it was gone. That was nine months ago.

I had high hopes for creating a series of muses to share each week. It would go in cycles and then the cycles crumbled, not to return. Through all the pressure I tried to put on myself to hit the publishing deadline, I felt I was forcing it. Some of the writings that were published showed the effects and eventually, even the attempts ended with a blank screen. Throwing my figurative hands up, I let days, weeks, and then months pass without attempting to write more than a project plan or email. The creativity had gone into hiding and I let it go. The muse had abandoned me, or had I abandoned the muse.

Last year, I started enjoying audio books on my somewhat long commute to the office. As the year wrapped up, I was deep into many series that I would have never had time to read in the normal sense. The hour long trip to the office or back home was enjoyable. I would avoid phone calls (before you scream at me, I have a hands free system in my car), and just slip away in the fantasy world of Heinlein, Abercrombie, and others. My drive time was filled with enjoyment that only good stories can produce.

A few weeks ago, I was waiting on a business call on my commute and didn’t want to get into a story only to stop in the middle. I turned on the music of my iPod and let my mind drive. The darkness that was encapsulating my creative muse started to fade. I listened to the lyrics and an idea crept to life. I played the song again and built on the idea. By the time I was in the driveway, a story was born. The darkness cleared to a murky shadow and words flowed out of me to the screen once again.

It seems that in my enjoyment of the audio books, I was concentrating on the stories so much that I was not letting my thoughts flow or develop. I was escaping into their stories without working on my own. This isn’t necessarily bad but stifled the creativity that not only helped to produce thoughts like this but also my writing and planning in my job. My muse had now returned.

I will not give up my audio books but I am going to work to temper them with times of creative thoughts and to ration out the stories of others with my own voice and expression. My writing started back up a few years ago from listening to music and pulling thoughts from the lyrics. The first few published posts from over four years ago were based solely on that style of writing. I forgot my muse. I lost my way in the darkness. Let the light shine again and the words flow out.

Until next time…

jb

© 2011

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2011 in Music, Writing

 

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Love at First Sight


We go everywhere together. Since my life was blessed with her beside me, I wake up with her, go to work with her, spend my lunch enjoying her company and curl up for the last moments of my day enjoying her. My wife doesn’t seem to mind my constant companion or my eagerness to play with her. I feel smarter in her company and deeply regret when she runs out of energy on a day I pushed her too hard. My Nook© and I are soul mates.

The Nook

My constant travel friend

Personally I am not a “speed” reader. I read often, for long periods of time, often many books simultaneously. However I have not been known to fly through a 500 page book in one day, like quite a few of you out there. So, my snail-pace reading means that I see so many more books I want to read, knowing that may take me at least a month to get through them all. The online Nook© eBook section at the B&N site, allows me to look through all the possible titles, and for a small amount of money, order many books at once, while I  put others on my wish list. I can order the books from my list next month continuing to feed my addiction. The average cost of a hard-cover book is about $25 USD. The cost doesn’t include the space needed to store the book once it is read, which is another $50 USD for the book shelf will fill up in a few months, or even the cost of the new addition to the house when the library overruns every corner of it. The cost of an eBook, about $10 USD and it fits in one little paperback sized, bundle of pleasure, along with 900 other titles. Need more space, archive the books that you have read to the online storage at B&N, and download more. If you don’t want to trust your precious book to the internet, add memory to your Nook©. All of these wonderments are possible with my dynamic, loyal, little piece of wonderfulness.

I know there are other products like my Nook out there and each of them are great for one major reason, people use them to read. Whether you prefer the Nook©, or its relatives the Kindle or Sony Reader, all of these products help to build a generation of readers. Kids are experiencing the joy of reading with these little electronic gems. I have found that even though I have always been a reader by read constantly, I now read even more than ever. I can carry my Nook© with me wherever I go. I take it with me for those long waits at the doctor’s office, to lunch at the closest fast food establishment, in the car when driving for a long distance (though not when I am the driver), and even for those moments when the movie is paused for a snack break. I read more than ever and those who have similar devices will probably agree, eReader have made reading more accessible and fun. Who wants to take an extra 2 lbs book in their carry then get on a flight, only to finish the book halfway through your trip?

Before there is an outcry about Apple’s new wonder, the iPad and how you can do more with it than with a Nook© or Kindle, I want to say, that is my point. If I wanted another traveling computer with a backlit screen that does everything my laptop can, then I would just use my laptop to read books. I sought out a way to have more accessibility to the books I thoroughly enjoy without the eye strain from backlighting. I look at a computer all day long and would rather not have to use my computer screen during my relaxing reading time. Though, this could be said about the color versions of the Nook©, I prefer the e-Ink technology that does not have backlighting. So, keep using your iPad to play your Angry Birds while I enjoy my latest zombie fiction and adventure stories.

After using my Nook© for the past two years, I have grown very fond of her. I am glad my wife hasn’t expressed jealousyyet, though I did notice her frowning at it the other night, I am sure she understands and appreciates my addiction. She also appreciates that my book shelves have stopped spreading through the rest of the house. Now only if I could convince her to get one for herself, I won’t feel so self-conscious and guilty.

Until next time…

jerry b

© 2011& 2013

 Related Article:  Building the Foundation; A Daughter’s Love for Reading; The Age of Audio Books

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2011 in Books

 

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Artwork: Soaking Up the Cover Art


soak-lucy-cd-cover

Soak Lucy’s only release on Rachael Records ©1999

In late 1999, the marketing company delved into a new business venture by signing on a band to a distribution deal for their CDs. We had created CD artwork for many releases by this time but none for our own projects. This wasn’t a typical record label deal, but our first outing into creating and producing a new release. The band we started working with was from Tennessee, called Soak Lucy, and had some promise. We did the typical marketing and show promotions as we were putting the release together on our newly created label, Rachael Records.

The first order of business was creation of the logo and cover art for the CD release. With a request for a photo shoot, done by the wife of a band member, and the newly created band mascot, dancing stick man concept of the drummer, we were on our way. After a few designs, the one you see above came to light and was released. The first, and only, run was for a few hundred copies. But, the artwork carried over to many of the show posters and marketing material. Sadly, the band’s many changes in members, along with a change of band name, caused Soak Lucy to slip out of existence and as the client we contracted. The hopes of creating a record label to open doors for new artist went out of existence as well. This was one of the projects I enjoyed as it was building not only graphics, but building a product image and foundation for what we hoped would be a new adventure.

On a personal note, the record label was named after my oldest daughter and I still have a copy of the CD to remember that little dream of creating a venture which, if successful, would be something she could work on with me when she was old enough. There are times that I look back on this and wished that it would have taken off so that I could have shared this with her.

I hope you enjoy a glimpse into my past life as a graphic artist as I revisit the stories behind the art.

Until next time…

© 2010

Related Post: Artwork: A Daughter’s Day; Artwork: The Story of “Night Fears”; The Original Trip;

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2010 in Artwork, General, Music

 

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