Two Movies: One to see, and one, not so much

This is the one to see:

It's the best Bond movie in a good long time. The new Bond isn't afraid to get his shirt dirty, or drown some ass in a bathroom sink, for that matter. I've seen it twice, once in a "regular" theater, and once in a "digital" theater. Between the two, the picture is not discernibly different, but the digital sound will blow your little mind. The clarity and depth is astonishing, and quite noticeable.

This is the one not to see:


The kids made us do it. A few months ago, actually. We got it from the Netflix, so luckily didn't spend money on sitting in a theater to watch it. Although the music is catchy in a poppy kind of way, the production values of this film are absolutely atrocious. I could hardly make it through the thing. But I did make it - unlike Napoleon Dynamite - I didn't make it through that at all.

But back to High School Musical. The audio levels and syncing between music (singing) and speech were so bad I just about couldn't make it. Failing grade for the post-production crew. Speaks poorly for them, as they are from Utah.

Now I hear that Disney liked it so much they've contracted to do the sequel here in Utah as well. I hope they get it right this time.


In My Email Box This Morning: Buy Nothing Day

So, 10 minutes after I post the previous comment, into my email box this little item nonchalantly arrives:

....As it turns out, the day after Thanksgiving in the United States is historically one of the busiest retail shopping days of the year, and is considered by many to be the “official” start of the Christmas holiday season. There are more circulars and advertising inserts promoting purchases for this specific day than any other day of the year, according to Media Week. Stores like Wal-Mart and Kmart open at 5AM and many stores stay open later than any other day of the year.

In response, the day after Thanksgiving has also become known as “Buy Nothing Day”, which is an informal day of protest against consumerism observed by social activists. Participants refrain from purchasing anything for 24 hours in a concentrated display of consumer power. The event is intended to raise awareness of what some see as the wasteful consumption habits of First World countries. Canadian Mennonites have endorsed it as a springboard to reviving the original meaning of Christmas giving.

In many ways, Buy Nothing Day has gathered a diversity of causes under one banner. It is now observed in 65 countries. BND has simultaneously become about protesting opulence, the corruption of Christmas, ecologically unsustainable products, corporatacracy, anti-Americanism, anti-establishment, pro-socialism, pro-Earth. Some find Buy Nothing Day empowering while others see it as unpatriotic. It has been written off as another form of “slactivism”, while still other critics of consumerism wonder why more Christians aren’t rallying behind the cause.

In my experience, most Mormons don’t like being told what causes to support and are wary of who they are getting into bed with, when they do engage in social action. Similarly, I’ve seen plenty of acrimonious debate about the uses, dangers and benefits of wealth.

In the end, Buy Nothing Day is perhaps a complex cause but particularly after a day of feasting and excess, I can’t help but wonder if Mormons would do well to stay home, avoid the crowds and contemplate how to start the Christmas season in a different and less consumeristic way.

A friend of mine who is LDS sent it to me, knowing how I feel about Black Friday... I don't know who wrote it, but I echo the sentiment. (My emphasis added.)

Dear Black Friday Shoppers

Dear Black Friday shoppers,

Instead of heading out the door at 5 AM Friday to give millions of dollars to companies who thoughtlessly bear down on the American worker and their families, why don't you take a moment and educate yourself and take a stand.

What is the season about anyway? To making sure to get absolutely everything you could possibly want? About beating the next guy in line? Send a message to Black Friday retailers and let them know you are a thinking person, and not a sheep. There is a reason that DVD player only costs you $66. Ask yourself why that is.

If you are one of those who goes to stand in line somewhere, then races with elbows flying to the shelves as soon as the doors open, even running ahead of those who were in line before you, well, you should be embarrassed for yourself.

Just sayin.


One more fizzled post: CARS

I started a post about how the "Big-Three" automakers went to Washington to meet with President Sock Puppet a week or so ago. They claimed they weren't axing for a bailout, but mentioned in the next breath that they had collectively lost BILLIONS in the last operating quarter alone.

Guys, if you're going to complain about Japanese currency exchange rates, etc., while generally producing garbage

it's called axing for a bailout.

How bout you fellers get on the ball and make something worth buying. All that retro design crap doesn't count for any new creativity either. What have you made that's NEW in the last 5 years?

97 Ford Taurus

2006 Ford Taurus

But I didn't post that one either.

Fizzled Posts: Brett Favre, OJ Simpson, Nintendo Wii

I started a post about how Brett Favre needs to retire. Brett, we love you, you'll never be forgotten. Forget about the record book - you're one of the two or three true iron-men of the sport. Dan Marino doesn't have a ring. Your legacy is intact. They'll probably name a small town after you. Just. Be. Done.

I started a post about how OJ Simpson needs a cranial douche, and how obvious it was that Fox would be the only network to agree to be the shill for his book. But then even THEY cancelled the promo interview, and now the publisher has decided not to publish the book. OJ, go sit on a beach somewhere, and let the sun warm your bad knees. I have a feeling we already know how it was done. Just. Go. Away.

I started a post about how much I hate the holiday retail season. I hate the morons who think they need to get out there at 4 AM Friday morning to get 1 of only 11 products in a store. I hate that Sony would send out only 200,000 units of a game when they promised to send out 4,000,000. (They should have put them all online and be done with it - but THAT doesn't produce the kind of media attention they are after, does it?) Anyone with a brain realizes that they are just trying to create value based on the demand. And we, the loyal Pavlovian consumers we are, will stand in line for days to be the first. Others of us will take the easy way out and resort to violence to get it instead. Shame on all you people who succumb to that whole game!

I started a post about how this season has turned into one of "getting" instead of "giving". It brings out the vast divide between the "haves" and the "have-nots". Which is the opposite of its intention. I hate that. It makes me feel like an over-used ATM machine. It's. Not. Right.

But I didn't post any of them. I've been too busy.

Because there STILL aren't enough calories in this week:

If you live in or around Salt Lake, you know what Banbury is.

If you live in or around Salt Lake, and DON'T know what Banbury is, you probably also think "Shaking Hands With The President" is, well, shaking hands with the president.


My Netflix - or - My Mailman

Received without contents.

You're telling ME.

Wrinkled paper doesn't play in my DVD player... maybe I need one of them-thar newfangled ones.


So They Say:

"They say" that when the Brahms violin concerto is played correctly, the strings of the violin under the bow become hot enough to burn you if you touch them.

We had a chance to see that (although NOT to test the theory) last weekend with the Utah Symphony. The violinist was Sarah Chang.

She played very well, and we did sit on the fourth or fifth row. It was an excellent concert. We were close enough to hear her breathing with the music, and to be able to see her facial expressions as she played. Her violin growled and sang as the score pitched and reeled from simple melodies to the titanic rumblings of fury and sadness inside the score.

The piece is stirring and shows the divine ability of Brahms to bring out and complement the counterpoint of full orchestra versus solo violin. It was all-round very good.

That piece also contains one of the longest oboe solos in classical music, and it was played beautifully.

When you sit in the middle, and fairly close, the stereophonic experience that is presented at your ears is truly a wonder, and it was nothing less than terrific. Incidentally, a few years ago, a company called AKG developed a recording/microphone system called the AKG Harry, where two very sensitive microphones were placed at the appropriate spots on a fake head, similar in density to an actual human head, in an effort to capture a more true representation of that experience in a recorded format. It has become a common and accepted practice today in orchestral recordings, and presents a very real recording to disc.

Interesting stuff.

The Determined Emptiness of Mind...

No, that's not how I feel, it's a quote from the theater production of Pride And Prejudice we saw last night. Yes, I went and got some "culturization" at the theater.

For most of the night, there were five people on stage. This is a picture of what I saw:

Actually, the bucket-head in front of me left at intermission - I guess his GIANT HEAD absorbed more culture in less time than the rest of us, and he decided he was cultured enough for one night. Lucky for me.

And, before you need to say it - I KNOW I have awesome paint skillzz. Eat your heart out, Kurt.


Borat Fallout

This just in:

Okay, not really just in, but kinda funny nonetheless...

Seems the Borat movie release has some of the participants a bit cranky. The are claiming that they were spoofed into appearing, or booking "Borat" to appear somewhere, only to be lampooned inthe movie.

The frat boys who appear in the movie have launched a lawsuit, and the person who booked him to appear on a morning news show, which also appears in the movie, got herself fired for booking his appearance.

No word yet from the Pamela Anderson camp. She was totally punked at a book signing she was doing, where Borat showed up, asking her to marry him.

Frat Boy Lawsuit here

Fired TV Producer here

See some clips from the movie here - some of the tamer ones anyway...

Now, I have work to do.

The Key to Business Success

One of my first real jobs (ie: post-college) was as a technical writer for a music equipment company. I was in charge of writing and maintaining user manuals for all their various hardware and software based equipment. I was also to develop a version tracking system for all this. It was pretty fun for me, because I was a user and supporter of the particular brands I was in charge of. As I progressed in that position, I was also asked to write marketing copy for the same brands.

As I moved into the marketing department to handle the writing and later, the design of marketing materials, I was tutored by a smart man, to whom I have referred on this blog before.

One of my first experiences with him was a meeting where he set out his objectives for me to accomplish. To this day, his best advice to me was to always put myself in a customer service position in whatever I was working on, whether it was graphic design, or writing copy, or whatever... he said the that only question I needed to answer every day was, "what will it do for ME?"

This has become valuable advice to follow for me through my career. He was a task master, and was VERY demanding. Whenever he looked at anything I produced, his first question to me was "what does it do for ME?" He encouraged me to talk to the sales reps in the field who were selling the gear to dealers, and also to talk to dealers themselves to see if our design and marketing was keeping up with the needs of our brands versus the other competitive brands that were out there. He MADE me be accessible to these people all the time, and he always wanted to know how we were stacking up to the competition from a marketing perspective.

Today, many years later, I now have a business that I try to position and market against competitors in the marketplace. Although the fields are very different, the question I ALWAYS ask myself, is "what will it do for me?"

The easier way to pose the question, is "why should I care about what you have to offer me?"

Whenever I send out anything to potential clients/customers, I try to determine if I have answered that question with a valid, concise, accurate, and beneficial proposition. I have gone back to the drawing board from time to time, based on the answer to that very question. It has generally served me well.

Over the last several months, I have applied that question as I have looked at politics, and other things too.

This question is the genesis of success in the business world. And politics is business too.

From a customer service perspective, if you don't pay attention to your audience, or if you fail to answer that very important question, you run the risk of ending up talking to a room full of chairs with no butts in the seats.

Apply that thought, now, to others in leadership positions, both in business and politics. If you have failed to bridge the gap between what you are offering me, the customer, and whether it benefits me at all, you will not be in business for long. This involves LISTENING, to a great extent, which is why that old wise boss of mine made me call those people regularly to ASK them if we were doing the right things for them.

Sometimes companies' leaders and elected officials forget to ask the question, and more importantly, forget to listen for the answer.

How does this happen?

Its interesting to watch different CEOs of different companies and how they deal with the issue of making customers happy. You can tell the ones that don't trust their products or services. They travel with big groups of people. There are advance teams to make sure everything is perfect. They bring security to places where their customers are families and kids. They protect themselves from any possible interactions, whether direct, phone or email by having secretaries filter everything, and they respond with form letters or assistants, if at all.

So what's the point here? It's this, if you don't offer any value in your proposition to me, you won't be successful for long. You might be for a while, but these days, that's an even shorter period than it used to be.

So, business leaders, elected officials, anyone who wants to be successful in life, ask the question, listen to the answer, and most importantly, take actions to make sure the two are symbiotic.

And that old boss? He's moved on from that VP job too... He now owns a successful music equipment business in California too.

Don't be an ASSHOLE

Sorry. But really, don't. Life is too short. This is a new book - looks interesting.

The easiest way to identify one:

It’s called the Starbucks Test. It goes like this: If you hear someone at Starbucks order a “decaf grande half-soy, half-low fat, iced vanilla, double-shot, gingerbread cappuccino, extra dry, light ice, with one Sweet-n’-Low and one NutraSweet,” you’re in the presence of an asshole. It’s unlikely that this petty combination is necessary—the person ordering is trying to flex her power because she’s an asshole.

I'm just sayin'.

Other than that, the top ten (plus two bonus) ways to identify a work-place asshole:

  1. Personal insults

  2. Invading one’s personal territory

  3. Uninvited personal contact

  4. Threats and intimidation, both verbal and non-verbal

  5. Sarcastic jokes and teasing used as insult delivery systems

  6. Withering email flames

  7. Status slaps intended to humiliate their victims

  8. Public shaming or status degradation rituals

  9. Rude interruptions

  10. Two-faced attacks

  11. Dirty looks

  12. Treating people as if they are invisible


Series: On My Hard Drive

Some of you know that I am a digger of the funky. This started several years ago when a co-worker introduced me to a "Funky Friday" radio show on a local access radio station. Back then is was full of this sort of stuff, but has since devolved into the host doing "shout-outs" sent in from people trying to make contact with loved ones in jail/prison. I kid you not. Too bad.

I have much funky on my hard drive. This is one of my favorites. Sly and the Family Stone were one of the best true funk bands, and Family Affair was one of their (many) bests. And you just can't help but move with the grove (baby).

The Paradox that is Utah, or, Let the Subpoenas Begin

Spending the last couple of weeks digesting the happenings on the nation-stage, as well as the local, I've noted (with a fair amount of disgust) that Utah has succeeded in further insulating itself from "mattering" again, and will probably remain so for a long time to come.

While the Grand Old Party got a national ass-kicking this week, we saw several Utah Republicans proclaiming it was "good to be a Republican in Utah today..."

Ummm, what planet are you people from, anyway???

While the GOP was given an eviction notice nationally, we sent the same crew back for another round. We sent a congressman, widely reported to be the third most corrupt politician in DC, back for another round of currying favor with friends, relatives, and general ne'r do wells. We endorsed (even to the endorser's chagrin) a Senator to go back to DC, ostensibly to take the Chairmanship of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, so he could "bring home the bacon for Utah." (which he now will not be doing, inspite of winning 2-1 over the challenger.)

More broadly, while the national spotlight fell on some who don't mind mixing Church and State, we swallowed it all as laise faire politics, and were happy to do it.

The vast majority of people in this state went to the polls and cast their votes and blindly signed up for more of the same. Without paying attention to the whole, their votes were even more useless than in the past, because they have now sent a bunch of cronies back there, but now in the minority seats. The only pork they'll pull from there is... well, ... (insert your own off-color punch line here).

At this point, Hatch's sole useful purpose is now as the GOP's ATM cash machine.

The only bright spot for Utah: the confirmed election (I don't say "re-election" here, because he was appointed) of State Senator Scott McCoy to the Utah house. That's a great show that even though somebody might not live their life the way some of the rest of us do, they still have a voice, and are fully capable of being the advocate for the entire group of people he represents. We have three openly "alternate lifestyle" state legislators. What a great realization that is. Too bad McCoy wasn't running head to head with that uber-bigot Sock Puppet Buttars.

And speaking of the state race issues, lest you think this state ISN'T run by big money Real Estate development, I draw your attention to the election of Lohra Miller over Sim Gill. Her comments on Channel 2 the other night were downright disengenuous and moreover, LIES. I said it here first: this is not going to go well.

And because I have neither the time nor the skill to do it myself, I draw your attention to the comments made by U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK), released yesterday and published over on Instapundit. This is how it should go, and if any republicans who DID manage to get their butts relected are paying attention, they will fall in line with this exact sentiment:

“Some have said that Republicans and Democrats now need to govern from the middle. I disagree. We do not need to govern from the center as much as we need to govern from conscience. When politicians have the courage to argue their convictions and lose their political lives in an honest battle of ideas the best policies will prevail."

You should go and read the entire statement. It is insightful, generally non-partisan, and shows a solid roadmap back to effective government and competent leadership.

Math in the Morning:


A x K = T(k)


A - Age, in years
K - Kids, as in, number of..

T - Thinned hair, to the power of K, number of kids.

I'm just sayin.

The Blessed Event

This appears, in some form or another, about once a week on the driveway to our parking lot, about 30 feet from our door.

I was making this same observation to my partner the other day, and he noted that it was likely perpetrated by clients of mine, every time they leave our office.

He laughed. I did not.


As the NBA season begins....

it's that time again... the beginning of the NBA season. I like this time of year, because the NFL has sifted the winners from the losers, and you can tell which games are worth watching and which ones aren't - and there are compelling stories to follow, like how the (very bad) Miami Dolphins seem to like spoiling the hopes of teams looking to run the table... etc. There's only one unbeaten team left now, and we know who to watch.

The same is said of college football - it's interesting this year though, because between teams ranked 13th to about 27th, the teams aren't really an different, but you know who to watch and who to pass on.

Now we start the process of doing the same thing with the NBA. As with every year, the NBA has started a nice shiny new marketing campaign. This year's campaign, I find, is filled with paper statements that don't hold ANY water with people who know and watch basketball.

The campaign this time around shows several of the league's stars' highlight film bits, big dunks, lots of noise. We're talking about guys like Tracy McGrady, The Lebron, Kevin Garnett, etc... the big men. Then we cut to them sitting in the dressing room, saying things like, "I fooled you", or "you thought it was all about me.." the commercial ends up with them saying, "it takes five to win."

Sorry, I'm not buyin' what you're sellin', NBA front-office. You have changed the game so that, on almost every team, there are players who get away with crimes, both on AND off the court, you put up with their crybaby antics, forays into the stands, childish contract disputes, performance enhancing drug use, gang affiliations, violent selfish behavior. You allow your coaches and referees to put up with antics that wouldn't be allowed in any other professional sport (except football - another story for another day).

You have a group of 20-30 (or more) players whose sole purpose is to show-boat, make poster dunk shots, behave badly, and get paid as much money as humanly possible, so they can get their "crib" on MTV.

They are about the "give me the ball, and get out of the way, and take your man with you, so I can make a stunning dunk that will live on forever as a poster." And you even allow this idea to be fostered at the college level.

You (NBA) can't tell me it's about the team until you take the measures that prove to me it's true. Until then, don't bother telling me one thing, and then allowing the opposite to flourish.

And speaking of the US&A...

We saw the Borat over the weekend.

I'm still not sure what to say here about it though.

I do know I saw some things I probably wouldn't have chosen to see though. Like a buck-naked 380-pound man running full-tilt through a packed hotel conference center.

Among other things.

And from the other side: www.stopborat.com

Thank you for your interest. We hope you are not part of Borat conspiracy against Kazakhstan. We will not become a William Hung for the international community!


One. We demand personal apology from Queen Elizabeth II for the humiliation upon our nation caused by British funnyman Sacha Baron Coen. Furthermore, Prince Charles and Camilla must pay an official visit to Kazakhstan. Camilla is much popular with Kazakh people. What Princess Diana was to the West, and Marylin Monroe is to Uzbekistan, princess Camilla is to Kazakhstan - and more. Kazakh men put up her colour pinups in truck and tractor, and Kazakh women go for Camilla look. You will see Camilla photo in many a yurta.

Second: We want to know secret of Camilla's beauty.

Three: We are willing to negotiate peace with Neville Chamberlain

Kazakhstanis Against Borat

P.S. We have nice daughter, you are maybe single westerner with much financial goods

My Netflix

As regular readers here are aware (yes, both of you), I am bullish on the Netflix. I really like it as a 24 month investment, and more importantly, I really like the service.

We've been netflixers for about 24 months now. Maybe longer. A little more than a year ago, there was a class-action suit filed that claimed their advertising was misleading. The early marketing claimed that you could get as many movies as you want, a certain number at a time, "shipped to you the next day."

The suit claimed that their service was in fact NOT next day, because their distribution was not very mature, and often your movies came from some far-away place, making your return on investment (the customer "happy-dance"), a little hard to come by.

As a result of the suit, the company was spurred to dramatically increase the investment in distribution. Luckily, we got a fairly large distribution center here in Salt Lake, and we've been pretty darn happy with the service overall.

A couple of weeks ago, though, we were fretting the fact that we were waiting a long time for the next set of movies (actually, in this case, TV series discs). The site said they were shipped, but they were about three days longer than it typically takes to get to our house.

When the two items in question finally arrived, we noticed that one was from, of all places, Ankorage, Alaska, and the other was from Honolulu, Hawaii. We had a pretty good laugh at that, given the fact that the printed stuff on the return envelope states:

TO: Nearest Netflix Shipping Facility,
Ankorage, AK

We wondered if the entire US&A had been eliminated overnite, without our knowing about it.


Damn well said:

In response to the Salt Lake Tribune's short-sighted and irresponsible endorsement of Orrin Hatch, written by Pete Ashdown:

Seniority does not serve America. Seniority serves the interests of senior politicians. While public education is crumbling, our ports and borders are no more secure than they were on 9/11, our veterans ignored, and millions suffer and die without regular health care, I am ashamed that pork takes priority over fundamental need. It is with pleasure that I pledge to destroy the seniority system to return a balance of government interest to the people and help level the playing field for fair elections.

Orrin Hatch claims you should vote for him because of seniority. He states the Democrats are weak on security, that he is fiscally conservative and committed to small government. That in spite of obstructionist Democrats, only he displays the leadership which can serve Utah.

Where is Senator Hatch’s concern for national security when he displayed more self-promotion than national protection by spilling the details of secret intelligence monitoring of Osama bin Laden within hours of the attacks on September 11th? I do not believe the Republican nor the Democratic party has a desire for weak security, but Senator Hatch has demonstrated he is a security risk all on his own.

Where is the fiscal responsibility when Senator Hatch does not show restraint in securing a lavish $100 million for an expansion to the Utah Federal Courthouse? This is a project which will literally move a building across a street, raze a popular nightspot “Port o’ Call”, and replace a characteristic portion of Salt Lake’s downtown with an enormous “Justice Cube” eyesore. Expensive, out of place, and useless, this will be an appropriate tribute to pork and the Senator who secured it.

Where is Senator Hatch’s leadership when he begs Utahns to petition the Bureau of Land Management to keep nuclear waste out of Utah? True leadership does not require thousands of citizen letters to communicate the obvious. Last I checked, Congress was in charge of the BLM and not the other way around.

I do not require 30 years to get traction in Washington. In Orrin Hatch’s first term, this country grappled with many of the same problems we confront today. Energy prices, Mid-East turmoil, terrorism, child predators, and education were all primary concerns in 1976 as they are today in 2006. Why has Hatch’s mantra of “18 years is long enough” been extended to a need for 36? Who, but those elected representatives who have legislated through the past five administrations, should take responsibility for today’s crushing debt, imbalanced budgets and global instability?

According to Senator Hatch, the Democrats are to shoulder all of the blame for his inability to resolve America’s problems. I reach out to all Utahns, regardless of their political beliefs, and it is in the spirit of bringing our country together, that I set about to solve this nation’s gravest problems. Blaming his ineffectiveness on Democratic obstructionism does nothing except highlight his continual demonization of anyone who does not hold the same philosophy as he.

For every failure, there is opportunity. I have a plan for a better America and I have been executing it throughout this campaign. I have demonstrated how I will hold myself and the government accountable to the people. I have displayed the ability and the commitment to secure consensus and advice. I am committed to fiscal conservatism, limited government, and constitutional respect.

I have a vision for the future of our nation. Senator Hatch questioned me on the need for rapid rail throughout rural America in a recent debate. According to his opinion, it is too hard and too expensive. Thank goodness this man wasn’t in charge when we built the intercontinental railway, dammed the Colorado river, split the atom, established highways, and went to the moon. America desperately needs new vision and the leadership to execute it.

Barack Obama has been heralded as a new star in the Senate and is already under consideration for the presidency. All this in his FIRST term. Utah has an opportunity with this race that no amount of seniority can justify passing up. I pray the electorate will give careful consideration to what I stand for, my character, and what I have already done for Utah.