Friday, May 26, 2006

Seattle, So Far.

Ahhh. Seattle. Fresh air. Beautiful scenery. Extremely friendly homeless people. I've been here a few days now and it's been great. One of the assignments I'm freelancing on is Tower Records. I'm happy about that, since I kind of owe them one.

When I was young (very young), I used to shoplift from Tower quite a bit. The first few years I went there, I didn't even know they had cash registers. Ultimately, I got caught. My downfall was Paul Simon's Negotiations and Love Songs 1971-1986.

They nabbed me, took me into the back, photographed me, and banned me from returning. It was humiliating. I mean come on, Paul Simon? On cassette no less. Pitiful.

Hopefully I can repay them by delivering great work for their brand. And kids, if you're reading this, learn from my mistakes - Don't steal from Tower Records! Steal from their competition.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Off to Seattle, then back home for a SPANKING!

I'm leaving today for Seattle. I'll be there for about two weeks to freelance at Sedgwick Rd., an agency that's done some really cool work, including this effort to keep kids from smoking. I'm looking forward to working with them, and to hanging out with one of my best friends, whom I rarely get to see since he moved out there a few years ago.


Pick a Sin and Swing for the Fences
was a sketch comedy show I co-wrote with a bunch of talented folks from the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. The show had a four week run at UCB, and I had a lot of fun not only writing for it, but performing in a couple of the sketches as well. We've all been invited back to perform highlights from the show at SPANK, a weekly UCB show where acts get reviewed for even longer runs. Cool!

One of the skecthes I wrote, Baby Name Famous, looks like it'll be in the lineup. It centers around a Hollywood agent who believes the true sign of celebrity is how many people name their babies after you, and he works tirelessly to achieve that level of success for his clients. Come check it out on June 5th, 8PM.

Electric Avenue.

If you're an Oak, Maple, or PIne tree, happen to be the son or daughter of an urban planner, or do something like free the slaves, you stand a good chance of getting a street named after you. There are however, more tragic ways to achieve such immortality.

On January 16th, 2004, a young woman named Jodie was walking her dogs along 11th Street in the East Village, when she stepped on a Con Edison metal service-box cover. The wiring underneath had been stripped of its insulation, and she was electrocuted by the current running through to the cover. In remembrance, the city named a portion of the street after her. Oddly enough, her last name was Lane.

If your last name is Lane (or Street, Boulevard, Service Road, etc.) and a street gets named after you, I say that's what you should get - a Lane (or Street, Boulevard, Service Road, etc.). Do we really need the "Place"? We GET IT, you've got a steet named after you. Jeez.

For a more moving tribute, click here.

Friday, May 19, 2006

A Cartoon Network.

Gorillaz is the first "virtual hip-hop group," only appearing publicly in animated form. I'm a fan of their music, which has blended the talents of members of Blur, Cibo Mato, and Tom Tom Club.

What I especially like is when Gorillaz is represented alongside other pop icons, like here on Yahoo's home page. It makes "artists" like Black Eyed Peas and Shakira look like the cartoons they really are as well.

Eat a Monkey! You're on Candid Camera!

I'm sure many people have heard this story, and no doubt jokes to go along with it: Bears at Amsterdam zoo eat monkey in front of horrified visitors. It reminds me of Chris Rock's take on people thinking the Siegfried & Roy tiger went "crazy" when it attacked Roy - "that tiger didn't go crazy, that tiger went tiger!" This bear was just being a bear.

These folks were horrified at witnessing the brutal truth of nature, yet their sensibilities weren't offended when they ponied up cash to gawk at wild animals forced to live behind bars? Hmmmm.

We should take a lesson from these bears. They got fed up being content with the kibbles they were being thrown and exerted their bear-ness. What if humans started demanding to be treated more like humans? What if we started breaking free from the cubicles, eschewing the grade-D fast food passed out at feeding time, and jumped the confines of organized religion's dictums of what's right and wrong?

Bears, you keep on eating monkeys. You're an inspiration to us all.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

And Iran. Iran so far away.

Okay, so maybe Iran is developing nuclear weapons. But they've also got a very helpful fellow named Aideen NasiriShargh over there, so it seems like a wash. Who's Aideen NasiriShargh? He created PsycHo, a free and easy to use web-based application allowing Blogger users to create highly customized blog templates.

Not only has this guy distributed an awesome program for free, he's incredibly helpful. I had a couple of "tweaks" which I couldn't figure out how to make, since I'm no HTML-head. He answered my emails right away, and one time, went as far as placing the revised code into my template for me. So, if you use Blogger, and you want to change your template, give it a try. If you're thinking of starting a blog using Blogger, make it one of your first stops for sure.

An added bonus is he can help you in Farsi, if that happens to be your language of choice.

Monday, May 15, 2006

USA Today, indeed.

I recently followed a link taking me to a USA Today article on how Americans felt about the government collecting information on them. (I figured I should mention I followed a link, lest you think I actually navigated to such a crap site on my own). Here's the article (click pics for larger views):

Anyway, for more detailed "news," I clicked on the bullet labeled: "gathering data may not violate privacy rights, but it could be illegal." I was then greeted by this window:

Is it just me, or is it getting ironic in here?

Tips for Terrorists.

This administration's efforts to eavesdrop and carry out surveillance upon millions of Americans is outrageous. Not so much because it's a direct violation of our privacy and rights, but because it seems pointless. If it wound up producing any useful information to keep us safer, what would they do with it? If history is any guide, nothing.

These are the same folks who ignored memos detailing Al Queda's goals to fly commuter planes into skyscrapers, paid no attention to reports New Orleans' levees wouldn't hold in a major hurricane, and dismissed international intelligence that Iraq had no WMDs. So, even if wiretapping Americans produced direct evidence of terrorist plots, they'd most likely do nothing with it anyway.

To try and prove my theory, I'm starting a series here on my blog called Tips for Terrorists. Here I'll post tips terrorists can use to help with their missions. If the government doesn't do anything to stop information useful to terrorists being openly shared on the web, then what good is all this surveillance? Granted,
this is a fairly obscure blog, but it should be easier to find than clues nestled amongst nationwide phone records. Okay, here's the first tip:

- Boomerangs are horrible delivery systems for Anthrax.

There. Please feel free to use the "comments" section to add your own tips. Recipes for terrorists will also be accepted. Onward.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Plants are stupid. Travel agents aren't too far behind.

Photo taken at Liberty Travel, corner of 18th and 3rd, NYC. Click pic to enlarge.

I saw this while walking past a local travel agency. It looks as if the plant is growing across the desk, over some promotional sign, and onto a chair, all in an effort to try and join its foliage friends along the beach. Dumb plant. It doesn't know it's just a poster.

I thought the whole spectacle was worth a photo. When I stopped in and asked if I could take a picture, the woman at the travel agency was more than happy to oblige:

"May I take a picture of your plant?"

"Sure. It's beautiful, isn't it?

"What's beautiful?"

"The plant display. I put it up a few weeks ago. I'm so glad you like it. Isn't it beautiful?"

"Uhh. Yeah."

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Crazy Train.

Here's a great "only in New York" moment my friend, Damian Chadwick, captured with his cell phone camera. It's a video where two deranged subway riders engage in an apparent "crazy off" to see who gets the right to address the car. Place your bets, will it be "Orgasm Man" or "Evangelical Preacher"?

Make sure to scroll down and read the comments at the bottom for a transciption of their ramblings, since the audio's kinda poor.

The video resides on Damian's blog. He and I perform together in the improv comedy group, CARGO CULT. We had our second NYC show last night. Hopefully, they'll be more Cargo Cult news down the line. In the meantime, if you're interested in what a Cargo Cult is, click here.

Friday, May 12, 2006

At least it's not based on some Disney cartoon.

I've never seen Rent, but it bugs me. Based upon Puccini's LaBoheme, this Broadway show portrays the lives of starving artists living in NYC's East Village (the neighborhood I currently live in).

I've overheard tourists, who've traveled from all over the world to NYC, talk about having seen this show. But I doubt they'll ever venture to the neighborhoods where the struggling artists this show depicts live and work - areas and artists which could really use tourist patronage. Why do these folks get dressed up in their best matching track suits, and come all the way here, just to see a sanitized version of - well - here?

Worse though, are those living in this neighborhood who are into this show. "Let's go from the East Village, to Broadway, to see a show about the East Village." Given our culture's fascination with ourselves, I imagine the next big Broadway hit will be INTERMISSION, THE MUSICAL. At show's break, people will mill around the bar commenting on how realistic it all seems. "God! I love this show! The way they ordered drinks - it's just like the way we just ordered drinks! Why aren't there more dramatic interpretations about people just like us, living in the here and now? We're fascinating."

Monday, May 08, 2006

Are they trying to tell us something?

Pharmaceutical companies fostering a nation of prescription addicts. More and more Americans having to go uninsured. The FDA's refusal to acknowledge marijuana's health benefits (while legalizing drugs like Vioxx which have been known to cause great damage). It's as if the medical industry is coming right out and telling us how much they're screwing folks.

Photo taken at corner of 5th and A, East Village, NYC

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Greenspan on White on Pink.

One of my favorite photographers, Charlie White, has recently branched out into film. His latest effort is a short for Adidas where his unique ability to merge beauty and horror is put to use in full force.

Adidas' service, Adicolor, allows sneakers to be color customized. To promote this, they asked different artists to each interpret a particular color through film. Below is Charlie White's take on Pink.

Some have argued "How is this an ad? You don't even see any Adidas sneakers in it at all." Exactly. The type of people who follow Charlie White's work, are generally early adopters of services like Adicolor. They're much more likely to feel warmly about a brand which supports, and gives free reign to, artists of their liking. When they see work like this, they'll seek out who was behind it, visit the Adidas website, and tell their friends.
It all culminates in a feeling of discovery, which is much more emotional than the feeling one gets being spoken down to via a liar's medium like television.

By hailing the magnificence of color instad of their own logo and shoe, Adidas' color customization service seems to come from a company that's putting their money where their mouth is (literally) in regards to the importance of color in our lives. They appear as a company with a point of view, rather than one just chasing fads. I believe Adidas' target audience will reward them by spreading the brand's word on their own. I guess this post is proof of that. Gee, I'm a sucker huh?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

(S)omebody (N)o (L)ikey.

Recently, I was sent this Saturday Night Live cartoon clip from a friend. It was shown only once (and only on the East Coast). By the time SNL aired in the other time zones, it had been edited out, never to be broadcast again. NBC has been pretty successful in keeping it off mainstream internet video sources like YouTube as well.

This clip was recorded off television, and what I particularly like is how the NBC peacock "logo slug" is on screen during the whole thing. To me, what's really sad/funny is this aired in 1998. It could have been written today.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Obsessive Compuzzle.

Hello. Welcome to my first blog post. As far as introductions go, this little story should be as good as any, since it gives some insight into who I am.

I used to live in San Francisco, near the crest of Nob Hill (a really big hill, even by San Francisco standards). To catch the bus to Sausalito (where I worked) I had to trek up the rest of the hill, then down the other side. One day on the way to work, I noticed a single puzzle piece lying face-down in the street. As I passed it I wondered, what's a single puzzle piece doing in the street? Where are the rest of the pieces? How did it get there? Is someone just finishing a thousand-piece puzzle now being taunting by an empty space?

I should mention I, along with most of the males in my family, have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). This was before I was on meds keeping it under control, so I was consumed with puzzle piece thoughts. Especially, what picture was on the other side of it? Forgetting about my bus, even though I had just finished the ten minute walk to the bus stop, I went back up the steep hill towards the piece.

Turning it over revealed it was no ordinary piece. It was a key piece. Imagine putting this puzzle together: Sky. Sky. Sky. Sky. Sky. Tree! Finally, tree! Such a special piece, just cast into the gutter.

I thought it had all the elements of a great landscape painting for a tiny apartment: fluffy white clouds on the lower left side, blue sky, and of course, a tree. New York City apartments being the size they are, this piece of "found art" has taken up residence in mine.