Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Personal Perspective: What's On The Box Could Be What's Inside... Depending On The Direction You're Holding It

There are so many products introduced every day that some things can just slide out from under out noses. They come in a nice and shiny box that catches the eye of the consumer and makes them feel the need that they must have this thing instead of the others in the same rack or shelf. If the product hooks you at the right moment, it's like a psiren's call and you just can't look away without buying it.

This idea leads me to the sight that I had at a local Tower Records this afternoon. I stopped by on my way home from work to just take a quick peek if something had come out. While scanning the new release rack, I was surprised to see that the film TRANSAMERICA had already been released on DVD. It seemed like it was in the local art house theatres even into this month so I didn't think I'd be seeing it on the shelves already. The cover of the DVD box even caught my eye. It is a lenticular cover, where you pivot the case back and forth and the image changes. There was a little shock in my own mind that they would go to the trouble to spend that kind of money on a DVD case for this film.

Then I picked it up and saw what the images chosen were.

The main image was of her from the film. As a transexual (male to female), she has a female look with seeming male mannerisms in the way that she holds herself. Then I switched to the other image... which looks like a photo from her day job, namely the show Desperate Housewives.

It really startled me that they would do such a thing as a way to entice the buying public to purchase this DVD. While I haven't seen the film, I really think that the "regular" look is not one that is on display in the film. It's the first image that goes through the whole film and I'd think that that would be the image to have on front of the box.

Then there came a second realization. As I walked around the store, I noticed all of the "On Sale May 23" promo stuff and that bothered feeling came right back. Every one of the promo posters, end cards, folded displays and many other versions of the same advertising all had one thing in common - a promo for the TRANSAMERICA DVD with the "regular looking" photo as the cover. They were all that way.

Now I can sort of see that they might have thought they needed to find a way to entice the normal viewer that might not have heard of the film to want to purchase it but this just feels really underhanded to me. You have this film and it's lead actress that had the balls to bring this story to the movie screen and then you go and cheapen it with this way of trying to play it safe with the imagined Middle America.
Senility Comes Compliments Of Your Local Television Affiliate

Pat Robertson's Age-Defying Shake

Did you know that Pat Robertson can leg-press 2000 pounds! How does he do it?

Where does Pat find the time and energy to host a daily, national TV show, head a world-wide ministry, develop visionary scholars, while traveling the globe as a statesman?

One of Pat's secrets to keeping his energy high and his vitality soaring is his age-defying protein shake. Pat developed a delicious, refreshing shake, filled with energy-producing nutrients.

Discover what kinds of natural ingredients make up Pat's protein shake by registering for your FREE booklet today! (Click Here)

Ummm... I'm not sure Pat has his numbers straight since leg-pressing that much weight would be a world's record for someone his age. You'd think that he'd want to use that talent to get into The Olympics or something but he's probably too busy propping up his own ego. Case in point...

Pat Robertson Predictions
Evangelist Says God Told Him Tsunami Might Hit U.S. This Year

In another in a series of notable pronouncements, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson says God told him storms and possibly a tsunami will hit America's coastline this year.

Robertson has made the predictions at least four times in the past two weeks on his news-and-talk television show "The 700 Club" on the Christian Broadcasting Network, which he founded.

Robertson said the revelations about this year's weather came to him during his annual personal prayer retreat in January.

"If I heard the Lord right about 2006, the coasts of America will be lashed by storms," Robertson said May 8. On Wednesday, he added, "There well may be something as bad as a tsunami in the Pacific Northwest."

Robertson has come under intense criticism in recent months for suggesting that American agents should assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine retribution for Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip. (Click Here)

Criswell predicts!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

iTunes Owns My Soul... When It's Not Doing Things To Irritate Me

Things That I Love About iTunes

Make Your Own KTel Record: As a young child of the very late 70s and early 80s, I remember back to the years of the KTel Records corporation and the odd mix albums that they would make. It seemed like every month would be a new album of songs combined together like some Rorscharch pinata. You'd be guarenteed of a couple hits being thrown together with some wannabes and several neverbes. With the amount of songs from that time period available for purchase, you can now make your own version of the great mix albums of the past.

Helping To Actually Save Me Money: The Red Hot Chili Peppers released their latest album a couple weeks ago. I heard the first single and really liked it so I had good thoughts about the whole thing. The release of the 2CD set made me kind of rethink buying the whole thing. While most of the RHCP's albums are pretty solid, the possibilities of a double length one just made me twitchy. On the morning that the album was released, I did a quick run through all of the songs and only bought 4 out of all of the available songs. I might be proven wrong by later single releases but I am very happy to be able to buy parts of CDs and not the whole thing.

Things That I Hate About iTunes

Making Previews By Brail: It always amazes me to hear some of the preview clips of the songs for purchase. A logical person would think that you'd want to go with a good part of a song, like the chorus or maybe a really nice part from the opening. Spend some time looking for songs and you'll start to run into some of the most random choices of previews you'll ever hear. I really don't think a clip that is most of the guitar solo of a song is a really good way to chose if you want to buy a song or a whole album.

Parts Is Parts: While most of the songs available for purchase are ready to go, there seems to be an odd need to put up partial versions of some albums. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of rhyme or reason for this shortening practice. You'll get an album missing a track or three and then find a greatest hits collection by the artist that has those songs. If you can go through the work to put the songs from the collection up for purchase, what is so hard about doing the same with the original album?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

News Of the Week

* done a little early due to time constraints *

German 'Robin Hoods' give poor a taste of the high life

A gang of anarchist Robin Hood-style thieves, who dress as superheroes and steal expensive food from exclusive restaurants and delicatessens to give to the poor, are being hunted by police in the German city of Hamburg.

This begs the question of what kind of powers a German superhero would have. And, from what the story says, these people just give the stuff to the poor. Now they might get lucky and find someone who knows how to build a fire to cook something like the kobe beef that some guy dressed up in tights and a mask handed him, but I'd be kind of worried that there are some homeless people in Germany that are eating all of their food raw. Then again maybe it's all about beef tartar...

LA man denied Mother's Day giveaway sues Angels baseball team

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP)
- A Los Angeles man who was denied a red nylon tote bag during a Mother's Day promotion at an Angels baseball game has filed a sex and age discrimination lawsuit against the team.

As someone who has been to a couple baseball games on promotion days, I can definately say that there is a good chance that you can find anything given out if you look under enough seats. It happens more on the kid related promos but you'll still get at least one or two people that set whatever cheap trinket they were handed down on the ground and then proceded to forget all about it. This guy just needs to learn some foraging techniques...

Report: Whirlwind lifts girl 25 feet

TRENTON, North Dakota (AP)
-- Swirling wind swept a trampoline into the air and over a fence as a 4-year-old girl was jumping on it, knocking her unconscious and breaking her arm and pelvis, witnesses told police.

I want to see David Blaine pull off something like this girl did. All he did was paddle around in a giant version of a snow globe. This girl trampolined into mid air... and I tease because she survived. I'm not that insensitive.

At strip clubs, hip-hop is big business

NEW YORK (Billboard)
- It's no longer just the hardworking women who make money at strip clubs. These late-night hangouts, with their booming sound systems and gender-mixed crowds, have become big business for the record industry, particularly for hip-hop labels.

"Strip clubs have become the main breaking place for records, especially in the South," says Jermaine Dupri, president of urban music for Virgin Records.

"There is no sex in the Champagne Room," as Chris Rock tends to say. I guess this helps the excuses when people get found out for going to a strip club. They can just say they went there to hear that new song everyone was talking about. There just happened to a naked woman dancing around and flaunting her naughty bits in your general direction but that is not why you went there.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

What Is In A Name? Apparently Too Much Creativity

There has been some developments in an aspect of new product development that is starting to get a little out of hand. I am speaking of the names that companies are choosing for their stuff. Maybe we've used up all of your standard names but it's turning into an epidemic of oddly named things being advertised for mass consumption.

The first time I really noticed this was when it was announced that Nintendo had chosen a name for it's upcoming third generation console. Throughout the whole development period and into the initial promotion, the system was going by it's inhouse code name of "Revolution". Now I thought that this was actually a pretty smart and snappy title for a console that looks to have the amount of new technology and new ideas that all of the specs and photos seem to show. This wasn't good enough for Nintendo so they decided to announce the official name for it.


No... Really. That is the name. It's pronounced like the word we though I'm always feeling the urge to say "Weeeeeeeeeeee!" whenever I have to say the name. The explanation given is that they wanted to have a name that is all inclusive and inviting for gamers of every age. That is all well and good but I have to call at least a yellow card on the name just being odd. Creativity does not negate a name that sounds and looks like that.

Fastforward to this morning and me in my car as I drive to work. A radio commercial for 7-11 comes on advertising their new food product and it just didn't sound right. I kept hearing the word pizza but the announcer seemed to be not saying it right. The description of the sandwich product, 'slices of pizza flatbread with cheese and pepperoni substitute for bread slices, and are filled with deli meats, cheeses and spreads', didn't sound like any kind of pizza to me. After the morning rush, I took a quick run by the 7-11 site to see what this thing is called. My answer?


Maybe their computer keyboard got stuck while they were trying to come up with a name or something because that name just seems a little too creative to me. I'll give you the creative use of 'Eat' in the middle but the double capital Zs just knock it right back again.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

It's All About Perspective

I'm kind of torn on the whole should we or shouldn't we celebrate when Barry Bonds passes Babe Ruth on the home run totals ladder. You think about all of the stories and innuendo that is swirling around this one person right now and it must be an insane way to live a life. Throw in all of the media there to cover the whole thing and it's a zoo of microphones and portable spotlights.

When I first heard the news stories about how Major League Baseball wasn't going to do the "special marked ball" thing that they do around records like this and that the Commisioner made a statement saying that he would not be at the games to congratulate Bonds, I kind of felt like this was just a way for MLB to continue a hands off approach when it comes to the topic of this man. It probably would be a little suspect to have a little moment of handshakes and photo-ops only to have an inditment for perjury come down the next day. The ownership side of baseball is giving this story a wide bearth to avoid getting any of it's assorted messes on their own nice suits.

After a little bit of thought, my feelings changed to something a little more understanding of what the MLB is thinking. When he passes Babe Ruth, that will place Barry Bonds at #2 in all time home run totals. There doesn't tend to be a very big hullabaloo when it comes to someone moving up to second place. I've heard the arguements about how much of a name "Babe Ruth" is to people and how that name and persona is kind of synominous in people's minds with baseball. History and name recognition of the combatants aside, all that is happening is two rungs on the ladder of home run immortality are being switched. Bonds hasn't reached the top rung and it's starting to look like he won't make it to the top, but there will still be Hank Aaron at the top and looking down at everyone in baseball below him. Barry Bonds included.

This is one of those odd discussions that can go either way. If you look from one end of the telescope, the view is similar but different than when you checked out the same thing from the other end. On the one hand you have this player reaching a large milestone in his playing career. On the other you have a player that has possibly knowingly cheated (though the exact definition of that cheating is an arguement for another time) and lied about it to everyone including a grand jury. It seems like Major League Baseball as a whole is just going to take a big pass on any kind of celebration because they still don't know which end of the telescope they're looking through.
Sony Works With The Gas Companies

For those of you that don't tend to follow the video gaming industry, the next couple of days are the E3 Convention. This is the major gaming extravaganza on the North American continent and, next to the Tokyo Gaming Show, quite possibly the biggest kind of event in the industry. This is where the big debuts are made, be it a console, game, or peripheral. It's all about making a statement here to start the promo wheels rolling.

This promotional avalanche tends to start the day before the actual beginning of the convention with Sony's big event. They invite all of the gaming press, members of the companies that develop games for their system, and random contest winners that they can force into the building and make a PlayStation orgy out of the whole thing. It's like a cross between a rock concert and a product event.

Sony held their 2006 event last night and something caught my eye. And no, it's not the fact that they aren't going to go with the boomerang shaped wireless controller. My attention went to the prices of their new hardware, the PlayStation 3.

The generic version with the 20GB hard drive? $499.
The advanced version with the 60GB hard drive? $599.

It could just be me but this sounds to me like a pricing point made by people who run the gas companies. The gas prices always tend to end in 9s so they can say that they are pricing their product less than the competition. Those projected prices read to me like the people at Sony don't want to admit that they could be charging $500 for the basic model.

Depending on the competitions pricing, there is a good chance that you could buy a marked down XBox360 (There are rumours of this happening around the PS3 release date) and Nintendo's new console, the Wii (pronounced wee), for what you'd be paying just for one PS3. Is Sony on the verge of pricing themselves out of their own market kingdom?