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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Are You Ready For the Zombie Apocalypse?

Warning! I am obligated to mention that this article is solely for entertainment purposes. As far as I know there is no Zombie Apocalypse at this time. Were this indeed a Zombie Crisis, the usual sarcastic piece you are about to enjoy would be replaced with actual instructions for you to follow in order to survive. This is only a post…

With the legalities out of the way, I have to pass along my thoughts after reading Max Brooks’ The Zombie Survival Guide. Yes, the book was published in 2003, but I’ve read three books since college and that was 15 years ago. If you get a chance pick up this book. It’s an easy read. It got me to thinking, though, as we head further into the recession. “This book makes a lot of sense.” I mean you could totally substitute zombies for anything like pandemic, economic collapse, robots….kidding. While, it reads like a mock survival handbook it offers a lot of good tips for any survivalist. One great thing is that Brooks treats this as science and not science fiction. There is a truly logical explanation for the appearance of zombies and it’s neither supernatural or extraterrestrial. Like I said, the book got me to thinking about how we could end up in a parallel situation and I thought, “What a great television show this would make.”

Now, I’ve thought long and hard about a potential zombie movie as has probably any novice filmmaker in the Southwestern Pennsylvania area. We are home to the Evans City Cemetery and Monroeville Mall, which were locations for Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, respectively. Pretty much every zombie movie deals with an infection back story and subsequent breakdown in society. Survivors make costly mistakes that lead to further infection and reanimation and usually zombies are great for moral object lessons about society.

Get your own BRAINS shirt
from Mongo Angy! Mongo Smash! on cafepress.
Strange we can believe in.

My own movie would actually start after the outbreak and pickup with a survivor, kind of like I am Legend and would detail what happened but it would run two parallel stories about our protagonist and patient zero as their destinies intertwine leading to them both being cryogenically frozen and thawed out a thousand years into the future when society has rebounded and eradicated the threat. Of course, arrogance would rear its ugly head and instead of listening to the protagonist and destroying the zombiesicle, it reanimates and starts the infection all over again. Since this new society is devoid of any historical information about what had happened, they are FUBARed.

Zombies? Future societies? Give me a break, it’s science fiction.

Now, back to the idea about a television show. With the success of such shows like LOST and Heroes relying on a core cast of characters who are basically damaged goods and through flashbacks and metaphorical storytelling, we get a slow reveal, solving some central mystery that keeps the show moving for a few seasons. The same would go for a zombie series. You have a core group of survivors who come together to live in some microcosm of society whether it be a shopping mall, isolated island, or whatever, and through a series of character centric episodes you find out how they survived they outbreak and how they figure into the overall show. Were they fairly skilled with a weapon? Did they cower in a corner until it was safe to run? Did they sacrifice innocent people for their own safety? Are they the one who broke the world? When you’re dealing with heightened tensions and close quarters, trust is a hard thing to come by and sometimes the monsters may not always be reanimated corpses.

As the show progresses, attempts to find a cure present themselves and like shows about displaced characters ala Gilligan’s Island or Land of the Lost, rescue or escape is usually within fingers grasp only to be snatched away. Following believable scenarios survivors attempt to restore society, reclaim territory, defeat insurgency much like a real war, or at least like Red Dawn or Jericho. You’re talking about a very tech heavy society being reduced to coconut radios. I think it’s a fascinating character study. Civilian versus Military rule, run and hide versus stand and fight tactics, and can-you-shoot-a-loved-one-who-is-infected-but-not-turned questions of moral/religious/survival ethics play out over the course of the show.

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Mongo Angy! Mongo Smash! on cafepress.

Shows like LOST, Heroes, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and True Blood have proven that audiences are willing to watch shows with fantastical and even horror elements central to the plot. It’s the compelling storytelling and character development that drives the bus and people are willing to get on board if you treat them like intelligent human beings. Not everyone wants a reality show. Now, to truly do a show, about the living dead, justice, you would have to produce it on a pay cable channel like HBO or Showtime, complete with some gore and adult language. I mean who, in their right mind would say, “Oh darn, a zombie” if faced with a shambling corpse in their path? No. They would be, “What the F***?!?” at least three times before the notion to run would hit them. As much as I like FX network’s edgier shows like The Shield and Rescue Me, this kind of thing needs to be able to exist in a real sense. Don’t pander for ratings. Shows like True Blood and Deadwood have proven popular and profitable, even with a reduced audience. Besides, there doesn’t have to be a decomposing zombie or horribly gruesome death on screen every episode. The overall arc of the show is about survival in a changed society. Zombies are just the catalyst.

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Mongo Angy! Mongo Smash! on cafepress.

Getting back to the idea of a collapse in society, here are a few things that are essential. Now, Max Brooks' outlines a lot of steps based on the severity of the emergency from a local to disturbance all the way to complete and utter apocalypse. As I read the book I saw parallels between his topic of choice and the possibilities for social breakdown in today's reality. Look, you're just going to have to go with me on this.

Don’t Panic!
Ok, panic…just a little. It’s inevitable. Let it in for five minutes and then focus. The best strategy is to ready yourself ahead of time, but if you can’t the second best strategy is to keep a cool head while others panic.

Be Prepared or At Least Be Smart.
No one is ready truly ready for this kind of thing. However, you know how some people tell you to be prepared for a recession or unemployment? It’s an always moving target but the last one I read said that you should have nine months worth of salary saved up in case of an emergency. Anyway, who really has nine months worth of salary saved up, not to mention, who thinks that money is going to matter if there is a true breakdown in society. We’re going to be reduced to a goods vs. services level of economic value. Can you grow food? Can you hunt? Can you build shelters? No one cares if you can run a bank. They’re more concerned if you can handle a hammer or a hoe.

Get your own Zombey Road shirt from
Mongo Angy! Mongo Smash! on cafepress.

If you have the room in your dwelling for an emergency shelter, build one that can either be reorganized, moved, and fortified. But be careful to not make it a dead end. If your defenses don’t hold, you have nowhere to run. If you underestimate the length of your stay, you could run out of supplies. Now, as much as I like Twinkies and Doritos, those are not going to fly for long sustaining supplies.

Stock up on the essentials - Not everything can go with you, so be smart on what you take.

  • Dry Goods (Flour, Sugar, grains) If you have the essential components to make dishes, you can live awhile. Watch Survivor and see how they live.
  • Non perishable items - If you have to ask, check with local food banks that accept donations, copy them.
  • Water – Portable containers with plain old water. You can always run some from your tap if you don’t have the ability to buy bottled.
  • Mixes – While you probably won’t be making a cake. Simple bread mixes or drink mixes can give you a bit of luxury in your now meager surroundings. Just remember, expiration dates are a bad thing.
  • Utensils and plates – Keep a separate set of cooking and eating utensils in your shelter. Depending on the nature of the catastrophe, your usual silverware may no longer safe. While you can stock up on disposable flatware and containers, remember waste has to go somewhere. Styrofoam plates aren’t that washable and garbage pickup might be delayed a few….years.
  • Games and Magazines – There’s no reason why you should go stir crazy while waiting out the worst. Playing cards and board games may help to break up the monotony and keep your sanity in check. Reading material can also keep your mind sharp. Now may be a good time to take up Sudoku.
  • Toiletries – Does your shelter have adequate facilities or should you pack hip waiters? Remember, space is at a premium, so the less waste the better. Toiler paper is okay to have but be sensible when it comes to brand and ply. If you have plumbing in your shelter, that’s great, but remember that in a total collapse of society, simple utilities like running water and waste management may be limited.
  • Communication – Cell phones are nice but if the providers are gone or the cell towers aren’t working you are out of luck. Walkie Talkies are still useful in this situation. Also, make sure you’ve got plenty of batteries for radios, lanterns, and any other devices that may come in handy.
  • Power – If you were one of the suckers that bought a Y2K generator. Convinced that the year 2000 would usher in a new dark age, you may still get the last laugh. If you have a good supply of gasoline or can get to some, you can keep the lights on for awhile. Just remember, in the event of a zombie outbreak or any other collapse of society, you may not want to advertise that you have power. Conserve fuel and only use power for essentials.

Speak Softly and Carry a Big Boomstick
If a zombie outbreak were truly to occur you might find yourself the center of attention, depending on your surroundings. If you are the kind of person that can handle leadership and decision making, you might be perfect to rescuing and sheltering survivors. If you aren’t, then either follow or get out of the way. The same would go for any disastrous event. If you brag to the neighbor about having a bomb shelter and years of supplies, you may have a knock on your door when the sirens start wailing. Is that okay with you? Now, of course, you want to ensure the safety of friends and family. Perhaps you already have a Dick Van Dyke inspired escape plan in place if there is ever a fire in your home. Let’s think of this as an escape plan on a bigger scale. Does your family have property, like a camp that could be a meeting place in case of emergency? Does someone in your family have the means to shelter numerous extended family should a crisis arise? Is this public knowledge to Nebby Nancy next door?

As long as civil services like police, fire, and military forces are still operating you shouldn’t have to worry about an immediate plan of action. If a hurricane were predicted to hit, you may want to have somewhere to meet up at a safe distance away from danger and just ride out the event. However, if you find yourself in a national crisis, you may want to make sure steps are taken to ensure the safety of your loved ones. When panic hits the streets it’s easy to get caught up in other people’s problems. Are you able to separate yourself for the sake of survival or is every little lost dog your problem? Speaking of animals, what about your pets? I have pets and they are like family. I couldn’t leave them behind so I would have to take steps to transport and shelter them in the event of an emergency.

Now, let’s say the initial wave of terror has begun in earnest. If you’ve taken precautionary measures then you can ride out the first wave and reassess the situation at a later time. If you aren’t prepared and a crisis hits unexpectedly, you’ll need supplies. As I stated before, with civil services still operating it’s best not to become a nuisance. They’re going to have enough on their hands without having to deal with you looting the local Wal-Mart. If your plan is to take care of your own and not raise awareness, then keep yourself off the radar and just get what you need. If you go guns blazing into the store and start declaring manifest destiny you better be prepared to fight your way out. If it were a zombie outbreak, stealth is a big ally. You don’t want to draw attention to your location or lead a group of living dead back to your base of operations.

Same rules apply for other emergencies. There are certain types of people in this world when dealing with a crisis, those who are prepared and those who aren’t and will try and take by force what they want or need. While it is probably necessary to arm and defend yourself if the need should arise, be sure that you don’t put yourself into bad situations.

  • Weapons – Do you have the right kind? Can you use them properly? Will there be enough for your group and situation? Do you trust them?
    • Guns are nice but require ammo and proper usage. How many times have people died because of stupidity or carelessness?
    • Blades are easy to carry but require close quarters to be effective.
    • Long handled weapons or tools serve dual purposes but they require closer quarters combat and enough strength to be effective.
  • Safety – If firearms are your weapon of choice do you have what it keep yourself and others safe? You’ve got the guns but where is the ammo? Probably not a best practice to keep it all in one place. If you become cut off from your supply you’re screwed. Worse yet, if some kind of accident involving fire or an incendiary device should occur near your storage you could have a bigger problem than intruders.
  • Trust – If you have multiple people in your party, whether they be friend of family, can you trust them? Maybe you shouldn’t give the manic depressive a gun. You might find yourself together for a very long time. If society has gone bye-byes make sure your most level headed companions are in charge of the weapons.
  • Time To Go - Your fortification may become compromised. You may have outgrown your surroundings. Perhaps it’s time to poke your head out and see what’s going on in the world. If you must abandon your base, make sure you pack up all your essentials. As I stated before, your shelter should be ready to pack and go at a moment’s notice like military units. Some field survival manuals might give you some good tips on best practices. Just like normal everyday life, turn out all the lights and extinguish any fires. You might be able to return. And in case normal, everyday amenities aren't restored to working condition yet, a leftover supply of fuel or power could be useful.

Again, if this is not a national or global crisis and civil services are still operating, don’t assume you can just squat anywhere. The more fair players on the field the better the officiating. If you piss off enough people you may find yourself incarcerated. If things should escalate or progress to full Armageddon you’ll be behind bars with no one to come get you.

Now the odds that something disastrous would occur that would require you take extreme measures is highly unlikely. The odds that you could find yourself without power, water, or other utilities due to weather or human forces is more plausible. You don’t have to be Rambo or those guys North Dakota bomb shelters, but a bit of forethought or planning for an emergency can mean the difference between riding out a rough patch with enough clean food and water to last a few days, and using your phone book to heat a small room in your house while wearing all of your clothes at once.

However, if the zombies do come. I’m going to the mall and I’m taking The Zombie Survival Guide with me.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Want To Make Money on Cafepress? Ask Mongo.

It happened again. Some kind soul out there bought a couple shirts from the Mongo Store I keep on Cafepress. That's three shirts in less than three months. I guess I shouldn't be too excited but I don't put a lot of thought or time into managing that store. Perhaps I should, though.

The latest items I've sold on Get Mongo!
You see, Mongo was an idea for a website long before it became the wonderful blog you love to read every day. In 2006, a friend and I were kicking around business ideas and it is only clear to me now that he was probably using my input to do his MBA class homework. He's like that. You never see it but usually, you're helping him do something for his own gain. Anyway, we thought with all the niche websites out there that exist and become virally popular, why can't we operate one. Set up shop, run it for a couple years and sell it for a profit. Neither one of us are an expert at any of this, mind you.

That's how Ask Mongo was perceived. I say perceived because it never made it past the idea stage. I took on this persona of Mongo, based on another coworker who was a bit of a brute. Not so much in the sense that he was mean, but he just made these statements that were just too funny. I would mimic them in a monosyllabic style of speaking and Mongo became a full fledged character. Often, I would often just burst out into angry speak. I'd knock something over or drop something and the results were rather hilarious. Then it only became a matter of time. We'd joke around and my friend would ask me a serious question and Mongo would answer. "Mongo no care about HD. Mongo smash!"

That's when it happened. What if we created a simple website that used a search engine style approach. Kind of like a twisted magic eight ball. If we could figure out a way to assign certain keywords to relevant phrases, you could Ask Mongo a question and get a hilarious response. Nothing very high brow and if you asked a question that didn't match up to any key words, you would get some pre-generated random response like, "Why Mongo care? Go away before Mongo smash!"

Unfortunately, neither of us had the extra free time or expertise in designing the site. I also didn't want to guy buy a domain and just pay for a blank site until I figured it all out. Alas, Ask Mongo never came to fruition. In fact, the only way it ever existed was a test site built in Excel. I was taking some classes in Excel and figured out a way to get a set number of responses that would match up to a key word in a question field. Still, I had the graphical designs for Mongo in my computer and began tooling around with the idea of putting the image and slogan on a shirt. I went over to Cafepress and opened up a basic store, which is free. I added my images to a couple of products, did all the tagging on my images, and other things you can do with a basic store and that was about it. I waited and I waited. I did some specific keyword searching and my products were there but unless you were looking for something specifically named Mongo the stuff was buried three or four pages deep in the results.

I kind of forgot all about Mongo. I left the site up but didn’t do any additional work on it. I did use Cafepress to make some pretty sweet calendars for my wife and other members of my family. You can make your own products and pay base price for them. Anything you wish to sell, you add a markup and that’s how you make money. I marked up most of my products by about $3.00 and hoped for the best. This was almost three years ago. I tried to make another run at selling products using MySpace but that was worthless. Again, I didn’t have time to do any extensive work or marketing and pretty much left the site go. That was until February of 2008. I’m all about free stuff and found that I could start this blog on blogger for free. I figured, I have a lot to say. Whether or not people care is another story, but regardless, it could be fun. It also provided me a reason to have and promote the store. If I could gain enough of an audience, perhaps I could drive people towards the store. Thus, Mongo Angry! Mongo Smash! Was born. I parked a link and a couple of products on the side of my blog and figured that maybe I could get a few wayward people into my Cafepress store.

I made my first sale in December of 2008. It happened without me even knowing about it. I just took five minutes one day and did a quick rundown of my stores and saw that I had a few dollars in my account. Someone had bought a shirt. I felt validate and vindicated and I only made $3.00. But it was 300% profit. I didn’t spend any money on advertising or marketing. I simply created a store and did the bare minimum. How cool is that? Now, I know I am not going to be able to quit my day job making t-shirts. But a few extra dollars can’t hurt, right? Then, it happened again in February of this year. Another person bought matching men and women’s shirts! That’s another $6.00. Hey, this is awesome.

By now, I had already thought up two more stores, Pop Culture Couture and Retro Rags. Each site had only one design for sale. That is the major drawback for Basic shops. You can have all the images you want but you can only assign any particular product to one design. If you are disciplined enough you could constantly rotate images but who wants to devote that much work to a few extra dollars. You could also theoretically own hundreds of stores but again, too much work for the reward. That was before I made those sales. I am seriously considering a premium shop. For $5.00 a month I figure it’s worth it. It might actually pay off some more. Here are some of the benefits.

  • Personal shop on with your own shop URL (Also part of Basic Shops)
  • Set up multiple pages and sections to display your products and designs
  • Choose from over 70 high-quality products for your shop (Also part of Basic Shops)
  • Unlimited use of the same product within your shop
  • Customize your shop by uploading your logo and shop description (Also part of Basic Shops)
  • Create a shop design of your own. This also enables you to create a seamless retail extension of your own web site
  • Customization tools to personalize colors and fonts used within your shop
  • Choose from custom templates to instantly design your shop – No coding skills needed
  • Organize your designs and products into categories and sub-categories
  • Create custom layouts to showcase your newest designs and popular products
  • Promote your shop in the Marketplace (Also part of Basic Shops)
  • Promotional tools to help drive more traffic to your shop (Also part of Basic Shops)
  • Newsletter system to help you keep your customers up-to-date on your latest products and designs (Also part of Basic Shops)
  • Option to create your own shopkeeper profile to tell your customers about your organization, mission, or yourself. (Also part of Basic Shops)

For $60, that ain’t bad. But does it work? I don’t know it. Cafepress offers a 15 day free trial but in order for me to see the full benefits I would have to do a lot of prep work so that I could launch everything on Day 1. Otherwise, I could still be tweaking controls and have not seen a sale by Day 15 which would kind of defeat the purpose. Still, I might take them up on the 15 days for free because it’s an extra 15 days for free, duh! Regardless of my choice, there is a lot of work ahead and I think I might spend what little free time I have doing some research and getting together some models. Now, I thought I was bloody brilliant with my McScrewed idea. However, Cafepress thought my original design was too close to an actual logo and flagged it.

Old and new design side by side.
Had I opened up a Premium Shop under the 15 day trial with my original design, I would have been hosed.

So, there you have it. I probably will open up a premium shop and consolidate all of my products into different categories. I could definitely have the Mongo store and then have my Pop Culture themed products split up into different categories. I might even be able to slice and dice it by design and by product. The more ways I can present the ideas the more people will find something based on the own style of searching. I may tag this post so that I can revisit it after some time to give you a heads up on how things are going. Who knows? You might take what advice I’ve given and be the next t-shirt mogul. At least you might be able to spring for gas each month. If you Ask Mongo, every little bit helps.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Five Ways To Speed Up the Oscars

Got a chance to watch the 81st Annual Academy Awards last night and I must say that everything ran pretty smoothly and actually quickly for the most part. The first noticeable gaffe was a stage hand pulling the curtain in the wrong direction as the Best Supporting Actress montage played. Hugh Jackman infused a lot of energy into the telecast and he did play it pretty safe avoiding a lot of hot button jokes that someone like Whoopi Goldberg or Billy Crystal would have relished in making. He didn’t make a lot of jokes but held the broadcast together.

However, the old running gag about the length of the Oscars isn’t just a joke. These things go on way too long. Call it a product of an ADD addled audience in today’s society but they could have trimmed a good deal of time off the broadcast. As a long time Oscar watcher, here are some suggestions.
  1. Either get rid of the “In Memoriam” tribute or include everyone who died.
    For those of us not watching a 60” HD television set, we missed half of the tributes because they chose to pan around the theater instead of having the entire clip be seen up close. So, there were a few I missed.

    Now, I understand you cannot include a tribute to every single person who passed away in the last year but if you just show the cool kids that died, then you are doing a disservice to the rest of the people that passed. Last year, one omission was Brad Renfro. The Academy’s official response was, "Unfortunately we cannot include everyone. Our goal is to honor individuals who worked in the many professions and trades of the motion picture industry, not just actors." If that’s the case, then kill (no pun intended) the segment altogether.

    There was no mention of the following people and it wasn’t because they didn’t have the prep time.
    Robert Prosky – Great character actor. One of those “Hey, it’s that guy!” kind of actors.
    George Carlin – True he was more of a comedian and better known for his television roles, but still, his death had a profound effect.
    Jerry Reed – The Snowman?!?!? Come on. Ok, so he wasn’t a huge actor but still memorable.
    Harvey Korman – This is a tremendous oversight. Harvey was a hell of a character actor and a brilliant funny man. If you can remember Vampira, you can remember Count de Monet and Hedley LaMarr.
    Don LaFontaine – While not technically an actor, without him you wouldn’t get half the viewership of the movies up for Academy Awards. This falls into that whole “many trades and professions” category.

    If you want to honor the big names like Paul Newman or Paul Scofield then take 10 seconds off the commercial broadcast and do a small tribute. Then at the normal time for the “In Memoriam” montage can run quicker and have a more completed list.

  2. Go back to the old format of having the previous winner of the opposite gender present the acting awards.
    It was a little too “Vagina Monologues” for my taste and not everyone gets the love if one actor/actress sits there and gushes for five minutes on their selected nominee. Go back to the old format and give us a clip of the damn movie that these people did so well in that they deserved to get nominated. Perhaps a conspiracy is abound on why certain actors won over others….and better yet, why some weren’t nominated at all.

  3. Kill the production numbers for “Best Song” or speed them up.
    Granted, we only had three nominations this year and WTF is up with that? Why was there only three and two of them were from Slumdog Millionaire? From what I’ve heard Bruce Springsteen was really snubbed in this category. Where was I? Oh yeah. The production numbers were a bit quicker than they had been but I think they still don’t add nearly enough value to be in the broadcast. If they want to showcase Best Song, find a way to fill time at commercial breaks or another spot and play them.

  4. Hold applause.
    When you’re up there rattling off a bunch of nominees, some get an inordinate amount of applause. Why not hold all the applause until after the nominees are read. This gives enough time to actually hear the names and if there is an accompanying clip, hear the clip. It’s also polite.

  5. Put the nominees closer to the stage.
    Yeah, so, Slumdog Millionaire was the big winner of the awards but we all had to wait an extra five minutes for the evening news because the entire population of Mumbai had to come up on stage from the back of the theater. I’m all for giving credit where credit is due, but put all the nominees or those who would be accepting for a nominee up in the front rows. I didn’t see Jack Nicholson, front and center, holding court, as usual, although an unwarranted spread eagle crotch shot of Sean Penn was held on far too long for my taste.

Final thoughts:
Best Line of the Night: “You look like you work at a Hasidic Meth Lab” Natalie Portman talking about Ben Stiller’s appearance in the vein of Joaquin Phoenix
Worst Line of the Night: Anything that came out of Bill Maher’s mouth.. although, “Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto” said by Kunio Kato after winning for La Maison En Petits Cubes runs a close second.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Anatomy Of a Blog Post

You know, my readers always ask me, “Mongo, where do you get your ideas for your posts?” I tell them, “Who are you and what blog are you reading?” Ok, so no one ever asks me where my I get my ideas. Those four people lead busy lives and I’m sure this blog is just a distraction while they’re waiting for real web sites to load.

Oh, but in my mind… Yes, in Mongo’s world, my blog is visited more than Huffington Post or TMZ or Stephen King’s “King of Pop” column in Entertainment Weekly. Those other, fluff sites, use me for points of reference and…and…and…not buying it, huh? What? Even in my own fantasy world, I can’t get respect? Fine. Well, whether you want to know or not, I’m telling you anyway.

In all actuality, the title is the hardest part. I can bullshit about anything at length and have been told by my wife that I go to Erie to tell a story. But encapsulating the entire message in one phrase or choice of words is so daunting that I’ve pre scripted a bunch of titles to which I will eventually write posts on in the future. That’s why I sometimes have future post titles lingering out there for weeks. Well, that and I just don’t have the free time to write like I’d want. I mean if I did this as a full time venture, I certainly wouldn’t be all over the place with topics. No, I try to cover every single thought in the world under the sun and in the damp, dark, recesses of my mind. Believe me folks, there are some places you don’t want to visit.

As you can tell, I’m certainly no marketing genius. If I was, I’d focus on one theme and dedicate an entire blog just to that topic. Using articles that would help people in that vein I would keyword my titles and posts with specific words that world drive traffic here from search engines the world over. But I don’t. Nope, I just write what I’m thinking and sometimes a simple conversation with a friend over last night’s episode of LOST can generate a blog post. I write for me and my four readers and I never ask them what they want to read about. They’re still waiting to see if Izzy and George are leaving Grey’s or whether or not a scrapbooking room is worth redoing a hell of a lot of drywall. It’s not like I see a lot of traffic either. I think by my last count, I get maybe 17 visits a day…most of which are me fixing a mistake or posting or checking the hit count. After all, I haven’t generated a cent off this blog even with the obligatory Adsense ads all over the damn place, a search bar at the top screaming “GOOGLE ME G”DAMNIT!” and a various links to products I represent. So, it makes you wonder “Does he write posts to try and generate traffic, or does he try to generate traffic and have posts as filler?” I’ll never tell. Actually, I will.

Most of the time, as I said, I come up with titles well in advance. I feel like I’m being clever with a title and just hope I can figure a way to have the tail wag the dog into a post. I’m just waiting for the opportunity to throw up, Qatar Hero. However, sometimes titles just hit me at a moment’s notice, like Chris Webber, You Owe Me 80 Bucks. The topic of that one happened over 10 years ago but I recalled the events during 2008’s March Madness.

Perhaps, it’s seasonal one like a tire story in the winter or Election Night of the Living Dead.

Although, on occasion I do get all torqued up on caffeine or carbohydrates and just go completely nuts like iRenaissance or From the path of truth, John Hughes hath led me astray. Ok, that last one is a double dip as I just included it on my “clip show” post last entry. I just liked the sound of the title and it was fun to write. I am a child of the 80’s and tend to dip into that Terence Trent D’Arby wishing well often for inspiration.

Mostly, titles are puns or wordplay as I often fond of using. There was one post, which had to be removed for personal reasons, called Modis, Opera, and I was a play on the word modus operandi. Another one called LunchBox 360, was a childhood tale of video game nostalgia while waiting for the school lunch period to end. In either case, I took a familiar term and changed the meaning or spelling of the actual word or something close to a topic you would know, say XboX 360.

Now, there are times when I’m just in the mood to create a Top X list in the spirit of Nick Hornsby on the topic of movies, or television, or music. Still, no matter what the topic, I try to pepper in some pop culture references. Nothing too obvious or hammer over the head, in your face, kind of references, but the stuff of pure pop that only true observers would recognize. As much as I admire Diablo Cody for being a student in the art, and I can’t even really bash her for her style. She’s got an Oscar, ya know? Sometimes I feel like she’s reaching for a reference or trying to create a situation that doesn’t call for it. I consider these attempts The Family Guy approach. While, I love that show, it’s gimmick is that it tells a 15 minute story with an hour’s worth of plot broken up with a “just like the time I…” cut to a shot of something from a popular book/movie/show/etc. The same thing with Cody, she’ll go on about a particularly acerbic topic and point to a pop cult reference where it’s not needed. It’s like mixing up a metaphor and a simile.

I will say that one of my favorite topics to discuss is me. Yes, I am that egomaniacal. No, I mean I write from my experiences growing up these last 30 odd years, moving from school to a career, single to married, and man child to Father. Sometimes, the best stuff comes from experience and I’m exploiting the hell out of my daughter’s childhood for material. It fills the gaps while I try and remember what happened to me one time at band camp. They always say, “Write what you know.” Well, I don’t know everything about a little, but after 140 some posts I think I’ve managed to cover a hell of a lot of ground in a short time.

Ok, we’ve covered titles and topics. Let’s talk structure. I am ashamedly a poor student in grammar. Since the invention of the Internet, the written language has undoubtedly suffered at the hands of emoticons, spell check, and 1337 speak. "Teh", "Meh", and "OMG" have become commonplace and people are becoming more tolerant if not guilty of using it. At least half of my readers are real sticklers for grammar and I can only hope they look at substance over style. I wish I would have taken more writing classes in my quest for a degree. The main reason I started to blog was to try and keep what little grasp I had on the English language. Ultimately, I point the George Cukor finger at shame with one hand and type long run on sentences and paragraphs with little regard to punctuation or details. In essence, I’ve opened up a new post and my skull and just spilled everything out and hit published. Then, I go back, fix the spelling, images, and spacing. In Mongo land there is no measure twice cut once. It’s all on the fly, baby. It takes me back to my college days when I would get a writing assignment. I would throw a bunch of ideas all up in the air and hold onto them. Then, the night before the paper was due, I stop spinning the plates, letting everything crash onto the page. After a couple of hours, I’d print it and turn it in on my way to class. There was no outline, rough draft, final draft, finished paper. There was assignment, and turned in piece of work. Nine times out of ten, I’d ace the topic or class just on my own storytelling merit.

That’s where the fun lies, in storytelling. As all four readers echo as a Greek Chorus, “I love a good story.” So, I guess if you want a definitive reason for why do I write this blog, it’s that I love to tell a good story as much I love to hear one. The art of storytelling is severely underrated and under appreciated. Before the Internet, and before the written word, people used to communicate all of the history and drama orally. Someone was responsible for remembering a specific topic, much like the characters of Fahrenheit 451. If I had the time and technology at my disposal, I’d probably run a video blog reciting my posts with different inflections of voice and characterizations to add to the effect as if I were Patrick Stewart retelling A Christmas Carol while portraying all the parts. But if I can’t do that, I’ll do the next best thing. I’ll take a topic, spin it around a few times with its head on the handle of a baseball bat and then let it loose on the page. Far off in the distance is the point or the end and along the way the tale tends to lean one way, then the other, and eventually, after falling down on a tangent a few times, it makes its way to a conclusion. Much like this one.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Year In Mongo

It has been a year since I made my first post. And now, here I am with 147 posts under my belt. I've decided to dedicate my year anniversary post to that time honored tradition in television known as "The Clip Show." I've gone over all my posts made since February of 2008 and chosen my favorite posts to re-share...cause I'm lazy and I've been down with the stomach flu since Sunday.

We'll start off the dance down memory lane with one of my earliest diatribes on my love of coffee. From there on, it's a free for all.

I'd like a double tall, half caf, half foam, Mocha Choca lata ya ya....with a twist.
Everything from Kenny G to pegged jeans to Bob Ross is discussed with coffee being the constant throughout the years.

From the path of truth, John Hughes hath led me astray.
Ah yes, the first in a long line of pointless pop culture filled rants that I really enjoyed writing.

They're always 'effing with me Lucky Charms
I liked this one just because the title made me laugh. It also showcased my first attempt at embedding YouTube videos. I went a little overboard.

15 minutes of lame
There is no shame in detailing my rise and fall as an actor. At least there is no modesty.

The Great American Road Trip Mix Tape #4
The soundtrack of my life. Contains a link to part 2.

Stall Tactics
Bathroom etiquette for men.

All Your Free Time Are Belong To Us
A huge series devoted to video games from the arcades to consoles to the home computer.

They call me Mr. Fitty Cent!
A run in with the law leaves Mongo a little short on change.

Meet Me At Hemmy's.
Lamenting the loss of one of my favorite watering holes.

The Baseball Story
A great story as told by a relative over dinner.

Four of a Kind is a Full House
A cat lover's lament

Good vs. Evil: The Internet
A look at how good or bad the Internet is.

Behind The Red Room Door
The junk room exposed.

We Are Errant Knaves, All
A tale of how a little thievery goes a long way.

Post Apocalyptic Pool Hall at the End of the Outer Banks
Another great title for another great story.

The 50 Greatest High Schoolers On Film.
My biggest series that required the most work. Counting down from 50-1.

The Best Halloween Television Marathon Ever
Another best of...

Best of Bond Themes
Counting down the best James Bond themes over the years.

A Merry Mongo Christmas: My favorite Holiday Shows
A Three part series showcasing my favorite holiday shows.

Piss On LEGO
Mongo Sr. retells his tale of Christmas shopping

Here's to year number two.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Why Holidays Should Be Outlawed.

I should have known I wouldn't be able to escape it. It's not like I don't have the track record to prove it. Holidays are like mini disasters for me. I've gone on at length in the past about my issues with holidays. Why should Valentine's Day be any exception?

It all started Saturday. I heard the sound of my little one coughing in her room and didn't think much of it. She usually stays in bed until close to noon but here it was 8:30 AM and she's making this noise. She eventually went back to sleep and come noon she began coughing again. I went in to see what was the matter and saw that she had been throwing up, hence the coughing. I cleaned her up and brought her into our bed and she just didn't seem herself. Usually, she's bouncing around or chattering away at us, but she seemed very lethargic and just wanted to lay on us. Next thing I know she's vomiting again, all over our bed.

Once she was cleaned up again, we decided to take action. We took her to the ER and they really didn't do much but assure us that there was nothing wrong with her. Just keep her hydrated with clear liquids and keep an eye on her. She had no fever and hadn't thrown up again that day. We took her home and put her down for a nap. When she awoke, she was like her old self. We gave her some jello and a Popsicle and she seemed fine.

The next day, we figured she was back in the pink. We went for our usual breakfast and came home. The little one went down for a nap and then I started to feel ill. I shrugged it off as too much breakfast but I soon realized that I had it, too. Then my wife got it. We spent the night gushing from both ends while the little one seemed to be fine. It was a rough night all the way around.

Now, it's Monday and the little one is back to throwing up and everything else. We aren't a 100% yet but our daughter seems to be feeling better after she got rid of all that...I can't even describe what it was, but it was foul. That's love, being able to dive in with both hands and clean up bodily fluids. Usually, for Valentine's Day you give your heart to someone.....but this is rather extreme.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Farewell-Descent Into Madness

This is from my Facebook account...every so often I get tagged in little notes. This one seemed fun because of the randomness. Have a good weekend everyone.

1. Put your iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc. on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.

"King of the Road" - Roger Miller

"Cecillia" Simon and Garfunkel

"Greasy Kid Stuff" - Bill Cosby

"Tributary Otis" - The Refreshments

"Cold Hard Bitch" - Jet

"My Hero" Foo Fighters

"Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Theme" Yeah, I'm pretty gangsta...

"Barbossa is Hungry" Klauis Badelt Pirates of the Caribbean

"Last Christmas" - Jimmy Eat World

WHAT IS 2 + 2?
"Plane Crash" - Ron White Drunk in Public

"Rosana" - Toto

"What's Simple is True" - Jewel

"Don't Look Back in Anger" Maroon 5 cover of Oasis

"Hush" - Christophe Beck BTVS Soundtrack

"Somewhere Only We Know" - Keane.....although it was really "To Make You Feel My Love" Garth Brooks

"I Ran" Flock of Seagulls.....It's probably why I died.

"Proud Mary" CCR

"Bubba Ho-Tep" - Brian Tyler

"Angie" - Rolling Stones

"The Whole World" - Outkast.......I'm going to be sore in the morning

"You're Beautiful" - James Blunt

"Farewell-Descent into Madness" - Patrick Doyle Hamlet Soundtrack

Thursday, February 12, 2009


We’re due. I know we are. If not, it’s time somebody started the wheels turning on the next Renaissance. The world has been plunged into war and recession. The need for renewable resources is at a fever pitch. People are finally beginning to understand the dire need to turn this sinking ship, called Earth, around. We have so many bright people in this world working on innovations, but who really cares how small my iPod is or whether or not I can watch en entire season of The Office online? It’s time to start working on the infrastructure of our societies and reshape our destiny. We’ve become so cut off from the community, hiding behind our technology. It’s time to collaborate as a world to solve our most threatening problems.

It’s so close if you think about it. Across the globe, little movements towards a greater existence are occurring without even making us aware of their total impact. Tiny discoveries in gadgetry should be thought of as possible components for larger use application. Style should be mixed with function in our designs for buildings and roadways. However, let us not builds Towers of Babel but a Rocks of Gibraltar. Let us draw on the successes of our predecessors without ignoring their foibles lest we repeat their mistakes. As we move forward in innovation, let us not ignore where we have been. We have to be cognizant of disaster recovery and business continuance on a global scale. Preventative steps should be taken to guard against destruction of agricultural farms, not just server farms. Let us use our knowledge of the micro to enhance the macro.

It’s all around us. Grab a copy of Time or any other publication that puts out a best of list for inventions and you can see the pieces start to fall together like a Sudoku puzzle. Why are we not getting it? There is a need for a harmony of cognitive dissonance. The idea that people all over the world have conflicting thoughts and perceptions should not be a reason for them to not share a common goal. There has to be a way to share our toys in the global sandbox. We need to stop selling ourselves short. We need to take stock of our existence and find that common ground that makes us similar.

There needs to be substantial advances in the following categories; architecture, energy, health, communication, and economics. One category is not isolated from the other. Each feeds into an overall cohesive attitude that says we have all the tools we need to solve the world’s problems, what we lack is the blueprint.

Solar, wind, and other types of renewable resources are great but the application is still far from perfect as is the development. We still need fossil fuels to run the factories that make the cars or components. Although, I do like the plants that are using methane from landfills for power.

We also need to get a handle on health care. There are way too many mistakes being made and reimbursement is a hot button issue. We have an extended lifespan, now, and we need to realize that our baby boomers are going to be around longer and so are we. I’ve personally seen a mother and daughter both living in the same assisted care facility. There needs to be some consideration for costs of supporting the elderly and technology to keep everything running smoothly.

We have an aging infrastructure in our cities and we need to look at innovative ways to improve construction without increasing our carbon footprint. Green technology being used in new construction is a start but there is also added effects on the climate. If you subscribe to the theory of global warning consider that green house gases aren’t necessarily the biggest culprit for overall temperature increase. Yeah, it doesn’t help. In fact, it exacerbates the problem. However, look at our population and use of available space. We generate a lot of energy. Energy to power all those buildings we build. Those buildings throw off energy from all the activity inside. Our cars, while expelling gases that contribute to poor air quality, expend heat and energy. Every single person is a thermal unit. With over 300 million people in the United States alone, the amount of body heat we expel has to count for something. Not to mention, when you add the rest of the world’s population. To use a horrible analogy. I keep my house around 70 degrees, year round. The heater and air conditioning work fairly well to keep this temperature. If I have family over and we are cooking dinner. I turn off the heat. Why? Because the added body heat coupled with the oven running at 350 degrees raises the temperature in the house by at least five degrees. If it’s the summertime, my air conditioning works harder than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest.

As far as communication goes, the Internet, wireless devices, 3G networks and the like are fine, but what happens if all that fails? There’s a great book by Richard A. Clarke called Breakpoint. Yes, it’s science fiction but it was written by former Counter Terrorism advisor under President’s Clinton and Bush the lesser. He’s been highly critical of his previous employer’s administration but then again, who hasn’t? In short the novel describes terrorists who don’t blow up buildings with planes, but isolate The United States from the rest of the world by systematically blowing up the transatlantic cables, severing our network connections. Think Live Free or Die Hard on a global scale. We need a system of business continuance in place in the event that we lose connectivity to city services, utilities, and basically anything that runs on computers connected to a network.

Perhaps there are MIT and John Hopkins’ graduates locked away in a lab somewhere with Will Hunting tinkering away on these ideas but how come we don’t know about it? We need good solutions now, while we wait for perfect solutions to be bench tested. But where are they? I know I can’t be the only one who has this thought. In fact, this whole rant is based on a combination of reading Time’s list of the 50 Greatest Inventions of 2008 mixed with a huge plate of carb-heavy pasta inducing me into a hyperglycemia induced state of Jerry Maguire preachy-ness. Now, I don’t want us to tip the scales in favor of all out catastrophe. All this talk of innovation and technology can ultimately lead to a robot uprising lead by Nexi, the Mobile, dexterous, social robot, but you’ve seen what happens when we let the financial sector get out of hand. What if the techno geeks more advanced and better funded than the ones who hacked Paris Hilton’s cell phone were able to get into the Obamaberry?

Now as I ramble on I get further away from my point and head towards the town of Luddite. I’m all for technology as a companion, but not an overall solution. I think we can return to a more classical style which will promote better acceptance utilizing what we know we can do and how we can make it more solid in design. While, I think flying cars are highly overrated in films, it cannot hurt to make them more solid and run better without having to give up quality of construction. Instead of hurtling off towards the future in one direction, maybe we need to bring the rest of our knowledge and genius with us.

OK, the pasta is wearing off and I’m coming back into focus. Actually, just take a look at that list and take note of these items. A lot of the list was fluff, in fact some weren’t even inventions, but there is good reading there. We just need something to bring it all together.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Bailouts.. TARPs… Recession… Stimulus… No matter how you label it we’re a little McScrewed. I use that term because that’s probably where I’ll end up working with the way things are going. The government seems fit to throw money at organizations that have shown they can’t be trusted with money. The promise is that the Federal Government is giving IOU’s to banks to stabilize credit and in return they pay back the loan with interest. In theory, there should be a profit.

Now, I don’t know about you, but the last time I used an IOU was when I was a college student and a little short on cash around the holidays. I used my student computer account and Photoshop to create these little “Coupons” for my parents that basically stated that I would clean out the garage or wash the cars instead of buying them a present. That was 15 years ago and I never did make good on those IOUs. So, how do we know the banks will pay back the Government? In essence, the Government just became Fannie Mae and the banks became the American homeowner who bought a sub-prime mortgage.

For the most part attitudes have changed but still people are conducting shady business as usual. John Thain, there’s a guy we’ve all read about in the news, he was the Merrill Lynch CEO that used $1.2 million dollars to renovate his office and gave out billions in bonuses to executives days prior to the sale of Merrill Lynch to Bank of America. In his defense, he cited that a lot of the losses Merrill Lynch suffered were due to his predecessor. Ok, the man had a $1400 garbage can in his office. You tell me who is to blame for this? Oh, and his answer for why he gave the bonuses, “if you don't pay your best people, you will destroy your franchise.” Well, guess what, Bucko. You were supposed to be the best and you almost destroyed the franchise.

This type of mentality doesn’t surprise me when you hear about all the rumblings along Wall Street in response to President Obama’s decree that salaries will be capped at $500,000 for executives of companies receiving TARP funds. Now, there is anarchy and bedlam in the board rooms as executives find themselves suddenly in a salary freeze. What to do? What to do? Rudy Giuliani has said that if you take away bonuses and incentives from these people that the rest of New York will suffer from reduced patronage at restaurants and other establishments. Sorry, Rudy, but these guys aren’t going to McDonald’s or even Houlihan's and they aren’t creating unemployment buy losing a few zeroes in their paycheck. They already created unemployment by letting their companies become so screwed up.

Look, if you are a company that is going to the Government and asking for millions of dollars to help keep you afloat then you need to tighten your belts, too. Guess what? Everyone else has to so don’t think we’re picking on you guys. My salary got frozen along with a lot of other folks’. You’re going to have to start living like the rest of us. If you can’t, then you’ve proven our point. You work for a financial institution for pity’s sake. Did you not learn how to manage your money? Now, if your company was solid and didn’t need financial assistance from the TARP, then by all means, do what you want. By that token, you should be acting responsibly and mindfully of the economy. If anyone believes we’ve already seen the bottom of this hole, then they’re just as delusional as bonus backed bankers.

Just like we, as regular taxpaying, nine to five working folks need to realize that everything didn’t change in November. You try stopping a speeding locomotive on a dime. It’s impossible, even for Superman, and sorry to say, Obama is not Superman. No one is. It’s going to take a lot of time and patience to slow this speeding train and get things working properly. Unfortunately, we are an short attention span audience. We want something to happen right now. We want our credit lines to be fixed, our jobs saved, and our President to wave a magic wand and make all the bad people go away. An economic stimulus package won’t solve all the problems. In my opinion, I don’t think I’ll be getting one of those rainbow sherbet looking checks with the Statue of Liberty on it. I think this package is more for the businesses that give us our other checks, the ones we get every other week. That’s so we can keep getting them. This isn’t a hand out. This is an opportunity to create jobs to fix roads and bridges. It’s a chance to upgrade our cities instead of building up on the degraded infrastructure that has been allowed to lapse into the old standards of the 20th and in some really depressed areas, the 19th centuries.

Is the Government doing the best they can for the nation. I hope so. I don’t think you can narrowly point to one man, one company, or one administration and say, “Shame on you.” This has been allowed to go on for years and people figured, it’s only wrong if you get caught. Somebody out there screamed and waved their arms, trying to be heard as the voice of reason and was ignored as is usually the case in any disaster movie. Well, now the economy could be the basis for a new Michael Bay or Roland Emmerich film, in fact they’re probably sitting around trying to figure out how to work in huge explosions to take out their fictional Fannie Mae’s or Lehman Brothers. Be sure that Hans Zimmer is firing up the synthesizers trying to find the right set of chords to play as President Obama, as played by Will Smith or Jamie Fox, slowly stands up with that stern look on his face as the camera pans up and around him in slow motion. This is the moment you’ll be waiting for because that when he’ll get pissed and go on the offensive, taking out bankers left and right without having to reload. Once you wake up and realize that life is not a movie, albeit almost a bad one, you’ll go back to your job, look at other companies’ postings and wildly throw your resume about hoping that one of them is in better shape and willing to hire you.

If you think that throwing money at the problem will make it go away, then all you’ll do is live from bailout to bailout, stimulus to stimulus, and we’ll be right back where we started when this whole mess reared its ugly head. We all need to be aware that it’s going to get worse before it gets better. We need to change our course as individuals whether we make $500,000 or $50,000 a year. We need to realize that when it does get better, it won’t stay that away. We need to be ready for the next big hole or out of control locomotive, otherwise we’ll be saying “Would you like fries with that?” instead, “I’d like to supersize that.”

Get your own McScrewed shirt or magnet here.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Super Bowel XLIII

Yes, there is a reason why I’ve misspelled Super Bowl in such a manner. Perhaps, I am just a product of my environment. After all, my hometown decided to show the area’s pride by programming the message board outside the local fairgrounds to celebrate the recent playing of the Super Bowel. This is of course the 43rd consecutive contest of intestinal fortitude, in which we bit down hard, took hold of the handles and passed our opponents.

I can recall the struggle. I took my seat, program in hand, and prepared myself for what was about to come. You can feel it in the pit of your stomach bubbling and churning. You wait for them to pass through that long dark tunnel. Sometimes, you wonder how such big beings can emerge from such a small opening. Once they funnel out though, you know there’s no turning back. You are in it for the long haul.

Our team made some tough movements up and down the playing field but, ultimately, we splashed down with success. There were times when we shook with anxiety, our brows furrowed with sweat. You shift in your seat, uncomfortably until something lets loose and tears the other team a new one. There is nothing so truly delicious and satisfying as dumping all that fear and worry and relishing in knowing that it’s all over. You sigh with relief. You laugh a little. You feel better that it’s all over. Unfortunately, from sitting so long, your but hurts.

Congratulations. Hopefully, we all waved our Irritable Bowels, the most recognizable sign of our explosive spirit. Super Bowel XLIII will definitely go down in history as hard to swallow for the losers.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

TreenWare: The Latest in Pareting Technology

I usually try to let all of my four readers know of any products that happen to be out on the market which will can help them. If you happen to be a parent, like me, advice from other parents is always appreciated. With that in mind, I stumbled onto a product that has produced results.

As the terrible twos hurtle towards my wife and I, we find ourselves at a disadvantage. The exploratory nature of our daughter gets to be a little overwhelming when you’re trying to get your daily errands completed. Whether it be vacuuming the floors, putting dishes away, or any other routine chores, there is constantly a challenge set forth by the little one.

Now that we have expanded the barriers beyond the living room, our child has free reign over most of the main living area. The kitchen is blocked off, but we have a breach every once in awhile. The main entrance from the hallway has a makeshift gate placed between the doorway blocking access. The other entrance, by the dining room, employs a chair turned at an angle to block the opening between the table and the wall. Sometimes we fortify with another chair but with hardwood floors, this boundary is easily bypassed. The cats have begun to fear for their lives as the little one chases and grabs them by the tail. Also, toys have become heavier and more complex with moving parts that can be used as projectiles.

With all these new found ways to raise our blood pressure, yelling “NO” or “STOP” doesn’t seem to be effective. Counting doesn’t help as the child will say the next number in sequence. She’s smart if not smart-assed. I can’t blame her for that one. More often than not, we end up having to chase the child and, once, an offending piece of cat food was shoveled into her mouth at a speed quicker than our attempts to remove the contraband from her little fingers.

When we first discovered this miracle product, we had our doubts. “How can this possibly work?” We thought. “It just doesn’t seem like it would be effective.” Our doubts were laid to rest the first time we simply referred to the item. We simply let the product do all the work. She listens. She ceases the offending behavior immediately, and settles down. In fact, a onetime use of this ingenious item has set a precedent. We only mention it by name and the child quickly stops behaving badly. Sometimes it helps to reinforce the idea by showing it to her and that works.

Now, how much would you pay for such a product? $39.99? $19.99? $9.99. Most retail outlets have it for as little as $1.00. In fact, you probably already have one in your home. What could it be?

A Wooden Spoon

P.S. In all seriousness, I’m liable to anger a considerable amount of my audience with this flippant regard to corporal punishment. I do not intend for anyone to rely on spanking a child as a means to reduce bad behavior. This is more of a social parody on today’s society. In other words, this information is for entertainment and storytelling purposes only.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Brand Spanking Brilliance

Super Bowl ads have come a long way. A quick rundown on Wikipedia shows that the cost for an ad during Super Bowl I in 1967 was $42,000. Adjusted for inflation, that price is somewhere near a 1/10th of the cost for an ad today, which is $3 million. Super Bowl ads are like the Black Friday of the marketing world. You spend a hell of a lot of money on an ad, hoping it is clever and brilliant enough to catch the audience’s attention. More often than not, the ad you see during the Super Bowl is never played again.

With the advent of online video sites like YouTube, these ads can live on forever giving a huge ROI for their initial cost to air during the game. In fact, most people don’t see half the ads because of bathroom breaks or beer runs to the fridge. How many times have you gone to refill your plate of nachos only to hear the laughter from the other room indicating that you missed a comical ad? Most catch it the next day online. If the airing of the Super Bowl ad itself is like Black Friday, then the following day is Cyber Monday. Most IT geeks loathe this as their company bandwidth gets sucked dry by employees surfing for and watching ads.

Every news outlet and online blog picks the winners and losers of the night like they were Cojo judging the red carpet fashions from award shows. Websites get revenue dollars from surfers looking for ads while the products themselves get dollars from people clamoring to see the ads. Probably the most notable ad was the Orwellian Apple ad during Super Bowl XVIII. Others are continuing themes in a series of ads that span years like the horses playing football for Anheuser-Busch or the Budweiser Frogs and Lizards. More recent series of ads, that drive viewer expectation, are the racy ones from

With the country in an economic slump, some people might wonder how a company can realistically pay such a high price for an ad when there are financial obligations to be met to their bottom line? To that end, I applaud Miller High Life for buying up one second of air time for their ads. Ok, so I stole the story from The Consumerist. However, instead of just regurgitating what the article states like some area reporters during the tech segments of the local news, I am just using the topic as a springboard.

What do I think about this campaign? To quote Guinness from their Super Bowl ads, “Brilliant!” This does raise some questions, though. Does MillerCoors have to pay for the full 30 seconds or can they pay $100k for one? Will YouTube take longer to load the ad than it does to play it? Will those with slow connections find the effect less than satisfying? Could this be the trend of the recession? Great ad, less money. If every advertiser jumped on the band wagon and produced a one second ad and then ran them back to back during commercial breaks would there be an outbreak of seizures from the mass amount of information flashing on the screen?

Shredded Tweets