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Archive for March, 2009

For lunch today

fettucini

Fettucini with pan-seared chicken in a parmesean ‘sauce’.  I say ‘sauce’ because I wanted to make an alfredo sauce to go with this, but the dog needed to come back inside, so the sauce curdled before I could get back to it.  So I made a quick egg-milk wisked concoction, threw the noodles into the pan to heat them up, and then added the egg mixture to the pan along with some cheese and parsley making sure I don’t scramble the eggs.  It was okay, but not spectacular.

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For Lunch Today

lunch1

Deli ham with provolone cheese, tomato, romaine lettuce, a home-made remoulade, on toasted ciabatta – the king of breads.

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My buddy Garvin had a post concerning his viewpoint on newspapers going non-profit.  He raises interesting points, especially by changing the point of view between the ‘commoner’ (I’m assuming he’s referring to the landed gentry in the middle ages) and a journalism major.  He brings up each side and their points very well, pointing out that from the ‘commoner’s’ standpoint, they get unbiased news (something I disagree with, but that’s for later); however, the journalism major inside him (frosted mini-wheats commercial) disagrees, because it basically forces them to prevent any and all kinds of bias, due to their non-profit tax status.

But, what he doesn’t bring up is the fact that not every ‘commoner’ reads the newspaper.  I don’t.  The last time I bought a newspaper was 3 copies last weekend to use as packing material.  I just have no interest in paying for an item that’s cumbersome, leaves my finger tips black, and has only 3-4 sections I’m actually interested in.  I don’t care about 90% of  what happens in Cleveland; I don’t live there, none of my work is affected by it, and the sports team ‘insights’ are no better than what’s found online/on the radio.  The editorials are a joke, and the political coverage is incredibly lacking.  The front page stories can easily be found at Cleveland.com, and I don’t have to wait for tomorrow morning to read about something that happened 10 minutes ago.

So, I really don’t have any use for the newspaper, and thusly, don’t read it.  No big deal, honestly.  What they provide is a service I don’t need from them, or can get elsewhere for easier/cheaper.  If enough people agree with me, and their business starts to suffer, then they’re forced to either adapt to the growing needs of their consumer base, or fall by the wayside.

For example, anyone go to a silent movie recently?  How about riding a horse to work?  What about ordering donuts online?  Exactly.  These were all services that were offered that, for a time, there was enough of a consumer base to justify their existence.  But, the people that make up that consumer base didn’t need or want their service anymore, and they fell by the wayside.

So, I ask, why should newspapers be different?  Why do they get to be especially coddled?  Why should a circle be arbitrarily drawn around them and then others say, ‘well, they’re different.’  Why should they be different from pets.com, drive-in theaters, and pet rocks?  If they provide a service that no one wants, why should they be set apart from the rest?

And if they do decide to go non-profit (I have my own issues with government rules and non-profits), and you strip away all bias in their reporting, how effective can they really be?  What are facts without context, and how can you provide that context without any kind of bias whatsoever?  And who decides what is and isn’t biased?  How will we know that a particular person’s gauge of what is ‘biased’ is the same as everyone else’s?  How do you make something as wishy-washy and personal as a point-of-view rational and concrete?

Isn’t it just easier to leave them as for-profit enterprises, and strip away any strange notion they have of remaining non-biased observers of the world?  Why not have The Plain Dealer read; “Your source for all things conservative” and let someone else provide a paper that’s a counter-point to that to the need of those who want their news from newspapers, but don’t like the point-of-view of the PD?  Why not let the competition between the two, and the need to retain an audience allow them to figure out a way to remain relevant?

What alot of people don’t know is that when the internet was young – and I mean, 14.4 baud modems young, there was essentially only one real service available; and that was newspapers.  The AP and Reuters were providing raw news wires that could be picked up by anyone, and since text was low-weight for the young modems available at the time (pictures were rare, and videos were impossible), it made newspapers incredibly valuable – some of the first websites were online editions of newspapers.  Porn may have made the internet what it is today, but newspapers made it what it was when porn took over.

If they were such pioneers in the realm of this new and soon to be powerful medium; what happened?  I really don’t know.  And I have the feeling that many people in the newspaper industry don’t know either.

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Soon….

The temperatures are staying consitently above freezing, the sun is no longer sleeping behind clouds, and the ground is remaining dry.  Soon the landscape will melt from brown to green, and it will begin again.  The epic struggle of Labrador verses Woobie.

soon1

Goddamn spring is taking forever.

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Welcome, welcome, for another edition of ‘Junk Mail Theater’!  You can’t imagine the unbridled joy I had when I looked at the pile of mail and saw this:

 

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And had one of those ‘What the hell?’ moments.  Does anyone not get the image here?  Dogs pee on fire hydrants; we’ve all seen the cartoons.  Incidentally, I’ve been around dogs my entire life.  My friends, family, myself – we’ve all owned dogs.  Not once have I seen – or heard of – one peeing on a fire hydrant.  But I mean, that’s the same thing as a dog eating homework; it’s just an accepted cliche.

Regardless, the dog pees on a fire hydrant, and that’s something that can be considered ‘good together’?  Really?  I mean, on the one hand, it made me open the thing and see what the next bit would be, but they could’ve accomplished that with plunging cleavage leading toward the fold.  But on the other hand….it pees on the hydrant.  How is that a good thing?  Regardless, with the image of a dog next to a fire hydrant and the obvious comparison coming down the bend, I opened it up.  Seriously, where the hell are they going to take this?

 

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Okay.  Is the implication here that Reality Savings pees on Reality Checking?  And in addition to that, it’s even better than the unbridled glee I feel when I imagine Fido with his leg propped relieving himself on a hydrant?   Is it supposed to be some vague irony?  But that’s just the idea, and even if it falls flat, it’s not entirely the job of the designer to make it work.  Even though you can make some even better comparisons; peanut butter and jelly – coffee and donuts – Laurel and Hardy – and on and on.  But I think my favorite part is using the comparison in the last line of the first block of copy – ‘Check out how you and *this bank* are great for each other’.  So it’s official.  The bank pees on you.  Fetishists, unite!  Bank in our golden showers of great rates and refundable ATM fees!  Free checks with furries in the background!

Anyway.  Back to the design; and I can tell this is the same guy who did the last one.  I kind of want to meet him, and break his hands so he can’t do this.  See, my problem with shit like this is not so much that it encroaches on my territory, it’s that it brings the average median of design down.  Because this exists, all of design is a little worse off for it.  We need to cull the herd, and for once, it seems the market isn’t fast enough.

For one, Helvetica.  I use it because I design primarily for news, and that’s what my client’s competition uses, so that must be what my clients have to use.  Nevermind that sometimes I’m the one who designed the competition’s package, but not much I can really do about that.  Helvetica is tired, it’s old, and it’s entirely overused.  Go with Futura or something.  A nice, clean, balanced san serif font; it’d be fun.  And yes, I realize that because Helvetica (and Helvetica Neue) have something on the order of 5,000 different styles in the family, it makes design incredibly easy.

As for the bullet points, it seems that this guy likes to define importance by adding more and more simple text effects to the copy.  Regular font – explaining the listed item.  Bold  and Bullet Point – item being listed.  Bold, Underline, and Colon – title grouping the items to be listed.  I’m surprised that the big font on the front isn’t bolded, underlined, italicized, drop shadowed, given a rainbow overlay, glowing, and has a strike-through.  Oh, and maybe an arrow with text that says “This is really important.”  But in a non-ironic way.  Photoshop has many filters and effects, and can do many, many things.  This does not mean you need to do all of them at once.

Dog’s back.  I have no idea why, I could assume it’s a speech bubble and the dog talks.  Or maybe the ‘switch kit’ comes with a terrier.  Or a coupon for the local Korean restaurant.

A few things: the ‘Do More with…’ and ‘Get More with’ can be punched up a bit more.  Those are two good lines to draw together and make the centralized anchor in the design.  And you can do that without adding 8,345 filters and effects to the text.  And once again we have drop shadow on a white background…..just….no.  It even makes the text harder to read.

The one thing I don’t get is this – ‘Do U R2’?  Is that the branding?  If that’s the case, why is it pushed to the bottom right and nearly forgotten?  How come that’s the first time we see it?  And why the lame serif font?  Why not dress it up a bit and make it more of a branding image?  Is that because it would then be good?  I mean, branding images with company and product mottos have obviously never really worked – ‘Have it your way’, ‘I’m lovin’ it’, ‘The ultimate driving machine’.  The guy is on the cutting edge of design 150 years ago.

But, I want to leave with my favorite part.  In the first block of copy, there’s a line that goes, “These two accounts separately are awesome, and combined create the most powerful combination in personal banking.”  Okay, that’s a bit much.  Granted, after seeing the info on the checking account’s overdraft policy I was nursing a semi, but it’s nothing to dry hump my ledger about.  As I’m reading that, I’m picturing the commercial with re-edited clips of Captain Planet combining the powers of Checking, Savings, CD’s, Equity Loans, and Heart to save the world in the most douche-bag hippy way.

That line does give the image that the tellers at this bank probably would beat up the tellers at my bank, but that’s probably because my bank is filled with really fat old women in their 50’s who probably have dentists for husbands and took the job to get out of the house.  Because you can only spend so much time staring at the dust gathering on the exercise furniture you bought off of the television before you need to find something else to do.  And that something else is obviously sitting 8 hours a day and making me wait 25 minutes while you add.

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dsc_0685

 

Celebrating (ahem) years of kicking ass and taking names!

 

Of course, Pisces do rock, you know.  Hard to the core.

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