13 December 2009
Friday/December/18 2009 Filed in: Philosophy / World View
Life is pretty much a game of musical chairs.
And each time the music stops, there is one chair too few and someone is left standing.
Perhaps someone doesn't get that phone call when promised or that supportive hug when needed. No matter. People are busy sometimes. Certainly there'll be some word tomorrow. Or the next day.
Days turn to weeks and weeks into months before the realization becomes clear. Somewhere the music has stopped and there is one chair too few.
Who is ultimately important in our life is not so much who we want to be important. In the final analysis, who is truly important in our lives is who we actually end up directing our precious energies toward.
Who is truly important to us are those with whom we find ourselves sharing our joys and pains, however those choices are made.
It doesn't mean this is the way that we want it to be. It doesn't mean that this is not the way we want it to be.
It just means that's the way it is.
And for those people who are displaced in the process, the ones left standing as the music fades, there can be a whole bubbling stew of emotions -- hurt, anger, depression, guilt.
But in the long haul, things work out as they do, not how we wish they might have.
There are many people we would like to have on the guest list of our life-party.
But, again, there are only so many chairs and when the music stops...well...
Thursday/December/17 2009 Filed in: Philosophy / World View
You Come A Long Way, Baby
For anyone even slightly confused about the need for the 1960s Women's Liberation Movement, the graphic above -- found at the All My Days blog -- seems to say it all.
In the pre-Women's-Lib Dick-and-Jane world, a women's place was in the kitchen and -- as evidenced by the three ravenous kids -- in the bedroom.
At the moment we're concerned about what was expected of women in the kitchen during the Leave-It-To-Beaver years.
Perhaps during the Cold War, it wasn't the Bomb we should all have been worried about, but Betty Crocker...
Here's looking at you, kid!
A salami and olive sausage pizza. Need we say more?
Why serve Broiled Salmon when you can skin a Gurnet fish alive and flop the writhing carcass on a plate of American Fries?
Man, that's good eatin.'
Mmm! Who Doesn't Like Spam?
Especially when it's the surprise inside broiled cling peaches.
Wait a minute. What the hell is Spam anyway?! Oh, what's this buried at the bottom of the recipe? "Spam is the exclusive blend of sweet juicy pork shoulder and mild tender ham."
Now we know.
Everybody's Favorite Dessert!
Cranberry slabs layered with gelatinous chicken soup, decorated on top with what looks to be the baked hearts of small woodland creatures.
Wednesday/December/16 2009 Filed in: Science / Technology
The Ballet of the Apocalypzian Illusion
There is an underlying rhythm to life.
There is a pulse within you that keeps time to a clockwork cosmos.
The beating of your own heart, the change of the seasons, the phases of the moon, earth's roller coaster space ride around the solar hub...all throbbing in cyclical counterpoint harmony.
All things in time and synchrony with all else, dancing to the same primitive, primordial, perfect beat.
To hear the music, you must first feel the rhythm... Can you feel the rhythm..?
Tuesday/December/15 2009 Filed in: Entertainment / Media
Here They Come...
Back in the 1960s, NBC, in an effort to capitalize on the success of The Beatles, came up with the idea of a TV show about a rock band called The Monkees.
But The Monkees weren't just copycats. Their I'm a Believer was the top charting single in 1967 and, that year, the TV band sold more albums than The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined.
Everyone knows that the network, at least at first, didn't want the actors to play their own instruments but it looks like producers weren't sure if they trusted the vocal talent of the cast either.
Here's an early take of the TV shows opening with Micky, Mike, Davy and Peter lip syncing their way through the intro while other singers and musicians did all the heavy lifting.
The Finished Product
When NBC let the group get in front of the microphones, they cranked out a far more lively version of the theme, don't you think?
Related Apocalypzia Posts:
The Night a Monkee Upstaged the Beatles
Tuesday/December/15 2009 Filed in: Art, Music and Movement
Christmas videos: 20th vs 21st Century
In 2005, the Polar Express was a breakthrough children's film whose state-of-the-art 3D graphics helped to redefine Christmas movies.
Fifty years before, baby boomer kids were watching a very different kind of animation, using awkward stop-motion photography or simple paper and pen drawings.
It was low-tech and unsophisticated compared to today's standards yet it was imbued with a charm and simple wonder that spans half a century.
Travel back in time five decades and see the season the way that kids did in days gone by.
Hardrock, Cocoa and Joe
Frosty the Snowman
Monday/December/14 2009 Filed in: Marketing / Business
The Fall of the Mom and Poppers.
In the early 1980s, opening a neighborhood video store could be a pretty smart investment. Mom and Pop outlets were popping up everywhere.
Back then, if you were looking to rent the latest VHS release, you walked into a storefront next to the dry cleaners and were probably greeted by someone who lived down the street from you.
By the mid-1980s, all that changed.
Blockbuster rolled into towns all across the USA and the Mom and Poppers were outgunned by giant, branded bigboxers, backed by deep inventories and national advertising.
The Final Reel?
Well, times have changed once again. Blockbuster announced plans in Fall 2009 to close nearly 1000 stores next year while converting another 300 to used DVD outlet stores.
That means that nearly one-fifth of all Blockbuster units open today will be either going away or morphing into a different kind of store.
Blockbuster s being outflanked by Netflix on one side and Coinstar's Red Box on the other.
Just as Blockbuster changed the game on Mom and Pop video stores, Netflix changed the game on Blockbuster. The idea of getting videos via snail mail is pretty low-tech but, for Netflix's 10 million subscribers, it beats making two round trips to the video store just to see the latest Will Farrell movie.
And Netflix can offer some 100,000 titles without paying a dime to have to lease and staff an outlet near you.
As for volume, Netflix claims to ship nearly 2 million DVDs daily to customers.
The firm is readying itself for the future with its "Watch Instantly" option, still in limited rollout, which will stream movies directly to your computer.
Several years ago McDonalds was looking for a way to boost traffic.
An ATM-type machine that dispensed DVD's instead of cash seemed like a good idea. Coinstar, the firm that operates all those coin conversion kiosks, soon became interested and joined the venture.
Today, Coinstar owns the whole shebang and has expanded the rollout beyond McD's locations. There are currently some 12,000 Redbox kiosks nationwide.
Redbox is the Coke vending machine of video rental.
Rent a video for a buck a night. You can even reserve your video online and when you're done you can drop it off at any Redbox location.
Like Netflix, Redbox doesn't need all the expensive square footage and staffing required for a Blockbuster outlet.
Utilizing this new business model, Redbox has reportedly captured 9% of the DVD rental market already.
Not that Redbox doesn't have its own issues. Hollywood isn't happy about how Redbox pricing is slicing into its profit margins on new releases.
Blockbuster strikes back
Why rent when you can buy..?
Most of the activity at Blockbuster today (some 85%) is DVD and videogame rental, with the balance in sales. The firm wants to change that ratio to 50/50 next year.
Brick and mortar Blockbusters that remain after the wave of store closings will, increasingly, be changing into places to buy used videos rather than rent new ones.
The rental side of the business will be shifting to other distribution channels.
To fend off Redbox, Blockbuster has partnered with ATM-maker NCR to roll out 10,000 automated movie rental kiosks by the end of 2010. They're also reaching out to TiVo and Samsung to forge alliances for digital distribution.
Many industry observers believe these moves will be too-little-too-late to save Blockbuster from being busted.
What's your take?
The Revenge of the Mom and Poppers?
The itstrulyrandom.com blog reported awhile back that there were still a few small local video stores out there and that some were, interestingly, renting Netflix videos to supplement their inventory and save costs.
What goes around comes around...
Sunday/December/13 2009 Filed in: Marketing / Business
What do the UPS Whiteboard Guy and the Empire Carpet Guy have in common?
We'll get to that in a moment. First of all, who is the UPS Whiteboard Guy?
He's Andy Azula and he's been the TV spokesperson for UPS since 2007. While there are few things more sleep-inducing than sitting in a dark room watching a PowerPoint presentation, UPS decided that a guy talking in front of a whiteboard was a good idea for an ad campaign.
Apparently they were right. We're not sure about the impact on business performance but our bet is that the longevity of the campaign -- some 48 spots have been shot -- is at least one indication of success.
But Andy Azula and his whiteboard also caught the attention of chief rival Federal Express
Federal Express has cried foul, claiming that something called the 2009 FAA Reauthorization Act delivers an unfair bailout to UPS. Congress recently passed a bill that changes the unionization structure for these two delivery giants.
Federal Express, in a nutshell, believes that the bill will expand the power of its unionized labor force, giving UPS a competitive edge.
So now FedEx kinda sorta has their own whiteboard guy now to tell their side of the story.
So what do the UPS Whiteboard Guy and the Empire Carpet Guy have in common?
It's not just the competition that has noticed whiteboard guy, Andy Azula. The YouTube is rife with comedic spoofs, only a few of which qualify as family entertainment.
Many of these spoofs do speak to the fact that Andy Azula isn't an actor. He's actually the creative director for The Martin Agency, the ad firm that came up with the UPS campaign.
The Empire Carpet Guy
Like Andy Azula, Lynn Hauldren, who has portrayed the Empire Carpet Guy since a few months after the Big Bang, was the ad agency guy who came up with this TV campaign idea for carpeting in the first place. When auditions didn't turn up the right actor for the role, Lynn stepped in and the rest -- if you live anywhere that Empire Carpets operates -- you know is history.
Andy Azula has a ways to go though before he can truly compete with Lynn Hauldren, though.
Hauldren not only came up with the campaign and starred in the commercials for over 30 years, he wrote and recorded the TV spot jingle. Oh, yeah and before that he was a World War II hero in the Indo-China theatre.
Top that, UPS Whiteboard Guy.