Sunday, June 29, 2008

Harley’s New Favorite Saying

“This is not a dorm room."

Apparently, I do not live in a college dorm room. Apparently, I go through my daily life believing that I am living in a college dormitory. I didn’t know I felt this way, but thankfully Harley was able to point it out to me.

I admit, this is a sweetdorm room. I have my own bathroom, a full kitchen, and feels like a real apartment. There are some downsides. One of my roommates is really loud and bossy (with terrible taste in TV (you decide which one I’m talking about).

Things I have learned:
- I decorate as if this were a college dorm room.
- Serving chips out of the bag is unacceptable.
- Scotch tape is not an appropriate hanging device.
- “That’s not centered.”

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Another Reason Kids TV is Awesome

The Wonder Pets is a show on Noggin about 3 classroom pets: a hamster, a duck, and a turtle. After the kids go home, the pets start to speak and answer the call to save baby animals all around the world. They go to places like Venice, Africa, Australia and Coney Island. The teach lessons about sharing, teamwork, and helping others. There is also a sub-text in each show as a shout out to older viewers. The gerbil says, "Go Brooklyn! Go brooklyn!" when they say Coney Island.

Now, they are going to Save the Beetles. Lilah is going to learn about my favorite band in an environment she understands and can relate. Playing her Sgt. Pepper just didn't work. She doesn't even like me singing to her with my guitar, except for a few verses of wheels on the bus. These shows are brands in the most meaningful sense. She trusts these characters, pays attention to them, and focuses her attention (which ain't easy). TV should never be a babysitter, just a part of a balanced media diet.

Academia has grabbed hold of this new trend in children's programming. Volumes have been written about Sponge Bob as a post-modern expression of anxiety under the guise of a kids' show. There are also university programs dedicated to the use of technology (and tv specifically) as an educational tool. There's always been the optimists and pessimists on TV. I feel that since TV is such an important part of today's world, shielding your child is both futile and counterproductive.

I'm thinking about writing my Master's thesis on children's programming to help me answer some of these questions. What is the objective for Nickelodeon: money or youth development? I'm a little afraid of what I find. My guess is that the younger the kids, the less advertising in the shows (Noggin has no commercials during the programs). But when the kids get older, it's marketing warfare. Maybe the want to get them early and make a buttload on licensing and merchandise.

P.S. Lilah loves books, so much so that we can't read before night time because they wake her up!

A Photo Essay of Allison

This photo essay is amazing.

A photographer named Jack Radcliffe took photos of his daughter growing up. You see her grow up from her early youth to adulthood. It's an amazing look, giving you just a few snapshots of her life but a strikingly intimate look on who she becomes. From what I could find on the site, she's about the same age as I am.

I love that these pictures were taken by her father. There's a sweetness to them, a sense that he is happy for her to be herself. I know my Dad would never let me smoke a cigarette in his presence, much less make a public record of me smoking. His unconditional love comes through in static images, which is impressive.

Internet Helps Man Procrastinate

Need more help wasting time at work? Check out, a New Zealand website that houses cleverly disguised books in a fake Windows desktop environment.

The site is a dead-on simulation of Windows with the books organized in desktop folders. Click and you’ll see the text rendered as a Power Point presentation, with the words rolling into graphics, charts, and photo captions. I'll never use this, but it is clearly awesome.

props to Jen Simon for the find and for always losing at Scramble

Lilah is Awesome

The latest picture update, courtesy of Harley. Though infrequent, she does a great job on these.

Last night, I taught Lilah how to give a high-5. She loooved it. I see a lot of new hand gestures in her future.

Response To Comment

Good comment from Nilda.

As I'm sure you know, Nilda is not the first person to disagree with McLuhan's thoughts on TV! He tends to use wide, sweeping statements to counter the common knowledge that TV is bad. I guess the theory is "if only 1 person is saying it, you better say it big."

I never read Ursula Le Guin, but I would think most people agree with her. But keep mind that she is a writer. TV has whittled away to influence of her chosen profession. She most likely has an inherent bias against TV. If she were a TV news broadcaster, she may have a different opinion! Likewise, I'm sure Monet would have had something against the camera. So while I respect her comments, I do take them with a grain of salt.

McLuhan's idea is that TV engages you. It moves in front on you and you have to keep up with it. That is the active part. Printed materials are static, non-moving. They just sit there, waiting for you to engage them on their terms. This was confusing to me at first, because if TV does all the work for you, then it is passive. And if reading needs you to act, then it should be called an active medium, right?!?

No, that is not McLuhan's argument. For him, the medium itself trumps the content ("the medium is the message"). So how the TV communicates itself is what matters, which is why TV is more active. He goes on and on about it, and I recommend reading his Playboy interview. It gets all his major concepts across without the painful verbosity of his more academic work. I would summarize, but that's a blog post I don't have the patience to write.

Friday, June 20, 2008

TheMediaDude Loves McLuhan

Found this little gem in my boss's office. Her always fascinating and widely read blog is at

In case you don't know, Marshall McLuhan was an amazing media theorist in the late 60's who was one of the first to mention the positive effects of television. It doesn't rot your mind but puts you in touch with the rest of the world. Unlike reading, which is a passive medium, television actively engages you and "touches" you through the screen.

I loved him the first time I read him, but I tried to read him again and couldn't get through it. He uses flowery language and makes bug statements without backing them up. One thing I learned in academia was to always give rational, which McLuhan often doesn't. Still, his concepts affected my greatly. Plus, he was in Annie Hall. How cool is that?

I'm now reading an article by Harold Innis, one of Marshall's inspirations and contemporaries in Toronto. Innis discusses how different types of media can influence, create, and destroy empires. I can't go through any of the amazing examples right now. And I've tried. Let's just say that the spread of the written word led to the loss of thousands of years of information that, before writing, had only transferred through oral tradition. What we know as "history" is a fraction of what really happened.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

50 Ways to Help the Planet

I'm not as good as I could be, but I try. I still use plastic bags from the supermarket but reuse them at home for small trash cans. I drink coffee out of resuable mugs and water out of glasses; no more paper or plastic cups. I bought a Sigg bottle and love it. Love it. I don't own a car, eat vegetarian more than I would like to and haven't left the water running while I brushing my teeth since I was 6.

I applaud anyone who goes the extra mile to use reusable diapers (sorry, not for me), hang your clothes to dry (not in Manhattan) and buy local food ("A Toxic Tree Grows in Brooklyn").

P.S. Mary, this seems right up your alley.

TheMediaDude Quiz

A prize for the person who can tell me a) this guy's name and b) what kind of animal he is.

Brian, please don't spoil it for everyone.

Family Guy on The Godfather

Now Playing:

peter hates the godfather video

Monday, June 16, 2008

Make McCain Exciting

Every day or so, Stephen Colbert proves his genuis. This was last Thursday...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

American Gothic in Stamnford

We took a family trip to Connecticut last weekend for me to do some store audits for work. We stopped off in Stamford to have dinner and go to Target. After one of the nicest pizza dinners of my life, we walked the few blocks to Target. On the way were statues of famous images and people. It was like the painted cows that were in NYC, but a little more touristy.

The coolest by far was the statues of the people in American Gothic, seen below. From the front, they were dead-accurate representations of the 2D picture. But from the side view, which has never been seen before, it took on a creepiness I didn't expect. These "people" had more character, a different energy. It might not be what Grant Wood intended, but it was cooool.

Can anyone spot Harley?? I bet not.

For reference...

Now that I look closer, the eyes are off. The woman seems too angry, and the guy's gaze is off to the size. Even the pitch fork is way off (probably from vandals). But at 7pm on Sunday in Stamford, none of that mattered.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Newest Beatle

This kid is adorable... and pretty good, too.

from YouTube:
Hero was born in Korea in September 2003. He has Beatles mania. His full Korean name is Ha,YoungWoong. YoungWoong (from Chinese) means "Hero" in English.

Starting at the end of 2005, Hero began to sing by himself and now he can sing about 40 of The Beatles songs and forty other old pop songs. Hero has not been trained in English or Music and has yet to live in or even visit any English-speaking countries. He just learned the songs by ear by himself and for his own amusement and after two months he finally managed to sing all 27 songs on The Beatles "1", though his pronunciation as a non-English speaker is a bit poor!!!

Hero has been dying to learn the guitar, but regretfully, he is too short and weak to get a tight grip on it with his fingers since he was only 90cm in 2007, last year and is still only 100cm now. Korea masscom regards him as a language prodigy; He was also featured in a Special Edition of BEST BABY in February 2008 (the most influential monthly parenting magazine in Korea).

One Issue Put to Rest

Q: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

A: The egg. The use of eggs for reproduction was around for millions of years before what we know as the chicken came into existence. So please, let's not ask that question any more.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The New Triscuits

Here is the new Triscuit packaging (old on the left, new on the right). I don't like it. I think the type looks unfinished, and the layout lacks personality. The food shot (what we call appetite appeal) is amazing, though. Harley loves the new pack. And since the target is women, which Harley is, that's all that matters.

Typically, Kraft (who owns Nabisco) has very bright, bold packaging. It feels very bubbly, for lack of a better word (bubble letters). This design is a much different look for them. More natural and wholesome looking. Almost European. It might be part of a larger trend towards Kraft being all about 'natural.' Check out the new Kraft salad dressing packaging, which is all about purity.

Kraft is not doing well. Its parent company Altria (aka Philip Morris, a corporation which I helped name and design), are looking to sell Kraft because it's bringing the rest of the stok down. No matter how expensive cigarettes are, people will pay. Hopefully for them, this will work. If not, some people I used to work with may be out of jobs.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

And Then She Kissed Me

Last night, we took a family trip for Friday Night Sushi. We love Friday night sushi. And we always go to the same spot: Yuko, on 81st & York. It's close by, cheaper than the busier restaurants on 2nd Ave, and it's never crowded. We always get a table right away and can usually pick the one we want (near the window, away from the door).

The biggest reason we go there is because they love Lilah. All the waitresses know her by name, treat her like a queen, and are generally awesome. They know to bring edamame right away, never complain about the mess on the floor, and always give us free ice cream at the end of the meal.

Last night, during the ice cream, Lilah wants out of the booster seat. So I put her on my play, and she is surprisingly happy there. I'm feeding her ice cream ("mooshi"?) and she's getting it all over her face. She leans her head back and looks up at me. Then, she puts her lips together. I've seen this behavior from a lady before, but never one with so much ice cream on her face and rice in her hair.

I lean it to her and she kisses me, right on the lips. It was so cute. Harley "awws" and we all crack up. We do it again. Just as cute. It's a big deal for me. Being a Daddy means unloading the car by yourself, but it also means I work and don't get to see her most of the day. So I live for these little moments. Like when she runs and gives me a bear hug when I get home from work.

Moments that I do not live for:
- hearing the "I'm ready to play" cry at 6am
- getting poked in the eye at 7am
- getting kicked in the face at 7:10am
- then the family jewels at 7:20am
- watching Dora before the time I usually wake up for work
- picking little pieces of eggs out of Lilah's hair
- watching Wonderpets... again

Friday, June 06, 2008

What I Learned Today

heavy cream soup for lunch = sleepy Andrew

must take nap

Building Update: Epilogue

Here's a closeup of the construction site. I've seen pix from far way, which look fairly clean. This image shows the damage and violence actually incurred.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Last Building Update

They've finally finished tearing down the building across the street. Here is the full procession of pictures. These over about 5 weeks time. Can't wait to see what they put up. And I hope to hell no cranes fall. No joke.

Monday, June 02, 2008

A Great Weekend

Every couple weeks or so, Harley and I like to have a family day. This is where we spend the whole together, just the 3 of us. We did that this Saturday. It was awesome. Lilah got up really early, so we were out of the house by 11:30am. We had fun (and a nap) at Bed Bath & Beyond. We then had a quick lunch at Harley's favorite French Bakery. Lilah ate all my cucumbers. We then spent an hour at the park, where Lilah ran for 60 minutes straight.

Harley doesn't like Lilah playing in the sand box. She is afraid of the germs other kids left behind. I disagree. She said "I'll send you the articles!" (I'm still waiting for those.) We disagreed on this before Lilah set off to explore the park, and Harley followed. I sat on the bench to rest cause my feet her (they always do). 25 minutes later, I see Harley coming around the corner of the park, with Lilah still running in front of her. Lilah's hands were covered in... you guessed, sand.

A: "I thought you didn't want her to play with sand?"
H: "She didn't."
A: "Then what's all over her hands?"
H: "Oh, that's mud."
A: "Isn't mud worse than sand?!?"
H: "Shhhh..."
A: "The rich-people sandbox in an Upper East Side Manhattan park is way better than the mud."
H: "I simply don't know what you are talking about."

It was awesome. Try as she might, Harley is way too cool to keep Lilah from being a kid. From there, we walked uptown to a street fair on 2nd Avenue. God damn, I love living in the city right now. No car, no plans, and we walk into all the action on our way home. Highlights include:
- kettle corn
- Lilah chomping down endless amounts of watermelon
- the worst karaoke ever
- the smell of funnel cake & deep fried oreos
- buying cheap sunglasses that look identical to a pair I already own
- the nap when we got home

It was a great day. We had a healthy dinner and cleaned up the apartment. Lilah went to bed early and I got to watch UFC. Awesome.

Sunday, we went to Long Island to visit Meme, Poppy, and Mammy. They bought her a small Dora beach chair. Lilah was sitting in it in the kitchen, and all 3 dogs ere taking turns licking her face, with Meme keeping a watchful eye right next to her. Lilah LOVED it. Harley looked on, conflicted by her fear of dogs but happy to see Lilah having so much fun. There was no traffic on the LIE, and we made it home in 40 minutes on a Sunday night. Perfect.