Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I Officially Hate Politics

I haven't watched any of the conventions. I can't stand the excitement, or the corn cob hats. I don't can't who wore what or said about so-and-so. Turn off MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, everyone. Just go away. Politics is not a rock concert. It is serious and shouldn't be given to bouts of uncontrollable dancing.

I refuse to watch the conventions. I tape the Daily Show and let them tell me what really happened. Sarcasm breeds the best pundits.

Mad Magazine has mysteriously been delivered to my door for 2 months now. No idea how it got there, but I think it was so I could see these 2 political spoofs. As the young priest in Mad Men said, "this is how God works."

Packaging Changes Only I Would Notice

Aveeno Foaming Face Cleanser
My trusted brand. Looks like the design mavens at J&J in Chelsea (I'm talking to you, Chris Hacker & Elan Cole), have gotten their hands on Aveeno. I've worked with them quite a bit. My guess is the brief was to take this brand from sensitive-skin with a earthy feel to skin-care that gives an overall sense of well-being.

The fonts are cleaner, much more simple and straightforward. The bottle is now a white opaque, rather than semi-translucent, and the leaf icon now a subtle watermark. The logo is also tweaked.

I didn't like it at first. The watermark may be outdated, but it was the navigation tool I used to find the dam thing on shelf. Now, I'm OK with it. I see what J&J is trying to do. But the biggest problem is that they are doing on ALL their brands! Look at the change Rembrandt went through. Other items in their portfolio were redesigned, though I can't tell you which ones they were.

Beware: the definition of "clean and contemporary" changes every year and can move to generic real fast.

Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisturizer

(OK, now you almost have a sense of my full facial routine.) Yet another J&J brand on the move. Here, the change is all about color. They moved the overall brand color from a light blue to black.

My guess is that they have a more successful sub-line that owns that blue and want to create a block of blue on shelf for that product. But to do this, you need to establish black as the overarching color for the brand so you don't have competing blues in the portfolio.

It's smart. I get it. Not sure everyone will, but in 12 months they won't have a choice. My problem is black. When I see black in the skin care section, I immediately think of acne. Blackheads. Black spots. Black circles under my eyes. It gives the brand a harder edge, one that doesn't jive with the natural, "dermatogist-approved" softness I expect.

I'm sure there was a good reason for this. These brand architecture problems (that's the real name) are never easy to solve. But black seems like a misstep.

Sorry for the poor pix. Blame my Blackberry. And yes, I do this for a living.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Totally Not Legal

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed to The Epoch Times thursday morning that it has asked the International Gymnastics Federation to investigate the Chinese gymnastics underage fiasco, following new evidence that at least two gymnasts competed under the legal age in the Olympics.

If the allegations are true, the Chinese team will be stripped of their golds, meaning the US will move from Silver to Gold. Somehow, the gold doesnt feel as good so much time after the event. But the principle of the issue deserves further investigation.

Other uncool Olympic moments

Cuban taekwondo athlete kicks an official in the face after getting disqualified from taking too long to recover from an injury.

Swedish wrestler Ara Abrahamian throws down his medal after getting a bronze by a judge's decision, when he felt he deserved better.

More on the Tiananmen Tank Man

The suppression of the protest was immortalized in Western media by the famous video footage and photographs of a lone man in a white shirt standing in front of a column of tanks which were attempting to drive out of Tiananmen Square. Taken on June 5 as the column approached an intersection on the Avenue of Eternal Peace, the footage depicted the unarmed man standing in the center of the street, halting the tanks' progress.

As the tank driver attempted to go around him, the "Tank Man" moved into the tank's path. He continued to stand defiantly in front of the tanks for some time, then climbed up onto the turret of the lead tank to speak to the soldiers inside. He reportedly said, "Why are you here? You have caused nothing but misery." After returning to his position blocking the tanks, the man was pulled aside by secret police.

Eyewitness reporter Charlie Cole believes that "Tank Man" was probably executed after being taken from the tank by secret police, since the Chinese government could not ever produce him to hush the outcry from the civilized world. Time Magazine dubbed him The Unknown Rebel and later named him one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. British tabloid the Sunday Express reported that the man was 19-year-old student Wang Weilin; however, the veracity of this claim is dubious.

What happened to the 'Tank Man' following the demonstration is not known for certain. In a speech to the President's Club in 1999, Bruce Herschensohn — former deputy special assistant to President Richard Nixon — reported that he was executed 14 days later. In Red China Blues: My Long March from Mao to Now, Jan Wong writes that the man is still alive and hiding in mainland China. In Forbidden City, Canadian children's author William Bell, claims the man was named Wang Ai-min and was killed on June 9 after being taken into custody.

The last official statement from the PRC government about the "Tank Man" came from Jiang Zemin in a 1990 interview with Barbara Walters. When asked about the whereabouts of the "Tank Man", Jiang responded that the young man was "I think never killed".[14]

from Wikipedia...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Speaking of China...

Tiananmen Square Massacre of June 4, 1989, part of the Tiananmen Square protests, a series of demonstrations in and near Tiananmen Square led by labor activists, students, and intellectuals.

While the protests lacked a unified cause or leadership, participants were generally against the authoritarianism and economic policies of the ruling Chinese Communist Party and voiced calls for democratic reform within the structure of the government.

A BBC report live from the event back in '89. Worth watching.

The government said hundreds were killed. Others say thousands of innocent protesters were killed as the army fired indiscrimintantly into the crowd. One report says up to 7,000 people were killed. Kind of puts a different perspective on the host nation.

(content borrowed from Wikipedia)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My Homecoming

I was away Monday night and got back late Tuesday night. Harley's mom stayed over Monday night, and Lilah was in heaven. If you don't know, Lilah calls Harley's mom "Mimi." She got to sleep in the bed with Mommy and Mimi and played all day long.

I come home hoping/expecting a loving welcome from my daughter, whom I missed dearly. I walk in the door - our eyes meet - I smile at Lilah - Lilah looks at Harley.

"No, DaDa. Mimi. Bye, Dada! Mimi! Mimi! Bye, Dada!!" When she realizes I'm not going anywhere, her tears start falling. Exhausted, cranky, and rejected, I go and unpack in the bedroom.

She follows me in a few minutes later. A few verses of "Wheels on the Bus" on the guitar (my specialty) and we're friends again. But I now know where I firmly stand - 3rd place. Throw PopPop in the mix (my Dad), and I don't even get the bronze.

Can't Get Enough Heller?

Don't worry, there's another one coming...

Hi Baby, M!!! We can't wait to see you!!

I've had the feeling that there was something, or some one missing from our happy little family for a little while. So we're ecstatic that there will be a new addition. I'm already ecstatic that the first trimester is over, cause it is NO fun living with a woman who is constantly nauseous.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Pictures From My Travels

The new SoBe packaging, which I had more than just a hand in designing. It came out well, though I'll never truly understand this brand.

A new, high-powered hand dryer from Dyson. Yep, Dyson the vacumn guys are now making "the most hygenci hand dryer" out there. You put you your hands inside the area with the 2 arcs (very different from normal). The air comes out horizontally and very strong. You raise them up and down till they are dry. It worked fine, a big improvement from the standard. But I was still too impatient to wait till my hands were totally dry. I do love that Dyson extended the brand here. It's strange, but if fits with the idea of making everyday items better. A very compelling brand story.
Only NYC's finest limousine services let you use the USED seat belts. (My love pic to Harley) Why, hello there. I've got the champagne and the strawberries ready to go. All that's missing is you...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Traveling Gratitude

Thank You, Continental Airlines, for making me go to terminal C, only then to make me take a shuttle bus to Terminal A, all before 7:30am. Thank for having no hot breakfast options at Terminal A.

Thank You, Budweiser Brewhouse at Terminal A, for the attitude. It was the most unimpressive breakfast burrito ever. And no, asking to have sausage put in it is NOT unheard of.

Thank you, Continental, for giving me a flight attendant on cocaine.

Thanks again, Continental, for making me wait to get off the plane and then not opening the jetway door for 10 minutes. I love standing in an aluminum tin can in the sun. Really.

Thank you, Baja Fresh, for the unholy gas your delicious lunch gave me. Special shout out to the research facility for using sandpaper as toilet paper.

Thank you, peanut M&M's, for the 3 cavities and never-ending temptation.

Thank you, Southfield Marriot of Detroit, for giving me the room as far away from the elevator as possible. After a 12 hour day, God knows I could use the exercise. Not only am I exhausted, I'm staying at the hotel from the Shining.

Thank you, Marriot, for cooking my steak medium-well when I SPECIFICALLY asked for it RARE. Of course I couldn't send it back, because I was alone with 4 clients and already ordered the most expensive thing on the menu and didn't want to look like an ass sending my food back. I suffered through the crap piece of leather and couldn't even pick the stuff stuck in my teeth.

Thank you, Giants, for winning. Fuck you, Giants. GO EAGLES.

Thank you, clients, for not ordering dessert, when that was the part I was most looking forward to. As much as I wanted it, I couldn't be the only schumck with a chocolate mousse.

Thank you, clients, for not saying thank you after I pay for dinner. Not even a token smile. Nice. I really loved all the stories about people I don't know. No better way to spend 3 hours, other than the dentist's chair. Nice.

Thanks again, Marriot, for the bathroom sink that doesn't drain. Thank you gravity for letting all my toiletries fall into the sink full of nasty water.

Thank you, free internet porn, for just being you.

Beijing's Olympic Venues

A cool interactive map that shows all the Olympic venues in Beijing. I never understood how big the city was, nor did I realize the scope of how much happens everyday at the Olympics.

Seems like a waste for so much that has to be in place or built by the host country for just 3 weeks. That being said, I would love to have them in NYC! Maybe the East side subway would be pushed along to allow for the higher traffic. Sure there would be downsides and hassles that would suck, but it would be so cooool.

I have no idea how London is going to top Beijing. China put so much into these games, and it shows. Yes, there are scandals and problems (9yr olds who aren't cute enough, pre-taped fireworks, underaged gymanists), but come on... this is China!! They have been relatively well behaved for an oppresive, censor-happy, human-rights-ignoring totalitarian regime.

By the way, Micheal Phelps is awesome. Such an amazing athlete, he redefines what greatness means. And he still seems like a such nice kid. He deserves every cereal box and magazine cover that comes his way.

Famous Brands for Sale

Interesting information on some classic brands. I knew about Wisk and All but had no idea about Exxon!

This post comes courtesy of my Dad, who recently turned 94, or something similar.

Happy Birthday, Dad!! Love you! Can you hear me? Should I speak louder? H-A-P-P-Y B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y!!!

Word Quiz

Try and guess the most common words in the English language. This was a lot of fun for the first 30 seconds. I lost interest after 1:32 minutes.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Written in Spite of Myself

I'm not feeling like blogging, recently. I've been traveling for work, with the family in tow. I'd come home from some stressful meetings and watch Lilah play with her cousins while Dad made steak for dinner. Then, we'd watch the olympics for hours while I got drunk on beer some one else bought specifically for me. If only every day could be so good.

I'm trying really hard to not let having to do 3 things at once all day long bother me. I could have been a juggler as an adult, I've gotten so good at this.

I f*cking love watching the Olympics. Were those opening cereonies amazing or what?!? The most exciting event has been the men's 4x100M relay, where USA won it by a hair. It makes staying up till 1am worth it, if no less difficult.

I love the gymasts, especially Alicia Sacramone. Apparently, I am not alone. She might have single-handedly blown our chances for a gold medal, but in a wierd way that just make her hotter. Hands off, America. I saw her first. (Don't tell Harley.)

Those Chinese gymasts are no way in hell 16! One of them was missing a tooth. A baby tooth, which are supposed to be gone by age 12. but they have passports to prove their age. Who would give them passports with a false birth date? I'm looking at you, Chinese government.

Harley is awesome. Harley loves dogs.

My favorite cheese steak: chicken cheese steak with hot peppers, fried onions, and mayo on a toasted bun. The mayo is surprisingly awesome, adding a creaminess with a hint of vinegar that complements the salty meat. Andrew hungry....

Lilah continues to be the most adorable thing on the planet. The best sound in the world is "Dada! Dada! Dada!" Imagine that with her running towards you with a huge smile. Cannot be beat.

After 5 days in Philly, I gained 3 pounds. I had a very good time. These toll house cookies at 11:13pm are NOT helping.