Sunday, December 7, 2008

Army, Navy, Philly, and Bush

This past Saturday, my Dad and I enjoyed some quality father-daughter bonding time by huddling under his wool "N blanket" and cheering on Navy at the109th Army-Navy game in Philadelphia. For the uninitiated, Army-Navy (also called "America's Game" by the clever marketing people) is one sporting event which maintains the pure spirit of rivalry and respect between the Military and Naval Academies.

"America's Game" may not be such a trite term after all. Amid the duality of the opposing teams, the palpable honor and patriotism uniting all the game participants and attendees actually brought me to tears at times. There was complete silence for the blessing followed by a hearty "Amen", and there was a muted reverence followed by quiet singing of both the National Anthem and the academy alma maters.

The Super-Hornet and Blackhawk flyovers were, as ever, incredibly cool, as were the Golden Knights and the Navy SEAL parachute teams (which came in extremely fast!). However, the overpowering silences which gripped the entire Lincoln Financial Field were ultimately more impressive than any subsonic engine roar!


Now for the other memorable moments:

Driving past some low-income housing north of Wilmington, I saw a hand-painted sign in the front lawn depicting a black man dressed in a graduation gown holding the hand of a little girl. The message said: "I will study hard, I will stay in school, and some day I will be the U. S. President".

Meanwhile, the current U. S. President was in attendance at this year's game. He took the field for the coin toss (using the special coin of his office based on the Presidential Seal) and was escorted from the Army side to the Navy side during half time, flanked by a line of grey cadets and white-hat midshipmen. In spite of myself, I did get a little thrill seeing his suited figure standing for photographs with the referees and team captains.

The thrill of seeing Bush live was replaced with a feeling of absolute incredulity when, as he was leaving the field at the end of the game, the music (that somebody chose to accompany the close-up images of him) on the jumbotron was the chorus of Green Day's "Holiday". I kid you not.

That producer had balls!

Courage, however, is reserved for the cadets and midshipmen past and present.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Dwarves that didn't make the short list

  • Sleazy
  • Sweaty
  • Nasty
  • Bloody
  • Angry
  • Lost
  • Crazy
  • Scrawny
  • Grisly
  • Snobby
  • Sticky
  • Wary
  • Hungry
  • Sexy
  • Smutty
  • Gory
  • Flabby
  • Sickly
  • Greasy
  • Soggy
  • Bitey
  • Foul
  • Tranny

Friday, June 20, 2008

Good Idea #2: Turning the perception tide for women in tech

I'd love to start a company that hires out college-age business, marketing and computer science majors to conferences.

I've been at CES the past two years (2007 and 2008) and while many booths conducted themselves professionally, I was surprised at the number of "booth babes" employed by even the big companies.

To be fair, many companies had live bands and a diverse blend of smiling marketers, men and women alike.

But sex obviously still sells, and nothing says "innovative tech" more than a vacuous blond in a tight-fitting company tee.

Enough. This is the 21st century, and women are tech consumers, too. Companies should stop hiring booth whores who aren't allowed to understand the finer points of their products.

Here's the beauty of matching young, fast-learning entrepreneurs with companies:

  • assuming the college program had a rigorous selection process, companies would be assured of receiving excellent, high-caliber volunteers
  • these conference booths are often staffed by the product leads and execs themselves, giving the students a unique mentorship opportunity leading to internships and career starts as well as the chance to see a product in development at the cutting edge
  • the product teams would gain the insight of a key young demographic
  • students can learn a product, promote it, engage the audience and match the passersby with the correct product lead more effectively than the aforementioned vacuous blond
  • female students taking part in this initiative will accurately represent the face of women in technology and business, while being made aware of the lingering chauvinism first-hand
  • the program could be worth college credits as part of a semester co-op agreement or similar
  • assuming local colleges would be engaged for major conferences, the students could also be an on-the-ground logistic team, helping to collect floor materials ahead of time and providing insight into the location

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Good Idea #1: Fantasia shorts for aspiring artists

Leading animation houses should promote and preserve animation talent by holding a competition to create Fantasia-like shorts which would then be short-listed to appear before major theatrical releases like Wall-E, Ratatouille, Toy Story 3, etc.

The group of semi-finalists would spend a summer on their creations at a design shop like Pixar where they would be mentored on the pro tools by the best in the industry. At the end of the season, one short (or a few) would be selected to accompany an upcoming movie release.

Other thoughts:

  • The work of the entire season would be archived and made available online / via disc for entertainment and study.
  • A single company like Pixar could sponsor the event single-handedly, but a wider association of animators (ASIFA) could easily assemble and participate (e.g. ILM, DreamWorks, Pixar and others), fueling healthy competition and cooperation.
  • Global participation could certainly be encouraged.
  • "Animation cook-offs", and other challenges designed to focus on a particular element of animation (depicting emotion through stance and body language; traditional sketch cartooning vs. rendering and implementing mo-cap; cueing to musical and programmatical events etc.) with reasonable time limits would mix up the talent group a bit to expose different approaches to creativity.
  • While pre-recorded music would be an obvious tribute to Fantasia (Tchaikovsky's 3rd movement from the 6th Symphony would be awesome!!!), student composers could undergo a similar competition and/or partner with the design teams to produce brand new creations.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The US economy: an apt metaphor

For some reason, the coverage of the US phantom recession on BBC World today made me associate the state of the US economy with a depressed cat: both are subjective states of existence, inscrutable to all but a few experts, and involve mysterious and often tenuous cures which the subjects themselves are powerless to enact.

On a tangential train of thought, the news coverage of the state of the US economy is coincidentally comparable to Schrödinger's depressed cat: "While we're thinking outside the box here, the US economy could be doing well. But it could ALSO be doing poorly. Or, it could be doing well. Then again, it COULD be trending downwards. On the other hand, it..." (Repeat ad nauseam)

Pic from Stock Exchange:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

An imagination-stretcher, gone but not forgotten

Arthur C. Clarke died today.

He wished to be remembered "most as a writer, one who entertained readers and hopefully stretched their imaginations as well".

I can't think of a better way to summarize 2001. For me, it introduced the idea (one which I still maintain) that humanity can achieve immortality by mastering science (compassion and tolerance are implied, I think).

Incidentally, I've been to Minehead, Clarke's birthplace. There was a prison-like Butlins and a few delapidated Victorian-era gambling halls along the waterfront, but no tribute to its famous son. Why does Britain find it so hard to celebrate and encourage appreciation of its ground-breaking intellectuals? Nothing here:

Tired of hiding eggs? Microwave some Peeps!

Don't try this at home, because A. it will ruin your microwave and B. someone else already did and shared the film footage.

The Peeps are the best. Watching them helplessly and inexorably balloon within their shrink-wrap while smiling vacantly is disturbing and hilarious.

Happy Easter!!!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A Chuck Berry song for all candidates

Heard "Johnny B. Goode" playing in the background as McCain celebrated his GOP nomination win last night. As much as I love Chuck Berry, it's a random song to have as your "theme", other than the "Johnny" association, when you consider the lyrics: never ever learned to read or write so well, but he could play a guitar just like a-ringing a bell.

Well, just for fun, here are some other suggested themesongs-candidate pairings:

Rudy Guiliani -- "Run, Run Rudolph"
Mitt Romney -- "I Want to Be Your Driver"
Ron Paul -- "No Particular Place to Go"
Mike Huckabee -- "My Ding-A-Ling"
Hillary Clinton -- "No Money Down"
Barack Obama -- "You Can't Catch Me"

Friday, February 22, 2008

Monday, February 18, 2008

Real Hungry Men

Nice to see people (Hungry-Man Dinners) still plundering stereotypes for advertising ideas:

This is the one where the blue collar workers grab their smoothies and yogurts then decide that they'll all head to the bathroom together to chat. Before that happens, however, they're fortunately reminded (here's where the point of the commercial kicks in) that real men need more than smoothies and yogurts** to conquer hunger.

That's right -- real men eat an entire pound of microwaveable frozen meat! Mmmmmmmmm!!

This might be why real men don't go to the bathroom together.

**Silly rabbit! Smoothies and yogurts are for silly, skinny women!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

"Don't you wish your girlfriend was a..."

"....GEEK like me!!"

Waiting for me on the landing outside the bedroom this morning was a Star Wars Valentine's Day card -- Princess Leia bending down to Artoo with "my only hope... ... is that you have a happy Valentine's Day" :)

Awww, thanks Ian!

Three observations:
-- the music is slow (flat) -- it plays in A whereas the soundtrack recording is B-Flat
-- what happens to the batteries and mini micro-chips play mechanisms built into these cards? Are they biodegradeable? Isn't this a little environmentally irresponsible?
-- the back of the card includes the music credit to John Williams -- (c) 1977 Bantha Music (BMI). :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"Anywhere is fine, Mr. Lord Vader sir..."

Saw this on my way to work today. It's probably aimed at Gotham residents, but Star Wars fans such as myself can't help but have other associations :)

"When she's ready for that very special diamond..."

When she's ready to hock her identity, independence and sexuality in exchange for a half-a-year's-salary gaudy hunk of compressed carbon (to benefit rich jewelers and the warlords of an impoverished African dictatorship), which you hope will be returned to you a year later when you divorce so you can sell it for half its original price, the ubiquitous diamond dealership of your choice will be waiting.

Happy Valentine's Day.