Wednesday, February 25, 2009

We're Moving!

Hi readers! As you know, I was considering moving my blog to WordPress, and after careful analysis and feedback from others (confirming what I had already suspected), I've decided to move my blog there.

Please update your bookmarks, Google Reader, RSS feeds, etc. accordingly. It is the exact same URL as before, except now use "wordpress" wherever you typed "blogspot" before.

The URL in its entirety:

I was able to transfer my old posts and comments, but now I have to update some of my links. I look forward to your feedback, but please bear with me while I update YouTube clips and other broken links.

See y'all over there and thanks so much for reading!



Inspired by my friend, Dances with Bacon over at the Rated X-tra Yummy blog, I decided to do a Wordle of my own blog.

Who knew my Wordle would be so darn nerdy?

I'm guessing it only analyzed my most recent posts. One was particularly heavy on the reading front, but I guess it didn't take into account that I haven't really finished any books lately. Funny stuff.

By the way, I definitely recommend making your own Wordle. If you love playing with fonts like me, you'll probably (also) take 20 minutes to perfect your own typography/layout/color combination. After much consideration I opted not to make my own color scheme, but chose one of the 20 or so choices listed.

Move to WordPress?

I keep debating my move to WordPress. Does anyone prefer WordPress to Blogger? Why? Why not? I hear great things about what you can do there if you know any HTML, but so far I've found WP to be confusing.

If it were possible, I'd like to make the move while keeping the blog looking pretty similar to the way it does now. I want to retain my "header" image, Georgia for the font, green margins and links to compliment the header picture and the ease in publishing.

Does anyone else have issues navigating WP? Or any suggestions on the whole?

I was able to import my Blogger work to date to WP, including all pictures I uploaded and comments. My YouTube clips didn't carry over though. I need to comb through and bring it up to the caliber of this site (not tooting my own horn, I'm simply acknowledging the need to improve elsewhere).

Here's what I've started. Better? Worse? Web gurus, please pass on any wisdom you can! Many thanks!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Foulest Commercial Ever

...or at least that I've seen in recent memory:

Definitely edgy. And makes me want to yak. A lot.

Brandfreak awarded it the "so bad it's good" award." "It’s not an image you’ll soon forget," they continued. Yeah, I'll say. Well, it certainly cuts through the clutter (and I'm not the only one who thinks so).

Interesting work from 180 LA in Santa Monica, Calif.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

It's a great day to be a Wahoo

I woke up today still smiling about UVA's win over VT last night.

I've been a Wahoo fan for years. While heralded in the academic realm, UVA's never been known as a football school, like Florida State (in their '90s heyday of course) or a USC. Despite sharing a state border with Duke and UNC, I'm not sure anyone's called UVA a basketball school either.

In my lifetime the big UVA sports accomplishments have been in lacrosse, a sport I first learned about when I saw American Pie, soccer and of late, tennis.

The overwhelming majority of positive things I've heard said about UVA basketball have been about Ralph Sampson, the undisputed king of Wahoo basketball, who played from 1979-1983. All I can tell you about him is he was the best player in the country at the time, was a 7'4" (yeah, you read that right) center and led UVA to its only Final Four in 1983. Oh yeah, then there was the biggest upset in college basketball history, when the #1 Sampson-led Cavaliers lost to a then-unknown school in Hawaii called Chaminade. UVA is all about Ralph Sampson facts and is always mentioning on viewbooks and other "come to our school" literature that he and Katie Couric (two of the most famous alums) lived on The Lawn. Fancy.

UVA's won the ACC in basketball once -- in 1976. They've been the the Final Four once -- the time with Sampson in '83.

And geez, up until last night we had even lost to Virginia Tech in our last three outings. All were decided by three or less points or an overtime.

This is the plight of the UVA fan. You watch in fear. How bad are they going to beat us this time?, you think when you enter our football stadium against a ranked opponent. Or How long until they blow it?, when they somehow build an comfortable, seemingly insurmountable lead.

But at last, we broke down that barrier at least. My Hoos beat the Hokies 75-61 at the JPJ last night. (And even crazier, beat #12 Clemson at home over the weekend. But this is our rival. This is Virginia Tech!)

Finally, I can say (and this will surely come back and bite me at some point)...


At least they did last night. And even more today than most days, I'm proud, proud, proud to be an alum.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Easily distracted F, ISO way out of a reading rut

Elaine: These are good people, Jerry. They read!
Jerry: I read, I read!
Elaine: Books, Jerry.
Jerry: Oh.

I was watching this Seinfeld episode earlier tonight and caught myself laughing uncontrollably. Who doesn't read books? Oh right, I don't.

I do read, of course, and more or less constantly. I'm just reading blogs on my RSS feed, scouring the news online and reading interesting articles my friends share with me via Google Reader and Twitter.

Anyway, my problem, like Jerry's, lies in books. It's not that I don't enjoy them. I have become quite the collector over the years, accumulating a pretty impressive library. Disliking books isn't the problem... it's that I start too many simultaneously and can never finish them.

It strikes me that the last book I read from start to finish might actually be Hey Whipple, Squeeze This! by Luke Sullivan two, make that three semesters ago. Ouch. I've probably written a book's worth since then!

I'll end up starting a new book I'm excited about, read a few chapters, and then next thing I know I've picked up another book and started reading it too, before finishing the first one. Then another. And another. Next thing I know I'm knee deep in five or ten books and never finish any of them. Case in point, here's a photo of what I'm reading now:

What?! That's 10 books! Yeah, it's a problem. But they're all worth reading, so I can't quit! I need help! Heaping amounts of help -- and sanity.

So what am I reading? And why? Here's a rundown of the 10:
  • The Appeal, by John Grisham. I love everything this guy writes. And this guy can write one helluva suspenseful legal thriller. I'm on about page 138 in this one, which is easily the furthest along I am in any of them.

  • The New Rules of Marketing and PR, by David Meerman Scott. It's about the PR and marketing in the digital era and delves into issues like social media. Couldn't say a lot more about it since I'm only on page 15 or so.

  • Dixieland Delight, by Clay Travis. This book's about a guy who goes to a home football game at every SEC school in one season and reports about the tradition, tailgating, food and cultural spectacle of each event. Each chapter covers a different program and it's a little heavy on the frat guy-ish "hot ladies" talk. Otherwise it's an interesting read and I love the idea. Wouldn't mind going on the same adventure myself. I'm on page 98, thanks in a large part to riding the Metro in DC a lot this past weekend.

  • Cutting Edge Advertising II, by Jim Aitchison. As you might guess this is about creating cutting edge advertising that breaks through clutter. It's probably a pretty good read, but didn't make much for beach or pool reading this summer. I still chug along on it occasionally though. I think I'm on about page 60, but I'm starting to forget things I read about in it earlier.

  • Adobe Flash CS4 Classroom in a Book. This is a how-to book intended to teach me how to use Flash. An admirable personal goal, but I'm only on about page 15. Must keep trucking on that one!

  • The Non Designer's Design Book, by Robin Williams. The book is probably great if you're clueless about design, but I'm using it to make sure I have my bases covered before tackling anything much more advanced. It's OK, but nothing spectacular. I just want to learn from the beginning, so this should be a breeze. Too bad I'm on page 22.

  • Southern Belly: The Ultimate Food Lover's Guide to the South, by John T. Edge. This book's a little disappointing, but I love food, especially fried delicious southern food... don't even get me started. I keep it around for obvious reasons, because not only do I like tasting food, but I love talking food. And we all know I have a soft spot for geography and the south so, why quit? It goes state by state, and I'm on the first one.

  • The Choice, by Nicholas Sparks. Disclaimer: yes, I'm quite cheesy and I love Sparks books. Yeah, this is a romance story, just like they all are, and I know he's going to break my heart again. But I love the ride, and Sparks is an incredibly gifted writer. I can't resist... until another book snags my attention. I'm on page 113.

  • Graphic Design School, Third Edition, by David Dabner. This book is excellent! Sometimes I wish I went to design grad school instead of advertising grad school (I stress sometimes), and this book does an excellent job of walking you through the basics of good design, element by element. I'm largely self taught when it comes to things artistic, so I appreciate it immensely. I have it on loan now from the library but really should cough up the $45 to buy it (and by $45 I mean probably $15 if I look hard enough). In the meantime, I'm on page 38.

  • And last but not least, Hockey for Dummies, by John Davidson and John Steinbreder. I'm interested in one day working in sports and there's the possibility that that opportunity could be in hockey. It wouldn't hurt to know more about it. Also, for some reason I follow and am followed by tons of people working in NHL on Twitter. I'll admit, that's what really made me interested in learning more and picking this up at the library. I'm on page 15 though, but that's because I'm such a hockey dummy (OK, novice) that I'm reading all the prologue business too.
Well there you have it. Anyone have any suggestions for an easily amused/easily distracted person in the midst of 10 books? Where should I go from here? Has anyone read any of these and think any are must reads? Any I should dump or throw off a bridge? How do you stop yourself from picking up new books and follow through and finish what you start? Can I ask any more questions?

In the meantime, I'm going to stew on this quote from one of my favorite authors.

"The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." --Mark Twain

In honor of Mr. Twain, I'm going to read the Grisham book until I fall asleep tonight. And maybe when I'm done I'll finally start The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Or The Prince and the Pauper. Sweet dreams, world.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Big 12 Twins

If you know me well, you probably have heard me comment at one time or another that Texas basketball coach Rick Barnes and my favorite author, John Grisham, look alike.

Left: Rick Barnes, Right: John Grisham

As of yesterday, I also noticed that the Kansas basketball coach, Bill Self looks a lot like Virginia governor, Tim Kaine.

Left: Bill Self, Right: Tim Kaine


Friday, February 13, 2009

Dice not so lucky for me

A few days ago I wrote a post about the Finley Quaye song, "Dice." Well, the song may be lucky for Marissa Cooper, Ryan Atwood, Chuck Bartowski, and Morgan Grimes, but Sports Kate, not so much.

I was driving to DC to visit my boyfriend for the weekend and got a call from a recruiter at a large agency I interviewed at a few weeks ago. I was pretty sure I wasn't getting the job, but got the confirmation call while listening to Music from The O.C.: Mix 1*, track 10 (the very song that's lucky for everyone else) en route when I got the call.

I'm OK with it. Honest truth is, rejection is pretty nice these days. Most of the time you don't hear anything. People could be flushing my applications down the toilet upon arrival for all that I know. Or throwing my resume and cover letter in some gigantic weekly bonfire with all the materials from other rejected applicants. (If that's the case, where's my invitation? I'm a country girl for crying out loud, I love a good bonfire!) Or maybe they're all getting flown around in some fancy spaceship for eventual deposit in some intergalactic landfill. Who knows.

All I know is that when I have my lucky phone call a song other than "Dice" will be playing in the background. What lucky song that will be is anyone's guess. Oh well. One down, one less than infinity to go in finding out what my lucky song is.

*You can hate on me all you want for owning this CD. I own mixes 1, 2 and 4 from the show. All of them are quite wonderful. Alexandra Patsavas supervised music for The O.C. and now does for Grey's Anatomy and Gossip Girl. The lady has good taste and her work introduced me to several pretty sweet musicians including Death Cab for Cutie, Jem, Sufjan Stevens and South. She knows what she's doing and she's more than welcome to bring her own iPod to DJ my next shindig.

Life's too short to be so cynical

A few years ago I had a part-time summer job where I sold bets or "wagers" at the local horse-racing track. Yep, I was a bookie, according to my friends. It was your typical summer job... outdoorsy, not too rigorous, and it had an insignificant commute and bizarre hours. Anyway, my duties consisted of sitting on a barstool for five- and six-hour shifts, wearing a polo shirt and khakis and ringing up bets. The stools were populated by all sorts of "tellers" as we were called: college students on breaks (like me), teachers who had summers off, retirees who sought the socializing, those who worked at OTBs (off-track betting parlors) and others that were lured by the $12/hr plus tips the job offered.

Anyway, all types of people came to bet there as well: compulsive gamblers, families with young kids that wanted to see horses, 20-somethings that yearned to spend a summer day outside whilst draining mint juleps and other higher brow concoctions, and Red Hat Society ladies.

My personal pet peeve was when people asked the same stupid questions repeatedly. There'd always be the guy who asked you to explain what an exacta or trifecta box was right before every race of the day's 12-race program. Or the lady who would bet on a horse to win and thus not be able to collect the money she could have if she made a place or show bet. And she'd complain that she was robbed after every race, despite your numerous explanations. I didn't mind the first or second explanation, but the repetition beyond that grated my nerves.

Anyway, one day I muttered something to a retiree sitting beside me about a customer who had annoyed me in about five or so straight races with the same question. The race had gone off a ndI was always cautious not to complain when customers were around. The other teller was someone I had shared many a laugh with and we had bonded over our similar senses of sarcasm.

"You know, you're too young to be this cynical," he said to me, in complete seriousness.

I was flabbergasted; I skipped a breath. What?, I almost yelled in immediate defiance.

The man's comment pierced through me like nothing anyone had ever said to me before. It was honest. Painfully honest. The brutal directness I so badly needed. And I knew it.

I had no choice but to make a conscious effort to change my attitude. I didn't have a poisonous attitude by any stretch of the imagination, but I was sarcastic, pessimistic, and yeah, cynical.

It hasn't been easy. If anyone enjoys making snide comments or wisecracks, it's me. But there's a time and place for all that. It was at this moment that I realize that the time and place wasn't everywhere and always.

Sure, I'm still pretty sarcastic today, but I think I'm a lot more level-headed. I don't get angry when I see PDA. Now I sorta smile and think about how nice it is when you're in love. If people ask annoying (or repetitive) questions, I now breathe, answer them politely, and move on. If people are participating in something I deem odd, I don't judge as much. Life's too short. Let them be who they are, have fun. Who's to say anything I ever say or do is any less idiotic or embarrassing or worthy of admonishing?

I think as a society, we're too quick to judge. Too ready to complain (OK, I acknowledge I violate this rule continually, but hey, I'm trying to reform!). Always disapproving of others without any real justification.

I say, just try to be more optimistic. Open-minded. Loving. Free to express ourselves without judgment. If you can't be this way everyday, just try to be it some days. Over time, you'll be kinder. You'll go from one day a week of optimism to three. Life is too short to hold all this excessive pent-up anger. You know it is.

And trust me, people pick up on cynicism. Not everyone's going to tell you something you need to fix. I'm so glad that man told me though, because who knows where I'd be without it.

Again, bitterness has a time and a place. And yes, it can be funny. But don't let it be your only funny.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Nothing can compare to when you roll the dice and play the same poignant song...

Is there anyone else who was both an avid The O.C. fan and watches Chuck?

I just started watching the latter a few weeks ago. (Sidebar: I was a huge fan of The O.C. when it first came out. It's first season is certainly one of the best seasons of television I've ever watched. It fell apart for me sometime in the second season, though I still watched most of that season, but then quit sometime before seasons three and four.) My mom gave my dad Chuck's first season for Christmas, and once they finished watching, it got passed along to me. I love the show. I've only seen the first season and part of the way through the premiere of the second season... thanks slow DSL and your long waits for buffering Hulu.

Anyway, I couldn't help but notice that Chuck's producer, Josh Schwartz, opted to use the exact same song, "Dice" by Finley Quaye and William Orbit, for a similar scene in Chuck as he had for The O.C., the show he had created and produced in 2003. It blew my mind. Take a look:

Earlier in the episode, Marissa (the girl at the party) accidentally let the L-bomb slip to her boyfriend, Ryan and they spent New Year's Eve apart. Then it was a race against the clock for Ryan to make it to Oliver's party to kiss Marissa by midnight.

On Chuck, Chuck is a Nerd Herder (think member of Best Buy's Geek Squad) by day and secret agent by night. As one might expect this life poses constant conflict with real life and often drags him away from plans he's made with Ellie, his sister, or his best friend Morgan. Every year Morgan and Chuck dress as a sandworm for their annual Halloween party. Once again, spy duty called for Chuck and it wasn't looking like Chuck would make the party in time. But wouldn't you know, he made it at the last second, and guess what song came on:

Did anyone else notice?

Also, here's some more trivia: Josh Schwartz is also the producer for Gossip Girl. Let's hope Chuck and Gossip Girl can maintain their momentum for longer than their Schwartzian predecessor. Maybe there will be more inside jokes to look forward to on the programs in the future.