Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Power of Advertising

There are ads, then there are ads…

Viagra: Wood

Advertising Agency: TBWA\PHS, Helsinki, Finland
Art Director: Tuukka Tujula
Copywriter: Taro Korhonen
Illustrator: Elisa Konttinen
Photographer: Kimmo Virtanen
Post-production: Fake Graphics
Art buyer: Kirsi Pärni
Published: November 2009

Some ads just tell it like it is, and require absolutely no text whatsoever to get the message across. This is one of those.

A tip of the hat to Ads of the World, ibelieveinadv, Creativity Online, and Creative Criminals for the links and info on this superb ad.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

50 Most Captivating Book Covers of All Time

Can you judge a book by its cover?

Saturday morning diversion: went looking for original 1951 cover of the late J.D. Salinger's classic The Catcher in the Rye and stumbled into this amazing resource that had so many favorites.

Judging the Book: 50 Most Captivating Covers of All Time

The author states in part:catch22-cover

“They say that you can’t judge a book by its cover, but every year publishers spend loads of time and effort getting designers to create covers that will stand out from the crowd of books on the shelf and get consumers to take them home. The cover may not tell the story, but it is certainly an important part of how people choose and remember their favorite books.”

There was a categorized list of the various “captivating covers,” many of which this reader was able to not only identify, but had actually read over the ages. The covers truly “have stood out for their innovative designs, great artwork or just plain eye-catching images…” Here are the categories represented:

  • Classics The Great Gatsby-Fitzgerald
    Many of these covers have become as iconic as the books they represent.
  • Non-Fiction
    From memoirs to philosophy tomes, these books have covers that make them stand out.
  • Modern Works
    Take a look at these covers to see some inspiring and intriguing artwork.
  • Innovative Designs
    The cover designs on these books take the art form to new places with fresh ideas and new ways to bring in readers to the material.
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy
    From the bold minimalism of Chip Kidd to the lush illustrations of Michael Whelan, these book covers are hard to forget.
  • Children’s Literature
    These books have memorable artwork both inside and out.

Found it quite interesting that the cover for Jack Keroac’s On the Road had been illustrated by none other than Len Deighton, On the Road-Jack Kerouac the British military historian, cookery writer, and novelist, perhaps most famous for his spy novel The Ipcress File. He obviously went on to become a great author in his own right, but before all that he designed the cover for Keroac’s classic beat generation book.

Another was Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends, the children’s classic which he wrote and did the cover art and illustrations. This poet, singer-songwriter, musician, composer, cartoonist, screenwriter, and author of children's books sometimes styled himself as Uncle Shelby, especially for his early children's books. Lesser known was that he also wrote for Playboy, and his writing was in a class of its own…  but his drawings are whimsical and endearing enough to stand alone.

In any case, visit the page and see how many if them that you recognize. You may be surprised at what you’ll find.

Original 1951 cover of the late J.D. Salinger's classic The Catcher in the Rye


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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Deteriorata / Desiderata

You are a fluke of the universe.
You have no right to be here.

"Deteriorata" is a famous parody of San Francisco radio and television personality Les Crane's spoken word recording of "Desiderata." It was recorded by National Lampoon as part of their 1972 National Lampoon Radio Dinner album. Les Crane himself admitted to preferring this version over his own Grammy-winning recording of the original poem. Voiceover talent Norman Rose read the "poem" and then-little-known Melissa Manchester was a background singer on the chorus section of the song.



Go placidly amidst the noise and waste, and remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof. Avoid quiet and passive persons, unless you are in need of sleep. Rotate your tires. Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself; and heed well their advice, even though they be turkeys.

Know what to kiss - and when. Consider that two wrongs never make a right, but that three do. Wherever possible, put people on hold. Be comforted, that in the face of all irridity and disillusionment, and despite the changing fortunes of time, there is always a big future in computer maintenance.

You are a fluke of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
Whether you can hear it or not,
The universe is laughing behind your back.

Remember the Pueblo. Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate. Know yourself. If you need help, call the FBI. Exercise caution in your daily affairs, especially with those persons closest to you... That lemon on your left, for instance. Be assured that a walk through the seas of most souls would scarcely get your feet wet. Fall not in love, therefore, it will stick to your face.

Gracefully surrender the things of youth: the birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan - and let not the sands of time get in your lunch. Hire people with hooks. For a good time, call 606-4311, ask for Ken. Take heart in the deepening gloom that your dog is finally getting enough cheese. And reflect that whatever misfortune may be your lot, it could only be worse in Milwaukee.

Therefore, make peace with your god, whatever you perceive him to be: hairy thunderer or cosmic muffin. With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal, the world continues to deteriorate. Give up!

You are a fluke of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
Whether you can hear it or not,
The universe is laughing behind your back.

~ National Lampoon, 1972

Note: The word "Deteriorata" is a portmanteau of "Desiderata" and deteriorate. There's a decent video of the original music from the National Lampoon album here:

For those so interested in reading the original from which the above was based, it was written by Max Ehrmann in 1952, and can be found here: Desiderata.

Above all, remember this:

  • Whether you can hear it or not, The universe is laughing behind your back.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Electronic pest repellent force-field in your home!

But wait… stay tuned for our Special Offer!

I have some neighbors who truly love to buy things that they see on the infomercials that appear on late-night television. I won't name them but let's just call them Wally and Wanda, a nice couple approaching retirement age.

Wally is always picking up the phone and responding to the ads and infomercials for special “male products” such as the Enzyte Male Enhancement Formula(and yes, they have it here, but more on this at another time).

Wanda, on the other hand is somewhat more practical, and orders such products as The Clapper Sound Activated On/Off Switch, Mighty Mendit, and those ShamWow wipes from Vince Shlomi, to name a few. They have a closet full of things like this.

In any case, early last summer Wanda saw a television ad for
Riddex Plus product which promised to turn their home's electrical wiring into “a pest repellent force-field” or something to that effect, and that they were having a promotion during their “chemical free campaign” to help eliminate roaches and rodents. At least that's the way that Wally remembered the dialog when Wanda woke him up to tell him about it.

Then she heard the magic words that went something like: “But wait... order now and get a second Riddex Plus for FREE!” That's all she needed to hear; she picked up the phone and ordered their generous buy-one-get-one-for-free deal. A few weeks later their Riddex Plus units arrived, and a grumbling Wally plugged them in for her, one upstairs and the other downstairs in the kitchen, according to the directions.

It should be noted here that Wanda and Wally have a nice two-story townhouse down the street from me, and it always seems very clean and neat when I'm there. They have never had a "bug problem" in the 12+ years they have lived there. But remember that townhouses share common walls with neighbors, and in their case that have a common wall on each side.

Moving time forward to the winter, and the weather had turned cold. I was returning home and Wally approached and asked me for a bit of help. It seemed that suddenly their home had turned into what Wally was referring to as “the Roach Motel” as for the first time they seemed to have an infestation of cockroaches... as did their neighbors on both sides. Angry accusations about dirty homes were flying back and forth between neighbors, and finally an exterminator was called to take care of three homes in one visit.

Don't know exactly what transpired when the exterminator went into Wally and Wanda's townhouse, but when he went into the kitchen and saw the wondrous Riddex Plus unit plugged into the wall, he is alleged to have pointed at it and told them that there was the problem, and that it was a “roach and bug magnet.” Wanda got upset and the exterminator shrugged his shoulders, pointed to their computer and suggested that she “look it up on the Internet.”

In any case, Wally and I unplugged the Riddex Plus units (he needed reinforcement) and threw them out, and he told her to just smack any bugs with a shoe or newspaper. Wanda was still looking for a more refined solution than that. I suggested that if she didn't want to hire an exterminator again or smack the cockroaches with a newspaper, then she just go online and get a tennis racket shaped Charcoal Companion Amazing Bug Zapper, load it with batteries and zap the bugs. Wanda said that she couldn't bring herself to do that.
We left it at that, but the next day Wally came up to me, chuckling, and told me that Wanda had ordered the Amazing Bug Zapper.

Hope that it works better for them than the Riddex Plus units.

[See my original Amazon product review on the Riddex Plus.]

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Zappa on Absurdity

To me — absurdity is the only reality
~ Frank Zappa

The legendary (1940–1993) was a prolific American composer, musician, record producer, and film director. In a career spanning more than thirty years, Zappa wrote rock, jazz, electronic, orchestral, and musique concrete works. He also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed album covers. Zappa produced almost all of the more than sixty albums he released with the band Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist. 

But he was also a philosopher, and is today perhaps one of the most widely quoted musicians of the 20th century. He was also a keen observer of the absurd in much of what he saw in the world, and wasn't afraid to speak what was on his mind. Here are some of his best thoughts and reflections:

On Parenting:

    • The first thing you have to do if you want to raise nice kids, is you have to talk to them like they are people instead of talking to them like they're property.
      ~ Appearance on The Howard Stern Show (1987)

    • Parents have more to do with making their children weird than TV or rock and roll records. The only other thing that makes them weirder than TV and parents is religion and drugs.
      ~ Zappa & Occhiogrosso: Real Frank Zappa Book (1989)

    • The more boring a child is, the more the parents, when showing off the child, receive adulation for being good parents — because they have a tame child-creature in their house.
      ~ Interview with Ben Watson, Mojo Magazine (1993)

      On Politics:

        • When God created Republicans, he gave up on everything else
          ~ Appearance on Thicke of the Night (1984)

        • I have four children, and I want them to grow up in a country that has a working first amendment.
          ~ Appearance on CBS Morning News (1985)

        • The biggest threat to America today is not communism. It's moving America toward a fascist theocracy, and everything that's happened during the Reagan administration is steering us right down that pipe ... When you have a government that prefers a certain moral code derived from a certain religion and that moral code turns into legislation to suit one certain religious point of view, and if that code happens to be very, very right wing, almost toward Attila the Hun...
          ~ Appearance on Crossfire (1986) 

            On Scientology:

              • Scientology, how about that? You hold on to the tin cans and then this guy asks you a bunch of questions, and if you pay enough money you get to join the master race. How's that for a religion?
                ~ To a concert audience at the Rockpile, Toronto (1969)

                  On Rock Journalism:

                    • Being interviewed is one of the most abnormal things that you can do to somebody else. It's two steps removed from the inquisition.
                      ~ Interview on the UK's Channel 4 (6/1/1983)

                    • The rock and roll business is pretty absurd, but the world of serious music is much worse.
                      ~ Interview on London Plus (1984) 

                    • Rock journalism is people who can't write, interviewing people who can't talk, in order to provide articles for people who can't read.
                      ~ Interview with Ben Watson, Mojo Magazine (1993)

                        On Music:

                          • I'll tell you what classical music is — for those of you who don't know. Classical music is this music that was written by a bunch of dead people a long time ago. And it's formula music, the same as top forty music is formula music. In order to have a piece be classical, it has to conform to academic standards that were the current norms of that day and age... I think that people are entitled to be amused, and entertained. If they see deviations from this classical norm, it's probably good for their mental health.
                            ~ Television interview (1983)

                          • I'm probably more famous for sitting on the toilet than for anything else that I do.
                            ~ Interview on Nationwide (1983)

                          • A composer is a guy who goes around forcing his will on unsuspecting air molecules, often with the assistance of unsuspecting musicians.
                            ~ Zappa & Occhiogrosso: Real Frank Zappa Book (1989)

                              On Life:

                                • Remember there's a big difference between kneeling down and bending over.
                                  ~ Lyrics to the song “Dumb All Over” on the album You Are What You Is. (1981)

                                • The most important thing to do in your life, is to not interfere with somebody else's life.
                                  ~ Appearance on The Howard Stern Show (1987)

                                • Take the Kama Sutra. How many people died from the Kama Sutra as opposed to the bible. Who wins?
                                  ~ A&E Biography

                                • It isn't necessary to imagine the world ending in fire or ice – there are two other possibilities: one is paperwork, and the other is nostalgia.
                                  ~ Zappa & Occhiogrosso: Real Frank Zappa Book (1989)

                                    On Stupidity:

                                      • Let's not be too rough on our own ignorance, it's what makes America great!
                                        ~ Appearance on The Tonight Show (1988)

                                      • Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe.
                                        ~ Zappa & Occhiogrosso: Real Frank Zappa Book (1989)

                                        On Music Censorship:

                                        For years Frank Zappa was clearly worried about open musical exploration, artistic integrity, and free speech. He released his ambitious ''Joe's Garage'' in 1979, which questioned what would happen if music were illegal. Six years later, the PMRC (Parents Music Resource Center) recommended voluntary album labeling. Joined by John Denver, and Twisted Sister's Dee Snider, Zappa went before the U.S. Congress and accused a Senate committee of fostering censorship. The PMRC had been co-founded by Tipper Gore, wife of Sen. Al Gore. Mrs. Gore's group had compiled a list of what they determined to be the worst offenders in music, dubbing them the "Filthy Fifteen."

                                        It was Prince's "Darling Nikki" that set Tipper off on her crusade when she bought the artist's Purple Rain album for her 11-year-old daughter and discovered (much to her horror) that the lyrics were about a teenaged girl masturbating. Zappa became Tipper's most open critic, calling her a "cultural terrorist" and branded the PMRC “a group of bored Washington housewives” who wanted to “housebreak all composers and performers because of the lyrics of a few.”

                                        At the hearing, he said, “the PMRC proposal is an ill-conceived piece of nonsense which fails to deliver any real benefits to children, infringes on the civil liberties of people who are not children, and promises to keep the courts busy for years.” He later celebrated the event in “Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention” which included 12-minutes of audio excerpts from the hearing.


                                        In the years that followed, Zappa continued to explore various levels of musical expression. In 1982, he released “Valley Girl” on his own Barking Pumpkins label as a satire of California's shopping mall culture, which he correctly saw becoming a trend that he felt would follow for years... as it did. The recording reached #32 in the Billboard Hot 100, and featured his then 14-year-old daughter, Moon Unit.

                                        Frank Zappa died as a result of prostate cancer on December 4th, 1993, a few days short of his 53rd birthday. He was probably the most changeable and audacious American composer of his generation. He was inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame in 1994, and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, the first and to date only artist to be inducted into both.



                                        The following books were sources for many of the above quotes:

                                        This was also published on Buzznet, 4/19/2009