Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Evolution of the Web

Today at work, we were having a conversation defining the nature of web 2.0 and 3.0. For my gentle readers who need a little web primer:
web 1.0--websites throwing info (content) at users aka read-only
web 2.0--Users can create, share, and respond to content
web 3.0--web understands content and context to customize experiences

As I was thinking about our little conversation and, of course, being the good BYU alum that I am, I related our conversation to a little religious allegory, if you will. Bear with me in my imperfect metaphor.

Web 1.0 is like the Middle Ages, when we had to rely on authority figures (the Church) to let us know what we thought about God, because, well, none of us could or write, so they were the ones with the know-how and the power to make it (religious thinking) happen.


Web 2.0 is the online equivalent of the Gutenberg printing press. Now we can all read and write! We can decide for ourselves, share ideas, and tell each other about God! Huzzah!


Web 3.0 is like our post-modern age! I am making my own god, baby! And it looks like it's graven in gold.
(helping people find their personal god since 1950)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Blog-alicious!

Some of you, my gentle readers, may know that when I find consumed with the ennui, I often like to turn to the Craigslist Missed Connections board to idle away sometime, find great amusement, and even connect with the poignant pathos of the lonely and urban.

Well, now I have found a blog that takes one of my favorite activities of leisure and transforms it into a work of sublime New-Yorker-cartoon-style beauty. Behold:
missedconnectionsny.blogspot.com



This genius woman, Sophie Blackall, takes it upon herself to create these beautiful illustrative works, bringing to life the best that missed connections has to offer! I love it! Is there some board I could nominate this blog to?

This may be my fave:

Thursday, October 1, 2009

It's So Hard Having Famous Friends!

I knew it would happen once I moved to L.A., but I still don't know how to make sure everyone gets the attention they deserve. So when Gavin invited me to lunch, I had to figure out how to bow out gracefully.

I think this did the trick.

(I wonder who will actually read it.)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Corner Market?

At the tail end of a long and fun party at our house, our friend Lisa showed us this video (I think it's from Ukraine. Can anyone verify?):



To be honest, at first I thought it was going to be a little cheesy/crafty, but as I sat with it, I saw it is a truly beautiful and astounding storytelling medium with an incredibly gifted artist at the helm. To do this requires genuine creativity, an appreciation for the principles of beauty, and a great deal of disciplined practice.

To be a little crass perhaps, this reminds of the first time I had a loroco pupusa. For those of you who aren't familiar with pupusas, they are kind of like a stuffed gordita from Ecuador. They stuffed with beans, cheese, pork, and often loroco flowers and topped with an amazing curtido (or cabbage salad) and mild red sauce. My first thought was sheer delight, but then I felt a little chagrined that my own people (Mexicans) did not come up with pupusas ourselves, since I have always felt that Mexicans had the corner market on great Latin American cuisine.

This video reminded me of those feelings. As our standardized test scores are surpassed by other nations, I think it has been easy to mollify ourselves with our supposed corner market on creativity. We believe this is our strength because of our individualistic spirit, independence, and free-market capitalism. Perhaps. My own experiences in fine art have shown me otherwise, and this video reinforces it: creative solutions of beauty and simplicity are coming out of cultures and circumstances very different from our own.

So where does that leave the legacy of American culture?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Art & Copy

I have been looking forward to it for weeks. Months, perhaps. The premiere of Art & Copy, a little indie documentary commissioned by The One Club about the creative field of advertising.



Truth be told, out here in L.A., I have found myself chomping at the bit to be reconnected in any way with the world of creatives I found in San Francisco. Ah, that little conclave of bombastic creative opinions and cursing.

So I followed Art & Copy on Twitter, and put the premiere date in my I-Cal, with a two-week advance reminder to get tickets. I imagined that every ad person in Southern California would be flocking to the West Hollywood premiere and I wanted to make sure I would not be left without a ticket. After all, at best, this film promised access to the thoughts and stories of some of the greatest minds in advertising, and at the very least, we advertising folk thoroughly enjoy being reminded of the cultural significance and visionary genius of our industry.

I dragged along my boyfriend, who works in political digital campaigns, and my friend, Jay, who used to be a planner and now works as a qualitative research.

The courtyard outside the Laemmle 5 Theater was swarming with eager attendees...for another film. Our own little screening room was graced by the producers of the film and an almost half-full theater. My hopes to surrounded by anticipatory, creative electricity were immediately dashed.

Still, the opening scene seemed promising. Cave drawings and layered ad jingles started to draw a correlation between prehistoric cave drawings and the creative expressions of advertisers...but the full metaphor was never drawn. And, in fact, that is my major criticism of the film. Potential ideas were intimated, but never fully explored, leaving me to question the actual thesis of the film. Ironically, the film spent considerable time describing how advertising brought humanity and story elements to business sales, and yet the film itself lacked any sort of narrative arch. Instead, it seemed to relay a series of anecdotes and Power-Point-worthy factoids in a loosely chronological order.

It seems to me a film suitable for first semester advertising students, to indoctrinate them into the religion and lore of advertising, but as someone pretty familiar with both, I found myself growing a little bored with the film. As an insider, it seemed to me that likely only someone in the industry would actually be interested in the film, but my boyfriend, Shane, thinks anyone in a creative field or marketing would find the movie interesting, and his own mind was buzzing with how to bring greater creativity and relevancy to his client work (mind you, Shane already does a pretty good job of this).

True to industry form, the movie was peppered with profanity and hubris, most notably from famed art director, George Lois. His presence in the film actually made me squirm a bit, in part because some of his claims seemed so hubristic as to make all us advertisers seem kind of like asses, but also because I had just heard a podcast of This American Life, in which his former ad partner, Julian Koenig, and some of his other colleagues openly accuse George of frequently taking credit for the work and ideas of others. It made me want to question the credibility of the film.

Perhaps the most haunting line of the film was when Mary Well boldly claimed,"You can manufacture any feeling you want to manufacture." That definitely made me sit up in my seat (and perhaps cringe a little). But while Art & Copy had the potential to make this an indictment of the industry, it never carried through. Likely because of The One Club. As I remember one Rotten Tomatoes critic saying--it's an ad for advertising.

The greatest treat for me was seeing some of the great minds of advertising that shaped the industry in the 20th century, speaking, revealing their personality quirks, and sharing their values. In particular, I found myself inspired by Lee Clow (TBWA Chiat Day) who reminded me of a sage surfer uncle. I was wowed by the drive and energy of Mary Wells (Wells Rich Greene. I was charmed by the evocative campaigns of Hal Riney (Publicis Hal Riney). I was amused by the working relationship of Dan Wieden and David Kennedy (W+K) (and enamored with their Northwest offices). I was a little miffed Goodby & Silverstein didn't talk at least a little bit about the account planning that went into Got Milk? (of course). And I was surprised and disappointed not to see anything from advertising celebrity du jour, Alex Bogusky.

I might choose to buy a film like this, if I intended to teach. Otherwise, for inspiration and enrichment, I would be more likely to thumb through an issue of Ad Age or CMYK. Or re-watch Frida.

My next cinematic craving, which may also leave me a bit disappointed, but still happy:

The September Issue!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Labor Day Souvenir

After a wonderfully restful Labor Day weekend in San Francisco (pics on Flickr to come), Shane and I stopped to visit my sister, Lindsey and her family. The kids were super excited to drag us to check out their new favorite local hangout: Big Bubba's BBQ!

The ribs were meaty and good, the staff was super entertaining (crew line dancing and jaw-dropping balloon artist), but the memory that is staying with me to this day is the mechanical bull. Apparently my niece and nephews have become quite adept at riding this sucker to the blaring beats of Black Eyed Peas and T.I. Of course, they talked their uncle into giving it a go.

I now understand why cowboys walk so bow-legged. My thighs are still sore.

Behold, my jerky,awkward shame:

(thank you Shane and Apple's I Phone for documenting this. I is ignominy?)

Friday, August 28, 2009

R-E-S- . . . P-S-S?**



Research. Who does it? Who cares?

Lately that topic has come up quite a bit in conversation as I have talked to various people in the industry (of advertising).

Sometimes it seems that clients want to use research as a crutch, to validate the proposed campaign, to make decisions for them on what path to take, to help them sleep at night resting comfortably that they will get great ROI (Return-On-Investment. Perhaps one of the most hateful terms to have gotten stuck in my head since entering this dizzy little industry).

I think, for this reason, many creatives and planners have developed something of a resentful relationship towards research. It becomes hampering towards great ideas, diluting creativity, and stymie-ing potential growth. Some planners and creatives I have talked to value infinitely more the power of brilliant intuition.

This intuition comes in particularly valuable when you are called upon to offer keen insights on the spot, without the chance to research a question and assess trends and history. I would, however, counter that great intuition is built upon good research.

Once, long ago, I was fervently dedicated to the idea of becoming a clinical psychologist. People already came to me for advice, and I thought I was pretty darned good at it. I shudder now to think at some of the bad advice I gave. But at the time I thought my intuition was so damned good. It took years of listening to people's problems, studying human behavior in an academic way, going through some of my own life experiences, and taking a step back, pondering, and looking for larger patterns.

Now, when people come to me for advice on relationships, I think I can reliably say my intuition is pretty good. I can quickly look at a situation/dynamic and assess the key issues. Often, I can even offer a really good solution. But this quick intuition has been fed by years of research and analysis.

Ultimately what is intuition, but what is latently within us. And you can only get out of something what you put into it.

Some planners reading this will be quick to observe this is why we often want planners with a wide breadth of experiences, because they can draw upon those experiences to feed their intuitive problem-solving. Life experiences, reading, and deep pondering are definitely forms of research.

But I think we should not be quick to negate other structured forms of qualitative and quantitative research as incredibly valuable to the creative process. Research results from these endeavors can significantly expand our thinking beyond our limited experiences. Sometimes it is just about the right question. We see surprising data that maybe did not fit with our preconceived thinking, but suddenly that puzzle piece makes sense in the whole scheme.

I think therein lies the key to good empirical research feeding the creative process of advertising: asking the right question. Asking the question that probably no one else has thought to ask. It is asking these kinds of questions that has led to some of our great breakthroughs in thinking: air-borne germ theory, a helio-centric planetary system, pizza-on-a-bagel means you can have pizza anytime!

In all seriousness, as a former academic, I value good research and the insights it can bring, but, as a creative person, I know that the best solutions often involve an element of risk, of trying out something that cannot be proven to be fail-safe. And that is bad news to the business suits who want security blanket solutions.

**SPSS . . . the statistics analytics tool. R-E-S-P-E-C-T . . . the Aretha Franklin song . . . never mind.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Overdue Indulgence

Once again too long since blogging. I have had lots of thoughts to share on branding, which I will hopefully get to this weekend, but sometimes, you just have to get away from the noise of Twitter and blogs and recycled news chatter. I am SO sick of reading things from a screen. For awhile now I have been yearning to return to my favorite activity as a child--curling up with a good book. Which is why, after meeting up with some local creative/marketing peeps at Likeminds, I headed over to the the public library on Venice Blvd. to get a library card, once the ultimate symbol of power and knowledge.

I was actually pretty disappointed by this branch. It has only three bookcases of fiction! With one shelf dedicated completely to Michael Crichton. It made me miss the vast and glorious library of downtown SLC.

Nonetheless I made off with some wonderful, purely indulgent selections:


Eat, Pray, Love I have been meaning to read for a while now, I bought my mother the Spanish translation so we could read it together. I hope she is still game.

The Little Prince is another book I have been meaning to read for a while. They didn't have a copy of it in French, so I will just breeze through it in English. I am expecting to be delighted.

Flesh and Blood is a novel by Michael Cunningham. I really enjoy his quiet, introspective prose. It's about this family of characters that seem to touch on all aspects of Michael Cunningham's personality, so, like much of Michael's stuff, it seems to be a work of literary/intellectual masturbation.

My final book choice is Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary. This is perhaps my favorite book from childhood. It still makes me laugh out loud, and even as a grown-up, I relate to the characters. I just wish they had better cover art.

Notice none of these books are nonfiction books designed to educate on a topic, in particular marketing, culture, symbology, religion, or art (the only books I have read for the past five years). The choices were pure, unadulterated literary indulgence. I wasn't even going to reach for books I "should" read, like a Tolstoy tome. Just escapist fun. And no screens!

After reading just a few pages of Beezus and Ramona in the check-out line, I knew I had to sit and enjoy a chapter or two of this delightful book. But the uncomfortably tiny, non-cushy chair zone that is the Venice library would not do, so I headed over to Lemonade--the trendy new eatery on Venice's Abbot Kinney. At Lemonade I settled in to enjoy Ramona's antics and some cucumber & mint lemonade. Very yummy. The cookie was rather "meh."


It was the perfect afternoon. I walked to my car with an extra skip in my step, eager to get home and curl up for an hour or two with a book, blithely trying to ignore the very grown-up buzz-kill that is Los Angeles traffic.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Future of Advertising


(above is the vomit of this digital marketing behemoth)

Perhaps it is because creatives AND business people are the biggest bunch of navel-gazers on the planet, but I am SO sick of hearing about "the future of advertising". "The future of advertising is . . . !" or "John, what would YOU say is the future of advertising?" or "Is advertising dead?"

It's like the frivolity of fashion forecasting. In fact the parallels between our industry and the fashion industry are staggering (for all that industry types loathe fashion ads). The point being, you can sit on the red carpet and postulate that patent leather will be the must-have for fall, but people with real style aren't very affected by these trends. They disdain the trendy and go for a unique style that conveys their values and outlook on the world and that works with their body types. They understand that jumping on fall's fad will leave them looking like an idiot in spring.

Not that I am the most stylish person in the world, but I do enjoy the impact of smart aesthetic choices in clothes, and I know that there are items in my closet that I wore in high school that still garner praise and still look very fresh and relevant and can be found echoed in the "latest trends".

It's like vintage Chanel or the brand identity designs of Paul Rand. They still look great, they are still appealing, and they are still very effective.

Rather than trying to figure out the next gimmick, I think it is the role of good advertising/marketing/pr/creative agencies to help individual companies find their own "sense of style", then as gimmicks and trends come along, like the latest social media app (it's scary how easily that word comes now) or a new media outlet, you can work with the brand to decide, "Does this fit? Hm. Maybe it kind of makes my ass look fat, let's go with the distressed oxford shirt. If we we change out the buttons and pull it with a cool blazer, we can really make it work." Ultimately, I guess I am saying its about the identity/message, not the medium and not the funky tools (*cough* drop shadow!).



PS-I will confess I am still irked that everyone started wearing blazers with jeans a few years ago because I enjoyed being the only person wearing that in high school.

The Perfect Day

What would the perfect day look like for John Quintana? If this anal-retentive, uber-picky guy had everything go his way, what woudl the world look like? Well, it would look something like the Saturday after my birthday, which I decided to take for self-indulgence. (for those of you who are patient enough to sit through all of this, there is a surprise at the end)

The night before I was able to go to bed at a reasonable hour and I woke up without the aid of an alarm and with no rush for a particular destination, which meant I could just roll over and cuddle indulgently with my favorite person in the whole world.

We defied the conventions of L.A. and headed out with pillow wrinkles still fresh on our faces to get my new favorite breakfast: bagels with cream cheese and lox!

(When first I saw the ambulance I was mortified someone had died or something at the bagel shop . . . and I would not be able to get my bagels and lox. I am that awful of a person.)

We enjoyed breakfast at my new favorite place in all of Los Angeles: our terrace. The morning light just made Shane look even more amazing.



We then got our asses kicked by a lithe Japanese yoga instructor at the gym. It was awesome, purifying, re-aligning, and transcendent!

I decided to treat my boyfriend to lunch at the restaurant where I am serving penance. I got to show him off to all of my co-workers, and I chose to sustain myself on yet another form of smoked salmon (FYI for my Gentile friends--lox is a form of smoked salmon).

On the way home, we were once again intrigued by the assembled young people waiting in line for days now in front of the Johnny Cupcakes. I decided to exercise my planner chops and went out an interviewed the people on the street. It was so much fun! And I learned a lot about this wholly different clothing brand. I will post a full report on my little gum shoe work later next week.

Once I put away my little tape recorder, it was time to bust out the Gregorian chants and do some baking! (thankfully I had a nice iced coffee to keep me cool, thanks to Shane's wonderful parents who got us a coffee maker while they were here)

Our good friends here in L.A. came over, we packed up some sandwiches, the banana bread I just made, and various other goodies and headed to Venice Beach (my new favorite beach) for a sunset picnic on the beach.


Everyone brought the perfect things for a picnic on the beach. Kevin brought a bottle of champagne and my favorite chocolate, Naomi brought yummy berries (which went great with the bubbly) and cookies, and Phil (bless his heart!) brought SMOKED SALMON SANDWICHES! I was in heaven. My third meal of delectable, savory smoked salmon. This time perfectly off set with dill and lemon.

We spent the rest of the evening wandering around Abbot Kinney, giggling like crazy and soaking up the local scene. We ended the night eating the amazing Korean-Mexican fusion taco truck that is Kogi.


Ah, it was a perfect day! I wish everyday could be like that. There were only two things that I didnt get to do that day, that I wanted to: 1) do a little clothes shopping and 2) go to the public library and piece of real, indulgent FICTION! Sigh. Maybe this weekend. Still, a perfect day, and I think Shane for being so wonderful in going along with all of it.

Still, there is the surprise I was talking about before. You see, on my actual birthday, Shane took me out to this marvelous Latin-fusion restaurant to give a birthday present unlike any other I have received: a trip to Machu Picchu!!! Aaaaaaaaaahh!!! Where is an Oprah studio audience when you need one?

Anyway, we are going in December and we are both super excited to plan the trip together, so I guess the most perfect part of the day was the reminder that I have a wonderful partner with whom to have wonderful indulgent days and exciting adventures, and for that, I have every reason to be grateful.

*for full photos of the day go to Flickr set.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

RE-flections!


It's the morning after my 27th birthday. My day has begun as I often like to begin the day of my birthday--I woke up before dawn and am taking my time to think about the trajectory of my life.

It is a little crazy that I have now had enough birthdays that I have developed my own personal preference for birthday ritual. I generally have an intimate dinner with friends, I afford myself a bit of personal indulgence (take a "me" day. This year it will be on Saturday. I have already planned a yoga class, some art time, and maybe a little hike.), and call my parents.

I am now 27. It doesn't really feel any different. In fact, I often barely feel much older than 18 (and yet am perpetually 40). Now I have the benefit of hindsight. 10 years ago today, I had just graduated from high school and was on BYU campus starting as a freshman summer term. I was eager to get on with life and didn't want to spend an entire summer at home. I couldn't wait to get college over with and really "start" my life.

In the eyes of 17 year old John, this would be the year I hopefully finished my Ph.D. in Clinical Child Psychology. I was nervous about being able to provide for a family while in grad school. Like any good Mormon, I expected to be married by now, with perhaps one or two children. I was nervous and excited about serving a mission. I thought of myself as a great counselor to those around me. I was thrilled by my new-found freedom of being away from home. That summer was actually probably the most fun summer I have ever had. My friends and I stayed out until all hours--having impromptu concerts in front of the dorms, driving out to Bridal Veil Falls in the middle of the night, going to the 24-hour grocery store for early-morning ice cream runs.

In some ways I wonder how much I have really changed. I feel like much the same person.

My life, however, is definitely nothing like what I imagined. The only thing that has turned out as I expected, was that I hoped at this point I would have made it back to southern California. Here I am. Living with my boyfriend and about to finish my third (fourth?) year of my master's degree . . . in advertising (?!). The ways that I choose to define myself are less concrete than at 17. I understand things about myself that I never could have anticipated. Nonetheless, in this relationship with Shane, I am pushing myself even more, confronting even more about myself and being forced to grow. Like anyone else who gets older, I can look back and say I thought I knew so much back then and realize now how little I took the time to really listen and try to understand.

Perhaps the greatest achievement I can lay claim to right now is that I am happy. I was taught as a child that true, life-giving, love-filled happiness is sign of a life lived rightly and goodly (proper use of adverbs, I swear). I hope and believe that is true. I know that I need to challenge myself more, to be more spiritually aware and live more mindfully, but I also have faith God will be patient with me and help me as I try to figure out the next steps of my life.

I am grateful for the friends I have made on this path of my life who have helped me become the person I am today and who have sustained me in difficult times. I wish they were all a constant part of my life, but life keeps us marching forward. I think we will be reunited.

When I woke up yesterday with an ache in my heart for my parents. Mom, if you read this, I love you and Dad both so much. I am the person I am today because of your influence and love. My birthday wish would have been to see you both and hug you. I hope I can do so soon.

. . . and now, it's time to get my butt in gear. I have been having the most amazing time writing this on the terrace with our flowers and the morning getting brighter (another grey day! My favorite! (I am serious)), but I have to commute to Venice.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Sweet Little Lies

Did I get that 80's song stuck in your head? Great because that was the first thing that came to mind when I saw this:


It's part of an inventive new campaign from Tappening, an organization aimed at reducing bottled water consumption. It's a popular trend that has inspired the proliferation of the annoyingly over-priced Sigg water bottles and banning of bottled water use by some government offices.

In a very aggressive move, Tappening is launching a campaign of self-admitted "lies" about bottled water. Their rationale being that the bottled water industry touts many lies about the health and purity of its products, and so it is only fair to fight fire with fire.

They are even encouraging people to start their own lies about bottled water across various social media channels on their site, startalie.com.

I do have to give them props for this inventive strategy. It shows a keen understanding of human nature. This hearkens back to what I kept saying about the whole Prop 8 strategy: it is easier to push human behavior with the very base human emotion of fear rather than convincing and compelling with love. Pro-Prop 8: fear mongering of societal demise. Anti-Prop 8: love is for everyone. Any time you can inspire fear in groups of people you can get them to go along with what you say. Witness American military engagement in Iraq, post-911 which enjoyed wide public support because of fear.

Tappening has "tapped" into this by recognizing that you are going to receive limited support by getting all squishy and emotional about reducing plastic waste and saving the environment, but if you can get people to see the bottled water industry as nefarious, deceitful, and harmful . . . well, then now you are going to get people moving.

While I support the cause, I am still morally unsettled on the tactic.

Interestingly, this issue has recently come to the fore in my personal life. As a new denizen of Los Angeles, I am the beneficiary of the City of Los Angeles' wonderful water treatment facilities! . . . which makes water taste like swill. This was particularly noted when we were out at dinner with our good friend Adam who described the water here as "slimy". I just think it tastes like pool water (read: HEAVY chlorine). Shane also does not like the water in LA and suggested we get water delivered to our home. Our PUR water filter only reduces the funky taste, but does not eliminate it. I was immediately concerned about the carbon footprint of water delivery, but Tappening's own link to an LA water analysis did nothing to make me feel better about drinking local tap, highlighting 46 pollutants in my tap water!

Tappening has even taken aim at my beloved San Pellegrino! I enjoy Pellegrino as an alternative to soft drinks and beer, not as a regular form of hydration. You can take my Evian, but you can never take . . . my Pellegrino!



Seriously, though, I support carrying your own reusable water bottle (I carry one myself) and getting people to think more about where the waste from their casual consumption goes, so I wish Tappening luck in their campaign to slash bottled water at the knees and if you want to help--start getting creative with your fibbing: www.startalie.com.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

You've Got To Breathe a Little




Shane and I have a quandary of etiquette, a perplexing pickle on the path of politesse, if you will.

We are settling nicely into our new place (video tour to come), but our apartment is regularly invaded by the awful stench of cigarette smoke. We have narrowed it down to our next-door neighbors. They are nice people who kindly opened their backgate when we moved in so we could get our stuff into our place. We live in an apt complex and their balcony adjoins ours.

Now, I believe in a person's right to smoke in the privacy of their own home, but I also believe in my right to breathe clean air (please hold all wisecracks about living in L.A.). So the question is--how do we resolve this?

Shane thinks we should make some of my famous banana nut bread as a peace offering and go over there and discuss it with them. The coward in me prefers the anonymity of going to our landlady. Can we really even expect any change? I mean, what are they going to do? Stop smoking?

We realized we don't really have any friends who smoke, but do you have any input on what we should do?

Friday, June 26, 2009

My Latest Carnal Lust



Stuck in traffic on the way home from Venice, NPR nattering on, as always, I heard wonderful music from this great British chorale group, Stile Antico (which means 'ancient style').It was from their latest album, Song of Songs.

In general I love Renaissance and Medieval chants, but what makes this album extra wonderful/delicious/rapturous is that all of songs are renditions of the Biblical book, Songs of Solomon. For those of you who don't know, this "controversial" book is a collection of love poems from King Solomon to . . . a woman. Scholar and scriptorians love to intellectualize this book, justifying it with allegory and sexual politics, but really, it is the pretty explicit, wanton poetry of a hot-blooded man. Isn't it great?!!

So Jews and Christians read it in church and synagogue, sing songs about it, etc.

The songs Stile Antico has chosen are particularly wanton and beautiful, engaging in wonderful "conversation" through song.

What is special about Stile Antico is they don't use a conductor! They stand in a semi circle and look to each other and listen to each other for cues! What a wonderful parallelism to the subject matter they are singing about . . . .

I just love this music! It is this wonderful marriage of the ether of spirituality with the earthiness of carnal/aural pleasure (aural being auditory). I can think of few things more sublime than to perhaps make love to this beautiful music (overshare?). Sigh I will have to settle for some dark chocolate and wine for now, but I am definitely going to get this album!!

Check it here, yo.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

. . . but Women Find New Ways To Rock It



I wanted to share this video, the AdAge site makes it a bitch to embed, much less link videos. So you can click here to link to the story that links you to the video (lame, I know!).

The first half is a little yawn-tastic, but the second half Carrie really talks about how we can dimensionalize Twitter in a great way to really create a conversation and community.

Basically what she did was assume the identity of Peggy (from the hit TV show MadMen) on Twitter and started tweeting about "her life" as Peggy. It was great! People with interest in the show started following her and she started to pick up the identities of other characters and micro blog about their lives, creating heightened drama and interactivity with the show.

The idea is not exactly crazy new. It's basically fan fiction, and it takes that kind of fan fervor to invest in it to make an interesting feed.

What Carrie is trying to do is capitalize on this by starting up an agency and offering similar services for other shows and entertainment clients. She started out as an enthusiastic fan and is looking at making this into a sellable product.

Women. Always so brill and creative. Always coming up with such great new ideas to bring human dimension to really dry stuff.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Men Tweet Loudest . . .

. . . territorial claim? Attracting female-feathered-friends?



In a Harvard Business School study this month, HBS found that men seem to be much more vigorous users of Twitter than women, going against the "long-standing" social media tradition of women as the power players.

This actually makes perfect sense to me, and is something I assumed already, because of three big reasons:

1) Nature of content

Twitter is not about really elaborate connections that women favor on Facebook/MySpace where you can see dynamic pages of photo and story content, they're terse updates and generally connections to news.

According to HBS "the top 10% of prolific Twitter users accounted for over 90% of tweets . . . on a typical online social network, the top 10% of users account for 30% of all production".

Why? Because typical social networking is about sharing, having a conversation, which is appealing to women. Twitter does not really foster a "conversation", it is very alpha-male driven; "I am an expert, listen to me."

Which leads me to . . .

2) Twitter is used more by industry windbags

This fits in part with the inherent difference between the two platforms. Business people aren't very interested in tagging people in photos, taking part in cute surveys, etc., but they are very used to the veritable ticker-tape flow of information present on Twitter. While one platform is seen as meaningful social connection, the other has very streamlined value as focused information-mining.

This actually reminds of an experience I recently had: I was at a Sunday brunch populated mostly by young Hollywood artists, writers, and socialites (?). The topic of social networking came up and this circle of mostly women expressed confusion at the real use/benefit of Twitter, meanwhile one of the other men and I kept trumpeting its wonderful use for business, marketing, information-gathering, and trend-following. This other gentleman was the owner of a prominent downtown LA restaurant. We eventually went off on our own to relish in each other's social media genius and merrily discuss business strategy in the developing downtown LA area.

So business people like Twitter, and as we know, in spite of increased gender equality, the world of business is still dominated by men, especially when we are thinking of the main Tweeters as being source of information/authority, so it makes sense that Twitter is dominated by men.

To further propel this idea that Twitter is for business people (aka men) is the median age of Twitter users, which according to Pew Internet is 31, and this other article which shows us an even more in-depth picture of Twitter use across age. So users are not kids posting about parties. They're grown-ups talking shop.

3) Everyone's experiences are just like mine!

I looked over the people that I follow on Twitter and realized they were almost all male.

Friday, June 12, 2009

G.O. Pink?



I think one of the Republicans makes a very strong point in the last minute of this clip.

He contends that gays should be interested in having their interests represented/courted by both parties, rather than having their support taken for granted by one party and ignored by the other.

Ultimately, I am suspicious of hegemonies of thought in any direction. I believe that this is the path to ignorance, intolerance, and ineffective solutions.

This is one of the reasons why I initially registered as a Democrat when I lived in Utah. I considered myself an Independent, but I was frustrated by the preponderance of Republicans in Utah that made the interests of Utah completely marginalized in the national political scheme.

A great example of this is the controversial establishment of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in 1996. Democrats (Clinton in particular) knew they could make this "bold" move for the environment on Utah land because they had nothing to lose. Utahns elect Republicans and that is that. Republicans failed to rally behind dissident Utahns because they know that no matter what, Utah votes with the GOP.

*photo courtesy wildnatureimages.com

It is interesting to have lived in two places of extreme self-righteousness and moralism: Utah and San Francisco. I wonder if both Utah Mormons and gays are wedding themselves to a political ideology based on one or two social issues rather than considering whole platforms based on fiscal policy, foreign policy, and educational agendas.

While I, personally, consider myself a Democrat and find the present state of the GOP to be morally and ideologically repugnant, I would value seeing more gay Republicans. I know that in the diverse community that is the LGBT community, we cannot all possibly think the same way on education, taxation, state's rights, etc.

As for the GOP, I would expect them to welcome LGBT members. Any true Republican would find this Bush-Cheney era of invasive government and evangelical moralizing bizarre. As long as you're for free-market big business "capitalism", against big government, and love guns why should they care who you fuck?

So this weekend of L.A. Pride I am going to be on the look out for these Log Cabins dudes and dudettes (sic?). I really want to include some of them in my social circle. Maybe I'll invite some of them over for dinner. I am just glad we don't believe in having guns in the house, because Shane is going to be pissed!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Vera Wang Cutting A Rug?

I know I am past-due on blogging on my recent trip back East, but as I was thumbing through my on-line version of New York Magazine this morning, I came across this story that made me stop dead in my tracks and rush to my office du blogging (the couch by our terrace).


full article click here

Apparently the fashion designer famous for must-have wedding gowns, Vera Wang, is going to take a serious scissor-stab at her brand by competing on the D(C?)-List celebrity dance show, Dancing with the Stars.

My fellow fashionista foil, Tai, and I were aghast.

It's not that Dancing with the Stars is really THAT awful. It has brought back to our pop-culture consciousness such greats as Mario Lopez

and
Marie Osmond.


It's just that Vera is SO wrong for DWTS! She probably has the chops to do it. I mean, the woman was a competitive figure skater, for heaven's sake. The thing is, Vera's designs are known for intelligent simplicity and sophistication. As you can see from the above pictures DWTS is anything but. This really makes Vera step against brand message.

I also question whether the woman is even capable of the wide-grinning showmanship that is often required of contestants to keep viewers voting to keep them on the show. If you have ever seen Vera in interviews one word comes to mind: deadpan.



I seriously hope Marc Malkin is wrong on this one. While it would be a fascinating watch, I think it would ultimately rather undermine the strong brand that Vera has crafted over the years.


Dead-pan delivery

Thursday, May 28, 2009

WTF LDS Media Planning?

Perhaps I am a little biased as a former rank-and-file member, but, in general, I would say the Mormons have done a pretty good job with their marketing and pr since, oh, . . . the 1980's.

In fact, to this day, I think the whole "Family, isn't it about . . . time?" campaign is pretty freakin' genius.


(Although the version aired in the U.S. did not have British accents; I think this is dubbed.)

But I seriously have to question this most recent move towards "interactive" media:



My friends and I were settling in to watch some hilarious SNL parody courtesy of the delightful Amy Poehler, when, ACK! It's Jesus! Offering me a Book of Mormon!

What is this trying to say? The Good Lord likes to get his chuckles, too? By watching SNL? Ironic, since the Church-owned NBC affiliate in Salt Lake City refused to carry SNL.

Maybe the Church is trying to save me from SNL? "Stop! Before you think of pushing play, remember Jesus and return to Jesus!"??

Bemused and befuddled, I watched the rest of The Dakota Fanning Show skit (hilarious, if you haven't seen it.) and learned a valuable lesson: blindly-placed banner ads (or any kinds of ads) are bad. Very bad.

*Please let it be noted that the PC display you see represented in the photo in no way reflects my own computer usage proclivities. The session of SNL viewing was done on a friend's PC and not on my own very lovely MacBook.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Los Angeles 3.0

It's true. I am back. I have left the fog-shrouded hills of San Francisco for the smog-shrouded hills of Hollywood.


Why?

Well, part of it is because I have inexplicably fallen in love with this adorable dork:

. . . and in spite of our gloomy recession was able to find an amazing job here three weeks after losing his old one.

We discussed it and agreed L.A. was a good option for both of us. For those of you who don't know, I was born here . . .

(B-Day No. 2, I think in like West Covina)

. . . and have wanted to come back ever since the parents cruelly forced the family into Utah exile. I tried coming back for undergrad and ended up at BYU. I kind of came back for a short while when I was a missionary in East LA for the LDS Church, but, of course, I then had to go back to Utah. I tried coming back for grad school, and ended up in San Francisco at the Academy of Art University. So the plan was to head down after the MFA to find a kick ass position in account planning.

Well, the plan has been sped up slightly. I am done with the studio core of my program and the bulk of it now is finding (a) great internship(s) at an advertising agency (in Los Angeles, now, instead of San Francisco).

In the mean time, I am enjoying the beautiful weather in Southern California and am preparing to present for Mid-Point Review.

I am sorry for being M.I.A. on the blogging front for the past couple of weeks. Finals AND packing AND apartment hunting in a different part of the state have been a lot to juggle. Last week was spent just decompressing and unpacking the surprising amount of stuff Shane and I have both amassed (anyone need a lava lamp?).

Thanks to everyone who showed up to help us pack and send us off.

Full set of Good-Bye pics here.

If you want to check out some pics of our new apt (sans furniture) click here.


We both love our new place. We are excited for all of the opportunities in L.A., to build a home together, and to defy the preconceptions of all of our SF friends and prove how wonderful and multifaceted L.A. really is.

Friday, May 8, 2009

All the Laaadies!

This goes out to all of my lady friends out there, in particular my dear friend, Noemie, who showed me that awful Quattro ad weeks ago:



Ultimately, what irks me about this is holding on to cultural traditions that don't serve us. Tip-toeing around anatomy for the sake of Puritanical comfort breeds attitudes that make women ashamed of their own bodies and lead some people to think that when not being used for sex, vaginas are icky.

This reminds of (of course!) that wonderful female driven show, Sex and the City. In one episode Charlotte is so uptight she has never actually looked at her own vag. Its not until her mid- 30's that she finally grabs a hand-held mirror and takes a peek. What does she learn? It actually looks really nice! Also reminds of an episode where Samantha gets scrutinized by a guy for being "between waxes". She grabs a pair of clippers and turns the tables on him. He learns: Hey! It looks bigger!

While I am not suggesting we put overtly sexual material out in the general public sphere. I am saying calling a penis a "wee-wee" or a vagina a "who-ha" creates internal conflict about body image and negatively affects sexual interactions in the future, which then negatively impacts families. Whether you're a conservative Mormon or gay marriage activist, don't we all want stronger families?

So let's be honest with ourselves and each other and maybe we can help erode inferiority complexes and unrealistic expectations. And maybe advertisers won't sell products like nervous middle-schoolers.

(Current TV's Target Women is one my favorite things out there.)

Chiiiiiiiiiicken!!!!!

Chicken for you! And you! And you! And you!!!!

Chickeeeeeeeeeen!



Okay. So Everyone is talking about this KFC thing with Oprah.






NPR article here

And really it is worth noting. I mean, this is what happens when powerful forces collide and you have unexpected demand (that should have been expected). But not many are actually taking a look at what this means for KFC's future long term.

AdAge does a great job of describing the problem, and maybe some of the short-term fall out. It's really worth reading.

Ultimately, though, I don't think this one snafu is going to crumble KFC's chances of turning around their brand and sales.

In my humble opinion, Kentucky Grilled Chicken is not going to do it. But it sure will help. Some people have said KFC should own its unhealthiness, and be a guilty indulgence. Well, at some point that brand positioning gets a little tired if EVERYONE is doing it, and also, there are cheaper unhealthy indulgences, and I just don't think KFC can drop their prices much more and remain competitive, which means they will have to reduce food quality or portions (which last time I went to KFC was already suffering) and thus lose the enjoyment of indulging.

I see KFC's real hope, especially in this "downturn" economy, in reinforcing their family-friendliness. Convince me that I can feed my family well, without breaking the bank too much, at KFC. Even in a recession, people still want to order out, whether it's because they are tired or they want to celebrate a little or let loose.

The thing is, who wants to order toxic, fat-laden chicken and reconstituted potatoes to their family?

So I agree that grilled is a step in the right direction, but, I need to know that if order from KFC (and I will probably want to get some fried chicken, because, well, now that you mention it, it does sound kind of yummy) I can get some food that is FRESH.

Cut back on cheese covered and let me know that I can get some fresh yummy veggies or yams or red potatoes (with the skin) with that. Let me know that I can get some rolls that are whole grain (where butter and milk are not the two main ingredients) and maybe something with fresh (unglazed) berries for dessert.

KFC is about the fried chicken, and if it tastes as good as it did when I was kid, then it is pretty-darned good, but as a more health-conscious human being, I need to know that if I get a whole meal from KFC, it won't be all bad for me. I am willing to accept a little fried, if I know the meal as a whole is fresh and wholesome and shows some color and life on my plate (and those sad-looking brown green beans aren't going to cut it).

I remember when I went to this amazing Southern BBQ place in SF. I knew most of it was not super-healthy (much as I tried to convince myself by ordering the delicious mustard greens), but at least I knew that everything I ate was made that day and was made with good ingredients.

Right now, everything from KFC has that fresh-from-the-microwave aroma and that genuine, 5-gallon bucket stirred goodness.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

R.I.P. Shabby Chic















Salon.com article here



REST IN PERCALE, SHABBY CHIC. PROVENCALE PERCALE!

That's right, Shabby Chic has gone belly up. And it's true, I am mostly writing this because I couldn't resist that play on words, but I do think it is an interesting development in the bankruptcies that have come with this recession.

For those of you who don't know, Shabby Chic was not just a nation-wide movement, it was an actual brand, started by a woman named Rachel Ashwell.

Shabby chic style was great if you had ovaries and liked comfortable furniture in which to appreciate your superfluous post-graduate degrees. But while the end of Shabby Chic, Inc. is blamed mostly on ill-timed expansion, I have to wonder if it isn't reflective of a deeper cultural trend.

Sure many home furnishings companies are going through tough times, but Shabby Chic was all about comfortable, new furniture that looked and felt like it was really old. Stuff that maybe you got at a flea market or conned your French grandma out of in exchange for some Julio Iglesias CDs and a bottle of California cabarnet.



It is because of Shabby Chic that words like "tea-stained" and "patina" are part of our vernacular and why you can use "sour cream" as a color while maintaining a straight face. Well . . . maybe just I can.

Shabby Chic was all about purchased history. Much like distressed, "antiqued" jeans, funky graphic tees from Urban Outfitters, and The OC Season 1 Soundtrack--it made you seem cool, like you had a rich life with colorful, obscure interests, while investing minimal time and energy.




But there is something really messed up about buying that. While we have always tried to co-op cool, what does it matter if you buy an Empire-era inspired secretary desk if you don't understand which Empire that desk is referencing?

We are departing from an era of excess, where we didn't mind spending top dollar for shabby chic and a gleaming SUV in the driveway to allegedly lug those charming treasures (although home delivery is nice) and I have heard throughout the previous months that Americans are returning to comfort foods and more traditional fashions, that thrift, rather than plush indulgence, is becoming a badge of pride. I retain a tentative hope.

We do know distressed jeans are dying, Shabby Chic is dead, and I think (I hope) that from now on, if we want to get something commercially produced we will embrace it completely (like Lady Gaga) and that if we want something with history, we will drag our collective asses away from Hulu/TiVO and go out live substantive enough experiences to fill our homes with things that really mean something to us. You know. Make it an actual home.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Redemption of Quizno's?

Many years ago, Quizno's lost my potential patronage by running this ad campaign:



Anytime it would pop up in my pre-TiVO TV-viewing, I would scramble for the remote. The rat things looked disgusting and their singing was so grating, I had to plug up my ears. This truly awful campaign combined with their exorbitant prices for a freakin' sandwich guaranteed I would never set foot in their stores (it was mostly the bad ads. I also became a Target devotee, merely because their ads were so pretty).

But, now Quizno's is offering better prices and a couple of really funny ads:




The first one is better, IMHO. Toaster sex+phallic sandwiches=fun for all!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Two Cents . . .


. . . on the symbol of Recovery.gov, the government website designed to let us know what's up with Obama's attempt to make sure we don't end up with just my two cents in the bank.

If you go to the website, it makes for a very small presence, so when shrunken down to its actual proportions, the visual language inherent in the logo becomes rather meaningless, like collective patriotic murmurs.

That being said, if blown to full proportions, it's really pretty clever. Combining icons of patriotism, ecology, growth, manufacturing, health care, it manages to incorporate some of the major vehicles that Obama intends to use to advance our country and pull us out of this mess.

My first reaction, though, was to the different colors. I wanted to like them, but just couldn't. I think a bi-color palette would have been better. Or even mono-chromatic. The simpler the better. And then I realized what my problem with it was.

It was breaking some of the very basic rules of design I had been taught in school. Now I am by no means a great graphic designer, but I do know that unless you have to, do not create arbitrary divisions. The more you fracture the visual field, the more work you create for the eye, and the less readable your image is at a glance. This is especially important with a logo (especially a small logo). So don't create divisions that don't need to be there.

The Recovery Logo not only creates harsh divisions with bold, white segments, but then has different colors and little icons in each section!

It seems to me that the logo is all concept (a great concept), but wanting in truly great design.

It is trying to communicate a lot in a small space, but maybe that is exactly the problem. Perhaps the designer should have tried to convey one simple idea. "Unified work" or "new ideas" or something.

I want to like this logo more, but it lacks the visual power this program deserves. It ultimately comes off kind of weak and . . . like perhaps the latest iteration of a Target private-label product. Which I love in a fabric softener, but not in the most ambitious economic program to come out of Washington in decades.


*Thanks, Shane for showing me this blog post about the new logo and got my wheels churning politically.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Off the Grid in New Mexico**




I lost total track of time in Santa Fe. On Thursday, I had to ask Shane five times what the day was, and each time I fumbled toward panic at the thought that the week was almost over. I felt completely disconnected from school work, from email, blogs, news, etc. And I loved it.

My cell phone was largely unused last week; my unlimited texting largely neglected. I just didn't care. I know I used the internet at evenings to check email and facebook, but I honestly can't remember a single thing I looked at. I was far more interested in the people I was spending time with. Had I not had any internet access in New Mexico, I think my time there would have unraveled with equal satisfaction and pleasure. It was just so unnecessary.

We were at this wonderful natural spring spa, and Shane commented with chagrin on two girls texting away on their phones, oblivious to the beautiful cliffs and restorative waters. I conjectured then, and do so now, that we will reach a point when people will want to chuck technological "connectivity" in favor of REAL experiences with REAL people. In person.

If we look at history, there is always a backlash, a pendular swing from one extreme to another. I am sure this inundation of electronics and media will abate. Perhaps we see the beginning of this in the popular appeal of more interactive video games like Wii. Or maybe people will finally realize the whole point of having tech tools IS to spend more time with family, and they will stop being shackled by their electronics.

What I do know is that it was a refreshing reminder to see some people who don't live in a slick, urban, post-2.0 world and to be in the company of people who are so engaging and delightful, that I could totally forget my own tech addiction.

That being said, I was reading some Jon Steel on the train, and I am ready to sink my creative teeth into some juicy stuff, and for that . . . I will have to open my Mac.

*A full report on Spring Break is pending.

*On a side note, this is like the name of a really great little indie movie Off the Map. It's a fave of my friend, Daniel.



Kane-licious*



It has been sitting on my desk in an envelope for past three months: Citizen Kane. In truth, it has been sitting on the back shelf of my to-do list for the past 10 years. Any time discussion has turned to this movie, I have endeavored to silently but perceptively nod my head, lest my carefully crafted veneer of intellectualism be pierced.

Well, I have finally watched this movie, heralded by some as the greatest movie ever made. To which I say . . . meh.

Which is kind of what I expected from what I have heard from everyone else all of these years. I also turn to what I expected would be my explanation for why Citizen Kane is such a big deal, which is, that like many genre-defining works, it did what no one else had done up to that point. In truth, I can see how Citizen Kane has pretty much defined modern film-making. It's editing style, narrative/cinematic devices, and complex themes are still employed in movies today.

My beef with Citizen Kane is that, well, at certain points it seemed like a wonderfully crafted, artistic film and, for the most part, it seemed like a popular movie. The over-the-top music and some of the acting really contributed to this.

I will say that it did leave me thinking. Because one of the prevailing themes is that Kane lived his life basically striving to force others to love him on his terms. After the movie was over, and Shane and I sat in the dark, I wondered why this was true for this character.

A big part of the movie is the mystery of Rosebud, and at the end we realize it was the name of his childhood sled and are reminded of his beginnings being torn away from his parents (which was kind of no-duh. I mean, the dude was holding a snow globe at the end of his life and then at a very emotional turning point. You gotta figure it had to do with that fateful snowy day. I figured it was all about that from the get-go).

In thinking about this life-defining moment in Kane's life, it makes perfect sense that he would always want to make people love him on his terms. Torn away from his parents and "raised" by a banker, he would, of course, yearn for love, using that as a measure of self-worth. What is perhaps interesting is that he would never again want to enter into a relationship where he wasn't running the show. As a child, he implicitly trusted the love and acceptance of his parents (even if it was a less-than-ideal home). Why would he ever trust that again? They were the ones he gave him up.

By being the one in control, determining the measures of a successful relationship on his own, being always in the position of the benefactor without making meaningful, emotionally-vulnerable sacrifices, he ensures that he will never again be in a position of potential abandonment.

What interests me more is how this is generalizable to many more people. Perhaps men more than women, but nonetheless a dynamic I believe I have perceived in many relationships.

Anyway, I can now return the damned thing and cancel my Blockbuster Online account (their version of Netflix) and quit paying $10 a month to have a movie sit on my desk.

*inspired by a convo with Noemi on truly awful copy-writing.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Juan Valdez Why Have you Forsaken Us?

The other day I was revving for another crazy-ass day of juggling that has become my life. I was in dire need of a coffee fix, and being at Shane's apartment, there was not a French press or coffee maker in sight. Having anticipated that such a day would come, I had bought a small jar of Folger's Instant Coffee.



I have never had instant coffee before. My introduction to coffee consisted of clandestine ventures to local coffee houses and midnight runs to 7-11 (which has better coffee than one would think).

I stirred in the brown flakes and watched with concern as it developed into a murky mess that looked nothing like my familiar deep brown bean brine (I guess I am feeling alliterative today). I doctored it with soy milk and some flavored simple syrup (because apparently my boyfriend doesn't believe in keeping household staples like sugar around) and took a tentative sip. I managed two more before I spat it out and gave up in disgust. I have had coffee at truck stops, convenience stores, and even Denny's, and I have NEVER had SOUR coffee. It was like a different drink altogether.

There goes $3.50 down the drain. I will never have Folger's Instant again.

Later on that night, Claudia and I were perusing Bloomingdale's post gelato when we came upon these charming coffee cups:



I want one for my desk! . . . that is when I have a desk . . . that I am paid to sit at.

They're only like $8, too, which is pretty sweet. And, then, that is when I heard the horrific news: Starbucks has decided to release a new line of instant coffee called VIA!

My first reaction was dismay and then a keen sense of betrayal.

Why? Would they do this? Why would Starbucks want me to suffer with this sour slop people call instant "coffee"?

I went home and did some research, and apparently the taste is not as reprehensible as Folger's special blend, but still I am not sure if this is really the best move. Especially I am concerned about these individual serving plastic packets on the go. It seems to contribute to packaging waste and if I am on the go, there is a Starbucks on my way to wherever I am going anyway! Okay, that last part was a joke.

Still, I raise the question everyone else does: how can the company who brought coffee snobbery to the American consciousness become the purveyor of powdered instant coffee?

I am not saying it is not possible, but I think "who" Starbucks is, is being compromised. I had just gotten excited about learning about their Clover-brewed coffee, which is supposed to be a whole new level of premium.

So how can you convince me that it is worth going into your store, where I can get the best-brewed coffee possible, and then tell me I can get comparable flavor from a packet of powder? They're going to have to choose whether they want to stand as sophisticated keepers of great coffee or populist purveyors of joe. I think judging from Starbuck's announced plans to produce a value menu, I think we all know which way they are going.

At least I can still get an over priced (yet incredibly delicious) cup of coffee at my local Blue Bottle, where my friend, Jade, and I recently enjoyed their venerable siphon pot coffee. It looks like a science experiment and tastes so rich and buttery and flavorful, no sugar or cream needed (seriously, why would you ruin this coffee with stuff?). Sigh. Maybe some day I can afford 20K for their coffee "system". And a stout Norwegian named Agnar to keep it going at all times.