Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween, I ain't feeling you.

This was probably the last really good costume I wore, more than 3 years ago.
Usually I love halloween but this year I'm all meh about it. It could be because we were out of town at a B&B last weekend when most folks went all out and dressed in costume. It could be because in the past I got excited about bands covering other bands on Halloween and then every single fucking bar and club in Chicago jumped on that bandwagon, thus leaching out all the fun. It could just be that I'm no longer single and haven't been in a quite a while so I can't even get excited about girls in cute outfits. And I've never been one to dress in costumes—at least not since maybe the early '80s, so further the meh there. Hell, this years I haven't even gorged on horror movies in the days leading up to Halloween like I have in the past.


This should be the equivalent of adult Christmas for me?! I love Halloween! Wh can't I get excited about it this year. And what can I do to remedy this malady stat!

Until that happens, here's a creepy video David Bowie just released.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I think you're gonna love Hiawata!

One of my favorite (largely unknown) bands in the world is Norway's Hiawata!, and I was turned on to them years ago by my pal Paul. I reached out to them back then and they were kind enough to send me their album, and a few months later a new single from them arrived in my inbox—for "The Deep End," whose video you may view below—and then after that I never heard anything about them again. Not that it ever occurred to me to, like, google their name or search iTunes for them or anything like that despite their album These Boys And This Band Is All I Know continuing to receive repeated plays on ye olde tankPHONE and DJ sets.

Fast forward to this week and it suddenly occurs to me, hey!, maybe they recorded material after that. And it turns out they have! They've got another few albums, the latest is Backs To The Future, and an EP under their belt, with a new album on the horizon next year AND the singer is in another band called Heyerdahl that just put out an album earlier this year. So today will be spent gorging myself on all of this new music. I think you should download a single they released for free a while ago, give it a listen, and if you dig that and the video above you'll probably want to gorge yourself on the band's whole back catalog as well.

DOWNLOAD: Hiawata! - Suburbs single

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Lou Reed.

Lou Reed at Lollapalooza, photo by me.
I wrote a brief piece on Lou Reed yesterday, and that's all I can really say. What else is there for someone like me to say, really? Especially when so many out there can say it better. Take, for instance, Jim DeRogatis' lovely remembrance of Reed, or Metric singer Emily Haines' thoughts that brought a literal tear to my eye. If you're only going to read two things on Lou, those are the two I would read if I were you.

And lest we forget Lou's crazier moments, here's a duet between him and Pavarotti* my creative director Dave turned me onto.

*I swear at the 1:20 mark Lou is looking at Pavarotti and thinking, "What is he doing to my song?!"

Monday, October 28, 2013

Team Kellogg's 'Start Stories' are live!

Remember when I was flying all over the frozen parts of the U.S. earlier this year. The videos I provided the creative concept for, and acted as creative director during the shoots, are finally live! They were the hardest thing to leave behind when I left my old job but I am SO PROUD of how they turned out.

The team that brought them to completion did a TERRIFIC job.

AND they're connected to a good cause. So go watch them all and get involved. Here's a one of the first ones we got near completion before I left. Sarah is awesome. (Heck, every athlete  met was awesome.)

Friday, October 25, 2013

I miss October.

I date a Saint Louis Cardinals fan. This means that for the last few years my television set has been taken from me in order to air playoff games that seemingly go on forever. I also get sent stuff like this on a regular basis.

Looking forward to December when life returns 100% to normal.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Russell Brand continues to surprise me.

It's easy to just view Russell Brand in light of the characters he plays, especially since they all seem to be tailored to his essential core in some way, but then every time I see him in an actual interview I realize that there are deep layers to this guy. And he's incredibly smart and well spoken. This is what happens when you stop doing drugs and allow your brain to power back up to a velocity that borders on frightening but races along the amazing.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

To be fair, we were discussing some heavy design and copy integration ideas.

Inspired by Hovering Art Directors, I bring you this shot snapped secretly at my job that includes me in a hovering pack of Art (and Writing and Creative) Directors, along with Copywriters and Designers. Everybody's voice gets heard!

Photo credit by the very, very sneaky Ben.
At least my arms look good and muscular! :D

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

They say insanity...

I posted the following on my Tumblr a few days ago:
"They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It is a line that could do well to be plastered over the door to the House chamber." - The shutdown is ending. Here's how.
So O.K., to be fair, that's not exactly a new adage, but I gleefully embraced it in light of the, well, insane political posturing of the last few weeks. What I didn't consider is how my own life reflects that phrase a little more often than I would like.

I've got a handle on almost every facet of my life, but there is one behavioral corner that seems stuck on repeat and I need to pull the plug on that. Often we try and find ways to modify a behavior to solve a problem and I think that maybe the actual solution is to realize the only modification that works is cutting that behavior out entirely.

So, in a really strange way, I have to thank the Republican party for helping me realize this. I guess they've good for something, even if that something is finally illuminating what you shouldn't be doing in the first place.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday Monday.

I could really do without Monday this week. 

Nothing personal, Monday. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

What's the deal with the 1975?

I'm being absolutely honest when I say I can't tell if The 1975 will grow into superstars or be a largely forgotten British export six months from now. They write music in the "alternative" vein of many bands just following the Britpop implosion of the late '90s, with big guitars and big choruses all while somehow maintaing an "indie" stance.

The group released a couple promising EPs before finally rolling them all together with a few additional tracks to form their self-title full-length debut in September. The 1975 is an accomplished collection, which is not surprising once you learn the quartet has been playing together for over a decade despite waiting to release any material until relatively recently. The result is music that flies by and feels attractive but you're still not sure what's going on underneath it.

Here, wait, this is one of those times watching a video from the band makes the most sense.

See what I mean? It all fits together so perfectly it's hard to find fault with it, but I've been living with this album for months—listening and re-listening and re-re-listening—and it keeps sliding out of my brain the second it finishes. It's not that the music feels artificial, these are genuinely good songs, but there is a weird transparency to its after-effects. So this makes me especially curious what the band is like live; will all the mental mercury turn into a shiny ball with weight and heft that rolls off the stage to crush the crowd or with the after-effect be just as wispy as experienced at home. 

Only one way to find out, huh? Sadly, I'm going to miss their appearance in Chicago this weekend due to a scheduling conflict so if you get a chance to see them live, or have already, let me know what you think!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

If you're gonna cover "Louie Louie," this is how you do it.

Man, I've got pop culture anniversaries on the mind this week. Yesterday I wrote about Superman turning 75, and today I'm writing about The Kingsmen's "Louie Louie" turning 50. So, "Louie Louie," arguably the first big garage hit, turns 50. To be honest, it feels like it's older than that to me, but it was released in 1963 so there you go. Portland power-poppers The Cry! have recorded a cover of it to celebrate the song's birthday and they somehow managed to recruit original original Kingsmen guitarist Mike Mitchell to join them in the studio and lay down some leads. Pretty neat, huh? Give it a listen and download it if you wanna add it to your collection.

[h/t Power Pop Overdose]

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Superman is 75!

I love that the Fleischer Studios' Superman gets a nice little feature in this video tracing the hero's various incarnations through the last 75 years. Looks like they skipped over John Byrne though! Hmmmmm.

Watch it and then read the full annotations to see what you missed or didn't understand.

Big thanks to Scott for turning me on to this!

Is an open-office plan the best plan? Sometimes.

I've worked in open-plan offices and I've worked in standard cubicle / private office offices and at one time I had a private office all to myself. So I think I can address the issues brought up in Drake Bennet's recent piece "Why We Can't Get Anything Done in an Open-Plan Office." I think it purely depends on the true office culture.

In the past I worked in an office that went from a regular cubicle farm set-up to open-plan and in that case I think in the end it didn't work. The fact that senior leadership that championed the set-up eventually took over conference rooms and converted them into their private offices was pretty telling. And it might be as simple as admitting that such a drastic shift in office culture simply isn't for everyone. I've been in situations where sobbing ensued once people found out they were losing their office. 

My current job has an open-office plan, and they're expanding onto a new floor where that plan will be further refined with the addition of some "quiet rooms" for folks that need to get away for a bit. And it 100% works here, but I think it's important to note that this place has always had an open-office plan. And even more importantly NO one, outside the company's owner, has an office. And even the owner's office has no door. Literally.

Often these open-office plans are implemented to encourage collaboration, but if you're company isn't really dedicated to that mind-set—and many simply pay lip service to it and think that rearranging some chairs and desks will solve all their problems—then it's pointless. And in order to be dedicated to the mind-set a company needs to support it's staff and actually proactively encourage collaboration and creativity. I don't think many places are actually suited to do so, and while "collaboration" and "creativity" are lovely buzzwords C-suite people love to throw around, they need to be more than simply words.

I'm lucky to have found a place when the open-office plan actually accomplishes what it's purported to do, but I don't think it's for everyone. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Spiritualized takes Cut Copy's "Free Your Mind" to the rafters and beyond.

I've been listening to the new Cut Copy for a few days now and am—unsurprisingly—really enjoying it. It's a little darker than their last few albums, I think, but it's still all full of tropical sunshine at the same time. The darkness is more a creeping in at the edges sort of thing. They're been releasing various remixes of the title track and I love the latest coming from Spiritualized. Of course you can count on J. Spacemen uncovering the darker corners of the song and exposing them to the heavens. The result is a nearly unrecognizable alongside the original but the heart beats the same in both.

Listen to the track below and if you like it snag a free download of the tune and tell me what you think.

Monday, October 14, 2013


It's always popular to slam ad agencies and either call them Machiavellian or painfully out of touch or just all around evil (when in fact I would argue that advertising (in ALL of its forms from digital to print to broadcast to purely social (and at this point I consider anyone in marketing—including PR—to be an ad agency in function)) is only as out-of-touch as its client is willing to let them be) but c'mon, some of the most inventive storytelling is coming from agencies, right?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Holy crap, now that's a local music bill!

I was going to write about Welcome To Night Vale and how I can't believe it took me this long to start listening to a series so obviously made for my ears, but that will have to wait since I instead must entreat you to attend this show tonight.
The Noise FM, and The Kickback are two of my newer favorite local bands, and Cowboy Indian Bear's records are good and their live show comes highly recommended by many friends whose opinion I respect. That should be enough for you, but if you need more convincing then may I direct your attention to my full preview of the show.

See you there?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Beware those who shout about the shiny object.

I admire and respect people who test and try out new ways of digital marketing, but i detest those that proclaim new ways of digital marketing as the next big thing everyone should adopt and then keep doing so long after it's obvious that's not ever going to be the case.

Throwing bright shiny things in people's faces—especially those that might actually be uninformed enough in the digital realm (and the numbers that aren't are stunning once you step out of your own little echo chamber)—benefits no one in the end. In fact, I'd argue it hurts things in the long run because when they fail, people trust less and less in digital or social tactics.

I've been involved with digital outreach and conversations since the mid-'90s, so I have a clue when it comes to this, and it angers me when others with similar time in the trenches as me abuse that to try an inflate their own reputations without regard for actually pushing the actual relevance that social tactics should carry. It's irresponsible and I've seen far too many people that are guilty of it in the past few years. Idealism mixed with narcissism is often misconstrued as visionary and that simply leads to disaster, at least for those left in the wake, in my humble opinion.

Whew, that felt good to get off my chest! 

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Spotted in the office.

The real life Leaning Tower of Pizza!

(Guess whose office got treated to a lunch of free pizza? Give up? Mine!)

Monday, October 07, 2013

Where oh where else can I find Tankboy? There he is! And there! And there! And...

Every once in a while I like to remind folks of some of the other places they can find me online. So here's that reminder. I try not to cross post too much (though I admit my Facebook and Twitter tend to have similar content though I tailor it for each embassy every time, but that's because most Facebook friends don't follow my Twitter feed and vice versa). So feel free to check out, subscribe to or interact with me:

Friday, October 04, 2013

In Chicago and wanna see a band on Saturday?

If you're not terrified of a room filled with teenagers, then Mixtapes' all ages show at SubT is the place to be tomorrow (early) evening. If that notion does scare you, here are two other music-related ideas for the weekend.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Play that funky music, Pink Floyd.

"Another Brick In The Wall (Part II)" has been described as Pink Floyd's accidental disco hit. I had no idea someone actually turned it into a real live disco song!

And here's a more recent edit if you don't feel like grooving for 6+ minutes.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Still don't understand the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. ACA a.k.a. Obamacare)? This should clear things up for you.

Easy peasy. It's a law. It passed congressional votes AND Supreme Court scrutiny. So now that The Republicans have failed miserably in their attempts to stop it, not that their attempt yesterday would have even had an effect even had they proved victorious, and now that they've shut down the government while having zero effect on the act going into practice I am hopeful this will finally wake them up from the delusional state the more extreme fringes of the party has been operating under to hold the rest of their party hostage.

Anyway, here's how the ACA works. Not that its opponents want you to now any of this...

You can find even more consumer friendly info about the ACA here.