Monthly Archives: November 2009

Best of the Bad Buzz – Halls

Some advertising campaigns are awesome. And some are just awesomely bad.

Stay away, fair lady...


This one – snotty noses, bad sweaters, ’80s hairdos and all – has been staring at Chicago L riders for the last week or so. If it were a placard here or there, it might be a clever ad. But if you step onto one of these train cars literally plastered with simulated oil portraits of middle-aged, red-nosed, thrift-shopping germ monsters, you might begin to feel a little scratch in the throat where the was none before.


A snot-filled shot from my 8am train

Ok, Halls ad execs, let me follow your thinking here. Apparently during flu season we’re all:

a) aging hipsters with

b) noses redder than Paris Hilton on a coke binge

c) in desperate need of inspiration to pass on the H1N1 virus.

Hmm… obviously a soothing Halls must be the answer!

Nice sweater vest


Good try. I understand the old-school, thrift-shop sweater, hipster look is in right now. But seeing the spitting image of Aunty Jean looking like she got worked over by a dump truck really doesn’t inspire me to buy your product.

As if the guy blowing his nose on his shirt sleeve in the seat next to me wasn’t inspiration enough.




Filed under Bad Buzz

Buy Your Own Beer Company!

The economic recession has hurt a lot of once-proud companies, including the hipster-approved Pabst Brewing Company (funny, I was doing my part to keep it afloat). The bear market has forced its hand on the company, which has put the brand (along with 24 other dive bar standouts) up for sale for a cool 300 million clams.


This round's on me...

Leave it up to a few quick-thinking, swill-drinking fellas to turn this watershed event into a golden opportunity.

Using proven crowdsourcing methods, the friends put together a campaign to raise the required scratch by asking the beer-guzzling community to pitch in their slush money to buy the company.

For as little as $5 you can buy your share of the enterprise and own a piece of frothy, delicious Americana. Hell, that’s less than a drink at a bar. Unless, of course, you’re drinking Pabst. Then it’s a hefty portion of your weekly suds funds.



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Filed under Great Sips, Great Sites

Welcome to the Neon Jungle

Like most alleys in the Chicago Loop, Quincy Court – a little strip of concrete sandwiched between a McDonald’s and a Payless Shoes – was just another dark urban urinal slash trash bin only rarely entered by passersby trying to cut behind the Dirksen Federal Building to get to the Jackson Blvd. red line.

That is, until strange, foreign growths started to appear in the alley this past summer.

Quincy Court - Tropical Paradise

Okay, so the bizarre green palm-like structures that now occupy the space didn’t sprout of of nowhere, but it sure seems that way. The revamping of the dark alley was done by LA-based architect Jennifer Cosgrove and her firm, Rios Clementi Hale Studios in an effort to spruce up the delapidated area behind the celebrated Mies van der Rohe structure.


Aglow at night

“It has a playful quality to it,” said Cosgrove of the 15-ft. palm structures and neon-lighted picnic tables. It also comes equipped with a bit of irony – like why a city so dedicated to the interplay between urban and ecological, would spend $2.5 million on fake trees rather than a fraction of that on real ones. In the end, it’s the federal government that put up the money for the “sculptural grove” and since the fed is rolling in dough that makes it okay.

Costs aside, I think the whimsical nature of the installment is perfect, especially in contrast to the gloomy symmetry of van der Rohe’s Dirksen building.

Like eating lunch on the Millenium Falcon

After all, Chicago is known as a serious, hard-nosed city. Why not add a little piece of ironic-pop-glowing-alien-like paradise to our otherwise blue-collar streets?

Hell, I’ll take fake palm trees over real piss stains any day of the week. And the view at night ain’t bad either.





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Filed under Great Architecture, Great Design, Great Viewing

War (hmph, good god) What is it Good for?

Apparently not much… unless of course you want to take some really hot pinup shots on the deck of a destroyer. Then it’s very good… for.

All hands on deck! No problem, skipper...

That’s most likely what photographer Stephen Zeller was thinking when he got the chance to snap these cool ’40s-inspired shots from a docked US naval ship.

Break out the big guns


The feel is certainly vintage, but the lighting – not to mention the model’s sleeve tattoo – certainly give it a contemporary touch.

Wherever the inspiration and opportunity came from, kudos on the style.

NEWS FLASH: this is hot!

(cue wolf howls)




Filed under Great Design, Great Shots, Great Viewing

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems, Mo’ Staches

November – traditionally, a depressing month of soggy weather, obnoxious holiday music and curiously shrinking waistbands. That is, until the good people at Canadian Club took it upon themselves to amend this dreadful month, giving us: Movember.


movember, canadian club

Movember, brought to you by the mustache rollercoaster.


Movember is a celebration of nearly everything wonderful in life: namely, CC Manhattans, ridiculous mustaches and the fight against prostate cancer (had they thrown in bacon-wrapped lobster tails served by scantily clad Playboy bunnies, I think this one would have been complete).

You too can join the fight for men’s health (not the magazine, you maroon) by donating mo’ money, attending one of the monthly events or participating in a mustache growing contest, which is similar to a charity run, but you get to let your facial hair do the work (for once).

movember, canadian club

Hey... I can't see.


As if that weren’t enough to tie your Fu Manchu in a knot, you can also check out the intriguingly titled “The Lab” to see photos of famous mustachioed men, watch videos and learn the history of the most stylish of upper lip warmers.

Just leave it up to the geniuses from up north to keep us calling for mo’.

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Filed under Great Copy, Great Design, Great Sites, Great Viewing

Never Let Kiera Knightley Go

Kiera Knightley may be the one bringing in the money at the box office (and with it, the dirty ol’ men cult following) for the upcoming film version of Kazo Ishiguro’s futuristic suspense novel, Never Let Me Go, but her name may be overshadowing a more important one that didn’t make it on the marquee.

Never Let Me Go novel

Face Meets Typewriter

Tapped to come out from behind the desk and write the screenplay was Alex Garland, author of The Beach, among other works. This is by no means Garland’s first shot at screenwriting (he did the screenplay for 28 Days Later and Sunshine), but it will be interesting to see how Garland works with director Mark Romanek to recreate Ishiguro’s understated, tender style.

No doubt the issue becomes even more interesting due to the wild liberties that Danny Boyle and screenwriter John Hodge took with Garland’s own work while creating the film version of the Beach. A cult hit despite being a commercial flop, many blamed Boyle and Co. for dismembering the true power of the novel’s eerily addicting prose.

But after all, what good are movies if they don’t completely negate your favorite books? Either way you slice it, the film version of Never Let Me Go will be a resounding success if they manage to capture even a portion of Ishiguru’s emotion – sometimes touching, sometimes unsettling. And with Garland on board, I for one am going to be in the theater.

Plus, watching Kiera Knightley on screen for 90 minutes won’t be too bad either.

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Filed under Great Reading, Great Viewing

Quit Your Day Job, Jack


rework book

Can't. I never really did much in the first place.

There’s buzz building around the new book, REWORK, by 37Signals founder Jason Fried, due to hit stands in early March.

In fact, there’s enough buzz to make omnipresent super-marketer/deep-thinker/bald-guy Seth Godin say of it, “This book will make you uncomfortable. Depending on what you do all day, it might make you extremely uncomfortable.”

Brought to you by the guys that created the hit web-based project manager Basecamp (and similarly web 2.0-ish apps), I can only gather the book is designed to let us simple people in on the rule-bending philosophy that Fried and company have used to help revolutionize how design and business is getting done.


rework book

I knew to stay away from that dirty ASAP.

Whatever the content – and I’m sure it’s going to be great advice on par with Godin’s own works – the design of the cover is intriguing enough to get us to pre-order it at Amazon.

The bold disestablishment maxims on the back cover – rather than the usually self-serving blurbs and author bios – set the stage for what I hope will be a thought provoking “FU” to the way things are currently done.

We’ll stay tuned to see if the words inside are just as bold in spirit as the ones on the cover.


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Filed under Great Design, Great Reading