February 15, 2008
Is Erin Atherton the new Amanda Congdon?
Watch her new production entitled "4 thingz more lame than Heidi Montag's music video" (above) and judge for yourself.
In her day job Ms. Atherton is the self-proclaimed "Head Bag Lady" of durtbagz.
You could look it up.
Along with her flair for design and way with words on her company's website, she turns out to be quite the amusing writer/producer/director/performer.
I foresee a bright future for her.
Yo, Erin — here's a tip: don't sign on with a major network like Ms. Congdon did with ABC.
You'll disappear faster than beer at a frat party.
Remote-Controlled LED-Illuminated Rain Gauge
Fun with water while you stay dry.
But I digress.
From the website:
- Illuminated EZRead™ Rain Gauge
Lights up for night viewing
This Illuminated EZRead Rain Gauge is jumbo size and has bright markings, a high visibility float and water magnification so it can be seen from a distance.
But it goes a step further by using LEDs to light up the water column and numbers from the bottom.
Just turn it on with any infrared remote from up to 25 feet away, even through glass — automatically shuts off after 5 seconds.
Easily mounts in the ground or on a fence with the rust-resistant bracket included.
Uses two AA batteries (included).
Measures about 21”h.
Wait a minute.... what's that music
Who knew? 'It's illegal to serve sangria in Virginia'
Long story short: a 1934 state law prohibits mixing wine or beer with spirits, which means kir royals and boilermakers are also off limits.
"Violating the sangria code is a misdemeanor, punishable by a $2,500 fine or 12 months in jail," wrote Anita Kumar in a January 24, 2008 Washington Post Metro section front page story; her piece follows.
- Virginia's Sangria Ban At Issue in 2 Hearings
A Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control agent conducting a routine inspection in 2006 cited La Tasca Spanish Tapas Bar and Restaurant in Old Town Alexandria for violating an obscure 75-year-old state law:
It's illegal to serve sangria in Virginia.
The fruity cocktail of wine and brandy that is a must-have at Spanish restaurants violates a law that forbids mixing wine or beer with spirits. If convicted, a bartender could go to jail for a year.
"It's absolutely preposterous," said Robert Hall, general manager of Jaleo restaurant in Crystal City, which altered its sangria recipe last year after hearing the news about La Tasca. "What harm is this causing?"
The General Assembly, which began a 60-day legislative session this month, is considering whether to tweak the antiquated law to allow restaurants and bars to serve sangria made of more than wine.
A House subcommittee is scheduled to debate the bill Thursday.
"It just seems to make common sense that government should worry about big issues like transportation and not get too concerned about what people drink," said Del. Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria), who introduced the bill.
Since 1934, just after the national prohibition of alcohol was repealed, Virginia has had laws that prohibit mixing wine or beer with spirits and pre-mixing a drink with alcohol.
"We're a little nervous of expanding the law," said House Minority Leader Ward L. Armstrong (D-Henry), who served for 16 years on a committee that wrote alcohol laws. "We're a conservative state and a conservative legislature. Some of that's good. Some of it's bad."
The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control does not keep statistics on sangria citations, but officials estimate they have given out a handful in recent years.
Curtis Coleburn, the agency's chief operating officer, said his agents usually warn restaurants that they cannot serve sangria and other drinks that include wine or beer and spirits. But the agents generally do not cite them, because most do not know it is illegal.
Sangria is usually made with red wine, brandy and fruit.
Other recipes call for additional liquors, such as vodka.
Hall said Jaleo changed the recipe for sangria at its Crystal City location, which serves up to 2,000 customers a week, but not at its District or Bethesda locations. He said some customers have noticed the difference in taste.
"It disturbs us," Hall said. "We can't offer real sangria."
It's not just sangria. Other popular drinks are also off-limits, including kir royals, which are made with sparkling wine, and boilermakers, which include beer and a shot of liquor. Also prohibited are a host of newly fashionable beer cocktails, but Ebbin's bill allows only sangria.
"It was something that caught us off guard. It is not something that has been on the radar for us," said Barrett Hardiman, director of government relations for the Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association, which represents about 1,100 restaurants in the state. "A lot of people are surprised... It seems archaic to us."
Many of Virginia's ABC laws haven't changed since 1934, when the nation's attitude toward alcohol was different.
"They wanted to encourage people to drink less-intoxicating beverages," Coleburn said.
The state prohibits combining wine or beer and spirits and pre-mixing or storing drinks outside their original containers, except for those in approved frozen-drink dispensers.
Officials say the goal is to show customers that they are getting what they asked for and to show regulators that the alcohol has been purchased from the state, as is required in Virginia.
Violating the sangria code is a misdemeanor, punishable by a $2,500 fine or 12 months in jail.
La Tasca was charged with four violations Dec. 5, 2006, and fined $2,000, according to ABC documents. The case is not resolved because the restaurant is appealing. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday at ABC offices in Richmond.
Restaurant officials did not return repeated telephone calls for comment.
Sen. J. Chapman "Chap" Petersen (D-Fairfax) helped pass a law a few years ago when he served in the House on behalf of Korean restaurants that wanted to serve the traditional drink soju, a beverage made of sweet distilled alcohol.
"Sometimes I feel in Virginia we're still working off a prohibition mentality," Petersen said. "The rigid construct of state laws is not reflective of modern times."
Lick or 'ick?' — The rise of lickable ads
This past Wednesday's Wall Street Journal article by Suzanne Vranica introduced me to what marketers hope will become the new new thing — taste strips in magazines to give you a preview, a sort of coming palatal attraction — of what awaits should you buy the product.
First thing that came to my mind was, how do I know someone hasn't been there before me?
For what it's worth, last spring Starbucks tried putting coffee scent strips on the front page of copies of USA Today in Omni Hotels, hoping to entice guests to stop by for a brewski.
I guess that dog didn't hunt 'cause the ad campaign seems to have vanished into hyperspace.
Here's the WSJ story.
- Marketers Salivate Over Lickable Ads
Magazines Try Out A Tasty Strategy; Overcoming the 'Ick'
Madison Avenue thinks a tasty approach will give new life to Welch's grape juice.
Welch's is taking out full-page print ads in People magazine this month that give readers a chance to sample its grape juice by licking the ad. The front of the advertisement shows a huge bottle of the juice, while the back has a strip that peels up and off, with text that reads: "For a TASTY fact, remove & LICK."
Marketers are excited about the prospects for lickable ads, but also have to deal with the "ick" factor. Since magazines are often passed from reader to reader (think doctors' offices) there is a good chance that saliva could be left on the ad. Readers are supposed to peel off the entire sticker on the Welch's ad before licking, says First Flavor, the company that developed the technology used in the ad. If someone doesn't rip off the whole sticker, First Flavor says, the flap can't reseal, giving people an easy way to know whether the ad has already been licked.
While scent technology — such as scratch-and-sniff ads or fragrant ink — is commonplace in magazines, lickable ads are still in the experimental stages. CBS was one of the first companies to offer them in a marketing campaign. The network's flavor strips, which ran in copies of Rolling Stone magazine in New York and Los Angeles last fall, gave readers a taste of lime-flavored mojitos. The ad, the brainchild of Interpublic Group's Initiative, promoted the fictional rum brand that is central to the plot of the CBS series "Cane," which stars Jimmy Smits as the head of a family that owns a Florida rum business.
"We struggled with the concept," says Greg Castronuovo, senior vice president and group account director at Initiative, the media-buying firm that worked on CBS's mojito ad. "There is a lot of pass-along in magazines — I had a little bit of aversion to it; it's a little unsanitary, perhaps."
First Flavor, the small, privately held company in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., that worked with Welch's, also did in-store marketing patches for a new flavor, dubbed Brilliant Sparkle, of Church & Dwight's Arm & Hammer Advance White toothpaste. First Flavor has been experimenting with how far it can push its technology, and has created test ads that taste like everything from cheese pizza to soy milk and children's cold medicines.
In some lickable ads, including the Welch's ad, some of the essence of the actual product is added to the strip, while in others, the strip is made up of unrelated flavors, both natural and artificial. Creating savory flavors such as pepperoni pizza is particularly tricky. "It's difficult for the consumer to get the feeling that they are tasting the product," says Jay B. Minkoff, chief executive of First Flavor.
Welch's says it suspects some folks will pass on the free taste test. "A lot of people won't lick a magazine no matter how good it tastes," says Chris Heye, Welch's marketing chief.
The company, which is owned by a cooperative of grape growers, says it went to great lengths to make sure the ad tasted good and that the ingredients used in the lickable strip met safety guidelines laid out by the Food and Drug Administration. It says it spent weeks conducting consumer taste tests and enlisted more than 50 company employees to try the lickable ad. The ad was created by WPP Group's JWT.
Print ads present a unique challenge for marketers because they don't typically have "sound or motion," the two things that tend to make ads stand out, says Paul Caine, president of Time Inc.'s Entertainment Group, which includes People magazine. Adding taste is one way to create a new way to grab reader attention, he says. People has experimented with adding sound chips to some print ads.
Welch's says the ad costs a couple hundred thousand dollars more to create than a normal national print ad because it had to pay to make the sticker plus an additional fee to People for the added production costs. The ad will appear in the Feb. 18 issue of the magazine, which has a circulation of about 3.6 million.
Getting people to use multiple senses to process ads is a good way to build a stronger connection with consumers, ad experts say. "It's hard to forget whose brand you are licking," says Lisa Haverty, a cognitive scientist who works in the marketing field.
Assuming, of course, that the consumers like what they taste. "If the taste is unpleasant or not good, the ad could flop worse than a regular ad," adds Ms. Haverty.
I don't think this concept is gonna fly.
My crack research team took turns licking the ad heading this post and not a single one of them could taste the grape juice.
They all said it tasted like dusty glass.
Maybe it would work better with Kool-Aid.
I mean, everything's better when you drink the Kool-Aid.
Don't you think?
'The difference between the old world and the new'
That's how Sefton Carter described the item above.
He wrote, "I was applying for a university course in England the other day, and part way through the application process I came across this gem. I currently live in Canada where you would never in a million years have something like this. Thought you might get a kick out of it...."
He's right: I did.
WallSaver Picture Hanging Tool
So simple even a TechnoDolt™ can use it.
From the website:
No other tool makes picture hanging easier and less damaging to walls.
Simple for just one person to align and hang any framed picture.
The WallSaver is the perfect tool for all your hanging needs.
Whether you are hanging one picture or a grouping, WallSaver makes it right the first time.
World's smallest radio: One carbon nanotube
A team from the department of physics at UC Berkeley published a paper about their invention in the the October 31, 2007 online edition of the journal Nano Letters.
The abstract follows.
- Nanotube Radio
We have constructed a fully functional, fully integrated radio receiver from a single carbon nanotube. The nanotube serves simultaneously as all essential components of a radio: antenna, tunable band-pass filter, amplifier, and demodulator. A direct current voltage source, as supplied by a battery, powers the radio. Using carrier waves in the commercially relevant 40-400 MHz range and both frequency and amplitude modulation techniques, we demonstrate successful music and voice reception.
I doubt even the hackers over at Make are up to fabricating one of these out back in their skunk works.
You never know, though....
iPod zepto — catchy, what?
What is it?
Doesn't matter, I want one.
Answer here this time tomorrow.