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February 7, 2005

'Do the math': Napster < Apple


Unbelievable what a mess Napster's making of a very good premise.

They point out in their new ad campaign for Napster-To-Go that it would cost you $10,000

Blueapplelogo_2 + X_7 = $10,000

to fill your iPod with 10,000 songs purchased from iTunes, whereas you have your choice of a million songs

Gfc_rtbox_ntglogo + Gfc_dellpocketdj_small = $15/month

for your Napster-compatible MP3 player for only $15/month.

So why is Napster's new venture imploding as you read this?

Start with a terrible ad campaign featuring the Napster Cat (leading this post), seen yesterday in a very expensive ad during the Super Bowl that ranked 55th out of 55 in audience preference.

Yes, someone's got to be last, but you certainly don't want it to be your new product.

Put that disaster up against the fact that Apple's now considered the coolest brand on the planet, and you're starting out with a distinct handicap.

I mean, the Napster Cat looks and acts as if it could have been created by the same ad agency responsible for Microsoft's dreaded Butterfly.

Then, as if the painfully bad Super Bowl commercial weren't enough, I opened my USA Today only to be greeted by a giant ad saying "Do the math", featuring the same equations that adorned the signboard held up by the cat on TV.

Does anyone really want one of those dreadful-looking Dell MP3 players?

Memo to Napster: next time run your ad by me and save yourselves a few million dollars.

February 7, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

'Thinking Inside the Box, but Living Outside the Office' - by Jennifer Mathieu


Her above-headlined essay appeared in today's Washington Post Style section, buried back on page 10.

It should have been on the front page — above the fold.

I read it not knowing where it was going, but when I finished it I realized that the author has a huge heart and a great way with words.

I'm certain this won't be the last we hear from from Jennifer Mathieu (above).

Here's her piece.

    Thinking Inside the Box, but Living Outside the Office

    About five year ago, I found myself not at all where I wanted to be.

    I lived in a hip part of Chicago with two cats and two roommates, and had a job as an editorial assistant at a medical journal.

    On paper I was everything a nearly fresh-out-of-college journalism major should have been, complete with credit card debt and Ikea furniture.

    But I was shocked at the feeling I got when I thought about waking up, getting dressed and taking the train downtown each morning.

    On those days when the alarm buzzed and I almost cried, I realized I had never actually accepted the concept of working for a living.

    As in paycheck every two weeks, party in the break room, "Whose turn is it to bring the doughnuts?" kind of work.

    In my windowless office I spent afternoons inventing illnesses so I could leave early and contemplating the words "face time" and "per your request" — terms used at the association where I was employed.

    I couldn't comprehend why people didn't say, "Time you can talk to me," and "Here's that thing you wanted."

    I found myself staring at the yellow interdepartmental envelopes, passed from cubicle to cubicle like so many office supply floozies, feeling the very essence of my soul leaving me.

    All through college I'd had a vague sense that this adult world was inevitable, but like so many students I'd avoided thinking about it.

    Now I spent time wondering how I could transition to a life where I'd write short stories and be married to a world-renowned sculptor and have a bathtub with claw feet.

    I debated exit strategies like moving to New York, which seemed too cliche, and applying to graduate school, which seemed too escapist.

    The answer — a small part of it anyway — made itself known to me at a neighborhood street sale. I bought a lunchbox.

    It was a large metal lunchbox like the kind construction workers carry, with a curved lid and metal snaps that shut so definitively.

    It was a bright, notice-me orange, with white daisy stickers about the size of my palm on each side and a white plastic handle.

    I discovered right away that there were many pleasant things about carrying a large, bright-orange lunchbox through the streets of downtown Chicago.

    It was practical; I could carry my lunch without worrying about the accidental squishing of a sandwich on a packed train.

    And there was something solid about it, the way it helped my feet get into a rhythm as I swung it back and forth when I walked.

    But the really pleasant things were found in the reactions of people in the trains, elevators and on the street.

    The ones I called the Pod People — until I became one.

    The first day I carried the lunchbox a very large delivery man with a Chicago accent started a conversation with me in the elevator of my office building (a virtually unheard of event).

    "Dat a lunchbox?" he said.

    "Yes," I answered.

    "Da bullies useta hit me over da head with one of dem things," he told me.

    "But den I grew."

    "Obviously," I said, and grinned.

    Other people smiled at me, or stared at the lunchbox, then smiled.

    One man walking by on a busy sidewalk looked at me and laughed out loud.

    A silver-haired man in a sharp suit, without once taking his eyes off the elevator doors, simply said, "Nice lunchbox."

    And then he was gone.

    The lunchbox was my life preserver and my connection to other people on the days when negotiating a crowded street or train made me feel lonelier than ever.

    On especially bad days I clung to it with all 10 fingers on my ride home, leaning my head against the grimy door of the train.

    But more than anything, it was a reminder that despite the pantyhose and the interdepartmental envelopes and the weird office-speak I was still the same quirky kid and teenager I'd loved being.

    The kind of kid who believed the vapidity of adulthood could be stopped with a lunchbox.

    One cloudy day as I was walking to the office I found myself in the middle of a protest in front of the Chicago Board of Trade.

    There were the expected aging hippies and anarchists and so on with their signs and neon green leaflets.

    They were up against the WTO and the World Bank and the IMF. Suddenly my lunchbox seemed small.

    Silly, almost.

    I had to walk right through all of it to get to my building.

    When I passed one protester, a boy just a bit younger than I, I heard him pleading, "It doesn't have to be this way! You don't have to be a slave anymore!"

    I thought of that brief, lovely time in college when I'd bought copies of the socialist newspaper at the student union and had known all the answers to every problem in the world.

    I walked past him and held up my lunchbox with both hands as if to prove to him that I was not a slave at all, but a girl.

    A girl with credit card debt and a job and a soul held together with a belief in artifacts from childhood.

    A sweet girl, a sort of lost girl.

    A girl who found comfort in her lunchbox.

    And I wanted to tell that boy and the world that yes, I knew carrying a bright-orange lunchbox was nothing like chucking it all to join the circus or save the planet.

    I knew it was just a small gesture.

    Just a tiny statement.

    But it was something.

    Certainly it was something.

    It was a start.

February 7, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Why did Hilary Clinton and Mike Krzyzewski collapse last week?


Odd, don't you think, that Senator Hilary Clinton, about to give a speech in Buffalo last Monday, and then Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski this past Saturday in Durham, N.C., without any apparent warning, each fell to the floor?


I thought so.

What caused these events?

It's called vasovagal syncope in the medical world, a vasovagal episode or attack in lay parlance.

It occurs when a complex reflex arc is triggered by anxiety or a sudden change in body position, usually from supine or sitting to standing.

The body's autonomic (automatic, or not under conscious control) nervous system overreacts to impulses traveling along the vagus nerve to the brain.

This exaggerated response leads to a drop in blood pressure and often a slowed heart rate.

When blood pressure drops, less blood flows to the brain, leading to fainting.

The two causes - neurogenic and positional - are different, but the final common pathway is the same, namely, people faint/pass out/lose consciousness.

In some cases, like Coach K's, the person appears not to lose consciousness, only muscle tone.

What to do if you see this about to happen, i.e., if someone says they feel woozy or lightheaded?

Sit them down, bend them forward with their head between their knees.

Even better, lay them gently on the ground, and let them come to in their own good time.

No need for a 911 call, no smelling salts, no slapping their cheeks like you see on TV: everyone recovers on their own, without any sequelae.

The only danger is a person's head hitting something on the way down - that way lies skull fractures and bleeding into the brain.

Same with epileptic seizures, while we're on the subject of going to the ground: just make sure the person doesn't hit their head on the way down, or while they're seizing.

Sticking something in the mouth to prevent biting the tongue is no longer recommended - just leave the person alone.

Again, no 911 call, no heroics.

Less is more.

Thank you, Drs. van der Rohe and Occam, for the excellent consultations.

February 7, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack



Better look fast, 'cause the life expectancy of this Google-like site can be measured in hours, if not minutes.

As I type I guarantee you – with 100% certainty – that Google's lawyers are on their way to the courthouse in Mountain View with the paperwork for a cease-and-desist order.

I'm always amused by sites like this that are, for all practical purposes, D.O.A.

It takes an awful lot of time and energy to put up a website.

Why waste your time on something certain to be taken down?

February 7, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

FoodBall Restaurant


Just when you thought football season was finally over, what with yesterday's Super Bowl.

FoodBall is an extremely popular restaurant in Spain, where the first in a chain opened in Barcelona.


The fare consists of FoodBalls: rice balls made with chicken, tofu, seaweed, and any number of other ingredients.

Everything's organic, with the fare being derived from Catalonian rice ball tapas.


They save on furniture by not having any.

Instead, the entire restaurant's a stoop, where you just find a spot and hang out.


Wonder when they'll get to the States?

February 7, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Expert's Expert - Linda Wells, editor of Allure magazine, on dry skin


Who knows more about, and has better access to, any beauty product on the planet than the editor of Allure magazine?

No one.


So imagine my surprise when I read, in a January 30 New York Times story by Elizabeth Hayt about the fight against winter dryness, that Wells relies not on $200-an-ounce creams made from sheep placentas but, rather, over-the-counter brands anyone can buy for a song at Walgreen's.


Her recommendations:

• Nivea hand cream ($4.47)

• Neutrogena lip balm ($3.09)

• Oil of Olay body wash instead of soap ($4.99)

The same article noted that Megan Watkins, the assistant manager of the Chloé boutique on Madison Avenue at 70th Street in Manhattan, uses


Aveeno cleansing pads ($6.69) to exfoliate.

February 7, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

David Burke's FlavorMagic Gourmet Spice Sheets


I'll never tell your kitchen secrets.

You know you can trust me - after all, I'm a... what am I?

Where was I? Where am I?

Oh, yeah, doing bookofjoe, thanks for reminding me. Focus, focus.



New York City überchef David Burke's decided that if you can't come to his restaurant to eat, he'll spice your food for you right in your very own kitchen.

He's created a line of plastic marinating sheets that are sort of like Saran Wrap, only better: his come infused with blends of ingredients like fresh ginger and cracked pink peppercorns.

You select the flavor of your choice - Lemon Peppercorn, Asian Citrus Ginger or Memphis BBQ - and then wrap the sheet around meat or fish for 30 minutes.

Remove it and put it in the oven and voila - hey, what smells so good?


$6.50 for eight sheets here.

[via Janelle Erlichman Diamond and the Washington Post]

February 7, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

ROM 4-Minute CrossTrainer© - a complete workout in just 4 minutes


OK, you're so pressed for time even 10 minutes on the Power Plate is more than you can spare.

I understand – I have the same kind of schedule, nothing but pressing obligations from the moment I wake until bedtime.

Well, there's great news: joehead LD has informed me that there's a solution for people like us: the ROM 4-Minute CrossTrainer© (above).

"Exercise in exactly 4 minutes per day!"

That's right – just strap yourself into their machine and get ready for the ride of your life.

The company that makes it explains why it has "three big marketing problems":

1) Sounds too good to be true

2) Very high price

3) So-called "experts" ridicule the machine and the concept

Well, you'll hear no scoffing from me.

Read what they have to say, then decide: do you want to be fit - or fat?

[via LD]

February 7, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

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