Monday, June 30, 2008

UEFA Euro 2008

Yesterday was the final of the UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) Euro Cup 2008, between Germany and Spain, essentially the World Cup if Europe were its own world. The game was tense, physical and very exciting. I'd post a video from YouTube with highlights, but UEFA is strictly against posting on YouTube and it would probably be removed within a day. Highlights can be seen here at ESPN:

ESPN UEFA Euro 2008 Final Highlights

Spain overcame the powerhouse that is Germany, becoming European champions, a claim to fame that they have not had in 44 years. The sole goal belonged to Fernando Torres, a 24 year old who I really respect despite the fact that his club team is Liverpool. It's hard not to respect a soccer player who has earned the nickname El Nino, which I believe is Spanish for...the nino. To say that his goal was well-earned is an understatement...the goal was pure hussle by Torres and noone can dispute that.

I feel for Michael Ballack from Germany, the Chelsea midfielder who recently experienced coming in 2nd from the Champions League Final decided by shootout. I can't imagine coming so close to ultimate victory twice, just to come up short twice. I'm sure he'll come out flying in the World Cup in 2010 though. That said, I'm very glad that this final was settled by goals and did not have to be settled by shootout. Congratulations to Spain!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Stuff White People Like

A popular blog called "Stuff White People Like" is something that you should read if you are not aware of it yet. It's made me realize how white I truly am while at the same time making me laugh a lot...and of course it has never offended me - I guess they should make a post about "Poking fun at ourselves." It's also proven how, like it's done for music, the web can be a great outlet for writers - it got a book deal. The book, aptly titled, "Stuff White People Like," will be available next week on July 1st.

This concept of making a blog into a book has obviously been met with criticism, especially for its environmental impact (note: this guy may be a bit extreme but he made the analogy that the publisher of this book is the poison monster from Fern Gully - awesome). I slightly agree that simply transferring something that's online into lots and lots of paper isn't the smartest thing to do, but at the same time admire how the writers got the deal. Also, the trend toward making a lot of reading materials digital just won't fly with everyone. I read pretty much all of my news online but I'm definitely not jumping to get a Kindle...I enjoy physically flipping through books and magazines too.

Anyway, Stuff White People Like had a contest for its readers to come up with their own post, the winners of which would receive a free copy of the book. I failed to win them over, despite my 0.7% chance of winning, but thought I would post my entry here. Enjoy:

Beating Video Games

White people have been striving to beat various video games for a long time. Beating games quickly is the ideal - preferably as close to the release date as humanly possible. "Did you get a copy of GTA IV yet dude?" "Oh, GTA IV?...yea, I picked it up at Midnight...I beat it already though...only took me 14 hours straight." A response like that can gain an enormous amount of respect (atleast until the next edition of that game comes out).

One trend that stormed through the world of white people was timing how long it takes a person to beat an original NES game. Admitting that you never were able to beat Super Mario Brothers when you were a child will usually be met with roaring laughter. That will lead into a competitive discussion about who was able to recently beat it in the shortest amount of time. Professionals have released their performances on YouTube.

This leads to what systems are proper to play - you can either go original or new. For example, you can either play an original NES system or the latest Nintendo Wii. Playing "Jet Moto" on the original Playstation system is so not cool anymore.

Being able to brag about completing a video game took on a whole new meaning when Guitar Hero was released. For some reason, being able to play "Free Bird" on Guitar Hero on Expert is way better than being able to play "Free Bird" on an actual guitar. Real guitars are for chumps nowadays. The real rockstars are out there in their apartments at 3 AM every night, perfecting their finger response to "The Devil Went Down to Georgia."

The Nintendo Wii has thrown white people for a loop with the Wii Fit. Apparently the point is not to beat the game but to regularly use it as exercise. Chances are that that the honor in this game will be in the amount of time committed to playing it. Stay tuned for updates.

Obviously this is just my effort toward the apparent genius of other bloggers. For any publishers out there that may be reading my other posts though...I'm quite open to the idea of a book deal :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wii Fit

So I tried the Wii Fit for the first time over the weekend and was lucky enough to get my own copy thanks to my brother. I think it's pretty cool but wanted to clarify a couple of things:
  • There was a debate over how "harsh" the game could be to people because it initially measures your BMI and places you in the official BMI ranking, which ranks from "underweight" to "obese" - BMI is nothing new's the truth, it's not harsh. Hopefully this game can become effective for everyone though which I think it can definitely do.
  • The Wii Age - after a "balance test," the game gives you an age - I think the game should allow the user to practice this balance test more before actually giving the test because I'm guessing most people can not adjust to it as quickly as it expects you to (case in point: over the weekend, granted I had attended a beerfest earlier in the day, it gave me a Wii Age of, it gave me 25)
  • The game seems like more of a single-player effort, despite its 2-player jogging exercise (and possibly other 2-player activities) - multiple people can play it but you need to go back to the login to choose your respective profile first. At first, I thought this could be improved, but then I thought it was OK because some of these activities should be done alone in the privacy of your room. Especially the Hula Hoop (this is my brother...Sorry Pat):

Monday, June 23, 2008

NJ Craft Brew Beerfest

Well, it's official...I've gone to a beerfest on a battleship...twice. Per advice from a wise retired Navy Captain, we were respectful of the fact that we were on a battleship. I did laugh when a couple guys started "playing Battleship" in the bathroom by yelling out "B5!...D13!...Hit! You sunk my battleship!" followed by, "I wonder how many times that joke went around today." Hilary, Dan and I had a great time sampling some really good beer though. As Dan eloquently put it, "This is like...the best event...ever." Beers sampled included:
I think I may have left out a few, but we easily came to the consensus that the best beer was from Basil T's: both the Stout and Brown Ale were delicious. We sampled both more than once.

If you remember, I blogged about "the Lewis Black of beer," the guy from Cricket Hill Brewery. He was indeed there and he made a snidey response to my request for an IPA which I obviously should have known they were out of. Thanks Pal...I'll dedicate my next Coors Light to you!

Friday, June 20, 2008

More Real Men of Genius

Happy 1st Day of Summer everyone!

Ok, so there were a couple requests for more "Real Men of Genius" ads posted on here so here you go:

Mr. Stadium Scoreboard Marriage Proposal Guy:

Mr. Giant Taco Salad Inventor:

Mr. Gasoline Barbecue Starter:

This one was one of a few that actually was turned into a television commercial. Personally I think these work better as radio ads but it's still great:

Mr. Way Too Much Cologne Wearer:

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Real Men of Genius

I have to give a little tribute to the greatest radio advertisements ever made: the Bud Light Real Men of Genius series. If you've listened to any radio in the past 7 years, you probably have heard atleast one of these spots. It started in 1999, dubbed as "Real American Heroes," but after 9/11, Bud Light decided that using the term "Hero" would be an insult to the real heroes that had been around at that time. Good decision. Personally, I like "Real Men of Genius" better anyways.

Each spot highlights a very specific kind of guy that we all can relate to, a lot of which are inventors of certain things or people with certain kinds of jobs, but eventually expanded into ones about "that guy" too. The spots involve two guys, a deep-voiced sarcastic announcer backed by an over-the-top 80's-sounding singer, who funny enough, is an over-the-top 80's-sounding singer: the lead singer of Survivor, creators of "Eye of the Tiger," among others. Sometimes a chorus of women chimes in too.

It's no surprise that this campaign is the most award-winning radio campaign in the history of advertising. As much as I love it, it doesn't encourage me to buy Bud Light...but it would take a lot to do that.

Here are a few clips for your listening pleasure:

Mr. Pro Sports Heckler Guy:

Mr. 80 SPF Sunblock Wearer:

Mr. Nosebleed Section Ticket Holder Guy:

Friday, June 13, 2008

Beer Contains Female Hormones

I have to give credit to Confessions of a Beer Geek for this one, but found it pretty funny, so had to post it:

Last month, scientists at the National University of Lesotho released the results of a recent analysis that revealed the presence of female hormones in beer.

Men should take a concerned look at their beer consumption.

The theory is that beer contains female hormones (hops contain phytoestrogens) and that by drinking enough beer, men turn into women. To test the theory, 100 men drank 8 pints of beer each within a 1 hour period. It was then observed that 100% of the test subjects:
  1. Argued over nothing.
  2. Refused to apologize when obviously wrong.
  3. Gained weight.
  4. Talked excessively without making sense.
  5. Became overly emotional.
  6. Couldn't drive.
  7. Failed to think rationally.
  8. Had to sit down while urinating.
No further testing was considered necessary.

The funny thing is that I was actually concerned after reading the first couple of sentences. A good joke for Father's Day Weekend. Happy Father's Day Dad!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Be Green!

Green Beer. No, not beer with green dye like they have on St. Patty's as in environmentally-friendly. My father pointed this one out to me. A UK brewery called Adnams made a beer called "East Green" which according to early figures has saved the lives of 5,483 people. Ok, I made that's not directly saving lives but the brewing process of the beer is apparently very eco-friendly. How is it doing that?
  • The brewery is an "eco-brewery" - it recycles the steam created while brewing into the next batch that is brewed
  • It uses local hops and barley (cuts down transportation)
  • The hops also are aphid-resistant (plant lice) which means less pesticide needs to be used on them
So the way I see it is...the more you drink of it, the more you are helping the environment. So drink up you bloody wankers!

Speaking of being "green," what's taken so long for supermarkets and retailers to do something about their plastic bags? I understand that out in California (go Arnold!) they have taken action against plastic bags (and possibly other cities/states), but why not all over the country? When I studied in Ireland, my first trip to the supermarket was the only trip that I got my purchases bagged in plastic. Why? Because they charge you per plastic bag - everyone brings reusable bags to the supermarket there - on my next trip, I bought one of their reusable bags (which probably paid for itself over a few visits) and used it from then on.

The fact is people (including me) may not take action when it's not the norm and the only benefit to them is knowing they are doing a good thing for the environment. But when it becomes cheaper to do that good thing? Everyone will do it and that becomes the norm. This just seems like such an easy solution that has taken way too long to happen.

Ok, I'm off my soap box now.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Awesome Nutrigrain Commercial

I don't know why, but for some reason today, this commercial popped into my head. I first saw it online about 5 years ago and I think it's probably my all-time favorite commercial...


The classic incentives promotion: if you buy this, you also get this. Some of these involve more legwork than others - these are more commonly referred to as rewards programs such as the Coke rewards program - each cap, box, etc. has a code that you enter online for points which eventually can add up to a toaster oven (with the Coca-Cola logo on it of course)! Rebates fall along the same kind of concept - the consumer will have to do a little work to mail in something to get money back on their purchase - surprisingly, not everyone does, even if the big word "Rebate" is what attracts them to the product in the first place.

Some incentives are a little more straightforward, such as a product-specific coupon - a popular one that my brother takes full advantage of is the DVD packaged with a ticket to an upcoming movie in the theater. I saw Ocean's 13 courtesy of one of Dan's purchases - thanks dude.

I have blogged about the digitization of music and about the concert industry; this new promotion that I just recently noticed combines the two. I got an e-mail from iTunes advertising the recently released Weezer album. The kicker is that it offered me the option of buying the album from iTunes within about a 1 or 2 day time span in exchange for a code to buy Weezer pre-sale tickets. I think this is a great idea - it promotes the new album and the concert and allows real fans to win over on that flawed ticketing system that I previously discussed. Some of the real Weezer fans would gladly purchase the album from iTunes, possibly even if they already had a leaked copy, just to get a good shot at decent seats for a Weezer show. Win for iTunes, win for the artist, win for the fans (loss for the scalpers! score!)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Transformers 2 in Bethlehem, PA

Shooting of Transformers 2 began on Monday in China...scratch that, a place that looks like China: Bethlehem, PA. Ok, so maybe Bethlehem does not look like China...until you transform their old steel plant by putting up Chinese letters all over the place, which is what Michael Bay's crew did over the past few weeks. Shooting began on Monday and continued last night and into tonight as well. The transformed steel plant is supposedly the setting for the opening scene, which takes place in a Chinese city. Tyrese and Josh Duhamel have been shooting on scene, along with participants of a casting call, consisting of a large selection of people of Asian-descent. All of this a town away from where I'm currently living in Allentown. Of course I had to check it out.

I headed over to Bethlehem last night, skeptical of being able to see any real action, but excited about it nonetheless. What happened was unbelievable. As I moved among a large crowd of spectators along the guarded perimeter, fans started cheering as Michael Bay came onto set in a golf cart. He hyped up the crowd with a megaphone, saying that he was so grateful to have some real fans at his set. I managed to get myself up to the front of the crowd, about 20 feet from Bay. He made eye contact with me and seemed to recognize me. I saw him talking to some security and then they came over our way looking at me. I thought, "oh shit, I shouldn't have taken those pictures earlier, I'm busted," but they motioned for me to come onto set. Michael Bay greeted me with a handshake, saying, "You're Kevin, right?" I slowly pinched myself and said, "how'd you know that?" He said, "Kevin's Blog...I love it! I read it all the time." I said, "really? thank you so much, that's awesome." He then asked if I wanted to sit next to him for the next scene he was directing. I did so, and mid-scene, he cut it. He said, "Hey Tyrese...go to your trailer, I got some fresh talent for this scene." After receiving dirty looks from Tyrese, Bay instructed me...

Ok, I'll stop. If you happen to suffer from extreme gullibility, I apologize but that was far from the truth. Truth is it was difficult to see any action from the handful of vantage points that were available, if there were even any scenes being shot while I was there. Most of what could be seen consisted of neon green and red signs of Chinese letters. I heard and saw the 3 apache helicopters come onto set, which had been taking multiple takes on Monday night. I missed Tyrese come onto set via white van by a few seconds but heard the 12-year olds screaming over him. Even though during my time spent there I did not see much action, it was very exciting knowing I was near where a scene of the movie will be and the fact that noone really knew what would happen next, considering Bay is all about explosions.

As far as unintentional marketing goes, I feel like this whole event will do a lot for what they have coined has Valleywood. Personally, I was all about Transformers when it hit the radar, saw it in the theater with my bros, and will most definitely hit up T2 next summer. However, for the Lehigh Valley and even extended surrounding areas, this news has created some big buzz. I'm sure people in the area who have never heard the word "transformer" are intrigued. Flipping through channels tonight, I personally turned on Transformers on one of the movie channels, something I did solely based on this whole event. I'm sure people are buying the DVD this week in the area and are probably going to be excited to see this scene in the movie next summer. As a director, I would definitely take advantage of areas outside of Hollywood that can fit the script...going directly across to the east coast to Bethlehem, PA is something I still cannot grasp...way to go Bay.

Here are some pictures that will surely blow you away:

(above left) I believe those Chinese letters translate to: you ain't gonna be seein' much more than this.

(above right) A helicopter...but not just any helicopter...a helicopter with Chinese letters on it!!

(left) Sign of the side of a truck parked outside

More pictures will be uploaded to my Webshots, sometime in the next century.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Subway $5 Footlongs

I'm currently eating a $5 footlong from Subway for lunch. I went in there, conscious of this $5 footlong craze, with the mindset that I would only get a 6-inch sub. In the past year, of practically all the times that I went to Subway, I got a 6-inch sub. So why did I budge? It was more economical to get a footlong for $5 than a 6-inch sub for somewhere between $4-5. Why would I pay $5 for something that I could get 200% of for the same price?

I understand this limited-time promotion of the $5 footlong is to combat the decline in footlong sales that had been happening due to more interest in the 6-inch sub. But how long is this promotion going on for? I'm guessing they are trying to build a restored interest in buying a footlong, but is that really going to boost footlong sales after the price goes back up? Not for me - I'm going straight back to the 6-inch sub, if I even go back anytime soon amidst all of this confusion.

On the other side of it, if buying from Subway with someone else, it can do wonders. This was the case on my last visit to Subway, when Kathryn and I decided that we both wanted an Italian sub so just split the 5 dollar footlong, thus both getting a 6-inch sub for $2.50. But it will fall apart if you are visiting Subway with someone with clashing taste buds. There is also the option of eating half and saving half for later...but who wants Subway for lunch and dinner?

Is this whole promotion idea reflective of the Subway brand? The brand that encourages people to choose them over other fast-food joints as a healthy alternative by even making the nutrition fact comparison on their napkins? What's Jared doing with this dilemma - still choosing 6-inch subs or getting footlongs? [scratch that - he probably eats for free]

And now I'm done lunch...with a few inches left to spare.