Friday, October 28, 2005


Remember when Halloween happened on Halloween? I took my kid trick or treating on Oct. 27. Is no paganistic candyfest sacred?

The city instituted Thursday night trick-or-treat a few years ago to keep children from being run down by drunk drivers on Friday night. But this year, Halloween is on Monday. What is the conflict there? Monday night football? I guess in Central PA the Pittsburg v. Baltimore game is too important to be interrupted by a couple thousand teenagers dressed like Jerome Bettis.

What's so great about a Thursday night trick-or-treat anyway? Is it a plot to sabotage "Will and Grace" ratings? Thursday surely has its share of drunk drivers. I mean, Thursday is the new Friday. I do some of my best drinking on Thursday nights. Partly because Joey is so painful. Partly because I have to brace myself for the Neilsen Phenomenon that is CSI/Without a Trace. What? I have a kid.

Imagine my irritation when I have to modify my Thursday-night TV-viewing habits for the neighborhood association. I mean c'mon - NFL aside (admittedly I'm not a big NFL fan - but still...) Monday is a LOUSY night for TV. CSI Miami? News flash - that red-headed guy shot six scenes (look over shoulder, remove glasses, eye flicks to camera, walks out of frame) four years ago. They just recycle them with new sound. And the OED (Over-Explanatory Dialogue) rates about 9.5 out of a possible 10 (10 is reserved for sex and drug films shown in health classes). Seriously. If you work in a crime lab and the guy next to you works in a crime lab, how many times do you have to repeat the phrase "By comparing these striations, which are as unique as a fingerprint, we can determine if these bullets were fired from the same gun."

What else do we have to lose by trick-or-treating on Monday? A three-episode blight of "Medium" episodes. Wifeswap. King of Queens/How I met your mother/Two and a half men/Out of practice?

There may be a fair number of drunk drivers out there on Monday night after all.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Parental Ranting

I have a soft spot for Chuck Jones. As a kid, I was captivated by a very specific kind of cartoon (dark, edgy - and not a little violent) and, as I found out later in life, that cartoon was almost invariably drawn by the late, great Chuck Jones - who incidentally was voted into the Art Director's Hall of Fame and has become one of my heroes. I'll spare you the plots- most involved anthropomorphic animals eviscerating each other for a wedge of cheese - the interesting thing was that I was powerless to look away from these cartoons. I watch my kid watching Elmo and I see this same level of engagement. Engagement is not the word. Catatonia? I ask him a question and his head turns slightly toward my voice but his eyes remain fixed on the screeching red puppet bounding around his imaginary becrayoned lair. And I think "Jesus! It HAS him!" And I feel that "TV is evil" pang that makes me want to put my tumbler full of bourbon through the TV.

Like every parent, I am torn between giving my kid everything necessary to bask in the coolness that so eluded me as a child (I am permanently resentful of my mother's refusal to purchase me a pair of white Reebok running shoes in sixth grade) and shielding his innocent little soul from all the violence, greed and emptiness that has come to define American culture: video games, movies, advertising, etc. Ouch.

I remember my own catatonia - watching Tom and Jerry blowing each other to kingdom come four hundred times in a half hour. I remember not feeling particularly moved grab a knife and experimenting on the family dog. Which is good.

A stereotypical view of cool says you're not cool unless you've been steeped in sex, violence, commerce and drug use. Of course Columbine taught us that uncool kids are almost more likely to end up amped up on crack with a freshly purchased semiautomatic weapon pointed at a hooker. Not that this is Chuck Jones' fault. Or Elmo's. I'm just saying.

So as a parent who worries, I'm sort of doomed either way. Of course the act of worrying gives me a little bit better shot than the one who doesn't care what their kid does. Hence the "Parents: The anti-drug" campaign. But my kid has to go to school with the kid whose dad lets him drink "as long as he does it safely at home with adult supervision."

Wow. I'm ranting. I'm ranting parentally. I'm ranting with Tipper-Gore-like chasteness. Cripes. I must be over 30.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Browser Archeology

Ever wondered what it's like to be an art director at an advertising agency? This afternoon I pulled up my browser history for last Wednesday, and it's fascinating (for me, anyway) to re-live my day vicariously through the websites I visited:

After hearing that Rocky 6 was in production, I was settling a bet on whether an Academy Award had ever been secured by Tom Cruise. Naturally, this discussion turned to Katie. My faith in the future of an America which fails to bestow due recognition on one of the greatest actors of our era had me researching french language immersion schools for my son.

Then I popped in for a look at Adweek to see what's going on in the industry. Must've been something about Modernista. I was streaming in a feed of WXPN which must have spurred a query about the lyrics to the song Wild Horses.

Keith and I are currently working with a 3-D modeler to create monsters for an upcoming breakfast sandwich promotion, which explains why I was looking for pictures of dinosaurs and cyclops-es.

As I paged through page after page of dinosaur images, Keith and I started talking about books which make great gifts, which made me think of a really cool publisher in Philadelphia.

All of this proves that my dependency on the web has become a seamless piece of every conversation I have while seated at a computer - I can find anything (and am frequently unable to restrain myself from finding everything) on the web.

It also proves that I have the attention span of a gnat (see post 1).

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Volvo

Two years ago I got rid of my Saab 9-3 (and a $405 monthly payment). I bought a 1986 Volvo 240DL for $900. The boxy kind. The rusty, brick-red, brick-heavy kind of volvo that earned the company its safety reputation - I know a story about a guy who got rear-ended by a 1/2 ton truck. Volvo: scratched bumper. Truck: replaced bumper. Anyway, a $900 car has its ups and downs. Ups: Minimum coverage, never worrying about locking your doors, cheaper than the Saab in 2.3 months (unless, of course, it goes to shit.) Downs: Worrying about silly things like "Are my wheels going to fly off?" (not yet) and "Will I make it to the dealership?" (so far, so good) and "What is that muffler-dragging-on-the-street sound?" (the muffler, dragging on the street, as it turns out). But dammit, I love that car. I love that I have two Volvos. And that the "new" one (98 V70) has 95K miles on it. The 1986 has about 195K (If I drive it at my current pace of 4 miles a day, I'll hit 200K before I'm fifty).

It's not the handling. Quite honestly, it reminds me of driving a gigantic bell. It short of tips and shimmies and leans. But the pick-up is good for a 4 cylinder car made exclusively out of steel.

It's not the gadgetry - hand crank windows, the original tapedeck/radio, and manual door locks are about the only "gadgets" (the fuse burned out on the seat warmers, the A/C lost its freon years ago and three of the ten defroster lines on the back window don't heat).

I guess I'll have to replace it (a $500 repair would technically total the car - but I'm sure it'll end up keeping the snow off one of my off-street parking spaces long after I cave and buy myself a newish S60 in the Spring.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

So what am I reading?

I have the attention span of a gnat. So I'm usually reading two to five books at a time. Right now it's three books: Creative Company (a book about St. Lukes of London, an advertising agency that shatters the advertising agency paradigm), Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand's longest damn book - one I've been reading in 3-20 page installments for over 8 months) and The Known World (my Pulitzer Prize-winning 'must-read' which alas, I haven't even truly cracked, but it's officially on my "I'm reading it" list because it's made its way to my nightstand, which is farther than a dozen others that are waiting).

I'd love to go back and link the crap out of this post - perhaps I'll find the time, energy and humor to do it (see post one) at the expense of something far more pressing.

Not now though - I have a date with Ayn.