Iron Man 2/Norton: Eliminate Online Evils

•April 30, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The new Iron Man 2 promotion from Norton by Symantec. Norton fights cybercrime. Iron Man fights bad guys, too. So go read a digital comic. Play an interactive sweeps game for a chance to win fun prizes. And, of course, join the fight against cybercrime. What could be wrong with all that? Nothing, I say.

Robert Mondavi Is Alive And Well

•April 30, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The year is 19… let’s say 50. American’s subsist on a steady diet of Wonder Bread, Jello, and Kool Aid. There is no Food Network, no wine aisle at your average supermarket, no Trader Joe’s, no Williams-Sonoma, no such thing as organic.

Somewhere along the way in the year’s since then, the culture of food started changing in America. Of course, Jamie Oliver would argue that it didn’t change enough, that the Wonder Bread regime is still firmly in place. But there is also a strong and vibrant food culture that owes much to movements begun by people like Julia Child and Robert Mondavi.

A few years back, industry giant Constellation Brands bought the Robert Mondavi family of wine brands for a whopping $1.2 Billion. It made a big statement about how much equity the Mondavi name had built while Robert Mondavi was helping to build Napa Valley and the culture that surrounds it.

The new website at is the first true, unified reflection of what he had in mind all along. The first time his story is told, and reinforced with the brand(s) he created to form the full picture.

The new site takes you through the timeline of how his vision evolved, integrates the on-site events and educational programs that helped make his ideas accessible. It’s peppered with his quotes and ideas, and back-ended with a CMS to keep it all fresh. And above all, it creates a brand platform, using everything from color palette to navigation to content and imagery, where everyday wine and expensive wine can co-exist in a cohesive vision of gracious living.

Somewhere, Mr. Mondavi is tossing back a nice Cab and smiling. Although he probably has some suggestions for improvement.

The 404 Page Revisited

•April 2, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Ever gotten to a page where it says you aren’t on a page? Where it says you haven’t found a page, right there on the page you found? That existential paradox inspired the copy for the  404 page copy shown below (and soon to be used at places like this:

“Page Not Found”? And yet, here we have a page.
“Wrong page”? Is there such a thing?
“Page doesn’t exist”? Then what are you seeing and reading?
“404 Error”? Wherefore art though 1-403?

It’s true. You may have ended up here, reading this, with the conscious intention of being somewhere different, reading something else. But here you are. After all the clicks, and links, and backslashes, and refreshes, and returns, after everything you’ve been through in your life up to this point, you’ve arrived here, at this page, in this time. This page, then, is not an ERROR. It is your DESTINY!

Let me tell you, my friend, there are no accidents. You will walk out of here a better man, woman, person of non-specified gender, or child.

If the Internet has taught us anything, it’s that you are never more than one click away from something hilarious, shocking, revolting, enlightening, heartwearming, headscratching, or just plain odd. Perhaps this page strikes you in one of those ways. But the NEXT page you visit? Sky’s the limit.

So where do you go from here? That’s really the question. Do you go backwards, retrace your steps, and try again to go wherever it is you thought you were originally headed? Or is there someplace you really, subconsciously want to be next? Make that a conscious choice now, while you’re on a roll. Because rest assured, the next page you visit will be just as much your destiny as this one.

In closing, perhaps the old Chinese proverb says it best: “If we do not change our direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed”.

Welcome to where you were meant to be. Good luck with where you are headed.

A Picture’s Worth 1,000 Notes

•March 25, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Famed music photographer Jim Marshall died today. He took some enduring and iconic shots, like this one of The Beatles walking off after their last concert, at Candlestick Park.

Notes from the Jabberwocky

•February 10, 2010 • Leave a Comment

A performance art piece about email communication, using actual emails sent as replies over the last year or so to emails that didn’t make much sense. Not sure what it all means, frankly, except that you know you’ve all received emails that made about as much sense as these, or been tempted to reply like this at some point to limn the sheer silliness and volume of email nonsense we all endure.

View the original article, or read below.

The names have been changed to protect the innocent.


From: Jabberwocky
Subject: Latest Project, J.Jub Bird Etc.
To: PD


Can you ask them to see if they could recalibrate the microspool to optimal boolean hexidecimal interoperability? If they say yes, I’m closer to knowing what’s going on than at first I thought… Thanks.


From: Jabberwocky
Subject: himiny biminy boo- Very Important
To: PD


% – lichtenstein
f – robin hood
@ – squallum con carne. idiopathoposcopy, en garde. Verily.


(w/c – wackidy shmackidy doo)


From: J.Walky
Subject: Ahhh! Hebliphmo!
To: PD

Anyflupe, lackatrackamus eldrift en tallyho. Let’s rintintin all the way to Baton Rouge. Phlid du.


– Scooter

Sent from my iPhone


From: Jabberwocky
Subject: Necessary Changes. Glinky dinky doo!
To: PD

Heltroscopy, imminy boffco. Ack. Insead:

# – tralala
^ – vinyaveda, oop
g – yo yo ma (times 7)

Wackidy Smackidy Xtry Kersnackity…


Cap’n Rollo


From: Jabberwocky
Subject: Epiphany!
To: PD

Admiralty –

In truth, the heretofore epiphany made chocolate entropy all but stochastic. Still, I matriculate haltingly at the altar of emblazoned filaments, waffling slowly in the rutted hazelnut effluvium. Ah well, we dance the can-can when we can, can we? Penultimately, my credo is thusly extruded:

– De Doo Doo Doo De Da Da Da is all I have to say to you
– I was born by the river in a little tent, and just like the river I been runnin ev’ry since
– If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now

Pull the ripcord, Effie, the ants look like people from here!

Whatchou talkin’ bout, Willis?


From: Jabberwocky
Subject: Ahhh! Hebliphmo!
To: PD

Yellow! Wahimpha tillyoscopus!

Oh. I get it. Looks great.

Let’s push it Live.


Continuum Estate: A Singular Site for A Singular Wine

•February 5, 2010 • Leave a Comment

“It’s a single wine, produced with a clarity of focus, at the highest level”, to quote Tim Mondavi about his Continuum Estate wine. A pretty good description of the new Continuum website as well. The structure is unique and the look and feel is dramatic. Wait for the brief and flash-restrained home intro of the transforming “one tree” graphic, and you’re into a site that actually exists on a Continuum. You can navigate by traditional left nav means, or scroll on what appears to be a continuing spool of imagery and words that make up the “pages”. This site, from FINE Design Group, is at the strong of the coolness Continuum.

Threatener Of The Absurd: A Parenting Technique So Silly It Just Might Work

•February 3, 2010 • Leave a Comment

If you’re a parent of young children, you are almost certainly familiar with the ongoing game of “or else”. Resorting to threats is part of getting through many of each day’s mundane tasks, like toothbrushing, bedtime, homework, vegetables, sibling combat.

As your children get used to the constant badgering, you find yourself on auto-pilot, spewing threats that are either so innocuous as to be ineffective, or so harsh as to have no resolve or reality behind them: “brush your teeth or you’ll get no dessert tomorrow when, as you well know, I will almost certainly have forgotten this moment”, or “if you do not do your homework, you will have to live in a flaming dumpster with a family of hyenas when you grow up”. The two pillars of parental threat, of course, involve dessert and TV deprivation.

Some families roll their threats up into a legally defined term, such as “privileges” or “consequences”. Over time, the implications of “losing privileges” or “getting consequences” become understood, and boil themselves right back down to synonyms for dessert and TV. But this idea of creating an “or else” vocabulary recently inspired another approach that might earn you some level of obedience for another couple months in the race toward the hopeless teen years.

Let’s call it Threatener of the Absurd“. It’s designed to give you an advantage in the perpetual game of “or else” without painting you into a corner of your own…painting. Plus, it’s fun.

See, the problem with parents and their disciplinary threats is that they fundamentally lack exactly that which kids appreciate – imagination. It’s the same old tired stuff. This technique uses children’s greatest asset to reign in what is typically their weakest: imagination trumps discipline.

To do this, all you must do is simply to work harder at your “or elses”. Stop being lazy – you must think of unique and completely befuddling threats on a fairly regular basis. The most effective of these will have the following 3 characteristics:

1) Head-Scratchers. You need 2-3 vocabulary words that you’re not sure you know the meaning of yourself, exactly, but that your kids will certainly not know for at least 6 grade levels into the future. This is because, as an adult, your imagination is so pathetically atrophied, your only hope of meeting kids on their wavelength is to simply use unfamiliar, vaguely menacing words that force your child to invoke their own imagination to pick up your slack.

2) Grounders. You need 1-2 words that ground the threat in something very familiar, such as action words like “locked” or image nouns like “teddy bear”. Be specific here, toss in a statistic, an adjective, or some kind of modifier that helps kids visualize something that probably doesn’t exist.

3) Cool Delivery. You need to affect a calm, casual tone that suggests you are imparting common knowledge, and offer little to no ensuing elaboration. If they ask questions, and they will, you can either pretend to disbelieve they don’t understand or just say “you’ll find out”.

What you’ll find is that you will drive them insane with curiosity about what it is you’ve just threatened to do. This in and of itself is not guaranteed to earn you compliance, but it does break a certain spell, gets them talking, and just plain entertains them. Plus, it can be good for their vocabulary.

Of course, I’m not at all an advocate for coming up with truly scary threats, or disavowing straightforward talk. This can’t be the basis for your entire relationship. But the fun part is replacing the tired exchanges with stuff that makes them ponder, but in fact is mostly too harmless, vague, or nonsensical to be worrisome. In truth, this is more about entertaining them into compliance than threatening. And, if you’re to be honest, most of your threats are mere entertainment for them as it is. If you don’t believe me, watch closely as their eyes widen the next time they say “or else…what?” If you’re a decent parent, they have no reason to be afraid. What’s happening in this new approach, ironically, is you’re communicating with them by making no sense.

After you lower the boom with a truly surreal threat, just as they’re regaining their equilibrium, put the toothbrush in their hand.

So then, here are some examples to get you started. It usually comes out better when you make them up on the spot, but this should give you the idea:

“Go to bed (brush your teeth, do your homework, stop pummeling your sister, etc.) or else…”

  • I will confiscate everything you hold dear, and even some of the things you no longer relish, and ship them back to Old Siam.
  • I will perform a mock bifurcation of your least coveted teddy bear using a serrated pizza knife.
  • You will find yourself locked into a sub-prime mortgage as a long term denizen of Sorrytown, USA.
  • Your carbohydrate intake will begin to lean much more heavily towards the complex and it will be 100% preservative-free.
  • I will come up with a litany of arcane and interconnected repercussions woven together so tightly it will form a latter day Gordian knot around your entire childhood consciousness.
  • A hefty and unreasonable tariff will be levied upon you and all of your stuffies, globally.
  • We will make you learn to do differential calculus at “check plus” level before you learn your multiplication tables at “check”
  • We will institute a Kafkan household bureaucracy so robust that it will require 2 weeks notice for a lavatory visit
  • I will have your favorite playground razed and replaced with a patented “kinder zone” that’s more eco-friendly and sustainable
  • I will have a licensed contractor remove the arachnid force field from around the perimeter of your room
  • I will sublet our family room to the cast of Where The Wild Things Are and YOU will be responsible for enforcing compliance with the terms of the rental agreement

That should get you started. But please feel free to invent (and send me, please) your own imaginative “or elses”. It is my great hope that this approach results in a net 15 minute reduction in daily bedtime and dinner time filibustering for you someday soon.

Do it now, or your children will emerge from their wonder years as simpering, entitled sycophants clinging to their own hackneyed survival meta-modalities.