Friday, May 29, 2009

The wrath of mothers as consumers

I was just talking to my co-worker about a problem she’s having with Bank of America. They refuse to refund money (over $100) to her account from charges due to overdrawing, although the bank was the party at fault since they transferred money from her account without being asked to.

Hearing her talk on the phone and get more and more frustrated with the bank representative who obviously does not know how to deliver good customer service (which leads to bad word-of-mouth like this blog post), made me suggest something to my friend—you should have my mom call that bank.

It’s true. My mom has a way of getting companies/institutions to right their mistakes and treat you as you should be treated. I always know if I’m in too deep with horrible customer care representatives that all it will take is a phone call and I will get some serious reinforcement on my side.

For example, last year I was a senior at Ithaca College, about to start my final semester at the school that I had paid many thousands of dollars to already, yet I found myself at odds talking to a Financial Aid representative about my financial aid package. Apparently I was not getting a lot of money that I was supposed to get. And this was not going to bode well (i.e. I was not going to have any money to buy food). So I enlisted my mom for help. Who knows if it is the natural motherly instinct to stand up for her child, or just another natural instinct she possesses – being a fierce knowledgeable customer - but my mom got the job done.

In no less than an hour I received a call from my mother. During this time, she had not only called the Financial Aid Office, but also gotten on the phone with Larry Chambers (the head honcho of the Office who no one ever would think really existed if he didn’t sign all fancy FinAid communications from the college), and received both an apology and a refund of the monies owed to us. I don’t know what was said, but I was glad I was not on Larry’s end of the phone call. And one thing was for sure, I was glad I had my mom on my side.

It’s true, my mom knows how to get your way as a consumer, which is a great trait to have. She told me of a time at the Bon-Ton when they never would take her coupons and she said to the sales lady, “They always send me these coupons in the mail, but never let me use them.” Boom. The lady let her use it. Even though she wasn’t supposed to.

I was at a Yankees game about a month ago that was rained out…or so I thought when I left the stadium. They ended up playing after a 2-hour rain delay. Their policy is that you won’t get your money back if you leave and then the game is actually played. My mom told me to write an email to the Yankees anyways and explain the situation, because “Who knows? Maybe they’ll give you something. Can’t hurt to try.” I’m still waiting on a response from the Yanks, but we’ll see what happens.

Anyways, to draw a point from this—yes, my mom is great at getting her way as a consumer. But this is also a bigger lesson in marketing, and something I just read about in the great book The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell. Companies realize that much of what they sell is based on word-of-mouth. A restaurant can have great food and service, but still be empty because no one knows about it. People need to pass the word on in order for something to catch on, people Gladwell refers to as “connectors.” And companies also know that if these connectors are upset about how a company treats them, they are just as likely to pass on negative word-of-mouth to their friends and families. This puts us as consumers in a pretty good spot.

Maybe we should all act a little more like my mom. Because after all, if you take a second to let a company know how you really feel, maybe you’ll get something great out of it. In the great words of my mother, it “can’t hurt to try.”

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A study of my own “whiteness”

So there is a website called “Stuff White People Like.” It is a pretty funny site that details things that white people supposedly like, featuring things such as “Ugly Sweater Parties,” and “Unpaid Internships.”

I was perusing this site today, which currently lists 125 things that white people like, and I thought to myself – “Wow. I like a lot of these things. Does that mean I’m really white?” Although I know the answer is a resounding YES, let’s be a little more scientific about this.

Today I went through all the posts on this site systematically and rated from 1-5 how much I associate with that characteristic (1 being the lowest, 5 being the highest). Then I averaged my scores to get a final score on the 1-5 scale to see how much there is in common between what “white people like” and what I like. Using this complicated first grader’s statistical analysis I can come to a final conclusion of just how “white” I am.

As I went down the 125 items posted to, I did seem to rate highly on many of them, especially certain sections like:
#38-43: Arrested Development, Netflix, Apple Products, Indie Music, Sushi, Plays


#49-53: Vintage, Irony, Living By Water, Sarah Silverman, dogs

or even…

#102-107: Children’s Games as Adults, Sweaters, Girls with Bangs, Unpaid Internships, Facebook, Self Aware Hip Hop References.

Based on these results, I began thinking to myself “Wowzers, I am really white!” But when it came down to averaging my results, I scored a 3.456. This means on a 1-5 scale of white-personess, I score only a little bit higher than average, which kind of surprised me. Maybe it was because of my aversion to coffee, or the fact that I don’t hate my parents. Or because I scored very low on categories such as: vegetarianism, not having a tv, and natural medicine.

One thing is for sure—there was absolutely no point to this exercise. I will end this post with the entire list from Stuff White People Like, in case you’d like to find your own average using your copy and paste skills, along with an excel spreadsheet. Post your score to comments. And good luck!

1. Bob Marley
2. Hating People Who Wear Ed Hardy
3. Mad Men
4. Moleskine Notebooks
5. Funny or Ironic Tattoos
6. Taking a Year Off
7. Sea Salt
8. Ugly Sweater Parties
9. Political Prisoners
10. Black music that black people don't lister to anymore
11. Promising to Learn a New Language
12. America
13. Halloween
14. Hummus
15. Pea Coats
16. Frisbee Sports
17. The Onion
18. Appearing to enjoy Classical Music
19. Self Aware Hip Hop References
20. Facebook
21. Unpaid Internships
22. Girls with Bangs
23. Sweaters
24. Children's Games as Adults
25. Being Offended
26. Bumper Stickers
27. Grammar
28. The Ivy League
29. Scarves
30. New Balance Shoes
31. Rugby
32. Free healthcare
33. Music Piracy
34. Book Deals
35. San Francisco
36. Dinner Parties
37. St. Patrick's Day
38. Having gay friends
39. Outdoor performance clothes
40. shorts
41. the wire
42. t shirts
43. Bad memories of high school
44. hating corporations
45. graduate school
46. the idea of soccer
47. modern furniture
48. multi lingual children
49. musical comedy
50. bottles of water
51. threatening to move to canada
52. oscar parties
53. gentrification
54. study abroad
55. being the only white person around
56. difficult break ups
57. mos def
58. michel gondry
59. standing still at concerts
60. divorce
61. co ed sports
62. recycling
63. expensive sandwiches
64. knowing what's best for poor people
65. bicycles
66. toyota prius
67. natural medicine
68. japan
69. juno
70. lawyers
71. apologies
72. kitchen gadgets
73. dogs
74. Sarah Silverman
75. Living by water
76. irony
77. vintage
78. whole foods and grocery co ops
79. arts degrees
80. the Sunday new york times
81. asian fusion food
82. public radio
83. plays
84. sushi
85. indie music
86. apple products
87. netflix
88. arrested development
89. renovations
90. breakfast places
91. the daily show/colbert report
92. architecture
93. marajuana
94. vegan/vegetariansim
95. snowboarding
96. wrigley field
97. 80s night
98. not having a tv
99. marathons
100. manhattan
101. david sedaris
102. wine
103. microbreweries
104. having two last names
105. writer's workshops
106. being an expert on YOUR culture
107. traveling
108. awareness
109. hating their parents
110. "gifted" children
111. yoga
112. having black friends
113. tea
114. non-profit organizations
115. asian girls
116. wes anderson movies
117. making you feel bad about not going outside
118. barack obama
119. diversity
120. organic food
121. farmers markets
122. assists
123. film festivals
124. religions that their parents don't belong to
125. coffee

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A study of over-saturation... the Golden Gate Bridge

conclusion: I love people who over-saturate

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ellen's Commencement Speech at Tulane

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lookin’ for a summer ANTHEM

Summer’s on it’s way (finally), and we need a great summer anthem to play alongside our mayhem this year. What will it be WHAT WILL IT BE? Since I am slightly bored at the moment, I am going to try to guess what will be this summer’s breakout SINGLE, based on previous summer megahits, various online sources as well as my fine taste for seasonal anthems.

Let’s start by assessing previous summer anthems…
Bleedin’ Love - Leona Lewis
I Kissed a Girl- Katy Perry
Forever – Chris Brown

Okay so we got some lesbian fantasies, broken hearts, and lady beaters in this crew.
What made them summer anthems: Hooks that get stuck in your head, drivin’ BEATS

The Reason – Hoobastank
If I Ain’t Got You – Alicia Keys
Yeah! – Usher ft. Lil Jon & Ludacris

This year was highlighted by angst ridden, emotionally filled songs. And Lil Jon saying OKKKAYY.
What made them summer anthems: Well, YEAH is danceable, and easy to scream along to, Alicia Keys is just good in general, and Hoobastank… can’t explain it, but I do remember driving around in a car full of people screaming the chorus to this song.

Try Again – Aaliyah
It’s Gonna Be Me – NSYNC
The Real Slim Shady – Eminem

Aaliyah (RIP) with a song to remind you never to give up, Slim with his first big hit, and NSYNC just being NSYNC.
What made them summer anthems: They all have a great ability to stay in your head for a while. Steven King calls it an “ear worm.” I call it “ahh get this song out of my head!”

1996 (takin’ it back to the 90’s, kid)
C'mon N' Ride It (The Train) - Quad City Dj's
All Coming Back to Me Now – Celine Dion
California Love – Tupac

A hip-hop legend, Celine singin’ her heart out and everyone else ridin’ the train. Some diversity up in this summer. But that’s the way they did it back in 96.
What made them summer anthems: Once again, the ear worm factor.

Okay, now that we’ve taken a look back at some old summer ANTHEMS, let’s see what people are saying online about this summer’s go to songs:

On one message board, many respondents favored “anything by Lady GaGa lists the current top 3 singles as: Boom Boom Pow (Black Eyed Peas), Poker Face (Lady GaGa), and Blame It (Jamie Foxx).

My friend Dan’s pick is 1901 by Phoenix… and since he told me this, I also read in Entertainment Weekly that it is one of their picks for big summer jam as well.

My friend Anthony's pick is an Eminem song from the album he just dropped... I think some good candidates are "We Made You" and "Old Time's Sake."

Phew, doing that research was exhausting! Now I think I am equipped to predict what songs will be big this summer. And sorry, Lady GaGa I would rather be wrong than choose your song, even if all the online buzz is about you.

My 3 Predictions for Summer Hits are…

Based on summer hits from previous years, it seems as if ear worm songs that stick with you fare really well in the summertime. And if I know anything about the Black Eyed Peas, they’ll give you beats that stay with you for months (Don’t Phunk with My Heart, Let’s get it Started in Ha!)… And there is also a lot of Internet buzz around this song, AND it currently sits at #1 on the charts. If there’s a better formula for a summer hit, somebody tell me cause I’m missin’ it!

2. Don’t Trust Me – 3OH!3
It’s just so freaking catchy! WOO’s? In the chorus? Sign me up.

3. Fire Burning – Sean Kingston
Okay, I’ll be honest this one is just because I loved Beautiful Girls so much. It probably has a slim chance of being a summer hit, but maybe, just maybe since so many people read my blog, I will start an epidemic.

Alright, so the chances that any of my predictions will be THE BIG SUMMER HIT 2009 are slim, but who cares. I tried my darndest.

Leave your predictions in the comments section. If you’re right I’ll buy you a candy bar in 2010 (good luck choosing, mom).

just a tuesday morning...

My day started off with a recording session for a creative team's concept called "poetry slam." Basically I got to spit some Time Warner Cable Business Class rhymes into a mic, wearing a headset and everything.

This is why I work in advertising

Thursday, May 14, 2009

single ladies dance for trident

see me? i'm the 4th one on the right...

be happy

A few years ago on spring break when Hoover wasn't going wild, me, Hoov, and Bec were laying on the beach shooting the shit and one of us asked, "In ten years, what is the one thing you want to have?"

Hoover said she wanted to be a doctor.

Becca said she wanted a husband that she loved.

I said I just wanted to be happy.

I think my answer still holds true.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fantastic News!

My girl Beyonce is performing at Madison Square Garden on June 21st, so naturally I was on Ticketmaster perusing the ticket selection when I came across THE GREATEST DEAL EVER.

If I were to buy the "I am...Beyonce" Meet and Greet VIP Package, I would get:

Front Row Ticket
Meet & Greet with Beyoncé
Photo with Beyoncé
Special entrance for VIP's
Limited Edition Deréon bag (including autographed tour book & more)
Collectible laminate and/or wristband
One year membership to the official Beyoncé fan club
Onsite event management staff

WHAT?!!!!!!! This is available? This is a dream. And it's all for the low price of $1,079. I wish I knew about this 10 years ago, I would have started saving...

Now I just need to raise $2,158 (I just used a calculator to do that math...sad) so me and my friend Kate Ward can live out our dream and meet Beyonce. The one year membership to the official Beyonce fan club ain't too shabby either...

Donations are greatly appreciated to help me reach my goal. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Fantasy Fishing

Okay, so check it. To feed my gambling addiction in an easily accessible, cheap way, I partake in a lot of online competitions. Some, like Fantasy Baseball, or ESPN’s STREAK FOR THE CASH, are common, every day games. Others, like my Fantasy Fishing team, are not. But every month or so I get an email from to set up my “lineup” for this week’s tournament. I just got one such email about the upcoming fishing event at BEAVER LAKE (cue childish giggles from me).

Anyways, the reason I signed up for Fantasy Fishing in the first place is twofold:
1. you can win $
2. it’s free

I also read about how last year the grand prize winner was some housewife who had no clue about who’s who in fishing. This woman was my inspiration. Someone who made a crapload of money by playing a free game and blindly guessing which fishermen will win at lakes you’ve never heard of? That’s my dream. So I set out to become the next ignorant Fantasy Fishing contestant who would change their life forever by picking Fishermen with the coolest names.

So far my “squad” has competed in two events, and I stand at an impressive 25,000th place. But I have faith. All it takes is one set of great picks, and there I am with a sack full of cash and a big smile on my face.

Here’s how Fantasy Fishing works:
You pick who you think will be the Top 10 fishermen in the next event. You then must rank the order in which you think they will finish. You get points if someone you have is in the top ten, you get more points if they finish in the place you predicted.
Then, if you have the most points for that tournament, YOU WIN $$!!!

I guess there’s no real point to this post except to urge you all to blindly choose your own fishermen and win some money:

Who knows, maybe you’ll be the next housewife to strike it rich?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Big movies coming out that I am not excited about

There are a lot of HUGE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS coming out soon. And I’m not really excited about any of them. Why? I don’t like Star Trek, I am not a boy, and I don’t love action movies. Why was Sex in the City so successful last year? People like me. Someone looking for a summer movie to watch where nothing explodes and there are no car chases. I mean, I’m not a total loser. I do like some action in my movies, but it’s not what keeps me up at night excited to go to a show.

If you haven’t already realized by reading previous posts, I have the mind of a 75 year old. I hate loud noises, crowds, being cold, waiting in rain delays at baseball games, waiting in line for water slides, and going down the water slides once I get to the front of the line. I enjoy silly looking animals, gambling, romantic comedies, golfing and drinking. Move me to a retirement community in Florida and I’ll be happy.

Okay now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about summer movies!

BIG ACTION MOVIES that I don’t want to see this summer:

Star Trek
To everyone who is excited about this movie—trekkies, non-trekkies, whoever you are, I’m sorry. I just don’t really care about it. I’m glad that you are all excited. And that this movie is getting great reviews, I’m sure it is a good movie and would be alright if I actually sat down and watched it. But, it’s just not making me want to run to the movie theatre on opening day (although some people I know are quite excited – Looby shout-out). I never watched the show, never really wanted to, never have seen Star Wars either (okay I’m ready for the ridicule), and although JJ Abrams does good work, just not crazy about seeing this one.
Things in this movie the old woman in me is weary of: Outer Space, Explosions, the Unknown

Terminator Salvation
The only thing about this movie I was interested in (Bale’s crazy yell-fest at a Production guy) I’ve already experienced FOR FREE just by listening online. I’ll save my money here and spend it on an early bird dinner!
Things in this movie the old woman in me is weary of: Robots, Mean people, Explosions

X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Nope, never saw the other X-men movies. I did used to like Wolverine when my brother followed X-men when we were little. But do I want to know his mutant backstory? No thanks, I’ll pass. He needs to cut his fingernails. It’s not hygienic.
Things in this movie the old woman in me is weary of: Mean People, Fighting, Explosions

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Yep, same rings true here—never saw the first one. And I am not a boy. I think that pretty much rules out me seeing this one. Ladies who like Transformers, I’m not dissing y’all. You’re just not the primary market of this flick. But if you enjoy the bots, and the Fox, all the more power to ya. I hope Edibus Prime or whatever his name is lays down some more great quotes in this sequel.
Things in this movie the old woman in me is weary of: Robots, Explosions, Mean robots

G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra
Again, I am not a boy. I did not grow up playing with G.I. Joes, although I did enjoy the cartoon shorts where G.I. Joe’s taught me things I didn’t know. Like not to talk to strangers. And I still don’t. That’s about all the use I had for G.I. Joe. And that’s half the battle.
Things in this movie the old woman in me is weary of: Fighting, Mean People, Explosions

What I’d rather see this summer:
Julie and Julia – Meryl Streep and Amy Adams together again after their great DOUBT performances, only this time they are telling the story of the wonderful cook, Julia Childs! It is going to be a marvelous time!

Up – An animated feature about an old man being carried away by balloons – hmm…an old man? Balloons? Sounds right up my alley.

The Boat that Rocked – Phillip Seymour Hoffman stars in this “period comedy about an illegal radio station in the North Seas in the 1960’s.” Sounds like it has potential to me. And this is the answer to why he wore that skull cap during awards season—his hair was long and silly looking for this film.

Away We Go – I think this is the movie I’m most excited about this summer. It’s got John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph as a traveling couple who are expecting their first child. Directed by Sam Mendes, the preview looks amazing. Check it.

Bruno – Where do you go after Borat? Bruno. Sascha Baron Cohen is back with a different hilarious character, only this time he’s a homosexual fashionista. If the preview is a good indication, this movie will be full of just as much mayhem as Borat, if not more. And how did Bruno really get into boot camp? Seriously.

Funny People – Judd Apatow’s latest, but this one seems to be a little more serious. But still funny. Starring Adam Sandler as a terminally ill stand up comedian who suddenly becomes un-terminally ill, this one looks like it’s going to be great. Great support cast of Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill and the always funny Leslie Mann.

500 Days of Summer – Romantic comedy woooo! With the kid formerly known as the kid from Third Rock from the Sun (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Zooey Deschanel. Don’t know much else except that I wanna see it!

Action movies that I AM interested in seeing (weird, I know):
Inglorious Basterds – Tarantino’s new one starring Brad Pitt. He plays Lt. Aldo Raine who rounds up a crew of Jewish-American soldiers to kill some Nazis in France during WWII. I think it’s going to be absolutely insane. I don’t know if I’ll like it, but let’s give it a shot. (Interesting note – all the Jewish American soldiers in this movie are played by Jewish American actors)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – It’s Harry Potter! Come on, I shouldn’t have to explain this. If nothing else, just because Hoover will shame me if I don’t.

Land of the Lost – I don’t recall watching this show as a child, and I’m not super excited by the movie, but I guess I’ll check it out. Will Ferrell is in it and he’s usually a good time. I’m a bit weary about the Dinosaurs and the Unknown though… might be a game time decision.

Public Enemies – Johnny Depp and Christian Bale in a flick about American gangster John Dillinger being stalked by the feds in the 1930s. Should be pretty awesome.

Chick Flicks I am embarrassed to say I will probably see this summer:
Ghost of Girlfriends Past – my boy Matteo. Hope the shirt comes off.

The Proposal – Sandra Bullock/Ryan Reynolds. I’m skeptical, but a sucker for those rom-coms.

The Ugly Truth – Katherine Heigl, but more importantly, Gerard Butler. Looks stupid, just the way I like my movies! I bet they end up together in the end. Gosh I’m a good predictor…

The most ridiculous movie coming out this summer:
Final Destination: Death Trip 3D – No explanation needed.

Welp, I guess that’s it about it for my summer movie round-up! If you like explosions, mean people or robots, keep your eyes peeled for all these actions flicks coming out. But if you’re like me, may as well wait for a nice double rom-com feature at the drive-in, grab your man (who will rather be watching Transformers), and watch the love unfold.

BONUS MOVIE: Obsessed, starring Beyonce. I gotta watch that one soon. She’s my girl.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Billy Mays for ESPN360

Great spots for ESPN 360 with the great Billy Mays!

"I'm not that strong a reader..."