At the movies

Between the commercials and previews for “Shrek 2” at the Regal 14 Union Square, a man in employee attire walked to the front of our theater and called us to attention. He explained that Regal is raising money for serious illnesses this summer, and that he, Tony, was living proof of the positive effects of this research.

“I was very, very sick,” Tony earnestly explained to the crowd, “and had it not been for expensive brain surgery, I wouldn’t be here today.”

From the fifth row a little girl’s hand shot up. Tony, excited for the interaction, called on her: “Yes?”

“I have a friend named Tony!”

The assist

The scene: Barnacle Bill’s miniature golf down the Jersey shore, waiting at the 12th hole for a father and his 5-year-old daughter to play. The hole has a half-loop that leads to a raised green.

The daughter swings wildly and misses the ball entirely. She tries again, and makes contact; her ball flies into the air, hits the side of the raised green, and ricochets onto the lower part of the hole.

Father steps onto the hole and hits his daughter’s ball through the loop. As she watches, he reaches up to the raised green, taps her ball into the hole, and declares triumphantly: “Hole in one for Becky!” Becky raises her arms in triumph.

Defining sotto voce

Don’t miss this great piece, journalist’s retort and all, by Felix Salmon regarding Nick Denton’s “off the record” email getting printed in Business 2.0. This startled me when I read the article in question, too, and I’m glad it’s been publicly addressed. While I see the article author’s point, I’m not sure I buy it.

Addendum, May 27: Here’s the June 2004 Wired article on Nick and Gawker Media, just published.

One terabyte!

Google has gone and upgraded my Gmail account to one terabyte of storage.

What the heck do I do with a terabyte of email access? Maybe Google has plans on giving me FTP access, too, so I can have a free repository for all my MP3s.

Update: Just a glitch. Ah well.

Good songs

I dig the return of dirty rock ‘n roll.

~ The Strokes, “Reptilia” (single)

~ Franz Ferdinand, “Take Me Out” (album)

~ The Vines, “Ride” (single)

One must still genuflect to the master:

~ James Gang, “Funk #49

That left-to-right stereo slide of the opening guitar lick is one of my favorite moments in recorded music.

Committing

When I was 18 I was down the Jersey shore and walked by this ridiculous airbrushed T-shirt of Gene Simmons of Kiss, all made up with a silly tongue that extended down and twisted around like a pretzel. It was $40, which was a fortune for a T-shirt to a high school senior in 1991.

After staring at it for a few minutes, my friend Adam said to me, “Buy it. If you don’t get it now, you’ll always wish you had.”

So I bought it; spent the forty bucks and worried the heck out of myself whenever I put it on. I’ve worn it a total of three times in 13 years.

The most recent time I wore it was to a Kiss meet-and-greet at a club in Manhattan in 1997. Each member of the band stood in a row onstage, and fans got to walk down the row and shake hands with the band members. The rules were strict: keep the line moving, no posing for photos around the back of the podium, autographs on albums and papers only.

Every member of the band loved my shirt. Paul Stanley: “Nice shirt!” Eric Singer: “Great shirt, man.” Bruce Kulick: “Love that shirt,” then, turning to Gene Simmons: “Hey, Gene, check out this guy’s shirt.”

When I got to Gene he gave me a great you-and-me-pal smile. He pulled me aside, leaned in close, autographed the shirt in permanent marker and gave me a firm handshake, nodding knowingly.

I’m not that star-struck but that’s about as fun as music fandom has ever gotten for me. I came home, sprayed the shirt with some sealing solution, and haven’t worn it since. It took six years for it to pay off, but in the end, my decisiveness led me to a singular event with a unique memento.

Any time I’m on the fence about something I think about that shirt, and how my greatest wisdom is often the one in my gut.

Young firm loads gun, shoots itself in foot (well, pinky toe)

Six Apart built its burgeoning weblog empire on a free piece of software that promotes goodwill and encourages people to use its paid service, Typepad. So what does the company do, now that it is a full-fledged company? It makes the new release of Movable Type surprisingly cost-prohibitive for most noncommercial users. I hope for Anil, Ben and Mena’s sake that this doesn’t create the backlash I think it will.

Update: In the scheme of things, MT’s cost structure isn’t particularly expensive. It feels expensive, because MT users are used to it being free. But $99 isn’t that much money; I regularly pay $39 to $79 for BBEdit releases, and they’re a similar company in size and stature. I’m a cheapskate with personal software licensing, but when I’m ready to add more publishers to my platform, I’ll be paying.

Update 2, May 17: Read Brad Choate’s piece on the matter, which sums it up nicely.

FedEx/Kinko’s

FedEx unveiled a new logo for Kinko’s recently, a bold move toward corporate brand integration. The new logo tries mightily to integrate two disparate commercial images. Kinko’s old logo didn’t have enough structural similarity to its new parent’s identity, so FedEx had to start fresh.

Several noteworthy touchstones can be found in the graphic element. The use of existing FedEx colors for the new icon nicely ties the parent company’s numerous services into Kinko’s visual presence. The light blue continues the FedEx trend of introducing muted secondary tones to complement its trademark purple. Most importantly, the star contains in it a right-facing purple triangle–a delightful nod to the allusive arrow in the original FedEx logo.

Simplifying the word “Kinko’s” to a thin sans-serif font is FedEx’s way of maintaining the brand name without encroaching on the master identity. Putting “Kinko’s” in the FedEx font would detract from the main logo, while keeping the original would not mesh as smoothly. FedEx clearly wants people to associate Kinko’s stores with FedEx, but it wants to maintain the brand equity of the chain it bought. Yahoo! performed a similar logo revision when it pulled Hotjobs into its master brand (see before and after).

The new FedEx Kinko’s logo is not without critique. There is no apparent justification for the use a sans-serif font for the additional text while the text add-ons to other FedEx logos (Freight, Ground, and so forth) use a serif one. Perhaps the old font can’t sit full-size next to the master brand, but the continuity is lost. The light blue in the icon represents one equal portion of FedEx as a whole, but it doesn’t seem to play a strong-enough role in defining the image as Kinko’s. And the asterisk (is that what it’s supposed to be?) doesn’t ring true as iconography: no other FedEx logo has a dingbat to call its own, so why does Kinko’s?

Still, the design succeeds far more than it fails. A quote from the FedEx brand FAQ sums up the initiative (paraphrased): “The icon represents the collection of the three kinds of FedEx services available at these locations–orange for global express shipping, green for ground shipping, and blue for the new retail business service centers. At the heart of the icon is purple, which is shared by all FedEx companies.” Without a doubt, the new logo serves its purpose, and serves it well.