Same job, different uniform.

Friday, June 30, 2006

girlfriday:get thee a new angle

I rue the day the dairy industry launched its "Got Milk?" campaign. It spawned a generation of unoriginal ad campaigns that nauseate and bore millions of marketing-conscious Americans.

Got Jesus?
Got Plaque?
Got Radiator Problems?
Got gastro-intestinal trouble?

Got an original thought?

Think how effective and refreshing a sign that read, "Do you need a new transmission? We offer transmissions at a fair price" would be. Or, "You're welcome at our church." Or, " First-Time Patients: Free Teeth Cleaning. Call 555-5555."

Cleverness only works if you're clever. If you're a dentist odds are you're not. Remember that your competitors are trying to produce a clever marketing scheme that will attract consumers, and most of them don't know how to do it either. They are resorting to the trite "Got ?" campaigns. Join them and you will be fatally commonplace.

If you don't have the budget or edge to compete with McDonald's' billion dollar advertising campaigns, don't. Offer a good product, sell it professionally and with class. When in doubt remember that less is more.

This goes for email correspondence, letters, websites, news reports, journal entries and notes jotted on paper while driving.

We all try too hard (I do here a lot); we all make marketing mistakes. But failure is no excuse to keep failing. Attempt to write simple, declarative sentence. It hurts, but it's worth it.

If you need help eliminating unnecessary text, Bullfighter is one resource. It is an inconspicuous tool that, with the push of a button, will review your text for "bull." It will even rate your document and explain the rating.

Another helpful document that I've frequently referenced is, "Why Bad Ads Happen to Good Causes." It's hard to overstate the usefulness of Bad Ads, which was originally published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to help nonprofits build meaningful public service campaigns. Click here to download it (free).

Extra tip: If you have long-winded friends, Fight the Bull offers a deliciously creepy tool called the Mystery Matador that sends an anonymous message to your troublesome penpal measuring the amount of jargon and verbosity in their document.

That pain they feel is the truth.

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

A Brush with Greatness. Sort of.

Khaki shorts. Brown sandals. Striped shirt, sleeves rolled up. Scented.

Vince Vaughn waiting nonchalantly for his seat in first class on my mom's flight from Chicago to Atlanta. She just called me.

Oh, yeah.

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girlfriday: humming to herself

Out of the Woods

I wish you out of the woods,
and into a picture with me.
I wish you over the moon.
Come out of the question with me.

If this is gonna run round in my head
I might as well be dreaming.
Run round in my head.

I roller-coaster for you.
Time out of mind must be heavenly.
It's all enchanted and wild.
It's just like my heart said it's gonna be.

If this is gonna run round in my head
I might as well be dreaming.
Run round in my head.

I wish you out of the woods,
and into the picture with me.
I wish you over the moon.
Come out of the question and be.

If this is gonna run round in my head
I might as well be dreaming.
Run round in my head.

I wish you out of the woods,
and into the picture with me.
I wish you over the moon.
Come out of the question and be.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Leaping Premier Dates in a Single Bound

Hours before the movie bowed in other theaters, select IMAX theaters offered sneak previews of Superman Returns and ours was one of the elect.

Twenty-five dollars earned us a commemorative t-shirt, poster and a trumped-up 3D version of the anticipated movie.

I was not disappointed. Brian Singer can deliver a superhero movie that is stylish and sentimental without being preachy or excessively earnest.

And I am ready to fall in love with Clark Kent again.

But while Superman Returns works as the launch pad for reviving the franchise, it didn't develop a compelling enough theme to really satisfy.

The more solid superhero offerings in recent memory have trained us to expect a powerful theme ensconced in an appropriate measure of angst and butt-kicking. Spider Man and Batman Begins come to mind as examples. Singer's vision of The Man of Steel is a throwback to the golden age of cinematic super-heroes: He fights the baddies. Period.

The film toys with the question, "Does the world need a savior?" but it never explains why the answer is yes. Singer could have spent some time developing this, but it would have detracted from his job to reintroduce and court our affection for Superman's central characters. He is priming the pump.

Singer's Superman is stronger, more dangerous, but with a kinder heart, a more contented spirit. The battle for his soul is won. Now he has to fight for ours.

I'm not overlooking the emotional complication that Lois Lane, son and fiancee in tow, presents, but it's handled with a lighter touch than I expected.

Though when the movie does pack its punch, it does it with finesse.

See this movie. It's nice to be wooed again by a 6"4' geek with a bullet-deflecting chest and a heart of gold, and movie-goers who have seen the original Superman movies will thrill to the sound of the unforgettable John Williams score. Though individual performances were not overly strong the ensemble worked. (Parker Posey and James Marsden's performances were more memorable than Kevin Spacey's. He played Kevin Spacey. With a bald head.) The special effects were outstanding; see it in IMAX but skip the 3-D, which is a distraction and confusing.

And gasp with delight'll know when.

UPDATE: Roger Ebert calls it glum (big spoiler alert) and Peter Travers, while preferring "the schizoid, sexually hung-up manic depressive who gets off by climbing into bat drag with built-in muscles to take revenge on evildoers for the murder of his parents" likes it.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

"Let loose the old, unexpurgated liturgy..."

If I were a Lutheran, I would have found my voice in the person of Anthony Sacramone.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

And I'm proud to be an American

Mr. Pitt is not one of the first 15 (that's just FIFTEEN) people who comes to mind when I think of the title of this list.

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Here We Have Idaho

This just in from the Idaho Nonprofit Development Center: Idaho ranked 2nd in the nation for hours volunteered. It feels good to be an Idahoan today.

"Idaho ranks 2nd in the nation for annual median number of volunteer hours donated in a year and 14th in number of people volunteering in the state, according to "Volunteering in America: State Trends and Rankings," a study by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Some highlights: More than 65 million people volunteered in the U.S. during 2005, increasing by 5.6 million people since 2002. The figure represents almost 29% of the U.S. population and the economic equivalent is almost $150 billion dollars in services each year.

Volunteering rate: the national rate is 28.8%. Idaho's rate is 35.5% (14th), Utah came in first at 48.0%, Nevada came in last at 18.8%.

Volunteer intensity: the national median number of volunteer hours worked is 51hours per year. Idaho's is 64 hours (2nd), Utah came in first with 96 hours, North Dakota came in last with 36 hours.

Women volunteer at a higher rate than men and married persons at a higher rate than non-married persons, in every state. The 35-44 years old age group is the most likely age to volunteer (34.5% of the population)."

Click here for the full report, if you're into this kind of thing.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

There are Worse Things than Holding It

Like being caught in a women's bathroom.

Women will use the men's room if the women's is occupied, but never the other way around.


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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

girlfriday: woman to woman

Your husband is capable of handling a very minor situation. Yes, he is.

Supress the urge to manage him.

And think twice before "going over someone's head" to resolve a situation. This is a small office.

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Just say no to "expanding the church's vocabulary of praise and wonder..."

...if you're a member of the Presbyterian Church, USA.

The divine Trinity — "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" — could also be known as "Mother, Child and Womb" or "Rock, Redeemer, Friend" at some Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) services under an action Monday by the church's national assembly.

This does not alter the church's theological position, said one spokesman.

Yeah. Right.

UPDATE: Estimable refers me to this link on Powerline. It is a small wonder Machen founded the OPC. Think how much worse it's gotten over the years. (But God's Word doesn't change. And His gospel will not be silenced. Amen.)

Another Update: "Membership in the denomination, which has fallen by half over the past four decades to 2.3 million congregants, fell another 2 percent in 2005, the worst single decline in thirty years." I'm not sure this man's $150 million gift will help.

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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Is The Crucible still relevant as a cautionary tale?

For those who do not know what I do in my regular existence, I am a professional actor, a writer and dramaturg. I also do windows and laundry, when necessary. Most recently, I finished a short run as John Proctor in Arthur Miller's The Crucible, and I think it worth noting that Miller's show is, in its own way, a small slice of genius. If you have never read it, I highly recommend you do so; if you have never seen it played, run, don't walk, to the theatre. It is that powerful, and for theatre, that important.

The Crucible, essentially, is an exploration of the nature of hysteria. If the general public begins to bleat like sheep and start searching for reasons to explain their lot in life or their fears, there are those who will be all too ready to take advantage of the situation. The Salem Witch Trials were as much about evening scores and acquiring land as they were about searching out any putative witches and doing away with them. As is true in most human endeavors, it is always useful to follow the money or discover who stands to gain when this or that happens. And is someone does show profit or gain, you can be fairly certain that it was intentional. For myself, reading the play brought to mind immediately the McMartin PreSchool cases in the early 1990s. For those going "er, what?," please check here.

The echoes with Salem and the way in which the law and the courts were manipulated is uncannily similar. At any rate, however much the Witch Trials had to do with religion on the surface, they had almost nothing to do with God, the Bible, or much of anything else pertaining to much the same way that the Inquisition had more to do with power than saving the souls of its victims.

The lesson of The Crucible is simple, but interestingly powerful: we must be on our guard. Hysteria and the lust for power it provokes are historical in nature, yes, but they are also as immediate as yesterday's headlines or today's arrest blotter. People seek scapegoats, and, if necessary, those in power will supply them.

Unless we stop them. Immediately. Without qualm, pause or wasted motion. We have far more to fear from hysteria than we do from anything that might serve to cause it.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Holly Bibble?

Your preferred translation.

And why.

Please weigh in in the comments.

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I Like a Well Dressed Man as Much as the Next Girl

But no self respecting man who is not a prince in Wales would be caught dead or alive in this shirt.

Or any of these shirts.

Could Polo be more pretentious?

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

There is a snarky, but interesting comment in response to Ibid's post about our collective lack of inspiration. He (it must be a he) suggests there are other rocks to be upturned; other paths to follow. Angst alone cannot be blamed for "lack of interesting things" happening to us. Not losing someone to a tractor accident is cause for rejoicing.

We get his point.

If I want to fly to Scotland to visit friends, I get the time off and away I go. If I lack an education, I work harder than my peers, take out a loan and four years later, step in time to Pomp and Circumstance. If I break an ankle, a doctor will cast it, regardless of my ability to pay. If I crave a lover, eharmony will produce one.

It doesn't suck to be us. And yet, it does.

Somehow, I think she gets it.

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Sorry, Can't Talk.

Must get to Boston.

The Bhoys are setting up training camps in America in a bid to snap up the best young talent from North America (Daily Mirror). Given the popularity of the Bhoys across the pond it shouldn’t be hard to fill spaces at the camp, though the one in Boston may discover a lot of very tall hopefuls turning up.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Our generation rarely tells compelling stories because we have nothing to tell.

That far-off voice telling of "better days" has arrived. And look how dissatisfied we are by it.

"All America lies at the end of the wilderness road," wrote Wrote T.K. Whipple, quoted in the introduction to Lonesome Dove, "and our past is not a dead past, but lives in us. Our forefathers had civilization inside themselves, the wild outside. We live in the civilization they created, but within us the wilderness still lingers. What they dreamed, we live, and what they lived, we dream."

The estimable author of Amilia Rait Ibid lays bare the truth. And offers the dual-cure.

UPDATE: Julie Neidlinger dissents. It's hard to argue with that Midwestern common sense.

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Sell Your Crazy Someplace Else.
We're all stocked up here.

Welcome to girlfriday.

In our office, you won't find:

  • What "a pinch to grow an inch" means. I don't know what it means and neither did my sister. We don't know when or where it originated, or why. But pinching is wrong.
  • Any lyrics, background or downloads for HONKY TONK BA-DONKA-DONK. One visitor left one comment with that blasted title, and here you are, calling on us to provide you with answers. We don't like the song. We don't listen to it. If you must know the lyrics, go here.
  • Any valuable tips for soliciting, retaining or dumping a sex buddy. We refer to sex buddies strictly with disdain. If you're looking for a sex buddy, stop. Go the bathroom, splash cold water on your face, and consider your reflection in the mirror. Don't return to the computer until you have overcome the urge to take a jackhammer to your soul.
I'm sorry; you have the wrong number.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

"The only proper thing to do is to avert your eyes from this public display, with love and pity for the victims, including those on camera."

Their claim is to glibness and superficiality, but they are not always so.

Read this excellent piece and judge for yourself.

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girlfriday: thank now or forever hold your peace

We all have one thing in common: We forget to say thank you.

The omission is more egregious when it is committed against friends and family, but it is more dangerous when it is committed professionally.

If a company does you a professional favor, it is unwise to forget to say thanks. If, for example, they offer their time and resources to market your nonprofit, doesn't it seem like the best policy to write them a thank-you note? If time is money, then their time is tantamount to receiving a monetary gift. Would you neglect a donor?

What will incent that company to continue giving away its services?
What will compel a donor to keep giving?
Why would a volunteer continue donating her time if no one ever acknowledges it?

In our hearts we know that we should be willing to give with our left hand without our right hand noticing.

Companies cannot be so generous. Professional courtesy demands an expression of gratitude.

Email is trite, but it is better than nothing. A handwritten note is so unheard of it's not likely to be forgotten. A phone call is the most meaningful.

And never, under any circumstances, simply ignore an offer of help from a company.

Not that I would know.

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Thursday, June 08, 2006


There is a video game based on the Left Behind series. According to this entry at Putting Out the Fire quoting an article in the Kansas City Star,

"In the game, Tribulation squads unleash the usual arsenal against the Antichrist: guns, tanks, helicopters. But soldiers lose some of their spirituality every time they kill an opponent and must be bolstered through prayer. The failure to nurture good guys causes their spirit points to drop, leaving them vulnerable to recruitment by the other side. The player’s choices prompt intervention by angelic forces or unleash demons who feast on the faithful. As players progress through the increasingly difficult levels, they see Scripture passages presented as secret scrolls and hear inspirational music."

I'm trying to think up a witty response but I can't.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Long Day is Over

Today is June 6, 2006 and we have survived it.

What utter nonsense. Not everyone is full of it though.

Oddly, if you clicked on my profile today, the number of profile views was 777.

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Monday, June 05, 2006

Contributors Wanted

Everyone has a diversion. One of mine is fashion.

It is a guilt-free pastime. No calories, no cancer-forming tendencies, no sin.

My interest in it grew slowly, starting in childhood but entirely skipping my high school years, which were a tribute to red sweats and t-shirts. It reappeared in my early twenties and has steadily grown.

I aimed to feed the passion by creating Eye Candy, which is both a blog and a fashion group. We've only met once, but it was fun. We trade clothes, advice and fashion magazines while indulging in expensive wine and cheese.

Interested? I haven't been able to maintain that blog, but I'd like to.

Consider this a casting call. Except everyone is admitted.

If you are...

--interested in fashion
--willing to share your ideas, express your opinion on fashion trends and share your shopping secrets
--able to find time to blog are in! If you're really not interested in fashion, believe me, Eye Candy is not for you.

Let me know if you'd like to be a contributing writer to Eye Candy and I'll add you immediately. As a contributor, you'll also have a say about the look and feel of the site, as well as the links we provide.

Email me or ask questions below.

UPDATE: You do not have to live in the area or attend the meetings. We're only looking for fashion writers.

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"Either sin is with you, lying on your shoulders, or it is lying on Christ, the Lamb of God. Now if it is lying on your back, you are lost; but if it is resting on Christ, you are free, and you will be saved. Now choose what you want."

--Martin Luther

H/T this old dude.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

"I guess that you are Sheila Brovlovski from South Park! Am I right?"

This odd little website tries to guess which sitcom character OR dictator you are using a series of (apparently user-generated) questions.

It couldn't guess Alex P. Keaton, but it guessed Mao.

I'm not going to lie to you. It's fun.

The problem is, you actually need to be able to answer the questions. Does anyone know where the Keatons lived?

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