Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Office space

I always like visiting other editing houses and production companies. The most recent issue of Creative Review talks about how ad agencies and design shops are cutting edge places for architects, because they're always willing to try new floor plans.

I'm writing this from a pretty cool space in Vienna, where Wiener Klappe Film Produktion makes their home.

Man, I love exposed brick, high ceilings, and Macs with really big screens.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mobile PowerPoint Disaster

I was in Paris recently and found myself behind this van at a stoplight.

Mess that it was, I can't say which line, image, or bullet point was the first thing to catch my eye. But couldn't help noticing the man-holding-the-lightbulb clip art (sorry about the camera phone resolution).

How do I know it was clip art? I had seen it before in Jon Steel's book Perfect Pitch, where he rails on awful presentations created with awful PowerPoint clip art. Here is a scanned page from Jon's book that uses the exact same clip art to make his point.

Maybe S.E.R. √Člectricit√© could use a copy of Jon's book. Assuming his arguments apply to van art as well.

(I also recommend Jon's other book, as well has his brilliant performance as Hurley.)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Worst. Soda. Ever.

Found this in France. It was in the soft drink aisle, but judging from the taste, it should have been right next to the children's cough syrup.

We didn't actually drink as much it appears. After a few sips, we decided to use it for scrubbing the toilets.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving?

I'm going on production next week, so I just changed my voicemail to alert callers that I won't be in the office until Thursday, November 26.

Which I then realized is Thanksgiving Day.

Which, for an American, is a weird day to say you'll be "back in the office."

No, we don't get Thanksgiving weekend off work in Europe. But four weeks paid vacation more than makes up for it.

Geneva Rips Off the Eames

I like cities that display art in public places. Chicago does it. And so does Geneva. Right now, there's a sidewalk exhibition along the Bergues Bridge downtown.
I'm sure a lot of people think it's cool. But if you're at all familiar with "Powers of 10" by Ray and Charles Eames, you'll know it's just a blatant rip off. Which makes it less cool.

The Bergues Bridge version isn't as interesting or as comprehensive as the original, but at least you don't have to put up with the soundtrack or the voiceover that sounds exactly like a guy wearing a short-sleeved, button down shirt with horned-rimmed glasses and a pocket protector.

Unlike the Eames version, this one goes into the man's testicle. Ouch.

Sperm cells are apparently more interesting than strands of DNA.
(There's a crossover point mid-bridge where we go into the woman to see her ova before pulling slowly back to outer space.)

Despite being a rip-off, it's pretty cool to look at these panels and then look up to see you're actually there - something the original film doesn't offer. Unless, of course, you're watching it during a picnic near Lake Michigan. (I once saw Coldplay in the United Center, and they showed a clip of "Powers of 10" on the screen behind them, which comes pretty close.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hay there!

Nice to know that in a world-class city like Geneva you can still see farmers on the main drag.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

10% Euphoria

You know you live in one of the world's most expensive cities when a 10% discount is cause for a three-story billboard.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I missed Global Handwashing Day!

I saw this poster above the sink in a public restroom. Although my camera phone doesn't have the best focus, you can see it is for Global Handwashing Day, which was apparently October 15.

I missed it this year, so I guess I'll have to wait until 2010. Here are a few other special events I'm afraid to miss:
  • Global Wipe Your Bum Day
  • Worldwide Chew Your Food Day
  • Breathe Week

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ali Kebap - still going strong

No. 4 in the series

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A fundamental cultural difference

"Americans don't want to have to scrub poop off the inside of the toilet. They don't! We'll take the extra water in the bowl to avoid that."

- my wife, after scrubbing our kids' poop off the inside of the toilet

Writer Abroad

My on-line, fellow American living in Switzerland, VCU alumnus, friend that I've never met in person, Chantal has launched a new blog called Writer Abroad. (This is in addition to One Big Yodel.)

Check it out here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Gruyere Illustrated

We recently had family in town and took them to one of our favorite Swiss spots - Gruyere, about 80 minutes away from Geneva.

I picked up a couple postcards while I was there. I love old timey illustrations like this. It's what people did before the Canon Powershot.

I'm also a big fan of old tour posters. I love photography, but you just can't get a shot like this unless there's a giant ladle floating in the sky.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Branding Lessons from Vomiting in the Park

This morning, in the middle of presenting some ideas to my creative director, I got very nauseous. Five minutes later, I excused myself and went and threw up in the restroom.

Outside of vomiting, I felt fine. But I left the office to get some fresh air. Then, while I was in the park, I threw up again. Of course people throw up in parks all over the world. It's one of the things that ties the human family together. But I somehow vomiting in a park made me feel strangely European.

As it so happens, two police officers were passing on my last few heaves. As I stood up from my crouched position, this is the conversation that took place (translated literally):

POLICEMAN: Is it going?

ME: No.

POLICEMAN: Is it not going?

ME: I think I eat something bad.


ME: I vomit in the office. In the toilet in the office. Then I come walk in the park. And I vomit.

POLICEMAN: Is it going?

ME: I think so now.

POLICEMAN: (makes a drinking gesture) Coco-Cola! Drink lots of Coca-Cola!

ME: Yes. Thank you.

I've heard it said that the highest tier of brand-dom is when a brand becomes a verb, i.e., when you Google something, or FedEx a package, or Xerox a paper. But I'd have to say it's when a brand is thought to improve someone's health. Especially in spite of being sugar water.

p.s. I am feeling much better now. It is going.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Barry and the Halloween Party

A friend of a freind started Obama in Our House - a kind of Flat Stanley project with a 6-foot cut-out of the President that's traveling the world (he came to me by way of Sweden).

I decided to use him as part of my Halloween costume this year.

In Geneva, the big Halloween party for expats is our church party, which gets bigger every year. It's a little funny that a few Christian faiths eschew Halloween as a night of bats, monsters and pumpkin worship, but the Mormons embrace it as a night of pot-luck fun and free on-site baby-sitting.

A few observations on bringing a 6-foot Barack Obama cut-out to an LDS/expat party:

1. The Africans love him. No matter what country they were from, little African kids in the building would call out his name and jump up and down when I walked down the hall with him.

2. The Americans loved that their kids knew who he was. No matter what their political position, Americans are so happy that their kids aren't totally out of touch with the homeland that they recognize who's in charge. (An American friend of mine said she became concerned last Fourth of July when they pulled out the Stars and Stripes and her daughter asked, "Mom, what crazy flag is that?")