Sunday, April 23, 2006

Choice Tables

Ok, it'll be 2 years in October since we last went to Europe. It's time to start contacting the rest of our Bohemian Jet Set buddies and talk about heading back to Nice.

Here's a cool little primer of Riviera Restaurants for Us Regular Folk

IT'S hard not to think of the Côte d'Azur as synonymous with wealth and glamour. All you need to do is mention Monaco or St.-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and most of us feel out of our league.

It's no surprise, then, that along the Riviera, starred and pricey Michelin restaurants are all over the place. They're also predictable: the ones that get the most attention are those that adhere to national standards, even if among their features are price gouging and ill-tempered service.

Often lost in the shuffle are the local mom-and-pop joints where the food is indigenous, far cheaper, and frequently more intriguing. For less than the cost of parking at some places on Cap Ferrat, you can eat an unforgettable lunch or dinner at a place that reminds you that you're in coastal Provence and not closeted away in some temple of gastronomy.

From Villefranche-sur-Mer to Menton on the Italian border, much of the cuisine has remained unchanged for centuries. It's based on olive oil, lemons, vegetables(especially artichokes, zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes), beans, local fish and inexpensive meats. If you see thick steaks, dairy or fancy desserts (Menton's magnificent tarte au citron is the exception), you're not eating local.

For a good sampler of budget Mediterranean, start in Villefranche-sur-Mer, just east of Nice. The ancient port whose wharves are dotted with restaurants, is especially pleasant on those days when the cruise ships are not in, and makes for a wonderful stop on a driving tour.

My favorite spot there is Calypso, which features rustic seafood dishes, a rooftop bar (open summer evenings only; it's way too hot up there on sunny days, and too cool — by local standards — at other times), and a great waterside location, next to a chapel decorated by Jean Cocteau.

The food, which ranges from pizza to things more interesting, is nicely done: the seafood salad and the pasta with seafood both star octopus, a locally revered fish. Mediterranean prawns with garlic and parsley, or the risotto with prawns, couldn't be more straightforward, but have a clean, fresh flavor. The swordfish with green sauce is worth trying and the loup de mer (which translates as wolf fish but is in fact a kind of sea bass) is perfectly grilled.

It's impossible to drive the Riviera without at least a peek up into the hills, and once you're up there, it's almost certain you'll stop at Eze, the walled village perched above the sea. The terrace at Nid d'Aigle (The Eagle's Nest) is a good option, especially if you're interested in eating honest food in the heart of the old town, just below the lovely exotic garden, in the shade of a hundreds-year-old mulberry tree. Doesn't sound too bad, does it?

Food-wise and cost-wise, however, the better choice is the Bistrot Loumiri, right at the entrance to town. There's a pleasant enough interior and a small terrace (viewless, it should be noted, but if you're going to walk through town anyway, that doesn't matter so much), and the inexpensive and very good prix fixe menus are attractive. Start with petits farcis (stuffed vegetables) or roast peppers or the octopus salad and continue with any of the appealing second courses: grilled lamb, tagliatelle daube (a rich meat sauce), osso bucco, squid in its ink, or sardines escabeche.

I try to skip Monaco — to most visitors a seaside shopping mall with a casino — but the sliver of French coast on the other side is a magnificent stretch. Menton is among the most beautiful towns on the coast: sunny and lemon-filled, with striking views of sea and mountains. If the food on the Riviera in general is Italian in feel, in Menton it is even more so (you can walk to Italy from the east side of town).

At the moorings on the Quai Gordon Bennett is Restaurant au Pistou, and it's a good place, equivalent to Calypso in Villefranche. Just a couple of blocks away, though, is the slightly anomalous Carnival, where you can sit in the attractive interior or on the tidy enclosed patio. This is a notch more expensive than most of the other places mentioned here (someone has to pay for the waiter's tux!), but on two separate visits, the food was not only competent but intriguing (and I should note that there is a daily menu for 16 euros). For example, artichoke ravioli with squid were delicious, as was a simply grilled loup de mer with fennel — a classic combination, as fennel grows wild in the area — and local red shrimp with small vegetables.

Once in Menton, it would be a shame not to pay a visit to the pastry shop La Cigale (back in the town center, near the casino) for a slice of tarte au citron (2.80 euros), a local specialty that is best when made with local lemons, as this version is. The pâte de citron, made using fruit from the owner's garden, is also just about incomparable.

Roquebrune, which is just down the road to the west, is not quite as impressive as Menton, but it does have a quiet stretch of beach and some lovely walking routes, especially on the little peninsula called Roquebrune Cap-Martin. There, just off the beach where the land begins to jut out, you'll find the oddly named Piccadilly, a quirky place that would appear to be designed for visiting Britons (the menu design is based on the London tube map) but caters almost exclusively to locals.

The daily prix fixe menu is bistrolike: The mussels are super, cooked with onions and herbs and served with credible frites, and the daily meat dishes seem equally so; on my last visit I was served slices of roast veal, with potatoes campagne (which just means cooked in a pan) and delicious zucchini with Parmesan. The service is also shockingly friendly, another reminder you're not in a one-star Michelin.


To call these restaurants from America, dial 33-4 first; in France, dial 04. Unless specified, prices are for three courses, with tax and tip, but not wine.

Calypso, 2 Quai Amiral Courbet, Villefranche-sur-Mer; 93-01-96-73 ; 40 euros.

Bistrot Loumiri, Avenue du Jardin Exotique, Eze; 93-41-16-42; the prix fixe menus are 16 and 24 euros.

Carnival, 29, quai de Monléon, Menton; 93-35-99-95; 25 euros.

Le Picadilly, 16, avenue François de Monléon, Roquebrune; 93-35-87-16; the daily prix fixe menu is 18.50 euros, with a quarter-liter of wine.

Thanks to Mark Bittman at The New York Times Company

Tiki Bongo: Guitarnage

Removed because I realized it pretty much sucked...

My Bad.

Sorry if you wasted any time.


Friday, April 21, 2006

Bullet Points Can Kill

The dangerous illusion of agreement that occurs when people agree over bullet points instead of sketches, specific directions and solid ideas.

That's Right,


Thanks to Ryan at 37 Signals.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Philippine Comics Art Museum

This awesome image is by Philippine artist Jesse Santos. Click it to check out the detail.

Not sure which I dig more - his art or his hair.

Lots more killer eye candy over at the The Philippine Comics Art Museum.

That's Right,


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Not Recommended If You Blush Easily

This Cool Movie Art gallery ain't recommended for kids either...

Click image for detail.

Enjoy and pass it along!

That's Right,


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Guaranteed Porcelain Skin

In the past, only celebrities had their own ceramic dolls. Now, you can have your own customize ceramic doll and enjoy the privilege that celebrities have. Create your own ceramic doll today and welcome to the world of ceramic.

Click Here.



Sunday, April 16, 2006

For The Love Of Christ

Talk about High Sticking...

I know, I know, I might be skating on thin ice for posting this but c'mon y'all, after all, God did invent the sense of humor, right?

Please forgive me and check out J2K6.

Hey, what do Hockey and J.C. have in common? They both came back from the dead...

(Insert your own bad JC joke in the comments section)

That's Right,


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Happy Easter!

Ahem, Anthem?

I found this and I'm just not sure if it's a good or a bad thing. To me, I guess it all boils down to concept, execution and appropriatness... I'm thinking it might just be a joke...

Here's the deal as they describe it:

An eNthem, is a revolutionary new project, that's hoping it will change the business world forever!

A more narrow definition on an eNthem, would be - a Company Anthem, an Official Company Song.

It's not a secret, that each and every nation, has their own anthem! A national anthem, is a special song, that is the heart and sole of each and every nation. A song, that reflects nation's identity and everything the nation believes in, it's self, unity, devotion and loyalty, as well as expresses all the great values of the nation.

Well, just like each and every nation has an official national anthem, we believe, so should each and every company have an official eNthem!

Decide for yourself at the eNthem site...

Not sure if That's Right...


Not That Teddy!

Not Kennedy, but Roosevelt!

Some interesting ideas on Immigrants and being an
American via Theodore Roosevelt in 1907.

"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin.

But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an
American, and nothing but an American...There can be
no divided allegiance here.

Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all.

We have room for but one flag, the American flag. We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language, and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

Theodore Roosevelt 1907

Five Quick Questions

5 Quick Questions Answered by Kevin Farnham, CEO, Method

Kevin Farnham heads Method, a San Francisco-based design company that helps marketers cultivate interface-design innovation, a critical part of brand building. An interface is any time the consumer is experiencing the brand-specifically, screen-based interactions via smart phones, mobile phones, hand-held devices, TV set-top boxes and DVRs.

Define interface-design innovation.

What we're really looking at are the new ways in which companies can speak to consumers. What we're seeing is an incredible opportunity at the interface level. What comes along with that is the ability to tell stories, be emotive, be transparent.

Why should CMOs care about this?

It's an opportunity to upsell and cross-sell, an opportunity to provide great experiences for customers. There are financial implications and brand implications.

In what way is it a component of brand-building?

Like any other touch point, these interfaces are an opportunity for someone to have a brand impression. If you look at this in comparison to a brochure, these touch points have so much more potential to be more entertaining, visual, engaging.

Should all marketers create new interfaces to use to reach consumers?

They need to utilize design thinking even if they're not using outside consultancies. Bring the engineers, bring the marketers, bring the CEO, think about scenarios for your customers, think about who they are and what they need.

Do all interfaces lend themselves to good design? Cellphones? ATMs? Web sites?

Good design can be implemented in a lot of different ways. If you're FedEx, you want things that are incredibly catered to your workflow. There are other interfaces where the point is you want to let customers get the information they want ASAP.

Thanks to Ad Age

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Not Baaaaahd.

Who needs popup ads and banner ads all over the place when you can just slap a jacket on a sheep and call it good? These hotel-supporting sheep showed up in the Netherlands.

That's Right,

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Cheap TV Ads That Look Pricey

Local TV advertising has a bad rap. "I had visions of cheap, awful, late-night cable access commercials with really bad production values,'' says Brad Kriser, owner of The Barking Lot, a 15-employee dog-care facility in Chicago with $2.3 million in annual sales.

It doesn't have to be that way. Spot Runner, a Los Angeles startup, is offering entrepreneurs ready-made ads they can customize, then air locally. For two weeks in November, Kriser gave it a try, running 30-second ads 144 times on networks including ABC Family, Lifetime, and Animal Planet, all in his local market.
While his ad didn't look cheap, it came cheap, considering the results. In the three weeks during and immediately after his campaign, calls to The Barking Lot were up 20% to 30%. Kriser received a discount for participating in Spot Runner's pilot program, but without it, the ads would have cost him $1,700.
While the advent of local cable operators has made airtime more reasonably priced, the legwork involved in placing ads has been enough to deter many business owners. That's on top of the steep production costs, often tens of thousands of dollars, required to produce high-quality ads.

Spot Runner is so cheap in part because it has moved that process online. The company maintains an online library of thousands of industry-specific 30-second spots that can be customized with a client's own narration, contact information, and logo for $350 to $500. Prices include limited-time exclusivity to keep competitors from running the same commercial in the same market. Extended exclusivity periods are available for a fee.

The next steps are to choose a budget, decide how long you want the ad to run, and select one of three objectives: awareness, limited-time promotion, or call to action. Spot Runner then generates an ad schedule based on built-in demographic assumptions about your industry. You can tweak it by adding or removing channels, changing the number of times an ad runs on a particular channel, or altering the time of day an ad runs. The whole process takes about 10 days.

Not all broadcast markets are equally accessible. Local cable service providers determine the availability of networks and time slots. There tend to be plenty of options for big cities, but smaller markets such as Eugene, Ore., and Madison, Wis., offer only a handful of local channels.

Of course, rates and time windows vary widely between markets. An ad running during CNN's Headline News in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens costs from $188 to $282. The same ad runs on CNN Headline News in North Dallas for $8 to $9 a pop. A small price to pay, says Kriser, to look like one of the big dogs.

Thanks to Small Biz Week

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Office Life

As the recent success of NBC's "The Office" shows, the trials and tribulations of office life have become more popular than ever. But what is it about today's work environment that provides such fodder for comedy?

We spoke with Michael Malice and S. Morgan Friedman, creators of Overhear At The Office, about the travails of working in an office these days, and why humor makes an effective coping mechanism for everyday job stress.

Q: How does your site work?

Michael Malice: It's not very complicated. People hear things in offices, in their cubicles, all the time, and they send them in to us, and we put it up. And everyone can share their pain.

Q: So what's the purpose?

S. Morgan Friedman: The purpose is to share the experience of what it is like to work in an office environment, with a particular focus on the dynamics between the different people. How bosses talk to everyone, and how ridiculous they sound from the outside.

Malice: I think it also gives you the sense of people having to bite their tongue while surrounded by idiocy.

Q: Is that what lends humor to office life?

Malice: The major subtext is an extreme level of irony. The person in the front of the room often does not have the right or the ability to be at the front of the room. The other level of irony is that they think they do deserve it. It is several steps removed from reality, where this person should be a janitor, but because they have a fancy office and are dressed a certain way, somehow they think their head isn't up their ass. I think that's what strikes a chord with people.

Friedman: It's not just the bosses. A lot of the humor comes from the way everyone in the office deals with it. For example, a VP says to an IT guy, "Have you installed Google on my computer yet?" And the IT guy responds, "Just yesterday." The humor from that comes not just from the boss not knowing that Google doesn't need to be installed, but the IT guy who doesn't want to deal with the problem.

Malice: What's funny is that it is a very universal story. Every IT guy on Earth has a story of dealing with a higher-up who asks a stupid question, and they just smile and give an answer just to shut them up. This is happening right now, somewhere -- I guarantee it.

Q: So sharing such office humor is a good coping mechanism?

Malice: Overheard in the Office updates 9 to 5, hourly, because I remember what it's like being a temp and staring at the clock and doing the math -- I got two hours and 20 minutes left. It's our way to help pass the monotony. Because, in many ways, an office job is like a prison sentence: the boredom, the lack of freedom, the complete sense of helplessness, the rape. Well, not so much the rape, but the rest.

Q: Is office life still a problem? Are people not finding the balance they want?

Malice: It works both ways. I think a lot of people are stupid and have no ideas of their own. So a job where they are put in a box and told what to do is something that many people need.

Q: What makes for the funniest material?

Malice: Anything that is popular on the site, that resonates, is going to work on several levels. On the simplest level, it's funny. The second level is the sociological level, that it gives you and encapsulates the experience of being in the universal office. And the third level is the subversive level, where it is undermining this whole hierarchical authority structure. This is all philosophical fancy -- it's just a fun site. I don't think either of us would be comfortable saying why person X finds the site interesting. We're just glad that so many people do.

Q: Why does office humor remain popular?

Friedman: It is something everyone can relate to. And when you are in the middle of a crazy situation, you sense that it is crazy. But when your boss is yelling at you, you don't have much of a choice and you think, "Am I the crazy one?" It's knowing that it's not just me, that every office in the entire world has these same dynamics. It makes it more bearable for everyone.

Malice: A lot of people bash high school and say, "You're not in high school anymore." But in school there is pressure to conform and to not be a freak. But once you are the boss, you kind of let it all hang out. That sense of shame is gone and you can say things that no one with any decency should be saying. And with a complete lack of awareness. Or with awareness. Either way, it is F-ed up.

Q: Do you have a favorite office joke or anecdote to share?

Friedman: That Google one is my personal favorite.

Malice: We had one that just ran. Two suits are at the bathroom, at the urinals. The first one goes, "I'm going home for the day, take care. You have a good one." And the second one goes, "Thanks, I didn't know you were looking."

Thanks to Kevin Ohannessian

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

My Thang TV

You may have heard about YouTube and the viral video craze that’s become one of the hottest Internet trends since the birth of social networking sites. Two major viral video portals you may not know of yet are Channel 101 and Channel 102. Think of these sites as the localized, viral video equivalents to American Idol. Here’s how it works: anyone can submit a TV show pilot (up to five minutes long). Every month the shows are screened for live audiences in Los Angeles (Channel 101) and New York (Channel 102), and viewers can vote on which shows to renew and which shows to cancel. The top five shows then become the “prime time” lineup, while the losing shows are cancelled forever. At the next month’s viewing, the prime time shows test new episodes against a new selection of pilots, and so on.

Currently, the biggest success story is a series called Yacht Rock, that’s become an underground hit with over 300,000 downloads. Created by four clever Michigan natives, the satirical comedy pays homage to a different smooth sounding late ‘70s/early‘80s track (think Hall and Oates, Doobie Brothers, Kenny Loggins, etc.) each episode. The show has become so popular that the term “yacht rock” has entered the music lexicon, with a mention in a New York Times review of the new Steely Dan album and a Wikepedia entry. There are rumors that the Yacht Rock creators have been asked to do work for big brands, and that they have some even bigger plans brewing for the future.

With people increasingly looking for creative control in the content they consume, these sites are setting a stage for a trend that real TV should sit up and pay close attention to because what audiences really want to see may already be out there.

Go to Channel 101

Stay tuned for It's My Thang!

That's Right,