Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Flipperoo Clock

Ok, this is officially on my wish list .

Check out this sweet analog clock with flipping dates. They've hand drawn a whole bunch of numbers and little surprises on the flip things.

It comes in three colors: silver, orange, and green.

Each box is hand-numbered and the production is limited to just 200 pieces.

Get the Flipperoo Clock quick!

That's Right,


Monday, November 27, 2006


Ikea has clearly run out of names for it's products...

That's Right,


Friday, November 24, 2006

Authentic Pseudo Sushi

So wer'e going to go sushi before Emily's play tonight.

Tonight's also the night that we meet Budros' new Russian girlfriend, Elena.

I only hope she's not Putin anything radioactive in my noguri...

And this just in... On a recent business trip to Colorado, Japan's agriculture minister popped into an inviting Japanese restaurant with a hankering for a taste of back home. What Toshikatsu Matsuoka found instead was something he considered a high culinary crime -- sushi served on the same menu as Korean-style barbecued beef.

"Such a thing is unthinkable," he said. "Call it what you will, but it is not a Japanese restaurant."

A fast-growing list of gastronomic indignities -- from sham sake in Paris to shoddy sashimi in Bangkok -- has prompted Japanese authorities to launch a counterattack in defense of this nation's celebrated food culture. With restaurants around the globe describing themselves as Japanese while actually serving food that is Asian fusion, or just plain bad, the government here announced a plan this month to offer official seals of approval to overseas eateries deemed to be "pure Japanese."

Some observers here have suggested that the government's new push for food purity overseas is yet another expression of resurgent Japanese nationalism. But the mentality in Japan also echoes a similar movement by several nations -- including Italy and Thailand -- now offering guidelines and reward programs to restaurants abroad to regain a measure of control over their increasingly internationalized cuisines.

So beware, America, home of the California roll. The Sushi Police are on their way.

A trial run of sorts was launched this summer in France, where secret inspectors selected by a panel of food specialists were dispatched to 80 restaurants in Paris that claimed to serve Japanese cuisine. Some establishments invited the scrutiny, while others were targeted with surprise checks. About one-third fell short of standards -- making them ineligible to display an official seal emblazoned with cherry blossoms in their windows or to be listed on a government-sponsored Web site of Japanese restaurants in Paris.

Matsuoka, who took over Japan's top agricultural job in September, is the mastermind of the new "Japanese restaurant authentication plan." He said it does not always take a culinary sleuth to spot an impostor. "Sometimes you can tell just by looking at their signs that these places are phony," he said.

"What people need to understand is that real Japanese food is a highly developed art. It involves all the senses; it should be beautifully presented, use genuine ingredients and be made by a trained chef," he continued. "What we are seeing now are restaurants that pretend to offer Japanese cooking but are really Korean, Chinese or Filipino. We must protect our food culture."

In recent years, few culinary traditions have witnessed the kind of global boom, and distortion, of Japanese food.

In the United States alone, the number of restaurants claiming to serve Japanese food soared to 9,000 in 2005, or double the number a decade ago, according to Japanese government statistics. The government projects that the number of Japanese restaurants worldwide will leap to 48,000 by 2009, more than double the current level.

Some have gone all-out to ensure authenticity. Masa in New York City imports its fish from Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market while Umu in London regularly flies in the soft water of Kyoto, Japan's old capital, to make its bonito fish broths. But they are largely exceptions in a world where the Japanese fear their food is being lost in translation.

In the United States, the proliferation of counterfeit Japanese foods now includes seaweed rolls stuffed with smoked salmon and cream cheese. In Canada, Vera's Burger Shack in Vancouver is offering tempura-battered onion rings. As the recent test in Paris showed, even such gastronomic bastions as France can be guilty of sushi sacrilege.

"You will find restaurants here that serve salmon sushi with a little yakitori [charcoaled chicken] on the side and call themselves Japanese," said Tsuyoshi Nakai, the Paris head of JETRO, Japan's overseas trade promotion arm. "Then there are the ones serving what they claim is Japanese sake, but of course, it isn't. What is it? I don't know. But it smells, and tastes, very strange."

With the demand for real Japanese chefs far greater than the global supply in a nation with a shrinking population and few modern-day emigrants, many foreign owners of Japanese restaurants have turned to cooks from other Asian countries to add a faux touch of authenticity to their establishments. Pan-Asian restaurants have also begun adding more healthful and light Japanese dishes to their menus to cater to new tastes, some of them going as far as changing their names to the inevitable "Mt. Fuji" or "Sakura" to lure broader clienteles.

That has infuriated Japanese sushi chefs overseas, leading some -- including those who formed the D.C. Sushi Society in the 1990s -- to unite into advocacy groups aimed at protecting an elaborate form of cooking that is tradition-bound and highly hierarchical.

Officials here emphasize that it is not the race of the cooks they are concerned about, but the fact that such chefs are rarely properly trained and know little about the culture behind the food.

In Japanese haute cuisine, for example, the aesthetics of a meal -- from elegant ceramic serving bowls to suitable flower arrangements -- are considered as important as the food itself. Quality quashes quantity; a single mouthful of otoro -- fatty tuna sashimi sliced just right -- can sell for $20 in Tokyo sushi houses. Japan's famously elaborate kaiseki ryori can take days to prepare and must be presented in small courses on plates and in color combinations that delight and amuse.

Most importantly, such meals must be prepared by highly specialized chefs -- some of whom apprentice for years before they are permitted to cook for paying customers.

Makoto Fukue, the head of the Tokyo Sushi Academy who trains about 75 Japanese chefs-for-export a year, insisted that the inexperience of some foreign sushi chefs may be driving customers away from more adventurous Japanese fare.

"Many Americans do not like the taste of conger eel sushi, but that is because the chefs are not preparing it right -- and so it tastes fishy and has an odor," he said. "If you had a trained chef preparing those same foods, you would find more openness to experiment with the same foods we eat in Japan."

But some here have expressed caution about the launch of the government approval system, arguing that Japan is a country also notorious for adapting foreign foods to local tastes. Indeed, that rare talent gave birth to Japanese seafood and mayonnaise pizza.

In addition, many so-called Japanese foods have foreign influences or roots. Batter-coated and fried food known as tempura, for instance, was introduced to the Japanese by Portuguese missionaries during the 16th century.

"The question is, what can we really call 'Japanese food'?" said Masuhiro Yamamoto, the Tokyo-based food guru. "Here in Japan, we believe that tonkatsu [fried pork cutlet] is essentially Japanese, but try and tell the French that isn't porc paner."

The government has appointed an advisory board of food luminaries and intellectuals to develop a workable method for the project ahead of its full launch in April. Matsuoka said the most likely scenario would be the creation of government-sanctioned food commissions in major countries to evaluate a restaurant's "Japanese-ness" based on authentic ingredients, chef training, aesthetics and other criteria.

Such a method might also coincidentally increase Japanese food exports, given that restaurants using Japanese products are likely to score some brownie points.

"Of course using Japanese materials would be preferable," Matsuoka said. "But our real purpose is to set benchmarks for how Japanese food is made overseas. We take our food very seriously."

And starting Summer 2007, I, H. Michael Karshis, will be heading a task force throughout Europe authenticating and then distributing either my TotallyBueno stickers at TexMex restaurants any my Real-Deal Texas stickers at Bar B-Q joints - who's with me?

That's Right,


Thanks to Anthony Faiola at the Washington Post Foreign Service

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Saturday, November 18, 2006

007 Rewind

I can't wait to skip out of work next week and catch the new James Bond!

And check out M16 for absolutely everything you ever wanted to know about Ian Fleming's JB.

That's Right,


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Meaty Resources

I shot this awsome sign in New Orleans.

Last night while researching some web gaga I found a couple of nice resource links for all you desigers out there.

If your looking for some off the radar stock photo options you'll dig Blue Vertigo.

And if you have anything to do with producing effective websites, een if you're already a pro, your sure to learn something new over at Design Meltdown.

That's Right,


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Compared To What?

Swiss Life 2006 ReBrand 100 Winners > best of awards
Industry: Financial Services/Insurance - Above: Before & After Image

Whenever I hear "That's great!" or "Very nice." whether in regard to a band, glass of wine, a movie, song, grilled cheese sandwich or a logo, my initial thought is this:

Compared to what?

In order to truly appreciate the result, value or execution of almost any endeavor, effort, task or product, one must have an understanding of it's origin and all things preceeding.

Think about it.

Let's say your only experience with coffee was from Denny's or random gas stations. (Poor you!) Then, by chance, someone with an elevated palet treats you to a Starbucks at the airport before your first plane ride.

Now we've got something to talk about!

ReBrand™ is a forum for case studies and programs focused on effective rebrands and showcases a nice Before and After addressing all of the above.

(Not the best example but hey, I'm still working on my first cup this morning - HEB's Taste of San Antonio spiked with some freshly ground dark Columbian beans.)


Along with the Center for Design & Business at Rhode Island School of Design and partners, they organize ReBrand 100®, the first and only global awards to recognize the world’s most effective rebrands: the repositioning, revitalizing, or redesign of existing brand assets to meet strategic goals.

Grab your self a fresh cup of your favorite, get comfortable and check out the showcased rebrands from around the world at ReBrand™ - it'll jump start your crit skills!

That's Right,


Monday, November 13, 2006

30 Seconds, If Your Lucky

The idea that if you build it, they will come, might have worked for Kevin Costner in the movie “Field of Dreams,” but it certainly does not hold true for Web sites.

Build a bad-looking small-business site filled with poorly written text, and your potential customers will go away. Build one that is attractive, compelling and clever, but crucial design mistakes will still guarantee that few people will know that the site exists.

Your Web site is like a digital business card, designers say, the first online look at your company that a customer gets. With luck, it will not be the last.

A site must have addictive content, said Vincent Flanders, a Web design consultant in the Seattle area who is the creator of, a site that analyzes why some pages do not work. “People must be willing to crawl through a sewer for it.”

It is not just small operations that make a mishmash of their sites. Large companies can be just as prone to major design mistakes.

One global company states on its home page that “Indigenous and proven career management tools coupled with a comprehensive series of integrated initiatives have been evolved, to ensure that employees continue to sustain a high performance culture, while recruitment and selection is based on necessary competencies.”

That is “just gobbledygook,” Mr. Flanders said. “The words are not understandable by humans.”

According to Jakob Nielsen, a Web site consultant and author of the book “Prioritizing Web Usability,” it is essential that a Web page get a company’s message across quickly, because visitors are a fickle bunch. Most people do not go beyond what is in front of their faces.

Studies by Mr. Nielsen’s company, the Nielsen Norman Group, an Internet design firm in Fremont, Calif., show that only 50 percent of Web visitors scroll down the screen to see what lies below the visible part on their PC monitor.

“Users spend 30 seconds reviewing a home page,” Mr. Nielsen said. “A business must encapsulate what they do in very few words.”

With findings like those, it is no wonder that Web pages must visually hit a visitor right between the eyes. If a site does not answer a user’s questions about a business, then you have scored one for the competition. For example, the first thing customers visiting any restaurant’s Web site want to know is when it is open. But often that information can be found only by digging through multiple pages. As a result, “the site fails,” Mr. Nielsen said.

“It’s all about the basics,” said Baris Cetinok, Microsoft’s director of product management for Office Live, a site that offers free Web hosting and design tools for small businesses.

Visitors must immediately find out “who you are, what you do and how people can reach you,” Mr. Cetinok said.

Besides good grammar, Mr. Nielsen suggests that companies list a physical address, include a photograph of the building and not ask potential clients to fill out a form simply to ask a question. “That immediately communicates danger,” he said.

Making a site look good is complicated by the fact that no two monitors will necessarily present the Web in the same way. Users can set their browser’s default font size to be bigger or smaller, so it is impossible to know exactly how text will appear to any one person.

And how much of a Web site’s home page can actually be seen by users varies, based on the screen’s resolution.

The problems are made worse by designers being in Los Angeles or New York, and not, say, Texas, so “they think everyone has a large monitor and a fast D.S.L. connection,” said Neil Hettinger, co-owner of Lead Pencil Ad Design, a marketing and design company in Manhattan Beach, Calif. He suggests mixing text and graphics on a Web site, with dark type set against a light background for easy reading.

If you are selling a product, use thumbnail photos that can be enlarged when clicked on, Mr. Nielsen said, not a graphic that can be rotated in every direction. Otherwise “you see products at weird angles.”

“The most important rule in Web page design is to eliminate unnecessary design,” Mr. Flanders said. He recommends not adding large, spinning graphics that take a long time to download.

He also advises business owners not to add introductory splash pages that force a viewer to watch a video or animation.

“Splash pages are only needed for pornography, gambling and multinational Web sites that need to direct users to a particular country’s page,” Mr. Flanders said.

Graphics also do nothing to help a site get discovered by search engines like Google or Yahoo. Those sites troll the Internet for key words, as well as the frequency and quality of one site that links to another.

Text embedded in a graphic, like the name of a shop in a photograph, cannot be seen by search engines. And the old practice of embedding key words in white-on-white type will not increase a site’s page ranking; in fact it will do the opposite.

“The first time a word is used on a site, it’s significant,” said Matt Cutts, a Google software engineer. “If that word is used 50 times, there is a diminishing return.”

“If you put hidden tags on your page, you’re a total moron,” Mr. Flanders said. “You will get caught by search engines, or others will turn you in.”

If your business is local, make sure that the entire geographic area you serve is mentioned in text on the site. To increase the number of sites that link to yours, list your business in online trade directories, and mention it on various blogs.

Google offers free Web master tools that automatically analyze a site to determine if it is being optimized by search engines.

In the end, getting a prominent placement in a search engine is the only way to ensure that your site will be seen by those who can increase your business.

“If your site is not listed on the first page of search results, you might as well not exist,” Mr. Nielsen said.

Thanks to Eric A. Taub at The New York Times

Sunday, November 12, 2006

WWF Poster

Save endangered animals before they disappear in front of your eyes.
Nice stuff from CC&E, Guangzhou, China

That's Right,


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Fleet Street Scandal

Afternoon Tea On Threadneedle Street By Chris Turnham

Check out the awesome collected works of illustrators Kevin Dart & Chris Turnham.

That's Right,


Friday, November 10, 2006

Give It Up

The Red Cross of Australia ain't asking for your money, they need blood.

Nice stuff from M&C Saatchi.

That's Right,


Thursday, November 09, 2006

National Library of Medicine

The NIH has an incredible collection of scanned anatomical books.

The illustrations are truly amazing.

Check out the National Library of Medicine's Collection.

That's Right,


Make Your Own Vodka!

Now it's easier than ever to make your own Vodka!

Ya Here!

That's Right,


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Art Of Complex Problem Solving

I'm sure that most everyone probably agrees with the idea that ideas live or die by how well they're communicated.

What really needs to be addressed, in most situations involving more than 5 people, is the fine art of follow through and the respect of other peoples time, enabling everyone involved to do their best.

Information is useless when it sits on somebody's desk until the 11th hour or later. And at the end of the day, nobody remembers how many rabbits were pulled out of the hat, just that the deliverables were less than stellar.

No wonder there's a virtual revolving door at most shops and the annual employee Christmas party attendees are never the same from year to year.

It's amazing what can be accomplished when people have mutual respect and trust for each other and information is shared in a timely manner. If you've ever been in a situation without the above respect, you're probably familiar with lines like "It's like this everywhere" and "Get used to it, that's just the way it is." Well, it's not.

It may be the law of the land in the egocentric bottom-line driven big agency environment, but as you've probably experienced with true friends and colleagues, there are places where the common goal is bona fide trust and respect. It just takes a while to find your place, but it does exist.

Bottom-line, as my friend Tom Rehkopf (one of my true-blue-go-to-guys since 1978) says, "If you like what you're gettin' - keep doin' what you're doin'. If you want something different, do something different."

Thanks Tom.

Meanwhile, check out these nice infographics at The Art Of Complex Problem Solving.

That's Right,


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Invisible Hand

If you're interested in the ideas behind business and strategic thinking, I think you might dig Chris Gondek's podcast, The Invisible Hand.

Each week, Chris brings you the authors and books that have formed our modern ideas of management and strategy.

At times this can be a bit dry, as some of the guest authors are somewhat long winded, but over all, these are guaranteed to get your brain jumstarted and they go great with a few cups of morning coffee.

Get smart and enjoy!

That's Right,


I May Have Voted

Cartoon by Chan Lowe, The South Florida Sun Sentine

And remember - if you don't vote - don't bitch.

That's Right,


Friday, November 03, 2006

Wrigley Extra

The trick now is training the Starbucks baristas to take the time to line up the image with the lid... Otherwise, this is a pretty cool and fun idea.

That's Right,