Monday, December 14, 2009

Taking a Break

So, Platinum Elite is going on hiatus.

It's been a fun few years of writing about randomness, but it's time to take a break. Perhaps I'll kick off some new posts in 2010, or maybe even start up a new site.

My initial goal with Platinum Elite was to write about my crazy business travel stories. As my life became more sedentary, my writing shifted more into the general interest area. While there's nothing inherently wrong about that, I always straddled the line between sharing just enough to be interesting, but not too much to be too personal.

I never designed Platinum Elite to be read by anyone, to be perfectly honest.

But then people started reading.

I saw the traffic and watched the analytics. I was flattered, floored, surprised, and then a bit unnerved. Platinum Elite was cited in mainstream news sources, received a bunch of links, and led to some interesting opportunities for me. I stumbled into a manner of presenting my creativity, and grew to love the attention.

Recently, however, I started further questioning purpose and audience, and have decided that a pause is a terrific idea.

Thanks for reading. Maybe I'll be back!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Purchasing Toilet Paper Online

There's something faintly ridiculous with ordering deodorant and trash bags online and having them shipped to my home. It feels a bit lazy and excessive. But, it's not.

I came across a website last week called Alice, a quirky online retailer that sells every day household items. Their thinking is that certain items (detergent, paper towels, toothpaste) do not require much thinking during the consideration process, since consumers are pretty brand loyal with many of the products that they use.

Alice offers free shipping on all items, which is a major benefit. While shipments require at least six items, they will send them to your front door at no cost.

I signed up with Alice and placed an order about 5 days before the items actually arrived at my house. Sure, this requires a bit of planning, but it's not much of an issue. Alice also lets customers set reminders for when they will need to repurchase, say, shaving cream (I set all of mine to "no reminder," as I'm pretty confident that I'll be aware of when I am running low).

I compared prices on the items I purchased at Alice with those on Peapod (the local delivery service for Stop & Shop). I located 5 of the 7 items on both sites, and Alice actually cost 9 cents less for the common basket of goods. Factoring in the Peapod delivery charge ($6-$7, plus a minimum purchase, I believe), Alice is definitely a good deal in this comparison.

Of course, I could always still buy these items at the grocery store during my weekly trips. But then again, perhaps I could reserve my in-person shopping trips for fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, and dairy, which would in turn expand my shopping options and not limit them to the larger grocery stores. I love buying produce at local farmer's markets. Perhaps Alice might lead to fewer grocery store runs altogether.

I suppose that if I find household items on sale while I'm already at my local Shaw's, then I'll pick them up there. But my brand of napkins are not always on sale when I need them. Sometimes, it's full price or nothing.

Now, Alice isn't exactly going to be sending me a turkey and fresh butternut squash for Thanksgiving (while Peapod can), but that's not a problem. That's not their role.

My brand of toilet paper is my brand of toilet paper - it's a utilitarian product.

I would imagine that in some major urban downtown areas - Manhattan for example - where the cost of goods are probably far greater than in the suburbs, that Alice is a welcome alternative. I can see some major cost savings for New Yorkers.

I'm not totally sold on Alice, but I have no reason to dislike them yet. Their website is easy to use, their social media presence is helpful, and their communications with me haven't been excessive. Perhaps after a few more shipments, they will become a necessary part of my existence.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Goodbye 18-34

Today is my final day as a coveted member of the 18-34 demographic.

In a few hours, I will no longer be significant to Spike TV, WWE, and Amp Energy Drink. Single-player shooting games should no longer be on my radar screen. I will no longer count toward the targeted ratings of many TV shows.

I entered this demographic many years ago, while still in college. Sophomore year, to be specific. I was likely suffering through Immunology and Organic Chemistry lectures during my highly misguided third semester as a pre-med student.

Overnight, I'm in the same 35-64 demo as my parents. While 25-54 is more highly cited, 35-64 ratings are published. Theoretically, I'm supposed to enjoy smooth jazz and oldies radio far more tomorrow than I did today. I suppose a cutoff is necessary, and I have reached it.

I just don't feel my age. Not physically, not mentally. Minus some grey hair, I don't look it either. That's not boastful - that's a vast majority of people who guess my age guess incorrectly. Most of my social circles these days include younger folk. Perhaps that keeps me from aging.

I'm at the tail end of Generation X - a bunch of apparent slackers who fueled the Internet boom (and bust). It's the group that I identify with more than any 18-34, 25-54, or 35-64 label. Early MTV, 80's music, and grunge rock - that's me.

Last night, Mike reminded me that on Wednesday, I will officially be closer to 40 than I will be to 30. Thanks for the reminder.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Shameful Subscriber Trickery from Men's Health

I think the magazine subscription industry can be unscrupulous and sneaky. I realize that prices for consumer goods vary from store to store, and that it's important to shop around.

Dealing with subscriptions isn't always that simple.

Sure there are many manners in which one can subscribe. I have used all of the following: Resellers,, Direct from the publisher, and Using airlines points for free subscriptions.

When it comes time for renewal, that's when the irritation sets in.

Consistently, magazine publishers extend better offers to acquire new customers than they do to their existing customer base. Don't they realize that these offers are easily accessible by the users of their products (i.e. subscribers like myself), and create a fair amount of resentment among the customer base of people who they should be embracing and rewarding?

I have called a number of magazines when it comes time for renewal and I find a far better deal right on the magazine's website. The latest culprit here is Men's Health.

Their CRM cadence is quite off here - first I received an email a few days ago, mentioning that my subscription had been automatically renewed but they had not received payment yet. Funny, I thought. I never received an invoice.

So I clicked on the link to pay, and saw the terms - 10 issues, $29.97. I thought that was a little steep. 3 bucks for each issue?

So I checked the offer that they had on their website, and saw that 20 issues were being offered for $29.97. I also saw that they had an online customer service chat feature. So, I engaged them in a chat and explained the problem.

After a brief chat and without any pushback, I received this message (the chat transcript was emailed to me) "From time to time lower subscription prices are offered under certain circumstances. We will be happy to honor your request for this price."

Certain circumstances? A lower offer online during the same day when an email is sent out with a link to a higher offer to an existing long-term customer like myself? Please.

I then received a letter in the mail, which probably should have arrived before their email, as it didn't seem to indicate that my payment was late like the email did. The letter was for the same 10 issues / $29.97 offer, and included the following:

"As a member of our Preferred Subscriber Service, your subscription to MEN'S HEALTH has been automatically extended for another year (10 issues) to Jan 11...."

Preferred Subscriber? I am preferred? Doesn't that imply some level of benefits? It appears to reward me with a convenient auto-renewal at a higher rate. That's wrong.

Although the rep claimed to have changed the term, when I clicked on the renewal link the following day, the 10 issue offer remained.

So instead of play this game with them yet again, I simply canceled my subscription. Perhaps when Men's Health figures out that a loss of a subscriber is far worse that forcing an existing subscriber to renew with the best offer, then I'll return.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

My Bose Noise-Canceling Headphones

This week, I rediscovered a lost love.

My Bose Noise-Canceling Headphones

Back in 2004, I bought a pair of these, and they arrived just in time for a massive journey to Auckland, New Zealand. I consented to helping with a last-minute trip Down Under after our first attempt at completing a research study fell a bit short, and nobody else was available to complete the project. My boss asked if I would mind flying coach since this particular ticket had to come out of my company's profit (Business Class was customary and billable for International trips back then, but we had to eat expenses associated with supplemental projects).

I found that a round-trip ticket with two week's notice was cheaper with a Saturday stay, and I managed to negotiate a few extra days off, all expenses paid, to tool around Sydney for four nights, since that plan was actually cheaper for the company than just three nights in Auckland. Not a bad deal. Go figure.

But holy Jesus those were long flights - something like 12 hours from LA to Auckland alone. My Bose headphones were miraculous.

With my limited travel these days, I don't have many opportunities to use the headphones. At my new office, though, people work in large, open work spaces, and tend to use headphones to listen to music while plugging away.

I have my regular iPhone headphones, and a pair of in-ear Bose earbuds, but NOTHING sounds as good as these Bose Noise-Canceling Headphones. I'm sure they aren't even close to the best headphones on the market, but I almost forgot how good these sound.

Earlier today, I ended up driving to work since I had a dentist appointment early this morning and was fortunate to find a Southie resident parking spot on D street, a mere 15 min walk from the office. I decided to keep the headphones on to listen to music during my walk back to the car, which resulted in the most peaceful walk through the city that I have endured.

I was in my own little world, watching the buses, trucks, and taxis whiz past me in silence. If I do that again, I'll have to make sure that I'm aware of my surroundings and don't get plowed into by a crazy driver blowing through a red light!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Rite Aid on East Broadway in Southie - Shamefully Towing Cars

Parking in Southie is not always an easy endeavor. Between the lack of weeknight parking for non-resident overnight guests, to the space-saving in the winter, there's many rules - written and unwritten - that make things difficult to predict the outcomes (will the city ticket me if I park here, will some angry dude named Sully smash my windshield if I move his cone, etc.)

But sometimes, when the accepted norms are suddenly disrupted, I'm irritated.

Case in point - the parking lot next to Rite Aid on East Broadway (formerly Brooks Pharmacy).

View Larger Map

I've lived here for over 6 years. I have parked in that lot many times - sometimes to patronize Rite Aid, other times to simply run into the bank or grab a bite at the Boston Beer Garden or the Playwright. I never leave my car there overnight.

Apparently, they are now towing cars after Rite Aid closes. Mike mentioned something about it on the walk over last night, and my friend Dan posted something this morning about how all of his friends' cars were towed last night.

Technically, it's a one-hour parking limit for patrons of Rite Aid. I was never sure how they would regulate that during the day while Rite Aid was open (they close at 9 or 10pm), but the signs are posted.

I don't think that I have ever found that lot completely full when I needed to run into the store. Not once.

When I left the Beer Garden last night around 11pm, there were probably about 15 cars parked in the lot that held at least 5-6 times that amount. I remember noticing because of what Mike had mentioned earlier.

This lot is entirely unused after 10pm. Tow cars after 2am if you must, thereby preventing overnight parkers. But it's a given that patrons of those two restaurant/bars need somewhere to park, unless they are local and walking.

I realize that it's private parking. But figure something out.

Do the owners of Boston Beer Garden and The Playwright (which are co-owned) need to pay Rite Aid for the right for patrons to park there safely and not depart to find missing cars? Should Rite Aid simply grin and bear it, and be a neighborly member of Southie?

Either way, if people think that they run the risk of towed cars if they patronize these bars after 10pm, they might stop driving to those establishments.

(# of cars) x (# of people per car) x (# of drinks per person) x (7 nights) = lots and lots of lost revenue for the bars and tax revenue for the city.

The high school atop G St. is neighborly, and those of us who live nearby appreciate it. During the school year, it's explicitly clear that parking from 6:15am-4:30pm is entirely forbidden, and cars will be towed. But on weekends and while school is not in session (holidays, all summer), the lot is fair game. They don't have to do that, but they do. It's a nice gesture to relieve some of our parking woes temporarily.

Again - I realize that this is Rite Aid's rule AND signs are clearly marked. And my car was not towed, nor the vehicles owned by my friends. I'm not personally irritated because I didn't follow a rule and was caught.

I'm saying change the rule. Now, they are actually doing the towing that they threatened.

I'd just think that for the good of those after-hours businesses on East Broadway, and the fact that cars parked there after 10pm do not adversely affect Rite Aid's operations, I think they should change their rule.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stealing Quarters from My Car in NYC

I'm finding it hard to believe that it's been well over three years since I worked for the market research / consulting company that occupied my time from 1997-2006. I look back at that time in my life and wonder how I was able to keep up with the travel schedule. Back then, social media hadn't exploded, the economy hadn't collapsed, and I lived out of my suitcase for 120-150 nights each year.

I went from a childhood of little travel, to a European adventure upon graduation from college, to a world of business travel. From ages 26-31 or 32, I can't even count how many upgrades I received on airplanes. It became a game. An addiction. I still have almost 300,000 frequent flier miles from that period.

Every so often, I am reminded of that past life as if it were only yesterday.

Case in point - my recent trip to NYC. I was in town for my friend's wedding, and had the pleasure of playing tourist during the hours between the ceremony and reception. I sat atop a double-decker bus and enjoyed being driven around midtown Manhattan on a lovely Saturday afternoon.

As we drove up 6th Avenue, we reached 54th St. and The Warwick Hotel, a building where I spent many hours. Function space in Manhattan was always ridiculously expensive, and I somehow found my way to this hotel as a good base from which we could rent space and conduct our surveys when a night in Manhattan was required. I even stayed overnight there a bunch of times, often being upgraded to beautiful suites for some odd reason. They must have associated my name with being the on-site contact for a catering event, and realized that we consistently spent a ton of coin with them.

Life on the road involved lots of waiting punctuated with bouts of sheer frenzy. Our 2 1/2 hour surveys barely had time for five minute breaks, but I was dead-set on finishing on time at all costs. Driving to airports with reckless abandon, scurrying around to find FedEx-owned shipping centers, trying to hunt down dinner at 11:30 pm - a life of glamour, it was not.

I always preferred the "local" work - anything from DC to Boston when I lived in NJ, and anything within the NYC-Albany-Burlington VT-Boston area when I lived in Boston. All of that was drivable. Whereas my colleagues almost always had to fly everywhere, I got to spend lots of time in my personal car, conveying a minor sense of normalcy within a crazy road-based job.

When in NYC and conducting events at The Warwick Hotel, I used to park at this garage. The hotel did not own the facility, but had an arrangement with them for hotel guests. I don't know how many times it took me to figure this out, but there was a period where I would retrieve my car only to discover that ALL of my quarters had been stolen.

I knew this because I always kept my coin holder full, coins heads-up (of course). And the coins were gone every time.

I'll admit to having a temper at times.

After one particularly stressful evening, I decided that I had enough of this.

I picked up my car, drove up the ramp, turned onto the one-way 54th St., saw the missing quarters, double-parked my car, and marched right back into the parking garage to scream at anyone who would listen. I called them all thieves and warned the other patrons who were standing around that they stole from people who parked there.

I didn't care that it was a handful of change. That wasn't the point. If they were slimy enough to steal 10 quarters from me every time I parked there, they were pathetic in my book.

After the attendant finally walked away from me after a few minutes of my angry screaming and accusations, I walked back into The Warwick, still flustered, and recounted my story to the hotel manager. He apologized profusely, and while he told me that they did not own the garage, he somehow placated me to the point that I appreciated whatever gesture he extended. I don't remember if it was free parking or a free room, but either way, I was happy he listened and responded.

To this day, I always check my quarters after I valet my car. It's not the money. It's the principle and the integrity of the establishment that are in question.

I did none of this to receive anything. But when I'm wronged, I feel the need to speak up. This was pre-blogs, pre-Yelp, pre-Twitter. Rest assured, if I had those tools back then, I would have utilized them with fervor.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Deathwish?

Should I have the misery of going missing for a few days, folks might want to check local emergency rooms. I'm about to head to a local Southie bar here in Boston, wearing a Yankees cap.

After all, it is the World Series.

But, this could be the end of me...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dead Car Battery

I have been driving around Jeep Grand Cherokees since 1996. Over 13 years with one car company and brand. During that time frame, I have owned a whopping two different vehicles.

My philosophy with cars is practicality and utilitarian. I realize that they are financial strains that depreciate in value the moment you sign the papers and exhale. I drive them until they drop.

My current Jeep is sitting at just over 77,000 miles and has dents and dings adorning the bumper and chassis. The interior is in great condition, my radio and speakers sound great, and I have heated leather seats. It's comfortable and fully paid off - the perfect car to park on the city streets of Boston.

At this point in my vehicle's life, I need to anticipate problems.

Case in point, Saturday night.

I was headed to a friend's poker night in Cambridge, and was instructed to bring "good beer." So I parked illegally on the side of Mass Ave (in a "spot" marked "No Parking Here to Corner") and threw on my 4-way flashers. I ran through the pouring rain into the corner store, bought a six pack, and returned to my car to learn that it would not restart.

I turned the key, the gauges flickered and freaked out a bit, and the engine would not even attempt to turn over. Immediately, I expected the worst, but figured, in the back of my mind, that my battery was dead.

Cambridge isn't super far from my home in Southie, and since I was parked somewhere that would likely get me towed, I needed to figure something out. So I called AAA for assistance.

About 40 minutes later, a tow truck showed up with another vehicle already attached, making me hope that what I needed was a jump and not a tow, which obviously would have forced me to wait a bit longer.

This would have been a scene from a horror movie if I was stranded somewhere along a dark, desolate road - driving rain, dead battery, no cell service, vulnerable passenger. But I was pretty good-to-go with my GPS, iPhone, and beer.

We got the car started, and I was on my way (nervously) back to Southie, fully expecting to stall out in the I-93 tunnel. But that never happened. I limped into a parking spot, turned the car off, and tried to restart it just to see what would happen. Dead.

Sunday morning, I employed Mike to bring my to AutoZone and help change the battery. I must admit, the process of unscrewing rusted bolts underneath a car hood that wouldn't stay open on its own (without holding it or lodging a wrench in it) was not easy. But Mike is far handier than I, even without full use of his dominant left hand (broken pinkie still healing).

My new battery looks fancy, and I'm expecting it to last me until the Jeep kicks it, whenever that happens. I'm hoping to get at least another 40,000 miles out of it, and at the rate I'm adding miles these days, that puts be in late 2013.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Halloween in New Hampshire

Last weekend, Mike, Jeff, and I headed north to New Hampshire for a Halloween party thrown by Mike's aunt.

I will admit that living the single life in Boston, I'm not amid children all that often these days. There aren't that many kids in my extended family yet, and my career doesn't put me in front of youth all that much.

So going from zero to thirty screaming eight year olds is like skipping a season or two, and having a beach day after a snowfall.

Either way, it was a great way to spend the afternoon and evening. I'm not sure if Mike invited me for the company or for my photo snapping skills. Probably a bit of both :) Either way, I knew that I had a responsibility to capture the precious moments.

Mike's aunt goes all out for Halloween - nothing like I had even seen in a residential setting. Decorations EVERYWHERE, themed food, drinks, and games, and even a haunted house in the basement. The kids loved it. As they lined up to enter the haunted basement, an impromptu "you're gonna die" chant broke out (which I found a bit disturbing), but it soon died down as the first few kids emerged, thrilled expressions that they survived the underground darkness.

While Mike played with his nieces, Jeff and I surveyed the children and wondered where they resided in their cliques at school. Who were the cool kids? Who were the nerds? Who were the quiet ones? Who was popular? We picked out our favorite Halloween costumes of the bunch. I think he preferred the Chinese Take Out container to Paula Abdul (my favorite), but don't remember for sure. Actually, I don't know if she was supposed to be Paula, but that's what I called her behind her back.

Mike has a terrible sweet tooth - put him in a room with a bowl of candy, and it will be gone within minutes. Me, on the other hand...I can usually resist. However, in true Halloween fashion, I consumed far more candy than was necessary.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Failed Ticket Broker

For some strange reason, I thought I would give buying and reselling event tickets on StubHub a shot. I did some investigation into the legality of such activity here in Massachusetts, and learned that as long as I'm not selling tickets for other events in Mass, I should be in the clear.

So, I checked online for some forthcoming concert tours that might lend to quick sellouts and high demand for secondary-market tickets. I zeroed in on one artist.

Kelly Clarkson.

I figured she was still pretty hot, and was playing venues that weren't enormous.

My strategy was picking some large markets or unique venues, and going for it. On the list were Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC, Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut, The Joint at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas, and - in a why not decision - Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine.

I searched for presale codes, and managed to score many of the ticket in presale or right when they went on sale. Before I knew it, I had 5 pairs of tickets, and was in the hole about $900.

I registered with StubHub and posted all of the tickets for sale, pricing them accordingly as to how the market appeared to be setting itself. My calculations projected about $1,400 in revenue after StubHub fees, posting a tidy 55% profit in just a month or two.

Or so I thought.

Weeks went buy, and the tickets languished there on StubHub. I lowered the price once.

Then again.

And again.

We're quickly approaching the event dates, and I'm still holding all 5 of these pairs. Grrr.

Mentally, at this point, I have already written the cash off. The tickets were bought and paid for, and I had paid my credit card bill. Anything I could recoup would simply be found money, I figured.

It was time to salvage something. Anything.

So I started slashing prices and turned to the murky waters of Craiglist to find buyers. Thankfully, I managed to unload the Portland tickets (first, actually), followed by the NYC ones. Each buyer essentially received a 2-for-1 deal.

The Mohegan Sun tickets - where I bought two pairs - went unsold. I doubled down and ended up with a measly 14 against the dealer's 20. Yuck. I sent the tickets to my friend Stacey and told her to have fun, which she did.

That left the Las Vegas tickets. One final pair for a show in early November. Somehow, I got lucky, and a buyer snatched them up on StubHub. Oddly enough, I think I even managed a small profit (10%) after fees and shipping charges. I FedEx'ed those tickets away yesterday, and am now thankfully without any remaining inventory.

So, my life as a ticket broker was a short, unprofitable one. I ended up in the hole about $500, or about half the cost of the new kitchen table I'm eyeing. But, I'll chalk it up as a lesson that I won't likely attempt again.

I'm now receiving a ton of emails from Ticketmaster. They must think I'm Kelly's biggest fan.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Totally Confused

Call me crazy...but shouldn't every issue of Architectural Digest be the "Architecture Issue?"

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pound of Starbucks Beans = Free Beverage... or Free Coffee?

I'm a big fan of Starbucks - that's no secret.

I don't mind the mass appeal of their products or their overcommercialized stores and brand. I still think that their concept is cool, and ubiquity is simply a product of their success and consumer demand.

Yesterday, I saw that Starbucks launched two new iPhone apps:

- Starbucks Card Mobile is an interface to reload a registered Starbucks card, check balances, and even use your iPhone as the actual card as some test locations out west (which is pretty sweet).

- myStarbucks is a pretty comprehensive app that uses GPS to locate nearby stores and give product information about practically anything they sell. Want to see which nearby locations are brewing coffee using the Clover machine? They have that.

I downloaded both apps and used Starbucks Card Mobile to reload my card with $25. It worked seamlessly, and they awarded me with an extra $5 since I used my Visa card on my first reload and they were running a promotion. Sweet, I figured. I needed to buy a pound of beans, as I was flat out.

Now, I know the rules. When I buy a pound of beans at a Starbucks, I'm entitled to a free tall beverage. I have always asked for a simple hot coffee, probably out of simplicity.

But yesterday, I felt like a pumpkin spice latte. I don't know why, I just kind of did. I was not 100% certain that more sophisticated drinks were entitled to the freebie upon purchase of beans, but figured that I would never know if I didn't ask.

So after the barista ground my beans, the exchange went something like this:

Her: "Anything else?"

Me: "Don't I get a free drink with that?"

Her: "You do if you use your Starbucks Card to purchase it"

Me: (after JUST having given her my Starbucks Card to pay for the transaction): "Good thing I did"

Her: "What would you like?"

Me: "Can I get a latte?"

Her: "No, just a coffee."

Me (not about to fight to the death...but I know she's wrong): "Why can't I get a latte?"

Her: "Because they are more expensive!"

So I settled for my tall coffee and went on my way. The first time I asked if this free beverage can be anything something other than a coffee, and I'm shot down.

But something just didn't sit well with me. Since she didn't even ask if I wanted a free beverage at the start, I think she was banking on my not knowing the rules. More times than not, when ordering beans from other Starbucks locations, I'm asked what tall beverage I would like.

So I looked up the rules at this morning, and found this:

Your Benefits

Free selected syrup and soymilk
Free brewed coffee refills
Free beverage with whole bean purchase
Free Wi-Fi up to 2 hours a day
Free beverage. Pretty vague, yes in my mind all encompassing. Even this fine print seems to support my case:

You receive one complimentary 12 fl oz beverage at time of purchase of one or more pounds of whole bean coffee. Offer valid at participating U.S./Canada stores and is subject to change.

I hate the inconsistency of Starbucks sometimes. I know it's impossible to give customers a 100% consistent experience given the vast quantity of locations and variable involved. But all I wanted was a free tall pumpkin spice latte with my pound of beans, and I left feeling bad for even asking.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sharing the Altar with The Pope

I'm not a huge fan of weddings. Thankfully, I'm only invited to one or so each year. And since my invitations usually come from true friends, I wind up going and ultimately have lots of fun.

I tried counting the number of weddings that I have attended, and I'm probably sitting somewhere between 10 and 15.

Most frequently, I am simply an invited guest. A few times, I attended the bachelor party beforehand. Once, I was even the wedding DJ.

This past weekend's wedding was quite different from the norm for many reasons.

First off, I was in the wedding party. I performed the second reading - from the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians - the "Love is Patient, Love is Kind" one. I have had multiple friends guess either this particular passage and/or book of the Bible from which I read. I suppose this is a popular one.

I was even invited to ride in the stretch Range Rover. As I stood for about twenty minutes outside, awaiting the rest of the wedding party, I watched tons of people stop and photograph this un-ecofriendly vehicle.

Second of all, it was a black tie affair, which forced me into a tuxedo for the second time in my life. The first time was my high school prom.

Third, the wedding was at St. Patrick's Cathedral, which means that I shared the altar with Bishops, Cardinals, and even The Pope. I think that's completely wild! Parishoners and random tourists were mulling around the interior of the cathedral all while the ceremony rolled on. After the nuptials and procession, we stood on the exterior stairs and were greeted by even more onlookers taking pictures, pointing, and probably wondering what wedding they stumbled across. If I happened across a wedding during one of my trips to Italy, it would have left a lasting impression in the annals of my vacation memories. Hopefully this wedding served the same purpose to a few out-of-towners.

Fourth, the reception was at the New York Athletic Club, a private venue on Central Park South. Our function room on the 9th floor had an outdoor balcony and windows that gave a panoramic view above the treetops of the entire park.

Between the wedding and the reception, I had the opportunity to play Midtown Manhattan tourist, as my friend arranged for a brief chartered bus tour for guests to occupy the down time between the end of the ceremony and beginning of the reception.

Overall, a great day. Perfect weather, happy people all around.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Most Obnoxious Radio Jingle

Great jingles are infectious. Memorable, catchy, and witty.

I suppose "great" is subjective, but I certainly don't mind the jingles for Free Credit Report, Mattress Discounters, East-West Mortgage, and Giant Glass.

There is one current campaign, however, that makes me jump out of bed almost as quickly as most Beastie Boys songs.


Ugh! How irritating - a kid singing this phone number for 60 seconds straight. It's worse that fingernails down a chalk board.

What's funny is that the organization KNOWS how irritating their radio commercial is, which is partly why the campaign is effective. On their website, there is a link to have people submit their own versions of the jingle.

Having worked in radio, and now working in marketing / advertising - I get why this campaign is running as frequently as it is, and credit them for creating such a memorable yet irritating commercial.