Thursday, May 29, 2008


So to commemorate and promote the release of the fourth Indiana Jones movie, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Lucasfilm's marketing department has teamed up with Burger King, Expedia, and Dr. Pepper. As I type this, there is an empty Dr. Pepper can sitting on my desk. It has Indiana Jones text and pictures all over it, and it even says "Limited Edition" on it. No doubt someone will try to collect these.

After seeing this, a strange thought occurred to me. What if... Lucasfilm teamed up with Jones Soda Co. instead? It would be perfect! For a limited time only, you could buy (Indiana) Jones Soda, and even have a limited-run flavor called American Bullwhip (hey, it just might be better than Turkey & Gravy soda). I know, Jones is supposed to be more of an alternative company, for indie beverages, if you will.

Trust me, it would've been great!!!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Check this out, part 2

For our second edition of Check this out, we stay with the UCLA sports vibe. BruinsNation has the most rabid bunch of UCLA fans on the entire Internet.

The site recently received a total revamp to include new features and an entirely different layout as part of the ever-growing SB(Sports Blog) Nation. While the fans there can get pretty critical at times, and you may not always agree with them, it's still a good place to discuss the latest news with fellow Bruins. Oh yeah, and it's always interesting to see how they treat Trojan trolls. Check it out!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Check this out, part 1

Well, just so I don't have to spend lots of time thinking of and planning out a well thought out post, I'm going to create a series of posts called "Check this out," referring to some website that I think is cool. Each will be short and sweet, and describe why I like the particular site.

Our first edition of Check this out is No, I'm just kidding. I wouldn't do that to you.

Our first edition of Check this out is about BruinReportOnline. BRO ( is a UCLA Bruins sports site that focuses primarily on basketball and football scouting news. During the season there are game previews, predictions, and recaps. They also supply year-round reports on prospective recruits and off-season events. Many of the articles are premium, subscription-required pages, and there are members-only forums. But if you don't want to pay, they also have free public forums and articles as well.

If you want to know all the latest, up-to-the minute news about stuff before any of your friends hear it, BRO is the place to go. Forget all the big media outlets like LA Times, BSPN, and Fox Sports - they have news, but you almost always hear it first at BRO.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


The other day, had a poll asking "If you found a wallet on the street with cash, credit cards, and ID in it, what would you do?

(Edit: Sorry the image is cut off. Click on it to see the whole picture.)

I don't know what the final count was, but with the number of votes that were tallied by the time I had gotten to it, I doubt it changed much by the end of the day. So about 35.5% of the participants said they'd give everything intact back to the owner. That was the option that I chose, and I can honestly say that that is what I would do. Why? Well, it might be cliché, but think about how you'd feel if you were the one who'd lost your wallet? Plus, it's the right thing to do.

Second place was "Keep the cash, mail the rest to the owner," at around 21.5% If I were one of the people who would do this (and I'm not), I would assume that the wallet's owner would be happy just to get the wallet back, much less the money. But that option still really sucks, because then they'd be out some sum of money.

At a close third was "Give it to a police officer, let them do the work." I find this one interesting, because this basically says that the person wants to do the right thing, but doesn't have the time or inclination to directly take care of it him/herself. And even then, I'm inclined to believe that the cop would probably just keep it in a lost and found box, waiting for a phone call. But then again, I'm not in law enforcement so maybe I shouldn't presume or assume.

The most interesting answer, though, was "Take the cash, throw away the rest," which was fourth place with almost 18% of the vote. Now, this was on the internet, where there essentially people don't know you and cannot go to your house and smack you with the morality stick. So of course, I'm inclined to believe that at least 18% of people will actually go this route. Is this cynicism? Sure, but I bet some of the people who voted for the other, more ethical choices, might actually fall into this one, but did not choose it because they're trying to tell themselves that they're better than they actually are.

That leads me to my next thought. This poll was done online. It is completely unscientific and the sample space is not really representative of the greater population. It was also done without the threat of being punished if the less moral options were chosen, making it easier for people to be honest without the public guilt. I wonder, if a test were done, say, on candid camera in a mall or other public place, what would the results be then?

Despite my growing cynicism about lots of things, I actually think that the percentage of "good samaritans" (people who return everything intact to the owner + people who give it to a cop to take care of) would still be in the 40-50% range. Not as high as this poll would suggest, but high enough. I'm sure some people would try to justify to themselves taking the cash and giving the rest back, but in my experience, morality and responsibility would prevail.

I would hope that if I lost my wallet, someone would give it back to me intact. Judging by the poll, I'd have about an 80% chance of getting it back, and if I get it back, a 71% chance of it still containing my money. Not the best situation, but not bad.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

They're everywhere! Part 3

(please read parts 1 and 2 below before reading this)

Speaking of product placement, with the rise of video/computer games as a viable entertainment and storytelling medium, there's no surprise that third party companies are wanting to use them to hawk their products. Video games are especially appealing to those companies because they can easily target specific demographics.

However, product placement in games is not a new thing. Back as far as the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System, we had an entire game that's one big freaking advertisement. It's called Mc Kids, and it features none other than Ronald McDonald and his "friends" like the Hamburglar, that big furry purple thing, the weird duck-like demi-human girl, and I don't remember who else. It was a platformer in the vein of the Mario Bros. series, and it kind of really, really sucked.

Later on, we were treated to another big $50 cartridge of an advertisement, Cool Spot for the Super Nintendo. Yup, 7-up wanted to cash in on this newfangled video game thing and placed its contrived mascot, that red dot in the 7-up logo, into his own game. He was basically a small red disc with arms and legs who wore really cool shades. Yeah, he was cool. So cool that "cool" was in his name! Anyway, that game was actually not bad. But like Mc Kids, it was just one giant advertisement for a food franchise.

If you know of any others, please let me know.

More subtly, we have signs, labels, billboards, decals, and actual objects placed in games to make the player aware of a certain thing. Sometimes painfully aware, literally. In the highly acclaimed NES game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, there parts of the game where Foot Soldiers hid behind large Pizza Hut signs and pushed them down onto the turtles as they walked by. The game itself even came with a coupon for Pizza Hut pizza. Wow.

Many sports games nowadays have ads from sponsors of the actual organization. For example, all the companies that sponsor NFL football, whose ads you normally see when you watch a pro game, appear in the latest Madden games for XBox 360 and Playstation 2 and 3.

I don't know where it goes from here, but product placement in games is catching up to (and may be surpassing, for all I know) product placement in movies and TV. But you know what? That doesn't really bother me. We'll see what happens in the near future.

My view on this is that product placement doesn't bother me, but unskippable commercials or ads that appear in front of what I'm reading or watching, forcing me to click to remove them, are unacceptable.

By the way, the title of this post is based on what these little guys from Halo scream when you attack them. Halo, to my knowledge, has no in-game product placement, but I could be wrong.

They're everywhere! Part 2

(please read part 1, below, first)

In the last post, I kind of went off onto a tangent of galactic proportions, so let's get back to the original issue. The real point was that ads in TV are becoming longer and more numerous. But it's not just TV where this is happening.

Anyone who spends any amount of time on the Internet knows that web sites simply do not run without some amount of advertisement. Web space costs money, so those who run sites put ads in order to make money, or at the very least, recoup the costs of the web space. With the advent of flash-based advertisement and other fancy-schmancy ads that feature motion and sound and general, annoying in-your-faceness, it's become a big distraction to say the very least. I realize advertisement is necessary, but from the point of view of someone who doesn't use the web to make money, the magnitude and nature of the ads just presents a gargantuan annoyance.

Sure, there are adblock programs, and very good ones at that, which savvy users can activate to avoid seeing those ads, but not everyone has 'em. And my point is the fact that these ads exist and annoy hundreds of millions of people each day.

Recently, ads have even made their way into web-based video. On the popular YouTube, little text boxes sometimes appear at the bottom on your video while it's playing, forcing you to click a little X button to get rid of it. On other sites, such as and, an actual commercial will play before your video, which the video player does not allow you to skip. This can be exceedingly annoying if you happen to be watching many short clips. Each one will be preceded by an unskippable (yes, that's a word) commercial, often the same one over and over. These vid-ads cannot be blocked by adblock programs, to my knowledge.

People think product placement in movies and TV shows is a big deal... a sign of selling out. But I've never seen any endorsements in movies or TV that are as annoying as these web-video ads. I just wish someone would think of another way. If I think of something, I'll let you know.

They're everywhere! Part 1

Have you seen those huge ads these days that take up a whole side of a bus? Putting ads on the side of a bus is not a new thing. It's quite common to have a little section of the side or back of the bus advertising a movie or a radio station or McDonalds' new old McRib sandwich. I suppose it was just a matter of time before they extended the small, below-the-window displays to bus-height and bus-length monstrosities. I have heard that there are also whole ads that cover both sides of a bus as well as the back, but haven't seen one yet.

But that sort of thing doesn't really bother me. Like all advertisement, it's meant to be omnipresent and kind of in-your-face. And as far as ads go, even full-bus ads aren't really that in-your-face.

Then there's TV ads. We have all grown up with them, no matter how old you are. We're used to it, but now in the age of the new(er) Internet, we have downloadable shows and option to skip the ads that normally accompany the shows. I felt like this was a point of no return of sorts. It's very hard to go back to regular TV, with all the commercials. It's the single leading cause of channel surfing, in my opinion. I don't channel surf though; I just turn it off (there's not much good on these days anyway, but that's a topic for another discussion).

Along these same lines, I'd like to point out that commercials have gotten longer and longer over the years as well. This pretty much sucks because it gives us fewer minutes of show per episode, and forces the showrunners to cut out stuff for time that may have been cool or interesting to see. This is readily apparent when you watch a show either downloaded or from a DVD with the commercials ripped out.

I stumbled across this a while back: the original Star Trek, which debuted in 1966 and ran for 3 seasons, had 50-minute long episodes, including the beginning and end credits, but without commercials. In 1993, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine began, and each episode was barely 45 minutes, including a long credit sequence at the beginning and end. I'd estimate about 42-43 minutes if you take those out.

Some other hour-long shows these days: Babylon 5 (1994, 43 minutes), Psych (current, 42 minutes), Battlestar Galactica (current, 42 minutes), Eureka (current, 42 minutes), and CSI (current, 42 minutes).

The difference might be more striking with half-hour shows. I don't know how long those were in the '60s, but a short-lived favorite cartoon of mine, Undergrads, was 21 minutes long without commercials. And of course, the wildly popular show The Office on NBC is 20-21 minutes when they're not doing their special extended episodes. You know what that means? That means in a half hour, you're only getting 66.667% show and 33.333% commercials. What a gyp!

An exception would be HBO shows, like Entourage, which is 27 minutes out of 30, but that's because it's paid for more by the customers' premium subscription payments than by advertisements.

I guess I should just take consolation in the fact that watching without the commercials will save me 7+ minutes of my day, per episode, so I have more time to blog about it here.

What do you think about this? Do you like the commercials, giving you a sense of suspense while you wait to see what happens after the break? Or would you rather have instant gratification, to see it all at once without interruptions? Have you noticed this when watching DVD episodes?

Of course, I didn't watch any shows today, on TV OR on computer, so where did I find the 7 minutes to type this?

I have no mouth but I must comment!

I was recently wondering why I wasn't getting many comments, and chalked it up to one of the following:

a) people don't know this exists (not likely since it's been on my AIM away message 24/7 as well as on my Facebook page)

b) people don't care or don't have an opinion (very possible)

c) There's something else preventing them from commenting.

I can't do much about a) or b) at this point, but I checked on c) and discovered in Blogger's settings that the default was that only Blogger users can comment, using their login and password. So I went ahead and changed it so that a variety of other kinds of accounts are accepted for commenting (including AIM users). So please comment away, if you wish. If you think this is still too restrictive, yell at me and I may change it to allow everyone. The only drawback to that final option is that it allows anonymous (and possibly Spam) comments.

Please, comment away.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

They're not actually red

The other night I went to Red Mango and ordered a cup of frozen yogurt with strawberries, pineapples, and mangos.

For those who who don't care for frozen yogurt and/or just don't "get" the whole Pinkberry thing, you might be wondering why in the world I'm actually writing about this. Well, there's only one reason, really.

On my way out the door, I realized something. The first time I'd seen Red Mango while walking through Westwood months ago, the name had piqued my curiosity. I wanted to know what the deal was. I wanted to see what set them apart from their competition. I wanted red mangos in my frozen yogurt. So, the other night, when I finally got around to trying it, imagine my disappointment in discovering that their mangos are just yellow, like any ol' ordinary mangos. They weren't even orange, didn't even have a tinge of red anywhere. I was angry and depressed at the same time, and was really tempted to get my money back. They're called Red Mango but their mangos aren't red! What- the- heck is up with that?!

That brings me back to Pinkberry. As far as fruits go, I like all kinds of berries. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries... dunno about boysenberries, really. I'm open to trying new ones that I've never heard of. So the first time I went to Pinkberry, I was excited to check out their pinkberries. To my dismay while scanning the list of toppings, the pinkberries were mysteriously absent.

Well, my trip to Red Mango was the last straw. Sorry, but I'm not even going to give Snowberry a chance. As they say, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Fool me three times, well, strike me down with lightning (or a few hundred mangos and berries).

You know, now that I think of it, I've been burned before with this nefarious naming scheme. I first went to The Olive Garden as a kid, maybe 9 or 10 years old. I don't remember what I or my family members ordered, but not a single one of our dishes had olives. There wasn't even a garden at the restaurant. This realization, which came just as my dad was paying the bill, made my brother and I very sad and left a very sour, decidedly un-olive-like, taste in my mouth. Ever since then, when others have wanted to go there with me, I've had to grit my teeth, go along with it, and hide my disdain for their sake and mine.

So now whenever I go out to a restaurant, I'm really wary of what the name promises. I've been disappointed too many times before and I don't think I can take too much more of this false promise, misnomer-ism crap.