Funny content and comical posts.

Catfish fools? Since April 1st is widely celebrated as April Fool’s Day I wanted to share a post that, while not a prank, is a bit out of the ordinary: it’s a case of catfishing and catfighting. So, get your rod and reel ready and prepare to pull in a catfish!

On social media it can be hard to tell who is real… and who has reeled you in. As an example I present the following case of suspected catfishing and catfighting. Can you help solve the mystery?

Image via Flickr; Courtesy of Brent Moore

Two people — let’s call them Mark and Nate — met on Twitter and subsequently became Facebook friends. Nate is a writer known for experimenting with social media as a channel for creative fiction. Keep that in mind for now. They met thereafter in person. They had some mutual business together and discussed a potential partnership.

Nate also had friend — Molly — who became friendly with Mark through Nate’s Facebook page. Mark and Molly soon became Facebook friends.

Mark and Molly developed a strong friendship, but never physically met. However, Mark wondered — and still wonders — if he was being catfished by Molly (with Nate possibly having been Molly). Details include:

  • Absence of Authentication: Molly allegedly worked overseas as a lawyer for the United Nations. However, here was no record of her being a member of the bar in the state from which she claimed to be. There was also no information about her anywhere in association with the United Nations.
  • A Shallow Digital Footprint: Molly has NO digital footprint beyond her Facebook account — despite presumably working in a position of some prominence. Countless Google searches for her name yield no results. Who has no search results on Google?
  • Missed Meeting Opportunities: Molly claimed to have flown back to her home state in the United States, but never contacted Mark during an extended layover while in the city where he lived. She told him of her travels after she had presumably arrived back home.
  • Mysterious Medical Maladies: Molly would occasionally disappear for stretches of time. Usually when she resurfaced, she had some amazing story about almost dying or having some other medical malady. Again, no proof of any kind, just creative storytelling.
  • Odd Area Code: Molly called Mark from an area code in New Jersey — not a number remotely related to her stated overseas location or her home state. Molly explained this as due to her using a prepaid calling card. They did speak on the phone a few times, and her voice was female, but there is no guarantee she was who she claimed to be.
  • Unable to Video Chat: Molly was never available to Skype; there were always technical limitations or issues. She shared some pictures, but they were clearly dated by at least five years; maybe more.

Consider the concerns above in relation to the points in the video below:

Mark and Molly eventually had a falling out and defriended each other on Facebook. Nate later defriended Mark in solidarity with Molly, but never directly discussed the situation with Mark.

A year or so later Mark and Nate reconciled and reconnected on Facebook. A short time later Mark and Molly posted replies right after each other in one of Nate’s Facebook threads, randomly “bumping into each other” in the process.

Wanting to resolve the past issue, Mark messaged Molly with a conciliatory message. Molly replied positively and they agreed to put the past behind them. Mark and Molly were once again Facebook friends.

Mark and Molly began to message each other, catching up in the process. However, Molly had stories about what she had been up to. They all seemed overly dramatic — or at least lacking in some logic and details. Mark overlooked this in an effort to be optimistic.

Strangely, upon realizing Mark and Molly were again connected on Facebook, Nate became incensed and messaged Mark with a very confrontational direct message. The edited exchange follows:

Nate: “Leave Molly alone. You bugged Molly once before. That betrays my trust, and uses my friends for your aims.”

Mark: “I bugged Molly once before? Please, Nate; Molly is an adult who can make their own decisions. Why do you feel it is your place to intervene if you don’t know or understand the specifics of our previous interactions?”

Nate: “Buzz off, predator.”

Nate then blocked Mark on Facebook; Mark disconnected from Nate on Twitter and LinkedIn. Mark defriended Molly on Facebook as well.

Consider the case above and share your answers the questions below:

  1. Was Mark being catfished by Molly — and was Nate possibly involved?
  2. Should Mark have asked Nate for permission to re-friend Molly?
  3. Was Nate justified in his communication to Mark?

If you think social media is only about fail whales, think again: Facebook played a significant role in saving Clark Kent from death by kryptonite exposure in the April 23, 2009 episode of Smallville.

smallville_opening_creditsTitled “Stiletto,” the episode involves Lois Lane posing as a new hero of the same name to attract the attention of the “Red/Blue Blur.”

This is the name given to Clark Kent in reference to the distinctive “red and blue blur” his primary-colored clothes leave in photographs taken of him saving residents of Metropolis at supersonic speed.

In the scene when Facebook is mentioned, Lois visits Chloe Sullivan (her cousin) about the whereabouts of missing Daily Planet photographer Jimmy Olsen. Notably, after getting married just a few episodes ago, Chloe and Jimmy abruptly divorced due to some key plot twists involving the appearance of Doomsday in Smallville.

Audio clips and transcripts of the two key parts of the scene are provided below. Note that the volume of the clips might be low, so be sure to adjust your volume.

Facebook Saves Clark Kent: Part 1

 Lois: “Jimmy’s not answering his phone and I was just wondering if perhaps you knew — “

Chloe: “Where my ex was? I thought that’s what Facebook updates were for.”

 Facebook Saves Clark Kent: Part 2

Chloe: “Jimmy should be at the Ace of Clubs…I really need to remove him from my Facebook friends, don’t I?”

FacebookFortunately, Chloe’s revelation allows Lois to find Jimmy and Clark who are being held captive by gangsters. She embraces her adopted superhero role and saves the day.

Unfortunately, a kryptonite-weakened Clark takes a bullet meant for Lois during the rescue, but he quickly recovers. Of course, he makes sure to not let a guilt-ridden Lois in on the secret.

The “rescue” scene and the one immediately following it is available on YouTube (embedding has been disabled). You can also watch the full episode online at the website of the CW Television Network.

So, when’s the last time your Facebook status saved a superhero?

Even the most venerable entities are not immune to economic adversity.

From American Express to Wynn Resorts, drastic action has been taken to ensure survival. The financial firestorm has scorched America’s oldest educational institution: Harvard Universityharvard-logoIn a bold move designed to ensure its fiscal survival, Harvard University today announced that it is selling it’s campus and going entirely online.

Billionaire businessman and 1965 Harvard Business School alumnus Robert K. Kraft purchased the 308 acre campus for an undisclosed sum. Kraft will develop the land into a massive commercial and residential complex in the heart of Cambridge, MA named “Harvard ‘s 100 Yards.”

“This was the most economically viable option;  we will save millions of dollars in toilet paper alone!” said Harvard President Dr. Drew G. Faust.

The school has experience with online learning through its Extension School and development of edX, but will develop a proprietary instructional platform for this new venture: Fully Online Optimized Learning System (FOOLS). In addition to robust learning tools, FOOLS will integrate several interactive features, including a virtual classroom environment similar to Second Life.

“We will miss our beautiful campus, but I am sure it will be equally as invigorating sending instant messages to each other,” Faust added. “L-O-L as they say!”

The change comes at a time of unusual fiscal concern at the historic campus. The university’s $36.9 billion endowment recently suffered losses of at least 22% (estimated at $8 billion) and projections anticipate a further decline. Insiders fear the loss could be even higher once real estate and private equity declines are considered.

AOL founder Steve Case has volunteered to produce thousands of CD-ROMs containing the systems operating system. Nobody expects to use them for anything but improvised coasters, yet Case insists.

Internet raconteur Philip J. “Pud” Kaplan will ease the transition by creating a “deadpool” game in which students can bet which classmate will fail next. Likewise, Facebook founder and former Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg will personally design an application to virtually recreate the social scene at the university.

Loic Le Meur and Gary Vaynerchuk will provide a continuous supply of French wine and cheese to the developers, faculty, staff and students during the transition. Social media expert Chris Brogan has also been hired to provide strategic vision while Loren Feldman will produce daily video updates of the technical development using puppets. Shel Israel and Robert Scoble will document the historic transition on Twitter.

“These people are all dopes,” Feldman groaned when informed of the news. “They should have asked me for my opinion since it is always the right one!”

To address any potential psychological concerns Dr. Phil and Dr. Laura will be on call to offer counseling services to those in need.

“The school is getting real,” said Dr. Phil. “Far too often people wait until it is too late to do what’s right.”  Not to be outdone, Dr. Laura is quoted as saying “without dormitories those stupid co-eds won’t be shacking up like unpaid whores!”

With regard to the development of the campus, Robert Kraft — who developed Patriot Place adjacent to Gillette Stadium where his New England Patriots play —  is no stranger to tackling big tasks and succeeding. The 67 year-old Kraft, with an estimated net worth of $6.6 billion, was named the 244th richest American by Forbes magazine.

“As an alumnus I am proud to be a part of this project. Today we are all Crimsons!” Kraft exclaimed.

Preliminary plans call for a residential area divided into four football-themed sections: First Down, Second Down, Third Down, Fourth Down, with an exclusive area for custom homes named Tom Brady Estates.

Also included will be a robust retail area with an array of retail stores. The initial list of national tenants includes HootersVictoria’s Secret, TGI Fridays, Subway, and Jiffy Lube. Patrons with small children can leave their children at “The Antonio Cromartie Daycare Center for Children with Forgettable Names” for a flat fee of $31.

In recognition of the land’s educational roots, a New England Tractor Trailer School (NETTTS) campus, “The Ted Kennedy Memorial School for Underwater Driving,” and a Greer Childers Body Flex Academy — along with several other instructional outletes — will open on the former site of the ivy league school.

With a nod to sustainability the entire development will recycle and reuse its waste at  the Eric Mangini Waste Processing Center. The facility will be heated by the hot air from ESPN headquarters in Bristol, CT (delivered directly via an underground pipeline).

With safety as a top concern, all 308 acres will be secured by a state of the art security and video monitoring system. Patriots head coach  Bill Belichick was personally involved with the design of the video camera network.

“It’s beyond anything I could have imagined,” commented Belichick. “The video system alone is worth the investment!”

Look for the first phase of  “Harvard ‘s 100 Yards” to open next summer!

PS: April Fools!

Since the beginning of the year an interesting online etiquette issue has arisen on Twitter: the use of automatic direct messages (private messages for those unfamiliar with the popular micro-blogging service).

Tweetdeck in action while using Twitter -- From 365 Days: 63/365 (February 1, 2009) by doctoriousBasically, a person on Twitter signs up for a third party service — SocialToo and Tweetlater are the top two that come to mind. These services automatically send a scripted message to people who follow them.

Once activated, these service send out messages created by the user ranging from the banal (“thanks for following me”) to badgering (“click my junk”).

The general consensus is that using automatic direct messages is bad form. Since social media is all about being, well, social, using an automated script to say the same thing to everyone  is disingenuous at best and downright rude at best — especially if all you are doing is promoting a product or service.

Twitter heavyweights Chris Brogan and Loic Lemeur have expressed concern about this issue. Even The Busy Brain discouraged the practice (and you better listen to your brain, no matter how busy it is!).

Long story short: don’t auto DM.

I’ve received several dozen automatic direct messages. For the most part I’ve found them to be bothersome, but also humorous. I deleted most of them and almost immediately unfollowed the person sending the message.

I wasn’t terribly bothered by the posts, but their use communicated to me that the person I elected to follow was not willing to make the personal investment in social media I feel must occur. In some cases, where there was a less “salesy” pitch it was clear the person was sending out the auto messages in a misguided effort to be polite.

If nothing else, the sheer “infomercial” nature of some of them made me wonder how truly effective any of them could possibly be.  My three favorite automatic direct messages (of those I saved) include:

“You totally ROCK. Since you’re following me I’ll be sure to check out your profile. What made you follow me?”

“Thanks Mathew for following. Here’s your gift. Get 1 Million Double-Opted In, Daily Verified Leads For F*R*E*E !!Come get it before they close this free offer ! [Link to website]

“Thanks for following me doctorious. Need a FREE Twitter Background/Theme? [link to website] We also do custom themes.”

Fortunately, a “hero” arose in the midst of this madness: the Twitter account “@optmeout.” However, the relief offered by this account only turnzs off automatic direct messages from people using “Tweetlater.” But something is better than nothing, right? Here is how the process works:

  1. Go to @optmeout on Twitter and Follow it.
  2. Receive a DM from @optmeout indicating it has followed you back.
  3. Send a DM back to @optmeout.
  4. Unfollow @optmeout.
  5. Rejoice!

After completing this process I realized there must be many “awesomely bad” auto DMs out there. Therefore, I invite you to post in the comments box below as many automatic direct messages you received or of which you have become aware. My goal is to amass a centralized list of automatic direct messages.

In closing, embracing the spirit if the Emma Lazarus poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty, I hereby say to you: Send me your tired, your poor, your huddled Auto DM’s yearning to breathe free!

I’ve never been sure if I was more of a geek or a nerd. Thankfully, Wired GeekDad blog writer Matt Blum answered my question in a December 24, 2008 Associated Press story proclaiming Barack Obama as the “Geek-in-Chief.”  Blum delineates the difference as follows:

“A geek is someone who has the knowledge of the geeky type stuff and has social graces. A nerd is someone who has the knowledge but not the social graces and a dork is someone who has neither.”

That being the case, I suppose I am more of a geek. I embrace my geekness, though I can honestly say that I have never been a comic book geek in the true sense of the word. While I have read a few graphic novels, I’ve never collected issues and kept them hermetically sealed in a temperature controlled room.

Nevertheless, I’ve had a lifelong admiration for the character of Superman (as the shield in the header of this blog attests). I have also been watching the NBC show Heroes since it begain airing in the fall of 2006 (speaking of Superman, it helped me to recover from “Superman Returns,” which I felt was very untrue to the idea of the character).

I am also a bit of a marketing geek, so I tend to notice things most other won’t — especially when my two areas of interest collide, as they have recently in Heroes. Over the past few seasons of the show, there has been some clumsily obvious product placements. While not entirely distracting from the show, they are hard to miss.

The two main brands that have maintained a strong presence in the show are Nissan and Sprint. It will be interesting to see how the upheaval in the economy and automobile industry might affect this ongoing relationship. Sprint has become heavily involved as of late, even sponsoring an online contest that invited viewers to chose a new hero for an online webisode.

I am also a customer of Sprint and have been since January 2000. In May 2008 I upgraded to the Palm Centro and have been using it ever since (I still am likely only using 25% of the phone’s capabilities).

One of the features I occasionally use is the Internet access — though I would use it more if it were not for inconsistent connection speeds and an underwhelming interface (it does not display the “real” Internet as is the case with the iPhone).

In any case, something caught my eye one day when I was browsing the “fake” Internet on my Palm Centro: the connection/activity icon on the phone is almost identical to the thematic image from Season 3 of Heroes!

This image is one that depicts the earth spliting apart along a diagonal line (bottom left to top right). The connection/activity icon on the Palm Centro depicts an earth with some kind of flame or ball of energy transversing it in a diagonal line (bottom left to top right).

This can’t possibly be a coincidence, can it? I’ve provided an image below containing pictures of both — Have a look and leave a comment with your thoughts about this possible case of product placement:

Unique Sprint Product Placement in NBC's Heroes?
Unique Sprint Product Placement in NBC’s Heroes?

I would love to get some other opinions on this. Certainly this is not the Rosetta stone or anything, but it does intrigue me. By the way, for a more complete list of product placement in Heroes episodes and other information about the show, check out the Heroes Wiki.

Update:

Shortly after writing this blog post, I attempted to answer my above question by reaching out to three Heroes actors who I know use Twitter:

  • Greg Grunberg (@greggrunberg), who plays “Matt Parkman.”
  • Brea Grant (@breagrant) who plays “Daphne Millbrook” (Matt Parkman’s love interest.)
  • David H. Lawrence (@dhlawrencexvii) who plays puppetmaster “Eric Doyle.”

On January 2, 2009 at 12:42 AM I posted the following question on Twitter: @greggrunberg @dhlawrencexvii @breagrant, is Sprint subliminally “celling” on “Heroes?” www.tr.im/sprint.

A short time later, at 1:29 AM, I noticed David Lawrence had just posted a tweet. So I resent the same question directly to him: @dhlawrencexvii Is Sprint subliminally “celling” on “Heroes?” Read this if you get a chance: www.tr.im/sprint. @Joseph_Yi and I are curious.

A few minutes later, on January 2, 2009 at 1:42 AM, David Lawrence replied as follows: @doctorious  Sprint (and Nissan) are Heroes’ 3 biggest advertisers. Nothing subliminal about it. All of us use Sprint cell phones on the show.

Later that same day, January 2, 2009 at 12:13 PM, Brea Grant sent a reply as well: @doctorious  nothing subliminal about sponsorship on the show but i think the whole world splitting thing is just a coincidence. 

I never heard back from Greg Grunberg, but I appreciate the two responses I did receive as they were interesting and enlightening. I wonder how someone who works in production for the show might answer for my question?

Add to Blinkslist | Add to del.icio.us | Digg This | Post to facebook | Google Bookmarks | add to furl | Add to ma.gnolia | reddit it! | add to simpy | Stumble It! | seed the vine

In the spirit of the holiday season, I crafted the following economy-inspired version of the classic Christmas tradition ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas for your yuletide pleasure. Behold a brand-new holiday classic: ‘Twas The Night Before Bailout!

Bailout America Logo

‘Twas the night before Bailout, when all through the Board,
Directors were scrambling, cash and stock options to horde.
Their loans were defaulting, their stock values shrinking,
Everyone hoping that St. Paulson would soon be ringing.

The executives were nestled all snug in their silk ties,
While visions of cash bonuses danced about like flies.
And the CEO in his cravat, and I in my gold-lined cap,
Just cooked our books so Fed money we could trap.

When out up on the helipad there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my office, did the glass ceiling shatter?
Away to the penthouse boardroom I flew in a tizzy,
Tore open the blinds, with anticipation I was dizzy.

The moon shining on the breasts of my gullible peon,
Gave the lustre of Bond’s martinis to objects like neon.
When, what to my glazed, wandering eyes I should spy,
But a red Hummer burning rubber across the night sky!

With an old weathered driver, green eyes and a sneer,
I knew in a moment that St. Paulson was finally here!
More rapid than auditors his eight minions they came,
He whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now, Citi! Now, BofA! Now, Morgan and Stanley,
On, GM! On, Chrysler! On Goldman and Fannie!
To the top of the building! To the top of Street Wall!
Now bail away! Bail away! Bail away all!”

As dry dollars that before a financial firestorm fly,
When they meet with the SEC, jet away to the sky;
So up to the building-top that red Hummer it flew,
With bags full of  TARP money and St. Paulson too.

And then, with prostate tingling, I heard on the ceiling,
The posturing and grandstanding of all eight underlings.
As I drew in from my Cuban cigar while turning around,
Right into the Boardroom St. Paulson crashed down.

He was dressed all in Gucci, from his head to John Lobbs,
And his clothes were tarnished with the money he robbed.
A bundle of taxpayer’s cash he had flung across his back,
He looked like a meth dealer furtively opening his pack.

His eyes how they squinted! His breath was so smelly!
His face covered in cash, dirty dollars filled his belly!
He reeked of the federal dollars he had just fleeced,
So slick was his style, his beard covered in grease.

The stump of a fat stogie he clenched tightly in his jaw,
His carbon footprint was huge, it went for miles I saw!
He had a distorted face and belly that he sure spoiled,
It sloshed when he laughed, like a bowlful of crude oil!

He was corpulent and wasteful, a frightening monster,
Had he not had the cash I’dve hit him with my roadster!
With no questions or oversight, the bailout he gave me,
Sarbanes-Oxley is a joke, now of regulations I am free!

He giggled and grunted then went straight to his scheme,
And filled all of the Board’s pockets with the stolen green.
He then turned with a jerk, and stuck a finger up his nose,
And when giving a belch, up through the ceiling he rose!

He staggered to his Hummer, to his team gave “the” finger,
And away they all flew, but long did his stench still linger.
But I heard him yell loudly, as he careened out of sight,
“Happy Bailout to all, and to CEOs a good-night!”

For more information about the “Bailout America” logo, please visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/doctorious/3102369490/

Frequently being on the road driving to and from the classes I teach gives me the opportunity to occasionally see some fairly odd things.

Most often I observe people with strange items in their trunks, on their cars or otherwise in-tow. I’ve learned to never underestimate the creativity (or, in some cases, stupidity) of people when it comes to their cars!

I decided to start documenting as many of these “moments” as possible and aptly title them under the heading of “Junk in Your Trunk.” I will randomly post images as I take them or discover images I took earlier that seem to fit the bill. I am also willing to post photos anyone else takes and sends my way — so feel free to “shoot and send!”

Car Engine on Highway 99 NorthThe photo to the left was taken on Wednesday, August 6, 2008 while I was driving north on highway 99 en route to Bakersfield (where I was teaching at DeVry University later that afternoon).

It is a bit hard to see, but there is a car engine in the trunk of the silver Honda Civic in the foreground! I am unsure why there is a car engine in the trunk, though I was certain it was not the engine powering the car, but there it is!

Note: Unfortunately, the camera in my Palm Centro is adequate, but not always ideal. However, you can click on the photo to see a larger, and slightly clearer, version of the photo.


With graduation ceremonies in full bloom this time of year I felt inspired to resurrect a satirical commencement speech.

eKjoVZqjglI first wrote this in 1997, following a year of working surviving at my first “real job” in the corporate world after completing my BA in English from UC Santa BarbaraYears later, it still seems accurate and relevant (and is hopefully still even just a little bit funny).

Note that my use of parenthesis represents a pseudo-subliminal voice I imagined using while giving the speech — meaning, that the words within them would not be subliminal at all.

 

So, you’re graduating.

You’re about to make the transition from undergraduate (scourge of the academic world) to entry-level employee (scourge of the professional world) with typical, sentimental pageantry. Your family will cry with pride, your friends will smile with happiness, and you will anxiously await the commencement of the incredible future you were promised.

Unfortunately, after a final night of Dionysian revelry, you will awaken to a strange, frightening, and unfriendly world.  A world in which you must sacrifice all you hold dear for a paycheck, a world that strips you of your youthful vigor, a world in which a truck driver is paid more than a teacher, a world in which the glass is always half-empty.

You will become that which you had hoped never to be:  your parents!

Don’t get me wrong, the real world isn’t totally unbearable.  While there is always the potential for success, it will certainly not happen overnight.  It may not even happen after ten years.

And, unlike college, there is no margin for error. The blessing — and curse — of the real world, is that unlike college, there is no schedule to follow, and no way to know if you are around the corner from success, or if you have a long way to go.

However, it never hurts to have a little inside information to help you deal with the slings and arrows of reality. So, in an effort to provide a public service , I thought it may be interesting, or at the very least, mildly amusing, to compare the Pros of graduation with the Cons of the real world.

Pro:  Income. This is the most alluring benefit to graduation.  After years of surviving on ramen, an entire world of material possessions await your purchase.  You can pay your own way and make your own rules!

Con:  Expenses. Unfortunately, once you subtract a retirement contribution; medical co-payment; supplemental insurance; and state, federal, and local taxes, you will be left with very little.  Don’t forget living expenses, car payments, car insurance payments, gas, credit card debt, and the cost of other seemingly insignificant expenditures.  You will soon find yourself left with barely enough money to buy a couple of ties, a package of undershirts, and some dental floss! Don’t throw away that ramen just yet.

Pro:  You will no longer be crammed into tiny classrooms with smelly, annoying people. I can’t count the number of times I was forced to share a room built for 100 people with 150 or more (not including dogs, skateboards, bikes, and other obstacles).  Luckily, after graduation, you will finally rid yourself of these hideous conditions…or so you would think.

Con:  You will be crammed into a tiny cubicle with smelly, annoying people. Welcome to Cubeland!  Please keep your hands and feet within the box at all times, and prepare to speak in a muffled hush for what may feel like the next millennium.  You will be surrounded by fuzzy, four-foot high “walls” that wobble when you sneeze, and amplify anything you may attempt to whisper into your phone or to a co-worker.  Also, don’t be surprised if your phone calls, computer usage, and innermost thoughts, are monitored.

Pro:  No more wasted time. How many hours did you waste sitting in a miniature desk, forced to intellectually interact with responseless, disinterested people, whose idea of learning was to sample different brands of beer during class? How many Teaching Assistants did you have to tolerate as they droned on about the Jacobins and the Girondins or, if you were lucky, something called the “homosocial circle?” Well, new graduate, time is now on your side.

Con:  More wasted time. All right, so I lied.  Prepare for endless meetings — and meetings about meetings!  You will be surrounded by responseless, disinterested people, whose idea of learning was to sample different brands of cream cheese on their bagels at the weekly department meeting. Instead of listening to a Teaching Assistant, you will endure lengthy speeches about teamwork, synergy and, who can forget, having a sense of urgency!  Learn how to sleep with your eyes open.

Pro:  No more collegiate political correctness. During your undergraduate years you were coerced into replacing your standard language with an entirely revised vocabulary.  Let’s call it Unibonics (Political Correctness).  You were forced to intellectually regurgitate words and phrases like colonial imperialism, destructive consumption, capitalist oppression, words ending in “ism” and “geny,” and how could you forget, phallus.  Once you spin the tassel, you can truly expand your mind and cleanse the doors of perception.

Con:  More corporate political correctness. Okay, I lied again.  In our excessively litigious society we are no longer free to think, behave, act, or even ponder as we desire.  And what is the evil word that brought about this Orwellian nightmare?  LIABILITY.  In response to this litigation fascination, you will be subjected to a barrage of rules and regulations.  Everything from sexual harassment policies, to dress code standards that would make Mr. Blackwell proud.  Don’t trust anyone, and remember, if there’s no proof, deny everything.

Pro:  No more obnoxious professors and university employees. How many times have you paitently waited at a university office to settle a dispute, only to be turned away because the clock has struck twelve and everyone is off to lunch?  How many times has a professor treated you like an intellectual inferior, when it is you (or perhaps, your parents) who pay his or her graciously tenured salary?  How many times have the Parking Police cited you unjustly, or just rudely?  Fortunately, after graduation, you can blow a kiss goodbye to these insensitive buffoons.

Con:  More obnoxious supervisors, managers and vice presidents. Once you don your corporate monkey suit, you will become the target of surprisingly sadistic superiors.  While you may get along with your colleagues or even like your supervisor, when it comes to performance reviews, disciplinary action, or other work related issues, your manager is still your manager. Read up on Lao Tzu and prepare for war!

Pro:  No more academic sycophantic antics. From midterms to finals, term papers to homework assignments, it is made clear that your main purpose as an undergrad is to massage the egos of your professors and TAs.  Most professors demand total submission to their ideas, beliefs, and interpretations.  Contradicting them can result in a low, or non-passing grade.  Not surprisingly, most college graduates have never conceived of an original thought.

Con:  More corporate sycophantic antics. As you enter the real world, you will rapidly descend from the noble perch of intellectual investigation to the entirely insipid nadir of utilitarian unrest.  You will lose the ability to develop independent, creative thoughts, and will instead concern yourself with such trivial necessities as dry-cleaning, commuting, Day Planners, project timelines, voice mail, dry-erase boards, life insurance, and the like. Outside of work, you will become content watching television talk shows, the home shopping network, and other senseless drivel.

 

Despite the cynicism of this speech, it is not my intention to submerge your spirits.  Rather, I hope you won’t feel as surprised as was I.

Sure, we all must pay our dues, but that doesn’t mean you have to surrender your soul in the process.  I encourage you to understand and embrace the Stockdale Paradox:

“Retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” 

 

“What I really want to do is direct.” — the Signboard in L.A. Story.

Just like the Signboard in the movie LA Story, homes in Los Angeles also dream of being on television or in the movies. On Friday, March 7, 2008, my home lived this fantasy when part of a commercial for the 2009 Dodge Journey was filmed in my driveway and the street on which my house is located.

The shooting itself took approximately 4 hours — beginning at 7 a.m. and continuing until roughly 11 a.m. The 40 to 50 person  crew was exceptionally efficient and respectful. Had I woken up at noon I would have never even known a commercial had been filmed in front of my home!

2009-dodge-journey-commercial-shaft-filming

Overall it was a positive experience for me and is one I would gladly repeat if asked again to have a commercial filmed at my home. Aside from the uniqueness of the experience (not to mention the $1,500 check the production company gave me), I was appreciate that this event gives me something to discuss in my marketing classes.

The location scout obtained some items that were used to develop the commercial including stroryboards, photos of the car, and even an azimuth bearing chart showing the projected location of the sun on the day of the filming! I will integrate these into my courses as they offer a “real world” framework to help my students better understand the world of advertising.

The commercial was part of Chrysler’s new “If you can dream it, do it” ad campaign which launched on Tuesday, April 8, 2008. One of the largest digital launch strategies in Chrysler LLC history, the campaign showcases the 2009 Dodge Journey’s unique combination of innovative features, versatility and flexibility all available at a great value that can help turn dreams into reality.

The television part of the campaign debuted two general market television ads and two multicultural spots: one targeted at African-Americans and the other for Hispanics. The African-American spots will air on BET, the NBA Playoffs, “Girlfriends” and “Everybody Hates Chris.” Hispanic ads will appear on Telemundo, Univision and Galavision.

The general market spots feature the world’s longest water slide, animated people, a man climbing the ladder of success, and a woman who meets her ideal man after winning over his dog. A third general market spot stars members of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team.

One of these spots, “Shaft,” which targets the African American market, was what was filmed (in part) at my Santa Clarita, CA home. Perhaps an unintentional reference to the “Shaft” movies — ironic, given the target audience of the commercial — the title references the main character “moving up” in life (as if in an elevator shaft), a concept illustrated during the transitions between the three parts of the commercial.

The 30-second spot opens on a man, dressed casually, walking up to his new Dodge Journey parked in front of his modest apartment. As he gets in, the viewer sees the Journey’s interior space and features like Flip ‘n Stow in-seat storage.

As he drives through his neighborhood, the viewer sees the middle part of the frame lift up and doors appear, closing like an elevator until the next scene. The viewer then sees the same driver dressed a bit more professionally, leaving his nicer downtown condo. As before, the middle part of the frame lifts up and doors appear, again closing like an elevator.

2009-dodge-journey-commercial-shaft

In the next scene, the man is driving through a more suburban neighborhood where he pulls up in front of his house. The voiceover says, “The higher you go, the sweeter the journey. Introducing the new crossover that’s ready for anything.” My home is in the very last shot of the ad — the car is parked in my driveway!

The full ad is viewable below via YouTube; you only see the driveway and garage door of my home where the car is parked during the closing seconds of the commercial:

And remember: if you can dream it, do it!