10 November 2009

Vending Maching Marketing in a Bad Economy

Had a very interesting experience yesterday and today.

Since we've moved into our new building at work (October 9th), I hadn't used the food vendo.  It doesn't look as inviting as I think they thought it would and frankly, we had more stuff at the old building.  But I needed something savory to fill the need and I chose a 50¢ bag of T.G.I.Friday's Potato Skins (crisps) - Cheddar and Bacon flavor.

Printed on the package was a teaser that said "Get 5 bucks off your next restaurant visit". I'm normally a skeptic to these tactics as you usually need to accumulate something like 200 bags worth to get that reward, but when I flipped over the bag, there was an actual coupon for $5 off next visit provided I spent $15. Good for dine-in only, not valid on alcoholic bevs.

Now, I haven't been to a T.G.I.Friday's in probably 5 years, but I'm sure that between two people, you can hit $15 without blinking an eye. To boot, the coupon is good for a YEAR (through October 31, 2010)

So that's quite a return on investment for a bag of chips.  But the story doesn't end here.

Without really thinking about it, I passed by the vendo again this morning and just took out 50¢ more and bought another bag.  Part of me quite liked them from yesterday and part of me wanted another $5 coupon to share with friends.  But when the bag dropped and I pulled it out of the jaws of death machine, there was no coupon.

I stood bewildered wondering what the heck happened and felt a real sense of loss.  I looked back into the machine and noticed that there was a bag with the teaser tag about three behind.

In the elevator back up to the sixth floor I started analyzing the whole scenario from a Market Researcher's point of view.
  • Does the vending company purposely put those bags every nth bag in the machine to drive multiple purchase? (or do they even notice it since usually these are just guys slapping product into machines)
  • Does T.G.I.Friday's distribution/logistics group only put x-number of bags in each carton that goes to vendo companies?
  • It seems that this promo might actually just drive someone to buy more product versus driving someone to dine-in, thus driving bigger sales.  IS TGIF okay with that or would they consider that a failure.
  • Is the year expiration date just driven by the cycle of how long it takes the product to be consumed after production?
  • Does TGIF realize that they do not serve this product specifically in their stores?
  • Are they trying this strategy on their frozen products that you can buy and make at home or would the perceived value of $5 just be an off-set of the price paid for those products?
  • Since there is a coupon code on there, I assume they are tracking redemption.  So how is it going?
Of course, I also realize that the ROI on my bag of chips from yesterday dropped a bit since I've now spent $1 but it has made me think about going back and trying them.  If anything, they've raised my awareness level and almost have driven me to try them again and that, in my business, is a step in the right direction.  If you have no relevance to me, then you have no chance of ever getting my brand loyalty, so kudos!!

to clarify: It's not that I don't like them, in fact, I do but we don't eat much at these kinds of places lately, it's just not part of the decision process right now.

17 October 2009

Damn, Heroes Jumped the Shark

Well, they did lose me last season, but Heroes on NBC jumped the shark.

Claire (hero who can immediately heal herself) has violated her Dad's ("HRG", Horn-rimmed glasses) wishes and taken on a friend AND divulged her "secret power".

The friend is enamored with Claire and is starting to show up every place Claire goes and OF COURSE they just had to kiss.

So the character that every nerd/geek/ComicCon attendee lusts after but would never have a chance with in a million years, kissed another girl (but did she like it? ...katy perry)

Most jumping the shark moments come with the addition of a dorky new family member or a move of the entire cast to a new city.  But with Heroes, well, they exist globally to begin with so they really only had a few options here and with ratings falling off miserably, they went with the girl-on-girl action to whip everyone's pocket protector into a frenzy.

And NBC knows this was hack because they've even posted THIS on their website which gives you EVERY camera angle of the kiss!!  Seriously.

It's a shame really because it was a good show and now, well, they're reaching to try to stay relevant.   **click** that was me punching new channel buttons on my remote.


Easing into our new office building is almost like dating a new girl.  Every day is a new adventure, there's plenty of nooks & crannies to investigate and some days you just get slapped in the face because of something you say.

As I was leaving on Tuesday, I got into the elevator that goes to the underground parking structure and hit P2 (bottom floor).  As I did, a woman told me that I should have hit it with my pinky finger or with my jacket as "that whole thing is just full of people's germs".

In the 20 seconds our trip took she continued to school me on how we all need to do our share, blah blah blah...

Since we're still in the early stages of this new building "relationship" I bit my tongue and just nicely told her to have a good evening, but what I really wanted to respond with (and I DID..in my head) would have gone something like this...

"Lady, I've touched a butt-load of elevator buttons in my 43 years on this Earth and I'm still standing here next to you.  The days of the bubonic plague are over, there's this stuff called medicine that really does an amazing job of curing what ails you.  If you want to go around living your life in fear, feel free, but don't bother trying to 'save' me, I'm doing pretty well."

Look, I totally understand that the H1N1 is out there and that this stuff is serious, but I think the entertainews that we are all fed on a daily basis really has been blowing this stuff up into a plague that is never going to come.

The rules for germs haven't changed in hundreds of years and we've gotten much smarter about them.  Wash your hands WELL, take precautions around others who are sick, eat well, and if you're feeling horrible, call your doctor or seek other medical attention.

Phew, got that off my chest.  Hey, what's that rash next to my belly button?

01 October 2009

Why I'm against Chicago 2016

I've been ripping on the Chicago 2016 efforts since they first started and although I've shared my views with some, why not post it for the world to see?

What you need to understand about my views on this are that if "we" win or lose, it really won't change my personal life one bit.  I'm not actively campaigning against the bid, and won't be crestfallen if we win OR lose.  But I believe this shows, once again, that the public can be goaded into supporting even the most idiotic ideas if they are packaged up in slick marketing and salesmanship.

What I can't stand is that everyone keeps talking about "we" with respect to these efforts and the bid.  Who really are the "we" that benefit from winning the games?

As has been said thousands of times both from the group making the pitch as well as in the press, they are planning on not spending $1 of tax money on the Olympics.  It's a private enterprise.

Now, it's interesting that in order to even stay in competition, the IOC forces host cities/countries to sign a pledge that has massive back-up plans for financing including dipping into public monies.  This is because the IOC has to have a guarantee at profit for themselves in order for this to happen.  This is why there was a huge uproar when Mayor Daley had to sign it when he was last in front of the IOC when Chicago made the final four.  He signed it without getting the backing of the City Council or the Cook County Board FIRST which ultimately is against all of those taxing bodies rules.  Checks & Balances be damned, we need this, right?

So let me get back to the elephant in the room.  It's a private enterprise.  Whether claiming to be a non-profit or not, this means that if awarded, the private company can hire/employee/contract with whomever it wants.  Frankly, if I ran a business, I'd want the same and I do not fault the 2016 group one bit, as it's their money they are putting forward.

But as a private enterprise, who then gets the economic benefit?  Won't all profits that come in from the Olympics go back into the private enterprise to cover expenses?

There's lots of talk when these bids take place about the economic benefit to the host city/nation.  I've been to Barcelona and still see the buildings from 1992 standing, some being used, some not.  I'm sure for a small country or one who needs infrastructure, being awarded the games because it's the government pitching for it DOES mean that there will be benefit to the hosts.

Supporters will claim that there will be construction and improvements but the physical changes are not many in the case of Chicago. We have current venues for most activities and the main venue that would be used for the opening and closing ceremonies has been said to be a temporary one and will be taken down after the games.  I question whether the much needed improvements to transportation will truly happen and if they do, why did we need the games to justify them?  Ridership is down, bus and train lines are being cut left and right and the El trains are horribly old and dangerous. If they haven't been important enough for the City to raise capital to repair for the 6 million plus natural inhabitants, why would they be for the games?  The Olympic village for the athletes isn't really as big as people think and will be turned into housing which will be sold for a profit, it will be of no public use after that.

But lets get to the mythical huge influx of money that is always bandied about along with massive increases in tourism to the city both before and after the games.  As Rick Bayless said the other day on Twitter, "I worked the LA games and it killed business.  Locals left,  visitors actually eat and spend money at event sites".  He's seen it first hand and later predicts the same will happen here in Chicago.

So once again, even food and beverage spend go back into the private enterprise which hands out contracts to only the closely guarded few.  The only benefit I can realistically see is the sales tax and luxury tax that is collected (or should be) on hotel rooms and whatever else is sold.  Given we have the highest sales & luxury taxes in the nation this will be somewhat significant, but I challenge anyone to quantify or even be able to parse out this impact on a City or County budget sheet for 2016.

As for the increases in tourism, BAH!  Chicago has been a destination city for YEARS thanks to the improvements and changes already made over the years.  In spite of losing some conventions due to the high taxes and fees for McCormick Place, people still come to this city and have lots of fun.  We don't need the Olympics to change this or stimulate it, it's already happening in the third largest city of the United States.

So for all the ham-and-eggers who on the streets tomorrow at Daley Plaza for the anticipated celebration, ask yourself what benefit you truly will get if we win this?  The benefits are for the well-connected and few (as they tend to be in Chicago since the 1800's!!).  Tickets to events are always difficult to get and will be scalped on StubHub like nobody's business but for the weak dollar, visitors will happily pay whatever it costs.  T-shirts & trinkets will be marked up to a ridiculous level and you personally really won't benefit from this other than saying you live in the City that is hosting the games.

In the end, there is nothing different between this Olympic Bid and our professional sports teams.  Sure, they love you wearing their merchandise, spending money on their team, eating and drinking in their venues, and painting your faces to show your support, but in the end, it's a business and one that has to make money for those who "own" it.  They count on your passion and in fact have kept priming you for it to make you think you actually will benefit but you are merely a passenger.  If you're super-excited to be that, then good on ya' and enjoy, but don't call me a hater if I don't join the crowd.

30 September 2009

The Middle (on ABC)

So the "remake fever" that has totally infected the Hollywood Big Screen (isn't almost everything a remake lately?  Creativity has pretty much died) has now H1N1'd its way onto the small screen.

We watched The Middle tonight on ABC.  Wow, what a piece of cr@p. 

But it's only that bad because its a direct rip-off of Malcolm in THE MIDDLE ("MitM") that ran on Fox from 2000-2006.  In almost a hat-tip to Malcolm, the writers have the Mom's name on The Middle is named FRANKIE (Malcolm was played by actor Frankie Muniz).

Is the American viewing public that stupid?  Oh, yeah, we are.  Feel free to click on the links of the actors names that follow and even see how their headshots look alike to a point.

The youngest child on MitM was Dewey (nice name, wrong spelling) but awkward kid with big ears.  The Middle has Rick, who they call Brick and who is an awkward kid with big ears.
The new "twist" for The Middle is that there is a daughter who is a collosal failure at everything but the show doesn't focus on her, as it does for Malcolm.  The show basically focuses (at least in the Pilot) on the Mother since frankly, she's making the most money out of this cast given her Everybody Loves Raymond success.

Appearances by SNL alums Chris Kattan and Brian Doyle-Murray don't help save this show.  There WERE funny moments, but I can't get MitM out of my head when watching this, its just too close that's pretty weak from ABC.

While I'm at it, Modern Family (also on Wednesday Night ABC) is looking like it's going down the Arrested Development (also showed on Fox) route already.

If I'm Rupert Murdoch (and thank god I'm not) I'd make sure the viewing public knows that these are just a tad too similar.  Although even Rupert can figure out that these shows should be showing up in Seattle Grace's ER with barely a sign of life in the next 5 weeks.

27 September 2009

What bad economy?

Gas prices dropped to $2.399 today near my house.  To say it was a little "thick" with vehicles around the pumps today would be an understatement. 

Because I participate in the Speedy Rewards program, I also had a coupon for $0.50 off per gallon PLUS, if you used your Speedy Rewards card, you got $0.05 off (only on weekends in September).  So yes, I filled up for $1.849 today, and I was almost on fumes so 20 gallons to boot

Party like it's 2000, woo hoo!!!

The other week, the Federal Reserve was all but calling this "recession" to an end.  Wow, I remember when economic swings lasted for years, not "months".

So I'm wondering if the economy is following some sort of reverse version of a Moore's Law trend.  Do we continually recover from economic "dings" in double the amount of speed? (err, in half the time from the previous ding)

I'm still greatly concerned for our country.  You can't just blame Obama.  For the last 20 years we've slowly turned from a country that produced a huge portion of what we, and the world, consumed into one that mostly just consumes what other countries are providing. 

No amount of bail-out, financial support, or printing of cash is going to change that tide.  "Buy American" is a nice rally cry, but alas, what is there to buy anymore that IS American?  Yes, I know there are some things (frankly big ticket items like cars, Real Estate, and US tourism), but the everyday consumption has slowly eroded.

No matter which political party you support (and wouldn't it be nice if there were more than two??), you cannot feel comfortable with the course we're on.  Tax & Spend or Spend then Tax, they are both wrong.

13 September 2009

Passing on Tradition

I'm sure everyone has this sort of story, but I'll share mine.

There is something visceral when sharing certain experiences with your offspring. Usually the ones that hit you right in the gut are those that you probably shared with your parents or grandparents and involve deep emotional feelings.

On Saturday, we brought Aidan to his first Cubs game and although this is at an age MUCH younger than I attended MY first game (he's 21 mos, I was 6) the emotions I felt at times had me on the edge of tears. I'm sure that when we take him to more games as he gets older some of these feeling will resurface as he'll be talking more, understanding more, asking more and enjoying more.

We have the typical shot of us in front of the big Wrigley sign and something that no one could have shared back in the day, a picture of him on his official Wrigley brick!

Although many things have changed at Wrigley, the basics still remain. You don't walk through turnstiles anymore and your ticket doesn't get ripped, but with him in my arms walking through the main entrance at Clark and Addison, I did flash back to walking through that same gate with my Grandfather throughout the early 70's.

Getting there early enough to watch some part of batting practice never gets old. Once we settled in and found our seats (we weren't in our normal season tickets as we only have two seats and we needed more), I grabbed him and walked down, as close as we could get, to behind the Cubs dugout. The Reds were taking batting practice.

As we weaved our way down we did come upon a very elderly lady who was an usher (they were Andy Frain's back in the day) who saw Aidan and pulled a Cubs sticker out of her kit and gave it to us. Totally nice effort and since he loves stickers, well, made him all excited, and kudos to Mary Kay for getting the pictures of this from a distance!

We couldn't get all the way down to the wall, but we stood there for about 10 minutes and watched. I pointed out the ball coming off the bat and could see Aidan following it after he sort of figured out what was going on. One of the Fanfoto people came by and asked to take our picture. These people didn't exist back in the day and frankly, after looking at their prices, I'm amazed that they exist now. Talk about highway robbery, jeesh.

Holding him, I did flash back to about 1972 when I have a picture of me standing down on the wall, with Ernie Banks behind me. With the autograph hounds of today, those pictures are pretty difficult to arrange, plus, now that most all games are sellouts, well, you just fight a bigger number of people to get there. 1972 wasn't a bad year for the Cubs (finished 2nd in the East but 11 games back!!), however, after the disaster of '69, the average attendances were down overall and you could move pretty freely around the park.

It'll be fun at some point watching Aidan stand against the wall (or fight his way in) to get a look at whomever is in the Cubbie blue at that time.

Well, Aidan's experience had to be relatively typical so he had a little bit of hot dog, some cotton candy and some ice cream in a helmet-bowl. It was the first time he ever had cotton candy and the expressions on his face and his reactions were once in a lifetime types of things. He squealed with excitement as it liquefied on his tongue and he found out that everything sort of turns blue when eating it, from hands to mouth to drool.

We took a trip down to the gift shop where he got his first mini-bat and official ball. He really wanted to play with them however we knew it wouldn't be long before he threw the ball or hit someone with the bat, so we had to stifle that until later.

He did hit a wall though by about the 6th inning. He was very tired and as the Cubs mounted their comeback from five runs down, as the crowd yelled, he got a little scared. I just looked at him and told him that it was "happy happy" and he seemed to process that pretty well although he was scared a little bit.

We stood and sang the 7th inning stretch, which was performed that day by The Fray. It didn't matter who was singing, just holding Aidan and singing it while he sort of swayed back and forth in my arms was worth a million on its own. The singing must have worked a little bit as the Cubs got two more runs to tie it up in the bottom of the 7th.

Unfortunately, Aidan faded as fast as any of the arms in the bullpen and we were outta there in flash during the 8th inning. Thankfully too, as Carlos Marmol blew it with 2 outs in the top of the 9th letting in the deciding two runs from the Reds. Aidan probably would have heard bad words from Daddy at that point.  But isn't that sort of the true Cubs experience?  Of course only followed by the phrase "We'll get 'em tomorrow".

The whole day went by so fast and as he crashed in his carseat and fell fast asleep on the way home, my insides felt all warm and gooey. It was fun, but admittedly this first time was more for Mommy and Daddy to bring him.

Until he's a bit older and can truly understand it, it probably will continue to be for "us", but I firmly believe that you are shaped by the experiences you have in your life. For this not-yet two-year old, well, he's had a hell of a year of experiences and this just rounded out that list for now.

28 August 2009

Unfortunate Lame-osity

Once again I'm fascinated by someone who is driving in front of me on the way to work.

In Illinois, you can get a special plate by being an organ donor and because he worked until he died speaking about organ donation, the plates are in honor of Walter Payton, Hall of Fame Chicago Bear running back.  They look like this:

So I'm driving behind this guy thinking how nice it is that he's an organ donor but I'm just mystified by the personalization of his plate.

It reads RX 8.

For about three minutes I'm sitting there thinking, "Why the hell would a guy get plates and salute Rex Grossman"?  Rex wore #8 and thankfully is now with the Houston Texans.

Who in their right mind goes the distance and gets a plate with a hat tip to Sexy Rexie?  Probably the same guy who bought a Cubs Garciaparra shirt (and that's a lot of idiots)

I just want to find a way to pull up next to this guy and ask him what the hell he was thinking and then as I get closer to his car, it hits me like a brick being dropped from an overpass.  The dude is driving a Mazda RX-8!

Maybe I'm the only guy in the world who would make this mistake, but with Rex still fresh in all of our minds (quickly disappearing the more we see of Cutler), I bet I'm not the only Bear fan who has seen this and done the same thing.

So is this guy a victim of unfortunate lame-osity?  (go ahead, I know you all want to say that I AM!)

25 August 2009

My newest $1,000,000 idea

Yep, once again, I post a meeeeeelion dollar idea on the public interwebby for anyone to steal.

4 simple letters: IGCS: The International Gelato Certification Society

I'm am SO sick and tired of stores, restaurants and every Tom, Dick & Harry (ooh err) calling the frozen messes that they are humping, GELATO. It's not, it's ice cream or some weak-ass attempt at it.

You can call me a "fancy man" because I've been to Italy twice. Yet, although my Yelp profile carries the moniker "Best Knife & Fork Man in the 630/331 Area Code", I'm pretty darn qualified to be an objective judge on foods that come from yonder as well, and gelato is definitely one of them.

There is just something so insanely rich, fatty and flavorful from ANY gelateria you visit in Italy that once you have it, you're ruined for life. It's SO good, that without writing them down, I remembered EACH shop which were our favorites in Rome and walked right into them on our second visit.

Of course, as most of you know how my brain works, it was the one at that one end of Piazza Navona, named after some brothers and that one right to the right side of the Pantheon (as you're looking at the entrance). Just stick with me and you'll be wolfing it down in no time. There's also that one on the one end of the Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence as well.

So these are my qualifications. In fact, these branch out into incredible chocolate cannolis in Taormina (Sicily) and wickedly thick Chocolate de la taza in Barcelona so I sense "offshoot" Societies once the IGCS is up and established.

The Mission of the IGCS is simple. Enforce long-established quality control standards and recipes for gelato. Set the bar properly so that even when a mullet-wearing hillbilly tastes it, he knows that this ain't no 31 flavors stuff. If you fail, you will NOT be allowed to call it as such. If you succeed, you get our special certification seal which tells anyone in the world that your product is authentic and cuts the mustard. Of course, there's fees for someone to EARN this certification just as one would have for ISO9000 or Six Sigma, etc.

We'd be sort of the "Kosher" approval for gelato. Think of it... you've gotta admit, this is genius and I would HOPE that all Italian gelateria shoppe owners would appreciate this so that their products are upheld as the ones to shoot for.

Lead news story analysis

Yesterday I happened to be near a television at 5:00 to see that CBS2Chicago lead with the Michael Jackson homicide story. What I found interesting, appalling, but yet, not surprising is that the local anchors threw the coverage over to their source at Entertainment Tonight.

One COULD theorize that local news people just aren't going to have the insight or time to cover such a huge story and that by going to CBS/Viacom's experts (albeit a tabloid entertainment show), they are providing the raw coverage that is needed. OR one could say that this stuff is making Walter Cronkite spin in his nice and shiny new grave.

I just had to see what NBC5 and ABC7 were leading with and so my fingers moved quickly across the remote.

NBC lead with the final remnants of Hurricane Bill up the Canadian coast and ABC led with the local story about an Alderman's son-in-law getting murdered. NBC used stringer footage from some Canadian news agency and ABC was, well, local.

I know we have no control other than to stop watching so their ratings drop, but this isn't an argument about liberal media bias either. It's just crap management of a newsroom. CBS Chicago has been struggling mightily over the last couple of years (how they've stayed ahead of NBC is really staggering). You'd think the network that was driven by Don Hewitt would respect those roots since he TOO is freshly planted, but no.

HOWEVER, we all sit here and scream that we want integrity in the media, but yet, if they even SHOW that they have even an OUNCE it, they just get beaten to death in the ratings by the 24 hour stations and then the next level of TMZ/ET/E!/AccessHollywood. It's a no-win and we as viewers are just as much to blame. I don't know the answer, for if I did, I certainly wouldn't be working my day gig.

24 August 2009

Did you hear Brett Favre is back??

I know I promised this over a week ago, but alas, it took a long time to go through all of the quality humor that this country puts out.

Here's a list of great Tweets about the Purple-helmeted warrior, Brett Favre with all credits, misspellings & horrible grammar. Enjoy:

@SteveDahlShow: I was kind of hoping that Brett Favre would just stay home and podcast.

@ttep: Which Twin Cities school will soon be named Brett Favre Elementary?

@dtmb: Brett Favre is like a sunburn--you're convinced in won't happen, then it does and it hurts to watch, then afterwards it flakes.

@MarkMoheInitzky: Brett Favre is like that turd that won't flush...

@nawlinsboy: I wish Sarah Palin would explain to Brett Favre what the word 'quit' is suppose to mean.

@audra_mae: Brett Favre can suck my (euphemism for male appendage). That is if i had one.

@cjbbush: is amused how angry all her friends in Wisconsin are over the Brett Favre news...

@dxna: Brett Favre is hellbent on changing his legacy from incredible NFL QB to over the hill athlete who can't walk away

@Africanlegn: Brett Favre loves to play football and y'all are haters. U shud call 1800 IMA HATER and register! Favre has returned more times that Christ!

@caitercat: Know when to say when...This means YOU, Brett Favre.

@BurnsEnt: Wow, Brett Favre is back. Next thing someone will say is that there is a crisis in the Middle East.....

@sportsguy33: BREAKING NEWS: John Madden hears Brett Favre is coming back and says "holy turducken I've gotta come back too!" (Jk but....)

@redwristband: Wishing I had 5 bucks for every Brett Favre post on twitter and facebook this week...I could retire rich...smile

@klarize: Wtf?! brett favre is like a zit that never goes away faaaaaack

@Scott217: On today's 'How can we miss you if you don't go away' page, Mr. Brett Favre (headed to MN) Sheesh.

@Marshall_Evans: Brett Favre, please retire! You're tainting my memory of you. Although I'm sure Michael Jordan appreciates it.

@joshuaduboff: This just in, he hasn't even played a down yet but Brett Favre has already been credited with an interception.

@pi8you: officially dubs Brett Favre as HE WHO CANNOT BE NAMED. Next up, Brett Favre: Cthulhu spawn?

@clairemdickman: pssh brett favre ...

@jamesebriggs: Brett Favre unretires again, returns to NFL. Related announcement coming soon from John Madden, who just rediscovered his reason for living.

@steveohville: i like my news consolidated, so i'm hoping Brett Favre goes on a dog killing spree while hopped up on steroids and debating healthcare.

@duckofalltrades: When I retire, I'm going out Brett Favre style. No I'm not. Yes I am. No I'm not. Yes I am. No I'm not. Yes I am. No I’m not.

@PinkishClaud: Can anyone tell Favre that the older you get the easier it is to break your bones? (maybe he forgot..you know..altzheimer and stuff!!)

@dstieber: November 1st...Brett Favre will know what it feels like to have an entire state hate him

@sportspickle: Reports: Brett Favre Considering a Return to His Wife's Vagina: (Duey Note: This, of course, would have been funnier to say his MOTHER’S vajayjay…)

@rachelmello: Okay football fans ... anyone else annoyed with Brett Favre ... go to your retirement community in Florida already and leave us alone!!!

@sportsguy33: New nickname for Brett Favre: "VD." We can't get rid of him.

@stevez33: Fact: Brett favre has now retired twice in 11 months and has not missed a single game lol

@tshirthell: Brett Favre is now a Viking. Well, he's not actually a Viking, but there's no team whose mascot is a giant douche.

@areofilm: Now I know why Brett Favre throws so many interceptions. The man has lost all sense of what to do. Good luck with that Vikings.

@omarg: Brett Favre lunch: Order sandwich. Send back sandwich. Order again. 2 bites. Send sandwich back. Leave. Return. Order sandwich

@Lizzs_lockeroom: Favre is meeting Prince tonight to purify himself in Lake Minnetonka

@wingoz: Brett favre changes his mind..again. In similar news...the sun rose in the east..and humans need oxygen to breathe

@passepartout: Oh, happy day! MORE Brett Favre stories will smother the local media again. What ninnies newspeople are. C'mon. Enough!

@thenflchick: Dear Brett Favre, thank you for un retiring. I can practice in peace. Signed, Michael Vick

@bpabich: Never thought I'd be so looking forward to seeing Brett Favre sacked. Repeatedly. Seriously - what a petulant child.

It's gonna be an interesting season in the NFC Norris!!

09 August 2009

50 Bands I've Seen In My Lifetime

50 Concerts

OK, here are the rules. Test your memory and your love of live music by listing 50 artists or bands (or as many as you can remember) you've seen in concert. List the first 50 acts that come into your head. An act you saw at a festival and opening acts count, but only if you can't think of 50 other artists. Oh, and list the first concert you ever saw (you can remember that, can’t you)?

These aren't in order although the first two ARE the first two I ever attended (same night).

1. Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods (1974, Walt Disney World, and they opened for #2)
2. K.C. & the Sunshine Band
3. Jimmy Cliff (very special show at Summerfest in 1987!)
4. John Mellencamp (about 28 times now, at least)
5. Maroon 5
6. Tom Jones
7. Winger (3 times)
8. Faster Pussycat
9. Cinderella
10. Poison (3 times)
11. The Rolling Stones (at least 4 times)
12. U2 (did see them back in the Aragon Ballroom days & also at Allstate Arena)
13. AC/DC (first time was JUST this past December 2008)
14. KISS (always with make-up ON, and about 5 times)
15. Sly & Robbie (hardcore Reggae guys)
16. Van Halen (Monsters of Rock Tour, 1988 @ Alpine Valley, first Sammy Hagar tour)
17. BoDeans (have seen about 25 times, but saw them as a $300 band playing at Marquette)
18. Violent Femmes (same as BoDeans, and actually worked Security for them once)
19. Tracey Chapman
20. 10,000 Maniacs
21. Spyro Gyra
22. Pat Metheny Group
23. Joan Jett
24. Smokey Robinson
25. Billy Squier
26. Ratt
27. The Kinks
28. Ted Nugent
29. Skid Row (but without Sebastian Bach)
30. Greg Kihn Band (Jeopardy song)
31. Eddie Money
32. Tommy Shaw (solo, after he left Styx in the 80's)
33. Pink Floyd (their last ever show on US Soil in 1994 at the Meadowlands, NJ)
34. Steve Winwood
35. Level 42
36. Andy Williams (Christmas special show in 1987)
37. John Hiatt (he actually OPENED for BoDeans at Summerfest)
38. Buddy Guy (Susan Tedeschi opened)
39. Bruce Hornsby & the Range
40. Savoy Brown
41. Koko Taylor (probably 10 times)
42. Head East
43. Scorpions
44. Dokken (2 times)
45. Metallica (3 times)
46. Sister Hazel
47. Buckwheat Zydeco
48. Blue Oyster Cult (spent 4 days on the road with them when I was working in the Entertainment biz. My job was to give them their check before they went on each night, kinda cool)
49. Foghat
50. Thin Lizzy
51. Blues Traveler
52. Those X-Cleavers (had one national hit but mostly played the Delta Chi parties & basement)

I can keep going actually because from 1985-1999 I'd live at least 5-9 days a summer at Milwaukee's Summerfest, but most of my brain cells are likely deadened from those days. If only I had saved all of the ticket stubs from these shows.

30 July 2009

UPDATED: Response from Wrigley about previous post

As I mentioned in my last post, I contacted Levy Restaurant Group about what I heard at the last Cubs game we went to.

Today, I received a very nice call from a young lady in Wrigley's HR department who told me that Levy had forwarded it on, that she read my blog post, that certainly they were not happy with hearing about it and not what they wanted at Wrigley.

I let her know that although I wasn't of that religion, I didn't know about the folks who he said it to, but that it just wasn't something we needed to be hearing at Wrigley.

She said that they'd be taking care of it.

Now, I don't know what that means and given that I believe the beer guys are members of the SEIU, not sure if anything other than a reprimand or mandated days off will come of it. But I hope Richard appreciates that we will NOT "all get along" until everyone stops with racist or anti-semitic comments and behaviors.

26 July 2009

Harvard Professor vs Beer Vendor

So, for the last week or so we've heard quite a lot about Professor Henry Louis Gates and everything that happened with his arrest.

Most of the news has centered around the African-American outrage at continual issues with police forces around the country. I've continued to keep an open mind at hearing both sides' account of the incident and frankly, as with anything, there's two sides and then there's the truth. No one, but those present in Gates' house (I think a total of 3 people) knows what EXACTLY went down. Every other pundit is just that, a pundit who, within hours of the story are retelling it as if there were standing in Cambridge for the actual event.

Racism is alive and well in this country. Electing Barack Obama as President has not changed that and likely won't change it since it's behavior that is rooted in people's experiences either positive or negative with those who are different to themselves.

What I say next is not meant to open a debate on the issue (please don't), but just share what I heard in the row behind me at this past Saturday's Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds game. The fans behind us were great. None of them were from Chicago or Cincinnati but found themselves new to Chicago with jobs after college. They were there just to enjoy a game in historic Wrigley Field. In fact, they wanted to do everything that was patently Wrigley while there were there.

One of those experiences is having an Old Style beer (if you're of legal drinking age). I don't believe you can buy Old Style in any other ballpark in Major League Baseball. I remember Old Style logos on the scorecards bought for me by my Grandfather in the early 1970's and still today, it's available for the incredible price of $6.50 per 16 oz. cup. But Old Style IS the Cubs.

We noticed all day that it seemed like there weren't enough beer vendors in the upper deck. Frankly it's been like that all year long. I guess Aisle 424 isn't known as a "big money" aisle for the beer vendors so they just don't seem to come around frequently enough. The group behind me patiently waited and finally, they were able to flag down an Old Style guy. He only had two left and they needed four. They still bought them and he promised to be "right back" to complete their order. He was a really charismatic fellow and made quite an impression on the group. They tipped him and reminded him to come back and he promised he would. He talked about how with the Cubs back on a winning streak, and the beautiful weather, that Chicagoans had been waiting for, for months, that they were as busy as they had ever been.

But he didn't show up again for over two innings. Still charismatic, the group engaged him in a little bit of ribbing for not coming back so soon. It was at this point that Richard, vendor 2613, selling Old Style beer and who happened to be an African-American leaned in, right behind my head and tried to whisper (poorly),

"Let me tell you, and I'm just being honest here, we only have four guys to sell beer up here today. It's the Jewish guys. They all gotta have off Friday and Saturday and it just kills us. Don't get me wrong, I make more money on those days but it sure makes it tough since they have to take off for being Jewish."

I nearly spit out my Diet Pepsi all over the guy in front of me's head. I just couldn't believe that a guy whose income depends on getting tips and selling product would make that comment KNOWING that others would hear it. No, take that back, I couldn't believe that a guy who works for Levy Restaurants, contracted by the Chicago Cubs, would even think about uttering an anti-semitic remark in the stands to fans.

Cub fans are accused of many things. Some of them well-earned, some not, but vendors, no matter their life's experiences, need to shut their mouths of their personal beliefs and do their jobs. The group behind me just wanted to buy beers, not be treated to one person's issues with a given group.

So yes, we have a long way to go with racism and antisemitism in this country, and it's not just one or two races who suffer, it's religions, beliefs and economics. I doubt it will ever go away 100%, but I'm just shocked at hearing things from people who are themselves, subject to these same crimes against our senses.

I have written a letter to the Levy group and do not know if it will be acted upon. But I hope I never hear this again at Wrigley. I'll be watching for Richard and hoping that he doesn't share these thoughts of his at every Friday and Saturday home Cubs games. Full house or not, seats will slowly empty with attitudes like that and frankly, I hope he never finds himself a victim of hatred because I'd be hard-pressed to feel for him.

20 July 2009

Healthy Choices? yeah, um, not!

Too funny.

First of all, back in the 90's I worked on the market research project that tracked the launch of Lunchables by Oscar Mayer (now Kraft-Oscar Mayer) and I remember even then, the concerns by survey respondents over the health quality of processed lunch meats and cheeses being given to the "kids". Of course, these things exploded and a successful, long-term line of products was born.

So today I found myself confronted with choosing either the Basics Ham & Swiss w/Ritz regular crackers OR the Basics Turkey & Cheddar w/Ritz wheat crackers.

Given my culinary debauchery over the last four days (see my Facebook or Yelp! reviews for the artery clogging folly that yours truly endulged in), I chose the Turkey, Cheddar and Wheat. The person standing next to me choose the Ham, Swiss & regular.

Just for my own edification, I asked to see the Nutrition Facts and oh gee, there's virtually no difference. In fact, as a Market Researcher, there's no statistically significant difference at probably a 99% confidence level!!!

But hey, the package is 100% recyclable, so I got THAT going for me, which is nice.

At least I didn't drive the Wienermobile into a house last week!!

14 July 2009

Geez, Blog often?

I know I've been absent from the blogosphere but that's because there's a lot going on at work lately. Although I've become somewhat of a Master Tweeter (yeah, insert joke here), taking time to write down some fun thoughts, share my opinions or attempt to start a fight have had to take a back seat.

Between work stuff and personal stuff, well, you gotta take care of the stuff that pays the bills and makes you happiest. Most people who know me know that my A-D-D usually kicks in and I'm scattered quite a bit, so going almost a month without a post really shouldn't be a surprise to anyone now, is it?

If you could see behind the blog walls of Duey's Brain you'd see several (six) unfinished "draft" posts, some of which would probably create big issues, and I think that's why Twitter has become so attractive to me. 140 characters of my A-D-D brain spilt out quickly and painlessly. Twitter was almost MADE for my twisted skull. Of course, if you know me, you know I can be well, a bit too verbose and again, I think that's why I love Twitter. It's getting me to think in fractions and to be "me" faster and quicker than I've ever been.

I guess my longer term goal of becoming an Internet celebrity will continue to be way-laid by "life", which honestly, is fine. Who the hell wants a 43-year old Internet Celebrity anyway? Not me!

I'm sure as more work stuff sorts itself out over the next months, I'll get back to frequently posts. Honestly, I've felt guilty as I have a kernel of a thought but just lose it in the moment and can't get somewhere to blog it.

Anyway, enough about me justifying what happens to 95% of the blogs on the Internet. You'll hear more eventually, but for now rest at mind that:
  1. Still hoping the Cubs close the deal and that the new owners clean the OF house.
  2. Still hoping the Cubs close the deal and that the new owners clean out the bullpen.
  3. Still hoping that the Economy jump starts itself so that we can all breathe a little easier around the Advertising/Market Research world (and well every industry).
  4. Still hoping that my 25th High School Reunion runs smoothly as I'm on the committee.
Up, up, and away!

23 June 2009

John & Kate + 8 + 2 attorneys + child support + psychiatrists

I don't even watch this program, but unfortunately no one can escape the endless fascination by "news" channels covering the "big announcement" last night.

Look, these people will have to live in the hell that they created on their own, so who am I to add in my 2 cents? I'm Duey's Brain, that's the hell who!

But Kate, if it truly IS all about the kids, then you should realize that the real problem isn't your spineless husband, it's your obsession with being on TV and being a "celebrity" (in only the true fashion that Patty Blagojevich is finding herself in). Tell TLC to go piss up a rope and leave you house/life immediately and work on your marriage. That simple act would show more about how much you truly care for your kids than anything else you can do.

The problems between you and John likely would have existed if the cameras WEREN'T there, but they've only increased the attention and pressure on them and made them more difficult. THAT'S the real problem here. Why don't YOU grow a set and give up the "fame" to keep your family together?

And John, you grow a set and act like a man!

13 June 2009

Thin the herd - Digital Transition of TV

When last blogging about this issue, I had THOUGHT the move by the current administration to move the date had failed but of course, it didn't.

So, about 12 hours ago, the analog signals were cut and those who have done nothing are not getting their "programs" and probably are screaming bloody murder, banging on the sides of their sets, blaming Obama and calling the TV stations to complain.

I just read this article and only have this to say to Patricia Bruchalski who, by her own words "When you're alone like me, that's my partner." If you depend on this SO much and you supposedly call it your "partner", are you THAT dense that you've ignored the PSAs that have been running for oh, TWO YEARS?!! Almost once a week for the last 5 months, the NEWS has been running tests so that you know whether or not you'll be affected.

It's nice that someone, once again, probably bailed you out, but seriously, how much money was spent on the last 2.5-5.0% (according to Nielsen) of the public? Unfortunately our government runs on the same mentality when it comes to social programs most of the time.

I realize that Patricia is 82 and that we should treat our elders nice, but at some point, there's a point of diminishing returns and money needs to stop being spent to support the group that's left.

We make these judgments all the time in my line of work. If it's going to cost 200x the amount of a normal interview to get the last 2 people then we just stop hemorrhaging the money and call it a day.

Thin the herd and move on!

10 June 2009

An all-out Meatgasm

As part of my weekend birthday-fest, we met up with my Brother-in-Law and Sister-in-Law at Fogo de Chão. My S-i-L has a birthday at the end of the month so it was more of a co-celebration which made it all the better.

If you're unfamiliar with the Brazilian Churrascaria method of dining, it's best described as the return of Roman gluttony without the presence of an official vomitorium.

After being seated and a drink order taken, you're informed that you can head to the salad bar at any time and that it, as with the main part of the meal is "unlimited". Let me tell you, this isn't any typical Wisconsin supper club sort of salad bar, this one is probably one of the finest in the nation. From hearts of palm to smoked salmon to bufala mozzarella, all of the ingredients presented are of the finest quality, straight from the farmer's market. If I were a vegetarian, I'd be happy with this choice, and as you'll see, it'd be the only part of the night you'd probably need. But if you're there for the meat, do NOT fill up on salad bar stuff. Enjoy one trip and then settle in.

Before you head up to the salad bar, the waiter also lets you know that when you're ready to start the main course/meat course, that you flip over the little coaster shown above to green which means you're ready for men in traditional Brazilian gaucho dress to show up at your table with skewers of 15 different types of meat. When you want to take a break, you just flip it back over to red.

I think, after a few visits to these types of restaurants, I've learned that you just keep it green. Although they do their best to ensure that each type of meat makes it to your table, it's much easier to just turn away the types you don't want (or don't want MORE of) and they don't get offended versus missing out on some of the better cuts of meat that come around.

Top cuts are the top sirloin and the filet. There are various types including some lamb, pork, chicken and beef, but beef is the predominant choice. The gaucho stops at your table and then either slices and servers or, for the larger cuts, slices and then you grab with some mini-tongs while he finishes cutting the meat for your plate.

I believe I set a new record for myself when it comes to consumption and I was indulgently keeping up with every cut that hit my plate. I purposely didn't eat a huge breakfast and had no lunch so that I prepared the passage to the stomach appropriately.

What I always find amusing is that they DO serve some side dishes at the table (also unlimited if you desire) which consist of some fried polenta sticks, sauteéd bananas (like bananas foster w/o the ice cream) and some garlicky mashed potatoes. Frankly, I call them "space fillers" and they have no place at my plate although I do like the polenta.

It's a prix fixe meal except for your drinks and dessert and it's definitely not cheap, but to spin back my roots to the days of the early Romans, it's totally worth it. I know for John and Marie, they left with their stomachs in pain. I felt fine and can't wait to do it again.

There are various chains and a few independents, but having been to several, Fogo puts out the best salad bar and has the tastiest meats. They ALL do a good job, but for me, Fogo is the top of the line.

And with that, it's time to....

09 June 2009

Gettin' old can be funny

Yesterday was my 43rd Birthday. I'm almost in a new demographic but not quite yet.

However, I do tend to exhibit the "old man" sort of behaviors every so often. I can be forgetful, I can talk about ailments with the best of them, I definitely can be crotchety with those darned neighborhood kids and well, my ass can dial my BlackBerry.

So after I get into work, I'm talking to cube-neighbor Bob and I hear my phone ring. It was on my desk so I didn't get to it in time to answer, but I picked it up. It almost immediately rang again. I'm thinking maybe it's someone calling to wish me happy birthday, but I get this.

"Naperville 911, what is the emergency?"
"Uh, I don't know, there is no emergency"
"Are you sure no one there needs any assistance?"
"Uh, yeah, pretty sure"
"Okay we just want to make sure that no one is in need of medical assistance"
"Yeah, i must have accidentally dialed, sorry"
"thank you"

I know my ass is, well, not petite, but seriously? I had the phone locked, how did it do it? Well, there's an emergency call button on BlackBerries even if they are locked. But that means my ass would have had to have hit that button and then hit it again (since it confirms you want to do that before calling)

I'm sure this has happened to many people but it really played with my mind since it was on my birthday. Welcome to the 43rd year of my life, rang in by my ass dialing 911.

Maybe my ass knows something about me that I don't. I'm sure it sees a different side of my life every day.

So what can your ass do?

See, I'm fitting in to this old man lifestyle by inappropriately talking about body parts, functions and ailments just fine!!

04 June 2009

Psycho "Jon & Kate" driver on the road

Yesterday, on my way home from work one of those custom 10-passenger van in a blazing red color whipped onto Westbound I-88 from Farnsworth and prematurely merged right in front of me.

I mean, there was no possible way she couldn't have seen me and of course, no way I could miss her. Big ugly red van, license plates Mag 7, with those stick figure family appliques on the back window. Daddy, Mommy, Child 1, Child 2, Child 3 and then Children 4-7 who were Quadruplets.

I didn't honk but I was a little pissed that someone who has such a massive family would be driving so carelessly, so I changed lanes and moved up along side. I SWEAR, I'm not making this up but the woman driving had the exact same haircut that Kate from that ridiculous show has.

I'm sure in some way this mom of 7 relates, but seriously, maybe she relates too much based on recent news reports and tabloid tales?

The crazy driving didn't stop there, as we approached the backed up toll area, she whipped into the manual lanes and went speeding off. She happened to merge back about 5 cars in front of me and we both got off at the Rte 31 exit.

So let me get this right, she got ON the tollway to go basically 5 miles, pay $0.40 and then get right back off?

As we got to the end of the ramp she changed lanes to the right (to make a right turn) and then whipped back to the left almost undecided, and then finally committed to the right and turned right very quickly. Our experience was over.

There were no kids or adults in the van with her and clearly she must have been running late if she didn't care about spending $0.40 to go 5 miles but you're not going to endear yourself to me and your massive family by doing what you've done. The fact that your plates were Organ Donor plates let me know that you actually CARE about others too, but you just weren't showing it today.

Yep, just me ranting again, but I hope I don't see this van in a wreck someday.

03 June 2009

R.I.P. Koko Taylor

One of the pleasures of my life was that for a brief time, I worked in the music business in Chicago. Several times my path crossed that of many Blues artists, but always an enjoyable one was Koko Taylor.

She always had a nice word for EVERYONE, and I was the recipient of those words no less than 20 times in my life. When she called you "baby" you knew it was because she wanted you to get her something but it was always said in a motherly sort of tone that made you feel loved and wanted. Hanging out with her before her shows was just a privilege and she'd share stories about the "old days" and give her opinions about current music as well.

Although I'm hardly a rap music fan, she likened it immediately to the Blues. She lamented that it had it's "gangsta/thug-life" reputation but said that ultimately "it was people singin' about the difficulties in their lives and how they dealt with them on a daily basis and that's what the Blues was all about."

She used to tour every so often with Big Twist and the "tales" she'd tell about Twist were priceless. Out of respect for the dead (Twist passed in 1990) I won't re-tell those in writing, but if you want to know them, just ask me.

She was the Queen of the Blues and Chicago's Very Own (sorry WGN for ripping that off) and that is evident if you go to the Chicago Blues Fest website. She's the damn banner! Blues Fest is June 12th-14th this year and although I don't believe she was scheduled, I'm sure not an artist will leave the stage without paying some sort of tribute.

She was born to share-croppers in Tennessee and came to Chicago in the 50's, was spotted by Willie Dixon and the rest is history.

Today, one year and one day after Bo Diddley passes, Koko passes on from complications from surgery she was having.

Unfortunately this is a constant reminder of an art form that slowly is dying as well. Although there is a burgeoning Blues community coming up, none of the artists will ever share what the Dixons, Taylors, Diddleys went through in their lives. So it's a NEW Blues artform but one that will always pay tribute to the past. The new artists can PLAY the blues, but there's something in these old timers voices when they sing. It's almost as if you can hear the pain they suffered and that's something that younger artists just will struggle to sell as time goes on.

R.I.P. sweet lady and Queen. I'm glad our lives intersected even if for the briefest of moments. I have got to believe there's one hell of a band being put together up in Heaven with you and Willie and Bo together.

02 June 2009

Oh, to be a child again

Note sent home today with Aidan:

Summer camp starts next week... This year's theme is "Amazing Animals".

What I wouldn't give to be 18 months old again ;-p

Along with NINE splash days (days where they'll play with water and get drenched) which can be increased by the individual room's teacher, a petting zoo comes to their school next Tuesday.

What I'd really be looking forward to is August 11th and the "Monkeys and More" presentation. Having seen hundreds of Market Research presentations and done quite a few myself, what I would give to just sit back, relax and soak in some knowledge about prehensile tails!

Not only do they get this cool course load, but they get their own water bottle, t-shirt and backpacks with the themes.

It's nice to see that in a time when the economy stinks, the world is in a bit of upheaval, and people are freaking out that our children can still enjoy what summer is about. Carefree world where the biggest concern is whether or not it's a splash day.

I'm jealous of my child but very happy that we can offer this to him at such a young age.

28 May 2009

May's Ted Simmons Run

Well, as promised, even in Indianapolis, we hit the Castle on the 23rd. After a night out at The Speedrome for some 1/5 mile short-track, there was a store on the way back to the hotel.

A couple of double cheese w/o pickles and a Large Orange Drink!! Kudos to Ted!

23 May 2009

The Story of "23" - Part II, Happy Ted Simmons Day

When last we left our fearless travelers, they were embracing the oncoming hangover and wondering "what IS that smell from the back of the car?"

We arrived back in Milwaukee around 2:30am to a mostly quiet house except for one or two guys watching television in the Chapter Room. We plopped the bag of grease onto the table and said, "Enjoy" and my three compatriots all went to their bedrooms. I hiked it back to the "beer can" (McCormick Hall) and tumbled into bed.

The next day, the story was already growing into one of travels of massive proportions. We had a lot of fun and people wanted to be part of it "the next time" we did it. Hell we didn't even want to think about the FIRST time we did it and people wanted a NEXT time already?

SEGUE to a couple weeks later. Rumors are swirling around the Brewers front office that they were done with Simmons and looking to either cut him free OR get something for him in a trade. Dink is pissed off. He's talking about Simmons and telling stories:

In October of 1982, the Brewers LOST the World Series to 'those who shall not be named' (but it was the same club Ted used to play for). Even though they lost, they still had a parade that went down Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee all the way to County Stadium to celebrate, I guess, being a bridesmaid. Dink remembered that the ONLY player in the parade who "rode alone" on the back of a convertible was Simmons and he was wearing dark sunglasses and just sat there. Dink said that he reached out to touch Simmons' hand and did, and then he ran down another block and did it again and again. Gee Dink, a little obsessed with the man?

About a week after the parade, Dink heard that Simmons was going to be signing autographs at a car dealer (probably Gordie Boucher's place) and so he showed up to get one. Simmons was sitting at a table alone, sunglasses on and just signing. As Dink got closer, he witnessed a frustrated Ted trying to sign, but the pen was running out of ink. Ted took the pen, looked at it, said outloud "This pen is really pissing me off" and then whipped it across the showroom asking for another.

Flash-forward to 1985 and the Delta Chi International Convention is being held in Chicago in July at the Chicago Hilton & Towers. The Brewers are in town playing the White Sox (see, they were in the American League then) and who does Dink see walking through the lobby with his wife and kids and of course, wearing sunglasses? Yep, Ted Simmons.

In what can only be described as some sort of cosmic idiocy, someone asked us when we were going to make another White Castle run and it dawns on Dink that the last one was on the 23rd of the month. Without bothering to look at a calendar, he proclaims that the next "run" would be on the 23rd and he christens it "Ted Simmons Day".

A tradition, and a drunken one at THAT, was started. It wasn't good enough to just go to White Castle, you had to "run the bases" around Wrigley as well (of course, to get rid of the empties).

This stupid, and frankly dangerous, tradition grew and grew fast. Before we knew it, we had two or three carloads of idiots driving to Chicago each month. Have you ever seen twelve guys trying to cram themselves into a White Castle bathroom? Not pretty.

The tradition expanded as well. It became a monthly contest to determine which one could eat the most Slyders and if, for some reason, you weren't in Milwaukee, it was okay to hit ANY Castle wherever you were. But without fail, it would ONLY happen on the 23rd of the month.

So, if you find yourself hungry and without a plan for today, why not head over and get a few Slyders in honor of Ted Simmons Day? I'm in Indianapolis and there are 16 stores here!

A few remnants stick with me out of this experience:
  1. 23 became my NEW lucky number. Until that time, my only lucky number was 14 which conveniently ALSO was for an 'against the grain' baseball player named Peter Edward Rose.
  2. I started collecting Ted Simmons baseball cards. I believe I have all but his '67 Rookie card and I followed his career closely
  3. Although I always loved the Castle, I am actually a member of their Market Research Cravers Panel (they didn't disqualify me for being in the industry) and most of the surveys I take are concept tests. Go try the new Pulled Pork Sammiches!!
  4. Out of the times I drove, there's the infamous 'tail pipe' incident that I'll share with you if you ask me and,
  5. If you work with me, you saw that I wore my White Castle shirt on Thursday to the office.
So that's a very long, two-day post involving crazy tales of drunken behavior all to explain why 23 is such a dear number to my heart. Thanks for letting me indulge.

PS: There are now White Castle's in Wisconsin (Racine and Kenosha) but I'm sure we would have still driven right by them to get to Chicago.
PPS: Simmons WAS traded the next spring to the Atlanta Braves for basically a pick-up truck full of bats and jock straps AND Rick Cerone (Hi Yankee fans!!) Rick only played one year behind the plate for the Brewers and the Catching legends died out in Brew Town.

22 May 2009

The Story of "23" - Part I

Most people I meet who know me as Duey23 or who have seen the same on my license plates usually ask about the nickname and then make a comment assuming that 23 is either in honor of Michael Jordan or Ryne Sandberg.

The look of bewilderment on their faces when I tell them who it's REALLY in honor of is usually worth the price of a 20 oz Diet Coke out of the company vendo.

Since tomorrow is the 23rd, I thought it would be a good time to share this story and officially document it, because, as you will see, "23" not only is special to me, it started a tradition that, for a short while, was an obsession amongst a small group of friends and Marquette Delta Chi Fraternity Brothers.

I've tried to figure out how to tell the story without revealing who "23" is before the end, and frankly, it's just impossible, so here we go...

23 honors of Ted Lyle Simmons, and as a Cub fan, it's only Ted from his Milwaukee Brewer & Atlanta Brave playing days, not any time before 1981!!!
But Ted did NOT drive the tradition. He was the upshot and/or outgrowth from, what else, drunken behavior by a bunch of college students.

It was the Fall of 1985, sometime after Halloween and the infamous Miami (Ohio) walk-out. It was a Thursday night just after 10:00pm and the phone in McCormick Hall 1225 rang.

"Duey, it's Dink. Me, Greff & JY are hungry, wanna go get some Slyders?"
"Where the hell's the nearest White Castle? I didn't think there were any in Wisconsin."
"We're going across the border"
"Where, Gurnee?"
"No, corner of Addison and Elston in Chicago."
"I'm there"

View Larger Map

We piled into JY's '73 Chrysler Newport, which, if you don't know the car, it's similar to a US Navy battleship in size and it handles about as smoothly. But before we hit Eastbound I-94, we stopped off at Marquette Liquors. Richie and Paulie asked us what we were up to and Greff said something like "If we have to tell, we'll probably have to kill you" which cracked Richie up. He was the only one that had a sense of humor anyway. After the purchase of a case of ale, off we went.

Now, for all you youngsters out there, I, in no way condone drinking and driving either by the driver OR the passengers. Most people do them in the order mentioned, but for some reason, on this night, we did both simultaneously.

The ride was somewhat uneventful and when we pulled up to the Castle, the excitement welled up in us like, well, like when you've had about five beers in an hour and you're about to pee your pants. All four of us crammed into the bathroom which only had two places to "take a comfort break". Two places, that is, to normal human beings. There was, thankfully, a sink. No swords or streams were crossed.

We stumbled out of the bathroom and up to the counter. The woman taking our order reminded us of Blondie. Could it be her bizarro twin? We ordered up a ton of Slyders and sat our butts down. We finished and since we "took orders" prior to leaving Milwaukee, one of us went back up to the counter and ordered a load for the road.

Upon getting back into JY's boat, we realized that we had a ton of empties and we needed to get rid of them. What to do? Well, what's a midnight trip to Chicago's Northside without going to see Wrigley Field? So we head East out of the parking lot until we arrive at 1060 W. Addison. We still have the empties.

JY decides to "round the bases" turning Left on Sheffield. An unnamed occupant of the vehicle cracks open his back door and starts dumping the empties out on the street as we are moving.

Hey, there's Murphy's! clank. Rounding second on Waveland it never dawns on us that the Firehouse is up on the right-hand side. clank. Better get rid of all of them as dropping them onto Clark is going to draw attention.

Ahh, one lap completed, let's take another!!

After three (or so) laps we decide it's best to "head home" and off we go. It's gotta be something like 1:00 and this means we'll be probably getting back around 2:30. Now, most people just KNOW that smell of Slyders. It's really a smell best handled when you're out of your gourd. It's NOT a smell that you want for 90 minutes sitting in the back of a car that's as big as a bus.

Note to self: No more "taking orders" in the future. If they want them, they have to come with.

End of Part I

06 May 2009

Oprah & KFC & DWTS

Okay, need to get back on the blogwagon and start writing again. (and sorry Romy, I know you love Oprah, but seriously...this begs to be beaten up)

So as I was watching the Twitter trends yesterday, KFC kept popping up to the top. I thought for sure that they had some tainted food or, god-forbid some study was going to say KFC was really bad for you (which would suck since I'm a life-long Original Recipe boy) only to be reversed by some OTHER study tomorrow which says that there's benefits in eating the blend of eleven secret herbs and spices.

Nope, all is see are middle-aged women tweeting that "Oprah is giving us free chicken" and getting THO's. Seriously people, Oprah ain't giving you squat. KFC had a promotion and they paid enough for Oprah to mention it on her show. If Oprah was giving you anything, I guarantee you that the Sista would be only giving you the Original Recipe yardbird, not some "grilled chicken" AND it would truly need to come straight from her pocketbook.

Just like she "gave" those people a few years ago the Pontiac G6, she didn't write a big check and drop it off at her local dealer.

This begs a further question though. Where are these "grills" that KFC is installing at all their restaurants and would ANYONE really trust the crews working at KFC's that they'd even grill the chicken to the proper temperature?

I haven't been to a KFC for sometime but this almost BEGS me to go through drive-through and when they ask me if I'd "like to try our new KFC Grilled Chicken today?" just yell out "are you f'ing serious" and then just drive straight through.

PS: OMG, Lil' Kim got kicked off last night, I'm so upset. Okay, just kidding but since ABC loves screwing up DVR schedulers and things, caught the last 3 minutes of Dancing with the Stars.

18 April 2009

...and so it begins

Today is the best and worst day of vacation.

Excitement fills our hearts as we ready for heading to the airport, having Aidan just wave at the TSA gang and then off to Barcelona, but at the same time, 11 total hours on planes, 3 to JFK and then 8 to BCN.

We are loaded for bear with closed, sealed packs of snacks for Aidan and I'm burning some Handy Manny's and Mickey Mouse Clubs to DVD as back-up.

I've made the decision to bring my computer (not the work one) for a few reasons. Mostly to frequently dump and save our pictures (3 cameras, 2 video cams going) and although _I_ have more GB than I need, my two strong women may not and I couldn't bear having them run out while shooting something they want to savor.

It's going to be an absolute blast watching my own parents on their very first ever steps on European soil as well as how many things Aidan wants to touch since he's a very tactile child.

Man, this is so damn cool. We're very fortunate and blessed.

15 April 2009

Preparing for a Cruise

So several people I know, go on drastic diets prior to going on a cruise. The plentiful amount of food and drink and the debaucherous behaviors that one can get away with cannot be avoided.

My parents have been trying to lose weight knowing that the quantity of quality of food will be tempting and it becomes fruitless to refuse.

Here's what I've done prior to the cruise:

I bought a bunch of shirts that are a size larger. Not only have I received several compliments over the last week asking if I've lost weight, but I'm prepared for when I do gain weight on the cruise so that my belly doesn't hang out from the shirts when I return.

Sure, it's not the healthiest of behaviors, but I'm not torturing myself prior to vacation AND I'm getting wonderful compliments. Nothing like an ego boost, eh?

I can't wait for the midnight buffet and the pizza bar. (nods to Neil Sutherland)

14 April 2009

Happy Birthday Peter Edward Rose!

Today is Pete Rose's 68th Birthday. Pete was one of my childhood heroes.

He and Hank Aaron were the only visiting players I ever cheered for (who hadn't previously played for the Cubs) at Wrigley when everyone else was booing (Well, no one booed Hank in the 70's). I wore number 14 as a child playing Little League, played 3rd and 1st bases and had a similar crouched, chubby-like hitting stance.

I've been listening again, to the writhing and wailing about whether or not Pettite, Clemens, Sosa, McGwire, Bonds, Conseco, etc should ever be considered for the Hall of Fame and I really just puke at it all.

As has been said countless times before, but will continue to be ignored by the Commissioner's office, using "not in the best interest of baseball" as an argument to keep someone out of the Hall of Fame loses all credibility when:
  • Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth and others were notorious womanizers, alcohol abusers and gamblers
  • The magic list from 2003 is not going to be made public which means that all baseball stats from that season (and likely those before and after) will be put into question
  • Baseball itself refused to address the steroids issue until being called before Congress and
  • the number of times drug users have been allowed back in the league is more than words in this post
What Pete did is wrong according to the rules, but I'm amazed at how the league subjectively hands out "forgiveness" for legal and illegal transgressions but will stand firm on the whole Pete Rose issue.

He's clearly paid his dues with jail time for tax evasion, the fact that he basically can't enter any baseball stadiums continues to hinder his ability to make money and yet, his record, without steroids still stands.

So Happy Birthday Pete. I hope that before you die, you get what you deserve by being inducted into the Hall of Fame. But then again, the Veterans committee continues to prolong the agony of Ron Santo in spite of all of the information they've been provided that shows his stats are as strong as anyone elses for the time including Brooks Robinson.

Maybe you're better off NOT being there. Seems like they are a bunch of arrogant assholes.

29 March 2009

No matter how simple & easy, it's still scary

About 10 hours from now, Aidan will be going into outpatient surgery to get tubes put into his ears.

No matter how many times people have told us that this is an easy procedure, only takes 10 minutes, is manna from heaven, there's just something unsettling about having your almost 16 month old go into a medical procedure where there's anesthesia.

We know he's a fighter and a happy kid, but it's going to be very weird to see him all knocked out like that. It's not like sleeping, it's more like a passed out and in someone else's hands helpless feel.

I'm sure everything will go well. Everyone says this doctor has literally done thousands of them and that he's one of the best in our area. We felt very comfortable with he and his staff on our initial visit and then with Aidan's hearing test.

His pre-op physical went without incident and we've kept him out of the line of fire of daycare sickness for the last week.

Sure, I don't post on Duey's Brain for three weeks and then I lay this heavy load on you, but work has been a bit frenetic for the last month or so and it's kept me extremely busy.

I'll have plenty to say in the coming weeks especially as we head off on two weeks of vacation in Europe with the little guy.

So here's a little cyber-prayer for Aidan for tomorrow. This is the best thing for him and will make a world of difference.

06 March 2009

U2 new release(s) and Letterman

I saw U2 for the first time at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, Illinois in 1984. It was the 2nd time they had played there and was after MTV had the videos from Red Rocks playing in heavy rotation. Looking back, I feel blessed to have seen them in such an intimate setting at that time in their career.

Over the years I saw them again as their venues needed to be bigger and bigger and I do remain a fan although not as crazed as I had been in the past.

With their last couple albums I didn't even download them on the release day, but I did for their latest effort "No Line On the Horizon". Had a full listen the other day and although it's solid, I couldn't help but sit there and think with each song that I could see it on a soundtrack of a Hollywood flick. Several of the songs have over 60 second intros which had me scratching my head. Talk about any of the remaining deejays in the world having to "hit the post", well, you better have a lot to say to hit it.

Then I saw this article and it sort of confirmed my thoughts about what's going on with the group and their efforts. They are at that point of their life where they're getting almost orchestral or operatic. The albums are about painting a much broader picture and feeling which at the core of creativity makes perfect sense but as a consumer, starts losing it's appeal for me. So an almost ready 2nd album is going to be released AND it basically follows on from the themes of the newest one.

And the music industry gets angry at iTunes because they feel it has turned the industry back into a world of "singles only".... So hit me up for TWICE the cost in a month or so.....

I'm not going to sit here and say that they need to be hammering out full albums of anthems like they used to, that's just foolish. Artists must create and change and evolve, but since they detoured a bit in the 90's and didn't really hit it out of the park, I just hope that after the successes of the last two albums, they aren't reverting back.

Still a fan, still supporting the boys. Edge's slam at Sting at last night was fun as that's following up from Bono's slam at Chris Martin recently.

04 March 2009

C'mon Matt Lauer....wha' happened??

On the way out the door Tuesday morning, I stopped by the tv just long enough to see Matt Lauer butcher an interview with the stunningly beautiful Gabrielle Anwar, who plays Fiona ("Fee") on Burn Notice (Thursday nights, USA Network).

He flat out admitted he didn't watch the show and then spent most of the interview talking about her tango with Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman and talking to her about how she can do an American accent (which she DOESN'T HAVE on show)!!

The producers didn't help by playing clips of Scent (TWICE) and Burn Notice while the interview was going on.

Look, I realize that she was only on there to promo the season finale this Thursday, but it IS the second season and they moved it from just running in the summer to battle against the big boys and it's holding it's own (and will continue to).

Fiona wouldn't have taken that crap from anyone on the show. Matt should be lucky she wasn't packing heat.

Here's the Today Show Butcher in action.

[[nbc deleted the video]]

If you haven't seen Burn Notice, I think most episodes are on iTunes, Netflix, or somewhere and they will run "marathons" on USA Network too (I think they are this Thursday leading up to the finale)

The huge following of the show comes from a hot Gabrielle Anwar (for the boys), a hot Jeffrey Donovan (for the girls) and for anyone who has ever loved cult-classics and Sam Raimi vehicles, Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead, Xena, Hercules, Brisco County, Jr., etc.). Oh yeah and throw in a chain-smoking, guilt-tripping Sharon Gless, Cagney of &Lacey fame to round out the cast who are set in Miami/South Beach.

Check it out as it's one of MK's & my favorite shows.

02 March 2009

Business Traveler Haiku

Metal tube fly me
across the land, air and sea
Big snow screws the pooch

I was supposed to fly into NYC late Sunday night for a very early Monday a.m. meeting and then fly back mid-afternoon on Monday.

On Saturday evening, my cellphone started buzzing with alert updates from United. It ran as follows (all times central):
Sat. 8:56pm: 5:04pm Sunday flight canceled.
Sat. 9:05pm: re-booked on 8:55pm Sunday flight
Sun. 11:24am: 8:55pm Sunday flight canceled
Sun. 11:35am: re-booked on 9:58am Monday flight
(meeting Monday was to start at 7:30am, so I'd be landing about 20 minutes before the end)
Sun. 4:30pm: notification that I could check-in online for my return flight for Monday afternoon
Mon. 7:01am: notification that 9:58am flight is still on time
Mon. 10:00am: notification that 9:58am flight is now 10:31am (landing me 1 hour after meeting would end)
Mon 11:14am: notification that my 4:04pm return flight is canceled
Mon 11:29am: re-booked on 3:50pm return flight (oh good, I would have landed in NYC 80 minutes before that)
Mon 11:58am: 3:50pm return flight is now delayed to 5:00pm
Mon 1:53pm: now delayed to 6:23pm
Mon 6:10pm: now leaving at 6:08pm (uh, what am I, a time traveler?? Alert comes after I supposedly would have pushed back from the gate)

FYI: Monday 6:10pm, I was actually feeding Aidan some dinner and waiting for MK to get home so we could eat.

Good thing I just stayed home and went into work normally!!

I realize the weather was pretty severe out East, but can the airlines understand why people get so frustrated with them? They claim that they are usually just working with the most up-to-date information that they are getting but within 3 hours today my return flight was canceled and then my re-booking changed departure times THREE times. The snow had ended so what was the deal??

I'm so glad I don't travel for business as much as I used to. Sure I miss the "status" benefits from when I was cranking out 25K+/year but I'll show up a little earlier and board last just to avoid so many headaches.

27 February 2009

Sniff...Our little man is growing up!!

Today's a big day in Aidan's young life. He graduates from the Special Delivery classroom to the Happy Hippos room.

It actually is getting me a little emotional and picking him up this afternoon is going to be pretty special in itself.

Developmentally, this is perfect timing as the make-up of the infants classroom is pretty young right now, so he doesn't really have any friends in there and his buddies Norah, James and especially Tyler are already in the Hippos room. He's the only walker in his current room.

I don't know what other schools/daycares do, but Goddard has had him on a two-week transition from the infants room to the Hippos room where he spends a little time each day, increasingly each day until today when he's basically in for the full day. He's so funny because as they get ready to take him BACK to the infants room, he throws a little fit and cries. Hey, who likes getting bounced from the cool kid's party, right??

He's such an eager learner that he understands that he's stepping backwards in his environment and he doesn't want to go. The Director said that his acceptance of the transition was far better than they normally see but I'm sure kids of different levels take change differently.

I do think that how we work with him, getting him out to restaurants and events and broadening his experiential world helps him adjust to change a lot quicker than most kids. You can imagine what his little brain is going to do in 7 weeks when we load him up on a 767 and wing on off to Barcelona for a couple days and a 10-day Mediterranean cruise!! At 17 months he's going to see monkeys and birds on Las Ramblas, Sagrada Familia, the Greek Theater in Taormina and probably the Vatican in Rome. It took me 39 years to get to Rome and 18 to get to Spain so he trumps me on BOTH!

Yesterday was the first time we "walked" into school together. I'm usually the one dropping him off in the mornings and I thought it was time he held my hand and we walked in. Other than his stopping every 5 steps to turn around and look at the car, it went very well. It's not that he's getting too heavy (although he's crankin' out 22 lbs right now), but it's this sense of change and maturation. They decided to keep him in the Hippos class all day and it was his first time sleeping on the cots. He also had his first official lunch of Sloppy Joes, tater tots and apple sauce. Yeah, he wore a fair amount of the Sloppy Joe's. He seemed so happy when I picked him up. He definitely didn't want to leave and frankly how cool is THAT that he doesn't want to leave school? Let's see how long that lasts in life (eh, 3rd grade??)

But today is the final day and then he starts his move "down the hallway". Thanks to Leah, Anahi, Roxayn, Kim, Simone, Danielle and all of the others who have watched our little man from 3 months to 15 months. I will always admire you for the work you do with these kids and can never thank you enough for how you've taken care of our son! It has clearly impacted how he views the world and makes him want to come to school every day.