Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pet Peeves #1

Some things just rub me the wrong way. We've all got something. This is the first in a series that I'll add to occasionally. Feel free to share your own pet peeves.

Pet Peeve #1: real estate advertising that implies renting is throwing money away. Especially when it crosses from implying to stating it. I got this in the mail the other day and it had me swearing up a storm. (As you might imagine, red bits were added by me.)

First of all, it isn't literal that money is going down the drain. If it were literal, we'd actually be stuffing money into our sink and then finding ourselves in need of Drano. Misuse of the word "literally". Demerits to this real estate agent and the major real estate franchise!

Second of all, the financial benefits of home ownership are very much up for debate. I lived through the Florida real estate crash. Let me tell you all about how homes don't make good investments. There are taxes and interest and all kinds of other things on which one will never get a financial return. By this definition, is that also "throwing money down the drain"? I think the nicest way of putting it is that if you buy a home because you expect to make money on it, you may be buying it for the wrong reason.

Finally, how is it not worth money each month to pay for shelter? It's a legitimate expense and telling renters that they're as good as shredding money is a complete fabrication.

Note that I didn't say literal fabrication.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Product Placement

Until recently I thought of product placement as the corporate sponsorship only of movies and television. In the past I, like many, railed against it as the destroyer of all things creative. It made me want to watch only the indiest of indie films. It made me want to make fun of people who wore corporate logos. During this time I didn't have a television (of course I didn't) so avoiding this kind of advertising wasn't all that difficult.

Eventually my views grew more nuanced, especially as I ended up marrying someone with a TV and I grew to like a few shows. I started using a DVR and downloaded a bit more, too. This meant I saw fewer ads. Advertisers needed to find a way to get their messages in front of people; because (let's face it) they aren't going to go away. Placements are something that will continue to increase in frequency because of the way our viewing habits have changed. While I still don't like it, I understand that there's more to it than a simple sellout. There is the advertising issue I already mentioned, and - as distasteful as it is - it has become a standard part of raising funds in Hollywood for both television and movies.

Anyway, my uneasy truce with product placement carried on for a few years until I spotted some product placement in a book. "No," I thought, "It can't be. Not in a book." As luck would have it, I was dead wrong.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Smattering of YouTube

I'm not a very consistent blogger this week. I have made good progress on my draft, though, so let's all enjoy Tina Fey for a moment.

I got to see The Avengers (speaking of product placement) this past weekend and I really enjoyed it. I had reservations given that I didn't like some of the movies leading up to it; but, I think that with some scenes excepted, they did a really good job. It was just what I was looking for from that movie.

The trailer for Prometheus that I saw before the movie (speaking of ads) was mind-blowingly awesome, too. I am jaded about films anymore and I never get my hopes up; however, this movie has me excited in a big way. I just can't help myself. If you're into trailers check it out:

Are you as excited about it as I am? Do you think it's going to be complete tripe? I'd love to chat about it in the comments section.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Comic Books: Marketing Leads to Creative Storytelling

As apology for the delay in my product placement post, I offer this delightfully informative blog post by Kendall Whitehouse (Wharton School's tech and media blogger).

One thing the piece talks about is transmedia. This is a term I've only seen around for about a year or so, and I haven't been to any panels or done much independent research yet; however, it's a concept that appeals to me on multiple levels. Anything that crosses platforms has the potential to feel more real and more interesting. Whitehouse's blog post is what's finally inspired me to gain better understanding of the concepts of transmedia.

It's interesting to note that CZP's campaigns for Ninja Versus Pirate Featuring Zombies (NVPFZ) and Rasputin's Bastards both enter this realm. (As a reminder, I am affiliated with ChiZine Publications and so almost certainly hold bias on this topic!) James Marshall, author of NVPFZ, has a blog that's mentioned in the novel by Guy Boy Man - the protagonist - and is also an actual website which is in part "authored" by Guy Boy Man. There are also NVPFZ twitter events, blog interviews and more - crossing media in fun and interesting ways. (And don't forget the Zombie Acceptance Test! The ZAT tells you whether you're cut out to be a zombie or zombie food.)

I particularly enjoy the Rasputin's Bastards website, Take a look through the video elements, the CSIS files and the articles. There's a Facebook page that you can follow, too. There are more interesting things coming for Rasputin's Bastards in the future, though you'll just have to wait and see. By the way, one of my personal favourite things that was done for this campaign was the teaser trailer, which can be found here.

Feel free to share your transmedia thoughts and experiences in the comment section.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

EerieCon: The Saturday

It's been the kind of week where a short blog post has been difficult to complete. Since my shift in responsibility at my day job there's an intensity to my days right now that makes them pass all too quickly - and the days were pretty intense before this. I'm not fooling anyone, though. I thrive on this stuff!

Anyhow, last weekend we made the road trip to EerieCon just for the day on Saturday. We knew our convention pals Dr. Alex Pantaleev and Lynna Merrill were going to be there, so that alone was a plus; but, we also knew that Mark Leslie was going to be in attendance and I wanted to be sure to chat with him face-to-face sometime soon. Given those social connections and the relatively close proximity of the convention, we couldn't pass it up.

The verdict? Mixed. I only was able to attend a few panels, and the ones I managed to attend left me feeling lukewarm. There was a lecture given by Dr. David DeGraff  on the Higgs boson that was pretty good, although a bit over my head. I did learn something, though, so it served its purpose, and I enjoyed listening to him. He's an energetic and entertaining speaker. I really enjoyed his assertiveness with audience members who tried to talk over him, too.

The best part was the con suite, which offered lots to drink, lots to eat, and a comfortable and spacious environment. We ended up there several hours that evening meeting with friends mentioned above as well as people we didn't know. One of the most delightful people I met was Dr. Carl Frederick. He is not only a genuine genius of linguistics, physics and technology, but also incredibly charming. Lots of his stories are published in Analog, so if you read that magazine you've likely seen his work before.

The convention is moving to a different hotel next  year, which will put it a bit further away from the border. That is still not all that far away, but I am a little sad to know that that great con suite will be gone. Of course, in so many ways it's the hard-working volunteers who give so much of their time and energy for us to go and have such a good time. With that kind of dedication any room can be a pretty darn good con suite indeed.

So thanks to EerieCon for having us. It was great seeing old friends and making new ones. It's hard to justify going to another convention so soon after AdAstra, so I am not sure if this will be a regular thing or not; but, I do think we'll go again sometime, even if only to catch up with friends.