12 litres of milk…

Mother and Son was a delight, and I remember the anticipation of waiting for the next episode. My family always watched it together when I was a child, and I was thrilled to find out recently that a friend owns the series on DVD. We’ve been watching from the beginning, and we saw the episode below last week. Ruth Cracknell was such a joy, and Garry McDonald the perfect son.

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Well, that takes me back…

Was browsing youtube and had to giggle when I saw this ad. When it first aired I was about 13, and, even though I didn’t really like Crunchies at the time, the ‘coolness’ of the older kids, whose lives were so obviously transformed by their Crunchie-consuming experience, always made me long for one.

Jamie’s Ministry of Food

Watched the first episode of the new Jamie Oliver show – Jamie’s Ministry of Food– tonight. Let me just say, Jamie Oliver is amazing. HL and I have been watching him since he was a single guy boshing-it-in, and garn-(go on?)-my-son-ing, and cooking up pukka meals for his mates and feeling well chuffed. He has always been curiously and disarmingly charming in his genuine passion for, not just cooking, but making a difference.

He always seems to be biting off more than he can chew (appropriate metaphor, I suppose) (like Jamie’s School Dinners), but it, almost always, seems to pan out for him. I think it must be his enthusiasm, and his utter conviction that he can, that galvanises him and those around him. He seems to have a never-ending interest and creativity for new things.

He forces you to like him, and to feel moved and excited and comfortable, all at once. His Fowl Dinners changed the way I eat chicken and eggs; and even what I feed my cats. His zeal for the students whose lives he transformed at Fifteen was so apparent. His pleasure in plain, simple ingredients, and basic recipes, is obvious in Jamie at Home. Everything he does, he DOES.

I like Jamie Oliver.

American Things That I Miss #4

Reasonably Priced Cell Phone Plans

Our phone plan in the States gave us 2 free phones, regular upgrades, so many minutes they were basically unlimited, and free ‘family’ talk – HL and I could talk to each other for free and not use any minutes – for $70/month (altogether, not each). We used them almost continually: ‘Hey? I’m at the grocery store…Did you say we needed peanut butter?’; ‘Yep, stuck in traffic again. I’ll be a bit late, k?’; ‘Seriously dude, no…no, I do NOT want to watch Bruce Lee: A Warrior’s Journey’; ‘Hey babe. So…how’s it going? Good, k, bye then.’

We were terribly disappointed when we checked out what was available here. I kept thinking that we’d missed something, that we’d asked the wrong questions and hadn’t been offered the full extent of all the phone plans…Nope…what you see is what you get. So we didn’t get a cell phone till about a year ago.

HL was going into withdrawals a little, and he needed one for his job – cab driver – so we bit the bullet and bought him a phone. At first we went with pre-paid, which is VERY common here, but that was ridiculously, prohibitively expensive, so we got the best plan we could find. $50/month, no free phones, no upgrades, some minutes, but not a lot, free 5 minute phone calls to a couple of designated numbers, and no internet.

I’m so pissed off at the difference in value for money between here and the US that I haven’t been able to bring myself to pay for a mobile here. One day, maybe, that’ll change, but, for now, I’ll just stay grumpy about it.

Commerce just seems easier in America…And we’re lazy here. We don’t seem to care enough to demand change.

Sting – Old School

Sting was one of my very favourite artists ‘back in the day’ when I was in my mid to late teens (early to mid-90’s). I still think he’s amazing musically, but he’s a bit too ‘granola’ for my tastes these days. I heard this song on the radio one night while I was being driven home from a babysitting job, and it was instant love. I went out the very next day and bought The Dream of the Blue Turtles.

I love 200 Nipples (It’s t-shirts, people, nothin’ creepy.)

I read Seth Godin’s blog. I find its tone funny, irritated, exasperated, wry, optimistic and helpful in just the right amounts. And he’s always on the look-out for new, interesting, different and useful ‘web stuff’ to direct readers to. Yesterday he directed me to 200 Nipples.

This is a truly well thought-out concept. The Brief Rundown: Exclusive artwork printed on tees. Limited edition runs of 100 shirts, each labelled with its number (i.e. Shirt #35 has the number 35 printed on the collar). Each shirt costs the amount printed on its collar (i.e. Shirt #35 costs $35).

This was my comment:

Aili Says:
July 12th, 2008

This is a BEAUTIFUL idea, and such a thoughtful, ‘out of the box’ piece of marketing. You feel like real people who are enthusiastic about this cool concept that you came up with, and your excitement is such an asset.

But you haven’t left it at the ‘enthusiastic amateurs who have forgotten that they’re trying to earn a living’ level. There is a cleanness and clearness about your website and the ‘concept’ which makes it easy to ‘get’.

And you have a built-in market economy with the simplicity of the pricing structure that reflects the cost vs scarcity equation. And a business model that drives demand (’Quick! The longer you delay about buying a design the more you’ll have to pay.’). And it’s Real Art! On a t-shirt! In strictly limited quantities!

I’m looking forward to watching the new designs as they come out, and maybe buying if one catches my eye. *smile* I wish you so much luck )

And then, I found a reply in my email inbox from Wade:

Aili,

Wow! Your kind words blew me away. We’ve put so much hard work and thought into the site. You made my day.

Anyway, just wanted to say thanks. (And then there was some stuff about a coupon code.)
Cheers,
Wade
Partner
200nipples.com

And so I replied:

Dear Wade,

You are so welcome 🙂

I don’t often comment on blogs or websites, but when I do, it’s because there’s something special there. You guys have an excellent, elegant marketing concept, even down to the website name (intriguing, slightly eyebrow-raising, but entirely appropriate).

And I enjoyed your FAQ – just the right amount of ironic wackiness, but also answering questions clearly. And you’ve made it so easy for people to subscribe to your feeds. And you’ve got this excellent count-down on the shirt-numbers so we can watch people actually thinking about buying. And you’ve made the buying process so visual – people can choose the number they want rather than simply getting the next one in line (for example, someone chose to spend MORE THAN THEY HAD TO (amazing) just to buy shirt #69 (no surprises on the number they chose, you’ll prob’ly always sell out of that one pretty quickly).

Again, beautiful concept. Congratulations. And thanks for the personal email response – those things make a difference 🙂

Aili

This is a website that I’ll be watching – not only to check out new designs, but to watch their progress as they (hopefully) become something huge.

Movie-Going Fun Times

In a supremely poor act of scheduling today, our local movie theatre did not open the doors to this afternoon’s showing of Get Smart  until 15 minutes after the listed show time, leaving a crowded foyer of formerly excited movie-going patrons to become increasingly tense and claustrophobic and irritated with staff.

The murmuring began about 5 minutes before the movie was supposed to begin, and grew into muttering and nervous giggles at 5 minutes past scheduled time, until, at 15 minutes past, when we had originally thought we would be sitting inside with our popcorn and choctops and Diet Cokes, there was a feeling of growing crowd-crushing hysteria and, somewhat edgy, supposition as to what could be holding them up.

At first people thought that the staff were simply incredibly stupid and had forgotten to open the door – there seemed to be no logic in letting hordes of people congregate outside when we could all be out of their way and comfortably seated. As time went on though, it was obvious that this could not be the case, and so we concluded that some dolt had been unable to figure out when the previous movie would end and schedule the next screening accordingly.

Finally the exit door opened, people streamed out and we were allowed to go in. Fortunately, from this time on things got (mostly) better. We were able to settle into good seats – in the middle, towards the front, with foot-rests and no-one in front of us (yay!) – and wait.

As the lights were going down a lady scrambled over and sat in the seat next to me. My tension level immediately rose a notch. Theatre showings are rarely full here, so you mostly don’t have sit next to anyone but the people you’ve gone with. Consequently, the people that one fights with for the arm-rest tend to be friends/family, so when a stranger sits next to one, one hardly knows what ‘correct procedure’ is…

Being very much a ‘movie-enjoyer’, and quite detail-oriented, and, let’s face it, pretty selfish, I like to be comfortable and have everything ‘just so’ when I sit down to watch a movie (I’m SO fun!). It’s bad enough to have to figure out which bit of the arm-rest belongs to HL and which bit is mine, so, when my other neighbour is somebody I’ve never seen before, but whom I have to sit next to for the next two hours, I find the whole social conundrum of ‘polite, polite, we’re both so polite, which bit’s yours?, sorry, I just bumped you, is my arm too close for comfort?, ‘scuse me, but your arm seems to be taking up three-quarters of the space’ a bit tricky.

We played ‘push forward to claim territory’ and ‘pull back to maintain polite social conventionalities’ for a few minutes until we both seemed to find comfortable ground and were able to settle into the movie-going experience, phew.

One of the previews at first seemed to be a joke, a spoof, but after watching for a little bit, I finally concluded that they were serious. The new attempt at producing more income from the Star Wars empire appears to be a poorly animated movie/tv series The Clone Wars. This, to me, looks like nothing more than a pathetic grab at a few more dollars from a dwindling and increasingly grumpy fan-base. *disgusted grimace*

I’m trying to withhold judgement, but it looks so bad I don’t even think I could watch it to find out. What a way to continue to spit on the already-tarnished (probably irrevocably) reputation of a beloved and originally ground-breaking phenomenon. *sigh* (Though I reserve the right to apologise and change my mind if it turns out to be better than the ad indicates it will be.)

FINALLY we got to the actual movie. I laughed very hard. It was much, much better than I thought it would be. The writing was more sophisticated than I had anticipated, and the humour was just the right amount of obvious ‘see-it-coming’ punchlines, ‘ball-crushing, smack-into-a-wall’ slapstick, genuinely humorous ‘tickle-your-funnybone’ comedy, and ‘wink-to-the-audience’ homage to the original.

Max was cleverer and much more competent than he was in the tv series, and 99 wasn’t quite as overtly adoring of him, but, on the whole, it was a very adept rendering of an updated, 21st century version of a much-loved, cliché-producing tv institution.

We left the theatre (as crowded as it was when we were waiting – knock-on effect I guess) and I felt like skipping to the car with a very light heart. aahh…happy, fun movie-goingness…it’s a ‘good thing’

Poor Marketing Decisions

Dear Not-As-Funky-As-You-Think-You-Are Local Music and Movie Store,
I visited your store today. My husband and I were out for a wander on a Sunday afternoon, ready to spend money on stuff that we like, and we popped in to see if there was anything that we might like to purchase in your establishment.

The first thing we noticed when we walked through the doors was that you take the ‘music’ side of your business VERY seriously. And by ‘seriously’ I mean playing the overhead music so loud that I couldn’t hear what my husband was saying to me, even when he put his mouth up to my ear. And by ‘music’ I mean a composition that appeals to about 3% of modern western listeners, and is composed of a very dominant beat and some discordant notes.

Now, my husband and I are both pretty keen on CDs and DVDs, and, being of dual income and having no kids, regularly indulge in the purchase of them, so we were pretty likely potential customers. However, after we had been in your store for about 30 seconds the vein in the side of my head was pulsing to the beat of your ‘music’ and my thoughts ceased to occur in logical patterns.

I half-heartedly (and futilely as it turned out) searched for an item that I thought I would like to own – no luck (aside: How hard can it be to carry an incredibly popular [in a cult-fashion-like way] Showtime series?). At this point I was barely thinking straight due to my ears trying, and failing, to process what was blasting through your loudspeakers. To illustrate – I backed into something soft behind me to make way for a sales assistant moving past and it took me about 30 seconds to register that I may have blithely run into an actual human (nope, it was a stand of t-shirts).

I couldn’t even think what else I might like to buy, and there was certainly no way I would be able to get an understandable response from an assistant to any requests for…well…assistance, so there was nothing left but to complain to my husband – loudly – that I couldn’t think and that I had to get out of there, so I did. I left a store that, theoretically, wanted to sell me something which I had wanted to buy (if I’d been able to think I could prob’ly have found half-a-dozen things to purchase).

A minute or two later my husband joined me outside the store with his single purchase – a cheap CD. He told me that he’d had the following conversation with the sales assistant who had rung up the sale:

Sales Assistant: fleeble farble atch it?
Husband: Sorry? I can’t hear you…
SA (yelling and mouthing clearly): Do. you. need. to. buy. a. CD. scratch. kit?
H: Aaahh…no thanks, just the CD thanks.
SA: OK…darby durgle fornication?
H: Sorry?
SA: Do. you. like. Californication?
H: Oh, no, not interested thanks.
SA (enunciating): You. can. pre-order. Californication. if. you. would. like.
H: No, really, no, thanks anyway, not interested, just the CD please…

After my husband relayed this conversation to me I had to wonder if you were trying to ‘upsize’ us, McDonalds-style. In order for further retail interaction with your store to be a vague possibility we had to enjoy the experience leading up to the – entirely-out-of-the-blue-and-unrelated-to-our-purchase – ‘upsizing’ suggestion. Perhaps if you train your staff to create an environment conducive to inducing your customer to spend time browsing; to be receptive and available to answer questions; and to offer suggestions vaguely related to our current purchase (and, thus, our taste and style), then, maybe, we might like to come back.

Yours sincerely,
Mrs Aili Caradoc