Ferg The Love of God

Upfront and Personal

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My journey into the world of advertising upfronts continued this year. I’ve already recounted the story of the Scripps upfront where I made it seem like I was a crazy person to one of their top talents. The next two I attended were very different. The first was for Hulu and the second was for Adult Swim.

I was excited for the Hulu presentation because I’m a big fan of the brand. They’re basically my cable provider now. I’m sure that Cablevision and other MSOs aren’t happy to hear that but I get all the TV entertainment I want, when I want it, from Hulu and Hulu Plus. The event was very laid back and much more relaxed than the Scripps upfront. While they talked about the new shows that they had coming up, it was more about how Hulu is changing the TV landscape which was far more interesting. As a cable cord cutter, I’m fascinated by how things like online and mobile video are changing the way we consume media. Appointment viewing is dying.

Anyway, they showed off the Hulu Plus integration with Xbox Kinect which should be coming up soon and now I really want to get a Kinect just so I can use it and feel like I’m in the future. After the presentation was over, the 88s performed while an impressive spread of food was served. I’m talking little grilled cheeses, tacos, and mini cheeseburgers. Very cool. Overall great experience.

A few weeks later I went to the Adult Swim upfront. I was hesitant about going to this one because it was from 9 PM to 1 AM on a Wednesday in the city. I don’t like to go anywhere, especially late at night because I’m an old person that likes to go to bed at a reasonable hour after having a glass of warm milk. My colleague, Rob convinced me to go, explaining that if you only go to one upfront, this is the one to go to. Plus they had Jay-Z as a musical guest. That’s big, right?

After a brief pre-party, we filed into the Roseland Ballroom and waited…and waited. We stood around and chatted for about two hours. There were some appetizers making the rounds, the most notable of which was some spaghetti and meatballs on a little fork. There is a plus here though. I got to meet Seth Green. He was just walking by and we went up to him and chatted for a bit. He seems like a generally nice guy. I didn’t figure out that my flash was completely turned off until after the fact, but hey, I got a picture with him. That was cool.

Also, the whole theme for this event was owls. They were everywhere. There were two huge owls shooting lasers out of their eyes. There was a guy in a big creepy owl suit operating an egg contraption at the door. Seriously, owls everywhere.

After standing and waiting for awhile, the presentation finally began, if you can call it that. There was an epic 120 second countdown while “The Final Countdown” blared from the speakers. Then the briefest and least pretentious reel was played where Adult Swim showed some of their programs and didn’t hide the fact that they invited everyone here for one reason and one reason only: They want our money. That’s what these things are all about but I’m just glad that someone had the balls to admit it.

After the video was over a 10 minute countdown came up on the screen. It was then that they stopped using the speakers that were playing the loud background music and started using the speakers that they’d be using for the performance. These were about 5 times louder and located about 10 feet away from me. After what felt like forever, the countdown reached zero and the show began. Jay-Z came on stage and started performing. He was ridiculously close, not that I could see him clearly with the wave of cellphone cameras that shot into the air. Up until this point, the only Jay-Z songs I had heard were part of DJ Danger Mouse’s fantastic Grey Album that mixed the rapper’s Black Album with the Beatles’ White Album. I’ve learned that most of Jay-Z’s songs have a very different feel to them outside of this album. As a result he would get halfway through a song before I realized I had heard it before.

The crowd went completely ape-shit too. Where I had a bit of breathing room before the show started, I was now cramped like a sardine. Jay-Z often yelled “Put your hands up!” and I attempted to awkwardly do so but could barely bend my elbow, let alone raise my entire arm. He played for at least an hour before I decided to call it a night around 12:15. I made my way downstairs to pick up my bag from the coat check and my ears were ringing like crazy. They continued to ring well into the next day but it was totally worth it. Amazing upfront, and like I said, they didn’t hide the fact that they just want my money. That’s great.

My Social Media Circle Just Got Smaller

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A few years ago I decided to become the “Social Media Guy” at work. I went out and joined just about every social networking site out there. This included but was not limited to Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Jaiku, Plurk, Magnolia, Wakoopa, Vimeo, Seesmic, and Yelp. There was one service that linked them all though: FriendFeed. On the surface, this was a great service. I was able to pull almost all of my ever expanding profiles together in one place and the community seemed pretty lively to boot. Then Facebook bought FriendFeed and everyone got bitter and defensive. Since then things just went downhill.

Services stopped working. Search didn’t work. The community got smaller and smaller. And people wondered why others left. Meanwhile the quality of the posts that were being shared just spiraled into boredom. There were seriously people that just posted pictures of themselves every day to get some sort of boost of self esteem in their dreary lives. “Please tell me I’m not hideously ugly by posting comments below.” That’s not contributing to a conversation. It’s the equivalent of going “Hey, look at me! Look at me!”

A few weeks ago I got into a heated debate about the upcoming Akira remake. People got really mad that I had a different opinion of them. Instead of engaging in a discussion like an adult, I was just called names and mostly ignored because it’s a lot easier to just stick your head in the sand if people don’t share your view on something that you feel passionate enough about to post a link about online. This put a real sour taste in my mouth about the whole community and I stayed away from the site for a bit. This has been maintained since then pretty much.

More recently, with the death of Osama Bin Laden, most of the people on FriendFeed seemed to stick their noses in the air, looking down on people on Facebook (which you could just tell they said with a sneer) who were “celebrating death.” I’m sorry but Bin Laden was directly responsible for the deaths of a shit load of people. Please excuse some folks who feel the slightest bit of closure as a result of the death of a mass murdering fuck-head. I commented on one such post but to no avail.

I’m just tired of this site now. I know I’m not the only one but I just don’t care anymore. FriendFeed has connected me with a handful of truly awesome people. Fortunately they’re also on Facebook and Twitter so I can stay in touch with them there without having to deal with the closemindedness of the rest of that community. So now I can free up some space on my bookmarks toolbar on my browser. If you need me, I’ll be on Facebook.

Dear Bobby Flay, I Am Not a Lunatic

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I went to the Scripps upfront presentation on Wednesday. For those that don’t know, Scripps owns a number of cable networks including HGTV, Food Network, and Travel Channel. An upfront presentation is when the network shows off the programs that are coming up in the new season in an attempt to get advertisers to shell out some cash. I’ve only been to one such event and I was interested in seeing what another company did.

When I got to the location and checked in, I saw that they had a few panels set up on either side of the room with hosts of popular Scripps shows on either side. I don’t have cable so I didn’t know who any of these people were. My Mom does though and she’s a big fan of the Food Network, so I got the idea that I would head over to whomever was there from the Food Network and see if I could get a short video of said celebrity saying hi to my Mom. I could then send her the video or upload it to Facebook and it would be great. The talent from the Food Network was Bobby Flay, host of numerous shows.

After all the hullabaloo died down, I got on line to get my picture taken with Mr. Flay. I waited patiently and then got up there and said hello. Someone took my picture and then I said the following “Can I ask you a favor? My Mom is a huge fan. Could you just say hi to her? I have my phone here…” and that’s when I was cut off by Flay’s handler. She said “Can we do the rest of the pictures first?” I said sure, that’s not a problem. Thank you! A couple more people went up to take a picture with the guy and then when they were set his handler promptly escorted him away.

It was about this time that I realized my grave mistake. I had intended to take a short video as there’s a camera in my phone. They probably thought I was going to call my Mom on the phone and hand it to Bobby Flay like some crazy person. No wonder they rushed him away as soon as the pictures were over. Needless to say, I was somewhat embarrassed by the whole experience. So, Bobby Flay, as I’m sure you’re reading this. Rest assured, I’m not a lunatic. I just wanted to get a video of you saying hi to my Mom.

Does This Officially Make Me an Adult?

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I’ve been living in an apartment for almost five years now and I’ve grown tired of it. Sure, I really dig my apartment but it doesn’t feel like a home, you know? I’ve longed for the time when I could afford to buy a place to live that I can do whatever I want to and not have to worry about changing everything back to what it looked like before. Sure, I’d have to do things like shovel snow and mow the lawn, but it would be worth it to me.

My goal after Monica and I got married was that we would be able to buy a house by the time our lease is up in July. We weren’t sure that we could afford it though. We actually met with a financial adviser at our bank to take a look at things and everything looked OK. Beginning in February, we started looking at houses in Rockland County. I work in that area so it would be OK for me. Monica just started a new job in Tarrytown so there would be a commute but nothing too bad and probably not worse than what I’m doing now which is about a half hour tops.

We saw about 8 houses and most of them were total shitholes but because they’re in NY and this close to the city, they were expensive. There were some that weren’t bad but would require a lot of updating. Then we found this one house. It was just above our price range but it was damn near perfect. It had almost everything we wanted and plenty of space. After looking at it once, I asked my Dad to come take a look at it with us. Since he’s a carpenter, I wanted him to give it a once over to see if there was anything glaring that we should know about. Everything checked out. We had some questions about the house though so we were waiting. Monica and I had decided we would put an offer in on the house.

Then a couple days later, the realtor called me to answer a few of our questions. She then told me that someone else had put an offer in on the house. It was now or never. We put an offer in, knowing that we had a max that was still a bit below the asking price. We then went back and forth on the price for a day or two before we hit our max price. This was it. We couldn’t go any higher and from what we understand, the seller was basically comparing us to the other buyer and they were going to take whichever one we wanted. We waited another day or so before the realtor called to let us know that our offer was accepted. We got the house.

We had to move fast though. They wanted things set up right away. That was not a problem for us so we got an inspection lined up and an attorney in place. The inspection went well and there were only minor issues with the house, certainly nothing that we couldn’t live with. Plus we have a lot of time because we’re not closing until July.

Now we’re waiting again. The contract has been drawn up and we’re waiting for it to be reviewed by our attorney. If it all checks out, we’ll sign off on it and put a chunk of the down payment into escrow to wait until the closing when we put the rest of it down as well as any closing costs (which amount to a sizable amount unfortunately).

To give you an idea of scale, our current apartment is approximately 750 square feet. This house is almost 2,000. We’re going to move in and have rooms that will have absolutely nothing in it. I’m OK with that because seriously, why do we need a guest bedroom set up right now? Or even the second bedroom? I’m also going to have to re-do the basement for a nice media room. This will be fun though. We’ll have a housewarming party where people will have to bring their own chair so they have a place to sit. I’m looking forward to it.

“Keep God In Our City” You Know We’re in a Village, Right?

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I live in the village of Sleepy Hollow, NY (Yes, it’s a real place). The place is actually pretty small and consists of about a dozen delis, laundromats, and churches. From time to time there’s some sort of religious event and one of the churches throws some big party or parade. Once a group of church-goers walked down the road carrying a giant crucified Jesus. Since my apartment looks out over the main street in the village, I see this stuff whenever it happens.

This past weekend a pickup truck was making laps around the area. In the back were a group of people with a sound system. The truck was towing a trailer with about 10-15 people in it. On the back of the trailer was a giant billboard that read “Keep God In Our City.” There was a woman at the front of the trailer with a microphone saying things in Spanish and then saying stuff about God and Jesus including “If you’re sick, God will heal you.” Even with our windows closed, we still heard them like they were right outside.

This just pissed me off. I don’t really care about religion but I cannot stand when people try to force theirs down my throat. Here I was sitting in my living room, minding my own business and then the Jesus crowd barges in, shouting about how God can cleanse my sins and stuff. Leave me alone.

Also, their sign didn’t make any sense. This is a village, not a city. If you’re going to parade through the area at least get your verbiage right.

After they made about 4 or 5 laps, my lovely wife Monica actually called the cops. She didn’t get all mad with them or anything. She just calmly asked if the officer knew when this parade would be ending. The cop just said that they had permission to do this. No end time was given. Thanks buddy!

Fortunately the God parade ended after a couple more laps so I was able to go back to my peaceful weekend.

On the Subject of Reviewing

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I’ve been reviewing a ton of stuff for HorrorTalk recently. What started as just comics has branched into movies and books as well. I’ve had the pleasure of reading and seeing some great stuff and I’ve questioned why I was doing this after reading and watching some horribly made entertainment. I’m a big supporter of independent filmmaking and publishing but doing something without the help of a major studio or publishing house is no excuse for laziness. I’ve read too many books recently that are just poorly edited. People today seem to rely too much on the spellcheck tool in Microsoft Word. Simple mistakes like using the wrong version of There / They’re / Their or just using a wrong word altogether pop up all too frequently in these works and it’s getting increasingly frustrating to read through them. If I was getting something published and I was asking someone to pay money for my product I would proof read the shit out of that book. I’d have friends read it and give me honest feedback and look for mistakes because I wouldn’t want to be put in a position where I’d look foolish, nor would I want someone to feel cheated if they bought my book and it was filled with glaring errors.

On the plus side of all this, I’ve recently been invited to a few press screenings which has been really cool. Last week I saw a double feature of Black Death and I Saw the Devil. Next week I’ll be seeing Hobo With a Shotgun.

It’s an Internet Miracle

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I’ve been doing a lot of trading on SwapaDVD over the past few months. I’ve been able to get rid of DVDs I don’t like and stuff that I’ve upgraded to Blu Ray for so it’s been a good site. The way it works is someone requests a DVD from me then I mail it to them. In exchange I get a credit good for one disc. I can use that credit to order a DVD from someone else. It goes on and on. Once you receive a DVD, you go to the site to mark it received in order to give the sender credit for it.

Recently I ordered a copy of Year of the Dragon starring Mickey Rourke. After I hadn’t received the disc for awhile, the sender sent me the following private message:

HI JAMES

YOU SHOULD HAVE RECEIVED THE DVD YEAR OF THE DRAGON BY NOW, PLEASE CHECK YOUR MAILBOX, AND MARK RECEIVE SO THAT I CAN GET MY CREDIT.

THANKS

Needless to say, I was slightly offended. First of all, there’s no need to yell. We can settle our differences in a civil manner. Secondly, I know how the site works and I know how to check my mailbox. There’s no need to tell me how to do this. I got it. It just so happened that I was able to get to my PO Box the next day and the DVD was there. I sent the following message back.

Thank you for the reminder, Pat, but as you saw by my address, this was sent to a PO Box. Unfortunately with my current schedule I am unable to get the post office during operating hours throughout the week. As a result I am only able to check the PO Box on Saturdays. I just did and your DVD arrived safe and sound.

PS: When you write in all caps on the Internet it means you’re yelling.

Have a blessed day.

James.

I figured that would be the end of it. I can go on with my DVD in hand and continue doing whatever I was doing while this other guy could get his credit and maybe have a little food for thought when dealing with other people on the Internet in the future. Then two days later I receive the following:

James
thanks for the tip! and now,

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU !

Did I do the impossible? Did I actually teach someone that types in all caps that it’s rude to type in all caps? Did I make a change? I like to think so. I also like to think that the Internet is a better place because of it. You’re welcome, Internet.

I’m Canceling Because My Husband is an Idiot

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Monica and I ran several errands today. One of them was canceling her gym membership. When speaking with the guy at the front desk, he asked for a reason for the cancellation. The real reason is that Monica signed up to tone up a bit before our honeymoon. This was a huge success as she looked (and still does look) amazing. On the way out I started thinking about bizarre reasons we could have given the guy instead because you know, we’d never see this place again. Here are a few we came up with.

-There’s too much snow outside.
-This place smells like sweat.
-The Barbie-looking chick sexually harassed me.
-I’m going to go eat a pizza.

I’m still thinking of a few more. If you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments.

The Old Lady at the Post Office

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I’ve had my issues with the post office in the past but lately I’ve been pretty OK with them. More recently, I’ve become a fan of the little old lady that now works on Saturdays. The local post office is only open from 8-12 on Saturdays. Since this is pretty much the only day I can make it there to check my PO Box, I’ve become pretty familiar with the Saturday group. This little old lady is new and she doesn’t care. Now the previous Saturday cashier didn’t care either but he was an asshole. Lynda is nice though. Plus she knows who I am after only two visits.

Case in point, this past Saturday there was a line all the way to the door when I got there. I checked my PO Box and hopped on line to pick up my packages. After some time I got up to the counter and Lynda grabbed a big basket of packages. There were about 12 or so total. All but one of them had a delivery confirmation bar code on them which need to be scanned. Lynda can’t seem to get this to work for me ever. So she takes all of the packages out of the basket one by one and then proceeds to type in each code. She does this with a smile on her face too. The line is starting to wrap around the place now and she couldn’t care less. I can just imagine the signs and eye-rolls that came from the people behind me.

Aside from being nice to me I don’t know why I like this lady so much more than the other guy that works there. I just hope she can eventually get the scanner to work because I don’t always have a half hour to kill waiting at the post office.

Adorable Kittens Version 2.0

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It’s no secret that we’ve had some bad luck when it comes to pets. Despite that, Monica and I wanted to get another pair of kittens. We spoke with the same cat rescue place that we used last time and set everything up some time ago. After the horrible experience we went through we wanted to make sure that any kittens that came into our home were as safe as possible. We cleaned everything we possibly could and had the kittens vaccinated. We were able to pick them up a week or two after we got back from our honeymoon.

Meet our new kittens, Darwin and Nolan. Darwin is the tabby and slightly smaller than his brother Nolan. They’re from the same litter and they’re now about 15 weeks old.

They’ve been home for a few weeks and so far they’re doing well. We have had some minor difficulties though. Nolan came down with a parasite that caused him to just kind of leak diarrhea out of his ass. Everywhere he went he’d leave these little drops of poop. This resulted in a lot of cleaning on our part and just trying to keep up with him. At night we’d isolate him in the bathroom because it was the one room that we could actually close up. Every morning I’d have to clean the entire bathroom and then I’d have to clean the cat. It was an experience. Fortunately his pooper stopped leaking yesterday and it was a glorious day.

Now they’re just being kittens and it’s great.

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