Tag Archives: advertising

It’s That Time Again

As we anxiously await another episode of Leave It to SCOTUS the results of the US presidential election, whose TV commercial sponsors in the US are traditionally watch manufacturers, it’s a chance to turn back the clock (don’t forget our time difference with the US east coast jumped up from 13 to 14 hours Sunday), and think about history, and history in the making. And pizza (knew that’d getcha).

In the past few months, on trips to Marino pasta and pizza restaurant, I was struck most not by anything on the menu, but by the music they play – 70′s pop of various styles: folk rock, art rock, disco, proto-soft rock, you name it. It’s certainly not a grouping of music I have any special fondness for as such – it’s dated, but not (to me, excluding disco) in a good way. It’s just what was being played on radios back when choices, especially for tweens and teens, were more limited. I even enjoy some eighties music more than this. But it definitely brings back memories.

45s Pushing 45

There are plenty of songs you’ve heard from time to time through the years since the decade of blacklights, bellbottoms and back-to-nature. The difference with many that I hear in Marino’s stream is, I heard them with intense repetition when they were hits, but I haven’t heard them even once in the 35 or 40 succeeding years.

The number of lunch customers at Marino is such that the chatter is a very effective white noise that cuts out much of the music. You’re left with bits and pieces of hooks, riffs, rhythms and melodies you’d otherwise recognize immediately, teasing you from just out of reach. It’s a strange sensation.

One tune I caught the end of coming back from the drink bar last time was “Sweet City Woman,” by a band called The Stampeders. This is actually one of those I’ve occasionally heard or remembered through the years, but it still hit a sweetspot. I don’t know why, but its licks had my ear whenever it came on the AM radio all summer one year four decades ago. Other songs that I knew by heart had totally slipped my mind until almost magically coming back through the diner din. I wonder what the customers must think, if anything. Most weren’t around the first time around, so have no memory to be jogged.

Anyway, for me it’s become a weird timeslip experience and history lesson whenever I go to the restaurant. Not being a fan of the music, I wouldn’t actively seek it out, but since it’s there, I let it tickle my neurons like someone straightening up an old attic. Maybe the reshuffling will enable other brain connections to turn on new light bulbs over my head in unexpected ways. Or maybe I’ll just have that sweet city woman licking my ears and dancing in my head again.

As for the food at Marino, they’ve reworked their weekday pasta and pizza bar lunch special so that you don’t have to get dessert, making it a better value. Most recently I went on a Sunday, when they have pasta and pizza specials that include their veggie-salad-filled antipasto bar. These specials do include the three desserts. Lunch (at least) is always all non-smoking.

Among the few antipasto items I didn’t try was something that looked awfully like a Waldorf salad, at which wrinkle-browed Japanese have always turned their heads askew whenever I’ve described it. I think it had some Italian name. Like the Nixon, Ford and Carter presidencies, and the seventies themselves, it all comes to ¥1980.

Not a Player

Fate led me to pachinko last weekend. Nothing else was going to, that’s for sure.

Parlor Games

I was asked to appear Sunday on FM Pipi’s (76.3 mHz) weekly live broadcast from Zent pachinko center, to talk a bit about the business I work for. It’s a segment of the Sunday show that introduces local businesses to listeners.

Driving into the sprawling new complex at the corner of routes 19 and 248, I was struck, though I was already well aware of it, by what I have to say is the questionable use of human potential and money represented by the vast tonnage of cars parked and stacked outside.

On entering the building, the indescribable (like all sounds ever made blasted at once, or maybe something Mephistopheles would have on his mp3 player?) arcade cacophony followed me into the multi-purpose studio, though apparently not across the airwaves.

Regarding another reason I’ve avoided the parlors since trying one at someone’s insistence decades ago, I actually noticed a “smoking area,” which makes me think, goodness forbid, smoking may actually be banned?

After the show, the boss and I (it was a joint appearance) had lunch at the Nagoya-based Sugakiya ramen outlet in the building (smoking allowed there), which also has its own Circle K convenience store and (how convenient) ATMs. Sugakiya also has branches at Valor supermarkets. This bowl was ¥580 and not as burdensomely filling as a lot of ramen. I thought the photo deserved its own memery (my word, “memery,” as far as I know, though I wouldn’t be surpised if someone else long ere planted a flag there).

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Something From Nothing

And another excuse to slap block letters on an otherwise inferior foodie photo and call it macaroni: These “tofu donuts” sold at Sun Mall supermarket in Toki were pretty darn good. The words basically refer to leaving only the center of an image in focus to draw attention there.

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Stalking the Wild Rhubarb

A Taste of the Old Country

Perhaps if I had to choose one food I miss from the US that I can hardly get in Japan, besides whole turkey, it would be rhubarb. Enter this rhubarb jam from Musée de Paris in Tsurugasawa, Midori-ku, Nagoya.

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I had some on toast and even with yogurt, in which it tasted especially like rhubarb pie. That’s a taste for sore buds, right at home in a midsummer night’s dessert. Yogurt (I prefer regular plain Bulgaria from Meiji) with jam for breakfast is also a good way to get a cool start on these sultry dog days. I just learned why they’re called that: It’s when Sirius, the Dog Star, rises and sets opposite the sun. So much for the lazy dog theory.

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While not unheard of, rhubarb is a rarity in any form in this country. I recall the Anna Miller’s family restaurant chain in the Kanto area (good Reuben sandwiches as well) used to serve the pie. And I remember seeing a recipe at a cafe in Nagoya for, I think, rhubarb lemonade. I’m still trying to find a place that actually sells fresh stalks. Don’t make the same mistake I made many years ago – promising to make rhubarb pie for my Japanese host family, only to find out that the fuki I bought shared nothing in common with rhubarb except similar looks. Unqualified fiasco.

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Below, pineapple and Paradis (amaou strawberry/passionfruit) varieties from Musée.

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A bowl of Grape-Nuts served by an Anna Miller’s waitress to anyone who gets today’s title. You’ll know if you lived consciously through the seventies in the States and had a TV.

Summer Snacktime

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Summer is in full gear, and besides eel and cold noodles to fortify yourself, there’s always kakigouri, shaved ice, among traditional Japanese ways to eat the heat. Here, green tea and strawberry milk mountains of ice, simple yet straight to the jugular, are attacked from the peak down at Lamp Cafe. It was agreed about half this size is really enough.

In other summer refreshment news, pomelo is now available for a limited time as a shochu flavoring. Try this and the shiikuwasa and plum flavors of Suntory’s Strong Zero offerings. Soft on the carbs, but tasty and refreshing.

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And once again, with a best supporting actor award to my tatami, kudos to these genuinely different and recommendable potato chips, (lightly salted) Kata Age chips from Calbee.

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Now, I’m not a potato chip fan by any measure. But, slow-fried in oil approximately equivalent to the national petroleum reserves of Norway, these thick-sliced, “chewably delicious” golden guys are truly coronary inducing crisp. Raditional, indeed.

Sorry for the decadence. It’s a little habit I’ve picked up (plug alert) doing radio at FM Pipi, where they often test out different snacks on the air, letting listeners hear every lick, crunch, slurp and chew. Besides the eating noise factor, I also have never understood the blatant commercial product advocacy/criticism on this tax-funded public station. No complaints at all, just puzzling.

Hard to Swallow

And speaking of baffling, blatant eating sounds (if not sound eating) on the air, have I aired my supreme annoyance and flabbergasted flummoxedness at the incessant, heavy-handed use of gulping, swallowing sounds in Japanese TV commercials for beer and other drinks? I get it that it’s visceral and supposed to make the drinks more appetizing, but enough already. I’m nonplussed. Is it any accident that American TV ads don’t do that?

And a last bit of indulgence: I had some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for the first time in ages today. Now I realize why they were on sale: They melt like the Dickens in this heat (will people similarly abuse my surname in years to come? Sorry, Charlie; Hopeful me… (check out that link – credits to McCarthy-era-blacklisted Herschel Bernardi (I remember Arnie and the lunchbox/briefcase intro à la 2001), though this “alternate opening” I definitely remember in some form, and George Carlin)). I had to scrape the amorphous contents off the brown paper cup with my two front teeth.

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Yes, that Pennsylvania zip code leads you to Hershey, the now Surrey, UK-based never-say-melt competitor to Nestlé. It’s 8:45. Do you know where your fave Co is HQ’d??

And what of that “cocoa mass” ingredient? Was this written presumptively before the Higgs Boson virtual discovery announcement? As opposed to “dark matter,” “milk matter,” “cocoa antimatter,” or my midriff. Someone please end this murky matter and send the chemical makeup of cocoa mass.

More Alien Craft

Literally a couple of minutes after seeing what I was told is one of the fastest (zero to sixty in 2.8 seconds) cars in the world, a Nissan GT-R at the Matsuya parking lot (spent it all on the ride?? Love gyuudon that much???), I spied this First Series Fiat Multipla, which I recall recently being ranked one of the ugliest cars in the world.

Try checking out darkroastedblend.com on anything BUT your iPhone; I think that was the link; iPhone safari leads you on a… safari, to put it mildly. This is not a small point. Someone please take note. See what a human being experiences in the course of a REAL search. Update: Found it here, alas still not working on an iPhone; scroll to the middle of the page, though the whole thing is worth a look. It also made Time Magazine’s worst 50 list, and the Telegraph’s Ugliest 100 (came in at number 2!). My personal addition to any ugly car list has to be the Mitsuoka Viewt. For one thing, it looks like the chassis belongs to a completely different car from the body. It’s actually a modification of a Nissan March.

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Not as bad from the rear as from the front, trust me. The odd light is from reflections inside a kei van. Multipla. Sheesh, even the name is unwieldy. But never fear, it’s got the T and A, so to speak (check out the Afghanistan reference at that link for a tickle; Sorry to make light of such a heavy matter), to reinforce the Fiat name. I, too. Branding 101: For every model (or slogan) that doesn’t reinforce its make (or brand) by including some of the same letters, there are a hundred that do: Honda Accord; New York Yankees; Colorado Rockies (Double points to Coors Beer for corporate sponsorshop; Kentucky Fried Chicken – It’s Finger Lickin’ Good; Nokia – Connecting People; Olympus – Your Vision. Our Future; Diesel (Jeans) – Be Stupid, etc..

Alphabetical Disorder

It’s a seemingly inalienable rule of ostensibly rule-hating (e.g., TBWA calls itself “The Disruption Agency”) marketing and advertising hacks everywhere. Yeah, there’s value in phonological/orthographic reinforcement, but enough to justify this blind devotion to a rather arbitrary criterion? And in probable frequent attempts to have it work subliminally, marketers also, I think, often insult consumers’ intelligence. If your product or service is good enough, you shouldn’t need to make use of such tricks. And by the way, thank you very much once again for patronizing Tajimi.mobi Bits & Morsels. Ta-Taa.

Update: Qualifying as alien craft, license plates spotted In the past couple of days: Tochigi (took a photo, but the sun’s reflection made it a lost cause; I went there within a month after first arriving in alien Japan in 1983, so it brings back memories), and Tsukuba.

Who You Callin’ Wishy-Washy, and the Marvelous Human Brain

A couple of reactions to something I read within the past day about the death of conservative pundit/blogger/activist Andrew Breitbart. I’m not making any comment about the late publisher himself, just about an article I saw.

What I read mentioned that he was actually a former liberal. I’d like to say, sometimes the most intractable conservatives are indeed former liberals. I don’t know about Breitbart’s particular case, but these people are often too new to the idea of seeing that extreme liberalism isn’t the best way to go, to see that going the other extreme isn’t good either. It’s a classic oversimplification. The key is to realize the two extremes are not the only two possibilities; to hold both of these realizations at the same time, within the same individual.

Another thing the article I read (sorry, I’ve lost track of it) had was a quote from someone on the left saying something to the effect that, “At least you knew where Breitbart stood; he meant what he said.” I resent what may or may not be implied here, but at any rate sometimes seems to be implied when extremists speak of extremists on the opposite side: that moderates either have no opinion, can’t make up their minds, are hedging their bets, preferring to sit on the fence until a likely winner becomes apparent, are apathetic/wishy-washy/not passionate about their opinions, or only speak of being moderate but in fact are extremists in disguise. These are appallingly ignorant blanket assumptions that only confirm some extremists’ lack of careful thinking.

For the record, I’ll only say I’m neither an extremist on either side, nor a straight-down-the-middle moderate. And I’m well aware things aren’t necessarily limited to a purely two-dimensional spectrum anyway. But at any rate, I am where I am because of, if I may say, experience, non-fair-weather dues-paying, and critical thinking.

That article also mentioned that Breitbart’s father-in-law was the actor Orson Bean. Oddly enough, within the past week I was watching some public domain videos of the old “To Tell The Truth” TV game show, on which the witty Mr. Bean was a regular panelist when I used to watch. The episodes were from the sixties, and, among other same-era clips I was watching, amazed me at how some things, like specific lines in TV commercials or jingles, come back clear as a bell decades later. Even though these memories have been locked away untouched for so long, and in fact you didn’t even know the memories were there, they’ve been there as some sort of bioelectrical configuration in your smaller-than-a-head-of-lettuce brain all this time, when you’ve been occupied with a million other things. And there they show themsleves, completely intact. Amazing.

And Now For a Word From Our Sponsor

Goody, goody. Another one hit me. I’d thought of this many times as a local lingerer that long ago fell by the western wayside, but hadn’t seen it in the context of my J-Jurassic Park menagerie until tonight.

TV shows here still regularly frame portions of their programs with their version of the quintessential authoritative white male announcer’s “Brought to you by…” or “Sponsored by…”

The only difference is, the announcers here, which include women, aren’t laffably full of their own enunciation and vocal modulation and depth as the fifties/sixties (and before that on radio) American male announcers invariably came off as. And the sponsors themselves are often more numerous and often only superimposed as logo graphics, not spoken. Anyone who didn’t watch American TV in the sixties or earlier has no idea what I’m talking about. Or maybe they they’ve rerun that kind of thing on TVLand or something, I don’t know. Use your imagination if need be, kids.

Maybe the use of announcers in general, something of a phenomenon of its own here, with fansites and inter-network competitions and such, is a distinct case of Galapagosian evolution, replete with customary Japanese replication and refinement.

Just a reminder, when I make these kinds of observations, it’s neither necessarily criticism nor adulation. It may just be a search for an ostensibly definable talking point to get me through dang near every last entry I make here a slow blogging day.

“This portion of the weblog has been brought to you by [cue slight audio glitch as splice of inserted interchangeable section of audio tape with highest bidder arbitrary content becomes apparent] Tajimi.mobi – The hottest site in your hand, from the hottest city in the land.”

Now that’s product placement.

Pretty Ugly

I boxed myself into this, and with no plan and little time remaining thus have no choice, so the result may not be pretty. Actually, it’s supposed to be ugly, although in a way it’s so pretty that my possible failure may qualify as backup ugly.

I’m talking about my choice for The Ugly of product placement, as opposed to The Good and The Bad. The product itself is almost certainly a hardly assailable thing of beauty, and eco-friendly at that, from an impeccable company. It’s just the blur between movie trailer and car commercial (tagline: “Rethink Impossible”) that, given my self-imposed mission deadline, will have to suffice as ugly. Here‘s the video link. The ad, and not the car or the movie, is the issue.

Leading the way at the box office both Christmas and New Year’s weekends, the new Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol movie (“No Plan. No Backup. No Choice”), which looks to be a solid action thriller living up to all expectations, features the BMW Vision Efficient Dynamics electric concept car, expected to enter production as the i8 in the next few years.

BMW is the “main automotive partner” of the film. By all accounts, the i8 is an ultra-stylish, high performance, low emission 4WD 2+2 hybrid sports grand tourer, set to take its proud place among a pantheon of other notable “i” autos like the BMW Mini.

Product placement is nothing new in movies, but this dedicated collaboration seems to take it to new heights. I wonder if the car has any lines.

Now Showing: Planet Placement II

By the way, if you look out tonight, Jupiter and the moon are now paired about the same distance apart as with last week’s/month’s/year’s Venus passing. Tomorrow night there’ll be a meteor shower. Good show.

Give ‘em the Boot

And finally, speaking of ugly, the spambots constantly sending phony comments to this blog seem, like everyone else, to have taken the New Year’s weekend off! Maybe they’re enjoying sumptuous dinners of homemade spam with their bot-in-laws, drinking bot toddies, and vegging out on La-Z-Bots and bottomans, watching the Botbuster Bowl. Sponsored by a certain brand of boots that just happens to recently be one of their comments’ main spam links, and just happens to sound a lot like “ugly.”

Update: Maybe it was only my marking previous spam as spam that finally started keeping the notices from reaching my mailbox.  On going to edit the blog online, I see the comments were piling up as hot and heavy as ever.

Sometimes Timing is Everything

Based on positive reviews, I made the jump to a new version (2.9.3) of the WordPress for iOS blogging app. It looks to be working all right (my iPhone is still on the last version of iOS 4; I haven’t moved yet to the newly released WordPress 3.3 (in a nice touch, named for jazz saxophonist Sonny Stitt)). The “feature-rich” content editor will make things easier.

As I’ve said, not all updates to WordPress iOS (or many other apps) should be downloaded willy-nilly. Read up on the comments in the AppStore, and get only when you won’t regret. Now looks like a good time for this one.

Don’t forget after hefty app downloads to hold down the power button (not the home button) to bring up the red “slide to power off” switch, and shut down and likewise restart a few seconds after the spinning icon stops.

And do check the WordPress iOS forum if you have problems. A lot of users’ distress could probably be dissipated if they checked there.

Nightfall

Above, the last vestiges of light catch the tail end of autumn this evening. I checked, and the solstice is at 2:28 PM on Thursday.

How about Comet Lovejoy that last week came through its sizzling day in the sun but lost its tail like a curious cat skittering out of the jaws of disaster with one less life (and maybe a little less swagger (or wagger)) to show for it? I smell a new ad campaign for Coppertone or something.

Totally Cool Biz, Literally Branded By the Sun

Or, hey, a new product that could play off the suddenly scrappy reputation of the intrepid asteroid that came out of nowhere and was headed there as well, but, Brave New Worldlet, returned its seatback to its upright position, braced for virtually certain oblivion, stayed the course, and somehow came through it alive, a Cinderella cinder & ice ball. A product with a name made in heaven (and immortalized by Ian McShane) that capitalizes on something with a snowball’s chance that should’ve happened only when hell froze over:

“Sunglasses by LoveJoy. Never Lose Your Cool;” “The LoveJoy beer chiller: Because Happiness May be a Warm Gun, But a Lukewarm Sixpack is a Crime;” “LoveJoy extreme sport helmets: Come Through in One Piece;” “LoveJoy precision piercing. We Did the Sun; We Can Probably Find a Soft Spot in You;” “LoveJoy Legal – When All Odds Are Against You, Remember LoveJoy;” “LoveJoy luxury cookware. Don’t Get Burned – Get LoveJoy…”

Or this: The First Annual Cool Down Streak for Global Warming Awareness – December 22, 2011, sponsored by LoveJoy: One billion people, dauntless and stark naked for the planet they love. “You may find yourself starting to shrink in the face of raw nature, but better you than the Maldives…”

Jumpin’ Jack Flash – So Much Fun With Frozen Gas

And like the comet, the potential product list goes on: Iced Coffee; Summer-proof PopSicles; At the very least, a cocktail (I wouldn’t be surprised if the Dinner Party Download is already on it); Antacid; Breath mints; Vapor Rub; Anti-perspirant; Ice packs/sprays; Self-cooling clothes; Condoms. Goll, this thing could really snowball.

Perpetual Motion Realized

I beg your pardon for this brazen blazin’ branding brainstorm. Force of habit. Blame it on my boss’s obsession with trying to constant drive to try to come up with the next big thing. We start bouncing around brand strategies, logo designs or domain names, get possessed, and just can’t stop. It takes on a life of its own. Kind of like Lovejoy.