A compilation of random and interesting things, musings, musics, videos, and more. Brought to you by a UChicago student with a penchant for procrastination.

Monday, June 11, 2007

This is the Day!

I'm a fan of M&M's. There's just something special about those iconic hard shelled sweets that can't be denied. Each lower case 'm' stamped individually onto each little bit of chocolate just seems like an affirmation of the magic of marketing and for the most part M&M's has been able to play the game relatively well over the years. Ultimately, while they may often compete with Starburst when facing off for my vending-machine change, they're a candy I just can't say no to.

Unless of course it's Lent, I've given up chocolate, but I get the chance to hop-skip through the 3 story tall M&M's store in New York City's Times Square ...

Fight it, fight it, fight it ...

But, I digress. I've been meaning to tackle this latest round of M&M's advertising, which has both my marketing sensibilities and candy love working over time. While I've found the anthropomorphized red and yellow characters to be great representatives of the brand, the idea has been expanded vastly to encompass not only the family of colors (the crazy minis, smexy green, etc) but now each and every member of the M&M's nation!

You can check out these "Inner M" commercials on the M&M's commercials page. Or right here:

Sure the idea is clever and they even have an M&M avatar promotion behind it, whereby you can make your own freaky 3D M&M avatar, but that's not the main reason why I've gotta love the commercials ... even though my M&M me is oh-so lovable.

The MAIN reason has definitely got to be the supremely good music choices M&M has recently begun to use for its commercials. While they can't touch the randomness factor of a good Starburst or Altoids commercial with a 10 foot pole, they can surely get enough music ear worms around that the commercials becomes memorable for almost that sole reason.

Case in point, the last commercial to get this treatment used Iron & Wine's Such Great Heights to an amazing effect - giving M&M's the mellow indie cred that is as almost as sweet as chocolate itself. As people returned from commercial, finding themselves unable to shake the tune of this catchy but obscure song, they were forced to look beyond the top pop charts and dig a little deeper. All the while then, M&M basked in the beautiful synergy of good music and web-literate listeners.

Now, as listeners come out of this latest round of commercials, yearning to find out more - they're pointed to the M&M's main page ... but, I can cut out that middle man. The source of this amazing song is none other than the eighties, nineties, and even 00's under appreciated sensation, The The.

Yes, that's right, the band's name is The The.

And here's the music video for their catchy chocolate commercial cameo. Enjoy!

What's more, if you're like me and need to have this song around - whether on computer or iPod, you can find it on The The's album Soul Mining (through The The's website) ... or listen to it here

The The - This is the Day (mp3 via Rapidshare)

So now that I've devoted an irretrievable part of my life to blogging about chocolate commercial tunes, I feel about ready to drown my self-pity in a sea of colorful chocolate friends ... hmm, M&M's you may have made the best possible choice yet, what with pandering to a demographic of New Wave loving bloggers! Kudos! While today may not be the day, tomorrow will be the day -- my life will surely change!

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Little City Used Book Sale

I love books. It's a fact.

After coming home from college with two huge boxes worth of philosophy texts, course materials, books gleaned from rummage sales, and my old favorites I thought I would be set for the summer. But that was before I heard about the Little City Foundation's Used Book sale!
Here's a quick description from the Skokie Review:
The world's largest book sale will be held at the Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center June 9 - 17. Over 200,000 books will be on display and 50,000 people are expected to attend. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Little City Foundation, based in Palatine.
Needless to say, I was already salivating at the mere mention of "world's largest book sale," but the thought of all those discounted prices and the charitable aspect of it all -- I was simply shocked by the fact that I hadn't heard about the sale in years past!

Thanks to a bit of background information from the article, "Little City steps in to save book sale", it would seem that Brandeis University, who had previously used the platform of the sale to raise money for its library, has passed on its 48 year tradition to a new batch of volunteers. Now on year 49, the Little City Foundation, whose work benefits children and adults with mental retardation and developmental challenges, appears to be making the sale an even greater success. I was really impressed by the efforts of all of the volunteers and the dedication of some of the shoppers (some of who were taking home cart-fulls of books) ... but most impressive of all were the books themselves.

Two yellow tent-fulls of them to be exact!

I was really impressed by how well organized all of the books were! With sections for just about everything tagged with helpful signs it was all really, really well planned out. The first tent housed a vast collection of fiction and literature, divided up into genres, and even by hardcover/paperback distinctions. The second tent meanwhile got into the non-fiction and specific genres, things like human sexuality (see above), science, business, US History, art, humor writing, romance, comics, signed books, children's ... just to name a few. Of course for all the relative organization, it was the opening night, and the possibilities for craziness were tempered by a $5 donation entry fee ... but I'm sure as the numbers of visitors swell, the small army of volunteers bustling about will be able to meet the challenge.
Here are some more scenes from under the tents:

What? Cliff Notes? Book nerds shall not stand for this!

The children's book section was absolutely swamped.

The shopping carts were a bit difficult to maneuver,
but after a while became necessary!

I was able to come out of the sale after a relatively short time (thanks for keeping me on task Callie!) with some amazing finds. Vonnegut, Murakami, Dostoyevsky, a Faulkner box set ... and some really popular reads: Kite Runner, Catch-22, Atlas Shrugged all for really low prices. I even got a hardcover of A Brief History of Time, which I had been holding off on for quite a while, due to the steep $20+ pricetag at most every book store - it was only $2.50! Well, I got a whopping thirteen amazing books (and that's after weeding out my pickings) for only $35. All of the books are actually in really good shape, no more than the wear of a library book in most cases, and I'm sure if I had bought them all new they would certainly have cost well over $100. I was so pleasantly surprised - I definitely have to recommend this sale to everyone!

If you have the chance to go this year, here's a quick rundown of the schedule. More information can be found via this convenient pdf flyer for the 2007 sales.
Sunday, June 10: 10am - 9pm
Monday, June 11 to Thursday, June 14: 11am - 8pm
Friday, June 15: 11am - 5pm

(Bargain Weekend)
Saturday, June 16: 6pm - 10pm
Sunday, June 17: 11am - 5pm
Even if you're not bookish by nature (and no, that's not code ... for now), just go, there is a section for everyone there - and you'll be sure to come away with a least one amazing find, for yourself or for someone else! Besides, the proceeds go to a good cause, so what more incentive do you need? Also, if you'd like to donate books or volunteer, both are options I'll be looking into for next year. Did I mention I love books?

Read more about the event in the Daily Herald -- Little City, big sale

Update (6/6/2008) -- I got a really nice e-mail from the PR people at Little City with a schedule for their 2008 sale. Since I realize my blog probably gets some of their traffic, I'll include a link to their latest line up as well! I'm definitely going to try and get some more book this year, though with finals right around the corner, I'll probably have to put off reading them for a bit :(

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Candy Mountain?

At my last visit to Old Orchard Mall, I was taken aback by a certain shop stand that I saw while walking around the open air shopping center ...

Now I've seen Charlie the Unicorn enough times on YouTube to know that it's become a bit of an internet meme and quite possibly even one of those pop culture references that will drive people insane. But when I saw this stand, the first thing that came to my mind was "Candy Mountain, Charlie!" and I sincerely hope I'm not the only one whose mind jumped to that conclusion.
Now if at this point you have no idea what I'm talking about, just watch the video below:

What do you guys think, could the unicorns truly be funneling their kidney-sale monies to shoddy mall ventures? Is this a coincidence enough to make some sort of valid connection? Could letter shaped plush toys ever be popular enough with mall dwelling pre-teens without the push of a catchy online fad? Or are you all just non-believers ... ("Shun the non-believer. Shuuuuunn, shuuuuunuunnnNAH!")

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The Truth is out there!

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