Friday, June 30, 2006

Happy Independence Day

The subject of Diet Coke/Mint Mentos geysers came up at lunch. If you haven't tried it yet, why not make it park of your Independence Day Celebration. 13 Mentos per pack. 13 original states. SPOOKY.

This YouTube embed demonstrates solid techique.

The following NPR segments are nice. Not a story I expected to pop-up there.
Don't Miss: Mentos Redux

An Explosive Pair: Take a Mentos, and a Diet Coke...

Teddy Bear Band

A Teddy Bear desiged by Philippe Starke

Description from Philippe Starke's site:
TeddyBearBand. In my opinion, an overabundance of toys fosters infidelity. Instead of forming a lasting attachment to one toy, the child flits ever faster from one to another, the greater the number of toys, the more frantic the pace. There is no reason that, later on, he or she should treat people, a friend or a lover any differently. As an advocate of the one-true-love approach, I dreamt of a single toy that would serve as an apprenticeship for the lasting human relationships that await our children. A surreal toy, TeddyBearBand stimulates the imagination, considerabily more than any mere plush bear. It removes love and friendship from the realm of disposable emotions.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Cultural Mainframe: Radical Simplicity

My last post, The Sherman Foundation 2006 Calender, doesn't serve any real purpose. It was just the result of me screwing around with a Google app I haven't used yet, Google Calender. I was thinking about all the cool, wonderful tools that have popped up in the last few years and the concept of "Radical Simplicity".

I worked at 2 of the "fast five" consultancies during the internet boom. Worked on lots of big, ugly website builds that were bloated with features and suffered from undisciplined, unfocused designs. Design teams working on interactive apps and software projects always talk about simplicity but in the past they rarely achieved it.

Apple is a design company that has always gotten this. The most vivid example of this to me is iMovie. I remember using Premier, the video editing software years ago. It as a complicated mess of a thing to use. Then one day Apple released iMovie. This incredibly paired-down, simplified, beautiful, easy-to-use software for editing digital video. The moment was truly paradigm shifting for me.

Apple has gone on to do this over and over. It isn't so much product innovation as just getting right what others have made a mess of for years.

Today, you see this approach of "Radical Simplicity" more and more. Think Google, Flickr, YouTube and even Blogger, the software that makes this blog possible. Design solutions that are brave enough to narrowly define what it is they do and don't do executed in an elegant way. Not as easy as you might think.

Sherman Foudation 2006 Caledar


This winter I began shooting and editing some test sequences for a slasher film I am shooting on my Treo650 phone. I thought the original test sequences were lost when a drive failed but I just found the backup. Check it out.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Art of Thomas Sherman

I've started to put together a Flickr set to showcase some of my artwork. Media type varies. I would describe the body of work as "Dark, Conceptual".

The Art of Thomas Sherman

Up Jumped the Devil (with the White Nightgown)

A favorite from my childhood. A moral tale with apples (and there are many), the devil and crossdressing. Enjoy.

TED Conference Videos

TED. The techology, entertainment and design conference founded by Richard Saul Wurman has started to make videos from the last conference available online for free. Subscribe to the TEDtalks.

i just finished listening to the talk given by Athony Robbins. Fantastic. Don't let the taint of late night infomercial keep you away. The Sherman Foudation extends its highest level of endorsement to Tony. He rocks. (C'mon, he was in Shallow Hal, with Jack Black)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Leo Burnette Website

The Leo Burnette website is one of the finest flash sites I have seen in some time. Well done!

Classic TV openers: Ultraman (US Version)

Perhaps my second all-time favorite.
The swirling type mesmerized me as a child.

Elective surgery

I've been off the ranch, reservation and radar for week, but with good reason. I participated in a medical study and volunteered for a medical procedure to have my belly button removed. Promise to post pictures and show off the new smooth torso as soon as it heals.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Systems Developed to Thwart Unwanted Video and Still Photography

A few months back, in a post on another blog a few months I wondered how long it would be before companies start to litigate against the posters of still photos and video clips for unintentional product placement? Or Google, Yahoo and YouTube for being the platforms of exchange that host such postings?

Just came across this: No Pictures Please: Researchers Develop System to Thwart Unwanted Video and Still Photography. I would really hate to see technology get in the way of participatory media. We're just getting started.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Selling Ad Space

I ordered Chinese last evening. This is the rice carton that came with my order. I can understand making a quick buck by selling the carton's surface as ad space, but, c'mon food and airlines just don't mix.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Deep Pockets, Short Arms

Despite the ever declining reach, big spending on TV continues.

What could be more fun than taking shots at the broacast model. Everyone is quoting statistics to illustrate the demise of mass media. Here are a few sources that discuss the subject in detail and in its proper context.

Chris Anderson's blog The long Tail.
The Media Meltdown thread describes how technology has created a shift from "hits" to "niches".

NPR did a good 3 part series on The Future of Television.

SEE ALSO: Among the Audiece

Its like an energy bar with curves.

That was the headline that appeared above this photo in an ad I saw in a NYC subway car this afternoon. (Very frustrating that I could not find pictures of the ads online to include with this post.)

I have a fondness for simple ads that consist of powerful headline/image juxtaposition. Anyway, it got me thinking about my tequila slogan. I wonder if there is an Agave Plant Growers association I should get in touch with?

I spent the remainder of the subway ride coming up with additional headlines.
(My original slogan for Tequila is "Tequila goes in, asshole comes out".)

Here are the others I came up with:

Tequila. You can't regret what you don't remember.

Tequila. Liquid Testicle Prosthesis.

More Kamikaze pilots prefer Tequila.

The Shovel

Last Summer I had the opportunity to work on a short film with friend and colleague Steve Hardwick.
The Shovel won the award for best narrative short at the 2006 Tribecca Film Festival.

You can see it on the Tribeca Film Festival Site.

My credits included Art Direction and Still Photography. Some of the stills can be seen on my Flickr site.


Jumpcut is an amazing, easy to use, online tool for the creation and sharing of videos.

Other features include:
You can import images directly from Flickr
Upload via email or browse publicly shared clips available on the jumpcut site
View movies made by others in the Jumpcut community

The deadline just passed for a trailer creation contest for the movie A Scanner Darkly sponsored by Jumpcut and Res Magazine. Some of the entries are better than the official trailer.

Sherman Foundation Dangerous Ideas Reading List: Captains of Cosciousness

Captains of Consciousness: Advertising and the Social Roots of the Consumer Culture.
Author: Stuart Ewen.

The industrial revolution provided the means to created mass produced goods. However, in order to capitalize on this, a lot of social engineering was necessary to create a market for these goods. This book is the finest history on the subject of the creation of consumer society ever written.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Thinking man's porn

The thinking man's porn is, well, porn. But I think its also a clever description for documentary film.

This week's Variety magazine has an article on H'woods long overdue recognition of the potential mass appeal and adoption of marketing techiques that they have always used for feature films. Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 just passed the $100 mil mark for grosses. Al Gore's project, An Inconvenient Truth, was trailered to feature audieces and the publicity included booking him on SNL. Film's like Supersize Me and March of the Peguins have certainly helped the genre to tip.

I was junking out on documentaries ages ago. Scratch and Mike Mill's Paperboys (Both from the ResFest 2001 line-up) are among my favorite. American Movie (1999) is my all-time favorite. If you are not familiar with Errol Morris, what the hell is wronng with you?

The Variety article mentions the popularity of reality tv in recent years and the denials of doc film-makers of their films growing in popularity as a result. I believe both trends are connected in some way as is the popularity of sites like YouTube and iFilm.

Back in 2001 I wanted to do a documentary called Dogwalker. Ultimately it was a story about lonliness told through slice of life portraits of what are often, eccetric idividuals. I have a theory that people, like dogwalkers and postal workers suffer as a result of spending so much time alone. The microphone gets too close to the speaker. Isolation is poison. Well, I never got off my ass and made the film. My backburner is huge, filled with stuff I am going to get to. This however is not one of them. Now that everybody is a doc maker my passion has fizzled. So if anyone wants the dogwalker idea, have at it.

2 upcoming docs to look out for:
Michael Moore's Sicko. He goes after the health care system.

"Who Killed the Electric Car". (According to The Simpsons it was the Stonecutters.)

And the final link in this post is for Full Frame, the documetary film festival in North Carolina.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Rollins Show

While I was grabbing links for my post about Bill Maher's talkshow on Amazon I came across the site for The Henry Rollins' Show. I've been a Rollins fan for a long time. I've see him do his spoken word thing live. Three hours, non-stop. The man can talk (and talk). (Here is a YouTube clip)

I haven't seen the show on IFC but the site is content rich with some great stuff. Check out the clip of his letter to Laura Bush from episode 1 as well as some of the great music performances and interviews.

Amazon TV

I just watched the first episode of Amazon's talkshow "Fishbowl". The weekly show, hosted by Bill Maher is produced in the standard 30 minute network talkshow format. It makes sense for Amazon to produce entertainment content associated with the products they sell. What feels off to me is the old-school TV format, complete with monologue, studio audience and commercials. Isn't this a model that is supposed to be on it's deathbed. It seems like a lot of investment to have guests come on and briefly talk about their latest project while a wanker like Maher makes wise-cracks.

It seems there are so many other approached they could have tried.

Sundace did a series call Iconoclasts that paired interesting personalities. I've only seen the episode where Tom Ford interviews Jeff Coons. It was fantastic. Why not get two writers to interview each other. Cross-sell anyone?

Why not IFC's Dinner for Five approach. You could always pull shorter clips from the discussions that relate to specific products to appear on individual product pages within Amazon.

I always liked the Charlie Rose Show. 30 minutes with a guest, in-depth discussions. Is the studio audience and the band necessary for an internet talk show. I wouldn't miss the insipid monologue or stupid wise-cracks.

Monday, June 05, 2006

If this isn't a foreshadowing....

All the way back in Episode 1 of this season (6).

I love the way that Vito eyeballs Eugene before he bites the hotdog, just priceless.
And look at the way he's holding the dog, like he's a swordswallower or something.

Bye (for now) and thanks for all the ham-handed product placements

In my mind, this red harring of a final season will be most remembered for Johnycakes and ham-handed product placements.

In episode 1 alone:

Season 1 starts with a hypotic montage that features a reading by William S. Burroughs ad this remarkable juxtaposition. A close-up of Janice's Rolling Stones "tit-tat" followed closely by a close-up of a NesQuik branded model train. It doesn't get much more Freudian than that. (Everyone knows choo-choos are sexual)

Next, is a FedEx envelope being opened and a plug for David Yurman watches.

There were 3 SCENES to plug the Porsche Cayenne

Ray-Ban and Armani both get a plug i this eyewear shop scene.

I was going to review episode 1 ad leave it at that but I would be remiss if I didn't point out that season 6, episode 7 "Luxury Lounge" was completely devoted to product placement, including the featured Hollyword stars.

File under design: A costume designers notebook.

There is a small section on HBO's Soprano's website called Dressing the Soprano's. In it, costume designer Juliet Polsca talks about the role costuming played in defining each of the characters, as well as the psychology behind wardrobe selections of particular scenes. Fascinating and excellent. I wish there was more.

Don't Squeeze The Sherman Foundation

The slogan, a once standard tool and form in advertising has become unpopular in advertising, its effectiveness questioned and characterized and old fashioned. I just came across this posting on the MIT Advertising Lab.

Study: Old Ads More Memorable
"A new study into the memorability of television adverts found that those from the 1970s have proved to be more memorable than their modern-day counterparts. The researchers believe this is because so many now rely on visual graphics, style and big budget effects rather than clever catchphrases and snappy slogans." "Beanz Meanz Heinz", created in 1970s, today shows an impressive 53% recall.

Why do you think that every Simpson's character has his own sound-bite.

A good slogan is a powerful meme that can bore into people heads.

Here is a link to the Ad Slogan Generator.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Amen Break

In 1969 a band called The Winstons had Grammy Award winning singles called Color Him Father. The B-side to this tracks was a song called Amen Brother. In the middle of this song is a breakbeat, six seconds of drums that went on to have a huge impact on popular culture. Nate Harrison's 20 min documentary short Can I get an Amen? is a fascinating account of the history and impact this infamous 6 seconds.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Among the Audience

Among the Audience is an outstanding survey on new media, consumer generated content and the decline of mass marketing that appeared in the Economist on 4/20/2006.

The articles include:
Among the audience
It's the links, stupid
Compose yourself
The wiki principle
Heard on the street
Wonders of the metaverse
The gazillion-dollar question
What sort of revolution?

As well as audio interviews with:
Andreas Kluth
David Sifry
Chris Anderson
Jerry Michalski
Paul Saffo

The most comprehensive piece I've seen. Not to be overlooked.

A big week for short hairs

Earlier this week I posted on Norelco's excellent online campaign Shave Everything for the BodyGroom. (See original post) Actually, I just went to that link and saw this hilarious image.

I had a couple of things I wanted to add to that post. The tell a friend feature sends an email with "The shaver that inspired a music video" in the subject line and "You need to see this.". The component that is shared and sent just doesn't live up to everything else in this outstanding work. I would rectify this and shoot another video that is posted to YouTube and Google video. In this video the guy in the robe, still in the robe, is lying on his psychiatrists couch and talking about his masculinity and what it says about him if he shaves his body. "If I shave my balls does it mean I'm gay". The shrink could reassure him, tell him that he, in fact, just purchased a Norelco BodyGroom. You're only gay if you shave someone else's testicles. I think that this is a very real issue. 3 years ago I went out with a woman that said 'What's with all the guy's in Manhattan being shaved down like gay porn stars". I think there still exists some psychological barriers to adopting metrosexual lifestyle habits. I'd love to see a poll on body grooming, broken down by area on the body, with results by demographic.

The music video is outstanding. Be sure not to overlook it.

Next is No Scruf, a protest organization started by a former swimsuit model to protest and combat hairy scruff on men.

Actually, its Gilette's foray into viral marketing. The viral video (still shown above) portrays the nightmare world in which women stop shaving their arm pits and legs. Amusing, but could be shorter. Fratboy/Maxim humor.

And finally, Gillette announced that Mariah Carey is the “legs ofGillettee”. Standard old school use of celebrity endorsement. (Translation: Low level of brand relevancy)

Scaramouch, on YESbutNObutYES had a funny take on this.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Sherman Foundation Dangerous Ideas Reading List

For some time I've been considering putting together a list of my favorite books. Books that have really impacted me, changed my life, shaped me, or guided me on a trajectory down the slippery slope. I was thinking back to some of the early ones and remembered one, that, to most people would seem peculiar given the theme of this list.

I've always been interested in magic but never really took up the study or pratice. I do enjoy going into magic shops and looking at all the props and tricks. I was in my late teens, browsing in a magic shop and I was looking through the books. A guy working there asked me if I was looking for anything in specific and I asked him to suggest something. He said, "If you read one book on magic it should be this", and handed me a copy of Magic by Misdirection.

This book is about creating perceptions and illusions. It is a book about magic but read in a larger context it taught me that you can get away with anything if you create the right illlusion. It taught me that REALITY IS WHAT YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH. I really took it heart and admit that I did many things following my reading of that book of questionable legality and morality. (I was a teenager, that is hat teenagers do.) Now I work in advertising. Mr. Fitzkee is in no way responsible for what I did with the contents of his book.

The first chapter is "Which is the cart and which is the horse". This really is a gem of a book.

The full contents of Magic by Misdirection can be found here online.

I confess that "Reality is what you can get away with" is not one of mine. That can be credited to Robert Anton Wilson You can be sure that his name wil appear in many future installments of The Sherman Foundation Dangerous Ideas Reading List.

Sherman Foundation T-Shirt #3

Now available on The Sherman Foundation Cafe Press Web Site

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Sherman Foundation T-Shirt #2

Now available on The Sherman Foundation Cafe Press Web Site

Emotional Forecasting

About a year ago I had the idea to create an interactive tool that would enable you to create an emotional forecast.

Pensive with a chance of malaise later in the afternoon.

Pissed off with no hope of letting up all week.

The tool would then publish the forecast to your blog, run it as the message in IM below your handle or attach it your email signature. I actually started to design facial expression icons to go along with the forecast. The icons I designed were based on the How do I Feel Today? chart that psychologists developed to help people learn to identify their feelings (below).

The real fun would start once enough people around the world were using it. You could map trends in emotions around the world. You could monitors the ever-present sense of dissatisfaction in America or watch worry and fear spread throughout the Middle-East in response to news events.

Like most of my ideas it didn't get very far along in the implementation process. A few months later I saw the Mood Tracker widget. Then I did some goggling and found that I wasn't the first person in the world to think about global mood monitoring. The problem however is that most of the people doing the work are from psychology or computer science background so the implementation is usually hack and ugly.

This morning I came across We Feel Fine.
We Feel Fine tacks and visualizes emotional trends by scanning the text of blogs and identifying statements about feelings.
The data is visualized in a number of interesting ways on the site. The images below are 2 screen captures from the site.

To finish here is an NPR story with the author of 'Stumbling on Happiness; Joy's Guessing Game, Daniel Gilbert. Apparently, humans aren't very good at predicting what will make them happy.

Shave Everywhere

Shave Everywhere. Norelco addresses the issue of grooming and men's body hair straight on in this viral ad.
They get points for both developing a product specifically for body grooming and talking about it in a straightforward and fun way.

Where they fall short however is in the execution as a viral piece. Its anchored to the url and the "tell a friend feature" sends a blank email with the url They could have made the email that gets passed way more fun.