January 31, 2006

va bello

The sun came out today and I could see the mountains for the first time since I've been here. Who knew those were there! Hopefully I can get better pictures of them tomorrow or later... Finished my first animated project - the feedback: "make the design smaller and the sponsor logo huge." santo cielo.

January 30, 2006

mi sono perso

So what have I been up to? Day 2,3,4...its already all becoming a blur. Right now I'm working 8:30a-8:30p roughly, more people get here in a week and at that time we will split into shifts of 1am-1pm or 1pm-1am. That's gonna be interesting. I'm on the overnights so I'll be up the same time as most of you at home...I think. I've designed the print packaging for some Ice Skating dvd's (did I mention that I don't do print?!)... I'm working on some other busywork projects of importing/transferring prebuilt animations from HD tape and converting them in AfterEffects to usable Quicktime files.... And have a couple sponsor bumper things to do next... It's a lot of start-stop as we get equipment working and connected etc. My first day included some power testing gone wrong that caused us to lose a lot of time - but that's what testing is for I guess!

The IBC (International Broadcast Center) is in the old Fiat factory, the rest of the old factory includes a mall, hotel, and offices. Its a pretty cool old building. I heard that it's one of the largest concrete structures in Italy. Getting here and back on the busses is pretty miserable. The snow turned to rain and everything is slush now, which we have to walk through because the busses don't take us too close to our locations. But inside throughout the NBC area they do have tables set up with snacks and coolers of water and soda (free CocaCola Light! woohoo!) Right now the days are all a blur and so long that when I get home I hardly have the energy to do anything (I'm assuming that's part still jetlag?), but the bare room and tv with everything in other languages tends to force you out. (okay, I did watch a lot of MTV Italia the other night) Little by little I'll find my way...

January 29, 2006

day one

(this was written Friday night - I still haven't found a way to access internet outside of work, but I can write and save on a mini-firewire and then post it from here... so that's the plan for now)...

wow, what a crazy day.

I'm in Torino Italy to begin my assignment for NBC at the Olympics. We landed in a snowstorm. I dunno if it was a blind landing or not for the pilots, but looking at the first pic above shows you all that we could see as we landed. We landed at 8:30 and they cancelled incoming flights from 9am to Midnight. But being here with snow covered fields and trees only seems appropriate when here for the Winter Olympics. I wonder if it skews my perceptions since every Italian seems to make a point of how long its been since it snowed here...

We bussed from Milan to Torino (ugh, 3-4 hours cause of the snow - at least I finally got some sleep). We landed at a warehouse we they gave us this huge bag of stuff. NBC/Nike gear like winter coats, ski pants, shirts, goretex undershirts, tights, gloves - the whole shebang. Do they know that I'm going to be working in front of a computer for 12 hours a day? Then off to another center for our official credentials. And finally to Riberi Media village - my home for the next month.

Riberi is a former military hospital that they've obviously recently converted. Room are small and basic (twin ikea bed with wardrobe, no curtains, etc) but I think I lucked out with a pretty sweet corner room in the back of the place. My windows look out on this cool old church that's always lit up. I went and bought a phone card and tried for a few hours to dial up to the internet - no luck. I tried everything I could think of. Nope. Nada. I finally crashed for some much needed sleep.

I woke up around 10 or so, unpacked and rearranged the room (shut up), and then decided I was desperate for a diet coke (I tried several times earlier for one - no coins for the machine, cash register is closed, etc - ugh), but figured I'd make my first stop the "bar" in the media village before venturing out. A couple hours and a couple beers later, I ventured home after conversation at the bar with my new friends Andy the engineer from NC, and our Italian bartender whose name I have forgotten and who can't get over the fact that we tip him for beers. And now out on my windowsill rest two treasured diet cokes...

January 28, 2006

buon giorno

I'm here! I'm at my first day of work now - I wrote a longer post last night detailing day1 but haven't figured out how to post it since the files are all on my laptop... as soon as I can find a way to connect to the internet from my laptop (if ever?!), I'll post away! In the meantime, I'm here, its snowing (for apparently the first time in two years or something), and I'm trying to get acquanted with everything here at work... more later!

January 26, 2006

leavin on a jet plane

Made it to Atlanta.... about to board for Milan..... I've been studying my Italian language cards NBC sent us. I didn't see "I would like a beer" on there....

January 25, 2006


I leave the house for my flight in 9 hours... I'm still doing laundry... Is procrastination a disease??

January 24, 2006

crapo santo!!

My friend Bill Dawson suggested I post about my preparations to leave for Italy...I'm leaving Thursday for Torino to work on the Olympics, then taking a couple weeks afterward to travel around Europe. My thoughts at the moment? crapo santo! (that's the best Italian translation I could get from my Mac translation widget!)

The getting there part is fine...NBC has covered everything pretty clearly about where to go, etc. I've gone out and gotten my electricity converters and travel clocks. I've stopped my mail. I've alerted my credit cards. But holy crap, I feel like I have so much to do and am a little overwhelmed by it all... laundry, police stuff, packages, doctor, haircut, insurance, documents, ugh. Then there are the pages of security tips that my friend who works for a intelligence/defense contractor gave me. eek! And have I mentioned that I haven't finished my reel? Which means my website still isn't ready because its waiting on my reel... Does that mean a March launch? I guess its looking that way... ack! ...See, I'm a little scattered!

As for the two weeks after the Olympics, I've read and been told that its best to have that all booked from the US - but I don't think that's gonna happen. I don't even know where I'm goin' yet. My guess is a plan that two Swiss guys in my guest house at Key West suggested: Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Florence, and Rome. I have to figure out if that's packing too much in. I hear EasyJet is cheaper than a RailPass - but then do I miss out on the countryside?

So...any tips? Advice? I've got one day left - bring it on! I know it'll all be fine...but its gonna be an adventure!

more good gov't design

Another noteworthy example of good design manages to find itself in front of my face every day. And I have to say, it's a pleasure to see it blanketing the city in the way it does. And like the CalTrans building I wrote about below, it's another government agency. go figure.

In late 2003, the drab white buses that covered Los Angeles started being replaces with clean, bold slabs of red and orange. The MTA, which at the same time officially changed their name to "Metro", has their own in-house design group that created a bold and consistent identity system that blanketed everything from buses to signage to transit passes. I know I read about this winning some awards in a design journal at one time with schematics of the design system, but I haven't been able to find it online. I was able to find the press release when they first proposed the change:
  • Bold New Look Proposed for Metro

  • Kudos to Metro for recognizing the value of good design and a consistent identity system that not only makes their product easier to use, but creates civic value as well.

    January 23, 2006

    good design - government approved?

    This is one of my favorite buildings in LA. What shocks me even more than the fact that it got built is the fact that its a government building. From my own experience in working graphic design projects where committees are involved, I can only imagine the meetings architects for projects like this must go through. Good creative is rarely done by committee. Perhaps my perception is wrong and that a government contract may actually allow more freedom for an architect than a private one?

    This is the Caltrans District 7 Headquarters in Downtown LA by Thom Mayne/Morphosis Architects. The shapes and forms evoke freeways, movement, and mobility. In fact, the building moves and changes depending on the sunlight and weather conditions. My drive-by photos don't do it justice, but wirednewyork.com has a great article and photos here:
  • "A Building as a Beacon for a City's Plans"

  • and more photos can be found here on arcspace.com:
  • arcspace.com Caltrans District 7 HQ
  • January 21, 2006

    ridin the rails

    self portrait while ridin a coaster at six flags...

    yup, this is la

    I lived here for seven years before I ever discovered this part of LA. This is the Point Vicente Lighthouse at the tip of Palos Verdes. It was built in 1926 and is a good spot for whale watching (we didn't see any). For those of you that don't live in LA (and I know through sitemeter that most of my visitors are from outside here), one of the cool things about living here is there are so many places in LA that you can find yourself feeling like you're not in the middle of LA, but you are. This is one of them.

    Here are a couple sites for more info - the first one is pretty interesting and detailed about this and other lighthouses in CA and other parts of the country...
  • Point Vicente Lighthouse from Rudy and Alice's Lighthouse Page

  • Palos Verdes Lighthouse
  • January 20, 2006

    tour o la

    my friend Todd is visiting... some views from our whirlwind of downtown and hollywood yesterday...

    January 19, 2006

    modern phx

    I don't know exactly where my fascination for mid-century modern design and architecture comes from, but the clean and dynamic lines always intrigue and fascinate me. I drove by this sign in Phoenix - its just plain huge. I was surprised how little I was able to find out about it when trying to research it. The dealership has been in that location since 1957, but nothing says that the sign has been there since then. I did come across a well designed site called Modern Phoenix by Matthew and Alison King - it's a great trove of photos, info, and links. This link will take you to pages of roadside signs by Jim Hale, but be sure to click around to the main home page and other parts of the site...
  • Modern Phoenix - Vintage Neon by Jim Hale
  • January 18, 2006

    modern dog

    Caught this dog on a walk down the strand yesterday. He's guarding one of my favorite houses on the strand, next to a truly terrible McMansion that looks like a giant Olive Garden...

    January 17, 2006

    queso mea culpa

    Oops. I made a big mistake in the "taste o texas" post below. Thanks to my friend Bud for setting me straight. Obviously I've been away from TX too long.

    Ro-Tel is not the cheese, its a mix of tomatoes and chiles etc that you mix with cheese to make the Queso dip. Here's the recipe for making it. (and don't try using good cheese - it only tastes right if you use Velveeta. I know, that's not cheese. Trust me on this one.)


    1 can (10 ounces) Ro*Tel Original Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies, undrained
    1 package (16 ounces) Velveeta Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product, cubed


    Combine tomatoes with their liquid and the Velveeta in medium saucepan.
    Cook over medium heat 5 minutes, or until Velveeta is completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring frequently.
    Serve warm as a dip with tortilla chips or crackers.

    January 16, 2006

    happy mlk day

    Someone messaged me this morning and said "happy mlk day." It kinda struck me how that's certainly not a greeting you hear too often. After the politically correct right wing battle to force everyone to say "Merry Christmas" and leave out the rest of the holiday season, it was kinda nice to hear - even if it is a day to memorialize more than celebrate. Of course, this was a friend in Canada who said it... Nonetheless, Happy MLK Day.

    taste o texas

    This was part of the scene from the Texaz Grill in Phoenix, where we had dinner on Friday night. For anyone in Phx wanting a true taste of Texas, this was a lucky find (16th and Bethany Home Rd) . Some of the best Chicken Fried Steak I've ever had. This is no chain restaurant trying to be authentic. As for the deer, I loved that he was in a Ro-Tel Cookoff Apron. Ro-Tel is this cheese sauce/spread that's used to make Texas-Style Queso (just add salsa, though I'm sure there are better recipes out there) - something you got used to seeing every day in TX, but I haven't seen since leaving there....

    January 14, 2006

    greetings from the phx rodeo

    and this is also to answer my Dad's question (based on my pics from the Dallas Rodeo - see my December posts archive), "Do they have animals at these rodeos you go to?"


    I'm in Phoenix for rodeo... Phoenix is one of those 'why is it here' cities. Vast, desolate, sprawl....but sunny. I guess maybe that's why.

    January 13, 2006

    insert here

    a random image from my recent trip to key west....

    January 10, 2006

    when good logos go bad

    There are classics in design, just like there are classics in literature, architecture, and art. When a private owner owns a piece of great architecture, they can often destroy it at will. The same holds true for design.

    A few weeks ago I was sitting in my truck and looked next to me, only to see a huge bastardization of Saul Bass's classic AT&T logo on the side of a van. This was not the classic logo I remembered seeing when I was in middle school. I don't know why I noticed it back then - I didn't know jack about design. I remember being sad at that time that the classic Bell logo (also designed by Saul Bass) was gone, and didn't understand why. But something about this new logo captured me. And I remember the animation of lines traveling back in perspective from the bottom of the screen that turned into this new AT&T globe (graphic animations were still fairly new in advertising at the time). In '91, it was decided that the public was not smart enough to figure out the globe representation, so they filled in the background with solid white and added a shadow. Now, in an attempt to be "friendly" and "transparent", they've mangled the mark to something that no longer makes sense, and tacked on awkward type that fights the logo.

    My friend (and fellow designer) Bill Dawson writes about this much better than I can here:
  • AT&T: Bad Logo. Delivered.

  • Recently, Kodak dropped its trademark yellow and K. A couple years ago, Paul Rand's legendary UPS logo was turned into a video game shield. Chermayeff & Geismar's boldly simple Mobil Oil identity system is gone. Slogans and ad campaigns are temporary and meant to change over time. Logos, however, should be timeless. These new logos aren't.

    (and on a personal note, I hear the Fine Living network logo I breathed and loved daily for the last four years [designed by Johnson+Wolverton] is being altered and "softened". ugh. stay tuned.)

    January 9, 2006

    lunch at the beach

    My friend Steve visited me at the beach today for lunch... it's nice to get out of the house. The waves have calmed down and the surfers are back... It's January. Have I mentioned why we live in Los Angeles? (or as my friend Mike calls it, "Kookeyville")

    January 8, 2006

    dada la la la

    so maybe I do watch too much mtv - I'm not proud of it - it's my guilty pleasure. Laguna Beach, Made, The Inferno, I tivo em all... But since they don't play many music videos and I tend to listen to country most of the time, I'm probably not up on videos as much as I should be. I was in a bar in Ft Lauderdale and saw two videos back to back that really intrigued me, so I figure they deserve a couple posts on here, even though the videos may not be very recent.

    I've always liked when someone takes design from history and translates it into current motion design. Such is the case in the work of Jonas Odell and Filmtecknarna for Franz Ferdinand's song "Take Me Out." They describe the video as an "extravaganza inspired by Dadaist photocollage and the art of other movements of the same era." I was intrigued by what looked like references to Russian Constructivist El Lissitzky and Dutch designer Piet Zwart who combined Dada with De Stijl (both shown above).

    It is kind of amazing that design from 80 years ago can still be fresh and relevant today.

    check out the video here:
  • 'Take Me Out' video

  • or here:
  • 'Take Me Out' video

  • Filmtecknarna:
  • Filmtecknarna
  • January 7, 2006

    to scream pointlessly, press 4

    I'm sure I'm not the only one who's gotten trapped in a voicemail system and wanted to kill the operator by the time you get to one - (my very favorite are the voice activated ones that never understand what I say "I think you said 'departure', is that correct?" aaaaaaaa!) This link came courtesy of my friend Tres. This guy named Paul English has compiled a list of shortcuts to get to a live operator when calling various corporate phone representatives, and he updates the site weekly. Also note his 'kudos' section to companies like Lands End, Southwest Airlines, and Zappos who actually answer their phones and are known for good customer service. I'm guessing those aren't call centers in India...
  • Paul English's IVR Cheat Sheet
  • January 5, 2006

    it's good to be home

    sunset over tankers off the beach here at home today...and dusk over tankers off the beach in Ft Lauderdale yesterday...