Sunday Espresso: Loni’s Secret Code, 101 billboards, Costco stories

    Sunday Espresso with ClintI’m back. Sunday morning. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written here on Sunday Espresso. Do you ever get that black nothingness when trying to come up with an idea or creative spark? Nothing. Just the sound of your mind cycling fruitlessly, and maybe a low hum coming from somewhere in the distance. Usually a jolt of espresso somehow, some way, gets me through the malaise. Lately, though, it’s been tougher to summon Jerry Maguire-like inspiration. Not that I’m trying to write a mission statement here, just a few random thoughts. That shouldn’t be too hard, should it?

    Maybe wine is a better creative juice?

    Or, as Jane suggested, something involving stretching. Meditation maybe.

    I know people hate when I say we’re busy. But, well: we are busy, very busy. Yes I know: You are too! We all are! Hooray! Why not, let’s live!

    SSC is hitting some kind of critical mass. And now, more than ever I’ve become all too familiar with all the highways from San Francisco, to Berkeley, to San Jose, and just about everywhere in between. The GPS on trusty Droid is scoring points for getting us to places without lengthy arguments that ensue when I drive miles before asking for directions when lost.

    But with all this business comes the dreaded prioritization. So we must select when and where to focus. Free spirited writing like I enjoy on Sunday mornings often gets the axe in favor of a review, or follow-up on last week’s emails, or providing feedback/ideas on some of the video edits.

    Loni’s Secret Code

    Loni employs the new secret code
    Loni employs the new secret code

    Working with Loni is a necessary evil. I know she feels the same. At times, it brings out our inner demons. And plenty of outer yelling. Usually in front of people in the general vicinity: wine makers, actors, directors. Doesn’t matter. We get caught up in our own little intense world, usually with a dollop of pressure thanks to lack of sleep and our own self-imposed deadlines for getting things done.

    It’s almost always the same. Tension. Followed by some kind of gaff, or minor error that results in: Blow Up.

    I think I’m usually on the receiving end. Loni would tell you otherwise. Fortunately, I have video outtakes for proof.

    Ultimately though we somehow power through, and are better for it. When I look back I realize the creative process isn’t always smooth and easy. It requires tension. Some difference. And plenty of thrashing. In the end, at least in my eyes, it makes for something sharpened—or at least that’s my way of dealing with what might become eternal suffering. There is an absence of suck-upness and Yes-men in our domain; I like that. Challenge. Provoke. Think outside the box. But do it with respect.

    We always laugh later after we’ve survived yet another little Blow Up. It’s par for the course. We smile, all the pain and tension gone. At least for the next 20 minutes.

    101 Billboards

    I drive. Loni sleeps.

    It’s always the way. I don’t necessarily mind. Music helps, as does Sharks radio.

    More recently I’ve enjoyed the spectator sport that is billboard spotting, particularly along Highway 101 between San Francisco and San Jose, a route we make at least four times a week now. Highway 280 is more scenic, usually better for traffic, but less interesting in terms of billboards. That’s partly why it’s prettier; the Santa Cruz mountains and lack of industrial buildings are also pluses.

    So here’s the latest on the 101 billboard watch. I really should get some photos soon.

    Apple iPad. King of branding. iPad billboards dominate 101, both North and Southbound. They are Apple clean and stylish. It simply shows the iPad on a man or woman’s lap, as they rest in a relaxed position. You see no head, no torso even. It conveys a nice message: The iPad is personal, it’s relaxed when you want. It’s for reading. It’s for deep thought. And bonus: it can be used where a laptop can’t. A+.

    Tofu. So many words. Hard to read. Tofu?! What?! Really? C.

    Autonomy. These ads are bad. Autonomy purchased Interwoven (a white hot company I worked for 10 years ago) a while back, and, unfortunately, the search company needs a lesson in branding. They ran horrible billboard ads last year, and these are even worse. Too many messages. Too many images. Very confusing. A tiger (not Woods) is pictured along with some Zeroes and Ones. Then below something about “Meaning Based Computing.. What does that mean? Can someone provide the meaning for meaning based computing please? Or not. F.

    Oracle. Ah, yes, Larry you’re good. This one smacks of Oracle Bravado, done right. The ad involves a tie in with Iron Man 2. In the middle: A picture of Iron Man in full-on gear. On the left, words: Man. Machine. Hero. On the right, words: Hardware. Software. Complete. I like it. Effective. And fun. A.

    Costco Stories

    I’m not sure why, but sometimes the woman who checks my receipt as we leave Costco likes to tell a long-winded story (You would think she’d have a 10-second version for such occasions, but I guess being Costco and all, it too needs to be super-sized).

    The problem is there is a huge line-up behind me of full carts barreling towards the exit with hurried shoppers trying to escape.

    This confused my inate Canadian please-everyone sensability.

    Do I pause, and wait while this cheerful and pleasant woman finishes her long story about the pomegranate tree?

    Or do I keep moving along into the San Jose sun free from the big box, as her voice fades into the distance?

    (UPDATE: For the record, Loni wants to clarify that she is merely scratching her forehead in the above photo, and is not sending a not-so-secret signal, or code to me.)

    Explore. Create. Live. Follow Stark Insider on Twitter and Facebook. Join our 9,000 subscribers who read SI on tablets and smartphones on Google Newsstand. Prefer video? Subscribe to 
    Stark Insider on YouTube, the largest arts & travel channel in San Francisco.
    • Jane Lurie

      Thanks Clint. Now my week can begin…as always I learned something (I love your knowledge about branding) and always a laugh. What do you get when you have two bright and funny Type A+’s?….very busy schedule…sounds like a trip to Loreto is in order..like in the next 5 weeks when we’re there…have we got some mole for you! Speaking of mole, our friend Nancy discovered that, in Spanish, mole means sauce or concoction…no mention of chocolate…I think that the Oaxacan moles are known for including chocolate in their ingredients…but I digress…blame it on our approaching departure date for Loreto.

    • Jane Lurie

      Thanks Clint. Now my week can begin…as always I learned something (I love your knowledge about branding) and always a laugh. What do you get when you have two bright and funny Type A+’s?….very busy schedule…sounds like a trip to Loreto is in order..like in the next 5 weeks when we’re there…have we got some mole for you! Speaking of mole, our friend Nancy discovered that, in Spanish, mole means sauce or concoction…no mention of chocolate…I think that the Oaxacan moles are known for including chocolate in their ingredients…but I digress…blame it on our approaching departure date for Loreto.

    • Jane Lurie

      Thanks Clint. Now my week can begin…as always I learned something (I love your knowledge about branding) and always a laugh. What do you get when you have two bright and funny Type A+’s?….very busy schedule…sounds like a trip to Loreto is in order..like in the next 5 weeks when we’re there…have we got some mole for you! Speaking of mole, our friend Nancy discovered that, in Spanish, mole means sauce or concoction…no mention of chocolate…I think that the Oaxacan moles are known for including chocolate in their ingredients…but I digress…blame it on our approaching departure date for Loreto.