Revenge of the Banner Ad

Banner ads are the middle child of the advertising industry, forgotten and left behind. Dimissed as ineffective, advertisers have turned elsewhere, though banner ads continue to vie for eyeballs. offers a virtual museum of over 15,000 banner ads, giving designers and marketers a chance to compare ads side by side. The gallery doesn’t offer background on the ads or their success rate, but it does give designers a glimpse of what’s been done.

No Olympic Blogging

You can swim the 50 meters in record time, you can be crowned the fastest man on earth, you can tumble your way to gold — but if you blog about it you’re done. The olympic athletes, coaches, support staff and other officials were barred by the International Olympic Committee from writing firsthand accounts of the Olympic games. The IOC argues that athletes are not journalists and is trying to protect the broadcast rights of the accredited media.

The ban limits all blogging, personal photos, video — basically anything that doesn’t go through a professional media source. The ban has been harshly criticized, but it’s not clear if the IOC has taken action for any violations.

President You

The Political MachineForget waiting until November. You can decide the election right now. The Political Machine is a new PC game that lets you run for president. You take a stand on a total of 64 issues, run political ads, make speeches, and wheel and deal like a real politician in your bid for the virtual presidency. You can use historic candidates and see if Abe Lincoln could unseat FDR, or create your own candidate. The game runs on actual polling data and demographics to make it as real as possible.

You couldn’t time the release of a strategy game better than in such a hotly contested election year. Check out the official web site for more.

My Salary Pays for BG HQ

This fall the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association will begin moving into their new $27 million headquarters. According to the Charlotte Observer the building was paid for with $17 million from the sale of the property in Minneapolis and $10 million worth of savings in “staff reductions and consolidation.” Not exactly the line they pitched to us during all those relocation meetings, but hey, now I can say my salary helped pay for the new BGEA digs. You’re welcome, Billy. Glad I could help.

In other news, the long-forgotten World Wide Pictures film Last Flight Out will finally see the light of day. The BGEA’s September TV special will feature the thrilling story of a washed-up pilot paid by the man he truly hates to rescue the woman he once loved from menacing drug lords (and their gringo body guard) threatening her isolated mission station in the jungles of Colombia. Whew.

I had the chance to read a few early scripts, and despite the incredible potential and current relevance in a story of a missionary being rescued from violent drug lords/terrorists, Last Flight Out is “intensely mediocre” (with props to Nick Ciske). I’ve talked about the film before, but it’s just a painful reminder of what could have been.

Check local times here and consider watching a non-Mel Gibson Christian movie. I’d tune in for laughs, but it’s airing during youth group here in the Twin Cities (Sept. 15 @ 6:30 p.m. on WB 23). (And no, I don’t think it’d be a good idea to have the youth group watch it)

What’s even more amazing than the mediocrity is the fact that the BGEA buys time on local TV stations across the country four times every year to air Gospel presentations. Sometimes they’re subpar movies and sometimes it’s a few Christian artists followed by a sermon from a recent crusade. But every time they do it nobody pays attention. Maybe it’s the subpar content, maybe it’s the lack of a single, national time slot, but whatever the reason nobody pays attention. It’s exactly what conservative Christians have been begging for, and nobody cares. I’ve never understood that.

Tracking Down Long Lost Friends

It’s amazing to me how difficult it is to track down my old high school friends compared to my college friends. I’ve been on this kick all weekend, but it’s just amazing how consistently true that statement is. Granted there’s certainly more distance between now and high school verses now and college, but I’d expect to have a least some success finding high school folks.

A simple Google search almost always pulls up something for my college friends that would allow me to track them down, if not their own personal web site or blog near the top of the results. That’s only true for one of my high school friends. Is it possible that not everyone in the world is as plugged in and as Internet-addicted as me and my college friends? Is it possible I’m somehow the techno-geekiest of all my high school friends? Or am I just that bad at searching Google and this is all a fluke? Or is that my college friends all have unique names while my high school friends tend to share names with lacrosse stars, actresses, and race car drivers?

What I find most depressing about this whole search is that every classmates/reunion/high school site I could find that allows alumni to connect charges you to get the most basic info. I realize they have to make a dime, but I can’t believe somehow hasn’t developed a totally free site that manages to subsist of ads. Or perhaps the basic info (e-mail address? hello?) is free and you can pay to get more. What’s with giving me their country, pets, and political leanings? Who cares? I would think some business-minded genius would make a free reunion site and rake in the advertising dough. It might not make as much as a fee-based site, but I have to believe it’d pay for itself and then some.


On a stranger note, googling my dad brings up pigeon pages (photos of baby pigeons, a pigeon photo from 1975 and pigeon genetics).

High School Buddy in Iraq

Sgt. Jeremiah JamesYesterday’s nostalgic trip down memory lane prompted the ever-popular search for old high school friends I’ve lost touch with. Of course none of my high school friends are as Internet-geeky as I am. A simple google search will find me pretty quickly, but finding my friends is another story.

I did manage to find one person: Sgt. Jeremiah James. Of course when I knew him he wasn’t a Sergeant in the U.S. Army. Last time I saw him he was talking about joining the army and becoming a Ranger. I’ve heard bits about him hear and there, stories of a fire fight in Iraq, rumors of being shipped to Germany. But I’ve never been able to get in touch with him. Today I managed to find a story about his experiences in Iraq, including the story of that fire fight. His picture is exactly as I remember it. I’m hoping to track him down and get in touch, this time for real.

Continue reading High School Buddy in Iraq

When I was your age …

Standing next to Mark Martin's car at K-Mart in 1992For my youth group’s newsletter I write a dorky column called “When I Was Your Age.” (it sure beats “The Unnamed Column”)

When I was your age I discovered the ska band Five Iron Frenzy. …

When I was your age I remember sitting in the principal’s office. …

When I was your age my first semester of high school was a long session of introverted shyness. …

When I was your age I was the hand operating Mr. Quimper, a two-person puppet and proprietor of a soda shop that sold super-duper-frosty-freezy-sarsaparilla-rainbow-sherbet phosphates.

You get the idea.

Continue reading When I was your age …

More Bloggers with Book Deals

Just a Geek by Wil WheatonA few weeks ago I spotted the Wil Wheat book, Just a Geek, and couldn’t resist checking it out. The title alone is gold, and a confessional of a semi-washed up Star Trek actor is just too good.

The 60 pages or so I read in Barnes & Noble were pretty good. He’s a funny guy, and it’s great seeing his honest struggle with fame and pride. And of course the book stemmed from his blog, adding him to the pile of bloggers-turned-book-writers.

I empathize a lot with his struggle. Of course I never starred in a major TV show, but I have that same thirst to get some grand public slap on the back. It’s pride. And it shows up in the sneakiest ways, pushing me to be the kind of hip, trendy blogger who snags a book deal. Sometimes pride blows its cover with stupidity. I should really be downstairs with my wife.

Another Book to Read in Barnes & Noble

Just a Geek by Wil WheatonI stumbled across another quality book worth reading while curled up in a chair at Barnes & Noble. This time it’s actor Wil Wheaton’s latest book, Just a Geek. For those of you who don’t know, Wheaton played the teenage Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and has spent the last 15 years trying to get past that distinction.

The book (at least the 60 pages or so I read today) is his honest struggle with moving beyond Star Trek. Though he’s not afraid of profanity or fantasizing about Hooters’ waitresses, he’s pretty funny. The whole things started when Wheaton put together his own web site and started blogging. Yep, in a nutshell it’s another blogger with a book deal. But you have to admit that title is enticing.

What Two Weeks of Blogging Can Do

One Washington DC insider with a total lack of morals. One blog. How long until she’s fired, looking at a reputation as the next Monica Lewinsky, posing for Playboy and signing a book deal?

Two weeks.

Wow. I’m not even sure what to say about this story. I thought about posting it on the Monkey Outta Nowhere main blog, but I wasn’t so confident in how a slutty blogger story would help the company. Probably a wise decision. (But nothing’s too slutty for this blog! Especially after Olympic butts.)

So yeah: Jessica Cutler. You can read her resurrected blog, the overly-long Washington Post article and the chat with the writer of the Post article. (links via bloggedy blog)