March 2007

KÅ-boom!

In the mists of a distant kingdom, Imperial twins struggle through a dramatic journey to fulfil their destiny. This is the story of "Kå", the latest jaw-dropper at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas... a classic Cirque du Soleil spectacle!

When they decided to give the local residents of Las Vegas a special performance, with discounted rates, they looked around for a studio and a voice to promote it.

They found Sunspots Productions in Orlando, FL. And they found me. Here is the result.

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St. Patty's Pasta

Yeah... it's gotta be green! We bought a pasta maker for Christmas and have been having a blast making our own linguine, ravioli, spaghetti, etc. It's healthier, and the results are stunningly better pasta meals. Plus, it's just plain fun.

So, for those of you with a pasta maker... or who plan to get one... here's my recipe for St. Patty's Green Pasta:

Heat a skillet with a tsp of olive oil and a chopped clove of garlic. Rinse a bag of fresh spinach and shake off as much water as possible, then stuff into the skillet. Stir until wilted and soft. Remove and press firmly in a fine strainer to remove as much moisture as possible. Put into a food processor and pulse until pureed.

Mix a cup and a half of cake flour with a half cup of whole wheat flour, one tbsp olive oil, and three eggs. Stir in the spinach puree and work until a dough forms. Adjust the texture of the dough by adding small amounts of either flour or water to achieve a slightly sticky, firm dough.

Cut the dough into quarters and shape into small, flat discs. Sprinkle lightly with flour, seal in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. The dough is then ready to run through the pasta maker, starting on the # 1 setting and continuing to pass through the rollers in stages up to # 7.

After # 7 stage, hang pasta sheets to dry until no longer sticky to the touch. Then cut into whatever shape you wish. Cooking time is less than half that of store-bought pasta. Add your favorite sauce, and enjoy!

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This Month's Client

Regular readers of my newsletter will recognize the name of The New West Group, my featured client this month. I've commented several times on the innovative and fun projects we've worked on over the past several months... mostly for a west coast wine distributor.

Based in Oklahoma City, this advertising agency thinks outside the box... and the bottle. The client I do the most work for, through New West, is Foster's Wine Estates Americas (formerly Behringer Blass.) We've promoted their wines with some very unique campaigns, created by Bob Hammack and Alan Atkins, including the development of audio "e-teasers", as reported in last November's newsletter.

I'd offer a link to their web site, but it's still under construction. If you'd like to contact this highly innovative company, just dial 405-478-9377. Tell 'em Joe sent you.

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Commentary

I don't know about other areas of the country, but there appears to be a disturbing trend in public school hiring practices here in PA. My wife, Irene, is a teacher with a lot of experience and great credentials, which include being a doctoral degree student at Widener University. But we are learning that the unionized public school system would rather hire someone fresh out of college, with no experience, because they don't have to pay them as well.

The union has established teacher pay scales based on experience and education, so administrators shy away from the expense of experienced faculty. Irene simply loves to teach, and isn't concerned so much with making a big salary as much as being able to teach. But she can't opt to work for less because of the union.

Many of our teacher friends have run into the same problem. Once they land their first or second job, they'd better stay put if they ever want to be paid for their experience. Because after a few years, the only jobs they'll get are as temporary substitute teachers at temp-pay with no benefits, unless they are very lucky or "know somebody."

So, how are the kids in school going to get the benefit of a seasoned teacher's experience? What's happening here is an economic dumbing-down of public schools. PA teachers are paid more than many other states, thanks to the union, but the quality of education is suffering as a consequence.

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Spring Break

The first week of March marked Spring Break of 2007. While student friends and teachers headed for Cancun, Palm Beach, the Bahamas, and other exotic resorts, Irene and I drove to the sunny climate of Charlotte, NC... our former home. It was as much a business trip as a vacation since I spent much of it in front of a microphone. But the weather did not disappoint

This was Philadelphia at mid-week....
.... and this was Charlotte's 72° weather at the same time.

Happily, the snow was mostly melted by the time we got home.

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Low-Tech, Hi-Quality?

Road trips are always a challenge for me, since I usually have to continue to produce and send productions while travelling. My little portable rig is made up of good stuff: ProTools via MBox, Neumann mike, and a decent laptop computer. But you'd think any noticeable difference from work done in my regular studio set-up would be in favor of the studio's quality. Not so!

Connie Keeton of Keenote Marketing tells me that the commercials I send from my portable rig sound even better than the stuff from my studio! I can only think of one reason: I forgot to pack the expensive shock-mount for my microphone on this trip... the gizmo that keeps the mike quiet and positioned where I need it.

This Neumann TLM-103 is so sensitive it can almost pick up the sound of my beard growing! So I couldn't just lay it on the table... It needed some kind of stand to hold it. The answer came in the form of a large paper coffee cup from a nearby cafe.

By poking a hole in the bottom and the side, then threading the microphone cable through and attaching the mike, I created the lowest-tech shock mount in audio history! Darned if it didn't sound terrific. I wonder if I could market it through Starbucks?!?

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