Monthly Archives: October 2013

Buckets!

I was watching a presentation in my public relations class, and there was a graphic about buckets.  It gave me a visual on how I can possibly organize some of my internet postings.

One hesitation I’ve had with rolling forward with Tweeting is that I am not sure how to package or batch my Tweets.  For example, I’m not a brand, I’m a person.  I would probably tend to Tweet about a variety of things.  Things of interest to me include a whole bunch of things, but, how do I Tweet and yet have some sort of cohesiveness?  Making statements that are relative and of interest, yet, have a sort of category about them.  Should I be creating hashtags within my own content that I’m sending out?

If anyone has any suggestions on this, please contact me via a reply here or tweet me/DM on @cdaraghy.

I would like to tweet about:  cars, packaging, products, reviews, music, concerts, class, school, being an adult student, cleaning products, food, restaurants, fragrance, notices of new Yelp posts, share pictures, notify a new Vine being created, share/retweet friends’ posts of interest, travel, hotels, beaches, “ask me anything”, healthcare, New England, pets, commercials, and whatever else tickles me.

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Concert Audiences Today: iPhones Down and Quiet, Please!

For a die-hard fan of a favorite band or musician, nothing is more irritating than another concert goer who is talking during the entire show.  And with the advent of smartphones, suddenly the contraband camera is no longer policeable as smartphone cameras are next to impossible to control within concert venues.

Artists have all but given up on trying to prevent photos and video recording of their performances.  But the other distracting factor is the sea of raised hands snapping pictures and recording entire songs for patrons to upload to Facebook or Instagram.

From an early age I was conditioned to not walk into a theater performance while dialog is being spoken, to wait for a break or a song to end before making an exit out of my seat or to enter a performance.  In classical music, applause is generally not given after a movement but only when the entire piece is completed.

With regards to performer respect these days, patrons are often up and out of their seats during songs they don’t know or don’t like, or they see the concert as a place to assemble and be with friends, in essence the show just happens to be going on around them as they enjoy their drinks and conversation.

Shooshing these concert goers almost always returns some sort of “I paid for my ticket….” type of rebuttal.  If not a full on fight or continued bad sentiment from the annoying person.

At last night’s Glenn Tilbrook show in New Haven, CT the performer resorted to collecting a half dozen iPhones and then used them to take selfies from the stage, or asking his assistant to record the audience with them.  “Come up and film yourselves, it’s a much more interesting angle” he sarcastically said from stage.

I applaud Glenn’s efforts to bring attention to this growing annoyance.  For every person that buys a ticket feels they have the right to enjoy themself by carrying on a conversation with their friends while the music plays, the other group has just as much right to enjoy the music undisturbed.

What’s For Breakfast? Frozen Convenience Foods

Recently our test kitchen came across some new choices in the frozen food aisle for prepared breakfast sandwiches and we’d like to share our opinions.

Longtime favorite Jimmy Dean has expanded its biscuit and croissant line to now include flatbreads and egg whites.  IHOP joins the freezer case with their line of French Toast and “Omelet Crisper” sandwiches.  Special K flatbread sandwiches offer a similar flatbread sandwich to that of Jimmy Dean.  Bob Evans has a Breakfast Bake product.  And Marie Callender’s brings a uniquely packaged sandwich to market.

The most recognized brand for breakfast sandwich would probably be Jimmy Dean.  They have had varieties of sausage patties on biscuits, croissants, and english muffins, both with or without egg or cheese, and a bacon variety on biscuit.  These were tasty and there were some changing of ingredients over the years, most notably the egg patty and the quality of the meat. Taste and quality has not been consistent with Jimmy Dean.

The IHOP sandwich we tested was found to be quite oily and the inability to discern the ingredients was unsettling for our taste panel.  The melty cheese sauce/egg mixture and hammy bits passed off as bacon were “inedible” by one taster’s comments.

Special K flatbread sandwiches were found agreeable by the panel, with a vegetable filled egg white patty with spicy cheese.  The sandwiches did not contain meat and were relatively healthy, but the grainy flatbread got soggy and stuck to the paper towel during cooking.  Flavor rated highly among panel members however.

The Bob Evans Breakfast Bake (Bacon, Egg, Cheese & Hashbrowns) was to be an egg and bacon sandwich, but most panelists felt it was a potato pancake with minute bits of “something else” in it.  Not very flavorful or satisfying.

The surprising leader for taste and product texture was Marie Callender’s “Cheddar Biscuit with Bacon, Egg & Cheddar”.  Using a unique cardboard box with micro-crisp liner, the sandwich is contained in two halves with a sizeable piece of bacon on one biscuit half while the other side has a folded egg and cheese slice.  The 90 second cooking time allowed the biscuit halves to toast up nicely and bacon to crisp.  Flavor of the bacon was excellent and the egg was “buttery tasting” and “real” per our panelists’ comments.  Sodium and calories has never been Marie Callender’s strong suit, but the flavor of this particular variety lead the others by a significant margin.

The Special K sandwich had the most potential for being a better-for-you choice, if slight improvements were made to the flatbread the product uses.

Junk Food Daily: Drake’s is Back

As a kid, my mom was the culprit when it came to bringing sweet things or junk foods into the house.  She had a sweet tooth for something chocolately after eating, and often our house had Drake’s Yodels, Devil Dogs, or Ring Dings.

I still fondly recall how the cakes used to be individually wrapped in foil, and often around the holidays the foil would be different colors.  We would often roll up this foil and our cat would bat it around as a plaything and we’d find foil balls under pieces of furniture months later.

So certainly these snack cakes were nostalgic and a polysorbate-filled helping of comfort food.  I have seen the packaging change for the cakes, from foil to being shrinkwrapped, and the included cardboard tray being removed.  I also took note how the cakes bought at a convenience store in an individual serving, looked and tasted different than the ones that came in a boxful from the grocery store.

The company has changed owners several times since it’s pound cake days in Brooklyn in 1888.  In addition to pound cake and coffee cake, the other varieties are 50-90 years old and have been family favorites to folks along the Northeast for decades.

For the most part, the flavor was somewhat consistent, until Hostess oversaw the company in 2009.  The recipes changed and the company’s corporate debt was a big factor in product quality as the ingredients used changed no doubt.

In April 2013, McKee Foods took over the brand and on September 23’rd Yodels, Devil Dogs, Ring Dings, and Coffee Cakes made their way back onto store shelves in the Northeast.

For the time being the peanut butter based “Funny Bones” cakes are no longer available due to  the need to manufacture this product separately.

Upon discovering the slight packaging change which made me notice the holding company had changed to McKee, I decided to give them a try and was glad to find that Yodels tasted much better than the days while Hostess owned them.  Also, the cardboard tray liner was back!  So the chocolate enrobement that surrounds the cake would keep from cracking.  Now if they’d only get the foil packaging back, I’d be inclined to get a cat again…

Singer Mary Lambert with Berklee professor and performer, Caroline Harvey.

Concert Review: Mary Lambert Wows Berklee’s David Friend Recital Hall

Seattle poet and musician Mary Lambert gave an intimate performance Saturday night to Boston’s Berklee School of Music.

The David Friend Recital Hall located on Boylston St. served as the perfect venue to connect Lambert’s soft voice and personal stories to the some 200 attendees, most of which were students of the school.

Lambert was joined on stage with fellow poet and Berklee professor Caroline Harvey @thetinyrhino, who also performed poems dealing with female body image, love, rape, and sexuality.

Throughout the 90 minute set, comprised of material from Lambert’s EP “Letters Don’t Talk”, new material written within the past 48 hours, and a cover of Wheatus’ “Teenage Dirtbag”, Lambert spoke of her exciting new found fame as the lead female voice on the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis single “Same Love” which peaked at #11 in the Billboard Top 100.

Lambert wrote the chorus to “Same Love” and later expanded the verse to create her latest single “She Keeps Me Warm”.  Both songs express same-sex companionship, while Macklemore’s lyrics directly extol the rights of same-sex couples including that of marriage equality.  What makes Macklemore’s version so profound is that he is a heterosexual rap artist, and has found such favor and support with “Same Love” among his audience and top 40 radio in general.

In between songs, Ms. Lambert also told stories.  One recent event related to her performance on the MTV VIdeo Music Awards, where she returned to her seat only to find it occupied by another person.  In a feeble attempt to intimidate Mary, the gentleman refused to give up the seat and it was cast members of GLEE that stood up to the seat stealer and led him to flee!

The show consisted of Mary alone on stage with a beautiful sounding Steinway piano, which she gently played as she cooed heartfelt and often painful emotive lyrics, telling of pride in one’s body, character sketches of people whom she’s met, and the light and dark sides of love.  A highlight of the show was an electronic looping effect added to her voice and to the percussive noises and choruses sung, which created a layered effect as Mary continued to sing over the lush tones.

Following the show was a brief Q&A session with Caroline Harvey, who reiterated Lambert’s dedication to poetry and performance prose, in addition to her musicianship.  Audience members were invited to ask questions, one of which was “When you win your Grammy, or Oscar or Emmy because let’s face it, you have that potential, who will you thank?”.  Lambert paused and said in addition to thanking her mother, she would definitely thank public relations and management because “those people rock!”.

Mary graciously met with audience members after the show for a quick photo, a hug, and sincerely thanked them for attending the night’s show.  Copies of Caroline’s CD “Bird Wing or Bone Marrow” were available for purchase in addition to a book of poetry by Lambert.  Those in attendance were wearing smiles and seemed full of gratitude to witness such a remarkable event by an up-and-coming artist.

Does Anyone Remember Cash?

I recently stopped at a local Cumberland Farms store @cumberlandfarms to get my staple: a one dollar iced coffee.

Prior to walking in the store, I grabbed some pennies out of my cupholder, in anticipation of the total price with tax I was prepared to pay.

I’m an expert at this.  I grab my cup, pour in about 3/4″ of “white death” and then splash in some hot coffee (robust blend) to dissolve the sugar.  As I swirl it around, I add in 2 shots of coconut flavor, add the ice, and then go back to the counter to add some cream.  Only then do I put the cold coffee in.  Jam a straw in, muddle it, and put a lid on it.  Voila!  Instant refreshment.

As I’m standing in line waiting to pay behind several folks buying excessive amounts of lottery tickets, I notice an overwhelming display of gift cards on a rotating rack.  I’m staring at and counting the different brands and cards, noticing some of these brands aren’t even in this area.  Movie theaters such as AMC and Regal, along with restaurants like The Cheesecake Factory or The Melting Pot, are not within 90 minutes of this area.

I then notice all the prepaid Visa cards, like Green Dot http://www.greendot.com, MoneyPak http://www.moneypak.com and American Express http://www.americanexpress.com/prepaid.  Different packaging for what appears to be variations of the same thing adds to my confusion.  “Bill Pay”, “PayPal”, “Reloadable” are just some of the packaging choices.  If for whatever reason you can’t get or do not want a credit card, and a debit card does not fit your needs, the reasons behind giving cash to another party to make money off the interest, and, charge you fees to use this card, are beyond me.  If you want to give a cash gift to a grad, give them cash!  If you need to pay a bill, and do not have a checking account and can’t bother with a money order, I do not see how these products are useful.

I sadly started to ponder the reasons.  Perhaps someone has wages garnished or is avoiding paying child support, and these products just help them hide their monies.  I started to feel shameful and embarrassed over these products and the circumstances that drive people to use them, and after paying my dollar and 6 pennies, just slurped on my iced coffee and left.  As the caffeine surged through me as I drove away, I could only make a wish upon my sweet treat that others see the banality in all this e-commerce and just return to sending a letter or a card with some cash stashed away in it, like Grandma would’ve done!