Monday, January 5, 2004

Lunchbox Heaven

Molded orange plastic Dukes of Hazard and Flash Gordon lunch boxes (complete with rocket-styled thermos)... blue Transformers and Star Wars lunch boxes... these are as much a part of childhood as Sunday morning cartoons and cooties. And while it may be years yet before the Smurfs are recognized for their invaluable contribution to television history, their contribution to lunchtime elementary gastronomy is not forgotten.

Behold: The Lunchbox as a work of art!

The Atlanta Museum of Design (formerly the Atlanta International Museum of Art and Design) will host an exhibition of 75 rare metal lunch boxes beginning January 8th and continuing through February 14th. An opening reception will be held from 6pm to 8pm on the evening of Thursday, January 8, 2004.

The exhibition, Lunch Box Memories, is a nostalgic new Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition that illustrates the transformation of the lunch box from a practical, functional object to a prized possession.
The collection is comprised of illustrated metal lunch boxes – dating from the 1880’s to the 1980’s, and including one of the last metal lunch boxes manufactured in 1984 – from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and other rare examples on loan from Allen Woodall, a private collector from Columbus, Georgia. According to the Museum's website, "the design of these everyday objects celebrates America’s fads and fantasies, heroes and heroines, reflecting trends in 20th century popular culture."

The exhibition features a wide variety of designs, from recycled tobacco tins and lard pails to classic boxes illustrating figures such as Batman and Robin, the Harlem Globetrotters, Annie Oakley, Howdy Doody, Roy Rogers, Popeye, Garfield, a VW bus, the Bionic Woman, Superman, H.R. Pufnstuf, Sesame Street, the Lone Ranger, Rocky and Bullwinkle, and Indiana Jones.

The lunch boxes featured in the exhibition include some of the most rare and most significant boxes available to collectors today. Among the most prized in the collection are: the Mickey Mouse Oval (1935), the first character lunch box; Hopalong Cassidy (1950), the first box based on a well known TV hero; and The Beatles (1965), the first metal lunch box to use pop music performers, embossed 3-D portraits, and individual signatures.

Lunch Box Memories was developed and organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Behring Center, and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES).

Look for your Cloudjammer friends at the exhibition. We'll be the ones with the Harry Potter lunch boxes clutched to our chests. fb

Fun with Trademark Infringement

There's a "Big Game" coming. But we can't tell you about.

It's going to be the sporting event of the year (at least until the next one) but we can't call it by name.

We can tell you when and where it is...but we can't tell you the name of teams that are going to be there.

Of course, we mean the “The Professional Football Championship Game in Houston.” "The Big Game," coming a little later this year than normal – not until February 1, 2004 – was brought to our attention by a curious phenomena not noticed in previous seasons. DJ and event promoters wouldn't call “The Big Game in Houston” by name. Adverts proclaimed "Pro Championship" Parties and "Big Game Sunday" events.

We wondered what was happening. Why didn't they just call a chair a chair – or a bowl a bowl, for that matter?


The – how do we euphemize this? – "professional athletic associations" that own the rights to the "professional Championship" event trademark have released explicit guidelines delineating what you may and may not say in reference to their "Big Sunday" event. Specifically, you may not use their trademark in any way that implies any sort of professional or suggestive relationship – hence, non right-owners having to style their parties and events by using euphemisms instead of trademarked names.

The "American sport organization" even compiled this handy list of do's and don't's for the less imaginative among us. Keep them in mind when you're at your "Professional Football Championship Game in Houston” parties. Imagine the fun we can all have avoiding calling the teams, event, or associations by name.

You cannot say or print:
“Super Bowl”
“Super Sunday”
The Super Bowl logo
“NFL”, “AFC”, or “NFC”
“National Football League”
“American Football Conference”
“National Football Conference”
Any team name (e.g., “Buccaneers”) or nickname (“Bucs”)*

You can say or print:
“The Big Game in Houston”
“The Professional Football Championship Game in Houston”
The date of the game (February 1, 2004)
The names of the cities of the competing teams in the Super Bowl (e.g., Indianapolis vs. Tampa Bay), but not the team names
You can make fun of the fact that you cannot say the phrase “Super Bowl” (e.g., by beeping it out)

Now, in all fairness, these rules do not cover reporting. And, as an editorial in a pseudo-journalistic publication, we'd likely be safe saying "super" and "bowl" together. But why take the risk? This is more fun.

And, to beg the inevitable question, is this trademark control taken too far? Probably not. "The professional associations" have every right to control their valuable trademark. Afterall, the intended victim of these limitations are not the bar owners or the radio's the streetside tee-shirt bootleggers filtching off "The Big Games" brand value. And if the powers that be are being brand Nazis, who can really blame them? If I owned a trademark like that I'd squeeze it for every cent too.

And for our part, we have a plan. We're going to trademark "Big Game." See 'em talk about their “The Professional Football Championship Game" without infringing on us, then, eh? A few years of this and the whole even will be reduced to "Event with Ball." fb

ColorSmart Works. Sometimes.

Unless your a beige-aholic – forgive us, mothers of America – you know what it's like trying to find the perfect color or paint scheme to match a room in, or the exterior of, your home.

While recently remodeling an upstairs bedroom into a library, we struggled through books and brochures and handfuls of printed paint chips, each devoting almost as much space to an off-color logo – be it Behr or Ralph Lauren, Glidden or Disney – as the tiny paint sample. And while we at Cloudjammer pride ourselves on a solid grasp of color – at least Pantone color – the prospect of translating disperate color chips into a real painted scheme stretched the imagination and challenged our confidence.

We were delighted to find ColorSmart™.

ColorSmart is BEHR's unique interactive color selection program. Online and in-store, Color Smart provides great color matching suggestions, helps you build palettes based on recommended color compliments and can even match a color sample scanned against the in store installation's electronic eye.

The interface is smooth and clean – a nice change of pace for consumer oriented online applications (Verisign, we're looking in your direction). With subtle and classic animation transitions, ColorSmart walks you through the steps of creating a color scheme. Starting with one color – either scanned, chosen from Behr's vast catalogue, or manually mixed – the system recommends multiple complimentary palettes with individual colors given different accent weight depending on their relevance to the overall room design. Base, accent, wall, and trim colors can then be painted onto a sample room or home exterior so you can get a feel for how your painting project will turn out (even if the colors do appear a little dull in this demo).

You can experience many features of ColorSmart online, including Behr's collection of inspirational palettes and ideal rooms. By visiting the paint department of your local Home Depot, you can quickly scan the actual colors of an inspiration sample, such as upholstery or a photograph. Anything can be color matched so long as it’s not too big or bulky, and not so tiny it can’t be accurately read. (As a rule of thumb, the sample should at least be the size of a quarter and have a flat edge.)

Print out your new palette, and use it as a valuable tool for selecting and accurately matching other colors, fabrics, and accessories.
ColorSmart also offers you practical tips for painting projects and will even provide you with a paint calculator and supplies list so you can estimate how much you might spend.

ColorSmart worked great – and we highly recommend it – online. We never did find an in-store installation that worked for more than a few screens. But we had fun pushing uselessly on touch screen interface, bemoaning our ill fortune. Nor were we ever able to make the scanning eye work. But fear not, Home Depot has another one behind the paint counter, presumably where we won't break it.

And the real test of ColorSmart? We followed its suggestions. Sage green, bright white, ceiling white, and cherry. Hmmmm... looks good. fb

Cloudjammer's J.D. Jordan Wins Fiction Contest

Cloudjammer Studio principal J.D. Jordan was selected from over three hundred entrants as the first-place winner in Creative Loafing Atlanta's third annual fiction contest. The winning entry, “Hope Under My Fingernails,” is the story of a young boy who recently lost his father and suffers terrible abuse from classmates. To fill the holes in his life, he secretly builds a golem out of Georgia red clay.

According to Creative Loafing's associate editor Suzanne Van Atten, "our first-place winner, 'Hope Under My Fingernails' by J.D. Jordan, not only rhapsodizes on the textural allure of dirt and its unsung sibling, mud, but it plays with the spiritual concepts of mankind's origins in clay."

J.D. Jordan will present a reading of “Hope Under My Fingernails” on January 8, 2004 at the Margaret Mitchell House. The event, "An Evening of Short Fiction Readings" is sponsored by Creative Loafing and will also feature readings by Hollis Gillespie.

Creative Loafing is an alternative newsweekly nationally known for coverage of news, culture, contemporary music and the arts. The Atlanta edition is the flagship of four weekly newspapers owned by Tampa-based Creative Loafing Inc. The Atlanta edition has a circulation of 140,000 – the second-most broadly distributed newspaper in Georgia.