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Emotional Gathering for Troops Enroute to Afghanistan

Call to Duty CeremonySeveral hundred family members, friends and dignitaries gathered for the official Call to Duty ceremony for members of Ohio National Guard Company B 3-238th Aviation Regiment (GSAB) in North Canton, Ohio on December 11, 2011.  The 73 member Aviation unit is headed for a one year deployment to Afghanistan. Observing the emotions of the military families, some with young children, the sacrifices that these families of soldiers make clearly deserve gratitude for our freedoms.

The following day before dawn, family and friends gathered to deliver more well-wishes to their soldiers and to witness the unusal and unprescidented aviation departure.  Read more…

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Footloose Original vs. New

Footloose 2011 Publicity PosterThe new Footloose movie, starring Dancing With The Stars alum, Julianne Hough as Ariel Moore, is a contemporary and improved version of the 1980’s original. Loud music and fast cars in the opening scenes of the 2011 version set the stage for the point of the “no loud music, no dancing” laws in the storyline, unlike the original version which takes a while to unfold. Aside from the obvious pop culture differences,  the storyline this time around, while mostly true to the original, are more developed, and the supporting characters more involved and more interesting.  Quirky standout supporting character, Willard (Miles Teller), Read more…

7 Reasons It’s More Interesting to Drive to Florida

Spending 20 hours in a car rather than taking a 3 hour flight might sound a bit dull in today’s instantaneous world, but here’s a list of some of the things that would be misssed when flying from Ohio to Florida.

  1. The colorful fall foliage… from Ohio through West Virginia, and even northern Virginia, the colors of the trees were an array of yellow, burgundy and orange, spread out like a pattern on a quilt across the rolling hills and mountain sides. The clear blue cloudless sky intensified the effect making it a colorful show for 300 miles as each turn revealed more and more magnificent mountain views in West Virginia and Virginia.
  2. Cotton fields of South Carolina… Being that cotton is not a Midwestern crop, there aren’t any opportunities for Ohioans to see a cotton field first hand. The field along the highway was filled with short dark brown plants with contrasting white cotton popping out of its shell. There is no crop in northeast Ohio that even comes close, so it was quite an interesting site. And thought provoking to appreciate the work that goes into converting those cotton fields into clothing.
  3. Four foot sections of beef jerky… As a former vegetarian, I’ve never really been in the market for beef jerky, but I never before realized there could be enough variations, and a demand,  for eight feet of merchandise space in a small gas station convenience store for beef jerky. A good marketing example of knowing your customers and giving them what they want.
  4. South Carolina home-cooked southern country cookin’… That’s right no “g”. The slogan for Olde House Cafe in Waltersboro, SC  is “Country Cookin Makes you Good Lookin”. If that is true, we definitely walked out better lookin’ than when we went in! It doesn’t even make sense, but what great marketing! The fried chicken and the catfish stew were definitely favorites, along with the cheesy grits and banana pudding. I’m a firm believer in checking out the local culture and eating where the locals eat. So always head away from the highway for the good stuff! This local joint was recommended by reviewers on Google Navigation, the next social medium?
  5. Warm fresh baked cookies at the end of a long day… just like mom used to make. With today’s cost-cutting, stripped down airline service, pretzels are a luxury, but the Hampton Inn welcomes you at check-in with warm fresh-baked cookies! A good marketing strategy to warm your heart, fill your stomach, and maybe to give you a happy sugar high so you forget what you are paying for few hours of sleep before the next day’s journey. It’s all good nonetheless.
  6. Spanish moss hanging like Santa’s beard… Another non-Midwestern sight is seeing trees in South Carolina with long moss draping over them, like Halloween  decorations come to life. A unique site, telling you that you’ve crossed the Mason-Dixon line.
  7. Ice cream in a gas station… 32 flavors, all right there in the gas station along the highway, just down the road from the state prison. I eyed a couple of potential early-release candidates, that maybe hadn’t had a haircut in 3 to 5 (years), buying more cigarettes than gas.

Florida BeachAs South Carolina turns into Georgia, then Florida, the differences in the diverse landscape can be appreciated. The trees become more pine and palm, the air warms and you hear new nature sounds. First stop is the crab shack for Gulf shrimp and grouper tacos. Yes, we’ve arrived and it was a lot more interesting than getting on a 3 hour flight.

I, Alex Cross Filming in Cleveland

I, Alex Cross movie filmingCasually encountering the Detroit Bomb Squad truck, Detroit police cars and various strategically placed black Cadillac SUVs, one might think they were transported to Detroit, only this was Cleveland on a beautiful September day watching the filming of the James Patterson novel turned movie, “I, Alex Cross”.  On this day it could pass as the “windy” city with 30 MPH gusts, which would prove to be a hazard later. As with most movie shoots, there is the standard waiting many hours for the exciting parts to happen. In talking to nearby office workers on break, they tell of the excitement they witnessed the week before, with helicopters, snipers, and the actual actors, Tyler Perry and Matthew Fox, on set right outside their office building.

The closest to star sightings on this filming day were the stunt doubles, but they did look like the realTyler Perry stunt double in the I, Alex Cross movie deal, and there was the rumor of “explosive” action to come! This day was unseasonably hot,  but the stuntman doing the dirty work for Tyler Perry was dressed in a turtleneck (seen in the photo) and leather jacket (added later), offering a clue to the setting of the film.  Rehearsals included stunt people jumping, diving and rolling on tumbling mats. For hours the only excitement is watching the police car and mats being moved forward and back, then more casual jumping and tumbling and a heavy sand bag is shot out onto the mat.

I, Alex Cross snipersLooking up, three sniper actors could be seen on the roof, just hanging out waiting for some action. They did have the best view of what was going on down below. The director, Rob Cohen, could be heard over the loudspeaker giving a detailed safety talk for the explosions.

The winds were monitored and filming delayed. Then it gets pretty interesting, and excitement builds. Fuel tanks for I, Alex Cross stunts
The safety talk included a very structured run-through of the upcoming flaming stunt action.  The director says he will instruct “fuel the stuntmen”, which will take 3 minutes.  Upon completion of the 3 minute fueling, he instructs that he will count down from 5 for igniting the fuel. At that time it will be the point of no return and everyone must proceed. To hear him explaining the process in detail, really punctuated the seriousness of what was about to go down.

Again, more waiting, the winds were definitely not cooperating, and the fire chief was delaying the explosions and stuntmen being lit on fire. By this time 4 hours have passed and it is announced that the shooting will resume (hopefully) in 2 hours due to the wind. Knowing that the 2 hour time estimate will probably be longer, I choose to abandon my mission for a previous engagement on the other end of town. The explosion happened in nearly double the time previously announced, but at least it was filmed by the local Channel 3 news crew so you can view it here… http://www.wkyc.com/video/default.aspx?bctid=1158222478001  All I can say is OUCH! Flames aside, the stuntmen are definitely earning their pay as they are flown through the air and slammed against a truck!

BGSU Stroh Center Rap is Hilarious

Even if you don’t have an affiliation with BGSU, you’ll enjoy this hilarious video! #RollAlongBGWarriors  Enormous talent went into the production of this hilarious homage to the funders of the new sports complex on campus, set to a catchy rap tune and full of G-rated slang.

As a marketing person I can appreciate the talent of the creators, production crew, editors and participants involved in making this a fun, yet proud moment for BGSU. As a BG alum, I enjoyed it immensely, but it’s still quite a funny music video and storyline that anyone can enjoy, young or old, even a Toledo Rocket or OSU Buckeye!

Elton John Entertains at Blossom Music Center

Elton John concert, Blossom Music CenterWhat’s better than seeing Elton John in your own backyard on a beautiful late summer night? Someone else winning tickets so they give you their tickets for half price! They were only lawn seats, which explains the less than ideal photos, but still a great score. The rain stopped by 5:00, so while the mud remained, it was a clear moonlit night. We started out the night having been turned away at the gate because our chairs were too tall. They were regular chairs in a bag, that you see everywhere, but it appeared many concert goers had been denied access with their chairs because we could see them littering the sides of the entrance. So we did the same, hoping they’d still be there at the end of the evening, and went toward the box office. On our way, a man holding tickets approached us and asked if we wanted his now extra tickets because he had won better ones.

Read more…

Avengers Movie Filming – It’s a wrap

Avengers Filming

Avengers hot dog cart about to be smashed

Visiting the site of the previous destruction for the Avengers filming I found that just like all movie magic, the props were gone, the street rubble cleaned up and the destroyed cars non-existent. Gone too were the passionate movie set “bouncers” controlling the crowds. But moving further down the street we found a smaller section of streets still active with movie-making activity. One unplanned prime vantage point was from the parking garage. Surprisingly I was able to park in the lot  arked “extras” and the view from the 3rd floor deck was perfect for viewing one of the side streets still filled with movie equipment. Unfortunately timing is everything and the only action taking place was by the crews moving rubble & props around. We then moved on to street level, as far as the barricades would allow, only to find it was 1:00 and except for a few crew members watching the set, they were at lunch, At least one thing is predictable with movie-making, lunchtime seems to be non-negotiable.

We found a perfect viewing spot to eat our lunch and had a front row seat (spectator seating is rare) to what was to be the smashing of a fully operational hot dog cart by a large plate of steel, the kind used for covering construction holes in the pavement. Read more…

Avengers filming in Cleveland… a visit to the “action”

NYPD cars, rubble, explosions and New York street signs, all might seem common if you were in NYC, or even a soundstage in L.A., but this is Cleveland! The props were all brought here by the  Marvel Comics crew who are in Cleveland this month shooting scenes for next year’s Avengers film. It’s usually the talk of the morning news… who has been there to see the filming, what they have seen, stars spotted (or lack of) and what roads are closed. For the most part, it’s not like a visit to the Universal Studios lot. The action is sporadic and sometimes disguised with smoke blown by giant fans, so you have to be in the right place at the right time.

We arrived at the area seeing road closed signs so we knew we were in the right place. Read more…

Kid Rock Keeps Fans Standing, Even The Last Row

Imagine 8:30 pm on a Tuesday night in Northeast Ohio, motorcycles in the parking lot as far as you can see, and through the haze you’re stepping over people who have already enjoyed the evening a little too much! Where would that be? A Kid Rock concert would be a good guess!  There was no end to the people watching opportunities, but as soon as Kid Rock hit the stage, all eyes and ears were on him. His powerful voice, confident style, unpredictable behavior (although you can predict that it will be unpredictable) and quite physical stage presence on a fire-breathing stage kept people on the lawn of Blossom Music Center standing for his entire two hour performance. Frankly, where else can you vocalize strings of profanity with 10,000 of your closest new friends without repercussion? Kid Rock peppered in newer songs from his Platinum-selling Born Free album, but it was clear by audience  participation that the fan favorites were his more raucous and often raunchy earlier songs.

I met a very young Kid Rock many years ago at a small gathering of music distribution employees who didn’t know anything about him yet, and were afraid to find out! Read more…

Keith Urban concert… a view from the 4th row

Keith Urban Concert 7-21-11
Photo: Jenni Hamilton

There is no marketing machine that could have accomplished what Keith Urban has in the last 14 years without what he’s got. And what he’s got, besides raw talent, is the unquantifiable, immeasurable “it” factor. July 21 at the Quicken Loans arena in Cleveland, Keith Urban lit up the arena for two and a half hours with his exceptional guitar playing and emotional songs, expressed by his enthusiasm for living! His well above average good looks don’t hurt either. Sitting in the 4th row right smack in the middle of the stage has it’s obvious advantages, but you really get a sense of what is going on up on the stage when you can see the expressions on the band’s faces and the apparent inside jokes. Keith Urban’s genuine hospitality shows through as if you are all personal guests who he has invited over for a foot stompin’, rawkus party, and much to the chagrin of the security staff, he encouraged everyone to get up on their seats!  

After being one of his 20 first fans back in 1997 when he played on his record label’s suburban Cleveland patio in a band called The Ranch, I was a witness to the real deal! Read more…