Sunday, January 27, 2013

Is it the Beginning of the End, or Just the Beginning?

I debated whether or not to write this post... in part because nobody really wants to read about whatever personal drama is happening in the monkey cage at the moment, and also because my employer may not be comfortable with it. But since this blog is still fairly anonymous, I think I can give you the gist without divulging too many details that might upset my employer.

I've mentioned previously that my once-secure job is no longer very secure. The dynamics of the company I work for have fundamentally changed due to a major budget restructuring by our clients' parent company, effective as of January 1st of this year. We've known it was coming since August, and efforts have been underway to generate new business since then, but after over 20 years with a unique and cushy niche it's been difficult to attain momentum in a new direction.

About a quarter of the 24 employees on staff left the company on their own before the end of 2012. Since the beginning of this year, another 5 have been laid off and the rest of us have had our hours and pay cut by 20%. Office morale is pretty low right now, and things are looking fairly grim.

It's not all doom and gloom though... While it's slow going, we have made some encouraging progress on the new business front. I'm not sure how much work will result from it, but it's a start. Will the company be able to survive? I really don't know. We're all trying to be optimistic, but I have a feeling that things may get worse before they get better.

I feel very fortunate that my current situation enables me to better ride this wave of uncertainty than some of my coworkers. Things are going to be extremely tight, but with Mr. Remarkable Monkey employed and our house six months away from being paid off, we SHOULD be okay... barring any unforseen financial calamities. As the only remaining employee in the art department, the company will probably need me to handle whatever creative work trickles in, so hopefully I'll be employed for at least a little while longer. I'm also slowly trying to get my portfolio updated in the hopes that I can pick up some freelance work soon. (Yes, I'm a graphic designer if you haven't guessed that already. "Really? Then why the hell haven't you customized the design of this blog, Remarkable Monkey?" Because it hasn't been a priority, pal! This blog is mostly a writing exercise for me, but now that I have extra time on my hands........)

Truth be told, I was already considering cutting back to part time work when the house is paid for so I can go back to school and get my bachelor's degree. I don't know if I actually WILL do that, but this may be the last best chance I have to do it. So maybe fate is trying to tell me something. Either way, while it's a little scary, this shake-up could turn out to be a good thing. All I can do is try to make sure that it DOES turn out that way. Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Either Way, It's a Catchy Hook...

Is it just me, or does the hook in the song in the current Kia Soul hamsters-in-space commercial ("In My Mind" - Axwell Mix) sound a lot like the hook in Wreckless Eric's "Whole Wide World"?

 (Couldn't find the short version of the current Kia Soul spot, but this has the song. You can watch the full original "Opera" version here.)

You be the judge. (Love that Wreckless Eric song!)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

"Truth" in Advertising?

The other night, Mr. Remarkable Monkey and I were watching Top Gear on BBC America (is it just me, or is the British version of Top Gear the only one worth watching?) when one of those wonderful cable-only commercials came on. You know the kind... low-budget production, excitable voice-over announcer, overly obvious acting, etc. The ad was for a certain lightning implement.

Now, I was playing around on my new MacBook Pro and only half paying attention when the commercial started. But the over-emphatic announcer caught my attention. Without looking up from my laptop, I commented to Mr. RM about the "James Brolin School of Acting" quality of the voiceover. (The James Brolin School of Acting tag is a fond moniker we've given to any example of tin pan alley, obvious or just plain bad thespianism. No offense intended to James Brolin, but it was based on a few poor examples of his acting that we've witnessed in the past, but that's just our opinion.)

The ad was full of enthusiastic declarations about the amazing features of the product, delivered with such gusto that one would believe this item is the be-all and end-all of the lighting world! The greatest thing since the electric lightbulb! Truly, this spot could almost be mistaken for a parody of those "seen on TV" ads, but it's for real. And then, without warning, the announcer made the astounding declaration that this particular lantern was made with "genuine metal".  GENUINE METAL! WTF? Mr. RM and I immediately stopped and looked at each other, and then burst out laughing. Genuine metal? Seriously? What other kind of metal is there?

In defense of the copywriter, I'll grant that there probably are many products made from plastic embellished to look like metal, but the exuberance with which the statement was made was completely over the top and comedically ridiculous. Or maybe it was just us. I don't know. Here's a link to the spot... I'll let you be the judge. (The metal magic happens at 1:17.)

On top of the genuine metal claim, the lantern also features an "authentic antique dome"... whatever that is. Have they recycled the dome part from old lanterns? Other versions of this spot say "authentic shatterproof dome" instead of "authentic antique dome"... I wonder which version is the the "legally approved claim" version? The mind boggles.

Apparently, this ad has been around since last summer, but somehow we'd never seen it in the monkey cage. At any rate, we might be late to the party, but we got a solid chuckle out of it! Maybe you will too. I think they may carry these at some big box retailers now too, so feel free to run out and buy yourself one! Be sure to let me know if it lights up the night for ya, and lasts 10,000 hours.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Let's Get This Year Started...

I can honestly say I wasn't sorry to see last year end. 2012 was not very kind to me... it was a year marked by loss: I lost my grandma, then my father, I lost the bulk of my job security and Mr. Remarkable Monkey lost his job altogether, and we lost a dear friend just before Thanksgiving. We've also had to deal with Hobey's diagnosis of Cushing's (along with the expensive testing and ongoing treatment), and watch him struggle with arthritis issues as he gets older. All in all, as I sat here on New Year's Eve, I mostly just felt like bidding 2012 goodbye and good riddance.

But it wasn't all bad.... Mr. RM and I are both reasonably healthy, and I even managed to lose 15 pounds in the past year (ten more and I'll really be a skinny bitch). And although my employment status is a bit shaky, I DO still have my job for now, and Mr. RM started his new job last month so we both have paychecks coming in at the moment. Our mortgage is really close to being paid off, so I'm hoping our employment situation will remain stable for at least another few months until we get that knocked out. But if not, we'll be fine. We'll figure it out.

We also enjoyed some fun with friends and family last year. We saw some good movies and one rockin' Broadway show. We had some great meals and tried a couple new restaurants. We got to paddle down the river in a dragon boat, a truly cool experience. I got to visit with some family I haven't seen in years, which was fun despite of purpose of the trip being to spread my grandparents' ashes. And I was able to find that lost puppy a good home last month. We got an update from her new mommy last week... she named the pup Zoey, and she's adjusting to her new home well and getting lots of love.

In the grand scheme of things 2012 could have been much worse, and it was for a lot of folks. I mean, I wasn't shot at while at the movies, and none of my friends' kids were shot at while at school. My nephew is in Afghanistan and may or may not have been shot at, but so far remains safe and uninjured. Our home wasn't flattened by a superstorm, or by fire or flood. None of our friends and loved ones were mangled or worse in a car/train/plane crash. We haven't gone hungry and have all the necessities, most creature comforts and even a few small luxuries. So I'm trying to focus on the positive as we move into the new year. Lucky 13? Maybe. I'm just hoping it will be a better year for all of us.

Happy New Year, y'all.