In Which I Yap About Football Uniforms – Again… (and Marketing and Social Media…Again)

"Man, these uni's are awful.  We look like idiots."From "The Brady 6".  ©ESPN

“Man, these uni’s are awful. We look like idiots.”
From “The Brady 6”. ©ESPN

Of all the things Tom Brady may do as a NFL player, that quote may be the best – at least for me, a Vikings fan.  Brady doesn’t rationalize his opinion, he states it as he states the obvious: what currently passes as innovative design is crap.  Why am I going on about this topic again?  Because, as a Vikings fan, I am aware that the Vikings are set to reveal their newest new uniforms and the social media blitz is ridiculous.

These are the current uniforms that I have hated since the first time I laid eyes on them:

Photo: Rich Gabrielson/Icon SMI

Yeah, the Cardinals uniforms suck, too!
Photo: Rich Gabrielson/Icon SMI

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The Rams uniforms do not suck!
Photo: John Biever/SI

These uniforms reek of somebody trying too hard.  I believe Reebok was the offender in this case.  Their design team (I’m guessing this cluelessness was a team effort) tried to incorporate the horn element from the helmet into all aspects of the uniform, from the ill-fitted shoulders to down the side of the pants with an embarrassing bit of gold piping thrown in for bad measure.  They even changed the horn on the helmet to give it a “3-D element”, as Zygi Wilf described it.  That was an unforgivable crime!  They were touted in much the same way as these newest new uniforms are being marketed, except without the inevitable Facebook/Twitter/blah, blah, blah… social media integration that makes me want to vomit.  They even had a fashion show of the new uniforms that reminded me of a scene out of Slapshot, “I’m gonna wiggle it at ’em!”  These new uniforms happened all the way back in 2006!  Considering that the team wore essentially the same uniform for 34 years before changing to their mid-90s look and went with that for ten years, of course it’s time to change again!  The only thing I liked about the 90s and the current uniform is that they corrected the shapes of the numbers and put the gold trim around them again – and that’s the only thing I liked.

The thing for me is this: a good look is a good look, it doesn’t matter when that look came out.  Try as they might and as simple a design as it is, neither Nike nor anyone else is going to out-design the best look the Vikings had and that was the one they started with:

PPE

from neilleifer.com

And as an added bonus, somebody must have been reading my mind when they drew this one out:

new-whites

From ssur.org

It’s a little different from the original purple pants, but it’s better and it needs to happen!

And let’s make it clear what the helmet needs to look like:

Clint Jones' helmet.Photo: vsaauctions.com

Clint Jones’ helmet.
Photo: vsaauctions.com

So, the cynic in me looks at this redesign of the uniform as a non-verbal admission that the current uniforms were not good and that the funding for the new stadium (Vikings don’t need no stinkin’ roof!) is not going well or as promised and the jersey-buying completist must be fleeced. Yep, this is the era of the quick-buck merchandising con because the league wouldn’t be viable if the Cardinal didn’t look tougher, or the Lion fiercer, or if Pat the Patriot didn’t turn into Elvis, or if Ragnar wasn’t squashed and drawn on with a Sharpie!

As I await the April 25th releasing of the Kraken, I have my expectations low but my fingers crossed that out of the current wave of eyesore uniforms in the NFL (I’m looking at you, Seattle, and my eyes hurt!), the Vikings get something that doesn’t look like some designer was jerking off trying to be “innovative”; we already have that and it fails.  While I can’t respect Packers fans for calling the Vikings “Viqueens” or saying they have a sperm on their helmets, I can respect the Packers for never straying too far from the uniforms in which the Packer tradition was created.  Tradition is part of what makes a franchise great, not the flash-in-the-pan disasters that clothing manufacturers crank out to make a quick excessively-priced buck.

There’s a saying that your first impulse is usually correct.  I think that works in this case.  It’s time the Vikings get their uniforms back the way they’re supposed to be and then put a team on the field that will live up to the tradition of Vikings championship football.

James Montgomery is a freelance illustrator/graphic designer in real life.  If you would like to see him play one on TV, submit your requests here.  Only serious applications will be considered.  😛

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WTF Driving

Right-On-Red

©2013 James Montgomery Studios

This is about driving and driving I have observed.  No, sorry, this isn’t an entry extolling the virtues of getting the slowpokes out of the left lane.  Yes, the slowpokes and the mesmerized should get out of the left lane, but that is an argument too often made by those who want some version of an American autobahn and don’t give a damn about speed limits.  I am not on-board with those folks.  I favor following the law – especially speed limits – and if a state has a “slow traffic to the right” rule, similar to the German autobahn fahr rechts custom, then that should be observed.  However a passing lane is not a drive-however-the-hell-fast-you-want lane.

This isn’t about that.

This is about “right on red”.

Now, to take you back on this subject, from my personal experience, I will tell you that I grew up in the rather smallish town of Florence, Alabama.  For what the town lacks in population or economic opportunities, it more than makes up for in traffic lights.  I first took notice of the “right on red” signs in the late 60’s in Florence.  It was a rather novel idea that someone could stop at the light and, if the way was clear, go ahead and turn right against the red.  I didn’t know how many other cities had this rule, but it wasn’t a universally accepted concept, so there were signs hanging from the power lines at each intersection where “right on red” was permitted.

Over time, the idea that one could turn on any red, providing it was safe to do so, caught on and there was no problem that I ever saw in doing that.  In fact, the use of the “right on red” sign was no longer needed – people understood the concept – and the signs were now being used to tell drivers when it was not permitted.  “Right on red” had done a 180° turn from the days when it was a curious privilege.

Now to the present day and driving in my current residence of Florence, South Carolina (funny how that Florence-to-Florence thing works in social situations!).  I didn’t think much about driving or drivers when I first moved to South Carolina until I saw my driving insurance rates.  You see, Florence, Alabama, had the reputation of having one of the highest insurance rates in the state.  Whether that was true or not was irrelevant because there is a collection of really bad drivers there.  Imagine my surprise when I saw that my insurance rate went up upon my arrival in South Carolina!  How could the driving be worse?

Well, the driving isn’t worse, but I have noticed an occurrence that happens with disturbing frequency: too many people here don’t seem to get the whole “right on red” thing!  I mean drivers will just sit there, blinker flashing (which is unusual in itself), no traffic coming from the other direction, and they will just sit there!  Sometimes giving them the horn doesn’t faze them!  What the hell is going on with these folks?  I could understand (somewhat) if the drivers were old, but they aren’t; these are people who grew up with “right on red” and should know better than what they are doing.  I don’t know if they are too chicken to stick their necks out there or distracted drivers playing with their phones when they should be paying attention, but it’s selfish behavior and it pisses me off!  If you are on the road, you have an obligation to drive the way you’re supposed to drive.  If you are at a red light turning right and the way is clear, GO!  There is no excuse.

I’ve been to Spain, Japan, South Korea, and various places in the U.S. and bad driving is a worldwide phenomenon (I think Russians take the prize, though!)  The thing that gets under my skin about this is that it is just so damn unnecessary.  If you’re going to drive, don’t be stupid!  There are enough problems with driving that you don’t have to start creating situations that will just waste time and raise tempers.  If these drivers don’t understand the concept of “right on red”, what else about driving do they not understand?  I really don’t want to find out.

Assumptions and the People Who Assume (A rant in 9/8)

You can assume this is a pipe… and you'd be wrong.  You may also assume that you are seeing letters and pictures and, again, you'd be wrong to characterize this little collection of pixels as anything more than 1's and 0's.

You can assume this is a pipe… and you’d be wrong. You’d also be wrong to characterize this little webpage as anything more than 1’s and 0’s.
© René Magritte Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

We’ve all heard it before:  “When you assume, you make an ASS out of U and ME.”  Gosh, how darn clever.  I had to get that out of the way and I will let you assess the validity of that statement for yourself.  As far as I’m concerned, when you assume, you make an ass out of you if you assume incorrectly and you may involve me.

So why am I playing with Trite Aphorisms People Are Sick of Hearing?  Because I’ve had the extreme displeasure to see some tired old rationalizations pop up recently and I’m amazed people still spew these things:  “We had George W. Bush for president thanks to Ralph Nader” and “3-D movies are not a gimmick because of Technicolor.”  Yeah, one is somewhat more serious than the other, but my Illogic and False Equivalency (IFE) meter doesn’t care about that.

So, some people still choose to believe that Ralph Nader’s candidacy is responsible for Bush Beating Gore in 2000.  There are some studies floating around that refute that thinking, not only that a Nader-less election did not mean those votes cast for him would automatically go to Gore, but some may have gone to Bush! (http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/polisci/faculty/lewis/pdf/greenreform9.pdf — don’t get used to this, I don’t like statistical reading and this isn’t a thesis!)  Above all, Nader is the convenient whipping-boy for these folks because he was the best known and garnered the largest amount of votes.  Yet there were other third-party candidates who pulled enough votes in Florida to turn the election to Gore.  Why aren’t they being accused?  And do the people who didn’t even bother to vote at all get a free pass?

To assume a left-leaner or a right-leaner is an automatic vote for a Democrat or a Republican is exactly what the supporters of the two-party monopoly of power want the public to think – and it’s wrong.  To think that a third party is not viable is true only to the extent to which that party garners support.  Third parties, as they exist now, tend to represent more extreme views of either side of the partisan spectrum, but if you want different goals pursued in Washington, you want a third party candidate because, as we can see, Washington excels in little else but the status quo.  I get a sense that today’s Washington politicians are lousy poker players: it’s not all or nothing with every issue; you can’t go “all-in” with every hand because eventually you will lose and lose everything.  There has to be nuance to governance and what we are getting is agendas – even agendas that are unpopular (30-round magazines, anyone?).  Aside from all of that, though, remember, an anti-slavery party got its start in 1854 to battle the Democrats and Whigs.  Any guess as to what that party was called?

The more trivial of my irritants is this continued bleating about how great 3-D movies are.  I believe the forum I was in had shifted its focus to trashing Avatar and 3-D.  Naturally, some twit pipes up and says, paraphrasing, “3-D is no different than using Technicolor in a movie.”  Well, the IFE went to 11 when I read that.  Since I refuse to register myself with Disqus, I didn’t reply, but the absolute falseness of that statement is staggering.  The implication – insofar as it pertains to my topic – is that this person assumes their little brain fart is correct!

I have seen Toy Story 3 and the last installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise in 3-D.  To say that I was underwhelmed doesn’t even begin to touch the dissatisfaction I have for spending $60 so my wife and I could see both those movies.  It wasn’t worth it.  So let me take this time to clue in the clueless:  3-D is an expensive gimmick in an industry that is only seeking to extract more money out of your wallet.  Period.  I will explain:

I create media, whether it is illustrations, cartoons, comics, video, etc. – and 3-D.  I know a lot about the movie industry and how these things get made.  I also get to work with people who work on some interesting things.  My old buddy Dave, works at a place where they do 3-D printing.  They also have a 3-D visual system that creates images used for training.  Some of these images are in a space called a “Cave” and 3-D images are projected to enable a viewer to walk around the object!  But it takes multiple projectors to achieve this; you know why?  Because it’s not really 3-D and neither is that movie you’re watching at the theater!  The best – and I mean the absolute best – that can ever be achieved with our current technology is what I call the “Viewmaster Effect”.  Sure, it looks like there’s some depth to it, but it is a manufactured illusion.  Even in the Cave, all you will ever see are 2-D projections on flat surfaces – there is no depth, there is no volume, there is no 3-D.

Apparently even Ridley Scott is the newest disciple of the 3-D craze in Hollywood, but ask him if his newest technological gimmick kept Prometheus from being a movie that many people despised?  Did 3-D make Avatar anything beyond a pretty visual over an unoriginal script that borrowed heavily from Pocahontas?  (Notice how I didn’t use the idiotic word “reimagining” there?)  I saw Prometheus.  I thought it was a good opening for a longer story, but I’m also glad that I didn’t spend the extra money for the 3-D version that the ticket girl was trying to push.  I have the regular version of Avatar on DVD (a format that is on borrowed time and worth another rant by itself) and I have watched it repeatedly.  I like the movie, despite the whole “Pocahontas” thing and I have never missed not seeing the 3-D version.  It’s about the story and the storytelling – not the visual gimmicks.  That’s the way it will always be; otherwise, there would never be any 3-D movies that failed at the box office and we all know that’s not true!

So, back to our twit and his “Technicolor”.  The plain truth should be rather obvious to him: we see in color, not in black and white.  Technicolor is the result of chemicals in the film-making process.  Through exposure to light and development of the film with the proper chemicals, the color is achieved.  This isn’t “you think you are seeing red, but it isn’t really red.”  To compare a color development process to a fabrication such as 3-D is absurdist to the point of willful ignorance.  This unoriginal argument smacks of deliberately not  wanting to see the forest for the trees.

But, then again, I may be making an assumption.

Ah, the Times in Which We Live… Sports and Money

Hardass-GM-is-a-hardass

©Paramount Pictures

Full disclosure: I am a Vikings fan; I have been since I was nine-years old and discovered these guys with big white horns on their helmets beating up on the Chicago Bears.  Over the years, what this shows, if anything, is that I can take a lot of misery.  What I can’t take is the seemingly endless line-up of overpaid prima donnas whose only contribution to the general consciousness is to play a sport.

Now I could spend my time here deliberating the pros and cons of one Percy Harvin, he of the migraine headaches and deliverer of headaches to opponents and front office personnel, alike.  His football talent isn’t really on my mind – it’s his yapping about his contract.  With the advent of big money in pro sports, there seems to be somebody, somewhere, on some team who doesn’t get the whole “team before self” concept.  These are the guys who gotta get paid.  Mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money.  Every year, we get to hear their Soliloquies of Self-worth, with a percentage for their agents.  These are the guys who treat contracts as nothing more than suggestions that are past consideration and college as nothing more than an opportunity to show-off for the pros while diplomas are for other people.  Who can blame them?  A single year’s payout from some of these contracts would set me up for the rest of my life!  Still there are those who complain they aren’t being paid enough.  And oh, how they are being disrespected by the teams who hold their contracts and don’t renegotiate!

I read an article several years ago, when corporate raiders were all the rage, that talked about how the obscene salaries for many executives of these Fortune 500 companies had gotten past the point of what was equitable compensation to simply one-upping the other big executives.  So while the earnings of average American workers have stagnated over the past three decades (and my salary from these years is testament to that!), CEOs across the country were engaged in some big corporate dick-measuring contest!  This is what goes on in pro sports and isn’t it about time somebody ask “how much money is enough”?

I suppose some “free-market”-types will step in and talk about pricing and salaries are commensurate with what the market will bear.  Well, the market is bearing public funding of stadiums (ahem, how are those pull-tabs working out for you, Minnesota?), PSL’s, and outrageous concession and parking fees.  I have been to one Viking game in my life and I got to see Cris Carter make his one-handed grab against the Falcons in Atlanta… sort of.  I had tickets where I could afford them and I would have seen the catch better if the Falcons would have stood more to the side so I could get a better view.  I watched a preseason game between the Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins.  At the time, it cost me $80 per seat to sit on the glass.  During the season, that cost would have at least quadrupled.  Who can afford this?

So, Percy will just have to forgive me if I don’t share some sympathy for his plight of not garnering the financial respect he thinks he deserves.  Because if Percy was a smart fella, he’d have paid attention last year when the Vikings won four games when they absolutely had to win them and did.  Percy would have noticed that he wasn’t on the field during those games and that might mitigate the Vikings’ willingness to deal with an oft-ailing player who complains too loudly.  That sort of thing could find you a new home in Jacksonville and how much money would it take to ease that pain?