A Central Coast native, now a Bay Area transplant. Loves cheap B-Movies and PEZ. Old-school 8-bit video game addict that loves anything advertising. Embracing all things nerdy and tech. This is an account of all the things I find interesting in the day-to-day life I live. Welcome!

  1. Taco Bell - A Lesson In Good PRBy Alfred Torres III
Well, the time has come and we all knew this day would eventually be here: Taco Bell has released the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco. The preliminary results are in and people love them. Reading some of the tweets in the article, you know that every college student is having a collective “nom nom nom” of pleasure. But looking back, you have to give credit to Taco Bell for weathering the economy and keeping their customers returning. Few QSR’s (Quick service Restaurants/AKA Fast Food Stores) have done this as well as Taco Bell has.  
It wasn’t long ago that Taco Bell was really struggling to become something other than a fast food joint that appealed to the 2AM post-bar crowd. Their sales were down. Their products were nothing to write home about. They had almost zero presence on any kind of social media. Yes, those were dark days for Taco Bell. But what has lead them to such great success? Well, a combination of things, but if I had to point out three primary reasons, it would be these: Relevant products, fantastic PR and not trying to be “something they aren’t”.
While Taco Bell was struggling, they went back to the drawing board and asked an important three-word question: “What products work”? The answer was a rather unorthodox one. Because they were willing to put the brand on the table, and not “play it safe”, the finding was something they least expected: Doritos Chips.
As it turned out, every college student was needing to fill up, but on a broke-student budget. So students would buy burritos and put Doritos chips in them, to get both amazing flavor and substance. Was this really the answer? Chips? Well, it turns out, yes, it was, and on a much larger scale than they first thought.
Students across campuses on the East Coast were all loading their Taco Bell burritos with chips. Additionally the students that were introduced to these “crunch burritos” responded with a resounding “yes” to pull the trigger on this product being brought to Taco Bell. The sales of this product alone began what would be the momentum for Taco Bell’s comeback, not seen since the likes of Rocky 4. But even Rocky had some setbacks.
During this time, the worst thing that could possibly happen to any QSR happened to Taco Bell: A review stating their meat was not really meat at all. Rather, that it was a substance of soy, fat and mystery fluids. Nothing can kill a QSR reputation faster than someone questioning the integrity of your food. Taco Bell seemed to handle this so well, it should serve as a model for future QSR’s to address problems. 
The CEO of the company, not a spokesperson, came out and debunked literally every finding meant to destroy Taco Bell. Not only did he do this, he backed up every statement with facts, reassurances and a personal promise that held himself accountable. It was rare. Not a lot of other QSR’s like McDonalds or even Jack In the Box would go that far. In return, people believed what Taco Bell was saying, and sales didn’t plummet. From a PR perspective, it was pretty genius. Couple this with putting your product in a movie like the Blind Side, and it makes people feel like Taco Bell is a trusted brand. 
In addition to this, while some QSR’s have done a number in venturing into other age/demographics (like Burger King’s venture into establishing themselves as a premium high end brand), Taco Bell has always stayed loyal to their roots. They know teens and college students are their top customers, and they own it. They don’t try to over-do the pandering to other groups of people. They stick to what they know. Their next move was a big one, and one that would catapult the brand to a new height. 
Taco Bell knew their customers loved Doritos… and tacos… so the move to feature a Dorito shell was a big one. Almost everyone I know has tried them out and loved them. And this was apparent looking at all the buzz generated. They revamped their social media arm and were reaching customers left and right through Twitter. When something didn’t work, they listened. When a customer complained, they responded. For all intensive purposes,Taco Bell has done a fantastic job showing how effective Social Media can be in the B2C realm.
The main reason the Cool Ranch taco shell even exists, is due to the buzz generated through social media. Another smart move by Taco Bell. Build up demand for the product, and in turn, it will guarantee sales. Smart. Make people demand the product and it will create a buzz. Even smarter. Generate a buzz and new customers start to get interested. Smartest. Move. Ever. 
Pretty amazing strategy. Meanwhile, I’ll be eating organic and all natural. Am I jealous? A little. Will I be trying the new Cool Ranch Doritos Locos taco? You bet. After all, I have heard a lot of good things about it on Twitter.  1
  2. Why “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” Has Become the Most Relevant Cartoon on TV - Alfred Torres III

Growing up in the 80s, I used to love waking up early on Saturday mornings to catch the myriad of amazing cartoons today’s kids are missing out on. Captain N the Gamemaster, Ghostbusters, Fantastic Max, He-Man and Duck Tales were among my all-time favorites. There is something to be said when a cartoon can teach a real-life lesson. This was the case in all of these. Buried beneath all the craziness and laughs was a “moral of the story” that gave you one thing to take away. It wasn’t always obvious. In fact, sometimes it was so subtle you might not realize you learned it. And hence the reason 80s, and even some early 90s, cartoons were amazing. 
About the late 90s, there was a sudden shift in programming. The internet became a thing, information was now more abundant and communication was much more rapid. Remember the song and dance you did with AOL or Juno to send E-mail? The dialing of the number, the impending screech and the constant praying that there was a free line you could connect to with your blazing fast modem speed of 56K… it was a process, and a long one at that. Now, we just send everything through our “smartphones”, and complain when an E-mail takes longer than 5 seconds on our 4G connection. Simply put: We have slowly evolved into a society that has put a premium on our attention, and, in turn, has caused that attention span to be severely short. There is no better reflection of this than what is considered “entertainment” on TV. We went from programming like “The Cosbys, Full House and Rescue 911” to “Jersey Shore, Honey BooBoo and Teen Mom”. 
Reality TV has done a number to us. And the sad part is that most “reality TV” is actually quite artificial. But we all know that kids are impressionable and mimic the ridiculousness of the likes of Snookie and J-Wow. So I always feel sorry for those that yell out stuff like YOLO or dress like they are from the “artificial Jersey”. Through all of this, nothing is taught. It’s essentially the “dead calories” of our new TV diet. Our brains used to get good info. It used to continually learn. Now, because we are bombarded with information, we have desensitized ourselves and respond to “shock TV”. Stuff not good for us… and we know it. 
About a year ago, my friend contacted me and we had out usual conversation consisting of ongoing classic project cars, online games and what our friends have been up to. But then he said something that really caught me off-guard: He asked if I had ever watched the newest iteration of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Only having a brief experience of being forced by my cousins to watch the 80s girly iteration of the series, I simply said I hadn’t. He kept telling me to watch just one episode, and I’d thank him later because it wasn’t cheesy or anything stereotypical. I kept thinking the whole thing was, for lack of a better word, lame. I didn’t think about it for a few months until I came across it on Netflix. I was bored. I didn’t feel like going out, so I figured “why not”. 
After watching the first episode, I was completely stunned. It was good. Real good. No, I mean it… it was amazingly good. The characters were funny, but diverse. One was shy, another was loud; one was a “get-dirty” cowgirl, another was very “proper” and into fashion; one is the “analytic thinker” while the last is a very “heads-first” showoff… it was refreshing. Each pony has their strengths, but they also have their flaws.
The main thing that kept me interested was that every pony deals with a real experience. Not something as pedestrian as needing to make tea for a tea party (this really happened in the 80s version and a WHOLE episode was devoted to it), rather, it addresses REAL experiences. A few of them that stood out to me were:1. Not making assumptions of people because of their culture/appearance2. Dealing with bullies & fitting in3. Figuring out your strengths and acknowledging weaknesses4. Learning when not to please others when it costs you your personal happiness5. Learning to trust after being wrongedPretty deep for a cartoon, but highly relevant and all the while entertaining.
I was truly surprised and couldn’t believe the predicament I was in. Here I was, sitting down on my couch on a Sunday watching… My Little Pony. If you had told me that this is what life had in store for me, I would’ve raised the “creeper flag”. But in all actuality, I didn’t think there was cause for feeling embarrassed for watching this show. It was legitimately good. And for the first time ever, I found myself defending a show that was primarily created for little girls in grade school. Then I started learning about how I was not the only one who felt this way. Thousands of MEN liked the show too and have referred to themselves as “Bronies” But why was this? 
The answer, I feel, is the subtle nature of “good TV”. The thing that drew us into 80s cartoons (individuality, learning experience, morals) was suddenly making a reappearance!  And the fact it has resonated with MEN 18 - 35 is a testament to that. MLP has tapped into all the things that made TV great. It’s not trashy programming. And the fact that they didn’t make each female pony a stereotypical ditsy glam-girl makes it credible. Is there good humor? Yes. I can’t begin to tell you how funny the songs are (my favorite being the cupcake song). They are meant to be funny for all ages. And that is where the genius of this show lies.
Some cartoons just feel cheesy, but this show does everything to avoid that. And when something is, it fully acknowledges it, making you feel comfortable that you can laugh at it’s absurdity.
People who have lived through the 80s and early 90s know that TV was a time for family. There was always a sense of community old-school TV had. I remember watching Full House and Mr. Belvedere with my parents. There was always a moment in the show that made you think. That made you feel slightly uncomfortable (Remember that episode of Rosanne where they addressed Nancy coming out as a lesbian, or Saved By the Bell with Jesse’s pill addiction). Well MLP does a fantastic job of navigating these rough waters to teach a moral of the story that everyone can learn from. 
At the end of each episode, one pony writes to the “queen” about her findings on friendship. You learn the lesson, but also have some clarification at the end of each episode for the younger viewers. It’s a formula that has worked well to address some of the tougher topics I previously mentioned. It’s meant to stir up discussion, which is what the shows in the 80s and 90s did well. You talked about it. 
"Fake TV/Reality TV" causes you to talk more about the actions, rather than the morals and consequences. I can’t tell you how many times my co-workers or friends talk about who had sex or cheated on a reality show. Or who did the most shocking thing on live TV, all to get 15 minutes of fame. We learn nothing and encourage people to “one-up” that shock value. I’m done with it, and I’m sure most people are too. 
TV has done a great job of lowering the bar. And it seems like good TV has all but disappeared. I’ve even come across some fantastic pilot shows, but it seems like networks refuse to pick them up. Like THIS. Or THIS. 
So my advice to you: Watch one episode. Don’t judge. And let me know what you think. Honestly, if programming was like this, I would be more inclined to pay for cable as opposed to running everything off the internet via Roku. I think my friend that introduced me to the show put it best: “If you watch this show, I honestly think it makes you a better person.”
What do you think?
  3. Ever wonder what a 700 year old home looks like? Here is one in Iran. I wonder how much rent is?
  4. dainfagerholm:

Guardian II.
acrylic on wood
GIF
©2012 Dain Fagerholm

Some GIF’s are weird. Some are awesome. But I never thought mixing both together would be so amazing. I love this.  1005
  5. Prime example of advertising at it’s finest: A fire breathing cow.
This. Is. Awesome.
Thanks Chick-fil-a.
  6. "When I was young, I worked like the donkey. Why the donkey? Everybody thinks the donkey is stupid. But the truth is the donkey does the hardest work while the people laugh just because he sounds funny. 
After a few years, everybody wants to own the donkey because he proves himself everyday. They don’t care about how it sounds anymore. So when you go through life, are you going to let others say what’s wrong with you, or show them what’s right?” 
— Pete Melero (My Grandpa - The hardest-working person I know)
  7. No matter how much I look at this… it’s still funny… 
  8. Salar de Uyuni (the world’s largest salt flat) in Bolivia after it has rained. Magnificent :)Read more about it HERE.
  9. The Great American Movie

    So I LOVE Netflix.  Ever since they allow you to do the whole “instant streaming” thing, I’ve been seeing all kinds of movies that I would have otherwise overlooked.  Sometimes, I stumble upon great movies (Warriors of Heaven and Earth, Clannad, Seven Samurai, Tyson) and sometimes, not so great (Behind Enemy Lines 3, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus). Once in a while, I find a true diamond…  This happened recently when Netflix, in all their greatness, suggested which still kinda creeps me out how accurate they suggest stuff that I end up loving  a movie called “The Way We Get By”.  The title at first seemed to me like a misnomer.  I was expecting to see maybe starving children, or maybe militant “freedom fighters” or as we call them…terrorists  but instead, I was treated to a cover that looked like something out of an AARP ad:   The premise for this movie is simple:  Maine has the easternmost airport in the U.S. and almost all the soldiers that return from Iraq go through that airport.  There are a group of elderly people that don’t want returning soldiers to come home to… well… nobody, so they welcome returning troops.   So when I first started watching it, within 10 minutes, I was not only moved to tears, but I was completely captivated at both the beauty and simplicity of this film.  Now, I’m not one to cry very easily watching a movie  unless its the last 10 minutes of Braveheart, A walk to Remember, or uuuggghhhhh the Notebook but this movie will really move you in a way you never thought possible.  I not only believe that this movie needs to be watched…but it needs to be watched by every American regardless of your politics.  If I had to encourage you to watch one movie this year…this would be it. The way the people in the film continue to serve their country is moving to say the least.  There is a WW2 vet in this film, and rather than do this:   He does this: Now what I loved about this movie is that it didn’t feel like a propaganda film.  I hate it when that happens.  The people who made this film could’ve very easily changed it into “do you support the war or not”.  But instead, this film is about the people under the uniform.  It’s about their families and about the tough choices you have to make when you serve in the armed forces.  At it’s core, if this movie could be personified… it would be like getting served this: From him: I can not stress how much I loved this movie.  Touching, powerful and an amazing study of those that have already served.  If you have Netflix, there is no reason you should NOT have already watched this movie to see what a real hero looks like, regardless of their age.  Penguins Earned:  10/10