How to Get Alinea Reservations

April 20th, 2011

Mrs. Ikeepitreal and I are hitting the 10 year anniversary this summer. We’re taking a trip to Chicago to go to Alinea, among other things. Here’s how to get reservations at America’s most famous restaurant:

1) Wake up early on the first day of the month, 2 months before you want to have your mind blown.

2) Speed dial them with fervor. My personal strategy was to pretend like I was calling an oldies radio station hoping to win tickets to Paul Revere and the Raiders at the local tribal casino:

Rhubarb 7 ways, here we come!


Underappreciated - Jennifer Lare

April 6th, 2011

I hesitate to call this a new series because I post so infrequently, but I would like to start calling out people who do great work and hang in the shadows. Should be fun — we’ll call it UNDERAPPRECIATED.

Excuse me while I turn this blog into an IMDB link farm:

Jennifer Lare is the casting director for the NBC show Parenthood. She *killed* it with this show. For starters, if you have kids and you aren’t watching it, you need to re-asses your TV starting rotation. It is well written, dialog-driven (in a good way), and impeccably acted.

That’s where Ms. Lare’s genius comes in. The actors are great, but it takes something special to find the right one for each character in such a big ensemble cast. She managed to pull in a murderers row of great actors. This guy from Sports Night. Dax from Punkd. She’s got Minka Kelly once in a while (from Friday Night Lights and your buddy’s screen saver), and some brilliant kid playing a child with Asperger’s. My favorite is the brooding goth girl named Amber, who is apparently a super experienced voice actress most recently seen coming through your Netflix as the voice of Tinker Bell (!) in those movies your 3 year old daughter loves.

I’m so impressed, I may try to work in some other shows Lare worked on. Did anyone get through more than the first episode of Knight Rider? :)

Nice work Jennifer. When television casting stands out to a total noob, you nailed it.


This picture is REAL

August 29th, 2010

I really like the star effects on the photo.  Thanks for the shot Niffgurd!

Keeping It Real

Throwback Indeed

January 11th, 2010

I found this bad boy in my crawl space. Probably as old as my house, and me!


The Maverick

December 28th, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen — I present to you ‘The Maverick’ pogo stick! Cause nothing says edgy/rebellious like POGO.

What’s next, a ‘Going Rogue’ bocce set?


The OC

December 21st, 2009

Time to weigh in on some real-keeping!  It’s been a while.  Today’s subject: Owl City

Dear Owl City,

Your case has been brought to my attention by the real-keeping board.  After extensive research it is with my deepest apologies that I write you this letter.  Let’s be clear — I love your story.  I like your style.  You are skinny.  You have nice bangs.  You made it big by recording music independently and leveraging the internet.  You have embraced the electro-pop ennui.  I don’t begrudge you the crossover pop appeal (they are playing your stuff on Top 40 radio in Seattle! *)  Your music is appealing.

But you ripped off the Postal Service, dude.  I mean, COMEON.  We’ve all heard their songs ad nauseum in 30-second bursts during football games.  You can’t get away with such blatant plagiarism.  I’m not the only one who hears this.  Your Wikipedia page lists 7 separate publications accusing you of over the top ‘derivation’.

To be honest with you, Mr. City (can I call you that?) I want to listen to your album.  I want to ignore the similarity.  You have no idea what I would pay for a 2nd Postal Service album.  When I first heard “Fireflies”, I thought “hey, this is kinda like Postal Service except a little less Gibbardy and with more emo lyrics”.  I like this!  But 30 seconds later I realized EVERY SINGLE PART OF THE SONG IS A COPY.  You claim Imogen Heap as an influence.  You couldn’t have switched into a little “Hide and Seek” during the bridge?

Ultimately it comes down to this.  You can’t copy the best album of the aughts.  In my role as real-keeping czar, I hearby strip you of any street cred you have left.  I hope you enjoy your slow crippling descent into selling your music at Wal-Mart.


Mr ikeepitreal

* Not that I listen to Top 40.  How dare you.


Great Cinema

December 15th, 2009

I’m on my 5th night in a row trying to get through “Transformers Revenge of the Fallen”. Why is it that I fall asleep 20 minutes into an ‘action packed thriller’ like this?


Webapp Etymology

December 9th, 2009

I like naming things. I’ve been involved in at least 8 separately named ‘bands’ (and tossed around stupid/clever band names for amusement ever since) * I invented the subdivision name generator.   In addition, I love web applications and E-business.  So it’s about time I published a treatise on the intersection between the two.  Here goes:

Website naming has been an evolutionary process.  From my eye, the development has gone through four major eras. For fun, let’s call them:

  • Literozoic
  • Absurdozoic
  • Cutesyassic
  • HipLiterassic

The Literozoic period:
The Literozaic period occurred early in the evolution of the web.  Domain naming was a mystery and some of the first properties were just beginning to crawl out of the sea.  In these early times, most believed that grabbing a domain name that was authoritative about your function was worth its weight in gold.  Great examples of the era include,, and strong-literal-brand sites like ESPN and AOL.

The Absurdozoic period:
Shortly after the Literozoic period, sites with seemingly meaningless names begin to appear.  A key element of this naming period is that the name of the company held very little or obtuse connection to the function of the business. **  Lycos, Excite, Yahoo! were popular search engines.  Amazon, Expedia and eBay led ecommerce.  A variation on the form is compound nonsense like AltaVista.  This touched off a branding war that spilled into business as a whole (see Accenture).

The Cutesyassic period:
With the rise of Web 2.0 everything got cute.  Along with those rounded corners, drop shadows and gradients, everyone had to have a memorable cuddly name.  Lets call this the google effect.  Once a nonsense cuddly name made it big the door blew open.  Some of your favorite startups are here., Digg, Meebo.  My favorite variation on the form is naming your site after a Dr. Seuss word (see Zillow).

The HipLiterassic Period
Finally, the current trend.  HipLiteralism.  It’s no longer cool to make no sense, so you gotta have some logic to your hip brand.  The rules for this form:
  1. Use a real memorable word/phrase (no more gibberish)
  2. The word must make just a little bit of sense about your brand
Twitter — I can see the connection.  Facebook —  sure.  Flickr — the proto-hipliteral brand.  In fact, I can’t think of a successful startup from the past couple of years without a semi-cute/semi-hip name.  Take a quick peek at the Techcrunch50 winners.  Yammer, RedBeacon, Mint — check, check, check.

So here we are.  Smack dab in the Hipliterassic period.  Are we stuck with this naming trend forever?  Probably not.  But if you launch today you gotta play along.  My startup described in the previous post to manage the social web?  Let’s call it Bouncer.

* Who hasn’t done this? I always think of a scene from one of those Eggers books when some characters are naming bands and they come up with ‘JFKFC’. HA!

** A cynic would tell you this is because those companies wanted to keep their options open, so they picked something generic.


Terrible Idea of the Day

November 28th, 2009

So I’m sitting here on the lazy Saturday after Thanksgiving thinking about how hard it is to keep up with everything on the social/real-time/exhibitionist web:

  • I haven’t checked Facebook in months
  • I just updated my Flickr account for the first time since June
  • I forgot my password to my own website! (that’s this site — for those who are a little hung over on the Beaujolais)
  • I tweet once in a while, but not as much as I’d like
  • My linkedin is constantly out of date
  • Google Reader is probably my channel of choice, and even then, I’m reading a lot of crap.
  • Twitter — I’m sure there is great content out there from good thinkers, but I’m stuck on a lot of Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson tweets
  • Foursquare and Latitude look important, but I haven’t spent enough time with either
  • Mint, Evernote, Rememberthemilk are a part of my personal productivity habits but currently don’t overlap with my social web habits

It just takes time and effort to manage this whole thing.  Maybe someday OpenID and the ’semantic web’ or some magic recommendations and syndication engine will make this easier.  But for now it’s just too much.  I don’t think I’m lazy, in fact, I’m pretty efficient and active on the social web.  I can’t imagine how someone who isn’t keen on this stuff would make sense of it all.  And it’s pretty important.  More and more, this is and important part of our social lives, business lives, and cultural awareness.

So there are 2 options:
  1. Make the time, find the energy to do it well.  Power through it.

I think you know where I’m going with this.  Whether it’s Mechanical Turk style or a personal outsourcing model, there has to be a way to leverage machine learning and human workflow (including my own touchpoints) to have a solution manage some of this for me.

On the write side, I personally wouldn’t want someone else updating status or microblogging on my behalf, but taking my half baked thoughts and tasks and reminding me to keep at it would be helpful.  The read/sort/recommend side of things would be much easier.  I can’t imagine making the economics work would be easy, especially if you have to hire a bunch of culturally aware hipsters to sort and filter stuff, but it’s interesting to think about.

Footnote:  I know there are a bunch of web ’services’ that touch this a bit.  IWantSandy (dead now), Digg, Delicious, Google Reader Recommendations, [there has to be some celebrity brand management firms that do some of this],, Various iphone apps and Twitter/Facebook syndication apps.


Football Season

September 21st, 2009

This is Kate’s first real football season.  We tend to do it right around the ikeepitreal estate, which means lots of friends, couches, and chili during the NFL games.  It also means lots of kids running around occasionally checking out the game (when they aren’t demolishing the carpet with playdoh).  It’s pretty fun to watch your kids get fascinated with new things, and our favorite discovery is that watching pigskin allows Kate to use 3 of the 10 words she knows repeatedly.  Here’s a typical response during a play:

Adults:  (Jeering).  Sheesh.  Another long run?  Come on Tatupu - make that tackle.

Kate: Boy.  Boy.  Boy.  Oh-oh.  Boy.  Boy.  Oh-oh.  Boy.  Baaaaall.

Precocious little kid.  That does about sum it up.