#TBT June 2007: Campfire Networking and The Simpsons

Networking Around the Campfire


GoNomad editor Max Hartshorne held a cookout at his home last night for a few friends and colleagues, among them a handful of travel writers and photographers.

Around a portable fire pit with grilled chicken and glasses of wine in hand, we traded stories about trips and hopes for the future. We talked about GoNomad’s success, and how we looked forward to being a part of it as it grows.

It’s further proof that networking doesn’t always have to happen after five o’clock on a Thursday … especially within a group that clicks as easily into conversation as Creatives, connections can be made anywhere, at any time – even by the light of the fire.

Mmmm, Contest.

simpsons rally

When I stopped into Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee on Sunday, the man behind the counter handed me my medium cream-only along with a complimentary bag of Boston Creams.

I think it was some sort of strange omen.

I was on my way to downtown Springfield, Mass. to cover the rally and video-shoot for the city’s entry into The Simpson’s Movie Hometown Premiere contest, which pits the Springfield’s of America against one another, vying for the chance to host the film’s premiere on July 27.

The contest is being sponsored by Twentieth Century Fox and USA Today, and the rules stipulate that the best video will win the title.

Many people, however, believe that the ‘true Springfield’ – the one that has been home to the Simpsons and their rag-tag army of friends and neighbors since 1987 – will win out in the end.

Speculation regarding the Springfield in which Marge, Homer, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie live has raged since the show became its own entity, after getting its start as a short on The Tracey Ullman Show. Some believe it’s Springfield Ore., because of its proximity to Simpsons creator Matt Groening’s hometown of Portland.

Others, though, think it’s Springfield, Mass. – a producer or two hails from the area, and no one can deny the eerie similarities between Mayor Quimby and the Commonwealth’s long-seated Senator, Ted ‘How Many More, Mistah Speakah’ Kennedy.

Regardless of the answer, this past weekend the freaks and geeks were out en masse in Springfield –um- Mass.

With coffee and doughnuts in hand (mmm, doughnuts … ergghhhh) I trotted over to Court Square where two Peter Pan busses were parked. In front was a crowd of people – a girl with Sideshow Bob-esque hair, a few biker dudes, a juggler, and the owner of one of the city’s most famous eateries, The Fort – among them. They were filming the final scene of the video that would be sent to Fox, reveling in their own nerdy glory. A man with a giant pink doughnut stole my heart, and my salivary glands.

Keep in mind, I say ‘nerdy’ with nothing but affection. Many an afternoon have I spent in front of the T.V., watching for clues of ‘which Springfield’ in a syndicated Simpsons episode. I relate to Lisa and Marge, and I feel for Millhouse. Nelson and I could easily be related, if not for the fact that I am three-dimensional.

D’Oh! I’m getting off topic.

Anyway, according to film blog The Movie Paradise, there are 32 such burgs in the U.S.A., but only 14 will compete to host the movie – those in Massachusetts, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Florida, Michigan, Kentucky, Nebraska, Colorado, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Vermont. Sixteen cities and towns were asked to participate, two bowed out.

Each Springfield had about 30 days to submit a short film, 3-5 minutes long, showcasing the community’s ‘Simpson Spirit.’ USA Today is inviting its readers to vote for their favorite online. Twentieth Century Fox provided each community with key film-making tools, including a digital video camera, a replica of the Simpson’s couch, promotional posters, digital files of the film’s logo and character art, and Simpsons–yellow paint.
The contest will end on July 9, and the winning city will be announced on or about July 10.

If Springfield, Mass. wins, Fox will roll out the yellow carpet for the first screening of The Simpsons Movie in the heart of the city and add to its already colorful legacy of hosting brightly-colored, slightly misanthropic cartoons (the city was home to Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss , and now houses the national Dr. Seuss Memorial).

See more photos from the Hometown Premier Rally here.


Morriss Partee‘ left this comment on 19 Jun 07
Hey Jax, very cool description. The photos you have here and on Flickr of the event look fun! I am so bumming that I forgot the event was the Saturday. Would have been fun to take my little guy there. Glad you wrote it up and photo’d it! I think that Oregon has the original Springfield. Illinois has the biggest. We ought to have the weirdest, but we’ve got to get way weirder before we can claim that title. The Simpson’s Springfield is probably a combo of all the Springfields in the nation, but the contest is fun!

They’re Nice, But Seemed a Little Plastic


Published: Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Yellow Fever

My article on The Simpsons Movie Hometown Premiere Contest just dropped. Read it here.


Published: Wednesday, 27 June 2007 Tags: simpsons springfield movie contest

‘All the Cool Girls Do it’

David Meerman Scott, online thought leadership strategist, viral marketing expert, and author of “The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to use news releases, blogs, podcasts, viral marketing & online media to reach your buyers directly” says that adding features (such as photos, links, and custom graphical mastheads) make a blog much more successful.

Ok, I’ll bite. But is this a new set of ideas? I mean, even I, the overworked and underpaid WriterJax, have made a feeble attempt at slightly better mastheads. And photos and links? Um, isn’t that a well-documented reality in the blogsphere?

Meerman Scott (I’m always curious about men with two last names) has some valid points in the press release I received today, and I did like his comparison of blogs to the binders of high school girls:

“My daughter entered eighth grade this September and for the week before classes began she enjoyed pimping out her school binder,” Scott says. “All the cool girls do it. A standard plastic three-ring binder is transformed with photos, stickers, song lyrics, and other bits and bobs on the outside. She’s even got a spot for a quote of the day which she updates each morning. Inside, the binder has page dividers she’s customized, and pocket folders with pens and protractors and whatnot. I got to thinking that the same is true of good blogs. A pimped out blog shows the blogger’s personality.”

Scott says that blog software tends to make everyone’s blog look the same, and I do agree with that, too – Blog-City has some pretty unique skins and allows users to create their own, but other blog hosts, I’ve noticed, tend to lean toward the same white-background-sans-serif-font style.

“I’ve pimped out my marketing blog with lots of cool stuff,” Scott says. “On the top is a masthead that I had a designer friend create. On the right and left columns, I have links from the cover images of my books to Amazon. Because it is part of my Amazon Associates program account, I’m even paid a small commission. It’s not much money, but every few months I can take my family out for a decent dinner on the proceeds.”

The Amazon Associates program doesn’t get as much play as Google AdSense, so I’m happy to see that mentioned …still, I don’t see his insights as much of anything new to seasoned bloggers, who already use photos, widgets, links, and quotes of the day ( or song lyrics of the day, hello). Perhaps his new book is best marketed toward newbies, and in that regard, I can see his analogies to high school fads as very helpful.

“Pimping out your blog is easy,” he assures us. “If you devote a few hours to it, you can make a very cool looking blog that even my teenage daughter would approve of. And you will drive more readers.”

But riddle me this, Man With Two Last Names. Once I’ve added links, photos, questionable mastheads (give me a break, I don’t do this for a living yet) and optimized my Widgets, what’s next? I’m now clearing a staggering .30 cents a day via Google Adsense (thanks to my loyal readers), and I’m waiting anxiously for an expert to tell me what innovative trick will move that decimal point one spot to the right. Hey, I’m realistic. Making $300 instead of .30 would require a LOT of stickers.

Published: Wednesday, 27 June 2007 Tags: david meerman scott new rules of marketing and pr blogs blogcity blogger pimp out mastheads writer writing


writerjax‘ left this comment on 28 Jun 07
What a great response! Thanks for the explanation on your middle name – makes perfect sense, of course. I will keep an eye out for future DMS news. JCS

A visitor‘ left this comment on 28 Jun 07
The man with two last names is actually the man with a middle name. I use my middle name in business because there are many David Scotts out there (and other authors named David Scott). So when people are looking for me online at Amazon or in a search engine, they find me. More here in a post “What’s the deal with Meerman?” http://www.webinknow.com/2006/02/whats_the_deal_.html

Thanks for commenting on my stuff. I appreciate it. I see you have a pimped out masthead too! (Or at least some photos at the top). And I detect ties to the Vineyard from the book. I have a place on Nantucket.

Cheers, the man who uses his middle name in business.

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