First Zima, Now Sparks?!

December 18, 2008

How are we supposed to get all hyphy before we ghost ride now!?!?!?!

Sparks Spokesmodel by Ryanwiz Sparks by Al Bar 

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/sns-ap-energy-drinks,0,4219784.story

MillerCoors to remove caffeine from Sparks energy drink in deal with states
By EMILY FREDRIX | AP Food Industry Writer

MILWAUKEE (AP) — MillerCoors LLC announced Thursday it will remove caffeine and three other ingredients from its Sparks alcoholic energy drink in a deal with 13 states and the city of San Francisco, who had contended the drink targeted young drinkers.

A coalition of state attorneys general had complained the stimulants reduced drinkers’ sense of intoxication and were marketed to young drinkers, who were already more likely to have risky behaviors in driving and other activities.

*cough* BULLSHIT *cough*.  What the hell.  I’ll have to go back to slamming a pot of coffee, and then slamming a pint of Guiness.  Actually, that doesn’t sound that bad.

Attorneys general and advocacy groups have long been targeting MillerCoors, a joint venture of SABMiller’s U.S. unit and Molson Coors Brewing Co., and market-leader Anheuser-Busch due to the making and marketing of such drinks.

As part of the agreement, MillerCoors agreed to remove caffeine, taurine, guarana and ginseng from Sparks, the leader in the alcoholic energy drink category, and not produce caffeinated alcohol beverages in the future. The company also will pay $550,000 to cover the cost of the investigation into Sparks. The agreement does not mean the company was found to have engaged in unlawful behavior.

I’m glad they’re getting rid of the guano though.

“They are fundamentally dangerous and put drinkers of all ages at risk,” New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said in a statement of the drinks. “Today’s agreement will ensure that from here on out, these drinks are kept off New York shelves and away from New York consumers.”

The MillerCoors settlement also includes the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, New Mexico, Ohio and Oklahoma and the city attorney of San Francisco.

“We are always willing to listen to societal partners and consider changes to our business to reinforce our commitment to alcohol responsibility,” Long said.

Time to head back to Wisconsin next time I want to make Hyper Vipers.

The money will be split between the states and San Francisco, MillerCoors spokesman Julian Green said.

MillerCoors noted that labeling and all formulas for Sparks had been approved by the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. It said it marketed the drinks only to legal drinking-age consumers.

MillerCoors President and Chief Commercial Officer Tom Long said in a statement the changes mean the company can keep marketing and selling the brand to legal drinkers.

Thanks for the photo Sikanna! — http://www.flickr.com/photos/sikanna/

St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch said in June it would reformulate its Tilt and Bud Extra drinks to remove the stimulants as part of a settlement with 11 attorneys general.

Groups say these drinks target young drinkers, even those underage, because those consumers are already drawn to highly caffeinated drinks like Red Bull.

As part of the agreement, MillerCoors will sell through its remaining Sparks products and stop making them by Jan. 10.

Green said the company will then start brewing the new formula after that.

Random drunk guy by charleym143

Marketing of the brand will also change, the agreement said. The company must also eliminate all references in advertising to caffeinated formulations and not promote Sparks as a mixer for caffeinated drinks. It will remove the plus and minus symbols — which evoke a battery — found on the blue and orange cans for the product. The company also agrees not to use batteries, rockets, lightning bolts, or the terms “powered by” or “ignite” in marketing the new formulation.

sparks! by minicloud

The company also took down the Web site for the brand, as part of the agreement, which said MillerCoors may launch new Web content for Sparks to promote only the reformulated version.

Green said the company will continue to expand the brand. SABMiller bought Sparks and Steel Reserve, a slow-brewed lager, from McKenzie River Corp. for $215 million cash in 2006.

Sparks holds about 60 percent of the alcoholic energy drink category, he said. But in MillerCoors’ portfolio it makes up less than 1 percent of the brewer’s total volume. The brand is growing, though. Data from AC Nielsen in a recent 12-week period showed the brand’s sales in convenience stores were up 15.9 percent from the same period last year, Green said.

drunk by ksosmall 

He noted that advertising for the brand was minimal, compared with the company’s other brands like Miller Lite, and said there had never been any television ads for Sparks.

“We remain committed to the Sparks franchise, including the possibility of line extensions,” Green said.

Steve Gardner, litigation director for public advocacy group the Center for Science in the Public Interest — which has a suit against MillerCoors over Sparks — applauded the agreement. In September the group filed a suit against MillerCoors to stop the brewer from selling Sparks, saying it’s going after teenagers with the drink.

Noah rocks Sparks Lite in the ZML by justin 

“It’s a devil’s brew of a product because it combines caffeine with alcohol,” Gardner said.

He said much of what the group wanted from MillerCoors — to remove caffeine, guarana, ginseng and taurine from the product — was accomplished in the agreement. He said he was not yet sure what the agreement means for the case, which was pending in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

Randall + Sparks = by Phil Sharp.

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The Drew Peterson Date Material Test

December 17, 2008

Please take the test below to see if you could be compatible with Drew Peterson.  If your answer to the question is “yes”, “maybe”, or “depends”, please move down to the next question.  If your answer is “no”, you are not a good fit for Drew Peterson:

  • Would you date?
  • Would you date a man?
  • Would you date a man who is a police officer?
  • Would you date a man who lives in the Chicago suburbs?
  • Would you date a man who is a police officer in the suburbs?

Congrats.  You have passed Stage One of the Drew Peterson Funnel (DPF).  You are now considered: An Eligible Bachelorette

  • Would you date a man who is over twice your age?
  • Would you date a man who exclusively dates people 30+ years younger?
  • Would you date a man who sits around in bars?
  • Would you date a man who has been divorced?
  • Would you date a man who is overweight?

Yep..  You have passed Stage Two of the DPF.  You are now considered: Open-Minded

  • Would you date a narcissist?
  • Would you date a man who has kids from a previous marriage?
  • Would you date a man who drinks excessively?
  • Would you date a man who has left two wives?
  • Would you date a man who has left three wives?
  • Would you date a man who has left four wives?

Nice.  You have passed Stage Three of the DPF.  You are now considered: Slightly Confused

  • Would you date a man that, in some circles, is considered infamous?
  • Would you date a man who has been fired from his police force for misconduct?
  • Would you date a man who has been accused of police brutality?
  • Would you date a man who, in some circles, would be considered a sociopath?
  • Would you date a man who has a history of domestic battery?

Hmmm.  You have passed Stage Four of the DPF.  You are now considered: A Bad-Boy Aficionado

  • Would you date a man who exploits personal tragedy for moderate fame?
  • Would you date a man who hits the talk show circuit immediately after his wife has disappeared?
  • Would you date a man who begins dating a few months after his wife has disappeared?
  • Would you date a man who taunts bereaved families by using the death of their daughter/friend as a bizarre ploy to date younger women via a radio show promotion?
  • Are you an O.J. sympathiser?

 Hmmm.  You have passed Stage Five of the DPF.  You are now considered: Amber Alert Worthy 

  • Would you date a man who is, in some circles, suspected of murdering his wife?
  • Would you date a man who is, in some circles, suspected of murdering his wife by drowning her in a bathtub and using his position in the police force as a means to cover it up?
  • Would you date a man who is, in some circles, suspected of murdering two of his wives?
  • Would you date a man who is, in some circles, suspected of murdering his second wife, stuffing her in a barrel, manipulating his stepbrother in assisting of it’s disposal,  whose grief then drives the step brother to attempt suicide days after the wife’s disappearance?

Huzzah!  You have passed Stage Six of the DPF.  You are now considered: Drew Peterson Date Material!

Unfortunately, Mr. Peterson has recently announced his engagement to an anonymous 23-year old girl who, God willing, will soon become Drew’s 6th wife.  Sorry Gals.  We wish them luck, but, don’t give your hopes up… Drew will probably be available again in the forseeable future… roughly 2010 or so.


Stately Designs

December 8, 2008

Fun States

Gotta a tattoo of a State?  My boy Tim’s just created a Flickr pool that’s trying to compile tattoos from every state in the union — cleverly called “The Statoos Pool

BTW, Tim’s already got Wisconsin covered…

the Stattoos group icon

 

Oh, and if you just have a tatoo of a rectangle, I’m sure Time could find some Great Plains/Mountain Time state that it will accomodate.


Did You Get That Memo: Office Culture is Pop Culture

October 9, 2008

(Originally posted last February on the UR Chicago site but no longer accessible.  I had to save my baby).

Can you believe it’s been nearly a decade since Office Space? That’s roughly 36 financial quarters of bad Lumberg impressions and Swingline stapler jokes. The unforeseen longevity of a movie like Office Space -– a cynical look at corporate drones — stuck with the American audience long after its theatre run. Though the defining modern corporate farce is getting old, it seems like “life at the office” has become an increasingly prevalent touchstone. A new breed of unflinching, cynical, critical, tragi-comic and sometimes downright depressing office themed productions have hit a cultural nerve.

There have always been the silly corporate comedies and hyper-real farces a-la Office Space, Dilbert, and (can I throw in) Fred Savage’s short-lived Working, but it seems the new crop of pop-culture corporate landscapes have a biting, sad, desperate underpinning. What’s the deal?

The obvious jumping-off point is NBC’s excellent adaptation of The Office — a satire that turns a documentary-style camera on the lives of paper salespeople in first-world Nowheresville. It’s a show that’s both funny and melancholy — simultaneously hilarious and hitting a little too close to home. You’ve also got the inanity of Carpoolers, a silly single-cam show that’s the brainchild of Kids In the Hall graduate Bruce McCulloch. If you flash back 50 years and add some slick suits, the politics, binge drinking and philandering could easily be that of the sloganeering Madison Ave execs of AMC’s period drama Mad Men.

Elsewhere in the business world, author Matthew Beaumont documents the hilarity of London’s fictional Miller-Shanks office in a story told strictly through exchanged e-mail in e. If the U.K. doesn’t hit close enough to home, local cube dweller Joshua Ferris is getting stellar reviews for Then We Came to the End, a wry comedic novel chronicling the dismantling of a Chicago ad agency.

Of course, I can’t get too far into an office-themed blog without mentioning OFFICE, the group of former Chicago worker bees who produced a killer EP, quit their day jobs, and now professionally churn out bouncy pop tracks with some seriously sardonic underpinnings. Elsewhere in the music world there’s been a huge response to the National’s CD, Boxer. The album, with equal parts charm and anxiety, chronicles the Willy Loman-esque slide of a modern corporate worker into a nostalgic shut-in.

So if popular music, books and television are meant as means of escapism, what’s to say for an audience that’s developed an interest in fictionalized versions of working stiffs? Is the emergence of corporate-themed amusements just a mere coincidence, a blip on the radar, or a hint of more to come? Whatever the explanation, the subject matter has resonance and the writing is good, so I will continue to ignore the inherent irony of hanging around the office every week to talk about The Office.


I Know it’s Crazy but it’s True

October 7, 2008


Baby-Kissing Protocol

September 2, 2008
It’s been a while, but Dr. Fiebs has gotten back, and he’s a full-blown volunteer — i.e. “locked in” for 2-years of do-gooding, baby-kissing (apparently) and sporadic email contact.  Good news is he’s going to be sending photo’s so I’ll no longer have to image search the word Mauritania for visual stimulation.
well the time has finally came! i am a full blown volunteer in the united states peace corpsand am officially a government emloyee!!! watch out! we were sworn in this past thursday in the heat and this week has been pretty fun due to seeing all the other trainees again and the anticipation of going to site is too much. swear in party was great and i will soon have photos to upload. i am in kiffa; my home for the next two years and have moved into the regional house!!! it is great! i will also post pictures when i figure out all the logistics. my first few days in kiffa are bound to be busy with protocol; which basically means shaking handsand kissing babies; but after i am sure to settle down and have plenty of free time especially since ramadan starts next week.
 
but all is well here! miss everyone back in the states. now that i am at site i hope to be more on top of my game with emails and the like so hopefully i can write more in depth ones or at the least give you an idea of what my life is like through photos…
 
adam
As far as the coup situation goes, I can safely assume that no news is good news.

Mauritania Update

August 18, 2008

I’ve noticed there’s a few people checking Arms, Distancefor updates on the Mauritania Peace Corp  situation, and although there’s no personal news from Adam to report, everything is going as well as could be expected in Mauritania during the on-going coup there.  Although the democratically-elected President is still imprisoned, other major figureheads, like the Prime Minister, have been released and as Obie points out, day-to-day life has not altered that much.

The international community has widely criticized the coup, and in less-great news, “the leader of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb” has publicly announced his wish that Mauritania be transformed into a “Caliphate Style” Islamic state.  For those (like me) who do not know exactly what that means, here’s one of MANY definitions

caliphate(kăl’ĭfāt’, -fĭt) , the rulership of Islam; caliph (kăl’ĭf’), the spiritual head and temporal ruler of the Islamic state. In principle, Islam is theocratic: when Muhammad died, a caliph [Arab.,=successor] was chosen to rule in his place. The caliph had temporal and spiritual authority but was not permitted prophetic power; this was reserved for Muhammad. The caliph could not, therefore, exercise authority in matters of religious doctrine.

So, things are going along in Mauritania, with no Peace Corp-specific news.  Though, I can gather by Obie’s comments late in the letter, that they are still going ahead with the swearing in of the Trainee’s to full Volunteers — Adam being one of them.

Good luck to everyone, our thoughts are with you.

Hello Volunteers and Trainees:
 
I hope this eMail finds you doing well.  There has not been a great deal of change in the political situation here in Nouakchott over the past few days with the exception of the release from custody of the Prime Minister and a number of other government officials who had been held by the military junta.  The democratically elected President of Mauritania remains in custody.  The coup continues to be strongly condemned by the international community.  The U.S., E.U., African Union, and other countries have all joined the chorus (including Algeria this afternoon).  Most nations have cut all non-humanitarian aid to the country pending the reinstatement of the legitimate government.  The Arab League has not yet taken a collective position on the coup.  The online mainstream press has been relatively good at following the situation in Mauritania.  I would recommend Google News as a good over all resource for news.
 
Press reports quoted the leader of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) as having called for the establishment of a caliphate style state in Mauritania.  I want to assure you all that PC staff members in both Nouakchott and Washington are following the situation closely and your safety and security is our primary focus.  I am in daily contact with the U.S. embassy.  If you have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to contact me (648-1783).  I would be pleased to answer any questions you have.    
 
I would also stress that the mood in Nouakchott remains calm and businesses are operating normally both in Nouakchott and in the regions as well.
 
To the trainees, we are moving forward with your swear-in as scheduled.  At this stage, we are expecting to keep the ceremony low key (no press and no government authorities).  Ambassador and Mrs. Boulware will be joining us for the celebration.
 
I would like to remind you all of the importance of keeping your family and friends informed of your well-being.  Please keep in contact with them! 
 
Thank you all again for your professionalism and positive attitudes.  It has helped a great deal in our ability to manage this situation.  It is my sincere honor to be serving with you.
 
Best Regards — Obie

Back on the home front, Adam was not able to attend out annual Man’s Weekend (for obvious reasons), so we poured a little out to give him mad-props.  That’s how we do.