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The Short Game - film review (☆☆☆☆☆)

          The Short Game is a reality-documentary-competition film.  Five stars!  How's that possible and why do I think it?  Read on.

          It begins in the familiar way these things do:  catchy montage; authoritative deep male voice over; introduction of the child golfers, who will be filmed over a period of months as they prepare for, and then compete in, the world junior golf championship.

          The producers and director borrowed the template used in the golf show Big Break as well as Toddlers and Tiaras and many, many, other reality TV shows by spending a few minutes with each of the main competitors (three girls and five boys) on their home turf (two from Florida, one each from: Texas, California, France, South Africa, China, and the Philippines) introducing themselves and their families.  At this point we, the viewers, begin to make decisions about who we are going to like, dislike, and root for—based solely on snippets of conversation and/or actions captured by the film crew and, of course, by our preconceived biases.

          Very early in the film it becomes obvious that the cinematographer(s) and the music producer play a very important role in making this an extremely enjoyable film.  The transitions and the music montages are carefully done with attention to detail.  The editing is masterful.  

          I can't recall the last time I watched a film and recognized that the contributions of the "people behind the scenes" were not only important to the overall watching experience, but were THE REASON for liking the film.  You know when your heartstrings are being strummed; we all do.  In this film the documentary film makers, without a script, manipulate our emotions with music, editing, camera and microphone angles and omnipresence.  I laughed.  I cried.  I cheered.  I constantly muttered, "so mature for eight years old".  I became aware of my preconceived biases (which is something the director wanted me to do) and I came away wishing it were possible to peek into the lives of these child-people in a few years to see how hormones alter them (kind of an Up series with golf as the common denominator).       

          To really like this film, it will help if you already know something about and maybe even enjoy the game of golf...but it is not a requirement (any more than you had to know something about child beauty pageants to like Little Miss Sunshine.)  This film is available on download and DVD; I think you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

Modern Design Incorporated - when in need of irony and jewelry

          And now for something completely different.

          To be honest, I previously reviewed a few products and websites (some still can be found on the links page) but this one is none-the-less completely different.

          Before I go into the heavy rough weeds of the story (and to show that I don't always 'bury the lead') please let me impress upon you, dear reader, that Modern Design is a real jewelry company.  Interested in purchasing jewelry from the internet?  They offer an amazingly fantastic selection, successfully ship items in several nested packages designed to camouflage their contents, and are very interested in your on-line business.

          Over a month ago I received their initial query letter which explained they were a Los Angeles-based company specializing in wedding and engagement rings striving to obtain a larger internet presence.  They offered a tungsten ring in exchange for my review.

          I was highly skeptical.  So I did a small amount of research into their company and eventually found and thoroughly examined their website.  After confirming they were legitimate, I agreed.  They replied:  pick any ring, select a size, and give us an address to mail it...which I did.  A week later an extremely well packaged ring arrived.

          I discovered two issues with their website; one would be easy to fix, the other slightly harder:
  • It is difficult to page-back to a specific ring from a previous page because the order in which their extensive product line is displayed can change.  In other words, the ring you saw four minutes earlier on the top of page 4 under the category "men's titanium" is now in the middle of page 6 when you clicked on the "custom fit" link.  One remedy for this might be if they included "click to compare" buttons (found on many electronics sites).
  • Most rings are not identified on the website by a product number but instead by lengthy titles filled with descriptors.  This would be simple to fix if they just add a number somewhere.
          When I selected a ring it was (and still is) identified as Ring Tungsten.  (The hotlink wasn't something I included in my e-mail...an oversight...but I don't think it's possible for me—acting as "the reviewer" in this transaction—to be at fault.)  The ring I received was actually Brushed Tungsten Carbide ring with Polished Grooved Center.  I requested beveled edges and received squared-off ones; preferred polished with brushed; got brushed with polished.  Obviously, if you were to use their shopping cart system this mistake would be less likely to occur.

          This was only the big-final problem I experienced, the first issue was in their initial query letter and promotional flyer:

          While you mumble about the incongruous black splashed border, irritating multi-font usage, and attempt to pull your focus away from that terribly cropped snapshot of a collection of smog-stained sandstone-colored concrete buildings under a green sky, I may need to remind you at this point that I did, really really, receive a quality ring.  And while this miserably designed flyer contains several superfluous elements it does not contain a physical address, web address, or any links to their website.  Important, because their initial query letter also contained no links to a website and ended thusly:
... Please let me know as soon as possible since we're contacting some other bloggers as well and we only have a limited number to give away this month.

Marie L
          Moderndesign.com is a web company with a slick and unique take on how to market yourself if your name includes the words modern and design.

          I suspect neither this last paragraph nor my title for this post are strong or loud enough in the hint department.  Here's me being overt:  HEY MODERNDESIGNINC.COM, HIRE MODERNDESIGN.COM TO RE-TOOL EVERY INCH OF YOUR WEB FACADE.  YOUR CURRENT ONE SCREAMS "SCAM".

          I eventually located the jewelry company who wants to obtain a larger presence on the web and who mistakenly employed a child-family-member who understands as much about design as she does about domain names.  (Marie:  that pesky little "inc" is so very very necessary.)

          Because both their promotional advertisement and their query letter included the sentence:  We can't wait to hear about your experience with Modern Design!  I offer this tangent:

          Several years ago I'd, on-occasion or occasionally depending on my mood, amble over to the blog review site Ask And Ye Shall Receive so that I could read a new giggle or two from internet foolz and their playmatez.  I haven't done so in years (before they stopped in 2011) but I recall they were very upfront with who they were.  When your domain name is iwillfuckingtearyouapart, one doesn't need to delve very deep to understand what it is you shall receive when you ask.

          I think it may also be important to know the writing of David Thorne is of personal value to me.  I love the name of his web page: Go Away and admire every aspect of his trademarked logo (which I include just to the right completely without his knowledge or permission).  It is an amazingly perfect example of modern design; embodying the exact right balance of space, tension, color, and multiple-font usage, while informing, communicating, and intriguing with equal amounts of mirth and sincerity.  You will not forget a logo of this quality.    

          If you have read this far...let me conclude by saying wow....thanks for sticking with this review and for the ring.  I suspect, however, if you'd read a few of my posts you may not have been so quick with your offer.

          Still not sated?  Try this one where a disc golf company requested a review of their website, or this funny one where an online casino asked for advertising with a horrendous query letter.  I have written dozens of film reviews.  And here are a ton of book and blog reviews. 

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