Baked & Wired.

DC has more cupcake specialty shops than I’ve ever seen anywhere. It’s kind of ridiculous. The coworker who sits next to me decided to look up how many cupcake purveyors there were within a 2 mile radius of our office. Turns out there are 12. And only 4 of those are bakeries that do more than just cupcakes… the rest are considered to do nothing BUT cupcakes.

I can’t help but wonder if the fad is about to jump the shark with openings of cupcake megachains Crumbs and Sprinkles.

When I first started at AKQA, everyone raved about Baked & Wired. They put down Georgetown Cupcake as though it was baked with sawdust and broken glass.

Admittedly, I fell in love with Baked and Wired almost immediately. The strawberry cupcake is one of their bestsellers for a reason. A big, golden cupcake laden with chunks of berry, topped with a fat mound of pink buttercream. Pure heaven.

Then, I tried a couple others. And then I hit a couple strawberry cupcakes that weren’t that fruity. Or the gold cake in it was somewhat dry or flavorless on a bad day.

I plugged up my ears and ventured off to the tourist hell that has become Georgetown Cupcake. The first time I went, I didn’t have to stand in the notorious long line of giggly tourist girls who are so excited to finally eat a treat featured on their favorite cable TV show (DC Cupcakes).

I went in and ordered a Peanut Butter and Chocolate cupcake, and a caramel apple cupcake. Both were glorious.

I’d found the first time I’d had a chocolate cupcake from baked and wired, I could barely taste the chocolate. It was clear from the first bite of both Georgetown cupcakes that the quality of the ingredients were consistently high. No shortage of intense chocolate flavor popping in my mouth. The caramel core in the Caramel Apple cupcake oozed out and coated all the teeth in my lower jaw.

Gooey heaven.

I recently called off my cupcake obsessions and abstained from the cupcake madness for a few weeks. Then, I went back to Georgetown Cupcake again with the coworker who’d done the original cupcake location research.

Today, I got a Vanilla Birthday cupcake and a Chocolate Lava. I started with the Vanilla. I knew from that first bite, from the first moment I eyed a few specks of Madagascar vanilla bean, that this was a superior cupcake. And I never thought their buttercream would beat out Baked and Wired’s… but it did. This is what a cupcake should taste like.

So, now, I have cupcake guilt. While I adore the staff and so very much about the cupcakes at Baked and Wired, I’m on the verge of changing my allegiance. For $3.75/cupcake, Baked and Wired needs to wow me with the intensity of their chocolate and how many berries they’re able to pack into a single strawberry cupcake. Right now… I feel like they’ve lost sight of their craft.

Georgetown Cupcake.

Meanwhile, there are 10 other places to try in that 2 mile radius. We’re tempted to put them all to the test. As soon as we get some stretchy pants and extra cash.


Back when I was in ad school, I had a hard time getting sooooo much work done. Truly, it’s hard enough to complete a crapload of work and also do it well.

To beat drowsiness, I drank a lot of Diet Coke and espresso. It was especially easy to down 8 Diet Cokes in a sitting back in Atlanta — free refills everywhere you go! NYC restaurants aren’t usually quite so generous.

By the time I’d had about 3-4 Diet Cokes, I’d start to get buzzy and spinny. I’d be louder. I’d get hyper. And my ideas got crazier… and by crazier, I do mean better.

Soon, I figured out that I truly wrote better on a lot of caffeine. And then, I couldn’t write well at all unless I was completely high on diet cola.

I’ve been on and off with caffeine addiction. On those days where I pound a couple liters of diet soda, I definitely work better. But I also become extremely irritable. I bounce around like a freakin cokehead for 4 hours and then crash hard for 12. It’s very tiring being a caffeine addict.

When I look back at my portfolio, I can often remember when/where I thought of my best headlines or ideas. And 99% of the time, I was off-the-wall high on caffeine. “Oh! That one was at Starbucks!” “Oh yeah — that was at Panera after my 12th Diet Pepsi.”

Do I owe my career to caffeine? Would I be a secretary or a cell phone salesman if not for that precious molecule? Or would I, in my addictive nature, have reached out for a harder substance? And become a full-on addict of Naughty Snorty?

And how many ad creatives could attribute many of their successes to caffeine consumption? I doubt I’m alone. I tend to think this entire industry owes a LOT to this nasty little chemical.

Anyway, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank caffeine for all its given me. Thank you for all the laughs, for getting me jobs, the late nights and early mornings. Caffeine, I salute you.

Copywronger Moves South.

August 20, 2008

So, a couple weeks ago, I got two job offers within 10 minutes of each other (how often does that happen??)… one agency in Dallas, one in Dubai. Very tough decision. Ultimately, I’m off to Dallas to go rock out on some great clients with a great AD. If my posts are spotty over the next few weeks, I apologize… moving over 1500 miles is a BITCH! Wish me luck!

A little birdie told me yesterday that NBC is being super-cheap with this summer’s Olympics. Instead of sending all of their sportscasters and producers to Beijing, they are producing all of the commentary from Saturday Night Live’s sound stage right at Rockefeller Center. Basically, the announcers will watch the events off a live feed (or recorded feed… not sure, considering Beijing is half-a-day ahead of us), and do their commentary from a little dark room in New York. Kinda depressing.

And yet, Lester Holt and his practically-unknown sidekick Amy Robach will be joining the other “faces of NBC” in China (the Today Show gang, etc). But not the sports guys. God forbid the sports guys should attend the Olympics.

It appears that the impending doom looming over the economy is affecting us dopey CWs and ADs everywhere. While agencies still have a desperate need for talent, money is tight. And though interviews are still happening (one CW has flown 5 times for interviews, and had several in-town… resulting in nothing), the answer is the same almost every time: the job is on hold.

I.E. “We thought we had the money to hire you, but actually… turns out we don’t. At least not right now.”

Basically, no matter how you feel about your job right now (and the general consensus is usually one of misery and ants-in-the-pants), make peace with STAYING PUT.

Unless something else great comes along, chances are you will have a hard time upgrading your job in this economy. Back in 2001-02, senior and mid-level creatives took pay cuts just so they could get work. Any work.

So what does that mean for mid-level and junior creatives? Well… sure, you come with a cheaper pricetag, but there’s a learning curve when hiring a fresh-faced junior. If an agency can pony up an extra few grand for a good deal on an experienced creative… they’ll do it. It’s just better for business.

Basically, your competition for open jobs aren’t just other people at your level. You’re also competing with people who are better/more experienced than you… who are desperate for a move or any job at all.

If you must leave your current job, avoid downgrading if you can. A good gig is always worth way more in the long run.

So, as most creative teams tend to do, Marshall and I had a pointless debate yesterday that will no doubt NOT change the world. But it was fun.

This debate started when I referred to his “sneakers.” Notice exhibit A:

These are the “sneakers” he was wearing at the time. He immediately corrected me… telling me that they were in fact NOT sneakers, but “shoes.”

Baffled, I asked him how he could even come to that conclusion.

According to him, since he doesn’t RUN in this particular pair of footwear, they aren’t sneakers. They are “shoes.” The following image, exhibit B, would be a good example of what Marshall views as “sneakers:”

Okay. BUT, despite WHAT a set of footwear is used for, doesn’t it belong to one basic category? Those afforementioned Pumas were definitely sneakers. Just because they’re his everyday footwear doesn’t make them any less of a sneaker.

No, it’s not a PERFORMANCE sneaker, but it’s a goddamn sneaker. Call it a shoe, sneaker, trainer, bootie, whatever… I don’t care. Both images on this page are of SNEAKERS. Dammit.

Any thoughts?

Happy Anniversary.

October 1, 2006

So, I’m home now. I showered. Put on my super-comfy PJs and plopped myself on the couch. Silence. Amazing. When you travel so much, for so long, it’s difficult to “burrow” and have silent alonetime. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.

Anyway, it is INDEED Sarah’s/my 1-year-anniversary of working at BBDO. One year ago today, I never would have imagined that I’d be spending that same day on a plane home from a shoot in Prague. Insane.

The flight home went smoothly. I popped a couple of Ambien on the Frankfurt-NYC leg of the trip and passed out for almost the entire flight. It was awesome. Woke up on another continent.

I can’t wait to do laundry, pluck my eyebrows, eat familiar meals… just random stuff like that. And I also can’t wait to give everyone their little gifts…hehehe…

Alright. That’s enough of that. I’m gonna go enjoy being home.

Prague, The Last Days

September 29, 2006

Okay. So, now i’m in a pub having lunch and a hard cider. Free internet. The “chicken steak in beer batter” is basically a chicken breast inside a pancake. it’s really weird. I wish i had my camera to take a picture for you guys… but that got stolen with my passport.

Here’s THAT story…

Basically, we rushed off the train when we got to Prague last night. The tour that Sarah picked out for us was led by a guy who couldn’t wait to get rid of us so he could go to Hungary on holiday. He dumped us at the Brno train station with tickets back to Prague, but didn’t tell us we’d need to transfer to get back.

We ended up at the German border. What should have been only 2 hrs on the train, turned into 8.
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Prague, Day 5

September 23, 2006

Okay. I know I missed Day 4, but it wasn’t very exciting. Nothing really much to report. We went to the set in the morning and talked about special effects. Then I went back to check into my other hotel… and immediately got lost walking around Nove Mesto.

Today, we’re on the set… our call time was around 12:30… and upon our arrival, we found that our shoot time was scheduled for 8:30pm. Which really means after 9 or something.

So… I might head back to the city and do something there for a bit. We’ll see.

Day 3, Prague

September 21, 2006

Still sick. But really trying to power through it.

This morning, Sarah and I got tickets to the synagogues…we went to the Maisel and the Spanish. The Old-New (the oldest in Europe) was a seperate fee… I’ll probably do it tomorrow or this weekend.

After seeing the Spanish Synagogue, I decided to go back to the hotel for cash, tissues, and batteries. HOW I forgot these things is beyond me… my camera was dying, I had about 5 bucks on me, and my nose was starting to run. Smart, Dara. Real smart.

So I go back and wait for Sarah… she took longer than expected, so I decided to just shut my eyes for a few minutes. A few minutes turned into a few hours.

When I woke up, I felt like my cold was gone. In reality, it wasn’t… but I did feel better.

Sarah and I took a van to the studio where the Dodge spots are being shot…We got a flat on the way, so the studio sent another van to come get us.

Upon arrival, we were really taken aback by the sets. HUGE and really incredible. I’m sure this spot would have cost Dodge $3+ million if it were shot in Los Angeles. God bless Prague.

We waited around for a really long time for them to do one stunt. Once it was done… we headed back.

Now I’m back in the room… just had some take-out from an Italian restaurant…

We were gonna go out, but honestly, I’m kinda tired and kinda stressed that we need Jeep scripts ASAP. Seeing that Dodge set really got me thinking… we need to JAM on these scripts and they need to be awesome.

So… Prague hasn’t exactly been a big party… but I’m starting to feel better. And if I can get some work done and some spots shot, I’ll be in good shape.