When I was 18, I worked a little bit at my college paper. This wasn’t like, work work. I wasn’t paid and I didn’t officially apply or interview. I just showed up one day and started doing stuff. Layout, at first. Later, articles. Just whatever nobody else was doing. I would get interviews with people that I had no clue who they were. One, some English spy novelist, was really sweet about it and kindly explained what his fiction was, so I could write a review of his new book. I remembered how nice he was and read more of his books in subsequent years. His name was John le Carré.
(That’s my once-ever celebrity name drop. I talked to a great writer, on a crappy phone overseas landline connection, I had no idea what I was doing and he was really nice and it made me read his books later.)
The college was the University of Southern California, and so we got a lot of movie-related stuff. Invites to preview screenings, promo things for films. Generally just a press kit with cool photos and a plot summary. (These plot summaries often ended up verbatim in reviews in the major newspapers.) Sometimes a coffee cup or T-shirt or that sort.
I usually took any free stuff I could get. That’s me. Several concert tickets. I got in trouble with the arts editor for one of my headlines, referring to a former frontman for The Police giving a lackluster performance at a famous Hollywood outdoor venue:
Sting Stinks Up Bowl
I thought that was pretty funny at 18. I still kinda think it’s funny at 50. And I’m still doing unpaid writing I somewhat stumbled into, and occasionally annoying my editors.
I do get some Twins stuff from writing here, occasionally, and on Friday I got a delivery of their new “M” hat. It’s kind of generic. Nobody on this site seemed too thrilled about it. It’s a decent hat, as hats go. Velcro instead of plastic snaps. The Velcro ones last longer.
This hat came in a really cool box, though!
I’ve seen crematory urns less cool than this box.
And there was a well-done press kit. With this image and caption I just have to highlight:
Note how “old” and “new” are pointed out. Is there a difference in the colors? Barely. Is is “boldly” different? That’s a stretch. So is “alluring mystique,” which is more of a fragrance ad than a jersey one.
Arraez does look good in that outfit. But that’s partially because he’s a good-looking guy. And partially because the photographer got a good picture of him looking “stern, and confident, but not angry.” I could not pull that look off. I’m an average-looking guy, yet I don’t photograph well. Every picture of me is somewhere between “goofy idiot” and “last known photo of suspected cruise ship poisoner.”
(Don’t believe me? I’ve got a photo on LinkedIn. It’s probably the best photo ever taken of me. It’s not great.)
Normally, around this time of year, extra boxes end up being filled with candy and sent to friends in Denmark. Not for their kids. For the grownups. (One of whom took that LinkedIn picture, by the way.) Danes love American sugar sweets.
But I might have to hang on to this box. It could be the box for all my assorted small Twins stuff. The various little buttons, keychains, fishing lures and other doodads I’ve got lying around.
And, like that new M hat and this box, most of it was free promo stuff. I don’t think I’ve actually bought a Twins promo item since 2002 or so. It was all gameday giveaways, or those hats/shirts you get for signing up for a credit card you immediately cancel.
I think, though, it’s going to be a Christmas present box. Not for the Danes. Bless their hearts, I love these people, but they are not baseball people. The problem with marketing baseball overseas is, the rules are kinda arbitrary, and extremely weird if you didn’t grow up knowing them. As is the case with most sports.
The candy for Danes can go in a different box. (Like the larger, plain box this box came in.)
We do have friends who are Twins fans, though. And who, like us, like so many, have struggled with health worries the last few years. They sent an adorable picture of their doggo, Gracie, in a Twins uniform last season, which the kind readers here enjoyed. (And they thought the Target Field poster I got from writing here was neat. I do, too.)
So, very cool Christmas present box.
That’s actually neater than some of the promo junk I’ve accumulated over the years. It’s a thing we can use to package a gift for friends. Which makes me and Mrs. James smile.
Sometimes, the many instances I’ve annoyed my editors are worth it!
Thanks, promo people!