Stuff of the Month

Web sites, a book about the advantages of being a Nobody, a laptop that can take a licking and keep on ticking, and Randall Rothenberg’s take on Madison Avenue’s Ad of the Month.

Books: I’m a Somebody — Get Me Out of Here!

Everybody wants to be somebody — even if it’s only for 15 minutes. That’s not just the American Dream: It has become an inalienable right (not to mention the prevailing logic of prime-time TV). The problem is, almost every rise is accompanied by a humiliating fall. The most illustrious Somebody is made to feel like a Nobody at some point. And here’s the twist: In a world where everybody is striving to be Somebody, Nobodies might have the edge. That’s the intriguing argument that Robert W. Fuller, former president of Oberlin College (and a self-described “former Somebody”), makes in his bold new book, Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank (New Society Publishers).


Like a Betty Friedan for the 21st century, Fuller sets out to debunk the “Somebody mystique.” The problem is that whether we idolize J. Lo or J. Welch, our hero worship doesn’t get us any closer to success in our own lives. What’s more, Fuller argues, it obscures the true definition of greatness: In order really to be Somebody (who’s famous for more than being famous), you have to continue to grow, to venture into the unknown, to learn from others who are more expert than you. In other words, you have to be willing to be a Nobody again (and again). Polly LaBarre

Web: Couples, Courts, Krispy kreme

June Brides
It’s not surprising that a site called can help couples prepare for their big day. But the real boon may be for guests: Newlyweds-to-be can direct wedding attendees to an individualized page on the site that displays times, directions, hotel-booking information, and, most importantly, gift registries.

Game, Set, Match
Can’t make it to the June finals of the French Open tennis tournament? You can still visit the famous red-clay courts of Roland-Garros — without going to Paris. At, tennis fans can catch up on the latest scores, track the tournament brackets, and even take a 360-degree “virtual visit” of the courts.

Let Them Eat Doughnuts!
Leave cake to the French. June 2 is National Donut Day, and what better way to honor such a holiday than by visiting Krispy Kreme’s Web site? You can sign up for the “Friends of Krispy Kreme” e-newsletter or watch a 50-second QuickTime video of doughnuts moving along a conveyor belt. And the site offers a wealth of fun facts: to wit, each week, the company fries enough doughnuts to make a line stretching from Los Angeles to New York! Phat!

Gear: Hard Ware

Call it the Mother of All Laptops: a rugged, hermetically sealed portable computer that helped power the world’s first Web-enabled war. Sure, Itronix’s GoBook II runs Windows and does all of the normal things that a run-of-the-mill notebook computer does. But the wireless-ready GoBook II can also withstand being dropped repeatedly, being baked in an oven at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, being shaken like a can of paint, and being drenched with four inches of rain per hour — all while it’s running. And it’s been battlefield-tested in Iraq, so you know it works. The GoBook II retails for $4,500 — and it looks great with your Hummer and camouflage pants. Visit Itronix on the Web ( Ryan Underwood

Randall Rothenberg | Ad of the Month

Absolut’s “Mulit”


There’s an unacknowledged problem with “advertainment”: What it gains in reach over conventional advertising, it surrenders in frequency. A product placement in a movie might attract eyeballs, but few will see it more than once. That’s why “Mulit,” the latest minimovie from Absolut Pictures and its advertising agency, TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York, is so noteworthy. This arch, 12-minute satire of Bollywood musicals tells the Romeo-and-Juliet tale of a hairdresser’s forbidden love for a raja’s daughter. Into the movie, director Ivan Zacharias and writers Lynn Branecky and Joseph Mazzaferro pack a tamarind tree of multi-culti references, from the origins of the 1970s haircut the “mullet” to the fate of Nelson Eddy – Jeanette MacDonald operettas. They also cram in a dizzying number of visual references to the vodka’s bomb-shaped bottle. The commercial not only successfully evolves the celebrated Absolut ad campaign from print to film, it also invites downloading, repeat viewing, and Where’s Waldo – like game playing among its presumably adult audience. “Mulit” turns marketing into a participatory sport. Contact Randall Rothenberg by email (