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Counselor Senior Editor Michele Bell's slanted view of the world.

Life (at ASI) is a Cabaret…

Filed under: Fun, Personal

Hi Everyone —

I’m leaving tomorrow morning to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with my family, who have a home in Sanibel, Florida. While I will be reveling in the warm weather and limiting my mother, Judge Judye (again, she doesn’t preside over trials, but she is judgemental, in that special way moms can be… ; ) ) to three nags per day, I wanted to share with you photos from ASI’s first annual “Roaring ’20s” Cabaret night. An aside: I really don’t know if this will be a yearly event — it’s more just me being hopeful in case the Powers that Be (that’s you, Tim Andrews!) are reading…

With “bootleg” cocktails, gangster hats, feather boas and flappers in abundance, I can tell you that this event — hosted by president/CEO Tim Andrews and ASI’s “Fun Committee,” was one for the books. Now, for those of you who know me, I’m not the type of girl to be overly-effusive, but I had a BLAST! (And not just because wine was involved…). 

The evening was hosted by American Idol finalist Justin Guarini, who could not have been a more gracious, engaging host, and featured some of ASI’s best in-house “talent” singing karaoke. Justin, incidentally, is the spokesperson for industry supplier BamBam’s (asi/38228) trademarked “Rollabana” so he’s already “in the know” about the ad specialty business.

Here, then, are a wide variety of photos — the good, the bad and the disturbing (you’ll know it when you see it, but it involves my tongue hanging out of my mouth like a hungry basset hound). It will definitely explain why people truly enjoy working at ASI, and why many — including myself — stayed for so many years.

Happy Thanksgiving and more next week!


— M

With hundreds of ASI employees in attendance, the company’s first-ever Cabaret Night was a “roaring” awesome time.
(From left): Web designer Steve Hawk, the man working the soundboard for ASI Radio with the skill of Brian Eno, and Craig Veltri, senior Web designer for ASICentral.com, get their gangster on.
Sometimes, the quiet ones are the best surprises… Jason Cissorsky, whom I’ve had the pleasure of seeing sing karaoke to the elegant and refined, “I’m Too Sexy for Your Hat, Too Sexy for Your Cat,” wowed the crowd with his rollicking rendition of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” And for his fabulous efforts — which included a festive jig during the song’s famed instrumental segues — he won “Best Solo” for the night.
Mike Morris leads a bevy of back-up singers to a rousing rendition of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”
(From left): ASI Show advertising coordinator, the one and only Karen Wynn and exhibitor accounts manager Kristen Metzner showing off their miles of smiles.
If there was a prize for snappiest attire, this guy would have won it, hands down.
Amanda Swartz belts out “Black Velvet,” which garnered her the Grand Prize.

Here’s Rich, rocking out to “Addicted to Love.” Just so you know, this is exactly the expression he has on his face when he tries to locate me at shows and has to bellow my name in random bars… ; )

Rich Fairfield, ASI’s senior vice president, publisher and my beloved boss [read: He has a high-tolerance for my bulls**t and antics], emulating the best-dressed man in rock, Robert Palmer, doing “Addicted to Love.” Behind him, as the ever-stoic though supremely sexy chorus line, are (from left): managing editor Joan Chaykin, editor-in-chief Melinda Ligos, director of ESPOnline Candace Hershey and my girl Dana Reaume (LOVE her!!!), ASI’s professional development coordinator. Rich wanted me up on stage, though I declined because I have legs like a corgi.

I love the composition of this shot, taken by my pal Jason Kuttner, of managing editor Joan Chaykin and my boss, ASI publisher Rich Fairfield, during his karaoke rendition of Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love.”

Tim Andrews, making a definitive point — which is not always easy to do while donning a boa… LOL).

ASI president, CEO and kissing bandit Tim Andrews, shown here with the lovely and talented Jessica Fletcher, ASI’s electronic communications coordinator.

One of ASI’s newer charismatic personalities, meet Lori Cohen, shown here on the left, singing a bringing-down-the-house performance of “Nine to Five.”

Michelle Motz and Rob Fiorello took the prize for “Keep Your Day Job” (they had a lot of competition).

Jim Maratea, ASI’s building operations manager, belts out “Born to Be Wild,” a sentiment both he and I share…

My pal Jessica Fletcher, left, shown here with editorial staff writer (and Joe Haley’s “bromance” BFF) Matt George and managing editor Joan Chaykin.

ASI’s distributor sales manager Stan Fellerman, shown here with the lovely Mary Laycock, Dale Denham’s assistant. And for that reason alone, Mary should have had at least three drinks… ; )

Barbara Ambrose, executive assistant to senior vp/publisher Rich Fairfiled, looking fabulous flapper attire. Barbara rocks, and is one of the people who helped decorate for Cabaret Night… Twenty-three skiddo, Barbara!

ASI’s CEO & president, Tim Andrews — proudly sporting a boa — welcomes everyone to ASI’s first Cabaret Evening.

Dale Denham (right) pulled me up on stage to get a photo of the two of us with Justin Guarini. Look at me in the center… I appear to be from the Land of Lilliput.

(From left): Advantages editor Kathy Huston, editor-in-chief Melinda Ligos and associate editor Jen Zorger, all my super-awesome editorial chickies. Interestingly, they are like an ascending scale of loud — Jen being the quietest and Kathy, well, being Homeric.

ASI’s editor-in-chief Melinda Ligos and president/CEO Tim Andrews raise lit candles in support of an encore from Joe Haley.

(From left) Donna Brauning, Tim Andrews’ executive assistant, Joe “The Crooner” Haley and I. I consider it a personal accomplishment that my tongue remained firmly planted in my head.

Editor-in-chief Melinda Ligos and ASI senior vice president and publisher Rich Fairfield, both of whom I report to and both of whom have compared managing me to “attempting to control the wind.” Next time you see them at a show, buy them a sympathy shot.

The tongue wag that launched a thousand “icks.” Here’s me, on the left, inexplicably looking as though I’m going to lick poor Joe Haley, shown here with Melinda Ligos, like taffy. I think if that keeps up, my little Joe-Joe may slap me with a TRO… ; )

Joe Haley, with his tumbler and cigarette props, could be a founding member of the Rat Pack. If only he had the smooth-as-silk way with the ladies…. ; )

Joe Haley, shown here with his new BFF Justin Guarini. Word has it that Joe plans to let his hair “sprout” just like Justin’s! Can. Not. Wait.

And here, my friends, is where the evening took a decidedly wacky left turn… Joe Haley, ASI’s managing editor, star of The Joe Show and one of the three people at ASI who can tell me to “Shush” without fear of evisceration (the other two — in case you were curious — are Christian Brandt, ASI’s executive director of distributor services and Jeremy Young, our IT “guru” and my cocktailing partner in crime) sashayed on stage, donning full tux, hat, tumbler of scotch and (unlit) cigarette, to croon Sinatra’s “My Way.” Now, you should know, Joe CANNOT sing one note; however it was his bravado — complete with a hat-toss and cigarette flick into the crowd — that brought down the house. If I haven’t told you lately, Joe-Joe, YOU ROCK.

Tim Andrews playfully hides behind his boa and gives me one hell of a come-hither gaze — so much so that I blushed and got weak-kneed. ; )

Karyn Coates (Executive Director of E-Media and Member Benefits), whom I will maintain to my dying day bears a striking resemblance to the hottie Cylon “Six” on Battlestar Galactica, shown here with Dale Denham, the guy who once lamented to me that he had never made an appearance on my blog. Well, Dale, the ship has sailed on your anonymity! ; )

Candace Hershey, director of ESP and Dale Denham, Senior vice President — separately, they’re characters; together, they are pistols!

Here, ASI’s President’s Council — the group of senior vice presidents who lead the company and report directly to Tim Andrews — yucking it up to “YMCA” by the Village People, led by Rich Fairfield (left) and senior vice president Dale Denham, someone who never met a mic he didn’t like. ; )

Oh, let me count the ways that I love these boys. Both Jason Kuttner (left) and Tim Glen are charter members — along with my pal Jeremy Young — of “The Joy Stick Club,” as I call ASI’s LAN technology department (due to their rabid adoration of video games like “Quake”), but they are so much more. Jason is the life-saver I call when I’m in places like Guangzhou and Hong Kong when my Blackberry (and I) are melting down. And though there’s not much he can do to placate my psycho state, he always knows how to fix the Crackberry. And Mr. Glen, this boy is one of those wicked-smart people who has sick computer skills and basically keeps ASI’s entire internal technology network up and running. Succinctly, he is totally bad-ass. Rock on, Mr. Glen… ; )

American Idol finalist Justin Guarini — and his Very Prominent Hair — hosted the evening’s events that featured 15 karaoke events.

Justin Guarini, breaks out the guitar to accompany marketing manager Kate Malone, a true signing talent who fronts a band. Kate’s choice of karaoke song was Natalie Merchant, one of my favorites.