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

With Glasses Half Full …

Filed under: Editorial, Fun, Personal

Happy Autumn!

As summer is my favorite season, I’m less than thrilled to see it go but welcome the positive aspects of fall, like the latest crop of shoes and boots and the premier of some great new TV shows (more on that later)! 

Here at Counselor, we’re beginning to think about our awards season and have decided to add a new category to our Spirit Awards to honor industry pros who are using new media platforms for their self-promo campaigns. As an example, check out the latest in a series of Sweda’s hysterical YouTube videos for its 24-hour service. [Click here to watch.]

I’m sure there are many companies in the industry crafting cool, creative self-promos using innovative forms of multi-media, so keep an eye out for our call for nominations in February. Here at ASI, one of my favorites is this video on the subject of athletic apparel for Wearables magazine, starring staff writer and our reigning editorial department kook, Matt George. Matt, who’s in his early 20s, reminds me of a big, goofy chocolate lab who pants and gets all excited at the idea of chasing a stray ball or having his belly rubbed. The last 30 seconds of this video make me cackle each time I watch it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2g1bBzKdDE&feature=player_embedded

Speaking of fun, I — and my colleagues here at ASI — always try to stay positive and look on the bright side, despite turbulent financial and market conditions for the economy and our industry. We’re definitely glass-half-full kind of people. As an example, ASI president/CEO Tim Andrews graciously hosted a soiree at his home in Princeton, NJ, last week for the company’s senior leaders. It was a fun and festive occasion, and a great opportunity to relax with work friends you’re too busy to spend time with on a daily basis. I’ve been invited to Tim’s house before, but wasn’t able to make it due to traveling. As Tim greeted me at the door, I told him it was “my first time” and we both burst out laughing, knowing I don’t get to utter a phrase like that too often.

Tim’s reason for hosting the party was quite simple: “In an uncertain time, and certainly these have been uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to thank the people who matter — and for me there’s hardly a better way I know than to invite them to come over for a little food, some drink and to be able to spend some time with their colleagues in a social environment,” he says.

Here are some photos from the party, featuring some of your favorite ASI characters, I’m sure. Post a comment and let me know who your favorite ASI staffer is and why!

(From left): Randi Bromberg, director of marketing for the ASI Show; Karen DiTomasso, director of sales for the ASI Show; Chris Lovell, senior vice president of sales; and Jodi Tashman, assistant director of ASI’s coordination department enjoy the afternoon and the sounds of the jazz trio in Tim’s backyard. Keith Tuskey (left), ASI’s chief technology officer, and Tim Andrews, ASI’s president/CEO, have known each other for years — they worked together prior to ASI at Dow Jones and Primedia.
This jazz trio played at Tim’s garden soiree. Their official name is Michael Yang Trio, but I will be calling them “The Three Adorable Yet Annoyingly Young Band Boys.” Representing the second and third generation of family ownership of ASI are Matthew Cohn (left), the company’s vice chairman, and Norman Cohn, its chairman of the board.
Dan Dienna (left), ASI’s associate publisher of digital products & catalogs, shown here with Andy Hornstein, director of business applications. Making Dan laugh is one of my favorite things to do here at ASI, because for a guy who’s 6′ tall, he has a giggle like a 12-year-old schoolgirl. Leo Peysakhovich, who has the coolest-sounding title — chief data architect; Alex Khais, director of project management; Keith Tuskey, chief technology officer; and Seth Kusiak, director of Web infrastructure. As all my favorite techies at ASI report to Keith, I hereby crown him, “The King of the Coders, Tech Geeks & Data Nerds.”
Scott Fuhr (left), director of corporate communications and Ron Ball, ASI’s chronically eccentric vice president of supplier sales. Ron has a singular talent of taking a word as innocuous as “the” and finding a way to make it a saucy double entendre. Gene Rahill (left), sales director of membership and ASI CreditConnect, and Dan “The Man” Brown, director of distributor services. Should any of you see Gene at a show, step aside and let him pass so you can take a gander at his very distinctive stragger — a new word I’m making up to describe his strut and swagger. His walk deserves its own theme song, perhaps something like this.
Gene, apparently mesmerized by shiny lights, and Jake Krolick, ASI’s marketing manager for online products and services. In every picture I take of Jakey, he either looks like a degenerate rock star or a crazed loon. Switching things up, he looks relatively normal here — but wait for it … . Dale Denham, ASI’s senior vice president, and Candace Hershey, executive director of the ESPOnline Information Team and everyone’s favorite industry celebutante.
Jonathon Schwartz (left), operations manager for ASI’s membership information team, and Haitham Barakat, director of production. Sometimes when I see Jonathon in the halls here at ASI, he throws me a smirk as if to say, “What the hell kind of trouble are you up to???” Jake “Captain Excess” Krolick, doing his best salty pirate face, and my editorial pal Kathy Huston, editor of Advantages magazine. As Kathy’s office is right next to mine, managing editor and star of The Joe Show Joe Haley refers to our area as, “The Bat Cave.”
(From left): Karen DiTomasso; Karyn Coates, executive director of E-Media and Member Benefits; and Randi Bromberg. I call Karyn “Six” because she reminds me of the femme fatale Cylon from Battlestar Galactica. Gary Alexis (left), ASI’s director of information technology and my pal Seth Kusiak. Seth is really very nice and very sweet — despite the fact that in this photo, he looks as though he’s draining what’s left of my soul with his eyes.
Here’s my pal Colin Graf, who’s so even-keel and mild-mannered I’m often tempted to take his pulse. Colin is ASI’s marketing manager for supplier sales and always looks as though he just swallowed the canary in photos. (From left, standing): Larry Basinait aka, “The Basinaitor,” director of ASI’s research services; Tim Andrews; Steve Oswald, an art director for ASI’s marketing department; and Jack Flohr (seated), director of marketing for membership services.
Tom Augeri (left), director of marketing for supplier services, and Vince Bucolo, ASI’s chief operating officer. Vince has always been one of my favorites at ASI (and not just because he’s a Stones fan and a Dead Head from way back) but because for years, I’ve been telling him I’m going to marry his very cute and much-younger-than-me son (he’s a college senior… MEOW, says this lazy cougar!). The thought of me as a daughter-in-law always produces a look of profound terror on Vince’s face. Party-goers enjoying Tim’s beautifully-landscaped back yard.
My editorial handler Joe Haley, striking his superhero stance, is able to leap (very) small buildings in a single bound. Last, but certainly not least, we have two of my favorite BFFs at ASI: Ron Ball (left) and Christian “Tigerbeat” Brandt, executive director of distributor services. As Tim Andrews is fond of saying, these are the only two people who, by comparison, make me seem respectable. ; )

Cheers, and more next week! — M

PS: By now those of you who read my blog and my tweets (@ASI_MBell) know that I’m a TV junkie. As I promised myself I would only add two new shows to my already-crowded roster (really, more than that and I would qualify as a crazy cat-lady recluse, just to keep up with all the TV I watch!), here are my picks: For a sitcom, the show Modern Family is hil-arious. It premiered last Tuesday and “The Lion King” moment at the end had me roaring… Click here to watch the 30-minute episode (it’s worth it). For a drama, I went with FlashForward, which premiered last Thursday. I vacillated about whether or not to commit to this one, because it’s premise is a little unnerving, creepy and disjointed and I already get my weekly mind-f**k from Lost. However, having watched the premier, I’m in. In the show, everyone in the world passes out at exactly the same time for two minutes and 17 seconds, which — as you can imagine — wreaks widespread havoc. The last scene from Thursday’s episode alone had me hooked.