Archive for April, 2012


A while ago one of our prospective clients dropped an idea in our lap and we ran with it. The client was interested in making flash cards for the entire 2012 line-up of a certain European motorcycle company.

As time passed, the client’s excitement for the idea waned, but the ball was rolling at MANVIL and we liked the possibilities. The plans for the cards had them made on coaster type material.

We liked it in concept, but the idea of motorcycle riders using bike themed coasters to nestle their beers in probably didn’t pass muster with the legal department. And although we can’t fault legal for finding issue with drinking and riding, (They should not mix, ever.) ee are a little bummed that the plan was nixed.

We think the cards look pretty damned nice, and we also like the idea of knowing your motorcycle types. As time permits, these might become MANVIL Cards Version R62 for our two wheel riding friends.

Let us know if you can suggest any motorcycles that deserve to be a part of the Motorcycle Icon series. We’ll look into the production possibilities.

 

(Editor’s note: We sure as hell don’t own one, but it sure sounds nice…)

The 2011 Jaguar XKR: A savage in a Seville Row suit

In an age when almost every manufacturer is trying to make a crossover Jaguar has designed the new, very non-crossover XKR to do one thing: inspire passionate driving.

Like the sidelines at a Milan catwalk, there are no bad angles to look at with the XKR. The front end is a testament to speed heritage; smooth, lightly adorned and muscular with the renowned ovoid grill that has been on fast Jags since the 60’s.

The rear is a broad-hipped swath of sculpture with a small blip of a spoiler and tail lamps that float over the four exhaust ports. Those ports ring like the bells of Saint Andrew’s when the hammer is dropped, but more on that later.

The lines from the hood to the tail are the kind of curvaceous visage that some manufacturers have simply chosen to give up on. And rightfully so, because it seems that Ian Callum and his cadre of Jag designers may well have raised the bar far beyond reach. To make the car more drop-dead gorgeous would be near impossible.

A priest seen driving the XKR would be excommunicated for impure thoughts long before the church knew the coffers were bare. It is that good looking.

The interior is no slouch either. Lavishly awash in double-stitched leather and smoothly varnished wood, with hints of brushed aluminum and chromed dials, the layout is as one might expect for a rear wheel drive coupe of this status. Everything is at arms reach, and everything is plainly available, in the finest fashion.

The zinc and stainless steel, periscope-like shifter knob sits center, forward of the armrest. The center stack provides the infotainment and A/C controls all combined into the touch-control screen. Curiously, there are still A/C dials for those who don’t care to use the touch screen to change their zone temperature.

Sitting behind the heated steering wheel, with ample headroom thanks to the 10-way adjustable heated seats, the feeling of luxury consumes the driver. One feels enveloped, almost coddled, but not confined in some firm leather throne. That sense of opulence continues unrelenting, until the ‘Start’ button is depressed.

510 HP. These days it really isn’t all that much power. There are lots of vehicles that tout 500+ horses, but the Jag’s Supercharged V-8 provides more than a hammer blow to the backside, it provides a cavalcade to the senses. The tone of the XKR while revving the engine would shoo an angry bear.

Inside the cabin, a tweak of the very responsive accelerator takes the already warming, heavy burble of the exhaust and skyrockets the throaty rhythm to reveal the engine’s secret. One feels so comfortable inside the cabin of the XKR that that kind of exclamation sends a smile across the driver’s face as opposed to a chill up their spine.

While idling in park the exhaust mumbles quietly as a sound of refined restraint. It is the look of the beauty as she sees she could easily slay all of those around her. Press the arch of a loafer deeply into the gas pedal and all that power is sent directly to the gates, howling wildly, only to be controlled, and sensibly so, by the anti-skid/traction control system and Jaguar’s Active Differential Control. With 510 horses on tap in a rear-wheel drive package in rainy Portland, nobody wants to show off a beautiful car by spinning it out at an intersection or on an off-ramp.

The electric nanny controls the tumult of power to the rear wheels with great ease, and even under very heavy acceleration in very wet conditions the XKR was a blast to drive.

The svelte coupe felt light and nimble in the corners. The steering almost begged to be played with as the cat carved rounds and pushed hard through spaces where fun could be cut from the tedium of Portland’s west hills. It seems that only fools and racetracks might approach the limits of her capabilities.

The lithe two door absolutely ate up pavement, leaving little in the rear-view but objects getting smaller, rapidly. And then the XKR did something only a Jag could do. When it was time to drive like an upstanding citizen, it rode like a Jag.

Not only did the XKR drive like a Jag, with comfort, panache and manners, it did so while whispering silently as though it was trying to hide its real intent. Driving through town the interior noise level was miniscule. Over muddled pavement, rail trestles, and construction sites the loudest noise in the car was a back seat A/C blower, and it was whisper silent.

So maybe Jaguar does build a crossover after all. In the XKR they’ve managed to cross the sublime handling and unrepentant, loin shaking power of a super car with the good looks and sophistication of a two-door luxury tourer.

If you’re in the market for a car that can flex its lithe and extraordinary muscles while dressed in a Savile Row suit, feel free to call Dave Soots at Monte Shelton Jaguar. (503) 224-3232

If there were a reason for MANVIL to be around at all it has everything to do with flashcards.

Initially we saw them as a means to educate kids and perhaps rehabilitate traumatic brain injury sufferers. We haven’t changed the goal, we’ve just continued producing the designs like we had the money to get the flashcard company off the ground, which we don’t, but that’s not important right now.

What is important is that our NEXT series of cards will be Series Sw. 625: Musical Instruments Flashcards.

Why would somebody need these? We’d venture to guess that in some venues, if a roadie were to hand the lead guitarist a Les Paul Custom as opposed to a Flying V or vice-versa, said roady would spend the rest of the evening wandering the streets back to their home, jobless.

Fight unemployment for America’s future Road Travelling Band Support Teams: Let your kid know the difference between a Gibson and another Gibson, or an oboe and a kazoo, or maybe  snare drum and a washboard.

You wouldn’t want to be the one who asks your kid to go get the cowbell only to have them return with the triangle. (And what the hell are you doing with a triangle anyway? Who are you, Martin Short?)

Anyway, that’s why we’re moving forward in Series Sw. 625: Musical Instrument Flashcards.

Those of you out there who are curious about the naming of this product can take the time and listen to the only redeaming track from Def Leppard’s Euro/butt-rock extravaganza High N’ Dry. Enjoy!

We at MANVIL like good design, and good design mixed with the right words makes for great advertising. Sometimes though, you need to take the reigns and lead the horse in another direction through more stern coercion.

While watching Mad Men a few weeks back we were taken by the response of one of the characters Layne Pryce (played by Jared Harris) to an affront made by a wise-assed Pete Campbell. (played by Vincent Kartheiser)

After the younger upstart Campbell insults the very proper Mr. Pryce with a series of ‘off the cuff’ verbal jabs, Mr. Pryce turns the tables asunder by preparing to stuff those jabs back down Campbell’s throat manually.

In a curiously formal and very respectful invitation, as shirt sleeves are being rolled and blood levels are being raised, we see Layne Pryce: Englishman, rope towwer, and Financial Director turn to the last thing we thought we’d see from him, a serious and visceral response to an insult. Apparently there are some things that truly can’t wash off a ducks back. Sometimes they must be knocked off with force.

In the scene that followed the wise-assed Campbell is shut down quickly and with certainty. His quick wit and sassy banter proving unable to defend himself against the focussed jabs and longer arms of the bean-counter Pryce.

So we put this little image together and worked in an amalgum of one of Dave Chappelle’s lines for the Wayne Brady sketch, which is not at all safe for work or kids, but it is funny as hell.

So here’s to old time solutions to problems, may they be faced with a willingness to roll up one’s sleeve and get down to business… with all the energy, but less of the pugilism.

Yeah, we know. Predictive is spelled incorrectly, and that’s kind of the point.

As much as we love our fancy phones, and as much as we appreciate the ability to text, check e-mail, play games, listen to music and view social media sites at any given moment of the day, sometimes the phones go a little too far.

At some point this morning while texting we typed in “Seize the Day” and what came out was not quite what we’d expected.

“Diazepam the Day”

Diazepam? Really!?

Pharmaceuticals aren’t our game, so it took some investigation (on the fancy phone no less) to find out that this depressant has been on the market for a long time, but how does the phone decide to use a word that we don’t even know? We don’t like pills, needles, hospitals or pork pie hats for that matter, but why would the stupid phone choose an antiquated downer as a spelling correction? Or a word that is three letters longer than the one we typed.

Perhaps the mysterious gremlins that inhabit the innards of the phone want MANVIL to take it easy today. (Today’s weather is gorgeous after all!) What are we, high blood pressure heart risks? No, we’re a pretty mellow design firm, in a currently beautiful town, with little to no need for short-term relief of symptoms related to anxiety disorders.

Maybe it is time to return to the time of the cell-phone.

 

Portland Oregon isn’t a huge metropolis. It’s a city, make now doubt, but in order to walk across the ‘business’ side of town, it might take 45 minutes, not four hours.

We at MANVIL kinda like it this way. An easy walk ensures easier travel via automobile.

We have long believed that a meeting anywhere in Portland can be attended on time if provided 20 minutes of travel time. (Put that in your pipe and smoke it Seattle!)

Back on subject, Portland is a relatively small city, and that allows some of MANVIL’s customers the opportunity to meet one another on good terms.

When our client Link-Wall had the chance to meet our other client City Farm we were able to broker the kind of amicable meeting that any design team loves to see. Clients meet, intermingle and join forces to help the consumer and their own bottom line.

City Farm gets a raised bed, and Link Wall gets a display case in hot new shop. Win/win. Hopefully everybody involved will want all new graphics and to buy us lunch and maybe even a cold one… or two.

As always we wish our clients the best of success, and we look forward to working with them in the future.

Cheers!

 

We at MANVIL have been working pretty closely with some of our new clients. (Linkwall and City Farm) And we’re being literal when we say that. The “you get one end we’ll get the other” kinda literal, because one person could do the lifting alone, but teamwork makes for light lifting. And that’s just how we like it.

As we were at it, and recognizing that Portlanders do a lot of things well, with pride and in town, we noticed that nobody really makes mention of being Portlandic. And when we say that we don’t mean passive aggressive with a grumbly voice.

In a town where we have more strip-clubs, coffee bars, brew pubs, restaurants, people who use libraries and college educated people from other states per capita, it’s time to make a shout out if you will.

Whatever it is that is made here, multi-tools, sunglasses, gloves, athletic gear, stone walls, shoe design, notebooks, or stuff with birds on it (ugh) make note. This Northwestern bastion of smart, well read, beer drinking, weirdos and provocateurs shall say aloud: We may have been raised in town, or somewhere else, but we were all assembled in Portland.

Celebrate it. The mark is right on point, but the circle is a little left of center… and maybe a little high.

Even in the easy-going mindset of the Northwest, every race has somebody who came in either first, second, third or somewhere thereafter.

Hopefully not DNF (Did Not Finish) because that can lead to somewhat severe problems in a frigid water race.

I’d rather be DFL (Dead Freaking Last) than take my chances floating in mother nature’s cold Northwestern rivers.  Even a super slow boat in a race is preferable to death by hypothermia or the seasonal fishermen who ply the waters of the Willamette like meth dazed survivalists in tin bathtubs. (BTW: Hat’s off to the US Coast Guard for shadowing the racers)

For the motivated and the strong of will there are these simple awards for their efforts and displays of paddling prowess. First. Second. Third.

Perhaps we could make an award for DFL, but hopefully, with more practice and some luck, they can get next year’s awards…

MANVIL doesn’t relate to a lot of characters on TV.

Sure, we’d like to be as suave and intelligent as Don Draper, but without the karmic repercussions, the ‘untidy’ history and the need to keep looking over out shoulder at our sordid lie of a life.

It might be great to be as fun-loving, wily and witty as Jack Donaghy, but without the burden of the old boys network, the cut-throat business mind-set, and the need of a tuxedo after six. (Maybe we’re farmers, after all?)

There is, however, one man on the small screen that we can relate to. A man to whom work is work, and play is… well… finer work still.

Parks and Recreation is a show about a small mid-western town and its bureaucracy. It’s a funny show en toto, with colloquial humor and well scripted jibes, but we watch it for one character: Ron Swanson. A talented woodworker, with a penchant for the red meats in life and avoiding the absurdity of stepping in the way of a bureaucracy run amok, Swanson’s woodwork is his own mental Valhalla.

And why wouldn’t it be, if he could use this: The Swanson Speed Square. Appropriate enough for the man of the same name, it’s a tool that makes forming wood a past-time still OK for the office.

Nick Offerman, who plays Swanson on Parks and Rec, evidently spends a lot of time doing wood work. His efforts are somewhat renowned, (Offerman Woodshop) and that allows MANVIL to like Swanson/Offerman even more. (Even though they’re in California)

 

 

 

It’s in the best interest of everybody who tries to race anything to put a plan into action. Great planning can lead to awesome success and victory, but it can also be a complete pain in the ass if you fail to win.

Oh, we’ve tried with great intetnions to plan for winning this thing we call the Portland Adult Soapbox Race. We’ve also failed so abysmally that we’ve cursed openly for what seemed like days. Keen ideas put forth by those who mean well, but do not have degrees in engineering makes for cars that might just go like hell, but self-destruct violently at speed. (Been there, done that. Surprisingly don’t have the tee.)

So, remarkably, we are putting the request out for a wooden part of this years car. The other parts are more integral, and will be bought new, but this part, all fashion over form, is something that must be chose from options that are out there. We’ll be approaching the boys at Harrity Tree Specialists for our need this year, and we’ll see whether the forward progress will get a car built for us in time for the August 18th (or so) race.

Unless of course you have a great crotch you want to offer the effort…

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Portland, OR United States
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Wind: SW at 6 mph

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